What Makes THIS Shreenathji Temple So Special?

Forty-eight kilometers from the City of Lakes in Rajasthan, nestled in the lap of the Aravalli Hills lies a small temple town called Nathdwara. Located on the banks of the Banas river, the little city has garnered a reputation for being the spiritual seat of none other than Lord Krishna. What is remarkable is the fact that the Mathura-born deity is worshipped in the form of a child-god here–known as Shrinathji–forever reliving his boyhood days. The worship, therefore, is far from the usual ritualised veneration found in most temples and instead, the darshan takes on an aspect of performance. 

The name of the town means Gate of God, and the locale itself is also sometimes referred to as Shrinathji, clearly indicating that the temple acts as a nucleus for the goings-on and daily lives of denizens. This is unsurprising, as the sacred activities within the place of worship create an environment so spiritually charged – it is as if the child-god lives, plays, interacts with and watches over the people of this beloved city. The townspeople, therefore, mould their schedules to the calendar of darshan so as to ensure that Lord Krishna enjoys his sojourn.

Visitors are only allowed into the sanctum sanctorum at certain times during the day to have a glimpse of the deity. He is not to be disturbed at other times and is given plenty of time to play and rest, just like any other seven-year-old. According to legend, Yashoda, like all concerned mothers, charted out a timetable for the Gopis to visit Krishna at their home, so that they would not crowd the poor child throughout the day. It is this custom that inspired Shri Vallabhacharya, founder of the Pushtimarg devotional sect to formulate a schedule for the worship of Shrinathji in his various temples, the primary of which is at Nathdwara.

  

Mangala Darshan: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara
 Mangala Darshan

 

Shrinathji is subject to darshan eight times a day. The first, called Mangala, takes place in the morning and acts as a gentle alarm for Lord Krishna as he is awoken to the soft, melodic sound of conches. In the summer, he is woken up later than usual as he is tired from playing with his friends in the heat. During winters, as the days are shorter, he goes to bed earlier and so is required to wake up at an early hour as well. He is bundled up in a blanket and warmed by a brazier, showing only his face to the devotees.

 

Shringar Aarti: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara

 Shringar Aarti

 

An hour after Mangala Darshan, it is time for the Shringar Aarti where Shrinathji is adorned in silks and ornaments, dressed and made ready for the day. He does not repeat an attire in the same year, as an outfit calendar for the child-god was set about 500 years ago and is followed to this day. These sweet and whimsical traditions keep the spirit of Balgopal alive in the hearts of all devotees, enabling them to experience divine transcendence that lies in different forms of loving god, such as the maternal. Shrinathji admires himself in a gold mirror held up for him after Shringar, and the reflection of the lord complete with his mellifluous flute is said to be one of the most iconic moments of worship.

 

Gwal Darshan: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara
Gwal Darshan

 

The Gwal Darshan is next in line, and is sometimes not open to visitors. Krishna takes up his traditional vocation of cow herding and leads his flocks for grazing.

 

Rajbhog: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara
Rajbhog

 

Once he has returned to his holy abode after some time out in the fields, the Rajbhog is offered to him. He is decorated with a flower garland, and partakes in a royal luncheon. As Shrinathji is only a child, spice is not added to his food, and most of the dishes are sweet. After the grand meal, he is justly tired from the rich cuisine and retires for a long afternoon siesta, during which time the temple remains closed.

 

Utthapan: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara
Utthapan

 

Shrinathji is woken up from his nap with the musical strains of the veena, played during Utthapan. The little boy is still woolly from sleep and ergo, the temple maintains a peaceful and calm atmosphere.

 

Bhog: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara
Bhog

 

This is followed by the Bhog, after which comes the Sandhya Aarti, where Yashoda conducts puja for her precious child. 

 

Sandhya Aarti: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara
Sandhya Aarti

 

Lord Krishna’s long day of work, frolic and mischief comes to a close with the Shayan Darshan. This involves a lullaby being sung to the heavy-eyed youngling. A luxuriant carpet leads to his room, where a gold bed has been prepared for divine sleep. Radha’s adornments are also left here so that she may join him. The grand gates of the audience chamber are now left open, as all caretakers are finally carefree! The little lord is asleep and will not try to run away. Along with Shrinathji, all of Nathdwara winds down for the night. Peace and quiet settle in the town, save for the tranquil babble of the Banas river.

 

Shayan: Shreenath ji at Nathdwara
Shayan

 

References

https://www.dollsofindia.com/library/shrinathji/

http://www.nathdwara.in/history.php

https://mahaprasada.home.blog/2020/10/06/shrinathji-the-living-child-of-nathdwara-rajasthan/

https://www.india.com/travel/articles/nathdwara-doorway-to-a-boy-god-3241587/

References

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