ith their soft flower-petal hands
Sri Radha-Krishna carefully watered the trees and vines
from the time of their first sprouting.
They nourished them and made them grow and,
at the proper time, married each vine to an appropriate tree.
When they saw new flowers beginning to blossom,
they became delighted and spoke many playful joking words.
Let us bow down and offer our respectful obeisances
to these trees and vines of Vrindavan forest.
svena śrīkara-pallavena mṛduṇā śrī-rādhikā-mādhavau |
yān saṁvardhya vihāya navya-kusumādy alokya san-narmabhir
modete sulatā-tarūn ahaha tān vṛndāvanīyān numaḥ ||2.11||
Usually, when I sit down to write about the Vrindavana Mahimamrita, I usually rummage around in my brain for something _like_ that which I may have encountered in my wanderings, limited as they are.
Thinking of Radha and Krishna playing the game of marrying the vines to the trees in a kind of playful marriage of their own, or at least a betrothal, a fidelity to a love that will last forever and a day, reminded me of this verse in Hamsaduta 67:
tvayā yā mākanda-priya-sahacarī-bhāva-niyatim |
iyaṁ sā vāsantī galad-amala-mādhvīka-paṭalī-
miṣād agre gopī-ramaṇa rudatī rodayatī naḥ ||
Do you remember that madhavi sapling
you took from the kadamba grove
and replanted by the mango tree,
as if to make it the mango’s lifelong,
She was only little then, a foot long
with two or three twigs on it at most.
Now she has grown so big;
yet in your absence, she constantly
cries tears of sap, which gush down her side.
Seeing her deplorable condition,
we are also moved to the brink of tears.
It is almost impossible to believe that this powerful mood of separation could have been written in Vrindavan, where the latter, more painful parts of the lila never happen. Krishna never leaves Vrindavan, not even in jest. If he ever appears to leave it is only to lead the ignorant jivas to Vrindavan from wherever they are wandering in this world of repeated birth and death.
There is an oft-told story of Raghunath Das experiencing so much pain at hearing about the departure of Krishna from Vrindavan described in Lalita Madhava that he was wasting away, terribly absorbed in Radha’s apparent suicide at the end of the third act. And then the teleroman style misadventures that ultimately take everyone to samriddhiman sambhoga and back to the eternal beginning in Vrindavan.
But Raghunath Das got so absorbed in this most spiritually painful scene in all the Vaishnava literature — that of the loss of God Himself, God as Lover. What he thought we do not really know. But it is said that Rupa Goswami wrote the Dana-keli-kaumudi to change his mood, and that from then on, Raghunath thought happy thoughts about the nitya-vihara, and himself wrote clever comedies on the dana lila, and the pearl growing adventure.
I think that this is truer of the mood of bhajan in Vrindavan. This is a land of joy, where the trees and vines were grown by the Divine Couple Gardeners, whose magical garden is a manifestation of their love, a garden for their love to play in, the extension of and environment for their divine loves. The nitya-vihara means that it never ends. There is no need for it to end, nor does anyone who has known it ever desire for it to end.
So I bow down
to the trees and vines of Vrindavan;
may there be many more of them.
And may they become peaceful tapovanas;
may there be more ashrams,
more human sanctuaries,
where purity of life
and environment will line the path
of inner peace and love.