Sublime pastimes of the Supreme
Krishna, the very famous hero of Mahabharat, is not just a historical personality but the very essence of all existence. Verily He is the absolute reality celebrated as God – most wonderful, most attractive, most blissful and most loving. He is most charming and the source of all that is charming. He Himself declares in Bhagavad-Gita: ‘Wherever you find extraordinary beauty, know that to be just a spark of My splendor.’
Krishna’s personality, His name, His form, His qualities and His activities are identical with Himself sharing the same spiritual potency. Krishna, being unlimited, has unlimited names based on His unlimited qualities and activities. Krishna performs activities (known as lila or pastimes) as a manifestation of His own sweet nature. Simply by hearing and remembering these sublime activities of Krishna completely inundates our otherwise hankering minds with unlimited sweetness.
Lord Shiva testifies: May Lord Krishna’s pastimes, which bring a sense-pleasure stronger than that experienced by the hedonists, a liberation more real than that felt by the yogis in their hearts, and a bliss more intense than that tasted by the most expert drinkers of nectar, protect you.
Great spiritualists like Lord Shiva thus describe Krishna’s pastimes as the finest objects of one’s meditation. To stimulate one’s meditation on Krishna, we need scriptures that are ornamented with full descriptions of Krishna’s pastimes, we need lovers of Krishna (known as devotees) who take great pleasure in discussing Krishna’s pastimes and we need temples and architecture that broadcast glories of Krishna by picturesque and sculpturesque depiction of His pastimes.
Eternal Pastimes Etched in Stone
With this need in mind, GEV has initiated the Vedic Cultural and Educational Center (VCEC) Project – which includes a traditional home of stone architecture for Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Behari and a community of devotees living by and distributing the scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam.
Vrindaban Behari is a name of Krishna denoting Krishna’s playful wandering in Vrindavan forest along with His intimate friends, especially Sri Radha, the personification of devotion. The Vrindaban Behari temple is constructed with fine Rajasthani style architecture using red stones. It has a traditional central altar as a place of worship while the outside walls, technically called as Mandovar, have stone carvings depicting Krishna’s pastimes as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, the masterpiece compiled by Sri Vyasa.
The stone carvings of the pastimes are arranged in 2 layers – the upper layer depicting wonderful activities of Krishna’s various incarnations and Their devotees while the lower layer depicting Krishna’s celebrated Vrindavan pastimes with the Vrajavasis.
The founder-acarya of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada took the gigantic task of distributing Krishna all over the world on his shoulders. Through his prolific writings, temples and farm projects all over the world, he established communities dedicated for Krishna’s service. Following the instruction of his guru, he presented Krishna-lila in the English language, which was later translated in more than 50 prominent languages for the benefit of whole world. To honor his painstaking efforts dedicated to the service of distributing Krishna-lila, the front carvings show Srila Prabhupad dictating Srimad Bhagavatam purports on dicta-phone even when he was on his deathbed.
Janghi Layer – Srimad Bhagavatam Carvings
The upper layer of the pastime carvings, technically called “Janghi,” presents various incidents of Bhagavatam in the same order as they appear in Bhagavatam, beginning from Narada’s instruction to Vyasa regarding compilation of Bhagavatam appearing in 1st Canto till the glorious departure of King Parikshit appearing in the last (12th) Canto.
This layer includes wonderful pastimes, the righteous ruling and unfortunate upheaval in the life of king Parikshit, the auspicious appearance of Sukadeva, the stunning universal form, the subordinate creation by Lord Brahma, the victory of Lord Varahadeva over the demon Hiranyaksha, the teachings of Lord Kapila to His mother, audacity of Daksha and equanimity of Shiva, austerities of Dhruva, devotion of Prithu, teachings of Rishabhdev to His sons, the universal dissolution by Lord Siva, glory of Holy names through Ajamila incident, the glorious devotion of the demon Vritrasura, the child prodigy Prahlada, the wondrous form of Narasimha appearing to kill Hiranyakasipu to protect Prahlada, liberation of Gajendra, the churning of ocean and consequent incarnations like Kurma avatar and Mohini Murti, Laudable activities of Lord Rama, the protection of Vedas by Fish incarnation, Forgiveness of Ambarisha, Krishna’s birth, Krishna’s final instructions to Uddhava and the exemplary departure of king Parikshit and many more.
Janghi patta layer – Lord Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan
The lower layer of carvings called janghi patta is specially dedicated to Krishna’s Vrindavan pastimes described in tenth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam. This includes the astonishing birth of Krishna, His father taking Him to Vraja in dark stormy night, killing and salvation of Putana, Sakatasur, Trinavarta and many other demons in His infancy, Krishna’s Damodar lila depicting His controllability by His loving devotees, Subduing of snake Kaliya, Lifting of Govardhan hill to protect and charm His beloveds, His sublime pleasure pastimes with His consorts known as transcendental Rasa-lila, His departing from Vrindavan on the plea of killing Kamsa submerging the Vrajavasis in the ocean of separation and thus revealing their exalted devotion, and many others.
As they say that a picture is worth a thousand words and a sculpture is worth a thousand pictures, these carvings will transfer the observers in the atmosphere and the mood of Krishna’s pastimes and absorb their minds in the same.
And this architecture is going to stay there for hundreds of years broadcasting the glories of Krishna transforming and inspiring the hearts of millions.