Kumbh Mela history and its importance

1. Kumbh Mela history: A tradition followed since thousands of years

        In order to define the actual kumbh Mela history, It is difficult to say when the Kumbh mela exactly started. It is believed that when the churning of the ocean of milk took place in Krutayug, the Kumbha Mela began. The Gods and demons came together to acquire the pot of Amrut (Divine nectar) and decided to churn the ocean of milk. The king of serpents, Vasuki, was requested to serve as a rope around the mountain Meru to churn the ocean. Accordingly Vasuki became the rope and was tied around the mountain Meru. The ocean was churned with the Gods holding the tail of the serpent and the demons, the mouth.

       During the churning, fourteen unique items emerged from the ocean – Poison, Kāmadhēnu (A wish-fulfilling cow), Uchhaih-ashrava (A white horse), Airavat (An elephant with four tusks), Koustubha mani (A diamond), Parijat Kalpavruksha (A wish-fulfilling tree), Devanganas (Celestial maidens) such as Rambha etc., Shri Lakshmidevi (Consort of Shrivishṇu), Sura (Alcohol), Som (Moon), Haridhanu (A  Divine bow), a conch, Dhanwantari and Amrutkalash or Amrutkumbh (Pot of Amrut).

        When Deity Dhanwantari emerged from the ocean holding the Amrutkumbh, the Gods thought that if the demons became immortal upon drinking Amrut, they will create havoc in the world. They signalled Indra’s son, Jayant, who instantly took the Amrutkumbh from Deity Dhanwantari and ran in the direction of Heaven. To get hold of the Amrutkumbh, Gods and demons fought each other for 12 days and 12 nights, which are 12 years for the human. During the battle, the Amrutkumbh was kept down 12 times. Deity Sun protected it and the moon took care that the Amrut does not evaporate. The planet Jupiter (Guru) fought the demons and protected the pot. The 12 places where the drops of Amrut fell from the pot are considered to be the Kumbh Mela places as per the special position of the above mentioned planets. Of these 12 places 8 are in other lokas (Regions) and 4 on earth – Prayag (Allahabad), Hardwar (Haridwar), Ujjain and Tryambakeshwar-Nashik. At these places, the Kumbh Mela is held when the position of the planets and the tithi on which the Amrut drops fell on earth is the same. The Amrutkalash is also remembered during the Kumbh Mela.

2. Kumbh mela history – Mention of Kumbh Mela by various sources

        In the Holy Scriptures too there is a mention of ‘Kumbh Mela’. In ‘Narada-Puranas’, ‘Kumbha-Mela’ has been referred to be very good.

A. According to few scholars, this fair started in 3464 BC i.e. it is a tradition existing 1000 years prior to Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro culture.

B. In 2382 BC, Vishwamitra (second) stated importance of having holy bath on ‘Magh Pournima’.

C. In 1302 BC, Maharshi Jyotish impressed upon people the importance of holy bath on ‘Magh Pournima’.

D. Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang has also described ‘Kumbh- Mela’ in his book. In his book, there is description of his journey taken in 629 BC as ‘Bharatyatra’ wherein there is a mention of Hindus fair at Prayag in the kingdom of Emperor Harshvardhan.

3. Kumbh Mela history – Jagatguru Adi Shankaracharya gave Vedic form to ‘Kumbh Mela’

        Jagatguru Adi Shankaracharya first started celebration of Hindus’ religious festivals as Indian festivals motivating Saints and religious leaders from different sects and following different religions to take part in the same. With his inspiration, the Saints and religious leaders from various parts of the country and different religions and Sects started taking part. By giving Vedic form to it, Adi Shankaracharya conferred more prestige to it and hence it got more recognition and participation of Saints and religious leaders in ‘Kumbh Mela’ increased. In the year 1515, Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had come here from Bengal. In this fair, followers of Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism also take part. Nowadays, even foreign nationals join this fair with lot of enthusiasm.

4. Prabhu Shriram had performed ‘Simhastha’ rituals
at ‘Kushawarta’ in Tryambakeshwar for gaining victory over Ravana ! 

Ravana’s defeat was possible by accumulating merits through performing ‘Simhastha’ rituals !

Tryambakeshwar, a place of pilgrimage is mainly known for performing rituals like ‘Narayan Naag-bali’ and ‘Tripindi shraddha’! But Hindus are ignorant about an ancient and special incident that had taken place at Tryambakeshwar. After abduction of Seetamata by Ravana, Prabhu Sri Ramchandra had performed a ritual at ‘Kushawarta’ in Tryambakeshwar for accumulating merits so as to gain victory over Ravana. With the accumulation of merits, Prabhu Shri Ramchandra could defeat Ravana. This incident has been mentioned in ‘Skanda Purana’. In the background of ‘Simhastha Parva’ currently underway at Nasik and Tryambakeshwar, Vedamurty Yajush shastri Dixit gave the above information to a representative of ‘Dainik Sanatan Prabhat’.

Importance of ‘Simhastha’ ritual is ……

Prabhu Shri Ramchandra came to Panchavati in search of Seetamata after her abduction by Ravana. That time, Sages Kashyap and Vasishtha told Prabhu Shri Ramchandra about the ‘Simhastha’ ritual and advised him to perform it before wedging war against powerful Ravana and to gain victory over him. The sages advised him that it was difficult to defeat Ravana who was a great ascetic and a staunch devotee of Bhagavan Shiva; without performing the ritual. Prabhu Shri Ramchandra then performed this ritual as instructed by Sage Vasishtha at ‘Kushawarta Teertha’ in Tryambakeshwar; due to which Shri Ramchandra could have ‘darshan’ of his father Dasharath and with the merits accumulated by performing the ritual, he defeated Ravana in the battle. Since then, ‘Simhastha’ rituals got more recognition and are performed by many people. This ritual is performed for accumulation of merits and to get relieved from the debts of ancestors. The 3 important rituals among them are ‘Ganga-pujan, ‘Teertha-shraddha’ and ‘Kumbh-daan’.

Source : Dainik Sanatan Prabhat