Mathura-mandala Parikrama, Part 9

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BY: SUN STAFF - 19.2 2021

Ghats on the River Jumna, Mathura
William Simpson, c. 1865

By Srila Narahari Chakravarti Thakur.

The Good Fortune of the Brahmana Devotee of Baladeva Who Lived at Govardhana

O Shrinivasa, there was a rich brahmana everyone knew who lived near Govardhana. He was always overwhelmed in love for Balarama, and his mind was always absorbed in thoughts of His character. He was certain that one day Baladeva would kindly grant him darshana, and for that reason he always wandered around Govardhana.

One cannot describe the fortune of that brahmana who one day received information that Baladeva would grant him darshana. In order to fulfill this devotee's desire, Nityananda Rama at that time went to Govardhana on pilgrimage. Nityananda remained in a lonely place, but whoever saw Him was bewildered by His celestial body, which bewilders even Cupid.

When that brahmana saw Nityananda Prabhu in the distance, he wondered where this avadhuta had come from. Seeing the Lord's effulgence, he could understand that the Lord was not an ordinary person. The brahmana brought various items like yogurt, milk, cheese, and butter. He came before Nityananda, offered obeisances, and said, 'O Avadhuta, please accept these gifts. I pray that you please show Your mercy to me so I may have darshana of Rohini-nandana.'

Hearing these words, Nityananda smiled and in great fun accepted the offerings made by the brahmana. The brahmana then received the Lord's remnants and returned to his own place, where he honored the maha-prasada and became agitated in love.

The brahmana was unable to return to meet Nityananda, and as evening arrived he fell asleep. At night, Lord Nityananda appeared to that fortunate brahmana in a dream. Seeing Nityananda, the brahmana was very pleased. The next moment Nityananda revealed His form as Baladeva, and the brahmana fell at His feet.

What a wonderful form Baladeva exhibited—enchanting to the entire world! His limbs were glittering, being decorated with various ornaments. After blessing the brahmana, the Lord disappeared. On the Lord's disappearance, the brahmana's sleep broke. He became restless and started to return to where he had met Nityananda Prabhu. At that moment he heard a voice telling him to remain patient and wait till the morning. He considered that his desire was at last fulfilled. 'Now I have achieved the Lord, I will not leave Him. I will fall down and surrender everything at His feet. When the night is over I will have a goldsmith make ornaments to offer to the Lord.' As he thought in this way sleep again came.

Again in the brahmana's dream Nityananda appeared to him. Seeing the Lord decorated in wonderful ornaments, that best of the brahmanas offered many prayers. As before, upon the disappearance of the Lord, the brahmana's sleep broke.

Morning soon came and the brahmana came before Nityananda Prabhu and explained the previous nights dream. The Lord smiled slightly and holding the brahmana's hand instructed the brahmana in all truths. The brahmana inquired from the Lord, 'Who has made those ornaments I saw in my dream?' The Lord, who is controlled by His devotees' desires, replied, 'One day I will be decorated as you have seen. For now take this govardhana-shila and cover it in gold. I will then wear it on My neck.'

The brahmana executed the order as given by the Lord. The best of the avadhutas then took the shila and wore it on His neck. Even for Lord Brahma, such pastimes are very rare. Nityananda forbid the brahmana to disclose this incident to anyone. However, out of His affection to His devotee, the Lord remained there for some days. This rare affection can be had by simply seeing this place."

Sanatana Gosvami's Residence at Cakra-tirtha

O Shrinivasa, see Cakra-tirtha, which can fulfill one's desires. In Govardhana, Cakra-tirtha is very famous. Radha and Krishna performed Their swing pastimes here."

In the Vraja-vilasa-stava it is described: "Sankarshana-kunda, Brahma-kunda, Kadamba-khandi, Kusuma-sarovara, Rudra-kunda, Apsara-kunda, Gauri-tirtha, Candra-sarovara, the two anpapa-mocana-kundas, Malyahara-kunda, Arishta-kunda, and Indra-dhvaja-bedi are splendidly manifested along with many other famous holy sites such as Cakra-tirtha, Govardhana Hill, and Ratna-simhasana. Let me offer my obeisances to these places.

During the spring season the gopis move Shri Shri Gandharva-Giridhari on a swing. The faces of the divine couple blossom with happiness by tasting the nectar of these swing pastimes. I worship Govinda-sthala, the famous place where the divine couple enjoys these pastimes."

O Shrinivasa, by the order of Cakra-tirtha, Sanatana Gosvami resided at this place. See his cottage in the forest. Everyday with determination he would perform the twelve krosha [twenty-four mile] parikrama of Govardhana Hill.

Seeing the difficulty taken by Sanatana in his old age, Gopinatha appeared before him in the form of a cowherd boy. Sanatana, with tearful eyes, tried to conceal his fatigued condition from the boy. Gopinatha sweetly spoke to Sanatana, 'In this old age you should not take so much endeavor. Dear Svamiji, please follow My advice.' Sanatana replied, 'Whatever You say I will certainly follow.' Then the cowherd boy climbed Govardhana and brought one shila marked with His own footprint. In sweet words He requested Sanatana to accept the govardhana-shila marked with the footprint of Lord Krishna. 'From today just circumambulate this shila and thus your vow of daily parikrama will be fulfilled.' Saying this He gave the shila to Sanatana in his cottage and disappeared.

Sanatana became very anxious on not seeing the boy. Seeing Sanatana's condition Gopinatha affectionately revealed His identity. Wet with his own tears, Sanatana then repented why he did not recognize his Lord. In this way Sanatana remained under the influence of intense love for Shri Vrajendra-kumara, who sports in the flower groves of the Vrindavana forest.

Also at this place Shrimati Radhika along with Her sakhis came and, taking the boat, She crossed Manasa-ganga from this ghata. In this way the desires of all the gopis headed by Lalita were satisfied by Shrimati Radharani."

It is stated in Shri Stavavali, Shri Govardhana-ashrayadashaka: "Who will not take shelter of Govardhana Hill, where the divine couple enjoy Their boating pastimes in the Manasa-ganga? In the Manasa-ganga, Madhava, taking the role of a boatman, took the sweetly beautiful Radha on His boat. At that time, Radha became frightened by a great storm and prayed to Krishna to rescue Her, to which Krishna agreed, only after claiming the fee of the fulfillment of His amorous desires."

This is Sonkrai-grama, a most fascinating village where the sakhis made Krishna take a vow. After taking the vow, Krishna told again and again that without Shrimati Radhika He didn't know anything. And this, O Shrinivasa, is Sakhisthali-grama where Candravali stays. It is also called Sakhikhara. Uddhava sat at this place and told the gopis about Krishna's activities in Dvaraka. At this place near Govardhana Hill, Krishna in great fun played different pastimes with the cowherd boys. Just see, the two brothers Rama and Krishna sat here surrounded by Their friends."

After speaking these words, Raghava Pandita, in a jubilant state of mind, took Shrinivasa and Narottama with him to the bank of Radha-kunda. After taking bath, Raghava declared that Govinda-ghata is very dear to Lord Govinda.

The Amazing Vision of Sanatana Gosvami at Govinda-ghata

O Shrinivasa, now I will narrate the wonderful pastime that took place under this tree. One day Sanatana Gosvami came here from Govardhana to see Rupa and Raghunatha Gosvamis. Shrila Rupa Gosvami was composing a verse comparing the braided hair of Radharani to the hood of a black snake. When Sanatana Gosvami read his composition he inquired whether the comparison was proper or not. After expressing his doubt like this, he went for bath in the kunda. At that time Sanatana saw some girls playing under a tree nearby. Seeing the hair of one girl, he thought it was a snake climbing her back. In astonishment he cried out and tried to warn the unsuspecting girl. The girls, on seeing Sanatana's anxiety, smiled and then disappeared. Sanatana was overwhelmed from the incident. When he regained his composure he returned to Rupa Gosvami and exclaimed, 'Whatever you have written is perfectly correct!' In this way Rupa Gosvami understood the heart of Sanatana. Feeling great ecstasy in his mind, Sanatana then returned to Govardhana."