Saturday, February 5, 2011

Journeying through The Ramayana Day 8 & 9 @ Allahabad & Sringiberapuram

Day 8 on the way to Allahabad

Journeying with a heavy heart from Janakpuri, leaving our little newly married daughter behind, we began our journey to the holiest of cities in India - Allahabad. I had heard so much about this Sangamam of three great rivers that I eagerly awaited the experience.  

Sleeping fitfully, we stopped early morning at a field to wash up. Ready to face the long day of travel that lay ahead of us   Lunch was served at a petrol bunk. We reached Allahabad towards 10.30 pm that night. We had a late dinner and went to sleep in a large common hall.

Day 9 @ At The Triveni Sangam

The Triveni Sangam is one of the most hallowed. We woke up early at 4 am to go by auto to Triveni Sangam. When we reached the banks of the Ganges, what we saw before us was one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen! It looked like the Ganges was a flowing molten gold. We breathed in the beauty of the whole scene and walked up to the river side. A large boat was engaged for us to reach the exact point in the middle of the river where the exact sangam takes place. At that exact point, the local authorities have built a wooden platform protected by 3 boats on the sides and ropes. 

Our boat ride itself was on the Ganges and we could see the smooth fast-flowing Yamuna, flowing from our right to merge her identity with the Ganges. Saraswati of course was unseen running as Antarvahini - as a current underneath. As we approached the Sangam, It occurred to me that all of us Jivatmas were unseen like the Saraswati - Powerful but often unfelt and forgotten. Yet we make attempts like the Yamuna, in this life time, to merge with the Lord who is all purifying and sublime like the Ganges. That Vaikuntam where we merged ourselves with the Lord, was this Triveni Sangamam! And I was right there!!!!  My tears and thoughts flowed into the Sangam as we descended on to the wooden platform at the Sangam, where the river water is about shoulder deep. All fear disappeared and the magnitude of this occasion took  over me. I could feel the fast moving  currents of all the 3 rivers as I bent low 3 times to bathe in the river. Its amazing to think that 3 of India's greatest rivers were right there carressing our bodies and touching our souls purifying us completely. Of all the sangams in Indian spiritual heritage this is by far the most important. We came back to the shore refreshed in body and soul.

Bharadwaj Ashram  

We left the Sangam with our hearts filled with joy, towards Bharadwaja Ashram. This ashram was the first ashram that Rama visited along with Sita and Lakshmana on his way into the forest. It was also the first ashram that he visited on his return to Ayodhya, after completing the 14 years of banishment.  

The Ashram itself is today in a busy market place. It is a beautiful red building with multiple shrines. The main shrine itself is that of Muni Bharadwaja. It is said that the Muni had more than 10,000 disciples.


Sringberapuram is a small town which was the capital of Guha, the chieftain of all boatsmen along the entire Ganges. This small settlement has great significance in the Ramayana for multiple reasons. It was the first stop that Rama made as he left for the forest. The place is hallowed also because  it was here that Rama made Guha his 5th brother & where Guha experienced Bharatha's devotion to Rama. Guha's deep friendship for Rama, one of the most moving tales of Ramayana was eancted at this very hallowed ground. We all stood in long serpentine queues to enter the small temple of Guha. All of us were singing in loud clear voices and the air reverberated with His name.  

As we neared the temple door, it was an emotional moment. Think of it, here was an  ordinary  mortal who had neither knowledge, nor bhakthi nor karma. All he had was an abiding desire to serve his Lord Rama. For such a person, Rama rewarded him not just with his darshan, but made him his brother! What compassion! 

For Rama's yatra and our Rama Anu Yatra, I realised then, that this was one of the most important milestones in the Ramayana that taught all of us the essence of Saranagathi.

The Guha Temple

The temple itself is quite small. But there is an air of serenity about this place as it rests ledged on the banks of the fast moving Ganges. It has a small entrance. As you enter the small temple you can see an image etched on the rock face,  of Guha ferrying Rama Sita & Lakshmana in the boat across the Ganges.  As I see the image, it is almost like I am transported back to that moment on the banks of Ganges, standing by as one of Guha's people, watching Rama, Sita & Lakshmana being taken away from me, knowing that I won't see them again for 14 long years. I felt Guha's pain and responsibility in ferrying his precious treasure across the river fully aware that he would have to part from them soon.  The image itself in the temple captured the emotions of the moment beautifully for me. 

Ganges  @ Sringiberapuram                                                                                              

As we came out of the temple, we saw the Ganges flowing majestically  to our left. It seemed to stretch forever. With nature smiling on both banks, one cannot help feeling moved by the thought that a simple boatsman ferried the Lord and his consort across this gigantic river- the Lord who ferries all of us across the ocean of samsara.

Risyasringa-  Santa temple

Santa, wife of Sage Risyasringa, was Dasaratha's daughter given away in adoption to King Romapada, King of Anga. Such was the spiritual prowess of the sage that it is said that wherever he resided, that country would know no hunger or drought or misery. This great sage was also the one invited to conduct the Putrakameshti Yagna for King Dasaratha, the fruits of which were his 4 beautiful sons. 
This temple in honour of the Sage and his wife, is right across the Guha temple on a small hillock. There is a separate sannidhi for the sage and his wife. Other sannidhis include that of panchamukha anjaneya temple, a bhavani temple, a siva temple. More than the actual sannidhis, it is the actual aura of the place that settles into your soul.  The view from top of this small hill is beautiful as the ganges stretches across both ends. At a height, with the ganges flowing below for as far as the eye can see, there is a sense of peace. Also a feeling of awe that here is that great rishi who did the putrakameshti yagnam for dasaratha because of which the Lord was born. The panchamukha anjaneyar was also a beautiful idol though small. In true north indian style, it was painted orange.

Rama Sayya

A short distance by bus, from Sringiberapuram,  we reached a mud track that lead to a beautiful temple called Rama Sayya. We had to walk 3 kms one way to reach this temple through fields and rough plains. This temple marks the place where Rama & Sita slept for a night. 

As you near the temple, a small flight of steps and a simple arch awaits us. As soon as reach the top we see an open courtyard with a canopy of 3 trees that covers a large platform. with  On this platform are 2 beds of kusa grass.  It is believed that these beds are the exact place where Rama & Sita slept that night at Sringiberapuram. One can just imagine how the divine couple slept out of sheer exhaustion under the tree and Lakshmana and Guha and his entire retinue walked around them, through the night protecting them. 

Right across that close by is this temple showing rama sita lakshmana – these were one of the most beautiful idols made of marble that ive ever seen. The eyes were so full of compassion and understanding of the inane problems & tribulations of the milling crowd that came to seek their blessings. Despite the noise levels and crowd, there was a tranquility and peace about the place that seeped into our souls.

With the beautiful images of the 3 children etched in our minds, we left Sringiberapuram. As I looked back at the temple, the significance of this place struck me - for both the Ramanyana & Rama Anu Yatra. 

For photos of Allahabad & Sringiberapuram click on