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Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Since one can practice bhakti anywhere, why does Srila Rupa Goswamipada stress physically living in Vrindavan, kuryad vasam vraje sada? (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.295)

Why, because Vraja Dhama has the inconceivable power to quickly manifest bhava bhakti within the heart of a non-offensive sadhaka residing there, duruha -adbhuta -virya -smin –shraddha- dure- panchake …bhava -janmane (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.238)

The word panchake above refers to the five most potent, result producing limbs of sadhana bhakti, namely nama- sankirtana, murti seva, sadhu- sanga, hearing Shrimad -Bhagavatam and living in Vrindavan. Not only will one attain bhava-bhakti by Vraja vasa but also Prema.

Mahaprabhu explains, “Of all sadhanas, these five limbs of bhakti are the best. Krishna prema will appear in the sadhaka by even a slight association (alpa -sanga) with them, sakala- sadhana -shreshtha -ei –pancha- anga, Krishna- prema– janmaya ei –panchera- alpa -sanga.” (Caitanya Caritamrita 2.22.128)

After reading this, the sadhakas living in Vrindavan may ask, “How is it then that I have not yet attained bhava, what to speak of Prema, even though I have lived in Vrindavan for 5, 10, 15 or 25 years?”

The answer is that there is a certain type of “how to” mood of residence in Vrindavan. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura describes it, “One should live in Vraja with anuraga which means a continuous mood of respect, love and loving attachment; while always desiring to be counted among Shrimati Radhika’s Sakhis and Manjaris, “vrajapure –anurage- vasa, sakhi- gana- gananate.” (Prema Bhakti Candrika 56).

If one does not have this mood, however, then he will invariably commit offences to the holy Dhama or the dhamavasis, and thus have to wait a long time to receive the promised bhava and prema. After one suffers for his aparadhas and deeply repents, then Shri Dhama will eventually forgive, and soon award bhava-bhakti to that sincere sadhaka.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada reveals the matchless quality of Vraja vasa. While traveling on his spiritual odyssey, Gopa Kumara arrived in Dvaraka in the spiritual sky [not in Gujarat, India]. There he directly saw Krishna and interacted with Him in a very personal way. Nevertheless, Gopa Kumara still felt dissatisfied because there he could not find his coveted “Vraja bhava”.

Feeling compassion for him, Uddhava Mahashaya advised him to go to Gokula Vrindavan in the material world, saying, “When the saintly devotees see the empty forests, rivers, mountains and so on in earthly Vrindavan, they automatically get feelings of humility and love simultaneously. Overwhelmed, and their hearts intensely burning in separation, they loudly cry out “Alas! Alas!” as they search for their dearest Shri Krishna.” (Brihad Bhagavatamrita  2.5.242-243)

Upon arriving in this earthly Vraja, Gopa Kumara entered a similar emotional state which he describes here: “I came to Vraja and went to see the many places of Shri Krishna’s pastimes while singing my favorite names of Krishna. While loudly and sweetly singing about Krishna’s pastimes, I fixed my mind upon them. I attained such as state of ecstasy (bhava dasha), and became so emotional that it embarrasses me even to think of it. So how then can I describe this to anyone else?

“In this way, I passed many days and nights. However, I did not know whether my bhajana was bringing me immense joy or immense misery. Was I living in a forest fire or was I submerged in the cooling, sweet waters of Yamunaji? That I cannot say. Then one fine day while I was sitting in a Vraja nikunja doing my bhajana, I became immersed in an ocean of crying and fell unconscious.

“Suddenly dayalu- cuda- mani- Shyama appeared before me. With His cooling nectar hand, Shyama personally wiped the dust from my body. Then Madan Gopaladeva filled my nose with the most uncommon and enchanting fragrance of His divine body. I awoke from my swoon and stood up.

“Vraja Nagara Shyama artfully played a sweet tune on His murali, and before I even knew it, Shyama just disappeared in a kunja. Alas! Alas! I ran behind looking for Him. But Shyama had vanished and I collapsed on the ground!” (Brihad Bhagavatamrita 2.6.3-10)

Displaying a similar mood, Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamipada prays in Stavavali: “When will I wander around Govardhana Hill, constantly crying out like a madman, ‘O Radhe! O Krishna!’ for my most beloved Priya Priyatama? Sometimes I will stumble and fall, and then get up again dancing, singing and crying. O when will the streams of my tears shower these transcendental playgrounds?”

By the mercy of Shri Guru and Shri Krishna, Raganugiya Sadhakas who live in Vraja practicing manjari-bhava-sadhana will someday also have a similar experience of seeing Krishna, then losing sight, and then seeing their playful Lord once again while participating in Shyama’s sport of hide and seek with His beloved Premika Bhaktas.

“O when, O when will that day be mine”, sei din kabe habe mor? Srila Narottama dasa Thakura prays, “When while absorbed in transcendental bliss in Vrajabhumi will I give up my body, and go to the joy-filled divine realm of Vrindavan, e- bhava- samsara- tyaji, parama-anande- maji, ara- kabe- brajabhume- jaba, sukhamaya- Vrindavan?” (Prarthana 26)

In his Goswami Astakam, Shrinivasa Acharya perfectly depicts the mood of the six Vrindavan -Goswamis, whom we are trying to follow in our present sadhaka forms (sadhaka- rupena): Greatly agitated and distressed—they wandered everywhere in Vrindavan crying out:

“O Radhe! O Vraja Devi! O Lalite! O Nandanandana! Where are You all now? Are You at Shri- Govardhanaji, or are You under the desire-trees on the bank of Yamunaji? Where are You?” (he- radhe- vraja- devike- ca- lalite, he- nanda- suno- kutah).”

To reside in Vrindavan means to experience this type of separation while performing one’s bhajana, which in essence is nothing more than crying…for mercy, for Prema, for seva and for the sweet Darshan of Radha- Govinda- Yugala. And this is exactly what Srila Narottama dasa Thakura means by saying one should live in Vraja with anuraga.

Without a doubt, the best example of living in Vraja with intense anuraga is seen in the lives and writings of Shri Rupa, Sanatana, and Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamis. By always hearing/reading their anguished, heart-rending words of separation from Radha-Madhava, a fortunate sadhaka will continuously cry and cry until the waves in the river of his tears carry him along to the lotus feet of Priya Radha.

ONLY IN VRAJA

Regarding the uniqueness of living in Vraja Mandala, the Padma Purana (Patala-khanda) says, “Anyone who spends even one day in Mathura/Vrindavan will attain Hari-bhakti, aho- madhupuri- dhanya, vaikunthac- ca- gariyasi, dinam- ekam- nivasena, harau- bhaktih- prajayate.” (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.237) The Brahmanda Purana says, “One achieves the bliss experienced at the stage of Prema just by touching Mathura, parananda-mayi- siddhir- mathura-sparsha-matratah.” (Bhakti Rasamrita Sindhu 1.2.212)

Of course, this will never ever happen just by living a day in Mumbai, Moscow, Manhattan or anywhere in this maya jagat! The word Mathura in Mathura-mandala means “to churn, spin or agitate”. And that’s exactly why residence here is so very special, because Vraja-Dhama has the power to agitate one’s mind with thoughts and feelings for Krishna, and make one forget everything else!

From my 29 years of continuous residence in Vrindavan, I can personally say, that unlike anywhere else in the world, Vrindavan has a distinctive other worldly atmosphere or ambience. There is some special enchantment in Vraja that practically every visitor feels upon coming here.

Devotion to God is imperceptibly floating in the air. It’s all-pervasive, touching every heart with a drop of joy. It’s the kind of happiness every heart hankers for. This is the taste of Krishna bhakti, and this Vrindavan is the land of Krishna’s love, waiting to embrace all who venture forth.

In Bhakti Ratnakara (chapter 5), Shri Raghava Goswami, a resident of Govardhana, became completely impatient and overwhelmed with bliss when he started narrating the glories and benefits of being in Vraja. He said, “One who bathes anywhere in Vraja Mandala, or sees the Holy Places there is freed from his sins.” (Padma Purana)

“Simply by touching the dust of Vraja, one can attain ecstatic love for Krishna.” (Brahmanda Purana) “Living in Vraja Mandala is possible only by the grace of Shri Krishna, for without it one can’t stay a second.” (Adi Purana)

Srila Krishnadasa Kaviraja wonderfully describes the transcendental position of the Vrindavan situated right here right now:

“Beyond all spiritual abodes is the abode of Vraja-loka, or Shri Gokula, which is also called Shri Goloka, Shvetadvipa and Vrindavan. Like Shri Krishna’s transcendental body, Gokula is unlimited, supreme and all-pervading. Vraja-loka spreads above and below without any restriction. Although, by Krishna’s wish, it manifests in the mundane universes, it only has one basic form, and not two separate ones.

“The soil of Vrindavan consists of thought gems and the forests are full of wish-yielding trees. But one with material eyes, sees it as a mundane place. The true form of Vraja Dhama manifests to one with the eyes of love, as a divine land wherein Krishna IS playing with His beloved gopas and gopis.” (Caitanya Caritamrita 5.17-21)

One of best things about living in Vraja, and nowhere else in this universe, is that it enables one to see the pastimes of Radha Govinda Yugala. How is that? Shukadeva Goswami answers saying, “Shri Hari is very intimately connected with and ALWAYS PRESENT in Vrindavan, madhu-vanam- yatra, sannidhyam- nityada- hareh.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 4.8.42; and 10.1.28)

Since Shri- Krishna, Shri Radha and all the beautiful damsels of Vrajabhumi are still living here right now and eternally in Vrindavan, a raganuga- sadhaka who lives here doing bhajana will one fine day see this:

“O, Krishna is here, living eternally in Vrindavan! And I see that Kamadeva Shyama, with His blissful smiling face, is forever increasing the desires of the Vraja gopis, susmita- sri- mukhena- vraja- pura- vanitanam- vardhayan- kama- devam.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.90.48)

In the above verse of the Bhagavata, the first line says, “jayati- jana-nivaso- devaki-janma”, which means that “Krishna, the son of Devaki, eternally lives gloriously among the cowherds of Vrindavan.” Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada explains, “The word jayati is in the present case, meaning, “Krishna is victorious and eternally in this world—in Vrindavan, in His Holy Name, and in His Hari-katha.” (Sarartha Darshini tika)

In short, living always in Vrindavan, vraje vasa sada, means at the ultimate level to always meditate upon Radha-Krishna’s asta-kaliya-lilas while, ideally if one can, residing in a nitya-lila sthali like Radha Kunda, Govardhana, Varsana, Nandagoan, Yavata, or others.

In this regard, Srila Visvanatha Cakravartipada says, “One must meditate upon Radha-Krishna along with Their Vraja lilas, and never meditate on Radha-Krishna without Their pastimes, sri- krishna- lila- sahitayor- evopasyatvam, na- lila- rahitayoh- lilayam.” (Raga Vartma Chandrika II.6)

If physical residence in Shridhama Vrindavan is impossible, however, then Shri Jiva Goswamipada advises that one can live elsewhere, but always remember Radha-Govinda’s eternal pastimes in Vrindavan. Physical + mental Vrindavan is best, but only mind in Vrindavan will also bring success in bhajana.

Although one may live outside Vrindavan, one should not be satisfied and complacent with that residence, and never become attached to it. Rather, one should intensely hanker for that auspicious day or the life when one can physically and mentally live in Vraja Dhama absorbed in Radha-Krishna Yugala bhajana

Srila Narottama dasa Thakura beautifully expresses these sentiments in his bhajana, hari- hari! kabe- habo- vrndavana- vasi:

“O Hari, Hari! When will I be able to live in Vrindavan, and see the beautiful radiant forms of Radha Govinda Yugala? When will I give up the happiness of sleeping in a wonderful, luxurious bed, and smear my body with the dust of Vraja, vraja dhuli? When will I give up the desire for tasty food, and live on begged food (madhukari) in Vraja?

“When will I wander around the forests of Vrindavan, and sometimes take rest on the cool, sandy banks of the Yamuna? When will I find relief from the scorching sunshine under the cooling shade of Vamshi- Vata? When will I sit in a kunja amidst the elevated Vaisnavas? O when will that day come, when I give up everything [and run to Vrindavan]?”

Sri Vrndavana dhama ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Without any shade of a doubt Vilapa Kusumanjali, “A Flower Bouquet of Lamentations”, is the most important and essential book for any serious sadhaka practicing raganuga-bhakti in manjari-bhava, craving to attain the nitya-seva of Srimati Radhika in the Vraja nikunjas.

Every word, every line and every verse is sheer nectar—full of hope, intimate sevas, tears of lamentation and practical guidance on how to meditate on Bhanunandini’s loving service while being “absorbed in chanting” the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, or while rapt in single-minded contemplation.

I beg those hankering for love divine in Swamini’s seva to daily read and remember, and to think and drink the sweet nectar within all the verses of Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamipada’s chintamani grantha, Sri Vilapa Kusumanjali.

By this daily practice, flowers of beautiful intimate sevas at Srimati’s sweet lotus feet will blossom on the tree of your hearts! This is the SRI guarantee!!!

Srimati Tulasi Manjari ki jai! Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Madan Gopal Das

Without any shade of a doubt Vilapa Kusumanjali, “A Flower Bouquet of Lamentations”, is the most important and essential book for any serious sadhaka practicing raganuga-bhakti in manjari-bhava, craving to attain the nitya-seva of Srimati Radhika in the Vraja nikunjas.

Every word, every line and every verse is sheer nectar—full of hope, intimate sevas, tears of lamentation and practical guidance on how to meditate on Bhanunandini’s loving service while being “absorbed in chanting” the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, or while rapt in single-minded contemplation.

I beg those hankering for love divine in Swamini’s seva to daily read and remember, and to think and drink the sweet nectar within all the verses of Srila Raghunatha dasa Goswamipada’s chintamani grantha, Sri Vilapa Kusumanjali.

By this daily practice, flowers of beautiful intimate sevas at Srimati’s sweet lotus feet will blossom on the tree of your hearts! This is the SRI guarantee!!!

Srimati Tulasi Manjari ki jai! Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

You and I, and all the fortunate GaudiyaVaisnavas are worshipers of Prema Purusottama Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Lord Gauranga’s mission on earth was to give pure love of God, Krishna prema, and all the bliss it brings to one and all without discrimination.

Srila Sanatana Goswamipada states most the coveted goal of love divine can easily be achieved by mercy, meditation, singing, sanga, residence and humility:

  1. Mercy: the main cause of attaining prema is Krishna’s mercy (nidanam param Krishna karuna)
  2. Meditation: on Radha-Krishna’s Vraja pastimes (vraja krida dhyana).
  3. Singing: about Radha-Krishna’s Vraja pastimes (vraja krida gana).
  4. Association: with premi-bhaktas (rasa loka sanga).
  5. Residence: alone in a Vrindavana Radha-Krishna pastime place (priya krida vana, rahah nivasa).
  6. Humility: always cultivate the utmost humility in thoughts, words and actions.
    (Brhad-Bhagavatamrta II 5.215-223)

Krishna prema ki jai! Radha-Krishna ki jai! Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!

Mahanidhi Swami

The transcendental amorous affairs of Radha Govinda Yugala are the epitome of divine love, bliss and sweetness. We all know of love. And we have all heard, read, thought and experienced so much about this feeling called LOVE.

But who really knows what love is? One can easily see by comparison that the one and only pair of pure, unmotivated selfless lovers in this world are the transcendental Divine Couple known as Sri Sri Radha-Krishna—the playful teenage lovers of Vraja, sweetly addressed as “Priya-Priyatama”.

Now let’s hear what Srimati Radharani Herself says about the definition, nature and experience of true love.

One sweet day in Vrindavana, a beautiful heavenly damsel suddenly showed up in the courtyard of Radha’s palace in Yavata-grama. It was Krishna disguised as a lady. Sitting down, she shyly covered her head with her crimson veil.

Noticing her, Lalita inquired, “O Tanvi, who are you?” Where have you come from and what do you want?” But that lady (Krishna) gave no reply

Radha asked, “Your luster enchants My mind. You are so beautiful, are you a celestial being?” Krishna kept quiet.

Radha continued, “O Bhavini! Please introduce yourself. Why should you be shy or afraid here with us?” Krishna just sighed deeply while partly uncovering his face.

Radha: “O Sundari! You must be heart broken and that’s why you’re so quiet and disturbed. If you reveal your mind, I’ll try to remove your distress. Are you sad due to separation from your lover? Have you offended him in some way, or is some antagonist gossiping about you to your lover? Or perhaps you are disgusted with him and attracted to another man. Why are you so sad?

“O Vidhumukhi! You are so beautiful, even more enchanting than the Mohini avatara. If Sri Hari should cast His glance at you, He would become immediately captivated.”

Meanwhile, Krishna (as lady) was becoming so ecstatic from drinking Radha’s wonderful kathamrta that thrill bumps of joy arose on His body.

Noticing this Radhika said, “Are you suffering from some pain in your body?”

Turning to Visakha, Radha said, “O sakhi! Give me that healing oil, and I will massage this girl with My own hand to remove all the pain in her body and then bathe make her feel happy. Then she will surely start speaking with us.”

At this point, Krishna, perfectly imitating the voice of a woman, said, “I’m a heavenly damsel and I have come here thinking that only you can help me.”

Radha: “I can clearly see that you are not an ordinary mortal since you have an incomparable radiance and beautiful face like an autumn lotus. But why are you so sad and forlorn? Just consider me to be yours and reveal your mind.”

Krishna (disguised as lady): “Although I’m a celestial, I simply desire to be your maidservant after observing your amazingly wonderful form, qualities and affection. It’s very difficult to remove, but You must remove my heartache.

“Let me confide in you Radha. Do You know that Krishna’s flute song is so powerful that it even resounds in heaven, and destroys the chastity of all the damsels there. Intensely desiring to know the origin of this bewitching sound, I descended to earth and have been staying at Vamshivata. And often I have observed your incomparible pastimes there with Sri Hari.

“Thus I have concluded that even Lakshmi and Parvati are nothing in comparison with You. There is definitely no lady in creation with as much love as You. As to the cause of my heartache, it is Krishna whom I have fallen deeply in love with.” Then Krishna (as lady) fell silent.

Radha: “Why do you create so much misery for yourself by falling in love with Krishna? Indeed, Krishna is certainly a most handsome, talented, heroic and famous person, but He has one fault. He is very lusty and does not respect another’s love. He will lavish you with love, and then just leave you in kunja to lament and piteously cry in his separation as He runs off with some other girl.”

Krishna (as lady) “Indeed sakhi, I have verily witnessed your agony and distress while I was staying at Vamsivata. Being a celestial, I have personally never experienced any heartaches. But now, after observing Your piteous wailing and lamentations in separation from Krishna, I too have become very pained in heart.”

Radha: “O my beautiful girlfriend! I like you very much, and want you to always stay here with me in Vraja and not return to heaven. Then I will open the jewel box of my love and show you all my gems!”

Krishna: “Yes, just order me. I only want to please you; for you are my only shelter!”

Satisfied, Radha began to describe and define the nature of genuine “TRUE LOVE” i.e. Her own pristine prema for her Priyatama Shyama.

Radha: “The absolute purity of one’s love is shown by one’s actions, which are all dedicated only to the happiness of the beloved. But other than in Krishna, in all the three worlds where can such prema be found? It is the prema of the Vraja gopis only that gives Krishna unlimited bliss. Sometimes the gopis’ love may even appear like lust, but you should not think that it is lust. Because the Vraja-gopis are only interested in Krishna’s happiness and never their own.

“Our Sri Krishna is an ocean of sweet love, full of all jewel-like transcendental qualities, and most attractive to all women. Yet even lacs and lacs of pretty girls cannot satisfy Krishna’s desires. It is the Vraja-gopis alone, with their pure selfless love, who have conquered Krishna’s heart.

Radha continued, “Let me explain. Sometimes Krishna does not show up in the trysting place where I am waiting. Even though his mind is completely fixed on me, he may feel obliged sometimes to enjoy another gopi after being accosted by her on his way to me. Krishna, however, will not feel satisfied with her, because he will be thinking about how sad I must be feeling in his absence.

“And that makes me doubly sad along with the fact that my beautiful dress, ornaments and loving expertise are all for naught because they could not be enjoyed by Krishna. Then when Krishna humbly comes to me at daybreak, I angrily tell him, ‘Go back and enjoy with that other girl!’ But this is also said all for Krishna’s pleasure. Such is the way of love in Vraja!”

After hearing Radha’s ambrosial talk on the subject of prema, Krishna (as lady) summarized it saying, “O Priyasakhi! In essence, true love is such that it turns the lover’s faults into virtues, and the misery he gives into nectar bliss. A true beloved cannot tolerate even the slightest misery to the lover. Prema makes the lover appear to be grand and glorious, even though he may not be glorious at all! It very clear to me now that you, Radha, are the only shelter of that prema.”

Radhika then replied, “Listen sakhi, I immediately know exactly what is on My lover’s mind.”

Krishna: (as lady) said, “Hey Gandharvike! I don’t doubt that you know Krishna’s mind, but the question is does Krishna know Your mind?”

Radha: “Sakhi, people think that Krishna and I know each other’s minds, and that We eternally dwell within each other. This is not quite correct, because in reality Krishna and I are one soul in two bodies. And We forever destroy the darkness of each other’s separation and delight Our sakhis.”

Krishna: “How can I believe that You and Krishna are one soul without testing You? I will fully believe You if You can show Me that You are both thinking of the same thing at the same time. If You close Your eyes and just think, ‘Krishna should come here right now’ and He does, then I will believe that You and Krishna are one soul. And this will make Me very happy.”

Vrshabhanunandini Radha then closed Her beautiful eyes and deeply meditated upon Her beloved Shyamasundara, thinking, “O Suryadeva (Radha’s ishtadeva)! O fulfiller of all My desires! O merciful one! If Gandharvika and Giridhari are indeed one soul, then bring Giridhari before Me right now to please My friends!”

While Radharani was rapt in meditation, Hari abandoned His female disguise. Winking at the sakhis nearby, Shyama (now in His dashing handsome form) began to kiss and embrace Sri Radhika again and again. As Radhika was seeing Shyama within Her meditation and experiencing Him outside as well, She became immersed in ecstasy.

After sometime, Radhika came to external consciousness. Seeing Shyama before Her, Lajjeshvari Radha shyly covered Her face with Her veil.

Observing this amazing turn of events, Lalita said, “O gallant hero! It is most most amazing that You came here into the private inner chambers of Radha’s home without being seen by any of Radha’s superiors.”

Krishna: “Actually Lalita, I am very surprised Myself how it happened. I was playing near the goshalla when suddenly I remembered Radhika and then this celestial damsel brought Me here.”

Radha: “Hey Lalite! What happened to that celestial damsel anyway, and where is she now? By seeing that Shyama has come here just by My calling Him in meditation, she should now believe that Krishna and I are one soul.”

Krishna: “Radha, was that damsel some kind of siddha yogini who gave You a mantra to fully control Me? I also want that mantra, so then I can fulfill all My desires!”

Lalita: “I am sorry Shyama for it seems that that yogini has suddenly disappeared. I will go outside and try to find her.”

Turning to Radha, Lalita-sakhi said, “O sakhi, I think You can make Your beloved happy by giving Him this mantra Yourself!” Then Lalita and all the sakhis scurried out of the bedroom, leaving Radha-Madhava all alone to adorn each other with the many play jewels from the jewel box of Their mutual love. (Prema Samputa, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti, adapted)

Radharani’s shuddha nirmala madhurya prema ki jai!

Jaya Jaya Sri Radhe!