Vrindavan, 2014.11.23 (VT): Yesterday, I went to visit the Madan Mohan Temple with my daughter. After having darshan of Radha Madan Mohan, we went to meet Shri Sanatan Kishor Goswami (Panchu ji), the present Mahant of the temple.
We discussed the role of the Archaeological Survey of India in conserving the temples of Vrindavan. Goswamiji was sitting in his office. While discussing various issues related to Vrindavan, Goswamiji’s younger son Shri Ajay Kishor Goswami gave us two kulias with kheersa bhog. I thanked him for the kulia, and asked him if it was from Radha Raman temple. He said no, adding that it was from the temple we had been to visit.
We were so pleased to find the kulias and praised him for maintaining Vrindavan’s typical culture to give the khirsa prasad in this kind of container. We all agreed that this promotes the brand Vrindavan. Then I asked him if this were a recent tradition. At this point, Paanchuji interrupted and told us that there was a story behind this bhog.
Around two hundred years back, when Gopal Das Mukherjee was the temple pujari. One morning when he was doing Madan Mohan’s shringar, he found it difficult to put the deity’s turban on him. He couldn’t put the turban even in after several attempts. Annoyed by the difficulty, the pujari slapped Madan Mohan with his left hand and did not bother trying to put the turban on afterward.
That night Madan Mohan himself appeared to the then Mahant, Shri Chandra Das Goswami, and told him what had happened. He complained, “When Yashoda Maa dressed me up before I went off to gocharan (cow grazing), she would give me kheer or butter to eat. I was thinking of my mother’s love while the pujari was putting the turban. While remembering the mother I shook my head, which made it difficult for the pujari to put the turban.”
The next day, the mahant went to the temple to see if the turban had been put on the deity. He found that it was missing from Madan Mohan’s head. When interrogated about the missing pagri, the pujari said that the bhandari (the storehouse manager) had not been able to get a good turban from the market, and this one was too small. Then the Mahant asked him if he had slapped Madan Mohan and the pujari shamefully admitted his misdeed. So the Mahant immediately sacked the pujari after paying him off.
The pujari was so disappointed that he went to the Pushpanandan Ghat and began a hunger strike to the death, as he could not bear to live without serving Madan Mohan. With each passing day his condition deteriorated. All this was too much for Madan Mohan, who could not bear to see his devotee in trouble. He appeared again to the mahant in a dream and pleaded with him to re-employ the pujari. Madan Mohan excused the pujari’s offense as he had been in haste to perform his father’s shraddh ceremony that day.
When the pujari was asked about it, he admitted that he had been late for the shraddh and was in hurry and that is why he had been frustrated. Pujari was finally given his job back and the tradition to offer kulia after shringar was established in the temple.
The samadhi of the Pujari Shri Gopal Mukherjee is still there in the temple grounds.
Many similar stories are told about the deities of each of the Sapta Devalayas and the temples of the contemporary times. When narrated by the Acharyas, these stories seem to be as real as if happening just in front of us.