Day 7 – 18 November 2018
Written by Harsarani devi dasi
After a very bumpy ride on the bus, Day 7 of the Vrindavan parikrama led us to Sunhera at the Sudevi Sakhi Temple. It was not arranged for us to be here but somehow the driver took a different turn. Sudevi is one of the eight principle varistha gopis. This temple was very small but quaint with a painted courtyard.
As we all stumbled out of the bus, we were welcomed by streaming heat from the sun that penetrated down to us. It was a clear blue morning with not a cloud in sight. The sound of the birds chirping was getting louder with the imminent arrival of HH Kadamba Kanana Maharaj who was accompanied by HH Bhakti Ashraya Vaishnava Maharaj.
As Bhakti Ashraya Vaishnava Maharaj had been residing in Vrindavan for many years, Kadamba Kanana Swami kindly suggested that Vaishnava Maharaj should elaborate on Sudevi and the gopis:
“Sudevi Temple is an important place. Our destination is to get love of Godhead by sanctioning Radharani. Narottama Das Thakura narrated Vraja as a Cintamani dhama: a golden lotus with eight petals, where each petal represents one of the eight gopis. At the centre of the lotus is Radharani and Krsna. The asta-sakhis’ main focus is on Radharani and to assist her in every way in order to attract Krsna. The asta-sakhis in turn are assisted by the manjaris, headed by Lalita who is assisted by Rupa Manjari. This mood is very specific to her group of gopi followers. There are other groups of gopis who are in competition with Radharani’s group of gopis. We are always in the mood of assisting the living entities. As Srila Prabhupada states that the nature of the jiva is to be a servant, therefore the highest service is to be the servant of the servant.”
Our next stop was Kamyavan, the place where the original deity of Vrinda devi resided. It is a very small and simple temple. Kamyavan is one of the twelve main forests of Vrindavan. The deity of Vrinda devi was installed by Vrajranabha who was Lord Krsna’s great-grandson. When the muslims sieged Vrindavan, most of the deities were moved to Jaipur. However, Vrinda devi refused to leave since she could not bear to be separated from Vrindavan.
As we walked to take the darshan of Vrinda devi, the markings of our footprints had heavily etched onto the thick layer of the sacred Vrindavan dust. Kadamba Kanana Maharaj explained that a few days ago, we were meditating on Vrinda devi who organised the pastimes of Radharani and Lord Krsna and that she is actually the manifestation of Radharani.
Maharaj said that the Radha Govinda deities were pratibhu deities (the replacement of the original deities). They were installed after the departure of the original deities that were taken to Jaipur. In Jaipur, the original Radha-Govinda deities are still there. The devotees there are worshiping these deities. So Vrindavan is manifested over there, according to Maharaj. One time Maharaj was there in the Radha-Govinda Temple and an old lady was pulling at his cloth. Then she gave him a little binocular which he used to take darshan of the deities close up. He noticed that Govinda-ji was wearing a watch. Even Gopinatha was wearing a watch!
“The devotees there are giving the Lord everything. They know that if they neglect the deities, then the deities will come back to Vrindavan. The mood of Lord Caitanya – distributing love of God – is everywhere. The people of Jaipur are also distributing. When water is distributed there, then it is lots of water due to lots of mercy.”
Maharaj points out that Srila Prabhupada classed Vrindavan as his home, Mayapur as a place where he worships, and Bombay as his office. The goswamis were also mentioned because it was them who had excavated all of the forgotten places here in Vrindavan as per Lord Caitanya’s instructions.
Vaishnava Maharaj then recited the daily prayers to Vrinda devi and retold a pastime about Radha-Krsna and the gopis.
The final destination was Vimal Kund which is the main place in Kamyavan. This beautifully forest-coloured kund was surrounded by ancient russet buildings.
“So how to cover it in one day? We need to travel in our mind to all the other places, then we can do it. It is not possible by any other means. Here in Kamyavan, we see that many pastimes took place. Pandavas were here.”
Maharaj retold the following pastimes that took place here:
- A well known story of Durvasa Muni where he came to the Pandavas with sixty-thousand disciples who all happened to be very hungry.
- The story of the Pandavas and the huge crane who would not let them drink water from the kund unless if they answered all of the questions correctly.
- Asvattama came here after he was exiled by Arjuna for having killed Arjuna’s sleeping children.
- The gopis challenged Lord Krsna to prove that he was the Supreme Lord by building a bridge like Lord Ramacandra did with the monkeys.
“We are developing our relationship with the dhama as we are visiting these places. The shadow reflection of ecstasy – chaya bhava – can be gained by visiting the dhams or through devotee association. We become more and more purified and so the dhama gives us chaya bhava. In the Gopala Campu, Srila Jiva Goswami states how the dhama has so much love for Krsna. So that love is everywhere and some of it has rubbed off onto this kund. We pray that we may get some of that love for Krsna. We are here to meditate and to pray to get some ecstasy and love of God. Lord Balarama provides Vrindavan. His love for Krsna is very deep. By being here, some can get that shadow reflection and develop some love for Krsna. Vrindavan is also one of the five principles limbs of bhakti which can quickly give us the love of God.”
Vaishnava Maharaj then recited some more pastimes of Lord Krsna as per Kadamba Kanana Maharaj’s request.
“One can only see the dhama with the ears.”