Radha Damodara temple
Jiva Gosvami, the nephew of Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, founded this temple.
There is a Govardhana-shila in this temple, called Giri Raj Charan Shila, that was worshiped by Sanatana Gosvami. It has Lord Krishna’s footprint on it. Krishna Himself gave it to Sanatana Gosvami.
When Sanatana Gosvami was very old it was difficult for him to circumambulate Govardhana Hill (22 miles around). Krishna gave him this shila and told him if he circumambulated the shila that would be just as good as going around Govardhana Hill. For a small donation, the pujari will show you this shila. You can see the imprints of Krishna’s footprint, walking stick, flute, and the hoof-print of a calf imbedded in the shila. This Govardhana-shila is on display on Janmastami. Rupa Gosvami installed the Deity of Lord Damodara in 1542 and then requested that Jiva Gosvami take care of the worship.
The main Deities here are Radha Damodara. Other Deities worshiped here are the Radha Vrindavana-Chandra Deities of Krishna Dasa Kaviraja Gosvami, the Radha Madhava Deities of Jayadeva Gosvami, and the Radha Chalacikana Deities of Bhugarbha Gosvami.
The original Deities were all moved to Jaipur. When the original Deities are moved, the replacement Deity is called pratibhu-murti and is considered as good as the original Deity.
It is said that Rupa Gosvami made the Deity of Damodara with his own hands. The Radha Damodara temple is in the middle of Seva Kunja. Seva Kunja is not just the area within the walls, but the whole area for about a 1½ km (one mile) in each direction is called Seva Kunja. In this area the rasa dance was performed. The area where the Radha Damodara temple is located is considered a very important area. Dama means “ropes” and udara means “abdomen.” The story of Damodara is in the section about Gokula, where this pastime took place.
The samadhis of Jiva Gosvami, Rupa Gosvami, Bhugarbha Gosvami, and the puspa-samadhis of Bhaktisiddhanta Gosvami and King Birhambhir of Vishnupur are here. It is said that the samadhi of Krishnadasa Kaviraja Gosvami is here and it is also said that it is at Radha Kunda. The bhajan kutirs (meditation place) of Rupa Gosvami and A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are also here. When Rupa Gosvami did bhajana here there was only forest. Jiva Gosvami’s samadhi is to the left of the Deities through a doorway.
It is then directly to your right against the temple wall. Bhaktisiddhanta’s puspa samadhi is the white marble samadhi, 5m (15 ft) in front of you as you enter the doorway. It is the first one in the second row. Rupa Gosvami’s samadhi is on the right side of the temple across from his bhajana kutir. Bhugarbha Gosvami’s samadhi is close to the wall, not far from Rupa Gosvami’s samadhi. Sakhi Charan Raya Bhakta Vijaya’s samadhi is red sandstone and is next to Bhugarbha Gosvami’s samadhi. He is a disciple of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati. He was a wealthy landlord from Bengal, who contributed to renovate the Radha Damodara temple and Imli Tala.
The Gosvamis would meet here and discuss how to spread Krishna consciousness. This temple was built by Maharaja Man Singh of Amber (Jaipur). Jiva Gosvami established a library here, where He stored all the original manuscripts of the Gosvamis. The time factor and negligence have combined to destroy a majority of these works.
The Vrindavana Research Institute has been able to preserve some of the original library, including autographed manuscripts of Sanatana Gosvami and Rupa Gosvami. At one time there were over 2000 manuscripts here, many over three or four hundred years old.
Srila Prabhupada lived at the Radha Damodara Temple for six years, from 1959 to 1965. He translated and wrote commentaries on the first three volumes of the Srimad Bhagavatam here. Every day at about 1 pm there is distribution of the maha-prasada that is offered to him. When you enter the courtyard of the temple, Srila Prabhupada’s rooms are to your right. The small kitchen has a window, through which you can see Srila Rupa Gosvami’s samadhi.