Radhakunda, 2016.10.23 (VT): Thousands took bath in Radha Kund at midnight on Sunday on the occasion of the appearance day of Shri Radha Kunda. Radha Kund appeared at midnight. Hundreds of Bus full of devotees went to Radha Kund from Vrindavan and other places to take holy bath in the kund. Bathing in Radha Kund is especially beneficial on this day. This day is marked as the holiest day in the auspicious month of Kartik.
This day is known as Ahoi Ashtami or Bahulashtami, which falls on the eighth day of waning moon of the Kartik month or on the Krishna Paksha Ashtami. This festival is very unique in Braj region as mothers keep fast for the well-being of their son. Mother Yashoda used to observe this fast for the well being of her son Shri Krishna.
A holy dip in Radha Kund on the auspicious day of Ahoi Ashtami is considered very significant. It is believed that the childless couples having problem in conceiving a child is blessed with a child if they take bath in Radha Kund on this auspicious night.
The midnight time, which is known as Nishita time, is considered the significant moment to take the holy dip. Hence bathing begins at midnight and continues throughout the night. To seek the blessings of Radharani to conceive soon, couples perform puja after standing in the water tank and offer Kushmanda, white raw pumpkin, which is famously known as Petha. Kushmanda is offered after decorating it with red cloth. Even those couples, whose wishes were fulfilled, revisit Radha Kund as gratitude of thanks to Goddess Radha Rani.
As the story goes that while Shri Krishna was present in Braj at the end of the Dwapara Yuga, Kamsa was doing everything he could to kill him in order to avert the prediction that the eighth child of Devaki would assassinate him. He sent demons one after the other, many of whom were endowed with mystic powers like the ability to transform into terrifying and murderous forms. One such demon was Arishtha, whos name means ill luck, misfortune or disaster. Arishtha took the form of a giant bull, and it was in this shape that he came to Vraja with the mission of attacking and killing Krishna.
However, as with all the other misguided and malevolent friends and hagers-on of the wicked king Kamsa, Arishtha was no match for Krishna who easily disposed of him bringing relief to all the Brajwasis who had been intimidated by the frightening bull. After he had killed Arishtha, Krishna came as usual to meet Radha and her sakhis to enjoy his pastimes with them. However, being provoked by Lalita and the others, she said she said she didn’t have anything to do with him, as he had become impure from the act of killing a bul. The bull, after all, is the very symbol of dharma. When Krishna asked what he could do to be free of his sin, she said that nothing short of bathing in all the seven sacred rivers would be effective.
Yogeshwar Shri Krishna, showing off for his beloved, pushed his heel into the ground and made a large hole. Then he invited the sacred rivers, who appeared in their personified forms and filled the hole to make a beautiful bathing pond. And so Krishna took his purifying dip and the ponds was given the name Shyam Kund. After bathing, Krishna began to tease the gopis, “ Now that I have bathed in the holy water of Shyam Kund, I am free from any fault, but I am afraid that because you sided with Arishthasura, you have become too impure to touch. You are going to have to do something to counteract your fault.”
With that, the Radha and the Gopis became a little arrogant and said, “You have your kund, so we will have ours. Our Radha is no less powerful than you. Then, remarking the huge cavity created by the bull’s hooves on the western side of Shyam Kund, they decided to make her kund there. They broke their bangles to make tools for digging and began to make their own hole.
Within minutes, Radha and her friends were finished; the hole was ready but there was no water in it. Krishna and his friends watched and laughed at the Gopis predicament. Nevertheless, Krishna generously offered to fill Radha’s kund with water from his tank, but Radha and the Gopis, still proud refused.
Lalita then said, “ Why don’t we form a bucket chain to the Manasi Ganga and fill it up with water from there?” And so this is what they did.
Then, on Krishna’s order, all the holy tirthas who had come to fill Shyam Kund appeared and offered choice praises and obeisance unto Shri Radhika. Being satisfied with their worship, Radha Rani gave them permission to enter into her hund. And so Krishna broke the dam that separated the two ponds and their waters merged.
Hearing about the appearance of Radha Kund, Yogmaya Paurnamasi Devi called Vrinda Devi and instructed her to plant various trees and vines on all four banks of the kunds. According to her own wish, Vrinda Devi also constructed jeweled ghats, i.e, steps leading down to the water, in order to facilitate Radha and Krishna’s pastimes. She arranged for beautiful kunjas to be laid out with different kinds of trees, vines and flowers. These kunjas were sassigned to Shrimati Radha Rani’s eight principal sakhis. On both sides of each ghat she had charming wish-yeilding kalpa vriksha trees planted. Singing male and female parrots, pigeons, cuckoos and peacocks are always sitting on the branches of these trees, and the kundas are filled with golden, yellow, green, red, blue and white lotus flowers.
This Shri Radha Kund is the place where Shri Shri Radha Madhava have their most confidential eternal midday pastimes, as described at great length in the Govinda Lilamirta, and other such texts. Besides playing their water sports here, they swing, play pasha, drink mead and have their noon time meal, visiting the kunjas of skhis which encircle the kund.
Ahoi Ashtami or Ahoi Aathe is a festival that is integral to Vraja culture. Brajwasis have been traditionally observing this festival. Since Krishna’s mother celebrated it for Krishna’s well-being, so do the Brijwasi women. The women organize special puja with an earthen pot full of water and a calendar bearing the story of Ahoi Ashtami. Then the sons take bath with that water on the day of Chhoti Diwali, the day before Diwali. It is believed the sons will remain healthy if they take bath with that water.
On this day, the mothers fast from dawn to dusk, breaking it at twilight after seeing the stars in the sky. Some women break the fast after getting sight of the moon, but this is more challenging as the moon rises late in the night on Ahoi Ashtami.
Once upon a time, there lived a woman in a village. She had seven sons. One day she went to the forest to bring clay for the renovation and painting of her home. She started digging the ground above a foxhole. By accident, her spade broke through the ground into the hole and killed the fox cubs in the den. The woman felt very sorry and sympathetic, but being helpless she returned home from the forest.
When the mother fox returned to her den, she began to lament at the death of her children and prayed to God to punish the perpetrator of the deed. “May that person suffer the loss of her children just as I have !”
As a result of the curse, all her seven sons died within the year. One day she narrated her woes to some of the elderly ladies in the village. She was crying and told them that she didn’t commit the sin intentionally. The ladies appreciated her honesty and told her that by confessing her sin she had atoned her half of the sin. They suggested the woman to pray the goddess Ahoi Bhagwati by making an image of her. “By the grace of the goddess your sin will be cast off.”
The woman kept fast on the Kartik Krishna Ashtami and then onwards she started praying and keeping fast regularly. By the power of her prayer the God’s grace was showered on her and she was able to get her seven of her sons back. Since then, it became a ritual to worship the goddess Ahoi Ashtami Bhagwati every year on this day. The image of Ahoi Devi is usually made with red color on the mud walls.
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