I finally got out to Radha Kund yesterday. The trip is not without difficulties, as the flyover crossing the railroad tracks at Chattikara is being done with maximum inconvenience to everyone. Why they cannot leave some kind of facility for vehicle traffic while the overpass is being built is beyond me. Tempos and other vehicles leave you at the Mathura-Agra highway and make you walk the 200 meters or so up to the railroad tracks, where you have to climb under the gates, cross the tracks and then another 50 meters or so to find your next mode of transport. Evidently, people are accustomed to being taken for granted and their needs ignored.
At any rate, after visiting with a friend in the Radha Kund village, I made my way to the Kund itself. I was delighted by the results of the samskara efforts. I wish I had not lost my camera, as I would like to show everyone just how nice it looks. The three kunds--Radha, Shyam and Lalita--are all clad in decorated pink sandstone. Many of the entrance points to the kunds have also been given nicely made gates of the same material. The buildings that are at the confluence of the kunds have also been beautified, giving an overall positive impression.
There is no doubt in my mind that Radha Kund is one of the most powerful spiritual points I have ever been to. Radha's name immediately came to my throat and a feeling that I had come to my true spiritual home.
It was 3 in the afternoon on a fairly ordinary day, which may have explained it, but there was an overall atmosphere of peace.
After visiting the Krishna Chaitanya Shastra Mandir, I started on my way around the parikrama marg. The new road is nicely made, but even at 3 in the afternoon, a number of cars came honking by, filled with tourists doing their car parikrama.
As I have done each of the last few times I have gone to Radha Kund, I stopped at the Panchayat offices in the Raj Bari and talked to the people there about stopping car parikrama.
It would be a fairly easy thing to place a gate at the entrance way to the parikrama path and to oblige all people to go around the Kundas on foot. It is only a few hundred meters at most, even the the old and invalid could do it.
What I stressed to the people in the Panchayat office was the same as what we are saying in the BVHA: By promoting vehicle traffic, the local people suffer. No one will spend money locally if they are just speeding through.
Besides, those who are in vehicles ruin the atmosphere for everyone else. The beautiful peaceful and spiritually charged atmosphere is immediately ruined by people in cars who push their way through the pilgrims--many of whom do the parikrama lying down. When the spiritual atmosphere is ruined, then Radha Kund's principal wealth is lost.
As I continued on my way, when the next cars came by, I stopped them in a crusading spirit and spoke to the driver. "Do you think you are getting any spiritual benefit," I asked, "by driving around the Kunds? All the shastras say to do parikrama barefoot. They say it is an offense to enter the temple in a palanquin or vehicle. And yet you do it.
"Not only that, but you commit offenses to the pilgrims who are here. Piety is to help someone remember Krishna, but you make people forget Krishna by honking your horn. Do you not think that you are committing an offense to the devotees?"
The driver looked a bit helpless, as his main passenger was obviously his guru, an elderly sadhu dressed in orange. The sadhu did not look at me, but straight ahead. The driver indicated that the sadhu was old and infirm and could not walk. I said that they should make arrangements, bringing a wheelchair so that he could also better enjoy the parikrama. But as a senior sadhu, he should set the proper example for others, especially his disciples.
All too often, I see that sadhus in their vehicles, cars or motorcycles, become just as inconsiderate of others as ordinary non-devotees.If anyone, they should set the example.
Further on, I encountered a cluster of pandas drinking tea. I approached them and asked them why they don't pressure the town council to block the road and only allow local traffic in. I said, "No one will pay you one cent of pranami if they never get out of their cars. Your business will be better if they get down and walk."
The pandas complained that they had no power. That the rich rule the world and so on. I said, "Don't be foolish. You are the owners of the Kund. If you and the babajis worked together on this instead of always fighting, you might be able to accomplish wonders."
Afterwards, I met with my old friend Lakshman Brajvasi, who is building a guest house behind his own home. We talked for a while about these things and the BVHA, whose goals he eagerly supports. In Gaur Dham Colony, I also met with several babaji residents, all of whom fervently support my ideas. We laughed about the new fashion of doing helicopter parikrama around Govardhan. The point I tried to make is that much of the Govardhan parikrama has been ruined by turning it into a thoroughfare for vehicle traffic. But at least we should keep Radha Kund sacred and make everyone walk around it.
The bhajananandi Vaishnavas are the ones who are the worst affected by the desecration of the holy places. And it is they who should be first on the list of protected species. A society that only thinks of economic advancement loses all sense of true value.
“The idea of a society only held together by the relations and feelings arising out of pecuniary interests is essentially repulsive.” (John Stuart Mill)
(I could not find any recent photos of the Kunds online. The most recent seem to be of the samskara itself last year.)
Article by Jagadananda Das.