Please excuse me for brining up a topic I’m unqualified to speak on but I’ve been wondering about several aspects of life in the spiritual world, specifically Vṛndāvana.
We all heard that every stone there is a gem, every move is a dance, every tree is a desire tree and every cow is a desire cow, too. Unlike material world there is no dull matter there whatsoever, everything is fully conscious so there are no “things” per se, only “whos”. Okay, but do they all talk?
It’s one thing for a tree to be able to grant all wishes, which, I think, means they can supply any kind of fruit rather than do completely unrelated things like knock on your window in the morning to wake you up like some sort of an alarm clock, it’s quite another thing for a tree to talk. Why? Because we expect trees to behave in a certain way that would define them as trees and talking is not a part of it.
Technically, a tree is something that drinks with its feet so there’s nothing to prevent it from talking as long as its remains fixed to the ground with its roots but trees do not have mouths. We can say that they don’t need mouths to talk but talking without a mouth would be weird. Kṛṣṇa’s bodily organs are freely interchangeable and that, I suppose, is true for all inhabitants of Vṛndāvana but still, as we have seen in our local manifestation, He and everybody else follow certain conventions in the way they use their bodies. So He doesn’t talk with His foot even if He perfectly can.
I mean Vṛndāvana trees could talk if they wanted to but my point is that normally they don’t. Most likely it’s just not their rasa, not their service, not how they relate to Kṛṣṇa and other devotees. They might be fully spiritually conscious but it doesn’t mean they push their boundaries at will. If all Kṛṣṇa expects of them is to stay there and let Him climb then that’s what they do, they don’t provide a running commentary while He is climbing.
Likewise, when Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī wanders through the forest and asks trees whether they have seen Kṛṣṇa or not they do not immediately respond and give away Kṛṣṇa’s location. They, of course, could, but that’s not how they relate to Śrī Rādhikā. At that moment they are there as a prop to let her speak her heart. She wildly talks to them precisely because they appear as inanimate objects and this is why her otherwise crazy talk becomes even more exalted – she talks even to the trees!
Another thing – every rock, every grain of sand is a precious gemstone there. What does it mean, however? What constitutes a gem? Down here gemstones are valuable because they have special features that make them different from ordinary rocks, but if every rock is of the same quality – what would be the point of calling them gems? They would lose the very distinction that makes them unique in the first place.
Maybe they are gems in a different kind of way – they can appear as precious as you want them when you look at them. Normally, however, their service is not like that. Grains of sand and “dirt” lie there to be walked on by Kṛṣṇa and His devotees. They are not supposed to sparkle, they are not supposed to be picked up and fitted into earrings and other jewelry. Sometimes they are, I guess, so that Kṛṣṇa and devotees can exchange gifts, but wouldn’t picking up any stone on the road make a gift appear cheap? Shouldn’t devotees require to make some extra effort to please the Lord? Like go somewhere very far, climb some mountains, mine some rocks. The value of a gift is not in the object itself, after all, but in the effort the gift giver made to deliver it.
Maybe it’s just my material mind talking but I think it would be better to have some really valuable, hard to get gemstones there so that we can go through all the trouble of getting them for Kṛṣṇa? Why should it be easy? Why should service be easy? Isn’t hard effort is an essential part of what it means to render service?
Or maybe stones there appear as gems only when you look at them in a certain way but ordinarily they appear as ordinary sand and stones. As I said – they could be gems but if we only want to use them to make the paths softer then that’s what they would do. This, however, could mean that sand and stones we see in our earthly Vṛndāvana appear as ordinary only because our vision is imperfect, only because we expect to see them as ordinary but to those whose eyes are smeared with love of God they appear as precious as they desire.
Speaking of love of God – is Kṛṣṇa really all that attractive? When He grew up and moved out of Vṛndāvana He appeared as a human to most observers. Very few understood His divine nature. We don’t have a problem with that because He stepped into our world, full of unbelievers. We can walk straight pass Him here and not notice anything special about Him. Okay, but is it any different in Vṛndāvana?
Does everybody there think He is the most attractive being not because He objectively is but because they love Him with their lives and souls? Typically, everyone is His devotee there but there were also brāhmaṇas who refused to give Him and His friends any food. Maybe it was a pastime but they clearly didn’t see His divinity and didn’t think anything special of Him. There are also gopīs husbands who, afaik, do not see Him as their wives lover. The whole idea of sneaking out in the middle of the night rests on husbands not knowing what is going on and not appreciating Kṛṣṇa’s power of attraction.
So, here are two cases when Kṛṣṇa probably personally pulled wool over some devotees’ eyes so that they could not see Him for who He is. They, of course, will always love Him in their own capacity but certain aspects of Kṛṣṇa’s personality would always stay hidden from them. This means what Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī says of Him is true only in her own eyes. Other devotees in different relationships with the Lord do not see Him that way at all. This means that beauty is in the eye of a beholder.
How’s it any different from our world?
Well, we don’t have Kṛṣṇa here who IS absolutely attractive regardless of our imagination. We can become fans of some local celebrity but that would depend on values we project on that person ourselves, up close and personal that celebrity is not as attractive as media makes them to be. We can imagine supreme beauty in some model or actress and by everybody’s account she might be beautiful indeed but it’s also only temporary, pretty soon she would get old and wrinkled and die.
This does not happen with Kṛṣṇa. He IS the basis of our love for Him, it’s not imaginary. He IS the attraction that makes us into His devotees, we do not surrender to our own imaginary idea of God.
Sometimes people make pledges to themselves, like New Year resolutions, for example. These pledges look like surrendering to certain ideas and images. Means people voluntarily agree to forsake some of their interests for the higher goal. “I will not do this because I promise to become that”, they tell themselves, but that is a surrender to their own visions. They can rethink their pledges any time they want, there’s not objective basis behind them.
With Kṛṣṇa it’s different. He IS there, always, and He will never change and He will always remain the most attractive being – that’s the meaning of His name, after all. He wouldn’t be Kṛṣṇa if He wasn’t supremely attractive. This also means that whatever we see as valuable and attractive now will become useless the moment Kṛṣṇa reveals Himself to us. Nothing will appear of any value then. It will be only our Lord and our unstoppable desire to love and serve Him.
Let’s just hope that this moment comes as soon as possible