Sree Kshetra Varanasi / Kashi
Vaaraanasi naadha manaadha naadham || Shree Vishwanatham Sharanam Prapadhye ||
వారాణసీ నాథమనాథనాథం శ్రీవిశ్వనాథం శరణం ప్రపద్యే.
“KAASHYAANTHU MARANAAN MUKTHIHI”
Kashi city is the place for Moksha and Ganga. Those who live here attain Mukti or Salvation, even without having to travel to any place of pilgrimage. Any one, be it a man, woman, young, old, Sahava, pure or impure, Prasuta, Aprasuta, Swadesh, Andaja, Udibhaja, of whatever caste, all attain Moksha. There is not an iota of doubt in this. Whatever a person may be doing, eat, sleep or anything else, if he departs from this world from Avimukteshwar, he definitely attains Moksha. Any small act of goodness or Punyakarya, takes away all the sins. Good as well as bad people are born on this earth. But by living in Kashi, both attain Moksha. Kashi is the ‘original ground’ created by Lord Shiva and Parvati. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Kashi kshetra is so great that even if the universe is to be destroyed in Pralaya, it would remain intact. It is a Divya kshetra. It is a land of Parama Paavana. It is a Pavitra punya kshetra. It is one of the Dwadasha Jyothirlinga kshetras and Ashtadasha Shakti peethas. Here Pujs are receiving by Lord Shiva as VISHWESHARA. Dandapani and Kalabhairav guard this city. They stay there forever. On the Ganga banks eighty four bathing ghats are located. There are also several Teerthkundas. They have been there right from the times of Vedas. Here, the two rivers VARUNA and ASI are meeting in Ganga river and hence this kshetra is named as VARANASI.
Varanasi is so old that it is a part of Indian mythology and finds mention in the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is also mentioned in Rigveda and Kashi Khanda of Skanda Purana. Lord Shiva mentioned this KShetra Mahatmya in one Shloka as “All the three lokas are my residence. Out of it, Varanasi is my Mandir”. Through the ages Varanasi was also known variously as “Avimuktaka”, “Anandakanana”, “Mahasmasana”, “Surandhana”, “Brahma Vardha”, “Sudarsana”, “Ramya” and “Kasi” or Kashi – ‘the City of Light”. The oldest living city in the world, Varanasi is the ultimate destination of all Hindu pilgrims searching for moksha from the cycle of birth and re-birth. The word ¡Kashi¢ originated from the word ¡Kas¢ which means to shine. Varanasi is said to be the point at which the first Jyotirlinga, the fiery pillar of light by which Shiva manifested his supremacy over other Gods, broke through the earth’s crust and flared towards the heavens. More than the Ghats and even the Ganga, the Shivalinga installed in the temple remains the devotional focus of Varanasi.
The Hindu devotees visit Kashi to make offering. Here they perform many rituals and consider themselves blessed. Along side, several foreign tourists visit this place regularly. Places worth seeing include Ghats, Temples, Tapobhoomi and the scenic beauty of the surroundings. Kashi Kshetra and Sri Vishweswara Jyotirlinga are connected as the holiest shrines in the world. The Temple has been visited by all great saints- Adi Shankaracharya, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekanand, Goswami Tulsidas, Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati, Gurunanak and several other spiritual personalities. . It is the oldest center of learning and the University here is still widely respected for its Sanskrit, Philosophy, and Arts faculties.
JYOTHIRLINGA OF VARANASI
Dying in Kashi or performing the final rites is considered as the way to the Heavens. Kashi – Rameshwar(1) yatra is the prime pilgrimage for the Hindus. Varanasi is the first among the Dwadasa (12) Jyotirlinga kshetras and one among the Ashthadasa(18) shakthi peethas.
Matha Annapurna Devi or Visalakshi represent the Shakti Peetham here. Visalaskhi is a version of the Devi who is wide eyed(Visala means wide). In olden days people used to say “Kanchi Kamatchi, Madurai Meenakshi, Kaasi Visaalakshi, Malayala Bhagavathy darshanam MokshaKaaranam”.
RIVER GANGA OF VARANASI
Gangecha Yamune chaiva || Godavari Saraswathi||
Narmade Sindhu Kaveri|| Jalesmin Sannidhim kuru ||
The scriptures have given Agra thamboola(top priority) for the river Ganga. Ganga river sparsha is parama paavana, Punya prasada.
The Ganga water here is considered as the nectar of the earth. Kashi is mentioned repeatedly in the scriptures – the Brahmanas, Upanishads and the Puranas. , This is the first place where Ganga flows northwards. This is considered auspicious and that is why the city has a special place in the hearts of devotees. In its whole course In Hindu mythology, it is believed that bathing in the river Ganga causes the remission of sins and facilitates the attainment of salvation or nirvana. This deep-rooted truth is proved by the fact that people travel from distant places to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganga at Varanasi or other places located on the banks of this holy river.
Ganga aarathi is performed every day in the evening to the river Ganga at 6.00 p.m. It is a pray to Ganga ma with different types of Harathis. Many devotees will attend the Harathi programme with divine feelings.
Important temples/places to Visit in Varanasi kshetra:
Buddhist temples, vindhyachal, varahi temple, kalabhairava temple, vyasa kashi, sankat mochan hanuman temple, tulsi manasa temple, viswanath temple, vishalakshi temple, annapurna temple, sakshi ganapathi, dhundi ganapathi, Adi Keshavalaya, Mukti mandapa, durga temple, Banaras Hindu University, Birla Mandir.
Few Important Shiv lingas in Varanasi
Vishweswara-Near Dasaswamedha Ghat, Mangaleshwara, Parameshwara, Atma Vishweswara-Samktya Ghat, Kukkuteshwara, Tri parameshwara -Durga Kund, Kala Madhava-Kath ki Haveli, Prayageshwara-Dashaswamedha Ghat, Angarakeshwara,Anganeshwara, Upasthaneshwara-Ganesh Ghat, Kedareshwara-Kedar Ghat, Neelakantheshwara-Neelakantha, Omkareshwara-Chittanpura, Shri Maha mrutyunjaya-Maidagin, Sukreshwara-Kalika Gali.
Various Ghats of Kasi kshetra:
There are number of temples on the bank of the Ganga river in Varanasi. It is believed that people are cleansed physically, mentally and spiritually at Ganga Ghats. It is at the Ganga Ghats where we see life and death together. For thousands of years people have been thronging these Ghats to offer their morning prayers to the rising sun. There are many Ghats along side Ganga in Varanasi. Some of the prominent and popular Ghats at Varanasi are the Dasaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Kabir Ghat, Pancha Ganga ghat, Kedar ghat, Narada Ghat and Assi Ghat.
Ghats of Varanasi are regarded as the holiest pilgrimage places in the city of Varanasi. There are almost 84 ghats here that are visited by pilgrims who crowd the place to take a dip in the holy Ganges in order to wash off all their sins. According to the Hindu mythology, Varanasi liberates soul from human body to the ultimate. It is thus believed that by bathing in these ghats one can get rid of the cycle of birth and death.Many people come and stay here in their last days of life. The three most important ghats are Manikarnika, Dasaswamedh and Panch-Ganga. To bath at these three ghats is called Tri-Tirtha Yatra. Also important are Assi Sangam and Varuna Sangam. To bathe in these five places is call Panch-Tirtha Yatra. Machine boats and ordinary boats are available to have Ghat Sandarshan.
KALA BHAIRAVA TEMPLE:
Kshetra paalaka of Kashi kshetra is Kaalabhairava. KAAL BHAIRAV (KAAL) IS THE GOD OF DEATH IN KASHI. LORD SHIVA HIMSELF HAS GIVEN THIS BOON TO HIM THAT EVEN DEATH, WOULD BE AFRAID OF KALL BHAIRAV. BHAIRAV IS A MANIFESTATION OF SHIVA’S TERRIBLE ASPECT. KAAL BHAIRAV IS ALSO KNOWN AS AAMARDHAK, AND PAAP BHAKSHAN (DEVOURER OF SINS). MERE DARSHAN OF LORD BHAIRAVA OF KASHI GIVES FREEDOM FROM FEAR AND DESTROYS THE SINS COMMITED IN EARLIER BIRTHS. WITHOUT THE WORSHIP OF KAAL BHAIRAV WHILE IN KASHI, EVEN LORD VISHWESHWARA CAN NOT REMOVE ONE’S MISERIES.
KASHI THREAD (KASHI DAARAS) ARE KEEPING AT THE FEET OF THE KALABHAIRAVA AND PERFORMING THE PUJA TO KALABHAIRAVA AND GIVING BACK TO THE PILIGRIMS. THE PERSON WILL GET RELIEF FROM ALL THE SINS AND IT IS A POWER OF LORD SHIVA AND KALABHIARAVA TO THE PERSON WHO WEAR IT. EVEN DEATH/GHOSTS WILL FEAR ABOUT THAT PERSON AND WON’T SEE THE SHADOW OF THAT CONCERNED PERSON BY THE GHOSTS. THEIR DESIRES WILL BE FULLFILLED.
Sree Guru Nrusimha Saraswathy Swamy (The second incarnation of Lord Dattatreya)
Varanasi is a famous piligramage to attain Mukti and to clear all the sins of previous and present births. Many Yogis and Rushis are still visiting the Kshetra and doing sadhana very secretly. Varanasi is the capital of Lord Shiva. There is a real talk that Eshwara is visiting the kshetra every day and clearing all the sins of the yatra visitors. Many people are going to Kashi kshetra to stay there at their last days. Apart from that Varanasi is a powerful Shova kshetra, it is also a Datta kshetra. The second incarnation of Lord Dattatreya… Sri Nrusimha Saraswathy swamy went to Kasi kshetra and took Sanyaasa deeksha there from his Guru Sri Krishna Saraswathy swamy. It is also believed that Lord Datta comes to take a holy dip in River Ganges everyday purifying her.
Here, the Dattatreya math (A residence of Ascetics) is situated on the Narad ghat. The connected tradition members of Shri Nrusinha Sarasvati Swamy who still live here have the surname, Kale. Later, the name Kale was changed to Kaliya. Even today a garden and a lane named Kaliya exist here.
In addition to Dattatreya Mutt at Narada Ghat, Dattatreya mandirs are also there in several ghats.
Rituals to Departed souls:
Many devotees are visiting this Kshetra to perform some rituals like Pinda pradana, Maasikas, Thidhis, Samvatsareeka, Asti Nimajjana etc to their related departed souls. They immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganga at Varanasi or other places located on the banks of this holy river with a belief that their kin will get Swarga Loka Prapti. Many Pujaris are there in this kshetra to perform such rituals in a traditional way.
Contact details: Sri Gabbeta Srinivasa Sastry, Ph:09014411114
Conveyanace to Varanasi Kshetra:
Varanasi is well connected and accessible to major Indian cities and tourist spots. There are daily domestic flights to and from Varanasi to several cities in India. Apart from the state owned Indian Airlines, there are many private Air operators that offer their services from Varanasi to other Indian cities. In fact, the daily flights on Delhi-Agra-Khajuraho-Varanasi route are quite popular among the tourists. Local taxis are available to reach Varanasi local from Varanasi Airport.
Since Varanasi lies in the heartland of the North Indian plains, it is well connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other parts of India. There are two railway stations in Varanasi, the Kashi Junction and the Varanasi Junction (also known as Varanasi Cantonment). Rajdhani Express from Delhi or from Calcutta passes through Varanasi too. One can also catch trains from Mughalsarai, just 10 km south of Varanasi.
Situated in the flat Ganga plains, Varanasi has a good network of roads. Frequent public and private buses and road transport to all the major towns of Uttar Pradesh and nearby areas.
Lord Vishwanath Temple timings:
The Temple opens daily at 2.30a.m. in Mangala Aarati 3 to 4 a.m. ticket holders are permitted to join. From 4 to 11 a.m. general Darshan is allowed. 11.30 to 12 a.m. mid day Bhog Aarati is done. Again 12 noon to 7 p.m. devotees are free to have darshan. From 7 to 8.30 p.m. evening Sapta Rishi Aarati is done after which darshan is again possible up to till 9 p.m. when Shringar/Bhog Aarati starts. After 9 p.m. Darshan from out side only is possidle. Shayana Aartis starts at 10.30p.m.The Temple closes at 11p.m.
Many private lodges are providing the lodging facilities. 3 star and 5 star hotels are also providing luxurious accommodation to the devotees who are visiting this kshetra. Some charitable institutions are also providing the lodging and boarding facilities and also some institutions are providing the accommodation on communal base. Andhra ashram is providing the accommodation for stay purpose. Karivena Annadana satra is providing the accommodation to Brahman community only. Karivena Nitya Annadana satra is offering lunch and dinner to the Brahman devotees freely. Recently Shree Gayathri Sevasramam was opened by Shri Kopparapu Padmanabha Sharma and offering the accommodation at a reasonable price.
Shri Gayatri Sevashramam, Beside Sheetal devi mandir, Dasaashwamedha Ghat, Varanasi ,Ph:09505652720, 9000844212
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