Friday, 31 May, 2024

Historic Krishna Mandir

Aashish Mishra

Sunday was the birthday of Patan’s famous Krishna Mandir. It was on that day – the 10th day of the bright lunar fortnight of the Nepali month of Falgun – 385 years ago that King Siddhi Narsingh Malla established the 21-pinnacled stone temple and sanctified it through the performance of a Kotyahuti Yagya.

Now, many know the story behind the establishment of the Krishna Temple. There is no shortage of literature describing how Siddhi Narsingh was visited by Lord Krishna in a dream. Many documents go into detail about the temple’s structure; about the first storey being dedicated to Krishna who stands with Radha and Rukmini, the second floor dedicated to Shiva who is present in the form of a lingam (because Hari and Hara are always entwined) and the third that once used to house Avalokiteshwor. This is common knowledge.

However, something that not many may know is the circumstance surrounding the building of the temple. At the time of its construction, Krishna Mandir was seen as a jewel of the Kingdom of Lalitpur which could only be entrusted to the jewellers of the highest order. Thus, the king decided to appoint Upadhyaya Brahmins as the priests of the temple and asked his Guru Bishwonath Upadhyaya to take the lead in organising the aforementioned Kotyahuti Yagya.

This miffed the great Tantric Gubhals of Chakubahal who had expected to be given some role in the management of the new temple. Thus, when they were seemingly sidelined in favour of the Brahmins, they got angry. A few days before the Yagya, they cast a spell because of which the mandap made for the ceremony collapsed. The king considered this to be a bad omen and ordered it to be rebuilt but the mandap collapsed again. The king tried rebuilding it one more time but it again collapsed.

This worried Siddhi Narsingh and made him doubt the skills of his teacher Bishwonath Upadhyaya. This made Bishwonath nervous who by now had figured out the Gubhals’ deeds. So, he did the only thing he could. He went to the Gubhals and asked them to take their spell back. He promised to pay them handsomely once the Yagya was over and they agreed. The mandap was reconstructed and this time, it did not collapse.

But one Gubhal was still not convinced. He still felt that he had been wronged and thus, went to Patan’s rival Kathmandu. There, he approached King Pratap Malla who was more than happy to assist him torment Siddhi Narsingh, who was his uncle by relation. So, the two plotted and on the day of the Yagya, just as Siddhi Narsingh had sat down to perform his rites, the two appeared in front of him in the form of young boys and started crying. They held out two clay pots and asked for food.

Siddhi, ever the generous king he was, put the Yagya on hold to feed these two (who appeared to be) hungry boys. His servants brought sacks after sacks of rice, flour, sweets and more but no matter how much they threw in, the pots never filled. This made Bishwonath suspicious and when he asked to inspect the pots, the two vanished. But barely an hour later, the two reappeared in the snakes.

This time though, Bishwonath had lost all patience and he grabbed the two serpents and was about to throw them in the Yagya fire when one of them yelled out that he was Pratap Malla and begged the Guru to spare his life. Bishwonath strictly instructed Malla and the Gubhal to stop disrupting the ceremony and let them go.
The two did not return after that and the Yagya was completed after 46 days. This was how Krishna Mandir was inaugurated.