Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vrindavan Today --- maybe tomorrow?

This morning I bit the bullet and posted the following on Vrindavan Today:

Dear friends, lovers and well-wishers of Vrindavan Dham,

Due to lack of time and funding, it is not possible for me to continue with this project for the time being. If anyone wishes to sponsor this important endeavor so that we can get competent help and material facilities, we welcome their help.

Vrindavan Dham, Braj and India as a whole, are at a crossroads. Indeed, the entire world is facing tremendous challenges in the coming century. In many ways, Vrindavan is a microcosm of those challenges.

The clash between modernity, with its technological advances on the one side and its neo-liberal economic rapaciousness and consumerist ethic on the other, and spirituality, which values above all the internal evolution of the individual and one's relation to God, other human beings and the environment, is perhaps nowhere more transparently manifest than here.

Vrindavan Today is meant to both chronicle what could well be the epic story of our age manifest here in the Holy Dham of Srimati Radharani, the supreme symbol of divine love as the goal of human life, and to serve the best outcomes.

We certainly hope that some friends and well-wishers will come forward to volunteer and support.

In the meantime, those knowing Hindi may consult the Hindi site for some of the latest news.

Jai Sri Radhe

Jagadananda Das

You may contact me at vrindavantoday@gmail.com

The real point is that I don't have the time. I have other things that I need to do. A general rule of thumb that one should try to follow is not to start anything new until the old stuff is finished. And this website itself is an indicator of the principal thing that I need to get done.

Vrindavan is, as I said above, a microcosm of the situation in the entire planet. I don't know how many times I will have to say it: the utter incapacity of the people of India to clean up their public spaces is the worst indictment of the country as a harbinger of spiritual change.

If you think democracy elsewhere is next to useless, just look at India. The current neo-liberal economic orthodoxy goes unchallenged. Vikas, vikas, vikas. Development is the only word you heard during the last elections, every candidate promising to outdo the others. And why wouldn't the politicians love development? Their own pockets get richly lined with profuse kickbacks and bribes.

Pushpa Sharma was municipal chairperson of Vrindavan for five years. At the end of it, she had made enough money to pay off the Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati with 7.5 crores just to get nominated a candidate for the Vidhan Sabha seat! And she did not even win! Somehow the vote got split four ways and the Congress incumbent won. But I doubt there will be much change overall.

Development is needed, but there seems to be no brake on the way it is done. No vision. No plan. Just let it happen without thinking of the longterm effects. The principal issues that have attracted attention from the religious and lay community in Vrindavan are the Yamuna River situation and cow protection. Discussion of the litter issue never seems to get past nominal banning of the use of polythene bags, which of course everyone ignores. All these things seem to get repeated coverage in the newspapers, but whether there is any actual attempt by anyone in the administration, political or bureaucratic, to seriously tackle any of them is hard to detect.

They will continue to try to turn Vrindavan into a tourist destination and the pilgrims and bhajananandi residents will be forgotten. Those sadhus and goswamis profiting will remain complicit and indifferent to the common good and long term future of the Dham. How long will it be before meat and liquor are available in the hotels and shops? The other day I saw a well-dressed middle-aged man in the street, completely drunk. Not that you don't see young punks stinking drunk regularly, but this man (right near the MVT, ISKCON's posh guesthouse) looked like the "way of the future."

Vrindavan suffers from noise pollution as an influx of uneducated economic migrants who have absolutely no awareness of the Dham's value, drive the tempos with their cinema music blasting. Now with its increasingly easy access for Delhi residents, Vrindavan is becoming a site for weddings, meaning that on a regular basis the clamorfest that is an Indian wedding saturates the ether... what to speak of the regular competition to burst people's eardrums that temples and ashrams seem to feel is their God-given duty as a part of religious festivities.

The Parikrama Marg has been turned into one of the town's principal thoroughfares, making it extremely dangerous most of the time for pedestrians. Certainly the two-wheelers blasting their horns constantly as they charge through the crowds of pilgrims have no thought of keeping the peace. But who thinks of peace? In a holy place? India has lost all sense of the concept of inner or outer peace.

Uncontrolled development and land price inflation with no zoning whatsoever means there is no protection of green spaces or public spaces. Every last square inch is being squeezed for every last paisa that it will yield until the town suffocates completely from lack of open spaces.

The town is infested with stray dogs that howl all night and defecate all over, an increasingly aggressive and dangerous macaque population, and hogs -- all of whom delightedly feed on the ever increasing piles of garbage and filth. After all, there is no place to put the damn crap.

And this is the worst of all, in my opinion, the blight that is the total and shameless use of any and every empty or public space to litter and dump refuse. There is no word to describe the complete absence of any awareness of the common space or common ownership. The municipal authorities have completed absconded from any responsibility to impose door-to-door refuse collection and protect the public spaces from this defacement.

I cannot walk the streets without feeling complete dismay at the utter disregard that the people of this potentially lovely town of temples have for their own home. What can I say? I can speak of history and sociology and culture, but there is no way to escape the feeling that this is a major, major social failure.

Whether any of these things can be turned around or not , I do not know. The Yamuna is perhaps the most glaring problem as a sign of things to come. Global climate change and the general weight of human population growth is nowhere more evident than on the deterioration of the Yamuna situation.

Naturally, the people here plead poverty. There are so many problems and efforts are being made. Hospitals and schools are being built. More people are being educated. Wealth is increasing and the whole society will benefit. But I see so many babies being born here. Little children under five with runny noses are literally everywhere, squatting in the alleyways to drop their little load of liquid excrement. There is not a young woman who doesn't seem to have a baby riding on her hip. How will this population growth ever slow down in time to thwart the impending disasters?

Anyway... I don't know what to say any more. Look at Vrindavan Today and see for yourself. Why don't I stay involved? It seems like a worthy cause. God knows it is a worthy cause, that is why I started it. But I have started a lot of things. The Grantha Mandir is another one that has been stagnating and floundering. Perhaps not as urgent, but important nevertheless in another way. As shown in a recent post, this project is about to be reinvigorated.

I also have other commitments, like the work on the Sandarbhas, what to speak of my own numerous unpublished translations and unfinished research work, much of it available right here on this blog.

But above all, the biggest task I have is really to write about sahaja sadhana. You may go, "Whaat?" But in fact, this is the root of it all, in my opinion. The root problem is sexuality and it always has been. If I don't at least complete this aspect of my life's work, then my life will be a failure. This needs to come first.

I need to write a book explaining the sadhana that I have been speaking of on this blog. It is time. My friends, I have been practicing this sadhana and discovering its potency for the past ten years. I am convinced of its truth and its value. I believe that I can explain it in ways that no one else can and that I can teach this practice to anyone who is serious about following it. Not only that, but more and more I am becoming convinced of its importance and even necessity. Not only do I think that this is the real message of Radha and Krishna bhajan, but I think that without it, the basic problem of sexuality will never be solved or properly harnessed for individual spiritual exaltation.

I am not someone who has come to his conclusions lightly. I have spent years studying Gaudiya Vaishnavism in its textual and living traditions. I love this religion of Radha and Krishna, in all its branches, in all its manifestations, even when practised by those whose most fundamental attitudes I disagree with. radheti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta. Whoever simply utters the name Radha receives my heartfelt affection.

But that does not mean that I do not have a strong idea about the meaning of Radha and Krishna bhajan. Radha and Krishna has meaning for both East and West and I think it is important that I share my discoveries in book form.

I have been writing on this blog for years now, but clearly no one takes blogs by unpublished authors very seriously. It is time to change that. And that is why I am, at least for the time being, washing my hands of the Vrindavan Today project.




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