ISKCON News | What is it Like Living in Mayapur?

( – Once, a friend asked me how it is to live in Mayapur. I answered that it is just like living beside a door that goes to the spiritual world. If we are attentive, we can listen to what is happening on the other side. We sometimes see other devotees crossing the door, and we hope our time to cross will also come.

Many devotees are attracted to living in Mayapur, Vrndavana, and Jagganatha Puri, and that’s because not only spiritual practice is indeed easier in these places. But it is also easier to find good association amongst like-minded devotees. Problems are always there, of course, but one who is properly tuned into the spiritual frequency has all the right tools to surpass them.

Holy places like Vrindavana and Mayapur are places where the reality of the material world and the spiritual world connect. In the Brihad Bhagavatamrta, it is mentioned that this connection exists eternally. Even during the nights of Lord Brahma, when everything in the lower and intermediate planetary systems is destroyed, Mayapur, Vrindavana, and Jagganatha Puri remain, and one who is sincere can take shelter in these places.

Srila Prabhupada explains that just as the holy names are not different from Krsna, the holy places are also not different from Krsna. Because Krsna is absolute, His name, as well as His abode, His paraphernalia, and so on, are of the same spiritual quality and are ultimately non-different from Him. Just like when we chant, we are directly with Krsna; when we live in a holy place, we are also directly living with Him. At this point, the only thing limiting our association with Him is our own material contamination. As it gradually becomes purified by spiritual practice, we gradually have a better understanding of the holy dhama.

Srila Jagannatha Dasa Babaji once said that even an ordinary person who comes to live in a holy place without understanding its significance gradually becomes pious just by breathing the air, drinking the water, and eating the vegetables grown there. So likewise, just as one who goes to a radioactive site is affected by the radiation, even without understanding how it works, anyone who visits a holy place is affected by it, even without understanding its potency.

Centuries ago, Lord Nityanada predicted that a wonderful temple (Adbhuta Mandira) would be erected in Mayapur. From this temple, the service to Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu would spread worldwide. Some believe the temple mentioned is the ToVP, while others believe it is the Yoga Pitha. Still, whatever one’s opinion is, the practical effect is the same: by visiting Mayapur and associating with devotees, people will learn about devotional service and gradually spread it in their cities and villages. Millions of people are coming annually, and this number should grow after the opening of the new temple. We shouldn’t ignore the effect this can have on the world.

It is mentioned that devotional service done in holy places awards results much faster than the same service done in any other place, and this is especially true for Ajnata-sukriti, accidental devotional service done by innocent people without full knowledge. One may visit Mayapur to see the temple or even just out of curiosity. Still, by doing so, one gets great benefit.

Just as sinful activities imperceptibly change our consciousness, leading us to gradually become more degraded, devotional service acts imperceptibly on the opposite side, bringing a person to do more devotional service and thus gradually change his life. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krsna says that he gives remembrance and forgetfulness. Hearing that, one could question why Krsna doesn’t just give everyone remembrance of their eternal position as souls and intelligence so they can go back to Godhead. The answer is that we don’t want it, so Krsna respects our free will. Desire must come first. By visiting a holy place and associating with devotees there, a soul gets this seed of desire for spiritual life. As an answer for it, Krsna gives him progressively more chances to practice and change his life. Everything starts with the association of devotees, and the holy dhama is the place where such association is more really available.

There is, however, also a negative side of holy places, and this is the fact that just as spiritual activities are amplified, offenses to devotees and to the dhama itself and sinful actions willingly performed are also amplified. So this should bring us a little caution about what we do there.

Being the marginal energy of Krsna, we can choose between being under the internal potency of Krsna, Yoga-Maya, or under the material potency, Maha-Maya. Every moment we make this choice, choosing between chanting our rounds or sleeping more, cooking prasadam or eating junk food from the supermarket, going to the temple or a nightclub, and so on. As we make choices, our consciousness becomes tuned to one of the two frequencies.

It’s important to understand that just as holy places are locals where the spiritual frequency is stronger, these are also places where the material frequency is also amplified. As a result, everything becomes more intense, and the choice a soul has to make between the spiritual and material energies becomes even more evident.
It’s like being beside two concurrent radio antennas, each broadcasting at a different frequency. The signal of the spiritual station is stronger, but the signal of the material station is similarly prominent. We can see that many devotees blossom while staying there, while others feel very disturbed. Since everything is amplified, the difference is greater than in other places.

This reality explains why at the same time, there are so many pure devotees living in the holy places, there are also a lot of less-than-ideal things going on. People go to take shelter in holy places, but not all of them tune in to the spiritual frequency. Persons who make the wrong choice may become even more materialistic than people living elsewhere. It’s said that one who commits sins in a holy place takes his next birth as a lower animal, such as a dog, hog, or monkey there. After suffering for some time in this way, he gets the opportunity of going back to Godhead. This is, of course, a path not recommended by our acaryas. Still, it illustrates the potency of the holy places.

Caitanya Chandra Das joined the movement in 1992 in Brazil. After distributing books for several years, he now resides in Mayapur with his family. You can visit his website here or join his Telegram group here.

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