Vrindavan, the playground of love and devotion
written by Shashank Jaitely
We know Vrindavan as a place where Krishna – the eternal lover, teacher, protector, friend, guide , the poorna purshotam (the best amongst the best) – spent his childhood. This is the place where love and devotion get a new meaning. In the Brahmanda Purana it is said that all the results of traveling on all the pilgrimages within the three worlds can be achieved simply by touching the holy land of Vrindavan!
My last visit to Vrindavan was unforgettable. I had shared my experience in the group when divinity in the form of our master Mohanji had helped me get the divine glimpse of the deity (http://mohanjichronicles.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/radhe-radhe/) . My second visit was no less profound. It just proves that Krishna (also known as MOHAN ) lives there, still. One just has to be open to receive his grace.
My father wanted to visit Vrindavan to re-live the moments his father had spent there. My grandfather was a freedom fighter and was based in East Panjab (now called Pakistan). He had moved to Vrindavan in the veil of a monk to escape the clutches of Britishers. He was a staunch Shivaite but in a few months his reason of stay changed. He fell in love with Krishna consciousness and become a devotee. He read Bhagwat and started conduction satsangs on Bhagwat teachings. People used to call him “Goswamiji”, or the learned one. My grandfather stayed there for six months but had to return back to fulfill his family duties. But those six months were transformational for him. He yearned to go back, but because of ill-health and political scenario of the country at that time, he could not visit it again. He kept his memories fresh by narrating the stories to my father, who was very young at that time. My father, in spite of being a journalist, never got the opportunity to visit this holy place. This visit was destined now and he was looking forward to re-live the moments.
I also wanted to go back to Vrindavan and it was the right time. The month of saawan (autumn) is very auspicious and Banke Bihari ji (the eligible bachelor form of Krishna) comes out of the sanctum sanctorum for the evening aarties for everyone to see and enjoy. This is also the month when the crowd at the town is at the peak. I had a bit of apprehension as I was taking my 81-year-old father and 7-year-old son. Two people who would need individual attention, considering the crowd and atmosphere. I had some hope of help as one of the priests of the temple was known to me. But when I called to check, he was out-of-town. But this did not deter me and I carried on with my plans. I was confident that divine will manage everything.
When I reached temple, it had closed for the afternoon and we had a few hours to ourselves before the evening darshan. When I was standing there wondering what to do next, a priest came out of the main temple, held my father’s hand and said, “I have been waiting for you”. I had a flash of thoughts that he could be a thug. But he came out of the door which was meant only for the temple priests. When I enquired, he told me that he was one of the priests at the temple. When I asked whether he knew of our arrival, he said, “sab Banke Bihari ki kripa hai” (all because of Banke Bihariji). I still wanted to be sure of the person, so I called the priest I know and enquired. He did confirm that he is a priest and his name is Ramji. But the question still remained, how did he know that we were coming as no one had told him about our arrival?
Accepting the fact that these things happen at such divine places and the “why” has no significance, I carried on. Ramji told us that we had four hours of wait before the temple would open for evening. I wondered what to do till then? How would I manage my old father and child who have totally different needs at any given time? As if Ramji read my mind. He said, “Don’t worry, I will arrange everything and till you are here, you are my guest”. And he added, “You focus on your son, leave your father to me. I am there for him and will take care”. Before I could say something, my father, who usually doesn’t trust strangers so quickly, gave his hand to Ramji and started walking. When I asked him later how he could trust Ramji at the first instant, my father said that there was something in that priest that made him trustworthy.
Ramji took us to an eating place and after our refreshment, explained the whole itinerary to us which included Nidhivan, Yamuna ghat, Radha Vallabh Temple, Jai Singh Ghera ashram, etc. These were exactly the same places my grandfather had spoken to my father about! My father was utterly surprised and told Ramji that he was a mind reader!
Ramji did not leave my father’s hand, not even for a single moment. He helped him through the crowds, through the narrow lanes, complex stairs etc. My father also never looked back at me for anything. He had totally forgotten that I was also with him . And I got ample time to manage my kid.
He took us through all the places with a lot of love and care, explaining the significance of everything to my father. I trudged along trying to catch up. I was happy that my father was enjoying and relishing every moment of it. This was the moment that he has been longing for years.
After the tour of the city, it was the time to visit Banke Bihari ji. Ramji asked us to wait in the rest room as he advised us to wait till the crowd disperses. But my father was eager to visit as soon as possible. Ramji agreed and ushered us inside the temple. It was packed and crowd was just growing. My father was overwhelmed and so was my son. But Ramji told us to chant Radhe radhe and keep moving. Everyone in the temple was chanting and they soon reached the crescendo. Ramji helped us wade through the crowd and took us right in front of the idol. It was mesmerizing. From that moment, everything was like a dream, a deep state of trance. Everything was still. Nothing existed. It was only Bankeji and us. We felt that we would have spent hours there, drowned in the hypnotic eyes of Bihariji and in reality we were there only for few seconds.
Suddenly we were woken from the dream by a guard who urged us to move forward. Ramji who was now standing next to the idol, asked us to come closer. He applied sandalwood paste on forehead of my father and son. The moment he applied the paste on my forehead and put his thumb on my third eye to apply kumkum, I had I had déjà vu moment, a vivid repeat of the experience that I had the last time. I strongly felt Mohanji’s thumb on my forehead, giving the third eye shaktipat. I closed my eyes and thanked from bottom of my heart. I felt burning sensation on forehead as if my third eye was on fire! The sensation was so strong that I could not open my eyes for a while. I could not decipher what it was. Various thoughts came in mind including allergic reaction to kum-kum! The sensation remained as we walked out the temple. All three of us were quiet. We wanted to be in silence. My son, who is otherwise playful and full of energy, walked quietly with a blissful smile on his face.
We did not see Ramji after that. I waited outside the temple for a few minutes for him to come out but I saw he was busy attending to other devotees. I thanked him from my innermost heart and with tears in my eyes bid adieu to him. My father was convinced that he was a messenger of God and his father had sent him. He had a feeling of extreme gratitude.
With the burning sensation still on my forehead, we planned to leave Vrindavan. As we walked towards the car park, my son suddenly turned towards me and said that there was something on my forehead. I got worried that there might be something to do with the burning sensation. My son picked up my phone and clicked the picture of my forehead and showed it to me. The moment I saw the picture, understood the burning sensation. The picture is here to see, needs no explanation. The shivalinga and the snake around it is vivid. One can decipher the various images. It is like a stamp. A reminiscent of the Shaktipat I received inside the temple. The moment turned up like the sequel to my earlier visit. The experience of divinity was vivid and real!
Nothing but gratitude. <3