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Radha, Krishna’s beloved, is known by many names. Out of their informal and intimate affection, Krishna bhaktas often address Radhika as ‘Barsanevaali’, ‘one who hails from Barsana’. She is also ‘Vrandavaneshwari’, the controller of Vrindavan’.
In Anant Samhita, there is an interesting account of a place which was personally created by Radhika. Shiva narrates this Divine lila to his eternal consort Parvati, and tells her all about the appearance of this place. Once, when Krishna was enjoying his time with Viraja-gopi in beautiful Vrindavana, the moon-faced, doe-eyed Radhika rushed to the place where Krishna was.
Seeing Radhika coming, Krishna at once disappeared and Viraja transformed herself into a river. Although she heard that Krishna was with Viraja, when Radha went there she did not see Krishna with Viraja. Radhika then entered the area between the Ganga and Yamuna rivers with her friends. There, Krishna’s beautiful lover created a transcendental abode filled with vines, trees, and bumblebees, deers and does, flowers and tulsi groves – a heavenly abode where the Ganga and Yamuna became like a moat, where, at her command, the waters and shores shone with great splendour, where springtime and Kamadeva eternally shine and where birds eternally sing the auspicious sounds “O Krishna!”
There, the beautifully adorned Radhika began to play sweet music on a flute and charmed the heart of Govinda. An enchanted Krishna appeared there and said to her, “O beloved, could anyone be as dear to me as you are? I will never leave you, not even for a single moment. I will manifest a new form here and enjoy new pastimes with you. My devotees will eternally proclaim that this place is a new Vrindavana, the Navadvipa. By my order all holy places reside here. O girl with the beautiful face, I will eternally stay with you here in this transcendental place that you have created to please me.”
Radha’s beloved Krishna became one with Radha. In that form he stays in that place eternally. It was a merger of the dark-complexioned Krishna and light-skinned Radha. Their friend Lalita left her form of a beautiful girl and, to serve them, accepted a male form full of love for Lord Gaura. When Visakha and other gopis saw Lalita transformed in this way, they at once accepted male forms. Then there was a great sound of “Jaya Gaura-Hari!” Devotees were calling Radha’s lover Gaura-Hari. Radhika is fair (gaura) and Krishna is dark (hari). The merger rendered them Gaura-Hari. In Navadvipa, Krishna takes into his heart Radha, who is as graceful as a regal elephant, and he is happy to please her there.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 1486, appeared in Navadvipa and inaugurated the Sankirtana Movement to inundate the world with the auspicious sound vibrations of the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. At Mayapur, Navadvipa is also the world headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. When the founder-acharya of ISKCON, Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was in Mayapur, Navadvipa, he is said to have exclaimed, “O, Mayapur! Living and dying is same in Mayapur!”
Today, September 17, is celebrated as Radha Ashtami, the day of the auspicious appearance of Srimati Radhika. This is an apt occasion to meditate on Navadvipa, where she eternally resides, with Krishna always in her heart and mind. Every year, millions of pilgrims throng Navadvipa to experience the bliss that transformed their beloved Barsanevaali.