Question: I read an article in Back to Godhead magazine called Preparing for a Pilgrimage, wherein the author has described the mood one should have when going to Sri Vrndavana-dhama. Have you seen that article?
Answer: Yes, I have read that article also, but I could not find much about the real meaning of a pilgrimage to Sri Vrndavana-dhama within that presentation. In that article the author has mentioned – remembering Krsna, being with Krsna, loving Krsna, seeing Krsna everyday, associating with godbrothers and godsisters, physical austerity, praying, chanting, etc. However, he has not mentioned the Six Gosvamis or Srimati Radharani, without which, any talk about Krsna in Vrndavana is incomplete i.e., lacking in substance. The article only gives us a superficial understanding. That may or may not be suitable for beginners or the novice section. Where is the food for advancement? Where is the clear conception, the Gaudiya sampradaya conception of how to approach Sri Vrndavana-dhama? I think the author himself may not be properly acquainted with the Vrndavana conception. A pilgrimage to Sri Vrndavana-dhama means following in the footsteps of the Six Gosvamis. What is that? Srinivasa Acarya says:
he radhe vraja-devike ca lalite he nanda-suno kutah sri-govardhana-kalpa-padapa-take kalindi-vanye kutah ghosantav-iti sarvato vraja-pure khedair maha-vihvalau vande rupa-sanatanau raghu-yugau sri-jiva-gopalakau
The Six Gosvamis – Rupa, Sanatana, Raghunatha Dasa, Jiva, Gopala Bhatta and Raghunatha Bhatta – were wandering, chanting loudly everywhere in Vrndavana, shouting, “O Radhe, Queen of Vrndavana, O Lalita! O son of Nanda Maharaja where are You now? Are You just on the hill of Govardhana, or are You under the trees on the bank of the Yamuna? Where are You? (Sad Gosvamyastakam)
This was the mood in which the Six Gosvamis lived in Vrndavana and performed devotional service. Always in the mood of separation (vipralamba). “O Radhe, O Krsna, where are you?” Not, “Oh, here you are! Now I have you in my fist! I love You, therefore you must appear before my eyes.” No, not like that. One should never think, “I love Krsna.” Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu used to say, “I have no love for Krsna. If I actually had any love for Krsna then I would die immediately!”
The Six Gosvamis, although there are the most perfect, never said, “I see Krsna! I love Krsna! Rather, what they always question is their own qualifications and they consider themselves most fallen.
We should ask ourselves, “What is my love for Krsna? Is it so great that Krsna is bound to appear before my eyes?” Should we want to make Krsna the object of our eye-enjoyment? That also we must renounce. Following in the footsteps of the Six Gosvamis we must cultivate the mood of separation i.e., search for Sri Krsna. That was shown by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and that was followed by all His followers and that has been recommended by our acaryas also.
The actual teachings of Sri Caitanya and His disciplic succession is how to always feel the mood of separation. Once, while walking in the forest of Vrndavana with some of his disciples, Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Prabhupada commented, “When the pure devotees come to Vrndavana they feel great separation from Krsna." And who is the purest devotee of Krsna? Who feels the greatest separation from Krsna? That is Srimati Radharani. Therefore, if we want to approach Vrndavana, we must first approach Srimati Radharani. She is the Queen of Vrndavana and the proprietor of Krsna also.
In Vrndavana all the devotees chant, "Jaya Radhe!" The whole scope of the devotional field is Her domain alone. All service to Krsna is first sanctioned by Srimati Radharani, otherwise it is not service but a mental concoction. Before we can properly understand Krsna, we must first try to understand Radharani and how great She is.
Everyone is trying to love Krsna, but Krsna is trying to love Radharani. Just see how great She is. Each and every atom in Vrndavana is permeated by the beauty and bliss of Radharani. Whatever happiness or pleasure potency is to be found in Vrndavana is originally due to Radharani. To think that we can approach Krsna and Vrndavana without the grace of Srimati Radharani is to be doomed to failure. She is so great that if She is merciful upon us then our success in Krsna consciousness is assured. Therefore, our first business in coming to Vrndavana is to take complete shelter at the lotus feet of Srimati Radharani, and to take shelter of the mood of the Six Gosvamis. Prepare yourself in that way and then come to Sri Vrndavana-dhama.