(Recitation by Pt. Nageshwara Rao of Hyderabad.
Please put on the speakers attached to your System.)
Vishweshwar Temple also known as Vishwanath Temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. This temple finds mention in various religious texts like Kashi Khand, Shiv Puran etc. According to Kashi Khand, the name of this temple was Moksh Lakshmi Vilas temple which contained five mandaps of which the main mandap was Garbha Griha (Sanctum Sanctorum) where the Vishweshwar Ling was worshipped. Vishweshwar Ling is Swayambhu Ling.
In the South, there was Mukti Mandap, in the West Shringar Mandap, in the North Aishwarya Mandap and in the East Gyan Mandap. According to Kashi Khand (Chapter 99) Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvaty visited the Mukti Mandap alongwith Devas wherefrom they went and sat in Shringar Mandap, facing east. Here, Lord Shiva described the greatness of Vishweshwar Ling as under :-
“By touching the Vishweshwar Ling and praying, the devotee is free from all sins accumulated over past two generations.” In many temples all over India, devotees are not allowed to enter Sanctum Sanctorum. However, they are allowed at Vishwanath Temple in Kashi.
“A devotee who, with pure devotion, pours holy water on the Linga and offers just one flower to Lord Vishweshwar, gets the blessings equivalent to performing a pooja with hundreds of Golden Flowers.”
When Lord Shiva was narrating the greatness, he was accompanied by Lord Indra on one side and seven great rishis were surrounding him. (Kashi Khand, Chapter 99, para 5).” Even today, seven poojaries (believed to be the descendents of the great seven rishis) perform a daily pooja at Vishwanatha Temple at around 7-7.30 p.m., known as Sapta Rishi Pooja/Aarti. As on date devotees can see video clippings of this Aarti at www.shrikashivishwanath.org. However, devotees who visit Kashi must make it a point to participate in this Holy ritual and it is certain that they will like the Aarti to their utmost satisfaction.
There are various types of Poojas and rituals prescribed in ancient texts like Kashi Khand, Padma Puran, Linga Puran etc. but considering the present environs it may not be possible for any person to follow the steps mentioned in the above texts. It is believed that taking a dip in the Holy Ganges at Manikarnika Ghat and having darshan at Vishwanath Temple will cleanse all sins of a person.
The greatness of Visweshwar (Vishwanath) has been described amply in Kashi Khand in several places in several chapters and if an attempt is made to reproduce the same here, it may consume much space. However, it is sufficient to say that Vishwanath temple is highly revered and worshipped by several devotees not only from all over India but all over the world.
Every year on the day after Deepavali Amavasya, 56 Bhog Annakoot Shringar is done at Vishwanath Temple and this attracts devotees from all over the world. It is believed that having darshan of this beholding sight will prevent shortage of food at our house.
LOCATION OF THE TEMPLE
The temple is located at Ck-35/19, Chowk, Varanasi. The narrow lane or Gully approaching the temple is known as Vishwanath Gully. There are three approach lanes one via Dashashwamedh Road, 2nd via Bansphatak and third via Gyanvapi. It is difficult to prescribe the convenient entry point because due to heavy police patrolling, entry points keep changing. During peak rush days like Mondays and other important festivals, the police may regulate the pilgrims through Gyanvapi and the exit point may be through Bansphatak etc. Since the temple is located in deep Gully, it is advisable to visit the temple alongwith a local person or Guide.
TYPES OF POOJAS
The temple is open almost 24 hours with slight gap of about 1-2 hours. The day begins with Mangla Arti at around 2.30 a.m. to 4.00 A.M. Bhog is at 11.30 to 12.30 noon. Sapta Rishi Pooja is carried out at around 7 to 7.30 p.m. daily followed by Shringar at 9.00 p.m. and Shayan pooja at 11.00 p.m. The timings may vary slightly depending on the seasons (summer/winter).
Special poojas are performed daily at various timings by Nattu Kottai Nagaratthar Chatram (of Tamil Nadu) based in Varanasi. For South Indians visiting Kashi, it is advisable to stay for at least two days in Nattu Kottai Chattram and participate in the poojas undertaken by them.
POOJARIS OF THE TEMPLE
Since 1983, the management of the temple has been taken over by District Administration. The temple was in a congested premises and recently, a compound wall has been demolished to give more leg space and elbow room to the devotees. The details of the temple and various poojas being performed are also available in the temple web site www.shrikashivishwanath.org.