Mathura : India | Aug 04, 2012 at 9:36 AM PDT
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Widows of Vrindavan

In recent times the news about the plight of Vrindavan widows are widely reported in newspapers. Living conditions of these hapless widows are sad and shocking in the literal sense of those words.

I had been to Mathura to have a darshan a few years ago at the holy place which is popularly known as Shree Krishna Janmabhumi (the birth place of Lord Krishna) where thousands of Krishna devotees and visitors throng from Uttar Pradesh and other States across India. Among those who visit the sacred place include a large number of tourists. I was also one among them.

When the bus carrying us reached Mathura, it was sunset moments.

Along with other tourists most of them devotees of Lord Krishna, I too went round the premises and we could hear bhajans (hymns) from inside by the devotees. The tourist guide, a Jodhpuri Brahmin youth guided us and explained in detail the rich heritage of Mathura and greatness of the temple where Krishna was born, the story of Vasudeva and Devaki, Lord Krishna’s parents, the place where Devaki had given birth to Lord Krishna and other places of importance. It was time for ‘deepharadana’ (the worship of lamps). The guide advised us to go inside where we saw devotees sitting on the floor chanting ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna Hare Rama, Hare Rama’ incessantly. We too joined them for sometime and when the door of Sanctum Sanctorum was shut for the day’s ‘deeparadhana’ all got up and stood in queues whispering ‘bhajans’ till the door was thrown open by the priest and whisperings of bhajans turned loud which within no time reached its crescendo when the door was opened.

Lord Krishna and Radha in their golden attire both of them smiling at the devotees were illuminated with lamps and glittering ornaments, we stood there praying for a long time and later with a bit of reluctance we began to move outside. It was quite dark and the street lamps had already opened their eyes, we saw young women with their kids begging to each one passing by, their ragged sarees and blouses, rib-caged bodies all made me sad. They even went to the extent of touching the feet of each one passing along and stretched their hands with all humility to dole out something to them. It was a pity sight but surprisingly, painfully I witnessed no one doling out anything to the poor ladies. Our guide, the Jodhpuri Brahmin youth joined us while the ladies with kids approached us stretching their hands begging for something, our guide took them to task and chased them away angrily. He explained to us about them in detail. Those ladies were widows from U.P. and from outside States like Rajasthan, Bengal, Bihar etc. Pointing an accusing finger at them he was complaining to us about them creating nuisance to those who visit the holy place, seeking alms.

I was wondering about the famous temples where devotees from across the country pay visits for darshan(glimpse), the surroundings of such temples are crowded with beggars who come to seek alms from the devotees – rich and middle class alike. While the rich offer lakhs and lakhs of rupees and gold ornaments to Gods for propitiating them seeking their blessing these devotees care not to donate even a single paisa to the hapless beggars. Mad consumerism in the premises of the temples are a bane where the businessmen mercilessly extract huge amounts from the visitors who approach them to purchase various items. Similar is the case of Hotels and Lodges charging exorbitant amounts from each customer – all in the name of God.

Now let’s come back to the shocking stories of Vrindavan widows.

During my visit to Mathura I was not even aware of such a place and widows who are sheltered there. I couldn’t hear any one talking about the wretched, pathetic life those widows were leading in the holy land of Mathura. Even our guide the Jodhpuri Brahmin youth - his name was Ishwar – didn’t talk about such shelters.

I came to know about the disgusting lives of the poor, utterly poor widows through newspapers in recent times that too from newspaper reports. They have nobody to extend a helping hand, no where to go,no one to provide them with basic needs of life like food, dress and other basic amenities.

Even a wicked person might be shocked and shaken when he learns about the pitiful life the widows were leading. At present around 1790 widows are sheltered in four shelters of Vrindavan. One of the most abhorrent and deplorable truths is that citing lack of space for a burial ground, those who are bound to look after the needs of these accursed human beings. The ones entrusted with conducting the ritual chop the dead widows’ bodies into pieces and pack them in sacks and dispose of them somewhere. Horrible. Even this word is not sufficient to describe the fate of such lives on the face of this earth. Since a long time this abhorrent, nasty deplorable practice is being practice and followed in a nation which we fondly call Incredible India.

A Public Interest Litigation filed by the National Law Authority of India before the honorable Supreme Court drew the attention of the august office explaining the practice being followed and also the tearing living conditions of Vrindavan widows. The shocked and angered Judges on hearing about the whole story heavily came down on the authorities responsible for such a pitiable condition. The Honorable Court reportedly took to task the National Commission for Women (NCW) and urged upon all the responsible authorities to look into the matter at the earliest, and provide the widows with basic needs of life like food and dress materials, also make necessary arrangements for preparing a decent burial ground for those who breath their last - with immediate effect. The court took time to draw the attention of International Society for Krishna Consciousness and do its utmost for the benefits of Vrindavan widows.

Hope, better sense would prevail upon all those who are responsible for the welfare of the hapless widows.

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Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India
From: Jim Shannon
krsurendran is based in Kochi, Kerala, India, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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