Pushkar ( Rajasthan)

Kurma Maha Purana in its 24th chapter on Tirtha Mahatmya narrates: Tirtham Tri- Loka vikhyatam Brahmaanah Parameshthinah, Pushkaram Sarva paapaghnam mritaanaam Brahma lokadam/ Manasaa sasmared yastu Pushkaram vai dwijottamah, Puyare paatakaih sarvaih Shakrena saha modate/ Tatra Devaah sugandharvaah sayakshoragaa raakshasaah, Upaasate siddbha sankhaa Brahmaanam Padma sambhavam/ Tatra snaatvaa bhavecchudro brahmaanam parameshthinam, Pujayitwaa dwijavaraan Brahmaanam samprapashyati/ Tatraabhigamya Devesham Puruhutam -anininditam,Sarupo jaayate martyah sarvaan kaamaanavaapnuyaat/ ( Parameshthi Brahma’s Pushkara named Tirtha is popular all over the Tri-Lokas, as that outstanding Tirtha is at once sin destroying and to those who die there bestows Brahma Loka. Those Dwijottamas sincerely memorise the name of Pushkar are blessed with instant relief of blemishes and enjoy celestial happiness along with Indra the King of Devas. This Pushkar Tirtha is such as worshipped by Gandharva-Yaksha- Naaga-Rakshasa-Siddha companies worship the Lotus seated Brahma directly and to the distinguished Brahmanas who sincerely venerate him so in his presence with Bahyaantara Shuchi or Internal and External cleanliness, ‘Brahma Saakshatkaara’ does happen in reality. Having undertaken a sincere and faithful Yatra to this Pushkara and secure the celestial vision of blemishless Indra too, then fulfillment of one’s desires and aspirations is very easy to obtain indeed.) Both Padma Maha Purana and Maha Bharata asserted: Dushkaram Pushkaram gantum Pushkare tapah, Dushkaram Pushkare daanam vastum chaiva sudushkaram/ Treeni shringaani shubhraani treeniprasavanaani cha, Pushkaraanyaadi siddhhaani na vidyastatra kaaranam/  (Pushkar Yatra is indeed troublesome and is available by one’s own good luck; Residing-giving away daana-performing meditation etc. at Pushkar too are rather difficult to accomplish. Yet visit to Pushkar the enlightening ‘Tirtha Traya’ where Sarasvati River too flows is indeed a Siddha Maha Tirtha for reasons yet unknown) Yathaa Suraanaam sarveshaamaadistu Purushottamah,Tathaiva Pushkaram Raajastirthaanaamaadirupyate/ Yastu Varsha shatam Purnamaadagnihotramupaacharet, Kartikaam vaa vasedekaam Pushkare samameva tat/ (Just as among Devas Purushottama Vasudeva is the most superior, Pushkara is the unique among all theTirthas.[Pushkar, Kurukshetra, Gaya,Ganga, Prabhasa are the Pancha Titrhas and Manasarovara in Tibet, Pushkar, Bindu Sarovara in Siddhapur, Narayana Sarovar in Kutch Region and Pampa sarovara near Hospet are the Pancha Sarovaras]. The outcome of hundred years of Agnihotra Upasna on the one hand and residing and worshipping at Pushkara Tirtha on a Kartika Purnima night are near equivalent.) Padma Purana explains the legendary background of the Pushkara Tirtha: At very beginning of ‘Vishwa Srishti’of Universal Creation, there was a Rakshasa named Vajra naabha who was engaged in the most cruel and wreckless activities; Brahma meanwhile emerged from the Naabhi (Navel) of Vishnu and the latter’s first wish was to perform Yagna and landed at Pushkar even with a part of the stem of the Padma / Lotus with which he killed Vajra naabha. As the lotus was discarded by him, there got a Lake manifested on the banks of which Brahma performed the first ever Yagnya. He carved out aYagna Vedi in the vacant plot between three Holy Areas viz. Sarasvati in the west, Chandra nadi in the North and Nandana sthaan in the East and the region in between as the Yagna Vedi; he created three Pushkar Tirthas viz. Jyeshtha-Madhyama-Kanishtha. All the Maharshis who made their Ashrams and Devas arrived and Bhagavan Shankar as Kapaladhari too arrived. But Devi Savitri delayed and since the Muhurta to commence the Yagna was round the corner, Brahma created Devi Gayatri and married her as meawhile on noticing Gayatri left in an angry huff to a nearby mountain and performed another Yagna on the mountain top. It was stated that Lord Varaaha got manifested from Brahma’s nostril top. Thus, at the present Pushkar Tirtha, besides Brahma, Gayatri, Varaha Bhagavan, Kapaleshwara Shiva, Savitri on the Mountain top, and Agastya Maharshi continue to stay at Pushkar Tirtha till date.

Pushkar’s cynosure is the Brahma Temple, not far from Pushkar Tirtha, and Brahma’s right side is Savitri Mandir and to the left is the Gayatri Mandir; besides the Chaturmukha Brahma are the Idols of Sanakaadi Munis; in a small Mandir is Narada and in another small Mandir are the idols of Kubera seated on elephant. Another Mandir of Pushkar is dedicated to Badari Narayana, but an ancient Varaha Mandir was destroyed and since got re-built. Yet another Mandir of the Tirtha is that of Atmeshwar Maha deva, also called Kapaleshwar or Atapateshwara Maha deva. Near by Pushkar there is a Shuddha vaapi named Gaya  Kund where Pitru shraddas are performed. There is a Savitri Devi Mandir on a nearby mountain top. Yet on another hill top is the famed Gayatri Mandir reckoned as one of the Shakti Peethas where Devi Sati’s Manibandha or wrist ornament fell. In Pushkar Tirtha, there is also ‘Yagna Parvata’ where Brahma performed his illustrious Yagna; there is also the Agastya Ashram and Agastya Tirtha; it is stated that besides Pushkara Snaan , the snaana of Agastya Kunda would only complete Pushkar Yatra, since the Kunda snaan is a total wash off of one’s sins. The most essential snaana of Pushkar is in any case is that of Sarasvati River which is called ‘Praachi Saraswati’ also addressed by five names viz.Suprabha, Kanchana, Praachi, Nanda and Vaishalika. Pushkara’s bathing on Kartika Pournami is stated to be of paramount significance. Some 8 km. away from Pushkar Tirtha is the Sangama of Praachi Sarasvati and Nandaa River. Near by the Sangama, the Naga Parvat has several caves including Bhartruhari Cave and Shila named after him.
Incidentally, the most popular among Muslim Yatris not only in Bharat but among the visitors from the Muslim World, especially in West Asia, Indonesia, the neighbouring countries is the Darga of Md. Chishti at Ajmir, which is a few Km away from Pushkar.

Khatu Shyam, Salasar, Lohargala, Keshavarai, Karani Devi, and Nathadwara : Rajastan’s Khatu Shyama is quite popular from far off places to Ringal, Palsana for darshan of Shamji Bhagavan, as the Mandir draws unusual but orderly crowd patiently waiting for the same, especially on Jyeshtha Shukla Dwadashi, Kartika Shukla Dwadashi and Phalguna Shukla Dwadashi and in any case on all Dwadasis. The legendary background is that Bhima of Pandavas had an affair with Hidimba Devi during Pandava ‘Vanavasa’ or forest life for twelve years and begot Ghatotkacha whose son was Barbarika. Even before the Maha Bharata battle, Lord Krishna sliced off the head of Barbarika but granted the boon of manifesting as Lord Shyama himself in Kali Yuga and would be venerated by his devotees bestowing them of fulfilling all their wishes, espeially on Dwadashis, the days of special significance for Bhagavan Krishna. Saalasar is another Sacred and Unique and exclusive Anjaneya Mandir of Rajasthan approachable from Seekar Raiway Station on South West Railways, pulsating especially with floating but fast moving crowds from dawn till near midnight on all Tuesdays and Saturdays. The Temple known for its spick and span appearance of enlightened Yatris seeking favours for fulfillment; decent facilities for stay overnights are assured to distant yatris.This Place is well known for safety and high marks for decency and any evil doing is instantly punished by Lord Hanuman Himself! Lohargala or ‘Loha garji’ is one of Rajasthan’s popular Tirthas near Navalghad Raiway Station off some 12 km being the unique place for ‘Asthi- Visarjana’ or immersion of mortal ashes brought in pots to ‘Brahma Tirtha’ and its seven water way branches. The legendary background states that since Devatas were greatly fond of Brahma hlada, they requested Lord Brahma to hide it, lest sinners in Kaliyuga would gradually erode into its sanctity with their sins and blemishes. But Himalaya Mountain despatched his son to Lord Brahma called Ketu and in response to the supplicaions Brahma agreed that although Brahma hlada would be invisible, its tributaries would flow as Sapta dharas. After the battle of Maha Bharata, Bhima desired to sanitise his mace from the sin of killing his grand father Bhishma, Gurus, cousin brothers, uncles, and such close relatives. On way to Pushkar Tirtha, Bhima and Pandavas decided to leave behind their arns and armoury and proceed to Pushkara Tirtha. On their return, they discovered their arms were dissolved with the flows of Brahma- hlada and thus the Flows of the invisible Brahma Hlada are since named Lohargalas or the purified throats of the loha or metal! Thus the pots containing the ashes or mortal remains of the dead bodies are instant purifiers of the sins left behind of the departed souls after the ‘asthi visarjana’! At this place of piety and purity, there are special days of Chaitra Somavat Amavasyas and Bhadrapada Amavasyaas when Melas are organised but otherwise each arrival of ‘asthis’ is denoted as a Day of Liberation! At Lohargal, Surya Deva is the Principal Araadhya Devata or the Principal Deity for it is He who is the Prime Link or Chief Messenger between the departed Soul and the Pirtu Loka! Thus there is a Surya Mandir and not far from there is a Surya Kunda, besides some 45 Mandirs in the vicinity, including a Tapakeshwar Mandir since the mountain water constantly drops water on the Shiva Murti!
Keshava Raya Pattana: This Tirtha falls in the Kota Division of Rajasthan and is renowned for its Kartika Purnima Mela and festivities. On the banks of Charmanvati or Chambal River, there is an ancient Kshetra named, Jambukaranya and Jambumargeshwara and Vishnu Tirtha; on the hill top there is this Keshava Raaya Murti with four hands ahead of the idol being a ‘Garuda stambha’ / pillar. The legend about this Holy Tirtha relates to ‘Agjnaana Vaasa’ or the hiding place in the safe hands of Keshava raaya and in the vicinity of Vishnu Tirtha where Pandavas were performing Yagjna Karyas and the old Yagna shaala is still intact. Pandavas installed four Shiva Lingas more in addition to Jambumargeshwara viz, Guptesh -wara, Kedareshwara, Sahasra Lingeshwara and so on. After this first phase of Agjnata vaasa in the care of Keshavaraya himself, Pandavas proceeded to Virat nagar by assuming the changed Forms in the court of King Virat ie Yuddhishtar as Kanku Bhat, Bhima as the Royal cook, Arjun as Brihannala the Eunuch Dance Teacher of the Princess Uttara Devi, Nakula as Horse Doctor at the Royal Stable, Saha Deva as the Physician of Royal Cows and Devi Draupadi as Sairandhri, the Queen’s Maid! Another legend about the Mandir of Keshavaraya Bhagavan was that the Past King of the Area named Ranti Deva once had a dream that in the jungles on the banks of Charmangavati River, there were two Idols of Keshava raya with four hands in white stone and and also another Shyama varna chaturbhuja in black stone would be dug up.Accordingly, the King commenced systematic digging by his soldiers and finally succeeded securing the same and installed both the idols separately as per Sacred Mantras formally. Yet another story related to this Tirtha was that even before this Mandir was built up, Lord Parashu Rama having waged 21 battles to eradicate the Kshatriya clan finally retired to forest life for ‘tapas’.

Karani Devi Mandir of Miracles: Right at the Bikaneer Station is the Mandir of Karani Devi the manifestation of Maya Devi. The story of the Temple is that some 500 years ago, there was a great devotee of Devi Maya named Mehoji who had six daughters but not blessed with a son. A few months ahead of the arrival of the next baby she moved out to Devi Mandir at Hingalaj and performed pujas at a Temple of Maha Maya Devi with utmost devotion and faith seeking the fulfillment of her wish. One night in deep sleep, Devi appeared in her dream and conveyed that she-Devi herself- would give birth to her but not as a boy! Mehoji was thrilled and non-plussed! She conveyed this news to all family members and neighbours as well with confidence and pride. Indeed the baby arrived at a very auspicious time and was named Rithubai or in course of time as Karani Devi who since from childhood was performing miracles; her every word and action was helpful to one and all and became famed as the ‘one who does’without fail! The word went round and the Marvad King who was suffering from an incurable boil on his back  which could not be cured by teams of top medical doctors was cured by merely touching his back. In course of time she left her mortal body; the King got a Pratima and installed amid celebrations, Anna Danas to the poor and charities besides Yagnas and religious activities. She was declared as Kula Devata and her acts of miracles continue till date attracting huge following and crowds. Karani Devi seated on a golden throne blesses fulfilling desires of all who seek her darshan and worship. One significant feature of this Mandir is that this is the haven for sheltering and proctecting mice which too are believed to grant one’s wishes! The Mandir of Karani Maya is now popular as Jaisalmir Devi of miracles!

Nathadwara : Not far from Marwad and not even from Ahmedabad is the most famed and highly popular Tirtha on Ahmedabad-Delhi line at Marvad Junction of Western Railways with excellent road connections. Also there are decent and comfortable places to stay at Nathdwara. The most important Mandir which is ever crowded is of Shri Nathji, reckoned as one of Bharat’s outstanding Vaishnava Peethas run by Vallabhacharya Vamsha Tilakaayata.Shrinathji’s miralces are described as many: Once when there was an apprehension of Muslim Rulers invading Vraja Bhumi, the Pratima of Shri Natha was taken to a safer place in Mewar and when was being moved out, the bullock cart by which it was being brought, broke its axis and gave way at the Bilwara Village.It was then presumed by those responsible for the shift decided to install the Pratima there itself; since its installation, the miracles displayed were so many that today, mere darshan with faith of the yatris has proved as definite fulfillments. Shri Nath’s puja is performed with great ‘Nishtha’ or purity of body and soul at the Temple.In fact, the visitors get moved being replete with joy and and vibration of body and heart! As the darshan is provided in intervals of time, many devotees are desirous of repeat darshans in spite of waiting their turns in meandering queues.The Mandir affords to spend fortunes on its upkeep thanks to its rapidly increasing income and assets. The Prashad at the Temple is as delicious and sacred as at Jagannatha Mandir at Puri, as here too the Prashad is fully devoid of ‘sparsha dosha’ or the blemish of touch! Nearby in the vicinity of the Mandir are the Idols of Navanita Laala, Vithalnatha, Kalyana kaaraya, Madanmohana, and Vanamaali at their Mandirs. In one Temple Devi Meera bai is also seated blissfully. Kankaroli’s Dwarakaadheesha and the Chaturbhuj Rupanarayana Mandirs are also not too distant from Nathdwara.

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