Within all the 168 sq. mile area of Vraja Mandala, Radha-kunda is the topmost place of Radha-Govinda's eternal pastimes. Why is that, what makes Radha-kunda so special? Only here at Radha-kunda, and at no other place in Vrajabhumi, can Radha-Gopinatha freely enjoy without any disturbance from others, be it relatives or rival sakhis. Every midday, Radha-Krishna pass six hours here (10:48 a.m. to 3:36 p.m. madhyahna-lila) amusing themselves with singing, wandering, swinging, feasting, joking, water sporting, throwing colors and other blissful pastimes.
The supreme glories of Srimati Radharani and Radha-kunda are proclaimed throughout the Puranas. The Padma Purana states that among all the gopis, Srimati Radharani is the favorite beloved of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. It also says that Krishna loves Radha-kunda as much as He loves Radharani. Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamipada elaborates by saying that Radha-kunda is dearer to Krishna than His own life (Vraja-viiasa Stava 53). The Varaha Purana says that one can become free from all his sins and attain pure love of God, Krishna prema, just by bathing in the holy waters of Sri Radha-kunda.
A few hundred years ago, Radha-kunda looked vastly different than at present with its boxy buildings in every direction interspersed with a few dead trees. Presently, the spiritual beauty of Radha-kunda is hidden from our vision. But let us close our eyes for a minute and see the real Radha-kunda in our mind as we listen to the following description of Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakura who lived here amidst the rich vernal~ beauty existing in the sixteenth century:
“On all sides of Radha-kunda are wish-fulfilling trees bending over from the weight of their ripened sweet fruits and fragrant flowers. There are mango, banana, coconut, jackfruit, kadamba, bakula and banyan trees. The water of Radha-kunda is tasty, sweet and fragrant from the drops of nectar continuously falling from the flowering trees lining her banks. Regal swans glide in the water amidst the many red, yellow, blue and white lotus flowers attended to by swarms of intoxicated buzzing bees. By the arrangement of Vrinda-devi, Radha-Govinda can enjoy at any time the special features of each of the six seasons within the different forests at Radha-kunda. Cuckoos murmur softly in the trees, and love-crazed peacocks with fanned tails dance on the ground while singing ke-kaa. Beautiful male and female parrots perch in the trees and recite the glories of Radha-Govinda in elegant poetry. Deer cast their moistened, innocent glances at the Divine Couple while meandering through the sylvan bowers.” (Krsna Bhavanamrta)
There are twenty-eight delightful Radha-kunda pastimes of the most beautiful and venerable Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna, presented in this book in two divisions called occasional and eternal pastimes (naimittic and nitya-lilasy. The occasional pastimes usually occur only one time, whereas the eternal pastimes happen every day in a succession through eight time periods of the day called ashta-yama or the ashta-kaliya lila of Radha-Krishna Yugala. The appearance of the kundas, the pearl story, Radha and the cobra, and the jackal story are examples of occasional pastimes.
The eight-fold, eternal daily pastimes (ashta-kaliya-lila), which happen every day at Radha-kunda, include wandering in the forest, joking and riddles, water sports, forest feasting, a humorous dice game and more. While describing the nitya-Iilas in the second division of the book, present tense verbs are used to convey the eternal present of the Radha-Krishna's blissful loving pastimes in the timeless realm.
The eternal daily pastimes described here come from Gaudiya Vaishnava scriptures such as Govinda Lilamrta, Gopala Campu, Krsna Bhavanamrta, and Bhavanasara Sangraha. The occasional pastimes originate from various Puranas such as Padma, Skanda, Harivamsa and other sources like Mukta-carita. Some stories come from the “Sthana Purana”, which means the history of a place passed down through oral tradition for centuries by the local Radha-kunda Vrajavasis. Westerners would call this the village folklore.
These stories are not only fascinating and fun to read, but they highlight many of the charming qualities of Radha and Krishna. By reading and reflecting upon them, devotees will increase their attraction, appreciation and love for Radha and Krishna. In essence, this is the whole purpose for presenting this book.
In the 1970s, some disciples asked my Gurudeva, Srila Prabhupada, what activity should be done at Radha-kunda. With the gleam of realization in his eyes and a smile of inner experience, Srila Prabhupada said confidently, “Radha-kunda is for relishing!” So by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada, may all the devoted readers thoroughly relish Radha-Krishna Pastimes at Radha Kunda!
Setting the Stage for Divine Pastimes (divya-lila)
Occasional Pastimes (naimittic-lilas)
Sri Krishna Kills Arishta, the Bull Demon
Appearance of Shyama-kunda
Appearance of Radha-kunda
Radha and the Cobra
Radharani Astonishes Akbar
Radha Changes Her Dress
Pandavas Reveal Crooked Krishna
The Blessed Jackal
Tigers and Sunshine
Rapture at Radha-kunda
Shyama Chants “Radhe, Radhe!”
Eternal Pastimes (nitya-lilas)
Shyama's Fascination at Radha-kunda
Shyama Roams Through the Groves
The Astonishing Meeting
The Flower Thief
Bamboozling the Bamboo Flute Player
Rambling in the Forests
Thief or Queen?
The Favorite Controversy
A Rival's Reflection
A Spray of Colors
Lover in Disguise
Flying in the Sky
A Splashing Defeat
Fragrant Dress & Forest Fest
The Wager of Love
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Brahma Sutras (87)
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