<< 4 Living in Vrindavan >>

Gāndharvikā Giridhārī: When we arrived in Vṛndāvana in November 1993, we visited many temples. From the very beginning, the Gosvāmīs in charge of those temples took notice of Vraja Līlā, and she became the object of their affection. This was especially true at the Rādhā-Dāmodara and Imli Tāla temples. On our first visit to Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, the head Gosvāmī there invited us to take prasādam. I told him that Vraja Līlā had come to Vṛndāvana to leave her body. He was very impressed by this and said he would pray to Rādhā-Dāmodara for her every day.

“Pure devotional service in Kṛṣṇa consciousness cannot be had even by pious activity in hundreds and thousands of lives. It can be obtained only by paying one price—that is intense greed to obtain it. If it is available somewhere, one must purchase it without delay.”
[Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī Padyāvalī 14]

The head Gosvāmī at Imli Tāla was also very kind to her. Once she came there while they were holding an initiation ceremony. The Gosvāmī announced to everyone attending that everything was auspicious because a representative of ISKCON was present.

Vraja Līlā would often visit the Deities in the Vṛndāvana temples. At one point I noticed that although she didn’t have any money, she was always bringing the Deities sweets and garlands. I asked her where she was getting the money for this from. She replied. “I often find money on the road when going to visit the temple. and I use it to buy presents for the Lord.”

She was always eager to go on any parikramā, but her greatest anxiety was that due to her poor health she was unable to do Govardhana parikramā. She would visit Rādhā-kuṇḍa whenever she would. Her favorite places there were the samādhi of Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī and the bhajana kutir of Lord Caitanya. She was always in a prayerful mood while visiting these places. She regularly visited the samādhis of the six Gosvāmīs and prayed for their mercy. She knew their life stories by heart.

Her favorite Deities were, of course, Rādhā-Śyāmasundara at our Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple, and she would spend many hours a day chanting her rounds in front of Them. She loved the last darśana at night, where the pūjārīs distribute the Deities’ garlands. She often said that the Deities were most merciful to the last visitors. And whenever she received any mahā-prasādam from Rādhā-Śyāmasundara, or any other Deities for that matter, she would always share it with others, no matter how small a portion it was.

Śrīla Gurudeva had asked His Holiness Bhakti Bṛnga Govinda Mahārāja to help Vraja Līlā in her spiritual life when we came to Vṛndāvana, so she always accepted his instructions as if they were given by her own Guru Mahārāja. She was very attached to Govinda Mahārāja and appreciative of his care and spiritual guidance. Several months before she passed away, Govinda Mahārāja gave her a beautiful Govardhana-śilā. He personally went to Govardhana Hill to get Him and bought all the silver paraphernalia for His worship.

Vraja Līlā was a talented artist. Upon our arrival in Vṛndāvana, she was commissioned by Pārvatī dāsī to do a painting for Pārvatī’s children’s book of Krsna’s pastimes. Pārvatī requested Vraja Līlā to do a painting of Kṛṣṇa waking up in the morning in Dvārakā with Rukmiṇī by His side. Vraja Līlā started this painting, but never completed it.

Sometimes I would become angry with her. She often neglected her personal needs and was dependent upon her superiors like a child. I had to provide everything for her: her place to stay, her food to eat, her art supplies and her clothing. I sometimes wondered where her mind was, but I actually knew that her mind was simply filled with devotional topics. Her endless questions about devotional service in her sincere attempt to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness amazed me.

One morning she related to me a humorous dream which she had had the night before. For me it was indicative of how much she was always absorbed in thinking of Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma. She dreamt that she took three births in Vṛndāvana. The first one was as a donkey. She told how as a donkey she was searching for clumps of grass here and there in the dust of Vṛndāvana. At one point she ate some bad grass and died. Her next birth in the dream was as a puppy. She saw herself wandering the streets of the holy dhāma until she was killed by a rickshaw. When she gave up that body she took birth as a cow and was roaming around Vraja. When she came to Govardhana Hill she stopped short of stepping on the sacred hill, knowing that it was very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa. Then she began circumambulating Govardhana Hill in her cow’s body. Half-way through the parikramā she gave up that body. I asked her, “What birth did you take then?” She just laughed and replied, “That was the end of the dream.”

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