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Welcome to Shri Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan

Legends in Vrindavan

Gopeshwar Mahadev

Lord Shiv is regarded as the foremost Vaishnav, as He is an ardent devotee of Vishnu. More correctly speaking it is a relationship of mutual respect. While Shiv will not lose any opportunity to please Vishnu, Vishnu also does not forget to worship Shiv regularly and with all humility. This relationship of mutual regard leads to celestial unification of two and, as saints and sages say , They are the same! They are not different from each other!

On that pleasant night of Sharat Poornima, when Krishna was performing Maharasa on the banks of Yamuna near Vamshivat in Vrindavan, Lord Shiv along with mother Parvati reached their to participate in Rasa. Mother Parvati was readily granted entryinto Rasa Mandal but Shiv was detained at the outskirts of Vrindavan by Vrinda Devi, the presiding deity of Vrindavan. Vrinda Devi explained to Him, ”There is no male in Vrindavan other than Krishna. The spirit of Rasa is to please Raseshwari Shri Radha as a sakhi (friend) so as to maximize the bliss or Rasa Ras. A male devotee, however exalted he may be, can never develop this sakhibhav and is thus not worthy of entering into Rasa Mandal.” Shiv was left with no option but to sit at the entry point of Vrindavan and watching the magnificent Leela of Divinity.

Determined as he was, Shiv meditated intensely on Raseshwari Shri Radhey Herself seeking her grace. Knowing His determination Devi Radha, the merciful universal Mother, dispatched her confident Lalita to initiate Shiv in Sakhibhav. Lalita explained to Shiv the secret of Raas Leela and advised him to take a dip in holy Yamuna which will induct Sakhibhav in Him. On taking the dip, Shiv emerged as a young charming gopi and was taken into Raas Mandal by Lalita herself. Krishna smiled naughtily at this new entrant. He affectionately called him Gopeshwar.

Lord Shiv is worshipped as Gopeshwar Mahadev in Vrindavan. The temple is situated near Vamshivat and is thronged by a large number of devotees everyday. Those who wish to enjoy the bliss of Raas Leela must seek grace of Gopeshwar and pray for induction into Sakhibhav. Lord Shiv is therefore considered the Guru of all Vaishnavas.

Guru of Lord Shiv

All Vaishnav saints and sages regard Lord Shiv as their eternal Guru because He is the supreme Vaishnav . There is no other Vaishnav who can explain the subtleties of Bhaktiyog or Sadhna so beautifully. But whom Shiv regards as Guru?

As Lalita Devi facilitated his entry into Raas Mandal, Shiv considers Lalita as his Guru. It is worthwhile to remember here that Lalita is not different from Radha, as she is the mirror image and intimate friend of Shri Radha.

Swami Haridas: The Guru of All Gurus]

Young Haridas, the son of Sh. Ashudhir, resident of a small village at the outskirts of Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh (India), was taken to Shiv temple on some occasion. The Shiv temple under reference is known as Khaireshwar Mahadev, after the name of the the town Khair. As the young boy made offerings to Shiv, Shiv refused to accept. The temple started to rock as under a severe earthquake. Devotees in the temple became panicky and started praying for mercy. Soon the scene became calm and Shiv explained,”Haridas is no ordinary mortal being. He has descended directly from eternal Vrindavan to illuminate the path of Madhury Bhakti. He is none other than Devi Lalita who is my Guru. So, how can I accept offerings from him?”.

Hearing this, Sh. Ashudhirji was greatly relieved as he now knew the exact reason for strange behaviour of his son. Everybody present felt exalted to be in company of such great soul.

Swami Haridas is therefore considered GURU of all Gurus!

Glory to Shri Haridas! Glory to Shri Kunjbihari! Glory to Shyama-Shyam! Glory to Shri Radhey!

The only understandable explanation of this meeting is that Ganga Ma was no other than Sh Lalita or Swami Haridas who appeared to Paramhans in a different form. The place of meeting is also important. This place, the Prakatya Sthal, is considered to be the gateway of Nitya Raas Mandal. This is the same place where Swami Haridas meditated regularly. The Nikunja Darshan by disciples of Swami Haridas, in the form of fountains of great light, also occurred here. And finally the celestial pair, the charming Lord Shyama-Shyam appeared in person at this place only. The lord kindly granted an image of himself, Sh Bankey Bihariji, to Swami Haridas. Swamiji installed the image there itself, in Nikunj, and worshipped till a temple was constructed a little distance away.

So, Sh Lalita/Swami Haridas appeared in person to Paramhans in a suitable disguise. We do not know the contents of discourse but can easily understand that Paramhans was bodily taken to Nitya Raas Mandal. The rarest of rare achievement for a mortal being, befitting to status of a devotee like him.

As the foreign devotee tells from the book, Paramhans did not want to go back to Dakshineswar, but was persuaded by Ganga Ma to do so, as he had a long agenda to be accomplished there.

Original Script (hindi): Dr. Sharan Bihari Goswami
Translation: Shri R.K. Goswami
Book under reference: Ram Krishna Leela (Part-II)