The Holy River Yamuna

Keshi Ghat is the principle bathing place in town of Vrindavan, here the sacred river Yamuna so graciously flows & extends herself to everyone without discrimination; anyone who touches her water, drinks, anyone who even sees her, smells her, what to speak of bathing in her will become infinitely purified. Yamuna is the daughter of Sun god & sister of Yamaraj. Out of great love for his sister Yamaraj has given benediction that, anyone who worships you by drinking or taking bath in your waters I will never bother that person. Sri Yamuna Devi ki jai. In the spiritual world of Goloka the Yamuna eternally flows in order to render loving scholar to Krsna in his Lila of the world, Yamuna long before the appearance of Krsna descended in to this world. She begins high in the Himalayas at Yamunotri & flows down to planes, specifically to come here in Sri Vrindavan, during the time of Krsna & even a few decades ago Yamuna made practically entire circle around Vraja bhumi, now it borders by two sides.


Attachment is the cause of fear

This particular place is specially significant; Kamsa after being frustrated again & again & again he kept sending the most powerful mystic asuras in all of the universe to Vrindavan to somehow or other murder the small child Krsna; but every time he failed. Putana came to Gokul when Krsna was only a few days old, he was a new born infant but yet Krsna sucked the life right from her breast & sent her back home back to godhead. Çakaöäsura, Trinavarta Aghasura, Bakäsura, Vyomäsura, and Vatsäsura every demon that came Krsna & Balaräm annihilated them. Kamsa was becoming more & more fearful. One who is attached to the body, one’s wealth, one’s family has to be afraid of death, in fact fear is one of the most integrated miseries in everyone’s life; how people fear, harms, suffering & death. All fear is born of the desire for sense gratification, as long as we want to enjoy these bodies thinking that this will give us happiness then fear must plague our minds. Because the body is temporary & all the objects of enjoyments are temporary it is predestined in every case that everything will be stripped away from us. Kamsa was utterly frustrated in fear of his life, in contrarily we find the simple Vraja gopas they danced right in the mouth of Aghasura smiling, clapping their hands thinking Krsna will save us; we have nothing to fear. But the demigods in the heaven they feared as death personified this demon named Agha, because they still had material attachments.


Killing of Keshi demon

Kamsa sent a mighty powerful mystic Rakshasha of the name Keshi; Keshi assumed form of a gigantic powerful mad horse, he came gallop into Vrindavan. No one had ever seen a horse like this. He ran at the speed of the mind, his hoofs were tearing up the earth & causing earthquakes, his tail was so high in the sky it was scattering the clouds; he ran right to Krsna. Krsna was standing very very casually amongst his friends & challenged this Keshi to good fight; this only more maddened Keshi. He opened his mouth to attack Krsna, to eat him. When he approached Krsna he began to kick Krsna with his front legs, Krsna grabbed those legs, whorled him around & threw him a great distance of one hundred bows in land. Keshi fell to the ground unconscious & he came back to consciousness madder than ever. Shrinath Ji Prabhu taught me, never half kill a snake; either you leave it alone or you kill it because if you half kill it they become angrier than ever. That’s the nature of envious people. But Krsna half killed Keshi, defeated him, threw him to the ground, humiliated him; Keshi was thousands of times more furious than ever before. He got up his eyes were blazing with anger, he charged at Krsna with his gigantic mouth gaping open to devour the lord. Krsna smiling effortlessly pushed his hand in Keshi’s mouth & broke all his teeth & his arm was stuck in Keshi’s throat. It was red hot like fire, it expanded & expanded until Keshi could no longer breath; he was choking, suffocating, he was kicking his legs, his eyes balls popped in the sockets he passed stool & urine simultaneously flipped over & fell tot ground dead. Sri Krsna bhagavän ki jai. Cowherd boys very happy they cried out well done Krsna well done & the demigods from the heaven showered flowers on his head. After killing Keshi, he stuck his hand in that dirty horse’s mouth Krsna came here to this very place to take his bath, therefore it is known as Keshi Ghat.

Maya never takes a break

According to Thakur Bhaktivinod & our acharyas, the anartha that Keshi represents is vanity, attachment to false prestige, attachment to material success, material wealth & especially the attachment to thinking that, I am a very very great devotee; I am a very qualified guru. Maya trick is, whatever stage of devotional service we come to up to the platform of pure devotional service she is right there to trap us. The false ego is so fastidious that it is right there to victimise us; we chant some nice rounds & the false ego is right there to tell you are a great devotee, such nice rounds you chanted you are better than him, look at that person falling asleep & look at that person…. hare ksn… ksn, you chant your rounds so clearly. You are a great soul, you are better than all others. Today is Ekadashi some of you may be doing Nirjala Ekadashi, that’s very good fasting on Ekadashi however Maya is right there; you are fasting on Ekadashi & look at all these other thousand devotees eating prasädam; Maya sense gratification, spiritually little children look at me I  material fasting I have not drunk even a drop of water. If that is your mentality then run to the prasädam room & eat as much prasädam as possible. We study the scriptures, by our potency of our fertile brain we memorise scriptures, hundreds of slokas, thousands of slokas; I know philosophy, I can speak so fluently, I can defeat all opponents, I am a great soul, I am a mahatma. If that is mentality go wash some pots & sweep the floor, you will make better spiritual advancement. However even a popper is proud of his penny, I wash pots better than anyone else in this temple, no one can sweep the floor like me. Anything you do successful false ego is right there to attack. In our International society for Krsna consciousness, amongst new devotees when they would come, very enthusiastic waking up for mangal ärati, dancing like madman, madwoman eating very little food very very strict. Do you know what we were to call that? The pure devotee complex, pure devotee syndrome; instantly they thought they were great soul.

The essence of Bhakti is to become humble

However what is actual spiritual advancement?

trinad api sunicena, taror api sahishnuna

amanina manadena, kirtaniya sada hari

to be more humble than a blade of grass, more tolerant than a tree ready to offer all respects to others & expect none in return. Only in this state of consciousness can we really please Krsna & thus be empowered to constantly chant his holy names, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare. This quality is what we are trying to acquire through our bhajan, through our sadhana, through our seva; it is this quality that will satisfy Krsna. So vanity is one of the most powerful demons within our hearts, there are sanyaasis who lived strict celibacy, learned extensive scriptures, became very very powerful in controlling their minds & senses but are simply victims of their false ego; I am God, I am most dear to the spiritual master. We see within our own society sometimes devotees who had very intimate association with Srila Prabhupada rather being humble by that association they became proud. I am more advanced than others; I am more dear to my spiritual master than others that is a great obstacle on the path of pure devotional service. Rupa & Sanatan Goswami they were great scholars, they were multi millionaires, they were powerful, they were influential, they had all material & spiritual qualities but yet they fell at the lotus feet of Lord Gauranga Mahaprabhu with straw between their teeth; we are the most fallen, we are the most hopeless only your shelter can save us. Unless we have a humble state of mind we cannot actually cry out for the mercy of Krsna.


Pride is the cause of self-destruction

Keshi represented the demon of vanity. Such a big gigantic powerful horse scattering the clouds, causing the earth to tremble he actually had the audacity to think that he can conquer Krsna himself, such vanity. But Krsna got him perfectly, because everyone knows, if you want to control a horse it’s through his mouth. So Krsna knows the weakness of everyone, & he out his hand right in the mouth of Keshi. Proud people are very often boastful with their mouths & actually when we pray our own glories & minimise others our very mouth is the cause of our spiritual destruction. There was that Brahman who told Caitanya Mahaprabhu, I am so proud being Brahman & I blast famed you & blast fame your devotees; this is the product of vanity. When we are proud it is inevitable we have to offend, criticize & blast fame others, which is the greatest detriment to our spiritual lives; mad elephant offence. How to actually think that I am the servant of the servant of the servant of the servant even though I have so many qualifications. I am a senior devotee, I have been around for a long time, I have been loyal to my wows, so many people are coming & respecting me with folded hands; how can I think myself to be more low than a worm in stool, more fallen than Jagäi & Mädhäi, how can I feel myself the insignificant servant of those people who are coming & honouring me? Very difficult but it is absolutely essential. Bhakti is not material, Krsna is pleased by our state of consciousness, by our humility, by our surrender by our dedication to the service of his devotees; & that service should be from the heart. In this material world because of the false ego everyone wants to be the master, fighting for top position. Devotees fight for lowest position because that lowest position attracts Krsna who is the all attractive to bring us to the highest position. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu told that Brahman that, to criticize devotees due to false pride is like drinking poison with your mouth; but to praise them & praise the lord Sri Krsna is like taking nectar. A devotee should be like the honey bee looking for the good qualities in others & tasting that nectar, not like the flies looking for the faults & defects in others & tasting the nectar of speaking those qualities. That is the sign of false pride.

False ego is like that small hole in the boat of devotional service

There are some Babajis who take mauna vrata, they will not speak anything, if you are actually sincerely thinking themselves insignificant humble & unqualified to speak then they will make some spiritual advancement by doing that. But we have seen with our own eyes people they walk around with a little piece of black board & little piece of chalk & they blast fame others like that. Real silence is to always talk about Krsna, always talk those subjects which are favourable to Krsna consciousness & in a humble state of mind to always chant the holy names, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare. So please never think yourself better than others because of the amount of time you have spent in devotional service, a real senior devotee is the person who thinks, I am the servant of all. The ego should be deflated through the chanting of holy name & not inflated. We have to be very careful, Caitanya Mahaprabhu said, when we are watering the seed of Bhakti weeds grow with it & that weed of pride is deadly, as deadly as Keshi, we have to cry out for Krsna save us from this demon of vanity, proud of material accomplishments, proud of my high birth, proud of my wealth, proud of my knowledge.

Our attitude in devotion determines our altitude

Queen Kunti said that, these qualities of wealth, high birth, beauty & knowledge are the greatest disqualifications for devotional service because in a proud state of mind we cannot cry out for mercy. Akinchanagocharam, those who in their heart feel, I have nothing, I am nothing, guru maharaj your mercy is all that I am made of. This is how the great acharyas think, this is how they live & it is this we aspire to imbibe within our own lives by serving the vaishnavas, by strictly following our sadhana with right motivation to purify our heats & actually become humble. One of the processes of purifying our hearts is bathing in Yamuna, actually bathing in Yamuna is one hundred times more powerful in purifying the soul than bathing in Ganges & bathing here in Keshi ghat is many more times powerful than bathing in other places of Yamuna. So here as we are taking our baths, with great faith we should be praying, Krsna please as you kill Keshi, kill this false ego within my heart & make me your pure unalloyed servant.


Beyond material contamination

Here in Vrindavan people send so much sewage into Yamuna which is very unfortunate but still its the Yamuna & Srila Prabhupada explains in Srimad Bhagvatam that, if a person actually has faith; if he is bathing in Ganga or Yamuna & sees Human stool floating hr will push it aside & lovingly drink the  water & take it his bath. We must not make material considerations; we are coming to Yamuna to worship the supreme personality of godhead, to purify our hearts. As you bath first bow down to mother Yamuna Devi with great respect, devotion then place three drops of water on top of your head with reverence & then enter into Yamuna take your bath praying for purification. Bathing is a type of devotional service that is pleasing to the lord & after that some of you will bathe with great reverence & others may become very playful, but here it is alright but everyone please take your bath to your very heart’s content. Hari Bol.

Written by

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.

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About Me

Radhanath Swami

H.H Radhanath Swami is one of today’s most beloved and respected spiritual teachers. A Bhakti Yoga practitioner for 40 years, he is a guide, community builder, philanthropist, and acclaimed author.Born and raised in Chicago,at the age of 19 he discovered India's Mystical devotional tradition and now spread his message of compassion and love around the world.