There is a famous pastime that is connected to this sacred lake.
One day Radharani, accompanied by Her friends, went to Nandagrama where She met Krishna’s mother Yashoda Mayi.
Upon seeing the exquisite beauty and cultured behavior of Radharani, within her heart Yashoda Mayi yearned that Radha should become her daughter-in-law, by getting Her married to her darling son Krishna.
Yashoda Mayi was so carried away with the idea, that she mixed some yellow turmeric paste and began applying it to Radharani’s hands, as is the custom when the would-be-bride visits the house of her future mother-in-law.
After feeling greatly honored by the affection shown by mother Yashoda, Radha left with Her friends for Varsana.
Observing the bright yellow color of Her hands, Radharani began to feel rather embarrassed and began to ponder what the people of Varsana, and especially Her family members might think if She arrived home with the yellow colored hands of a would-be-bride.
Therefore, Radharani rushed to the nearby lake known as Piyala-sarovara and diligently began washing off all the yellow or pili colored tumeric from Her hands.
Immediately after Radha had washed Her hands, the water in the lake turned a very bright yellow.
Due to this, the lake became celebrated as Pili Pokhara, meaning the ‘yellow colored lake’.
This area around this lake is also known as Pilu Khora because Radha and Krishna used to pick pilu fruits from the sacred pilu trees at this place.
In the Bhakti-ratnakara it says.
“On the northern side of Banukhora is Piyala-sarovara where Radha and Krishna performed various sports.
At this place the Divine Couple along with their associates became happy to see the beauty of the great jiyala trees.
It was here on the pretext of picking pilu fruits that Radha and Krishna enjoyed each other’s company, hence it became known to everyone as Pilu Khora.”
This lake is about 500mt from the stairs that lead to Shriji Mandira.
The various kunds and rivers which enhance and enrich and facilitate the Lord’s pastimes are the emblems of rasa because rasa is fluid – it’s flowing – it’s love.
It’s the different flavors of love, which are never static or stagnant, but flowing like rivers. Sometimes there are kunds, which are impounding areas which hold those waters – which have different flavors, and characteristics, and benefits.
When Mahaprabhu came to Vraja and he heard the name Aristagram, He said,
“where is Radha kund?”
– which has the unique ability to confer upon those who bathe in Her holy waters – the flavor of love similar to that which Srimati Radharani feels for Krishna.
And the pilgrims next bathe in Syama kund which bestows a flavor of love similar to that which Krishna feels for Radha. And then again pilgrims complete their bath in Radhakund.
Kunda and differences of colors
And in the region of Nandagram, the kunds reflect the luster of Krishna – they are of a sapphire hue.
And around Varsana, the kunds are basically of a golden hue – especially Pili Pokhar, which is distinctly golden in color to this day, immortalizing the appearance of Lord Gauranga in Vraj – 5000 years ago.
Mother Yashoda wants Radha to marry Krishna
This is one of His many first appearances – because tricked by maternal affection, Mother Yasoda concerned only with her son’s welfare and quite unaware of the course of the Gopis’ love when Krishna was just a young child – and because of the blessing of Durvasa Muni – that whoever tasted Her (Radha’s) cooking would be very strong and free from disease.
So even though there is so much suspicion and controversy, Mother Yasoda made sure that Srimati was able to come cook for Krishna every day.
And even though They were just little children, as Mother Yasoda watched the very graceful, demure, gentle nature of Kirtida’s daughter she thought, “there is no match in all creation for my Kalachandra – like that of Kalavati’s (Kirtida) child.”
She called Her and said,
“I think you should become an ornament on my family’s tree. We must propose this to Kalavati.
So she took Srimati and drew Her to her side.
Mother Yasoda felt as if that soft golden body of Srimati Radhika’s was melting and merging into hers – not like the monists like to merge in identity, but merging in love and in intent for Krsna pleasure.
And as Mother Yasoda’s stroked Her soft hair and looked into Her bluish eyes, she felt there was an endless wellspring of grace, mercy and compassion.
She was contemplating “what kind of Goddess is this child?”
So she took Srimati’s tiny hand and looked at Her palm and saw all the auspicious signs adorning it. And as tears were flowing from her eyes, she took haldi (turmeric) and wiped that on Srimati’s palms.
And she said,
“Child, do you know what this means?”
She (Radhika) said,”no.”
“This means You are engaged to be married.”
“What will My mata say? And I don’t know if I am ready to be married. I’m accustomed to wander at will throughout the groves of Braja and play in the sand. I don’t know about this marriage.
Mother Yasoda said,
“Srimati, You are blossoming in the sunlight of youth, and You must accept the responsibilities that come with it.
So little Srimati looked up into Mother Yasoda’s eyes and said,
“Your every word is My order.”
Mother Yasoda said,
“Well, anyway, discuss it with Your mata.”
So Srimati touched Mother Yasoda’s feet and started on Her way home.
And as Mother Yasoda watched Her – She just seemed to float down the winding steps coming up to the palace and as she heard Her ankle bracelets jingling, she was thinking that
“as this girl matures, the devas will be falling from the sky like rain.”
So She met with Her friends and like an assembly of very beautiful colored clouds, they headed on the path to Nandagram.
When they got part of the way there and into a secluded place, they stopped and Srimati showed Her palms and Lalita said,
“The love of Mother Yasoda is extremely binding. How will You free Yourself?”
“This is a very delicate situation, but it’s easily remedied.”
“We are way too young to be married. Our freedom will be curtailed.”
“But there is an easy remedy to this situation. Your hands have not been painted with some indelible dye. Just wash Them off in a kund. Look, right there is a beautiful lake”
And they turned – and there was a most charming lake with stairways going down into the water from all sides – and trees bowing down, overladen with fruit, dropping their pollen into the crystalline waters and deer wandered around peacefully and the birds were saying, ‘just wash Your hands in the water.’
So, Srimati lifted up Her skirt and stepped into the water and looked down to wash Her hands. And then, when She saw Her reflection in the water, She was overcome by its beauty. She was seized by this feeling
“maybe I should be Gopal’s constant companion and never ever have to leave His side?”
And then She began to wash her hands and the waters turned golden and the waves spread out in all directions, hitting the banks and rippling back – forming a beautiful pattern of evolving rasa.
And as the waters turned – from Her hands – that golden luster begin expanding toward the far shores of the kund.
Her friends were just watching with intent – the different levels of love that appeared to be rising like ocean tide within their heart and expressing themselves on Her facial expression; they were just enchanted watching their friend wash Her hands. And She just kept washing.
After they were already clean, mechanically like a washer woman or a housewife grinding sandalwood, She just kept washing and washing and washing – just intrigued with Her own reflection.
Finally Lalita said,
“Radhe, You can stop washing Your hands now. You have turned the kund completely golden. It appears that You’ve washed Your heart as well as the kunda and if You don’t stop now, all of Braja will turn gold.”
And then She snapped out of it and looked and sure enough the whole kund was gold.
“And everybody will know who did it”
“I’m not the only golden complexion girl here”.
And the others said,
“But our gold color is from prolonged contact and association with You. Anyway let’s get out of here before anyone notices what happened.”
And then they took off to Varsana.
Now this was a favorite stopping place of Krishna’s to water His cows. But that day He lost a cow. So He was wandering around completely intent on finding that lost cow. And He walked right past the kund and didn’t notice that something was different, but He felt – something changed.
He felt called to retrace His steps and He went back and looked and said,
”What is this? That kund has turned to gold! What is it?”
And He turned to the trees and the birds and the deer and the creepers and nobody said a word, because it was meant to be kept extremely confidential.
“What is this? Is this a trick of some demon? Or are the demigods playing tricks again? I must investigate this because I cannot understand”.
So He walked down to the water and He looked in and saw His own reflection, but it was golden.
“What is this? What is this mystical golden substance?”
And in Vraja, where wonders abound – this was something unique – not to be missed – all the deer and trees and flowers and creepers and birds were looking very intense, so Krishna was asking,
“What is this golden substance?”,
and all He heard was His echo:
“What is this golden substance?”
resounding across the countryside.
So, He said,
“Well, I’ll find out for Myself.”
So He walked down to the water and He touched it. And He felt a surge go through His frame that He’d never sensed before.
“What is this?”
It made Him more curious.
“What is this golden substance?”
He went and touched it again.
“I’ve never sensed it. I wonder what it would be like to enter into it.
So He took another step and it came up to His ankle and another step and another.
It was coming to His waist, then His chest, His neck, His mouth.
Then He looked around at all the deer and birds and trees were watching in total wonder,
and then smiling at them in a way childlike manner, He went all the way in and just wandering around the kund trying to decipher, what is this golden substance.
And only His peacock feather protruding above the water, charted the course of His submarine activities.
And then it stopped – because He was overwhelmed, He could not ascertain what this golden substance was. The birds and the deer and the trees – they stopped breathing.
And then the peacock feather started moving and came towards the steps.
Krishna came out, but He was no longer the color of sapphire. That golden substance had imbued Him, not only with a different luster, but a different mood. And He was wondering,
“That is the luster of prem. I am no stranger to prem. But for Me, the Vrajabasis are the object of My prem. And I am the subject. This has been reversed. I am the object of prem, but I am the subject. What is this?”
He turned to the deer, the birds, and the trees – nobody could answer His question.
And then He became very emotional.
He began crying – He began calling out,
“Krishna, Krishna – where have You gone?!”
And He began looking behind every tree, within every kunj, asking every living entity,
“Where has Krishna gone?!”
and nobody could answer His question.
Then His arms begin to raise in the air as He turned to the sky,
“Oh, Krishna, Ocean of Mercy, Friend of the Hopeless, please reveal Yourself to Me and save My life!”
Then He began moving like a graceful dance, characteristic only of the gopis. And He began praying to Krishna to restore His life. And tears began flowing from His eyes like torrents of rain.
And all the deer and birds and trees and creepers also began to cry. All infused with an intense feeling of separation from Krishna, due to the influence of this golden substance.
This went on for some time and everybody experienced a type of love – a flavor of bhava that they never had sensed before because of the influence of that kund – that golden substance.
After a while like mystic potions do, it gradually wore off and Krishna began to wonder,
“where is that cow?”
Then He proceeded to find the cow.
Jewels from Vrisabhanu
This was supposed to be kept confidential, but some the villagers saw what happened.
They went and told Queen Kirtida and she was so ecstatic that she and King Vrishabhanu immediately filled this huge platter with gold and jewels and gems – each one worth a King’s ransom – and sent it by a royal courier to convey to Mother Yasoda that ‘we accept your proposal’.
They loaded ox carts and wagons with more and more and more jewels and gems and sent them over as fast as they could go.
In Varsana and in Nandagram, the palaces were just filling with the villagers who came to celebrate that Radha and Krishna were going to be married.
And the news and the song which was just filling the towns were resounding across the countryside.
Then Nanda Maharaja – he was not as wealthy as King Vrishabhanu, but he sent back – by a royal courier – a plate full of jewels and gems also.
But then Nanda Maharaja was so preoccupied serving all the guests who came to his palace all night that in the back of his mind he was thinking,
“I have to send more of a gift to my friend”,
but he couldn’t do it until he had seen to the needs and desires of all his guests – which didn’t happen until the next day and he was wondering
“how am I going to reciprocate with that plate?”
and he looked and it was empty.
All the jewels and gems were gone.
“Where did they go? Is there a thief in Nandagram? Krsna, do You know what happened?”
He said,”Yes mata, yes pita, I took them. I knew that you were in anxiety that you did not have enough wealth to reciprocate with King Vrishabhanu’s dowry, so I planted the jewels and gems in the field and they will be ready to harvest very soon – and you’ll have more jewels and gems then you will know what to do with.”
Nanda Maharaja said,
“My Dear Child, it doesn’t work like that”
“Yes it does. I’ve watched your farmers. They plant seeds and they get back so much more bounty than what they invested.”
“But it doesn’t work that way with jewels…”
“Yes it will – I am sure. And even if it doesn’t work, we can dig them up and there would be no loss, but I know it will work.”
“So where did you bury them?”
“I’ll show you”
So He took him out to the field and He dug up one of the gems and it had already sprouted. And right before their eyes all the furrows of jewels and gems became an orchard of kalpa-vrksas (desire fulfilling trees) and there were more jewels and gems than anybody could ever imagine what to do with.
So they picked them and loaded an ox cart, one after another to send back to King Vrishabhanu.
Meanwhile, Yogamaya was watching this whole thing unfold thinking,
“This is completely impossible. Radhe and Krsna cannot get married.
You cannot take the Queen or the Princess at this time, of Vraja and demote Her to the level of one of the queens of Dvaraka. This must be stopped, but it has so much momentum already”
– who but Yogamaya could do that.
So she approached Nanda and Yasoda and told them,
“I appreciate your sentiments, but as Purnamasi (Yogamaya) said,
“I’m the guru of all the Vrajabasis – did anybody ask me?”
In their excitement, they completely forgot to ask for blessings,
“So please give us your council”
“According to the astrological calculations of these children, and let me remind you they are just children, if they were to get married – there would be all kinds of problems.
It’s not that I’m against the principle and when they grow up you can consult with Gargamuni, but now – what I read in this astrological chart is that you’d better just forget this whole idea.”
And by the influence of Purnamasi, (Yogamaya), who creates these whole dramas, they were just so satisfied with the pastime that they forgot what it was all about.
Because in the realm of rasa, when it comes to ujjvala rasa, there is svakiya – where Radha and Krsna are married. And Nimbarkacharya – he exalted that principle.
Mahaprabhu glorified parakiya bhava – which is illegal, unlawful love. It’s love for the sake of love only.
No other calculation than the pleasure to be loved. And the risk of social controversy, banishment from society, condemnation of being unchaste, being a disgrace to not only your family, but to the whole village in which you’re banished to the forest forever with a stigma of being a disgrace to the world.
This risk makes the adventure all the more exciting, dynamic, and creative.
And that pleases Krishna all the more.
So the world had known that Radha and Krishna are eternal consorts.
(Excerpted from a Sunday Feast Class given on February 21, 2010 in Alachua, FL)
Pili Pokhara, also known as
Priya Kunda and
The lake became celebrated as Pili Pokhara, meaning the ‘yellow colored lake’.
This area around this lake is also known as Pilu Khora because Radha and Krishna used to pick pilu fruits from the sacred pilu trees at this place.
This place is also called Priya Kunda due to her rinsing her yellow hands after her marriage with Nandanandan.
It is also named Priya Kund, because Shriji comes here.
It is also called Piyala Kunda because surrounded by Piyala trees
According to the Bhakti Ratnakar, Shriji used to pick fruits and flowers from the pilu tree here.
ei pilu khora ethā pilu phala chhale|
sakhī saha rāi kānu krīḍā kutūhale ||
This place is also called Priya Kunda due to her rinsing her yellow hands after her marriage with Nandanandan. It is called Pili Pokhar, and place where bath turmeric of Radharani created an exotic golden color in the water, called piri ki.
When Nandalal comes to play Holi from Nandagram, he rests here and later tightens His turban.
Ahead he is welcomed in a place called Munh Midi (chandan on cheeks). This occasion is celebrated every year.
The story of Radha and Krishna’s marriage is told in many Puranas, but many people ask whether this lila actually took place or not.
There is some confirmation in the Bhāgavata where the word “wife” (vadhū) is mentioned three times in connection with Radharani.
These references are found in the 30th chapter in the Rasa Lila.
tais taiḥ padais tat-padavīm anvicchantyo’grato’balāḥ |
vadhvāḥ padaiḥ supṛktāni vilokyārtāḥ samabruvan ||
The gopis were searching for Krishna by following his footprints when they saw those of his vadhū next to them. Then, being pained, they began to speak to one another. (10.30.26)
imāny adhika-magnāni padāni vahato vadhūm
[Seeing] these marks more deeply imprinted he was carrying his vadhū (10.30.32)
tataś cāntardadhe kṛṣṇaḥ sā vadhūr anvatapyata
When Krishna disappeared, his vadhū began to suffer greatly.
In the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa and Garga Saṁhitā as well as in other Purāṇas, descriptions of Radha and Krishna’s marriage can be found. But this is not accepted in all sampradayas.
It is also named Priya Kund, because Shriji comes here. Nandalal arranges to come here and take a dip in this sarovar or lake.
This is the kund in the song that Swami Haridasji sings about her bathing lila (Kelimāl 83).
When Nandalal asks Lalitaji to be introduced to Shri Radha, she responds,
“You are just a crazy village boy.”
kahou yah kaki beti kaha dho kunvari kou naun/
tum sab rahou ri hou hi utar deihoun,
chale kin jahu dhouta bai bavarou gaun //
sab sakhi mili cheeraka khelan lagin,
tolou tum rahou ri joloun houn nhaun /
shri haridas ke swami syama kunja bihari,
lei budaki garei lagi chouki pari kahan houn jaun //
Shriji is on her way to bathe in Vrishabhanu Sarovar when Nandalal comes from other side.
Only Shriji can bathe in her father’s lake, so Nandalal understood that she was the daughter of Vrishabhanuji.
Still he asks the sakhis,
“Whose daughter is she? What is her name? She is coming with such pomp and grace.”
Lalitaji hears his words and orders the other girls,
“Don’t answer him. I alone shall speak with him, for only I know the proper way to deal with him!”
She then said to Shyamasundara,
“Only crazy people live in Nandagram. You are also crazy, so go back to your village. This is the home of our Swaminiji! Go back home!”
Syamasundara remained silent but thought,
“She speaks very rudely. Now what should I reply? She speaks so rudely in answer to a single question. I dare not make another inquiry.”
So, all the sakhis went back to playing.
Now see the mercy and love of Radharani. She felt that they had acted unjustly to Shyamasundar.
He was simply asking whose daughter she was and Lalita told him to go back to his crazy village.
She did not think this was proper and so when they all started to play again, she told them,
“You go on playing while I take my bath.”
Shriji left them and went alone in order that Syamasundara could get a chance to meet her on the other side.
So that is how Thakurji got the answer to his questions.
Shriji is so lovely and kind, as she dipped in the water, Shyamasundar then embraced her as she stood in the water. She was shocked.
The biggest festival of Pili Pokhar is when the people of Nandagram come to play holi on Rangili. First they stop there in the kund. When Nandalal comes to play holi, he first tightens his turban and carries his shield for protection as people welcome him.
Here at Pili Pokhar, Narada Muni came to see the childhood lila of Lali Radhika.
Here Narada gave pleasure to Shriji and her sakhis by playing his vina. He then begged alms of them and did their parikrama.
Shri Radhika, a most benevolent child, gave him many sweets, which she had in her hands. Due to her compassion he rolled in the dust, experiencing such a bhava on achieving her blessing. Child Shriji ran away from there with all the female children just like a group of deer running together, on their way home.
At Vrajesvara Maharaj Vrishabhanu worshiped the Shiva linga with various offerings.
At Padrivan Shriji collected flowers for making sanjhi, which is worshipped daily for 15 days.
At Bhanukhar Vrishabhanu took his snana there at the time of the wedding ceremony.
At Maheshwari Sar, Shivaji wanted to become a gopi so Parvati dressed him up as one, and because he was in a male form, dressed as a woman, she made mimicking expressions making fun of him, thinking that he looked so funny.
Pili Pokhar is the other name of this divine place. Radharani washed Mehendi from Her Divine Palms (immersed in love of Shri Krishna) in this pokhar (pond). Radhe Radhe
Hare Krishna, For your kind information Radharani was not washed her Mehndi Hand in Pili Pokhar, She washwd her Turmeric filled hand.
Meaning of Pili Pokhar Pili(Yellow) Pokhar(Kund)
Great holy place near Priyakund tapasthali and divya lila sthal of Lord Radha Krishna “The Divine Couple”.
Pili Kunda (another version)
At Pila Pokhar, Srimati Radharani washed Her hands. Because of Her touch, the kunda turned a golden-yellow color. Pila means “yellow.” This kunda is still a golden-yellow color from when Radharani washed her hands here.
The pastime of this place is that Mother Yasoda really loved Srimati Radharani and wanted Her to marry Krishna.
So one time when Radharani came to Nandagram, Mother Yasoda put some turmeric paste on Her hands. The custom is that when the bride’s father and groom’s father have agreed that their children would get married then the agreement become finalized by applying turmeric paste onto the hands of the future bride.
When Radharani saw her yellow hands, she did not know what to do. After Srimati Radharani came here and washed her hands in the water of this pond. The water of this pond is still yellow today.
This is a peaceful place.
Pila Pokhar is across the road from the Larily Lal Temple, at the bottom of the hill. If you just left the place where most people park to go to the Larily Lal Temple, you go back to the main road (about 200m away). Directly in front of you is a bridge, which you cross. After going about 200m, directly in front of you is Pila Pokhar, behind some buildings (a school). It is a large well-kept kunda and is hard to miss.
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