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Sva Niyama Dashakam – The ten vows of Shrila Ragunatha Dasa Goswami

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Here we present the second verse of Ragunath Goswami’s Swa Niyam Dashakam (ten rules for governing oneself). In this verse, Ragunath Goswami expresses his love of Braj, together with his determination to remain in Braj and to worship Braj, Brajwasis, Braj’s temples and deities all together.


na cānyatra kṣetre hari-tanu-sanāthe’pi sujanād
rasāsvādaṁ premnā dadhad api vasāmi kṣaṇam api
samaṁ tv etad grāmyāvalibhir abhitanvann api kathāṁ
vidhāsye saṁvāsaṁ vraja-bhuvana eva pratibhavam

I will not live in any other holy place for even a moment, even if there is a deity of Lord Hari there and even if I can lovingly relish transcendental topics of Hari there with great devotees. Instead, I will live in Vraja birth after birth, even if I pass my time speaking nonsense with the ordinary villagers.

Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In this verse, Sri Raghunath Das takes a firm vow always to live in Vraja with great love. One of the five extraordinarily powerful items of sādhana bhakti is living in Vraja, and even a slight performance of any of these items can awaken prema in the offenseless practising devotee’s heart. It is therefore needless to say that a person who is fixed in living in Vraja will easily attain the perfection of prema. Rāgānugā-sādhakas who are fixed in the rasas of Vraja, should always live in Vraja and do bhajan there: kuryād vāsaṁ vraje sadā (BRS). This is one of the most internal items of bhajan.

Undoubtedly, bhāva-bhakti will awaken in the heart of a devotee who is fixed in Vraja, but moreover, even if an offenseless devotee simply touches the land of Vraja, devotion will appear in his heart. This has been loudly proclaimed by the scriptures: parānanda¬mayī siddhir mathurā-sparśa-mātrataḥ. Such extraordinary, inconceivable powers cannot be fathomed by the intelligence.

Raghunath-das-goswami-300x192.jpg← Ragunath Das Goswami who gave up a luxurious lifestyle to eat only remnants of remnants

Even if he can be so fortunate to see the deities of different temples and hear topics of the Lord from the mouths of great devotees there, Sri Raghunath Das does not desire to live in any other holy place, such as Badarikashram, not even for a moment. He desires to stay in Vraja birth after birth, even if he just spends his time speaking nonsense with low-caste villagers there. The purport of this is that in other holy places, the glories of Lord Hari are heard and chanted in a mood of awe and reverence (aiśvarya-jñāna), and this will certainly destroy the sweet mood of a Vraja-bhakta if he goes there. Also the darshan of different deities outside of Vraja will inevitably awaken a feeling of awe and reverence in the heart of a Vraja devotee.

In Bṛhad-bhāgavatāmṛta, Sanatan Goswami describes how Sri Gopa Kumar, who served Krishna in the sweet fraternal rasa in Vraja, went to the holy abodes of Vaikuntha, Ayodhya and Dwaraka and had personal meetings there with Narayan, Ramachandra and Dwarkanath Krishna. Instead of making him happy, these meetings made him very distressed because they filled him with feelings of awe and reverence. Finally, in Sri Uddhava’s house in Dwarka, Narada and Uddhava advised Gopa Kumar to abandon these majestic abodes and go to Vraja Dham, the abode of sweetness. In this connection Narada Muni said:

tat tu laukika-sad-bandhu-buddhyā prema bhayādijam;
vighnaṁ nirasya tad gopa-gopī-dāsyepsayārjayet
tad dhi tat-tad-vraja-krīḍā dhyāna-gāna-pradhānayā;
bhaktyā sampadyate preṣṭha-nāma-saṅkīrtanojjvalam
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
tad vai tasya priya-krīḍā-vana-bhūmau sadā rahaḥ
nivasaṁs tanuyād evaṁ sampadyetācirād dhruvam

“O Gopa Kumar! One who desires to serve the gopīs and gopas of Vraja and to give up obstacles like fear of the Lord takes shelter of Krishna’s lotus feet and lovingly approaches him as a good worldly friend. This devotional practice, which awakens the love of Vraja, mainly consists of singing and meditation, as well as the brilliant practice of nāma sankīrtana. For this devotional practice, devotees exclusively reside in Krishna’s playground Vraja Bhumi, where they swiftly attain the desired Vraja-prema.” (BBhāg. 2.5.217-8, 220)

Just as the exclusive attention and devotion of an ekānta-bhakta for his favorite deity is very lovely and praiseworthy, similarly the exclusive loyalty of such devotees for the playground of their beloved deity is also very lovely and highly favorable for the attainment of their perfection in bhāva.

This exclusive loyalty to one certain deity or holy abode does not mean that the devotee disregards, disrespects or belittles other forms of the Lord, because: ananta rūpe eka rūpa nāhi kono bheda “There are innumerable forms of the Lord, and one form is absolutely non-different from the other.” (CC)

In the same way, devotees do not belittle or disrespect other sacred abodes of the Lord, which are all manifestations of one and the same sandhinī-śakti (the Lord’s existence-potency). Rather, these holy abodes and their presiding deities are very pleased with such exclusive devotees.

In this way, although Sri Raghunath Das may be found discussing all kinds of wordly topics with the Vrajavāsīs, this greatly enhances his own mood of Vraja consciousness. Therefore he vows to live in Radha Madhava’s playground Vraja Dham birth after birth and he has given up the desire to live in other holy places, even if he can see deities of the Lord, associate with great devotees or be engaged in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord with such devotees there.

141027-Parikrama-DayFour42-300x225.jpg← Sanatan Goswami samadhi at Madhan Mohan temple

In Bhakti Ratnakara it is described: “Although Sanatana Gosvami was most renounced, his love for the people of Vraja transcended all his rules of renunciation and out of great love for them he would speak about worldly subjects with them all night. He would inquire about their welfare most affectionately: How many sons and daughters do you have and where are they married? What are their names and how do they live? How much harvest did you collect and how much ploughing have you done? Are you physically well? How do you feel mentally?” The Vrajavasis were all very happy when he asked these things from them and they gradually informed him of everything. If anybody was suffering that would make Sanatan Goswami very unhappy. In this way they passed the whole night, speaking until sunrise.”

vraja chāḍi anya dhāme, rasika bhakata sane,
hari kathā mahotsava hoy
yāhāke bhajanā kori, śrī govinda yadi heri,
tabu mana tathā nāhi dhāya

“Even if I could attend great festivals where rasika bhaktas hold Hari-kathā and even if I could see my worshipable deity Sri Govinda there, I would not leave Vraja to go to any other holy place.”

kintu ei vṛndāvane,itara janera sane,
grāmyālāpa korite korite
janme janme vāsa kori,seho śreyaḥ mane kori,
e lālasā sadā mora cite

“But in this Vrindavan I would even speak all kinds of nonsense with the villagers. I think it would be better if I could live there birth after birth. This desire is always on my mind.”


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