In a previous article, we examined how Goloka is beyond Vaikuṇṭha. Here we will see how the present Śrī Vṛndāvana on earth is beyond all Vaikuṇṭhas.
Vṛndāvana is beyond Vaikuṇṭha
It is well known that Śrī Kṛṣṇa appeared in Śrī Vṛndāvana in modern day Uttar Pradesh in India. Śrī Jīva offers the following nyāya –
yatra yatra hareḥ sthānaṁ vaikuṇṭhaṁ tad vidur budhā
wherever Hari is present, that place is known as Vaikuṇṭha by the wise
from this, we can immediately conclude that the Śrī Vṛndāvana in modern day Uttar Pradesh is Vaikuṇṭha! He offers another nyāya –
yā yathā bhuvi vartante puryo bhagavataḥ priyāḥ
tās tathā santi vaikuṇṭhe tat-tal-līlārtham ādṛtāḥ
All the cities existing on earth that are dear to Bhagavān [Śrī Kṛṣṇa] are present in Vaikuṇṭha in corresponding manner, where they are honored on account of the respective pastimes that He performs therein. (Skanda Purāṇa)
That is, Śrī Vṛndāvana of which Gokula is a part, is also present in Vaikuṇṭha in exact correspondence to its current form. It is therefore concluded that the Śrī Vṛndāvana on earth is beyond Vaikuṇṭha. Śrī Jīva does not stop there. He cites different pramāṇas to establish this point. For example, he cites the following verse from the Padma Purāṇa –
evaṁ sapta-purīṇāṁ tu sarvotkṛṣṭaṁ ca māthuram
śrūyatāṁ mahimā devi vaikuṇṭho bhuvanottamaḥ
In this way, among the seven purīs , Mathurā is topmost. O Devī, hear the glory of this place, the best of Vaikuṇṭhas.
and another verse –
aho madhu-purī dhanyā vaikuṇṭhāc ca garīyasī
Mathurā is indeed blessed, for it is superior even to Vaikuṇṭha
Here, Mathurā (inclusive of Vṛndāvana) is explicitly called the best of the Vaikuṇṭhas, and superior to all other Vaikuṇṭhas.
The Śrī Kṛṣṇa Upaniṣad states this about Vṛndāvana proving its transcendence-
Gokula is the forested Vaikuṇṭha
What is the relation between Goloka and Vṛndāvana? Śrī Jīva Goswami explains in Anuchheda 116 that Goloka is is one type of prakāśa of Śrī Vṛndāvana which is never manifest on earth. Vṛndāvana, on the other hand, is the place where both the manifest and unmanifest līlās occur. So while Goloka and Vṛndāvana are used interchangeably, Goloka is generally reserved only for the unmanifest līlās.
- Śrī Kṛṣṇa is Svayaṁ Bhagavān, and so His abode is the topmost Vaikuṇṭha, beyond all other Vaikuṇṭhas.
- Śrī Vṛndāvana is His abode which is sometimes manifests on earth.
- Śrī Goloka is one type of prakāśa of Śrī Vṛndāvana. It is never manifest on earth.