Within Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves

a song written in 1988 for the Morning Service at the New Vrindaban West Virginia City of God

A painting by a BBT artist of Krishna captivating listeners with the sound of his flute. To listen to Within Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves, go to YouTube.

Every day at ISKCON temples throughout the world (and at many other non-ISKCON Gaudiya-Vaishnava temples), the song Jaya Radha-Madhava by Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur (1838-1914) is sung during the morning worship services. This song, originally written in Bengali, depicts the sweetness of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krishna’s appearance as a cowherd boy in the village of Vrindaban, India, some thousands of years ago, and hints at his loving pastimes with his devotees.

Bhaktivinode explained: “Krishna is the lover of Radha. He displays many amorous pastimes in the groves of Vrindaban. He is the lover of the cowherd maidens of Vraja, the holder of the great hill named Govardhan, the beloved son of mother Yasoda, the delighter of the inhabitants of Vraja, and he wanders in the forests along the banks of the River Yamuna.”

In 1988 Jaya Radha-Madhava was rewritten with English lyrics by Umapati Swami and titled Within Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves. It was subsequently orchestrated by the New Vrindaban music director & composer-in-residence Hrishikesh dasa (Henry Doktorski), accompanied by the musicians of the New Vrindaban City of God Temple Orchestra, and sung by the cantor, choir and congregation at nearly 2,200 New Vrindaban morning services from 1988 through 1994.

This 2005 recording, sung by the long-time New Vrindaban resident cantor Bhavisya devi dasi (Belinda Hymes), is very much like the original version sung at the New Vrindaban temple—with the addition of an elaborate flute cadenza/introduction. Bhavisya devi dasi sang professionally with the popular vocal group The Orlons (a Philadelphia-based rhythm and blues group which won gold discs for three of their hit single records) before joining the New Vrindaban Community, where she lived for fifteen years.

The City of God Temple Orchestra, January 1991.
Bhavisya is the first harpist to our left.

Chorus members in this recording made at Audiomation Recording Studio on the North Side of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, include current and former New Vrindaban residents Damodar dasa, Krpamaya dasa, Dutiful Rama dasa, Terry Logan, Janaki devi dasi, and Pundarika devi dasi, as well as more than a dozen Christian friends from several Pittsburgh-area church choirs. The musicians who played on this recording (two violins, viola, cello, double-bass, harp, flute, piccolo, and percussion) include one member of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and members of other Pennsylvania and Ohio orchestras.

Within Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves
English lyrics by Umapati Swami
Music by Hrishikesh dasa

Within Vrindaban’s woods and groves,
Lord Krishna and Radha unite
To taste the joys of spiritual love.
All glories to this holy sight!

Lord Krishna’s beauty thrills the soul,
Defeating even Cupid’s darts.
The boy who lifted Govardhana
Has won away the Gopis’ hearts.

Yasoda Mata’s darling son,
Yamuna River’s pride and joy;
The treasure of all devotees;
All glories to this cowherd boy!

The composer/music director explained: “This recording of Within Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves is our humble attempt to provide a snapshot of Gaudiya-Vaishnava history in the West. The song, we hope, will glorify Lord Krishna and provide pleasure for the worldwide community of Vaishnavas. We believe that A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder/Acharya of the Hare Krishna movement in the West, approved of the translation of the songs of the Vaishnava acharyas into vernacular languages and their presentation in local musical traditions, and we hope that those who live in English-speaking countries—by hearing Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves—will develop greater appreciation for Bhaktivinode’s original Jaya Radha-Madhava and increase their love for Krishna. Our aim, as originally propounded by the person who established the New Vrindaban community in 1968 and led the community for 26 years, Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada (1937-2011) (Keith Gordon Ham), is to present Krishna consciousness in a way which will be attractive to many people, especially Westerners. Krishna, by definition, is ‘All Attractive,’ and we hope that listeners will come to appreciate some of Krishna’s all-attractive qualities by hearing this song.”

To listen to Within Vrindaban’s Woods and Groves, on YouTube, Click Here.


Painting by BBT artist of Krishna playing his flute.

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