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Kaustubha das

Flower Festival In Mumbai!/SLIDESHOW

On January 31, I was fortunate to be present at the Radha Gopinath Temple in Mumbai for their annual Pushya Abhishek, a devotional festival in which the temple congregation comes together to profusely decorate the deities of Radha and Krishna with flowers, and then offer them an extended shower of over a ton of fresh flower petals.

In the early morning devotees gathered to pluck the petals from millions of fragrant flowers. In the evening 2000 devotees squeezed into the temple as thousands more gathered in the temple courtyards to watch via video screen. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

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Kirtan Podcast 4 – Karnamrita “The Story of Pingala”


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Among all the kirtan singers out there, it would be hard to find one with a voice more pure or beautiful than Karnamrita. She’s been singing kirtan since her early childhood and was trained in Indian classical vocals in Vrindavan. This track, “The Story of Pingala”, is from the CD Dasi–Prayers by Women, a compilation of songs and prayers by or about great women in the Krishna Bhakti Traditions. This brilliant and exciting recording is composed of verses taken directly from a section of the Srimad-bhagavatam’s 11th Canto known as the Uddhava-gita.

The Uddhava-gita is a rich resource of teachings on bhakti. Responding to Uddhava’s request for instructions on renunciation, Krishna relates an avadhutas account of his twenty-four gurus. These twenty-four gurus are an eclectic group of people, animals and other natural phenomena – for instance, the earth, the wind, the sky, the moon, the python, the moth, etc. The avadhuta‘s account shows how one can develop wisdom and conviction in bhakti through observing one’s surroundings.

One of the guru’s, the prostitute Pingala, is the subject of this song. These verses are an expression of her frustration with sensual pursuits and her joyous awakening of detachment and devotion.

I’ve included the Srimad-bhagavatam verses below, both in the original Sanskrit and the English translation. I highly recommend the CD which has a variety of beautiful songs.

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To Purchase the CD Dasi – Prayers by Women Click Here

The Story of Pingala From the CD Dasi – Prayers by Women

Vocals: Karnamrita
Melody composed by: Yuddhistira and Karnamrita
Tablas: Yuddhistira
Kartals: Chaitanya Nitai
Hand Claps: Ron Marinelli
Produced by Karnamrita and Ron Marinelli
Mixed and mastered by Ron Marinelli

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From Srimad-Bhagavatam 11th Canto, Chapter 8

11.8.30
pingalovaca
aho me moha-vitatim
pasyatavijitatmanah
ya kantad asatah kamam
kamaye yena balisa

The prostitute Pingala said: Just see how greatly illusioned I am! Because I cannot control my mind, just like a fool I desire lusty pleasure from an insignificant man.

11.8.31
santam samipe ramanam rati-pradam
vitta-pradam nityam imam vihaya
akama-dam duhkha-bhayadhi-soka-
moha-pradam tuccham aham bhaje ‘jna

I am such a fool that I have given up the service of that person who, being eternally situated within my heart, is actually most dear to me. That most dear one is the Lord of the universe, who is the bestower of real love and happiness and the source of all prosperity. Although He is in my own heart, I have completely neglected Him. Instead I have ignorantly served insignificant men who can never satisfy my real desires and who have simply brought me unhappiness, fear, anxiety, lamentation and illusion.

11.8.37
nunam me bhagavan prito
vishnuh kenapi karmana
nirvedo ‘yam durasaya
yan me jatah sukhavahah

Although I most stubbornly hoped to enjoy the material world, somehow or other detachment has arisen in my heart, and it is making me very happy. Therefore the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vishnu, must be pleased with me. Without even knowing it, I must have performed some activity satisfying to Him.

11.8.38
maivam syur manda-bhagyayah
klesa nirveda-hetavah
yenanubandham nirhritya
purushah samam ricchati

A person who has developed detachment can give up the bondage of material society, friendship and love, and a person who undergoes great suffering gradually becomes, out of hopelessness, detached and indifferent to the material world. Thus, due to my great suffering, such detachment awoke in my heart; yet how could I have undergone such merciful suffering if I were actually unfortunate? Therefore, I am in fact fortunate and have received the mercy of the Lord. He must somehow or other be pleased with me.

11.8.39
tenopakritam adaya
sirasa gramya-sangatah
tyaktva durasah saranam
vrajami tam adhisvaram

With devotion I accept the great benefit that the Lord has bestowed upon me. Having given up my sinful desires for ordinary sense gratification, I now take shelter of Him, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

11.8.40
santushta sraddadhaty etad
yatha-labhena jivati
viharamy amunaivaham
atmana ramanena vai

I am now completely satisfied, and I have full faith in the Lord’s mercy. Therefore I will maintain myself with whatever comes of its own accord. I shall enjoy life with only the Lord, because He is the real source of love and happiness.

[Translation from Srimad-bhagavatam, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. Used with permission.]

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Finding Selflessness Amidst Mumbai’s Sorrow

When we see innocent people running our city streets, scrambling for shelter from acts of violence committed in God’s name, whether in Manhattan or Mumbai, it’s a good time to ask ourselves whether our religion is making us more divine or deranged. On the verge of 2009, it’s become all the more apparent that the first decade of the new millennium will, in many ways, be defined by the impact of religious terrorism on our nations, communities, families and minds. Times like these call for us to examine how our faith affects our reasoning. CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE »

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Kirtan Podcast 3: In the Temple of My Heart

Bhaktivinode Thakurmama– my, mana– mind or heart, mandire– in the temple
Kedarnath Datta Bhaktivinode Thakura was a nineteenth century religious reformer in the Chaitanya or Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. He was a prolific author, songwriter, poet and proponent of Krishna bhakti.
In this beautiful Bengali song, Bhaktivinode Thakur expresses his ardent desire for Lord Krishna to reside in his heart, where he can make his offerings of love. I find this song serves as a reminder and inspiration that behind all religious ritual lies the purpose of the transformation of the mind or heart, and that ultimately, the heart is both the place of genuine worship as well as the truest and most pleasing item to be offered in devotion.

The song is sung by the bhajana group Spiritual Skyliner, which was a traveling group of Vaishnava brahmacaris from Germany. The angelic lead singing is by Gadadhara Das. Musically this song is unique in that each verse is sung in a different melody. Mama Mana Mandire appeared on the cd Spiritual Skyliner: Sacred Mantras. More of their music can be found here and here.

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Mam Mana Mandire
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Mama Mana Mandire

by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura

(1) mama mana mandire raha nisi-din
krsna murari sri krsna murari

Please abide in the temple of my heart
both day and night, O Krsna Murari, O Sri Krsna Murari!

(2) bhakti priti mala candan
tumi nio he nio krsna-nandan

Devotion, love, flower garlands, and sandalwood- please accept them,
Delighter of the Heart!

(3) jivana marana tava puja nivedan
sundara he mana-hari

In life or in death I worship You with these offerings,
Beautiful One, O Enchanter of the Heart!

(4) eso nanda-kumar ar nanda-kumar
habe prema-pradipe arati tomar

Come, son of Nanda, and then, O Son of Nanda
I will offer Your arati ceremony with the lamplight of my love.

(5) nayana jamuna jhare anibar
tomara virahe giridhari

The waters of the Yamuna river cascade incessantly from my eyes
in your separation, O Holder of Govordhana Hill!

(6) bandana gane tava bajuk jivana
krsna murari sri krsna murari

May I pass my life absorbed only in songs of Your praise, O Krsna Murari, Sri Krsna Murari!

Related Posts: Kirtan Podcast: As Kindred Spirits / Kirtan Podcast 2: Aindra Das

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Kirtan Podcast 2: Aindra Das

Aindra Smile

Whenever I stay in Vrindavan, I make a point of spending every evening in the Krishna Balaram Temple with hundreds of bhaktas singing in kirtan led by Aindra Das. An American who moved to Vrindavan in the early 8o’s, Aindra das leads a group of kirtaniyas who maintain kirtan 24 hours a day, everyday in the temple. He lives simply, he’s learned in the teachings of bhakti and he is deeply devoted to kirtan. One can always witness and experience the most amazing things at his kirtans, not just occasionally, but every evening. Here’s one example. It’s a fifteen minute recording that starts slow and gradually builds. The rhythms may feel unfamiliar at first, but if you relax and give it a little time I think you’ll find a special treasure here.

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Aindra Das Kirtan
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Related Posts: PODCAST: As Kindred Spirits

Aindra Kirtan

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Mukunda-Mala-Stotra

Dravida dasa chants *

*

Dravida dasa is a Vaishnava monk, editor, musician, poet, and walking encyclopedia of devotional Sanskrit verse. He possesses a deep love for the Sanskrit language, and his mind and voice are always engaged in bhakti song and poetry. Here he immerses himself in the elaborate prosody of the Mukunda-mala-stotra of Kulasekhara Alvar. This podcast is forty-five minutes long with Sanskrit verses and English translation. I highly recommend setting some time aside, putting in the earphones and listening to the entire stotra with concentration for a very cathartic meditation. The translation is by Sriman Kushakrata dasa. Below, I’ve also included an excerpt from the introduction to the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust’s edition entitled Mukunda-mala-stotra, The prayers of King Kulasekhara. For more recordings from Dravida dasa click here.

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Mukunda-mala-stotra
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Mukunda-mala-stotra

Introduction

Of the many hundreds of poetic Sanskrit stotras-songs of glorification offered to the Supreme Lord, His devotees, and the holy places of His pastimes-King Kulasekhara’s Mukunda-mala-stotra is one of the most perennially famous. Some say that its author conceived it as a garland (mala) of verses offered for Lord Krishna’s pleasure. It has long been dear to Vaishnavas of all schools, and our own spiritual master, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, frequently enjoyed citing certain favorite stanzas from it. King Kulasekhara was part of the Sri-sampradaya, the Vaishnava school founded by Lord Vishnu’s divine consort, Sri. This school’s most prominent representative, Ramanuja Acarya (eleventh century), built on the work of his predecessors Natha Muni and Yamuna Acarya and established the systematic philosophy of Sri Vaishnavism. But these acaryas came in an already old tradition, that of the ecstatic mystic poets called Alvars. The twelve Alvars appeared at various times in South India, in the area roughly corresponding to present-day Tamil Nadu. According to the tradition of the Sri Vaishnavas, the earliest Alvars lived more than five thousand years ago, at the start of the present age, Kali-yuga, while the most recent lived in the first millennium A.D. The Alvars’ Tamil poetry was collected in the Tiruvaymoli, revered by Sri Vaishnavas as their own vernacular Veda. On the strength of the Tiruvaymoli’s devotional authority, the Sri Vaishnavas claim to follow Ubhaya-vedanta, the dual Vedanta philosophy founded on both Sanskrit and Tamil scripture. Some Alvars were atypical renunciants: the third, Andal, was a woman, and three were involved in governing. Among these was the tenth Alvar, Kulasekhara Perumal, who was a ruling king in the Cera dynasty of Malainadu, in what is now Kerala. Modern scholars say he may have lived during the ninth century A.D. A traditional history of King Kulasekhara states that once, as he slept in his palace quarters, he had a brilliant and distinct vision of Lord Krishna. Upon awaking he fell into a devotional trance and failed to notice dawn breaking. The royal musicians and ministers came as usual to his door to wake him, but after waiting some time without hearing him respond, they reluctantly took the liberty of entering his room. The king came out of his trance and described his vision to them, and from that day on he no longer took much interest in ruling. He delegated most of his responsibilities to his ministers and dedicated himself to rendering devotional service to the Lord. After some years he abdicated the throne and went to Sri Rangam, where he remained in the association of the Krishna Deity of Ranganatha and His many exalted devotees. At Sri Rangam Kulasekhara is said to have composed his two great works: the Mukunda-mala-stotra, in Sanskrit; and 105 Tamil hymns, which were later incorporated into the Tiruvaymoli under the title Perumal-tirumoli. As the other Alvars do in their mystic expressions, in his Perumal-tirumoli King Kulasekhara emulates the roles of some of Lord Ramacandra’s and Lord Krishna’s intimate devotees: King Dasaratha; two of the Lord’s mothers, Kausalya and Devaki; and some of the young cowherd women of Vrindavana. But Maharaja Kulasekhara expresses no pride in realizing such confidential devotional moods. On the contrary, with deep humility he repeatedly begs simply to be allowed to take his next births as a bird, fish, or flower in the place where Lord Krishna enacts His pastimes, and in this way to enjoy the association of His devotees. The Mukunda-mala-stotra, although composed in elegant Sanskrit, is a simple expression of King Kulasekhara’s devotion to Krishna and his eagerness to share his good fortune with everyone else. Being thus a very public work, it does not delve into intimate personal revelations or abstruse philosophical conundrums. Like most other works of the stotra genre, it aims less at presenting a plot than at vividly and honestly expressing the true feelings of a lover of God. With this much we the readers should be completely satisfied, because it is a rare opportunity for us when a devotee of King Kulasekhara’s stature opens his heart so freely-and in a way just appropriate for us, with all our imperfections, to appreciate.

Text from Mukunda-mala-stotra, The prayers of King Kulasekhara, courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International, Inc. Used with permission.

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PODCAST: As Kindred Spirits

AKS cover

He Gopal (Yasomatinandana)
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From the CD Nectar of Devotion, Hey Gopal (Yasomati-nandana)

On this track As Kindred Spirits blend the traditional chant “Krishna, Govinda, Govinda, Gopal, Nandulal” with the bhajan Sri Nama Kirtan (Yasomati-Nandana) composed by Vaishnava theologian and songwriter Bhaktivinode Thakura. In Sri Nama Kirtan Bhaktivinode Thakura employs a lyrical device wherein nearly the entire song consists of Krishna’s names, each of which serve to rouse remembrance or meditation of the Lords many lilas (pastimes). You can find the translation below.

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From the CD’s liner notes:

“Adapted from a melody performed at the world famous Radha Ramana Temple in Vrindavan, this song is composed of names of Lord Sri Krishna. Vaisnavas love to sing the names of Krishna – amala harinam amiya-vilasa. ‘These pure, holy names of Lord Hari (Krishna) are full of sweet, nectarean pastimes.’ If you know what to listen for, you’ll also hear a riff from one of the sweetest devotional Indian movies ever made, called, Sita Swayamvara.”

More Information on As Kindred Spirits

Purchase the CD

Gaura Vani: Lead vocal, Harmonium arrangements and recording engineer
Sandeep Mody: Tabla, Sarod, Violin, arrangements, and backing vocals.

Sridhama, Bhakti, Tuka, Radhika, Ani, Rombhoru, Ketu, Radha Madhava, Nandu, Sunanda, Jayananda, Jagannath Chandan, Bali, Mitrasena, Shyam, Sita and Krpa: All vocal and instrumental accompaniment.

Bada Haridas, Bhakta Jim Sater: Sound mastering, mixing, and additional technical assistance.

Sri Nama-Kirtana

(by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura)

(1)
yashomati-nandana, braja-baro-nagara
gokula-ranjana kana
gopi-parana-dhana, madana-manohara
kaliya-damana-vidhana

(2)
amala harinam amiya-vilasa
vipina-purandara, navina nagara-bora
bamshi-badana suvasa

(3)
braja-jana-palana, asura-kula-nashana
nanda-godhana-rakhowala
govinda madhava, navanita-taskara
sundara nanda-gopala

(4)
jamuna-tata-chara, gopi-basana-hara
rasa-rasika kripamoya
shri-radha-vallabha, brindabana-natabara
bhakativinod-ashraya

Translation

(1) Krishna is the beloved son of Mother Yashoda; the transcendental lover in the land of Vraja; the delight of Gokula; Kana [a nickname of Krishna]; the wealth of the lives of the gopis. He steals the mind of even Cupid and punishes the serpent Kaliya.

(2) These pure, holy names of Lord Hari are full of sweet, nectarean pastimes. Krishna is the Lord of the twelve forests of Vraja. He is ever-youthful and is the best of lovers. He is always playing on a flute, and He is an excellent dresser.

(3) Krishna is the protector of the inhabitants of Vraja; the destroyer of various demoniac dynasties; the keeper and tender of Nanda Maharaja’s cows; the giver of pleasure to the cows, land, and spiritual senses; the husband of the goddess of fortune; the butter thief; and the beautiful cowherd boy of Nanda Maharaja.

(4) Krishna wanders along the banks of the River Yamuna. He stole the garments of the young damsels of Vraja who were bathing there. He delights in the mellows of the rasa dance; He is very merciful; the lover and beloved of Shrimati Radharani; the great dancer of Vrindavana; and the shelter and only refuge of Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

Related Posts: An Expression of Conviction in Bhakti


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Prayers to Govardhan

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Sri Govardhana-Vasa-Prarthana-Dasakam
Ten Prayers for Residence at Sri Govardhan

Mexican architect Luis Barragan defined architecture as an art wherein one “creates aesthetic emotion in the atmosphere and when this environment produces well being.” By this definition, Govardhan Hill can be seen as the central architectural feature of the divine landscape of Vrindavan. Its fourteen mile circumference crowded with holy sites, Govardhan is a literal mountain of aesthetic stimuli for meditation on Krishna’s lila (divine play). For centuries it has remained the desired place of residence and pilgrimage for Krishna devotees.

Composed by the 16th century Chaitanya Vaisnava saint, Raghunath das Goswami, Sri Govardhana-Vasa-Prarthana-Dasakam is a poetic meditation on Govardhana Hill as the premier servant of Krishna lila, as well as a call for grace, via the refrain “nija-nikita-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam”, “O Govardhana, please grant me residence near your side”.

Govardhana is seen as unique by Krishna devotees, being both a direct manifestation of God, as well as a servant of divine lila by providing a variety of idyllic environments just suited for the eternal soul’s loving union with the supreme deity.

In his book, Dance of Divine Love, Graham M. Schweig notes, “The special nature of lila is both playful and didactic. Although lila is for the pleasure of Krishna and His devotees, and everything that occurs in lila contributes to the delight and celebration of supreme love and beauty, there are aspects that also instruct those who have yet to enter into it’s esoteric domain.” Similarly, Raghunath das Goswami’s prayer not only celebrates Krishna’s divine play but also frames it as both a focal point of meditation and a model of servitude for the bhakti-yogi. Simultaneously, Raghunath das points to Govardhan as the ideal setting for sadhana (spiritual practice) for those with the aim of direct perception of Krishna lila as the Ultimate Reality.

Sri Govardhana-Vasa-Prarthana-Dasakam is composed in the meter known as malini, having fifteen syllables per quarter, and is sung here by Nityananda das, a student at the Srimad-Bhagavata Vidyapitam, the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust’s Sanskrit school at the foot of Govardhana Hill.

Below, find the Sanskrit transliteration and English translation for the ten verses and an eleventh verse which serves as the phala shruti, (fruit or boon of hearing).

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Sri Govardhana-Vasa-Prarthana-Dasakam
Ten Prayers for Residence at Sri Govardhan


1.
nija-pati bhuja dandacchatra-bhavam prapadya
prati-hata madadhrishtod-danda-devendra-garva
atula-prithula-saila-sreni-bhupa! priyam menija-nikata
-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! You became the umbrella which was held by the arm of your own Lord Krsna! In this way Sri Krsna diminished Indra, the king of the demigods, who was intoxicated by great pride. You are the incomparable king of all the big mountains, please allow me to live close by you.

2.
pramada-madana-lilah kandare kandare te
racayati nava-yunor-dvandvam asminn-amandam
iti kila kalanartham lagna-kastad-dvayor me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! The young Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, play splendid wild loving games in your every cave, so I became very eager to see Them there. Please allow me to live close by you.

3.
anupama-mangi-vedi-ratna-simhasanorvi-
ruhajhara-darasanudroni-sangheshu-rangaih
saha bala-sakhibhih sangkhelayan sva-priyam me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! In topmost joy Krsna plays together with Balarama and the cowherd boys in your incomparable jeweled pavilions and thrones, in the hollows of your trees, in your caves, and valleys. Please allow me to live close by you!

4.
rasa-nidhi-nava-yunoh sakshinim dana-keler-
dyuti-parimala-viddham syama-vedim prakasya
rasika-vara-kulanam modam asphalayan me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! You are the witness of Radha and Krsna’s tax game (In which Krsna charges tax from the ghee the gopis carry on their heads) which is an ocean of mellows. You increase the joy of the mellows of the devotees with your display of bluish platforms that are full of splendour and fragrance. Please allow me to live close by you!

5.
hari dayitam apurvam radhika-kundam atma-
priya-sakham iha kanthe narmana ‘lingya guptah
nava-yuva-yuga-khelas-tatra pasyan raho me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! You affectionately and secretly embrace the neck of your own dear friend, Sri Radha Kunda, the place which is very dear to you and Lord Hari. Please allow me to live close by you and show me the intimate pastimes of the Divine Young Couple there!

6.
sthala-jala-tala-sashpair-bhuruhacchayaya cha
prati-padam anukalam hanta samvardhayan gah
tri-jagati nija-gotram sarthakam khyapayan me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! You make your name, “nourisher of cows”, successful by constantly giving land, water, grass and the shade of your trees to the cows and thus you are famous in the three worlds. Please allow me to live close by you!

7.
sura-pati-krita-dirgha-drohato goshtha-raksham
tava nava griha-rupasy antare kurvataiva
agha-baka-ripunoccair-dattamana! drutam me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! Your glories are increased by the enemy of Aghasura and Bakasura, Sri Krsna, when He protected the Vrajavasis and vanquished Indra by quickly using you as their new shelter from the rain. Please allow me to live close by you.!

8.
giri-nripa! haridasa-sreni-varyeti-nama-
mritam idam uditam sri-radhika-vaktra-candrat
vraja-nava-tilakatve klripta ! vedaih sphutam me
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! King of mountains! Because the nectar of your name as Hari’s best servant emanated from Srimati Radharani’s pearl-like mouth, which was revealed by Vedic scriptures like Srimad Bhagavatam (10.21.18), you are called the new tilaka (because of your long thin bluish shape at the edge of Vraja) of Vraja. Please allow me to live close by you.

9.
nija-janayuta-radha-krishna-maitri-rasakta-
vraja-nara-pasu-pakshi vrata-saukhyaika-datah
aganita-karunatvan-mam uri-kritya tantam
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! Tvam

O Govardhana! You are the only giver of joy to Sri Sri Radha Krsna and Their associates, that are always surrounded by the people, animals and birds of Vraja in the mood of friendship. Please mercifully accept me and allow me to live close by you.

10.
nirupadhi-karunena sri-sachi-nandanena
tayi kapati-satho ‘pi tvat-priyenarpito ‘smi
iti khalu mama yogyayogyatam tamagrihnan
nija-nikata-nivasam dehi govardhana! tvam

O Govardhana! Although I am vile and deceitful, the causelessly merciful Sri Sacinandana(Sri Chaitanya) submitted me to you. Therefore, do not consider whether I am qualified or unqualified and accept me. Allow me please to live close by you.

11.
rasada-dasakam-asya srila-govardhanasya
kshiti-dhara-kula-bhartur-yahprayatnadadhite
sa sapadi sukhade ‘smin vasamasadya sakshach-
chhubhada-yugala-seva-ratnam apnoti turnam

Anyone who carefully recites these ten verses praising the king of mountains Srila Govardhana, the giver of divine mellows, will swiftly attain a place to live close by Govardhana, the bestower of bliss, and he will attain the precious jewel of the auspicious loving service of the Divine Couple, Sri Sri Radha Krsna.

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