In Vrindaban

by Chakra Pani dasa, from the Sept. 1981 Issue of the Brijabasi Spirit

On July 12th, another phase of Vrindaban history opened. Big Lord Jagannath, feeling grievously homesick, decided to stay in Vrin­daban after the culmination of the usual cold He usually gets at this time of the year. Not having room to sit next to Radha-Vrindaban Candra and Their ecstatic friends on the Bahulaban altar, He has decided to retreat to the ori­ginal Vrindaban forest.

Brijabasis know how to have a festival. Sim­ply come to Vrindaban, and automatically, it is a festival. Kirtananda Swami briefly interrupted the sweaty, ecstatic installation kirtan to explain what glamour this shanty-like farm was for us. Many of the devo­tees there were initiated in the Vrindaban farm scene. Bodies were packed in the temple room like canned peas, and the heat was intense. Kirtananda Maharaja, pointing his finger toward the upper level, declared to Sridhar Maharaj that Prabhupada had spent a month right there, making Vrindaban an extra special place. “When Srila Prabhupada saw that we had cow dung on the kitchen floor, he was very pleased.” Maharaja stated. “He used to take His bath right out there in the meadow. Prabhupada once told us, “A man could go out all day, work hard and come back with ten dol­lars. But if a man simply stays in one place, using his intelligence, he can make one hundred dollars a day.” Similarly, by staying here in one place, living simply and thinking purely, we can make people come to us. There is no need for us to travel far and wide. Now Krishna is giving us so much facility for spreading Krishna con­sciousness with an opulent palace and so much land. If we simply stay in this one place and chant and remember Krishna everything will come.

Most likely, I was not the only person in the room experiencing a dire thirst amid the heat and scarce air. This thirst was satisfied, however by the sweet, cool katha coming from Kirtananda Swami. Also during the heat of the kirtan, considerations of comfort were tran­scended by the “ocean of bliss” we were tapped into.

In Vrindaban, the gopis had Rasa-lila with Krishna. Out of pure affection, without hesi­tation, they sacrificed all mundane consideration to please Krishna. To experience the love they had for Him, Krishna incarnated five hundred years ago with the first amongst the gopis, Radharani, and took the form of Sri Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. In the mood of Radharani, He has shown His most sublime causeless mercy by appearing in this dark age of Kali and inaugurating the Sankirtan movement.

We spread Krishna-lila by dancing, and by the chanting of His holy name: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Although we’ve committed the most abominable activities, in this age we can also enter into the Rasa-lila with Krishna by engaging in the kirtan and giving up sinful dealings. To estab­lish a foundation for His movement, Lord Caitanya excavated the old Vrindaban in India where Krishna originally performed His past-times on this planet. His principle associates de­veloped it as the center for Krishna-bhakti by building wonderful temples and writing liter­ature on Vaisnava behavior.

Now, in the last few decades, Srila Prabhupada with the help of his disciples has expanded this movement around the globe so that not just in India, but everywhere, practically everyone has heard the name of Krishna. He has deputed his disciple, Kirtanananda Swami to establish this New Vrindaban in America so that Westerners will also have a holy place to make pilgrimage and come closer to
Krishna. It is offensive to consider the bound­aries of Vrindaban to be limited. Wherever a sadhu stays and glorifies Krishna, there is where
Krishna is performing His pastimes. Therefore Prabhupada stated that this New Vrindaban is non-different from the old Vrin­daban. In a letter to Kirtananda Maharaja, written during the first years of it’s founding, Prabhu­pada told him that due to his pure devotional service, Krishna had followed him to this place.

It was here, on this remote ridge that New Vrindaban was established. Mountain living was new to the original devotees, who settled here. Being conditioned by years of city con­veniences, all of them left during the winter months, except for Kirtananda Maharaja. Liv­ing for months on only oats and roots he dug from the ground, Kirtananda Maharaja made gar­lands for his deities with colored leaves and berries or whatever he could find. He grad­ually attracted others by his determination. In that same letter, Prabhupada declared, “Just be steady in your deity worship, chant your six­teen rounds early, before you do anything else. Then Krishna will be pleased and He will send others.”

Only a handful of the approximately three hundred and fifty devotees who now reside in New Vrindaban crowded into the small, hot temple room where it all began, but that did not dampen the enthusiasm of the dancing devotees upon the occasion of Lord Jagannath’s reinstallation. Kirtananda Maharaja said, “This farm too will be part of the whole scheme for Krishna-land. Besides Srila Prabhupada’s Palace and Radha-Vrindaban Candra’s new temple, there will be the seven principal temples of Vrindaban built on the farm. Within a one or two mile radius, visitors will be able to do Parikram and see all the principle sites of Vrindaban.”

The original farm has gone through phases since the beginning. To realize the goal of building Krishna Land, it became necessary to central­ize the community’s activities in the less remote location of Bahulaban farm. Vrindaban farm became known as the place of pilgrimage within the place of pilgrimage, because Srila Prabhu­pada had lived there a month, and Kirtananda Maharaja, by his austerities and devotion attracted Krishna to that place.

Krishna’s personal pres­ence can especially be felt by the devotees who lived there or visited the “city.” (Bahu­laban) For five years, until the first grand open­ing festival for the Palace in ’79, it had been the resting place for Radha-Vrindaban Natha and most of the brahmacaris on the farm. Atmabhu Maharaj, who had been the temple president and construction manager extraordinaire for most of this period, said that “without the se­clusion this farm had afforded to us, the Palace would never have been built.” Kirtananda Maharaja says, “Staying in this one place, we shall change the whole world.” Indeed, although one’s re­spective social position may change, the simple brahmacari life which has been exhibited here seems most natural for the soul. If we can duplicate this mode of simple life and high thought as far as possible, then we shall be admitting others into this land of Vrindaban, whose bound­aries are not limited.

Since Krishna never leaves Vrindaban, it is no surprise that Lord Jagannath chooses to appear and reside there. The devotees, in the mood of separation may appear to have lost their sight of Krishna in Vrindaban, but actually, how can we ever take Vrindaban out of our minds.

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