iskcon temple


By Acarya dasa (All India Padayatra leader)

Kanai Natashala in West Bengal is hugely significant through its connection with Sri Radha-Krishna and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. According to local tradition, it is considered to be gupta Vrindavan – a hidden replica of Krishna’s holy land. There is no difference between Vrindavan and this place.

Lord Krishna performs many pastimes in Vraja dham with Radharani, Nanda baba, Yashoda maiya and the gopis. But when Radharani wants to be alone with Krishna to relish His sweetness and intimacy, She comes to Kanai Natashala. That’s why Radha and Krishna left Vrindavan and came here to do Antaranga-lila (relate familiarly). It is the seedling place of sankirtan.

When Mahaprabhu was in Gaya, a sanctified city in Bihar, He received initiation into the Gopala mantra, which is chanted to worship Krishna. He then wanted to visit Vrindavan to search for Radha-Krishna. One day sitting in a solitary place meditating on His ten-syllable mantra He directly saw the Lord of His heart. After some time, He regained external consciousness, shed tears, and called for Krishna: “O my dear Krishna! O Hari, my life and soul! Where did you go after stealing my heart? I saw you my Lord, but now where have you gone?”

Sri Chaitanya then told His students to return to Navadvipa and said, “I will not return to my material life there. I must go to Vrindavan where I will see the Lord of my life, Sri Krishna.”

After travelling awhile, the Lord heard a voice from the sky – a representative of the demigods – saying, “O crest-jewel of the twice-born, do not go to Vrindavan now. You will certainly go when the appropriate time comes. Now just return to your house in Navadvipa. You are the Lord of the spiritual world and have appeared with your associates to deliver the people of the world. Please start your movement of congregational chanting. When you distribute the wealth of ecstatic love of God, your chanting will inundate innumerable universes. We are your servants, and thus we offer this reminder at your lotus feet.”

Mahaprabhu continued on the return journey to Navadvipa. Crossing the Ganges on the way He went to Kanai Natashala. It was this encounter with the hidden Vrindavan that shaped Him and impelled Him to start His sankirtan movement. Before visiting Kanai Natashala, He had played the role of a scholar, but after being here He adopted the role of a devotee with an extraordinary devotion never before seen. Returning home, He started the sankirtan movement in the mood of searching for Krishna

In October 1929 Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur (Srila Prabhupada’s spiritual master) along with his disciples visited Kanai Natashala and established the Sri Gaura Padapith temple. ISKCON obtained the property in 1993 and when the new temple was being constructed devotees found a Narasimha deity under the tree where Mahaprabhu was doing kirtan and crying in ecstasy for Lord Krishna. That tree is still here alongside the Ganges. Lord Chaitanya’s birthplace no longer exists due to the high flow of the Ganges, but this Kanhaiyasthan will never be extinct. There are mountains close by, so the Ganges cannot inundate this place. The area is secluded, surrounded by the Jharikhanda Forest where five hundred years ago the forest animals miraculously chanted Krishna’s names together under Mahaprabhu’s influence.

The temple on the banks of the Ganges includes a wonderful guesthouse and the devotees have a bathing place on the river where the villagers also come to bathe. We stayed here with Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar for a month during Kartika in 2013, and now after ten years our padayatra rath is back and again Lord Chaitanya has come to perform kirtan and remind people of the pastimes that took place here.

As we entered the village many of the residents welcomed us, having recalled our previous visit. After so many years padayatra had returned to their village, and they arranged a grand reception for us and collected rice which they donated to us. We had sankirtan in the evening and the villagers joined us as the atmosphere became filled with ecstasy. It was our great fortune to be at this godly place. We remained here for two days and on the day of ekadashi we took a holy dip in the Ganges along with Sri Sri Nitai-Gaurasundar. Mother Ganga must be overwhelmed to have had the Lord in her waters again.

It was a wonderful experience being at Kanai Natashala. From here we will go via Katwa and Ekachakra gram towards Mayapur.

Kanai Natashala ki jai.