This is a story about how God plays. It relates how He appeared on earth in the enchanting form of Shri Krishna for the purpose of delighting His bhaktas His loving devotes. Inner goddess describes a world that supports devotion and is full of embodied, enlightened beings for these accomplished ones Shri Krishna appears in a solid Bliss- Form comprised of concentrated enlightenment. This story explores the Grace filled path tracing the footsteps of those who have followed it and danced with Shri Krishna. They are the Gopies of Vrindavan whose Inner Goddesses were awakened through Shri Krishna’s play. When we understand their story we can begin to grasp our own.
About the Author
Shyamdas was born in America in 1953 and came to India as a teenager in the early 1970s and met the great Hindu saint Neem karoli Baba.
His devotional practice developed under the tutelage of his Holiness Goswami Prathameshji the head of the first seat of the Pushti Marg. Shyamdas has written and translated some twenty books on the blessed path. Shyamdas and his wife tulsi can be found depending on the season in Vrindavan Nathdvara Rajasthan or in New York, USA.
This is a story about how God Plays. It relates how God appeared on earth in the enchanting form of Shri Krishna for the purpose of delighting His bhaktas, His loving devotes. Inner Goddess describes a world that supports devotion and is full of embodied, enlightened beings.
The devotional stars of that realm are the Gopies the dairymaids of Vrindavan. After lifetimes of spiritual undertakings, this group of blessed souls took birth as dairymaid women and were finally able to meet with their Beloved. Shri Krishna arranged for the Gopis to appear able to fully revel in the bliss of His own Being. The Gopis fell to fully deeply in love with Shri Krishna and became so attractive that He became drawn to them.
The Gopis experience with Shri Krishna or Hari, are replete with unparalleled joys and sorrows. They first find and then lose Hari, the One who is really never lost. In this extraordinary process of searching for the Ultimate, the Gopis experienced a full awakening of their own Inner Goddesses. They became in stage true lovers of God.
These amazing events took place in Vrindavan, within the Braja area a sacred adobe in northern India. It is a devotional setting which still flourishes today. Shri Krishna Hari is the Hero of this tale, as well as the Lord of liberation. Hari of amazing deeds is actually everything in this world, as well as the Formless Adobe of Liberation beyond all name and form and yet, He also appeared in Braja as a cowherder!
Although Shri Krishna is beyond reason and sense perception there is a way to directly engage with Him. This story explores that Grace-filled path, tracing the footsteps of those who have followed it and danced with Hari. For those who love Hari arises with a solid Bliss-form comprised of concentrated enlightenment. For His yearning followers, He appears with a nectar visage. Inner Goddess we understand His story we begin to grasp our own.
Hari’s manifestation in the forests of Vrindavan differs from other avatars incarnations of God whose purpose was to establish various types of spiritual paths. Shri Krishna manifested in this world to remove the afflictions of His devotees and to teach them how to play uninhibitedly with His Blissful Self. He personally came to Vrindavan to distribute Joyful rewards, and Inner Goddess describes how Hari accomplished that amazing deed.
Inner Goddess reveals a glimpse of Shri Krishna’s Lilas, His divine plays which are laden with deep and wonderful meanings. There lilas describe what the Gopis did with their God- passions and contain a nectar that flourishes in secrecy.
It is said that spiritual advancement is easily achieved by associating with others who have already attained. Having found that to be true in my own life-experience, I thought it worthwhile to study the lives of the banner of love I follow them. Their lives are replete with teachings on how to become as blissful as God. Their story teaches how to form and then maintain a relationship with God according to the path of Grace-filled devotion as taught by Shrimad Vallabhacharya.
This sacred progression beings with an understanding of the world as it truly is – purely God. This non-dual view is the foundation of devotion for it is only after we grasp that God is everything that He can become truly personal. Freedom from all forms of false identification must be achieved before such non-dual awareness can firmly settle in our mind and heart. These obstructions can be removed either with effort or with Hari’s grace. In either case when clarity arises the infinite forms within creation are all recognized as being part and parcel of God. Then the play or lila, can begin.
The non dual view is a prerequisite for understanding God’s Playground the arena of Inner Goddess and stage of the Gopis experiences and teachings. It is a place where individuals become spiritual non-material beings and gather together to dance with the Beloved.
The Lilas the amazing Divine Plays between Shri Krishna and the Gopis arise in a sacred sequence all within God’s heart. After appearing in Vrindavan Shri Krishna proved His Divinity and Lordship to the residents of Braja by eliminating various inner and outer demons. These events made Shri Krishna’s devotees conscious of His greatness. They saw His remarkable deeds and were convinced that He was worthy of their worship.
As the lilas progressed the Gopis and other residents of Vrindavan forgot about Hari’s greatness and became deeply moved by His Divine Form and Presence. God the object of all sacred teachings had clearly arrived before them. Everyone fell deeply in love with Hari as He established unique relationships with each of them.
The Gopis love and attachment of god matured until they became perfectly addicted of Hari, which qualified them for an entrance into the Divine Dance. In this process the Gopis abandoned all other means of attainment. Hari himself became both the means and the reward of their Grace-filled path. For the Gopis, dharma, wealth, desire and liberation the four traditional pursuits of life, all became entangled with the Divine Flute Player.
The fire of the Gopis devotion obliterated all obstructions. Nothing could delay or distract them. Not even the great yogi Uddhava, who came to Braja to teach the Gopis abstract yoga, could sway them from their devotional positions. In the end, Uddhava bowed to the dust that had touched the Gopis feet and he too became their humble disciple. Glories to those blessed dairymaid of Braja! Their devotion is worthy of emulation.
An amazing reality unfolds when eternity manifests in the material world. To see this play of infinity is the vocation of saints and this story those saints are mostly women, the dairymaid Gopis of Vrindavan. Their lives demonstrate the art of devotion and the way to know Infinity by marrying God.
Before any such union can take place false identifications must be eliminated. Just as a plant is pruned in order to make it grow so must our unnecessary and unrelated attachments be cut back to allow for spiritual growth. If limiting dualistic views of “me” and “mine” can be transformed into awakened consciousness, a loving unity arises and creates an understanding that all this is “His” As ignorance gives way to wisdom desires also become refined and then a relationship with Divinity is experienced within and throughout the world. Such was the experience of the Gopis of Vrindavan.
In this story Shri Krishna arranged for every transformation. He accomplished everything through a series of amazing exchanges. Through His Power of Grace, Hari Played His subjects enlightenment. He freed the residents of Vrindavan from their various obstructions by simply playing with them! He sundered their knots of ignorance cleared their discursive minds and gradually turned their hearts solely towards the Beloved.
The central teaching of Inner goddess is the effortless state of continual communion with God which the Gopis attained. It is called Nirodha and it can happen in this world. Nirodha is defined in yogic literature as restraining the tendencies of the wandering senses through the practice of yoga. The nirodha that arose in Vrindavan however was not achieved through practice it was a matter of God’s grace. It occurred when the Gopis became so attached to Hari that they simply forgot the false world. It created for them endless connections with Hari everywhere. In this way Shri Krishna bound the Gopis into His reality. Shri Vallabhacharya praises the Value of nirodha in his text Nirodha Lakshana.
The Gopis are the gurus of nirodha. Their devotion was not a practice but a divine obsession. They are the true masters of passionate dedication. In the end, they not only attained God but God also attained them! The Gopis lived God with their total being but even they could not achieve the blessed state of nirodha on their own. Hari appeared at every step in their journey and cleverly crafted the course of their transformation.
The Gopis pilgrimage to the Beloved can also help us rediscover our own part in the Divine Drama. God’s Playground accommodates all sorts of people; Hari embraces the pure the passionate as well as the obstinate. Through Hari’s playful process any attribute can be transformed and liberated. Even the body and sense can join in the dance.
The Gopis story reveals the divine psychology of God’s Playground. Part of this path is dedication: learning to wed our hearts and minds, as well as our relationships, actions, and wealth, to the Divine. This total dedication is not merely a meditation; it is an active process intertwined with our inward and outward reality, with every breath with every atom of existence.
With dedication God’s Presence arises everywhere and the blessed one becomes possessed by the awakening. This leads to an understanding of divine application, in which we transform what we already have into delightful offerings to God. As devotional awareness matures, everything becomes increasingly joined with the Master of Ceremonies. Then life is set ablaze with spiritual aspiration and reality becomes a continual nectar-filled celebration.
Enlightened devotional view is called bhava. Bhava is also the sacred devotional state of being that is found in the accomplished devotee or bhakta. Bhava is what the Gopis had for Shri Krishna and bhava is what devotional practitioners cherish. Where there is bhava there is realization. Hari responds to bhava because He is comprised of bhava.
Although bhavis self-arising, it is entered into by listening to accounts of Shri Krishna, as well as by singing His glories. These devotional activities propel the ignited soul directly into Hari’s orbit. The devotional seed then sprouts, flowers, and ultimately blossoms with the fruit of Devotion. This course frees us from the jail of our self-centered creations.
Hari transcends all things, yet He is also the very soul of the manifested and unmanifested creations. On rare occasions Hari agrees to manifest personally as the object of the divine lovers whose glimpses of Him are the subjects of Inner Goddess. Hari skillfully relates to any form of loving devotion that is directed towards Him. He upholds the sacred oath He made in the Bhagavad-Gita, to worship His dear ones as they worship Him. But it is the force of the loving devotional mood which actually elicits His divine response and commands his Presence. His responses are always perfect. In the process of awakening the Inner Goddess Hari becomes the means and reward of the lover’s life.
Inner Goddess is a story about grace and its soulful effects. Grace makes the means the fruit and the fruit the means. It allows for anything to be accomplished independent of one’s efforts. It arises without considering qualifications and does not delay. Grace established direct connection with the Beloved and removes obsessions with scripturally-based religious practices. When grace is present life is lived for the pleasure of the Beloved.
Grace creates divine attachments and removes what in unrelated such as concern for bodily conditions and appearances. Wherever there is grace there is no expectation of reciprocation and an abundance of divine sentiments emerge. Grace and makes us fearless. It makes us remember God and makes us feel remembered by him. Grace depends upon His sweet will and is independent of every cause except His own. Grace creates a profound eagerness to experience the divine drama of life and most importantly grace produces humility.
Now hear about an unusual side of grace. In this world there are three basic attributes called gunas. The base qualities of ignorance and obsession are ascribed to the tamas guna. In the world of yogic attainments the tamas guna is considered to be an obstacle to spiritual pursuits and the lowest of the three attributes. The rajas guna rules the modes of passion and anger. Sattva the virtue of purity is considered the most refined and spiritually beneficial of the three.
Why then in the path of Grace is the tamas attribute considered to be an exalted virtue? Why is the tamas type of devotion exemplified by Shri Krishna’s beloved Gopis worthy of emulation? Why did Krishna grace these tamas devotes with rewards superior to even liberation when their practices were almost entirely devoid of scripturally based teachings?
Indeed the Blessed Path of grace does not adhere to lawful norms. In the Path of law, practitioners rely upon the strength of their own practice to attain a specific goal, but in the path of Grace the Lord’s grace rules. In the Path of law there is a distinction between the means and the reward are both Hari. The secret to the Gopis tamas or “obstinate” type of devotion is their unbending attachment to Shri Krishna’s form. They are madly in love with God and that is why although they embody the tamas guna they are the gurus of the devotional path. They have shown us that once the crooked form of Shri Krishna enters the heart extraction is virtually impossible.
The person governed by sattva relies on wisdom which is often confined to the mind and can lack love. Passionate beings ruled by rajas guna are subject to agitation which casts their minds off in the wrong direction and prevents them from connecting their actions with Hari. Obstinate or tamas devotion however creates divine obsessions that eclipse everything unrelated to God. Like the moth obsessed with a flame offers its life there tamas bhaktas are obsessed with Hari and their flight into His Glorious Being incinerates all of their binding karmas. The nature of this tamas devotional mystery is at the heart of the grace filled experienced and it is deeply explored in the sacred literature from which Inner Goddess is derived.
Understand that although obstinacy is a tamas attribute and normally counted as a fault it becomes a virtue when linked to the Blessed Lord. When you connect something to Hari regardless of what it is becomes like Him. Shri Vallabhacharya has explained in his Siddhant Muktavali :
The Gopis of Braja the blessed dairymaids are the devotional stars of these Lilas. Shri Krishna becomes for them as tamas as they are. He played with the Gopis in a way that was recognizable to them in order to transform and awaken them to their own amazing and unique relationship to God. As they become players in Hari’s non-material divine orbit the Gopis literally act their way to enlightenment. Their spiritual nourishment arises from Hari’s grace.
It is extremely difficult to climb out of the mundane world through our own efforts but the Vrindavan Lilas demonstrate another way. The Lord of liberation and Beloved of the Gopis Shri Krishna has on occasion overlooked the qualification of his own souls and appeared personally before them. He appears in a form similar to their own so that they can recognize Him, but uniquely according to their individual nature, so that they can personally relate to Divinity.
On the road to Vrindavan the inspired pilgrim forgets everything that is unrelated and falls perfectly in love. The force of the soul love for God inspires a corresponding affinity from Hari. When Hari and the soul are unable to remain without each other that is called the state of Addiction. It is the reward and I Pray that I may remember it.
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