Saturday 8 December 2012

The story of the Gopichandana

We are Vaishanava Brahmins and we perform Sandhavandhana daily. My father has taught me the manner in which to perform Rigveda Sandhyavandana and also to apply the gopichandan.
I go to work without rubbing out the Gopichandana. Several of my friends have been curious about why the Gopichandana is applied and what are its benefits.
I though I would share some information on the origin and history of the Gopichandana. So here goes the story.
The Gopichandana is closely interlinked with Krishna, Arjuna and his beloved Dwaraka.
The Gopichandana was first found in a small pond which today is called Gopi Talab. This pond is 21 kms away from Dwaraka in Gujarat.
The Mahabharata war had just ended and the Pandavas had emerged victorious. Arjuna was puffed up with pride and thought he had a major role to play in the victory. Krishna realised that he had to help Arjuna get rid of his “dhurankara”. He asked Arjuna to escort his queens to Bet Dwaraka.
While on the way, Arjuna and the queens of Krishna were attacked by archers and warrior of the Kaba community. Though Arjuna put up a fierce fight, he was defeated.
The queens, who were shocked at the turn of events, jumped into this pond and drowned. Since then, this pond is called Gopi Talab.
The mud in and around the talab is called Gopichandana. It is due to this incident that the phrase “Kabe Arjuna luntiyo, wohi danush wohi ban” became famous. 
This chandana is believed to have miraculous and curative powers. Locals say it cures almost all types of skin diseases.
Brahmins use the Gopichandana to adorn 12 parts of their body before commencing Sandhavandana.  When we apply gopichandana, it is believed to set into motion, the process of purifying a body.
Once adorned, the gopichandana protects its wearer from all evil influences, mishaps and  diseases. It also soothes the body and mind. 
The Garga Samhita, (Canto Six, Chapter 15) gives us a beautiful description of the gopichandana and its effects. It compares the adornment of Gopichandana, with bathing in the Ganga.
What is more daily use of  Gopichandana is akin to bathing in all the sacred rivers and water tanks. This task is so sacred that it equals the performance of  a thousand Aswamedha Yajnas and a hundred Rajasuya Yajnas.  
The Samhita says Gopichandana is twice as sacred as the mud of the Ganga and ten times more sacred than the dust of Panchavati-tirtha. It is equal to the dust of Vrindavana, the place of Krishna.
It says if a person adorns himself with Gopichandana twice a day, he goes to Gokula, the abode of Lord Krishna.
Even Yama, the God of Death cannot touch such a person. The Gopichandana is so powerful that it can wash away the sins of a person. The Samhita relates a story of a cruel king to illustrate this point. Even though the king committed many sins, it was washed away when his body came in contact with the Gopichandana from Dwaraka which had accidentally fallen on the place.

The Uttaradhi Matha tradition of Mudradharane or applying Gopichandana and chanting of mantra is as follows
What to say...?
Fetching water
imaM me gange yamune sarasvati shutudri stomam sachatA paruShNyA.
asiknyA marudvR^idhe vitastayA.a.arjIkIye shR^iNuhyA sushomayA ..(R^ig 10.75.5) 
Placing gopichandana on the left palm to extract paste
gandhadvArAM durAdharshAM nityapuShTAm karIShiNIm .
IshvarIM sarvabhUtAnAM tAmihopahvaye shriyam ..
While extracting paste
viShNornukaM vIryAni pravocam yaH pArthivAni vimame rajAMsi .
yo askabhAyaduttaraM sadasthaM vichakramANastredhorugAyaH ..
On the extracted paste
write Nrisimha Bijakshara
close your left palm with right palm
ato deva avantu no yato viShNurvicakrame . prithivyA saptadhAmabhiH . idaM viShnurvicakrame tredhA nidhAdhe padaM . samUlhamasya pAMsure ..
om shrIviShNave namaha (three times)

 Apply the gopichandana (see table below)

Procedure for nama mudra dharana as enshrined in Shri Vishnupurana.
Place on body
Saying ... (during Shukla Paksha)
Saying ... (during Krishna Paksha)
Lalata - Forhead
Dandakara (apply vertically up with index finger and then wipe the central part with a fine cloth splitting it into two parellel lines)
Keshavaya Namaha
Sankarshanaya Namaha
Udara Madhya - Middle of Stomach
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Narayanaya Namaha
Vasudevaya Namaha
Vakshasthalam - Middle portion of Chest
Kamala (like the bud of Kamala flower)
Madhavaya Namaha
Pradyumnaya Namaha
Kantha Madhya - Front Middle portion of neck
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Govindaya Namaha
Aniruddhaya Namaha
Udara Dakshina - Right Side of Stomach
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Vishnave Namaha
Purushottamaya Namaha
Dakshina Bhuja - Right shoulder
Venupatrakriti (in the shape of the leaf of a Bamboo tree)
Madhusudanaya Namaha
Adhokshajaya Namaha
Kantha Dakshina - Right Side of the Neck
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Trivikramaya Namaha
Narasimhaya Namaha
Udara Vama - Left Side of Stomach
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Vamanaya Namaha
Achyutaya Namaha
Vama Bhuja - Left Shoulder
Venupatrakriti (in the shape of the leaf of a Bamboo tree)
Shridharaya Namaha
Janardanaya Namaha
Kantha Vama - Left Side of the Neck
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Hrushikeshaya Namaha
Upendraya Namaha
Prishta Adhobhaga - Back side on the lower spinal chord
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Padmanabhaya Namaha
Haraye Namaha
Katha Prishta Bhaga - Back side of the Neck
Deepakriti (in the shape of a lamp)
Damodaraya Namaha
Sri Krishaya Namaha

The mudra dharane vidhi, according to prakasha samhita, is as follows
chakra mudra    
4 on stomach
2 on chest
2 on right hand
between two gada mudras on left hand
2 on right side of neck
1 on the beginning portion of neck
1 on upper portion of spinal chord
1 on lower portion of spinal chord
Shanka mudra
2 beside left eye
2 on left chest
between two padma mudras on right hand
2 on left hand
2 on left side of neck
1 on chest
1 on back of neck
1 on upper portion of spinal chord
gada mudra
1 on forehead
2 on left hand (below two sha~Nka mudrA)
padma mudra
1 on central portion of chest
2 on right hand (below two chakra mudrAs)
1 on right portion of chest
Narayana  mudra
on all mudras
on top of the head (one should wear all the five mudras on top of head
yasya sravana matreena
karma bandhat pramuchute
gopinam yatra vaso bhu
tena gopi bhuvah smrtah

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