VMA 1.18 : How to meditate on Vrindavan

The Parikrama Marg in Vrindavan in 1974. Photo by Vishakha Dasi from Back to Godhead.

The comments I write on these verses are based on the inspiration and mood of the moment. Here I myself slip from Prabodhananda's world to that of the present time. In fact, I believe that is part of the exercise that Prabodhananda is very definitely leading us on. This is being discussed here under the rubric of the bhauma Vrindavan, as it appears to us now in its current worldly manifestation, the lila that the Dham is having and that we, in contact with the Dham, are having. Lila means the story. A story begins with a vision, a revelation if you will, and then proceeds as the battle to give real shape to that revelation is undertaken. Rasa is success in achieving that vision. Underlying all visions is that of love, the cherished fantasy of "true love." This is what lies in the nitya-Vrindavan's innermost sanctum sanctorum.

vāpī-kūpa-taḍāga-koṭibhir aho divyāmṛtābhir yutaṁ
divyodyat-phala-puṣpa-bāṭikam anantāścarya-vallī-drumam|
divyānanta-patanmṛgaṁ vana-bhuvāṁ śobhābhir atyadbhutaṁ
divyāneka-nikuñja-mañjulataraṁ dhyāyāmi vṛndāvanam|
I meditate on Vrindavan,
which has millions of lakes, wells and reservoirs
     filled with divine waters,
amazing gardens of trees and vines
     filled with divine fruits and flowers,
wondrously beautiful forest lands
     filled with an infinite number of birds and beasts,
beautified in every direction
     by numberless divine bowers and groves. (1.18)

Prabodhananda here gives a classical meditation on the natural beauty of Vrindavan. Is he describing the worldly Vrindavan or the eternal Vrindavan of the Spiritual Sky?

Once again, as will likely happen often in this series as we comment on Prabodhananda’s vision of Vrindavan, we are moved to contemplate the difference between the bhauma Vrindavan and the nitya Vrindavan. What is the relation between the two? Theologically the two are one, yet we perceive a difference.

The theme to which I will return repeatedly is that in service to Vrindavan we try to recreate, however we can, the Vrindavan of our meditations within the world we are living in. How that is to be done is a puzzle for our human intelligence. Indeed, it is a battle worthy of a “Kurukshetra,” a practical impossibility in many ways, so much so that most of us who dream throw up our hands in despair when we awaken from it.

Is the vision of those who see Vrindavan as a tourist destination engine for economic development, with manicured mini forests done in the French or British style, true to the vision of the founding saints of Rasik Vrindavan?

Probably not, but it seems that we have no recourse at the present but to follow that trend, with little islands of protected forest here and there, with “theme parks” like those of Vaishno Devi, Prem Mandir, and the projected Vrindavan Chandrodaya temple setting the standards.

Whether the Tatia Sthan Bhagavat Niwas model, which is being lost under the relentless JCBs of the land developers and the pressure of encroachments, can ever be restored is something we may have to wait generations to see. But the question that must be uppermost in the minds of all lovers of Vrindavan is whether turning Vrindavan into another suburb of Delhi is in anyone’s interest — profit seekers or bhajananandis!

In our opinion, those who wish to profit will profit most if the original vision can remain intact. In the long run… But profits seekers are notoriously shortsighted.

Perhaps we should start by seeing how the socalled green belt lying between Mathura and Vrindavan, which is also being gnawed away at the edges, can be made to flourish through water harvesting, etc., so that other kinds of trees beside the scrub acacias can grow. And that more of the Yamuna banks and floodplains, which still hold a great deal of natural beauty, be turned into wetlands that will attract wildfowl over a greater area than at present. The opposite bank of the Yamuna is still pristine, but it too is under the eye of developers and their government backers.

The day we see skyscraper hotels staring at us from over the river at Keshi Ghat, we will be witnessing yet another phase in the battle being lost due to our inability to make an inspired and therefore true or revealed vision hold sway over the short-termers.

At Vrindavan Today we are not against progress, but we need a sound vision for Vrindavan that does not kill the dreams of the devotees — or even the tourists — who come here.

Ten Previous posts

VMA 1.17 : Grant me residence here until the end of life
VMA 1.16 : A prayer for the siddha Vrindavan to manifest
VMA 1.15 : Rolling in the dust of Vrindavan
VMA 1.13 : Offenses to the residents of the Dham break my heart
VMA 1.12 : The Upanishads take birth as cows in Braj
VMA 1.11 : The defects we see in the Dham are not real.
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 1.9 : Radhika's cottage in the kunj


Prem Prakash said…
"... we are moved to contemplate the difference between the bhauma Vrindavan and the nitya Vrindavan. What is the relation between the two? Theologically the two are one, yet we perceive a difference."

Jagadananda dass, I trust by now you know I approach this subject, even when we do not share the same vision, with great respect for you and the material. So, I will boldly continue.

You write that we perceive a difference as though this was a pejorative dynamic. Certainly, even the greatest of aspirants must sometimes consider the reason we perceive a difference is, well, because maybe there is a difference. None of us are drinking from the lakes and reservoirs that Prabhodananda writes about. This willingness to see what isn't there just seems so fraught with peril, a la ISKCON.

Honestly, I am not trying to win an argument. The subject sits in me unresolved. Perhaps that is a good thing.

Your thoughts?
Jagadananda Das said…
I think there might be an answer, at least a partial one, in today's post (1.20).
Jagadananda Das said…
The issue of bhauma and nitya Vrindavan is a deliberate paradox. All powerful symbols represent a dialectic, an inherent conflict that is never truly settled. That is the meaning of achintya-bhedabheda. The reality of the Ideas can never be proven, and yet that reality is what really makes this world real. It is when we juxtapose the ideal with the real that reality takes on meaning. It is when we contrast the two that the ideal becomes clarified.
Prem Prakash said…
This is a great response. Thank you, it's extremely helpful. Yes, there's a dialectic at work which I cannot resolve at my current level. Nothing much else to do but hold the contrast and pray for clarification.

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