Welcome to Shri Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan
Swami Ramkrishna paramhans visit to Vrindavan
Nidhivan , the location of appearance of Shri Banke Bihari, is a serene place. It has dense plantation of Ban Tulsi (a kind of Basil, the wild variety) with its branches bowing down to ground as if they want to touch the ground imprinted with tender feet of the divine couple Priya-Priyatam. The panorama is particularly charming during the rainy season as the freshly washed and newly erupted tender leaves seem to invite the visitor to shelter from the scorching heat of intense Sun outside. Once a visitor enters the environs of Nidhivan, he feels relaxed bodily as well as spiritually. Such is the grace of Swami Haridas!
A devotee from foreign land was tensely roaming around the place one day. It was so surprising to me, how a devotee can remain restless even at this place? He was walking to and fro in front of the place of Bihariji’s appearance (Prakatya Sthal) as if looking for some specific thing or place. On enquiring, he revealed that he was a British citizen. Attracted by the spirituality of India and particularly influenced by tradition established by Swami Vivekanand, he joined Shri Ram Krishna Math. Presently, he was on a pilgrimage and was going to all places visited by Swami Ram Krishna Paramhans. He actually wanted to pay obeisance at Prakatya Sthal, but was not able to locate it. I told him that the small marble pedestal (shaped as a throne) in front of him was the Prakatya Sthal of Bihariji. He sat down in deep meditative posture, but now I became restless in place of him, because I wanted to know urgently if Sri Ram Krishna Paramhans had visited the place what was his experience? What exactly he saw? Whom did he actually interact with? What did they talk about?
As he came out of the meditative spell, the devotee attended to my queries. Taking out a book from his satchel, he said, “See, Ram Krishna Dev did not only come here, he was so possessed that he decided to stay here only and was not willing to go back to Dakshineswar. This was because of a tide in his devotion to Maa (Matribhakti) that he had several advanced spiritual experiences here.” He continued leafing through the book and pointing to several passages. I asked, “Is it mentioned here that he had Darshan of Shri Bihariji?”, “Yes, it is here! See, ‘Shri Ram Krishna Dev visited several temples in Vrindavan. As he entered Sri Bankey Bihari Temple he felt his consciousness turning around and undergoing pleasing outworldly experiences. Sri Bankey Bihariji appeared to him in person!’ ”, said the devotee reading the book. He further read, “Ram Krishna Dev felt as if Sri Bankey Bihariji is inviting him to come close. He was completely overwhelmed by the feeling and ran to embrace Sri Bihariji, as everybody looked upon.” How astonishing was the scene! Paramhans was totally possessed by divinity, his consciousness merging with the universal consciousness and the entire atmosphere charged with high waves of celestial energy and eternal bliss!
“What exactly do you want to explore and see then?” I softly asked. “Near this place, the place of appearance of Sri Banke Bihariji, Thakur Moshay (As Shri Ram Krishna Dev is popularly referred to in the sect) had an interview with Lalitaji. They had a spiritual meeting.” Said the devotee.
During his visit to the temple when he came face to face with Sh Bankey Bihariji, Ramkrishna was completely taken over by the charm of Lord, ran towards him, but fell down. It is believed that Bihariji appeared to him in person and extended his arms to embrace him. Paramhans, in a state of trance could not reach but, true to his kind nature, Bihariji rushed forward, embraced him and he actually fell in the arms of Bihariji. What transpired between the supreme Lord and his unique devotee Paramhans is only a matter of guess. Probably the Lord directed him to meet Lalita in Nidhivan. It is worthwhile to mention here that Lalita occupies an exclusive position in Nitya Raas Mandal and facilitated the entry of Lord Shiva to Raas in Dwapar Yug. We interpret it that the Lord desired Paramhans to experience the Eternal Supreme Bliss and who can be a better Guru for that than Lalita.
On gaining consciousness, Shree Ram Krishna came to Nidhivan. He meditated at the Prakatya Sthal. He met a Vaishnav Sadhvi by the name of Ganga Mata or Ganga Ma. The year of these incidents is 1868 A.D. (The year and name are given on the official site of Belur Math). In the contemporary literature of Brij and Vrindavan, we do not find the details of Sadhvi Ganga Ma. Then who was she? Where did she live? Was she living in Nidhivan? NOT POSSIBLE.
As we know, even today, no living being can stay in Nidhivan overnight. Even the birds who chirp around, morning till evening, the monkeys and their naughty young ones, who swing from one branch to other keeping Nidhivan abuzz and at times scaring away the visitors, also leave Nidhivan at the time of dusk. They all take shelter in nearby trees and rooftops as if guided by some miraculous power. It is beyond normal human capability to stay in Nidhivan overnight.
The only understandable explanation of this meeting is that Ganga Ma was no other than Sh Lalita or Swami Haridas who appeared to Paramhans in a different form. The place of meeting is also important. This place, the Prakatya Sthal, is considered to be the gateway of Nitya Raas Mandal. This is the same place where Swami Haridas meditated regularly. The Nikunja Darshan by disciples of Swami Haridas, in the form of fountains of great light, also occurred here. And finally the celestial pair, the charming Lord Shyama-Shyam appeared in person at this place only. The lord kindly granted an image of himself, Sh Bankey Bihariji, to Swami Haridas. Swamiji installed the image there itself, in Nikunj, and worshipped till a temple was constructed a little distance away.
So, Sh Lalita/Swami Haridas appeared in person to Paramhans in a suitable disguise. We do not know the contents of discourse but can easily understand that Paramhans was bodily taken to Nitya Raas Mandal. The rarest of rare achievement for a mortal being, befitting to status of a devotee like him.
As the foreign devotee tells from the book, Paramhans did not want to go back to Dakshineswar, but was persuaded by Ganga Ma to do so, as he had a long agenda to be accomplished there.
Original Script (hindi): Dr. Sharan Bihari Goswami
Translation: Shri R.K. Goswami
Book under reference: Ram Krishna Leela (Part-II)