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DIVINE DECORATIONS OF THE EARTH - Sri Vishnu Padam, The Foot Prints of Sri Krishna

 When, in 1951 at the Menlung glacier-mountain, on the border of Nepal and central Tibet in China, Eric Shipton and his companion Michael Ward took a photo of giant footprints purported to be a Yeti's, the news about it became spread like wildfire.  From this, it is obvious that people like spectacular things although most of the time they are not beneficial for spiritual advancement. This essay is an attempt to describe the most spectacular, unbelievable fact for all of us, which is, that time to time the Supreme Personality of Godhead comes to this earth planet and in order to increase the devotion of those devotees who did not see Him and moreover to leave evidence of His advent He leaves His own footprints in various places of this planet. If you are curious where are these footprints, have a nice reading. And if you decide to visit the holy places where those footprints are found, the Garga Samhita is encouragingly declaring: "A person who sees the handprint and footprint of Sri Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and bows down to offer respects to them, will certainly attain Lord Krsna's transcendental abode."

Sri Vishnu Padam, The footprint of Lord Sri Krishna   

THE FORTUNATE EARTH PLANET

Whenever the Supreme Personality of Godhead in His various incarnations comes to this earth planet, marking the earth with His lotus footprints the whole world becomes fortunate. Because of His auspicious footprints the burden of the earth is diminished and all good is performed. In many places the lotus footprints of the Lord's incarnations are carefully preserved and worshiped by different devotees. Since they constantly like to keep His lotus feet within their hearts, the water that washes their feet can destroys all sins. Thus the Vedic scriptures say that the whole earth-planet becomes purified by the touch of the feet of the members of the four disciplic successions, who worship the various incarnations of the Supreme Lord like Krishna, Rama, Vishnu etc. 

LORD VISHNU'S FOOTPRINTS

For the beginning we would like to mention some holy places where the auspicious footprints of Lord Visnu are found. 

HARIDWAR

Although there is no much information about the decent of lord Vishnu in Haridwar and how did He left there His footprints, we would like to say few words about this very auspicious holy place. Haridwar (literally, Vishnu's gate) is sanctified by Lord vishnu's footprints and so, it is one of the seven most important pilgrimage places in India - the land of the Aryan civilization. Through this city, the India's most famous holy river - the Ganges - purifies the land flowing up from the Himalayas and making a journey of more than 2000 km down to the bay of Bengal. Every evening at 7pm at different ghats of the Ganges and especially, where the holy footprints of Lord Vishnu are found, thousands of people come to take bath desiring to become purified and thus attain liberation from this material world. They all offer lamps in the auspicious arati ceremony and put those lamps to float on the Ganges. The meaning of this simple ceremony of offering of lamps is to worship mother Ganges and Lord Vishnu what will ultimately awake devotion or bhakti. It is said that even one who just observes this auspicious ceremony also gets benefited. All in all, the atmosphere is very auspicious and pleasant being surcharged with the devotional mood of the worshipping devotees. Out of few other interesting places like Kapilasthan - where the sage Kapila meditated in Satya yuga;  the holy ghat called Brahmakunda; the local Har-ki-pauri temple is especially significant for Visnu bhaktas. Har-ki -pauri  literary means the feet of Lord Vishnu. Interestingly, very close to the temple is the bathing place called Charan or footprints of Lord Visnu which actually became imprinted on stone situated on the upper wall of the ghats. This bathing place is the most important ghat on the river Ganga, where a holy dip, by many people is considered to be a must. Especially during the Kumbha mela festival that takes place every 12 years, millions of people take a dip to get rid of their sins and to attain either liberation or devotion according to their particular desire. 

MECCA

In the Harihareshvar Mahatmya there is an interesting mantra that describes three holy places in this earth planet where the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Vamana, left His footprints. The mantra goes as follows: 

"Ekam Padam Gayayantu
MAKKAYAANTU Dwitiyakam
Tritiyam Sthapitam
Divyam Muktyai Shuklasya Sannidhau" 

 In this Verse it is not so surprising that the Lord left His footprints in Gaya and Shukla Tirtha but it is very amazing that it is also there in Mecca - the most holy pilgrimage place of all the Muslims. This can suggest that although, the Muslims consider that the divine footprints are the footprints of Mohamed, according to the above Vedic reference they actually worship and bow down to the lotus footprints Lord Vamana. A further nice explanation is given by Sri Nandanandana. "Worshipping such carved, holy foot impressions is a holy Vedic custom which convert Muslims are inadvertently perpetuating. But in doing this they delude themselves and mislead others that these foot-impressions which are on reverential display in several mosques and tombs around the world are in fact Muhammad's own. There are several snags in this argument. Firstly worshipping a foot -impression amounts to idolatry and should therefore be taboo for a true Muslim. Secondly Muhhamad disclaimed having performed any miracles. Therefore there can be no foot-impression of his on stone. Thirdly foot-impressions must always be in pairs like shoes. Yet in most of these shrines, it is usually a single footprint which suggests that Muhammad walked on only one foot. Another question that crops up is whether the foot-impression is of the same size and foot in all the shrines. The fact appears to be that when the Vedic Kaba shrine in Mecca was invaded by Muhammad, the pairs of foot impressions of Vedic deities there were plundered and later traded to the gullible and devout as Muhammad's own footprints for some favour, reward or personal gain by unscrupulous muslims. That is why they are single and not in pairs". 

Muslims from all over the world pay homage to this shrine. This shrine is actually the pedestal of Brahma. Notice that the word, Ibrahim is actually a corruption of the word, Brahma. The octogonal grill which is a Vedic design, protects the holy footprints which represent the start of the creation nearly 2000 million years ago. Before it was captured by the Muslims it was an international shrine of the Vedic trinity.

Maqam-E-Ibrahim or more appropriately the pedestal of Brahma. 

GAYA

In few puranas like Vayu, Agni and Garuda puranas but especially in the Gaya Mahatmya there is a story of the demon called Gayasura who acquired so much divine powers that anyone who saw or touched him went straight to heaven. Because this interfered with the duty of Yamaraja, the Lord of death and because other demigods began to suffer too due to Gayasuras required power, Lord Vishnu requested by the demigods decided to kill the demon. He, however, also granted a boon to Gayasura that the ground covered by his body-some ten miles in extent-would become the holiest place on the earth and be known as Gaya Ksetra. At the time of killing Gyasura, Vishnus footprint remained in the block of basalt that is now called Dharmasila and is the object of worship. Performing Sraddha ceremony or offering oblations to the ancestors at this place frees the ancestors from the cycle of repeated birth and death. It was at this place that Lord Caitanya met Isvara Puri, His spiritual master thus considering His coming to Gaya completely successful. Lord Caitanya said: "Now my visit to Gaya has really been fruitful, as by coming here I have had the chance to see your lotus feet. By traveling to a holy place and offering pinda one may deliverer one's ancestors - that is the person who offers the pinda may deliver only his ancestors. But one who sees you automatically delivers millions of ancestors, and not only will they become free from certain of their sins, but they will all attain eternal deliverance from material bondage. Therefore this pilgrimage I have undertaken is unparalleled, because of your holiness having rendered everything perfectly auspicious."

gaya_vishnu_pada.jpg (43533 bytes) 

SHUKLA TIRTHA

The thirteenth chapter of Skanda Purana describes the place of Shukla Tirtha to be the place where the great sage Bhrigu muni together with other bramanas and sages were chanting the four Vedas. Close by is the river Reva which is established through the middle of the entire universe.  By remembering it once, one can obtain happiness lasting for seven kalpas or 7x 4.300.000 years; and one who glorifies this river becomes sanctified by it.  

Shukla tirtha destroys all the sins

There is one interesting story related to this place that is given in the Skande Purana. Once a washerman who was responsible to wash the cloths of important brahmanas, mistakenly put their cloths in the indigo after which the cloths became unwashable. Being very much afraid from the curse of the brahmanas he decided to leave with his whole family to some other place. When her daughter visited her girlfriend to tell about the reason of leaving and to say the last good-bye, she was told about one pond in the nearby forest. By the touch of the water from that pond everything immediately becomes white. Moreover, even the grass growing around that pond grows white or shukla. Giving to her father the proposal to try to wash the clothes in that pond, although doubtful about the outcome the washerman decided to go there since there was nothing to lose anyway. Without using here too many words, the whole story turned out to be true and the news about the miraculous water of that pond quickly spread far and wide. The benefits of taking bath with faith in the water of this Sukla Tirtha are many. One can attain purity; get the benefit of bathing in all holy places; deliver his forefathers from hellish condition. The benefit of performing a horse sacrifice or Shraddha ceremony at Gaya is also easily attained at Shukla Tirhta and ultimately one can attain liberation. How it came that the Shukla Tirtha is so powerful place for purification? The Skanda Purane says that Shvetadvipa was brought here by the powerful Lord Vishnu because He was concerned that this holy place doesn't lose its whiteness due to the influence of Kali. The color of Shvetadvipa doesn't become dark although in contact with Kali Kala. So, at this amazing holy place Shukla Tirtha one can have a darshan of Lord Vishnu's footprints, praying to which one can attain the His spiritual abode. 

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                                                     Badrinath at Vishnu's footprint  

BADRINATH

In this earth planet there are five most important holy places that were known already in ancient times. Badrinath in the north; Jagannath Puri in the west-coast; Rameswaram in the south; Dwaraka in the east-coast of India and approximately in the middle of them Vrindavana. About Badrinath the Skanda Purana says: "There are several sacred places of worship in heaven, on earth, and in the hell; but there is no one of them like Badrinath." It is the place where the sages Nara-Narayana performed austerities; it is the place which was visited by the dear friend of Krishn, Uddhava before 5000 years ago; and it is the place that was visited by many saints like Gautama Rishi, Kapila, Kasyapa, Sankaracharya who even established a temple at this place. Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya also visited this important holy place. Amazingly, Badrinath is one of the eight self-manifested holy places in India and because of that, it is every year visited by many pilgrims that desire either to attain mukti or bhakti - liberation or devotion to Lord Vishnu. At Badrinath there is a place called Charanpaduka where a huge boulder bears the footprints of Lord Vishnu that were imprinted when he descended from Vaikuntha. Unfortunately, we don't have information which incarnation of Lord Vishnu left here His footprints. We hope that somebody in the future will supply this information to us. 

VARANASI

In Varanasi, close to Manikarnika, the place where people are cremated, is another place where Lord Vishnu's footprints are preserved. According to the local tradition, here Lord Vishnu performed tapasya - penance for not less then 7,000 years. His footprints are seen on a boulder called 'the Caranpaduka', a slab of stone between the well and the bathing place. The footprints were personally imprinted by Lord Vishnu. Close by, there is a temple in honor of Ganesh who is worshipped to remove all obstacles on the path of spiritual practice. 

THE FOOTWEAR AND THE FOOTPRINTS OF LORD RAMA

Before we mention where the footprints of Lord Rama can be found, here is an interesting story about His footwear. When Lord Ramacandra returned from his exile, people happily greeted him and said: "in your absence your younger brother Bharat was an exemplary, good and praiseworthy ruler of the kingdom. "However, Bharat immediately replied: "Things went on smoothly only due to the holy footwear of my dear brother Ramacanbdra, which he had placed on the throne." 

GANDHAMADANA

One of the divine footprints that Lord Rama left in this earth planet are found near Himalayas at the Gandhamadana hill that is the favorable abode of Hanuman - Gandhamadana saila-sthainai- namaha. The reason how this happened is very interesting. In the Rama lila when Laksmana got a great wound and needed a healing sanjiva herb, Hanuman brought the whole Gandhamadana hill at the place where Laksmana was lying. At this time Siushena collected the required healing herb and Lord Rama left His footprints there as well. After some time Hanuman brought back the fortunate Gandhamadana hill to its previous place close to the Himalayas where only three kilometers away, Ravans's brother, Vibhusana surrendered to His eternal, real muster Lord Ramacandra.

In South India where the Gandhamadana hill was brought temporarily there is still a place called Gandhamadana Parvatam a kind of replica of Gandhamadana hill. There on the top Lord Rama's footripnts are preserved and worshiped in a small temple. According to the tradition, this was the place where Lord Ramacadra consulted his army and decided to occupy Sri Lanka.  

RAMESHWARAM

One more place to be mentioned where Lord Ramacandra's footprints are found is Rameswaram a holy place that any faithful devotee of Lord Ram must visit at least once in His life. At this place, Lord Rama worshiped the shiva-linga or Lord Shiva as his best devotee. The worship was certainly not performed for getting blessings from Shiva to destroy Ravana because this would be controversial - namely why would Lord Siva give blessings to Lord Rama so that Ravana become defeated, if Ravan was one of his most devoted worshippers. Further, because not even Lord Shiva could protect Ravana from destruction, Lord Siva is certainly not the Supreme Lord but only the best devotee of Lord Rama. The Shrimad Bhagavatam declares - vaishnavanam yatha shambhu - Shiva is the best of all the Vaishnavas. Thus, Lord Rama worshiped Lord Shiva just to show an example how one should glorify and worship an elevated devotee. This place Rameshvaram is a place dear both to the Vaisnavas and the Shaivites. 

KAMADGIRI

On top of the Kamadgiri hill is a place called Sita Rasoi meaning Sita's Kitchen Shrine where she was cooking for the first years of the exile. It is quite interesting that in the Ramayana there is no mention of Sita's cooking and moreover, that this is not the only place at Kamadgiri where She was cooking for Lord Rama and Laksmana. Close by to Sita Rasoi is the place where one can see the life-size statue of Tulsidas, the writer of Ramayana and the footprints left by Lord Ramacandra. 

THE FOOTPRINTS OF KRSNA AND BALARAAM

In the Srimad Bhagavatam 10.38.30 we can find the following wonderful verse:

"The two great personalities, Krsna and Balarama, had both made the land of Vraja extremely beautiful by decorating it with Their footprints, which had many auspicious markings, such as the flag, thunderbolt, rod for controlling elephants, and lotus flower.  With great mercy, They cast Their smiling glance upon Akrura."

Jiva Goswami gives an interesting comment on this verse writing that both Krsna and Balarama are described as having the markings of the Supreme Personality of Godhead on the soles of Their feet that not any sakty-avesa incarnations (empowered living entities) have such as Prthu Maharaja and others.  These auspicious markings are seen only on the feet of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself.     

Here, before we proceed to mention some auspicious places where Krishna left His divine footprints let see which marks are on His sole that are the sign of His position as the Supreme personality of Godhead. In the following verses the Skanda Purana states the particular places on His feet where Krishna carries the mark of the flag and also other marks, and the reasons for these marks:

'At the base of the large toe on His right foot, the unborn Lord carries the mark of a disc, which cuts down the six (mental) enemies of His devotees.'

'At the bottom of the middle toe of that same foot Lord Acyuta has a lotus flower, which increases the greed for Him in the minds of the beelike devotees who meditate on His feet.'

'At the base of His small toe is a thunderbolt, which smashes the mountains of His devotees' reactions to past sins, and in the middle of His heel is the mark of an elephant goad, which brings the elephants of His devotees' minds under control.'

'The joint of His right large toe bears the mark of a barleycorn, representing all kinds of enjoyable opulences.'

"The Skanda Purana also states,

'A thunderbolt is found on the right side of His right foot, and an elephant goad below that.'  

"The acaryas of the Vaisnava sampradaya explain that since the particular feet under discussion are Lord Krishna's, we should know that the thunderbolt is at the base of His small toe and the elephant goad below the thunderbolt. An elephant goad on the heel belongs rather to Lord Narayana and other visnu-tattva expansions.

"Thus the Skanda PuršŽa describes six marks on Krishna's right foot-the disc, flag, lotus, thunderbolt, elephant goad and barleycorn. And the Vaisnava-tosani mentions even more marks-a vertical line beginning at the middle of His foot and continuing as far as the juncture between His big toe and second toe; an umbrella below the disc; at the base of the middle of His foot, a group of four svastikas in the four cardinal directions; at the four points where each svastika meets the next, four rose apples; and in the middle of the svastikas, an octagon. This makes eleven marks on Krishna's right foot."  

Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura describes the marks on Krishna's left foot as follows:

"At the base of the large toe is a conchshell with its mouth facing the toe. At the base of the middle toe are two concentric circles, representing the inner and outer sky. Below this mark is Cupid' s unstrung bow, at the base of the bow is a triangle, and surrounding the triangle is a group of four waterpots. At the base of the triangle is a half-moon with two more triangles touching its points, and below the half-moon is a fish.

"All together, then, there are nineteen distinguishing marks on the soles of Lord Krishna's lotus feet."  

RADHARANIS FOTPRINTS

Now, it is unavoidable to mention something about the divine footprints of Shrimati Radharani since She is the eternal consort of Shri Krishna, just as Sita is to Rama or Lakshmi to Lord Narayana. Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura quotes the following detailed description of Shrimati Radharani's footprints, as given by Shrila Rupa Gosvami in his Shri Ujjvala-nilamani: "At the base of the large toe of Her left foot is the mark of a barleycorn, below that mark is a disc, below the disc is an umbrella, and below the umbrella is a bracelet. A vertical line extends from the middle of Her foot to the juncture of Her large and second toes. At the base of the middle toe is a lotus, below that is a flag with a banner, and below the flag is a creeper, together with a flower. At the base of Her small toe is an elephant goad, and upon Her heel is a half-moon. Thus there are eleven marks on Her left foot.

"At the base of the large toe of Her right foot is a conchshell, and below that a spear. At the base of the small toe of Her right foot is a sacrificial altar, below that an earring, and below the earring a spear. Along the base of the second, third, fourth and small toes is the mark of a mountain, below which is a chariot, and on the heel is a fish.

"Thus all together there are nineteen distinguishing marks on the soles of Shrimati Radharani's lotus feet."  

NEVER TRAMPLED OVER

To the verse of Srimad Bhagavatam 10.16.18 Shrila Sanatana Goswami gives a following amazing purport:

"Since Lord Krishna had passed along the path some time previously, why weren't His footprints, which were surrounded by those of cows, cowherd boys and so on, smudged over and brushed away? Why hadn't His footprints been obliterated by those of the beasts and birds of Vrindavana forest? The answer is indicated by the word vis-pati, master of the cowherd community. Since Lord Krishna is actually the wealth of all living beings, all the inhabitants of the forest of Vraja would carefully preserve His footprints as great treasures, the very ornaments of the earth. Thus no creature within Vrindavana would ever walk upon Lord Krishna's footprints. All the living beings in Vrindavana, including even the forest birds and beasts always carefully preserved the Lord's footprints as their greatest treasures, the very ornaments of the earth, and they were never walked over by anyone". 

KALIYA BLESSED BY KRISHNA'S LOTUS FEET

Once when the Kaliya snake demon was poisoning the Yamuna river so much that the fishes begin dying; the vegetation around the river to dry out and even the birds flying above the river to fall down dead due to inhaling the poisonous fume, Krishna decided to punish the nasty demon and jumped into the Yamuna. Seeing this, one cowherd boy immediately run to the village to inform the residents of Vrindavana that Krishna is in danger. Suddenly, the people of the whole village immediately decided to go on the spot to help Krishna running like corpses, following Krishna's footprints to the part of the Yamuna where the Lord's pastime was taking place. Once again, being under the influence of Yogamaya - the spiritual illusory potency of Krishna - they could not realize that there is no danger for Krishna.

Not only the land of Vrindavana was blessed by the Lotus feet of Lord Krishna but others as well whoever was touched by them. Devotees they always pray for the shelter and protection at the lotus feet of Shri Krishna and amazingly, Kaliya, although a demon also attained that blessing by Krishna. Dancing on the many hoods of the Kaliya snake, who was polluting the Yamuna river by its poison, Krishna almost killed the snake demon and it was only because of the request of the wifes of Kaliya that Krishna did not kill him. Promising to Krishna that he will never again poison the Yamuna river and never again return to this place, Krishna blessed Kaliya in the following way: "Because you are now marked with My footprints, Garuda will no longer try to eat you".  

VRINDAVANA AND MOTHER YASODA

When more than 5000 years ago Shri Krishna and Balarama displayed Their wonderful pastimes, throughout the whole Vrndavana Their footprints and the footprints of the gopis were visible. Every day Krishna and Balarama were happily traversing Vrndavana, purifying thus the land with Their lotus footprints. These sacred footprints of Krishna and His eternal companions are the main reason why is Vrindavana glorified by Krishna bhaktas as the most important holy place in the whole universe. Actually, if the footsteps of an elevated devotee makes any place purified and thus, equally good as a holy place, what to say then about Krishna? Even those places where He was steeling butter as a small child, became certainly the most holy, worshipable place. Mother Yashoda, the most fortunate mother in the universe, was able to trace Krishna by following His butter-smeared footprints. Most of the time, when she saw her naughty Krishna, how cleverly He invented different ways to reach the high ceiling to steal butter from the pots that were hanging there, she would just smile.  

MADHUVANA AND DHRUVA MAHARAJA

It is described, that when Narada Muni advised Dhruva to meditate on and worship Lord Vishnu, Dhruva started for Madhuvana forest. Even at that time, in Madhuvana there were many footprints of Krishna from His previous pastimes, thus making the whole forest very auspicious for Dhruva's practice of austerities and meditation. He diligently worshipped and glorified Lord Krishna by chanting the 12-syllable mantra - om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.  Accept of the forest of Madhuvana, there are many other places where Krishna's footprints are imprinted and preserved even nowadays. Let's now continue with our pilgrimage.  

CHARAN PAHARI

Charan Pahari is situated in the land of Vrindavana, 2 kilometers outside of the village Kaman, in the top of a small hill. This place was visited by many acaryas and Lord Caitanya as well. Lord Caitanya, Lord Nityananda, Advaita Acarya, Madhavendra Puri, Madhvacarya, Vallabhacarya and the Gosvamis have all come to this place to have darshan of Krishna's footprints.

It is said, that when Krishna played His flute at this place the hill started to melt. Actually, Krishna's flute playing is so amazing that the trees immediately begin to shed tears of honey; the river stops to flow and becomes like a stone or begins to flow in opposite direction; the stones begin to melt; the dears become stunned and the grass falls out from their open mouth. The cows all hear their particular names in the sound of the flute. So, the impressions of Krishna's footprints can be seen here at Charan Pahari. At this place Krishna used to have many wonderful childhood pastimes and it was also here that Krishna performed a sacrifice for atonement of killing Vyomasura who was a son of a brahmana.

Close to Charan Pahari is one more place called Pichel Pahari (Pichalini-shila), another place where the footprints of Krishna and Balarama are imprinted in the stone. All these different places of Krishna's pastimes: Charan Pahari, Pichel Pahari, Vyomasura's cave, and Bhojana Sthali are surrounded by the Kamyavana forest. In the Adi Varaha Purana it is said: 'The fourth forest is Kamyavana, the best of all. O goddess, a person who goes there is glorified in My abode.'

"O king, next is Kamyavana, where Lord Hari stayed in His childhood. Simply by bathing here, any person will attain all his desires." (Skanda Purana, Mathura Khanda) 

In Vrindavana close to the Govindaji temple there is a cave in which the Deity of Govinda was found. It is said that this was the preferred place where Rupa Goswami liked to perform his japa meditation. Here, also at this place, one can have a darshan of eight armed Yogamaya sitting on a lion and the stone slab with the footprint of Shri Krishna.  

THE SALAGRAM SILA OF SANATANA GOSWAMI

Before more then 450 years ago Due to danger from the Muslim invaders many deities in Vrindavana were moved to Jaipur. Among Them are the original Radha Damopdara Deities that were worshiped by Jiva Goswami and the Govardhana-sila of Sanatana Goswami, which is here especially interesting for us to be mentioned because it has Lord Krishna's footprints on it. The story how Sanatana Goswami got this wonderful Govardhana-sila goes as follows. He used to stay at Chakra Tirha that is close to Govardhana hill and from there he daily went on Govardhana parikrama (more than 21 km) considering Govardhana to be Lord Krishna. As he became old going for parikrama became quite difficult for him and thus out of compassion Krishna came to him disguised as a small boy holding a fan in his one hand. The boy began to fan Sanatana Goswami and said: "Swamy it is very difficult for you to go round the mountain daily walking more than twenty-one miles. Please accept my good advice. This is Sila has Lord Krishna's footprints on it and the pujari can tell you where you can see the walking stick, a flute, and the hoof-print of a calf imbedded. I have brought this Sila for you from the top of this mountain and circumambulating it is as good as circumambulating the whole Govardhan Hill". After saying this good advice the charming boy disappeared. Sanatana Goswami felt very much happy and accepted His good advice. 

THE DIVINE FOOTPRINTS OF LORD CAITANYA

In His childhood, the name of Lord Caitanya was Nimai who in many different ways was an extraordinary child. In the Citanya Bhagavata we can find the following description:

'When He tried to walk, in His small footprints the specific marks of Lord Vishnu were visible, namely the flag, thunderbolt, conchshell, disc and fish'.

'Seeing all these marks, neither His father nor His mother could understand whose footprints they were. Thus struck with wonder, they could not understand how those marks could be possible in their home'.

'Jagannštha MiÁra said, "Certainly child Krishna is with the shalagrama-shila. Taking His childhood form, He is playing within the room."' 

"Other time, obeying the orders of His parents, Nimai was going into the other room when the tinkling sound of the anklets was heard from the bare feet of the child. When the child went out to play, the parents, to their great astonishment, found their son's footprints to be the footprints of Lord Vishnu. So they prostrated before him". 

KANAI NATSHALA

When Lord Caitanya went to Gaya to perform shradha ceremony for his decayed father he also met there his spiritual master - Ishvara Puri and took initiation from him. Form that time He completely became transformed experiencing deep love of Krishna. On the way back to Navadvipa at the place Kanai Natshala that is situated on a top of a small hill close to the Ganga, He manifested His love for Krishna in separation seeing the lotus footprints of Krishna.

At the place where Lord Krishna's footprints are, not so long ago there was a small temple under the care of one sadhu form Ramanuja sampradaya. After he donated the temple to ISKCON, the devotees now built a nice temple there with the deities of Radha-Krishna and Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. 

RAMAKELI

The reason why is Ramakeli significant for the Gaudiya vaishnavas because this is the place where Lord Caitanya met and delivered Sri Rupa And Sri Sanatana Goswamis. The Caitanya Caritamrita mentions that the two brothers did not only have taken up Muslim names and worked as officials in the Mohammedan government but they also adopted all kinds of Muslim customs, dress like Muslims and speak in Arabic and Persian. Working for the king of Bengal, Hussain Shah, Sanatana was given the title Sakara Mallik, which means Prime Minister and Rupa was given the title Dabir Khas, which means Private Secretary. They were so important - right and left hand men of Hussain Shah that he would not do anything without consulting them. Interestingly, they would behave like Muslims only during the day but in the evening they would purify themselves by taking bath and engage in their religious duties of chanting the holy name on japa, studying the scriptures and engaging in religious discourses.  When Lord Caitanya visited Ramakeli both brothers with a straw in their mouth - what is the sign of humility - surrendered to the Lord asking Him a blessings to be delivered from their awkward position. It is at this place, Ramakeli that the divine footprints of Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu are preserved. Here, one can also have the darshan of Shri Shri Radha Madan-mohan, the deities of Shrila Sanatana Goswami, and see the place where he was kept under arrest by Nawab Hussain Shah. 

LORD CAITANYA'S AND NITYANANDA'S  FOOTPRINTS AT RADHA-KUNDA

When Lord Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavana he discovered the lost places of the most sacred and most dear places of Radha-Krishna's pastimes - Radh-kunda and Shyama-kunda. First, asking the local people where are these Kundas, nobody could tell him. It is only because He is the all-knowing Supreme Lord that he on the middle of paddy fields he recognized Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda. At that time they were only a small water but still He took His bath in them and Offered the following wonderful prayers. 

 "Of all the gopis, Radharani is the dearmost. Similarly, the lake known as Radha-kunda is very dear to the Lord because it is very dear to Shrimati Radharani.

" 'Shrimati Radharani is most dear to Lord Krishna, and Her lake known as Radha-kunda is also very dear to Him. Of all the gopis, Shrimati Radharani is certainly the most beloved.'

"In that lake, Lord Krishna and Shrimati Radharani used to sport daily in the water and have a rasa dance on the bank.

"Indeed, Lord Krsna gives ecstatic love like that of Shrimati Radharani to whoever bathes in that lake even once in his life.

"The attraction of Radha-kunda is as sweet as that of Shrimati Radharani. Similarly, the glories of the kunda [lake] are as glorious as Shrimati Radharani.

" 'Because of its wonderful transcendental qualities, Radha-kunda is as dear to Krsna as Shrimati Radharani. It was in that lake that the all-opulent Lord Sri Krishna performed His pastimes with Shrimati Radharani with great pleasure and transcendental bliss. Whoever bathes just once in Radha-kunda attains Shrimati Radharani's loving attraction for Sri Krishna. Who within this world can describe the glories and sweetness of Sri Radha-kunda?' " 

At the bottom right-hand corner of Shyamakund there is a sitting place of Lord Caitanya where He was chanting the holy name - Hare Krishna. This is one more place where His Divine footprints are preserved in stone. Interestingly, and at the bottom of Radhakunda there a sitting place of Lord Nityananda where He stayed for some time, and leaving His divine footprints there as a source of great mercy for all visiting devotees. 

SEEING THE FOOTPRINTS OF KRISHNA

Somebody might ask now "Why at all this discussion about the footprints of Shri Krishna, Rama, Lord Caitanya? What is the use to know about them?" The reply is that when our Love for God is not yet developed we are asking this kind of questions but when it will be blossomed our question will be "Can you tell me more about the glories of Krishna's footprints? Oh, when I will meet Krishna and see Him face to face".  

ARE VERY ATTRACTIVE

Pada: Radharani to Visakha: My friend, whose footprints are these, marked with the signs of the chariot-wheel, lotus flower, and thunderbolt? These footprints on the shore of the Yamuna agitate My heart and make the hairs on the creeper of My body blossom with happiness.  

Although a sannyasi, Lord Caitanya glorified the pure love of the gopis in the mode of separation. They were searching Krishna by looking after His footprints and discussing all the details about them just like expert detectives. Sometimes groups of ten to fifteen gopis sat around a set of prints and discussed to make sure they belonged to Krishna.  

SEARCHING FOR KRISHNA

Once in the middle of rasa-dance, Krishna left with the most fortunate gopi, Radharani. As They did not come back the other gopis began to search where did Krishna go, looking carefully where might be Their footprints. When ultimately they traced out the footprints they sow that there were two different sets of footprints - one of Krishna and the another of Shrimati Radharani. Some of them became morose, thinking, "He must be walking with His arm on Her shoulder." Later when they sow that there were only one set of footprints, they started to speak in many different ways. Chandravali addressed the other gopis: "O friends, just see?! At this particular spot we do not see the footprints of that gopi. It appears that because there were some pin-pricks from the dried grass, Krishna took Her on His shoulder. O, She is so dear to Him". One another gopi said: "What has happened to Radharani? Aha! This is where Krishna carried His beloved to protect Her tender feet from these sharp grasses and sprouts... Look, see. Because of the extra weight, Krishna's footprints are pressed more deeply in the ground... Here, He put Her down to pluck some flowers to decorate Her hair. The front part of His footprint is much deeper. He must have had to reach up on His tiptoes to get the flowers up there."

As Krishna was enacting His wonderful pastimes with Shrimati Radharani, at once He sow some pride in Her and thus He decided to disappear. The main group of gopis then came across Shrimati Radharani, alone and completely bewildered. Seeing the other gopis She spoke the following devotional poem:  

aslisya va pada-ratam pinastu mam
adarsanan marma-hatam karotu va
yatha tatha va vidadhatu lampato
mat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparah

I know no one but Krishna as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly in His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord unconditionally. 

SEEING THEM AWAKES COMPASSION

In his Bhakti-rasamrita-sindhu, Shrila Rupa Goswami gives two wonderful examples how just by seeing the footprints of Shri Krishna the quality of compassion is awakened.

Once the gopis requested Hamsaduta to search after the marks of Krishna's lotus feet and to accept them as Lord Brahma had accepted them on his helmet after he had stolen all Krishna's cowherd boys. Regretting his challenge to Krishna, Lord Brahma had bowed down before the Lord, and his helmet became marked with the footprints of Krishna. The gopis reminded Hamsaduta that sometimes even the great sage Narada becomes very ecstatic by seeing these footprints, and sometimes great liberated sages also aspire to see them. "You should therefore seek very enthusiastically to find the footprints of Krishna," they urged.  

Another instance of devotional service in compassion mentioned by Rupa Goswami is when Sahadeva, the younger brother of Nakula, became greatly gladdened at seeing the effulgent glowing of Krishna's footprints. He began to cry and call out, "Mother Madri! Where are you now? Father Pandu! Where are you now? I am very sorry that you are not here to see these footprints of Krishna!"  

In this way, through these examples we can see how beneficial is to see the divine footprints of Shri Krishna. Actually, all the different symbols on Krishna's soles have their particular meaning and purpose. For example, the disc is a weapon that cuts down the six mental enemies of the devotees namely lust, anger, greed, illusion, madness and envy. And, for example, the other symbol, the lotus, increases the greed for Krishna in the minds of the bee-like devotees. Thus, whoever takes shelter of Krishna's lotus feet becomes fully protected by the Supreme Protector - Govinda.  

AKRURA SEES KRISHNA'S FOOTPRINTS

To see the Krishna's footprints is the cause of great ecstasy for an elevated devotee, who has pure love for Krishna. In the Srimad Bhagavatam it is described that when Akrura came to Vrindavana in search of Krishna, he saw the footprints of the Lord on the dust of Nanda-grama. As his eyes became over-flooded with tears due to increasing ecstasy of transcendental love for Krishna, at once he jumped on the land of Vrindavana and rolling about among those footprints, he exclaimed, "Ah, this is the dust from my master's feet! How wonderful this is! How wonderful this is!"

Similar feelings were experienced by the gopis of Vrindavana when they were going to the bank of the Yamuna and saw Krishna's footprints in the dust. When Krishna walked on the ground of Vrindavana, the marks of His sole (flag, thunderbolt, fish, a rod for controlling elephants and lotus flower) would be imprinted upon the dust of the land. The gopis became overwhelmed simply by seeing those marks on the ground.  

Even when Krishna went away from Vrindavana the Gopis could not forget their most beloved Krishna. And actually how they could when all the lakes of Vrindavana, the banks of Yamuna, the Govardana hill, the pasturing grounds still had the impressions of Krishna's footprints on the surface of the earth. The gopis said to Uddhava: "We remember Him playing in those places, because He was constantly visiting them. When His appearance within our minds becomes manifest, we immediately become absorbed in thought of Him...On the land of Vrindavana are the impressions of His footprints, that are the residence of the goddess of fortune, and because of such signs we cannot forget Krishna.  

Thus, just by seeing Krishna's all-attractive footprints, the gopis immediately remembered many other things about Krishna. They remembered Krishna's having a helmet with a peacock feather and wearing earrings on His ears and the yellow-gold colored garments covered with jewels and pearls. They also remembered Krishna's blowing His flute and all the cowherd boys' singing the glories of the Lord. Sometimes the gopis would remember and think about His soft nails, moving eyebrows and His teeth, which were catechu colored from chewing pan.  

RELIEVES THE PAIN OF THE EARTH

Many devotees know that bhumi - the mother earth is blessed by every step of Krishna's lotus feet, and thus she experience great relief and happiness.  One of Krishna's confidential devotees said: "My dear friend, when Krishna returns home with His cows, the footprint of the soles of His feet relieves the pain the earth feels when the cows traverse it. He walks in a stride which is so attractive, and He carries His flute".

Because of Krishna's presence and His footprints, every place where He went became blessed, prosperous and beautiful. When Krishna was in Hastinapura, Queen Kunti was praising Him with the following respectful words:

"Krishna, You are now walking in our kingdom, and the impressions of Your footprints are making everything beautiful. There is sufficient water and fruit, and everything looks beautiful, but when You leave us it will not look beautiful."

How Queen Kunti's words apply to our present moment is very nicely explained by Bhaktivedanta Swami Shrila Prabhupada, making her words to sound not a mythology but a reality. He writes:

"It is not that this applied only when Krishna was present and Kunti was speaking. Rather, the truth is always the same. Despite the advancement of our civilization, if we cannot bring Krishna and Krishna consciousness into the center of everything, our civilization will never become beautiful.The newspapers often describe the devotees as "bright-faced. Their countrymen remark, How joyful and beautiful these boys and girls have become." At the present time in America and all over the world, many of the younger generation are confused and hopeless, and therefore they appear morose and black-faced. Why? Because they are missing the point; they have no aim in life. But the devotees of Krishna look very beautiful because of the presence of Krishna".  

Briefly, therefore, the whole purpose of this essay was that we think about something positive, Krishna, Vishnu, Lord Rama. To remember that they really came to this planet to save the materially conditioned souls from this material world and by leaving Their divine footprints, They are still reminding us of the supreme spiritual goal of life, to go back to the spiritual abode where we can eternally reside. To do this we need to follow a simple but sublime formula of the Bhagavad Gita: 

man-mana bhava mad-bhakto
mad-yaji mam namaskuru
mam evaisyasi satyam te
pratijane priyo 'si me 

"Always think of Me, become My devotee, worship Me and offer your homage unto Me. Thus, you will come to Me without fail. I promise you this because you are My very dear friend". 

So, whenever we get an opportunity to go on the places where we can see the divine footprints of various incarnations of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, bowing down to Them we will certainly get the supreme benefit. And which is that benefit, that is very nicely described in the Garga Samhita 3.7.39:

"A person who sees the handprint and footprint of Sri Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and bows down to offer respects to them, goes to Lord Krishna's transcendental abode".  

Hare Krishna

Compiled by Avadhuta Raya das -

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