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Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami Appearance

Today is a super excellent auspicious day as it is the appearance day of one nearest and dearest Vaishnava of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. So I want to speak about his life history and contributions. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was born in Sri Rangam near South India. His father was Vyenkata Bhatta and his two uncles were Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada and Trimalla Bhatta. They were a high classed Brahmana family, known as Bhatta parivara.

When Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu travelled in South India, first He met with Raya Ramananda on the bank of the river Godavari. After, Mahaprabhu arrived at a very nice and beautiful temple of Venkateshvara Bhagavan. And while at the temple, Lord Chaitanya was completely absorbed in His ecstatic mood while He was dancing and singing.

Witnessing this, everybody became completely surprised as they took darshana to Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Especially Bhatta parivara, and specifically Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada, Trimalla Bhatta and Vyenkata Bhatta who were there. They also became very surprised seeing Mahaprabhu’s ecstatic mood. As a family, Bhatta parivara were part of the Sri Sampradaya and they actually worshipped Lakshmi-Narayana. They then invited Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to come and stay with them in their house for a few days. During that time it was Chaturmasya.

While staying in their home, Sriman Mahaprabhu glorified the sweet pastimes of the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna every day. This is because Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was always absorbed in the mood of Srimati Radhika, and for this reason, He spoke Srimad-Bhagavatam every day. Especially on Krishna’s sweet amorous pastimes with the gopis, also on krishna-tattva, radha-tattva, prema-tattva, and rasa-tattva. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu discussed all tattvas, leaving them very surprised.

Mahaprabhu particularly spoke on rasa-pancha-dhyayi katha, the five chapters of Srimad-Bhagavatam, from, the tenth canto, chapter 29 to chapter 33. During these occasions the Bhatta parivara became astonished by what they heard and became completely intoxicated while listening to this rasa-lila katha. During Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s stay in their house, they displayed so much love and affection towards Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and treated Him as if He was a family member, laukika sad-bandhuvat priti

At times Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu would laugh and joke as He discussed different topics with them. One day, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, while laughing and joking, asked, “You worship Lakshmi-Narayana. However, I have heard from Srimad-Bhagavatam that Lakshmi-devi is currently still performing hard austerities in Vrindavana in order to enter in the rasa dance. Yet, she still is not able to enter the rasa dance with the gopis. I have even heard how the Shrutis, Vedas, Puranas themselves have manifested in the form of gopis and were allowed entry to the rasa dance. But still, your Lakshmi-devi has not entered the rasa dance.

“Your Lakshmi-devi, she is known as a chaste lady. Why has she now abandoned her husband Narayana to perform hard austerities in Baelvana in order to enter in rasa dance and meet with Krishna? Also, those who worship Lakshmi-Narayana, they especially strictly follow rules and regulations of the scriptures, vidhi-marga. So, why has Lakshmi-devi abandoned her husband Narayana and is now performing hard austerities in Baelvana, Vrindavana?”

In this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu laughed and joked with them. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu also said, “My ishtadeva is Krishna. And Krishna is gopa-jati, born in the dynasty of gopas. As such, He is an ordinary cowherd boy who spends His days herding cows with His friends. Krishna is a very simple boy and is completely blackish, wearing no kinds of ornaments on His body. He simply keeps a peacock feather on His forehead, and spends His time playing flutes and even accepts food remnants from His friends. Thus, the cowherd dynasty is known as a lower caste than the brahmana dynasty. And your ishtadeva, Lakshmi, she is a brahmani, so she is from a higher caste as the brahmana dynasty is higher than the cowherd dynasty.

“Knowing this, why does Lakshmi-devi desire to meet with Krishna, who belongs to a lower, cowherd dynasty? Another thing, Lakshmi has so much opulence in Vaikuntha, there, she is called the Queen of Vaikuntha. And she has so many maidservants with access to so many kinds of opulences found there. Why would she want to meet with Krishna to dance and sing with Him in the rasa dance?” In this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu laughed and joked with their family.

Afterwards, Prabodhananda Sarasvati, Vyenkatta Bhatta and Trimalla Bhatta asked Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, “Prabhu, why are You laughing and joking about our ishtadeva Lakshmi? Because our also shastras explain that there are no differences between Lord Narayana and Krishna.” 

According to the conceptions of our scriptures, there are no differences between Narayana and Krishna. The Lord is one, however, according to rasa-madhurya, He relishes many different rasas. For this reason, the same Krishna manifests in the form of Narayana in Vaikuntha. Thus, according to the tattva-vichara there are no differences between Narayana and Krishna. Is this not true? One person may have two different jobs, he is a lawyer at one and the other, he is a doctor. Whenever he goes to court, every one refers to him as a lawyer, and when he works at his clinic, every one there calls him doctor. Although this person is always the same person in each role, he dresses differently, according to each job. 

In conclusion this means that there is no difference between Narayana and Krishna. Still, according to rasa-vichara, the conception of mellows, Krishna is the highest. But this person is the same, the Lord is not a different person in each manifestation. This is why our shastras state, ‘eka brahma dvitīya nāsti’ – there is only one Brahma without a second. 

The Bhatta parivara used this reasoning to ask the Lord, “Why are you laughing and joking laughing with us? Because this means that Lakshmi-devi has not lost her chastity, she has so much nishtha with her husband Narayana. Why do you laugh and joke about our ishtadeva Lakshmi-devi in this way?”

Mahaprabhu replied, “Okay, this is a good question. The Lord is one, but according to His lilas, He has manifested into many forms: Vaikuntha Narayana, Ayodhya Ramachandra, Dvarakadhisha Krishna, Mathuradhisha Krishna and Vrajendra-nandana Shyamasundara.” 

In this way the Lord relishes many different kinds of mellows from the hearts of His devotees. Here we see the deity form of Lord Jagannatha, but who is Jagannatha? Jagannatha is non-different from Krishna, He is called Dvarakadhisha Krishna. And then there is also Mathuradhishа Krishna; the Lord manifests different forms while in Vrindavana, Mathura, Dvarаka, Ayodhya and Vaikuntha-dhama. 

In the same way, Srimati Radhika always remains in Goloka Vrindavana. She also manifested many forms in Vaikuntha, Ayodhya, Dvaraka and Mathura. Sri Radha Herself manifests in the form of Lakshmi-devi in Vaikuntha. And the same Sri Radha manifests in Ayodhya in the form of Sita-devi. Srimati Radhika also manifests in Dvaraka in the form of Satyabhama. This means that there are no differences between Srimati Radharani and Lakshmi.

Similar to Krishna’s many incarnations, Srimati Radhika manifests many kinds of incarnations as well. So now, Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada and other Bhatta parivara asked the Lord, “Prabhu, why are You joking and laughing with us while criticising our ishtadevi Lakshmi-devi? As we explained, Lakshmi-devi has nishtha for Lord Narayana and she did not lose her chastity as Lord Narayana is non-different than Krishna.”

“Okay, your answer is good, I accept it. However, I want to know why were the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads able to manifest their gopi forms? And after performing their hard austerities, they entered the rasa dance, yet Lakshmi-devi was unable to enter the rasa dance. Why?” asked Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

“Prabhu, we do not know why,” they answered. Mahaprabhu then said, “Listen very carefully. Once, Narada Rishi arrived in Vaikuntha-dhama. While there, Narada Rishi began very nicely glorifying Krishna’s rasa dance with the gopis— Krishna’s highest lila is His rasa-lila

jaya jaya ujjvala-rasa sarva-rasa-sāra

parakīyā-bhāve ĵāhā vrajete pracāra

Sri Vraja-dhama-mahimamrtita (10)

[All glories, all glories to the mellow of conjugal love, which is the most excellent of all rasas and is propagated in Vraja by Sri Krishna in the form of the divine parakiya-bhava (paramour love).]

In this way, Narada Rishi nicely glorified Krishna and the gopisrasa-lila in Vrindavana. After hearing this, so much greed arose in the heart of Lakshmi-devi. So she asked Narada Rishi, “Hey Rishi, tell me, how can I enter this rasa dance with the gopis in Vrindavana?” Narada Rishi answered, “If you want to enter the rasa dance in Vrindavana, it is actually an easy process. All you need to do is go to Vrindavana and perform hard austerities so Krishna will be pleased with you. Then perhaps Krishna will allow you to enter His rasa dance.” Following Narada Rishi’s instructions, Lakshmi-devi left Vaikuntha-dhama and went to Bhauma-Vrindavana to begin performing hard austerities.

If you visit Baelvana, you can still see Lakshmi-devi there with folded hands, seated while paying her obeisances and performing hard austerities. Vrindavana is a very hot place, especially during the summer season. It is not so easy to tolerate the heat in Vrindavana, especially when hot winds begin to blow.

Lakshmi-devi normally resides in Vaikuntha, which is a very nice, beautiful and opulent place, everywhere is air conditioned. And now, under harsh conditions, she is performing hard austerities in Vrindavana, which is also full of so much dust blowing around by many cows running about.

Despite all of this, Lakshmi-devi came and is performing hard austerities there. She gave up all of her sense gratification, bhoga-tyaga. While in Vrindavana she has no maidservant, no one is fanning her, offering her water, food or anything else. Because Lakshmi-devi is the Queen of Vaikuntha and when she resides in Vaikuntha, she has so many maidservants around her, rendering various services. However now, she has abandoned all of these opulences and is performing hard austerities in Baelvana, Vrindavana. 

Perhaps to sustain her life she is only taking some bael juice without any other kinds of food preparations. For many years in Vrindavana, Lakshmi-devi performed hard austerities in this way. Eventually, Krishna appeared in front of her and said, “Hey Lakshmi-devi, I am very pleased with you, ask for any benediction you want.”

Lakshmi-devi replied, “Hey Govinda, I just want to enter Your rasa dance as one of your gopis.” “It is impossible for you. You cannot enter in My rasa dance in Vrindavana as a gopi,” answered Krishna. Then, Lakshmi insisted, “No, no, I have to enter in your rasa dance in the form of a gopi.” So Krishna answered, “In order to enter My rasa dance, you have to follow some of My instructions. The first instruction is that you have to give up your ego of being a brahmani, give up your brahmani-abhimana.”

Krishna instructed this because Lakshmi-devi is very proud of her brahmanical activities, she thinks, “I am a brahmani, I am of the highest caste.” For this reason Krishna’s first order was, “First, you must give up your brahmani-abhimana, your brahmani ego.” After hearing Krishna's instructions Lakshmi-devi said, “How can I possibly give up my egoistic mood,  brahmani-abhimana?” “Not just this. Listen as there is one more condition. Second, you have to take birth in Vrindavana,” answered Krishna.

Now Lakshmi-devi asked, “How is it possible for me to take birth in Vrindavana? Vrindavana is full of dust, and my residence is Vaikuntha, which is always very neat and clean. How can I possibly take birth in a place like Vrindavana?” “Not only this. Listen, there are more instructions. Third, you must take birth in the womb of a gopi,” continued Krishna. Lakshmi-devi replied, “No, this is just impossible for me, I do not desire to take birth in the womb of any gopi.” Krishna proceeded to then say, “Not just this, keep listening as there are still more conditions. You also have to marry one gopa and with a paramour mood, parakiya-bhava, you will meet with Me.”

When she heard this Lakshmi-devi quickly answered, “This is impossible for me. I am a chaste lady. How will I possibly give up my husband Narayana to marry a gopa? I will go to hell.” Next, Krishna said, “Not just this, there are other conditions. You must associate with the gopis who are the nitya-parikaras like Radha, Lalita and Vishakha.” Lakshmi-devi asked, “How is this possible? They are simple cowherd girls and I am Rajarani, the Queen of Vaikuntha. How can I possibly associate with them?”

“Not just this, you have to give up your opulent queen’s clothing and ornaments and dress as an ordinary  gopi. And you must also perform regular gopi  household duties like making cow dung patties by hand,” said Krishna. When she heard this Lakshmi-devi responded, “How will I possibly patt cow dung with my bare hands, so much bad smell will come. I do not want to do this.” 

Finally Krishna told her, “You are not qualified to enter My rasa dance in the form of a gopi.” 

Despite her not being qualified for entry to the rasa dance, to this day Lakshmi-devi is still performing hard austerities in Baelvana. This is why Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told the  Bhatta parivara, “Despite Lakshmi-devi performing hard austerities there, she was unable to enter the rasa dance. Yet we see that the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads, like Gopala-tapani Upanishads, after they performed hard austerities in Vrindavana, they were allowed entry in the rasa dance.”

Why? Because the Vedas and Upanishads have followed all the rules and regulations of Vrindavana. However, we clearly see that Lakshmi-devi now does not want to follow any of the rules and regulations of Vraja. She desires to enter the rasa dance in the same Lakshmi form. Except this is just not a possibility. Another aspect is that Krishna always appears in a gopa  dynasty, the family of cowherders. And due to this, Krishna does not accept anyone born outside the gopa dynasty. This verse in Chaitanya-charitamrita very clearly explains: 

gopa-jāti kṛṣṇa, gopī — preyasī tāṅhāra

devī vā anya strī kṛṣṇa nā kare aṅgīkāra

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila 9.135)

[Lord Krishna belongs to the cowherd community, and the gopis are the dearmost lovers of Krishna. Although the wives of the denizens of the heavenly planets are most opulent within the material world, neither they nor any other women in the material universe can acquire Krishna’s association.]

In this way, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu established that Krishna’s topmost lila is His rasa-lila. Although it is confirmed that Krishna is one, it is also accepted that He has many incarnations. In His original form as Vrajendra-nandana Shyamasundara, Krishna has sixty four qualifications. However, one speciality of Vrajendra-nandana Shyamasundara is that He has four extraordinary qualifications. And these four extraordinary qualifications are not found in Lord Narayana, Lord Ramachandra or Dvarakadhisha Krishna. 

What are these four extra ordinary qualifications? Rupa-madhurya, the sweetness of His divine beauty. Lila-madhurya, the sweetness of His divine pastimes. Prema-madhurya, the sweetness of His divine love. And venu-madhurya, the sweetness from the divine sounds of His flute.

These four extraordinary qualifications are not found in any other incarnation of the Lord, not in Ayodhyapati Ramachandra, or Vaikuntha-Adipati Narayana, nor in anyone. Only Krishna possesses these four qualifications. In this way Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu glorified Krishna’s madhurya-lilas, sweet pastimes. Then Prabodhananda Sarasvatipada, Vyenkatta Bhatta and Trimalla Bhatta all asked, “How can we attain the lotus feet of Srimati Radhika and Vrajendra-nandana Shyamasundara?” 

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu responded, “You must worship Vrajendra-nandana Shyamasundara, abandon all kinds of activities, and perform your bhajana and sadhana under the guidance of vraja-gopis.” 

gopī-ānugatya vinā aiśvarya-jñāne

bhajileha nāhi pāya vrajendra-nandane

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila 8.230)

[Unless one follows in the footsteps of the gopis, he cannot attain the service of the lotus feet of Krishna, the son of Nanda Maharaja. If one is overcome by knowledge of the Lord’s opulence, he cannot attain the Lord’s lotus feet, even though he is engaged in devotional service.]

Without following the footsteps of the gopis one can not enter Vraja.

And what exactly does gopi-anugatya mean? That you have to do bhajana and sadhana under the guidance of vraja-gopis. This is very important. Now we have heard that Lakshmi-devi does not want to follow the instructions of the gopis, gopis-anugatya. Also she did not desire to take birth in Vrindavana in the womb of a gopi. Because without having gopi-deha, the form of gopi, one cannot enter the rasa dance. 

After hearing all of this from the Lord,  Prabodnananda Sarasvatipada, Trimalla Bhatta and Vyenkatta Bhatta minds completely changed and they stopped worshipping Lakshmi-Narayana and began worshipping the Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna.

So Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed them on how to attain the form of a gopi and how to perform their bhajana and sadhana in Goloka Vrindavana. 

During that time, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was just a very small boy, perhaps only five or six years old. Despite his young age, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami displayed so much attachment towards Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Every day, he massaged the lotus feet of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Mahaprabhu would be very pleased with Gopala Bhatta Gosvami and offered His own remnants to him. 

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu every day spoke very nice and beautiful narrations of Vrindavana’s lila-kathamrita. After four months, Mahaprabhu had to continue His travels. Then as a small boy, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami told Mahaprabhu, “I want to go with You.” Chaitanya Maharprabhu told him, “No Gopala, stay in your house and serve your parents, as your parents are Vaishnavas.”

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu instructed everyone: 

prabhu kahe, — “vaiṣṇava-sevā, nāma-saṅkīrtana

Chaitanya-charitamrita (Madhya-lila 16.70)

[The Lord replied, “You should engage yourself in the service of the servants of Krishna and always chant the holy name of Krishna.”]

Everyone must chant the holy names and serve the Vaishnavas. In this regard, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu told Gopal Bhatta Gosvami, “Your parents are Vaishnavas, so there is no need to abandon your house. However, when your parents depart this material world, you will go to Vrindavana to stay with Rupa and Sanatana and carry out your bhajana and sadhana there.” After this, Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left their village. Upon His departure, the young Gopala Bhatta Gosvami fainted from being unable to tolerate the separation from Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

So according to the instruction of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami served his parents, chanted the holy names and all of his mantras each day. After several years, his parents left their bodies. Gopala Bhatta Gosvami then left his house and proceeded on the path to Vrindavana. On the way, he arrived at Sarovara pond. As he was bathing in the river, a large shalagrama came onto his hand.

Then Gopala Bhatta Gosvami began worshipping that shalagrama-shila, all the while thinking, “This is the combined form of the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna.” There are actually many types of shalagrama-shilas. Hari-bhakti-vilasa mentions how each shalagrama-shila is marked with a sign, indicating whether it is a Narayana shila, a Damodara shila or a Narasimha shila.

On arriving in Vrindavana and taking up residence, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami began performing his bhajana and sadhana there under the guidance of Srila Rupa and Srila Sanatana Gosvami. He spent day and night chanting the holy names while feeling deep separation from Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. 

saṅkhyā-pūrvaka-nāma-gāna-natibhiḥ kālāvasānī-kṛtau

nidrāhāra-vihārakādi-vijitau cātyanta-dīnau ca yau

rādhā-kṛṣṇa-guṇa-smṛter madhurimānandena sammohitau

vande rūpa-sanātanau raghu-yugau śrī-jīva-gopālakau

Shad-gosvami-ashtaka (6)

[I offer my respectful obeisances unto the six Gosvamis, namely Sri Rupa Gosvami, Sri Sanatana Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha Bhatta Gosvami, Sri Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, Sri Jiva Gosvami, and Sri Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, who were engaged in chanting the holy names of the Lord and bowing down in a scheduled measurement. In this way they utilised their valuable lives and in executing these devotional activities they conquered over eating and sleeping and were always meek and humble enchanted by remembering the transcendental qualities of the Lord.]

Srinavasa Acharya composed this glorification of six Gosvamis called Shad-gosvami-ashataka. 

One day, as Gopala Bhatta Gosvami due to his direct association with the Gaurahari, felt pangs of separation from Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. For this reason, he was unable to forget the love and affection given by Mahaprabhu. One day he was thinking, “If my Thakuraji is the Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna, then I want to put nice clothes on Them and decorate Them very nicely. However, my Thakuraji is a shalagrama-shila, so how would I put any clothes on Them? My Thakuraji has no legs and no hands. They are in a round form.” Round like a rasagulla.

One midday, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami went out from his kutira to collect some madhukari from the Vrajavasis’ house. When he returned back to his bhajana-kutira, he noticed that his shalagrama-shila was now manifested in a splendid three-bend form, called tribhanga-lalita. And what is the name of this deity? Radha-Ramana. With such a lovely form, playing the flute with a smiling face. You can even see He has some teeth.

And on Radha-Ramana’s back, you can still see the original shalagrama-shila. You may ask, who is Radha-Ramana? Actually, the deity is non-different from Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. And who is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu? The combined form of the Divine Couple, Radha and Krishna. Understand? Sri Radha-Ramana ki Jaya! 

mero radha ramana giridhari

giridhari shyama banvari

In this way, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami very dedicatedly worshipped his Thakuraji, Radha-Ramana. Now Radha-Ramana is located in the Radha-Ramana temple in Vrindavana, where the Bhatta parivara would also worship that Thakuraji.

In our Gaudiya lineage there are three prominent deities: Govinda, Gopinatha and Madana-Mohana. Extraordinarily, Radha-Ramana is all three deities in one. Hence, if you take darshana to Radha-Ramana, that means you will attain the same results, or fruits, of taking darshana of all three deities, Govinda, Gopinatha and Madana-Mohana. 

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also composed many granthas. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu once instructed him, “You have to collect all shlokas on Vaishnava shuddha-sadachara.” These are verses on the proper behaviour of Vaishnavas. Following the Lord’s instructions, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami collected many shuddha-sadachara shlokas from Ramanujacharya Sampradaya and Sri Sampradaya. Furthermore, he also wrote the commentary on Krishna-karnamrita grantha, and he composed many other granthas. Once he had collected all the shlokas on shuddha-sadachara, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami gave all of them to Sanatana Gosvamipada. Then Sanatana Gosvamipada arranged those verses to manifest the grantha, Hari-bhakti-vilasa.

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami also manifested the grantha, Sat-kriya-sara-dipika, showing us how to perform fire sacrifices and different Vaishnava activities like the first grain ceremony, called annaprashana-samskara, and also for upanayana-samskaras. Many different samskaras are described in his Sat-kriya-sara-dipika grantha. 

While in Vraja, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami always remained absorbed in meditation of the  ashta-kaliya lilas of the Divine Couple, Radha-Krishna. He mostly performed his bhajana and sadhana in Vrindavana, especially in Sanketavana. If you go on Vrindavana parikrama, you will visit one place in between Varshana and Nandagaon called Sanketa Ishvari. There, Krishna plays His flute and all of the gopis rush to meet Him there to take part in the very beautiful rasa lila. In this same place, Gopala Bhatta Gosvami performed his bhajana and sadhana, and today, his samadhi is there.

Gopala Bhatta Gosvami’s transcendental, constitutional form, his siddha-deha, is none other than Guna Manjari, who is one of the very nearest and dearest sakhis of Srimati Radhika— Guna Manjari ki jaya

Gaura-premanande! Hari Haribol!

Jaya Gopala Bhatta Gosvami ki jaya!

Jaya Guna Manjari ki jaya!

Jaya jaya Sri Radhe!

Date: 30 July 2021 Location: Mexico


Transcriber: Sanatana dasa (USA) Editors: Sanatana dasa (USA) Integrity check: Divya-premamayi dasi (Slovakia) Proofreader: Chandrika dasi (UK) Photo: Navina-krishna dasa (Holland)

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