Sva Niyama Dashakam is Shrila Raghunath Das Goswami’s ten instructions or rules for himself. These instructions form ten main points of focus for devotees wanting to engage themselves in Krishna Bhakti.
In verse 2, Raghunath Goswami pledges his devotion to Braj and his enthusiasm for associating with the residents of Braj. Continuing along this same line, in verse 3, he expresses his determination to stay in Braj:
vrajaṁ saṁtyajyaitad yuga-virahato’pi truṭim api
punar dvārāvatyāṁ yadupatim api prauḍha-vibhavaiḥ
sphurantaṁ tad vācāpi hi nahi calāmīkṣitum api
Even if the greatly opulent Lord of the Yadus (Krishna) should personally invite me to come and see him in Dwarka, I will not leave the land of Vraja, the eternal matchless playground of Radha and Krishna, for even a moment, even if I were to suffer separation from the Divine Couple there for ages!
Stavāmṛta Kaṇā Vyākhyā: In the previous verse, Shri Raghunath Das vows that even if he can associate with saints and see the deities of Krishna in other holy places, he does not desire to leave Vraja. He would rather spend his time in Vraja speaking nonsense with the villagers. Now one may ask: “What if Krishna personally called for Raghunath Das to come to Dwarka, to mitigate the burning pangs of separation from which he is suffering — would he then desire to leave Vraja and go to Dwarka?’ To dispel these doubts Raghunath writes this verse, in which he confirms his loyalty to Vraja.
Shri Raghunath Das says: “What to speak of a short time, even if I suffer the pangs of separation from Krishna for aeons, I will not go to Dwarka, even if the supremely majestic Yadupati (Krishna of Dwarka) should personally call me there to see him!”
When, in his manifest pastimes, Krishna left Vraja to go to Mathura, Nanda and the cowherders did not desire to go there to see him, no matter how much they suffered from his separation, and even though it was only a very short distance (12 kilometers) from Vrindavan to Mathura. The reason is that the love of the Vrajavāsīs is completely sweet. They can only be happy by loving Krishna in the human way of relating: “He is my son, he is my friend, or he is my lover.” They would not be able to see him in that way in Mathura. Their love would shrink back with timidity when they saw him engaged in his royal duties, with all his prowess and opulences.
There’s not a drop of selfish desire left in the love of the Vrajavāsīs. Their minds and hearts are totally absorbed in giving pleasure to Krishna. Krishna would feel embarrassed if he saw them in Mathura, because in this majestic abode he would not be able to carry Nanda Baba’s shoes on his head, anoint his head and other limbs with mother Yashoda’s foot-dust, be defeated by his friends in play, or fall at the feet of his proud, beloved Radha. It would not make him happy to meet them outside of Vraja where the mood is different, therefore, the Vrajavasis, who only care about his happiness, do not desire to go and see Krishna anywhere else. If they should ever meet him elsewhere, they would feel great anguish and say:
tomāra ye anya beśa, anya saṅga anya deśa,
braja-jane kabhu nāhi bhāẏa
braja bhūmi chāḏite nāre, tomā nā dekhile mare,
braja-janera ki habe upāẏa
“The people of Vraja are never attracted to you in another dress, another country and with other associates. We cannot leave Vraja and if we don’t see you we will die. What should the people of Vraja do about this?” (CC 2.13.146)
Hence Sri Raghunath Das says: “Even if I suffer separation from Krishna for ages I will not go to see the vastly opulent Yadupati, even if he himself tells me to do so!”
Shri Raghunath Das is actually Sri Radha’s beloved maid-servant, therefore he never desires to leave Sri Sri Radha Madhava’s many blissful and rasika pastime places in Vraja Dham. Krishna is called Līlā Puruṣottama, the Supreme Person in his playful aspect. The taste of his pastimes can never be fully relished in abodes like Dwarka, because the devotees’ love is hampered by all the majestic glory there. In Vraja, the special quality of Krishna’s pastimes is their sweetness.
kṛṣṇera yateka khelā, sarvottama nara-līlā,
nara-bapu tāhāra svarūpa.
gopa-beśa beṇu-kara, naba kiśora naṭabara,
nara-līlāra hoy anurūpa
“Of all of Krishna’s pastimes, his human-like pastimes, in which he appears as a human being, are the greatest. Then he dresses like a young adolescent cowherdboy, holds a flute in his hand and is adept in dancing, exactly according to human pastimes.” (CC 2.22.109)
The special feature of that best of adolescent dancers, Vraja-nandana, is that he is Eros personified. There’s no comparison to the sweetness of his erotic pastimes with the Vraja-sundaris, who are all endowed with mahā-bhāva. Especially his pastimes with the crown-jewel of Vraja gopis, mahā-bhāvavatī Srimati Radharani, are endowed with endless glory.
Srila Raghunath Das is Shri Radha’s dear maidservant, and he is very happy to take shelter of Radha and Madhava’s transcendental playground of Vraja, where he can remember all their blissful amorous pastimes. When that playground is merciful, the practising devotee will also be able to see the immensely sweet, self-manifest pastimes of Sri Radha and Madhava that always take place there. This is what happened with Sri Lilashuk and other fortunate devotees. The pastimes of Radha and Madhava began to float before their eyes. For this reason, Shri Raghunath Das vows never to leave Vraja and not to go to Dwarka for even a moment, even when he is being called there by Krishna himself. His vow of living in Vraja stands firm.
yugala vilāsa khelā, yathā nitya nava līlā,
sukhamaya śrī vṛndāvana.
vrajadhāma tyāga kore, yete dvārāvatī pure,
ājñā kore madana mohana
“If Madana Mohana orders me to leave Vraja Dham, blissful Sri Vrindavan, the place where the Yugala Kiśora always perform Their pristine pastimes, and to go to Dwarka….
prauḍha vibhava-śālī, yadupati yāre boli,
sei prabhu korite darśana.
lava nimeṣārdha tare, yāibo nā vraja cheḍe,
e saṅkalpa korechi grahaṇa
….even if the very wealthy Yadupati asked me to come and see him I would not leave this Vraja for even a split second. This is my firm vow.”