Vraj Mandala Parikrama with Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Maharaja
The place we have now arrived at is full of spiritual mysteries. It is a very unique and confidential location. Uddhava wanted to come to this place but he became so perplexed that he lost his way. When Krishna had gone to Mathura after being taken away by Akrura, the gopis spent months together in this place we are now. They did not eat or sleep or bathe or change their clothes, they were completely oblivious to all material considerations. They would not even return home to their families. They just laid around here totally shattered in utter despair. If there is any place in Vraja that could symbolize the most intense mood of separation, then this place is it. This place where we now stand within the boundaries of Nandagram exemplifies the highest mood of love in separation.
Once a bumblebee mistook Srimati Radharani’s lotus feet to be actual lotuses as it buzzed and whirled around them. It has been revealed that Krishna came in the form of a black bumblebee just to see with His own eyes the condition of the gopis deep in the mood of separation. He also wanted to relish the nectarean mood of Srimati Radharani’s love. But witnessing their extrordinary symptoms and realizing the depth and magnitude of their love for Him he was amazed and wonderstruck. To try to evaluate the glories of Nandagram is beyond our ability to mentally tabulate because this place is far beyond all material considerations and designations. It is possible to give you a hint so you will be able to understand just a litle about how glorious Nandagram truly is.
Laksmi devi, the goddess of fortune is the consort and wife of Lord Narayana. She is constantly receiving all kinds of service in the mood of opulence and grandeur from all the residents of Vaikuntha; but she herself came here to Nandagram in all humility and disassociating herself from all splendor and luxury she executed devotional service for 24 hours just like a maidservant. Here even the goddess of fortune scrubbed pots and cleaned floors with her own hands. So such are the glories of Nandagram. This area is where the early childhood pastimes, the mischievous pranks, the playful jokes are scattered by the millions. And here also is the most intimate and intense mood of love in separation, vipralamba, exhibited.
Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur explains in the Tika, that Krishna lived from birth to three years and four months in Gokula. From Gokula they went to Vrindavan from three years and four months till He was six years and eight months then they moved to Nandagram from six years and eight months till He was ten. Then from the age of ten till 28 years and four months He lived in Mathura and then for the next 96 years and eight months he lived in Dwaraka until he was 125 years old.
If one has studied Srimad Bhagavatam a little one can perceive that during Krishna’s last days in Nandagram before departing for Mathura, there was an acute increase of demons harassing Nanda Maharaj’s community and the residents of Vraja. Kamsa in a frenzy to destroy both Balaram and Krishna sent his last most powerful demons, the bull demon Aristasura, the horse demon Kesi and the magician demon, Vyomasura. When these three had failed to return because of being killed by Krishna, Kamsa then decided that he better change his tactics. All the most powerful demons on the earth had been destroyed and annihilated by either Krishna or Balaram and Kamsa realized that the only way he would have a chance to kill the two Lords was to somehow get them both to come to Mathura. So as a last gasping, desperate hope, Kamsa sent for Akrura.
Kamsa knowing fully the art of diplomacy had Akrura sit down on a comfortable seat and placing his hand in his said, my dear Akrura, most benevolent one, I am depending on you to do me a favour out of your respect and friendship for me. Please go to Nandagram at once, without delay and bring Krishna and Balaram here to me in Mathura. Now when Akrura was called by Kamsa it was Dvadasi, he had fasted on the Ekadashi and early the next morning Kamsa had called him and ordered him to bring back Krishna and Balaram. Akrura was thinking, yes it is true I am being sent as a horrible messenger from a demon; but never the less this is my golden opportunity to see the lotus feet of Krishna and Balaram. Akrura of course knew that the two Lords were all powerful and that nothing could harm Them and even before breaking his Ekadashi fast he started off on his journey, which is actually against the rules and regulations. But Akrura thought, the wonderful nectar that I will receive by seeing the lotus faces of Krishna and Balaram will be millions of times more beneficial for me then properly breaking my fast, and besides I can break my fast by taking prasad at the house of the Lord.
When Akrura arrived in Nandagram and delivered the message, all the gopis began whispering, he should not be called Akrura, this means merciful, he should be called Krura, the unmerciful. He is so unkind he is taking our beloved Krishna away from us without even trying to console us. When Nanda Maharaja heard about this, his heart began to beat so rapidly in ansiety that he felt it could not be contained within his chest. When Mother Yashoda heard the news she fainted. The same Mother Yashoda who would run ten times to the fields and pasturing grounds each day to see if Krishna had eaten or if the food pleased Him or if He wanted something else. She would be constantly thinking, is He dressed nicely enough, does He need a bath, has He fallen down and hurt Himself, did I give Him enough sweets. As soon as Krishna would leave her sight she would begin to feel faint, and now Krishna was going all the way to Mathura. Who knows when He will return? She could not bear the thought and thinking like this she could not stop her tears and so she just cried continuosly. Seeing Krishna coming into the courtyard and realizing that He was still there with Her, she immediately took a big quilt and covered Him with it and embraced Him tightly so nobody could take Him away from her. It was Nanda Maharaja who after some time was finally able to persuade mother Yashoda to let Krishna go. All these wonderful pastimes took place in these sacred and holy grounds.
Srimati Radharani has reached the highest state of ecstasy, this state often turns into madness and delirium; but even in this acute state She would never come in front of people who were senior to Her in terms of age and position, as a matter of etiquette and respect. But now, even She could not control Herself any longer and right in front of Nanda Maharaja and Yashodamayi and all the senior members of the community, She began crying and rolling around on the ground. Then wailing hysterically She threw Herself down in front of the horses that were pulling the chariot that was taking Her beloved Krishna away from Her. Forcing Akrura to stop, she pulled Herself up by the very reins that were being used to take Her beloved away. Then somehow finding the strength, She ran to Lord Balaram’s side of the chariot and embracing His lotus feet with tears streaming from Her eyes begged Him as the elder brother not to allow Krishna, who was Her life and soul to ever depart but to remain here always with Her.