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A JOURNEY TO BARSANA

by Dr. Brijesh Kumar

It was 29th January 2001 when Brij and his brother-in-law, Hitendra went to Delhi for some work. Having finished the same, they looked at each other with mischievous eyes as if wanting to do some adventure, and they sprung up to drive towards Mathura - Brindavan on the National Highway 2 connecting New Delhi, the capital city of India and Bombay about 1000 miles away. Mathura town is about 120 kilometers from Delhi on this highway. This is one of the best roads you will find in India. Brij and Hitendra are both householders and seekers.

While driving this morning from Aligarh to Delhi, Brij has been reading aloud the book "Atit Yatra" authored by a great Kriya Yogi, Swami Jnanananda, who now lives in Mussourie, the Himalayan town in the northern state of India, Uttar Pradesh. 'Atit Yatra' which means 'A Journey in the Past', is a lucid autobiography of a great saint who came to India in 1952 from Switzerland as a Kriya student, and roamed around this vast spiritual land as a Sadhu. He was later given Diksha and Sanyaas by his Guru, Swami Atmananda Giri, the childhood friend of Swami Yogananda Giri, in the tradition of the Dasnami. During his journey in the past, Swamiji met several spiritual stalwarts of India, such as, Swami Sivananda and Sw. Chidananda of Divine Life Society, Rishikesh, Swami Krishnanada of Haridwar, Sw Hanuman Prasad Poddar of Geeta Bhawan, Rishikesh, Shri Sw Tapovan Maharaj and Sw. Bhumananda of Vashishta Cave, Sw Brahmananda, Sw Shraddhananda of YSS, Bapuji of Gujarat, , Sripad Babaji of Brindavan, and numerous other saints during his sojourns as wandering Sadhu in the forests of India. He met several saints in the high altitude Himalayas, who have indicated to him where Babaji still lives.

Sw Jnananandaji spent a good time with the child saint of Brindavan, Sripada Babaji. He used to call him 'Chote Babaji', the little saint. Swamiji roamed around the forests of Madhya Pradesh in Central India with Chote Babaji. While Brij was reading the text from Atit Yatra, Hitendra was driving. Both were thrilled by the account of Sripad Babaji as both of them had met this saint in Brindavan before his Mahasamadhi in December 1996. Brij was absolutely thrilled by Swamiji's account of Sripad Babaji in Radha Bhava. The land around Brindavan is called Brij Bhumi, the land of Lord Krishna. There is a place called Barsana, where Radha ji used to live, and Krishna used to come to meet her from the Nandagaon across the Yamuna river. This is a land where the Ras, the divine dance of Radha-Krishna was played.

As the car progressed through the highway towards Mathura, they saw a signboard directing towards Barsana, 17 Km from the highway towards right. Hitendra asked if they should move towards Barsana. Brij replied,'Without doubt!'. As they landed on this very rough terrain road, windows of the car were opened to breathe in the fresh air of Barsana. The fields were plush green and farmers were returning from the fields as it was about the dusk time. They had stopped reading Atit Yatra at this point and were wondering that Swamiji and Sripad Babaji once might have traveled this road on feet to go to Barsana. Till three kilometers away, the hills of Barsana were not seen. They were wondering if they are in right direction. Suddenly, the hills appeared to the very great excitement of both, and they soon reached the foothills. There was no difficulty in finding out the way to the top to the Sriji's Temple. This temple is devoted to Radha-Krishna and one has to climb stairs to reach this beautiful temple. Eyes of Krishna and Radha are shining bright and there is a benevolent smile on their faces. There is an open terrace in front of the temple. One can view the entire town of Barsana from here. We could see the ancient ruins of Barsana on the left hand and a valley on the right hand which once again rises towards the 'Maan Mandir' , where Radha used to wait for Krishna, as later

Sripad Babaji used to wait for Sw Jnananandaji at the same place.

After having darshanas at the Sriji's temple, both travelers asked a devotee the way to Maan Mandir. He showed them the way and they quickly moved on. The route was through a small rocky forest full of monkeys. In between came the Jaipur Mandir, built by the ruling family of Jaipur many years ago. It has a beautiful architecture. A similar temple is built at the Braj Academy, the yoga institute started by Sripad Babaji in his later years. Both travelers then reached a small temple of Radhaji, where there was a raised platform, and it was said that here Radhaji used to enjoy swings. Travelers moved on and reached at the foothills of Maan Mandir. Just before that both enjoyed the beautiful sunset from the hills. As they climbed the stairs made of rocks, they kept chanting their diksha mantras. The entire environment was vibrating with love of Radha-Krishna. Whenever one comes across another traveler on these routes, the usual greetings are "Radhe Radhe".

After climbing a short while, travelers reached the top, but found that Maan Mandir is closed, though, a sadhu informed that the deities have been taken down and now 'Thakurji' is being brought up. Both travelers by now knew that there is a saint, Ramesh Babaji living in the Maan Mandir premises. Initially Brij thought perhaps this saint is known as 'Thakurji'. Travelers enquired about the saint and they were informed that Babaji is down the hills where he will stay till late evening. Both decided to go and have darshanas of Babaji.

Soon the place where Babaji was sitting was found. The small corridor which lead to this house was full of flowers and plants. The veranda was covered with thick chicks as it was a winter season. Both travelers entered and were greeted by a devotee. They expressed that they have come to meet Babaji and they were ushered in to a lowly lit room, where Babaji was sitting on a wooden cot. There was an old lady sitting on a bed facing him. There were some other devotees either sitting at the lotus feet of Bababji or standing. Babaji looked at the boys and asked them to sit. Both did a sastanga pranam to the saint. The saint asked how they reached there. Brij explained. Saint asked,"What do you want from here?". Brij replied,"Baba, just your kind blessings!" Baba then informally asked the travelers to stay back and have food. Brij explained that they will like Babaji's permission to leave the same evening as they could drive back to Aligarh in about two hours. Baba asked them to have food and then move quickly before it is too dark. This was Baba's concern and love. Baba mentioned that he does not give any diksha and just takes care of all. He said,"If you have attained diksha, your work is finished."

Travelers accompanied a devotee of Baba, Bhayyaji, to a nearby householder's place, where they were given lovely food comprising potato curry, rotis, and sweet 'khir'. This was the first meal of the day for the travelers. Bhayyaji, then offered to drop both of them to their vehicle which was parked at the foothills. They went with him on his motorcycle. Bhayyaji informed that Babaji is living in Barsana for over forty years and he never goes out of the Brij Bhumi. Bhayyaji had even known Sripad Babaji, with whom he had once traveled to Nainital. Bhayyaji showed the way to Govardhan and Mathura. They greeted each other by "Jai Shri Radhe!". Travelers moved on again reading 'Atit Yatra' on their own journey in the past. Jai Shri Radhe!