Vrindavan, 2016.08.23 (Urban Yogi): This is one of the many special and sacred places in Vrindavan, which devotees visit to remind them of the amazing and blissful pastime of Lord Krishna subduing the venomous serpent Kaliya.
Kaliya Ghat is just a three-minute walking distance from the famous Madanmohan temple of Srila Sanatan Goswami.
The bhajan kutir and samadhi of Shrila Prabodhananda Saraswati are right next to Kaliya Ghat, as well as those of a more recent bhajananandi, Jagadish Das Babaji Maharaj.
As a testimony of the Lord’s pastimes, the place still has the old kadamba tree that Krishna climbed up before jumping into the waters of the lake that Kaliya had poisoned. There actually used to be a small lake here that was a part of the great river Yamuna.
It is said that the poison of Kaliya was so powerful that all the vegetation, grass and trees near the lake died except for this tree. It was said that Garuda who envisioned that Lord Krishna will be coming to perform his pastimes, spilled some drops of amrita (the nectar of immortality) on this tree and that’s how it was able to sustain the effects of Kaliya’s poison.
Srimad Bhagavatam and also the Krishna Book by Srila Prabhupada, explains the beautiful pastime in details of how Lord Krishna tightening his turban,his belt, hitting his arms like a wrestler jumped into the dangerous, poisonous waters and sported in the water without any fear. Then, after the furious Kaliya attached him, Lord Krishna fought with it, jumped and began to dance like Shiva at the time of universal destruction on the several hoods of the wicked snake. Kaliya felt crushed by each step of Krishna and finally, as he vomited blood, all his pride in his power as the king of the Nagas was also crushed and he surrendered to Lord Krishna.
The Naga Patnis – the wives of Kaliya — came to his rescue and prayed to Lord Krishna to spare his life. Lord Krishna forgave Kaliya and spared him from the punishment he deserved, but ordered the snake to leave the surrounds of Yamuna immediately with an assurance that Garuda, the mighty king of birds, would not kill or eat him. Garuda would recognize that Krishna has been merciful to him because the hoods of Kaliya will have the imprints of Lord Krishna’s lots footprints marked there forever.
So similarly, Vaishnavas mark their foreheads with tilak, the urdhva pundra, as a sign of their surrender to Krishna’s lotus feet.
It is believed that the snake left Vrindavan to the sea and made Fiji its home. In traditional Fijian folklore, you can hear numerous stories of a great snake living in one of its caves. Many people believe that Kaliya is still living there. Also, Fiji has Iskcon’s famous Krishna Kaliya temple located in the heart of Lautoka city.
Bhakti Vinod Thakur, a great acharya of Gaudiya Vaishnavism writes that Kaliya represents cruel tendencies or anarthas like pride, deceit, harming others, and cruelty. Every Vaishnava needs to give up these tendencies and by meditating on Krishna, the conqueror of Kaliya, one receives his blessings to be freed from them.
This is the specially of the place Vrindavan. If you are lucky and keep your eyes and heart open, you can see so many of great devotees in Vrindavan leading a simple life, meditating on the Lord’s pastimes by going to the various places where he performed them, hearing Harikatha or going to kirtans and bhajans, all of which are readily available in the Dham.
Upon my visit to this sacred place I met this Babaji. I forgot his name, but I think it is Shyam Das. For some time, he was sitting there observing me and my family. As I started explaining about the Kadamba tree, he came up to us and started talking about Krishna’s pastime of Kaliya Daman, “Subduing the serpent Kaliya.” He even showed us how Krishna climbed the tree, where he put his feet, etc.
I asked him some questions about his life. He informed that he had been living in Vrindavan for the last 15 years. Originally from Gorakhpur, he came here once as a tourist and then just stayed. He gave up his family and friends for Krishna.
I asked him, “Did you ever try to go back, or make plans to?” He replied, saying, “What can I do now? Thakurji aur Yamunaji (Lord Krishna and Yamuna Devi) would not let me go. I am unable to move away from this place”. He showed me a small attic sort of place in a nearby building and told me that, he lives there. Especially in winter, when it gets cold he sleeps there.
I remembered a verse spoken by Srila Rupa Gosvami,
vaṁśī-nyastādhara-kiśalayām ujjvalāṁ candrakeṇa |
govindākhyāṁ hari-tanum itaḥ keśi-tīrthopakaṇṭhe
mā prekṣiṣṭhās tava yadi sakhe bandhu-sange ‘sti raṅgaḥ ||
My dear friend, if you are indeed attached to your worldly friends, do not look at the smiling face of Lord Govinda as He stands on the banks of the Yamuna at Kesi Ghat. Casting sidelong glances, He places His flute to His lips, which seem like newly blossomed twigs. His transcendental body, bending in three places, appears very bright in the moonlight.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.239).
Indeed, very few people have this great fortune of having the darshan of Lord Krishna in Tribhanga Form, body bent in three places and even few develop that great love and devotion that makes them the worldly attachments, family,friends, relations and assets insignificant.
As Lord Krishna himself says in Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7: Knowledge of the Absolute,
jñānavān māṁ prapadyate
vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti
sa mahātmā sudurlabhaḥ
After many births and deaths, he who is actually in knowledge surrenders unto Me, knowing Me to be the cause of all causes and all that is. Such a great soul is very rare.
Latest posts by Ramana Pingili (see all)
- Kaliya Ghat :: The place where Krishna subdued the many-headed serpent - August 27, 2016
- Some Shiva temples in Braj: Vaiṣṇavānāṁ yathā śambhuḥ - July 9, 2016
- The temples and sights of Madhuvan - July 7, 2016