Ayodhya, Gaya, Nalanda and Patna /Sonpur

Ayodhya:Akaaro Brahmatah proktam YakaaroVishnuruchyate, Dhakaaro Rudra rupascha Ahodhyaanaama raajate/ Sarvopa Paatakairyuktair rahmahatyaadi paatakai, Na yodhyaa shaktate yasmaattaam ayodhyaam tato viduh/ (Skanda Purana, Vaishnava Khanda Ayodhyaa) Ayodhyaa is defined as ‘ A- kaara is Brahma, Ya-kaara is Vishnu and Dha-kaara is Rudra Swarupa; thus Ayodhya is a composite form of Tri Murthis. Maha Pataakas too are demolished by naming the Name of Ayodhya!) Valmiki Ramayana in Bala kaanda exclaims: Manunaa Maanavendrena saa Puri nirmitaa swayam/ (Manu confirms that he himself constructed Ayodhya himself!) In his opening introduction of Ayodhya Kaanda of Skanda Purana, Maha Muni Suta greets Bhagavan Shri Rama saying: Namaami Parama- atmanam Ramam rajiva lochanam, Atasikusuma shyamam Ravanaantaka mavyayam / ( My greetings to Lord Shri Rama the Paramatma who is lotus eyed and of blue colour the terminator of the cruel and vily Ravanasura). Ayodhya puri is so sancrosanct that sinful beings could ever enter it, let alone reside there! From his right foot thumb emerged Ganga and Sarayu river got manifested from lelt foot thumb. That is why both the Rivers are Sacred and worthy of prostrations and bathing in these rivers is as effective as destroying Brahma hatya sin.Even before the Avatara of Shri Rama, Ayodhya was the Capital of Surya Vamsha Kings of Ikshwaku; the latter was the son of Vaivashwata Manu and to this dynasty belonged to the illustrious Bhagiratha, Ambarisha, Nahusha, Yayati, Nabhaga, Ajan and Dasharatha. Skanda Purana in Vaishnava Khanda, Ayodhya Mahatmya gives the account of Veda Vijnana Vishnu Sharma whose severe Tapasya attracted Maha Vishnu darshana and the Pandita’s request to him him the boon of constant Vishnu darshana; in turn Maha Vishnu instructed Sudarshana Chakra to dig up Bhumi and bring up Ganga from Patala Loka and the resultant Sacred Water flow was materialised as Chakra Tirtha.  Earlier, Brahma himself resided at Ayodhya even before the incarnation of Shri Rama and hence the emergence of Brahma Kund . Brahma conveyed to Devas about the significance of this Tirtha -as given in Skanda Purana- would be such as that whoever performed formal snaana at the Kund and gave away daana would have been deemed as securing Ahwamedha yagna phala and blessed to fly as clad in Divya Vastras to Brahma Loka for residing there till the ensuing Pralaya. From Brahma kunda to the not too far Sarayu River is Runa Vimochana Tirtha where Muni Lomasha popularised specially among his followers who were delighted as the debts of one’s very existence by way of births and deaths to parents and sons and the teacher, quite apart from the material debts of the current and past ‘janmas’are cleared by snanas at the Tirtha. To the east of the Runa Vimochana Tirtha is the Paapa mochana Tirtha. Skanda Purana narrates the story of Panchala desha Brahmana was Maha Paapi who  became conscious of his heaping stocks of sins and casually heard the conversation of a Group of Sadhus visiting Ayodhya. He visited Paapa Vimochana Tirtha along with them and happened to bathe on a Maagha Krishna Chaturdashi and also perfiormed daana karyas and he realised an unsual transformation in his psyche and was surprised to vision a Viman beckoning him and flew to Vishnu dhaam. Ahead of the glorious Paapa machana Tirtha is the Sahasra dhaara Tirtha which is known for demolishing all obstacles in life and overcoming enemies by mere snaana with faith and mental discipine. This indeed was the very Tirtha where after the close of the entire Ramayana, Lord Shri Rama instructed Lakshmana to bathe and by his own Mantra Shakti assume the Form of Adi Sesha! Actually, the background was that when Shri Ram who had once had an important visitor viz.Kaal Devata about which even Lakshman was unaware and instructed Lakshman not to enter and allow any visitor to enter either. Lakshman was faithfully guarding the entry of Rama Nivas by taking sincere rounds up and down the ‘dwaar’. Meanwhile Maha Tapaswi Durvasa Maharshi who is noted for his short temper arrived and affectionately asked Lakshmana to let Ram inform of his arrival for Rama darshan. Lakshman being aware of Duravas’s shaapa shakti alerted Rama of the Muni’s arrival. With a view to protect his own Satya Vak Paripalana of Lakshman’s disobedience despite his instruction , Rama had to resort to the extreme step of asking Lakshmana to perform Prana tyaga of Lakshmana. As Lakshmana took the form of Adisesha and visited Indra Loka even as the Sahasra Manis and their luster vanished, the lest the Tirtha place on Sarayu diminish significance, Indra and Devas arrived on the Spot ensured and in fact doubled its glory and sanctity and named it Sahasra Dhaara Tirtha and Lord Shri Rama blessed the title too for the benefit of posterity and Loka Kalyan. Swarga dwara dhaara: Skanda Purana further describes as follows: Every Tirtha darshana has one’s own benefits yet Swaga dwara Tirtha has its own: Pratah kaala snana, japa-tapa-havana-upavasa-darshana-dhyaana-adhyana- daanas have their distinct results and those beings like the Chatur varna humans, mriga-pakshi-jala chara-krimi keetakaadi pranis happen to die at this Tirtha are qualified to direct access to Swarga and Vaikuntha dhaam. Bhagavan Vishnu in his Avatara Swarupas, especially of Shri Rama with his wife and brothers are stated at this Tirtha to select beings for their respective Punya Phalas and decide their ‘nirnayas’ based on their own past karmas overshadowing their contributions at the Swarga dwaar snaanas and punya karma mix. And so does the presence of Kailasha Vaasi along with Devi Parvati and their followers woul oversee the process of selection of Beings for the Higher Loka Prapti, asserts the Skanda Purana. Near Swarga dwaara is the Nageshwara nath Mandir; it is stated that originally this Murti was originally made of Kusha grass but later King Vikramadiyta resurrected and re-established the Idol with Veda mantras in a move to revive several ‘Praachina’ or age old Mandirs in Ayodhya. Yatris perform Pinda daana at Swarga dwaar Ghat with great devotion and bhakti. Chandra Sahasra Tirtha where Chandra sahasra vrata Udyapana is performed as also Argha danas are done on every Purnima Tithis to Chandra-Rohini Devis. Swarna Tirtha where Maharshi Vishwamitra’s sishya Koutsa Muni called on Raghu Rama once and said that he wished for so much of wealth which he desired to give to his Guru which Rama too might nor possess. Shri Rama  thought for a while and requested the Muni to please stay back in his court of Ayodhya overnight. Then Shri Rama invited Kubera Deva to bring considerable gold and on receiving it gave it away to Koutsa Muni. Next morning, Rama gave away all the gold given by Kubera and kept up his word by redonating the same to the Muni and truly satisfied him. This Swarna Tirtha had thus attained a gold-bestowing reputation and fullfill the material desires of who ever performed worship by way of snaana- daana-Japas with utmost faith. One of Ayodhya’s major Mandirs is Kanak Bhavan which is quite big and mention worthy whis was supposed to be of Shri Ram’s ‘antahpura’ or the interior palace hall where Devi Sita resided too. There are big sized Sita Rama Idols seated on a throne together in the Mandir as also the idols of the very past which were however smaller. From Kanaka Bhavan away is the most famed Shri Rama Janma Sthaana which was stated to have been rebuilt as Masjid Babri ; this Masjid which became the hot controversy was partially destroyed to make way for the original now albeit as a small make believe Mandir.Near to Raa Janma Sthaana are Sita Rasoyi or kitchen, Kopa bhavan or the Place where the love-fight Rama- Sita couple stayed; Ratna Simhasan or the Royal Throne made of jewels, Ananda Bhavan or the Palace of Joy, Ranga Mahal or the Hall of Music and Dance etc. The other Places worthy of visiting in Ayodhya’s Sarayu River banks include Lakshman Ghat with a five feet Lakhmana Swami in the Mandir exclusively dedicated to him; Ahalya Ghat where Lord Rama is stated to have performed Yagna; Hanuman gadhi on an elevated sixty steps an Lord Hanuman in seated form; Darshaneshwar, Mani Parvat with Ashoka Stupa of broken 200 ft; Dantana Kund where Rama was stated to have had his mouth wash, where also Gautama Buddha, while in Ayodhya too rested. Dasharatha kund was the Place some few km. away on Sarayu River banks where King Dasharatha’s ‘Antya Dahana’ was stated to have been performed. A mini- Parikrama of some 4 km around Ayodhya touches Ramaghat, Raghunadha Das gaddi, Sita kund, Agni Kund, Vidya kund, Mani Parvat, Kubera parvat, Sugriva parvat, Lakshman ghat, Swarga dwaar and back to Ram ghat. While no doubt Shri Rama Navami Celebrations on Chaitra Shukla Navami are famed for several days every year,  Shravana Shukla Paksha festivities and Sarayu River snaaas are considered as sacred, especially on Kartika Purnima.

Gaya: A number of Puranas like Padma Purana, Agni Purana, Vayu Purana, besides Maha Bharata’s Tirtha Yatra Phala asserted: Yeshtavyaa bahuvah putraa yadyekopi Gayam vrajet, Yajeta vaashwa – medhena neelam neelam vaa vrushamutsrujet/ ( One should aspire for the births of many sons so that atleast one could perform a Horse Sacrifice or at least a ‘ Blued coloured Vrishabha Visarjana’ or a bull’s freedom, being desirous of redemption of the Pitru). Maha Bharata’s Tirtha Yatra chapter sates: Tato Gayam samasaadya Brahma chari samahitah, Ashwamavaapnoti gamanadeva Bharata/ Atraakshasaya vato naama lokeshu vishrutah, Pitrunaam tatra vai dattamakshayam bhavatiPrabho/ Maha nadyamupa- sprushya tarpayet Pitru Devataah, Akshayaanaapnuyaallokaankurlam chaiva samudbhavet/ (Thus those visiting Gaya Kshetra, observing Brahmacharya or celibacy shall reap the fruits of executing Ashwa -medha Yagna; then at the Akshayavata there which is reputed in the Three Lokas make what ever offerings to Pitru Devas are made would have everlasting fruits. There itself after performing formal snaana in the Maha Nadi and execute Deva-Pitru Tarpanas would fetch access to Akshaya Lokas and redeem the souls of the dead pitrus of their respective ‘Kulas’. Vayu Purana in the Chapter relating to Gaya Tirtha Mahatmya asserts: Gayaayaam nahi tat snaanam yatra Tirtha na vidyate, Saannidhyam sarva tirthaanaam Gayaa tirtham tato varam/ Brahma jnaanena kim saadhyam gogruhe maranena kim,Vaasena kim Kurukshetre yadi putro Gayaam vrajet/ ( There is no other Place orTirtha like Gaya since all theTirthas are as though so intimate and near to Gaya Tirtha. Among the four major means of Mukti are accomplishment of Brahma Jnaana, Kurukshetra nivasa, termination of one’s life in a Cow shed and Pindadaana by one’s own sons at Gaya!) The legend of Gaya Tirtha is recalled in Agni Purana in the Tirtha Mahatmya: Gayasura, the King of Rakshasaas did fierce Tapasya to Maha Vishnu as the latter granted him the boon of materialising a Maha Tirtha by Gayasura’s name. All the human beings and Asura-Daityaadi had the darshan of Gauasura and reached Vaikuntha as who ever had his darshan did not have to visit none else to achieve Vaikuntha. Devas and Bahma Deva approached Vishnu as the latter advised to approach Gayasura to let Brahma and Devas perform yagna over Gayasura’s huge head. Gaya was in deep sleep and did not respond but still Brahma and Devas were in the process of executing the Yagna and could not perform ‘Purnaahuti’the grand finale of the Yagna was still pending. Meanwhile when Gayasura woke up and wished to get up but could not.The Asura became shaky and tried hard to wriggle out from the fire pit, Vishnu advised Yama dharma Raja to keep a heavy boulder on Gaya’s head and occupy the Asura’s entire body of some eight km. of length till the purnahuti was over.The heavy boulder itself had a background connection: Maharshi Marichi the son of Brahma Deva was once resting in sleep and instucted his wife called Dharmavata to press his legs and not disturb his sleep other wise she would turn as a boulder. Meanwhile Brahma arrived and the wife faced a dillema whether she should obey her husband’s instruction not to disturb or announce the arrival of Brahma himself. She set aside Marichi’s curse even as she faced the eventuality of her turning as a boulder. She gave a return curse to Marichi to have created an awkward situation for her that Marichi would have to face Maha Deva’s wrath in some another connection and entered Agni and purified herself performing tapsya for thousand years. Lord Vishnu thus took advantage of the boulder which was blessed with the foot prints of Devas and utilised for Yama Dharma Raja to place it on Gayaasura’s head which eventually became famed as Deva Shila-Sarva Deva Swarupa- Sarva Tirtha mayi-and the unique Pujnya Shila. Even after the Shila was placed on his head the Asura was still breathing and hence Vishnu had to place on his ‘Gada’ or Mace to fully sniff him out by adding his own presence to this Gaya Tirtha. This ‘Adi Gada’ was the bakbone of Gajasura which was eventually turned by Deva’s Architect Vishwa karma.The most outstanding PitruTirtha in the Universe, to which the Pitru Loka keeps close attention to look forward to the sons of mankind looks forward to Shraddha karmas and Pinda daanas. These Karmas not only redeem the souls of the ancestors by their performance but equally to collect bags of fulfillment to the Shraddha Kartas as far higher proportions manifold.

The sigificant Places worthy of visit at Gaya are Phalgu River which is filled up only during the monsoon season essentially and is situated under the Gada -dhara Mandira quite adjacent to its sangama with Dakshina Saraswati. Basic Shraddha karmas are performed on the banks of this River. Vishnupada is the main Mandira on the banks of Phalgu River where there is an ‘Ashta kona’ or eight angled Vedi or Platform there is a significant sign of Vishnu Paada. Outside the Mandir, there are two ‘Mandapas’where normally visitors perfom shraddhas and nearby there is a prominent Mandir of Garuda Pratima as also Jagannatha and Lakshmi Narayana Mandirs. Not far is Gadadhara Bhagavan Mandir with his ‘chaturbhuja’ or of four arms. Gaya shira sthaana and Gaya Kupa are to the south of Gayadhara Mandir and not far there is the Mandir of Munda pushta Devi with eighteen hands. Adi Gaya stated to be one of the oldest Places some south west of Munda Pushta is popular for Pinda daanas in a place some few steps down this level. Surya kunda is some two hundred yards from Vishnu Pada and the Tirthas of Uduchi , Kanwal and Manasa are present, besides a Mandir of the four armed Murti of Surya narayana called Dakshina Manasa Tirtha. Jihva lola  is a peepul tree some 80 yards south of Phalgu bank. Sita Kund and Ram Gaya are the black stone made of King Dashratha by his own hand and Bhatarashrama Vedi or platform also with Matanga Rishi’s foot print respectively. Uttara maanasa Sarovar where Uttaraarka Surya and Shila Devi Murtis are present and to the North- west of the Sarovar there is a Mouneshwar and Pitamaheshwar Shiva Mandir where yatris performing Shraddhas observe silence and proceed to Surya kunda. Ram shila is a hill some one km approx. north to Phalgu under which is the Ram Shila Kund named Sarovar and Shiva Mandir. From Ram Shila some 200 yards south there is a Banyan Tree which is the Place of Kaaka bali-Yama bali and Shwaana bali. From Ram Shila some two and half km. west are Preta shila and Brahma kund, the latter being a perfect Sarovar; from Gaya the Pret Parvat is about 4 km approx. Brahma sarovar is what leads a good road and Pret shila is reached by taking some 400 steps ascent. Vaitarani is a Sarovar led by the southern ‘Phaatak’ or road of Gaya; Bhim Gaya is at the north-west turning of Vaitarini where there is a Bhimasena Murti. Bhasma kut-Goprachara is on a small hilloc of the south west of Bhim gaya where there are Janardana Mandira, Mangala Devi/ Mangaleshwara Linga Mandira and Goprachara Tirtha where Brahma is stated to have performed Go daana still recognised with the wooden rod signage. Brahma sarovar near Vaitarini Sarovar is famed for Gada Khanda of Vishnu Bhagavan fell and till date yatris perform parikrama. Akshaya vata near Brahma sarovar is within a four walled garden the center of which is a Vata Vriksha and Vateshtara Mahadeva Mandir. Gadalola Sarovara near Akshaya vata within which is a Gada swarupa Pillar with which Vishnu after killing Gayasura washed and cleaned up his mace. Mangala Gauri-Avimukeshwara nath Mandir on a hill top near Brahma Sarovar is situated some 125 steps; it is stated that any person with none to accompany could alone perform shraaddha by merely keeping three pindas with curd and without tilas in one of the right hands of the Chaturbhuja Bhagavan. Next to Mangala Gauri hill is another such hill where there is a Hanuman Sthaan and Kund which is called Akasha Ganga and underneath the hill is Patala Ganga and Kapila dhaara. From Vishnu paada Mandir about less than a km. is Gayatri Ghat and Gayatri Devi Mandir also Lakshmi narayana Mandir, Prithvishwar Shiva Manduir and Gayaditya naama Chaturbhuja Surya Mandir. Some one km. distance on way to Bodh Gaya is a ‘parvata’ and some 500 steps above it is Brahma Yoni and Matru yoni. From Gaya by 3 km approx. is the Holy Saraswati River as also a Saraswati Mandir. Dharmaranya has Dharma Raja Mandir with two wells into which pindadanas are performed and those desirous of male progeny are deposited into a ‘Rahat Kupa’ where Pandavas headed byYudhishtar peformed shraddha there and being desirous of male children deposited the pindas in the wells. From Gaya to Budha Gaya is some 7 miles where there is a stone called ‘Bouddha Simhasana’ where under a Bodhi Vriksha, Buddha was stated to have meditated and attained enlightenment; but now that tree is also stated to have been since replaced by a Peepul vriksha!

While Pitru Karyas at Gaya Tirtha are invarialby abridged in the current flow of contemporary life, the prescribed Time Schedule is for a week covering the tasks are as follows: Day One: Having duly bathed in Phalgu River, shraddha karmas including Sankalpa-Agni Homa in favour of Devas-Pitru Tarpana-Pinda Daana-Brahmana bhojana-Dakshinaa Karya krama and Daana are to be accomplished; in the morning Snaana Sandhyas are done at Gayatri Tirtha, Madhyahna Snaana Sandhyas at Savitri Kunda and evening Snaana Sandhyas at Saraswati Kunda. On the second day, one has to visit Preta Shila and perform pinda daanas at Brahma Kunda and Preta shila, from there pinda daanas be done at Rama Shila, and at Kaaka (crow) Bali sthana and swaana( dog) bali sthaana. On the third day after Phalgu snaana, one should visit Uttara Manasa and after tarpan-pinda daana-Uttaraarka darshana, mouna dharana or observig silence, arrive at Surya kunda, Dakshina Manasa Tirtha-snana-tarpana-pinda daana and Gadaadhara darshana / puja. On the fourth day after Phalguna snana and pinda daana at Matangavaapi, Dharmeshwara darshana-pinda daana and reach Bodh Gaya and shraddha under or near shraaddha karma. On fifth day after phalguna snaana, Brahma sara-snaana – tarpana- pinda daana; Amrasechana, Brahma sara pradakshina and Kaaka-Yama- swaana bali and snaan again. On the sixth day, after Phalgu snaana, visit Vishnu pada, Rudra pada, Dakshinaagni pada, Garhatya pada, Aavaheena pada, savyaa pada, Apasavya pada, Surya pada, Kartikeya pada, Krouncha pada and Kashyapa pada darshana and shraaddha followed by pitru tarpanas at Vishnu pada and pinda pradana at Gaya shira pada. On the final seventh day, after phalguna snaana, perform Gadalolapara snaana, shraddha and bhojana pradana to three or atleast one Brahmana.This seven day observance is for those who desire to perform only ‘sakaama’ shraaddha formally. Also during the Ashwin Krishna Paksha, the prescribed schedule is- Pratipada: Shraddha and Kaak bali at Brahma kunda-Preta shila-Rama kunda and Rama shilaadi; Dwitiya: Pinda daana at Uttara Manasa, Udichi, Kankhal, Dakshina Manasa, and Jihwa lola; Tritiya: Sarasvati snana and shradda at Matanga vaapi, Dharmaranya, and Bodha Gaya; Chaturthi: Brahma sarovara shraddha and ‘aamra sechana’ and Kaka bali; Panchami: Pinda Shraddha at Vishnupada Mandira at Rudrapada, Brahma pada and Vishnu para with ‘Ksheera shakraaanna’ Shraadha; from Shashthi to Ashtami, pinda daana be performed in Vishnupada Mandira on a Sixteen Veda Naama Mandapa the names of the sixteen Vedis being Kartikapada, Dakshinaagni, Garha paryagni, Aavagha- niyagni, Suryapada, Chandrapada, Ganeshapada, Dadhichapada, Kanvapada, Matangapada, Krounchapada, Indrapada, Agastyapada, and Kashyapapada; on Ashtami there is a sixteen vedi Mandapa at the same padas there would be a Gaja karna tarpana with milk. On Ashwin Krishna Navami, Shraadha is performed at Rama gaya and pinda daana at Sita Kund for three generations of mother, father’s mother and grand mother pinda daana; on Dashami Pinda daana at Gaya shira and Gaya kupa; on Ekadasi guda or jaggery- pinda daana at Mundapushta, Adigaya, and Dhoutapaada with tils; on Dwadashi, pinda daana be performed at Bhim gaya, Goprachara and Gadaalola; on Trayodashi after Phalgu snaan as usual followed by Ksheera Tarpana at the Tirthas of Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswati respectively in the morning-noon- evening respctively; on Chaturdashi Vaitarini snaana and tarpana be performed; on Amnavasya shaddha and Brahmanbhojana be performed under or near Akshaya Vat and finally, on Ashwin Shukla Pratipada Gaya shradda is concluded on Gayatri ghat with Curd-Akshata Pinda daan. This is the basically designed Gaya Tirtha Pinda daana vidhi!

Nalanda (Rajagriha):  Tato Raja griham gacchet Tirtha sevi Naraadhipa, Upaspushya tatatarta kakshiniva modate/ Yakshinyaa naityakam tara praashnita purushah shuchih, Yakshinyastu prasadena muchyate Brahmahatyayaa/ ( Thereafter, persons should visit Raja griha and perform snaana to achieve excellent happiness and threafter eat yakshini naivedya [ fruits, sweets and boiled rice] to rid of Brama hatya maha pataka). Both Padma Purana on Tirtha Yatra Mahatmya and Maha Bharata on the same subject are thus quoted as above. From Patna Junction, the Capital citi of Bihar to Barkhityar Station to 33 miles by road is Rajagriha and from there about 20 km. by road.This is a unique Tirtha for Sanatana Dharma Hindus-Jains-and Bouddha followers. For Hindus there are several Prachi Saraswati based Tirthas like Brahma kund, Kedarnath, Sita kund, Vaitarini, Vaanari kund, Sonbhandar, Pancha Parvat and such. There are also several Bouddha Mandirs, Bouddha Tirthas and some eighteen Bouddha Vihars. There are significant Jain Tirthas on Pancha Parvatas viz. Vaibhaar, Vipulachal, Rantnagiri Udaygiri and Swarna giri. Nalanda is again one interesting Place where Hindu-Bouddha-Jain Tirtha Sthalas are famed; for eg. This Place is known as many opine the same as Kundinapur the birth place of Rukmini Devi the Front ranking ‘Patta Mahishi’or Lakshmi Avatara Pradhana Life Patner of Lord Krishna viz. Vidarbha. Nalanda however is prominent as the famed Center of Learning and Studies in Bouddha Times where a number of foreign students for serious research till date.

Patna / Sonpur: The Capital City of Bihar now has a hoary past as the erstwhile Pataliputra, the Seat of Learning and Fine Arts and the Capital of Ancient Pataliputra ruled by Magadha-Nanda-Maurya- Sunga- Gupta-Pala dynasties of the yore and the crucible various Hindu Faiths of Buddha-Jaina-Sikhs with the famed Takht of Patna Sahib and Maha Vir Jain Temple right now. Patna is also renowned for Patan Devi Temple of Patneshwari, one of the 51 Siddha Shakti Peethas where Sati Devi’s right thigh fell off as Sudarshana Chakra severed her body; Shitala Devi’s Temple popular to relieve the illnes of Chicken pox and Small pox especially for children which houses the Pindaas of Sapta Matrikas; Devi Bhagavata mentioned that Jwarusura attacked children with pox and Devi Katyayani assumed the swarupa of Shitala Devi to cure them once or all; Agam kuna was dump well where King Ashok killed in cruelty all his 99 brothers and discarded their bodies so that he would only survive as the King; Agam kuna was also stated to be the place where Jain monk Sudarshana was thrown in the well by King Chand but instead of drowning the monk’s body floated on a lotus. Till date, Hindu marriages are performed at this Well as though the new couples are dumped in the Well of Sarovara. Apart from the interesting Mandirs to visit in Patna itself, Sonepur hardly 25 km from Patna approachable by a pretty long bridge across the River Ganges is famed to oraganise Asia’s larget Cattle Fair held from Kartika Purnima in November for some two months at the confluence point of Ganga and River Gandaki; the Fair is for the exhibition and sale of elephants, horses, donkeys, dogs, cows, bulls, buffalos, birds and so on, besides being a huge mela with social and entertainment activities drawing huge turn over of masses from far off places in India. As a major fall out of the Fair is the rush of Yatris paying respects to Hariharnath Temple right on the banks of Gandaki River believed to have been built up Lord Shri Rama the Ramayana Epic Hero when he accompanied Sage Vishwamitra to the Court of King Janaka of Mithila to break the ‘Shiva Dhanush’ to win he hand of Devi Sita. Another significant legend is related to the Sacred River Gandaki -where the Hariharnath Temple stands near the Cattle Fair Grounds-by Maha Bhagavata Purana, Vamana Purana etc. about Gajendra Moksha; the elephant King Gajendra with his spouses and a massive collection of elephant army went into Gandaki banks and a fierce and huge and powerful crocodile caught nasty hold of Gajendra’s foot in a biting grip and they fought for years together for Gajendra to get rid of the aweful grip. In their earlier births Gajendra was King Indradyumna the King of Pandyas who in similar situation of the King enjoying a river bath with his queens angered Sage Agastya in deep meditation by the noises and Agastya cursed that a crocodile would catch the King becoming an Elephant and torture for years together. Likewise, a Gandharva Chief Huhu was cursed by Devala Muni that in similar circumstances the Gandharva would become a crocodile and torture an elephant king to be finally restored of his original form with the grace of Vasudeva and his Sudarshana Chakra!

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