Nasik, Shirdi, Shani Shingapura, Triambikeshwara

Nasik: Basically Nasik and Panchavati are the same since the southern side of River Godavari is Nasik and the northern banks of Godavari is called Panchavati. On both the sides of Godavari are Temples and Tirthas. Again it is easy to identify the Tirthas on Godavari banks and at Tapodhana. On the Southern side of Govavari are Rama Kunda, Sita Kunda, Lakshman Kunda, Dhanush Kunda, Hanuman Kunda and so on. Among Deva Mandirs are of Kapaleshwar, Kaala Ram etc. On the Panchavati side are Five Vata Vrikhas, Sita Cave, and Mandirs of Sharada Chandramouleshwar, Sundara Narayana, Rameshrara, Uma Maheshwara, Neela Kantheshwara, Pancha Ratneshwara, Goraarama, Muralidhara, Tila bhandeshwara, and Bhadra Kaali. At Tapovana some half km. from Panchavati, is the sangaa of Godavri and Kapila Tirtha and Kapila Maharshi Ashram, besides eight other Tirthas naned Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Agni, Sita, Mukti, Kapila and Sangama. Bya a few km. away from Nasik are Tirthas named Gangapura prapaat, and Sita Sarovara; Dakali Village where Bhakta Samartha Ramdas built some Mandirs of Rama, Sita and otherRama Parivara; Ramashayya on a hill top where Ravanasura is stated to have kidnapped Devi Sita; Pandava Cave, Jatayu Kshetra and Agastyashrama.

Shirdi: From Nasik is the most renowned and glorious Shirdi Sai Baba Mandir by some 6 km away, 15km from Kopergaon, and 300 km from Mumbai, which is of one of the richest Pilgrimage Centers in Bharat, drawing some 50000 devotees a day and lakhs of them on holidays and week ends. Sai Baba was perhaps born in 1838 AD but got immortalised in 1918. His early life was shrouded in mystery but his entry in Shirdi and settling in a Masjid named by himself as Dwaraka may happened in 1858 practising Muslim and Hindu rituals alike gifted with natural mastery of Scriptures of both and many other religious faiths. He taught the slogans and mottos of ‘Sabka Malik Ek’or God is One and ‘Alla Malik’ or God is the Supreme King. His miracles are innumerable especially experienced by those who come to know of him. His teachings have universal appeal based on ‘Love all and ignore none’ in the true spirit of Advaita or Monism.

Shani Shinga pur: Some 70 km away from Shirdi is an exclusive Kshetra dedicated to Shani Deva where there is a Swayambhu or Self originated black stone wih powers signifying the Lord Saturn among the Nine Planets. The powers range from retribution to rewards, hastening the process of fructification in either of extremes but elongating the period of positive or negative occurences for long period of time- say two years and half in the House of each planet and seven years in his own, attracting the Title of ‘Manda Gati’ or of slow realisation of transformation in one’s life period; the process of change is tardy and long drawn either in poverty or prosperity! The local belief is that in this Place of Shani worship the result of retribution is instant and almost immediate and exreme; that is why pilferages and thefts are mortally afraid of and thus scrupulously avoided; little wonder there are no locks and doors at this place and neighbourhood for the sheer fears of instant results of returns! Tailaabhikaas or oil baths to the Sacred Stone signifying instant returns are regular and those performing oil abhishekas on their own leave their vastraas discardead after the worship.

Triambakeshwara: Located thirty kilometers away from Nasik in Maharashtra, the renowned Jyotirlinga of  Lord Siva’s materialization called Tryambakeswar attracts thousands of Pilgrims round the year providing boons of material and spiritual nature.The ‘Punyakshetra’ or the Hallowed Land is the source point of  the Holy River Godavari  basically owing to the Bhagiradh-like efforts of Sage Gautama and his highly pious wife Ahalya. By virtue of the Sage’s penance and prayers, Lord Varuna was pleased to supply water and food grains in abundance but this boon turned out as a basis of jealousy of co-Sages and their spouses who created a cow to plunder the grains. Sage Gautama destroyed the cow, but as a result of a sin in killing the cow, the Sage-couple was banished to a hermitage on the mountain of Brahmagiri. Gautama Muni made relentless ‘Tapasya’ to Bhagavan Siva who endowed Gautama with the double desires of bringing River Ganga near his hermitage and also stay on its banks along with Bhagavati in the form of a Jyotirlinga. Lord Siva granted both the wishes that Ganga was brought near Gautama’s hermitage as River Godavari and His manifestation as Tryambakeswara Jyotirlinga in the vicinity of the River Godavari / Gautami. In parallel to this, another legend related to the formation of a Jyotirlinga at Brahmagiri was the interface of Lords Brahma and Vishnu vis-à-vis an appearance of a Fire Column whose height and depth could not be ascertained by both of them; Brahma’s cover-up story was that he found out the height of the Column and cited a Ketaki flower as a witness. Bhagavan Siva gave a curse to Brahma that there would not be worship of the former and Brahma gave a return curse that Lord Siva would be pushed underground. Hence the manifesation of Tryambakeswara under the Brahmagiri. The Jyotirlinga is of a small size in a depression on the floor with water oozing out constantly from the top. The force of waves of the River appears to be as per the intensity of the prayers of Sage Gautama according to the conviction of devotees in the Temple! Major Tirthas (Tanks) in the Temple are named Gangadwara representing the source of Ganga (Godavari), Varaha Tirtha where Lord Vishnu had a bath in the River in Varaha Rupa ( appearance as Boar) and Kushvartha Tirtha considered as the most significant as Sage Gauthama spread across Kusha or Darbha Grass while securing the waters of Ganga. There are also other Tirthas like Gangasagara, Bilva Tirtha, Indra Tirtha, Vishwanath Tirtha, Mukund Tirtha, Prayag Tirtha, Rama Kund, Lakshmana Kund and so on. Chakra Tirtha, which is some 2-3 km awat from Triabakeshwara near Kushavarta is the precise origin of Sacred Gadavari’s ‘pratyaksha udgama’ or readily visible origin of Godavari that flows into Nasik. Among the Shrines at Triayamakeshwara Mandir are of Kedarnath, Rameshwar, Gauthameshwar, Kasi Viswanatha, Jareswar, Kanchaneswar, Tribhuneswar, Venkateshwar, and Hanuman. There are daily worships at the Main Temple thrice and the nightly ‘arthies’ are special. On Mondays there are special ‘abhishekas’ and ‘arthies’ as also ‘Parikramas’. Kartika month worships are important, especially Kartika Purnima. Gangavatarana is celebrated in the month of Magha. Simhasta Parvani is held once in twelve years.

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