Yamuna, also known as Kalindi, alongwith the Ganges is the most holy and famous river of India. She begins her course high up in the Himalayas at Yamunotri and flows down the plains, specifically, to come to Vrindavan. It is often said that rivers are the lifelines of any civilization. This situation is a perverted reflection arising from Yamuna being the lifeline of Lord Shri Krishna’s pastimes in the land of Vraja. We see that in all the pastimes of Lord Krishna, Yamuna Devi is always there enhancing the mood and sweetness of the pastime. Krishna would take His cows for grazing the sweet juicy grasses that grew along the banks of the Yamuna. Yamuna would supply water to Krishna’s calves and cows. Yamuna’s water was sweeter than the sweetest of all nectar, always at perfect temperature.Within these waters of Yamuna, He would have swimming and splashing and all different kinds of sportive games with the Gopas in Sakhya Rasa (mellow of friendly relationships). Shri Yamuna Devi also served as the playground for Nauka Vihar (playful boating pastimes of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna) and many other Madhurya Rasa (mellow of conjugal love) pastimes for Krishna and the Gopis in the enchanting moonlit nights of Vrindavan.
Radhanath Swami glorifying Yamuna Devi in his Vrindavan yatra in 2004 said that when Krishna requested Shrimati Radharani to descend with Him to Earth, She replied, “I do not feel happiness anywhere where river Yamuna, the forests of Vrindavana and Gokul dham are not there. So, I won’t come down there without them.” So Yamuna is descending from the spiritual world, Krsnaloka and she is coming to this world through Yamunotri and flowing to meet mother Ganga at Prayag. Yamuna Mayi is actually an expansion of Vishakha, one of the two most confidential maid-servants of Shrimati Radharani. In fact, Vishaka Devi is an expansion of Radharani Herself. To enhance the pleasure of Krsna’s pastimes, Radharani thus expands Herself as river Yamuna. Yamunaji appeared in this world as the daughter of Surya, and the sister of Yamaraja. And Yamaraja being very affectionate to his sister does not disturb any person who is blessed by Yamuna Devi as stated by Rupa Goswami in Yamunashtakam.
Jiva Goswami quotes from the Shastras that how Ganges is the caranamrita of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But if we multiply the power of purification of bathing in the Ganges by hundred times, that is the effect of bathing in Yamuna. The Yamuna is eternally participating in the Lord’s lila. The Yamuna is the eternal caranamrita of Shri Shri Radha Krishna, the Gopas and the Gopis. And when we bathe in Yamuna, we are bathing in that nectar. And most of all it is Yamuna mayi’s love in the form of that water. Therefore, bathing in Yamuna is one of the most important aspects of worshipping the holy land of Vrindavan.
Radhanath Swami emphasized that Yamuna is always pure – whatever anyone puts in it – no one can contaminate Yamuna. What’s not Yamuna may be contaminated. But what’s Yamuna cannot be contaminated. So when we bathe in Yamuna, we are actually bathing in that essence, not in some sewage polluted river, but in the Yamuna which is the sweet, nectarine caranamrita of Radha and Krishna and the Vrajavasis. And the caranamrita of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and the six Goswamis and all the acharyas. It’s all there. It’s not that it flows down the stream and goes into the ocean. It is eternally present in the form of caranamrita of all these great souls. There are many ghats (series of steps leading down to a water body) along the banks of Yamuna where Krishna-Balaram have performed several pastimes such as Chir Ghat, Kaliya Ghat, Keshi Ghat, Rama Ghat etc.