Gopinath: the Lord of the Braj Gopis

One of the Saptadevalyas (seven ancient temples) of Vrindavan, Shri Gopinath Mandir was founded by Madhu Pandit whose glories are sung in the Bhakti Ratnakar. His Samadhi is found near the temple courtyard.

Vrindavan, 2020-10-29 (VT): On Day 3 of Braj Darshan with Vrindavan Today, we seek the blessings of Shri Radha Gopinath.

 ​श्रीमान् रासरसारम्भी वंशीवट तटस्थितः।

कर्षन् वेणुस्वनैर्गोपीर्गोपीनाथः श्रियेऽस्तुनः।।

Shri Gopinath is the origin of all rasas. Standing at Vamsi Vat, He plays His enchanting flute to attract the gopis. May the contemplation of this beautiful Lila bless us!

From Keshi Ghat it is a ten-minute walk through Gopinath Bazar (past a tiny and rare old temple to Shitala, that four-handed goddess of smallpox whose mount is a mule) to the famous Radha-Gopinath temple. The almost pyramidal shape of its ancient red sandstone dome serves to guide us as it stands slightly higher than the surrounding dwellings which all but obscure the ancient rich architecture.

Original deity of Shri Gopinath ji, residing at Jaipur

One of the Saptadevalyas (seven ancient temples) of Vrindavan, Shri Gopinath Mandir was founded by Madhu Pandit whose glories are sung in the Bhakti Ratnakar. His Samadhi is found near the temple courtyard. Madhu Pandit was the disciple of Shri Gadadhar Goswami who came from Nabadwip to Vrindavan in search of Krishna. Here he started living under the tutelage of Shri Paramananda Bhattacharya.

There are two different accounts of the appearance of Shri Gopinath who was first worshipped at Vamsi Vat. According to one of them, He manifested to Paramananda Bhattacharya while the other talks of His appearance to Madhu Pandit who served the deity for 40 years in his hut. Later Raja Raesaal Shekhawat (Rae shilji) of Jaipur arranged for the construction of the present red sandstone temple for Him, sometime after Emperor Akbar’s Braj visit in 1573 AD. During Aurangzeb’s wrathful reign, the original Deity was moved to Jaipur and a Prati-bhuh murti was installed in its place.

​गोपीनाथावतारो स्थानमथुरायां विराजिताः।

Presiding deity of Shri Gopinath ji in Vrindavan

दशवर्षमवस्थायां चतुः षष्ठि कलान्वितः।।

दशवर्षावतारश्च गोपीनाथाभिधानतः।

राज सेवाभिधानशच ललिता राधपान्वितः।। (ब्रह्मवैवर्त पुराण)

It is stated in the Brahmvaivarta Puran that Shri Gopinath resides in Mathura along with Shri Radha and Lalita as the ever playful ten-year-old adorned with all sixteen kalas (divine attributes)

Once Maa Jahnava, the wife of Shri Nityananda Prabhu, came to Vrindavan and had the darshan of Lord Gopinath ji. Much later after her disappearance, a messenger arrived in Vrindavan from Jahnava‘s native Bengal bearing with him a murti of Jahanva which he said had appeared by divine wish. He made his way to the temple of Radha Gopinath.

In a dream that night Lord Gopinath appeared to the temple pujari saying that Jahanva is none other than Gopi Anangamanjari. On the Lord’s behest Shri Radha Rani was moved to the right of Thakur ji, and Jahanva was placed on His left. On Radha’s right is the Sakhi Vishveshwari. This is the reason given for the unusual placement of the deities at the new Radha-Gopinath Mandir. A grand festival is observed in veneration of Jahnava Devi every year.

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