Monday, March 21, 2016

Dwaraka Dham Yatra ( Day 2, Part 2 )


Dwaraka  Dham Yatra  (  Day 2, Part - 2 )

    27th Feb, 2016,   Saturday  


yo maam pashyati sarvatra sarvam cha mayi pashyati |
tasya aham na pranashyaami sa cha me na pranashyati || 30 ||
One who sees me in all, and sees all in me, to him I am not lost, and he is not lost to me. ( Gita, verse 30, Ch. 6 )

Mr.Madhavananda Dasa, our guide led us by walk, singing melodiously the bhajan ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna , Krishna Krishna Hare Hare’ towards Dwarkadheesh Mandir by 9 a.m. from Bangur Bhavan, the place of our stay at Dwarakapuri.

Ready for Temple Darshan

The distance was less than a Km.  We passed through the market area.  The place was fairly crowded, being the week end. The chanting of ‘ Dwarkadeeish ki Jai’  rented the air. Shops.
selling puja items, textiles, and other fancy items attracted the tourists. It was a colourful sight to see men, women, children making a beeline towards the Jagat Mandir.

As we reached  nearer,  the temple towers attracted our attention - a  beautiful structure with the long flag hoisted on top, fluttering in the air. We stood in awe for quite some time.

( Dwarakadheesh Temple - Jagat Mandir )

Dwarkadhish Temple known as Jagat Mandir (universal shrine ) or Trilok Sundar ( the most beautiful in all the three worlds ), one of the most sacred places on earth  is situated on the banks of Gomati river closer to the Arabian Sea. It is believed that the original temple was built by Krishna’s grandson Vajranabha  more than 2500 years ago in the same place where Krishna’s palace stood. It is also called as Hari Alayam.

The ancient city was submerged by raging sea waters 8 times, but the remains do still exist.  The current temple in Chalukya style is constructed in 15-16th century. In 1861, Dwarakadheesh Temple was renovated by Maharaja Khanderao and the British, who refurbished the shikara. Maharaja Gaikwad of Baroda added a golden pinnacle to the shikara in 1958 during the renovation undertaken by Shankaracharya of Dwarka. Since 1960, the temple has been maintained by the Government of India. Its exquisitely carved shikar reaching 43 m high and the huge flag made from 52 yards of cloth can be seen from as far away as 10 Km.

The temple is built of limestone with beautiful carving. There are two gateways--swarga dwar in the south (gateway to heaven), where pilgrims enter, and moksha dwar in the north
( gateway to liberation), where pilgrims exit. (Leads to the market area). From the rear side of the temple, 56 steps lead to Gomti river, the pilgrims have to climb around 56 steps after taking bath in the Gomti river, representing the 52 administrative divisions of the Yadava kingdom and remaining four represents Krishna, Balaram, Pradyumna and Aniruddha, respectively.

                                     56  Steps leading to Swarga Dwar

The main shrine of the 5 storied building is supported by 72 pillars. The Dwarkadhish temple is a ‘Pushtimarg’  temple which means it is bound by certain sastric guidelines and ’ agama ‘ rituals. The temple became part of the Char Dham. pilgrimage and considered sacred by Hindus in India. Dwarkadheesh is the 108th Divya Desam of Lord Vishnu on the subcontinent,
glorified in Divya Prabandha sacred texts.

The flag is changed 5 times a  day.  52 yards of cloth is being used  for the dhwaja or flag and 52 small flags are being joined around the border of the flag. Each yard indicates the 50  entrances to the erstwhile city of Dwaraka  as well as the swarga dwar and the moksha dwar of Dwarkadhish palace. Symbols of Surya and Chandra are also seen in the flag. But we could not see them clearly as the flag is hoisted at a great height. Each yard also symbolises the flags on the residences of 52 officers in the era of Sri Krishna. Red, green, blue, yellow, white, pink and saffron are the colours used in the flag which draw the attention and admiration of the tourists. When we entered the temple, the flag was in blue and white colour. By the time we left the temple after an hour or so we saw the changed flag in pink and blue combination.

Once we enter the gates we have to go through security -  separate lines for men and women. First we  came across Kusheshwar Mahadev sannidhi on our right, and Gayatri Devi, Pradyumna (larger in size ) and a smaller deity Aniruddha ( Krishna’s son and grandson respectively) on our left. Opposite to that is the shrine of Purushottama ( Vishnu). As we went on a parikrama around the main sanctum sanctorum, we also saw the shrines of sage Durvasa  and Lord Balarama,

images (10).jpg

( LORD DWARKADHEESH - the Presiding Deity )

 We had darshan of  Sri Radha Krishna, Dattatreya, and the main deity Dwarkadhishji. Opposite to that is Devaki Mata’s shrine and  next to her is Veni-Madhava (Lord Vishnu).  All the deities were dressed in blue colour that day as per tradition of the temple. (One colour every day with the matching backdrops ). We went in a special line and had darshan of  DWARKADHEESH,  the presiding deity who is on the center altar. It was a scintilating experience. Even now as we write the experience, we involuntarily see the picture of Dwarkadhish above and also in mind  for a few moments.  The  original statue was installed by his great grandson Vajranabha over the Hari-Griha ( Lord Krishna’s residential palace). The Deity represents the four armed Trivikrama.  Dwarkadheesh  means the’ King or the ruler ‘ of the Dwaraka Kingdom.

The black granite idol is about three and half feet tall. The left bottom hand has Shankha (conch). The left upper hand has Chakra (Disc) The right lower hand has Padma and the right upper hand has Gada (Mace). On the idol's lower part are small motifs of Lakshmi and Saraswati holding Chamara (fans). Other adornments that are familiar with a Vishnu statue like Kaustubha Mani, Vaijayanti Mala etc are all there.
The darshan timings are  between 7 am to 12:30pm and 5:00pm to 9:30 pm. The pujas are performed in an informal way. In between darshan and aarti the curtain is drawn to feed the Deity ( for Bhog) and for play time.

Then we went to the shrine of the  queens ( Rani Mandir) where we had darshan of  the queens Jambavati, Radhika, Satyabhama and  Goddesses Saraswathi, Lakshmi,  and Sri Lakshmi narayan, Hanumanji,and Shri Gopal krishna. Rukmini  mata does not find a place in this mandir due to Durvasa’s curse

Next we visited the Sharada Peetham, established by Adi Shankaracharya. This is one of the four mutts setup by the Seer in the four corners of our country. Jyothir Mutt in the north, Puri in the east,  Dwarka (west )and Sringeri Mutt in the south.  Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century reformer and philosopher, visited the shrine and even today a memorial within the temple is dedicated to his visit. We offered our prayers to the statue of Adi Shankara and also saw the idols of  Chandramouleeswara, a spatika Linga and other puja articles kept as exhibition.These articles were submerged under water along with the temple and later recovered and restored.
Once again we entered the shrine of Balarama and saw the taller idol draped in blue with the beautiful decoration.  Black granite idols of  Garuda, Ganesha and Lakshmi are installed facing the main deity.

11:00 am

Having paid our obeisance without blinking our eyes (like the gopis who were cursing Brahma for their eyelids ) and bowed heads in reverence to Dwarkadheesh, we returned to Bangur Bhavan to pickup our mobile phones and cameras ( of course equipped with  notebooks and pens) and started on our second tour of the day on foot. We followed our guide Shri Dasa singing bhajans on the street ( an unique experience for us).
We passed through narrow lanes, encountering many bovine animals which stroll freely in Dwarka town. (Probably followed their Gopala all the way from Brindavan). Fortunately  they have stunted and inwardly curved horns. No harm done when they come near us butting with their foreheads for some eatables.

First we went to the ISKCON temple where the idols of Rukmini and Dwarkadheesh are installed. It is housed in an old building where Rukmini’s palace once stood.  We offered our prayers to the most beautiful images of Krishna and Rukmini with the chantings of ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’  and  also Guru Vandana and paid our respects to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

ISKCON Temple.             Prayer Meeting

Our next visit was to the Brahma  Mandir. We had darshan of the idol of Lord Brahma  inside a small shrine and the Brahma Kund.

                         Entrance to Brahma Mandir
                   Brahma Mandir                         Brahma Kund

Legend  4:- Brahma Kund

Long time ago Brahma came to Dwaraka to visit the Lord, but Krishna wanted to tease Brahma. When Brahma asked for permission to enter the city he was stopped by the gatekeepers.  They asked him for his identity. Brahma told them that he was the Chaturmukha Brahma. The ID of Brahma was relayed to Krishna. But Krishna wanted more ID proof. Brahma went on to say that he was the then ruling Brahma. He was the creator of this world. He was the father of 4 sons and so on.(with their Names) The leela  was going on for sometime. Finally Krishna made up his mind to meet him. The Lord showed the present Brahma,  many more Brahmas from different Yugas and Manvantaras having ten, hundred and thousands of heads with much bigger worlds created by them. Brahma felt sorry for being proud and wanted to stay in Dwarka. Krishna granted him his wish. A Kund was built for Brahma’s stay and later a shrine was added. (Due to some curse Brahma doesn’t have a temple for him except in places like Pushkar in Ajmer). We saw the shrine with a small idol of Brahma. There are steep steps descending towards the pool of water (Kund) on all four sides. The water which is 10 to 12 feet below is murky.  It needs silting and cleansing. The steps around the kund are broken and one has to be very careful in walking round the Kund. The place is not frequented much. It is said taking bath in this Kund would bestow the knowledge of all 4 Vedas and Sastras. It is a pity that such a holy place stands
unattended - needs complete renovation. Disappointed with the appearance of Brahma Kund we proceeded towards the Samudra Narayana Temple.

The Samudra Narayana Temple (Sangam Narayana) a tall, majestic structure  is situated on the banks of Gomti river  close to the Gomti Sagar Sangam where the river joins the sea. (sangama). There are steps inside the temple leading to the main deity Samudra Narayana. On the left, there is an arrow mark showing the way to Gomati Temple where  Gomathi Amman deity resides.  We chanted the Chakratirtha Mantra, Gomati Sangam stotram and Samudra Narayana stotram  led by our guide and prayed  to the four armed wooden deity known as Samudra Narayana, also called as Sangam Narayana. From Sangam 32 miles area along  the banks of the Gomoti on either side is called Chakratirtha.


View  of Samudra Narayana Temple  -- Deities Inside       Gomathi Amman Temple

Legend 5:-  

Gomati descends to the earth.    

From Skanda Purana--Lord Brahma had four sons - Sanaka. Sanatana, Sanandana and Sanat kumara. He wanted them to marry for begetting progeny. The sons were against
material  bondage and ‘bandhana’ with women as it would lead to ‘bandhana-dwara’ rather than ‘mukti-dwara’. They observed ‘naishtika brahmachari am’ and were meditating upon the higher plane and in order to perform Bhagavad sakshatkara -  (Sakshatkara means literally seeing with one's eyes,—direct perception through the senses. Sakshatkara of God is thus " seeing God”) ,entered into the Ratnakara Sagara and did severe penance for many many years. Brahma was very angry and  from his forehead his anger manifested itself as Rudra.  Garuda came  before the Sanat kumaras and told that the Supreme Lord would appear before them. They were perplexed as they didn’t have even  pure water to offer since they were surrounded by the ocean. Brahma became compassionate and pardoned his sons. Through sage Vasishta he arranged Gomati river to flow from Brahma Lok . Hence Gomati is also called as Vasishta putri  just as Ganga is called Jahnavi. Lord Krishna sent his Sudarshana Chakra deep into the earth and broke it into Chakrankita sila (stones with Chakras in them, a true manifestation of Vishnu).
He appeared before the Sanat Kumaras and accepted their argya. Dwaraka is also called as Mukhya Dwaraka Or Gomti Dwaraka

Chakrankita Sila

The  Chakrankita Sila or Dvaravati Sila is a type of coral stone obtained from the Gomati river with chakra markings. It is similar to the Shaligram which is black in colour whereas the Chakrankita Sila is white. According to Skanda purana -that one who worships Dwaraka Sila along with 12 Shaligram Sila is honoured even in Vaikunta.
It is believed that the famous Nageshwar Jyotirlinga near Dwaraka is made of a huge Dwaraka (Dvaravati) Sila.  In ancient Sanskrit literature Dvaraka was called Dvaravati .

Legend :-6

The Mahima of Gomti Sagar Sangam:-

Long time ago there lived an extremely sinful person. He died in a forest attacked by wild animals. His sukshma sarira was taken to Naraka Loka where he was to undergo severe punishment like the Kumbhipakam(Throwing the body in boiling oil). In the meanwhile his stula sarira or  body was carried by a vulture. Seeing the huge chunk of meat in its beak the other vultures flying in air started attacking it and the body fell down at a spot. In Naraka Loka the flames of the boiling oil was put out and the sinner was taken to the heaven. That spot happened to be the Saagara Sangama.

          Gomati  Saagara  Sangam ( River meets the sea)                                                                          

At the time of construction of Dwaraka, Viswakarma told that the task could be completed if only Samudra Deva provided some land. Krishna worshipped the Lord of the Sea who was pleased to give 12 Yojanas of land.  Samudra Deva also said that as long as dharma prevailed in that place the land would be available . Once adharma showed its face the city would go under water. According to the legends, Arjuna visited Dwarka to escort the ladies of Yadava clan to Hastinapura after Lord Krishna left for Vaikunta. As they were leaving Dwaraka, he witnessed the sea rising and covering the entire city leaving only the Hari alayam where the present Dwarkadheesh temple is being constructed.

The search for the lost city has been going on since 1930s. In 1981 the discovery showed evidence for a well fortified township of Dwaraka under water. The Samudra Narayana temple is taken as the centre point for research as many evidences are found in this area. An underwater museum is proposed where visitors can view the ruins of the lost city through glass windows. Dr. S.R.Rao was said to be actively involved in this research program. ( Dr. S. R. Rao, was an Indian Archaeologist who led teams credited with the discovery of a number of Harappan sites including the port city Lothal and Bet Dwarka in Gujarat).

There are a number of temples for different deities like Rama, Krishna, Sudama, Lakshmi, Saraswathi and for a few more in this area. About 12 bathing ghats with railings for  safety and comfort of bathers are provided.  River Gomati meets the sea at Chakra-tirtha Ghat. To take bath where the Gomati meets the ocean (Arabian Sea) is regarded 1000 times  more sacred than taking bath at the Ganga sagar ( where Ganga meets the Bay of Bengal) and a dip during the month of Magha is considered very auspicious.

Five things in Dwaraka  starting with ‘G” are said to be very very sacred ; they are Gomati river, Gomati Sagara Sangama, Godan, Gopi Chandan  and darshan of Shri Gopinath. ( 5 G’s )

It was past noon by the time we came out of Samudra Narayana temple.  We saw a number of turtles and  fish swimming in the water. We drank tender coconut juice to beat the heat which reminded us of the orange king coconuts of Sri Lanka. We took photos with the Sangam as the background. (see below)

            Our Sangam @ Saagara Sangamam
Our next visit was to Panchanada Tirtha, Lakshmi Narayana Temple. We had to cross the river by boats. Some of us found  it difficult as there are no proper steps to get into the boats . Thanks to the male members who gave us a helping hand. We went in 2 batches.

We could see a  newly constructed long bridge connecting both the banks yet to be
opened for public use. The Sudama Setu, a bridge over the Gomti River connecting mainland Dwarka  with Panchanada tirtha wells was scheduled to be commissioned during the Krishna Janmashtami holiday in 2015. It is a cable-stayed bridge which is 166 metres in length with a width of 2.4 metres.
The boat ride took hardly five minutes. The river water tasted salty. We presumed it due to the vicinity of the river to the sea .

Bridge Across the River

Legend :-7

How the Gomati River water became salty?

Once Krishna and Rukmini went to sage Durvasa and invited him for lunch at Dwaraka. Durvasa agreed to it on a condition that both of them have to pull the chariot carrying  the sage. Sri Krishna and Rukmini happily started pulling the chariot. On the way Rukmini felt thirsty. Sri Krishna dug the earth with his toe and the Holy water from Ganges sprang up . Rukmini took a sip which angered the sage. Durvasa known for his short temper cursed Rukmini that she would be separated from her husband . Rukmini
Devi did penance for 12 years and finally pleased with her prayers Sri Maha Vishnu appeared in front of her and the curse got absolved. Sage Durvasa also cursed that no potable water would be available around 10 mile radius of Dwaraka. Hence the water of Gomti river turned salty. Interesting indeed!!

Once we reached the other side of the river we had to trek on the hot sand. Luckily we were wearing footwears. At Panchanada Tirtha Kshetra  we visited the Lakshmi Narayana Temple and prayed to the presiding deities Sri Narayana and Lakshmi (Devi).
Pancha means five, nada is secret and tirtha is water. Panchanada Tirtha Kshetra is known for its five sweet water wells.
Legend :-8
Panchanada Tirtha

In Dwaraka the first sarovar established was Brahma Kund, Later Indra came here to establish Indra Kund. Varuna Tirtha, Parameshwara Tirtha, Gauri Tirtha, Yama Tirtha etc; , were established by respective Deities.

Lord Brahma’s five sons ( sages) by their penance brought five rivers.  Sage Marichi brought River Gomati, Atri rishi brought R. Lakshmana, Angirasa brought Chandrabhaga,
Pula: Kushavati; and Kratu -Jambavati. At present there are five sweet water wells in the place of the 5 rivers. The wells are also named after the Pancha Pandavas.  After losing everything, their land, property, kingdom and wife, to the Kauravas, the Pandavas, came to this spot to do penance. Here they were admonished for gambling everything away. However, the 5 sages were called to intercede on their behalf to the gods. They sat among the sand dunes with each of the Pandavas and prayed. Through their prayers and yogic powers, they drew the waters of five rivers, in the form of water wells, to the place where they were seated (kunds).
The 5 rivers were:-
  1. Jambuvanti from Gaya at Bhim Kund
  2. Gomti from Lucknow at Arjun Kund
  3. Kushavati from Goa at Nakul Kund
  4. Chandrabhaga from Orissa & Maharashtra at Sahadev Kund
  5. Laxmana from Badrinath & Himachal at Yudhisthira Kund

This is the reason why the water of each well tastes different, though they are surrounded by sea water on all sides.

Legend:- 9

During the episode of gambling, in the assembly of Kauravas Draupadi was humiliated by the Kaurava brothers. At the instigation of Karna, Dussasana, brother of Duryodhana started disrobing Draupadi, and her appeal to the elders in the assembly proved futile.  She then remembered to seek help from Lord Krishna holding her robe with both the hands, when there was no response she raised one hand still holding the robe with the other and finally she lifted both her hands towards Vaikunta  in ultimate surrender  / total sharanagati  and the Lord came to her aid mounted on his Garuda Vahana. This is the background for the presiding deities Lakshmi and Narayana in this shrine,who  are seen seated on Garuda.

‘Panchanada Kshetra ki Jai, Sri Lakshmi Narayan ki Jai’  - with this chanting we came out of the main temple. Outside we saw the statue of Sage Durvasa  meditating under a tree in repentance for cursing Rukmini and for his behaviour towards the celestial couple.

Sage Durvasa Meditating                             Cave of the Rishis
Infact the whole episode of Durvasa cursing Sri Rukmini and her separation from Sri Krishna which was  only momentary was due to Krishna Leela.( He wanted Rukmini to experience the Viraha bhava of Gopis in Vrindavan). In one corner there is a small room with the way to the cave of the sages where they performed penance.  We could also see the foot impressions of the five sages and also that of the Pancha Pandavas in the premises.

PanchaNada Kshetra       
                                           View of Sweet Water Wells (2 are seen)

Outside the temple we went around the five wells named after the Pandava brothers to taste the sweet water as prasad. We could hardly make out the difference in the taste.

Dwarkadheesh Temple View From Panchanada Tirtha

We took the boat back to reach the opposite bank, returned to Bangur Bhavan by 2:30pm and went straight to the dining room to have lunch.

Lunch menu:  Hot-hot puris, dal, cauliflower, aloo sabzi, moong gram masala,papad,Chaas and milk kheer, the first and last items mentioned were very tasty and everyone did good justice and enjoyed the meals.

At 4 pm we went for a dip in the holy waters of the Gomati river. We bathed in the shallow waters  for safety and we could easily wade through the sand below. From 6 to 8 pm we went round shopping , some engaged autos and visited the Gita mandir, Gayatri Mandir and Gomti Ghat for watching the evening sunset .

                             Sunset @ Gomati Ghat

A few of us went to the main shrine of Dwarkadheesh’ for Sandhya arati. We managed  to have a glimpses of the grand show though intercepted by the raised hands of other devotees. The whole atmosphere was charged with the spirit of Bhakti. We also went round the other shrines and had once again darshan without hurry. When we came out we noticed a new flag having blue and yellow colour stripes was fluttering.

8:30 pm Dinner- Hot pakodas straight from the kadai, roti, dal, cabbage sabzi, kichadi, kadi, papad and chaas.  

We got the instruction for the next day’s program, wished everyone “Hare Krishna” and retired to bed calling it a ‘long & good day’!

‘Jai krishna, Dwarkadheesh ki Jai’ !


( to be continued in Part - 3 )


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