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Sharing His Darshan of Sri Vraja Dham

It was my greatest fortune that Most Revered Gurudev gave me the golden opportunity of being in His company during Kartik from the year 1983 onwards. In 2002, Brajamandal Parikrama, I had published few pastimes in and other websites. I am quoting here as follows:

His Divine Grace Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj reached Vrindavana on 14 October 2002 for the one month long Vrajamandala Parikrama.

Speaking on the subject "Who will show us Vraja-dhama?", Srila Guru Maharaji said that only a tatvik-vrajavasi like Srila Bhakti Siddhanta Sarawati Goswami Thakur Prabhupad can give us the knowledge of Vraja-dhama. Quoting from Srila Prabhupad's discourses of the 1932 Parikrama of Vrajamandala, Srila Guru Maharaj explained the significance of doing circumambulation (Parikrama) of Braja dhama:

"This world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. All act as purushas and want to enjoy and lord it over others. If we want Sri Krishna to appear in our heart, we will have to make our mind Vrindavan. Unless we do this Sri Krishna will not appear. In Vrindavan, Sri Krishna is the only Enjoyer and Master. He is 'Purushottama', the highest Person, all else are His prakriti."

Srila Guru Maharaj went on to describe how all the holy scriptures of India describe the glories of Vrajamandala, the land where Sri Krishna appeared 5000 years ago. Also known as Vrajabhumi or Vraja (Braja), the abode of Sri Krishna is the most sacred place of pilgrimage. "Vraj", "Mathura", "Vrindavan-dhama", not only refer to the place located in the cultural and linguistic region of Vraja situated on the banks of the Yamuna river in the present day Uttar Pradesh (U.P, India) but, in the spiritual sense, this is the celestial transcendental abode (Goloka Dham) of the Supreme Personality of the Godhead, Sri Krishna.

In the minds of devotees, there is no doubt that the spiritual abode of Krishna, descended as earthly Vrajamandala or Vraja-dhama. This terrestrial dhama is as much transcendental as the celestial abode.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has said that just as Sri Krishna is worshipable, His abode, Vrajamandala, is also worshipable. Even the trees, creepers, rivers, ponds, streets etc., of Vrajamandala are as worshipable as the Lord. In Srimad Bhagavatam it has been stated, "Vrindavan-dhama is non-different from Sri Krishna because the Name, Form, Attributes and the Place where the Lord appears are all identical with the Lord".

In the words of the great Gaudiya poet-sage, Sri Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami, "Vrajamandala manifests its true form only to those who look upon it with the eyes of love". We have to follow a pure devotee of Sri Krishna to get those eyes of love. Hearing from a bonafide sadhu is the best way of getting the true knowledge of the abode of Sri Krishna.

Kartik Vrata is an expression of Love. Spiritual Love. Love that transcends mundane existence.  Love that transmits one to the higher level. Love that can only manifest in the association of those who are pre-possessed with this Love Divine! There is no other way to get this transcendental divine love of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, except the grace of a pure devotee!

Srimati Radha Rani, also known as Urjeshwari, is the presiding deity of the Kartik, or adhishthatri Devi of the Kartik-Maas, according to Sri Rupa Goswami. (Nikhil-samaya-Bhartuh Kartikasyadhidevim, Sri Radhika Ashtakam)

Sri Damodar is the Adhi-Devta of the Kartik-Maas, also known as Damodar-Maas. He accepts prayers only if Srimati Radha is also worshiped along with Him. Sri Radha-Damodar, the are the presiding deities of the Kartik.

Most Revered Guru Maharaj, Srila Bhakti Ballabh Tirtha Goswami Maharaj revealed most confidential spiritual thoughts during Kartik. Here are some quotes that were recorded:

“Braj Parikrama is to be performed with caution. We should pray for the grace of Brajwasis, we should be careful in our behavior with them."

"Remember that we are moving on the transcendental body of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna (Braj Dham).”

In Brajmandal Parikrama, everything depends upon the guidance of a pure devotee - the real inhabitant of the Braj-Dham. A Braj-wasi – in essence – Tatvik Brajwasi.

A yatri or a pilgrim can have the real ‘darshan’ or revelation of the Braj-Dham only through the process of following the foot-steps of a pure devotee – following means, by hearing about the glories of Brajdham from him.

"Kaan dai sunte habe, dekhate habe."

Guru Maharaj always quoted the example of the quality of inquisitiveness of Parikshit Maharaj, who incessantly listened Bhagwatam from Sri Sukdev Goswami, with full attention and concentration.

Gurudev took a lot of pain in showing us the holy places and temples, explaining their spiritual significance and historicity.

While speaking, Gurudev would take care of everyone in the audience, speaking in different languages. Then Gurudev would speak in English for the lone devotee, looking at Vrindavandas, “One Russian devotee is also performing Brajmandal Parikrama. It  is difficult for him to understand Bengali or Hindi.” This statement was for others who do not understand English and when they hear Gurudev speaking in English, they looked at Vrindavandas.

While moving from one temple to the next, Gurudev always asked for the well being of the last person in the entourage. Then only after getting the reply in affirmative, He will proceed further.

Almost every component of the Braj-Parikrama administration was looked after by Gurudev. This continued through the whole of the Ban-Yatra during Kartik. But performing all these duties, Gurudev drenched us in the ambrosia of Krishna-Prem, manifested in His sankirtans while leading the group in the paths of Braj-Dham. Gurudev used to raise both hands and jump in ecstasy while dancing in the Nagar-Kirtans.

For me it was a big challenge to keep on holding the microphone for Him, following Him, hastily chasing Him while His Nritya-Sankirtan was on! Gurudev never used to give any attention towards the microphone, as if there was no microphone at all. That made my task a nightmare! It brought me physically in His close proximity and I felt surcharged, sometimes electrified, sometimes got shocks! I have no words to describe what really I felt. But I felt a kind of bliss!  Gurudev was taking care that I do not get exhausted. He will ask me if I had taken prasad, water, etc. In between the strenuous Yatra routine, Gurudev’s signature humor used to ignite a freshness on our sweating faces. Whatever was going on was not of this world.

–Rasavihari Das, Jammu


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