to the first Hindi edition
In 1946, I took shelter of the lotus feet of my most worshipful spiritual master, om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja. From that time, by his causeless mercy, I received the good fortune to travel with him. On many occasions, I was highly blessed to perform parikrama and have darsana of sacred place tirthas throughout all of India. We visited places such as Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu's birthplace (Mayapura Yogapitha); the islands of Sri Dhama Navadvipal; pastimes places and other sacred places of Gauda-mandala; Vaidyanatha Devaghara; Mandara Madhusudana; Gaya; Kasi; Prayaga; Ayodhya; Naimisaranya; the places Sriman Mahaprabhu visited in South India; Dvaraka and other places of pilgrimage of West India; Ajanta-Elora of Central India; the sacred places of Rajasthana, such as Jaipur and Ajmer; and all the pastime places of Vraja-mandala. Furthermore, after Srila Gurudeva left this world to enter his unmanifest pastimes, I was fortunate enough to again visit and perform parikrama of these sacred pastime places several time under the guidance of the Sri Gaudiya Vedanta Samiti.
Above all, however, I received the great opportunity of performing Vraja-mandala parikrama on foot each year with my most worshipful holy master and some five hundred faithful devotees. Sri Gurudeva entrusted the responsibility of serving Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha to me in 1954. Since then, I have annually been performing Vraja-mandala parikrama with the brahmacaris of Sri Kesavaji Gaudiya Matha and some of the many devout and respectable residents of Mathura. Thus, I have been fortunate to have performed Vraja-mandala parikrama more than fifty times in over fifty years.
After the disappearance of Srila Gurudeva, I gave lectures during Sri Vraja-mandala parikrama on the pastime places and their glories. A short compilation of these lectures was published in English a few years ago in a book entitled Sri Vraja-mandala Parikrama. This book was highly regarded by faithful persons in India and abroad, and all copies quickly sold. Time and again, devotees from all parts of the world asked for it to be reprinted, with yet more pastime places to cover the entire Vraja-mandala. I could not ignore their requests, and attempted to fulfill their desire. But then I left India and began traveling round the world to countries big and small, to preach pure bhakti as taught and practiced by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. I was writing other books on bhakti at the time, and was suffering recurrent poor health, so I could not complete the task. After returning from preaching abroad in July 1999, I wanted to finally finish the book, but, once again, was obstructed by sudden ill health.
Under these circumstances, I decided to present myself at the lotus feet of Sriman Mahaprabhu Sacinandana Gaurahari in the Gambhira, at the lotus feet of Sri Haridas a Thakura at Siddhabakula, and at the lotus feet of Sri Gadadhara Pandita, the potency of Sriman Mahaprabhu, at Tota gopinatha in Sri Jagannatha Puri. I resolved to complete this book there, only by their mercy. I stayed in Puri-dhama for some time and on Visvarupa-mahotsava, 25th September, 1999, completed Vraja-mandala Parikrama.
I have based this book on Sri Caitanya-bhagavata, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Bhakti-ratnakara by Sri Narayana Bhatta, and especially Vraja-mandala Darsana (Parikrama) compiled by Sri Krsnadasa Babaji Maharaja of Kusuma-sarovara. I have also collected various references to different pastimes from Govinda-lilamrta by Sri Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami, Krsna-bhavanamrta composed by vraja-rasa rasika Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura, and the various works of the Gosvamis. In this regard, I remember my spiritual master, paramaradhya astotara-sata Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, by whose mercy I received everything on the subject of Vraja-mandala parikrama and the many pastime places in Vraja. I have strung these recollections together with references to the pastime places from the various literary works. Before meeting my holy master and receiving his causeless mercy, my life ws void.
(to the first English Edition)
For those sincere devotees who deeply desire to enter into the sweetness of Sri Vraja-dhama, this book is cause for great joy. It takes the faithful reader on an extraordinary journey through Vraja, following the same general route taken annually on Sri Vraja-mandala parikrama.
Sri Vraja-mandala parikrama was inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself. Sri Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada re-established it in October 1932, and his dear most disciple, Sri Srimad Bhakti Prajnana Kesava Gosvami Maharaja, sustained it in the decades that followed. Our beloved spiritual master, om visnupada Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, has been guiding pilgrims on this parikrama since 1954, thus fulfilling the inner heart's desire of all the acaryas in our line.
The Western world ws first introduced to Sri Vraja-mandala parikrama by the causeless mercy of Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja, who founded the International Society for Krsna Consciousness (ISKCON) in July 1966 and spread the teachings of Sriman Mahaprabhu to every corner of the globe. For more than twenty years, western devotees have been helped to gain a further appreciation of Sri Vraja-dhama by Srila Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja who emphasizes the value of trying to deeply enter Srila Rupa Gosvami's teachings on bhakti. This English translation of Sri Vraja-mandala Parikrama is another of the priceless gems that he is giving to the English-speaking world.
This volume is basically a direct translation of the material, mostly to with some slight changes to the order of the material, mostly to provide greater continuity. We were guided in our efforts by our dear Gurudeva, as well s by Srimad Bhaktivedanta Madhava Maharaja, Sriman Pundarika dasa Brahmacari and Sriman Madhava-priya dasa Brahmacari.
This rendition of Sri Vraja-mandala Parikrama is not meant as a catalogue of information or data. Rather, it is meant to stir the heat of the faithful and inquisitive readers, inspiring them to understand more deeply the sweet Vraja pastimes of the Divine Couple, Sri Radha-Krsna, having directly heard them spoken from the lips of a pure Vaisnava.
I am grateful to Janaki dasi for translating Sri Vraja-mandala Parikrama into English. She was assisted by Manjulali dasi and Gaura-hari dasa. Vaijayanti-mala dasi and Sundara-gopala dasa edited the text and helped in various ways to bring this book to print. The manuscript was proofread by Vicitri dasi, Manjari dasi and many others. Krsna-karunya dasa Brahmacari did the layout. Photographs for the book are courtesy of Hemant Kumar, Kaliya-damana dasa, Sarada dasi, Rupa-Raghunatha dasa Brahmacari, Bhakta Charles and others.
I would also like to extend my thanks to Nanda-kisora dasa, Purandara dasa Brahmacari, Srimati Uma didi, Vrndavana-vilasini dasi, Sudarsana dasa, Kisora-krsna dasa, Atula-krsna dasa and Srinivasa dasa for their valuable help. I also want to express my heart-felt gratitude to the devotees in the Mathura Matha, under the guidance of Sriman Premananda dasa Brahmacari, who are always supporting the Western devotees by providing hari-katha, prasada, lodging and their hospitality in general.
Finally, I want to thank Radha-kanta dasa, Rati-kala dasi and Rama-kanta dasa, whose generous financial contributions made this production possible.
I humbly beg our readers to overlook any imperfections they might find within this book. Anything that is pleasing and that touches the heart is the result of the mercy of our spiritual master, and any errors are due to my own inadequacies.
Back of the Book
Sri Vraja-mandala parikrama, originally inaugurated by Sriman Mahaprabhu Himself, has been conducted for over fifty years under the supervision and guidance of Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja. This book is a beautiful exposition of the confidential places of Sri Krsna's sweet pastimes in Vraja. The sincere devotee who has a deep thirst to enter into the sweetness of the land of Vraja will find ambrosial nectar flowing through these pages.
"Blessed is this land of Vraja, where the creator of the universe, Lord Brahma, dwells in the form of a mountain range in Varsana, to have the dust of the Divine Couple Sri Radha-Krsna's lotus feet on his head; where the maintainer, Lord Visnu, has assumed the forms of Govardhana and Visnu-parvata; where the moon-crested Lord Siva has taken up residence as Nandisvara Hill in Nandagrama; and where Sri Uddhava, the best of Sari's servants, lives as a blade of grass, a small shrub or a creeper on the bank of Kusuma-sarovara."
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