The temple of Radha Damodara
“May my head always very respectfully bow down to salute Vrindavana. May my tongue be enthusiastic to glorify its transcendental qualities.May my hands clean its newly blossoming groves. May my feet wander in Vrindavana. May my ears hear its glories. May my eyes gaze upon Vrindavana. May my mind always meditate upon Vrindavana”
On this earth, Sri Vrindavana dham is a replica of that supreme Goloka Vrindavana located in the spiritual sky. When Lord Krishna descends to this material world, His transcendental abode also descends, along with His entourage and most confidential friends.
For the benefit of us all, the Lord sported on that particular tract of land, performing transcendental pastimes with His eternal associates:
“This tract of land… is considered to be the topmost place of pilgrimage in India. This land is sacred because Lord Krishna traveled through it many times. From the very beginning of His appearance, He was at Mathura in the house of His maternal uncle Kamsa and He was reared by His foster father Maharaja Nanda at Vrindavana. There are still many devotees of the Lord lingering there in ecstasy in search of Krishna and His childhood associates, the gopis. It is not that such devotees meet Krishna face to face in that tract of land, but the devotees eagerly searching after Krishna is as good as seeing Him personally. How this is so cannot be explained, but it is factually realized by those who are pure devotees of the Lord. Philosofically, one can understand that Lord Krishna and His remembrance are on the absolute plane and that the very idea of searching for Him at Vrindavana in pure God consciousness gives more pleasure to the devotee than seeing Him face to face.”
(Srimad-Bhagavatam 3.1.24 purport).
Sri #Vrindavana dham is situated ninety miles southest of Delhi and comprises about eighty-four square miles in the district of Mathura, India.
There are over 5000 temples in Vrindavana,
“Of all the temples in Vrindavana, ninety percent belong to the Gaudiya Vaishnava sect, the follower of the teachings of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda and seven are very famous.
(Caitanya Caritamrita Adi 5.232 purport).
Between the seven most important temples of Vrindavana, the Radha Damodara temple holds a very special position, for many reasons.
In 1516 Sri Rupa and Sri Sanatana Goswamis arrived in the sacred land of Vraja.
Lord Chaitanya had ordered the two brothers to uncover the places of Sri Krishna’s pastimes in the holy Vrindavana that had disappeared over the centuries.
Srila Prabhupada one time said:
“Vrindavana is the gift of Rupa and Sanatana Goswamis”.
Although wandering through Vrindavana’s many forest, living austerely and residing each night under a different tree, the Goswamis remainex for short periods at selected places of Krishna’s lilas.
Sri Rupa Goswami performed bhajan in Ter Kadamba (near Nandagram), Varsan, Radha Kund and Seva Kunj.
Their bhajan kutirs were temporary arrangements like the hollow of a tree, under a thorny bush or an unerground cave. In these austere, natural settings, Rupa Goswami and Sanatana Goswami chantend Hari Nama and wrote the most exalted and sublime transcendental literature about the loving affairs of Sri Radha and Krishna.
In the year 1535 Jiva Goswami arrived in Vrindavana and took shelter of Rupa Goswami, considered the leading Goswami.
He was welcomed by Santana Goswami, Raghunath das Goswami, Raghunatha Bhatta Goswami, Gopala Bhatta Goswami, Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami, Prabhodananada Saraswati and Kasishvara Pandit.
Jiva Goswami proved his humility by rendering services like begging alms, cooking, washing Rupa’s feet and preparing manuscripts.
At that time there were no temples, only dense forests and Jiva and Rupa used to live together in the middle of Seva Kunj that was a large area.
Many Vaishnavas used to gather at Seva Kunj to hear Sri Rupa Gosvami explain the Gaudiya philosophy. Living together with the Goswamis were famous personalities like Lokanath das Goswami, Subuddhi Raya, Raghava Pandit and others.
Rupa Goswami was expert not only in philosophy and scolarship but also in astrology, mathemathics and languages such as Sanskrit, Persian and Bengali.
He was also expert in drawing and carving and able to prepare Deities.
In 1542, during the month of Kartik, knowing Jiva Goswami’s desire for a Deity, personally carved, installed and offered a small Deity of Damodara (Krishna) to his dead disciple.
Before the large temples were built, the Goswamis worshiped their Deities simply, keeping them in the tree under which they slept.
After Sanatana Goswami’s disappearance in 1558, Jiva Goswami purchased the land of the area called Seva Kunj. He bought a plot for thirty rupies from Ali Kant Chaudari, Emperor Akbar’s local landlord.
The original deed kept at the Vrindavana Research Institute mentions that the area was located between Seva Kunj, Dan Gali, Imli Tala, Sringhar Sthali and Rasa Sthali.
Its boundaries were marked by four trees: tamarind, banyan, pipal and kadamba.
Jiva Goswami directed Mansingh Raja of Ajmer in Rajasthan in constructing Radha Damodara Temple.
The opening date remain uncertain since only Radha Madan Mohan Temple (1580) and Radha Govindaji Temple (1590) have inscription dates denoting the year of completition.
On the altar there are four couples of Deities:
Radha Vrindavan Chandra worshiped by Krishna das Kaviraj Goswami,
Radha Damodara worshiped by Jiva Goswami,
Radha Madhava worshiped by Jayadeva Goswami and
Radha Chalachikana of Bhugarbha Goswami.
There is also a Govardhan shila called Giri Raja Charan Shila, that was worshiped by Sanatana Goswami and was given to him by Krishna Himself. When Sanatana Goswami was very old, it was difficult for him to circumambulate Govardhana Hill, so Krishna gave him this shila and told him if he circumambulate the shila that would be just as good as going around Govardhana Hill.
The samadhis of Jiva Goswami, Rupa Goswami and Bhugarbha Goswami are also here and the bhajan kutirs of Rupa Goswami and Sri Abhay Caran Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
In 1670 Emperor Aurangzeb destroyed many temples of Vrindavan but Radha Damodara Temple was spared because Aurangzeb’s soldiers thought the simply designed temple was a private residence.
Due to the terror of the muslim attacks, the Deities were moved to Jaipur and replaced by “pratibhu” murtis, considered as good as the original ones.
Before Jiva Goswami disappeared in 1608, he wrote his last will, leaving all the Deities, temples, properties and libraries that he had inheritated from Sanatana, Rupa and Raghunath das Goswami, to Sri Vilas das who was Jiva’s successors as the head priest of the Radha Damodara temple.
Krishna das succeeded Sri Vilas das and the present sevaite is directly coming from his descendants.
Sri Purnachandra Goswami is a member of the family that perform seva in Radha Damodara Temple under the guidance of his elder brother, present sevaite Acharya Sri Kanik Pradad Goswami.
“Since when your family is worshiping Radha Damodara”?
“We are coming in the line of successors of Jiva Goswami. Our family is doing seva since fifteen generations. You can see all the names in the sevaite parampara, near the samadhi of Jiva Goswami”.
“In some books it is written that the original Deities were moved to Jaipur but after almost seventy years they were brought back to Vrindavana. Is it true? Are the present Deities here in Vrindavana the original ones”?
“Yes, it is right. The original Deities came back here. You can see that the original Deities of Madana Mohan and Govindaji are always bigger of their pratibhu murtis. The Radha Damodara Deities of Jaipur are smaller of These in Vrindavana. Here we have the original murtis.
“So, these four couple of murtis are all the original ones”?
“Yes, in Vrindavan Research Institute of Vrindavana you can find proof that the original Deities are here”.
“Do you know some special story related to Radha Damodara Deities”?
“There are many examples of devotees that came here with problems and sufferings and after going in front of Radha Damodara and praying and craying they say they found their problem solved and their requests fulfilled. They offer some bhoga or maybe only prayers but after they come to us and then they say that the Deity has listen to them and helped them. We have so many stories!
My father Nirmalachandra Goswami told us that when he was young there were many snakes that used to come to take darshan and never bite anybody. They were even hanging on the altar but they never caused any disturb. Just coming for darshan and then go away.
When my father was very young, my grandfather (that invited Srila Prabhupada to live here) was becoming blind and was not able to do seva to Radha Damodara anymore. One day suddenly the pujari left, went away, and my grandfather told to my father that the day after he would have to do sringar and all the seva to the Deities. My father was little bit more than a child and felt unable to do anything.
But that night Krishna came in his dreams and explained exactly how to do seva the next morning. So the next morning he just went on the altar and did everything so nicely that al Vrajabhasis that came for darshan were astonished and wondering who could do such a beautiful sringar. And my father was crying.
There are so many stories! Damodara is very loving, very caring and very kind to the devotees. He always fullfill the desires of those who pray to Him…
“Vancha Kalpa taru”.
” Yes, Vancha Kalpa taru….if you ask for health He will help you, and if you ask for prema bhakti He will give you”.
“Somebody told me that at the beginnig the Seva Kunj property of the Temple was a very big area, but during the years your forefathers reduced it because they use to give pieces of land away just for very small donations”.
Sri Kanik Goswami (just arrived):
“Yes! If somebody was coming and offering a small seva to Radha Damodara, he could receive a piece of land when desired. For some sweet rice our Damodar was reciprocating by giving land to whomever would ask for it”.
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