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  • 29 Aug, 2022

अपना काशी


"All The tirthas on Earth are here in Kashi,' Kashi in her old age. "If you stay in Kashi you never need to go anywhere else on pilgrimage". The notion she expressed, as we walked by the Ganges late one afternoon, in an ancient one, voiced over and over in the Sanskrit Puranas and given geographical expression in the temples and tirthas of Banaras. The whole world here is this one place.

Just as the Gods are all present in Kashi, so are all the sacred places present here. There is no need to go elsewhere.

All tirthas, and all cities, and all sixty abodes of Shiva, rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans all the gods and all the sages dwell in Kashi, desiring their own liberation, under the great influence of Shiva, who quenches desire. The mind of those who have beheld Kashi delights no more in other tirthas.

O sages, I have established all tirthas in this place, a place which I never leave. It is made of all the tirthas; it is pure, the most secret of the secret, great, the first-born of all places, the Great Lord.

Spatial transportation is a fascinating fact of India's spritiual geography. Kashi, of course, is present in a thousand places in India, each with its own temple of Kashi Vishvanatha, some even boasting a Panchakroshi Road. Kashi is the paradigm of teh sacred place, to which other places subscribe in their claims to sanctity. At the same time, Kashi includes all the other tirthas within it. According to Puranic commentators, these tirthas exist only partially and in gross form in their separate places, but in their fullness and in public form, they exist in Kashi. Kashi is dense with tirthas.

The presence of all tirthas in Kashi is more than a matter of literary eulogy, for many tirthas and groups are part of Kashi's sacred geography. The various temples, wells, pools, and streams of the city symbolically embody the whole of India. When we ask the question, "What kind of place is Kashi?" one of the answers we find is that Kashi is a place that gathers together the whole of India. Kashi isa a cosmopolis-a city that is a world.

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