Continuing my account of travelling in Ujjain….
Gadkalika temple is the temple which Kalidasa, used to pray when in Ujjain and we believe that this is where Devi wrote on Kalidasa’s tongue “asti kaschit vag vis’eshah” and turned him from a total ignoramus to to the world greatest sanskrit dramatist a gem of Vikramaditya’s court and a standard for similies. Some archaeological studies have been conducted here.
Sandeepani Ashram is where little Krishna and Balarama went to school after finishing off Kamsa and Chanura, in Mathura and freeing their parents Devaki and Vasudeva from their house arrest. There is temple of Mahakaleshwar there with a standing Nandi in the front of the temple. When the king of Ujjain (Avantika), Mahakaleshwar, (Siva) stood up to greet little Krishna who was joining Sandeepani’s asrama, Nandi stood up too. There is a tank where Sri Krishna used to wash his slate as a student.
To be in a place where yugandhara Sri Krishna actually went to school was something that so overwhelmed my mind that my eyes brimmed over. There is no avataar as perfect as Krishna and no human as accomplished as him and no human brain that can completely comprehend everything that he knew and accomplished. This is where Krishna walked and sat, listened to his teacher, met Mahakaleshwar and actually washed his slate! I settled right there in the Mandir. The priest noticed my tears and gave me a ‘banthi poovu” as prasad and I have that flower saved with me till today. As I sat there, with tears in my eyes a small little boy toddled up, ignoring his family and looking only at me and laughing.. willing me to laugh.. It was too much. To me that was Krishna and if your buddhi tells you different.. that’s your deal. On this matter, I am quite settled in my manas and buddhi. I could not stop looking at that laughing playful child and the priest was kind enough not to rush me out.
When I could finally look up, the priest suggested I look at the tank and other places and come back. He also said that he hoped to get a job in Bangalore one day and that he had a western as well as Vedic education. He was waiting for God to give him an opportunity to come and live in today’s Ujjain ie Bangalore!
At the this huge water tank filled with water, the feeling was so intense that I lay down on the steps, unable and unwilling to move. The only thought was Krishna, Krishna. And I felt that this is how death probably feels, when you are totally one with Krishna and yet somewhat conscious of yourself but of nothing else. If I am right, death is nothing to be afraid of.
The Big Ganapati Mandir, not only houses Ganesha and Hanuman, but has a little cradle which you can swing. In that cradle is little Krishna and the feeling is awesome again, I took two turns at doing this. It feels like you are really swinging baby Krishna.
On the next day I managed to locate the Vikram Arti Mandir, opposite Kalidas Gate, but it was closed on Sundays. Unablle to find any infor on Raja Vikramaditya, I waited for several hours at the lovely Kalidas Academy for a professor to show up, but when he finally arrived, he had no time. Who will give time and money to a middle-aged individual researcher with no organisation to back her? However I did find out that they have a very decent library and facilities. One book of interest that I located was about Veda mantras, science and not science by Jayant Burde.. which I shall have to find again and read some day. It had some interesting ideas. Also every Kalidas birthday Kartika Sukla Paksha Ekadasi, they have major cultural events, plays etc. I missed it this time but may be will make it next year? Kalidas willing!
Luckily on my return walk from the academy, I ran into an auto driver who promised that he knew where Janthar Manthar and Vikramaditya Temple were and that he would take me to both places and a few more for Rs 250/-, no time limit. So we set off and he picked up his lovely 6th standard daughter, Payal, to show her the places too.
Khalda Mahal (Kaliadeh Palace) is a place with a lot of water tanks that does not match the tourist brochure description of a palace floating on the waters. There is a Surya mandir on the other side, which looks typically like a dilapitated muslim building built over an ancient hindu structure in which a clean white marble image of Surya Narayana stands. I bowed to Surya and did my pradakshina and took a walk around. The automan, a Karan Thakur, surprised me by buying me a cup of tea made in a chulha powered by a hand turned metal fan. AWESOME design.., have to discuss with my prof. when I run into him. I missed my camera. I have never seen such a device in the south and I felt very happy.
Janthar Manthar is a place which many local auto chaps and taxi drivers do not know about and Karan had to hunt for it for a bit. Once we found it, I told Karan that he should bring his daughter into Janthar Manthar and not wait outside and I sponsored their entry fee. Once there I tried figuring out how all the devices worked and worked out most of them. The peon-guide there only knows the very easy basics and couldn’t touch my questions. I tried my best explaining my ideas to Karan and Payal. Karan appreciated my valiant efforts and Payal ran up and down the sundial.. but that was about it. I was trying to figure out one of the instruments at the back, when a young lady asked me in Hindi, what I was upto. I said I was trying to understand the device and she asked me to tell her at least as much as I had figured out, even though I told her that I hadn’t got it completely figured out. When I tried explaining to her in my halting Hindi, I found that a minor crowd had gathered trying to make sense of my efforts to make sense of the construction and one nice old lady told me that what I was looking at was a sun-dial and would not be convinced otherwise.
At that time I realised how much people give value to even the smallest bits of truth they find, how much they want to know and how scarce accurate information is. And I realised that the people who gather round this Ancient Indians site are like that crowd that day at janthar manthar, trying to make sense of my efforts to make sense of the bits and pieces of data that I have gathered. They know I dont yet have all the answers and yet they are interested to give me a hearing and see if anything which I have found is of any use to them. And I also realised how great my work of the past two years has been – digging away for the truth and sharing it in simple words with the world at large at no cost at all. On that day in Ujjain, I gave myself a standing ovation in my own mind and heart. I truly appreciated the value of my efforts, my struggle and my generosity with my time and knowledge! Jai Satya! And as everyone knows that is the toughest and hardest thing for anyone to get – one’s own appreciation.
Char Dham Mandir has all the deities of the 4 important dhams of the north and an ISKCON style animated puppet tableau display of many important events from Krishna’s life and the puranas. Payal was so delighted with the life size puppets especially when Krishna shook his hand or head. And I realised that what adults might think is childish or even corny is an actual delight to a small child. By this time Payal was learning to trust me a little and honoured me by holding my hand.
Raja Vikramaditya at last.
Karan located an image of Raja Vikramaditya which I bowed to .. but did not feel was quite right. Not the right place. He then did some more locating and found a place near the lake between Mahakaleshwar and Hari Siddhi Mandir where there was a temple to Vikramaditya. This was the very place I was looking for and waiting to see for so long. I knew it was right as soon as I entered the place. After bowing to Durga Devi and admiring the pictures of the navaratnas of Raja Vikramaditya’s court and bowing to the Guru who had located this place after his narmada parikrama, I finally bowed to Raja Vikramaditya.
I told him about my efforts with my research and the absence of a patron such as himself. I told him that I was at the end of my tether and that Kalidasa may never have composed all his great works, without the backing of a king like himself. I asked him to send me my patron. I told him that we don’t have any Kshatriyas in the country like himself. There are any number of traders, any number of people in the service industry and a great deal of people involved in adhyatmic studies. But no kshatriyas. No kings. No one like Vikramaditya, Arjuna and Krishna. The young men of Indian need a role model like Vikramaditya. And I sat down right there in front of him.
The priest then took an interest in me and told me a lot of stuff. I told him that I wanted to see in Ujjain, a large palace that would look as it did in Vikramaditya’s time. That I would only have to step into it to be transported back into the time when Vikramaditya ruled. The priest then told me that their samithi was trying to make such a building/temple/palace thing but a court case was on and they had to reach a settlement with the government. He asked me who I was and I said I was a housewife. And then he wanted to know who my husband was and where he was. By this point in my piligrimage, I was feeling a bit like the Devi herself and told him that my husband was waiting for me in Hari Siddhi Mandir.
Hari Siddhi Mandir
I made 2 trips to Hari Siddhi Mandir, which is a Sakthi Peetham. The first with Payal, (who was starting to feel like Lakshmi Devi to me by now) and I could feel the tremendous sakthi of the place, as I have never sensed before. At this time I saw 3 men climb to the top of the 2 lamp towers in front of the temple and fill all the lamps with oil and wicks. I hung around the shops waiting for aarati time and went back armed with a copy of the sukla yajur veda translations, at aarati time. Then I saw the amazing process of lamp lighting where the three men again climbed to the top of the lamp towers and climbed down lighting all the lamps on their way down. I had never seen such an activity or such faith before.
There is something of the faith in the north that is so total. So unadulterated with thought, reason or caution. The bhakthi of the south is touched with scholarship and gnyanam. The bhakthi of the north is untouched by anything but bhakthi. You cannot but help stop and admire them for this. Awesome!
For the first time in my life, I saw a lady in a trance moving about to the rythym of the ringing bells and beautiflu aarati and as I went for my second darshan of Sati Devi, Adi Sakthi, I myself was being transformed into a happy person, with my manas and buddhi and deha melting into one and feeling that I was in the right place, doing the right thing in the here and now.
Karan picked me up on time at 7 pm to drop me back at the hotel and we made arrangements that he should pick me up the next morning, karthika somavaram, suklapaksha dasimi, to show me mahakaal once more and then drop me at the bus stand so that I could go to omkareshwar and visit two jyotirlingas on the same karthika somavaram. I had a wonderful second visit to the temple had another darshan of mahakaleshwar, juna mahakaleshwar and kalpeshwar and took leave of the priest who had told me about paataala bhairavi.
And giving Karan a small gift to books and sweets for Payal, I was off to Indore and from there to Omkareswar.
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