Sunday, February 18, 2007


2/16/2007 6:01:25 AM Dr. A. M. C. Menon

At two in the morning, the first sight of Allahabad railway station ,after fifty hours of hectic journey in the train, was revolting. Scattered all along the rough and uneven platform were human bodies, dark and depleted, scantily clad in filthy rags and almost nude ,deep in sleep, breathing the dense foul air ; reminding one of emperor Ashoka, who stood in the middle of lifeless bodies of blood shed Kalinga , which changed him totally and took to Buddhism. It took some time to gather our belongings and get out of the station as we had to be careful not to tread on them while passing over. Outside, it was lively with all sorts of transports; rickshaws ,cycle rickshaws ,autos ,old beaten cars and the like and the drivers inviting and persuading; but they were disappointed when we were driven away in a bus.

The night was hot and sticky and even in the early hours of the day the temperature did not change much to our comfort. This is supposed to be the best climate in North India, from September to December; you can imagine how it will be in the summer. At the sight of Ganga every body started running to the banks in pure admiration, faith and worship ; they took the holy water in both hands and placed it on their heads submitting themselves to the divine sublime.

Thriveni Sangamam is the union of our three holy rivers; Ganga , Yamuna and Saraswathy. We were taken in a boat to the place where Ganga joins Yamuna and underneath the surging and gurgling Saraswathy.The force of Saraswathy you can feel when you take the dip; she brings up the earth underneath and the water is thicker and once in twelve years (Kumbhamela) she is really at large and the holy union attires a dark red colour. Millions flow in here for this special occasion; it is a real festival for the Indians; and the huge water tanks kept specially for this purpose of providing water for them may not be sufficient, we were told. One dip in Thriveni washes away all your sins in the past; the second is good for the forefathers and the diseased and the third one purifies you physically and spiritually.

Sankaracharya Temple situated on the banks of Ganga is a pleasant sight from the river, a unique structure in three floors. Adi Sankara hailing from Kalady of Kerala is known for his impeccable knowledge of Vedas, Upanishads and Geetha and travelled all over India in quest and his theory of ADWAITHA is well accepted and adored all over the world; and he was adjudged triumphant of the Sarvangyana Peedam. Mahakavi Vallathole portrays his picture in the poem “Malayalathinte Thala” as a true, traditional Indian and a solitary star of his time whose name will be cherished for thousands of years. Adi Sankara will be the pride of Malayalees, as well as Indians for ages to come. Kapalikan, in need of heads of Sarvangyanas for his ambitious scheme of getting entrance to the heaven with his soul and body, approaches Sankaracharya and requests to submit his head for this rare purpose. Adi Sankara did not think twice and welcomed the idea. Kapalikan was surprised but no change was noticed in the usual wind flowing in the Himalayas; the branches of the trees swayed in appreciation and the rivers resumed their songs of holiness because they have heard this voice before. They have witnessed many such scenes in the past ! The story of Jeemutha vahana letting him elf be eaten by the eagle for the life of a snake is well known. Maharaja Shibi cut his thighs and body muscles and supllied to a vulture in order to save the life of a pigeon. Yet another Maharaja sacrificed his life by accepting all the sorrows bestowed on others so that they could live in peace. Karna took out his ‘Kavachas’ and ‘kundalas’ and granted to the needy and accepted defeat and death in the hands of Arjuna. The stories are much more. It is the inherited gift of an Indian to honour his guest and cater to his requirements and, at times , even stake his life for the ‘ARTHI’. Sankaracharya told him to take away his head when his disciples are not around.
That evening, as Sankaracharya was deep in meditation and others were engaged in ‘Sandhya Vandanam’ , Kapaplikan approached him from behind with his ‘thrisul’ aimed at the neck. Sankaracharya heard a wild cry and opened his eyes ; Kapalikan was at his feet bathed in blood and his pupil Sanandanan who killed him was bowing in reverence as he said “ Swamin, that divine head of yours is good enough to make this whole world a ‘KAILASAM’, it shouldn’t be used for the benefit of a selfish creature."
We stood there in worship of Shiva at the temple; Sankaracharya was an ardent worshipper of Shiva; feeling the caressing hands of ‘MOKSHA’ and behind, we had the expanse of Ganga and still ahead, Thriveni Sangamam.

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