People have heart attacks in Vrindavana - not just physical, but spiritual ones too. Holy places ooze with a divine influence that overthrows material consciousness and inexplicably ushers one towards transcendence. You may have seen the t-shirt – “I lost my heart in Vrindavana.” The illustrious Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakur reveals the phenomena:
"Krishna instigated a terrible act of thievery in Vrindavana when He played on His flute. The song of His flute entered through the ears of the gopis, into the inner treasure chamber of their hearts. That wonderful music stole all their most valuable possessions - their sobriety, shyness, fear and discrimination, along with their very minds - and in a split second this music delivered all these goods to Krishna. Now each gopi went to beg the Lord to return her personal property, thinking 'I have to capture that great thief'”
Today we leave Vrindavana. If I’m honest, I don’t think I got the t-shirt. Looks like this stubborn, steel-framed heart is flying back to London with me. What to do? Good news is that some sacred impressions have definitely seeped through. Though I didn’t lose my heart in Vrindavana, maybe some of the Vrindavana spirit entered the heart. Something to take back – a valuable consolation prize. My material defences blocked out a heart attack, but I think there was still a heart attract.
On the day I landed here I read something hope-giving: “easier than thinking your way into a new way of acting, is to act your way into a new way of thinking.” So I arrived as an actor, lived amongst the residents of this land, praying that their saintliness would rub off on me. May I internalise the renunciation of the asectics, the simple devotion of the white-saried widows, the innocence of the playful children, the spiritual greed of the eager pilgrims and the determination of the devotees.
Most of all, may I absorb the meditation of Srila Prabhupada, who prayed, planned and prepared himself in this holy land. He left Vrindavana, to invite the whole world back. I hope I’ll come back again too. I hope I’ll come back a better devotee. I hope I’ll have some useful report for Srila Prabhupada next time, who may well ask – “what did you do to remind the world about Vrindavana, the eternal playground of God?”