The Wonder Called Gopinath
The world is full of wonders for every child. They absorb everything around them with their wide eyes and heartwarming giggles. The endless sky, the gentle breeze, the dense forests lit by fireflies, the bright sun, the cool moon, the twinkling stars, the song of the birds, the gushing waters in the creeks and rivers, the vast, turquoise sea, everything arouses awe in their little minds and sparks off their imagination. Vajranabha, just stepping into his teens, was full of questions about the world around him and its creator. He was no ordinary child. He was the great grandson of Sri Krishna. While growing up he had heard many stories about the exploits of Sri Krishna and was keen to know how He looked like! His grandmother Uttara, the daughter-in-law of Arjuna was lucky to see Sri Krishna with her own eyes and was the best guide to help him. Based on the narrations of Uttara, the wife of Abhimanyu and the mother of Parikshit, Vajranabh carved three deities of Sri Krishna. When the deities were carved, Uttara looked at them and confirmed that one of them, Madan Mohan had the same lotus feet and strong, shapely legs; Gopinath had the same broad shoulders and chest; And Govind with the large forehead and the magical big eyes had the same lotus face as Sri Krishna.The three deities together complete the form of Sri Krishna. The devotees believe that if one has the darshan of all the three deities, Madan Mohan Dev in Karauli, Gopinath Dev and Govind Dev in Jaipur in a single day, then they would have had the darshan of Sri Krishna.
sri-radha-saha sri-madana-mohana, sri-radha-saha sri-govinda-caraṇa
sri-radha-saha srila sri-gopinatha, ei tina ṭhakura haya gauḍiyara natha
- Chaitanya Charitamrita
So each of these three Deities of Vrindavan represent:
1. Sri Radha Madanmohan, the presiding Deity of Sambanda – our eternal relationship with Krishna, that we are His part and parcel.
2. Sri Radha Govindadev, presiding Deity of Abhidheya – how to act in that relationship, devotional service.
3. Sri Radha Gopinatha, presiding Deity of Prayojana – ultimate goal, love of Godhead.
Thousands of years later, the same deity of Sri Gopinath was rediscovered by Sri Paramananda Bhattacharya, a disciple of Gadadhar Pandit at Vansi Vat, the great banyan tree by the river Yamuna. Later on, the seva, the worship of this deity was handed over to Sri Madhu Pandit. Shri Shri Radha Gopinath was the life and soul of Sri Madhu Pandit Thakur, whose samadhi is located at the rear end of the temple premises.
Sri Madhu Gosain aye Vrindavan chaha badhi dekhen
in nainanashon kaisodhan swarup hai
Dhundata phirata vana vana kunj lata druma
miti bhukh pyas nahi jaane chhahn dhup hai
Yamuna chadhata kata karata karare jahan
Vansi Vat tata ditha paro so anup hai
Anka bhari liye daur aja hun
lo sir mour chahe bhaag bhala saath Gopinath roop hai
Madhu Gosain had come to Vrindavan with the sole desire to behold the all attractive form of Sri Krishna. Longing for Thakur ji’s darshan, he wandered in the forest, troughs through the trees and the creepers, oblivious of light, shadow, hunger and thirst. Once when he was sitting near Bansi Vat with his back to Yamuna, the river flooded and started to rise. Then and there, he had the darshan of Sri Gopinath Ji under Bansi Vat. He ran and lifted Thakur Ji in his lap.
After the disappearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and the other associates of Mahaprabhu, Maa Janhava Thakurani, the wife of Nityananda Mahaprabhu continued their work as the embodiment of the ideals of devotion. She was regarded as one of the greatest devotee of Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya and many scholars of the lineage took shelter at her lotus feet. The six goswamis treated her with utmost respect.
Once, in Vrindavan, while she was having the darshan of Sri Radha Gopinath Ji, she thought that had Radharani been a little taller, the couple would have looked much more attractive. That night Shrimati Radharani appeared in her dream and asked her to arrange a taller deity of Radhika. She got similar instructions from Gopinath Dev too. So, she travelled to Bengal and arrived back in Vrindavan with the new deity of Radharani. The new deity was placed to the left of Gopinath and the original small deity was placed on the right. When Maa Janhava saw the deity of Sri Gopinath with two Radhikas it appeared to her as if a dark Tamal Tree was embraced by two creepers. It is believed that when Jahnava Devi left this world, she entered this smaller deity of Shrimati Radharani and since then this deity is worshipped as Jahnava Ananga Manjari.
The original temple of Sri Radha Gopinath was built by Sri Ray Singh, the son of the king of Bikaner, in the year 1632 A.D. which was destroyed by Aurangzeb. The deities were secretly transferred and now worshipped in Sri Radha Gopinath Temple in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The temple was recreated again in Vrindavan in 1819 A.D and the replicas of the deities of Gopinath and Radharani were created. The deity now worshipped in Gopinath Mandir is of Murlidhar Mahaprabhu. Sri Krishna stands with Ananga-Manjari to his left and Radharani on his right. Lalita Sakhi and Vishakha Sakhi accompany them on both sides. Sri Radha Gopinath is located at Parikrama Marg, Keshi Ghat, Vrindavan on the bank of Yamuna Ji.
Shri Shri Radha Gopinath Dev at Jaipur, taken from My Travel Diaries