Goverdhan Parikrama – The Kundas
Finally, I reached the spot on the banks of Shyama-kunda, where Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sat in contemplation under a tamala tree. Shortly afterwards, He discovered the sacred ponds of Radha and Shyama Kunda. There is a tamala tree here which is an offshoot of the original one. Within the red granite shrine is the impression of Lord’s lotus feet. This small temple is a great location to sit, relax and contemplate, mainly for two reasons – (1) It’s usually empty with very few visitors spending a considerable amount of time here (2) one can get a great view of both Radha and Shyama kunda.
On the wall above, was a beautiful painting of Lord Chaitanya with Haridas thakur in His arms. Sitting on the floor, cool air around and pin drop silence, the picture had so much to communicate. It was motivating. In Chaitanya Charitamrita, Krishna Kaviraj Gosvami explains how much the Lord loves His devotee, what the Lord is willing to do for them and how much He is intoxicated with happiness by their love for Him.
During that time a beautiful palanquin was made and Thakur Haridas’s body was laid on that. The Nama Sankirtan procession went from Siddha Bakula to the ocean. Vrkesvara Pandit was dancing, Svarupa Damodara and others were singing, and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu out of love for his beloved devotee led the procession, dancing in ecstasy until they arrived at the sea.
There Mahaprabhu personally took the body of Haridas Thakur. The Supreme Personality of Godhead lovingly held that body and personally bathed it with his own hands in the waters of the sea. And then Sri Caitanya proclaimed loudly that for all time to come this sea in Puri was now a holy place of pilgrimage because it has bathed the body of Thakur Haridas. Lord Caitanya bathed in the sea every single day, but in His opinion now it had become a holy place of pilgrimage because it bathed His blessed devotee’s body. And as Sri Caitanya was bathing Thakur Haridas’s feet the devotees were drinking that water and sprinkling it on their heads in ecstatic love.
I got up from the shrine and moved towards the bank below – the lovely Shyama Kunda. Offering full obeisances and sprinkling drops of its water over my head, I began to read about the pond. Lord Krishna came to this spot to enjoy pastimes with Radharani after killing a demon in the form of a bull, Aristasura. But Radharani forbade Him to come near unless He purified Himself from the sin of killing a bull by bathing in all the holy rivers of the world. Rather than leave Vraja, Krishna ordered the rivers to come to where He was. The rivers emptied themselves into a hole that was created when He struck the ground with His feet.
As I turned around from Shyama-kunda to make my way towards Radha-kunda, I noticed an aged pujari watching from the platform above, where Mahaprabhu’s baithaka is located. He began to say something in Bengali and I couldn’t understand. I just smiled and walked towards him. He motioned me to follow him. I was intrigued. A surprise waiting around the corner, I thought. Just behind the baithaka area was a small house with a tiny door. He swiftly went inside leaving me outside. I looked around and wanted to ask someone what was inside. But there was no one. Taking a deep breath, I wandered inside. I saw a beautiful, clean and well lit courtyard in front of me. There were a few men in a corner checking out some new tulasi beads. The man who had taken me inside was in a corner peeing out of another door and asked me to come. I crossed the courtyard. What was he going to show? Looks like a secret.
And woah ! As soon as I entered this room, he opened a blue door and right there was Lord Chaitanya ! The pujari began to rapidly recite a story but I couldn’t figure out what he was saying. And I couldn’t find any information in the book I was carrying. All I could gather from his speech were the words “Chaitanya Mahaprabhu” and “theen (three)”. I figured out that he was specifying something about the 3 forms of Lord Chaitanya in front of me. The burning incense was beautiful, the silver clothes shone even more brightly in my camera flash and the velvet covering on a box below had a lovely green color. And it was very dark. Must be a very special place and I have no idea about its significance. But I will come back in the future and gaze it again and again.
This attractive place is surrounded by various kinds of trees – kadambas, rows of campakas, excellent new asokas, numerous mango trees, punnagas, bakulas and by lavanga and malati creepers. It is the best of places, where the two ponds beloved to Radha and Madhava meet along one edge. May I find shelter here, the favourite location of the two lover’s pleasure pastimes.
– Vraja-vilas-stavas 52 by Raghunatha dasa Gosvami
So, finally I reached the personal bathing place of Srimati Radharani and is revered as the holiest of all holy places. And I am standing in front of it for the 3rd time. I did think many times how lucky I was. How would I have ever known about this place if it wasn’t for the hard work of Srila Prabhupada and his wonderful devotees all these years. How many people do I need to thank? THANK YOU ALL !!!!
Like before at all the kundas, I again remembered Srila Prabhupad’s instruction on a devotee’s behaviour at a kunda. Once when he heard that devotees were splashing about in the waters of Radha Kunda, he was not happy and said that one should not disrespect Radharani by kicking and jumping in the waters. He advised that devotees take 3 drops of the water and sprinkle on their heads as it was as good as bathing. So, after paying a full obeisances on the steps and lying there for sometime thanking you all and asking for the courage and confidence to pursue Krishna Consciousness, I took the 3 drops of the cool water, sprinkled it on my head and concentrated on the tiny drops slowly trickle down the back of my head.
Krishna immediately took His bath in Radha-kunda, declaring that anyone who bathes here will develop love for Him on the same level as Rasharani’s love. Srimati Radharani then took bath at Shyama-kunda and declared that anyone who bathes in Shyama-kunda will develop love for Her on the same level as Krishna’s love.
– The Color Guide to Goverdhan Hill by Rajashekara dasa Brahmachari
To be continued….