Anasuya is generally quoted as the model of chastity. She was the wife of Atri Maharishi, a great sage and one of the Sapta Rishis. She was well established in Pativrata Dharma.
She served her husband with intense devotion. She did severe Tapas for a very long time in order to beget sons equal to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
Once Narada took a small ball of iron—the size of a gram-grain—to Sarasvati and said to her, “O Sarasvati Devi! Please fry this iron ball. I will eat this iron-ball-gram during my travel”. Sarasvati laughed and said, “O Rishi Narada! How can this iron ball be fried? How can this be eaten?”. Narada afterwards went to Mahalakshmi and Parvati and requested them to fry the iron ball. They also laughed at Narada Rishi. Then Narada said, “O Devis! See, I will get it fried by Anasuya, wife of Atri Maharishi, a great Pativrata who lives in the earth-plane”.
Then Narada came to Anasuya and requested her to fry the iron-ball-gram. Anasuya put the iron ball in the frying pan, meditated on the form of her husband and put a few drops of water which were used in washing the feet of her husband on the iron ball. The iron ball was at once fried. Narada went to Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati, ate before them the fried iron-ball-gram and gave them also a little of it. He greatly praised the glory of Anasuya and her chastity. Then Narada resolved to fulfil the wish of Anasuya to beget sons equal to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.
Narada said to Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati: “You also could have fried the iron ball, if you all had done service to your husbands with faith, sincerity and devotion. Make a request to your husbands to test Anasuya’s Pativrata Dharma”.
Then Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati requested their husbands to test the Pativrata Dharma of Anasuya, wife of Atri Maharishi, and ask her to give them Nirvana Bhiksha, that is, to give them alms in a naked condition.
The Tri-Murtis, through Jnana-Drishti, came to know of the action of Narada and the Tapas and the wish of Anasuya. They agreed. The Tri-Murtis put on the garb of Sannyasins, appeared before Anasuya and asked her to give them Nirvana Bhiksha. Anasuya was in a great dilemma. She could not say ‘No’ to the Bhikshus. She had to maintain her Pativrata Dharma also. She meditated on the form of her husband, took refuge in his feet and sprinkled over the three Sannyasins a few drops of water which were used for washing the feet of her husband. The Tri-Murtis were converted into three children on account of the glory of the Charanamrita. At the same time, there was accumulation of milk in the breast of Anasuya. She thought that those children were her own children and fed them with the milk in a nude state and put them to the cradle. She was eagerly expecting the arrival of her husband who had gone for taking his bath.
As soon as Atri Rishi came back home, Anasuya related to him all that had happened during his absence, placed the three children at his feet and worshipped him. But Atri knew all this already through his divine vision. He embraced all the three children. The three children became one child with two feet, one trunk, three heads and six hands. Atri Rishi blessed his wife and informed her that the Tri-Murtis themselves had assumed the forms of the three children to gratify her wish.
Narada went to Brahma-Loka, Vaikuntha and Kailasa and informed Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati that their husbands had been turned into children through the power of the Pativrata Dharma of Anasuya when they asked her Nirvana Bhiksha and that they would not return unless the Devis asked for Bhartri Bhiksha (Bhiksha of husband) from Atri. Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati assumed the forms of ordinary women, appeared before Atri and asked for Pati Bhiksha: “O Rishi, kindly give us back our husbands”. Atri Rishi duly honoured the three ladies and with folded hands prayed to them that his wish and the wish of Anasuya should be fulfilled. Then the Tri-Murtis appeared in their true form before Atri and said, “This child will be a great sage according to your word and will be equal to us according to the wish of Anasuya. This child will bear the name of Dattatreya”. Then they disappeared.
Dattatreya attained manhood. As he had the rays of the Tri-Murtis, and as he was a great Jnani, all the Rishis and ascetics worshipped him. He was gentle, peaceful and amiable. He was always followed by a great multitude of people. Dattatreya tried to get rid of them, but his endeavours were all in vain. Once when he was surrounded by many people, he entered a river for bathing and he did not come out of it for three days. He entered into Samadhi inside the water. On the third day, he came out and found that the people were still sitting on the banks of the river awaiting his return. He did not succeed in getting rid of the people by this method.
So Dattatreya adopted another plan. He created a beautiful girl and a bottle of wine out of his Yogic power. He came out of the waters holding the girl in one hand and the bottle of wine in the other. The people thought that Dattatreya had fallen from his Yoga and so they left him and went away.
Dattatreya threw away all his personal possessions, even the scanty clothing he had, and became an Avadhuta. He went out preaching and teaching the truths of Vedanta. Dattatreya taught his Gita, named Avadhuta Gita, to Lord Subrahmanya. This is a most valuable book which contains the truths and secrets of Vedanta and the direct experiences of Self-realisation.
Once, while Dattatreya was roaming in a forest happily, he met king Yadu, who on seeing Dattatreya so happy, asked him the secrets of his happiness and also the name of his Guru. Dattatreya said that the Atma alone was his Guru and yet he had learned wisdom from twenty-four individuals and that they were therefore his Gurus.
Dattatreya then mentioned the names of his twenty-four Gurus and spoke of the wisdom that he had learnt from each.
Dattatreya said: “The names of my twenty-four teachers are:
1. Earth
2. Water
3. Air
4. Fire
5. Sky
6. Moon
7. Sun
8. Pigeon
9. Python
10. Ocean
11. Moth
12. Honey-gatherer
13. Bee
14. Elephant
15. Deer
16. Fish
17. Dancing girl Pingala
18. Raven
19. Child
20. Maiden
21. Serpent
22. Arrow-maker
23. Spider
24. Beetle
1. I have learnt patience and doing good to others from the earth, for it endures every injury that man commits on its surface and yet it does him good by producing crops, trees, etc.
2. From water I have learnt the quality of purity. Just as the pure water cleanses others, so also the sage, who is pure and free from selfishness, lust, egoism, anger, greed, etc., purifies all those who come in contact with him.
3. The air is always moving through various objects, but it never gets attached to anyone of them; so I have learnt from the air to be without attachment, though I move with many people in this world.
4. Just as fire burns bright, so also the sage should be glowing with the splendour of his knowledge and Tapas.
5. The air, the stars, the clouds, etc., are all contained in the sky, but the sky does not come in contact with any of them. I have learnt from the sky that the Atma is all-pervading and yet it has no contact with any object.
6. The moon is in itself always complete, but appears to decrease or increase, on account of the varying shadow of the earth upon the moon. I have learnt from this that the Atma is always perfect and changeless and that it is only the Upadhis or limiting adjuncts that cast shadows upon it.
7. Just as the sun, reflected in various pots of water, appears as so many different reflections, so also, Brahman appears different because of the Upadhis (bodies) caused by its reflection through the mind. This is the lesson I have learnt from the sun.
8. I once saw a pair of pigeons with their young birds. A fowler spread a net and caught the young birds. The mother pigeon was very much attached to her children. She did not care to live, so she fell into the net and was caught. The male pigeon was attached to the female pigeon, so he also fell into the net and was caught. From this I learnt that attachment was the cause of bondage.
9. The python does not move about for its food. It remains contented with whatever it gets and lies in one place. From this I have learnt to be unmindful of food and to be contented with whatever I get to eat (Ajahara Vritti).
10. Just as the ocean remains unmoved even though hundreds of rivers fall into it, so also, the wise man should remain unmoved among all sorts of temptations, difficulties and troubles. This is the lesson I have learnt from the ocean.
11. Just as the moth, being enamoured of the brilliance of the fire, falls into it and is burnt up, so also, a passionate man who falls in love with a beautiful girl comes to grief. To control the sense of sight and to fix the mind on the Self is the lesson I have learnt from the moth.
12. Just as black bee sucks the honey from different flowers and does not suck it from only one flower, so also I take only a little food from one house and a little from another house and thus appease my hunger (Madhukari Bhiksha or Madhukari Vritti). I am not a burden on the householder.
13. Bees collect honey with great trouble, but a hunter comes and takes the honey easily. Even so, people hoard up wealth and other things with great difficulty, but they have to leave them all at once and depart when the Lord of Death takes hold of them. From this I have learnt the lesson that it is useless to hoard things.
14. The male elephant, blinded by lust, falls into a pit covered over with grass, even at the sight of a paper-made female elephant. It gets caught, enchained and tortured by the goad. Even so, passionate men fall in the traps of women and come to grief. Therefore, one should destroy lust. This is the lesson I have learnt from the elephant.
15. The deer is enticed and trapped by the hunter through its love of music. Even so, a man is attracted by the music of women of loose character and brought to destruction. One should never listen to lewd songs. This is the lesson I have learnt from the deer.
16. Just as a fish that is covetous of food falls an easy victim to the bait, so also, the man who is greedy of food, who allows his sense of taste to overpower him, loses his independence and easily gets ruined. The greed for food must therefore be destroyed. It is the lesson that I have learnt from the fish.
17. There was a dancing girl named Pingala in the town of Videha. She was tired of looking out for customers one night. She became hopeless. Then she decided to remain content with what she had and then she had sound sleep. I have learnt from that fallen woman the lesson that the abandonment of hope leads to contentment.
18. A raven picked up a piece of flesh. It was pursued and beaten by other birds. It dropped the piece of flesh and attained peace and rest. From this I have learnt the lesson that a man in the world undergoes all sorts of troubles and miseries when he runs after sensual pleasures and that he becomes as happy as the bird when he abandons the sensual pleasures.
19. The child who sucks milk is free from all cares, worries and anxieties, and is always cheerful. I have learnt the virtue of cheerfulness from the child.
20. The parents of a young girl had gone in search of a proper bridegroom for her. The girl was alone in the house. During the absence of the parents, a party of people came to the house to see her on a similar mission. She received the party herself. She went inside to husk the paddy. While she was husking, the glass bangles on both hands made a tremendous jingling noise. The wise girl reflected thus: “The party will detect, by the noise of the bangles, that I am husking the paddy myself and that my family is too poor to engage others to get the work done. Let me break all my bangles except two on each hand”. Accordingly, she broke all the bangles except two on each hand. Even those two bangles created much noise. She broke one more bangle in each hand. There was no further noise though she continued husking. I have learnt from the girl’s experience the following:—Living among many would create discord, disturbance, dispute and quarrel. Even among two persons, there might be unnecessary words or strife. The ascetic or the Sannyasin should remain alone in solitude.
21. A serpent does not build its hole. It dwells in the holes dug out by others. Even so, an ascetic or a Sannyasin should not build a home for himself He should live in the caves and temples built by others. This is the lesson that I have learnt from the snake.
22. The mind of an arrow-maker was once wholly engrossed in sharpening and straightening an arrow. While he was thus engaged, a king passed before his shop with his whole retinue. After some time, a man came to the artisan and asked him whether the king had passed by his shop. The artisan replied that he had not noticed anything. The fact was that the artisan’s mind had been so solely absorbed in his work that he had not known the king’s passing before his shop. I have learnt from the artisan the quality of intense concentration of mind.
23. The spider pours out of its mouth long threads and weaves them into cobwebs. It gets itself entangled in the net of its own making. Even so, man makes a net of his own ideas and gets entangled in it. The wise man should therefore abandon all worldly thoughts and think of Brahman only. This is the lesson I have learnt from the spider.
24. The Bhringi or the beetle catches hold of a worm, puts it in its nest and gives it a sting. The poor worm, always fearing the return of the beetle and the sting, and thinking constantly of the beetle, becomes a beetle itself. Whatever form a man constantly thinks of, he attains in course of time. As a man thinks, so he becomes. I have learnt from the beetle and the worm to turn myself into Atma by contemplating constantly on It and thus to give up all attachment to the body and attain Moksha or liberation”.
King Yadu was highly impressed by the teachings of Dattatreya. He abandoned the world and practised constant meditation on the Self.
Dattatreya was absolutely free from intolerance or prejudice of any kind. He learnt wisdom from whatever source it came. All seekers after wisdom should follow the example of Dattatreya.

Sage Yajnavalkya


Sri Swami Sivananda

The name of Yajnavalkya of Mithila stands distinguished both in the Srutis and in the Smritis. Yajnavalkya is especially known for his unsurpassed spiritual wisdom and power. The seer of a Veda Samhita from Bhagavan Surya, the revealer of Brahma Jnana to Janaka, Maitreyi and others, Yajnavalkya hails supreme among sages of sacred memory. As to his obtaining the Shukla Yajurveda Samhita from Bhagavan Surya, there is the following history.
Yajnavalkya was the son of the sister of Mahamuni Vaishampayana, the Vedacharya of the Taittiriya section. He was studying the Taittiriya Samhita from Vaishampayana who was also his Guru. Vaishampayana had many other disciples too and they all were students of the Taittiriya Shakha.
Once all the Rishis decided to form an association near the Meru mountain and made a rule that any Rishi who absented himself at the appointed hour should incur the sin of Brahmahatya (the sin of killing a Brahmin) for seven days. On that appointed day fell the Sraddha ceremony of Vaishampayana’s father. Vaishampayana thought, “Somehow I have to perform my father’s ceremony. If the sin of Brahmahatya comes to me, my disciples will observe the expiatory penance therefor”. So Vaishampayana did not attend the meeting of the Rishis. And accordingly he incurred the sin of Brahmahatya.
Then Vaishampayana said to his disciples, “Now I have to expiate this great sin of Brahmahatya. Therefore, you all will observe, for my sake, an expiatory penance for seven days”.
At once Yajnavalkya stood up and said, “O Guru! All these are poor-spirited young students. They will not be able to undergo such a hard penance. So, instead of all, I myself alone shall observe it in the manner in which nobody else can”. Vaishampayana told Yajnavalkya not to undertake it alone. But Yajnavalkya persisted. The preceptor was offended at this audacious attitude of the disciple and said, “O proud one, you are very conceited. You get away from me. Enough of you who is disposed to despise wise Brahmins. Give back to me immediately whatever you have learnt from me”.
Upon the order of the Guru, Yajnavalkya, the son of Devarata, vomited out the collection of the Yajus in the form of food. The other disciples ate that food taking the form of the Tittiri birds, because they were very eager to receive the same. They then had the direct revelation of those Yajurveda collections. As the Tittiri birds ate this Veda, it is thenceforth called the Taittiriya Yajurveda. It is also known as Krishna (black) Yajurveda on account of its being vomited substance.
Then Yajnavalkya determined not to have any human Guru thereafter. Thus he began to propitiate the Sun-God, Surya. Yajnavalkya worshipped and extolled the Sun, the master of the Vedas, for the purpose of acquiring the fresh Vedic portions not known to his preceptor, Vaishampayana.
Yajnavalkya said, “Prostration to the glorious Aditya, who in the form of the Atman, abides in all beings. I bow to Him who surrounds all like Akasa, who is one and not separated or distanced by limiting conditions. O Great God, O Creator, I contemplate upon that glowing sphere which lights and warms the whole world! O God who burns all miseries wrought by unrighteous activities, who burns ignorance which is the seed of activity! O Lord, I worship Thy lotus-like feet praised and worshipped by the rulers of the three worlds. Give me those portions of the Veda which are not known to others”.
The Sun-God, the glorious Lord Hari, pleased with Yajnavalkya’s penance, assumed the form of a horse and taught the sage such fresh portions of the Yajurveda as were not known to any other. This portion of the Yajurveda goes by the name of Shukla Yajurveda. It is also known as Vajasaneya Yajurveda, because it was evolved in great rapidity by Surya in the form of a horse through his manes. Yajnavalkya divided this Vajasaneya Yajurveda again into fifteen branches, each branch comprising hundreds of Yajus Mantras. Kanva, Madhyandina and others learnt those branches.
Yajnavalkya married two wives. One was Maitreyi and the other Katyayani. Of the two, Maitreyi was a Brahmavadini. When Yajnavalkya wished to divide his property between the two wives before starting for the fourth Ashrama of his life, Maitreyi asked whether she could become immortal through wealth. Yajnavalkya replied that there was no hope of immortality through wealth and that she would only become one among the many who were well-to-do on earth. On hearing this, Maitreyi requested Yajnavalkya to teach her what he considered as the best. Then Yajnavalkya elaborately described to her the sole greatness of the Absolute Self, the nature of Its existence, the way of attaining infinite knowledge and immortality, etc. This immortal conversation between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi is recorded in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The central theme of the discourse is this: “All things are dear, not for their sake, but for the sake of the Self. This Self alone exists everywhere. It cannot be understood or known, for It alone is the Understander and the Knower. Its nature cannot be said to be positively as such. It is realised through endless denials as ‘not this, not this’. The Self is self-luminous, indestructible, unthinkable”.
The other wife Katyayani, the daughter of Bharadhwaja, was of common intelligence, and through her Yajnavalkya had three sons—Chandrakanta, Mahamegha and Vijaya.
Yajnavalkya, though a great Brahmajnani, was a great Karmakandi too. He caused many Yajnas to be performed and himself became the Acharya of those great Yajnas. He was a celebrated Srotriya and a Brahma-nishtha Guru. Once King Janaka of Videha wanted to know from which real Brahmanishtha to receive Brahma Vidya. In order to find out who was the real Brahma-nishtha, Janaka performed a huge Bahu-dakshina sacrifice to which all the Rishis from far and wide were invited. And he offered one thousand cows with their calves, all their horns being decked with enormous gold. Then he proclaimed to the assembled ones, “Whosoever is the best Brahmana amongst you may drive these cows home”. None dared to get up and take away the cows as they were afraid of censure by the others. But Yajnavalkya stood up and asked his disciple Samasravas to drive the cows home.
The other Brahmanas got angry at this and said to one another, “How can he declare himself to be the best among us?”. Thereupon several Rishis challenged Yajnavalkya with many questions on transcendental matters to all of which Yajnavalkya gave prompt reply. There was a great debate in which Yajnavalkya won over all the others. Janaka was convinced that Yajnavalkya was the best Brahma-nishtha and received Brahma Vidya from him thereafter.
The third and the fourth chapters of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad abound with the great philosophical teachings of Yajnavalkya. Yajnavalkya was also the author of the famous Yajnavalkya Smriti. His other works are Yajnavalkya Shakha, Pratijna Sutra, Satapatha Brahmana, and Yoga-Yajnavalkya.
At the sacrifice of Janaka, there was an exchange of words between Yajnavalkya and Vaishampayana. But on hearing that Yajnavalkya had obtained a fresh Veda from the Sun-God, Vaishampayana was much pleased and he requested Yajnavalkya to teach that Veda to his own disciples also. Yajnavalkya consented and taught his Veda to the disciples of Vaishampayana.
In the end, Yajnavalkya took Vidvat Sannyasa (renunciation after the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman) and retired to the forest.
Yajnavalkya was one of the greatest sages ever known. We find him arguing with and overcoming even his teacher Uddalaka at the court of Janaka. His precepts as contained in the Upanishads stand foremost as the crest-jewel of the highest teachings on Brahma Vidya.

Maharshi Vyasa


Sri Swami Sivananda

In ancient days, our forefathers, the Rishis of Aryavartha, went to the forest to do Tapasya during the four months following Vyasa Purnima—a particular and important day in the Hindu calendar. On this memorable day, Vyasa, an incarnation of the Lord Himself, began to write his Brahma Sutras. Our ancient Rishis did this Tapasya in caves and forests. But times have changed and such facilities are not common nowadays although Grihasthas and Rajas are not wanting who are able and willing to place at the disposal of the members of the fourth Ashrama such help and facilities as they can afford. The forests and caves have given place to the rooms of Sadhus in their own Gurudwaras and Mutts. One has of necessity to suit himself to time and place; and change of place and situation should not be allowed to make such a difference in our mental attitudes. Chaturmas begins from the Vyasa Purnima Day when, according to our Shastras, we are expected to worship Vyasa and the Brahmavidya Gurus and begin the study of the Brahma Sutras and other ancient books on ‘wisdom’.
Our mythology speaks of many Vyasas; and it is said that there had been twenty-eight Vyasas before the present Vyasa—Krishna Dvaipayana—took his birth at the end of Dvapara Yuga. Krishna Dvaipayana was born of Parasara Rishi through the Matsyakanya—Satyavathi Devi—under some peculiar and wonderful circumstances. Parasara was a great Jnani and one of the supreme authorities on astrology and his book Parasara Hora is still a textbook on astrology. He has also written a Smriti known as Parasara Smriti which is held in such high esteem that it is quoted by our present-day writers on sociology and ethics. Parasara came to know that a child, conceived at a particular Ghatika or moment of time, would be born as the greatest man of the age, nay, as an Amsa of Lord Vishnu Himself. On that day, Parasara was travelling in a boat and he spoke to the boatman about the nearing of that auspicious time. The boatman had a daughter who was of age and awaiting marriage. He was impressed with the sanctity and greatness of the Rishi and offered his daughter in marriage to Parasara. Our Vyasa was born of this union and his birth is said to be due to the blessing of Lord Siva Himself who blessed the union of a sage with a Jnani of the highest order, although of a low caste.
At a very tender age Vyasa gave out to his parents the secret of his life that he should go to the forest and do Akhanda Tapas. His mother at first did not agree, but later gave permission on one important condition that he should appear before her whenever she wished for his presence. This itself shows how far-sighted the parents and the son were. Puranas say that Vyasa took initiation at the hands of his twenty-first Guru, sage Vasudeva. He studied the Shastras under sages Sanaka and Sanandana and others. He arranged the Vedas for the good of mankind and wrote the Brahma Sutras for the quick and easy understanding of the Srutis; he also wrote the Mahabharata to enable women, Sudras and other people of lesser intellect to understand the highest knowledge in the easiest way. Vyasa wrote the eighteen Puranas and established the system of teaching them through Upakhyanas or discourses. In this way, he established the three paths, viz., Karma, Upasana and Jnana. To him is also attributed the fact that he continued the line of his mother and that Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura were his progeny. Vyasa’s last work was the Bhagavata which he undertook at the instigation of Devarshi Narada who once came to him and advised him to write it as, without it, his goal in life would not be reached.
Vyasa is considered by all Hindus as a Chiranjivi, one who is still living and roaming throughout the world for the well-being of his devotees. It is said that he appears to the true and the faithful and that Jagadguru Sankaracharya had his Darshan in the house of sage Mandana Misra and that he appeared to many others as well. Thus, in short, Vyasa lives for the welfare of the world. Let us pray for his blessings on us all and on the whole world.
Everybody knows that there are six important systems of thought developed by our ancients known as the Shad Darshanas or the six orthodox schools of philosophy, viz., Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Purva Mimamsa and Uttara Mimamsa or Vedanta. Each system has a different shade of opinion. Later, these thoughts became unwieldy, and to regulate them, the Sutras came into existence. Treatises were written in short aphorisms, called “Sutras” in Sanskrit, meaning clues for memory or aids to long discussions on every topic. In the Padma Purana, the definition of a Sutra is given. It says that a Sutra should be concise and unambiguous; but the brevity was carried to such an extent that the Sutra has become unintelligible and particularly so in the Brahma Sutras. Today we find the same Sutra being interpreted in a dozen ways. The Brahma Sutras written by Vyasa or Badarayana—for that was the name which he possessed in addition—are also known as Vedanta Sutras as they deal with Vedanta only. They are divided into four chapters, each chapter being subdivided again into four sections. It is interesting to note that they begin and end with Sutras which read together mean “the inquiry into the real nature of Brahman has no return”, meaning that “going by that way one reaches Immortality and no more returns to the world”. About the authorship of these Sutras, tradition attributes it to Vyasa. Sankaracharya, in his Bhashya, refers to Vyasa as the author of the Gita and the Mahabharata, and to Badarayana as the author of the Brahma Sutras. His followers—Vachaspathi, Anandagiri and others—identify the two as one and the same person, while Ramanuja and others attribute the authorship of all three to Vyasa himself. The oldest commentary on the Brahma Sutras is by Sankaracharya; he was later followed by Ramanuja, Vallabha, Nimbarka, Madhva and others who established their own schools of thought. All the five Acharyas mostly agree on two points, viz., (i) that Brahman is the cause of this world and (ii) that knowledge of Brahman leads to final emancipation. But they differ amongst themselves on the nature of this Brahman, the relation between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, and the condition of the soul in the state of release. According to some, Bhakti and not Jnana, as interpreted by Sankara, is the chief means of attaining liberation.
Vyasa’s life is a unique example of one born for the dissemination of spiritual knowledge. His writings inspire us and the whole world even to this day. May we all live in the spirit of his writings!


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p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }A Jivanmukta is a liberated sage. He is released even while living. He lives in the world, but he is not of the world. He always revels in the eternal bliss of the Supreme Self. He is Ishvara (God) Himself. He is a God on earth.
The Jivanmukta or full-blown Jnani (a person with full wisdom) is full of pure love, compassion, mercy, exquisite gentleness, and hidden power and strength. Love and lustre shine through his brilliant eyes.
The Jivanmukta has not a bit of selfish interest in him and is absolutely free from worries, difficulties, troubles, tribulations, sorrows, and anxieties under all circumstances. Even when pains and the rest attaching themselves to his body exhibit themselves on his face, his mind never writhes under them and their antithesis. He is not a slave of his moods; he is ever cheerful and peaceful. His higher excellences have been perfectly unfolded; all divine attributes are fully awakened in him. Every one of his weaknesses and limitations is burnt in toto. He shines in his own pristine glory, in his own essential nature of divine consciousness. He radiates peace and joy everywhere.
The true greatness of a realised Yogi is indescribable. His eyes are serene and steady, his actions perfect and holy, his speech sweet and short, inspiring and impressive. His gait is magnanimous, his touch purifying; his looks are merciful, gestures illuminating. He is omniscient; he has intuitive transcendental knowledge and clear insight into the very heart of all things and beings. You will experience a deep sense of peace and harmony, great elevation and inspiration, in his presence.
The Jivanmukta or liberated sage is absolutely free from egoism, doubt, fear, and grief. These are the four important signs that indicate that one has attained perfection.
The Jivanmukta has perfect contentment, unruffled peace of mind, deep abiding joy and bliss, possession of supersensual spiritual knowledge, and ability to clear any kind of doubt of aspirants. Doubts vanish when one remains in his company.
The Jivanmukta does not care even for the wants of the body. He is not afraid of death. He has no longing to live also. Maya or Prakriti (Mother Nature) is his obedient and sweet nurse. She attends upon him carefully. Bodily wants come by themselves. Prakriti arranges everything for him beforehand. This is her look-out.
Balanced mind, equal vision, indifference to pairs of opposites like pleasure and pain, censure and praise, heat and cold, success and failure-these are the marks of a Jivanmukta. Jivanmuktas are not frightened or astonished at any unusual occurrence in nature. They will never be disconcerted even should the sun grow cold, or the moon turn hot, or the fire begin to burn with its flame downwards, or the course of the river begin to rise upwards. The Jivanmukta is not perturbed under any condition. He is undistracted amidst distractions.
A man who stands in water up to his neck has a twofold experience. His head is exposed to the sun. He experiences both heat and cold. Such is the experience of a Jivanmukta. He has double consciousness. He enjoys the bliss of Brahman (God). He also has the experience of this world. He is like a man who knows two languages.
Just as the pot in which asafoetida or onion is kept emits a certain amount of smell even when it is cleaned several times, so also, a small trace of ignorance still remains in the mind of a Jnani even. The Jivanmukta has a consciousness of the body in the form of a Samskara (impression in the subconscious mind). That is the reason why he eats and drinks. Though the instinctive mind with low desires is destroyed, the Sattvic (pure) mind does not perish in the Jivanmukta. How will he be able to do Vyavahara or worldly dealings without an instrument, viz., the mind?
The phenomenal universe does not vanish from the vision of the Jivanmukta. The Jivanmukta sees the world as a dream within himself. Just as the mirage appears even after the illusory nature of the water is understood, so also, the world appears for the Jivanmukta even after he has attained Self- realisation, even after he has clearly understood the illusory nature of the world. But, just as the man who has understood the nature of the mirage will not run after the mirage for drinking water, so also, the Jivanmukta will not run after sensual objects like the worldly-minded people, though the world appears to him. That is the difference between a worldly man and a liberated sage.
When he is absorbed in Brahman, the Glory of glories, the Soul of souls, the Jivanmukta will not be able to work. But, when he comes down from his full Brahmic consciousness owing to the force of Prarabdha (destiny) and Vikshepa Sakti (tossing of the mind), he will pour forth his love at the cry of a suffering soul. So radiant and compassionate is he. He is the ocean of mercy and love and peace, a Buddha or Jesus.
The Jivanmukta beholds the one Reality or God everywhere and in all things. For him there is no distinction between a rogue and a saint, gold and stone, honour and dishonour. He actually feels that all is himself only, that snakes, scorpions, tigers, bears, and lions are as much part of himself as his own eyes, nose, ears, hands, and feet. He is one with the flower, ether, sun, ocean, mountain, and sky. He has cosmic vision and cosmic feelings.
The way of living of Jivanmuktas or sages differs. One sage lives in a princely style. Bhagiratha lived this kind of life. Another sage lives in a beggarly manner. One sage is always in a meditative mood. He never works. He never talks. He lives always in seclusion. Jada Bharata lived this kind of life. Another sage lives in a busy crowded city. He plunges himself in service. He talks with the people. He delivers lectures, holds religious classes, writes books, etc. Sri Sankara led this kind of life. This is due to Prarabdha. Every sage has his own Prarabdha. If all sages have the same kind of living and the same kind of Prarabdha, this world will be like a prison. Variety in manifestation is the nature of Prakriti. The Jnani who has desire for worldly activities or Vyavahara and works in the world is a Vyavahara Jnani. The Jnani who withdraws himself completely from the universe is a Samadhi Jnani.
Knowledge is the same in these two types of Jnanis. But the Samadhi Jnani enjoys more Ananda (Bliss) than the Vyavahara Jnani. The Samadhi Jnani is one who is ever absorbed in Brahman. He does not see names and forms. The world has entirely vanished for him. He is quite unable to work. He is a Muzub (a silent sage of the highest category). He is a Paramahamsa. Food has to be thrust forcibly in the case of a Samadhi Jnani.
A Vyavahara Jnani will experience pain when his finger is cut, but a Samadhi Jnani will not experience pain even a bit even if his leg is amputated. The case of Shams Tabriez of Multan would serve as an example to justify the truth of the above statement. When he was skinned out, he laughed and uttered Analhaq, Analhaq. ‘Analhaq’ means ‘I am He’, and corresponds to the Hindu ‘Soham’.
A Vyavahara Jnani sees names and forms. A Vyavahara Jnani knows that this is Vishta (faeces), this is Chandana (sandal paste); this is a fool, this is an intelligent man; this is an Adhikari (a qualified person), this is a rogue, this is an honest man. But, he is not affected in his feelings. He is neither exalted when he gets success nor depressed when he fails. He neither loves an honest man nor hates the rogue. In this sense, he has Sama Drishti or equal vision.
The desire for work in the case of the Vyavahara Jnani is due to his Prarabdha. He uses his body and mind as his instruments just as a carpenter uses his tools. While working, he has not lost his Brahmic consciousness even for a second. He is settled always in the Chaitanya Svarupa or pure consciousness.
The Vyavahara jnani sees the whole world within himigelf. He sees nothing outside, just as you do. He sees through his Divya Drishti (divine perception) or Jnana Chakshus (divine vision), and not through the physical eyes. A Jnani, with the help of the powerful lens, the eye of Atman (the Self, God), sees the whole world with all the details of creation. He sees the astral body, the causal body with its Samskaras, the Pranic aura, psychic aura, magnetic aura, etc., of a man. It is very difficult for a worldly man with practical Buddhi (intellect) to mentally visualise how a Jnani sees the physical universe while he is working.
A Jivanmukta is not a whimsical man. He is not bound by the rules of Sastra (scripture) or society. And yet, he will not deviate from Dharma (righteous conduct). All that he does will be in strict accordance with the scriptures or sacred books. He spontaneously does only what is good. An expert dancer never makes a false step. So is a Jivanmukta when he works.
The sage works without effort, without agency, without egoism, attachment and desire. Like a child, his conduct is neither good nor evil.
The Jivanmukta acts only like a child. The sense of right and wrong will be natural in him independently of scriptural teachings. He has destroyed all egoism. He is above Karma, and Karmas cannot touch him. He may, for the instruction of the world, perform works or refrain from forbidden acts.
The Jivanmukta does not care for public criticism. He keeps a cool mind even when he is assaulted. He blesses those who persecute him. He beholds only his own Self everywhere.
His mark or characteristic is an internal mental state. It cannot be perceived or detected by others. The Lord uses him for His divine work.
A Brahma Jnani or Jivanmukta need not be a genius. He need not be an eloquent speaker, orator, lecturer, or professor. But he is calm, serene, and tranquil. He is taciturn and silent. His silence is superior eloquence. He has divine wisdom and intuitive knowledge. In his presence, all doubts are cleared.
Householders make wrong judgments in deciding the nature of a Jivanmukta. They take into considerate only the external conditions of a Jivanmukta. Even educated people commit mistakes in this regard.
A Sadhu may be physically nude. He may not keep anything with him. He may use his hands as the begging bowl and live underneath a tree. He may live in a forest. Yet, he may be the greatest scoundrel; he may be the most worldly- minded man with internal and external attachments. He may dance in joy when he gets an eight-anna piece (money) for his opium-smoking. His mind may be full of distractions and disturbances. Whereas, a man may live in the bustle of a town or city. He may lead the life of a big Babu (gentalem). He may wear fashionable dress. He may cat dainties. Yet he may not have the least attachment and craving for anything. Sri Ramanauja lived amidst luxuries. There had been instances of realised persons who had elephants, horses, all royal paraphernalia without being affected in the least by these external objects. They had always Jnana Nishtha (one who is established in the Knowledge of Brahman) and Svarupa Sthiti (the natural state) amidst multifarious activities. This is integral development. This is the gist of the Bhagavad-Gita.” This is the central teaching of Lord Krishna.
What is wanted is mental nudity. Jnana is purely an internal state. The external marks are no sure criterion.
The ways of a Jnani are mysterious. Only a Jivammukta can know a Jivanmukta. The description given of a Jnani in the Bhagavad-Gita and various other books is quite inadequate, incomplete, and imperfect. His state can never be imagined by the limited mind and can never be described by the finite speech. He shines in his own pristine glory.
He will sometimes appear like a Sarvajna, all-knower. He will sometimes appear like an Ajnani, ignorant man. He knows when to act like a Brahmanishtha (one who is established in the Knowledge of Brahman), and when to behave like a fool. Do not judge him. If you approach him with the proper Bhava (feeling), with faith, devotion, and spiritual thirst, he will impart the highest knowledge to you. If you approach him with a bad motive, he will behave like a mad man, and you will be deceived. Great will be your loss then.
A Jivanmukta is a sustainer of the world. He is a source of perpetual inspiration. He is an embodiment through which divine grace is transmitted to the unregenerated men.
Like flowers that bloom to scent and purify the air around, great souls like Sadasiva Brahman, Yajnavalkya, spring up in the world to gladden men’s heart and to lead them to immortality and perfection.
The Jivanmukta is a power-house of spiritual energy. He radiates his spiritual currents to the different comers of the world. Sit before him. Your doubts will be cleared by themselves. You will feel a peculiar thrill of joy and peace in his presence.
The Jivanmukta, like unto holy waters, purifies others by mere sight, touch, and the utterance of his name. Sometimes he remains unnoticed. Sometimes he becomes known to those who desire welfare. He eats food offered to him by pious devotees and burns up their past and future evils or impurities.
A Jivanmukta or a saint is the ultimate source of Knowledge of the soul. Satsang with a Jivanmukta even for a minute is much better than rulership of a kingdom. His very presence is thrilling and inspiring. Seek his company and evolve. Serve him with faith and devotion.
The sage lives for ever. He has attained life everlasting. Cravings torture him not. Sins stain him not. Birth and death touch him not. Pains and tribulations torment him not.
A Jivanmukta may give up his body in any place, at any time. Just as the falling leaves and fruits of a tree will not affect the tree itself, so also, the dropping of the body will not affect the Atman, which survives like the tree. His Pranas do not depart elsewhere for transmigration. They are absorbed in Brahman after the exhaustion of his Prarabdha, the results of past actions that have already begun to bear fruit. He is freed from further births.
The Jivanmukta is freed from the trammels of mind and matter. He is absolutely free, perfect, independent. He is absolutely free from hatred, lust, cares, worries, and anxieties. Everybody will surely like this state of beatitude or final emancipation. It is the final goal of life. It is the end of all human aspirations.
The state of Jivanmukti is the be-all and end-all of existence. There is fullness in this state. All desires are burnt. It is a state of plenum of absolute satisfaction. There is no gain greater than this, no bliss greater than this, no wisdom greater than this.
There, at the summit of the Hill of Eternal Bliss, you can see now the Jivanmukta or a full-blown Yogi. He has climbed the stupendous heights through intense and constant struggle. He did severe, rigorous spiritual Sadhana. He did profound Nididhyasana or meditation. He spent sleepless nights. He kept long vigils on several halting stages. He persevered with patience and diligence. He has surmounted many obstacles. He conquered despair, gloom, and depression. He is a beacon-light to the world now. Remember that he was also rotting in those days in the quagmire of Samsara (the round of births and death), like yourself. You can also ascend to summit if only you will.

source:- http://www.dlshq.org/saints/jivanmukta.htm



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A saint is a god on earth. To him, the whole world is mere straw. To him, gold and stone are alike. To him, pleasure and pain are the same.
A saint lives in God. He has realized God. He knows God. He has become God. He speaks of God. He shows the way to God. He is God-intoxicated. He is God Himself. He is one with God.
Saints are God’s agents on earth. God reveals Himself in a saint in His full glory, infinite power, wisdom and bliss.
The saints constitute a ladder for the pilgrims to the shrine of God. Wherever saints and sages stay even for a half-second, then and there are sacred places like Varnasi, Prayag and Brindavan.
A saint is a blessing on earth. Saints are the living symbols of religion and are the true benefactors of humanity. Throughout history, saints have played a great part in preserving spiritual values in the world.
A saint is a spiritual washerman. He applies the soap of devotion and knowledge, and removes the spots of sin in worldly people. In his presence, man becomes holy.
The moment the mind thinks of a sage, immediately all evil desires, base passions, are brushed aside. Meditation on the lives of saints is equal to holy company. Study of their teachings is equal to holy company.
To think of saints, to live in their company, to have good fortune of receiving their blessings, is to draw forth upon yourself a shower of purity, inspiration and divine consciousness.
A saint is free from I-ness and mine-ness. He is free from lust, anger, and greed. He loves all beings as his own Self. He is endowed with dispassion and mercy. He speaks the truth and serves all. He ever meditates on the Lord. He does not speak ill of others. He has equal vision. He sees Devi or Mother in all women. He is ever joyful and peaceful. He sings the glory of the Lord. He has divine knowledge. He is fearless and generous. He never begs, but gives. He is majestic and lordly. Such a one is rare in the whole world. He is not easily found. He is not born everywhere.
Love is the very breath of a saint. Mercy is his very nature. His heart overflows with compassion. He does not look to the faults of others. He returns good for evil and blesses those who curse him.
The heart of a sage is a flame of love and his whole being thirsts for the uplift of suffering humanity. He forgets himself utterly and lives but for the sake of others.
A saint sees the whole world as the projection of his own soul. A sage sees unity in diversity. He becomes one with the whole world.
A sage is a youth amongst the youth, aged amongst the old, brave amongst the brave, a child amongst children. He feels the pain and suffering among sufferers.
The life of a saint is plain, simple, and attractive. It is full of grace. It is methodical. A saint is ever of good cheer. He knows no ill of life. To him, life is joy. He experiences no trial of misery. He is fearless. No monarch has sway over him.
The life of a saint is always a life of quiet, of indrawn stillness, of solitude and aloofness. He is untouched by the changes of the world. No external happening can shake him off his balance. He is centred in his own Atman or Absolute Consciousness.
A sage is desireless and so he is ever happy. A king possesses everything and so he is happy. But, the happiness of a sage is infinite, because he lives in his own Atman, the ocean of Brahmic Bliss. A king is full of fears and worries. He is afraid that his enemies will conquer him one day and so he is restless and miserable.
The happiness of a liberated sage is not sensual pleasure. It is Atmic Self-bliss. He enjoys the whole world simultaneously as the Self of all objects. His happiness is not in time. It is transcendental bliss.
A sage alone is really wealthy. Multi-millionaires with cravings and desires are beggars. A saint is superior to an emperor, to Indra, the Lord of heaven.
A sage has awakened from the dream of life. He enjoys eternal bliss. To a sage of illumination, the entire world surrenders.
The sage moves among men, but he is unseen by all men; he is taken by them as an ordinary man.
Only a sage can know a sage. He will sometimes appear like a Sarvajna, an all knower. He will sometimes appear like an Ajnani, an ignorant man. He knows when to act like a Brahma-nishtha and when to behave like a fool. Do not judge him. If you approach him with the proper Bhava, with faith, devotion and spiritual thirst, he will impart the highest knowledge to you. If you approach him with a bad motive, he will behave like a madman and you will be deceived. Great will be your loss then.
A Brahma-jnani or liberated sage need not be a genius. He need not be an eloquent speaker, orator, lecturer or professor. But, he is calm, serene, and tranquil. He is taciturn and silent. His silence is superior eloquence. He has equanimity and balanced mind. He has equal vision. He has Samata and Sama-drishti. He is a Mouni, Maha Mouni, and Muni. He has divine wisdom and intuitive knowledge. In his presence, all doubts are cleared.
There is no caste among saints and sages. A sage is like a lion out of the cage, free from shackles of caste, creed, profession, tradition and scripture. Do not look to the caste of saints and sages. You will not be benefited. You cannot imbibe their virtues. In higher religion, there is neither caste nor creed. Cobblers, weavers, and untouchables had become the best saints.
There is no real difference between a Christian mystic and a Hindu saint. Their sayings never clash. The messages of the saints are essentially the same. They have always been a call to men to discover the Wisdom of the Self or Atman.
Knowledge is the same in all sages, but their conduct is different. Sri Vasishtha was a Karma-kandi; he did Havans and sacrifices. Raja Janaka was a Bhogi; he ruled his dominion; he enjoyed regal pleasures. Sri Dattatreya was a wanderer; he was an Avadhuta, a naked Fakir. Kakabhusundhi was a Yogi. Some even marry.
Sages like Dattatreya and Jadabharata roam about happily. They have neither rooms nor clothing. All dualities have become extinct. They cannot work for the well-being of the world like Raja Janaka and Sri Sankara. But, their mere presence elevates people.
The other type of sage is the benevolent sage – like Raja Janaka and Sri Sankara – who works for the solidarity of the world. He has compassion for all. He writes books, conducts classes, establishes Mutts or Ashrams. You may ask: “Which of the two kinds is superior ?”. The answer is: “Both are on the same level”.
Ignorant people say, “A sage is attempting for his own Self-realization. He is extremely selfish. He is of no use to society”. This is a serious mistake. A sage is the most benevolent superman. He is extremely kind and compassionate. He elevates at once all persons who come in contact with him. Further, he does Sakti-sanchar through his Divya-Drishti. He finds out the deserving aspirants and raises them up through Sankalpa Sakti, even while remaining in a cave or Kutir in the distant Himalayas.
A Jnani is not a selfish man as worldly men think. His spiritual vibrations purify the world. His very life is exemplary and elevating. He gives hope and encouragement to others to tread the spiritual path. He is the only real lover of mankind. He feels the presence of God in everyone. He loves his neighbour as himself. A Jnani only does real selfless service as he feels the presence of God in all beings. He is the real altruist and humanitarian.
You cannot apply the worldly yardstick to measure the greatness of the saints. Do not superimpose defects on them on account of your evil eye. You cannot judge their merits.
Brahma-nishtha are like fire. They can consume anything. Their very touch purifies everything. They are beyond good and bad; they are themselves the supreme good. Do not imitate their actions. Their actions are strange and mysterious. They are beyond your intellect. If you commit theft and say, “Did not Krishna steal butter ?”, you will be hopelessly ruined. Krishna lifted up the Govardhana Hill with His little finger. Can you lift even a big stone with all your strength ? Follow the Upadesa of saints and Mahapurushas; you will attain Brahma-Jnana here and now.
To benefit from the company of saints, you have to prepare yourself first. Do not go with any preconceived notion or prejudice. Go with an open, receptive mind. Go without expectations. Approach them humbly and respectfully. Assimilate what appeals to you. If some of their teachings do not appeal to you, do not form a hasty opinion. If you do not like them, you need not take them to heart. What may be suitable to another may not be suitable to you. Yet, with regard to broad fundamentals, there can be no difference of opinion.
When you go before a sage, do not ask him questions out of mere inquisitiveness. Sit in his presence humbly. Observe him. Listen to him without prejudice. Ask him only such questions about which you really need clarifications. Ask him only pertinent questions. Do not draw him into politics or public bickering.
Meditate in the presence of a sage. You will get inner light which will clear your doubts.
The very company of sages and saints has a tremendous transforming effect on the lives of true seekers. It lifts them up to heights of sublimity, purity and spirituality. It does not fail to affect even the rank materialists.
Every school, every college, every boarding house, every jail, every institution, every house should have a saint for the guidance of its members.
Saints and sages only can become real advisers to the kings, because they are selfless and possess the highest wisdom. They only can improve the morality of the masses. They only can show the way to attain eternal bliss and immortality. Shivaji had Swami Ramdas as his adviser. King Dasaratha had Maharishi Vasishtha as his adviser.
Saints are in abundance. You do not want them. You do not wish to approach them. You do not wish to serve them. You do not aspire for higher things. You are perfectly satisfied with some broken shells and glass-pieces. There is no thirst or spiritual hunger in you for achieving higher divine knowledge and inner peace.
Spiritual opportunity is a rare privilege. Do not lose such opportunities. Take recourse to the company of sages and saints. One moment of company with the Holy builds a ship to cross this ocean of life.
God is the great purifier. A saint also is a great purifier. God incarnates as saints and sages when their need is felt most.
Study the lives of saints. You are inspired at once. Remember their sayings. You are elevated immediately. Walk in their footsteps. You are freed from pain and sorrow.
Seek the company of sages and evolve. Satsang with sages is unfailing in its results.

What Is Concentration?

Once a Sanskrit scholar approached Kabir and asked him, “O Kabir, what are you doing now?” Kabir replied, “O Pundit, I am detaching the mind from worldly objects and attaching it to the lotus-feet of the Lord.” This is concentration.

Concentration or Dharana is centering the mind on one single thought. Vedantins try to fix the mind on the Atman. This is their Dharana. Hatha Yogins and Raja Yogins concentrate their mind on the six Chakras. Bhaktas concentrate on their Ishta Devata. Concentration is a great necessity for all aspirants.

During concentration, the various rays of the mind are collected and focussed on the object of concentration. There will be no tossing of the mind. One idea occupies the mind. The whole energy of the mind is concentrated on that one idea. The senses become still. They do not function. When there is deep concentration, there is no consciousness of the body and surroundings.

When you study a book with profound interest, you do not hear if a man shouts and calls you by your name. You do not see a person when he stands in front of you. You do not smell the sweet fragrance of flowers that are placed on the table by your side. This is concentration or one-pointedness of mind. The mind is fixed firmly on one thing. You must have such a deep concentration when you think of God or the Atman.

Jagannath Temple

Shri Shri Jagannath Mahaprabhu lord of the Universe is the supreme solace and saviour of countless devotees around the world. since time immemorial, His monumental and magnificent Shrine at Shri Purusottam-Kshetra (Puri, Orissa) one of the four major Dhamas of India has been a most sacred centre of pilgrimage and worship symbolising and uploading one of the greatest spiritual and cultural heritages of the world.
The most frrequently depicted theme involves the holy Triad of the Jagannath Temple – Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra
The Puri temple is built on a gigantic raised platform in the heart of the city, The temple complex is enclosed by a wall about seven meters high -including the 0 height of the platform. The area of this platform is more than 4,20,000 sq.ft. The wall is pierced by four gates ,facing the four directions. On the east-facing gate, there are stone images of two lions and it is called the Lions Gate. The north, south and west facing gates are similarly known as the Elephant Gate, the Horse Gate and the Tiger Gate (also called the Khanja Gate) respectively. The north gate is mainly meant for the God himself in as much as, the logs of wood out of which, the images are fabricated, make their entry into the temple premises through this gate, when the Navakelevara ceremony takes place. The east-facing Lions Gate is the main gate. There are pyramidal structures over the four gates, which are not very old.

As we arrive at the vast open area in front of the Lions Gate (eastern gate), we see a monolithic pillar about 10 meters high. This pillar is known locally as the Aruna Stambha. In Hindu mythology Aruna is the the charioteer of the Sun-god, The world famous Konarka temple was designed in the form of a stupendous chariot and this monolithic pillar with the beautifully carved Aruna seated on its top was installed right in front of the porch of that temple. When the temple was abandoned and there was no presiding deity in it, this pillar was removed from Konarka to Puri and was fixed in front of Jagannatha temple where we see it now.

 Immediately after we get into the main gate and proceed forward, we find ourselves on a flight of steps. Locally, they are called Baisi Pahaca, which literally means, twenty-two steps. The history or rather the mystery of this flight of steps has not been unveiled. It is interesting to note that great reverence is shown to this flight of twenty-two steps. The parents bring their children & make them slowly roll over the steps from the top to the bottom ones in expectation of spiritual bliss in as much as countless devotees have walked on the steps which are believed to be throbbing with spiritual animation. 

As we cross the main entrance on the east and ascend the flight of steps leading to the main temple, we find on the left-hand side, a vast kitchen area of the temple. Some tourists rightly observe that on account of this kitchen, the Puri temple may be described as the biggest hotel of the world. It can feed even one lakh persons with only two to three hours’ notice. The method of preparation is most hygienic and the traditional process of preparation of food for so many people in so short a time, takes many by surprise. To the right, we have the Ananda Bajara which is the popular name of the food selling market within the enclosure. Ananda Bajara literally means, the pleasure market.  

Historical background

 In one sense, Puri is synonymous, with Jagannatha and vice versa. For more than a century past, historians, foreign and Indian, have been trying to’ unveil the mystery of the three deities namely, Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra worshipped in the Puri temple. But the success they have achieved is almost negligible. All the same, the traditional authorities strongly hold that Jagannatha is perhaps as old as human civilization. The antiquity of Jagannatha is so much shrouded in mystery that it may take many more years for scholars to arrive at any definite conclusion. There are a number old works in Sanskrit which sing the glories of Orissa in general and of Puri in particular. A passage is frequently quoted from the Rg Veda and explained in the light of the well-known commentary of Sayana to show that the history of Jagannatha dates back to the age of the Rig Veda itself.

The Puranas (Voluminous works in Sanskrit containing accounts of ancient Indian history, culture, mythology, philosophy, religion, etc.) present elaborate accounts pertaining to the origin of Jagannatha in an atmosphere of mystery and divine inspiration. Prominent among the Puranas are the Skanda Purana, the Brahma Purana and the Narada Purana. Even in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, there are references to the shrine of Jagannatha. The Pandavas of the Mahabharata are believed to have come here and offered worship to Jagannatha. ,Some scholars hold that even Jesus Christ and Mohammed, the founders of Christianity and Islam respectively also visited Puri. But the historicity of such a view is yet to be established.
Historically speaking, the antiquity of Jagannatha can be taken to the second century B.C.when Kharavela was the emperor of Kalinga (the ancient name of Orissa). There is the mention of one Jinasana in the historic Hatigumpha inscription of the emperor on the top of Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar and though it clearly speaks of a Jaina deity, it is often identified with Jagannatha. But reliable materials in historical form are available from the 9th century A.D. when Sankaracarya visited Puri and founded the Govardhana Matha as the eastern dhama of India.
The place where each one of the four Mathas has been established by Sankara is known by the celebrated name of dhama which literally means, a sacred place. Puri is the dhama of eastern India. It is the traditional belief that a Hindu should visit these four dhamas at least once in his life and the prevailing practice is that, after visiting the other three dhamas, one must visit Puri dhama. The records maintained by the Pandas in the Puri temple contain reliable materials to show that for centuries past, people from the whole of India have been visiting Puri in course of their pilgrimage.
The main temple in Puri is surrounded by about 30 temples, small and big, a list of which may be seen in Chapter 8. They were Put up at different periods of history by different periods. Even to, this day, the pilgrims are generally advised by the Pandas to visit and offer worship in almost all these temples before they are taken to the Jagamohana or the porch to see the presiding deities in the sanctum sanctorum.
Jagannatha is not the only deity worshipped in the temple, though it is known as the ‘Jagannatha  Temple’. But along with Jagannatha, two others namely, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are also worshipped here. These three, constitute the basic and fundamental Trinity and are considered to be the forms and manifestations of the omni-present, omni-scient and omni-potent supreme power.Sudarsan who is supposed to be the fourth important divine manifestation is also worshipped with the celebrated trio and these four are known as the Caturdha murti or the four-fold divine images.Besides, Madhava, a replica of Jagannatha, Sridevi and Bhudevi are also installed in the sanctum sanctorum and worshipped.
The majestic temple of Lord Shri Jagannatha at Puri is said to have been built by emperor Anangabhimadeva, historically identified as Angangabhima III belonging to Ganga dynasty. Some historians are of opinion that the construction was commenced during the reign of emperor Chodagangadeva, the founder of the dynastic rule in Orissa. It is described in Madala Panji, the temple chronicle of Puri that Anangabhima on contemplated to construct a temple of Srivatsa khandasala type with 100 cubits in height. But on the advice of the ministers and royal priests, the height was reduced to 90 cubits. Accordingly the temple was built, as it stands today. Babu Manamohan Ganguly has measured the height of the present temple by theodolite method and has concluded that it is 214 feet 8 inches.

The temple consists of four structures called (a) the Vimana or Bada Deula sanctum sanctorum) (b) the Jagamohan or Mukhasala (the porch), (c) the Natamandir (the audience hall) and (d) the Bhogamandap (the hall for residuary offerings) built in a row in an axial alignment in east-west direction. The temple faces the east. The Vimana is constructed in Pancharatha (temple containing five Pagas or segments) Rekha order. Rekha is the name given to a type of temple with a curvilinear spire. Out of the five Pagas or segments, the middle one is known as Raha, the two feanking pagas as Anuraha, and the two corners as Kanika. Like a full-fledged Orissan temple, it has four-fold vertical divisions, i.e. the Pitha (pedestal), the Bada (wall), the Gandi (trunk) and the Mastaka (the head).
The temple stands on a high pedestal though a major portion of it is buried in the ground. The visible portion shows three mouldings, which are richly carved. Similarly the Bada is Panchanga type i.e. consisting of five elements known respectively as Pabhaga (foot), lower Jangha (shin), Bandhana(bond), upper Jangha and Baranda. The Pabhaga consists of five usual mouldings and these mouldings are connected with vertical bands in each Paga of the Bada. These five mouldings are known in the architectural texts as Khura, Kumbha, Pata, Kani and Basanta in ascending order. 
The greatest attraction of Puri is the world famous temple of Jagannatha. It is known by many , names, viz., the Puri temple, the Srimandira, the Bada Deu1a or simply, the Jagannatha temple.The temple of Jagannatha is one of the tallest monuments in the entire. sub-continent of India and its height is about 214 feet from the ground (road) level. It stands on a ‘raised platform of stone, measuring about ten acres. It. is located in the hear! of the town and presents an imposing sight. The temple is bounded by two compound walls, the outer one known as Meghanada Pracira & the inner one known as Kurma Pracira. The present temple was built in the 12th century A.D. The temple structure is full of excellent carvings and lovely pieces of sculpture and is a fine specimen of Kalinga style of architecture. It is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Only orthodox Hindus are allowed to enter into the Temple. But the others can see portions of the enclosure from the top of the Emar Matha building, located near the east facing gate of the temple.
The largest crowd in Puri is seen during the Car Festival of Jagannatha which takes place every year some time in June-July.  Jagannatha of Puri is strikingly different from all other deities worshipped by the entire Hindu world, mainly for the reason that Jagannatha represents all the gods and goddesses known to the entire Hindu world, either directly or indirectly. He is considered to be the highest object of worship by the followers of all the religious cults that come within the purview of Hinduism. For example, he is Siva for a Saivite, Ganapati for a Ganapatya, Kalika for a Sakta and so on and so forth. This kind of integration of religious cults and creeds belonging to Hinduism is not to be seen anywhere else. 
Jagannatha represents an integration of all important Hindu cultures which flourished in India, namely, the Vedic, the Puranic, the Tantric, the Smarta and the Vaisnava, along with Jainism, Buddhism and that of the aboriginal tribes. The Vaisnavas of all schools, i.e., Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Caitanya or Mlidhva Goudiya, Radha Vallabhl, Atibadi Odisi – all have great faith in Jagannatha. The Mahaprasada (the offerings to the deities in the Puri temple) is a wonder of the Hindu world in as much as it is free from any kind of discrimination pertaining to the castes of India. Persons of all castes do partake Mahaprasada from the same plate without the least hesitation.
The main temple in Puri located on a gigantic raised platform. believed to be the base of a small hill known as Nilagiri or Blue hill is surrounded by about 30 other temples dedicated to various gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. The kitchen of the Puri temple evokes a sense of wonder in any body from any portion of the world, who come to know of it. Within a short notice of a few hours, the temple can lavishly feed with first-class boiled rice & dishes of different tastes to thousands of people at a time. It is perhaps the biggest hotel of the world.
Since the days of first Sankaracarya who visited Puri perhaps by 810 A.D. and founded the govardhana Matha, Puri has gained special significance as one of the four dhamas of India. It is the eastern dhama and one of the four Sankaracaryas of lndia stays here.It is believed that, there were 752 Mathas i.e., religious endowments, constituting institutions for the study and propagation of religious creeds in Puri. But now, about a dozen of them deserve mention. 
The second great attraction of Puri is the sea beach acclaimed to be one of the best sea beaches of the world. A number of beach complexes have developed on the sea at Puri & nearby. The sea at Puri is shallow and is therefore, highly suitable for sea-bath. But on particular days of the year, care should be taken to avoid a rush against the waves. The nolias (fisherman of the sea) will help in taking bath in the sea.
 To enable thousands of people to take bath at a time, there are four big sacred tanks in Puri. They are :-
    (i) Indradyumna
    (ii) Narendra
    (iii) Markanda
    (iv) Svetaganga
The Narendra in particular is associated with the famous Chandana Yatra of Jagannatha.Puri is an epitome of Indian philosophy,culture and religion known as Hinduism and a visit to this ancient city is a
rewarding experience.