It is believed that the deity of Sri Krishna installed in Udupi by Sri Madhwacharya, was got made by Sri Krishna himself by Vishwakarma out of Saligrama stone (Shila). Towards the end of Dwapara yuga, Devaki felt a keen desire to see once again Krishna ’s balaleelas. These leelas which were enacted by Krishna for the benefit of his mother were also witnessed incognito by His wife Rukmini, who falling in love with this balaroopa requested Him to get her a similar image for her daily worship. Thereupon Sri Krishna asked Vishwakarma to make such an image of Balakrishna with a churn in its right hand and cord in the other hand. This deity was daily worshipped by Rukimini. After Sri Krishna’s disappearance from this world, the deity fell into the hands of Arjuna, who hid it in Rukmini’s garden. By lapse of time the deity got completely covered by ‘gopichandana’. A sailor from Dwaraka loaded this heavy lump in his boat ballast, in one of his trips along the west coast.
Sri Madhwacharya, sensing this by his ‘Aparoksha’ or divine Jnana, awaited the arrival of this precious ballast at Vadabhandeshwara, a seashore spot near Udupi. When the boat approached that place it was caught by a severe storm and was about to sink.
The captain of the boat, seeing a holy man on the sea shore entered him to save him from disaster. Sri Madhwacharya waved his upper cloth and quietened the storm. The grateful captain offered all the riches in his boat to the Acharya but he accepted from out of the lot only lump of ‘gopichandana’ which was used as ballast. On breaking this, Sri Acharya found the beautiful and perfect deity of Sri Krishna. He carried the deity to Udupi, a distance of four miles, singing praise of Lord Narayana in ecstasy. These hymns under twelve chapters are called ‘Dwadasha Stotra’.He washed the deity in the Madhwa Sarovara and installed it in the temple nearby and started worshiping it. These poojas have been going on since then even to this day in unbroken continuity. Since Sri Madhwacharya’s time, these poojas are being conducted by his disciples who are all ‘balasanyasis’. The right of touching and worshiping this deity rests with the pontiffs of these eight mutts only who are the spiritual descendents of Sri Madhwacharya. No one else is permitted to touch the deity.
The main attraction of Lord Krishna temple is the ‘Kanakana Kindi’ – a hole through which Krishna is believed to have given darshan to his ardent devotee, Kanaka Dasa.
Sri Kanakadasa is one of the most famous Haridasas of Karnataka. He lived during the same time as Sri Vadiraja teertha and Sri Purandaradasa. He distinguished himself as great poet, philosopher, musician and composer. Being a disciple of Sri Vyasaraja, Kanakadasa also propagated Dwaitha philosophy of Madhvacharya through poetry and music to the masses in South India . He worshipped Adikeshava of Kaginele, presently in Haveri district of Karnataka. Kaginele, now a village, was a prosperous place and a trading center in his times. He lived for 98 years and during his life time he traveled various places and temples.
Thimmappa Nayaka was his original name and he belonged to chieftain (Kuruba) family of Kaginele in Haveri district. He was born to the Kurubagowda couple Biregowda and Beechamma at bada. Kanaka Nayaka being of the warrior community (Kuruba) his defeat in the field of battle, directed him to the path of devotion. He came to be called Kanaka Nayaka as he found a treasure-trove of gold (kanaka means gold in Kannada).
Another story says the Kanakadasa was the son of Beerappa Nayaka and Bachchi. As the couple had no children for long time after marriage they started worshipping Thimmappa of Tirupathi. Later they had a son and they named him Thimmappa. Thimmappa was a very intelligent boy even in childhood and he was less concerned about physical satisfaction. He was philosophical in thinking even in a very tender age. He lost his father very early and he was left alone with his mother at home. His mother started calling him Chinna which means gold or jewel. The Sanskrit form of Chinna is Kanaka. So he got the name Kanaka.
As Kanaka grew up he became the chieftain of Bankapura. But as he could not enjoy the richness as thousands were deprived of it, he distributed everything in the exchequer to the poor. As a result he was driven out of the power. At the same time he lost his wife too. But this made him realize the meaning of life. Instead of leading a meaningless life of being lured by worldly advancements, he thought, it would be good to become a Haridasa and preach the real essence of life.
He soon became the disciple of Sri Vyasaraja and travelled to various places singing songs and kirthanas, ugabhogas, mundiges. On the basis of one of his compositions it is deduced that after he got severely hurt in a war and miraculously saved, he gave up his warrior’s profession and devoted himself to writing songs and composing music. It appears that he started traveling to places to gain more knowledge.
Kanakadasa in Udupi
Kanakadasa has special association with Udupi and as he was the follower of Sri Vyasaraja Swamiji. On the advice of Vyasaraja Swamiji he had come to Udupi. But it a time when the discrimination based on the caste was at its peak in the society. The Brahmin fundamentalists did not let him enter the temple as he was from a lower cadre of the society. when Kanakadasa wanted to have the Darshan of Sri krishna he was refused to do so by the authorities of the temple and when he was reluctant to hear their words, they dragged him, tied him behind the temple and started beating him ruthlessly. At this point, of time Kanaka started to sing the song “Bagilanu teredu, Seveyanu kodo hariye…..” which means, “Oh Lord, Open the doors and serve me with your divine blessings…”. Satisfied by his prayers, Lord Sri Krishna gives him darshan by miraculously creating a crack in the backside of the temple and turning his face towards the window. The idol of Lord Krisha turned around and a crack appeared in the western granite wall of the temple, making it possible for Kanadadasa to have a glimpse of the Lord. Instead of having the crack plastered over again, Sri Vadiraja enlarged it and turned it into a window. To commemorate Lord Krishna’s darshana to Kanaka Dâsa, the window has been designated as ‘Kanakana Kindi’.
Udupi Sri Krishna – Worshiping fourteen times daily
Lord Krishna is worshiped daily fourteen times a day by the Paryaaya Swamiji and other Swamijis. Lord is worshiped with fourteen rituals everyday.The rituals begin at dawn and go late into the night. It is believed that the fourteen rituals never changed for the last 800 years.
Fourteen daily rituals:
Rituals take place in the forenoon
Nirmaalya Visarjana pooja
Akshayapaathra – Gopooja
Panchamritha Abhishekha pooja
Avasara Sanakaadi pooja
Rituals take place in the evening
Chaamara Sevaa pooja
Adjacent to the main corridor through which the pilgrims enter the Krishna temple, there is the holy tank called Madvasarorava ( Madhava Pushkarani). The tank was originally known as Anantha Theertha, but after the Ganga descended into this tank for the sake of Madhvacharya, it came to be designated as Madhvasarovara The tank has stone steps all round and a mandapam in the centre. Deities of Sri Krishnapur,Puttige and Kaniyoor mutts are worshipped here on the evening of Utthana Dwadasi. During Rathotsava nights Teppotsava take place in this tank. In the southwest corner of the tank is a shrine dedicated to Bhaagiirathi ( Ganga ) seated on a crocodile. It is believed that Ganges water flows in to this tank once in 12 years. For daily abhisheka of Sri Krishna water from this tank is used. The Swamijis have to bathe in this tank before they commence the worship at the shrine.
The Festival of Paryaya
Paryaaya’ is the system in which the responsibility of worshipping Sri Krishna and the management of His temple is undertaken in rotation by the eight piiThaadhipati-s of Udupi. The Swamiji who is in charge of the worship is known as the paryaaya Swamiji and his MaTha is known as the paryaaya MaTha. The duration of this tenure is known as the paryaaya period and the handing over of the worship form one Swamiji to another is known as the paryaaya festival.
The preliminary rituals for paryaaya begin a year before the actual paryaaya. The four main rituals are:
During his term of paryaaya, each Swamiji will use untold amounts of tuLasi leaves for the daily services in Krishna Mutt and plantain leaves for daily meals and for the many special feasts held during this period. To ensure this, about one year before the paryaaya, on an auspicious day, plantain and tuLasi groves are established.
On the day of muhuurta the Mutt priests first pray to the nine planets. Then the MaTha workers carry tuLasi and plantain seedlings in procession to Krishna Mutt. On the way they are accompanied by the Krishna Mutt elephant and other paraphernalia. Prayers are first offered in the Chandreswara and Ananteshwara temples before the procession enters Krishna Mutt. Coins are offered to Sri Krishna and then prayers are offered so that there will be no shortage of tulasi leaves for pooja or plantain leaves for meals. After offering prayers to Sri Mukhya PraaNa (Hanuman) and Sri Madhvacharya, the workers then return their MaTha before going on to plant the seedlings.
During the two year period of paryaaya, many thousands of people are fed. During special festivals up to 15 thousand people are fed at a time.
It was estimated that up to 30 thousand were fed on that day. To cater for huge crowds such as this, as well as the many hundreds, sometimes thousands, who visit Krishna Mutt daily, special arrangements are made to stockpile the rice needed. This collection of rice begins from the harvest of the year preceding the paryaaya. To ensure an adequate supply of rice the ritual of akki muhuurta is performed. This ritual is performed by the Swamiji himself.
This ritual is conducted some six months before the commencement of paryaaya.
Once the collection of rice has begun it is time to begin collecting the firewood used in the cooking of foodstuffs during the paryaaya. Some of the firewood is stored in a very artistic manner and the way it is stored is specialty of Udupi. The firewood is cut into varying lengths and then artistically piled up in the shape of the Brahma ratha.
This ritual commences in the Mutt of the incoming paryaaya Swamiji where prayers are offered to the nine planets. A procession then sets out with the Mutt workers carrying loads of firewood. After the ritual of purifying the ground, the artists commence the construction of the firewood rath. The firewood rath is some fifty feet in height and remains in place until the wood in it is used for cooking just before it is time to construct the rath for the next paryaaya.
This ritual is performed some seven or eight weeks before the new paryaaya. It is the ritual of gathering paddy from the new crop before the commencement of the paryaaya. Prayers to the nine planets are offered in the Mutt and then the paddy is placed on a palanquin, covered in a silken cloth, and carried in procession to Krishna Mutt. The paddy is placed on a platform and the Mutt priests offer rituals of worship. The Mutt manager then offers fruits and remuneration to the scholars gathered there. From this time onward the incoming paryaaya Mutt takes charge of the baDagu maaLige.
On this day, another ritual takes place. By this time the construction of the wooden rath is completed and a decorated dome is carried in procession to the rath where it is ceremoniously handed over to the chief architect who has it placed on the top of the rath. This is the last of the preliminary rituals of paryaaya.
It can be seem from these rituals that they are conducted so as to acquire leaves for eating, rice for food, firewood for cooking, paddy for rice, and so on. Their sole aim is for the continuation of the tradition of mass feeding of pilgrims and devotees in Krishna Mutt. This tradition of mass feeding is why Sri Krishna of Udupi is known as anna brahma.