Chhatikara, the village named after Krishna Lila

A name is solid identity marker for a place. The villages and towns in Braj reflect to the influence of its culture and social connotations. The culture of Braj is based on the childhood pastime of Shri Krishna. There are local specifications and certain suffixes and prefixes that cater to certain areas. Some of the names sound familiar, some almost the same, whereas some have a unique feel and sound. Yet each of these has a special meaning that connects it to the place and unfolds its character. Sometime people wonder how the place got its name.

In this article, you will know how the village of Chhatikara got its name. These days Chhatikara has become an important junction to reach Vrindavan and Govardhan, Radhakund from the National Highway -2.

A gate at Chhatikara Road

The name of Chhatikara used to be Shakatikara. It is believed that the name Shakatikara is derived from the word ‘shakat’ which means ‘cart/Bullock cart’ and the word ‘kara’ means a ‘half-circle’ like shape of crescent moon or ‘circular’. This place became known as Shakatikara because the Brajavasis used bullock-carts (shakat) to set up their residence . Nand Baba and the Brajvasis placed their bullock carts in a circular shape to provide maximum protection to their families and livestock from wild animals and other predators.

 Krishna and Balaram would go to Vrindavan and other nearby places from here, to graze the calves and cows. Krishna performed rasa-lila and other Braj pastimes while living here .

The village of Shakatikara (Chhatikara) is  the place where Krishna enjoyed many of His boyhood pastimes along with His friends among the cowherd boys. When Nand Baba and all the inhabitants of Gokul were forced to leave their homes due to the disturbances created by various demons, they decided to move to the forest of Vrindavan on the western bank of the Yamuna River.

After loading all their possessions onto bullock carts, they crossed the Yamuna near Bhandiravan and set up their camp at Shakatikara. It is mentioned in the Puranas that the forest of Vrindavan covered a vast area which also included Sakatikara. It is believed that the name Shakatikara is derived from the word ‘shakat’ which means ‘cart’ and the word ‘kara’ means a ‘half-circle’(shape of a crescent moon ) or ‘circular’. In other words, Nand Maharaj and the Brajvasis placed their bullock carts in a circular shape like shape of crescent moon to provide maximum protection to their families and livestock from wild animals and other predators while setting up their camp.

When the residents of Gokul moved to Shakatikara, Vrishabhanu Baba, father of Sri Radha, also decided to join his friend Nand Baba in the great exodus from the area of Mahavan forest, and after crossing the Yamuna along with the residents of Gokul, set up his camp at a place called Vasati, just a short distance from Shakatikara. Krishna’s arrival at Shakatikara marked the end of His kaumar-lila, or pastimes as a baby, and the beginning of his paugand-lila, or boyhood pastimes.

Garud Govind

The current name of Shakatikara is Chhattikara. It is on the Delhi–Mathura highway, about four miles from Mathura and two miles from Vrindavan.

 Nand Maharaj left Gokul when Krishna was three years and four months old, having more or less completed His ‘kaumar-lila’. At Shakatikara, Krishna enjoyed His ‘paugand-lila’ and began taking out the calves along with other cowherd boys of the same age. Krishna celebrated His fifth birthday at Shakatikara and after a few more months Nand Maharaj left Shakatikara and after staying at a few places such as Dig and Kamyavan,  finally settled at Nandagaon when Krishna was six years and eight months old .

It is believed that Shakatikara is the same place that is mentioned in Bhaktiratnakara as being the holy place known as Shakat Rohan, which also called Shasthi karatavi, and is situated near to Garud-Govind tirtha.

The Bhakti-ratnakar says. “We have entered the place called Shasthikara, although previously it was known as Shasthi karatavi, and presently people call this place Shasthigara. It is a beautiful pleasant place and very dear to Krishna. Bumblebees are always humming in the forest of flowers. By bathing in the kund here one will get supreme bliss.”

The Adivaraha Purana says. “One and a half yojanas from Mathura is my supreme abode named Shakat Rohan. Many thousands of bumblebees live there. Whoever fasts for one night and then takes bath there is certain to attain happiness in Vidyadhar lok.”

The most important place of interest at Shakatikara is the famous temple of Garud Govind Ji, which is believed to be around five thousand years old and is said to have been established by Vajranabha. The temple is located at the spot where Lord Vishnu’s eagle carrier Garud used to come to offer his prayers to Vrindavan. This was because of the curse given by Subhari Muni, that Garud would immediately die if he ever came anywhere near the Yamuna. Due to this curse, Garud was unable to enter the most confidential part of Vrindavan known as Seva Kunj where Krishna’s Raas Lila pastime took place. Therefore, it is said that he used to come to Shakatikara and offer his prayers from this spot.

During the time that Krishna lived at Shakatikara, He would come to this place where Garud Govind temple is situated ,with his cowherd boyfriends to enjoy various pastimes. One day while everyone was playing, Krishna’s dear friend Shridam, Sri Radha’s young brother, suddenly manifested the same mood and form of Garud. Upon seeing this wonderful manifestation, Krishna, to the great delight of all the cowherd boys, immediately manifested his form of Lord Vishnu known as Govind dev and mounted the shoulders of Shridam and together they enjoyed pastimes as Garud and Govind.

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