Kurukshetra, Pehva, Gadhamukteshwar

Kurukshetra: Kurukshetram gamishyaami Kurukshere vasaamyaham, Ya evam satatam bruyat sopi Paapaih pramuchyate/ Paamsavopi Kurukshetre Vaayuna samudiritaah, Api dushkrita karmaanam nayananti paramam gatim/ Dakshinena Saraswatyaa drushadvidyuttarena cha, ye vasanti Kurukshetre te vasantib trivishtape/Manasaapyabhikaamasya Kurukshetram Yuddhishtara, Paapaani vipranashyanti Brhama lokam cha gacchati/ Gatwaa hi shraddhayaa yuktah Kurukshetram Kurudvah, Phalam prapnoti cha tadaa Rajasuyaasshwamedhayoh/ ( Even the mere resolve of visiting and staying at Kurukshetra would demolish sins and the dust carried by the winds from there shall indeed purify sinners and lead them to higher planes of virtue. Kurukshetra sprawls all over the region from Rushadwiti from the north to Saraswati River in the south and blessed are those who reside in this are considered to be in heavenly surroundings. The thoughts of undertaking dutiful yatra to Kurukshetra by themselves evaporate blemishes while those who actually complete the yatra as per the regulations specified would have reaped the fruits of executing Rajasuya and Ashwamedha Yagjnas-Shatapata Brahmana Upanishad). It is stated that Maharshis most initially pronounced VedaMantras at this hallowed banks of Saraswati River and it was this very tirtha that Brahma and Devas performed Maha Yagjnas and indeed it was this Sacred Land where Maharshis like Vasishtha and Vishwamitra attained Brahma Jnaana. It was this very Place that the Dharma Kskhetra of Kurukshetra fought Dharma Yuddha for eighteen long days and Virtue triumphed against Viciousness and vindicated Adharma for good. It was this very Place again where Lord Srikrishna delivered the eternal message of Bhagavad Gita to posterity as the Quintessence of Veda Shastra Purano -panishads put together! The origin of Kurukshetra is vividly described in the Essence of Vamana Purana which appeared vide www. Kamakoti.Org/ Articles as also on Google as follows:

At the beginning of Satya Yuga, there was a King named Ruksha of Chandra Vamsha who begot King Samvarna. On assuming Kingship, Samvarna entusted his royal duties to his Guru Vasishtha and moved about carefree. While he was in a Forest named Vibhraja, he met a Deva Kanya called Tapati and both of them got mesmerised with each other. On return, Vasishta Maharshi learnt of the King’s infatuation as the latter was neither eating nor behaving properly. Similar was the situation with the Deva Kanya Tapati. Vasishtha learnt from his Divyadrishti that the Deva Kanya was the daughter of Suryta Deva, entered Surya mandala and requested Surya for the alliance and both of them were happily married to eventually beget a boy called Kuru who was married to Devi Soudamini. After Kuru became the King, Kuru tried all possibilities of endearing his Praja and during his ‘Dharma Paalana’ or Virtuous Administration, there were no problems of poverty, thefts, misdirected judgments and health limitations and soon became a popular King. Then he travelled to become more and famous and victorious and entered Daitavana where he saw the Sacred River Sarasvati which was called Brahma Putri, Harijihva and Sudarshana Janani. He derived extreme happiness and satisfaction in the River and towards north of the River and decided to construct a ‘Samanta Panchaka Dharmasthaan’ spread over an Area of five yojanas width and length. It was learnt that there were five such ‘Vedikaas’ where Shambhu Deva performed Pancha Yagnas, of which the Uttara Vedi on the banks of River Sarasvati was known as the most renowned; the  Madhya Vedi as popular at Prayaga Kshetra, Purva Vedi was at Gaya Tirtha, Dakshina Vedi was at Jagannatha puri and the Paschima Vedi was at Pushkara Kshetra. King Puru decided to add the Panchama Vedi to be constructed as Samantaka Panchaka Dharmasthana. He procured a golden plough and a pair of animals to commence tilling the land. Indra Deva approached the King Kuru as to what was he desirous of doing and the reply was that he haddecided to construct an ‘Ashtaanga Bhumi’ of Tapah Satyam Ksamaam Damaam Krushaami Shoucham Daanam cha Yiogamcha Brahmachaaritaam/ or Meditation – Truthfulness-Endurance-Mercy-Cleanliness-Charity-Yoga and Celibacy which should be called Ashtanga Farming! Indra further asked: Where would be a number of ploughs and how would you procure seeds from! The reply was that Indra should not make fun of an honest endeavour as Indra left quietly. The King himself commenced tilling some four to five yojanas of land daily. Then Lord Vishnu appeared and asked the same question of Indra as to where would he secure the seeds. The King said convincingly that the seeds would emerge from his body. Vishnu asked the King to extend his hand so that the former could plough and the King could spread the seeds. The King faithfully extended his right hand and at once Bhagavan cut off his hand with his chakra to several pieces! Kuru then extended his left hand and Vishnu sliced off that hand too to thousand pieces. The King offered his thighs one by one which too were cut. Finally King Kuru offered his head and then Vishnu was convinced that the King was very serious in his resolve and asked him to ask for a boon. Kuru replied: Yaavadetan –mayaa krushtam Dharmaksetram tadastucha, Snaataanaam cha mrutaaaamcha mahapunya phalam twiha/ Upavaasamcha Daanamcha cha snaanam japyam cha Madhava, Homayagna –dikam chaanyacchubham Vaapyashubham Vibho/ (May this Place which I had tilled be declared as Dharma Kshetra; may this Place become a Sacred one where bathing or even dying attain Maha Punya. May the virtuous deeds of Upavaasa-Snaaa-Daana- Japa-Havana-Yagna etc be paid for with multiplied fruits!) The King further prayed to Vishnu that he along with Parama Shiva should reside at this Kshetra always. Vishnu not only granted the boons asked by the King but also blessed the Hallowed Place to be called as Kuru Kshetra, that his fame and name would be eternal as long as the Universe would last, that this Kshetra called Kurujaangala would be protected by Chandra naamak Yaksha, Vaasuki naamak Sarpa, Shankukarna naamak Vidyaadhara, Sukeshi naamak Rakshseswara, Ajaavan naamak King, Mahadeva naamak Agni and so on. Some eight thousand arrows-men would ensure that sinners of extreme nature would be prevented to perform bathings in the Kshetra ; there is a ‘paapa vinaashaka’ and Sacred Tirtha known as Pruthuudaka or Pohovaa Tirtha here and Brahma collected the waters of various Maha Samudras, Punya Tirthas, Rivers and Sarovaraas into it! Brahmasara Tirtha: Maharshi Lomaharshana stated that Brahmasara Tirtha was originally spread from Sannihita Sarovar at Rantuk Sthaana to Ojas Sthaana and further upto Chaturmukha Sthaana; but over passage of time, the Tirtha occupied the space from Viswasvara Shaana to Asthipura and from Vriddha Kanya to Oghavati River. Half way of the Tirtha, it was believed that Rudra attained ‘Sthaanutva’or ‘Sthiratwa’ (Solidification). Meanwhile, Maha Muni Markandeya prayed to Devi Sarasvati flowing in the form of the illustrious River obliged the Muni to accompany him wherever he wished him to lead and the Muni requested her to link up Brahmasira to Ramahlada to Kurukshetra and thus the latter assumed further significance; In the Kurukshetra Tirtha thus one secures the ‘maha phala’of bathing and worshipping in Seven Vanaas viz. Kaamuaka Vana, Aditi Vana, Vyasa Vana, Phalaki Vana, Surya Vana, Madhu Vana, and Sheeta Vana; besides nine Sacred Rivers viz.Sarasvati, Vaitarani, Aapaga, Mandakini Ganga, Madhstra,Vaasu Nadi, Koushiki, Drushdyati or Kaggar, and Hiranyavati. Kurukshetra Thirtha Yatra needs to be intiated by obtaining the permission of the Yaksha called Rastuk, proceed to Aditya Vana where Devi Aditi was stated to have performed her Tapasya in favour of her sons viz. Devataas; proceed to Vishnu Sthaan called ‘Savana’, visit VimalaTirtha to worship Vimaleswara to reap the fruit of attaining Rudra Loka; Kaushiki sangama to wash off the blemishes stored thus far; Dharani Tirthato seek relief for ‘Aparadhaas’ of devotees; Daksheswara Shiva in Dakshaashrama to attain the fruit of Ashvamedha Yagna; Shalukini Tirtha ; then move on to Saptirdadhi to thrash up fears of serpents; then worship Rastuk Dwarapal for an overnight stay there for Kshama Prarthana and Abheestha Siddhi; then visit Panchanaada Tirtha, Koti Tirtha, and Jwaala Maheshwara. Pilgrims to Kurukshetra are advised to definitely perform ‘Pitru Devaarchana’ at the famed Pushkara Tirtha which was constructed by Parashurama Deva and it was believed that worship there would bestow fulfillment of wishes sought by the devotees. Surya Grahana Snaana at the nearby Sarovara called ‘Saannihitya’ is stated to provide access to Swarga after one’s life.  Essentially, Brahmasara Sarovara and the adjacent Sannithisara are deemed as Kurukshetra. Puranas clarify that far well before Maha Bharata Battle, King Kuru built Brahmasara and Sanniti sara Sarovaras. However, there is a misconception that Dwaipayana / Parashara Sarovar is Kurukshetra itself as that sarovar was actually where Duryodhana and Bhima fought the last leg of Maha Bharata Battle. Factually speaking, Brahma sara and Sannihitisara are at Thanesara township off Kurukshetra by a mile. Brahmasara Sarovara and the adjacent Sannithi sara are approx. 5 km wide and as much of length each. Parashara Sarovara is approx 13km from Thanesara. Surya grahana snaanas are normally performed at Thansara Sarovaras or specifically at Jyoti sara where Lord Krishna alomg with Yaduvamsheeyas arrived from Dwaraka as per the Dashama Skandha of Maha Bhagavata before the Maha Bhrata Battle. It is said that apart from Surya Grahana days, Somavati Amavasyas also yield Maha Phala on performing Snana-Dana-Puja to Surya Deva. Incidentally, portions of Bharata Pita Magatma Gandhi’s ashes were formally immersed in the Kurukshetra Sarovara in 1948. The Samnihita besides Brahmasara has special significance for Pitru Tarpanas: Vishnu Dharmottra script underlines: Punah Sannihityaam vai Kurukshetre visheshatah, Archayeccha Pitrustatra sa putrastwanrunobhavet/ (At the Sannihita Tirtha inside Kukukshetra, whatever Pitru Tarpana and Shraddhas are dutifully executed are highly fulfilling in reducing ‘Pitru Runa’ or the indebtedness to Pitru Devatas.) Also Vamana Dwadashi, Krishna Janmashtami, Vijaya Dashami of Navaratras are noteworthy for worship at this Tirtha. Thanesara or Sthaaneshwara Tirtha already referred to in the earlier pages on Kedarnath where Shiva-Vishnu Identity was established is so significant that even sprinkling of water on one’s head, let alone a snaana, would demolish bodily ailments; in fact, *King Vena the erstwhile form of Prithu Chakravarti of Dhruva’s lineage was cured of his leprosy by such sprinkling of this water! [* King Vena was an evil doer and Maharshis of the day forcibly churned his body to destroy the evil in it and Prithu Chakravarthi the epoch making Conquerer of the entire Universe emerged and eventually he controlled Bhu Devi ran away from his control in the form of a cow but Pruthu subdued her and forced her to yield that kind of milk as various beings ranging from Devas to all celestial beings, Danava-Rakshasa- Daithyas, Rishis, humans, Nagaadi Patala vasis etc in the form that they desired like Devas sought Amrita, Danavadis desired blood, Manushyas asked for foodgrains, Nagas wanted poison and Rishis opted for Tapas! Hence Bhudevi is since named as Prithwi after Pruthu Chakravarthi!] Pandavas worshipped Sthaneshwara before Maha Bharata battle for victory. Chandra Kupa (well) is in the midst of Brahmasara Sarovara land where Yudhishtara installed ‘Vijaya Stambha’ after the victory at the Battle. Bhadra Kali Mandir not far from Sthanu Tirtha‘s Shiva Mandir is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas aforementioned as at Kurukshetra where Devi Sati’s right ankle bone fell. Bana Ganga Tirtha some kilometer from Brahmasara is the Place where Arjun of Pandavas hit his arrow to let a flow of water spring from Earth to quench the thirst of Bheeshma Pitamaha the grand father of Kourava Pandavas. Quite near to Thaneshwar is Naabhikamal Tirtha where Brahma was materialised from the Lotus top that emerged from Lord Vishnu’s navel where Brahma’s one of rare temples in Bharat besides  a Vishnu Mandir too are situated. From Kurukshetraby a less than a km are Karna Kheda where Dana Karma gave away considerable charity to Brahmanas before the Great Battle of Kaurava Pandavas of Maha Bharata. From Karna Kheda is the Aapaga Tirtha where Pirtru Tarpanas are performed especially on Bhadrapada Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi afternoon. In the adjacent neighborhood of Kurukshetra are Narakataari where Bhishma the grand father of Pandavas ad Kaurava cousins was laid down on Shara Shayya or bed of arrows awaiting the arrival of Uttarayana to end his life as he had the boon of so doing by his mother Ganga Devi. Kubera Tirtha is on the banks of Saraswati River where Kubera the Lord of Wealth performed a famed Yagjna. Markandeya Tirtha near Kubera Tirtha again on Saraswati River Banks performed worship to Surya Bhagavan and attained final Salvation after living through ‘Yugaantaras’ and beyond Kalpas. Dadhichi Tirtha near Markandeya Ashram is the Illustrious one where Maharshi Didhichi- the son of Bhrigu Maharshi the Brahma Manasa Putra or the mind born son of Brahma gave away in charity to Deva Chief Lord Indra Deva the Maharshis backbone from which Devas materialised Vajrayudha to destroy Vritrasura the most invincible Demon Son of Vishwarupa Maharshi the son of Twashata in a Brahma Yajna. Dadhicha mastered the Narayana Kavacha. Aditi Kunda was the Ashram of Devi Aditi the wife of Maharshi Kashyap the mother of Devas who gave birth to Vamana Deva the Avatar of Vishnu. Besides, there are also Soma Tirtha, Karna Vadha Tirtha, Jayaghara where Arjuna killed Jayadratha who killed the famed Abhimanyu and took his revenge by stopping Sun set as an illusion created by Lord Krishna asArjuna swore that Jayadradha would be killed before Sunset. Parashara-father of Veda Vyasa- Hrada or the Ashram of Parashara and the Sarovara nearby where Duryodhana on the last eighteenth day of Maha Bharata Battle challenged by Bhima, Duryodhana to come out from hiding and entered into a duel or one- to- one -battle and finally got killed by Bhima. Jyotisara Tirhta is the Place where the epoch making Bhagavad Gita was rendered to Arjuna which is meant for posterity too.

Pehva /Pruthudaka: Punyamaahuh Kurukshetram Kurukshetrat Sarasvati,Saraswatyaaccha Tirthaani Tirthobhyascha Pruthudakam/ Pruthudakaat punyatamam naanyat Tirtham Narottamama/ Agjnaanaatt anajnagaanaato vaapi striyaa vaa purushena vaa, Yat kinchidashubham karmam krutam maanushavriddhhinaa/ Tat sarvam nashyate tatra snaatamaatrasya Bharata, Ashwamedhaphalam chaapi labhate swargameva cha/ (Kurukshetra no doubt is a great Punyamnaya Kshetra, but more than that is Saraswati River and the Hallowed Tirthas on its banks most significantly so is the Pruthudaka where mere bathing to men and women should wash off their sins committed knowingly or unknowingly and would reap the Ashwamedha Maha Phala and Swarga Prapti.) -Padma Purana-Swarga Khanda and Maha Bharata TirthaYatra Parva. Pruthu Sarovara or Pehva is situated near Ambala on the Saraswati River banks[ the Story of Prithu Chakravar ti has already been described detailing Sannihita Tirtha in Kurukshetra Mahima in the earlier Pages. On the banks of Saraswati River besides Pruthudaka are other Sacred Ghats as follows: Brahmayoni where Brahma is famed as having initiated Brahma Srishti where reputed Maharshis like Vishwamitra, Sindhu, Arshtishena attained Salvation; Awakirshani Tirtha where Yagjnopaveeta Samskaara is performed by popular faith; Brihaspati Tirtha, Papaantaka Tirtha,Yayati Tirtha where Saraswati River is worshipped by milk-ghee- honey and Pitru Tarpanas performed especially during Chaitra Shukla Pakshas; Rama Tirtha where Parashurama is believed to have executed Yagna, one performs Shraddhas in favour of Parents; Vishwamitra Tirtha and Vasishta Tirtha etc.

Gadhamukteshwar: On the banks of Ganga near Meerut is the popular Gadhamuketeshwar where Mukteshwar Shiva Mandir where Ganga Mandirs too are popular where from Delhi too many devotees throng particularly for Kartika Purnima Snaanas.A ‘Nriga Kup’ or a big Well is a special attraction for Kartika Snanas which are stated to be of a great significance. In fact there are several Mandirs in the area like Jharkandeshwar Shiva Linga, Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, Ram mandir, Chandra Mandir to cure Kshaya or Tuberculosis disease, and so on. Hardly some 12 km from Gadhmukteshwara on the banks of Ganga are scores of Mandirs at Puth like Maha Kaleshwara and Raghunath / Radha Krishna; Mandya Rishi’s Ashram near Mandakeshwara Mahadeva Mandir at Mayu; Varaha Rupa Vishnu who destroyed several Demons as also Ambikeshwara worshipped on Shiva Ratris at Ahar; Karnavas or Bhrigu Kshetra where Bhagavati Durga is stated to have rested after terminating Shumbha-Nikumbha Demon brothers; Kampil Nagar popular for Rameshwar nath and Kaleshwarnath Mandirs, Rudrayana Sthana popular for Pinda daanaShraaddhas in Ashwiyuja Month and so on.

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