BAHULASTAMI – THE APPEARANCE DAY OF RADHA-KUNDA AND SYAMA-KUNDA AND SRI RADHA-KUNDASHTAKAM
(Sacred ponds that are the bathing places of Srimati Radharani and Lord Krsna in Vrndavana)
” Within the holy dhama of Vrindavana are twelve sacred forests where Lord Sri Krishna performed many of His wonderful activities. Of these twelve, the forest of Vrindavana is not only the largest, but also the most sacred because the rasa-lila was performed here. In the middle of this Vrindavana forest is the transcendental mountain Govardhana Hill, and situated at the northern most point of this great mountain is the sacred lake called Radha kunda, where the most intimate of all the Lord’s transcendental loving pastimes took place.
In Upadesamrta (Nectar of Instructions), Rupa Goswami says: The holy place known as Mathura is spiritually superior to Vaikuntha, the transcendental world, because the Lord appeared here. Superior to Mathurapuri is the transcendental forest of Vrindavana because of Krishna’s rasa-lila pastimes. And superior to the forest of Vrindavana is Govardhana Hill, for it was raised by the divine hand of Sri Krishna and was the site of His various loving pastimes. And, above all, the super excellent Sri Radha kunda stands supreme, for it is over flooded with the ambrosial nectarean prema of the Lord of Gokula, Sri Krishna. Where, then is that unintelligent person unwilling to serve this divine Radha kunda which is situated at the foot of the Govardhana hill?
Within all the three worlds and beyond to the spiritual realm, there is no place more sacred and holy than Radha kunda. This has been confirmed in all Vedic literature’s such as the Puranas and Ithias as well as by all the great sages of yore. Five hundred years ago the six Goswamis of Vrindavana also revealed through their teachings that of all the holy places within the universe, Radha kunda should be considered the holiest of all.
We would humbly request all serious devotees of Sri Krishna to visit this holiest of the holy places at least once in their life times and get the mercy of Srimati Radharani. ”
— Source: Radha Kunda: The Holiest of the Holy Places by Rajasekhara dasa Brahmacari.
BAHULASTAMI – APPEARANCE OF SRI RADHA KUNDA
On the eighth day of the waning phase of the damodara month the appearance day of Radha Kunda is celebrated by the residents. Bathing in Radha Kunda is especially beneficial on this day. By this one gains the favor of Radha, by which one gains the favor of Krsna. Radha Kunda appeared at midnight. People go to Radha Kunda and offer prasadam, garlands and pumkins (gords) into the water, then at midnight take bath in Radha Kunda and then bathe in Syama Kunda. Many people like to bathe at a ghat where Lord Nityananda’s sakti, Jahnava Mata used to bathe. But wherever you go you better get there early as thousands of people/devotees will be there. And bring some warm clothing for afterwards, as it is so “cooling”.
The holy place known as Mathura is spiritually superior to Vaikuntha, the transcendental world, because the Lord appeared there. Superior to Mathura puri is the transcendental forest of Vrndavana because of Krsna’s rasalila pastimes. And superior to the forest of Vrndavana is Govardhana Hill, for it was raised by the divine hand of Sri Krsna and was the site of his various loving pastimes. And, above all, the super-excellent Sri Radha Kunda stands supreme, for it is over-flooded with the ambrosial nectarean prema of the Lord of gokula, Sri Krsna. Where, then, is that intelligent person who is unwilling to serve this divine Radha Kunda, which is situated at the foot of Govardhana Hill?
LORD CHAITANYA DISCOVERS SRI RADHA KUNDA
Every day at around the time of noon, Radha and Krsna and Their most intimate associates perform most elevated pastimes on the banks of Sri Radha Kunda but as the milleniums passed the site of Radha Kunda became lost.
On Karttika Purnima, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu arrived in Vrindavan with a brahmana from Mathura. He travelled to all the twelve forests. During this period he came to Sri Govardhana. He was looking for the village of Arita-grama. Arriving, He inquired from the village people, “Where is Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda?” Because in Padma Purana, Visnu Purana and other ancient scriptures the supreme glory of Radha Kunda is explained, the suprememost of holy places.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu was searching, but none of the villagers had any clue to where it could be. And even the brahmana from Mathura travelling with Lord Caitanya had no clue. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu sat under a tamal tree meditating on Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda, and then by His divine vision He saw it before Him in the form of two puddles in a paddy field. Lord Caitanya went to those two small little puddles of water in that paddy field and ecstatically took His bath. After bathing, with folded palms, He was quoting prayers from the holy scriptures in glorification of Radha Kunda. Just as Radharani is the most dear of all devotees of Krsna, Radha Kunda is similarly dear to Krsna It is the most holy of all places. Just as Srimati Radharani’s glories are unlimited, Radha Kunda’s glories are equally unlimited. And anyone who takes their bath in Sri Radha Kunda even once, Lord Caitanya said, will be given the same type of love as that of Srimati Radharani because Radha Kunda is filled with the ambrosial nectar of Her love.
Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then took the mud from Radha Kunda and put tilaka on the twelve parts of His body, and then along with Balabhadra Bhattacarya, He collected some mud to keep it with Him and then with ecstasy He danced. Bhakti-ratnakara describes that when the Vrajavasis saw Lord Caitanya dancing with ecstasy at Radha Kunda they were struck with wonder: “Who is this sannyasi? What is His beauty? What is His love?” Another Vrajavasi said “We have never ever seen anyone like this!
And other Vrajavasis were saying “We understood who this is, Krsna has come again in the form of this beautiful sannyasi with a golden complexion. Look! All the cuckoos and parrots are singing so sweetly the glories of this sannyasi, and the peacocks are dancing in front of Him. And the cows are running with raised tails from all directions, and the deers are gazing upon Him, coming so close to Him. And all the creepers are blossoming with flowers even out of season and showering upon Him. All these different personalities, their eyes are overflooding with tears of love just like they are seeing that personality who has stolen their hearts after a long time of separation.
In this most historical incident, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu revealed Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda to the world. That place where Radha and Krsna performed Their lila. . . Visvanath Chakravarti said Krsna was like a dark monsoon cloud, Srimati Radharani was like a golden bolt of lightning and the combination of Their pastimes together in the sky of Radha Kunda created a torrential rain pour of ecstatic love.
RAGHUNATHA DASA GOSWAMI AT SRI RADHA KUNDA
Lord Caitanya instructed Rupa and Sanatana Goswami to make their residence in Vrindavan. He gave them four very special instructions: to extract the essence of all the revealed scriptures to enunciate the supreme glory of pure devotional service in the mood of the residents of Vrindavan; to excavate the holy places of Krsna’s pastimes, most of which had been lost to the vision of the world; to establish temples and the worship of the deity; and to exemplify by their personal behaviour the perfect example of a Vaisnava, especially one in the renounced order of life.
Raghunatha dasa Goswami, son of Govardhan Mazumdar, left his fabulous wealth in Krsnapur of Saptagram, to make his residence in Jagannatha Puri. There he was put under the charge of Svarupa Damodara Goswami by Lord Caitanya Himself. Srila Raghunatha Das Goswami was the personal servant of the servant of Sri Caitanya for sixteen years until Caitanya Mahaprabhu closed His lila in this world. Soon after that, Svarupa Damodara Goswami also departed. The anguish of Raghunatha Das Goswami in his separation of love was insurmountable. He came to Vrindavan by foot to meet Rupa and Sanatana and then to jump from the top of Govardhana Hill to end his life.
After having the pleasurable meeting of Srila Rupa and Sanatana Goswami, he asked for their blessings, but they forbade him to end his life that “You are the only person amongst us here in Vrindavan who has personally witnessed the internal and external pastimes of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, especially in His antya-lila. You must remain with us as our brother and every day describe Lord Caitanya’s glories.”
Sri Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami gave Raghunatha Das Goswami a place of residence at those two puddles in the paddy field which was Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda. He resided there for some time, in fact for the rest of his life. Krsnadasa Kaviraja Goswami explains the quality of Raghunatha Das Goswami’s devotional service as he was living on the banks of Sri Radha Kunda. He would offer obeisances, prostrated dandavat, one thousand times a day to the Lord. He chanted at least one hundred thousand names of Krsna every day, and without fail, he offered his prostrated obeisances two thousand times to the Vaisnavas every day. Although he was most exalted amongst all devotees, whenever he would meet a devotee, Vaisnava, he would lovingly from his heart embrace them and offer them all respect.
(By Srila Raghunatha Dasa Gosvami)
nikhila-nija-sakhibhir yat sva-hastena purnam
prakatitam api vrindaranya-rajnya pramodais
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (1)
After the killing of Arishtasura, Shrimati Radhika and Her sakhis exchanged many joking words with Shri Krishna concerning the necessary atonement for one who has committed the offence of killing a bull. As a result, the Queen of Vrindavana, Shrimati Radhika, and Her sakhis joyfully excavated and filled Shri Radha-kunda with their own hands. May that immensely fragrant Radha-kunda be my shelter.
vraja-bhuvi mura-shatroh preyasinam nikamair
asulabham api turnam prema-kalpa-drumam tam
janayati hridi bhumau snatur uccaih priyam yat
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (2)
In the land of the hearts of those who bathe in Radha-kunda, a desire tree of the superlative prema, which is not attainable even for Krishna’s principal queens in Dvaraka, will arise. May that supremely charming Radha-kunda be my shelter.
agha-ripur api yatnad atra devyah prasadaprasara-
anusarati yad uccaih snana-sevanu-bandhais
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (3)
For the pleasure of Shrimati Radhika, even Shri Krishna Himself, yearning to attain Her merciful sidelong glance, regularly bathes in Radha-kunda, carefully observing all the appropriate rituals. May that supremely enchanting Radha-kunda be my shelter.
vraja-bhuvana-sudhamshoh prema-bhumir nikamam
paricitam api namna yac ca tenaiva tasyas
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (4)
May that supremely enchanting Radha-kunda, which the moon of Vraja, Shri Krishna, loves as much as He loves the crown-jewel amongst the sweet girls of Vraja, Shrimati Radhika, and which He has made known by the name of Radhika Herself, be my shelter.
api jana iha kashcid yasya seva-prasadaih
pranaya-sura-lata syat tasya goshthendra-sunoh
sapadi kila mad-isha-dasya-pushpa-prashasya
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (5)
The mercy obtained by serving Radha-kunda makes the desire-creeper of prema for the prince of Vraja sprout and is celebrated for bearing the flower of service to my svamini Shrimati Radhika. May that supremely charming Radha-kunda be my shelter.
tata-madhura-nikunjah klpta-namana uccair
nija-parijana-vargaih samvibhajyashritas taih
madhukara-ruta-ramya yasya rajanti kamyas
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (6)
Gloriously manifest on the banks of Radha-kunda are eight kunjas named after Radhika’s principal sakhis.* Filled with the sweet humming of bumblebees, these kunjas act as stimuli for the amorous pastimes of the Divine Couple. The lotus feet of that Radhika, who sends Krishna to enjoy in all the different kunjas, are desired by everyone. May that supremely enchanting Radha-kunda be the shelter of my life.
*On the eastern bank is the kunja known as Citra-sukhada, on the southeastern side is Indulekhasukhada, on the southern bank is Campakalata-sukhada, on the southwestern side is Rangadevi- sukhada, on the western bank is Tungavidya-sukhada, on the northwestern side is Sudevi- sukhada, on the northern bank is Lalita-sukhada, and on the northeastern side is the kunja known as Vishakha-sukhada.
tata-bhuvi vara-vedyam yasya narmati-hridyam
madhura-madhura-vartam goshtha-candrasya bhangya
prathayati mitha isha prana-sakhyalibhih sa
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (7)
Situated on an exquisite dais on the bank of Radha-kunda and accompanied by Her beloved sakhis, our svamini Shrimati Radhika charmingly engages in sweet, joking words with Shri Krishna, the moon of Vraja. These playful verbal exchanges are enhanced by the suggestion of so many innuendoes. May that Radha-kunda be the shelter of my life.
anudinam ati-rangaih prema-mattali-sanghair
viharata iha yasmin dampati tau pramattau
tad ati-surabhi-radha-kundam evashrayo me (8)
May that very charming and especially fragrant Radha-kunda, where intoxicated with love the Divine Couple and the sakhis daily cavorts with great joy in the water so fragrant with exquisite lotus flowers, be the sole shelter of my life.
avikalam ati devyash caru kundashtakam yah
aciram iha sharire darshayaty eva tasmai
madhu-ripur ati-modaih shlishyamanam priyam tam (9)
To that devotee who, in a resolute mood of aspiring to serve Shrimati Radhika, reads this charming prayer describing Shri Radha-kunda, even in their present body Shri Krishna will quickly grant them darshana of not only His beloved Radhika, but also of Their many variegated amorous pastimes. Witnessing these pastimes and envisioning himself serving Yugala-kishora in various ways, such a devotee will feel immense jubilation.
(This ashtaka is recited in the poetic meter known as “Malini.”)