How my book is rated

Present Ratings Amazon India 5.00 stars with 5 ratings. Amazon US 5.00 stars with 2 ratings Goodreads 5.00 with 3 ratings

Posted by Our Heritage Revisited on Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Monday, 8 January 2018

Hanuman garhi in Naimisharanya. And Mishrikh, both near Lucknow

Hanuman garhi in Naimisharanya: Ahiravan (the younger brother of Ravan) had captured Ramchandraji and Lakshman in Lanka and taken them to paatal (the nether regions). Hanuman saved them and carried them out, at this place. The murti of Hanumanji here is huge - say about 15 feet high and is in a standing pose. There is also a small murti of Makardhwaj - son of Hanuman, born of his perspiration (which fell into the mouth of a fish), when returning from Lanka. Incidentally, we also have two other Hanuman garhi - one in Allahabad (which has a lying down pose) and another in Ayodhya.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Ved Vyas wrote the 18 Maha Purans, the Mahabharat besides compiling the four Veds. His disciple Lomaharshan passed on this knowledge to his son Ugrashrav (उग्रश्रव), also known as Sut ji  Naimisharanya has the Sut gaddi (seat of Sut) where Sut ji narrated all the purans to the 88,000 rishis - Shaunak and other rishis - generally referred to as Shaunakadi or Shaunak etc.

Naimisharanya which finds a mention perhaps in all the Purans, also has a small temple dedicated to the five Pandavs who had passed by here.

Mishrikh : This place is some distance away and requires a small detour on the Lucknow Road. Here rishi Dadichi donated his bones. As per Brahma Vaivart Puran, the gods once fought with the demons and managed to defeat them. After the war rishi Dadhichi agreed to keep their weapons in his ashram (considered a safe place). The weapons began to lose their luster with time, Dadhichi washed them, drank the water and so absorbed their energy; the weapons gradually faded away. When the gods finally came to claim their weapons Dadhichi offered his bones for making weapons. Before that, he took a dip in the kund which was a collection of holy waters from several pilgrimage sites. This spot has got its name from ‘mishrith’ meaning mixed.

Mishrisk - the kund has holy waters from all teerths

The weapons made were Arjun’s Gandiv, the ‘Pinak’ which Ramji broke at Sita’s swayamvar, the ‘Sharang’ which is with Vishnu ji, and the fourth ‘Vajra’ with Indra.

The story of Dadhichi 

The story of Dadhichi and his sacrifice

This is the fourth and final post on Naimisharanya.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Vyas Gaddi at Naimisharanya near Lucknow

An important site in Naimisharanya is Vyas Gaddi - the seat of Ved Vyas or Krishna Dwapayan (in the present yug). It was at this spot that the words of Brahma ji, as heard by various rishis, were compiled into the four Veds by Ved Vyas. He also composed the 18 Mahapurans and the Mahabharat.

Next to this is the temple where Satyanarayanji ki katha was said for the first time and where the 88000 rishis (Shaunakadi - Shaunak etc.) performed the yagyas. The havan kund is very big and is asthkond - a big centre with eight petals.
Entrance to the Vyas Gaddi
Vyas Gaddi Taposthan 

Puja at Vyas Gaddi.
The Sam Ved was narrated by Vyas ji to his disciple Jaimini under a banyan tree. The Banyan tree seen here is over 5000 years old. All the Purans were also narrated here by Sut ji, the disciple of Ved Vyas to Shaunak etc. (Temple dedicated to Sut ji is at a small distance away).
5000 plus year old Banyan tree. Ved Vyas used to sit here. 
The Sam Ved was taught here to Jaimini by Vyas ji.

Swayambhu Manu and Satrupa performed tapsaya for 23000 years here to ask for the boon of a son like Narayan. And it was here that Narayan gave them darshan and promised them that he would be born as their own son - the temple here is calm and peaceful. And so took place the birth of Ramchandraji as the son of Dasrath and Kaushalya.
In the same premises is also a temple with all the 12 jyotirlings.
Entrance to the Manu / Satrupa temple which is on the right. 
The 12 jyotirlings are on the left.

At the Swaran Khamb mandir of Sri Vishnu (Devaraj Swamy), every mango tree is believed to have sprouted out of each Rishi samadhi. That is the reason that we use mango leaf to add ghee into hawan, as only rishi is qualified to offer anything into hawan, mango leaf is as sacred as our ancient rishi.
Another important Mandir in Naimisharanya is that of Lalita Devi. When Shiv ji carried the body of Sati, one of the body parts fell here. Some distance away is Hanuman Gadhi - the spot were Hnauman brought out Ram and Lakshman from paatal after defeating Ahiravan, Ravan's younger brother.
This is post three on Naimisharanya. The final one will be on Hanumangarhi and on Mishrik / Dadichi.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Chakra Teerth, Naimisharanya near Lucknow

Chakra Teerth: The central point of Naimisharanya is the Chakra Teerth. The story in Shiv Puran goes that the devtas once went to Brahma ji and asked him for a spot on earth which would give bhakti and mukti. Brahma ji created a mind-born (manomaya) chakra and released it. The circumference (naimi) of this chakra landed (sheerna) in this forest (aranya), the axle pierced the ground and provides a never-ending source of water. Brahma ji said that this place will never have the impact of kaliyug;the spot is said to be continuing since Satyug.
The wall seen here is said to be 40 ft deep and constructed by the British. The water, which never dries, is very deep; any overflow flows into the Gomti nearby. The water outside the circle is not very deep - only about waist high - and is quite clean, work to re-lay the steps is presently going on. A dip in the Chakra Teerth is considered very auspicious. Puja for the pitrs (ancestors) is done here, its importance here said to be comparable to Gaya in Bihar.

A parikrama around the Chakra Teeth takes one to several small temples generally dedicated to various rishis. There is the spot where Shringi rishi performed his tapasya. It may be recalled that Shringi Rishi had performed the yagya whereby King Dasrath’s queens gave birth to their sons.Then there is the Ram Lakshman Sita temple. Ramchandra ji is said to have performed the Aswamedh Yagya on the banks of the Gomti river, in Naimisharanya; Luv and Kush also narrated Valmiki’s Ramayan in Naimisharanya. There is a temple of Gokarn Nath: Gokaran (cow’s ears) was the son of Atmadev and Dhundkari and his story features in the Bhagwat Puran.

This is post two on Naimisharanya.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Naimisharanya : Where Ved Vyas is said to have written the Mahabharat and the Purans

Naimisharanya, or Neemsar, is a not-so-well-known teerth spot less than 100 km away from Lucknow. Though many people have not heard of it, those in that area say it is the single teerth that is more important than all other teerths in India. It is the place where several important occurrences in Hindu religion have taken place starting from Satya yug (being the first ever pilgrimage site on earth) with perhaps the latest being the last travel of the Pandavs and Draupadi. In fact, on a visit, it felt so comfortable and personal, as it has been the site of so very many of our often heard tales and mentioned in our ancient books.
It has the Chakra teerth – the place marked by Brahma which will never have Kaal visiting, the spot of Swayambhu Manu and Satrupa’s tap and Narayan’s boon to them, narration by Luv Kush, where Hanuman brought out Ram and Lakshman from paatal, Vyas Gaddi where all the Purans and Mahabharat were written etc. etc. etc.. Some other important rishis / occurences are Lomesh /Lomaharshan, Ugrashrava (Sut ji) and his narration of the purans to Shanaukadi (Shaunak etc. -88,000 rishis), Markandeya, Narad ji, Ved Vyas (Krishna Dwaipayan)
The road is very good and the drive comfortable – once away from the hustle of Lucknow it takes approx. an hour. Basic amenities are available and all places can be seen on a day’s trip. A visit is strongly recommended.
The large number of temples and holy spots in the area will be covered in separate posts on this page alongwith the tales about it.This is post one on Naimisharanya.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The cover of the book is a collage of various ideas and experiences related to the topic. The pictures below reflect the “guru shishya parampara” (गुरु शिष्य परम्परा) in our culture. All knowledge is said to be learnt by the shishya or student from a guru or teacher, which has then to be absorbed by deep meditation and thought. The word Upanishad too means to be seated at the feet of a guru to receive teaching. Our ancient texts are generally in the form of dialogues / explanations between a guru and a shishya, or sometimes as a discourse between two rishis one of whom is the giver and the other a recipient of knowledge.
Thus the Bhagwad Gita is Krishna’s teachings to Arjun, narrated by the charioteer Sanjay to King Dhritrashtra. The Upanishads have a similar approach - the Kath Upanishad is Yam’s teachings to Nachiketa, the Prashna Upanishad is rishi Pippalad explaining to six disciples etc. The Mundak Upanishad has the conversation between the Angiras and Shaunak (representing the householder or the student-rishi).Then the Yog Vashisht is the teachings of rishi Vashisht to Sri Ram when the latter was young, but presented in the form of narrations and conversations between other guru/shishyas.
Amongst the later Smriti texts, the author is telling us (the reader) but again through narrations - usually several of the commentaries running parallel.
The Ramcharitmanas has three discussions interspersed – Shiv to Parvati, Yagyavalkya to Bharadwaj and Kakbhushandi (a sage in the form of a crow) to Garud (an eagle and Vishnu’s vehicle). The Mahabharat is narrated by Ugrashravas (उग्रश्रवस) to Shaunak (शौनक) in Naimisharanya (नैमिषारण्य), a forest well-known in our culture as being the venue for several discourses. Within this, is the narration of the Bharat kings by the rishi Vaishampayan to the Kaurav King Janamejaya, as also the narration of the Bhagwad Gita. In the Bhagwat Puran too, several discourses run simultaneously : Sut ji to Shaunakadi (Shaunak etc. as disciples) again in Naimisharanya, then by Sanakadi (Sanak etc. - Brahma’s sons) to Narad, Maitreya to Vidur and Shukhdev (the son of Ved Vyas) to Parikshit, the grandson of Arjun.

This peculiarity of our ancient texts is thus depicted by these images in the book cover.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Rituals and Mantras in our Hindu religion

Our Hindu ancient books are generally not taught in any schools, perhaps for fear of being bandied anti-secular. And they are not formally read at home either - they are too tough or too long or ... And yet, almost all Hindus know of the Ramayan and the Mahabharat and have read tales of it. The stories are so interesting and enticing and there are so very many of them. So they are widely covered in the comic books - Amar Chitra Katha to name one series. And then we have the huge coverage on television. And some extracts of these in various other forms.

But come to the mantras chanted in our prayers, and the source changes - these are from various parts of the Veds (Vedas). Thus the Gayatri mantra and the Mahamritunjay mantra are both from the Sanhita of the Rig Ved. Prayers like "Asto Maa Sadagamaya", "Om Purnamidah" etc. are from the Upanishads. Our National motto "Satyamev Jayate" is from the Upanishads. And of course the huge importance that we give to "OM" is from the Upanishads. The first I have read about reincarnation, departure after life either to heaven or the attaining of moksh are also in the Upanishads.

But come to rituals - they are followed so very differently in various parts of the country, in various sects or even in families. How come? Where do rituals come from? My research when writing my book did not go in this direction except to indicate that rituals are elaborated in the Brahman portions of the Veds. And yet the little I have read of the Brahmans does not elaborate on rituals. But they did lead to one very interesting piece of knowledge that I did not have earlier - that of the Agams (agamas).

My daughter read the draft on the Shruti texts  and asked a basic question - the mantra portion of the Veds have the various gods of Nature but not the Trinity. The Upanishads all talk of one Supreme God - Brahm. And then suddenly the Purans have Brahma, Vishnu Mahesh. How come?

All my efforts have not come up with an answer which is satisfactory to me. The Agams, which are also considered Shruti texts, are ancient and closest to our present rituals. But they are in Granthi - an old form of Tamil. So how do we account for the rituals practiced in the North. Also the concepts of Yantra have not really percolated to us.

Even today, Agamic literature is not really available in English or Hindi. Efforts are on in Pondicherry and France to collect the old texts and to translate the Agams into Sanskrit and French.

Does anyone have more ideas on this matter?

But if you want a quick and simple read of which are the classes of our Hindu texts and what is the difference between them, read my book "Our Heritage Revisited : A glimpse into ancient Indian texts". If your knowledge of these is rather basic, I promise you will be astounded at the variety and depth we have in our literature. Reviews and comments on it can be seen here

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Our Heritage Revisited : Reviews and comments on facebook

Since most of the sales of the book have been through orders placed directly on me, they do not get reflected in any on-line statistics. Comments on the book are also sent to me directly, hardly any are available on Amazon, which is effectively the other direct source of some little sale. 

Reviews etc. on the book can be found at facebook. This page is in the public domain and you do not need to be my friend to view it, or even to post on it.

Do visit this page, like it, and add your comments or your questions here.