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SRI GOPAL BHATTA GOSWAMI

Page history last edited by Juan Castañeira 10 years, 7 months ago

SRI GOPAL BHATTA GOSWAMI

 

 

The all-merciful Lord Sri Gaura Hari, as He travelled from village to village throughout the south of India, continued to distribute love of Godhead wherever He went. Hearing the nectarean names of Hari from His lotus mouth, thousands and thousands men and women felt relief from the blazing fire of material existence. Various wretched, miserable and fallen souls lives were completely rejuvenated and thus they became virtuous and happy. While causing rains of love of God to fall anywhere and everywhere, without consideration of time or place, Sri Gaurasundara came to the holy place of Sri Rangaksetra. The temple of Sri Rangaksetra was extremely large, the crest of the temple tower pierced the sky. Throughout the day and night hundreds and thousands of pilgrims were going and coming to take darsan of Lord Ranganath. The temple hall resounded with the sounds of hundreds and thousand of brahmanas chanting Vedic hymns. In the midst of this scene from Vaikuntha, entered Sri Gaurasundara chanting the names of Krsna in his sweet voice that defeated the voices of 10 million Gandharvas. Everyone in the temple became dumbstruck, amazed and thrilled with wonder. What unprecedented beauty; His bodily effulgence makes molten gold appear lack-lustre. From His eyes which are like the full blown petals of a lotusflower trickled down tears of ecstatic love. Every limb, every part of His body was filled with such exquisite grace that even the mind of Cupid gets stolen away. The brahmanas began to consider, "Is this a demigod? Can such symptoms and emotions be found in human beings?" Again resounding the halls with the transcendental vibrations of Sri Hari's name, when He came before the Deity and fell down as a tree is blown down by the wind, some people thought that a mountain of gold was rolling on the ground. Sri Vyenkata Bhatta seeing this divine personage became restless with ecstasy. His heart being flooded with devotion he got up and began to move the crowds away so that the Lord could engage in chanting and dancing. When the Lord had regained His external consiousness after engaging in sankirtan, Vyenkata Bhatta approached Him and took the dust of His lotusfeet. Mahaprabhu gazed towards him and saying, "Krsna! Krsna!" embraced him firmly. Sri Vyenkata Bhatta invited Mahaprabhu to come to his house and having brought Him there, very reverently washed His lotus feet and along with the other family members, he drank the water. Sri Bhattaji's house became filled with joy.

 

Mahaprabhu came to Ranga Ksetra in the Christian year 1511. Vyenkata Bhatta had two brothers, Trimalla Bhatta and Prabodhananda Sarasvati. They all belonged to the Ramanuja sampradaya and Prabodhananda Sarasvati was a tridandi sannyasi of that order. Vyenkata Bhatta had a son named Gopal, who was then just a child. When the boy came to offer his obeisances at the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu, He picked him up and very affectionately seated him in His lap. Mahaprabhu would call Gopal after He had finished His meal and offer His remnants to the boy. In this way He prepared him for the positon of Acarya. After remaining at Vyenkata Bhatta's house during the four months of the rainy season (Caturmasya) Mahaprabhu prepared to continue His journey of the South. Vyenkata Bhatta's house began to ebb in a tide of tears in anticipation of His departure. Gopal fell at His lotus feet in a dead faint. Therefore Mahaprabhu remained for a couple of more days in order to console the boy. He instructed him to serve his mother and father and always engage in chanting Krsna's glories and thereafter to come to Vrindavan.

 

Very quickly Gopal became expert in grammar, poetry and rhetoric and then began his study of Vedanta. His uncle Prabodhananda, specifically began to instruct him from the devotional scriptures (Bhakti-sastra).

 

Gopal Bhatta always remained thinking of the lotusfeet of Mahaprabhu and when he might again be able to meet Him. At the same time however he couldn't leave his aged mother and father. Finally having reached their final days they called their son Gopal and instructed him to go to the lotusfeet of Mahaprabhu in Vrindaban. Then while meditating on His lotusfeet themselves they went to join Him in His eternal lila.

 

Thus Gopal set out for Vrindavan and when he arrived there Rupa Gosvami immediately went word to Mahaprabhu to inform Him of Gopal's arrival there.

 

Mahaprabhu had previously indicated to Rupa and Sanatan that Gopal Bhatta would one day come there to Vrindavan, so upon his arrival they treated him with the same care and affection they would their own brother. They immediately became life long companions.

 

When Mahaprabhu received word that Gopal Bhatta had come to Vrindavan, He was very pleased and sent with that messenger a wooden sitting plank which He had used along with a pair of His undergarments and one of His cloths. Having received these gifts Gopal Bhatta was in ecstasy and he worshipped them as the prasad of Mahaprabhu. When he would worship his Deities he would sit on that wooden plank. This piri (wooden seat) and Mahaprabhus clothes are still being worshipped at Radha-Ramana Mandir. Gopala Bhatta, like Rupa and Sanatana, had no fixed residence and would spend the night in various kunjas (forest groves). He spent his time studying the scriptures and composing various literatures.

 

Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami used to worship eleven Saligram-silas. Wherever he would go he would bring them with him in a piece of cloth tied at the corner. One time a rich Seth came to meet Gopala Bhatta to have his darsana. Being very impressed with the Gosvami he wanted to render some service which he presented in the form of some valuable cloths and ornaments.

 

Gopala Bhatta kept the cloths and ornaments with his silas and thought that, "If I had a Deity then I would be able to decorate Him so nicely with these clothes and ornaments." In the evening after offering some bhoga and arotika to his salagram silas, Gopala Bhatta put them to rest, covering them with a wicker basket. Late in the night, Gopala Bhatta took a little rest and then, in the early morning went to take bath in the Yamuna. Returning from his bath, he uncovered the salagramas in order to wake Them, and saw amongst Them a Deity of Krsna playing the flute. There were now eleven silas and this Deity. Floating in the ocean of ecstasy, he fell to the ground in order to offer his dandavats and then recited various prayers and hymns. When Rupa and Sanatana Gosvamis as well as many other devotees received news of this miraculous event they came running to see the Lord. Gazing on the Lord's transcendental form, which bewildered all the living entities of the many various planets, they all bathed Him with their tears. This Deity whom the Gosvamis named, "Sri Radha-Raman Deva" made His appearance on the full moon day of Vaisakha in the year 1542. Except for Vrindadevi, Sri Radha-Ramanaji is the only one of the original Deities of Vrindavana who never left to go to Jaipur. He is still being worshipped in Vrindavana near Nidhuban kunj.

 

Sri Radha-ramana Deva, unlike other Deities, has very intricate features, including fingernails and even teeth. On the back side of His body parts of the original salagram sila from which He manifested Himself can be seen. There is a story that the small son of one of the sevaits was playing with the Deity once and put a small stick in one ear of the Deity and pushed it through out the other ear. The stick however, had blood on it, and that boy died vomiting blood that very day.

 

Once Sri Gopala Bhatta went to Hardwar. As he was returning, suddenly a downpour started and thus he took shelter in the house of one brahmana. This brahmana was very devoted and he very carefully began to serve Sri Gopala Bhatta, who thus became very pleased. As this brahmana had no children Sri Bhattaji blessed him that he might have a son who would be a devoted follower of Lord Hari. The brahman replied that, "My first son I will send to you in order to serve you."

 

Approximately ten years later when Gopala Bhatta returned from bathing in the Yamuna one day, he saw a young boy sitting at the door of his kutir. When the boy saw the Gosvamiji approaching, he got up and then fell down to offer his dandavats. Gopala Bhattaji inquired who the boy was, to which he replied, "My home was in Devandyagram within Saharanpur near Hardwar. My father has sent me here to serve you. My name is Gopinatha."

 

Then Gopal Bhatta could remember the time when he went to Haridwar many years ago. So this boy remained with him and very carefully began to serve him. Eventually he became known as Sri Gopinatha Pujari Gosvami as he served Sri Radha-ramana Deva through his life as a brahmacari. His younger brother Sri Damodara dasa, along with his family, accepted iniation from Sri Gopinathaji and also became engaged in the service of the Deity. Sri Damodara dasa's three sons were named Harinatha, Mathuranatha and Harirama. Sri Gopala Bhatta, in his worship of Sri Radha-ramana would sometimes see that He had taken the form of Sri Gaurasundara. "Becoming subservient to the love of Sri Gopala Bhatta, Sri Radha-ramana would sometimes accept the form of Sri Gaurasundara."

 

Sri Gopala Bhatta was the initiating guru of Srinivasa Acarya Prabhu. He wrote many books including: Sat-sandarbha-karika, Sri-Krsna-vallabha (Krsna-karnamrta-tika), Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, and Laghu Hari-bhakti-vilasa with Dig-darsini-tika. From this work, Sri Sanatana Gosvami compiled the Hari-bhakti-vilasa now followed by Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

 

In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's name in Vraja-lila has been given as Guna manjari.

 

His birth was on the day of the dark fortnight of the month Pausa in the year 1503 (Christian), 1425 (Sakabda).

 

His disappearance was on the sixth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Sravon in the year 1578 (Christian), 1500 (Sakabda).

 

Age: 75 years

 

GOPALA BHATTA GOSWAMI (different version of biography)

 

Gopala Bhatta was born on the third lunar day of the dark fortnight of Pausa (Dec-Jan) 1500 AD. (GPC. states that his birth was in 1503 AD.). His father, Venkata Bhatta was a renowned Vaisnava from the Ramanuja-sampradaya and lived in the village Velagundi of Srirangam, on the bank of the Kaveri river, in the Trichinapalli district. Gopala was one of the "Chaya Gosvami's" and was Anangamanjari in his past incarnation . Some argue he was Gunamanjari (Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika). During his pilgrimage of Sri Ranga-ksetra in South India, Lord Caitanya lived at the house of Venkata Bhatta while observing His vow of Caturmasya in 1511 AD.

 

When Lord Caitanya arrived the house of Venkata, Gopala, who was only a child of eight years, offered his obeisances at the feet of the Lord. Lord Caitanya picked Gopala up, placed him on His lap, and fondled him lovingly. Later, the Lord called Gopala and gave him the remnants of food left from His plate. During Lord Caitanya's stay at their house, Gopala served Him regularly.

 

As Venkata was a Vaisnava belonging to the Ramanuja-sampradaya, he worshipped the Deity of Laksmi Narayana. His pure devotional service to the deities was very pleasing to Lord Caitanya. Being in constant association with one another, Lord Caitanya and Venkata gradually developed a friendly relationship. Indeed sometimes they use to joke and laugh together. For example, Lord Caitanya told Venkata, "Your worshipful goddess of fortune, Laksmi, who always remains on the chest of Narayana, is certainly the most chaste woman in the creation. How is it that she wants to associate with my Lord, Lord Krsna, a cowherd boy, who is engaged in tending cows?"

 

Venkata replied, "According to transcendental realization, there is no difference between the forms of Narayana and Krsna. Yet in Krsna there is a special transcendental attraction due to the conjugal mellow, and consequently He surpasses Narayana. Mother Laksmi considered that her vow of chastity would not be damaged by her relationship with Krsna. Rather, it was in great fun that Laksmi wanted to associate with Krsna. Why are you joking so much about this?"

 

The Lord said, "But can you tell me why goddess Laksmi, who for a long time accepted vows and regulative principles and performed unlimited austerities, could not enter the rasa dance? The authorities of Vedic knowledge (Sruti) could attain Krsna through practice of tapasya?"

 

Venkata replied, "I am an ordinary human being. Since my intelligence is very limited, my mind cannot enter within the deep ocean of pastimes of the Lord. You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna Himself. You know the purpose of Your activities, and the person whom you enlighten can also understand your pastimes." (CC. 2.9)

 

The Lord said, "Krsna has a specific characteristic; He attracts everyone's heart by the mellow of His personal conjugal love. By following in the footsteps of the inhabitants of the planet known as Vrajaloka, or Goloka Vrndavana, one can attain the shelter of the lotus feet of Sri Krsna. However, these Vrajavasi's do not know that Lord Krsna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Rather, they know Krsna as the son of the king of Vrajabhumi, and consider that there cannot be any relationship with the Lord in the rasa of opulence.

 

There at Vrajabhumi someone accepts Him as a son, while someone else treats Him as an intimate friend. The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, the son of mother Yasoda, is accessible to those devotees engaged in spontaneous loving service, but He is not easily accessible to mental speculators, to those striving for self-realization by severe austerity and penance, or to those who consider the body to be the same as the self. Lord Krsna belongs to a cowherd community, and the gopis are the dearmost lovers of Krsna. Although the wives of the denizens of the heavenly planets are most opulent within the material world, neither they nor any other women in the material universe can acquire Krsna's association. Goddess Laksmi wanted to enjoy Krsna and at the same time retain her spiritual body in the form of Laksmi. She, however, did not follow in the footsteps of the gopis in her worship of Krsna. According to the verse composed by Vyasadeva, the supreme authority on Vedic literature, no one can enter into the rasa-lila dance in any form other than the bodies of the gopis. On the other hand, the authorities of Vedic literature known as sruti-gana worshipped Lord Krsna in the ecstasy of the gopis and followed in their footsteps. They acquired bodies like those of gopis and took birth in Vrajabhumi. In those bodies they were allowed to enter the rasa-lila dance.

 

The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna, attracts the mind of goddess Laksmi, but Lord Narayana cannot attract the minds of the gopis. This proves the super-excellence of Krsna. To say nothing of Lord Narayana personally, Lord Krsna Himself appeared as Narayana just to play jokes on the gopis, but failed to attract the serious attention of the gopis in ecstatic love.

 

Once Lord Krsna playfully manifested Himself as Narayana with four victorious hands and a beautiful form. When the gopis saw this exalted form, their ecstatic feeling abated, and they paid their humble obeisances to Lord Narayana. Later, when Sri Radha arrived on the scene and looked at the form of Narayana, Lord Krsna revealed Himself.

 

A learned scholar, therefore, cannot understand the gopi's ecstatic feelings which are firmly centered upon the original form of Lord Krsna as the son of Nanda Maharaja. The wonderful feelings of the gopis in ecstatic parama-rasa with Krsna constitute the greatest mystery of spiritual life. There is no difference between Lord Krsna and Lord Narayana for They are the same form. Similarly, there is no difference between the gopis and the goddess Laksmi, for they are also the same form.

 

Goddess Laksmi enjoys the association of Krsna through the gopis. One should never make a distinction between the forms of the Lord, for such conceptualizing is offensive."

 

Venkata then said, "Out of your causeless mercy you have told me of the glories of Lord Krsna. No one can reach the end of the opulence, qualities, and forms of the Lord." After saying this, Venkata Bhatta fell down before the lotus feet of the Lord, and the Lord, out of His causeless mercy, embraced him."

 

When the period of Caturmasya was completed, Lord Caitanya took permission to leave Venkata Bhatta. At that moment the members of Venkata's family, thinking of being separated from the Lord, began to cry, while Gopala fell down unconscious at the feet of Lord Caitanya. The Lord instructed Gopala to stay at home for the time being to look after his parents, and advised him to go to Vrndavana after sometime.

 

Gopala began to study Vyakarana-kavya, Alamkara, and Vedanta, within a short time he became an expert in the said sastras. He also acquired knowledge of Bhakti-sastra under his uncle Prabodhananda Sarasvati. (Bhakti-ratnakara first wave)

 

Gopala concentrated his mind remembering the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya, patiently waiting for the time when he would be free to go to Vrndavana, at the same time nursing his aged parents as commanded by the Lord. He did not have to wait very long, as his parents had reached the last stage of their lives. One day they called Gopala and said, "After our disappearance you should go to Vrndavana and take refuge under the lotus feet of Lord Caitanya." Soon thereafter, Gopala's parents passed away remembering the lotus feet of the Lord upto the very last moment. (Bhakti-ratnakara first wave). At last Gopala was freed from material encumbrances and departed for Vrndavana.

 

On his arrival there, Gopala stayed with Rupa and Sanatana, who had already heard about him from Lord Caitanya. Rupa Gosvami sent a messenger to Puri to inform Lord Caitanya of Gopala's arrival. Meanwhile, they treated Gopala as their own brother, and very soon a relationship of love and intimacy developed between them.

 

Upon receiving the message at Puri, Lord Caitanya was delighted and told the devotees there about Gopala. The Lord then sent a messenger with a reply to Rupa, along with his personal brahmana thread, kaupina, and an outer-garment for Gopala. (GVA mentions that apart from a holy thread and a kaupina, a blackish colored wooden seat were given by Lord Caitanya for Gopala, which are still preserved in the temple of Radharamana at Vrndavana and regularly worshipped). Gopala accepted the items as the Lord's kripa-prasada and began to follow the instructions for him conveyed through the Lord's letter to Rupa. Gopala was, like Rupa and Sanatana, a homeless person. He would spend night at various groves and study religious books or do his writing work.

 

Once Gopala Bhatta went on a welfare visit to a village called Devavandya in Sharanpur district. One afternoon he was held up due to an unexpected rain and took shelter in the house of a local brahmana who was a childless devotee. Being very pleased with the cordial reception offered by the brahmana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami showered his blessings upon the brahmana and said that he would soon beget a devout son. The brahmana reciprocated by making a commitment that he would offer his first son for the seva of Gopala Bhatta.

 

On his way back to Vrndavana, Gopala collected twelve salagrama's from the bed of the river Gandaki. Gopala worshiped the twelve stones and carried them from place to place with him in a cloth-bag. Eventually he began to feel a longing to worship a deity. Around the same time a wealthy businessman came for darsana of Gopala Bhatta, and being very satisfied, left behind many gifts including ornaments and clothing as an offering to the Lord. Gopala placed all the items before his salagrama stones and in the evening performed routine arati. After practicing bhajan till the late hours of the night, Gopala put his salagrama's to rest for the night, placing a basket over the twelve stones. The next morning, to his amazement, he found that his long cherished desire had been fulfilled; one of the salagrama's had taken the form of Lord Krsna; standing and playing His flute. This deity came to be known as the famous Radharamana vigraha of Vrndavana. (According to information recorded in Anuragavalli pp 14, Rupa Gosvami had been associated with the appearance of Radharamana.)

 

Ten years passed, then one day at noon, when Gopala Bhatta was returning to his bhajan kutir after taking bath in the Jamuna, he saw that a child was seated near the entrance of the kutir. Upon seeing Gopala Bhatta, the child got up and paid his humble obeisances to Gopala, lying prostrate on the ground. When questioned, the child explained that he had come from Devavandya village in the district of Saharanpur. He stated further that his name was Gopala and his father had sent him to serve Gopala Bhatta. Gopala Bhatta then remembered the past incident and took the child in as his own sevaka. In later years the child came to be known as Gopinatha Pujari Gosvami. He dedicated his bachelor life to the service of the Deity Radharamana.]

 

Srinivasa Acarya received diksa from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. He passed away on the fifth lunar day of the light fortnight of Asada (June-July) 1585 AD. His samadhi is located behind the Radharamana temple in Vrndavana.

 

The following are the works of Gopala Bhatta:

 

1. A treatise on smrti entitled Sri Hari Bhakti Vilasa; some argue that the book was actually compiled by Sanatana Gosvami (Bhakti-ratnakara 1.19-98) 2. Padas 1019, 2834, 2967, and sloka 38 have been included within Padakalpataru.

3. A tika entitled Sri Krsnavallabha on Sri Krsnakarnamrta by Karnapura. (Bhakti-ratnakara 1.228, Anuragavalli and Sadhanadipika pp 257)

4. A book of verse based on Sat-sandarbha by Jiva Gosvami.

 

 

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