DEAR DIVINE SOULS

Your invaluable footprints on my blog are blessings to me by Almighty. Thanks a lot.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi, Where Death is Celebrated


Table of Contents of MAHA YATRA : Kashi and Kumbh 2013

1. Mumbai to Varanasi : Views of Narmada and Ganga
2. Dasaswamedh Ghat and Naga Sadhus, Varanasi
3. Nepali Temple, Lalita Ghat : Varanasi
4. Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Visalakshi Shaktipeeth , Varanasi
5. Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi , Where Death is Celebrated
6. Narrow Lanes of Varanasi
7. Kalbhairav Temple, Varanasi
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Dear Divine Souls,

After visiting Kashi Vishwanath temple I proceeded towards the most important and largest ghat of Varanasi called Manikarnika Ghat through narrow lanes of Varanasi.

One of the most unique aspects of Varanasi City is cremation of dead bodies at Manikarnika Ghat. Tourists all over the world only come to see this ritual at this Maha Shamsana. Here dead bodies are brought with joy and fervor with bands, drums and  trumpets in a procession with the shouts of words RAM NAAM SATYA HAI  chorused by everyone in the group . It is said that whoever is cremated at Manikarnika ghat does not get next birth . He straight way gets liberated for the cycles of life and birth. The reason is stated in legends associated with Manikarnika Ghat.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 


Manikarnika Ghat Legend

It is said that Lord Shiva gave Lord Vishnu a boon, that whoever dies here in the great city of Kashi would be liberated from the endless bonds of birth and death and his soul would find eternal long lasting peace. And so these cremation grounds were no longer looked down as sign of being impure or unholy places. Instead  they were now considered to be one of the final destinations  in the journey to being getting liberated. Here in Manikarnika ghat, Lord Shiva roams and utters Tarak Mantra in the ears of newly departed soul which releases him  from the cycles of the birth and death.

The Manikarnika ghat in the past was where only the royals were cremated while the Harishchandra ghat was for the common people . There is a sacred pond at the Manikarnika Ghat, called the Manikarnika Kund. Manikarnika Kund is said to be dug by Lord Vishnu at the time of creation of this world. It is believed that Lord Shiva has dropped his ear rings near this during his transcendental dance and hence the name 'Manikarnika' is given which means 'jewelled ear ring'. Some legends say that Lord Shiva dropped his ear ring while roaming with Devi Parvati.

When one starts to see the piles of wooden logs on both the sides of narrow lanes of Varanasi , Manikarnika Ghat is nearby.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Logs of wood near Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 
I reached Manikarnika ghat in around  10 minutes and straight away went to a high platform from where entire rituals of cremation of dead bodies and whole city of Varanasi along Ganges can be witnessed. Huge piles of wood are kept every empty space on this ghat.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi from top 
Beware : Local priests may charge some fee especially to foreigners to see and explain the ritual. This is absolutely unnecessary.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi 
Every Hindu in Varanasi aspires to be cremated at Manikarnika after death as it is believed that cremation here is a guarantee of liberation. Nevertheless it's a very costly affair for many and not everyone can afford it. So the Harishchandra ghat is where most would end up. Charges of cremating a person ranges from Rs. 5000 to 7000.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 
One more astonishing thing is that fire in Manikarnika ghat has never stopped in the past, is going on now while I am writing and while you are reading and will never stop in future . 24/7, Every Month, Every Year from Centuries this ghat is lit with a burning pyre of someone which gives the proof that this creation , maintenance and destruction is a continuous everlasting process.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
 Cremation ritual going on in Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 
There are many temples in surrounding places of the cremation ground the main ones being a Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple and a place which marks Lord Vishnu's feet.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
 Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi  : Temples 
I had good view from top for around 10 minutes experiencing and feeling the calmness and divinity of this serene place with views of Kashi around the Ganges with sun shining brightly.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi , A view of Kashi around Ganges 
I came down to meet another Naga Sadhu seeking blessings from Lord  in this blissful place.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Naga Sadhu at Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 
Nearby the ghats is the Manikarnika Kund where Lord Shiva's ear ring is lost. One can have a bath here .


Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Manikarnika Kund at Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 
Finally I came down at the place where actual cremation and rituals for dead body are performed and where fire is lit. Although death is associated here , I felt quite normal in the given circumstances which is not true when I go to any other cremation ground.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Creamtion Ground at Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 
Effects of Kaliyuga at Manikarnika Ghat

Though this place has very great spiritual importance and all the priests, family members of the dead, cremation workers working there knows the importance of this great place,  I found lot of people attached to extensive materialism here. Priests demand for huge sum of money for final rites. Most of the Cremation Workers, boatmen  who carry the bodies and arrange wood are drunk. Poor people who can't afford are not allowed. Cremation here has become business. I have heard that if many bodies come at once , half burnt bodies are thrown in Ganges after the family leave the place finishing the rituals.Scavengers are present here to grab the things and money kept with the body while cremating.  The worst thing associated with this ghat is pollution of Ganges. Remaining ashes of the body, decayed flowers , plastic, half burnt wood and sometimes half burnt body is thrown in Ganga . A PATHETIC SIGHT !

In the cremation area there is not even a single clean place where one can stand without hesitation. Everywhere its dirty.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Pollution at Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 

Pollution at Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi 
Thus by witnessing all the places in Manikarnika I once again come inside the complex lanes of Varanasi in Godowlia to move towards my next destination called Kaalbhairav Temple.

I had once again come to this ghat in my boat ride in afternoon. Have a look at the pictures.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi from a boat
Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
 Boats in Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi are too loaded with loaded
A picture of Manikarnika Ghat of 1880 taken from net is shown below. Just have a look at it and notice  that cleanliness is maintained at that time when there were no machines and other aids. Even under British Raj under heavy taxes the ghat area was maintained to highest level. And with so much modern amenities , funds and loans from World Bank, NGOs and devotees shouting the pollution here is maximum.

Manikarnika Ghat , Varanasi
Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi :  A picture taken in 1880  
Here I come to an end of my post on Manikarnika Ghat . Coming up with " Narrow Lanes Of Varanasi"  in next one . Till then ,

Jai Bhole. 
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Table of Contents of MAHA YATRA : Kashi and Kumbh 2013

1. Mumbai to Varanasi : Views of Narmada and Ganga
2. Dasaswamedh Ghat and Naga Sadhus, Varanasi
3. Nepali Temple, Lalita Ghat : Varanasi
4. Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Visalakshi Shaktipeeth , Varanasi
5. Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi , Where Death is Celebrated
6. Narrow Lanes of Varanasi
7. Kalbhairav Temple, Varanasi
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29 comments:

  1. The pollution is appalling. Death can be indeed expensive!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Death is expensive . It is not easy even to die now .

      Delete
  2. As Always Very Nice Post with detailed description alongwith good picture of Manikarnika Ghat....
    I never been Varanasi.. soon in future...
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ritesh ,

      Thats great it is the holiest city of hindus so you should go

      Delete
  3. Brilliant post Vishal! Nice narration and photographs.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in/2013/04/the-waterfalls-of-thusharagiri.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very important information and Live site shots of Manikarnika Place on Ganga Ghat.
    Thanks Vishal,
    I will be there at Kashi-Prayag on 16 & 17th of Next Month.Definitely your information on Kashi,Prayag will help me to understand better.
    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pandurang jee ,

      Thanks for going through and commenting . If you require any help about Kashi please feel free to call me.

      Delete
  5. Wow Vishal, that was an eye-opener of a post. Ganga is probably one of the most polluted rivers in our country. Very sad and appalling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ganga is purest river at its source Malini. Yes its very sad to see Ganga Maiyya in that state.

      Delete
  6. I'm glad you avoided snapping actual cremations - tourists in the boats don't, and it's disrespectful. Brings back fond memories of walking the ghats
    last January.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Many times I tried to snap those cremations to show the people in this post but my inner conscience at that time didn't allow me to do it. Thank God. Thanks for going through and commenting.

      Delete
  7. Replies
    1. Yes one of the great spiritual places which grant liberation

      Delete
  8. so sad to see the pathetic state of affairs for the river we call Maa...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I recently went for a cremation on the banks of Yamuna in Vrindavan and the plight was the same! Looking at ur post, I wonder i missed capturing it, but it was the cremation of a relative so taking shots wud'v raised some eyebrows.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shaivi ,

      I didn't shoot the actual cremation rituals. I was just near the fire and trying to feel the divinity of the place. And after that I shot some pictures near by . Thanks for going through and commenting .

      Delete
  10. I haven't come across such a detailed description anywhere else, Vishal. Accept congrats for that! Every place that catches the fancy of people bears the burden of importance in terms of pollution and decline. Mount Everest is a striking example. What appals me is that even religious fervour and belief in sacredness is not enough to inspire people to maintain the sanctity of the place. What blessings one would drive out of such disrespect shown to deity and temples. And those priests and workers - are they immune to karma or they just know their hollowness.

    One question - do they lit pyres after evenings?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Meenakshi for reading the post on one of the most important places of Varanasi. There are many such disastrous and irreligious activities going on in the main Kashi Vishwanath temple and Manikarnika ghat in this era that I have not mentioned here . My sole intention here is to help pure devotees guide them in Kashi Yatra and make them beware of such things happening . Materialism or Maya is present so much that even though having so much knowledge the priests don't implement it on personal basis.

      And Yes they light pyres in evenings also. Although this cremation ghat is very huge there is always queue of bodies present. Whenver one walks in lanes continuously dead bodies arrive here not from Varanasi but also from different cities of India.

      Delete
  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for going through and leaving your footprints on my blog.

      Delete
  12. last wala net se mila kya bhai ? nice snaps !! ye kund ka mereko idea nahi tha ...!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well this kund is one of most important places in Varanasi. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. To be surrounded at all sides by wood pyres would be such an eerie feeling. And to know that the fire never goes out - at any given point of time, there's always someone being cremated - that's such a "goosebump" kind of feeling too. It's sad how even after death, we end up contributing to polluting the planet. You've done a lot of work in putting it all together, with detailed descriptions and pictures. I would have said nice work, except death is so depressing! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Deepa for leaving your footprints here in form of such a lovely comment. Actually as mentioned Death is celebrated here as it is believed that one attains salvation.

      Delete

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