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History in the scriptures

Thakurjee ShreeKrishn’s leela bhoomi Braj is like Krishn’s body and Shree Vrindavan is like His heart, where Thakurjee even today plays and does leelas. According to Shreemad Bhagwad Krishn has said: “I do not leave Vrindavan for even a moment’’.

Vrindavan is famous as God played Raas leelas with the gopis. In today’s times there are many places which have been proclaimed as the Raas sthali; but with the proof available, Banshivat is the only place which is mentioned in many scriptures and holy books and history by various saints.

Banshivat is Thakurjee’s most loved Raas leela sthal.

“Brindavan so van nahi, Nandgaon so gaon

Banshivat so vat nahin, Shree Krishn naam so naam”.

‘Gopika shat kati bhi Raas leela vibhu sith

Banshi Rav sama keerm Banshivat namo stute”.

“Brindavane vate banshi, praoage maoarath:|

Gayanya akshay khyat, kalpastu Purushottume||

Nishkumbh: khal lankaya, eategha panch gha vat:|

Eaitesu vat mulesu, sada nivsati makhav”|

Shree Krishn Played His flute often under this Vat tree.

Banshi means the flute; Vat means the Banyan tree. Banshivat is the spot where the Divine couple spent a lot of time.

ShreeKrishn played the famously divine Maha Raas here on the Sharad Purnima night.

This is the spot where many famous loving divine leelas of Radha and Shyam along with the gopis took place. Some of the main reasons spoken about in the olden scriptures as reasons for playing the Leela of Maha Raas, are  fulfilling the many commitments made to various bhakts in the many different avatars by Him; and granting of anand and bliss to His many rasik bhakts.

Shree Krishn’s victory over Kaam Dev at this place, is another reason Banshivat is famous for.

This katha goes as follows;

According to Shreemad Bhagvad, once Kaamdev took hold of all humans, devtaas, rishi muni, char achar, from all the three loks. Because of his victory over all, Kaamdev was overcome with pride and became egoistic in his victory. On his way he met Narad Muni and challenged him,”Hey Narad Muni will you fight with me, its been a very long time I have not found anyone to fight with, looking at you I have this strong urge to fight, so please enter in war with me and fulfill my desire”.

Naradji replied, “Kaam Dev, I am but a sadhu, I am totally engrossed in Krishn bhakti I only talk and listen to Krishn leela, how will I fight”?

But Kaam Dev mad in his ego would not listen,”If you cannot wage a war with me tell me of one who can”.Naradji replied, “Okay I agree with this. In Vrindavan there is a child by the name of Krishn who is perfectly suited to fight you; you go to Vrindavan and fight with this child, He will fulfill your desire”. Kaam Dev replied, “Hey Muni, my force and power is so strong, Dev Daanav Rishi Muni even Brahmaji Himself cannot fight me, none have been able to defeat me; you talk about a human and that too a child; how do you think he is fit to fight me?”

Narad replied, “Have trust in my words, in the entire Brahmand if there is any one who can face you it is Krishn; if you defeat Him you will become unconquerable”.

Kaam Dev accepted this, bowed to Naradji and came down to Vrindavan looking for ShreeKrishn.

During this time Krishn was at Banshivat playing His Bansuri under the Vat tree. “Child what is your name”, asked Kaam Dev.

“Krishn”, Thakurjee replied. Then I have reached the right place, Kaam Dev thought; “Krishn come fight with me”, he told Him.

Thakurjee replied, “War is always fought between equals; here I am an eleven year old child, you are an adult, war is not appropriate, the world will also not accept this”.

“Stop confusing me with your words, if Narad muni has sent me here you are the only one who can fight me, so accept my challenge and agree for a fight”, Kaam Dev replied.

“Okay” said Thakurjee, “If you do not agree then I am ready. War can be fought in two ways, either Kila yudh’or Maidan yudh, choose what you want”.

“You first explain what each one means” said Kaam Dev.

Thakurjee explained,

'Kila yudh’ will happen when I am with Radha in Nikunj van; then you can aim all your five arrows at me, if my heart and mind wavers it will be your victory; if not you lose.

‘Maidan yudh’ will take place on Sharad Poornima night when I will play Maharaas with innumerable gopis, right here at Banshivat. Here also you can aim all your five arrows at me; if you are able to waver my mind and heart you win, if not you lose”

Here Kaam Dev thinks that yogis in total Samadhi states, rishis in deep tapasaya could not defeat his arrows; how will a mere child surrounded by many gopis be able to defeat him; so he chose the Sharad Poornima night. “I agree to the maidan yudh, I will now meet you here on the Sharad Poornima night”, so saying Kaam Dev disappeared.

Maha Raas on Sharad Purnima

Kaatiyayani mahamaaye: maha Yogadheshwari:

Nand Gop sutah devi pati men kuru te namah:

Since the vastra haran leela, where Thakurjee stole the gopis clothes; all Brajbalas accepted Him as their Lord. All were in total devotion and love with God and wished to be with Him; now they began to worship Ma Kaatiyani.

After taking their snan in the sacred Yamunaji, during the month of Kartik they prayed to Her: Hey Ma, please let son of Nand be our husband.

Mata Kaatiyani heard their prayers, gave them darshan and said that on the Sharad Poornima night Thakurjee will fulfill all their desires. (Shreemad Bhagvad).

Finally the much awaited night in Ashwin Maas in the Sharad ritu arrived.

It is Sharad Poornima and it was a fragrant night. Without season bela, chameli, mallika etc fragrant flowers appeared and spread their scent all across Vrindavan. The Sharad bela felt like the Basant bela.

Chandradev spread its cool kiran lalima in all five directions. It looked as if the moon had decorated all directions in roli and kesar.. this night the lalima is akhand; it is poornima night, the entire van is filled with her komal loving, blessed rays and prakash.

Yogmaya was here in Thakurjee’s sewa; whatever bhao He developed in His heart, Yogmaya fulfilled with Her powers right here at Banshivat.

In this sumdhur bela, golden and beautiful, Thakurjee ShreeKrishn began playing His Bansuri below the Vat tree. His Bansuri spread music which gave bliss to all gopis and the total Brahmand; all became totally immersed in the magical divine moment. The bansuri vandan of this moment was one which increased devotion and bhao for Him and the longing to be with Him.

Even before this divine night Krishn had taken over the hearts and mind of all gopis; tonight He took control of their fear, sankoch, dharya, maryada etc. Hearing the magical call of Krishn’s flute today none could stop themselves; all ran towards the sound where Thakurjee waited for them.

On this night, Lord Krishna invited his faithful devotees, the Gopis of Vrindavan, to play the Maha Raas with him.

When they left their homes and arrived in Vrindavan, Shree Krishn welcomed them. Yet to further test their love for Him, he said: 'Women of character such as you, should not leave home to meet another man in the middle of the night!'

These words seared the Gopis' hearts. In extreme grief, they refused to move back and go home.

Pleased with such immense love for him, ShreeKrishn began the Maha Raas, by assuming as many Forms as there were Gopis.

At this point, the gopis became full of pride thinking that no ones devotion is higher than us, that is why the Lord favored us. Instead of accepting the Maha Raas as the Lord's grace and kripa, their ego disturbed their devotion. At this Krishn instantly vanished from the Raas mandal, to teach them a lesson in humility.

Now filled with remorse, the Gopis repented. Recalling Shree Krishn's divine leelas, they lamented their pangs of separation, and sang a song which came to be known as 'Viraha Geet':

Vastra haran leela – painting on the mandir walls

'Jayati te-dhikam janmanaa vrajaha ….. (Shrimad Bhagvat 10/31/1)

Describing this leela in the Bhagvat (10/30/25), Shukdevji narrates to Raja Parikshit:

'O Parikshit! Of all nights, that night of Sharad Punam became the most resplendent. With the Gopis, Shree Krishn roamed the banks of the Yamunaji, as if imprisoning everyone in his leela.

This katha in the Shreemad Bhagvad continues how the Gopis begged Krishn and were sorrowful about their egoistic behaviour. Krishn had disappeared with Radha and when She also experienced pride and ego, Krishn disappeared from Her side also.

Finally it is all sorted out and the Maha raas begins.

In the Shreemad Bhagvad; 10th Canto-chapter 25-31 is devoted to this play of Krishn.

A small temple of Gopeshwar is also on one corner of the main court, inside the Banshivat parisar.

This is the varta about why this Shiv mandir is here:

When the sacred Maha Raas began, while in deep meditation on Kailash Parvat, Lord Shiva heard the mesmerizing dhwani of Krishn playing His divine flute. He told Parvati He was going to Prathvi lok to be a part of this divine happening.

He followed that transcendental sound until He came to Vrindavan, where ShreeKrishn was getting ready to start the Maha raas with His gopis.

Desiring intensely to join the Maha raas, when He came to the entrance of the raas-sthali, He was stopped by Yogamaya, who told him, "Only gopis can enter here, no males except Thakurjee can be here at this time."

Being a male He first, was requested to take the form of a gopi, which only Shree Yamunajee would be able to grant Him.

After bathing in the Yamunaji, Lord Shiva emerged from the river with the form of a beautiful Gopi.

Lord Shiva in His "Gopi Form" stood at one corner of the Raas sthali. Lord Shiva stood there and prayed to Shree Radha Krishn for getting prem-bhakti.

Then the raas started. Shree Krishn danced with all the gopis. He also danced with Lord Shiva who was disguised as a gopi.

As He entered the place, Krishn recognized Him instantly – hence gave Him the name of Gopeshwar. The story continues how Radha became angry; she accused Krishn of calling a new gopi by the name of Gopeshwar, which means – the Lord of gopis. All these years He had never ever called Radha by this name. Then Shyam had to explain the details to Her. “This is no ordinary gopi. He is Lord Shiv and He has come all the way to see the Maharaas leela with a pure and sattvik gopi bhao.

Since then, in His respect a mandir showing Shivji in the Gopi Form is there.

Author : Abha Shahra Shyama

Gopeshwar mandir

Shivji converted Himself to a gopi when trying to enter the raas leela

Lord Shiv in Gopi Form