Every inch of Vrindavan, the land of immortal love of Vrindavan Chandra Sri Krishna and his pleasure potency, hladini shakti, Shrimati Radharani is reminiscent of the glorious leelas of the divine couple. As we take a parikrama of the holy dham, we come across many places where the leelas took place. As we continue in our Vrindavan Parikrama, along the banks of the river Yamuna, a lone tamarind tree standing in the centre of a temple arrests our vision. The place entirely bespeaks the presence of Radharani and Krishnachandra. Imlitala means the shade of the tamarind tree. It is believed to be the same tamarind tree under which Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to meditate about five hundred years ago.
prāte vṛndāvane kailā 'cīra-ghāṭe' snāna
teṅtulī-talāte āsi' karilā viśrāma -18.75
kṛṣṇa-līlā-kālera sei vṛkṣa purātana
tāra tale piṅḍi-bāndhā parama-cikkaṇa – 18.76
nikaṭe yamunā vahe śītala samīra
vṛndāvana-śobhā dekhe yamunāra nīra – 18.77
- Chaitanya Charitamrita MadhyaLeela
After returning to Vrindavan and taking bath in Chirghat the following morning, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu went to the very old tamarind tree named Tentuli-tala. Tentuli-tala is believed to have witnessed the leelas of Radharani and Krishna around five thousand years ago. Caressed by the cool breeze of the river Yamuna, the platform beneath the tree shone as the sunlight hit it. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to sit there and watch the water of river Yamuna flowing by, reminiscing the name and leelas of the divine couple. A beautiful life size deity of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is placed under this tree now reminding us of his affinity with this place.
This tamarind tree was one of the favourite places of Krishna where he used to wait for Radharani. Mahabhishek of Shrimati Radharani was done under this tree. Once on Sharad Poornima, during the Maharaas, Radharani disappeared. Not finding Radharani, Krishna immediately started searching for her. He looked for her everywhere but couldn’t find her. Disheartened he sat down under this tamarind tree. Pining for his beloved, Krishna started chanting her name. Immersed in Radharani’s thoughts, he went into the mood of Radharani. Musing and meditating on Radharani, his body started changing colour, taking on the golden hue, radiating just like Radharani. At that instant, Radharani appeared on the same spot and was astonished seeing the transformation of Sri Krishna. She looked at Krishna quizzically and asked the reason. Krishna disclosed that the agony of separation became so intense that he assumed Radharani’s form, her complexion and her ecstatic love.
The love of the divine couple transcended the bodily existence. They became so absorbed in each other that they dissolved in each other becoming ‘ek pran do deh’ - one soul residing in two bodies. On seeing Radharani, Krishna got back his original ‘shyamsundar’ form and revealed that in Kali yuga he will appear as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in a golden hued form, his heart inundated in the ecstatic love of Radharani to spread this love throughout the world - Chanting the name of the Lord and reaching out to every living being soaking them in divine love.
A story written on a plate near the tree tells us that many years ago, one branch of this tree had grown over to the palace of the king of Tikamgarh. The king ordered the branch to be cut. After being cut, the tree started bleeding from that place for three days. One day Radharani’s feet fell on a ripened tamarind fruit and the red dye on her feet got wiped. After that incident, in the entire Brij 84 kosh area tamarind doesn’t get ripened.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu taught everyone to relish the nectar of chanting the names of the Lord through the sankirtana movement. When Mahaprabhu visited Vrindavan, Imlitala was one of the places closest to his heart. Sitting under this tree, chanting the name of Krishna in an ecstatic feeling of separation, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s body had also become ‘shyam varna’, the colour of Krishna’s body. It is believed that Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu along with Radha Gopinath Ji and Nitai-Gaur reside here till date.
Apart from being a divine destination that epitomises the unison of Sri Radha Rani and Sri Krishna, Imlitala Temple in Vrindavan is a peaceful place for meditation and chanting of the holy name of the divine couple. The devotees who wish to attain spiritual progress circumambulate this famous Kalpa Vriksa.
Imlitala on the banks of Yamuna
Image Courtesy: Shyama Mohanty