Viharvan

Viharvan / बिहारवन

Viharvan lies one-and-a-half miles south-west of Ram-Ghat. Darshan of the Bihariji Temple and Vihar-kund is recommended. Braj-bihari Krishna together with Radhika and the gopis performed rasa and other kinds of amorous pastimes at this charming place near Yamuna. Although most of the forests of Braj have been cut down, Viharvan remains somewhat protected. Even today, cuckoos sing and thousands of peacocks make their ke-ka sound here, and during the rainy season they dance and drop their feathers. There are many beautiful kunjas, kadamb groves and many kinds of creepers here. When one visits this place, sweet remembrances of Krishna's pastimes will manifest in one's heart. In the cowshed here, the very beautiful cows, jumping calves and intoxicated looking bulls awaken sweet memories of Shri Krishna's cow grazing pastimes.

Akshayavat

Akshayavat is also called Bhandirvat, and is situated two miles south of Rama-ghat. Shri Krishna, Balram and the sakhas played many games in the shade of this banyan (vata) tree. They especially liked to wrestle here. Baldev killed Pralambasur at Akshayavat.
Story
Once during cow herding, Shri Krishna and Balram left the cows to graze in the lush, green fields and went off to play with the sakhas. They divided themselves into two groups, one headed by Krishna and the other headed by Baldev. The game they played had a rule that each boy in the group that lost had to carry the boy who had defeated him on his shoulders from Bhandirvat to a fixed place some distance away and then back again. Pralambasura, a demon sent by Kansa, assumed the form of a beautiful sakha and joined Krishna's team. Krishna knowingly encouraged the new sakha to play and kept him on His team. Shri Krishna was defeated by Shridham and Pralambasura by Balram. According to the rules, Shridham sat on Shri Krishna's shoulders and Balram on Pralambasura's. Krishna made His way towards the appointed place, but the wicked Pralambasura ran instead to a place that was deep and isolated. After some time he assumed his hideous demon form. Kansa had instructed him to kill Baldev before killing Krishna. At first, Baldev Prabhu was uncertain about what to do but, upon receiving a clue from Krishna, He split the head of the demon with one blow of His fist. Pralambasura vomited blood and collapsed to the earth. When Krishna and the sakhas arrived there, they embraced Balram and praised His strength and fortitude.
Story-2
The following pastime also took place at Akshayavat. One day, Radhika, the sakhis and Shri Krishna were playing together here. The sakhis said to Krishna, “Pran-Vallabh, You always boast that You have defeated even expert wrestlers. But why is it that Shridham defeated You.” Shri Krishna answered, "That is entirely untrue. No one in the whole universe can defeat Me. I have never been defeated by Shridham." Radhika replied, "If that is so, then we gopis are ready to wrestle with You. If You defeat us, then we will understand that You are the topmost wrestler." The gopis dressed themselves as wrestlers and Radhika wrestled with Krishna, easily defeating Him. The sakhis clapped their hands and praised Her. Since Shri Krishna and the sakhas wrestled and performed physical exercise here, the village near Akshayavat is called Kasrata. The word kasrata means kasrat karna, or "to perform physical exercise". It also means kusti karna, or "to wrestle". When the ancient banyan tree that stood here disappeared, a new one was planted in its place. Note that the Bhandirvat situated in Bhandirvan is a different pastime place on the other side of the Yamuna.

Agiyara Gaon

The village of Agiyara is situated two miles south-west of the village of Kasrata. It is located in the middle of Munjatavi, where Krishna used to take the cows to pasture.
Story
Once, Krishna was playing with the sakhas in the shade of Bhandirvat. Nearby, the cows drank water from the Yamuna and began to graze on the lush, green grass in the fields. In doing so, they gradually wandered off to Munjatavi some distance away. It was a summer day, and the scorching heat was drying up the munja [1] plants and baking the sand on the ground. The cows had roamed off without Krishna, and they now entered this munja forest, which was devoid of water and shade. This Munjatavi was so dense that they lost track of the path by which they had come. Overwhelmed with thirst and heat, the cows became restless. In their search for the cows, the sakhas had also left Krishna and Balram and, entering Munjatavi, they too became agitated by thirst and heat. It was then that the followers of the wicked Kansa set Munjavan on fire. Within a moment, the wind had spread the fire everywhere, so that it surrounded the cows and the cowherd boys. Seeing no other means of escape, they began to cry out to Krishna and Baldev who heard their call and immediately went to them. "Close your eyes for just a moment," Krishna told them, and in that moment He swallowed the terrible forest fire. Upon opening their eyes, the sakhas saw that they were now standing with Krishna and Baldev in the cooling shade of Bhandirvat, the cows peacefully lying nearby chewing their cud. The jiva suffering in the forest fire of material existence can similarly be easily delivered from this suffering simply by taking shelter of Krishna. Another name for Munjatavi is Isikatavi. On the other side of the Yamuna is the village of Bhandir.

Tapovan

Tapovan is situated on the bank of the Yamuna one mile east of Akshayavat. Here, the young gopis prayed for the fulfilment of their desire to have Shri Krishna as their husband. It is said that in their previous birth, these gopis were the sages in the forest of Dandakaranya who were absorbed in austerities with the desire to attain Shri Krishna. By the mercy of Shri Ramchandra, in Dvapar Yug they took birth from the womb of gopis. The princesses of Janakpuri are also counted in this group. Like Sita, they had wanted to marry Shri Ramchandra, and therefore, by His mercy, they took birth as gopis in Braj at the end of Dvapar-Yug. This Tapovan is where these young gopis performed worship to attain Shri Krishna. Lalita, Vishakha and other eternally liberated gopis are direct bodily expansions (kaya-vyuha) of Radhika, Shri Krishna's internal energy; therefore, there is no need for them to perform any austerity.

Gopi-Ghat

This place is called Gopi-ghat because here the afore-mentioned gopis used to bathe in the Yamuna.

Chir-Ghat

This pastime place lies two miles west of Akshayavat. The young gopis had worshipped Katyayani-devi regularly for one month, observing all the vows to attain Shri Krishna as their husband.[2]

At the end of their vow, Shri Krishna, along with some priyanarma-sakhas stole the gopis clothes and gave them the benediction that their desire would be fulfilled. The temple of Katyayani-devi is situated here on the bank of the Yamuna. The present name of this village is Siyaro.

Nand Ghat

Nand Ghat is situated two miles south of Gopi Ghat and one mile south-east of Akshayavat.
Story
Once, Maharaj Nand performed an Ekadashi-vrat and took his bath here on Dvadashi night. This was an inauspicious time to bathe, and therefore the servants of Varun captured him and brought him before their master. News of Maharaja Nand's disappearance in the Yamuna so distressed the Brajvasis that, upon seeing their crying, Shri Krishna and Balram went to Varunlok to look for him. When Varundev saw Krishna before him, he offered prayers to Krishna and glorified Him. He then presented Him with gifts of various ornaments made of pearls, jewels and precious stones. He begged Krishna to forgive him for arresting Nand Baba. When Shri Krishna returned with His father, they met again with the Brajvasis at this place.
Story-2
Once, in a discussion on the scriptures, Jiv Goswami defeated a digvijayi pandit, a scholar who is victorious in debate all over the world. This scholar had wanted to edit the writings of Shri Rup Goswami, but the young Jiv Goswami was unable to tolerate this and defeated him at the Yamuna in Vrindavan. The scholar then approached Shri Rup Goswami to find out who this boy was, greatly praising the boy's erudition. With great humility, Shri Rup Goswami said, "He is my brother's son as well as my disciple." Understanding that Jiv had debated with the scholar, Shri Rup Goswami addressed Jiv as soon as the scholar had gone: "Jiv, could you not even tolerate an event as insignificant as this? Since you desire prestige, please leave this place at once." Dejected upon hearing the harsh disciplinary words of Shri Rup Goswami, Jiv Goswami left Vrindavan for Nand-ghat. There, on the bank of the Yamuna, in a dense and desolate forest, he lived in a crocodile hole. He maintained his life here somehow or other with great difficulty. Feeling intense separation from his Gurudev, sometimes he would drink flour mixed with water, and sometimes he would just fast. His body gradually dried up and became very thin. At that time, on the pretext of performing parikrama of Braj, Shri Sanatan Goswami came to Nand-ghat. He heard from the mouths of the Brajvasis the abundant glories of the young Bengali sadhu and his severe austerities. He went to Jiv Goswami, consoled him, and took him back to Vrindavan. Shri Sanatan Goswami then went alone to meet with Rup Goswami, leaving Jiv in his bhajan-kuti. At that time, Shri Rup Goswami was speaking to a group of Vaisnavas about bestowing mercy upon the Jivs. Midway through this discussion, Shri Sanatan Goswami asked, "You are instructing others to show mercy to the Jivs, but why are you not showing mercy to Jiv himself?" Shri Rup Goswami understood the hidden meaning behind the enigmatic words of his elder brother and spiritual master, and called for Shri Jiv. He saw to it that Jiv received medical care and engaged him in his service once again. It was while he was living at Nand-ghat that Shri Jiv Goswami composed his famous work known as the Sad-sandarbhas. Even today, the place where Jiv Goswami lived is known as Jiv Goswami's cave.

Bhaiya (Bhaya-Gaon)

Seeing the servants of Varun, Shri Nand Maharaj became fearful (bhaya-bhita). In memory of this, Vajranabh named this village Bhaya-gaon. This village lies close to Nand Ghat.

Gangrali

Gangrali is situated two miles south and slightly east of Chirghat. It also lies two miles north of Bhaya-gaon.

Vatsavan (Basai-Gaon)

Vatsavan lies four miles south-west of Nand-ghat. Because Brahma stole the cows and cowherd boys here, it is known as Vatsavan or Bachchhavan. The names of this place derive from the words vatsa and bachhda, which both mean "calf". The present name of the village is Basai-gaon. Places of darshan here are the temple of Shri Vatsa-bihariji, the place of Gvala Mandali, Gvala-kund, Haribol-tirth and Shri Vallabhacharya's sitting-place (baithaka).
Story
Once, while Shri Krishna and the cowherd boys were grazing the calves on the bank of the Yamuna the calves came to this forest. Krishna and the sakhas played all kinds of games in the soft sand of the Yamuna. Four-headed Brahma had been astonished to see Aghasur's soul enter Krishna's lotus feet and become liberated. Desiring to see more of Bhagvan Shri Krishna's sweet pastimes, he stole the calves when they entered this forest and hid them in a cave. Krishna and the cowherd boys became filled with anxiety upon noticing that the calves were nowhere to be seen. Leaving the sakhas here, Krishna went out alone to search for the calves. Unable to find them, He returned to the bank of the Yamuna where He had left his sakhas. In Krishna's absence, Brahma had also hidden away the sakhas. Shri Krishna is all-powerful and full in the six opulences [3] and He therefore understood Brahma's actions. Personally assuming forms identical to His calves and cowherd boys, including their sticks, clothes, flutes, horns and so forth, He continued His pastimes as before. This went on for one year. Even Baldev could not understand the mystery of what had occurred. Finally, after one year, Baldev, who had observed some extraordinary occurrence, was able to understand that Krishna had expanded Himself as the cows and cowherd boys and was performing a pastime. At that same time, Brahma was amazed to see that the same calves and cowherd boys that he had put to sleep in a cave were now performing pastimes with Krishna just like before. He was completely astonished. Shri Krishna then removed Yogmaya's curtain of bewilderment. When Brahma realized the supreme godliness (bhagvatta) of Shri Krishna and saw His astounding activities, he offered prostrated obeisances at His lotus feet and began to recite prayers and glorify Him.[4] “O Lord, You are fit to receive the worship of the entire universe. 0 son of the king of cowherds, Your transcendental body is dark blue like a new cloud, Your garment is brilliant like lightning, and the beauty of Your face is enhanced by Your gunja earrings and the peacock feather on Your head. Wearing garlands of various forest flowers and leaves, and equipped with a herding stick, a buffalo horn, a flute, and a morsel of grain mixed with yoghurt in Your hand, You are most attractive. Your lotus feet are very soft. I offer my prayers unto You.” Brahma prayed to take birth in Braj-Gokul and to bathe in its dust.

Unai (Janai-Gaon)

Unai lies one-and-a-half miles south of Bajana. This is where Brahma became bewildered upon seeing Krishna sitting and eating with his sakhas. In the end, Krishna kindly removed Brahma's bewilderment and revealed Himself to him. At that time, Brahma saw the whole universe as krishnamay, or "filled with Krishna". Therefore, this place is called Janai-gaon, which is derived from the verb janna meaning "to know" or "to understand".

Balahara

It was here that Brahma stole away the cowherd boys. This place is therefore called Balahara. Bala means "boy", and harna means "to steal".

Parkham

This place is situated one mile west of Janai-gaon. Seeing Krishna and the sakhas sitting and eating together, Brahma wanted to test His bhagvatta, or quality of being God. This place is therefore known as Parkham, from the verb pariksa karna, meaning "to test".

Sei

Sei is situated one-and-a-half miles south-east of Parkham and four miles from Pasauli. Brahmaji, bewildered by Krishna's illusory energy, stole the cowherd boys and the calves and hid them in a secret place. However, when he returned after one year, he saw that Krishna and the cowherd boys were tending the calves just as before. At that time, he began to wonder if the cowherd boys and calves that he had hidden in the cave were still there (sei). When he saw that they were indeed still there, he doubted that they were with Krishna. "Kya sei? – Are they there?", he wondered. By Brahma's saying sei over and over again in this way, this place became known as Sei. Seeing the cowherd boys and the calves together with Krishna as before, Brahma ascertained (sei), "This Krishna is definitely the Supreme Lord Himself."

Chauma

Being fearful, Brahma repented and praised Shri Krishna with his four mouths (char mukh) at this place; therefore, this village is called Chaumunha. It lies on the Mathura–Delhi highway one mile west of Parkham and approximately eight miles from Mathura. One mile from Chaumunha is a very beautiful village named Alai, where one can have darsan of an ancient deity of Brahma. Today, Chaumunha is simply known as Chauma. Bhakti-Ratnakar affirms:

Chaumunha grame brahma amsi krishnapase
karaye Krishna stuti asesa visese
"Brahma offered prayers to Krishna in Chaumunha-Gram.”

Pasauli

This place is also called Sapauli, Aghavan and Sarpasthali. Here, Shri Krishna killed and delivered Aghasur, who had assumed the form of a python. Pasauli lies two miles north-west of Parkham.
Story
Once, Krishna and the cowherd boys came to this forest while grazing the cows. Aghasur, the embodiment of sin (agha), came here intent on avenging his sister Putana's death. Taking the form of an enormous and fearsome python, he lay on the road, his lower jaw on the ground and his upper jaw touching the sky. His mouth looked like a cave and his tongue like the road entering it. The cowherd boys and the calves casually entered his mouth. But he did not close his mouth because he was specifically intent on swallowing Krishna. Krishna, however, remained behind. From a distance, He had signalled to the cowherd boys to not enter Agha's mouth, but they had fearlessly entered nonetheless, having not the slightest doubt about Shri Krishna's power to protect them. To rescue the sakhas, Shri Krishna now also entered Agha's mouth, which thereupon closed. Shri Krishna became an obstacle in Agha's throat by expanding His body so much that Agha's breathing stopped and he choked. The demon thus suffocated. Within a short time, the opening at the top of his skull burst open and a light came out and ascended into the sky. Shri Krishna then glanced over the cowherd boys and calves, bringing them back to life. They all emerged from Aghasur's mouth. Brahma and other demigods saw the light enter Krishna's lotus feet. After Krishna delivered Aghasur, He returned with the cowherd boys to Vrindavan.

Jaint

After the killing of Aghasur, the sound of the demigods calling out, "Let there be all victory to Bhagvan Shri Krishna, all victory!" reverberated throughout the sky and the nearby forest area. In great joy, the cowherd boys joined in, and the tumultuous sound of "All victory, all victory!" filled the sky.[5]

This place is known as Jaint because it carries the memory of Shri Krishna's victory over Aghasur. Jaya means "victory". There is a pond here with a statue of a snake constructed in such a way that it is always visible above the water, no matter how high the water is in the pond. This place is situated three miles from Chhatikara.

Seyano

The present name of this place is Sihona. Upon receiving the news of Aghasur's death, the old gopas and gopis glorified Krishna again and again saying, "Krishna seyano hoya gayo hai, seyano hoya gayo hai – Krishna is so clever, He is so clever." Seyano means "clever" or "strong", and thus Maharaja Vajranabh named this place Seyano-gaon. This place lies two miles from Alai. One can have darshan here of the deities of the four Kumaras – Sanaka, Sanandan, Sanata and Sanatana.

Tarauli

This village is situated two miles north-west of Basoli, one mile east and a little north of the village of Syamari, and one mile east of Barauli.

Barauli

The villages of Tarauli and Barauli lie side by side. They are both places of Krishna's pastimes. Pithara-gaon lies on the road leaving from Barauli.

Tamalavan and Krishna-Kund-Tila

Surrounded by a dense forest of tamala trees, this is a place where Shri Radha-Krishna met and became immersed in nectar-filled loving pastimes. One time, rasik-bihari Shri Krishna met with Radha and the sakhis in this tamala-kunja. Many kinds of creepers and vines had wound themselves around the tamala trees, embracing them, and had spread over the trees to create a truly exquisite kunja. Shri Krishna pointed to one creeper and asked Priyaji, "Why is this creeper winding itself around the tamala tree?" Radhika smilingly answered, "It is the nature of the creeper to cover the tamala tree with its shoots, leaves and flowers. Although this tree has no fruit or flowers of its own, its fortune is that the creeper enhances the tree's beauty with its own leaves and flowers." Just then, a breeze caused the creeper to quiver, the sight of which immersed Kishor-Kishori in the ecstatic mood of meeting. This Tamalavan is still present as a reminder of these pastimes.

Atas

Only the Brajvasis are qualified to take darshan of and fully relish Krishna's sweet pastimes, which are filled with topmost bliss. Nonetheless, the four-headed Brahma, Mahadev Shankar, Devrishi Narad and many great saints and sages reside in numerous pastime places in Brajbhumi, worshipping the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. This place, called Atas-gaon, is Astavakra Muni's place of worship. Atas is the corrupted form of the word asavakra. This village lies four miles from Janai-gaon and six miles from Vrindavan.

Devi Atas

This village is situated one mile from Atas, and is the place of Ekanamsa-devi, Krishna's twin sister born from Yashoda's womb. Vasudev took her with him from Gokul to Kansa's jail. When Kansa received the news that Devki had given birth to a child, he went to the jail. He snatched Ekanamsa from Devki's lap and lifted her toward the sky in order to dash her on the ground. When she was lifted into the air, she assumed an eight-armed Durga form, chastised Kansa, and disappeared in the sky. She then reappeared at this place. Vajranabh established this village in the memory of this pastime.

Maghera

When Krishna and Baldev were seated on Akrur's chariot as he was driving Them from Braj to Mathura, the distressed Brajvasis became overwhelmed in separation from Them. Their eyes remained fixed on the road as they saw the dust kicked up by the leaving chariot, and they maintained that same gaze even after the dust had settled back down again. In the memory of this pastime, Vajranabh named this village Maghera. This name comes from mag hero, which means "gazing in the direction of the road".

Shakroya

Indra, the king of the demigods, had committed an offence at the lotus feet of Shri Krishna and the Brajvasis, and was therefore an offender. He worshipped Shri Krishna at this place to seek for forgiveness. One name of Indra is Shakra, from which the name Shakroya is derived. Indra's place of worship thus became known as Shakroya.

Barahar

At the time of cow herding, Shri Krishna played here with the sakhas and assumed the form of Varaha. This village lies one mile south-west of Hajara-gaon, and its present name is Barara. Bhakti-Ratnakar states:

ei barahara grame varaharupe te
khelaila krishnapriya sakhara sahite

"Here in Barahar, Krishna assumed the form of Varaha and played with His dear sakhas."

Harasali

Harasali a place of Shri Krishna's ras-lila. Nearby is Surukhuru¬gaon. One-and-a-half miles north-east of Sei are the two villages of Mai and Basai. Basai lies north-east of Mai.

References

  1. A type of tall rush or grass (of the fibers of which ropes are made). Elephant grass.
  2. katyayani maha-maye maha-yoginy adhisvari, nanda-gopa-sutam devi patim me kuru to namah
    evam masam vratam ceruh kumaryah Krishna-cetasah, bhadra-kalim samanarcur bhuyan nanda-sutah patih
    --- Shrimad-Bhagvat (10.22.4-5)
  3. He has full strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty and renunciation.
  4. naumidya te'bhra-vapuse tadid-ambaraya, gunjavatamsa-paripiccha-lasan-mukhaya
    vanya-sraje kavala-vetra-visana-venu, laksma-Shriye mrdu-pade pasuparigajaya --- Shrimad-Bhagvat (10.14.1)
  5. tato 'tihrstah sva-krto 'krtarhanam , puspaih suga apsarasas ca nartanaih
    gitaih surd vadya-dharas ca vadyakaih , stavais ca vipra jaya nihsvanair ganah --- Shrimad-Bhagvat (10.12.34)