A large temple with a spacious altar is located within the city of Navadvipa, not far from the Praudha-maya temple. The main Deity in him is Dhameshwara Mahaprabhu, Lord Caitanya, who extended his hands forward.
The deities of Sri Caitanya are of three kinds. The first - when His hands are raised - depicts His mood of devotion. This image inspires devotees to ask the Lord for mercy and surrender to Him. The second - when one hand is raised, the other is lowered. This is an image of a Mahaprabhu dance. The third - when two hands are lowered (as in this temple) - reflects the mood of the extraordinary generosity of the Lord, Audarya. The Lord as if asking a devotee to return, shows that he is ready to accept him: “Come to Me, I will give you love for Krishna!”
This beautiful Deity, made of wood by him, previously belonged to Vishnupriya, the wife of the Lord, who worshiped him after Caitanya Mahaprabhu accepted sannyasa. She began worship when she was only sixteen, and continued until she left (according to some reports, she lived to be ninety-six years old). Subsequently, the Deity passed on to the faithful servant of Vishnupriya, Vamsivadana Thakur, who is considered the embodiment of Krishna's flute. It was he who brought it here after the departure of his mistress. The altar also houses wooden sandals that Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu once wore. Opposite the altar, near the far wall, according to the Vedic tradition, the deity of Garuda is installed.
In Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura tells the short story of this Deity: “There is a very beautiful Deity Gauranga belonging to Vishnupriya, which in the future the brahmanas from the family of Jagannatha Misra will be transferred to Sattikara. Four hundred years after Lord Gauranga appeared in this world, worship of the Deity will again rise to the highest level. "
At the end of the twentieth century, the Navadvipa temple was restored by the efforts of the Bhaktivedanta Charity Trust.
The Navadvipa-dhama-mahatmya tells the story of how Lord Ramacandra revealed to his wife the secret of His coming appearance in the form of Sri Gauranga. He told her: “Separated from you, I will worship the golden Deity of Sita in Ayodhya [this happened after Rama returned to the throne and Sita went into exile, in the Valmiki Muni ashram]. And you, apart from Me [in the image of Gauranga] will worship My Deity and spread My glory. ” Srimati Vishnupriya, being the incarnation of Sita, experienced the brunt of these words of the Lord. In a mood of separation of eighty years, she served the Deity of Dhameshwara Mahaprabhu.
The first wife of Lord Caitanya was called Lakshmipriya. She left her body at the time Gauranga went on a trip to East Bengal, in 1502.
Sachimata often thought about how to marry Him a second time. Not far from them lived Sri Sanatana Misra, a pious and merciful brahmana, a devotee of Lord Visnu. For extensive knowledge, he received the title of Raj Pandita.
Sanatana Mishra had a daughter who was not inferior in her beauty and character to Lakshmidevi. As soon as Sachimata saw her, she decided that the best wife for her son could not be found. From childhood, the girl took bath in the Ganges two or three times a day, obeyed her parents and was not interested in anything except devotional service to Krsna. Encountering Shachimatu every day on the banks of the Ganges, she humbly bowed to her.
And Sachimata in response blessed her: "May Krishna give you a suitable husband."
One day, Sachimata called Kashinath Pandita and told him:
- I have one request for you. Go to Raja Pandita and say that if he wants, let him give the hand of his daughter to my son.
Kashinath went to the house of Sri Sanatana Misra and handed him the offer of Sachidevi. Raja Pandit spoke about everything to his wife and close relatives, and everyone unanimously agreed that there would be no better husband for Vishnupria.
Satisfied, Kashinath spoke in detail about everything Shachimata, and she sighed in relief and, without wasting time, began to prepare for the wedding.
Nimai's students were delighted at the upcoming wedding of his teacher. One of them, Buddhimanta Khan, was very rich and immediately suggested:
- I will pay all the costs!
The holiday was royal, and even the richest people of Navadvipa said among themselves that they had not seen a more luxurious wedding.
So Lord Caitanya married Vishnupriya. This happened in 1505.
Vishnupriya devi could not find a place, foreseeing the inevitable disaster. Taking evening prasadam, Lord Gauranga appeared in their room to rest a bit. Vishnupriya rushed to Him and sat at His lotus feet.
Her face was sad. Her tender hands, like two creepers clasped the feet of Mahaprabhu, which Vishnupri pressed to her heart. Tears flowed down her face and dripped on the sari covering her breasts and on Gauranga's feet.
The Lord got up on the bed and asked:
- Honey, why are you crying? What happened to you?!
He put Vishnupriya on his knees and, gently touching her tender face, spoke to her. Vishnupriya again sank to His feet and, clutching them firmly to her chest, shed tears, unable to utter a word. Without taking her eyes off her beloved face, she finally spoke, and her trembling gentle voice was interrupted endlessly by sobs and deep sighs.
\ - O Lord of my life and heart! I heard you are going to take sannyas, and this news has broken my heart. My whole life, wealth, beauty, clothes and jewelry, my views and gestures are only for You! If you leave me, what is all this worth?
I know nothing but Your lotus feet. Who are you leaving me for? Your mother, Saci, is old and weak. Can you leave her? What will you achieve by leaving Your dear devotees - Advaita, Srivasa, Murari and others? How do you get away from them and take sannyas? Do you really want to take sannyas because of me, a worthless being trying to keep You in the material world ?! If so, then let me take a last look at you and drink poison. And then you can happily stay at home. O Lord, I pray, do not leave. I have no one but You. When I look into Your face, my heart burns with a hot flame, foreseeing imminent separation.
Vishnupri was silent. Smiling softly, the Lord lifted his wife up and again put him on His lap. Desiring to somehow ease her grief, He joked:
\ - Who told you that I'm leaving home? After all, I always share my plans with you. Do not lament for no reason, and Gauranga gently kissed Vishnupriya.
So, in conversation, the night passed imperceptibly.
Dawn was approaching, and the burning pain in the heart of Vishnupriya did not abate.
Looking at Gauranga's beloved face, she laid His cool soft hands on her chest and said:
- Do not lie. I see that you want to trick me. You are the Supreme, no one can rule You. You can do as you wish. Take sannyasa if you want, but please only tell the truth. Are you going to take sannyas?
\ "Listen, love," Gauranga answered. - Sons, husbands, mother, father, man, woman - all these are temporary designations. Is there anything in the world closer and dearer to the heart of man than the lotus feet of Krsna? Everything that you see in this world is just a manifestation of His external energy. Do not regret what is not. Free yourself from all misgivings and devote yourself to the service of Lord Krishna.
Wanting to dispel all the sorrows and misconceptions of his beloved wife, Gauranga suddenly showed His four-armed appearance before Vishnupriya, but even after such a revelation, Vishnupriya continued to see in Gauranga her beloved husband, and not the Supreme Lord. She fell at His feet and burst into tears:
- Why should I suffer so cruelly?
Unable to endure these torments, Gauranga also cried. He again put his wife on his knees and said:
- Listen, Vishnupriya, do not think about where I will go. If you keep the memory of Me in your heart, if you always think of My lotus feet, you will not part with Me. I promise you that.
Vishnupriya thought for a moment and answered:
- My Lord, you are free to do as you wish. Who can resist you ?!
Gauranga did not answer. Vishnupriya lowered her head so that He would not see her tears. Gauranga, feeling that His heart was about to burst with compassion, spoke again. His voice sounded quietly, in him was heard such tenderness and love, which cannot be described in words ...
It was the last night that Lord Caitanya spent at home. The next morning, at dawn, He left.
Vishnupriya remained in Navadvipa with Sachimata, serving her humbly. In addition, she performed a severe austerity. Following a strict vow, she laid a grain of rice after each circle of japa she read. In the evening, Vishnupriya Devi cooked these grains, offered them to the Deity Mahaprabhu, and this was her only food. She served the Divine until her departure at 96 years old. Local devotees say that Vishnupriya is always with his spouse - she is personified by the nasal ornament of the Deity Dhameshwara Mahaprabhu.
The Bhakti-ratnakara describes what Mayapur became like after the departure of Srimati Vishnupriya Devi. The city is almost empty. Vaishnava communities flourished in Vrindavan and some other places, and Durga worshipers, saktas, reigned here.
In the Jaiva Dharma, Bhaktivinoda Thakur writes: “On the west bank, near the Ganges itself, is a small village called Kulia Paharpur. This famous village is located in the center of Coladvipa ... During the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, there lived one respected and influential person named Sri Madhava das Chattopadhyaya (he was also called Cha-kadi). Cha-kadi had a son named Srila Vamsivadanananda Thakur. Thanks to the grace of Lord Mahaprabhu, Sri Vamsivadanananda gained great fame and influence. Everyone considered him the embodiment of the flute of Lord Krishna and called Prabhu Vamsivadanananda. Everyone was well aware that Mother Vishnupriya showed great favor to Prabhu Vamsivadanananda. After the departure of Mother Vishnupriya, Vamsivadanananda took the Lord's Deity from Sri Mayapur and established Him in Kuliya Paharpur. When his descendants received the mercy of Mother Sri Jahnava and moved to Sripat-Baghanapur, the pujari living in Kuliya Grama, in Malancha, began to worship the Deity of Lord Mahaprabhu. ”
At that time, in Navadvipa, they began to forget about worshiping Lord Caitanya. In the house where He was born, there was no worship at all, and the Mahaprabhu Deity wandered from one house to another, constantly changing priests (all of them belonged to the descendants of Sanatana Mishra - the father of Vishnupriya). These priests were, as a rule, poor and could not build a permanent temple for Him. The service was extremely irregular.
In the second half of the 18th century, Maharaja Krishnachandra came to power - an ardent devotee of the Durga cult, who began to organize grandiose festivals in Durga-puja and Kali-puja in Navadvipa. At his court, caste brahmanas, learned pundits and saktas were very influential, and the Vaisnavas were in constant fear that they would take some decisive action against them and against the Deity established by Vishnupriya. As if in distress, there was a famine at that time. The caste brahmanas came to Krishnachandra Maharaja and told him that the reason for the hunger was that in Navadvipa, an ordinary person is worshiped as God, and this should be stopped immediately.
The priest who served Mahaprabhu at that time, dug an underground passage near his home and hid the Divine there. His location was kept a secret.
But soon a miracle happened.
Manipur King Bhagyachandra Singh had a dream.
Singh was subordinate to Krishnachandra, but was in alliance with the British (while Krishnachandra was subordinate to the Muslim ruler). He was a Gaudiya Vaishnava devotee in a chain of disciplic succession from Narottam das Thakur.
In a dream, Bhagyachandra saw the pandits from Navadvipa trying to convince King Krishnacandra to stop worshiping Lord Caitanya. King Manipur felt that he needed to go there immediately. And then someone's voice told him: "Prove that Caitanya is God." By divine command, Singh was to go to Navadvipa and restore Mahaprabhu's worship there.
Totarama dasa Babaji from Vrindavan also had a dream. Totar Babaji was a brahmana from South India. He came to Navadvipa to study logic, but soon abandoned his studies in science, accepted the lifestyle of a Vaisnava ascetic, and went to Vrindavan, where he lived for many years. In a dream, Sri Caitanya instructed him to go to Navadvipa and take care of the Deity, whom Vishnupriya once worshiped.
Totar Babaji came to Navadvipa and told Krishnachandra: “The local pundits say that Caitanyadeva is an ordinary person. I came here from Vrindavan to prove the opposite. Gather your pundits. ”
In the assembly of the court sages, which took place in the royal fortress, Totaram convincingly proved that the yuga-dharma for the age of Kali is a repetition of the holy name of Krsna, and Lord Caitanya is the yuga-avatar whose mission is to spread the name of Krsna throughout the earth.
The pundits could not stand such an onslaught and surrendered.
Soon Bhagyachandra Singh arrived in Navadvipu. He said to the ruler of Navadvipa:
- I want to rent a small piece of land.
But Krishnachandra, whom Totarama’s preaching made an indelible impression on, generously agreed to simply donate as much land to the king as needed. King Singh built a temple on this site and installed the Deity of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu in it.
But at about the same time, the priests who served the personal Deity of Vishnupriya, sensing that danger was over, removed Him from the ground. The devotees turned to the Manipur king and asked for his protection. The king generously placed his temple at the disposal of priests - descendants of Vamsivadana Thakura.
Since then, two Deities have been worshiped in this temple: the original, established by Vishnupriya, and the one that was established by the king - Anumahaprabhu. Through the efforts of Totaram das Babaji, the temple was subsequently expanded and rebuilt, and a regular worship order was established in it. There are records in Bengali dated 1785, which states that this land was donated to Totaram Babaji and is not subject to taxation.
Worship in the temple is still supported by priests from the Mishra clan (father of Srimati Vishnupriya). This obligation is inherited. Different families are responsible for worship at different times of the year.
Translated from dhama.dayalnitay.ru