Varanasi-A JOURNEY IN SEARCH OF ETERNITY
Varanasi is the city which has inspired the mankind for centuries, the devotional way of achieving salvation and liberation. The city has a cosmic energy and a magnetic force that drives people from various corners of the world in search of self introspection, spirituality and mysticism. I am not born in Varanasi, but have always felt that my soul shares a deep connection to this venerable city. It was my second visit on a weekend last month to this holy place after my first visit during school days more than a decade ago.
The city has given me the opportunity to experience tranquility and to explore the journey of human beings through present and the past in search of perpetual life beyond mortal frames.
Varanasi considered as abode of lord Shiva, is the oldest city of the world. According to archeologists, Varanasi is more than 3000 years old and is situated between the two tributaries of the Ganges-Varuna to the north and Asi to the south The place is also known as Benares or Kashi. According to Hindu mythology the tip of the trishul of Lord Shiva is holding this city .It is only this supernatural power behind existence of this old civilization on earth. Scriptural text of Narada puran depicts kashi magnanimity as:
“Kashi pradakshina yen krita trailokya pabani,saptadipa, saptashaila kritaten pradakshina”
The circumambulation of kashi showers a person with blessings from god equivalent to the blessings that is showered by almighty to a person who revolves the seven islands, seven ocean and seven mountain ranges of this universe.The essence of beautiful morning in the spiritual city invokes by the Shiva bhajans before
“Namami gange tava pada pankajam sura surey bandi dulaybetam bhuktim cha muktim cha dadasinityam bhabani savena sada naranam”
It means, o mother Ganges I bow down to your lotus feet, Shower me with the grace of devotion and liberate me as you have liberated the human race for centuries.
According to Hindu belief , submergence in holy Ganges washes away all sin and mundane sufferings. The ghats on the bank of river Ganga are pilgrimage places of rights, rituals and centre of music and learning. One can enjoy a boat ride along the banks of river Ganga to see the attractions of various ghats.
The famous ghats include Dasaswmedh ghat, Panchaganga ghat, manikarnika ghat, and harishchandra ghat. Manikarnika and harishchandra ghats are places where the flames from the burning pyre are seen although out day and night. Manikarnika ghat is considered liberation place of kashi .According to Hindu mythology, goddess Shiva promised lord Vishnu that, those people whose last rights will be performed in the burning pyre of manikarnika will get himself released from the cycle of birth and death and would be blessed with instant passport to heaven. It is therefore believed auspicious if someone dies in this city or his last rites are performed in burning pyre of manikarnika. Many dead bodies come for cremation from various parts of the country and across the globe to the manikarnika.The flames rising from these burning pyres remind the insignificance of all temporal earthly pleasures and enable us to reevaluate life and search for its meaning and happiness.
Varanasi is also known as city of temples. Vishwanath temple one among the 12 jyotirlinga is the most auspicious place for Hindus. The temple was destroyed in various invasions and was rebuilt by Rani Ahaliyabai of Indore in 1777 A.D.It is believed that worship of Shiva with’Bel pallab’(the sacred wood apple leaves) ,milk and sacred Ganga water leads to peace and blessings from the lord. The Annapurna Temple is very close to vishwanath temple.
Varanasi -The mystic city has been the epitome of spiritualism and philosophy for thousands of years.It has produced many great saints and personalities.One can learn good lesson of yoga and meditation to rejuvinate life from a good yoga expert .Yoga and meditation relaxes the mind,purifies the body and energies the spirit to awaken the divine.It is awesome experience to learn yoga and meditation .
Varanasi is also well known for Banarasi sarees,which make an intregal part of indian marriages.Banarasi sarees are considered the ideal bridal wear for indian brides.The history of banarasi sarees dates back to mughal era,when the craze for banarasi sarees reached the zenith of success.The glamour and ethnic look of indian costumes are reflected in bride when she is clad in intricately designed banarasi sarees.There are various manufacturing and production unit for weaving banarasi sarees.
Just before the sunsets,one can visit the markets to enjoy shopping and walking to reach the main ghats. The main ghats are around the Dasaswamedh ghat, which is one of the oldest and holiest ghats. The evening boat ride on Ganges is the best way to catch the essence of the incredible ceremony of ganga arati.This auspicious ceremony is performed by tweleve venerable young brahmins (preists of sanskrit mahavishva vidyalaya)through the five elements that made life possible on this earth.The ceremony starts with blowing of conch and ringing of bells followed by recitation of vedic mantras and arati songs dedicated to mother ganges and lord shiva.The sound echo through the waves of river ganga ,creating a mesmerising atmosphere ,full of devotion to that ultimate power vibrating the pulse of our life.I experienced my spirit blooming with fragnance of the incense sticks ,camphor and the ghee lamps.The simplicity,the devotion,the spiritualism that was reflecting in every serene expression from face to feet of the young brahmin preist during arati was uniting my soul to the glow of eternal spirit within them.It reminded me to the vedic text chanted by the monks at Ramakrishna temple .
“Brahmarpanam, Brahma havir, Brahmagnau,Brahmana hutam,Brahmaiva tena gantavyam, Brahma karma samadhinah”
Brahman is the oblation. Brahman is the ghee and other offerings. Brahman offers the oblation into the fire of Brahman. One who thus sees Brahman in action all the time will undoubtedly reach Brahman alone.
My mind was filled with a deep spiritual accomplishment trying to seek refuge in thy feet. I was searching my existence,my past and my future in the eternal life of the city. Time had come to return back to kolkata.There was sarrow of leaving the city because,i felt many things still remained unexplored,that my soul was searching to absorb and rediscover in the life of Varanasi.I can say, You will never get bored, there’s too much going on, and you will have unending things to learn quietly observing the daily life and rituals of the Ganges from sunrise to sunset .I prayed to Lord shiva to grace me with the oppurtunity of visiting Varanasi again.
Contributor – Paramangshu Chakraborty-HR Professional working in Kolkata. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, His earlier work on the theme of Bhagavad-gita appeared in Pentasect May issue.
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