“Of all seasons, I am flower-bearing spring”
(Krishna in Bhagavad-gita)
The best time of the year is approaching: spring. Let us take the full benefit. It’s a time when we shake off the long nights, cold days and gloomy atmosphere of the winter. It’s a time of new beginnings, of retrieved enthusiasm and of opportunities – if we connect with the Lord of spring.
Everything has its origin in Krishna
In spiritual life we always like to connect with the source of everything and put Krishna in the center. In material life we put ourselves into the center and suffer. Let me therefore give you a little insight into how the arrival of spring is celebrated in the contemporary culture of Vrindavan. I sincerely hope that you will be enlivened.
Holi in Vrindavan
With the arrival of Vasant Pancami, all of Vrindavan becomes uniquely adorned. Nature is expressing its love for Krishna by exhibiting beautiful colors in the already scenic landscape of Vraja. The sweet Vasant Rasa of Vraja is further enhanced by the fragrance of infinite blossoming flowers. Excitement is in the air! In fact, the entire land of Vraja, with all its villages and little towns appears to be overjoyed: the ecstatic, colorful, inspiring “Hori” festivity is coming.
The festival of Holi in Vraja is different from Holi in the rest of the world in regards to intensity and duration. While the Holi festival is observed on one day only in other parts of the world, it goes on for forty full days in Vraja!
How Holi is celebrated in the spiritual world
On Vasant Pancami, Madhumangala and Sridham are conversing with the gopis in Varsana. The gopis are asking the gopas, “How are you going to enjoy Holi this time? As far as we are concerned we will color you from head to toe and we will definitely defeat you at Lathmar Holi.”
The gopas replied to this sweet challenge with the following song:
“O, gopis! Do you know who will color you the most this time? It is the bearer of the peacock feather and the bejeweled crown. He will definitely color you the most.
“He holds a bejeweled flute in His hands and wears a single garment made of a blanket, which engulfs Him from head to toe. He is the only devata(demigod) who protects the cows. He will color you.
“The king of the demigods, Indra, displayed his anger by sending torrents of heavy rainfall all over Vraja. At that time He was the only one who protected the land of Vraja. He who is known as the savior of whole Vraja will color you.
“Even the great poet Surdas affirms that He, just to have a close meeting with His loved ones, held the greatest of all mountains (Girivar) on His left hand. He will definitely color you this time.
Through this conversation the gopas promised or challenged the gopis in the name of Krishna and even the gopis too well accepted the challenge.
The gopas then informed Krishna and Balarama, and the other cowherd boys about his sweet conversation with the gopis.
Even today this sweet conversation is told to Krishna Balarama in Nandagram at Their shayan arati  during the month of phalguna (Holi month). Because its bedtime this arati is usually sung softly. But on this occasion big kettledrums are brought into the chamber before the altar and with a lot of joyful noise this very same song is sung - just to remind Krishna and Balarama that the Nandagram gopas have promised the Varsana gopis that Krishna will color them. So in order not to forget this promise, not even in Their dreams, the Nandagram gopas are reminding Krishna and Balarama even at the time of Their sleeping.
Most of us heard about Holi and seen pictures of the Vraja ladies (representing the gopis on Radha’s side), beating the men (representing Krishna’s party). Others remember how tons of color are thrown into faces, ears and noses. It seems a little robust for the uninitiated observer - and competitive of sorts. But that is only the outer appearance. There is a sweet secret hiding. In the local Vraja language that is addressed like this:
“Braj Hori ke khel ki jagat son ulati reet
Yahan jeetat main hi haar hai aur harat mein hi jeet"
“This game of Vraja Holi has an extraordinary rule, which you will not find anywhere else in the world: Here the looser wins and the one who appears to be winning looses.”
In other words in the realm of divine love there are no winners or loosers. All are extremely benefited beyond comparison.
This year’s Holi is celebrated in Varsana on the 5th of March and in Nandagram on the 6th of March. The Brijabasis have extended their invitation to all of us by saying, “Please come either physically or with your heart and soul and get colored!”
Spring in the West
Although not all of us might celebrate the festival of colors by physically throwing colors over each other, we still can give our life a new color – like nature around us who will soon dress in the festive colors of spring.
We can energize our life, even reinvent ourselves if necessary and depart from harmful patterns of life, which like unnecessary winter outfits don’t serve us any more. Spring is the best time to utilize the promise of excitement, which is in the atmosphere to move forward.
As I look out of my window nature is mounting up to soon explode with a festive joyous exclamation to celebrate its Master and Mover. Are you also?
Let me end this article with a short poem:
There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled.
You feel it, don´t you?