Sunday, December 27, 2009

Stop the Yamuna Bridge

On Dec. 25, a few hundred persons, mostly from Vrindavan’s religious community, including many foreigners from several maths and ashrams, gathered at Vrindavan’s Keshi Ghat to protest the building of a bridge.

This bridge, which loops around the ancient redstone ghat, will permit car traffic to make the full tour of Vrindavan, turning the Parikrama Marg into a Ring Road.

Even ten years ago, the Parikrama Marg was still mostly a sandy trail that circled the hallowed central portion of Vrindavan, the site of so many temples—Banke Bihari, Radha Vallabh, Radha Damodar, Govindaji.

Hundreds of barefoot pilgrims from dawn to dusk quietly followed the 14 kilometer trail, reciting their japa or singing God’s names, or simply walking in meditative silence. Some even covered the length lying prostrate on the ground.

But the success of many Vaishnava preachers, Bhagavata pathaks and bhajan singers has drawn a steadily increasing flow of the faithful from around the world and, more to the point, from Delhi, to the sacred home of Krishna’s play with Radha.

And, to accommodate the ubiquitous automobile, more and more of the Parikrama Marg has been paved. Parking lots increasingly line the sides of the road and block the view to the green fields and the Yamuna, which stretch out on the southern side.

No pilgrim can now make the sacred circumambulation without being repeatedly honked at by contemptuous chauffeurs. The one remaining ghat in Vrindavan, Keshi Ghat, where daily Yamuna arati is held, was the single part of the parikrama that was vehicle free.

But now, Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority, which sees the prosperity of Vrindavan as linked to the automobile, has decided to destroy what is left of this sacred tradition by building a flyover type bypass to link the two ends of the circumambulation path.

The view of the holy river will now be obstructed by an ugly concrete structure, the peace broken once and for all by the sounds of racing cars and beeping buses.

But there seems to be no bridge crossing the divide that separates the environmentalists and traditional religious community of Vrindavan from the government and development agents, who are clearly living in different worlds.

In their high-minded arrogance, the latter did not even see fit to consult those who have guarded these traditions for the last half-millennium or those who have come there to make Vrindavan their spiritual home before they started work on the project.

So PWD Chief Engineer C.D. Rai calls the Goswamis and saints “vested land owning interests” when they make objections, and Mathura-Vrindavan Development Authority Vice Chairman R.K. Singh scoffs that they “neither understand development nor the environment.”

What is clear is that the issue of the sacred has been completely ignored by the development authorities. If Vrindavan has become attractive to tourists, it is only because of the promise it holds out of an encounter with the sacred, and such an encounter requires something quite different from a rapidity of access to goods and services. It needs space for contemplation.

Recently in Delhi, I noticed a billboard in the Jahangirpuri metro station. The poster on display there had a quote from the famous American scholar of myth and religion, Joseph Campbell, which immediately attracted my attention: “Your sacred space,” it said, “is where you can find yourself again and again.”

But, in the true spirit of desecration, these words had been turned into a sales pitch: “This space is where people can find your company and products again and again.”

So this is what it has come to: the sacred places are now for sale to the highest bidder, a hook to pull in the patsies. But if you cut off the branch on which you are sitting, then where will you sit?

Indians are still proud of their ancient heritage and the attraction it holds for foreigners. On Independence Day, 1947, Sri Aurobindo addressed the new nation on the radio:

“The spiritual gift of India to the world has already begun,” he said. “India's spirituality is entering Europe and America in an ever increasing measure. That movement will grow; amid the disasters of the time more and more eyes are turning towards her with hope, and there is even an increasing resort not only to her teachings, but to her psychic and spiritual practice.”

But this spirituality is fast becoming a joke. Amidst the noise, accumulations of dirt and plastic bags, the polluted holy rivers, and the haphazard and insensitive development, it is becoming harder and harder to find the fulfilment of that hope.

It is time for all the sacred places in India, from Vrindavan and Varanasi to Rishikesh and Srirangam, to immediately be declared heritage sites by the state and central governments. Let them too be developed for tourism, but only one that takes into account the thirst for spirituality that brings pilgrims there.

They should not be treated as playgrounds for jejune city dwellers, with nothing on offer but more tired old theme parks, shopping centers and traffic jams.

J.K. Brzezinski

Raganuga Bhakti and the Yamuna Bridge to Nowhere

The following comment came to me today:

Vrinda-van "itself" is nowadays already a forest of buildings.... Vrinda-van is in reality a magical forest, one can get into ONLY by the magic of raganuga sadhan. This is where I want to get.

If somebody would have so much punya, to get from Krishna the blessing to turn the forest of buildings into the forest of Vrinda, with all the wonderful trees, latas, flowers, birds and animals, then Krishna will be forced to do it....

We may sit under a tree, overwhelmed by those uddipanas and... as Gaura in the form of Sri Caitanya taught, we may go through the magic of raganuga sadhan, far from the any other thoughts in the lila.

"The villagers" don't live in that forest, Vrinda-van, but in a village, which is outside of it. That Vrinda-van was lost long ago and what comes after its demise is just a natural consequence.

This is an interesting comment and is quite often heard. And really, it hits at the very root of the problem in more ways than one. I will leave aside most of my thoughts on the question and just state some of the basics of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy, which raganuga bhaktas sometimes forget.

We are not Mayavadis, as everyone no doubt knows. Now the essence of Mayavada is to say, "This world is false, only Brahman is real." Vaishnavas don't say that: They say, God is real and so his energies, which are part of him, are also real. Therefore Jagat Satyam.

This is why Prabhupada's translation of the Gita is revolutionary. He starts from this point and does not distinguish karma from bhakti. In every one of Prabhupada's purports, he always reminds us that karma means service to Krishna.

This does not sit well with most people who see karma and bhakti as a progression towards jnana. But essentially, he is correct. It is a question of perception. When Arjuna came to his senses and was situated in knowledge, he ceased to see the world as a field of action separate from his relationship with Krishna.

Now, the Bhagavad Gita is not enriched with devotional mellows quite in the way that the entire bhakti movement evolved, but essentially that message has not changed. Hrishikena Hrishikesha sevanam. There is no separation of the lila from the action of this world.

If we cannot connect the lila to our everyday actions in every way, if we cannot infuse our everyday actions with the love of the Divine Couple, if we cannot live in the kunja when we are walking, talking, eating, sleeping, mating and defending, then our bhajan is futile.

Now this is indeed a challenge, and so I don't say like Bhaktisiddhanta or Vivekananda that you stop your bhajan and act in the world. Bahire nayan na deo kokhon, bhavakranta chitta nahi jad avadhi ("Do not turn your eyes outward until your mind is overcome with love.") You have to infuse your mind and senses with bhava and until then, it may be necessary to remain inward looking. But this is essentially a kanishtha stance. The madhyama bhakta and uttama bhakta have attained several degrees of ability to interact with the world without losing their focus, their center, or their prema. In fact, their consciousness has developed to the point that interaction with the world is an act of devotion in itself. Because they don't see it separate from the Divine Couple.

The siddhi of the siddhas is the model for the sadhana of the sadhakas, it is said. The Goswamis served the dham in order to make it a model, a kind of heaven on earth, a kingdom of God, where even those who were not alive in the love of Radha and Krishna could still be inspired by the land and its residents to remember them and to become infused with that spirit of love.

If their project, Vrindavan, fails, that is OUR failure also. Of course, there are competing visions of what Vrindavan is, but one thing is certain, the materialistic model of development at the cost of smarana, at the cost of kirtan, at the cost of shravana and all the bhakti angas, at the cost of rasa-asvadana, is not just the failure of the Vrajavasis, it is the failure of every bhakta on this earth.

If you become passive and sit back and take the "que sera sera" approach, then you are complicit in the failure of Mahaprabhu's prema dharma. This is a new test, my friends. Thousands of devotees around the world have taken up the Holy Name and come flocking to the Dham. For years they have felt mixed emotions--on the one hand seeing the beauty of Radha-vallabha, Radha-ramana, Radha-gopinath and all the other forms of the Divine Couple manifest there, and on the other hand seeing the neglect and poverty of the environment, slowly deteriorating on the other.

But if you are a devotee, you have five services that are most powerful. Chanting the Name, hearing the madhura-lila, serving the Form, associating with the Devotee, and living in the Dham. Only living in the Dham makes it possible to fulfill all these conditions equally. Serving the Dham is serving all of these most important angas of bhakti. Therefore Rupa Goswami calls it his upadesha sara.

But serving the Dham means more than rolling in the dust. Besides what dust will you roll in when they pave it all over? The manjaris sweep the kunj to make it fit for Radha and Krishna's lila, so that is our task now. We must sweep the kunj and make it fit for the Divine Couple, and for the devotees.

There is a great need for Raganuga bhaktas to understand this. They have been infused with a grace that not all devotees have even glimpsed from a distance. This grace will give them the strength to lead and to persevere and not to succumb to pessimism.

This too is a kind of Kuru-kshetre, a field of action, a Dharma-kshetra, a field of duty. If we are truly lovers of the Divine Couple, we will do what is necessary. And right now that means stopping this travesty of a development project. And in the long run, it means changing Vrindavan from a forest of buildings, as you put it, and turning it into a garden.

Lord knows it will not be easy. But a Raganuga bhakti is special because he has inner vision. He has seen that garden with his eyes, moistened by the salve of love, by his tears. The siddha, as you may know from the example of Chakleshwar Siddha Krishna Das Baba, is one who can manifest the vision of his smaran in the external world. Krishna Das dropped a bottle of perfume in his smaran and the devotees by the Manasa Ganga smelled the sweet fragrance for days.

Success is to be able to transform an inner vision into an external reality. To make one's inner vision visible to others. The mundane successes of the developers are a petty siddhi. To realize the vision of Vrindavan as the playground of the Lord and Lady of Love, now that is a real siddhi.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Transcendence and Society

Mahattama Rahla wrote:

Also we have to consider that some of that uncleanliness was brought by outsiders too, we are part of the problem, so let's resolve it......

This is something that several people have already mentioned. There is nothing surprising and I have already spoken about it to some extent in one of my earlier posts.

The thing is that money spent on cleaning, etc., is generally considered to be a loss on the books. You cannot see any income being generated by cleaning your own toilet, for instance.

For the most part, Vrindavan has happily let NGOs like "Friends of Vrindavan" etc., try to do the work in this area, or planting trees or whatever. They may make one-off gifts of money, but they are not serious, longterm, diligent efforts.

In fact, you cannot depend on the private sector to do these things; they are public sector tasks. But India is living the libertarian dream of entrepreneurial anarchy. Money that can be spent on construction, etc., means liberal lining of pockets of politicians, bureaucrats and developers. Where is the money in street sweeping and garbage disposal ?

The NGO's must be supported, of course, as long as the public sector does not step up, but the necessity of strong municipal action must be emphasized. It is hard to do because everyone thinks taxes are an imposition instead of a way of contributing to the common good. A rich man in India would rather build a temple or contribute to some pious works in the traditional manner than give to "corrupt bureaucratic institutions." These problems run deep, and the culture needs to be changed on so many levels.

What I see as the core problem, though, is attitude. Changing attitudes toward the sacred, the common good, etc., are things that must enter into everyone's preaching and the education programs. This will require a bit of a change in attitude on the part of the sectarian religious organizations, which are accustomed to seeing the welfare of their own organization as the ultimate good for society as a whole. This selfish attitude, of course, contributes to the general distrust of religion and to the ineffectuality of their overall preaching.

What is the difference between sadhus or householder gurus living in comfortable ashrams or temples doing bhajan and a rich person living in his mansion engaged in sense gratification? From the outside looking in, little or none. Those devotees looking at this matter from the Western point of view will have to adjust their thinking a little.

The good that comes from a religious institution, where society as a whole is considered, is not in its specific religious or spiritual doctrines, but simply in its power to break people's attachments to selfish, egocentric or body-centric interests and to make them capable of sacrificing for the greater good. Such a greater good must be broader than the narrow interests of the organization itself. To the extent that such attitudes become generalized in society and institutionalized in government itself, the greater the success of the religious movements from the social point of view.

In other words, to use as an example: Iskcon or any other group cannot think that its "good deeds" are merely tools to rope welfare minded people into its network of donors and supporters. The overriding necessity is to work cooperatively with others who support the same causes. If you are only thinking "Me-first" then what good will come of it? The actual causes, like cleaning Vrindavan or protecting it from uncontrolled development, will be vitiated by the dispersal of energies.

True selflessness must extend even beyond the "mission" and into the society. In other words, though the mission may seek some form of transcendence, its social function is to increase the mode of goodness.

The Language of Aparadha and Demonization

The first calls to blow up the Yamuna "Half-Moon" Bridge have already come out. It made me realize that the picture used on that poster was a total mistake. The language of "aparadha" that was used there and in the current discourse is not really the right way to approach publicizing this issue.

Most people do not understand what offenses are, and they have little or no idea of the sacred or why Vrindavan and the Yamuna are sacred. We do not really want to associate the preservation of Vrindavan's sacred heritage with militant Hindu nationalism and the kinds of things that happened in the Babri Masjid fiasco.

To characterize the people involved in making the bridge as demons is also wrongheaded. That makes it into a demons-demigods fight, which is not what it is. Always attribute the best motivations to your enemy: they are thinking of the development of this bridge as a way of improving the lives of the Brajavasis by increasing the flow of tourist traffic as well as goods and services to the community. This is of course totally misguided, but we must be able to show clearly why and how.

The core of Vrindavan town must be preserved as far as possible. It must be cleaned and improved. The outer parts of the town, like Raman Reti and beyond, are beyond salvation. But the ancient core of the town from Madan Mohan to Tattiya Sthan must be preserved and upgraded. Not by making it open to more traffic, but by making it clean and attractive. By increasing green space--bringing more water into Seva Kunj and Nidhivan would be a good idea. But other spaces that are filled with rubble or garbage should be cleaned up. Money needs to be invested in institutions like schools, etc., in the inner town area, so they do not look so neglected.

In other words, an alternative idea of development has to be put forward, one which recognizes Vrindavan's value as a sacred space. Anger is good as a motivator, but we have to be careful that it does not simply increase friction and unnecessary enmity. No doubt, there ARE demonicac, self-centered interests on the other side, but making that the issue will simply muddy the waters and turn it into the wrong kind of battle.

We need to fight with ideas. If people are not listening, it is because the right people are not talking the right language or loudly enough. Start by convincing a local resident in Braj. Tell them the money would be better spent on improving living conditions and quality of life for the people of Braj.

If Braj is clean and the people are being taken care of, it will become more and more attractive. If the poor people see that they too have an investment in the well-being of the community as a whole, that will make them active participants in the community life. These are the kinds of things that need to be fostered. Not violent revolution.

More Ranting about the Sitch

I created a Facebook group Stop the Yamuna Bridge this morning after getting a little riled up by this latest slap in the face to those who love the Dham. Advaitaji wrote me, making the same general point that Osho did in the comments to my previous post. So I just continue my general rant here.

Jagat, I became member of your club but I must make a note here that some individuals and big institutions that participate in the protests are themselves very guilty of destroying the environment of Vraja elsewhere with posh ashrams and temples and guest houses. The protests may be hijacked by such orgs that want to just lobby for more followers in this way...

First of all, let me say that this is not my "club." I just set up this Facebook group in the hope that it would be useful for communication. If the people interested in this issue make use of it, it might make developments and actions more widely known and make it possible for more people to be mobilized for demonstrations and protests at short notice.

But of course you are correct that many of the ashrams and leaders are complicit in the development because they too are profiting from it. Their donors come by car, will stay in their ashram or guesthouse, and so on. So these spiritual leaders tend to become compromised by such arrangements. But if you think about it, it is rather like the global warming situation. There comes a time when it becomes so very clear that things are so urgent that it requires a rearrangement of everyone's priorities.

The spiritual leaders of India must become the environmental leaders also. The essence in all this lies in reviving the concept of the sacred. If we say "God is everywhere" it is the same as saying God is nowhere. If we say "everything is sacred" it is not long before nothing is sacred. And I am afraid that this is the situation in India today.

We start by defining the sacred, by designating the sacred. Sometimes it is something that cannot be explained, but if Vrindavan is sacred, we must learn what that means. Times change and the way we relate to the world and the sacred places must of necessity be adjusted. But if we don't make that adjustment, we are in danger of losing everything.

So those who hanker for the Braj of 500 years ago, or even 50 or 20 years ago will have to recognize that they will likely never have that again. But those who are building their luxury hotel ashrams, catering to the dhana-durmadandhan (kasmAd bhajanti kavayo dhana-durmadAndhAn?), they will also have to revise their priorities and start thinking about what the French call the "collectivity."

India, because of its fractured, splintered caste system, has murdered its sense of collectivity... just like the world as a whole in the face of global warming. Nobody wants to give up their "acquis," or accumulated gains, for the sake of the general good. It is like the famous "prisoner's quandary," we play playing chicken with the world's destiny--should we sell each other out or act altruistically in our common interest?

Clearly, the situation in India has reached a state where practically no one will act for the common good. There is no sense of the public space as there was traditionally in Europe, with the village or town square. Everything is behind walls, behind gates, everyone is hiding from the Red Death, while outside, even the poor are so disenfranchised and so condemned in their self-awareness that they will not even pick up a broom or a shovel to clean the filth from an area five inches from the perimeter of their own tiny fragmented place.

As I passed Raiwala on my way to Rishikesh the other day, I saw the overflowing drain passing under the fruit stalls. The owner sat in his plastic chair barely inches from it, sipping his tea, totally unconcerned.

Caste consciousness has made cleanliness a sin. So how can godliness be close by? Some think themselves pure because they clean their anuses with clay and water three times after bathing, and their left hand 10 times and their right hand seven, but they have to hire someone they barely consider human to clean the toilet. So do you think this benighted Epsilon will do a good job? His revenge is in leaving the toilet only half clean, the cobwebs hanging on the ceiling, the dirt hidden under the rug. Or in sweeping the garbage into a pile in the middle of the street where the rickshaws and automobiles will spread it around again like a fan.

If cleaning is shameful or a sin, will anything ever become clean? If there is no sense of the common good, will there every be humanity? What is the use of one isolated saint if there is no society? And what is the use of an isolated sect if they are only to be saved behind their protective walls while the rest of society floats away in a fetid open sewer?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Yamuna Bridge

I just found about this event, which takes place today, in only an hour's time. Unfortunately, though right minded, it sounds to me like too little too late. Millions have already been invested by business and government interests in this project and I doubt that a few idealistic lovers of Vrindavan will be able to do much at this late date. I have heard that construction has already begun. I already wrote about this back in 2005, so everyone has known about it for at least four years. But the idea in India right now, the Zeitgeist, is that development, development, development will solve all problems.

The same thing is going on in Rishikesh, but perhaps not quite to the same extent--partly because of the protection that has been extended to the northern side of the Ganges, but the south side is an ever increasing mess.

The sad truth is that the very qualities of the Dham that make it attractive are being destroyed by virtue of so many people being attracted. A victim of its own success, as it were. This is not understood ANYWHERE in India, it seems. I just saw an article in India Today about Mount Abu, where at least they are trying to put a halt on new construction in order to preserve something of the sacred character of the place.

In Delhi recently, on my way to a conference at the Bhogilal Leherchand Institute of Indology, I noticed a billboard in the Jahangirpuri metro station. Since this part of the line is fairly new, all the advertising spots have not yet been sold. The poster showing there had a quote from Joseph Campbell which immediately attracted my attention: "Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.” But, true to desecrators everywhere, this was turned into a sales pitch: "This space is available for people to find your company and your products again and again."

So this is what it has come to: the sacred places are for sale to the highest bidder. But if you cut off the branch on which you are sitting, then where will you sit?

On the same trip, I was in Noida talking to a young IT worker, who seems to be doing very well in the new economy. His brother is doing a PhD in Benares on Kashmiri Shaivism. When I saw him last, he said that he liked Shaivism because of its virile assertion that we are all god. I had to laugh because this is precisely the disease that affects not just India, but the entire world.

In Osho's book "Nari aur Kranti," probably written quite some time ago, he talks about the necessity for giving women and the feminine equal status to males as an absolute necessity for the world. Men have been given free reign for the last 5000 years to create a history of wars and exploitation. And women, unfortunately, have bought into it. But now, the history of the world has come to the point where we can destroy ourselves over and over again. With atom bombs. And now, even more pressingly, with our development, development, development to environmental destruction.

It is all rajo guna at best. But it is really tamo guna because it is not creative, but destructive. Indeed, this mindless development is tamo guna because as soon as something is built, it is immediately neglected. The Delhi Metro has been open for one month in Noida and it still looks spanking clean. No one spits, pisses or throws plastic bags on the tracks, but I looked up and saw Delhi's desert dust gathering on the metal struts. What are the chances it will ever be cleaned? Perhaps between now and the Commonwealth Games next year, a concerted effort will be made to keep things looking at least faintly "first world," and then the Delhi Metro will revert to India.

Without sattva-guna, what is the point of development? Sattva-guna is the domain of preservation. One person told me that in America, most lottery winners end up bankrupt after a few years. A researcher found out that the reason was because no one calculated the cost of preserving the things they purchase. If you buy a 10 million $ home, it costs hundreds of thousands per year to maintain, to keep it beautiful, to preserve its value. These people spent their winnings on the beautiful home, but after a while, found it impossible to keep.

The developers line their pockets building their fancy projects but where is the profit in preserving something? It is only a negative on the books. And so India is filled with half-built, half-tumbledown temples and palaces. Private interests can keep isolated oases of beauty behind high walls where only the monkeys can wreak occasional havoc, but the public spaces are occupied by the gods of Neglect, NIMBY and Who Gives a Damn?

Robyn Beeche told me that the Friends of Vrindavan and others tried to stop the paving of the Parikrama Marg way back when that was the immediate danger. They even lay down on the road when the bulldozers came. But to no avail. The Vrindavan municipal council had received some federal money for development and influential council members had connections with contractors. So a few ecologically minded tree huggers did not stand a chance. They will not stand a chance this time either.

There are still enough dehati pilgrims who will faithfully do japa and kirtan on the Parikrama Marg even while being honked repeatedly into external consciousness by careless visitors from Delhi who are in a big rush to... do what, exactly? Soon there will be, I expect, shopping malls, water parks, maybe even a goddamned Krishna theme park Disney World, a Krishna statue higher than the Eiffel Tower, a curse and a pox on all these ideas, which will only bring even more bahirmukhas in their SUVs to do parikrama the easy way. To completely miss the point.

And all you sadhus who think that the way forward is to build big big skyscraper temples, have you forgotten that Vraj is Madhurya Dham? If you want Aishwarya, go and destroy Dwarka for God's sake!

Until the Brijvasi business interests come to understand where their bread is really buttered, they will do everything they can to destroy their environment. Until the Swamis and Goswamis of Vrindavan recognize that Vrindavan's sacred character needs to be preserved, even at the cost of their immediate prosperity, there is no hope.

Close Vrindavan to car traffic. Create open spaces around temples. Make Vrindavan clean and green and keep it that way. Vrindavan's real wealth is in the sattva-guna, without which there is no transcendence and without which it will be turned into just another version of hell.

Jai Radhe!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Hope for Vrindavan and Prema

I have been working for some time on Harilal Vyasa’s monumental commentary to Rādhā-rasa-sudhā-nidhi. About 170 verses of the 270 total have been completed. There will be two files in all cut exactly in half. Apparently Vyasa took a four year hiatus before doing the second half of the work. One feature that is more noticeable in the second half is the addition of many more verses from Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta.

Three simple verses from Harilal Vyasa's conclusion to the Rasa-kulyā commentary:

yatra yatra janur me syāt tatra tatra sadā tvayi |
prītir nirargalā bhūyān prārthaye bhūri-bhūriśaḥ ||23||
śrīmad-vṛndāvane vāsaṁ dehi dehi vaneśvari |
yadi naitādṛśaṁ bhāgyaṁ mā kurv āśā-vināśanam ||24||
āśā-nāśaṁ sarva-nāśam āśaiva paramaṁ dhanam |
nārake'pi janur me'stu tvad-vanāśā vased dhṛdi ||25||

I pray profusely, O Radhe, that wherever I take my next birth, I should always have unbound love for you.

O Queen of Vrindavan, please grant me residence in glorious Vrindavan. And if you do not bestow such fortune, then at least don't destroy my hopes.

Loss of hope is total perdition; hope is the most valuable treasure of all. Even if I should be born in hell, let me keep the hope of being in your forest alive in my heart.
Reminds me of this one, quoted as the introduction to Mañjarī-svarūpa-nirūpaṇa by Kunja-bihari Dasji:

yasya sphūrti-lavāṅkureṇa laghunāpy antar munīnāṁ manaḥ
spṛṣṭaṁ mokṣa-sukhād virajyati jhaṭity āsvādyamānād api
premṇas tasya mukunda sāhasitayā śaknotu kaḥ prārthane
bhūyāj janmani janmani pracayinī kintu spṛhāpy atra me

O Mukunda, giver of liberation!
Who in the world is there with the courage
to pray for the gift of sacred love,
of which even the slightest manifestation,
when brushing against the minds of the great sages,
makes them forget the happiness of liberation?

My prayer therefore to you is this:
that I should simply desire for such prema,
and that this desire should increase forever,
in this world, birth after birth.

(Rupa Goswami, Aṣṭādaśa-chandaḥ, Vastra-haraṇa, 2)