VMA 1.65: Keep a spirit of joy

From Vrindavan Today

strī-mātre mātṛ-buddhiḥ sthira-cara-nikhila-prāṇiṣūpāsya-buddhir
bāhyāśeṣārtha-lābheṣv api hṛdaya-mukha-mlānikṛd dhāni-buddhiḥ |
deha-strī-vitta-putrādiṣu na hi mama-dhīr mitra-buddhiḥ sva-śatruṣv
āpīḍāyāṁ samantāt sukha-matir amitānanda-vṛndāvane’stu ||

Here in Vrindavan, this land of immeasurable joy,
may I see every woman as a mother,
every living creature as an object of worship,
all external gains, whatever they are, as destructive,
bringing depression to my heart and face;
 
and may I think of my body, wife, wealth and children
without any sense of possessiveness,
and think of my enemies as friends,
and even in the greatest torment keep a spirit of joy. 
Commentary

We have now already seen several verses of this kind. Once again, these are to be considered general instructions for any sādhaka who seriously pursues spiritual life. The successful sādhaka is one who has one goal only and does not swerve from it. The attitudes here are primarily those that are meant to minimize external disturbances so that one can focus on keeping one’s mind focused on devotional service.

Prabodhananda is a sannyasi, but the instructions given here -- though universally beneficial -- appear primarily intended for the householder:

strī-mātre mātṛ-buddhiḥ. If one is a householder, his own wife is his partner, others should be looked upon as mothers to be venerated. This instruction is well known from Chanakya, mātṛvat para-dāreṣu, “Any woman who is not your wife should be looked upon as a mother.” The point is clear. The life of a sexual adventurer is not beneficial to the culture of spiritual life.

sthira-cara-nikhila-prāṇiṣu upāsya-buddhiḥ. A mother is worshipable. Here, all creatures are stated to be so. Not just those of Vrindavan, but all. Since God resides in every entity, since every entity is a part of God, and since every entity in its purest being is a servant of God, every being is worshipable. This is a mental attitude whereby one endeavors constantly to be conscious of God as present in every “other”, and as an object of service, according to the needs of the moment as revealed by God.

bāhyāśeṣārtha-lābheṣu hṛdaya-mukha-mlāni-kṛd dhāni-buddhiḥ. The Gītā says the devotee is sarvārambha-parityāgī, he does not like to undertake projects that will distract him from the simple life of devotion in the association of other bhaktas. He is satisfied with what comes naturally with a minimum of effort, yadṛcchā-lābhaḥ santuṣṭaḥ. So, unlike most worldly people, he is not pleased by the advent of worldly encumbrances like money, property, many disciples who require attention, or rich disciples who want special treatment. He smells trouble when all these things come to him. Thus we have so many stories like that of Ramkrishna Pandit Baba who told the king of Scindia to do him the honor of never coming to see him again, or Gaur Kishor Das Babaji telling a rich visitor to live with him in an abandoned outhouse. These are ideals that have lost their charm in the modern competition of the grand gurus.

deha-strī-vitta-putrādiṣu na hi mama-dhīḥ. A householder should not become acquisitive simply because he is a householder and has to compete with others who are rivals for worldly prestige, nor because his family pushes him to such acquisitiveness. Detachment from the pressures that come from the family to work like a donkey or to act dishonestly, taking bribes or using other illegal means to provide them with unnecessary luxuries, is not a path conducive to spiritual life. A householder can also attain prema bhakti, but not without his own culture of detachment.

sva-śatruṣu mitra-buddhiḥ. In furtherance to point number 2 above, The Christian doctrine of loving one’s enemy is here being stated. In the most basic way, the devotee considers the person who creates obstacles, who tests his determination, who brings out hidden resentments and anger, to be rendering a service by so doing. In another respect, it is a reminder that a devotee is friendly and merciful to all creatures, maitraḥ karuṇa eva ca. Those who are inimical by nature are difficult to deal with, and best avoided. But one should nevertheless cultivate a spirit of positive emotion towards them by praying for their welfare.

āpīḍāyāṁ samantāt sukha-matiḥ. In a similar spirit of taking negative conditions as positive, “when life hands you a lemon, make lemon juice,” the devotee keeps a positive attitude even in adversity.

The nitya Vrindavan is the land of amitānanda, immeasurable bliss. Without the above attitudes toward the world, one cannot turn his attention internally with constant determination.


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