Vrindavan, 2019.01.07 (VT): The phenomenal appearance of Shri Vrindavan Dham is just the tip of the iceberg – there is a lot more going on beneath the surface. Similarly, the behaviour and rituals performed by great devotees only give an indication of the depth of their humility and service attitude.
As Jagadanada Prabhu explains, “There is no difference between the teachings of the Bhāgavata and the philosophy of Braja-vāsa-sādhana. When one lives in Vrindavan or Braj, then one is to see everyone living there as a blessed person and not in terms of their external actions. Though many verses can be cited, let this one from Prabodhananda Saraswati stand out today for those who wish to perfect their Braja-vāsa. May Prabodhananda, the ādi-ācārya of Braja-vāsa-sādhana please bless us and make us worthy of the Dham.
tyajati ya iha bhakto rādhikā-prāṇa-nāthe
na khalu bhavati bandhyā tasya vṛndāvanāśā ||
The hopes for perfecting residence in Vrindavan of one devoted to the beloved of Radhika will never go in vain, if he gives up the attraction to others’ riches, others’ wives, enmity, envy, greed, untruth, cruelty, vengeful against others, and useless conversation. (VMA 17.48)
In the following mantra, offered each morning at sunrise, devotees offer obeisances and beg forgiveness to mother earth for placing feet on Her. While we can’t avoid putting our feet on on the earth, and those of us who live in or visit Shri Vrindavan Dham, will usually have to put their feet on the ground of this most Holy Dham, the mantra may help us to be aware of our position and increase our recognition of the need for causeless mercy:
समुद्रवसने देवि पर्वतस्तनमण्डले ।
विष्णुपत्नि नमस्तुभ्यं पादस्पर्शं क्षमस्वमे ॥
Samudra-Vasane Devi Parvata-Stana-Mannddale |
Vishnu-Patni Namas-Tubhyam Paada-Sparsham Kssamasva-Me ||
(Oh Mother Earth) The Devi Who has the Ocean as Her Garments and Mountains as Her Bosom / Who is the Consort of Sri Vishnu, I Bow to You; Please Forgive me for Touching You with my Feet.
In the compilation entitled, Bharatiya Sanskriti, Akhandanand Maharaj explains the benefit of early morning prayers and obeisances: “they strengthen our wish to get rid of bad habits, ill will, and faults, which have crept into our lives and minds. This not only brings purity into our own life, it helps in bringing purity into the lives of others as well. The methods of our culture strengthen the foundation of idealism in us. Thus we remain staunch in upholding the values wherever we may be. Otherwise, we would do whatever we felt like, eat whatever seemed tempting, speak impulsively, take whatever attracted us, and our lives would become uncontrolled and beastly. It is necessary to bring order and decorum into our lives.”
While law and order and social conventions provide some control, those living in the Dham have to have high standards – The great mercy of the Dham is the ‘fast track’ process by which the consequences of our thoughts/actions are revealed to us.
Just as a musician gets more in tune with their instrument with every practice session, and is able to hear the more minuscule divisions in time and pitch, so we must attune our ear to the Divine sound and learn to perfect our harmony with Shri Krishna’s flute.
And what better way to tune our spiritual senses than by engaging in selfless service. As Shrivatsa Goswami said, “Seva hi Paramo Dharmah” (selfless service is the highest form of any religion’). Goswamiji has received many felicitations and been invited to speak on interfaith relations at the United Nations.
“Upon being invited to speak and tell of his experiences in New York and Assisi, Shrivatsa Goswami said that the service to the Lord’s creation is the best form of religion…He spoke the words of the popular bhajan, “Govind mero hai, Gopal Mero hai”. Maharaj said that it was not actually his felicitation, but it was the felicitation of Shri Govind, Gopal along with Shri Vrindavan Dham and the Brajwasis. He said that whatever he has done for the society so far, it could have been possible only with the grace of Shri Dham Vrindavan and the love of his Brajwasi friends.”
Maharaj’s humility is notable, as is his absorption the mood of Braj and devotional music. At this year’s Rasa Lila performance at Jai Singh Gehra, Maharaj gave a quick introductory speech in which he said that the real Anand (Divine joy) comes not from the spoken word, but from music and dance.