las! How shameful!
Although I yearn exclusively
for the feet of Vrindavan’s Lord and Lady,
although I have heard the speeches
spoken by the greatest saints,
and although I know that everything around me
is an obstacle to attaining the ultimate good,
I still do not take shelter of Sri Vrindavan Dham. (1.99)
mahattamānāṁ śruta-bhāṣito’pi |
vidann api svārtha-vighāti sarvaṁ
hā dhik na vṛndāvanam āśrayāmi ||
Prabodhananda Saraswatipada is now once again talking about the adhikāra for residing in Vrindavan. These are more important than the vairāgya spoken of earlier, even though the spirit of renunciation is present here too. He does this through this dainya-bodhikā vijñapti, or a statement expressing humility and utter dependence on the mercy of the Lord. And that is the point of the verse: despite having all qualifications, without grace of the Dham herself, Vrindavan vāsa is not possible.
And yet, one must be aware of the qualifications that are really needed for true Vrindavan vāsa.
The first is to have the single-pointed exclusive goal and aspiration of attaining the lotus feet of Vrindavan’s Lord and Lady (vṛndāvaneśaika-pada-spṛha).
Here someone may think that because īśa appears to be singular and masculine, it must mean Krishna alone, but in fact in a compound word like this one it can refer to more than one gender and more than one individual. The master of Vrindavan is not Krishna alone, but Radha and Krishna, the Divine Couple.
The Bhagavatam says that one should not renounce material duties until one has faith in the efficacy of hearing about Krishna.
mat-kathā-śravaṇādau vā śraddhā yāvan na jāyate
One should continue to engage in prescribed karma until one has developed detachment from sense pleasure, or until one has awakened faith in hearing narrations about me. [11.20.9]
Faith, which is usually understood in the shastras as a firm belief in the teachings of the scripture or a firm belief that by engaging in devotion to Krishna, all other ends will be accomplished, which is the ultimate teaching of the scripture.
Such faith is of weak, middle or strong types, according to Rupa Goswami, depending on the degree of faith and knowledge. One who possesses the greatest knowledge and the corresponding strength of faith is called the uttama-adhikārī.
prauḍha-śraddho’dhikārī yaḥ sa bhaktāv uttamo mataḥ ||
One who is expert in both the shastra and in logical arguments,
who is entirely convinced of the path, is one with mature faith. He is the best adhikari for the path of devotion. (BRS 1.2.17)
Braja-vāsa is for the uttama-adhikārī because it is meant for one who has come to the conclusion of all the scriptures and has no longer any use for any other spiritual instruction that is other than service to Radha and Krishna.
The faith of the uttama-adhikārī is otherwise called niṣṭhā is really the starting point of bhajan. After anartha-nivritti, when the grosser distractions from bhajan have been removed, then one can understand what is meant by ekāgra-citta, single-pointed determination towards the goal of attaining sevā to the Divine Couple.
And that is to be attained and nourished by hearing from the most advanced rasika devotees. If you know the importance of this, your road to Vrindavan is open. If you can harden your heart, make it harder than a thunderbolt, to all the pulls of this world, recognizing that they are all obstacles attaining complete immersion in the Supreme Lord’s pastimes with the people of Braj.
Yet in spite of having all these qualities, something is holding me back, laments Prabodhananda. Why do I still have this weakness that keeps me from carrying out the wishes of my heart? When will Vrindavan Dham be gracious upon me. In the next verse, he concludes the first century by stating his faith in the compassionate nature of Vrindavan, his mother.