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Beginning of Radha-Govinda Jhulana-yatra

So today is a very super-excellent auspicious day. It is Ekadashi tithi in the month of Shravana — also known as Shravani Ekadashi. We also celebrated Guru-purnima in the month of Shravana and also it was the start of Chaturmasya. And soon after fifteen days we will celebrate the disappearance day of Srila Rupa Gosvamipada. Finally, the Jhulana-utsava begins today in Vrindavana and ends in five days.

I want to speak a few words about Srimati Radhika — how She comes from Yavata to Varsanagaon. In this regard, Gurudeva very nicely explained that in this month of Shravana, according to the Vedic culture in Vrindavana, how all married ladies return back from their father in-law’s house to their parents’ house — pitri-griha. So this is the tradition that has been going on for a long time. Moreover, all the young girls of Vraja also came to their parent’s home in Varsana from their father in-law’s house. These young married girls are staying in their father’s house for at least one month and some also remain for the whole four months of Chaturmasya. Though, most of them are staying for at least one month.

Shravana month is very important in our Vraja tradition and in India this is included in the varsha-ritu — the rainy season. Now in the present times the climate has completely changed, but according to our shastra, at the time of Krishna, the Vraja rainy season was called rim-jhim varsha. Sometimes it does not rain so much, instead there is a light drizzle. But at other times, there is very heavy rain since it is the month of Shravana. In the rainy season people are overjoyed because, in Vraja, a few months before there is so much heat, which is also known as grishma-ritu. Grishma means the summer season and especially in Vraja, you cannot believe that sometimes the temperature reaches fifty-five degrees. However, the temperature is usually between forty and forty-five degrees.

Gurudeva used to say that sometimes the rays of the sun are so hot that the skin of a deer burns - ‘hiran kee chamadi jal rahee hai’ - they are also suffering from the very hot rays of the sun. In Vraja especially one very dangerous gust of wind blows called loo (scalding). This kind of gust of wind is very hot and if that air enters into your body, then it is very dangerous, maybe resulting in death. During this time, Vraja is completely dry and dust is blowing everywhere. Everybody in Vraja feels a slight discomfort because of this, even the trees are completely dry. Also, people cannot sleep at night because of the heat and the loo is blowing, which makes it not so easy to tolerate.

Nowadays people use many kinds of modern technology, like air conditioning, to cool themselves. But in ancient times they tolerated the harsh conditions by themselves. Even a tortoise shelters himself in the mud because the Yamuna river is almost dry. However, when the rainy season arrives then everybody’s heart is completely overjoyed, since after the harsh dry conditions comes new life (nava-jivana) in the form of rains. So therefore, the month of Shravana is also known as the start of the rainy season.

Srila Shukadeva Gosvamipada also very nicely describes the rainy season in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. At this time, the farmers cultivate the land and also all the ponds and rivers are full of water. Sometimes when it rains for the whole day and night, the frogs celebrate by making sounds all night long. In the rains, the frogs appear from their holes and jump into the shallow water. But little do they know that they are inviting their own death, because when a frog makes a sound then a snake is able to hear it, eventually killing the frog with his bite.

Nevertheless, everybody’s heart is overjoyed in Vraja this month as there is a special celebration happening, called Jhulana-mahotsava. In Sri Krishna-bhavanamrita, Govinda-lilamrita and Ananda-vrindavana-champu, which are written by Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura and Kavi Karnapura respectively; they very nicely glorify the Jhulana-yatra (swing festival) of Vraja.

According to Vraja tradition, this festival continues for four months, but more commonly in present times, it takes place in the first month of Shravana. And thus, this maha-mahotsava (great festival) is celebrated by all Vrajavasis, especially the young girls — vrindavana-mahima — this is the glory of Vrindavana.

Yogamaya very nicely arranges the tamala and kadamba trees. Especially in Vrindavana, there are two types of kadamba; one is called Eri Kadamba and another is called Bokul Kadamba. In this way, the tamala tree and kadamba tree very nicely celebrate this festival too.

So all the girls of Vraja had already gone back to their parent’s homes, except for Srimati Radhika who was eagerly waiting for Her brother, Sridama, to come and take Her to Varsana. In this way, the first day of Shravana passed and also the second day, but Sridama still had not come. Sometimes She would go to the top of the roof of Her house and look towards Varsana and think to Herself, “When will My brother Sridama come?” Though for some time, Srimati Radhika did not see Her brother Sridama coming and She was becoming more and more anxious thinking again and again, “When will My brother Sridama come?”

Suddenly Srimati Radhika saw some girls who were collecting wood in the forest — the Pulinda girls —She called out to them, “If you are going to Varsana, then you must ask My father, Vrishabhanu Maharaja, when My brother Sridama will come.” Already three days had passed and Srimati Radhika could no longer tolerate this waiting. Then all of a sudden, She saw Her brother Sridama coming! Srimati Radhika had already packed all Her clothes, and when Sridama arrived, giving up all Her shyness, She opened the door and ran towards him. She called out to him, “O My brother Sridama! Sridama!” Then Srimati Radhika jumped on the chest of Her brother Sridama and started to cry. This is the culture of Vraja; all the young married girls, they have to return back to their parent’s homes. But She did not wait for anything, very quickly She told Her brother “We have to go!” Finally, they both returned to Varsana.

In anticipation, in Varsana, Vrishabhanu Maharaja was looking out from the rooftop, also thinking to himself , “When will my daughter Srimati Radhika arrive?” When Vrishabhanu Maharaja had the first glimpse of Srimati Radhika in the distance, he immediately came down from the top of his house to open the door. Thereafter, Srimati Radhika jumped on the chest of Vrishabhanu Maharaja and began to cry. She said, “Why did you not send My brother Sridama earlier? I was waiting for such a long time!”

yugāyitaṁ nimeṣeṇa cakṣuṣā prāvṛṣāyitam

śūnyāyitaṁ jagat sarvaṁ govinda-viraheṇa me

Shikshashtaka (7)

[O Govinda! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from My eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.]

Three days had passed before Sridama came. But She was thinking that maybe three million ages of Brahma had gone by. For this regard, Vrishabhanu Maharaja also embraced Srimati Radhika to his chest and cried; this is natural because Srimati Radhika is hladini-shakti, the pleasure potency of Krishna. One who touches the pleasure potency, automatically their heart will melt, and this is what Vrishbhanu Maharaja experienced.

Vrishabhanu Maharaja told “O Srimati Radhika! This is not my fault. Everyday I said to him, “You have to go and bring your sister”, but Sridama was always saying “Okay tomorrow I will go. Today I have this work or that work to do.” In this way, Vrishabhanu Maharaja pacified Srimati Radhika. Afterwards, Srimati Radhika met Her mother, Kirtida-sundari and became tearful. They discussed together many pastimes which had recently taken place in Varsana. Finally, Srimati Radhika met all Her sakhis (girlfriends), especially Lalita, Vishakha, Rupa Manjari and others. They had all been waiting for Srimati Radhika in Varsana. Subsequently, they all rode the jhulana (swing) on top of the mountain of Varsana called Brahma Parvata. In Varsana, Brahmaji and Vishnu both manifested in the form of mountains named Brahma Parvata and Vishnu Parvata, respectively. If you go to Varsana and do parikrama, that is called Sankari-khora parikrama, then you can see Brahma Parvata on the right and Vishnu Parvata on the left side.

So Brahmaji manifested in the form of a mountain and on the top of it Srimati Radhika’s very nice beautiful place — Sringara Bhavana. At this place, Srimati Radhika and Krishna are meeting together with all the sakhis, and Тhey also perform the Jhulana-yatra there. The top of the mountain is called Radharani’s place. Although that is not the birthplace of Srimati Radhika, that is the place of Srimati Radhika vilasa-krida-bhumi (place of pleasure pastimes). It’s the place where Radha, Krishna and all the sakhis perform sweet lila.

Srimati Radhika’s actual birthplace is the house of Vrishabhanu Maharaja and Kirtida-devi, that is their palace in the lap of the mountain. Krishna, who is very tricky, sometimes used to come there and meet with Srimati Radhika. So in this way, Radharani and all Her sakhis arranged very nice and beautiful Jhulana-yatra.

As previously mentioned, in this month of Shravana, the rain is just drizzling — rim-jhim varsha — Gurudeva would use this word. Also, the gopis wore very nice, beautiful silken saris and their bodies are completely soaked with the rain, and they are all singing this traditional Vraja song:

jhūlā jhūle rādhā-dāmodara vṛndāvana me

kaisī chāī hariyālī ālī kuñjana me (1)

[Radha and Damodara are swinging back and forth on a swing in Vrindavana. O friend, how lush is the greenery in the forest bowers.]

ita nanda ko dulāro, uta bhānu kī dulārī

jorī lāge ati pyārī basi nainana me (2)

[On one side is the dear son of Nanda, on the other side is the dear daughter of Vrishabhanu Maharaja. They appear so charming together. I keep Them within my sight.]

jamunā ke kūla, pahira suraṅga dukūla

taise khila rahe phūla in kadamana me (3)

[On the bank of the Yamuna, They wear beautiful, colorful garments. Oh, how the flowers are blossoming on these kadamba trees!]

In this way the Vraja gopis performed sweet Jhulana-mahotsava, and Srimati Radhika and all the sakhis were completely absorbed in the celebration of Jhulana-mahotsava. The Jhulana-mahotsava is not only celebrated in Vraja, but in other places too. However, the main festivities are in Varsana on top of the mountain — Brahma Parvata. Sometimes the gopis also perform the Jhulana-mahotsava in Lalita-kunda. When you go on Vraja-mandala parikrama, maybe you have seen this beautiful place — on one side of Lalita-kunda is Nandagaon and on the other side is Uddhava-kyari. There are also very nice beautiful kathas about this pastime.

The gopis made a very nice arrangement in this place and they very beautifully decorated the swing. Also, Srimati Radhika and the gopi’s clothes are decorated in such a nice way. And nearby one kunja, Lalita-devi is making a garland. In the meantime, Narada Rishi came along and asked “O Lalita! What are you doing here?” Lalita-devi replied “I am making a garland for Krishna, but this garland perhaps is too big or too short for Krishna. For this reason, I am going to break it and make a new one.” Then Narada Rishi said “O Lalitе! Listen, Krishna is very close to your kunda here, He’s herding the cows, if you ask me then maybe I can call Krishna, then you can take measurements and in a proper way make the garland for Him.” Lalita-devi responded, “O this is good!”

Thereafter, Narada Rishi called out to Krishna, who agreed to come along to see Lalita-devi. So, Lalita-devi was able to take the measurements she needed to make the garland. Incidentally, at that time Srimati Radhika was not present there. And thus, Narada Rishi suggested “O Krishna! Now Srimati Radhika is not here so Lalita can sit with You on this swing.”

Subsequently, Krishna and Lalita both seated themselves on the swing, then Narada Rishi left that place and came in the kunja of Srimati Radhika and chanting this name “Lalita Krishna, Lalita Krishna, Lalita Krishna” and Narada Muni he played the vina and chanting this song “Lalita Krishna, Lalita Krishna...” Then Srimati Radhika asked “Hey everyday you are chanting Radhe Krishna, Radhe Krishna, so today why are you chanting Lalita Krishna, Lalita Krishna?” Then Narada Rishi told “O Radhe look how Krishna is a big cheater. Now You are not in the swing place so now Krishna did not wait for You and Krishna is sitting with Lalita and also they are performing this lila and pulling and pushing the swing. So for this regard I have come here and the sakhis they are singing this song:

jhūlā jhūle lalitā-kṛṣṇa vṛndāvana me

kaisī chāī hariyālī ālī kuñjana me

In this way Narada Rishi was saying all this and Srimati Radhika was saying “How possible? All the sakhis, they must wait for Me.” But Narada Rishi told, “You can see.” Then Srimati Radhika came out from Her kunja. She saw that Krishna is sitting on the swing and the sakhis are pulling and pushing Him. Then Srimati Radhika did mana and did not come there on that swing. Evening time is over and Krishna is thinking “What to do now, why is Srimati Radhika not coming?” Krishna came in the kunja of Srimati Radhika and then Srimati Radhika became very angry. Then Krishna pacified Srimati Radhika, He said “O Radhike this is not My fault, Narada Rishi actually arranged these things so I sat with Lalita and...” In this way Krishna pacified Srimati Radhika’s mana then again Srimati Radhika came in the swing place. Radha-Krishna sat together and they performed sweet lila, swing lila, in that place.

Bolo Jhulana-yatra maha-mahotsava ki jaya!

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

The month of Shravana ki jaya!

Date: 16 July 2020 Location: Zoom


Transcriber: Indira dasi (UK) Editor: Chandrika dasi (UK), Damodara dasa (UK), Sanatana dasa (UK)

Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Chandrika dasi (UK) Image: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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