Table Of Contents Chapter 1: Early years

Chapter 1: Early years

The Village of Gadeigiri is situated in the Jagatsinghpur District of east central Orissa. It is a quit place much like other small villages in India, consisting mostly of mud huts with thatched roofs. The residents take their daily bath in the local pond, keep cows, and cook over cow dung fires in the same way their ancestors have done for thousands of years. The main source of livelihood is rice cultivation and the selling of brass utensils. In front of almost every house one will find a shrine for the sacred tulasī plant, and it is common to hear the sound of the mahā-mantra: ‘‘hare kṛṣṇa hare kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa kṛṣṇa hare hare hare rāma hare rāma rāma rāma hare hare’’ being sung.

The residents of Gadeigiri are very devoted to Gopal. The long-standing tradition in the village is that the first fruit or flower that appears in any garden must be offered tot he Gopal deity, and it is understood that by doing this those trees and shrubs will thus give their fruits and flowers abundantly.

The sacred Alaka River is of great importance to the area. The businessmen of ancient Kalinga, modern day Orissa, would travel via the Alaka to the Mahanadi River, and then via the Bay of Bengal to the southeast Asian islands of Bali, Sumatra, Java and Borneo. By this trading they were able to earn substantial wealth and gradually establish the culture of Orissa in those foreign lands.

To this day there are people living in Bali who are addressed as  ‘‘Kalinga’‘. This ancient trade connection with Bali can still be seen in various place names of the district, such as Balikuda and Balisahi, and in the annual celebration of the ‘‘Bali-yatra‘’ festival, which means, ‘‘travelling to Bali’’.

With the wealth earned through this lucrative trading, the Kalinga merchants built numerous temples for different deities on both sides of the Alaka. Later, devotees and sādhus also established numerous temples and maṭhas in the Alaka basin. The temple of Sri Radha Gopal Jiu is on of them.

The Founding of Gadeigiri

The village of Gadeigiri is named after it's founder Gadai Giri who migrated from the district of Midnapur in the seventeeth century. He was a businessman who regularly came to the area to sell utensils and bell metal items. Every year Gadai Giri would come during the rainy season, stay four or five months, and then return to Midnapur. Gadai Giri was a gentle and saintly person. He would rise early each morning and perform kīrtan. Then after taking some flay rice and water he would go out selling brass utensil's door to door. When evening arrived he would spend the night in some village and join with the local people in their daily custom of singing kīrtan and reciting Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. He soon became well known as a good kīrtan singer and devotee and received frequent invitations to take part in the different saṅkīrtan festivals celebrated for the pleasure of the various local deities of Baladeva Jiu, Brindaban Bihari Jiu, Radha Madan Mohan Jiu, and Dadhi Baman Jiu.

The local zamindar, feudal landlord, lived in Harispur, six kilometers from present-day Gadeigiri. Appreciating Gadai Giri’s saintly qualities. The zamindar offered to give him some nearby land. Shortly thereafter Gadai Giri met a nāgā-sannyāsī, a naked mendicant, who was very pleased with Gadai Giri’s gentle behavior and high character. One day, Gadai Giri and the sannyāsī were walking together in the forest when suddenly they heard the sweet voices of several different kinds of birds as well as the sounds of a flute, ankle bells, and a conch shell. The nāgā-sādhu told him, ‘’Where such auspicious sounds are heard, Krishna Himself is present. Wherever Krishna is present His consort Laksmi, the Goddess of fortune, is also present. This is a sacred place, a place of glory. You should build a house here for your residence and engage yourself fully in the service of the Lord. Here, whatever you desire will be immediately fulfilled.’’ Presenting all these things before the zaminder, Gadei Giri received from him a large segment of land, including area for cultivation. He cleared a small section of the jungle indicated by the nāgā-sādhu and built a house and a small temple wherein he established a deity of Dadhi Baman. When Lord Jagannath is worshiped without his brother Baladeva and sister Suhbadra He is known as Patita Pavan or Dadhi Baman. Gadai Giri left his brass business and simply engaged himself in bhajan and kīrtan. Many wandering sādhus and sannyāsīs came to join with Gadai Giri’s kīrtan. Gradually other people came to stay permanently, and a village developed in that place in Gadai Giri’s name.

Gopal Giri

Gadai Giri had only one son, who was named Gopal Giri. Gopal Giri was influenced by the devotional qualities of his father and was very devoted to Lord Jagannath. Every year he would go to Puri to see the Ratha yatra festival. He was also very attached to performing saṅkīrtan, and was expert in many different styles of kīrtan. Gopal Giri had a desire to worship a deity of Gopal. Unable to find such a deity, he decided to go to Puri, thinking that if he would render service to Lord Jagannath there, then somehow Gopal would come to him. Arriving in Puri, he stayed in the area known as Kundei Benta Sahi, near Grand Road. As he was very scholarly, he easily obtained service in the office of the king, where he became the poddar, or cashier for the temple of Lord Jagannath. Gopal Giri led a very regulated life. While staying in Puri he would daily go to see Lord Jagannath. While at the temple he would sit on the bāiś pāhāca, the twenty-two steps inside the compound leading up to the main darśan area, and there he would read Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. In the evening he would take prasādam and go home. Every Sunday he would go to the Satalahari Math, a temple near the ocean, where he would stand read Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and chant harinām. He was very attached to Śrīmad Bhāgavatam.

Gopal Comes from Vrindavan

Gopal Giri had long cherished the desire to worship a deity of Gopal. During the Ratha-yatra festivals in Puri he would approach devotees and sādhus coming from Vrindavan and ask them to bring him back a deity of Gopal. They would readily agree, ‘‘Yes, yes. Next time I will bring a Gopal deity for you.’’But no one ever brought a deity.

At this time, in Vrindavan there was one renounced devotee who was worshiping a deity of Gopal. One night this sannyāsī  had a dream that this deity was speaking to him. Srila Gour Govinda Swami tells this story:

Gopal Giri was serving in Puri as a government cashier. He was always thinking in his mind, ‘’if I can get a Gopal deity I'll offer worship to Him.’’ But he thought, ‘’How can I go to Vrindavan?’’ He had a strong desire to get a deity.
At that time this deity of Gopal was in Vrindavan with a sannyāsī  Vaishnava, a renunciate. He was doing madhukari, begging, and he was keeping that deity in his jhola, [a cloth tied as a bag]. During the day, he would go out and do madhukari, then in the evening he would cook whatever he had begged and offer it to Gopal. In this way he was leading his life.

One night this Gopal deity told the Vaishnava, ‘‘You take Me to Gopal Giri, the son of Gadei Giri. He wants to offer Me worship. I want to go there. Take me there.‘’ But the Vaishnava thought that it was only a dream. He did not take it seriously. After a few days Gopal came again in a dream and beat him with a cone on his legs. It was such a severe beating that his legs were bleeding.
The sannyasi vaishnava woke up and begged apology, ‘’Please forgive me for my offense. I did not take Your order seriously. But You have beaten me so severely, how can I go there with such wounds on my legs?’’ Gopal said, ‘’When Gopal Giri touches you it will be healed, otherwise you cannot be cured. You go there at once, don’t make any delay.’’

So he started walking. At that time there was no communication system, no train or bus. The only way was by walking. It took him two and a half months to reach Puri. At this time Gopal Giri was staying in a rented house at Kundhei Benta Sahi in Puri. The Vaishnava reached Puri in the evening and stayed near the Jagannath temple. Early the next morning he inquired, ‘’Who is Gopal Giri? I want to meet him.’’ Many people knew Gopal Giri; he was famous as the cashier of the Jagannath temple. So he quickly found Gopal Giri at his rented house.

Gopal Giri had just finished his bath and was putting on tilak.  The Vaishnava arrived and offered his obeisances to Gopal Giri. He ten took the deity from his bag and presented Him to Gopal Giri. Gopal Giri was amazed, ‘’What is this? Who are you, and where has this deity come from?’’
The Vaishnava replied, ‘’You wanted Gopal to worship. So Gopal has come from Vrindavan. I was in Vrindavan carrying this Gopal. He told me to hand Him over to you, and He beat me. He showed Gopal Giri his legs and said, ‘’If you touch it, it will be cured.’’ So Gopal Giri immediately touched him and the injury was gone.

Gopal Giri was very happy that Gopal had fulfilled his desire. He couldn’t go to Vrindavan, but Gopal had come to him. Gopal Giri went to the market and purchased rice, dhāl, and vegetables. He prepared prasād and gave some to the Vaishnava. Then he went to the king and offered his resignation, saying, ‘’I don’t want to serve any more.’’ When he returned to his room he opened his bag and told that Vaishnava, ‘’You can take as much money as you want.’’
The Vaishnava said, ‘’No, I don’t want any money. I only want to do service for Gopal. Wherever Gopal goes, I will go. I want to go and serve Him. I am not one to sell Gopal. I am a servant. I won’t take any money.’’

Later on, Gopal Giri again went to see the king. The king asked him, ‘’Why did you resign?’’ ‘’I have a temple in my village and I had a desire to get a deity of Gopal to worship.’’ The king was very pleased and said, ‘’All right, your desire is very noble. I have no objection. But sometimes you must come to Puri with your kīrtan party and chant in Jagannath’s temple.

Gopal Giri also had a deity made of Radha and installed Her. Their temple was a mud hut. He made all arrangements for Gopal, providing agricultural property so that in the future there would not be any difficulty for Gopal’s maintenance. Gopal Giri was a wealthy person. His family had landed property and they were famous for kīrtana. Everyday kīrtana was going on. At last that land has come to me. Now we are taking care, constructing a nice temple for Gopal.

The king gave Gopal Giri some extra months salary and allowed him to go. Gopal Giri then sent a message to Gadeigiri for a kīrtan group to come to Puri to accompany Gopal to His new home. When the Gajapati king heard the kīrtan of the Gadei Giri villagers he became very pleased. It is written in the maṇḍalā-pañjī, the history book of the temple of Lord Jagannath, that whenever the kīrtan party from Gadeigiri comes they should be allowed to perform kīrtan in the temple.

Gopal Giri installed the Gopal deity in Gadeigiri and requested the renunciate from Vrindavan to perform Gopal’s daily worship. After serving Gopal for twenty years, the renunciate departed this world and was given samādhi, ritual burial, near Gopal’s temple. After this, Gopal Giri engaged other renounced Vaishnavas fort he daily worship of Gopal. After Gopal Giri departed at the age of 85, responsibility for Gopal’s service passed on to his son, Dinabandhu Giri.