Just a few days ago at Sankari Khor, the Brajabāsīs, the men from Barsana and the men from Nandagram, squared off sitting opposite to each other to celebrate the burhi-lila festival, this most intimate pastime of where Kṛṣṇa would stop the gopis and steal their yogurt.
This path would separate Vilas Garh Hill from the main hill and Kṛṣṇa would sometimes break Rādhārāṇi’s milk pots when she would not pay the tax. Even imbedded in the stones here you can see the marks of those broken pots. Dan Garh is the place where the taxes would be assessed. This pastime is known as dan-lila or matuki-lila.
In this pastime a boy playing Kṛṣṇa stops another boy dressed as Rādhārāṇi, who tries to walk by carrying a pot. Sankari means “narrow”. This narrow passageway is between the village of Chiksoli (Citra) and the town of Varsana. The path becomes very narrow at this place, with the rock coming down sharply making a V. These boys, Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa would be placed on the backs of two stong sure-footed Brajabāsīs, who would scamper up the hill with ease to initiate this pastime.
What a spectacle as each side of Kanai and Shri Ji’s representatives would chant wonderful bhajans in unison in glorification of their isthadeva. Each traditional bhajan has been passed down for the last 5,000 years, and for the present residents one can perceive a life long heart felt memorization of these songs.
First a mahant from the Nandagram side would sing a song in glorification the greatness and superiority, of Kṛṣṇa Kanai, with the mood being of tax time…”Now pay up to the Lord of Vrindaban.” Then it would be the Barsana vasis, who would counter, correctly describing the superiority of Srimati Rādhārāṇi, “She is the Queen of this forest, how dare You tax Her?” These loving arguments would go back an forth, opposite sides of love.
Shri Ramesh Bābājī Mahārāja would be seated in the center, silent, immersed in the internal bhava of the lila while the others stand, chastise, defend, acting as external puppets of the Female or Male Supreme. In between you would have the Brajavasi youth sporting sunglasses, pan and a comical demeanor as the ‘elders’ performed the role play. Behind on Vilas Garh Hill, the residents would watch the fun, a rainbow of multicolored saris, waving leaffans and broken branches to counteract the heat of the day.
One cannot help but appreciate how this is the most powerful interactive lila where the participants become ‘extensions’ of the Deities. Such rasa, argument, and dominating conclusions, is a ‘true to life’ enactment of the Lord’ lila, an unforgettable cultural chisel on the heart of every observer.