Ujjayini

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Ujjayini literally means ‘the victorious’.

Ujjayini is one of the seven ancient, most holy, cities capable of giving liberation.[1] It got its name because Śiva is said to have vanquished and killed Tripurāsura here. It was also known by several other names such as:

  1. Avantī
  2. Kanakaśṛṅga
  3. Kauśasthalī
  4. Amarāvati
  5. Viśālā

Location of Ujjayini

It has been identified with the modern Ujjain city in Madhya Pradesh which is 80 kms. (50 miles) to the north of Indore. It was the capital of the legendary emperor Vikramāditya,[2] in whose court the navaratnas or nine gems of scholars like Kālidāsa, Dhanvantari, Amarasiṅiha, Varāhamihira and Vararuci were believed to have existed.

The city is 486 metres[3] above the sea-level and is situated on the bank of the Śiprā river. It is famous for the Mahākāla temple, one of the twelve jyotirliñgas. It is the fourth place where the Kumbhamelā festival is held once in twelve years. It is observed when Bṛhaspati or Guru[4] enters the Siṅiharāśi[5] in the month of Vaiśākha.[6]

Mahākāleśvara Temple

According to the Śivapurāṇa,[7] Mahākāla is the Śiva who emerged out of the earth and destroyed the demon Dṅṣaṇa. At the request of the local devotees he agreed to stay on there itself. The Mahākāla temple has a cellar floor housing the Mahākāla-liṅga and a ground floor housing Omkāreśvara-linga. Devotees wishing to have the darśana[8] of the deity have to take bath in the Śiprā river at the Rāmghāṭ and proceed to the shrine. Everyday, at 4:30 a.m. ārati is done to the Mahākāla-liṅga by sprinkling the ashes of a freshly cremated corpse of the previous day. This is done on all the days of the year. Āvantikādevī is the consort of the Lord in this temple complex.

Other Attractions

  • The Harasiddhi temple of Mother Annapurṇā is another important shrine of this place.
  • Other temples are those of:
  1. Gopāla- Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa
  2. Gaḍhakālikā or Mahākālī
  3. Kāla-bhairava
  4. Maṅgalanātha
  5. Cintāmaṇi Gaṇeśa
  • About 3 kms.[9] from the temple of Gopāla is the Sāndīpani Āśrama, where Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma were educated by the sage Sāndīpani.
  • Ancient astronomers assigned 0° longitude to Ujjayini[10] and based their calculations on it.
  • There is an observatory[11] built by the king Jai Singh.[12]


References

  1. Liberation means mokṣadāyaka.
  2. He lived in circa 57 B. C.
  3. It is approximately 1620 feet.
  4. It is the planet Jupiter.
  5. Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac
  6. It generally falls in April.
  7. Śivapurāṇa 1.46
  8. Darśana means seeing.
  9. It is approximately 1.8 miles.
  10. It is like Greenwich.
  11. It is called as Vedhaśālā.
  12. He lived in circa A. D. 1700.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore