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A Call to Vrindavan's Sacred Shores -6

Updated: Jun 23

Barshana Dham

 

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?)


Atop one of the hills of Barsana stood the illustrious Shriji's Temple, the very heart of this divine realm. Shriji, the beloved name for Radha Rani, radiates an aura of ecstatic devotion and love. According to the Varah and Padma Puranas, Brahma once pleased Shri Krishna at the end of Satya Yug by performing intense penance. In gratitude, Shri Hari instructed him, "Go to Brishabhanupura and take the form of a hill there. In that form, you will be able to witness all our sweet pastimes.”


Thus, atop Brahma-parvat, the hill formed by Brahma, the magnificent temple of Shri Laadli Laal — Ladli meaning the beloved daughter and Lal meaning the beloved son—stood majestically, its spires reaching towards the heavens, enshrined with the deities of Lord Krishna and Radha. This sacred temple is believed to have been established by King Vajranabh 5000 years ago. King Vajranabh, the great-grandson of Shri Krishna and the grandson of Pradyumna, consecrated the temple, though the original deities were lost to time. Centuries later, Narayan Bhatt, a devout disciple of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, rediscovered the lost deities and installed them once more in this revered sanctuary.


By the time we reached the foothills, the heat was unbearable, sapping our energy and resolve. The thought of climbing the 250 steps up to the temple seemed impossible. To our surprise and relief, we noticed a new service that had sprung up. I remembered how, in earlier times, men would carry older people in jhulas. Nowadays, young boys on motorbikes were ready to take pilgrims up the hill. We quickly hired two bikes with drivers. Didi and I perched on one, while Ellora took the other. It turned out to be the scariest ride of my life. The young boy navigated the busy, narrow lanes with surprising speed and skill, taking us higher and higher up the hill. I closed my eyes, surrendering to the journey, certain that if I kept them open, I would have a heart attack. The ride was so bumpy that at one point, I felt myself being lifted into the air, only to fall back into the seat by sheer luck, narrowly avoiding being thrown onto the road. The bike finally stopped, and a little nudge from Didi made me open my eyes. We had reached as far as the bikes were allowed. The temple was still a bit further up, but the boy gave us his number, instructing us to call him after darshan for a ride back down to our car.


We began our ascent on foot, walking up the remaining stairs. On either side of the steps, the scene was bustling and vibrant. The path leading to the temple was lined with devotees, their eyes alight with devotion, as they made their way to pay homage to Radha and Krishna. Sellers lined the way, offering a plethora of goods. Women beckoned us to let them draw intricate mehendi designs on our hands, while stalls offered prasad and churni. The colorful array of items and the lively chatter created a festive atmosphere. The steps themselves were a riot of colors, adorned with bright fabrics and decorative items. The scent of incense mingled with the aroma of fresh flowers, and the sound of bells and chants. Each step brought us closer to the divine, and despite the heat and the exhausting journey, there was a palpable sense of joy and devotion in the air.


Finally, we reached the top, our spirits lifted by the colorful, bustling path. The sight of the temple, majestic and serene against the clear blue sky, filled us with a sense of peace and reverence. Our feet, unaccustomed to the scorching heat, felt as if they were boiling, and we dashed to the wet mats laid out on the path for relief. The cool, damp fabric was a welcome respite, soothing our burning soles. As we arrived in the darbar of Shriji, all discomfort was forgotten, replaced by an overwhelming sense of awe. The large, spacious hall with its open courtyard on all sides felt like a slice of heaven on earth. At the center of the altar stood Sriji and Krishnachandra, their divine forms radiating a serene yet powerful presence that seemed to take away all the worries from the minds of the devotees. The darshan was grand and beautiful, a sight that left us spellbound.


The atmosphere was electrifying, filled with a throng of devotees singing, dancing, and offering prasad. The air was alive with joyous energy, the sound of bhajans blending harmoniously with the rhythmic clapping and the tinkling of bells. The very name Barsana, meaning "falling, scattering or spreading," came alive in this divine setting. As explained by the saints, the name 'Barsana' refers to the mercy and compassion of Srimati Radharani that truly spreads, falls, and scatters upon everyone present. The darshan here was a unique and transformative experience. The presence of Sri Radha could be felt deeply, her divine essence enveloping us as we offered our sincere prayers. The connection to her was almost tangible, a warm embrace that filled our hearts with peace and joy.


The view from the top was breathtaking. The lush landscape of Barsana stretched out before us, a mosaic of green fields and vibrant forests. The entire scene was bathed in a golden glow, as if blessed by the very presence of the divine. Inside the temple, the deities of Radha and Krishna, adorned with jewels and flowers, their expressions serene and filled with love, blessed every devotee. It was as if the entire temple vibrated with the echoes of their eternal pastimes.


As we stood there, the worries and strains of the journey melted away, replaced by a sense of tranquility and devotion. The grandeur of the darbar, the fervent devotion of the devotees, and the serene presence of Sriji and Krishnachandra created an atmosphere of pure, divine love. This was Barsana Dham, where the grace of Radharani spread like a gentle, soothing rain, touching every soul and leaving an indelible mark of spiritual bliss.


After our divine experience at Barshana, it was time to return to Vrindavan. Offering our hearts and praying to Sriji to take control of our minds, we got into the cab. The ride back was serene, filled with reflections of the day's spiritual encounters. Upon arriving at Didi’s ashram, we were warmly welcomed and shared a simple yet satisfying prasad meal.


Our aim was Sant darshan, and we learned that a week-long katha by Sri Rajendra Das Ji Maharaj was in progress. Eager for this divine opportunity, we promptly hired an electric autorickshaw and headed towards Malukpith by the river Yamuna. Upon arrival, we found a large gathering of devotees, all eagerly waiting for the discourse to commence. Many saints of Brij were seated on one side, their serene presence adding to the sanctity of the atmosphere, while the Brijwasis sat on the other. A beautifully adorned vyasasan was the centerpiece, where Rajendra Das Ji Maharaj sat, exuding an aura of wisdom and peace. The entire atmosphere was charged with devotion and reverence, creating a palpable energy that enveloped us as we took our seats. Rajendra Das Ji Maharaj spoke with a melodious voice, weaving tales of Krishna’s pastimes interspersed with the soulful singing of Sri Ramacharitmanas. His words flowed like a divine river, transporting us to the enchanting world of Vrindavan and its eternal leelas. We sat there, immersed in the spiritual ambiance, feeling the presence of Krishna in every word and melody. The rhythmic chanting and heartfelt singing resonated deeply, touching our souls and filling our hearts with joy.


After some time, we decided to retire to our hotel, carrying with us the divine essence of the discourse. As we settled in for the night, the entire day flashed before my eyes. It felt as though we had spent months witnessing the divine leelas of Radharani and Krishna, each moment rich with spiritual fervour and beauty. The excitement of what the following day might hold kept us eagerly anticipating the adventures ahead, as we drifted into a peaceful sleep, hearts full of devotion and minds at peace. What a day it had been!


...to be continued


 



Barsana Dham

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