Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1012. Link between Rameshwaram and Kashi....!

The pilgrimage to Kashi starts from Rameshwaram!

It is a custom to first go to Rameshwaram and make a Sankalpa (volition) and collect the sand from the sea near Agni Theertha. The pilgrim carries the sand from Rameshwaram to Kashi and immerses the sand in Ganga. After the dharshana of Kashi Vishwanatha, Maa Vishalakshi and Maa Annapurna, the pilgrim will offer his obedience to Maa Ganga and carry Ganga water in a copper container. He is supposed to make a trip again to Rameshwaram and use the Ganga water to anoint the Sri Ramanatha Swamy at Rameshwaram.

Is there any significance in this practice or is it just a blind tradition followed???

Let us find out and before that a small story about Ganga will help us understand about why we need to displace the sand and water geographically!!!
In the Navama Skanda (9th Canto) of Srimad Bhagvatham is the story of Ganga. As per the legend, Sagara Chakraavarthi of Ikshvaku dynasty was ruling Ayodhya. He had two wives Keshini and Sumathi. Keshini had a son Asamanjasa while Sumathi was blessed with 60000 sons.

Once Sagara performed Aswamedha Yagna and as a part of the Yagna ritual the sacrificial Horse was to be released to wander in the nearby kingdoms. The Kings of those kingdoms had to either surrender and offer gifts or tie the wandering horse and fight against the King. The sacrificial horse after passing through many kingdoms finally arrives at the ashrama of Kapila Muni which is now Rameshwaram.

Kapila Muni is seated in the seat of silence and the 60000 sons of Sagara come looking for the horse. Assuming Kapila Muni who was sitting with his eyes close to have captured the horse, they shout at him disturbing his transcendental state. Enraged at being disturbed Kapila Muni opens his eyes resulting in 60000 sons of Sagara burning down to ashes.

Worried, Sagara sends his grandson Anshumantha (son of Asamanjasa) to find the whereabouts of his 60000 sons and also the sacrificial Horse. Anshumantha finally reaches the ashrama of Kapila Muni and get to know about the incidence. Kapila Muni advises him that only Vishnupaadabhavi Ganga can wash off the sins of his uncles. So Ganga has to flow over the heap of ash.

Sagara, his son Asamanjasa, then Anshumantha and his son Dileepa make many attempts to bring the celestial river Ganga down, but do not succeed. Finally King Bhagiratha, son of Dileepa takes up the task performs a severe penance and is successful. He routed it to Ganga Sagara (which is now called Bay of Bengal).

It is said that Ganga after it enters Sagara would touch the shore in Rameshwaram near Agni Theertham where the ashes of the ancestors of Bhagiratha were present. In Treta Yuga when Shri Rama and his vanara sena built the Sethu (bridge) to go to Sri Lanka, Ganga could not reach the sands of Rameshwaram. Hence it was made a custom for every pilgrim to carry the sand which has the ashes of 60000 sons of Sagara from Agni Theertham to Kashi and immerse in Ganga.

Now why should we bring Ganga water to anoint Sri Ramanatha Swamy at Rameshwaram???

As told earlier the waters of Ganga does not reach Rameshwaram and in due course there were many rivers like Padma, Meghna, Godavari, Krishna, Irrawaddy and Kaveri draining out into Bay of Bengal. So no longer was it Ganga Sagar it became the confluence of many rivers apart from Ganga. Hence the anointment of Sri Ramanatha Swamy at Rameshwaram is done from the original Ganga water brought by the pilgrims without being amalgamated with other river waters.

Could be a strange custom but we did take the sand of Rameshwaram and immerse it at Kashi Ganga, now we have carried with us the small copper pots filled with Ganga water to anoint Sri Ramanatha Swamy at Rameshwaram.....When???
Waiting again for his graceful call..... !!!

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