• Vishnu

Bankey Bihari Temple


Place Overview

Uttar Pradesh is a land of rich cultural and religious heritage. Signs of the glorious past can be found at many places. Vrindavan is one such place. Situated in Mathura district, Vrindavan has a link to mythological stories of Lord Krishna. This is the place where, Lord Krishna is believed to have spent his childhood days. Vrindavan is dotted with hundreds of Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Krishna. Each temple has some unique reference to various holy forms of Lord Krishna. Banke Bihari is one of the forms of the deity. A temple built to worship this form of deity is known as ‘Banke Bihari Temple’. Hindu devotees invariably visit Vrindavan, to relive the stories of Lord Krishna’s life.

The name of the town, Vrindavan, has origin to two words, Vrinda meaning holy plant of Basil, and van meaning grove or forest. Vrindavan was believed to have groves of the holy plants. Some of the groves still exist at Nidhivan and Sevakunj. Lord Krishna is worshipped in many forms of the deity. The posture in which the deity is worshipped at this temple is seen as bent at three places.

Temple Overview

Shri Bankey Bihari Mandir is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, in the holy city of Vrindavan in the Mathura district. Banke Bihari Mandir is the popular temple amongst the Vaishnavites of India. It is situated near to the RADHAVALLABH JI Temple.This temple is among the 7 temples of Thakur of Vrindavan including Sri Radhavallabh ji, Shri Govind Dev ji and four others. Bankey Bihari ji was originally worshiped at Nidhivana. The idol of Thakur Ji is much older and was worshipped in Nidhivan till 1863. This temple was constructed in 1864 with the contribution of Goswamis. After constructing of temple, Goswamis transferred the idol to this temple.

About the Temple

Bankey Bihari Temple at Vrindavan

The Bankey Bihari Temple houses a sacred image of Lord Krishna known as Thakkur Ji, which shows Krishna with an almost blackened body. Devotees enter the shrine room carrying garlands of flower petals and offer them to the spirit of the statue as Brahmins (priests) move back and forth in front of the icon, occasionally drawing across the curtain to shroud the icon for a moment. The main hall and the sanctum sanctorum of this temple are decorated with floral carvings. The architecture of this famous temple is done in Rajasthani style. The main hall of the sanctum sanctorum is embellished with floral carvings. The main idol is black in color. The entrance to the temple complex is through four storied carved structures. Architectural characteristics of most temples in Vrindavan have followed similar style.

The outer wall and gate of the Sanctum sanctorum (garbha griha) of the Banke Bihari Mandir is being covered with the silver plates by the temple management. The work is being done with the support from the devotees of Delhi, Vrindavan and Kolkata. After covering the stone wall of the Jagmohan (the hall outside the garbha griha) and its stone pillars earlier, the temple management has taken up the task to cover the stone walls of the garbha griha and its gate. The main gate of the temple and its doors will also be covered with silver. The temple sources have confirmed that the experts from Delhi have been working on this project for a month. The silver work experts from Vrindavan are also assisting to bring perfection in the silver carvings. The silver is being carved according to the design of the stone wall.

According to the Manager (administration) Shri Munesh Sharma, the silver work is being done on the wooden frame. They will be fitted on the stone wall later. It should be noted that the doors of the Chandan Kothri was covered with silver early this year by an industrialist of Delhi. The devotees of Banke Bihari can go any extent to bring comfort for the Lord. The feel themselves blessed after serving the Lord.

About the Deity

Bankey Bihari Temple at Vrindavan

Bankey means “bent in three places” and bihari means “supreme enjoyer.” The image of Lord Krishna stands in the Tribhanga posture. Haridas Swami originally worshipped this devotional image under the name of Kunj-bihari (Enjoyer of Lakes). Bankey Bihari is worshiped and looked after as a child. There is a different and unique style of celebrating every festival in Bankey Bihari temple. The deity is dressed up and offered cuisine (bhog, prasad) according to season. Thus, Bankey Bihari is the benefactor of bliss and pleasure. Lord Bankey Bihari is also known Thakurji, the owner of everything. The black wooden idol of Bankey Bihari was brought in this temple from Nidhivan by Swami Haridas. The services made to deity are regarded as the 'sewa' of the deity. At that time, Swami Haridas tendered the 'sewa' of Bihariji to Goswami Jagannath.

Legend and Stories

Bankey Bihari Temple at Vrindavan

This Bankey Bihari Temple was established by Swami Haridas (Lalita Sakhi in Dvapara Yuga), a guru of the famous singer Tansen. Once on the request of his disciples Swami Haridas ji sang the following verse in Nidhivan in Vrindavan " Mai ri sahaj jori pragat bhai ju rang ki gaur syam ghan damini jaisen. Pratham hun ahuti ab hun aagen hun rahihai na tarihai taisain. Ang ang ki ujraii sugharaii chaturaii sunderta aisain. Shri Haridas ke swami syama kunjbihari sam vais vaisain." On singing the verse the Celestial couple Shyama shyam (Radha Krishna)appeared in front of him and his devotees and on the request of Shri Swami ji the couple merged into one and the idol of Banke bihari appeared there(the same idol seen in the temple). The idol was established in Nidhivan.

History of Shri Bankey Bihari Ji

Swami Haridas ji was born to Shri Ashudhir and his wife Smt Gangadevi on the day of Radha Ashtami i.e. eighth day of second (bright) fortnight of Bhadrapad month of the year 1535 Vikrami(1478 A.D.). He was born in a small village, now known as Haridaspur, near Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. The linage of the family can be traced back to Shri Gargacharya. Shri Gargachrya was the kulguru (family guru) of Yadavs and visited Brij secretly for conducting the Namkaran Samskar (naming ceremony) of young Krishna and Balram on request of Sri Vasudev. A branch of the family migrated to Multan (now in Pakistan), but some of them returned after a long time. Sri Ashudhir was one such migrant who after returning from Multan settled at the outskirts of Brij, near Aligarh.

Swami Haridas was the reincarnation of Lalita ‘sakhi’ (female friend), of the inner consortium of Lord Krishna. This easily explains the fact that even in his childhood; he was more into meditation and scriptures, while other children of his age were busy playing. He was married at the suitable age according to the time to Harimati. Even after his marriage, young Haridas stayed away from worldly pleasures and concentrated on meditation. Harimatiji was such a saintly soul herself that on realizing the inclination of her husband, she prayed intensely and was bodily transported to the heavenly abode of Lord by entering the flame of a small lamp in the presence of Haridas. No physical remains were left behind!

Soon after that Haridas left his village for Vrindavan, which was a dense forest at that time and chose a secluded spot, which is now known as Nidhivan, to practice his music and to enjoy eternal bliss of meditation. He constantly and continuously meditated on Nitya Ras and Nitya Bihar of Lord at Nitya Vrindavan. His way of Sadhna was to compose and sing songs in the praise of Lord. While on earth, living in a mortal state, he facilitated his regular unobstructed entry in the Nitya Bihar and always enjoyed the pleasure of closeness of Lord. He chose a secluded and densely forested area, Kunj, in Nidhivan as his gateway to the nirvana and was mostly sitting there, singing, meditating and surfing in the ocean of eternal bliss.

His disciples were curious about this place and one day with permission of Swamiji, they all entered the kunj. But instead of seeing anything they were almost blinded by bright, intense light, which seemed to fill the whole place. On knowing of their plight Swamiji himself went there, and then after his requests, lord appeared in person with his divine consort, pleasantly smiling and in a playful mood and casting a spell of charm on every living being present there. Those who witnessed this, were so spell bounded by the beauty of the Lord and his consort, that they couldn’t even blink their eyes, it seemed that all of them had turned into stone statues.

The legend as handed down to the generations of Goswamis, says that the beauty of the divine couple was such that no one wanted to lose the sight and proximity of divinity, but then what kind of divinity is it, which cannot make a mere mortal swoon and charmed enough to forget and give up the world and its luxuries? The beauty of the divine couple was so much that lesser mortals, like you and me, won’t be able to bear such a heavenly beauty. Sensing this Swami Haridasji requested both of them to take a single form, as the world won’t be able to bear their image. He requested them to take a single form like Ghan(cloud) and Damini(lightning) thus giving a perfect metaphor to the combined beauty of dark Lord and his fair consort, Radhaji. The two merging with each other created ocean of Ragas that is ‘Shri Bihariji’. Haridas ji dedicated his music and all ragas and raginis to supreme of universe ‘Shri Bankey Bihari ji’. Whatever he witnessed, he sang about it in trance documented in ‘Kelimal’s 110 stanzas’. Besides it, he wrote eighteen verses on the core wisdom of all philosophies ‘Ashtadas siddhant ke pad’. He was the originator of ‘Sakhi Samprday’

He wanted his beloved lord to be in front of his eyes always. Granting him his both wishes, the couple turned itself into one single black charming idol, the same one that you see in the temple today. The charm and beauty of Shri Banke Bihariji is the only reason why the ‘darshan’ in the temple is never continuous but is broken by the curtain drawn on him regularly. It is also said that if one stares long enough into the eyes of Shri Banke Bihariji, the person would lose his self consciousness.

The sewa of the Bihariji is unique in its own way. It is performed in three parts every day ie Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan. While shringar (which includes bath, dressing and adornment with jewellery like crown and necklaces) and Rajbhog(feast) is offered in the forenoon, Shayan Sewa (shayan means sleep) is offered in the evening. The temple doesn’t have a tradition of Mangala (early morning) sewa. Swami Haridas did not favour Mangla Sewa as he wanted his child like Lord to take complete rest and did not want to disturb him out of deep slumber so early in the morning.

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 entry into 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 devotee’s every day. 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 Shiva

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 behavior of his son. Everybody present felt exalted to be in company of such great soul.

Historical Visitors

Akbar's visit to Swami Shri Haridas

Mian Tansen was one among the navratnas of the court of Akbar. Tansen achieved this position by virtue of being an outstanding musician of Hindustani classic style. He not only could sing and play the rage to such perfection that lamps will lighten up as he sang Deepak rage etc, but he developed many new rages and styles by fusion of traditional and contemporary streams of music. Grand music festivals are held in his honor in various parts of India till today and the name Tansen has become almost a household name in northern India.

In the royal Mogul court, the king profusely greeted Tansen after one of the performances, "Tansen, you sing so well, you handle your instrument so perfectly, your voice is so mesmerizing, I tend to believe you being the greatest musician of all times." Mian Tansen submitted humbly, "Respected Sir, it is a great honor to hear such kind words of encouragement, but the fact remains my music is nothing in comparision to that of my guru, Swami Haridas."Surprised the king said, "Swami Haridas? I have never heard this name. In which royal court does he sing?" Tansen replied, "Right you are Sir, you have not heard his name for the simple reason that he is not a royal singer. He is ascetic of highest order, living in Vrindavan, sitting on Yamuna banks he sings in the praise of universal lord, cosmic couple in the name of Shyama Shyam, or, Priya Priyatam." The curiosity of Akbar increased, "Will a musician, much better than Tansen, give up the royal patronage and resolve to stay in forests, in hermitage deprived of all city amenities? If there exists such a person, he must be truly divine. I must travel to Vrindavan along with Tansen and meet the saint. I must invite him to royal court so that all of us are benefited by his presence."

As he explained his desire to Tansen, the latter contested the idea saying Swamiji does not travel out of Brijmandal, and if the king wanted to hear him, he should rather travel to Vrindavan.Tansen explained further, "If you want to hear him singing a natural way, we should go to him as ordinary citizens avoiding royal paraphernalia.The pomp and show associated with royal entourage is likely to interfere with the natural semblance there." Akbar appreciated the idea and decided to travel alone with Tansen, disguised as his attendant.

Swamiji was not keeping well for quite a few days. He was running high fever and was on tulsi patra and Yamuna jal to purify his body. Though well built, he had gone quite weak in those days. Still he got up early in the morning as usual, took a holy dip in Yamuna and sat in the samaj (collective singing of devotional songs) with his disciples. Today, he was trembling due to fever and stopped singing. He was only listening to music with closed eyes. Devotees were coming from far and near and paying their respect at the nearby Bihariji Mandir and at the feet of Swami Shri Haridas. Everybody wanted Swamiji to get well soon, so they could hear his melodious voice at least during their next visit.

Tansen came with an attendant carrying his Tanpoora (musical instrument) and bowed at the feet of his guru, attendant too paid respect. Somebody called his attention, "Swamiji, Mian Tansen has come." Swamiji opened his eyes, looked at Tansen and the attendant, smiled and welcomed them. "Tansen, join and lead the samaj" commanded Swamiji. Tansen took hold of his Tanpoora, joined the group and started singing. Somehow he was not comfortable today, samaj lost his coherence. Swamiji was listening with closed eyes. He opened his eyes looked at Tansen, who bowed his head.

Again he looked at the attendant, who too bowed his head. Swamiji smiled. Taking off the cloth wrapped around his shoulders, Swamiji called his principal disciples, "Vithal, take this gudari (cloth) and place it on that nearby tree and get my tanpoora. Lord is commanding me to sing." Vithal did exactly as he was told to do. Swamiji pulled up his tanpoora, ran his finger up and down its strings, gently playing with it he started singing. Other disciples joined and the samaj was resumed. Tansen set aside his tanpoora, stopped singing and just looked at his attendant who was totally lost in Swamiji’s music. Swamiji looked much healthier now, his face wearing the usual glow, as if he was not ill at all but the gudari hanging on the tree was trembling as if it was carrying the high fever which Swamiji was suffering from. The samaj continued for quite long, Swamiji was leading it and everyone enjoyed, particularly the attendant who came along with Tansen. He almost lost his consciousness, eyes closed, head shaking slowly, fingers tapping gently at thighs, an expression of fulfillment on his face; it seemed as if he has transcended this world to reach eternal Vrindavan.

As samaj came to an end, Swamiji opened his eyes, set aside his tanpoora, and looked at the gathering. The attendant came back to conscious state took off his headgear and bowed to Swamiji in dandvat (prostrate). Swamiji touched his head, his fingers running through the beautiful locks of the attendant, he said, "Get up, O King of India, your desire is fulfilled." The attendant, who was no one else but Akbar in disguise, got the shock of his life, gathering his wits, he said, "I do realize there is nothing to hide from a man of God like you. As you know everything let me confess, Tansen sang out of tune just to prompt you to sing, so that I could hear you O great saint. Kindly forgive both of us." As the dialogue proceeded, Akbar wanted to know how swamiji who was looking ill and pale when they came, became healthy and cheerful in just over a few minutes. Swamiji drew his attention to the gudari hanging and shaking on the tree and explained that the disease is presently arrested in that gudari and it will return to him as soon as he would wrap it around himself. The king was impressed. He went to the temple to have darshan of Bihariji, went around Yamuna and enjoyed the serene environs of Vrindavan.

Coming back to Swamiji, Akbar offered to construct a huge temple for Shri Biharriji and attach large tracts of revenue yielding land to it to make a prosperous establishment. Swamiji dismissed all his proposals with a gentle smile and saying, "My lord always roams around in forests."The name Kunj Bihari, as Swami Haridas addressed his beloved Thakurji, means the supreme enjoyer of woods/ forests. As such, Swamiji never wanted to impose state patronage on the universal Lord, would that not mean belittling the Greatest of all?

The king persisted. Though he had realized that the sage was genuinely uninterested in any of his offers, he still wanted to leave a mark of his visit to Vrindavan in some form. When he repeatedly requested Swamiji to grant him opportunity to do something for Vrindavan at least, Swamiji said, "You are so persistent and have such a keen desire, kindly get one of the broken stairs of Yamuna Ghat repaired." He directed his disciples to guide King to the broken stair. Akbar was now really disappointed. The thought the sage may be a great musician but seems to be mad at the same time. He is telling me, the King of Hindustan to get a damaged stair repaired? I am the one who have constructed huge forts and nosques and now they are taking me to show the broken stair which I should get repaired? What a joke? But better sense prevailed on him; he kept his cool and followed the saints.

As he reached Yamuna bank and the accompanying saint pointed to broken stair, the scene before him changed in a flash. What he was now seeing was not ordinary stone-mortar masonry, but he saw the ghat made up of precious metals (gold and silver) and studded with rare gems. Rubys, diamonds, sapphires, emeralds etc of such high purity and size were studded so generously that it was impossible to estimate the cost. Even then he tried to look at the broken corner and found on comparison with other corner, that he would not be able to get the matching gems for repair even if he was hundred times richer and spent all his fortune for this repair.

Now he knew the real nature of Swamiji. The scene changed again, now the ghat appeared to be ordinary stone-mortar masonry, but Akbar did not dare to undertake the repairs. Disillusioned, he walked back to Swamiji, bowed to him in dandvat, admitted his incapacity to touch anything in Vrindavan and left for Delhi along with Mian Tansen.

Swami Ramkrishna paramhans visit to Vrindavan

Nidhivan , the location of appearance of Shri Banke Bihari, is a serene place. It has dense plantation of Ban Tulsi (a kind of Basil, the wild variety) with its branches bowing down to ground as if they want to touch the ground imprinted with tender feet of the divine couple Priya-Priyatam. The panorama is particularly charming during the rainy season as the freshly washed and newly erupted tender leaves seem to invite the visitor to shelter from the scorching heat of intense Sun outside. Once a visitor enters the environs of Nidhivan, he feels relaxed bodily as well as spiritually. Such is the grace of Swami Haridas!

A devotee from foreign land was tensely roaming around the place one day. It was so surprising to me, how a devotee can remain restless even at this place? He was walking to and fro in front of the place of Bihariji’s appearance (Prakatya Sthal) as if looking for some specific thing or place. On enquiring, he revealed that he was a British citizen. Attracted by the spirituality of India and particularly influenced by tradition established by Swami Vivekanand, he joined Shri Ram Krishna Math. Presently, he was on a pilgrimage and was going to all places visited by Swami Ram Krishna Paramhans. He actually wanted to pay obeisance at Prakatya Sthal, but was not able to locate it. I told him that the small marble pedestal (shaped as a throne) in front of him was the Prakatya Sthal of Bihariji. He sat down in deep meditative posture, but now I became restless in place of him, because I wanted to know urgently if Sri Ram Krishna Paramhans had visited the place what was his experience? What exactly he saw? Whom did he actually interact with? What did they talk about?

As he came out of the meditative spell, the devotee attended to my queries. Taking out a book from his satchel, he said, “See, Ram Krishna Dev did not only come here, he was so possessed that he decided to stay here only and was not willing to go back to Dakshineswar. This was because of a tide in his devotion to Maa (Matribhakti) that he had several advanced spiritual experiences here.” He continued leafing through the book and pointing to several passages. I asked, “Is it mentioned here that he had Darshan of Shri Bihariji?”, “Yes, it is here! See, ‘Shri Ram Krishna Dev visited several temples in Vrindavan. As he entered Sri Bankey Bihari Temple he felt his consciousness turning around and undergoing pleasing outworldly experiences. Sri Bankey Bihariji appeared to him in person!’ ”, said the devotee reading the book. He further read, “Ram Krishna Dev felt as if Sri Bankey Bihariji is inviting him to come close. He was completely overwhelmed by the feeling and ran to embrace Sri Bihariji, as everybody looked upon.” How astonishing was the scene! Paramhans was totally possessed by divinity, his consciousness merging with the universal consciousness and the entire atmosphere charged with high waves of celestial energy and eternal bliss!

“What exactly do you want to explore and see then?” I softly asked. “Near this place, the place of appearance of Sri Banke Bihariji, Thakur Moshay (As Shri Ram Krishna Dev is popularly referred to in the sect) had an interview with Lalitaji. They had a spiritual meeting.” Said the devotee.

During his visit to the temple when he came face to face with Shri Bankey Bihariji, Ramkrishna was completely taken over by the charm of Lord, ran towards him, but fell down. It is believed that Bihariji appeared to him in person and extended his arms to embrace him. Paramhans, in a state of trance could not reach but, true to his kind nature, Bihariji rushed forward, embraced him and he actually fell in the arms of Bihariji. What transpired between the supreme Lord and his unique devotee Paramhans is only a matter of guess. Probably the Lord directed him to meet Lalita in Nidhivan. It is worthwhile to mention here that Lalita occupies an exclusive position in Nitya Raas Mandal and facilitated the entry of Lord Shiva to Raas in Dwapar Yug. We interpret it that the Lord desired Paramhans to experience the Eternal Supreme Bliss and who can be a better Guru for that than Lalita.

On gaining consciousness, Shree Ram Krishna came to Nidhivan. He meditated at the Prakatya Sthal. He met a Vaishnav Sadhvi by the name of Ganga Mata or Ganga Ma. The year of these incidents is 1868 A.D. (The year and name are given on the official site of Belur Math). In the contemporary literature of Brij and Vrindavan, we do not find the details of Sadhvi Ganga Ma. Then who was she? Where did she live? Was she living in Nidhivan? Not Possible.

As we know, even today, no living being can stay in Nidhivan overnight. Even the birds who chirp around, morning till evening, the monkeys and their naughty young ones, who swing from one branch to other keeping Nidhivan abuzz and at times scaring away the visitors, also leave Nidhivan at the time of dusk. They all take shelter in nearby trees and rooftops as if guided by some miraculous power. It is beyond normal human capability to stay in Nidhivan overnight.

The only understandable explanation of this meeting is that Ganga Ma was no other than Shri 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, Shri 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, Shri 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.

Stories Of Bankey Bihari Temple

Prince of Vrindavan

Once upon a time, a princess from Rajasthan came for darshan of Shree Banke Bihari at Vrindavan. She was so enamoured by the prince of Vrindavan that she wanted to remain with Him for the rest of her life. Her family forced her to return to her kingdom. With teary eyes, she last saw Shree Banke Bihari ji and left. Mesmerized by her love for Him, Bihariji followed the princess, and was found missing at His temple home established by Tansen's guru, Swami Haridas.

Brajwasis mainatin that one can still hear Krishna's flute in Braj.A frantic search for Bihariji resulted in Him being found at the princess's home. This time, Bihariji was coerced back to His temple-home at Vrindavan because He was being hugely missed by all the other devotees who came to meet Him.From that day, a parda came in between the bhakta and Bhagwan so that due to a particular bhakta's deep love, Thakurji was not again compelled to follow the devotee home.

Night out at Nidhivan

Once a sevak fell asleep while pulling the strings of a hand fan at night for Shree Banke Bihariji. And woke up with a jerk when he realised that he had missed on his duty, and this might have disturbed Thakurji in his sleep. He peered inside to see if Thakurji was sleeping tight, and was startled to find that He was not there!

It was 1 at night. He kept the vigil, and at 4 in the morning found Thakurji returning laden with sweat and flushed in the face. The sevak did nothing to intrude, and continued with his duty. Next night, he was up and awake all night and found Thakurji leaving at 12 ‘O clock.

Raas utsav - celebrating unison with God

This time, the sevak sneaked behind Him and found Him entering Nidhivan, and heard the sound of flute and dancing fill the night air. At 4 in the morning Thakurji returned to the temple. Now the sevak knew that Thakurji spent 4 hours each night in raas with gopis. When the Pujari came to rouse Thakurji for mangla arti shortly after He was home, the sevak stopped him from doing so, saying that Thakurji did not get enough sleep because of His nightly excursions to Nidhivan. From then on the time for mangla arti was changed to 8.30 in the morning.

Divine Glimpses-Witness

Vrindavan is abounding with tales of Lord Krishna descending into physical form to help out his beloved devotees. Some of the most famous ones are as follows:

Not so long ago, on outskirts of Vrindavan lived an elderly woman. Those who used to go around on the parikrama of Vrindavan would invariably see her sitting in the small hut, humming some sweet melodies in the praise of lord and engaged in some sort of sewa – devotional act – like making a garland of flowers collected from nearby gardens, or rolling out cotton wicks for aarti or some other similar duties. She had almost nothing in the name of material belonging in the hut other than a few essential utensils, minimal of linen and clothes. In spite of her advanced age she always displayed a childlike smile and innocence, a look of contentment and a divine glow played at her face. She always offered cold sweet water to the travelers and it used to be surprisingly refreshing and rejuvenating. Her daily routine included a visit to Shri Bankey Bihari temple where she would sing, dance or simply sit in a corner with eyes closed and tears rolling down her cheeks. Nobody knew who she was, who were her parents or where from had she come to Vrindavan and how she developed that great sense of devotion.

On a scorching summer afternoon, one of our elder Goswamis who was passing through that path stayed at her hut to quench his thirst. Having quenched his thirst with cold sweet water, Goswamiji just insisted her to relate her story as to who she was, who were her parents or where from had she come to Vrindavan and how she developed that great sense of devotion. What follows is a brief account of the story related by the lady in first person and scripted by our elder.

The stories of the devotee

Gopal Das

I originally belonged to Aligarh, the district town in Uttaar Pradesh, around seventy kilometers from Mathura. I am daughter of a simple school teacher by name of Gopal Das. I was the eldest child in the family and had two younger brothers. We were a small, contended and happy family. Though we had limited means, we never felt deprived as my father was a devoted person and sincerely believed that only God’s desire prevails. After schooling, as I grew up my parents started to looking up for a suitable match for me. By the grace of God, they soon came in contact with a reputed and educated family in a nearby place and liked the boy of the family very much and the relationship was finalized. From this moment onwards my father got disturbed as he did not know from where and how to arrange money for solemnizing my marriage.

At last my father naturally went to his friends and acquaintances asking for loans. He was in for a rude shock as all his friends dismissed him outright saying how my father would ever return the money. The day of my marriage was fast approaching and there was no money to organize the wedding. Money is always needed for marriages - for feasts, ceremonies, and dowry and so on. My father became extremely tensed and disturbed. All throughout the day he would wander here and there trying to arrange funds for my marriage but he did not meet any luck. He would often skip his dinner after returning home and would sulk and go straight to sleep. He was also deeply hurt at the behavior of his friends.

The marriage preparation

Finally only 5 days remained for my marriage. I saw my father coming home with lots of marriage items like bed, clothes, utensils, sweets, jewellery and so on. Both I and my mother was extremely surprised as to how out of the blue my father could arrange all this when just a day before he had virtually no money at all. Upon asking my father replied with quiet confidence that he had mortgaged the house and borrowed money from Seth Lakshmi Chand, the money lender. On hearing this, all hell broke loose on my mother for she had heard several tales about Lakshmi Chand's dishonest ways. Any one who had mortgaged his house or land with Lakshmi Chand was doomed for he could be certain he would never get it back. Lakshmi Chand was a greedy cheat who was adept at juggling account records to dupe poor villagers of their property. He would keep duplicate records, one real and the other fake. He was also well versed in legal matters, had a good hold over hawkish lawyers and so would indulge in brazen manipulations to carry out his misdeeds. My mother rebuked my father sharply and tension prevailed in our home. My mother was certain that we were doomed but my father tried his best to calm my mother, saying her fears were unfounded and after the marriage he would surely pay back the money to Lakshmi Chand and get the house released. My mother doubted father's words for she thought that after my marriage, father would become more carefree and would not take much care to repay the loan.

However, my mother's doubt turned out to be unfounded as after my marriage my father toiled day and night to earn money to repay the loan. After four months of very hard work that took its toll on his health, my father was able to repay the loan. True to his extreme simplicity, my father did not insist for the receipt for payments, cancellation of mortgage deed and returning the papers of the house immediately on making the payment. Rather he took the words of money lender that the formalities would be completed in a couple of days.

In India, Hindus consider it a sacred duty to take a holy dip in the Ganges after one has married off his daughter. Just a few days after my father had repaid the loan, my mother started insisting my father for the Ganges pilgrimage. My father did not have money then so he asked mother to wait a little. But my mother insisted and only God knows from where, she arranged some money to finance the trip. My parents then went on the Ganges pilgrimage. The day they returned, a registered postal letter awaited my father. When he read the letter he collapsed in disbelief! The document was a court notice sent by none other than the wicked Lakshmi Chand. It stated that if by a certain date my father did not repay the loan with interest, the house would be confiscated and my father thrown out.

Upon reading that notice all life seemed to have left my father. He had honestly repaid the loan with full interest so why this notice? He was a simple man who had never been to the court. The court for him seemed to be a dreadful place where the rich and the powerful openly manipulated legalities to twist cases in their favour to cheat the poor and the helpless. The court was a place where truth and honesty was butchered every day and every minute and falsehood reigned supreme. Every brick of the court building was like a snake's bloody fangs ready to strike the helpless and the meek at the slightest chance. My father nevertheless gathered courage to seek the help of his friends. Once again they all cold shouldered him. They refused to help my father saying that as my father had not returned the money to Lakshmi Chand in their presence, how any of them could become a witness to the case. Besides, Lakshmi Chand was a powerful and influential man so nobody wanted to pick up enmity with him.

Once again my father was plunged in gloom. He despaired and seemed to lose his balance completely. He wondered at the ways of the world. How strange this world is. Even after one has repaid the loan with interest he is served a court notice. He shuddered to think what would happen to him if he did not vacate the house. He would be dragged to court; humiliated; made to beg and grovel before the judge, lawyer and Lakshmi Chand; his family honour would bite dust and what not. My mother kept her hand over my father's forehead. My father was burning with high fever.

The next morning my father woke up in the same condition. He decided to visit Lakshmi Chand and ask him why he was doing all this. My mother sensing an altercation decided to accompany my father. When my father reached Lakshmi Chand's house, he was warmly greeted by the latter and was served tea and snacks. Lakshmi Chand even touched my father's feet (as a sign of respect) and enquired after his well being. Upon being asked by my father, Lakshmi Chand admitted that my father had repaid the loan in full along with interest. He said he was primarily interested in my father's house and wanted that house at any cost. He even offered my father all the money my father had repaid him as a price for the house. He said if my father did not accept the offer he would have to face harassment in the court.

My father begged Lakshmi Chand not to do this and said that if he were to vacate the house where he would live with his wife and two sons. Besides, the house was his ancestral property and he could not abandon something so precious. This was of no use as Lakshmi Chand refused to melt. He warned my father not to teach him what was right and what was wrong. He insisted that he had kept a proposal before my father. If my father agreed he would get the money from Lakshmi Chand for his house or else he would have to run from pillar to post to settle the matter in court, where also he would lose the case and finally evicted. At this my mother lost control and warned Lakshmi Chand that it was not proper to harass someone like this and there was a court higher than all the courts in the world and that was God' court and God would surely take Lakshmi Chand to task.

The unintended Pilgrimage

Acutely disappointed, my parents returned home. My father was already disgusted at his friends' indifference and so did not bother to consult anyone. Everyone was your friend as long as you had money. The moment you were penniless and needed help, you were abandoned. My mother kept insisting my father to seek help. Finally he got fed up and left home. Coincidentally that day was 'Hariyali Teej (the swing festival in the month of Shravan, in rainy season) and a bus of devotees was going to Vrindavan from Aligarh. My father lost in thought, absentmindedly boarded the bus. He had no idea where the bus was going, so mired he was in his mental agony. It so happened that the conductor of the bus turned out to be one of father's old students. He offered my father a seat beside his great respect. During their talk, father came to know that on special occasions the bus goes from Aligarh to Vrindavan with devotees of Lord Krishna. Today was one of such days. My father had heard of "Banke Bihari" before also.

It was only today that he came to know that several devotees go to Vrindavan just to visit the "Banke Bihari" temple. So endearing was He to his devotees. My father's soul too now yearned for a darshan (devout glimpse) of "Banke Bihari" - the one and only Lord Krishna. The bus conductor narrated several miraculous stories about Lord Krishna to my awe struck father. He had heard several tales from bus passengers. Besides, his own life had been blessed by Krishna. He narrated his own story to my father - how many years ago he had arrived in Vrindavan as a penniless, hungry youth with no dwelling whatsoever; how he had cried and prayed to Krishna and how miraculously he was spotted by his long distant aunt - a rich lady, who adopted him and put him in service in her little transport business. That bus was one of the many buses she owned.

In the meantime the bus arrived at Vrindavan. The passengers alighted from the bus which was supposed to stay in Vrindavan for two hours after which it would go back to Aligarh. The passengers had two hours to stay in Vrindavan. The conductor took my father to the famous "Banke Bihari" temple. My father devoutly offered his soul to Shri Bankey Bihari ji and in a spirit of true devotion, surrendered completely to the Lord. It seemed that the grace of Krishna was beginning to touch my father. His entire mental agony seemed to flow down in the river of his true surrender.

The Different Man

At midnight my father returned home - a different man. He walked with a confident and steady gait. It seemed now, he had no worries; he needed no one's help; he depended on no one; he had no fear whatsoever. He had obtained His assurance - He who was the greatest of all helpers.The very next day my father confidently sent a bold reply to Lakshmi Chand's lawyer stating clearly that as he had already repaid the loan with interest in full he would not under any circumstances vacate the house. Infuriated at this, Lakshmi Chand filed a legal suit against my father in the local court. The court issued summons to my father asking him to appear in the court on a specified date. The court summon which would ordinarily terrify my father beyond any limits, was today received like a royal invitation by my father.He did not feel the slightest fear upon receiving the court summons. How could he feel fear when the Lord was with him?

The Witness

On the specified day, my father alone went to the court. There he was asked by the judge about the whereabouts of the payment receipt which Lakshmi Chand must have handed over to my father upon receiving the full payment. Upon this question my father innocently replied that he was not given any receipt nor had he insisted Lakshmi Chand to give him a receipt. There dealings were of mutual faith and trust and a receipt was unnecessary. The judge further asked my father whether he could tell him as to on what dates he had repaid the loan installments and also the amount he had repaid in every installment. My father looked up his diary and readily told everything. Lakshmi Chand kept duplicate records and presented the false records at the court. The false records, quite obviously did not have any trace of the transactions. My father kept insisting that he had seen Lakshmi Chand enter the amounts in his records but today there was no trace of the payments in Lakshmi Chand's records. Lakshmi Chand's lawyer started accusing my father of being a liar.

Lakshmi Chand's lawyer further asked my father to present any witness in whose presence my father had given the payment. My father kept quiet as he had no witness- there was in fact no witness. Hope seemed to dim, he could seek help from no one but suddenly he remembered "Banke Bihari" - the saviour behind all saviours. The glorious form of the Lord stood there in my father's vision, with his flute playfully at his beautiful lips, smiling a very familiar and charming smile at my father. Father prayed deeply to Krishna - that ocean of mercy. My father blurted out to the judge,"Banke Bihari, Banke Bihari is my witness. He was there with me every time I went to make a payment".

At this, the lawyer again asked my father to tell the name of the witness. My father said that "Banke Bihari" was the name of the witness. The lawyer growled at my father and asked him the witness's address. My father replied "Vrindavan, district Mathura, Uttar Pradesh". Upon being asked the name of the father of the witness. My father replied after some hesitation "Swami Haridas". (Swami Haridas was a great saint who lived in the sixteenth century, in Vrindavan. It was he to whom Lord appeared in person with His celestial consort and then they left behind the idol of Shri Banke Bihariji which till this day is worshipped in that famous temple of Vrindavan).

Anyway, the court attendent reached Vrindavan to present the court summon to the "witness" Banke Bihari. On reaching there he was accosted by a young beautiful dark skinned lad who offered to take him to Banke Bihari.

Before the attendant could answer, the lad took him by his hand and brought him to the Banke Bihari temple. It was afternoon and the temple was closed. The lad requested the attendant to stick the summons document on the temple door and said Banke Bihari would read it when he returned. He assured the attendant that on the day of the court proceedings, Banke Bihari would surely be present to give witness. Satisfied, the attendant returned to Aligarh.

Some people later told me that Lakshmi Chand's wicked lawyer had gleefully remarked to his client that the latter need not worry as the case would surely be settled in his favour as God would not descend to give witness in favour of the poor Gopal Das (my father). They both had had a hearty laugh at my father.

The judge was in a dilemma. He knew not what to do. Deep down he knew my father was innocent and Lakshmi Chand was fleecing him but then what could he do. My father had no proof, no witness. He wondered at my father's devotion and innocence. This man, he mused, has named Banke Bihari as his witness. Banke Bihari is the judge of all judges, the ruler of all creation, lord of all that lives. Will He have the time to come to give witness in favour of this ordinary fellow?

Just a few days now remained for the court date. My father now decided to go to Vrindavan one more time. Everyone in the household made fun of my father and tried to dissuade him from going but my father did not listen and left for Vrindavan. On reaching the temple he once more prayed fervently for the Lord's help. His surrender was complete. In the afternoon he sat outside the temple and went to sleep. In the dream Lord Krishna appeared to him and promised him that he would come to give witness in his favour. In the evening my father took a dip in the holy Yamuna and returned home.

Except for my father everyone in the household felt sure that the case would be decided in Lakshmi Chand's favour. But my father was supremely confident that he would win the case. My father's faith was dismissed as eccentricity by everyone else.

On the day of the proceeding, the judge asked my father whether his witness was ready. My father said that the witness had indeed arrived. The court attendant shouted out "Banke Bihari, present yourself to the court". There was no response. He called out again “Banke Bihari, present yourself to the court ". No response. He called out the third time “Banke Bihari, present yourself to the court ". This time a voice spoke from outside the room "I am here". Just that instant a man wrapped in a black blanket entered the court room. Everywhere there was exclamation of utter surprise. "Who is this Banke Bihari?" "Are you Gopal Das's witness?” the judge asked the mysterious stranger. The figure nodded. The stranger's blanket covered face was irritating the judge. "Please show your face and reply clearly, what is your name?” asked the judge now getting stern.

The figure slightly removed the blanket from his face and replied to the judge "Banke Bihari". The moment the judge looked at the stranger's face, he was completely awe struck at the divine luster on the stranger's face. This face was unlike that of any other human being the judge had ever seen. It was no human face; it was the face of God himself. The pen dropped out of the judge's hand, his forehead began to sweat profusely and he forgot to ask anything else. The stranger spoke, "Gopal Das has returned each and every pie with interest to Lakshmi Chand. If you want proof of this then it is to be found in a yellow file kept in the topmost partition of the almirah which lies at the right of Lakshmi Chand's office seat. All of Gopal Das's transactions appear under the name of "Das" and are fully recorded in page 2 of the file. I will now even tell you the exact amount and the dates on which Gopal Das made the payments." The witness went on to narrate every detail about the transactions. Everyone in the court was dumbstruck. Lakshmi Chand stood there trembling. His lawyer stood there staring in blank space like an idiot.

After some minutes, the judge regained his composure and asked the witness, "Can you recognize the file?". "Absolutely", replied the witness. The judge adjourned the court and went to Lakshmi Chand's office (a part of his dwelling itself) along with the witness, Gopal Das, Lakshmi Chand, Lakshmi Chand's lawyer and two court attendants. There it turned out to be exactly what the witness had told him in court. Lakshmi Chand was caught red handed.

The judge turned around. The witness had vanished! My father after that day never returned home. He who obtains the Lord makes the whole world his friend. The very next day, the judge resigned from his job and became a renunciate and devoted his remaining life to Krishna.Not only this. Everyone related to this incident in any way whatsoever soon abandoned their dwellings and vocations and got lost in the divine charm of Vrindavan for the rest of their lives -and why not? They had become useless to the world.

And so am I. I believe, it is me who caused Bihariji to undergo all this trouble as it was for my marriage that my father raised the loan and the entire episode followed. I really do not know how to express my deep regards to Him. I stay at this place always waiting for Him to come to me in the afternoon like this one, tired of chasing cows all day long, asking for water, may be in a disguise like He came to the court in Aligarh.

Divine Glimpses - When Bihariji eats sweets

Vrindavan is abound with tales of Lord Krishna descending into physical form to help out his beloved devotees. Some of the most famous ones are as follows:

As practicing vaishnavas we all have developed a habit of offering to the lord whatever food is prepared in our kitchen. We also solemnly offer bhog in the temples we visit, and partake it as the prasad. Even if we are not at home, may be traveling, or at a friend's place, or in a party we say our silent prayers before we take our meals - Shri Krishnarpanam - whatever I have, is offered to Lord Krishna. The practice has a great practical significance - we shall always be eating healthy, fresh and satvic food as stale or tamsic food can not be offered to the Lord. The important spiritual significance of the practice is derived from the dialogue between sage Valmiki and Lord Rama when latter visited the hermitage during his vanvas (exile in forests) in treta yug. Lord Rama asked the sage -Where should I live? To which the wise sage answered wittily, "You are asking me where should you live? Tell me where you are not and I will show you the place." Further elaborating about Lord's preferred places to live, the sage mentions the heart (or mind) of those who take their food only after offering to you as prasad, is where you reside with devi Sita and brother Laxman.

So we follow the practice. We ritually offer the choicest of food, fruits etc to the lord. Did we ever stopped for a moment to ask ourselves what is the outcome of all this? We are putting in so much of effort, incurring so much of cost; will He really accept our offering? Will He eat? OR more specifically does He eat? We might have asked the question silently to ourselves and immediately brushed it aside fearing blasphemy, inviting His wrath for asking such questions. So the question never comes out of our lips and naturally we do not get the appropriate answer too.

Gwariya (cowherd) Baba, a saint of yesteryears residing in Vrindavan dared to ask the question loudly and that too in Shri Banke Bihari temple. During the morning Darshan time the saint, who always referred to the lord as his friend (being a fellow cowherd); loudly asked everybody present in the temple “Has any of you seen my friend eating?” So many people were present in the temple courtyard at that time the senior elderly Goswamis, devotees from far and near, ladies, children, sewadars and whomsoever you may think of to be going to the temple. While Baba repeated his question loud and clear to all, nobody came forward. Most of them thought Baba has turned mad. Nobody believed such a question can come from a sane person.

Somebody sarcastically remarked, "Arey Baba, lord never eats. Just think, if he starts eating who will offer him Bhog? Everybody knows, He does not eat, therefore everybody offers him so much of Bhog. They are sure they will get everything back to feed themselves and earn punya at the same time by offering Bhog." They just laughed at Baba. True to his saintly nature, Baba ignored all the sarcasm and teasers and kept repeating his question. Now he started cornering senior Goswamis and asked them individually, "Have you ever seen Him eating?" Still nobody dared to answer. As baba repeated his question, a voice came from an elderly Goswami "Yes Baba, I have seen your friend eating." Hearing this Baba's joy knew no bounds. He rushed to Goswamiji, held him strongly from the arms, shaking him vigorously he almost shouted, "Tell me, revered sir, kindly tell me when, how and where did you see him eating? Your words are like nectar to me. Sir kindly tell me urgently when, how and where did you see him eating?" "Baba have patience, I will tell you every thing. Come here, sit with me. I will narrate you what I experienced here, in this very temple itself." said Goswamiji. Everybody in the temple courtyard fell silent. In fact nobody had imagined such an answer could come out for Baba's most unexpected question. Not only Baba, but everybody present was keen to hear what Goswamiji was about to say.

Goswamiji narrates his experience

A few months ago, I was in the Sewa of Bihariji. I entered the sanctum sanctorum at the appointed hour, performed all my duties right from cleaning the temple, washing the floor, awakening lord from sleep, offering the kalewa, achman, giving bath, adorning with beautiful dress, ornaments, flowers, applying sandalwood paste, itr, snacks and beeri(betel). Having done all this I opened the doors for Darshan. The temple was crowded as usual, devotees were continuously offering their respects and offerings of flowers, Bhog, money etc. Temple was filled with the din of Bolo Shri Banke Bihari Lal Ki Jai! Bolo Swami ji Maharaj ki Jai ! Jai Jai Shri Radhe!! I was continuously on my toes accepting offerings from devotees, distributing prasad, flowers etc.

It was all so routine that I had no slightest of hunch that it was going to be very special day for me, that I was about to have a divine glimpse, that Bihariji had chosen me to reveal himself. Such a fool I was. I was engaged in performing all the usual duties of a pujari mechanically. By the time of Bhog I was quite tired, I drew the curtain, closed the doors and cleared the floor of flowers etc to create right clean ambience for offering Bhog. As I was performing my duties, my mind strayed wild. I started thinking how wasteful it all is? We all are putting in so much effort to feed Bihariji, who is nothing but an idol, an inanimate object. How an idol can eat? Knowing it very well, all of us are still repeating the ritual of Bhog several times everyday. How foolish? While my mind was wandering stray and wild, my body was doing its duty lawfully. I do not know as to when I pulled up the tables in front of Bihariji, when I placed the Bhog on those tables, when I placed water etc. My mind being occupied by incoherent thoughts, and my conscious trying to repel those, it was a sort of war going on inside me. In such an unstable mental state I finally put tulsi patra (basil leaves) prayed - Shri Kunj Bihari Deva Arpanam and came out of sanctum sanctorum from the private side door, closing the doors behind me.

Now I had a break of about thirty minutes as singers started to sing Bhog Pad (prayers sung at the time of Bhog). During this time I chatted with some friends sitting in the Jagmohan. I forgot all about my dilemma during chat and became mentally stable.

As the singing came to an end, it was time to enter sanctum again and resume my priestly duties. I went inside unmindful of thoughts I had sometime back. But Bihariji remembered everything and now listen to me more carefully what I saw there. As I pulled the tables away, I noticed one of the besan laddoos was scratched. I did not consider it abnormal as it could have been done due to my own fault in handling the dish or may be the halwai's (cook) fault. After removing tables I lifted the water vessels to offer achman (drinking water). As I lifted water vessel close to the lips of Bihariji, I saw his face first time after Bhog - and I was stunned. I saw a few particles of besan laddoo sticking to his lips! Almost in a trance I went back to the dish and now I saw what I had not seen earlier- the scratch marks on the laddoo were clear imprints of a child's teeth! I again looked at the divine face, yes besan laddoo particles were there and additionally there was that charming, mischievous but reassuring smile as if saying - believe me - I AM.

Baba, I did not exactly see your friend eating but I can tell you He eats and He only can show you that He eats.

What happened after?

As Goswamiji narrated his experience, Baba became highly emotional, tears were rolling down his cheeks and he was almost sobbing like a child. With great patience and mustering all his courage he said, "Goswamiji, you have done a great favour to me by narrating your experience. This my friend Bihariji never eats with me. I always ask him to come to me and share the food but he does not come. I always thought He does not eat, He does not require food like all of us. But now I know He requires food, He eats also. Today I will see how he does not come to me and eats with me. The fellow may be going hungry all these days, I will see that he eats properly." saying so Baba got an earthen vessel full of sweets and stood in the temple courtyard, holding the vessel in his hand he started to coax the Lord to come to him and taste those excellent sweets. Now everybody was sure that Baba has lost his balance, how Bihariji could come out to him? The story narrated by Goswamiji was altogether a different matter. But Baba was determined. He continued his efforts to invite his friend, who was not able to come out of sanctum, He had his own limitations. Finally it was time for Bhog. As usual doors were shut, Bhog placed in front of Bihariji and priests came out of the private side doors.

Disappointed but not defeated, Baba sat in a corner with his vessel of sweets, still he was determined to feed Bihariji by his own hands and waited for Darshan to open again. The temple courtyard was full of devotees and nobody paid any attention to Baba.

A handsome boy, dark complexion, about 8-9 years of age walked down to Baba. In a sweet voice the boy uttered, "Baba, I am hungry. What are you holding in that earthen vessel? Why don't you give it to me?" Without looking at the child , Baba said, "No, No, it is not for you or anybody else, it is for my friend. He will come soon. I am holding it for Him, I can't give it to any body else. Try your luck somewhere else." The child giggled, "Look at me. Who am I? If I am not your friend, who else is your friend?" Baba looked at the boy. It was He! That enchanting smile, those big eyes, that sharp nose, those beautiful locks of hairs and Baba was lost. the child lovingly shook him off the trance, "Baba, I am hungry. Feed me please. I am very hungry." And Baba made the child to sit on his lap and started to feed. Baba just kept on feeding the child and looking at His innocent face. Time stood still for him while it passed as usual for the world. It was now time to open the Darshan after Bhog.

The priests tried to open the private side door but it did not open. It seemed as if it was locked from inside. They tried again and again but no chance. Confusion prevailed in the temple as how could it happen and what to do now? The child sitting on Baba's lap suddenly became restless, "Baba, I am getting late, I have to rush off." saying so the child jumped off Baba's lap and disappeared in the crowd. Satisfied Baba now came back to his surroundings. As he heard of the prevailing confusion, Baba walked up to the priests and said confidently, "Try to open the doors now, it will open." The doors were again tried and they opened this time effortlessly! On asking how he knew the doors can now be opened, Baba said, "My friend was with me, He sat on my lap and I fed Him with my own hands. As a precaution He might have locked the doors from inside while sneaking out. He got late and therefore all of you were put to inconvenience."

There was great thunder BOLO SHRI BANKE BIHARI LAL KI JAI and darshan were thrown open to the devotees.

Divine Glimpses - Itra sewa

Vrindavan is abound with tales of Lord Krishna descending into physical form to help out his beloved devotees. Some of the most famous ones are as follows:

The extract of flowers, preserved on sandalwood oil as base, is known as Itr (or Attar). Itr is known to have a soothing effect on our nervous system and has been used in aromatherapy since time immemorial. Even otherwise, the pleasing fragrance of Itr enhances the pleasure of the moment and makes everybody around happy. Itr is extensively used in daily sewa in the temples all around and is considered to be a very special offering. A devotee by the name of Vijnanai Khatri from Amritsar visited Vrindavan during the times of Swami Shri Haridasji Maharaj with a container of best Itr. The devotee had a rare experience of divinity of Vrindavan by the grace of Swamiji Maharaj. We are presenting a first person account of the incident as handed down to us by our elders.

My name is Vijnani Khatri and we own a flourishing business of perfumes in Amritsar. Our business is very well established and we are known as manufacturers of best quality of Itr, rosewater and other products. Our customers include the royals at Dilli and other places like Awadh, Jaipur, Nabha, Jammu, Jodhpur etc. Ours is a religious family and by tradition we run certain charities for the service of saints, cows, poor and social service. Saints from all over keep on visiting Amritsar and oblige us by accepting our hospitality and conducting satsang sessions at local temples and prayer halls.

One day when I visited the santniwas, I came across a saint who passed through Amritsar only a few days back on a long pilgrimage to Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath and other holy places. I was surprised to see him back from the arduous and time consuming journey. Moreover it is not only the going and coming back from the shrine; saints indulge in conducting satsang sessions at places and are never in hurry to reach back to their kutia (hermitage).

I greeted the saint in his usual style, "Jai Shri Hari".

"Jai Shri Haridas", greeted the saint back.

In a lighter tone I asked, "Revered Sir, what has happened to you? Not only that you are back from your pilgrimage so soon, you have changed your greetings also. Where from this Haridas fellow has come in place of Hari? I am surprised."

The saint laughed heartily, "Yes, you may be surprised, but as you know the universe is full of surprises. Shri Hari threw upon me a pleasant surprise this time in the form of Swami Shri Haridasji at Vrindavan. I stayed at Vrindavan for some time enjoying the divine company and there I realized my goal. I am now so much contented that I need not go anywhere. I just meditate on the Vrindavan Satsang of Swamiji and chant the holy name- Jai Jai Shri Kunj Bihari Shri Haridas, Jai Jai Shri Vrindavan Nidhivan Vas."

I became curious to know about Swami Haridas and his satsang. I had visited many places, met many saints, attended many satsangs even at Vrindavan on several occasions but never knew about this Swamiji. Moreover the glow I saw on the forehead of the saint and shine of his eyes while talking about his Vrindavan visit was unprecedented. If mere remembrance of those moments can make the saint so joyful, how much joyous would be the actual attendance of Swamiji? I wanted to know everything and that too urgently. Seeing my eagerness, the saint smiled, "Be at peace with you. Come, sit with me, I will tell you all about Swamiji I know."

Here goes the narration of the saint

“Swami Shri Haridas is the ascetic of highest order staying in Vrindavan at present. His personality is so magnetic – with shaven head, flawless skin, big pinkish eyes, shining teeth in a line, childlike innocence and friendly smile on the face, fair complexion, tall and well build body – that once you see him it is difficult to take your eyes off his face. His way of praying is through music. He himself composes poems in praise of lord in standard classical form and then he sings these in Nidhivan as well as on banks of Yamuna. His followers as well as common folks of Vrindavan believe him to be incarnation of Lalita, the sahchari of Shyama Shyam . According to tradition, Lalita is the in-charge of musical activities in eternal Vrindavan which is the abode of cosmic couple Shyama Shyam. Shri Lalita has appeared on this planet primarily to enlighten the path of Prema bhakti where a devotee is inspired to put all of his/her endeavors for maximizing the pleasure of Shri Shyama Shyam without desiring anything in return. This is the ultimate form of bhakti in contrast with the usual religious practices where the practitioner performs rituals with some expectation of gain either in material form or otherwise.

There is a small temple in Nidhivan dedicated to Shri Kunjbihariji, the revered Lord of Swami Haridas. I heard the story from local saints and disciples of Swami Haridas that Shri Shyama Shyam appeared in person in Nidhivan for a very brief period to the presence of a group of saints, enjoyed the music of Swami Haridas for a moment, talked to him and granted a black charming idol before disappearing. This idol is worshipped as Shri Kunjbihari or Bihariji or Banke Bihariji or simply Thakurji in Nidhivan, Vrindavan. The beauty and charm of Thakurji is beyond description. Only those who have darshan in the temple will know about it. I have visited so many places, so many temples – but have no hesitation to say that Bihariji is Bihariji, there is nothing to which He can be compared. After having His darshan, I decided not to go anywhere else but to return to my hermitage and meditate on Him. If any time I feel like to go out I will go to Vrindavan only to see him. So that is my story.”

Hearing the story, I got immensely interested to visit Vrindavan, bow to Swami Haridas and have darshan of his beloved Thakur Shri Bankey Bihari ji Maharaj urgently. As I reached home, my sister could see that I was lost in certain thoughts and gently asked about it. I narrated the entire story as was told to me by the saint in the evening and also mentioned to her that I was inclined to go to Vrindavan as soon as possible. We jointly decided to go to Vrindavan soon, why delay the visit to such a rare personality?

Accordingly, I made alternate arrangements to look after the business in our absence and we left Amritsar for Vrindavan. On the advice of my sister we took a small container of a recently extracted itr to offer to Swamiji. This itr was extracted from a rare variety of exotic flowers and was of a unique fragrance, we had not yet started selling it. After completing a few days journey, we reached Vrindavan and asked for direction to Swami Haridas’s place. It was afternoon and we were directed to bank of Yamuna where we saw Swami Haridas sitting in the sand surrounded by saints and pilgrims.

Swamiji, his eyes closed and fingers moving swiftly on the strings of Tanpura (musical instrument), along with a few of his disciples was singing in the praise of Lord. It was a rare combination of vocal and instrumental music and the voices were so melodious that everyone was lost in it. We too sat through the recitation and were taken over. I do not remember for how long the sitting continued but nobody moved. To me it appeared as if everything around us including birds that continuously chirp in the trees, the monkeys that are always performing aerobatics and even the water of Yamuna, everything and everybody remained stand still at that time.

Finally, the recitation session was over. It appeared to me that suddenly everything and everybody came to life. Birds started chirping, monkeys started jumping around and water in Yamuna started flowing. Swamiji moved aside his Tanpura and looked around. Everybody bowed to him, so did we. While bowing, I placed the container of itr at his feet. He looked at me, smiled and said, “Bahot achchhe samay per aye ho” (you have come at a very important moment). Saying this, Swamiji opened the container and emptied it in the sand. I got the shock of a lifetime. What type of swami he was? Did he have even slightest idea of what I offered to him? However exalted a saint may be, he has no right to hurt the sentiments of visitors like this. I was agitated but restrained myself. One thing that surprised me the fragrance of itr was totally missing, though the entire container was emptied.

The saint commanded his principal disciples, “Jao Vitthal, Jagannath jao. Thakurji ki sayan sewa ko samay hai gayo hai. Jake Thakurji ki sewa karo aur sab bhaktan kon Bihariji ke darshan karvao.”(Vitthal and Jagannath go. This is the time to perform evening rituals in the temple. Perform the rituals and let the devotees have darshan). As Vitthalji and Jagannathji proceeded to the temple, everybody followed them. It was a small temple in the place called Nidhivan. The priest entered the sanctum sanctorum of the temple through the side door and we all sat in the front verandah singing “Jai jai shyama, Jai jai shyam, Jai jai shri vrindavan dham’ and other melodies. After a few minutes the main door of the sanctum sanctorum was opened and I had the first glance of Thakurji.

I was surprised that the temple was undoubtedly filled with the sweet fragrance of the itr I had brought. I was sure nobody else could produce this fragrance as it was the result of my efforts of several months. Swamiji had emptied the container in the sand for all to see. He never gave even a single drop of it or even the empty container to Vitthalji or Jagannathji to bring it to the temple. So how that fragrance which was totally missing at Yamuna bank in spite of the entire content being poured out was so prominent at this place? I looked here and there as if trying to locate the source of fragrance but to no avail. Confused and bewildered I looked at Bihariji again surrendering to Him – I do not what is happening here. I have come to you and you must tell me what is this all about? I felt He was looking straight into my eyes. It seemed as if He was pulling me towards himself through his vision. I thought I would lose my consciousness, so I tried to take my eyes off Him but I could not. During those moments everything around me got blurred and I felt I was migrating to a different plane of consciousness. Then I had a vision of eternal Vrindavan – Shyama Shyam playing holi in the nikunj! And I saw the container I had brought being emptied in the pot of colours that they were spraying on each other!

Divine Glimpses - He was hungry that night

The tradition of regular bhogs

How many times in a day a child should eat? or, more correctly, how many times and how much each time a child should be fed? The essence of the question lies in the fact children generally do not eat, they are required to be fed. Then it obviously becomes the duty of parents to provide the child with the right amount of nutritious and delicious food at regular intervals round the clock so that the child remains well fed and does not create troubles. What type of troubles a child would create if he is hungry? Well, it depends on age. Infants cry when hungry, toddlers will reach out to kitchen and lay their hands on any eatables they can within the home, children will explore a little more in the house and reach over to fridge and other places, still elder child, particularly boys may move out to market also and buy something of their choice to eat. This is a very normal thing to happen. Nobody takes note of any of such things that keep on happening all around us all the time. Around eighty years back (in 1920's), an ordinary incident of this nature occurred in Vrindavan and it became a memorable tale as the boy involved in the incident was extraordinary, yes, Bihariji Himself came out of the sanctum sanctorum and went to the nearby market to buy something to feed Himself.

Before the referred incident happened, the tradition was to offer six meals in a day to Shri Banke Bihariji Maharaj. That continues to date. Accordingly, in the morning at the time of awakening drinks according to season, fruits and little snacks are offered. At the end of morning rituals and just before the opening of darshan, a sumptuous meal called Balbhog consisting of makhan mishri, variety of sweets and namkeens is offered. Rajbhog time is the time of main meal, the menu for which consists of roti, variety of dals and vegetables, curd, raita, karhi, rice- plain, sweet and namkeen, kheer, doodhbhat, adhota milk, papar, chuteny , pickles other sweets and assorted items. After Rajbhog arti, before putting Him to rest for the afternoon some snacks are offered. Similarly in the evening snacks, fruits and seasonal drinks are offered at the time of awakening while Balbhog is offered before opening the darshan. The menu of main evening meal, shayanbhog, consists of puris, stuffed puris, kachoris, seasonal vegetables, curd, raita, assorted sweets and namkeens, doodhbhat, papar, chuteny etc. After the shayan arti, before retiring for the day warm milk is also offered.

It was considered to be enough and nobody had even wildest imagination that something may be required during the long unattended period of night also, that a child may feel hungry over this time interval of about 9-10 hours. After all, incidents of infants and children getting up during dead of night and asking to be fed are not uncommon, instead a child sleeping for 10 hours without requiring an intermediate feed would be unusual. Now listen to that miraculous incident that happened on that night when Bihariji felt hungry.We are presenting a first person account of the incident from the shopkeeper from whom Bihariji shopped sweets.

The Incident

I own a sweet shop in the street leading to the famous Shri Banke Bihari Mandir in Vrindavan. I am talking of a time when the city was not so well developed and crowded. There were no concrete structures though we had certain two storied houses but most of the houses were single storied. Electricity was yet to become popular in the city. Most places in the market were lit up using kerosene lamps, the humble goosenecks or kuppis. Petromax were used in some big shops and also in temple courtyards and other public places. Influx of tirth yatris(religious tourists) was low and those who came generally stayed for 4-5 days in Vrindavan unlike today's touch and go tourists.

The markets of Vrindavan were timed to darshan timings of Bihariji, i.e. markets opened in the morning at the time of opening of darshan and closed in the night (late evening) at the time of shayan arti. Just within a few minutes of shayan arti all the shops were closed and only living beings to be seen in the streets were stray dogs and the night watchman. Locals preferred to go to bed early and would not come out of their houses unless it was very urgent. People, local as well as tourists would get up early in the morning, go for a holy dip in Yamuna and go for Vrindavan Parikrama (circumambulation) or simply go around the temples that open early in the morning for mangla arti. Bihariji has always been a late riser as Mangla Arti is not performed here so the shopkeepers also had lot much of time to complete their morning rounds and open up their shops well in time. That was the simple routine we used to follow.

One afternoon I received a tall order to prepare 40 Kgs of laddoos to be supplied in the next morning. The order was urgent as the laddoos were meant to be prasad of some ceremony to be performed in the morning. I accepted the order and immediately put my boys on the job. By evening we were still half way to complete our job. The work could not be completed even by the shayan arti but it seemed to be under control. Considering the fact that boys stayed at a distant place, while my house was nearby, I let the boys go and sat myself to finish the remaining part of the work. As the fellow shopkeepers closed down their shops, one of the friends joked, "It seems you have got a tall order from a very important customer and probably will be working through the whole night." I just smiled. Little did I realize at that moment what the friend of mine had unknowingly said. Yes it was a tall order but the real customer was not the person who placed the order. Actual customer of that night.well, I never knew Him.

I was working in the shop with my back to the front. My hands rolling out laddoos like a machine. My mind was completely immersed in the job at hand. I did not know whatever might have been going on around me. I was having only one goal - to finish the job as quickly as possible so that I can go home with minimum delay. At last I was able to complete the work and was about to get up when,Suddenly I heard a sweet voice "Kaka". I turned around and was surprised to see a beautiful, young boy, around 9-10 years of age, standing in front of my shop. The boy was not local. His face was quite charming. Seeing a young boy and that too an outsider in the almost deserted street at that late hour was something unexpected. I was lost in the confusion who he was and forgot to ask him what he wanted. With a sweet smile the boy said," Kaka, I am hungry. Can you give me something to eat?" The hypnotic voice was as if coming from a far off place and so convincing and assuring, there was no question of saying No. As almost in a trance I got up, put four Laddoos in a dona (leaf bowl) and handed over to him.The child took a bangle out of his hand, stretched his hand to me saying,"Please take this bangle as the price of sweets." I was looking at the face of the child and wanted to say,"You please take the sweets, I do not want any price from you." But could not speak as if paralyzed. I do not know when I stretched my hand to the boy and accepted the bangle.

The boy smiled at me, took the sweets, turned back and moved away in the street. I kept on watching till he disappeared at the end of the street. As soon as the child disappeared, I came back to my sense as if awaken from a dream. I looked at my stretched out hand - yes the gold bangle was there! So it was not a dream. Now I really started to worry - Who the child was? Where from did he get the gold bangle? If it is his own and his parents note that it is missing they will scold him badly. I may also be implicated in a forgery case, that of cheating a child. I was repenting to have that bangle and wanted to get rid of it as early as possible. But I did not have even slightest of clue where to search for him at that hour? I did not know even the name of child nor had any other information to relate to him. Under great tension and worry, I finally decided to keep the bangle in the cash box for the night and resolved to look for the rightful owner of it in the morning and hand it over to him with my apologies. With these thoughts, I closed the shop and went home. I did not talk about the incident to anybody in the house. I was afraid they may label me as insane to have left the boy uncared for at that late hour, or to have taken such an expensive bangle for the price of four laddoos, or for thinking to return the bangle. Therefore I just kept quiet about this incident while we talked about everything else.

Next morning, I got up a little early than usual. After completing the morning routine I headed for the shop as I was to give the delivery of laddoos as per the order. On my way to the shop, I went to Bihariji Mandir for dandvat (paying respects to God by prostrating) as a matter of daily practice. It seemed to me that some confusion was prevailing in the temple. The priests, Bhandari, manager and some other officials on duty were talking in a helpless manner. On inquiring about the matter I learnt that a bangle was missing from the jewelry box, though it was verified to be there at the shayan arti last night. The lock, latch etc of the room were untouched and a piece of jewelery was lost. Nobody knew what to do. I also had no clue so moved away chanting the holy names of the God. Whosoever heard about the incidence could only say,"It is all His leela." As I moved a few steps away, as a lightening strikes to me,"What about the bangle the unknown boy gave me last night?" I returned back to the manager, bhandari and priests and requested them to come to my shop. They wanted to know what the matter was , I said, "I do not know, but I have a bangle that I want to show you." Perplexed, as everybody was, they had no choice but to come with me to see and inspect the bangle. Within a few minutes I reached the shop, opened up the cash box, took out the bangle and everybody was astonished.it was the missing bangle of Bihariji.

A New Tradition

Now that the Goswamis of the temple realized the need for feeding Lord during the hours of rest also, it was decided that a box containing four laddoos along with water and beeris (betel leaves) be kept on a side table during the night as well as afternoon when the temple is closed.

Once there was a muslim Queen who was passing from Vrindavan. While going through the vrindavan she saw a lot of devotees going to shri Banke Bihari temple. After seeing so many people going to the temple, she also felt like going to the temple. When she went to the temple and saw Shri Banke Bihari. She never went out of Vrindavan and became permanent devoteee of shri Banke Bihari ji.

The ticket collector of Mathura to Vrindavan train would often visit Shri Banke Bihari temple once the shuttle reached at Vrindavan station. Every day he would arrive at Vrindavan station and would run to see Bihari ji. One fine day when he went to the temple, the altar of the temple was closed, he had to wait to see Bihariji, in the mean time the train he was in charge of left the station. When he came to know that the train has left without him, he thought he will be asked for his resignation as train has gone without him. Then he himself went to the station master and tendered his resignation. The station master was surprised, he said "Just now you submitted all the documents before going to Mathura then why you are offering the resignation". Ticket collector was in a shock, he said" If I am here then who is gone with the train"? soon he came to know that he was none but his own "Shri Banke Bihari ji" who performed ticket collector's duty. The ticket collector had tears in his eyes. He resigned from his post and spent rest of his life in service of Shri Banke Bihari ji.



Samvatsar, which falls on chaitra shukla pratipada is traditionally the first day of new year.The new year, which we are talking about here is not the more popular one which starts on 1st of January, but the traditional Indian new year.Time is a continuous process. That’s why we require a reference point to measure the passage of time for better planning of future. This reference point can be any day of the year and it is better if the day has some historical, cosmic, geographical or religious significance.Traditionally, we consider Chaitra Shukla Pratipada as the New Year day. This day has following significance:

  • This is the day on which Lord Brahma started creating the universe.
  • Navratri celebrations start on this day.
  • This is the time when nature rejuvenates in Indian continent i.e. spring sets in with lot many plants flowering and new eruptions on trees after barren looks of winter.
  • After defeating the sakas in fiercely fought battle, the great Hindu King Vikramaditya introduced a new reference year under the name Vikram era on this day (57 B.C.).

As we know Bihariji is not bound by time but He is the master of time, so it does not matter to Him how we count the time- days, months and years. We recognize it as a special day and therefore look to the Lord seeking blessings for the coming year. It is considered auspicious to listen to the astrological analysis and forecasts for the coming year on this day.

Kamda Ekadashi

The meaning of the word bihari is supreme enjoyer.True to His name, Bihariji will always find a reason and ways to enjoy all the times, be it morning or evening, be it winter ,summer or any other season. Remember how he enjoyed everything in Krishnavatar? If he was sent out with calves to the grasslands, he played with fellow cowherds, climbed on the trees, explored the interiors of forest and caves. When, grown up a little and accompanied cows, he mastered the art of playing flute and made everybody dance to its tune. If he was denied kalewa (breakfast) at home, he will simply enter any house in neighborhood along with his friends to steal food. If caught red handed during the process, he knows how to implant the boy of the house in his place and slip away smartly. Innumerable are his ways and tricks to enjoy even the most unimaginable situations.

Summer evenings are quite pleasant in north India. After braving the dust laden hot westerly (loo, as it is called locally) throughout the day when you come out in the evening and walk towards woods and plantation on banks of Yamuna, a cool breeze and sweet fragrance of bela, motia, ratrani, juhi and other summer flowers welcome you. It is in these times that Bihariji enjoys the PhoolBangla- house of flowers!

By tradition, Bihariji does not move out of the temple, at most He comes to Jagmohan where ambience suited to the occasion is created. Starting from the day of Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi till Haryali Amavasya (in the month of Shravan) Phool Bangla is erected in the jagmohan in the evenings almost on all days and Thakurji enjoys the ambience of blooming summer flowers. Not only this, He is adorned with the ornaments made of leaves, buds and flowers. Tender flat leaves of vatvriksha (banyan) are cut into the shape of ornaments like bracelet, necklace, armlet, garland, earrings and crowns. Ornaments are created out of these cut leaves by decorating with different type of buds- bela, tagar, motia, mogra and kaner. These beautiful ornaments, painstakingly prepared each day by dedicated devotees are eco friendly, very attractive, have their own natural fragrance and cool.

The dresses that Lord wears these summer evenings are also very special. These dresses are made of black fine cotton, malmal, and are intricately decorated with the buds of mogra (white) and kaner (red and yellow). Thakurji occupies His seat in PhoolBangla in jagmohan, adorned with dress and ornaments made of flowers, rather buds in the evenings these days.

Phool Bangla

The house of flowers can be deemed as a house decorated extensively with flowers or a house made up of flowers. The tradition probably originated in this temple itself as is evident by mastery of Goswamis over the art in yesteryears and at present. The Banglow is created by number of wooden frames of different shapes and sizes – like building blocks. These wooden frames have small nails on all sides to facilitate weaving by strings of flowers. Within these weavings, by swift movements of their fingers masters displace flowers left and right to develop very attractive jali patterns as you normally see in stone carvings in the havelis of Rajasthan. Standing in the temple courtyard when you look at the balcony in the first floor, you can see small panels of these stone carvings – jalis. In fact our masters of the art recreate all these patterns in the flower panels for the Phool Bangla. These decorated frames are then arranged in the shape of a multistoried house or palace complete with main room, canopy, side rooms, staircases and pinnacle. At times a Phool Bangla will have panels decorated by vegetables, fruits and banana tree openings also to have more variety. The beauty of these decorations cannot be described in words nor can it be imagined without seeing it at least once.

Akshaya Tritiya

Akshyay means something that does not decay, does not perish, or in more simple words you do not suffer any loss on account of it. This day is named as Akshyay Tritiya to remind us of the fact that the acts performed on this day become perennial in nature.

Swami Shri Haridas writes

Hari ko aisoie sab khel |
Mrigtrishna jag byap rahyo hai kahoon bijori na bel ||
Dhan mad joban mad raj mad jyon panchhin mein del |
Kahien shri Haridas yahi jiya jano tirath ko so mel ||

The world is just like the game of mirage. As a deer in desert keeps on chasing the illusory water and the greenery near it, so are we the human beings. We put in so much of effort to acquire the assets in the world but they all disappear as quickly as the hordes of birds on throwing a stone. Swami Haridas says we must consider our lives like a sojourn on pilgrimage.

Let us try to understand what he exactly meant by Tirath ko so mel or a meeting on pilgrimage. When we are on pilgrimage we stay in huge ashrams or tourist bungalows. We enjoy the architectural beauty of grand temples. We witness the religious celebrations generally comprising of great processions – decorated elephants, horses, chariots, brass bands, high flying flags. The presiding deity at the head of procession decorated with extremely fine and expensive clothes and exclusive jewelry. We also go around the gardens full of exotic flowers and herbs maintained by temples. We enjoy all these things during our pilgrimage – without owning any of them. At the end as we come back to our own humble tenement we do not carry any of these things back with us.

So what we gain out of such a pilgrimage? What do we carry back?
Holy places are rich source of powerful spiritual vibrations. If we can transcend ourselves beyond the physical manifestations of celebrations and meditate on the divinity of the deity there, we carry back the divine inspiration, the divine blessings. And that is the only thing – which is imperishable – worth carrying back.

So on this day, Akshyay Tritiya, look out to achieve the imperishable – the divine blessing.The ancient wisdom teaches us to give, to donate for noble cause. And these noble deeds only bring us the divine blessings which protect us during difficult times.Our revered Lord Thakur Shri Banke Bihari ji Maharaj is extra generous on this day. He permits you the darshan of sacred lotus feet on this day. This is only on this day throughout the year that devotees get a chance to see and admire the beauty of His feet. Today you can meditate on those feet for which saint Surdas had sung:

Bandaun charan kamal hari raie |
Jaki kripa pangu giri langhe, andhe ko sab kachhu darsaie ||
Bahiro sune, mook puni bole, rank chale sir chhatra dharaie |
Surdas swami karunamaya, bar bar bandaun tehi paie ||

Such is the fame of the lotus feet of Lord!

As sung by exalted, divine devotee saint Surdas: this is by the grace of darshan and dhyan (meditation) of the lotus feet of Lord that all impossible things become possible in the world. A lame can cross high mountains, blind can see each and every thing, deaf can hear , dumb can speak and poor can become rich and powerful so as to be honored to move with Chhatra (ceremonial umbrella, generally used in grand processions). The poet says my lord is so kind, full of kindness; I bow to His Lotus Feet! Bow To His Lotus Feet! Again and again.

And the evening Darshan carries a still bigger treat for you. The Lord sheds away much of the clothing – he would be wearing only a dhoti (loincloth) around his waist. We call it the sarvang Darshan – darshan of the whole body of Shri Banke Bihari ji Maharaj. A rare opportunity indeed!

Festival Significance

Charan Darshan (morning) and Sarvang Darshan (evening)

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Vaishakh Shukla Tritiya

Guru Poornima

Aashaadha poornima day is dedicated to Guru Pooja. On this day we remember the great saints and the gurus who elucidated the mystery of the universe and the creator. Foremost amongst them is sage Vyasa, who classified the accumulated spiritual knowledge of the Vedas under four heads - Rig, Yajur, Saama and Atharva. To him goes the credit of composing the authentic treatise of Brahma-sootras to explain the background of Vedas. He also wrote the eighteen Puranas, the stories of our great heroes and saints, to carry the spiritual and moral precepts contained therein to the common masses.

The greatest of epics of all times and of all climes - Mahaabhaarata - embodying the immortal song of God, the Bhagavad Geeta, also in it, is also the priceless gift of Vyasa. The Shri Madbhaagavata Mahapuran, the thrilling and devotional story of Sri Krishna, was also his contribution. It is in the fitness of things that Vyasa should be looked upon as the supreme preceptor of mankind. In his honour the day is also known as Vyasa Poornima.The inspiration for all this compilation of knowledge is divine and coming directly from the fountainhead of the universe itself. So the supreme guru of the universe is none other than the creator Himself.  A daily prayer of devout vaishnavas read as:

Vasudev sutam devam, kamsa charnoor mardanam|
Devaki parmanandam ,Krishnam vande jagadgurum ||


Prostrations to Krishna, the son of Vasudev, bestower of divine happiness to Devaki, demolisher of ego of demon Kamsa and Charnoor, the Universal Guru.

The clear message here is

There is no difference between the Guru and God. They are one and the same. Inspired from here we have a prayer in honour of Guru as under:

Gururbrahmaa gururvishnuh gururdevo Maheswarah |
Guruh-saakshaat parabrahma tasmai shrigurave namah ||


My salutations to the Guru who is Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara. The Guru is Parabrahma incarnate.

The seeker should apply a little discrimination here – as guru is considered the Parabrahma incarnate, the devotee should look for and realize that divine spark in the personality of guru before submitting. On the other hand, it is perfectly alright to adopt Shri Krishna or any other form of proven divinity as guru and following the path to salvation.

The tradition of celestial Gurus coming on to the earth and revealing the truth and true path continues. We are not attempting to give a complete list of such divinities but a few names that come to mind promptly are: Gautam Buddha, Adi Shanker, Shri Ramanujacharya, Shri Vallabhacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Swami Shri Haridas, Gowami Tulsidas, Shri Nimbarkacharya, Shri Hit Harivansha, Shri Ram Krishna Paramhans, Swami Vivekanand, Guru Nanakdev, Swami Dayanand Saraswati and many others.

This presentation is dedicated to Shri Bankey Bihari Mandir, Vrindavan. The tradition was started by Swami Shri Haridas, who was the incarnation of Shri Lalita, the image and intimate friend of Shri Radhey. Swami Shri Haridas elucidated the path to Nikunj Ras through complete surrender. He is considered to be the Adya Acharya( original Guru) propagating Madhury Bhakti. However in Brijmandal, Madhury Bhakti as well as Prema Bhakti both are widely practiced and are intermixed beyond recognition. We have a daily prayer common to our beloved Thakurji Shri Bankey Bihariji Maharaj and our revered Guru Swami Shri Haridasji as:  

Namah kunj biharinyai, namah kunj biharine|
Swami shri haridasay gurunam guruve namah||


Prostration to Lord Kunjbiharini- Kunjbihari. Prostrations to Swami Shri Haridas who is guru of all gurus.


On this day, the temple as well Nidhivan both of the places are tastefully decorated. As we know the very meaning of the term Bihari is supreme enjoyer, such decorations are rather a daily affair. The ritual of Panchamrit abhishek (ceremonial bath with cow dung, milk, curd, honey and water) is conducted at Nidhivan in the morning. Devotees throng Nidhivan as well as the temple to pay respects to the guru and seek his grace. In the evening Phool Bangla (a palace of flowers) is erected in Nidhivan, at the Samadhi Mandir of Swami Shri Haridas.

So, on this Guru Poornima day wherever you are, meditate on Swami Shri Haridas, the Guru of all Gurus .You can have a view of Samadhi Mandir in our picture gallery. And pray earnestly:

Asato ma sadgamay, tamso ma jyotirgamay, mrityor ma amritamgamay|


O divine Guru, guide me to realty from illusion, to light from darkness, to eternal from perishable.

Festival Significance

Phool Bangla for Swami Haridas in Nidhivan

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Aasharh Shukla Poornima

Haryali Amavasya

Festival Significance

Last day of Phool Bangla

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Shravan Krishna Amavasya
Haryali Teej

The month of shravan (Jul- Aug) is the time when monsoon sets well in the plains and hills of north India. The rains start a little ahead of Shravan, and first few days of the season are quite uncomfortable as these are warm and humid. As the rainy season sets in, it becomes pleasant day by day. By the middle of the month (Haryali Amavasya) the season is really enjoyable, we have cool moisture laden easterlies sweeping across the fields. Sometimes it is cloudy, sometimes sunny. We also have long spells of drizzle interspersed with heavy rains. Traditionally it is the time for more and more outdoor activities in the gardens and the woods. In Brijmandal, many rural sports tournaments like wrestling, long jump, high jump, races, hurdle race and others are organized in the make shift stadiums and Akharas. While men folks get busy with their sporting events, ladies and young girls also come out to gardens and enjoy their swing festival along with other outdoor games.A seasonal peculiarity is that the berries of neem tree ripen in this month. Young girls on the swings just before the month of Shravan therefore sing:

Kachchi neem ki niboli sawan juldee aaiyo re |


The neem trees are laden with raw berries, it is the time that the month of Shravan is approaching fast. There are so many other folk songs describing the cuckoo’s sweet call in the orchards and the beauty of seasonal blossoms in the gardens.

On the spiritual level the month is largely dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is believed that this was the time when Lord Shiva proceeded to his abode in Kailash along with Godess Parvati after a rather long stint in Himachal (home place of Mata Parvati). A beautiful folk song goes as:

Shiv shanker chale Kailash bundiya parne lagi |


As lord Shiva headed for Kailash, it started drizzling. What is the message contained? Is it not an advisory to the Lord to stay back as it is already raining?

We have rituals associated with Lord Shiva coming up at this time.The most revered is the Amarnath Yatra.The holy cave shrine in high Kashmir Himalayas, where a natural ice shivlingam is formed these days, is visited by lakhs of devotees every year. In the plains we have Kanwar mela. Lakhs and lakhs of devotees carry the holy water from the Ganges on their shoulders to the Shiva temples of their villages and offer gangajal abhishek on the Shravan Krishna Trayodashi day. At a still larger plain devout Hindus, ladies as well as gentlemen observe fasting on Mondays in this month, practice austerity and perform worship in the evenings in local Shiva temples.

How the month and the day is celebrated in the temple

Supreme enjoyer as our beloved Thakurji Shri Bankey Bihari ji Maharaj is known to be, His way of celebrating the month is marvelous. For first fifteen days, i.e. up to Haryali Amavasya the summer festival of Phool Bangla (palace of flowers) is continued. Last Phool Bangla of the season is decorated in the evening of Haryali Amavasya. From the same day the preparations for putting up the Hindola (grand golden swing) starts. This swing is a huge palatial structure which is erected on a platform outside of jagmohan. The grandeur and beauty of the swing is a matter to be seen not to be described.

On the evening of Haryali Teej, Bihariji grace the swing. Along with Priyaji and Swami Haridasji, He moves out of the sanctum sanctorum to occupy the swing in the courtyard. Thakurji is adorned with a green poshak in harmony with nature. The special preparations for Prasad on this occasion are ghevar and pheny. A very large number of devotees throng the temple on this day to have a glimpse of their beloved Thakurji enjoying the swing. The festival is also referred to as Jhoolan Yatra. A sweet composition for this occasion goes as:

Radhe jhoolan padharo re ghir aaye badra |


Here Lord Krishna is suggesting O beloved Radha, look sky is overcast let us go for swinging.

Festival Significance

Jhoola festival

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Shravan Shukla Tritiya

Raksha Bandhan

As we all know this day is celebrated to strengthen the bond among brothers and sisters. Sister ties a Raksha Sutra, Rakhi, on the wrist of brother, praying for his longevity and prosperity. Brother in turn assures the sister of all help and support from his side, should she need it. The celebration generally ends with a family reunion, exchange of gifts and extending wish for each other.

How does a devotee celebrate this day? She/he offers a Rakhi to the Lord, offers choicest of delicacies and fruits as bhog, meditates on Him and feels satisfied that he has developed a relationship with Him.

This is an important aspect-Develop a relationship. A really close relationship. And if you are serious about it – Lord will definitely be more serious to maintain the relationship. Realizing God becomes much more simple and easy when we develop such simple relationships like that of a friend, brother, guru, father, mother or even son or grandson with Him.

Let us try to understand this by way of an example

Sages and saints meditate on God as the creator, master of all, universal soul etc. They pray for years – maybe millions of years – birth after birth, and may succeed to realize Him at the end. Now, Lord Ram was directed to go to the forests for fourteen years. He left Ayodhya along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman. During his stay in forests He visited the Ashrams and hermitages of many saints and rishis. This was the culmination of long, untiring efforts of tapasya of these saints that Lord Ram came to them, bowed to them, stayed with them and accepted their ardhya, padhya in person! Simple and illiterate women dwellers of forests saw him during these travels and developed a strong desire to come close to Shri Ram, touch Him, walk with him and achieve Him as their husband. They mentally accepted Shri Ram as their husband and nurtured this emotional relationship intensely. And see the result – their wish was granted soon – during Krishnavatar, Lord fulfilled all their desires by inducting them all in Maha Raas.

So we know, it becomes immensely simple to achieve God by developing an affectionate, sincere relationship. This is in this context that devotee must see the festival of Raksha Bandhan. Today, develop a relationship of brotherhood with Bihariji. Offer Him a Rakhi and pray Him to be a brother. The option is not limited to female devotees only, even males can develop the same relationship and offer him a Rakhi.

Now what kind of Rakhi it should be? Should it be a golden one? Or made of silver? Or at least of silk? Or?? We are confused – if we are offering a Rakhi to Bihariji it should be exclusive – not a common type. What kind of exclusiveness is liked by the Lord?

To briefly recall the episode of Draupadi Cheer Haran from Mahabharat. We all know Lord Krishna saved her in a unique way out of a grave humiliating situation. Draupadi is also known as Krishna Sakhi or simply as Krisna – because she loved Lord Krishna as her brother. So what kind of Rakhi Draupadi tied on wrist of her brother Lord Krishna? Once Krishna came to see Pandavas in the forests during the period of their exile. He had a cut on his finger that was bleeding. Seeing this, Draupadi immediately tore off the edge of her Saree and dressed his wound to comfort him. So, this was the kind of Rakhi, Draupadi offered to Lord Krishna. It had the exclusiveness of concern, love, sharing pain and sharing emotions.

So, on this Raksha Bandhan Day, let us all offer our beloved Shri Bihariji Maharaj a Rakhi full of love and affection and develop a relationship. Then we start calling Him as – Mere Bhaiyya Bihariji Vrindavan Vale! If you are not able to reach Vrindavan on this occasion, just call Him to your place. He is sure to visit you and accept the Rakhi as He always answers the true callings.

Festival Significance

Renew the bond of love

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Shravan Shukla Poornima

Krishna Janmashtami

Shri Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated on eighth day of first fortnight (Krishna Paksha) of Bhadrapad month. It is celebrated in a unique way in Shri Bankey Bihari Temple that Mangla Aarti is performed on this day. The sequence of activities is described below.

Throughout the day of Janmashtami, we have regular darshan in the temple. After Shayan Aarti (i.e. 2130 hrs) Bihariji goes to sleep as usual. A Shri Madbhagvatam discourse session, based on Shri Krisnna Janma katha (tenth Skandha) is organized outside the temple. Entire temple and surroundings are tastefully decorated with flowers, Patakas (flags), hangings and lights. In the Jagmohan (i.e. the elevated hall just outside sanctum sanctorum) a special throne made of gold and silver is placed (this area is generally accessible to visitors for having a closer darshan, but on celebrations it is isolated and Bihariji comes out of inner sanctum, so more visitors may have a closer and wider view).

At midnight Maha Abhishek is conducted in the inner sanctum, the ceremony is not open for public view. In this process deity is given a ceremonial bath by milk, curd, honey, ghee and water. After the abhishek, deity is decorated with fine cloths and jewellery for this special occasion. All other steps of regular Sewa like offerings of flowers, Tulsi, chandan, balbhog, beeri, itr etc are performed religiously. Bihariji comes to jagmohan and occupies the throne there. Darshan opens at around 2 AM. This is a very special midnight darshan session which continues up to 6 AM in the morning. This day Bihariji’s darshan as a birthday boy is extraordinarily charming !

The panchamrit Prasad (i.e. Prasad of maha abhishek, a mix of milk, curd, honey, ghee and water) is distributed among the devotees. Specially prepared delicacies i.e. sweets prepared from musk melon seeds, coconut, makhane etc are offered as bhog.

Mangla aarti is performed at 3.30AM. It is worthwhile to remember that the mangla aarti (early morning aarti) is not performed in the temple on regular basis. This is only on Janmashtami day, once in a year, that Bihariji is awake at this unearthly hour and mangla aarti is performed. After the mangla aarti, bhog is offered at 5 AM and darshan closes at 6 AM after another aarti.

Festival Significance

Birthday of Lord Krishna (only on this day Mangla Aarti is performed)

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Bhadrapad Krishna Ashtami


In the morning after Janmashtami, i.e. Navami, Nandotsav is celebrated in the temple premises. Bihariji continues to sit in the Jagmohan extending his grace and divine charm to one and all. The priests and devotees distribute sweets, fruits, clothes, toys, utensils, coins as part of celebration. Devotional songs congratulating Nand Baba on birth of Krishna are sung in chorus. Everybody feels as if Krishna is born today and in a joyous mood people dance almost hysterically congratulating each other. The temple court presents a picture of almost confusion and chaos and nobody is able to hear what other is saying. Each one is enjoying in his own way i.e. dancing, singing, praying, throwing away gifts or collecting them as Prasad. It seems that everybody has gone mad. It is a mad congregation of devotees celebrating the birth of divinity! Why and how they all have become mad? Probably they are over drunk(?) with the joy of Radha Nam Sankirtan (repetition of divine name Radhey!Radhey!.
Such celebrations continue till Rajbhog Aarti(12.00 noon).

Festival Significance

Celebrating the birth of Lord

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Bhadrapad Krishna Navmi

Radha Ashtami

Appearance day of Shree Radha raniji

Raas Raaseshwari Shri Radhey appeared in Brij Mandal as the lovely daughter of Shri Vrishbhanuji in Barsana on Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami i.e. eighth day of bright fortnight of the Bhadrapad month. Her village Barsana is located between Goverdhan and Nandgaon. The entire area is agricultural in nature and land beyond fields is densely forested. These forests are inhabited by large colonies of monkeys and peacocks apart from other wild animals. Peacocks entering inside the populated area and dancing on the rooftops is a common site here. Similarly monkeys entering into houses and running away with food items or anything that they may fancy about are a frequent occurrence. Brijvasi, as the residents of these areas are known, are a kind hearted lot. They do not get angered and hurt the monkeys rather they just scare them away. The area is dotted with a large numbers of natural springs and ponds which are called as Kunds. So this beautiful land has the distinction of being the playground of Radha and Krishna.

In this beautiful land of Brij, Radha’s birthday is celebrated with the same joy and zeal as Krishna’s. Again the temples are decorated, special prayers are offered and devotional songs congratulating Sh Vrishbhanu on birth of a daughter are sung in chorus.

Devi Radha, the mother eternal, is very kind hearted and loving. She is the driving force behind all of the Krishna’Leelas . The spirit of Brij Bhakti is Raasleela, where Radha is supreme. Lord Krishna seeks her permission and it is at her pleasure that the Leela is continued.

As ordinary mortal beings, we all know it is much easier to gain favors from mother. Mother gives us birth, mother nourishes us, mother protects us, mother educates us, mother gives us character and virtues, mother gives us everything and in difficult times we call back her for overcoming our own weakness. So, on this occasion pray to universal mother:

Radhey shri vrishbhanu dulari, hum per kripa karo maharaj,
Aisi kripa karo maharaj, sada hum brij mein karein niwas,
Radhey shri vrishbhanu dulari, hum per kripa karo maharaj.

Appearance day of Swami Shree Haridas ji

Swami Haridas was a multi faceted personality. Primarily we know him as the saint who realized God through the route of nad brahma sadhna i.e. praying continuously in music. He not only composed a large number of poems (pad) but also started and perfected newer raags in classical music to sing the same. He realized God in the form of Shri Bankey Bihari, started the tradition of and initiated his disciples into rasopasna bhakti.
He is also known as Adya Acharya of Raas Leela tradition. His birthday, which falls on Radha Ashtami day, is celebrated as a very special day in the temple, in Nidhivan and in Vrindavan. Nidhivan as well as temple, both are decorated tastefully with flowers, flags and hangings. We have regular darshan at both places in the morning. In afternoon, around 4:30 PM, Raas Leela is staged in the courtyard of the temple. It is worthwhile to note, it is only once in the whole year on this day, that Raas Leela is performed in the temple. The theme of Leela is veni guthan, that is, Krishna makes up the hair of Radha and ties it into a nice braid. The Leela is based on one of the compositions of Swami Haridas as under (from Shri Kelimal): Baini goonthi kaha kou janain meri see, teri saun.

Bich bich phool set peet rate, aur ko kari sakai reesaun.
Baithe rasik sanvaran baran, komal kar kakahi saun.
Shri Haridas ke swami syama nakh- sikh laun banai,
De kajar nakh hi saun.

This is one of the extremely sweet compositions of Swamiji in rag sarang. Transliteration goes like:

Shri Krishna says:” Hey Shri Radhey, I swear by you no one knows to braid the hair comparable to me. I can interweave flowers of various colours – white, yellow and other – in between the plaits which nobody else can do.” Submitting to the sweet talk, Radha agrees and Rasik Shiromani Shri Krishna starts caring her hair by his delicate hands. Krishna not only makes a braid (Baini or vaini ), but makes her up from toe to head ( nakh- shikh sringar). He finally applies kajar (kajal or the lampblack).

The very same leela was performed on the same Radha Ashtami day at Vishram Ghat, Mathura in the presence of Shri Swami Ballabhacharya and Sri Swami Haridas when they jointly revived the then extinct tradition of staging Raas Leela. The tradition continues and the Leela is staged in the afternoon of Radha Ashtami day in the courtyard of Sri Bankey Bihari temple.

In the evening a grand procession, called chav, is taken out from the temple. The procession consists of several brass bands, other musical performing groups, decorated elephants, high flags and keertan groups. It is headed by the swaroops of Raas Mandali, who earlier stage Leela in the temple. Devotees from far and near form their own keertan mandalis and become part of the procession. The Goswamis participate in a group singing devotional songs, celebrating birth of Swami Haridas in a very special style known as samaj gayan. Lot many gifts – as Prasad of Bihariji – are carried along to be presented to Swami Haridas. The spirit behind the procession is being – Bihariji going to greet Swami Haridas on this auspicious occasion.

The procession heads for Nidhivan, the place of Swami Haridas’s penance and place of appearance of Bihariji. On arrival of the procession here Swamiji is offered the Prasad sent by Bihariji and Raas Leela is performed upto late night. Again this is the only day when devotees can stay in Nidhivan so late in the evening. At the conclusion of Raas Leela Aarti is performed and devotees disperse chanting:

Jai jai shri kunjbihari shri haridas, jai jai shri vrindavan nidhivan vaas.

Swami Haridas Sangeet Sammelan

On the occasion of Radha Ashtami a grand festival of classical music and dance is organized in Vrindavan. Musicians and dancer of repute consider it a privilege to get invited for this festival. The Sammelan goes on for three to four days. Morning sessions are conducted in Nidhivan where musicians perform in front of the Samadhi Sthal of Swami Haridas to pay tribute to the all-time great saint musician. In the evenings the venue of the programme shifts to specially erect huge shamianas at the outskirts of city. The performances generally continue till early mornings and the entire city gets drenched in the bhakti ras by the grace of Swami Shri Haridasji.

Festival Significance

Birthday of Swami Haridasji,Birthday of Radhaji.

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami

Sharad Poornima

As we all know this day or rather this night is remembered by Brijwasis as the night of Maharas, Shri Bihariji Maharaj decorates himself in the Maharas posture. In the afternoon of this day the jagmohan (i.e. the elevated hall in front of sanctum sanctorum) is decorated to give a forest like look by putting up branches of flowering trees. A silver hut is placed in the centre to serve as the throne. Entire temple courtyard is also tastefully decorated with banana trees, vandanvars, flowers and hangings.

Evening Darshan on this day is very special. If you are called on this day you will find Bihariji is looking different! Everybody may not be able to note these differences and understand the significance, hence we would try to explain them here. First of all Bihariji will move out of his usual place to come close to you in the jagmohan in a forest like ambience.

Second special thing is He will be dressed in all whites. The dark Lord in a dazzling white dress, complete with intricate zari work sets the mood for Maharas!

Only on this evening you will find murali, the flute, in the hands and on the lips of Bihariji Maharaj. On all other days the flute is just kept at the throne on the right side along with the small water container. Remember the effect the flute had on brijwasis particularly the gopis? The all charming celestial sound that comes out of Krishna’s flute takes over the individual consciousness of all living beings and they are all attracted to Krishna consciousness! Shrimadbhagvatm (tenth skandh, chapter 29, Venugeet, verse 6) says:

Iti venu ravm rajan sarva bhoot manoharam|
Shrutva vrajstriyah sarvaa varnayantyo bhirebhire||

Shri Shukdev says

O king Parikshit, this sound produced by the flute is capable of stealing the mind of all beings. On hearing this sound all the ladies of brij, gopis, started talking about the attributes of Krishna. While talking they discovered Krishna and started embracing him.

So, today, once again the flute is on the lips of Shri Bankey Bihari ji Maharaj!

When you come out of the trance of venunad, the sound of flute, look what He is wearing on head? It is different. Of course there is the usual pag, i.e. the turban tied in its unique style with the strings of pearls. But the crown is unusual. Today he will be wearing a crown similar to that of Shri Srinathji. Scroll down to view the paintings of Shri Bihariji and Shri Srinathji so as to understand the difference in the two crowns. On left you see Shri Bihariji displaying his usual crown, known as tipara, with lots of designs and cuts, devoid of a smooth outline. On right you see Shri Srinathji whose crown displays a smooth outline with a lot of intricate designs inside, known as mukut. According to legends this mukut was designed by Shri Vallabhcharya, Swami Haridas and other contemporary saints for Shri Krishna. Afterwards the same mukut was adopted as standard for stage performance of rasleela. Whenever you witness a rasleela performance you always see Krishna having the same mukut.

That is to say, today Bihariji dresses up as Lord Krishna all set to cast the spell by His murali, the flute.Moon is granted a very special favour to touch the feet of Shri Bihariji today. As you may be knowing Bihariji stands in west looking to east and the moon rises in east on Poornima day. The shutters on the grill covering courtyard are moved out so as to permit the moonlight in. Darshan in this evening remain open till such time the moonlight reaches the feet of Shri Bihariji. The moon thus blessed, is believed to spread the blessings all over by its rays. Therefore devout Hindus all over make it a point to prepare kheer, the payasam, in the evening and keep in the moonlight till around midnight and then it is distributed as Prasad.

Jai Shri Swami Haridas! Jai Shri Kunjbihari !!

Festival Significance

Day of Maha Raas

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Ashwin Shukla Poornima

Roop Chaturdashi

Festival Significance

Chhoti Deepavali

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Kartik Krishna Chaturdashi


Chaitra shukla pratipada, i.e. the day following holika dahan is known as Dhulendi. In fact, this is the day when holi is played all over the country. Holi celebrations reach a peak on this day in Vrindavan as well as in the temple on this day. By tradition Bihariji does not play Holi on this day rather He only watches the devotees playing Holi.

The decoration in the temple jagmohan is changed. The silver hut is shifted and a grand golden Bungalow is erected in its place. The curtains stained by Holi colors are also replaced by new ones. Bihariji occupies the high throne to grace the occasion. The arrangements remain the same for morning as well as evening Darshans. Priests do not sprinkle colored water or throw colored powder on devotees rather devotees carry gulal (colored powder) with them and throw it towards Thakurji as well as on each other. Bihariji just sits calmly in his grand bungalow showering his kindness on all.

Huranga (world famous laththamar holi) is organized near the temple premises in the afternoon which continues till evening. At the end the groups of ladies and gents playing huranga go to the temple singing holi songs to secure divine blessings.

Festival Significance


Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Chaitra Krishna Pratipada

Holika Dahan

Festival Significance

Colourful Holi celebrations end

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Phalgun Shukla Poornima

Aanola Ekadashi

Festival Significance

Colourful Holi celebrations start

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Phalgun Shukla Ekadashi

Bihar Panchami

On this auspicious day the unreachable came in reach! The invisible became visible! The Supreme Lord, incomprehensible by all human endeavor and knowledge, won over by dedication, humility and love of his devotees appeared to them in person. Here goes the story.

Swami Haridas, who was no other than Lalita sakhi of the inner consortium of Lord; constantly and continuously meditated on Nitya Ras and Nitya Bihar of Lord at Nitya Vrindavan. His way of Sadhna was to compose and sing songs in the praise of Lord. While on earth, living in a mortal state, he maintained his regular participation in the Nitya Bihar and always enjoyed the pleasure of closeness of Lord. He chose a secluded and dense forest area in Nidhivan as his gateway to the Nitya Bihar and was mostly sitting there, singing, meditating and surfing in the ocean of eternal bliss.

His disciples wanted to know what was so special about that particular place. His nephew and principal disciple Vithal (Veethal) Vipul Dev expressed the collective desire of all to Swamiji. Swamiji advised them to concentrate on their Sadhana and assured of revealing the Nitya Vihar at the right moment. So one day, which happened to be the birth day of Vithal Vipul, Swamiji called all of them and asked them to enter the Kunj. Vithal Vipul led the group of disciples to the interior of the kunj, but instead of seeing anything they were almost blinded by a bright, intense light, which seemed to fill the whole place. Astonished, they all went to swamiji and counted their strange experience that the seemingly dark interiors of the kunj were so intensely illuminated. Swamiji smiled, bowed to the master of the universe and he took the group to the kunj. The group of devotees sat there with an earnest desire to know the secret of the place. Swamiji prayed, the disciples followed the Guru, their eyes fixed on the kunj – they never knew what was in stock for them. They only had a faint idea – time had probably come that they may have a darshan of Nitya Vihar. And then moved by their dedication and grace of Swamiji, lord appeared in person with his divine consort, pleasantly smiling and in a playful mood, casting a spell of charm on every living being present there. Those who witnessed this, were so spell bounded by the divine beauty of the Lord and his consort, that they couldn’t even blink their eyes, it seemed that all of them had turned into statues.

Swamiji almost instantaneously sang

Mai ri sahaj jori pragat bhai ju rang ki gaur syam ghan damini jaisen|
Pratham hun huti ab hun aagen hun rahihai na tarihai taisain ||
Ang ang ki ujraii sugharaii chaturaii sunderta aisain|
Shri Haridas ke swami syama kunjbihari sam vais vaisain||

The central idea of the song is: look, the eternal, natural couple has appeared. They appear like lightening in dark clouds. Also the couple is constant in nature, that it exists in all the times and can not be changed by any means. Their charm and wisdom, the glow and shapeliness of the limbs is beyond any comparison i.e. they are like themselves only. Swami Haridas says that my lords Syama- Kunjbihari, though beyond birth, death and aging, are of the same age (kishore). At a different place Swami Haridas writes:

Mere nitya kishore ajanma|

That is, my ever young lord is birth less.

So, this eternal couple granted an image of themselves embodying the same charm and beauty to Swami Haridas ji for the posterity. This image is revered as a living god and called by different names: Bihariji, Bankey Bihari ji, Kunj Bihariji and many others at the pleasure of devotees.


Entire premises of Nidhivan as well as the Bankey Bihari temple and surroundings are tastefully decorated with flowers, Patakas (flags), hangings and lights on this occasion.

Main celebrations of this day start at Shri Bankey Bihari ji Prakatya Sthal (place of appearance) in Nidhivan. Abhishek is conducted at this place early in the morning, the ceremony is conducted in full public view. In this process the symbolic footprints of Shri Bankey Bihari ji Maharaj is given a ceremonial bath by milk, curd, honey, ghee and water. After the abhishek, the place is decorated as usual with fine cloths with frills, flowers and jewellery for this special occasion. The panchamrit Prasad (i.e. Prasad of abhishek, a mix of milk, curd, honey, ghee and water) is distributed among the devotees.

Later in the morning a grand procession is taken out from Nidhivan to the Shri Bankey Bihari temple. The procession consists of several brass bands, other musical performing groups, decorated elephants, high flags and keertan groups. It is headed by three decorated chariots housing the images of Swami Shri Haridasji, Shri Vithal (Veethal) Vipul Devji and Shri Goswami Jagannathji Maharaj (Goswami Jagannathji Maharaj was one of the principal disciple and younger brother of Swami Haridas ji to whom he handed over the responsibility of regular Sewa of Shri Bankey Bihari ji. The sewayat Goswamis at the temple are his descendents). Devotees from far and near form their own keertan mandalis and become part of the procession. The spirit behind the procession is being – Swami Shri Haridasji along with his principal disciples going to greet Shri Bankey Bihari ji Maharaj on this auspicious occasion.

The procession passes through main bazaars of Vrindavan to reach Shri Bankey Bihari temple by the time of Rajbhog (12 in the noon). Images of saints are taken inside the temple and then Rajbhog is offered to Bihariji. Devotees believe that Bihariji enjoys the meals offered by Swami Haridas ji by his own hands, sitting in his lap on this day. After Rajbhog Arti, at the end of celebrations Prasad is distributed among the devotees.

Jai Shri Banke Bihari !! Jai Shri Swami Haridas !!

Festival Significance

Day of Appearance of Bihariji

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Margshirsha Shukla Panchami

Akshay Navmi

Akshyay means inexhaustible or something that does not decay, does not perish, or in more simple words you do not suffer any loss on account of it. We have a festival in the name of Akshyay Tritiya celebrated on vaishakh shukla tritiya and another festival in a similar name of Akshyay Navami almost after six months of the earlier that is celebrated on Kartik Shukla Navami ie on ninth day of second (bright) fortnight of the month Kartik. According to the Puranas, Treta Yuga began from this day. Also on this day Sun God worshipped Durga and was in return awarded with unlimited gifts possibly in the form of solar properties which are now so beneficial to mankind. The main characteristics which lends the epithet `Akshyay' or Indestructible to this day is that gifts bestowed on this particular day continue to bear blessings for ever. The day is spent by devout Hindus in meditation and prayer to acquire the inexhaustible knowledge of God and thereby attain eternal bliss and peace.

This is the day on which devotees undertake parikrama (circumambulate) of the twin city of Mathura and Vrindavan. They come out of their homes early in the morning before sunrise, barefoot, walk down to Yamuna, take a holy dip, worship Yamuna, smear a little of Braj Raj on their foreheads and then start the Parikrama. Wearing the braj raj on the forehead is said to be assuring salvation to salvation itself. As some enlightened saint of yesteryears mentions:

Vrindavan ki gail mein mukti pade bilkhaye,
Mukti kahe Gopal son, meri mukti bataein |
Padie raho ya gail mein panthi awat jayein,
Brij-raj ud mastak lage, mukti mukt hai jai ||

Meaning goes as

The goddess Salvation (Mukti), lying in the lanes of Vrindavan, is crying. The Goddess is urging Gopal( a lovely name of Lord Krishna, meaning the protector of cows, the cowherd boy) to tell her  the way that she herself can be salvaged. The Lord tells her to patiently keep on lying in these lanes of Vrindavan. As the people will walk up and down the lane the dust of Vrindavan (Braj-raj) will raise off the ground by their footfalls and as it touches your forehead you will attain salvation. Such is the divine power of Braj-raj.

So, the devotees wearing braj-raj on their foreheads go around the holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan. As they start from Vrindavan, walking along the holy river Yamuna,   on their way they offer their respects at various temples- Shri Banke Bihari Mandir, Kaliya Dah, Cheer Ghat, Nidhivan, Keshi Ghat, Gopeshwar Mahadev, Jagannath Ghat and finally Godess Durga in Vrindavan. Then they walk towards Mathura, along Yamuna taking the same rout as taken by Lord Krishna when He left Vrindavan on invitation of His maternal uncle Kamsa, and offer pooja at Akroor Ghat temple on their way. On entering Mathura they worship Yamuna again at Vishram Ghat, offer pooja at Dwarkadhesh Temple, Rangeshwar Mahadev, Bhuteshwar Mahadev and Shri Krishna Janmasthan Temple. Then they walk back to Vrindavan through the forests and grasslands where Lord Krishna used to graze cows in his childhood ages ago. The land is considered pious as it bears imprints of Lotus feet of Lord and his friends. By the time they reach back to Vrindavan from head to toe they are laden with pious Braj-raj. Though the ritual is tiring and highly demanding on physical strength of the devotee, it is seen that even seemingly fragile and weak devotees are also able to successfully undertake the parikrama. As we know this is the divine intervention in our lives in the form of enhanced energy and strength that is granted to us for fulfilling such pious ambitions.

On this occasion if you are not able to physically undertake the parikrama we advise you to undertake at least mansik parikrama of the holy land. You can meditate on the image of Brij mandal and mentally walk around Vrindavan and Mathura. Believe in the power of deep meditation and be assured that mansik parikrama will do you as good spiritually as the actual physical parikrama.

Festival Significance

Vrindavan Mathura Yugal Parikrama

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Kartik Shukla Navmi

Bhai Dooja

Yamuna, the presiding deity of the river of the same name, the beloved daughter of Sun, revered sister of Yamraj (Dharmraj; God of justice; God of death), is fourth among the eight principal queens of Lord Krishna. Krishna had special consideration for Yamuna right from his childhood. He purified Yamuna at Vrindavan by driving away the demon like Kaliya Nag who had poisoned the water so strongly that it killed not only a number of living beings but also the flora and fauna around it was destroyed. Krishna saved the river and saved the environment. The entire childhood leelas of Krishna at Vrindavan revolve around the Yamuna. The demons Keshi and Bakasur were killed on the banks of Yamuna. Cheerharan and later Maharaas were again performed on the banks of Yamuna.

While proceeding to Mathura with Akrurji, Krishna decided to give him a glimpse of his divinity. So, as Akrurji entered Yamuna water, he saw Krishna along with Balram inside the river. Worried, he came out and saw the brothers sitting happily in the Chariot. Satisfied that the brothers are safe, he again entered Yamuna only to see Krishna inside the water. He saw the lord in his full glory resting on Sheshnag accompanied by Devi Lakshmi. A number of Devs and Gandharvs in attendance, sages, saints and Vedas singing in praise of the Lord of all. He prostrated to the Supreme Lord, prayed for the grace. The Lord smiled and Brahm Vidya was granted to him inside the waters of Yamuna.

In the evening after killing Kans, his own maternal uncle who personified sin and cruelty and occupied the throne of Mathura forcibly dethroning his aged father, tired Krishna along with his brother Balram and cowherd boys of Vrindavan came for a bath in Yamuna. This place is known as Vishram Ghat (resting place), as Yamuna soothed the tired bodies of Krishna and Balram by its refreshing water massage. Its serene environs cooled down the tempers that ran so high in the day. Its invigorating air charged the bodies again to take up higher responsibility of managing kingdom the next day.

When Krishna fled Mathura, he lamented that he will be missing Yamuna and its environs in Dwarka. But Yamuna reached there to serve her beloved Lord as a dedicated wife, one of his principle queens. Such is the glory of Yamuna.

The festival of Bhaidooj, also known as Yam dwitiya, is celebrated at the banks of Yamuna. Main celebrations are held at Vishram Ghat in Mathura. It is believed that Yamuna, the sister of Yam, has the power to protect its devotees from the sorrows and harsh punishments inflicted on them by Yamraj for their misdeeds. This means Yamuna has the capability of lifting the souls above the karmic law! Please remember only the Supreme Lord enjoys such powers. So Yamuna is as much a part of Supreme as is Giriraj Goverdhan. Poetically it is described as:

Vrindavan dham ko vas bhalo, jahan pas bahe Yamuna patrani |
Jo jan nhae ke dhyan dharen, vaikunth mile tinh ko rajdhani ||
Charhu ved bakhan karen, aur sant muneen gunee man maanee |
Yamuna yam dootan tarat hein, bhav tarat hein shri Radhika rani ||


Yamuna saves the devotee from the torture inflicted by the messengers of the God of Death whereas the soul is liberated and achieve salvation by grace of Shri Radha Rani.

Traditionally on Bhaidooj, a brother should visit the sister at her place. So Yam comes to visit Yamuna at Mathura. Devotee from far and near make a beeline to Vishram Ghat to take a dip in Yamuna and pray on this day. Ladies accompany their brothers to the Ghat. Brother and sister take dip holding hand in hand, probably to strike that soft note in the heart of Yamuna, the sister as you are enjoying the company of your brother.

O kind hearted Goddess! Grant us the mercy to enjoy the company of our dear brothers! May they live long, happy and healthy lives!

A devotee can always pray: O Goddess Yamuna, grant me the mercy of enjoying the company of my brother forever! My brother who is none else than your beloved husband Lord Krishna! My brother Shri Banke Bihariji Maharaj!

Jai Shri Kunj Bihari | Jai Shri Swami Haridas ||

Festival Significance

Yam Dwitiya

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Kartik Shukla Dwitiya


The economy of brij, being agrarian in nature till today, largely depends on rainfall. Accordingly brijmandal had a tradition to worship Indra, the lord of rains to ensure adequate rainfall so that grain, grass and fodder are available aplenty. The innocent folk never knew it was the duty of Indra to ensure equitable distribution of rains to all and that he had no right to ask to be worshipped for that. Lord Krishna explained the primacy of karma to Nand Baba and other elders (Shri Madbhagvat Mahapuran, Dasham Skandh, 24th chapter, verse 13) as:

Karmana jayate jantuh karmanaiv vileeyate |
Sukham duhkham bhayam kshemam karmanaivabhipadyate ||

That is, all living beings are born according to their deeds and they die because of their deeds only. They experience happiness, sorrow, fear and blessings according to deeds only. Further (Shri Madbhagvat Mahapuran, Dasham Skandh, 24th chapter, verse 18):

Tasmat sampujayet karma svabhavasthah sva karmakrit |
Anjasa yen vartet tadevasya hi daivatam ||

Therefore it is desirable that men regard his duties as supreme in accordance to varna and ashram set by his earlier deeds. The deity to be worshipped by a man is the one through whom he is able to earn his livelihood comfortably.

By such explanations Krishna persuaded elders to worship the Goverdhan hillock in place of Indra, since it was because of Goverdhan that the ecology of brij is maintained. Nobody had seen Indra while Goverdhan was there for everybody to see. Anybody can verify the gifts of Goverdhan, in the form of fresh water from its fountains, vast grasslands in its vicinity, abundant fruits, grain and fodder grown in the orchards and fields around Goverdhan. Convinced by Krishna’s forceful arguments, elders agreed to worship Goverdhan and thus the tradition started.

Now see the Leela (Shri Madbhagvat Mahapuran, Dasham Skandh, 24th chapter, verse 35):

Krishnastvanyatamm roopm gopvishrambhanam gath |
Shailosmeetibruvan bhoori balimadvad brihadvapu ||

Then to develop confidence, that they were doing a right thing, Krishna appeared over the Goverdhan hill assuming a huge form. Declaring that he is Giriraj, the presiding deity of the hill, he accepted all the offerings, variety of food items in person! Goverdhan therefore is not different, Goverdhan Pooja is basically worship of lord Krishna himself.

Festival Significance

Govardhan Pooja

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Kartik Shukla Pratipada


Deepavali celebrations in the temple start with the onset of the month of Kartik. It is marked by Deepdan i.e. lighting up of small earthen lamps, diyas, filled with pure ghee or mustard oil, at and around the temple. The activity starts with lighting up of a small number of diyas on first day of Kartik and picks up continuously so as to reach on to its climax on Deepavali day. In addition to diyas, temple is decorated with electrical lights also. Strings of colourful electric lights and illuminated panels are put up on the exterior as well as in the courtyard of the temple. The main gate, other exits, arches, inside as well outside projections, higher floors up to the canopy and pinnacle, each nook and corner is lighted up in a tasteful and pleasant way. The lighting remains at its peak for the main five days of the festivity i.e. Dhanteras, Narak Chaturdashi, Deepavali, Annakoot-Goverdhan Pooja, and Bhai Dooj. After this the lighting is decreased gradually and comes to normalcy by the end of the month on Poornima day.

Inside the sanctum sanctorum, the throne is changed on the Deepavali day. During summer months (i.e. from Holi till Deepavali ) a simple and light weight throne having slim pillars and frame of silver is used. The cloth used for canopy, frills and hangings is also light. On Deepavali day it is replaced by a heavily built grand throne called Hutery. This Hutery has quite heavy rounded and intricately carved silver pillars which support an equally heavy and decorated silver frame for roof. In contrast to summer throne, this Hutery is lined with heavy velvet clothing. The rich fabric is further adorned with fine Zari work and laces. This Hutery remains in place throughout winter months till Holi. Winter schedule of Darshan timings becomes effective from Bhai Dooj day and continues up to Holi.

The Poshaks or dresses that are offered to Shri Bihariji are always chosen to be comfortable for the season. Accordingly with the onset of winter, the lord starts enjoying more fancy dresses made of heavy fabrics, mostly velvet. Pure woolens and wool mixed fabrics are also commonly used in this season. Especially on Deepavali and the other adjoining festival days, devotees bring in very exclusive type of Poshaks, tailored from a fine fabric, adorned with intricate zari work and studded with semi precious stones and pearls etc. New shining jewellery is also offered on this occasion. Some of the devotees make it a point to tailor the Poshak themselves, by their own hands; others to do the embroidery and zari work themselves.

The overall appearance of the temple, thus illuminated and decorated, is such that a visitor forgets of the actual purpose of his visit and is lost in the extraneous beauty of the temple. This is Maya or illusion that detracts a person from trading his righteous path. Thanks to the watchmen and other staff deployed to control the crowd that they will not let you stand outside for long and persuade to move forward, enter the temple and have Darshan, the primary purpose of your visit!

When you reach in front of Shri Bihariji Maharaj, you find the twinkle in his eyes as naughty as ever, his charming smile as enchanting as ever, his gesture as inviting as ever. He seems to be saying – do not get lost in these momentary lights; come to me to enjoy eternal illumination! Eternal bliss! Eternal peace!


Sat-that is true; chit-consciousness; anand-bliss, these are the attributes of God. A devotee must cross over the dark fields (tamas) of inaction and deprivation first, then the artificially illuminated areas (rajas) of motivated action and prosperity to reach the state of selfless action (sattva) and surrender to God to enable to transcend the network of Maya to reach the state of true eternal bliss. That is the message of Deepavali.

The lovely adornment of Lord is poetically described as under:
Jama banyo zari tari ko sunder, lal hai bandh or zard kinari |
Jhalardar banyo patuka ya mein, motin ki chhavi lagat nyari ||

That means the jama (the main dress worn from neck to ankle with a lot many frills below waist) of Lord has been beautified with zari work, it has a red belt at waist and golden borders. Patuka (long piece of cloth worn over neck and hangs over both shoulders to knee length) is made of pleats and frills in which the decoration of pearls is astonishing.

So on this Deepavali light up a small diya, dedicate it to Shri Bihariji Maharaj and pray to be taken over to illumination from darkness:

Tamaso ma jyotirgamay |
Jai Shri Kunj Bihari | Jai Shri Swami Haridas ||

Festival Significance

Deepmalika, Lakshmi Poojan

Festival Date (Hindu Calender)

Kartik Krishna Amavasya


1. Devshayani Ekadashi
2. Yogini Ekadashi
3. Nirjala Ekadashi
4. Achala Ekadashi
5. Mohini Ekadashi
6. Varuthini Ekadashi
7. Kamada Ekadashi
8. Papamochani Ekadashi
9. Mokshada Ekadashi
10.Utpanna Ekadashi

Major Festivals

The Lord is always in celebration mood. It is said that in Brij Mandal you have more festivals than the number of days in a year. However major festivals celebrated in the temple are as under:



Significance/Brief Description

Day of the year (Hindu calendar)

Day, Date, Month, Year(AD)



First day of new year, First Navratri

Chaitra Shukla Pratipada

Sat, 21 March 2015


Kamda Ekadashi

First day of Phool Bangla

Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi

Tue, 31 March 2015


Akshaya Tritiya

Charan Darshan (morning) and Sarvang Darshan (evening)

Vaishakh Shukla Tritiya

Tue, 21 April 2015


Guru Poornima

Phool Bangla for Swami Haridas in Nidhivan

Aasharh Shukla Poornima

Fri, 31 July 2015


Haryali Amavasya

Last day of Phool Bangla

Shravan Krishna Amavasya

Fri, 14 August 2015


Haryali Teej

Jhoola festival

Shravan Shukla Tritiya

Mon, 17 August 2015


Raksha Bandhan

Renew the bond of love

Shravan Shukla Poornima

Sat, 29 August 2015


Krishna Janmashtami

Birthday of Lord Krishna (only on this day Mangla Aarti is performed)

Bhadrapad Krishna Ashtami

Sun, 6 September 2015



Celebrating the birth of Lord

Bhadrapad Krishna Navmi

Mon, 7 September 2015


Radha Ashtami

Birthday of Swami Haridasji
Birthday of Radhaji

Bhadrapad Shukla Ashtami

Mon, 21 September 2015


Sharad Poornima

Day of Maha Raas

Ashwin Shukla Poornima

Mon, 26 October 2015


Roop Chaturdashi

Chhoti Deepavali

Kartik Krishna Chaturdashi

Tue, 10 November 2015



Deepmalika, Lakshmi Poojan

Kartik Krishna Amavasya

Wed, 11 November 2015



Govardhan Pooja

Kartik Shukla Pratipada

Thu, 12 November 2015


Bhai Dooja

Yam Dwitiya

Kartik Shukla Dwitiya

Fri, 13 November 2015


Akshay Navmi

Vrindavan Mathura Yugal Parikrama

Kartik Shukla Navmi

Fri, 20 November 2015


Bihar Panchami

Day of Appearance of Bihariji

Margshirsha Shukla Panchami

Wed, 16 December 2015


Aanola Ekadashi

Colourful Holi celebrations start

Phalgun Shukla Ekadashi

Sat, 19 March 2016


Holika Dahan

Colourful Holi celebrations end

Phalgun Shukla Poornima

Tue, 22 March 2016




Chaitra Krishna Pratipada

Wed, 23 March 2016

Rules and Rituals of the temples

The Lord Biharijis Sewa or the service is done in a unique way. It has and is been performed in three parts every day i.e. Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan. The shringar includes bath, dressing and adornment with jewellery like crown and necklaces of the lord and Rajbhog (feast) is nothing but the offered in the afternoon, and the last sewa the Shayan Sewa (shayan means sleep) is been offered in the evening. This temple does not have a tradition of Mangala which is the early morning sewa. As Swami Haridas did not favour Mangla Sewa as he wanted his child like Lord to have complete rest and did not want to disturb him out of deep slumber so early in the morning. The Temple today stands with its full glory, inside which the Lord himself resides. It is thronged by thousands of visitor's every day.

During Jhulan Yatra, the swing festival of Lord Krishna, there are a number of silver-plated and some solid silver ornamented swings, which are shown at this time. The main day of Jhulan Yatra is the third day of the waxing moon, at which time Shri Bankey Bihari is placed on a golden swing (hindola). The curtain before the Deities is not left open like at other temples. Every few minutes, the curtain is pulled shut and then opened again. It is said that the brilliant eyes of Shri Bankey Bihari will make one unconscious if seen for too long a stretch. It is the only temple where loud temple bells are not used to wake Krishna in the morning. It is believed improper to wake a child with a start. He is woken gently. There are thus no bells even for Aarti, as it might disturb Him.
The Deities do not get up until 9 am, because it is believed that Bankey Bihari ji has been up until late at night sporting. Mangala-arati is only one day a year in this temple, on Janmasthami. Only one day a year can the lotus feet of the Deity be seen, on Akshaya Tritiya (Chandan Darshan or Dolotsav), on the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaishaka (April–May). The autumn full moon day is the only day that the Deity holds a flute, and also on this day He wears a special mukut (crown). Shri Bankey Bihari comes off his altar and can be seen in full view on the last five days of the month of Phalguna, during the Holi festival. On Holi, Banke Bihari is supposed to play Holi and the whole town of Vrindavan gets submerged in colors. He can be seen with four gopis, who are seen just at this time.

The festival of ‘Janmashtami’ which is the Birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated here with full gusto and fervor.The whole temple is beautifully decorated with flowers and lights.For the day the 'darshan' of deity is not allowed as the Lord is said to be in the womb of her mother. The 'darshan' here is allowed only when the clock strikes 12 in the night. During months of Sawan and Phagun, the altar of the Lord is brought out of the main shrine, so that devotees can get the 'darshan' of Bihariji.

Temple Timings

Summer Timings(effective 2 days after holi)

  • Morning Opening - 07.45 AM
  • Shringar - 08.00 AM
  • Rajbhog - 11.00 AM to 11.30 AM
  • Rajbhog Aarti and closing - 12.00 PM
  • Evening Opening - 5.30 PM
  • Shayan Bhog - 08.30 PM to 09.00 PM
  • Shayan Aarti and closing - 09.30 PM

Winter Timings (effective 2 days after diwali)

  • Morning Opening - 08.45 AM
  • Shringar - 09.00 AM
  • Rajbhog - 12.00 PM to 12.30 PM
  • Rajbhog Aarti and closing - 01.00 PM
  • Evening Opening - 04.30 PM
  • Shayan Bhog - 07.30 PM to 08.00 PM
  • Shayan Aarti and closing - 08.30 PM

Prasad and Offerings

Devotees offers mala and flowers to Banke Bihari ji and special prasad of peda.

Facilities available

1. Food available for purchase
2. Bathroom facilities
3. Camera / Video allowed
4. Lockers / Storage

Best time to visit

Foreign tourists prefer to visit India from October to March, when the climate is pleasant. However ardent devotees visit the place all throughout the year. Various special occasions including ‘Krishnashtami’, which is Lord Krishna’s birthday, is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The festival of colors, ‘Holi’ is also celebrated with great fanfare at the temples in Vrindavan. People throng these places to be part of the festivities.

Length of visit

Less than 1 hour.

Rare Facts

Curtains as a security measure

Now the parda or curtain keeps the devotees from taking a long look at Him, and melting in devotion. Pujaris regulates the curtain on pretext that it is to ward off evil from the child-Krishna Shree Banke Bihariji.

No bells, please

It is the only temple where loud temple bells are not used to wake Krishna in the morning. The Brajwasis say that it is not proper to wake a child with a start. He is woken gently. There are no bells even for Aarti, as it might disturb Him.

Vraj lore

Vrindavan is full of tales of Shree Gopijan Vallabh.Brajwasis maintain that one can still hear the Lord's flute and hear Him whispering Radha Rani's name, and can also hear the sound of their anklets in Vrindavan.


When someone enters in the temple, he feels an eternal bliss and calm and forgets all misery. As soon as someone meets with Thakur ji, he becomes dedicating himself to Thakur ji. Kind hearted Thakur ji demolish his problem and bless him with His divine grace how far he is.

Do's and Don'ts

Pets are not allowed.

Near by Attractions

  • Rang Ji temple
  • Nidhi Van
  • Glass Temple
  • Iskcon Temple (also called as Angrez Mandir by locals)
  • Govind dev Ji Temple
  • Prem mandir
  • Maa Vesono Temple
  • Radha Damodar Temple
  • Kesi Ghat
  • Krishna Balaram Mandir



The nearest airport is Agra just 67 km away from Vrindavan. The nearest international airport is Delhi, which is connected to almost every important city in the world with major airlines. There are regular flights to other important tourist destinations of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai etc.


The major railway station nearby is Mathura on the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Mumbai main line. Several express and passenger trains connect Mathura from other major cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Calcutta, Gwalior, Dehradun, Indore, and Agra. Though Vrindavan itself is a railway station. A rail bus runs between Vrindavan and Mathura 5 round in a day.


Vrindavan is situated on Delhi-Agra NH-2. the various buses runs between the Agra and Delhi. temple is 7 km. away from National Highway. Getting to Temple is very easy as there are frequent tempos and rickshaw available throughout the day. Mathura is just 12 km away. Frequent buses, tempos and taxies runs between Mathura and Vrindavan.

Temple Address

Banke Bihari Temple,
Goda Vihar, Vrindavan,
Uttar Pradesh, Pin-281121.


Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-

  • For self-realization

Achutham Keyshavam Rama Narayanam Krishna Damodaram Vasudevam Harim Shridharam Madhavam Gopika Vallabham Janaki Nayakam Ramachandram Bhajey

Meaning -Oh Lord who cannot be perished, who also has names like Keshava, Rama, Damodara, Narayana, Sridhara, Madhava, Krishna, Ramachandra the beloved of Janaki, let me say your name regularly.

Vasudeva Sutham Devam Kamsa Chanoora Mardhanam Devaki Paramanandham Krishnam Vande Jagathgurum

Meaning -I bow to you O Krishna, the ultimate guru, Devaki and Vasudeva's son, and the destroyer of Kamsa and Chanur.

Adharam Madhuram Vadanam Madhuram Nayanam Madhuram Hasitam Madhuram Hridayam Madhuram Gamanam Madhuram Mathuraa Dhipate Rakhilam Madhuram

Meaning -Meaning - Sweet are Your lips, sweet is Your face, sweet are Your eyes, sweet is Your smile, sweet is Your heart, sweet is Your gait, O Lord of Mathura, everything about You is sweet.

Alokya Mathur Mukha Madarena Sthanyam Pibantham Saraseeruhaksham Sachinmayam Devam Anantha Roopam Balam Mukundam Manasa Smarami

Meaning -I think of this Balamukundan as the one who looks lovingly at his mother's face while taking milk from her, who has eyes similar to the red lotus, who is the embodiment of truth and intelligence and other forms.


07:45 am to 12:00 pm and 5:30 pm to 09:30 pm

Weather in Vrindavan
Scattered Clouds
13° 15°