niṣkiñcanān kṛṣṇa-rase nimagnān
mahā-nirīhān jana-saṅga-bhītān |
yaḥ sevate’sau vaśayet tad-īśau ||
One who serves those who live in Vrindavan who are without possessions, who are immersed in Krishna rasa, who are desireless and fearful of the company of the materialists, giving them food, clothing and other gifts, bring its master and mistress under his control. (1.74)
In the previous verse, Prabodhananda spoke of serving any resident of the Dham and facilitating residence for anyone at any level of spiritual achievement or even sincerity. Here, a Vaishnava resident of the Dham is given particular importance. In the previous verse it was simply stated that one would attain rati or bhāva for Krishna, the lover of Radha. Here it is stated that Radha and Krishna, the Divine Couple, master and mistress of Vrindavan would be brought under control. And why not, Krishna is only accessible to those who possess only him and nothing else.
janmaiśvarya-śruta-śrībhir edhamāna-madaḥ pumān
naivārhaty abhidhātuṁ vai tvām akiñcana-gocaram
The man whose intoxication is constantly increasing because of high birth, wealth, education, or beauty, is incapable of praying to you, of calling out to you with complete sincerity, for you are accessible only to those who have nothing else in this world. (1.8.26)
Prema is defined as a sense of possessiveness that is directed towards God and nothing else.
ananya-mamatā viṣṇau mamatā prema saṅgatā
bhaktir ity ucyate bhīṣma-prahlādoddhava-nāradaiḥ
Devotion (rati) is called prema by great persons like Bhishma, Prahlada, Uddhava and Narada when it is accompanied by feelings of possessiveness towards Vishnu that is devoid of any such feelings towards anything else. (BRS 1.4.2)
So this is the primary qualification of the devotee living in Vrindavan that Prabodhananda suggests we should seek out as an object of service. Naturally, when one has prema, then this means that he is immersed in Krishna rasa. And that is specified as the one wealth that one should seek out. Who is immersed in the ocean of delight that is devotion to the Lord,
kriyatāṁ yadi kuto’pi labhyate |
tatra laulyam api mūlyam ekalaṁ
janma-koṭi-sukṛtair na labhyate ||
O friend, if you should find it anywhere,
that heart absorbed in Krishna rasa so rare,
be quick to buy, how much the soul’s in need!
In that bazaar is posted just one price;
millions of pious works will not suffice,
the cost is to be paid in coins of greed.
(Padyāvalī 14. Also quoted at CC, 2.8.11)
Nirīha means without action or without desire. A devotee on this stage, as we have already seen, is reluctant to engage in ambitious projects because these will result in having to deal with money and materialistic people and distract from his absorption in Hari katha. He would prefer to find close companionship with a few other rasikas and not become distracted by projects that lead away from such absorption. And this is also why he fears the association of mundane persons. In the Gita also, Krishna says that a sign of knowledge is a preference for isolation from the world, vivikta-deśa-sevitvam aratir jana-saṁsadi. Even though it is said that sankirtan, or congregational chanting of the Holy Names, is the yuga-dharma, meaning that association with devotees is more important than isolation, such association should be controlled.
This is particularly so in Vrindavan. In fact, as one progresses in devotional service, it usually becomes more and more difficult to find the companionship of people whose level of understanding is compatible with one’s own. This is why advanced bhajananandis tend to gravitate to holy places like Vrindavan where they know they can find such persons. It is also why Vrindavan is necessary, as a refuge or sanctuary for such persons who can dedicate themselves to the cultivation of the highest reaches of bhakti without distraction and where others can come to find them, like travelers in a desert coming to an oasis. The Dham is the world’s oasis.
So the preservation of the Dham as a human sanctuary, as Sewak Sharanji called it, is an absolute necessity for human civilization. Anyone who serves the elevated and saintly devotees in the Dham will be blessed by the Lord and Lady of the Dham, of this there can be no doubt.
Some may object or fear that there are cheats and charlatans disguising themselves in this way to deceive the pious householders who give in charity. It is no doubt true that the majority of those who dress as saints are not saints all the way through, but in the previous verse it was already stated that even the charlatans in Vrindavan are worthy of charitable service. Better to cast the net too wide than not wide enough, and certainly one should not be driven by envy to exclude anyone.
See previous 1.73.