VMA 1.62: The root of all the secrets of love

Cross-posted from Vrindavan Today


nāhaṁ vedmi kim etad adbhutatamaṁ vastu trayī-mastakaiḥ
stavyaṁ prīti-bhareṇa gokula-patir yan nityam āsevate |
kandaṁ prema-rasasya kiṁ madhurimotkarṣāntya-sīmno’dbhuta-
sāndrānanda-rasasya vā pariṇatiṁ vṛndāvanaṁ pāvanam||

I do not know what this purifying Vrindavan,
this most amazing substance
that is praised by the chief portions of the three Vedas,
in which the Lord of Gokula dwells with full love.
Is it the root of all the secrets of love?
Or is it the transformation of that thick flavor
of incredible ecstasy
that lies at the furthest limit of supreme sweetness?
I really do not know. 

Commentary

Prabodhananda refers to the trayī-mastaka, here translated as “the conclusive portions of the Vedas” or more literally, “the heads of the three Vedas.” Generally speaking, when Prabodhananda uses this term, it is a reference to the Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad, to which we have several commentaries, one of which is credited to him. That commentary starts with a verse taken from Gautamīya-tantra (2.15) .

klīṁkārād asṛjad viśvamiti prāha śruteḥ śiraḥ |
lakārāt pṛthivī jātā kakārāj jalasambhavaḥ ||

This verse is a part of the explanation of the kāma-bīja, the seed syllable of the mantras used in Krishna worship. This explanation is credited in the Gautamīya-tantra to śruteḥ śiraḥ, “the head of the Śruti or Veda.” Since this explanation, in which each sound within the bīja is related to the creation. Since this same description is indeed found in Gopāla-tāpanī (1.27), he concludes this work is the one being described as the “head of the Śruti.” We have already mentioned this connection earlier in verse 1.49, where some of the limits of the insights in that text from the viewpoint of the Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta. Nevertheless, in the Uttara portion of GTU, there is a description of Braj, including the twelve forests and so on.

tathā niṣkāmyāḥ sakāmyāś ca bhūgola-cakre sapta-pūryo bhavanti |
tāsāṁ madhye sākṣād brahma gopāla-purī ||

On the surface of the earth there are seven cities, some of which are sources of sensual enjoyment, others that are sources of liberation and freedom from desire. Of these, the city that is directly Brahma itself is the city of the cowherd, Gopāla Purī.(2.32)

The seven cities are named in the Puranas–

ayodhyā mathurā māyā kāśī kāñcī avantikā
purī dvāravatī caiva sapaitā mokṣadāyikāḥ
The seven liberation giving cities are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram, Avanti, Jagannath Puri and Dwaraka.
It goes on,

yathā hi vai sarasi padmaṁ tiṣṭhati tathā bhūmyāṁ tiṣṭhati
Just as a lotus flower sits on a pool of water, so is [this Gopāla Purī] situated on this earth. (2.33)
Prabodhananda’s commentary there is quoted here at length:

The seven abodes known as Ayodhyā, etc., are factually eternal spiritual places that have been made manifest in the earthly sphere. They are not composed of the material elements, nor are they byproducts of the material energy. The word niṣkāmyā means that they are free from the sense objects, which are normally the focus of desire. Those who live in these places know that material sense pleasure is impermanent and have taken shelter there out of a desire to enjoy unending spiritual pleasure. With this knowledge and devotion to the Lord, they achieve the liberation associated with eternal servitude to Krishna (nitya-kaiṅkarya).
In this text, however, even though it is said that all the seven Puris are all spiritual in nature, Mathura has still been given a special status among them. Gopal is the son of the cowherd Nanda and as such is the great ocean of an unparalleled flavor of spiritual joy. He is embraced by his supreme, most complete energies, all of whom are characterized by the force of pure devotional love, prema. His abode is niṣkāmyā or free from desire in that it brings forth pure, single-minded devotion to Krishna. 
To enter there, no special qualifications are needed, such as attachment to Krishna or detachment from the material world. Thus it is said, “on all…inhabitants of the world.” Such great potency exists in Gopala Puri that it makes even a blade of grass greater than the universal creator. It quickly spiritualizes even those who resist the idea of devotion, overwhelming them with the spirit of devotion, even while freely bestowing on them the most rare and wonderful gifts, including ones that have not been asked for. This characteristic of Mathurä is apparent even now.
Narayan goes on show that the absorption in Krishna by meditation, contemplation and service to his lotus feet, and the happiness of the devotees cannot be considered illusory as in the example of mother of pearl being taken for silver, nor as a mirage like the “city of the Gandharvas,” nor as a dream or simply a mistaken understanding. In order to impress on the hearer that Mathura is not a mundane place, he gives the example of a lotus on water. A lotus may grow in a pool of stagnant water, but does not take on its virtues or faults. Rather, it takes on qualities opposed to those of the water, such as sweet fragrance and beauty. Similarly, Mathura does not take on the faults or virtues of the world, but manifests itself according to its own transcendental characteristics. Any mundane faults or virtues found there are destroyed as illusory by the power of Sri Krishna and by the vision one has of him there. 
A mundane conception of the Krishna’s abode, form and name cannot be maintained. The word hi indicates certainty, the word vai the welldeterminedness of something. Through the power of his abode, Krishna is constantly perceived there in his faultless, undivided, eternally conscious and blissful form, accompanied by the cowherds and the gopis. On this earth, this is verily the fullest experience of joy. A further particularity of Mathura is that it is protected not only by Gopala’s discus, or fire weapon, but by other such weapons. That is why it is known as Gopala Puri. 
Thus, according to the type of worship, these puris are perceived as higher or lower as there are some of each type. They possess various characteristics just as Gopal himself does. Even though there is contact with the material sphere, it remains untouched and unaffected (apracyuti) due to the inconceivable potencies possessed. There is no contact with the material faults. Wherever such faults appear, it should be understood to be a fault of perception. In Mathura, there is no contact with the ignorance that results in the inability to attain Krishna, rather one there finds the association of the qualified. In Mathura, other than direct offences, no sinful reaction arises out of ordinary sinful actions such as telling untruths. Even if they should arise, they are quickly destroyed by the pious effects of living in the dhāma.

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