Mathura, 2016.08.24 (VT): Today the whole world will dive into an ocean of joyful celebration at the coming of Janmashtami, the appearance day of Lord Sri Krishna. Every temple, ashram and preacher from every branch of Hinduism celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna with great pomp. The country’s big cities each have their own special events.
Most of the attention will go to Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura, and only a few people will take notice of Koile Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna in the nearby village of Koile Alipur. But there are more and more Brajvasis who will be drenched in the nectar of devotion by celebrating the pastime of Krishna’s appearance at Koile Ghat.
This is where the Braj Foundation will also be celebrating, for it is here that it undertook one of its first major and most successful projects.
Koile Ghat was a direct witness to the actions of Vasudevaji who came this way to cross the Yamuna on the night of the first Janmashtami, carrying the newborn baby Krishna in a basket on his head. As he crossed the river, balancing Krishna precariously on his head, Vasudev was overcome with a sense of panic from the rising water and rapid current. Actually, it was the excited river goddess, who recognized the baby as her eternal husband, and was swirling up to touch his feet.
But Vasudeva did not know that and so he called out “koi le ! koi le !” (“Someone take him!”) beseeching someone to take the baby as he felt he was being swept away. This is how the place came to be known as Koile Ghat. Vasudeva was saved when the all-knowing divine baby lowered his feet so that Yamunaji could touch them. The Yamuna subsided and Vasudeva was able to cross over safely to Gokul, which lies on the other side.
Satellite maps reveal that this particular spot is indeed where the Yamuna’s width is the least during her course in this region.
The renovation of Koile Ghat
Most of the mahants in Braj’s maths and monasteries had been giving attention to their own projects, temples and guesthouses, but for centuries the historical spots related to Krishna’s pastimes had once again been abandoned and fallen into ruin.
When we became aware of the situation at Koile Ghat, we not only had improvements made, restoring and beautifying the locale, but had an 8-foot figure of Vasudeva placed there in commemoration of that glorious event. The historic ghat was also rebuilt. The total cost of the work was Rs 18 lakh.
A village level maintenance committee named ‘Koile Ghat Sanrakshan Samiti’ was constituted to look after the ghat. The enthusiastic members take lead in organizing various festivals here like offering 125 thousand oil lamps every year on Yama Dvitiya (a day after Deepawali).
Recently, at the request of the devotees of Koile village, the Braj Foundation further spruced up the site by building a temple to the goddess Yamuna and some stone canopies or chhatris. A deity to Yamuna Devi was also consecrated in the temple.
Now the local villagers come here every evening for satsang, taking pleasure in bhajan and kirtan of the names of the Lord. It is as though the ecstatic moment of Krishna’s appearance on Janmashtami is being relived here on a daily basis.
Interestingly this is the most attractive view point of Yamuna. From this ghat one can see Gokul across the river, Vrindavan on your left and Mathura on the right. No other point at Yamuna in Braj gives you such a magnificent view. Any devotee who sits in the cooling shade of the trees and looks out on the banks of the Yamuna and the village of Gokul across the river, spontaneously begins to glorify Braj and Krishna. Glories to Braj Dham! Glories to Sri Krishna!
There are several dozen historic ghats like this on the banks of Yamuna where numerous leelas of Shri Radha Krishna were performed. All of them are in shambles and need immediate attention. In order to restore these ancient heritage ghats (banks) of river Yamuna a detailed study is being done by the research wing of Braj Foundation.
History Repeats Itself
In the summer of 2010, heavy rains led to flooding in the Yamuna. The water covered all the steps at Koile Ghat came as far as the Vasudevaji statue up to his waist, exactly as it had happened five thousand years ago. Brajwasis and pilgrims were so thrilled to see this rare leela being reenacted that they came in large numbers to behold that memorable scene with their own eyes. Press photographers risked their lives by entering the strong current of Yamuna flood waters to capture this memorable image with their cameras.
Yamuna Pujan Sthali
If you want to perform Yamuna pujan in Braj, you may not find a better place than this. Unlike other ghats in Mathura where you have to negotiate your way through congested lanes, heavy traffic chaos and where no car parking space is available for you, here you approach this transcendental site very comfortably from NH2, opp. Mathura Refinery Township. A proper road takes you to Koile Ghat where there is enough place for parking, followed by lush green garden and natural beauty.
The ghat lays within the precincts of the 12.5 hectare Ruchil Van, a forest that has also been revived by the Braj Foundation with the generous cooperation of the Indian Oil Corporation, to whom this land belongs. They have pledged to maintain it as a green area.