Vrindavan, 2017.11.20 (VT): We continue our Vrindavan Parikrama by taking darshan of the beautiful Shringar Vat.
When the Raas Lila began, Shri Krishna played his flute and all the gopis came running. He danced with every gopi, giving equal attention to each one. But the glory of the Raas Lila could not reach its supreme state unless Shri Krishna enjoyed fully with Shri Radha. So Radha left the Raas, and Krishna followed her.
Now alone, Shri Radha and Krishna played with each other freely. Shri Radha’s clothes and jewellery were disturbed during their play. Shringar Vat is the place where Shri Krishna arranged his Beloved’s clothes, tenderly placing her jewellery back in the right places, gently combing her curly locks and decorating her with flowers.
Shringar Vat is the place where Nityananda Prabhu chose to sit and meditate when he came to Vrindavan. There once was a large banyan tree to mark the place. Now only a stump remains, and a new younger tree offers its shade to the holy spot.
In the 18th Century, a descendent of Nityananda Prabhu, Shri Nandakishor Goswami, came to live at Shringar Vat. He established the deities of Nitai-Gaur there.
The boy who herded cows with Shri Krishna
A young Brajwasi boy used to take care of Nandakishor Goswami’s cows. People called him “Bhondu” (simple-minded) because he was very naive, but also very pure at heart. Born and raised in Vrindavan, the boy had a natural love for Shri Krishna and longed to meet him. Bhondu knew that Shri Krishna herded cows in Vrindavan’s pastures like he himself did. He was ecstatic that one day, he would probably meet him.
And so it happened that one day, Bhondu met Shri Krishna in the pasture. The two became close friends. Shri Krishna and his friends used to share their lunches, which were packed by their mothers and brought from home. But Bhondu didn’t have a packed lunch to share. So he started bringing food from the temple kitchen when he went out for cowherding.
Nandkishor Goswami noticed the missing food and started keeping a closer eye on the kitchen. One morning, Goswami Ji noticed Bhondu on his way to the pasture with the cows, carrying a huge bundle of groceries on his head.
Nandakishor Goswami said, “Child, where are you going with all that food?”
Bhondu smiled and said, “We are going to makde dal-bati-churma today.”
“Who is ‘we’?” asked Nandakishor Goswami.
“Me, Krishna, Balaram, Subal, Shridama…” Bhondu rattled off the names of Krishna’s cowherd boy friends from the nitya lila.
“Krishna and Balaram…?”
“Yeah! You know Krishna! That boy who wears a peacock feather and yellow clothes. He’s really nice. We’re friends now.”
Goswami Ji didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t wrap his mind around what he was hearing. But Bhondu was not a liar either.
“Why don’t you invite your buddy Krishna and his friends here for lunch instead? Tomorrow is Gopashtami, so it’s the perfect day to invite them.”
“Oh yes! That’s a wonderful idea! I will! Thank you Goswami Ji!”
Bhondu bowed to Goswami Ji and headed out for the pasture.
That day, Bhondu invited Shri Krishna to Shringar Vat for Gopashtami lunch, but Shri Krishna said, “No, I won’t go.”
“But I promised Goswami Ji you would come!” said Bhondu.
“What do I care what you said to Goswami Ji?” said Krishna.
Bhondu felt insulted and started to walk away. “Goswami Ji is like my Guru. If you are going to insult my Guru then I’m not going to play with you any more!” Bhondu separated his cows from Shri Krishna’s cows and started off in a huff.
Shri Krishna was shocked and started to cry. He blocked Bhondu’s way and said, “Wait! Don’t go! Listen to me!” Bhondu didn’t want to listen, but he stopped for moment and looked at Krishna.
“Listen, I couldn’t say this in front of Balaram and the other cowherd boys. Shringar Vat is a place where I go to meet Radharani. It’s our secret place. I can’t take the boys there. Please understand, brother!”
Bhondu smiled, “Oh, is that it! Well, if Goswami Ji comes here and cooks for you, will you eat?”
“Sure I will!” Said Krishna. “But tell him not to bring anyone else with him!”
Bhondu told Goswami Ji what had happened. He could hardly believe what was happeneing, yet somehow, his hope was greater than his hesitation. The next morning he excitedly got all the provisions ready to make dal-bati-churma for Shri Krishna. Smiling like a child, Goswami Ji brought all the cooking implements from the kitchen across the Yamuna and out into the fields at Bhandirvan.
He was blissful beyond words when he saw that Shri Krishna was actually there waiting for him surrounded by all his cowherd friends. Goswami Ji cooked for them and fed them to his heart’s content. But as soon as the feast was over, they all disappeared. Goswami Ji fainted out of shock and separation.
In a half-conscious state, Goswami Ji heard Krishna saying, “Don’t worry. I am always with you. Go home and write about my lila.” According to Shri Krishna’s instructions, Nandakishor Goswami wrote two books called Shri Shri Rasakalika and Shri Vrindavan Lilamrit.