Kumbh Mela History
As per medieval Hindu theology, origin of Kumbha is found in most popular medieval puranas, the Bhagavata Purana. The Samudra manthan episode (Churning of the ocean of milk), is mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana, Vishnu Purana, the Mahabharata, and the Ramayana.
Churning the ocean of milk includes, the Mandara Mountain as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the rope for churning. The Devas had lost their strength by the curse of Durväsä Muni, and in order to regain it, they approached Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva. Both Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva directed all the demigods to Lord Vishnu and after praying to Lord Vishnu, they were instructed to churn the ocean of milk Ksheera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk) to receive amrita (the nectar of immortality).This is where Kumbh derives its name from the immortal Pot of Nectar, which the Demigods (Devtas) and Demons (Asuras) fought over.
They made a temporary agreement with their arch enemies, the Asuras, to work together with a promise of sharing the wealth equally thereafter. However, when the Kumbha (urn) containing the amrita appeared, a fight ensued. The Devas and Asuras fought in the sky for the pot of amrita for 12 days and 12 nights equivalent to 12 years for humans which is obviously unbelievable. During this chase, it is believed that few drops from the Kumbh fell at four places Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. Thus Kumbh Mela is held every third year at one of the four places by rotation.
Joshi Photographs © Kumar Mangawani, Heramb Sahasrabuddhe, Kiran Tambat 8 MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED | Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 | MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED 9 n Kumbh What is The Kumbh Mela? It is an event beyond imagination. The kind that en – compasses every aspect of the human existence, and yet, seeks to distance itself from the earthly cycle of life and death and move towards a higher thought. It is one of the pillars of an ancient civilization; it is a glimpse of eternal hope combined with transitory life. It is the Kumbh Mela. It is, for want of a more powerful word, Faith. The faith of a 5,000 year old behemoth called India. For a culture that acknowledges the material—but points to a deeper meaning of life – the Kumbh is a phenomenon bred in the soil, and nourished over cen – turies. Even as the holy scriptures from the Vedic era pre – scribe prayer, fasts, ritualistic holy baths, charity and good deeds as the way to a well-balanced and welllived life, the Kumbh has a place all its own. The Legend of Kumbh The founding legend attributed to the Puranas (an – cient texts containing the narratives of the history of the universe and India), has it that the demons and the gods churned the ocean for Amrit, the elixir of eternal life. In the ensuing struggle, a few drops of it fell out of the kumbh (pitcher) they were carrying, and landed on four places that are today known as the holy cities of Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik. It is believed that these drops gave unknown, mystical powers to these places and hence observing the congregation called the Kumbh Mela (literally translated: the Fair of the Pitcher) in any of these places is supposed to impart great merit to the participants. Slated as the ‘biggest peaceful congregation on Planet Earth’ and still growing, the pilgrimage is noteworthy for the Sadhus (or ascetics) from every nook and cor – ner of India who articulate the transitory aspect of life and stress on the need to look beyond the physical and emotional limits that human beings set for themselves. Visitors throng from India and abroad to interact with the Sadhus and benefit from their wisdom and under – standing of life. The sadhus belong to as many as 13 distinct akhadas or groups (as per their ideology.) The darshan (opportunity to meet with the sadhus) is crucial to the experience of the Kumbh Mela and be – cause of this worshipers must be careful so as to not displease the sadhus. Meeting the sadhus is meticu – lously arranged and worshipers often leave tokens at their feet. Attendees at the Kumbh Mela come from all sections of India, ranging from sadhus who remain naga or na – ked and practice the most severe physical discipline, to hermits, who leave their isolation only for these pil – 10 MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED | Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 | MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED 11 n Kumbh grimages, to techno-savvy, jet set teachers resplendent in the finest clothing. Vast crowds of disciples, friends, and spectators join the individual ascetics and organizations. The naga akhadas often claim the holiest spots at each Kumbh Mela’s most auspicious moment. Although the govern – ment now insists on an orderly bathing order, histo – ry records bloody disputes between groups vying for precedence. Roll-call of rotation Planetary movements dictate that while the regular Kumbh Mela is held every 3 years in any of the four cities of Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik, the Ardh (half) Kumbh Mela is held every six years at Ha – ridwar and Allahabad (Prayag) while the Purna (com – plete) Kumbh mela takes place every twelve years, at four places Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nashik, based on planetary movements. The Maha Kumbh Mela is celebrated at Prayag after 144 years (after 12 complete or purna Kumbh Melas). Each site’s celebration is based on a distinct set of as – trological positions of the Sun, the Moon, and Jupiter, the holiest time occurring at the exact moment when these positions are fully occupied. The Kumbh Mela at Prayag, in particular, attracts millions of pilgrims. In • Kumbh Mela: Held at all four places every 12 years. • Ardha Kumbh Mela: Held at Haridwar and Prayag every 6 years. • Purna Kumbh Mela: Held only at Prayag every 12 years • Maha Kumbh Mela: Held only at Allahabad every 144 years. • Magh Mela: Annual, held every year except the years of the Kumbh and Ardh Kumbh. Held in the Hindu month of Magh (Jan and Feb); hence the name. Only in Allahabad. addition, a Maha (great) Kumbh Mela festival is held every 144 years at Prayag; the 2001 festival at Harid – war attracted some 60 million people. Kumbh Melas at different cities: While the Kumbh Melas are similar in nature, each city has its unique flavour and tour-worthy spots that add to the experience. All 4 are historical cities, and even as Prayag, Haridwar and Ujjain are picturesque in natural beauty, Nashik with its assorted cultural influences is a study in contrast. Some would say the Kumbh mela at Haridwar has special significance, as Hindu mythology believes a pilgrimage to Haridwar is the gateway to heaven. Rivers have always enjoyed a special status in the Hin – du way of life, especially the river Ganga and its trib – 12 MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED | Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 | MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED 13 utaries. Believed to be possessed of the ability to cleanse one’s sins, the very mainstay of the Kumbh Mela is the holy dip or the Shahi Snan by the sadhus, perceived to be the wisest of all men. Besides the Ganges, there are also two other sacred rivers located at Allahabad, the Yamuna and the Saraswati . The Yamuna, like the Ganges has its earthly origin in the Himalayas. The Saraswati, however,has disappeared since, and has been identified by some experts as the river Ghaggar today. (Saraswati is mentioned many times in India’s ancient texts like the Vedas and the epics and is said to be present at Allahabad where it joins the Yamuna and the Ganga.) This confluence of India’s three most sacred rivers at Allahabad is called the Triveni sangam. The combined sanctity of the three holy rivers, coupled with the spiritual powers obtained from the pot of nectar of immortality, has earned Allahabad the rank of teertharaaja, the king of holy places. Marvelous, Mystical and Massive In 1895, the celebrated English author Mark Twain attended the Kumbh Mela. So moved was he by what he saw that he wrote– “It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination, marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites”. If this sounds a bit too romantic for modern ears, here’s a description from The Atlantic Quartz Website to get an idea of how big it actually is “Imagine the entire population of Shanghai—about 23 million—camping on a 4×8 kilometer field. Add to that mass of humanity every last man, woman and child in New York City and you’re getting closer to the Kumbh’s expected attendance. But you’re still not quite there. The area of the mela is also on the rise: from 1,495.31 hectare and 11 sectors in 2001 to 1936.56 hectare and 14 sectors in 2013. That’s about 4,784 acres of land – about the size of Madrid’s famous Casa de Campo Park.” The Kumbh down the ages Despite the legend, the exact origin of the Kumbh Mela is difficult to pinpoint. Some people believe that the first written evidence of the Kumbha Mela can be found in the accounts of Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang or Xuanzang who visited India in 629 – 645 CE, during the reign of King Harshavardhana. He describes how Harshavardhana distributed goods and money generously at a gathering at Prayag. In the 8th century, the Shankaracharya popularized the mela amongst the common people. With each passing year the fair began to garner more and more crowds. According to The Imperial Gazetteer of India, an outbreak of cholera occurred at the 1892 Mela at Haridwar, which lead to the rapid improvement of arrangement by the authorities and the formation of Haridwar Improvement Society, and in 1903 about 400,000 people attended the fair. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, with 60 million people (about 1 per cent of all humanity) in attendance. Rich and poor, brown and white, young and all, are all part of this humongous theatre that offers anyone remotely observant a chance to broaden their horizons. n Kumbh Who are the Sadhus? Why do they count? In the Hindu way of life, renunciation of the world and its associated pleasures is the chosen path of the sadhu. Simply put, the term Sadhu is derived from the Sanskit for “accomplish” and refers to he who has achieved/accomplished what he or she set out to. They include saints of various traditions, men (and occasionally women) who have left their homes to concentrate on physical and spiritual disciplines, and also hermits, magicians and fortune-tellers (some, please note, who are not genuine). Distinguishing the real holy man from the pretender has been a challenge down the ages. The sadhu way of life can take a variety of forms. Those of a particular order may live together in a matha or monastery, while others may roam around all over the country, preferring a nomadic life to any attachments. Their appearance may differ according to their sect but they usually wear yellow/orange robes. They might shave their heads, allow their hair to lie matted on their shoulders, or twist it in a knot on top of their heads, but a normal haircut is rarely seen. Sadhus usually have only the possessions they carry with them: a staff or danda, a water carrier or kamandalu, an alms bowl and a japa mala or rosary. SSadhus, by and large, belong to the Vaishnava sect, that follows Lord Vishnu, or the Shaiva sect that follows Lord Shiva. In the Hindu pantheon, Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer, along with Brahma, the creator form the Trinity or Godhead. However, Brahma, for several complex reasons is not worshipped on earth, while Vishnu and Shiva are. Together the three denote the 3 main roles of the Supreme, Omnipresent one. If the sadhu is a Vaishnava he might have a discus (chakra) and a conch shell (shankha), a salagrama stone or a tulsi plant, which symbolize their allegiance to Lord Vishnu. If he is a Shaiva, he might carry a trident or trishul ; even carry a human skull, showing that he is beyond the terror inspired by the transitoriness of the world; or smear his body with ashes. (In Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva is Kaal (time) that destroys all human pretences. The Shaiva followers therefore reiterate their allegiance to his core message by rejecting traditional human notions of beauty and aesthetic values. Sadhus are not Hindu religious officials. If one were to draw comparisons with Christianity, they are the counterpart of the hermit monk, not the minister. In fact, it is considered inauspicious for a sadhu to show up at a wedding, for he represents celibacy. The Hindu attitude toward asceticism has always been ambivalent. On the one hand, there is a genuine regard for hermits and wandering ascetics and a desire to gain spiritual merit by asking for their counsel. On the other, however, historians and Indologists point out that unlike several other faiths, celibacy and renunciation is not crucial to achieving spiritual merit in the Hindu world. It is entirely possible to aspire towards a higher goal, even while performing the duties of a householder or citizen. That being as it were, the sadhus and sadhvis (female mendicants) are revered mainly for their self-control and discipline of self that comes from years of penance and austerity. Sadhus are also known as yogis or practitioners of yoga the world famous form of meditation, physical and spiritual practice. However, while all sadhus are yogis, all yogis are not Sadhus. Sadhus generally congregate on important religious occasions, such as lunar eclipses or melas (fairs), and throughout the year are found in large numbers in sacred cities such as Varanasi (Benares) and Haridwar, India. The Kumbh Mela is one of the occasions they take centre-stage. 14 MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED | Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 | MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED 15 n Kumbh Akhadas There are different dwelling places for different units of Sadhus called “Akhadas”. Each unit has its own flag and symbol. For instance: the Shaiva sect has a trishul (trident) and bull (Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle) on its flag, while the Vaishnav sect has Lord Hanuman and an eagle on it. In all, the Shaiva sect has 10 and Vaishnav sect has 3 Akhadas. At a glance, they are: Shaiva Sect Shree Atal, Shree Avahana, Shree Mahanirvani, Shree Niranjan, Shree Juna, Shree Agni, Shree Anand, Shree Panchayati Bada, Shree Nirmal Panchayati, Shree Panchayati Udasini Naya. Each Shaiva sect has 2500-5,000 members in all. Vaishnav Sect The Vaishnav Sect is mainly divided into three major sects or Ani. They contain 18 sub sects in all and 250 to 300 minute divisions : Pancha Ramanand Nirmohi Akhada (Ani): Shri Ramanandiya Nirmohi, Shriramanandiya Jhadiya Nirmohi, Shri Ramanandiya Maladhari Nirmohi, Shri Ramanandiya Mahaniravani Nirmohi, Shri Ramanandiya Santoshi Nirmohi, Shriharivyasi Santoshi, Shriharivyasi Mahaniravani. Dadupanthi Shripancharamandiya Nirmohi Akhada. Shree Pancharamandiya Digambar Akhada (Ani): Shriramji Digambar, Shrishyamji Digambar Shree Pancharamandiya Nirvani Akhada (Ani): Shri Ramanandiya Nirvani, Shri Ramanandiya Khaki, Shri Ramanandiya Niralambi, Shri Ramanandiya Tatambi, Shriharivyasi Nirvani, , Shriharivyasi Khaki, Shri Balbhadri They have been established at different points of time and worship their own deity. Leaders of the different sects have arrived at a consensus to follow a specific sequence for taking bath. The year 1756, the era of Nanasaheb Peshwa, was witness to a war between the Shaiva and Vaishnava sects, who used to assemble at the Kashyapi Sangam, where the Gangapur dam now stands. Both sects fell out over who would bathe first; this resulted in violence and many sadhus died on both sides. Hence the Peshwa demarcated the Ramkund (Nashik) for the Vaishnavas, and the Kushavart (Trimbakeshwar) for the Shaivites. Not just that, the timings of the holy dip may not coincide. When the Vaishnavas are taking a dip, the Shaivas must wait their turn and vice versa. Both sets of leaders have thus evolved an order of precedence with general consensus. Simhastha Kumbh Mela, Trimbakeshwar and Nashik: The Kumbh Mela that assembles at Nashik is called the Sim – hastha Kumbh Mela for the entry of Jupiter into the zodiac sign of Leo. Jupiter stays in Leo for an entire year. Thus, while ‘Simha’ stands for Leo ‘stha’ denotes the stay of Jupiter in Leo. This Mela is held at two locations name – ly: Ramteertha in Nashik and Kushavrat in Trimbekeshwar. While Ramteertha is dedicated to the Vaishnav sect, Kus – havrat is for the Shaiva sect. According to The Shiva Purana, the river Ganga-Godavari was unwilling to stay on earth. However, the Gods assured her of their continuing attention and respect by promising her that when Jupiter and Leo were aligned, they would bathe in her waters and cleanse her of all the dirt accumulated over a peri – od of 12 years, and finally worship the God of Gods, Mahadev aka Shiva himself. It is therefore believed that it’s not just the 33 crore Gods but also the 3.5 tirthas (holy spots) that come to the Godavari and cast their holy glow. Thus, it is believed that taking a holy dip in the river during this time and propitiating her with dana, japa and tapa (charity, chanting and penance) is an act of great spiritual benefit. The itinerary at the Simhastha Kumbh Mela Flag hoisting ceremony (Dhwajarohan): The flag is more than a banner; it is the repository of thousands of years of tradition and spiritual ideology. The orange banner of the Simhastha Kumbh has the image of a lion on it—in order to mark the confluence of Jupiter in Leo. This year, Jupiter enters Leo on July 14 at 6:16 am, which is the day of Ashadha Vadya Trayo – dashi as per the Hindu calendar. This huge gathering will see a host of priests, sadhus, ministers and administrative author – ities participating. Opening the doors of the Nashik Ganga Godavari Temple After the flag-hoisting it is time to open the doors of the Gan – ga-Godavari temple which is off the Ramkund. It is believed the Ganga comes to Nashik on this day,hence the name: Gan – ga Godavari. It will be open all through the year of the Simhas – tha era; at other times it is only open on the day of the Kartik Poornima for the lighting of the lamps. Parva-Kals. As per the holy scriptures and astrology, there are some mo – ments that are special for various reasons. Such moments are called Parva and celebrated with a dip in the holy waters, charity, recital of prayers etc. Some of the major Parva-kals (auspicious days) are: Ashtami, Chaturdashi, Amavasya, Purnima, Ravi Sankrant, onset of Dakshinayan and Ut – tarayan, sun and moon eclipse etc. The noteworthy days are: Simhasthavidhi-first day (Patak Nivrutti) that is marked by a dip in the Godavari, fasting and camping by the river. Second day (Pitrukarya): which is a day marked for worship – ping the holy Ganga and paying your respects to your ances – tors (teerth-shraddha ) Third day (Devakarya). On this day you bathe in the Ganga Godavari, worship Jupiter in the house of Leo, donate pitchers (kumbh), make offerings to the Gods, feed Brahmins etc. This is also marked by a visit to Trimbekeshwar. However, this cer – emony can be done anytime during the Simhastha period, at any holy spot on the banks of the Godavari. Shahi Snan The bedrock of the Kumbh mela, the days of the Shahi snan or the royal bath are only for the sadhus. No layperson may participate. A never to forget sight is the arrival of Mahantas the (head sadhu) of each of the Akhadas on elephants. As they head for their assigned bathing spot from their residing camp cum vil – lage (The Sadhugram) their splendor and state is no less than that of kings: leading the way are the other sadhus of that par – ticular akhada holding swords, spears, chakras (sharp discs used in warfare) and various weapons. Once they reach their destination, all the Sadhus get into the river together. This is followed by an elaborate puja (worship) at the Godhamandir before they head back to their camp. This year, the first Shahi Snan will be held on 29/08/2015 The second Shahi Snan on 13/09/2015 Third Shahi Snan Nashik: 18/09/2015 and Trimbekeshwar: 15/09/2015 It is a matter of great honour and pride for each sect to take a dip on these 3 auspicious days; the order must be scrupulously followed—any change of sequence would result in out and out war between the armed sadhus. The Akhil Bhartiya Akhada Parishad (All India Federation of the various sects) insists on the same. The cast of honour usually reads thus: The Naga Sadhus at dawn, followed by the Bairagis, then the Old and New Udasis, and at long lost the Nirmal Akdhada. At Nashik, the sequence for the first Parva is Nirmohi, Digam – bar, Nirvani, while for the next Parva it is Nirwani, Digam – bar, Nirmohi. Any variations in this order are rare. Ending of the Simhastha Kumbh-Dhwajavataran (lowering of the flags) When Jupiter finally leaves Leo, it signals the end of the Sim – hastha Kumbh. Once again an elaborate Godapujan (worship of the Godavari river) follows, after which the flags are finally brought down, signaling the end of the Kumbh and the onset of a new era. 16 MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED | Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 | MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED 17 A word of caution, beyond the din The Kumbh Mela, despite its awesome beauty, energy and colour, continues to be a hotbed of superstition. Critics complain that this is one of those events responsible for the stereotypical type-casting of Indian culture in the West. Fascinating and frustrating in equal measure, it defies definition on every level. All visitors—whether Indian or foreign—are advised not to believe everything they see. Good old common sense works at all times. Instead, the celebration ought to be seen as one of the continuing traditions of one of the oldest civilizations of the planet: India. A tradition that underlines a single truth: the more things change, the more they remain the same. And thus, the quest to look at life beyond the obvious continues from Kumbh to Kumbh. Kumbh Mela 2015 Most important dates: 14 July Tuesday Flag hoisting of the main ceremony of Ram Kunda 14 August Friday Flag hoisting of the Akhada at Sadhugram 26 August Wednesday Shravan Shuddha – First Snan 29 August Saturday First Shahi Snan 13 September Sunday Second Shahi Snan 18 September Friday Third Shahi Snan 25 September Friday Bhadrapad Shukla Dwadashi- Vaman Dwadashi Snan 18 MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED | Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 http://www.maharashtratourism.gov.in Volume 4 | Issue 2 – 2015 | MAHARASHTRA UNLIMITED 19
Ganga Stotra( Shri. sha.nkarAchArya)
देवि सुरेश्वरि भगवति गंगे त्रिभुवनतारिणि तरल तरंगे .
शंकर मौलिविहारिणि विमले मम मति रास्तां तव पद कमले .. १..
भागिरथि सुखदायिनि मातः तव जलमहिमा निगमे ख्यातः .
नाहं जाने तव महिमानं पाहि कृपामयि मामज्नानम् .. २..
हरि पद पाद्य तरंगिणि गंगे हिमविधुमुक्ताधवलतरंगे .
दूरीकुरु मम दुष्कृति भारं कुरु कृपया भव सागर पारम् .. ३..
तव जलममलं येन निपीतं परमपदं खलु तेन गृहीतम् .
मातर्गंगे त्वयि यो भक्तः किल तं द्रष्टुं न यमः शक्तः .. ४..
पतितोद्धारिणि जाह्नवि गंगे खण्डित गिरिवरमण्डित भंगे .
भीष्म जननि हे मुनिवरकन्ये पतितनिवारिणि त्रिभुवन धन्ये .. ५..
कल्पलतामिव फलदाम् लोके प्रणमति यस्त्वां न पतति शोके .
पारावारविहारिणि गंगे विमुखयुवति कृततरलापांगे .. ६..
तव चेन्मातः स्रोतः स्नातः पुनरपि जठरे सोपि न जातः .
नरकनिवारिणि जाह्नवि गंगे कलुषविनाशिनि महिमोत्तुंगे .. ७..
पुनरसदंगे पुण्यतरंगे जय जय जाह्नवि करुणापांगे .
इन्द्रमुकुटमणिराजितचरणे सुखदे शुभदे भृत्यशरण्ये .. ८..
रोगं शोकं तापं पापं हर मे भगवति कुमति कलापम् .
त्रिभुवनसारे वसुधाहारे त्वमसि गतिर्मम खलु संसारे .. ९..
अलकानंदे परमानंदे कुरु करुणामयि कातरवन्द्ये .
तव तट निकटे यस्य निवासः खलु वैकुण्ठे तस्य निवासः .. १०..
वरमिह मीरे कमठो मीनः किं वा तीरे शरटः क्षीणः .
अथवा श्वपचो मलिनो दीनः तव न हि दूरे नृपतिकुलीनः .. ११..
भो भुवनेश्वरि पुण्ये धन्ये देवि द्रवमयि मुनिवरकन्ये .
गंगास्तवमिमममलं नित्यं पठति नरो यः स जयति सत्यम् .. १२..
येषां हृदये गंगा भक्तिः तेषां भवति सदा सुखमुक्तिः .
मधुराकन्ता पञ्झटिकाभिः परमानन्दकलित ललिताभिः .. १३..
गंगास्तोत्रमिदं भवसारं वांछितफलदम् विमलं सारम् .
शंकरसेवक शंकर रचितं पठति सुखीः तव इति च समाप्तम् .. १४..
.. इति श्रीमच्छंकराचार्यविरचितं गंगास्तोत्रं सम्पूर्णम् .
Kumbha Mela is the world’s largest religious fair. It is not only a display of supremacy of the Bharatiya culture, but is also a spiritual congregation that provides satsang. The Kumbha Mela held every 12 years at Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Tryambakeshwar-Nashik on the occasion of the Kumbha Parva has an important place in the Hindu civilization. The spiritual glory and cultural importance of the Kumbha Parva is unique.
During the Tryambakeshwar-Nashik Kumbha Parva, Guru and Sun both come in Simha (Leo) zodiac sign. In this state, a swift fl ow of strong Tej waves emitted by the two planets runs towards the earth. During this period, the Shakti in the form of Tej is activated (with the help of radiant waves) in the form of waves in the womb of the earth at this pilgrimage place. This radiant energy in the form of waves attracts the Tej waves emitted by Guru and the sun, which are now in Simha zodiac sign, and assimilates them in its karya-shakti (Energy for performing task). Taking advantage of this arrangement, Kumbha Parva is held at this auspicious pilgrimage place.’
1. Tryambakeshwar & Nashik
These Holy places are situated on the banks of Godavari River in Maharashtra. Village of Tryambakeshwar is situated 36 kms from Nashik city, and the source of river Godavari is located in this village. The river Godavari then flows through Nashik city.
1. A. Origin and meaning of the word Tryambakeshwar
त्रयः अम्बकाः यस्य सः त्र्यम्बकः ।
स ईश्वरो यत्र तत् स्थानं त्र्यम्बकेश्वरम् ।
Implied meaning : Tryambakeshwar is the place whose presiding Deity is Deity Shiva, who has three eyes.
One of the twelve Jyotirlingas is situated in this place
1. B. Origin of the word Nashik and other names
In Tretayug, Lakshman cut off the nose of demoness Shurpanakha here; hence, it is believed that this city became famous as Nashik. The shloka given ahead mentions the names of Nashik in different Yugas.
कृते तु पद्मनगरं त्रेतायां तु त्रिकण्टकम् ।
द्वापरे तु जनस्थानं कलौ नासिकमुच्यते ॥
Meaning : In Satyayug, this city was called ‘Padmanagar’, in Tretayug ‘Trikantak’, in Dwaparyug ‘Janasthan’ and in Kaliyug, ‘Nasik (Nashik)’
1. C. Sacred Godavari tirtha
Sage Gautam performed rigorous penance to wash off the sin of killing a cow and with the power of his penance, asked Bhagawan Shiva to send Ganga from Heaven to the earth. As a result, Ganga descended at Tryambakeshwar with the new name of ‘Gautami’ or ‘Godavari’. Godavari descended onto the earth when Guru Planet was in Simha zodiac sign. When there were only seven Gods, seven Sages and seven human beings on the earth, Gautami existed with them; hence, Godavari is respected as the fi rst and most superior river. The origin period of Simhastha Parva and Godavari is the same. Nashik-Tryambakeshwar are always referred to together, because
Godavari originated in Tryambakeshwar and its bed widened in Nashik.
2. Significance of the Holy place
2. A. One of the five great Holy places
It is counted among the five great Holy places in Bharat. The shloka (Hindu sacred verses) in this regard is given ahead.
नासिकं च प्रयागं च पुष्करं नैमिषं तथा ।
पञ्चमं च गयाक्षेत्रं षष्ठं कुत्र न विद्यते ॥
Meaning : There are five Holy places – Nashik, Prayag, Pushkar, Naimisharanya and Gaya. There is no equivalent sixth Holy place.
2. B. Godavari tirtha (Pilgrimage place) is Moksha-bestowing
1. One gets immense merits by donating at Kurukshetra, doing penance on the banks of Narmada and dying on the banks of Ganga; however, if all the three events happen on the banks of Godavari, it is said, the individual attains Moksha.
2. सप्तगोदाकरे स्नात्का नियतो नियताशनः ।
महत्पुण्यमकाप्नोति देकलोकं च गच्छति ॥
– Mahabharat, Parva 3, Adhyaya 83, Shloka 44
Meaning : By bathing in ‘Saptagodavar’, controlling the organs and eating less, one gets immense merits. Such an individual enters the abode of Gods after death.
3. The south-bound fl ow of Godavari is rare and Moksha-bestowing. Therefore, one gets merits by offering donations at this Holy place. This has been mentioned in ‘Kshetramahatmya’.
2. C. Tirthavidhi (Rituals performed at this Holy place)
We should perform Punyahavachan and Nandi-shraddha and bathe in the Godavari. Then, we should perform other religious actions like shraddha etc. and have darshan of Shriram situated in Panchavati. Maharshi Kashyap recommended that we should perform Pitrutarpana (Rituals for the departed ancestors) and shraddha etc. at Kusha-varta in Tryambakeshwar.
3. Darshan of the pilgrimage places
3. A. Brahmagiri
This mountain itself is the form of Deity Shiva. Deity Shiva named this mountain after Brahmadev.
3. B. Kushavarta lake
This is a very sacred lake. The flow of Ganga was obstructed by Sage Gautam with the help of ‘Kusha’ means darbha (A type of grass used in rituals); hence, the lake in Tryambakeshwar is called ‘Kushavarta’.
3. C. Panchavati
Once, the five sons of a Sage were unduly overwhelmed with the power of penance and laughed at the sun. The Sun cursed and turned them into five banyan trees. Hence, this place is called ‘Panchavati’. Later, they attained liberation by having darshan of Bhagawan Shriram.
3. D. Ramtirtha
One of the five heads of Deity Brahmadev was mischievous. Since it slandered Deity Shiva, Deity Shiva cut it off with the weapon ‘Krupal’. To get liberated from the sin of killing of Brahma’s head, Deity Shiva bathed in the Ramtirtha. Manifest-ation of ghosts, pishacha (Spirit of a deceased person) etc. and sins are destroyed by bathing in Ramtirtha. Devotees mainly take a dip in Ramtirtha (also known as Ramkunda) in Nashik, because the dip begets merits.
3. E. Asthivilaya tirtha
This tirtha is situated on the west bank of Ramtirtha of Godavari and immersing remains of the dead here is considered merit-bestowing. The bones immersed here turn into water in three and a half ghatakas (One ghatak is equivalent to 24 minutes hence, three and a half ghatakas mean 84 minutes)
(That despite releasing great amount of bones in this tirtha, they get dissolved in water is a slap in the face of the so-called scientifi cally-oriented people in the society who scoff at the Hindu scriptures. – Compilers)
3. F. Other religious places
Besides Badrikasangam, Aruna-sangamtirtha, Ramgayatirtha, there are other famous temples such as the Kapaleshwar Temple, Sundarnarayan, Ganga Temple, Rameshwar Temple, Ram Temple, Sita Cave etc.
4. Simhastha Kumbha at Nashik-Tryambakeshwar
When Jupiter as well as Sun are in the Leo sign, Simhastha Kumbha Parva takes place at Nashik-Tryambakeshwar. During this period, Shahisnan is taken during the Parvakal on 1. Shravan Krushna Panchami, 2. Shravan Krushna Amavasya, 3. Bhadrapad Shukla
Panchami (Only at Nashik) and Vaman Jayanti (Only at Tryambakeshwar). Apart from this, a special Parvakal exists during the auspicious occasions of Vaidhruti and Vyatipat.
4. A. Significance of Simhastha Parva
1. तीर्थानि नद्यश्च तथा समुद्राः क्षेत्राण्यरण्यानि तथाश्रमाश्च ।
वसन्ति सर्वाणि च वर्षमेकं गोदावरीं सिंहगते सुरेज्ये ॥
Meaning : When Jupiter is in Leo sign, all tirthas, rivers, seas, territories, forests and Ashrams exist on the bank of River Godavari
(in the subtle) for one year.
2. जनस्थाने पञ्चवट्यां सिंहस्थे च बृहस्पतौ ।
दक्षिणा गौतमी पुण्या सेवनीया प्रयत्नतः ॥
– (Reference not known)
Meaning : When Jupiter is in the Leo sign, one must bathe in the Holy River Godavari from where it turns towards the southern direction in Panchavati kshetra.
3. षष्टिर्वर्षसहस्राणि भागीरथ्यवगाहनम् ।
सकृद्गोदावरीस्नानं सिंहयुक्ते बृहस्पतौ ॥
– Brahmapuran, Adhyaya 175, Shloka 84
Meaning : The amount of merits one gets on bathing in Bhagirathi (Ganga) for 60,000 years equals to one bath in the Godavari when the Guru planet enters the Simha zodiac sign (During the Simhastha Parvakal)
4. यस्मिन् दिने गुरुः पुत्र सिंहराशिं गतो भवेत् ।
तस्मिंस्तु गौतमीस्नानं कोटिजन्माघनाशनम् ॥
(Reference not known)
Meaning : The Sage tells the king, “My son ! When Jupiter enters the Leo sign, by bathing in the River Godavari (meaning Gautami),
sins of crores of births are washed away”.
5. Rituals during Simhastha pilgrimage
We should perform Punyahavachan and Nandi-shraddha and bathe in the Godavari. Then, we should perform other religious actions like shraddha etc. and have darshan of Shriram situated in Panchavati. Maharshi Kashyap recommended that we should perform Pitrutarpana (Rituals for the departed ancestors) and shraddha etc. at Kushavarta in Tryambakeshwar during the Simhastha Parva. Therefore, we should proceed from Nashik to Tryambakeshwar and perform religious actions such as a Holy bath, shraddha etc. on Kushavarta and have darshan of Tryambakeshwar. We should then return to Nashik and again have darshan of Shriram in Panchavati, worship Godavari, offer Her arghya (Respectful offerings of water etc.) in the form of fruits. We should then make offerings to Brahmans,
tonsure our head and observe a salt-less fast. Here ends the ritual of Simhastha pilgrimage.
5. A. Importance of Mundan Sanskar (Tonsuring) during the Simhastha Parva
आत्मनः शुद्धिकामो वा पितृणां मुक्तिहेतवे ।
वपनं कारयिष्यामि तीरेहं तव गौतमी ॥
Meaning : O, River Gautami (Godavari), I am tonsuring on your banks in order to purify myself and for the liberation of my ancestors.
5. B. Importance of donating Ghrutakumbha during the Simhastha Parva
An important ritual of donating Ghrutakumbha is performed only during the Simhastha Parva in Nashik. One donating Ghrutakumbha with faith gets liberated from the cycles of birth and death.
हिरण्यपुत्रिकायुक्तं रक्तवस्त्रं सदक्षिणम् ।
गोशतस्य प्रतिनिधिं घृतकुम्भं ददाम्यहम् ॥ – (Reference not known)
Meaning : A Kumbha (made of copper), in which a gold Idol has been placed, which is covered with red cloth, fi lled with pure ghee (Clarified butter) and offering in cash is equivalent to donating 100 cows. I am donating such a Kumbha.
Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Glory of the Kumbha Parva’
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1. What is Kumbh mela?
Kumbh Mela is the biggest Hinduism fair and a spiritual congregation held every 12 years in four Holy cities Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Tryambakeshwar-Nashik in India. ‘Unity of Hindus’ is the main objective of the Kumbh Mela. The 4 places of ‘Kumbh Mela’ are symbols of 4 directions. These ‘Kumbh Melas’ used to be held even before modern means of transport were invented by man. During that time, it was not easy to come together from 4 directions of Bharat and therefore, these ‘Kumbh Melas’ become the common point of symbols of Hindu unity and culture.
During the Kumbh mela, millions of devotees from all around India and overseas congregate to perform religious rituals such as bathing in River Ganga, performing spiritual practice, donating, Pitrutarpan, ritual of shrāddha, darshan of Saints, debates on Dharma etc. This is a congregation of those who have faith in Dharma. It is a unique occasion when not only devotees, but Deities, Sages, Saints and 330,000,000 tirthas too come to the Kumbh mela.
This pilgrimage (every 12 years) by Hindus to obtain the spiritual benefits at these Holy places is known as Kumbh mela.
2. Other names of Kumbh mela
A. Mahakumbh mela
Every 12 years, a Kumbha Mela is held at the Triveni Sangam of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati in Prayag. It is called ‘Mahakumbh Mela’.
B. Ardha Kumbh mela
Kumbh mela held every six years is called as Ardha Kumbh mela. However, the Kumbh mela held every 12 years gives the true benefits of a Kumbh mela.
C. Simhastha Kumbh mela
This is a name is given to Kumbh mela held at Ujjain and Tryambakeshwar-Nashik. When Jupiter alone, or along with Sun are in Leo sign of the zodiac, the Kumbh mela is also referred to as Simhastha.
3. Crores of devotees are its extent of pervasion
Minimum 5 crore devotees attend ‘Maha Kumbh Mela’ held at Prayag for taking holy bath in River Ganga; whereas 1 to 2 crore devotees attend ‘Kumbh Melas’ at Haridwar, Ujjain and Tryambakeshwar- Nashik. Followers of Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism also take part in the ‘Kumbh Melas’. The number of devotees attending ‘Kumbh Mela’ at Prayag has been noted in ‘Guinness Book of World Records’.
Information of holy ‘Kumbh Mela’ is available only in Almanacs;
still millions of Hindus gather every 12th year without any invitation. This is the vastness of Hindu Dharma !
In the year 1942, Lord Linlithgow, the Indian Viceroy saw the ‘Kumbh Mela’ at Prayag while travelling with Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya on an aeroplane. He was astonished to see the sea of millions of devotees and he curiously asked Pt. Malviya, “The organizers must have taken lot of trouble to gather people in ‘Kumbh Mela’; isn’t it ? How much the organizers must have spent ?” Pt. Malviya said, “Only two paisa!” Listening to this answer, Lord Linlithgow asked Pt. Malviya, “Panditji, are you teasing me?” Pt. Malviya took put a copy of almanac from his pocket and handing it over to Lord Linlithgow, he said, “This costs only two Paisa. People come to know about the holy period of ‘Kumbh Mela’ through this. Accordingly, every one of them gathers for holy bath on their own. Nobody is given personal invitation.” (‘Keshav-Samvad’, 27.7.2007)
4. Yearning to have holy bath in River Ganga as it awakens
the feeling of detachment in devotees including physical awareness
Nobody pays attention to clothes worn by the participants in ‘Kumbh Mela’. When a nude ‘Sadhu’ takes a plunge in River Ganga along with his ‘Akhaada’, one feels nice to look at such scene. Here, people forget their identity whether they are man or woman; forget about physical desires. People don’t notice whether a person is dressed or not; such a thought does not occur to anyone. Many women are seen drying their saris; but nobody even looks at them. The students of Science of sexuality should visit ‘Kumbh Mela’. In that atmosphere, sexual desire is not felt. They may feel such study is challenging. There is no question of molestation of women, rape, indecent behavior or problem of law and order ! The only yearning everyone has is getting an opportunity to have a Holy bath in the Ganga! (Dainik Loksatta’, 06.02. 2001).
5. Discourses by ‘Sadhus and Saints’ on
Dharma and Spirituality drawing devotees to them in ‘Kumbh Mela’
During ‘Kumbh Mela’, ‘darshan’ of Saints gives a treat to eyes of devotees; whereas discourses and lectures on topics like Dharma, Spirituality, ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharata’ etc. are inspiring treats to the ears of devotees. About 10,000 pandals are erected at the venue and in most of these pandals, discourses on religious subjects are held every day.
6. Sheds offering food throughout the day (Anna-chhatra)
is a facility provided by different sects to devotees during ‘Kumbh Mela’
In pandal of every Sect or ‘Akhaadas’ the common thing that goes on throughout the day is ‘Anna-chhatra’ run for devotees. There might not be a single ‘Akhaada’ where ‘Anna-chhatra’ is not run. There are many such ‘anna-chhatras’ run during ‘Kumbh Mela’ which provide food for the devotees; else, more than 75 lakh devotees gathering for ‘Parva-snan (Holy bath)’ would have had to lit fire for cooking food, and it would have required a very big space ! — Dr. Durgesh Samant.
7. Disparities in society are forgotten in
gathering of devotees through the medium of ‘Anna-chhatra’
Few rich ‘Akhaadas’ run ‘Anna-chhatras’ during Kumbh Mela. Generally, it is a feeling amongst people that ‘Anna-chhatra’ means where food is provided to the poor; but during ‘Kumbh Mela’, there is a base of spirituality to these ‘Anna-chhatras’. Here, a devotee, who is a millionaire, is seen having food as ‘God’s Prasad (Holy sacrament)’ sitting next to a poor beggar. (‘Dainik Loksatta’, 6.2.2001).
8. How are the Kumbh mela dates decided?
The place where Kumbh Mela should be held and its timings have the foundation of planetary calculations. The Moon (Chandra), Sun (Surya) and Jupiter (Guru) provided unique assistance to Gods in the battle between Gods and demons for protecting the Amrutkumbh, the timeframe of the Kumbh Mela is decided when their speciﬁc alignment occurs in the zodiac. The Jupiter (Guru) played a significant role in fighting with the demons, hence its alignment is considered crucial for deciding the place and dates of Kumbh Mela.
हरिद्वारे कुम्भयोगो मेषार्के कुम्भगे गुराै ।
प्रयागे मेषसंस्थेज्ये मकरस्थे दिवाकरे ।।
उज्जयिन्यां च मेषार्के सिंहस्थे च बृहस्पताै ।
सिंहस्थितेज्ये सिंहार्के नाशिके गौतमीतटे ।।
सुधाबिन्दुविनिक्षेपात् कुम्भपर्वेति विश्रुतम् ।। (Reference : Unknown)
When Jupiter enters the Aquarius and Sun enters Aries, the Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar.
When Jupiter enters Aquarius and Sun and Moon enter Capricorn on Magha Amavasya, the Kumbh Mela is held at Prayag (Allahabad).
When Jupiter enters Aquarius, Ujjain gets the honour of holding the Kumbh Mela.
When Sun and Jupiter enter Leo of the zodiac, the Kumbh Mela is held at Tryambakeshwar – Nashik. (Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text, ‘Glory of the Kumbh Parva’)
All you want to know about Godavari Pushkaram
However, the Pushkaralu this year is special as it is Maha Pushkaralu which happens once in 144 years.
This year’s Pushkaralu is considered auspicious from astronomical point of view.
The ‘Pushakaram’ is similar to the ‘Kumbh Mela’ performed alongside rivers elsewhere in the country.
Taking holy dip is the main ritual of the festival.
The two state governments have made elaborate arrangements for the convenience and security of thousands of pilgrims who will take holy dip.
FROM AROUND THE WEB
From around the web
The Godavari is popularly referred to as the Dakshina Ganga and is considered one of the sacred rivers of India, as it is associated with the Ramayana. The Godavari is the longest of the east flowing rivers of the south. It is born further north, in the ranges of the Western Ghats.
There are many legends and myths associated with the Godavari. According to one legend, it is at Panchavati, a place near the town of Nasik on its bank that Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, cut off the nose of Surpanakha, the sister of King Ravana of Lanka. It is also believed that it is here that Rama and Lakshmana took their ritual bath on hearing of the death of their father, King Dasharatha.
The Godavari begins its course in the heights of the Western Ghats and then flows east into the Bay of Bengal. It goes on collecting tributaries all along its course. The river begins it journey through the state of Maharashtra and flows near the town of Nasik. From here it crosses the Eastern Ghats and reaches Rajahmundry where it becomes a broad and mighty river. The railway bridge across the Godavari at Rajahmundry is said to be the largest in India. Before reaching Rajahmundry it passes through the town of Bhadrachalam, which was home to the great Rama devotee Ramdas. It then flows past the town of Dhavaleshwaram where it divides into three rivers. The eastern one is the Gautami Godavari, the one flowing west is the Vashishta Godavari and the middle one is called the Vaishnava Godavari.
These three rivers form the Godavari delta just before they flow into the sea.
The Godavari is a useful waterway and there is a lot of boat traffic on it. Logs are floated down the river to distant places instead of being taken by road or boat. The banks of the Godavari are rich with teak and bamboo forests.
Uniqueness of ‘Simhastha Parva’ (Kumbha Mela) at Tryambakeshwar-Nashik
Bathing in the Godavari River is one special feature of ‘Simhastha Parva’. The Kumbha Mela will be held at the Tryambakeshwar-Nashik from 14 July 2015 to 25 September 2015, when not only crores of devotees, but Deities, Saints and thirty-three crore ‘Teerthas’ will also be present. All this is unique.
Benefits of bathing, religious rituals and
spiritual practice done during ‘Simhastha Parva’
- During the ‘Simhastha Parva’, people bathe in the Godavari River and worship Godavari (Ganga).
षष्ठिवर्षसहस्राणि भागिरथ्यावगाहनम् ।
सकृद्गोदावरीस्नानं सिंहस्थे च बृहस्पतौ ॥ – पद्मपुराण
Meaning : Merit of bathing once in the Godavari when planet ‘Guru’ is in the zodiac of is equal to that bathing in the BhagirathiRiver for 60,000 years
- Bathing, performing pitrutarpan, shraddha (Rites for deceased ancestors) etc. in Kushavarta Lake in Tryambakeshwar during ‘Simhastha Parva’ helps the ancestors progress to the next subtle-region.
- The important ‘Ghrutakumbhadan’ rite is performed only during ‘Simhastha Parva’. One who performs this rite with faith is liberated while still in the body (becomes jeevanmukta).
- Tonsuring is done on the banks of Godavari for self-purification and to liberate deceased ancestors.
Bathing, donating, chanting, performing rites during ‘Simhastha Parva’ begets infinite merits !
|SIMHASTHA PARVA (NASHIK KUMBHAMELA) – SHAHI SNAN|
|14.7.2015, Tuesday, Āshāḍha Vadya P.13||Start of Simhastha Kumbha mela, Dhwajarohan, Ramkunda|
|19.8.2015, Wednesday, Shrāvan Shu.P. 5||Simhasthaparva Akhada Dhwaj-arohan, Sadhugram|
|29.8.2015, Sunday, Shrāvan Shu.P. 15||Simhasthaparva Pratham Pavitrasnan (First Shahi Snan)|
|13.9.2015, Sunday, Shrāvan Vadya.P. 30||Simhasthaparva Dwitiya (Pramukh) Pavitrasnan (Second Shahi Snan)
Ravi – Chandra – Guru in Sinha Rashi
|18.9.2015, Friday, Bhādrapad Shu.P. 5||Simhasthaparva Trutiya Pavitrasnan (Third Shahi Snan), Rushipanchami|
|SIMHASTHA PARVA (TRYAMBAKESHWAR KUMBHAMELA) – SHAHI SNAN|
|14.7.2015, Tuesday, Āshāḍha Vadya P.13||Start of Simhastha Kumbha mela, Dhwajarohan|
|29.8.2015, Saturday, Shrāvan Shu.P. 15||Simhasthaparva Pratham Pavitrasnan (First Shahi Snan)|
|13.9.2015, Sunday, Shrāvan Vadya.P. 30||Simhasthaparva Dwitiya Pavitrasnan (Second Shahi Snan)
Ravi – Chandra – Guru in Sinha Rashi
|25.9.2015, Friday, Bhādrapad Shu.P. 12||Simhasthaparva Trutiya Pavitrasnan (Third Shahi Snan), Vāman Dwādashi|
Reference : Date Panchang
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Dwaj arohan ( Flag hoisting) ceremony marked the formal commencement of the 2015 Kumbh Mela .
The religious ceremony was attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, State women and Child Welfare minister Pankaja Munde and the mahants of the the ‘akhadas .
Rajnath Singh addresses the crowd at Trimbakeshwar.
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