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NATHADVARA NATHADVARA Pranama mantra Location Deity Temple Architecture System of worship The temple servants Festivals Other Deities and important places in and around the Temple complex Deity / Temple history Great personalities associated with the Deity

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Pranama mantra



Temple Architecture

System of worship

The temple servants


Other Deities and important places in and

around the Temple complex

Deity / Temple history

Great personalities associated with the Deity

Special songs – kirtanas and padas

Art forms

pranama mantra

Pranama mantra

vämas tämarasäkñasya

bhuja-daëòaù sa pätu vaù

kréòä-kandukatäà yena

néto govardhano giriù

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu said, “‘May the left arm of Çré Kåñëa, whose eyes are like the petals of a lotus flower, always protect you. With His left arm He raised Govardhana Hill as if it were a toy.’”

This verse is found in the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (2.1.62).



Nathdwar is located on the right bank of Banas River, amidst the Aravalli hills, 48 km north-east of Udaipur, in the Rajasmand district in Rajasthan. Nathdwara is located at 24.93 ° N 73.82 ° E. It has an average elevation of 585 mts (1919 ft). While the river dries to a mere trickle in the summer, during the monsoon season the countryside grows green and lush, and the Banas overflows with water.

The name of the town means “The Doorway to Nathji.”



Sri Nathji is a beautiful black marble Deity of Lord Krishna, standing with his left hand upraised lifting Govardhan Hill.

The Deity appears in a large black stone from which his form emerges in bas-relief.

The stone around the Deity bears several marks:

two cows,

a snake,

a lion,

two peacocks,

a parrot by the Lord’s head,

two sages seated on His right side and a third on His left, and below the sages is another snake.

Around the Lord’s neck is a flower garland, resembling a black snake.

The Lord wears a large diamond beneath his lips, which is said to have been a gift from the muslim emperor, Akbar.

temple architecture

Temple Architecture

The temple of Srinathji is called a haveli. The Haveli is considered as Nandalaya, the house or palace of Nanda maharaja. A haveli is typically a place of residence and a place of worship. Typically, it was in the middle of the city / town where everyone could access it. Though a place of worship, for security reasons, the heart of the haveli was not directly visible from the entrance of the haveli.

To avoid the Muslim invaders, the havelis were built in such a way, so as to conceal the wealth therein - making sure the main entrance was plain, or as normal as can be. No one could look into the nij mandir, or the jagmohan / doltibari from the outside. This kept the deity and the devotees out of view from outsiders.

temple architecture7

Temple Architecture

This basic structural difference between temples and havelis has also been explained in various philosophical ways. Here are some of them -

Haveli is supposed to represent the house of Nadababa, and hence is a house first. You would not have your inner rooms open to public view, and hence, they are secured from the outer gate by a series of courtyards and halls preceding them. Krishna is a small child and hence should not be exposed to the evil eyes. Only those trusted by Yashoda may come and play with her child. This is done to avoid "najar" - the "evil eye" of envious people.Just as a child would be kept indoors, as far away from the busy street as possible - least he runs out without his mother's permission, the Deity is kept in the inner most part of the haveli, to keep him safe.

temple architecture8

Temple Architecture

The havelis in Gujarat are often built with plenty of wood carving, whereas the ones in Rajasthan have a lot of stone, stucco and painted murals.

Havelis usually consist of several courtyards, halls and rooms.  Usually, they are multi storied.  The Nij mandir is typically on the ground floor. Families who live there usually occupy the upper stories There may also be a garden, well, and a cowshed in a haveli.

map of the haveli at nathadvara

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

A late 19th Century painting of Nathadvara haveli

map of the haveli at nathadvara10

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

A. Nagar khana - Kettle Drum Gate: Musicians play and sing here to announce that Shri Nathji is prepared to receive visitors to the temple B. Govardhan Puja Courtyard: cows are invited for a feast in this courtyard during the festival of Gopashtami C. Suraj Pol (Sun Gate): pilgrims and visitors wait here until the doors are opened; they then rush in to view Shri Nathji D. Doltibari: the room where viewers stand to see Shri Nathji E. Shri Nathji's Shrine: Shri Nathji stands here to greet his visitors F. Navanita Priyaji's Shrine: Navanita Priya means "The Little Boy Who Loves Butter." The small gilt image of a child with a ball of butter in his hand has its own separate shrine at the nathadvara temple. G. Lotus Courtyard: visitors exit through this courtyard after viewing Shri Nathji H. Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace): a priestly family, hereditary caretakers of Shri Nathji and Navanita Priyaji, resides in this palace

map of the haveli at nathadvara11

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara


As in the palaces of all the powerful rulers of old, the main public audiences are announced by a drummer and a herald.

Govardhan Chok

During Divali (Govardhana Puja) and New Year celebrations, a miniature mount Govardhan is created in this courtyard. On daily basis, fruit and vegetable sellers sell their goods for those wishing to offer fresh food items to the various havelies in town. The Lord's tailors sit above the chok and make new garments for the Lord on a daily basis.

map of the haveli at nathadvara12

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Suraj Pole

Lord Surya guards this Eastern gate of the Haveli. This most direct entrance to the Haveli is often referred to as the "ladies gate". As a crowd control measure, during major festivals, only women and children are allowed to go through this gate. Alternatively, men and women's gates are opened to let successive batches of devotees pass through the main audience chamber of the Lord. This is called "kheava" and at such times, the haveli stays open for as long as it takes for everyone to have at least one darshan of the Lord. Pigeons throng to this area and are fed by the devotees every morning.

map of the haveli at nathadvara13

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Ratan Chok

Courtyard of Gems ! It is here that a Hatadi is setup during Divali. It is also the first courtyard immediately outside the Lord's inner chambers. Three gates lead into this courtyard, leading into the triple arched "hall of audience" for Shri Nathji. Apart from Suraj pole and Hathi pole, a gate also leads into here from the walled garden of Shri Nathji. Before a darshan, entrance from this gate is normally reserved for the manorathies.

map of the haveli at nathadvara14

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Dolti Bari

Main audience chamber of the Haveli. It provides a glimpse into the wonderful world of ShriNathji. The chamber is often transformed for special festivals, such as Nauka (boat) vihar, hindolas, Tij and Dol Uttsava - hence its name - Dolti Bari (bari = window). Keeping with Rajasthani traditions, men and women are segregated during the darshan, women at the front and men at the back of the hall. To make it easier for the people at the back to have a darshan, wooden platforms of varying heights are placed from the middle to the back of the hall.

Mani Kot

Singers normally sing in this chamber during darshans. During such festivals as Divali, an arch of lamps is created in here. Special guests of the Tilkayat may have their darshans from here. Only members of the Vallabh kula and special temple servants may go beyond this point.

map of the haveli at nathadvara15

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Nija Mandir

Inner sanctum of the Lord. Here the Lord resides in all his splendour. This is the heart of the Haveli and the seven flags of the Lord fly above its’ tiled roof.

map of the haveli at nathadvara16

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Anar Chok

Leading out from Dolti Bari, this is the courtyard linking the kitchen and the Kamal Chok. All food for the Haveli is brought through here and often, it leaves from here to be distributed to the devotees.

Kamal Chok

A large courtyard with a distinct design of a lotus in the middle, this is the main courtyard where devotees can sit and wait for their darshan. On one side, there is the Samadhan - where officials record the cash gifts from devotees (the word gift - "bhet" is used in Pushti Marg, never donation - "dana" for such transactions) and give prasadam. The courtyard has four gates, one leads to Anar chok, one to Ratan Chok, one to Dholi Patia and the Northern one leads to Pritam Pole - the Beloved's Gate - leading to the Haveli of Shri VitthalNathji.

map of the haveli at nathadvara17

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Hathi Pole

Flanked by two beautiful elephants, these silver doors lead into the Ratan Chok. Also referred to as the men's gate as during kheava, and at times when there is a large crowd, only men are supposed to enter the chok and Dolti Bari from here.

Ratan & Singh Pole

After their darshan, devotees sit momentarily at this gate to contemplate the beauty of their jhakhi / vision / glimpse of the Lord. Handsome horsemen lead their painted charges through this gate and larger than life tigers guard the outer walls of this gate. A charming tale recounts how mother Yashoda had to keep the naughty Krshna from running out of the house by telling Him that if He runs out once more without his parents, the tigers guarding the Singh Pole will growl at Him !!

map of the haveli at nathadvara18

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Dholi Patia

Painted in brilliant lime white, this is the courtyard where flower sellers sell fragrant gifts which can be offered to the Lord. Seasonally, one sees such beautiful flowers as lotuses, jasmines, roses, champas, kevada, mogara etc. During the day, you can buy clothes and jewellery for your own seva and in the evening, painters sell paintings of ShriNathji to be put in the seva. Raised above Govardhan Chok, this is an ideal platform from which Shri VitthalNathji watches the proceedings of Govardhan Puja during the New Year celebrations.

map of the haveli at nathadvara19

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace): a priestly family, hereditary caretakers of Shri Nathji and Navanita Priyaji, resides in this palace

map of the haveli at nathadvara20

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

The different parts of the temple have also been categorized as follows:

1. Nikunj Nayak Shrinathji

2. Dol Tibari & Gol Deli (Dehri)

3. Mani Kotha

4. Kirtaniya Gali

5. Shri Chakraraj Sudarshan (Dwajaji)

6. Kamal Chowk

7. Samadhan Vibhag

8. Prasadi Bhandar & Khasa Bhandar

9. Panghar

10. Phool Ghar

11. Shakghar

12. Patalghar

13. Mishrighar

14. Pedaghar

15. Doodhghar

16. Kharasghar

map of the haveli at nathadvara21

Map of the Haveli at Nathadvara

17. Rasoighar

18. Lalaji Ka Mandir

19. Shrikrishan Bhandar

20. Kesar-Kasturi Chakki

21. Goverdhan Puja Chowk

22. Anar Chouk

23. Ratan Chowk

24. Dhouli Patiya

25. Druv Bari

26. Kharch Bhandar & First Charan Chowkiji

27. Ghee Tel Ke Kue

28. Lal Darwaja

29. Mahaprabhuji Ki Bethak

30.. Shrigoverdhan Vachanalaya

31. Bheetar Ki Bavdi

32. Haveli Sangeet Sikhshan Sansthan

32. Pustimargiya Library 3

35. Dhoop Gadi (Solar Clock)

36. Shri Navneet Priyaji Temple

system of worship

System of worship

The temple priests are followers of Vallabhacharya, who was born in 1479. His son Sri Vitthalanathji raised the worship of Sri Nathji to a very high standard. The temple is under the management of the main acharya (spiritual leader) of the Vallabha-sampradaya, called Tilakayata. He is the head of the temple.

system of worship23

System of worship


The Darshan in the haveli is opened eight times a day for a certain duration. The concept of darshan is explained as follows.

The Haveli is considered as Nandalaya, the house or palace of Nanda maharaja. The gopis loved the Lord so much that they would be at Yashoda’s door at all times, finding some excuse to see their beloved Nanda Gopal. Mother Yashoda was very protective of her darling child and concerned that with all these adoring gopis, hanging around her house at all hours of the day, her darling child will never get any time to rest or play properly with his friends. So she decided that all those who wish to visit her beloved Bala Gopal, could do so after He had finished a snack or a meal, and was resting before going out again.

system of worship24

System of worship

Taking this as his cue, Sri Vallabhacharya decided to have a similar system in the haveli, his version of the Nandalaya, and thus have darshana at specific times of the day only. The great Acharya set aside eight times of the day when the doors of the inner sanctum would be left open for the people to catch a glimpse ("jankhi") of the Lord. Rest of the time, the Lord was allowed to go out and play with his friends - the gopoas and the young gopis of Vraja.

system of worship25

System of worship

The sequence of the eight darshans are:


First darshan of the day. The Lord, having woken up, has just had his breakfast and greets his devotees with the most "auspicious" darshan of the day. This darshan usually occurs at dawn.


Having bathed and dressed her little darling, Mother Yashoda allows everyone to adore her baby. After this darshan, the Lord goes out to play with his friends.


Having had his mid-morning snack, the Lord is about to go out to heard the cows of Nandaji. The Lord is worshipped by reciting His thousand names and the sacred tulsi (basil) leaves are offered with each name.


After his mid-day meal, the Lord is resting in the comfort of Nanadalay. The Lord is most regal and resplendent for this darshan. Fresh garlands and lotuses are offered to the Lord. After the arti, Lord plays chopat, an ancient board game or version of chess to while away the hot afternoon.

system of worship26

System of worship


The Lord has just woken up from his afternoon rest.


Having had his afternoon snack, the Lord is about to go out to play again.


As the sun dips over the western horizon, the Lord returns with the herds of Nandaji and the gopis come to see their beloved. Mother Yashoda wards off any evil that may have befalled her darling in the woods of Vraj, by doing an arti and the Lord bathes for the evening meal.


Having had his dinner, the Lord is about to go off to his bed chamber. This is the last public darshan of the day.

system of worship27

System of worship

There is a story that Sri Nathji once tore His garment while rushing back to the temple to be on time for darshan. From that day on, it has been a custom to blow the conch and then wait several minutes before opening the altar doors.

system of worship28

System of worship


Arati is performed four times, twice in the morning session of seva and twice in the evening session.

In the morning session it is performed during ‘Mangala Darshan’ and during "Rajbhog Darshan’.

In the evening session, it is performed in ‘Bhog-Sandhya Darshan’ and ‘Shayan Darshan’.

system of worship29

System of worship

At regular intervals, classical music is played live in its many halls as pilgrims float through its perfumed marble halls and courtyards. Pankhwalas still manually pull on the large fans to cool the interior.

Everything in the inner temple, from china to silver/ gold-ware, paintings, wall hangings, clothes and furniture, are of the finest quality. Havali itself employs some 1000 people, whilst rest of the town thrives on the business given directly or indirectly by the Havali and the pilgrims.

The temple of Sri Nathji is said to be the second richest temple in India, the first being the Balaji Temple in Tirupati.

the temple servants

The Temple servants

Tilakayat :- Head of the Pushti Marg sect. High priest and head of the Vallabha dynasty. All staff and servants of the great haveli, as well as the national branches of the haveli report to him.

Mukhiyaji :- The priest(s) who adorn the Lord and are in-charge of the day-to-day activities in the inner sanctum.

Chadidar :- Chief stewards who announce the arrival of important people into the inner sanctum.

Zapatia :- They help clear the area directly in front of the inner sanctum by coaxing, and if need be, by "hitting" the pilgrims with a "zapat" from a cotton scarf.

Samadhani :- Clerks and accounts staff of the Lord. They record the cash gifts and sevas for the Lord.

(Krishna) Bhandari :- Chief treasurer to the Lord. Records large gifts of cash and materials to the Lord. He also looks after the Lords' jewels.

Kirtania :- Musicians to the divine court. Their classical singing accompanies almost all activities in the inner temple. From the moment the Lord awakens to the moment goes to sleep, musicians are at hand to entertain the Lord.

the temple servants31

The Temple servants

Jalgharia :- Carry heavy (silver) urns of water from the well/ river to the temple.

Phoolgharia :- Make garlands, flower arrangements and adorn the swings etc. in the temple.

Pangharia :- Make the beetelnut "pan" for the Lord.

Rasoia :- Cook and prepare all the food stuff in the temple.

Gval :- Look after the cows of the Lord and bring their milk to the temple. During festival days, they all bring the cows and calves to the temple.

Darji :- Tailors of the Lord. Apart from sewing new clothes for the Lord (ShriNathji wears new clothes everyday !), they also sew the flags, scarves, quilts, simple pichoies, awnings and curtains for the haveli.

Chokidar :- Guards of the Lord. They guard the many doors and gates of the great Haveli. They are also responsible for the safety of the pilgrims.

the temple servants32

The Temple servants

There are innumerable servants of the Lord. Those listed above are but the most obvious and "visible" servants of the Lord. Many others perform the various services in the inner and outer temple of the Lord, without being really seen or noticed by the pilgrims.

A Number of goldsmiths and jewellers are also employed by the temple to make the various jewels, plates, bowls, toys and furniture for the lord. Painters and decorators repaint the entire haveli every year. Due to the size of the haveli, some are kept as permanent staff, while others work mainly during the weeks preceding the new year festivities (before Divali).

To account for illness, holidays, and general "un-availability*" of staff, up to 300 men are employed as "spare" in the parachana section, who can be called into work at the drop of a hat.

As ShriNathji owns a number of other properties outside nathadvara, offices are setup in cities like Bombay and Calcutta to deal with "His investments". Buildings, temples, shops, farms, cattle etc. are all looked after from these offices and are centrally controlled from nathadvara.  There is usually a haveli attached to these offices of the Lord.

the temple servants33

The Temple servants

Payment for Temple servants

When the temple began to employ permanent staff in the 16th century, the main method of payment was "in kind" rather than money. Servants were paid in cooked and uncooked food, clothes and some cash. The temple, to this day, pays a majority of its servants in food stuffs. The kitchens of the great temple work around the clock to cook the food that must be supplied to the servants as part of their payment. Special sevas, festivals and manoraths required extra work from the servants, hence, on such occasions more food was distributed to the servants to compensate them for their "hard" work.

the temple servants34

The Temple servants

Apart from the cooked food, uncooked rice, wheat, pulses, salt, sugar etc. are also given on a monthly basis. Clothes are given on seasonal basis and some furnishings, such as mats, are also given to the servants. In addition to the annual pay, temple servants get an extra portion of rice, sugar etc. on special family occasions such as a marriage in the family. Only a small portion of the "pay" was ever made in cash. In the old days, it was not considered necessary.

The temple servants sell their portion of the food that comes to them from the temple. Pilgrims love the various sweets that are made in the temple, but, as these are not always directly available from the temple, they buy these from the temple servants. Now-a-days, this is formalised in the form of shops that sell the prasadam from the temple. Temple servants have annual contracts with these shopkeepers and they collect this prasadam directly from the temple. This way, the servants get the money they need and the pilgrims get the prasadam they want



The worship of the Deity is very luxurious, and one who goes there can purchase varieties of prasädam by paying a small price. (SP, CC purport)

Every day Sri Gopal is offered large quantities of opulent foodstuffs cooked in ghee.

There are four wells where the ghee is stored, each having a capacity of 10,000 lts.

The temple owns over 2000 cows. One of the cows is called “Sri Nathji’s cow,” and she comes from a lineage that has served the Deity for generations. The milk from the cow is offered only to Sri Nathji to drink.



The largest festival is known as Annakuta, commemorating the pastime in which the people of Vrindavana worshipped Govardhana Hill. Thousands of people attend this festival. As part of the celebration, a 2500-kilo hill of rice is offered to the Lord. Diwali is also an important festival. It precedes the Annakuta festival by one day.

At the end of the summer is Ratha-Yatra. The Lord is taken around on a silver chariot and 100,000 mangoes are offered to Him. The swing festival Jhulan-yatra, takes place in june/july.

Janmashthami (August/September) the appearance day of Lord Krishna is also a major festival



Pavithra Ekadashi - colourful silken garlands adorn the Lord during the Hindola season.

Sanji - the colourful designs created in havelis of Pushti Marg

Divali - 5 days of festivities.

Holi and Dhuleti

Summer Festivities - Chandan choli etc.

Monsoon Festivities - Jhulan utsava – swing festival

Adhik-mas - The extra month of celebration and devotion.

Eclipse - an excellent time to do darshan of the Lord.

other deities and important places in the temple complex

Other Deities and important places in the Temple complex

The main havelis in and around Shri Nathji's own are :-

1) Navnit Priyaji's haveli - right across the courtyard from Shri Nathji's own.

other deities and important places in the temple complex39

Other Deities and important places in the Temple complex

2) Vitthalnathji's haveli is across the road from Pritam Pole of Shri Nathji's. It is an important pilgrimage site, as this is one of the seven main nidhis of Pushti Marg.

3) Yamunaji's haveli is just further up the road.  It is a private haveli.

4) Gopalji's haveli is also near Pritam Pole.

5) Madan Mohanji's haveli is along the main route leading from Shri Nathji's main gate towards many of the older dharmshalas and the market where clothes and material our own sevas can be bought.  The icon here was once cared for by the princess of Udaipur.  It is now in the care of ShriNathji.

6) Kalyanraiji and Dwarikashishji have a haveli near the main gate, but the Lords no longer reside here.  However, seva offered here (fruits, flowers etc) does reach them in their own distant havelies.

deity temple history

Deity / temple history

Bhaktivinoda Öhäkura annotates that this Gopala Deity was originally installed by Vajra, the great-grandson of Kåñëa. Vajranabha, Lord Krishna’s great grandson, installed the Deity 5,000 years ago. Five hundred years agi Madhavendra Puri found the Deity in some bushes next to Govardhan Hill near Vrindavana. Madhavendra Puri then established the worship of Sri Gopal in a temple on Govardhana Hill. Madhavendra Puri then handed over the Deity to the son of Vallabhacharya, Vitthala.

deity temple history41

Deity / temple history

The town of Nathdwar was built in the seventeenth century for Lord Nathji at the tiny village of Sinhar, after the Deity was brought to Rajasthan to protect Him from the destructive reign of the muslim ruler Aurangzeb, who terrorized the Vrindavan area in 1665. For almost six months the Deity stayed in Agra. Then He was moved to Mewar. When the Deity reached a certain spot the bullock carts wheel sank deep in the mud and refused to move further. The accompanying priest realized that this was the Lord's chosen spot and the Deity did not want to travel any further. A grand temple was established at Sinhar by Rana Raj Singh of Mewar and the place was renamed Nathadvara. These events happened around the year 1669.

great personalities associated with the deity

Great personalities associated with the Deity

Caitanya Mahaprabhu

Madhya 18.22

That night the Lord stayed at the temple of Harideva, and during the night He began to reflect.

‘govardhana-upare ämi kabhu nä caòiba

gopäla-räyera daraçana kemane päiba?’

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu thought, “Since I shall not at any time climb Govardhana Hill, how shall I be able to see Gopäla Räya?”

Thinking in this way, the Lord remained silent, and Lord Gopäla, knowing His contemplation, played a trick.

caitanya mahaprabhu

Caitanya Mahaprabhu

anärurukñave çailaà

svasmai bhaktäbhimänine

avaruhya gireù kåñëo

gauräya svam adarçayat

Coming down from Govardhana Hill, Lord Gopäla granted an interview to Lord Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu, who was unwilling to climb the hill, thinking Himself a devotee of Lord Kåñëa.

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu then took His bath in a lake called Govinda-kuëòa, and while He was there, He heard that the Gopäla Deity had already gone to Gäìöhuli-gräma.

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu then went to the village of Gäìöhuli-gräma and saw the Lord Gopäla Deity. Overwhelmed by ecstatic love, He began to chant and dance.

gopälera saundarya dekhi’ prabhura äveça

ei çloka paòi’ näce, haila dina-çeña

As soon as the Lord saw the beauty of the Gopäla Deity, He was immediately overwhelmed by ecstatic love, and He recited the following verse. He then chanted and danced until the day ended.

caitanya mahaprabhu44

Caitanya Mahaprabhu

vämas tämarasäkñasya

bhuja-daëòaù sa pätu vaù

kréòä-kandukatäà yena

néto govardhano giriù

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu said, “‘May the left arm of Çré Kåñëa, whose eyes are like the petals of a lotus flower, always protect you. With His left arm He raised Govardhana Hill as if it were a toy.’”

This verse is found in the Bhakti-rasämåta-sindhu (2.1.62).

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu saw the Gopäla Deity for three days. On the fourth day, the Deity returned to His own temple.

gopäla saìge cali’ äilä nåtya-géta kari

änanda-kolähale loka bale ‘hari’ ‘hari’

Caitanya Mahäprabhu walked with the Deity of Gopäla, and He chanted and danced. A large and jubilant crowd of people also chanted the transcendental name of Kåñëa, “Hari! Hari!”

caitanya mahaprabhu45

Caitanya Mahaprabhu

gopäla mandire gelä, prabhu rahilä tale

prabhura väïchä pürëa saba karila gopäle

The Gopäla Deity then returned to His own temple, and Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu remained at the bottom of the hill. Thus all the desires of Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu were satisfied by the Gopäla Deity.

ei-mata gopälera karuëa svabhäva

yei bhakta janera dekhite haya ‘bhäva’

This is the way of Lord Gopäla’s kind behavior to His devotees. Seeing this, the devotees were overwhelmed by ecstatic love.

Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu was very eager to see Gopäla, but He did not want to climb Govardhana Hill. Therefore by some trick the Gopäla Deity personally descended.

caitanya mahaprabhu46

Caitanya Mahaprabhu

kabhu kuïje rahe, kabhu rahe grämäntare

sei bhakta, tähäì äsi’ dekhaye täìhäre

In this way, giving some excuse, Gopäla sometimes remains in the bushes of the forest, and sometimes He stays in a village. One who is a devotee comes to see the Deity.

Tradition holds that he will one day return to Govardhana.

madhavendra puri

Madhavendra Puri

Once, Çré Mädhavendra Puré traveled to Våndävana, where he came upon the hill known as Govardhana.

After circumambulating the hill, Mädhavendra Puré went to Govinda-kuëòa and took his bath. He then sat beneath a tree to take his evening rest.

While he was sitting beneath a tree, an unknown cowherd boy came with a pot of milk, placed it before Mädhavendra Puré and, smiling, addressed him as follows.

“O Mädhavendra Puré, please drink the milk I have brought. Why don’t you beg some food to eat? What kind of meditation are you undergoing?”

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Madhavendra Puri

When he saw the beauty of that boy, Mädhavendra Puré became very satisfied. Hearing His sweet words, he forgot all hunger and thirst.

Mädhavendra Puré said, “Who are You? Where do You reside? And how did You know that I was fasting?”

The boy replied, “Sir, I am a cowherd boy, and I reside in this village. In My village, no one fasts.

“In this village a person can beg food from others and thus eat. Some people drink only milk, but if a person does not ask anyone for food, I supply him all his eatables.

“The women who come here to take water saw you, and they supplied Me with this milk and sent Me to you.”

The boy continued, “I must go very soon to milk the cows, but I shall return and take back this milk pot from you.”

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Madhavendra Puri

Saying this, the boy left the place. Indeed, He suddenly could be seen no more, and Mädhavendra Puré’s heart was filled with wonder.

After drinking the milk, Mädhavendra Puré washed the pot and put it aside. He looked toward the path, but the boy never returned.

Mädhavendra Puré could not sleep. He sat and chanted the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra, and at the end of the night he dozed a little, and his external activities stopped.

In a dream Mädhavendra Puré saw the very same boy. The boy came before him and, holding his hand, took him to a bush in the jungle.

The boy showed Mädhavendra Puré the bush and said, “I reside in this bush, and because of this I suffer very much from severe cold, rain showers, winds and scorching heat.

“Please bring the people of the village and get them to take Me out of this bush. Then have them situate Me nicely on top of the hill.

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Madhavendra Puri

“Please construct a temple on top of that hill,” the boy continued, “and install Me in that temple. After this, wash Me with large quantities of cold water so that My body may be cleansed.

“For many days I have been observing you, and I have been wondering, ‘When will Mädhavendra Puré come here to serve Me?’

“I have accepted your service due to your ecstatic love for Me. Thus I shall appear, and by My audience all fallen souls will be delivered.

“My name is Gopäla. I am the lifter of Govardhana Hill. I was installed by Vajra, and here I am the authority.

“When the Muslims attacked, the priest who was serving Me hid Me in this bush in the jungle. Then he ran away out of fear of the attack.

“Since the priest went away, I have been staying in this bush. It is very good that you have come here. Now just remove Me with care.”

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Madhavendra Puri

After saying this, the boy disappeared. Then Mädhavendra Puré woke up and began to consider his dream.

Mädhavendra Puré began to lament, “I saw Lord Kåñëa directly, but I could not recognize Him!” Thus he fell down on the ground in ecstatic love.

Mädhavendra Puré cried for some time, but then he fixed his mind on executing the order of Gopäla. Thus he became tranquil.

After taking his morning bath, Mädhavendra Puré entered the village and assembled all the people. Then he spoke as follows.

“The proprietor of this village, Govardhana-dhäré, is lying in the bushes. Let us go there and rescue Him from that place.

“The bushes are very dense, and we will not be able to enter the jungle. Therefore take choppers and spades to clear the way.”

After hearing this, all the people accompanied Mädhavendra Puré with great pleasure. According to his directions, they cut down bushes, cleared a path and entered the jungle.

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Madhavendra Puri

When they saw the Deity covered with dirt and grass, they were all struck with wonder and pleasure.

After they had cleansed the body of the Deity, some of them said, “The Deity is very heavy. No single person can move Him.”

Since the Deity was very heavy, some of the stronger men assembled to carry Him to the top of the hill. Mädhavendra Puré also went there.

A big stone was made into a throne, and the Deity was installed upon it. Another big stone was placed behind the Deity for support.

He then established the Deity of Çré Gopälajé on top of Govardhana Hill with great pomp. Gopäla was worshiped, and the Annaküöa festival was observed. This festival was known everywhere, and many people from the neighboring villages came to join.

associates of lord caitanya

Associates of Lord Caitanya

The two brothers Rüpa and Sanätana did not climb the hill. To them also Lord Gopäla granted an interview.

In ripe old age, Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé could not go there, but he had a desire to see the beauty of Gopäla.

Due to fear of the Muslims, Gopäla went to Mathurä, where He remained in the house of Viöhöhaleçvara for one full month.


When the two brothers Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé and Sanätana Gosvämé went to Våndävana, they decided to live there. Following Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu’s example, they did not climb the hill because they considered it nondifferent from Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. On some pretext, the Gopäla Deity granted Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu an audience beneath the hill, and Gopäla similarly favored Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé and Sanätana Gosvämé. During his ripe old age, when Rüpa Gosvämé could not go to Govardhana Hill because of invalidity, Gopäla kindly went to Mathurä and remained at the house of Viöhöhaleçvara for one month. It was then that Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé could see Gopäla’s beauty to his heart’s content.

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Associates of Lord Caitanya

The following description concerning Viöhöhaleçvara is given in the Bhakti-ratnäkara (Fifth Wave):

viöhöhalera sevä kåñëa-caitanya-vigraha

tähära darçane haila parama ägraha


karilä yateka préti kahile nä haya

gäöholi-gräme gopäla äilä ‘chala’ kari’

täìre dekhi’ nåtya-géte magna gaurahari

çré-däsa-gosvämé ädi parämarça kari’

çré-viöhöhaleçvare kailä sevä-adhikäré

pitä çré-vallabha-bhaööa täìra adarçane

kata-dina mathuräya chilena nirjane

Çré Vallabha Bhaööa had two sons. The elder, Gopénätha, was born in 1432 Çakäbda Era (A.D. 1510), and the younger, Viöhöhaleçvara, was born in 1437 (A.D. 1515) and died in 1507 (A.D. 1585). Viöhöhaleçvara had seven sons: Giridhara, Govinda, Bälakåñëa, Gokuleça, Raghunätha, Yadunätha and Ghanaçyäma. Viöhöhaleçvara completed many of his father’s unfinished books, including his commentary on the Vedänta-sütra, the Subodhiné commentary on Çrémad-Bhägavatam, Vidvan-maëòana, Çåìgära-rasa-maëòana and Nyäsädeça-vivaraëa. Çré Caitanya Mahäprabhu went to Våndävana before the birth of Viöhöhaleçvara. As previously mentioned, Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé was very old at the time Gopäla stayed at the house of Viöhöhaleçvara.

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Associates of Lord Caitanya

Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé and his associates stayed in Mathurä for one month and saw the Gopäla Deity.

When Rüpa Gosvämé stayed at Mathurä, he was accompanied by Gopäla Bhaööa Gosvämé, Raghunätha däsa Gosvämé, Raghunätha Bhaööa Gosvämé and Lokanätha däsa Gosvämé.

Bhügarbha Gosvämé, Çré Jéva Gosvämé, Çré Yädava Äcärya and Govinda Gosvämé also accompanied Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé.

He was also accompanied by Çré Uddhava däsa, Mädhava, Çré Gopäla däsa and Näräyaëa däsa.

The great devotee Govinda, Väëé Kåñëadäsa, Puëòarékäkña, Éçäna and Laghu Haridäsa also accompanied him.

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Associates of Lord Caitanya

“The following Vaiñëavas were present with Çréla Rüpa Gosvämé: the merciful Gopäla Bhaööa Gosvämé; Bhügarbha Gosvämé; Çré Lokanätha däsa Gosvämé, a reservoir of good qualities; Çré Mädhava; Çré Paramänanda Bhaööäcärya; Çré Madhu Paëòita, whose characteristics are all wonderful; Premé Kåñëadäsa; Kåñëadäsa Brahmacäré; Yädava Äcärya; the merciful Näräyaëa; Çré Puëòarékäkña Gosvämé; Govinda; Éçäna; Çré Govinda; the magnanimous Väëé Kåñëadäsa; Çré Uddhava, who occasionally visited Bengal; Dvija Haridäsa; Kåñëadäsa Kaviräja; Çré Gopäla däsa, whose body is completely spiritual; Çré Gopäla; Mädhava; and many others.”

It was with great jubilation that Rüpa Gosvämé visited Lord Gopäla, accompanied by all these devotees.

special songs

Special songs

The original padas and Kirtans were written by the devotees who were initially converted to Pushti Marg by Sri Vallabhacharyaji and Shri Gusaiji.  There are eight main poet singer devotees of the sampradaya - Surdas, Kumbhandas, Parmanad-das, Nanadadas, Krishnadas, Chitswami, Chaturbhujdas, Govindswami.

They are the celebrated "Ashta chhap" group of 8 divine poets and singers of ShriNathji's court. They are also regarded as incarnations of the shta sakhas of Krishna in Vraja lila

They were inspired by their visions and were blessed enough to experience and indeed "see" the lilas of the Lord. 

The poetry composed by the Ashta Chhap is known as "pada". "Drupad" was favored mode of their music, hence "Drupad" style of singing is often considered to be synonymous to the "haveli" style of music.

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Special songs

Of the true "greats" amongst Pushti Poets, Surdas commands a special place of honour.  He is well known for his wide range of poetry. Unlike most others, his poetry is well known outside the sect and his padas are sung throughout India.

Though born blind, he was a gifted child and was a revered saint even before he met Sri Vallabh.  After his conversion, he renounced his own status as a "guru" in his own right and became a disciple of Sri Vallabh.  He wrote a huge number of padas and kirtans and is reputed to have written 100,000 poems.  His "Sur-sagar" - "Ocean of Music", is a vast collection of his works.  Once, Surdas was upset at the thought that he was now too old to write any more and will not be able to reach his goal of 100,000 poems he wanted to write.  Ever compassionate, the Lord and Sri Radha came to his assistance and wrote padas to help him complete the Sur-sagar for him, writing many padas in Surdas's name. 

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Special songs

Others have continued the tradition of the poet saints of Pushti Marg and these have been preserved in the collections of various havelis around India.  Written in Vraj-bhasha - the language of the people of Vraj, the padas retain the original feel of how the Lord and his friends might have communicated.  Some of the padas were written in Sanskrit and much later, some were written in Gujarati and other regional languages of the Vaishnavs. These are often known as dhoula and kirtans.

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Special songs

Traditionally, all darshans in main Havelies of Pushti Marg are accompanied by poetry composed by the Ashta Chhap. Atleast one pada from the Ashta Chhap is sung at each darshan.

Padas are written in accordance with seasons, moods, times of day, bhavas etc. Each Nidhi svarup has padas written for it by the Ashta Chhap in accordance with the bhavas relating to the svarup. For example, Navnit Priyaji has padas written with vatsalya bhava (Lord viewed as a baby) - hence padas describe the Lord crawling on all fours on the floor of Shri Nadababa's palace. Other padas describe the Lord playing with his toys or being rocked in his cradle.

Many kirtans are sung in the haveli for the pleasure of the Lord. Kirtans generally describe a lila of the Lord and are essentially an expression of joy.

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Special songs

Some examples are:

Joy of Yashoda playing with her Natakhata Nanda-Kishor.Joy of Gopal and his friends playing in the woods of Vrindavan.Joy of gopis wandering in the flower groves of Kadamb, tala, Madhu etc on the banks of the Yamuna.Joy of the Lord's lila with his beloved gopis, stealing their butter, their clothes and their hearts.Joy of the Lord appeasing his beloved gopi, having upset her by his mischiefs.Joy of devotees appreciating the grace of their beloved Lord upon them.

All these and more is expressed in poetry and sung in various classical ragas.

art forms

Art forms

The artists here paint exquisitely detailed images call pichhavais, which are rectangular backdrops that show the Lord in various pastimes.

In the main temple area, various items on the altar are covered or adorned with cloth coverings, which are changed in sets like sringara paraphernalia. A complete set (safa) of these textiles include a canopy, coverings for the throne, steps, table and stools, along with a large background cloth, or pichhavai. The pichhavais sometimes have a center space that is cut away, in which case they're called pithaka.

The images which have become most familiar are the large pichhavais depicting special festival scenes. These painted pictorials generally have a detailed adornment around the border, which is often cows or lotus flowers.

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Art forms

The center images may include a wide range of scenes called Dana Lila, in which a sequence of events are depicted, or Giri Kandara, in which Radha and Krsna appear in a cave on Mount Govardhan. In some, Sri Nathji is seen sporting among the lotus-filled waters of the Yamuna River

In many of the traditional nathadvara paintings, the Lord is attended by a priest offering a deepa, while father Nanda, the cowherds and the gopis stand nearby.

The artists of nathadvara have developed a style that remains very steady, capturing the Pastimes, Attire and Paraphernalia of Sri Nathaji in their beautiful array.

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Art forms

The artists here paint exquisitely detailed images call pichhavais, which are rectangular backdrops that show the Lord in various pastimes.

In the main temple area, various items on the altar are covered or adorned with cloth coverings, which are changed in sets like sringara paraphernalia. A complete set (safa) of these textiles include a canopy, coverings for the throne, steps, table and stools, along with a large background cloth, or pichhavai. The pichhavais sometimes have a center space that is cut away, in which case they're called pithaka.

The images which have become most familiar are the large pichhavais depicting special festival scenes. These painted pictorials generally have a detailed adornment around the border, which is often cows or lotus flowers.

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Art forms

Because of the heavy use to which the pichhavais were subjected in the Sri Nathji temple, there was a need for their constant replacement. There was also a large demand for devotional pictures by pilgrims coming to nathadvara. These needs kept traditional Indian painting more active in nathadvara than at any other place in India.

The painters of nathadvara are one of the most important of the craft communities and today number between 150 and 300 persons, divided between forty to fifty extended families. These families are divided into two main castes, the Gaur and Jangir, who claim to be Brahmins and to have immigrated from Udaipur in the first case and Jaipur and Jodhpur in the second. A third group, the Purbia, claims to have migrated from Delhi and Alwar.

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Art forms

Famous miniature painter

B. G. Sharma was born in Nathdwara on August 5, 1924. The Shri B.G.Sharma Art Gallery is located in Udaipur.