Updated: Jan 31, 2022
Madana Mohan and Sri Sanatana Goswami
It was a pleasant day. The gentle breeze, effervescent with the fresh blooms peeking out at the bright sunlit sky touched every soul of Brij Bhumi with a heavenly joy, reiterating that was the Nitya Leela Sthali of Priya and Pritam. Sanatana Goswami, immersed in chanting of the holy name, started out in his daily rounds of collecting Madhukari, begging alms. When he arrived in a small village in Mathura, his eyes fell upon two cheerful boys playing outside their home. As he drew closer, he saw one of them was slightly dark, radiating a brilliant shine and an irresistible smile. He was so attracted to the dark hued boy that without realizing it, his feet began following the children home. The children went in and the little boy vanished from his sight.
The next day, Sanatana Goswami found himself asking for Madhukari, alms, at the door of the same brahmin Chaube Ji. He was asked to enter inside their home and he stood there perplexed looking at their deity, Madan Mohan. It was the exact same smile, the exact same irresistible charm that had forced him to come begging at the same door again. Sanatana Goswami saw the brahmin’s wife cooking for the children and serving the deity alongside her son. The family treated their deity as one of their own and the children of the household played with Him as their friend. Sanatana Goswami felt uncomfortable and said, “O Mother! Tomorrow onwards bathe and cook for your children. You must follow the proper way of deity worship.” The next day, brahmin Chaube’s wife following Goswami’s instructions, went to take a bath in order to prepare bhog for the deity. It was getting late and the children became very hungry waiting for their food. That night Madanmohan appeared in Goswamiji’s dreams, “Gosain! You came here and taught our own mother the right way of cooking for us. We had never been so hungry before! Have you forgotten that we grew up stealing and eating the leftovers of the inhabitants of Brij?” Goswamiji, realizing what he had done, felt guilty and went to the brahmin’s door the next day. He went in and said to Chaube’s wife, “O Mother! You don’t have to take bath and clean yourself before cooking for your children. Now I have understood that you treat Madan Mohan ji as your own child. Please continue as you used to do before.”
As Sanatana walked out of their home, Madan Mohan came running and held his hand tightly, “Baba! I want to go with you. Please take me.”
Perplexed, Sanatana asked, “O little one! Why do you want to come with me?”
“I want to stay with you.”
Sanatana replied, “I am sorry. I cannot take you. Mother Yashoda couldn’t please you with milk, butter and the ghee of nine lakh cows. I am just a poor medicant. I beg for my food and live under trees. I roam from one place to another and have no fixed place to stay. I won’t be able to serve you properly.”
“Baba! Don’t worry about me. I will go with you and stay with you as your deity. I will be satisfied with whatever you offer me. I will never complain.”
The brahmin’s wife came and with tears in her eyes, said that that she had also dreamt about the wish of Madan Mohan to go with Goswamiji.
Sanatana brought Madan Mohan and made a place for Him at the Dvadasaditya Tila, beside his bhajan kutir, by the river Yamuna. He used to beg Madhukari, and make ‘Anga Kadi’ for the deity: Knead the wheat he received into a ball, put it in smoldering coal to cook and offer it to Madan Mohan along with a few leaves ‘saag’ that grew nearby. One day Madan Mohan said, “I don’t like what you offer me. Can’t you add a little salt and make it a bit tastier?”
“Who should I go to ask for salt?” Sanatana replied. “I had explained to you before that I cannot afford any luxury. You will have to arrange for that yourself.”
A few days later, a merchant’s boat got stuck in a sandbar in Yamuna near the Dwadasaditya hill. The owner, Krishnadas Kapoor was worried about the safety of his goods. He was approached by a small boy who led him to Sanatana Goswami. “Goswami ji is a great saint and might help you out,” the child said reassuringly. Krishnadas saw Sanatana Goswami immersed in bhajan, body lean from practicing austerity and renunciation, wearing only a loin cloth. He touched Goswamiji’s feet and said, “Baba! I need your help.”
Sanatana replied, “I am a beggar myself. I am in no position to help you.”
“I ask for your blessings. My boat is stuck in a sandbar in Yamuna and I need your help to free it.”
“I know nothing about it. Explain it to Madan Mohan.”
The merchant prostrated before the deity and prayed to rescue his boat.
That night, there was a storm and the level of water in Yamuna rose. The boat was free from the sandbar and started sailing down Yamuna. Krishnadas understood that it was possible because of the Lord’s mercy. So, he built a beautiful temple for Madan Mohan, made of sprakling red sand stone, on the banks of Yamuna in the Nagra style of architecture. It is one of the oldest temples, an impressive monument and a dominant feature of Vrindavan. ‘Anga Kadi’ is offered to the deity till date.
Madana Mohana means ‘the One who enchants even Cupid’. The deity was made by Sri Krishna’s grandson ‘Vajranabha’, following the instructions of Uttara. For many years it was lost and was founded by Advaita Acharya in Mahavan (Gokul) and worshipped under a banyan tree, Advaita Vat. He entrusted the deity to the brahmin Chaube in Mathura when he left for Navadwip. The deity was then worshipped by Sanatana Goswami. The temple's principal deity, Lord Madan Mohan is worshipped in the temple's central altar with his consort Radharani and Lalita sakhi on either side. When Aurangzeb invaded the temples of Mathura and Vrindavan, King Jai Singh secretly transferred the original deity of Madan Mohan to Jaipur overnight. Later, King Gopal Singh brought Him to Karauli. The Original deities are now enshrined at Madan Mohan Temple in Karauli, Rajasthan.
jayatam suratau pangor mama manda-mater gati
– Sri Krishnadasa Kaviraja in Chaitanya-Charitamrita.
Glory to the all-merciful Radha and Madan Mohan! I am ignorant and foolish and take refuge in Their lotus feet.
Madan Mohan Temple, taken from My Vrindavan Diaries.