How to reside in Vraja? Always remember Kṛṣṇa. Complete smaraṇa, or remembrance, is on both sides. We always remember Kṛṣṇa and the gopīs, and they think about us. This is complete smaraṇa. We can achieve this by constant remembrance and prayer to the transcendental personalities. By doing so, Kṛṣṇa will bestow Vraja-vāsa upon us. In the Vrajavāsīs’ association, kṛṣṇa-smaraṇa will come naturally.
If we desire prema-sevā, divine loving service, we will make a firm vow to Śrīmatī Rādhikā and Her prominent sakhīs like Lalita-devi, Viśākhā, Rūpa Mañjarī, and so forth. We will pray, “I will not take shelter of any other. I only seek and wait for Your blessings and mercy. I will only associate with those who similarly seek Your shelter and who have vraja-niṣṭha. I will sternly avoid any other association.”
By hearing, remembering, and praying to the vraja-gopīs, a natural desire will develop in us for kṛṣṇa-sevā, and we will always chant kṛṣṇa-nāma. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is in the gopīs’ hearts. They can bestow His presence and service. Therefore, the rāga-bhakta will always be greedy for the gopīs’ association and mercy.
Why consider yourself unqualified to remember and pray to the gopīs? If you do not think about the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa, you will be bound to remember māyā. You cannot cleanse and empty your mind. You must replace material thoughts with spiritual thoughts. Your mind cannot become completely desireless. It should be filled with transcendental reflections. The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.39) states:
vikrīḍitaṁ vraja-vadhūbhir idaṁ ca viṣṇoḥ
śraddhānvito ’nuśṛṇuyād atha varṇayed yaḥ
bhaktiṁ parāṁ bhagavatī pratilabhya kāmaṁ
hṛd-rogam āśv apahinoty acireṇa dhīraḥ
If a person has faith in his heart for the Vraja-devīs and, after hearing, describes the mahā-rāsa of the Vraja-devīs with Kṛṣṇa, then Kṛṣṇa becomes very happy. “Oh! They have no doubt about my mahā-rāsa and do not think it is an impure or useless activity.” Kṛṣṇa then bestows this parā-bhakti upon that person. At that time, the disease of the heart, lust, disappears.
By hearing the glories of the Vraja-devīs, their nature and qualities will come in our heart and we will cross over our material nature. The rāgānuga-bhakta will always reside in Vraja. If he cannot do so physically, he will always be in Vṛndāvana in his mind.
kuñje vāsa anurāgi-jana-dāsī haiyā
aṣṭa-kāla bhaji līlā majiyā majiyā
smari’ kṛṣṇa, nija-kṛṣṇa-preṣṭha-vraja-jana
kṛṣṇa-kathā-rata, vraja-vāsa anukṣaṇa
One should perform saṅkīrtana and in sequence engage the tongue and mind in remembrance of the name, form, qualities, and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa. Residing in a kuñja, become a maidservant of the eternal associates who possess anurāga, and totally immerse yourself in serving the eight-fold pastimes of the Śrī Yugala. Remember Kṛṣṇa and His near and dear Vraja associates and engage in kṛṣṇa-kathā while continuously residing in Vraja.
Living entities that reside in prakṛta Vraja will achieve spiritual forms in transcendental Vraja. By performing sādhana in Vraja under the guidance of rāgānugā-bhaktas, in time, one will gain a transcendental form in eternal Vraja. When we reside in Vṛndāvana, we should remember and pray to the Vrajavāsīs. To really be in Vraja is to remember and serve the Vrajavāsīs. Otherwise, if we are only externally staying in Vraja, while absorbed in sense enjoyment, we will soon lose taste for being in Vraja and will want to leave. Then what benefit will come?
Therefore, the sādhaka should remember Kṛṣṇa’s dear associates like Śrī Rūpa Mañjarī and other dear sakhīs. While living in Vraja Maṇḍala, the sādhaka should hear pastimes of those parikāras who are favorable for his bhāva and serve them; then their moods can be attained. Therefore, our ācārya-varya prays: “rādhā-kuṇḍa-taṭa-kuñja-kuṭīra, govardhana-parvata yāmuna-tīra—a small cottage within a kuñja on the bank of Rādhā-kuṇḍa, Govardhana Hill, the banks of the Yamunā.”
Srila Narottama das Thakur ki Jaya! (excerpted from the book “Sri Sri Prema Bhakti Candrika” available from: email@example.com )