H.H. Radhanath Swami
Samādhi Mandirs of Ācāryas
… from Kāliyā Ghāṭa, [??] the holy Samādhi mandira of Śrīla Prabodhānanda Sarasvatī, one of the most worshipable saints of our Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava line. His living example and writings have inspired the hearts of millions over the centuries. Gaura-gaṇoddeśa-dīpikā identifies him as one of the eight principal sakhīs of Śrī Rādhā-Govinda’s līlā— Tuṅgavidyā sakhī. From there we visited Śrī Madana-mohana temple, the original major temple of Vṛndāvana, the worshipable deity of Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī. Just behind Madana-mohana mandira, is the holy Samādhi mandira of Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī. He left[?] his manifested līlā in this world on Guru Pūrṇimā at the Cakaleśvara[?] Mahādeva temple of Mānasī Gaṅgā in Govardhana and [??](01:49) divine body was brought to the lotus feet of Śrī Madana-mohanaji by procession for his samādhi. There we also offered our worshipable obeisances to bhajana kuṭīra of Sanātana Gosvāmī and the special well that… Madana-mohana specifically created that well to provide sweet, nectarine drinking water for Sanātana Gosvāmī and his worship of the deities.
Kṛṣṇa’s Pastimes at Imli Tal: Mood of Separation
Then we came to Imli Tal (02:36). All of you went and circumambulated the Imli Tal. It may have been some trouble[??] but we come to Vṛndāvana without circumambulating and offering[??] our prayers at this holy place would not be the sane[??]. I understand with two thousand people, trying to do parikramā around a tree, it takes some time and patience, but the eternal spiritual benefits will be profound. Imli Tal is a place, when Śrī Rādhārāṇī left the Śarad-pūrṇimā rāsa dance, that we read in Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Kṛṣṇa was searching for Her in separation and they sat under this eternal kalpavṛkṣa – tamarind tree. The mood of separation increases the anticipation for meeting, and thus very much increases the intensity of love. So Kṛṣṇa, in this mood of separation became so became so completely absorbed in the thoughts of Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī, chanting Her holy names, that His body assumed the color of Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī. Actually, He became like Rādhārāṇī, He became Rādhārāṇī. Intense ecstasy. In that mood, Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī appeared and saw Him in that form, then His separation was relieved and He again assumed His original form of Śyāmasundara. Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī asked Him, “What is it that I have seen?” Kṛṣṇa told that, “In My intense ecstasies of separation, I assumed Your form, Your complexion and Your ecstatic love. In the age of Kali, I will appear like this, I will appear with Your complexion and with Your mood of ecstatic love and I will spread that love throughout the world, to all living beings, to accept through the saṅkīrtana movement – the loud congregational chanting: Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare / Hare Rāma Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu at Imli Tal
According to His word, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa appears in this age of Kali only once in the day of Brahmā, as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. śrī-rādhā yātra vikṛtir… the form of Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, Svarupa Damodar Gosvami explains, “The Supreme Absolute Truth is One, but becomes Two for the sake of loving exchange – Rādhā Govinda. But They have again become One in the form of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.” It is expalained, in Golaoka Vṛndāvana, Kṛṣṇa is contemplating that Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī’s happiness and Her love for Me is tens and millions of times greater than My happiness, although I am the source of all happiness and the supreme reservoir of all bliss. So I will descend with Her form and Her complexion to taste the nectar of Her love and to distribute it, as yuga-avatāra in this world.
So Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to Vṛndāvana and He was residing at Akrūra Ghāṭa. Everyday, He would come to Imli Tal which is then right on the banks of river Yamunā, and for hours and hours with his japa-mālā he would deeply absorb Himself in chanting the holy names. Imli Tal, then was a very secluded place in a dense forest. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu sat in that seclusion absorbed in His japa of chanting the Mahā-mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare / Hare Rāma Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma Hare Hare. In the mood of Śrī Rādhārāṇī He would become so deeply immersed in the ocean of separation from Śyāmasundara, that Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s illustrious, golden form would be transformed into the complexion of the dark, newly formed monsoon rain-cloud. That is Imli Tal.
Śrīla Prabhupāda would often visit Imli Tal. In fact Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and his followers purchased that land and built a beautiful Gauḍīya Maṭha there. One of Prabhupāda’s godbrother’s samādhi is there just beside the holy kalpavṛkṣa tree. And I remember, one of Prabhupāda’s very loving godbrothers, Kṛṣṇadāsa Bābāji Mahārāja, practically each and every Ekādaśī, he would come to Imli Tal under that tree. He would come around the time of sunset and he would sit and chant japa of the holy name until after sunrise. That was his Ekādaśī regulation. Very sacred? (10:40)holy place. And those who pray with pure, unalloyed devotional service will certainly attain it by the grace of this kalpavṛkṣa tree in due course of time.
The Supreme Love of the Gopīs for Kṛṣṇa
We are sitting in another very holy place which is glorified only within our Vaisnava scriptures – Śṛṅgāra Vaṭa. We read in the Tenth Canto, the words of Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī: that Kṛṣṇa played vaṁśi at the Vaṁśi-vaṭa on the bank of Yamunā, and the vraja-gopīs abandoned everything near and dear to them, with the exclusive purpose to satisfy Kṛṣṇa. They left the safety of their homes, their loving relatives, even their prestige within society. They didn’t even consider any relevance[??] when Kṛṣṇa was calling them. In fact Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu explained that when Kṛṣṇa played His flute, it was like a divine bird entering through the ears of the gopīs and making a nest so that nothing else could come in or out: captivated their hearts. Kṛṣṇa was like Hari – the supreme thief, and through the music of His flute, He stole the hearts of the gopīs. He plundered the treasure-house of their hearts and took everything away from them. And all that was left was their loving desire to please Him.
The sound of Kṛṣṇa’s flute was like a string, and they were like puppets, that brought them to Vamsivata. Kṛṣṇa tested their love, and sent them home, but they wept and pleaded that, “We have given our hearts, our lives, our everything to You.” So then Kṛṣṇa began to perform beautiful pastimes as rāsa-līlā with gopīs. Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī, She understood Kṛṣṇa’s heart, that ultimately He wanted to be with Her. So for Kṛṣṇa’s pleasure, She appeared to be disturbed that “why so many lesser realized gopīs are dancing with Kṛṣṇa?”, so she left the rāsa-līlā. Now it is explained that everyone of these gopīs is millions and millions of times more beautiful and loving than the Goddess of fortune. In fact all the Goddesses of fortune of all the Vaikuṇṭha planets are [??]… do not have the love of a single gopī.
Kṛṣṇa Disappears from Gopīs During Rāsa-Līlā
Kṛṣṇa was dancing amongst them, but when Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī departed, His heart became vacant of all pleasure. In this chapter of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, Sukadeva Gosvāmī reveals the supreme glory of Kṛṣṇa’s hlādini śakti – Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī. She left, so Kṛṣṇa suddenly disappeared from the whole assembly of gopīs in rāsa-līlā only to search for Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī. We have briefly explained one incident that took place at Imli Tal: Kṛṣṇa was searching and searching; Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī came to this place Śṛṅgāra Vaṭa, where She was sitting, waiting for Her beloved. Then Kṛṣṇa came here and met Her. With His own hands Kṛṣṇa picked the flowers that grew in the grove of this kuñja and personally decorated Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī’s hair. Thus this beautiful painting depicts this historical, treasurable and worshipable pastime. The Supreme Absolute Truth, The Cause of all causes, who appears in Vṛndāvana as a simple cowherd boy becomes like the servant to please Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa is conquered by the love of His devotee. So He was performing so many nice services, thus their hearts were so very satisfied.
But meanwhile the other gopīs in separation were searching everywhere; they were maddened. Completely, totally absorbed in Kṛṣṇa, they were chanting His names and performing His various pastimes. They were wandering through the groves asking trees and creepers, and the stars and the moon, and the animals of Vraja, “have you seen Govinda, the son of Nanda?”, and Kṛṣṇa heard them coming from this kunja that is Śṛṅgāra Vaṭa and He understood that He and Śrī Rādhārāṇī would be discovered. So He told Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī, “Let Us go! Let Us go!” She said, “I am too tired. I cannot walk. If You carry Me, I can go.” So Kṛṣṇa said, “Yes I will carry You”, and He bent down and for Her to get up on His shoulders, and just when She was about to get on His shoulders, Śyāmasundara disappeared… to leave Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī in an ocean of separation.
Kṛṣṇa Never Tolerates Pride in a Devotee’s Heart
Now we understand that Kṛṣṇa performed this disappearing līlā only to increase the lovely nature of this līlā, but, also on another level Kṛṣṇa wanted to teach that whoever a devotee is, if they have pride in their heart, He will disappear. The gopīs were all feeling so much pride that each one was thinking, “Kṛṣṇa is only with me.” They were proud of themselves, they were proud of their good fortune, but Kṛṣṇa left them because of that. And then Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī also thought, “Kṛṣṇa has left everyone also, for Me.” So Kṛṣṇa left Her. tṛṇādapi sunīcena tarorapi sahiṣṇunā amāninā māna dena kīrtanīya sadā hariḥ. From a level of instruction, the ācāryas teach us that Kṛṣṇa never tolerates pride in the heart of any devotee, whoever they may be. Of course in this instance that pride was completely pure and ecstatic, and Kṛṣṇa utilized this opportunity to make His pastimes more pleasing. So, that is Śrī Rādhā. It is a very, very holy, sacred place. And, since time immemorial, devotees have come to worship and to pray in this very confidential and sacred environment.
Balarāmaji and Śṛṅgāra Vaṭa
It was also, Śṛṅgāra Vaṭa, a very favourite place of Śrī Balarāmaji, because actually when Kṛṣṇa and the gopas were herding cows along Yamunā; Subala, Stoka-kṛṣṇa, Śrīdāmā, Madhumaṅgala, Arjuna, Ujjvala, Gandharvika, Gandharva, all of these gopas would bring Kṛṣṇa here and they would decorate His hair and His body with beautiful flowers and minerals and peacock feathers and like that… guñjā-mālā. This is where the cowherd boys would decorate Kṛṣṇa with the natural, beautiful ornaments of the forest and the place where Kṛṣṇa would decorate Śrīmati Rādhārāṇī.
Nityānanda Prabhu at Śṛṅgāra Vaṭa in the Mood of Balarāma
When Nityānanda Prabhu was living in Vṛndāvana, He travelled throughout the twelve forests and for some time He lived here. Bhakti-ratnakāra [??], Śrī Caitanya-bhāgavata explain that when Nityānanda Prabhu was living here at Nityānanda Vaṭa, which is another name for this place, He was in the mood of a cowherd boy, in the mood of Śrī Balarāmaji. He would bathe in Yamunā and play all little games in Yamunā with the cowherd boys who were residing here at that time, and He was in the mood of a small child. Although a great, great ācārya, he was in the mood of a child: splashing water and playing games just like a cowherd boy, in His mood of Balarāmaji. And sometimes in separation from Kṛṣṇa, He would cry and cry and cry, “Kanhaiyā! Kanhaiyā! Kanhaiyā!” And He would go to the vraja-vāsīs asking them, “Have you seen My brother? Have you seen Govinda?” And it was here at Nityānanda Vaṭa that Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu received the transcendental information that ‘Nimāi Paṇḍita had gone to Gaya?, taken dīkṣā from Īśvara Puri, and has returned to Navadvīpa dhāma and has established the hari-nāma saṅkīrtana movement and He is only waiting for You.’
Nityānanda Prabhu in Navadvīpa Dhāma
From here Nityānanda Prabhu departed from Vṛndāvana and went to Śrī Navadvīpa dhāma. He hid in the house of Nandan-ācārya. Lord Caitanya spoke to His devotees that he had a dream about a beautiful chariot that had the power to take one back to the spiritual world. He saw a beautiful personality with a complexion like that of a spring rain-cloud; beautiful, lotus eyes. He carried a plough on His shoulder; beautiful, blue turban and gown[??]. He had one beautiful ear-ring in His ear. He was intoxicated with ecstatic love, and He kept saying over and over again, “Is this the house of Nimāi Paṇḍita? Is this the house of Nimāi Paṇḍita!? Is this the house of Nimāi Paṇḍita!!?” And Lord Caitanya said, “I saw that great person in this dream! And I asked Him, ‘Who are You?’ And He said to Me, ‘I am Your brother, and tomorrow We will meet and get to know each other.’ I believe that this was Lord Balarāma Himself who has come” He sent Śrīvāsa Ṭhākura, Haridāsa Ṭhākura everywhere to search for Him, and they looked and looked and looked in every bathing ghāṭa, in every home, in every market-place. They came back and said, “We cannot find any person like this anywhere.”
Lord Caitanya’s First Meeting of Nityānanda Prabhu
Lord Caitanya said that, “Nityānanda Prabhu is very mysterious. He cannot be found easily.” And then, He got up and immediately walked with His devotees to the house of Nandan-ācārya. There He saw Nityānanda Prabhu standing on the verandah. Lord Caitanya personally offered His obeisances with all the devotees, and Nityānanda Prabhu fell unconscious in ecstasy upon seeing the Lord. It was a beautiful meeting. The ecstatic loving emotions of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda when They first met during Their earthly līlā is something that can never be understood except through Their causeless mercy.
Lord Nityānanda said, “I travelled to all the holy places but I saw that the deities were not in the temple. I asked ‘Where is Kṛṣṇa?’ Wherever I went they told me, ‘He is now in Navadvīpa doing his saṅkīrtana movement.’ So I have come here to Navadvīpa.” And it was then that Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu ordered Haridāsa Ṭhākura after performing His Vyāsa-pūjā of course, Haridāsa Ṭhākura and Nityānanda Prabhu to appeal to everyone whoever they may be, and beg them for this charity, “Chant Kṛṣṇa’s names, worship Kṛṣṇa, hear about Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is your mother, Kṛṣṇa is your father, Kṛṣṇa is the treasure of your life. Kṛṣṇa is your very life and soul.” And Nityānanda Prabhu carried this message wherever He went, and exclaimed anyone who chants the holy names of Kṛṣṇa, anyone who worships My Gaurāṅga in this way, becomes my life and soul.
So here at Śṛṅgāra Vaṭa, also known as Nityānanda Vaṭa, we have come by the causeless mercy of Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu’s beloved representative – Śrīla Prabhupāda. We have come in the assembly of so many enthusiastic and effulgent Vaiṣṇavas. Let us offer our sincere gratitude and respects[??]. parama koruṇā pahu dui jane, nitāi gauracandra – Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityānanda are supremely kind. Why? kevala ānanda-kanda, bhajo bhajo bhai, caitanya-nitāi. Locana dāsa Ṭhākura says, “Just worship these brothers – Nityānanda and Lord Caitanya. They are the essence of all avatāras, and most merciful. They have come to give the supreme treasure of the love of Śrī Vṛndāvana dhāma. They made it available to everyone through nāma saṅkīrtana – the chanting of the holy names, Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare / Hare Rāma Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma Hare Hare.
Kṛṣṇa Steals the Gopīs’ Clothes at Chir-ghāṭa
Let us sincerely pray that we could make as our ultimate aspiration in life, to be an instrument of Nityānanda Prabhu’s causeless mercy in this world, in the spirit of the servant of the servant of His loving servants. From here we will go to Chir-ghāṭa, there are two Chir-ghāṭas in Vraja-bhumi: one which is further away from Yamunā, which is the place where gopis performed their Katyayani puja, and Kṛṣṇa, to fulfill their desires to have Him as husband, very mercifully stole their clothes, and brought them upon a very holy Kadamba tree. Here in Vṛndāvana, during rāsa-līlā, during bathing in Yamuna, Kṛṣṇa also stole gopis’ clothes, and performed the same type of līlā there. And devotees of Vṛndāvana, they worship this tree and even make offerings to this tree. Because, as long as we are attached to the clothes of the gross outer covering of our subtle and gross bodies, we cannot really give Kṛṣṇa pleasure. The soul must be purified of all gross and subtle desires.
The devotees at Chir-ghāṭa, they pray, “Kṛṣṇa, please, here I offer my life, I offer my false ego, [??] everything. I take it all away, so that my true self can be given as an offering at your lotus feet. So at Chir-ghāṭa, we may not have things to offer on strings, like the Vraja-vāsīs do, but in our prayer, we pray to be relieved of our false ego, so that we could offer Kṛṣṇa our very lives, our minds, our bodies, our words [??]. That is true perfection, and under that holy kalpavṛkṣa tree, our prayers will be heard and answered, if offered sincerely.
From there, Chir-ghāṭa, we will proceed to Keśī ghāṭa, where we’ll have a short narration about the significance of that place. when we will cross the Yamuna on boats, and take holy bath to purify our hearts. Thank you very much. Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu ki jaya! jaya jaya Śrī Rādhe… … Śyāma. jaya jaya Śrī Rādhe… … Śyāma. Louder, please. jaya jaya Śrī Rādhe… … Śyāma. (jaya jaya Śrī Rādhe… … Śyāma.) What is the use of there being two thousand of you, if you can’t chant loudly? jaya jaya Śrī Rādhe… … Śyāma.