The town of Vrindavan is honoured by the Hindus as the place where Lord Krishna spent his childhood. It is said that it is here in Vrindavan that Krishna performed the divine dance with Radha through raasleelas, stole the clothes of the gopis while they were bathing and destroyed several demons.
Vrindavan is a major pilgrimage destination for the Hindus and has about 5000 temples to its credit. It is said that Vrindavan was rediscovered by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 1515 when the revered saint visited the town in search for all the lost places associated with Lord Krishna.
He wandered through the sacred forests of Vrindavan and with his spiritual powers, he was able to locate the holy places in and around the town. Vrindavan has been visited by all the great Hindu saints at least once in their lifetime.
The place is called as Vrindavan because one of the divinities joining Lord Krishna in his Vrindavan lilas was Vrinda Devi. Considered a form of goddess Lakshmi, Vrinda Devi appears as the tulsi plant, which covered Vrindavan as an expansive forest. Vrinda Devi helps seekers attain Krishna and, it is said that Krishna does not like taking food or flower offerings which are not accompanied by Tulsi. It is for this vast forest of Tulsi that Vrindavan is named as Vrinda means Tulsi, or holy basil, and van is the word for a forest.
Why is it important for Hindus to know the history of Vrindavan?
Well, It is said that Vrindavan is a unique a place with a power to help us experience, access and even become completely immersed in the divine. And such places are called as Tirtha. Vrindavan’s status as a tirtha has made it the center for a number of practices and traditions that make the place important in ways.
Vrindavan is considered as Tirtha as about 5000 years ago, Lord Krishna came to live in Vrindavan expressly for the purpose of reveling in his own creation and he did not come alone. Every single divine being took form as something or another in Vrindavan so they could witness Krishna’s divine play.
History of Vrindavan
5,000 years ago, Krishna loved and played in Vrindavan, with a host of divine beings that manifested as the cows. River goddess Yamuna features prominently in Krishna’s divine retinue, she serves an important role helping those seeking Krishna to attain the moods and modes of being necessary to do so.
Many years after Lord Krishna’s passing, His great-grandson, Vajranabh, was asked by the devotees to go to Vrindavan and restore the lila sthals (places of Lord Krishna’s lilas). Those sites, where Krishna’s life events, childhood mischief, and divine romance, had been long forgotten. After praying to Sri Radha and Sri Krishna, Vajranabh was filled with their divine presence and Vrindavan’s long-forgotten lila sthals such as forests, water tanks, hills, trees and more- were revealed to him. Vajranabh established temples and installed deities at a number of these lila sthals.
When Sri Krishna lived in Vrindavan, it was just a small village of cow herding people. In Krishna’s time, Braj was made up of twelve beautiful and sacred forests and all of these are included in the popular Braj yatra pilgrimage such as Bhadravana, Bilvavana (Belvan), Lohavana (Lauhavana), Bhandiravana, Mahavana, Madhuvan, Talavana, Kumudavana, Bahulavana, Kamyavana, Khadiravana, and Vrindavana.
The city of Mathura, where Lord Krishna was born, was the capital of Braj and was much larger than the small villages surrounding it. Mathura is famous in its own right as one of India’s Sapta Puris, or places where great saints and divine avatars have been born or taken form. The Buddha visited Mathura, which was a great Buddhist center up until the 9th century C.E.
Vrindavan, which today is a town of around 63,000 people. It continues to attract even more people from around India and around the world, with some estimates putting the annual number of visitors at over 32 million.
However, most of these visitors leave their waste behind them. Large feasts are taken on Styrofoam plates that are left behind by the visitors.
The Yamuna river, considered by devotees a Goddess who grants closeness to Krishna, is extremely polluted in Vrindavan. Fortunately now efforts are being made to save Yamuna river.