The Brajbalas amuse him by their amorous frolics and today they decided to deck him like a woman with the Krishna in their midst, bowing to their wishes. Someone sang a beautiful pada, and others did shangar on him. One of them strung a veni of flowers, another darkened his eyes, yet another adorned a bindi on his forehead; enraptured by his madhurya or sweetness. When Shri Radhaji came with Lalita and Vishakha she couldn’t recognize the new sakhi. Soon she figured out his disguise and the ambience resonated with sounds of laughter.
Just ahead is the village of Shekhar Gopa, where the gopis strung flowers together to adorn Shri Krishna’s curly locks.The Brajbalas and their Kishori Shri Radha tenderly express their love for Krishna who is grateful to them. The selfless love of the gopis makes the lord reciprocate by pleading for a bit of buttermilk, teasing them in the process and imparting joy.
Defeat and triumph are unique traits of love and important quotients of the love spectrum. Not bound by any fixed context, the two are different dimensions of love imparting pleasure and joy. Shri Krishna’s several leelas or divine play have been enacted emotionally in this forest, wherein he lost and Shri Radha won, embracing his feet when he was victorious. Shri-Radha Krishna and their kaya-vyuha sakhis are forever captivated by these romantic dalliances. Some rasiks have acknowledged Khelan Van and Shergarh as one but actually both sites are adjacent to each other.
Shri Ram Ghat:
Imparting love to the gopis at night, Lord Balramji stayed here for the Chaitra and Vaishakh months. Living in Dwarka both Shi Krishna-Balram longed for mother Yashodaji, Nandbaba and their lovable cowherdesses. Once Lord Krishna sent Balramji to Vraja to ask about their well-being and get news of his adorable friends.Questioning Balramji about Krishna did not satiate the gopis' pathos of longing but memories of his romantic escapades made them steeped in his joyous love. Balramji sighted the ethereal banks of the Yamuna bathed in moonlight, saw the intense desire of the Brajbalas, with blossoming flowers all around, and the rustling fragrant breeze as it blew over the environs. Precisely then Varuni Devi sent by Varun Devta (god of the waters or ocean) flew in amidst the trees and blessed the entire forest with its sweet water.
Balramji took along his herd of gopis and drank from the stream. His eyes intoxicated; adorned with the vijantimala, ecstatic on hearing their melodious song he was lost in a pleasurable dalliance. During this escapade he called out to Yamunjaji but being Shri Krishna’s beloved she refused. Angered, he pulled her with the end of his plough and dragged her to this sensuous site. Till date the holy river leaves its natural course and flows at the Shri Ram Ghat.
Shri Manityanandji’s Emotional Frenzy:
Journeying in Braj when Shri Manityanandji reached Ram Ghat he danced in ecstasy; overpowered by divine madness, tears streamed down his cheeks and he did stuti of Shri Yamunaji as well.
Stringing several floral ornaments to adorn the Lord, the sakhas were delighted thus giving the site its name. Wiping off the shangar done by the sakhas led it to being called Nivaran Van as well.
The forest is the means of Shri Krishna’s livelihood because of its green pastures where his wealth of cows graze.
Deeply attached to its environs, he is seen resting beneath the dense foliage, loitering around, decking himself with blossoming flowers, relishing the gunja shrub and wearing its garland around his neck. Gunjavan abounding with gunja bushes is very dear to him.
Brahmaji was infatuated once and on coming out of this delusion, repentant about the shameful act. Doing austere penance he prayed to avert this fault.
Lord Krishna is Brahma, Godhead of the Universe. A performer, he does what should be done as well as what shouldn’t. His isolated romantic dalliances are extremely pristine and stripped of lust. Though alone, his amorous frolic is collective. Present in several bodies and one mind when he indulges in love sport it is conceptualized as one dalliance. All gopis eagerly desirous of belonging to the Lord amidst dancing, singing and amorous frolics were enchanted in this forest leading to its name Vihar Van.
Shat Koti Gopika Raas Mandala:
I make obeisance to the hundreds of gopis who accompany Lord Krishna. The mystical rendezvous imparts delight to even deities.
Bhandir Vat (Akshay Vat):
Shri Krishna-Balram along with their sakhas go to graze cows and indulging in various sports spread joy. Today while wandering they came to Bhandir Vat on the Yamuna banks. With the cows grazing, the brothers were busy in their sported antics when demon Pralambasur entered their group. Shri Krishna-Balram led different gangs. According to the game’s rules the side which lost had to carry the other side’s sakha on his back to a certain distance.
In the guise of a cowherd the demon sneaked into the group. Carrying Balramji on his back he fled. Initially Balramji was scared when Pralambasur transformed to his terrifying form but he instantly remembered his valour and killed him. All the cowherds were delighted and deities showered flowers.
Munjatavi (Aara, Ishtikatvi and Bhandirvan):
Shri Krishna-Balram were engrossed in play with their gopas and the cows wandered far away while grazing. The two were distressed on not seeing them but finally spotting their hooves’ prints and grass eaten by them they reached the dense forest. Shri Krishna called out to the lowing cows by their respective names. In the meanwhile this forest of reeds had caught fire. The gopas were petrified by the forest fire and entreated their beloved Krishna for protection.
The Lord told them not to worry and shut their eyes, instantly swallowing the flames. Opening their eyes the sakhas found themselves near Bhandir Vat, sure now that with the grace of Yogmaya (creative power of the supreme spirit, personified as the daughter born to Yashoda at the time of Krishna’s birth) their Krishna was a deity. Inhaling fire led to the site’s name Munjatavi.
Gopi Ghat and Tapovan:
Who can possibly describe celestial Braj where the black bees buzz in the nikunjas, peacocks dance in ecstasy and birds sing passionately? Herein Lord Krishna played his mellifluous flute which is the breath of love and a call to eternity. When the gopis heard even a single note they know no other loyalty no other duty but to find him, engulfed by surges of exquisite desire to possess him. His lotus-like face, lyrical tenderness, delicate movements, bright yellow garments mesmerize and the idyllic setting further accentuates the longing for his closeness. The gopis lost in the perfect landscape are envious of the great merit of animals surrounding him and the Giriraj boulders’ good fortune since he treads on them, at times caressing the Bhilni women.
Each gopi intensely desirous of having Krishna’s attention for herself, kept the fast of goddess Katyayani in the first month of the cold season. Coming to this site they bathed in Yamuna at sunrise, making an idol of sand they worshipped it, lit incense sticks and each secretly prayed that Lord Krishna might become her husband. Doing japa they fasted for a month at a stretch which led it to being named Tapovan. Gopi Ghat is where they bathed on the banks of the Yamuna.
The gopis prayed here with dedicated devotion to attain Lord Krishna as a husband. They were soon assured that they would enjoy raas with the Lord during the nights of Sharad Poornima. Cleansed of conceit, stripped of passion their love was lifted to divine heights. The site of cheerharan (Krishna stealing clothes of the herdgirls) was renowned as Cheer Ghat.
Shri Nand Ghat:
Shri Nandraiji fasted on ekadashi to be blessed with intense love for Shri Krishna. Since dwadashi was round the corner he went for a bath in the Yamuna at night, when demons are rampant. The envoys of god Varun(god of the ocean) caught him and took them to their deity. Nandraiji’s missing grieved the Brajwasis and they entreated Shri Krishna-Balram to find a way out. Shri Krishna ventured to god Varun who begged for forgiveness. His return to Vraja with Nandraiji surprised the gopas and made the site renowned as Nand Ghat.
Shri Jeev Goswami lived here and his austere penance along with deep love for Lord Krishna is renowned in the Vaishnava world.The Hajra Village is close by where Brahmaji presented the abducted calves to Shri Krishna. The Varara Village is a mile away where Brahmaji kidnapped the Goswamis.
When the messengers of Varun were fleeing with Nandraiji he was petrified. All the Brajwasis deeply despaired, called Lord Krishna for help. It is believed that Shri Vajranabhji kept the name Bhay or fear.
Basai Village (Bachvan):
Lord Krishna was grazing cows with gopas on the ethereal banks of the Yamuna. Prancing around on its golden sands the Lord amused his friends with various sports. They had their midday meal soon after, sharing chak with joyous abandon. On the other hand cows in search of greener pastures wandered far away. Brahmaji alarmed at the rapport shared between Shri Krishna and his gopas, had abducted the calves and hidden them in a distant cave. Divine Incarnate, Lord Krishna very well aware of Brahmaji’s delusion came back. Not seeing the sakhas left behind he figured out that Brahmaji had concealed them in the same fashion. Brahmaji wondered if Krishna who thieved daily, dallied with the sakhas, ate their left-overs was majestically divine or an ordinary mortal.
When it was time to return to Braj, Lord Krishna duplicated himself as many times to become the calves and the sakhas.The mothers were particularly affectionate since the swarupas were in fact the Lord himself and the cows were extra warm in tending to their calves. This continued for a year but no one knew the secret. The earthly year was equivalent to one day of Brahma and when he came to Braj and spotted grazing calves and the group of sakhas merrily prancing around, he was stupefied. Thoroughly ashamed he woke up from this illusion when maya was unveiled; perceiving that worldly form being in essence of the same nature as the Lord is not viewed as different from him but as expressive variations of form.
Making obeisance to the Lord, Brahmaji was now eagerly desirous of being born in Gokul because the divine incarnate, Nandkumar imparted joy and delight here.Soon enough he left the calves and sakhas who unaware of their year long separation pranced about in delight on returning to Braj. The site was known as Bach Van. The Vatsvihari Temple, Gaval Kund, Gaval Mandli, Hari Bol Teerth and Shri Vallabhacharyaji’s Baithak are located here.
Brahmaji wanted to assess whether Shri Krishna is the slayer of the demon Aghasur plus the all pervading spirit of the universe or an ordinary child Nandnandan. When he saw the Lord eating the sakhas left-overs he was eager to test him, leading to the site’s name. The Seyi village is close by.
Brahmaji came and propitiated Lord Krishna here. The Lord had clarified that the material world is a manifestation of Brahman and is as such true and not illusionary or maya. Initially he was alone and then duplicated himself as the many sakhas and calves with his supreme power and finally the Lord was left alone as the eternal Brahma Svarupa.This incidence led to the place being named ChauMua.
Once early in the morning Lord Krishna left for the forest with his sakhas along with his kaleu or morning meal. Playing the flute with spirited antics they merrily reached the forest. Aghasur, Pootna’s brother, could not bear their delight and wanted to take revenge for his close ones being killed. In the form of a large and dreadful python he lay down enroute. The cowherds thought he was a monster and could be used for their frolic. His head seemed to touch the sky, tongue was lengthy as a road and huge mouth resembled a cave. Playfully they entered his mouth but he didn’t close it; waited to avenge Krishna. The Lord knew of his strategy and stepped in which led to him shutting it instantly. Lord Krishna magnified his body, blocking his throat and choking him.
In a short while the demon’s mysterious identity sprang from his forehead as a brilliant light and was positioned in the sky. When Lord Krishna breathed life into the unconscious sakhas and strode out, the radiance became one with the Lord. Soon after deities, apsaras and gandharvas did the Lord’s stuti. Giving salvation to Aghasur he returned to Vrindavana with the sakhas. The python was a source of play for the boys for many days to come.
After the end of Aghasur, the entire Braj Mandal resounded with the deities' propitiating Lord Krishna with‘Jai Ho!’ The sakhas also joined in and expressed their delight.Singing the glories of Shri Krishna’s triumph, the site was renowned as Jainth.The statue of a snake is made in the pool with great dexterity.Even when the water of the pond rises its form is visible above the water. As of now the ruins remain.
Tamal Kanan and Shri Krishna Kund Teela:
An idyllic landscape Braj is forever longing for the madhurya or sweet love of Shri Radha Krishna to unfold. The shade of the kadamba trees which form a sort of canopy beneath which they fix their tryst and green pastures are eagerly desirous of the duo’s arrival. Vishnu is said to reside in the sap that animates the birds and bees, trees and creepers of this celestial land. Once Krishna asked Shri Radha that what was the creeper embracing the tamal tree (dark bark with white flowers) trying to say and she couldn’t answer. He explained that it was expressing the pathos of passionate longing.
During this discussion Shyam Sunder turned a bit restless and whether calm prevailed or they were lost in an amorous frolic is difficult to say.The sakhis saw the sight and were captivated.Seeing his kaya-vyuhas or replications Lord Krishna became a bit alert but soon all were lost in the love sport. Krishna Kund Teela and Tamal Kanan were famed because of this incidence.
All Braj denizens can savour the divine play of the Lord but only the innocent gopis can be a part of the isolated transcendental love exchanges because of their selfless devotion. Devrishi Naradji and Lord Shankar could also sight this amorous frolic only on acquiring the gopi deha or form. Shri Ashtavakra Muni resided here on hearing about the Krishna incarnation which led to its name Aatas.
The sakhas were relating the glories of the Lord. Some talked about his killing of Shaktasur and Pootna and others about his lifting Shri Giriraj. Suddenly the topic of Lord Varaha cropped up which led to Lord Krishna recollecting the Vishnu incarnation and performing corresponding feats. Terrified, the sakhas called out for Kanhaiya which cooled his frenzy of Lord Varaha and once again he delighted them. The incidence led to the site’s name Varahar.
Shri Krishna came here with his cowherds for grazing cows, merrily pranced around and spread joy. At times he went to banks of the Yamuna sighting the blossoming pastures and sometimes crossed the river to graze cattle. Tending cows, his lotus feet marked this site known as Bhadravan.
Bathing here one attains great power and wealth along with dedicated devotion to the Lord.
Bhandir Van: Shri Radha-Krishanchandra Milan:
Nandraiji came with child Kanhaiya to the Bhandir Van. There was a clean lake where he quenched the thirst of the cows. Embraced by trees and creepers the forest abounded with tender pastures, the fragrant breeze blew and birds sang melodiously. Lord Krishna’s Yogmaya, the shakti of his yoga, darkened the environs all of a sudden; a raging storm with dense clouds overcast the sky and it seemed it would rain. Nandraiji was scared and Krishna snuggled up to him.
Precisely at that moment the ravishing beauty, Shri Radha, fully adorned in all her finery arrived. Nandraiji was wonder struck to see her gleaming like millions of moons in the isolated forest. Making obeisance, he said that Shri Gargacharyaji had enlightened him that she was Krishna’s most beloved and could take Kanhaiya if she wanted but must return him.He handed over child Krishna and she asked him not to disclose this secret to anyone while Nandraiji entreated for the worship of Shri Radha-Krishna’s feet.
She took Lord Krishna far away, calming the longing which had gripped her for ages.Soon enough she remembered the Raas Mandala and instantly the Bal Krishna form of the Lord vanished. All of a sudden she saw baby Krishna lying on a bed of tender shoots in a fragrant bower nearby. Delighted she savoured his madhurya or loving tenderness. They reveled in an unprecedented union with the exquisite memories of Golok enrapturing them. Brahmaji manifested and decorating the pedestal got them married.
Shri Radha-Krishna exchanging garlands were now tied in a love bond. Deities showered flowers, the entire region resounded with musical instruments, and a wave of delight swept the environs. Eagerly desirous to sight the youthful Krishna,Shri Radha was disappointed to see his child form and frantically looked around. Child Krishna seemed famished with hunger.
During this course a voice from heaven asked why she was distraught? Till the Raas Mandala, the mystic diagram within which that supreme moment of Krishna’s manifestation as human lover and divine incarnate, is formed she would venture here daily. Casting aside anxiety, she must take him and leave. Assured by the forecast Shri Radha handed him over to Yashodarani in Braj, explaining that Nandraiji had asked her to get him home. He is starving do feed him.
Now onwards she secretly ventured to Vrindavan and savoured romantic dalliances with Lord Krishna at night though apparently involved with household chores. The secret rendezvous of Shri Radha-Krishna became famous as Bhandir Van. The Asibhand Teert which fulfills all desires; Matsya Koop, Ashok destroyer of losses.and Ashok Malini Lata granting all wishes are located here.
Playing various sports, Shri Krishna delights his sakhas. Now he is busy with wrestling, and now he runs to catch them at this secluded place on the banks of the Yamuna. He amuses them by offering different delicacies and the group rests while grazing cattle; which has made the spot revered for deities. Sitting in the shade Lord Krishna gives in to delight thus making it a sight of divine play, renowned as Chanhari or Bijauli.