Radha Bawri (See Gallery) must be considered a treasure of Vrindavan and given all protection and all facility to preserve its environment in as authentic a fashion as possible. When the Mahanta talks about the necessity for a natural environment for the perfection of the rasika path of bhajan, he is communicating Vrindavan’s essential message, and that is a message that is being increasingly lost in the urbanization and “monetization” of Vrindavan.
For Vrindavan to remain authentic, authentic places of the Vrindavan culture must be protected and nourished.
As I see it, Radha Bawri is able to exist in large part because it is surrounded on two sides by the Gurukul land, on the southern side by an empty field belonging to the ashram and used for the cowshed. On the western side is the encroaching Rajpur village.
Rajpur is not particularly noted as a place for temples or ashrams, and the people living there are still mostly villagers culturally, even though occupationally the percentage of farmers is probably much less than it was a generation ago. I did not ask, but I got the impression that it is largely upper caste. In other words, it can still be designated like that!
I also noticed that there are a few new ashrams of the current, low-end, urban style going up. There are still other empty areas on the other side of Rajpur on the way to the Parikrama Marg. In general, the southern part of Vrindavan within the Parikrama Marg or perimeter, from Mathura Road to the Yamuna, is less developed than the north. This is changing rapidly.
The Gurukula area itself is quite large and it is entirely astonishing that it is still empty, with only a few buildings from the Arya Samaj heyday in the late 19th early 20th century style. Here and there are a few ruins of what were once nice small buildings. The “university” itself is an interesting looking place and I will have to investigate. It is quite a treasure in itself.
The land is being entirely neglected. It is covered with scrub acacia and a few large trees near the pathway going through the property, but it is becoming increasingly used as a dumping ground. In this day and age, unless there is active protection, deterioration sets in very fast. The situation is dire everywhere. The ashram itself is not entirely able to deal with its refuse and that is taking on unsightly proportions, with the expected effects.
So I am calling on all Brajvasis and the government officials and other wellwishers of the community to develop this area as a park of a Tatia Sthan type nature, a place where peacocks can thrive and even monkeys find a natural home. It is difficult to grow things where the water is poor, but trees can be made to grow in Vrindavan. Let’s spread the Tatia Sthan mood instead of killing it. I think this, perhaps more than anything else, is what Sewak Sharanji meant when he talked about a “human sanctuary” in Vrindavan.
Jai Sri Radhe!
The photos of the Gurukul area and this one taken at Radha Bawri are from July 2011. The rest of those photos can be seen in my Facebook album.