In the previous episode, we had witnessed Sage Naarada rendering some important advice to Yudishtra upon visiting Kurukshetra and performing the “Jala-Tarpanam” for the “Pitru-Devatas” in this particular place. Sage Naarada emphasizes this point indirectly to Yudishtra, without revealing the fact that the great Mahabharata war is going to subsequently take place in this Kurukshetra-Bhoomi. However, without revealing the future, Sage Naarada advises Yudishtra to go and obtain the “Anugraha” of all the “Pitru-Devatas”, who in turn are going to be influential in some way or the other in the victory that Yudishtra is going to see against Duryodhana and Co. This is where we’ve discussed the significance of a Mahatma’s words and instructions. Unlike all of us, wherein our minds only have a limited capacity of thinking of the present moment, Mahatmas can think of all the three states – Present, past and future. Thus, with the requisite futuristic outlook, Sage Naarada is rendering this advice to Yudishtra, who in turn obeys his words without asking a question. Perhaps, if we were in Yudishtra’s state, we might have asked Sage Naarada thus, “Oh Sage! Why should I go all the way to Kurukshetra, which is thousands of kilometers away from where I am and perform the “Jala-Tharpanam”? I can do it sitting right here, isn’t it? Why should I specifically go and do it there?” Our so-called “intellect” will make us ask such questions, for which, Mahatmas would never directly reveal any answer. If they do so, they would be talking about some future happenings, which we might not even be able to connect! This is why, it is always better to go ahead and obey the words and instructions of the Mahatma, rather than cross-questioning him / her! This is something that all of us must understand as we move forward.
Advancing further with the discussion thus, I shall talk about just two more “Punya-Kshetras” as we proceed further. After a detailed accord on the Kurukshetra, now Sage Naarada is talking about the “Gaya-Kshetra” and “Prayaga-Kshetra”. We shall see the uniqueness of these two places. We shall commence with the “Gaya-Kshetra”, which is currently in the North-Indian state of Bihar, on the banks of river Phalguni. Sage Naarada explains why this place called Gaya is very important. There was a Raakshasa by the name “Gayaasura”. Bhagawan Brahma wanted to perform a “Yaaga” (Spiritual Offering) by making use of this Raakshasa somehow. If Bhagawan Brahma wants to convince Gayaasura for the Yaaga, he is not going to do it by himself. Hence, Bhagawan Brahma decided to kill him and use his body as an instrument to perform the “Yaaga”. Thus, as per the plan, Gayaasura was killed and the “Yaaga” commences. However, even if Gayaasura was killed, he was threatening to come back to life again! Unable to understand the mystery behind this, Bhagawan Brahma straightaway went to Bhagwan Vishnu in Gaya, who is referred to as “Bhagawan Gathaadhara”. According to Bhagawan Brahma’s request, Bhagawan Gathaadhara pressed one of His legs on Gayaasura’s chest, thus, preventing him from standing up again.
As Bhagawan Vishnu presses His leg upon him, Gayaasura himself pledges thus, “Oh Bhagawan! Until your divine lotus feet is pressing my chest, I wouldn’t stand and be of any hindrance to the “Yaaga”. However, the moment you take off your feet from me, I will stand up again!” Obeying Gayaasura’s words, until today, Bhagawan Vishnu is pressing Gayaasura’s chest with His divine lotus feet! This is why, Bhagawan Vishnu’s “Paada-Darshanam” (Vishnu Paadam) is extremely important in Gaya. Hence, whenever we go to Gaya, we should worship the most important “Vishnu Paadam”, that is pressing Gayaasura’s chest even today. We can even get small carvings of the “Vishnu Paadam” in the temple, and we shall buy it and keep it in our “Puja-Room”. We should be very careful with it and should perform all the austerities as per the rule-book, because, having the “Vishnu-Paadam” at our home is extremely significant. It is like having Bhagawan Himself residing in our homes! Many of our grandfathers and great grandfathers might be having the “Vishnu Paadam” already with them, and if it comes with generations, we should protect the “Vishnu Paadam” carefully. For those of us who have never had the “Vishnu Paadam” at home till now, we shall always go to Gaya and get it.
Moreover, apart from this, there is an important tree by name “Akshaya-Vatam”. This is where all of us would go and perform the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” for our departed parents. Thus, apart from the significance of Bhagawan Vishnu, Gaya is an extremely important place for performing the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” for our parents, after they depart from this human birth. As we perform the “Pinda-Pradhaanam”, we should also offer the “Bhojanam” (Food with all ingredients) to the Brahmin Pandits who are there. The Brahmin Pandits who reside there are referred to as “Gaya-Vaalis”, and it is to these people, we should offer the “Bhojanam” after the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” is over. Readers should understand here that the “Pinda-Pradhaanam” is offered separately for both the mother and the father. In fact, the highest importance in this exercise is given to the mother, who has undergone enormous suffering and sacrifice to give birth to us. We can thus understand how much of importance is given to women in our “Sanaatana Dharma”.
So for today, let us understand up to this point, and in the next episode, we shall witness why the “Gaya-Shraadham” is extremely important. Stay tuned for an important accord! 🙂