Significance Of Chandan Yatra – On the auspicious third day of the waxing moon in the month of Vaishaka, the festival of akshay tritiya, which is said to bestow all auspiciousness on any undertaking being started on this day, is observed all over India, to commemorate various pastimes of the lord. This day also marks the beginning of Chandan yatra, in which the lord is smeared with sandalwood paste due to the scorching heat of the summer season. In this blog we will discuss the significance of Chandan Yatra
Glories of Madhavendra Puri – Introduction
650 years back, there was a devotee of Lord Krishna named Madhavendra Puri. He always used to chant the name of Krishna and never begged for food. If someone of their own accord gave him anything he used to accept otherwise he used to fast. Usually mendicants beg in holy places like Jagannath Puri and Vrindavan in order to sustain themselves. He used to meditate on the shloka :
ayi dīna-dayārdra nātha he
dayita bhrāmyati kiṁ karomy aha
(Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 4.197)
This shloka was spoken by Srimati Radharani when Krishna did not return to Vraja. She is telling Krishna that how come He is not returning to Vraja since He always kept his promises to everyone. In His absence, Srimati Radharani is telling that her mind has become unsteady. What should she do? So Madhavendra Puri was always in that mood. In Kaliyuga for the first time, some devotee brought the mood of Srimati Radharani on earth. At that time, most of the sannyasis and godmen were impersonalists and no one was interested in bhakti.
Gopal Ji’s Appearance
Once Madhavendra Puri was sitting in Vrindavan near Govind kunda and doing his bhajana. Suddenly, a small boy came with a pot full of milk and offered it to him. He said that he has brought it because Madhvendra Puri had not eaten since morning. Madhavendra Puri was extremely attracted to the boy’s beauty. And he asked the boy how he knew that he had not eaten for the whole day. So, the boy replied that no one goes hungry in his village and that his mothers had observed for a long time that he was just chanting there without eating. The boy said that he would come again later to take the pot back and left that place.
Sripad Madhavendra Puri was continuously thinking of the boy’s beauty. As he drank the milk, he felt it to be like nectar. He waited for the whole day for that boy to come and night fell. While waiting, Madhavendra Puri fell asleep and the boy came in his dream telling him that he was waiting for him for a long time. Due to fear of the king’s attack, some brahmana had buried him in a bush nearby. He requested Madhavendra Puri to rescue him. As he woke up, he realized that the boy must be Krishna. He asked the villagers to dig that particular place, as shown in his dream. Then the excavation was done and Madhavendra Puri recovered the deity of Krishna from there. He established the deity on the Govardhan hill and named him Gopal as per the name he had been told in the dream. And then he asked the Brahmanas to cook varieties of foodstuffs for Gopal.
Annakuta Festival Celebration
As the people came to know about Gopal ji’s appearance, they came with all necessary grocery and a massive godown of food items was created. Then Gopal was offered a huge feast. An annakuta celebration happened with small mountains of rice and other preparations. Madhavendra Puri fed the prasadam to all the villagers. Madhavendra Puri did not have a single penny with him, he always used to chant Krishna’s name and Krishna engaged him in such a great service.
GopalJi’s instruction to Madhavendra Puri
After some time, Gopal came in Madhavendra Puri’s dream again. The Lord said that as he had been lying in the bush for a long time, he is feeling lot of heat. So he wanted him to smear chandan(sandalwood paste) on his body and that the chandan should be brought from the Malay mountain near Jagnanath Puri. Madhavendra Puri pada thought that who would take care of the deity in his absence and by divine arrangement, two sannyasis came from Bengal for this service. Assigning them all the services, Madhvendra Puri left for his long journey.
History of Kheerchora Gopinath
On the way, he halted at a village called Remuna near Baleshwar in Orissa. Remuna is known as the hidden Vrindavana. In Remuna, there was a king called Langula Narsimhadev who wanted to extend his kingdom towards Chitrakut. While returning from his conquest, he had a dream in which Gopinath told him that he was lying nearby and wanted to be taken with him. This deity was carved by Lord Rama on a single piece of stone. When Mother Sita asked him what he was doing, he said that he was carving himself to preach Navadha bhakti to all in future. The king found the deity and after travelling for the day his entourage rested in the night. The next day, when Gopinath was to be taken, he could not be moved. So the king installed him there itself, and that place came to be known as Remuna. So in Remuna, when Madhavendra Puri reached, the offering of amrita keli(sweet bhoga offered to Gopinath) was happening. Madhavendra Puri thought that if he could know the preparation of the dish he could make the same for his Gopal deity.
Gopinath steels Kheer for Madhvendra Puri
But, he soon realized that the preparation had yet not been offered to Gopinath, and he felt he had committed an offense of thinking about the preparation before offering. Thus repenting, he left the temple without speaking to anyone. In the temple, Gopinath appeared in the dream of the pujari at midnight and told him that he had hidden one pot of the amrita-keli offering to be given to his devotee, Madhavendra Puri. The pujari woke up, took his bath and then entered the deity room. He was surprised to find the hidden amrita-keli pot and as instructed went to the marketplace and called out loudly for Madhavendra Puri. He called out loudly ‘ Madhvendra Puri kaun hai, kaun hai Madhvendra Puri. Gopinath ne unke liye prasad bheja hai’
A devotee and the Lord are transcendentally related and only they understand that. Madhavendra Puri then appeared there and accepted the transcendental prasadam. The pujari then offered him prostrated obeisances many many times knowing that he is such an exalted devotee for whom Gopinath stole kheer. Then the pujari left and as Madhavendra Puri honoured the amrita keli, he became filled with transcendental ecstasy. Then Madhavendra Puri fearing that the pujari would tell it to everyone, left Remuna for Jagannath Puri in the night itself.
Grand-Welcome of Madhavendra Puri at Puri
Madhavendra Puri broke the pot and used to eat the pieces one by one daily. Ordinary people are always eager to get fame and appreciation but Madhavendra Puri was not running after fame, rather fame was running after him. And the news of the incident reached Puri even before Madhavendra Puri reached there. He was given a grand welcome at Puri and the chandan and camphor along with its transport arrangement was already done. After darshan of Jagannath, Baladev and Shubdra, Madhavendra was escorted by a person to take the chandan and camphor back to Vrindavana. Madhavendra Puri thus became the nimitta(instrument) and the Lord enacted everything through him.
Madhavendra Puri stays at Remuna
On his return journey, as Madhavendra Puri reached Remuna, the Lord appeared in his dream and told him that Gopinath and Gopal were one and the same. So he should smear chandan on the body of Gopinath and Gopal would feel the effect in Vrindavana. Then Madhavendra Puri arranged for chandan to be smeared on Gopinath’s deity and a big annakuta celebration happened. So Madhavendra Puri stayed in Remuna and his final pastimes happened there. So this is Chandan Yatra.
At Radha Madan Mohan temple also, the Lord is applied chandan and brought to the Narendra Sarovar for a boat ride to give him relief from the heat by the cool breeze.
Normally people do it for one day but in Iskcon temples, it is done for all 21 days. So Madhavendra Puri started it and this culture is being followed in all Vaishnava temples till date. This pastime was also narrated by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Nityananda Prabhu, Jagadananda Pandit, Mukund and Damodara Pandit at Remuna. Sripad Madhavendra Puri was accepted by Lord Chaitanya as his grand spiritual master as he took initiation from Ishwar Puri, a disciple of Madhvendra Puri.