Many stories are told in puranas extolling the greatness of Vraj.
At one time the whole worlds were involved in a delusion called "Naimittika Pralaya" - it was Brahma's sleeping time. A Danav (demon) called "Sankhasura" had stolen all the four vedas. The divine being had to take an incarnation as a giant fish called "Matsya" and was engaged in a fierce battle with him. His head was cut off with the weapon called "Sudarsan" (It is a pointed wheel) The vedas were returned to Brahma. Then divine being went to "Prayag Tirha" and took bath in the confluence (sangam). The Tirtha was given a top place as a finehead. There was a perennial tree called Akshayvati. It had assumed the status of "Raja Chalia". Both Ganga and Yamuna assuming the forms of Devi fanned Prayag Raja with a "Chamar" (a handle with hundred threads of hairs of animals in it). All the tirthas visited the tirtha raja to pay their homage and offered presents.
This made Prayag raja to be proud of his new status. One day the celestial Rishi Narad visited him. He told Prayag Raja : "You consider yourself "king of tirthas". All tirthas came and offered presents. But not a single tirtha from Vraj has come to pay you homage. Neither Vraj worshipped you, nor offered presents".
Tirtha Raja Prayag was red with anger. He gathered all holy places and had gone to Goloka to make a complaint to divine being. He listened to his words and then laughed and said : "I have made you a king of all holy places. You are not mad a king of my place. Vraj is my abode - the place where I reside. When the "Pralaya" (destruction of the whole world) will take place you too will not remain there. But my Vraj will never be destroyed. Vraj will never come to worship you. You goto here to worship".
On receiving the commands of the divine being, Prayag raja, followed by all tirthas went to worship Vraj. All tirthas had made their residence in Vraj. From then onwards Vraj Mandal is considered the best of all tirthas.
* * *
At one time Hiranyakashyap the terrible danava (demon) had took a hold of the earth and went to hide in Patala - the netherelands are called patala. Brahmaji then prayed divine being. The latter had assumed the form of a wild boar (varahe) killed Hiranyakshayap and lifted the globe of earth between his wild fangs from the ocean.
The earth felt proud and said "Oh ! Lord ! I find water all around me. Where will you place me".
The divine being said : "I will put you down where there are trees".
Earth said : " All trees are over me. Where else will be the other trees?"
Then "Prithvi" looked on all sides. Far away it saw a beautiful place. It was surcharged with trees. Prithvi asked : "What is that place ?"
The divine being said : That is my Goloka Dhama" called "Vraj Mandal". It cannot be destroyed even in "Pralaya".
Listening to these words "Prithvi" had to admit to here false pride. It requested the divine being : "Kindly send your Vraj Mandal on me here".
Thus earth has conceded to the supremacy of Vraj Mandal.
x x x
At one time, Brahmaji taking all celestials (Devatas) and Prithvi in the form of a cow went to request the divine being : "Oh! Lord ! "Adharma" (outrageous acts by evil doers) is let lose on the earth. Kindly find out a way to protect righteous people and their dharma"
The divine being assured them : "I will take an incarnation on earth". He then turned to Sri Radhaji and asked : "You too come with me!".
Sri Radhaji said : "I do not find it plesant without the presence of Sri Yamunaji, Brindavan, Govardhanji etc.".
Then the divine being had commended the 84-kosa area of Golokadhama to move onto the earth.
So the whole establishment of Golokadham has manifested on this place.
x x x
Mahadevji, Brahma and other important celestials place the dust of Vraj on their head and feel being sanctified. All the male and female celestials left their heavenly abode and went to settle in Vraj. The most important devotees like Udhava, Akrurji, etc. have rolled on the sands of Vraj and felt themselves successful.
x x x
At one time one vairagi (recluse) had reached Nanda Gaon after roaming about in other places of Vraj. He sat near a well on the outskirts of the village. One Gopika of Nanda Gaon asked the vairagi : "Bawa did you get a darshan and returned ? "
Vairagi replied : "Mai ! I could not have a single glimpse the whole day".
Gopika said : "Bawa ! wait for me here. We will have a darshan together. I will leave these things at home and then will return".
"Please do come quickly !" he said.
But Gopika did not return. The vairagi waited and waited. He went to sleep where he was sitting the whole day. Then he dreamt about. In his dream he climbed the mountain along with the women to have a darshan in the Mandir. Sri Krishna had given him a rose from his turban and Sri Balaram had given a "Genda" (a yellow coloured flower). The whole night was spent in plesant experience for the vairagi.
In the morning the vairagi got up from his sleep. The Gopika had come near him. Vairagi spoke to her. "You left me here and went away. I could have any darshan of Sri Thakurji. Whole night I slept here in the open shivering".
Gopika said : "Bawaji !" You are a sadhu. Why are you telling a lie ? Did we not go and had a darshan together ?"
"When did we go ?" he asked.
Gopika told him about the dream. The vairagi was absolutely surprised. He prostriated before her.
Then Gopika said : "This is Vraj. It can never be empty/ Sri Krishna's presence is felt here all the time".
x x x
At one time Mirabai had visited Vraj. She went to meet the Gosainji of Sri Radhavallabh tradition in Brindavan. She had seen the saint with closed eyes deeply engrossed in meditation. Mirabai asked : "Who are you thinking of with closed eyes ?" He said : "Of Sri Krishna Chandra".
Mirabai laughed and said "Why do you have to meditate when HE is directly present in Vraj? Here everything is a form of Sri Krishna like trees, climbers, pan, flowers, fruits, dust, water, etc.".
x x x
At one time Sri Mahaprabhuji was residing at Radhakund in Vraj. It was the period of "Dhanurmasa" (a particular month with religious value). Sri Mahaprabhuji had prepared food even before the sun had raisen. It was a cold season. He had offered the preparations of Raj Bhoga before the divine being. After some time he called his disciple Prabhudas Jalota to have a prasad (offered food to Sri Thakurji). Prabhudas said : "Maharaj ! I have not yet taken bath !" Sri Mahaprabhuji said : "Look ! Prabhudas ! In Vraj even trees are not different from "Venndhara" (Sri Thakurji who holds a flute). Each of the leaves of the trees present the form of "Chaturbhuja" (divine being dipicted with four hands). Here you will find "Pusti Lila" all the time. There is no importance to the "Dharma of Achara" i.e., upholding the rules of conduct. This Vraj is transcendental".
x x x
One of the descriptions of Sri Gosainji was a recluse - one who has given up all attachments for the worldly things. He belonged to Surat. Every year he visited Vraj to do Yatra of Vraj. He had kept with him one clay pot, made out of the clay of Vraj. Every day he would prepare food in the same pot. Then he would sash it and put it in his woolen shawl. In sastras it is written that when the earthen pots turn "Sakhadiwala" - i.e., the vessel cannot be used for reasons of religious process. Unless it is washed it cannot be used. And an earthen pot should not be washed. So it has to be discarded as it is no longer considered impure.
Some Vaishanava had therefore made complaint to Sri Gosainji : "Maharaj ! Surati Virakla has mixed up lot of "Anachara" (that is impropriety)".
Sri Gosainji called the Virakta and asked, Virakta replied : "Maharaj! This Vaishanava has knowledge of conduct of out side Vraj. He does no understand the divine nature of Vraj. By your grace I will explain to him".
Then the Virakta Vaishanava had described the divine form of Vraj to the other Vaishnava.
x x x
At one time Sri Gosainji camped in a place called "Syam Dhak" - on the foregrounds of Sri Girirajaji. His son Sri Girdharji was with him. The son saw many low caste people dragging a dead donkey on the sands of Vraj.
On seeing this Sri Gosainji commanded his son thus : :Look ! Govardhan! Look at the fortune of the donkey! Even after death it is fortunate to roll in the sands of Vraj. After my death please take my body in this fashion for its final "Dahasanskara" (i.e., setting fire to dead body, also known as cremation, is also a sanskara followed in Hindu religion)".
x x x
The jamindar of Lucknow, Shah Biharilal once went to Brindavan and roamed in Vraj having fully immersed in Krishna Bhakti. He had full knowledge of the divine nature of Vraj. He never used to ease himself for the calls & nature on the sands of Vraj. He never even washed his hands with Vraj raj. He used to get the sand from Agra and would carry it and throw it outside Vraj.
x x x
The wealthy "Kayastha" (a community) - Srimant Krishnachandra Lalbhai - of Calcutta came and settled in Vrindavan. Though rich, he used to call upon the houses of Vraj vasies and beg for food. He had requested them that after his death, his body be dragged in the dust of Vraj to perform the last rights (cremation).
x x x
One Vaishnava from America had come to have a darshan of Sri Thakurji. When he reached "Barasana" (Birth place of Sri Radha) it was already night. He got from the car and began to climb the steps of the mandir. One Vraj vasi said : "Sir! you cannot have a darshan now as Arati (a procedure at the end of darshan performed with burning wicks) is completed". The American Vaishnava was not in a position to stay overnight. With a great ladden heart he went up. The head priest was standing on the top flight and booming out : "Oh! Vaishnavas ! come ! Sri Ladliji is looking for you".
TheVaishnava ran. He fell in the feet of Sri Radhaji. His faith fructified. The Vraj is even today living with its legends.
x x x
Sri Gosainji had a seth for his disciple. The seth had come to Gokul once with his family. Here he heard the lilas of Sri Thakurji form the mouth of Sri Gosainji. He listened to the words with rapture. He could experience the wide lotus like eyes of Sri Thakurji dancing before him. His elder brother Baldevji was with HIM. All around the hustling cattle pressed to have a glimpse of Sri Thakurji. Thakurji was progressing from Brindavan towards Vraj. All his companions gathered around, praising HIS qualities in a sing song manner. This is a permanent Lila of Gocharana or grazing of cows for Sri Thakurji.
On listening to this the seth's son asked Gosainji : "Maharaj! do these Lilas take place even now ?" Sri Gosainji assured "This lilas are eternal and happen without break".
So the boy asked Sri Gosainji : "Sir! When can I have a darshan of this Lila ?"
Sri Gosainji told him to go to Syamdhak. He went there and sat on the edge of a tank. It was evening time and time for the cattle to return home. This boy had entered into the state of "Viraha" (Pangs of separation). Then he had a glimpse of SriNathji. The boy had a vision of Gopas, playing on the flute and saw cattle as far as he could lay his eyes on. SriNathji was moving towards him.
Whatever Lilas Sri Thakurji had performed in Sarasvata Kalpa (name of an age when the divine being has incarnated as Sri Krishna) do take place even today in Vraj in some transcendental form.
x x x
At one time Rama Bhakta Tulasidasji had come to Vraj to meet his younger brother Nandadasji. After becoming the disciple of Sri Gosainji Nandadasji had gone and settled in Manasi Ganga in Govardhan. Tulsidasji had pressed Nandadasji hard to return to Kasi. Nandadasji said : "Big Brother! it is not possible for me to return now. I request you to come and settle in Vraj. There is no other transcendental place like Vraj". He had made Tulsidasji to listen to the following couplets :
Jo Giri Ruchae to Baso Sri Govardhan
Gaon Ruchae to Baso Nandagaon,
Nagar Ruchae to Baso Sri Madhupuri,
Sobha Sagar Ali Abhirama.
Sarika Ruchae to Baso Sri Jamuna Ghat,
Sakala Manoratha purana Kama;
'Nandadasa' Kanana Ruchae to
Baso Bhumi Vrindavandhama.
Meaning : If you like mountain, go and stay in Govardhan. If you like a village goto Nandagaon. If you like a city goto Mathura. All are wonderful places to stay.
If you like a river go and stay on the banks of Jamuna where all desires can be fulfilled. If you like the voice of Nandadasa select the land of Brindavandham.
x x x
The son of a Pathan, Rasa Khan was a young man. He had seen a picture of Sri in the house of Vaishnava at Agra. His mind was at once attracted by SriNathji. He immediately went to Vraj and settled there permanently. On a day, he was resting under a tree between Anyor and Puchari. It was noontime. His attention was drawn to a "Nikunja" which was hidden amongst the trees around. In a state of Nikunja Lila, Sri Swaminiji was resting on soft grass, while Sri Thakurji was pressing her feet lightly. RasaKhanji experienced a pleasant surprise. The whole world including Sri Lakshmiji wait abated to have a chance to press the divine being's feet. But here Sri Thakurji personally is pressing the feet of Sri Radhikaji. Then RasaKhan was assured that the Lilas of Sri Thakurji can be witnessed even today if you goto Vraj.
x x x
Some similar experience had happened in the life of Sri Chaturbhujdasa. Early one morning he went towards Puchari,, to pick flowers for the garland of Thakurji. He had seen Sri Thakurji and Sri Radhika coming out of Nikunja from behind groups of trees. Many Vraj bhaktas had assured him that Sri Thakurji resides in Vraj eternally. For this reason all Vaishnavas desire to go to Vraj.
Greatness of Vraj :
Many Bhakta poets, keeping the greatness of Vraj in mind created, wrote and sung many poems. Let us examine some of them.
Sarva Tirtha Bhuvalokamaen
Vraj Raj Kana Nahin Paya
Sripati Kahi Prayagason
Mahima Kachu Eka Gai.
Meaning : You go anywhere to tirthas, but you do not find the dust of Vraj. The lord has said of HIMSELF. Even Prayag Raj has no Value before it.
Vraj Ke Raja Kana Bhanana Ko
Puchata Kaun Pramana ?
Kli Sahasra Mukha Sesam
Ratae na hota Bakhan.
Meaning : Can anyone give proof to the greatness of the dust of Vraj. Cause ! Sesaji sings his greatness with thousand faces. But even such crore of Sesas cannot praise his greatness.
Groups dharati Vraj Mandal Payathana
Jahan rahiyae paiyae sada momana de taj Mane.
Meaning : The whole of Vraj Mandal is the udder of the earth who has the form of cow. Just as you can drink milk from the udder. So also you can enjoy the sentiments of divine bhakti in Vraj Mandal.
Hence Oh mind ! Leave all pride and live in Vraj.
Vraj Cholasi Koza Hai
RasaLila Ko Lalita
Stahla Sri Radha Vraj Bhupa
Meaning : We cannot offer any similie to the 84-kosa area of Vraj. It is situated in a form of Kamal. It is the lovely place of Rasa Lila. Sri Radhaji is the king of Vraj.
Pusti Hari Soba BrajaBhoomi
Boodana Pusti Surang
Pawana Pusti Vasanta
Rutu Kauluka nana rang.
Meaning : The greenary of Vraj, the rainy season of Vraj and the spring season of Vraj indeed transcendental.
Pusti Lata Taru Tana
Lagi Pusti Kamala Phala Phul
Pusti Vihang Mayura
Pika Bolata Rasa Anukula.
Meaning : All the living and inert objects of Vraj are divine.