andering without cease in the land of Vrindavan,
loudly calling out in ecstasy,
dancing and singing out of love,
rolling on the ground, hairs standing on my body in bliss,
having cut asunder all the knots of material attachment
and having become expert in manifesting the worship of the rasikas,
when will I become the crest jewel of the most fortunate?
naṭan gāyan premṇā pulakita-vapus tatra viluṭhan |
kadāhaṁ dhanyānāṁ mukuṭa-maṇir eṣo’smi bhavitā ||
Bhakti is the path of ecstasy. The greatest good fortune is to attain the goal of prema-bhakti. One who has prema purifies himself and the whole world. No one is more fortunate than the person who has attained the loving service of the Divine Couple in the eternal Vrindavan. This is the truth of the Bhagavatam, where Krishna tells Uddhava,
rudaty abhīkṣṇaṁ hasati kvacic ca
vilajja udgāyati nṛtyate ca
mad-bhakti-yukto bhuvanaṁ punāti
He whose voice is broken with emotion and whose mind melts, who cries constantly and sometimes laughts, who shamelessly sings aloud and dances, such a person endowed with devotion to Me purifies the entire world. (11.14.24)
The nature of the Holy Dham is to incite these moods of ecstasy, primarily through feelings of separation. The Holy Dham reminds one of Krishna, but because of Krishna’s absence, and even because of the perceived defects that manifest in the Dham due to its presence in the material nature, causes the devotee to feel humility due to his own inability to perceive the Lord, even while knowing on faith that He is present. Thus the Holy Dham is most conducive for practicing sādhana-bhakti.
In the Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, Narada tells Gopa Kumar:
tat-tac-chūnyam ivāraṇya- sarid-giry-ādi paśyatām ||
sadā hā-hā-ravākrānta- vadanānāṁ tathā hṛdi |
mahā-santāpa-dagdhānāṁ sva-priyaṁ parimṛgyatām ||
In the Dham, the saintly persons are always overcome by feelings of humility and that leads to prema. This is because they see the forests, rivers and hills as though they were void of Krishna. So they call out, “Alas alas,” and in their hearts also they feel burned by a great fire of separation and so they spend their time searching everywhere for their Beloved. (Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta 2.5.242-243)
The six Goswamis of Vrindavan set the example of this kind of behavior.
premonmāda-vaśād aśeṣa-daśayā grastau pramattau sadā
gāyantau ca kadā harer guṇa-varaḿ bhāvābhibhūtau mudā
vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau
I offer my worship to Rupa and Sanatan, to the two Raghus, Raghunatha Bhatta and Raghunath Das, and to Sri Jiva and Gopala Bhatta, who sometimes on the bank of Radha Kund or on the shores of the Yamuna and sometimes at Vamsivata, in the madness of love would be swallowed up by unlimited different states, intoxicate. And so they would joyfully sing Krishna’s glories, overcome by emotion.
śrī-govardhana-kalpa-pādapa-tale kālindī-vane kutaḥ
ghoṣantāv iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair mahā-vihvalau
vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau
I offer my worship to Rupa and Sanatan, to the two Raghus, Raghunatha Bhatta and Raghunath Das, and to Sri Jiva and Gopala Bhatta, who called out everywhere in the land of Braj, “O goddess of Braj, Radhe! O Lalita! O son of Nanda Maharaja! Where are you all now? Are you just on Govardhan hill, or under the trees on the bank of the Yamuna? Where are you?”
One is reminded of Narottam Das’s prayers for living in Vrindavan as a sādhaka:
āra ki emana daśā haba |
e bhaba saṁsāra tyaji parama ānande maji
āra kabe braja-bhūme yāba ||1||
(1) O Hari Hari ! When will this ever happen? When will I renounce the cycle of material life go to Vrajabhumi, absorbed in the supreme bliss?
se dhūli mākhiba kabe gāẏa |
preme gada gada haiñā rādhā-kṛṣṇa nāma laiñā
kāndiẏā beḏāba ubharāẏa ||2||
(2) When will I see the blissful land of Vrindavan? When will I smear its dust over my body? When will I walk about Vrindavan, loudly singing the names of Radha and Krishna, and crying, my voice choked with ecstatic love.
ḍākiba hā rādhā-nātha bali |
kabe yamunāra tīre paraśa kariba nīre
kabe piba kara-puṭe tuli ||3||
(3) When, in a solitary grove in Vrindavan, will I offer my full obeisances to the Divine Couple? When will I call out: “O Krishna, O lover of Radharani?” When will I touch the Yamuna water while standing on its shore drink some of its water in my cupped hands?
kabe gaḏāgaḏi diba tāẏa |
baṁśībaṭa chāyā pāñā parama ānanda hañā
paḏiẏā rahiba tāra pāẏa ||4||
(4) And when will it happen that I go to the rasa-dance circle and roll about in the dust, overwhelmed with ecstasy? When will I joyfully lie down under the shade of the banyan tree where Krishna played his flute and remain at its feet?
kabe habe rādhā-kuṇḍe bāsa |
bhramite bhramite kabe e deha patana habe
kahe dīna narottama dāsa ||5||
(5) And when will I see Govardhan Hill, my eyes brimming with tears? When will I reside at Radha Kund? When will my body collapse after wandering constantly in the Dham? The lowly Narottam Das speaks in this way.
Although the power of living in the Dham is so great that even a non-devotee will be affected by it, those who live there without doing bhajana, without tasting the nectar of devotion, are truly unfortunate. Kaviraj Goswami writes:
kārāgṛhe kim athavā kanakāsane vā |
aindraṁ bhaje kim athavā narakaṁ bhajāmi
śrī-kṛṣṇa-sevanam ṛte na sukhaṁ kadāpi ||
Whether I reside in Sri Vrindavan or in my own home,
in a prison, or am seated on a golden throne,
whether I have the position of Indra or reside in hell,
there is no happiness for me anywhere but in śrī-kṛṣṇa-bhajana.
As Pandit Ananta Das Babaji Maharaj says, “Residence in Vraja is meant for leading a virtuous life engaged in śrī-govinda-bhajana. Vraja is the most sacred place for performing sādhana-bhajana or tasting vraja-rasa. Truly pitiable are those who, though residing in Vraja, continue their living their lives devoid of bhajana, like worldly-minded people engrossed in the happiness of eating and sleeping. Perhaps for unfortunate persons like them these great words were one day proclaimed from the bower of Vidyāpati, the poet of Mithilā: sindhu nikaṭe yadi kaṇṭha śukhāyaba, ko dūra karaba piyāsā? “If from an ocean of nectar one cannot allay his thirst, then where in the world can that thirst be quenched?”