The Principal Deities of Vrndavana

Sri Sri Radha-Madana-mohana Mandir

Sri Sri Radha-Madana-mohana Mandir

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As we mentioned in a previous post With the Radiance of Molten Gold “The First Chapter of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta begins with fourteen Sanskrit verses that describe the Absolute Truth. Then the next three Sanskrit verses describe the principal Deities of Vṛndāvana, namely, Śrī Rādhā-Madana-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva and Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnāthajī.” Today we are posting the next three verses describing the principal deities, with images of the three temples. In addition we are posting verses 18 & 19. The purport to text 19, is the main content of today’s post.

…The three Deities-Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha-have very specific qualities. Worship of Madana-mohana is on the platform of reestablishing our forgotten relationship with the Personality of Godhead. In the material world we are presently in utter ignorance of our eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord… It is best for such persons not to aspire for success in fruitive activities or mental speculation, but instead simply to surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The perfection of life is simply to surrender to the Supreme. In the beginning of our spiritual life we must therefore worship Madana-mohana so that He may attract us and nullify our attachment for material sense gratification. This relationship with Madana-mohana is necessary for neophyte devotees. When one wishes to render service to the Lord with strong attachment, one then worships Govinda on the platform of transcendental service. Govinda is the reservoir of all pleasures. When by the grace of Kṛṣṇa and the devotees one reaches perfection in devotional service, he can appreciate Kṛṣṇa as Gopījana-vallabha, the pleasure Deity of the damsels of Vraja. (from purport to Adi 1.19)

Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta
By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda
Ādi-līlā, Chapter One, Text 15-19

TEXT 15

jayatāṁ suratau paṅgor
mama manda-mater gatī
mat-sarvasva-padāmbhojau
rādhā-madana-mohanau

SYNONYMS

jayatām—all glory to; su-ratau—most merciful, or attached in conjugal love; paṅgoḥ—of one who is lame; mama—of me; manda-mateḥ—foolish; gatī—refuge; mat—my; sarva-sva—everything; pada-ambhojau—whose lotus feet; rādhā-madana-mohanau—Rādhārāṇī and Madana-mohana.

TRANSLATION

Glory to the all-merciful Rādhā and Madana-mohana! I am lame and ill-advised, yet They are my directors, and Their lotus feet are everything to me.

TEXT 16

dīvyad-vṛndāraṇya-kalpa-drumādhaḥ-
śrīmad-ratnāgāra-siṁhāsana-sthau
śrīmad-rādhā-śrīla-govinda-devau
preṣṭhālībhiḥ sevyamānau smarāmi

SYNONYMS

dīvyat—shining; vṛndā-araṇya—in the forest of Vṛndāvana; kalpa-druma—desire tree; adhaḥ—beneath; śrīmat—most beautiful; ratna-āgāra—in a temple of jewels; siṁha-āsana-sthau—sitting on a throne; śrīmat—very beautiful; rādhā—Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī; śrīla-govinda-devau—and Śrī Govindadeva; preṣṭha-ālībhiḥ—by most confidential associates; sevyamānau—being served; smarāmi—I remember.

Sri Sri Radha-Govinda Mandir

Sri Sri Radha-Govinda Mandir

TRANSLATION

In a temple of jewels in Vṛndāvana, underneath a desire tree, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Govinda, served by Their most confidential associates, sit upon an effulgent throne. I offer my humble obeisances unto Them.

Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha Mandir

Sri Sri Radha-Gopinatha Mandir

TEXT 17

śrīmān rāsa-rasārambhī
vaṁśīvaṭa-taṭa-sthitaḥ
karṣan veṇu-svanair gopīr
gopī-nāthaḥ śriye ’stu naḥ

SYNONYMS

śrī-mān—most beautiful; rāsa—of the rāsa dance; rasa—of the mellow; ārambhī—the initiator; vaṁśī-vaṭa—of the name Vaṁśīvaṭa; taṭa—on the shore; sthitaḥ—standing; karṣan—attracting; veṇu—of the flute; svanaiḥ—by the sounds; gopīḥ—the cowherd girls; gopī-nāthaḥ—Śrī Gopīnātha; śriye—benediction; astu—let there be; naḥ—our.

TRANSLATION

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.

TEXT 18

jaya jaya śrī-caitanya jaya nityānanda
jayādvaita-candra jaya gaura-bhakta-vṛnda

SYNONYMS

jaya jaya—all glory; śrī-caitanya—to Śrī Caitanya; jaya—all glory; nityānanda—to Lord Nityānanda; jaya advaita-candra—all glory to Advaita Ācārya; jaya—all glory; gaura-bhakta-vṛnda—to the devotees of Lord Caitanya.

TRANSLATION

Glory to Śrī Caitanya and Nityānanda! Glory to Advaitacandra! And glory to all the devotees of Śrī Gaura [Lord Caitanya]!

TEXT 19

ei tina ṭhākura gauḍīyāke kariyāchena ātmasāt
e tinera caraṇa vandoṅ, tine mora nātha

SYNONYMS

ei—these; tina—three; ṭhākura—Deities; gauḍīyāke—the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas; kariyāchena—have done; ātmasāt—absorbed; e—these; tinera—of the three; caraṇa—lotus feet; vandoṅ—I worship; tine—these three; mora—my; nātha—Lords.

TRANSLATION

These three Deities of Vṛndāvana [Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopīnātha] have absorbed the heart and soul of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas [followers of Lord Caitanya]. I worship Their lotus feet, for They are the Lords of my heart.

PURPORT

The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta offers his respectful obeisances unto the three Deities of Vṛndāvana named Śrī Rādhā-Madana-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva and Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnāthajī. These three Deities are the life and soul of the Bengali Vaiṣṇavas, or Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who have a natural aptitude for residing in Vṛndāvana. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas who follow strictly in the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord, a reciprocation of mellows (rasas) of mutual affection, and, ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service. These three Deities are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.

Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas perceive the ultimate objective in Vedic hymns composed of eighteen transcendental letters that adore Kṛṣṇa as Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha. Madana-mohana is He who charms Cupid, the god of love, Govinda is He who pleases the senses and the cows, and Gopījana-vallabha is the transcendental lover of the gopīs. Kṛṣṇa Himself is called Madana-mohana, Govinda, Gopījana-vallabha and countless other names as He plays in His different pastimes with His devotees.

The three Deities-Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha-have very specific qualities. Worship of Madana-mohana is on the platform of reestablishing our forgotten relationship with the Personality of Godhead. In the material world we are presently in utter ignorance of our eternal relationship with the Supreme Lord. Paṅgoḥ refers to one who cannot move independently by his own strength, and manda-mateḥ is one who is less intelligent because he is too absorbed in materialistic activities. It is best for such persons not to aspire for success in fruitive activities or mental speculation, but instead simply to surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The perfection of life is simply to surrender to the Supreme. In the beginning of our spiritual life we must therefore worship Madana-mohana so that He may attract us and nullify our attachment for material sense gratification. This relationship with Madana-mohana is necessary for neophyte devotees. When one wishes to render service to the Lord with strong attachment, one then worships Govinda on the platform of transcendental service. Govinda is the reservoir of all pleasures. When by the grace of Kṛṣṇa and the devotees one reaches perfection in devotional service, he can appreciate Kṛṣṇa as Gopījana-vallabha, the pleasure Deity of the damsels of Vraja.

Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu explained this mode of devotional service in three stages, and therefore these worshipable Deities were installed in Vṛndāvana by different Gosvāmīs. They are very dear to the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas there, who visit the temples at least once a day. Besides the temples of these three Deities, many other temples have been established in Vṛndāvana, such as the temple of Rādhā-Dāmodara of Jīva Gosvāmī, the temple of Śyāmasundara of Śyāmānanda Gosvāmī, the temple of Gokulānanda of Lokanātha Gosvāmī, and the temple of Rādhā-ramaṇa of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī. There are seven principal temples over four hundred years old that are the most important of the five thousand temples now existing in Vṛndāvana.

“Gauḍīya” indicates the part of India between the southern side of the Himalayan Mountains and the northern part of the Vindhyā Hills, which is called Āryāvarta, or the Land of the Āryans. This portion of India is divided into five parts or provinces (Pañca-gauḍadeśa): Sārasvata (Kashmir and Punjab), Kānyakubja (Uttar Pradesh, including the modern city of Lucknow), Madhya-gauḍa (Madhya Pradesh), Maithila (Bihar and part of Bengal) and Utkala (part of Bengal and the whole of Orissa). Bengal is sometimes called Gauḍadeśa, partly because it forms a portion of Maithila and partly because the capital of the Hindu king Rāja Lakṣmaṇa Sena was known as Gauḍa. This old capital later came to be known as Gauḍapura and gradually Māyāpur.

The devotees of Orissa are called Uḍiyās, the devotees of Bengal are called Gauḍīyas, and the devotees of southern India are known as Drāviḍa devotees. As there are five provinces in Āryāvarta, so Dākṣiṇātya, southern India, is also divided into five provinces, which are called Pañca-draviḍa. The four Vaiṣṇava ācāryas who are the great authorities of the four Vaiṣṇava disciplic successions, as well as Śrīpāda Śaṅkarācārya of the Māyāvāda school, appeared in the Pañca-draviḍa provinces. Among the four Vaiṣṇava ācāryas, who are all accepted by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, Śrī Rāmānuja Ācārya appeared in the southern part of Andhra Pradesh at Mahābhūtapurī, Śrī Madhva Ācārya appeared at Pājakam (near Vimānagiri) in the district of Mangalore, Śrī Viṣṇusvāmī appeared at Pāṇḍya, and Śrī Nimbārka appeared at Muṅgera-patana in the extreme south.

Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu accepted the chain of disciplic succession from Madhva Ācārya, but the Vaiṣṇavas in His line do not accept the tattva-vādīs, who also claim to belong to the Mādhva-sampradāya. To distinguish themselves clearly from the tattva-vādī branch of Madhva’s descendants, the Vaiṣṇavas of Bengal prefer to call themselves Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Śrī Madhva Ācārya is also known as Śrī Gauḍa-pūrṇānanda, and therefore the name Mādhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya is quite suitable for the disciplic succession of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas. Our spiritual master, Oṁ Viṣṇupāda Śrīmad Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Gosvāmī Mahārāja, accepted initiation in the Mādhva-Gauḍīya-sampradāya.

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