“There are over 6500 temples in Vrindavan. How many can you see in a day, Bhagat?“, said our guide to my father. This came as a response to my father’s naive question, “How many temples are there in Vrindavan? How long will it take to see them all ?”
To ensure that we cover the maximum temple attractions in a day, we hurried our way from Radha Damodar temple, to Nidhi Van – the place where the Gods dance to the tunes of love and passion every night. On our way to Nidhi Van, we bought some grams to feed the monkeys & bananas to feed the sacred, holy cows. We barely covered 100 ms. when a group of women, their foreheads smeared with turmeric & bodies clad in white, with slouched postures & expressionless faces, walked up to us, chanting “Radhe, Radhe”. They didn’t ask us for money or food, but brought their open hands in front of us & continued to chant “Radhe, Radhe” with their eyes half open.
These women – they were not beggars. They were a group of destitute females who have been deserted by family, husbands or destiny. They have nothing to do, no place to go. So, they have devoted their lives to the seva of Kanha (service to Lord Krishna) & sustain on the alms given by the well-to-do devotees of Kanhaiya (Lord Krishna).
Vrindavan is a town of monumental religious significance, situated in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Vrindavan is sacred to the devotees of Lord Krishna specially because kanhaiya (Lord Krishna) performed many miracles, as a child, here. The place houses stories at every nook and corner – be it the trampling of the Sheshnaag or the act of playing & dancing with the gopis.
6500 Krishna temples & thousands of Krishna devotees fill the roads of Vrindavan every day. Some come from nearby & some travel from far flung places.The place beams with temples, is home to many learned men & priests, replete with mischievous monkeys & holy cows & full of people dressed in saffron & white, asking for alms, singing the praises of the god.
Vrindavan, where the Gods don shimmering, silk clothes but widows are barely clad in cotton sarees. The place where kgs. of sweets, butter, ghee & sugar is offered to the Gods, but widows have to stand & sit in queues for hours to get one meal of the day. The place where the rich come to beg from the gods & the poor come to beg from the rich.
We spent half a day in Vrindavan & covered all major temples of the place. I was busy searching the next stop on Google maps while my mother stuffed the sweets, pedas, souvenirs to the back of the car. We were now headed to the Krishna Janambhoomi, Mathura. Father played the CD of Krishna songs that he just purchased from one of the shops while the driver moved the car to the left. To the right of the parking area, sat a group of lean, old people, dressed in saffron & white, chanting “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”.
P.S. – I don’t intend to hurt anybody’s emotions or religious sentiments via this post; only wanted to point out the irony.