Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tracing the ancient roots of Mahabharata in space and time: Hastinapur, Part 2 (Jain Religion)

Taking further where I left the first part; The ASI carried out excavation work at Hastinapur in 1950s. The eminent Archaeologist B.B.Lal tried to find out the stratigraphic position of the “Painted Grey Ware” with reference to other known ceramic industries of the early historical period. B.B.Lal strongly believed that there must be a correlation between Mahabharata, the text, and the material remains that was excavated at Hastinapur. The excavation report was published in “Ancient India”, the annual journal of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1955.

** The Painted Grey Ware culture (PGW) was an ‘Iron Age’ culture of Gangetic plain, lasting from roughly 1200 BC to 600 BC. It is contemporary to, and a successor of the Black and red ware culture. It probably corresponds to the later Vedic period.

Around Vidur-Kutir
Caves inside the Pandeswar Temple is now fenced

They live behind the temple in a Ashram to perform daily rituals
After the archaeological excavations at ‘Vidura-ka-tila’, a collection of several mounds, in 1950-52, was concluded to be remains of the ancient city of Hastinapur, the capital of Kauravas and Pandavas of Mahabharata, which was washed away by Ganges floods.

This site is in the midst of forest
Kali statue near Pandeswar Temple
B.B. Lal associated Hastinapur, Mathura, Ahichatra, Kampilya, Barnawa, Kurukshetra and other sites with the PGW culture, the (post-) Mahabharata period and the Aryans in the 1950s. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Mahabharata mentions a flood and a layer of flooding debris was found in Hastinapur. However, he considered his theories to be provisional and based upon a limited body of evidence, and he later reconsidered his statements on the nature of this culture.

Few years later B.B.Lal himself admitted the failure of his theory. In his words; “I could no longer sustain the theory of the PGW having been a representative of the early Aryans in India. (The association of this Ware with the Mahabharata story was nevertheless sustainable since that event comes at a later stage in the sequence.) I had no qualms in abandoning my then-favorite theory.”

The detailed presentation can be found here:

Now there is another side of this story. Hastinapur at one time was the capital of Bharat-Varsha and a center place for political, cultural, and spiritual events some 86500 years back. There is enough documented support, besides excavation, to prove the historic importance of this place. ASI has done their job. The details can be found here, which was later denied and now nothing is going on.

Now, I would like to mention another interesting fact here; there is another Hastinapur in Argentina known as ‘city of wisdom’. The place has temples of Ganesh, Krishna, Surya, Narayana, Siva and Pandavas. The dozen Argentines who live there look after the gods and the place. The Argentines go there for wisdom. This is why the place is called as the City of Wisdom (ciudad de la sabiduria).

Each truth has its own version, and sometime for many the truth is where, their beliefs are. There are Ashrams in Hastinapur where priests are performing daily rituals with deep faith. Locals as well devotees from across the nation keep coming, though less in number. The sign board of UP state tourism also confirms this site to be of historic importance. However as a believer of our heritage I just want to keep traveling and sharing the fact that is coming my way and wish that they must be preserved for future generations.


It was a kind of de-tour from my main agenda but the importance is so immense that it need to be put in details. Hastinapur has two historical significant, one is related to Mahabharata and another is related to Jainism. This place is also known as ‘Kashi’ of Jain religion. My trip to Hastinapur was solely dedicated to trace the ancient marks of Mahabharata era. However this place is dominated by enormous temple complexes of Jain religion and I did visit these temples too to get the essence of Jainism which was relatively less known to me.

Jambudweep temple complex
View as seen from top floor of Sumeru Parvat
Kamal Temple
Ancient history and Ved-Purans state that this country has been named as ‘Bharat-Varsha’ on the name of the eldest son of Tirthankar Rishabhdev i.e the first Chakravarti (Monarch)-Emperor Bharat. Three out of 24 Tirthankars of Jainism i.e. 16th Tirthankar Shri Shantinath, 17th Tirthankar Shri Kunthunath and 18th Tirthankar Shri Arahnath were born at Hastinapur.

Sumeru Parvat Complex
To Sumeru Parvat
Top view from Sumeru Parvat
Sumeru Parvat distant view
The main attraction of Hastinapur is ‘Jambu Dweep’ with ‘Sumeru Parvat’, ‘Teen lok rachna’, ‘Meditation Temple’ and ‘Kamal Temple’ in its premises. According to Jain and Vedic scriptures the Sumeru Parvat (101 ft. high) is considered as the most scared and the highest mountain in the whole universe.

Inside Meditation Temple
Terahdweep Jinalaya is the prominent centre of attraction of Jambudweep. It represents the whole universe with 13 dweeps of Madhyalok (Middle Universe), 458 golden natural temples, 5 golden merus, 170 Samavsarans, various dev-bhavans, ocean, rivers, mountains, bhogbhumis etc. Due to reflection it was very difficult to click the image of this beautiful structure which is first of its kind in the world.

“Teen lok rachna” is another marvelous structure of Jambudweep campus. It consists Adholok (7 hells), Madhya lok (with island and oceans) and Urdhvalok (16 heavens). This lift-fitted building charges 10 Rs to its visitors.

Inside Teen Lok Rachna

Besides this I have also seen few other huge temples in the surrounding area but since I covered Jambudweep first and I was getting late for Mahabharata sites so I decide to call off till my next visit.

Jain Temple in Hastinapur
Another temple that I couldn't visit
Hastinapur Wild Life Santuary at the one side of the Jambudweep
Tip: Jambudweep have excellent residential facilities for pilgrims. Besides there are numbers of Dharamshala in close vicinity. Surrounded by thick forest it is a perfect week-end gateway or can be covered in a day tour if reached early.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tracing the ancient roots of Mahabharata in space and time: Hastinapur, Part 1 (Vedic Religion)

Two greatest epic of our nation Ramayana and the Mahabharata, touches our soul and lives in many ways. Most of us grew with these stories of extraordinary courage, dedication, truth, betrayal and victory of good over bad. These stories have all aspects of life. So, completely fascinated by these epics I decided to trace the marks of Mahabharata in our time.

Going through various sites on net I tried to learn more about Hastinapur, one of the greatest kingdoms of ancient India. King Santanu who married to Goddess Ganga was the famous king of Hastinapur. After the death of the Santanu, Chitrangada became King of Hastinapura and he was succeeded by Vichitravirya. Vichitravirya had two sons, Dhritarashtra and Pandu. Dhritarashtra was born blind, therefore Pandu, the younger brother, ascended the throne.

Pandu did commit some mistake so he was forced to live into exile with his two wives Kunti and Madri. During their stay in forest, the two wives of Pandu, gave birth to five sons who became well known as the five Pandavas. Pandu passed away while they were still living in the forest. The sages brought up the five Pandavas during their early years.

After the death of Pandu, Dhritarashtra took over the rein and because of his blindness he was accompanied by his elders Bhisma, Guru Dronacharya and Guru Kirpacharya for day-to-day affairs related to kingdom. It is believed that Dhritarashtra had 100 sons who were known as Kauravas. The rivalry among Kauravas and Pandavas and the role of lord Krishna to justify the ‘truth’ and ‘dharma’ is all about the Mahabharata.
The Mahabharata discloses a rich civilization and a highly evolved society, which though of an older world, strangely resembles the India of our own time, with the same values and ideals.

Coming back to present, Hastinapur is situated between Merrut and Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. The NH-2 between Delhi and Merrut is a nightmare to drive. Most of the part is in pathetic condition and people living here have suicidal nature, so you actually need to equally watch the other side of the divider, because, a guy standing on other side of the road will suddenly start to walk and it is a mutual understanding between him and the drivers on the road, that he is not going to stop and it’s your responsibility to drive carefully. 
While reaching Merrut take the right side cut instead of toll booth that will go through bypass of Shastri Nagar. Take right turn from Mawana and from there a lush green route will lead to Hastinapur, some 40 km from Merrut.

Hastinapur is also said to be Kashi of Jain religion and today it is mainly visited by followers of Jainism and the locals of surrounding areas who came to see the well articulated temples of ‘Jambudeep’ and other temples, mainly for picnic purpose. However I’ll cover that in a separate part as it is not related to Mahabharata.

The first and foremost place of Mahabharata period is ancient “Pandaveshwar Mahadev Temple”.

Locals believe that it is the place where Pandavas came to worship the Lord Shiva. The place was later destroyed by Mughals, but the remains of Shivling are still there.

Remains of Shivling inside the temple
On the temple walls
 There is a Banyan tree inside the temple premise, which is said to be of same period. This place really has some strange feelings. It was feeling like Aleph, those who have read the latest book of Paulo Coelho’s “Aleph” can understand me. The temple is regularly visited by locals and they do pray here.

  Entire temple complex was surrounded by thick forest which is a part of Hastinapur national park. Locals are very scary of snakes which are in large number around the complex.

A few meters from here is the “Vidur kutir” and an ancient “Durga Devi Temple”.

The third place of that era is “Karn Temple”.

This temple is now trying to renovate by authorities. I talked to the priest of the temple and he was really disappointed by the way the ASI and state government is handling the issue. The priest “Shankar dev ji” told me that, till last year one person was used to hold the umbrella in order to perform the daily ritual due to heat and rain, as there was no roof on the temple.

Daily rituals and process of preserving our heritage is continued in silent manner
Finally UP Government made a room after continuous persuasion and the cost of this unfinished room on paper is more than Rs 12 lakh, thanks to their honesty and willingness to preserve our heritage.

Remains of Actual temple dome in nearby field
Till that I was getting late and priest warned me against the visit of “Draupadi Ghat” as it was in dense forest and the road was in bad condition due to rain. He also told me that there are places inside the forest where the Draupadi “cheer haran” was happened.
Since I was alone and it was already getting late so I started back thinking that who are the culprits of this negligence, the place which should be a great pilgrimage for Hindus are now well known because of Jainism.  Mughals did everything to ruin Hindu culture and so the British. But is it us? Who are not doing enough to protect our culture and heritage and one day it would only last in the pages of history.

Additional Info: Hastinapur Wild life Sanctuary is mentioned in most of the websites as a national park, and I was so excited that if I find a national park, that close to Delhi, then it would be my permanent week-end destination. But unfortunately the park is not open to public, although it contains a wide area joining Ghaziabad, Bijnor and other adjoining districts.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love (2010)

Director: Ryan Murphy

Screenplay: Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt

Star cast: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem and Richard Jenkins

Eat Pray Love is a story of a married woman, Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts), who realizes that how unhappy her marriage is, and her life needs to go in a different direction. After getting divorce and suffering in another relation she takes off on a round-the-world journey to find herself and peace of life. She goes to Italy, India and finally Bali (Indonesia) to get back herself after a series of experiences that she had during her journey.

Elizabeth Gilbert played by Julia Robert
The movie starts with the usual mid-life-crises that a couple faces and that sometimes results to painful divorce. After that she meets to a stage actor but that too didn't work out for her, leaving her alone and miserable. 

Getting Divorce with her husband Stephen
Her relation with David also didn't work
So God knows why she decides to go to Italy. During this journey the movie got some interesting moments that is worth sharing. 
Elizabeth meets to a girl who is also learning "Italian" and suggest her to learn from the same tutor. There is an interesting scene where an Italian friend of the tutor blames Elizabeth's miserable condition to her being an American, that they don't know how to enjoy the life and how to create a work-life balance. In Italy everybody is master of it and they call this "dolce far niente", the "sweetness of doing nothing".

They also correct the way Elizabeth is trying to learn the "Italian", as Italian is not only speak through words rather by hands.

After having a great time In Italy and an enriching feeling of what it means to being with family, Elizabeth's journey continues to India in search of peace and spirituality.The introduction of India is very typical as a land of slum and poverty as described in many Hollywood movies.Nevertheless she joins an "Ashram" and try to find her inner peace in the chant of "shlokas" and Hindu rituals. 

Here she meets to Richard from Texas, USA and learns an important lesson to stay here till she would be able to forgive herself. What we try is to seek the forgiveness of others, in order to move forward, but it is more important and difficult to forgive self. 
From here she moves to her final destination Bali, Indonesia, where she meets a spiritual Guru 'Ketut' who
teaches her the most important aspect of life that "sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living balanced life". 

She met a guy in Bali, first she gets fall in love with him then decides to walk out, but somehow with her all good intention she decides to lose balance in order to find her love of life.

So, the climax goes with her own words: "In the end I have come to believe in something I call “the Physics of the Quest”. A force in nature is governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments and set out on a truth-seeking journey either externally or internally and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared most of all to face and forgive some very realities about yourself then the truth will not withheld from you."

The End