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Gopi is a word of Sanskrit (गोपी) origin meaning 'cow-herd girl'. In Hinduism specifically the name gopi (sometimes gopika) is used more commonly to refer to the group of cow herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion (Bhakti) to Krishna as described in the stories of Bhagavata Purana and other Puranic literatures. Of this group, one gopi known as Radha (or Radhika) holds a place of particularly high reverence and importance in a number of religious traditions, especially within Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
The gopis of Vrindavan total one hundred and eight in number, Krishna charit describes the number as 16000, they are generally divided into three groups: Gopi friends of the same age as Krishna; maidservants; and gopi messengers. The first group are the most exalted, Krishna's contemporary gopi friends, the second group are the maidservants and are the next most exalted, and the gopi messengers come after them. The primary eight gopis are considered the foremost of Krishna's devotees after Srimati Radharani. Their names are as follows :
According to Hindu Vaishnava theology the stories concerning the gopis are said to exemplify Suddha-bhakti which is described as 'the highest form of unconditional love for God' (Krishna). Their spontaneous and unwavering devotion is described in depth in the later chapters of the Bhagavata Purana, within Krishna's Vrindavan pastimes and also in the stories of the sage Uddhava.
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