Dhāma-tattva: This category covers quotes and excerpts by Swami B.G. Narasingha Maharaja that focus on the subject of the spiritual nature of the holy places of pilgrimage according to Bhakti Yoga. These are quotes and excerpts that have been extracted from articles, lectures and letters by Swami B.G. Narasingha.


Śrīla Prabhupāda gave us a warning. He said “Kṛṣṇa is not in Loi Bazaar” But if you look on a map, you will see that Loi Bazaar is almost in the centre of Vṛndāvana in an area called the rāsa-sthalī, where Kṛṣṇa performed many of His love pastimes with the gopīs. So actually, Loi Bazaar is situated in a very secret area. But what we see is all prauḍha-māyā – a covering. It’s only floating on the top. Vṛndāvana can be a scary place with mad street dogs, lot’s of pigs, cows on the streets and shops to buy sarees, dhotis, and japa bags.

But we must try to give some attention as to what is actually Vṛndāvana, What is the nature of this place? What should be the feeling in Vṛndāvana? How should we try to live in Vṛndāvana? What is vṛndāvana-bhajana? How should we do vṛndāvana-bhajana? Who are the residents of Vṛndāvana? What are these things from a substantial point of view? You have to jump off and swim deeper if you actually want to understand what is Vṛndāvana. If we give too much attention to the rickshaw-wallahs, the pigs in the street, the monkeys and all these things, we will not actually be able to understand what is Vṛndāvana. We will be distracted by māyā.


It doesn’t matter who is here in Vṛndāvana, it’s still Vṛndāvana. In our āśrama in South India, if we packed everything up. took the Deities and moved out, it would just become rice fields again. But you can’t change Vṛndāvana and make it not Vṛndāvana. You can make a mess of it, but underneath it’s still Vṛndāvana.


Now that the economy is on the rise in India, we see a lot of people with money pouring into Vṛndāvana. When there’s a lot of money, people want to enjoy it.

Some places even offer Jacuzzi, tennis courts and swimming pools in Vṛndāvana. Then, it’s better you go to Goa! If you want swimming pools, Jacuzzis and tennis courts, why bother coming here? Go to Goa, go to Kerala, go to Monte Carlo, go to the Andamans, go to the Maldives. Don’t come to Vṛndāvana to enjoy!


Nowadays the fashion is to buy land in Rādhā-kuṇḍa. One devotee bought land in Rādhā-kuṇḍa thirty years ago and had the keys to a small hut there. Prabhupāda heard about that and was absolutely furious and that devotee never returned to that property for the rest of his life. Many years later, he tried to give the land to Govinda Mahārāja, but Govinda Mahārāja told him, “No, no – we cannot live at Rādhā-kuṇḍa. We can live at Govardhana.” Now we hear of so many people that are buying land and living at Rādhā-kuṇḍa…


The actual mood of Vṛndāvana is vipralambha, separation, not union. I personally heard once, with my little insignificant ears, Śrīla Prabhupāda say that, “When the exalted devotees come to Śrī Vṛndāvana, they feel great separation.” But when the neophyte goes, he is very happy and he is taking more lassi, eating more rasagulas, purchasing cake, talking with so many people – but actually, this is not the mood of Vṛndāvana.


Vṛndāvana is not a place to show off material opulence by fancy dress or ornaments. It is not a place to engage in gossip or to engage is eating lavish things. Study of śāstra, chanting the Holy Name, doing devotional service and associating with senior Vaiṣṇavas are the only recommended activities for a devotee when visiting the holy dhāma. These things should be taken seriously otherwise it is not possible to please our previous ācāryas.


If we think that Vṛndāvana is “just another place in North India” or we simply go there to eat nice sweets and fill our bellies, or if we just go there to buy saris and dhotis, or we go there to make money and do business – this is all dhāma-aparādha. We cannot make any tangible advancement when we see Vṛndāvana-dhāma in such mundane terms.


Prabhupāda writes that when the liberated souls come to Vṛndāvana they do not feel enthused. They feel separation from the Lord. But we come here from the west and we feel enthused. Prabhupāda says that there is contamination out there, even while preaching. When we come to Vṛndāvana we want to be part of the big kīrtanas, take lots of prasadām, meet our old friends etc. but this is all very secondary in regards to why we are here and what is to be gained here. What is to be gained here is coming from a much deeper platform, and although we cannot see it, that is what is nurturing our soul. It is on the substratum.


If you’re coming to Vṛndāvana, come to do service! Dhāma-sevā…don’t come with an attitude to ‘enjoy’ the dhāma – just being a rubbernecker and coming for darśana, or stuffing your face with prasādam. If you’re coming with that sort of mentality you will be nowhere and you will make offences. All you will do is simply contribute to the sewage system there!


When Sarasvatī Ṭhākura went to Vṛndāvana, he came back and said, I could not find a Vaiṣṇava. He didn’t come back and say, Oh, the vraja-bhāva!! And that was 90 years ago, and it was in a much finer form – especially compared to now!
Vraja-bhāva does not show itself. Have you ever tried to open a coconut with your bare hands? You cannot do it! You cannot get through the husk. Then after the husk, there is a shell which is as hard as granite – it’s about a quarter-inch thick. So vraja-bhāva is like that – inside it is very sweet and very tender…we cannot imagine how sweet and tender it is. But those who have it put a granite layer around that, and another thick, thick husk. There is a qualification required for vraja-bhāva, and it begins with a life of sacrifice—giving up all selfishness.


Śrīla Prabhupāda’s advice was that someone should come to Vṛndāvana in the mood of the Six Gosvāmīs. So one should study the literature and so forth…the mood of the Six Gosvāmīs. First we see that they are coming in a service mood, service attitude. And then, as we advance, we see that they are in a particular mood of service. Following the Six Gosvāmīs – we’re Rūpānugas, meaning followers of Rūpa Gosvāmī.


The residents of Vraja offer food to Kṛṣṇa, not because they know its sinful NOT to offer food to Him and eat bhoga – they offer food to Kṛṣṇa because they want to please Him. They are in such a plane of life and have so much love for Kṛṣṇa, that unless Kṛṣṇa has eaten and is fully satisfied, they cannot eat – they cannot even swallow! It is like when a loved one dies, it is very difficult to eat. Even when a great Vaiṣṇava leaves the world and we are to honour him and take prasādam, if we know that person closely, it is hard to swallow. So that is the mood of the residents of Vraja – jñāna-śunya-bhakti. They are free from any impetus created by knowledge.


Where is Kṛṣṇa? Kṛṣṇa Himself says He is in the hearts of His devotees.

Once, someone asked Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja, “Where is Vṛndāvana? It is said that Kṛṣṇa never leaves Vṛndāvana – where is Vṛndāvana?”

Then Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said, “Where is Vṛndāvana? Vṛndāvana is that place where we find the footprints of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.”

In other words, the Supreme Entity of Vṛndāvana is Vṛndāvaneśvarī, Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī. Kṛṣṇa never leaves Vṛndāvana because Rādhārāṇī is always in Vṛndāvana. So he said, “Vṛndāvana is where we find the footprints of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī.” Then he said, “I’ll give you one more hint…the Vaiṣṇavas carry the footprints of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī on their heads.”

So in this way, the devotees are given such importance…association with the devotees. By association with the prema-bhaktas, the Lord’s eternal servants, then we come in touch with that divine nectar of prema.



hen you go to Vṛndāvana, everyone shouts, Rādhe! Rādhe! and they are painting Rādhe! Rādhe! on signboards, telephone poles, walls – everything you can imagine! But Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja said, Dayāla Nitāi! Dayāla Nitāi! (Oh merciful Lord Nityānanda!). Actually you won’t find any of the superior devotees that we know of ever shouting out the name of Rādhārāṇī. Some people are surprised that Śrīla Śrīdhara Mahārāja did not retire taking the name of Rādhārāṇī. He pointed out many advanced, subtle and beautiful points in Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism, but he did not withdraw from this world chanting, Rādhe! Rādhe!

We have heard that sometimes, if Sarasvatī Ṭhākura took the name of Rādhārāṇī, he would faint. Śukadeva Gosvāmī doesn’t even mention Rādhārāṇī directly, because if he did he would faint and wouldn’t wake up for six months – but other fools are riding up and down on rickshaws in Loi Bazaar shouting, Rādhe! Rādhe! – this is all a show! The higher things are not kept on the street!