From the Ropes of Restraints to the Ropes of Bonding

I’m tied with the ropes of material nature, so some Krishna Leelas attract me more than others. To those who are completely drowned in His pure love, all His Leelas are ecstatic. Damodar Leela and the Leela when Gopis experience separation from Krishna resonate deep in my heart. Damodar Leela to me is the starting point of our spiritual journeys and the Gopis’ separation’s bliss the ultimate reality of all realities.

Krishna lovingly agrees to get tied up with the rope of Yashoda mai’s love and becomes Damodar. She joins one rope after another but the rope is always two-finger short until Krishna bestows His grace. Krishna can be tied up only on His own will. But His will hinges on intensity of our efforts and sincerity of our refuge in Him. He, the supreme person, wants us to make Him the centre of all our activities. He wants us to serve our hearts to him on the platter of devotion.

Taking complete shelter in Him is the only thing we are born to do. All other karmas are complex algorithms to churn out the three ropes of material nature that keep us imprisoned in the creation of His shadowy energy. The supreme knower Krishna knows that our efforts to drown in pure love can never be complete, but He is attracted by our sincerity. He showers His mercy when the intention behind our efforts is purely to Krishnanize our lives. He likes our intentions to be intensified with the spirit of refuge that only He can offer.

He is hungry for our love, but what are we hungry for? In materially conditional state, we are after artificial love which is heightened from time to time by the abuse of the stuff made of matter, be it
flesh, or flashy things. When life revolves around gross things or subtle enjoyments of ego, a vacuum is born in the heart and makes the heart–which is originally the seat of love–the shallowest place ever possible. This vacuum creates a perverted sense of loneliness, or separation from that which our soul intensely desires to unite with. Unfortunately, we are unable to even acknowledge what that is, rather who that is. This is perverted separation.

Our experience of separation is opposite to the separation that Gopis experience at the night of Rasa dance when the moon of Sharad Poornima glows in the velvet black sky. In their state of separation they are transcendentally knowledgeable about the Absolute Truth. They want to shower their love on Krishna. Their separation from Krishna heightens their love for Him. For them, love means pleasing Krishna. They don’t yearn to receive love by borrowing, begging, or stealing in the perverted sense of the material world. Gopis want to give it to the One from whom the rivers of pure love flow to the all creations temporary or eternal. Srimad Bhagavatam says just like water poured in the roots of a tree nourishes all the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruits of the tree, the pure love of Krishna makes us compassionate to the entire creation because all lives, animate or inanimate exist in Him, and due to Him.

In Gopis’ divine separation nurtures the eternal bliss that all the spiritualists of all the sects are after. Krishna gives Gopis a heightened experience of bliss even in separation. And we, by complicating our lives with temporary and gross love, experience perverted separation even when there is a possibility of momentary happiness. Our feelings of separation; of loneliness drive us to create impersonal lives caged in the virtual realities of gadgets and drowned in the liquor of false concepts of love and truth. Through passionate attachments and dry detachments we try to fill vacuums in our hearts. Both are unnatural to the soul because the eternal nature of the soul is to flower in love of its creator, Krishna. A screw has no value if it’s not serving the purpose it’s designed for. What’s the worth of this tiny soul whose size is 10000th of the tip of hair, if it is not united to its beloved?

To replete gopis with His ecstatic love, He reconfigures the timezone of Vrindavan, so the night of Sharad Poornima becomes equal to a year of Brahmaloka. Krishna can go to any extent to reciprocate pure love of His gopis. Any extent! But we are after flesh and flashy things. We push Krishna outside not only from the center of our lives, but from the circumference, too. So the cause of all causes, Krishna, waits for us to return to Him; to return Home. The unconquerable Krishna lets us use our freewill although He can change our hearts in a moment immeasurable on the scale of any time zone.

Damodar leela urges us to make sincere efforts toward pure love which can be experienced only by being enjoyed by Krishna. The quantum leap from the two-finger short rope to the rope of love—the Rasa of
divine separation– is possible only in this age. All it takes is to absorb ourselves in Krishna through His holy names and by singing His glories. The ropes of material nature begin to burn when we take the first baby step toward Krishna. And then comes the golden rope of love in bounty and following this rope Krishna comes to us.

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My Heart’s Pilgrimage

Until a month ago I had been looking for someone to accompany me to Gokul Vrindavan. A neighbor wished to come along, but the thought of dragging her little children with us discouraged me to plan this pilgrimage with her. My friend Shailesh was also planning a trip to Balaji, Jaipur, and Mathura/Vrindavan, but the plan was nipped in the bud. Another friend told me about a 5-day spiritual retreat which Sri M was conducting in Vrindavan, but the requisite of traveling in a bus and taking a long leave from work deterred me from attending what could have been a soulful trip. Whatever may be the reasons, but Gokul Vrindavan seemed so far away and so inaccessible.

One day I whispered to Lord Krishna that my plans were not succeeding and that only He could make this pilgrimage happen. That was a few weeks ago.

Just a day before Diwali (Nov. 13), my friend Anshu called me and said that they were expecting a friend, an ISKCON devotee, from the US. He was planning to visit them on the Diwali day. So it had occurred to Anshu that why not they drive him down to Vrindavan. She asked me to join, too. Did Krishna plant that idea in her mind? Of course! Who else would?

In less than 24 hours I was going to witness another lila of my friend Krishna. Strange though, but it took me a while to appreciate Krishna’s kindness because I was lost in the practical aspects of this trip: whether I should drive down to Faridabad to Anshu’s place, or hire a cab instead, would it be fine to leave my parents alone on Diwali, and so on. Krishna must be laughing at me. He must be thinking what else He could do for His imperfect devotee if not this: her heart’s pilgrimage on the auspicious day of Diwali–in His favorite month of the year–wasn’t making her dance in joy, but instead, she was absorbed in trivia.

I reached Anshu’s place on the Diwali afternoon. Their Krishna devotee friend, Arvind, arrived about an hour later. I bombarded him with questions about his journey into Krishna consciousness. We began our pilgrimage around 1.45 p.m. and reached Vrindavan in less than two hours. After leaving our baggage in the guest house we went to the ISKCON temple, then to the Banke Bihari mandir.

What transpired at the Banke Bihari mandir was Lord Krishna’s loving and explicit acknowledgment of His love for us. I was trying to make an eye contact with the deity’s silver-black almond-shaped eyes when someone waived at us. The boy asked us to meet the panditji (or maharaj) who was sitting on the bench on the right side of the deity’s platform. We all moved in his direction. He asked us to climb up the platform adjacent to the deity’s altar and seek Banke Bihari’s darshan from as close as possible. When I returned from the platform, I saw a silver coin in Vinod’s hand. (Vinod is Anshu’s husband.) A similar coin was given to Arvind too. What a wonderful gift I thought to myself. A silver coin from the treasury of the Banke Bihari temple. A silver coin with the Lord’s image embossed on it. A silver coin on the evening of Diwali! It’s not the preciousness—which in any case doesn’t amount to much–of the silver coin, but the event, its timing, and the place that make this coin so special – Lord Krishna’s wonderful gift on the night of Diwali! I couldn’t stop thinking if I would be blessed with this gift, too – if I ever did any good deeds … Arvind received Lord’s Diwali blessings because he deserved it through hisbhakti. My friend’s husband deserved it for his kindness and selfless act of driving us to Vrindavan and making all the arrangements for our stay. “Do I deserve it”, “Am I being greedy”, I introspected. I shunned this chain of thought and focused on what the pandiji was saying to Arvind. 3-4 minutes would have passed when the panditji called the same guy who had played our messenger earlier. The boy was asked to bring another coin from the treasury. This one for me.

I should complete the summary of my trip.

After receiving blessings at the Banke Bihari temple, we shopped to our heart’s content. Beads, Tulsinecklaces, incense sticks and so on. Our evening ended with a delicious dinner at Govinda Restaurant in the premises of Akshay Patra Foundation.

No one slept. We celebrated our Diwali night in Vrindavan’s divine lights. We chanted the Hare Krishna maha mantra 108 times to thank Krishna for His love and to offer our love to Him.

At about 4 a.m. we vacated our accommodation and drove down to the ISKCON temple to attend Mangal aarti. This was the second Mangal aarti I attended at ISCKON Vrindavan. The first Mangal aarti (11 years ago) was a cathartic experience, and this one gave me a sense of completion; of arriving Home.

On that morning of Govardhan pooja, which takes place on the next day of Diwali, we drove down to Radhakund via Govardhan hill. The small village where Radha and Shyam (Krishna) kunds are, doesn’t belong to our modern India. This small town has managed to retain its high energy and timelessness due to the mercy of Srimati Radharani. There are no rich people here, but the people of this village seemed to be content with life by the grace of Radha. It’s a space outside the boundaries of time. Several Samkirtan mandalis passed us by. Everyone chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra. Krishna dancing on their tongues, responding with joy to the music of manjires, dholakis and devotional sounds. This is Lord Krishna for us. Full of joy and love for His devotees.

Afterglow of the pilgrimage: Krishna blessed me through the panditji, through the ISKCON devotee (Arvind), and through my friend who made this trip happen. He blessed all of us by writing the script of this short trip: a desire to visit Vrindavan sprouts in my heart, the ISKCON devotee Arvind visits India around the same time, and my friend decides to take him to Vrindavan. Because of my love for Krishna she invites me too. We celebrate our Diwali in Vrindavan and are given a silver coin each as prasadfrom the Banke Bihari temple’s treasury. (Silver coins are gifted on Diwali to close friends and relatives.)

So this was my trip to Gokul Vrindavan. My heart’s pilgrimage will continue until I reach Golok Vrindavan.