sri sri guru gauranga jayatah!
Year 2, Issue 11, Amāvasyā
Posted: 15 November 2020
Dedicated to and Inspired by
nitya-lila pravista om visnupada
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Māhārāja
By Living in Vraja, You Can Attain the Vraja-bhakti You Aspire For
Appearing in English for the first time
gurau goṣṭhe goṣṭhālayiṣu sujane bhūsura-gaṇe
sva-mantre śrī-nāmni vraja-nava-yuva-dvandva-śaraṇe
sadā dambhaṁ hitvā kuru ratim apūrvām atitarām
aye svāntar bhrātaś caṭubhir abhiyāce dhṛta-padaḥ
Śrī Manaḥ-śikṣā (1)
Why is Vraja-dhāma [goṣṭha] mentioned in this verse? Without staying in Vraja, O brother, you cannot attain the bhakti you desire from anywhere else.
It is said jekhāne sādhu [vaiṣṇava] gaṇa sekhāne vṛndāvana – the place where sādhus [Vaiṣṇavas] reside is indeed Vṛndāvana. This is a fact. Mahāprabhu has said this. But if this is true, then why does Mahāprabhu anxiously desire to come to Vṛndāvana? Why? Wherever He resides, He remembers Vṛndāvana. [In Purī,] if He sees a hillock – Caṭaka Parvat – He sees it as Govardhana. He sees the ocean as Yamunā and a forest as Vṛndāvana. He is ever immersed in thoughts of Vṛndāvana and is anxious to come to Vṛndāvana.
But what was His condition when He actually came to Vṛndāvana? Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya was with Him. Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya thought, “Let me quickly take Him away from here. Who knows what accident may befall Him? It is unpredictable. He could drown in the [Yamunā] river. Anything could happen.” It was for this reason that he only allowed Mahāprabhu to stay here [in Vṛndāvana] for eight or ten days. Balabhadra Bhaṭṭācārya then took Mahāprabhu and swiftly left.
Our Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has said that this verse is the essence of bhajana:
smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam iti upadeśa-sāram
Śrī Upadeśāmṛta (8)
Reside in Vraja under the guidance of Vrajavāsīs, guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and chant Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa’s holy names while continuously meditating upon Their pastimes. That’s it. This, indeed, is the essence of all instruction. In this verse, also, residing in Vraja is mentioned.
Possessing unprecedented rati [ratim apūrvām] for the Vrajavāsīs can be understood in two ways: one general and the other special.
The general understanding is to have unprecedented rati for the uttama mahā-bhāgavatas of our sampradāya[referred to in Manaḥ-śikṣā, verse 1] who reside in Vṛndāvana while meditating upon and serving the Divine Couple in a special way. This is the ordinary perspective.
And what is the special perspective? Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī states:
yat kiñcit tṛṇa-gulma-kīkaṭa-mukhaṁ goṣṭhe samastaṁ hi tat
sarvānandamayaṁ mukunda-dayitaṁ līlānukūlaṁ param
śāstrair eva muhur muhuḥ sphuṭam idam niṣṭaṅkitaṁ yācñyā
brahmāder api saspṛheṇa tad idaṁ sarvaṁ mayā vandyate
Stavāvalī (Vraja-vilāsa-stava 102)
[I glorify all the living entities of Vraja, including the grass, bushes, insects, and birds, which are all filled with transcendental bliss. Their fortune is aspired for by personalities like Śrī Brahmā and Uddhava. Śrīmad-Bhāgavatamand other śāstras have repeatedly and clearly propounded their glories. They are very dear to Śrī Mukunda and are suitable to assist in His pastimes.]
What perception the exalted Vrajavāsīs have of the living entities of Vraja!
We perceive the dhāma as it is visible now [with our material eyes], inhabited by people and so forth. That is dṛśyamāna-prakāśa. If we think that the dhāma we perceive with our material eyes is the eternal dhāma, it will be problematic, as here there are many thieves, miscreants, rickshaw-wāllās, dacoits, cheaters and other such persons. From rickshaw-wāllās to others, all try to cheat the pilgrims to extract money from them. An ordinary man thus becomes bewildered and develops a disliking for Vraja.
But what is Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī is saying? Yat kiñcit tṛṇa-gulma-kīkaṭa-mukhaṁ – the grass, bushes, creepers, trees, humans, cows, tigers, lions, bears, snakes, scorpions, and even the mosquitoes and the mice – all are suitable for Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes and are by nature composed of eternality, cognizance and bliss (sac-cid-ānanda). Can we see like this?
Someone may imagine he has such perception. For example, a person walking on a pathway sees a bull approaching. He assumes the bull to be part of Prabhu Kṛṣṇa’s līlā. What will happen? The bull will attack him with his horns, and it will be done [his imagined perception will be shattered].
There is a difference between our present consciousness and perception and theirs [Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī’s and mahā-bhāgavatas like him]. Only they truly have such vision. Yat kiñcit tṛṇa-gulma-kīkaṭa-mukhaṁ. For them, everything that exists in Vraja is by nature sac-cid-ānanda. This is true for them. But we, according to our current qualification, perceive the dhāma in accordance with the general perspective. That is a fact.
Who does this Stavāvalī verse apply to? It applies to those mahātmās, whether born in Vraja or not, who reside here in Vraja doing bhajana with a mood towards Kṛṣṇa like those of the Vrajavāsīs, especially like those of gopīspossessing the topmost mādhurya-rasa. Consider those mahātmās to be Vrajavāsīs and serve them. What service to them should you perform? Serve the hari-kathā emanating from their mouths. Serve their foot-dust. What does this mean? It refers to all these things [their moods]. By serving them in this way, one will attain a very excellent rati for them. Then it will be bhajana.
Therefore, mahā-bhāgavatas perceive the dhāma in one way and ordinary persons perceive it in another. But always keep in mind that whatever Śrīla Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī has said here [in the Stavāvalī verse] is the ultimate truth. One day we will have to attain that [consciousness]. Then we will be able to see everything that exists in Vraja – the trees, the creepers, the bushes, everything – as transcendental and suitable for Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. But in our current stage, we should consider those who are doing bhajana here with moods of Vraja – whether they were born in Vraja or not – to be Vrajavāsīs, and associate with them. This will be beneficial for you. Do not oppose those who, although born here, are antagonistic towards bhakti, but do not keep any connection with them.
That verse [Manaḥ-śikṣā 1] states how to honour Vrajavāsīs. Consider this and do bhajana accordingly. And even among the Vrajavāsīs, associate with those who are svajātiya-snigdha-āśaya, favourable for one’s aspired-for disposition. Āśaya means heart. That Vrajavāsī should be favourable for one’s aspired- spiritual disposition. Then only will it happen.
A follower of Advaitavāda or Māyāvāda, who considers Kṛṣṇa to be conditioned by māyā and desires mukti, considering it to be superior to other processes, believes sarvam khalva idaṁ brahma – all this is brahma, and tat tvam asi – you are ‘that’. But he is very virtuous, well-behaved, kind and detached from worldly affairs. On the other hand, someone else aspires to serve Kṛṣṇa according to the moods of Vraja. He is not liberated yet and also has some anger, but he has a taste for the moods of Vraja. Who of the two should a person doing kṛṣṇa-bhajana honour? We are to honour the one who is favourable for our bhakti. Although he may be somewhat angry and lusty by nature, it is okay. Those who are doing bhajana of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa according to the moods of Vraja are superior to others. Associate with them. If you fall into the association of Māyāvādīs or Advaitavādīs, your bhakti will be completely destroyed.
Therefore, we must consider all these things, even in regard to Vrajavāsīs.
Translated by the Rays of The Harmonist team