Travelogue: Rudrashadhayayi at Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
The Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi is one of the most famous pilgrimage places for Lord Shiva as, like Trymabakeshwar, it is one of the Jyotir Lingams.
Vishwanath, another name for Lord Shiva, literally means “Lord of the Universe.”
The temple is extremely busy, with large numbers of devotees coming to take Shiva’s darshan everyday.
Our group fortunately had passes to go very early in the morning when the main puja to the Shiva Lingam is performed and before the public darshan begins.
We all woke up around 1:30 am to get ready to go to the temple.
When we arrived, there was commotion about us entering. Even more confusing was, there appeared to be an unexpected, more complicated, process to let foreigners enter.
Shree Maa and Swamiji patiently stood to the side when the trouble occurred. After some time, Swamiji decided “enough is enough” and began our puja outside the doors of the temple. We all became inspired and joined Swamiji in chanting the mantras of the puja.
Swamiji demonstrated that it was not necessary to enter these famous temples to do worship. God is everywhere and we can worship Him just as well outside the temple as inside!
Magically, within just a few short minutes of Swamiji’s chanting, the issue was resolved! We were allowed into the temple with no special checks or trouble to the foreigners.
As we arrived at the main mandir of Vishwanath, I noticed the building was very tall, but the interior of the mandir was quite small. The top of the structure is made out of gold.
The large crowd combined with the tiny mandir made it difficult to view the Puja. However, Shree Maa and Swamiji had direct viewing, but even so, they were continously being bumped and jostled by the crowd.
There were about four pujari’s inside that tiny temple performing the puja. The pujaris performed the puja in sync with each other, working as a team, each with their own specific role. They offered water, milk, yogurt, honey, ghee and sugar to the beautiful lingam as they chanted the sanskrit mantras. Then they offered flowers and performed arati.
At the time of arati, Shree Maa wanted to get a bit closer, so we squeezed her closer to the front. She was so happy to be able to take blessing of the arati light and offer dakshina.
Once the puja was completed, we quickly moved her into a less populated part of the temple and waited for a short time as, directly after this morning puja, the gates to the temple opened and devotees who were gathered outside eagerly rushed inside to make their offerings.
There were so many people and the guards only let them have darshan for a split second – hardly enough time to offer their flowers, water, or anything else.
These generous priests brought a huge bucket of milk for Shree Maa and Swamiji so that they could perform an abhisekim to the Lord.
Shree Maa was so happy as she poured milk over Mahadev. Then, she handed the bucket to Swamiji, who did the same. Some of the devotees who were fortunate enough to be inside the inner sanctum at that time also were allowed to offer milk.
Shree Maa offered other items as – flowers, incense, light, kum-kum, while Swamiji chanted the mantras explaining the offerings. Then, she offered cloth to Lord Shiva and, to our delight, the priest gave to Swamiji two white dhotis with gold trim borders.
Afterwards, we sat down in a nearby area to recite the Rudrashadhayayi. Our group was very large, and, like in other temples, priests and devotees gathered around to observe our recitation.
Shree Maa had a special desire to demonstrate the spirit of true devotion to this sacred place. I believe she succeeded in doing so, as she chanted with all of her energy, and we were inspired to do the same.
By the completion, everyone who had been standing nearby was shouting Mahadev Ki Jai!