I have been ordered by the residents of the dhāma to speak about the dhāma. How can I talk about dhāma? I am unable to do this because I do not understand the dhāma. Even Brahma Ji cannot describe the dhāma then how can I possibly do so?
Since there is a formality here in this program I shall try. I will share with you my first lesson when coming to Braja and talk about this incident as it concerns Śri Priya Sharan Das Bābājī for whom you have organized this annual celebration. That day was the point when my relationship with the dhāma began. Bābā (Śri Priya Sharan Das Bābājī) had come to Mān Mandir during a parikrama around Braja.
In those days I, although not knowing much, used to frequently lecture in many places like Jaipur, and Alwar. On one very hectic day, running around in a car, I delivered 33 lectures, and people followed me to the various places till 2am. In the final lecture, I had answered 12 questions in a very authoritative manner, and people listened with great interest. Then came the 13th question; “How can one realize God?” It was a big crowd and suddenly I felt quite awkward. My tongue stumbled and I could not reply, it wasn’t that I felt sick physically. I thought to myself whether I could even answer this question? “Have I personally realized Śrī Ji myself?”
Later, while I was resting, I asked the owner of the house to just to take me back to Braja. I insisted that if he did not, I would immediately walk back myself. He finally agreed and brought me to Barṣāṇā, however there were a lot of followers who wanted my lectures and to keep in contact.
We were busy preparing pamphlets for my discourses when Priya Sharan Das Bābā had come to Mān Mandir on his passage through Braja. He questioned me whether at such a young age, had I actually given up my previous habits of lecturing and intermingling to do bhajan? I appreciated his comment and then started going to his lectures. He then told me, “That since I had left home for Kṛṣṇa, it is better that I take the shelter of the dhāma, and be dependent on the dhāma.” This changed my life. I started reading a lot of scriptures about the dhāma like the Śataks and other texts. From that point I withdrew from all outside connections, affiliations, reading, and writing, with any world outside the dhāma. As a result, I had to face a lot of opposition from my followers.
Today, you are glorifying my guru Mahārāj, the one who taught me about the dhāma so I will speak about the dhāma. This brings back fond memories of him, as he was the one who gave me a great lesson.
Bhagavān’s nāma (names), rupa (form), dhāma (abode), līlā (pastimes), guṇa (attributes) and jana (pure devotees), are all on the same platform. However, it has been declared by rasikās (experts in tasting rāsa) that the most simple and easy way to approach Bhagavān is through the dhāma. Even though the nāma is very easy, it cannot be chanted 24 hours a day as one needs to sleep. It is neither possible to chant harināma during sleep, as the jīva is not situated in such an elevated state, to perpetually meditate on the rupa, or continually glorify the qualities of Bhagavān. Again, it is not feasible to uninterruptedly sing the glorious līlās of the Supreme, and is difficult to have uninterrupted access and serve the jana. Hence, the saints clearly advise that one should take shelter of the dhāma, and be reliant on it. While in dhāma, you are there in all conditions. When you sleep you in the dhāma, when you wake up you still are in the dhāma.
The Śataka-karas have mentioned hundreds of ślokas in this regard. They have gone to the extent of saying;
dūre caitanya-caraṇāḥ kalir āvirabhūn mahān |[/b]
kṛṣṇa-premā kathaṁ prāpyo vinā vṛndāvane ratim ||[/b]4.29||
All the ācāryas have already left. The very air that touched them could deliver a jīva. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrī Vallabhācārya Mahāprabhu, Swami Haridāsaji, Śrī Hitharivanshji Mahārāj, Mahavānikār Hari Vyāsaji are all gone. How can one obtain Kṛṣṇa prema now? The author of the Śataka says that the only available resort now is the Vṛndāvanaraja (dust of Vṛndāvana), the dhāma raja.
Even in the Śiva Upāsanā it is stated: kāśyām maraṇān muktiḥ. If you cannot do much, just go and die in Kāśi.
The same is found in Rāma Upāsanā also.
baṁdauṁ avadha purī ati pāvani
sarajū sari kali kaluṣa nasāvani
These are the bare facts. The glories of the dhāma hold true in all yugas including Kali-yuga and even at the time of the pralaya (devastation). It destroys the vices of Kali-yuga. A visual proof is the number of people visiting the dhāma every year. In one day of Moodia (Guru) purnima in Braja, over 400 thousand people visit Govardhan, according to the newspapers. It is not inaccurate to say that millions visit Govardhan throughout the year. Similarly, millions come to Vṛndāvana, Gokul, Barṣāṇā (during Holi & Rādhāṣṭami), Nandgaon, Dauji, Kamyavan (Kama), and Mathura. Millions upon millions visit the dhāma to reap the benefits of its potencies. This is a practical proof that the dhāma is alleviating the devotees from the vices of Kali yuga. The same holds true for Awadh dhāma also.
pranavauṁ pura nara nāri bahorī
mamatā jinha para prabhu hi nā thorī
One should pay obeisance’s to the people who live in the dhāma. They are the ‘transformed loved ones’ of God just by the virtue of staying in the dhāma.
A very special aspect of the dhāma is that even the most unpardonable/unforgiveable offence turns pardonable by the mercy of the dhāma. For example, a mere rajaka (washerman) had made a great offence towards Bhagavatī Sītā by commenting that Rāmā could not be Rāmā for accepting His wife Sītā Ji back. He was not alone, as he had encouraged an entire community who harbored such feelings. However, all of them were pardoned of their deplorable offence by the mercy of the dhāma, as how a mother pardons the many offences of her child against herself.
siyā niṁdaka agha ogha nasāe
lok visoka banāi basāe
The merciful dhāma destroyed this great wave of transgressions by this group of offenders against Sita Ji, they were pardoned by the dhāma. This is the greatest proof of the unimaginable potencies of the dhāma, as they all remained and lived in the dhāma.
majjahiṁ sajjana vṛṁda bahu pāvana sarajū nīra
japahiṁ rāma dhari dhyāna ura suṁdara syāma sarīra
daras paras majjan aru pānā | hara i pāpa kaha beda purānā
nadī punīta amit mahimā ati | kahi na saka i sāradā bimala mati
Merely by staying in this dhāma, one obtains the Nitya dhāma without even trying for it.
rāma dhāmadā purī suhāvani
loka samasta bidita ati pāvani
cāri khāni jaga jīva apārā
avadha tajeṁ tanu nahiṁ saṁsārā
If one cannot do much, one can at least simply go to the dhāma and die there. The glories of the dhāma are even sung by the Lord Himself. Lord Rāmā glorified Awadh dhāma to his beloved associates when he was returning from Laṅkā. He said that although Vaikuṇṭha is most absolute and is glorified by the Vedas and the Purāṇas, Awadh is far superior even though it is just a puri and appears mundane on bhurloka. The same has also been said about Braja.
aho madhupurī dhanyā vaikuṇṭhaś ca garīyasī
jadyapi sab vaikunth bakhana, veda puran bidit jagu jana
avadhpuri sam priy nahi sou, yah prasang janai kou kou
This concept is beyond the grasp of most to have such śraddhā, and such niṣṭhā. One may be a true scholar or even a truly renounced man, but such niṣṭhā is very difficult to achieve. Lord Rāma himself says that such niṣṭhā can be attained by only a very few.
janmabhoomi mam puri suhavani
uttar disi bah sarju pavni
In this dhāma, the Lord performs unlimited past times; even the līlās of birth are found here which are not present in the nitya līlās.
ja majjan te binhi prayasa, mam samip nar pavhi basa
ati priy mohi ihan ke basi, mam dhamda puri sukh rasi
Merely by staying in the dhāma, one is blessed with affection from the Lord Himself. One becomes His beloved.
One who sees any difference between the Lord and His nāma, His dhāma or dhāmi (God Who performed līlās there), cannot be considered a devotee, no matter what. Even if one is a highly learned scholar it does not make a difference. He is certainly not a devotee.
jā majjan te binahin prayāsa, mam sameep nar pāvahin bāsa
One realizes the Lord just by dint of just living in the dhāma. To bathe and live in the dhāma will bring one to the Lord without effort. This is one of foremost aspects of the dhāma. This has also been declared by the rasikās of Braja and is a universal siddhānta (truth). One achieves perfection in the dhāma. It is a simple solution to realize God. This belief is important when one arrives in the dhāma, and stays in the dhāma. When one has no astha (belief), one still realizes God but the time duration is greatly extended. One surely realizes God, be it this birth or a later one. Even the one without astha shall receive pure satsaṅga some day, though it might be billions of years or kalpas in the future. There are several proofs to this statement and I shall talk about them later. This is important for people like us who are living in the dhāma.
koaoo janam awadh bas joaee, ram parāyan avashya so hoi
I shall narrate to you some stories about the dhāma’s potencies wherein even after many kalpas people have realized God. It is a sure fact that all the dhāma dwellers shall realize God one day, however, time durations may differ. Some day every dhāma-vasi shall have āsthā (faith) in pure satsaṅga and hence shall be able to realize God. There is however, a catch; one needs to maintain faith.
There are several people around who mislead, distract and eventually bring down the āsthā. It is not only gṛhasthas but even sādhus who often bewilder people and make them fall spiritually. I do not say this because I detest anyone. Many people who visit me, often talk about dhāma niṣṭhā (devotion) in a rather undesirable way. They do so as they need to justify their travels outside Braja. I say, if you need to travel outside Braja, do so but do not speak about dhāma niṣṭhā in a poor light. Say, if one has conviction in the nāma and someone else confuses and weakens his faith, it is a nāma aparādha. Similary, in the case with the dhāma, it is people like me who incur dhāma aparādhe. I speak from experience as I have observed many people visiting scholars, even renounced ascetics, commit dhāma aparādha by speaking in an undesirable way. One cannot rebuke them as they have neither inquisitiveness nor eagerness to learn, and will not accept any advice. Such people shall get the dhāma’s mercy at a very later point of time.
avadha prabhāva jāna taba prāni
Why does it take so long to get the dhāma’s mercy? What is it that stops the dhāma from performing its miracle? The answer is;
jaba ura basahiṁ rāma dhanupānī
It shall happen only when you have the lotus feet of the Lord in your heart. (RCM 7.96)
The above few examples have been given from Rāmāyaṇa on purpose. I do not claim to be a scholar on Rāmāyaṇa as I hardly understand it at all. I merely speak from Rāmāyaṇa to establish the fact that dhāma niṣṭhā is a universal truth, be it Awadh, Kāśi or Braja. We shall talk about Braja now.
The same dhāma niṣṭhā has been emphasized for Braja also, that one cannot understand Vṛndāvana’s true svarupa (real form) just because one is staying in the dhāma. One shall understand the glories of the dhāma only when one has Rādhārāṇī’s lotus feet in his heart. As also mentioned earlier about Awadh: jaba ura basahiṁ rāma dhanupānī, Only when the bow wielding Lord Rāma takes a seat in your heart shall you realize the potencies of the dhāma, not before that, ever. Being scholarly does not help at all. Only when one’s istha dhāmi takes seat in one’s heart, can one obtain dhāma niṣṭhā. Prior to this, it’s a vacuum.
People are fond of debating “Is God not all pervading and omni present?” Where is He not? They come up with such ideas and one is forced to remain silent. They say that we are trying to prove that God is not all pervading. All I want to say to them, “Oh dear ones, we absolutely agree that God is all pervading but all we are doing is embracing what has been declared by true saints of the past. If you want to sue me, you would had better sue those maha purushas (saints).”
I am a mere parrot and have memorized these facts by heart and keep repeating them. God, the all pervading is like a tree. It happens that a fruit appears on this tree. You tell me, what is better to eat, the tree or the fruit from the tree? Of course, it is the fruit. I shall explain everything with scriptural evidences. If I eat the fruit, it does not mean that I have denounced the tree or have chopped it down. The relished fruit has appeared from the tree and the fact is that by my eating it, my niṣṭhā for the tree only grows in the process. The one who sees the tree and its fruit as different entities is a deluded person. God, the master of infinite universes stays only in Braja; they say that by saying this we are limiting Him, under stating His glories. They keep coming up with big arguments. Hear this;
bhovan anek roam prati jāsu
yeh mahima kachu bahut nā tāsu
People say that we have reduced the master of infinite universes to just a master of a small place like Awadh. No we did not. One should ask the tree why it bears fruit. Why does tree not turn into a big fruit? Should one eat the whole tree? Should one eat the bark of a mango tree?
soaoo jāne kar phal yeh leela
kahe hi mahamunivar damsheela
It is not that we have reduced God or placed a limitation on Him. We have only portrayed Him as ‘nectar fruit’. This is so as only fruit can bear nectar and not the tree. Hence, one should understand the glories of the dhāma. If one does not understand these glories then he shall not obtain the nectar of the dhāma and is a fool no matter how brilliant a scholar he may be. It is not me saying this, it is Gosvāmī Tulsidasji saying it and if you wish to sue somebody it should be him and not me. Even He put up an admonition as he actually said this principal has been declared by the great saints of the past. You never know when a critic may come up with an undermining detraction. Hence, he said that the true great saints have countered with this concept, that when God becomes a ‘dweller of one place,’ only then does true nectar manifest. It is after understanding these glories can one come to relish the nectar of God.
so mahima khagesh jin jāni
phir yehi charit tin hi rati māni
Oh Garudaji, people who have understood these glories then relish the nectar that follows while (Bābā says) people like me only come up with counter questions, doubts and arguments and also claim to be learned scholars. They, after having understood all the glories, accept the supremacy of the dhāma. It is very difficult to understand this concept.
The same has been said about Braja Vṛndāvana. Let us now talk about Braja now. It is declared by the Rādhā Sudhanidhikar’s that one cannot understand the glories of Braja Vṛndāvana. One can counter claim that he has studied a lot on the subject. But that is not important at all. One can claim to be a complete renounced ascetic. Well, renunciation can go to a choolah (oven). Even a Brahmānandi (a person in a state of Brahman/supreme beatitude) cannot perceive Braja. Radha Sudha Nidhikar states;
brahmānandaika-vādāḥ katicana bhagavad-vandanānanda-mattāḥ
kecid govinda-sakhyādy-anupama-paramānandam anye svadante |
śrī-rādhā-kiṅkarīṇāṁ tv akhila-sukha-camatkāra-sāraika-sīmā
Some in this world are uniquely devoted to the ecstasy of Brahma realization, while others are intoxicated with the joy of glorifying the Personal Lord. Some others relish an incomparable joy in friendship and other moods with Govinda. Those who are the maidservants of Radha, however, from even a single flash of the rays of the jewel toenails of her lotus feet experience the very upper limit of the essence of all wondrous manifestations of bliss.
What to talk about Bābāji, Abāji, even a person who is a brahmanandi cannot realize Braja. What to do? Well, rasikas spell out the way.
yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ
dhyeyaṁ naiva kadāpi yad dhṛdi vinā tasyāḥ kṛpā-sparśataḥ |
yat premāmṛta-sindhu-sāra-rasadaṁ pāpaika-bhājām api
tad vṛndāvana-duṣpraveśa-mahimāścaryaṁ hṛdi sphūrjatu ||266||
May the wondrous glories of Vrindavan,
and understanding of which is so difficult to reach,
which are only completely accessible to the heart
that has become absorbed in service to Radha’s lotus feet,
which can never be meditated upon without the touch of Radharani’s mercy,
and which bestows the flavors of the essence of the ocean of nectar of Prema,
be manifest even to those who are devoted to a sinful life, like me.
The kripa (mercy) of the dhāma has been defined at three levels.
The first are those who can see the dhāma clearly. The divya (divine) Barṣāṇā, divya Vṛndāvana. They see the divya, chinmaya (eternal), manimaya (laden with priceless stones) dhāma. Not all can visualize the true dhāma. It is not for people like me who do not have eyes. So who are the ones who can? They are the ones where yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ exists.
It is when you get kainkarya (affinity) towards the lotus feet of Ladali Ji (Rādhārāṇī), when the concept of I, being the body, goes. When you stop believing that you are a body of 30, 40, 70 years, young or old at age. It is when one stops seeing identities. The belief that I am Gopal das, he is Śyāma das and someone else is Rāma das should not be there. The fact is that only kainkaryas exist and all are sakhīs of Rādhārāṇī. They are the ones who see the dhāma clearly. This has been declared by the rasikās. If you have any doubt then you better keep it to yourself as I have no answers to them. I only speak from the scriptures and nowhere else.
yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ
To understand Śrīmān Vṛndāvana, one needs the complete kripa of Kiśorī Jī (Rādhārāṇī). One understands simply nothing without Rādhārāṇī’s mercy. Only after Her mercy does one see dhāma. This is the first level of the dhāma’s mercy. The same philosophy has been declared earlier in Rāmāyaṇa.
avadha prabhāva jāna taba prānī
jaba ura basahiṁ rāma dhanupānī
One can match both. It is the same principal for the dhāma. The difference that exists does so only in our hearts.
yad rādhā-pada-kiṅkarī-kṛta-hṛdā samyag bhaved gocaraṁ