Seeing New Vrindaban

by Kaviraja Goswami dasa (from the June 1981 Issue of the Brijabasi Spirit)
        As I walked along, I tried to understand how the woods surrounding me were actually non-different from the forests in which Lord Krishna exhibited His childhood pastimes. I remembered reading in one of Srila Prabhupada’s purports that New Vrindaban, Gokula Vrindaban, and Go-loka Vrindaban were non-different. An older devotee who gave me a ride to the bus depot had the good fortune to be in New Vrindaban when Srila Prabhupada was there. While peacefully sitting in a rocking chair surrounded by his loving disciples, Srila Prabhupada pointed to the ground and said, “This Vrindaban…” at which point he gazed into the sky and pointed up, ” and that Vrindaban are the same.”
           According to Sri Brahma-samhita, Krishna’s abode, Vrindaban, is surrounded by millions of wish-fulfilling trees, and Srila Prabhupada stated that the grass, plants, stones —everything animate or inanimate in Vrindaban is fully conscious. Even though I was able to understand these facts from the intellectual platform, because of my materially contaminated vision, I could not see how this was actually not an ordinary forest I was passing through. To my mundane senses the trees appeared to be like the trees of any other forest that I’ve seen; yet there was a certain unearthly calm permeating the entire atmosphere. Even though I managed to struggle through my avowed sixteen rounds of prayer beads, I felt like chanting more, which is truly unusual for one who has as little appreciation for the nectar of Krishna’s holy names as I. In fact, I felt a sudden urge to sing and dance. The transcendental atmosphere of this holy place was affecting me even though I was unable to fully appreciate its spiritual nature with my mundane senses.
Reflecting upon my walk through the sacred forest of New Vrindaban, I have some slight realization that to be truly able to see New Vrindaban is like being able to see Krishna. I can remember reading an interview with one reporter wherein Srila Prabhupada was asked if he was capable of showing the reporter God. Srila Prabhupada replied that this was indeed possible, “… but first you must have the eyes to see God.” In order to obtain the eyes with which to see Krishna or New Vrindaban, one must first purify his perception from all mundane contamination by the process of devotional service.
        Devotional service is very easily executed by chanting Hare Krishna. Chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra (great chanting for deliverance) is especially recommended by Sri Cai-tanya Mahaprabhu as the means for purification of one’s existence. In His “Sri Siksastakam,” He wrote ceto-darpana-marjanam, by chanting the holy names of God, one very rapidly becomes purified of all material contamination accumulated in many lifetimes. When one achieves the stages of complete purification by following this process, he will be able to see the true nature of New Vrindaban, along with the Lord of New Vrindaban engaged in His transcendental pastimes amongst His eternal associates in the midst of the transcendental forest.
         Lord Jesus stated in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” On the strength of the words of the Supreme Lord, Sri Caitanya and His pure devotees, Jesus Christ and Srila Prabhupada, I am hopeful that if I continue this process of purification, chanting Hare Krishna and taking Krishna prasadam, one day I will be able to see and fully appreciate the real nature of the transcendental forest of New Vrindaban. Actually, if I were truly able to see and appreciate the wonderful, sublime quality of New Vrindaban dhama, having once gone there I would never wish to leave.
          By the causeless mercy of my spiritual master and Krishna, I made a transcendental pilgrimage to the sacred land of New Vrindaban. Although I’ve been involved with ISKCON and devotees for several years, I’ve never had the opportunity to visit the “Spiritual Frontier.”
        Upon arrival, all my preconceived notions about the reputedly austere prasadam (spiritual food) at New Vrindaban were completely shattered as I sat with the devotees taking the noon meal. While devotees sat in rows on the floor, the prasadam was served out by other devotees who brought one huge stainless steel container after another, each holding a different variety of nectarean foodstuff.
        My tongue was overwhelmed with delicious rice, dahl (bean soup), and curd vegetable (with more curd than I had ever seen in one place at a time, what to speak of in one vegetable). There was the best corn bread I ever tasted along with orange-flavored yogurt that slid down my throat like heavenly nectar, cottage cheese (freshly made in New Vrindaban), and bean sprout salad, and best of all, delicious strawberry ice cream, so much that the devotees present (at least one-hundred hardy Brijabasis) were unable to finish it all.
         Although I have a great deficiency of spiritual understanding and possess impure senses, my tongue was capable of appreciating this aspect of New Vrindaban. Unfortunately, due to my lack of spiritual vision, I was unable to appreciate all of the supra-mundane qualities of that transcendental land. In order to fully appreciate New Vrindaban one must have purified senses. Yet I’m confident that if I continue to honor prasadam, I will gradually become purified to the point of appreciating all the many sublime characteristics of New Vrindaban.
       As far as the purificatory quality of prasadam is concerned, it is mentioned in the Vishnu Purana that “Just as Lord Vishnu is spiritual and not subject to mundane transformation, His prasadam is spiritual and un-transformable.” Being of the transcendental nature, prasadam has the same purificatory potency as the Supreme Lord.
        Srila Prabhupada states in his commentary on Sri Isopanisad, that the Lord is described as suddham (antiseptic) and apapa-viddam (prophylactic), or pure and uncontaminated. He is antiseptic in the sense that even an impure thing (such as impure sense perception) can become purified just by touching Him. Prasadam is antiseptic like the Lord. Simply by taking prasadam regularly, one can become purified of all material contamination. Unfortunately, prior to my visit to New Vrindaban, I had been unable to honor enough prasadam to become sufficiently purified to the point of being able to really see New Vrindaban
        In spite of my lack of spiritual purity and subsequent limited appreciation of the transcendental nature of New Vrindaban, I was nonetheless anxious to make some effort to “see” the spiritual qualities of that transcendental land. I received encouragement from more than one devotee to take a walk up the long and winding road to see the old farm where the first devotees of New Vrindaban spent the first hard winter. Despite the threat of rain, I set off down the road through the transcendental forest and up the hill.

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