Yes, I am back in Sri Vrindavana Dhama, the Holy place of Sri Krishna's appearance. Naturally, I am reflecting on my good fortune to be here again and about the nature of a holy place like Vrindavana. While moving into the apartment that will serve as my home for the next two months, I found a book with the following statement by Srila Rupa Goswami:
„How wonderful it is that simply by residing in Vrindavana even for one day, one can achieve a transcendental loving attitude towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This land of Vrindavana must be far more glorious than even Vaikuntha.“ 1
When Sri Krishna descends to Earth to perform His pastimes, He brings with Him His own personal abode. This abode or dhama is non-different from the Lord's abode in the spiritual sky. Prabhodananda Saraswati describes the dhama as follows:
„In Vrindavana, the effulgent ground is fashioned with many very wonderful colorful cintamani jewels. The trees and vines are full of blissful spiritual fruits and flowers. Birds make a great tumult by reciting the hymns of sama veda, and the lakes and streams are filled with transcendental nectar. May my heart meditate on Vrindavana in this way.“ 2
But wait a minute, I don't see all of that. Where are the jewels on the ground? — I only see garbage laying there! Where are the wish fulfilling desire trees with spiritual fruits? — I only see a desert-like landscape! Where are the lakes and streams filled with transcendental nectar? — I only see a dirty river filled with sewage water from Delhi and after all, I don`t find birds who sing the Sama Veda but only hear the noise of the auto rickshaws…Where is that Vrindavana that has been glorified so much? I can`t see it!
This is often a doubt that is raised when someone comes to the Holy Dhama for the first time. The reason for this is that the Holy place is hidden. It is not visible for those with material consciousness. In fact, the dhama reveals Himself to us according to our consciousness. atmavan manyate jagat — Everyone sees the world according to one`s own consciousness or as the Jewish scripture Talumd says: „You do not see things as they are — You see them the way you are!“ This is especially true in a place like Vrindavana.
Sacinandana Swami tells about an experience he once had: While staying near Govinda Kunda at Goverdhana, one evening Maharaja was attacked by a thief who called out „Rupie, rupie!“ (Money) Maharaja replied „No rupie, no rupie!“. But then the thief saw Maharaja`s wristwatch and grabbed his arm and attempted to forcefully take the watch away. In reply, Maharaja started to call out „Radhe! Krishna!“. As soon the Holy Names of the Divine Couple were uttered, the whole situation changed immediately. The thief did not behave like a thief anymore but just innocently smiled and left the place as if nothing has happened. Maharaja then explains that in the first moment he saw the person as a thief, so he behaved as a thief, but when he took shelter of Krishna, the person all of a sudden was just another brijawasi, a resident of Vrindavana. Telling this story, Maharaja points out how the holy place will be perceived, will be experienced by us according to our consciousness. The holy place will act just like a mirror, a mirror of consciousness.
Remembering this story I pray that I may be able to develop the proper attitude during my stay for the next couple of weeks. May I attain the favor of the Vaishnavas, only by their mercy is true entrance in the Holy Dhama possible!
1 - Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu by Srila Rupa Goswami
2 - Sri Vrindavana Mahimamrita by Prabhhodananda Saraswati