Vrindavan, 2018,12.30 (Dr. Ashok Bansal): It is said that within every three kilometres in Braj, there is some pilgrimage place related to Radha-Krishna’s pastimes. There is something here for everyone – the fan of religious places; the lover of literature, the history buff, politicians and tourists.
Mahakavi Surdas took the nectar of Shri Krishna’s childhood pastimes and rasa lilas to every home. If Surdas did not spend 73 years of his life in Braj and leave his body (at 105 years of age) in Parsauli Govardhan, the impressions of Radha Krishna’s pastimes would not be so deeply seated in people’s minds. Shilpi Amritlal Nagar wouldn’t have written Khanjan Nayan about Surdas’ life, which, to this day, is still attracting literature buffs to Braj.
Across the 84 Kos (250 km) Braj Parikrama, there are dozens of places where legends that have been told for hundreds of years are still told. These description of Radha-Krishna’s pastimes by locals inspires different types of bhava and rasa in visitors, who often become deeply attached to the landscape and pastimes of Braj.
Braj is an ancient place, but the foundation of its present form was laid by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534) and Vallabhacharya (Samvat 1530-1588).
Even after Krishna went to Dwarka, Radha stayed in Braj and the call of ‘Radhe Radhe’ resounds here. Radha’s name entered her heart, and MP Hema Malini adopted Rawal village, bringing hope to the two thousand residents of the village.
No one could have hoped that a politician would do what Hema has done for the village – water connections to village houses, proper guttering, wide roads, a medical dispensary…
Villagers now have reliable electricity supply, toilets have been constructed and houses standing in the way of road widening have been demolished for the sake of proper roads.
But, while most residents are happy with the progress, the people whose houses were demolished say that they were promised that new houses would be built for them, however these promises have not been acted upon.
Many residents are also upset that Malini has not arranged any funding for the village’s Radha Rani temple. Perhaps she is limited in what she can do, but, as the Government is now actively engaged in promoting Braj tourism, the lack of attention paid to the temple does seem anomalous as the Radha Rani temple is a central attraction of Rawal village.
Despite the lack of attention paid to the development of visitor services and promotion of the temple, priest Lalit Mohan Kalla, still praises the work that Malini has done in the village. Lalit Pandit explains that he is thankful to Malini because, despite ‘Radhe Radhe’ being on the tongue of everyone in Braj, the crowds still mostly go to Mathura’s Dwarkadheesh temple, Krishna Janma Bhoomi and Govardhan. The Radha Rani temple has to wait for those who are especially dedicated to Radha Rani. But, since the news of Hema adopting the village has spread, more people have started coming to the village and temple.
Lalit Pandit enthusiastically explains Radha Rani’s pastimes to the visitors who come to the temple. He explains:
Radha Rani was not born, she appeared in a lotus flower behind the temple in between a Kadam and Kureel tree. When she was 11 ½ months old, Shri Krishna appeared in Nandaba’s home in the neighbouring village of Gokul.
Radha’s father, Brishabhanu and her mother, Kirti Devi went to Gokul to offer their congratulations. Radha crawled towards Krishna’s cradle and, when she reached it, her eyes lit up. The first thing she did was take Darshan.
Radha Rani lived in Rawal until she was seven years old, when the family moved to Barsana. At around the same time, Nandababa moved from Gokul, due to fear of King Kamsa. Nanda-Yashoda brought Krishna to live near Barsana, in the neighbouring village of Nandagao.
Visitors, many of whom have gone to great trouble to reach the temple, listen to Radha Rani’s story with fascination.
Mathura A District Memoir, written in 1879 by Mathura Collector FS Growse, includes a section on Raval’s Radha Rani temple. The priest explains that the temple was built by his ancestors from Jodhpur in 1739 and, since then, the temple service has been done by their family.
Lalit Pandit says that the temple attracts personalities such as bhajan singer Aarti Sharma who brought a group to the temple for her birthday. Before cutting the cake she sang her bhajan “Man bhul mat jaiyo Radha ke charan”.
People get their strength from Krishna and Radha is Krishna’s inspiration and strength. Together, the Divine couple provides our inspiration and strength. Nothing could be more wonderful than to lose oneself in Radha’s villages – her Grandmother’s village, Mukharai; her childhood village, Rawal and; Barsana, the village where she lived when she served Krishna.
Jai Jai Shri Radhe Shyam!