The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Vrndavana

BY: SUN STAFF - 21.5 2020

In the Groves of Vrndavana

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 178.

Returning our focus to the famous forests of Vrndavana-dhama, we are reminded that it was these twelve divine forests that were the focus of Srila Bhaktivinoda's listing for Vrndavana in the 'Glossary of Places'. He wrote:

"Vrndavana - 'the forest of Vrnda'; the famous place where Sri Krsna enacted many of His enchanting lilas. Vrndavana is situated approximately 12 kilometers northeast of Mathura, along the western bank of the Yamuna river. It is one of the twelve forests of Vraja and within it are twelve smaller forests: Atalavana (mountain forest), Korarivana (osprey forest), Viharavana (pleasure pastime forest), Gocaranavana (cowherding forest), Kaliyadamanavana (subduing Kaliya forest), Gopalavana (the cowherds forest), Nikunjavana (bower forest), Nidhuvana (treasure forest), Radhabaga (Radha's garden), Jhulavana (swing pastime forest), Gahvaravana (secret forest), and Papadavana (forest of harsh mountains)."

There are a few mentions in Jaiva Dharma of the forests of Vrndavana. In chapter thirty-two, our character Vijaya-kumara is turning over in his mind the many instructions received from his spiritual master on the Absolute Truth, including the following:

"Desiring to enjoy the parakiya-rasa, Krsna rejects His own natural self-sufficiency (atmarama-dharma), and enjoys the rasa dance and other wonderful pastimes with His potencies, who are all convinced that they are the wives of others. In all these activities, His flute becomes a dear friend. In this way the parakiya-rasa is eternally perfect in the realm of Goloka. It is for this purpose that the pastime forests of Goloka and Vrndavana exist. Vraja's rasa-mandala, Yamuna shore, Govardhana Hill, and other pastimes places all exist in Goloka also. In this way svakiya rasa and parakiya rasa both exist in Goloka. Pure svakiya rasa is splendidly manifested in Vaikuntha. Svakiya rasa and parakiya rasa, which are simultaneously one and different from each other, are both seen in Goloka. Look. This is very wonderful."

In chapter thirty-three some of the residents of these divine forests are mentioned, in a discussion about the apta-dutis, who are the messenger gopis with very specific types of service to Radha and Krsna. In this case, the class of messenger gopis are known as the vanadevi, or forest goddesses:

"The silpa-karini (artists), daivajna (astrologers), lingini (brahmana girls), paricarika (maidservants), dhatreyi (nursemaids), vanadevi (goddesses of the forest), sakhis (gopi friends), and many others are also counted among the apta-dutis. The silpa-karinis included girls who use their skill at drawing pictures to arrange for the meeting of the lovers. The daivajnas use their knowledge of astrology to arrange the lovers' meeting. The linginis dress in the garments of brahmana ascetics, like Paurnamasi. There are many paricarika messengers, such as Lavanga-manjari and Bhaumati. The dhatreyis are the women who had been nursemaids to Radha and the other gopis. The vanadevi are the goddesses of Vrndavana (forest)."

In chapter thirty-eight, there is a beautiful description of the pastime forests, and the rasalila activities of Sri Sri Radha Krsna there. In this case, what is described are the Divine Couple's pastimes at the end of the night, as told by Sri Vrnda-devi, from Sri Sanat-kumara-samhita 196-201:

"In the middle of beautiful Vrndavana forest, which is decorated with fifty groves, in a grove of kalpa-vrksa trees, in a glittering jewel palace...

...on a graceful be, the sleeping, tightly embracing divine couple were awakened by birds following my command.

Their firm embrace broken, the divine couple became unhappy at the thought of Their impending separation. They had no wish to rise even slightly from Their bed.

Awakened by the cheerful words of many parrots and other birds, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna rose from Their bed.

Seeing that the divine couple had happily risen from bed, the gopis entered and served Them in ways appropriate to that time.

When the female parrots spoke, the divine couple rose from Their bed. Very anxious, They returned to Their homes."

And in the next chapter, thirty-nine, we find this jewel-like passage describing the loving services rendered by the Gopis of Vrndavana:

"Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami studied all the rasa-sastras under Srila Svarupa Damodara Gosvami. Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami has written (Vraja-vilasa-stava, text 38)

"By offering Her betel nuts, by massaging Her feet, by bringing Her water, by arranging for Her secret meeting with Lord Krsna, and by performing many other services, many gopi maidservants affectionately please Sri Radha, the great queen of Vrndavana forest. When the divine couple enjoy the presence of the great gopis for whom Sri Radha is more dear than life. I take shelter of these gopi maidservants, who have Srimati Rupa-manjari as their leader."