The first time I entered the ISKCON temple in Mumbai – it was in February 2012 something caught my attention, besides, of course, the Deities and the beautiful architecture inside: I noticed many devotees wearing T-shirts carrying the slogan "I Lost My Heart in Vrindavana." What's so special about Vrindavana? I wondered. I had some faint idea about this place – how it was related to Lord Krishna' s childhood activities – but nothing much.
After beginning to associate with devotees, I started to realize how this place is extremely special. Visiting such holy places, I learned, is an integral part of devotional service, and so devotees made regular pilgrimages to Vrindavana and meditated on its glories. Rupa Goswami, the sixteenth-century saint of medieval India, has described in his writings the exalted position of Vrindavana and the immense spiritual benefit one can derive by staying there. I hoped and prayed that I too would get an opportunity to go to Vrindavana.
Exactly a year later, in February 2013, a group of devotees an-nounced their plan to visit Vrindavana. I immediately signed up and booked my railway ticket along with others. I learned that holy places have great spiritual potency and that one needs special mercy to get entrance inside. One cannot enter Vrndavana just by purchasing a ticket.
When I first stepped on the Vrindavana soil, I felt a special satisfaction in my heart. I could not wait for Vrindavana to reveal itself to me. Before going to Vrindavana I had taken certain vows: to chant more japa, to not indulge in mundane gossip, etc. Hearing the pastimes of Lord Krishna helped me maintain my vows, and my mind was deeply engrossed in devotional thoughts, even in sleep. The beautiful deities of the six Goswami eft me spellbound. When I saw Sanatana Goswami's Madana Mohana Deity, I could not shift my gaze from the Lord's beautiful eyes. The same thing happened in the other six temples.
My visit to ISKCON temple, however, changed everything. The darshana of Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha-Shyamasundara totally captivated me. After being pushed out of the crowd, I stood in one corner of the temple in order to digest what had happened. After a few minutes, I decided to take darshana again, and this time I could see the complete form of Their Lordships. I wanted to make sure the divine form made a deep impression on my mind.
The next day we all went on Govardhana Parikrama, the circumambulation of the sacred Govardhana Hill. We heard how Govardhana is extremely merciful and is non-different from Lord Krishna, Throughout the parikrama I prayed: "Please bestow your causeless mercy upon me and give me the strength to progress in my spiritual path." We visited many holy spots on the parikrama-marg. Towards the end, we reached Radha-kunda and Shyama-kunda, the holiest of all holy places in creation. As I sat on the banks of these two kundas and sprinkled water on my head, I could feel this place is extremely special. I started chanting Hare Krishna, but soon tears began to flow from eyes uncontrollably – I didn't know why. I allowed the emotions to flow unchecked and tried to offer them to Krishna as an expression of gratitude.
Srila Prabhupada often quoted a song written by Srila Narottama Dasa Thakura to explain the qualification to experience the real Vrindavana:
visaya chadiya kabe suddha ha 'be mana
kabe hama heraba sri-vmdavana
rupa-raghunatha-pade haibe akuti
kabe hama bujhaba se yugala-piriti
"When will I be attracted to the instructions of the Goswamis so that I will be able to understand what is Radha and Krishna and what is Vrindavana? When will my mind be cleansed of all material dirt so that I will be able to feel the presence of spiritual Vridavana:"
I know I have a long way to go before I can reach this state of consciousness. But by the mercy of devotees, my faith in Krishna and in Vrindavana has become stronger. Now during all my daily activities in Mumbai, I can derive spiritual nourishment by recalling these cherished memories of Vrindavana. I am sure I am beginning to lose my heart in Vrindavana.
Amisha Patel has been practicing Krishna consciousness for more than a year. She stays in Mumbai and is pursuing a career in Law.