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Gokulananda Temple: A center of meditation for the Gaudiya Acharyas

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Vrindavan, 2018.04.01

The next stop on our Vrindavan Parikrama is Radha Gokulananda temple, which is home to the deities of four great Vaishnavas – Lokanatha Goswami, Baldeva Vidyabhusana, Shri Vishwanatha Chakravarty and Narottamdas Thakura. A stone from Govardhan Hill that bears the actual thumbprint of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who gave this most worshipable shila to Raghunatha Das Goswami can be seen here.

Radha Gokulananda temple is situated only two minutes walk from Radharaman temple.  This center of Bengali Vaishnava bhajan and preaching is one of the saptadevala (seven original temples) of Vrindavan.

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← Samadhi memorials of great Vaishnavas in Radha Gokulananda temple grounds

Founded by Lokanatha Goswami, this great Acharya’s samadhi (memorial) is also here along with the samadhi of Narrotamdasa Thakura and Shri Vishwanatha Chakravarty. The vast literary contributions of the lineage of this temple – Narrotamdasa Thakur, Shri Vishwanatha Chakravarty and Baladeva Vidyabhushana reveal the purity of their single-minded devotion to Radha and Krishna.

The Radha Krishna deities belonging to these three acharyas are worshiped here, namely Radha Vinoda, worshipped by Lokanatha Goswami, Radha Gokulananada worshipped by Vishwanatha Chakravarty Thakura and Radha Vijay Govind, worshipped by Baldeva Vidyabhusana. Narottamadas Thakura’s deity of Lord Chaitanya is also here. Radha Vinoda and Radha Vijay Govind are pratibhu extentions of the original deities, which were shifted to Jaipur for safe keeping due to being under threat from Mughal rulers. The Radha Gokulananada and Mahaprabhu deities are the original ones.

radha-gokulanand2-300x225.jpgLokanatha Goswami

Lokanatha Goswami was born in the village of Talkhari, Jessore, in what is now Bangladesh. He left his home at an early age and after meeting Lord Chaitanya, completely lost interest in material life.

During a lecture on the occasion of Lokanatha Goswami’s Disappearance Day, Shrivatsa Goswami told listeners: “When Mahaprabhu took sannyas, Lokanatha came to Vrindavan. While visiting the places of Krishna’s pastimes, he discovered the deity of Radha Vinod from ‘Kishori Kund’ in the village of Umrao. Lokanath Goswami used to carry this deity in a bag hanging on his neck, wherever he went.”

The local villagers and cowherd men of Umrao wanted to construct a bhajan kutir for Lokanath Goswami, but Goswami ji refused to accept it. In order to protect the deity, he prepared a cloth bag, which he would keep around his neck at all times. Sri Radhavinoda became like a jeweled necklace around the neck of Lokanatha Goswami. The cloth bag was his temple.

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← Lokanatha Goswami’s Samadhi, Radha Gokulananda Temple

Another example of the strict vairagya (renunciation) that Lokanath Goswami maintained is that he asked Krishnadas Kaviraj not to mention him in the Chaitanya Charitamrita. Krishnadas Kaviraj did mention Lokanath Goswami’s name as one of the 6 Goswamis of Vrindavan, and a few details regarding his life were added into the purport by AC Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada.

Shrila Lokanatha Dasa Goswami is mentioned as follows in the Chaitanya Charitamrita:

sange gopala-bhatta, dasa-raghunatha, 
raghunatha bhatta-gosai, ara lokanatha:

When Rupa Goswami stayed at Mathura, he was accompanied by Gopala Bhatta Goswami, Raghunatha dasa Goswami, Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami and Lokanatha dasa Goswami.

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Govardhan Shila at Radha Gokulananda temple →

AC Bhaktivedanta Srila Prabhupada gives the following information about Shrila Lokanatha Goswami: “Shri Lokanatha Goswami was a personal associate of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and a great Devotee of the Lord. He was a resident of a village named Talakhadi in the district of Yashohara in Bengal. Previously he lived in Kachnapara. His father’s name was Padmanabha, and his only younger brother was Pragalbha. Following the orders of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Shri Lokanath went to Vrindavana to live. He established a Temple named Gokulananda.”

After carrying Radha Vinod around in a bag on his neck for several years, when Rupa and Sanatan Goswami came to Vrindavan, on their request moved from Khadiravan forest near Umrao village to Vrindavan.

Lokanath Goswami’s pastimes help us to remember to disassociate the external appearances from the internal devotional state. Lokanatha Goswami was most attached to Lord Chaitanya. Instead of waiting for Mahaprabhu to come to Vrindavan, Lokanatha Goswami followed him to South India and ended up missing him when he passed through Vrindavan. Even after months of travelling, and returning to Vrindavan only to find that Mahaprabhu had just left, Lokanatha Goswami was not ready to give up. At this time, Lord Chaitanya appeared to him in a dream, instructing him to stay in Vrindavan, and blessed him to feel the Lord’s presence always.

Narottama Dasa Thakura

Srila Lokanatha Goswami gave initiation to Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura. There is no mention in the shastras that he accepted any other disciples. Narottama Thakura served him in secret by going in the dead of night to the place where Lokanatha would pass stool and urine and cleansing the area very carefully. Seeing Narottama’s humility, Shri Lokanatha accepted him. Narottama Dasa Thakura wrote hundreds of bhajans including the well known Shri Guru Charana Padma

Raghunatha Das Goswami

Raghunatha Das Goswami is the author of Manah Shiksha, the prayer that Vaishnavas repeat daily in order to direct their minds away from distractions and towards Shri Krishna.

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← Mahaprabhu’s Govardhan Shila at Radha Gokulananda temple

He was born in West Bengal to wealthy parents who hired servants and guards in an attempt to stop him from running away. He was strongly attached to Lord Chaitanya and being pleased with Raghunatha Das’ renunciation Mahaprabhu gave him the Govardhan Shila that he had been keeping for three years.

Govardhan Shilas are a transcendental form of Shri Krishna’s body and this Shila had been washed by Mahaprabhu’s tears of devotion. It had become so soft that Mahaprabhu’s humb print was imprinted on it.

Raghunatha Das was extremely renounced, and when in Jagannath Puri, he ate only rotten rice Prasad from Jagannath temple. He would wash the rice and add a little salt. Mahaprabhu instructed him that, for the purpose of worshipping the Shila, only some water and tulsi leaves are required.

Ragunatha Das’ absorption in bhajan was so complete that, while staying at Radha Kund, he was oblivious to the need to build a shelter for himself and was only convinced to do so after Sanatana Goswami told him that he had seen Radha Rani herself sheltering Ragunatha Das’ body from the sun with her sari.

Raghunatha Das Goswami was instrumental in the development of Radha Kund. When Lord Chaitanya pointed out the place where Radha Krishna made Radha Kund and Shyama Kund, the kunds were only small ponds in a field.  Raghunatha Das Goswami knew that Lord Chaitanya wanted the holy places of Vrindavan to be excavated for the benefit of all people. He thought of excavating them but, being an renunciate, he didn’t want to entangle himself in money etc. Radha-Krishna understood his heart. At the same time, a wealthy merchant was on his way to Badrikasrama with the intention of building a beautiful temple for Lord Badrinath. Badrinath appeared in the dream of that merchant and instructed him to excavate Radha-Kunda under the guidance of Raghunath Das Goswami instead. In this way Radha-Kunda and Shyama-Kunda were excavated.

Vishwanatha Chakravarty Thakura

Vishwanatha Chakravarty is the writer of the famous eight verse Gurvashtakam. Appearing in 1638, Shri Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura (Hari Vallabha Dasa) came in the disciplic succession of Sri Narottama Dasa Thakura. Visvanatha took initiation from Sri Radha Ramana Cakravarti. He was known as “the crest jewel of the Vaisnavas” because of his pure devotion, scholarship, and realized perception of Radha Gokulananda’s intimate conjugal pastimes.

Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura wrote over forty Sanskrit books on the science of pure devotion to Radha Krishna. He also wrote the sweetest, most highly realized rasika tikas (commentaries) on Srimad Bhagavatam, Bhagavad-gita, the works of Srila Rupa Goswami, Kavi Karnapura, and Narottama Dasa Thakura.

Baladeva Vidyabhushana

Baladeva Vidyabhushana (ca. around 1650 -1743) was a prominent Gaudiya Vaishnava acharya (religious teacher) He born in Gauradanda, Orissa. During his travels he again came to Utkaladesa (Odisha) and met with Sri Radha-Damodara Deva, a grand-disciple of Sri Rasikananda Deva. Sri Radha-Damodara Deva explained the conclusions of Gaudiya Vaishnava Theology as expounded by Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In a very short time Baladeva Vidyabhushana became very expert in Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy.

With the permission and blessings of his guru, he moved to Vrindavan to further study these teachings under Sri Visvanatha Chakravarti Thakura. Shri Baladeva received the title ‘Vidabhushana’ (ornament of knowledge) after he presented in the Royal court, the work Govinda Bhashya, which is the Gaudiya Vaishnava commentary on Vedanta Sutra. Instead of attempting to write the commentary himself, Baladeva Vidyabhushana prayed at Govind Dev temple and Govind Dev Himself narrated the commentary for Baladeva Vidyabhushana to scribe.

Radha Gokulananda temple and surroundings

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← Radha Gokulananda temple room

These days, after taking darshan of the deities of these great Vaishnavas, devotees sit in the temple, in the area around Shrila Vishwanatha Chakravarty’s Samadhi with kartals and mridanga and lose themselves in kirtan. Narottamadas Thakura’s bhajans are sung here with great devotion.

Garden area at Radha Gokulananda Temple →radha-gokulanand-3-300x225.jpg

Currently, Acharya Shrivatsa Goswami Maharaj is the temple sevait. Shrivatsa Goswami is dedicated to promoting the glories of this ancient temple and is active in the efforts to conserve the natural and cultural heritage of Vrindavan.

 

There is a vacant area next to Vishwanatha Chakravarty’s Samadhi that used to be a sacred grove. In ancient times, temples were surrounded by gardens, however, as the town developed, many of these gardens were sold off or fell into disrepair. In December 2017, Friends of Vrindavan began work to restore the upvan (garden) adjacent to Radha Gokulananda temple. When work is complete, this sacred grove and much needed green area will be known as the ‘Sacred Grove of Manjulali

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