The Holy Places of Jaiva Dharma: Goloka Vrndavana

BY: SUN STAFF - 18.5 2019

A serial presentation of the holy places mentioned in the Jaiva Dharma of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur - Part 56.

In chapter thirty-one of Jaiva Dharma there is an extensive discussion of Goloka Vrndavana, which has the power to manifest itself anywhere the Lord's pastimes unfold, as well as in the hearts of His devotees.


Chapter Thirty-one - Madhura-rasa-vicara

"Vijaya-kumara: What is the position of these two kinds of beloveds in Lord Krsna's unmanifested pastimes?

Gosvami: This is very confidential. You know that Lord Krsna's opulences are four quarters. Three quarters are the spiritual world, and one quarter is the material world. Within that one quarter of the Lord's opulences exist the material universes that have fourteen planetary systems. On the boundary that divides the material and spiritual world flows the Viraja river. On the father shore of the Viraja is the spiritual world. The spiritual world is enclosed by a wall of light called the Brahmajyoti. Beyond that wall may be seen the spiritual sky of Vaikuntha. In Vaikuntha the Lord's opulence is prominent. There Lord Narayanacandra, the king of kings, is served by numberless spiritual opulences. In Vaikuntha the Lord accepts only the svakiya rasa. There Sri, Bhu, Nila and the other wives serve their husband, Lord Narayana. Above Vaikuntha is Goloka. In Vaikuntha the Dvaraka queens serve Krsna according to svakiya rasa. In Goloka the girls of Vraja serve Krsna according to their own rasa.

Vijaya-kumara: If Goloka is Lord Krsna's highest abode, why is Vraja gloried as the most wonderful place?

Gosvami: Vraja, Gokula, Vrndavana, and many other places are all situated within Mathura-mandala. Goloka is the highest abode. When it is manifested within the material world, Goloka is called Mathura-mandala. They are both the highest abode.

Vijaya-kumara: How is that possible? I don't understand.

Gosvami: It is possible by the power of Lord Krsna's inconceivable potency. Lord Krsna's inconceivable potency cannot be understood by material thought process or material logic, the spiritual realm called Goloka comes to the material world and is then called Mathura-mandala. In the Lord's unmanifested pastimes (aprakata-lila) that same world is called Goloka. Lord Krsna's transcendental pastimes are eternal. When one is qualified to see pure spirit, then he can see the world of Goloka. Then he sees that the Gokula present in the material world is the same as Goloka in the spiritual world. However, when a person's intelligence is tortured by material ideas, he cannot see that Goloka is the same as Gokula. He sees that they are different. He sees that Gokula is part of the material world.

Vijaya-kumara: How does one become qualified to see Goloka?

Gosvami: Sri Sukadeva Gosvami explains (Srimad Bhagavatam 10.28.14-15): "

Krsna immediately thought that His devotees in Vrndavana should be informed of the spiritual sky and the Vaikuntha planets therein. Thus Krsna showed them the eternal, ever-existing spiritual sky, which is unlimited and full of knowledge. Information of the spiritual sky can be had only from great sages and saintly persons who have already surpassed the influence of the three material modes of nature."*

Baba, with Krsna's mercy, no one can see Goloka. It was by His mercy that the people of Vraja were able to see Goloka. Goloka is the supreme spiritual abode, far beyond the material world. It contains all wonders. It is eternal and spiritual. It is the home of limitless spiritual pastimes. The spiritual effulgence called Brahmajyoti is the eternal effulgence emanating from Goloka. The devotees who have completely renounced the material world are able to see Goloka as it is.

Vijaya-kumara: Are all liberated souls able to see Goloka?

Gosvami: Among millions and millions of liberated souls it is hard to find a single devotee of the Supreme Lord. Persons who follow the path of astanga yoga or the path of impersonal speculation may attain liberation, but in that kind of liberation they forget their original spiritual identity in the spiritual world of Vraja. Devotees who are attracted by the Supreme Lord's opulences also cannot see the world of Goloka. Following their hearts, they go to Vaikuntha and there they serve the Supreme Lord in His form of opulence and majesty. Among the devotees who worship Krsna according to the rasas of Vraja, only they who by Lord Krsna's mercy are released from Maya's prison are able to see Goloka.

Vijaya-kumara: Well, if one these few liberated souls can see Goloka, then why is Goloka described in Sri Brahma-samhita, Hari-vamsa, Padma Purana and other scriptures? Simply by worshipping Him in Vraja one can easily attain Lord Krsna's mercy. Why, then do all these scriptures describe Goloka?

Gosvami: A rasika devotee who worships Krsna according to the rasas of Vraja Lord Krsna lifts from the material world and places in Goloka. Such a person can see Goloka in full. Among the pure devotees who worship Krsna in Vraja some, very few are able to see Goloka. There are two kinds of devotees: siddha (perfect devotees) and sadhaka (aspiring devotees). The sadhaka devotees are not qualified to see Goloka. The siddha devotees are of two kinds: vastu-siddha (perfect in reality) and svarupa siddha (perfect in conception). The vastu-siddha devotees are persons who by Lord Krsna's mercy are taken directly to Goloka. The svarupa-siddha devotees are persons who, although they are not taken, by Lord Krsna's mercy, from the material world and placed in Goloka, can still see the true form of Goloka. There are many kinds of devotees whose eyes of devotional service are gradually opened, by Lord Krsna's mercy. Some can see a little of Goloka, some can see more of Goloka and some can see a great deal of Goloka. According to the degree they have attain Lord Krsna's mercy, to that degree they can see Goloka. In the stage of sadhana the devotee can have a brief glimpse of Goloka in Gokula in the material world. When a devotee leaves the stage of sadhana-bhakti and attains bhava-bhakti, then he can see Goloka to a greater extent. When a devotee attains the stage of prema, then he can see Goloka to a very great extent.

Vijaya-kumara: O master, what is the difference between Goloka and Vraja?

Gosvami: Whatever can be seen in Vraja can also be seen in Goloka. However, persons with different kinds of qualification may see Vraja differently. The truth is that Goloka and Vrndavana are not different in anyway. However, there may be differences in different persons' ability to see. A person tightly bound by the mode of ignorance will see Vraja as just another place in the material world. A person influenced by the mode of passion will see Vraja as a pleasant place. A person in the mode of pure goodness will see Vraja more clearly than the others. In this way different people are more or less able to properly see the land of Vraja.

Vijaya-kumara: O master, I can understand a little. Please give one or two examples to help me understand. Examples comparing things in the spiritual world to things in the material world are always imperfect. Still, they can be useful, for the nature of one thing can be hinted by comparing it to another.

Gosvami: This is a very difficult topic. If one has a direct spiritual vision, he is forbidden to reveal it to others. If by Krsna's mercy one is able to see directly, one must keep that revelation always a secret. I will repeat to you what the previous acaryas have taught about this. Anything more than that you will soon see for yourself by Lord Krsna's mercy. Pure spiritual perception exists in Goloka. Material ideas do not exist there at all. To nourish the rasas, the Lord's spiritual potency (cit-sakti) manifests all wonderful states of being (bhava). In this way many ideas and conceptions are manifested. In Goloka Krsna is beginningless. He is never born. Still, to help the Lord's pastimes, the Lord's spiritual potency convinces Nanda and Yasoda that they are Krsna's parents. In this way the vatsalya rasa is manifested. In madhura rasa the wonderful varieties of vipralambha (separation) and sambhoga (enjoying pastimes together) are also manifested by the Lord's spiritual potency. In this way the parakiya rasa and svakiya rasa are manifested in an eternal present (nitya-vartamana). Look, in this way many different ideas and beliefs are manifested by Yogamaya in Vraja. Yogamaya convinces Yasoda that Krsna was born in her maternity room. Yogamaya convinces the gopis that they were married to Abhimanyu, Govardhana-gopa, and others. In this way the parakiya rasa is nourished. These various ideas and beliefs created by Yogamaya are not really untrue. They are part of the total reality of Goloka. Thus the different residents of Goloka do indeed see things differently.

Vijaya-kumara: Should one purify his thoughts by meditating on the Lord's pastimes in the eight periods of the day (asta-kalina-lila) and in this way be able to see the Lord in meditation?

Gosvami: It is not like that. One first sees the Lord's pastimes in Vraja, and then one remembers those pastimes of the eight periods of the day. By engaging in devotional service one obtains Krsna's mercy, and then the Lord's pastimes are manifested before one. There is no need to first purify one's thoughts by meditating on the Lord's pastimes.

Vijaya-kumara: It is said:

"One attains perfection that corresponds to his meditation."

Does this mean that when one attains perfection he will obtain what he meditated on during the period of sadhana-bhakti? Therefore one should strive to meditate purely one Goloka.

Gosvami: What you say is true. All the ideas and beliefs present in vraja are pure truths. There is nothing imperfect or wrong with about them. If there were anything untrue about them, they would be faulty. When one perfectly practices sadhana bhakti, he attains perfection. What one purely meditates on during the practice of sadhana bhakti, one directly sees when one attains perfection. Try to perform the duties of sadhana bhakti nicely. Do not try to purify these activities. To purify them is beyond your power. With His inconceivable potency, Lord Krsna Himself will purify them. If you try to purify them yourself, you will be pricked by the thorn of material ideas. If Krsna is merciful to you, the fruit you pick will not be bitter.

Vijaya-kumara: Today I have become fortunate. I have one more question. Do the Lord's wives in Dvaraka reside in Vaikuntha? If not, do they reside in Goloka?

Gosvami: All bliss is found in Vaikuntha in the spiritual world. There is no attainment higher than Vaikuntha. Dvaraka and all the cities where the Lord resides are manifested in Vaikuntha. each in her own abode, the Lord's wives in these different cities serve the Lord there. As far as madhura-rasa is concerned, only the girls in Vraja reside in Goloka. Whatever pastimes were manifested in Vraja in the material world are all manifested in Goloka. Also, in the Gopala-tapani Upanisad it is seen that Rukmini devi, following the svakiya rasa, enjoys pastimes in Mathura-puri in Goloka.

Vijaya-kumara: O master, the activities of parakiya rasa are manifested in a certain sequence in Vraja in the material world. Are they all manifested in exactly the same sequence in Goloka?

Gosvami: They are all exactly the same. They are all spiritual. Only the beliefs created by Yogamaya are absent. Those beliefs do not remain there. Only the pure spiritual part remains there. I cannot explain that any more clearly. By the power of your devotional activities you will come to understand what I mean.

Vijaya-kumara: At the time of cosmic devastation the entire material world disappears. How, then, is it possible that the Supreme Lord enjoys pastimes eternally in His abode of Vraja in the material world?

Gosvami: The Lord's pastimes in Vraja are eternal in two ways. Travelling in a great circle through the numberless material universes, the Lord manifests all His pastimes, one after another. In this way the Lord's pastimes are manifested eternally. Also, the Lord's pastimes always exist in the spiritual eternal present (nitya-vartamana), even when they may be invisible to material eyes (aprakata). Vijaya-kumara: If the Lord openly manifests (prakata-lila) His pastimes in every material universe, does that mean that every universe has its own land of Vraja?

Gosvami: Yes, it does. Goloka has the power to manifest itself anywhere. In every material universe the abode of the Lord's pastimes is manifested. The world of Goloka also manifests itself in the heart of every devotee of the Lord. Why does the land of Mathura (Mathura-mandala) continue to exist in the material world, even though the Lord no longer manifests (prakata) His pastimes there?

Vijaya-kumara: The Lord continues to enjoy pastimes there eternally, even though those pastimes cannot be seen by material eyes (aprakata). Also, to show mercy to the devotees, the Lord keeps His abode manifested in the material world.

In that way the day's conversation ended. Again and again thinking of the Lord's pastimes during the eight periods of the day (asta-kaliya-seva), Vijaya-kumara returned to his residence."