Mathura, 2018.03.20 (VT): On the third day of our Navdurga series of articles, we introduce you to a temple of Yogmaya in Mathura. This temple of Yogmaya, named Kankali Devi, is very close to Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple, and is on the main road, near Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple.
Kankali Devi Temple is one of the most prominent Devi temples in Mathura. Those devotees who are well versed about the history of Mathura and Krishna visit this temple after visiting Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple.
There used to be a mound here which was called Kanak Teela, and later came to be known as Kankali Teela. The mound was excavated by the Archeological Survey of India and, apart from relics of ancient Hindu temples and deities, items relating to Jainism and Buddhism were also found. The remains of several stupas and statues that were found can be seen in Mathura Museum.
Mathura was devastated by the invasion of Hunas in 5th Century. The deity of goddess Kankali was reinstalled after that period. Kamsas prison is believed to have covered this area, which is near to the Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi temple. The rock upon which Kamsa killed Shri Krishna’s younger siblings is believed to have turned into the mound that preserved some of the most important relics of Braj.
Kankali Devi is one of the forms of Goddess Shakti. The deity of the Divine Mother has eight hands and is sitting on a lion. According to the descriptions in the scriptures, Mahamaya has ten hands, whereas Yogamaya has eight hands.
The story of Kankali Devi is related to the birth of Lord Krishna. Mention of Kankali Devi can be found in several religious books, including the Vishnu Purana.
The Devi used to be called as Kans Kali in the past, but later on the name was distorted and devotees started to call her Kankali Devi.
According to our scriptures, the people of Mathura were suffering badly due to the injustices of King Kamsa, who was Devaki’s brother. A prophecy announced that the eighth child of Devaki would kill Kamsa.
After the celestial announcement that Kamsa will be killed by the eighth child of his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudev, Kamsa was terrified. He put his sister and brother-in-law in prison. Devaki repeatedly conceived and Kamsa killed all the newborns.
The seventh child, Balaram, was saved miraculously, and Krishna was born as the eight child. After Krishna took birth, Vasudev took him to Gokul to Nanda Baba and Yashoda Maya’s house where he exchanged the son with Yashoda’s new born daughter. Kamsa was surprised to see a girl in place of a newborn boy. He didn’t want to take any risks so he tried to kill the baby girl, by throwing her on a rock.
Presuming this baby to be Devaki’s eighth child, Kamsa was about to kill her by crashing her down on the ground, but the girl slipped out of his hands. Taking on her cosmic form, the eight handed Durga warned Kamsa, “The eighth child, who shall kill you, has already taken birth in Gokul.”
So, it seems that the Kankali Devi Temple is the actual place where Kamsa tried to kill Krishna’s sister and Devi showed her power to resist evil. Devotees come here to pray to Kankali Devi, who played a leading role in facilitating Shri Krishna’s pastimes in Braj.
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