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.



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