History of the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira
The history of the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira begins when Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī (born 1493) and Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī (born 1488), the gurus of Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī (born 1523), came to Vṛndāvana in 1516 (1439 Śakābda) under the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu to uncover the pastime places (līlā-sthānas) of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Jīva Gosvāmī who was the younger nephew of Rūpa and Sanātana arrived in Vṛndāvana a few years later after completing his studies at Vārāṇasī.
Jīva Comes to Vṛndāvana
Once while Jīva Gosvāmī was still staying at his family residence in Bāklā Candradvīpa, East Bengal he had a dream in which he saw Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu dancing in the midst of saṅkīrtana and loudly chanting the name of Kṛṣṇa. This so much impressed Jīva that he soon set off from home towards Navadvīpa. In Navadvīpa, Jīva met Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu who showed him great mercy. This event is narrated by Narahari Cakravartī Ṭhākura in Bhakti-ratnākara.
“With fatherly affection, Nityānanda touched Jīva’s head with his feet. He showed incomparable mercy toward Jīva, lifting him from the ground and embracing him tightly. Transported by divine ecstasy, Nityānanda Prabhu said, “I rushed here from Khardaha for your sake alone.” He said other things like this to pacify Jīva and then made Śrīvāsa Paṇḍita and the other devotees give their blessings to Jīva. After keeping Jīva there for some time with him, Nityānanda Prabhu sent him off to the West. He said, “Hurry off now to Vraja. That is the place the Lord has given over to your family.” (Bhakti-ratnākara 1.765-9, 772)
By the grace of Nityānanda Prabhu, Jīva first completed navadvīpa-dhāma-parikramā before setting out for Vṛndāvana. In route to Vṛndāvana, Jīva stayed for sometime in Vārāṇasī where he studied all the Vedic scriptures under the renowned scholar Madhusūdana Vācaspati, eventually reaching Vṛndāvana in 1535 (1457 Śakābda).
The Ontological Position
To properly understand Vṛndāvana and the importance of the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira one should clearly understand the ontological position of Śrī Rūpa, Śrī Sanātana and Śrī Jīva. In the nitya-līlā of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa the mādhurya-rasa is considered the topmost. In the mādhurya-rasa, Śrī Rādhā is the supreme reservoir of prema for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The whole plane of the mādhurya-rasa is the majesty of her sentiments of devotion and love for Śrī Kṛṣṇa. This highest expression of prema for Śrī Kṛṣṇa is called mahā-bhāva and it is exclusively the domain of Śrī Rādhā.
Śrī Rādhā has a multitude of confidential associate servitors imbued with aspects of her loving sentiments for Śrī Kṛṣṇa, chief of which are the aṣṭa-sakhīs; Lalitā-devī, Viśākhā-devī, Citra-devī, Indulekhā-devī, Raṅga-devī, Tuṅgavidyā-devī, Campakalatā-devī and Sudevī. Of these eight gopīs, Lalitā-devī and Viśākhā-devī are the principle two and of these Lalitā-devī is the constant advisor to Śrī Rādhā.
Under the shelter and care of Lalitā-devī are younger gopīs known as mañjarīs. These mañjarīs are of a very tender age and are the choicest servants of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa during their various intimate loving pastimes in the forest of Vṛndāvana. Like Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa the gopīs and the mañjarīs all have especially pleasing spiritual bodies made of the supremely transcendental substance known as cinmaya-rasa. As such there is no material desire that can contaminate the prema-līlā of Śrī Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa and their intimate associates. One should never think that the love of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is on the same platform as the so-called love that exists in the material world. Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa prema is transcendental and above the contamination of the modes of material nature characterized by lust, anger and greed.
Chief among the mañjarīs who perform the most intimates service to Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are Rūpa-mañjarī, Lavaṅga-mañjarī and Vilāsa-mañjarī. These three mañjarīs have incarnated on earth as Rūpa Gosvāmī, Sanātana Gosvāmī and Jīva Gosvāmī respectively to reveal the līlā-sthānas of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa, and to establish the truth of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa for the benefit of all human beings.
Rūpa Gosvāmī is known as the abhidheya-ācārya, Sanātana Gosvāmī is the sambandha– ācārya and Jīva Gosvāmī is known as the tattva–ācārya. Abhidheya is the principle status in which one is able to serve Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Sambandha is the knowledge of Rādhā Kṛṣṇa, the living entities and their intrinsic relationship of service. Tattva means the ultimate truth about Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and their energies, associates, supreme abode and pastimes.
The Meaning of Dāmodara
Of all the places of līlā in Vṛndāvana the area where the rasa-līlā of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa was performed is most glorious. During those divine pastimes of rasa-līlā Śrī Kṛṣṇa suddenly took Śrī Rādhā to a secret place in Vṛndāvana and there in that magnificent grove Śrī Kṛṣṇa became bound by the ropes of Śrī Rādhā’s affection. Thus Kṛṣṇa became known as Dāmodara, bound by the love of Śrī Rādhā. This place of magnificent beauty and charm in the rasa-līlā of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa is none other than the site where the mandira of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara is located.
Similarly, Śrī Kṛṣṇa was bound by the ropes of mother Yaśodā’s love (vātsalya-bhāva) and for this he is also universally glorified as Dāmodara. One who desires the supreme perfection of life should know that one who achieves prema for Śrī Kṛṣṇa achieves all perfection. Kṛṣṇa is easily bound by the ropes of his devotee’s love. This is the supreme secret of all secrets.
Manifestation of Dāmodara
In 1542, seven years after his arrival in Vṛndāvana, Jīva Gosvāmī received the mūrti of Dāmodara directly manifest from the hands of Rūpa Gosvāmī. The Śrī Mūrti was installed in the presence of Rūpa and Sanātana on śukla-daśamī, in the month of Māgha. This incident is mentioned in the book Sādhana-dipikā, by Rādhā Kṛṣṇa Gosvāmī as follows:
rādhā-dāmodaro devaḥ śrī-rūpa-kara-nirmitaḥ
jīva-gosvāmine dattaṁ śrī-rūpeṇa kṛpābdhinā
“Out of compassion, Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī carved with his own hands the Deity of Dāmodara and gave Him to Jīva Gosvāmī.” (Sādhana-dīpikā, 8th Chapter)
During this time Jīva Gosvāmī stayed under the shelter of his gurus and worshipped Dāmodara under the trees of Vṛndāvana. In 1558 Jīva purchased the site that was to become the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira for a sum of 30 rupees. The area purchased included Sevā-kuñja, Dāna-gali, Imlī-talā, Śṛṅgāra-sthāli and Rasa-sthāli. The boundary of the land was marked by four trees; a kadamba, a pippal, a tamarind and a banyan. The plot ran from the Yamunā to Kuñja-gali. This was in a time long before the streets and market places in Vṛndāvana were constructed. During that period the devotees in Vṛndāvana lived under trees or sometimes in thatched huts.
Rādhā and Lalitā
It was not until some time later that the Deity of Śrī Rādhā and the Deity of Śrī Lalitā-devī came to be with Dāmodara in Vṛndāvana. No exact date for this event is known although the Sthala-purāṇa of the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira says that this happened during the lifetime of Jīva. The short of the story surrounding the event is as follows:
In Bengal a certain fisherman is said to have caught something very heavy in his net and when he managed to draw it out he found two Deities. He brought the Deities to the king who put them in his palace overnight. That night the king had a dream and was told to send the two Deities to Jīva Gosvāmī in Vṛndāvana.
The next day the king left for Vṛndāvana and personally delivered the Deities to Jīva Gosvāmī. Jīva was overjoyed to see the Deities but was confused as to who was who. That night Śrī Rādhā came to Jīva in a dream and told him which Deity was herself (Rādhā) and which was Lalitā. The next day Jīva installed the Deities in their appropriate places on either side of Dāmodara.
Sanātana Gosvāmī departed from this world in 1958 and attained the eternal realm of Goloka Vṛndāvana, at which time Rūpa Gosvāmī instructed Jīva to bring the stone of Govardhana worshipped by Sanātana at Cakra-tīrtha (Govardhana Hill) to Vṛndāvana and to continue the pūjās. The Govardhana-śilā of Sanātana Gosvāmī has a very interesting story recorded in Bhakti-ratnākara (5.728-741) by Śrī Narahari Cakravartī Ṭhākura as follows:
ahe śrīnivāsa, gosvāmī sanātane
cakra-tīrtha ājñā kaila rahita ekhane
“O Śrīnivāsa, by the order of Cakra-tīrtha, Sanātana Gosvāmī stayed here.”
ethā vāsa kaila ati-ullāsa-antare
ei dekha tā’ra kuṭi vanera bhitare
“Residing at this place, he felt great joy within. Just see his kuṭira within the forest.”
prati-dina govardhana parikramā tā’ra
bhramaye dvādaśa krośa – aiche śakti kā’ra
“Every day he performed the circumambulation of Govardhana Hill. Who has the power to travel 12 krosas?”
vṛddha-kāle mahā śrama dekhi’ gopīnātha
gopa-bālakera chale hailā sākṣāta
“Seeing that in his old age this was becoming very difficult. Lord Gopīnātha came in the form of a young cowherd boy.”
sanātana-tanu-gharma nibāri’ yatane
aśruyukta haiyā kahe madhura vacane
“As Sanātana perspired and held back his tears, He spoke the following sweet words.”
“vṛddha-kāle eta śrama karite nāribā
ahe svāmī, ye kahi tā’ avaśya mānivā”
“’In your old age you cannot take such difficulties. O Svāmī, please listen to what I have to say.’”
sanātana kahe – “kaha, māniva jāniyā”
śuni’ gopa govardhane caḍilena giyā
“Sanātana said, ‘Please tell me, whatever You say I shall follow.’ Hearing this, the cowherd boy climbed the top of Govardhana Hill.”
nija-pada-cihna govardhana-śilā āni’
sanātane kahe punaḥ sumadhura vāṇī
“He brought back a Govardhana-śilā with the mark of a footprint. He then spoke to Sanātana in a sweet voice.”
‘ahe svāmī, laha ei kṛṣṇa-pada-cina
āji haite karibe ihāra pradakṣiṇa
“’Oh Svāmī, please take this footprint of Kṛṣṇa. From today you can circumambulate this.'”
saba parikramā siddha haibe ihāte
eta kahi’ śilā āni’ dilena kuṭīte
“‘By circumambulating it all perfection will be achieved.’ Saying this, he brought the śilā to Sanātana’s kuṭīra.”
śilā samarpiyā kṛṣṇa haila adarśane
bālake nā dekhi’ vyagra haila sanātana
“After giving the śilā to Sanātana, Kṛṣṇa disappeared, and not being able to see that boy Sanātana became disturbed.”
sanātane vyākula dekhiyā adṛśyete
nija paricaya dilā vihula snehete
“Seeing that Sanātana was aggrieved, out of His compassion the Lord revealed Himself.”
sanātana nija-netrajala sikta hailā
kari’ kata kheda citte dhairyā-valambilā
“Sanātana became drenched in his own tears feeling guilty that he could not recognize the Lord.”
sanātana premādhīna vrajendra-kumāra
ei puṣpa-vane kare vividha vihāra
“Thus, Sanātana was fully captivated by love for the son of Nanda Mahārāja who performs various pastimes in this forest that is decorated with flowers.”
This Govardhana-śilā bearing the footprint of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the mark of Kṛṣṇa’s flute and his stick for tending cows as well as the hoof print of the Surabhi Cow received by Sanātana Gosvāmī and handed over to Jīva Gosvāmī remains to this day at the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira. One who circumambulates the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira (the Govardhana-śilā within) achieves all perfection, saba parikramā siddha haibe ihāte!
Śrī Mūrtis Worshipped at Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira
Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara worshipped by Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī.
Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Vṛndāvana-candra worshipped by Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī
Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Mādhava worshipped by Śrī Jayadeva Gosvāmī.
Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Cailacikana worshipped by Śrī Bhūgarbha Gosvāmī.
Śrī Govardhana-śilā worshipped by Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī.
The Inheritance of Śrī Jīva
Having secured the land in Vṛndāvana, Jīva Gosvāmī is known to have requested Raja Man Singh of Ajmer to construct the temple building and facilities for a library. However, no date for the laying of the cornerstone has been discovered.
Another important document of this period is a proclamation signed by Emperor Akbar in 1590 acknowledging Jīva Gosvāmī as the custodian of the Madana-mohana Mandira and the Govindajī Mandira, both bequeathed to Jīva after the passing of Sanātana Gosvāmī in 1558 and Rūpa Gosvāmī in 1564. Similarly, Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī bequeathed his land at Rādhā-kuṇḍa to Jīva in 1571. The last will of Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī reads as follows:
Dictating this document to Kavirāja on my deathbed, I, the humble blind Raghunātha Dāsa, zealous for the service of Śrī Rādhā-kuṇḍa, hereby place my whole property at the lotus feet of the Deity worshipped by Jīva (Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara).
From these bits of historical information one can see that Jīva Gosvāmī received the legacy of the Śrī Rūpānuga sampradāya, the sampradāya of the followers of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī who worship Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the combined from of Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa.
mahāprabhu śrī caitanya, rādhā-kṛṣṇa nahe anya
rūpanuga janera jīvana
“Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanya is non-different from Śrī Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa and is the very life of those Vaiṣṇavas who follow Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī.”
Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā
Following the disappearance of his gurus (Rūpa and Sanātana), Jīva Gosvāmī was intent to establish among the Vaiṣṇavas an accurate understanding of Śrī Caitanya’s teachings. For this purpose he founded the Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabha. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda has described this event as follows:
“At the end of each of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī Prabhupāda’s Ṣaṭ-sandarbhas the name of the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā is inscribed. Jīva Gosvāmī wrote that the Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā refers to the society that is composed of those Vaiṣṇavas who are the kings (the foremost) of all the Vaiṣṇavas present in this world. These foremost Vaiṣṇavas are the followers of the feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Who is the savior of Kali-yuga (the bestower of knowledge about spiritual relationships), the bestower of His own method of worship (the bestower of the means) and Who is the incarnation of kṛṣṇa-prema, even though he is Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself, the Embodiment of kṛṣṇa-prema.
The objects of respect for this Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā are Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī, who are the associates of Mahāprabhu. Their teachings are the bhāgavata-dharma. These teachings constitute the Bhāgavata-sandarbhas or the Ṣaṭ-sandarbhas. Therefore, the members of the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā are those people whose hearts have been illuminated by the light of the Ṣaṭ-sandarbhas.
On the recent birthday of Śrī Viṣṇupriyā many pure devotees joined together at the Calcutta Śrī Bhaktivinoda Āsana and re-established the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā. Even though this sabhā (society) is eternally established, it has descended into the world three times. Eleven years after the disappearance of Śrīman Mahāprabhu, when the world was beginning to darken, six wonderfully bright stars (Rūpa, Sanātana, Jīva, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa, Raghunatha Bhaṭṭa and Raghunātha Dāsa) arose in Śrī Vraja-maṇḍala and were engaged in the service of Gauracandra. Apart from these six brilliant stars, there were several other great souls who beautified Śrī Gauracandra’s Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā. They were headed by Śrīla Lokanātha Gosvāmī, Śrīla Bhūgarbha Gosvāmī, and Śrīla Kaśīsvara Gosvāmī. Sixty-four dear associates of Śrī Gaurasundara increased the beauty of this Viśva-vaisnava-raja-sabha. The twelve friends of Śrīla Nityānanda Prabhu’s Nama-Haṭṭa was a main branch of this Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā.
“Śrī Śrī Bhāgavata Kṛṣṇa Caitanyadeva is the savior-incarnation for the age of Kali. He is the Instructor of his own bhajana and of the knowledge of relationship (sambandha-jñāna). He is the delineator of devotion which is the means (abhidheya) and He is the Embodiment of kṛṣṇa-prema which is the final goal (prayojana). Another name for the devotees of Śrī Gaura is ‘Caitanyadeva-caraṇa-anucara’. Śrī Caitanyadeva is Kṛṣṇacandra Himself – the King of all the Vaiṣṇavas in the world (Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja). The gathering of his devotees is the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā, the foremost ministers amongst the members of the society are Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and his honored Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī. Those who consider themselves to be the followers of Śrī Rūpa are the members of this Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā. The leaders amongst them are Śrī Śrī Prabhupāda Śrīmad Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī and Śrī Śrī Prabhupāda Śrīmad Jīva Gosvāmī.
During the period of misfortune for the world’s inhabitants, after Śrī Gauracandra displayed the play of His disappearance, Śrīmad Jīva Prabhu preached the Śrī Bhāgavata-dharma by the command of Śrī Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana. The people who were accepted as disciples by Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana, the leaders of the sabhā, later became the directors of the sabhā. Śrī Jīva Prabhupāda, upon becoming the director of the sabhā, termed the teachings which Śrī Rūpa had propagated in the sabhā as the ‘Bhāgavata-sandarbhas’ or ‘Ṣaṭ-sandarbhas’.
The members of the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā know these Ṣaṭ-sandarbhas to be the teachings of Śrī Rūpa-Sanātana and thus engage themselves in hari–bhajana. The pure and transcendental method of worship that has been given by Śrīmad Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī (one of the leaders of the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā) by bearing the commands of Śrī Rūpa on his head, is the only thing adorable by the devotees of Śrī Gaura. By taking shelter at the pure feet of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Raghunatha, Śrīpāda Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī Prabhu, the king of the family of rasika devotees (those devotees who are able to comprehend the inner significance), became one of the directors of the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā. Again, Śrī Narottama Ṭhākura Mahodaya, the crest jewel of transcendental devotees, decorated the crown of this Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā in the post of its director. Later, such kings of devotees as Śrī Śrīpāda Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura spread their moon-like rays upon the sabhā. The darkness of night cannot always predominate over the three worlds which are covered by ignorance, therefore we sometimes behold shining stars in the spiritual firmament which is bathed in the moon like rays of Śrī Gauracandra.
In 399 Gaura Era (1885 A.D.), a brilliant star of the universal Vaiṣṇava firmament (Śrīmad Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura) re-illuminated the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā. During that period many people in the great city of Calcutta received light from this sabhā. As a result of that light, the sight of the cooling rays of Śrī Gauracandra reflected in loving eyes is nowadays visible in this world. Just as autumnal clouds suddenly spread in the sky and cover the moon’s rays, so materialistic, non-Vaiṣṇavas in the dress of Vaiṣṇavas cause hindrances to that transcendental light in society. Today, it is four years since the servant of the King of universal Vaiṣṇavas and the leader of the followers of Śrī Rūpa departed from this world, and sometimes his light is becoming covered by mist; seeing this, the group of people sheltered at the feet of the followers of Śrī Rūpa have become firmly resolved to protect the light of discourses on Hari from the strong gale.
The transcendental flower of kṛṣṇa-prema that was budded forth by the ācāryas headed by Śrī Rūpa, Raghunaāha and Jīva was shown to the world as a blossom by Śrīmad Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura and after his disappearance it has begun to fully bloom. The followers of Śrī Rūpa have protected that beautiful and fragrant flower from the attack of depraved people and have thus given aid to the olfactory function of the bees swarming at Śrī Gaura’s feet. In this connection we request everybody to read the Ādi-līlā, ninth chapter of the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta composed by the king of rasika devotees about the divine loving activities of the Gardener Śrī Caitanya.” [Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupāda, 1919]
To further our understanding that Jīva Gosvāmī was the shelter for many great Vaiṣṇavas who would later come to Vṛndāvana, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura comments in his Anubhāṣya to the Caitanya-caritāmṛta as follows:
“After the disappearance of Rūpa and Sanātana, Jīva was established as the topmost teacher of doctrine in the sampradāya. He engaged everyone in the worship of Kṛṣṇa through teaching the truths given by Mahāprabhu Himself. On occasion, he would sometimes do the Vraja-dhāma parikramā with the other devotees and sometimes would go to visit Viṭṭhaladeva in Mathurā. Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī wrote the Caitanya-caritāmṛta while Jīva was still alive. Not long thereafter, when Śrīnivāsa, Narottama and Dukhi Kṛṣṇa Dāsa came from Bengal, he taught them and gave them the titles Ācārya, Ṭhākura and Śyāmānanda. He then sent them back to Bengal with all the scriptures that had been written by the Gosvāmīs, with instructions to preach the religion of the Holy Names and love of Kṛṣṇa. He received the news of the loss of the scriptures and later of their retrieval. He gave the title Kavirāja to both Ramacandra Sena and his brother Govinda. During his lifetime, Jāhnava-devī and other devotees came to Vṛndāvana. When Bengali devotees came to Vraja, he arranged for their food and lodgings during their stay.” (Anubhāṣya 1.10.85)
From its very inception the Śrī Viśva Vaiṣṇava Rāja Sabhā with its headquarters at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple was an institution dedicated fully to distribute and preserve the teachings of Śrī Caitanya.
Writings of Śrī Jīva
There twenty-five scholarly books delineating the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness attributed to Jīva Gosvāmī as follows:
1-Hari-nāmāmṛta-vyākaraṇa is a work on Sanskrit grammar wherein each and every word, syllable and grammatical rule is explained in relation to Kṛṣṇa and his pastimes.
2-Sūtra-mālikā is a grammatical work dealing with the derivation of Sanskrit words.
3-Dhātu-saṅgraha is a work on the verb roots of Sanskrit words
4-Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Arcana Candrikā is a work on the process of Deity worship.
5-Rasāmṛta-śeṣa deals with Sanskrit composition. Jīva has based this work on the Sahitya Darpana of Viśvanātha Kaviraāa, but has used many examples of his own as well as examples from other Gosvāmīs.
6-Mādhava-mahotsava describes the coronation ceremony of Rādhā when she is given the position of Queen of Vṛndāvana.
7-Saṅkalpa-kalpadruma explains the eight-fold daily pastimes of Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa (aṣṭa-kāliya-līlā) in the form of a prayer.
8-Gopāla-virudāvalī is a short poem extolling the glories of Gopāla (Kṛṣṇa) in 38 verses.
10-Gopāla-tāpanī Upaniṣad with the Sukha-bodhinī commentary.
11- Brahma-saṁhitā with Dig-darśanī commentary.
12- Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu with Durgama-saṅgamanī commentary.
13- Ujjvala-nīlamaṇi with Locana-rocanī commentary.
14- Yogasāra-stavaka with commentary.
15-Agni Purāṇastha gāyatrī-bhāṣya is a commentary of gāyatrī-mantra.
16-Padma Purāṇokta Kṛṣṇa-pada-padma-chihna describes the insignia found on the feet of Kṛṣṇa according to the text of the Padma Purāṇa.
17-Śrī Rādhikā-kara-pada-sthitā-chihna describes the insignia found on the hands and feet of Rādhā.
18-Laghu Vaiṣṇava Toṣanī is a commentary to the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
19- Krama-sandarbha is a commentary on the 10th Canto of the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
20-Gopāla-campū is a poetic work divided into two parts. The first part is the Pūrva-campū, which has 33 chapters and describes Kṛṣṇa’s life in Vṛndāvana. The second section, the Uttara-campū has 37 chapters and describes the pastimes of Kṛṣṇa after he leaves Vṛndāvana and the separation the residents of Vṛndāvana feel in his absence.
According to Jīva Gosvāmī himself, Gopāla Bhaṭṭa Gosvāmī had already done the preliminary work on these books (Ṣaṭ Sandarbhas) but could not complete them. Jīva took the work of Gopāla Bhaṭṭa and expanded it into six books wherein he systematically presents the philosophy of Caitanya Mahāprabhu with scriptural evidences. Jīva also wrote an extensive auto-commentary to the Sandarbhas called Sarva-samvādinī. The Ṣaṭ Sandarbhas are as follows:
21- Tattva-sandarbha is a treatise on the various types of evidences (pramāṇas) used in Vedic philosophy. Jīva’s conclusion is that śabda (divine sound in the form of the Vedic scriptures) is the highest, and of all the scriptures, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa is the highest.
22- Bhāgavata-sandarbha makes the distinction between the impersonal aspect of Godhead (Brahman), the localized form of God within the heart of each living being (Paramātmā) and the highest personal aspect of Godhead (Kṛṣṇa or Bhagavān). He also describes the spiritual realm of Kṛṣṇa, the modes of material nature, the mode of pure goodness (viśuddha-sattva), the importance of worshipping the deity of Kṛṣṇa and the nature and qualities of the Deity.
23- Paramātmā-sandarbha describes the Supersoul (Paramātmā) and how the Supersoul resides in the hearts of all beings. The differences amongst incarnations is also discussed as well as the nature of the conditioned living entity, the illusory potency (Māyā), the temporal world, the theory of transformation, the various avatāras of Kṛṣṇa and how they respond to the desires of the Vaiṣṇava, and how God is characterized by six particular opulences.
24- Kṛṣṇa-sandarbha gives a number of quotes from various scriptures to prove that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme god. He also discusses the pastimes and qualities of Kṛṣṇa as well as his avatāras and functionary expansions. There is a description of Goloka, the planet of Kṛṣṇa in relation to Vṛndāvana in the material sphere, the associates of Kṛṣṇa and their expansions and there is also a description of the gopīs and the topmost position of Rādhā amongst them.
25- Bhakti-sandarbha explains how devotion to Kṛṣṇa is executed. It also discusses varṇāśrama-dharma (the socio-religious system established in scriptures), the superexcellent position of devotion to Kṛṣṇa as compared to other conceptions such as yoga, and the worship of minor deities as being futile in comparison to the worship of Kṛṣṇa’s devotees. The text also explains liberation of the soul, the position of Śiva as a devotee of Kṛṣṇa, how unmotivated devotion to Kṛṣṇa promotes a devotee to the highest spiritual position and numerous other points concerning the performance of Vaiṣṇava devotion.
26- Prīti-sandarbha is a treatise on divine love, the supreme object being Kṛṣṇa. Love for God (prema) is considered by Jīva to be the highest form of liberation. Jīva goes on to make a comparative study of other types of liberation but finally concludes that prema-bhakti is topmost. There is also a discussion on how to attain Prema, how to awaken it, and the symptoms of one who has attained it. Prīti-sandarbha also discusses the distinctions between mundane lust and divine love, the various mellows found amongst the associates of Kṛṣṇa, the super-excellence of mādhurya-rasa (divine conjugal love), the overlapping of different rasas, and the glories of Rādhā.
Duty of the Disciple
Many fantastical narratives have been passed down thru the centuries about Jīva Gosvāmī and other famous devotees of Vṛndāvana but these narratives although illuminating the greatness of the saint by the miracles they performed, often negate the dutiful position of a bona fide disciple. One such narration however that truly demonstrates the position of a disciple is as follows:
Once upon a time a certain dig-vijayī scholar, eager to amass mundane prestige, came to Rūpa and Sanātana to get their signature as an admission of defeat in debate. Jīva’s gurus conceded defeat without any argument and the arrogant scholar proclaimed them to be nothing but ignorant fools. He then asked Jīva to also sign such an admission of defeat. Jīva, however, decided to take on the puffed-up scholar in debate in order to silence his slanderous tongue. Jīva boldly debated the so-called scholar and soundly defeated him and sent him on his way. In this way, he preserved the integrity of his spiritual master’s reputation and demonstrated the ideal behavior of a disciple who is guru-devatātmā, i.e., one who recognizes his spiritual master to be his worshipable deity and source of life. One who understands the true duty and relationship between the guru and disciple as shown by Jīva Gosvāmī becomes eligible to purely chant the holy name of Kṛṣṇa.
Jīva’s Last Will and Testament
Before leaving this world in 1608 (Śakābda 1530), Śrī Jīva made a will, bequeathing his Deities, library and properties to the head pūjāri of Rādhā-Dāmodara, Śrī Vilāsa Dāsa. After Jīva’s disappearance Śrī Vilāsa remained as the custodian for a short time before passing on the responsibility to Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa as was indicated in Jīva’s will. Since Kṛṣṇa Dāsa was a brahmacārī and had no issue he eventually requested two of his nephews to come from Bengal to take charge of the temple and perform the worship of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara.
For the interest of the devotees we have herein included a translation of Jīva Gosvāmī’s last will and testament.
“Jayate Śrī Śrī Rādhā Kṛṣṇa Who Yearn to Confer Happiness Upon One Another”
On the second day of the dark half of the month of Mārgaśīrṣa in the Samvat year 1663 (1607 CE) this is the Will and Testament of Jīva, a resident of Śrī Śrī Vṛndāvana and a follower of the lotus feet of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Sanātana.
This entire undertaking is mine and is all for the sake of facilitating the service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Rādhā who have manifested in Their wonderful Deity forms which I worship. And that service is conveyed in the first instance to Śrī Vilāsa Dāsa, a sādhu who has totally dedicated his life to the Supreme Truth. Thus, all materials that have been gathered as a means of serving Them are to be bequeathed to belong to Śrī Vilāsa Dāsa in direct succession to me.
However, if after my physical death, he should desire to give up these rights either as a result of renunciation or due to disability and if the most virtuous brāhmaṇa Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa, son of Śrī Bhāratācārya, at that time still also continues in the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Rādhā Who have presently been revealed, then the said Śrī Vilāsa Dāsa shall freely convey to him by Will the service and materials instrumental in the service together with Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Rādhā Who are the objects of that service, the premises including books, all my possessions.
No other person has any right in this matter. O surely no other could have any rights, given that I have conveyed my own property. Whosever might dispute it would indeed contravene the service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Śrī Rādhā and would be liable for punishment by the Vaiṣṇava community and temporal rulers.
If however, the brāhmaṇa Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa’s circumstances should alter, Śrī Vilāsa Dāsa shall convey the property of his own accord to any other fit person. And if Śrī Vilāsa Dāsa’s circumstances should alter during my lifetime, I shall after due consideration dispose of the property myself.
Furthermore, this is a document in my own hand, there are 1000 witnesses. For, as many as will see the said handwriting, each one may bear witness. If this matter has not now been made clear to all persons, then indeed there is a danger that some person in authority will infringe it selfishly. But if there should be concern about my death then I shall communicate this matter clearly to all persons.
That this may be authoritative. And further it is requested that all whosoever are my most chosen colleagues will collaborate therein. Kalyāṇam astu, kalyāṇam astu (may there by auspiciousness, may there by auspiciousness).
Traveling to Jaipur
In 1670, when the Moghul Emperor Aurangzeb invaded Śrī Vṛndāvana with his armies, he planned to destroy many temples and deface the Deities. At this instant Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara manifest their pastime of traveling to the city of Jaipur in Rajasthan at the auspicious invitation of the Rajput kings. Other Deities of Vṛndāvana such as Rādhā- Govinda, Rādhā-Gopīnātha and Rādhā-Madana-mohana also manifest their pastimes of traveling to Rajasthan where they took up permanent residence. However, in 1739 Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara manifested their līlā of returning to Vṛndāvana and again taking up residence in their original temple, the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira.
Temple Samādhis and Bhajana-kuṭīras
There are four main samādhis in the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira and numerous puṣpa–samādhis of Vaiṣṇavas of note. The four main samādhis are those of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī, Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī and Śrī Bhūgarbha Gosvāmī. Other samādhis include those of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Dāsa and the forefathers of Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī. Puṣpa-samādhis include those of Mahārāja Vīra Hamvīra and Queen Sulakṣana, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, Śrī Sakhī-caraṇa Bhakti-vijaya, Śrī Bhakti Pramoda Purī Mahārāja, Śrī Bhakti Kusuma Śramaṇa Mahārāja, Śrī Bhaktivedānta Muni Mahārāja, Śrī Bhakti Kamala Madhusūdana Mahārāja and Śrī Bhakti Soudha Āśrama Mahārāja.
There are also numerous other puṣpa-samādhis of nirupādhi-vaiṣṇavas at Rādhā-Dāmodara that are not mentioned here.
The two principle bhajana-kuṭīras that are being maintained by the sevaite-ācāryas of the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira are those of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda.
Temple Festivals and Pūjās
Many pilgrims come to the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira everyday and especially during the times of festival such as Jīva Gosvāmī’s Tirobhāva, Holi, Candana-yatra, Guru-pūrṇimā, Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Tirobhāva, Jhulana-yatra, Janmaṣṭamī, Rādhāṣṭamī, Kārttika, Govardhana-pūjā (Annakūṭa) and Tulasī-śālāgrāma Vivāha.
Daily pūjās and āratis at the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira are as follows:
Daily Deity Schedule
4:45am – Bhoga & Maṅgala Ārati
5:00am to 7:00am Śṛṅgāra
7:00am – Darśana Ārati
8:00am – Bhoga & Dhūpa Ārati
11:00am – Śṛṅgāra Ārati
12:00am – Rāja-bhoga & Rāja-bhoga Ārati
12:30am – Rest
5:00pm – Bhoga & Afternoon Dhūpa Ārati
7:30pm – Sandhya Ārati
8:30pm – closing for Olai Śṛṅgāra (evening dress)
9:30pm – Bhoga & Śayana Ārati
Bhajanas and Kīrtanas
Some of the kīrtanas and bhajanas sung at the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira are as follows:
Daily songs sung at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple
Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahā-mantra
Gaura Sandhyā Ārati by Vīra Vallabha Dāsa
Rādhāra Ārati by Manohara dasa
Madana-gopāla Ārati by Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī
Tulasī Ārati by Kṛṣṇa Dāsa
Stutis Chanted After Sandhya Ārati
Songs sung during the month of Kārttika
Śrī Guru Vandanā by Vaiṣṇava Dāsa
Gaura-kiśora Maṅgala Āratī by Kṛṣṇa Dāsa
Kothāya Go Prema-Mayī by Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī
Śrī Rādhikā-stava by Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī
Songs on the disappearance days of Śrī Rūpa and Śrī Jīva
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī Sūcaka Kīrtana by Rādhā Vallabha Dāsa
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī Sūcaka Kīrtana by Raghunātha Dāsa
All these kīrtanas and bhajanas can be found in Appendix 2 in this book.
From the period when Jīva Gosvāmī entered the eternal realm of Goloka Vṛndāvana in 1608 and Kṛṣṇa Dāsa became heir to the service of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara and subsequently passed that service on to his nephews the service at the temple has continued for the past four hundred years (1608 to 2008). The paramparā of thirteen generations of the sevaite-ācāryas of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara since the time of Jīva Gosvāmī is listed as follows:
Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī
Śrī Kṛṣṇa Das Gosvāmī
Śrī Nanda-kumāra Gosvāmī
Śrī Vraja Kumāra Gosvāmī
Śrī Vṛndāvana Deva Gosvāmī
Śrī Gopī-ramaṇa Gosvāmī
Śrī Vraja-lal Gosvāmī
Śrī Naval Lal Gosvāmī
Śrī Govinda Lal Gosvāmī
Śrī Keśavānanda Gosvāmī
Śrī Vraja-mohana Deva Gosvāmī
Śrī Govinda Vallabhī Devya Gosvāmī
Śrī Gauracanda Gosvāmī
Śrī Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī
Dāmodara and Kārttika
Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī composed a book called Mathurā-mahatmyā wherein he has established the glories of Mathurā-maṇḍala and the worship of Śrī Dāmodara during Kārttika. Some of those verses are presented here.
dāmodaratvaṁ hi hares tatraivāsīt yataḥ kila
mathurāyaṁ tataś corje vaikuṇṭha-prīti-vardhanaḥ
kārttike mathurāyāṁ vai paramāvadhir iṣyate
“The month of Kārttika, when Śrī Hari enjoyed His Dāmodara-pastime in Mathurā, delights Śrī Vaikuṇṭha. The month of Kārttika spent in Mathurā brings the supreme destination.”
mathurāyāṁ narair ūrje snātvā dāmodaro ‘rcitaḥ
kṛṣṇa-rūpa hi te jñeyā nātra kāryā vicāraṇā
“They who, after properly bathing, worship Śrī Dāmodara in Mathurā during Kārttika, attain forms like that of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Of this there is no doubt.”
sa tv añjāsa harer bhaktir labhyate kārttike naraiḥ
mathurāyāṁ sakṛd api śrī-dāmodara-sevana
“By once serving Śrī Dāmodara in Mathurā during Kārttika, the people can easily attain pure devotional service to Śrī Hari.”
tasman nṛpatmaja śreyaḥ paraṁ kiñcin na vidyate
karttike mathurayaṁ ca śrī-damodara-pujanat
“Therefore, O prince, nothing is better than to serve Śrī Dāmodara in Mathurā during Kārttika.”
Similar verses glorifying Dāmodara and the month of Kārttika can also be found in Sanātana Gosvāmī’s Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 16th chapter as follows:
kārttike ‘smin viśeṣeṇa nityaṁ kurvīta vaiṣṇavaḥ
“Especially in the month of Kārttika a Vaiṣṇava should regularly bathe in the morning, worship Lord Dāmodara, give charity, follow vows, and perform other spiritual activities.”
avratena kṣiped yas tu māsaṁ dāmodara-priyam
tiryag-yoṇim avāpnoti sarva-dharma-bahis-kṛtaḥ
“A person who does not follow the vow in this month that is dear to Lord Dāmodara finds himself outside all religious principles. He takes birth in an animal’s womb.”
ekataḥ sarva-tīrthāni sarve yajñāḥ sa-dakṣiṇāḥ
ekataḥ puṣkare vāsaḥ kurukṣetre himācale
meru-tulya-suvarṇāni sarva-dānāni caikataḥ
ekataḥ kārttiko vatsa sarvadā keśava-priyaḥ
“All holy places, yajñas, dakṣiṇās, residence in Puṣkara, Kurukṣetra, and the Himalayas, and all giving in charity a pile of gold like Mount Meru, reside in Kārttika, Lord Keśava’s favorite month.”
kārttikaṁ khalu vai māsaṁ sarva-māseṣu cottamam
puṇyānāṁ paramaṁ puṇyaṁ pāvanānāṁ ca pāvanam
“Kārttika is the best of months, the most pious of pious deeds, the most purifying of all that purify.”
kārttikaḥ pravaro māso vaiṣṇavānāṁ priyaḥ sadā
kārttikaṁ sakalaṁ yas tu bhaktyā seveta vaiṣṇavaḥ
pitṛn uddharate sarvān naraka-sthān mahā-mune
“Kārttika is the best of months. Kārttika is always dear to the Vaiṣṇavas. O great sage, a Vaiṣṇava who with devotion serves Kārttika delivers his ancestors from hell.”
yathā dāmodaro bhakta-vatsalo vidito janaiḥ
tasyāyaṁ tādṛśo māsaḥ sv-alpam apy uru-kārakaḥ
“As everyone knows, Lord Dāmodara loves His devotees. Lord Dāmodara’s month, the month of Kārttika, also loves the devotees. The month of Kārttika thinks even the slightest devotional service is very big and important.”
dīpenāpi hi yatrāsau prīyate harir īśvaraḥ
su-gītaṁ ca dadāty eva para-dīpa-prabodhanāt
“Lord Kṛṣṇa is pleased by the offering of a single lamp during the month of Kārttika. Lord Kṛṣṇa glorifies anyone who lights a lamp for someone else to offer.”
jāgaraṁ kārttike māsi yaḥ karoty aruṇodaye
dāmodarāgre viprendra go-sahasra-phalaṁ labhet
“O king of brāhmaṇas, a person who during the month of Kārttika keeps an all-night vigil, in the presence of Lord Dāmodara staying awake until sunrise, attains the pious result of giving a thousand cows in charity.”
pādme ca tatraiva
kārttike bhūmi-śāyī yo brahmacārī haviṣya-bhuk
palāśa-patraṁ bhuñjāno dāmodaram athārcayet
sa sarva-pātakaṁ hitvā vaikuṇṭhe hari-sannidhau
modate viṣṇu-sadṛśo bhajanānanda-nirvṛtaḥ
“In the Padma Purāṇa it is said: During the month of Kārttika one should sleep on the floor, remain celibate, eat haviṣya from a palāśa-leaf plate, and worship Lord Dāmodara. In this way one becomes free of all sins, goes to the spiritual world, attains a spiritual body like the Lord’s, and enjoys the bliss of directly serving Lord Hari.”
śṛṇu dīpasya māhātmyaṁ kārttike keśava-priyam
dīpa-dānena viprendra na punar jāyate bhuvi
“Please hear the glories of offering a lamp during the month of Kārttika, an offering that is very pleasing to Lord Keśava. O king of brāhmaṇas, a person who offers a lamp in this way will not take birth again in this world.”
ekataḥ sarva-dānāni dīpa-dānāni caikataḥ
kārttike na samaṁ proktaṁ dīpa-do hy adhikaḥ smṛtaḥ
“In the Nārada Purāṇa, in a conversation of Śrī Mohinī-devī and Śrī Rukmāṅgada, it is said: Of all gifts the gift of a lamp during the month of Kārttika is the best. No gift is its equal.”
mathurāyāṁ narair ūrje snātvā dāmodaro ‘rcitaḥ
kṛṣṇa-rūpā hi te jñeyā nātra kāryā vicāraṇā
“They who bathe and then worship Lord Dāmodara in Mathurā during the month of Kārttika attain spiritual forms like Lord Kṛṣṇa’s. Of this there is no doubt.”
bhuktiṁ muktiṁ harir dadyād arcito ‘nyatra sevinām
bhaktiṁ ca na dadāty eṣa yato vaśya-karī hariḥ
sa tv añjasā harer bhaktir labhyate kārttike naraiḥ
mathurāyāṁ sakṛd api śrī-dāmodara-pūjanāt
“To the devotees who worship Him in other places, Lord Kṛṣṇa gives happiness and liberation, but He does not give devotional service, for devotional service turns Him into His devotee’s servant. Still, one can very easily attain devotional service by once worshiping Lord Dāmodara in Mathurā during Kārttika.”
yasya pāpasya yujyeta maraṇāntā viniṣkṛtiḥ
tac-chuddhy-artham idaṁ proktaṁ prāyaścittaṁ su-niścitam
kārttike mathurāyāṁ vai śrī-dāmodara-pūjanam
“Worship of Lord Dāmodara in Mathurā during the month of Kārttika is the proper atonement for a lifetime of sins.”
rajataṁ kanakaṁ dīpān mani-muktāphalādikam
dāmodarasya prīty-arthaṁ pradadyāt kārttike naraḥ
“During the month of Kārttika a person should offer silver, gold, lamps, jewels, pearls, and other valuables to please Lord Dāmodara.”
tataḥ priyatamā viṣṇo rādhikā gopikāsu ca
kārttike pūjanīyā ca śrī-dāmodara-sannidhau
“In the Padma Purāṇa it is said: Because She is the gopī most dear to Lord Viṣṇu, Śrī Rādhā should be worshiped along with Lord Dāmodara during the month of Kārttika.”
dvijaṁ dāmodaraṁ kṛtvā tat-patnīṁ rādhikāṁ tathā
kārttike pūjanīyau tau vaso-‘laṅkāra-bhojanaiḥ
“Dressing Lord Dāmodara as a brāhmaṇa and Śrī Rādhā as His wife, one should worship them with nice garments, ornaments, and foods during the month of Kārttika.”
rādhikā-pratimāṁ vipraḥ pūjayet kārttike tu yaḥ
tasya tuṣyati tat-prītyai śrīmān dāmodaro hariḥ. iti.
“O brāhmaṇas, during the month of Kārttika one should worship the Deity of Śrī Rādhā. To please Śrī Rādhā, Lord Dāmodara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, will be pleased with that worshiper.”
dāmodarāṣṭakaṁ nāma stotraṁ dāmodarārcanam
nityaṁ dāmodarākarṣi paṭhet satyavratoditam
“One should regularly recite the prayer called Dāmodarāṣṭaka, which was spoken by Satyavrata, which attracts Lord Dāmodara, and which describes the worship of Lord Dāmodara.”
Prabhupāda at Rādhā-Dāmodara
His Divine Grace Śrīla A.C. Bhaktivedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, the foremost preacher of Kṛṣṇa Consciousness in the western world, first came to live at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple in 1959.
Once while visiting the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple for darśana, the sevaite of the temple, Śrī Gauracanda Gosvāmī, approached Śrīla Prabhupāda and understanding him to be a great saintly person invited Śrīla Prabhupāda to come and live there.
Śrīla Prabhupāda accepted the invitation and took two rooms on the top floor but later shifted to two rooms on the ground floor adjoining the courtyard. One room became his kitchen and the other a study where he would perform his bhajana and write his Bhaktivedānta Purports on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.
Three times during his life his guru, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura had appeared to Śrīla Prabhupāda in dreams and encouraged him to accept sannyāsa, the renounced order of life but Śrīla Prabhupāda did not see how the time was right. He had many other duties and services to complete first. In the final dream Śrīla Prabhupāda’s guru spoke clearly and unequivocally, “Now take sannyāsa and you will actually be able to accomplish your mission. Formally the time was not right.” For Śrīla Prabhupāda this was the final confirmation and so he prepared himself and approached his godbrother, Śrī Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Mahārāja to give him sannyāsa. After accepting sannyāsa on September 17th 1959 Śrīla Prabhupāda returned to Vṛndāvana to reside as a sannyāsī at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple.
Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī, son of Gauracanda Gosvāmī, remembers when Śrīla Prabhupāda first came to Rādhā-Dāmodara.
“I first met Prabhupāda before 1959, before he took up permanent residence here at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple. At that time he wore white. He used to come here regularly and take darśana of Rādhā-Dāmodara and Śrī Giriraja-śilā. After darśana he would go to Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi and chant japa for about an hour. At that time he was staying at the Vaṁśī-Gopāla Temple.
“After he took sannyāsa from Keśava Mahārāja, he came to Rādhā-Dāmodara temple wearing saffron cloth. He was standing before the Deities and my father gave him a garland and some mahā-prasāda tulasī. Actually at that time my father’s eyesight was very poor but somehow he understood that this person was not an ordinary sādhu. He approached him and requested him to stay at Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple and perform his sadhana. Prabhupāda replied that, ‘If you allow then I will take your words on my head.'”
In the early morning at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, Śrīla Prabhupāda would write his books and chant japa. He would then circumambulate the samādhis of Jīva Gosvāmī and Rūpa Gosvāmī. At 10:00am he would go to take darśana of the other temples in Vṛndāvana, purchase vegetables and return by around 11:00am to cook. Using a kerosene burner and a brass three-tier cooker, he would prepare rice, dahl, potatoes, chapattis and subji.
After the rāja-bhoga offering to Rādhā-Dāmodara, Śrīla Prabhupāda would take his daily meal along with Deity mahā-prasādam. After honoring mahā-prasādam Śrīla Prabhupāda would rest for 15 minutes or so and then resume his writing. In the evening he would take a cup of hot milk provided by Gauracanda Gosvāmī’s family. Śrīla Prabhupāda remembers his early days at Rādhā-Dāmodara –
“Everyday I was going to the samādhi of Jīva Gosvāmī and Rūpa Gosvāmī, and also praying to Rūpa Gosvāmī to write down these three volumes of Bhāgavatam. And this is the place where I was actually writing in my room.
“I was circumambulating the temple everyday and offering obeisances to the samadhīs of Rūpa Gosvāmī and Jīva Gosvāmī. And by their mercy I was praying to Rādhā-Dāmodara that I should fulfill the desire of my Guru Mahārāja, and go to the western world and preach.”
Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī remembers some of Śrīla Prabhupāda’s daily activities at Rādhā-Dāmodara.
“Early in the morning Prabhupāda would go to take his bath in the Yamunā then he would come back to Rādhā-Dāmodara temple for maṅgala-ārati. Actually, before he came here, I did not know how to take bath in the Yamunā during wintertime. There is a particular way to take bath in the Yamunā in the cold season. You have to go in where the water is two or three feet deep – there it is very warm. Prabhupāda taught me this. I went with him many times for bath in the Yamunā early in the morning.
“When he returned from the Yamunā, he would quickly change his cloth and apply tilaka and when he heard the gong he would come out with his mṛdaṅga and attend the maṅgala-ārati. In those days there were not many people that attended the maṅgala-ārati, so Prabhupāda would sing and a few bābājīs would follow.
“Then he would return to his room and sing some bhajanas alone, playing kartālas. He especially liked to sing ‘Śrī Rūpa-mañjarī-pada’. Then, he would go and sit in front of Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi and chant japa for about an hour or so before returning to his room to start writing. I can remember as I would be decorating the Deities I would hear ‘tak, tak, tak’ as Prabhupāda typed in his room.
“At 9:00 he would sit on the veranda and put mustard oil on his body, then he would take bath and go out for darśana at different temples and also to buy vegetables from the market. He would come back by 11:30 and attend the rāja-bhoga ārati then return to his kitchen and start cooking. He had one small cooker in his kitchen. He would cook a small amount and when he saw the prasādam being transferred to the kitchen near my father’s room he would come over with a tiffin and do mādhukarī from my mother. He used to call my mother ‘Mā Gosāin.’ He would then take prasādam and take rest for half an hour.
“During that time one lady, Sarojinī (her initiated name was Sudevī) would come and wash Prabhupāda’s pots and one old man called Heeralal who lived on the gate would broom the temple and Prabhupāda’s veranda. When Prabhupāda woke up, again he would start writing. At 5:00 in the evening he would leave and go for darśana of the major temples of Vṛndāvana – Govinda, Gopinātha, Madana-mohana. When he returned to Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple my mother would prepare him some hot milk before resting. As a sannyāsī Prabhupāda was very simple in his needs.
“Prabhupāda would also write at night. He slept in the night very little, only for five hours at the most and sometimes only two or three. He was always thinking of verses from the Bhāgavatam and translations. If any verse came to his mind, he would stop what he was doing and write it down immediately. Even if he was sleeping and he thought of a verse, he would wake up and write it down.
“When he gave classes on his veranda, about six or seven people would sit there and listen to him and have discussions with him. He would sometimes laugh very sweetly when he gave lectures. Sometimes he would talk about Kṛṣṇa as makhana-cora (the butter thief) and begin to laugh. Sometimes during kīrtana he would dance also. When he did so I remember it was very beautiful. He would come to my father’s room sometimes and talk about topics from Caitanya-caritāmṛta and Mahāprabhu.
“Prabhupāda’s sister Piśimā also visited him here at Rādhā-Dāmodara. I used to affectionately call her ‘Piśi’. When Prabhupāda moved here some of his family members sometimes came to visit him – his brother (Kṛṣṇa-caraṇa), his brother’s wife, children. They would come and stay in another guest room and take prasādam, but he never asked them to come and stay with him in his rooms. My mother would arrange prasādam for any of his family members who visited him. Svāmī Bon Mahārāja would come to see him also sometimes.”
A local shopkeeper in Vṛndāvana, Heeralal Gupta, remembers how Śrīla Prabhupāda came to his shop performing mādhukarī when he (Heeralal) was a young man.
“Prabhupāda was not like ordinary sādhus who do mādhukarī for getting something to eat, chapattis, rice and such things. No, Prabhupāda was different. Prabhupāda came to our family shop on several occasions to do mādhukarī, but he told us he had not come to beg food. He requested us to kindly give him pen and paper so that he could carry on his writing and preaching. So we gave him pen and paper according to our means. This we remember very distinctly.”
From his kitchen Śrīla Prabhupāda would often gaze out of the small window into the courtyard where Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi is situated. He later said that he received great inspiration from Rūpa Gosvāmī and that his plans for spreading Kṛṣṇa Consciouness were formulated during his years at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple.
Śrīla Prabhupāda also wrote the following prayer while residing at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple:
vṛndāvana ramya-sthāna, sevā-kuñja tāra nāma,
tāṅhāra caraṇe mui, ekānta āśraya lai,
kṛpā kari’ kara mora gati
“Śrī Vṛndāvana is a charming place, and situated in the grove known as Sevā-kuñja is the temple of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara. Their lotus feet are my only shelter, and I appeal to Them to give me Their mercy and guide me to the ultimate goal of life.: (Maṅgalācaraṇa of Gītā-gāna)
In 1961 while staying in his rooms at Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote a very moving Vyāsa-pūjā offering of eighty stanzas to his Guru Mahārāja, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura. The offering glorified the special characteristics of Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta. The translation from the Bengali follows:
- On this day my master, I made a cry of grief; I was not able to tolerate the absence of my guru.
- On this auspicious day I have come with this offering just to worship you, remembering your lotus feet.
- Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s judgment is that renunciation is most important. Not only that, but such knowledge must be delivered to every conditioned being.
- The beginner in devotional service has no ability to solve this dilemma, but you are a mahā-bhāgavata, you have given us direction.
- One bewildered by ignorance, what kind of renunciate can he be? He will only be a phalgu-vairāgī – renouncing externally.
- Renunciation is actually the result of real spiritual emotion. Without such feeling it is simply known as show-bottle.
- But there is another ‘show-bottle’ for the purpose of preaching. That is the Lord’s sannyāsa by which the Māyāvādīs are defeated.
- Lord Caitanya’s philosophy is beyond varṇāśrama; it is bhāgavata-dharma, for putting an end to all cheating processes of religion.
- Performing dry renunciation there can be no real preaching. Therefore yukta vairāgya is given the highest essential understanding.
- “That sannyāsa which I have given you” is for preaching in devotion. The faithless sense enjoyers are unable to understand this.
- Generally the sannyāsīs renounce everything and go and stay in the mountain caves, but you, O master, keep your sannyāsīs in mansions of marble.
- To see a sense enjoyer is just like drinking poison, but you, O my master, go far and near, even abroad, to give them your darśana.
- Mlecchas and Yāvanas are forbidden to enter the Hindu temples, but you my Lord, make them chairmen and sit them in the assembly of devotees.
- Hindus are not allowed to cross the ocean, but you send your devotees overseas to preach.
- In the cities of Kali-yuga, the instructions of the bona fide spiritual preceptors are forbidden. Still you remain here in any way possible.
- The devotees want to hide in a secluded place to perform their bhajan. You, however, do not accept this in your judgment.
- Whenever there is an increase in population, there in that place preaching is to be found.
- In London you want a student hostel. You explain that it must be first-class.
- In the land of barbarians students hostel for preaching hari-kathā! Who can understand the significance of these things?
- To resolve all the apparent contradictory statements is not the play of some incompetent fool.
- If everyone simply sat down together and considered these things, what nice preaching there could be.
- What is your order also, that everyone, coming together, should merge in your message and preach it to the world.
- If everyone just initiates then there will only be a contradictory result. As long as it goes on there will be only failure.
- Now even, my godbrothers, you return here to the order of our master, and together we engage in his pūjā.
- But simply a festival of flowers and fruits does not constitute worship. The one who serves the message of the guru really worships him.
- The service of the message is the real meaning of the Vedas. Don’t be proud, brothers, come back to this.
- Kalidasa Nag (a learned man who was defeated by Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura and later became his disciple), that master said in a public forum one day.
- That Kali’s mission was to kill the entire world while the essential meaning of Lord Caitanya’s message has been kept locked up in a cage.
- O shame! My dear brothers, aren’t you embarrassed? In the manner of businessmen you increase your disciples.
- Our master said to preach. Let the neophytes stay in the temples and ring the bells.
- All these things are not our spiritual master’s preaching methods. These are all the things done by the caste Gosvāmīs.
- But just take a look at the terrible situation that has arisen. Everyone has become a sense enjoyer and has given up preaching.
- In the temples they have also begun to lock the doors. Preach this bhāgavata-dharma, don’t hesitate.
- Within this world is another world, whose sound is the unequaled penetrating force.
- The preaching that, “a mullah (Muslim priest) only goes as far as the mosque and no further” should be put to an end today.
- From the seas, across the earth, penetrate the universal shell, come together and preach this Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
- Then our master’s service will be in proper order. Make your promise today. Give up all your politics and diplomacy.
- Everyone come together on this day and make your valued comment. The five of you get together and decide what should be done.
- You have become renouncers, brothers, so renounce everything. But if you also renounce the order of the spiritual master, then what kind of renunciation is that?
- The one who renounces the guru’s order (guru-tyāgi) and the one who tries to enjoy the assets of his spiritual master (guru-bhogi) are two kinds of useless persons. First become a servant of your spiritual master (guru-sevi) and then you will understand things clearly.
- If there is only one Supreme Lord, then a true sādhu, if his faith increases, he gives up the desire for profit, distinction and adoration in the material world.
- Your gold, brother, is the father of sense gratification. This meaningful statement was spoken by Śrīla Prabhupāda himself.
- Give up your wealth for preaching. Sit down together and make some special judgment.
- The Supreme Lord says that everything is Mine. Don’t protest. Just unite and preach.
- Śrīla Prabhupāda gave this final message himself. Take care to follow that completely in all respects.
- Otherwise your sannyāsa will be wasted and useless. O saintly ones, be careful; afterwards you will regret.
- So what is the difficulty for all of us to come together in this way and why do all these things even have to be said to you?
- Give up your stubbornness, there is no time. Come all my brothers on this auspicious holy occasion.
- When will that day come when there will be a temple established in every house in every corner of the world?
- When the big court judge will be a Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava with tilaka beautifully decorating his forehead.
- A Vaiṣṇava winning votes will be elected president of the land and preaching will spread everywhere.
- The demons simply plunder the Lord’s wealth. The hapless populace cry, “Hai Hai” in distress.
- The demons want so many plans just to cheat the people. They sell wheat flour at 32 rupees a mound.
- Will opening a factory fill a hungry man’s belly? Being oppressed by starvation they will eat grass and mango seeds.
- Wearing a two paisa string a man is called a brāhmaṇa. Wearing a saffron cloth he has become a sannyāsī.
- The householders beg from sannyāsīs, and why not? The sannyāsīs have tens of millions of rupees in the bank.
- As the days pass, the influence of Kali-yuga increases and the poor are crying in distress.
- Ten thousand cows are killed daily and the nations expert leaders are all eating untouchable foodstuffs.
- People of muddy intelligence increase day by day. A man and his wife separate on mere word.
- Everyone has become a witch by the influence of this age. Everyone is unhappy due to the absence of the mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas.
- The Vaiṣṇavas are famous as ‘para-duḥkha-duḥkhī.’ This fame will increase as the preaching increases.
- If eternally pure devotional service to Kṛṣṇa is awakened in everyone, then Kali will flee, screaming of his own accord.
- Prāṇinan upakāraya – do work for the benefit of all living beings. This is Mahāprabhu’s teachings. This is the storehouse of happiness in this life and the next.
- So much work has fallen into your hands, so gather together and do it.
- Vāsudeva Datta said to the Lord, paying his obeisances, save all the living beings in the material world.
- Give all their sins and suffering to me, who am the lowest of all. In this way all the suffering and miseries of the fallen will end.
- He was the best of the Vaiṣṇavas – para duḥkha duḥkhī. He knows that there is not real happiness in gratifying the senses.
- And what kind of mercy can the non-Vaiṣṇavas give? They simply make offenses by their ‘Daridra Nārāyaṇa’ philosophy.
- The mercy of the Vaiṣṇavas is scientific and authorized, without their mercy this world is simply insurmountable māyā.
- If there is a kingdom of Viṣṇu and Vaiṣṇavas on the surface of the earth, then the world will be happy–so say the great sages and ṛṣis.
- Why is everyone crying for Rāma-rājya? The only way it can be had is if there is a Viṣṇu centered kingdom.
- Lord Kṛṣṇa enthroned King Yudhisthīra; then the whole world was rich and fortunate due to the qualities of a Vaiṣṇava.
- The streams, rivers, trees and fields and mountains, were all full of fruits and flowers. The milk-laden cows were floating in abundant milk.
- The birds, beasts and lower creatures were all non-envious. Material life in the Vaiṣṇava kingdom was regulated and perfect.
- All immersed in bliss, singing the glories of the Hari. The hearts of Vaiṣṇavas dance in ecstasy to see this.
- The entire world is filled with the use of material objects, without a trace of devotion to the Lord.
- Still they are searching after peace. Preach Kṛṣṇa consciousness; fulfill their desires.
- Today my brothers, get to this task. Save the battered souls by your preaching.
- Śrīla Prabhupāda, please be merciful today. This time have compassion. You are not a conditioned soul of this material world.
- Whatever independence we have, let it be cast to the waters. The lowly Abhaya offers this presentation today.
In the six years that Śrīla Prabhupāda stayed at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple before departing for America he also wrote his first two essays, Easy Journey to Other Planets and In search of the Ultimate Goal of Life. He also composed Gītār-gāna (a Bengali poem on Bhagavad-gītā) at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple and completed the first three volumes of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam, wrote various articles for Back to Godhead and Bhāgavata-darśana.
In 1964 he organized a Janmāṣṭamī mahotsava at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple that was attended by the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, Śrī Biswanath Das. The celebrations were well attended and the Governor and other chief guests sat in the courtyard of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and glorified Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī remembers.
“In 1964 Prabhupāda held a Janmāṣṭamī celebration with Svāmī Bon Mahārāja at Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple. Prabhupāda told me once that he wanted me to perform first class Deity service and especially in regards to the decoration and bhoga. Whenever I made a nice śṛṅgara he would comment. He liked my service. Prabhupāda asked me to come to America and when he arrived there he wrote and asked me that “Pañcu, you should come here and teach the devotees I am making how to cook and do pūjā.” My family name is ‘Pañca-nana’ but Prabhupāda’s nickname for me was ‘Pañcu’. At that time i was about 16 or 17 years old.
“He also instructed me how to learn verses from the Bhagavad-gītā with a very beautiful tune. In this way I learned many verses from the Gītā. Unfortunately my father became blind in the last years of his life and I had to take up all the management and sevā at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, so I could not complete Prabhupāda’s instruction to learn the whole Bhagavad-gītā.
“While living here, Prabhupāda would sometimes discuss with my father how he felt that he was receiving the mercy of the Gosvāmīs to write and translate his books. He discussed these things with my father on several occasions. He wrote the first three volumes of Śrīmad Bhāgavatam in his rooms here as well as some other small books.
“Prabhupāda once told my father that at Rādhā-Dāmodara he received direct permission from his Gurudeva to go to the west and preach. Actually he said it was an order, not permission. Already he had the direction, but now it was an instruction. He asked, “How should I go there?” My father said to him, “If this is Rūpa Gosvāmī’s order then he will give the power for you to go, there will be no problem.” Prabhupāda also told my father about his sphūrti-darśana (revelation) at the puṣpa-samādhi of Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvatī and he said that he could understand that his order was absolute because this happened at his Gurudeva’s samādhi.
Śrīla Prabhupāda lived at Rādhā-Dāmodara and prepared himself to go to America on the order of his guru. During that time he often went to Delhi for printing his books and magazines. In Delhi, Śrīla Prabhupāda stayed at the Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa Chippiwada temple in the old section of the city (Chandni Chowk). His Back to Godhead magazine was printed at a place called OK Press in Chawri Bazaar and his Bhāgavatams were printed across the Yamunā River at a printer called Radha Press.
Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī remembers Śrīla Prabhupāda at Chippiwada.
“Once, when I was still quite young, I ran away from home only wearing pant and shirt on my back – nothing else. I caught a bus to Delhi and went straight to Prabhupāda in Chippiwada. He was surprised to see me and said to me, “Oh, it’s you? But who is doing the service for Rādhā-Dāmodara?’ I told him that it was alright since there was another pūjārī there doing sevā. Then he told me, “But why did you want to come here?” I said, “I want to live with you here.” “OK, very good”, he said, “I will take you.” He allowed me to stay with him in his rooms for about one week. What I didn’t know was that he immediately sent a postcard to my father in Vṛndāvana telling him that I was safe and he would keep me for a few days under his care.
“During the time I stayed with Prabhupāda, he developed a fever for three or four days. The first day that I was there I had no clean clothes to wear so he told me to wear some of his clothes, his sannyāsī cloth. I went out to get some milk for him wearing that cloth and while I was standing in the queue for the milk, my elder brother Sītānātha spotted me and became angry with me. “Pañcu! Why are you dressed like a sannyāsī?”
“Actually Prabhupāda did not like using allopathic medicine. He always preferred to take ayurvedic or homeopathic medicines. I bought some medicines for him while I was in Delhi and he soon recovered after a few days. I noticed that his routine in Delhi was much the same as his routine in Vṛndāvana in the way that he slept and ate little and wrote for many hours into the night. Also his cooking was very simple. Whenever Prabhupāda went to Delhi, my mother would carefully save all his mail until he returned to Vṛndāvana.”
Śrīmatī Rajlakshmi Banerjee, a relative of Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī, remembers Śrīla Prabhupāda when he used to come to Delhi.
“I first met Prabhupāda in 1964 here in my house in Delhi when I was about 40 years old. Of course, the house was not that big then, but Prabhupāda came here and he gave Gītā-pāṭha. He came here two or three times before he went to America.
“Before Gītā-pāṭha, I would give Prabhupāda some sweets and some fruit. After the class was over I would serve purī and subji to him and all the guests. Once, when I was making the purīs and subji, Prabhupāda remarked, “Why you are making so many things? You could just make kicarī!”
“Just before leaving for America, Prabhupāda called us from Bombay and told us he was leaving soon. Before he left, he had given my husband N.C. Bannerjee some copies of his books to sell. They were copies of his Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and he wanted them sold at 16 rupees each. Whatever my husband sold, he gave the money to Prabhupāda at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple when he returned from America.
“I also met Prabhupāda a number of times at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple in Vṛndāvana. Whenever I would meet him I remember he would always tell us, ‘Read Gītā, read Gītā! You will get everything from Gītā.'”
In 1965 Śrīla Prabhupāda left Vṛndāvana and set sail for America where he successfully established his preaching mission under the auspicious name of the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness.
Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī remembers the day Śrīla Prabhupāda started from Rādhā- Dāmodara for America.
“Prabhupāda and my father were good friends. Before Prabhupāda left for America, my father came to him and put a flower garland from Rādhā-Dāmodara around his neck and offered him mahā-prasāda. They embraced each other affectionately. It was a very emotional moment. Then Prabhupāda began his journey.”
Onboard the good ship Jaladuta (Friday, September 10th, 1965) Śrīla Prabhupāda was feeling separation from Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma and from his most worshipable Deities, Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara. He wrote in his diary as follows:
“Today the ship is plying very smoothly. I feel today better. But I am feeling separation of Śrī Vṛndāvana and my Lords Śrī Govinda, Gopinātha, Rādhā-Dāmodara. The only solace is Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta in which I am tasting the nectar of Lord Caitanya’s līlā. I have left Bhārata-bhūmi just to execute the order of Śrī Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī in pursuance of Lord Caitanya’s order. I have no qualification, but I have taken up the risk just to carry out the order of his divine grace. I depend full on their mercy so far away from Vṛndāvana.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda arrived in America on September 17th 1965 (after a very difficult ocean journey) and then he went to Butler, Pennsylvania where he stayed with the Aggarwal family for sometime. Six days after his arrival in America (September 23rd ), before opening correspondence with anyone else in India, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote to his dear friend Gauracanda Gosvāmī at Rādhā-Dāmodara.
“…I am about 500 miles away from New York but all the way I saw a continuous chain of motorcars and buses and it is understood that there are thousands of millions of cars, almost owned by every individual person. But most of them are unable to keep a driver because it is so costly. Everyone has to drive himself and look after everything in the matter of household affairs. Even a common man’s work has to be done by a family man. Both the husband and the wife have no rest. All Americans’ standard of life is far more advanced than the Indian…”
I don’t know why Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara have brought me here and what is his intimation. The people here are all engrossed with ignorance and passion and it is very difficult for them to understand the principles of Bhakti-yoga. Anyway, I am the servant of the Lord and must abide by His will whatsoever.
How is Mā Gosāin? Where is my sister Bhavatārinī? Has she returned to Calcutta? Please let me know all in detail at the above address. I hope you are all doing well. With my best wishes for Pañcu and others.”
A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami
Although preaching with great success in America, Śrīla Prabhupāda also had a desire to see that the temple of Jiva Gosvāmī was glorified all over the world. In his own words, “My mission is to develop the glories of Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī all over the world.”
Prabhupāda also wrote expressing his desire to develop the atmosphere and sevā at Rādhā- Dāmodara:
“I can arrange for Rādhā-Dāmodara temple worship very nicely, namely at least 50 devotees will be offered prasādam daily, including two times refreshment and two meals. The disciples will remain with me. They will have daily chanting and reciting scriptures very nicely, which will attract hundreds of persons during the performances.
Last time when I was in Vṛndāvana, you know how much attractive and pure saṅkīrtana was performed by my disciples. To arrange for 50 men’s prasādam nowadays means daily expenditure not less than Rs. 100/= daily or Rs. 3000/= per month. I do not wish to disturb the position of the sevaits of Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, but simply if I am given the facility to live there with my disciples, it will be my pleasure to serve Their Lordships Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara to my best capacity. Now it is up to you all sevaits to decide on this fact…I am getting old day by day, and I do not know when the last moment will come, but before the last moment will come, I wanted to fulfill my desire in the matter of developing the establishment of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara temple.”
In 1966 while staying at his headquarters in New York City, Śrīla Prabhupāda wrote a letter to Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī in which he proposed the construction of a building at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple that would serve as a place of study and a place of residence for Śrīla Prabhupāda’s western disciples. Śrīla Prabhupāda called the establishment the Śrī Rūpānuga Parā Vidyā Pīṭha. Śrīla Prabhupāda’s letter to Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī (Panchu) is reproduced herein.
11 October, 1966
My dear Pañcu,
Since I have come to America I have not heard anything from you. In the beginning I had to write two or three letter to your revered father, but I did not receive any reply from him. I therefore did not write him again and still I am anxious to hear about you all. Please therefore let me know how are you all. How is your mother and Bahuma, your wife, and how is your father. I hope everything is alright with you by Grace of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara Jeu. Please reply this letter per return post as well as please let me know if you are receiving Rs 5/- per month regularly from the Punjab National Bank Ltd at Vṛndāvana. I am anxious to know about it.
At Gopinātha Bazaar almost in front of Mahāprabhu’s Temple, there is a Bengali gentleman’s shop for selling Pan and pictures. I want one dozen each of Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa and Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu dancing with His associates. Please ask him what is the price. Whether he can send these pictures by post to my above American address. On hearing from you I shall send you the money either to the above shopkeeper or to you as you write to me. How is Sarojinī and other devotees of the temple.
Besides this, you may ask your father whether he is still interested in the matter of starting the Rūpānuga Parā Vidyā Pīṭha in the land he proposed to give me on lease terms. Perhaps you remember this proposal. When I first came to your temple you measured the land yourself. Now if your father is agreeable to the proposal, the construction of the buildings can now be taken up and my American disciples are ready to spend for the proposed building of Śrī Rūpānuga Parā Vidyā Pīṭha. If your father decides to give me any other land within the compound of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara Jeu temple for the above building that also can be accepted. If so please open correspondence in this connection and I shall place the matter to my American disciples for consideration. They are eager to do something at Vṛndāvana according to my direction. Now here is the opportunity to reconstruct the temple compound of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara Jeu. So I shall be very glad to hear from you or your father in reply to this letter and I am thanking you in anticipation.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.
In an letter dated December 15th, 1966 Śrīla Prabhupāda again expressed his desire for developing the Śrī Rūpānuga Parā Vidyā Pīṭha as follows, “Now one thing I beg to draw your attention to is the Śrī Rūpānuga Parā Vidyā Pīṭha, which I wanted to start in Vṛndāvana, within the vicinity of the Rādhā-Dāmodara Mandira…My aim is to start it on the land of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara temple, which I think will be very good for everyone concerned. I want to start a nice international institute at the place of Śrī Rūpa Gosvāmī and Śrī Jiva Gosvāmī.”
In 1967 Śrīla Prabhupāda returned to Vṛndāvana from America with his foreign disciples and for some time took up residence again in his old rooms at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple.
Nirmal Candra Gosvāmī remembers Prabhupāda after returning from America.
“After Prabhupāda returned from America, whenever he would come to Vṛndāvana, he would call my father and request him a day before that he would like to come to Rādhā-Dāmodara temple to take some mahā-prasāda with his disciples. Whenever he would come he would stay for a day or so in his rooms.
“I came to see him at the Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple once. At that time my wife was pregnant and Prabhupāda told me that she would have a son and I should name him ‘Kṛṣṇa Balarāma’. I already had four sons at that time, so Prabhupāda joked that they were the Pañca-Pāṇḍavas. (Our fifth son was born after Prabhupāda’s departure and he was named Kṛṣṇa Balarāma according to Prabhupāda’s desire.)
“During the last few months before Prabhupāda departed, my father came to see him at the Kṛṣṇa Balarāma temple. At that time, Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja was Prabhupāda’s secretary and he told my father to wait outside. My father waited for quite sometime then he was called in. Prabhupāda became angry with Tamāla Kṛṣṇa Mahārāja that he had kept my father waiting. He said, “Whenever any of the Gosvāmīs of Rādhā-Dāmodara temple come to see me, do not make them wait. They can come in to see me at once. About 15 days before Prabhupāda departed I came to see him, but could not as he was very ill at that time.
“In February, 1977 Prabhupāda wrote my father a letter in which he expressed his heart felt appreciations for the care and attention that he received from our family when he used to stay with us at Rādhā-Dāmodara. We have kept that letter along with others for a very long time –
Dear Gauracand Gosvāmījī,
Please accept my daṇḍavats. Enclosed please find one copy of advise to the Punjab National Bank, Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple branch, to pay you Rs.50 (fifty rupees) per month. I shall arrange that you get this money so long as you live. When I was in your temple both you and your wife took very much care for me, so kindly accept this little help. This is apart from my temple contribution; this is for your personal expenditure. Thank you very much.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
“Prabhupāda told me that during my lifetime I would see Rādhā-Dāmodara’s srngara and facilities become very wonderful. This was actually a prediction and also his instruction to me. Due to his mercy, so many things have happened.
Śrīla Prabhupāda opened the Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple in Vṛndāvana in 1975 but a few months before he wrote Śrī Gauracanda Gosvāmī (Gosāinjī) from Los Angeles, USA and requested the participation of his son Pañcu as follows.
My dear Gosainjī:
Please accept my daṇḍavats and my love for your children and grandchildren and my regards for Mā-gosāin. So I am reaching Vṛndāvana by the 26th of July, and at that time Pañcu may see me and we shall settle up the things so that he can begin his work from the first of August.
We wish to hold a grand festival of the opening of Kṛṣṇa-Balārama temple at Ramaṇa-reti. There will be seven days function, and the arrangement has been made that anyone who visits our temple may be supplied with sumptuous prasādam both kacha and pakha. So let Panchu take over this plan and when we meet we shall arrange this plan. Further when we meet at Vṛndāvana.
With regards, I beg to remain,
A.C. Bhaktivedānta Swami
In 1972, during Kārttika, Śrīla Prabhupāda delivered a series of lectures on Rūpa Gosvāmī’s Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple. He delivered the lecture series in the courtyard near to Rūpa Gosvāmī’s samādhi and bhajana-kuṭīra.
Dr. O.B.L. Kapoor remembers Śrīla Prabhupāda.
“I was sitting on the veranda just opposite Prabhupāda’s room at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple. I was just waiting for someone, I didn’t know that Prabhupāda had come. All of a sudden, I saw a sannyāsī coming out of the room, followed by two or three European disciples. Since I had not seen Prabhupāda for about forty years, I couldn’t recognize him because I had known him not as Prabhupāda, but as Abhaya-carana De. While living at Allahabad as a religious scholar between 1932-1938, I met him. We used to go together to visit the Śrī Rūpa Gauḍīya Maṭha almost every evening. Prabhupāda used to play on mṛdaṅga in saṅkīrtana.
Our friendship grew and we became very close friends. Prabhupāda used to manufacture medicines at that time, and once he made a tonic and presented it to me. Once in the presence of Prabhupāda, someone asked me, “What is the secret of your health, Dr. Kapoor?” I said, “Prabhupāda’s tonics.
It was thirty-two years later when I met Prabhupāda again at Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple. Naturally, it was not possible for me to recognize him because age had made such a difference. And he was in sannyāsī dress, whereas previously he was a householder in white. I couldn’t recognize him, but I kept gazing at him, and he kept gazing at me. Then Prabhupāda hazarded a guess and said, “D. Kapoor?” I recognized at once from his voice, and said, “Abhaya Babu!” and then he embraced me.
I didn’t know where he was going with his disciples, but he cancelled his program, and took me inside his room. He told me about the work he had done in the West, and showed me newspaper clippings. I was very impressed.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda was always traveling and preaching somewhere in the world from 1972, until his passing away in 1977. In his final days while staying at the Kṛṣṇa-Balarāma temple in Ramaṇa-reti, Śrīla Prabhupāda called a meeting to express his desire concerning his bhajana-kuṭīra at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple.
Śrīpāda B.G. Narasiṅgha Mahārāja remembers:
“Śrīla Prabhupāda called a meeting in May 1977 with a few of his sannyāsīs. Then he told us, “Generally the worship in the spiritual master’s bhajana-kuṭīra doesn’t start until after his departure. But I want to initiate the system of worship now, so I know that it is going on.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda instructed his disciples that they should keep a photograph of him in his room and offer him the mahā-prasādam of Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Dāmodara. Śrīla Prabhupāda requested that a written inventory of all the paraphernalia in his rooms including books, manuscripts, pots, plates, spoons, cups, etc. be meticulously kept. Śrīla Prabhupāda further requested that his sannyāsī disciples should be the ones to maintain the rooms and do service there.”
Śrīla Prabhupāda always stressed the importance of his rooms at Rādhā-Dāmodara temple. Śrīla Prabhupāda said,
“Those who stay there (Rādhā-Dāmodara temple) will realize that those ācāryas are still living there. And if one is actually advancing in the spiritual field, they can still take instruction from the ācāryas living there. It is up to the individual, how he realizes this by his devotional service. By staying there, you must realize how pure the environment is. The environment itself gives a high taste of consciousness. Rādhā-Dāmodara is there and the great ācāryas samādhis are there. There cannot be any other better place to live than at Rādhā-Dāmodara…This corner at the Rādhā-Dāmodara temple is just like the hub of the wheel of the spiritual world — it is the center.”
“I eternally reside in my rooms at the Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple”