Tolerating intolerable sufferings,
leaving behind identity with my caste or kin,
and eating that which is spit upon even by outcastes,
but I shall make my residence in Vrindavan.
soḍhvāpi duḥkhāni suduḥsahāni
tyaktvāpy aho jāti-kulādikāni |
bhuktvā śvapākair api thutkṛtāni
vṛndāṭavī-vāsam ahaṁ kariṣye ||2.17||
Here again Prabodhananda is making no differentiation between residing in Vrindavan and renouncing. One who takes sannyas must be ready to suffer because he places himself entirely at the mercy of the Supreme. But the price one must pay for spiritual perfection is complete surrender. To achieve any great thing one must persist despite obstacles, and obstacles to the attainment of the goal are always painful. Yet if the goal is good, and one persists with faith, those sufferings always bear the sweetest fruit. Tapasya means to accept physical hardships because they favor the healthy awareness of the limitations of pleasure possible in this material body, and thus increase detachment from it.
But the real renunciation is even more internal. One must be free from all material ego. The sādhana of Braja-vāsa is a sādhana of identity. It is really “crossing over” from whatever one is not to what one truly is. But that definition of one’s true identity is given by Braj dhāma itself.
In Vrindavan, it is best to be a gopa or a gopi rather than a king or a Vedic brahmin. Even kings and brahmins in Vrindavan secretly harbor the desire to be a gopa or gopi and to live among the cows with Krishna.
The Brijbasi is beyond any pride in external identifications. A Brijbasi is spiritual through and through, so who will differentiate between higher and lower? But to be in the Dham and to reside in the Dham, and to become identified with the Dham, one must there see even the lowest in material terms as imbued with the specific divine characteristics of the Dham.
The word thutkṛtāni means “spit out.” The spitting may have been done just on seeing the food, in other words, such food as even an outcaste or dog-eater would not touch. Or, it could mean his leftovers, the remains of his meal, which are touched with his spittle. In either case, for a caste Hindu to be ready to eat the food that has been touched by an outcaste is a complete repudiation of the caste mentality.
nāhaṁ vipro na ca narapatir nāpi vaiśyo na śūdro
nāhaṁ varṇī na ca gṛhapatir no vanastho yatir vā |
gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ ||74||
I am not a Brahmin, nor am I a Kshatriya,
I am not a Vaishya, nor a Shudra.
I am not a brahmachari, nora householder,
not a retired man nor renunciate monk am I.
But since Lord Krishna, the lover of the gopis,
and the overflowing ocean of nectar
is the onlysource of supreme and immortal joy,
I claim to be a servant to the servant
to the servant of his lotus feet.
(Padyāvali 74, CC 2.13.80)
This is the identity change operation that is the essence of Brajavāsa sādhanā. It is for all intents and purposes impossible to fully achieve outside of Braj. But if one is in the land of Braj and remains attached to caste or national identities, then what greater misfortune could there be? Come to Vrindavan, but come as a Brijbasi, not as an American or a Russian or any other caste identity. That is your real price of entry.