Yuga Dharma Acarya Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada left top border top border right top border Prema Yuga Acarya Srila Gour Govinda Swami Srila Gurudeva
Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu

Sri Gopal Jiu

The Village of the Holy Name

The village of Gadai Giri, situated amidst the tranquil solitude of rural Orissa, surrounded by lotus-filled ponds and green paddy fields, has a most interesting history. A great devotee of Mahaprabhu named Gadai Giri, who hailed from Midnapore in Bengal, some three hundred years ago, came to Orissa to do business, dealing in brass cooking utensils. The local Zamindar (Squire-the principle local landowner) became very favorably disposed towards Gadai Giri by virtue of his good nature and good behavior, and he allowed him to stay in the locality. So Gadai Giri remained with his family in one village, and that village soon became known as the village of Gadai Giri.

Gopal Giri was the son of Gadai Giri. He was religiously minded and had learned kirtana from the devotees of Mahaprabhu’s home district of Nadia, Bengal. He was a great devotee of Lord Jagannatha. It was he who named the village after his father, the “Gadai Giri Village”.

Gopal Giri in Puri

Gopal Giri was working in the town of Puri, in the Jagannatha Temple as the poddara (treasure/cashier) and was directly responsible to the king. Gopal Giri was very qualified to hold this position as he was a very well educated person, and completely trustworthy.

He was very well known and respected by everyone in Puri. His position was secure and his day-to-day life was calm and pleasant enough, apart from lingering thought in the back of his mind that he wanted to worship the deity of Lord Gopala. In Gopal Giri’s heart was a strong desire to worship the Lord in His eternal form of Lord Gopala. Even whilst dutifully carrying out his obligations as a treasurer, he was always praying for that time when he could give his occupation and fully dedicate his life to the service and pleasure of his ista-deva—Lord Gopala—Krsna the cowherd boy. He cried for the Lord to appear before him in that form and accept whatever service he could offer.

In the town of Puri, many sadhus (holy men) would come to see the Supreme Lord in the Jagannatha temple. When Gopal Giri sometimes met with these sadhus, he would ask; “Please give me your blessings so that I may obtain a deity of Lord Gopala; it is my heart’s desire to worship Him.” But most of them would reply, “If you want to worship Lord Gopala, then you will have to go to vrndavana. There you will find the Lord of your heart.” Now the dilemma for Gopala Giri was that he was serving in Puri and was unable to travel in Vrndavana, as the only means to get there in those days was by bullock cart or on foot and that would have taken many months, and he would not be allowed to take time off from his work.

Sri Gopala and the Vaisnava Babaji

In Vrndavana there lived a vaisnava-babaji, who everyday would go door to door begging alms, doing madhukari. During the daytime he would go out and collect a little rice, a little dal, which in the evening he would cook and then offer it to his deity Sri Gopala Jiu, who normally resided in the babaji’s shoulder bag. He would first offer the cooked rice and dal to the Lord and then he would take the remnants as prasada. He would eat and afterwards place the deity back in the bag. In this way he was leading his life, wandering throughout the forests of Vrndavana.

The Babaji’s Dream

Sri Gopal JiuOne night the deity of Gopala Jiu appeared to the babaji in a dream, and told him, “You take me to Gopal Giri, the son of Gadai Giri; he wants to worship Me. Take Me to Jagannatha Puri where Gopal Giri is working! I want to hear the kirtana performed by the residents of Gadai Giri.” But the babaji did not pay very much attention to it-“After all”, he considered, “It was only a dream!” He did not take it very seriously and carried on his daily routine as usual, as if nothing had happened. However, some days later the deity appeared to the babaji again in dream, this time with cane in hand; He beat the babaji severely. When the babaji awoke he could see that he had wounds all over his body where Gopala had beaten him very severely. He at once realized his mistake and begged the Lord’s forgiveness for committing such a great offence. He had not followed the command of the Lord, even though Gopala Jiu had been kind enough to personally appear before him and gave him instruction whilst he was dreaming. The babaji then said; “O, my Lord, You have beaten me very severely; with so many wounds on my body, how can I possibly go to Puri now? Unless my wounds are healed, how can I go there?” the deity of Gopala Jiu then said to the babaji; “No! You take me to Puri and hand me over to Gopal Giri. Once this is done, ask Gopal Giri to place his hand on your hand on your body. When he does this all of your wounds will disappear immediately; otherwise your wounds will never heal. So please do not delay, let us leave at once! I will give you the directions as to how to go to Puri and where Gopal Giri lives.”

The Journey from Vrndavana to Puri Immediately the babaji set out for Puri from Vrndavana. In those days travel was mainly by foot, so the journey from Vrndavana to Jagannatha Puri took two and a half months; the distance traveled was two thousand two hundred kilometers. There was also no facility for the babaji to send a message in advance to inform the residents of Puri that Lord Gopala Jiu was coming to satisfy the desire of Gopal Giri. He did not even know who Gopal Giri was or what he looked like. He just set out for Puri town with faith in the order of the Supreme Lord. The babaji was the servant of the deity and the deity said that He wanted to go to Puri, and that was that! Upon his arrival in Puri the babaji enquired as to the whereabouts of Gopal Giri and soon discovered that he was at that time staying in a rented house in the area known as Kundheibenta Sahi. The local town people directed him to Gopal Giri’s house, which was to be found three to four kilometers from the temple of Jagannatha in the direction of the Gundica Mandir on the north side of Puri. As it was quite late in the evening, the babaji decided to stay that night near the Jagannatha temple and to visit Gopal Giri early the next morning.

The Babaji Meets Gopal Giri

Sri Sri Radha GopaljiuAs it so happened, Gopal Giri had just finished bathing and was putting on his tilaka when he heard a knock at the door. He went to see who it was and saw a babaji standing at the entrance to his house. Babaji Maharaja inquired if he was indeed Gopal Giri, “I have brought with me the deity of Sri Gopala Jiu who has come all the way from Vrndavana so that you may worship Him.” He took the Lord from his bag. Gopal Giri was astonished to say the least as he gazed in wonder at this most beautiful form of his merciful Lord. He then asked the babaji who he was and where he had come from. The babaji related the whole story to Gopal Giri and asked him to touch his body so that his wounds would heal. The babaji gave the Sri Gopala Jiu to Gopal Giri who then touched the babaji’s body and as the Lord had promised him, all his wounds were immediately healed! Gopal Giri was amazed that his desire had come true. The Lord had come all the way from Vrndavana just so that he could worship Him. In a great bliss he went to the market to purchase the finest quality rice, dal and vegetables and upon returning home gave them to the babaji so he could cook for Lord Gopala. His next course of action was to approach the King and offer his resignation. The King however, was not present in his palace at that time, so he submitted his resignation in written to the King’s officers. He then went home and saw that the offering was made by the babaji to the Lord. After the Lord was satisfied, Gopal Giri and the babaji took the prasada, the remnants of Lord Gopala Jiu’s meal. Sometime after, Gopal Giri opened his cash box and asked the vaisnava-babaji to take as much money as he wanted. But the babaji said, “No! I will not take any money! I am the servant of Gopala. Wherever Lord Gopala will go I will go also and serve Him! I am not a person to sell the deity, I am His servant! I will not take any money; wherever Gopala will go, I will go there and serve Him!”

Gopal Giri Resigns from Government Service

Sometime later, Gopal Giri was summoned to see the King. The King asked him, “Why have you resigned? Please explain your actions?” Gopal Giri explained to the King his desire to worship Gopala Jiu, and how the deity had come from Vrndavana, being brought by a vaisnava-babaji. He also explained to the King that in his village he had built a temple and now he wanted to install Lord Gopala and begin His worship very nicely. They would have kirtana everyday for the Lord. On hearing this the King was very pleased and said, “All right, as today your desire to worship Lord Gopala has been fulfilled, I have no objection. But I do have one single request of you—that sometimes you must come to Puri with the kirtana party from Gadai Giri and perform kirtana in the temple for the pleasure of Lord Jagannatha.” Gopal Giri of course accepted the conditions of the king who then released him from all his other duties at the Jagannatha temple.

Sri Sri Radha Gopaljiu

Gopal Giri Returns to Gadai Giri with Sri Gopala Jiu

Gopal Giri returned to his village with Lord Gopala, and the vaisnva-babaji accompanied them so that he could help with the worship of Gopala Jiu. Sri Gopala Jiu was installed in the temple especially constructed for Him, along with a beautiful deity of His eternal consort, Srimati Radharani whose golden form was fashioned from brass by a local sthapati (deity sculptor). And so, the Divine Couple Sri Sri Radha-Gopala Jiu stood on the altar in the temple at Gadai Giri.

The Giri family were not poor by any means. In fact they were very wealthy; they had many acres of land surrounding the temple. They were also the most famous kirtaniyas in the land of Orissa, with a special invitation from the King of Puri to chant in the Puri temple for Lord Jagannatha whenever they could. (That invitation still holds to this day and is written in the history book of the temple of Lord Jagannatha—the madala-panji)

The Supreme Lord in His deity form had come all the way from Vrndavana to hear the kirtana at Gadai Giri. So daily kirtana was performed at the temple, very sweet kirtana for the pleasure of Sri Sri Radha-Gopal Jiu. The main business of the Giri family was deity worship and hari-kirtana.

Lord Gopala Himself was very happy to hear the kirtana. As it is described in the sastra:

naham tisthami vaikunthe
yoginam hrdayesu va
tatra tisthami narada
yatra gayanti mad-bhaktah

“My dear Narada, actually I do not reside in My abode, Vaikuntha, nor do I reside within the hearts of the yogi, but I reside in that place where My pure devotees chant My holy name and discuss My form, pastimes and qualities.”

When relating this story of Sri Sri Radha-Gopala Jiu, His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Maharaja said, “The Supreme Lord is very happy to hear His own glorification,” and quoted the above verse.

Gopal Giri arranged all the land and other properties for the service of Gopala Jiu. Sometime later the babaji left his body in Gadai Giri, fully engaged in the service of Gopala Jiu. Gopal Giri also engaged many other Vaisnava in the daily worship. Gopal Giri remained on this for eighty-five years completely absorbed in the service of the Divine Couple, his most beloved Sri Sri Radha-Gopal Jiu.

The Deity of Sri Gopala Jiu is Stolen

Sri Sri Gopal jiuOnce, some 150 years ago, there was a devotee who was helping with the worship of Gopala Jiu. He was apparently a babaji, a renounced monk, but actually he was a thief in the guise of a babaji. He would often help the brahmana in doing the worship, making garlands, dressing the deities and performing aratis (arati: is a traditional Vedic ceremony during which offerings of incense, ghee lamps, flowers, water etc. are made to the deity of the Lord).

One night this ‘babaji’ decided that he would have the deity for himself and so he stole Lord Gopala Jiu, while the brahmana who was in charge of the worship was fast asleep. The babaji-thief headed in the direction of a nearby village called Bishi Muhana, which is approximately three kilometers from Gadai Giri temple. In a dream that very night the deity spoke to Bhagat Charan Giri, who was at that time the village leader. “I have been stolen by this ‘babaji’ and I am lying here near the village of Bishi Muhana. The ‘babaji’ is now dead snake bite so please come and get Me.” Bhagat Charan Giri immediately woke up and came to the temple to find that deity was indeed missing. By this time the brahmana had also awoken and was yelling at the top of his voice, “The deity has gone, the deity has been stolen!” Bhagat Charan Giri told him of his dream in which the deity had appeared to him. Also in that dream Bhagat Charan Giri had seen torch burning in the direction of the village Bishi Muhana. He quickly organized a very large kirtana party, formed with many of the villagers from Gadai Giri. It was an enormous procession with mrdanga, karatalas and many villagers holding flaming torches. They headed in the direction of the mystical burning torch that they could see off in the distance; the same one that Bhagat Giri had seen in his dream.

When Bhagat Giri and his kirtana party finally reached the spot where the flaming torch should have been (it disappeared as they approached) they found the body of the babaji-thief who had been bitten by a snake, and the deity of Sri Gopala Jiu. A mighty kirtana was performed, and taking Lord Sri Gopala Jiu with them they returned to their village. Upon arrival back at Gadai Giri the brahmana performed a fire sacrifice and replaced the deity of the Lord on His temple altar.

Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja

Srila GurudevaThis is the village of Gadai Giri. It is most famous; the kirtana party from Gadai Giri is most famous and the deity coming from Vrndavana — Gopala Jiu — is most famous. It is into this great Vaisnava dynasty that His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja was born. The following chapters will reveal the most wonderful life and pastimes of His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja (Brajabandhu Manik). Throughout his entire life, from his very childhood, the deities of Sri Sri Radha-Gopala Jiu were constantly the object of his love, devotion and meditation. In the diary that His Divine Grace Srila Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja kept every day without fail, he would start each entry, “By Gopala’s mercy…”

“…I can remember, from when I was very young, my grandfather and father and all my uncles, they had sikha, tilaka and wore kanthi-mala, they were all Vaisnavas and they were always chanting Hare Krsna.”

At home his life revolved around the service of the Supreme Lord Sri Sri Radha Gopal Jiu, with both his parents and all of their relatives constantly engaged in service to the family deities.

As devotees, the Manik family and the Giri family had great faith in the words of Lord Krsna in Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-Bhagavatam, the ancient Vedic scriptures of India. Every evening the Giri family would read one chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam after holding kirtana at the Sri Sri Radha-Gopala Jiu temple. Reading from the sacred scriptures was included as part of their puja, or their daily worship. In such ideal Vaisnava circumstances Brajabandhu took his birth.

Please see the biography of Srila Gour Govinda Swami on this website. For a more detailed biography please visit SrilaGourGovindaSwami.org

How Gopal Came to ISKCON

The following story is about how Gopal came to ISKCON from the book Gopal Jiu The Beloved Deity of Srila Gour Govinda Swami (by Gopal Jiu publications, pages 55 till 61).

Donating Gopal

Ghanashyam Giri's father, Gopinath Giri, departed this world in 1964. From 1964 until 1992. Ghanashyam Giri was entrusted with serving Gopal. He worked very hard to make Gopal happy, but after some time he found that there was very little help. 

Cocerned about how Gopal's service could be maintained, he remembered his cousin-brother Braja-bandhu Manik who had become a sannyasi-guru in ISKCON and was now known as Gour Govinda Swami Maharaja. 

Ghanashyam Giri thought that since Gour Govinda Swami had so much devotion for Gopal he would be the appropriate person to whom to pass on the service of Gopal.

In the meantime, Gour Govinda Swami was regularly coming to Gadeigiri for darsana. Before and after traveling abroad for his preaching tours he would always seek the blessings of Gopal. 

In 1989 Gour Govinda Swami began bringing devotees from the large ISKCON Temple in Bhubaneswar to Gadeigiri to celebrate Radhastami, the appearance festival of srimate Radharani. This developed into a grand festival of kirtana, lectures and Prasad, and many of the local villagers would enthusiastically participate.

Again, Ghanashyam Giri decided to give Gopal to Gour Govinda Swami. They discussed the matter and Gour Govinda Swami happely agreed to accept the responsebility.

But shortly thereafter Ghanashyam Giri began again to have second thoughts. If he gave Gopal to the guru of so many Westerners, would Gopal then belong to the Western corner? One year went by, and seeing his reluctance Gour Govinda Swami became disappointed. 

Ghanashyam Giri recalls the incident that changed his mind: 

About 2:30 one morning I had a dream. Gopal came and was standing near my head. He said, "Why are you sleeping? Wake up! So many troubles have came to you, but have you felt any difficulty? No, because I am always behind you. Now you are alone. How can you arrange all types of festivals for Me? 

I am always very interested to hear nama-sankirtana. Gour Govinda Swami is your own relative. Why don't you give Me to him? So, now tell Me, will you give Me or not?"  In the dream I said, "Yes. Yes. I will give. I will give."

Suddenly my wife woke me up and said, "What are you saying? What will you give? To whom will you give? You are speaking like a madman. What happend?"

I told her that Gopal had just come and asked me if I was going to give Him to Gour Govinda Swami or not and i said, "Yes. Yes. I will give. I will give." I told her, "Gopal was standing near that window. He just left."

My wife said gently, "Go and donate Gopal to Srila Gurudeva. Whatever property you have you should also give to him. If he takes Gopal then Gopal will be happy and He will be taken care of nicely. You will be able to see Gopal here every day. Why are you hesitating?" In this way my doubt were cleared.

The next day I was preparing to go to Bhubaneswar to see Gour Govinda Swami, but I heard that Gurudeva was coming to Gadeigiri. So I stayed and waited for his arrival. He came a few days later and I met with him.

He asked me, "How are you? What about Gopal?" I said, "I have been waiting for you to come, to give Gopal to you."

Gurudeva looked at me for a moment and laughed. He said, "What has happend to you? What has brought about this change?" He said, "Has Gopal spoken to you?"Sri Gopal Jiu

I said, "Yes, Gurudeva, Gopal spoke to me." Then Gurudeva asked me, "What day was it that He spoke to you, and what time?"I told him, "Twelve days before, at 2:30 in the morning."

Gurudeva nodded his head up and down. "Gopal came and spoke with me on the same morning at 2:00 am then at 2:30 He came to you.

That morning I was translating the Bhagavatam into Oriya. I dozed off for a few moments.

Gopal came to me and said, "You installed Radha-Gopinath here. 

Has Gopinath replaced Me in your life?" (Srila Gour govinda Swami had commissioned a sculptor to make deities of Radha and Krishna to be exactly the same height, width, standing position, etc., as Radha Gopal in Gadeigiri, and installed them on the ISKCON property at Bhubaneswar, naming them "Radha-Gopinath").

Gopal again asked Srila Gurudeva, "Is Gopinath the same for you as me?"

With folded hands Gurudeva replied, "No."

Then Gopal said, "You are worshipping here, but I can't come here. Gadeigiri is the house of My devotees. They have no wealth, but there mind is always on Me. Even if they only offer Me a tulasi leaf and a little water I am happy there.

Gopal again asked Srila Gurudeva, "Is Gopinath the same for you as me?"

With folded hands Gurudeva replied, "No."

Then Gopal said, "You are worshipping here, but I can't come here. Gadeigiri is the house of My devotees. They have no wealth, but there mind is always on Me. Even if they only offer Me a tulasi leaf and a little water I am happy there.

There are always saying, 'Gopal! Gopal!' I cannot leave them and come here. You are not doing any service for Me because Ghanashyam has not given Me to you. He promised, 'Unless Gopal tells me to give Him.'" Gopal then said, "I will speak to Ghanashyam. First I have met with you and now I am going to Ghanashyam."

While Gurudeva and I were speaking, one of my familie members was there. They said, "You are always taking about donating Gopal, but your are only speaking and not giving."

I said, "No, today I must donate Gopal to Gurudeva. Bring Tulasi and water and chant mantra."

Gurudeva asked, "How will you donate to me?"

I said, "As Srimad Bhagavatam describes that Bali Maharaja donated to Lord Vamanadev, like that. I will donate Gopal to you. You place your hand  under mine and I will donate three times with water and Tulasi leaf."

I called for a brahmin who put Tulasi and water in my hand. I said, "First I donate to you Radha Gopal Jiu. Secondly I give you all of Gopal's paraphernalia. Thirdly I donate the property to you. From tomorrow you will take charge.

A Temple for Sri Gopal Jiu

Gour Govinda Swami immediately accepted Gopal and the property, and on 15 November 1993 he recorded everything in the name of ISKCON, the institution of his spiritual master.

Gour Govinda Swami then sent two of his diciples to Gadeigiri. They arranged to fix the broken Temple building and make nice arrangements for Gopal's worship. The existing Temple for Gopal was very small and simple. Now that Gopal was under his care, Gour Govinda Maharaja wanted to build something nice for Gopal. He was very eager to see the work begin. 

On 23 November Fakir Charan went to see Gour Govinda Swami in Bhubaneswar. Fakir Charan remembers:

When he saw us he started scolding us. He said, "The registration was finished eight days ago, where have you been? My dear Gopal's work is not going on correctly. Gopal is beating me." He then showed us his back, which bore fresh marks from a beating. I was shocked. We both begged forgiveness for the delay. He then replied, "The devotee of Krishna never fears anyone. This is service for Krishna, so where is the fear? 

On 17 January 1994 Gour Govinda Swami laid the foundation stone for Gopal's new Temple and he installed a deity of Anantasesh. In his lecture that day he spoke to all of the devotees as well as to the laborers and construction workers who were there to begin work on the new Temple:

The following is spoken by Srila Gour Govinda Swami:

With the help of the two rishis Bhrigu and Bharadwaj, Agastya Muni once build a huge Temple for Krishna at Kalahasti in Rajasthan. Many Laborers had been engaged to build that Temple. Bhrigu and Bharadwaj were supervising them. The laborers where working hard from morning to sunset.

Every evening before sunset, Agastya would sit on the bank of the nearby river and call all of the laborers.

By his order Bhrigu and Bharadwaj would then give a handful of sand to each laborer. That was their payment for the whole day's work. 

But when the two rishis gave the sand, it at once turned into gold. According to how hard the laborer was working, he recieved a proportionate amount of gold. So whoever was working harder was getting more gold.

Whoever was working less would only get a small amount, and if someone was not working at all, only cheating, they would find only sand in their hands, no gold. 

In this dealing there was no partiality and no complaints. Everything took place before God who is the supreme eyewitness. Each worker happily accepted his proper due, no more and no less. The laborers where thinking,"Whatever I am doing, Krishna is in my heart constantly watching me. So I am working in His presence." 

If one has this kind of mentality his work is called Sadhu-karma, very pious work. If your heart is clear then all your activities will be clear and pious. Whatever work you touch will be succesful and great. 

This is Gopal's work. Don't neglect it. Don't quarrel and don't be duplicitous. Don't steal anything. After this temple is complete, if the rules and regulations are followed nicely here, then it will help this area's inhabitants in their spiritual as well as economic development.

Why are we building a temple here? Because this place is tapa-bhumi, a place of austerities. This is a very special place. By doing a little sadhana or bhajan here, one can get great benefit in his spiritual life. The kirtana and austerities of this place brought Gopal from Vrindavan. This place will kill the demoniac nature.

Ravan was a most powerful demon, but he was always afraid of tapa-sakti, the power of austerities. Therefore he told his followers that they could go to every place to the north except Vedapuri (now modern Pondicherry in South India), because that place would kill the demoniac nature. So This Gadeigiri, the place of Gopal, is a place of samskara and sadhana. Everyone should accept this place as their own and let their life be succesful.

Sri Sri Radha Gopal Jiu ki jaya!
Gaura bhakta vrnda ki jaya!
Nitai-Gaura premananda!
Hari Haribol!

Sri Sri Radha Gopal Jiu

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