Friday, August 8, 2008

Braj Bhoomi Mohini: Kamvan The Blossoming Creeper of Pure Passion

Lord Krishna as the Supreme Lover

Lord Krishna is construed as the quintessential romantic hero with tenderness and teasing and the beauty of his dark body, inflaming the desire of the individual soul for union with God. Shri Naradji expressed the love of Braj’s cowherdesses in the Bhatkti Sutra and enlightened us about their longing for him. The Lord is revealed as a supreme lover towards whom the enraptured village girls with whom he sported in his youth are passionately drawn. They long for union with their teasing, insistent and elusive paramour; seen as the object of longing and love.

The word kam is not worldly or lustful. Lord Shankar had earlier turned it to ashes. Lord Krishna makes us cross a new threshold of awareness that he exists intensely in our hearts when we sing his praise and dwells in our longing for him, giving rise to kam or passion which is pristine and pious in the earthly dialect. It can only be savoured by gifted devotees not flawed by conceit or pride but striving towards complete absorption in the joy of Krishna.

Gopis Represent Krishna's Hungering Devotees
Seen as the focus of the ardour of the gopis, symbolic of the yearning of his hungering devotees; love for Krishna is interpreted as the cry of the enraptured soul for God.

This exquisite passion increases by the day because love is also always on the rise. To think of mundane lust regarding the gopis would be wrong; their sole concern is to see the Lord united and joyous in love. They adorn themselves to attract Krishna, secretly stash the milk, curd and butter so that Krishna can relish them, venture to the banks of the Yamuna and hear his melodious flute to give him joy. The gopi bhava (love flowing towards the Lord) which leads us to Krishna is love and pristine kam, the zenith of spiritual awareness. The undivided whole that is God requires the absorption of its parts to be restored to wholeness once again.

Krishna as Gopivallabhava
Gopivallabha or beloved of the gopis is one of Lord Krishna’s epithets. These cowherdesses representing souls in search of salvation are hungry for the fulfillment of their love.As Udhavaji says that so steeped in the love of Krishna are the hearts of the gopis that while others may only aspire to reach the state of oneness with the Lord, these simple cowherdesses have already attained it. The longing of the gopis and the calming of their desires by Lord Krishna is centered within Kamvan.

Vrinda Devi
Earlier it was also called Vrindavan as the Vrinda Devi resides here. Kamvan is the region referred to in the Mahabharata. Pandavas lived in secrecy and their statues are present. The Dharam Koop and Dharam Kund have been named after Dharamraj Yudhishtar. King Kamsen attained sidhi in Kamvan. The idols of Nathjii, Gokul Chandramaji and Madanmohanji are resplendent as Thakurjis. Shri Gopinathji is the Supreme Lord of this domain.

Lord Krishna frolicked here in his childhood. Merely by bathing in this forest all desires are easily fulfilled. According to the Vishu Purana there are innumerable small pilgrimage sites; 84 teerths, 84 temples and 84 pillars have been constructed by King Kamsen. It is said that the deities and demons together got 168 pillars built.

Vimal Kund:
King Vimal ruled the town of Champak in Sindhu. By the grace of Shri Yagvalakyaji several daughters were born to his six thousand queens.These girls lived in Ayodhya during the incarnation of Lord Rama. In search of a suitable husband (Lord Krishna) for his daughters, the king sent an envoy to Mathura where the people were terrified of Kansa. Lord Krishna agreed to go to Champak and soon enough took King Vimal’s daughters to Braj. The girls merrily sported in playing ball with Lord Krishna.

Dark-Hued Krishna Dallying with King Vimal's Daughters
Later Krishna duplicated himself as many times and romantically dallied with each of them. The tears of joy which streamed down their cheeks gathered in a pond famed as Vimal Kund.Visiting this place, drinking its water and praying here expiates all sins.

Another tale throws light on the appearance of this kund. During the month of Chatur all pilgrimage sites come and reside in Braj. Once when Pushkar Raj did not arrive Lord Krishna meditated upon Yogmaya (the creative power of the supreme spirit). Instantly water sprang from earth and a ravishing, pristine beauty manifested. Shri Krishna gave her the boon of being worshipped as Vimla Devi and affirmed that this kund would be renowned by her name. Whosoever bathes here would be freed of all sins and his mind purified. This pond is on the southern corner of the village and encompassed by several temples like, Dauji, Surya Dev, Neel Kanteshwar Mahadevji, Shri Giverdhannathji, Shri Madangopalji, Shri Kamvan Vihari, Shri Vimla Devi, Shri Murli Manohar, Shri Gangaji and Shri Gopalji.

Shri Jai Krishna Das Baba (Vimal Kund):
He was a great devotee who stayed at Vimal Kund and survived by begging for alms.

Shri Krishna, Balram & Sakhas
The mind was paramount in his nature of worship. Once restless while praying he stepped out; stupefied to spot Shri Krishna, Balram and other cowherds who requested him for food and had a feast. A little later when he came out of his hut to sight the group they were nowhere to be seen. Baba was disheartened but Shri Krishna assured him of his return. The very next day an old lady came with her son and handed him over since she was unable to look after the child. This miracle transformed his life and he was forever captivated by the madhurya or sweet love of this boy who seemed just like Shri Gopal.

Charan Kund:
All of a sudden Shri Shyam Sunder and Shri Radharani once arrived and sat at this pond. Their feet splashing the water, both of them playfully dallied with each other. The site blessed with the touch of their divine feet is famed as Charan Kund.

Dharam Kund:

Shri Narayan
Lord Narayana resided in the dharam or virtuous form at this kund. Beautifully splendid, this site is renowned. Bathing here on Krishanashtami in the month of Bhadra has a definite significance.

Mani Karnika:
The power of Lord Vishwanath and Lord Shankar is perceptible here.

Shri Yashoda Kund:

Shri Yashoda with Baby Krishna
Shri Vallabhacharyaji saw Madhusudan and Yashoda Kund. Lord Krishna the son of Shri Yashodaji came from Nand Gram and relaxed here. Taking cows for grazing was a quotient of Shri Krishna’s daily regime; it was not compulsory for the Braj Raj to do so but certainly a good excuse. He went for joyous abandon with his gopikas, spreading joy as he dallied with them. And these cowherdesses on some pretext or the other ventured to the forest bowers to delight in Lord Krishna’s madhurya or loving tenderness. Early in the morning the whole lot of them, Shri Krishna, cows and cowherds would get ready to savour these escapades.

Yashodaji, a doting mother could not bear the day-long separation. She would send chak through one of Krishn’a friends and at times go herself to catch a glimpse of her son. Overwhelmed with affection, he would run towards her wherever he may be and snuggle up to her. The meeting site of Shri Yashoda and Kanhaiya became renowned as Yashoda Kund. Bathing here leads to enlightenment of Krishna worship.

Shri Narad Kund:

Shri Narad ji
Naradji is known as the heart of Lord Krishna, with his vina always resonating with devotional songs for the Supreme Being. Restless for a glimpse of the Lord, he was ecstatic on sighting the madhurya or loving tenderness of Lord Krishna at this pond in Braj.

Setubandh Kund:

Shri Ram in the Treta Yuga
Everyone was having a good time, as they merrily joked along. Braj denizens were keen to sight the Lord’s leela or divine play in the Treta Era. It is said that Lord Krishna enacted all the miraculous feats and bestowed them with the power of perception so that they could view the entire scenario. The site is famed as Setubandh Kund.

Luk-Luk Kund:

The Luk-Luk Kund
The Luk-Luk Kund is situated here, where the Lord hid and later manifested on the mount, playing the mellifluous flute. Shri Krishna, his beloved Shri Radha and the Braj Gopikas are forever engrossed in some amusing escapades. Today it was the round of playing hide and seek, with Krishna’s turn to find them. Shri Radha hid in a secluded nikunja or bower along with her sakhis, Lalita and Vishakha. When he touched Shri Radha on spotting her, she was startled. They both were now lost in a romantic dalliance. Weaving this sweet tale in its environs, the site is lovable. Kamlakar Sarovar, Jal Krida Kund, Dhyan Kund and Tapt Kund are nearby.

Charan Pahari:

Charan Pahari
All of a sudden while grazing cattle with his cow-herds, Lord Krishna ventured to Charan Pahari. Charmed, he came to fulfill the love of the hungering Braj Gopikas. The breeze blew his pitambar which the sakhis spotted instantly from a distance and gathered here. Making their swamini or devotional ideal Shri Radha sit next to the Lord they absorbed their amorous frolic at this celestial sight. At times praising the Lord’s diadem and sometimes Shri Radha’s blue saree, the duo’s love-laden eyes, vanamala and kanthi the sakhis were totally enraptured by the scenario. A boulder of this mount imprinted the footprints of their divine love on its heart and is known as the rendezvous of Shyam Sundar and the Braj Gopikas.

Vihval Kund:
The flute in the hands of Krishna is more than a musical instrument; it is the breath of love. Its melody attracts the cows and draws the gopis out of their homes for a romantic dalliance with the Lord. Hearing its mellifluous sound the enraptured village girls yearn for a glimpse of him. Priyaji Shri Radha on hearing this call to eternity came to a nikunja. The greed of sighting her beloved Lord unnerved her every moment. Not able to bear her delicious anguish Lord Krishna soon came close to her. Vihval Kund narrates the ethereal intimacy of their union. The kunds or ponds of Shyam, Lalita, Vishakha, Maan, Mohini and Bhalbhadra are close by.

Pichlini Shila:
The Pichlini Shila
Yogis, Munis and saints do austere penance for years to catch a glimpse of Shyam Sundar but can’t attain him easily. Lord Krishna is persistent as he pesters his mother to cross the threshold of Nand Baba’s stairs. Stepping out, the same Lord along with his sakhas is delighted to slide on a pichlini shila or slippery boulder. Blessed by God’s touch the boulder is a source of joy for us.

Kam Sarovar:

The Kam Sarovar
The delights of Paradise are reflected as if by a cosmic mirror onto the Kam Sarovar, a site of the gopis amorous dalliance with Lord Krishna. Who can possibly strive to describe the good fortune of these cowherdesses whose passions he aroused. Every moment of theirs’ is dedicated to him; they churn the curd so that he can savour it, forever craving for a glimpse of the Lord. Lord Krishna is the focus of the ardour of the gopis, the object of their longing and love. Their passion is pious and love is pristine, with not a trace of self-gratification or sensual pleasure.

Embodiments of love, their longing for him is in fact the cry of the enraptured soul for union with the divine. The undividided whole that is god, requires the absoption of its parts. Gopivallabha or beloved of the gopis is one of Krishna's epithets. Kam Sarovar is famed as the site of celestial passion.

Surbhi Kund (Shri Vallabhacharyaji’s Baithak):

Shriman Mahaprabhuji
Close to Shri Nand Koop beneath a tree is the baithak or seating site of Shriman Mahaprabhuji where the environs of Shrimad Bhagwat protect its divinity till date. When Shrimadacharyaji arrived he thought of staying on when the purohit revealed that an evil spirit infests this site and takes the person’s life who dwells here. Next morning when a devotee went for washing Acharyaji’s clothes at the pond he saw the spirit and screamed. Mahaprabhuji narrated the story of the ghost’s previous birth. This Brahman stayed in Braj with great grandeur and took back the land earlier donated by him. Because of this wicked deed he turned into an evil force. Soon enough by the grace of Mahaprabhuji the Brahman was freed from this form. Bathing here all of us can fulfill our heart’s desires.

Bhojansthali where Lord Krishna had a meal with his sakhas is close by. It is said that Shri Shankracharyaji had darshan of Shri Krishan’s gang of cow-herd friends at this site.

Vyomasur Kund:

Lord Krishna Triumphs Over Vyomasur
Lord Krishna exudes madhurya through his acts and gestures. Loving tenderness, mellifluous sounds of his flute, innocent pranks all add up to a sweetness which defines his love. Now the ruler of the gopis’ hearts is now the destroyer of demonic forces. When Lord Krishna was delightedly playing the sport of hide-and-seek with his sakhas, Vyomasur a demon sent by Kansa, in the form of a cow-herd entered their group. Gradually he shut many of the sakhas in a mountain’s cave. Krishna recognized him soon enough and nabbed him. Vyomasur, the son of Mayasur, exhibited his true evil form and the Lord killed him, releasing his sakhas from the cave. The site gave salvation to the demon. Laxmi Kund and Prahlad Kund are nearby.

Rati Keli Kund:
The kund has been made for Rati Keli, a very dear sakhi, of the Lord. She bathes here daily. It augments the good fortune of all.

Shri Kameshwar Mahadev:
Getting rid of all worldly desires, Kameshwar Mahadev blesses us with the pious love of Lord Krishna. Resplendent in the form of a chetrapal or guard the idol is enshrined in the north-east corner of the village.

Gokul Chandramaji (Thakur Svarupa):

Thakur Gokul Chandramaji
With God’s grace the svarupa was obtained from the waters of Sri Yamunaji at Brahmand Ghat by a Kshatriya woman. She handed him over to Shri Manmahabrahu Vallabhacharyaji who in turn gave the Thakurji’s devotional service to his disciple Narayandas Brahmachari. After the disciple went to Golok the idol was entrusted to Gosain Vithalnathji and then on to Raghunathji, Gosainji’s fifth son. The fear of the Mughals led to Gokul Chandramji being taken first to Jaipur and then to Bikaner. These days the idol is the centre of attraction for all Vaishnavas in Kamvan.

Shri Madan Mohanji:

Thakur Madan Mohanji
Gosain Vithalnathji had handed over the devotional service of this Thakurji to his seventh son, Shri Ghanshyamji. To escape from the Mughals’ brutalities the descendants of Ghanshyamji took him to Jaipur and due to lack of proper arrangement onwards to Bikaner. When Gokul Chandramaji was brought to Kamvan, Madan Mohanji also came to this region.

Dauseras (Devsheersh Sthan):

Devsheersh Sthan
Along with sakhas, Shri Dama, Subal and Madhumangal, Lord Krishna ventures here daily to graze cows. Once the deities were keen to have a glimpse of the Lord and his sakhas, which is not feasible in Devlok. All the deities descended on Braj and were amazed to behold the beauty and madhurya of the Lord with his sakhas. The Divine Incarnate was merrily roaming in the forests and tending his cows. Renowned as Devsheersh Sthan, the site recounts this earlier history. It is located on the north of Lathavan.

Samri Khera (Samihi Khera, Surya Patan Van):
One should journey here in the month of Shravan on Krishna Dwadashi. During the Treta Yuga, petrified of Ravana, Surya Narayan descended to earth for protection from Lord Rama. It is believed that Lord Krishna’s sakhi, Samri, was associated with this village. We can visit Gopal Kund, Gopal Mandir, Surya Kund and Bihariji in its vicinity.

Paramdara (Pramodna):

Krishna Stealing Butter
Innocent pranks, lyrical softness and loving tenderness all add up to the madhurya of Lord Krishna. Now he is adamant to savour butter and raw sugar from his mother and now relishes butter as he loots it around; at times wandering in Nandraiji’s courtyard with the tinkling of his anklets. Exuding joyous abandon in Braj, he prances along with his dear sakhas. The gopis witness his romantic dalliances as they long for his company. The site woven with the Lord’s pastimes and recreational pursuits is known as Paramdara. Shri Damsakha and Krishna Sarovar are worth a visit.

Aadi Badri:
It is known as the penance site of Shri Badri Narayanji. Only Lord Krishna’s close devotees can savour his leelas or playful dalliance and that too by his grace. Embellished with dense foliage and nestled within a row of mountains this place is celestial. Once when the Brajwasis were keen to visit Lord Badrinarayan, Lord Krishna got Nandraiji and Brajwasis here to have his darshan. The Alaknanda River flows in the site renowned as Aadi Badri.

Navneet Parvat (Kadam Kanan):

The Kadamb Kanan
The sweet fragrance and charming wealth of the kadamba trees is famed at every site of Braj. Shri Shyam Sundar, with his beloved Shri Radha and their entourage of sakhis are eternally engrossed in romantic dalliances beneath the dense foliage of these kadamba trees. During the Jhoolan Utsav (swing festival) the tree is very useful for the Braj Gopikas.Dhval Mount and Navneet Mount reminding us of dark-hued Shri Krishna and fair-complexioned Shri Radha, are close by. Indrauli Gram is not far, where God Indra meditated upon Shri Krishna and was blessed.

Guhana (Gauhristi Van):

Guhana or Gauhrishti Van
Lord Krishna coming to graze cows with his sakhas revels in some new spirited antic everyday. The Lord is busy looting milk, curd and buttermilk or bantering with sakha Subal while the cows wander far away in the process. At this site he calls out to the cows by their respective names making them return. Shyam and Gopal Kunds are located here.

Burhe Badri:
A little ahead of Aadi Badri, in the midst of a row of mountains and forests, Burhe Badri Narayan is resplendent. These series of mountains are often called Gandh Madan Parvat with the pilgrimage sites of Haridwar, Laxman Jhoola, Kankhal and Rishikesh nestled within.

The sight of Lord Krishn’s leelas is not easily attainable even for Devraj Indra. Once, Kanav Muni longing for a glimple of the Lord came to Braj. Since Lord Krishna was wandering along with his sakhas and cows in the forest, he did austere penance and was blessed with divine sight to perceive the Lord. Kanav Muni, Panihari and Shri Kunds are visible.

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