ive up your false identification
with this extremely wretched material body,
from which arises this horror of samsara.
Meditate on your own body
and everything in Vrindavan as being spiritual.
Millions of horrid calamities may befall you,
but don’t be disturbed by them.
Until all past karma is destroyed,
reside in Vrindavan
then make your Master and Mistress play.
ghorā cintaya cid-ghanaṁ nija-vapuḥ sarvaṁ ca vṛndāvane |
ghorāḥ santu vipatti-koṭaya iha tvaṁ yāhi no vikriyām
ārabdhākṣayam āvasaitad atha tan-nāthau sadā khelaya ||
So in the previous verse Prabodhananda told us that there is no possession in Vrindavan. Everything there belongs to Radha and Krishna and their lila. This is in fact a universal truth, and one who has the inner eye knows it. Nevertheless, it is more true in Vrindavan, because Vrindavan is more aware of it, as a place, than anywhere else.
This is why when Vinode Bihari Baba talks about the “evils” of place, he means that to the extent one is distanced from Braj-Vrindavan, that is how far he is from this particular vision of the Divine Love.
In this verse, Prabodhananda discusses the relation of this material body to the spiritual Dham. What is the nature of bodily consciousness outside Vrindavan, i.e., in non-Vrindavan awareness, and what is the devotee’s relationship with the body in Vrindavan awareness?
This verse uses the word vṛthā-adhyāsa, a futile imposition. The word adhyāsa is of course strongly related to the entire Advaita Vedanta tradition, which Prabodhananda has seen from the inside also.
tasmāt parāṅ paśyati nāntarātman
kaścid dhīraḥ pratyag-ātmānam aikṣad
āvṛtta-cakṣur amṛtatvam icchan
The Self-born Creator pierced holes facing outward [i.e., doors of sense perception in the body]. Therefore all creatures look outward and do not see the Soul within. Desiring immortality, one who is wise turns his eyes inward and sees the indwelling Atman. (Kaṭha Upaniṣad, 2.1.1)
The self-born Lord Brahmā created the senses to perceive external objects and therefore one sees them, but not the indwelling self.
There is something appealing about the idea of a lost paradise, a reality for which we feel an affinity, a nostalgia even though we cannot say where this nostalgia comes from. It is an ideal, an aspiration that seems to be natural to the heart, but which cannot be pinpointed. There is a sense of belonging to something else, higher and more noble than the reality to which we are bound by mortal necessity. Whether that state is Brahman or Vrindavan is almost inconsequential, from the point of view of the material consciousness because in either case it is always a fundamental denial of the ultimacy of the world of external experience, even if that world may be given importance if seen as the means for deliverance.
Living in Vrindavan, however means seeing oneself in another body, in another identity, one that is spiritual. As Krishna says in his last words to Uddhava:
niveditātmā vicikīrṣito me
mayātma-bhūyāya ca kalpate vai
When mortal man gives up all works and completely surrenders himself to me, engaging in activities according to my desire, then attaining immortality by my grace, he becomes equal to me in spiritual quality. (11.29.32; CC 3.4.193)
This verse is interpreted correctly to mean that the body of the initiated devotee who makes the commitment through self-surrender to God that he gives himself over to God’s service, that his body is no longer material. In other words, in order to serve God one must become like a god. One cannot truly serve the Supreme Soul of Vrindavan with a material body. But the body that has been dedicated to service is no longer of this world, but of that one.
Nevertheless, that spiritual body is still external to the one that is internal, which is the essence of one’s identity as a resident of the Divine Vrindavan. So the process of spiritual life as conceived here is to transfer one’s sense of identity from that of this material body, first to identify as a sadhaka in the materially-manifest Vrindavan, and then with the siddha-deha in the eternal Vrindavan.
So if there are tragedies or difficulties, or imperfections of numerous kinds, these are all a part of the external sādhaka-līlā and should be treated according to the direction of Lord Brahma in his stava, as the consequence of previous deeds and impure desires. They are not really karma, since the sādhaka body has been spiritualized, but the purification process is being guided by the spiritual potency.
bhuñjāna evātma-kṛtaṁ vipākam
hṛd-vāg-vapurbhir vidadhan namas te
jīveta yo mukti-pade sa dāya-bhāk
My dear Lord, one who goes through life in the constant expectation of receiving Your causeless mercy, patiently undergoing the reactions to his past deeds, all the while offering You obeisances with his heart, words, and body, is ready to inherit a place amongst the liberated. (10.14.8)
When one arrives at this consciousness and has become fully absorbed in the internal identity as a participant in the Divine Lila, then one makes them play. That is actually what it means to have the internal identity as a creator and participant of the Divine Couple’s infinitely increasing realm of bliss.