The white monument that you see across River Yamuna is the sacred samadhi of Devraha Baba. It is part of the lesser known Vrindavan. Its acres of greens and peace are known to its seekers. I remember the full moon night of Sharad Purnima when I looked at these trees from across the river, I found them blooming with big, white flowers or so I thought at first glance. They were egrets, resting for the night! As I was camping in a tent here, I was lucky to catch them rise before the sun and take off, sweeping over the midnight-blue waters of Sri Yamuna.
On another trip in late January I was in for a treat, yet again – thousands of water birds were in and around the river here. I spent a lazy afternoon lying on the grass, watching and listening to the birds and sharing their celebration. The sound of a boatman rowing was the loudest sound other than the birds’ music.
And it’s not even a boatman, many a times. It’s a lad of 10 or 12 – one of the many young boys who live in nearby Pani Gaon. Anyone who can make the boat move to the other bank, may take it to ferry himself or passengers. Rs 5 or 10 for a round trip per person is all it takes to visit the Samadhi. The Samadhi is a calm and beautiful place, surrounded by greenery, fields, accommodation (after all it is an ashram, a place for seekers to meditate in devotion.), Jaleshwar Mahadeva Shiva temple and a kitchen where wood fire is used for cooking. The kitchen is open for everyone. Any contribution is simply put into donation boxes. The simplicity and warmth of the ashram people is a wealth that one hopes to own.
A wholesome meal of buttermilk, roti and moong dal cooked with fresh raddishes from the ashram’s fields becomes a feast, and stays on in memory. The abundance that graced the ashram was very real. The wood came from trees grown and pruned as needed. The buttermilk and ghee came from cows, reared with honour and love in the gaushala. Vegetables and grains came from the fields. Anyone could walk in and eat as much as needed. The timings are given as under:
1 March to 30 September (Summer)
1 October to 28 February (Winter)
Bal Bhog (Breakfast time for baby Krishna)
8-8.30am in Summer
9-9.30am in Winter
Raj Bhog (Lunch time as for Dwarikadhesh Krishna)
12 noon to 2pm in Summer
1-3pm in Winter
Ratri Prasad (Dinner for seekers of the Divine)
9-10pm in Summer
8-9pm in Winter
At this or any other ashram in Vrindavan, and perhaps all over India, plates are to be cleaned and dried and arranged in the due place for them after eating. At Devraha Baba Ashram I scrubbed my plate with wood ash and coconut coir before rinsing it. Wood ash is an ancient cleaning material, and free of harmful chemicals.
Jaleshwar Mahadev Temple
In this temple, one quiet afternoon, a devotee was performing Rudra puja, the oldest known chants of worship, from the Rig Veda.
Devraha Baba’s Samadhi, Vrindavan
The Samdhi is a machan.
Turtles in River Yamuna
At the river bank I have seen a snake being stalked by a peacock, and many turtles in the river.