by Chander M. Bhat
Harwan is located about 3 km beyond
the famous Shalimar garden where a Buddhist monastery existed and a scholar, the
glorious Nagarjuna, lived one hundred and fifty years after the Buddha. The
place was called Sadarhadvana which stands for forest of six saints.
Harwan is a huge garden lined with flower beds and
massive Chinar Trees with a beautiful canal flowing right through the middle.
The canal is fed from a beautiful lake which lies behind the garden. There is
not much clutter of fountains and other fancy things but vast big green carpeted
green lawns which form an ideal spot for picnics.
Kalhana maintains in his Raj Tarangini that "there is
not a piece of land, equal to a mustard seed that is not a tirtha in Kashmir".
It is on this account that the Aryans visited Kashmir frequently; they stayed
mostly at Buzahama and Harwan. On a hillock, linked with the name of Raja Harish
Chandera (known for his honesty), there still exist some ancient ruins
considered sacred. At Harwan, in Chandpora, there is a small sacred spring
associated with Mata Bhuvaneshwari. Kalhana has mentioned this spring in the Raj
Tarangni; at two of its corners, we find the idols of Mata Bhuvaneshwari
installed. It is said that it was Maharaja Gulab Singh who changed the original
name of the place from 'Chachaa Pora' to Chand Pora. The Maharaja's grandson
Maharaja Partap Singh often visited the sacred spot and paid his obeisance to
the Holy Mother; as a religious ritual, he would feed young virgins and adore
them as divinities.
The hillock of Mahadev, believed to be the abode of
Lord Shiva is about 20 kilometers away from the holy spring located in Chandpora.
It is believed that Lord Shiva keeps a vigil on it from the Mahadev Peak.
It was during Maharaja Partap Singh's reign that a Sadhu Alakh Ram took up his
abode in a hut near the spring mentioned above. The hut got destroyed in a fire.
Thereafter two Dharmshallas were constructed to provide shelter to pilgrims,
these structures did not stand the fury of nature for long and no trace was left
of them. With the expansion in the population of the village around, the
inhabitants got together and constituted a committee to look after the shrine,
which they named as Bhuvaneshwari Sathapana Committee. The members of the
committee in question spared no efforts in raising a pucca structure that served
as a Dharmshalla accommodating at least 200 pilgrims. The committee in question
not only renovated the spring but also got a concrete temple built up in which
the image of the Mata was firmly installed. In the adjoining area of the temple,
measuring 3 kanals of land, there exist six Chinar trees and a brook having pure
water flows through the complex. It is said that a spring has sprouted from
within the hollow of each of these Chinars. The water of the main spring at the
shrine can cure diseases. The legend is there that once the only son of a woman,
who had gone blind, reposing his trust in the kind heartedness of the Mother
Goddess Bhuvaneshwari, washed his eyes with the water of the holy spring for
seven consecutive days; he regained his vision through the grace of virgin
Goddess Mata Bhuvaneshwari, whose devotees make only vegetarian offerings to her
in the shape of the fruits and other edible things. Non vegetarian offerings to
the Goddess are strictly forbidden.
Mata Bhuvaneshwari, is one of the seven sister-divinities and the youngest of
them, the other six being Ragyna, Sharika, Jawala, Zeshta, Uma and Shardha.
According to Kashmir, Shivism, Shiva, who is the male counterpart of the Shakti,
is the Supreme Being. He remains introvert and dormant, while Shakti is active
and dynamic. The Shaivite philosophy is, in principle, non dualistic. In her
diverse manifestations, Shakti performs manifold functions. As Saraswati, she
propagates knowledge and wisdom. As Lakshmi, she distributes wealth and as Kali
she destroys the demons. In Kashmir, Shakti worship is very popular and every
clan of Kashmiri Pandits adores its chosen female deity as Ragyana, Sharika,
Jawala, Zeshta, Uma, Sharda or Bhuvaneshwari. Being the youngest, Bhuvaneshwari,
is adored as eternal Shakti.
Close View of the Holy Spring
The devotees in great bulk, including all the
inhabitants of Chandpora, have deep-rooted faith in Bhuvaneshwari. It is said
that when a hawan was performed propitiate the Goddess Bhuvaneshwari on the
seventh day of it a beautiful snake, bearing white patches, emerged all at once
from the spring at Chandpora, it made seven circumambulation around the temple
to the joy of devotees present there. It accepted the milk that was offered to
it by the devotees, and then vanished. The devotees took it as a good augury,
believing firmly that Bhuvaneshwari had blessed them.
Thus enthused and encouraged, a beautiful Murti (idol) of the Goddess carved out
of the marble from Jaipur was installed in the temple on Mata’s Birthday in the
year 1974, falling on Vetha Truvah which is also celebrated as the birthday of
the river Vitasta (Jhelum) annually. It was the late Swami Laxman Joo, renowned
saint and Shavite Scholar, who took care of the installation ritual.
After the displacement of the Pandits from the Valley, the devotees of the Mata
being away could no longer ensure the preservation and maintenance of the
shrine. With the passage of time, due to climatic ravages, the Dhramshala
collapsed, though, the other pacca structures still exist. Now the Mata's hawan
is being performed at the Kheer Bhawani Peeth at Janipur, Jammu to mark the
birthday of Bhuvaneshwari.
Notes and References
Place Names in
Kashmir by B.K. Raina and S.L. Sadhu published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai
and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi, 2000 edition.
Bujbror - An
Ancient Religious Place by Sh. P.N. Bhat published in Koshur Samachar.
Kashmiri Pandit Culture and Heritage by C.L. Kaul, published by Ansh
Publications, New Delhi, 2009 edition.