The cowherd girls of Vrindavan, the companions of Sri Radha (Astha Sakhi – eight principal cowherd girls) and Krishna are commonly referred to as the Gopis of Vrindavan. According to authorities, these gopis can be broadly divided into three groups – Samaja, Mandala, and Gana. Samaja can be further subdivided into two – Varistha and Vara. These most exalted Gopis of Vrindavan are celebrated as the most intimate associates of Sri Radha-Krishna and they are always engaged in assisting the divine couple manifest their loving pastimes. The love that these Gopis hold for Sri Radha and Krishna is unique and unmatched. They are endowed with beautiful forms, transcendental qualities, and sweet features.
Among all the gopis of Vrindavan, Sri Radha and Chandravali are the topmost. They are leaders of other gopis and their groups in turn comprise millions of other gopis. Between these two, Sri Radha is considered to be the more exalted. She is the ultimate source of all the transcendental qualities. Radha is the most loveable object of Sri Krishna. The eight principal gopis of Vrindavan (as described below) are all expansions of Sri Radha, who is the queen of Vrindavan.
The following verses have been composed by Srila Jagadananda Pandita in his book ‘Prema Vivarta‘. He describes how one can elevate one’s consciousness and ultimately attain the shelter of the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord. He explains how one can purify his existence and purely chant the ‘Hare Krishna Mahamantra’. The treasure of pure holy name is a manifestation of divine love.
#1 The underlying Principle of Varna system (Varnashrama dharma) as explained in Sanatan Dharma
Sanatan Dharma explains that a human being can be classified into four varnas (castes) – brahmana (priests), Kshatriya (Kings/administrators), Vaisya (merchants), and Shudra (workers) depending upon their individual nature and inclinations. Based on their caste (varna), human beings can be assigned some specific occupational duties. Indeed, everyone has a prescribed duty according to the Varnashrama dharma. Those who execute their prescribed duties live peacefully and are not greatly disturbed by material conditions. The spiritual orders of brahmacharya (celibate), grihastha (householder), vanaprastha (retired), and sannyasa (renounced) are called ashramas. If one executes his prescribed duty in both the social and spiritual order, the Supreme Lord becomes satisfied. However, it must be understood that the ultimate objective of this varna system (varna and ashrama) is to gradually purify one’s consciousness so that one grows eligible to serve and please Vishnu, the Supreme Lord. This is also confirmed in Vishnu Purana –
purusena parah puman
vishnur aradhyate pantha
(Vishnu Purana 3.8.9)
Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Lord, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and ashrama. There is no other way to please the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be established in the institution of the four varnas and ashramas.
Radhika Charana Renu – The dust of Srimati Radharani’s lotus feet
(Sri Prema Bhakti Chandrika)
– by Narottam das Thakur
Kind (Kripalu), Compassionate (karuna), Magnanimous (vadanya) & works for the welfare of everyone (sarva-upakaraka)
By the time Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada passed away in 1977, he had already established 108 temples across six continents. These temples are a shelter for those who want to learn, preach and practice the science of devotion unto the Supreme Lord. He inaugurated the Rathayatra festival of Lord Jagannatha in major cities across the globe. He had initiated more than 5000 disciples and launched the ISKCON life membership program enrolling thousands of members. He encircled the globe fourteen times in these 10 years. He established major centers in Vrindavan, Bombay and Mayapur. He established the ‘Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust’ to unearth and renovate the holy places of Lord Chaitanya’s pastimes. He founded the BBT (Bhaktivedanta Book Trust) in 1972. He wrote approximately seventy books on the science of Krishna consciousness, sleeping only a few hours per day. These books continue to be an inspiration for devotees all over the world. Dozens of prominent scholars and educators from leading universities highly praised his work. Srila Prabhupada was magnanimous in the truest sense of the word, as his gifts to the world were unlimited and filled with tremendous spiritual value. In Chaitanya Mangala, Locana Das Thakura quotes Lord Chaitanya predicting that if the sinful people, giving up their religious principles, travelled to far off lands, His empowered commander in chief (senapati bhakta), would go there in due time to deliver them as well. Srila Prabhupada was the commander in chief of Lord Chaitanya. Another of Lord Chaitanya’s prediction that in every town and village of this world, the chanting of His holy name would become heard, came to pass through the pastimes of Srila A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (prthibite ache yata nagaradi grama,sarvatra prachar haibe mora nama).
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