Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saints of Varanasi

Tulsi Manas Temple

 [ Tulsi Manas Temple ]

Built in 1964, dediated to Lord Rama, it is located a few meters ahead of the Durga temple. A magnificient structure of white marble surrounded by beautiful lush green gardens, it is believed to be built at the same place where saint-poet Tulsidas lived and wrote the famous Indian epic, Ram Charit Manas, the Hindi version of the Ramayana. I saw that the walls of the temple were carved with verses and scenes from the Ram Charit Manas, though I couldn’t understand much of it, still it was really very enchanting. On the first floor there was an interesting show depicting scenes from the lives of various Gods and Saints of India.

The Sankat Mochan temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman is also founded by seer Tulsidas.

Saint Kabir Das

[ Lake where child Kabir was found ]

The story goes that he was actually the son of a Brahmin widow who abandoned him and that he was found by a Muslim weaver named Niru and his wife Neema floating on a Lotus leaf in a lake known as LaherTalav. They gave him the name Kabir. Kabir literally means “the great one” and Das means “servant”. As he was found here, this place came to be known as Kabir Janmasthali (Kabir Prackatya Sthal) or the birthplace of Kabir. Situated in the heart of Varanasi, when I visited the place the temple was under construction and the lake was devoid of any water. Now, a large hall has been built by his followers, and the place is being used for various religious discourses. They are planning to build a big temple cum ashram honoring Him.

 
[ Sant Kabir Birthplace – Lahertara ]

I recollected this wonderful play on the life and teachings of Sant KabirDas by Shekhar Sen that I had seen along with my father some years back. True to his name, he was a great man and a servant to mankind. He was strictly against any form of idol worship, casteism, rituals followed blindly in the name of religion, discrimination on the grounds of wealth or religion. He believed in the principle of ‘God is present within every human soul’. He did not care about the consequences and said what he saw, what he felt was true due to which he had to face the wrath of both the Hindu and Muslim communities. Total self surrender to God and love to all irrespective of the caste, creed or race formed the basis of his philosophies and preaching’s made immortal in the very famous ‘Kabir Dohe’ (two line Hindi couplets).

Truly, his sayings continue to confound us and teach us to live our lives in the correct manner. If you ask me, who is the most famous personality of Benaras – living or dead… Then, my reply would be, it is undoubtedly this Great Man!!

Saint Ravidas

[ Sant Ravidas Park ]

He is also known as Sant Raidas. We visited the Ravidas park dedicated to him. There is a grand memorial devoted to him in the centre of the park. The park itself is huge with green lawns and many different types of colorful flowers adorning them. He taught that one is distinguished not by one's caste, creed or gender but by one's actions and that every person has the right to worship God and read holy texts. The queen of Chittorgarh, the famous Krishna Bhakt MeeraBai, is said to have been his disciple.  It is also believed that he was the disciple of Guru Ramananda, the one who also taught Kabir.

Mata Anandamayi

 [ A photo of Mata Anandmayi at her ashram ]

       We visited the Mata Anandmayi Ashram situated in Bhadeni, very near to the Assi ghat. A well known Bengali female saint and a great spiritual leader of the modern era, she devoted her entire life for the selfless service and encouraged others to do the same. She was believed to be the incarnation of Godess Kali. The ashram is very beautiful situated on the banks of the river Ganga.

[ Kaviraj Ji stayed in this room at the ashram ]

    A sanskrit scholar and philosopher, Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj Ji was the direct disciple of Vishuddhanand Paramhansa and an ardent devotee of Mata Anandmayi. He lived at the Mata Anandmayi Ashram from 1970-1976. He had the privilege of being in the presence of many renowned saints and holy men. He has compiled his experiences of the time spent with them in a series of books named Sadhu Darshan Satprasang.


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20 comments:

  1. Nice info..so nice to know all these facts abt these great people...Beautiful pics arti..and thanks for sharing

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  2. Arti,
    I am new here.I think your blog is informative. Think you also have a liking for travel and visiting holy places. Shall come again to read your wonderful posts.

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  3. Its so good to know about these great people!!!! A very informative post:)

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  4. Thank you for sharing these amazing photos! I must travel to India one day :)

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  5. Wonderful pics with some very informative lines to go along! Thanks for this wonderful journey!

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  6. Thanks everybody for all your encouraging and wonderful comments.

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  7. nice information,well written and good pics!!

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  8. informative post,, so u do travelling all the time.. and y only religious places

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  9. hi,
    visiting after a long time..your articles are as lively as always..such photos!! super..keep up the good work

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  10. @ Uncommon sense

    I believe, Life is a journey and one can never know what his/her next destination will be!

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  11. First time here. Nice blog. I have not been to too many temples in the north. And to the few times I have been, I find them very different than the ones in the south. Strange!

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  12. Please find an award for you at my blog
    http://triggerhappyhunter.blogspot.com/2010/03/awards.html

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  13. @ Nalini Hebber,

    Thank you so much.
    I sincerely appreacite it. But i dont know even if i deserve it...

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  14. Nice account of the place. Seems rather peaceful - ideal for meditation perhaps?

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  15. too good post...appears you too have fallen in love with this eternal city!
    This time, when I'll visit Varanasi, will try to get more and better snaps for a PhotoBlog on the city...Thanks for inspiration! :)

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  16. Nice account of the spiritual giants in Varanasi, especially the God of the down-trodden- Sant Ravidassji Maharaj.Thanks

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  17. Felt such a great peace after reading this post, Arti. :-) Gopinath Kavirajji has written a detailed article on Shaktipata Sadhana in Geetapress Kalyan special edition. His words are still guiding light for us, Sadhakas. I am so happy today, to see the room where he had stayed once. Thanks dear.

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  18. Hi. There are lot more places of saints to visit in varansi. Only the famous saints are shown on internet. But there are very old ashrams keeping the stories of many great saints. Im studying in varansi and it's already three years that im discovering the saints and the place they stayed. If you want Any info about those places, please mail. I would love to share this treasure .

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