Ayodhya ‘Mahatmya’ and the Import of ‘Tirthas’ around

Bhagavan Vishnu’s right foot thumb created Ganga and left foot thumb created Sarayu and thus both the Rivers are Sacred and bathings of these ‘Tirthas’ bestow purity of high merit and destroy the effect of evil deeds even of the intensity of the ‘Maha Patakas’ or the Great Sins.The origin of the word Ayodhya emerged from the amalgam of ‘Akar’standing for Brahma, ‘Yakar’for Vishnu and ‘dhakar’ standing for Rudra. Ayodhya is the ‘Adipuri’of Lord Vishnu, also the abode of Sudarshana Chakra and as such the sin demolisher. The City has the shape of a fish ranging from Go-Prathara Tirtha in the West to ‘Asi’ Tirtha in the East. In the days of yore, there was a famous Brahmana by name Vishnu Sharma who did such Tapasya with great resolve and sacrifice for several years that finally Bhagavan appeared before him in His full Form and materialised a Holy Tirtha from His Chakra which was named Chakra Tirtha. Persons doing bath, worship and charity at this Sacred Tirtha are believed to enjoy long and happy life and after termination of life achieve Mukti. Lord Brahma decided to visit Ayodhya once and materialised a vast Tirtha, named after Him ie. Brahma Kunda, and said that He would reside there for good. Sage Lomesh did his bathing in the Runa Vimochan Tirtha and declared that the waters possess the great quality of ‘runa vimochana’ or getting rid of debts of the current and previous births. Not far from Brahma Kunda is a Papa Vimochan Tirtha where a Brahmana named Narahari who became a victim of bad company and performed several great sins including cursing the Vedas; but luckily he met a few Sadhus visiting Ayodhya once and along with them performed Snaan, Puja and Daan in the name of Narayana on a special day of Magha Krishna Chaturdasi and all his sins were washed out since he was basically a Brahmana who fell a prey to wrong actions. There was also a Tirtha which had the history of Shri Ram disowning Lakshman due to certain peculiar circumstances; Shri Ram instructed Lakshman to guard the main entry and who ever entered would be punished since the former and Kaala Devata were meditating together on Deva Karya (a certain task of Devas) and were not to be disturbed. But Sage Durvasa arrived and pressurised Lakshman to inform Rama of his arrival and Laxman had to be punished of being disowned. The forsaken Lakshman did severe Tapasya to Parameswara to absolve the indiscretion that he had done due to Durvasa’s unexpected entry. This made ‘Seshanag’ (whose Avatar was Lakshmana) appear and the exraodinary radiance and heat of the jewels of the thousand hoods of Seshanag pierced through the banks of Sarayu River and up came a Sahasradhara Tirtha. Indra and Devas also appeared and the indiscretion of Laksmana due to circumstances beyond his control was pardoned. Such is the power of the Tirtha that even Lakshman’s blunders were pardoned and devotees performing ‘Snaan’, ‘Puja’ and ‘Daan’ in the name of Seshanag (Naga Puja) especially in Vaisakha Month would never bother the fear of Snakes. Away from Sahasradhara Tirtha is Swargadwara as the name indicates the Tirtha is expected to have the nearest acesss to Swarga where devotees perform sacred tasks for a month including fasting, Japas, tapas, havans, dhyanas, Adhyayanas (Studies of Sacred Books) and Danaas including Godaanas, Bhu daanas, Vastra danaas, etc. Popularly believed as the abode of Siva, Shri Rama along with His younger brothers was in the habit of frequenting the Tirtha not only to review the good deeds of Brahmanas but all human beings, animals, birds and even the smallest flies for granting boons to each and everybody.Chandrahari Tirtha is named after Chandrahari or Bhagavan Vishnu and following ‘Snaan’ at the Tirtha, devotees observe Chandrahari Vrata on Purnima in the Month with Daan, Vrata Puja and homam. After eighty three years four months on Purnimasi day, the Vrata’s ‘Udyapan’ is performed on the completion of Sahasra Chandra Darshana .The Udyapan includes Pujas of Ganesha, Vishnu, Gauri, Siva, Sixteen Matrikas, Chandra Homa, Chandra Mantra Japa, Soma Sukta, Chandra nyasa, Kalaanyasa, Arghya Mantra in favour of Chandra, Daan of Sixteen Kalasas full of milk, Vastra Daan, Dakshina and ‘Bhojan’.On the following day, ‘punah puja’(Puja again) is performed again to Srihari. Completion of the Function accordingly would reserve a prominent Place to the devotee in Chandra Loka, at the end of his life.To the Agneya direction of Chandrahari Tirtha is situated Dharmahari Tirtha which was set up by an      erudite Brahmana who was well read in Vedas and visited Ayodhya the abode of Bhagavan Vishnu.He was highly thrilled to have a darshan of Bhagavan who was immensely pleased by the devotee’s eulogy and gave the boon of manifesting Himself in form of an Idol as Dharmahari at the Place where He appeared before the Brahmana and assured that in future, whosoever took the ‘Snaan’ at Swargadwar Tirtha and performed penance, Puja, and charities would be blessed and become sin-free. To South of Dharmahari, is situated ‘Swarnakhani Tirtha’ where Lord Kubera showered gold rain in Ayodhya to please King Raghu. The King completed ‘Vishva Digvijaya’ Yagna and since then Snaans at the Tirtha on Vaisakha Sukla Dwadashi would fulfill their desires including possesion of immense Gold and prosperity. Sambheda Tirtha is known as ‘Tilodaki’where the water too has the colour of Black Til and is used for ‘Pitru Tarpanas’ with black Til ie. Sesamum Seeds. Tarpanas on Bhadrapada Krishna Amavasya would help relieve the travails of Pitras and the sins of their seven generations get burnt off with the worship of Narayana. To the West of the Sambheda Tirtha, is the Sita Kunda which was set up by Sita Herself. Guptahari was the Place in Ayodhya where Lord Vishnu stayed without the knowledge of Asuras who were creating havoc in Bhuloka; Devas and Bhagavan Shankar approached the Lord who assured that He would execute Tapasya for the security of Devas and annihilate them by taking the Avatar of Sri Rama. After taking Snaan at Guptahari, devotees pay respects at Chakrahari Tirtha perform Japas and Homas and proceed further to Gopratara ghat of Saruyu Sangam on Margasirsha Sukla Dwadasi for Sacred baths. In Sarayu and Dadhra Sangam, there are ten crores of Tirthas where devotes offer Pitra Tarpans and Daans as per individual capacities and inclinations.The auspicious days as considered by devotees for rituals, homas, Daanas etc. all along the banks of Sarayu River include Amavasya, Purnimas, Dwadashi Tithis,‘Ayana’change days, ‘Vyaktipaathayoga’ days (as per individual horoscopes) etc. Just as Manikarnika is most Sacred at Kasi, Chakra Tirtha at Naimisha Forest and Mahakaal Mandir at Ujjain, Gopratara Tirtha is the most significant at Ayodhya as that was the Place of ‘Parama Gaman’ (Great Departure) of Lord Sri Rama. Besides the above, there are other important Tirthas like Ksheerodak Tirtha (where King Dasarath performed ‘Putra Kameshthi’ or Yagna aiming at begetting children and devotees execute ‘Vratas’on Aswin Shukla Ekadashi); Brihaspati Kund (the abode of Deva Guru Brisahpati); Rukmini Kund (which was constructed by Devi Rukmini and Lord Krishna too stays in the Tirtha and devotees perform Vaishnava Mantra Homa, Brahmana Puja and ‘Krishna Archana’on Kartika Krishna Navami and observe annual Yatra or Procession with great pomp); Dhana Yaksha Yagna where King Harischandra donated his entire Kingdom to Sage Viswamitra who entrusted the responsibility of giving security to the Kingdom by one Yaksha; Vasishtha Kunda (where Sage Vasishtha and his wife Maha Pativrata Devi Arundhati stay and bless devotees); Yogini Kund (where sixty four Yoginis reside and provide ‘Sidhis’to men and women); Urvashi Kund (where those males who bathe desirous of getting access to Swarga) and Ghoshaarka Kund (where King Ghosh did severe Tapasya to Surya Deva and devotees bathing and worshipping Him on Sundays bestows good health and contentment. One of the most distinct and popular Places in the vicinity of Ayodhya is Gaya Kupa where ‘Shraddahas’to Pitras are performed not only to relieve the ancestors from their miseries and experiences of Narakaloka (hells) but also seek the blessings of Devas and Rishis; Somavati Amavasya is the day when the Shraddhas offered to Pitras are most fruitful but the ‘Pitra Karyas’ (The Acts addressed to ancestors) on the specific Tithi (day when the concerned ancestor passed away) are equally significant. As a last resort, such ‘Karyas’performed on any day visiting Gaya Kshetra are also stated important, since Shraddhas offered would help provide respite to the Souls of the deceased. Manasa Tirtha is known for ‘Piscacha Vimochana’ as Snaan and Daan on Agahana Sukla Chaturdasi ensure that never in births ahead would become a Piscacha. As Sri Rama stood for seven noble features, Seven Noble Tirthas emerged viz. Satya Tirtha, Kshama Tirtha, Sarva bhuta daya Tirtha, Indriyanigraha Tirtha, Satyavaadita Tirtha, Jnana Tirtha and Tapas Tirtha. Ayodhya is also famous for Sri Rama Janma Sthaan where Sri Rama Navami Celebrations are at peak in the City.

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham

Kamakoti.org presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by
V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager,
India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India
The author can be contacted at raovdn@yahoo.co.in