What's the Fuss?
Posted March 5, 2010
I recently received the following letter from a devotee who doesn't get what the problem is with the bridge going by Keshi Ghat. Actually, he is not the only one, but many seem to be confused about the fuss. On the one hand, there are those with materialist vision, who see the bridge as "progress" that will bring Vrindavan into the 21st century. On the other are the devotees who think we should passively attempt to change our vision and see the divine Vrindavan while pretending that whatever happens on the surface is irrelevant to the way that our vision is transformed. Here is his letter and my answer:
I just don't get it. Why is everyone so concerned with the environment? It is our master, we must accept what the environment is doing and carry on in our devotional practices.
I was just in Vrindavan, it was wonderful, words cannot do justice. My condolences to all of you people concentrating on some material matter. You should be concentrating on the beauty.
If you find a rock in your rasagulla you savor your tooth breaking rather than the sweetness of the rasagulla, and then you blame that on the sweetmaker.
Vrindavan will be beautiful with or without a bridge.
I don't know about you people but I know that I don't have the devotion to see that true transcendental Vrindavan, all I see is dust and stool. A bridge is much nicer to look at than stool.
If you can see that REAL Vrindavan, then please bestow upon me your mercy so that I too may see what is REALLY there, so that I may see the lord of my heart with my own eyes. Until I get sufficient devotion and mercy I will not see, so please bestow upon me your mercy.
The letter is a little confused, since in the beginning you seem to be ignoring the stool and then you say that you do see it, but that you find the bridge beautiful. At any rate, you fail to see the connection between the two.
But to answer your question as to how to get the devotion and mercy so that you can see the REAL Vrindavan, let me give you a few tips.
If your heart is impure and full of desires, do you engage in purificatory acts to make it proper for Krishna to reside there, or not?
Similarly, if your temple were dirty, would you not think it necessary or appropriate to clean it? Should the deities be nicely dressed and offered food on clean dishes, and so on?
Did Mahaprabhu set an example in the Gundicha temple, or did he say, "Jagannath likes it this way" and leave it? And is it a devotional practice, mandira-mArjanAdau, or not?
And when Narottam Das cleaned Lokanath Goswami's stools, why didn't he just say, "My guru's body is transcendental. His stools, like Rishabhadeva's, smell like roses. So I will revel in his stool; there is no need to clean them"?
Actually, you are making the Ramachandra Puri mistake. When Madhavendra Puri was dying and calling out in separation to Radha and Krishna, Ramachandra Puri said, "What's your problem? You are a liberated soul. Why are you crying out in separation?" Ishwar Puri recognized the opportunity for service and got Madhavendra Puri's mercy, while Ramachandra Puri's career spiralled downwards.
When Raghunath or Prabodhananda say that they dream of sweeping the Divine Couple's pleasure bower, is that incorrect of them? Are they concentrating on some material matter because they clean the kunja?
Furthermore, if someone comes to your parents' house and desecrates it--let us say they come and drink alcohol and urinate in the living room--do you just ignore it and see the spirit soul in them and accept that they are acting according to the modes of nature and leave whatever filth or nuisance they have done without question? Is Vrindavan your home or not?
So is cleaning the environment in the Dham service to the environment or service to Guru, Gauranga and Gandharvika-Giridhari?
If you do not see the dirt, then you are exempt from cleaning it. But I would say, that is your misfortune. Your guru has not shown you that this service is there to be done.
He probably told you to sell books. Why? Isn't everybody already eternally liberated and never separated from Radha and Krishna?
And when you walk on the parikrama marga, I assume you don't hear the cars honking and nearly running you over. And when the bridge is built and there are ten times as many cars, you will neither notice the fumes or the increased noise. Better be careful, as one of those cars you neither see nor hear, may run you over. But of course, there is no difference between life and death, is there?
My dear friend, in fact, you are very fortunate that you have had a positive experience of Vrindavan. We wish that everyone else should also have as wonderful a pilgrimage to this land as you have had.
Believe me, for those of us who have been coming to or staying in Braj for the last 35 or 40 years, we continue to come because we also see the transcendental beauty pervading the land, and because we can feel the presence of Radha and Krishna here. That is precisely why we feel this need to preserve and enhance the special, sacred and spiritual character of Vrindavan, and feel it a necessary act of PREACHING to do so.
Preaching is not just selling books. Preaching is also about creating an environment that is conducive for devotional service. Nowhere in the world, no temple, no ashram, is as important a place for devotional service as the place where Radha and Krishna had their pastimes.
That is why Chaitanya Mahaprabhu sent Sri Rupa and Sanatan there, not to convert anyone, but to discover and reveal the holy places where the Divine Couple had their pastimes. This was part of their PREACHING mission. Braj was that important to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And so, one of the first things he did when he had stalwart and worthy disciples was to send them to Braj to do this.
When these places get lost again, or inundated under a ton of garbage, or paved over to make a four-laned highway, we will be letting Rupa and Sanatan's service be undermined. How can that be pleasing to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? We will have misunderstood a great deal about bhakti and prema-rasa.
Rupa Goswami's "upadesha-sara", "the essence of all instruction," is to live in Vrindavan under the shelter of a rasika devotee and hear and chant about Radha and Krishna's most intimate pastimes, i.e., to do bhajan and meditate on the ashta-kaliya lila. You may not be ready to do that, nor may many others, but Vrindavan and the other places in Braj Dham should be developed in such a way that this is the ideal environment to do just that.
Sadhus naturally want a peaceful, beautiful, sacred environment to do their bhajan. Where will they go if this place is ruined for bhajan? Is there an alternative to Vrindavan? Can we make a New Vrindavan that is as good as the old one?
There is no alternative. We must serve and preserve the Holy Dham that Rupa and Sanatan, and Haridas Swami, and Vallabhacharya, and Hit Harivams, and Hari Vyasa, and the acharyas of all the rasika sampradayas chose as their place of bhajan. We have no choice. NONE.
Jai Sri Radhe!!