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A Call to Vrindavan's Sacred Shores -5

Nandgaon and Kaamyavan


Our cab took us through the forests and narrow roads that wove their way through the quaint village, leading us to Nanda Baba’s Bhavan. This village, Nandagaon, owes its name to Nanda Maharaj, the revered chief of the cowherd community, who, alongside his queen Yashoda Maiya, lovingly raised the divine Krishna. As we approached, the red sandstone structure of Nanda Baba’s Bhavan stood majestically atop the Nandishwara hill. The hill, surrounded by lush green fields is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva himself, who chose this form to immerse in the divine pastimes of Shri Krishna. The journey up the Nandishwara hill revealed sweeping shades of green lowlands with the trunks of the trees embraced by delicate creepers. Nandagaon, just 50 kilometers from the bustling town of Mathura, with its charming sights, serene ponds, and rolling green pastures was chosen by Nanda Maharaj and his community seeking refuge from the malevolent Kamsa, who relentlessly sent demons to kill Krishna. The village, now a haven of peace and beauty, was once an escape from the tyranny of evil.

The Bhavan of Nanda Maharaj, perched high above the village, was where Krishna, the source of joy and divine playfulness, grew up. Among the simple, devout people of Nandagaon, Krishna spent his days as a cowherd, leading the cows to graze in the forests, delighting his parents, gopas, and gopis with his spirited leelas. The sight of the green pastures, where Krishna once roamed, and the clear waters of the sarovars where he played, filled our hearts with a serene joy. Every breeze seemed to carry a whisper of Krishna’s laughter, every rustle of leaves the echo of his divine plays.

The sun blazed high in the sky, its rays beating down upon us as we ascended the stone steps of Nanda Bhavan. The magnificent Bhavan was adorned with intricate paintings and carvings that vividly depicted the life and divine pastimes of Shri Krishna. Upon reaching the top, we entered the sanctum to have darshan of the temple dedicated to Nanda Maharaj, where the deities of Nanda Baba, Yashoda Maiya, Krishna, and Balram are worshipped. Krishna and Balram, almost indistinguishable from each other, were resplendent in identical dress and jewellery. Krishna stood gracefully between Yashoda Maiya, who lovingly watched over him from his right, and Balram, his steadfast elder brother, who stood vigilantly on his left. Beside Balram stood Nanda Maharaj, while the presence of Radharani could be seen to the left. We moved through the beautiful courtyard, a space alive with the echoes of divine melodies. The air seemed to pulse with the sound of Krishna’s flute, a breath of love, that attracted the cows, drew the gopis, and entranced every devotee present.

As we left Nandagaon, our minds still immersed in the enchanting leelas of Krishna, Vishnupriya Didi suggested we make one more stop. She asked the driver to take us up another hill, the Charan Pahadi. As the car ascended, the path became too steep, forcing us to continue the journey on foot. Here, Sri Krishna’s lotus footprints are enshrined in stone, giving the hill its revered name. Charan Pahadi was a hill that kept growing. It grew so high that it blocked even the sun's rays, casting long, cool shadows over the terrain. This natural shield had once been a safe place for demons who would stealthily steal away the cows grazing in the fields. One day when Krishna, while leading the cows to graze, climbed atop this very mountain and played his flute. A melody so divine that it halted the mountain’s growth and melted its very rocks, leaving an everlasting imprint of his sacred foot on the stones.

As we reached the summit of Charan Pahadi, the breathtaking view of Kaamyavan unfolded before us. The view from the top was nothing short of spectacular, a patchwork of lush green fields, dense forests, and shimmering water bodies spread out as far as the eye could see. We found a spot to sit and catch our breath, the gentle breeze providing a welcome respite from the heat and soothing our weary souls. A devotee nearby began to narrate the story of Charan Pahadi to a group of travellers. We sat near the divine stone bearing Sri Krishna’s footprints, listening to the tale and feeling blessed.

Our next stop was Vimal Kund, renowned as one of the most enchanting ponds in Braj. Nestled amidst verdant greenery, the kund gleamed like a precious gem under the soft sunlight, its waters shimmering. Legend has it that the daughters of King Vimal, filled with an intense longing, yearned to partake in the divine Raas Leela with Sri Krishna. When their fervent desire was granted, overwhelmed by ecstasy, tears of love streamed down their eyes, creating this sacred pond or kund. The water, believed to be formed from those tears, seemed to hold within it the essence of their pure devotion and the bliss of their divine encounter.

By bathing in Vimala Kund, all kinds of desires—both worldly and transcendental—are fulfilled, and one's heart becomes pure, instilled with Braj-bhakti. It is said that during Chaturmasya, all the holy places of the universe converge upon Braj. Once, Tirtharaja Pushkara did not come. Shri Krishna, invoking Yogamaya, caused a powerful current of water to shoot out of the earth. From this sacred stream, in the form of an astonishingly beautiful and pure kishori emerged, and Shri Krishna played and sported with her in those waters. The supreme rasika Sri Krishna was satisfied with the kishori's service. As a reward, he bestowed a boon upon her: "From today, you will be known as Vimala Devi, and this pond will bear your name. By bathing in this pond, one will receive seven times the pious merit of bathing in Tirtharaja Pushkara."

Many great sages have resided on the banks of this sacred kund to obtain Krishna-bhakti. Maharishi Durvasa and the Pandavas have also spent their time here, immersed in deep meditation and devotion. The clear, cool waters beckoned invitingly, promising not just physical refreshment but a deep spiritual cleansing. We sat by the edge of the kund, dipping our fingers into the cool, clear water. The touch of it was soothing and we took a cupful of water, sprinkling it on ourselves cooling our senses.

Finally we advanced towards Barshana Dham, the sacred abode of Sriji Radharani, the queen of Braj. The air was charged with a sense of divine anticipation as we approached this divine ground.

barasāne ke vāsa kī, āsa kare śiva śeṣa

jākī mahimā ko kahe, śyāma dhare sakhi bheṣa

"O Queen of Braj! Your beatific abode, Shri Barsana, is so divine that even gods like Shiv and Vishnu long to reach your destination adorned with jewels. What can be said about the glory of your eternal abode, so sublime that even Sri Krishna enters disguised as a gopi just to please you?"

... to be continued

Vimal Kund

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