Friday, April 01, 2016

Govindaji Temple, Old and New

I was thinking about Govindaji this morning and remembered that I had never been to the new Govindaji temple. I also wanted to test the "Yoga-Peeth-ness" of the old temple by sitting and meditating there. I had quick results in the affirmative.

I played with the color on some of these photos, as the light was a little difficult for an amateur photographer like me. I did not have time to do a good job, so the duller pix are the ones that are "natural."



I believe this photo was published in Growse's District Memoir in 1873, Growse ordered the first renovations. It seems that a lot of the stone from the building was used here and there, and a lot of it was dumped in what is now called "Patthar Pura". According to some sources, a lot of the stone went to help build the mosque in Mathura at the Janma Sthan.


I believe this photo was first published in Growse's District Memoir in 1873, Growse ordered the first renovations. It seems that a lot of the stone from the building was used here and there, and a lot of it was dumped in what is now called "Patthar Pura". According to some sources, a lot of the stone went to help build the mosque in Mathura at the Janma Sthan.

The wall that appears on the roof here, according to Growse, was built by Aurangzeb as a mosque with qibla pointing to Mecca. He reports the legend that the Emperor himself came after the desecration of the building and offered his namaaz on the roof at this wall to proclaim the victory of Islam over Hinduism.

It is interesting to compare this with the previous black and white photo. This photo is probably from about 1960. It seems that the ASI renovations had already been quite extensive and had already been started here. Compare some of the other photos.


It is interesting to compare this with the previous black and white photo. This photo is probably from about 1960. It seems that the ASI renovations had already been quite extensive and had already been started here. Compare some of the other photos. But the original renovation work was started by Growse's efforts.


The temple is a massive cruciform building of red sandstone and resembles the larger of the two Sas Bahu temples in Gwalior. Part of the temple has been damaged, for at one time it was used as a quarry. The chief loss the temple has suffered is the loss of its central dome, the curvilinear tower which surmounted the cella. The temple is wonderfully grand and impressive, with lordly pillars with beautiful bracket capitals and numberless pointed arches opening into the deep shadows.] The temple is a massive cruciform building of red sandstone and resembles the larger of the two Sas Bahu temples in Gwalior. Part of the temple has been damaged, for at one time it was used as a quarry. The chief loss the temple has suffered is the loss of its central dome, the curvilinear tower which surmounted the cella. The temple is wonderfully grand and impressive, with lordly pillars with beautiful bracket capitals and numberless pointed arches opening into the deep shadows.

 "The temple now survives in its truncated form since its sanctuary was complete destroyed during the reign of Aurangzeb. It was originally seven storeys high and atop the temple a large lamp was kept burning. The story goes that from Agra Aurangzeb saw the majestic lamp and got infuriated by the greatness of this Hindu temple and sent troops to demolish it. The Mohammedan soldiers were able to dismantle the top four stories of the seven storied structure. According to another version, the upper four stories were neatly dismantled and placed alongside. During the attack, the deities enshrined within were moved to Jaipur, where they remain until the present day." (Baij Nath Aryan in Economic Times 19-4-1991)



"The temple now survives in its truncated form since its sanctuary was complete destroyed during the reign of Aurangzeb. It was originally seven storeys high and atop the temple a large lamp was kept burning. The story goes that from Agra Aurangzeb saw the majestic lamp and got infuriated by the greatness of this Hindu temple and sent troops to demolish it. The Mohammedan soldiers were able to dismantle the top four stories of the seven storied structure. According to another version, the upper four stories were neatly dismantled and placed alongside. During the attack, the deities enshrined within were moved to Jaipur, where they remain until the present day." (Baij Nath Aryan in Economic Times 19-4-1991, This is the central dome. You can see the patterns in the setting of thestone. I wonder if the original intent was to have some of these surfaces painted. The dome seems to be intact.


This is the central dome. You can see the patterns in the setting of thestone. I wonder if the original intent was to have some of these surfaces painted. The dome seems to be intact.


"Architecturally speaking, the temple possesses great formal beauty which is enhanced by the balconies, the loggias of bracketed archways, moulded buttresses, prominent eaves and ornamental parapets. The interiors are constructed with equal competence. The combination of vertical, and horizontal lines covering the whole surface contributes to the remarkable effect and therein lies the real merit of the design. It is more than evident that Rajasthani masons were engaged in its construction. The sudden upsurge of temple building activity was the outcome of the bhakti movement that was sweeping the northern Indian plains as a reaction to continual Muslim invasions."Baijnath Aryan
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"Architecturally speaking, the temple possesses great formal beauty which is enhanced by the balconies, the loggias of bracketed archways, moulded buttresses, prominent eaves and ornamental parapets. The interiors are constructed with equal competence. The combination of vertical, and horizontal lines covering the whole surface contributes to the remarkable effect and therein lies the real merit of the design. It is more than evident that Rajasthani masons were engaged in its construction. The sudden upsurge of temple building activity was the outcome of the bhakti movement that was sweeping the northern Indian plains as a reaction to continual Muslim invasions."Baijnath Aryan.


"The monuments in Agra are visited by millions from all over the world, but it is a pity that only a handful of devotees visit this grand monument in Vrindavan which is barely an hour’s drive from Agra. The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri conveys the imporession of a building, but the Govinda Dev temple is sculpturesque in conception and proportions. And I personally feel that the architecture of Govinda Dev temple is far more impressive than that of Fatehpur Sikri." Baij Nath Aryan (written in 1991)


"The monuments in Agra are visited by millions from all over the world, but it is a pity that only a handful of devotees visit this grand monument in Vrindavan which is barely an hour’s drive from Agra. The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri conveys the imporession of a building, but the Govinda Dev temple is sculpturesque in conception and proportions. And I personally feel that the architecture of Govinda Dev temple is far more impressive than that of Fatehpur Sikri." Baij Nath Aryan (written in 1991)

OldGovindaji_04


OldGovindaji_05

Several groups came through while I was there. This group was very vocal chanting the name of Radhe Shyam. Unfortunately, though, there is never Bhagavata or kirtan there. The priests told me that one would have to arrange it through the ASI. The temple opens at 7 a.m. until noon, then 3 p.m. to 8 pm.



Several groups came through while I was there. This group was very vocal chanting the name of Radhe Shyam. Unfortunately, though, there is never Bhagavata or kirtan there. The priests told me that one would have to arrange it through the ASI. The temple opens at 7 a.m. until noon, then 3 p.m. to 8 pm.

Usually during the daytime there are many monkeys, especially in the hot season when they come inside to cool off. This time, however, there was just this lone straggler.


Usually during the daytime there are many monkeys, especially in the hot season when they come inside to cool off. This time, however, there was just this lone straggler.

OldGovindaji_10


Baijnath Aryan writes, "The complete absence of figural sculptures from the walls of this temple has been ascribed to Islamic influence, any display of imagery being prohibited by this religion. But I do not accept this view. I think this temple has been constructed more in terms of a palace of a god than a temple in the conventional sense." It may well be that these brackets were to be used for such a purpose. These niches were also used for the evening functional/religious lamps.


Baijnath Aryan writes, "The complete absence of figural sculptures from the walls of this temple has been ascribed to Islamic influence, any display of imagery being prohibited by this religion. But I do not accept this view. I think this temple has been constructed more in terms of a palace of a god than a temple in the conventional sense."

It may well be that these brackets were to be used for such a purpose. These niches were also used for the evening functional/religious lamps.


"The cruciform structure reminded western scholars such as Percy Brown and Fergusson of a Greek cross, but this should not mislead us into thinking of foreign derivations. Such cruciform structures find extensive mention in our ancient Vastu texts. In its external appearance and the principles on which this temple has been designed, this structure derives from and has striking affinities with numerous large temples built in the same style, the most notable example being the Sasbahu temple inside the Gwalior fort. The elevations of both the temples comprise several storeys, each containing open arcades. The builders of Govind Dev temple seem to have made considerable advances in the disposition of the arcades since the Gwalior experience. It would be appropriate to say that they had acquired entirely new insights in temple architecture." Baijnath Aryan The temple looks fairly well maintained, but the surroundings are awful. Had a nice talk with this Baba from Kolkata.


"The cruciform structure reminded western scholars such as Percy Brown and Fergusson of a Greek cross, but this should not mislead us into thinking of foreign derivations. Such cruciform structures find extensive mention in our ancient Vastu texts. In its external appearance and the principles on which this temple has been designed, this structure derives from and has striking affinities with numerous large temples built in the same style, the most notable example being the Sasbahu temple inside the Gwalior fort. The elevations of both the temples comprise several storeys, each containing open arcades. The builders of Govind Dev temple seem to have made considerable advances in the disposition of the arcades since the Gwalior experience. It would be appropriate to say that they had acquired entirely new insights in temple architecture." Baijnath Aryan


The walls of this shrine are ten feet thick and perhaps the best part of the building is the labyrinth of stairs and passages that it contains, leading up into the triforium and hanging balcony, when one can look down either into the shadowy depths of the interior or out into the glowing world of sunshine." Baijnath Aryan


The walls of this shrine are ten feet thick and perhaps the best part of the building is the labyrinth of stairs and passages that it contains, leading up into the triforium and hanging balcony, when one can look down either into the shadowy depths of the interior or out into the glowing world of sunshine." Baijnath Aryan

This is the Yogamaya temple that is usually difficult to get access to. One can only be taken in by the priests from the temple through an inner passage, down some stairs and into a Sanctum Sanctorum. This temple marks the spot where Govindaji was discovered on Goma Tila. This temple was built before the big one, according to Anuragi Baba, it was started in 1570 and took twelve years to complete. F.S. Growse: "ON their arrival at Brinda-ban, the first shrine which the Gosains erected was one in honour of the eponymous goddess Brinda Devi. Of this no traces now remain, if (as some say) it stood in the Seva Kunj, which is now a large walled garden with a masonry tank near the Ras Mandal. Their fame spread so rapidly that in 1573 the Emperor Akbar was induced to pay them a visit, and was taken blindfold into the sacred enclosure of the Nidhban [1] where such a marvellous vision was revealed to him, that he was fain to acknowledge the place as indeed holy ground. Hence the cordial support which he gave to the attendant Rajas, when they expressed their wish to erect a series of buildings more worthy of the local divinity. The four temples, commenced in honour of this event, still remain, though in a ruinous and hitherto sadly neglected condition. They bear the titles of Gobind Deva, Gopi-nath, Jugal-Kishor and Madan Mohan. The first named is not only the finest of this particular series, but is the most impressive religious edifice that Hindu art has ever produced, at least in Upper India. "


This is the Yogamaya temple that is usually difficult to get access to. One can only be taken in by the priests from the temple through an inner passage, down some stairs and into a Sanctum Sanctorum.
This temple marks the spot where Govindaji was discovered on Goma Tila. This temple was built before the big one, according to Anuragi Baba, it was started in 1570 and took twelve years to complete.

F.S. Growse: "On their arrival at Brinda-ban, the first shrine which the Gosains erected was one in honour of the eponymous goddess Brinda Devi. Of this no traces now remain, if (as some say) it stood in the Seva Kunj, which is now a large walled garden with a masonry tank near the Ras Mandal. Their fame spread so rapidly that in 1573 the Emperor Akbar was induced to pay them a visit, and was taken blindfold into the sacred enclosure of the Nidhban [1] where such a marvellous vision was revealed to him, that he was fain to acknowledge the place as indeed holy ground. Hence the cordial support which he gave to the attendant Rajas, when they expressed their wish to erect a series of buildings more worthy of the local divinity. The four temples, commenced in honour of this event, still remain, though in a ruinous and hitherto sadly neglected condition. They bear the titles of Gobind Deva, Gopi-nath, Jugal-Kishor and Madan Mohan. The first named is not only the finest of this particular series, but is the most impressive religious edifice that Hindu art has ever produced, at least in Upper India. "

A pavilion for Jhulan Yatra. This is around the back, on the temple parikrama. It is near the rear exit, which is the passageway to the new Govindaji temple. "Another inscription records the construction of a small chattri (gazebo) behind the temple during the reign of Shahjahan at the behest of Rani Rambhavati, wife of Bhim Singh, son of Rana Amar Singh of Mewar." Baijnath Aryan


A pavilion for Jhulan Yatra. This is around the back, on the temple parikrama. It is near the rear exit, which is the passageway to the new Govindaji temple.

"Another inscription records the construction of a small chattri (gazebo) behind the temple during the reign of Shahjahan at the behest of Rani Rambhavati, wife of Bhim Singh, son of Rana Amar Singh of Mewar." Baijnath Aryan


The temple looks fairly well maintained, but the surroundings are awful. Had a nice talk with this Baba from Kolkata. He has been living here and doing seva for five years.


The temple looks fairly well maintained, but the surroundings are pretty awful. It would be nice to see some greenery here. I had a nice talk with this Baba from Kolkata. He has been living here and doing seva for five years.

The new Govindaji temple.

I went around back to look at the new Govindaji temple, which I am quite ashamed to admit, I had never visited before. Renovations by the Brij Vikas Trust have been going on there.

The new Govindaji temple has been recently restored by the Braj Vikas Trust. It is looking pretty good.



This is the first entrance.into the first courtyard. It looks like this was probably a temple at one time, perhaps the first "new" one.


This is the outdoor entrance into the first courtyard. It looks like the temple was probably here at one time, perhaps the first "new" one.

The style of architecture here is very similar to that of the new Radha Gopinath temple. Indeed this temple, the new Gopinathji and the new Madan Mohan temples were all built by one man, Nanda Gopal Bosu of Kolkata, who had a dream in which Krishna appeared to him and said, "I never leave Vrindavan, so please rebuild the temples and reinstall deities at these places." (Anuragi Baba, p. 55) Anuragi Baba says this dream took place in 1734, which seems a bit early to me. Most of the murtis that had fled Vrindavan in that period were still in various different places in Rajasthan and had not yet found permanent homes. Aurangzeb desecrated the temples in 1669.


The style of architecture here is very similar to that of the new Radha Gopinath and Madan Mohan temples. Indeed these three temples were all built by one man, Nanda Gopal Bosu of Kolkata, who had a dream in which Krishna appeared to him and said, "I never leave Vrindavan. Even though it appears that I fled to Jaipur, in actual fact, I am still there in my original home. So please rebuild the temples and reinstall deities at these places." (Anuragi Baba, p. 55)

Anuragi Baba says this dream took place in 1734, which seems a bit early to me. Most of the murtis that had fled Vrindavan in that period were still in various different places in Rajasthan and had not yet found permanent homes. Aurangzeb desecrated the temples in 1669.

A group of women doing their regular morning bhajans at the temple.


A group of women doing their regular morning bhajans at the temple.

The old temple sadly has no spiritual activity going on there to speak of. Aurangzeb's subversion of Hindu life in Vrindavan was clearly unsuccessful, but this building is pretty much inactive, which is a shame, as this is the site of the Vrindavan Yoga Peeth.

The three foundational temples of the Gaudiya sampradaya in Vrindavan -- Madan Mohan, Govindaji and Gopinath, were build on the three highest promontories in the area. Except for Madan Mohan, these tilas are barely noticeable nowadays, but before there was any settlement here to speak of , these three spectacular temples must have been clearly visible all around.

7 comments:

Blinde Schildpad said...

Jagadananda-ji, not a Gaudiya here but I like understanding the lingo. What is a Yoga Peeth in this context?

Jagadananda Das said...

Peeth or पीठ means a throne. Yoga means union, so it could be said to mean the sacred spot where the Divine Union takes place. Any tantric practice that makes use of a yantra is automatically invoking the Yoga Peeth, and indeed any tantric puja, meditation or visualization exercise is done at the Yoga Peeth. This is also called mantra-mayi upasana, or a fixed meditation to accompany the mantra given for sadhana at the time of initiation. Different schools of practice will have different yantras and mantras, and so they will have different content, but the fundamental tantra forms remain fairly constant everywhere.

Vrindavan has two yoga peeths, one at the Govindaji temple, the other at Radha Kund. These represent moments in Radha Krishna lila when everyone is gathered for a "group photo" as it were.

Anonymous said...

Jagadananda Das said: I also wanted to test the "Yoga-Peeth-ness" of the old temple by sitting and meditating there. I had quick results in the affirmative.

Maccidānandanātha replied: Stone is beautiful to meditate on (and within it's cavities), and is able to conduct (and sometimes temporarily store) electrical charge from number of sources; of these sources, the movement of water (above and below ground) is of major interest to the meditating tantric.

For the 21st Century Tantric wishing to understand the natural energies which one can ride upon in meditation, a nodding acquaintance with the principles of electrostatic-induction and fluid-dynamics (electro-magnetic 'plasma' fields generated by the movement of fluids [the word fluid not being confined only to water]).

A good place to start, is by researching Lord Kelvin's water-drop electrostatic generator:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_water_dropper

Of which one is reminded of Professor Walter Lewin's beautiful MIT lecture and demonstration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr1w2nTfWYY&nohtml5=True

Remember well, as well as water, "air" is also a fluid...

One may also wish to meditate at the time which straddles dawn and dusk; near rivers (especially where moving water drops, i.e., near a cataract, weir, waterfall, etc.), during electrical storms, and during the time of the full Moon.

Anonymous said...

The inquisitive tantric may also wish to know that a spring is an excellent place to meditate by; especially if there are two springs that emerge from same source (visit each spring to find the right one... you will know full well when you have found it).

Anonymous said...

Think about Nadi Shodhan pranayama; where the inhalated breath moves through a single air-way (nostril to trachea) and then the moving air is split into two branches of the bronchi filling each lung:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9b/Respiratory_system_complete_no_labels.svg/691px-Respiratory_system_complete_no_labels.svg.png

Now look again at Lord Kelvin's electrostatic generator:

http://www.hk-phy.org/iq/kelvin_generator/kelvin_e.gif

And think about Professor Walter Lewin's MIT demonstration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr1w2nTfWYY&nohtml5=True

Anonymous said...


Yes, Peeth or पीठ (pITha) does mean a throne, and also:

http://sanskritdictionary.com/scans/?col=1&img=mw0629.jpg

When disassembled from its compound form of pITha to pI + Tha, it also means much more.

Anonymous said...


pranam ced idaya pibet parimitam bhuyo'nyaya recayet
pitva pingalaya samiranam atho baddhva tyajed vamaya |
suryacandramasor anena vidhina bimba-dvayam dhyayatam
suddha nadi-gana bhavanti yaminam masa-trayad urdhvatah ||100||

If one should drink in a measured amount of prana through the ida, exhale it again through the other [nostril], then drinking the air in through the pingala, he should, after holding it, release it again through the left. According to this rule, those who are self controlled and meditate on the two disks of the sun and moon, will have purified [all] their channels after three months.

Source: Verse 100, Page 234, Yoga-Tarangini: A Rare Commentary on Goraksa-sataka (ISBN-10: 8120839897 and ISBN-13: 978-8120839892).

Apology, my mobile phone does not type diacritic text.