Shrinathji is a deity form of
Krishnasituated in the templetown of Nathdwaranear Udaipur in Rajasthan, and is the presiding central deity of the Vaishnavasect known as Pushti Marg or Shuddhadvaita, established by Sri Vallabhacharya. Shrinathji specifically refers to the story in the Bhagavata Puranawherein Krishna lifts Govardhan hillto protect the inhabitants of Vrindavanfrom a downpour of rain sent by Indra, king of the devas. Krishna in his form of Sri Nathji is also worshipped throughout Indiaby followers of Bhakti Yogaand the Vaishnava traditions, especially within Gujarat. The town of Nathdwara itself is often referred to as 'Shrinathji', after the famous deity. It is believed that a sage Madhavendra Purirediscovered this Gopala deity near its first location at Govardhanain Vrindavana,cite book
author = Sen, S. | year = 1971 | title = History of Bengali Literature | publisher = Sahitya Akademi
isbn = Page 77: “Started the worship of image of Gopala (Bala Gopala) in Vrindavana.”] but known now as Srinathji. This form of Gopala was later worshiped in
Mathuraby Vallabhacharya, follower of Vishnuswamiof the Rudra sampradaya,cite book
author = Bhandarkar, Ramkrishna.G.
year = 1995
title = Vaisnavism Saivism and Minor Religious Systems
publisher = Asian Educational Services
isbn = Page 109] who in turn was influenced by the devotional mood of
Madhavendra Purior "madhurya". [The Philosophy and Religion of Śrī Caitanya Page 31 O. B. L. Kapoor - 1977]
The priests and servants within the temple are not paid any cash salaries, receiving simply
prasadas a reward for their duties. Often this prasad is given or sold to guests who visit the temple for darshan.
Nathdwara enshrines Shrinathji - a
deityof Krishna which was originally enshrined at Govardhana in Vrindavan. According to local tradition, the deity was discovered by Madhavendra Puriin the forests of Govardhan. Krishna had appeared to him in a dream and asked him to install the deity of Shrinathji who had been originally installed by Vajranabha, the great grandson of Krishna Himself.
Pushtimarg, the sampradaya (lineage) which now maintains the worship of Shrinathji in Nathdwara, believe that the deity's arm and face first emerged out of the Govardhan Hill, at which time the local inhabitants (Vrajavasis) and others, including the above mentioned Madhavendra Puri, carried out the worship of the deity's upraised arm and later, his face. In the Hindu Samvat year 1549, according to Pushtimarg literature, Shrinathji appeared to Shri Vallabhacharya, root guru and founding philosopher of the Pushtimarg (Path of Grace), and requested the Acharya to proceed to the Govardhan Hill to meet him and begin his (Shrinathji's) worship, beginning the Pushtimarg's current spiritual stewardship of Shrinathji.
Shrinathji was brought to Mewar, Rajasthan during the reign of the Moghul Emperor Aurangazeb, for the sake of protection from widespread destruction of Hindu temples. The chariot carrying the image is said to have become stuck in Mewar while traveling, and hence a temple was established with the permission of the then Rana of Mewar at Nathdwara. According to local worshipers, the Srinathji deity is believed to have originally self manifested from stone and emerged from the Govardhan Hill. Shrinathji was originally worshipped in a humble shrine and then moved to a larger temple on top of the Govardhan Hill.
Vallabhacharyamade arrangements for the worship of this deity, and this tradition was continued by his son, Vitthalnathji. It is believed that Taj Bibi, a wife of the Emperor Akbar, had visited this temple. It was during the 17th century that this image was shifted to Rajasthan.
References and Notes
* [http://www.vaishnavparivar.info Vaishnav Parivar : A informative portal about Pushtimarg, Vaishnavism]
* [http://www.shrinathji.com/ ShriNathji.com]
* [http://www.shrijibawa.com/ Shrinathji Image Gallery and Information] (shrijibawa.com)
* [http://www.radhagopinath.com Modern Temple of Radha-Gopinatha & Sri Nathji in Mumbai]
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