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20. VRAJA BHAVA
Devotee: I was recently invited to a program where it was said that the program would be in the mood of vraja-bhava, so I was wondering how special is vraja-bhava and how does one actually attain it? When I went to the program there were various Hindi bkajanas that I had never heard before and also some bhajanas of Mirabai.Narasingha Maharaja: What many western devotees call vraja-bhava is available in any village kitchen in Uttar Pradesh, India. There are so many songs sung by the village people in and around Vrndavana, but those are not the standard songs of pure devotion, particularly the songs of Mirabai. The pure dcarya never recommends his disciples to sing such songs.Mirabai has been rejected by the Gaudiya sampraddya as a pseudo-vaisnava. There are some people who say that Mirabai was a 'half disciple' of Srila Jiva GosvamI, but this is a concoction. Some also say that simply by placing her hands over the eyes of the Rana of Mewar that he obtained krishna darsana. Also some devotees say that Mirabai merged into the Deity of krishna in Dvaraka and never came out again. But these are simply stories with no ontological backing, which are rejected by the Suddha-bhakti school.Mirabai is not accepted as a suddha-vaisnava by the followers of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta SarasvatI Thakura. Therefore the followers of Bhaktivinoda and SarasvatI Thakura never teach their disciples to sing the bhajanas of Mirabai. To teach one's disciple to sing the bhajanas of Mirabai is tantamount to putting kerosene in the mouth of that disciple only a bad taste of bhakti will be experienced Our Guru Maharaja, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada sometimes said regarding Mirabai, "I have no objection to her songs." However Mlrabai's songs were never established as standard bhajanas in his mission. As far as the common person is concerned he had no objection. If a common person sings the songs of Mirabai there may be some namabhasa for that person. But for suddha-bhakti he has never recommended the bhajanas of Mirabai. Mirabai is not in the Suddha'bhakti school, what to speak of the raganuga, rupanuga, or the rasika school. Mirabai is rejected by the Gaudlya sampraddya as a bahiranga-bhakta, an external devotee.Srila B. R. Srldhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja comments as follows:"Our Guru Maharaja announced, 'We are suddha-s'akta.' We are worshippers of the potency, not this mundane potency, but the potency wholesale dedicated to the possessor of the potency. Without retaining Her individual independence, cent-per-cent dependent such potency very very rarely can be conceived. 'Direct approaches to Me, that is not proper;' but approaching through proper channel, through the devotees, that is proper approach.
That is real approach; so Gaudlya Matha eliminates Mirabai and so many other apparent devotees, to be real devotees, because they are mad in praise of krishna, but not so much for the devotees of krishna." (Feb. 15, 1982, Sri Caitanya Sarasvata Matha, Navadvlpa-dhama)As regards real vraja-bhava, krishna says in Bhagavad-gita (18.66), sarva-dharmdn parityaja mam ekam saranam vraja "Give up all your duties and come to Me. And your present duties good or bad, whatever you can conceive from your present position give up everything and come straight to Me. I'm everything to you."Here the word vraja is used by krishna to indicate Vrndavana, the Lord's own abode. In Vrndavana all the inhabitants are absorbed in the sweet mellows of spontaneous love of God. In a word, they are absorbed in vraja-bhava, the mellows of loving devotion, found only in Vrndavana. So the fundamental principle of vraja-bhava is surrender. First surrender to krishna. There must be complete surrender to krishna, otherwise vraja-bhava will not manifest. Surrender means that we have given up all our tendencies to consume (enjoy). The attempt to> assert one's self upon others must also be abandoned. This is real humility. In material life we want to assert ourselves over others; and take everything for our own enjoyment. But vraja-bhava is j ust the opposite.Neophytes, who have no real understanding of vraja-bhava, sometimes may advertise their program as being rasika or as being in the mood of vraja-bhava. Yet these persons have little or no real understanding of the exalted nature of the love of the inhabitants of Vrndavana, nor do they have a clear conception of the path of attainment, even though they may claim to be following a rasikdcdrya.In fact, we see that their vraja'bhdva is only exhibited on Sundays, while the rest of the week they are absorbed in ordinary mundane activities. Those devotees who are actually tasting vraja'bhdva cannot tolerate even for a second to engage in ordinary financial dealings simply for the purpose of extending their material facilities.Those who actually relish real vraja-bhdva embrace a life of renunciation (sannyasa) and reject those things that are unfavorable for devotional service (prdtikula). In this regard Srila Sarasvati Thakura has said:
'aharri'mama' bhava-sattve noma kabhu haya na
bhoga-buddhi na chadile aprakrta haya na
"The Holy Name is never revealed to one who is situated in the bodily concept of life and thinks in terms of T and 'mine.' If one doesn't reject the enjoying mentality, the transcendental platform will never be attained." (Prakrta-rasa Sata-dusini 4)
anarthake 'artha' boli' ku'pathete laya na
"One should never mistakenly call material obstacles 'useful for devotional service,' thereby following the wrong path." (Prakrta-rasa Sata'dusini 35)In his Anubhdsya to verse 28 of the last chapter of Caitanya-caritdmrta (Sri Gaudiya Matha edition) Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura has also written as follows:"Those who are barren of the treasure of prema, propelled by duplicity, declare to the whole world their false attainment of prema, although in reality, by an external display of prema or by announcing it to one and all, it is positively impossible for such hypocrite destitutes who are deprived of the wealth of krishna'prema to ever attain it. To make their great fortune known to everybody, adepts of prdkrta'Sahajiyaism often expose to each other insincere external symptoms of prema (such as shedding of tears). Rather than calling such hypocrite sahajiyds as premika, real inddha-bhaktas go as far as to completely reject their association, knowing it to destroy bhakti. Suddha-bhaktas never teach one to designate such persons as 'bhaktas,' thus equaling them with suddha-bhaktas. At the rise of genuine prema, the jiva hides her own glory and strives for krishna-bhajana.""The hypocrite prdkrta'Sahajiyd party in their greed for wealth, women and fame Q<anaka--kdmini'pratistha) offend iuddha-bhaktas by labeling them as darianik pandita' (great philosophers), tattva-vit (ontology experts),or stiksma'darSi (acute observers),and in turn they adorn themselves with the tides rasika, hajandnani, bhdgavatottama (uttama'bhdgavata), Uld-rasa'panonmatta (intoxicated by drinking sweet mellows of lila),rdgdnugiya'Sdjdhakdgraganya (the foremost aspirants on the path of rdgdnugd'bhakttj,rasajna (the nowers of rasa), rasika'Cuddmani (unsurpassed rasikas) etc."
"Having contaminated bhajana'prandli with the waves of their own materialistic emotions, they become attached to abominable practices; what they actually adore in themselves is pseudo-vaisnavism. These kinds of preachers go to describe aprakrta-rasa, making their respective mundane emotions a part and parcel of krishna-sevd. Unaware of aprakrta vipralambhci'rasa, they take prdkrta'Sambhoga, which in essence is a perverted reflection of rasa (yirasa), as actual rasa."Those who have prema never boast of their love for krishna because the nature of pure love for krishna is that one who has it feels that he doesn't have even a drop of it. Those who say they have prema, who say they are rasika, and who claim to be the distributors of vraja'bhava are basically cheaters. They have cheated themselves, and they are cheating others. They have deviated from the path of our acdryas.Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura in the introduction to the 4th verse of Siksastaka in his Amrta'pravdha-bhasya of Caitanya'caritdmrta states:
premera svabhdva - yaha premera sambandha
sei mane - krsne mora nahi bhakti'gandha
"The nature of prema is such that one who has got real connection with prema will think with dainya (humility)'I possess not even a trace of bhakti.'"The so-called preachers of 'vraja-bhdva! are always outraged when we speak on such topics according to the standard of our dcdrya Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura. The pseudo'Vaisnava says that the jungle (aranya) is cut and now it is time to preach rasalil throughout the world. But such foolish persons do not realize that they are actually living in the jungle and the weeds of misconception have overgrown their creeper of devotion.When challenged about their false conceptions, the so-called preachers of 'vraja-rasa' become angry and say that their tears are the proof that they are absorbed in prema. Yet these so-called rasika and prema'bhaktas do not show us that they actually possess any of the other qualities of pure devotion, such as dainya (humility), etc. They only make a show of tears.
In this regard, the Guardian of Devotion, Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja, has explained,"By practicing, one can acquire that mental condition of shedding tears, and one can show many feats as though he were a real devotee. Merely the display of some peculiar external characteristics does not prove the presence of pure devotion. Real devotion is 'sudurlabha' a very, very rare achievement."Pure devotion is such a rare commodity that it can hardly be attained by one days devotion per week, especially when that devotion is adulterated with the enjoying spirit and other such gross anarthas.Those who are bona-fide preachers of the religion of divine love, as inaugurated by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, do not engage in rasa-vicara (discussion of rasa) in public. The bona-fide preacher always preaches ndma'pracdra, the glories of the Holy Name.This was emphatically stated by His Divine Grace, Srila B. P. Purl Gosvami Maharaja:
"In your foreign countries there has appeared a party of prdkrta-sahajiydism. And it is not a matter of inventing something what they speak is there in I Oth Canto, in the works of the Gosvamis, Srila Visvanatha CakravartI Thakura. But the very fact of their speaking such higher topics to unprepared audiences, ignoring the glories of the Holy Name, who is the only real path to this higher hid, is ndma'aparddha. Mahaprabhu never did like this. He was relishing these topics with a few of His antaranga-bhaktas, and was inspiring masses to perform ndma-sankirtana, and He Himself performed sankirtana with great numbers of people. Pracdra should be ndma-pracdra." (Feb. 7, 1996, Sridhama Mayapura, Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha)We must be very strict and very, very vigilant about these points. That was the standard of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura and that has been followed by his most stalwart disciples, such as Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada, Srila B. R. Sridhara Deva Gosvami Maharaja, Srila B. P. Puri Gosvami Maharaja. Srila B. D. Madhava Maharaja, Srila B. S. Gosvami Maharaja, Srila B. P. Kesava Maharaja, and all others.In conclusion, vraja-bhdva requires complete surrender at the lotus feet of guru and krishna. It is not a cheap thing! It requires a life of dedication. When one comes in connection with vraja-bhdva he does not go out to conduct business as usual, carrying on life without change, engaging in so many ordinary mundane activities. Vraja-bhdva means 'die to live,' the absolute abnegation of all things mundane, and that is followed by full submission to guru and krishna that is vraja-bhdva. Not simply singing Hindi bhajanas that is only ndmdbhdsa. It is not suddha-ndma or pure devotion.