Vrindavan, 2018. 03. 07 (VT) We are continuing to uncover the glories of the ghats, buildings, and temples on ‘Vrindavan Parikrma’ along the route mentioned in Vrindavan Prakashmala, Mathura a Distirct Memorior, Sri Caitanya Prema Samsthana publications.
After passing Cheer Ghat, team VT arrives in Jai Singh Ghera, which comprises several historical places on the bank of the Yamuna. This is the place from where many cultural events are patronized and is a famous Rasa Lila venue.
This place is strategically very important for the modern development of Vrindavan. Mr. F.S. Growse, who was a British Collector of Mathura for six years until 1876, mentioned about Jai Singh Ghera in his book Mathura, A District Memoir.
He writes, “There are in Brinda-ban no secular buildings of any great antiquity. The oldest is the court, or Ghera, as it is called, of Sawai Jay Singh, the founder of Jaypur, who made Vrindavan his occasional residence during the time he was Governor of the Provinces of Agra (1721-1728). It is a large walled enclosure with a pavilion at one end, consisting of two aisles divided into five bays by piers of coupled columns of red sand stone. The riverfront of the town has a succession of ghats reaching for a distance of about a mile and a half. There beauty has been greatly marred by the religious mendicants who have take possession of all the graceful stone kiosques and utilized them for cooking places, blocking up the arches with mud walls and blackening the carved work with the smoke of their fires.”
Over the next two centuries, the site fell into ruin, although Jai Singh’s buildings were still standing. In 1961 Jai Singh Ghera was bought by Jagadguru Shri Chaitanya Sampradaya Acharya Shri Purushottam Goswami ji Maharaj, a leading priest of Shri Radharaman temple lineage of Goswamis, who trace their ancestry to Shri Gopal Bhatta Goswami, a close disciple of Shri Chaitanya. An energetic leader, Maharaj ji and his family and followers have established an Ashram which is again a thriving spiritual and cultural center.
In the 16th Century, when Vrindavan was still a forest, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came here and identified Gambhira among many other sites of Shri Krishna’s pastimes. He used to sit on the riverbank here for his spiritual practice.
When Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left Vrindavan, he gave charge to six of his most able followers, the six Goswamis, to establish Vrindavan as a pilgrimage centre where the pastimes of Shri Radha, Shri Krishna and their companions could be enjoyed. To his devotees, Shri Krishna never left Vrindavan. The Lord and His Divine Consort Radha Rani play out their pastimes even today, for those who have transcendental vision.
About 200 years after Mahaprabhu identified Gambhira, Raja Savai Jai Singh of Amber, the most powerful minister of the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, and a devout worshipper of the Divine Couple of Vrindavan, established a retreat for himself at this spot. He acquired about two and half acres of land where he constructed a house for himself; a pavilion on the riverfront where Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to sit; a shrine to the river at Shri Radha Krishna’s boat landing place, and a temple for his personal deity, Shri Nritya Gopal ji.
He established a spiritual and cultural centre that attracted notable philosophers, artists and scholars. He sponsored Rasa lila programs within the compound. In front of his house, he built a large platform where these musical dance dramas depicting the pastimes of Shri Krishna were performed for the first time outside a temple.
In 1972, the cultural and religious activities of this ashram were formally launched with the founding of Shri Chaitanya Prema Samsthana. The glorification of this divine place of Shri Shri Radha Govinda is portrayed. The artists are mostly the brajwasis performing the Rasa lila dressed in beautiful attires. Some of them portray the gopis, some play the role of Gopas and many other divine characters from the Krishna Lila itself.
One of the most popular attractions of Shri Dham Vrindavan, it is one of the few places in Braj itself that organizes rasa-lilas glorifying the playful pastimes of Shri Krishna. What makes the rasa mela at Jai Singh Ghera Ashram the most popular among the devotees is not only the enthusiasm of the family members of Shri Purushottam Goswami ji Maharaj, but also the way they organize it.
The devotees see their beloved lord who is the master of all the sixteen arts (kala) personified through the artists who take on His role. Whether it is one of the devotees’ all-time favorites: nritya lila, jhulan lila, govardhan lila or a display of the mischievous pastimes of lord Krishna along with His companions, the presentation is majestic at the same time full of rasa filling the devotees with the joy and delight of seeing their Istadev in front of their eyes.
However we describe it would just be a drop in the ocean of devotional love that flows in the ashram which has been blessed by Shri Radha and Krishna themselves, then subsequently by Shriman Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu’s mission has been magnificently glorified under the able guidance of Jagatguru Shri Purushottam Goswami ji Maharaj, who entered in the Nitya Seva of Shri Radha Raman on 21st February, 2017.
Currently, the activities at Jai Singh Ghera are prospering under the leadership of His Holiness Acharaya Shrivatsa Goswami ji Maharaj and Acharya Shri Venu Gopal ji Goswami ji Maharaj, the sons of Jagatguru Shri Purushottam Goswami ji Maharaj.
The compound of Jai Singh Ghera include some ghats on the bank of Yamuna. The ghats are namely Bhramar Ghat, Radha Ghat and Hanuman Ghat or Chaitanya Ghat.
Bhramar Ghat: According to legend, when Shri Krishna had gone to Mathura, leaving Shri Radha and her companions, the gopis, behind in Vraja, the inconsolable gopis used to sit on this ghat remembering their beloved Shri Krishna. One day Uddhava, Shri Krishna’s dear friend, arrived from Mathura to comfort them and ask about their well being.
His message was that they should know that Shri Krishna is none other than the God himself, and could in no way be separated from them. So there is no reason for them to grieve. In reply, the gopis spoke of their love for Shri Krishna, of their delight in caring for him serving him, feeding him, playing with him and dancing to his transcendentally melodious flute.
So great was their feeling that Uddhava was convinced that devotion like theirs was a more direct path to realization of Shri Krishna than all his knowledge and ritual practices. Just then a Bhamara (large bee) landed on the ground near Shri Radha’s lotus feet and approached to touch them. But Shri Radha pulled back saying “Go away! You are fickle, like Him (Krishna), and flit from one flower to the other. Go away!” Some say that the Bhramar was the embodiment of Uddhava’s newfound devotion. According to another legend, when Radha and Krishna sat here, the sweet fragrance that came from them attracted a swarm of black bees (bhramar). From these events the place came to be known as Bhramar Ghat.
Shri Vilvamangala Thakur, author of Krishna Karnamrita performed penance, here on this ghat. He had previously been attached to a prostitute who once chastised him for lack of devotion to Krishna. Later he tore out his eyes to force his mind to become detached from the flickering material beauties of this world. It is said that here in Vrindavan, Lord Krishna used to personally serve prasada to Vilvamangala. When Lord Chaitanya heard shlokas frrishna Karnamrita. He would go into a trance of devotional ecstasy. This ghat was built by Maharaja Jai Singh.
Due to apathy on the government’s part, an illegal road was built between Yamuna and Bhramar Ghat by dumping debris. The road has become a blockade so that Yamuna water can’t reach Krishna’s favorite ghat.
Before Bhramar Ghat, there was a small ghat built for women. This ghat, known as Radha Ghat, was built by Sawai Jai Singh. In contrast to the other ghats, this ghat was built with an enclosure of walls, so no one can see in from outside. This special ghat was built keeping in view the privacy of the women.
Hanuman Ghat, which was later also called Chaitanya Ghat, adjoins Radha Ghat. According to the Vrindavan Prakashmala, this ghat was built by Rathod Jagat Singh, a king from Rajasthan. There used to be a Hanuman Temple on this ghat. Some say that Lord Chaitanya took bath in Yamuna at this place.
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