Mathura

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Significance of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa

Rāma and Kṛṣṇa have deeply influenced the psyche of people over the last five or six millennia. No aspect or field of life have been left untouched by their influence. Philosophy, religion, fine-arts, architecture, sculpture, literature, music, dancing, drama practically every field of life holds their impress. Hence, the places closely associated with them became holy places or places of pilgrimage in course of time.

Religious Significance of Mathurā

Mathurā is a small town located on the west bank of the river Yamunā in Uttar Pradesh. It has been very closely associated with Lord Kṛṣṇa’s boyhood days. Hence, Mathurā and the area spread over 32 kms.[1] around it is known as Vrajabhumi or Vrajamaṇḍala. It has been considered as extremely sacred. There are several temples connected with the Kṛṣṇa-sect here.

Historical Significance of Mathurā

Mathurā is a very ancient city established by Satrughna, the younger brother of Srī Rāma. He is said to have killed Lavaṇāsura[2] and remodeled the old capital Madhupura into Mathurā. Archaeological findings at the sites near Mathurā have revealed that the township must have existed even around 1000 B. C.

Dvārakādhīśa Temple

The temple of Dvārakādhīśa is the biggest of all the temples. Here worship is conducted as per the traditions set up by Vallabha.[3] Śrikṛṣṇa Janmāṣṭami, birthday of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, is celebrated here on a grand scale.

The other temples are:

  1. Trivikrama-nārāyaṇa-mandira
  2. Vijayagovinda-mandira
  3. Temple of Keśava

Patrakuṇḍa, Mahāvana & Baladeva

Patrakuṇḍa is a well near this temple. It is said to be the place where baby Kṛṣṇa’s clothes used to be washed. Mahāvana or Mahāban is 14 kms.[4] away from Patrakunda. Baladeva is a distance of 8 kms.[5] from Mahāvana. All these three places are visited by the pilgrims.

Vanayātrā

Vanayātrā means perambulation of Mathurā. It starts from the place called Viśrāmghāt. The Govardhana hillock which Kṛṣṇa as a child of seven years is said to have lifted up and held as an umbrella over the head to protect the villagers from the torrential rain caused by Indra, is at a distance of 26 kms.[6] from Mathurā. There is a small village nearby, which has two small tanks named as Rādhākuṇda and Kṛṣṇakuṇḍa.

Vṛndāban

It is an another major place of pilgrimage. It is situated at a distance of 11 kms. (7 miles) from Mathurā. There are many important temples associated with Kṛṣṇa here. Taking bath in the Yamunā river on the Yamadvitīyā or Bhrātṛdvitīyā day[7] is considered as extremely meritorious. It is a belief that people who bathe in this do not to go to Yamaloka or Abode of Yama.

Vrajamaṇḍala

As already indicated, the entire Mathurā-Vṛndāban region is known as ‘Vrajamaṇḍala.’ Holikāgītas, a special kind of devotional music is peculiar to this region. There are many facilities for the pilgrims like dharmaśālas.[8]

Ghāts

There are at least 25 bathing places on the banks of the river Yamunā known as ‘ghāts’ like:

  1. Viśrāmghāt
  2. Dhruvaghāṭ
  3. Kṛṣṇagaṅgāghāṭ
  4. Asīkuṇḍaghāṭ
  5. Etc.

References

  1. It is approximately 20 miles.
  2. He was the son of the demon Madhu.
  3. He lived in A. D. 1473-1531.
  4. It is approximately 9 miles.
  5. It is approximately 5 miles.
  6. It is approximately 16 miles.
  7. It is the 2nd day of the bright half of the month of Kārttika, Kārttika-śukla-dvitīyā.
  8. Dharmaśālas are the free guest houses or with very nominal charges.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

References

  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore