Vrindavan, 2017.11.13 (VT): Today devotees perform parikrama by walking along the Yamuna’s old riverbed. But in the old days when the Yamuna still flowed at the edge of Vrindavan town, the parikrama path was smaller. Parikrama was not just a circular walk, but involved visiting the ancient temples along the way. Come, let us begin our Vrindavan Parikrama and explore the old city of Vrindavan.
At the base of an old tamarind tree on the bank of the Yamuna, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu once sat to meditate on Shri Krishna. The name of this place is known as Imli Tala – “the foot of the tamarind tree”.
The old tree is said to be from Shri Krishna’s time, almost 5,000 years ago. Once Shri Radha was going to meet Krishna when she passed beneath this tree. She stepped on one of the ripe tamarind pods, which ruined her mahavar, the red designs that decorate her feet. Saddened that her seva for Shri Krishna was ruined by the tree, Radha pronounced a curse that tamarind fruits would never properly ripen in Braj.
According to another legend, once when Krishna was searching for Radha, he stopped to take rest here at Imli Tala. Weeping in separation, he became so absorbed in thoughts of her that he temporarily took on her golden color. This story is taken as a foreshadowing of Shri Chaitanya’s avatar.
Many years ago, someone tried to cut a branch of the old tree, which had overgrown the neighboring property. But as soon as the axe hit the branch, blood began to fall from the tree, spilling all over the ground at Imli Tala. The Brajwasis were shocked and from that day forward, no one was allowed to harm the tree in any way.
Today the old tree is no more; its vestiges are painted over and covered by a structure to keep it from disintegrating. But a new tree has been planted nearby. Under the tree is a small monument in honor of Shri Chaitanya’s coming, with a murti of him in a sitting position. Within the temple beautiful deities of Radha-Gopinath and Nitai-Gaur reside. The deities of Nitai-Gaur at Imli Tala are said to have been worshipped by Sri Sanatan Goswami himself.
In the present day, the temple is under the care of the Gaudiya Math, under the leadership of Shri Tamal Krishna Dasji. The temple walls are filled with colourful bas-relief depictions of Chaitanya Lila. (V)
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