Sunday, August 16, 2015

Brahm Sarovar and Jyotisar in Kurukshetra

I have gone past the little town of Kurukshetra so many times, but could not find time to go, see the place which every Indian knows to be the battleground of the Mahabharata war and the place where Krishna is said to have discoursed the warrior Arjuna in what is known as one of profoundest philosophies of all times, the Bhagavat Geeta. So this time, I was quite determined to explore and was pleasantly surprised to find even more places worth a look see in this charming town!

To begin with, I should say that Kurukshetra is not very far from the fields of Panipat, which witnessed three very important battles, the last battle of Panipat in January 1761 being exceptionally bloodletting for a hundred thousand perished in a single day. The epic story of the Mahabharata also has it that the war of Kurukshetra was exceptionally devastating in its effects. Even before, myth has it that the warrior sage Parashuram carried out his annihilation of the Kshatriya clans in and around this very place. So when I came to Brahm Sarovar, the sacred lake dating from thousands of years ago as the sage Prajapati Brahma is known to have done his penances here and a signboard stated local tradition of the lake being dug for the first time by the king Kuru, the ancestor of the warring parties of the Kurukshetra battle, I could not but wonder at how this place could have been a battleground in hoary time as well as the medieval times! History does repeat itself, doesn't it? Unless we take lessons from it ...

The lake is big, and this is the view from the middle, where there is an abutment that houses a Shiva temple. There is a gallery that runs all around and separate bathing areas have been built for the ladies. Another inroad leads to an ancient well and a huge bronze sculpture of Parthasarathi, Krishna as the charioteer of Arjuna in the Kurukshetra war. Legend has it that a dip in these waters during a full solar eclipse rids a person of all his sins (or hers) and such occasions witness a huge throng, eager to wash away their sins and as I suspect, all the bad karma that they may have accumulated. Can't fault an honest effort, can we!

This place finds a mention in the writings of Al Berouni, Arab traveller and scholar in the 11th century as well as in the writings of Abul Fazal, courtier of the Emperor Akbar in the 16th century.

Brahm Sarovar
You can see the dedicated bathing areas and those railings prevent you from venturing deep inside. Fish abound, fed by the devout masses and that is really an excellent way of keeping the pond clean. The govt has ensured a steady supply of water from  a branch of the Sutlej canal, so let us hope the place continues to inspire and attract the pious and the not so pious in equal measure, including an occasional gawker, now and then ..

A few kilometers away, Jyotisar. Temple precincts have grown around the place, under a banyan tree, where Krishna spoke for the first time about non attachment to action and the need for action at the same time. 

Entry to Jyotisar
 An ancient  shrine just inside the gates that is now deep within a banyan tree 

 And the exact spot as they say, where the first discourse was given by Krishna, aboard the war chariot of Arjuna. The place where he revealed himself to be the supreme consciousness where all action is fated to be, all beings fated to arise and sink into. Myself included, hopefully!

No idea what that box contains, apart from a couple of clay figures. Incidentally, this banyan tree is also known as Akshay Bat, or the Indestructible Banyan. One finds such ancient banyans in almost all places of reverence, including the Jagannath temple at Puri and the Buddha is also known to have given his first sermon from under the benevolent shade of another banyan tree. Anyway, the place is remarkably laid back and peaceful. One is allowed to sit down anywhere and wonder about the verses in the Bhagavad Geeta, or about the endless mystery in our lives.

As I found this person, going about his reading in right earnest, quite oblivious to the passing crowd

klaibyaḿ mā sma gamaḥ pārtha ...  this is the verse that comes to mind. Roughly translated, "Do not you tread this path of degrading impotence, son of  Prtha" ...

One gets strange vibes sometimes as I have noticed during these forays and in this place, it really felt like fulfillment. Peace and closure. It is difficult to explain but I sure wish you were here with me, for I would have liked to share the feeling with you in real time, 

Did not have time to visit Harsh Ka Tila, an archaeological site or Sheikh Chilli's tomb. Some other time, surely!


  1. As I read, I felt like I was walking along with you, absorbing its incredible history.I always love these rambles, and your photos are, as always, wonderful. Thank you, my friend.

    1. Many thanks, Sherry of the blue skies! I know that you may not quite get into the Indian idiom, but your words of encouragement hide a keen appreciation of things, situations, possibilities ...

      Thank you once again!

  2. Once again, I have to agree with Sherry about walking along with you in your travels, and about the incredible history in India. Makes the US seem like such an historical infant!

    I love the lake with its curative powers, and I also like it that many times trees are associated with places of reverence. I certainly felt as though I was in a cathedral during my visit to California's Redwood forests last fall.

    Thanks for another enjoyable and informative post!

    1. Those ancient Redwoods, Rita, are truly venerable and I remember your post about them in a grove. I would have very much liked to spend some moments of silence under these living Buddhas, as I would like to think about them!

      Disintegration, falling apart is what we must accept Rita as a part of life. In these times.
      Many thanks for taking some time to visit this blog!

  3. Hmm. No, i do not want to wash my sins. Some of my sins are rotten ones indeed. But some of them are highly precious memories to live with a long boring life.
    Second interesting point, you raised, to ponder with is why that area was good for big fights for a long time. Thanks again for good posts.