Day 4/5 – Kurukshetra, Haryana
Now that I had the fortune of seeing Krishna Janmabhoomi and Vrindavan, it was time to go to Kurukshetra, one of the most holiest places in Hindu Sanatana Dharma, where the Lord gave Arjuna, and the world, the Bhagavad Gita. As the cousins range on either side of the battlefield for the “mother of all battles”, Arjuna worries about killing his family and friends on the other side. Bhagavad Gita is the conversation (700 shlokas) that transpires between the Lord and Arjuna, at the end of which Arjuna stands up transformed and ready to fulfill the Lord’s Master Plan.
- Baana Ganga, Dayalpur – Situated about 4 kms from Brahma Sarovar, Baana Ganga is the place where Arjuna directed his Baanastra (arrow) into the ground to generate a water body. The Lord used this water to bathe the horses in preparation to kill Jayadrath, who was instrumental in surrounding and inhumanely killing Arjuna’s son, Abhimanyu.
- Bhishma Kund, Tanesar – As Pitamah Bhishma lay dying on the bed of arrows, he asks Arjuna for water. Arjuna fires his arrow into the earth, and our gushes Ganga (Bhishma’s mother) to quench his thirst.
- Kaleshwar Temple – Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is the temple where supposedly Ravana got his boon from the Lord so that if his head gets cut off, another would appear in its place.
- Sthaneshwar Temple – This is the temple where the Pandavas prayed to Lord Shiva before the start of the Kurukshetra war
- Kali Temple/Nava Shakti Swaroop – Beautiful Kali temple that pilgrims visit to pray for health and peace of mind.
- Kurukshetra Sri Krishna Museum – What a fantastic find! We randomly stumbled on this museum that houses every detailed archeological finding related to the Lord, including details about the excavations for Dwaraka. The light and sound show at the very end is mesmerizing. A MUST VISIT!
- Sannhit Sarovar – Supposedly the meeting point of seven Saraswatis, this reservoir is famous for Pind Daan (offering to ancestors).
- ShakthiPeeth Maa Bhadrakali Temple – This grand temple is famous for so many reasons – Balarama and Krishna did their mundan ceremony here; the Pandavas received the horses for their chariots; and of course as a Shakthipeeth – Sati’s right ankle fell in this spot.
- Brahma Sarovar – Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is the land from which Brahma created the universe. The evening arati will resonate in your soul. So many historical moments are ascribed to this holy ground. This is where all the Pandavas, learned sages, Yadus and most importantly Braj vaasis assembled for the rare and auspicious full solar eclipse that happens towards the end of every kalpa. The Lord meets Yashoda, Nand Raj and the gopis after a long absence and we can only imagine the divine ecstacy and celebrations that took place. Even today, during a solar eclipse, nearly ten lakh pilgrims assemble in this holy ground.
- Jyotisaar – How do I even begin to describe this holiest of grounds where the Lord spoke the Gita? We went twice to this place – around 9 PM on day 4 for the laser show, and again at 6 AM on day 5 for another darshan during sunrise.
- The laser show itself was spectacular, positioned right under the banyan tree under which the Lord recited the Gita to Arjuna. But what happened after the laser show can only be short of a miracle. As soon as the laser show got over, everyone left except for my sister and me. We were just sitting there soaking in the atmosphere where another laser show, even more spectacular than this, started off a few metres away. It was watched by just a handful of people. We decided to go near and started watching what was obviously a private show. It was a demo of a much bigger and more spectacular show planned by the Tourism Department of the State of Haryana. After the show, the Principal Secretary, MD Sinha walked over to us and asked our opinion. Dumbstruck by the grand vision for the show, we were even more amazed by his courtesy and his vision for Jyotisaar – a grand museum that would depict a village during the times of the Mahabharat, with attractions to rival Disney Land (his words!).
On September 9th, I boarded the evening flight from New Delhi, back to Kochi. There was not a single day during these five days when I had not cried – sometimes silently in gratitude, sometimes when overwhelmed, and sometimes in sheer happiness. But on the last day, at Kurukshetra, the priest actually came rushing to us as he saw me lying on the ground near the statue of Krishna’s chariot and crying. Huge gut-wrenching sobs that broke through a lifetime of yearning, ego, stubbornness, sadness and pride. The priest said he had never seen anyone cry like this. My sister told him that I was crying out of joy. Six months on, I still don’t know why I cried. I went through a gamut of emotions that I never thought I had within me. I had always prided myself on my detachment and self-containment, but five days of this pilgrimage broke something within me. I am not sure what it is, but I like to believe that whatever it was, it has increased my faith.
Faith is a strange thing. It can move mountains. It can impose divinity in stones. It can turn broken down bricks and walls into proof and testimony. I came back from the Braj Bhumi trip, stronger in my faith that the divine energy I consider my God did one day walk, talk, play and laugh in those forests. How else can I explain the overwhelming display of devotion and love in Braj? How else do I explain how a lady with crutches was walking barefoot up the mountains to Radharani’s palace in Barsana in sweltering heat while I cruised up in my A/C car and attempted to walk a few meters? How else can I explain the blissful faces of an immense sea of pilgrims racing for His darshan through the feces ridden, rat infested narrow streets, chanting Radhe Radhe?
Indeed, faith can transform you.
They say you need to leave the world a better place than when you came into it. Frankly, as far as I am concerned, the world will take care of itself as it always has for millions of years, with or without my bungling and half-assed attempts!
Instead, I want to leave the world a better person than when I came into it. I believe, and pray, that my pilgrimage to Braj Bhumi has jumpstarted this process.
Sources for images and content, and list of key websites for additional research and planning for your pilgrimage