sukhe vā duḥkhe vā yaśasi bahule’vāpayaśasi |
maṇau vā loṣṭre vā suhṛdi parame vidviṣati vā
samā dṛṣṭir nityaṁ mama bhavatu vṛndāvana-juṣaḥ ||
I pray that as I reside in Vrindavan I may consider with equal vision severe poverty and great wealth, great happiness and intense suffering, great fame and infamy, a jewel and a clod of earth, and my greatest friend and bitterest enemy. (1.56)
After spending three verses in the inner realm of the nitya Vrindavan, Prabodhananda seems to have been brought back to external consciousness and the Vrindavan of the sādhaka-deha. The theme here is similar to that seen in verse 1.30. Since we will have plenty of occasion to discuss the ideas of Krishna as Radha’s “pet deer” or plaything, Vrindavan as “Cupid’s playground,” and Vrindavan as the enkindler of Radha and Krishna’s love for one another as mentioned in the last verse, we will just review some of the basics, as Prabodhananda has done here. It is as if he is saying to his readers, “My friends! First be sure that you have understood and mastered the basics before you pretend to understand what I am saying here.”
The attitudes listed here in this verse echo the Bhagavad-gītā, and why not? The Gita begins with the instruction to transcend duality and to be fixed in the spiritual self.
mātrā-sparśās tu kaunteya śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkhadāḥ |
āgamāpāyino’nityās tāṁs titikṣasva bhārata ||
O son of Kunti! Contact of the bodily senses with their objects causes feelings of heat and cold, pleasure and suffering. They come and go and so you should tolerate them, Bharata. (Gita 2.14)
Krishna goes on to conclude that introductory chapter with a description of the sthita-prajña yogi in samadhi as one who is transcendental to duality and fixed in the Self.
To confirm the importance of this teaching, Krishna begins the chapter on dhyāna yoga by saying,
śītoṣṇa-sukha-duḥkheṣu tathā mānāpamānayoḥ ||
jñāna-vijñāna-tṛptātmā kūṭastho vijitendriyaḥ |
yukta ity ucyate yogī sama-loṣṭāśma-kāñcanaḥ ||
sādhuṣv api ca pāpeṣu sama-buddhir viśiṣyate ||
Samādhi on the Superself is attained by one who has conquered the self and is completely peaceful. One who is self-satisfied by knowledge and realization, is immovable in heat, cold, happiness, distress, as well as in honor and criticism, who sees a clod of earth, iron or gold as equal, is called a yogi who has achieved full connection in yoga. [Of such yogis] one who is equal to friends, companions, enemies, the neutral, the impartial, the hateful, relations, to both saintly and sinners, is most excellent. (6.7-9)
The famous verses at the end of the Twelfth Chapter also confirm the same, with the addition of devotional elements. But the fundamental principle of transcendence to the dualities of the world as characteristic of saintliness is emphasized time and again in the Gita.
The Sixth Chapter differs from the earlier ones in that it describes direct vision (sākṣātkāra) of the Supreme Truth is offered as the result of a direct spiritual practice of interiority. In other words, the more serious our practice, the more these stoical virtues are required.
In the Twelfth Chapter also, these characteristics are given as a kind of prerequisite to gaining God’s pleasure. One needs to become a god to worship God. In order to perfect a sādhanā, one must not allow anything to throw one off course. What does it profit one to be in the worldly Vrindavan if one sees only its worldly aspect due to being buffeted by heat and cold, or happiness and distress, and is impelled by mundane ambitions and distressed by their failures?
Of all these different effects, the most important come from the influence of other people. Even though heat and cold and so on present physical difficulties, we can overcome those with much less difficulty than if we are subjected to public ridicule or criticism. We are most easily influenced by public opinion. The opinions of friends, relatives, enemies, those who are impartial whose judgment we value, saints and sinners, all run interference in the clear perception and response to the inner direction coming from God. There is nothing more difficult than quieting the mind and faithfully engaging in Divine Service.
It is quite arguable that the particular cultural achievements of the Vaishnava world are not the summit of human achievement, in whichever subset one wishes to look–whether it is art, music, drama, literature, science, wealth, social organization or anything else. When one has niṣṭhā, he looks neither left nor right, but follows his heart to the source of all, as revealed by the guru.
mandaṁ bāndhava-sañcayā jaḍa-dhiyaṁ muktādarāḥ sodarāḥ |
unmattaṁ dhanino viveka-caturāḥ kāmaṁ mahā-dāmbhikaṁ
moktuṁ na kṣamate manāg api mano govinda-pāda-spṛhām||
Let the expert ethicist call me a fool — I do not mind.
The Vedic ritualist may say I am in error,
all my friends and relatives may consider me a black sheep,
while my brothers who love liberation call me stupid,
the pursuers of wealth may point me out as mad,
while learned philosophers assert that I am much too proud;
still my mind does not budge an inch
from its determination to serve Govinda’s lotus feet. (Padyāvalī 81)
Living in Vrindavan is the culmination of sādhanā.
See previous 1.55.