Saturday 29 December 2012

The place where the Vedas were divided and Puranas written

It is a small town in the most populous State of India. Though it is near the State capital of Lucknow, it is not on any tourist map. Yet, if Hindu mythology is to be believed it is perhaps one of the most important places.
This is the place where the Puranas came to be written and the Vedas came to be divided. It is also the place of the deep well of Vishnu which has immense religious significance. This town is also one of the 108 Divya Desams of Vishnu and revered by the twelve saint poets called Alwars.
This is the town of Naimisaranyam or Naimisaranya also called Nimsar. It is located at the junction of the roads from Sitapur and Khairabad. It is 32 km from Sitapur and 42 km from the Sandila railway station and just 45 miles north of Lucknow.
The town is on the left bank of  the river Gomati. This is the place where the Visnhu Chakra created the highly revered well called Chakra Kunda. Every new moon day, a large number of people gather at the well and purify themselves with a dip. If the new moon falls Monday, it is believed that a holy bath in the well and offering to the presiding deity Lalitha will wash away all the sins committed in the lifetime.
According to Puranas, our Gods chose this place on Earth to establish Dharma. Their plan to spread Dharma on Earth went awry as a demon called  Vrittrasur was proving to be a major hurdle.
The Gods then requested Maharshi Dadhichi to give his bones to them so that they could create a weapon to kill the demon. The demon was finally killed.
To honor the sage, a festival is held every Phalguna and it is known as Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama.
As the Srimad Bhagavatam was narrated here, it is said that a pilgrimage to Badrinath and Kedarnath is incomplete without a visit to Naimisaranya. The Mahabharata itself says “Anyone who fasts, prays, and attains perfection at Naimisaranya finds happiness in all the worlds”.
There is another legend about this place. When Brahma contemplated a great wheel that would span the entire universe, the wheel’s center was at “Naimisaranya”.
The Puranas say that Naimisaranya has a parikrama (circumambulation) path of 16 kms, in which all the sacred places in India are located.
Rama, Balarama, Dadhuchi Muni, the Pandavas, Shankaracharya,  Ramanujacharya and several other saints of all beliefs and religious orders have come and visited the sacred spots here.
The Pandavas came here when they were in exile. Rama  performed sacrifice here for killing Ravana, a Brahmin.
The Chakra Kunda or Chakra Tirtha is a deep well whose depth has not been found out. When the Kali Yuga was about to commence, 80,000 sages headed by Saunaka Rishi approached Brahma and told him to identify the spot where they should hold the Yagna to ward off the evil effects of the Kali Yuga.
Thus at the end of the Dwapara Yuga and the beginning of the  Kali Yuga, Brahma released his Manonmaya Chakra to ascertain the impact of the impending Time. The Chakra travelled all around  the Earth and it finally came to a stop here.
Brahma then  prescribed the circumference or the ‘nemi’ of that zone, fit for Yagnas which were performed for ten thousand years even as he carried on the process of creation. Since the midpoint of the Chaka was here, Brahma declared this to be the center of the Earth
The Chakra Tirtha has no end. The British wanted to disprove this and they sank a cable for more than 1,000 metres (3300 feet) but they did not find the depth. They gave up.
Near the Tirtha is the Vyasa Gaddi. It is at this spot where  Veda Vyasa (Narayana), the author of Mahabharata is said to have divided the Vedas into four parts and also written the Puranas.
Locals point to a huge Banyan tree here which is said to be over 5,000 years old. They say this is the precise place where Vyasa sat and wrote the Puranas.
There are many places in and around the town, each with its own share of history, mythology and religion.
There is a temple of Hanuman with the idol of Ram and Lakshmana on his shoulders. It is said that Hanuman brought out Rama and Lakshmana from Patala Loka at this very spot.
There is a deity of Vyasa and the Pandavas in the temple.
The Hanuman Temple has a strange custom. Pilgrims buy sweets and put them in his mouth.
Other places to visit are the Suta Gaddi where the sage Suta Goswami sat while instructing other sages 5,000 years ago. He spoke about Srimad Bhagavat Geeta here. Ugrashravas, also Ugrasravas, Suta or Suta Goswami is the narrator of several Puranas, including Mahabharata, Bhagavath Purana, Harivamsa, and Padma Purana.
He narrated all these before a gathering of  sages here. Suta was the son of Lomaharshana and a disciple of  Veda Vyasa, the author of Mahābhārata. Ugrasrava belonged to the Suta caste, who were typically the bards of Puranic literature.
The entire Mahābhārata epic is structured as a dialogue between Ugrasrava Sauti or Suta -the narrator and sage Saunaka-the listener. The narration (Bharata) of the history of Bharata kings by sage Vaisampayana to the Kuru king Janamejaya was embedded within this narration of  Ugrasrava Sauti.
Vaisampayana’s narration (Jaya) in turn contains the narration of Kurukshetra war by Sanjaya to King Dhritarashtra. Thus the epic has as a story within a story.
There is also the Narada Deva Temple with 108 altars and the 1008 Sivalinga Temple containing copies of the four Vedas and Puranas, including Srimad Bhagavata (Bhagavat Purana). The Shiva temple here is also unique. The eyes of Shiva looking east in the morning and west in the evenings. The presiding deity of the town, Lalita Devi, has a temple around the Chakra Tirtha.
The best place to stay is either Lucknow or Sitapur. There are regular buses and taxis from Lucknow and Sitapur. If you want to visit all the holy places here, it is better to engage the services of a local guide. A smattering of Hindi will help as the guides and locals generally do not know any other language.

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