Vrindavan is the launchpad of what we can call the ‘Krishna Consciousness’, spreaded into this world through various institutions, rituals and individuals. A strong spiritual façade which is the lifeline of many people living in India and world over, drawing its power from this majestic town which is echoed with the voice of ‘Radhe Radhe’ in a certain symphonic tone, silencing our unsettling minds and immediately you get this urge to throw these two enchanting words back at the locales. You shout these words again and again, getting aligned to the custom, feeling a certain belongingness with the crowd. You get institutionalized so to speak!
The atmosphere of Vrindavan is energizing, the roads hustle bustle with tourists buying prayer material while they line up for temple visitations, locales are mostly smiling, enjoying their daily chores be it road side vendors or big store operators, the temples are vintage, architecturally flawless, and give vibrations of joy with their artistic carvings, clean surroundings and disciplined visitation procedures and last but not the least those mouth-watering sweet shops are highly distracting, especially in the market area of popular Banke Bihari temple. Vrindavan is not a conventional religious place which takes footage just on few temples and their historic relevance, it also hypnotizes you with lot other extra ordinary scenes and rituals which transports you to divine dimensions of exhilaration, the feeling which is omnipresent at every corner of the place.
Krishna, 8th incarnation of lord Vishnu as per Hindu mythology was believed to be present on earth 5000+ years ago. There is practically no documented texts, artifacts either dug from the graves or recovered from some timeless library that can claim 100% accuracy of this information, but only speculations based on popular Hindu epic stories like Mahabharata, or artifacts/writings from other Hindu, Greek, Buddhist or Jain explorers, or quotes from Indian soldiers during the Alexander – Porus war era in the northwest Indian subcontinent, saying that they saw the Alexander army carrying image of ‘Herakles’ (greek god who Indian army said looks like Krishna). Now all of this knowledge can be debated and speculated on, but I happened to experience a part of history of my own when I went to Vrindavan this summer with my friend Rahul Khera, who was equally interested in a quick ‘express in and out’ visit to the place, and explore the unknowns on the most revered Hindu gods of all times ‘Krishna’, plus of course relish other sightings that the place had to offer
But here we were, at Vrindavan where Krishna spent his days playing and living and we had to find some concrete piece of history which could quench our thirsts and curiosities. After long hours of wandering around, we stumbled upon this ‘not so much talked’ temple called ‘Kali Deh’. Didn’t look touristy nor had a sophisticated architecture. There was no commercial appeal to it, but yet it had all the answers. As we entered the gates under the blistering heat, we quickly ran towards the only person who was sitting under a tree there and accompanied him for some time. He looked like a sage wrapped in an orange robe, sporting a gold earring and a big black beard sitting blissfully under the tree like there was no tomorrow, enlightened in his own way. He had been living in Vrindavan for almost 4 years, but originally from Chitrakoot where he left his family at the age of 14. He pointed us towards that 5000 year old tree where the popular multi headed huge demonic black snake used to live (hence the name Kali Deh), creating havoc in people’s lives at that time, later assassinated by Krishna. The lord used to play on that tree as well. As we enquired more, many locales validated this story as well, and claimed that the leafs of that tree had ‘Radhe’ written on them all over in Sanskrit or maybe some other ancient Indian language that no one knows about. I looked at the tree and I could believe everything that people would tell, it indeed looked very old with its stem fading out of strong texture and color, heavy branches bent towards the ground, and the tree hollow from inside
Some moments earlier at the pinnacle of the hot sun, a very interesting thing that caught my attention was a line-up of middle aged and old women at the Banke Bihari temple area, sitting on the sides chattering and hymning melodies. A teenager boy noticed me, maybe got intrigued with my backpack and curious touristy gestures, randomly approached me and said that the ladies belonged to the widows community. My friend had a DSLR with him and after listening to the boy, I sprinted towards him like some kind of double agent on a secret mission. Focused fast paced footsteps, the background music in my ears became intensely tactical and suspenseful, the narrow corridors of Banke Bihari became narrower…. kept becoming narrower and…I reached my friend sooner than I thought. I jumped at him, blocked his vision to a huge Godzilla sized buffalo who was standing like a mannequin, and turned him forcefully to a more unusual view
“Take a shot there”
Click, click, click, the only sound that I could hear amidst the noisy market, gave me a certain relief. I knew my friend would take nice shots
Vrindavan has been an abode of widows from far off places in India, who have travelled and taken refuge at various ashrams present in the place, not much of a guess they belonged to poor families with backward traditional beliefs that don’t allow women to live a strong independent life. Victims of ‘female subjugation’, and now living peacefully in Vrindavan all these ladies are big support for each other sharing same sentiments. Krishna’s legacy is popular with having love thrown at ladies at his day who were called ‘Gopis’, and spreading the message of love and respect for women. The calling was clear, and one widow after other started to mount up becoming part of the bigger ‘Krishna Consciousness’ community, participating in Ashram Bhajans (loud soothing prayer songs that is sung in temples, paying tribute to the deity) and also getting involved in other administrative work
"Jab Bihariji ka bulawa aaya toh aana pada"
….said one of the widows along with many other locales who lived / worked at Banke Bihari