Written by Rukmiṇī Devī Dāsī
A God Who Dances – Rādhā Gopīnātha
karṣan veṇu-svanair gopīr
gopī-nāthaḥ śriye ’stu naḥ
“Śrī Śrīla Gopīnātha, who originated the transcendental mellow of the rāsa dance, stands on the shore in Vaṁśīvaṭa and attracts the attention of the cowherd damsels with the sound of His celebrated flute. May they all confer upon us their benediction.” (Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta Ādi-līlā 1.17)
“The reason we have come here is not for a far-out experience but we are at the very core of the teachings of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta which is the essence of our spiritual life. You can understand that I have planned this parikramā this year with these three Deities (Madana-mohana, Govindajī and Gopīnātha) at the centre. Lord Caitanya has arranged for these three Deities to appear in this world in order to flood it with mercy… In the Rādhā Gopīnātha temple, that flood of love has been stored.”
On our last night in Jaipur we found ourselves at the lotus feet of Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gopīnātha. His round cheeks looks like they’re each hiding a large Jaipur laḍḍu. His skirt flares out as if in mid-twirl. He is the Lord of Dance and He knows it. How to speak to the Lord of Dance other than through song? The vibey kīrtana lasted almost two hours and flowed into Dāmodarāṣṭaka. We got the unique opportunity to offer our Kārttika lamp to Gopīnātha and stayed till the last darśana.
gopīnāth, mama nivedana śuno
viṣayī durjana, sadā kāma-rata,
kichu nāhi mora guṇa
gopīnāth, āmāra bharasā tumi
tomāra caraṇe, loinu śaraṇa,
tomāra kińkora āmi
“O Gopīnātha, Lord of the gopīs, please hear my request. I am a wicked materialist, always addicted to worldly desires, and no good qualities do I possess. O Gopīnātha, You are my only hope, and therefore I have taken shelter at Your lotus feet. I am now Your eternal servant.” (Song of Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura)
Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gopīnātha are the Deities of Madhu Paṇḍita. To one side of the temple room, encased in glass, is a jacket and hat made of tulasī beads that belongs to Madhu Paṇḍita. He was definitely an individual with style and devotion. Rādhā Gopīnātha represent prayojana-tattva, or pure love of God, of which Raghunātha dāsa Gosvāmī is the ācārya.
“One of the things I want to achieve in this parikramā is to deepen our relationship with the Gosvāmīs. The Gosvāmīs have prayed for the Lord to appear in these Deities and asked Them to shower Their mercy on the world.”
It also happened to be Gopāṣṭamī, so we braved the smoky streets, found some cows and bulls in a gośālā in the middle of the city, and tried to feed them gur (jaggery). A cow tried to swallow Mahārāja’s whole hand, evidently finding him sweeter. Within our stay, we also managed to sneak in darśanas of Jīva Gosvāmī’s Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara and Lokanātha Gosvāmī’s Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Vinoda.
On our last day, just as we were about to board, the bus demon struck again and we were delayed at the hotel for another five hours. The delay afforded us more kīrtana and kathā in the palace courtyard with special “balcony seats” on the upper levels and near the fountain. The exchange was both deep and casual with devotees free to ask questions. One phrase that comes to mind which is helpful to remember… “Even if I don’t answer your emails, I’ll still take you back to Godhead, by Prabhupāda’s mercy.”
Mahārāja waited until the last bus boarded before He got on, ensuring that no one was left behind. It would still be a long drive to Vṛndāvana in which he would happily absorb himself in The Nectar of Devotion. And as for Gopīnātha, it is a chapter to be continued. Possibly at Vaṁśīvaṭa? Or maybe a thread to be picked up on all the parikramās to follow.
May Śrī Śrī Madana-mohana, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda and Śrī Śrī Rādhā Gopīnātha bless the teams of devotees that helped plan and execute the Jaipur parikramā, opening the flood gates to this special mercy.