Vamsivat & Gopeshwar: Highly venerated by the Brajwasis
2021.11.17 (Vrindavan Today News): “Lord Gopinath, who originated the transcendental mellow of the rasa dance stands on the shore near the Vamsivat tree and attracts the attention of the cow herd damsels with the sound of His celebrated flute.
May these gopis confer upon us their benediction.”(C.C.Adi 1.17)
Following the road towards the Yamuna, we now enter the grove of the Vamsivata tree. Vamsivata is highly venerated by the Brajavasis for it was beneath the branches of this tree that Shri Krishna used to call the gopis with the sweet sound of his flute. As stated in Teachings of Lord Chaitanya, Vamsivata is a very special kalpaavriksha or wish-yielding tree, which can award the devotee all desirable objects. Once when the Vamsivata Tree was washed away by the Yamuna River in flood, Madhu Pandit Goswami took a branch and replanted the tree which flourishes here to this day. Beside the tree is the temple of Vamsivata Bihari. It was here that the Deity of Lord Gopinath Ji was originally discovered before He was moved to His present location.
When one comes to such a spiritual place as this he must be very careful to desire that which is most valuable. He should pray as Lord Chaitanya did in the fifth verse of His Sikshastaka.
“O Son of Nanda Maharaja (Lord Krishna)
I am your eternal servant, yet somehow or
other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and
death please pick me up from this ocean of
death and place me as one of the atoms of Your lotus feet.”
When a devotee humbles himself before the Lord with such pure desires, Krishna is certain to listen to his prayers. Such a surrendered soul endowed with unflinching faith can eventually be blessed with pure devotional service. Bhagvad Gita (7.19) confirms this to be gift that is awarded very rarely.
Around Vamsivata’s pradakshina there are two marble murtis built into the wall. The first is Lord Brahma acting out of pastime of stealing Krishna’s cows and the second is Lord Shiva as Gopeshwar Mahadeva who, disguised as an innocent cowherd girl, has come to witness Krishna’s secret meeting with the gopis. Only a cobra around Shiva’s neck betrays that he us actually that very same Lord of Kailash.
Shri Govind Sharma is currently the Mahant of Shri Banshivat Bihari Temple.
GOPESHWAR MAHADEV MANDIR
Nearby is the temple of Gopeshwar Mahadev, the most important of Lord Shiva took the form of a gopi to be privileged to see the rasa-lila of Krishna and the cowherd girls. At first Lord Shiva had been barred from the rasa dance, but after a bath in the Manasarovar Lake he took a gopi’s form. Shri Krishna personally told Shiva that thence forward he was to be known as Gopeshwara.
Lord Krishna’s wife Queen Rukmini explains in Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.5.43) that Lord Shiva desires to bathe in the dust of Krishna’s feet. Krishna das Kaviraja confirms that Shiva simply carries out the orders of Lord Krishna (Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 21.36). It is said ‘vaishnavanam yatha Shambhu’, the greatest vaishnava is Shiva.
When a vaishnava visits a temple of Shiva he goes not to ask for material favors, but to offer respect to the most elevated devotee, Lord Mahadeva (Shiva).
Although the present temple structure is a product of comparatively recent times (it was built in the 19th century by the King of Gwalior ) the Shiva linga worshipped within reputedly dates back 5,000 years to the time of Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Krishna, who performed the installation.