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VMA 2.1 : Better a worm in Braj than a god elsewhere!

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vṛndāraṇye varaṁ syāṁ kṛmir api parato no cid-ānanda-deho raṅko'pi syām atulyaḥ param iha na paratrādbhutānanta-bhūtiḥ | śūnyo'pi syām iha śrī-hari-bhajana-lavenātitucchārtha-mātre lubdho nānyatra gopī-jana-ramaṇa-padāmbhoja-dīkṣā-sukhe'pi ||2.1||
I would rather reside even as a worm in Vrindavan,than somewhere else in a blissful spiritual body.I would rather live here, even as a poverty-stricken beggar,than as one possessing wonderful, unlimited wealth elsewhere.I would rather reside here in Vrindavan,even without doing any bhajan to Lord Hari whatsoever,absorbed in greed for the most trivial things,even if elsewhere I could know the joyof being initiated in the service of the lotus feetof Lord Krishna, the lover of the gopis. Commentary

Prabodhananda Saraswati is the ācārya for Braja-vāsa-sādhana, i.e., the devotional practice of living in the Dham. After praying so intensely in previous verses to attain residence in the Dham, it appears that he has been granted entry and in…

Another side of Bhaktivinoda 18 ::Sri Nityananda’s Guru Puja

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In Chapter Seventeen, Sri Gaurasundar's most personal bhakti treasure, unnata ujjvala madhura rasa, was discussed in context with how it can be attained in Vraja. In this chapter we will investigate where it is found in Goloka Nabadwip, with a brief study of the other rasas.

Sri Nityananda’s Guru Puja

After returning to Ramai's Manohara Kunj, the bhaktas disclose their eagerness to perform our last guru-pūjā within Nitai Chand's garden abode, which is our guru pūjā to him. But we will need to take Jahnava's shelter to do it. And to approach her, Ramai's help will be required. So in hearing about our desire, Ramai becomes thoughtful as he brings us to sit down with him under the shade of a flowering madhavi lata. “I could surely go to meet Ma Jahnava and tell her about your wish,” Ramai says. “And even if Nitai is enjoying pastimes with Gorachand and the bhaktas elsewhere, I know that she can bring him back. But we have a duty to perform first, however, because no…

VMA 1.59 :: Cleaning the kunja in devotional association

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rādhā-mādhavayor yaśāṁsi satataṁ gāyaṁs tathā karṇayan taj-jīveṣu ca varṇayan sama-rasaiḥ sambhūya santarkayan | kuñjaṁ kuñjam anārataṁ bahu pariṣkurvan mahā-bhāvato dehādau kṛta-helano dayita he vṛndāṭavīm āvasa || O my beloved mind!
Take up residence in Vrindavan
and constantly sing and hear Radha and Madhava’s glories.
Describe those glories to the devotees
who have dedicated their lives to the Divine Couple,
meet with those who share
the same taste for such devotion
and discuss these matters with them. And go constantly from kunja to kunja,
cleaning each one with great feeling,
giving up all thought of the body
and everything related to it. (1.59) Commentary

The glorification of devotional association is something that recurs in all bhakti texts. The most marvelous benefit of living in Vrindavan is the ability to hear kathā and kirtan from the mouths of pure devotees of different tastes and traditions. There is no greater wealth for a devotee than to be constantly encouraged and inspired in th…

VMA 1.58 : Chastise your senses to live in Vrindavan

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sakhe na jana-rañjanaṁ kuru kadindriyāṇāṁ sadā vidhehi bahu-gañjanaṁ praṇaya-bhañjanaṁ sarvataḥ | haṭhaṁ na kuru bandhane suta-kalatra-mitrādike vapur-vyaya-samīhayā nivasa vatsa vṛndāvane || Dear friend,
don’t try to please everyone.
Your senses are a problem,
so constantly chastise them heavily
and break off your relation of affection to them.
Don’t insist on being bound
to children, wife and friends,
but live here in Vrindavan, my child,
until your body collapses. (1.58)
Comment

As we saw in verse 1.56, associations and attachments to people unenthusiastic about spiritual life are the principal obstacle to spiritual progress, while good association is the most important positive thing to seek out. The Bhāgavatam nicely echoes these sentiments when Shukadeva first starts to answer Maharaj Parikshit's inquiries into one's ultimate duty at the time of death:

śrotavyādīni rājendra nṛṇāṁ santi sahasraśaḥ | apaśyatām ātma-tattvaṁ gṛheṣu gṛha-medhinām|| nidrayā hriyate naktaṁ vyavāyena ca…

VMA 1.57 : The rare soul with a pure mood of love is truly a marvel

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āścarya-dhāma vṛndāvanam idam ahahāścaryam atrāpi rādhā- kṛṣṇākhyaṁ gaura-nīla-dvaya-madhura-mahas tat-padāmbhoruhe ca | āścaryaḥ śuddha-bhāvaḥ parama-padam athāruhya tan-niṣṭha evā- ścaryaḥ kaścin mahātmā parama-suviralas tadvad āścarya eva ||
This Vrindavan is an amazing abode,
for here dwells an amazing sweet effulgence
of blue and gold light named Radha-Krishna.

And here somewhere too, there is a great soul
who has an amazing pure mood of love for their lotus feet,
who has risen to the supreme destination
through fixed devotion to them alone.
Such a supremely rare soul is truly amazing,
just like Vrindavan itself. (1.57)
Commentary


Now that Prabodhananda’s mind has become a little settled, he focuses in again on Vrindavan and the devotees who live there, in particular the one who has inspired him with his pure mood of devotion for the Divine Couple. Overcome with excitement, Prabodhananda takes shelter of a poetic device he returns to again and again in his works, that of repeating a…

VMA 1.56 : Reside in Vrindavan with equal vision to all

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mahā-raṅkatve vā parama-vibhave bahutare sukhe vā duḥkhe vā yaśasi bahule’vāpayaśasi | maṇau vā loṣṭre vā suhṛdi parame vidviṣati vā samā dṛṣṭir nityaṁ mama bhavatu vṛndāvana-juṣaḥ ||
I pray that as I reside in Vrindavan
I may consider with equal vision
severe poverty and great wealth,
great happiness and intense suffering,
great fame and infamy,
a jewel and a clod of earth,
my greatest friend and bitterest enemy. (1.56) Comment

After spending three verses in the inner realm of the nitya Vrindavan, Prabodhananda seems to have been brought back to external consciousness and the Vrindavan of the sādhaka-deha. The theme here is similar to that seen in verse 1.30. Since we will have plenty of occasion to discuss the ideas of Krishna as Radha's "pet deer" or plaything, Vrindavan as "Cupid's playground," and Vrindavan as the enkindler of Radha and Krishna's love for one another as mentioned in the last verse, we will just review some of the basics, as Prabodhana…

VMA 1.55 : “Vrindavan: playground of the Divine Cupid"

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rādhā-keli-mṛgasya kasyacid aho śyāmasya yūnau nava- syābhīrī-gaṇa-kāṅkṣamāna-karuṇā-dṛṣṭeḥ smaronmādinī | sarvāmnāya-durūha-kṛṣṇa-rasa-sarvasvaika-saṁcāriṇī śrī-vṛndā-vipinābhidhā vijayate kandarpa-keli-sthalī || All glories to that playground of Cupid known as Vrindavan,
which increases the desires of Radha’s pet and plaything,
a certain black-colored youth,
whose merciful glances are coveted by all the milkmaids!

This land is the one inspirator
that sets into motion
the sum total of Krishna rasa,
something impossible to find in any of the Vedas.

Commentary

This verse further confirms what was said at the conclusion of the previous verse about Vrindavan. The dhāma, being the viśuddha-sattva or completely pure existence is the locus of the Lord’s pastimes. It is the prominent manifestation of Krishna’s sandhinī śakti. The essential thing to know is that this is the “internal” energy, which can only be known subjectively. It is not “external” or accessible empirically, through the senses…

VMA 1.54 : All the Supreme Lord’s festive pleasures, and more

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rādhā-nāgara-keli-sāgara-nimagnālī-dṛśāṁ yat sukhaṁ no tal-leśa-lavāyate bhagavataḥ sarvo’pi saukhyotsavaḥ | tatrāśā yadi kasyacin nirupamāṁ prāptasya bhāgya-śriyaṁ tad vṛndāvana-nāmni dhāmni parame svīyaṁ vapur naśyatu ||
All the festive pleasures of the Supreme Lord
cannot match even the smallest drop of the happiness
the sakhis feel when their eyes are absorbed
in the līlā ocean of Radharani’s lover.

If anyone is so fortunate as to desire
to attain the hope for this incomparable happiness,
then let him give up his body
in this supreme abode named Vrindavan. (1.54)
Commentary

Although they have been mentioned briefly a couple of times in earlier verses, we now come to this important glorification of the sakhis, whose mood is the one aspired to by rasika sādhakas everywhere. It is often said that the mood of Vrindavan is feminine, that Krishna is the only male. Although this may appear to the uninitiated as just another kind of fantasy, how could it be possible that someone with …