For all ACBSP devotees, the proper path to enter Vrndavana is via Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg. But when I first arrived in Vraja this sacred path was not yet established. The old route was the road from Mathura to Vrndavana by pony-drawn tongas. Half way down this road, nearly opposite the very grand Birla Bandar of Lakshmi-Narayana, is a dirt road leading to Akrura Ghata. It is here at Akrura Ghata that Lord Krsna, Lord Balarama, and Akrura paused as they rode to Mathura-mandala. The Transcendental sentiment of this sacred place is that of the Vraja-gopis, who were angry at Akrura for stealing Sri Krsna and Balarama away from them.
There is also a very subtle philosophical point to be understood from Krsna's pastime here at Akrura Ghata. This is revealed best by Srila Jiva Goswami in his Sat-sandarbhas, where he makes a careful distinction between 'avatar' Krsna and 'Avatari' Krsna---between, that is to say the Supreme Lord's Vishnu expansion and the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krsna, the cause of all causes. Avatara Krsna appears for the purpose of delivering the pious and annihilating the impious, but Avatari Krsna eternally enjoys his blissful loving relationship in Vraja-mandala without taking so much as a single step out of Vraja-dham: Vrndavanam parityajya kvacin naiva gacchati (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Antya-lila, Ch.1, Text 67). Thus, the aspect of Krsna's pastime here at Akrura-ghata which is most interesting philosophically is the fact that avatara Krsna appeared simultaneous with the disappearance of Avatari Krsna. Srila Jiva Goswami explains this as follows: There exists a transcendental border around the Vraja area, between Vraja-dham and Mathura-mandal. Lord Sri Krsna, Svayam-Bhagavan, never passes beyond this line separating Vrndavana (Vraja) from Mathura. Therefore when Vasudeva carried baby Krsna to the safety of Nanda Maharaja and mother Yasoda he was actually carrying the Lord's Vishnu expansion. When Vasudeva reached this invisible transcendental boundary between the two villages of Vraja (Vrndavana) and Mathura, the Lord slipped out of his hands and into the raging water of the Yamuna River. When Vasudev picked up his little son from the water he now held Svayam-Bhagavan (Avatari) Sri Krsna Himself, in his hands, for all the Narayana expansions of the Lord had merged into the original Personality of Godhead. The Krsna Who fell into the Yamuna River was Lord Narayana, but the Krsna Who emerged was Sri Nandanandana. One may finds several discussions of this facet of the Lord's Personality in Srila Prabhupada's merciful translation of Sri Caitanya-caritamrta.
All the while the Lord enjoyed His pastimes in Vrajabhumi, His Vishnu expansions remained merged within Him. Even when demons invaded Vrndavana, Krsna displayed His Narayana feature in dealing with them, and in this way He fully enjoys His loving relationships with the pure devotees of Vrndavana.
When Akrura took Krsna and Balarama to Mathura and paused midway to take bath and chant Gayatri, the transcendental transformation of the Supreme Lord from avatari Krsna to avatara Krsna took place again. As Akrura bathed, svayam bhagavan Krsna became unmanifest (residing eternally in the hearts of the Vrajavasis, lead by Radharani) and His Vishnu expansion emerged from His Supreme Personality and conducted the Lord's pastimes in Mathura, Dvaraka, etc. Therefore, Akrura-ghata is important, and at the small temple and lake here the pilgrim should pause and pay respect, followed by a bath (at lease a shira-snan) and chanting of Gayatri-mantra...
--->Lord Krishna has His bhauma lila, where He appears in different incarnations, including His Krishna Avatara Bhauma Lila, besides which He eternally sports in Vaikuntha in Golok Dham enjoying His Nitya Lila, which has no beginning nor end, and which doesn't take place within the material creation. This is a very misunderstood subject. One "modern Guru" told me that Krishna's "nitya lila" was roaming from one universe after another and performing His incarnation. This Guru said joining Krishna in these incarnations was liberation. I told him that what he described is called Krishna's "Bhauma Lila", BUT, Krishna's "Nitya Lila" takes place eternally outside the jada Samsara. In Nitya Lila there are no demons nor non devotees, and Krishna enjoys with devotees in 5 rasas. To enter the Nitya Lila, THAT is Vaishnav liberation.
By Richard Shaw Brown (Hrishikeshananda dasa ACBSP)
ataeva—therefore; goloka-sthäne—in the original Goloka Våndävana planet; nitya vihära—eternal pastimes; brahmäëòa-gaëe—within the material universes; krame—gradually; präkaöya—manifestation; tähära—of them.
“The eternal pastimes of Kåñëa are continuously taking place in the original Goloka Våndävana planet. These same pastimes are gradually manifested within the material world, in each and every brahmäëòa."
Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura elucidates this complicated explanation of Kåñëa’s pastimes. Kåñëa’s pastimes are always present in the material world in one of the many universes. These pastimes appear in the universes one after the other, just as the sun moves across the sky and measures the time. Kåñëa’s appearance may be manifested in this universe at one moment, and immediately after His birth, this pastime is manifested in the next universe. After His killing of Pütanä is manifested in this universe, it is next manifested in another universe. Thus all the pastimes of Kåñëa are eternally existing both in the original Goloka Våndävana planet and in the material universes. The 125 years calculated in our solar system to be Kåñëa’s lifetime equal one moment for Kåñëa. One moment these pastimes are manifested in one universe, and the next moment they are manifested in the next universe. There are unlimited universes, and Kåñëa’s pastimes are manifested one moment after the other in all of them. This rotation is explained through the example of the sun’s moving across the sky. Kåñëa appears and disappears in innumerable universes, just as the sun appears and disappears during the day. Although the sun appears to rise and set, it is continuously shining somewhere on the earth. Similarly, although Kåñëa’s pastimes seem to appear and disappear, they are continuously existing in one brahmäëòa (universe) or another. Thus all of Kåñëa’s léläs are present simultaneously throughout the innumerable universes. By our limited senses we cannot appreciate this; therefore Kåñëa’s eternal pastimes are very difficult for us to understand. One should try to understand how they are taking place by understanding the example of the sun. Although the Lord is appearing constantly in the material universes, His pastimes are eternally present in the original Goloka Våndävana. Therefore these pastimes are called nitya-lélä (eternally present pastimes). Because we cannot see what is going on in other universes, it is a little difficult for us to understand how Kåñëa is eternally manifesting His pastimes. There are fourteen Manus in one day of Brahmä, and this time calculation is also taking place in other universes. Kåñëa’s pastimes are manifested before fourteen Manus expire. Although it is a little difficult to understand the eternal pastimes of Kåñëa in this way, we must accept the verdict of the Vedic literatures.
There are two types of devotees—the sädhaka, who is preparing for perfection, and the siddha, who is already perfect. As far as those who are already perfect are concerned, Lord Kåñëa says in the Bhagavad-gétä (4.9), tyaktvä dehaà punar janma naiti mäm eti so ’rjuna: “After giving up this material body, such a devotee comes to Me.” After leaving the material body, the perfect devotee takes birth from the womb of a gopé on a planet where Kåñëa’s pastimes are going on. This may be in this universe or another universe. This statement is found in the Ujjvala-nélamaëi, which is commented upon by Viçvanätha Cakravarté Öhäkura. When a devotee becomes perfect, he is transferred to the universe where Kåñëa’s pastimes are taking place. Kåñëa’s eternal associates go wherever Kåñëa manifests His pastimes. As stated before, first the father and mother of Kåñëa appear, then the other associates. Quitting his material body, the perfect devotee also goes to associate with Kåñëa and His other associates. (Srila AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 20:397. purport)