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Sri Radha Krishna's Jhulan Yatra

 

Om Vishnupad 108 Tridandi Swami Sri Srimat Bhakti Sravan Tirtha Goswami Maharaj ki Jai !!

Jhulan Yatra, or the swing festival, is observed in the Shravan month and begins on the Pavitra Ekadasi and is generally observed for 5 days until Sravan Purnima or Balaram Purnima. In 2016, Jhulan Yatra begins on August 14 and ends on August 18, although different temples in Braja may observe it for a shorter or longer duration.

In some temples, the Jhulan Yatra festival is observed only for a day. In other temples, it is celebrated on all five days from Ekadashi to Poornima.

These festivals are not mere rituals, as they all have practical service functionality to invoke loving servitude of the devotees for the Lord. Sri Krishna is the Supreme Enjoyer and He organizes many situations in which He can incorporate us, His separated parts and parcels into His loving service which is our natural condition in the spiritual realm.

Over the past few months, the weather changed from Vasant Panchami (Spring) where everyone dresses in yellow and goes to the fields, performs fertility rites, and plants new crops, etc., to Dol Purnima where scented powders and flowers are thrown on the body of the Lord playfully, and singing and dancing goes on for His pleasure.

As the temperature rises in summer, the Chandan Yatra is performed, where, from the Akshaya Tritiya for a period of 21 days, the body of the Lord is anointed with a cooling paste of scented sandalwood mixed with camphor, musk, saffron.

However, just to be anointed with something cooling is not enough. The Snan Purnima in the month of Jyestha is the ceremonial bathing of the Lord with cool scented water, milk, yoghurt etc.

Although it has become especially festive in Jagannath Puri, the actual event originates in Vrindavan with the devotees bathing Krishna and Balaram for their pleasure and then taking bath themselves too.

At this time there is no other relief than to bathe in some kind of cool pleasant water. All the temples of Vrindavan follow this festival, and many devotees follow a trail of pilgrimage from one temple to the next from early morning to late evening.

The next major interactive event is Rath Yatra where the devotees symbolically take Lord Krishna (Jagannath) His brother Balaram and Subhadra devi on chariots, with beautiful flapping canopies, back to rural Vrindavan.

After this comes the Jhulan Yatra festival. Traditionally many of the deities of the Lord wear various clothing with green in it over this period until the Balaram Purnima.

The monsoon is very humid, and the temperature is still high despite plenty of rain. The joy at this time is to find a cool breeze, as the air is heavy with the humidity of the rains. So the devotees arrange for the pleasure and satisfaction of Krishna and Srimati Radharani by placing them on a swing (Jhulan) and creating their own breeze from the motion.

It is a most pleasing and satisfying festival, with the swings often highly decorated with forest creepers, jasmine (malati) that has newly blossomed in the season, and streamers of garlands. Sometimes they use a fine spray of rose water and direct it toward the Divine Couple on the swing.

Meditation

Of all the festivals in Vrindavan, Lord Krishna’s favourite is the Jhulan Yatra. During this season, Srimati Radharani and Krishna meet in the sylvan woods of Vrindavan, where the sakhis have prepared a gorgeous flower-bedecked jhula hanging from the high branches of a tall kadamba tree. The long golden ropes are entwined with jasmine and madhavi creepers and various fragrant flowers.

Shyamsundar pulls Radharani onto the swing next to him or sometimes He jumps on to the swing unexpectedly causing her to start in surprise. The sakhis toss flowers on the Divine Couple and offer aarti to Them. They serve sweet scented paan, garlands and spray cool rose-water.

Two manjaris then step back and gently start to push the swing. The celestial goddesses behold the glorious Jhulan Yatra of Sri Radha Govinda and praise their own good fortune. They unobtrusively contribute to the festival by reverently showering heavenly flowers on the Youthful Couple.

The clouds shower a fine spray of cool misty rain on the forest. For the pleasure of Sri Radha Madhava, the sakhis sing sweet jhulan songs accompanied by musical instruments.

Then Krishna, the King of Pranksters, starts swinging faster and faster. The swing goes so high that Radhika’s back would touch the leaves high on the branches of the tall kadamba. Becoming afraid, Radha would implore Krishna to slow down. The sakhis also shout for Him to stop.

He of course, pretends not to hear them and swings even faster and higher. Radhika’s long braid loosens and Her veil flies off.  Fearing that her ghagra might fly up She tries to hold it tightly between her legs. Krishna laughs heartily at Radha’s predicament.

He then increases the speed, and Radha her eyes anxious with fear, lets go of the tope and clings to Him tightly. This is, of course, exactly what He wants. And He continues swinging faster, furiously steering the swing with His feet.

The union of Sri Radha Madhava’s divine bodies on the swing looks like a brilliant flash of lightning in a dark rain cloud.

Finally, Krishna having realized His objective, slows down and allows the sakhis to bring the swing to a halt.

Then Srimati Radharani slides off the swing and ‘complains’ to her sakhis how Krishna harassed and teased Her.

Then Radhika sits Lalita, the leader of the eight sakhis, next to Krishna and pushes the swing Herself while singing divinely. Krishna behaves the same way with Lalita as He did with Radha. He repeats the performance with Vishakha and the other main gopis.

Then Sri Krishna expands Himself in many forms to swing on the countless swings along with two sakhis on either side. Each gopi thinks that Krishna was sitting with her alone.

After this, Vrinda devi leads the Divine Couple to a gorgeously decorated swing shaped like a big open lotus.  The centre seat, which forms the pericarp of the lotus, is strewn with the softest stemless flowers and decorated with flower cushions.

Krishna sits there with His left arm around Radhika’s shoulder. The ashta-sakhis sit on the eight surrounding petals of the Lotus Swing and the sixteen assistant sakhis seat themselves on the outer sixteen petals.

Vrinda devi then offers cool paanaka drink and tasty dates, jamun, grapes and other fruits to Radha Madhava. The sakhis then eat Their remnants.

After this refreshment, Vrinda and Nandimukhi then gently push the swing back and forth. Everyone on the Lotus Swing experiences transcendental happiness.

In this way, Krishna uses the swing pastime to conquer the sakhis and enjoy the jewels of their kisses and embraces.


Sri Radha Govinda ki Jai !!

Jhulan Yatra mahotsava ki Jai !!


Jai Jai Sri Radhey !!