Sri Krishna Temple, Udupi, is a very popular Temple in our country and it is the most visited Temple by me! Certainly over 150 times and perhaps very close to 200 times! While I was studying Bachelor of Engineering, 5-Year Course, at Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, from 1970 to 1975, it was our practice to visit Sri Krishna Temple at Udupi / Udipi, every Saturday. The Temple is under 7 kms. from Manipal. This practice was started and was there among my brother, Dr. Lakshminarsu and his friends who were my seniors at Manipal, studying Bachelor of Dental Surgery at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal. Every Saturday evening I used to go to my brother’s hostel and from there we used to go in a group to Udupi and visit Sri Krishna Temple and the nearby, very ancient Sri Anantheswara and Sri Chandramouleeshwara Temples. After the visit to the Temples we used to have heavy refreshments at Mitra Samaj hotel which is close to the Temple and sometimes at other popular eating places in Udupi like Diana restaurant. When I completed my III-Year Engineering, my brother completed his Graduation and left Manipal. And then I continued this practice of visiting Sri Krishna Temple every Saturday with my engineering college - junior, Alladi Raghu, who incidentally is my friend since childhood and my neighbor at Secunderabad.
After a gap of 43 years, I visited Sri Krishna Temple - Udupi with my wife few days ago, on the evening of 2nd April, 2018. We visited Sri Krishna Temple, Sri Anantheswara and Sri Chandramouleeshwara Temples and had good darshans of the presiding deities. However we could not go to Madhwa Sarovar or Madhwa Pushkarini as the entrance was closed; we could only view it from outside. We then went round the areas surrounding the Temples; we also visited the Kanakadasa Statue and viewed Sri Krishna Sanctum Sanctorum through Kanakadasa window. After all this we once again visited Sri Krishna Temple and explored the entire Temple Complex and Temples within. After a second darshan of Sri Krishna through the nine-holed sanctum window we sat in the Chandrasala Hall on whose wall is situated the Kanakadasa window, to witness Chamara seva. This hall overlooks the Silver-roofed, four pillared raised mandapam, with the traditional deepasthambam, carrying sacred oil lamp (which is lighted since the time of Madhwacharya) and just beyond it is the sanctum sanctorum. Several Rows of wick lamps are lighted inside the Temple on all sides. We were there for over an hour to witness Chamara seva by the Paryayam Swamier. Chamara Seva means fanning of the deities with two gold Chamaras - fine whisker fans. We saw the Paryayam Swamier performing this elaborate puja and mangalaharathi. The Swamier started the puja with the Chamara seva with two gold Chamaras to the Utsavavigraha of Sri Krishna and there was chanting of keeratanas/slokas and resounding Temple music. Two boys holding gold sticks (dandas) kept on waving green silk cloth on either side. Two huge baskets full of puffed rice, jaggery, coconut, laddus, betel leaves, etc., were offered for naivedhyam. Two big torches were lit on either side. A mangalarathi was raised first for the Lord, and then the same was raised to Sri Mukhyaprana, Sri Garuda and Sri Hanuman. Then Swamier went in to worship the God inside the sanctum. After all this we came out of the Temple and had refreshments at Mitra Samaj and then we watched the Temple Car Procession of Lord Krishna in his Temple Chariot on the wide Temple Street, around Sri Chandramouleeshwara and Sri Anantheswara Temples. I have recorded this grand and interesting procession. This video is attached to this article for your viewing pleasure.
The Krishna Temple and Matha was founded by the Vaishnavite saint Jagadguru Shri Madhwacharya in the 13th century. He was the founder of the Dvaita school of Vedanta. The idol of Sri Krishna was found by Sri Madhwacharya and consecrated here. It is a beautiful tiny idol of Balakrishna (Krishna as a small boy) holding a buttermilk churning rod in the right hand and the rope used for churning in the left hand. The idol is an ancient one from the times of Lord Krishna. This idol; giving darshan to countless devotees at Udupi is the same idol of Krishna worshipped by his beloved wife Rukmini.
Mother Yashodha had the great fortune of being with the prodigious divine child Krishna, though she was his foster mother. Yashodha could enjoy all the childish pranks and miracles of Krishna. But Krishna’s original mother Devaki, the one who had really given birth to Krishna, was denied all this pleasure, and she longed to enjoy Krishna’s Bala Leelaas (Little Krishna’s pranks and miracles). To honor his mother’s wish, Krishna assumed his childish form of Balakrishna again and demonstrated all his playful activities for her sake. While mother Devaki was overjoyed with this experience, Krishna’s dear wife Rukmini, who also had the good fortune of enjoying it, was just exhilarated. She requested Krishna, for an idol of Balakrishna, in the same childish form. The beloved husband entrusted the task of casting such an idol to Vishwakarma. The divine architect made a beautiful idol of child Krishna in the holy Saaligrama stone, for Rukmani to worship with all piety.
The Saaligrama idol, during worship at Dwaraka, got applied with fragrant sandalwood paste and gradually got totally covered by sandal paste in course of time. In the great deluge that followed after Krishna, the city of Dwaraka was consumed by the surging sea. Along with it the sandal covered idol too was washed away by the waves. Centuries passed and then the sandal block was accidentally found as a hard rock by a sailor in an island, who began using it as a weight to balance his ship. Once his ship was caught in a big storm in the sea beyond the west coast of South India, close to Udupi. Saint Sri Madhwacharya, who had come to the seashore for his prayers, saw the ship in deep trouble. He prayed to Lord Vishnu and signaled the ship to come safely to the shore by waving his garment.
A miracle happened. The raging storm subsided immediately and the sinking ship moved to the safety of the shore. The grateful sailor fell at the saint’s feet with tears in his eyes and requested him to accept something from his ship as a token of his gratitude. Sri Madhwacharya, who accepted to his request, was impressed with the sandal rock found in the ship and accepted it as a gift. On breaking open the sandal cover, the idol of Balakrishna began emerging from it bit by bit. The saint just could not believe his good fortune in finding his favorite God coming to him on his own.
His joy knew no bounds when he realized through his divine vision that the idol found was the one worshipped by Devi Rukmini. Overwhelmed, he carried the idol to his Math at Udupi some 4 kms. from the shore, singing in praise of the Lord. The mere touch from the holy hands of the saint was enough for the ancient idol to get bestowed with all the divine powers. It was installed and consecrated with due religious rites at Udupi.
The Lord was facing east when Sri Madhwacharya installed the idol originally. But something strange happened later. Kanakadasa, a devotee of Krishna, was denied entry into the temple through the main eastern entrance, as he was from a lower caste and hence denied darshan of his Lord. Driven to desperation, Kanakadasa moved to the western side and pressing his eyes against the 3 small openings on the western wall, prayed fervently to the Lord for his darshan. Just for this devotee’s sake, Balakrishna turned towards west and through the 9 holed window and the opening on the wall beyond, gave his darshan to baktha Kanakadasa. Since then all devotees are having Lord’s darshan through this window.
The Krishna temple at Udupi, also known as the Mathura of the South, is very beautiful. I am glad that I have a strong attachment with this ancient Temple, which I have visited close to 200 times in 70’s. Because of this attachment and the grace of Lord Krishna I got to have his darshan again after so many years, along with my wife.
May Lord Krishna bless us all.
At Sri Krishna Temple