Going to Vrindavana

Oct 4 2023 - Krishna Talk 247

After His sannyāsa function, Mahāprabhu, in trance, began to chant the śloka of the tridaṇḍi bhikṣu from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam-

etāṁ sa āsthāya parātma-niṣṭhām
adhyāsitāṁ pūrvatamair mahadbhiḥ
ahaṁ tariṣyāmi duranta-pāraṁ
tamo mukundāṅghri-niṣevayaiva

“I shall cross over the insurmountable ocean of nescience by being firmly fixed in the service of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. This was approved by the previous ācāryas, who were fixed in firm devotion to the Lord, Paramātmā, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (CC, Madhya, 3.6)

In the Eleventh Canto of the Bhāgavatam, Kṛṣṇa is Himself giving description of a brāhmaṇa, describing how he had to tolerate the torture of the society in different forms, and in the last stage he accepted tridaṇḍa sannyāsa. This is one of the last ślokas in the description, which says that the previous great sages, they have accepted and have shown the path of sannyāsa. “That very form of life I have now accepted. Now leaving everything back, I shall run towards Vṛndāvana, and there, taking the name of Mukunda, Kṛṣṇa, I shall cross over the ocean of nescience, illusion, and misconception. I shall cross over by my tendency to serve Mukunda who is on the other side. Crossing over this māyā I shall reach Vṛndāvana and I shall engage myself in the service of Mukunda.”

In this way, with this śloka, Mahāprabhu suddenly started towards Vṛndāvana from Kaṭwa and entered into the adjacent forest. “Now my duty is to reach Vṛndāvana as soon as possible, and there in some solitary place I shall take my seat and go on chanting and singing the name of Kṛṣṇa.” With this, Mahāprabhu ran towards Vṛndāvana, and entered into the jungle before evening. Nityānanda Prabhu, Candraśekhara Ācārya, Mukunda Datta, and Jagadānanda pursued him. 

Sometimes He is running, sometimes He suddenly falls on the ground and begins to cry “Kṛṣṇa! Kṛṣṇa!” Again getting up He begins to run. Sometimes towards the west, sometimes north, sometimes south, in this way, running hither and thither. Sometimes he ran so swiftly, the devotees could not trace him, especially during the night. Then they’d become disappointed thinking, “Our Prabhu, our Lord and master has left us.” Then suddenly from afar they’d hear a wailing cry “Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa.” Then they’d rush towards that side. Anyhow, after some nursing, Mahaprabhu would again begin running west towards Vṛndāvana. 

Mahāprabhu continued wandering in trance, and taking advantage of His trance, Nityānanda Prabhu somehow cunningly turned Him back towards east. On the third day, in the evening, Nityānanda Prabhu somehow managed to bring Him back through Kalna to Shantipur.

Bhramite pavitra koilo saba rāḍha deśe (Wandering, He purified the whole tract of land known as Rāḍha-deśa — CC, Madhya, 3.5). In such a trance He was moving with no trace of any direction. Sometimes this direction, sometimes that direction, and again this direction. No sense of direction, but simply running saying, “I am going to Vṛndāvana. I am going to Vṛndāvana.” Independent of the space of the material world. 

Where is Vṛndāvana? Narottama Ṭhākura Mahāśaya says, viṣaya chāḍiya kabe śuddha ha’be mana, kabe hama herabo śrī vṛndāvana (When will my mind be purified losing the taste for material enjoyment? When will I roam freely in the land of Vṛndāvana?) What is Vṛndāvana proper? It is a stage of consciousness. In reality, Vṛndāvana, Goloka, are all stages of consciousness. 

All are subjective. The Lord said, “Let there be water,” and there was water, “Let there be earth,” and there was earth, “Let there be light,” and there was light. All came out by His will power, His potency, the sweet will of the Lord. Everything is subjective. If the higher subject wants to make the lower subject see something, like a hypnotiser, he cannot but see that thing. These are things in the material world, but even above the illusory material plane, everything in the plane of reality is also subjective.

When Mahārāja Dakṣa, the father of Satī, performed a great sacrifice, he invited all the gods and other respectable personalities. Śiva was also invited. Everybody offered their due respects to Prajāpati Dakṣa Mahārāja, but Mahādeva did not, although formally, Dakṣa Prajāpati was his father-in-law. Dakṣa was enraged. Later he arranged another bigger sacrifice and invited everyone with the exception of Mahādeva Śiva, in order to insult him. All the world was invited, but only Dakṣa’s youngest daughter Satī and her husband Mahādeva were not. They were exempted. Satī’s heart became very much mortified. She asked her husband Śiva, why did he not show respect to Dakṣa, when formally Dakṣa was his father-in-law. Mahadeva answered that it was not a question of belittling Dakṣa’s position, not a question of insult. But the fact is that my head is always engaged in giving respects to Vāsudeva, and cannot be removed from that position. Who is Vāsudeva? Śiva explains thus —

sattvam viśuddham vasudeva śabditam
yad īyate tatra pumān apāvṛtaḥ
sattve ca tasmin bhagavan vāsudevo
hy adhokṣajo me namasā vidhīyate

“The condition of pure goodness (śuddha-sattva), in which the Supreme Personality of Godhead is revealed without any covering, is called vasudeva. In that pure state, the Supreme Godhead, who is beyond the material senses, and who is known as Vāsudeva, is perceived by my mind.” (Bhag. 4.3.23)

Viśuddha sattva, the pure uncontaminated consciousness, independent of any material touch is known as vasudeva. Vasudeva is also the father of Kṛṣṇa. From him Vāsudeva is coming forth. He (Vasudeva) is the representation of pure consciousness, free from any contamination of matter. In that plane, the supreme person appears as the enjoyer of the whole, and He is called Vāsudeva. Śiva says, “I am always in communion with Him. My head is always engaged there. My attention is always captured by the charm of that Vāsudeva. I am guided by that sentiment. Therefore, I cannot take my head away from there and engage it in some other place. That will be the most difficult thing for me. Not that I insulted your father purposely. But my nature is such.” 

In Bhāgavatam, here we find what vasudeva is. Where is Vṛndāvana, where is Goloka, where is Vaikuṇṭha, that we are to trace by the standard of this understanding. In reality, Mahāprabhu is already in Goloka Vṛndāvana. He is showing us His running in ecstasy, hither and thither. For Him, everywhere there is Vṛndāvana. Later when He meets Advaita Prabhu, Advaitācārya says, tumi yāhān sei vṛndāvana (CC. Madhya, 3.33), “It appears to be a very merry sport that you say that you are going to Vṛndāvana. Wherever you are, there is Vṛndāvana. We see and feel it. Still, it is a very peculiar thing that you say, you are going to Vṛndāvana, only to teach us. This is only your formal expression.” In this way Vṛndāvana is a stage of consciousness. 

Above Vaikuntha, this unique plane of Vṛndāvana, is that of simplicity, with plain dealings of love divine, simple love, plain and humble. The peculiarity is that they do not feel that they are in Vṛndāvana. That is the peculiarity there. It is aprākrta. Knowledge has been classified under five headings. The first is knowledge gathered through the sensory experience of one’s own — pratyakṣa. What I have experienced through my senses. That is the first stage. The next stage is that which I have not experienced by my own senses, but I have gathered from the experiences of others through their sensory experience — parokṣa. For example, the scientists have their experience, and I have gathered knowledge from their discoveries for my use. The third stage is above the stage of human experience, but non-differentiable. Something like deep sleep. When we are awake we say I slept very happily, I slept a sound sleep. When in deep dreamless sleep we can’t assert, but when we wake up we express some sort of hazy experience — aparokṣa. This is where the subject and the material object comes together, and the material object vanishes in the subject. Śaṅkarācārya explains up to this. But Rāmānuja and his Vaiṣṇava followers and other Vaiṣnava ācāryas, they are of opinion that there is a fourth stage after this. That is called the transcendental (adhokṣaja) stage, which exists beyond the scope of the senses, whether gross or subtle. A plane that if by its own sweet will comes down to our gross plane of understanding, only then we can have some experience. If He withdraws it, we are helpless, we can’t find it. We can’t say that it is under our control or within the purview of our own knowledge. It is independent. By its sweet will it may come down to our plane and give some sort of experience. And when it withdraws, we become quite helpless. We may cry, we may pray, but we can’t enter there forcibly by the dint of our power. This is turīya, the fourth plane and this is grand, awe inspiring and very powerful. This is the adhokṣaja Vaikuṇṭha plane. 

Adhokṣaja means a kind of knowledge which is on the surface, and relative to that our sensory experience is underground. If we can pierce through the thick cover which is walling up our experience, then we can come in connection with that plane. That is adhokṣajaadhah-kṛtam akṣajam indriya-jñānam yena — The superior knowledge which has forced down (prevails over) our knowledge of worldly experience. That sort of transcendental, supramental knowledge. That is the fourth class of knowledge. There is something different in every aspect, and nothing similar to this world. 

But through Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and Mahāprabhu we come to know that there is a fifth stage of knowledge, which is very similar to the mundane, but not mundane. That is aprākrta, or according to Bhāgavatam, kevala. It appears to be within this worldly knowledge, but really it is not so. A very peculiar thing. Aprākṛta, which means, not prākṛta, or very similar to prākṛta, the mundane, but actually not mundane. That is the nature of Goloka. Kṛṣṇa, the infinite, is approaching the finite. For the finite He appears as finite, but He is actually infinite. So aprākṛta Vṛndāvana seems finite to us finite beings. But that finite accommodates many infinities within it, such finite — aprākṛta

In other words, the knowledge which gives connection and can harmonize the lowest portion of the illusory world, that is aprākṛta. And this is possible only through love. Only love can compensate for all defects. Just as there is a saying, kāṇā cheleo padmalocana — to the mother, even a blind son appears lotus-eyed. She is blinded by affection. What is mean and low, can only be compensated by love, prema, which shines very beautifully. Through mercy, through pity, through grace, a king can come to play with a boy on the street. Affection can make it possible. The difference between high and low disappears in such a stage. They think they are ordinary. This is jñāna-śūnya bhakti.

(This article is based on a talk given on 14th January 1983, in Śrī Caitanya Sārasvata Maṭha, Navadwīpa, West Bengal, India)