The Appearance of Sri Radha Raman Dev
Pranadhana Sri Radha Raman Lal Jaya Jaya Jaya Sri Bhatta Gopal.
My first visit to Vrindavan is just as fresh in my memory as it was when I first set my foot on the holy soil. The Goswami of the Radharaman Temple was kind enough to give our group of twenty or so people accommodation inside the temple courtyard and we used to enjoy our stay in a grand big hall given to us. In the wee hours of dawn, we woke up hearing the bells ringing inside the temple. Someone informed that mangal aarti was going on and we, the children, ran, crossing the passage, up the stairs into the temple and stood in front of the deity, filled with awe and excitement. We had never experienced anything like that before. A few people stood in the hall chanting and looking on to get a glimpse of the deity. The deity, Radharaman Lal was tiny with large, captivating eyes, the shringar and jewellery so intricate and artistic that you remain in wonder of the skills of the priest. The deity was so cute and adorable that we were mesmerized by His beauty and soon we realised that taking our eyes off Him became the most difficult task. The chanting by the devotees behind us weaved magic and created a divinely charged atmosphere. Since that day, whenever we are in Vrindavan, day or night, the first thing in our mind is to run to the temple to behold the beauty of Sri Radha Raman Lal.
Sri Radha Raman Lal attracts every onlooker with his magic. What’s even more magical is the story of His appearance. The Radha Raman Temple is one of the seven main ancient temples of Vrindavan. It was constructed at the request of Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami in 1542 AD.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in his South India tour visited Sri Rangam and stayed with the vaishnava scholar Sri Venkata Bhatta. His son Gopal Bhatta, a little child at that time, was in awe of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and used to follow him wherever he went. Later, after the demise of his parents, Gopal Bhatta came to Vrindavan at the age of thirty and became a dear friend of Rupa and Sanatana Goswami. Revered as one of the six foremost Goswami, he did his bhajan for forty-five years, mostly in Radha Kund. On the instruction of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, he compiled the book Shri Hari Bhakti Vilasa along with Sanatana Goswami, which delves into the philosophy, lifestyle, and the devotional practices of vaishnavas who desire to obtain the ultimate goal of life Krishna-Prema, the love of Shri Krishna. He also wrote the Sat Kriya Sara Deepika, a treatise to guide the Vaishnava community on the path of proper conduct and the outline for Jiva Goswami’s Sat Sandarbha.
When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu merged with the Lord in Puri, Gopal Bhatta Goswami was devastated. Suffering intense separation from the Lord, he followed a vision and took a trip to Nepal. While he was taking a bath in the divine Kali-Gandaki River, he dipped his waterpot and several Shalagram Shilas entered in. Not certain of whether he should take them along with him or not, he put them back in the river. However, when the same Shilas jumped back in again into his waterpot, he understood it to be the desire of the Lord that he should worship them, and therefore he took them with him and continued worshiping them.
Sri Gopala Bhatta Goswami had twelve Shalagram Shilas which he used to keep in a cloth bag hung round his neck. Once a rich man came to Vrindavan and was offering fine clothes and ornaments for the divine deities. Eager to serve, he offered them to Sri Gopala Bhatta also. Since the Shalagram Shilas of Goswamiji had no use for such fine clothes, he asked the donor to give them to someone else. However, on the wealthy man’s insistence, Goswamiji kept the clothes and jewellery. On Narasimha Chaturdashi, Goswamiji was absorbed in chanting and remembering the leela of the manifestation of Sri Narasimha, the half man-half lion, from the pillar in Hiranyakashyap’s palace. How he wished to have a deity Who he could dress up with these beautiful clothes and ornaments and have darshan of His blissful smiling face and lotus eyes!
In the evening, Gopala Bhatta put the Shalagram Shilas to rest, covering them with a wicker basket. The next morning, he got up early and went to take bath in the river Yamuna. After returning, he uncovered the Shalagrams to worship but to his utter amazement, he saw a deity of Krishna playing the flute. There were only eleven Shilas left. The ‘Damodara shila’, had manifested as the beautiful three-fold bending form of Sri Krishna. Sri Gopal Bhatta stood there stunned and burst into tears looking at the beautiful form of the Lord. This day is celebrated as the appearance day of Radha Raman Dev which falls on the day after Sri Narasimha Chaturdasi.
Sri Radha Raman Dev made His appearance on the full moon day of Vaisakha in the year 1542 and is worshipped in Vrindavan. Sri Radha Ramana Dev has very intricate features, including fingernails and even teeth. At the back of His body, parts of the original Shalagram Shila from which He manifested can still be seen. Sri Radha Raman’s appearance place is in the Radha Raman Temple, next to the samadhi of Sri Gopala Bhatta. Gopala Bhatta Goswami’s other Shalagram-Shilas are also worshiped in the temple. The samadhi of Gopala Bhatta is located next to Radha Raman Dev’s appearance place in Radha-Raman Temple compound.
During our stay in Vrindavan, Sri Ghanashyam Baba, who lived in Sri Gopal Bhatta Goswami’s Samadhi used to adore us and shower us with all his love. He used to take care of our entire group, affectionately feeding us with prasad. He continues to bless us and whenever I go to him to have his darshan, he would ask about each and every member of our family. Once during my visit, I saw him deeply engrossed watching something on his phone. When I enquired, he beckoned me to come closer and showed me our movie ‘Basanta Raasa’ that he had downloaded in his phone and which he would keep watching again and again. I was exhilarated. He remembers all of us, name by name and recollects all the memories of our childhood days, not missing a single person. All this life, this loving saint of Brij is so filled with the same unwavering love, purity and devotion for Sri Gopal Bhatta, that he blesses us with too.
Jaya Jaya Sri Radha Ramana, Jaya Jaya Naval Kishore
Jaya Gopi Chittachor Prabhu, Jaya Jaya Makhan Chor
A rare image of Sri Radha Ramana Dev at Sri Ghanashyam Baba's place, taken from My Vrindavan Diaries.