Written by Nandan
Visit to Rama-Ghat and Chir-Ghat
It was 8 am in the morning (Sunday, 1st November 2015) and everyone was getting ready to get on the bus outside the Chitrakuta ashram, about three hundred yards down the road from the Krsna Balaram temple. In India, one must have a high degree of surrender and realise that things seldom go according to plan. True to form, this morning was no different. It turned out there were not enough seats on the bus. Instead of waiting around, Maharaj took the initiative and got some extra cars for the excess passengers. While this was going on, a young boy had come to beg from the devotees on the bus. Vishvambhar Caitanya Prabhu decided to give him a kachori. The boy looked at the kachori in his hand, poked it a bit and then looked decidedly unimpressed! Some of the devotees smiled at this event; it did give a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. It seems they can!
Anyhow, the whole endeavour with the vehicles was for a trip to Rama-Ghat and Chir-Ghat where Lord Balaram and Lord Krsna respectively performed some of their intimate pastimes.
It was a long dusty drive through the flat, arid countryside of Uttar Pradesh with its never ending fields of varying shades of sandy brown. Externally, Vraj can seem like a dry, hard land so all glories to Purnamasi who has done an excellent job in keeping the real glories of Vraj Mandal covered to the non-believers.
After passing by countless hamlets with buffaloes, mud huts, hay pyramids, stray dogs and kids with blackish-brown hair burnt by the Indian sun, the vehicles eventually got to a village, in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, and there in the middle was a small, unassuming temple.
Like the Radha Gokulananda temple, this temple also had an old authentic feel and potency to it despite its crumbling walls, uneven surfaces and eroding paintwork. So this was Rama-Ghat – dedicated to Lord Balaram. Kadamba Kanana Swami then introduced HH Bhakti Ashray Vaishnava Swami who he has known for 30 years. Maharaj mentioned how Bhakti Ashray Vaishnava Swami is a very saintly person and that is why he always has a grey beard! The devotees chuckled at this. It turns out, this sannyasi has been to every nook and corner of Vrindavan and has immense dedication to the dhamas.
So both Kadamba Kanana Swami and Bhakti Ashray Vaishnava Swami gave wonderful talks on this amazing place. Lord Balaram had selected this spot to do his own rasa dance with his consorts, so it is also known as Balaram Rasasthali. However, the locals know it as Ensha (pulling) Dauji (Balaram), the place where Lord Balaram got angry and threatened to pull Yamuna Devi towards Rajasthan where she would dry up. This was because she refused to let him cool down in her waters while he was in his varuni intoxicated rasa mood.
Maharaj went onto speak further glories about Lord Balaram, how he is serious while Krsna is naughty and how if we want Krsna bhakti, we must approach Lord Balaram as he is ‘Adi Guru’. Maharaj then continued with wonderful narrations of Lord Balaram’s pastimes from the Srimad Bhagavatam.
So Tapavan was where the Gopis performed their katyayani vrata to get Krsna as their husband. Maharaj then made the astute observation that because Chir-Ghat was the place where the Gopis had their clothes stolen by Krsna, so in a way their vrata was fulfilled because in Vedic culture, a woman could only be in a state of undress in front of her husband. So maybe it was Krsna’s arrangement to come here first before going to Chir-Ghat.
Despite the arid regions around it and the name Tapavan, it was actually a very beautiful, leafy area, with lush, green surroundings. Then was a column of Tulsi in the middle of the place and all the devotees sat near this column, in front of the beautiful Radha Krsna deities that were surrounded by the cooling shade of the green trees.
Maharaj said to just imagine in this setting, Krsna playing on his flute, with lips red like the bimba fruit and shark, shaped earrings swaying from side to side… so peaceful! It was a beautiful meditation. Then a gentle and sombre kirtan followed.
Maharaj then started extolling the glories of Vrindavan, asserting that the material energy cannot work in Vrindavan, it does not last! The Vrindavan effect will make it all doomed. These high rise apartments won’t last. Natural is the best way in Vrindavan with trees and wells, etc…
Soon we went to Chir-Ghat by which time everyone was rather exhausted and attentions were waning, so since it was right next to the Yamuna, all the devotees went in for a nice dip. Meanwhile, Maharaj was keeping a watch over the devotees as they went in. It was rather funny, reminding one of the father keeping an eye on the kids as they go into the sea. Even at the end, Maharaj said to all of us, “Okay, come on, let’s go now!” like a classic parent!
HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj ki Jai!!