Mathura, 2017.10.30 (VT): The recent declaration of Vrindavan Nagar Palika Parishad and Barsana Nagar Panchayat here as ‘holy pilgrim sites’ by the Uttar Pradesh government has been warmly welcomed by most of the local people, but for many residents of Braj, the announcement was not far reaching enough.
Residents of Barsana and Vrindaban are happy, but those in other of the significant holy places related to Krishna in Braj, such as Gokul, Mathura, Goverdhan, Rawal, Nandgaon, Mahaban and Baldeo feel as though they are being neglected. This is resulting in a call in some areas to expand the tirth concept to include the entirety of 84-kos Braj.
Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi, trustee of Srikrishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan wrote an open letter to the Chief Minister in which he welcomes the declaration but laments that there were many mistakes in the letter from the Religious Affairs Department.
We are very pleased that the State Government’s Religious Affairs Department has announced in a declaration dated 27.10.2017 that Vrindavan and Barsana in the Mathura district are important locations from both a historical and a tourism perspective. Therefore those areas that were formerly under the Vrindavan municipal government and those that are part of the Barsana Panchayat are being declared as holy places of pilgrimage. For this we congratulate you.
However we are astonished to also see that in the announcement it was said that Vrindavan is Krishna’s birthplace and Barsana is that of Radharani, when these are the places where Radha and Krishna grew up, but not where they were born. This is casting into doubt the authority of holy scriptures like the Srimad Bhagavatam, which clearly state this.
It is widely known that Krishna’s birthplace was in Mathura, where he appeared in Devaki’s womb in the prison of King Kamsa, and that of Radharani in Rawal village in Mahavan.
It would have been proper to include Krishna’s birthplace in Mathura, the land that gives liberation, and Radharani’s birthplace of Rawal along with Vrindavan and Barsana as such holy pilgrimage sites.
Even though the intention of the Government may be to include the entire area within the 84-kos parikrama circumference to ultimately be declared a holy place of pilgrimage, they are doing so in a clumsy fashion. It would have made more sense to start from the birthplace of Lord Krishna and his pleasure potency, Srimati Radharani.
We therefore request the Religious Affairs Dep’t to correct their official announcement in accordance with the position of the scriptures and to include Mathura and Rawal as official holy pilgrimage sites so that they can also be protected and developed in accordance with their religious and spiritual significance.
Signed, Gopeshwar Nath Chaturvedi,
member, Managing Committee,
Sri Krishna Janma Sthan Seva Samiti.
Others in the political realm such as Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) district chief Kunvar Narendra Singh, said such a declaration was made to please two state cabinet ministers from Mathura. He said that the declaration was made at the eleventh hour to influence the upcoming municipal elections. The State Election Commission announced civic polls in three phases from November 22.
The opposition parties consider these efforts on the part of the BJP government to be blatant attempts at polarizing the religious populations of the accusing Adityanath Yogi of pursuing a “hard core Hindutva agenda.”
According to Jagannath Poddar, Vrindavan environmental and heritage activist, “We are not opposed to the idea of expanding the pavitra tirth sthal concept to include more of Braj. In fact, in the scriptures such as the Bhagavatam, Vrindavan is often used as a name for the entirety of the Braj area, which is Krishna’s lila sthali.”
He raised practical problems that would have to be faced: “It is hard to see how it would be practically possible to enforce restrictions on liquor and meat sales in the whole of Braj, or in a large city like Mathura, where there is a large Muslim and secular population that would put up a lot of resistance.”
Government estimates state that approximately 30 millions visitors come to Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana every year. About half of these visit Vrindavan and 6 million come to Barsana. Of these, about 60,000 were from foreign countries.
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