Sri Radha kund

Radhakunda is considered by Gaudiya Vaishnavas the topmost holy place in the Braja area. There are two holy lakes (kunda) right next to each other. The town here is also known as Aristavan. In this village, the demon Aristasura was killed by Krishna. Radhakunda is 26 km (16 miles) west of Mathura in India.

For years Radhakunda and Syamakunda were lost and no one knew exactly where they were located. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Vrindavana in the year 1515, He rediscovered these two important kundas. Part of the parikrama of Govardhana Hill is going around Radha- and Syamakunda. Radharani and Krishna have their midday pastimes at Radhakunda. When Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami first stayed at Radhakunda, Radhakunda and Syamakunda were only 12 feet by 12 feet in size. At that time one rich man named Sampanna went to Badrinath to offer Lord Narayana a large donation. In a dream Lord Krishna told him to go to Radhakunda and give the money to Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami to renovate the kundas which he did. Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami and Jiva Gosvami supervised the expansion of the kundas around 1554. In the center of Radhakunda is a small walled-in area called Kancana-Kunda. This kunda is said to mark the location of the original kunda that Srimati Radharani and the gopis dug with their bangles. It is said that Vajranabha built a bathing tank at Syamakunda to commemorate the place where Krishna killed Aristasura. When there is water in Syamakunda, this kunda cannot be seen. When Syamakunda is empty, you can see a wall encircling a small deep kunda in the center of Syamakunda. This kunda is called Vajranabha-Kunda, Syamakunda is also known as Arista-Kunda.

In the eight directions surrounding Radhakunda are the kunjas (garden grove’s) of Sri Radha’s asta-sakhis (eight main gopis). They are the kunjas of Lalita Devi, Vishakha Devi, Citra Devi, Indulekha Devi, Campakala Devi, Ranga Devi, Tungavidya Devi, and Sudevi. Sri Ananga Manjari’s kunja is in the center of Radhakunda. Radhakunda appeared at midnight on Bahulastami, the eighth day (astami) of the waning moon, in the month of Kartika (October-November). On that day, thousands of people come and bathe at midnight in Radhakunda. It is an ecstatic and blissful event.

"Mathura is superior to Vaikuntha because Lord Krishna appeared there. Vrindavana is superior to Mathura because Krishna performed his rasa-lila there. Govardhana Hill is superior to Vrindavana because Krishna lifted it and enacted many blissful pastimes there. But the super excellent Radhakunda stands supreme above all for it is overflowing with the ambrosia nectarean prema of Radha and Krishna. (Sri Upadesamrita, verse 9)

"Great sages say that Radhakunda is as dear to Krishna as Radha Herself. Indeed, Krishna’s love for Radhakunda and Srimati Radharani is the same in all respects." (Sri Upadesamrita verse II purport).

The Appearance of Radhakunda

The story of Radhakunda is that one demon named Aristasura, in the body of a bull, was killed by Krishna. The gopis (cowherd girls) told Krishna, "that for killing a bull, the symbol of religion, He had to purify Himself by visiting every single holy place in the three worlds. If you take bath at all the holy places, You will be relieved of the offense of killing him."Krishna then said, "Why should I visit all these places? I will just bring the water from all these places here and then bathe in them." Krishna then struck His heel on the ground and all the waters of all the holy places entered into Syamakunda. Krishna then bathed in Syamakunda. He finished his bath sometime before midnight. After bathing, he said that the gopis had become impure because they had sided with a demon, even though he had been in the form of a bull. The gopis led by Radharani then dug another pond nearby with their bangles. There was no water in the hole, so the gopis formed a line to Manasa Ganga and began to fill the hole they dug by passing water from one gopi to another. Then a representative of all the sacred places told Radharani. "Our lives would be successful if we could enter Your pond." The holy waters from Syamakunda then flowed into Radhakunda with the permission of Radha. So Radhakunda is the holy waters from all the sacred places.

Lord Caitanya Discovers Radhakunda

"Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu asked the local people, ‘Where is Radhakunda?’ No one could inform Him, and the brahmana accompanying Him did not know either."The Lord then understood the holy place called Radhakunda was no longer visible. However, being the omniscient Supreme Personality of Godhead. He discovered Radhakunda and Syamakunda in two paddy fields. There was only a little water, but He took His bath there."When the people of the village saw Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taking His bath in those two ponds in the middle of the paddy fields, they were very astonished. The Lord then offered His prayers to Sri Radhakunda."Of all the gopis, Radharani is the dear most. Similarly the lake known as Radhakunda is very dear to the Lord because it is very dear to Srimati Radharani."Srimati Radharani is most dear to Lord Krishna, and Her lake known as Radhakunda is also very dear to Him. Of all the gopis, Srimati Radharani is certainly the most beloved. In that lake, Lord Krishna and Srimati Radharani used to sport daily in the water and have a rasa-dance on the bank."Indeed Lord Krishna gives ecstatic love like that of Srimati Radharani to whoever bathes in that lake even once in his life. The attraction of Radhakunda is as sweet as that of Srimati Radharani. Similarly, the glories of the kunda are as glorious as Srimati Radharani."Because of its wonderful transcendental qualities, Radhakunda is as dear to Krishna as Srimati Radharani. It was in that lake that the all opulent Lord Sri Krishna performed His pastimes with Srimati Radharani with great pleasure and transcendental bliss. Whoever bathes just once in Radhakunda attains Srimati Radharani’s loving attraction for Sri Krishna. Who within this world can describe the glories and sweetness of Sri Radhakunda?" (Chaitanya Caritamrita Madhya 18.3-14).

Description of Radhakunda in the Spiritual World

Radhakunda is surrounded by Kadamba, Campaka, Ashoka, Mango, Punnaga (white lotus) and Bakula trees, and Lavanga and Vasnati creepers. The banks are decorated with different kinds of gems. Radha and Krishna swing on a gold gem-studded swing, hanging from a tree. Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur gives a description of Radhakunda is his book, Gita Mala. The banks of Radhakunda are made of desire-fulfilling touchstones. There are hundreds of beautiful transcendental gardens surrounding the lake. The trees and creepers of the gardens are made of coral and rubies and the fruits they produce are pearls and diamonds. Krishna Dasa Kaviraj in his Sri Govinda-lilamrita and Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti in his Sri Krishna Bhavanamrita, describe Radhakunda in the spiritual world. On the four sides of Radhakunda are jeweled stairways leading to jeweled bathing ghatas. A jeweled bridge connects Radhakunda with Syamakunda. On either side of the ghatas are pairs of swings. There are jeweled platforms around the stairs of the ghatas, flanking gem-studded cottages. There are many shade trees and flowering creepers. These flowering creepers have unlimited flowers. On all sides of Radhakunda are kalpa-vriksa (wish-fulfilling) trees. The bathing ghatas are surrounded by various kunjas (forest grooves or gardens).

Kunjas of Eight Sakhis

Radhakunda is surrounded by the kunjas (garden grove’s)of the eight main sakhis.

1. Sri Lalita Sakhi’s Kunja (north, lightning) is the largest kunja. There are platforms made of gold, sapphires, crystal and lapis-lazuli. In the center of a courtyard is a golden temple called Ananga Rangambuja, which is in the shape of a 1,000 petal lotus.
2.Sri Visaka Devi’s Kunja (northeast).
3.Sri Citra Devi’s Kunja (east, multi-coloured) has a wonderful variety of forms and colours. Citra means "variegated or wonderful."
4.Sri Indulekha Devi’s Kunja (southeast, white). Everything is completely white in color, including the trees, thrones, cottage, etc.
5.Sri Campakalata Devi’s Kunja (south, gold).
6.Sri Ranga Devi’s Kunja (southwest, Syama-blue) is Srimati Radharani’s favorite, because the dark blue colour of everything reminds Her of Krishna.
7.Sri Tungavidya Devi’s Kunja (west, crimson). Everything is a crimson color in this Kunja and the entire grove is inlaid with rubies.
8.Sri Sudevi Devi’s Kunja (northwest, green). Everything is green. It has emerald covered thrones.
9.Sri Ananga Manjari’s Kunja is in the center of Radhakunda. It is connected to the north bank of Radhakunda by a crystal bridge. The north bank is where Janava Devi’s sitting place is located. In the center of this kunja is a jeweled temple.

Kunjas of the Eight Sakhas

Syamakunda is surrounded by the kunjas of the eight main sakhas (cowherd boyfriends), called priya- narma sakhas. These boys are Krishna’s most intimate cowherd boyfriends and they understand and are submissive to Krishna’s dealing with the gopis. The cowherd boys give their kunjas to different sakhis to manage.
1. Subala Kunja (northwest) is on the side of Syamakunda where Manasa-pavana-Ghata is located. It is managed by Radha Rani and the rest of the sakhis bathe daily at 12 noon at manasa-pavana-Ghata.
2.Madhumangala’s Kunja (north) is managed by Lalita Devi.
3.Ujjvala’s Kunja (northwest) is managed by Visakha Devi.
4.Arjuna’s Kunja (east) is managed by Citra Devi.
5.Gandharva’s Kunja (southeast) is managed by Indulekha.
6.Vidagdha’s Kunja (south) is managed by Campakalata.
7.Kokeela’s Kunja (southwest) is managed by Ranga Devi.
8.Sanandananda’s Kunja (west) is managed by Tungavidya Devi.

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