A General Introduction On Banke Bihari Temple
The Bankey Bihari Tmeple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and is situated in the holy city of Virndavan in Mathura district. The worship of Bankey Bihariji originated in the Nidhivana, a secluded spot earlier. It is believed that Lalita Sakhi, one of the associates of Sri Krishna of the Dvapara Yuga in his rebirth as Haridas built this Bankey Bihari Temple.
Intense religious significance
This banke bihari temple vrindavan UP is fraught with religious sentiment for Hindus, as the image that resides in this Banky Bihari Temple is said to have been left by the Divinity himself at the request of Swami Haridas, so that he could have constant darshan of him. During their appearance at the Nidhivan, all followers of Haridas had gathered to have a glimpse of the celestial couple. But all they could see was only a bright light. It is at the request of Haridas that the celestial couple appeared before all.
But the vision was too much for mere mortals to bear and they almost turned to stone at the enthralling beauty of the divine couple. Haridas then requested them to leave a combined image of the two so that the ordinary mortals can behold them. At this request, the divine couple became one, and left behind the beautiful black image that is worshipped in the temple. It is for this reason that the darshan of the idol is not continuous as in all other temples, but every few minutes the curtain is drawn to break the darshan, so that looking at this murthi one does not lose her or his self-consciousness.
The presiding deity
The presiding deity of the Banke Bihari Temple is Lord Krishna, the image of whom is the combined beauty of the celestial couple Radha-Krishna. Lord Krishna is known to be the eighth of the ten avatars or incarnation of Lord Vishnu. As the powerful incarnation form, he is considered to be one and the same as Lord Vishnu, one of the Triad of Hinduism. During this earthly incarnation as Krishna, his deeds and influence were extremely profound, as can be seen from the history behind the idol of this Banke Bihari Temple.
The image details of Banke Bihari
Banke literally means bent in three places and Bihari means the supreme enjoyer. It is thus that the tribhanga posture of banke bihari temple image is indicated by this idol standing here in this temple. This idol is a stone image of the combined divinity of Radha and Krishna that the celestial couple themselves left at the request of Swami Haridas for the world to see. Haridas had requested the couple that they leave behind their imprint combining the Ghana or dark cloud and Damini or the lightning. Thus, the combination of the Lords dark form and the beauty of Radha would be the perfect metaphor as Ghana-Damini through this particular idol in this temple.
Presence of other shrines
The temple of Banke Bihari is dedicated exclusively to the Ghana-Damini form of the Radha-Krishna combined image. The shrine hosts the idol facing the main entrance that also has a large courtyard that is always decorated with flowers and is known as the phool-bangal or the bungalow of flowers. This is a tradition that was started by Haridasji himself in keeping with the preference of the Lord for flowers.
Ritual worship in the temple
The Banke Birai is worshipped in a unique way in this temple. The ritual consists of worship in three parts all through the day. The Shringar or the ritual of bathing, dressing and adorning of the Lord with jewellery takes place in the morning. The Rajbhog or the feast to the Lord takes place during the forenoon and finally the Shayan seva that is preparation for the Lords sleep is performed at nightfall.
When Haridas began services of the Lord, he did not want his child-like Lord to be disturbed in the morning with arati due to which there is no arati performance early in the morning in this temple, unlike all other Hindu temples. The lord is allowed to rest late in the morning as he has been busy in his Bihari activities all through the night. He is not woken due to which the temple does not have any bells either unlike other temples.
The other most significant aspect of this temple ritual is that curtains are drawn every few minutes to screen the vision of the Lord from devotees, as looking at it for too long at this celestial Ghana-Damini form will make you lose self-consciousness. The banke bihari temple timing differ by half an hour in summer and winter. While it opens at 7.45 am in summer, in winter the time is 8.00 and it closes at 9.00 pm in winter and 9.30 in summer.
Celebration of special ocassions
Janmasthami, the feast of the birth of Lord Krishna is the main religious event of this temple among the others. It is only on this very special day that the mangal arati is performed at 2.30 in the morning. Akshaya Tritiya that falls on the third day of the of Baishakh month that is in mid-April to early My during the waxing period of the moon, is the only auspicious day when the lotus feet of the deity cab be seen. On the following full-moon day the deity is seen to hold the flute wearing a special mukut or crown.
In the month of Phalgun on the last five days that is during the Holy festival the Lord comes off thealter and can be seen in full view along with his four gopis who appear only at this time.
During the Jhulan yatra or the Hariyali Tej or the swing festival of Lord Krishna on the third waxing moon day of the month of Sravana silver-plated and also solid silver swings are placedon display. The idol of the Bankey Bihari is placed on the golden swing during the days of this festival.
A holy pilgrimage
Pilgrimage to this holy spot is often the lifetime desire of the Hindu as it is the possibility to have darshan of the Lord in the way that the celestial couple themselves left behind their Ghana-Damini image. Moreover, Virandavan is the place where Lord Krishna lived a major part of his life with his companions. The place is wrapped with the signs of his presence at almost every step. If you wish to make a pilgrimage to this holy spot, especially during important festivals, you will have to make reservation ahead of time.