Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami: Founding Acharya of the Radharaman Temple Lineage
Shri Gopal Bhatt Goswami was only ten years old when Mahaprabhu stayed for four months at his family home in Shri Rangam, during Mahaprabhu's pilgrimage through South India. Gopal Bhatt dedicated himself completely to Mahaprabhu’s service, caring for his every need, whilst drinking the nectar of his teachings, which where full of love for Krishn. One day, during a conversation with Gopal Bhatt’s father, Venkat Bhatt, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu said, “Do not take Gopal to be a normal human being. He is an incarnation of a gopi, a personal associate of Radha and Krishn. With time, he will help millions of afflicted souls.” Venkat Bhatt offered his son at the lotus feet of Mahaprabhu, who initiated him on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi of that year. Thereafter, by the blessings of the Lord, Gopal Bhatt travelled to the holy city of Vrindavan on foot. There, he lived with the saints Roop and Sanatan Goswami. Together they rediscovered the hidden places of Radha and Krishn’s pastimes and wrote the devotional texts, such as Hari Bhakti Vilas, Tattva, Paramatma, Bhagavat, Krishn, Bhakti, Priti Sandarbhas, Krishn Vallabh’s commentary on Krishn Karnamrit, which now define Gaudiya Vaishnav philosophy.
One night, Shri Roop and Sanatan both dreamt that Mahaprabhu infused Gopal Bhatt with the light of his essence and left for his eternal abode. Soon after, news of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s departure from this world was received and each grieving devotee saw a vision of Mahaprabhu. He told them, “Roop and Sanatan are my personal associates and they should serve Govind Dev and Madan-Mohan. And my life, my dearmost Gopal Bhatt should preach the path of Bhakti and go to Gandaki River in Nepal, where he will receive twelve shaligram shilas. Of these shilas, I will always reside in the Damodar shaligram shila. He shall worship me by worshipping that shila [which later became the beautiful form of Shri Radharaman]. My wooden seat, which I have given to Gopal Bhatt, is the throne upon which he will sit as the next guru of Gaudiya Vaishnavism, and preach devotion for Radha and Krishn. This seat is symbolic of my authority, and will be handed down from generation to generation of Goswamis who are eligible to become gurus within the lineage. This is my order.”
After the necessary rituals were performed, Gopal Bhatt sat on the wooden seat. From this auspicious day, he was honoured with the title of Goswami, and the lineage of acharyas established by him use Goswami as their surname. Gopal Bhatt chose his disciple Damodar Das Goswami as his successor, and by his blessings, Damodar Das Goswami and his descendants would serve the deity of Shri Radharaman, guiding devotees as scholars and spiritual teachers for all generations. Over the last 500 years until the present day, the Goswamis of the Shri Radharaman Temple have been following Mahaprabhu’s order and Gopal Bhatt Goswami’s instructions, dedicating their lives for the purpose of preaching devotion in the world and worshipping Shri Radharaman.