Gopāla-uttaratāpini Upaniṣad

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Gopala-uttaratapini Upanisad, GopAla-uttaratApini UpaniSad, Gopaala-uttarataapini Upanishad


Gopāla-uttaratāpini Upaniṣad is a part of the Gopāla-purvatāpini Upanisad and consists of 68 mantras written both in prose and poetry.

The Upaniṣad begins with a parable of the gopīs of Vṛndāvana and Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa advised them to give alms to the great sage Durvāsa. Since he lived on the opposite bank of the Yamunā river, they asked Kṛṣṇa as how could they cross the river and go there. To which Kṛṣṇa asked them to declare just once that, ‘Kṛṣṇa is a brahmacārin, par excellence!’ On uttering this, the river would give way to them! Kṛṣṇa also told them that whoever remembered him with faith and devotion would become pure and attain the fulfillment of all the desires.

The gopīs did as they were directed by Kṛṣṇa and crossed the river Yamunā. They met the sage Durvāsa in his hermitage and fed him a sumptuous meal consisting of milk, butter, ghee and milk-based sweets. Then they asked him how to cross the river and get back to their homes. He advised them to remember him by saying, ‘who that had not eaten anything’ and the river would give way!

Since these two statements that Kṛṣṇa is a ‘celibate’ and Durvāsas has ‘fasted’ were quite baffling[1] one of the gopīs named Gāndharvī raised her doubts to the sage. The reply of the sage and his interspersed with allied topics are detailed in this Upaniṣad.

Durvāsas explained that Kṛṣṇa was the Supreme Self and beyond all the elements like the earth, water and bodies. Hence he was untainted by these elements. He was actually their inner Self.

Then Gāndharvī asked the sage as how she could know the greatness of Kṛṣṇa who was only a cowherd boy born among them. If he were really God Himself, how was he born here and what was the mantra (sacred word) by which he could be appeased. What was the mode of worship that could be offered to him.

Durvāsas replied to this question by quoting the conversation between Nārāyāṇa[2] and four-faced Brahmā, the creator. This part of the Upaniṣad is quite long and has 17 to 68 mantras. It comprises of several topics. They may be briefly summarized as follows:

  • On the top of the mountain Meru, there are seven cities out of which Madhurā or Gopālapurī is one. But it is Brahman Itself. This city is surrounded by twelve vanas or forests. In these vanas live the twelve Ādityas, eleven Rudras, eight Vasus, seven Munis or sages and five Vināyakas. All these are divine and extraordinary beings.
  • Then comes a brief description of twelve murtis or forms of Kṛṣṇa which are worshiped by the Rudras, the ṛṣis like Sanaka, the Vināyakas and others.
  • The next topic describes meditation on Kṛṣṇa. It denotes that he is our own ātman or soul which will ultimately lead to mokṣa or liberation.
  • This is followed by a description of the mahimā or greatness of the city of Madhurā where the Lord Kṛṣṇa resides.
  • The content of the next few mantras is the fourfold form (caturvyuhas) of Kṛṣṇa.
  • A detailed procedure of dhyāna or meditation on Kṛṣṇa in one’s heart and also the symbology of the various weapons and ornaments is given in the next part.
  • The last part concludes the Upaniṣad with namaskāras or obeisance to Kṛṣṇa and his various forms and manifestations in the universe.

References

  1. It was proved by the Yamunā river obeying their dictate
  2. Nārāyāṇa is the Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Self.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore