Saturday, January 16, 2010
Imagining Dhama Seva
We may or may not stop the bridge, but as Vaishnavas we are not attached to the results of our action. We neither lose enthusiasm for doing the right thing when we fail to achieve the results we sought, nor do we stop and rest on our laurels when we do reach our goals. Seva to the Divine Couple is infinite.
The degradation of the Vrindavan environment has been going on for some time, but without cars or accumulations of garbage, it was somewhat tolerable. We could live with it and still appreciate the underlying transcendental atmosphere.
The exponential increase of pilgrims over the past decade has meant that the environmental degradation is also increasing apace. It has also meant that a taste for materialism has crept into the spirit of the people, with all that this entails. The sum result is that it is getting harder and harder to see or feel the sacred power of Vrindavan. Service to the Dham means perceiving and making manifest that sacred power. That is prema.
We are actually happy that devotees are coming to Braj, but we have to participate in the process of development so that we get the Vrindavan WE want. By saying that, I don't mean that we are going to shove some ideas down the Brajvasis' throats. It is theirs first and only ours by adoption.
But we do have the right to _imagine_ Vrindavan in terms of its sacred character and think how that aspect of the town can be preserved and enhanced. That is service to the Dham and to the Divine Couple. Make no mistake about it. Serving the Dham is sakshat seva, a most powerful sadhana, and most fortunate are they who are given the opportunity to engage in it.
One important thing is that Vrindavan should be understood in terms of Madhurya, not Aishwarya. Ideas like Krishna Disneyworld, 100-foot Vishnu statues and other crass compromises with materialism should be opposed at all costs. Any malls or commercial centers catering exclusively to materialistic attitudes should be kept on the periphery of the town. Attempts at creating and developing green public spaces like Seva Kunj and Nidhivan, etc., the Parikrama Marg and the Yamuna flood plains should be encouraged.
Vrindavan is in the mind first. It is, as someone pointed out, Radha's mind. However, it does not exist only in the mind, but also in the senses. Recreating the mind's Vrindavan, even in the circumstances of the age, means engaging all the senses in the service of the Divine Couple.