One of the most prominent among the forests of Vrindavan to be recreated at Krishna Bhumi, Bhandirvana is celebrated as the forest of Braj where Krishna used to enjoy taking lunch with His cowherd friends under the massive Bhandirvata banyan tree. Lord Krishna performed many leelas in Bhandiravana like saving the Gopas and the calves from a colossal forest fire and killing the demon Vatsasura. Bhandivana also celebrates the lila of Shri Balaram ji’s killing of the demon Pralambhasura.
The stories go like this. One summer’s day, Shri Krishna and the sakhas brought the cows to drink water at the Yamuna and then let them graze freely. The boys became so absorbed in their games that they were unaware of their cows wandering off. The cows made their way to the Munjavan where they got lost and couldn’t return. When the sakhas could not find the cows they also went to look for the cows in Munjavan without Krishna and Baldev. At this time, the servants of Kamsa set Munjavan on fire, which spread everywhere in a moment, and surrounded the cows and cowherd boys. Seeing no other way to save themselves they called out to Krishna, who arrived there in an instant. And telling the sakhas to close their eyes, Shri Krishna swallowed the colossal forest-fire immediately saving the cows and His sakhas. The place where Shri Krishna swallowed the forest fire is called Munjatavi or Isikatavi.
Shri Krishna also performed the leela of Killing Vatsasura in Bhandiravana. Once, Shri Krishna and Balarama were playing on the bank of the Yamuna. At that time a demon of the name Vatsasura came there intending to kill them. Disguised as a calf, the demon could mingle with the other calves. But Krishna, who already noticed this, immediately told Balarama about the demon’s entrance. Soon, both of them followed the demon and came behind him. Shri Krishna caught hold of two hind legs and tail of the demon-calf, whipped him around with great force and threw him up into a tree, who died and fell on the ground.
Once, a great demon named Pralambasura entered the playgroup of Gopas disguised as a boy, with the intension to kill both Balarama and Krishna. But Krishna who was already aware of this began to think how to kill the demon. Howevere, externally He received him as a friend. According to the game rules, the defeated members in duel fighting games had to carry the victorious members on their backs. When the party of Balarama, came out victorious, the boys in Krishna’s party had to carry them on their backs through the Bhandiravana forest. Imitating others, Pralambasura, who appeared there as a cowherd boy in Krishna’s party, carried Balarama on his back. In order to avoid the company of Krishna, Pralambasura carried Balarama far away. But soon the demon began to feel the heavy burden of Balarama, and not being able to withstand that, finally assumed his real form. At first, Balarama was surprised by the demon’s appearance, but He quickly understood that He was being carried away a demon who wanted to kill Him. Immediately He struck the head of Pralambhasura with His strong fist, who fell down dead with a tremendous sound, as blood poured from his mouth.
Last but not the least, one of the most striking stories of Bhandiravana goes like this. Once when Nanda Maharaj was passing through the dense Bhandiravana forest with Krishna, suddenly, they were covered by dark clouds and a rainstorm. Afraid of the bad omen Nanda Maharaj carefully hid Kanhaiya on his lap. But at that moment, the extraordinarily beautiful Radhika appeared there in the form of a young girl and held Her hands out to Nanda Maharaj, as if She wanted to take Krishna with Her. Astonished, Nanda Maharaj gave Shri Krishna to Her. Radhika then took Shri Krishna under the shelter of Bhandirvata, where He manifested Himself as Manmatha-Manmatha Kishor. And here, Shri Brahma performed the Gandharv wedding of Krishna and Radhika by reciting Vedic mantras, while They exchanged flower garlands.