“Images of Home”

Images of Home

An excerpt from the photo book Appreciating New Vrindaban-Dhama:

Imagine a pastoral view from afar, a region from a distant memory. When you first arrive, all you see are trees, meadows, streams, ponds, buildings, fences, a swing, and footpaths. As you gaze upon the peaceful landscape, your mind is gradually drawn into the scene. You are being shown the childhood home of someone you love, though you have forgotten, a person dearer to you than any­one else. The scenery seems somewhat ordinary as you wait with anticipation for your personal guide, who is an intimate friend of the one you hold dear, to relate stories connected with the area.

You are told how your beloved played in the fields to the left, walked down this path to the woods, and enjoyed sitting under a particular tree by the house. You learn that your dear friend ran from a dangerous bull in the barn, chatted happily with his mother in the kitchen, liked to sit in the front room, and was born at the time when the moon was rising, the stars were shining brightly, the Earth was peaceful, and the cows felt happy.

As you hear descriptions of this place, what at first appeared com­monplace has now been transformed, assuming an air of intrigue and fascination. The land feels as dear to you as your beloved. Now, whenever you gaze upon this site, you perceive what few others do; the environment has become infused with loving feelings and mem­ories, as if you have been mystically transported to another realm.

Similarly, in a public gathering where you are a stranger, you may see a person looking about expectantly, waiting for someone to arrive. Surveying the crowd yourself, you see no one out of the ordinary, though there are certainly many interesting, kind, and attractive faces present. Suddenly you see the watchful person’s face light up. He smiles and tears of joy stream down his face.

Try as you may, as you follow his gaze to discover the source of his happiness, you cannot see what he sees, because your eyes are not aware of the love in his heart. The lovers may even be unknown to any others in the area, yet their recognition of each other is spon­taneous, and the transfer of feelings between them is somewhat tangible.

Unless the stranger told you about his special relationship, you would never be able to see how his beloved is so unique. And unless you showed some genuine interest, he would probably be reluctant to relate any specific details, fearing you would not understand, or that you might even unintentionally minimize or hurt his beloved.

So it is too, for those who love God. They live in a different world from those who don’t know Him or feel connected to Him. Lov­ers of God are the expectant witnesses in the crowd – searching for God, His representatives, relatives, and friends. They search everywhere they go, with the same hopeful yearning. Unnotice­able to strangers, the special quality of the Dhama is revealed to these devotees. Due to their deep love, they perceive the Lord’s abodes as being full of wonderful events and unique charm, for the Holy Land reveals the internal nature of our beloved.

Knowing the intimate nuances of any place transforms it from what seems to be an ordinary tract of land into something extraordinary. In this way, by hearing Krishna’s pastimes from pure souls, we may enter the groves of Vrindavan, where beloved Krishna plays, and catch a glimpse, a small taste of the love shared between the Lord and His devotees.