We are delighted to present to our readers the third edition of Vrindavan Today, your monthly dose of ‘Braj Raj’! Since the launch of the magazine in March 2019, it has been our constant endeavour to bring a glimpse of Braj to the Dham’s well-wishers. A wide range of subjects are covered, with spiritual and cultural heritage on one hand, and environmental and civic issues on the other.
On the cover this time, are the myriad flavours of Braj, which originate in temple kitchens. The richness of these gustatory delights overflows into the literature, music and rituals of the Dham, where ‘Prasad’ is not just eaten, but written, sung and celebrated. These culinary gems from the temples of Vrindavan, Mathura, Mahavan and other places, form a sumptuous blend of tastes and aromas that is seasoned with generous doses of Bhakti by the hallowed Vaishnav Sampradayas.
Another highlight of the May edition is an exclusive interview with Chaudhary Laxmi Narayan Singh, Culture and Dairy Development Minister of Uttar Pradesh. As part of Vrindavan Today’s commitment to preserving Braj heritage and culture, we are duty-bound to not only explore what our political leadership thinks in this regard, but also to act as a channel of communication between them and the Brajwasis who are struggling to keep Braj culture alive in the face of rapid globalization. The interview centres on concerns such as the conservation of tangible and intangible heritage and cow protection.
Vrindavan Today is the fruit of the blessings of ‘Braj vibhutis’ who have graced Shri Dham with their presence time and again. This month we pay obeisance to Siddha Jaikrishna Das Babaji of Kamyavan whose life was dedicated to and blessed by Vrinda Devi.
We also go into what the scriptures say about whether Radha Kund appeared on ‘Bahulashtami’ or ‘Chaitra Purmina’. And, did Krishna really leave Radha in the midst of Rasa Lila to go elsewhere, or did he just melt out of sight to reappear 4500 years later as Shri Radharaman? This issue uncovers such interesting facets on the trail to these two iconic pieces of Braj heritage.
Among the traditions that the issue seeks to introduce are the famed ‘Narasimha Lila’ and ‘Akshaya Tritiya’ or ‘Chandan Yatra’ celebrations in Braj. Every year on Narasimha Chaturdasi, the ‘Prakatya’ and ‘Hiranyakashipu Vadh Lilas’ of the half-man, half-lion ‘avatara’ of Shri Vishnu are depicted through a vibrant mix of literary, performing, visual and martial arts in the winding streets of Braj-Vrindavan.
Akshaya Tritiya marks the beginning of Chandan Yatra in Braj where the ‘Shri vigrahas’ of the divine couple are smeared with sandalwood paste to provide them relief from the scorching summer heat. The Deities revel in the cool and scented breeze flowing from intricately designed flower-mansions that form part of the month-long celebration.
Although the glories of Krishna’s land are eternal, in accordance with our purpose of drawing people’s attention to present-day developments and issues, in this edition, we present a list of issues that were the result of a conclave on ‘Expectations from our local member’. We also look at the ‘monkey menace’, or, in the light of the Dham’s ethos, we should say, the ‘man-made monkey menace’.
Lastly, we take this opportunity to request your support, which will go a long way in helping us serve Shri Vrindavan Dham and protect its cultural and environmental grandeur.