Archive for July, 2017

Sri Bade Dauji – courtesy Sri Vrindavantoday

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2017 by padmanabhdas

These days the history of Vrindavan is being forgotten and the center of attraction for visiting devotees has been limited to only one ancient ancient temple, along with a few modern temples. At such a pivotal moment in Vrindavan’s history, it is of the utmost importance to present the story of Vrindavan’s temples to the world.

From time to time we at Vrindavan Today endeavor to introduce you to some of the ancient temples of Vrindavan. Among all the temples, Thakur Shri Govind Dev Ji Maharaj is known as the King of Vrindavan. The original Govind Dev is now in Jaipur, but a pratibhu vigraha (second form) of him still resides in the new temple situated behind the ancient temple.
But before learning about Govind Dev, it is important to learn about his elder brother Bade Dauji (Baldev). Bade Dauji originally resided on the premesis of Govind Dev Ji’s temple. When the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb invaded Vrindavan, Govind Dev and many other deities were spirited away to safety in Jaipur. But Bade Dauji remained in Vrindavan. The devotees took Baldev out of Govind Dev’s temple and hid him near Vrindavan’s Govind Kunj.

Temple sevayat Shri Deepak Goswami says, “The story of Bade Dauji is similar to that of Vrinda Devi and Yogamaya. Before, he resided within Shri Govind Dev ji’s temple itself. When Aurangzeb invaded, the sevayats of Govind Dev entrusted Bade Dauji to my ancestors. For some time he was worshipped in a simple structure behind Govind Dev ji’s temple. Later, a temple was constructed for him in Anaj Mandi. In 1835 the Queen of Karauli rennovated the temple.

“There is a verse in this regard. Vrindavan katan lagau, bhaag gae sab dev, Vrindavan thaade rahe yamunaa aur baldev. ‘When grave danger fell upon Vrindavan, all the deities left. Only Shri Yamuna and Baldev Ji remained in Vrindavan.’

“It is said that Raja Jaisingh’s daughter wanted to take Baldev Ji to Jaipur, but she had to go back empty handed. The night before she was supposed to leave, she carefully placed him on a cart. But that night Bade Dauji came in her dream and said, ‘I will not leave Braj.’ In the morning, the princess bowed to Bade Dauji and left on her own for Jaipur.”
The temple of Bade Dauji is situated near the Syndicate Bank, just a short distance from the Nagar Palika.

may-birds-Vraj-delight-us

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21, 2017 by padmanabhdas

May the birds of Braj, who are so dear to Sri Radha and Krishna, who know Them very well and who increase Their happiness with their sweet singing, delight us with their merciful glance. Verse 71:
paricaya rasa magnāḥ kāmamārāt tayor ye
madhuratara rutenollāsam ullāsayanti
vrajabhuvi nava yūnoḥ supriyāḥ pakṣiṇas te
vidadhatu mama saukhyaṁ sphāram ālokanena

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Shri Raghunath Das Goswami praises Braj’s birds, who are very dear to Sri Radha and Krishna. Sripad Shuk Muni mentions that the birds of Vrindavan are all sages. In the words of the Vrajdevis, who were endowed with pūrva rāga (first love) he said:prāyo batāmba vihagā munayo vane’smin
kṛṣṇekṣitaṁ tad uditaṁ kala veṇu gītam
āruhya ye drumabhujān rucira-prabālān
śṛnvanty amīlita-dṛśo vigatānya-vācaḥ

The purport of this verse (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 10.21.14) is that one gopa-sundarī told the other – “O mother! Why do Vrindavan’s birds love Krishna so much? Although they live in the woods and fly from branch to branch, they love Sri Krishna with all their hearts! As soon as they see him or hear his flute from a distance they come flying in groups to the nearest tree branches and sit there like sages fixed in samadhi.
“Although there are ripe fruits and green leaves which they could eat if they wanted to, they do not eat them. They simply sit there motionlessly and silently. Some keep their eyes half-closed, while rivulets of tears trickle from their eyes, while others mumble ‘Krishna Krishna’. Therefore I think that they are all sages, and not just sages, but devotee sages (bhāgavata pravara muni) who have flown away from the branches of the wish-yielding tree of the Vedas and have taken shelter of the branches of Vrindavan’s trees, from where they can see Krishna. They love Krishna very much, hence they are immersed in meditation on his lotus feet, sitting in this tree.”
The birds whom Das Goswami praises in this verse are very well acquainted with Sri Radha and Krishna, because they always stay very close to Them. These birds, for example the parrots, awaken the Divine Pair with sweet songs of awakening at night’s end.vṛndā vipinahi saba dvija kula; kūjaye caudiśe hoi ākula
sāri śuka tahi kokila meli; kapota phukārata alikula keli
mayūra mayūrī dhvani śunite rasāla; bānarī rava tahi ati suviśāla
aichana śabada bhelo vana māha; jāgalo duhuṅ jana nāgarī nāha
ālase duhuṅ tanu duhuṅ nāhi teje; śuti rahalo puna kiśalaya śeje
punahi phukārai śārī sukīra; aichana yaiche sudhārasa gira
kabo balarāma śunabo tahi śravaṇe; rādhā mādhava herabo nayane

“All the birds of Vrindavan are anxiously chirping everywhere. The female and male parrots meet with the cuckoos and sing with the pigeons, while the bees hum. The peacocks and peahens call delightfully and the she-monkeys cry out loud. In this way the forest is filled with natural noises that awaken our hero and heroine, who are both still tired and unable to leaveeach other, and thus lie down again on their bed of fresh flowers. Again the female and fine male parrots make such necterean sounds. When will Balaram das hear these sounds and see Sri Radha and Krishna with his own eyes?vṛndā vacanahi, uṭhai phukārai, śuka pika śārīka pāṅti
śuni tahi jāgi, puna duhuṅ ghumalo, nāyarī korahi yātī
hari hari jāgaho nāgara kāna!
vara pāmara vihi, kiye dukha deyala, rajanī hoyala avasāna
āolo bāurī, varaja maheśvarī, boloto puna dadhi lola
śunaite kātara, vidagadha nāgara, thora nayana yuga khola
nāgarī heri, punar hi diṭhi mudala, pulaka mukula bharu aṅge
balarāma heri, kabahu sukha sāyare, nimajaba rasa taraṅge

“When Vrinda addresses them, the Shuk, Pika and Sharika birds awaken and start to sing. Hearing this, the Divine Pair awakens and falls asleep again. Krishna takes shelter of the lap of his heroine. ‘Wake up, O hero Krishna! What misery the wretched Creator is giving You! The night is over!’ The monkey named Dadhi-lola says: ‘The crazy old woman (Jatila) has come!’ Hearing this, our clever hero Krishna becomes very distressed and slightly opens his eyes. Seeing his heroine he closes his eyes once again, his skin studded with sprout-like goosebumps.’ Balaram das says: ‘When will I float on billowing waves of ras an ocean of bliss as I witness all this?’”
These birds give boundless bliss to the Divine Pair and Their girlfriends with their messenger-services and their descriptions of Sri Radha and Krishna’s glories, and sometimes the shuk and shari (the parrots and mynah birds) greatly increase the bliss of the Divine Pair and Their girlfriends by choosing Radha or Krishna’s side and making a wonderful loving quarrel amongst each other. Das Goswami says: “May these birds, who are very dear to the Divine Couple, delight me with their merciful glance!”vṛndāvane pakṣigaṇe, yugalera sannidhāne,
nirantara kore avasthāna
rasa magna sucatura, dhvani kori sumadhura,
kore doṅhāra ānanda vardhana

“Vrindavan’s birds always stay near the Divine Couple, immersed in ras, increasing Their delight by sweetly and cleverly singing,”sei sab pakṣigaṇe, karuṇa nayāna koṇe,
āmā pāne bāreka tākāo
preme kaṇṭha phulāiyā, rase ḍagamagi hoiyā,
guṇa gābo ei mati dāo

“May all these birds cast one merciful sidelong glance at me and give me the intelligence to sing the glories of the Divine Couple with a voice blossoming with love, immersed in ras.”

The guardians of Radha Kund and Mahaprabhu’s love for Shiva – courtesy Vrindavantoday.com

Posted in Uncategorized on July 20, 2017 by padmanabhdas

SRI RADHAKUND (Sakhicharan Das): Radhakund is protected in all four directions by Mahadev. The two most ancient mandirs are Kundeshwar Mahadev and Bankhandi Mahadev. When coming to Radhakund it is best to first stop and offer your obeisances and prayers to Mahadev and seek his permission to enter Radhakund. Kundeshwar Mahadev protects the south side of Radhakund. Bankhandi Mahadev protects the east side. Rameshwar Mahadev protects the west side and the Mahadev shrine adjacent to the Radha Raman Mandir guards the north side. I have attached some photos I took of these four Mahadev temples and told the story from Caitanya Mangal, by Locan Das Thakur about Mahaprabhu entering the village of Ekamraka, which is the place of Shiva and Parvati and is located at Bhubaneshwar. Jai Bholenath!
Gaurahari walking like a ferocious lion eventually arrived at the village of Ekamraka. Shiva and Parvati stay in this village. Gaura’s heart went wild and He ran to see them. Soon Gaura Mahaprabhu found the temple. Great longings filled His heart. He became wild with ecstatic loving emotions. A beautiful flag fluttered on top of the mandir. Seeing the flag on the temple Gaurahari offered obeisances. He got up and continued walking until he was able to enter the temple of Shiva.
In the village of Ekamraka there are ten million Shiva-lingas. The main Shiva-linga is known as Vishveshwar. It is said that the ground of that village looks like sandesa. The waters of all the holy rivers are present in the Maha-bindu sarovar which is there. Many different holy places are also present in that village.
Upon entering the temple, Gaurahari saw Shiva and Parvati. He bowed down before them, and was overcome with prema. Anyone who sees the linga of Shiva and Parvati finds that his troubles are soon broken into pieces. Seeing the linga of Lord Shiva, Gaurahari was overcome with ecstasy. His body trembled, and He was unable to remain peaceful. From His reddish eyes tears flowed nonstop, and the hairs of His body stood on end. Again and again He recited prayers.
Note: Sri Gaurahari then recites prayers that are said to have been composed by Himself to glorify Sri Shiva. The verses are known as Sri Shivastakam—eight verses along with a ninth verse known as the phala-shruti which states the benediction one receives by devotionally reciting these prayers.

Sri Shivashtakam
namo namas te tri-daśeśvarāya
bhūtādi-nāthāyua mṛdāya nityam
gaṅga-taraṅgotthita-bāla-candra-
cūḍāya gaurī-nayanotsavāya

I repeatedly offer my obesisances unto you, controller of the 30 primal devas…unto you, original father of created beings…unto you, whose character is gracious…unto you, whose head is crested by the sickle moon arisen from the waves of the Ganga and unto you, who are a festival for the eyes of the fair Goddess, Sri Gauri.
sutapta-cāmīkara-candra-nīla-padma-
pravālāmbuda-kānti-vastraiḥ
sa nṛtya-raṅgeṣta-vara-pradāya
kaivalya-nāthāya vṛṣa-dhwajāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are dressed in garments resembling molten gold, the moon, blue lotuses, coral, and dark rainclouds…unto you, who bestow the most desirable boons on your devotees by means of your delightful dancing…unto you, who are the master of the impersonalists, and unto you, whose flag bears the image of the bull.
sudhāṁśu-sūryāgni-vilocanena
tamo-bhide te jagataḥ śivāya
sahasra-śubhrāṁśu-sahasra-raśmi-
sahasra-sañjit-tvara-tejase ‘stu

I offer my obeisances unto you, who dispel darkness with your three eyes—the moon, the sun, and the fire…unto you, who causes auspiciousness for all the living entities of the universe and unto you, whose potency easily defeats that of thousands of moons and suns.
nāgeśa-ratnojjvala-vigrahāya
śārdūla-carmāṁśuka-divya tejase
sahasra-patropari saṁsthitāya
varāṅgadāmukta-bhuja dvayāya

I offer my obeisances unto you, whose form is brilliantly illuminated by the jewels of Ananta Deva, the king of snakes…unto you, who are clothed by a tiger skin and thus radiate divine effulgence…unto you, who sit upon a lotus of a thousand petals, and unto you, whose two arms are adorned by lustrous bangles.
su-nūpurārañjita-pāda-padma
kṣarat-sudhā-bhṛtya-sukha-pradāya
vicitra-ratnaugha-vibhūṣitāya
premānam evādya harau videhi

I offer my obeisances unto you, who bring happiness to your servitors as you pour on them the liquid nectar of your reddish lotus-feet, which ring with charming ankle bells….Obeisances unto you, who are adorned with an abundance of gems—please endow me today with pure love for Hari!
śrī rāma govinda mukunda śaure
śri kṛṣṇa nārāyana vāsudeva
ity ādi-nāmāmrta-pāna-matta-
bhṛṅgādhipāyākhila-duḥkha-hantre

O Sri Rama! O Govinda! O Mukunda! O Sauri! O Sri Krishna! O Narayana! O Vasudeva! I offer my obesisances unto you, Sri Shiva, who are the monarch of intoxicated bee-like devotees, maddened by drinking the nectar of these and other Holy Names of the Lord. Obeisances unto you, who destroys all grief.
śrī-nāradādyaiḥ satataṁ sugopya-
jijñāsitāyāśu vara-pradaya
tebhyo harer bhakti-sukha-pradāya
śivāya sarva-gurave namo namaḥ

I offer my respectful obeisances again and again unto you, who are forever inquired of confidentially by Sri Narada and other sages…unto you, who also grant favors to them very quickly…unto you, who bestows the happiness of Hari bhakti…unto you, who create auspiciousness, and unto you, who are the guru of everyone.
śrī-gaurī-netrotsava-maṅgalāya
tat-prāṇa-nāthāya rasa-pradāya
sadā samutkaṇṭha-govinda-līlā-
gāna-pravīṇāya namo ‘stu tubhyam

I offer my obeisances unto you, who are a festival of auspiciousness for the eyes of goddess Gauri…unto you, who are the monarch of her life-breath…unto you, who are capable of bestowing sacred rapture, and unto you, who are expert in forever singing songs of the lila of Govinda with great longing.
etat śivāsyāṣṭakam adbhutaṁ mahat
śṛṇvan hari-prema labheta śīghram
jñānaṁ ca vijñānam apūrva-vaibhavaṁ
yo bhāva-pūrnaḥ paramaṁ samādaram

A person, filled with loving sentiments, and who listens with rapt attention to this eight-fold prayer to Sri Shiva can quickly gain Sri Hari prem as well as transcendental knowledge, the complete realization of that knowledge and unprecedented powers.
Gaurahari recited these prayers to Shiva. His companions who surrounded Him also recited prayers to Shiva. Then one of the Lord Shiva’s pujaris offered Shiva’s prasada remnants of fragrances, sandal paste, and flower garlands. After offering His obeisances to Lord Shiva, Gaurahari left the temple.
Gaurahari went to the home of a devotee and rested. Later He ate, and slept happily. At dawn, He who is the master of the three worlds arose. Gaurahari then bathed, completed his morning duties, and after offering His obeisances to Shiva, He departed. Mahaprabhu continued His journey accompanied by His companions. Now I will describe a conversation that took place between two of His associates, Murari Gupta and Damodar Pandit. Please listen carefully to the description of their conversation. Damodara Pandita asked Murari Gupta, why did Gaurahari who is the Supreme Lord accept the prasada of Lord Shiva? Because of a curse by Bhrgu Muni it is said that no one should accept remnants offered to Lord Shiva. Why then did Gaurahari accept them being fully aware of such a curse? Murari said, please hear me. Oh Damodar, how can I know what is in the heart and mind of Mahaprabhu? I can only speak as far as my intelligence allows. If your heart thinks I speak the truth you may accept my words.
A person who serves Lord Shiva but does not honor the prasadi remnants of Shiva does so only because he thinks that Shiva and Krishna are different. The brahman Bhrgu Muni spoke his curse for people with an impure heart that don’t know Shiva’s true glories. However a person who is fully aware that Shiva and Krishna are non-different, and who serves Shiva should certainly honor the prasad of Lord Shiva. Such a person brings great pleasure both to Siva and to Krishna. Shiva is the king of the Vaisnavs. For this reason he should be worshiped. A person who eats Shiva’s prasad is released from the prison of the material world. In truth Gaur was a guest in Shiva’s house. With a joy filled heart Shiva offered Him all hospitality. Please know that Bhrgu Muni’s curse is meant for the non-Vaisnavs. A Vaishnav who honors Lord Shiva brings pleasure to Sri Krishna. Gaurahari descended to this world to instruct the jivas. Damodar Pandit then said, you have destroyed my foolish ideas. Hearing these words everyone’s heart became full of bliss. In this way Locana dasa narrates Sri Chaitanya dev’s pastimes. This is coming from the madhya-lila of Locan Das Thakur’s book. Similar descriptions can be found in Murari Gupta’s book, Sri Chaitanya Charitra Maha Kavya in the third prakrama of his writing.

Seeing our own God in other froms

Posted in Uncategorized on July 19, 2017 by padmanabhdas

"When we are present in the houses of worship of other religious
practitioners during their rituals, we should remain respectful and reflect
upon the following: Here, before me, is my very own God being worshipped in
a form different than that to which I am accustomed. Because of my different
training and practices, I am unable to completely understand this foreign
worship, but witnessing it gives me even more affection for my own beliefs
and practices. God is one. I prostrate myself before this symbol of the
divine that I see before me. I make obeisance to my Lord who is made
manifest in this alternate form for my benefit and the benefit of others."

-—Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

Today is the disappearance day of Shri Loknath Goswami.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2017 by padmanabhdas

This important day in Vrindavan’s history was celebrated at the Shri Radha-Gokulananda Mandir in Vrindavan, where his samadhi (tomb) is located. Special pooja was held in the morning, after which the suchak kirtan of Shri Loknath Goswami was performed in front of his samadhi.
Devotees lost themselves in the soothing melodies of Shri Narottam Das Thakur’s padavali kirtan, followed by aarti and prasad seva in the main mandir. Shri Achyut Lal Bhatt Goswami offered a special katha for the occasion throughout the week. The festival was presided over by Shri Abhinav Goswami of the Shri Radharaman Temple.

A Childhood Friend of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
Shri Loknath Goswami was a childhood friend of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who became his follower. He was born circa 1483 in Talkhandi village, district Yashohar, in present-day Bangladesh. He is known as the incarnation of a gopi named Manjulali or Lila Manjari.
Loknath came from a scholarly family, and began to study Shrimad Bhagwatam from Adwaitacharya at the age of 14. After completing his studies, Loknath returned home and started his own school.
But Loknath always remained absorbed in the love of Radha and Krishna. Mahaprabhu was always in his heart. Eventually, Loknath renounced the world and came to Nabadwip to surrender himself at Mahaprabhu’s feet. But Mahaprabhu had already decided to take sannyas.

Loknath’s Mission
Mahaprabhu instructed Loknath to go to Vrindavan and rediscover the lost holy places of Shri Krishna’s lila. He followed that instruction with all his heart.
The work was very difficult because the scriptures only give a general idea of where these holy places are, and the forest was thick and full of dangerous animals. But by the mercy of Shri Radharani, he was very successful in his efforts.
The Braj Bhakti Vilas states that Loknath Goswami discovered 333 of the lost holy places in Vrindavan. Bhugarbha Goswami, a disciple of Shri Gadadhar Pandit, assisted him. Later, Shri Roop Goswami, Sanatan Goswami, Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami and others came and continued the seva.
Loknath Goswami did not write any books but it is believed that Shri Roop and Sanatan learned a lot from him, and he may have had a substantial influence upon their writings.

Shri Radhavinod
During the course of his exploration, Loknath Goswami found the deity of Shri Radhavinod in Kishori Kund at Chhatravan. He served him all his life. The original deity of Radhavinod is now in Jaipur, whilst His pratibhu vigraha is worshipped at Shri Radha-Gokulananda temple in Vrindavan. It is said that Shri Radhavinod Ju helped Loknath Goswami find the lost holy places of Braj.

The Next Generation
After Mahaprabhu passed away, many other pillars of the Gaudiya Sampradaya also left this world. Nityananda Prabhu and Advaitacharya left, as did Shri Roop and Sanatan, and Shri Raghunath Bhatt Goswami. Shri Raghunath Das Goswami retired to Radhakund, weeping constant tears of separation.
The only leadersof the Sampraday who were still in Vrindavan were Loknath Goswami, Bhugarbha Goswami, Gopal Bhatt Goswami and Jeev Goswami.
The next generation of the Gaudiya Sampraday was already starting to take form. One of the most promising young aspirants was Narottam Das. He was from a royal family, but renounced it all to live in Vrindavan.
Narottam wanted Loknath to be his guru, but Loknath had taken a vow not to initiate anyone. He also would not accept seva from anyone. But Narottam was determined that only Loknath would be his guru. And so he found every opportunity to serve him in secret.

Narottam’s Guru Seva
Every day at about 3a.m. Narottam went to the place in the forest where Loknath would ease the call of nature. Narottam cleaned the spot with a broom and placed an earthen pot full of water there for Loknath to use. He then hid behind a tree and waited until Loknath came. And after he left, he removed the feces and again swept the spot with a broom.
He did this every day. Narottam was so happy to do this seva for his chosen guru that he would hug the broom and wash it with his tears.
After a year, Loknath began to wonder who was serving him in this way. He decided to find out.
One day he went early to the forest and watched as Narottam came and began to sweep the spot. It was very dark, and Loknath was not able to see him clearly.
“Who are you?” he asked
“I am Narottam.” replied the man in a humble voice.
“Narottam? You do this work every day?”
Loknath was moved and finally agreed to give Narottam initiation. By his blessings, Narottam Das became one of the great leaders of the Gaudiya Sampraday.

Entering Nitya Lila
As Loknath was preparing to leave this world, he gave Narottam his wooden sandals and bade him farewell. He entered the Nitya Lila on Shravan Krishna Ashtami between the years 1583 and 1588AD.

Sri Jagdish das babaji Maharaj at Sri Kaliya daha

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2017 by padmanabhdas

Today is the disappearance day of Sri Jagdish Das Babaji.
Jagdish Das Babaji lived at Kaliyadaha, not far from the temple of Shri Radha-Madanmohan Ju. He was born in a respected Brahmin family from Barddhaman in Bengal, and grew up to become a famous doctor. But he left all that behind to live in Vrindavan and dedicate his life to Radha and Krishna as a renounced monk.
His Gurudev was Siddha Bhagavan Das Babaji of Ambika Kalna. He also got the blessings of many great souls in Vrindavan. One of those great souls was Sri Premanand Goswami of Shringar Vat, a descendant of Shri Nityananda Prabhu.
The Magic of Braj Raj
One day Baba was feeling a heavy lack of inspiration in his bhajan. That day when he visited Shringar Vat, Premanand Goswami noticed Baba’s sadness. He told him to roll in the dust of Vrindavan, which he did immediately. At that moment the joy of Radha and Krishna’s love returned to his heart.
After Premanand Goswami passed away, Baba would roll in the dust of Vrindavan in front of Goswami ji’s samadhi (tomb) if he felt disturbed at heart.

Baba’s Brother Visits from Bengal
Once Baba’s brother came from Bengal to visit him. Upon hearing the news that his brother’s wife had died, Baba said, “Oh, that’s wonderful! Now the bondage of family life is broken for you! You can come to Vrindavan and do bhajan.”
After his brother left, Baba realized his mistake. “I must have hurt my brother very badly,” Baba thought. “I should have comforted him instead.”
Baba had no idea where his brother was staying in Vrindavan, and he did not have his address in Bengal either. So Baba made the journey to Hathras train station three days in a row, hoping to meet his brother there. But unfortunately his brother never came.
Baba then wrote a letter to a friend in Barddhaman, asking him to find his brother and ask forgiveness on his behalf.
At last Baba received a reply from his brother that he was not hurt, but that he would not be visiting anymore, because he felt he had distracted Baba from his bhajan. He did not wish to disturb him further.
An Unusual Feast
Every year on the disappearance day of his Gurudev, Baba used to make a mini festival by offering just a few malpowas (sweet pancakes) and distributing pieces of them as prasad.
Then one year, a devotee gave Baba forty rupees to hold a small feast on the occasion. Baba personally went to the market an bought 20 rupees worth of gur (jaggery) for making malpowas.
When Baba returned home, he left the bags of gur in his hut and went to wash his feet by the well. But he forgot to latch the door. When he came back, he found that a gang of monkeys had torn open the bags and were having a grand time feasting on the gur. Baba laughed began to recite the prem dhwani (prayers before a feast).
That evening the devotee who had sponsored the “feast” came to see Baba. Baba told him, “So many Vaishnavs were served today by your mercy!” But there was no sign that a feast had occurred.
When that devotee asked for prasad, Baba said, “I bought twenty rupees worth of gur and the sacred monkeys of Vrindavan blessed me with their presence. They had a grand festival in my hut and left. Their remnants are still there on the floor, you may take some prasad from there. And here is the rest of your money; please use it to serve the Vaishnavs once more.”
The Devotee who Ate Fish

If anyone ever criticized another person or talked about their faults, Baba used to stop them and tell this story.
“Once a devotee said to Shri Bhagavan Das Babaji Mahashay, ‘So-and-so comes here and he talks like some big devotee. But he has not even given up eating fish!’
“Babaji Mahashay asked him, ‘Have you ever eaten fish?’
“‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘But I don’t eat it anymore.’
“’Just like that, he will also quit eating fish one day,’ replied Babaji Mahashay.
“Shri Bhagavan Das Babaji Mahashay did not approve of this kind of talk. He taught that devotee, ‘It’s not ok to find fault with somebody for doing something you used to do yourself. The soul progresses little by little. Do not look upon anyone’s faults.’”

Baba’s Soft Heart
Baba was always careful to avoid offending anyone. He never used to attend any kirtans or spiritual discources, because he worried he might find fault with the kirtaniyas or the speakers.
Many sadhus prefer to remain absorbed in their own private worship and not to speak with anyone, but Jagdish Das Babaji was not like that. He felt that if someone came to him for advice, it was because Mahaprabhu had sent him, and it was his duty to answer their questions and offer advice. Baba also never hosted any discourses at his place, because he was concerned that if any visitors came during the program, they might not get a chance to meet him and ask their questions.
Whenever a group of devotees came to speak with Baba, Baba would usually ask the questions and answer them himself. He preferred to offer his answers first, and let others express their thoughts afterwards. Otherwise, Baba might have to contradict someone’s opinion, and he preferred not to do so, fearing someone might feel hurt.
Once someone asked Baba, “How can I attain prem? Please instruct me.”
“Would you be able to live here in Vrindavan?” asked Baba.
“No Baba, I wouldn’t be able to do it,” replied the devotee.
“Then take two rupees and buy Srila Narottam Das Thakur Mahashay’s Prarthana and Prem Bhakti Chandrika. Read them all the time and worship according to their teachings. Then you will attain prem.”
Baba used to say, “Shri Gauranga, who came to this world to distribute prem and the Holy Name, mercifully gave us this teaching:তৃণাদপি সুনীচেন তরোরিব সহিষ্ণুনা
অমানিনা মানদেন কীর্তনিযঃ সদা হরিঃ
तृणादपि सुनीचेन तरोरिव सहिष्णुना
अमानिना मानदेन कीर्तनीयः सदा हरिः
trinadapi sunichena taroriva sahishnuna
amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih

One who is humbler than a blade of grass and as tolerant as a tree, who does not expect respect for himself or herself, but who always gives respect to others, can chant Harinaam endlessly.
“As long as you are unable to embody the heart of this verse, you will not attain prem. And however much you are able to follow it, that much closer you will get to prem. The day you perfect your following of this instruction, that day you will attain prem, and you receive the supreme blessing of Sri Krishna’s darshan.”
On June 30th, 1915 AD (ashadh shukla shashti of Bangabda 1322) Sri Jagadish Baba left this world at Kaliyadaha, at about 100 years of age.

Banamali Raibahadur and the Hookah-Smoking Radhavinod

Posted in Uncategorized on July 11, 2017 by padmanabhdas

Rajarshi Banamali Raibahadur’s deities of Sri Radhavinod (better known as “Jamai Vinod”) reside in Tarash Mandir near Ramkrishna Mission hospital in Vrindavan.

Appearance of Radhavinod
Radhavinod ju was found in the river Padma in modern-day Bangladesh by a man named Vancharam. Vancharam was the manager of the Tarash estate. That day as he was taking his morning bath, he heard a voice saying, “Take me out of the water and bring me home!”
Vancharam looked around to see if perhaps a child had fallen into the water. Then suddenly, he felt a hand tugging at his leg. He reached down and grabbed the hand, and pulled out the deity of Radhavinod. He took the deity home and began to serve him with great care and love.

Unexpected Guests
But Radhavinod was very demanding. Whenever he wanted something, he would come to Vancharam, or someone else, in a dream.
On one occasion, the naughty Radhavinod came in a wealthy devotee’s dream and asked him for a hookah. The devotee brought a very expensive silver hookah. Vancharam started offering the hookah every day after Radhavinod’s meals.
On another occasion, some guests came to Vancharam’s house at night while Vancharam and his wife were sleeping. Not wanting to disturb his sleep, Radhavinod took the form of alittle boy and began to entertain the guests himself.
He told the guests, “My father is sleeping right now… but I can wake him up if you want!”
“No, no!” replied the guests, “Please don’t disturb him. We will cook for ourselves.”
Radhavinod went to the market to buy groceries for his guests. But he didn’t have any money. The shopkeeper was very reluctant to give this little boy groceries on credit, so Radhavinod gave him his golden bangles. “Hold on to these until my father pays you tomorrow,” said Radhavinod.
The next day Vancharam asked his guests with surprise, “When did you come? Who let you in?”
They replied, “We came late last night but your son let us in. What a good boy he is! He made all the arrangements for our supper.”
Vancharam was speechless. His suspicions were confirmed when the shopkeeper came to his house next day with Radhavinod’s bangles, asking for the payment.

A Love Affair with the Raja’s Daughter
Around this time the head of Tarash estate, Raja Banwari Lal, started coming for darshan of Vancharam’s now-famous deity. He also brought his wife and his daughter, Radha.
Radha loved Radhavinod, and Radhavinod loved her too. He used to flirt with Radha and pinch her to tease her. Radha saw this naughtiness clearly but her mother and father could not perceive it.
One night Radhavinod said to Vancharam in a dream, “Let me go and live with the Raja. I am pleased with your seva, but now I want to accept his seva. Don’t be sad, for you will soon realize me.”
Thus Radhavinod went to live with the Raja, and Radha served Radhavinod with all her heart. She decided what he would wear each day and what he would eat, and prepared flower ornaments for her Beloved. Her expertise in seva seemed impossible for such a young girl.
Radhavinod was very pleased with her, and showed it by teasing her even more than before. One day while Radha was offering Binod Ji a garland, he grabbed the corner of her saree and said, “You must marry me.” She told her mother what Radhavinod had done, but of course she didn’t believe her.

Radhavinod becomes “Jamai Vinod”
Soon after Radha became very ill. Radhavinod appeared to Radha’s mother in a dream and told her, “Radha will not remain in this world much longer. I can no longer live without her direct seva, so I will take her home as my bride. Make a murti of Radharani from the dried-up devadaru tree in the courtyard. Your daughter will also merge with that deity and thus attain me. When the murti is ready, you must peform our wedding.”
When Radha’s mother told Raja Banwari Lal about the dream, they both wept. But their tears were of a mixture of joy and sorrow, because they had faith that their daughter would soon attain Radhavinod’s lotus feet, and that both of them would live in their house as a married couple, in the form of the deities.
The devdaru tree was cut down and work on the murti started immediately. As soon as the murtiwas ready, Radha left her body.
Arrangements for her funeral and her marriage in the form of the murti were made simultaneously. After the wedding ceremony, Radhavinod became known as “Jamai Vinod” (Vinod, the son-in-law).

Banamali Raibahadur meets his Beloved
When Raja Banwari Lal died, his adopted son Banamali took over his position as head of the estate.

Banamali Raibahadur was a British-educated barrister (lawyer). His family was very aristocratic, and during the British Raj they had British guards to protect their more than 52 bighas (32 acres) of property. Banamali Rai was a great advocate of women’s rights including a widow’s right to marry. He was friends with Raja Rammohan Roy.
But at that time, Banamali was a member of the bramho-samaj. Because he did not have much faith in deities, he neglected Radhavinod altogether. He hired a pujari to continue the worship as a matter of mere routine.

Banamali meets Jagadbandhu
Then an amazing thing happened to Banamali. One day he was travelling down the highway towards Pabana on the back of an elephant, surrounded by attendants and royal guards armed with guns. Suddenly Prabhu Jagadbandhu came with a huge kirtan party. Hundreds of devotees sang with khol and kartal, with Jagadbandhu dancing at the head of the procession.
Banamali could not tear his ears and eyes away from the sound of the Holy Name and the beauty of the saint’s dancing. It was something totally new for him and it was completely irresistible. He did not know why he jumped down from the elephant, kicked off his royal slippers and started dancing in the midst of the kirtan.
Banamali danced and danced until the kirtan party reached its destination. There he bowed low before Jagadbandhu Prabhu, and requested him to come to visit his royal villa. Jagadbandhu accepted the invitation came and showered his blessings upon Banamali. He stayed in the palace for a number of days explaining Bhakti yoga to him and instilling love for the Divine Couple in his heart.

The Fight for the Hookah
After that, Banamali Ray became enthusiastic about Radhavinod’s seva. But he stopped the hookah offering, for he felt it was against the scriptures.
But Radhabinod made his own arrangements. During this period, a siddha-mahatma named Sri Krishnasundara Ray used to live with Banamali. He was completely absorbed, meditating on Radha and Krishna day and night while externally he would smoke a hookah mechanically, out of mere habit. Whenever Krishnasundar Ray lost external consciousness, which was quite often, Radhavinod would steal the hookah from his hand and smoke.
But after Krishnasundara Ray left the material realm, Radhavinod began to lament the loss of his hookah seva. He came in the pujari’s dream and said,
“Give me back my hookah! I used to smoke secretly with Ray Prabhu. But now that he is gone I have not smoked for four days!”
When Banamali Rai was informed of the dream, he made arrangements for the hookah seva to be restored. But in his heart he doubted whether Radhavinod ju really smoked.

A Divine Sound
Dr. OBL Kapoor writes in The Saints of Vraj, “Once Jagadbandhu Prabhu was staying in Banamali Ray’s palace in a room adjacent to the temple of Radhavinod. After rajbhog he called Banamali Ray and said, “Today let us enjoy the hookah-smokinglila of Lilamay (the playful Lord). He took Banamali Ray with him and sat in the verandah of the temple.
“After some time he said, ‘See, Vinod Ji is smoking. Listen to the hubble-bubble of the hookah.’ Simultaneously, Jagadbandhu granted Banamali spiritual ears to hear the sound of the hookah. As he was listening to the sound, he went into bhav-samadhi and tears began to trickle from his eyes.”
In 1897, Banamali Raibahadur went to Vrindavan and received diksha at the lotus feet of Prabhupad Sri Radhika Nath Gosvami, a direct descendent of Sri Advaita Prabhu. After that he began to serve Radhavinod directly. He became so absorbed in seva that he had little time for anything else. So he entrusted his estate to a manager and moved to Vrindavan permanently.
In Braj, Banamali constructed two buildings; Tarash Mandir in Vrindavan, and Rajbari in Radhakund. He and Radhavinod divided their time between both places.
The Legacy of Banamali Raibahadur
Banamali Raibahadur was at the centre of the Vaishnav community in Braj.
Many mahatmas graced his house with their presence, and he always made arrangements for Hari Katha, kirtan and other religious festivals. His estate included a large amount of land, part of which was later given to Ramkrishna Mission to build their famous hospital in Vrindavan.
Banamali Raibahadur directed all the resources of his estate towards the service of the Vaishnavs. He built a charitable hospital and a school for teaching the bhakti scriptures, which provided free room and board for its students. He also started a press which printed Srimad Bhagavatam with eight commentaries and other bhakti literature, all of which he distributed free of cost amongst the sadhus.
He received the blessings of all the siddha-mahatmas of his day, but some particularly showered their mercy on him. They were Sri Radhikanath Goswami, Jagadbandhu Prabhu, Sri Radharaman Charan Das Babajii Maharaj, Sri Vijaykrishna Gosvami, Sri Gaurakishor Shiromani, Sri Ramhari Das Babaji, Sri Krishnasundar Ray, Sri Harisundar Bhaumik Bhuiyan, Sri Jagadish Das Babaji and Sri Ramakrishna Das Pandit Baba.
With the blessings of these mahatmas, Banamali Raibahadur easily attained the lotus feet and eternal loving seva of Sri Radhvinod in Eternal Vrindavan.
(This story is based on the accounts presented in The Saints of Vraj by Dr. OBL Kapoor, Gaudiya Vaishnav Jeevan by Shri Haridas Das Babaji and an interview with Udayan Sharma of Tarash Estate)