VMA 1.75 Lament your misfortune if you cannot live in Vrindavan

Cross post from Vrindavan Today

vṛndāraṇyam ananya-bhāva-madhurākārehito rādhikā-
yo’nyatrāpi kṛta-sthitir vidhi-vaśāc chocan sadā cintayen
nityaṁ tan-milanaṁ vicinta yad ahaṁ tad-dhāma-yugmaṁ bhaje ||
He whose only desire takes the form
of sweetness in exclusive love in Vrindavan,
but by destiny is forced to live elsewhere,
should lament his misfortune and
always remember Vrindavan
as a beautiful place with splendid groves
where Radhika and Krishna enjoy their pastimes,
and always meditating on their union, should think,
"I am serving the Divine Couple." (1.75)

The last three verses (1.72, 1.73, 1.74) have given instructions to those who cannot remain permanently in Vrindavan. Each of them emphasized service to the residents of Vrindavan, particularly those who are highly qualified association, fixed in bhajan of the Divine Couple of Vrindavan. Residence in the Dham is the ideal situation where one can finalize one’s bhajan, and there is not much point in going to Vrindavan if one has no interest in bhajan, hearing, chanting and remembering the pastimes of Radha and Krishna in the association of rasika devotees.

So before being able to come to Vrindavan and making the most of residence there, there is a long preparatory stage. We have already seen that there is no extraneous qualification for living in Vrindavan (See 1.62, 1.66, 1.68), but without love for Radha and Krishna, living in Vrindavan is not really living there at all.

So, living outside of Vrindavan with the mind fixed on Radha and Krishna and their pastimes in the Dham is the way to increase one’s love for them. Indeed, it could be said that Vrindavan’s function is to put the finishing touches on a process that has been going on for lifetimes. So since the practice is perfection in the imperfect state (sādhane yei dhana cāi siddhadehe tāhā pāi), one should as quickly as possible engage in meditating on Radha and Krishna’s union in the groves of Vrindavan:

vana-vipina-nikuñje divya-divyair vilāsaiḥ |
niravadhi ramamānau rādhikā-kṛṣṇa-candrau
bhaja sakalam upekṣya tāvakāḥ śāstra-yuktīḥ ||
Oh mind! Discard everything, your logic and scriptural quotations, to worship Radha and Krishna Chandra, who are constantly relishing their lovemaking through newer and newer divine pastimes in the forest bowers of Vrindavan, which ooze the secret bliss of the supreme flavors of love. (Nikuñja-rahasya-stava 31)
Prabodhananda throughout all his writing primarily glorifies the union of Radha and Krishna. He is not an afficionado of the vipralambha mood of madhura-rasa. Like most Vrindavan rasikas, his meditation is not on Radha’s māna or Krishna’s departure to Mathura.

And this is in fact correct: Vrindavan is ground zero of Radha and Krishna’s union. The state of union is indeed the fundamental unitarian truth of the Godhead (tattvam advayam) ; it is the primordial state of bliss for which everyone pines and to which everyone seeks to return. The complications of theorizing about parakīyā and svakīyā are not for those who understand that Krishna never leaves Vrindavan or Radha’s side for even a moment, and knows that they are One Entity in Dual Form .

But this does not mean that the subject of vipralambha, or love in separation, has no deep or eternal significance. As soon as the One divides into Subject and Object, there has to be separation. Without separation there can be no rasa, for rasa implies an oscillation between separation and union.

This is applicable both in the states of sādhanā and in siddhi. For instance, one who seeks exclusive love for the Divine Couple, a sādhaka, who cannot take the plunge and live in Vrindavan in full dedication to bhajan, should follow the following instruction from the Bhāgavatam:

jāta-śraddho mat-kathāsu nirviṇṇaḥ sarva-karmasu
veda duḥkhātmakān kāmān parityāge’py anīśvaraḥ
tato bhajeta māṁ prītaḥ śraddhālur dṛḍha-niścayaḥ
juṣamāṇaś ca tān kāmān duḥkhodarkāṁś ca garhayan
proktena bhakti-yogena bhajato māsakṛn muneḥ
kāmā hṛdayyā naśyanti sarve mayi hṛdi sthite
[Shri Bhagavan said:] One who has developed faith in my topics, who is without any attachment for worldly and Vedic duties or their benefits, who has understood that desires are the source of all misery but is unable to give them up, then such a faithful devotee should serve me with love, with firm conviction that all things will be achieved through devotion, even as he engages in the attempt to fulfill his desires while at the same time condemning them as the sources of misery. All desires in the heart are destroyed for one who worships me constantly through the path of devotion as I have described it, for I am present in his heart. (11.20.27-29)
The idea here is that a Vaishnava does not have to attain perfect renunciation to be eligible for the practice of devotion. This is applicable to all kinds of bhakti, even including the culture of madhura-rasa, not as some people think that there is some external standard of purity that must be met before one can proceed. Every stage of bhakti is preceded by faith alone, the conviction that the desire to serve the Lord has the most powerful transformative qualities because nothing pleases the Lord more than this.

The important line in these verses is juṣamāṇaś ca tān kāmān duḥkhodarkāṁś ca garhayan: “Even while engaging in the fulfillment of those desires, the sādhaka condemns them as the sources of misery.” For a devotee who has faith and firm conviction (śraddhālur dṛḍha-niścayaḥ) the only source of misery is that which distracts him from his bhajan, from union. As long as one sees that one’s own actions are keeping him separate from the bliss of the Divine Couple, the bliss of the real Vrindavan of eternal union, he condemns himself, even though in reality there is no fault.

In other words, what he is condemning is the feeling of separation, and the separation of thought is worse than the separation of body. Even at a very elevated level of separation, the devotee condemns himself for what he perceives as a lack of sincerity:

na prema-gandho’sti darāpi me harau
krandāmi saubhāgya-bharaṁ prakāśitum
vaṁśī-vilāsyānana-lokanaṁ vinā
bibharmi yat prāṇa-pataṅgakān vṛthā
I have not the slightest tinge of love for Krishna. If I cry, it is only to make a show of my great fortune. Why do I keep the insect of my life breathing without seeing the beautiful face of him playing his flute? (CC 2.2.46)
So this is actually the eternal condition. Union and separation are in eternal tension, but the innate tendency to seek an “original state” is the desire for union. However, without separation, there can be no heightening of the pleasure of union, whether that union comes after being in the conditioned state or whether it is in the eternal abode where union dominates. In fact, this is the principal teaching of the gopi episodes of the Bhāgavatam, in whatever kind of separation. But the highest union (samṛddhimāna-sambhoga) follows the longest and most helpless separation, as exemplified in the Bhāgavatam when the gopis meet Krishna in Kurukshetra.

gopyaś ca kṛṣṇam upalabhya cirād abhīṣṭaṁ
yat-prekṣaṇe dṛśiṣu pakṣma-kṛtaṁ śapanti
dṛgbhir hṛdī-kṛtam alaṁ parirabhya sarvās
tad-bhāvam āpur api nitya-yujāṁ durāpam
The gopis saw their beloved Krishna [at Kurukshetra] after their long separation. They cursed the creator for creating the eyelids that interfered with their vision of him, [and so] they secured him in their hearts through their eyes and held him there in tight embrace. Thus they attained a depth of emotion so intense that not even those who are with him in eternal union can attain it. (10.82.40)
This is the raison d’etre for all kinds of separation. But just as the gopis in separation meditate on their past and future union with Krishna, Prabodhananda here advises absorption in Radha and Krishna’s union. The devotee in madhura-rasa is the servant of the Divine Couple’s union. Feelings of separation will naturally follow from the direct experiences of union, which by Krishna’s plan return again and again for the sake of heightening rasa.


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