Eight chapters of Varanasi that everyone must read.

GANGA MAIYA KI JAI

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same—-Walt Whitman.

SUBAH -E-BANARAS (MORNING IN VARANASI)

“Benares(Varanasi) is older than history, older than tradition, older even than  legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together “ MARK TWAIN.

So much has been written about Varanasi that to write anything one has to repeat the facts. In simple words, on the basis of my experience, I can say that one should try to understand Varanasi like a simple poetry. A poetry that has been present in its natural form in every period of time. If you have the patience to read poetry (information on internet has exhausted patience) if you have the passion to peep into history, then Banaras is the best. You may say that Varanasi is like onion – like onion has many folds, in the same way if we consider Varanasi city as onion, then there are many layers of history, it can be experienced with a little patience. The beginning of human civilization, the struggle against imperialism, or the present day, everything can be seen in Varanasi. Just a little ability to smell history, or a little fondness to feel history, Banaras is an unforgettable experience.

Go to Benares or Kashi, that most ancient of cities, and give ear to her murmuring. Does she not tell you of her immemorial past-of how she has gone on while empires have decayed, of Buddha who came to her with his new gospel, of the millions who have gone to her through the ages to find peace and solace? Old and hoary, decrepit, dirty, smelly, and yet much alive and full of the strength of ages, is Benares. Full of charm and wonder is Kashi, for in her eyes you can see the past of India, and in the murmur of her waters you can hear the voices of ages long gone by.

HOLY DIP (SUBAH -E-BANARAS(VARANASI)

HOLY DIP

“I think Banaras(KASHI,VARANASI) is one of the most wonderful places I have ever seen. It it has struck me that a westerner feels in Banaras very much as an oriental must feel while he is planted down in the middle of London”. (MARK TWAIN)

Holy Dip:- All the ancient cities of India are situated on the banks of rivers. This is because of the ease of transportation. Varanasi is no exception to this. The city of Varanasi is situated on the bank of the holy Ganges. There is a very ancient tradition of bathing in the Ganges river in the city of Varanasi. This tradition of getting up early in the morning and bathing in the Ganges continues even today. The day of an ordinary citizen of Banaras(BANARSI) begins with bathing in the Ganges. Hindus from all over the world come to Varanasi to take a holy dip in the Ganges. After taking a holy dip in the Ganges, the Ganges water is offered to Lord Shiva in temples. It feels amazing to be a part of this thousands of years old tradition. Hindus also have a tradition of burning the dead body . After burning the dead body, the ashes are flown into the holy rivers. Hindus from all corners of the world come to Varanasi to immerse the ashes of their beloved in the Ganges. In Hinduism, kindness to living beings is of great importance. After a holy bath in the Ganges, giving food to birds, monkeys, cows, dogs, is a common practice. There are also many Akhadas (Gymnasium) on the banks of the Ganges. Many youths go to these Akhadas to do exercise after taking a holy dip in the Ganges. You can understand what are the thoughts of the Indian people on any subject by simply visiting Varanasi, in other words it is a good place to feel the pulse of India. So much diversity and similarity is rarely seen anywhere else. Other than Varanasi, such a view can also be seen in Mahakumbh, but Mahakumbh holy bath is organized once in twelve years. For me, taking a holy dip in the Ganges has always been about feeling connected to my ancestors. I am only a link in the journey of life since eternity. The ashes of ancestors are contained in the Ganges. An inexhaustible link – from the past to the future, in the present I am part of this link. Sadhu, Sanyasi, Grihasta, old , young , woman, man, White, Brown South-Indian, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Bengali all at one place. What to say about the difference in language and clothing? A mini version of the country, and a wonderful experience.

There are about eighty-four ghats in Varanasi. Each has its own importance and history. The stairs of the ghat made of sandstone, every building is a completely different feeling. If one is not a native of Varanasi then it will be a very strange experience. Sandal paste on the forehead after the holy bath, Roli’s tika makes the bathing process complete. There is nothing to worry about the means of transportation in the morning. Means of transport are available in the morning from any corner of the city. Varanasi city wakes up in the morning. If you start the day with a cup of tea, or do yoga in the morning, then the experience is even better. There are many tea shops on the Ghat. Foreigners can also be seen doing yoga on the Ghats.

The marvelous beauty of the Ghats by boating


Boating

I love the area where the holy river Ganges flows in Varanasi. (SHIV Matsya Purana)

A panoramic view of the Ghats of Varanasi can be seen from a boat. The Ghats of Varanasi are like a painting on a huge canvas, in which time has filled innumerable colors. Boating is the only way to experience this huge painting and the colors of the times. By the way, for the best experience, one should travel from Assi Ghat to RajGhat. Boats are accessible at every Ghat. The boatmen have a general knowledge of the history of the Ghat, the most fun is to hear the stories related to the Ghats from these boatmen. In these stories, history, imagination, experiences passed down from generations, the art of telling stories that are now fading away can be seen. Google does not give information every time .If a particular jetty is preferred, these boatmen also stop the boat on the shore for a while at that Ghat on request. Many religious rituals of Hindus are also performed by boatmen, for this reason they also have good knowledge of religious customs. If someone knows how to row a boat, then by requesting them, he can row the boat himself. By the way, how hard or how easy it is to row a boat, everyone should row the boat at least five minutes to understand this. . Smaller boats are fine for one or two people, larger boats for a group. Boats are available for hire on time. If you want to listen to the sound of water with peace, and get acquainted with history, then a small boat is better. A bigger boat is better if you want to be a part of the enthusiasm of an energetic religious crowd. If you have time, try to be a part of both. Although rowing can be done at any time, but early morning is the best time.

GHAT

Going from one Ghat to another is like entering from one time block to another.

The city illumines the truth and reveals reality. It does not bring new wonders into the scope of vision, but enables one to see what is already there. Where this eternal light intersects the earth, it is known as Kashi”(Varanasi). (Diana L. Eck)

Just like the aroma of a delicious dish, Its color increases the desire to taste that dish manifold, but can never give the taste of that dish. The only way to taste the food is to taste it. Same is the case with the Ghats of Varanasi, The beauty of the Ghats of Varanasi can be seen by boating, but to feel it from the heart, it is necessary to spend time at the Ghat. Each Ghat is like a page of history, and the history of India passes through Banaras itself. All Ghats in Varanasi have their own importance, and it is not possible to write all about them here. For a bit more information, I would like to mention something here based on my experience.

ASSI GHAT :-Spiritual Paradise or Spiritual Disneyland ?

Assi Ghat:- According to mythological legends, the city got its name due to its settlement in the middle of rivers named Varuna and Assi. For this reason the city is known as Varanasi. At present Assi Ghat is very famous among foreigners. There are many exotic cuisine restaurants around the Ghat. All types of restaurants can be found here Italian, Spanish, French. Large numbers of foreigners visit Assi Ghat sometimes to feel the transformation of Assi Ghat into a Spiritual Disneyland . (I came to know this word from a French woman, she is very much influenced by Hindu religion and culture and has been living here for thirty years. She was angry with the present generation, both Indian and foreigners. She believes that the present generation is adopting yoga and spirituality as a fashion, as a fun, without being familiar with its basic meaning. By the way, every old generation generally has such complaints from the new generation.


VARANASI CITY OF SHIVA AND RAM

Tulsi Ghat: The culture of India cannot be imagined without Ram. Ramcharit Manas was composed by Tulsi Das on this Ghat. This was the composition of Tulsidas ji in the vernacular language of the Hindu religious text Ramayana. This was the time when the temples of Varanasi were being demolished by the Muslim imperialists, invaders. In order to instill confidence in the defeated Hindus again, Tulsidas started (RAMLEELA) based on the life of the most sacred character of the Hindus – Ram. Soon this RAMLEELA became popular . (Ramlila had an incomparable contribution in preserving the traditions and culture of Hinduism)Even today. It was Tulsi Das ji’s unique talent that after the destruction of Hindu temples, he converted every Hindu heart into a Hindu temple. There is no village or city in the whole India, especially in North India, where Ramlila is not staged during Dussehra. Tulsidas ji died here in 1623. The items used by Tulsi Das in his life are also stored here. For more information about this subject please visit :- https://nithinks.com/2019/10/07/islamic-imperialism-breaking-of-idols-hindu-struggle-past-present/

RAJA RAMCHANDRA KI JAI

The whole earth is the Sepulchre of famous men. They are Honoured not only by columns and inscriptions in their own land, but in foreign nations on memorials graven not on stone but in the hearts and minds of men .Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 404 BCE.

SHIVALA BHAVAN NOW KNOWN AS CHET SINGH OR CHAIT SINGH GHAT

Chet Singh Ghat

The history which could have been written on 15th august 1781 was then written years later on 15th august 1947.

SHIVALA BHAVAN NOW KNOWN AS CHET SINGH OR CHAIT SINGH GHAT On the banks of the Ganges, Shivala Bhavan, now known as Chet Singh Ghat, the Maharaja of Benares was arrested and detained here by order of Warren Hastings. The disobedience of Maharaj by the soldiers of Warren Hastings provoked the soldiers of Maharaj’s army and then the people also joined the soldiers of Maharaj. The “Benares Rebellion” could not leave a significant mark in its history due to lack of vision and inability to take decisions in the King of Banares. In order to shed light on this incident and its importance, I have made the basis of the letters of The British officers of that time, their statements, Buildings and ruins connected with this incident in and around Benares. Sampurna Nand He were a great educationist and was also the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the Governor of Rajasthan. (His great-grandfather Sadanand ji was the divan of King Chet Singh.)

“If Chet Singh had not run away at this time and would have attacked the garden of Madhodas, I would surely have been killed and thus rebellion would have spread all around”. Warren Hasting.

By the way, India’s first war of independence is considered to be 1857, and history does not give any place to it if it happens. But why the Varanasi Raja of Chet Singh Ghat and the East India Company struggle could not become a freedom struggle? This has definitely become a bitter lesson in history. This ghat is a witness to this even today that if the leadership becomes unconscious, then the public should take a decision with their own conscience. For more information about this subject please visit :- https://nithinks.com/2020/08/14/benares-rebellion-15august-1781/

RAJA HARISHCHANDRA STORY

Sita is typical of India— the idealized India. The question is not whether she ever lived, whether the story is history or not, we know that the ideal is there.

HARISHCHANDRA GHAT :- There are two ghats in Varanasi for the cremation of dead persons. Harishchandra and Manikarnika. Both the very ancient Ghats have their own importance. According to the Hindu scriptures, King Harishchandra was the ancestor of Lord Rama. This place was named Harishchandra after his name. There is hardly any other such story of truth, sacrifice and patience than this one mentioned below.

Harishchandra was the king of Ayodhya. Once Harishchandra saw a dream while he was sleeping that he has donated his kingdom to a sage Vishwamitra. Later the king forgot about this dream, after a few days Vishwamitra came to the king’s court and reminded the king about his dream. The king is always a symbol of justice. Harishchandra had a strong belief that the king should always set an exemplary example before the subjects, so he immediately left the kingdom, and gave the entire kingdom to the sage Vishwamitra. But Vishwamitra was not pleased even by this. And demanded Gurudakshina from the king. There was nothing left to give to the helpless king, he asked Vishwamitra for some time, and left his kingdom with his wife and son and went to Kashi. Here Harishchandra did not get work anywhere, as a result the king got the job of an assistant helping in the cremation of dead persons in a shamsan. The king’s wife started working as a maidservant with a moneylender. Once the king’s son Rohitasva was bitten by a snake, due to which he died. The queen took the body of her son and came to Shamasan Ghat for the last funeral. The husband of the queen( Harishchandra ) , who was working as an assistant in the funeral rites of the dead at the shamsan ghat, was deeply saddened to see the death of his son and the condition of the queen, but demanded the tax that was levied on burning the dead body. The queen said that I had nothing to pay in the form of tax, on which the king said that “He cannot allow the body to be burnt without tax, because it will violate the orders of their master”. The king told the queen that she should tear off a part of the sari she was wearing and pay it as tax. The poor queen had no other option, as a result, she tore the sari from the edge and wanted to pay the tax to the king. Suddenly sage Vishwamitra appeared.
Sage Vishwamitra returned life to the king’s son Rohitashva. The sage told King Harishchandra that he wanted to see to what extent the king was successful in following the truth. While returning the king’s kingdom, he called him a Godlike king.
This story inspired many people. Referring to a incident in his biography( The story of my experiments with truth) Mahatma Gandhi has told that in childhood, the story of King Harishchandra left an indelible impression on him, according to Mahatma Gandhi, he used to get emotional after remembering this story.

Dashashwamedh:- is also one of the most famous Ghats of Varanasi. It is estimated that in the second century AD, the famous Bhavashiva kings defeated the Kushanas and after performing Ten Ashvamedha sacrifices, took a bath here, due to which it was named Dashashvamedha. For some years, a grand ceremony of Ganga Aarti is organized here, in recent times a huge crowd gathers to see this aarti. Aarti of Dashaswamedh in the evening at the Ghats is the main attraction of Varanasi.
The electrification of the ghats at night gives a mesmerizing view, the beauty of the ghats, and the aartis are a sight to behold. It is my belief that there is a different fun in visiting the Ghat in the evening and at night, but the soul of Varanasi can be felt only in the morning.

THE LAST VOYAGE BENARES (VARANASI)
LAST JOURNEY (1883)
Edwin Lord American painter,
known for his paintings on eastern countries. A dead man is being taken by boat to Manikarnika for the last rites. In my opinion this is the best painting of Manikarnika ghat that was ever made, amazing color coordination, no effect of time, as if it is not a painting but a live telecast of Manikarnika on television. Wonderful. Even today a hand driven fan made of palm leaves is found in every house of Varanasi.
There has been no change in Manikarnika Ghat and the surrounding buildings even today. Even today in Varanasi similar clothes of sadhus, sacred saffron color of Hindus, boats are the hallmark of the Ghats of Banaras, even today these umbrellas (CANOPY) CHATRI(bamboo and palm leaf umbrella
) are used in the same way. everything still exists today.

CANOPY, CHATRI(bamboo and palm leaf umbrella)

MANIKARNIKA :- Undoubtedly Manikarnika is the greatest Samasan . It is believed that once Shiva and Parvati came here to bath. After taking a bath, Mata Parvati came to know that while taking bath, her earrings(karnphool) have fallen here, since then the place was named Manikarnika. This place has been considered very sacred among the Hindus.
Lakshmibai, (RANI OF JHANSI .INDIA’S WARRIOR QUEEN) born in Varanasi, was named Manikarnika after this place. (Her nick name was Manu for the same reason) . It is very difficult to predict when the practice of burning bodies on Manikarnika started. It is believed that the burning of dead bodies never stops here. Burning of dead bodies has continued here for thousands of years. In Hinduism, birth and death are considered to be a cycle of life, for this reason there is such a belief about Manikarnika that —- here, the stopping of dead cremation for any reason is a sign of destruction of creation. The death of the person born is certain, this is the absolute truth. Death as a celebration – the same philosophy is hidden in the Holi of Masan. Death is seen as a celebration in Manikarnika. For detailed information on this topic please visit :- https://nithinks.com/2021/03/26/rangbhari-ekadsi-masan-holiashes-of-dead-persons/

A woman selling vegetables in the street leading to the Ghat

PANCH -GANGA GHAT (BINDU MADHAV)

PANCH GANGA GHAT :-

Schools should introduce one more, very important, subject- The History of labor, the brilliant and tragic history of man’s struggle with the natural world, the history of his discoveries and inventions, his victories and triumphs over the forces of nature.” And a little later he wrote: “I believe very strongly in miracles made by the intelligence and imagination of man; I know no other miracles.” (MAXIM GORKY)

Panch-Ganga is among the five major and oldest Ghats of Varanasi. Hindus believe that Panch-Ganga Ghat is situated at the confluence of five holy rivers.

(YATHA, KIRNA, DHUTPAPA, SARASWATI, GANGA & YAMUNA) There was also a custom of drinking Ganges water here by the newly married couple after marriage. This is like a European practice of drinking hypocross, or musket. Its ancient name was Bindumadhav Ghat. This Ghat got its name from the ancient temple of Bindumadhav (Lord Vishnu). In the seventeenth century, this ancient temple was demolished by the Islamic ruler Aurangzeb, and a mosque was built from the rubble of that ancient temple. Since then the name of this place became Panch Ganga in place of Bindumadhav.With the tradition of bathing in the holy river on special occasions, and with such small habits, did our ancestors manage to save their religion! Could we save our religion only with the help of our culture! Who were those people who not only kept their traditions alive even after the destruction of their temples, idols of Gods but also defeated foreign invaders? For more information about this subject please visit :- https://nithinks.com/2021/01/18/makar-sankranti-is-an-ancient-hindu-festival-or-the-burden-of-old-tradition/

He purged by his sword the land of Hind from the filth of infidelity… and the impurity of idol-worship, and left not one temple standing… When he arrived at Mirat [Meerut] all the idol temples were converted into mosques. He then marched and encamped under the fort of Delhi. The city and its vicinity were freed from idols and idol-worship, and in the sanctuaries, mosques were raised by the worshippers of one God. The royal army proceeded towards Benares,(Varanasi) which is the centre of the country of Hind, and here they destroyed nearly one thousand temples. (Sadruddin Muhammad Hasan Nizami)

RAJ GHAT :-The crossroad of history (meeting center of different periods)

RAJ GHAT:- Almost all the great historians are of the opinion that ancient Varanasi city was near Rajghat. Near Rajghat, the Varuna River meets with the Ganges River, due to this river, the city got its name Varanasi. And in ancient times This river got its name due to the Varan (a species of trees) The river Varanavati is mentioned in the Atharva Veda.( period:-1000-900BCE) . Many historians, archaeologists have estimated from the material obtained from the excavation of Rajghat that the ancient Varanasi city existed in 11th or 12 century BC. At present there is also an important bridge built during the British era, at present it is known as Malviya bridge . During British rule it was called Dufferin Bridge. Built over the Ganges on the Grand Trunk Road from Dhaka to Peshawar. This route is the oldest and longest-distance route in South Asia. In ancient times it was known as Uttar Marg, Sadak -e -Azam Road in Mughal era, and Grand Trunk Road in British period. About one kilometer from the Rajghat bridge is the confluence of the Varuna and Ganga rivers. From Rajghat towards Varuna-Ganga Sangam one has to go through the educational institutions of Krishnamurti Foundation. This is a beautiful road. Magnificent buildings of educational institutions and covered with giant trees. The area of ​​confluence comes as soon as the chain of educational institutions and giant trees ends. The entire area covered by trees in this area gives a magical feel. If you leave the slopes of the Sangam and go straight, you will have to cross a small culvert and meet another historical ancient route — Panchkoshi Marg. The confluence of holy rivers is always considered a sacred place in Hinduism. The oldest temples of Hindus are built at the confluence of such rivers. There is also an ancient temple here which is known as Adikeshav. It is difficult to say when this temple came into existence.

ADIKESHAV

The temple is mentioned in the copper plates of the Gahadavalas who ruled Varanasi from the eighth to the eleventh century. Similarly, at the holy confluence of Ganga-Gomti, there is an ancient temple of Markandeya Mahadev in Varanasi. The mention of this temple is also found in the holy book of Hindus Mahabharata. For more information about this subject please visit :-https://nithinks.com/2021/03/14/mahashivratrishiv-barat-and-varanasi/ When the Adi Keshav temple would have been built can only be predicted. All the major temples of Banaras were demolished in 1193-1194. Paganism is a crime in Islam. Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khan got the right to demolish and plunder the worship house of Hindus, Buddhists from the Gangetic plain, he accomplished this with complete cruelty. This temple was rebuilt in 1807 by Sindhia of Gwalior. Now there is a sense of reverence in this holy temple but nothing is left from the point of view of art. No tyrant can take away the feeling of faith. For more information about this subject please visit :-https://nithinks.com/2021/03/10/dawn-of-civilization-and-shiva-shiva-ganga-varanasi/ Assi Ghat presents a global image, of a changing India, or of the globalization of the world. Tulsi Das, Benimadhav, and Adi Keshav are witnesses to the struggle of Hindus against imperialism, Chet Singh Ghat is a living example of the importance of leadership, while Dashaswamedh, Harishchandra, and Manikarnika are living symbols of Hindu values ​​for thousands of years.

LIGHT OF ASIA

SARANATH :- Varanasi, is also called KASHI(ONE OF THE OLD NAME). The word Kashi has its origin from the word Kash. Its means light. Here light does not mean just light. Light here means “Light of knowledge”. Nalanda, Taxila, and Varanasi were the major centers of education in ancient times. After attaining enlightenment, Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon here in Sarnath. In human history, this teaching is known as the Dharma Chakra Pravartan.OR “TURNING OF THE WHEEL OF THE MORAL LAW” By the time of Gautam Buddha, Varanasi had lost its glory to a great extent. But till then Varanasi was so glorified, and Varanasi had the pride of being the capital of all-knowledge that Gautam Buddha chose this city for the first sermon. Like King Harishchandra, Gautam Buddha was also a Kshatriya king. With his teachings, Gautam Buddha made Hinduism more acceptable, and versatile. Opposed the increasing rituals in Hinduism, and laid great emphasis on the concept of non-violence of Hinduism. Western historians have told Buddhism to be separate from Hinduism, there is no basis for this. In India, where Hindus have a God like reverence for Gautam Buddha, Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Korea and the countries of South East Asia accept the teachings of Gautam Buddha as a great master. Many teachings of Hinduism have been carried over to Buddhism.

“Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered is unhappy”. “You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself.”

“As I am, so are these.
As are these, so am I.’
Drawing the parallel to yourself,
neither kill nor get others to kill”

THE ASHOKA LION CAPITAL OF SARANATH

The Ashoka emblem is the national emblem of India. It has been taken from the Ashoka Lot found in Sarnath. It has four lions standing facing all the four directions. The Dhamma Chakra was built on these four lions, which was found in many pieces in the excavation. These four lions are standing on a solid base. There are four animals on this circular base. Each of these four animals has its place as a symbol of Buddhism: the lion represents Sakyasimha, lion of the Sakya clan, with the voice of a lion; the elephant signifies Sakyamuni entering the womb of his mother Mayadevi in her dream, but also Sakyamuni as the tamer of wild elephants; the horse, besides being a symbol of temporal royalty, is the vehicle that carried Prince Siddhartha on his journey of renunciation; finally, the bull is the great inseminator, here symbolising the Buddha’s teaching, the Dharma. The horse and elephant together support the Wheel-turning Monarch In the center is the Dhammachakra. (ASHOK THE SEARCH FOR INDIA’S LOST EMPEROR.page 334.335) This twenty four spoked wheel is situated in the middle of the national flag of India. Presently this Ashoka’s lot is preserved in the museum of Sarnath. Probably this is India’s first onsite museum.

In this post I have explained Varanasi on the basis of my experience. Every person has a different point of view. I tried to introduce people to some facts of this ancient city, and important events of Indian history. Varanasi is a wonderful city — full of contradictions, with many opinions, ideologies. This diversity gives it the status of eternal city. At present there is hardly any country whose residents do not reside here. The history of Varanasi gives a glimpse of the history of the entire culture of India. My view is that History is not just a lifeless structure of dry events, in this we can see the reactions of the society and religious expressions also completely, and Varanasi is a wonderful work (kriti)of this subject. For more information about this subject please visit:- https://nithinks.com/2019/12/31/oldest-living-city-happy-new-year/