Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Chapter 9: Stay at Mathura & Wandering in Braj (Part 2)


Shri Maharajji was once obsessed with an impulse to go to Goverdhan on a pitch dark night.  The sky was still overcast with clouds although it had rained some time back.  Maharajji was moving fast on the path to Goverdhan. He must have covered about three to four miles when a ray of hope flashed in his mind: If there had been a tonga he would have boarded it. Ignoring the toilsome walk and possibility of rain he walked ahead in joyous abandon. A tonga arrived a little later. Maharajji was walking speedily. The thought of sitting in a tonga had totally disappeared from his mind.

 The Tonga Driver
He must have walked a bit when the tonga driver called out,o baba! govderdhan jaye rahau hai kya ?orO Baba! Are you going to Goverdhan?

When Maharajji answered in the affirmative on hearing his sweet voice, the 14 to 15 years old boy driving the tonga stopped and said,mokun hoon goverdhan, radhakund janon  hain. voh rastageeran kon loot leya hain.orI too, have to go to Radha Kund, Goverdhan. Come along and sit in the tonga. Thieves tend to loot travellers on this path.

Maharajji sat at the backside of the tonga. Since grass was stashed in the mid portion of the tonga Maharajji was unable to see the boy’s face.

The tonga cantered ahead. After covering some distance Maharajji asked the boy's name.

“Giriwar!” he replied in sweet Braj dialect.

Radha Kund

The boy said that he lived in Radha Kund. Maharajji want on talking about something or the other as he was tempted to listen to his sweet speech. The tonga reached Radha Kund in about one and a half hours. He stopped the tonga in the middle of the market and asked Shri Maharajji to get down and rode away with the tonga. Soon after, Maharajji rested in a three side open hall beside the Kund.

In the morning Maharajji started looking for the tonga driver. He went to the place where tonga drivers used to live and asked them about Giriwar. They said that no tonga driver by the name of Giriwar lived there. In a small basti like Radha Kund is not difficult to search for a person. It took Maharajji no time to grasp that Giriwardhari[1] Krishna was the one who had come in the form of that young boy. As soon as this thought struck him he went into a religious ecstasy and remained in that state for quite some time.

Punchhari Ka Lota, Goverdhan

Maharajji had once gon to Goverdhan for a few days. He would circumambulate the mount at 12 o' clock every night. Once he had crossed Punchhari when he met a siddh saint coming towards him. After talking for a while the saint vanished as Maharajji looked on.

After staying for a few days at Goverdhan Shri Maharaj ji walked to Shri Vrindavan Dham. It was summer. Evening had set in and he had been hungry all day long. Someone had given Maharaj ji two annas. He bought pakodis [2] from a shop at the grain market crossing for an anna.

An old Bengali saint wearing filthy clothes came and stood near him.

 Baba,ek-dui-tu pakodi aamake au davo |orBaba! Give me a couple of pakodis!” he requested.

Shri Maharajji was left with one anna so he bought the snack and handed it to him. Delightfully the saint began eating the pakodis.

There is Bihariji's phool bangala [3]today. Haven't you gone it see it?” asked the saint.

I will go right away,” was Maharaj ji’s instant response.

Thereafter the Bangali saint left whereas Maharajji went to Bihariji’s Mandir. 

 Phool Bangala, Shri Banke Bihari Temple

 He found that a very beautiful flower bungalow had been set up. Enraptured, he went on gazing.

Maharajji was circumambulating the Mandir when he met Shri Sant Ramji, a former acquaintance. 

A very beautiful phool bangala has been made today. Maharajji told Sant Ramji.

 Have you drunk hemp? Where has the phool bangala been set up today?” was Ramji’s astonished response.

I have just had darshan; come along I shall show you,” said Maharaj ji

Both of them went inside Bihariji’s Mandir and saw that there was no phool bangala. Maharajji understood that  he had seen the divine phool bangal due to the divine grace of the Bengali saint which had been showered on him.

 The Rasa Lila

 Maharaj ji was coming out of Brahmachari-Gwalior Mandir after having seen 'Rasa Lila' when he met a saint at the gate itself. He put a lump of sugar candy on Maharajji's hand, pressed his palm and strode ahead.  Maharajji simply put the sugar candy in his mouth. A divine feeling engulfed him;the visible world vanished from his sight and divine Gokul appeared before his eyes.  

Shri Maharaj ji Has a Vision of his Gopi Svarupa

Groups of gopis eagerly desirous to meet Krishna were roaming in the forest region and hordes of grazing cows could be seen. Besides, he saw the beautiful sandy banks of the Yamuna in front. Among them he saw his own own divine gopi svarupa roaming around, longing to meet Krishna. This state of religious rapture[4] lasted for about four hours. As soon as the lump of sugar candy dissolved in his mouth, Maharajji regained normal consciousness and came out of the realm of emotional ecstasy. 
Seva Kunj, Vrindavan

 He saw that he was passing Seva Kunj which takes about fifteen minutes to reach from Brahmachari Mandir. However in his bhava dasha, it had taken him four hours. Next day, Maharajji frantically searched for this saint but could not see him ever again.

Having darshan of his divine gopi svarupa had been possible due to the causeless mercy of those siddh saints on Shri Maharaj ji. Detachment from the world and taking the Name of God, as well as meditating on the divine sports of Krishna had attracted their mercy and created a mental ground which was capable of imbibing heavenly blessings.

Srila Rupa Goswami

Srila Roop Goswami says:

'krishnastadbhaktakarunamatralobhaikahetuka  |
pushatimargataya kaishchadiyam raganugochayate  ||'

'The compassion of Lord Krishna and His bhaktas is the sole reason of our inclination towards the raga marg or the path of loving devotion.'

Shri Jayadeva's Ashtapadi

So far the grace of five saints had been effective in the life of Shri Maharajji. He had received the grace of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa Dev in youth. Rasiya folk songs centred on Krishna's lilas in Haridwar, and Jaidev’s ashtapadi[5] in Kathmandu had made him aspire towards Vrindavan Dham. When Maharajji had returned to Vrindavan the grace of four saints had been showered on him. He was living in Shri Rang ji’s bagicha when he had met an unknown Nama sidhh saint, he had met a nitya siddh saint while circumambulating Goverdhan, the Bengali Mahatma who made him behold the phool bangala at Bihariji Mandir. Above all, he had met the saint who had offered a lump of sugar candy to him in Brahmachari Mandir. Maharajji passionately advanced on the path of ragatmika bhakti[6] because of the blessing of all these saints.

The initial influence of Shri Paramahamsa Dev had culminated in a secluded, ascetic lifestyle of sadhana whereas association with these great saints had been momentary. It seems that they had removed the ash from the embers. hidden within Maharaj ji,  which had then flamed up with their own heat.(Commenting on Shri Roop Goswami's shloka mentioned, above Shri Vishwanath Chakravarti remarks that the favour granted by godly devotees originates two kinds of cravings for divine loveone ancient and the other modern. The sweet emotion transmitted from former births is ancient and the feeling of sweet craving experienced in the present birth is modern.)

The Rasa Lila, Karhala VilIage

In compliance with divine orders Shri Ghamandi Devji had initiated the tradition of enacting the 'Rasa Lila' in Braj Mandal, about seven to eight hundred years ago in Karhala Village. The gold mukut [7]and chandrika[8] gifted by God to Ghamandiji are safely preserved in village Karhola even today. They are exhibited on the body of boys enacting the roles of Rasa Bihari on Sharad Purnima. Rasa Lilas have been performed regularly by mandalis ever since. Boys enacting the 'Rasa Lila' enter a trance like state of religious rapture. Many saints have undergone amazing transformations in their lives on witnessing the Rasa Lila.

In those days several competent theatre troupes performing the Rasa Lila in Shri Vrindavan Dham were being conducted by Swami Brijlalji Bauhare, Swami Damodarji, Laxman Swami, Chetram Swami, Kishanlal Swami and so on. Shyamji of village Khaira used to enact the role of Thakurji (Lord Krishna) in the mandali of Swami Murlidharji. Many a time he would be emotionally charged with religious rapture during the enactment. Shri Maharajji would go to see the Rasa Lila performed by this particular troupe. Sattvik bhavas would be aroused in him and tears would stream down his cheeks on seeing the enactment.

Butter Thief Krishna

Once an episode centred on the stealing of butter by dark-hued Krishna was going on. Entering the house of a Braj gopi along with his group of sakhas Shri Rasbihari Thakur (Lord Krishna) was stealing butter, eating it himself and making his sakhas relish the same. Suddenly it struck Maharajji that how nice it would be if Shri Thakur gave him a leaving of his butter as he was giving to his sakhas. Overwhelmed, tears began to flow from his eyes. He sat with head bowed and eyes closed.

Tearing through the crown Rasbihari Thakur reached him in an instant and shaking his head with one hand said,baba, baba, ye lo makhan to ho khaya le!which meansBaba, Baba, take this butter! You too eat it.

He caught Maharajji's hand and put the butter in it with his other hand. Laughing and prancing merrily he then went on to the stage. This incited Maharajji's bhava all the more. He sat with the blob of butter for a long time, tears streaming down his cheeks, absorbed in bhava. However he stood up quietly before the conclusion of the show and slipped away to avoid the inquisitive glances of people.

Shri Radhe-Krishna in the Rasa Lila

Once Maharajji was seeing the 'Rasa' when Shyamji of Khaira village had donned the form of Thakurji (Lord Krishna) and a love scene was being enacted. Maharajji was engrossed and shedding tears. Tearing through the crowd Rasbihari Thakur reached Maharaj ji sitting at a distance. Taking the flower garland from his neck he put it around the neck of Shri Maharajji and speedily returned to the stage.

These episodes very much augmented Maharajji's samutkantah [9] for the real visitation of God. His steps took the road to Rishikesh once again.

One day while sitting beside the banks of the Jahnavi, he thought,God comes in the form of a Sikh sardar, at times as a young boy driving the tonga, at other times he gives me prasad as Rasbihari and obliges me but he does not give me darshan, letting me behold His real divine svarupa. Thus, he resolved to give up his body and Maharajji headed towards Rishikesh. He climbed on to a high summit at night on reaching Rishikesh. The Ganges was flowing about a hundred feet below.

Surging Waters of the Ganga, Rishikesh

He was about to jump into its surging waters when a stern voice resounded,Who is it here? Why have you come to this terrifying forest so late at night?                             

Maharajji was startled. On turning round he saw an armed constable in front.

Go away! Go back immediately. rebuking him sharply, the constable ordered him to retrace his steps.

Shri Maharajji was speechless. Bending his head, he returned sadly. The policeman followed him for some distance and thereafter left. With saddened heart Maharajji came back to his place and lay down. Being able to sleep was out of the question and the entire night passed by in tumultuous thoughts.

Somehow Maharajji passed the day. The same obsession gripped him once again with the onset of night. Piercing the dense forest he had reached the same summit by midnight.

Shri Maharaj ji Is Ordered to Go Back

Who are you? You were forbidden to come here yesterday. Then why have you come? Return! Never come back again! “The same constable's voice resounded like the blowing of a conch shell,

Maharajji was stupefied and returned with bent head as if driven by a machine.

Next morning Maharajji naturally asked a saint whether constables went on guard in the mountain at night.

Is there gold or silver stashed in the mountain that police guards need to patrol the place. We have never heard of or seen such a thing for the past so many years” the saint replied with a laugh.

Maharaj ji Returns to Vrindavan

Shri Maharajji understood that this episode was the lila of mischievous Prankster Krishna. He gave up the idea of leaving his body and came back to Vrindavan.

[1]     Giriwardhari: Krishna had lifted mount Goverdhan when Indra lashed down his fury on the denizens of Braj
[2]     Padkodis: fried gram flower snack
[3]     Phool bangala: the mandir is decorated with flowers in summer to give a cool effect
[4]     Religious rapture: emotionally charged state or trance like state of religious rapture, through  deep absorption one may directly experience the feelings and moods of another realm.  
[5]     Ashtapadi: eight verses
[6]     Ragatmik bhakti: Sri Rupa Gosvami has defined raganuraga-bhakti as spontaneous attraction for something while completely absorbed in thoughts in it, with an intense desire of love.The spontaneous dealings of the residents of Vrindavana in relationship with Krisna are called raganuraga. These being dont have to learn anything about devotional service; they are already perfect in all regulative principles and have achieved the spontaneous loving service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. For example, the cowherd boys who are playing with Krisna do not have to learn by austerities or penances or Yogic practice how to play with Him. They have passed all tests of regulative principles in their previous lives, and as a result they are now elevated to the position of direct association with Krisna as His dear friends. Their spontaneous attitude is called raganuraga-bhakti.
[7]     Mukut: crown
[8]     Chandrika: the eye of peacock's tial, a decoration of Krishna's head
[9]     Complete eagerness: when one is sufficiently eager to achieve success in devotional service it is called samutkantah. This means complete eagerness, actually this yearning is the price for achieving success in beholding Krishna

No comments: