Bangloreans behave in the rest of India, as Americans in the rest of the world or people of the first foundation in the rest of the galaxy. Confidently and with pride. Polite but recognising one’s own value and power. Bangalore today is what Ujjain once was. A happening place. A glamourous place. A now place. Where Raja Narayanamurthi and his 9 (+/-) gems have transformed the sleepy retirement cantonment of British India into an actual capital of the Karnataka state. Where high education western or vedic is easily available and is advanced.
While bangloreans with a thing for the magical past head to Ujjain, Ujjainis with a thing for the magical present want to move here.
Getting There :
I took a second class train from Pipariya to Ujjain. And it was not overcrowded. In fact it was very comfortable and I had a young electronics engineering student from Bhopal as a co-passenger. He was full of questions relating to electronic and computer science and it was fun talking technology to him after what was a very long time for me.
The train was stuck between two stations without any power for quite a while and I had a view of the night sky with lots of stars which I incorrectly and very happily assumed was the milky way. The train was late and I arrived at midnight and had an auto take me to the Ujjain Shipra Residency (MP Tourism) where I stayed. By now I had acquired the habit of calling ahead to the place where I was going and giving them details of how I was reaching. So that some one could worry if I did not show. The hotel was nice.. but they had a big nosiy show going on for 2 nights out of 3, with bad singers singing bad songs at unbearable decibel levels…
Ujjain is on the banks of Shipra river and not Narmada. The only reason I went there was that it is Ujjain! For Mahakal, Janthar Manthar, for pataala bhairavi and Raja Vikramaditya!
I walked from the hotel to the temple through the streets of Ujjain.
Within the Mahakal temple there are two Mahakaleshwars.
Juna Mahakaleswar is the Siva Linga worshipped by Raja Vikramaditya said to be swayambhu. Mahakaleshwar the Jyotirlinga was a pratishtha by Vikramaditya according to one priest and by a later king according to some other people.
The jyotirlinga is always rushed as in Srisailam or in Gokarna. A fleeting darsanam is what you get unless you go in for some of the major procedures. The temple is full of several other Sivalingas which are of easy access and where Shipra river water is kept for abhishek purpose. No one asks you for money unless you go in for an elaborate procedure. The most interesting Siva Lingas in my ranking were kalpa-eswar, karkata-eswar, bruhaspati-eswar, the nava-graha eswars, (and the mangala-eswar at mangal nath). As you may have noticed all these have astronomical names and the main deity is maha-kala-eswar, the master of time itself.
My mind (buddhi) thinks that the reason that Vikramaditya did the pratishtha of a new Mahakaleswar may have been for a longitude correction, possibly advised by Varahamihira or someone of his level. I have read fleetingly that Mangalnath for example afford a good view of Mars on some special occasion.
I did not get any divine feeling in the Mahakaleswar temple, possibly owing to my own inner distractions or the external distractions of the huge crowd. There was a young priest at the Kalpeswar, who told me that the Kalpeswar Siva Linga is anaadi, existed before creation and is where Siva settled after he was fed up of the Brahma Vishnu conflict. I told him that in the south we believe that Arunachaleswar (Tamil Nadu), is the pillar of light converted into a mountain. He was quite interested in my story too. This young priest also told me that he got not much time for Veda Avismaran and that he was studying the karmakanda even as he minded the devotees each with their own versions of Siva worship in his little temple within Mahakaal. He told me to go see pataala bhairavi. Having previously worked out that pataala bhairavi might be near mandsaur, (See Ravana’s in-laws : Mandsaur District Madhya Pradesh) I was very excited at the idea that there wasa possible location in Ujjain.
Gopal Mandir :
I was directed here by a muslim man, who told me with considerable local pride that all temples here in ujjain were ancient. There is an interesting story about the silver door here that was stolen, recovered and re-installed in the days of the kings.
Mahalaya, Mahamaya temples :
Even though I have enjoyed a holiday on mahalaya amavasya every year of my life, I never knew there was an actual devi here. I was blessed by the priest using some peacock feathers. It was a nice and new experience.
Kaala Bhairava :
Kaala Bhairava is worshipped with alcohol and purusha suktham. A heady combination I would think. Kaala Bhairava’s brother Vikranth presides over the Cemetery (smasasnam or shamshaan ghat). The temple was a little under water and I was not in wading mood so I did not visit it.
Jai Paataala Bhairavi :
In the videoclip below from the movie pataala bhairavi.. take a look at the bit that starts at 04:17. In that Sakthi gives directions to the Nepala Mantrikudu (played by the master actor S.V. Ranga Rao), about the location of Patala Bhairavi. “Ujjainiki uttaraana (to the north of Ujjain), yojanagiri simalona, mantraala marri chettu kinda.. bhU garbhamlo yaksha nikshiptamayinadi).
The locals figure that paatala bhairavi is the underground bhairavi chakram where Vikramaditya and others meditated. It is near the kaala bhairava temple and within the prakaaras. The local priest said that there was no Sakthi called pataala bhairavi in tantric texts, and he was fed up of all the movie fans showing up at kaala bhairava and demanding to see this magical place.
There is a 2 foot by 2 foot square entrance to a set of steep steps in a completely dark cave that leads to this Bhairavi. Terrified to go alone, I waited at the entrance and phoned a friend to see if he knew anything about this place. But it was not so. After a while 2 boys emerged from the cave. I asked them to wait till I went in and came back and one of the kids offered to go again with me holding his cell phone to light the way.
It was a wonderful experience to go into the cave by cell phone torch light and have a darshan of Bhairavi Devi and Siva. It was a real trick coming out too. Thanks to the kids.
Bharthruhari Caves :
We know Bhartruhari from his outstanding subhashitas. I was told that he is the brother of Raja Vikramaditya and these were the caves he inhabited after his vairagyam. You need a torch for these caves too. It is quite fun as long as you keep away from some of the babas that live here.
Where did Raja Vikramaditya meet Bhetala? at Siddhavat of course. This was also the place where Parvathi Devi planted that very same Aswattha tree, you see today and anointed Skanda for his battle with Tarakasura. After the battle Kumaraswami, Karthikeya, Skanda dissolved his Sakthi weapon in the Shipra River and made it holy.
My mind (buddhi) points out that Vetala Bhatta was one of the 9 gems of King Vikramaditya’s court. It is possible that the basis of the Vikramaditya and Bhetala stories, were really based on an ongoing dialogue/debate between Vikrama and Vetala bhatta on many days and on many subjects. Finally Vikaram managed to persuade Vetala Bhatta to join his court!!
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