Article “Imlitala Siddhapith – Where Krishna Attained Perfection”
Book “Imlitala Mahatmya”
How to Get There
Imlitala Siddhapith – Where Krishna Attained Perfection
By Radhamadhav Das
A Siddhapith is a holy place of perfection or siddhi. Imlitala is a major Siddhapith because here Krishna Himself attained perfection. We know Yogapith – the holy place where Radha and Krishna meet, such as the Yogapith at the Radha-Govinda temple in Vrindavan. But most devotees know little about Imlitala Siddhapith – the place where Krishna attains a most fulfilling type of perfection.
Tamarind tree in Imlitala. PC: Radhamadhav Das
“Imli” means ‘tamarind tree” and “tala” means “at the base of”. Because Sri-Sri Radha-Krishna and Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu performed many amazing lilas under this imli tree, this holy place has come to be known as “Imlitala.” Imlitala is one of the most important holy places in Vrindavan and it is thus counted among its pracin-devalayas or most prominent ancient places of worship.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu arrived in Vṛndāvana on the day of Rāsa pūrṇimā in Kārtika 1515. He daily sat in solitude under this tamarind tree, gazing at the Yamunā and enjoying the divine beauty of Vṛndāvana. He also performed harināma and spread the message of devotion to Śrī Hari to qualified people at this holy place. Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī has described this pastime as follows:
prāte vṛndāvane kailā ‘cīra-ghāṭe’ snāna
teṅtulī-talāte āsi’ karilā viśrāma
kṛṣṇa-līlā-kālera sei vṛkṣa purātana
tāra tale piṅḍi-bāndhā parama-cikkaṇa
nikaṭe yamunā vahe śītala samīra
vṛndāvana-śobhā dekhe yamunāra nīra
teṅtula-tale vasi’ kare nāma-saṅkīrtana
madhyāhna kari’ āsi’ kare ‘akrūre’ bhojana
vṛndāvane āsi’ prabhu vasiyā ekānta
nāma-saṅkīrtana kare madhyāhna-paryanta
“The next morning, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu returned to Vṛndāvana and took His bath at Cīra-ghāṭa. He then went to Imlitalā (Teṅtulītalā), where He took rest. The tamarind tree was very old, having been there since the time of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. Beneath the tree was a dazzling sitting platform. Since the river Yamunā flowed near Imlitalā, a very cool breeze blew there. While there, the Lord saw the sublime beauty of Vṛndāvana and the pristine water of the Yamunā. Before returning to Akrūra-tīrtha to take lunch at noon, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu used to sit beneath the ancient tamarind tree and engage in nāma-saṅkīrtana. Whenever Mahāprabhu would come to Vṛndāvana, He would sit here in solitude until noon.”
– Caitanya-caritāmṛta 2.18.75-80.
Śrīla Bhakti Rakṣaka Śrīdhara Dev-Gosvāmī Mahārāja composed a beautiful Sanskrit poem on Imlitala:
prema-dhāma-devam eva naumi gaura-sundaram
“When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu was sitting in solitude under the imli tree and seeing the dancing waves of the Yamunā, He remembered His water-sporting pastimes with the gopīs during His previous Avatāra as Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Embracing the sweetness of Rādhikā’s love in the core of His heart, He entered into rādhikātma-bhāva or empathic union with Her. He thus fulfilled His three internal desires and His heart was completely captured by Rādhārāṇī. Imlitalā is the place of origin of gaura-tattva, for it was here where in Dvāpara-yuga, Śyāmasundara became fully absorbed in the devotional mood of Śrīmatī Rādhārāṇī and became Gaurasundara. I offer my obeisance to that Lord Gaurasundara, who eternally resides in Imlitalā, and who is the abode of prema.”
– Śrī-Śrī Premadhāma-Deva-Stotram, Verse 42.
Over 5000 years ago in Dvapara-yuga, In Imlitala, Srimati Radharani’s supreme victory was celebrated with Her coronation as Vrindavanesvari, the Queen of Vrindavan. In Vrindavan, the mood of worship is very sweet, because Radharani becomes the Supreme Goddess and Krishna is assigned a role subordinate to Her.
Once, during the performance of Rasa-lila, Radharani was not given Her deserved special attention by Krishna. She thus became sulky, left the Rasa dance and crossed the Yamuna with Her sakhis. In a secluded spot, She sat down and wept. Radharani’s pride is not like that of a self-centered person. She only thinks of Krishna’s pleasure. Only She can fully please Krishna. If Krishna doesn’t give Her full attention, She cannot fully serve Him, and thus He cannot be fully happy. Thus, to serve Him better, Radharani began Her pastime of maan or sulkiness.
Absorbed in thoughts of Krishna, Her empathy with Him reached such a high degree that Her entire body turned blue like Krishna. Thus before Krishna entered Radha’s mood and turned golden, She entered into empathy with Him and turned dark blue. Dark blue tears cascaded from Her eyes like the river Yamuna and soon formed a beautiful lake, wich was named Maan sarovar – the lake formed of Radha’s tears of maan or sulkiness.
Meanwhile, Krishna felt that He is not getting the usual bliss and suddenly realized that His most beloved Radharani is missing from the Rasa-lila. He quickly left the Rasa dance and began desperately looking for Her everywhere. Unable to find Her, He remembered how She was crowned the Queen of Vrindavan under the tamarind tree in Imlitala, and thus he took shelter of that tree. He sat down under that holy tree and started to cry out, “Radhe, Radhe! Please save my life by giving me your darshan!”
Radharani’s holy name is non-different from Her mood and golden colour. Hence, while chanting Radha’s name, Krishna soon became immersed into Her mood of service and also attained Her golden effulgence, thus assuming the golden form of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu! Imlitala is the holy place where Mahaprabhu’s beautiful form manifested for the very first time. Krishna, being immersed in empathy with Radharani, realized the glory of Her unparallelled love for Him, His own sweetness that only She can taste fully, and Her unsurpassed ecstacy when She serves Him. Having thus fulfilled His three internal desires mentioned by Krishnadas Kaviraj Goswami (Caitanya-caritamrita 1.1.6.), Krishna entered into a deep state of samadhi and attained an unprecedented state of siddhi or perfection. This is why Imlitala is called Siddhapith – holy place of perfection.
On the other side of the Yamuna, Radharani suddenly felt deep bliss arising in Her heart due to being immersed in empathic union with Krishna. Realizing that He is tasting a very special kind of ecstacy, She was attracted to Imlitala with Her sakhis and was amazed to find Krishna embraced with Her golden effulgence and immersed into a samadhi of empathic union with Her. Usually Krishna faints merely by hearing the tinkling sound of Her anklets. But now He was not showing the slightest reaction, altough Radharani was standing right in front of Him – such intense was His empathic absorption! One of Her sakhis thus told Radharani to snatch back Her mood of devotion from Krishna. When She did just that, Gaura-Krishna came back to external consciousness, having lost the treasure of radha-bhava. The covering golden effulgence faded and gave way to His blackish colour. The two had a most blissful meeting and were expressing how They are looking forward to continue this Gaura-Krishna pastime during Their gaura-lila in Kali-yuga.
Then, when Kali-yuga arrived, Nityananda Prabhu came to Imlitala. He foresaw Mahaprabhu’s arrival and prepared His asana here. When Mahaprabhu came to Vraja, He spent most of His time on this asana under this imli tree, chanting Krishna-nama in seclusion. While chanting Krishna’s names, due to the seeing the uddipakas or stimulants of vraja-lila in Vrindavan such as the Yamuna, He once again turned blackish like Krishna and lost the treasure of radha-bhava. To make sure He won’t lose radha-bhava again, He decided to return to Puri, although He had only spent a few months in Vrindavan. This is the confidential reason why Mahaprabhu performed His concluding pastime in Puri.
Sevakunja is accepted as the heart of Vrindavan because here Krishna attains the treasure of His heart – the service of Radharani’s lotus feet. However, nobody can serve without the proper mood of service, especially not Krishna, who is used to being adi-purusam, the supreme enjoyer. Thus He had to first attain seva-bhava, the mood of service, and for that He first comes to Imlitala before He enters Sevakunja. In the same mood, pilgrims first have darshan of Imlitala before entering Sevakunja.
Some say that relishing the Imlitala pastimes was the internal reason for Mahaprabhu’s coming to Vrindavana. Under the very same imli tree, Srila Sanatana Gosvami worshiped his beautiful Gaura-Nityananda Deities, which now grace the left altar in the Imlitala temple. In the centre of the altar there is the Mahaprabhu Deity who was personally installed by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada and lead all of his early Vraja-mandala parikramas. Imlitala was so dear to Srila Prabhupada that he once said: “I am living eternally at Imlitala!”
Interested readers can read more about Imlitala and related pastimes in the book Imlitala Mahatmya by Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj or in the upcoming book Yoga of Empathy by Radhamadhav Das.
- Imlitala Mahatmya by Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj
- Accounts of senior Vaisnavas
Book “Imlitala Mahatmya”
You can read more about Imlitala in the wonderful book “Imlitala Mahatmya” by Srila Bhakti Saranga Goswami Maharaj. It will soon be available here for download in English. So far it is available in print in Bengali only in the Sri Gaudiya Sangha temples like Siddhapith Imlitala Mahaprabhu Mandir. We are working on Russian and Chinese translations too. If you feel inspired to be part of this service you can do so by helping with translation, printing and distribution. Just drop us an email here. You can also offer a donation.
Guided Darshans of Imlitala and Sevakunja
Gaudiya Sangha in Delhi
How to Get There
Imlitala lies between the Madan-Mohan temple and Keshi Ghat on the banks of the Yamuna. It belongs to Sevakunja. You can walk there or take a bicycle or E-rikshaw. Cars are not recommended because they disturb the peace of the pilgrims.