Friday, November 7, 2008

India Journal, Part 5

Vrindavan is crowded during Kartik. Sometimes the traffic near Krishna Balarama Mandir or further down the main road creates gridlock. All it takes is one or two buses or tempos to stop in the middle of the road. The "shortcut" to Loi Bazaar is via the Bengali neighborhood where the Madan Mohan temple is located. That area is especially historic. The hill on which the original Madan Mohan temple was built is Dwadash Aditya Teela, the place where Lord Krishna rested and warmed up under 12 suns after dancing on Kaliya's heads.

I heard that there were three reasons why Krishna spared the life of Kaliya. First, although he had no interest in bhakti, he permitted his wives, who were devotees, to continue their devotional activities and to see Krishna's pastimes on the banks of the Yamuna. Second, those vaisnavi wives prayed on Kaliya's behalf to Krishna. When Krishna was defeating Kaliya, the wives were at first indifferent to his fate. But when Kaliya realized he was going to die, he repented and it was then that his wives felt compassion for him and asked Krishna to protect him. Finally, once Kaliya had eaten another snake that had been intended as a sacrifice for Garuda. Garuda become angry at this, and brushed Kaliya with his wings, which caused Kaliya to be thrown back. Because of that passing contact with Garuda, Kaliya was purified, and had become eligible for further mercy from the Lord. These things were told to me by Manjari, my former wife, during this visit to Vrindavan. I don't have any sastric reference.

Back on the hill where Madan Mohan mandir is located, the view of the Yamuna in the distance is very nice. Fields of yellow mustard dot the flood plain. Green parrots can be seen flying from treetop to treetop. Next to the old temple is the bhajan kutir where Srila Sanatan Goswami did his bhajan. I also heard that our Srila Prabhupada, when he was a young householder, spent one week here, during his first visit to Vrindavan, doing his own kirtan. This was a few years before he took initiation from his guru maharaj, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Thakur.

Down from the hill and old temple that was later desecrated by soldiers of Arungzeb, a few meters around a back lane is the entrance to Srila Sanatan Goswami's samadhi. Sanatan was much loved by the local Brijbasis as a baba, and at times he would wander from village to village and the villagers would treat him as a family member. He would enter a village and spend only one nite, listening to the everyday problems of the villagers and offering them advice. The next morning they would beg him to stay for at least one more day, but he would move on to the next village. When Sanatan Goswami left his body, many of the Brijbasi men who heard about his passing shaved their heads, as they did when their own fathers died.

It's here in this garden-like setting where Rupa Goswami, Sanatan's younger brother, who accepted Sanatan as his guru, put him in samadhi. Sanatan Goswami helps us to establish our eternal relationship (sambandha) with Krishna. He is the senior of the Six Goswamis whom were sent to excavate Vrindavan and reestablish it as the earthly counterpart to Goloka Vrindavan by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

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