Gopāla - Tāpanī Upanishad


Gopāla - Tāpanīya Upanishad - one of the original Atharva Veda Upanishads, which describes the transcendental form and pastimes of Lord Krishna. 'Gopāla' is one of Krishna's names - meaning "the small shepherd" - and it usually refers to Lord Krishna as a small boy while he was living in Vrindāvan, tending cows, playing his flute and teaching his friends – other little cowherds and cowherdesses – gopas and gopis.

Gopāla - Tāpanīya Upanishad also covers how to meditate and worship Lord Gopāla, and which mantra to use best.

Gopāla - Tāpanīya Upanishad has 2 Chapters:
1 Chapter (current page)
2 Chapter

Gopāla- Tāpanī Upanishad

Om! O Devas [angels, Gods], may we hear with our ears what is auspicious;
May we see with our eyes what is auspicious, O ye worthy of worship!
May we enjoy the term of life allotted by the Devas,
Praising them with our body and limbs steady!
May the glorious Indra bless us!
May the all-knowing Sun [Sūrya] bless us!
May Garuda, the thunderbolt against evil, bless us!
May Brihaspati grant us well-being!
Om! Let there be peace in me!
Let there be peace in my environment!
Let there be peace in the forces that act on me!

Chapter One

Text 1

oṁ sac-cid-ānanda-rūpāya kṛṣṇāyākliṣṭa-kāriṇe |
namo vedānta-vedyāya gurave buddhi-sākṣiṇe ||

Om namaḥ. I offer my respectful obeisances to Śrī Krishna, whose form is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss, who is the rescuer from distress, who is understood by Vedanta [philosophy], who is the supreme spiritual master, and who is the witness in everyone’s heart.

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

I glorify the Gopāla-Tāpanī Upaniṣad. showering the nectar of the Supreme Lord's spiritual form, it delights the devotees.

I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Gopāla-Tāpanī Upaniṣad, which is part of the Atharva Veda, and which describes the transcendental form and pastimes of Lord Krishna.

I offer my respectful obeisances to Lord Krishna, whom the Sāma Upanishad and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam proclaim the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

The name of Kṛṣṇa refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose spiritual form is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss. This is confirmed in the following verse of Mahabharata:

"The word kṛṣ is the attractive feature of the Lord's existence, and ṇa means spiritual pleasure. When the verb kṛṣ is added to affix ṇa, it becomes "Kṛṣṇa ", which indicates the Absolute Truth."

The name Krishna may also be interpreted to mean the perfection of transcendental knowledge and bliss.

Lord Krishna's mercy is described in the word "aklita-karine", which means that the Lord rescues the living entities from the five-fold miseries of material existence, and also that the Lord is so kind that He even liberated those demons fortunate enough to be personally killed by Him.

The word "Vedānta-vedyaya" means that Lord Krishna may be understood only by following the instructions of the Vedas, which lead the follower to liberation. Other so-called spiritual paths will not help one become liberated.

The word "gurave" means that the Lord becomes the teacher who enlightens His devotees. The Lord does this by appearing as the Super-soul (buddhi-saksine) in everyone's heart.

This is confirmed in the following verses from the Vedic literatures:

"Become My devotee, accept Me as your spiritual master, come to Me and worship Me."

"Appearing as the spiritual master in the heart, the Supreme Personality of Godhead reveals the path of spiritual enlightenment." (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam)

"To those who are constantly devoted and worship Me with love, I give the understanding by which they may come to Me." (Bhagavad-Gītā 10.11)

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

May our heart eternally rest on Govinda, who is full of bliss, the master of unlimited inconceivable transcendental potencies, the witness of everything, the expert protector of the devotees, and the creator of the material world!

I glorify the Gopāla-Tāpanī Upaniṣad, which to the pious reveals Lord Krishna, the original Personality of Godhead, the Super-soul near to all moving and unmoving creatures.

The name "Kṛṣṇa" is used to describe the Personality of Godhead because His complexion is like a dark Atasī flower. This is confirmed in the following verse from the Nārāyaṇīya, where the Lord Himself says:

"O Arjuna, because My complexion is blackish, I am known as Krishna."



Some sages said to the deva Brahma:

"Who is the Supreme Personality of Godhead? Whom does death fear? By knowing whom does everything else become known? Who created this world?"

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

The sages here are the Four Kumāras. They phrased their questions in such a way as to elicit the eighteen-syllable Gayatri mantra as their father's reply.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

The syllable OṀ is used here, as it is generally used in the Vedic hymns, to invoke auspiciousness.

The Kumāra’s first question is "Who is the supremely opulent and worshipable Personality of Godhead, than whom no one is greater or equal?"

The subsequent questions all relate to the qualities of the Supreme Person.


Brahma replied to them:

"Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Death fears Govinda. By understanding Gopījana-Vallabhāya everything becomes known. By pronouncing the word “Svāhā” the Personality of Godhead created the world."

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

The statement that death fears Govinda means that Krishna rescues the living entities from the hands of death.

The name Gopījana-Vallabha means "Krishna, who is very dear to the gopis."

By knowing Him, the entire spiritual and material world becomes known. The process of understanding Him is described by Lord Gopījana-Vallabha Himself in the Bhagavad -Gītā (18.56):

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead can be understood only by devotional service."

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

By answering the Kumāras' question in this way, Brahma initiated them in the chanting of the eighteen-syllable Gāyatrī mantra.


They then said:

"Who is Krishna? Who is Govinda? Who is Gopījana-Vallabhāya? What is Svāhā?"

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

The sages asked these questions to elicit from Brahma a more elaborate description of Lord Krishna's qualities.


To them Brahma said:

"Krishna means He who delivers from sin. Govinda [another name for Krishna] means He who is famous on the earth, in the Vedas, and among the Surabhī cows. Gopījana-Vallabhāya [another name for Krishna] means He who enchants the gopis, and Svāhā means the potency of the Supreme. All these names refer to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

The name papa-karsana may also be interpreted to mean:

1) He whose transcendental pastimes attract the minds of even the sinful conditioned souls, or
2) The merciful

Supreme Person who liberated Pūtanā, Agha, Keśī and many other demons killed by Him.

The name Govinda means the Supreme Lord who is famous to the Surabhi cows of Vraja. He is glorified in the verses of the Vedas, and He is famous on the earth because He removed the burden of demoniac kings.

Govinda also means He who protects the cows, land and Vedas. Lord Govinda is the Supreme protector, who rescues the living entities from the hands of death.

Gopījana-Vallabha means He who enchants the gopis, who are all manifestations of His hlādinī potency. Then Lord enchants them with the sweetness His handsomeness and other transcendental qualities, removes their materialism, and grants them ecstatic love for Him. In this way He has become very dear (Vallabha) to them.

The name Svāhā means the Lord's potency by which everything is manifested.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

The following explanation of the name Krishna is found in the Vedic literatures:

"For they who chant the auspicious holy name of Krishna, millions of grievous sinful reactions become immediately burned to ashes."

"One who chants” Krishna, Krishna, Krishna" at the time of death becomes eligible for liberation."

In the name Gopījana-Vallabha the gopis are expansions of the Lord's internal potency. This is confirmed in the following verses:

"I worship the Personality of Godhead, Govinda, who, by expansion of His internal potency of transcendental existence, knowledge and bliss, enjoys in His own and expanded forms.

"The gopis are expansions of My own internal potency."

The Lord is glorious in the Gopī's association. This is described in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.33.7):

"Lord Krishna appeared very glorious in the association of the gopis."

The Śruti describes the Lord as the master of transcendental potencies (Svāhā):

"The sages say that Lord Viṣṇu is the master of all transcendental potencies."


"One who meditates on this Supreme Personality of Godhead, glorifies Him, and worships Him, becomes liberated. He becomes liberated."

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

Liberation means freedom from the cycle of birth and death and eternal association with Lord Krishna.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

In this text the goal of life is described: By meditating on, glorifying and worshipping Lord Krishna, one becomes liberated.


They said:

"What is His form? What is His glorification? How does one worship Him? Please describe this to us."

8 and 9

Brahma said:

"He appears like a cowherd boy. His complexion is like a monsoon cloud. He stays under a desire-tree. The following verses describe Him.


"Meditating with all his heart on Lord Krishna, whose eyes are handsome lotus flowers, whose complexion is a monsoon cloud, whose garments are lightning, who has two arms, who is rich in transcendental knowledge, who wears a garland of forest flowers, who is the supreme controller, who is surrounded by gopas, gopis, and surabhi cows, who rests under a sura-druma tree, who is decorated with splendid ornaments, who stands in the middle of a red lotus flower, and who is served by breezes that have touched the Yamuna’s waves, a person becomes free from repeated birth and death.


"This mantra should be repeatedly chanted:

Klīm Kṛṣṇāya Govindāya Gopījana-Vallabhāya Svāhā


"By chanting these five names one attains the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose potencies are manifested as the heavenly planets, the earth, sun, moon, and fire.


"A person who even once chants the mantra 'Klīm Kṛṣṇāya Govindāya Gopījana-Vallabhāya Svāhā' quickly attains the association of Lord Krishna. He does not attain any other result.


"Devotional service to Lord Krishna is performed when the heart no longer desires any material benefit to be obtained in this life or the next. This is freedom from the bonds of karma.

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

Devotional service to Krishna and Liberation are actually synonymous, this is confirmed in the Padma Purāṇa:

"Pure devotional service to Lord Hari is actual liberation."

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

Bhakti means engaging the senses in the service of Lord Krishna. This is confirmed in the Nārada Pāñcharātra in the following words:

"One should be free from all material designations, and cleansed of all material contamination. He should be restored to his pure identity, in which he engages his senses in the service of the proprietor of the senses. This is called devotional service.

The activities of bhakti are listed in the following way:

1. hearing the Lord's glories, 2. reciting the Lord's glories, 3. remembering the Lord constantly, 4. serving the lotus feet of the Lord, 5. worshipping the Lord, 6. chanting prayers to the Lord, 7. carrying out the orders of the Lord, 8. making friends with the Lord, and 9. surrendering everything to the Lord.

As a result of engaging in Lord Krishna's service, one develops intense ecstatic love for Him.

This is described in the Eleventh Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

"As one becomes advanced in devotional service to the Lord, he becomes ecstatic. The hairs of his body stand on end, and he manifests ecstatic symptoms."


"Many brāhmaṇas [priests] worship Krishna. Many worship eternal Govinda. Gopījana-Vallabhāya maintains the worlds. Powerful Svāhā moves the universe.

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

Many brāhmaṇas, following the path of the Śāstras, worship Krishna.

Many others, following of the path of spontaneous love as the residents of Gokula followed it, worship Lord Govinda, the hero of Gokula.


"Although originally one, air becomes the five life-airs [Tattva] in the bodies of all living entities. In the same way, for the benefit of the world Lord Krishna appears as these five words."


They said:

"Please describe the worship of Govinda, the Super-soul, who maintains everything."


Brahma said:

"The Lord’s altar should be a golden lotus with eight petals. Within that lotus should be placed two triangles and the mantra Klīm Kṛṣṇāya namaḥ, the Kāma-Gāyatrī (Klīm Kṛṣṇāya Govindāya Gopījana-Vallabhāya Svāhā), and the Anangā-Gāyatrī (kamadevaya sarva-jana-priyaya sarva-jana-sammohanaya jvala jvala prajvala prajvala sarva-janasya hrdayam me vasam kuru kuru Svāhā) should be written there.

Then aṅga should be offered with the sula-matra (Astrāya Phaṭ).

Then one should worship the Lord’s expansions, beginning with Rukmiṇī, the devotees headed by Indra, the devotees headed by King Vāsudeva, the devotees headed by Arjuna, and the devotees headed by Indra-nidhi.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

This is described in the Padma Purāṇa:

"O Nārada, placing the Lord on His altar, I worship Him with prayers, incense ,lamps, arghya and other gifts."


"He who at sunrise, noon and sunset, makes various offerings to the Deity, obtains everything. He obtains everything.


"In this matter there are the following verses:

"Lord Krishna is the worshipable, all-pervading supreme controller, and although He is one, He manifests in many forms. They who are intelligent worship Him as He stands on His altar. They, and not others, attain eternal happiness.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

That Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead is confirmed in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.3.28):

"Krishna is the original Personality of Godhead."


"The brāhmaṇas [priests], who worship, as He stands on His altar, the one greatest among the eternals and greatest among conscious persons, the one who fulfils the desires of the many, they, and not others, attain perfection.


"To them who always diligently worship Lord Viṣṇu’s transcendental form, the Lord, in His original form as a cowherd boy, shows His lotus feet.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

This is confirmed in Vedānta-sutra:

"The Personality of Godhead reveals Himself to His pure devotees."


"It was Krishna who in the beginning instructed Brahma in Vedic knowledge and who disseminated Vedic knowledge in the past. They who desire liberation surrender to Him, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who grants transcendental knowledge to His devotees.


"To them who chant the five-word mantra with OṀ and Govinda (OṀ Kṛṣṇāya Govindāya Gopījana-Vallabhāya Svāhā) the Lord reveals His own form. Therefore, to attain transcendental peace, they who desire liberation should regularly chant this mantra.


"From this five-word mantra have come all other Govinda-mantras in human society, including the ten-syllable Govinda-mantra chanted by Indra’s followers and by them who desire opulences."

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

The persons desiring opulence in this verse are the four Kumāras - followers, who desire liberation, and Nārada’s followers, who desire pure devotional service.


They asked: "Please tell us the nature of this mantra."

27 and 28

Brahma said:

"I continually glorified the Lord and meditated upon Him for millions of years, and at last I was able to understand the transcendental form of the Lord as Śrī Krishna, in the dress of a cowherd boy. With devotion in my heart I bowed down before Him. He gave me the eighteen-syllable mantra to be used for the activity of creation, and then He disappeared.


"When I desired to create the universe He again appeared before me, showing me in these syllables the universe that was to be.


"From the letter K, I created Water, from the letter L, Earth, from the letter Ī, Fire, from the letter M, the Moon, and from the entire word Klīm, the Sun.

From the word Kṛṣṇāya, I created Ether, from Govindāya, Air, from Gopījana-Vallabhāya, Knowledge and the Surabhī cows, and from Svāhā, men, women, and everything else.


"By worshipping Him, Shiva became free from illusion, and by chanting this mantra in a solitary place, he attained the Lord.


"The devas gaze at Vishnu’s abode, which is like a splendid sun in the sky.


"Therefore one should regularly chant this mantra. One should regularly chant this mantra.


"Some have said that from the first word of this mantra Earth was created, from the second word Water, from the third Fire, from the fourth Air, and from the fifth Ether. To attain liberation one should chant this five-word Vaishnava mantra, which reveals Lord Krishna.


"About this are the following verses:

"One should chant this mantra, of which from the first word the element earth came, from the second word water, from the third fire, from the fourth air, and from the fifth ether.


"By chanting this mantra Shiva entered Lord Viṣṇu’s eternal spiritual abode.


"That spiritual world, completely pure, uncontaminated, free from suffering, free from greed and all other vices, and identical with this five-word mantra, is manifested from Lord Vāsudeva [another name for Krishna]. It is not separate from Him.


"With eloquent prayers I and the Maruts please Lord Govinda [another name for Krishna], whose form is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss, who stays under a desire tree in Vṛndāvana, and who is this five-word mantra.


"Om namaḥ. To Lord Govinda, who is the form of the universe, the creator, maintainer, and destroyer of the universe, the master of the universe, and the universe itself. I offer my respectful obeisances.


"Obeisances to Lord Govinda, whose form is full of knowledge, whose form is full of supreme bliss, who is all-attractive, and who is the master of the gopis.


"Obeisances to Him, His eyes lotus flowers. Obeisances to Him, garlanded with lotuses. Obeisances to Him, His navel a lotus. Obeisances to Him, the husband of the goddesses of fortune.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

The goddesses of fortune here are the gopis. This is described in verses 29 and 56 of the Brahma-Saṁhitā:

"Lord Govinda is served with great reverence by hundreds and thousands of gopis."

"The damsels of Vṛndāvana, the gopis, are super goddesses of fortune."


"Obeisances to Lord Govinda, handsome with a peacock-feather crown, identical with Balarāma, His intelligence sharp, and He the swan in the Manasā lake of the goddess of fortune’s thoughts.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

The goddess of fortune here is Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī, who is described in the Puruṣa-bodhini Upaniṣad.

"Candravali and Rādhikā always remain at Lord Krishna's side. Lakṣmī, Durgā, and the Lord's other potencies are expansions of Śrī Rādhikā."

The Gautamiya Tantra also explains:

The transcendental goddess Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī is the direct counterpart of Lord Śrī Krishna. She is the central figure for the goddess of fortune. She possesses all the attractiveness to attract the all-attractive Personality of Godhead. She is the primeval internal potency of the Lord.


"Obeisances to Him, the death of Kamsa and his allies, the killer of Keśī and Cāṇūra, the object of worship for Śiva, and the chariot-driver of Arjuna.


"Obeisances to Him, the cowherd boy fond of playing the flute, the crusher of Kāliya, the person who walks on the Yamuna’s shore and whose earrings gracefully swing to and fro.


"Obeisances to Śrī Krishna, the protector of the surrendered souls. Obeisances to Him, the expert dancer garlanded with the gopi’s lotus glances.


"Obeisances to Him, the death of sin, the lifter of Govardhana Hill, the end of Pūtanā’s life, the thief of Trnavarta’s life.


"Obeisances to Śrī Krishna, decorated with a golden necklace, charming, pure, the enemy of impurity, one without a second, the greatest.

Commentary by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī:

The Word niskalaya may also mean "He who is beyond the influence of material illusion" and the word vimohaya may be interpreted to mean "He who is omniscient and cannot be put into illusion even by Brahma or Śiva".

The word "asuddhi-vairine" may be interpreted to mean "He who removes material impurities from the hearts of those attached to hearing and chanting His glories."


"Be kind, O blissful one. Be kind, O Supreme Lord. O Lord, please rescue me, bitten by the snake of physical and mental pain.

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

Vyadhi, or physical pain, inevitably comes when one fulfils his material desires. When material desires remain unfulfilled, however, the conditioned soul experiences mental pain, or adhi. Either condition is inauspicious for the conditioned soul.


"O Krishna, O husband of Rukmiṇī, O enchanter of the gopis, O master of the universe, please rescue me, drowning in the ocean of repeated birth and death.


"O Keśava, O Nārāyaṇa, O Govinda, O Janārdana, O source of all transcendental bliss, O Lord who rescues the devotees from distress, O Mādhava, please rescue me."

Commentary by Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣana:

In the Harivaṁśa, Lord Shiva explains the meaning of the name Keśava:

"Both Brahma (ka) and I (isa), the master of all living entities, were born from You, and for this reason, O Lord, You are known as Keśava."


Brahma said:

"As I worship Him, so should you. Chanting this five-word mantra, and meditating on Lord Krishna, you will transcend the world of birth and death.


"One who chants this five-word mantra easily attains His transcendental abode.


"Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running. Even the powerful devas cannot approach Him.


"Therefore, Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One should meditate upon Him, glorify Him, serve Him and worship Him. Om Tat Sat."