Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur writes, “There is a small town called Khanakula Krishnagar, in Hooghly district, where the Temple in which Sri Abhiram Thakur worshipped is situated. The Temple is located in Krishnanagar, near the kula (bank) of the khana (Dvarakeswar River). Therefore this place is celebrated as Khanakul Krishnanagar. The Deity in the temple is known as Gopinath and is extremely charming to behold. Gopinath appeared in a dream to Abhiram and told him “I am buried in the earth nearby. Please take me out and worship me.”
There is a big bakula tree outside the Temple. This place is known as siddha bakula kunj. It is said when Sri Abhiram Thakur came there, he sat down under this tree. In Khanakula Krishnanagar there is a big fair held every year in the month of Chaitra (March-April) on the saptami of the dark fortnight, Krishna saptami.
The local legend about Sri Abhiram Thakur is as follows. One day in Dwapara yuga, Krishna, Balaram and their cowherd friends were playing hide-and-seek in the woods of Vrindavan. Suddenly, Krishna remembered Nadia and wanted to go there and enjoy some pastimes there. Taking Balaram and all their friends with Him, He advented in Navadwip. Somehow, Sridama got left behind in Vraja and remained in his hiding place in a cave.
When everyone was performing kirtan in Navadwip, Gauranga Mahaprabhu suddenly remembered Sridam. Horripilating in ecstatic love, He shed tears and called out “Ah Sridam, where shall I find you now?” and he fell unconscious.
Nityananda Prabhu lifted Him on to his lap and brought Him back to consciousness. When asked the reason for His distress, Mahaprabhu said, “Where is Sridam? Tell me where he is! I will go immediately and bring him!” Mahaprabhu further revealed to Nityananda, “He is living in Vrindavan – go there and bring him here quickly! I am heart broken in his absence.”
Pacifying Sri Gauranga, Nityananda Prabhu assured Him that he would find Sridam and bring him back to Navadwip. Nitai Rama set out and eventually reached Govardhan area in Vraja. Nityananda Prabhu was wearing his usual blue dhoti and anga-vastra and had his hair tied in a knot on the top of his head.
Arriving near Govardhan hill, Nityananda started calling out, “Sridam!” again and again. Finally Sridam came out of the cave to see who was calling him. Seeing the strange man dressed in blue, Sridam asked “Who are you? Why are you calling me?” Nityananda introduced himself as Balaram and said that His name was previously “Balai”.
However, Sridam had a doubt in his mind due to the different appearance and get-up of Nityananda. (The stature of people in Dwapara yuga was much taller than the people in Kali yuga). Sridam said, “If you are really Balai, then you should be as powerful as Him. I shall clap my hands and run. If you are truly Balai, then you will be able to catch me.”
Hearing this, Nitai said, “Run if you must. Let’s see how far you will be able to go.” Clapping his hands, Sridam said, “Ha Balai, you will not be able to catch me!”
Sridam gopal then tied his cloth tightly between his legs in the manner of a wrestler and began to run around Govardhan Hill. After circumambulating Sri Giriraj four times, he looked back to see if Nityananda had caught up with him. Seeing that Nitai had kept pace, he thought “This is indeed Balaram!”
Sridam said, “You must be tired, my friend. Take some rest now. Since I did not see your form of Balaram I had some doubt in my mind. But you went around Govardhan Giri four times! Who else but Balai has the energy to do that!” Then he asked, “Tell me why have you come looking for me?”
Nityananda replied “Krishna fell unconscious because He could not see you!” Sridam asked, “Where has Kanai gone?” Nityananda replied, “Now everyone has gone to Navadwip. If you will accompany me, we will have some special pastimes there. Come quickly!”
Sridam said, “No, I shall not go. Going with you means that I will have to live in someone’s womb there. Considering the pain, who wants to live in that condition! I will not go.”
Nityananda said, “Just come with me and let us discuss the matter with Kanai. You can remain for now, as you are.”
Sridam laughed and said, “Alright then, carry me on your shoulders! All that running has made me tired.” Nitai said, “If I refuse, then you will go around telling everyone that I could not carry you because of the difference in our respective sizes. You are the chief amongst us cowherd boys. Please consider that you should be sympathetic about the happiness and distress of others.”
Sridam said, “Well.. you and I are just the same. You very well know that when Krishna’s side loses, I sometimes carry you on my back!” Nityananda replied, “Everyone knows that you are subjugated by Kanai’s love. None of the pastimes that happen in Vraja by day or by night are unknown to you. All the other cowherd boys always sing your praises. Come now. Let us go and meet Gauranga. All the twelve gopalas (twelve intimate associates of Lord Nityananda, who are the expansions of the twelve primary cowherd boys, gopas, in Krishna lila) and sixty-four mahantas (64 Devotees that are considered to be the most confidential associates of Mahaprabhu) know you and sing your praises.
Hearing these words, Sridam went and got dressed. He dressed himself in a very enchanting way. The beauty of his hair, dress and cowherder’s paraphernalia was extremely attractive.
Soon the two of them approached Navadwip. When Sri Gauranga saw that they had arrived, He embraced Sridam and started talking to him. “Where have you been? What kind of bliss were you in that I had to send Nityananda to bring you here?!”
Sridam asked, “Tell me the reason for your appearance here. Why do you all have shaven heads and wear these rags. Seeing your condition breaks my heart.”
Mahaprabhu explained, “Sridam, with the end of Dwapara yuga, the influence of Kali began. In this age, renunciation is proper.” Sridam said, “I don’t understand. Please explain.” In the mood of Krishna, Mahaprabhu said, “There are four yugas, Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali. In Dwapara, Krishna is svayam Bhagavan. In Kali yuga, He incarnates as Sri Krishna Chaitanya. Now in the beginning of Kali yuga, I shall reveal this truth which is also mentioned in the sastras. You should know that my form as Krishna Chaitanya is the very same as my form of Krishna. Gaura-lila and Krishna lila are one. In Gaura-lila, I and my associates have assumed the role of Devotees and are relishing the mellows of love of Krishna. Now my name is Krishna Chaitanya and from today you will be known as Abhiram.
Nityananda Prabhu called everyone and smiling said, “From today, he will be known as Abhiram. We have kept this name since it indicates that there is no difference between Sridam and me. [Abhiram = to be known as “Rama”.]
After the disappearance of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda Prabhu, Abhiram Thakur continued to live with Virbhadra Gosai, Nityananda Prabhu’s son. By the grace of Nityananda Prabhu, Abhiram Thakur became a great Acharya and preacher of the Chaitanya cult of devotional service. It is said Abhiram Thakur had a whip named “Jaya Mangala” and that whomever he touched with it would immediately become a devout Krishna Bhakta.
Vande ‘ham sri sri gopinath mahaprabhur vijayate
Yatraabhiraamo mahaan goswami sri yuta paadakamalam
Maalini sahitam shaktyaavataaram sahagana-charanaambuje
Sadaa sharanam iti
Obeisances to Sri Sri Gopinath (the worshipful Deity of Sri Abhiram Thakur)
All glories to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu!
May I always meditate on the lotus feet of the great Abhiram Goswami,
The empowered incarnation, along with his spouse Malini and other associates
Again and again I take shelter of their lotus feet