VMA 1.11 : The defects we see in the Dham are not real

Cows and pigs foraging in street refuse 

atyutkṛṣṭe sakala-vidhayā śrīla-vṛndāvane’smin
doṣān dṛṣṭān nija-hata-dṛśā vāstavān ye vadanti |
tādṛk mūḍhā hari hari mama prāṇa-bādhe’py adṛśyāḥ
sambhāvyā vā katham api nahi prāyaḥ sarvasva-hāsyāḥ ||
This Vrindavan excels supremely in every respect.
They are fools who say the flaws they see
with their imperfect vision are real.
Lord, Lord! May such fools remain out of my sight,
even if I am in danger of losing my life!
Such persons are never to be regarded as honorable,
indeed, I consider them objects of derision. (1.11)

This is one of the themes of Vṛndāvana-mahimāmṛta that we will see repeated again and again. It can therefore be considered one of the essential teachings of this book, and indeed presents a conundrum to the ordinary observer. How can one not see flaws where they so flagrantly present themselves to the eye?

yatra praviṣṭaḥ sakalo’pi jantuḥ
sarvaḥ padārtho’py abudhair adṛśyaḥ |
svānanda-sac-cid-ghanatām upaiti
tad eva vṛndāvanam āśrayantu  ||17.43||
Take shelter of Vrindavan, upon entering which,
every living creature and every substance,
though unnoticed by the unawakened,
attains its own form of being, consciousness and love,
vṛndāvana-stheṣv api ye’tra doṣān
āropayanti sthira-jaṅgameṣu |
ānanda-mūrtiṣv aparādhinas te
śrī-rādhikā-mādhavayoḥ kathaṁ syuḥ ||17.44||
Those who project flaws onto the things of Vrindavan,
whether they are conscious or unconscious entities,
become offenders to these forms of divine bliss,
so how will they ever attain Radha and Madhava?
ye vṛndāvana-vāsi-nindana-ratā ye vā na vṛndāvanaṁ
ślāghante tulayanti ye ca kudhiyo kenāpi vṛndāvanam |
ye vṛndāvanam atra nitya-sukha-cid-rūpaṁ sahante na vā
taiḥ pāpiṣṭha-narādhamair na bhavatu svapne’pi me saṅgatiḥ ||17.45||
Those who do not praise Vrindavan,
those who are addicted to blaspheming its residents,
those of distorted intelligence who think
there is anything in this world to which it can be compared,
and those who cannot tolerate the idea
that Vrindavan is a place of eternal spiritual joy,
are all the greatest of sinners, the lowest of mankind,
may I never cross their path, not even in dreams.
Everything in Vrindavan is worshipable in its own way, including the worms and insects and even the most despicable creatures, and even the untouchable materials take on spiritual form and qualities.

Sometimes we think that it is only today that the tendency to find defects in the Dham or its residents is current, but obviously if Prabodhananda Saraswatipada found it necessary to offer precautions against it even in his day, so it is clear that the materialistic vision of the Dham is the primary obstacle to experiencing its true form.

In the 19th century also, Growse begins his description of Braj Dham by saying, “The first aspect of the country is a little disappointing to the student of Sanskrit literature, who has been led by the glowing eulogiums of the poets to anticipate a second Vale of Tempe.”

Indeed, since the time of Growse and Jacquemont, a traveler whose unflattering description from 1830 Growse cites in his Memoir, many aspects of Braj have been improved. The system of canals originally built by the British, though putting pressure on the Yamuna-Ganga river system, nevertheless opened up the land to more extensive agriculture, and thereby a civilized greening of the landscape.

In the present day, devotees are becoming aware of the environmental pressures on the land caused by increasing population and are making efforts to counteract them by measures such as tree planting, rain harvesting and so on, to bring back the greenery that is inevitably lost with urbanization. In fact, it is the urbanization of Vrindavan and Govardhan and other important holy sites in Braj that are the greatest source of concern; it is this urbanization that is covering the spiritual depth of the land in ever new ways.

With this untrammeled development accompanied by global pressures from climate change, the expectations of a person seeking an idyllic spiritual environment are quickly disappointed. It seems that the same test to our materially conditioned eyes has simply changed form since Prabodhananda's time. Such is, no doubt, the effect of Kali.

To a great extent, the purpose of the Vrindavan Today website was to expose the challenges presented by the external development that covers the treasures of Vrindavan Dham, and at the same time to promote an internal development, which would allow its cultural and religious core to flourish and be exposed to the sincere seeker of Braja prema.

It was out of love for that spiritual core of Vrindavan that we started Vrindavan Today and attempt to engage in a daily glorification of this unique cultural heritage and spiritual essence, even while we do not shy from the genuine difficulties that face the Dham – and the Yamuna — in this pivotal time in its history. In other words, it is at least in part the duty of the resident of Vrindavan to make its glories apparent to the visitor who chances to find him or herself there, so they do not so easily fall prey to the offense of projecting flaws on the Dham due to materialistic vision. It is hard enough already, why not do everything possible to reduce that possibility.

Jai Sri Radhe! Jai Vrindavan Dham!

Previous posts

VMA 1.10 : More glories of Radharani's kunj
VMA 1.9 : Radhika's cottage in the kunj
VMA 1.8 : Vrindavan contains all the Dhams
VMA 1.7 : Vrindavan includes all of Braj
VMA 1.6 : What is it to me if you cannot see Vrindavan's glories?
VMA 1.5 : Take shelter of Vrindavan with all your being
VMA 1.4 : Where all the relishable relationships are found
VMA 1.3 : O Vrindavan! Reveal your true essence to my heart
VMA 1.2 : A humble determination to glorify the Dham


Prem Prakash said…
I guess you'd have to count me among "...the greatest of sinners, lowest of mankind."
Yet, I relish reading these beautiful passages and I hope you will continue to post regularly.
This blog is my daily dose of vraja dust.

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