The History and Significance of Chandan Yatra in Gaudiya Vaishnavism

Chandan Yatra is an annual festival celebrated in the summer, primarily at Jagannatha temple in Puri and among the followers of Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. It is a festival where Chandan (sandalwood paste) is applied to the Deity of the Supreme Lord to alleviate Him from the scorching heat of the summer season.

The origins of the Chandan Yatra are traced back to a beautiful pastime involving Sri Madhavendra Puri, an exalted Acharya in Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampradaya. 

Madhavendra Puri and Gopala

Sri Madhavendra Puri installed the Deity of Sri Gopala (Lord Krishna) atop the Govardhana Hill in the holy dham of Vrindavan. Following the installation, he fervently worshipped the Lord with various paraphernalia, supported by the unwavering dedication of the devotees of Vrindavan.

One hot summer day, Sri Gopala appeared in Madhavendra Puri’s dream and instructed him to smear His body with sandalwood paste to alleviate the heat. The Lord asked him to bring Malaya sandalwood from Jagannatha Puri. Upon this request, Madhavendra Puri immediately set out for Puri on foot.

Upon reaching Jagannatha Puri, he informed the devotees of Lord Jagannatha about the desire of Sri Gopala. Lord Jagannatha’s servants and other devotees gathered sandalwood to fulfil Madhavendra Puri’s request.

On his way back to Vrindavan, Madhavendra Puri visited Sri Gopinatha Temple in Remuna after receiving the sandalwood. After having the darshan of the Lord, he decided to stay in the temple for a day. While resting at night, once again, Sri Gopala appeared to him in a dream. He explained that He and Sri Gopinatha were non-different and ordered him to apply the sandalwood paste to Him. By doing so, Sri Gopala’s body would also be cooled down. 

Madhavendra Puri followed the order and smeared Lord Gopinatha’s body with sandalwood pulp. Subsequently, upon his return to Vrindavan, he faithfully applied the paste to Sri Gopala’s form.

This devotional act of Madhavendra Puri exemplifies his intense feelings of love for the Lord. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu narrated this story to Lord Nityananda Prabhu and other devotees and praised the pure devotional service of Mādhavendra Purī.

Gaudiya Vaishnavas commemorate this pastime through the Chandan Yatra. To date, devotees at ISKCON temples, as well as many temples in Vrindavan, smear the Deity with sandalwood paste during summer.

ISKCON Bangalore celebrates Chandan Yatra every year from Shukla Ekadashi (the eleventh day of the bright fortnight) in the month of Vaishakha until the day preceding Sri Narasimha Jayanti. During these days, devotees can have a special darshan of Sri Prahlada Narasimha at ISKCON Sri Radha Krishna Temple and Sri Lakshmi Narasimha at ISKCON Vaikuntha Hill, adorned in Chandana Alankara, and seek Their blessings.

The Supreme Lord is self-sufficient and not dependent on anyone’s service. He is the provider and maintainer of all living entities. Yet, He is so kind and merciful that He allows devotees the opportunity to serve Him in His Deity form. Chandan Yatra serves as a wonderful opportunity for devotees to lovingly serve the Lord by grinding Chandan for Him, thereby making progress on the path of realising and deepening their relationship with the Lord.

Offer your seva to Sri Prahlada Narasimha and receive His supreme protection.

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Related LinksNarasimha Jayanti | Narasimha Pranama | Narasimha Ashtottara 

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