In the Spiritual World of Vṛndāvana

Lord Krishna and the gopis

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It is late at night and I was searching for some late night reading…The Teachings of Lord Caitanya was there on the shelf, so I opened it and began to read the Introduction. The Introduction was originally delivered by Srila Prabhupada as five morning lectures on Caitanya-caritāmṛta before the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, New York City, April 10–14, 1967. This is the conclusion of the Introduction and proved to be a good choice for late night reading and an early morning post.

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī petitions the blessings of Lord Gopīnātha: “May that Gopīnātha, the master of the gopīs, Kṛṣṇa, bless you. May you become blessed by Gopīnātha.” The author of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta prays that just as Kṛṣṇa attracted the gopīs by the sweet sound of His flute, He will also attract the reader’s mind by His transcendental vibration.

…Govinda resides eternally in Vṛndāvana. In the spiritual world of Vṛndāvana the buildings are made of touchstone, the cows are known as surabhi cows, givers of abundant milk, and the trees are known as wish-fulfilling trees, for they yield whatever one desires. In Vṛndāvana, Kṛṣṇa herds the surabhi cows, and He is worshiped by hundreds and thousands of gopīs, cowherd girls, who are all goddesses of fortune. When Kṛṣṇa descends to the material world, this same Vṛndāvana descends, just as an entourage accompanies an important personage. Because when Kṛṣṇa comes His land also comes, Vṛndāvana is not considered to exist in the material world. Therefore devotees take shelter of the Vṛndāvana in India, for it is considered to be a replica of the original Vṛndāvana. Although one may complain that no kalpa-vṛkṣa, wish-fulfilling trees, exist there, when the Gosvāmīs were there, kalpa-vṛkṣa were present. It is not that one can simply go to such a tree and make demands; one must first become a devotee. The Gosvāmīs would live under a tree for one night only, and the trees would satisfy all their desires. For the common man this may all seem very wonderful, but as one makes progress in devotional service, all this can be realized.

Vṛndāvana is actually experienced as it is by persons who have stopped trying to derive pleasure from material enjoyment. “When will my mind become cleansed of all hankering for material enjoyment so I will be able to see Vṛndāvana?” one great devotee asks. The more Kṛṣṇa conscious we become and the more we advance, the more everything is revealed as spiritual. Thus Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī considered Vṛndāvana in India to be as good as the Vṛndāvana in the spiritual sky, and in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta he describes Rādhārāṇī and Kṛṣṇa as seated beneath a wish-fulfilling tree in Vṛndāvana, on a throne decorated with valuable jewels. There Kṛṣṇa’s dear friends, the cowherd boys and the gopīs, serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa by singing, dancing, offering betel nuts and refreshments, and decorating Their Lordships with flowers. Even today in India people decorate thrones and recreate this scene during the month of July. Generally at that time people go to Vṛndāvana to offer their respects to the Deities there.

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī maintains that the Govinda Deity shows us how to serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. The Madana-mohana Deity simply establishes that “I am Your eternal servant.” With Govinda, however, there is actual acceptance of service, and therefore He is called the functional Deity. The Gopīnātha Deity is Kṛṣṇa as master and proprietor of the gopīs. He attracted all the gopīs, or cowherd girls, by the sound of His flute, and when they came, He danced with them. These activities are all described in the Tenth Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. These gopīs were childhood friends of Kṛṣṇa, and they were all married, for in India the girls are married by the age of twelve. The boys, however, are not married before eighteen, so Kṛṣṇa, who was fifteen or sixteen at the time, was not married. Nonetheless, He called these girls from their homes and invited them to dance with Him. That dance is called the rāsa-līlā dance, and it is the most elevated of all the Vṛndāvana pastimes. Kṛṣṇa is therefore called Gopīnātha because He is the beloved master of the gopīs.

Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī petitions the blessings of Lord Gopīnātha: “May that Gopīnātha, the master of the gopīs, Kṛṣṇa, bless you. May you become blessed by Gopīnātha.” The author of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta prays that just as Kṛṣṇa attracted the gopīs by the sweet sound of His flute, He will also attract the reader’s mind by His transcendental vibration.

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