VMA 1.19 : Whose mind will not be stolen?
|Natural vegetation in Vrindavan area. From near Akrura Ghat. (Photo by Jai Poddar.|
puñjair vṛta-druma-latā-ghana-ratna-bhūmi |
vṛndāvanaṁ harati kasya haṭhān na cetaḥ ||
Whose mind will not be forcefully stolen awayCommentary
by this beautiful land of Vrindavan,
its jeweled terrain covered with
thick foliage from the trees and vines
throughout the many, many thickets
where Radha and Madan Mohan play,
and where the birds and beasts are intoxicated with joy? (1.19)
[These commentaries were written, if I am not mistaken, while I was in Canada a few years ago. It is a bit interesting to see the fluctuating moods of these VMA posts which were done in different times and places over several years. And any coherence that is there is lost when I start meddling in my own commentaries from a few years back. I believe in evolution because I see it in my own life and I extrapolate towards humanity as a whole and also to God. There are many factors involved in one like this. In that way it is a kind of diary, which I also wanted as a part of this project , if only becasue I believe that through my personal engagement with the text will it be given any life. I am here in Vrindavan at the tail end of my life in a particular historical situation, but my primary business is to find the soul of Vrindavan, not just through books but through sadhana and just being here, merging with the dust here, as it were.]
I once heard that when the Muslim marauders came eastwards conquering India, they thought they had reached paradise when they came to Bengal, because for the first time they reached a place that was really lush and verdant. The Quranic paradise is described in terms of plentiful water, flowers and fruit-filled trees.
Perhaps the paradisiacal Vrindavan never was and never could be the luxuriant and bounteous place that the Vaishnava poets described, either after seeing or imagining it, but certainly chopping down trees willy nilly is a recipe for desertification. This is well known. The only way to stave off making Vrindavan into a barren, parched wasteland is to preserve and expand its greenery.
An African proverb says when an old person dies, a library burns to the ground with him. What is lost when an old tree is chopped down? What reservoirs of ground water, what wealth of shade for weary walkers in the hot season? What witness, on the parikrama marga in Vrindavan, of countless bhaktas singing or muttering Radha and Krishna’s names?
Grow more trees and don’t chop the old ones down.
[Which brings me back to 2018. Yesterday I went for the first time in ages to a BVHA meeting (Braj Vrindavan Heritage Alliance. Some of the same faces that have been participating since the beginning, but the BVHA has not really grown much over the years, which is unfortunate. Nevertheless, Jagannath Poddar continues to make efforts for environmental and heritage preservation in Vrindavan..
One of the things that he is actively engaged in as director of Friends of Vrindavan is tree planting . And, to just add to that, he has been since the beginning one of the few to actively oppose tree cutting, such as that which was proposed on the Raman Reti Road and so on. If the Parikrama Marg is lined with adolescent trees, it is in part due to his continued efforts, both direct and indirect.
Anyway, he told me this story. A supporter of the tree planting gave Jagannath a sapling of a banyan tree and asked him to plant it somewhere in Vrindavan. So JP was looking for a place to plant it. But a mature banyan tree takes up a lot of space and few people were willing to give that much land for it. So for a week Jagannath was trying to find a place and meeting with no luck. Finally he was given permission to plant it at Jagannath Ghat, just in front of the Jagannath temple.
That night Jagannath had a dream in which the banyan itself came and spoke to him and said, "At last I have found my place." Jagannath was amazed and phoned the person who had given him the sapling and asked him where it was from. The man had brought it from Orissa, he was told. So an Orissan banyan tree found its way to the Jagannath temple in Vrindavan. Now isn't that an interesting story?]
|Planting a tree with Jagannath Poddar. Jai Vrindavan Dham!|
VMA 1.18 : How to meditate on Vrindavan
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