Every month, ‘Vrindavan Today’ holds a conclave on a different issue, inviting interested members of the community to give their suggestions about various issues. We are committed to providing a voice to those who seek to activate positive changes in Shri Dham. A detailed article regarding the issues discussed and the views of prominent members of the community appears in our monthly printed magazine.
The April ‘Vrindavan Today’ conclave on ‘Expectations from the new Member of Parliament’ was held at Shri Gopinath Mandir. The result of the conclave was a list of eight priorities for development work. The points relate to measures that need to undertaken in order to ensure the integrity of the natural environment; cleanliness of the town and the overall sanctity of Braj.
Priorities for Development work
- The new MP must ensure that the Yamuna flows unpolluted and uninterrupted in Braj, carrying sufficient water. Yamuna is the lifeline of Mathura District. Yamuna’s divinity increases upon entering Braj and Yamuna worship is integral to local religious practices. Our MP must raise a voice in parliament and demand that the Yamuna’s water reaches Shri Dham. The Yamuna is captivated in Hathini Kund Dam in Haryana. She must be released so that some of the pure Yamuna water from the Yamunotri glacier reaches Braj.
- Protect Vrindavan’s independent identity by restoring our civic body. It is not proper for Vrindavan to be merged with Mathura Municipality. Vrindavan is traditionally considered to be the center of Braj. A separate civic body is needed. The civic body of Vrindavan should be dedicated to fulfilling the specialized needs of this pilgrimage town. A special status must be awarded to Vrindavan by setting guidelines for the civic body. Giving ‘Tirtha sthal’ status to Vrindavan is not sufficient unless the town’s heritage is protected. So Vrindavan has to be declared to be a Heritage Town. This will give protection to the heritage buildings, the sacred groves, the ghats, traditions and culture.
- Regenerate and preserve the forests of Braj. Vrindavan used to have many bagichi (gardens) but most of them have been destroyed and new residential blocks have been built in their place. Remaining forest land needs to be protected and regenerated by planting fruit trees and native Braj trees.
- The hills and mounds of Braj must be listed and protected by the government. There used to be many hills and mounds in Braj. Gradually much of the natural heritage of hills and mounds disappeared due to sand mining. Now only a few mounds and hills are left in Braj. These must be listed and protected.
- Ensure no cow dies of hunger in Braj. The entire Mathura district should be known for having a high standard of cow protection. The area should become a model of the traditional ‘cow-based economy’. These days, cows and bulls are found hungry and starving in the streets. The government must ensure that no cow/bull remains hungry. Street cows and bulls must be taken to shelters where they can get enough food. The gochar bhumi (pasture lands) must be identified, where street cows can be sent for grazing. Braj should be made the hub of eco-friendly cow-products by promoting cow-based farming, medicines, etc.
- Make Vrindavan Road station a fully-fledged railway station. The Vrindavan railway station has not been of much use for locals or pilgrims. With the city of Vrindavan expanded up to Chhatikara, it is pertinent that the ‘Vrindavan Road’ railway station be developed as a major railway station, with both local and express trains regularly making stops. A railbus is needed to connect with each train, especially in mornings and evenings. An efficient transport system would facilitate commuters and visitors. A fully functional Vrindavan Road station will effectively facilitate pilgrims in reaching Vrindavan, Radhakund, Govardhan, Barsana, Nandgaon etc. In addition to providing a much-needed alternative to busses for travel to Delhi and Agra, expanding Vrindavan Road station will ease the traffic pressure on Mathura Junction railway station.
- Heritage bylaws concerning the monuments in Braj should be made and implemented. This will not only protect the monuments but will nurture the ambience of the pilgrimage towns.
- Enlist the ancient ghats of Vrindavan. The State Archaeology Department has become the mute spectator of the destruction of the heritage ghats and buildings in Vrindavan and the other pilgrimage places of Braj. The State Archaeological Department must enlist each of the Yamuna ghats in Vrindavan, so that no one can destroy them or change their original character.
The participants at the meeting were all in agreement that not enough is being done to develop Vrindavan according to the needs of residents and visitors. Shri Gopinath Lal Dev Goswami (Raja), the sevait of Thakur Shri Gopinath ji Maharaj said, “A grave injustice is being done towards Vrindavan. Tourism is being promoted, but, at the same time, the iconic monuments are being left in disrepair.”
Several members of the Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance (BVHA) were present at the conclave. The BVHA is an alliance of concerned locals and Vrindavan lovers that was formed in 2010 to oppose the half-moon bridge that was being built on top of Keshi Ghat. BVHA members, including Shri Madhu Mangal Shukla and VT editor, Shri Jagannath Poddar, worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the illegality of the construction of a bridge within such close range of national monuments. The members of the alliance went to work once again when people became concerned that Shri Keshi Ghat was again threatened by the ‘Riverfront project’, which has pushed the Yamuna away from Keshi Ghat.
Regarding the purpose of creating a list of priorities for development work, Shri Poddar said, “We will prepare a proposal to be given to Hema Malini ji or whoever wins the election. Our voice must reach the ears of the politicians in Delhi.”
By organizing conclaves on various issues, Vrindavan Today aims to give a voice to the people who love Vrindavan the most – people who remember ‘what Vrindavan used to be like’ and share a vision of a peaceful Vrindavan with the integrity of the historical temples and ghats intact.
Several priests of different temples, local leaders and social workers attended the meeting, including: Shri Raja Goswami, Deepak Goswami, Madhu Mangal Shukla, B.K. Nangia, Kamal Arora, Ashish Lal Goswami, Praveen Sharma (Neetu), Deepak Parashar, Anuj Sharma, Siddharth Shukla, Jagannath Poddar, Gwaria Brajwasi Bhavesh Dubey, Dan Bihari Sharma, Purushottam Sharma, Bihari Lal Shastri, Pandit Vaibhav Sharma, Laxmikant Bohre etc.