Shri Radha Rani
Courtyard of Sriji Temple in Barsana
The festive occasion is observed 15 days after Janmashtami of Lord Krishna, on the sacred eighth day of the Bhadrapada month of the Hindu calendar, in the waxing phase of the moon somewhere between (August-September).Sri Radha was born in Barsana, a suburb of Mathura, as the daughter of Vrashabhanu and Kirti.On her incarnation a wave of rejoicing swept the place.
Though Radhastami is on 15th September, 2010, this year, the kirtan will be held on Tuesday night of 14th September because the abhishek (ceremonial bathing of an idol) of Kishoriji is at 4 am, just before sunrise.During revered Bobo's time span everyone used to celebrate Radhashtami with joyous abandon in Barsana, including Manohar Bhaiya.They would do jaagran (keep awake and sing devotional songs) for the entire night and have darshan of Radha Rani's abhishek in the temple of Sriji, next morning.
Devotees Throng the Sriji Temple in Barsana
When a group of bhaktas merrily took the chaav (baskets loaded with sweets and fruits were taken to Sriji Temple for celebrating Radha Rani's birth), revered Bobo and Sushila Bahenji would be overjoyed.Bobo would enthusiastically show everyone from the window of the 'Peeli Kothi'(where they stayed while in Barsana) and exult, “Just look, the chaav is going!” Kishoriji was very dear to her, therefore Usha Bahenji always insisted, “Make it a practice of coming to Vrindavan on every Radhashtami and Holi.”
Radha Rani Ki Jai!
As Krishna is the source of all manifestations of God, Sri Radha his consort is the source of all shaktis or feminine manifestations of cosmic energy. She is thus the supreme deity in the Gaudiya tradition, for it is said that she controls Krishna with her love and that perfect spiritual life is unattainable without her grace.
Lord Vishnu & Consort Laxmi
Radha is foremost of the gopis and is able to please Krishna with little more than a glance. Other interpretations reveal, just as Vishnu appeared in the incarnation of the human hero Krishna to save the earth, his consort Laxmi also came with him in the incarnation of Radha.
Jayadeva's Gita Govinda
In the divine lyrics of ‘Gita Govinda’ by Jayadeva, she is exalted as Krishna’s hladini shakti or blissful energy. In this position it is Radha who is the principal idol of devotion and the symbol of divine love. There is no greater symbol to denote the longing of the soul in its quest for the divine than the characterization of Sri Radha.
Shringara Bhakti whether of the Pushti Margis or the Gaudiyas is suffused with madhurya, the key to understanding and celebrating the love of Shri Radha-Krishna and in doing so get a glimpse of one’s own transcendental self. As madhurya translates into ananda comes the realization that everyone is ultimately a nayika searching for Krishna.
Sites in Braj Bhoomi Centred Around Radha Rani
Lord Krishna and Sri Radha are in essence a single entity who manifest as two distinct individuals for the sake of interpersonal romantic exchange.Braj’s highly revered Shri Usha Bahenji throws light on the pivotal concept of madhurya or sweet love, taking us to the very heart of the love of Radha and Krishna.
Shri Radha Rani, Manifests as Daughter of Vrashbhanu and Kirtida
Raja Suchendra born as Vrashbhanu, the cowherd in Braj and his wife Kalavati born as Kirtida, the cowherdess, in Vrashbhanupur were blessed with Shri Radha as their daughter. The site of her manifestation is famed as Rawal with a temple on the banks of the Yamuna citing this miracle. Born at her grandparents’ house, she later came to Vrashbhanupur. Baba Vrashbhanu came to Vrashbhanu Sarovar on ashtami of the Bhadra month and spotted a small girl atop a lotus flower, swimming in the pond and attracting his gaze. It is said she was Sri Radha Herself.
Shri Radha Kund and Shri Krishna Kund
Shri Radha and Krishna Kunds absolve all sins and bless us with the worship of Lord Krishna.Just as Shri Radhaji is the supreme beloved of Lord Krishna, the pond is extremely dear to her.
The Puranas authenticate their appearance.Actually these kunds arose from Gaulok where Lord Krishna and Shri Radha reside in its enchanting nikunjas amidst the loving service of their sakhis. All of a sudden overcome by Shri Radha Bhava, Krishna assumed that he was Radha.
Shri Krishna Kund:
Shri Radha, the female Godhead, bathes here daily. The site is extremely dear to her; very much like she is the most beloved of Lord Krishna. To its north is Madhu Manglananda Kund which is shaped by Shri Lalitaji. To its north-east is Ujvala Nanda Kund belonging to Ujvala Sakha and adorned by Vishakaji.
Shri Radha Kund in Barsana
Shri Radha Kund:
Close to Krishna Kund, Shri Radhikaji inaugurated this kund by embracing Shri Krishna.By bathing in Shri Radha and Sri Krishna Kunds one is freed from the grave sins of killing Brahma, cows and men thus attaining the fruits of Rajsuya and Ashvamegha sacrifices.
Shri Radha-Krishna Temple:
Bathing in the kunds, sighting Kundeshwar Bhagwan Shankar and worshipping Shri Radha-Krishna one fulfills all desires. Goswami Vithal Nathji handed over the service of the twin idols to Baba Gopaldas. Deities Shri Radha-Krishna are resplendent in this temple.
Nauka Leela in Mansi Ganga
Lord Krishna and his beloved Sri Radha were keen for boating. Ferrying the boat in Mansi Ganga, the Lord rocked it purposely and Priyaji clung to him in fear. The incidence led to an unprecedented dalliance with the Lord captivated by his beloved Sri Radha. Sri Ganga, a witness to these amorous frolics, destroys all earthly shortcomings and blesses us with the worship of Lord Krishna.
VRASHBHANUPUR OR BARSANA
Nature reflects the delights of Paradise onto the environs; with the peacocks dancing in ecstasy and birds singing passionately. The site is extremely dear to the Vaishnavas since it weaves the divine play, the mazes and mysteries of Shri Radha-Krishna romantic dalliances in its womb.
Baby Radha's Tinkling Anklets
Now doting mother Kirtida and Vrashbhanu Baba are delighted by Shri Radha’s prattle, the tinkling of her anklets, the sweet sound of her dangling earrings as she roams in their courtyard and now she is the Godhead in female form, with Nandnandan, her male counterpart, who rules her heart. Several times Shri Radha interacts with her sakhis and at times bursts out laughing. At times she waves the anchal of her saree and attracted by the glittering work on her lehenga is delighted.
The denizens of Braj dote on her and child Radha is radiant as she cuddles in the lap of her parents. Shri Krishna often ventures from Nandgaon to Vrashbhanupur, Kirtidaji fusses over him and soon enough both Shri Radha-Krishna are engrossed in love sports. Vrashbhanupur resonates with the innocent prattle of Shri Radha and on growing up she romantically dallies with the beloved son of Nanda in Gaharvan, Sankrikhor, Vilasgarh, Mangarh, Dangarh and other sites.
Shri Radha-Krishna Darshan
The love of Shri Radha-Krishna is renowned the world over. Shri Vrashbhanuji and Kirtidaji coupled with Nand Baba and Yashodaji always participate in this divine tale. Rasikas (persons moved by passionate religious devotion) have expressed Sri Radha-Krishna as one soul and two bodies with Shri Radha being compared to the moon beams and Shri Krishna to the moon.
Enraptured, the two of them meet daily. Sometimes Kishoriji ventures to Nandgaon and at times Shr Krishna arrives at Vrashbhanupur. Once innocently Shri Radha requested her beloved Shri Krishna to stay on with her at her father’s town which would make the place lovable. Unable to refuse, he gladly accepted her entreaty. The temple is resplendent with the idols of Shri Radha-Krishna.
Gahar Van as the name indicates is a dense forest. It is the idyllic landscape for the romantic escapades of Sri Radha-Krishna, the longing of the gopikas, and the unfolding of their madhurya or sweet love. Dearly loved by Sri Radha, a site where gopikas giggle with their tinkling anklets as they wander around the trees. Highly revered Ushaji Bahinji visited the place, expressing the ambience beautifully.
Shri Radha Rani with Her Sakhis
Shri Hit Harivanshji Maharaj said that if Sri Radha is graceful in love’s fulfillment and dignified in love’s separation the sakhi is the love messenger. The sakhis’ sole concern is to see Shri Radha-Krishna united and joyous in love. Till date these divine dalliances are prevalent in Gahar Van. Only the very fortunate of devotees are able to sight them.
Located in the upper segment of Brahmachal Mount, the Mayur Kuti is an enchanting site. Belonging and longing are essential parts of madhurya rasa. Shri Radha-Krishna who are in essence a single entity can not even dream of separating for a moment. Even so at times Shri Radha is somewhat offended and Lord Krishna has a tough time placating her.
He came up with a new gimmick and acquiring the form of a peacock danced ecstatically in front of her. She could not make out it was the Lord and forgot her pride. In glee she called out ‘Mor Mor’ which also means ‘Mera’ in the Braj dialect. Hearing this Shri Krishna came close to her and assuming his original form, exulted that he was hers forever.
Reaching the zenith of love is easily attainable for the innocent Braj Gopikas and Sri Radha, their swamini or devotional ideal, because of their selfless devotion. The gopikas can not possibly think of self gratification, eternally striving for the Lord’s joy but distraught at times by his disappearance.
Lord Krishna Appeasing a Sulking Radha Rani
Once Sri Radha sulked when Shri Krishna did not turn up even after an assurance that he would. He tried hard to appease her but in vain. The sakhis strived to placate her but it was of no use. Finally Shri Krishna in connivance with the sakhis, disguised as one of them came close to Sri Radha. Observing a new sakhi she was amused and began questioning her. The moment she knew that the sakhi was adept at singing she gave her a warm hug. The touch enlightened Sri Radha that it was the Lord himself and she cooled down.
Shri Radha Sarovar:
Kishori Shri Radhika along with her sakhis used to frolic with water in this pond, resulting in its name. A fascinating place it gratifies all deities and grants moksha or salvation in all the three worlds.
Vilas Garh in Barsana
Vilas Garh is a site of Shri Krishna’s romantic dalliance with the gopis. As Sri Radha and Lord Krishna’ sole purpose is to engage in a loving exchange the gopis, considered the kaya-vyuha (replications) of Shri Radha assist them in the love-play in these isolated nikunjas. Sri Radha feels that her love for Krishna can always expand to greater heights and therefore manifests herself as the many gopis of Braj.
Once all of a sudden, Shri Krishna with his beloved Sri Radha came to this isolated bower where the pathos of their longing and the pleasure of belonging converged. When the Braj cowherdesses came by they saw the duo’s dishevelled appearance, ruffled hair, loose necklaces, clothes out of place, musky spots on their bodies and faces awash with langour. Situated on Mount Vishnu the site recounts their passionate love.
Radha Rani was Found Cradled in a Lotus Flower
Expiating all sins, the site was created by Gopraj Vrashbhanu. His daughter Sri Radha and Shri Krishna dearly loved the place. Frolicking here, the two of them were often enchanted with each other as they sported in its waters. Situated in the east of Barsana is Vrashbhanu Sarovar.
It is believed that when Vrashbhanu Baba in the month of Bhadra on the eighth day of Shuklapaksh came here; he spotted a small girl cradled in a lotus flower floating in this sarovar. Baba got her to the palace; she was Sri Radha, the Godhead in female form.
The gopikas expert at doing shringara, beautifully adorned Sri Radha for a dalliance with the Lord and brought her here. It is the village of Chitra Sakhi, adjacent to Sankri Khor.
Showing the path to the three worlds the site blesses us with moksha or salvation. The dancing of peacocks is very dear to Shri Chitraji who ventures here daily. Flocks of peacocks inevitably swarm the place surrounding her as she plays with them at times. Loitering around, occasionally Sri-Radha Krishna arrive and are welcomed by the peacocks’ delighted cries. Forever dancing in ecstasy the birds go to Sri Radha and at times hover around Shri Krishna. Shri Chitraji is joyous on observing their madhurya.
Shri Krishna and Sri Radha had an amusing argument once. Whereas Lord Krishna is the God of the entire universe, his most beloved Sri Radha is the embodiment of Shakti and the gratifier of his love. During this dispute Sri Radha sowed some pearls in a field and they blossomed. Both the lover and his beloved adorned themselves with these gems, an outward expression of their love-play which resulted in its name.
Sunehra Gram (Swaran Haar) and Kadamba Khandi:
Shri Vallabhacharyaji also ventured to the golden mountain and the ethereal Kadamba Khandi, a site of Raas abounding with swings and an expanse of water. This isolated place of Raas is surrounded by kadamba trees wherein its cool environs incapacitate the sweltering heat.
The trees form a sort of canopy beneath which Sri Radha-Krishna fix their tryst. The Ratan Kund is nearby. Sunehra Gram is the birthplace of both the sakhis, Sudevi and Rangdevi. Sudevi is adept at applying mahavar on Shri Radha’s feet and Rangdevi is skilled at decking Shri Radha’s hair with veni or a string of flowers.
Love has a unique trait. The pathos of separation though very painful somehow enlightens the mind. Forgetting the self in belonging, sometimes leads to separation. Shri Krishna who daily undergoes the pathos of longing and the pleasure of belonging was ecstatic and turned dewy-eyed on spotting his beloved, Sri Radha, as he gave her a divine glance.
Anjnauk (Anjan Van):
What delights the Lord is unique, an eternal desire for a romantic dalliance. His love refuses to get into any saintly straitjacket. One day sitting in her chamber, Shri Radha was doing shringara. A parrot named Vichshan narrated the scenario to Shri Krishna. Suddenly an idea struck the Lord and taking out the flute from his waistband he began to play it melodiously. The sound of the flute which is the breath of their love; drew Shri Radha and her sakhis and they headed to this forest.
Shri Radha Rani with a Parrot
Making Shri Radha sit on the front boulder, he absorbed her ravishing beauty. Seeing her eyes not darkened enough, he applied collyrium and purposely smeared it right upto the eyebrows. Soon after with a mirror he went upto her and holding her hand, wiped it neatly to make up for his error. He repeated this incidence several times which led to an unprecedented dalliance. The sakhis planned to shower them with flowers and after plucking them savoured their romantic escapade. Renowned as Anjnauk (Anjan Van) it recounts those delightful endeavours.
Whatever the Lord does pleases Shri Radha and he does whatever she fancies. Saying so, Shri Manmahaprabhu Hit Harivanshji has thrown light on the subject.This is the same Prem Sarovar where Shri Radha-Krishna and their kaya-vyuha gopikas have savoured several charming episodes of divinity. Beneath the canopy of fragrant kadamba trees they are engaged in talk, as they fix their tryst. During the rainy season this site comes to life with the merriment of swings and at times resounds with the sound of tinkling anklets.
I salute you hey Raas Mandala made for the Lord's pleasure! If there is one aspect to Shri Krishna’s enigmatic persona which distinguishes him from all other deities it is his leela. This divine play which is both real and illusionary makes him both human and divine at the same time. Delighting in play, he endears himself and brings delight to all his devotees.
Who can possibly describe the good fortune of Braj Bhoomi where every site has been touched by the feet of Shri Radha- Krishna and their group of sakhis, thereby making it even highly honoured for saints. Raas Mandala has a distinct significance since it weaves the lovable escapades of the Lord and his beloved.
The Jhoolna Utsav in Shravan enhances the beauty of Braj.Herein is an excerpt from revered Usha Bahinji’s experience from a Jhoolna incidence. Sri Radha arrived to swing at the Prem Sarovar where a dark-complexioned sakhi was already present. Sighting her, the sakhi was delighted and the two of them began conversing as they enjoyed the swings. Shri Radha asked the sakhis to swing her and this new friend. With the rocking of the swing the new sakhi’s anchal slipped and Sri Radha was stunned on sighting her body, it was none other than Lord Krishna himself. The environs of this site are bathed with such delightful memories.
The nature of love is strange. Sometimes overwhelming restlessness makes us experience the pathos of longing even on being close to one’s beloved. Once sitting in a garden of Vihval Kund, Shri Krishna was anxiously waiting for Sri Radha. A mynah began singing her glories which further aggravated his longing. When soft-hearted sakha Subal came to know of this scenario, he figured out a way for their divine rendezvous. Soon after, moving the creepers in front, Sri Radha arrived with her sakhis. The Lord was delighted but his yearning knew no bounds. Even on being so near to his beloved, he was unable to savour the proximity. This led to the place being named Vihval which means restless.