Discovery – Being a great fan of “Krishna” in general and of course ISKCON (please note, I don’t belong to any cult or religious groups. It’s just that I enjoy the concept of ISKCON – everything is so pretty and clean and artistic, they make “Krishna” look even better!) it was only natural that I wanted to visit Barsana Dham the moment it came up on google search when I was looking for temples in Austin. The other half was a bit skeptical at first but then decided to play along and we made a trip to Radha Madhav Dham or Barsana dham at Austin, Texas last summer.
I love the fact that we discovered this place where devotion, spirituality and meditation come together. Barring all the controversies associated with the ashram, even if you are not too religious, but want to experience a quiet, peaceful and beautiful place to mediate or get away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and the grind of daily lives, this ashram is a great place to visit. I only felt it right to share my discovery with the rest of the world.
Per their website “Established in 1990, Radha Madhav Dham is one of the largest Hindu temples and ashrams in the U.S. Built to preserve the devotional environment that prevailed in the ancient ashrams of Vrindavan, the beauty and serenity of Radha Madhav Dham is unparalleled. Spread over 200 acres, this beautiful ashram is a representation of the holy land of Braj in India where Radha Rani and Shree Krishna appeared 5,000 years ago. Radha Madhav Dham has a singular mission – To Inspire Devotion To Radha Krishna”
The day we visited the Ashram was quite muggy day and we expecting rains some time soon. Maybe that’s what prompted the residential peacocks to take strolls around the green acres of the ashram. We were welcomed by these guys strutting around the Maharas Mandal while this guy decided he was better off resting on the tree! If you haven’t seen a peacock this close call I can say is that it is an experience. What a beautiful sight…I cannot come up with words to describe the joy I felt when I was so close to these beautiful, majestic birds!
Barsana Dham is modeled on “Barsana” the place where Radha Rani, was supposed to have been born and brought up. Various locations of importance from the history of Vrindavan and Barsana have been created around the 200 acres of the Ashram trying to bring a visitor closer to Radha and Krishna. Some of the spots that I fell in love with were:
Krishna and his friends could always be found at this little hillock in Vrindhavan. They let their cows graze the rich green grass while they climbed trees, plotted tricks to play on the gopis and did all those things that little boys did! When the town was threatened by flood, due to torrential downpours of rain, little Krishna, managed to carry the entire hill and balanced it on his little finger for 7 whole days while the folks of Vrindavan managed to find solace and safety under the hillock. Yes, I felt Krishna standing on that hillock that day as I whizzed past the recreated hillock on a courtesy vehicle from the ashram…don’t miss the creativity that had gone in decorating the hillock here and there with statues of cows ad Krishna playing the flute…
Representative of the lake / pond where Radha rani used to bathe / play this pond welcomes all visitors as they enter the Ashram
I have always been fascinated by the Ras Leela! In fact its my dream to do a painting of the same. Imagine Krishna dancing with Radha and all the other Gopis, the Maharas mandal is a recreation of the same spot where the most elevated form of divine darshan was granted to all of Krishnas gopis. One can feel a sense of calm and peace descending on his/ her being while standing out here with the Radha Kund on one side and the forest on the other. And of course, your day will be made if the peacocks decide to take a walk around the area or start calling their mates! I for once was extremely happy and even enjoyed a hearty laugh when my son about 18 months old then, decided to run behind a peacock 🙂
The spot where the peacocks decided to dance for Radha and the day Krishna disguised himself as a peacock to dance for his love. All I can say is that if you a writer or an artist, you will want to set up shop here while you are at the ashram.
Now, this spot is not really based on an actual place that existed during the days of Radha and Krishna. This little canal resembles the head and body of the famous Kalia that Krishna defeated and one cant help but imagine little Krishna dancing on the head of the snake out here
There is more to this place but these spots have been more deeply etched in my mind. Apparently in spring, the fields and the forests are filled with wild flowers and now that is a sight I’d definitely want to see.
Until then, I am leaving you with some of my favorite pictures from within and outside the ashram
Written as a part of the A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015