ith great amusement Radha and Krishna
pick so many kinds of flowers and fruits
from Vrindavan’s trees and vines, praising the forest.
They bathe and sport in the lakes of Vrindavan
and play with the birds and other creatures there.
Who then would not serve the Vrindavan forest,
and dwell in this supreme, transcendental abode?
citvā puṣpādikam uru-vidhaṁ ślāghamānau juṣāte |
snānādyaṁ yat-sarasi kurutaḥ khelato yat-khagādyair
vṛndāraṇyaṁ carama-paramaṁ tan na seveta ko vā ||2.10||
In my comments to yesterday’s verse, I took a bit of a detour into my investigations of Prabodhananda Saraswati’s identity and his relationship to Hit Harivansh, as well as the problem of the authorship of Radha Rasa Sudha Nidhi.
This is a pretty touchy subject and I would not go into the details of the whole debate. My conclusion in the end was that Prabodhananda had indeed written RRSN, but he gave it to Harivansh in a special mystical way that it indeed became his. Now to say that there was an external influence on Harivansh other than the direct mercy of Srimati Radharani is almost a point of faith amongst the Radha Vallabhi devotees. So I will not enter into that controversy. I would rather say that because it was given to Harivansh in this mystical way, it is indeed his. And the proof of it is that those who have faith in Harivansh have a particular love for this book, and the kind of grace that flows through the disciplic line from Harivansh are the true inheritors of the Sudha Nidhi. Those who wish to understand the mood of the RRSN will have to pass through those for whom this is the Veda itself.
The fact is that Prabodhananda is not a prominent figure in the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. He has no parampara. Up until fairly recently most Gaudiyas did not pay much attention to his works. But I discovered recently that Vrindavana-mahimamrita is also not widely current in the Radha Vallabhi sampradaya. I found this rather curious. It does not seem to have ever been published with a translation by the Radha Vallabhi sampradaya. Harilal Vyasa quotes VMA more than 50 times in his RRSN commentary, so it was certainly known. But the Radha Vallabhis are mostly into their Brijbhasha vani texts. Premananda Baba at Hit Dham is speaking on it.
While reflecting on this verse of VMA, the following verse came to mind from RRSN, which is used by Premananda Baba as his mangalacharan invocation.
rādhā-vihāra-vipine ramatāṁ mano me ||
May my mind take pleasure
in Sri Radha’s forest playground,
which is filled with flower vines
whose twigs have been plucked by Radha’s hands,
whose sweet sites have been trod and marked by Radha’s feet
and where the birds become intoxicated
from singing Radha’s glories.
The idea was that in this forest playground of Vrindavan, Radha and Krishna are intimately sharing their existence with Nature, the spiritual nature. As the next verse of the VMA will show how Radha and Krishna are like the gardeners who take pleasure in seeing the flowered beauty of their garden, who walk through it radiating love and being radiated upon by a Nature that exists only to serve them.
I relished some of the commentaries on this verse, especially that of Swami Hit Das, which I just picked up a couple of days ago at the Hit Satsang Bhoomi. I don’t think that this particular relish that comes through Prabodhananda and Harivansh can be had without fully honoring Harivansh. If one respects Prabodhananda without honoring Harivansh, we have a half-a-hen situation.
A remark on the word seveta. This most interesting word means to “serve”, but serving something differs according to context. I serve a sound by hearing it. Serving a place means to live there. But if we broaden the understanding of the word, it means to enter into a relationship of subservience. To hear a sound I must give my attention to it. This giving of attention is called serving. This is why to listen to someone speaking is a manner of serving that person. To live in the Dham means to serve the Dham. And that service to the Dham will perhaps be elucidated in the next verse.