Vrindavan, 2019-12-01 (VT): Bihar Panchami, the appearance day of Shri Banke Bihari was celebrated in Vrindavan today. It was on this day, the ‘panchami tithi of Margashirsha Maas’ in (VS) 1563 that the incarnation of Lalita Sakhi, Swami Haridas, made the divine couple to manifest in Nidhivan as a result of his intense devotion.
Swami Haridas, often known as ‘Sangeet Samrat’, was the guru of the famous court poet Tansen. He is credited with a large body of devotional compositions, especially in the Dhrupad style.
It is said that whenever he began his ‘raag seva’ on the ‘Tanpura’, his closest disciple Vitthalvipul would hear the jingling of anklets in the groves. Puzzled by the strange sound, he asked Swamiji about its origins. The sweet incarnation of Lalita Sakhi told him to wait for the auspicious time when the secret will be revealed.
Back home, Vitthalvipul’s father, Govind was growing anxious about his son’s whereabouts. Just as he made up his mind to go in search of him, he was stopped by his father Ashudheer who sent Govind’s brother Jagannath to Vrindavan instead.
On reaching Vrindavan, Jagannath saw Swami Haridas and Vitthalvipul lost in trance while remembering the sweet Lord. As soon as Swamiji came back to the material realm, he questioned him, “when are you coming to reside permanently in Vrindavan”. Jagannath fell at the guru’s feet and pleaded, “please do not ask me to go back.” Swamiji smiled and said that he wanted eternal ‘Vrindavan Vaas’ for everyone so that they be freed from the cycle of birth and death.
Meanwhile Vitthalvipul was becoming more and more curious to know the source of the mysterious anklet sounds. Sometimes he would peep inside the ‘nikunj’ sitting at the entrance to which Swamiji used to sing for Shyama-Shyam. On one occasion he ventured inside the grove, only to be dejected by the darkness he encountered there. He would often ask his uncle about the mystery. Jagannath instructed him to wait patiently for Swamiji to reveal his lila.
Then one day Swami Haridas called Vitthalvipul and asked him, “do you know whose birthday is it today?” Seeing him confused he added, “it’s good to not know. It is your birthday, and I want to gift you something today.” Vitthalvipul humbly replied that his only wish was to know the secret of Swamiji’s nikunj lila and have a glimpse of his beloved Shyama Kunjbihariji. Haridasji smiled and said, “This is exactly what I want to give you.” Vitthalvipul became ecstatic listening to his guru’s sweet words.
Lifting the ‘Taanpura’, Swamiji closed his eyes. As soon as he started singing, the grove filled with mystical blue-golden light in which appeared the smiling divine couple of Shyama Kunjbihari. Startled, Swamiji halted his singing. When Shyamaji exclaimed “Lalite”, he replied, “Forgive me Kishori ji, I was enraptured by your brilliance.” Bihari ji chimed in, “Now we will stay here in this form.”
Overwhelmed with emotions, Swamiji asked him in a choked voice, “…but how will you be worshipped outside the grove.” “You just have to worship me with love,” replied Shri Nikunjbihari.
Understanding his will, Swamiji requested him thus, “Oh Lord, the radiance of this form of yours is too intense and wondrous for our eyes that are conditioned by material existence to bear. Please have mercy on us and merge into each other like the raincloud and lightning are one.” Granting his wish, the divine forms united, appearing as Shri Banke Bihari, and entire Nidhivan began resounding with chants of ‘Banke Bihari lal ki Jai’.
Swami Haridas continued his seva for the ‘unmanifest’ forms of Shyama-Shyam in the ‘nikunj’ and also that of the manifested deity of Shri Banke Bihari. Whatever seva he offered for one, was simultaneously realised for the other as well. After sometime Swamiji entrusted the seva of Shri Banke Bihari Lal to Jagannath and his sons. He laid down the rules which included three ‘Aartis’. Sitting besides the deity’s seat (Gaddi), he would sing the ragas during the seva.
According to the order of service decided by Swami Haridas, ‘Shrigaar’ for Shyamaji’s Gaddi was done before that of Bihariji. One day when Jagannath was fully engrossed in the seva, She appeared and draped Her ‘chunri’ (stole) on his head. Jagannath became anxious and thought, “Oh what an offence I have committed”, but the golden goddess told him to stay like that. Jagnnath never took the ‘chunri’ off his head after being graced by Shri Radha thus.
Of Jagannath’s three sons, Gopinath was in charge of Shrigaar Seva, Meghshyam of Rajbhog Seva and Muraridas of Shayan Bhog Seva. Megshyam’s second son (out of four) Biharidas was fortunate to be graced with the close association of Swami Haridas. Towards the end of his mortal play, Swamiji shared many secrets related to the lilas of ‘Priyalal’ with him. Entrusting the seva of his ‘unmanifest’ nikunj Shyama-Shyam to Biharidas, He finally entered ‘nitya lila’.