It was the last week of February of 1999 when after a dandavat parikrama
(beginning and ending at Janava Ghata) of Radhakunda and Shyamakunda when
the Lords' manifested in a most personal way. Preaching work in the west
had inspired a desire for increased spiritual backing and a more personal
relationship with the Lord, especially while in His Dhama. Thoughts and
attraction had always been there for the worship of Giriraja, but the echoes
of warnings of how the Lord (Govardhana Silas) never likes to leave Vrindaban
and the histories of those who had done so without being consistent with
the resonsibilities of such a life time commitment, our attitude was to
not force a situation that was ‘not sanctioned’.
However, Krsna can express His will… especially through His Dhama devotees. The beauty of visiting the Dhama is how Krsna will hint at and reveal His desires through different mediums. Meeting such veterans as Indradumnya Swami at Krsna Balarama temple saying “If you want Him, He will come to you” and Ram Raya dasa “Hey, this Giriraja puja have been the happiest years of my life” and Aindra dasa “Giriraja worship truly opens the doors of Bhakti ”…our mood changed.
One week after the dandavat parikrama (which is certainly the most effective way to invoke the mercy of the Dhama and be given access to the proper mood of prayer) at Janava Ghata, where Janava devi would take darshan of Radha Kunda, we found a flat but rounded Radha sila on the ledge net to the altar which had a golden complexion was just lying in the open. This was certainly an unplanned darshan and without knowing why we placed our hand behind the wall into the dirt and found a larger sila who was red and gold colored, thicker and wonderfully shaped like a hill with a round top which evened out to a balanced base. On the backside of every Govardhana Sila, which is genarally curved, a lila is etched on the sila (which we later found out). Genarally forms of Radha-Krsna, the gopis, gopas, cows, kadamba trees, etc., can be found. Behind the Radha Sila was a clear outline of Radha-Krsna embracing and on the Shyama Sila, Radha could be seen standing to Krsna’s left with her hands in pranams, a golden kadamba tree between Them and lines representing Visakha and Lalita and even a clearly defined monkey face on one of the corners.
Srila Vishvanatha Chakravarti Thakur in His Sri Vriti Chintamani explains how Giriraja takes different forms as either Radha, Shyamasundhara or Balarama. This is a well understood reality amongst the residents of Vrindavan, but is not a well known fact in the west.
We felt it best to bring two silas to a local Brajavasi friend of mine and ask him if he would begin the worship and then give Them to me. This exchange was done at the ‘meeting place’ between Radha Kunda and Shyama Kunda where around 40 local brajavasis participated in the event. Still within our mind we kept asking for more signs that the Lord was allowing Himself to be taken out of the Dhama and to what looked to us as another confirmation of His will was when my friend ordered me to take the dust from the feet of all the observing brajavasis...everyone consented…another sign of approval coming through the devotees. It seems that Krsna had suddenly jumped into our life with a redefining presence that “Alright you have come this far so here I am…now what will you do”. The Lord had manifested personally to increase our devotion to Him. In the beginning there was the stage of a ‘new relationship’ and resposibilities but soon the more natural attraction of friendship and service followed. A new sense of mutual interdependence developed in time.
The vaishnava siddhanta emphasizes the importance of attraction to spirtual form in order to give up the attraction to the material form. This worship of the Deity form invites us see His person within the other facets of our service.
The following year of service to Giriraja became an inclusive affair, involving as many devotees as possible in the seva, so that everyone could bathe in Their Mercy. The balance of puja and preaching work has resulted with many persons lives changed in their relationship to Giriraja. And anyone who has crossed the line in this worship will notice that no one seems to be able to worship one or two silas, but They attract each other. And soon enough one will notice that many Forms may come to visit and stay.
At least from my experience the next guest(s) that came
into my life was the Lord in His form as the Shalagrama Sila, from the
Gandaki river in Nepal. With repeated prayers and visits to the holy places
and by the mercy of the devotees the Lord will manifest in many numerous
ways and personages. Our last trip to Vrindaban in Febuary of 2000, 3 Girirajas
and 32 Shalagramas came forward. This was the beginning to a very
exciting year. For myself our chanting and sila worship has become
the hub of our service and what happens beyond our doors becomes the complimentary
fun. This worship has become the foundation to our preaching endeavors
and the many who have also done this can appreciate a unique momentum and
sense of progress in these arenas. The balance of such bhagavat viddhi
and pancartrika viddhi results in a healthy formula of service and makes
sense to all concerned.
As there is a great seriousness in the worship of the sila form of the Lord, not just anyone should do, but if the vaishnavas direct, inspire and sanction with one wanting to experience this special world, then how can one refuse the Lord as He approaches to lend His helping hand…
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