Day 2 – 13 November 2018
Written by Rukmini dd
“The Varsana parikrama is situated around the Sriji Temple. The different hills here are demigods incarnating in this way to place the feet of the devotees on their heads.”
First, we got lost but there is no wrong turn in Vrndavana. Following in the footsteps of the spiritual master, each step takes us closer to Krsna. A narrow path surrounded by soft sands leads us to Sancaricor; a narrow valley where two hills meet. Here, Krsna would stop the gopis who carried their butter and cream on their heads and demand a tax for passage. In the same line, the villagers line the pathway, “Daan karo.”
In a nearby clearing Maharaja perches on a small parapet with his back against a pillar, gazing at the hills and singing kirtan. Rectangular rocks with a smooth finish and mega-sized cow dung patties form the backdrop. “We are chanting for pure love of God”, he says. “Therefore our chanting is the echo of the chanting of the pure devotees. It releases the karma that people leave here. It is our service to the dhama.” We respond to each mantra, aiding his offering.
He focuses on how the pastimes of Krsna are of two types: prakat (manifest) and aprakat (unmanifest). But what is manifest to us? Not much. We do not see a tax collector with a peacock feather. He questions the village boys if they have seen such a tax collector. “He is just now coming,” they assure him. It is through the acaryas that the unmanifest can become visible to us.
Another theme was that all the activities of the spiritual world are of deep intensity. When Krsna left, the residents of Vrndavana simply stood there. Their bodies remaining but their minds had gone along with Krsna. We have come to Vrndavana but part of our minds are still in the places we have come from. Are we really in Varsana? But through the acaryas, what is unmanifest can become visible and we can begin to appreciate the spiritual world and develop a desire to go there.
Leaving Sacaricor, we journey up a long winding staircase to Moor Kutir. The priests urge us to take off our socks and cover our heads before entering. The altar is a little obscure but we sit in the hall decorated with peacocks opposite the temple and Maharaja leads kirtan. The devotees soon rise and dance. In this place, Radha and Krsna dress up as peacocks and dance. “You are all dancing like peacocks,” he says.
In the parikiya relationship, there is no obligation as there would be in marriage. Srimati Radharani must conquer Krsna at each moment. Maharaja applies this meditation to our own devotional service. No matter how much service we render and for however long, we may get some recognition from Krsna but it never affords us any right to Krsna’s mercy. We also must conquer Krsna again and again.
A panda wants us to leave and Maharaja humbly obliges. “We are given a fleeting moment of meditation, but in such a place, a moment is all we need.”
The Rajpur Temple
Above Moor Kutir is a pathway leading to the Rajpur Temple. This route is significantly shorter than our previous visit to Varsana. “I took some shortcuts,” Maharaja said, and we were grateful.
Someone says that the deities are Koshal Bihari. Maharaja confirms that the temple was built by the Jat kings from Bharatpur. It is beautiful sandstone structure and we find a peaceful spot on the left. A mellow kirtan gears up to rocking quickly and soon we attract an audience. Maharaja throws his hands in the air, raising the enthusiasm of the pilgrims in orchestra fashion.
Maharaja reads from the Nectar of Devotion. He expands on the perception of love in this world and how it infiltrates ISKCON: Romeo and Juliet with Radha and Krsna in the background. Even if we find a love that is pure it will not transcend death. He gives the example of the Taj Mahal. Even if it would transcend death for a while, it cannot transcend birth and death for in the next lifetime you will not even recognise the person. But who can avoid the Romeo and Juliet syndrome? The essence is that we want to be loved.
“Covered in this way who is really in Varsana? What should we do if we are miles away? Should we cry? What if we have no tears? All we can do is call out for the mercy of Lord Caitanya, Srila Prabhupada and their representatives.”
The climax of our journey is at the ethereal Sriji Temple. Located at the peak of Varsana, it boasts a breathtaking view of the villages below. The temple is busy as it always is, with ancient deities of Radha and Krsna. We move to the back balcony and immerse in harinama led by Harinamananda Prabhu. Bystanders join in. They dance and chant and take selfies. We create a stir. Maharaja dances the two-hundred-step descent to the buses.