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Vraja Mandala Parikrama

Note: this is the beginning of our attempt to perform devotional service by means of visualization and meditation, due to physical decrepitude, as previously written in the posts of “mind over matter” found in the “visualization” category of this blog. I intend to do meditational parikrama in both New Vrindavan and Vrindavan dhama India. I am still absorbing details of the path of New Vrindavan parikrama, and so I begin with Vraja Mandala Parikrama, in Vrindavan Dhama India, by following the paths given by the authoritative books “Touring the Land of Krishna” by Patita Pavana dasa, and “Mathura-mandala Parikrama” by Narahari Cakravarti Thakura. Begging the mercy of Vaisnavas, being full of faults, I make this feeble attempt at parikrama visualization.

Visualized Parikrama in Sri Vrndavan Dhama

With eager determination to render service to the holy land of Lord Sri Krishna, Sri Vrindavan dhama, I try to utilize the ancient method of visualization and meditation to perform devotional service within my mind, and go on parikrama seva. By means of the subtle energy of the mind, we attempt to walk barefoot upon the sacred dust of Vrindavan, and perceive the Dhama in vivid colors of blues and reds and browns, saturated with luscious green trees and colorful flowers. The air is permeated with transcendental sound vibrations, penetrating deep into my subtle ears and heart.

I awaken from sleep and take bath and dress in dhoti and apply tilak, and participate in the morning program at Sri Sri Krishna Balarama Mandira, via the airways of my mind. I pay my full dandavats and proclaim my obeisances to my divine master, Srila Prabhupada and to Sri Sri Krishna Balarama, and Sri Sri Gour Nitai, and Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara, and Srimati Tulasi devi and all the exalted Vaisnavas and Saint Jayananda Thakur. I eagerly take the dust of their lotus feet and smear it on my head, and all over my body, begging their merciful benedictions to do this service, keeping their images bright within my mind.

I give heartfelt obeisances to the holy land of Vrindavan, and beg for divine permission to tread upon the sacred dust of the parikrama trail, and wait in silence. After moments of meditation, I feel the privilege given by the mercy of my diksa and siksa gurus to proceed upon the parikrama trail, circumambulating Vrindavan.

After requesting my dear devotee friends, Krishna das, Govinda das and Premananda das, to proceed with me on parikrama — they joyfully agree to depart after completion of the morning program. We remember to bring many small rupee notes and coins for giving small donations to the different temples. We stop for a moment and read about the arrival of Akrura in Vrindavan,

“Akrura lost all mental equilibrium at the sight of the actual footprints of Sri Krsna, and he jumped out of his chariot and fell onto the ground, shedding tears and crying, "How wonderful it is! How wonderful it is!" -- touching his head onto the footprints of the Supreme Lord.” KB

We mentally fall and roll in the dust of Vrindavan, in the mood of Akrura, chanting over and over again, “Jai Radhe! Jai Sri Krishna!” and then begin parikrama. Walking along the path, we catch a view of the sun majestically rising in the east, and spreading its golden glow all about the beautiful sands of Raman Reti. This area is known as the glorious land of Raman Reti, which means the sandy place where Lord Krishna enjoys His playful sports with his cowherd companions.

Some white surabhi cows gracefully pass us on the right, their horns adorned with golden ornaments, and around their neck are swinging jeweled cowbells, musically clinking in rhythm to a bhajan nearby. Monkeys playfully run and swing in the branches of trees, and large black bats hang from the tree limbs.

The flowery bushes are adorned with fluttering golden butterflies, and kalpavrksa trees embrace numerous exotic birds of bright colors, who are sweetly singing the divine songs of the lila of the divine couple, Sri Sri Radha Krishna. Scores of peacocks are beautifying the atmosphere, strutting all about the parikrama path, spreading their feathers and crowing loudly. We hear loud cries of “Jai Radhe!” from all directions, and hear bhajans and cries of “Haribol!” everywhere.

We pass many pilgrims on the path, greeting us with a cheerful “Jai Radhe!” and we return a hearty “Jai Radhe!” as we lift both hands and point to our heart region, signifying the presence of Radha Krishna in our hearts. As we tread along the path of parikrama, we spontaneously pick up a melody that we hear coming from a nearby temple, and we sing the famous bhajan, composed by Srila Krishna dasa Kaviraja;

“Jaya Radha, Jaya Krishna, Jaya Vrindavan, Sri Govinda, Gopinatha, Madana Mohana.” Translation; “Glory to Radha and Krishna and the divine forest of Vrindavan. Glory to the three presiding Deities of Vrindavan, Sri Govinda, Gopinatha, Madan Mohan.”

We look on the left, and we see a small temple and ghat, and we fall down in dandavats to the entrance of Varaha Mandira. This ancient temple is where the four handed Varahadeva is worshipped. This is where Lord Krishna once revealed to His friends, His avatar of the divine boar, Lord Varaha.

We remember to bring along the sacred texts of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, and other sastras, so that we can read about the great devotees, such as Madhavendra Puri, and Rama Dasa Abhirama Dasa, and Murari Gupta and Srila Krsna das Kaviraja Gosvami, and thus we will be in constant bliss thinking of these great personalities of our Vaisnava history.

I am always remembering in my heart, the beautiful life of our Iskcon saint, Jayananda Thakur, asking him for even a small drop of his humility and devotion, to quench the yearning of my parched throat, begging him for the waves of bliss emanating from his oceans of nectar, hankering to feel the pure white light of love of guru and Krishna emanating from his golden heart.

We meditate upon Lord Caitanya’s pilgrimage to Vrndavana and His ecstatic dancing and sweet singing of the Hare Krishna Maha Mantra, which caused the tigers and snakes and lions and elephants to forget their lower natures and chant Hare Krishna along with Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I also pray to the Lord to help me rise above my lower nature, like the lions and tigers, so that I may chant the holy names, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, in a humble mood, as we tread along the path.

Across from Varaha Mandir is a temple commemorating the spot where Gautama Rishi did severe tapasya there, and our master, Srila Prabhupada has told us that his family line, or gotra, traces back to Gautama Rishi, and therefore as we being the disciplinary students of Srila Prabhupada, we are also claim disciplic succession to the Gautama gotra, by Srila Prabhupada’s grace.

Next, we see the Kaliya Ghat, where Lord Krishna banished the Kaliya serpent, and here is the majestic kadamba tree, from which Lord Krishna leapt from, to chastise the great serpent, Kaliya, as wonderfully described in the Srimad Bhagavatam. We pay our dandavats and speak Krishna Katha about His pastime with the Kaliya serpent, such as Lord Krishna dancing on the many hoods of Kaliya, and by the touch of Krishna’s lotus feet on his hoods, Kaliya was purified. We also pray for the dust of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet to be distributed all over our heads and bodies for our purification.

After a few moments of meditation on the sacred dust of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet, we ascend a flight of steps up a hill, which leads us to the dwadashaditya hill. This is where the reddish sandstone temple of Madan Mohan is transcendentally situated. Krishna ascended this hill after He dispatched Kaliya, and on this hill Krishna performed the pastime of “catching a chill.” To keep Krishna from catching a cold, Aditya, the sun god expanded into 12 suns to warm Lord Krishna, Who then began perspiring and His nectarean perspiration filled the Prashkandana Ghat.

After contemplating this blissful pastime of Lord Krishna, We gaze at the artistic majesty of the ancient red sandstone temple standing before us, the Radha Madan Mohan Mandira, founded by Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and we read this nectarean verse from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta;

“Glory to the all merciful Radha Madan Mohan. I am lame and ill-advised, yet They are my directors, and Their lotus feet are everything to me.” — composed by Srila Krsna das Kaviraja Gosvami

We pause for a while, and sit in a circle, in the courtyard, near the bhajan kuntir of Srila Sanatana Gosvami, and take prasadam and speak Krishna Katha as we read from sastra. Premananda das relates a text he read, wherein Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati advises all devotees of Lord Krishna to immediately beg for Krishna Prema upon rising from bed in the morning. Govinda das reads a verse from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta;

“Only the most fortunate ears can hear these four nectarean sounds – Krishna’s words, the tinkling of His ankle bells and bangles, His voice and the vibration of His flute. If one does not hear these sounds, his ears are as useless as small conchshells with holes.” Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Antya lila 17.49

Krishna dasa reads these verses from Srimad Bhagavatam and other sastras about the glories of Lord Krishna’s flute;

The gopis declared, "To see Lord Krsna playing His flute while taking the cows to pasture is the highest perfection for the eyes. What pious activities has this flute performed that enable him to freely drink the nectar of Sri Krsna's lips - a blessing we cowherd girls find difficult to achieve? Hearing the song of Krsna's flute, the peacocks dance, and all the other creatures become stunned when they see them. Demigoddesses traveling through the sky in their airplanes are vexed by Cupid, and their garments become loose. The ears of the cows stand on end as they drink the nectar of this flute-song, and their calves simply stand stunned, the milk they have been drinking from their mothers' udders still in their mouths. … All the nonmoving living beings take on the characteristics of moving creatures, and the moving living beings become stationary. These things are all very wonderful." - Srimad Bhagavatam 10.21.1

As soon as they heard Govinda's flute, the inert entities started singing and the vocal entities fell silent. River waves froze and ceased their movement; immobile objects started moving and solid objects turned to liquid. Krishna's flute song thus reversed the functions of nature. The world danced in wonderful ways when Sri Krishna pressed His flute to His bimba fruit lips and played the fifth note. - Krsnahnika-kaumudi

Krishna's flute song makes objects adopt opposite qualities. Mountains melt and flow in all directions. Seeing the streams of molten rock, the birds and deer rush to drink the nectar. When they hear the flute, they become stunned in their tracks and cannot drink. The water in the lakes turns solid when the sound of the flute passes over it. As a result, the female swans get their feet locked in the stone-like water. The feet of the male swans also get locked in the petrified water. Thus, they cannot eat the lotus stems, feed them to their partners or enjoy with them. - Govinda-lilamrta 12.42

“When the water that Krishna drinks or uses to wash His face contacts the drops of nectar left by the flute after it has tasted His lips and falls to the ground, all the rivers turn solid and their hair stands on end in the form of lotuses bursting into bloom. The trees pull that nectar up through their roots and drop tears of honey from their flowers.” - Ananda-vrndavana-campu 11.44

“May we meditate on Lord Krishna’s flute by hearing these wonderful words from sastra,” said Krishna dasa.

Delightfully, to our surprise, Premananda prabhu plays a song from his i-pad, which fills our earholes with celestial vibrations, elevating us to a state of total bliss. It is the legendary Visnujana Swami singing a beautiful bhajan. At the end of the song, we sit in stunned wonder, and are reveling in supreme bliss, and birds are falling from the tree branches in pure love of God, from hearing the ultra devotional voice of Visnujana Swami singing the Lord’s glories.

“Visnujana Swami Ki Jaya!”