These days at Shuktaal (the place where Shukdevji narrated the Bhagavat Purana to King Parikshit) Srimad Bhagwat Saptahs are being held like every other year.The saptahs start from Shri Radhashtami and go on till Purnima.These are the very same days when Mahatam Shukdevji narrated the Bhagavat Purana to Raja Parikshit and the seven days time span ends on this Purnima.Currently in Vrindavan, the Srimad Bhagwat Saptah is going on at Raman Reti by great saint Bhaishree (Shri Ramesh Bahi Ojhaji) in honour of this tradition. It is a great coincidence that the Srimad Bhagwat Saptah held for our highly revered Shri Manohar Baba also began during this time frame and he gained entry into the eternal nikunja on purnima of the Bhadon Month, last year in 2009.
Shri Manohar Baba
This incident endorses the gopibhava of madhurya, the sweet and total commitment and love for Lord Krishna in Baba's nitya gopivesh and supremely saintly disposition (the realization that everyone is ultimately a nayika searching for Krishna.) In the 13th shloka of the last chapter of Shrimad Bhagavatam's tenth canto we have an account of the same purnima of Bhadrapada (the sixth month of the Indian lunar calendar.)Revered Baba had implicit faith in Braj-Raj (soil of Braj) or else why would he abandon everything and come to Braj for all times to come, at such a tender young age.
He belonged to Braj and kept serving its soil till the last moments of his life.He never left Vrindavan even on being critically ill because this was the stimuli of highly revered Shri Shri Maharajji, Baba's spiritual preceptor and inseparable Shri Ghanshyam Thakurji. Merely three days before his journey to Golok,
Shri Shri Maharaj ji
he had taken the permission from Shri Shri Maharaj ji, his spiritual guru, in front of highly revered Deviji.This is an unprecedented incident in the entire history of bhakti (religious devotion) and we are truly fortunate to have witnessed this spectacular event.Repeatedly we bow a million times at the feet of Manohar Baba, such an unparalleled and unique saint.
I would like to take you to the year 1990, about nineteen years back in time. Baba had come to Barsana on Shri Radhashtami.This time round we had a programme of going to Nandgaon, Gokul and so on, along with our revered Bobo, Sushila Bahinji and the aunties.One fine day while climbing stairs of the Nandgaon Temple, Baba became emotional and exulted
Lord Krishna & Balramji
“These are the very same lanes where five thousand years back Lord Krishna, Divine Incarnate and Balramji, his brother, used to roam around and they do the same even as of today.The soil of Braj is worthy of honour because of the dust of their feet while deities, nagas and gandharvas adulate this celestial land.Learned Udhava also prays that he may become some leaf or creeper in Vrindavan, the divine dham (place where Lord Krishna forever dwells.)
Gopis Relishing the Romantic Dalliance of Radha-Krishna
It is in Braj that we shall find the dark-hued Krishna fluting in its blossoming pastures. The trees growing here are actually saints steeped in religious meditation.The foliage of Nidhi Van and Seva Kunj are in fact gopis who have manifested to witness the divine play of Shri Bihariji and Shri Kishoriji. Brought up and blossoming in the soil of Braj, these trees motivate several sadhakas (religious aspirants).Sitting beneath their shade, many ascetics dedicatedly chant the mahamantra of Hare Ram even today and reach the heights of elation and ecstasy.
Lord Krishna-Balram with the Cows, their Wealth
Several devotees are a witness to the fact that Lord Krishna roams around in Braj Himself; frolicking in the temple of Shri Bihariji, the courtyard of Shri Radha Vallabhaji, at Shri Radha Ramanji and the Radha-Damodar Temple situated nearby.And all of us bow respectfully to this soil of Braj and are constantly blessed in the process.Who can possibly give an account of the glory of Braj Raj (soil of Braj.) This land has become absolutely divine with the dust of the feet of Lord Krishna, Kishoriji, Lalita-Vishaka, other ashta sakhis, the gopis, Shri Yamunaji and the sacred cows who roamed here about five thousand years back.
Lord Shiva assumes the form of Gopeshwar Mahadev Himself to take part in the maharaas (the round dance of Lord Krishna with the herdgirls of Braj) at Vanshi Vat. His divine consort Parvati resides in this land as Goddess Katyayini and
Vrinda Devi is a sakhi of dark-hued Krishna's nitya lila or eternal divine play.
Shri Yamunaji is actually an intimate sakhi of Krishna. In the words of saint Ushaji, Shri Yamuna is Lord Krishna's prem pravihini (beloved) who bestows the dark-hued God's love on us.Shri Ushaji sings in joyous abandon,
Shri Yamuna, Lord Krishna's Beloved
“Hei bhanuja, hei svamini
hei Krishna, man abhi ramini
karke kripa karuna mayi
hei rasmayi mamta mayi
Shri Krishan rati-ras ka daan do
priya roop ras ka paan do
unka chirantan sang do
ras rang keli abhang do||
As far as the glory of the cows is concerned the letters of devotees which are published in 'Kalyan,' the religious monthly magazine, has articles explaining how chanting the name of God blesses us, how Shri Hanuman is merciful and how Gau Mata is compassionate.In other words cows are always merciful; they are in fact deities incarnate and above all Lord Krishna has declared his loka where he forever dwells, as Golok in honour of cows.
Govind & Gopal are Epithets of Lord Krishna
After grazing the cows when Lord Krishna returns in the evening at the time of cowdust, his face is charming like a lotus. The dark-hued Krishna's popular titles Govind and Gopal (cowherd) reveal the grand majesty of cows.
Nandbaba Donated Lakhs of Cows
“Nande ke anand bhayo jai kanhaiya lal ki.” When Lala (baby Krishna) is born Nandbaba donates lakhs of cows. Lord Shiva, the supreme Vaishnava, ventures to the same soil of Braj for a glimpse of infant Krishna. It was the soil of Braj which vanquished the ego of Lord Brahma and the arrogance of Indra Dev.Nand Baba has been honoured with the rank of nand (head of the gopas) and Vrishbhanuji, the father of Kishoriji, with the title of upnand (sub-head of the gopas) depending on the number of cows they owned, which were the wealth of their village. Govardhan means one who assists in the rearing of cows.
Lord Krishna Lifts Mount Giriraj
At merely seven years of age, Lord Krishna picks up Mount Giriraj(to shelter the people of Braj and their herds from the lashing rains sent by Indra) for their protection and is acclaimed as Goverdhan Dhari (supporter of Goverdhan.) Let us sing in unison, 'Giriraj Dharan ki jai!'(An epithet of Krishna who lifted mount Giriraj.)
Regarding the cowherdesses ,Devarshi Narad construes the love of gopis as transcendental love of the highest order in the 'Narada Bhakti Sutra'(a well known sutra venerated within the traditions of Hinduism, purportedly spoken by the famous sage Narada.The text details the process of devotion (bhakti) or bhakti yoga.)Lord Krishna declares with his own divine voice in the tenth canto that the love of the gopis is the zenith of spiritual awareness and so unearthly that He is forever indebted to them.
Shri Hanuman Prasad Poddar
Shri Hanuman Prasad Poddar, the founder of Kalyan, a religious magazine, writes in his commentary that they are not ordinary gopis (cowherdesses) but supremely accomplished rishis-munis, ardently longing for Braj Raj (soil of Braj), who incarnate in the Dwapar Yuga after ages of austere penance.Several of them are sakhis of Lord Rama's time in Mithila, Janakpuri and other regions who manifest as the ali parikar (female friends) of Lord Krishna's incarnation for the sake of Lord Rama who is Maryada Incarnate.
Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Several of the sites in Braj had vanished due to the ill effects of Kaliyuga.About 500 years back Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who was actually devotion incarnate, sent his intimate bhaktas and got the sites of Braj manifested. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Braj and had the Radha Kund appear again, by Himself.
Mahaprabhu Shri Vallabhacharya
In the same manner Mahaprabhu Shri Vallabhacharyaji, the founder of Pusthimarg, also visited Braj and journeying all over the place revealed the significance of the enchanting Braj Bhoomi (ground.) He started the popular tradition of the eighty-four kos (approx 2 miles) parikrama (circumambulation) of Braj, which is continuing till date.
Shri Banke Bihariji Thakur
Svami Shri Haridas
Svami Shri Haridasji's manifesting Shri Bihariji Thakur and
Shri Radha Vallabh Thakur
Shri Hit Harivanshji
Hit Harivanshji's manifesting Shri Radha Vallabh Thakur seemed to declare that the saints and mahatmas of Braj Raj (soil of Braj) were worthy of being worshipped. Mira Bai, the bhakti poet-saint who was an icon of love, lived in Braj for several years and Braj Bhoomi has been the base for Surdas and the ashtachhaap kavis.Shri Nathji manifested here in the lowlands of Giriraj.We get an account of Goswami Tulsidasji, the author of Shri Ram Charit Manas, visiting Braj once.
Therefore not only the dust of the feet of Lord Krishna, Kishoriji, the pristine sand of Yamunaji, gopis, denizens of Braj and the sacred cows is gathered in the Braj Raj (soil of Braj) but rather it has become more reverential due to the pure dust of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharyaji, and their likes incarnating in various yugas.
Shri Roop Goswami
Not just Roop & Sanatan Goswami, several mahatmas of the Gaudiya Sect,Pushtimarg and Radha Vallabh Sect, roll about in this soil but several other holy men of the highest order consider Braj Raj (soil) as their prime spiritual preceptor,while residing permanently in Braj.
Shri Radha Baba
The spiritually evolved Bhai Poddarji, who actually had darshan of Lord Vishnu and Priya-Priyatam also ventured here.Highly honoured Shri Radha Baba had come here once and conscientiously served the granules of Braj Raj in Gorakhpur which was his permanent abode.
The dedicated devotion of highly revered Shri Devariya Baba, Ma Anandamayi, Shri Hari Baba, Udiya Baba, Svami Shri Sharan Anandji Maharaj, Thakur Sitaram Onkar Nathji Maharaj, Shri Ramdasji Maharaj, revered Pandi Gaya Prasadji Maharaj, Bhaktmaliji, Goswami Lalila Shachinandan Baba, Priya Sharanji Maharaj, Kripasindhu Dasji Maharaj, Madan Mohan Dasji, Goswami Binduji, Prabudatt Brahmachariji, Svami Akhanda Nand Saraswati, Mukund Hariji, Shri Shri Paad Baba, Shri Anand Das Baba, Shri Jatiji Maharaj, Shri Durga Ma, our own Shri Shri Maharajji,Ghansyam Thakurji, honourable Shri Manohar Baba, Saint Usha Bahenji, Dharam Bahenji and Lalitji is renowned the world over.
Revered Bobo & Shiela Bahenji
We are able to have darshan of Rama Deviji,Kusumji, Manoramaji and our revered Shiela Bahenji who are living icons having implicit faith in Braj, even as of now. In fact the spiritual discussion we are having today has been made feasible for us entirely due to the grace of Deviji.
Braj Bhoomi Mohini
There are several other great saints who have considered Braj-Raj (soil of Braj) as the sole foundation of their lives but whose biographies are yet to be unveiled. However we can somewhat understand the glory of Braj-Raj through sacred texts like 'Bhaktmal', '265 Vaishnavan Ki Varta', 'Braj Ke Bhakt' and 'Braj Bhoomi Mohini', monthly spiritual magazines like 'Shri Hari Naam' and divine literature published by Braj Nidhi Prakashan and Tamaal Kunj.I repeatedly bow a million times before such a celestial soil of Braj which is actually a manifestation of Lord Krishna's grace.We can gather some knowledge of the majestic grandeur of Braj-Raj solely by His mercy.
Let us all acclaim in unison, “Hail to Braj-Raj and Priya-Priyatam who divinely dally here everday. VRINDAVAN VIHARI LAL KI JAI! (Vihari Lal or sportive Lord Krishna of Vrindavan!)