श्रीमद् गोपीनाथजी महाराज प्राकट्य उत्सव.

Once, whilst sitting on the banks of Shri Yamunaji, Shri Vallabhacahryaji was meditating on the infinite grace of the Lord when he had a sudden vision of the Lord coming towards him with all his friends. The Lord came towards him like a baby, crawling on all fours and indicated His desire to sit in Acharya Shri’s lap. Elated by such a vision of the Lord, acting out the bala-lilas of SarasvatKalpa, Acharya Shri decided to name his first born in honour of the Lord. In time, Shri Vallabhacharyaji had two sons – GopiNathji and VitthalNathji.

Shri Gopinathji, the eldest of the two, was very studious and extremely intelligent. He was a great scholar and wrote a number of treaties to explain the inner workings of Pushti Marg as set up by his father. Of all his works, the only one to survive till date (in North India) is Sadhan Dipika. It throws light on how the worship of the Lord might have been in the early years of the sect. It is a wonderful text full of bhav and gives precise instructions on acharan – the dos and don’ts of the sect.

Shri Gopinathji was so immersed in worshipping the Lord and reading the 10thCanto of Shrimad Bhagvatam, that he would not even have his meal till he had completed all his spiritual duties. Often this meant that he was not free till late in the afternoon. Ever compassionate, Shri Vallabh composed Gopal Shastranama and instructed Gopinathji to recite that text in place of the Shrimad Bhagvatam. Though this is shorter in length, it contains the essence of the Lord and His lilas and is thus equal in merit to reading the entire 10thCanto of S.Bh. This freed up more time for Gopinathji to assist his father in spreading the Pushti philosophy.

When Shri Vallabh renounced the world, Shri Gopinathji became the head of the sect. Along with his younger brother Shri VitthalNathji, he went to Varanasi to obtain the last advice form their father. Shri Vallabh, having taken the vow of silence, wrote on the sands of the holy Ganges, “Think only of the Lord and do not abandon Him for a second. If anyone forsakes the immortal Lord for (mortal) material things, like the words in these sands, all their work will soon perish with passage of Time.” (This translation is true to the spirit of the message rather than the words of the message.)

Shri Gopinathji than spread the Shuddhadvait philosophy to various corners of India. Like his great father before him, he toured India, expanding and consolidating the influence of Pushti principles. With his great debating skills, and unequalled mastery over Sanskrit, he was able to convince even the greatest scholars of the merits of Shuddhadvait philosophy.

In accordance with his father’s wishes, he ratified the employment of Bengali priests at Mount Govardhan and added considerable wealth to the treasuries of the new temple. During his own short, but fruitful period as the head of the sect, he commissioned new vessels of gold and silver for the Lord’s daily use and many new gold jewels studded with brilliant enamel work. Jewels of this kind are still prominently used during the spring festival of Holi. One area of India that still owes much to his work is the Northwest frontier of our great Bharat. GopiNathji worked tirelessly in this region and many Sindhi and Punjabi people converted during his time. Followers of the sect were spread as far afield as Kabul in Afghanistan.

Like his father before him, Shri Gopinathji was very attached to Shri JagganNathji of Puri in Orrisa. On one occasion, Shri Gopinathji helped reverse a long drought by his prayers to the Lord and also granted the much-desired boon of an heir to the royal family of Puri. All this and more are recorded on palm manuscripts in the palace and temple library at Puri. During his last visit to the Lord’s inner sanctum, Shri GopiNathji was overwhelmed with a divine desire to be one with the Lord. Like Shri Chaitanya before him, he merged physically with the divine Lord of the Universe in Puri. Unfortunately for us all, his untimely departure from this earth robbed us of a great soul.

 

Epilogue.

Shri GopiNathji had one son, but judging him to be young, the “guru gadi” was offered to Shri VitthalNathji. Much later, Krishnadas Adhikari, the chief executor of the Lord’s temple, handed over the service of the inner temple to Shri GopiNathji’s son in an attempt to make sure the rights to the guru gadi did not fade completely from Shri GopiNathji’s line. Unfortunately, the young goswami died soon after and his widowed mother went south to spend her remaining years with her brother’s family. Unfortunately for us all, she took with her all the works of Shri GopiNathji with her.   Apart from SadhanDipika, none of his works remain in North India. Of the works taken to the South, we have no knowledge of where any of the other manuscripts may be or which temple repository may now house them.

The saddest part of this tale is, much after the event, the later descendants and followers of Shri VitthalNathji made a concerted attempt to blot out the period of Shri GopiNathji as a blip in our sect’s history. It was claimed that Shri Gopinathji was a Maryada soul and thus not as worthy of the same honours as his younger brother. In a classic style of novels and histories of great imperial families, GopiNathji and his line was discredited as being somehow spiritually “unfit” to sit on the guru gadi of Pushti Marg.

This may have been necessary in the times when the Varta Sahitya was initially being written to maintain a firm grip on the affairs of a fledgling sect. Considering the difficult political times of the early years, it is even understandable. However, now, when such conditions no-longer exist, we should not carry on with such misconceptions and should gracefully accept Shri GopiNathji’s great contributions to Pushti Marg.

:: SHRI GOPINATHJI ::

Shri Gopinathji, the elder son of Shri Vallabhacharyaji was born on the 12th Day of the black half of the month of Ashvin in the S.Y.1568, soon after Shri Vallabhacharyaji had completed a “Soma Yagna” and was residing in the village called Adel (Near Prayaga). He had received the fond care and full guidance in his education from his father. Shri Gopinathji was quite simple and to him the teaching of his father were not mere doctrine’s to be studied and talked about in eloquence, but principles to be followed sedulously.

The “Yajnopavita Samskara” (Sacred Thread Ceremony) of Shri Gopinathji was performed in the S.T. 1573 when Shri Vallabhacharya was staying at Varanasi. Soon after as is the practice in cultured Hindu Brahmin families in those times, the real education of the young celibate into Vedic lore began in right earnest.

Apart from the studies of the comparative systems of the doctrines, he was trained in Anu Bhasyam , Subodhini and other works composed by Shri Vallabhacharyaji. The simple Satvik and Scholastic life his father had moulded the young mind of Shri Gopinathji into adopting a life of self discipline and sacrifice.

The marriage of Shri Gopinathji took place at an early age before Shri Vallabhacharya had renounced and left the world. It is said that his marriage was performed in South. Shri Gopinathji had one son, Shri Purushottamji and two daughters, Satyabhamaji Betiji and Lakshmi Betiji.

As mentioned in “Vallabha Digvijaya” written by Shri Yadunathji, after the Asurvyahmohleela (Disappearance) of Shri Vallabhacharya, Shri Gopinathji had adorned the seat of Acharya of the Sampradaya and he was much venerated by various disciples. It is believed that he has done much for the propagation of Shrimad Bhagavata Purana.

After completing the ceremonial rites of his father in Varanasi, he had returned to Adel with his younger brother Shri Vithalnathji, mother and other members of family.

During this period, he had received a complaint form the Adhikari Krishnadas that the Gauda Bengalis to whom Shri Vallabhacharya had entrusted the seva of Shri Govardhannathji, were not fulfilling their duties faithfully. They had installed an Icon of Devi called Brinda near Shri Govardhannathji inspite of the protests from the management.

Inspite of the best efforts of Shri Gopinathji and Shri Vithalnathji the Bengalis refused to mend their ways and persisted in continuing the worship of Brinda, thus misusing the funds of the Mandir. At last the Adhikari was compelled to adopt coercive tactics. One day for some mysterious reason fire broke out in the tenements of Bengalis. So they ran helter-skelter to save their belongings. Taking this opportunity the Adhikari had the gates of the Mandir closed against them and thereafter entrusted the seva to Vaishnavas.

It is understood that Shri Gopinathji and Shri Vithalnathji had offered the interior seva of Shri Govardhannathji like cooking etc., to their relatives, but this offer was declined by them. As such the two brothers had entrusted the seva to Sanchihara Brahmin.

Retaining Krishnadas as the overall supervisor of the management of the mandir, they had returned to Adel. Thereafter they had made it a practice that when one of the brothers was there, other would take care of the seva of Shri Govardhannathji in Jatipura.

Shri Gopinathji then went on long trip of the whole of North, including Jagannathpuri, where his father had won a major victory over erudite scholars of Sankaramatha. After visiting several pilgrim centers and establishing the greatness of Shri Bhagavata Purana, he returned to Adel in V.S.1601.

He had performed one Somayagna in the tradition of the family and later performed one Vishnuyagna. It is said that Shri Gopinathji had collected lakh of rupees during this trip which he utilized in increasing the seva of Shri Goverdhannathji at Jatipura.

It was a practice with him, right from his youth to read Shri Bhagavata Purana regularly.He was so obsessed with its reading that he would not even eat unless he would complete Shri Bhagvata. Very much worried about this adamant attitude of Shri Gopinathji ,Shri Vallabhacharyaji had composed one Stotra containing one thousand names of Purna Purushottama Sahasranama , all extracted from Shri Bhagavta Purana and advised his son to read this work daily so that he could have the complete effect of reading Shri Bhagavata Purana. This “Purushottama Sahasranama Stotra ” is one of the original works of Shri Vallabhacharya and is much venerated.

Again in V.S.1618 he undertook a long tour of Gujarat, Sindh and Dwarka. Shri Gopinathji had been blessed with a son. Whenever Shri Gopinathji had gone out of Adel on his regular yatra of the country, he used to leave his son Shri Purrshottamji with his younger brother Shri Vithalnathji. Shri Purushottamji passed away at the age of 12 years before Shri Gopinathji had returned from his travels of Gujarat in the V.S.1620 after a lapse of nearly three years was divine hand behind this. As this turn of events came in his life, he recalled the words of his father who had predicted in confidence that the dynasty of Shri Gopinathji will not run long and that it would be only Shri Vitthalnathji and his family members who would take the responsibilty of carrying his tradition of Pushti Sampradaya.

After this event Shri Gopinathji entrusted the reign of the Sampradaya into the able hands of his brother and turned his face on again on wanderings. It is believed that during this period he had gone to Jagnnathpuri purposely and merged with the Swarupa of Shri Baladevji and disappeared. It is quite obvious that Shri Gopinathji was aware of how had turned his mind away from the household responsibities and adapted a way of Vairagya or detachment inwardly allowing his brother to take the greater part of the burden of the management of family and carrying the Sampradaya to its rightful course.

Even though he was no mean scholar,only one work credited to him is available . It is titled as “Sadhana Dipika”.

 

 

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