One Morning a few years ago, well before sunrise, I suddenly had the feeling that I was in the sacred sublime atmosphere of Vrindavan, or at the very minimum, in the personal presence of my spiritual master, Srila Sankarshan Das Adhikari.
Everything I did that morning was done in a very pure way, without any disturbance from body, mind, or external sources. I cannot describe the experience in words fully, and neither do I want to disclose details, because that is not the point of this post.
On that morning however, neither was I in Vrindavan, and nor was I in the personal presence of my divine spiritual master.
So what to make of that wonderful ecstatic feeling I was gifted with?
For those who may not know, Vrindavan is a sacred tract of land, a replica of the highest spiritual realm, mentioned in the scriptures as Goloka. That the Vrindavan in the material realm, in the modern-day district of Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, is confirmed by great saints… for example, Srila A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes:
The Lord descends to this mortal world to show His pastimes in Vṛndāvana, which are full of happiness. When Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa was in Vṛndāvana, His activities with His cowherd boyfriends, with His damsel friends, with the other inhabitants of Vṛndāvana and with the cows were all full of happiness. The total population of Vṛndāvana knew nothing but Kṛṣṇa….
Of course we have a material conception of the sky, and we think of it in relationship to the sun, moon, stars and so on, but in this verse the Lord states that in the eternal sky there is no need for the sun nor for the moon nor electricity or fire of any kind because the spiritual sky is already illuminated by the brahma-jyotir, the rays emanating from the Supreme Lord. We are trying with difficulty to reach other planets, but it is not difficult to understand the abode of the Supreme Lord. This abode is referred to as Goloka. In the Brahma-saṁhitā (5.37) it is beautifully described: goloka eva nivasaty akhilātma-bhūtaḥ. The Lord resides eternally in His abode Goloka, yet He can be approached from this world, and to this end the Lord comes to manifest His real form, sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha. When He manifests this form, there is no need for our imagining what He looks like. To discourage such imaginative speculation, He descends and exhibits Himself as He is, as Śyāmasundara. Unfortunately, the less intelligent deride Him because He comes as one of us and plays with us as a human being. But because of this we should not consider the Lord one of us. It is by His omnipotency that He presents Himself in His real form before us and displays His pastimes, which are replicas of those pastimes found in His abodehttps://vedabase.io/en/library/bg/introduction/
After much reflection, I realized that this meant I was doing something right in my spiritual practice. Actually this meant I was following my spiritual master’s instructions sincerely, even if not perfectly. What I was feeling was the pleasure of my spiritual master, and the grace of Sri Radha Krishna.
Since then, I have regularly tested that internal state to determine what kind of consciousness I am in. For example, whenever I am in material consciousness, even if I am directly in Vrindavan, or in the personal presence of my spiritual master, I feel far far away from that divine spiritual consciousness.
How amazing is that! By being there, doing that, still one can feel so far away, and yet, still, while far far away, one can feel that special feeling?
You can’t go to Vrindavan by buying a ticket to travel to Delhi and then taking a taxi or whatever. You can only enter Vrindavan by the blessings of the pure devotee.His Grace Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari
I have had a chance to test this out on several occasions…
- While in the personal presence of my spiritual master but unfortunately distracted, and
- By physically being in Vrindavan but due my misfortune, in the association of materialistic persons.
Can’t get no Bhaav!His Grace Sriman Vaisesika Das Adhikari
I cannot just go and sit down in Vrindavan, and even if I do, the current external atmosphere of Vrindavan has become so degraded that it is so easy to come under the influence of the many materialistic persons who prowl there in the hope of making money or enjoying personal sense gratification… it takes a lot of intense prayer and mercy to be able to enter into the real mood of Vrindavan.
It is said that the pure devotee, due to their intense Krishna Consciousness, carries Krishna within their heart, and therefore, wherever they go, that place becomes spiritual even if it is the most abominable place.
भवद्विधा भागवतास्तीर्थभूता: स्वयं विभो ।
तीर्थीकुर्वन्ति तीर्थानि स्वान्त:स्थेन गदाभृता ॥ १० ॥
tīrtha-bhūtāḥ svayaṁ vibho
My lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage.https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/1/13/10/
And neither can I always be in the personal presence of my spiritual master, owing to my various responsibilities, which he has instructed me to manage intelligently.
It is further confirmed by Krishna Himself that He lives where His pure devotees are hearing and chanting about Him…
nāhaṁ tiṣṭhāmi vaikuṇṭhe
yogināṁ hṛdayeṣu vā
tatra tiṣṭhāmi nārada
yatra gāyanti mad-bhaktāḥ
“My dear Nārada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuṇṭha, nor do I reside within the hearts of the yogīs, but I reside in that place where My pure devotees chant My holy name and discuss My form, pastimes and qualities.”Padma Purana, quoted in https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/4/30/35/
So therefore, all I have to do is to sincerely remember and follow in the footsteps of my spiritual master, and strive to sincerely hear and chant about Krishna.
Simply by bringing the memory of an instruction received, one can practically bring into one’s heart the presence of the spiritual master.
Even though, due to my past sinful activities, I have to be in a place where almost everyone practices forgetting Krishna, and where speaking nonsense and doing stupid things are the norm… even for such a lowly wretch such as myself, there is hope.
I can still always be in the association of my spiritual master, and in the sacred spiritual realm of Vrindavan. How?
आभीरशुम्भा यवना: खसादय: ।
येऽन्ये च पापा यदपाश्रयाश्रया:
शुध्यन्ति तस्मै प्रभविष्णवे नम: ॥ १८ ॥
ābhīra-śumbhā yavanāḥ khasādayaḥ
ye ’nye ca pāpā yad-apāśrayāśrayāḥ
śudhyanti tasmai prabhaviṣṇave namaḥ
Kirāta, Hūṇa, Āndhra, Pulinda, Pulkaśa, Ābhīra, Śumbha, Yavana, members of the Khasa races and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord, due to His being the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.https://vedabase.io/en/library/sb/2/4/18/
I may be the most lowly wretch, and yet, simply by remembering my spiritual master, by taking shelter of him within my mind, by following his instructions, wherever I am, and whatever I might be doing, I shall be instantly purified.
To do what I can, with what I have, this is what I pray for, birth after birth. For a moment of pleasure for Guru and Krishna, I am prepared to work hard sincerely, lifetime after lifetime. May this ever be.