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7.24.2007

Jyotirlinga - Kasi Vishwanath, Varanasi

View location map of this temple!

Kasi-kshetrancha Kalabairava darsanam|
Prayaga madhavam Trushtva Yega Bilvam Sivarpanam||
Maha-Smsana Nilayam Prasanna Spadiga-prabavam|
Vedhacvam Jyothir Roopamcha Yega Bilvam Sivarpanam||

... Varanasyantu Vishwesam ...

The ancient city of Varanasi understands life in a different way from the rest of the world. The Ganges ever flowing sweeps the banks of this ancient city as she flows by. A city seeped in faith, aware that the only truth is death and reminds itself every time with every spec of ash that merges with the river, the essence of life leaves the body to return another day. This city has seen the soul depart every day with every burning pyre reminding us about the only truth that lies is the realm of Shiva.

While the mind dwells on the limitation of life, and witnesses its freedom along the burning ghats of the Ganges, as the ash merges into water, it presents a very different spectacle on the morning of Shivaratri.

As one rises up in the early hours of the morning, to make a visit to the Kasi Vishwanath temple, there is a strong possibility that you get run over by a clan of nagas visiting the Lord on this auspicious day. A river of ash clad naked men just gushes through the narrow street of Vishwanatha temple, and nothing except the Ganges can stop them. Its a different world, of Gods and saints, of a river of ash clad aspirants coming to life and suddenly disappearing into the darkness for another night of Shivaratri.

And then the path is open to us. To step in the direction of this ancient temple, to breath in the air that surrounds it, to imbibe the peace and tranquility it presents is a very different experience altogether. A series of small temples are located deep within the jungle of temples and mosques within this narrow street. And here within this small compound you find everybody. The heavend descend to earth to present its silent extravaganza.

The various shrines present within this complex are dedicated to Vishnu, Virupakshi Gauri, Avimukta Vinayaka along with a cluster of five Lingas that are enclosed inside another shrine chamber called Nilakanteshwar temple. Apart from them,Shanishchara and Virupaksha also are housed here. Interestingly there is a shrine chamber dedicated to Avimukteshwara Shiva, which has also been speculated to be the main Jyotir Linga at Kasi Vishwanath.

The main story goes that this temple was constructed by a brahmin called Divodas on the request of Nikumbha and Aunikumbha. This pleased the Lord and he granted a boon to all his devotees. Divodas wanted to have a son but he was not blessed with one. This enraged him and he went and destroyed the same temple he had built for the Lord. Nikumbha cursed the land and said it would be devoid of worshippers. When the land grew empty the Lord descended again and took residence here permanently. The Lord stands here as a Swayambhuvalinga. Parvathi offered food here to all her devotees and is known by the name of Annapoorni. The Lord Himself is seen with a bowl here, asking for annam from the seated Goddess.This is also a ShaktiPeetham as the Goddess's left hand fell here when her corpse was cut my Vishnu's Sudarshan chakra.

The Shiva Linga here is placed within a square shaped mettalic (silver/brass) pit. The Linga is of black stone. The Lord is worshipped and bathed with holy Ganges water and flowers are offered. The puja to the Lord for the day is complete when the Arti rises into the air and fills the chamber with song and light. Truly its a journey through life to heaven in a single visit to Kasi.















Photo courtesy: Liveindia.com

19 comments:

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

Hindu Mythology is all about in-depth understanding of illusory ‘Nature’ by the ancient ‘Hindus’ - like the present day apparent realization also, which although apparently is still to reach the Absolute Truth unlke the ancients - that the microcosm and macrocosm, both, are functioning similarly, such that the infinite universe is apparently working like a super computer; as also reflected by human brain. It was, however, expressed in different words that sound unfamiliar to us, because due to lack of knowledge and natural forces we generally believe that man is acting on his own as the head of the animal world, while even the powerful Heavenly Bodies or elements of ‘Nature’, believably are under the control of some super power…

They realized the Truth of the drama and stated, ‘Man is a model of the universe’. And, the present day man knows that models only help in visualization of the functioning of the prototype. They also realized the apparent infinite physical universe to be represented by the solar system as its essence or model. And, human form also to similarly represent the universe as a combination or addition of the essences of selected members of the solar system…Each physical form, although illusory, was realized to have three aspects of creation, sustenance and destruction – like models or reflections of the Formless Creator’s or Shiva's representation by the Trinity; Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh…

JC Joshi said...

The Hindu Mythology is about firm faith in the unborn and unending Nirakar or Formless as the omnipotent and omnipotent Creator.
And, all apparent physical forms are believed to be His Own Images that all are inferior - being of a transient nature. These are apparently undergoing changes with unending apparent time while existing in the infinite universe, that is, the Creator Himself for different life spans, for there is no escape from it...

These innumerable forms are believably serving some useful purpose to the Creator, which is not known to the physical forms. However, these are believably useful to His Images - that naturally are closer to Him - to reach the Formless that believably resides within each form, and to also inspire other relatively inferior forms to progressively improve with time, for all forms are attached to each other like links in a chain, and it is well known that the strength of a chain is determined by its weakest link...

This feature apparently gets reflected in animal forms always aspiring to accumulate knowledge with the passage of time…And man, being their leader, has to shoulder greater responsibility in the task…

The wise ancients - based on personal experience and realization - reached the conclusion that one should not take the ‘fruit of action’ for granted if one is interested in reaching the Formless, or the ‘Absolute Truth’…For example, as per historical record of the main features of exterior actions performed by him, Buddha believably reached ‘moksha’ at a certain age and his thoughts continue to inspire a large percentage of humans all over the world even today. It would perhaps, therefore, be foolish to believe that ritualistic copy of the publicized actions would also make all his followers to achieve ‘moksha’ or ‘salvation’, and so on, for no one, firstly, perhaps even knows what these words convey…Thus, unlike Divodas etc. cited by Kavitha, primarily one is supposed to have firm faith in any belief that one decides to follow to attain higher ‘spiritual’ level…

JC Joshi said...

The Hindu mythological story related with the churning of the ‘Kshirsagar’ or ‘milky ocean’, using Mandara Hills, (thus referring to the African Continent, which today also is realized as the root of the Homo sapiens, that is, the Modern man all over the world), and celestial serpent Vasuki for rope for the specific purpose by demons the selfish and devtas the selfless humans, in simple words describes the revolution of our Milky Way galaxy members around its centre, which is also ritually copied by members of our solar system (Mahashiva as the ‘satva’ or essence of the universe) and also by earth-moon (Shiva-Parvati, out of which moon believably is the original source of life-giving water on earth and therefore Parvati referred as ‘Annapoorni’ also) as an independent system that sustains the various life forms on earth, despite pollution, thanks to existence of poisonous serpents, including Nagas and even common men in human form…

‘Churning’, thus, communicates spinning of each member of the solar system around its own axis while also revolving around the sun, which is also reflected in human family as its model – as in the example of the 'dynastic rule' of Shiva as father, Parvati as mother and all rounder Ganesha as the child who represents Mars…The negative aspect is provided for through the ‘fast, physically powerful and angry’ Kartikeya-like son represented by Venus, who is also in reality a devta, by design, or selfless being that holds the majority of the poison (within the throat of Mahashiva) in its surface, and thus giving yet another name, Neelkantha, to Shiva…

JC Joshi said...

One could easily visualize Sun, in our solar system, to represent ‘Fire’. And also as one out of literally the ‘five ghosts’, the ‘Panchabhoota’. Or, as one of the five vital parts, or elements, that, is ‘Panchtatva’, of ‘Mahashiva’ that is, the solar system. The system is continuing since time immemorial or the remote ‘Past’, which in Sanskrit, is also expressed by the word ‘bhoot’...

Earth as an individual, that is Bhootnath, or the Lord of the Past, has fire in its heart or its core, in the form of molten rocks.

The story related with marriage of Shiva & Parvati indicates the evolution of moon from the core of earth - as it is accepted by scientists even today - that perhaps allowed underground water (that is, a relatively appreciable purer, or filtered water, or ‘Patal Ganga’) that was originally blocked behind the moon, within the earth or Adi Shiva (Ardhanarishwar) as the true physical model of the Formless in the beginning…

Thus, moon can be visualized as related to another vital element, ‘Water’. The air, together with earth’s atmosphere within which it is contained, could be visualized as ‘Air’ and ‘Sky’, respectively, also related with Mars and Moon respectively by the ancients.

Thus, in the night sky, Moon was visualized as reflecting the essence of the ‘Akash Ganga’ or teh Milky Way…

And, the ‘Hindus’, as well as river 'Indus', perhaps came to be known by the evolved language Sanskrit word for moon, that is, 'Indu', for they gave highest regard to moon, whose essence believably lies in the animal head…

Moon, as the ‘Mohini’ form of Vishnu - who ultimately rendered immortality to the demigods - is indicated as the final stage of evolutionary processes, or ‘churning’…And, the solar system is believed to be over 4 billion years in age today, and still going strong, unaffected by Modern Man's advancement that is leading to his own destruction, thus the relevance of Bhasmasur's story!

JC Joshi said...

Although it is difficult to visualize - realizing physical forms to be illusory or ‘mayavi’, like characters, or objects, in human dreams – the wise ancients advised one to remain unmoved by false external appearances/ births and disappearances/ deaths of physical forms, which according to them was just a part of the script of the drama, which was in reality being witnessed by the one and only immortal and Formless Bhootnath Shiva through the apparent innumerable eyes of the various characters in His thoughts, all views apparently different, for considering various possible view points within His Own mind - since apparent time immemorial, for He Himself is related with zero time!

JC Joshi said...

“Rome was not built in a day,” reflects the appearance of the essence of thoughts in human mind – believably as an imperfect model of perfect God Himself - in order to visualize the wonderful aspect of Creation by the (Formless) Creator of the ever changing physical universe, a perfect unending system, at any point of time since time immemorial…

The wise ancients who could manage to overcome ‘Maya’ that is illusion, or reach zero or no thoughts, however, believably realized that the one and only unending Formless, the real being that is a dot or ‘Nadbindu’ had done it in no time!

With the above in mind, the chain of questions that apparently obviously sometimes at any given point of time rises to every temporary body’s mind is: Who am I? Why am I subjected to cycles of duality of, say, pains and pleasures? And, so on…

The wise ancient seekers of Truth, or the Yogis - who were apparently allowed and also supported by the then existing human system to withdraw to isolated locations - apparently entering their own minds with zero thought, realized all physical forms to be Creator’s own images, a phenomenon that at any time, irrespective of Yuga concerned, gets reflected in the appearance of one’s own images in mirrors – a plain one reflecting near true image while ‘magical mirrors’ could show a variety of images of the same person depending on each mirror’s unique design even by 'imperfect man' today...

kavitha said...

Joshi Uncle

I have one question.... why has the formless Shiva been given so many names, some of which do not have mythology attached to them.

Though I understand that some of these names were composed in poetry under sheer devotion, i would believe they had a meaning associated with every name that suggested the character of this deity....

108 names to Lord Shiva or Vishnu... so many forms... am trying to understand the significance of it...Do they really exist in another form incapable of being witnessed by our senses in current state of evolution?

Regds
Kavitha

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha, When Roman Empire was at its peak, there was a popular saying, “All roads lead to Rome.”

The above essence could perhaps help in similarly visualizing only 108 names of the physical God, by humans as His models, therefore, say, 10% of 1080 names given to physical characters at the start of each Satyuga. The drama believably being witnessed by the Formless during each day in the unending life of Brahma, or Sun (as a part of physical Shiva that is Earth). Relative movements of Sun & Earth are reckoned by humans for determining apparent time, or a day), which believably occurs 1080 times in a cyclic form (rounded off to 1000 though in the stories). Satyuga believably starts from a perfect stage of the God with form to begin with afresh 1080 times and to end in 0% efficiency that many times...

All these physical forms are related with one and the same individual, i.e., the Formless Creator, Shiva/ Vishnu.

Perhaps duplicate or multiple roles of actors in cinema might also help in visualizing it. The actor, famous as Dilip Kumar (although itself a pseudonym), for example, played the roles of two characters, Ram & Shyam, in a film with the same name, that became popular at one time. Although the individual could remain the same, but he/ she can acquire different names, and also related different appearances and behaviours, and play different roles for some time as per a particular script...

Krishna, in the Gita, also says to the effect that everyone sees Him within oneself because of illusion while, in reality, the entire creation rests within Him…

The above might help to some extent...

JC Joshi said...

The problem in visualization of the Formless Creator’s possible infinite capacity is our negligible capacity to utilize our brain to its full capacity, thanks to ‘Mahakal’ the controller of apparent time...

It believably is part of a grand design related with Time in terms of unending cycles of Maha Yugas while human life-span, one century compared to billions of years, relatively is negligible. His overall capacity can still be appreciated from observation of the physical extent of the universe(s) and believing in the ultimate realization of the ancient wise Hindus that it is the job of one single ‘supreme being’ that is formless and yet capable of achieving anything that appears as ‘miraculous’ to us because of the human mind-set related with the Yuga concerned and any individual’s position in the hierarchy at any given time as per the design...In the recent times, for example, a Sikh girl who had lost her eye-sight regained it after eight years just by touching her forehead at the Gurudwara, The Golden Temple, at Amritsar, Punjab...Maybe, Dr. Anilji could give a 'scientific' explanation to the said incident...

JC Joshi said...

The essence, or ‘satva’, or ‘satya’ that is ‘Truth’ of human life is that it is mysterious, and perhaps, therefore, interesting and inspiring to the ‘seeker’ since time immemorial leading ancient man to believe Creator to ever remain mysterious as well as mischievous!

An up-to-date ‘scientist’ today perhaps can know almost everything about material content of whatever he has access to, on and around earth to a large distance even. But, when it comes to predicting how an individual close on hand, animal or man, would behave under a certain given circumstances, the ‘present day scientist’ would often fail. For example, as Anilji would know better, the same medicine prescribed for all persons with similar symptoms might not cure all…A physician told me, for example, how high fever accompanied by shivering in the past definitely indicated malaria, and quinine could be prescribed/ taken blindly. But, now similar symptoms appear in a few other diseases too, and one needs to perform certain other tests before one could arrive at the apparent cause. And, even if it is malaria, quinine might not work!

JC Joshi said...

In the early eighties, my father needed surgery, both for hernia as well as enlarged prostrate gland. Talking of mind-set, he had a firm belief that if operated upon he would die. In fact, he was afraid of the idea itself, that is of admission in a hospital, because in his days in British India, he had seen only serious patients in their last stages being admitted there, who therefore had a rare or no chance of survival.

Once earlier, he was even got admitted in a Govt. Hospital, but operations couldn’t be performed as he was noticed to have high blood pressure, which couldn’t be brought under control with medicines immediately, and therefore to his delight he was asked to take medicines and report later when his blood pressure was normal!

However, as the problems were causing him discomfort, he later submitted to undergoing those in a small private clinic near the residence.

Although, the operations were successful, within six months thereafter he left us 'for the heavenly abode' because of various complications arising - and symptomatically treated apparently successfully then - during the post operative period…

Similar to my father’s fear of hospital, a colleague’s father also wouldn’t get operated upon for stones in his kidney because of which he sometimes experienced excruciating pain. He was ‘lucky’ to receive some ‘bhabhoot’ that is some powder from a Yogi through one of his friends, and his stones were virtually crushed and passed out through his urine the next morning!

JC Joshi said...

Even if one is apparently securely seated within one’s abode, but in darkness, just a crackling sound in the courtyard, say, reaching his ears would alert him/ her…One would then consciously conjure up various images in his mind’s eye that could be associated with that sound – a cat, or a burglar, or even a leopard these days, and maybe a scary ghost; like in dreams, which however believably aren’t under one’s control and apparently result mainly from fear!

Just a candle light then comes in handy to satisfy oneself whether there is any cause for alarm or not…Similarly, firm belief in God, and the knowledge that animal life, in essence, anyway is temporary, apparently helps one to overcome ‘fear of the unknown’...

Krishna in the Gita also advises one, to the effect, to fear not the death of the mortal body as it was the indestructible component of Paramatma, the supreme knowledge, similarly seated within one, ‘in the dark’, that was more important…and, that he was ready to share knowledge with every and anyone, only if one showed the inclination…

JC Joshi said...

Krishna is referred as Yogiraja or the King of Yogis, that is, those who consciously or unconsciously attempt developing communication with the formless within the self through acquiring a thoughtless stage, or detachment with the exterior world through ‘tapasya’ or ‘meditation’, that is, a minimum thought stage to start with for step by step training of the five naturally provided physical senses in normal humans...

Maybe, as an example of Formless Creator/ ‘Nature’s’ mysterious hand one could cite the character of Surdas, the famous natural-blind poet and an ardent devotee of Krishna, (‘Neelamber’, or one who wears blue garments), in the past who believably used to see ‘Krishnaleela’, that is, the drama related with Krishna, in his mind’s eye...

And also today one could cite the example of famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking, who didn’t lose hope despite his suffering since adulthood from motor neurone disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, that progressively affects muscle movement - thanks to ‘the advancement in technology’ such that he continues to do research in Cosmology and also communicate with the external world using computers that simulate human speech while seated in a wheel-chair…

It is interesting to note that according to the ancient Hindus, nerves are related with essence of Shani or planet Saturn – associated with blue colour, direction west. And muscles are related with green colour, Hari/ Hara or Vishnu/ Shiva that is Earth, which is also referred as the Blue planet today…and Hindus considered Earth as the centre of the universe! An example of Maya or illusion?!

JC Joshi said...

As we have seen earlier also, the wise Hindus, or Yogis, that is, the temporary abodes of ‘elevated souls’, realized all physical forms as illusory images of the one and only Formless being that are being reviewed by It in apparent time, in 1080 cycles from apparent perfect physical form of Shiva/ Vishnu at the beginning of each cycle (Satyuga’s end) to his multiple imperfect images that progressively increase in numbers towards the end (Kaliyuga’s beginning) while decreasing in quality. One could, therefore, imagine each individual as a pyramid that is ‘fire within’, which houses the component of the supreme soul within it reflecting a particular level of efficiency, believably ranging between 0 & 25% of the original potential during Kaliyuga…which could be visualized by matching some character described in the mythological stories. "History repeats," thus even today there would be found individuals who would appear to reflect the characteristic property of some selfless character, such as King Harishchandra/ Lord Rama even, or selfish, say like Duryodhana/ Ravana!

JC Joshi said...

With the background belief of Hindu mythology of ‘Panchatatva’, ‘Panchabhoota’, & ‘Panchaparmeshwar’, etc. in mind, it would be noticed that a pyramid is also defined by five points; four at the base and one at the top. That is to say that the five points jointly together apparently result in trapping of some component of the cosmic energy within the material form of a pyramid...

To explain the variety in apparent human behaviours, the human figure also was perhaps visualized to be represented by combinations of essences of five different planets, out of total eight, that defined four of them as the ‘base’ and the fifth as the peak. Thus depending on what five essences, out of the believably eight different selected planets, have entered into the formation of a particular human body, the behaviour and elevation of each soul could perhaps be determined…and also means to improve one's efficiency suggested...

The ancient wiser astrologers appear to have commonly used the time of birth of an individual to determine a particular planet as one’s basic control, which in turn apparently determines the other three basic planets and the fifth one as the peak that all, together, define one’s range of influence and the elevation of the 'soul'…

JC Joshi said...

At least some of the stories indicate how astrology was once upon a time much advanced in ‘India that was Mahabharata’. Although Valmiki Ramayana was believably written before the birth of Rama, many sages reportedly could predict right after the birth of an individual what future had in store for one without the need for studying one’s genetic code, and fiddling with the concerned genes to modify one’s behaviour as is under consideration of the present day scientists…

The story about King Parikshit is often quoted. It was predicted by a sage that he would die because of snake-bite. And, despite being a King and all precautions that money could provide, the inevitable happened (as it apparently happens even today say, for example, in the case of Smt Indira Gandhi (INDU), although of course no one had apparently predicted it)…

There are many such stories, which could have been later exaggerated to a certain extent by ‘born brahmins’ - who were not ‘elevated souls’ to the extent of their forefathes at a relatively later stage, for, on account of ‘Time’ they lacked knowledge of the ‘Truth’ of the transient physical universe vis-à-vis the ’Absolute Truth’ of the one and only immortal Formless Creator reached by their ancestors…

In essence the ancients considered only our planet Earth the Provider (Shiva the Destroyer) to be the only true physical model of the Formless…and it therefore alone could believably provide material for improvement of human efficiency, as gets reflected in the use of gemstones, say, as one of the practices passed on through the long lost past – but without proper knowledge, (like the knowledge to use to its full capacity the super computer that human brain apparently is), perhaps because of lack of faith in the wise ancients and therefore continuing to consider man as the doer…

JC Joshi said...

Yes, of course, the ancients realized that man is the doer, but with a difference, for although he performs a variety of actions during one life time, he remains all the while under the control of a Supreme being, a reflection of which is apparent in humans operating a variety of machines apparently for different purposes in his day-to-day life…And, like he has different experts for operations and maintenance of these machines and faces different kinds of hassles in the tasks, he has other human forms or ‘specialists’ for similar purposes and teh related hazards…

In view of the above, the wise ancients did in-depth study to believably reach at the one and only 'Commander' (reflected in the use of word, 'Ajna Chakra'), or the ‘boss’…and they found earth in physical form to be that 'Person' named Shiva, while its driving force was realized to be its believable satellite, our beautiful Moon, or Indu!

It’s a scientific fact of relativity that both earth and moon revolve around each other, and in the pair, moon is the mysterious body while earth is like an open book – and Shiva believably is Bholanath while Parvati is teh woman behind the successful man, or rather God!

JC Joshi said...

Guru Purnima falls on a Sunday, 'the day of rest for Formless God' but not for Krishna the God in human form!

Although the Hindu mythology cryptically indicates it through the story of Shiva-Parvati marriage, through the present day scientists also we have come to learn that moon had perhaps evolved from earth itself, or in other words, from earth-moon, which in the words of the ancient Hindus was called Adi Shiva or Ardhanarishwar Shiva with His original abode at Kashi that is Varanasi…

Also, eliminating the water in the seas, one could perhaps visualize the present day earth (evolved Shiva) as the ‘forbidden fruit’ or the apple that Adam (partially) ate in the ‘Garden of Eden’. Despite being forewarned by the Creator he succumbed to the temptation by accepting it from Eve, his own better half carved out from his own rib by the Creator, for alone - unlike a Yogi/ Brahmachari - he had soon got bored in the apparently beautiful earth!

It is perhaps an indication that mythological stories communicate the History of the Formless Creator reflected through apparent variety of physical forms in which man also is one of the instruments for communicating it!

Anonymous said...

Help please.
I visited India when i was younger.
I visited several different Temples.
I heard one, accurately predicted movement of the earth poles, and seasons etc, hundreds of years before scientists did? Can anyone supply me with links, or/ and info on this please?