Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Move your butt to Braja, O mind!!

Since my own laptop has been on the blink I have had to share the office computers with Souresh. He has been out most of the time lately, so I could pretty much use them when I wanted. That is no longer the case, so I am missing a bit of the independence I have enjoyed until now. I will need to buy a new laptop, but unfortunately I don't have the money right now.

This morning I could not work from 5.30 to 7.30 as usual. I am in my 8.30-12.30 period now. Yesterday evening I was tired and did not write anything for the blog. I cannot afford to let up on the self-discipline if I want to get Bh.S. finished before leaving India, along with a lot of the other stuff I need to get done. Nevertheless, again a "pro forma" post.

A lot goes through my head, which I would like to share, but fatigue, distractions, or lack of time make it all fizzle into the maha-shunya.


Yesterday we read RRSN 9, a nice verse, but very direct and uncompromising:

vṛndāni sarva-mahatām apahāya dūrāt
vṛndāṭavīm anusara praṇayena cetaḥ |
rādhābhidhānam iha divya-nidhānam asti ||
O mind! Abandon all the greats from afar and follow [the path to] Vrindavan with love. There is in Vrindavan a divine treasure named Radha (or, the name "Radha" itself) which is an ocean of ambrosial nectar of the greatest love (mahā-bhāva) by which those who are devoted to truth (sat) will be delivered tāraṇī-krita.

Ananta Das is quite strong here, perhaps because this is the first real instruction that has come up so far in RRSN. Up until now we have been getting namaskāras, stutis and prārthanās. In fact the previous verse was the first real glorification of Radha's kinkaris, whom Krishna himself has to approach in order to calm Radha's anger. Ananta Das introduces his commentary by saying that after having this elevated sphurti of the lila, Prabodhananda crashes into external consciousness and asks himself, "What can I do to attain this exalted position of service to Srimati Radharani?"

He answers his mind directly: "Get your butt to Vrindavan." Verse 2 said, "I offer my obeisances to the direction where Radha is present." Like Muslims pointed towards Mecca, we prostrate ourselves to the direction where Radha is. But that is not good enough, seems to say Prabodha. (Whose very name seems to echo "Wake Up, sleeping soul!")

Well, that is a message that strikes this sleeping soul right in the solar plexus. I am so close and yet so far here in Rishikesh, which the locals refer to as a kṣetra. I am currently chanting Raghunath Das's Sva-niyama-daśaka on a daily basis. There are a couple of verses that speak of Das Goswami's niṣṭhā for Vrindavan. Here is one that seems surprising at first...

na cānyatra kṣetre hari-tanu-sanāthe’pi sujanād
rasāsvādaṁ premṇā dadhad api vasāmi kṣaṇam api |
samaṁ tv etad grāmyāvalibhir abhitanvann api kathāṁ
vidhāsye saṁvāsaṁ vraja-bhuvana eva pratibhavam ||2||
I will not live for even a moment in any other kshetra, even if it is governed by Krishna's living presence, even if I can engage there in Hari-katha with premika devotees that brings the taste of rasa. In fact, I would rather live birth after birth in Vraja, spending my time having mundane conversations with ordinary village folk.
With Vrindavan seemingly going the way of dissolute modernism, it seems easy to find excuses to not live there. Some people say they have bad health in Vrindavan, others find fault with the sadhus, others the heat, the noise, the traffic, the garbage, the pigs, monkeys and cows, the corruption and uncontrolled development. And yet, it is still Vrindavan.

The above verse by Prabodhananda shows his Vrindavan niṣṭhā and is one of the reasons it seems unlikely that Harivamsa or anyone else wrote RRSN. But here is a verse that has some of the flavor of Raghunath Das's verse:

vṛndāraṇye varaṁ syāṁ kṛimir api parato no cid-ānanda-deho
raṅko’pi syām atulyaṁ param iha na paratrādbhutānanta-bhūtiḥ |
śūnyo’pi syām iha śrī-hari-bhajana-lavenāti-tucchārtha-mātre
lubdho nānyatra gopījana-ramaṇa-padāmbhoja-dīkṣā-sukhe’pi ||2.1||

I would rather be a worm or insect in Vrindavan than have a transcendental Vishnu form in some other eternal abode. I would rather be a poverty-stricken outcaste there than have amazing and unlimited opulence somewhere else. I would rather live there without even a spot of desire for Krishna bhajana and greedy for completely insignificant things than in other place, even if I can taste the joy of being initiated into the service of Gopijana-vallabha's lotus feet.

Prabodhananda is talking to his mind. If you can't be there in body, be there in mind. True enough, but that is no excuse. It is not one of the five principal sadhanas for nothing. A lady here, Joanne, was asking me about Vrindavan, for she has some feeling for Krishna. [Actually Swami Rama recorded a full CD of Krishna bhajans.] "Is there any kirtan going on there?" She asked...

In a way, the way I see it is if you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Of course, money and political power help if you are serious about turning Vrindavan into a heaven on earth instead of just and extension of Noida, Gurugaon or Faridabad. Nevertheless, if you love and believe, you are obliged to open your eyes and act.

So my plan is that if all goes well, I will give a month of RRSN classes in Vrindavan in Karttika 2009. That is my plan. Now it is up to Srimati Radharani. I have to get back here first.

1 comment:

Jagat said...

Looks like I did not make it. Ha Radhe!