Govardhan, 2019.06.01 (VT): With Mudiya Mela approaching this month (14thJuly to 20th July), it is an apt time to meditate on the glories of Shri Manasi Ganga – the Ganga that Shri Krishna manifested from his mind (manas). Manasi Ganga is not only connected with Shri Krishna’s pastimes, the Kund also connects with Chaitanya Lila, as Sanatan Goswami meditated nearby; as did Nanda Das, one of the Ashta Chhap poets who are most dear to the followers of Pushti Marg.
There are a wealth of legends surrounding Manasi Ganga, and while some seem to be conflicting, we can easily see how others are parallel threads of the same truth. For example, some say that Manasi Ganga was manifested because, seeing Krishna’s great love for the Yamuna, Ganga Devi also wanted to be present in Braj. Some connect the reason for Shri Krishna manifesting the Ganga with Nanda-Yashoda, while others say that Krishna manifested it to bathe after killing a demon. Manasi Ganga plays several roles in Krishna Lila, but none would deny that Ganga Devi’s desire to be in Braj is part of the reason for her presence here as Manasi Ganga.
The legend of Shri Krishna manifesting Manasi Ganga for Yashoda and Nanda Baba is held dear to many people’s hearts. This Lila carries the message that it is not necessary (and may be detrimental) to leave Braj to go on pilgrimage. If there is no Ganga in Braj, there may be a reason to leave Braj to take a bath in this holiest river. Despite their advanced age, Nanda Yashoda were planning to go for Ganga snan, but Krishna manifested Manasi Ganga so that his parents would never leave Braj.
Manasi Ganga is also connected with Shri Krishna’s demon-killing pastimes; the killing of the calf-demon, known as Vrisbhasura or Aristasura. Killing a cow is a grave sin and it was necessary for Shri Krishna to cleanse himself by bathing after killing this demon who had taken the form of a calf, so He manifested Manasi Ganga and bathed in her cleansing waters.
Amer’s King, Bhagwan Das is believed to be responsible for building the permanent ghats on Manasi Ganga in the 16th Century. The ghats were later extended by Raja Man Singh.
Many believe that Govardhan Parikrama should be initiated after a cleansing bath in Manasi Ganga, as this was recommended by Srila Rupa Goswami in his Mathura mahatmya. Most pilgrims will include a stop here.
The most renowned place to enter Manasi Ganga is Mukut Mukarvind temple, below which there are water spouts to make taking snan in the kund easier.
Recent reports of pollution causing Manasi Ganga to change colour may put some devotees off taking a full bath, however, most will sprinkle a few drops of water for ceremonial cleansing.
To the North of Manasi Ganga is Chakaleshwar Mahadev temple. Chakaleshwar Mahadev is one of the four protectors of Braj. Nearby is Sanatan Goswami’s Bhajan Kutir. One of the legends associated with Sanatan Goswami is that he planned to leave the area due to the mosquitoes, however, Lord Shiva appeared and begged him not to leave saying that he will get rid of the mosquitoes.
The 1611 record lists the departure of Srila Sanatan Goswami on the day of Guru Purnima. At this time, scores of Brajwasis shaved their heads and did Govardhan Parikrama in his honour. This tradition is alive and well today with people coming from across India to celebrate Guru Purnima in Braj and do Govardhan Parikrama.
The Aswatha tree near the temple marks the sitting place of Nanda Das, one of the later Ashta Chhap poets (8 great poets of 16th Century Braj); a disciple of Shri Vittalnathji (Gusainji), the younger son of Shri Vallabhacharya.