Gokul in Braj, Photo journal
There are no crowded roads in Gokul, hardly any traffic, and practically no microphones, unlike Vrindavan.
We were on a trip to Mathura, and had the morning of Bakarid to ourselves as the road to Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple complex which is adjacent to Shahi Idgah mosque complex had traffic restrictions in view of the rush for morning prayers at the mosque. It was just a few hours but we decided to explore Gokul instead…
Gokul is a village close to the city of Mathura. Krishna spent his baby days in the village of Gokul, before his family shifted to Vrindavan.
Morning in Mathura
Our stay at the Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi guest house was a comfortable one, but we rolled out of bed while it was still all dark outside. By 5.00 am. we found at auto, who agreed to take us for Rs. 150 to Gokul and back.
Thakurani ghat, Gokul
We reached Gokul in what seemed like ages in the dark pre-dawn winter morning, but it actually took less than an hour. As our auto got close to the temple complex in the village, I heard a high-pitched call of 'Gopal'.
Gopal, is a name of Krishna, and turned out to be a greeting in Gokul, as Radhe Radhe is a greeting in Vrindavan. This was the first time I heard this greeting, so was clueless about it.
The morning was cold and dark but quiet and serene. The sound of our auto disturbed the morning in Gokul, but also brought a panda or a local guide to us. The joyous old man in a dhoti asked if we would like some tea and proceeded to make it. This tea remains the best of all that I have tasted. It was brewed in milk and had a dash of fresh ginger. It was served in a mud-glass, a kulhar.
Pushtimarg baithak, Gokul
Pushtimarg was born here with the first initiation given to Sri Damodar Das Harsaani.
With daylight, we proceeded to the banks of river Yamuna. We were at the historic Thakurani ghat, where the 17th century, saint Mahaprabhu Vallabhacharya was asked by Lord Krishna to give people the message of love and surrender. And Pushtimarg was born here with the first initiation given to Sri Damodar Das Harsaani.
Gokul remains a village with mud huts and temples, and loads of legends that palpitate the atmosphere. Nandalaya temple has Krishna's family on the altar. And a silver swing with Bal-Gopal right in front. We got prasad of butter and candied sugar misri. The message we received at this and every temple at Gokul was to celebrate and find joy in everyday life.
Krishna as a child on a silver swing
Raman Reti, Gokul
The auto-driver took us to Raman Reti where we found a most well-kept Gaushala, and got steel tumblers full of buttermilk. Deer, peacocks, pigeons and ducks were also living here… There are no crowded roads in Gokul, hardly any traffic, and practically no microphones, unlike Vrindavan.
Raman Reti Ashram, Gokul
Why is the dust of Gokul-Vrindavan considered sacred?
In a sandy part of the ashram at Raman Reti we were led to make our fistprints in the sand and crown them with five fingerprints. This is how Krishna's footprints look like, a resident at the ashram told us, and shared the reason why the dust of Braj is considered sacred. God came to Braj to love and be loved as Krishna. He lived with the ordinary people, just like them, and walked barefoot here as a cowherd like other Brajwasis.
More: Glimpses of Vrindavan and Bhajans from Vrindavan (Braj sahitya)
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