The banks of the great rivers such as the Ganga (Ganges), the Yamuna (Jumna), the Narbada, the Krishna (Kistna), are studded with them, and the water of these rivers is supposed to be imbued with the essence of sanctity capable of cleansing the pious bather of all sin and moral taint.
This shrine contains an image of Krishna which is said to have been rescued from the wreck of a ship which brought it from Dvaraka, where it was supposed to have been set up of old by no other than Krishna's friend Arjuna, one of the five Pandava princes.
Here Krishna and his brother Balarama fed their cattle upon the plain; and numerous relics of antiquity in the towns of Muttra, Gobardhan, Gokul, Mahaban and Brindaban still attest the sanctity with which this holy tract was invested.
To a certain extent this is indeed the case; but though Vaishnavism, and especially the Krishna creed, with its luxuriant growth of erotic legends, might have seemed peculiarly favourable to a development in this direction, it is practically only in connexion with the Saiva system that an independent cult of the female principle has been developed; whilst in other sects - and, indeed, in the ordinary Saiva cult as well - such worship, even where it is at all prominent, is combined with, and subordinated to, that of the male principle.
Among the names of Krishna are Gopal, the cowherd; Gopinath, the lord of the milkmaids; and Mathuranath, the lord of Muttra.
The followers of his creed, amongst whom there are many wealthy merchants and bankers, direct their worship chiefly to Gopal Lal, the boyish Krishna of Vrindavana, whose image is sedulously attended like a revered living person eight times a day - from its early rising from its couch up to its retiring to repose at night.
Indeed, Chaitanya himself, as well as his immediate disciples, have come to be regarded as complete or partial incarnations of the deity to whom adoration is due, as to Krishna himself; and their modern successors, the Gosains, share to the fullest extent in the devout attentions of the worshippers.
Although the Vaishnava sects hitherto noticed, in their adoration of Vishnu and his incarnations, Krishna and Ramachandra, usually associate with these gods their Brot wives, as their saktis, or female energies, the sexual element is, as a rule, only just allowed sufficient scope to enhance the emotional character of the rites of worship. In some of the later Vaishnava creeds, on the other hand, this element is far from being kept within the bounds of moderation and decency.
Whilst numerous observances are recommended as more or less meritorious, the ordinary form of worship is a very simple one, consisting as it does mainly of the constant repetition of names of Krishna, or Krishna and Radha, which of itself is considered sufficient to ensure future bliss.
Vallabha, the son of a Telinga Brahman, after extensive journeyings all over India, settled at Gokula near Mathura, and set up a shrine with an image of Krishna Gopala.