Uttar Pradesh • India
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
• 170 m (558 ft)
Vrindavan (alternate spellings Vrindaban or Brindavan or Brundavan), or Vraj in Mathura district, Uttar Pradesh, India, is a town on the site of an ancient forest believed to have been the region where the famous cowherd boy, Krishna, from Hindu scriptures spent his childhood days. It lies in the Braj region fifteen kilometers from Mathura city (said to be Krishna's birthplace), near the Agra-Delhi highway. In the past, Vrindavan had the most beautiful of forests in India (Kalidas). During past 250 years it has been subjected to urbanization first by local Rajas and in recent decades by apartment building developers. As of 2008, forest in the area have become meager and the local wildlife, including peacocks, cows, monkeys, and a variety of bird species have been greatly reduced and in danger of extinction. A few Peacocks and many monkeys range freely but cows mainly inhabit the gosalas of all the major Ashrams of Vrindavan.
Although all branches of Hinduism consider Vrindavan sacred, Vaisnavisisim stands as the major Hindu branch, serving as the center of Krishna worship. Millions of Radha Krishna devotees make a pilgrimage annually to Vrindavan, participating in festivals enacting episodes from the life of Krishna. The town includes many hundreds of temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna, considered sacred by numerous religious traditions including Gaudiya Vaishnavism, Vaishnavism, and Hinduism in general. The foremost temples include the Madan Mohan Temple, Banke Bihari Temple, Radha Vallabh Temple, Jaipur Temple, Sri Radha Raman Mandir, Shahji Temple, Rangaji Temple, Govind Deo (Govindaji) Temple, Sri Krishna-Balrama Temple, and Radha Damodar Mandir Temple. Vrindavan has received the name "City of Widows" for the unsavory practice of abandoned widows seeking to survive on its streets.
The ancient name of the city, "Brindaban," had been named after its ancient groves of "Brinda," Ocimum tenuiflorum, or Tulsi, with ban meaning a grove or a forest. Two small groves still exist, Nidhivan and Seva kunj Vrindavan has played an important part in Hindu folklore since ancient time and serves as a sacred Hindu pilgrimage site. One of its oldest surviving temples, the Govind Deo temple, had been built in 1590 with Brindaban becoming Vrindavan earlier in the same century.
All traditions of Hinduism consider Vrindavan a holy site. Vaisnavisisim constitutes the major tradition followed in Vrindavan which serves as a center of learning with many Ashrams. It serves as a center of Krishna worship, with places like Govardhana and Gokula associated with Krishna from the beginnings of Hinduism. Many millions of bhaktas, or devotees of Radha Krishna, make pilgrimage every year and participate in a number of festivals that relate to the scenes from Krishna's life.
According to tradition and extant records, Krishna was raised in the cowherding village of Gokul by his foster parents Nanda Maharaj and Yasoda. The Bhagavata Purana describes Krishna's early childhood pastimes in Vrindavan forest wherein he, his brother Balarama, and his cowherd friends stole butter, engaged in childhood pranks and fought with demons. Along with those activities, Krishna has been described meeting and dancing with the local girls of Vrindavan village (and especially Radharani) known as gopis. Those pastimes were the source of inspiration for the famous Sanskrit poem, Gita Govinda, by the Orissan poet, Jayadeva (c. 1200 C.E.).
The most popular temples include:
Other sacred sites include Seva Kunj, Sri Kathia Baba Ka Sthan, Kesi Ghat, Sriji Temple, Jugal Kishore Temple, Lal Babu Temple, Raj Ghat, Kusuma Sarovar, Meera-Bai Temple, Imli Tal, Kaliya Ghat, Raman Reti, Varaha Ghat and Chira Ghat, and across the river, a short boat-ride away sits the samadhi shrine of Devraha Baba, a revered saint of the last century.
The Seva Kunj marks the place where Lord Krishna once performed the Raaslila with Radha-Rani and the gopis and Nidhi Van where the divine couple rested. The samadhi of , the guru of Tansen, is located on site. Renowned musicians of India take part in Swami Haridas Sammelan, an annual event in honor of Swami Haridas.
As of 2001 India census, Vrindavan had a population of 56,618. Males constitute fifty six percent of the population and females forty four percent. Vrindavan has an average literacy rate of sixty five percent, higher than the national average of fifty nine and one-half percent: Male literacy is seventy three percent, and female literacy is fifty five percent. In Vrindavan, thirteen percent of the population is under six years of age. The number of females is 24,200 including thirteen percent who are under six years of age.
Vrindavan is also known as the City of Widows due to the large number of widows who move into the town and surrounding area after losing their husbands. According to some Hindu traditions, upper-caste widows may not remarry, so many of those abandoned by their families on the death of their husband make their way here. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 widows live in the streets, many of whom have spent over thirty years there. In exchange for singing bhajan hymns for seven to eight hours in bhajanashrams,', women receive a cup of rice and a pittance of money (around Rs.10), which they try to supplement by begging on the streets or in some instances, even through prostitution. An organization called Guild of Service assists those deprived women and children. In 2000, the organization opened Amar Bari (My Home), a refuge for 120 Vrindavan widows, and a second shelter for 500 widows is expected to open.
This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
All external links retrieved January 25, 2016.
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