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Gopala Bhatta Goswami

Post by: 05/10/2017 0 comments 83 views

INTRODUCTION

Gopala Bhatta Goswami (1503–1578) is one of the foremost disciples of the Vaishnava saint, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and a leading historical figure in the Gaudiya Vaishnava school of Hinduism. He was part of a group of Vaishnava devotees known collectively as the Six Goswamis of Vrindavan, who were influential in establishing the philosophical basis of the Gaudiya tradition in formalized writings.

Background

According to biographies such as the Bhakti Ratnakara Gopal Bhatta’s first meeting with Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was in 1510 during Mahaprabhu’s tour of South India. Although of a young age he was given the opportunity to meet with Chaitanya and serve him over a number of months. Such was his love for the saint, that when Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was about to leave, Gopala Bhatta became upset, and for Gopala Bhatta’s sake, Chaitanya then agreed to stay a few more days.

According to Gaudiya tradition, it was during this time that Gopala Bhatta had a spiritual vision in which Chaitanya Mahaprabhu revealed Himself as an avatar of Krishna, the supreme God. In the vision, Krishna then told him that in the town of Vrindavan he would meet with two devotees, namely Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami who would instruct him in the finer details of devotional service (bhakti).

When Gopala Bhatta awoke from the experience, he wanted to leave for Vrindavan at once, however, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told him to stay and serve his parents. After Chaitanya’s departure, Gopal Bhatta took guidance from his uncle Prabhodananda Sarasvati. Gopal Bhatta took care of his parents into their old age, and then after they died he then traveled to Vrindavana. There he met Rupa and Sanatana who accepted him as a brother. Gopal Bhatta later helped Sanatana compile the book Hari Bhakti Vilasa, the authorized book explaining the ritual and devotional practices of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya. He also wrote Sat-kriya-dipika and the outline for Shri Jiva Goswami’s Sat Sandarbhas.

He eternally serves Shrimati Radharani as one of Her asta manjaris, Guna-manjari. His samadhi is within Radha Ramanaji’s Temple compound behind the appearance place of the Deity. Shri Gopala Bhatta Goswami initiated Gopinatha (Pujari Goswami), a lifelong brahmachari who served Radha Ramanaji for his whole life. Gopala Bhatta Goswami initiated Shrinivasa Acharya and many other stalwart Vaishnavas.

Vrindavan

Gopala Bhatta studied rhetoric, poetry, Vedanta, and Sanskrit grammar from his uncle Prabodhananda Sarasvati. After the passing of his parents he went to Vrindavan, where he met both Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis as had purportedly been instructed in his vision.

When Lord Chaitanya discovered that Gopala Bhatta was in Vrindavan, he was extremely pleased and sent some of his personal belongings to Gopala Bhatta, who worshiped them. Mahaprabhu also sent a letter instructing Gopala Bhatta to help Rupa and Sanatana compile Vaishnava literature. Gopala Bhatta accepted this instruction as his life and soul, and he later also engaged his disciple Srinivasa Acarya in carrying the writings to Bengal. Gopala Bhatta established the Radha Raman Temple in Vrindavan in 1542, his samadhi also exists within the temple complex.

Bhakti yoga

Bhakti yoga, also called Bhakti marga (literally the path of Bhakti), is a spiritual path or spiritual practice within Hinduism focused on loving devotion towards a personal god. It is one of the paths in the spiritual practices of Hindus, others being Jnana yoga and Karma yoga. The tradition has ancient roots. Bhakti is mentioned the Shvetashvatara Upanishad where it simply means participation, devotion and love for any endeavor. Bhakti yoga as one of three spiritual paths for salvation is discussed in depth by the Bhagavad Gita.

The personal god varies with the devotee. It may include a god or goddess such as Ganesha, Krishna, Radha, Rama, Sita, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Shiva, Parvati, Durga among others.

The Bhakti marga involving these deities grew with the Bhakti Movement, starting about the mid-1st millennium CE, from Tamil Nadu in South India. The movement was led by the Saiva Nayanars and the Vaisnava Alvars. Their ideas and practices inspired bhakti poetry and devotion throughout India over the 12th-18th century CE. Bhakti marga is a part of the religious practice in Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism.

Hare Krishna (mantra)

The Hare Krishna mantra, also referred to reverentially as the Maha Mantra (“Great Mantra”), is a 16 word Vaishnava mantra which is mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad, and which from the 15th century rose to importance in the Bhakti movement following the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This Mantra is composed of three Sanskrit names of the Supreme Being; “Hare,” “Krishna,” and “Rama.”

According to Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, one’s original consciousness and goal of life is pure love of God (Krishna). Since the 1960s, the mantra has been made well known outside of India by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and his International Society for Krishna Consciousness (commonly known as “the Hare Krishnas”).

Gopala Bhatta Goswami – Biography

ananga-manjari yasit sadya gopala-bhattakah
bhatta-gosvaminam kecit ahuh sri-guna-manjari
She who was formerly Ananga Manjari has appeared to enrich Mahaprabhu’s pastimes as Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami. Some say that Gopal Bhatta is actually Guna Manjari.

Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami appeared in 1500 AD (though, according to some authorities, he was born in 1503) as the son of Venkata Bhatta in the town of Shrirangam in South India. Their residence was in a village not far from Shrirangam called Belagundi.

According to Narahari in the Bhakti-ratnakara, Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was given a vision in a dream by Mahaprabhu in which he was fortunate enough to witness all the Lord’s Navadwip pastimes. An eternal associate of Krishna, he appeared in a faraway place in order to participate in Lord Gauranga’s pastimes. Even so, he was able to know long before he even saw him that the Lord had appeared and taken sannyas. Gopal Bhatta did not particularly like the Lord’s appearance as a sannyasi. He was distressed and crying alone when the Lord appeared to him and gave him the dream vision of his Navadwip lila. In this vision, the Lord was overwhelmed by ecstatic love, embraced him and drenched him in his tears.

Having said this to Gopal, the Lord embraced him and drenched him in his tears. He then told him to keep all these experiences secret, and Gopal felt great joy in his mind.

Through the power of Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s merciful association, Venkata Bhatta, his brother Prabodhananda Saraswati, his son Gopal Bhatta Goswami, and all the other members of his family, were inspired to give up the worship of Lakshmi-Narayan and became engaged in the exclusive devotional service of Radha and Krishna. Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami took initiation from his uncle, Tridandi Yati Shrimat Prabodhananda Saraswati. Proof of this is found in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa:

bhakter vilasams cinute prabodha-
nandasya sisyo bhagavat-priyasya
gopala-bhatto raghunatha-dasam
santosayan rupa-sanatanau ca

Shri Shri Radha Ramana

When Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami was visiting the pilgrimage centres of northern India, he found a Shalagrama Shila on the banks of the Gandaki River. He took the worshipable stone and carried it with him wherever he went, treating it as Vrajendranandana Krishna Himself. One day he thought that he would like to worship the Lord in a Deity form so that he could expand his service. On the very next day, he found that the Shalagrama Shila had transformed itself into Radha Ramana to fulfill the wish of His Devotee. This Deity stands alone without any form of Radha standing by His side. Instead, as a symbol of Radharani, a silver crown is placed on His left side.

The story is also told in the following way. It is said that Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami used to daily worship twelve Shalagramas. He developed a desire to serve the Lord in the form of a Deity, thinking that in this way he would be able to worship Him in a much better way. The Lord within his heart knew his feelings and through a rich merchant had many beautiful items used in the worship of the Deity, such as ornaments and clothes, sent to him. Gopal began to worry that all these beautiful objects would be wasted because there was no way that he could use them unless he had a Deity in human form. That night, he put the Shalagramas to rest and in the morning he saw that one of Them had been transformed into the Radha Ramana Deity. When Rupa and Sanatan heard that Krishna had so mercifully appeared to Gopal Bhatta, they immediately came with the other Devotees for darshan, and when they saw him, they were ecstatic with love. The annual festival commemorating Radha Ramana’s appearance, when he is bathed publicly, takes place on the full moon day of Vaishakh. The Radha Ramana Temple is considered one of the most important in Vrindavan.

Shrila Gopal Bhatta Goswami ended his earthly pastimes on the Krishna Panchami of Asarh of 1507 of the Saka era (1585 AD). His samadhi Temple is behind the current Radha Ramana Temple. By reading Shrinivas Acharya’s hymn to the Six Goswamis, Sad-gosvamy-astaka, we can understand their glories.

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