One of the most popular events in the holy town of Vrindavan,India
- where Lord Krishna appeared 5,000 years ago - is the celebration
of Jhulan Yatra, the Radha-Krishnaswingfestival. In Vrindavan among
the local villagers and inhabitantsthis festival lasts for 13 days.
In Vrindavan this is one of thebiggest festivals of the year and
Vrindavana is very crowded atthis time, literally hundreds of
thousands of people fromsurrounding towns and villages visit
Vrindavan over this period inthe auspicious sacred month of
Shravana (July-Aug). Opulence orsimplicity, but often the swings
are made of gold or silver.
In Sri Vrindavan for five days, in many of the 5000 temples
there,the small Utsav-vighraha functional Deities (Vijay-utsav
bera) aretaken from the altar and placed on an elaborately
decorated swingin the temple room. After receiving the traditional
arati worship,the Deities are pushed on Their swing. Membersof the
congregationare invited to participate. Each person offers flower
petals andpersonal prayers, and then pushes the swing several times
as theother members chant Hare Krishna, Jaya Radhe Jaya
KrishnajayaVrindavan, or Jaya Radhe, Jaya Jaya Madhava dayite in
kirtan. Theatmosphere of this festival is especially sweet as
everyone has thechance to intimately serve Radha and Krishna.
The same festival is observed in other parts of India too in
thissacred month of Shravana. For example in Jagannath Puri, for
thepleasure of Lord Jagannath's utsav vighraha (Madan-mohan ji,
thisfestival is celebrated from Shravana Shukla Dashami
(10thTithi/phase of the Moon of the light fortnight) until
Pratipada(1st tithi of the dark), a period of seven days. Sri
Madanmohan,Jagannath's representative deity (vijay utsav), as well
as Laxmiand Vishwadhatri are placed on a decorative wooden swing
onMuktimandap (Jhulanmandap). There, worshippers have a chance
toswing the Lord, thus entering into His pastimes. On the day of
thefull moon (Gamha Purnima or Jhulan Purnima), Lord
Balabhadra'sappearance day is celebrated.
In Vrindavan it starts on the Tritya (third day) of the
brightfortnight of Shravana and lasts until the full moon night of
themonth. During this festival the Radha-Krishna Deities in
thetemples are swung on aswing. Some of the main temples that
thisfestival is celebrated at are the Banke Bihari Temple and
theRadha-Raman Temple in Vrindavana, the Dwarkadish temple in
Mathura,and the Larily Lal Temple in Varsana.
In our Iskcon temples we observe for five days in accordance
withSrila Prabhupada's instructions. So whether one observes for
thefour days or for the seven, or thirteen days, the same festival
isput on for the pleasure of the Lord and His loving
This is a wonderful ceremonial function of Lord Krishna's
pastimesthat reflects practically how we are to render service to
the Lordfor His pleasure.
At the time of the Jhulan Yatra festival it is Monsoon in India
andthe air is thick, heavy and humid with the heat and the rains.
Inthe midst of the rainy season, when fields and jungle have
turnedshades of lush green and flowers are blossoming all around,
thefestival of Hariyali Teej is celebrated.
These festivals are not in any way mere rituals, as they all
havepractical service functionality to invoke loving servitude of
thedevotees for the Lord. Lord Sri Krishna is the Supreme enjoyer
anddoesn't have to work hard like us in this world. Everything He
doesis pleasurable, and He organises many situation in which He
canincorporate us, His separated parts and parcels into His
lovingservice which is our natural condition in the spiritual
When Sri Krishna had his pastimes in rural Vrindavan with
Hiscowherd friends together they lovingly tended the cows,
andwandered in the pastures playing, frolicking, and
feasting.Throughout the various seasons they all continuously
enjoyed beingpart of Sri Krishna's pastimes, and rendering loving
service to Himas best they could.
Over the past few months as the climate had changed from
VasantPanchami (Spring festival) where everyone dresses in yellow
andgoes to the fields, performs fertility rites, and plants new
crops,etc.) to Dola Purnima where scented powders and flowers are
thrownon the body of the Lord playfully, and singing and dancing
goes onfor His pleasure. Similarly all the other different
festivals wereobserved where the friends of Lord Krishna would look
after Hisexpress comforts or pleasure, go to the forest with Him,
serve Himand have fun.
As the temperature rises toward Summer the Chandan Yatra
isperformed where from the Akshaya Tritiya for a period of 21
daysthe body of the Lord is anointed with scented sandalwood mixed
withcamphor, musk, saffron. As the sandalwood is applied to the
body itimmediately cools, but then there is a natural cycle that
alsofollows with the heat naturally there is some perspiration, and
asthe perspiration again mixes with the sandalwood it is dried
andcooled by even the slightest breeze creating a pleasant
feelinglike being covered with Talcum powder.
However, as the temperature increases just to be anointed
withsomething cooling is not enough therefore on (or from for
somesampradayas or temples) the Snan Purnima in the month of
Jyestha(Trivikram Vaishnava mase) there is the ceremonial bathing
of theLord called Snan Yatra. Although it has become especially
festivein Jagannath Puri the actual event originates in Vrindavana
withthe devotees bathing Krishna, and Balaram for their pleasure
andthen taking bath themselves too. Actually at this time there is
noother solace than to bathe in some kind of pleasing water. All
thetemples of Vrindavan follow this festival, and many devotees
followa trail of pilgrimage from one temple to the next from
earlymorning to late evening when the temperature lowers to about
35-40degrees centigrade absorbed in the Snan rasa.
The next major interactive event is Rathyatra where the
devoteessymbolically bring Lord Krishna(Jagannath) His brother
Balaram andSubhadra maharani on high chariots, with beautiful
flappingcanopies, back to rural Vrindavan after their spell
After this comes the Jhulan Yatra festival. Starting on the
ekadasiof waxing moon of Sridhara month, many temples in
Vrndavanacelebrate Krsna's swing festival, some for one day, others
for moredays. Traditionally many of the Deities of the Lord wears
variousclothing with green in it over this period until the
BalaramPurnima. Again it is a practical festive service that the
devoteesprovide for the Lord. Monsoon is so humid, and the
temperature isstill so hot despite the cooling rains. With so much
water comingfrom the sky, on the ground, and just about everywhere
the lastthing that anyone wants is more water to cool off. The
opulence atthis time is to find a breeze, as the air is heavy with
thehumidity of the rains. So the devotees arrange for the pleasure
andsatisfaction of Krishna, Balaram, and Srimati Radhika by
placingthem on a swing (Jhulan) and creating their own breeze from
It is a most pleasing and satisfying festival, with the swingsoften
highly decorated with forest creepers, Jasmine (Malati) thathas
newly blossomed in the season, and streamers of garlands.Sometimes
they use a fine spray of rose water and direct it towardthe Divine
couple of Radha and Krishna on Their swing.
Today in Iskcon temples all over the world by the mercy of his
Divine Grace SrilaA.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad all the
devotees and thecongregational members get the opportunity to come
forward afterpurifying their hands and remember these loving
interactions of SriKrishna with His devotees, and also assist in
the direct personal service of the Lord by applying themselves
topushing the swing.
On the last day of the Jhulan, on the Purnima (full moon)this comes
Lord Balaram's appearance day festival.
"Regarding Jhulanayatra Ceremony, during these five days
theDeities' clothing should be changed everyday, and there should
benice Prasadam distribution and Sankirtana as far as possible.
Ifyou are able to do it, a nice throne may be constructed on
whichthe Deities can be placed. This throne may be swung gently
duringKirtana. That will be very good, and surely the Deities will
enjoythe function." (A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.1st
August.1969. Letter to Jayapataka Swami. Letters book pg. 977.)
"So we have to practice this Krsna consciousness. Here, in
thismaterial world, we have to work. Without work, you cannot
maintaineven your family, your body. That is not possible.
Sarira-yatrapite na prasiddhyed akarmana-. Krsna says (to) Arjuna
that withoutkarma you cannot maintain even your body. So you have
to work.Sarira-yatrapi te na prasiddhyed akarmana-. And this
material worldmeans you have to maintain by working. And spiritual
world means natasya karyam karanam ca vidyate. There is nothing to
work, as Krsnahas nothing to work. He is simply enjoying What is
called? Swing.So Krsna is enjoying, and Krsna's associates are
enjoying. Theyhave nothing to work. That is spiritual world.
Cintamani prakarasadmasu kalpa vrksa: that is a different world.
There is nomaterial body. Therefore there is no need of the
material body.That is a different world. But in this material world
we have towork. Trt'ya-karma-samj<anya avidya-karma-samjanya
trtiya aktirisyate. This material world means you have to work and
adjustthings for your maintenance. That you cannot escape. But
still, wehave to become Krsna conscious" (A.C. Bhaktivedanta
SwamiPrabhupada. 10th August 1976. Srimad Bhagavatam 3:22:21.
"Radha and Krsna may be swung in this way, but you may
avoidswinging Lord Jagannatha like that."(A.C. Bhaktivedanta
SwamiPrabhupada. 5th Jan. 1973. Letter to Jagdish. Letters
A pastime of Srimati Radharani and
As stated Jhulan-yatra is very dear to Krsna, He likes it verymuch,
now from another perspective you will see why !!!. From acultural
perspective in India during this period, all daughters goto their
father's house to stay there for some days and enjoy theswing
festival - a custom celebrated even up to this day.
Every year Srimati Radharani used to go to Varshana to her
parents'house and have a very nice time there with her Gopi friends
andKrsna, whom She could freely meet (because Jotila and Kotila
'One time Radharani was waiting for her brother Sridam to come
andtake her to her fathers' house. She was waiting, waiting,
andwaiting, but there was no sign of Sridam and She became so sad.
Oneday a person from Varsana was there. She asked the man to ask
herfather, "Why have they have forgotten Me?" She then started to
crybitterly. The person went to Varshana and told Vrsabhanu
Maharajaabout the condition of his daughter. Hearing this news,
VrishabhanuMaharaja immediately sent Sridam to Varshana to get
Srimati Radharani's Mother Kirtida packed many presents for
Jotilato send with Sridam, knowing that if she did not do this,
Jotila,being harsh of character sometimes would not send Srimati
Meanwhile, day and night Srimati Radharani was staring at the
roadcoming from Varshana. One day, She saw Sridam and when he
finallyarrived at the front gate they embraced each other. She
wasweeping, "Oh brother you had forgotten Me?; My father and
mothertoo?; Everyone forgot Me?"
At first Jotila refused to let Srimati Radharani go. "No no,
Shecannot go. She has so much work to do here, and there is so
muchdanger there because of that black boy. She cannot go."
Then Sridam gave Jotila all the presents given by Kirtida ma.Seeing
this, she said, "Alright, she can go, but only for a fewdays."
"Then Srimati Radharani and Sridam went on a cart pulled by
fourbullocks to Varshana. Seeing the palace of her parents on
thehilltop, feeling great happiness Radharani started weeping and
evenmore weeping when She saw Her father and mother face to
At that time Jhulan-yatra had already started and Srimati
Radharanistarted swinging with Her sakhis (friends) during periods
in theday and night, but She was not satisfied alone, without
Krsnathere. Knowing this, Krsna sometimes came in disguise to
thepalace. Sometimes He dressed as a Gopi selling bangles or
beautifulgarlands. Or He appeared in any other form and made an
appointmentfor Them to meet each other somewhere in a very secret
place in theforest.
Once, Srimati Radharani was seated on the Jhulan and Krsna
waspushing the swing very gently. Suddenly Krsna put so much force
inpushing the swing that Srimati Radharani became fearful and
startedcrying out, "O Krsna, save Me, save Me!" That
transcendentaltrickster Sri Krsna climbed on the swing and She
firmly embracedHim, giving Him so much pleasure. Why so much
pleasure? Becausenormally He has to do so many tricks so that
Radharani will embraceHim, but in this instance She embraced Him
out of Her own will,without much effort on His part. Therefore He
is so fond of theseswing pastimes.
Some meditations on Sri
JhulanYatra in Sri Vrindavan Dham.
The Jhulan time is very intense. In general the Shravana masha
havean exceptional mood, it is raining all the time, Yamuna Mayi
becamevery wide, flooded and there is a fresh atmosphere for
devotees whomove daily to whorship and take the lila-darshan which
is performedin diverse temples in Vrindavan. As an example, in Jai
Sing Geera,the lilas are performed during the whole week: every
morningGauranga-lila and at the evening Krishna-lila's theatre
Devotees tell that some time ago a king, who was a great devotee
ofSri Radha-Raman used to came to Vrindavan in the Shravana month
toassist that performances which started out of his own desire.
Therasa-lilas and theatre performance of Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu
andSri Krishna lilas was very dear to him and surely to Sri
RadhaKrishna also because since that time it now takes place as a
In each of Vrindavans' temples a wonderful swing-kunja is to
befound, each with singular features along with the swinging mood
andthe always happy "Jay Sri Radhe! Jay Sri Radhe!". There took
placealso the golden swing darshan of Sri Banka Bihari ji, which
occursonce yearly. It happen the first day of Jhulan in which
streets arecompletely crowded, any vehicles, like cars, even
Auto-rickshawstransit is very much restricted and Rikshaws can move
only in themain roads. Some devotees wait until the midnight
special aratis toget darshan because during the day it's just
ridiculous to try andget in with the hundreds of thousands of
villages who descend onVrindavan township to be absorbed in this
There's a good business made by devotees engaged in making the
hugeamounts of garlands that are used in all the temples, by all
thedevotees wanting to offer garlands, and to decorate the temples
andJhulan(s) during the whole week. It's a perfect example
howeveryone benefits, both economically - financially,
socially,spiritually etc., simply by rendering some simple service
for thepleasure of the Lord. Vast amounts of prasadam is cooked
andoffered to the Deities, and sold for a small donation; the
hotles,dharmshallas, guest-houses etc, Rickshaws, taxis, everyone,
all arehappy and satisfied knowing that simply by serving the Lord,
theroot of everything all their needs will be taken care of.