Vindhyachala, Ujjain, Bade Ganesha, Kshipra, Omkareshwara, Narmada Mahatya

Vindhyachala Kshetra: Both Devi Bhagavata and Markandeya Purana referred to Devi Ambika referred to her pridiction of the birth and destruction of two notorious and powerful Daitya brothers named Shumbhu and Nishkumbha, in the lineage of Hiranyakashipu- in the twenty eighth Vaivaswata Manvantara and stated : Nandagopa gruhe jaataa Yashoda garbha sambhavaa, Tasmai naashayipyaami Vindhyaachala nivasini/ (I shall manifest myself as the baby of Yashoda and as Devi Vindhyachala Vaasini would exterminate the brothers myself). Devi Bhagavata also referred to the deep tapasya of Swayambhuva Manu to Ambika Devi-the first in the series of fourteen Manus, the present Vaivaswata Manu being the eighth one- and not only bestowed to him the boon of Saraswata Mantra and assured that who so ever practised the Mantra with faith and grit would accomplish Salvation and in his/ her on-going life enjoy luxurious living, Jatismarata or memory of past lives, outstanding intelligence and vocal powers. Markandeya Purana describes in detail how Maha Devi was realised by Devas as Kaushiki Devi or Kalika of dark skin but of extraordinary beauty and charm when she bathed afresh in the pure waters of Ganga and approached her to save them from the Shumbha Nishkumbha brothers and she assured Devas of her help; meanwhile Chanda Munda Danavas who were the followers of Kaushiki Devi’s stunning beauty and informed their Masters Shumbha and Nishkumbha. The masters sent thier emissaries to convey the message of love of theirs but Chanda Munda brothers were killed by Kaushiki Devi. Dhumralochana, Raktabeeja and other followers of Shumbha brothers were despatched but Devi Kaushiki created Chamundi who destroyed them too. Finally, Devi Kaushiki killed the Daitya brothers and brought peace to Devas and the Trilokas. Devi Bhagavata further states that Devi Vindhyavaasini or Kaushiki Devi puja would have far reaching benefits: Pashyatastu manoreva jagaama Vindhya parvatam, Lokeshu prathitaa Vindhya vaasiniiti cha Shounaka/ (Shounaka Muni! Puja of Vindhya vaasini and darshana as also the hearing of her episode is indeeed result in enemy destruction, achievement of success all around and enhancer of knowledge levels, besides fulfillment of desires). The Temple of Vindhyachala vaasini is hardly a furlong away from the banks of Holy Ganga which is again 3km. from Mirjapur. Vindhyaachala  has three Mandirs of Vindhya Vaasini or Kaushiki Devi, Maha Kaali, Ashta Bhuja, all packed as Trikona Yatra. Vindya vaasini is standing on the back of a lion with constant recital of Durga Sapta Shati, especially during the Navaratra celebrations. Facing the main Kaushiki Devi Mandira’s fore-yard has sides one with the Dwadasha Bhuja or twelve Armed Devi, Sarpareshwara Shiva, Mahakaali and Darmadhwaja Devi. Vindhayachala Vaasini is among the 108 Shakti Peethas. Quite near to the Vindhyavaasini Mandir is the Vindheshwara Mahadeva Mandir. Maha Kaali is basically Chamundi devi and this Place is called Kalikoha which is a couple of km away and there are ups and downs of the hill; this Devi pratima is small but has broad face. Near Kaalokoha is the Bhairava Sthaana and some 125 steps of ascent is situated a Krishna Mandir. From Kaalikoha, Ashta bhuja is not far and this Devi is known as Devi Sarasvati. In the Vindhyachala Kshetra are also situated Markandeya which is also the Sangama Sthaana of Ganga and Gautami, besides Markandeyeshwar Mahadeva Mandir, popular for Shivaratri worship; Kauleshwar naatha or Sakalaheeda also popular for Shiva Ratri celebrations and Jamadagni Ashram or popular as Jamania; Charanadri which is theTapo Bhumi of King Bhartrihari- the Philosopher Poet and the elder brother of the famed King Vikramaditya of Ujjain- and the abode of Vallabha sapraya ‘Kupa Mandir’ of Vitthal nadha also called Gupta Brindavana, besides Hanuman Mandir, and Durga kund. The City of Mirjapur is hardly 12 km away from it.

ujjain (Avantika) on Bhopal/ Agra Lines- near Indore, Madhya Pradesh: Maha Kaalah saricchipra gatishchaiva sunirmalaa, Ujjainiam Vishalaakshi Vaasah kasya na rochayet/ Snaanam kritwaa naro yastu Mahanadyaam hi durlabham, Mahaa Kaalam namaskrutya Naro mrityum na shochayet/ Mritah Keetah Patango vaa Rudrasyaanucharo bhavet/ Skanda Purana, Avantya Khanda, Avanti Kshetra Mahatmya (Where Mahaakal is there, Kshipra river is there and where nirmala or clean and clear thoughts and conduct and tranquility prevail, that is the most ideal Place for bathing in Kshipra and discard all hardships and prostrate to Maha Kaal Deva leaving far behind the psyche of death and destruction. Indeed, even worms and flies after death are destined to become the Followers and Servants of Rudra Deva Himself!). Skanda Purana describes the conversation of Devi Parvati and Maha Kaala as the latter explains about the Mahatmya of Avanti Kshetra for more than one reason: It is the abode four major rivers, viz. Kshipra, Divya Nava, Nilaganga and Gandhavati; Ashta Matrikas viz. Uma, Chandi, Eshrari, Gauri, Ruddhida, Siddhida, Varayakshini and Veerabhadra; Maha Maya Sati called Kapala Matrika who has Seven Matrika Associates viz. Ambika, Sheetala, Siddhi daayani, Ekaanamsha, Brahmani, Parvati, and Yoga shalini; Chatisshasthi Yoginis, besides of Ekadasha Rudras viz. Kapardi, Kapaali, Kaala naatha, Vrishasan, Triambak, Shulapani, Chiraavaasa, Digambara, Girisha, Kamachari, Sarpabhushana Sharva; Ashta Bhairavas viz. Dandapaani, Vikrant, Maha Bhairava, Batuk, Baalak, Bandi, Shatpancha Shatak, and Apara Kaala Bhairava. There are also ten Vishnu Swarupas vix. Vasudeva, Ananta, Balarama, Janardana, Narayana, Hrishi kesha, Varaaha, Dharanidhara, Vamanarupa and Seshashaayi; Six. Ganeshas viz. Ruddhi Siddhi daata, Kaama daata, Ganapati, Vighna nasshaka, Pramodi and Chaturdhi Vrata Priya; Dwadasha Adityas viz. Aruna, Surya, Vedanga, Bhanu , Indra, Ravi, Anjuman , Suvarna reta, Aha Karta, Mitra, Vishnu and Shanatana.It is the Place for Kapala Vimochana or where Shiva begged of alms in Brahma’s skull from Annapurana and the breaking of the skull at the Maha Kaala Vana caused such reverberation that Daityas headed by Haya who utilised Maya and its Illusions in stealthily attacking and tormen ting Devaganas were destroyed once for all. Ujjaini is the Place where Parama Shiva killed Tripurasuras with his Pashupataastra; Avantipuri is another name where Vishnu protected Devas from Danavas as he dragged them from hiding at Meru and terminated them to save Devas and restored Swarga; Kutasthali is another name which Brahma selected to preserve creation by throwing Kushagrass on Bhumi and Padmavati since Amrita was distributed by Mohini to Devas and Lakshmi was restored to Vishnu. Ujjain is considerd as the Naabhi or navel of Prithvi. This indeed is the famed Dwadasha Linga Pradesha by the illustrious presence of Mahakala Linga. It is further signified as being one of the 51 Shakti Peethas where Devi Sati’s (kurpar or ‘kehuni’) elbow point fell at Harasiddhi Devi Mandir at Rudra Saagar Sarovar.Among the most essential Places not to be missed in Ujjain of course is Mahakala Mandir itself: Akaashe Taarakam Lingam Pataale Hatakeshwaram, Martya lokeMahakaalam Linga Traya namostute! Maha Kaleshwar Linga Mandira Praangan or Courtyard is quite wide and in the Centre is the ‘Garbha’ or ‘Sanctum sanctorum’ where Maha Kaaleshwara Linga is visualised in the Lower Level and Omkareshwara Linga is precisely on the higher plane. The fairly broad Maha Kaal Linga is Naaga Pariveshthita or surrounded by serpents made of silver and a hanging tub with incessant drops of Sacred Water on the top of the Linga, with Ganesha on one side, Devi Parvati on the other and yet another Kartika Deva with Ghee and Oil Lamps ever lit up. On the higher plane of the Southern side is the Mandir are the Anadi Kaleshwar and Vriddha Kaleshwara placed. Nearby the Maha Kaleshwara Mandir’s Sabha Mandap is the Koti Tirtha with small Shiva Umbrellas placed and a Dharma shala too. In the sabha Mandap are Shri Rama Mandir and Avantikapur’s Adhishthatri Avantika Devi Murti too.[An interesting facet of Mahakal Linga abhisheka with ‘bhasma’ or Ash is performed early morning which is indeed a thrilling experience as witnessed by this Script Writer years ago; the belief is that this bhasma is of the burnt remains of a human corpse as sanctified on the banks of the Sacred waters of Kshipra with appropriate Veda mantras but women are barred from visioning the abhisheka except however by the CCTV; since the space in the Sanctom Sanctorum is extremely limited only fortunate men too could possibly witness the ‘bhasmaabhisheka’ live as executed along with the mix of the cadence of select musical and percussion instruments in tune with the veda mantra pronounciation. The Ritual is followed by Namaka- Chamaka Mantras too with Panchamritas]  The Temple Priests enable to let Yatris to participate in Sahasra Lingarchanas to Mrittika Lingas placed in the appropriate positions along with Mananyaasa-Namaka Chamaka Mantras as also Ekadasha Lingarchanas with minimum costs in the premises of the Mandir. Indeed, Mahakaal is the unique Tirtha of Mantra-Maha Tantra-Yantra which generates instant vibration with the pro-active practioners of these Vidyas around.

Bade Ganesha: Even near the Maha Kaal Mandir, is the Big Ganesha Mandir which is indeed very attractive. Nearby the Ganesha is also the Panchamuka Mandir and the idol is made of Sapta Dhatu or of brass, bronze, copper, silver, gold etc. Harasiddhi Devi Mandira: It is stated that King Vikramaditya of Avantika was satisfied by worshipping the original Harasiddhi Devi Shakti Peetha in Saurashtra of Gajarat at Mool Dwarika’s mountain top at the Seashore and this replica too has ShriYantra and both the Murtis are alike too. Behind this Mandir of Harasiddhi is Agasteshwara Sthaana. Gadh Kalika on Bhairava Gadh hill is the Maha Kalika Mandir whose worship was performed the Great Poet Kalidaas the famed Scripter of Abhigjnaana Shakuntalam, Megha Sandesh and such immortal works in Sanskrit and the Renowned Nava Ratnas /Nine Gems of King Vikramaditya a great lover of Arts and Literature. Far more significantly, this renowned Temple is one of the Shakti Peetha where Devi Sati’s upper lip fell here. Skanda Purana describes the Place as follows: Ujjainyaam Maha Kaali Maha Kaaleshwareshwari, Kshipraa teera sthitaa Maataa vanchitartha pradaayani/ This Devi is also known as Rakta Dantika and Chamundi. Skanda Purana describes the Legend of Andhakasura / Rakta beeja the notorious enemy of Devas and even Maha Deva himself had Brahma’s boon that each drop of his blood could create another Asura like himself; Devi Kausiki created Chamundi / Rakta Dantika who assumed an awesome figure and licked up eacha and every Rakta beeja with unusual swiftness and fury while Maha Deva pierced his Trishula right into the heart of Rakta Beeja once for all enabling the stoppage of further blood. In the Garbha Place of the Temple, Maha kaali appears fearful with her blood red lips and streched our tongue supressing Andhakasura under her feet; incidentally, Andhakasura sought refuge from Maha Deva who granted him eventally as Bhringi the head of His Shiva Ganaas. Besides the Maha Kaali Murti are the two Devis Lakshmi and Saraswati as also Hanumanteshwari Linga and Sthira Ganesha. Celebrations are organised during the Ashwiyuja Maasa Nava Ratris and Ashadha month’s first nine days fot austerities and upavasas as also Japas of Kaama Beejakshari and Navakshari Mantra. The Mandir would then during these celebrations reverberate with the chanting of Shaptashati Stotras! Bhatruhari Caves: About half a km from Kalika Mandir is the Bhatruhari Samadhi and Bhatruhari Cave which needs to be entered with care and vigil as it is a zig zag puzzle path inside which many visitors lost their way and could not survive. Bhatruhari was the elder brother of King Vikramaditya and Philosopher- Poet who discarded Kingship in favour of his younger brother Vikramaditya. Kaala Bhairava Mandir is on the banks of Kshipra River some two km from the centre of Ujjain, with a black stone Bhairava Deva seen in a Dog Form with an open mouth and hanging tongue from a throat into which liquids – including hard liquors- are fed and magically half of the naivedyas or offerings come out as Tirtha Prasads as exactly half of the quantity offered, apparently the rest of the liquor drenched out into a drain.Bhairavashtami on Ashwiyuja Krishnashtami is worshipped and celebrated on this day. Siddha Vata or the or the Hallowed Banyan Tree before Kaala Bhairava on the other side of Kshipra River is considered very significant for Naga Bali and Narayana Bali or Sacrifies under this Tree.  Sandipani Ashram where Lord Sri Krishna, Bala Rama and Sudama were students of Sandipani Muni. This is also the Seat of Vallabhacharya the Guru of ‘Mata’ or distinct Hindu Faith with several followers. Mangalanatha Mandira: The famed Mandir of Mangala Graha Deva stated to be unique on Earth is in Ujjain and draws large crowds of devotees on all Tuesdays, especially from Uttar Bharat. Vedha Shaala is a unique Astronomy Centre of the yore to study the movement of Graha-Nakshatra-Rashis in the ancient Hindu way where an ancient Yantra is still in Place.            
Kshipra: It is stated that River Kshipra emerged from Maha Vishnu’s body. This Sacred River at Ujjain has organised Ghats on its banks of which Narasimha ghat, Rama ghat, Pischacha mochana Tirtha, Chhatri ( Umbrella) Ghat and Gandharva Tirtha are popular. Each of these Ghats have Mandirs dedicated to the respective Deities. Festivities are celebrated at these Ghats and are visited by Yatris from far and near especially on Ganga Dussehra, Kartika Purnima and Vaishakhi Purnima. As Lord Brihaspati the Deva Guru enters Simha Raashi, Kshipra Snaanas are innumerable by Yatris. There is a bridge across the Sacred River from Gandharva Tirtha and on the other side of the River are the Places of Kedareshwar and Lord Hanuman. The Smashan Vaati or Burial Ground and Rina Mukta Maha Deva Mandir are famed on that side of the bridge. Organised Yatras are facilitated from Ujjain including Twenty Eight Tirthas like Rudra sarovar, Nrisimha Tirtha, Nila Ganga Sangama, Pishacha vimohana Titha, Gandharva Tirtha, Kedar Tirtha, Chakra Tirtha, Paapa vimochana Tirth, Runa Vimochana Tirtha, Kaala Bhairava, Dwadashaarka Tirtha, Kapilashrama, Angaraka Tirtha, Pretamochana, Danda Paani, Kapala vimochana etc. Similarly, Sapta saagara Yatra liker RudraSagara, Pushkara sagara, Maha Bhairava Simhapuri and on. Also Yatras are organised Dwadasha Yatras of Gupteshwara, Agasteshwara, Dhindheshwara, Damarukeshwara, Anadi Kapileshwara, ad so on commencing from Pishachamochana Tirtha. Yatras to Sapta Sagaras viz. Rudra Sagara near Harasiddhi, Pushkara Sagara or Naliya bakhala, Ksheera Sagara or Daabri, Govardhana Sagara or Buddha Vaar, Ratnaakara Sagara or Ungasegaon, Vishnu Sagara and Purushotama Sagara or Ankapaada.

Omkareshwara (Mandhata): Devakhyaana samam hotam matprasaadaad bhavuishtati,Anna daanam tapah puja tathaa praana visarjanam, Ye kurvanti Naraasteshaam Shiva Loka nivasanam/ (Omkareshwara Tirtha is indeed unique and celestial and due to the extreme mercy of Maha Deva,and all charity works like Anna daana, tapas and worship to Amareshwara Linga are truly rewarding and in the event of one’s Life’s termination, Shiva Loka Prapti is assured!)-Skanda Purana, Reva Khanda. Another stanza of the Purana is also relevant: Amaraanaam shataischiva sevito Amareshwarah, Tathaiva Rishisanghaischa tena punyatamo Mahaan/ (As this outstanding Tirtha of Amareshwara is worshipped relentlessly by thousands of Devatas and Rishis, it has excelled itself in rewarding them wholesomely and keep multiplying to their prayers too to the ‘Maha Punya’to add to the faith of the yatris). Omkareshwara Jyotir Linga is situated in the hills in the shape of OM in Sanskrit on thebanks of Sacred Narmada; as this is Omkareshwara-Amaleshwara it is misled as Mamaleshwara.Shiva Purana which gives an account of Dwadasha Maha Lingas reveals the Legend that Sage Narada visited Vindhyachala Raja as the latter bragged to the Muni of his great height literally and superiority, but Narada provoked that Meru Montain was taller and magnificent; the hurt Vindhya King executed severe Tapasya and pleased Maha Deva as the King desired that Maha Deva should be present as a Great Linga of repute. Shankara granted the request and thus the background of Omkareshwar. Vindhya King got puffed up and recalling Sage Narad’s teasing that Meru was taller, enhanced his height unusually and the path of Surya in the Bhu bhramana creating days and nights was disturbed creating Universal choas. Maha Deva instructed Sage Asgastya then residing at Varanasi to teach a lesson to Vindhya Raja; the Muni along with his wife Lopamudra reached Vindhya Raja and jokingly asked the King whether he would not bend down to pay his reverence. As he did so, Agastya never gave his permission to the King to stand up again and Vindhya King remained in that bent position eversince. The Sage told his wife that they would never cross the Vindhya Region later everagain and Vindhya King would be in that position ever. Another legend is of King Mandhata of Ikshwaku Clan- the ancestor of Lord Shri Rama of Ramayana-and the King’s glorious sons Ambarisha and Muchukunda did severe Tapasya and pleased Maha Deva to present Hiimself in the Form of a Holy Shiva Linga and did the homage to thier father Mandhata by naming the Linga Pradesha as on Mandhata Mountain; thus of this Holy Place is also named after Mandhata (Shivapuri). Omkareshwar Linga is situated on the three -tier hill and the Yatri would have to ascend steps on the banks of Narmada; it appears that one has to enter a cave and the entry door is narrow. Yatris are allowed to participate in special Panchamrita-Abhishakas as in Kasi or other Ekadasa Shiva Linga Kshetras at prescribed timings with Namaka Chamaka Parayana etc. Besides the Main Linga, one could also vision Devin Parvati and Pancha Mukha Ganesha. From the first level of the Temple with Omkareshwara Linga, Yatris could take to a few steps to the second level for the darshan of Maha Kaaleshwar Linga Murti and further up to the third level the darshan of Vaidyanatheshwar Linga Murti too. After the Darshana of Omkareshwar, it would be worthwhile to cross Narmada and visit Amaleshwara Linga and a ‘pradakshina’ of it, one could visit Vriddha Kaleshwara, Baneshwara, Mukteshwara, Kardameshwara and Tilabhandeshwara Mandirs too. Around Omkareshwara are the sangama of Kaveri-Narmada and Choubees Avatars or 24 Manifestations of Pashupatinath, Kuber Bhandari or Kubereshwara Mandir and ‘Saat maata’ or Sapta Matrika Mandir with Varaahi, Chamunda, Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Indrani, Koumari and Maheshwari. Interestingly, there is a Sita vaatika and Maharshi Valmiiki Ashram where Lav-Kush Kumars of Shri Rama were born as that was where Janaki resided. Besides, 64 Yogini and 12 Bhairava Murtis, as also Sita kund, Rama kund and Lakshman kund are visible too.

Narmada Mahatmya:
Maha Padma Purana in Swarga Khanda quotes Sage Narada to have explained to Yuddhistar the Pandava King : Punyaa Kankhale Ganga Kurukshetre Saraswati, Graamevaa yadi vaaranye punyaa sarvatra Narmadaa/ Tribhihi Sdarasvatam punyam saptaahena tu Yaamunam, Sadyah punaati Gaangeyam darshan aadeva Naarmadam/ (Ganga in Haridwar and Saraswati in Kurukshetra are indeed ‘Punyamayis’ or fruitful but Narmada River, be it in villages or forests is always replete with Punya. The belief is that Sarasvati River dips and ‘snaana’ for three days, Yamuna snaana for a week and Ganga snaana is instatly fruitful; but the very sight of the Sacred waters of Narmada bestows the same type of Purification and Punya!) Narada continues the explanation that Narmada is known for its worth in all the Lokas to one and all including Devatas, Asuras, Gandharvas and Tapodhana Rishis, especially those who observed continuous Tapas and attained Fulfllment. Those who take formal snaana and observe cleanliness of body and mind engaged in sincere meditation overnight would achieve the far reaching benefit of redeeming his past hundred generations. Those who bathe in the Janeshwar Tirtha with discipline and faith and offer Pinda daana to Pitrus would satsify their Souls till the end of Pralaya in the world. Once one performs Snaana and Puja by offering flowers, chandana, camphor light, Abhiseka, Naivedya and other such services to Rudra Deva on Amara kantak mountain, besides observing celibacy and control of Indriyas as also performing Tarpanas to Devas and Devarshis then again he and seven generations would be redeemed. The Reva Khanda of Skanda Purana quotes the conversation of King Yudhishtar and Agastya Maharshi and describes the origin of Narmada as in the days of yore, King Pururava of Chandra vamsha who ruled over the entire Bhu Loka as Indra was to Swarga. He asked Sages in a Conference as to what should be the singular solution to attain values of Life, fullfillmet and happiness besides Salvation as the normal public is not adept inYagnaadi Karma Kanda etc. Maharshis unanimously suggested that this sinful world, the ordinary ‘praja’ could be redeemed if only the Holy Narmada was brought down to Earth. King Pururava then performed very severe and sincere Tapas to Maha Deva without food for years together and the latter obliged with his darshan and sought Pururava’s wish.Then Maha Deva who was reluctant first but finally asked Devi Narmada to descend from Swarga. Devi Narmada no doubt agreed but wondered as to who could bear the brunt of the fall from Swarga. Maha Deva instructed Vindhya Giri and the latter asked his son Paryanka Mountain to bear the brunt  when Mekala Kanya Narmada descended to Earth. She rushed down with tremendous speed and sound as though there was a Pralaya and she submerged forests, hills, villages, Ashrams and land of about 1320 km. of length. The Sacred Narmada is the traditional boundary of Uttara Bharat and Dakshina Bharat between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges of mountains finally merging into Arabian Sea through Kambhat Gulf in Gujarat. The total River basin of nearly 4 lakh sq. Km area benefitting Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajastan. Far more than the material benefits of land fertility, industry and power, the Great Narmada facilitates reaping of Spiritual rewards enabling Snana- Dana-Japa-Homa-Veda paatha- Pitru Pujana- Devaaradhana-Mantropadesha-Ananta Phala by way of rewarding the enhancement of the Spiritual values of Human Life! Skanda Purana prescribes the Spiritual tasks on the most rewarding days, viz. Vaishakha-Maagha-Kartika Purnimas, Vishuwa Yoga timings, Sankranti dinas, Vyatipata and vaidhruti yoga timings, Amavayas, Manvaadi- Yugaadi-KalpaadiTithis, and Maatru-Pitru Tithis. Narmada snaana, daana, japa, homaadi pujas are stated to reap Ashwamedha yagna phala. Agastya Maharshi finally advises King Yudhishtara in Skanda Purana that any human being on early mornings renders the hymns of praise to Narmada would reduce down the brunt of accumulated blemishes of his or hers past sins and indeed the snaana-Baana Linga puja as prescribed shall fortify the path of ascent to Shivadhaama! Skanda Puran’s Reva Khand itself quotes two other versions of Markandeya to Yughishthar about the origin of Narmada River. One is that of King Pururava of Chandra Vamsha who did deep Tapasya to Maha Deva who granted to him the boon for the descent of Narmada from Swaraga and Vindhya Giri’s son Paryanka undertook the task of bearing the brunt of holding the mighty flow of Narmada Devi, as explained as earlier. Another version is given that King Hiranya Teja again of Chandra Vamsha too did the Tapasya to Maha deva with similar desire of ensuring ‘loka kalyan’ and the same was granted by Maha Deva who instructed Vindhya Raja and his son Paryanka. A third vesion is being now given that that King Purukutsa the son of King Mandhata of Surya Vamsha did Tapasya to Mahedeva who granted the boon to let Narmada Devi flow downfrom Swarga controlled by Paryanka the son of Vindhya King. Continuing the third version, Markandeya describes that as soon as Narmada landed on the Mount top of Prayanka, where in the past Pruthu Chakravarti performed Ashwamedha Yagnam Deva, Gandharwa, Yaksha, Marud, Ashwani Kumars, Piscacha, Rakshasa, Naga, Tapasvi Maharshis were non-plussed with joy and excitement and profusely thanked Purukutsa for his unforgettable efforts. Devas requested Narmada Devi to shake hands with her so that they too would be purified further. She replied that since she was still unwed she would not to like to shake her hands with any body; Devas replied that the best candidate for the wedding would be King Purukutsa himself as he was actually Lord Samudra himself but due to Brahma deva’s ‘shaap’or curse, he was born in Martya loka. Narmada who was also aware of King Purukusa’s previous background readily expressed her consent to wed him and pushed off making roaring sounds rushing westward like a released arrow submerging deep forests, hill tops and green pastures; on her banks were sprouted Tirthas, Mandirs, and Holy Places as humanity in the concerned streches performed holy dips, baths, tarpanas, and on its banks performed yagnas, homas, Pujas, daanas, ‘tapas’, japas and such several redeeming punya karyas eversince as the Maha Narmada set the tone of devotees for destroying sins of varying magnitude. Meanwhile, Narmada Devi the sister of Naaga/ Serpent brothers   absorbed her after her merger in Samudra respectfully into Rasatala as per the instructions of Vishnu to King Vasuki. Maha Vishnu Purana describing Surya/ Chandra Raja Vamsha details reference to Gandharva-Naaga battle in Rasaatala as six crores of Gandharvas descended there for hunting the priceless ‘Ratnas’ on the Naaga heads. Naagas prayed for protection in desperation and Lord Vishnu instructed King Purukutsa to destroy the warring Gandharvas and protect Naagas. In turn, Naagas expressed gratitude to Purukutsa to wed Devi Narmada who has already made up her mind to wed him. As a wedding gift, Naagas gave a boon to the newly weds that whosoever bathed in Narmada or even took her name would be saved from the fear of snakes and their poisonous bites: Narmadaayi namah Pratarnamaadaayi namo nisha, Namostu Narmade tubhya traahimaam visha sarpatah/( Devi Narmada! My salutations to you in the day time or night; do kindly safeguard me from fear of serpents and their poisonous bites!). This recitation while entering dark or even well-lit places especially while eating food should save from any kinds of poises thanks to Narmada and Purukutsa!

Amarakantaka Tirtha: Padma Purana emphasises the significance of Amarakantaka Tirtha: Chandra Suryoparaagepu gacched yomarakantakam, Ashwamedhaad dasha gunam pravadanti maneeshanah/ Swargalokamavaapnoti tatra drushtwaa Maheshwaram, Tatra Jwaleshwari naama parvatemarakantake/ Tatra snaatwaa divan yaanti ye mrutaastepunarbhaavaah, Amaraa naama Devaaste parvate -marakantake,Kotisha Rishi mukhyaaste tapastapyanti Suvrataah/ ( Those who reach Amara kanta Parvata at Chandra or Surya grahana times are blessed with ten times of performing Ashwamedha Yagna as is opined by Vidwans! On the Amarakantaka Parvata, Jwaaleshwara Baana Linga is manifested and mere vision of this Maha Baana Linga authorises Swarga Loka Nivasa!Those who take snaana at these eclipses would not have re-birth as on this Sacred Mountain, crores of Devatas and principal Rishi ganaas keep observing many vratas and tapas constantly). In the Reva Khanda of Skanda Purana Maharshi Markandeya underlines the unique significance of this confidential and most fruitful visit to Amarakanta. In the days of yore, Lord Brahma performed Soutramani Yagna and Lord Indra executed Ashwamedha Yagna. Maharshi Dadhichi and several Devas too organised various Yagnas. It is from these several yagna karyas, Chatu named river flowed into Sacred Narmada and this Sangama too is quite reputed. The intermediate region at the Sangam of these two rivers as also the Parikrama Marga of Siddheshwara and Chatushkeswara is the outstanding Place for Pitru Shraaddas and Tarpanas as so effective that they accomplish total redemption.Parikrama of the two stated Lingas has unaccountable Mukti and the assurance of Markandeya to Yudhishtara is that Deva- Asura-Naga Kanyas too who are invisible too join the Parikramas! In the Reva Khand of Skanda Purana as summarised in the Essence of Skanda Purana released by, Sage Suta enlightened a Congregation of Rishis that Narmada ‘Snaans’ at various points of Her Course cutting the Vindhya Mountains and peaks every where on way were not only refreshing and cool but are Sacred and divinely and those who perform the baths, especially of early hours of a day, secure Punya of several Snaans of Ganga! The Sacred Snaans at that time are instant destroyers of sins committed in the current and previous lives.On the northern side of the River is situated Anantapur where Anantasiddhi Linga is popular and is stated to be the hub of Maharshis like Saavarni, Kaushik and Aghamarshan performing Vratas and Tapas. Sage Valmiki is also stated to have lived here for long till attainment of Moksha. Another important Tirth named Dipeswar or Vyasa Tirtha is known for Vrishabha daan (Charity of a bull) on Kartika Krishna Paksha Chaturdasi bestowing Swargavaas after life. At the Narmada- Varangana Sangam is popular to wash off physical ailments and nearby the Sangam is situated the Siva kshetra where rituals of „Snaan and Daan‟during Solar Eclipse award the same impact as at Kurukshetra; this is the abode of Narmada, Siva and Vishnu the latter being called Utpalaavarta having thousand heads! It is the belief that even flies and birds here reach Haridhaam, let alone human beings. Tripuri Kshetra is noted as a popular and powerful Tirtha where eight Swayambhu Lingas manifested on their own, where any act of Virtue would have manifold fruits of life. Sage Markandeya recalled an interesting happening about the Tripuri Kshetra: Swayambhu Manu-the first Manu-heard at Ayodhya while sleeping the remote sounds of bells and Vasishtha explained to Manu that those sounds were heard from Tripuri on the banks of Sacred Narmada, from the aeroplanes taking off from the roofs of virtuous human beings destined to celestial worlds like Kailasa, Vaikuntha and Indra loka. Swayambhu Manu immediately left for Tripuri and performed several rituals including Aswamedha Yagna and prayed to Devi Narmada who blessed the Manu that in his lineage one famous Bhagirath would be borne in Treta Yuga and would succeed bringing Pavitra Ganga to „Aryavarta‟ from the Celestial Worlds! In the Tripuri Kshetra itself, Sage Bhrigu prayed to Trilochan Siva being desirous of the darshan of His Third Eye and as Siva obliged with His appearance, the Sage asked for the boons of obtaining Siddhis, formation of Bhrigu Tirtha with His presence always, manifesting Eight Rudras in the Bhrigu Tirtha named Bhrigu, Shooli, Ved, Chandra, Mukha, Attahaas, Kaal and Karaali; and granting benevolence to visitors of Bhrigu Tirtha as a sin-destroyer. Similarly Bhagavan Soma (Chandra) prayed to Siva to set up Soma Tirtha as the Sangam of the three Rivers viz. Ganga, Jamuna and Narmada. Narmadapuri on the bank of Narmada was indeed worthy as Sage Jamadagni prayed to Maha Deva and secured a Kama Dhenu and King Kartaveeryarjuna being jealous of the prized possession, took away the Holy Cow by force after killing Jamadagni and the Sage‟s son Parasurama not only killed the most powerful King of the Time but also uprooted the concept of Kshatriyas and Kings by waging twenty one battles; he set up a Memorial named Devadroni (Kapila Dhenu) where Pinda daanas continued to be performed to Jamadagi and ancestors.Sage Markandeya narrated the renowned happening of a „Nishad‟ (Hunter) to Yudhishthar about the formation of Trinetra Kund as the high devotee of Siva Linga discovered that the Third Eye was missing on the Linga, cut his own eye as a replacement to it by resisting extreme pain and flow of blood and pasting it on the third eye position of the Siva Linga; Maha Deva appeared before Nishad with blind faith, extreme sense of sacrifice and unnerving devotion and granted him „Siva Sayujyam‟(Attainment of Oneness with Siva). Sapta Sarasvat Tirtha came into being since a Gandharva, who was an excellent singer of hymns extolling Parama Siva, got into the habit of drinking and Nandi cursed that the singer be born to a Chandala. The Singer became extremely repentant and entreated Nandi to show a means of reversing the curse; the Chandala had luckily retained the memory of his earlier birth as Gandharva and reached the banks of Narmada and sang hymns of Siva at ‘Shankarasthandil’or Siva Vedi when a Siva Linga appeared by name Sapta Sarasvata and the Chandala regained the earlier life as Gandharva. Shandileswar Tirtha was formed after the famous Sage Shandilya (the Founder of the Shandilya Gotra) whose Tapasya to Maheswara in his hermitage on the banks of Narmada was exemplary; along with two other Lingas viz. Pancha Brahmeswar and Pushpeshwar, the Shandileswar was well known as among the ‘Tirtha Traya’where worship of the Lingas and Pitru Tarpans / Pinda Pradaanas were performed. Markandeya narrated to Yudhishtar the story of Chakravarthi Mandhata, who performed Yagnas near Amarakashtak Mountain and prayed to Omkareswar. He was a gift of a powerful Yagna by his father, King Yavanashva, who drank by mistake the „Mantra Jala‟meant for his wife.Yuvanashva got pregnant instead and delivered a boy by the opening of his belly. Devas and Indra visited the child and wondered as to who might feed milk to the boy; Indra said: „Esha Maa Dhata‟ and fed Amrit-like milk by inserting his middle finger in the baby‟s mouth and hence the child‟s name became Mandhata. As the boy grew he became a model King of virtue, valour and justice.Omkareswar appeared in response to Mandhata‟s prayers and gave the boon of naming the Mountain of Vaidurya as Mandhata. Jaleswar or Bana Linga was the manifestation of Siva; Banasura, the son of Bali Chakravarti, meditated to Maha Deva for thousand divine years and obtained the boons of impregnability of his City by any body excepting Mahadeva Himself and also flying mobility along with him and to those whom he chose any where. As Siva gave the boons, Vishnu and Brahma too bestowed the same kind of boons and Banasura thus emerged the Great Mighty King of ‘Tripuras’ or as the dreaded ‘Tripurasura’, who came to attack Deva Lokas and Bhuloka. Sages, Devas, Brahma and Vishnu were all alarmed and approached Siva, who decided to fight the Demon by Himself and smashed him with His Aghora astra which could absorb its heat and force by Narmada only after its attack. Banasura was badly hurt and realising his foolishness prayed to Maha Deva once again. The most lenient and gracious Bhagavan granted that Banasura would not have another birth and that a Siva Linga would be manifested as Bana Linga or Jala Linga. Another instance narrated by Markandeya to Yudhishthar related to the memorable King Indradyumna who performed Maha Yagna on the banks of Narmada, had darshan of Omkareswara Linga and visioned a radiant spectacle of an Inner Linga of Maha Deva in the central portion of the Principal Omkareswar Linga; he also had a special visualization of Bhagavan Vishnu in His full resplendent and ornamented form with four hands with Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Lotus at the top portion of Omkareswara Linga and prayed to Him; the King also invoked various Holy Rivers especially Ganga to join the Mahanadi Narmada at the bottom of the Linga; and to Narmada to manifest Seven Branches from the north to south to facilitate Daanas, Homams, Vratas, Tarpans and Pinda Pradaans to Pitras and other rituals.The King‟s prayers were all granted adding to the magnificence of the entire Region in which the Sacred River Narmada flowed

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