1 Jun 2014

North India Pilgrimage with Swami Vishwananda, Day 7

Paartha writes:

May 28th, Wednesday
This Wednesday morning we were able to sleep in because we only left at noon. It was good to rest a bit. Some braves ones however managed to get up in the morning and met for Om Healing at 8am. Together with some of the Indians at the Hotel, altogether 27 people, they did the Om Healing dedicated to the Tibetan people.

After a long breakfast we got into the bus and started our journey towards Jwala Mukhi Temple. We reached there some time in the afternoon and went straight to the temple, which was only 5 minutes walking distance from the place we stayed for the night. 

We ascended some steep stairs and finally got on the platform where this impressive and beautiful temple was situated. 

The deity of the temple is “Jwala Devi” or “Jwala Mukhi” (Jwala = Flame, Mukhi = Face). It is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths and is the place where the tongue of Sati fell. She is also called Dhumra Devi. What is special about this temple is that Devi is there not in the form of a murthi or a pindi, but She is present in the form of an ever burning flame. The main flame, Jwala Devi herself (Kali), is surrounded by 8 other flames, one of them right next to Jwala being Annapoorna Devi. Over Jwala Devi’s flame is a triangle representing Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. 
When we arrived, there was practically no queue for Darshan and we were able to take a lot of time for Darshan. One priest led us through all the shrines and explained us everything in the temple. He told us that nobody has so far been able to explain why these flames appear there. According to the book “Call of the 9 Goddesses”, the last 40 years have been wasted by the Indian government in the pursuit of finding some source of gas in that location. Eventually they have given up on it. 

But not only in recent times, already King Akbar (ca. 16th century) tried to “challenge” Jwala Devi. There was a saint called “Dhyanu Bhakt” (who gave the name to Vajreshwari Devi also, mentioned earlier) who travelled with a big group of 1.000 devotees to Jwala Devi in order to praise her. He was stopped by Akbar’s soldiers since they were such a big group. Akbar inquired from the saint why he was going there. Dhyanu Bhakt told him, that Jwala Devi was a Goddess who had supernatural powers and that he was going to worship Her. Akbar did not believe. He took up a sword and chopped off the head of Dhyanu Bhakt’s horse and said to him, he will only believe in Her power if she put back the horse’s head. Dhyanu Bhakt left the palace with his people and eventually reached Jwala Mukhi. There he prayed to Devi very intensely, but She did not give him any sign or indication that She heard his prayers. He got so desperate that he said that if She did not put the horse’s head back on, Akbar (and subsequently everyone else) would not believe in Her power and his faith would be in vain. He had so much faith and love in Her, that he just cut off his own head with his sword and held it in his hands as an offering to the Devi. 

In that moment She revealed Herself to him and told him, that she has fixed the horse’s head back on the horse’s neck. She also put back his own head on his body. She told him to go back to Delhi and see for himself. 
Also Akbar and everyone in the court was amazed to see the head of the horse back on its neck. Dhyanu Bhakt prayed to Devi that not everyone was ready to cut his own head and that She should satisfy the desires of Her devotees also through simple offerings of flowers and coconuts. She blessed him and confirmed that this is the way it will be.

However, Dhyanu Bhakt, out of his immense Love for Her, later cut off again his own head as an offering to Her. She put it back on his neck a second time and told him, that it would not be possible to put back a third time. Dhyanu Bhakt replied to Her, that living separate from Her would not have any meaning anyway, and cut it a third time in order to remain with Her in spirit eternally. 

There is also a smaller shrine for Jwala Devi as Swaroop (in a murthi form) where She was installed on five human heads (skulls). The heads were given to Her as an offering of five devotees. These “human sacrifices” were not forced upon the devotees by other people, but they did this as an act of intense love and devotion. They gave back “their” life to the one who had given it to them in the first place. 

Even the fact that the horse got back its head did not fully convince Akbar so he sent his people to extinguish the flames of Jwala Mukhi. His people covered the flames with steel plates. But just a bit later, the flames appeared again, this time right above the steel plates. Then they built a pond around the main flame and tried to extinguish it with water, only to see the flame burning above the water right afterwards. Whatever they tried, they could not extinguish the flames. Finally Akbar realized that the flame must have a Divine origin. Akbar was a righteous king. As an atonement for his sin he sent a cover for the temple roof made of pure gold. However, as soon as the cover was fixed, it changed its consistence and fell down from the roof. When examined, to this day, it was not possible to determine the material it had changed into, but it is certainly no gold any longer and does not look beautiful at all. All this was interpreted as a sign that the Devi did not accept the “excuse” of Akbar. 

The cover is still exhibited in the temple today.

Another king, who came to pray for victory, was more successful. After having won the battle with Devi’s grace, he gold plated the whole roof of the temple. 

That roof is still there today. 

We stayed a long time in this temple and enjoyed the presence of Devi there. Later in the evening the upper part of the temple was opened and we were able to visit it as well. The upper part, where also some of the flames are present, is run not by the normal priests, but by a group of “Naths”. Naths, according to Guruji, are warriors and see themselves as protectors of dharma. Their origin goes back to Matsyendranath and Guru Gorakh Nath who is mentioned also in the first travel report. Guru Gorak Nath once stayed in Jwala Mukhi. He fixed himself some rice to boil in the hot water pond there but did not put the rice in just yet as he was going to cook it when coming back from bhiksha (asking for alms). However, he never came back and was never to be seen again by anyone (Guruji said that he is still alive in his body). But since then, the water is cold and has not become hot. Although the water is boiling (you can see it bubbling and steaming), when you put your hand in it the water is cold. However, when one puts rice in it, the rice does get cooked as if it was boiling hot water. It is believed that Jwala Devi is still waiting for Gorakh Nath to come back to cook his rice. 

When we came down to the main temple we waited about half an hour and then at 21:30 another part of the temple opened its doors and the people (and us) streamed inside. 

In the center of the temple was a beautiful bed. We sat down near the bed and the daily evening ceremony of putting Ma to bed started. While singing a “lullaby” the priests put Devi to bed by putting all ornaments and sarees (which people offered) on Her bed. It was a very sweet scene to look at how all the devotees watched how “their mother” was put to sleep.