Found in Sanga, Sanga 2001.

Q. You mentioned Gopala Campu earlier. Can you tell us more about it?

A. The final book of Jiva Goswami is entitled Gopala Campu. Probably the most famous work of Jiva Goswami is Sat-sandarbha, describing the sambandha, abhideya and prayojana of Gaudiya Vaisnavism (the conceptual orientation, the means and the goal respectively). The first four chapters deal with sambandha-jnana, the fifth with abhideya, and the sixth with prayojana tattva. He is most well-known for this most exhaustive philosophical treatise, which consists primarily of many verses strung together from Srimad Bhagavatam, his principal pramana, or scriptural evidence. And he has strung them together in a beautiful garland, Sat-sandarbha. A little acquaintance with this work is very helpful.

After writing Sat-sandarbha, Jiva Goswami wrote Gopala Campu, which is his masterpiece, his magnum opus. Gopala Campu is basically Sat-sandarbha in poetry form. If you read the two books you wouldn’t know they were the same. Therefore one should study Gopala Campu after studying Sat-sandarbha to see if you really understand it. The setting of Gopala Campu is the nitya-lila, the aprakata-lila in Goloka.

Q. What is aprakata-lila?

A. There are two principal lilas, prakata and aprakata, manifest and un-manifest. We are mostly familiar with the prakata or manifest lila which is recorded in Srimad Bhagavatam. Both of these lilas are human like in appearance. We should aspire not just for sraddha, faith in God, but faith in Krishna, who looks at first glance to be of this world.  In order to bring Krishna, the supreme expression of divinity, together with the finite soul an apparently finite setting is required. This finite-like lila is manifest within the time space continuum of our present experience and also eternally plays itself out in Goloka outside of time and space.

Careful study of the Goswami’s writing reveals that great devotees take more pleasure in the prakrta-lila. They find it sweeter even than the aprakata-lila. It is said that the devotees in the aprakata-lila recall the prakata-lila with relish. And the devotees in the prakata-lila (those who are sadhakas in the penultimate stage of their development) want to go to the aprakrta lila.

Q. What is Gopala Campu about?

A. The setting is in Goloka. All the inhabitants of Vraja reside there happily. Two distant relatives of Nanda Maharaja, Snigda-kanta and Madhu-kanta, come on the scene. They are minstrels, bards, who are known for their ability to put stories to song and music. These two bards were known not only for composing very expertly but also for knowing past, present and future. So when they came to Vrindavana, Nanda Maharaja called them and said, “We want to see your expertise. We would like you to recite something about our lives.”

So an assembly was called and everyone gathered in the morning. Snigdha-kanta and Madhu-kanta recited the life of Nanda Maharaja which included, of course, the life of Krishna. When the inhabitants of Vrindavana heard their recitation, they looked at one another with wide eyes. How deeply they knew about their lives, their feelings! The whole of the prakata lila was told there and supported very tastefully with reference to Srimad Bhagavatam and other scriptures. This is Gopala Campu. Such a wonderful book. From this book we find evidence about the extraordinary spiritual position of the prakata lila and the dhama, Vrindavana dhama manifest on earth, bhauma Vrindavana.

Q. How can we pilgrims benefit from being in Vrindavana?

A. Sukadeva Goswami was qualified to speak Srimad Bhagavatam and when Pariksit Maharaj heard it, he changed his life. So if we hear from a qualified person, we will know that we should change. And if it speaks loudly enough we won’t be able to avoid changing. We have all come here to Vrindavana for pilgrimage and for hearing about Krishna. So we should make some resolve in our mind and in our heart that from today we will not go away from here without changing for the better, by taking this spiritual practice to heart, by gravitating towards the essence of it and applying it in our lives. Then we will see Vrindavana for what it is.

Vrindavana means “vana,” forest, as well as “avana,” liberation, or to get free from. Material life is like a forest and we get free from it by getting entangled in another forest, the forest of Vrindavana. Vrindavana is full of contradictions! Yet it is also the place in which all contradictions are resolved.

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