A question-answer session by Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji Maharaj with a group of Lithuanian visitors to Jiva Institute on November 5, 2018.
Babaji: Everything is changing; it is not only Vrindavan that is changing. Change will always occur, whether in the cells in the body, in our thoughts or things around us. Change is the very nature of things. But the person, around whom the change is happening, does not change. Like the fixed center of a rotating wheel, our bodies change but we, the center, do not.
Now the question is whether the change in Vrindavan is good or bad. Actually Krishna tells Uddhava that there is no such thing as absolutely good or absolutely bad in the material world. Whatever is good has bad in it, and whatever is bad has good in it. The world is dualistic in nature.
The real good is beyond both so-called good and bad (guṇa-doṣa-dṛśir doṣo guṇas tūbhaya-varjitaḥ 11.19.45). When we were young, we wanted to grow up. We were happy growing up and thought that was good. But there is also something bad or undesirable in it. By growing we are moving toward death, which is not desirable. We don’t want to become old. We do not want to die. But actually there is some good in that too, because we will get a new body after death. Every change has both sides to it. Our perception—the side we pay attention to—makes it good or bad for us. But real intelligence is to go beyond good and bad.
Vrindavan is also changing like any other place, and we might say this change is not good. But Vrindavan is changing because visitors are coming here, which is a good thing.
It is a fact that if visitors didn’t come here, Vrindavan would not change. Vrindavan is changing because people who are coming here, especially the affluent class, need facilities, shops, apartments, electricity, roads, transport. And all this causes congestion, pollution, inconvenience to people, cows, dogs, and other animals. But these people are coming because about 500 years ago, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu came to Vrindavan. When he came here, there were no temples. It was all forest. He sent his followers to this place – Loknath Goswami, Bhugarbha Goswami, then Sanatan Goswami and Rupa Goswami. He taught them to build temples here, to uncover the places for Krishna’s pastimes and so on. So when he did that, was it good or bad? If that was good, then what is happening now is an outcome of that. All this is happening because of His original idea.
He wanted people to come and visit Vrindavan and become devotees of Krishna. And that is good. Now visitors are coming, and we are complaining. What is the point of building a temple if not one person is going to come to see it? More people want to be devotees now, they want to come here and spend some time, but the physical size of Vrindavan is fixed. So Vrindavan has to change.
Another point is that everything in the material world is cyclic. Who knows what Vrindavan will look like a thousand years from now? If it gets too congested, people will stop coming and then the influx will start to slow down. When there are too many people, corruption will increase, problems will multiply and eventually people will stop coming. The change itself will bring another change. During Krishna’s time, it was a forest, now it is just buildings. So maybe this change which we see as bad now will usher another change, and that is also a good thing.
Beyond this external Vrindavan, there is the inner Vrindavan right here. Just as the body is changing, but there is something inside that does not change, similarly, there is an inner Vrindavan, which does not change. We have to meditate, concentrate, and deliberate on that inner Vrindavan. Because that is the unchanging reality. And this Vrindavan that you see will keep on changing, and nobody can stop it.
What is the significance of that inner Vrindavan? Consider that in a city there are different places like clubs, parks and playgrounds, temples, schools, colleges, courts, prisons and so on. There are different places for different things. Similarly, on earth there are different countries and, in each country there are different towns or cities that are more or less conducive for a particular activity. Vrindavan is the place for love. We should keep the greatness of this place in mind.
You may find so many places which are more beautiful and wonderful and peaceful, but what is here is not available anywhere. Krishna lived here when he was manifest and he is still here, and there have been many, many great devotees who lived here. One can feel their energy and their vibration provided one has the right mindset to feel it. There are people who have a heart to-feel love energy. When they come here, they feel it. Even if we don’t feel it, we must pray to Krishna that we may get that feeling.
If we analyze our material relations, we will conclude that they really are for our own sake, not for the sake of our loved one. What we call love is actually self-centeredness or selfishness. Krishna’s pastimes in Vrindavan show what pure love is. His devotees don’t love only him; they also love other devotees. This is shown in Krishna-lila — how people around him love each other. They are like one big family because they all love Krishna. There are two ways we can live life – a self-centered life and a God-centered life. The importance of Vrindavan is that this is the place where Krishna appeared and showed practically how to live in love. And happiness is in love. There is no other real happiness in life. This is the greatness of the inner Vrindavan.