The sacred land of Braj is a unique place on the planet that has been glorified for thousands of years in various Vedic Scriptures. Despite its sublime significance, the dham has suffered the scourge of different invaders throughout history. These records are presented below in order to draw the historical panorama that has led Braj Mandal to its current state.
Brief historical background of the Dham
Five thousand years ago Lord Krishna appeared on Earth with His most beloved associates. Back then, the sweet atmosphere of Braj Mandal Dham was disturbed by different asuras who sought to annihilate the Lord. One by one they were eliminated by the Lord himself and were even liberated from their evil qualities. After the departure of the Lord to the spiritual world, the area of Braj Mandal was gradually forgotten; years later Buddhism took hold in the area, mainly in the city of Mathura (1st–6th century AD).
Some hundreds of years ago, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Braj-Vrindavan and identified the sacred sites of Sri Krishna’s pastimes which had been hidden due to the passage of time. The six Gosvamis of Vrindavan, disciples of Sri Chaitanya, established the worship of Sri Krishna deities and built temples in his honor. So did Sri Vallabhacharya Prabhuji and Sri Swami Haridasji.
Later, in the times of Moghul imperialism, the area of Braj Mandal, situated between the major cities of Delhi and Agra, was strongly affected by the exploitation and destruction by the invaders. Many temples and sacred sites were destroyed at the time. Years later, the British colonialism made its appearance in India and Braj-Vrindavan also suffered from looting and attempted dogmatic Christianization.
Despite the various disturbances Braj Mandal suffered during the years, kings from different states of India arrived there with their subjects to establish temples of worship to Lord Krishna. At that time, they also began to organize pilgrimage trips to different sacred sites of Braj-Vrindavan.
In 1947, India became independent of British rule and began a new phase of government where political leaders were not primarily interested in the cultural protection of the ancient Vedic heritage. Instead, they took away the powers from the traditional kings and with them many architectural jewels that had been built in Braj-Vrindavan to worship Lord Krishna, were devalued and practically forgotten.
Nowadays in Braj-Vrindavan
In recent years, the worst of all invaders made its appearance: plastic. Almost imperceptibly and without the inhabitants of the dham realizing it. The daily routine of worshiping the Lord began to be contaminated by impure and environmentally toxic elements. The Brijvasis, accustomed to a simple life in the country where the items used for daily survival were completely organic and biodegradable, began using plastic cups, plastic bags, plastic plates, etc. They do it without understanding that those new items would not be eaten by animals and they would not degrade in a few days, as it was the case with leaf plates, cups and other clay utensils they used to occupy daily.
Very quickly, the streets of the different villages of Braj (especially Vrindavan) were crowded with non-degradable plastic trash, drains clogged with the same rubbish. Animals became sick due to the ingestion of toxic products, the sacred Yamuna river got poisoned by plastic waste flowing into its banks, the sacred mountains contaminated by excess waste and children and the elderly sick due to the breathing of contaminated air from the burning of plastic waste.
The expansion of the glories of Braj-Vrindavan around the western world through holy men of different sampradayas (such as Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami) allowed many lovers of the wonderful Vedic culture to direct their gaze to this place. Unfortunately, along with the increased flow of foreign pilgrims, mafia groups of illegal land sales also increased, which caused an explosive rise in the valuation of the land for construction. Today, hundreds of buildings, lodgings and villas are built to receive pilgrims and tourists without any environmental consideration.
Despite all the issues at the Dham
Even after hundreds of years of looting, destruction and pollution, the dham is still shining on the horizon of spiritual seekers as a jewel that captivates the heart of every visitor. However, the time has come where both locals, pilgrims, as well as local and central governments join forces to protect this wonderful sacred site and grant the protected status it truly deserves. Our intention is to spread the current status in all possible ways in order to protect the valuable cultural heritage of Braj Mandal.
Only by employing all the resources we all have at our disposal to protect the dham would we be approaching its essence. We need your support in the process of restoration of Braj Mandal as a place of spiritual hope for the entire planet! Let’s help Braj-Vrindavan recover from the attacks of invaders!
When modernism hits India
The main cause of our problems is the modern lifestyle and specially the contamination of the rural area by:
• Artificial fertilizers, the contamination of rivers because of the industrial waste water entering them.
• The independence of India which took away the power from the kings who used to maintain their territories.
• Vrindavan‘s glory is largely due to the main constructions therein. But nowadays there is no more interest in taking care of the public view of palatial buildings that individuals could no longer maintain.
• Modern age influence, where everything is becoming more materialistic with people trying to keep up with a consumer society.
Before, plastic was not a problem of Vrindavan, everything including cups and plates were made of recycled materials, like leafs or clay. When the cheap plastic cups and plates appeared, people initially did not realize what was happening and did not take in consideration what this was creating– they just thought: “it’s cheaper so it’s better!”
Afterwards, only a few realized that the system was choking because of these items. And like these, there are many other examples that could be given about materialism having important secondary effects. Now we see cars everywhere and we can’t move around because we are all stuck in the traffic. We also have a very fine shampoo, but some of them are not biodegradable and are polluting the rivers. The worst thing is that we are not aware that we are offending the sacred places of Lord Krishna and Bhūmi-Devī herself.
So there is an urgent need for all of us to become part of the solution by cleaning our own act or by helping whoever is cleaning. It is very simple, we are not going to feel happy and neither will you, if we don’t start acting with consciousness, so please we request all of you to help us with this call of Vrindavan Act Now!
Inform everybody today, not tomorrow!