The Solar Eclipse at Kurukshetra  

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

(Excepted from Sri Sajjana Toshani 1928)

The observance of bathing in the sacred pool of Shyamanta Panchak in Kurukshetra on the occasion of the Solar Eclipse is an ancient pan-Indian practice. It rests on a well-known legend. The Brahma Sarovar (lake) was formed by the blood of warriors who were exterminated, for their complete corruption and moral degradation, by Lord Parashurama one of the secondary manifestations of Shri Hari Vishnu. For this reason the pool possesses the quality of freeing the bathers from all negative reactions. It is not a question of astronomical explanation of the occurrence of the solar eclipse, which changes with the growing empirical knowledge of man. It is invested by the will of God declared in the Shastras in defiance of all worldly logic, with efficacy to free man from sin.

Periodical visits to the holy tirthas have their communal value in the non-sectarian sense as directing the mind to great personalities of the past and providing thereby a bond of fellowship with those who once trod the same path of pious observances. They further serve to keep alive our faith in the holy scriptures.

The Srimad Bhagavatam has an account of the meeting between the denizens of Dwaraka and those of Braja on the plains of Kurukshetra whither Sri Krishna and the Yadavas had repaired for the purpose of ablution in the holy pool of Shymanta Panchak on the occasion of a solar eclipse.

This meeting with Sri Krishna after long separation for which the cowherds and the damsels of Braja had longed for intensely, when it actually took place, fell short of their expectation. They sorely missed at Kurukshetra the atmosphere of pure, spontaneous and unconventional love found in Sri Vrindavan.

Kurukshetra appeared to them in spite of the Yadavas as a dreary waste where self-centered formality masqueraded as loving service under the cover of pomp and magnificence. The Brijvasis felt that Sri Krishna, who accepts no service except what is spontaneously offered by the perfectly pure and loving heart, free from all taint of self-seeking, was left really unserved in the midst of all that show of devotion. This pained the cowherds and milkmaids of Braja who knew Krishna’s heart.

The denizens of Braja went to Kurukshetra on the occasion of a solar eclipse ostensively for bathing in the holy pool of Shyamanta Panchak but in reality to have a glimpse of Sri Krishna. The pure devotees of Braja set no value on any religious gain for themselves in this world or the next. They had no other thought than to please Sri Krishna. The people of Dwaraka who accompanied Sri Krishna on that occasion to Kurukshetra bathed in the holy pool with the prayer that they may thereby be enabled to attain to devotion for Sri Krishna.

But the conventional love of the people of Dwaraka and the reverential homage paid to Sri Krishna by the assembled people from all parts of India did not appeal to the taste of the denizens of Braja. The formal atmosphere of Kurukshetra with all its pomp and protestation was lacking in the essentials of the highest form of service, viz. freedom, spontaneity and exclusive love which characterized the devotion of the Braja gopis.

Such devotion can only be properly practiced in the absolutely pure and selfless atmosphere of Sri Vrindavan. The Braja gopis, therefore, wanted to take Sri Krishna back to Sri Vrindavan where alone He is properly served. Sri Krishna Who is All-love and All-served does not accept anything short of this highest service that can be rendered only by the perfectly pure heart which is found only on the plane of the Absolute.

This episode was adopted by Sri Chaitanyadeva as the basis of His practice and teaching. His condition as the ideal devotee was that of the gopis of Vrindavan pained at meeting Sri Krishna surrounded by the pompous show of worship at Kurukshetra. The jiva-soul which by its constitution can be satisfied only by whole-hearted dedication to Krishna finds itself constantly thwarted by the barriers and misunderstandings of this world. Krishna is not served by the physical body and materialistic mind. He can be consciously served only in the spirit.

In the spirit He is served in two ways viz. (1) directly or by the method of union and (2) indirectly or the method of separation. The meeting at Kurukshetra made possible a third dimension which is still higher than the two former viz.the realization of separation in union. So even while the gopis met with Krishna in a solitary place in Kurukshetra but it was not the same. They felt intense pain even in that reunion.

Srila Rupa Goswami captures this sentiment in his Padyavali:

priyah so’yam krishnah sahacari kurukshetra-militas
tathaham sa radha tad idam ubhayoh sangama-sukham
tathapy antah-khelan-madhura-murali-païcama-jushe
mano me kalindi-pulina-vipinaya sprihayati

    Ah friend! This is the same beloved Krishna
    meeting me here in Kurukshetra;
    and I am the same Radha,
    and both of us are feeling the joy of union.
    Even so, my mind wishes for the wooded
    banks of the Yamuna
    where the fifth note of his flute
    reverberated sweetly within my heart.
    (Padyavali, 383)

Sri Chaitanyadeva taught and practiced the religion of love and by His practice and teaching made it comprehensible to fallen souls like ourselves. It is not possible to understand the eternal true religion unless and until we choose really to listen to His voice. The practice and teaching of Sri Chaitanyadeva reveal to our blinded understanding the real meaning of the scriptures and the theistic philosophy propounded by Sri Vedavyasa rishi in the Mahabharata, the Geeta and Srimad Bhagavatam.

The life of Sri Chaitanya is the living commentary of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Those who think that the stream of revelation ever ceases to flow are sadly mistaken. The jiva-soul is the eternal servant of Krishna. By its very constitution it can never be master on its own account. Those who refuse to serve Him voluntarily are deluded into the belief that this world has been created by Krishna for their enjoyment. In the attempt to lord over the universe they are unconsciously but pitilessly driven into the depths of darkness and negativity.

Sri Krishna is always present everywhere. Those who want really to serve Him can never lose sight of Him. But the mere pretence of service is never acceptable to Him. In order really to serve Him it is necessary to submit to be enlightened by Him. This is the path of revelation. Sri Vyasadev explains this method in his immortal works.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in our age practiced the religion of loving service revealed to Sri Vyasadeva and unambiguously recorded by him in the Srimad Bhagavatam. Even the unenlightened can follow Sri Chaitanyadeva without the chance of missing the real significance of the inspired words of Sri Vyasadeva. The teachings of Sri Chaitanyadeva and His own practice have been faithfully and minutely recorded for our benefit by some of His most eminent associates and followers.

Sri Chaitanya teaches us that Krishna can only be worshipped in this world if we eschew all desire of our own happiness and never try with the physical body and worldly mind to imitate the pastimes of the Braja gopis. The pastimes of Sri Vrindavan can only be properly realized in the form of pure spiritual longing for union with the Supreme Soul Sri Krishna Who is All-love, All-sacredness.

Jai Guru !!

Jai Jai Shri Radhey !!