Dhanurdhara Swami February 12th, 2002
Cold winds suddenly blow into Vrindaban from the North, heavy fog sets in, and the sun hides until late afternoon. The weather has turned completely miserable. I am suffering more now because of it than I did when the same weather seasonably hit us for a long stretch in late December. Why? Because when the first balm of warm weather visited us after the long winter, I thought, “Ahh, how nice. Now I can enjoy!” Until we rise above duality our attachments are also
the cause of our suffering.
CHOP! CHOP! CHOP! Suddenly, by decree of the college who owns the 30-acre field next to the japa-kutir, our sweet forest is being senselessly decimated. Damn Kali-yuga and its effect on the dhama?destroying our spiritually uplifting views, cluttering the hallowed ground with ugly, multicolored, non-decomposable
plastic bags, and shoving a hodgepodge of grossly amplified and distorted sounds down our ears. Still, real Vrindaban shines through the clouds of maya for one who takes shelter of the holy name. A fortnight here still guarantees liberation. And still, I count my blessings to be here.
Dhanurdhara Swami February 11th, 2002
Bhagavatam Meditation IV
The gopis are chaste village cowherd girls. Thus they can never openly express their love for their paramour, Sri Krishna. In fact, the traditional mores are so strict that in a proper family, even the mere statement of romantic love between a husband and wife is reserved for a special section of the house, off limits to others?even the children. Such love is never expressed publicly. But what are the gopis to do? Krishna is leaving Vrindaban and no one is protesting. The gopis ponder their dilemma. If they speak, they will lose their reputation and such social condemnation will be like death. But if they don’t, the separation from Krishna itself will be worse than death. “O Govinda! O Kesava! O Madhava! Don’t leave us!” they shout, oblivious to society, friendship, and familial love.
The gopis reasoning is pure and simple: “The pain of separation from Krishna is worse than the pain of being socially ostracized, losing ones reputation, or even death, so we must try anything to retain His association no matter how dire the consequence.”
As practitioners, we should act in devotional service according to our realization without superficially renouncing what we need in Krishna’s service. However, to achieve perfection, our love for Krishna has to become far greater than anything else?even family, social acceptance, or reputation. We are not required to renounce these things for Krishna’s service, but the love of those who hanker for the highest devotion is often tested. Tests help gauge our position and push us to new heights in realization, so it is not unheard of for devotees to face difficult tests, especially for those who yearn for the highest excellence of love. And certainly in the penultimate stage of perfection, where our devotion has carried us to birth in Krishna’s pastimes in Gokula Vrindaban but not yet to His direct association, when the sound of Krishna’s flute calls us for that transcendent perfection, we will have to shun society, friendship, and familial love. A sincere devotee questions his heart:”How much am I anchored by my attachments? Am I moving toward the goal?
Dhanurdhara Swami February 10th, 2002
Bhagavatam Meditations III
“If Krishna leaves,” the gopis accuse, “He will be responsible for making us blind, because the only purpose of these eyes is to see Him.”
Throughout the Bhagavatam we see this theme. If the senses are not used for serving God, they are useless?even harmful.
What is the purpose of my eyes? I cannot see Krishna, but my world is not blind or vacant in His absence. Rather, I am happy to see so many sights for my own selfish pleasure. How far I am from perfection.
Dhanurdhara Swami February 9th, 2002
Bhagavatam Meditations II
Ironically, just as the devotees on tour were leaving Vrindaban, I started lecturing on Akrura’s arrival in Vrindaban. The mood of Akrura entering Vrindaban outlines the proper consciousness of entering the dhama: an anticipation of meeting Krishna, a feeling of unworthiness to do so, and finally, an appreciation
of the Lord’s causeless mercy in allowing one to enter.
Dhanurdhara Swami February 8th, 2002
Bhagavatam Meditations I
Vasant Pancami, the first day of spring in Vrindaban, is at the end of February, but the weather has already warmed up. Vrindaban in the spring creates a sublime atmosphere for speaking the Bhagavat. A small but serious audience has gathered for class as I sit on the large porch outside my room in view of a small lush forest to my right. I close my eyes and bask in the warmth of the direct sun, a day that is thankfully also totally free from the usual periodic intrusion of grossly over-amplified speakers. Mother Kaulini humbly requests to sit on the stoop of the Veranda during class, directly facing the small wooded area. She says she likes the sight of the birds and the view of the brilliant white pinnacle of Srila Prabhupada’s samadhi across the field. Our topic is the Tenth Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam, a subject full of rasa. Rasa is perfectly sweet and intense affection for Sri Krishna. As pure love requires the proper ambiance to mellow, the Lord’s internal potency eternally manifests the charming forest of Vrindaban to nourish Krishna’s loving exchanges with His eternal associates. How can the sentiments of love fully mature in anything but the most delightful setting? That same ground where the Supreme Personality of Godhead grazed His cows is still manifest today to empower His devotees to chant and hear His glories. By the potency and mercy of this ideal place on this ideal day I can thus speak something about the heart-wrenching sentiments of the residents of Vrindaban as Krishna mounts Akrura’s chariot to leave for Mathura. We become engrossed in this wonderful pastime expressing the unparalleled love of the Lord’s topmost devotees; we enjoy this inspiring spring-like day.
Dhanurdhara Swami February 7th, 2002
Writing is based on inspiration. I haven’t felt like there was much to write about in the last week. It’s like having somewhat of a post-tour blues?not a depression, but a writing slump. The tour was quite active, but my regular life here is more retired and studious. It takes time to get meditative and thoughtful in transition from different modes of living. I’ll write everyday anyway. Hopefully, that will energize my more inspired and thoughtful side.
Dhanurdhara Swami February 4th, 2002
Vrindaban – Ekadasi
The last three weeks of our pilgrimage were very purifying, although it seems that the pace of the tour was so rapid there was no time for me to assimilate the experience internally. I finally have time to think about the realizations I’ve gained and how to incorporate them practically into my spiritual life.
Ekadasi is the mother of devotion. I pray to her to give birth to devotion in my heart.
Dhanurdhara Swami February 2nd, 2002
I was concerned that the devotees who remained in Vrindaban after the tour would become laid back and find it troublesome in Vrindaban. My fears are allayed when I see them at my evening class so blissful and alive. Apparently they have heeded my advice to keep up the intensity of the tour by going around Vrindaban every morning on the 11-kilometer parikrama trail. Andrew, who joined the tour just out of high school, excitedly told me that by going on Vrindaban parikrama, something happens everyday to increase his appreciation for Vrndaban. Today at one ancient temple unexpectedly an old sadhu came out of room, smiled at him, and gave him a hot puri filled with melted gur!