1992 Vṛndāvana Meditation
Dear Śrīla Prabhupāda,
Please accept my humble obeisances and this humble offering on your Vyāsa-pūjā day.
It was one of those wonderful mornings, like all mornings in Vṛndāvana. The sun had begun its auspicious ascent in the clear sky, resting on the forested horizon. The air was crisp, heavy with the sweetness that is the pastimes of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Birds greeted the new day, their songs rising in a unified kīrtana, as Vṛndāvana forest’s own choir.
I was inspired by that atmosphere, and thus a resolve arose in my mind to circumambulate the town of Vṛndāvana. Paying my obeisances in the dust of the holy dhāma, I invoked auspiciousness by the remembrance of your name. Casting aside pretense in the form of my sandals, I set off on Vṛndāvana parikrama, and remembrance of you.
A few hours earlier I had sat in the still darkness, scrutinizing your Bhagavad-gītā purports. Absorbed in the realm of your transcendental intellect, I became inspired by the greatness of your books. That vision now marks my meditation.
Alone, walking the path between āśramas, I am greeted by the banging of sticks and loud shouts: Ha! Ha! Ha! Mischievous monkeys are driven away by bābājīs, scampering in tribes from rooftop to rooftop.
I consider your voice more effective than such efforts. Through your purports you dispel mischievous Kali from the courtyard of the heart, rendering that secluded place suitable for the appearance of the Lord.
Ramaṇa Reti is the place of Kṛṣṇa’s and Balarāma’s pastimes while tending cows. Those same brothers, having appeared as Gaura and Nitāi, are the inspiration of your pen. Saving the fallen is Their mission.
You as Their representative take up that task worldwide, while everyone sleeps in the comfort of their own bhajana.
Peacocks raise a concert throughout the ancient forest, dancing in the soft sands, exhibiting their billowing plumage, their many painted eyes seeing everywhere.
Eighteen wonderful chapters, like so many eyes by which to perceive the Truth. With many eyes, as many perspectives, but in your vision they all lead to devotional service. By such knowledge, relationship in devotion to Kṛṣṇa is clear. Therefore you are truly a Bhaktivedānta.
Past Varāha-ghāṭa I turn east, to the well-worn path of the old Yamunā bed. Once that divine river flowed here, but now, due to offenses she has retreated to a distant place.
How many editions of the Gītā are there? Countless! The more that are printed, the less is understood. Māyāvādī commentators commit heinous offenses to the Lord, the meaning of His words forever distant to such rascals.
You have brought back the flow of the river of transcendental knowledge, once again bathing the parched sands of the hearts of aspiring transcendentalists, presenting the Gītā “As It Is.”
The high walls of the Nimbārka headquarters was once a proud symbol of devotion to the Lord. Now there remains only a decayed ruin of brick and mortar, overgrown with trees and moss. Such was the condition of the sampradāyas before your advent.
Your purports are not dry words, but juicy nectar that inspires realized service to Kṛṣṇa, even in lands distant from here. They glorify a living tradition, the living books bringing to life the timeless culture of bhakti.
The domes of Madana-mohana temple grace Dvadaśāditya-tilā. That noble structure is decaying under the influence of time. Sambandha-jñāna, which Madana-mohanjī inspired and Sanātana Gosvāmī teaches, will continue for thousands of years through the distribution of your Gītā.
If due to neglect these temples of Vṛndāvana turn to dust, their glory will remain forever alive in the pages of your books.
On the bank of the Yamunā, washermen’s children play, determined to bathe a donkey in the cool sapphire-colored waters. Amid much laughter and fun, two pull the beast from the front, one kick on each side, and still a fifth stands at the back, brandishing a stick. Equally determined, stubborn to the extreme, the animal refuses to enter.
Yet you inspire legions of devotees, less than washermen’s sons, to entice donkey brains to enter the cooling rivers of transcendental knowledge and bathe in the words of Lord Kṛṣṇa. It is no mean task, but remains the steady desire of your compassion-filled heart.
As the decadence of Indian materialism has spoiled this country’s spiritual heritage, at Keśī-ghāṭa the Yamunā has receded, being a ghāṭa to sewage alone.
In the pages of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the pastimes of Lord Kṛṣṇa are alive, forever expanding within the hearts of your readers. By your grace Vṛndāvana is now manifest worldwide, beyond the purview of the local residents.
The ancient tree at Vaṁśīvaṭa, its great branches spread wide, is decorated by many colored cloths—the dresses of the gopīs as they bathed in the river blow. Then the Lord manifested His confidential pastime of vastra-harana, fulfilling the gopīs’ inner desire to worship Him as their husband.
Confidential revelations such as these, innocently portrayed and expertly projected to the masses by your all-perfect descriptions, reveal your unsurpassed devotional poetic ability.
Lord Govinda stands by the shore of the Yamunā, illuminated by the soft glow of a full autumn moon, playing His flute and attracting the doelike hearts of the gopīs. Better not venture that way if you value your attachments within the realm of material enjoyment.
In the cities of the karmīs your words flow like a soft flute-song through the mouths of your representatives. Merchants, politicians, and atheists are drawn by the irresistible beauty of a newly discovered figure—Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Vṛndāvana-dhāma is marked with many places where the Lord disposed of yet another demon, maintaining peace and harmony within His own abode. The words of great sages like Nārada, Vyāsa, and Śukadeva are faithfully delivered by Your Divine Grace through thirty-two beautiful volumes, and the offspring of Baka, Agha, and Ariṣṭa become candidates for liberation that even their forefather could not achieve.
The sound of clanging bells and the chanting of mantras rise from the town. It is the sādhana of thousands of devotees preparing for another day that will bring them closer to their long-sought destinations.
The process of devotion practiced here for centuries has remained a mystery to the world. Misrepresented by ambitious commentators, bhakti had been studied only by a few scholars as a means to an academic end. Now you offer that rare science of loving devotion, traditionally transmitted to the most intimate students, to all, despite their omission of not bowing to your lotus feet.
Daily Caitanya Mahāprabhu would sit at Imli-tāla, chanting the holy names of the Lord, fathomless tears gliding down His beautiful cheeks as He gazed over the Yamunā River. Only those very rare souls who are blessed by the Lord Himself can penetrate the mystery of those tears.
In the Caitanya-caritāmṛta you have revealed the confidential truths about Lord Caitanya. Faithfully adhering to the words of the author, you present the Lord as the perfect teacher and practitioner of devotional service.
A sādhu dressed only in kaupinas, with matted hair and horizontal tilaka, passes me on the path. Those who bow and worship here aspire for goals ranging from mukti to bhakti. Clearly there are varied aspirations of the residents, indicating uncertainty in the purpose of their sādhana. Despite their piety and high birth, they are unaware that, without the mercy of Lord Gaurāṅga, no one can fathom the devotional secrets glorified by every grain of dust in this holy land.
Out of your causeless mercy you have clearly delineated loving devotional service, rarely achieved by Lord Brahmā and the king of heaven. Who else but one empowered by Lord Nityānanda can reveal the sentiments of Śrī Rādhā, reflected in the heart of Lord Kṛṣṇa as He adopts Her golden complexion in the form of Lord Gaurāṅga?
Past Old Vṛndāvana, near a temple of Lord Jagannātha, stands a large banyan tree where Caitanya Mahāprabhu once sat. Bowing to the Lord while taking the dust from this place, I invoke your name as a transcendental password, praying for His mercy.
“O Lord Gaurāṅga, when will my steel-framed heart melt when I chant your holy names? When will I abandon my pride that I am a great devotee? When by Your mercy will I feel myself lower than a blade of grass, taking the dust of the feet of Vaiṣṇavas as my treasure, begging for their mercy with tear-filled eyes? Please make that true very soon, for my heart is burning with the insatiable fire of lust, and I cannot tolerate the misery of separation from You.”
Whatever feeble words escape our pride-frozen lips we have learned from you. Whatever inspiration we have to serve Lord Caitanya has been inspired by you. Whatever advancement we will make in the saṅkīrtana movement is due to you, and you alone. Your mercy, our only asset, now forever preserved in the pages of Caitanya-caritāmṛta.
When Caitanya Mahāprabhu came to Vṛndāvana, all the peacocks, deer, and cows approached Him with tears in their eyes, as if meeting a friend after a very long time.
Residing at Akrura-ghāṭa, the Lord would visit Vṛndāvana daily, returning for His meals later in the day. On one occasion he reached Vaṁśīvaṭa, where Śrīdhāmā had been waiting for Lord Kṛṣṇa’s return from Mathurā. Extending his golden, serpentine arms, Lord Gaura cried out, “Śrīdhāmā, I am back!”
When by your mercy will that golden Lord, all so kind, saturated with intense love of Godhead, non-different from Lord Kṛṣṇa, manifest in my heart?
The path of devotional service practiced by the Vrajavāsīs is very rare and difficult to achieve. Lord Gaurāṅga has descended to freely distribute this gift to one and all. But we are so unfortunate, we have no attraction for it. How will it be achieved? Where may we find it?
Inscribed in the pages of golden-bound volumes are the secrets you have revealed—secrets yet unknown in the cities of the demigods. If we take up the offenseless chanting of the holy names in a mood of sincere separation, while boldly participating in the propagation of the Lord’s saṅkīrtana movement in the association of devotees, Caitanya Mahāprabhu will manifest all devotional truths within the heart, in which greed to achieve Him has arisen, by His mercy.
As Rāmānanda Rāya fully realized the identity of Lord Caitanya, so your followers, blessed by His grace, may one day see Gaurāṅga as Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa through the medium of their sincere devotion in the mood of humble servitude.
Here is the place where Vyāsa composed the Vedas; their essence, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam; and the means to taste the Bhāgavatam, Caitanya-caritāmṛta. What took Brahmā millennia to understand by repeated study of all things known, you have explained clearly and succinctly in a few words. How fortunate are they who with little effort can, by your grace, acquire that knowledge not to be had by wandering for many lifetimes throughout the three worlds.
Nectar of Devotion
Warming the cool sand on the parikrama path, the sun is forever smiling, daily receiving the darśana of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī as She worships him for the attainment of the association of Her beloved Lord Kṛṣṇa.
The path of devotional service is illuminated by the mercy of Śrīmatī Rādhikā, through the instructions of Rūpa Gosvāmī, in your summary study, Nectar of Devotion.
The parikrama is a full six miles. A short journey, but sometimes seeming like forever. Step by step we cover the distance. From śraddhā to prema, the progressive steps of devotion devoid of coverings of jñāna and karma, known as uttama-bhakti, in and of themselves nectar, you clearly explain, bringing us closer to our destination.
One of those inevitable thorns breaks my stride. Having walked in Vṛndāvana for years, I have learned to expect as much anywhere, at any time.
By your direction, devotees will be able to continue on the path of devotion, overcoming the thorny obstacles to devotional service.
What Prakāśānanda Sarasvatī charged as being mere sentimentality you establish to be the most erudite scientific process of purified emotional exchange with the unlimited ocean of transcendental mellows, Lord Kṛṣṇa.
We pass by Dhāvānala-līḍha Kuṇḍa, where the Lord swallowed the forest fire, saving the cowherd boys, who had taken complete shelter of Him.
You are the personified form of unconditional surrender, knowing no other refuge than Lord Kṛṣṇa for the unlimited ills of material existence. You dismissed the bewildering array of order-supplier deities of Hinduism, replacing their worship with exclusive dependence on the Lord.
As the varied flora of Vṛndāvana offer ārati to the dhāma with their fragrance, a soft wind combines the scents to perfume the air.
By the favorable cultivation of bhakti, the combination of vibhāva, anubhāva, sthāyi-bhāva, sañcāri– and sāttvika-bhāvas manifest rasa. According to one’s inherent spiritual nature, one may serve Lord Kṛṣṇa in one of five transcendental mellows, ever residing in Vṛndāvana. In this way you conclude your teachings.
The domes of Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma Mandir become visible; our parikrama has drawn to an end.
When will that day come when, through your transcendental instructions, the goal of my life becomes visible before my eyes?
Paying daṇḍavats where I started, I pray that the process of devotional service you have outlined in your transcendental books, from sambandha to prayojana, be fully manifest in my heart.
As each grain of dust, all-desire-fulfilling cintāmaṇi, is worshipable, I worship each and every word you have left for us to study.
As Vṛndāvana is as worshipable as Lord Kṛṣṇa, your books are as worshipable as you. Did you not say you eternally reside in them?
As Lord Kṛṣṇa is inseparable from His beloved Vṛndāvana, I beg you for unflinching faith in your instructions and guidance . . . Faith that supersedes sensual perception, logic, and intellectual arguments. Faith that will make your words my only life and soul. Faith to take shelter at the feet of the Gosvāmīs. Faith that manifests the realm of the inconceivable. Faith that will reveal pure devotional service to Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa in Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Faith by which I may see you once again.
Your humble servant,