Banke Bihari Temple
|Banke Bihari Temple|
Banke Bihari Temple Main Gate
|Devanagari:||बांके बिहारी मंदिर, वृंदावन|
|Elevation:||169.77 m (557 ft)|
|Primary Deity:||Banke Bihari Ji|
|Architecture and culture|
Banke Bihari Mandir is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, in the holy city of Vrindavan in the Mathura district. Banke Bihari was originally worshiped at Nidhivana. Banke means “bent in three places” and bihari means “supreme enjoyer.” The image of Lord Krishna stands in the Tribhanga posture. Haridas Swami originally worshipped this devotional image under the name of Kunj-bihari ("Enjoyer of Lakes").
'Bānke' means 'bent', and 'Bihāri' or 'Vihāri' means 'enjoyer'. This is how Kṛṣṇa, who is bent in three places, got the name "Bānke Bihāri". According to Śrī Brahmasaḿhitā (verse 5.31), Brahma says the following about Kṛṣṇa:
"I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, round whose neck is swinging a garland of flowers beautified with the moon-locket, whose two hands are adorned with the flute and jeweled ornaments, who always revels in pastimes of love, whose graceful threefold-bending form of Śyāmasundara is eternally manifest." 
This Banke Bihari Temple was established by Swami Haridas, a guru of the famous singer Tansen (Lalita Sakhi in Dvapara Yuga). Once, during the Mughal conquest, a Hindu priest had a murti of Lord Krishna. Fearing that the image could get into the hands of the Mughals and be destroyed, he buried it. After some days, Swami Haridas, a great devotee of Lord Krishna, was passing by through the area where the image of Lord Krishna was buried. Becoming tired, he decided to rest there and soon fell asleep. In a dream, he saw Lord Krishna telling him that his image was buried near where he was sleeping and asked him to start digging. Upon waking, Swami Haridas dug the ground in the area Lord Krishna had indicated and found the image. He then enshrined the image in what is now the Banke Bihari Temple. Apart from the image treasured at the Banke Bihari Temple, the idol's body is half-male and half-female, i.e. the Right side is Krishna and the Left side is Radha. It is believed that Swami Shree Hari Das, by praising and singing hymns in the form of ragas called Bhajans, asked God to be united and be present in the form of Banke Bihari in this Yuga in Nidhivan in Vrindavan. This is evident from the saying "Kunj Bihari Shree Hari Dass Vitthal Vipul Biharan Dass Mohe mile Nidhivan Vaas".
History of Bankey Bihari Ji
The image of Bihariji installed in the Shri Banke Bihari Mandir, is the one granted to Swami Haridas by the celestial couple Shyama-Shyam themselves. Submitting to the desire of devotees The Lord appeared in person with his divine consort and left back a black charming image before disappearing.
Swami Haridas was born to Shri Ashudhir and his wife Smt. Gangadevi on the day of Radha Ashtami i.e. eighth day of second (bright) fortnight of Bhadrapad month of the year 1535 Vikrami(1478 A.D.). He was born in a small village, now known as Haridaspur, near Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh. The linage of the family can be traced back to Shri Gargacharya. Shri Gargachrya was the Kulaguru (family guru) of Yadavas and visited Brij secretly for conducting the Namakarana Samskara (naming ceremony) of young Krishna and Balarama on request of Sri Vasudeva. A branch of the family migrated to Multan (now in Pakistan), but some of them returned after a long time. Sri Ashudhir was one such migrant who after returning from Multan settled at the outskirts of Brij, near Aligarh.
Swami Haridas was the reincarnation of Lalita ‘sakhi’ (female friend), of the inner consortium of Lord Krishna. This easily explains the fact that even in his childhood, he was more into meditation and scriptures, while other children of his age were busy playing. He was married at the suitable age according to the time to Harimati. Even after his marriage, young Haridas stayed away from worldly pleasures and concentrated on meditation. Harimatiji was such a saintly soul herself that on realizing the inclination of her husband, she prayed intensely and was bodily transported to the heavenly abode of Lord by entering the flame of a small lamp in the presence of Haridas. No physical remains were left behind.
Soon after that Haridas left his village for Vrindavan, which was a dense forest at that time and chose a secluded spot, which is now known as Nidhivan, to practice his music and to enjoy eternal bliss of meditation. He constantly and continuously meditated on Nitya Ras and Nitya Bihar of Lord at Nitya Vrindavan. His way of Sadhna was to compose and sing songs in the praise of Lord. While on earth, living in a mortal state, he facilitated his regular unobstructed entry in the Nitya Bihar and always enjoyed the pleasure of closeness of Lord. He chose a secluded and densely forested area, Kunj, in Nidhivan as his gateway to the nirvana and was mostly sitting there, singing, meditating and surfing in the ocean of eternal bliss.
His disciples were curious about this place and one day with permission of Swamiji, they all entered the kunj. But instead of seeing anything they were almost blinded by bright, intense light, which seemed to fill the whole place. On knowing of their plight Swamiji himself went there, and then after his requests, the lord appeared in person with his divine consort, pleasantly smiling and in a playful mood and casting a spell of charm on every living being present there. Those who witnessed this, were so spell bounded by the beauty of the Lord and his consort, that they couldn't even blink their eyes; it seemed that all of them had turned into stone statues.
The legend as handed down to the generations of Goswamis, says that the beauty of the divine couple was such that no one wanted to lose the sight and proximity of divinity, but then what kind of divinity is it, which cannot make a mere mortal swoon and charmed enough to forget and give up the world and its luxuries? The beauty of the divine couple was so much that lesser mortals, like you and me, won’t be able to bear such a heavenly beauty. Sensing this Swami Haridasji requested both of them to take a single form, as the world won’t be able to bear their image. He requested them to take a single form like Ghan (cloud) and Damini (lightning), thus giving a perfect metaphor to the combined beauty of dark Lord and his fair consort, Radhaji.
Also he wanted his beloved lord to be in front of his eyes always. Granting him his both wishes, the couple turned itself into one single black charming idol, the same one that you see in the temple today. The charm and beauty of Shri Banke Bihariji is the only reason why the ‘darshan’ in the temple is never continuous but is broken by thel curtain drawn on him regularly. It is also said that if one stares long enough into the eyes of Shri Banke Bihariji, the person would lose his self-consciousness.
Thus came into existence the physical form of Lord Banke Bihari, popularly know as Bihariji. The responsibility of Sewa of Bihariji was handed over to Goswami Jagannath by Swamiji himself. Goswami Jagannath was one of the principal disciple and younger brother of Swamiji. By tradition, the Sewa is performed by descendents of Jagannath Goswami till day.
Initially, the deity was installed in a temple close to the first appearance in Nidhivan. A new temple befitting the glory of Bihariji was constructed in 1862 AD. Goswamis themselves mobilized resources for the construction. The temple is an architectural beauty in itself and follows the contemporary Rajasthani style.
The sewa of the Bihariji is unique in its own way. It is performed in three parts every day i.e. Shringar, Rajbhog and Shayan. While shringar (which includes bath, dressing and adornment with jewellery like crown and necklaces) and Rajbhog(feast) is offered in the forenoon, Shayan Sewa (shayan means sleep) is offered in the evening. The temple doesn’t have a tradition of Mangala (early morning) sewa. Swami Haridas did not favour Mangla Sewa as he wanted his child like Lord to take complete rest and did not want to disturb him out of deep slumber so early in the morning.
So, the temple today stands with its full glory, inside which the Lord himself resides. It is thronged by thousands of visitors everyday.
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During Jhulan Yatra, the swing festival of Lord Krishna, there are a number of silver-plated and some solid silver ornamented swings, which are shown at this time. The main day of Jhulan Yatra is the third day of the waxing moon, at which time Banke Bihari is placed on a golden swing (hindola). The curtain before the Deities is not left open like at other temples. Every few minutes, the curtain is pulled shut and then opened again. It is said that the brilliant eyes of Banke Bihari will make one unconscious if seen for too long a stretch. It is the only temple where loud temple bells are not used to wake Krishna in the morning. It is believed improper to wake a child with a start. He is woken gently. There are thus no bells even for Aarti, as it might disturb Him.
The Deities do not get up until 9 am, because it is believed that Banke Bihari has been up until late at night sporting. Mangala-arati is only one day a year in this temple, on Janmasthami. Only one day a year can the lotus feet of the Deity be seen, on Akshaya Tritiya (Chandan Darshan or Dolotsav), on the third day of the bright half of the month of Vaishaka (April–May). The autumn full moon day is the only day that the Deity holds a flute, and also on this day He wears a special mukut (crown). Banke Bihari comes off his altar and can be seen in full view on the last five days of the month of Phalguna, during the Holi festival. He can be seen with four gopis, who are seen just at this time.
- Summers: The temple opens around 7 am and aarti happens between 7:45 and 8:00am. Darshan is at 12 noon and in evening 5:30 to 9:30 pm.
- Winter: Darshan is 8:45 am to 1 pm, 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm, and all the time in your heart.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Banke Bihari Temple.|
- Website, Sri Banke Bihari. "Sri Bankebihari website". www.bihariji.org. Retrieved 01-03-2012.
- Sharma, Anisha. "Shree Banke Bihari ji Maharaj, vrindavan Prince of Vrindavan: Shree Banke Bihari ji Maharaj". AnandWay.com. Retrieved 16 July 2011.
All the affairs of the Temple are under the supervision of Shi Thakur Banke Bihari Ji Management Committee & Court of Civil Judge JD Mathura Official website