Dhanurdhara Swami October 27th, 2002
Vrindaban Mysteries I
When Ravindra Svarupa Prabhu was here two years ago he commented with a twist of irony, “We need a group of devotees who do nothing!” I surmise he was appreciating the idea that, in order to give spiritual strength and credibility to ISKCON, devotees are needed to focus exclusively on their spiritual practices–at least for some time of the year. That’s what’s happening here.
Of course, sadhana-bhakti can be hard work, but it is internal work. Because not much happens externally while chanting, and because what happens internally is not always relevant for the public, I became concerned over whether or not I could make the journal enlivening for the devotees this month–or whether or not it should continue during Kartik. Subtly, I think I wished for some action.
I was in Vrindaban this morning in order to, among other things, meet a friend who was coming in for only one day. This would quite possibly be my only trip outside of Govardhan this month. When I arrived at my friend’s house, I was informed that he was delayed for several hours. I thus walked over to the temple to wait and chant at Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi. As I was approaching the temple gate Indradyumna Swami, who was also in Vrindaban only for the day, was mounting a bicycle rikshaw with his servant. I greeted him and he excitedly responded:
“I just found out that it’s the disappearance of Narottama dasa Thakur! We’re going to the Brij Mohan Mandir to see his original deities from Kheturi. Please come.”
He then explained a little bit about those deities:
“After Lord Caitanya left this world, Srila Narottama dasa Thakur organized the original Gaura Purnima festival at Kheturi in West Bengal. His aim was to solidify Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission. With this in mind, he made several sets of deities to distribute to various centers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism around India. After the Kheturi festival, Narottama dasa sent Sri Sri Radha-Brij Mohan along with Their paraphernalia by boat to a Gaudiya Vaishnava from Vrindaban who had agreed to worship Them and had perhaps even attended the Kheturi festival.”
I won’t elaborate on today’s adventure in depth since Indradyumna Swami will most likely describe the day in detail in his own journal, but I will relate something about our interesting and fateful visit to Sri Sri Radha-Brij Mohan.
I immediately agreed to Maharaja’s offer and left with him and three of his disciples. Brij Mohan is on the far side of Vrindaban past the famous South Indian Rangaji Mandir. It’s the quiet, old, and relatively clean Vrindaban; not the more modern and touristy Vrindaban that has built up around our temple. I haven’t been there in a while and I forgot how nice it was.
Brij Mohan is a small, quaint temple with an open courtyard, renovated with funds from Indradyumna Swami. It is managed by a cultured and pure-hearted young pujari and a small congregation of simple and pious Bengali Vaishnavas. Our program was also quite simple: darshan (seeing the Deities), kirtan (je anilo prema dhana), reading from Narottama dasa Thakur’s “Prema-Bhakti Candrika,” and short comments on its verses from Maharaja and myself.
In the middle of our readings Indradyumna Swami asked the pujari if he could show me the plate of Govardhan and Salagram silas (sacred stones) worshiped by Narottama dasa Thakur. This led the pujari to take Maharaja on a tour of the temple compound.
The Govardhan silas were not like any I have ever seen. They were so shiny that even Maharaja was sure that they had been waxed. They weren’t. It was just the effect of being massaged with high quality oil and bathed with scented water daily for over 500 years!
I sat in the courtyard chanting, and after some time, I went to search for Maharaja and the pujari. I found Maharaja with his disciple Douji Krishna (the 16 year-old daughter of my Godsister Daivi-Sakti) and the pujari all sitting in a small empty room to the left of the altar. The pujari was kneeling and holding the plate of silas in front of Maharaja. Maharaja was sitting in front of him looking at the plate tilted toward him. Douji Krishna sat between the pujari and Maharaja, translating their discussion. By the time I got there, Maharaja had evidently asked for one of Narottama’s silas and the pujari had agreed! Now, Maharaja was facing the fortunate dilemma of choosing which one to take. Maharaja just couldn’t decide and after asking for our opinions, narrowed his choice to two. Finally, he asked for both! Surprisingly, the humble pujari was quite accommodating and smiled in agreement by jerking his head slightly to the left. Maharaja took two small matching silas, each about one-inch square, to be his own main Deities. They will be worshiped as Sri Sri Radha-Brij Mohan.
I had a subtle desire this morning to have some drama to write about. It was a wonderful morning at the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha-Brij Mohan, the Deities of Narottama dasa Thakur, on the auspicious day of his disappearance.
After leaving Sri Sri Brij Mohan Mandir, I quickly returned to Govardhan, where I looked forward to another day of chanting and reading in my room. Giriraja fulfills all desires.