Thursday, 1 November 2018

Bahulastami, appearance of Radha Kunda

Srimathi Radha Rani - ISKCON Melbourne
Today is Bahulastami, appearance of Radha Kunda.

The eighth day of the waning moon of Karttik month, or Karttika Krishna ashtami, is also known popularly as Ahoi Ashtami or Bahulashtami. Its significance for the community of Radha-Krishna devotees is that it marks the appearance of Shri Radha Kund, which is said to be the holiest of holy spots and the special scene of Radha and Krishna’s divine pastimes.
After Krishna had killed Arishta, Krishna came as usual to meet Radha and her sakhis to enjoy his pastimes with them. However, being provoked by Lalita and the others, she said she could have nothing to do with him, as he had become impure from the act of killing a bull. The bull, after all, is the very symbol of dharma. When Krishna asked what he could do to be free of his sin, she said that nothing short of bathing in all the seven sacred rivers would be effective.
Yogeshwar Krishna, showing off for his beloved, pushed his heel into the ground and made a large hole. Then he called all the sacred river, who appeared in their personified forms and filled the hole to make a beautiful bathing pond. And so Krishna took his purifying dip and the pond was given the name Shyama Kund.
After bathing, Krishna began to tease the gopis, “Now that I have bathed in the holy waters of Shyama Kund, I am free from any fault, but I am afraid that because you sided with Arishtasura, you have become too impure for me to touch. You are going to have to do something to counteract your fault.”
With that, the Radha and the gopis became a little arrogant and said, “You have your kund, so we will have ours. Our Radha is no less powerful than you!” Then, remarking the huge cavity created by the bull’s hooves on the western side of Shyam Kund, they decided to make her kund there. They broke their bangles to make tools for digging and began to make their own hole.
Within 48 minutes, Radha and her friends were finished; the hole was ready but there was no water in it. Krishna and his friends watched and laughed at the gopis predicament. Nevertheless, Krishna generously offered to fill Radha’s kund with water from his tank, but Radha and the gopis, still proud, refused.
Lalita then said, “Why don’t we form a bucket chain to the Manasa Ganga and fill it up with water from there?” Krishna jeered at them on seeing the dry hole in the earth. Radha defiantly said they would fetch water from the Manasi Ganga not far from there to fill the pond. This, however, was a daunting task.
Then, on Krishna’s order, all the holy tirthas who had come to fill Shyam Kund appeared and offered choice praises and obeisances unto Sri Radhika. All the personified holy rivers prayed before Radha to allow them to fill her pond. She consented, and Radha Kund was born. And so, Krishna broke the dam that separated the two ponds and their waters merged.
Hearing about the appearance of Radha Kund, Yogamaya Paurnamasi Devi called Vrinda Devi and instructed her to plant various trees and vines on all four banks of the kundas. According to her own wish, Vrinda Devi also constructed jewelled ghats, i.e., steps leading down to the water, in order to facilitate Radha and Krishna’s pastimes. She arranged for beautiful kunjas to be laid out with different kinds of trees, vines and flowers. These kunjas were assigned to Srimati Radharani’s eight principal sakhis. On both sides of each ghat she had charming wish-yielding kalpa vriksha trees planted. Singing male and female parrots, pigeons, cuckoos and peacocks are always sitting on the branches of these trees, and the kundas are filled with golden, yellow, green, red, blue and white lotus flowers.
This Sri Radha Kund is the place where Sri Sri Radha Madhava have their most confidential eternal midday pastimes, as described at great length in the Govinda Lilamrita and other such texts. Besides playing their water sports here, they swing, play at pash khela, drink mead and have their noontime meal, visiting the kunjas of the sakhis which encircle the kund.
For years Radha Kunda and Syama Kunda were lost and no one knew exactly where they were located. When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu came to Vrindavana in 1515, he saw two fields under a shallow covering of water near Arit village, which were known as Kali Khet and Gauri Khet (black field and white field). Recognizing them as Krishn’s dearest place of pastimes, he bathed there and experienced the ecstasy of divine prema.
When Raghunatha Das Goswami first came to do bhajan at Radha Kund, the two tanks were only four meters by four meters in size.
Legend has it that one day Moghal emperor Akbar was passing by Arit village with his army. The soldiers and their animals and horses, camels and elephants–were very thirsty. Although all the soldiers and beasts slaked their thirst by drinking from the kunds, Akbar was amazed to see that the water level did not descend.
Another legend recounts that a rich man named Sampanna went to Badrinath to offer Lord Narayana a large donation. In a dream, Krishna told him to go to Radha Kund and give the money to Raghunath Das to renovate the kundas. Jiva Gosvami purchased the land and supervised the project in around 1554.

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