Becoming Trnad-api by Taking Shelter of the Vraja-devīs
Tṛṇād-api-sunīcena is not possible for those who are controlled by their mind and senses, and troubled by the disease of material desires. How can we become tṛṇād-api-sunīcena? The svarūpa of the jīva is minute, aṇu-caitanya. The constitutional position of the soul is to be the servant of Kṛṣṇa, but, due to contact with the material energy, he forgets his nature and keeps moving in the cycle of birth and death, which causes him to suffer, life after life. He has neither any realization nor any taste for bhakti, but if he comes in contact with sādhus, the holy dhāma, and śāstra, and attains the mercy of Kṛṣṇa, he starts to gradually understand his position. Then, by following the path of pure bhakti under the guidance of bona fide Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, he can become tṛṇād-api-sunīcena.
What is the mood of the devotee?
ajāta-pakṣā iva mātaraṁ khagāḥ
stanyaṁ yathā vatsatarāḥ kṣudh-ārtāḥ
priyaṁ priyeva vyuṣitaṁ viṣaṇṇā
mano ’ravindākṣa didṛkṣate tvām
O lotus-eyed Lord, as baby birds that have not yet developed their wings always look for their mother to return and feed them, as small calves tied with ropes await anxiously the time of milking, when they will be allowed to drink the milk of their mothers, or as a morose wife whose husband is away from home always longs for him to return and satisfy her in all respects, I always yearn for the opportunity to render direct service unto You.
Baby birds are completely unable to survive independently, but they only have to open their mouths and their mother will bring some worms and feed them to her babies. Then they wait again for their mother to bring more food, and when any other bird flies by, they think that their mother has come. Their only desire is to eat. Should we be selfish like these birds, and only pray to Kṛṣṇa, ‘Give me bread and butter, a room and heater, otherwise You are a cheater?’ We should never pray like this. In the next line of this verse, another example is given. Stanyaṁ yathā vatsatarāḥ kṣudh-ārtāḥ. When, in the evening, the cows come back to their shed from grazing the whole day, the calves that were waiting for them, say with their mooing, “Oh, I am very thirsty and hungry. I can’t eat grasses or drink water. I only like my mother’s milk. O mother, please feed me.” But the cruel herdsmen catch them and keep them away from their mothers. They take all the milk for themselves and do not leave anything for the calves. Then the calves, due to their hunger and thirst, suffer intensely. Should we pray to God like this? No, the calves only have a relationship with their mothers in order to get fed. Then, the verse continues, priyaṁ priyeva vyuṣitaṁ viṣaṇṇā.
When a young girl falls in love with a boy, this relationship is very sweet and tasteful in the beginning. And when the boy is away, the girl is always anxious for his return. Is such deep attraction satisfactory? When Kubjā saw Kṛṣṇa in Mathurā, she tried to take Him to her room for enjoyment. Kṛṣṇa was very embarrassed and before Uddhava and Dāūjī said, “How is this lady? The Mathurā ladies are shameless.” He tried to chase her away, but the greedy Kubjā did not listen. Kṛṣṇa thought, “This is not possible. In Vraja-bhūmi the gopīs never do this with Me. Their love is spotless, devoid of any selfish desire.” Real love means that there are no conditions or selfishness. The gopīs are superior, for they carry Kṛṣṇa in their hearts and do not try to control or acquire Him by force. The behavior and rules of mundane attraction are not the rules of real love. Love means to be always ready to fulfill whatever one’s beloved desires. And even if the beloved does not like the lover, the latter’s only happiness is to please the beloved. By the association of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, we can gradually develop this mood. Then we can always be engaged in nāma-saṅkīrtana and become truly humble, tolerant, and absorbed in bhakti.
In our early stages of bhakti we may receive help from a neophyte devotee, and by hearing his chanting of harināma, develop some taste. When we meet a mahā-bhāgavata Vaiṣṇava later on, we should not abandon the less advanced devotee, and think that his association is now useless. We should always be grateful and remember that this devotee was sent by Kṛṣṇa Himself to help us. We should never forget any help we received in our spiritual lives, be it from a neophyte devotee, family man, or any other. A student may graduate with a PhD and become a great engineer or scientist, but he should never forget the help of the teacher who taught him the ABC’s in his first lessons of primary school. If you forget and are ungrateful for the help you have received in bhakti, you will lose everything. But if you remember it, the flow of help in bhakti will never stop. Respecting anybody who helps us means respecting Kṛṣṇa. But what if that person leaves bhakti? This is impossible. Harināma is transcendental cinmaya-rasa. Once the sādhaka tastes this and receives the love from Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, he can never forget it or become deviated from the path of bhakti. The practicing sādhaka has many anarthas and weaknesses, but even if he gives up the process for some time, in due course, he will begin anew. Thus we should be humble amongst the Lord’s devotees and always be grateful for their help.
In front of Guru and Vaiṣṇavas, and in the holy dhāma, the sādhaka should follow the example of the prayerful mood of Rūpa-Sanātana, who would chant: he rādhe vraja-devīke ca lalite he nanda-sūno kutaḥ.
In this way, the sādhaka should pray and weep for the help of Vraja-bhūmi, Śrīmatī Rādhikā, Kṛṣṇa, Lalitā, Viśākhā, and the Guru-varga. Help will not come from any other source, and therefore, while we are grateful and respectful to all who have helped us, tṛṇād-api-sunīcena should not be displayed everywhere, only in front of the transcendental personalities. The sahajiyās display great humility in public and offer sāṣṭāṅga-daṇḍavat to everybody at least ten times, but inside they are very proud. Such external humility is not helpful. In front of others they make a big show of their chanting, but when they are alone, they dance in front of their television. When somebody comes and asks such a person why he is dancing, he says that he is now remembering kṛṣṇa-līlā. They dress up like sakhīs by putting on a sārī and countless ornaments. This is not a good condition.
In which circumstances should one display tṛṇād-api-sunīcena? Uddhava showed this, when he prayed for one grain of dust from the lotus feet of the Vraja-devīs.
I repeatedly offer my respects to the dust from the feet of the Vraja-gopīs in Nanda Mahārāja’s village. When these gopīs loudly chant the glories of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the vibration purifies the three worlds.
asam aho caraṇa-reṇu-juṣām ahaṁ syam
vṛndāvane kim api gulma-latauṣadhīnām
ya dustyajam sva-janam ārya-pathaṁ ca hitvā
bhejur mukunda-padavīṁ śrutibhir vimṛgyām
The gopīs of Vṛndāvana have abandoned the association of their husbands, sons, and other family members who are very difficult to give up, and they have forsaken the path of chastity to take shelter of the lotus feet of Mukunda, Kṛṣṇa, which one should search for by Vedic knowledge. Oh, let me be fortunate enough to be one of the bushes, creepers, or herbs in Vṛndāvana, because the gopīs trample them and bless them with the dust of their lotus feet.
Kṛṣṇa purifies a sādhaka who takes shelter of the Vraja-devīs and makes him tṛṇād-api-sunīcena. Kṛṣṇa keeps the sādhaka close to Him, and only by His desire will He send him elsewhere, like the clouds sometimes send the water to purify the earth and help the jīvas. The jīvas are small, yet they are still parts and parcels of Kṛṣṇa, and once they surrender, Kṛṣṇa makes them tṛṇād-api-sunīcena and keeps them close to Him.