Rangeshwar Mahadev Mandir, located in the southern part of Mathurapuri is the third guardian of the sacred city. This temple along with Shree Pipleshwar Nath Mahadev, Bhuteshwar Mahadev and Gokarneshwar Mahadev are located in the four cardinal directions.
According to the Srimad Bhagavatam, Kamsa extended an invitation to Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama to visit Mathurapuri with an intention to kill the former. He sent Shri Akrurji Maharaj on this important mission to bring Lord Krishna and his family to Mathurapuri.
Lord Krishna, the Supreme Being was well aware of Kamsa’s motives and travelled to Mathura gleefully. The scriptures state that Kamsa had set up an impressive wrestling arena aptly named Rangashala and engaged his best wrestlers to fight Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama.
When Lord Krishna arrived in Mathurapuri, he went to the grand hall where the famed bow of Lord Shiva was displayed. He picked it up effortlessly and strung the bow. A deafening sound resonated in the air signifying the breaking of the bow. Many more incidents took place leading to his arrival in the Rangashala that are found in the Tenth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam.
After Lord Krishna and Lord Balarama defeated the court-appointed wrestlers Chanura, Mustika and others and Kamsa’s army, Lord Krishna jumped on the chest of Kamsa and killed him. This great spectacle was witnessed by the residents of the city as well as by Lord Shiva who became overjoyed on seeing this divine event.
The entire city celebrated the death of Kamsa and Lord Shiva has since been called as Rangeshwar Mahadev as he was not only the ishta devatha of Kamsa but also acted as a witness to this magnificent leela of Lord Krishna.
Rangeshwar Mahadev Mandir has several idols of great antiquity that are venerated by locals of Lord Hanuman, Lakshmi Narayan, Lord Nandi and Prabhu Shree Rama along with Sita Mata, Hanuman and Lakshmana.
Rangeshwari Kali Mata or Rangeshwari Maiyya is the personification of kindness and is in fact dressed like Lord Krishna with flute, turban and bridal clothes and served misri and maakhana. She is said to enjoy tulasi with her bhog and is called Krishna Kali. There is an elaborate aarti at night to put her to sleep which draws devotees from nearby towns.
Locals say that one who recites any Shiva stotra and offers sugarcane juice for 40 consecutive days will be free from mental and physical ailments. The entire city participates in the festival to celebrate the killing of Kamsa on Karthik Shukla Paksha Dashami.
Devotees throng this temple in the auspicious months of Magha, Shravan and Karthik and on Maha Shivaratri, Amavasya, Purnima and Krishna Janmashtami.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)