Earlier this month, Madan Mohan temple celebrated their 515th anniversary. This mysterious temple is one of the iconic architectural monuments of Vrindavan, but, have you ever wondered, how many people go straight past it on the way to Banke Bihari, without considering that perhaps it might be worthwhile to climb up the small hill on which this historical temple stands?
Sanatan Goswami’s Madan Mohan deity is in Jaipur, it is true, but the temple’s service tradition continues unbroken. Aurangzeb made many attempts to destroy Madhan Mohan temple but was defeated every time. Sanatan Goswami’s bhajan kutir and Samadhi are on the grounds and the 70ft tila (hill) is a great vantage point for Yamuna darshan.
Madan Mohan temple is one of the few protected monuments in Vrindavan. The temple roof is of a similar design to the Yugal Kishore temple near Keshi Ghat, but Madan Mohan temple was built almost 100 years before Yugal Kishore temple. Madhan Mohan temple was built in the 1500’s and Yugal Kishore temple was build in the early 1600’s. Both have a distinctively tall, red sandstone shikhara (roof tower) decorated by vertical lines and rings, with a prominent amalaka (circular design) at the top. Keshi Ghat was built in the 1700’s and also has a similarly designed temple tower.
The story of Madan Mohan starts from the Yamuna. Legend has it that Mrs Chaube was taking her morning bath in the Yamuna when she saw a small boy playing closeby. She called out to him but he didn’t answer. She went over to him and picked him up, carrying him home. Madan Mohan told her that he will stay with her, but, if she ever tells him to get out of the house, he will leave forever.
So the family lived happily for many years, but the small boy was mischievous and would steal butter from the neighbour’s houses. The people of Mathura would complain to Mrs Chaube and, one day, after receiving many complaints, Mrs Chaube angrily told Madan Mohan to get out of the house. Sanatan Goswami was passing by the house at that very time and Madhan Mohan stopped him and asked to accompany him.
Sanatan Goswami agreed, on the condition that the boy would accept whatever food was given to him and would not mind where he slept because Sanatan Goswami was a living as a mendicant and so had no luxurious accommodations. Madan Mohan agreed, so, Sanatan Goswami brought him to Vrindavan.
They started living on the hill where Madan Mohan temple now stands. Sanatan Goswami would ask for flour from the townsfolk, mix it with Yamuna water and make rotis for Madan Mohan then eat the same, plain rotis every day.
One day, Madan Mohan said that he wanted some salt with his rotis and Sanatan Goswami became angry. At that time, a merchant named Ramdas was travelling from Delhi to Agra via the Yamuna carrying fruit and salt. Mysteriously, his boat got stuck when it reached Vrindavan and Ramdas saw Sanatan Goswami and Madan Mohan on the hill.
Madan Mohan said that he would help Ramdas to dislodge the boat and asked what he would get in return. Ramdas said that the goods he was carrying were water damaged, so he had nothing to give, to which Madan Mohan replied that Ramdas should check the boat again.
Ramdas saw that his boat was filled with precious jewels and he readily agreed to use some of this wealth to build temples. As well as Madan Mohan temple, Ramdas also built Madaneshwar Mahadev temple, Shetala Devi temple, Surya Temple and Surya Ghat.
According to temple history, Madan Mohan said that he wanted to enjoy an abhishek and, while the abhishek was underway, he turned into a deity.
Madan Mohan is also known as Chatore Madan Mohan. The temple pujaris say that he got this name because he demands a different dish every day!
Madan Mohan ki jai! Yamuna Maharani ki Jai!