A Visit to Dakshineswar temple

A visit to Dakshineshwar Kali Temple in Saturday is a task of “mahapunya”. It is because, the Saturday and Tuesday are the days of Kali Mata in Hindu mythology. I visited this spot from childhood many times with my mother. But this visit is great one. Because I visited this place alone. From one bank of Ganges, teh Belur Math is seen in fade. While walking through the porch, I felt history more than religion. I felt the feeling of unity that Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda spread to the planet. And also, I felt about Rani Rasmami, who a young window of a zamindar family, fought in isolation against the orthodox Hindu Brahmin (who were the higher caste in the Bengali early colonial society) to built this epitome of Greek and terracotta architectural style temple of early colonial era.

2It was 1847, the wealthy widow Rani Rasmani prepared to make a pilgrimage to the sacred city of Varanasi to express her devotions to the “Divine Mother”. In those days there were no railway lines between Kolkata andVaranasi and it was more comfortable for rich persons to make the journey by boat rather than by road.

The convoy of Rani Rasmani consisted of twenty-four boats carrying relatives, servants, and supplies. But the night before the pilgrimage began, the Divine Mother, in the form of the goddess Kali, intervened. Appearing to the Rani in a spiritual dream, the Divine Mother said, “There is not need to go to Banaras. Install my statue in a beautiful temple on the banks of the Ganges River and arrange for my worship there. Then I shall manifest myself in the image and accept worship at that place.” Profoundly affected by the dream, the Rani Rasmoni immediately looked for and purchased land, and promptly began construction of the temple. The large temple complex, built between 1847 and 1855, had as its centerpiece a shrine of the goddess Kali, and there were also temples dedicated to the deities Lord Shiva and Radha-Krishna.

A scholarly, elderly sage was chosen as the head priest and the temple was consecrated in 1855. Within the year the priest died and his responsibilities passed to his younger brother, Ramakrishna, who over the next thirty years would bring great fame to the Dakshineswar temple.

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Ramakrishna, however, did not serve for long as the temple’s head priest. From the first days of his service in the shrine of the goddess Kali, he was filled with a rare form of the love of God known in Hinduism as “maha-bhava”. Worshiping in front of the statue of Kali, Ramakrishna would be overcome with such ecstatic love for the deity that he would fall to the ground immersed in spiritual trance and lose all consciousness of the external world. These experiences of God-intoxication became so frequent that he was relieved of his duties as temple priest but allowed to continue living within the temple compound. During the next twelve years Ramakrishna would journey ever deeper into this passionate and absolute love of the divine. His practice was to express such intense devotion to particular deities that they would physically manifest to him and then merge into his being.

The various forms of god and goddess such as Shiva, Kali, Radha-Krishna, Sita-Rama and Christ appeared to him and his fame as an avatar, or divine incarnation, rapidly spread throughout India. Ramakrishna died in 1886 at the age of fifty yet his life, his intense spiritual practices, and the temple of Kali where many of his ecstatic trances occurred continued to attract pilgrims from all over India and the world.

Even though Ramakrishna grew up and lived within the domain of Hinduism, his experience of the divine went far beyond the bounds of that, or any other, religion. Ramakrishna fully realized the infinite and all-inclusive nature of the divine. He was a conduit for divinity into the human world and the presence of that divinity may still be experienced at the Kali temple of Dakshineswar.

Dakshineswar temple is one of the most revered and the sacred temples in Kolkata. Dakshineswar Temple is one of the largest temples near Kolkata and it is also an architectural treasure. Dakshineswar Temple was built in conventional Nava-ratna style. It boasts a towering height of more than 100 feet. The 12-spired temple with its massive courtyard is flanked by 12 other small temples, devoted to Lord Shiva.

Dakshineswar temple becomes a center of attraction mainly during the Kali Puja. The temple is decorated wonderfully with flowers and amazing lighting arrangement. Devotees from early morning start making beeline to offer their prayer to the presiding deity of Dakshina Kali of the temple.

The music of beautiful religious songs that play on the temple premise on the day of Kali puja, enhances the religious appeal of the place even more. Beside this, on every “amabashya”, the temple is also decked up beautifully and an elaborate evening arati is also performed.

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