Dhanurdhara Swami January 28th, 2001
Finish the parikrama of the seven major temples by visiting Radha-Damodar, Radha-Shyamasundar, and Madan Mohan. We also visit Banke-Bihari Mandir. I purposely save the temple of Banke-Bihari for near the end of our parikrama. It’s the most popular Deity in Vrindaban, in the middle of the city, and always mobbed with pilgrims, inside and outside, of the temple. We can’t do kirtan there, and there is no quiet place in or around the temple to sit and hear about Krishna, so I doubt how much the new devotees can get from the visit, although the spontaneous devotion of the pilgrims leaves a strong impression on us about the spirit of vraja-bhakti.
The deity of Banke-Bihari is mystically tucked away twenty feet at the back of a six-foot high platform that is gated in the front from the public. His pujaris unusually close the deity curtains for a moment every minute. This is done, local lore tells us, to prevent Banke-Bihari from leaving the altar. If the Deity sees His loving devotees for concentrated periods of time, His attachment for them will be overwhelming, and He will leave the temple in search of them, as has happened, it is told, many times in the past.
Navigating through the immense crowds pushing to see Banke-Bihari can be daunting for a newcomer, although a few of the men on our party (of moshpit experience) seem to be entertained by the jostling near the altar, as the pilgrims eagerly position themselves for a good look at their Lord.
We end today’s parikrama at the samadhi of Sanatana Gosvami. His sacred tomb is a magic place of peacefulness, a uniquely secluded walled area on a plateau on the hill of the Madan Mohan Deity. In contrast to Banke-Bihari, it is an oasis of calm where?without inhibition?we sing the glories of the Six Gosvamis and hear about Sri Sanatana Gosvami.