Written by Rukmini

A change of heart with Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govindajī

 dīvyad-vṛndāraṇya-kalpa-drumādhaḥ-
śrīmad-ratnāgāra-siṁhāsana-sthau
śrīmad-rādhā-śrīla-govinda-devau
preṣṭhālībhiḥ sevyamānau smarāmi

“In a temple of jewels in Vṛndāvana, underneath a desire tree, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, served by Their most confidential associates, sit upon an effulgent throne. I offer my humble obeisances unto Them.” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi-līlā 1.16)

The delayed darśana of Madana-mohana combined with more encounters with the ‘bus demon’ resulted in us entering Jaipur close to midnight. Our hosts were far from asleep. Mahārāja and the devotees arrived to a shower of rose petals from a spiralling staircase as they entered the Rawla Mrignayani Hotel. It was previously a palace of a minor kṣatriya ruler. In the morning light it revealed itself to be a most charming location, with intricately designed low arches, lavish courtyards, stained glass windows, lampshades and water fountains. It oozed with Jaipur’s rich traditional art, nothing monotone. The lower floors were in full vision of the upper ones making it very homey and you could step out of your room to find Mahārāja and the devotees peacefully chanting in the courtyards in the morning sun. It was a shade heavenly.

The whole town of Jaipur flows to Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govindajī. They are the hub of all activity and after breakfast we joined the flow. Mahārāja reminded us in Vṛndāvana that Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govindajī are the original Deities of Rūpa Gosvāmī and as rūpānugas (followers of Rūpa Gosvāmī) Jaipur is our city! The temple is located on grounds belonging to royalty, with lush sprawling gardens just behind. We enter just a couple of hours before the midday darśana, when the Jaipur bazaars close, not for a siesta, but to devotedly set eyes on Rādhā-Govindajī once more. At the temple there is an outer current of people flowing around the Deities in parikramā with an inner space teeming with those eager for darśana. Govindajī is large with intricate designs on His cheeks in orangy-yellow sandalwood and red-rimmed eyes. A golden Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī stands next to Him with a silver cow behind Them. In brilliant orange and gold, They have definite royal presence. Avoiding the crowds, we settle comfortably in the gardens, our aching bodies (remnants from combat with the bus demon) sinking into the soft, damp grass. “These journeys are lots of ecstasy,” said Mahārāja, “but not much rest.”

He began with a description by Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī of the worship of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govindajī when They were in Vṛndāvana. It was the main temple, with thousands of Lord Caitanya’s followers residing nearby. On the highest tower, a lamp was lit every night. In Agra, 60 km away, a notorious mogul ruler, Aurangzeb, saw the glow of Rādhā-Govinda’s supremacy. Burning with envy, he launched an attack on the temple. The Vṛndāvana Vaiṣṇavas, however, had already devised an undercover mission to send Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda to Jaipur for Their protection. Ever since, Vṛndāvana has been trying to get Them back and Jaipur will not give Them. Such is the transcendental Deity wars that exist even today. Rādhā-Govindajī did not come alone; the spirit of Lord Caitanya’s mercy, His teachings and Vaiṣṇava pūjārīs all came with. While Mahārāja spoke, a kind gentlemen approached with a gift of mahā-prasādam laḍḍus in that same spirit of mercy. Laḍḍus are a huge part of Rādhā-Govinda’s mercy. Mahārāja had us buy as much as possible and save some for ‘Ron (‘later on’ in colloquial Australian).

Radha-Govindaji

Mahārāja mentioned that Deities are especially powerful when they are installed by one with pure devotion. How can we understand this? Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (our handbook) explains that devotional service is ‘śrī-kṛṣṇākarṣiṇī’, it attracts Kṛṣṇa, therefore the purity and potency of Rūpa Gosvāmī’s devotional service makes Rādhā-Govinda so supremely captivating.

Rūpa Gosvāmī provides us with abhidheya-tattva, or ‘the path to follow’ in devotional service. He teaches us how to simply serve without material desire. Although Sanātana Gosvāmī is elder, Rūpa Gosvāmī is considered senior because he is the rasācārya. At Karauli, Kadamba Kanana Swami mentioned that in sambandha-jñāna (represented by Madana-mohana) we adjust our external behaviour but it is with Rādhā-Govinda that the heart actually changes. Govinda is the instructor (as with Bhagavad-gītā) and He teaches us how to develop our devotional service. When our heart changes, then we may ask, “Material world? I heard it stopped existing. What is there besides our relationship with Govinda?”

The next morning, steady streams of japa filled the quiet Jaipur streets, as a group of eager beavers trekked to the Govindajī temple for maṅgala-ārati. The temple was alive, brimming with locals who stop by before work, and yet it was peaceful in its fullness. It felt otherworldly. Gentle but potent chants of “Rādhe Govinda, Rādhe Govinda” saturate the atmosphere and role off our tongues effortlessly. A whole city of voices united in devotion. Seeing Govindajī standing in the sweet simplicity of His night dress is mind-blowing. His cheeks, now smooth and bare, give emphasis to His eyes. They penetrate into our souls, pulling us closer and mystically we find ourselves right in front of Him.

Oh Govindajī, we offer our words, our possessions, our energy and our intelligence. Please accept us and flood our lives with Your service. We, Kali-yuga pilgrims, place our faulty hearts at your feet; may you edit as needed and infuse within them the spirit of devotion.

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