Gosvami temples in Vrndavana
The second day of the Braj Parikrama 2019 takes us around Vrndavana to visit the temples of the six gosvamis; Imli Tal, Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda & Sri Sri Radha Madan Mohan.
Written by Chandrashekar
Our much anticipated journey to Jaipur is only hours away. To prepare the mood, Kadamba Kanana Swami takes us for a visit to the Gosvāmī temples of Vṛndāvana. Vṛndāvana and Jaipur have a strong link. Centuries ago when Vṛndāvana was under attack by the Muslims, the Deities of the Gosvāmīs in Vṛndāvana were taken to Jaipur for safe-keeping. For this reason Jaipur is the same as Vṛndāvana, imbibing the same mood.
It’s a cool overcast morning in Vṛndāvana… a relief from the burning sun that we’ve been experiencing in the recent days. We begin our parikramā at the Kṛṣṇa Balarāma tree with a brisk walk to the iconic Rādhā Madana-mohana temple of Sanātana Gosvāmī. The temple, rich in history, is on top of a large hill in close proximity to the sacred Yamunā. Interesting to note is that Kṛṣṇa came to these very hills to dry up after the Kāliya pastime and the sun shone twelve times as bright to serve Him.
Kadamba Kanana Swami began his presentation with a meditative recitation of the Śrī Ṣaḍ-gosvāmy-aṣṭakam, eventually breaking into a heart-warming kīrtana which got the local Brijabāsīs dancing in ecstasy. It’s amazing how even though all of us in Vṛndāvana come from diverse backgrounds, each with our own language, we are all united in kīrtana.
We learned of the history of Madana-mohana temple. Previously, Advaita Ācārya first found the Madana-mohana Deity in Vṛndāvana and placed the Deity in the care of a brāhmaṇa in Mathurā. (Later, we visited the nearby Advaita-ghāṭa that commemorates the event). However, Sanātana Gosvāmī wasn’t happy with the brāhmaṇa’s standard of worship. One night the Deity appeared in both their dreams instructing them that He wished to go with Sanātana Gosvāmī. Sanātana Gosvāmī, being a renunciate, hung the Deity from a tree and fed Him wood-fired capātīs but the Deity requested a little salt.
Kadamba Kanana Swami mentions that Madana-mohana wanted salt because there’s not a moment when Kṛṣṇa is not enjoying. For us rooted in the material world it is inconceivable how someone can enjoy at every moment. However, this is the nature of the spiritual world; it is ecstatic at every moment. With this inherent enjoying spirit the Deity had asked for salt. Later, a shipwrecked captain approached the learned Sanātana for advice. Sanātana Gosvāmī told him to pray to Madana-mohana, and then pull in a certain direction. The grateful captain then built a temple for Madana-mohana. You can only guess what cargo the ship was carrying… SALT! In this way we can see how Kṛṣṇa has His hand in everything. We visited the samādhi of Sanātana Gosvāmī and his grantha-samādhi where the manuscripts of his books were kept, including the samādhis of Tapana Miśra and Candraśekhara Ācārya.
Our next stop was spontaneously Imlītala. A beautiful Gauḍīya Maṭha temple is built there around the sacred imli tree. It’s described that Lord Caitanya chanted under the imli tree, and due to love for Kṛṣṇa, became blackish. It’s also described that Lord Kṛṣṇa sat under the same tree and due to separation from Rādhārāṇī, became golden. Lord Caitanya’s love of God was sudīpta – a blazing fire that could not be controlled. In this way Lord Caitanya showed us what love of God really is. Imlītala is therefore a place of love of God.
Kadamba Kanana Swami concluded by highlighting that we’ve come to the dhāma to get inspiration to increase our practice. Here we find Kṛṣṇa and we understand that we are not alone – that’s the power of the holy dhāma. Alone we will never make it and we need Kṛṣṇa to help us. In this spirit, we circumambulated the imli tree in search of any dust that Lord Caitanya might have left behind.
We then entered the craziness of Loi Bazaar and stopped briefly at the super-crowded Rādhā-Dāmodara Temple. For a peaceful moment Mahārāja spontaneously stopped at the samādhi of Śyāmānanda Paṇḍita, the very place where he returned Rādhārāṇī’s ankle bell and received a special tilaka and name from Her.
Our last stop for the day was at the Rādhā Gokulānanda temple that stands like an oasis in the midst of the busy streets – serene and peaceful. On the altar are Deities installed by Lokanātha Gosvāmī and Śrīla Baladeva Vidyābhūṣaṇa and the personal govardhana-śilā of Lord Caitanya, still baring His own thumbprint. This temple is especially important to the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas since it houses the samādhis of Lokanātha Gosvāmī, Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura and Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura.
The songs we sing daily, namely the Gurvastakam and the Guru Vandanaṁ were composed by Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura and Śrīla Narottama dāsa Ṭhākura respectively. These songs are
central in our glorification and worship of the spiritual master.
“We don’t just mechanically bow down here,” said Mahārāja. “It is the devotional service of the ācāryas that allow us to serve. We bow with deep gratitude.”
After meeting many of the pratibhu (replica) Deities of the Gosvāmīs our day ended with eager anticipation to meet the original Deities of the Gosvāmīs that now reside in the hilly terrains of Jaipur. A journey that begins tomorrow.
Madana Mohan temple
Braja Parikrama 2019 Schedule
- 1st Nov – Govinda kund, Tribhuvanatha Samadhi, Nrsimha temple Puncari
- 2nd Nov – Gosvami Temples Vrindavana
- 3-5 Nov – Jaipur
- 6th Nov – Yavat, Vrindakund
- 7th Nov – Sanket, Anjanoka
- 8th Nov – Vrindavan Parikrama
- 9th Nov – Unchagaon
- 10th Nov – Rest
- 11th Nov – Krishna Kund, Prem sarovara, initiations
- 12th Nov – Garuda Govinda, Rama Tala