Lord Caitanya's Travels in Prayag, Part Two


Sri Veni Madhav
Veni Madhav Temple - Daraganj, Prayag

Mar 10, 2016 — CANADA (SUN) — A brief series on the places in Prayag (Allahabad) visited by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Veni Madhav Temple

During the period when Lord Chaitanya stayed at Prayag-sangam and instructed Srila Rupa Goswami, he also visited the Veni Madhav Temple. This is one of the most important Krishna temples in Allahabad. It is situated a few kilometers upstream from where Mahaprabhu met with Sri Rupa.

Veni Madhav Temple, also known as Bindu Madhava, is located in the center of the Daraganj, a landmark in the city of Allahabad. Daraganj is the oldest suburb along the Ganges in Prayag, close to the sangam. Triveni Sangam is the confluence of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the River Saraswati, which is currently not visible.

The bathing ghat at Daraganj is the last ghat on the Ganges before it joins the Yamuna. The word 'dharaganj' means 'the place of the stream' or 'current of water'. The name of the place is sometimes also associated with Dara Shikoh, the elder brother of Mughal King Aurangzeb, who was subsequently killed by the emperor in a power struggle for the throne. Dara Shikoh translated many of the Upanishads and Puranas into Persian, and is thought to have done his translation work at Daraganj. In 483 A.D., Emperor Akbar gave Prayag the name 'Ilahabad', or City of God, which translated to Allahabad.

Sri Veni Madhav

While staying at Prayag, Sri Chaitanya regularly engaged in kirtan at Veni Madhav Temple, which is the site of His lotus footprints, pictured in yesterday's segment. In Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 17, Srila Prabhupada gives further details of Lord Caitanya's pastimes at Veni Madhava temple:

    Madhya 17.149:

    'prayage' asiya prabhu kaila veni-snana
    'madhava' dekhiya preme kaila nrtya-gana

    "Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu then went to Prayaga, where He bathed at the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna. He then visited the temple of Veni Madhava and chanted and danced there in ecstatic love.

    The city of Prayaga is situated a few miles from the city of Allahabad. The name Prayaga is given due to successful sacrifices performed there. It is said, prakrsto yago yaga-phalam yasmat. If one performs sacrifices at Prayaga, he certainly gets immediate results without difficulty. Prayaga is also called Tirtharaja, the king of all places of pilgrimage. This holy place is situated on the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Yamuna. Every year a fair takes place there known as Magha-mela, and every twelve years a Kumbha-mela is also held. In any case, many people come to bathe there every year. During Magha-mela, people from the local district generally come, and during Kumbha-mela people come from all over India to live there and bathe in the Ganges and Yamuna. Whoever goes there immediately feels the place's spiritual influence. A fort located there was constructed by the emperor Akbar about five hundred years ago, and near the fort is a place called Triveni. On the other side of Prayaga is an old place known as Pratisthana-pura. It is also well known as Jhunsi. Many saintly people live there, and consequently it is very attractive from the spiritual point of view."

    (Caitanya-caritamrta Madhya 17.149)

Because Lord Brahma conducted the first (pra) ten yajnas (yag) at Dashaswamedh-ghata in Daraganj, Prayag-raj is considered the king of all pilgrimage centers. Lord Rama visited Prayag twice. His first stay was at Bharadwaj Ashram, which still exists near the University of Allahabad. Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana also visited the Vendi Madhav Temple during Their fourteen year long exile, and it was at Daraganj where Nishad, the king of boatsmen, helped them cross the Ganges. After killing Ravana, the pushpak viman carrying Lord Rama, Lakshman and Hanuman and the victorious army of monkeys and bears stopped over at Prayag again, where Lord Rama and Lakshman did prayashchit for having killed brahmanas. This occurred in the Treta Yuga.

Sri Veni Madhav
Photo: SatyajitDas84@Flikr

Veni Madhav of Prayag is also known as Veni Madho Bhagwan. There are twelve Madhos residing in Prayag, and among them, Veni Madhav is most prominent. In the Ramacharitamanasa of Tulsidas, Veni Madhav is mentioned as the King of Prayag. Tulsidas states that unless one gets darshan of Bhagwan Veni Madho, he will not get the full benefits of taking holy bath in the Ganga here.

Inside the Veni Madhav Temple, there are said to be many stories written on the walls about the glories of Veni Madho Bhagavan.


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