By Dr. B.N. Sharga
History tells us that civilizations which once
flourished on this planet, the remnants of are now only preserved in the museums
of different countries. The pyramids of Egypt symbolise a part of that
civilization which existed during the days of Pharaohs there. We also some time
watch the traces of those civilizations on the discovery channel, but in clear
contrast to all this the creed and culture of the ancient Indian civilization
can still be found in every village of our country, very much alive through
centuries old customs, traditions and beliefs.
In ancient India both Kashi and Kashmir were regarded as
the seats of higher learning. The 'Sharda Peeth' of Kashmir was supposed to be
the highest seat of learning for the seekers of knowledge to attain perfection
in academic pursuits. These learned people of Kashmir propounded their own
doctrines from time to time which were mainly based on their studies and their
practical experiences in life. The most important of them all is the Doctrine of
Recognition, which we now call as Kashmir's Shaivism. It was propounded by a
eighth century Sage, Acharya Vasugupta and was later on further elucidated by
Kashmiri Pandits, the original inhabitants of the Kashmir
valley, who are the descendants of those saints and sages who used to live once
on the banks of the mythological river Saraswati, are the natural custodians of
this Shaiva Philosophy which is deeply ingrained in their psyche. That is why
all the Kashmiri Pandits are basically the worshippers of Lord Shiva.
We also know fully well that pilgrimage is an important
part of Hindu religion and ethos and every devout Hindu believes in doing the
same in his life time. The Kashmiri Pandits are no exception. Many Kashmiri
Pandits had come out from the Kashmir valley in different times in the past on a
pilgrimage to the important holy cities of north India like Hardwar, Mathura,
Ayodhya and Kashi (Varanasi) where they built beautiful and magnificent Shiva
temples and "Dharamshalas” for their biradari members. Some of them have
gone upto Puri in the far far east to pay their obeisance to Lord Jagannath
Ayodhya has its own importance for Hindus, being the
birth place of Lord Ram. It is an ancient city whose history is linked with the
Vedic period. This city is being described as "Astchakra Navdwara" or "Devpuri"
in Athar Veda. It is said that this holy city was established by Vaivswat Manu,
the son of Vivaswan. He gave this city to his son Ishwako to make it the capital
of his kingdom. Its area at that time was from Azamgarh in the east upto Lucknow
in the west with two magnificent gates at both the ends. It used to have four
main highways connecting the four directions and was a well planned city with
rectangular buildings and well laid out beautiful gardens.
According to the information collected from different
sources and then putting up the facts regarding the history of this ancient
temple in their true perspective one Pandit Gulab Rai Tikku came out from the
Kashmir valley in the second half of the 18th century during the Afghan rule
there on a pilgrimage to Ayodhya and rebuilt this ancient temple of "Chandrahari
Mahadev", around 1770. When this temple was originally built and by whom is not
known to any body.
There is a very interesting legend connected with the
history of this most ancient temple of Ayodhya. It is said that this ancient
temple at Mohalla "Swarg Dwar" now known as "Ram Ki Pauri" was originally
built by the Moon himself. When the district of Faizabad was formed by the
British in 1858 they mentioned the name of "Chandrahari Mahadev temple as the
most ancient temple of Ayodhya in its Gazetteer along with Ram Janma Bhoomi,
Hanuman Garhi, Nageshwar Nath, Treta Ke Thakur, etc.
The unique feature of this ancient temple is that in its
sanctum sanctorun 12 "Shivlingas" are placed on a single huge "Yoni". Then in
its premises there is an idol of Lord Ganesh, two idols of Nandi and an idol of
goddess Durga. The whole assembly of these idols is now also being called as the
"Shiva Mandal" i.e. the extended family of Lord Shiva. It is being purposely
done to represent all the 12 manifestations of Lord Shiva at one place, so that
a devotee paying his or her obeisance here many attain salvation simply by
reciting all the 12 names of these '‘Jyotir Lingams’. The origin of
“Chandrahari Mahadev” temple has been traced to the period of Raja Harishchandra
when he ruled over Ayodhya. The Chandrahari is actually one of the seven
sanctuaries of Lord Vishnu in Ayodhya the other six are Dharmahari, Vishnuhari,
Chakrahari, Guptahari, Vilvahari and Punyahari.
A European scholar Hans Bakker has done an exhaustive
research work on the history and architecture of the temples of Ayodhya and he
published a comprehensive document in 1986 under the title "Ayodhya" describing
his findings in it. In this research document he has devoted one complete
chapter to Chandrahari Mahadev temple. He has written in this document that "No
doubt Chandrahari tirtha is one of the oldest holy places of Ayodhya. Its
foundation might possibly go back to a visit of Gohadavala King Chandra Deva to
Ayodhya in 1093 AD. Its legend which tells us about the Chandra Deva's
pilgrimage to Ayodhya and his erection of an idol of Lord Vishnu (Hari) there
for worship, is structurally identical with the legend which goes with this
According to Hans Bakker the concept of Seven Sanctuaries
of Lord Vishnu in Ayodhya came into limelight probably in the 18th century and
accordingly five Hari Sanctuaries namely Chandrahari, Dharmahari, Vishnuhari,
Chakrahari and Guptahari were fixed, but the other two Haris due to certain
reasons may not have yet been fixed. Bilva tirth was later on transformed into
Bilvahari and was recognised as such. But the name of the seventh Hari remains
still uncertain. It is believed that probably it relates to king Bharat the son
of Dushyanta who belonged to the Purva line of the Lunar dynasty. However a
Bharathar sanctuary dedicated to king Bharat is unknown from any other source.
The records only mention Punyahari as the seventh Hari and this holy place is
about 17 kms in the south east from Ayodhya.
A remarkable contradiction in its description is that the
modern Chandrahari temple is not an abode of Lord Vishnu but instead an abode of
Lord Shiva where his "lingam" has been installed. The temple borders on
the west side of Ganga Mahal (Palace) and infact forms a part of its compound.
This temple complex contains several shrines, the central being known as "Shiva
Mandala". To the left of the main shrine is the sanctum sanatorium of "Chandrahari"
containing two beautiful idols of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha, which is
believed to have been built by Gulab Rai Tikku, a Kashmiri Pandit in the second
half of the 18th century, who arrived in Ayodhya from Habba Kadal Mohalla of the
Srinagar district in the Kashmir valley around 1770 AD during the rule of Nawab
Shuja-ud-Daula (1753-1775) in Oudh. Quite a good number of Kashmiri Pandit
families from Kashmir and Delhi came to Faizabad during this period and all of
them settled down either in Mohalla Rath Haveli or in Kashmiri Mohalla to live
as a community there. Naturally they felt the need of a Shiva temple there for
their religious congregations on festivals and for performing their rituals just
to maintain their distinct ethnic identity in the completely new environment far
away from the land of their birth. So this temple was built for this purpose for
which they donated money liberally. Another Kashmiri Pandit Rama Kak who came to
Ayodhya on a pilgrimage from Kashmir during the rule of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan
(1798-1814) in 1805 not only repaired this ancient temple again but also built a
"Dharmshala" for providing proper boarding and lodging facilities to a large
number of pilgrims visiting this historical temple to pay their obeisance. Since
1805 the management of this shrine and the dharmshala attached to it is under
the control of the Kashmiri Pandits, who are looking after its day to day
affairs. The names of many Kashmiri Pandits are inscribed on the marble tablets
fixed in this shrine who liberally donated a lot of money for the proper upkeep
of this temple and the "dharamshala".
The most striking feature of this ancient temple is that
the beautiful idol of Radha installed in it with Lord Krishna used to be dressed
up in a Kashmiri attire wearing 'attahroos' and 'dejahroos' signifying the
Kashmiri link. Pt. Amar Nath Kaul of Kashmiri Mohalla, Lucknow, who went to
Ayodhya in the second half of the 19th century and subsequently became a dewan
of Ayodhya Naresh, Raja Man Singh a Sakaldipi Brahmin, used to live in the 'Dharamshala'
of this temple on the bank of Saryu river in the fag end of his life after
taking a 'Sanyas' from the wordily affairs in the beginning of the 20th century
In 1925 a Trust was constituted known as "Chandrahari
Mahadev Trust Association" with Pandit Ram Nath Shangloo, a leading criminal
lawyer of Faizabad as its Chairman for the proper management of this shrine,
which was duly registered in 1926. The other important members of this Trust
were Pt. Shiv Narain Jais, Pt. Parmeshwar Nath Sapru, Pt. Krishna Nath Kaul, Pt.
Mohan Lal Sukhia, Pt. Shambhu Nath Kaul and Pt. Ayodhya Prasad Wantoo. According
to the records of this Trust after the death of its Chairman Pt. Ram Nath
Shangloo and Secretary, Pt. Hari Krishna Shangloo in 1980, Pt. Prem Krishna
Ganjoo became its Chairman and Pt. Prem Krishna Shangloo became its secretary
respectively. But due to non renewal of the Association's registration as per
new UP's Registration Act for Firms and Societies which was enacted in 1975 this
Trust became almost defunct and so a need was felt to constitute another Trust
to infuse new life into the managing body of this ancient temple of Ayodhya for
its all round progress and development.
It was due to the untiring efforts of Dr. Sudhakar Adeeb
who was posted in Faizabad as A.D.M. (F/R) that a new Trust under the name "Sri
Chandrahari Mahadeva Trust, Ayodhya" was formed on Ist May 2000 with Swami
Krishnakantacharya, Pt. Prem Krishna Shangloo, Pt. Ram Chandra Kaul 'Anam', Pt.
Gadadhar Prasad Wantoo, Pt. Anand Kaul, Dr Sudhakar Adeeb and Shri S. Kumar as
the patron members of this newly constituted Trust. The executive body of this
Trust will now consist of the following members Pt. Sanjay Shangloo, Mrs. Shobha
Adeeb, Mrs. Kirti Gandru, Arvind Wantoo, Arvind Kaul, Yatin Mohan Pratap Misra,
Alok Bansal, Ajeet Garg, Misrilal and Prabhat Kumar Tandon. It has also been
decided that Swami Krishnakantacharya would function as the chairman and Pt.
Sanjay Shangloo as the secretary of this Trust till the next elections for its
office bearers. These Trustees will not only manage the Shrine and its other
properties, but will also try their best to develop it as one of the important
tourists' destination of the country by providing proper infrastructure
facilities to the pilgrims and other foreign tourists who visit this ancient
temple in large numbers on festive occasions.
On every "Shivaratri" and "Navratra" this ancient Shrine
which is of great historical and religious importance attracts huge crowds of
devotees from far of places who come to pay their obeisance to the deities
installed there with great spiritual powers for salvation. The managing
committee of this Shrine also organises regular festivals on auspicious
occasions for the benefit of the pilgrims to this holy city. The 'havans'
and 'yangnas' are also performed from time to time in this temple
chanting Vedic mantras for the purity of mind and soul and for bringing
all round peace, progress and prosperity in the country. The Kashmiri Pandits
are the undisputed custodians of this Shrine and its other assets for the last
more than 200 years, and are carrying out the affairs of this shrine with a
missionary spirit with full devotion and dedication. It is hoped that they will
continue to do the same for many more years with selfless, spirit. May god bless
them for their noble work. The following lines of the reputed Hindi poet Jai
Narain 'Arun' convey a lot of meaning in this respect.
raha aur barasta raha
dhara ka sarasta raha
Kintu ek boond
ki as mein Swati ki
bichara tarasta raha".