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Monday, July 7, 2014

Rath Yatra at Kripalu Ji Maharaj's ashram makes devotees dance and hop till they drop!

Radha Rani Rath Yatra 2014 at Radha Madhav Dham America


(VRINDAVAN TIMES NEWS): The Radha Rani Rath Yatra 2014 celebration which took place just a few hours ago at Radha Madhav Dham, the US ashram of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj, was almost too wonderful for words. Shree Radha arrived, early morning, on the chariot at the front of the temple around 7am. Not one person wasn’t smiling when they saw her. Everyone was beaming ear to ear and the excitement was almost uncontainable. From the temple roofs, devotees released all their pent up feelings of love and anticipation in the form of a torrential shower of marigolds over the chariot, which devotees had been picking and preparing from the Radha Madhav Dham flower garden for weeks. 

Petal shower for Shree Radha at Radha Madhav Dham
Petal shower for Shree Radha at Radha Madhav Dham


Petal shower for Shree Radha at Radha Madhav Dham
Petal shower for Shree Radha at Radha Madhav Dham


Voice of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj

Everyone stood in absolute stillness as “Radheeeeeey”, in the powerful voice of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj, was broadcast over microphones and pierced the entire Dham with the Divine effects. Afterwards, Shree Krishna paid homage to Shree Radha in the form of a very beautiful dance which touched the heart and soul of the assemblage at Radha Madhav Dham.

Krishna dances for Radha Rani at Radha Madhav Dham
Krishna dances for Radha Rani at Radha Madhav Dham


Meaning of Radha Rani Rath Yatra at Radha Madhav Dham

Before the procession began, Swami Nikhilanand Ji gave a brief overview of the meaning of Radha Rani Rath Yatra 2014 at Radha Madhav Dham. It comes from a tradition in Braj, where the Brajwasis used to take Radha Rani on a yatra to various holy places. It was intended to showcase Radha Rani, the queen of Braj. He announced that Sushree Siddheshvari Didi would give a more fuller lecture later on.

The Rath Yatra 2014 began at Radha Madhav Dham, as hundreds of devotees danced and chanted along the procession route. An amazing journey was to be ahead, as it was not just a procession; but in addition, grand, thrilling and magnificent leela jhankis were to be shown at various beautiful holy spots along the procession route. At each stop, devotees would perform arti to Shree Radha.




The first stop for the Rath was Kaliya Naag cove. Elaborate arrangements had been made so devotees had places to sit, and watch a divine play depicting the intense separation and meeting of Shree Radha, Gopis and Krishna.

Radha Krishna leela in a boat used by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj
Radha Krishna leela in a boat used by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj

Radha Krishna leela in a boat used by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj
Radha Krishna leela in a boat used by Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj


The next stop was Govardhan Hill and Prem Sarovar. At Prem Sarovar, another leela jhanki awaited. All of the leela jhankis were performed by Radha Madhav Dham devotee youth, and had been specially choreographed by a teacher of Shiksha, School of Indian Arts & Culture, a popular new school at Radha Madha Dham.

There was a lovely feeling at Prem Sarovar of Radha Madhav Dham, as hundreds of devotees watched a beautiful scene of Radha Krishna and gopis in a flower decorated boat. It was the same boat that Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj used to spend time in, during his historic visit to America in 2005 and 2007. Radha Krishna’s boat traversed the Divine pond many times, veering closer and closer to the assemblage, who watched in spell-bound joy. When the boat came close enough, the gopis began to splash water. Later, Shree Krishna splashed water on Shree Radha and all the spectators. It was vivid scene, as though the meditations that had been practiced for years, had come alive, before the very eyes. It was not a dream – but a real opportunity to feel the closeness of Radha Krishna on this special day. Prasad of sweets and bombay mix were liberally distributed among the assemblage.

The excitement was building up more and more as the procession continued back towards the temple. Swami Nikhilanand Ji, sanyasi pracharak of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj, led kirtan, as devotees danced and sang with ever more joy. Swami Mukundananda Ji embarked the Rath and soon, Swami Nikhilanand Ji, Swami Mukundananda Ji and Swami Maheshvaranand Ji were dancing with joy on the Rath. The energy began to reach it’s climax as the Rath arrived back at the front of the temple. Swami Mukundananda led “Hari Bol” chanting and beckoned everyone to follow him into the temple.


Devotees of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj dancing in bliss

Devotees of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj dancing in bliss
Devotees of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj dancing in bliss

The full climax was reached inside the temple as devotees and preachers danced, hopped and didn’t stop till they dropped. At the front, there was the amazing scene of Swami Mukundananda Ji, Swami Nikhilanand Ji and Swami Maheshvaranand Ji leaping high into air in the ecstasy of their immeasurable joy, as though having beaten gravity in a transcendental challenge.

Siddheshvari Didi, disciple of Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj, gives Radha Rani Rath Yatra lecture


After a grand arti, Sushree Siddheshvari Didi gave an enthralling discourse on the significance of the occasion.

Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj enact leela during Rath Yatra
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj enact leela during Rath Yatra

But that was not the end! A special leela performance was to take place. It depicted the life of a famous saint. He lived in Braj and had asked his guru for some seva and his guru had told him to sweep a certain mandal every day; but that if he finds something, he must return it to the original, verified owner. Radha Krishna and Gopis used to come to that spot every night, to do raas leela.

Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj enact leela during Rath Yatra
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Ji Maharaj enact leela during Rath Yatra


In one scene, a beautiful dance of Radha Krishna was performed. It so happened that, later on, Shree Radha told one of her sakhis that she had lost an ankle bracelet and asked her to find it. The sakhi went looking for it, met the devotee sweeper and, on knowing that he had found it, asked him to return it. He wouldn’t give it, until he met the original owner, and verified it by seeing the matching ankle bracelet. The original owner, Radha Rani, appeared and lifted her dress slightly ajar, so as to prove that it was indeed her ankle bracelet. The amazing thing was, that the style of Shree Radha’s lifting of her dress, was the same pose as the Shree Radha in the shrine.

Charan Pooja of Shree Radha at US ashram of Jagadguru Shree Kripalu Ji Maharaj

The most special opportunity was about to be availed of, as it was announced that charan pooja of Radha Rani with flower petals was to take place. All throughout the year, the lotus feet of Radha Rani are covered, but on this day, Shree Radha reveals her lotus feet. Nothing could be said about the joy a devotee experiences from being close to lotus feet of Shree Radha; and at this time, everyone had a chance to get close and offer the pooja of the devotional feelings. There is an amazing feeling in the shrine, when you get closer and closer to Shree Radha. There is a crystal like purity in the air, a sereneness, as with many of the most holy of holy spots.

A grand feast was served afterwards. Everyone is experiencing a lovely combination of tiredness and happiness, but glad to have been part of this amazing day. Those who didn’t make it this year, should make it a priority to come next year. Here is a video mashup of the Radha Madha Dham Intensive 2014. More pictures on Radha Madhav Dham Facebook.

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