Yesterday I went to listen to the Bhagavatam around the corner, where a seven-day program is going on. The speaker is in the Swami Haridas line, but he is a real non-denominational Vrindavan lover and seems to have equal affection for Harivams Goswami and Radha Vallabha as he has for Swami Haridas and Banke Bihari. He also told some Gaudiya stories, like about Shyamananda finding the nupur in Seva Kunj, and Rupa Goswami’s warning not to look at Govindaji or you would lose everything.
smerāṁ bhaṅgī-traya-paricitāṁ sāci vistīrṇa-dṛṣṭiṁ
vaṁśī-nyastādhara-kiśalayām ujjvalāṁ candrakeṇa |
govindākhyāṁ hari-tanum itaḥ keśi-tīrthopakaṇṭhe
mā prekṣiṣṭhās tava yadi sakhe bandhu-saṅge'sti raṅgaḥ ||
My friend, if you still want to find pleasureOne of the stories he told was about Hariram Vyas, who was the court pandit of Orcha, but who on coming to Vrindavan, found the association of Hit Harivams Goswami and fell in love with Vrindavan and Radha Krishna. He decided to give up material life and stay in the Dham and do bhajan and so sent word to the king of Orcha. The king continued to implore him to return to do his worldly duties at the court.
in the company of your friends and relatives,
then don't look at this form of Hari called "Govinda,"
not far from here at Keshi Ghat, smiling,
in his famous triple-crooked stance,
with his big crooked glance.
the red sliver of his lips cast placed his flute,
and glowing from the peacock feather in his crown,
“What is better, acting for one’s own benefit or for the benefit of a great number of people in society?” The king challenged. “Is not your wish to remain in Vrindavan merely your own selfish desire?”
Hariram Vyas accepted the king’s logic, but his heart could not agree. So he said, “You are right, but I will only go if my guru, Hit Harivams Goswami, orders me to go, for it is from him that the desire to stay here has come.”
The king sent ministers to the Goswami and Harivams did indeed tell Hariram Vyas to tend to his worldly duties until they released him. It was a lightning bolt of shock to Hariram, who had become so attached to the life of musical devotion, writing poetry and absorption in Radha and Krishna’s name, forms and pastimes. Devastated, he began to prepare to leave the Dham.
As one last act in the Dham, the tearful Hariram came to the Radha Vallabha temple which had already closed after the midday meal. There he saw a sweeper woman standing at the doorstep with a leaf plate of prasadam from Radha Vallabha. When Hariram saw her and the prasad, he immediately begged some of it from her, and she, somewhat reluctantly, ceded some of her touched food to the brahmin.
The minister and envoys from Orcha were there waiting for Hariram to finish his prayers and get on their way, but when they saw him taking food from an outcaste woman, they quickly looked at one another and came to the rapid conclusion that anyone who showed such disregard for the caste system had gone crazy and was no longer of any use to society! So better to leave him in Vrindavan with the rest of the crazies!
The moral of the story is that you have to be crazy to live in Vrindavan!
[This story is like apocryphal. There is some confusion about dates.]
* * *
Anyway, the mood the last couple of days has been a little less disciplined on my part as I try to get my mind back into Jiva Goswami. Having the two tracks of Yoga Sutra and Krishna Sandarbha (what to speak of my own thought tracks) competing in my brain is challenging, especially challenging to the process of synthesis.
Yoga is part of the world in which Jiva Goswami lives in. Part of the world frame into which his own ideas are integrated. It is the world of the Bhāgavatam, of mystic yogis meditating in mountains. And that is also the world of the Goswamis, living lives of complete renunciation in the holy land of Braj. And that is where we have to distinguish between the devotee’s bhakti-rasa and the jnani’s and yogi’s śānta-rasa. The distinction comes from the inner identity, the svarupāvasthānam, and how that is conceived. But I will get on to that in the next article on bhakti-rasa and samādhi.