GURU DHAM YOG TEMPLE VARANASI

Varanasi, the holy city of Hindus, is also called the CITY OF TEMPLES in fact there are innumerable big and small temples in Varanasi. VARANASI HAS BEEN THE CENTER OF YOGA AND TANTRA PRACTICE SINCE ANCIENT TIMES. During the Mughal period, idol-worship and yoga practice remained inactive. Under the rule of Marathas, once again the traditions related to Hindu religion were restored. Many new temples were built in Banaras during this period. E.I.C ~ The East India Company’s dominance was established over Banaras from 1781, but the construction of temples continued unabated.

Presently one such temple is the Yoga Mandir in Gurudham locality of Varanasi. This temple is famous for its unique architecture.

RAJA JAI NARAYAN GHOSHAL

This temple was built by Raja Jai ​​Narayan Ghoshal of Khedderpur  (Bengal) in 1814. He is also credited for starting the system of modern education and for establishing many schools in Varanasi.

Raja Jai ​​Narayan Ghoshal was a man of great vision. He was the first to recognize the turning point of time during the rule of the East India Company. Raja Jai ​​Narayan Ghoshal was interested in the modern European education system, he was influenced by it. During his stay in Varanasi, Raja Jai ​​Narayan Ghoshal found that the condition of Hindu education system is very pathetic. Hindu education has remained confined to religious knowledge only. The Hindu education system was almost completely destroyed during the Mughal period. Jai Narayan Ghoshal established a school in Varanasi in 1814 along with the Yoga Mandir. This school is known as Jai Narayan Ghoshal Vidyalaya.

Octagonal architecture of the Yoga Mandir in Guru Dham(top view). The design consists of four concentric octagons of different sizes. The different octagons have been shown with different color and the entrance is shown at the top in the image. The orange colored octagon is the boundary of the temple whereas the red, green, blue colored octagons are the three floors of the main building.

TEMPLE STRUCTURE

As I mentioned earlier the structure of Guru Dham temple is octagonal. The structure of the temple immediately caught my attention, I was thinking that at that time was there any special custom in Banaras to make buildings, wells etc. related to Hindu religion in octagonal shape??? The reason for this was that I have seen many octagonal wells in temples, dharmshalas built by the Marathas in Benares in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. So, there could be a possibility of this statement of mine being true, but of course I can be wrong as well as there is no concrete evidence on which I can claim so. For more information about this subject please visit :- https://nithinks.com/2022/05/31/the-agony-of-the-ancient-wells-of-one-of-the-oldest-routes-in-india/


WINGED LION

Bishop Haber had mentioned in his letter that Jai Narayan Ghoshal was also influenced by the teachings of Christianity due to being in contact with Mr. Kori, the priest of Banaras. This can be clearly seen in the construction of the Yoga Mandir of Jai Narayan Ghosh.

GURU DWAR AND WINGED LION

The main gate is built into the wall. (GURU-DWAR) Guru is used in a wide sense in Hindu culture. Guru means teacher, elder, and is used to offer respect to someone. On both sides of the main gate there are statues of a lion-like figure. The Winged lion represents Saint Mark the Evangelist, patron of Venice. Saint Mark the Evangelist of the Republic of Venice was the heraldic symbol of the patron saint of the Republic.

The Gurudwar is built on one side of the octagonal wall, apart from this the gates built on the remaining seven sides are named as Saptapuris.

Saptapuris:- According to Hindu religion, these seven cities are very holy and salvific.
1.Kashi
2.Ayodhya
3.Mathura
4.Maya (Haridwar)
5.Dwarkadham
6.Avantika (Ujjain)
7.Kanchi

According to the belief of Hinduism, Kashi is the most sacred amongst all of them. Within Kashi there are different localities named after the other 6 cities. It is said that if a person is not able to travel to the other Puris (holy cities), then he should visit the localities named after these Puris in Kashi itself and this would be equivalent to visiting the other puris as well.

Jai Narayan Ghoshal was an advocate of Western education and had friendly relations with the people of the Christian missionaries of Varanasi. English language, British History and Bible were also a part of the school curriculum in the school founded by Jai Narayan Ghoshal. The cross ~ the holy icon of Christianity, is clearly visible on the gate above.

When entering through the Guru Dwar (main gate) there are two small temples- Each one of them having an idol of a hindu deity one of the deity was Lord Hanuman(left), however I was not able to identify the other deity(right).

PHILOSOPHY BEHIND THE THREE FLOOR OCTAGONAL BUILDING OF THE YOGA MANDIR

The construction of the temple is based on the philosophy of attainment of God from the Guru and then the attainment of Yoga zero from God. Many historians believe that the construction of this temple is based on the Samkhya philosophy of Kapil Muni. The stairs leading from the ground floor to the first floor are built on the lines of human Kundalini (Spine, coiled snake) and Nadis. (Nerve, Blood Vessel, Pulse) According to Shaiv ​​Tantra, the power of every human being is stored in kundalini .

Manuscript painting of a yogin in meditation, showing the chakras and the three main nadis.

First Floor(The ground floor):-

There are 32 stone pillars outside the sanctum on the bottom most floor of this temple and there are 24 pillars inside the sanctum. The building has four doors. This floor has always been idol-less.

Second Floor:-

There are narrow roads Kundalinuma (coiled snake)from outside and inside to reach the second floor of the building. It is believed that an idol of Radha-Krishna was installed on the second floor. But now these idols aren’t there.

Third floor:-

This is the last floor of the temple. The roof of this floor is circular. The third floor of the temple symbolizes the SHUNYA (space).

A corridor leads forward from the three-story octagonal building. At the end of the corridor comes a verandah. The floor of the verandah is made of stone. On both sides of this floor there are figures like small houses.


The total number of these house-like figures is seven. The ceiling of the first and last rooms is circular whereas the roofs of the other five houses in between the first and the last one are conically shaped.

On the opposite side there must have been similar figures, except one, all the others seem to have been destroyed. Going a little further, there is a European styled building and this is the last structure present inside the temple.

The European styled building.

The unique temple built by Jai Narayan Ghoshal was in a very dilapidated condition a few years ago. Because of its religious and spiritual importance, it was declared a monument of national importance in 1987. In 2007, it was taken over by the Uttar Pradesh State Archaeological Department and they got it renovated. From 2016 it has been opened for the general public. Its restoration work has not been completed yet. But now its condition is much better and for this the archaeological department deserves great credit.