There is no difference between the teachings of the Bhāgavata and the philosophy of Braja-vāsa-sādhana. When one lives in Vrindavan or Braj, then one is to see everyone living there as a blessed person and not in terms of their external actions. Though many verses can be cited, let this one from Prabodhananda Saraswati stand out today for those who wish to perfect their Braja-vāsa. May Prabodhananda, the ādi-ācārya of Braja-vāsa-sādhana please bless us and make us worthy of the Dham.
tyajati ya iha bhakto rādhikā-prāṇa-nāthe
na khalu bhavati bandhyā tasya vṛndāvanāśā ||
The hopes for perfecting residence in Vrindavan of one devoted to the beloved of Radhika will never go in vain, if he gives up the attraction to others’ riches, others’ wives, enmity, envy, greed, untruth, cruelty, vengeful against others, and useless conversation. (VMA 17.48)
Let me share with you a bit more of the explanation of two verses that I included in my article about Babaji. Why I respect and love Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji.
Scripture says those who engage in Vaishnava aparādha slowly descend into madness. This is the consequence of Vaishnava aparādha, which by its very nature is in the tamo-guṇa, which means to see the opposite of truth and identifying it as truth. Therefore any defense or glorification of the sādhu will be interpreted as just more reason to criticize.
Just read what Sati says to her own father:
doṣān pareṣāṁ hi guṇeṣu sādhavo
gṛhṇanti kecin na bhavādṛśo dvija |
guṇāṁś ca phalgūn bahulī-kariṣṇavo
mahattamās teṣv avidad bhavān agham ||
Oh Brahmin! Persons like you only find the faults among the virtues of others, but there are others who are not like you. The greatest people magnify the positive side of even insignificant virtues, but you looked at Shiva’s glories and decided they were sins. (4.4.12)
Sridhar Swami says there are four kinds of persons spoken of in this verse:
(1) The envious. These people see fault where others see virtue.
(2) The second are madhyastha, or neutral. They judge on the basis of their intelligence and are able to see good and bad objectively. These people are also called mahat.
(3) The sādhus are mahattarabecause they see the virtues and do not take note of the flaws.
(4) And the mahattamaare those who not only do not take notice of the flaws but magnify even the slightest or most insignificant virtues and glorify them. The word phalgu usually means false, so even the pretense of a good quality is taken as a virtue. Like Krishna who only saw the positive side of Putana, who had disguised herself as a well-wisher even though she had evil intentions.
Jiva Goswami adds that corresponding to the three levels of mahatare the three levels of asat. These are the exact opposites: In the asattamastage, for instance, they take minor flaws and magnify them, ignoring the good. So the implication, Jiva Goswami says, is that Daksha is sarvādhama, the lowest of the low. And so it is with those who follow his way of being.
Sati says, This is the nature of Shiva, this is his greatness. He is even greater than a mahattama, he sees the glories of the Supreme Lord everywhere. But Daksha still found fault with him. And so he invited destruction down on himself.
This is not material destruction, though material destruction and death are also inevitably consequences of Vaishnava aparādha, because it is the greatest door to the tamo-guna.
We see those who engage in Vaishnava ninda, who though living in Vrindavan, are afraid and cowering in their rooms, thinking that at any moment the end will come, just like Kamsa. Why? There is no objective danger, only the paranoia that fills their own heart as a result of their vendetta against a pure soul. Is there any doubt that such people are on the road to spiritual self-destruction, even while residing in Vrindavan and apparently under the shelter of a Mahatma? Is the nature of Braja-vāsa not the celebration of the Divine Couple’s glories in the association of advanced devotees (tad-anurāgi-janānugāmī)? Can there be greater misfortune than to be in the middle of the ocean of nectar and there to drink the bitter neem juice of petty envy?
Vishwanath expands the categories a little further, to eight kinds, four great and four bad individuals, giving examples of each. Here is his taxonomy:
(1) The sādhus or mahats take flaws and see them as virtue: kaṭhora-bhāṣitvaṁ yad apy asya doṣaḥ, tad api hita-kāritvād ayaṁ roga-nivartako nimba-rasa iva guṇa eva. “Even though he speaks roughly, which is a fault, because he is doing it as an act of kindness it is a virtue, just like the bitter neem juice has the virtue of being medicinal.”
(2) The asādhu takes virtues as flaws: asya yat paropakāritvaṁ, tat para-dravya-jighṛkṣayaiveti doṣa evāyam.“All these good deeds he is doing for the benefit of others is simply a way of stealing other people’s goods and thus a fault.
(3) The mahattarais one who ignores the faults altogether and just takes the virtues. vaṇig ayam ātitheyo nistīrṇaḥ. “This businessman who serves his guests is liberated.” Businessmen are always suspected of dishonesty, often for good reason. Here the mahattara does not observe those flaws, but only sees how he takes care of his guests.
Another example: tyakta-parigrahaḥ bhikṣur ayam udara-pūram anna-mātraṁ yathā tathā gṛhṇāti, “This mendicant has given up all possessions and takes only enough food to fill his belly” rather than daridro bahv-āśī, “This poverty-stricken fellow sure is a glutton!”
(4) The asādhutara, more unkind, is one who takes faults and ignores any virtue. bhikṣur ayam udara-pūraṁ snigdhānnaṁ yad atti, tad ayaṁ kāmī bhraṣṭo mantavyaḥ. “This beggar is eating nice foodstuffs to fill his belly, so he must be considered a lusty and fallen individual.” Something like Ramachandra Puri in Caitanya Caritamrita.
(5) The mahattama is the one who magnifies the tiniest virtue. śītārtatvād eva madīya-vastram apaharann api, śastra-pāṇitve’pi dayālutvād eva na hinasti, tad ayaṁ dhanyaḥ. “He has taken my cloth because he is suffering from the cold, but he is very kind, because though he has a weapon, he did not hurt me with it.”
(6) The asādhutamadoes the opposite, magnifying flaws and ignoring virtues. virakto’yaṁ vanam apahāya yad gṛhastha-gṛheṣu vasati, tat pracura-dhanaṁ corayitu-kāmaḥ. “This babaji has left the forest and is living with grihasthas, he no doubt has the intention of stealing a large amount of money.”
(7) Now Vishwanath adds a new category, atimahattama: One who sees virtue even in the total absence of any. jagaty asmin ke’pi duṣṭā na santi, sarva eva sādhavaḥ. “In this world there is no one who is evil. All are good.”
(8) And so we have the atyasādhuttama.This is the nihilist. jagaty asmin ke’pi śiṣṭā na santi, sarva eva duṣṭāḥ. “In this world there is no one who is good. All are evil.” All those who profess religion or purity are hypocrites whose only purpose is to gain power over the gullible and to manipulate them for their own schemes. This is the asura of the Gita’s Chapter 16.
It is of course, those who claim objectivity, or “radical transparency,” or who are just telling it “like it is,” who are the ones who give the most leeway to their own tendencies to magnify the flaws of others and to marginalize the good. They are protecting the gullible they profess self-righteously. That is the way that they come as wolves in sheep’s guise.
Indeed, this is perhaps the nature of the world, but there are reasons why this tendency needs to be disciplined: It is not the Truth of Braj or indeed the world as a whole. From the transcendental perspective of the Uttama Bhāgavata, there is only one, non-dual Truth which we are being trained to see through the sādhana of Braja-vāsa. That is why we are reading these instructions here.
Here is Sati’s second verse, which confirms what we can see before our very eyes happening to those who make enmity of the Vaishnavas the whole of their being.
nāścaryam etad yad asatsu sarvadā
mahad-vinindā kuṇapātma-vādiṣu |
nirasta-tejaḥsu tad eva śobhanam ||
It is not at all astonishing that the wicked (asat) who have accepted the transient material body as the self engage constantly in enviously deriding great souls. Such people are diminished in power by the dust of the feet of great personalities, and that is indeed good and proper. (4.4.13)
This means that the great souls themselves take no action against their detractors, but the dust of their feet, their innate spiritual power and the Supreme Lord’s protection, mean that the consequences of aparadha always befall those who speak calumny of those who are dear to the Lord. Another example is that of Ambarish and Durvasa. Ambarish continued to think of Durvasa as a sage, but the Sudarshan Chakra came to torment Durvasa.
We understand the dust of Vrindavan to be non-different from the dust of the feet of all the great saints who have made their residence here and who are the acharyas of Braja-vāsa-sādhana.
At any rate, we strive to follow in the footsteps of the Mahattamas, Prabodhananda Saraswati and all those whose hearts are devoid of any tendency to blame others (anya-nindādi-śūnya-hṛdaya) and so we look at the actions of those who act against this principle as the grace of the Divine Couple to help us learn the principle of tolerance to all indignities and to help us perfect the anya-nindādi-śūnya-hṛdaya. Instead, we see that they are, though misguided, helping the sincere and pure-hearted devotees to come to know the greatness of pure residents of Vrindavan like Satyanarayana Das Babaji and the that of the original and true Vrindavan Today.
And indeed, the principal lesson we are learning from all this is that freedom from envy (nirmatsarāṇāṁ satām) and faultfinding is the essence of Braja-vāsa–sādhana.
krīḍā-kānana-vāsiṣu sthira-cara-prāṇiṣv api drohiṣu |
pradveṣaṁ paramāparādham ahaho tyaktvetarair apy aghair
yukto’py āmaraṇānta-labdha-vasatir vṛndāvane syāt kṛtī ||
In the madness of love for the dust of the lotus feet of Sri Sri Radha and Madhava, you should give up all hatred for the residents of the Divine Couple’s beloved playground forest, for all its moving and unmoving creatures, even those who are inimical, considering such hatred to be the supreme offense. Then, even if you have committed all other sins, you will be blessed with residence in the Dham until you leave this body. (VMA 17.52)