Across the banks of the Yamuna from Vishram Ghat, at Visanganja, is a temple that pays homage to the great saints of Braj: From Durvasa Rishi who was a strict follower of austerities; to the gopis who brought food for him from across the Yamuna; to Gadi Baba, a great saint who achieved liberation through performing austerities at the temple – Durvasa Ashram reminds us of the lilas of the great saints of Braj.
Statue of Durvasa Muni at Gadi Baba’s Samadhi, P.C.
While it is possible to reach the ashram by car, many like to make trip by taking a boat ride across the Yamuna. The tradition of crossing the Yamuna to reach Durvasa Muni goes back 5000 years, to when the gopis asked Krishna to help them cross the Yamuna so that they could take food to Durvasa Muni. Sri Krishna advised the gopis to bow to Yamuma Mata and ask for passage. On the way back, Durvasa Muni gave the same advice and Yamuna Maya once again stopped the flow of her waters to allow the gopis to pass.
Yesterday, hundreds of Mathura residents, villagers and tourists, danced and sang (see video) on the auspicious occasion of Vasant Panchami (spring festival). The temple has deities of Durvasa Rishi, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, SriSri Radha Krishna and Srimati Yamuna Devi and is also home to Gadi Baba’s Samadhi. Yesterday, the deities were beautifully decorated with flower garlands and the air was filled with bhajans and the chanting of vedic mantras.
Durvasa Muni is best known for the altercation he had with Ambarish Maharaj. Durvasa muni arrived as a guest at Maharaj’s house and but refused to take food before having a bath in Yamuna. The time for Maharaj Ambarish to break his Ekadashi fast was approaching, so he took a sip of water. This greatly angered Durvasa Muni who felt insulted that his host did not wait for him. Sri Vishnu sent his sudarshan chakra to protect Maharaj Ambarish and when Durvasa Muni begged him to call it off, Sri Vishnu said that only Maharaj Ambarish could make the chakra stop, so Durvasa muni was forced to humbly apologize to Maharaj Ambarish, imparting a powerful lesson to all that Vishnu’s love of his devotee knows no bounds.
Durvasa Muni is said to be plenary incarnation of Lord Shiva, which explains his propensity to be easily pleased and easily angered. It is said that he bestowed the bendiction on Radha Rani that, whatever she cooked would be sweeter than nectar. He was a devotee of Lord Shiva and a sage of great power who could travel to the Vaikuntha planets.