September 28, 2017

The Wrestler-turned-Godman of Chennai

Not always the history books, travel guides or even the Google Map would help you to find or explore a lesser known site. Sometimes, only a localite could help you on this. Being a localite of Sowcarpet area of Chennai city, let me introduce you to a 120 years old temple and its history. This is getting documented in detail for the first time. No other print media or electronic media has ever mentioned this temple.

There is no tower or vimana. It is an old two storied building with a narrow entrance in the busy NSC Bose Road. You might either miss this out or mistake this building as an old independent house.  The stucco images of Radha Krishna and few other Vaishnava deities on the facade of the first floor are the only clue to connect this place with a religious site. It is the 120 years old Radha Krishna Temple. This temple has an interesting history.

Shri Ram Prasanna Swamiji
In 1905 CE, a holy man, Ram Prapanna by name, from Mirzapur of Uttar Pradesh state, came down to Madras. He belonged to Tingala Brahmin community. (Tingala Brahmin community follow Vaishnavism and they consider Ramanuja as their Guru). As there was no temple for his community people, he sought the help of a wealthy person. That person was from Allahabad and he owned more than 100 houses in Madras. He donated the land to Swamiji. Swamiji installed the idols of Radha and Krishna in a simple structure on that land. After gifting the land for this temple, the childless wealthy person was blessed with a child. He believed that it was due to the blessing of Radha-Krishna. He donated additional funds and built this big building for this temple.

Pahalwan Swamiji 
In 1920s, there was a famous wrestler Pari Pekkar by name in Mysore region. A wrestler from Uttar Pradesh defeated Pari Pekkar in a wrestling match. Then, that victorious wrestler came down to Madras. There he met Swamiji. Swamiji made him as his disciple. Thus, the wrestler turned into a Godman. His name is Raghavendra Prapanna. He was also called as Pahalvan Swamiji. He took over the administration of the temple in 1927 CE. Ram Prapanna went to Bhagalpur in Bihar state and started taking care of a Radha-Krishna temple there.

The current person who administer the temple is Shri. Brij Kishore. He is the great grandson of Shri. Raghavendra Prapannaji.

The temple is on the first floor. There is only one shrine. The beautiful white colored marble idols of Radha and Krishna are found in the shrine. The image of Ramanuja is also placed in the same shrine.

A big meditation hall is found in front of the shrine.

This temple is located in the opposite direction of Chinna Kadai Renuka Parameswari Temple.

Happy travelling.

Pahalwan Swamiji

Brij Kishore


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