There are some standout characteristics of Gopinatha Pattanayaka’s inner character. The most amazing thing is that he was able to meditate upon the lotus feet of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu at the time of extreme distress. It is not easy to remember the Lord (or for that matter anything else) when one’s life is at stake. I have learned that one can constantly meditate on the lotus feet of the Lord when one reaches the stage of samadhi.
“This concentration of the mind upon the lotus feet of the Lord is called samādhi. Until one reaches the stage of samādhi, or trance, he cannot understand the nature of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Krsna book, 14)
The fact that Gopinatha could meditate on the lotus feet of the Lord proves that he has attained samadhi stage. Samadhi is the last of the eight limbs of yoga; the other seven are: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana. This proves that Gopinath was a very advanced devotee of the Lord.
Another aspect of Gopinath’s inner character is his understanding about the futility of material opulence. This is proven by the following statement of Gopinatha:
“However, my Lord, these are not the principal results of meditating upon Your lotus feet. Material opulence is very flickering. Therefore it is simply a glimpse of the result of Your mercy. Your real mercy has been granted to Rāmānanda Rāya and Vāṇīnātha Rāya, for You have detached them from all material opulence. I think that I have not been favored by such mercy. Kindly bestow upon me Your pure mercy so that I may also become renounced. I am no longer interested in material enjoyment.” (CC Antya 9.135-139)
A fearless characteristic of Gopinatha’s inner character is his taste for the Holy Name. When he was arrested and put on the canga, he was fearless and incessantly chanting the maha-mantra – Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. He counted the chants on the fingers of both hands, and after he had finished chanting one thousand times, he would make a mark on his body. (CC Antya 9.56-57). No matter what the conditions are, a pure devotee always takes shelter of the Holy Name. This shows his complete faith on the potency of the Holy Name. He has completely realized that there is no difference between the Holy Name and the Supreme Lord. No wonder, Lord Caitanya was pleased by this act of Gopinatha.
Gopīnātha Paṭṭanāyaka was a pure devotee who worships the Lord only for His satisfaction. He did not care about his personal happiness or distress, for that is the business of a materialist. One who engages in devotional service twenty-four hours a day, desiring only the Lord’s mercy, will very soon attain shelter at His lotus feet. And that is what Gopinath has attained. He has attained the shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord and His mercy too.
It is because of Lord Caitanya’s mercy that Gopinath’s debt was excused, was reappointed to his post, was honored with silken cloth, and had salary doubled. But being a pure devotee of the Lord, he did not desire any of this. All he prayed to the Lord for is to attain detachment from material enjoyment. In essence, he showed characteristic of pure devotional service to the Lord (anyabhilasita sunyam…)
My realization is that this is the external display and pastime of Lord Caitanya but internally He loves Gopinatha. Through this pastime, Mahaprabhu is teaching us that we should be careful with our duties and responsibilities; we should not owe anything to anyone. Through the example of Gopinatha, the Lord is teaching us this important instruction that is very relevant in modern times. He is teaching us how to use material opulence without incurring reactions to sinful life. From this advice, it appeared that the Lord encouraged Gopīnātha Paṭṭanāyaka to enhance his material condition. Actually, however, He did not. In fact, this was but a manifestation of His great affection for His devotee. (CC Antya 9.145)
It is therefore true that Lord Caitanya’s pastimes are sometimes inconceivable. The deep meaning of this behavior is very difficult to understand.
CC Antya 9.151-152 — The intentions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu are so deep that one can understand them only if he has complete faith in service to the lotus feet of the Lord. Whether or not one understands it, if one hears of this incident concerning the activities of Gopīnātha Paṭṭanāyaka and Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s causeless mercy upon him, certainly he will be promoted to the platform of ecstatic love for the Lord, and for him all dangers will be nullified.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!