Vrindavan, 2017.05.07 (VT): With the impending merger of Mathura and Vrindavan into a single entity called “Mathura-Vrindavan”, I have been thinking a lot about how misunderstood Vrindavan has become. Vrindavan has always had a very separate identity from Mathura. Not just in the sense of having a separate border that was recognized even by the Mughals and the British Raj. It’s a separation that goes back to Lord Krishna’s time.
The following commentary by Radhakund Mahant Shri Anant Das Pandit explains the spiritual difference between Mathura, Dwarka and Vrindavan very well. It is based on a verse from Swa Niyam Dashakam by Braj’s great rasik saint Shri Raghunath Das Goswami. Raghunath Das Goswami is one of the founding fathers of the Gaudiya Sampraday, but all the Sampradays who have Radha and Krishna as their main object of worship agree on the absolutely unique nature of Vrindavan.
Swa Niyam Dashakam – Verse 3
Even if the great, opulent Lord of the Yadus (Krishna in Dwarka) were to personally invite me to come and see Him in Dwarka, I will not leave Braj, the eternal and unique playground of Radha and Krishna. No, I will not go there for even a moment, even if I have suffered intense separation from Krishna for ages!
sadā rādhā kṛṣṇocchalad atula khelā sthala yujaṃ
vrajaṃ saṃtyajyaitad yuga virahato’pi truṭim api
punar dvārāvatyāṃ yadupatim api prauḍha vibhavaiḥ
sphurantaṃ tad vācāpi hi nahi calāmīkṣitum api
Stavamrita Kanika Vyakhya: In the previous verse, Shri Raghunath Das Goswami vowed that even if he could have the association of great saints and see beautiful deities of Shri Krishna in other holy places, he does not want to leave Braj (Vrindavan). He would rather spend his time here in Braj chitchatting with the villagers!
Now one may ask: ‘If Shri Krishna were to call for Raghunath Das to come to Dwarka, to take away his pain of separation, would he go then?” To dispel these doubts, Shri Raghunath writes this verse, in which he confirms his loyalty to Braj.
Shri Raghunath says: “What to speak of a short time, even if I suffer in separation from Shri Krishna for ages, I will not go to Dwarka, even if the supremely majestic Yadupati (Krishna of Dwarka) extends his personal invitation.
In His manifest pastimes, when Krishna left Braj to go to Mathura, his father Nand and the other cowherd men did not want to go there to see Him, no matter how much they missed Him, and even though Mathura was only a very short distance away (just seven miles).
The reason is that the love of the Brajwasis is completely sweet. They can only be happy by loving Krishna in their rural, highly personal way. They always feel, ‘He is my son’, ‘He is my friend’, or ‘He is my beloved’. They won’t be able to see Him in that way in Mathura. Seeing them engaged in royal duties as a King would offend their love.
There is not a drop of selfishness in the Brajwasis’ love. Their minds and hearts are totally absorbed in giving happiness to Krishna. Krishna would feel embarrassed to meet His Brajwasis in Mathura, because in this majestic abode (aishwarya dham) He could never place his father’s shoes on His head, rub His head and other limbs with mother Yashoda’s footdust, be defeated by His friends in play, or bow at the feet of His proud Beloved, Radha.
No, he would not be satisfied to meet his Brajwasis outside of Braj. Therefore the Brajwasis, who only care about His happiness, do not desire to go and see Krishna in Mathura or Dwarka. If they ever meet Him elsewhere they feel great anguish and say:
tomar je anya vesh, anya sang anya desh
braja jane kabhu naahi bhaay
braja bhoomi chadite naare, tomaa naa dekhile more
braja janer ki hobe upaay
“This different dress of yours… these different associates and foreign land… we Brajwasis cannot be happy with this.
We can never leave Braj, yet if we don’t see You, we will die. What can be done for us now?”
Hence Shri Raghunath says: “Even if I suffer separation from Sri Krishna for ages I will never go to see the vastly opulent Krishna of Dwarka, even if He Himself calls for me!”
Shri Raghunath Das Goswami is actually Sri Radha’s beloved maidservant. That is why he (she) never desires to leave Sri Radha and Krishna’s blissful and rasik pastime-places in Braj Dham.
Shri Krishna is called Lila Purushottam, the Supreme Lord of Joyful Play. The delightful taste of His pastimes can never be fully relished in places like Dwarka and Mathura, because the devotees’ love is hampered by all the majesty there. In Braj the special quality of Krishna’s pastimes is their extreme sweetness.
krishner jatek khelaa, sarvottam nar-lila
nar-vapu taahaar swaroop
gop-vesh, venu-kar, nav kishor, natavar
nar-lilar hoy anuroop
“Of all of Krishna’s pastimes, the greatest ones are His human-like pastimes, where He is just like a human being. In this lila He dresses like a cowherd boy, holds a flute in His hand, and is a wonderful dancer. These lilas are similar to human life.” […]
When Vrindavan gives its mercy to a devotee, that devotee can see the amazingly sweet pastimes of Shri Radha and Krishna which still take place there. Shri Bilvamangal Thakur and others were blessed in this way. The lilas of Radha and Krishna began to appear before their eyes.
For this reason, Shri Raghunath Das Goswami vows never to leave Braj and go to Dwarka for even a moment, even if he is being called there by Krishna Himself. His vow of living in Braj stands firm.
yugal vilaas khelaa, yathaa nitya nava lelaa,
sukhamaya sri vrindavan
braj dhaam tyaag kare, jete dwaravati pure
agya kore madan mohan
praudha vibhava-shali, jadupati jaare boli
sei prabhu korite darshan
lava nimeshardha tare, jaibo naa braja chede
e sankalpa korechi grahan
“Even if Shri Krishna orders me to leave blissful Vrindavan and go to Dwarka, I will not leave this place for even a split second. This is my firm vow.”