What does it mean to be a Brajbasi? The eternal glory of residence in the Dham

Cross posted from Vrindavan Today.

While in Barsana recently, I was standing in the Ladli temple on the outside terrace portion and someone appeared to have fainted. An elderly Brijbasi Gosai, with a bushy white moustache, a colorful turban and yellow silk dhoti, a stick in his hand, was walking toward me. For some reason I was impelled to say something stupid and started to speak, but my Hindi tongue was tied and could not express, "We must all pass by that."

At the Brajvasi's insistence I repeated myself again without success and ended up stuttering out the words andham tamah, "the darkness of ignorance." Which I knew the instant they came out of my mouth that they did not fit at all what I really wanted to say, pointless as it was.

The Gusai responded vehemently in a tone of chastisement, but even singing a Brijbhasha song, glorifying Braj Dham as sat-cit-ananda, and how nothing that happens here can ever be andham tamah. I stood there with my head down looking like a stupid schoolboy as he continued, his final word being, "You are only a beginning Brajvasi."

Well better a beginner than none at all. But he is perfectly correct. It is not an easy thing, to be a Brajbasi.

The eternal glory of residence in the Dham

Taking shelter of Braja Dham is the ultimate achievement of the sādhaka devotee of Radha and Krishna. It is the culmination of many lifetimes of devotional practice and culture.

Living in Vrindavan is both the process (sādhanā) and the ultimate goal (sādhya). Of all the 64 sādhanas listed in the Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, five are identified as best of all:

śraddhā viśeṣataḥ prītiḥ śrī-mūrter aṅghri-sevane
śrīmad-bhāgavatārthānām āsvādo rasikaiḥ saha
sajātīyāśaye snigdhe sādhau saṅgaḥ svato vare
nāma-saṅkīrtanaṁ śrī-mathurā-maṇḍale sthitiḥ 
(1) Faith and special love for serving the Deity,
(2) relishing the topics of the Bhāgavatam in the company of rasikas,
(3) 1keeping the company of saintly persons who share the same devotional aspirations, who are affectionate and superior to oneself,
(4) chanting the Holy Name, and
(5) living in the region of Mathura, i.e., Braja-mandal.
(Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.90-92)
Only in the sādhanā of Braja-vāsa are all five sādhanās possible simultaneously.

On the one hand, it is the easiest of sādhanās, because all it requires is your physical presence in the Dham, allowing its inherent potency (vastu-śakti) to work its magic on you. In other words, you don't really need to do anything else but be there.

On the other hand, it is the hardest of all because it truly penetrates to the very core of what all bhakti-sādhanās are about. It is about cracking the hardest nut of all -- the ego, the knot that binds us to material existence. This is what I call the sādhanā of identity. Therefore, the true results of living in Braj is that one will take delight in devotional practices precisely because that is what one has become, that is what it means to be a Brajbasi.

This is why Rupa Goswami calls the instruction to reside in the Dham along with executing the other practices, "the essence of instruction."

smṛtyoḥ krameṇa rasanā-manasī niyojya |
tiṣṭhan vraje tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī
kālaṁ nayed akhilam ity upadeśa-sāram ||
Gradually engaging the tongue in sweetly chanting and the mind in constantly remembering Krishna’s name, form, pastimes and so on, one should remain in Braj and pass the remainder of one's days under the guidance of a passionate lover of the Lord. This is the essence of all instruction. (Upadeśāmṛta 8; See also VMA 1.30.)
Kālaṁ nayed akhilam, "to pass the remainder of one's days", i.e. to stay there forever, indicates that this is expected to be something that happens at the end of one's life, as an attempt to finalize the business of bhakti-sādhanā before it is too late.

So what is the nature and meaning of Braja-vāsa sādhanā? In essence, it is integral to the culture of rāgānugā bhakti itself, since rāgānugā bhakti truly does focus on the transformation of one's identity. Therefore it is no surprise that Rupa Goswami includes residence in Braj as one of the essential elements of rāgānugā practice:

kṛṣṇaṁ smaran janaṁ cāsya preṣṭhaṁ nija-samīhitam |
tat-tat-kathā-rataś cāsau kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā ||
sevā sādhaka-rūpeṇa siddha-rūpeṇa cātra hi |
tad-bhāva-lipsunā kāryā vraja-lokānusārataḥ ||
One should live forever in Braj, remembering Krishna and the most beloved associates who surround him and remaining absorbed in hearing and chanting about them. Here in this very place, Braj, one should serve the Lord [and the Dham, which is not different from him] following the residents of Braj in both the external sādhaka-deha and well as internally in the siddha-deha, out of the desire to attain their loving mood. (BRS 1.2.295-296)
One has to follow both internal and external exemplars. That is why we often hear the words ānugatya-maya, it is based in obedience and conscious adherence. There is a very significant psychological truth involved here, because this dual culture of identity is one that is designed to converge, that is, one attains psychological harmony of the internal and external selves.

So Rupa Goswami confirms the upadeśa-sāra given by him in the Upadeśāmta, but he is making it a little more clear. Rāgānugā bhakti sādhanā is about identity above all. It is about becoming something which at present one is not. It is about replacing our material identities, our upādhis, with a new identity, namely that of a resident of the Supreme Lord's own abode.

Now Jiva Goswami states here, "If one cannot live in Vrindavan physically, he or she should do so mentally." (sāmarthye sati vraje śrīman-nanda-vrajāvāsa-sthāne śrī-vṛndāvanādau śarīreṇa vāsaṁ kuryāt, tad-abhāve manasāpīty arthaḥ).

This does not really mean that living physically in Braj is optional, but that one should not depend on living in Braj before beginning one's rāgānugā sādhanā. But if one is given the grace to come physically to Braj, then this is the best way to perfect his or her transformation of identity into a Brajabasi. This is because that sādhanā takes place on an external as well as an internal level, and direct service to the Brijbasi who is a rāgātmika bhakta in the worldly Vrindavan is the indispensable element.

The threefold nature of residence in the Dham and its goal of is further described by Raghunath Das Goswami:

anārādhya rādhā-padāmbhoja-reṇum
anāśritya vṛndāṭavīṁ tat-padāṅkām |
asambhāṣya tad-bhāva-gambhīra-cittān
kutaḥ śyāma-sindhau rasyasyāvagāhaḥ ||
Not having worshipped the holy dust
that sprinkles from Śrīmatī’s lotus feet;
not having taken shelter of Braja Dhām,

marked with her dainty tread;
not ever having spoken with the souls
so laden with a weighty love for her,
how foolish those who think that they can plunge
into the secret sea of nectar that is Śyāma!
(Raghunath Das Goswami, Sva-saṁkalpa-prakāśa-stotra, 1, See more commentary at VMA 1.43 )
This verse was sent by Jiva Goswami to Gadadhar Bhatta Goswami precisely for the purpose of wooing him to Vrindavan, making it clear that (1) he was an adhikāri for Brajavāsa sādhanā, and (2) that it was necessary for him to act in keeping with that adhikāra if he truly wished to immerse himself in the blissful ocean of rasa that is the goal of every sādhaka. Without the complete transformation of identity, external and internal, that is impossible.

So the first thing to understand that Braja sādhanā is an essential element of a sādhanā of identity, which operates in two dimensions, as do all sādhanās, one external and one internal.

Those who have taken the long road through many lifetimes from a strictly external consciousness (bahirmukhatā) to Braja-bhāva, are impelled by the search for authenticity in both. This generally means following (ānugatya) an authentic teacher in a tradition or paramparā that teaches such a culture.

Jai Radhe.


Anonymous said…
Dear Bhakta Peter, In reply to your comment (and experience) regarding the term "Angrezi" expressed at:


Its meaning is actually from the Sanskrit word आङ्ग्लभाष AGglabhASa.

In which AGgla means Anglo ("English") and bhASa means 'speech' ("speaking"), its simply describes that person to be "English-Speaking."

Although, the Sanskrit word bhASa may be spoken with a forked tongue, because it also means chiding (a scolding), yelping, barking, complaint, brightness (in this case, of skin), vulture, fancy (a contraction of the word ‘fantasy’ in which the original meaning stems from the Ancient Greek √ φῶς ‎(phôs) “light”‎, which again refers to the white skin), light, bird of prey (vulture is inferred) and of course dog.

So, depending on your forked tongue, it could also mean

White (as an expression of derogation) English!
English Dog! English white Dog! English white barking (speaking) Dog!
English white Vulture!
Anonymous said…

Brijbasi Gosvāmī = Master of the mind (and senses), shine(s) forth (and make) manifest the shining enclosure (of light).


Brij from the Sanskrit √ vṛij (see page 1042 of Monier-Williams) 'enclosure':


Basi is from the Sanskrit word Bhāshā from the root √ भा bhā 'shine', bright, luminous, to shine forth, to be splendid, to appear as, manifest, light, brightness, splendour.

See: http://www.sanskrita.org/wiki/index.php?title=bhA

Gosai derived from Sanskrit गोस्वामी gōsvāmī

Gosvāmī (gosvAmI) (गोस्वामी) m.: One who is a master of cows (philosophically, "go" mean "senses" as well as "mind", and thus the translation would be "master of the senses" or "master of mind") - Epithet for Kṛṣṇa.

Source: https://www.sanskrit-trikashaivism.com/en/essentials-names-english-home-names-ga-and-gha/740

"The herds of the sky " , the stars, rays of light (regarded as the herds of the sky)

See: http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier1/webtc/serveimg.php?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0363-gRhu.jpg



haṃsa-vedhaṃ vinā naiva karttavyaś-ca kadācana │
īśvara-praṇidhānena sidhyate nātra saṃśayaḥ ║179║

gurum-īśaṃ samullaṅghya yaḥ kuryāt sa vinaśyati │
nāśiṣyāya pradātavyo nābhaktāya kadācana ║
aparīkṣīta-śiṣyāya dadan-duḥkham-avāpnuyāt ║180║

Kumbhaka Paddhati of Raghuvīra
Anonymous said…

The enclosure, a shining womb of (liquid-like) light.


See Plato's Cave...
Anonymous said…

My person is moved to tears listening to your song:


And reading your translation:

Vritra Chatuhshloki

The last verses in chapter 11 of the Sixth Canto are sometimes called the Vritra Chatuhshloki. They are certainly one of the jewels in the Bhagavata Purana. We have been chanting every morning these and other prayers with Babaji Satya Narayan Dasii (who sings them to a very nice tune and with great feeling), and I heartily recommend them. It is a short prayer, but among the most exquisite in all the Puranas.

ahaṁ hare tava pādaika-mūla-
dāsānudāso bhavitāsmi bhūyaḥ
manaḥ smaretāsu-pater guṇāṁs te
gṛṇīta vāk karma karotu kāyaḥ

O Lord, I shall once again become the most humble servant of the servants of Your lotus feet. My mind will remember Your virtues, O master of my life, my power of speech will be used to glorify You, and my body will always be engaged in doing Your work. (6.11.24)

na nāka-pṛṣṭhaṁ na ca pārameṣṭhyaṁ
na sārva-bhaumaṁ na rasādhipatyam
na yoga-siddhīr apunar-bhavaṁ vā
samañjasa tvā virahayya kāṅkṣe

O my Lord, storehouse of all good fortune (samañjasa)! I do not desire to reside in the heavenly realms, nor to take the position of Lord Brahma, nor do I wish to be emperor of the world, nor to rule over the lower realms. Nor do I seek the powers of mystic yoga, nor even liberation from rebirth, if I am separated from You. (6.11.25)

ajāta-pakṣā iva mātaraṁ khagāḥ
stanyaṁ yathā vatsatarāḥ kṣudhārtāḥ |
priyaṁ priyeva vyuṣitaṁ viṣaṇṇā
mano’ravindākṣa didṛkṣate tvām ||

Just as a fledgling whose wings have not yet grown awaits its mother, or like a famished newborn calf awaits the the cow's udder, or as a distressed wife pines for her husband who has gone to distant lands, O Lotus-eyed One, so does my mind yearn to see you. (6.11.26)

mamottamaśloka-janeṣu sakhyaṁ
saṁsāra-cakre bhramataḥ sva-karmabhiḥ
āsakta-cittasya na nātha bhūyāt

May I have friendship with those who are lovers of the Divine Lord, who is praised in glorious verses, even as I wander through the cycles of life and death due to my past deeds, good and bad. And may I never be associated with those who are bewildered by Maya and thereby attached to self, offspring, wife and home. (6.11.27)

Source: https://www.facebook.com/notes/jagadananda-das/vritra-chatuhshloki/10153825517890983

Yours in truth,

Anonymous said…

Early Tantric Vaiṣṇavism: Three Newly Discovered Works of the Pañcarātra. The Svāyambhuva-pañcarātra, Devāmṛtapañcarātra and Aṣṭādaśavidhāna. Critically edited from their 11th- and 12th-century Nepalese palm-leaf manuscripts with an Introduction and Notes.


The three works presented in this volume are hitherto unpublished texts of great significance for the early history of tantric Vaiṣṇavism, and we have grounds for supposing that they are older than any hitherto published Vaiṣṇava Tantras. They preserve archaic elements not found in other Pañcarātra works, such as Vaiṣṇava brahma-mantras styled after the Pāśupata ones, and the veneration of eight heroes of the Vṛṣṇi clan, as well as of the pentad of Varāha, Narasiṃha, Trivikrama, Vāmana, and Vasudeva. Their ritual makes profuse use of Vedic mantras, one of them even requiring the installation of Vedic hymns (rather than tantric mantras!) chosen from each of the ten maṇḍalas of the Ṛgveda in every image of Viṣṇu. In a spirit rare in the Vaiṣṇava traditions of the second millennium, these scriptures call on devotees to identify Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva. They thus present a picture of Tantric Vaiṣṇavism in the first millennium AD as imbricated with Śaivism and Brahmanism and tell us much about the early history of tantrism and of Hinduism in general.

The first and third of these texts are transmitted to us in a single palm-leaf manuscript dated to Nepal Samvat 147 (1027 AD), and the second in a slightly newer and undated one, both from the treasure trove of the National Archives, Kathmandu.



Further Notes





Anonymous said…


and also:


and ultimately:


From Proto-Indo-European *wreyḱ- ‎(“to twist, weave, bind”‎). Cognate with Latin rīca ‎(“veil, toile”‎).


1.to wind, turn
2.to wrap, cover, shroud, envelop

Anonymous said…

My person was reading verse 44 of the Tantrāloka this morning:

“The life-salvation 'sets (is seated)' in 'Karatala (the palms of the hands)' when the expansion of 'bauddha (in the mind)' ignorance stops by 'dint (the flow)' of 'bauddha (in the mind)' knowledge.

Read text online:


(use the zoom icon to enlarge text)

And in the spirit of the Sanskrit word दश ‎(daśa) would like you to contemplate the following:‎

In regard to the words 'karatala' and 'bauddha':

Karatala bauddha = “To take in the palm of the hand(s) in the mind”

That is to say, to take within the palms and "ten" (digits of the hands), now look at this:


And imagine the sublimated Shakti (seed) energy flooding both hands (and ten fingers) of the brain's ventricular system.


‘Dint’ from Proto-Indo-European *dʰen-

Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dint

Proto-Indo-European ‘*dʰen’- ‎(“run, flow” [like water]‎).

Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Danubius

kará-tala m. the palm of the hand,

kará-talī-√ kṛ to take in the palm of the hand, BhP. viii, 7, 42

Source: http://sanskrita.org/wiki/index.php?title=kara#kar.C3.A1-tala_.5B_karatala_.5D


Definition: mf(ī-)n. (fr. buddhi-) being in the mind, mental (= not uttered)

Source: http://sanskritdictionary.com/?iencoding=iast&q=bauddha&lang=sans&action=Search

Karatala bauddha = “To take in the palm of the hand(s) in the mind”

kará-tala m. the palm of the hand,

kará-talī-√ kṛ to take in the palm of the hand, BhP. viii, 7, 42

Source: http://sanskrita.org/wiki/index.php?title=kara#kar.C3.A1-tala_.5B_karatala_.5D


Definition: mf(ī-)n. (fr. buddhi-) being in the mind, mental (= not uttered)

Source: http://sanskritdictionary.com/?iencoding=iast&q=bauddha&lang=sans&action=Search

Set from Proto-Indo-European *sodéyeti, causative of *sed- ‎(“to sit”‎).


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