Vrindavan, August 30, 2015: The Sapta Devalaya temples gave special darshan to the devotees during the Jhulanotsava. When it ends on the day of Raksha Bandhan (purnima) in Vrindavan, the mood of the deities is still immersed in swinging. To change their mood from swinging to other pastimes, different darshan is organized in the temples of the Sapta Devalaya.
Six out of the seven Sapta Devalaya temples organize special darshan for the devotees. Some devotees fondly call it charan darshan, because on that one day in the entire year they can have darshan of Radha Rani’s lotus feet. Govindaji, Madan Mohan and Gokulananda temples organize this charan darshan, where Radharani’s supremacy to Krishna is displayed.
According to Shri Gopinath Lal Dev Goswami, sevait of Radha Gopinath temple, “A long time ago, during Shravan Jhulanotsava, the deities from the Govinda, Gopinath and Madan Mohan temples used to visit their gardens, which were situated far from the temple. The arrangements of the swing used to be organized there. The deities stayed in the gardens till the end of the Jhulanotsava, and the daily worshipping was performed there only. But the swinging in the cool rainy season breezes intoxicated their minds and they didn’t want to go back to the temples.”
“The sevaits also enjoyed the divine Jhulan pastime with their Lordships and wanted to continue the festival past the Purnima. These amusing darshans, in which the deities are dressed in various costumes depicting different lilas or disguises, were organized at first to deviate the mood of the sevaits and the Divine Couple. So now they have been maintaining the tradition of the special darshans in the days following Raksha Bandhan,” added Goswami.
Govinda Dev Mandir: Subal Vesha darshan is organized in this temple. This incredible darshan is based on the pastime when Krishna wanted to meet Radharani, but she was in Javat with her mother-in-law Jatila. Subal tricked Jatila and Kutila into going the forest to look for his calf. Since Subal’s features are very similar to those of Radharani, they exchanged dresses and she dressed up as Subal. But certain female features were still quite obvious. Even so, Subal assured her that it would not be a problem. In his Radha disguise he told everyone that he was looking for his calf, while Radha held the calf on her chest so that no one would notice anything. So here, in this darshan, Radharani is dressed as Subal with her dhoti between her legs. Thus her lotus feet are visible on this day. She holds a beautiful white calf on her chest. (The Govinda Dev Temple doesn’t allow to the photography). The deities of Imli Tala also give similar darshan of Govinda Dev).
Gopinath Mandir: Here the darshan is Van Bihar, forest pastimes at night. The whole altar is covered with greenery, along with birds, monkeys, and fruits. There are extra gopis and sakhas besides the Deity of Ananga Manjari, who traditionally presides here along with Radha Gopinatha. On the dvitiya after Nrisingha Chaturdasi, all the Brijbasis do a Vrindavan parikrama at night known as Van Bihar Parikrama.
Madan Mohan Mandir: Here in the Madan Mohan mandir, Radharani is dressed as a king. Devotees called Radharani “Rai Raja.” Rai is another name of Radharani, according to the Bengali devotees. After performing in Rasa Lila, the gopis and Krishna were tired and they took rest in a grove of kadamba trees. When Krishna awoke, he could not find his flute or mukut (crown). The Gopis promised to return them if Krishna became the darwan (guard) of their king (Radha).
So here Radharani stands high above the other figures on the altar, dressed as a king. She gives the devotees the opportunity to have darshan of her lotus feet. Krishna’s mukut and flute are placed at her charan (lotus feet). Madan Mohan stands down below and instead of a flute, he holds a silver sword and shield as Radharani’s darwan.
Radha Damodar temple: The Damodar temple organizes the darshan of Shyama Sakhi. In order to get close to Radharani who is upset with him, Damodar dressed himself as a Kinnari holding a beautiful gold and silver vina. The sakhis then asked the Kinnari what her name and if she could sing a song to cheer Radha up. “She” said her name was Shyama Sakhi. The blackish color and the song sung by her plunged the gopis into ecstatic bliss. Pleased with Shyama Sakhi, Radharani was about to reward her the jewel locket from her own neck. But Lalita noticed that this “sakhi” was tribhanga, bent in three ways and pointed it out to Radha. But seeing her beloved dressed up this funny way, She could no longer maintain her anger. The other deities in the Damodar Temple are also dressed in the Shyam Sakhi costume. The deities of Vrindavan Chandra, Madhava, and Chalchikan also join Radha Damodar in the fun and are also dressed as sakhis with even pots of yogurt on Their heads!
Radha Shyamasundar Mandir: The Radha Shyamasundar temple organizes Nauka Bihar (boating pastime) on this day. A beautifully decorated boat is placed in front of the altar. The small deities of Radha Shyamsundar and Kunja Bihari are put on the boat. The large deities of Radha Shyamasundar preside from behind. A small pool of water with fish is made in front of the boat. The deities of the sakhis man the silver oars.
Gokulananda Mandir: The darshan here is that of Raval’s Rai Raja. Raval is the birthplace of Radharani, near Gokula. She is dressed as a king and sits on a throne. The sevaits place some extra feet coming out from under Her sari in such a way that show she is sitting. The large Deities of Radha Vijay Govinda stands below with His silver sword and shield as the darwan (Kotwal) of Radharani.