Paying homage to Lord Krishna, Radha Rani and the Gopis, in the form of a ‘Raas Leela Sthali’
The proposal submitted by ‘The Vrindavan Bangar Gram Sabha’, for a Maharasa Van Pariyojna in Vrindavan, has been approved by the U.P government. As Vrindavan too moves ahead with the rest of the country, there must be some areas that keep the ancient culture and traditions alive. This is exactly what the Gram Sabha members are hoping to achieve with the restoration and preservation of this Raas Leela Sthali.
35 hectares of land have been demarcated for this project, between Jagannath Ghat and Pani Ghat, on the Parikrama Marg. Encroachment removal and ground levelling work has already been started. Very soon this area will be lush and green with various kinds of trees. Brajwasis, people from NGO’s or governmental agencies are all welcome to volunteer when the tree plantation drive starts.
The idea is to boost the tourism in Vrindavan, to offer a glimpse of ancient Vrindavan to pilgrims and to hold religious events like Kumbh Mela in these premises.
Navratri marks the beginning of nine holy days, the worship of Goddess Durga, celebrating the victory of good over evil, Ma Durga’s victory over Mahishasura. Navratri means nine nights because in Sanskrit ‘Nav’ signifies nine and ‘Ratri’ means night. The festival is celebrated across India with great show and fervour, including Vrindavan. The nine-day festival commenced October 10 and will end on October 18 this year, and is dedicated to Parvati in all her nine avatars. Symbolising the triumph of dharma over adharma, Navratri holds a special significance in India.
Significance of All Nine Days
Day 1: Devi Shailaputri
On the first day of Navratri, Parvati’s incarnation, Shailaputri is worshipped. And this avatar of Durga signifies the concerted power of Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwar. The devotees worship her as the consort of Mahadev. On this day, Durga’s embodiment signifies nature and purity.
Day 2: Devi Brahmacharini
The second avatar of Parvati, Brahmacharini, is worshipped on day two of Navratri. On this auspicious day, Ma Durga looks blissful, blessing all her devotees with happiness, peace, refinement, and prosperity.
Day 3: Devi Chandraghanta
On day three of this festival, Ma Chandraghanta is worshipped, signifying courage and bravery. This incarnation of Parvati rides a tigress, representing beauty and grace. Ma Durga bhakts worship her for peace and prosperity in life.
Day 4: Devi Kushmanda
The fourth day of Navratri is celebrated in honour of goddess Kushmanda, an embodiment of Parvati and perceived as the creator of our universe.
Day 5: Devi Skand Mata
Goddess Skand Mata is worshiped on the fifth day of Navratri. According to Hindu mythology, Skanda is the mother of Karthikeya. The gods chose Devi Skanda to become the chief warrior to fight the demons. The goddess signifies the courage and valour of a mother, who can fight any evil when it comes to the protection and safety of her child.
Day 6: Devi Katyayani
The sixth day of Navratri is celebrated in the honour of Mata Katyayani, who took on Mahishasura. She appears as a warrior on this auspicious day, symbolising courage.
Day 7: Devi Kalratri
Goddess Kalratri is worshipped on the seventh day of Navratri. Ma Durga appears in her fiercest form with a dark complexion and disheveled hair. As the incarnation of Durga, Devi Kalratri defeated many demons in a battle against Mahishasura.
Day 8: Devi Maha Gauri
On this day, goddess Maha Gauri is worshipped in her eighth avatar, representing peace, intelligence, and prosperity.
Day 9: Devi Siddhidatri
The final day of Navratri is celebrated in the honour of Siddhidatri, who is believed to have healing powers. On this day, the goddess appears in an idyllic state of mind, just as the blue sky on a clear, bright day. On this day, Devi Siddhidatri sits on a beautiful lotus flower and rides a lion.
People celebrate Navratri in the holy Braj and other parts of India by observing fasts and dressing up beautifully in bright colours. The festival is celebrated in the holy town with much grandeur and fanfare. Durga bhakts offer pujas and prayers to please the nine forms of the goddess. You can be a part of Navratri celebrations through a Krishna Bhumi Holydays membership and spend seven days every year in Vrindavan.
The love story of Radha and Krishna is perpetual and awe-inspiring, a symbol of the divine union between Paratmatma and Jivatma, the universal self and the individual self. The tale of Shyamsundar and Radhika is a beautiful legend celebrated across thousands of years. And Krishna devotees across many generations are still fascinated by Radha-Krishna romance. In fact, the names of Radha and Krishna are always spelt out in one breath, implying without Radha, Krishna is not complete and without Shyamsundar, Radha is incomplete. So, here are some life lessons to learn from the love story of this divine couple:
Showing Unending Devotion
Radhika, Goddess Shakti’s avatar, was an ardent devotee of Devakinandan, and when the Lord played His flute in the beautiful forests of Vrindavan on a full moon night, the gopis listened to the tunes emanating from Krishna’s flute. Radhika, on the contrary, used to be so mesmerised that she would forget everything and start dancing around natkhat Krishna. So, if you truly love your partner, you will be completely devoted just as Krishna Priya (another name of Radha) was devoted to Devakinandan.
Deriving Strength from Your True Love
Krishna was the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu and derived all His strength from Radhika. There were many cow-herding maidens in Vrindavan, who desired the love and company of Shri Krishna, but it was Radha to whom Shyamsundar lost His heart. Though Krishna never married Radhika, she was by the Lord’s side during His entire stay in the holy Braj. Thus, their love story remains eternal. It means that we must completely trust our partners through thick and thin, making them our strength and not weakness.
Willing to Sacrifice
Pure love is one that is always unconditional. Love in the true sense of the word means sacrifice; it does not always mean not getting but also letting go. Radhika always knew in her heart that Krishna would never marry her. However, that did not make any difference to their undying love for each other. Their love was spiritual, on a sacred level, and beyond the understanding of the materialistic world and its limitations. True love is about sacrifice and Shyamsundar’s paramour relationships are of the highest spiritual excellence, and therefore Radha-Krishna’s love for each other should never be perceived from the physical parlance. Their love is indeed divine and supreme when construed as a form of sacrifice and dedication through which Radhika approached Shyamsundar, the universal self.
The Radha-Krishna romance can never be explained from any worldly or materialistic perspective. Radhika’s devotion for the Lord is unparalleled, proclaiming the ultimate union between the human soul and the Supreme Godhead. The eternal love between Krishna and Radha is beyond human cognizance.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in the place where Krishna spent the blissful years of His life with Radharani? A home in Krishna Bhumi gives you just that. Live blessed surrounded by lush greenery and a beautiful environment where you can feel the Lord’s blessings each moment of your life. Alternatively, you could also visit Vrindavan whenever you wish to through a Krishnabhumi Holydays membership.
Now that Janmashtami is over, Ganesh Chaturthi, one of the popular festivals in India, is being celebrated with much pageantry, dedication, and fervour. Lord Ganesha, who is perceived as the elephant head God symbolises good fortune, wisdom, and prosperity. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated in different parts of our country including Vrindavan, the land of Shri Krishna, where pandals are built throughout the holy town. There is a strong connection between Devakinandan and Lord Ganesha, according to the Hindu mythology. There is a popular belief that you should not look at the moon on the auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi. Else, false accusations and criticism would come one’s way. However, according to the puranas, it is written that even if an individual gets a glimpse of the moon by mistake, he or she can invalidate the curse by learning about the story associated with Ganesh Chaturthi.
Ganesha’s Curse on Shri Krishna
There is an interesting story related to Ganesh Chaturthi and its significance. With all the Gods worshipping Lord Ganesha, Kuber, one of the wealthiest inhabitants of paradise organised a grand feast for Ganesha. The happy and cheerful elephant-head God ate all the delicious food to his heart’s content. However, he soon felt uneasy and sensed that due to overeating, his stomach would burst. His belly grew very large and with its round shape and Ganesha’s short build, the Lord was unable to bend. The moon observed Ganesha’s plight from the sky above and laughed at him. Thus ridiculed, Lord Ganesha lost his cool and cursed the moon. The curse was so strong and forceful that even Shri Krishna could not escape Ganesha’s wrath.
Once upon a time in Dwaraka, Shri Krishna’s homeland, lived the king Satrajita, who was also an ardent follower of the Sun God, Surya. As the mighty king worshipped with much devotion, Satrajita was gifted a brilliant and powerful gem called the Syamantaka. It was thought that whoever worshipped this gem with all his heart would be rewarded with lots of gold in return, which signified abundant wealth and prosperity. One fine day, Devakinandan wanted to take a look at this magnificent gem, but was never allowed by Satrajita to see the same.
On the fourth day of the moon, Rukmini, Devakinandan’s wife, served the Lord some kheer. While Shri Krishna was savouring the delicious pudding, He saw the reflection of the semi-circular moon, cursed by Ganesha. On seeing the crescent moon, Lord Krishna realised that He too will have to face Ganesha’s curse.
Prasena’s Hunting Adventure
During this time, Prasena, the brother of king Satrajita, goes on a hunting trip, carrying the powerful Syamantaka gem with him. Unfortunately, Prasena was attacked and killed by a lion, mistaking the glittering gem as fresh meat and took the precious jewel into the cave.
Jambavanta Kills the Lion
Jambavanta, the bear who rescued Sita, Lord Rama’s wife, slaughtered the lion and handed over the gem to Jambavanti, his daughter. When Satrajita learned about his brother’s death, his suspicion fell upon Krishna. The king thought that Devakinandan killed Prasena in greed of the powerful gem. Hearing of these allegations, Shri Krishna was extremely sad and filled with remorse. Therefore, He went to look for Prasena Himself, king Satrajita’s brother, and discovered his corpse outside the lion’s cave.
Krishna Battles with Jambavanta
Lord Krishna followed the lion’s footprints and entered the cave. This is where He found Jambavanti with the gem. Jambavanta thought that Devakinandan wanted to attack his daughter, for the magnificent Syamantaka, and asked Krishna to fight with him. The battle continued for 28 long days and Jambavanta failed to compete with Devakinandan, who was a trained warrior. After which he realised that Shyamsundar was no ordinary person and requested Him to disclose His real identity.
Krishna Weds Jambavanti
Revealing His true identity, Krishna reminded Jambavanta that He was born as Lord Rama in His preceding life and how Jambavanta helped Rama to rescue Sita. When Jambavanta realised what a blunder he had committed, he gave his daughter and the precious Syamantaka gem to thank Krishna. After His marriage, Devakinandan went to visit king Satrajita and returned Prasena’s corpse and the gem. Satrajita feeling sorry begged for Krishna’s apology and asked the Lord to marry Satyabhama’s, the king’s daughter and requested Devakinandan to protect the precious gem Syamantaka.
Krishna Starts Worshipping Ganesha
According to the Hindu mythology, people believe that Krishna had to bear Ganesha’s curse and thus faced these allegations. From that day, Devakinandan started to worship Lord Ganesha.
The holy Braj celebrates not only celebrates Ganesh Chaturthi, but also many other festivals. So, come and experience the magic called Vrindavan, where you get to hear many beautiful stories related to the Supreme Godhead, Krishna. You can explore this magical land through a Krishnabhumi Holydays membership and also own one of the luxurious apartments in Krishna Bhumi, the temple township in Vrindavan.
Janmashtami celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, who is mentioned in the Hindu religious scriptures as God Almighty. To Krishna bhakts, it is a day of deep spiritual regeneration, commemoration, and observance. Krishna is the most mischievous and affectionate son, the most sympathetic friend, and the most passionate lover. And on Janmashtami, all devotees celebrate the Lord’s birth for these special qualities.
Krishna Janmashtami also called Shri Krishna Jayanti, Gokulashtami and Ashtami Rohini is observed on the eight day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapada. Since Devakinandan was born at the stroke of midnight, the festival is observed for two days. The first day is known as Krishnashtami and the next day is called Kalashtami. The celebrations in Vrindavan are popular, brilliant, and vivid. Read about the story of Krishna’s birth, the significance of Janmashtami, and how this festival is celebrated in the holy Braj.
Why Krishna’s Birth is a Miracle
The circumstances related to Krishna’s birth are extraordinary and miraculous. Kansa, the king of Mathura and maternal uncle of Shyamsundar was a tyrant and evil ruler. During the wedding ceremony of Devaki (Kansa’s sister) and Vasudeva, a divine foretelling claimed that the couple’s eighth son would spell death for Kansa. Hearing the divine prophecy, Kansa put both Devaki and his brother-in-law behind bars, tying them with chains and locks. Kansa decided to kill Devaki, but when Vasudeva promised that he would give up all the babies to Kansa as soon as they were born that the cruel king was somewhat appeased. Kansa killed all the six children of Devaki and Vasudeva. However, Balaram, the couple’s seventh child was saved because of divine intervention, when Balaram was moved from the womb of Devaki to that of Vasudeva’s other wife, Rohini.
When Devaki conceived Krishna, the eighth child, the surroundings were suffused with majestic beauty and benignity. And when Gopal was just to be born, the prison guards fell into a deep sleep as a result of which they could not witness the birth of Devakinandan. It was indeed a miracle with all the sentinels falling asleep and the chains, iron shackles, locks, and prison gates miraculously unlocking.
The Manifestation of Krishna as Vishnu
Gopal was born in the form of Lord Vishnu, dressed in beautiful jewels and silk, and carrying the sudarshan chakra, shankha, lotus, and club. Seeing this, Devaki and Vasudeva prayed so that Krishna looked like an ordinary baby and they could hide Him from Kansa. Hearing this, a divine voice advised Vasudeva to move Krishna to Gokul across the river in a basket and exchange Devakinandan with the newborn girl child born to Nanda and Yashoda.
The Stormy Night When Krishna Was Moved
On a dark and stormy night when the entire city was asleep and the Yamuna was in spate with the waters raging, Vasudeva moved out of the prison. He carried infant Krishna in a basket braving the turbulent river. The rain poured in torrents, but the water parted because of the storm, allowing Vasudeva to pass and transport Devakinandan safely to Gokul. Vasudeva held baby Krishna high over his head when crossing the Yamuna. Magically, a five-mouthed snake followed Vasudeva and covered infant Krishna from above with its hood to protect Him from the rain. Reaching Nanda’s house in Gokul, Vasudeva found its gates open, exchanged the babies as advised and returned to Kansa’s prison with Nanda’s and Yashoda’s baby girl. Thus, Krishna was left behind to be raised by His foster parents in Gokul.
Gokul Rejoiced the Birth of Krishna
With the break of dawn, when Nanda’s and Yashoda’s beautiful son, dark as a night and charismatic as the sun, was discovered, the people of Gokul celebrated Krishna’s birth.
When Kansa learned about the birth of the eighth child, he rushed to the prison, picked the baby up with an intention to kill, the girl child slipped from Kansa’s hand, rose above in the sky and manifested as Goddess Yogamaya. She laughed at Kansa and warned him that the eighth child was already born and would kill Kansa, and was safe in Gokul. Later, when Krishna killed His uncle, Devi Yogamaya’s prophecy came true.
Vrindavan Celebrations and the Dahi Handi Ritual
The celebrations related to the festival starts 10 days before Janmashtami. The temples in the holy town perform pujas and aartis to worship Gopal. The enactment of Ras Leelas and the sound of bhajans and bells make Vrindavan lively. Krishna bhakts from all over the globe flock to the city on the auspicious occasion of Janmashtami. A grand abhishek is performed at midnight in the inner sanctum of the Banke Bihari Temple. The deity of Devakinandan is given a ritual bath with honey, milk, curd, water, and ghee. Once the abhishek is over, the Krishna idol is adorned with jewels and fine cloth and offered flowers, chandan, tulsi, balbhog, and itr religiously. And once Shri Krishna sits on the throne, the bhakts are allowed darshan from 2 am. This special darshan continues till 6 am in the morning.
Shri Krishna was extremely fond of butter as a child. Bal Gopal stole butter from the houses of the village folks, which is why He is also called ‘Makhan Chor’, escorted by His friends. That’s why the Dahi Handi ritual is so popular all over India and is also observed in Vrindavan and Mathura with a lot of zest, vigour, and energy. A pot of clay is filled with buttermilk and tied very high up in the air. Young boys create a human pyramid, and the boy who reaches the top breaks the Handi using a coconut and collects a cash prize.
So, come be a part of Janmashtami in the holy Braj. Explore Krishna’s land through a Krishnabhumi Holydays membership and spend 7 days in the holy town every year. Getting accommodation during the festive season is difficult. You can also raise your family where Krishna spent His childhood. Own one of the luxury apartments or villas in the temple township of Krishna Bhumi close to the proposed Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir.
Tirth-yatra or a journey to places of religious significance has always been an integral part of the Indian culture. While spiritual tourism has witnessed a resurgence in the recent past, India has always known and nurtured such a quest. If you feel inspired to take a journey that will lead to spiritual elevation, consider becoming a Krishnabhumi Holydays member which not only lets you spend 7 blissful days in Vrindavan but also gives you the opportunity to visit hundreds of pilgrimage sites through RCI exchange. You also get 35% discount on RCI Exchange fees when visiting pilgrimage locations in India.
Here is a list of five locations that hold a special significance among Hindus. Begin your journey by visiting these places that attract millions of devotees every year.
Ramanathaswamy temple, Rameswaram
On Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu, stands the beautiful Ramanathaswamy temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples. Legend has it that the Shiva lingam of this temple was established and worshipped by Sri Ram. According to the ‘yudha kanda’ of Valmiki’s Ramayana, after the battle with Ravana, it was here that Sri Ram prayed to Shiva to absolve any sins that He might have committed during the war and especially the sin of Brahmahatya that He committed for killing Ravana. However, in order to worship Shiva, Sri Ram wanted a lingam and sent Hanuman to bring it from the Himalayas. However, since Hanuman was late, Ram’s wife Sita created a lingam with the sands of the shore. It is believed that it is this lingam that is still there in the inner sanctum of the temple.
Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri
This 11th-century temple is one of the char dhams, the four pilgrimage sites that many Hindus want to visit at least once during their lifetime. There are many stories regarding the origin of the temple. According to one story, Sri Jagannath manifested Himself in the form of Indranila Mani or the Blue Jewel. However, so dazzling was the ‘mani’ that it would grant instant ‘moksha’ to anyone who looked at it. Yama hid it. Later on, Lord Vishnu instructed King Indradyumna to establish the Jagannath Temple. Even today, many things happen surrounding the temple that science fails to explain. For example, the flag on the temple always flaps in the opposite direction to the wind, no bird or aeroplane flies above the temple, and the Sudarshan Chakra at the temple top always faces you, no matter from where you look at it.
Pushkar Lake, Ajmer
Pushkar Lake finds several mentions in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and several other Puranic texts. Pushkar comes from the words ‘pushpa’ meaning ‘flower’ and ‘kar’ meaning ‘hand’. It refers to the story of Lord Brahma that is behind the origin of this lake. Legend has it that Lord Brahma killed the demon Vajranabha with His lotus and while doing so, three petals fell on three spots. These three places transformed into three lakes— the Pushkar Lake, the Madya Pushkar Lake, and the Kanishta Pushkar Lake. Fifty two bathing ghats surround the lake. It is believed that the water of the Pushkar Sarovar has healing powers. The lake, which is regarded as ‘Adi Tirtha’ in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, attracts devotees from all corners of the world because it is believed that a dip in the lake on Karthik Poornima equals the merit of performing yajnas for several centuries.
Har ki Pauri, Haridwar
The Ganga aarti at Har ki Pauri is a sight that will resonate within you for years to come. Every evening, thousands of devotees gather at the ghat to witness the mesmerising aradhana. The Ganga aarti is performed in what is considered to be the most sacred part of Har ki Pauri— the Brahmakund. It is believed that after samudra manthan, when Garud was carrying the pitcher full of amrit, a few drops fell on the Brahmakund.
Kedarnath Temple, Kedarnath
Kedarnath is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites among the Hindus. It is the highest among the 12 jyotirlingams. According to mythology, after the battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas wanted to ask for forgiveness from Shiva and wanted to meet Him. However, Shiva was reluctant and took refuge at Kedarnath. He assumed the formed of a bull and dived headlong into the ground, with His hump as the only visible portion. The head of the bull appeared at present-day Nepal’s Pashupatinath Temple. One of the best ways to reach Kedarnath is from Rishikesh. You can even put up at an RCI-affiliated resort at Rishikesh and then take a taxi or a bus to reach Kedarnath.
India is a land of mythologies and legends, of temples and shrines, of pilgrimage sights and devout devotees. If you wish to explore all the beautiful places that the country has, become a Krishnabhumi Holydays member. With a Holydays membership, you will always have a home in any part of India and the world.