Braj Related Links
Vow At Vishram Ghat
Before starting Braj Mandal Parikrama, one should take a vow (sankalpa) at Vishram Ghat in Mathura. This vow should be made through the medium of a Vaishnav devoted to bhajan, any devotee, tirth-guru or Brajvasi priest who is simple-hearted, learned in the scriptures and philosophical principles, virtuous, merciful, non-envious and non-avaricious. When the vow is taken, parikrama may begin.
Rules For Braj Mandal Parikrama
While performing parikrama, one should as far as possible observe certain positive and negative injunctions. The positive injunctions are as follows: to speak the truth, to observe celibacy, to sleep on the ground, to forgive the offences of others, to take bath in the holy rivers or ponds, to do achamana, to accept only prasad offered to the Supreme Lord, and to perform harinama-kirtana on tulsi beads or perform harinama-sankirtana in the assembly of Vaishnavas. One should perform the parikrama by properly respecting and worshipping the brahmanas, deities, sacred places and the Supreme Lord's pastime places encountered during the course of the parikrama.
Coming now to the negative injunctions – it is prohibited to become angry; to commit any violence towards trees, creepers, small shrubs, cows and so forth along the parikrama path; to dishonour brahmanas, Vaishnavas and so on; to disrespect the deities; to use soap and oil; to shave; to kill ants and other living entities; to involve oneself in disputes; and to criticize others.
Timing Of Parikrama
Gaudiya Vaishnavas follow Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's own journey through Braj. Hence, some people start their parikrama after Vijaya Dashami in the month of Ashvina (October–November) in autumn. This is because, according to Shri Chaitanya Charitamrita, Shriman Mahaprabhu arrived from Shri Nilachal-dhama (Jagannath Puri) at this time to have darshan of Braj-mandal. Other Gaudiya Vaishnavas start their parikrama and kartika-vrata niyama-seva on the Ekadasi of the bright fortnight in the month of Ashvina and complete their vow on Devotthana-ekadashi of the bright fortnight in the month of Kartika. Most Gaudiya Vaishnavas, however, make their vow for both Kartika niyama-seva (or urja-vrata) and Brajmandal parikrama on Shardiya-purnima. They then complete the kartika-vrata and Braj-mandal parikrama after Devotthana ekadasi on Kartika-purnima. The Vaishnavas of the Nimbarka sampradaya start Brajmandal parikrama on the Dashami after Shri Krishna Janmastami. They complete their parikrama in one-and-a-half months. The Vaisnavas of Pustimarga (the Vallabha sampradaya) start their parikrama on the Dashami or Ekadashi after Shri Radhastami and complete it in approximately two months.