The gopies of Vraj used to love the Lord so much, they would be at Yashodas door at all hours of the day and night, finding any excuse to see their beloved Nanda Gopal. Mother Yashoda was very protective of her darling child. Yashodaji was concerned that with all these adoring gopies, hanging around her house at all hours of the day, her darling child will never get any time to rest or play properly with his friends. So she decided that all those who wished to visit her beloved Bala Gopal, could do so after he had finished a snack or a meal and was about to go out again.
Taking his cue from Yashodaji, MahaPrabhu Shri Vallabhacharyaji decided to open the haveli, his own version of the Nandalay (house / palace of Nanda, foster father of Lord Krshna), at very specific times of the day. The great Acharya set aside eight times of the day when the doors of the inner sanctum would be left open for the people to catch a glimpse ("jakhi") of the Lord. Rest of the time was for Nanda-nandan to go out and play with his friends - gpoas and gopies of Vraj.
The sequence of eight darshans are set out below. Please note,
* I have added details of public and private rituals to the best of my knowledge. If there are any mistakes, please let me know and I will amend the article.
* Throughout the day, as public part of the darshan, kirtans are sung in classical raags appropiate for the time of day, season and festival. Kirtans are usually sung up to the time of the arti. Kirtans usually finish with the arti.
* Throughout the day, after each meal is offered, priests withdraw from the inner sanctum for a time. This "time-of-withdrawal" depends on what is offered - snack or a main meal. Mukhiyaji recites sacred hymns outside the inner sanctum during this interval.
First darshan of the day is considered to be the most auspicious.
Private rituals - Lord, having woken up, has his breakfast before greeting his devotees.
* In winter, due to the cold weather, Lalan goes to bed early and so wakes up early - before dawn. In the summer, as Yashoda's darling child plays outdoors till late, he wakes up late ! On a festive day though, Lord wakes up early so as to be ready in good time to recieve all his vaishnavs.
* During Mangala, no toys or flute are placed near the gadiji to distract Natkhat-Nanda-kumar.
* Vatsalya-bhava predominates this darshan.
* Light snacks, often made of milk, are offered as breakfast to the Lord.
Public darshan - Lord is still dressed in his night-dress, usually with the turban from yesterday.
* If it is cold, a shawl or a quilted coat is worn on top. In the summer, he wears only a sarong.
* Arti is offered and bells are rung in muted tones.
Having bathed and dressed her little darling, Mother Yashoda allows everyone to adore her
Private rituals - Haveli singers sing outside the closed doors of the inner-sanctum as the Lord is bathed and dressed by the Mukhiyaji and his assistants.
*Nanda-nandan is dressed so as to be absolutely comfortable in any given season (warm clothes in winter, light clothes in summer). Jewels and a garland(s) of fresh flowers are used to adorn the Lord. Perfumes (attar), appropiate for the season, are applied to his clothes and gadi to suffuse the inner sanctum with pleasant scents.
* Sometimes, pichoi (painted screens) are hung behind the deity, enhancing the mood / bhava of the festival being celebrated on the day. At other times, simple pichoi is hung to either complement or contrast with what the Lord is wearing.
* Dry fruits and snacks are offered to the Lord.
Public darshan - As the Lord is gorgeously adorned, Mukhiyaji offers up a mirror for the Lord to make final adjustments before going out to play. On festive days, large, full length mirrors are brought in for a fuller appreciation of the grand shringar !
* Flute is usually placed in the crook of ShriNathji's arm so he can delight his beloved. Offering the flute signals end of the darshan.
- Having had his mid-morning snack, the Lord is about to go out to herd the
cows of Nandaji. Flute and garland are removed for this darshan.
Private rituals - Behind closed door, Lord is worshipped by reciting His thousand names and the sacred tulsi (basil) leaves are offered with each name.
* As this darshan marks the outset of herding duties of Krushna and his friends, milk based snacks and sweets are offered to make sure little Krushna has plenty of energy for this arduous task.
Public darshan - We can see the mound of tulsi leaves offered at the foot of the Lord as the mukhiyaji has just finished the Gopal / Purushottam sahastra nama puja.
* Gend (polo sticks) and balls are laid out and dhoop is offered as the Lord prepares to leave the Nandalay with his friends.
Rajbhog - After his mid-day meal, the Lord is resting in the comfort of Nanadalay. Lord is often most regal and resplendent for this darshan.
Private rituals - If there is a manorath of a "bangala" (bunglow), it is offered during this darshan. In which case the Lord sits behind a nice facade of a regal pavillion made of either gold, silver, enamell, wood, flowers or even pearls !
* Main meal of the day of the day is offered with all the pomp and ceremony due to the regal "Vraj-Raj-Kumar".
* Dhoop and deep are lit for a few minutes to dispel insects from the area while the Lord eats his lunch.
* Once the meal is concluded, before the doors of the inner sanctum open, temple servants lay out toys, garlands, snacks and "paan" on a series of tiered steps in front of the throne.
* Games that are especially laid out after lunch are 1) "chopat", an ancient board game similar to ludo 2) Shatranj, forerunner to chess.
Public darshan - Drums and trumpets play at the main gate to announce the most elaborate darshan of the day to the entire town.
* Fresh garlands and lotuses are offered to the Lord.
* Arti is offered as singers sing various padas and kirtans, musician accompany them by playing jhanja, pakhavaj sarangi and been.
* Shortly after arti, a carpet is laid between the nij mandir and shaiya mandir in preparation for the afternoon siesta.
* Just before the doors of the inner sanctum are closed, water jugs are changed, garlands are removed and the polo stick & balls are put away.
Utthanpan - Conch is blown to wake Shri Krushna from his afternoon siesta.
Private rituals - As in the morning, Lord is gently woken up by the Mukhiyaji.
* Been is played in the background.
Public darshan - Over-head fan (pulled by hand) moves lazily as the Lord gazes out from his throne with drowsy eyes.
* Jug containing water from Shri Yamunaji is changed just before the doors of the inner sanctum are closed.
Bhog - Having had his afternoon snack, Lord is ready to gather his cows and head back home.
Private rituals - Light snacks are offered.
Public darshan - In large havelis like ShriNathji, a mace bearer announces the imminent arrival of the Lord and his cows.
* Morchal is waved in front of the Lord to remove the evil eye.
Sandhya As the sun dips over the western horizon, the Lord returns with the herds of Nandaji and the gopies come to see their beloved.
Private rituals - Having refreshed himself, the Lord is lightly dressed for the evening darshan.
Public darshan - Arti is offered by the Mukhiyaji in the bhava of mother Yashoda to wards off any evil that may have befalled her darling in the woods of Vraj.
Shayan - Having had his dinner, the Lord is about to go off to his bed chamber. Lightly dressed, the Lord rests with his family.
Private rituals - Evening meal is offered before the kitchen staff leave for the night.
Public darshan - Paan is offered to the Lord by the Mukhiyaji as temple singers entertain the Lord.
* Arti is offered to remove the evil eye and a carpet is rolled out between the inner sanctum and the bedroom.
* Lullubies are sung and been is played to sooth the cares of the day away.
The outline of darshans given above is a general layout. Over the centuries, different Goswamies have interpreted the "bhavas" and "lilas" differently, resulting in a colourful mixture of oral and ritual traditions followed by the various havelies of Pushti Marg. For example, the Lord Shri Nathji, having left his beloved Vraj, misses it so dearly, that for six months of the year, he runs back to Vraj for the shayan darshan. So, from Mangala to Sandhya arti, the Lord is reckoned to be in Nathadwara. After Sandhya arti, he rushes over, in his spiritual form, to play with the gopies of Vraj. Hence, Shayan arti takes place at Mount Govardhan for the warm half of the year. During the cold months, running over to Vraj is not such a practical option, and hence the shayan darshan takes place at Nathadwara. Here the bhava of gopijans viraha and Raasa-Rasikas unique lila are of paramount importance.
The svarupa of BalaKrshnalal and Navnit-Priyaji, is that of the Lord as Yashodajis baby. The Lord is depicted as an adorable little infant, crawling on the floor, with a ball of butter in his right hand. As the Lord is so small, how could he possibly be expected to wake up early, or herd the thousands of cows of Nadaraj? Shri MahaPrabhuji and Gausaiji took this into account and prescribed slightly different darshan times for the havelies of the baby form(s) of the Lord. Hence, the darling child of Yashodaji, still in his rocking crib (cradle), is seen by the public only 6 - 7 times a day. Hence, Mangala darshan in Navnit-Priyajis haveli takes place much after dawn. Typically, Navnit-Priyaji wakes up when Shri Nathji has finished the Shringar darshan. After quickly bathing and getting dressed, the Lord swings in his "palana" (crib) by the time ShriNathji finishes the Gwal darshan. Priests play with various toys to amuse the Lord and temple musicians sing to entertain the Lord. Rest of the darshans take place as described above.
Padas, sacred poems, written by vaishnav saint-poets are sung during the darshans. Typically these are sung in accordance with season, time of the day and bhav. Ashtachaps have written about almost all the bhavas we can concieve. They have written padas about all the svarups' lilas at various times of the day, night, seasons and festivals. Each haveli and each Guru-Ghar / Nidhi svaroop has its own "seva pranali", defining which padas are to be sung at what time. From time to time, these are amended by Goswami balaks according to their own inspiration of how the Lord in their care wants to be worshiped.
For details of temple rituals during the different seasons and
festivals, please refer to other pages on this site.
Galleries on the site also have several paintings to give the vaishnavs an idea of what the darshans may actually look like.
Look at other articles on this site to consider how scents, shrungar, colours, music and pichois are used to enhance the tanuja seva.
Please click here to go to Mumbai's Mota Mandir site for information on how to do seva (as per Pushti Pratha).
© Bhagwat Shah
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