Mahadeep Singh Jamwal With a civilization of more than 5000 years, India has a legacy of temples, monuments, places and sculptural masterpieces of inimitable aesthetic grandeur. India’s amazing diversity is also shown in the religions and religious places. One of the famous religious places is the Pushkar situated in an enchanting valley of the ‘Aravali Hills’, 12 kilometers north-west of Ajmer (Rajasthan), where world’s only Temple of Brahma is located. Significance of Pushkar has been mentioned in ‘Ramayana’, ‘Mahabharata’, ‘Buddha’ and ‘Jain’ mythology. Hinduism is a theistic religion believing in supreme beings known as Gods and Demi-Gods. Different sects worship different gods and Demi-Gods; however ‘Brahma’ is widely believed to be the Supreme Being in the religion. In Hindu philosophy and religion the Moksha (freedom) is liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth and it is the ultimate point of existence in Hinduism. Yatra (or pilgrimage) in Hindu religion is considered as one of the ways of attaining Moksha. Inspired by this philosophy, my travel to Pushkar, one of the oldest cities in India, brought me on cross road about the Pushkar Lake when different mythological stories haunted me. The Pushkar Lake is believed to have a miraculous origin where ‘Brahma’ performed a ‘Yajna’ on its bank. Legend has it that a demon called ‘Vajra Nabha’, living in Pushkar, had killed the children of ‘Brahma’ and in revenge ‘Brahma’ killed him with a Lotus stalk. As he did so, petals from the Lotus flower fell at three places in Pushkar where three Lakes arose: ‘Jyeshtha’, the main Lake, ‘Madhyama’, the middle one and ‘Kanishtha’ (also called as Boodha Pushkar) the small one. Some people perform oblations known as “Panch-kosi-Parikrama’ at these three Pushkars on foot covering distance of 16 Kms. According to another legend Lord Brahma thought as to where should perform Yagna? There were Tiraths (place of pilgrimage) in the name of every God and Goddess but none of Lord Brahma, so he thought there should be one Tirath in his name also. So chanting the word ‘Mangal Mangal’, he dropped a lotus to the earth. The flower fell at three places mentioned above leading to the immediate creation of a lake. He then decided to name the place after the flower, and thus the area got the name Pushkar. Another legend direct that when ‘Sati’ died, Lord Shiva cried so much and for so long that his tears created two holy ponds, one at Pushkar in Ajmer (Rajasthan) and the other known as ‘Katas Raj’ near Chakwal in Punjab province of Pakistan. It is said Pandva brothers lived 12 years in Katas. There is other story that the creation of Pushkar Lake, as an artificial lake, is also credited to the 12th century when a dam was built across the headwaters of the Luni River. The inscriptions found at Sanchi attest to the lake’s existence to the 2nd Century BC. Punched Greek and Kushan coins date the Pushkar lake back 4th Century. Chinese traveler Fa Xian’s references in fifth century AD also mentions of this lake. Modern additions to the building of Ghats and the renovation/construction of temples mostly go to the Rajput rulers. According to Hindu scriptures, the sacred Pushkar Lake is described as ‘Tirtha Raj’, the king of all pilgrimage sites and there is no particular temple of ‘Pushkar’. No pilgrimage is considered complete without a dip in the holy ‘Pushkar Lake’ surrounded by 52 ‘Bathing Ghats’. The lake side surrounded by bathing ghats is bustling with Hindus in the morning as priests perform rituals and pilgrims bathe in the holy waters and then take ‘Parikarma’ of the lake that takes at least more than one hour. The important ghats are Varaha Ghat, Brahma Ghat and Gau Ghat. It also has seats of Vallabhacharya and Nimbarkacharya community. There are approximately 400 temples in Pushkar and the most important amongst them are dedicated to Lord Brahma, Shiva, Badri Narayan, Rangjee, Gayatri, Savitri and Varaha. The British rule combined the religious pilgrimage now annual five-day cattle fair held in the city between the months of October and November. Apart from buying and selling of livestock, it has become an important tourist attraction. For the past sometime exhibition sport activities ‘Cricket Matches’, ‘Rassa Khinchai’ between the local Pushkar woman and foreign touring women are in frequent view. Vedic walks’ offers some of the most enriching experiences and best things to do in Pushkar. Young priests are being trained in the rituals of Hinduism so that they may one day perform these rituals in temples and at any ceremony. The gradual impact of western culture and life style is evident on old Indian religious culture of Pushkar inhabitants. Though it has gradually become an international tourist spot yet Indian spiritualism, philosophy, culture and rural folk life still continue to dominate at this place. This is the perfect place to hang out if you want to get a sense of local life. It is difficult to part away without mentioning the legend associated with ‘Yagna’ by Brahma at Pushkar that lead to various curse shot up by ‘Savitri’ wife of Brahma. The Brahma performed ‘Yagna’ with managed and purified girl named as ‘Gaytri’ and when ‘Savitri reached the Yagna site for participating in Yagna and noticing some other woman with Brahma performing yagna, she cursed one and all participating in the Yagna. Savitri cursed Brahma that except Pushkar, he will not be worshipped anywhere in the world. Indra was cursed not to win any battle and will be living in heaven always afraid. She cursed Vishnoo that he will take birth as human and will suffer separation of wife. Lord Shiva was cursed that he will take burnt remains of dead body (Bhasam) and that ghosts will be your companion. Brahmins were cursed that you will beg for your food from here and there and will always remain poor. The cow which helped purification of Gaytri was cursed that your mouth will always be eating filth. Kuber was cursed that his money will be robbed and taken away by kings. She cursed air that you will give bad smell. However Gaytri pronounced some remedies to all cursed for salvation.
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