Three main Deities of Vrindavan

After the departure of Lord Krishna, all the Pandavas, unable to bear the separation from Krishna, decided to leave this world. Before they left, Maharaj Yuddhisthir appointed Parikshit, son of Abhimanyu, as the emperor of the whole world. Vajranabha, the great-grandson of Lord Krishna, son of Aniruddha, was made the king of Mathura.

Vajranabha missed Krishna very much. Many great personalities requested him to reestablish the glories of Vrindavan. Vrajanabha decided to excavate all those places in Vraja where Lord Krishna performed His pastimes. He sat under a tree on the banks of Yamuna and prayed to Krishna to reveal His divine pastimes places in Vraja. He received Krishna’s mercy, who revealed His Vrindavan pastimes in his heart. Vajranabha then called upon Vishwakarma, the architect of the demigods to install various Deities. The three principal Deities carved by him were Radha Madanmohana, Radha Govindadev and Radha Gopinath.

At that time there was no one other than Uttara, mother of Maharaj Parikshit, who had seen Krishna directly. The first Deity she saw was of Madanmohan. When Vajranabha showed this Deity to Uttara she said Madanmohan’s feet perfectly resemble Krishna’s feet. Next, when she saw the beautiful form of Govindadeva, she explained that the chest of Krishna was exactly like Him. Finally, when she saw the Deity of Gopinath, she explained that the beautiful smiling face of Gopinath exactly resembled Krishna’s face.

One can understand the importance of these three Deities of Vrindavan for the devotees. Krishnadas Kaviraj Gosvami declares that these three Deities of Vrindavan are the very life and soul of all Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

śrī-rādhā-saha ‘śrī-madana-mohana’
śrī-rādhā-saha ‘śrī-govinda’-caraṇa

śrī-rādhā-saha śrīla ‘śrī-gopīnātha’
ei tina ṭhākura haya ‘gauḍiyāra nātha’

The Vṛndāvana Deities of Madana-mohana with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, Govinda with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, and Gopīnātha with Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī are the life and soul of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas.

(CC Antya 142-143)

ei tina ṭhākura gauḍīyāke kariyāchena ātmasāt
e tinera caraṇa vandoṅ, tine mora nātha

These three Deities of Vrindavan [Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopīnātha] have absorbed the heart and soul of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas [followers of Lord Caitanya]. I worship Their lotus feet, for They are the Lords of my heart.

(CC Adi 1.19)

Srila Prabhupada explains the role these three special Deities of Vrindavan play in the lives of devotees in his purport of the above verse –

The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta offers his respectful obeisances unto the three Deities of Vrindavan named Śrī Rādhā-Madana-mohana, Śrī Rādhā-Govindadeva and Śrī Rādhā-Gopīnāthajī. These three Deities are the life and soul of the Bengali Vaiṣṇavas, or Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who have a natural aptitude for residing in Vṛndāvana. The Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas who follow strictly in the line of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord, a reciprocation of mellows (rasas) of mutual affection, and, ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service. These three Deities are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.

Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas perceive the ultimate objective in Vedic hymns composed of eighteen transcendental letters that adore Kṛṣṇa as Madana-mohana, Govinda and Gopījana-vallabha. Madana-mohana is He who charms Cupid, the god of love, Govinda is He who pleases the senses and the cows, and Gopījana-vallabha is the transcendental lover of the gopīs. Kṛṣṇa Himself is called Madana-mohana, Govinda, Gopījana-vallabha and countless other names as He plays in His different pastimes with His devotees.

(CC Adi 1.19p)

According to the Vedic principles, there are three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandhajñāna, abhidheya and prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna refers to establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, abhidheya refers to acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to develop love of Godhead

(CC Adi 7.73p)

So these three Deities of Vrindavan, each one of Them represent

  1. Sri Radha Madanmohan are the presiding Deity of Sambanda – our eternal relationship with Krishna, we are His part and parcel.
  2. Sri Radha Govindadev are the presiding Deity of Abhidheya – how to act in that relationship. devotional service.
  3. Sri Radha Gopinatha are the presiding Deity of Prayojana– ultimate goal, love of Godhead.

Krishna willing, in our upcoming blogs, we will read in a little more detail about these special Deities of Vrindavan and try to understand and appreciate the unique role They play in the lives of all the Gaudiya Vaisnavas.

All glories to the three main Deities of Vrindavan.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriranj dasa

P.S.: It is said that if one gets darshan of these three Deities of Vrindavan on the same day, especially on an Ekadasi, then it is accepted that one has taken full darshan of Krishna. I have posted Their pictures and today is Ekadasi.

Sri Radha Shyamsundar

Every ISKCON devotee and millions outside ISKCON have a unique relationship and longing for the lotus feet of Sri Radha Shyamsundar of ISKCON Vrindavan. They are one of the beautiful deities on planet earth.  I am sure we all have our unique feelings when we stand in front of Them, mesmerised by their beauty and mercy and feeling goosebumps as we pray. 

Let me share something personal today.

We have a picture of Sri Radha-Shyamsundar inside our altar at home. On the left wall of the altar we also have a single frame with three pictures of Radha Madanmohan, Radha Govindadev and Radha Gopinath, original Deities from Vrindavan and now residing at Jaipur and Karauli — all in Rajasthan). These three deities are the presiding deities of Sambhanda , Abhidheya and prayojana for Gaudiya Vaishnavas.

Every day after chanting my morning Gayatri I first offer my pranams to all three of Them then I turn towards the front of the altar. Many times when I would offer my pranams to all three of the Deities in the single picture frame and then turn my face towards Radha Shyamsundar, I would feel that all these three deities, Radha Madanmohan, Radha Govindadev, and Radha Gopinath have manifested Themselves as one in Radha Shyamsundar.

I felt that manifesting from the heart of Srila Prabhupada, Radharani’s Shyamsundar attracts new visitors and devotees in the temple and confirms our eternal relationship with Him within our heart (sambhandha).

Then His darshan and mystical smile inspire thousands of souls to progress in devotional service and He gradually starts accepting our service (abhidheya).

And finally, as our devotion matures, then some fortunate souls serve Him by their spiritually purified senses and fulfill the desires of Lord (prayojana).

So as Shyamsundar Krishna is manifesting and reciprocating as all three- Madanmohan, Govindadev and Gopinath – in one form. Such are the mysterious dealings of Sri Radha Shyamsundar.

All glories to Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your servant,

Giriraj dasa


Sambandha, Abhidheya and Prayojana.

Hare Krishna.

2nd Oct., 2015. Gurgaon.

Radha Gopinath, Jaipur

(Sri Radha Gopinatha closeup)

According to the Vedic principles, there are three stages of spiritual advancement, namely, sambandha-jñāna, abhidheya and prayojana. Sambandha-jñāna refers to establishing one’s original relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, abhidheya refers to acting according to that constitutional relationship, and prayojana is the ultimate goal of life, which is to develop love of Godhead (premā pum-artho mahān). If one adheres to the regulative principles under the order of the spiritual master, he very easily achieves the ultimate goal of his life. A person who is addicted to the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra very easily gets the opportunity to serve the Supreme Personality of Godhead directly. ( CC Adi 7.73P)

Sri Govindaji acts exactly like the siksa-guru. He is the original preceptor, for Govindaji gives us instructions and an opportunity to serve Him. The diksa-guru is a personal manifestation of the Sri Madana-mohana vigraha. Both of these Deities are worshiped at Vrindavana. Srila Gopinatha is the ultimate attraction of spiritual realization.” (CC Adi 1.47p.)

Sambandha

(Sri Radha Madan Mohan, Karauli)

Srila Sanatana Goswami is the acharya of sambandha, the process of understanding our relationship with Lord Krishna.  The deity for Sambandha is Madan Mohan.

By receiving the mercy of the Radha-Madana-mohana Deity, and by studying the writings of the sambandha-acharya Srila Sana­tana Gosvami, a devotee will attain sambandha-jnana, or knowledge of one’s spiritual identity and his eternal relationship with Sri Krishna. Srila Prabhupada states, “Madana-mohana, Sanatana Gosvami’s Deity, helps us progress in Krishna consciousness. In the execution of Krishna consciousness, our first business is to know Krishna and our relationship with Him, which we can learn by worshiping the Madana-mohana vigraha.”

Abhidheya

(Sri Radha Govind Devji, Jaipur)

Srila Rupa Goswami is the acahrya of abhidheya and he reveals how to execute devotional service. His Deity of Radha-Govindaji accepts service and gives inspiration for increasing surrender on the path of bhakti-yoga. By writing many books Srila Rupa Gosvami has very kindly established the scientific basis of bhakti. “Everyone should read this book, Nectar of Devotion, very attentively, because all the conclusive statements about the Kingdom of Bhakti are contained in this transcendentally valuable book. It is the essence of all Vedic scriptures enlightening about Krishna consciousness. If anyone reads this Nectar of Devotion very carefully, he will have all guidance in the Bhakti Cult.” (Srila Prabhupada lecture 6/27/70)

Prayojana

(Sri Radha Gopinatha, Jaipur)

Sri Raghunatha Dasa Goswami is our prayojana acharya. The Gopinatha Deity is Krishna as master and proprietor of the gopis, the totally surrendered devotees . The Gopinatha Deity represents the prayojana-tattva (truth about life’s ultimate goal”pure love of Krishna. Srila Raghu­natha dasa Gosvami accepts the lotus feet of Srila Rupa Gosvami as his highest aspiration. He thus reveals the way to attain the perfection of one’s loving relationship with Sri Krishna. Through humble prayers and service to the Radha-Gopinatha Deity, and by imbibing the teachings and mercy of Srila Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, a devotee can quickly advance in devotional service and ultimately attain the goal of life, prema-bhakti. (MNS)

“The Gaudiya Vaisnavas who follow strictly in the line of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu worship the Divinity by chanting transcendental sounds meant to develop a sense of one’s transcendental relationship with the Supreme Lord (sambandha), and reciprocation of mellows of mutual affection (abhidheya), and ultimately, the achievement of the desired success in loving service (prayo­ja­na). These three Deities (Madana-mohana, Govindaji, Gopinatha) are worshiped in three different stages of one’s development. The followers of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu scrupulously follow these principles of approach.” (CC Adi 1.19p.)

In a seminar on bhakti culture HG Srimati Mataji shared three most beautiful verses to describe our relationship with Lord at above three stages, they are most practical for an aspiring devotee. We can recite these verses daily, also before our japa and even during the middle of our japa when the attentiveness seems to slip away. I am trying, and struggling, to follow the same but still reaping some benefits inspite of all my handicaps.

On Sambandha:

caitanyera dāsa muñi, caitanyera dāsa

caitanyera dāsa muñi, tāṅra dāsera dāsa

“I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, a servant of Lord Caitanya. I am a servant of Lord Caitanya, and a servant of His servants.” (cc Adi 6.86)

On Abhidheya:

daśa aparādha yena hṛdaye nā paśe
kṛpā kara mahāprabhu maji nāma rase

O Mahäprabhu, please be merciful to me so that the ten offenses never touch my heart, and I can always remain absorbed in the rasa of the Holy Name. (Harinäma Chintamani 13.59 Bhaktivinoda Thäkura)

On Prayojana:

“prema-dhana vinā vyartha daridra jīvana

‘dāsa’ kari’ vetana more deha prema-dhana”

“Without love of Godhead, My life is useless. Therefore I pray that You accept Me as Your servant and give Me the salary of ecstatic love of God.” (cc Adi .20.37)

As I write this blog, a verse which Krishnadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, author of Caitanya-caritāmṛta, wrote, comes to my memory

vande caitanya-devaṁ taṁ bhagavantaṁ yad-icchayā
prasabhaṁ nartyate citraṁ lekha-raṅge jaḍo ’py ayam

I offer my respects to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, by whose desire I have become like a dancing dog and suddenly taken to the writing of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, although I am a fool. (cc Adi 8.1)

I humbly seek forgiveness for any mistakes in compiling on this topic.

All glories to Sri Guru and Gauranga.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.