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History and Significance of Kumbh Mela

16 May, 2016

Kumbh Mela, the spectacle of Bharteeya (Indian) tradition. The tradition that for centuries has left its beholder awed by its grand act of belief and faith. If one wants to see what faith in the sublime can make humanity do, then surely Kumbh Mela is their destination. The way millions and millions of people converge at one place, all tied by their belief in the Supreme, can make one seriously question the profoundness of their faith. And the answer to that can be found only in the experience, first-hand-experience of Simhastha.

It all started way back, way way back. In the Puranas (mythology) of Bharatha, story goes as follows –

Once upon a time, Devas (the benevolent supernatural beings) and Asuras (the supposedly maleficent supernatural beings) conjointly decided to help each other in churning a milky ocean (Samudra Manthan, where samudra is ocean and manthan is act of churning) in a certain dimensions of cosmos to obtain a most prized reward of the Transcendence, the divine nectar. The nectar, that will leave its consumer immortal.

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So, for 1000 years ,they churned the ocean using a mountain Mandara as churning rod and serpent king, Vasuki as churning rope. Eventually, a goddess named Dhanvantari appeared out of the ocean with a pot (Kumbh/ Kalash) of nectar. Devas believed handling of such powerful energy needs to be done wisely or else it could bring catastrophe, which Asuras are incapable of. And, so, they took the nectar away in order to save it falling in the wrong hands, and elopes with the Kumbh . Asuras chased after Devas . They ran to protect the nectar for 12 continuous years. And, in all these chaos of chasing and running , they accidentally spilled 4 priceless drops of nectar on 4 different places on earth.

The places today are known by the names Prayag ( at the confluence of three most sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati), Haridvar ( on the banks of Ganga), Ujjain( on the banks of river Kshipra) and Nasik (on the banks of river Godavari) . The divine nectar made the cities mystically powerful.

And in order to benefit from and celebrate the divine powers of mystical energy, Kumbh Mela were started to be held at regular intervals of twelve years (normal kumbh mela is held every 3 years, ardha{half} kumbh mela is held every 6 years).

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Ancient Vedic manuscripts offers a very different and, surprisingly, astronomical perspective which should be very unlikely for that era.Their way aligns the occurrence of Kumbh with positions of celestial bodies in relevance to the constellations they are in. According to Vedic manuscripts, when Brihaspati/ Guru (Jupiter) is in constellation Simha (Leo) and Surya (Sun) is in constellation Mesha (Aries) or when the three of them are in Libra, in the month of Vaishakha (April-May), it marks the beginning of Makar Sankranti and the onset of the sublimely divine festival of spirituality, namely Kumbh Mela in Ujjain.

This is the proof of genius of Bharatha. At the dawn of civilization, they raised their consciousness to cosmic level and aligned their life with the ways of “heavenly” bodies, representing nature of supreme consciousness.

There have been mentions of Kumbh Mela, since time immemorial of ancient Bharatha but , it’s only in the 7th century BCE, during the era of Hrashavardhana (c.590-647), that first written records of Kumbh Mela were found in the works of Chinese Buddhist traveler Hieun-Tsang .

Kumbh Mela is marked by many rituals, mainly, the dips in the scared waters of land of Bharatha. It is believed, the dips in those sacred waters, synced with the alignment of heavenly bodies, opens a window in time for soul to attain celestial world of Devas and wash off their sins. Clean karmic

records ensures liberation from the vicious cycles of life and death, thus the attainment of Nirvana/Moksha/ Enlightenment, as per the beliefs and principals of Vedic philosophy.

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Ujjain, call it Avantika, Avantikapuri or Avanti Nagari . As mentioned, one of the four greatest and significant cities of ancient Bharatha that has repeatedly witnessed the act of faith of humanity. And , this time in 2016 it is no different. Devotees, sadhus (saints) from every corner of modern India come together to be in this ancient feat of traditions. Ujjain, during the Kumbh Mela becomes the melting pot of steaming spirituality. Naga Sadhus (followers of Siva) with their dread locks and ash smeared bodies and Vaishnava vairagis (followers of Vishnu) could be seen receiving and offering blessings. This is an example of age old traditions retained in the times of modernity.

The Land of Bharatha, Madhya Pradesh in many ways, is truly blessed with the historical virtues and modern thinking. No amount of written or spoken words can truly describe Kumbh Mela. It is only the experience of traveling to M.P and seeing the entire grandeur of Kumbh Mela with one’s own eyes that can make true and deep satisfaction to be felt by one’s soul, mind and body.

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