Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan is one of the most famous Hindu temples in Mathura, a district of Uttar Pradesh.
The temple has Shri Banke Bihari as the main deity. This form is believed to be the combined form of Shri Krishna and Radhaji.
The initial temple of Banke Bihari was in Nidhivan, Vrindavan, but in 1892 a beautiful temple was constructed dedicated to Bankey Bihari, and the main deity was shifted here
There is an image of Shri Banke Bihari in the temple in which he is depicted standing in the Tribhanga pose with Radha. In this pose, his body is bent in three places. Therefore he got the name “Banke,” meaning bent, and “Vihari” or “Bihari,” meaning the enjoyer.
Swami Haridas, who was a great poet and classical musician, worshipped the same image of Shri Banke Bihari under the name of “Kunj Bihari.” The word “Kunj” means a small wood, and the name means the one who enjoys the Kunj of Nidhivan.
He is depicted wearing garlands of flowers and holding a striking flute bedecked with stones and jewels.
History of Shri Banke Bihari Temple
The history of the Banke Bihari Temple comes from the Dvapara Yuga. At that time, a great poet, Swami Haridas, sang a verse dedicated to Lord Krishna upon his disciple’s request. Hearing him sing the verse, the heavenly couple Radha Krishna appeared in front of Swamiji.
And on request of Swami Haridas, the couple combined their forms, and the form emerged and got the name of Shri Banke Bihari.
It is said that the image installed in the temple is the original image Swamiji got from Shri Krishna and Goddess Radha.
Swamiji requested the couple to take a combined form for his students, and the couple obliged, and they left an image displaying their combined form before leaving.
Formation of Shri Bankey Bihari
We know Shri Bankey Bihari is a combined form of Radha Krishna but do you know how this happened?
Swami Haridas was the reincarnation of Lalita Sakhi, who was the consortium of Lord Krishna. Hence Swami Haridas, as a kid, was always absorbed in meditation, reading books and scriptures while other kids used to play.
After his marriage, his wife Harimati learned about her husband’s inclination towards Bhagwan Krishna and meditation. She, too, was a holy soul, and therefore she divulged herself into deep meditation so much that she was transported to the home of the Lord.
And after this, Swamiji too left his home and went to a quiet area where he could sing verses praising God, meditate and read without interference. This place later came to be known as Nidhivan.
But one day, Swamiji’s students got curious about the place, so they took his permission and went to see it. But they were shocked to see the dazzling light of the place and were almost blinded by the light.
Upon knowing about this, Swamiji requested God. Then Shri Krishna and Radhaji appeared in in-person form with a divine aura surrounding them. The beauty of the divine couple is so much that normal people can’t even bear the light.
But everyone wanted to look at the divine couple, so Swamiji requested the couple to take the form of clouds and lightning. A metaphor for describing the combined form of dark Krishna and his fair consort Radhaji so mortals could see their form.
Then they took the form of Shri Banke Bihari and left a single appealing black idol, the one in the temple today. Swamiji asked the couple for such a favour because he wanted to have his God always with him.
The Darshan of Shri Banke Bihari
The view of the idol is hidden behind the curtains because the godly charm and divine look of Shri Banke Bihari can make one lose self-consciousness.
The responsibility of taking care of Shri Banke Bihari was handed to Goswami Jagannath by Swamiji himself. Goswami Jagannath was one of the main students of Swamiji and also his brother.
Even to this date, the descendants of Goswami take care of the entire temple and Shri Banke Bihari. In 1892, a new temple displaying the glory and grace of Lord Krishna and Radhaji was constructed.
Worship of the idol
The worship of Shri Banke Bihari is done in a quite different way. First, there is “Shringar,” when the idol is given a bath, dressed and adorned with jewels, and then is “Rajbhog,” in which the feast is offered to God. And Shayan, which means sleeping offered during the evening.
In this temple, there is no morning aarti, which is why Swamiji thought that his childlike God takes rest and gets disturbed due to morning aarti. This is the same reason the entire temple has no bell. Swamiji considered it inappropriate to wake up a child with the sharp sound of bells.
The deity doesn’t wake up till 9 AM because it is believed that the Lord slept late at night. He is gently woken like a kid.
Festivals of the Shri Banke Bihari Temple
There is a festival performed in the Banke Bihari Temple called the Jhula Yatra, or the swing festival, in which Shri Banke Bihari is placed on silver ornamented swings.
During this period, he is on the swing, and you can’t continuously look at him because there are curtains to disrupt the view.
It is because his brilliant eyes can make anyone unconscious.
Janmashtami was the day when Bhagwan Krishna was born, and in the entire year, it is the only day when early morning aarti takes place. So this glorious day is celebrated with pure devotion and lots of enthusiasm.
Radha was reincarnated as the daughter of Shri Vrishnuhbhanu Ji, and she was born on the eighth day of Bhadrapad month. Therefore Radhashtami festival is celebrated with a grand ceremony every year. The entire temple is decorated beautifully. And there are plays staged too.
The festival of Holi is celebrated with great excitement and goes on for days. During this time, Shri Bankey Bihari is placed in a silver hut, allowing devotees to get a closer look. The deity wears a white robe, but the entire robe becomes colourful by the end of the day.
Dulandhi is the day after Holika Dahan, and everyone plays Holi. But, still, on this day, Shri Bankey Bihari doesn’t play with colours and instead watches over his devotees playing with colours while sitting on a high throne.
Timing of Shri Banke Bihari Temple
This is the daily timing of the temple. You can enter the temple based on the list given:
For summer (after Holi)
7:45 AM to 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM.
For winter (after Diwali)
8:45 AM to 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Morning Darshan – 7: 45 AM to 12:00 PM (summer) and 8:45 AM to 1:00 PM (winter)
Shringar aarti – 8:00 AM (summer) and 8:30 AM (winter)
Rajbhog – 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM (summer) and 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM (winter)
Closing – 12:00 PM (summer) and 1:00 PM (winter)
Evening Darshan – 5:30 PM to 9:00 PM (summer) and 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Shayan Bhog – 8:30 PM to 9:00 PM (summer) and 7:30 PM to 8:00 PM
Closing – 9:30 PM (summer) and 8:30 PM (winter)
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