Devakinandana Gopala

Sometimes a mantra lands in my head to tell me something. I find this mysterious and wonderful… I know the syllables but haven’t internalized the meaning of the Sanskrit, and when I investigate, it makes such sense.

At first, it was Shiva shiva shiva (Om nama Shivaya!) God of destruction which frees us up for re-creation (and dancing!) I almost went a little to far with that one, it can clean me out a little too much.

Recently, it has been the Gayatri mantra. Why? Oh, because it is the beginning, and that is where I am…. always right in the middle of the beginning. This mantra helps me stay in that not knowing, in that sense of connecting self to source, and then it, whatever IT is, can begin.  And much of the rest of my life themes have been about beginnings. I’ve been fantasizing about becoming a midwife, or a doula. I’ve been starting projects. I published my first draft edition poetry compilation. I’ve found little children absolutely fascinating. I’ve been picturing this inner self (I call her “Grace”) germinating and expanding inside me. I’ve been trying to translate romantic relationships into paths. I’ve been helping my teen son devise the first part of his adult path. Middle of my life span, and still just starting. Fascinating.

And now, a new mantra has landed, and I find myself chanting it in my head, looking for a good MP3, and googling for the translations.

Devakinandana Gopala

Most interpretations say it is a double entendre – a rejoicing simultaneously Krisha (Gopala), and his mother (Devaki), shining god (Deva) and joy (Nandana). But Nandana also means “son” or “one who comes from” or “rejoicing” itself. And Gopala also means “cowherd.” I love that one of the names of Krishna is synonymous with cowherd.

One possible translation of this string is that Krishna is the joy of his mother. Another is that we chant the name of the lord, Krishna, in his Gopala manifestation who delights in participating in folk-dances with Radha (mother nature) and Gopis.  This second translation cracks me up.

I was offered the name Radhika by a visiting guru (this is the affectionate term for Radha). As such, I have felt drawn to spend some time contemplating Radha, looking at the stories and their evolution – first lover of Krishna, wildly jealous of his romping with the Gopis (cowherd maidens), later viewed as the supreme Goddess by whom even Krishna is enchanted.

So, this mantra, a celebration of the circle, the creation and the source of that creation. The lover and the lover of the lover. And of dancing. And of being real – cowherd maidens, non-monogamy and all (Seriously, can I get some adoring maidens or what?).

So my mantra obsession has gone from destruction, to beginning, to circling back to identifying with the source from which all this destruction and creation emanates.

Devakinandana Gopala, my celebration of source, being source, coming from source, moving towards source.



2 thoughts on “Devakinandana Gopala

  1. Devakinanda

    Nanda is short for ananda, joy. When you combine ananda with other words preceding it, then if the preceding word ends with a vowel, you use that vowel and drop the a from ananda. It’s not devakinandana.

    Gopala and devaki are symbolic of Spirit and Mother Nature, dancing together, like in the chant: “Spirit and Nature”, like in the sample here:


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