The rats of Karni mata Temple

Incredible! That’s how I felt when I saw all of them dinning and crawling together. Before you think I happened to visit the set where Stuart Little was filmed, let me walk you through Mata Karni Temple in Deshnok in Rajasthan. Standing tall is the main shrine of Mata Karni accompanied by what the natives and many ardent devotees worship – rats! Almost 20,000 of them!

 During my stay in Bikaner, I’d heard so much about this temple that the very next morning, I had to see it to believe it. After a half hour drive, from the moment I reached Deshnok till the time I stepped inside the temple, I was more curious than scared. On entering, I saw rats teeming everywhere. Huddled in corners and flitting around, they are completely oblivious of devotees gawking at them. The sight was absolutely bizarre!

Fearlessly feeding them were devotees who come here to receive therats’ blessings. Once these rats nibble food, it is considered auspicious to be served as prasad. Creepy? Yes it is, especially if you’re rat phobic. At first, you might want to just run…and fast. But hang on…Soon, you realise these rats are harmless They’re too busy nibbling away on food and slurping milk.

At the temple, it’s believed that if you sight a white rat amongst the thousands of black rats, you’re considered fortunate. Legend has it that white rats are manifestations of Mata Karni who was an incarnation of Goddess Durga and her four sons. When the child of one of her clansmen died, she insisted Lord Yama (god of death) bring him back to life. He did so and reincarnated the child as a rat.

Thereafter, Karni Mata dictated that if any of her clansmen died, they would be reborn as rats.

Since then, thousands of rats move this story forward. In fact, the authorities take special care to safeguard these treasured beings. The temple is bordered by wires and grills over the courtyard to prevent birds and other animals from coming in. People are requested to walk carefully inside so that they do not step on them. If one is accidently killed, you’d be forced to shell out a 24 carat gold rat. Now, that is a huge penalty! A stranger fact is that not a single case of plague has been reported here ever since this temple was constructed. Professors, researchers and I still wonder…

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

 

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~Steep way to God ~

Kedarnath is one of the 4 Char Dham Hindu pilgrim centers in Uttarakhand, India. The town and the temple are open from May to October only to avoid heavy snowfall in winter. Specific dates are as per the Hindu Calendar and one needs to check for specific dates for each year. One can still visit when the town is shut down but one needs to be prepared for being on own amidst heavy snow fall.

Kedarnath (about 3400 m high)  is highest among the 12 Jyotirlingas.

Kedarnath is approachable on foot from Gaurikund (about 2900m high), which is connected by road to Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar and other important hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon region. Daily buses/taxis from Hardwar/Rishikesh/Dehradun ply during the pilgrim season (approx May to October) take you to Gauri Kund. The road ends here. Kedarnath is a steep 14 km trek from Gauri Kund (horses and palanquins are available for hire). There is even a helicopter service during peak season, which is run by Pawan Hans Helicopter service.

From Haridwar every day morning buses start to Gaurikund. Advance bookings can be made at GMOA (Garhwal Mandal owners Association) office in front of the railway station. It takes almost one full day journey to reach Gaurikund if there are no Landslides. Bus journey is very beautiful because most of the 240 kms is ghat road journey with many mountains around and river ganga following you through out the way.

If you choose to drive your own vehicle, make sure it has good ground clearance as there are rocks strewn all over the route. A powerful engine will make life much easier. There are two parking lots just before Gaurikund (100m, 500m before Gaurikund). Getting space for private vehicles is tough, but can be managed after polite cajoling discussions with the caretakers. 5 km below Gaurikund, there is SonPrayag. There is fatak (gate) here to make sure vehicles move in one direction only from SonPrayag to Gaurikund. It ensures minimum traffic snarls, but adds 1-1.5 hrs to journey time should you end up on the stationary side. It would be advisable to park your vehicle at SonPrayag and hitch a ride to Gaurikund.

As soon as you reach Gauri kund, the people who own mules will start asking you if you need a mule for trek to kedarnath. Dont commit anything to them. The going rates in 2011 are INR 400-700. Make sure your mule has been adequately rested before you start (it’s a very steep climb) and that it has some experience of the route (mules run on auto-pilot if not controlled by the guide or you).

Porters (pitthus in local language) are also available to carry your luggage up to Kedarnath and leave you free to walk up lighter. They can deliver to your hotel directly or walk with you.

At Gaurikund, there are some privates guest houses to stay. GMVN’s guest house is usually the best option and bookings can be made online as well. You can also take a dip in the holy water from a hot spring. Its a great relief to take bath in hot water. Some may find it crowded.

Kedarnath is 14kms from Gaurikund and you can choose to walk or take a mule. Older people take the doli, which is carried by 4 hired people. If you can walk half a kilometer towards Kedarnath you will find the office of booking mules and dolis. There will be plenty of people on the side ways asking you, if you need a mule. Its always better to book in that office because the mules which they give are good in health and strong.

Once you start from Gaurikund, there is a concrete road to walk on and there is a small shop for every 200 meters where you can get some tea, chocolates, biscuits, maggi noodles etc., After 7kms , you reach a place called Rambara. There are couple of guest houses here to stay including one by GMVN. Most pilgrims take a break here and eat some food and then resume the journey towards Kedarnath.

Trek towards Kedarnath - KedarNath, Uttarakhand

The air gets thinner after Rambara and many people experience breathing trouble between Rambara and Kedarnath. This is particularly acute for people walking up. The ascent flattens out about a Km before Kedarnath. Thus, one climbs up about 1500 m in the 13 KM between Gaurikund and this point.

The Holy river Mandakini accompanies the trekkers throughout the tough, but rewarding journey, as one is encountered by numerous beautiful waterfalls on the way. 😀

The view is fantastic while moving towards temple but the dung of mules make you feel uncomfortable because of so many mules. Even though there are some people, who constantly clean the path, it still smells little bad. A good pair of binoculars would make the journey even more breath-taking.

‘Gate to Lord’

The name Nathdwara means ‘Gate of the Lord’.

Nathdwara is a town in Rajasthan state of western India. It is located in the Aravalli hills, on the banks of the Banas River in Rajsamand District, 48 kilometers north-east of Udaipur. This town is famous for its temple of Krishna which houses the idol of Shrinathji.

Nathdwara is a very famous Hindu pilgrimage site. This is one of the most eminent pilgrimage shrines of India, preserving Krishna as Govardhana Giridhari.

Nathdwara enshrines Shrinathji – an image of Krishna, which was originally enshrined at the Vraja Bhoomi at Mount Govardhana near Mathura. The image of Srinathji is believed to have been a self manifested one.

As per the religious myths, the shrine at Nathdwara was built in the 17th century at the spot as exactly ordained by Shrinathji himself. The idol of the Lord Krishna was being transferred to a safer place from Vrindaban to protect it from the anti-Hindu, iconoclastic and barbarian destruction of the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb. When the idol reached the spot at village Sihad or Sinhad, the wheels of bullock cart in which the idol was being transported sank axle-deep in mud and could not be moved any farther. The accompanying priests realised that the particular place was the Lord’s chosen spot and accordingly, a temple was built there under the rule and protection of the then Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar.

Vallabhacharya the founder of this deity’s idol at Govardhan hill, near Mathura made arrangements for the worship and this tradition was continued by his son, Vitthalesh Goswami also known as Vitthal Nathji,institutionalised the worship of Shrinathji at Nathdwara. Shrinathji is worshiped by priests from this kul (genealogical descendants) of Vallabh Acharya, in all Havelis around the world, which have also been established exclusively by them.

The temple is also popularly called Shrinathji ki Haveli

The temple has everything that is required in a household from transport to food facility for the God Krishna.

Chariot for movement ; (In fact the original chariot in which Shrinathji was brought to Singhar)

drawing room (Baithak)

A functional kitchen (Rasoighar)

A jewellery chamber (Gahnaghar)

treasury (Kharcha bhandaar)

A gold and silver grinding wheel (Chakki)

Store room for milk (Doodhghar)

A store room for Betel (Paanghar)

A store room for sugar and sweetmeats (Mishrighar and Pedaghar)

A store room for flowers (Phoolghar)

A stable for horses of chariot (Ashvashala)

The Image of Shrinathji Shrinathji symbolizes a form of Krishna, when he lifted the Govardhan hill.

In the image, the lord is revealed with his left hand raised and the right hand made into a fist resting at the waist, with a large diamond placed beneath the lips.

The idol is carved in Bas-relief out of a monolithic black marble stone, with images of two cows, one lion, one snake, two peacocks and one parrot engraved on it and three sages placed near it.

The main attractions are the Aartis and the Shringar, i.e. the dressing and beautifying of the idol of Shrinathji, I was surprise to see that the idol is treated as a living person, adorning it with the appropriate dresses for the time of day or night.Tradition holds that Shrinathji would return to Govardhan some day.

I look forward to visit the “House of Krishna” again.

Jai Sreenath Ji Ki !

 

The God of Wisdom

||Vakra-Tunndda Maha-Kaaya Surya-Kotti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Me Deva Sarva-Kaaryessu Sarvadaa||

||वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय सुर्यकोटि समप्रभ
निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा||

 

The 10-day-long festival of Ganesh Chaturthi, which celebrates the Birth of the Elephant-Headed Hindu God Ganesha, begins Today.

Ganesh Chaturthi falls on the fourth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, which falls around August or September.The festival starts with the installation of new Ganesha idols, in Homes and Outdoors.

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with a belief that Lord Ganesha, Son of Shiva and Parvati, bestows His blessings on His devotees, on this day. It is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha, the God of Wisdom.

The occasion becomes very lively and enthusiastic with the devotional songs, dances and drum beats being a part of the procession observed by the devotees of Lord Ganesha, as a part of the festivities. Ganesh Chaturthi is the only festival that involves and welcomes the participation of general public.

 

The festival starts with the installation of beautifully sculpted Ganesha idols in homes and mandaps.

The Laddu & Modak is very dear to Ganesha and He bestows joy and grants our well-being. An imponderable ocean of learning, Lord Ganesh is the ordainer of buddhi or knowledge.

After celebration, the time of farewell comes and the idol of the beloved God is immersed in water. The celebration ends with the immersion, accompanied by loud shouts of  ‘Ganapati Bappa Moraya’.

King of Gods – The Mahadev

There is festive look all-around today. Today is the second last Monday of the Shravan month. The Shiva temple near my vicinity is being thronged by countless men and women wearing all qued up in a line waiting for their turn to come when they will be able to offer the Ardhya of water and milk to propitiate the lord Shiva.

To this day, devotees pour water and milk on Shiva linga to neutrlise the effects of intense heat when the Lord tried to swallow the poison that had emerged from the churning of the ocean.

All the sacred men of the ancient times such as Lalleshwari in Kashmir to Karaikal Amariyar and the Nayanars of Taminadu, from Viveka Nanda who was reported to have a vision of Lord Shiva at Amarnath to Ramanand Rishi who found him in the mountains of Arunachal,Tiruvannamalai, Abhaltas and Adwaitists have all been magnetically drawn to the appeal of Lord Shiva.

Lalleshwari

    The great father Bhole Baba blessing all human beings without prejudice. Shiva’s blue stained neck with three eyes are symbolic of his power to remove poison(evil) from the universe. He is considered to be Master yogi and a repository of knowledge. He is the king of Gods-The Mahadev. Om Namah Shivaye is eternal chant of the name of Shiva.

Shiva is beyond the Gunas, as His trident represents all the three, Tamas,Rajas and Sattva. The attire of the elephant skin is symbolic of his beyond pride. The tiger skin represents his going beyond lust. And the snake around his neck represents wisdom and eternity. His Tandav Nritya is perceived as an allegory of the movement of sub atomic particles, drawing parallels between Indian mysticism and nuclear physics.

So Shiva is Anant.

 Shiv Rudraashtak Stotram

“OM NAMAH SHIVAYE”

Truth always Triumphs !

Dharma Kshetra:Kurukshetra

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The Gita relates an impassioned philosophical conversation on the battlefield between Krishna and Arjuna.

The Gita is a rare emotional moment within the Mahabharata, where the inexorable forces of plot, fate, and time pause to allow Arjuna to turn to Krishna for guidance. It is normal in the context of major battles to consult during the long build-up period to action; but the improbable physical location of this consultation in the center of the battlefield heightens the emotional aspect and places it even more firmly into this alternate space.

 

Devotion to Lord

Shiva Tandava Stotram (शिवताण्डवस्तोत्रम्) is a stotra, hymn of praise in the Hindu tradition that describes Shiva’s power and beauty. It was sung by the son of Rishi Vishrawas Ravana.

A compelling and complex personality, Ravana is for many Hindus a legendary hero, a scholar of immense intelligence.

He was obsessed with his powers and was egoistic, and to display and prove his powers he was about to move Mount Kailash (the abode of Shiva who was his ancestor god). He managed to lift the mountain but Shiva immediately placed it back just by pressing his toe crushing Ravana’s fingers in the process. That is when Ravana sings “Tandav Stotram” and he was spared and blessed with Chandrahas (Moon sword by Lord Shiva) considered one of the most powerful weapons in Hindu Mythology.

Shiva Thandava Stotram was composed by Ravana. Shiva Tandava Mantra is a great prayer of Dancing Shiva and it is believed that those who read  Shiva Tandava Stotram get the blessing of Lord Shiva, and the affectionate sight of god of wealth.

Jatatavee gala jjala pravaha pavitha sthale,
Gale avalabhya lambithaam bhujanga thunga malikaam,
Dama ddama dama ddama ninnadava damarvayam,
Chakara chanda thandavam thanothu na shiva shivam. 1

Jata kataha sambhramabrama nillimpa nirjari,
Vilola veechi vallari viraja mana moordhani,
Dhaga dhaga daga jjwala lalata patta pavake,
Kishora Chandra shekare rathi prathi kshanam mama. 2

Dara darendra nandini vilasa bhandhu bhandura,
Sphuradigantha santhathi pramodha mana manase,
Krupa kadaksha dhorani niruddha durdharapadi,
Kwachi digambare mano vinodhamethu vasthuni. 3

Jada bhujanga pingala sphurath phana mani prabha,
Kadamba kumkuma drava praliptha digwadhu mukhe,
Madhandha sindhura sphurathwagu utthariya medhure,
Mano vinodhamadhbutham bibarthu bhootha bharthari. 4

Sahasra lochana prabhoothyasesha lekha shekhara,
Prasoona dhooli dhorani vidhu sarangri peedabhu,
Bhujangaraja Malaya nibhadha jada jhootaka,
Sriyai chiraya jayatham chakora bandhu shekhara. 5

Lalata chathwara jwaladhanam jaya sphulingabha,
Nipeetha pancha sayagam saman nilimpanayakam,
Sudha mayookha lekhaya virajamana shekharam,
Maha kapali sampade, siro jadalamasthu na. 6

Karala bhala pattika dhagadhaga jjwala,
Ddhanam jayahuthi krutha prachanda pancha sayage ,
Dharadharendra nandhini kuchagra chithrapathraka,
Prakalpanaika shilpini, trilochane rather mama. 7

Naveena megha mandali nirudha durdharath sphurath,
Kahoo niseedhi neethama prabhandha bandha kandhara,
Nilimpa nirjari darsthanothu kruthi sindhura,
Kala nidhana bandhura sriyam jagat durandhara. 8

Prafulla neela pankaja prapancha kalima prabha,
Valambhi kanda kanthali ruchi prabandha kandharam,
Smarschidham puraschidham bhavaschidham makhachidham,
Gajachidandakachidham tham anthakachidham bhaje. 9

Agarva sarva mangalaa kalaa kadamba manjari,
Rasa pravaha madhuri vijrumbha mana madhu vrtham,
Suranthakam, paranthakam, bhavanthakam, makhandakam,
Gajandhakandhakandakam thamanthakanthakam bhaje. 10

Jayathwadhabra vibramadbujaamga maswasath,
Vinirgamath, kramasphurath, karala bhala havya vat,
Dhimi dhimi dhimi dhwanan mrudanga thunga mangala,
Dhwani karma pravarthitha prachanda thandawa shiva. 11

Drusha dwichi thra thalpayor bhujanga moukthika srajo,
Garishta rathna loshtayo suhrudhwi paksha pakshayo,
Trunara vinda chakshusho praja mahee mahendrayo,
Samapravarthika kadha sadashivam bhajamyaham. 12

Kada nilampa nirjaree nikunja kotare vasan,
Vimuktha durmathee sada sirasthanjaleem vahan,
Vilola lola lochano lalama bhala lagnaka,
Shivethi manthamucharan kada sukhee bhavamyaham. 13

Imam hi nithya meva muktha muthamothamam sthavam,
Padan, smaran broovan naro vishudhimethi santhatham,
Hare Gurou subhakthimasu yathi nanyadha gatheem,
Vimohinam hi dehinaam sushakarasya chithanam. 14

Poojavasana samaye dasa vakhra geetham,
Ya shambhu poojana param padthi pradhoshe,
Thasya sthiraam radha gajendra thuranga yuktham,
Lakshmeem sadaiva sumukheem pradadathi shambu. 15


God Bless Us All !

Buddha says :

“You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger.”

The Buddha who is the founder of the Buddhist religion is called Buddha Shakyamuni “Shakya” is the name of the royal family into which he was born, and “Muni” means “Able One.” Buddha Shakyamuni was born as a royal prince in 624 BC in a place called Lumbini, in what is now Nepal. His mother’s name was Queen Mayadevi and his father’s name was King Shuddhodana.