By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Puskara, PuSkara, Pushkara
Significance of Puṣkara
The town of Puṣkara situated at a distance of 12 kms. to the west of Ajmer in Rajasthan and on the bank of the lake of the same name, has the unique distinction of possessing a good temple, the only one in the whole of India, dedicated to Brahmā, the creator. The greatness of Puṣkara as an excellent place of pilgrimage has been extolled in many purāṇas and also the epics.
Mythological Legend Behind Puṣkara
Once while Brahmā, the creator, was moving in a forest with a lotus in his hand, he found a rākṣasa, named Vajranābha, whom he killed with his lotus, after converting it into a formidable weapon through mantras or sacred chants. Hence that place, the present Puṣkara, came to be known as Puṣkara.
The same legend says that the lotus in his hand rebounded at three places before killing the demon. All these three places became lakes, respectively known as Jyeṣṭha-puṣkara, Madhya-puṣkara and Kaniṣṭha-puṣkara. The presiding deities of these three are Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Rudra.
Festival Celebrated at Puṣkara
At the Jyeṣṭa-puṣkara, Brahmā is said to have performed a yajña or a sacrifice. Hence animals are not allowed to be killed in this area. The greatest festival of Puṣkara is held on the Kārttika Purṇimā day, generally in November. Lakhs of pilgrims gather here on that day to take bath in the main lake and worship Brahmā.
Brahmā Temple of Puṣkara
The main temple is that of the four-faced Brahmā, the creator. It is situated very near the main lake. The image of Brahmā is in the center and the images of his two spouses, Sāvitrī and Gāyatri, are on his right and left sides. The temple has the images of the four sages:
The other temples in Puṣkara are those of Nārada, Badarī-Nārāyaṇa, Varāha, Śiva Ramā-Vaikuṇṭha or Śri Raṅgaji, Venugopāla and Sri Rāma. Other important places of pilgrimage are the Yajñaparvata, the hermitage of Agastya, and five kuṇḍas of which the Nāgakuṇda appears to be more well-known.
Going round the whole place called as parikrama has been considered as a holy act. Some pilgrims undertake that arduous task in which they have to walk from 10 to 77 kms., depending on the type they choose. There is a river Sarasvatī here that flows in five streams.
- It is about 7 1/2 miles.
- Mahābhārata, Vanaparva 80.20, 21
- Padmapurāṇa, Ādikhanda 11.34, 35
- Rākṣasa means demon.
- It also means lotus.
- Nārada means the divine sage.
- Śiva is also known as Ātmeśvara-Mahādeva.
- Kuṇḍas means the small ponds.
- It is approximately 6 to 48 miles.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math,