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Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's Appearance Day : A Talk by Giriraj Swami

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's Appearance Day
A Talk by Giriraj Swami
July 31, 2002
Carpinteria, California


For Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's appearance day I thought to read one verse and
purport about him from Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila, Chapter Ten, “The
Branches of the Caitanya Tree”:

TEXT 105

sri gopala bhatta eka sakha sarvottama
rupa-sanatana-sange yanra prema-alapana

TRANSLATION

Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, the forty-seventh branch, was one of the great
and exalted branches of the tree. He always engaged in discourses about love
of Godhead in the company of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami.

PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada

Sri Gopala Gosvami was the son of Venkata Bhatta, a resident of Sri Rangam.
Gopala Bhatta formerly belonged to the disciplic succession or the
Ramanuja-sampradaya but later became part of the Gaudiya-sampradaya.

COMMENT by Giriraj Swami

The word sampradaya means “party.”

PURPORT (continued)

In the year 1433 Sakabda (A.D. 1511), when Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu was
touring South India, He stayed for four months during the period of
Caturmasya at the house of Venkata Bhatta, who then got the opportunity to
serve the Lord to his heart's content. Gopala Bhatta also got the
opportunity to serve the Lord at this time. Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was
later initiated by his uncle, the great sannyasi Prabodhananda Sarasvati.
Both the father and the mother of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami were extremely
fortunate, for they dedicated their entire lives to the service of Lord
Caitanya Mahaprabhu. They allowed Gopala Bhatta Gosvami to go to Vrndavana,
and they gave up their lives thinking of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. When Lord
Caitanya was later informed that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami had gone to Vrndavana
and met Sri Rupa and Sanatana Gosvami, He was very pleased, and He advised
Sri Rupa and Sanatana to accept Gopala Bhatta Gosvami as their younger
brother and take care of him. Sri Sanatana Gosvami, out of his great
affection for Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, compiled the Vaisnava smrti named
Hari-bhakti-vilasa and published it under his name. Under the instruction of
Srila Rupa and Sanatana, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami installed one of the seven
principal deities of Vrndavana, the Radha-ramana deity. The sevaits
(priests) of the Radha-ramana temple belong to the Gaudiya-sampradaya.

COMMENT

Actually, one of the families entrusted with the Deity service at the
Radha-ramana temple has a history of relations with the line of Srila
Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. Visvambhara
Gosvami's father or grandfather had relations with Srila Bhaktivinoda
Thakura, the family maintained relations with Srila Bhaktisiddhanta
Sarasvati Thakura, and then Visvambhara Gosvami had very friendly relations
with Srila Prabhupada. And he spoke very nicely about Srila Prabhupada. Now
Visvambhara Gosvami's son Padmanabha Gosvami is also very favorable to
ISKCON. In fact, ISKCON devotees often honor prasada at his home at the
Radha-ramana temple. I also took prasada there with His Holiness Tamal
Krishna Goswami, and Padmanabha Gosvami showed us a letter that Srila
Prabhupada had written to his father, Visvambhara Gosvami, about how all
Vaisnavas should cooperate. So not only does the Radha-ramana temple belong
to the Gaudiya-sampradaya, but at least some of the sevaits have had close
relations with the line of Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.

PURPORT (continued)

When Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami took permission from all the Vaisnavas
before writing Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also gave him
his blessings, but he requested him not to mention his name in the book.
Therefore Krsnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami has mentioned Gopala Bhatta Gosvami
only very cautiously in one or two passages of the Caitanya-caritamrta.
Srila Jiva Gosvami has written in the beginning of his Tattva-sandarbha, “A
devotee from southern India who was born of a brahmana family and was a very
intimate friend of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami has written a book that
he has not compiled chronologically. Therefore I, a tiny living entity known
as jiva, am trying to assort the events of the book chronologically,
consulting the direction of great personalities like Madhvacarya, Sridhara
Svami, Ramanujacarya, and other senior Vaisnavas in the disciplic
succession.” In the beginning of the Bhagavat-sandarbha there are similar
statements by Srila Jiva Gosvami. Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami compiled a
book called Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, edited the Hari-bhakti-vilasa, wrote a
foreword to the Sat-sandarbha and a commentary on the Krsna-karnamrta, and
installed the Radharamana Deity in Vrndavana. In the Gaura-ganoddesa-dipika
(184) it is mentioned that his previous name in the pastimes of Lord Krsna
was Ananga-manjari. Sometimes he is also said to have been an incarnation of
Guna-manjari. Srinivasa Acarya and Gopinatha Pujari were two of his
disciples.

COMMENT

Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami ki jaya!

One story about Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is that on the eve of
Nrsimha-caturdasi all the other Gosvamis and Vasinavas in Vrndavana were
preparing to worship their deities and hold festivals. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami
had only a salagrama-sila; he didn't have a deity with form, with arms and
legs, a body he could dress and decorate. So he was feeling deprived of the
opportunity to serve like the other devotees who had deities with forms they
could serve. Out of his strong desire, a salagrama-sila manifest in the form
of Radha-ramana. Radha-ramana is considered the most beautiful deity of
Krsna. It is the one original deity of the Gosvamis that has remained in
Vrndavana, while the others had to be taken elsewhere for fear of the Muslim
invaders. And near the temple of Radha-ramana in Vrndavana is the samadhi of
Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami.

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's uncle and siksa-guru was Prabhodananda Sarasvati.
His samadhi is also located in Vrndavana, just off the parikrama path near
Kaliya-ghata, which is quite near our Krsna-Balarama temple. Often when we
go on parikrama down the path near the Yamuna, we visit Prabhodananda
Sarasvati's samadhi and bhajana-kutira. And then we proceed to Srila
Sanatana Gosvami's samadhi. Sanatana Gosvami was the most senior of the
Gosvamis and was also a close associate and instructor of Gopala Bhatta
Gosvami. In fact, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami worked with Sanatana Gosvami to
produce the great treatise Hari-bhakti-vilasa.

I feel that Gopala Bhatta Gosvami has been especially merciful to me on two
occasions. On one, I visited his bhajana-kutira at Sanketa, a place between
Nandagrama and Varsana where Radha and Krsna used to meet and sometimes
perform rasa-lila. Gopala Bhatta would sit and chant underground in a deep
cavern accessible only through a long, narrow passage. At the end of the
passage was a somewhat roomier place where Gopala Bhatta used to chant, now
marked as his bhajana-sthala. I remember going there with Tamal Krishna
Goswami and others on a very hot day and struggling to crawl through the
passage to the bhajana-sthala. It was very difficult, but when I finally
reached there, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was very merciful. He allowed me to
chant with a glimpse of taste. And after all the devotees emerged from the
cavern, I stole back in. I crawled back to Gopala Bhatta's lotus feet and
sat there chanting. I will never forget his mercy to me there, and I pray
that he will enable me to chant with relish and love.

On the other occasion, the last time I visited Vrndavana, in Kartika of
1999, shortly before my surgery, I visited Gopala Bhatta's samadhi near the
Radha-ramana temple in Vrndavana. We arrived just after raja-bhoga-arati,
and the pujari was closing the doors to the samadhi-mandira. But he was kind
enough to open the doors for us, to allow us darsana of Gopala Bhatta
Gosvami. He gave us some flowers and caranamrta, and invited us to stay for
prasada. Thus our small party, along with some local sadhus, honored Gopala
Bhatta Prabhu's maha-maha-prasada with great relish, and we even stayed to
take a little rest before, filled with bliss, we continued on our way. So
Gopala Bhatta Gosvami is very kind.

Years later, when some of my disciples from Bombay went to Vrndavana on
pilgrimage, they visited the samadhi of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. They told the
pujaris about me, how my health no longer allowed me to visit Vraja, and
asked for some prasada for me. And the priest kindly gave them a piece of
cloth from Gopala Bhatta Gosvami's samadhi. It is very special. Now, twice a
year, on his appearance day and on his disappearance day, we bring it out
and touch it. So now we shall pass it around and touch it to our heads and
to our hearts--and pray to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami for his sublime mercy.

Thank you.

Hare Krsna.

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