VMA 1.60: Feeling separation from the Dham
|Originally posted on Vrindavan Today, Oct. 2014.|
mukti-śrībhiḥ sa kalita-pado nārakaṁ yāti dhāvan
labdhvā cintāmaṇim atha mahā-vāridhau nikṣipet saḥ |
kṛtvā vaśyaṁ sakala-bhagavac-chekharaṁ śvādhamaḥ syād
yo durbuddhis tyajati sahasā prāpya vṛndāvanaṁ tat ||
Having attained a place that is decorated
by all the opulence of liberation,
he goes running off to hell.
Having found a chintamani gemstone,
he simply throws it into the ocean,
Having brought under his control
the ultimate form of the Supreme Lord,
he behaves like the lowliest cur --
Such is the fool who having attained Vrindavan
suddenly abandons it (1.60)
Prabodhananda Saraswati uses strong language in speaking of one who attains and then loses his place in the Dham. The word śvādhama here means the same as vāntāśī, vomit-eater, which in the colorful Sanskrit language means a dog, a creature that can be seen to indulge in this rather repulsive habit. A sannyasi who has renounced material life in order to seek the highest goal of liberation and then returns to that life afterwards is condemned in the Bhāgavatam using this very language.
yaḥ pravrajya gṛhāt pūrvaṁ trivargāvapanāt punaḥ
yadi seveta tān bhikṣuḥ sa vai vāntāśy apatrapaḥ
The sannyasi who renounces and leaves the home which is the place for attaining the first three goals of life–dharma, artha and kāma–in a quest for liberation and then turns around and seeks those three goals again is a shameless vomit eater. (7.15.36)
As a sannyasi himself, this would be the kind of language to which he would be habituated. The idea is that if one graduates to a higher level of spirituality, characterized by an abandonment of inferior goals, presumably after getting a higher spiritual taste for devotion, to then return to lesser pursuits is to be condemned.
After hearing such verses, one may well be careful not to take sannyas prematurely. But sannyas is essentially for the person who still seeks liberation. For one who renounces his worldly duties in order to serve Krishna, any failure is not considered to be a loss. Whatever is done on the path is never lost. As Narada says to Vyasa,
tyaktvā sva-dharmaṁ caraṇāmbujaṁ harer
bhajann apakvo tha patet tato yadi
yatra kva vābhadram abhūd amuṣya kiṁ
ko vārtha āpto’bhajatāṁ sva-dharmataḥ
If after giving up one’s personal duties or dharmas one then falls down while engaging in the worship of Krishna’s lotus feet due to spiritual immaturity, what inauspiciousness befalls him? But what benefit is gained if one perform s his material duties perfectly but does not worship the Lord? (1.5.17)
The reason for this is that if one gets a taste of the rasa of spiritual life, the memory of that taste never goes away. It leaves a saṁskāra in the subconscious, which sooner or later will be revived.
na vai jano jātu kathañcanāvrajen
mukunda-sevy anyavad aṅga saṁsṛtim
smaran mukundāṅghry-upagūhanaṁ punar
vihātum icchen na rasa-graho janaḥ
Never does a servant of Lord Mukunda who falls away from that service ever undergo material existence like others, because anyone who has once relished the taste of Krishna’s lotus feet remembers those ecstasies again and again, and can ultimately never give them up. (1.5.19)
Moreover, Krishna has a purpose to fulfill in sometimes throwing his own devotees into confusion and separation. We have already quoted Narottam Das’s lament in being separated from Vrindavan at verse 1.38. Narottam, as far as we know, never managed to return to Vrindavan after leaving, but it would be hard to accuse him of being an eater of his own vomit! In fact, he was showing how separation from the Dham is in itself a purification. Pining for God makes his presence closer, and similarly, when one has gained a taste for Vrindavan, its absence is felt very strongly and truly makes the heart grow fonder. The strength of devotion is the ticket to enter the nitya Vrindavan.
Krishna’s message to the gopis in the Rasa dance was exactly this, when he said.
nāhaṁ tu sakhyo bhajato’pi jantūn
bhajāmy amīṣām anuvṛtti-vṛttaye
yathādhano labdha-dhane vinaṣṭe
tac-cintayānyan nibhṛto na veda
My beloved friends, I do not reciprocate those who love me in a strictly mechanical way. [These devotees become] just like a poor man who loses the wealth he has gained, and alone, thinks of nothing else. (10.32.20)
Krishna says that he is different because he does not respond in a way that corresponds exactly to the devotion of those who worship him. Rather, he wishes to see his devotees’ love for him increase because he knows that their sentiments of love for him are the only thing that gives them pleasure. So, in their separation, Krishna’s devotees are like the poor man who has lost a fortune and in his sorrow can think of nothing else.
But if one fails to see the value of a gem, or the value of the glories of liberation, or of prema and disregards it, can there be greater foolishness? One who has come to Vrindavan has already reached the limits of grace that all of God’s other form s could provide. If Radha has compassion, the Vrindavan’s spiritual glory will be revealed and one will enter the nitya Vrindavan and never leave.