INDIA - HOLY PLACES
Sri Abhirama Gopala Thakura
Sri Abhirama Gopala Thakura was also known as Sri Rama Das. He was a great devotee of Lord Nityananda. On the order of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, he became a great acharya and preacher of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
He was a very influential personality, and atheists and blasphemers were very much afraid of him. Empowered by Sri Nityananda Prabhu, he was always in ecstasy and was kind to all fallen souls. It is siad that if he offered obeisances to any stone other than a salagram-sila, it would immediately burst into pieces.
According to Gaura-Ganodesha-Dipika (12) in Krishna-lila he was Sridama, one of the 12 prominent boy cowherd friends of Sri Krishna. He was Nityananda's dearmost devotee. Abhirama Gopala's wife's name was Sri Malini devi.
Abhirama Gopala Thakura lived in Khanakula Krishnanagara. Khanakula Krishnanagar may be visited by taking the narrow gauge train from Howrah Station in Calcutta to Amta. It is located in the present Hooghly District of West Bengal. There, in Khanakula Krishnanagara, near the bank of the Khana river, is the temple of Abhirama Thakura. Because it is a town (nagara) with a Krishna temple, the town is called Krishna-nagara, and because the temple is on the kula (banks) of the Khana, it is called Khanakula Krishnanagara. Just outside the temple is a bakula tree. This place is known as Siddha-bakula-kunja. It is said that Abhirama Thakura used to like sitting beneath this tree.
The story of how the Gopinatha deity of Khanakula
Krishnanagara was established is as follows. One day, the deity of
Gopinatha appeared to Abhirama Gopala in a dream, and informed him
that he wanted to manifest himself in Khanakula Krishnanagara. It
is said that he was buried in the earth, and that in the dream he
ordered Abhirama Gopala to excavate him and inaugurate his worship.
Abhirama Gopala went to the place where the Lord had indicated he
would be found, and began excavation.
There, after digging for some time, he found the mind-enchanting deity of Sri Gopinatha. The place where this discovery was made is now called Rama kunda, and there is a small lake there.
The Bhakti Ratnakara says, "After having excavated the Gopinatha deity, all the devotees headed by Rama Dasa (Abhirama Gopala) bathed in the sacred waters of the kunda near the spot where the deity had been found. From that day on the kunda became famous as Rama Kunda. Whoever bathes there becomes free from repeated birth and death."
One day Sri Abhirama Gopala was overwhelmed with the ecstasy of sakhya rasa, and had a desire to play the flute of a cowherd boy. Intoxicated by the bliss of Krishna-prema, he began searching the four directions for a suitable flute. As he searched through the forest for a suitable instrument all at once he saw before him a big log. The log was so huge that sixteen men could not move it. Grabbing hold of that log, he turned it into a flute and began to play upon it.
The Caitanya Caritamrita says, "Rama dasa was one of the principle branches of the Nityananda branch of the Caitanya tree of bhakti. He was full of sakhya-prema - love of Krishna saturated with the mellow of friendship. He once picked up a log that sixteen men couldn't lift and used it as a flute."
Sri Abhirama Thakura had a bullwhip that was imbued with divine power. Its name was "Jayamangal". Whoever was struck with this whip became filled with Krishna prema. One day Srinivasa Acharya went to take darshan of Abhiram Gopala. At that time, Abhirama Gopala touched him three times with Jayamangal.
The Thakur's good wife, Malini, cried out, "My
Lord! Do not touch him again. Calm yourself. Srinivas is only a boy.
If you touch him again he will lose consciousness."
When Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu ordered Nityananda Prabhu to preach in Bengal, he sent Abhirama Gopala and Gadadhara Das along with him. Simply upon seeing Abhirama Gopala, atheists and blasphemers would flee in terror. He was a remarkable scholar, well-versed in all the scriptures. He married his wife, Malini, upon the order of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. His disappearance day is on the seventh day of the dark moon in the month of Chaitra, and on that day a great festival attended by thousands of devotees is held every year in Khanakula Krishnanagara.
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