It was not essential for Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to go to Vṛndāvana, for wherever He stayed was immediately converted to Vṛndāvana. Indeed, at that place were also the river Ganges, the river Yamunā and all other places of pilgrimage. This was also expressed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself when He danced in the Ratha-yātrā. At that time He said that His very mind was Vṛndāvana (mora-mana—vṛndāvana). Because His mind was Vṛndāvana, all the pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa were taking place within Himself. Nonetheless, just to teach people, He visited bhauma-vṛndāvana, Vṛndāvana-dhāma in this material world. In this way the Lord instructed everyone to visit Vṛndāvana-dhāma, which is a very holy place.
Materialists consider Vṛndāvana-dhāma an unclean city because there are many monkeys and dogs there, and along the bank of the Yamunā there is refuse. Some time ago, a materialistic man asked me, “Why are you living in Vṛndāvana? Why have you selected such a dirty place to live after retiring?” Such a person cannot understand that the earthly Vṛndāvana-dhāma is always a representation of the original Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Consequently Vṛndāvana-dhāma is as worshipable as Lord Kṛṣṇa. Ārādhyo bhagavān vrajeśa-tanayas tad-dhāma vṛndāvanam: according to Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s philosophy, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa and His abode, Vṛndāvana, are equally worshipable. Sometimes materialistic people who have no spiritual understanding go to Vṛndāvana as tourists. One who goes to Vṛndāvana with such materialistic vision cannot derive any spiritual benefit. Such a person is not convinced that Kṛṣṇa and Vṛndāvana are identical. Since they are identical, Vṛndāvana is as worshipable as Lord Kṛṣṇa. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s vision (mora-mana—vṛndāvana) is different from the vision of an ordinary materialistic person. At the Ratha-yātrā festival, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, absorbed in the ecstasy of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, dragged Lord Kṛṣṇa back to Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu spoke of this in the verses beginning āhuś ca te (CC Madhya 13.136).
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (SB 10.84.13) it is stated:
- yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke
- sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ
- yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij
- janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ
“A human being who identifies the body made of three elements with his self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of birth as worshipable, and who goes to a place of pilgrimage simply to take a bath rather than meet men of transcendental knowledge there is to be considered like an ass or a cow.” Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally renovated Vṛndāvana-dhāma and advised His chief disciples, Rūpa and Sanātana, to develop it and open it to attract the spiritual vision of the general populace. At present there are about five thousand temples in Vṛndāvana, and still our society, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, is constructing a huge, magnificent temple for the worship of Lord Kṛṣṇa and Lord Balarāma, along with Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Guru-Gaurāṅga. Since there is no prominent Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple in Vṛndāvana, we are attempting to construct one so that people will be attracted to Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma, or Nitāi-Gauracandra. Vrajendra-nandana yei, śacī suta haila sei. Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura says that Balarāma and the son of Mahārāja Nanda have advented Themselves as Gaura-Nitāi. To propagate this fundamental principle, we are establishing a Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple to broadcast to the world that worship of Gaura-Nitāi is the same as worship of Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma.
Although it is very difficult to enter into the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa pastimes, most of the devotees of Vṛndāvana are attracted to the rādhā-kṛṣṇa-līlā. However, since Nitāi-Gauracandra are direct incarnations of Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa, we can be directly in touch with Lord Balarāma and Lord Kṛṣṇa through Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu and Nityānanda Prabhu. Those who are highly elevated in Kṛṣṇa consciousness can enter into the pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa through the mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. It is said, śrī-kṛṣṇa-caitanya rādhā-kṛṣṇa nahe anya: “Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu is a combination of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.” Sometimes materialists, forgetting the pastimes of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma, go to Vṛndāvana, accept the land’s spiritual facilities and engage in material activity. This is against the teachings of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The prākṛta-sahajiyās proclaim themselves vraja-vāsīs or dhāma-vāsīs, but they are mainly engaged in sense gratification. Thus they become more and more implicated in the materialistic way of life. Those who are pure devotees in Kṛṣṇa consciousness condemn their activities. The eternal vraja-vāsīs like Svarūpa Dāmodara did not even come to Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Śrī Puṇḍarīka Vidyānidhi, Śrī Haridāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita, Śivānanda Sena, Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya, Śrī Śikhi Māhiti, Śrī Mādhavīdevī and Śrī Gadādhara Paṇḍita Gosvāmī never visited Vṛndāvana-dhāma. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura points out that we have no authorized documents stating that these exalted personalities visited Vṛndāvana. Nonetheless, we find many nondevotees, Māyāvādī sannyāsīs, prākṛta-sahajiyās, fruitive workers, mental speculators and many others with material motives going to Vṛndāvana to live. Many of these people go there to solve their economic problems by becoming beggars. Although anyone living in Vṛndāvana somehow or other is benefited, the real Vṛndāvana is appreciated only by a pure devotee. As stated in the Brahma-saṁhitā, premāñjana-cchurita-bhakti-vilocanena (BS 5.38). When one has purified eyes, he can see that Śrī Vṛndāvana and the original Goloka Vṛndāvana planet in the spiritual sky are identical.
Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura, Śrīnivāsa Ācārya, Śrīla Jagannātha dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, Śrī Bhagavān dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja and Śrīla Gaurakiśora dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja, and later Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura of Calcutta, always engaged in nāma-bhajana and certainly did not live anywhere but Vṛndāvana. Presently, the members of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement throughout the world live in materially opulent cities, such as London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Moscow, Zurich and Stockholm. However, we are satisfied with following in the footsteps of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and other ācāryas. Because we live in the temples of Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and continuously hold hari-nāma-saṅkīrtana—the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa—we consequently live in Vṛndāvana and nowhere else. We are also following in the footsteps of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu by attempting to construct a temple in Vṛndāvana for our disciples throughout the world to visit.