Bhandirvan is celebrated amongst the 12 forests of Vraja as the one where Krishna used to enjoy the pastimes of taking lunch with His cowherd boyfriends. In this forest there are many pastime places to visit, such as Bhandirvata, Venu kupa, Vamshivata, the temple of Shridama etc. The demons Vatsasura and Pralambhasura were killed by Krsna Balaram in Bhandirvan.
One of the most prominent pastime places in Bhandirvan is the Bhandirvata Banyan tree. At the time of Krsna’s manifested Leela in Vrindavan, this tree was so big that it literally covered miles. It was rich and fully laiden with leaves and flowers, looking like a beautiful cloud. It is said that its branches would extend so far and wide that Krsna and the cowherd boys would cross the Yamuna walking on them.
It was mostly under the Bhandirvata tree that Krishna and all His Gopas would gather to enjoy their lunch. The cowherd boys would leave the cows to graze the lush green grasses of Bhandirvan while they would play games, wrestle and finally sit under the shade of the Bhandirvata tree to enjoy the various delectable preparations sent by their mothers. Krishna would sit in the middle while hundreds of circular rows of cowherd boys would be surrounding Him as they would be laughing, joking, eating and performing their joyful and festive picnics.
Radhanath Swami on one of his yatras to Bhandirvan narrated the most auspiscious and divine pastime of the marriage of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna, which happened under this Bhandirvata tree. The Gopis led by Lalita Sakhi made all the arrangements for this marriage while Brahmaji presided over as the head priest. There are beautiful deities of Shri Shri Radha Bhandirbihari at Bhandirvata. The specialty of these deities is that Krsna is putting Sindur (Vermilion powder) on the forehead of Shrimati Radharani indicating Their marriage.
There is a deep well called Venu Kupa near Bhandirvata. After Krishna killed the calf-demon, Vatsasura the Gopis in their transcendental humor accused Krishna of killing a calf and said that they won’t have anything to do with Krishna until He atones for this sin. So, Krishna created a well by pushing the tip of His flute into the earth here and invoked all the holy waters to enter that well. Only after taking His bath in that well was Krishna again accepted by the Gopis. This well known as Venu Kupa is still there near the Bhandirvata tree. By bathing in it, one obtains the same result as by taking bath at each and every sacred place. Radhanath Swami narrates that after killing Pralambhasura, Balaramji came to Venu Kupa to drink water and take rest. The imprint of Balaramji’s crown is still there at this place.
Close to Bhandirvata is another banyan tree, Vamshivata. Krishna would climb to the top of this tree and play sweet notes on His flute, Vamshi, to call all the cows. Beneath this Vamshivata is the temple of Shridama, Krishna’s intimate cowherd boyfriend. Seeing Krishna leaving for Mathura with Akrura, Shridama was heartbroken and told Krishna that he would sit here at Vamshivata and wait until Krishna returns. Absorbed in thoughts of sweet loving exchanges with Krishna, Shridama kept waiting on and on. When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Bhandirvan, He ran and embraced Shridama waiting here and reassured him that now He has finally come. Radhanath Swami speaking at Vamshivata shared that a practicing devotee should pray here for that type of faith and dedication that whether Krishna reveals Himself to me in this life or millions of lives it doesn’t matter. Shridama waited for Krishna for 4500 years. We should faithfully render unconditional devotional service for Krishna’s pleasure and rest Krishna will take care.
Prayer: Once while grazing, the calves wandered deep inside the Bhandirvan forest into a dangerous section called Munjatavi while the Gopas were playing various games. Later following the imprints of the hooves of the calves when they finally reached Munjatavi, a blazing forest fire suddenly broke out and they were entrapped in it. The Gopas and the calves then helplessly cried out for Krishna’s help and Bhakta Vatsal Krishna immediately swallowed the fire into his mouth and relieved His friends from the distress. Radhanath Swami compared the material existence, consisting of birth, death, old age and disease, to this forest fire where the fire of the anarthas of lust, anger, envy, greed, pride and illusion is raging inside our hearts. He added that at this most holy forest of Bhandirvan, we should cry out to Krishna to deliver us from the forest fire of material existence and from the fire of anarthas raging within our hearts.
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