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Nand Bhavan Gokul (Chaurasi Khamba) – House of Nanda Maharaja

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nand bhavan gokul krishna

‘Nand Bhavan’ or ‘Chaurasi Khamba’, as it is sometimes referred to, is the ancient palace of Nanda Maharaja in Gokul Mahavan (near Mathura) where Krishna, Balarama, and the cowherd community resided until Krishna was three years and four months old. It was here at Nand Bhavan in Gokul, that Vasudeva had exchanged little Krishna with the daughter (Yogamaya) of Nanda Maharaja. So Nand Bhavan is the birthplace of Yogamaya devi. It was here at this house that Krishna and Balarama began crawling on their knees, performing their innumerable childhood pastimes. It was here that Krishna had killed and delivered the demons like Putana, Sakatasura, and Trinavarta. We have previously discussed Krishna’s Ukhal Bandhan Lila or Damodar pastime which had taken place where the ‘Ukhal Bandhan ashram’ is situated presently. Krishna’s mud-eating pastimes where He had revealed the entire universe to mother Yashoda in His mouth had occurred at a place called ‘Brahmand Ghat’, situated nearby on the banks of Yamuna. Chaurasi Khamba, Ukhal Bandhan Ashram and Brahmand Ghat were once all part of Nand Bhavan or Nanda Maharaja’s ancient residence. We have extensively discussed ‘Ukhal Bandhan Ashrama’ and ‘Brahmand Ghat’ previously. In this article, however, we are going to primarily focus on Nand Bhavan or Chaurasi Khamba.

Vraja gopa gopi dhaya aise e angane
Putra janma utsava haila eikhane
Bahu daan kaila Nanda putra kalyanete
Parama adbhuta sukha byapila jagate
(Bhakti Ratnakara)

The cowherd men and women of Vraja hurried to see Krishna at Nand Bhavan. The grand celebration of Krishna’s appearance was celebrated here at Nanda Bhavan where Nanda Maharaja distributed countless items in charity. A wonderful and ecstatic joy filled the entire world.

Who was Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda ?

Nanda Maharaja, Krishna’s father, was the incarnation of Vasu ‘Drona’ and Yashoda, Krishna’s mother, was the incarnation of Drona’s wife ‘Dhara’. Previously, when Lord Brahma had instructed them to beget children, they expressed their desire to beget Krishna, the Supreme Lord, as their child. They wanted their reciprocations with Krishna to be so enchanting and captivating that simply by hearing them, one would cross over the cycles of birth and death. Brahma agreed and therefore in due course of time, Drona and Dhara appeared as Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda in Vraja where they served Krishna in the mood of parental affection. Nanda Maharaja and Yashoda devi were more fortunate than Vasudeva and Devaki, Krishna’s actual parents, because they could partake in Krishna’s most celebrated childhood pastimes. Simply by meditating upon these enchanting pastimes, one can achieve all perfection.

nand bhavan gokul krishna chaurasi khamba

Delving deep into the scriptures we understand that no ordinary living being can become the parents of the Supreme Lord. Such a fortune cannot be attained even by the likes of Shiva, Brahma, or other demigods. Hence it must be noted that Nanda and Yashoda were not ordinary living beings. They are Krishna’s eternal parents in the spiritual world. But in order to play their role in this material world, they seek Brahma’s permission, simply to glorify Brahma as he is the creator of this material world.

Nanda Maharaja was the chief of the cowherds, and his primary responsibility was the protection of cows. It is understood that he possessed over nine lakh (900,000) cows and was quite rich. The cowherds sold milk and their milk products like butter, yogurt, cheese, etc, and thereby led prosperous lives. Nanda Maharaja was the son of Parjanya. Long ago Parjanya had worshiped Lord Narayana with a desire to beget a good son. Parjanya initially resided at Nandgaon (Nandagrama). After performing severe austerities he received the benediction that he would have five sons, out of which the middle one, known as Nanda, would become the best. Nanda’s son Krishna would be equally glorious and shall be worshiped by demigods. Parjanya resided at Nandgaon for some time but later moved to Gokul out of fear of the Kesi demon.

See also  Sakhya rasa - friendship | Types of Krishna’s sakhas (friends)

Nand Bhavan or Chaurasi Khamba

The word ‘Chaurasi’ translates to 84 (eighty-four) in Hindi and the word ‘Khamba’ denotes pillar. Hence ‘Chaurasi Khamba’ represents 84 pillars that form the foundational structure of Nand Bhavan. This number eighty-four is said to allude to the eighty-four lakh (84,00,000) species of life that exist. It is believed that Nand Bhavan was built by Lord Viswakarma, the architect of the Gods, more than five thousand years ago. However, it was destroyed by the invaders in course of time. Nand Bhavan was later rebuilt using the same pillars as the original. Nand Bhavan is situated on a small hill and one needs to climb a flight of steps to reach the temple. The Temple walls are adorned with paintings of Lord Krishna depicting His various childhood pastimes. The majestic carvings on the stone pillars serve to enhance their beauty. The temple premise has a huge courtyard and wide open spaces along with a huge Gaushala where hundreds of cows are maintained. In the courtyard of the temple, there is a huge banyan tree on whose branches devotees tie colorful ribbons for good luck and fortune. Under the banyan tree is a small temple of Yogmaya devi. Nand Bhavan is the birthplace of Yogamaya, who was exchanged with little Krishna shortly after her birth and carried to Mathura by Vasudeva. Inside the main temple are worshiped captivating deities of Nanda Maharaja, mother Yashoda, Lord Balarama, and a small deity of Gopala.

nand bhavan gokul krishna chaurasi khamba putana

Nand Bhavan is situated within Mahavan, the eighth sacred forest of Vraja Mandala. Adi Varaha Purana glorifies Mahavan as follows –

Maha vanam castamam tu sadaiva hi mama priyam
Tasmin gatva tu manuja indraloke mahiyate

The eighth forest of Mahavan is very dear to me. One who goes there is worshiped on Indra’s planet.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had visited Mahavan during His visit to Vraja Mandala and relished the pastimes of Krishna. Lord Chaitanya had manifested His ecstatic pastimes at this place.

Bhavabeshe prabhu nritya-geetite magna haila
Kripa kari sarva chitta akarshana kaila
Chaturdike dhaya loka dekhiya prabhure
Haiya adhairja Hari Hari dhvani kare
(Bhakti Ratnakara)

Sri Chaitanya manifested His singing and dancing pastimes here (at Mahavana) and mercifully enchanted the hearts of everyone. People rushed from all around to behold Mahaprabhu and chanted the holy names of Hari in ecstasy.

Sri Sanatana Goswami had also visited Mahavana and over here he had attained the divine darsana of Madana Gopal who displayed His pastimes as a cowherd boy to Sanatana.

Nand Bhavan Gokul – Significant pastimes

Below are some of the significant pastimes that have taken place at Nand Bhavan in Gokul Mahavan.

Krishna and Balarama’s name giving ceremony

Garga Muni, the priest of the Yadus, was requested by Vasudeva to visit the residence of Nanda Maharaja in Gokul to complete the astrological calculations for Krishna and Balarama. Nanda Maharaja welcomed the sage and received him warmly. Garga muni could clearly understand that Krishna was the son of Vasudeva and Devaki, something that Nanda did not know. He also knew that Balarama was also the son of Devaki and was subsequently transferred to the womb of Rohini. Hence Krishna and Balarama were brothers. Garga muni informed Nanda Maharaja that if he performed the name-giving ceremony of Krishna and Balarama, then Kansa might turn suspicious. He might presume Krishna and Balarama to be the sons of Devaki. It was because as per astrological calculations, Devaki could not have a female child. Also, the eighth child of Devaki, who was Durga devi, had warned Kansa that the child destined to kill him was already born. Hence, if he were to perform their name-giving ceremonies, Kansa might try to kill these children as well.

nand bhavan gokul krishna chaurasi khamba yogmaya

After hearing the sage’s apprehensions, Nanda Maharaja decided to perform Krishna’s name-giving ceremony without any grandeur and as discreetly as possible. It was executed at Nanda Maharaja’s cowshed, here in Nand Bhavan, where Garga muni chanted the Vedic hymns and performed the purificatory process. 

See also  Krishna's cowherd friends | Krishna in Vrindavan

Garga muni explained that the son of Rohini would be very pleasing to friends and family and hence He would be known as ‘Balarama’. He would also become extraordinarily strong in the future and hence He would come to be known as ‘Baladeva’. And as the family of Nanda Maharaja and the Yadus were very close to each other, Balarama would also be known as ‘Sankarshana’.

Turning toward Krishna, Gargamuni explained how Krishna would become the cause of all their good fortune. Krishna would face several calamities but would eventually overcome all resistance. He would become very popular in Vrindavan. He had incarnated in bodily colors of white, red, yellow, and now black in the course of different yugas (millennia). Garga muni added that the child was formerly the son of Vasudeva and hence His name should be Vasudeva as well as Krishna. Krishna would protect His devotees just as demigods are always protected by the Supreme Lord Narayana. Krishna’s opulence would be at par with that of the Supreme Lord Himself. Garga muni urged Nanda Maharaja to shield Krishna as He would be troubled by many demons in the future.

Krishna kills Putana

Kansa was afraid that the child destined to kill him was already born. Hence he instructed Putana, a witch, to kill all children in nearby areas. According to Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Putana was Kansa’s sister. Putana was an expert in black arts and had a reputation for killing children. Such witches are known as Khechari as they can fly in the sky. Accordingly, Putana entered Nanda Bhavan to kill Krishna, who was just a few days old. She appeared very beautiful and donned a smiling face. She blended with the other women. When she saw Krishna, she could understand that the child was not ordinary and possessed unlimited powers. Putana, who had smeared her breasts with a powerful poison, came close offering her milk to Krishna. Krishna knew that the woman had come to kill Him. He quickly began sucking her milk and in the process sucked out her life air as well. The witch shuddered in pain and soon fell dead. As she died, the whole world began shaking. She assumed her gigantic demoniac form that was more than twelve miles in length. Although Putana came with evil intentions, she was delivered as she was killed by Krishna, the supreme Lord. She came to give poison, but Krishna accepted her actions as motherly. Hence she became purified and attained liberation from material existence.

nand bhavan gokul krishna chaurasi khamba

In her previous life, Putana was Ratnamala, one of the daughters of Bali Maharaj. On seeing Lord Vamanadeva, she desired to become His mother. The Supreme Lord who knows everyone’s mind obliged her request. Later she became enraged and bitter toward Lord Vamana deva when He tied up Bali Maharaja. Hence she was born as Putana where she could act as Krishna’s mother as well as harbor sinful desires of killing the Lord.

Putana represents a bogus Guru (spiritual master) who teaches beyond his realizations or teaches beyond the realization of his disciple. Such a Guru is a bad spiritual guide who offers the suck of the poisoned breast that kills the purified cognition of the soul. The real Guru is self-realized. The polluted mind also acts as a pseudo-Guru by proposing all kinds of false arguments that hinder one’s spiritual realization.

Krishna kills Sakatasura

Sakatasura was a ghost having no gross material body. He appeared in the form of a handcart and was looking for an opportunity to kill Krishna. It was the occasion of Krishna’s first birthday ceremony and His parents were busy receiving guests and making arrangements. Krishna was left beneath the handcart that was piled with dishes, utensils, and other metals. As Krishna was not being fed with milk, He turned angry. He lifted up His legs and began kicking just like a small child. His legs touched the wheel of the cart, which separated from the axle causing it to collapse. As the cart broke into pieces, Satakasura died and attained liberation from material existence. This pastime had occurred here at Nand Bhavan. Sakatasura represents pridefulness, laxity, bad habits, and bad philosophy that includes following the scriptures in their literal sense without due regard to their meaning. This offense needs to be dealt with early on in one’s spiritual life in order to realize natural love for Krishna.

See also  Rasa Tattva, Asta Sattvika vikara & Anubhava

Krishna kills Trinavarta

One day shortly after His first birthday, mother Yashoda was patting little Krishna on her lap. Finding Krishna heavy, she unwillingly placed Him on the floor. She gradually became engaged in her household work. At that time, a demon named Trinavarta, who was acting on the instructions of Kansa, arrived to steal Krishna away. He appeared as a whirlwind and picked Krishna up on his shoulders. He created a dust storm all over Vrindavan and carried Krishna about 800,000 miles above the ground. Not seeing Krishna, Yashoda began crying piteously. Meanwhile, as the demon carried Krishna high into the sky, Krishna made Himself very heavy. Trinavarta began to feel as if he was carrying a big mountain upon his back. Trinavarta tried in vain to escape from Krishna’s clutches, who was holding tightly onto the demon’s neck. Unable to bear Krishna’s weight, the demon fell down dead with his eyes popping out. The Gopis discovered Krishna playing upon the demon’s dead body and picked Him up with great affection.

nand bhavan gokul krishna chaurasi khamba trinavarta

Trinavarta represents false arguments, dry speculation, and useless controversy that hinders one’s spiritual progress. These can be compared to the dust that conceals the vision of Krishna. The demon Trinavarta, who is the embodiment of disloyal controversy, must be vanquished for the lotus of spirituality to blossom in one’s heart.

Damodar Lila

The sweet pastime of baby Krishna stealing butter and subsequently being tied to a mortar by His dear mother Yashoda is also known as Damodara Lila. In Sanskrit, ‘dama’ means rope and ‘Udara’ means belly. Damodara refers to Krishna who was bound by ropes of affection by His mother Yashoda. It is also known as the ‘Ukhal Bandhan’ pastime as during the course of this pastime Krishna was tied with ropes to a ‘Ukhal’ or a grinding mortar.  Little Krishna was only 2 years and 3 months old at this time. During Damodar Lila, Krishna had delivered the two sons of Kuvera, Nalakuvara, and Manigriva, who were cursed to become trees in Nanda Maharaja’s courtyard. We have discussed this pastime in detail in one of our earlier articles.

Krishna’s clay eating pastimes

It was here at Gokul on the bank of river Yamuna, that Krishna had eaten clay. When mother Yashoda asked Him to open His mouth, she could witness the entire universe in her child’s mouth. She could see the sun, moon, stars, outer space, mountains, islands, oceans, seas, rivers, planets, air, water, fire, ether, and wind, along with ego and material senses. She could also see the demigods, eternal time,  material nature, consciousness, and everything necessary for cosmic manifestation. She could also visualize herself caressing Krishna upon her lap. She became astonished and wondered whether she was actually seeing the universe or simply dreaming. We have discussed this pastime in detail in one of our earlier articles.

How to Reach

Nand Bhavan, commonly referred to as ‘Chaurasi Khamba’, is situated in Gokul and is well-linked via roadways. It is located about 15 kilometers south of Mathura railway station and about 1 Kilometer south of the Mahavan Police station.

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