The holy town of Vrindavan is famous for its beautiful festivals and unique traditions. While Vrindavan’s holi is famous all over the world, did you know that Akshay Tritiya too is celebrated in a special way in Vrindavan? Let us read more about it but before that, let’s find out more about the significance of this auspicious day.
What is Akshay Tritiya?
Akshay Tritiya is an important day for both the Hindus and the Jains. It falls during the Shukla Pakshya Tritiya in the Baisakh month. ‘Akshay’ means ‘that which does not diminish.’ It is believed that whatever good deeds one performs on Akshay Tritiya multiples manifold. Many choose to invest in gold, begin an investment, and start a new venture on Akshay Tritiya. It is also a wonderful day for marriage. Each moment of this day is considered to be ‘shubh’ and fit for any auspicious beginning.
What happened on Akshay Tritiya?
Performing an Akshay Tritiya pooja is very popular among Hindu households. However, the significance of this day dates back to centuries. This is one day when history seems to blend with mythology and sometimes form a mystifying blur.
Here are a few things that are believed to have happened on Akshay Tritiya:
Beginning of the Treta Yuga: The yuga that followed the Satya Yuga is believed to have begun on this day.
Scripting of the Mahabharata began: It is believed that Ved Vyas and Lord Ganesha started writing the great epic on this day.
The Ganges descended on the earth: The holy river Ganga descended to the earth on this day.
Goddess Annapurna was born: Goddess Annapurna, the goddess of food, was also born on this day. It was also on Akshay Tritiya that Annapurna fed Shiva disguised as a beggar.
Lord Parashuram was born: The sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu was born on this day.
Yudhishthira received the Akshay Patram: Pleased by Yudhishthira’s prayers, Surya or Sun God blessed him with the Akshay Patram that would supply them with an inexhaustible supply of food for the next 12 years.
Sri Krishna and Akshay Tritiya
Draupadi: Legend has it that once when Sri Krishna visited the Pandavas along with His retinue, the exiled Pandav brothers received Him with all ceremony. However, Draupadi did not come out of her kitchen. Sensing that something was amiss, Sri Krishna entered the kitchen. Inside, a teary-eyed Draupadi showed Him an empty bowl and said that it was all that she had in her kitchen. Sri Krishna, on the other hand, asked His sister, if the bowl was truly empty because there was a single grain of rice stuck to it. Sri Krishna had this single grain and as soon as He did so, the hunger of the entire universe was satiated. This miraculous episode happened on Akshay Tritiya.
Sudama: Krishna and Sudama were the best of friends during their childhood days. However, with time, the two friends parted ways. Sudama pursued the Vedas and Sri Krishna became the king of Dwarka. One day, when Sudama, then a poor Brahman, saw a peacock feather in his son’s hand, he was reminded of his friend Krishna. His wife suggested that he should visit Dwarka to meet his friend and to ask for financial help. Although reluctant at first, Sudama agreed to his wife’s proposal and started his journey to meet his long-lost friend. He carried with him flattened rice or poha since Krishna loved it as a child. When Krishna met Sudama, He was overjoyed. He extended warm hospitality towards His friend and asked Sudama what he had brought for Him. The poor Brahman was embarrassed to give the king of Dwarka the little poha that he was carrying. However, Krishna liked His friend’s thoughtful gift very much. Sudama could not ask for any monetary help and left for his home. However, Sri Krishna understood and blessed Sudama with riches. When Sudama reached home, he found that his humble hut had been replaced by a palatial building overnight! This happened on Akshay Tritiya.
Celebration of Akshay Tritiya in Vrindavan
On Akshay Tritiya, the idols in Vrindavan temples are smeared with sandalwood from head to toe. This is known as Chandan Yatra. Sandalwood is applied to offer the gods some relief from the rising temperature.
Darshan of Bihariji’s feet
It is on Akshay Tritiya that devotees get a darshan of Bihariji’s feet. This is the only time during the whole year when that is possible. Devotees flock to Vrindavan on Akshay Tritiya for this auspicious sight.
Krishna Bhumi is just 10 minutes away from the Banke Bihari temple. When you become a member of Krishna Bhumi Holydays, you can stay in your home in Krishna Bhumi and immerse yourself in the glory of this holy land.
What is the purpose of our life? What do we want to achieve? What is it that we crave for? It is happiness. We may be keen on performing certain actions and indulging in certain activities because those, we think, will make us happy. But, are we aware of the true meaning of happiness? Sri Krishna enlightens us about this elusive concept through his conversation with Arjun in Bhagavad Gita.
What is happiness?
We often associate happiness with a number of external factors. We often spend all our effort in the gratification of our senses. However, the happiness that is derived in this manner is only temporary happiness and becomes intertwined with cycles of sorrow. True happiness can only emanate from a peaceful mind that is not dependent on any external agents and remains unperturbed in every situation.
In Chapter II, Verse 70 of the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says,
samudram apah pravishanti yadvat
tadvat-kama yam pravishanti sarve
sa shantim-apnoti na kama-kaami”
“As the waters (of different rivers) enters the Great Ocean, which though full on all sides remains undisturbed, like wise a person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires – can alone achieve peace, and not the man who runs after these desires & strives to satisfy such desires.”
The three types of happiness
In Chapter 18, Verse 36 Sri Krishna says to Arjun,
“sukhaṁ tv idaniṁ tri-vidhaṁ shrinu me bharatarshabha
abhyasad ramate yatra duhkhantam cha nigachchhati”
“And now hear from me, O Arjun, of the three kinds of happiness in which the embodied soul rejoices, and can even reach the end of all suffering.”
- Satvik or Pure happiness: It is the happiness that arises from the elevation of the soul. However, attaining this is not easy. One pursuing satvik or pure happiness has to practice a lot of discipline. That is why, it feels like poison in the beginning but nectar in the end.
“yat tad agre viham iva pariname mitopamam
tat sukham sattvikam proktam atma-buddhi-prasada-jam”
“That which seems like poison at first, but tastes like nectar in the end, is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness. It is generated by the pure intellect that is situated in self-knowledge.”
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 37
- Rajasik or result-oriented happiness: This is the materialistic pleasure that is derived when the senses come in contact with external objects that create a feeling of gratification. However, this kind of happiness is temporary.
“vishayendriya-sanyogad yat tad agre mritopamam
pariname visham iva tat sukham rajasam smritam”
“Happiness is said to be in the mode of passion when it is derived from the contact of the senses with their objects. Such happiness is like nectar at first but poison at the end.”
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 38
- Tamasic or slothful happiness: This is the lowest form of happiness and is derived from sleeping or being lazy. The soul is never nurtured through these practices yet since there is a tiny sense of pleasure associated with it, people wrongfully consider it to be a state of happiness.
“yad agre chanubandhe cha sukham mohanam atmanah
nidralasya-pramadottha tat tamasam udahritam”
“That happiness which covers the nature of the self from beginning to end, and which is derived from sleep, indolence, and negligence, is said to be in the mode of ignorance.”
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 39.
One can derive true happiness only by achieving a peaceful state of mind. Why not come to Vrindavan and immerse yourself in the thoughts of Sri Krishna? There is no greater happiness than the happiness one gets from being at peace with oneself and being one with god.
The Adi Purana says, “In all the three planetary systems, this earth is especially fortunate for here stands the town of Vrindavana”. But why is it so? What is so special about Vrindavan? Srila Prabhupada offers an answer in the introduction to Srimad Bhagavatam, “Vrindavana dhäma is non-different from Krishna because the name, form, fame, and place where the Lord manifests – are all identical with the Lord as absolute knowledge. Therefore, Vrindavana dhäma is as worshipable as the Lord.”
There is magic in Vrindavan, a magic that has survived thousands of years and has made its way into the modern times. But to experience it, one must come to this blessed land, the land that had once witnessed Sri Krishna’s leelas, felt the touch of His feet, and watched Him kill many demons.
Isn’t it amazing that in Vrindavan, you can actually visit all those places that you have only read about in various mythological texts?
Here are five such mythical places in and around Vrindavan Dham that you should visit:
Bhandirvan: One of the Dwadasha Kanana (12 forests)
Legend has it that there were 12 forests in Braj in the Dwapara Yuga. Bhandirvan is one of the celebrated forests among all 12 because many important events in Sri Krishna’s life took place here. It was here that Krishna and Balaram killed the demons Vatsasura and Pralambhasura. It is also believed that Sri Krishna gathered with His friends under the Bhandirvata and had lunch every day.
The Bhandirvan also has the deities of Shri Shri Radha Bhandirbihari where Sri Krishna is seen putting sindoor (vermillion) on Radharani’s forehead. Legend has it that Sri Krishna married Radharani under the Bhandirvata. Lalitha and the other sakhis made all the arrangements and Brahma acted as the head priest.
Shringar Vat: The place where Sri Krishna adorned Radharani
During Raas Leelas, Sri Krishna danced with every gopi, but He also needed to be alone with Sri Radha for the leela to reach its supreme state. So, Radharani left the place and Sri Krishna followed her. Once alone, He adorned His beloved Radha with flowers and combed her hair at the Sringar Vat.
Years later, when Nityananda Prabhu visited Vrindavan, he chose the Sringar Vat as the place to meditate. Once there was a huge banyan tree at the spot, but now only its stump remains.
Raman Reti: The playground of Sri Krishna
A few kilometres away from Mathura stands Raman Reti, quietly narrating a story of the bygone days. It was here that Sri Krishna played with Balaram and other friends. The sands (reti) of this place stand testimony to the divine plays (raman) of Sri Krishna. It is also believed that Sri Krishna met Radharani at Raman Reti before visiting Vrindavan together.
Many saints chose Raman Reti to meditate and to perform austerities in order to please Sri Krishna. Today, there is a deer sanctuary, small temples, and the Karshni Ashram beside Raman Reti.
Kesi Ghat: Where Sri Krishna took a bath after killing demon Kesi
There is hardly a place in Vrindavan that is not touched by Sri Krishna’s miracles. The Kesi Ghat is no exception. It is believed that Kansa sent Kesi to kill Krishna. Kesi took the form of a fearful horse and started killing innocent Brajwasis. Krishna understood that it was He who could stop the demon. He forced His fist inside the horse’s mouth and killed it because Sri Krishna’s fist felt like a hot iron rod. After killing Kesi, Sri Krishna took a dip in the holy Yamuna at the Kesi Ghat.
Kadamba tree in Chir Ghat: Where Sri Krishna playfully stole the gopis’ clothes
It is believed that the gopis wanted Sri Krishna as their husband and prayed to Mother Katyayani to fulfil their desire. One day, when they were taking a bath in the Yamuna, Sri Krishna stole their clothes and brought it to the holy Kadamba tree that is still there at Chir Ghat.
Radhanath Swami explains the higher significance of Sri Krishna stealing the clothes of the gopis. He says that the act signifies the devotees’ complete surrender to the Supreme Being which necessitates the freedom from all attachments and mundane possessions symbolised by the clothes.
There are many such places in Vrindavana and the Braj that tells the tale of Krishna’s magic. Come, spend a blissful week in Vrindavan. Krishna Bhumi Holydays can make it happen. Radhe Radhe!
There was hardly any woman, young or old, who was not influenced by Sri Krishna’s disarming charm. Legend has it that Sri Krishna had 16,008 wives. However, how was His relationship with the three most important women in His life— Yashoda, His mother, Rukmini, His first wife, and Radha, His unrequited love? Were all of them Krishna devotees?
Krishna and Yashoda
Although Krishna was born to Devaki, it was Yashoda who had the good fortune of bringing Him up. She was the one who experienced the joys of holding Bal Gopal when He took His first steps, of feeding Him, of putting Him to sleep, and of watching Him grow up to a lovely youth.
According to a story, one day, when Narada arrived at Mathura, he saw mother Yashoda bathing her Krishna. Her legs were stretched and Krishna was lying on her legs with His face down. He clutched onto Yashoda’s toes in order to avoid falling off. Narada was overwhelmed by what he saw and wondered what penance had Yashoda undertaken in her previous life so that the Lord Himself was touching her feet.
Later, when it was time for Bal Krishna to walk, mother Yashoda held His lotus fingers and helped Him take His first steps. Vishnu in His Trivikrama avatar measured the three worlds with His three giant steps and here was Krishna ‘allowing’ a mere mortal to hold His hands and teach Him walking. Again, it was Yashoda who saw the seven oceans, the whole universe, and Narayana seated upon Adishesha beside Mahalakshmi inside little Krishna’s mouth.
Yashoda’s affection for Krishna was more than ‘Vatsalya Prema’. Her love for Krishna was more than motherly love; it was ‘Vatsalya Bhakti’, mother’s devotion.
Krishna and Radha
Radha Rani was not just one of Sri Krishna’s gopis; she was the most important one. Many consider Radha as the ‘Devotional Energy’ of Sri Krishna. In fact, she was an integral part of Krishna. That is one of the reasons why we take her name before Krishna’s name. It is her divine love that completes the entity of Sri Krishna. If we remove the ‘R’ from Radha-Krishna, we are left with ‘adha’ or ‘half’ Krishna.
There are many stories that narrate the eternal love between Radha and Krishna. One such is a story of the night when Krishna told Rukmini that He was not feeling well because He did not drink warm milk that Radha used to give Him before He retired to bed every night. Hearing this, Rukmini went to Radha’s house to fetch some milk. But when Radha heard about it, she drank the milk herself. Rukmini was perplexed but she came back to Krishna. Upon returning, she found that there were boils on Krishna’s feet. These were not there when she left. Krishna explained that Radha drank very hot milk which gave Him the boils.
Radha was devoted to Krishna all her life, even after He left Mathura and even though they never married. Srila Prabhupada, while talking about the love between Radha and Krishna says, “…in the spiritual world, the highest, topmost level of love is parakiya. Parakiya means love – not by marriage, but by friendship. There, it is pure”.
Krishna and Rukmini
Princess Rukmini was deeply in love with Krishna even before they met. She made up her mind to marry Krishna but her brother Rukmi was dead against it. Rukmini wrote a secret letter to Krishna where she suggested that they should have a ‘rakshasa vivaha’ where the bride is abducted. Krishna conceded.
Once in Dwarka, they had a grand wedding. Krishna loved and respected Rukmini. He also gave her the name ‘Sri’ and said that from then on He will be known as Sri Krishna, taking Rukmini’s name before Krishna’s name. It is believed that Rukmini was an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi who followed Vishnu whenever He came to the earth in the human form.
The tulabharam story talks about the depth of Rukmini’s love for Krishna. Legend has it that Narada once told Krishna’s second wife, Satyabhama, that He loved Rukmini more than her. Narada said that if Satyabhama accepted the tulabharam challenge and won it, Krishna would love her more. Instigated by Narada’s words, Satyabhama accepted the challenge in which Krishna sat on one side of a weighing scale (tula) and Satyabhama put all her wealth on the other scale but failed to match it to Krishna’s weight. Confused by what she saw, Satyabhama asked Rukmini to help. Rukmini simply put a tulsi leaf on the pile of wealth and immediately outweighed Krishna. This shows that Sri Krishna does not want wealth from a devotee. All He wants is devotion and Rukmini indeed was an ardent Krishna devotee.
India is known for her vibrant culture, beautiful festivals, and rich traditions. But there is hardly anything better than Holi that captures the colourful facet of the country. And there is hardly a better place than Mathura-Vrindavan to celebrate the festival of colours.
The Braj area, where Sri Krishna spent His childhood, has many beautiful traditions leading up to Rangpanchami. Legend has it that Holi began as Krishna, who was frustrated with His dark complexion, smeared colours on Radha and other gopis. This beautiful story between the two divine lovers has given rise to many traditions that the Brajwasis have carefully nurtured and kept alive even today.
While the rest of India celebrates Holi on 2 March this year, Brajwasis have already begun celebrating their most colourful festival. Ramanreti, Gokul Holi on 19 February marked the advent of the festival.
Here are the other important dates:
Date – Event
23 Feb – Nandgaon Phag Amantran Utsav
23 Feb – Barsana Laddu Holi
24 Feb – Barsana Lathmar Holi
25 Feb – Nandgaon Lathmar Holi
26 Feb – Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi ki Holi
26 Feb – Vrindavan ki Holi
27 Feb – Chharimar Holi, Gokul
1 March -Holika Dahan, Phalain ka Panda
2 March -Dwarkadhish Holi, Chaturvedi Samaj ka Dola
3 March -Dauji ka Huranga, Jav ka Huranga, Nandgaon ka Huranga
3 March -Mukhrai ka Charkula
4 March -Baithan ka Huranga, Giroh ka Huranga
The experience of Holi in Braj is something to cherish for life. People from all across the world travel to Vrindavan during this time, smear one another with colour, and celebrate their love for Krishna.
It is a festival to forget and forgive, to soak in the magic of the Vrindavan atmosphere, and to celebrate divine love.
This year, Mahashivratri will be celebrated on 13 and 14 February. In Vrindavan, the temples dedicated to Lord Shiva such as Gopeshwar, Gokuleshwar, Govindeshwar, Bankhandeshwar, and Taleshwar draw a huge number of Shiva devotees.
Legend has it that Lord Shiva is the first Vaishnav ever because He is a devotee of Lord Vishnu whose avatar is Lord Krishna. In fact, many believe that Lord Vishnu too is an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva.
Ages back in the Dwapara Yuga, the town of Vrindavan witnessed something that stands testimony to Lord Shiva’s profound love for Krishna. In fact, it was this incident that gave rise to the feminine form of Lord Shiva, the form in which He is worshipped in the Gopeshwar Temple in Vrindavan even today.
This happened on a beautiful full moon night when Krishna along with Radha and His sakhis were performing Raas Leela on the banks of Yamuna. Keen on being a part of the Leela, Lord Shiva and His wife, goddess Parvati, visited Vrindavan. However, while Parvati was allowed into the Raasmandal, Vrinda Devi stopped Lord Shiva from entering the town. She explained that the Raas Leela was a tribute to Radha and was an attempt to please her. This is why sakhibhav was necessary. Being a woman, Parvati inherently had the sakhibhav while Lord Shiva didn’t.
Lord Shiva then waited outside Vrindavan, but so keen was His desire to participate in Krishna’s transcendental dance, that He meditated about Radha. Radharani was pleased by this and sent her closest friend Lalita to bring Shiva. When Lalita met Shiva, she told Him everything about sakhibhav and how the only way for Him to attain it was to take a dip in the holy Yamuna.
Shiva took this dip and emerged as a beautiful damsel. He entered the Raasmandal in this form but Krishna immediately recognised Him and hailed Him as Gopeshwar. Even today, Lord Shiva is worshipped every evening from 5 pm to 9 pm in this feminine form in the Gopeshwar Temple, a temple where the Shiva linga is believed to have been established by the gopis themselves. It is also believed that the gopis prayed to Gopeshwar for the fulfillment of their desire of getting Krishna as their husband.
The next time you visit Vrindavan, spend at least an evening in the Gopeshwar Temple when the Shiva linga is dressed as a gopi and special shringar ceremonies are performed.