This year, it’s going to be special “Mudiya Puno” at Madan Mohan Temple in Vrindavan. A deity of Sanatan Goswami will be installed at his samadhi mandir (tomb).
The present Acharya of Madan Mohan Temple, Shri Sanatan Kishor Goswami (Panchu Ji) says that the new deity of Sanatan Goswami will be brought from Jaipur. The celebration will include Adhivas Kirtan the evening before, Suchak Kirtan (a biography of Sanatan Goswami in the form of a kirtan) on the morning of Mudiya Puno, and a bhandara (prasad distribution).
What is Mudiya Puno?
In Braj, Guru Purnima (the full moon day when spiritual teachers are worshiped) is known as “Mudiya Puno”. This year it falls on July 9th.
“Mudiya” is derived from the word mundan or shaven head, and it is a loving local nickname for the great Gaudiya Vaishnava saint, Shri Sanatan Goswami, and “Mudiya Puno” is Sanatan Goswami’s tirobhav tithi (disappearance day). On this day, huge crowds of devotees flock to Govardhan to perform Govardhan Parikrama. A large number of devotees visit the Shri Madanmohan Temple in Vrindavan to pay their respects at Sanatan Goswami’s samadhi.
Who was Sanatan Goswami?
Shri Sanatan Goswami was a follower of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu who renounced worldly life and lived in Vrindavan about 500 years ago. He used to perform intense spiritual practice and write books, which became part of the foundation of Gaudiya Vaishnava philosophy. According to Gaudiya Vaishnava literature, Sanatan Goswami is the incarnation of Shri Radha’s maidservant, Shri Lavang Manjari.
Sanatan Goswami and Madan Mohan
Every day, Sanatan Goswami used to go for madhukari (collecting alms) from house to house. One day he came to the house of a Chaube (Chaturvedi Brahmin) in Mathura. The Chaube had an extremely attractive deity of Shri Krishna named Madan Mohan. Sanatan Goswami was entranced by his beauty. But he was sad to see that the children of the Chaube’s family were playing with Madan Mohan just like a doll. Then he noticed that the mother was making khichdi for Madan Mohan whilst brushing her teeth with a daatun (neem twig).
Sanatan Goswami became very upset, and had a word with the Chaube. The Chaube felt very embarassed and said to Sanatan Goswami, “Please excuse us. We do not know how to love Madan Mohan. Madan Mohan is an ancient deity, installed five thousand years ago by Shri Krishna’s grandson Vajranabh. How can we possibly worship him properly?”
“You should worship him according to the rules and regulations laid out in the scriptures,” said Sanatan Goswami.
From that day forward, the Chaube and his family became very strict with Madan Mohan. He was awakened, fed, and so forth at all the right times and with all the rules of cleanliness. Fearful of making a mistake, all the family members kept a respectful distance.
That night, Madan Mohan appeared in Sanatan Goswami’s dream and said, “Why did you ruin everything? These people treated me like their own family. The children were my real brothers and sisters. I loved so much to play with them! And Maiya used to brush her teeth while cooking, because she knows I am very hungry in the morning. She would multi-task just so I don’t have to bear the pain of hunger for one more moment. But now I have to wait forever for my breakfast. Look, rules and regulations have their place, but these are not ordinary people. They are Brajwasis and they truly love me. You only have to look into their hearts.”
“O Lala, I am very sorry,” said Sanatan Goswami, wiping away his tears. “What should I do?”
Madan Mohan smiled and replied. “Come tomorrow and take me away from here. Now I want to enjoy that kind of love from you.”
Sanatan Goswami smiled too, and said, “If that is what you want, I accept. But I have to warn you: I am a renounced man. I don’t have any posessions. The only home I have to offer you are the trees of Vrindavan, and the only feast I can give you is the bread I get from begging, and the water of the Yamuna River.”
“That sounds like a wonderful feast!” said Madan Mohan.
“For me it is,” said Sanatan Goswami. “But you are used to the finer things in life. I wonder if you will be able to manage.”
“I will manage,” said Madan Mohan.
And so Madan Mohan came to live with Sanatan Goswami.
The first day, Sanatan Goswami went for madhukari as usual, and received just a little bit of wheat flour (atta). He mixed the flour with water from the Yamuna river and made a dish called baati, by forming the dough into balls and cooking it in the coals of a fire. He served the baati to Madan Mohan with Yamuna water in an earthen pot. Madan Mohan ate it and smiled.
Usually, Sanatan Goswami got only wheat flour for madhukari and made baati with it. After a few days of this diet, Madan Mohan very sweetly said:
“May I please have some salt? I am finding it difficult to swallow your dry chunks of bread.”
“That’s impossible” said Sanatan Goswami. “If I give you salt one day, the next day you will ask for ghee. And if I give you ghee, you will ask for rabri. And if I give you rabri, you will ask for a whole feast. Your desires will be the end of me. I will have to give up the mission Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given me, leave my renounced life and get a job to buy whatever you wish. I want you to be happy, my darling, but I cannot do this for you. If you want salt, you will have to get it yourself.”
Madan Mohan was speechless. He smiled, and the wheels in his naughty mind started turning.
Later that afternoon, a ship washed ashore on the riverbank near Sanatan Goswami’s camp. Back then, the Yamuna River flowed right next to where the Madan Mohan Temple stands today – just at the foot of the hill, where the Parikrama Marg is now.
The captain of the ship was a Punjabi merchant named Ramdas Kapoor. He was very upset, because he could not get his ship unstuck. No matter how he tried, there was no movement at all. The Brajwasis noticed, and some came to help. But even the strong young farmers and cowherd boys could not free the boat. The Brajwasis asked Kapoor to visit Sanatan Goswami and ask for his blessings. Surely the great saint’s blessings could free his boat!
Ramdas Kapoor bowed to Sanatan Goswami and told him his problem.
“My boat is carrying an important shipment bound for Agra,” he said, “and if I cannot deliver, I am financially dead! Please give me your blessings, o Sage!”
Sanatan Goswami was silent. He did not like to get involved in worldly affairs. But something in his heart made him inquire further.
“What exactly is inside your boat?” asked Sanatan Goswami.
“The entire boat is packed with salt,” replied Ramdas Kapoor.
Sanatan Goswami smiled and said, “I think I know how we can free your boat.”
Kapoor was overjoyed to hear this news. Sanatan Goswami instructed him to offer a little salt to Madan Mohan with his evening meal. He did so, and immediately, at the moment the bhog (meal) was offered, the boat came unstuck.
Ramdas Kapoor was so overwhelmed by the grace of Sanatan Goswami and Shri Madan Mohan, that he donated a huge sum of money to build a temple for Madan Mohan.
The temple of Madan Mohan remains today as the oldest and most iconic landmark of Vrindavan. It is one of the famous sapta devalays and is fully protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.