Wednesday 2 January 2013

The place where Krishna studied

It has been known as a centre of education for several centuries so much so that even during the period the Mahabharata it was a centre of excellence. It was here that Krishna and his brother studied along with their close friend Sudhama.
Over the next few centuries, it emerged as a major city during the period of the Mauryas, Guptas and others. India’s greatest Emperor, Ashoka, stayed here as did the Gupta emperors Chandragupta Vikramadita and his father Samudragupta.
This is also the place where India’s best astronomers and mathematicans composed their works. It was also the home of India’s greatest literary figure, Kalidasa.
However, its glory faded with the advent of Muslim rulers and today this city is a pale shadow of its once glorious past.  
Today, the remnants of the ashrama where Krishna studied still exists. It is one of the most important places in the area of the city known as Ujjain 
During the Mahabharata period, this place was well-known for imparting education. Lord Krishna and his brother Balarama and of course Sudhama studied in the ashrama of  the sage Sandipana or Sandipana here.
The Sandapani ashram is a must see spot in Ujjain, which is full of legends. Krishna came here as a young boy along with his elder brother Balaram and persuaded Sandapani to accept them as his disciples.
There is a place in the Sandapani Ashrama where Krishna is supposed to have washed his writing tablets and also those belonging to his perceptor. This area is called Anka Patha. The numerals 1 to 100 are found inscribed on a stone by Sandapani.
When the time came for Krishna and others to go back home after they finished their education, they wanted to give Guru Dakshina to their preceptor. Krishna ensured that Sandapani got back his long lost son, Prabhasa.
Prabhasa had been taken away by Shankasura, a demon who lived in a conch.
There is an interesting story on how Sandapani came to Ujjain. The city was facing a severe famine and during one of the Kumba melas, Sandapani came here. The then king of Ujjain, Jayatasena, requested the help of Sandapani in getting over the famine.
The sage then prayed to Mahakaleshwar, the reigning deity of Ujjain and the famine subsided. Since them Sandapani settled in Ujjain and he also started his ashrama, whish soon became a major center of learning.  
Along with Krishna, the seer also trained the sons of Jayatsena.
It is believed that Krishna and Balarama learned Dhanurveda and Astras in just 64 days, elephant and horse training in 12 days and Vedas in 50 days. The Vidyasthali is the place where Krishna studied.
Another place in the ashrama is the Gomti Kund which is a stepped water tank.
This tank was believed to be the main source of water to the Ashramites during the time of Krishna, There is a beautiful  idol of Nandi near the Gomti Kund and it belongs to the Sunga period. The Sungas succeeded Maurayas to the Magadha Empire.
There is an interesting story about the origin of this tank.
Though Sandapani had settled down in Ujjain at the request of King Jayatsen, he could never forget the Gomati river where he used to bathe daily during Brahmi muhurta.
Though the Gomati was far off from Ujjain, the seer never gave up his daily ritual. Krishna decided to alleviate his teacher’s problem. In just a day, he dug  a pond and requested Gomati to come and stay there. Next day, by the time seer was going to bath, the Gomati Kund was ready.
Another important event connecting the Gomati kund to myths is about the origin of the Bhagavad Gita. One day, Shiva appeared beside the Gomati Kund as he wanted to see Krishna as a student.
Shiva called Krishna and taught him the essence of life, Gita.
It has the shrines of  Sandapani, Krishna, Balarama and Sudama. The shrine also houses the Samadhi of the sage. There are two temples on the ashram premises -the Kundeshwar Temple dedicated to Shiva.
This temple has an image of Vishnu on one wall representing Krishna, Sudama, Balaram and the other students on another wall. It also has an image of Kubera on another wall.
Ujjaini is so full of legends and myths that there is even one about the origin of its name. 
Ujjaini gets its name from the act of the churning of the ocean-Sagar Manthan. The river Kshipra that flows across Ujjain is regarded to have originated due to the churning of the ocean by the Gods and Goddesses. The ashrama is about 2 kms away from Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. It is less than 200 kms from Bhopal.

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