How did Svayam-Bhagavān Keśava-deva manifest in Vraja?
Kṛṣṇa’s great grandson, Vajranābha, saw that no one in Dvārakā wants to listen to the Vrajavāsīs’ names chanted. If anyone from Dvārakā listens to the pastimes of Vraja, they become jealous and competitive.
Feeling greatly disappointed and dejected, Kṛṣṇa’s principle queens, Rukmiṇī and Satyabhāmā, confided in Mother Devakī, “Kṛṣṇa doesn’t sleep the whole night. Throughout the entire day and night he only cries, ‘Rādhe! Lalite! Viśākhe!’ What strength do these cowherd girls have that they are able to control Kṛṣṇa? Kṛṣṇa does not eat or sleep. He’s only crying and crying. He doesn’t even look at us. Not even once does He say, ‘O Rukmiṇī, O Satyabhāmā, how are you?’ He does not even ask about us. He only remembers the Vraja-devīs.”
The core of Kṛṣṇa’s heart was aching in extreme torment of separation from his dear-most beloveds and companions of Vraja. In Dvārakā, Kṛṣṇa suffered in this separation for over 100 years. Morose, He thought, “I cannot change the heart of even one person here. Baladeva Prabhu embodies all guru-tattva; He is sandhini-śakti, and non-different from My very self. Yet I see that no one here even prays to Baladeva Prabhu to understand this vraja-rasa, or to receive it in their hearts. Alas! No one here has any desire to deeply know why I am always remembering Vraja. No one even asked Baladeva Prabhu this question, and He was constantly with me there in Vraja. They don’t want to know the glories of Vraja. One day, I saw that out of great difficulty the queens asked Rohiṇī Mātā, ‘Why is Kṛṣṇa always suffering in separation from the Vrajavāsīs?’ But they did not inquire from Guru, from Baladeva Prabhu. They do not have faith in Vrajavāsīs, in Vraja. They don’t want to listen. So how can they become dear to Me?” Kṛṣṇa thought.
Kṛṣṇa named his great grandson Vajranābha, a variation on the word Vraja, as a token of His constant remembrance of Vraja and as a special blessing upon that grandson.
When the Yadu-vamsis of Dvārakā came to Prabhāsa, they all killed each other. Their entire dynasty was completely destroyed; no one remained. By Kṛṣṇa’s will, only Vajranābha and Uddhava were left alive after the battle. Kṛṣṇa instructed Uddhava and Vajranābha was also listening to Kṛṣṇa’s advice. Kṛṣṇa told Uddhava, “Uddhava, if you want to attain Me, then you should know that I am always with the sādhus. I always reside in Vraja. If anyone worships My Deity with love, and if he becomes a follower of the Vrajavāsīs, then I will always stay with that person.” Therefore Śrīman Caitanya Mahāprabhu said, “ramya kācid upāsanā vraja-vadhū-vargeṇā yā kalpitā…” The gopīs worship is topmost.
Vajranābha heard Kṛṣṇa speaking to Uddhava that He wanted worship in the line of the vraja-gopīs to be established. Vajranābha heard all tattva-siddhānta that Kṛṣṇa spoke to Uddhava. Kṛṣṇa Himself has spoken the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to Uddhava, and it is thus called Uddhava-gīta, Uddhava-sandeśa, or Uddhava-samvād. After everyone in Dvārakā disappeared, Vajranābha then met many sādhus as he traveled to Hastināpura, and again more sādhus as he traveled to Badrikāśrama and later to Vraja. Eventually both Vajranābha and Uddhava came to Vraja where they met with all the Vrajavāsīs. Vajranābha kept this knowledge from Uddhava-samvād stored in his heart.
Where is the heart of the Vrajavāsīs? They are always near Śrī Girirāja Govardhana. Kṛṣṇa taught them that Girirāja Govardhana is the tilaka of Vraja, “Vraja-nava-tilkatve klṛpta! vedaiḥ sphuṭaṁ me,” as we sing in Śrī Govardhana-vāsa-prārthanā-daśakam. He is the tilaka of Vraja and the heart of all the Vrajavāsīs. He fulfills all the desires of the Vrajavāsīs. The Vrajavāsīs do parikrama and offer bhoga to Girirāja; they ask him so many things and he fulfills all their desires. Kṛṣṇa Himself taught them all how to worship Girirāja during the Annakūta Mahotsava Govardhana Pūjā. Mānasī-Gaṅgā is near Girirāja, as is Kusoma-sarovara, Govinda-kuṇḍa, Apsarā-kuṇḍa, Navala-kuṇḍa, Surabhi-kuṇḍa, Gulāla-kuṇḍa, Airāvat-kuṇḍa, Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Śyāma-kuṇḍa, and the kuṇḍas of the aṣṭa-sakhīs, like Lalitā-kuṇḍa and Viśākhā-kuṇḍa. Everything is present near Girirāja Govardhana.
When Vajranābha and Uddhava came to Vraja, they traveled extensively throughout Vraja-maṇḍala. At that time they took shelter of Śrī Girirāja Govardhana. They prayed, “O Girirāja, Śrī Kṛṣṇa is in your heart. You are not separate from Him, and Kṛṣṇa is not separate from you.”
The sādhus are in the heart of Govinda and Govinda is in the heart of the sādhus. Govinda Himself said, “The sādhus are my heart. I am always with them. The sādhus don’t know anyone except Me. I therefore make this promise that I am always in the heart of the sādhus; they are always tasting this nāma-rasa. The sādhus always remember Me, absorbed in My seva. They are not separated from Me for even one moment. I am their beloved and they are my beloved.” So Vajranābha and Uddhava prayed to Girirāja. They did Govardhana parikrama and surrendered to Girirāja.
Seeing their sincere surrender, Girirāja first manifested for Vajranābha the Deity of Śrī Dāujī, or Śrī Baladeva Prabhu. Why? Without Guru you cannot do anything. Without Guru you cannot be enlightened. Without Guru you cannot enter onto the pure path, sat-mārga. Without Guru, who will teach you and give you Kṛṣṇa’s darśana and seva? Baladeva Prabhu was also with Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā but who understood His tattva or would follow Baladeva Prabhu’s desires? Who there would listen to what He said? None knew of His glorious position. Thus Girirāja-jī first gave Baladeva Prabhu from his heart to Vajranābha so that he could begin his stay in Vraja by taking shelter and serving Śrī Guru. Receiving Baladeva Prabhu’s grace, Vajranābha and Uddhava were so happy – they started serving Śrī Girirāja and Śrī Dau-ji with great love.
After some time, Girirāja also manifested the Deity of Harideva. Gaṅgā comes from the lotus feet of Harideva. In Vraja she is present as Mānasī-Gaṅgā, serving all the Vrajavāsīs and giving everyone the strength to obtain vraja-bhakti and vraja-rasa. If you want to become a follower of Vraja, then you should bathe in Mānasī-Gaṅgā. By faithfully bathing, drinking, remembering, praying, worshipping, and respecting Śrī Mānasī-Gaṅgā in Vraja, then one’s mind and heart will be cleansed, ceto-darpaṇa-mārjanaṁ. Then it will become possible to enter into mānasī-seva of Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa and Their eternal associates. Without bathing in Mānasī-Gaṅgā, how will you become qualified to perform mānasī-seva?
Śrīla Gurudeva would take us to Mānasī-Gaṅgā and offer ghee lamps and puja to her. We would bathe in her waters and then perform parikrama of Mānasī-Gaṅgā. Sanātana Gosvāmī is also present at Mānasī-Gaṅgā in his bhajana-sthalī near Cakleśvara Mahādeva. Gaṅgā-devī will wash your mind and heart. She will make all unwanted obstacles dissolve, and life after life she will give you adhikāra to engage in vraja-seva. Therefore, Kṛṣṇa manifested this Mānasī-Gaṅgā. Mahārāja Bhagīratha called Gaṅgā to purify and liberate his ancestors. With her appearance on Pṛthivi-loka, any jīva can take the opportunity to immerse their body in her kind waters. But can your impurities go away just by bathing your body? How will the mind become clean? Now each person’s mind has so many impurities. Who will wash the mind of everyone? Who will bestow this faith in vraja-rasa? Sakṣat Bhagavān Himself manifested Mānasī-Gaṅgā from His own mind and made everyone’s hearts full of vraja-rasa. He made all who touch her waters become eager to attain vraja-bhakti, vraja-vāsa, vraja-seva. By calling Mānasī-Gaṅgā, Kṛṣṇa made arrangements for how to bestow this kind of qualification upon the fallen jīvas.
Upon receiving darśana of the Deity of Harideva, Vajranābha and Uddhava began serving Harideva and slowly their sambandha with Him awakened. They realized what is Vraja, who are the Vrajavāsīs, what is the dust of Vraja. By the influence of Gaṅgā-devī and Harideva, Vajranābha overflowed with happiness and he started glorifying all the Vrajavāsīs. He prayed to serve them. “How can I serve the Vrajavāsīs? How can I become one of them?” He thought? As long as this seva-vṛtti is not present, this tendency to serve, then one’s sambandha will not become fixed. Naturally, we will serve those whom we love, in whom we have faith. We will worship them and strive to make them happy. The Vrajavāsīs continuously arrange to make Kṛṣṇa happy, and in order to make the Vrajavāsīs happy we ourselves need to serve.
As this realization awakened in Vajranābha’s heart, then Girirāja-ji manifested the Deity of Govinda-deva for him, because Govinda is the predominating Deity of abhideya, the process of serving with bhakti. Gopa, gopī, Gopāla, go, Gokula – Govinda-deva increases all their happiness, ānanda-vardhana. Vajranābha was astounded to see the attractive form of Govinda-deva. “Really, You are so beautiful!” Vajranābha told Govinda. “I’m captured by this tri-bhaṅga śyāma-rūpa, three-fold bending form of Yours, vaṁśī-dhārī, holding this flute! You are so charming!” He exclaimed in bliss. Vajranābha served Govinda affectionately, and gradually when his relationship with the Vrajavāsīs was fixed and all types of service tendencies came in his heart, then Girirāja manifested for him the Deity of Śrī Keśava-deva.
[CC by NDNC Bhaktabandhav]