Sacred Rivers in Bharat & Shiva Purana
Rivers are vital for economic growth and development. Rivers provide water for irrigation, domestic supply, power generation and industry as well as a range of other ecosystem services and intrinsic and biodiversity values. Now, rivers in India are gradually becoming important for transportation as waterways are cheaper than other modes. The ancient civilizations in India, China, Egypt and Mesopotamia have flourished due to large rivers. Harrapan & Mohenjo-Daro civilizations flourished on the banks of Sindhi river.
Sacredness of Saptanadi:
In Hinduism, rivers are sacred. The most significant rivers are the Saptanadi: the Ganges, Yamuna, Sindhu, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri which are originated from Gangotri glacier Uttarakhand, Yamunotri glacier Uttarakhand, western Tibet, Amarkantak MP, Nashik Maharashtra, Satara district Maharashtra and Kodagi Karnataka respectively. Most rivers in Bharat are represented as female deities. A galaxy of saints & seers either meditated or built great institutions of spiritual research and teachings on their embankments.
On the banks of these rivers, several sacred cities have flourished. Great cities like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Prayagraj and Varanasi were built on the banks of Ganges; Mathura & Prayagraj on the banks of Yamuna; Amarkantak, Omkareshwar & Maheshwar on the banks of Narmada, Nashik & Rajmundry on the banks of Godavari, Srisailam on the banks of Krishna and Tiruchirappalli on the banks of Kaveri.
The Vedas and Puranas mention Ganges as most sacred river. Ganga is perceived as mokshdayini and associated with Shiva. Yamuna is blue like Krishna. Like him, she represents romance (Shringar). The legendary Saraswati, white and elegant like a swan, is now extinct and is called the river of knowledge (Vidya), being associated with Brahma, the creator of the universe. The dark and elusive Narmada is often referred to as the virgin river associated with the quality of detachment and surrender (Vairagya). The Godavari is the saffron river of devotion (Bhakti), sanctified by the presence of Ram, Sita and Lakshman, who spent much of their exile years from Ayodhya in the forests along the river. Kaveri, the silvery river of wisdom (Gyan). The Krishna River represents courage and valour (Shourya).
Holiness of Rivers as per Shiva Purana:
In Chapter 12, shlokas 5-43, Vidhyeshwara Samhita (first Samhita) of Shiva Purana, the importance of holiness of Indian rivers has been highlighted as under:
There was no idol worship during Vedic period. Agnihotra or Yajna were performed. In Yajna, God is worshiped by honouring fire and fire is the vehicle that takes the request to God. However, Vedas contain hymns (mantras) to worship deities who number around 33 koti including Indra, Agni, Varuna, surya, vaayu, Vishnu and Rudra (later became Shiva). Idol worship is the extension of Yagna which is allowed in Vedas. Earlier Hindus used to worship cave temples so there was no need to construct temples. The earliest example of this kind was a cave temple that was built in around 400 B.C. at Bhaje containing images of learned Parasurama with Indra and Surya.
Later, worship of Kubera, Rama, Kesava, Krsna, Vishnu, Mata and Shiva started. This led to image worshipping and building of temples. Hindu Temples are spread over entire Indian sub-continent. Many temples date back to thousands of years. Sri Adi Shankaracharya (8th century) - He went on to connect holy spots of India such as the 12 jyotirlingas, 18 shakti-peethas and four Vishnu-dhams to create pilgrim routes that defined India as a single land.
A large number of ancient temples are found in southern and Far East countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is interesting to know that Hindu temples are spread over now in over 43 countries.
Indian Express dated November 26, 2019 reported, A total 651 Hindu temples in India are designated as Centrally Protected Monuments under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The largest number of Hindu temples under the ASI’s protection is in Karnataka, followed by Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh (Karnataka – 149, Tamil Nadu – 111, Madhya Pradesh – 96, Andhra Pradesh – 91, Maharashtra – 41, Kerala – 39, Rajasthan – 30, Uttar Pradesh – 24, Gujarat – 16, Odisha - 15, Bihar - 8, J & K – 8, Himachal Pradesh – 6, Chhattisgarh – 5, Uttarakhand - 5, Haryana – 2, West Bengal – 2, Delhi – 1, Goa – 1 and Jharkhand -1. (Source: Lok Sabha question)
Archaeological findings of temples date back to thousands of years. A few evidences of old temples are mentioned hereunder to highlight the grand heritage of oldest religion:
Popular Hindu Temples constructed before the birth of Buddhism & Christianity:
Popular Hindu Temples constructed before the birth of Islam:
Popular Temples constructed prior to Islamic invasion in India:
the Mahabharata .
Popular Temples in Hindustan
Hindu Temples are spread over entire Indian sub-continent. Many temples date back to thousands of years. A large number of ancient temples are found in southern and Far East countries such as Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
It is interesting to know that Hindu temples are spread over now in over 43 countries viz. Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Botswana, Myanmar, Cambodia, Canada, Fiji Islands, Ghana, Germany, Guyana, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kenya, Kingdom of Bahrain, Japan, Laos, Republic of Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Nigeria, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sultanate of Oman, Suriname, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam etc.
A Hindu temple is meant to encourage reflection, facilitate purification of one’s mind, and trigger the process of inner realization within the devotee.
There is large number of temples all over India, only a few temples, state-wise are mentioned below:
Teerath or Pilgrimage in Hinduism & Divinity
Hindustan is birth place of many religions such as Snatana Dharma including its many sacts, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. It is a general belief that a journey to pilgrim locations will wash away one’s sins and one can attain moksha. Pilgrimage includes both inward as well outward journeys. Even thought of travelling to pilgrim locations brings positive change in state of mind. During travel to teeraths, one gets close connection on constant chanting of name or mantra of the deity to be visited mentally, doing charity, listening the praise of the deity and avoiding Kama Vasana, Krodha, Lobha, Madsara, Ahankara, Amanavta, Anyaaya, Adamber, Swartha etc. negative impulses.
The Sanskrit word tirtha means river ford, steps to a river, or place of pilgrimage. The ancient notion of pilgrimage tour symbolizes the sacred place where one experience spiritual force, the route to the sacred place and a water body to take holy dip. Such places are sacred mostly due to divine happening historically. Teerath are the places where sages and siddhas have performed Sadhna. These places are the great spiritual and the tenacity: the renewable centers of power.
Adi Shankara, the great Hindu philosopher & reviver of Hinduism in 8th century, is credited with unifying Bharat. He established Char Dhams in four directions and four mathas in those four places. Pashu Pati Nath in Nepal was also re-established by him.
The most popular Teerath Yatras are as under:
Hanuman ji is one of the most revered deities in modern times as he is soon pleased by devotees. He is symbol of the all types of strengths including intelligence, volition, devotion and physical power. Hanuman has many names like Maruti, Anjaneya, Pavanasuta, Bajrang Bali, Manojavam, Marutatulyavegam, Vatatmajam, Vanarayuthamukhyam, Shreeramdutam, Raghupati Priya Bhaktam, Sankat Mochan, etc. As temples of Hanuman ji is built across entire Bharat, he is symbol of nationalism.
A few famous temples of Hanuman ji are mentioned below:
Hanuman Garhi temple, Ayodhya, UP:
Sankat Mochan temple, on the banks of the Assi river, Varanasi, UP:
Bade Hanuman Temple, Prayagraj, UP.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, near Gomti River, Lucknow:
Jakhu temple on Jakhu Hill, Shimla's highest peak in HP:
Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place, New Delhi,
Mahavir Mandir or Patna, Bihar, India,
Ultey Hanuman ji Mandir Indore, MP.
It is believed that this was the place from where Hanuman went to Patal Lok. At that time, Hanuman ji's feet were toward the sky and towards the Mother Earth, due to which their reverse form is worshiped.
Hanuman Dhara Temple, Chitrakoot, MP.
Salasar Balaji on NH-65 near Sujangarh in Churu district, Rajasthan:
Mehandipur Balaji Mandir, Dausa district of Rajasthan:
Sri Hanuman Temple, Sarangpur, Jamnagar, Gujarat:
Paritala Anjaneya Temple, on NH-9, Vijaywada, Andhra Pradesh:
Ragigudda Anjaneya temple, Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Namakkal Anjaneyar Temple in Nakakhal, Tamil Nadu.
Ashtamsa Varadha Anjaneyar Temple, Tamil Nadu:
Panchmukh Aanjanayar Swami Ji Kumbhkonam, Tamil Nadu:
Five-faced form of Hanuman is now known as Panchamukhi. Five heads are that of Hayagriva, Narasimha, Hanuman, Varaha and Garuda. Every Face of Sri Panchamukha Hanuman has significance — Sri Hanuman faces east. He grants purity of mind and success. The Narasimha faces south. He grants victory and fearlessness. The west facing Garuda removes black magic and poisons. The north facing Varaha, showers prosperity, wealth. The Hayagriva mukha faces the Sky. He gives Knowledge and good children. Out of these, Hayagriva, Narasimha and Varaha are incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Hence, Panchmukhi Hanuman is also known as the combined avatar of Lord Vishnu and Lord Hanuman.
Alathiyur Hanuman Temple, near Tirur, Malappuram district, Kerala:
According to local myths, the "Purumthrikkovil idol" of the deity Hanuman was consecrated 3000 years ago by Vasistha, one of the Saptarishis.
Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Mount Madonna Center in the USA
Ancient Hindu Temples are the place that contains pure vibrations of magnetic and electric fields with positive energy. These temples are basically charging stations where the visitors enters into meditative state and human chakras (energy centres) are activated. A Hindu temple is meant to encourage reflection, facilitate purification of one’s mind, and trigger the process of inner realization within the devotee.
Hindu temples come in many styles, are situated in diverse locations, deploy different construction methods and are adapted to different deities and regional beliefs, yet almost all of them share certain core ideas, symbolism and themes.
The selection of location, design, purpose and significance of ancient Hindu temples are explained briefly hereunder.
What is the significance of Temples
1. It is a link between man, deities, and the Universal Purusa in a sacred space.
2. A temple is a miniature cosmos comprised of the five elements and a presiding deity.
3. Most ancient temples were created to address a particular aspect of life, and were thus consecrated to activate one or two particular chakras, the main energy centres within the human system. There are thousands of temples all over India in different size, shape and locations but not all of them are considered to be built the Vedic way.
What are the aspects of Temples
1. Temples were designed to be spaces where the mind spontaneously moves within and meditation happens effortlessly.
2. Far from being a place of prayer or worship, temples were created as powerful spaces where an individual could imbibe the enshrined energies. When people go to a temple for evening Aartis and when the doors open up, the positive energy gushes out onto everyone present there.
3. The lamp that is lit radiates heat energy and also provides light inside the sanctum to the priests.
4. The ringing of the bells and the chanting of prayers takes a worshipper into trance, thus not letting his mind waver. When done in groups, this helps people forget personal problems for a while and relieve their stress.
A Temple bell is another scientific phenomena; it is not just your ordinary metal. It is made of various metals including cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, nickel, chromium and. manganese. The proportion at which each one of them mixed is real science behind a bell. Each of these bells is made to produce such a distinct sound that it can create unity of your left and right brain. The moment you ring that bell, bell produces sharp but lasting sound which lasts for minimum of seven seconds in echo mode good enough to touch your seven healing centres or chakras in your body. The moment bell sound happens your brain is emptied of all thoughts.
5. The fragrance from the flowers and the burning of camphor give out the chemical energy that creates a good aura. The effect of all these energies is supplemented by the positive energy from the idol, the copper plates and the utensils used while worshiping the God.
6. Ancient temples were built in such a way that the floor at the centre of the temple were good conductors of the positive vibrations allowing them to pass through our feet to the body. Hence it is necessary to walk bare footed while you enter the core centre of the temple.
7. The idol inside the chamber absorbs all the energy from the bell sound, camphor heat and vibrates the positive energy within the chamber for certain duration of time. When you do the circumambulation at this point of time, you tend to absorb all these positive vibrations once your five senses are activated.
Where ancient Temples are built
1. Ancient Temples are located strategically at a place where the positive energy is abundantly available from the magnetic and electric wave distributions of north/south pole thrust.
Why Hindu visits the Temples
In Bhagwat Gita, Shree Krishna declared as under:
“chatur-vidha bhajante mam, janah sukritino’rjuna
arto jijnasur artharthi, jnani cha bharatarsabha”
How the Temples are designed
Popular ancient Temples of Shree Vishnu & its Avatars
During medieval period, Adi Shankaraacharya, Sri Ramanujacharaya, Sri Nimbarkacharaya and Sri Madhvacharaya were conferred title of Jagat guru as they defeated all others based on knowledge and logic. Jagat gurus re-established the Sanatan Dharma and established glory of various temples across India.
Thousands of temples all over India are dedicated to Shree Vishnu and his avatars, Shree Rama, Shree Krishna & Shree Narasimha.
Adi Shankaracharya during his travels across the length and breadth of India established (about 700 AD) in four different corners of India places of pilgrimage viz. Puri, Rameswaram, Dwarka and Badrinath and maths (ashrams at Sringeri, Sarda math – at Dwarka, Jyotir math – at Badrinath and Goverdhan math - Puri), school of Hinduism, to unify the scattered and diverse groups of Sannyasis and preserving four vedas.
Jagatguru Ramanujacharya consecrated Shree Govindrajaswamy Temple, Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh in the year 1130 AD. Shri Gopal Singhji Bhati chief of Khejarli and Shri Sheoji founded Nimbark Peeth and temple of Sarweshwar Prabhu on behest of Jagatguru Nimarkacharya at Salemabad, Ajmer. Jagadguru Shri Madhwacharya, in the 13th century founded Shree Krishna Temple in Udupi, Karnataka. Shree Dwarkadhish temple (Mathura, UP) management is under the followers of Vallabhacharya.
Bankey Bihari Temple in Vrindavan, UP was established by Swami Haridas, guru of the famous singer Tansen.
Details of locations of select popular temples of Shree Vishnu and its avatars, construction done by, its significance and popular events are mentioned hereinafter.
Pictures pasted below:
1. Row L to R - First two pictures of Shree Badrinarayan Temple; Uttrakhand; Bankey Bihari Temple
2. Row L to R - Chennakesawa, Belur; Shree Ranchodrai Temple, Dakor, Gujarat;
Dwarkadhish Krishna Temple, Dwarka Gujarat
3. Row L to R - Dwarkadhish Krishna Temple, Dwarka Gujarat; Shree Govindrajswamy Temple, Tirupati AP;
Shree Krisanjanambhoomi, Mathura
4. Row L to R - Shree Krishna Temple Udup, Karnataka; Lord Ayyappan Temple, Sabrimala, Kerala;
Shree Dwarkadhish Temple, Mathura, UP
5. Row L to R - Shree Rangnathswamy Temple, Mysore, Karnataka; Shree Parthasarthi Temple, Chennai TN;
Shree Jagannath Puri, Orissa
6. Row L to R - Shri Rameshwaram Temple, Tamil Nadu; 2 & 3 - Shabrimala, Kerala
7. Row L to R - Shabrimala, Kerala; Shree Narasimha Temple, Nalgonda, Telangana;
Shree Ram janambhoomi, Ayodhaya, UP
8. Row L to R - Shree Krishna Temple Shamlaji, Gujarat; Shri Nathdwara, Rajasthan;
Shri Ram Temple Thiruporiyar, Kerala
9. Row L to R - All three pictures of Tirupati Balaji Temple at Tirumala, AP
10 Row L to R - Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple Trivandrum, Kerala; Shree Guruvayur Krishna Temple, Kerala
Shiv Dhams and their significance :
The details of 12 jyotirmaylinga are as under: