The glories of Keli-kadamba
Lakshman (das) Vrindavan (IN): The keli-kadamba resembles the mood and complexion of Srimati Radharani. Whenever Sri Krishna thinks of Radharani, He saw the Keli-kadamba in Vrindavan. The Keli-kadamba is a kind of fragrant and beautiful flower resembling like snowy balls often seen in Vrindavan. The Lord enjoys the pleasure of Keli-kadamba flowers and devotees offer delightful garlands of it. The Keli-kadamba flowers blossom in summer and the Lord enjoys the enchanting rasa dance in the shade of the kadamba trees of Vrindavan.
At Kaliya-hrada, a Keli-kadamba tree stands and people still enchant us with the ecstatic stories of Krishna’s game of dive from it to the River Yamuna to chastise the Kaliya snake. This kadamba tree is said to be the same Krishna enjoyed during His glorious pastimes 5,000 years ago. The Bhakti-ratnakara says that taking bath in the holy tirtha of Kaliya-hrada will free one from all sins.
Krishna started cow herding in the morning from the Ter kadamba tree near Nandagram. At the evening, Krishna climbed upon the Keli kadamba tree and played His flute to call His herd of nine hundred thousand divine cows. It is where Rupa Goswami did bhajan and wrote his wonderful books like the Nectar of Devotion, Lalita Madhava, and Bidagdha Madhava.
In Cheer Ghat, the Gopies often bathed in the Yamuna. One day, Krishna stole away their garments and hung up in the branches of the Keli-kadamba stood on the bank of Yamuna. Hardly finding a way out, the girls at last emerged uncovered from water and arrived before their Divine Lover to pick up their clothes.
In the goshala of our ISKCON Vrindavan Krishna Balaram Temple, there are some Keli-kadamba trees. In summer, the trees blossom and it is a pastime for the matajis here to dress like the Gopies and pluck flowers to make divine offerings of garlands for their Radha Shyam-Sundar.
Once a Radha’s sakhi said to Her, “O lotus eyed Goddess of Vrinda, please look at the foot of a Keli-kadamba. Krishna’s beauty par excels like a rising rain cloud. The shine of His earrings envies even the Ushus (morning sun). His eyebrows resemble like the flowery arrows of the goddess of love showered from a rainbow. The jasmine garland on his chest appears like a flock of flying herons in the sky. The beautiful yellow garment on His waist glitters like lightning. His dance sounds like the growl of thunder inviting a shower. The rasa of dance flows like a free flowing stream of honey to us.”
Nityananda Prabhu once asked, “Raghava Pandita, please get me soon a garland of kadamba flowers, for I’ am fond of it and prefer to dwell in a kadamba grove.” The devoted Raghava Pandita honoured the Lord and said, “Lord, it’s not the season of kadamba flowers.” Lord Nityananda said, “Go home and search, you may find be a flower or two.” When Raghav reached home, he was surprised to see beautiful kadamba flowers bloomed on a lemon tree in his courtyard. Arresting his ecstasy, he made a garland of kadamba flowers and brought it to Lord Nityananda. The Lord was very pleased and wore it at once.
A couple of interesting verses from Vrindavana Mahimamrta (Sataka 16.49-50) of Srila Prabhodananda Sarasvati explaining the glories of kadamba flowers,
nityam manda-sugandha-sitala-marut-samsevite sarvato divyamoda-milaj-jala-sthala-bhavaneka-prasunodgame kalindi-tata-nipa-raji-su-tale khelat kisora-dvayam nana-kama-kala-rasena satatam tad gaura-nilam bhaje
kalindi-puline kadamba-vitapi-cchayasu ratnollasad valli-mandapa ujjvale marakatonmilat-pradipalini mukta-kudmala-guccha-hira-kusume vaidurya-sat-pallave dhyayami smara-keli-narma-nirataà sri-radhika-madhavam
“I worship the fair and dark youthful divine couple who under the kadamba trees by the Yamuna’s shore, where many fragrant and splendid flowers bloom in the land and water, and where gentle, cooling, fragrant breezes blow, eternally enjoy the nectar of many graceful amorous pastimes. I meditate on Sri Sri Radhika-Madhava who, on the Yamuna’s shore, in the shade of kadamba trees, in a splendid pavilion of glittering jewels lit by sapphire lamps and glorious with pearl flower-buds, diamond flowers, and lapis lazuli sprouting twigs, enjoy playful amorous joking.”
Narottama Das Thakura tells,
radha-krishna prana mora jugala-kisora jivane marane gati aro nahi mora
kalindira kule keli-kadambera vana ratana-bedira upara bosabo du’jana
“The divine couple, Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, are my life and soul. In life or death I have no other refuge but Them. In a forest of small kadamba trees on the bank of the Yamunä, I will seat the divine couple on a throne made of brilliant jewels.”
Rupa Gosvami often did his bhajan in the shade of Ter kadamba at Nandagram in Vrndavana. While he wrote the pangs of separation between Radha and Krishna, kadamba shed leaves like tears of sorrow. When Rupa wrote the reunion of the Divine Lovers, the kadamba tree developed new sprouts and blossomed flowers showing hearty welcome to Them.”
The Srimad Bhagavatam (3.8.28) says,
kadamba-kinjalka-pisanga-vasasa svalankrtam mekhalaya nitambe harena cananta-dhanena vatsa srivatsa-vaksah-sthala-vallabhena
“O my dear Vidura, the Lord’s waist was covered with yellow cloth resembling the saffron dust of the kadamba flower, and it was encircled by a well-decorated belt. His chest was decorated with the srivatsa marking and a necklace of unlimited value.”
A verse from Caitanya Caritamrta (Madhya Lila 25.68) tells,
kampa, svara-bhanga, sveda, vaivarnya, stambha asru-dharaya bhije loka, pulaka-kadamba
“Ecstatic spiritual transformations began to take place in the Lord’s body. His body trembled, and His voice faltered. He perspired, turned pale and wept a constant flow of tears, which wet all the people standing there. The eruptions on the Lord’s body appeared like kadamba flowers.”
Rupa Gosvami tells in Laghu-bhagavatamrita (1.277.78) that Goloka is a majestic manifestation of Gokula, which is sweet to the eye and so par excels. As the glory of Goloka, Rupa cites from the Varaha Purana: The kadamba trees of Goloka spread its grandeur of opulence with hundreds of branches, while those of Gokula are of average posture, though honey to the heart. Nevertheless, the kadambas of Gokula excel those of Goloka in sweetness of Krishna’s omnipresent pastimes in Goloka and so is different from His scintillating lilas with adorable humane glories of Gokula in this mundane world.