History of Vrindavan

Introduction

When the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Sri Krishna descends to earth for performing His transcendental pastimes, He brings with Him His own eternal abode known as Goloka Vrindavana, along with His most intimate associates, friends, servants, and various other transcendental paraphernalia. Just like a King who goes to another country takes with him his personal friends, family members, ministers and secretaries, as part of his royal retinue.

The Lord’s transcendental abode which is also known as the dhama, is non-different from the Lord’s eternal abode in the spiritual world, in fact it is an exact replica. By mundane material vision the dhama may appear like any other place on earth, but to the pure devotees and perfect yogis, the dhama is a completely spiritual abode saturated with it’s own transcendently surcharged atmosphere.

The Discovery of Vrindavana by Lord Chaitanya

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the most munificent incarnation of God, was known as the Golden Avatar, because His bodily complexion was like molten gold. He was the direct incarnation of Lord Sri Krishna and appeared on earth at the holy place known as Navadvipa West Bengal only 500 years ago in the year 1486. The purpose of His divine appearance on earth was to reveal to the world, the yuga-dharma, or the religion for this age. He also rediscovered the most sacred places of Vrindavana which had been lost in time. The religious process that Lord Chaitanya revealed to the world is known as the sankirtana yajna or the congregational chanting of the Lord’s holy names:

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare.

This is the easiest and most sublime process for God realization and even a child can follow it. In this dark age of Kali-yuga, intelligent men of the world can get true knowledge about God simply by performance of this sankirtana-yajna (sacrifice). It was in the year 1515 that Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana, with purpose of locating the lost holy places associated with Lord Sri Krishna’s transcendent pastimes. Lord Chaitanya wandered through the different sacred forests of Vrindavana in a spiritual trance of divine love, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, sometimes dancing in ecstasy constantly chanting the holy names of Krishna. By His divine spiritual power, He was able locate all the important places of Lord Krishna’s pastimes in and around Vrindavana. When Lord Chaitanya first arrived in Vraja, He stayed at brahmana’s house in Mathura. He would walk around Vrindavana every day visiting the sacred places connected with Lord Krishna’s pastimes. Later, Lord Chaitanya moved His residence to Akrura Ghata and would daily visit Imlitala, where He sat looking at the river Yamuna while chanting Hare Krishna on His japa beads constantly shedding tears in an ecstatic mood of divine love. After a few months, Lord Chaitanya left for Jagannatha Puri and directed two of His dear most followers, Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis to proceed immediately to Vrindavana, not only to excavate the places of Lord Krishna’s pastimes but also to write books on the science of Bhakti yoga, in order to establish the teachings of Lord Chaitanya for the benefit of all future generations.

The Sacred River Yamuna

The beautiful Yamuna, India’s most sacred river flows through the transcendental land of Vrindavana. A bath in this river is said to be one hundred times more purifying than a bath in the Ganges. The reason being that even though the Ganges was once touched by the feet Lord Vishnu, it was the Yamuna where Lord Krishna Himself played and swam with His cowherd boyfriends. He also sported in its waters with the beautiful gopi damsels of Vraja.

Starting from high up in the Himalayan mountains at Yamunotri, the river Yamuna slowly makes its way to the plains of India until it reaches Sri Vrindavana dhama.

Formally, this river use to encircle Vrindavana, but now only touches this holy town on two sides leaving many of the ancient ghats high and dry. Pilgrims still flock to these most sacred ghatas and touch their heads to the sand, which is accepted to have the same effect as actually bathing in the holy river. The traditional bathing place of most pilgrims is at Kesi ghata, where Lord Krishna bathed after killing the Kesi demon. The Yamuna has been flowing here at Kesi ghata since ancient times. One who takes bath in the river Yamuna is freed from all past sins and contamination of this material world. That person will also gradually become a pure devotee and achieve liberation by returning to the spiritual world to personally associate with Lord Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Statements about Vrindavana

It is understood that Mathura City is the transcendental abode of Lord Krishna. It is not an ordinary material city, for it is eternally connected with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Vrindavana is within the jurisdiction of Mathura and still continues to exist. Because Mathura and Vrindavana are intimately connected with Krishna eternally, it is said that Lord Krishna never leaves Vrindavana. At present the place known as Vrindavana in the district of Mathura, continues its position as a transcendental place and certainly anyone who goes there becomes transcendentally purified.

“We must understand the transcendental importance of Mathura, Vrindavana and Navadvipa dhamas. Anyone who executes devotional service in these places certainly goes back home, back to Godhead after giving up his body.”

Whenever the Supreme Personality appears, He appears in Mathura because of His intimate connection with this place. Therefore, although Mathura and Vrindavana are situated on this planet earth, they are transcendental abodes of the Lord.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.1.28 purport)

“The ideal place to execute Krishna consciousness is Braja-bhumi, or Vrindavana, where the people are naturally inclined to love Krishna and Krishna is naturally inclined to love them.” (Chaitanya Caritamrita, Madhya-lila 4.95)