It was a memorable surprise. The tour package did not mention it. Neither did the Rajasthan Government Tourism website. I stumbled on to it by a stroke of sheer good luck.
During my recent visit to the Amer Fort on the Aravali Hills near Jaipur recently, the tour guide – a knowledgable, proud and dignified young man who lived in a village about an hour of two-wheeler-drive away taking care of his elderly parents, wife and children – told me about the Meera Krishna temple in Amer.
[Meera Krishna temple is adjacent to the Amber Palace. Map courtesy: Google]
He said this is the only Meera Krishna temple there is and the Krishna idol that Meera worshipped is installed here. Would I be interested in going there first? Interested? I was thrilled ! I grabbed this opportunity to actually see the idol that the exemplary devotee Meera worshipped and experienced the Formless divinity in!
Why is Meera important to me? Read here.
The historical details of Meera’s life are uncertain. But it is certain that she lived in the 16th century. She was born around 1500 CE in Merta, married Bhoj Raj (Maharana) of Mewar and merged with Krishna probably around 1547 CE. Her life-span in number of years does not convey the type of disciplined and dedicated life she lived and her total love for Krishna. But her songs of yearning, surrender and pangs of separation from Krishna give an insight into them. Listen to one of her songs, known as Meera bhajans today, in this video. For a meaning of the song, see here.
In this song, she asserts “There is none other than Giridhar Gopal for me”. She yearns further, “my tear-drops are the garland of my love…”
How could I not be thrilled to visit the temple that was built for such a pure-hearted devotee along with the idol of Krishna she worshipped?
The temple is a marbled universe. Just about everything I saw was made of marble and squeaky clean. The temple area had a pillared entrance , with two tall pillars that were artistic, rugged, yet of simple design. The height of the pillars made the entrance appear narrower than it was.
[The pillared entrance. Also serves as exit. Picture shows Exit View]
The entrance led me to an expansive and welcoming yard. The main entrance was located in such an angle to the temple that I got a three dimensional view of the temple structure as soon as I stepped in to the yard.
[Large open yard leading to the temple. My tour guide in the foreground]
The temple had a natural beauty about it. It stood majestic, inviting and quietly wonderful as everything in nature is. The structure was neither gigantic nor compact but wholesome. I climbed a few short steps to enter the temple itself.
[A few short steps to the temple entrance. Marble mandapam on the right]
As I climbed the steps, I couldn’t help notice and admire the marble motifs on the small mandapam that came up to my right. Elephants, horses and dancing damsels were artistically and realistically carved out of marble..
The entrance to the temple itself was made of pink marble, with beautiful flowers carved out on the canopy.
The temple appeared dark inside enhancing the well-lit sanctorium at the back, in the center.
As soon as I stepped into the hall, I felt cool and calm.
The hall enhanced my focus on the sanctorium and my eyes fell on the beautiful idols of Krishna and Meera.
I took in the charming idol of Krishna that Meera prayed to, that she always kept the company of and that she refused to part from. The idol with its playful smile reminded me of Meera and her love for Krishna. It reminded me of Divine Love itself.
The priest, a simple unassuming satwic man, voluntarily and lovingly told me the history of the temple and how the Krishna idol worshipped by Meera ended up being there. When the Moghuls attacked the Mewar kingdom, Raja Man Singh, who built the Jaipur Fort (the Fort was later expanded by his son, Jai Singh) brought the idol from Mewar, safe-guarding it from the Moghul attack. He then built the temple on the Aravali Hills adjacent to the Fort and installed the idol there.
After spending a few blissful and peaceful moments in the company of the memories of Meera and Krishna, I took leave of the priest and left reluctantly.
Devotion, bhakti, of a true devotee was what made it so special for me to visit this temple. Devotees face worldly difficulties in plenty. The stronger the devotion, the stronger the worldly challenges. But the devotee is not concerned with them. Meera had her share of phenomenal difficulties, but she was not bothered by them. She loved Krishna exclusively. As I exited the temple, I did not think of the Krishna idol that Meera worshipped, or Meera herself. I thought of her exclusive love for God. And her unshakeable attachment to God in spite of the enormous challenges she faced in her life.
Sri Krishna describes Meera’s devotion in the Bhagavad Gita.
Those who think of Me only, exclusive of any other thoughts, who worship me with Love…are extremely dear to Me.
ananyas chintayanto maam ye janaah paryupaasate…te ateeva me priyaah [Bhagavad Gita 9.22, 12.20]
[A stone elephant with a broken tusk stonily watches the modern construction hubs below]
As I exited the temple , I had a breathtaking view of the valley and the civilization hubs below. But I didn’t really notice them. My thoughts were with this mere mortal person who lived among us a few hundred years ago and achieved the pinnacle of devotion.
Exclusive and total love for God is where it is at, say the scriptures. I’m glad I got recharged in this truth at this temple.