Shri Gopinathji


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 10th Canto 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 10th Canto 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.



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.


� Bhagwat Shah


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