Aug 01, 2017 CANADA (SUN) August 2nd is the start of Sri Sri Radha-Govinda Jhulana Yatra.
One of the most popular events in the holy town of Vrindavan, India - where Lord Krishna appeared 5,000 years ago - is the celebration of Jhulan Yatra, the Radha-Krishna swing festival. In Vrindavan among the local villagers and inhabitants this festival lasts for 13 days. In Vrindavan this is one of the biggest festivals of the year and Vrindavana is very crowded at this time, literally hundreds of thousands of people from surrounding towns and villages visit Vrindavan over this period in the auspicious sacred month of Shravana (July-Aug). Opulence or simplicity, everything is used in Vrindavan for the service of the Divine couple, so during this time you may see swings made simply, out of love, but often the swings are made of gold or silver.
In Sri Vrindavan for five days, in
many of the 5000 temples there, the small Utsav-vighraha functional Deities
(Vijay-utsav bera) are taken from the altar and placed on an elaborately
decorated swing in the temple room. After receiving the traditional arati
worship, the Deities are pushed on Their swing. Members of the congregation
are invited to participate. Each person offers flower petals and personal
prayers, and then pushes the swing several times as the other members chant
Hare Krishna, Jaya Radhe Jaya Krishna Jaya Vrindavan, or Jaya Radhe, Jaya
Jaya Madhava dayite in kirtan. The atmosphere of this festival is especially
sweet as everyone has the chance to intimately serve Radha and Krishna.
The same festival
is observed in other parts of India too in this sacred month of Shravana.
For example in Jagannath Puri, for the pleasure of Lord Jagannath's utsav
vighraha (Madan-mohan ji, this festival is celebrated from Shravana Shukla
Dashami (10th Tithi/phase of the Moon of the light fortnight) until Pratipada
(1st tithi of the dark fortnight), a period of seven days. Sri Madanmohan,
Lord Jagannath's representative deity (vijay utsav), as well as Laxmi and
Vishwadhatri are placed on a decorative wooden swing on Muktimandap (Jhulanmandap).
There, worshippers have a chance to swing the Lord, thus entering into
His pastimes. On the day of the full moon (Gamha Purnima or Jhulan Purnima),
Lord Balabhadra's appearance day is celebrated.
In Vrindavan it starts on the Tritya
(third day) of the bright fortnight of Shravana and lasts until the full
moon night of the month. During this festival the Radha-Krishna Deities
in the temples are swung on a swing. Some of the main temples
that this festival is celebrated at are the Banke Bihari Temple and the
Radha-Raman Temple in Vrindavana, the Dwarkadish temple in Mathura, and
the Larily Lal Temple in Varsana.
In this month of Shravana (which
is during the rainy season), the clouds in the sky begin to make a thundering
sound and extremely fine mist-like rain drizzles everywhere. The atmosphere
is very beautiful and pleasant after the heat of the summer months, for
at that time all the forests of Sri Vrndavana Dham begin to bloom. Many
types of flowers on both sides of the Yamuna can be seen, such as beli,
chameli, jui, and madhavi all begin to appear in bloom. The entire place
becomes alive again and bumblebees look here and there chanting, "Radhe
Radhe" and the cuckoos also call out, "Radhe Radhe."
The peacocks and peahens all call
out "Keka keka." The sound Ke means: "Which male person has the ability
to do a very wonderful thing? Srimati Radhika's maan (Her sulky mood of
transcendental loving jealous anger), as well as Her shyness and patience,
are like a very tall and immovable mountain. However, which male person,
'Ke,' can crush that mountain into powder so that there is nothing left?
This person is none other than Sri Krsna." Ka means: "Which female person
can do a very wonderful thing? There is a powerful, mad elephant named
Sri Krsna-chandra whom no one can control. One person, however, by the
goad of Her maan, can catch that elephant, bring Him under Her control,
and then bind Him in the shackle of Her love. Who is that? It is Srimati
Radharani." In this way the peacocks and peahens in their mystic calls
glorify Srimati Radharani and Lord Sri Krsna.
our Iskcon temples we observe for five days in accordance with Srila
Prabhupada's instructions (HERE). So whether one
observes for the four days or for the seven, or thirteen days, the same
festival is put on for the pleasure of the Lord and His loving associates.
This is a wonderful ceremonial function
of Lord Krishna's pastimes that reflects practically how we are to render
service to the Lord for His pleasure.
At the time of the Jhulan Yatra festival
it is Monsoon in India and the air is thick, heavy and humid with the heat
and the rains. In the midst of the rainy season, when fields and jungle
have turned shades of lush green and flowers are blossoming all around,
the festival of Hariyali Teej is celebrated.
These festivals are not in any way
mere rituals, as they all have practical service functionality to invoke
loving servitude of the devotees for the Lord. Lord Sri Krishna is the
Supreme enjoyer and doesn't have to work hard like us in this world. Everything
He does is pleasurable, and He organises many situations in which He can
incorporate us, His separated parts and parcels into His loving service
which is our natural condition in the spiritual realm.
When Sri Krishna had his pastimes
in rural Vrindavan with His cowherd friends together they lovingly tended
the cows, and wandered in the pastures playing, frolicking, and feasting.
Throughout the various seasons they all continuously enjoyed being part
of Sri Krishna's pastimes, and rendering loving service to Him as best
As mentioned at the time of Shravana
month during the Chaturmasya, everything becomes lush and green again.
The summer was dry, but now the rain has come and everything has come to
life again. All the young brides are taken at this time from their mother-in-laws'
homes by their brothers, and in turn they return to their fathers' home.
Consequently Srimati Radharani was
still at Her in-laws' home in Yavat, because Her brother, Sridam, had not
yet come for her. Much time passed and finally he arrived there on the
full moon day, with some nice clothing and ornaments to pacify Srimati
Radhika's mother-in-law, Jatila.
Seeing Her brother Srimati Radharani
wept, "O My dear brother, why have you come here so late? Only a few days
remain of this auspicious Shravana month. Why did you come late? Did you
forget about Me?"
Srimati Radharani then very happily
left Yavat and went to Varsana, (Vrsabhanupura), with Her brother; and
there She met together with all of Her shakhis, Her intimate girl friends,
as they had also returned to their maternal homes at that time. It was
a very beautiful meeting and reunion, in the place of their childhood play
Over the past few months as the climate
had changed from Vasant Panchami (Spring festival) where everyone dresses
in yellow and goes to the fields, performs fertility rites, and plants
new crops, etc.) to Dola Purnima (Holi) where scented powders and flowers
are thrown on the body of the Lord playfully, and singing and dancing goes
on for His pleasure. Similarly all the other different festivals were observed
where the friends of Lord Krishna would look after His express comforts
or pleasure, go to the forest with Him, serve Him and have fun.
As the temperature rises toward Summer
the Chandan Yatra is performed where from the Akshaya Tritiya for a period
of 21 days the body of the Lord is anointed with cooling scented sandalwood
mixed with camphor, musk, saffron. As the sandalwood is applied to the
body it immediately cools, but then there is a natural cycle that also
follows with the heat naturally there is some perspiration, and as the
perspiration again mixes with the sandalwood it is dried and cooled by
even the slightest breeze creating a pleasant feeling like being covered
with Talcum powder.
However, as the temperature increases
just to be anointed with something cooling is not enough therefore on (or
from for some sampradayas or temples) the Snan Purnima in the month of
Jyestha (Trivikram Vaishnava mase) there is the ceremonial bathing of the
Lord called Snan Yatra. Although it has become especially festive in Jagannath
Puri the actual event originates in Vrindavana with the devotees bathing
Krishna, and Balaram for their pleasure and then taking bath themselves
too. Actually at this time there is no other solace than to bathe in some
kind of pleasing water. All the temples of Vrindavan follow this festival,
and many devotees follow a trail of pilgrimage from one temple to the next
from early morning to late evening when the temperature lowers to about
35-40 degrees centigrade absorbed in the Snan rasa.
The next major interactive event
is Rathyatra where the devotees symbolically bring Lord Krishna (Jagannath)
His brother Balaram and Subhadra maharani on high chariots, with beautiful
flapping canopies, back to rural Vrindavan after their spell in Kurukshetra.
After this comes the Jhulan Yatra
festival. Starting on the ekadasi of waxing moon of Sridhara month (Sravan
mase), many temples in Vrndavana celebrate Krsna's swing festival, some
for one day, others for more days. Traditionally many of the Deities of
the Lord wears various clothing with green in it over this period until
the Balaram Purnima. Again it is a practical festive service that the devotees
provide for the Lord. Monsoon is so humid, and the temperature is still
so hot despite the cooling rains. With so much water coming from the sky,
on the ground, and just about everywhere the last thing that anyone wants
is more water to cool off. The opulence at this time is to find a breeze,
as the air is heavy with the humidity of the rains. So the devotees following
in the footsteps of the shakhi friends of Srimati Raharani arrange for
the pleasure and satisfaction of Krishna, and Srimati Radhika by placing
them on a swing (Jhulan) and creating their own breeze from the motion.
Indeed due to the humidity there
is little air movement, the only way to gain relief from the heat is to
phyisically move in the thick water laden air. So Her shakhi friends made
a nice jhulana (swing) for Her and Her beloved. Traditionally they always
make the swing on a kadamba tree and not on a tamal tree. The significance
of a kadamba tree is that it carries the complexion of Srimati Radhika
with its yellow flowers and the tamal tree has a blackish complexion of
Sri Krishna. The tamal tree is not very powerful, but the kadamba tree
is very strong and beautiful. This also signifies the superiority of Srimati
Radhika – She can control Lord Krishna by Her love.
jhula jhule radha damodara vrndavana
kaisi cchayi hariyali ali kunjan
["Sri Sri Radha-Damodara are swinging
on the swing in Vrndavana. Oh friend, how very green the kunja is!"
(Jhula Jhule Radha Damodara, verse
In Braj they sing this verse in kirtana
at the time of swinging Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. It describes how Lord
Krishna has come and is waiting at the swing with folded palms for His
beloved to come. Srimati Radhika is in maan, sulking, and Her shakhis try
to persuade Her to come by saying, "Please give up your sulky mood and
come at once to your beloved Sri Krishna. He is waiting for You."
Jhulan is a most pleasing and satisfying
festival, with the swings often highly decorated with forest creepers,
Jasmine (Malati) that has newly blossomed in the season, and streamers
of garlands, some of gold or silver. Sometimes they use a fine spray of
rose water and direct it toward the Divine couple of Radha and Krishna
on Their swing. In this way we are observing Jhulana-yatra and remembering
the sweet pastimes of the Divine couple Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.
Today in Iskcon temples all over
the world by the mercy of his Divine Grace Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupad all the devotees and the congregational members get the opportunity
to come forward after purifying their hands and remember these loving interactions
of Sri Krishna with His devotees, and also assist in the direct personal
service of the Lord by applying themselves to pushing the swing in seva
On the last day of the Jhulan, on
the Purnima (full moon) this comes Lord Balaram's appearance day festival.
Jhulanayatra Ceremony, during these five days the Deities' clothing should
be changed everyday, and there should be nice Prasadam distribution and
Sankirtana as far as possible. If you are able to do it, a nice throne
may be constructed on which the Deities can be placed. This throne may
be swung gently during Kirtana. That will be very good, and surely the
Deities will enjoy the function." (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.1st
August. 1969. Letter to Jayapataka Swami. Letters book pg. 977.)
"So we have to practice this Krishna
consciousness. Here, in this material world, we have to work. Without work,
you cannot maintain even your family, your body. That is not possible.
Sarira-yatrapi te na prasiddhyed akarmana-. Krishna says (to) Arjuna that
without karma you cannot maintain even your body. So you have to work.
Sarira-yatrapi te na prasiddhyed akarmana-. And this material world means
you have to maintain by working. And spiritual world means na tasya karyam
karanam ca vidyate. There is nothing to work, as Krishna has nothing to
work. He is simply enjoying What is called? Swing. So Krishna is enjoying,
and Krishna's associates are enjoying. They have nothing to work. That
is spiritual world. Cintamani prakara sadmasu kalpa vrksa: that is a different
world. There is no material body. Therefore there is no need of the material
body. That is a different world. But in this material world we have to
work. Trt'ya-karma-samj<anya avidya-karma-samjanya trtiya aktir isyate.
This material world means you have to work and adjust things for your maintenance.
That you cannot escape. But still, we have to become Krsna conscious" (A.C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. 10th August 1976. Srimad Bhagavatam 3:22:21.
"Radha and Krishna may be swung in
this way, but you may avoid swinging Lord Jagannatha like that."(A.C. Bhaktivedanta
Swami Prabhupada. 5th Jan. 1973. Letter to Jagdish. Letters book p.2220.)