Places Of Interest At Madhuvana
In the Bhakti-ratnakara, it is said that in the sacred forest of Madhuvana one can see a very beautiful lake which is full of sweet transparent water and fragrant blue lotus flowers, and anyone who bathes there will achieve the fulfillment of all their desires. This sacred lake in Madhuvana forest is known as Krishna-kunda, or sometimes as Madhu-kunda and Madhuvana-kunda, and was the place where Krishna and Balarama performed many of
Their transcendental pastimes. Krishna and Balarama often brought their cows to Madhuvana forest to graze on the sweet fresh grass that grew there. This pastime known as ‘ go-charana-lila’ which means ‘taking out the cows’ or sometimes as ‘ghoshta-vihara’ meaning ‘ambrosial pastimes in the pastures’ forms an integral part of Krishna and Balarama’s daily activities of taking the the cows to pasturing grounds around Vraja. Once on a hot summer day, when Krishna was grazing His cows in Madhuvana forest, He created this kunda by pushing His flute into the ground so that the cows and cowherd boys could quench their thirst. This kunda then became famous as Krishna-kunda and Krishna and Balarama would enjoy many wonderful picnics along with their friends on the banks of this celebrated kunda.
In the Vraja-bhakti-vilasa, all the presiding deities of the sacred forests of Vrindavana Dhama are mentioned, along with all the various mantras and invocations to be chanted while performing archaman or bathing in the various kundas, but this is highly ritualistic and impractical for most pilgrims to follow, therefore it is recommended that one should simply chant the supremely powerful maha-mantra when bathing or performing archaman, either here at Krishna-kunda, or at any other kunda in Vraja Mandala. When Lord Chaitanya was performing parikrama of Vraja Mandala, wherever He took bath or visited a temple, He always chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.
Balarama Temple (Dauji Mandira)
This deity of Lord Balarama in this temple is considered to be the presiding deity of the village. The word ‘Dau’ or ‘Dauji’ means elder brother, and is the affectionate name used by Vrajavasis for Lord Balarama, the elder brother of Lord Krishna. It is believed that the deity of Lord Balarama was established here at Krishna-kunda thousands of years ago. The original deity was unfortunately lost in the course of time and the present deity of Lord
Balarama is the ‘pratibhu-murti’ or replica of the original deity that possesses the same spiritual potency.
It is said that the deity of Lord Shatrughna was originally installed here at Madhuvana during the Treta-yuga and is known locally as Madhuvana-bihari, which means the ‘Enjoyer of Madhuvana’. It is said that Lord Rama personally gave this name to his brother Shatrughna before sending him to Madhuvana. Unfortunately, the original deity was lost many years ago and the present deity is the pratibhu expansion. The old temple of Lord Shatrughna was built in the typical Vraja architectural style which became prominent during the period when the temples of the Six Gosvamis were built in Vrindavana. The Goswami temples were constructed in the late 16th and early 17th Centuries, therefore, the old temple of Lord Shatrughana that can be seen here today dates back about 400 years.
The word ‘tila’ means a ‘small hill’, and this is the exact spot in Madhuvana forest where the famous child-saint Dhruva Maharaja performed austerities to please the Supreme Lord during the Satya-yuga. This is also the same place where Dhruva received the divine darshana of Lord Vishnu in His form as Lord Prishnigarbha. Dhruva Maharaja was a royal prince and son of the Aryan Emperor Uttanapada in the dynasty of Swayambhuva Manu, but due to being insulted at the instance of his step-mother, he decided to leave home. On the advice of his birth mother Suniti Devi, Dhruva left for the forest in search of Lord Krishna, whom his mother said was the only person who could help him to remove his feelings of hurt and also fulfill his desires.
By the will of providence, the great sage amongst the demigods Shrila Narada Muni, came to know that the five year old Dhruva had left his father’s palace to live in the forest. Therefore, Narada Muni went to meet Dhruva to enquire from him the reason for his leaving his father’s opulent kingdom in exchange for a life of solitude and penance in the forest. On hearing that Dhruva had been badly insulted and wanted to achieve a kingdom that would be far greater than even his father’s own great kingdom, Narada was very surprised that a mere boy of only five years of age could posses such a powerful ksatriya spirit. Narada was also moved by the child’s sincerity and was extremely pleased that Dhruva was determined to meet the Supreme Lord directly in order to achieve his heart’s desire. Narada Muni advised Dhruva to go to the Madhuvana forest and perform austerities there, as he would very quickly achieve the desired result. Narada also gave Dhruva a very powerful mantra by which he could propitiate the Lord directly. The mantra given by Narada to Dhruva was “Om namah bhagavate vasudevaya.”
That a little boy of only five year of age was engaged in such severe forms of penance, like standing on only one leg and subsisting only on air, the Supreme Lord Vishnu became very pleased with the sincerity and devotion of Dhruva Maharaja, and appeared before him in His four armed Narayana feature known as Lord Prishnigarbha. After hearing the heartfelt prayers of Dhruva, the Lord awarded the child the highest benediction of pure devotional service and liberation from repeated birth and death. The Lord also granted Dhruva a kingdom far greater than any earthly kingdom including that of his father, and appointed him as ruler of the localized Vaikuntha planet known as Swetadwipa, which is also called the Pole Star.
On top of the hill known as Dhruva Tila, where Dhruva performed austerities, is a temple known as the Dhruva-Narayana Mandir, where two important shrines can be seen. One shrine contains the deity of Lord Vishnu in His merciful feature as Prishnigarbha, also called Dhruva-Narayana, giving His blessings to Dhruva, who is seen offering his obeisance’s to the Lord’s lotus feet. Also present in the same shrine is Shrila Narada Muni, as well as Garuda, the eagle carrier of Lord Narayana. In the second shrine are the deities of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Narayana, along with a deity of Shri Nathaji and Lord Krishna’s dear friend Uddhava.
Madhu Gufa (Cave)
This is said to have been the cave (gufa) where the demon Madhu once lived when he ruled the Madhuvana forest. It is also said that Madhu’s son Lavanasura also lived in the same cave. Local people say that this cave goes underground for a few miles, but because the cave, over the period of many years, is continually shrinking, it is now far too narrow and dangerous to venture inside. Many demons preferred to make their homes in deep
labyrinthine caves with a number of exits for easy escape in case of being attacked. There is now a shrine in the cave entrance dedicated to the monkey-god Hanuman. According to the Ramayana, the Madhu demon built a city at Madhuvana known as Madhu Puri, which was later inherited by Madhu’s son Lavanasura.
—Adapted from the book ‘ Vrajmandal Parikrama’ by Sri Rajshekhar das Brahmachari