Monday Morning Greetings 2019 #2 – The Land of Magnanimity

January 14th, 2019

I am making a substantial statement here. For me, there is no question that holy places are, in fact, alive. I am writing this from Śrīdhāma Māyāpur, also known as Audārya-dhāma (the land of magnanimity). That’s quite a personal claim because only people can possess character traits. Anyway, I feel the magnanimity of this place, as do most others who approach this place respectfully. Each holy place has a unique personality that feels so real that, as the saying goes, “one can cut it with a knife”. Some examples to support my assertion:


Years ago while visiting Śrī Śrī Radha Damodara in Vṛndāvana I noticed the Vaiṣṇava scholar Śrī Gopīparāṇadhana Prabhu walking by. After greeting him and requesting him to say a few words to my group, he kindly shared with us a very interesting insight about the correlation between the internal nature of the place we were sitting and its influence externally.


“Radha Damodara is located within the area named Sevā-kuñja, which is not only the site of Krishna’s rāsa-līlā dance, but the kuñja (forest grove) where Krishna offered His sevā (selfless service) to Radha. Historically, therefore, Radha Damodara has always been a place to inspire sevā or selfless service. For example, there were many gosvāmī temples, but it was here, five hundred years ago, that the six Gosvāmīs met daily to discuss and gain inspiration for the sevā of expanding the mission of Śrī Caitanya. Similarly, there were many temples in Vṛndāvana that Śrīla Prabhupāda could have retired to, but it was here, almost sixty years ago, that he resided to plan and gain inspiration for his service of preaching Krishna consciousness in the Western world.” [1]


Yesterday, I went on pilgrimage to Godrumadvīpa, one of nine islands comprising the holy place called Navadvīpa, where each island represents one of the nine practices of devotional service. Godrumadvīpa specifically exemplifies and inspires the practice of kīrtana. It is therefore not a coincidence that five hundred years ago Lord Nityānanda chose Godruma to establish the nāma-hāṭa, his mission to spread the kīrtana of Krishna’s holy name all around West Bengal. It is the same place where, at the end of the Nineteenth Century, the great Vaiṣṇava saint Śrīla Bhaktivinoda did exactly the same. Evidently both understood and felt the particular nature of the place to give inspiration for kīrtana.


Perhaps the most convincing example of the personality of a holy place and its specific influence was the effect of Śrī Vṛndāvana on the visit of my dear elder cousin, Mā Sevā Bhāratī. Mā Sevā Bhāratī? Yes, that’s her name. Forty years ago, my cousin Susan took shelter of the famous yogi, Swami Rāma. Shortly after he left the world, she took sannyāsa from his successor, the great Sanskrit scholar Swami Veda Bhāratī and received the sannyāsa name Mā Sevā Bhāratī. Anyway, to continue my story, although she was residing for many years very high in the Himalayas in a place with no running water, I managed to contact her and convince her to visit me in Vṛndāvana.


Mā Sevā very much enjoyed her stay in Vṛndāvana, which is also known as Mādhurya-dhāma, the place of sweet intimate devotion. While there she even began to seriously chant every day sixteen rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra. I’ll never forget her appreciative inquiry to me one morning, “What is this sweetness here? What is this sweetness here?” In a sense I wasn’t surprised that by the depth of her humility and meditation she began to feel the personality of Mādhurya-dhāma, the land of sweetness.


After a few weeks in Vṛndāvana, I took her to Govardhana, which, according to Vaiṣṇava theology, is even sweeter than Vṛndāvana. After about week of chanting there she again shared her heart with me. I was bit stunned by the depth of her inquiry, “What is this sweetness here? What is this sweetness here? It is even sweeter than Vṛndāvana!” What a powerful confirmation that indeed holy places are alive.


I have a small group with me here. We have a few days left in the land of magnanimity. We have no doubt that the holy name has descended on our tongues far more than any of us deserve. I suppose if Mā Sevā was visiting me here she would be asking, “What is this mercy here? What is this mercy here?”


So fortunate to be in the land of magnanimity.



[1] This is what he said to the best of my remembrance.


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