published on January 12, 2010
Significance of the Hoary Kumb Tradition

Bharat (India) is a River Civilization. A Kumbha Mela is the largest gathering of people for a religious purpose in the world. It is a Lifetime Experience. The Mela (gathering/meet/fair) is called “Kumbh” as it is celebrated under the zodiac sign of Kumbh (Aquarius). It celebrates the Pauraanic “Amrit Kumbha” (Nectar/panacea of energy and immortality contained in a Pitcher/Kumbh/Kalash as discussed in the Deva Kathaas). It inspires man to discover Immortality (Amritam), Light (Jyoti) and Truth (Sat) – in fact the macrocosm (Brahmaand) in the microcosm (Pinda/Kumbh=human body) – whereby the Jeeva/Nara (man) becomes Shiva/Narayan (Cosmic Man) through cultivation and release of the potential Kundalini Shakti that unfolds the seven higher radically different levels of consciousness beyond the normal three.

A Tirtha/Teerth is a pilgrimage site. Literally, the Sanskrit term Teerth means a ford – a shallow place in a river where one can walk or drive across. A tirtha provides the inspiration to enable one to cross over from worldly engagements to the side of Moksha (Moh-Kshyay) – Enlightenment, Self-Realization (Truth), identification with cosmic consciousness & realization of Immortality free from the limitations of the world of relativity and mortality. A Tirth on earth is a spiritual ford that empowers man to go across from his/her micro unenlightened worldly existence to the macro enlightened godly existence. It is, therefore, prescribed in the scriptures to perform Snaan (holy bath), Daan (donations), Punya (altruistic acts to earn spiritual merits), etc., when visiting a Tirth (place of pilgrimage). Generally speaking, a Tirth is a sacred place that bears the footprints of a Devta (deity) or some Mahapurush (great soul) or bears witness to some big positively transforming event or home to some holy river, sea shore, holy pond, holy lake, etc. People visit Tirthas with prayers for spiritual emancipation and God-Realization.
Three kinds of Teerthas are recognised in Bharat, viz., “Jangam Teerth” (e.g., Realized/Enlightened Souls, Saints, Yogis), “Maanas Teerth” (e.g., Great Altruists/Paraarthvaadis/Parahitavaadis that have concern for the needs and feelings of other people above their own and they are committed and dedicated to Seva activities. There is no room for egotism in their life) and “Sthaavar Teerth” [Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kashi (Varanasi), Kanchi, Avantika (Ujjain) and Dwarakapuri are the Saptapuris and Mokshadaayini Teerthas. Every Hindu is expected to cover these Teerthas at least once in his/her lifetime]. Innumerable Sthavar Tirthas dot the whole Akhand Bharat. The Padma Puraan talks of 3.50 crore (35 million) Tirthas! The said three kinds of Teerthas are the salt of our planet Earth.

Our Rishis were the Jangam Teerthas and the great Seva-Dharmis were the Maanas Teerthas. They were, nevertheless, scientists and masters of intuition with comprehensive universal perception and eye for details. They had the holistic worldview and developed a holistic paradigm. They anticipated the theories like the unified field (Vishwaroop), superstring, quantum, etc. They did not see man and the earth in isolation, but recognised their cosmic connection. They saw relativity in the intraplay and interplay in the solar system including the sun, moon, planets and other heavenly bodies. They studied the factors like solar wind, radiation, gravitation, tides, distance, life, nature, time, space, etc. They studied the positions and movements of stars and planets and their influence on earth and man. They also studied the universe and its origin and development. They had disproved the geocentric and the heliocentric views of the universe. They took into account all such factors to realize a holistic equation which also identified areas on earth that had the right electromagnetic field and receptivity to beneficial cosmic radiation conducive to the spiritual growth of man. They designated these places as perennial Sthaavar Teerthas. The specific Parvas (festivals/fairs) at specific Teerthas were determined on the basis of the times when the respective Teerthas become influenced by specific positive radiation from specific combination angles of planets and the sun that empowers, energises and medicates the water, air, land, etc., of the particular Teertha conducive to physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing and growth of man. The Teerthas celebrate a nature and life friendly worldview.

To watch a Kumbh Shahi Snaan (Royal Bath) procession of Sadhus, Nagas, Yogis, Sannyasis and millions of lay devotees is to witness the march of centuries. The actual Kumbh at Haridwar in 2010 opens with the First Shahi Snaan (Royal Bath) on February 12, 2010. Ten Crore (100 Million) people are estimated to cover this Kumbh fair during about 75 days period of Kumbh. But the spectacular D-Day that will wear a global look (other days are likely to wear local and regional look) is on April 14Wednesday, 2010. The 3rd & Main Shahi Snan at Haridwar on 14th April commences at 06.56 A.M. when the aligned astronomical configuration of Jupiter (Vrihaspati/Guru) with Aquarius (Kumbh), Sun with Aries (Mesha) and Moon with Sagittarius (Dhanu) takes place. This planetary position is said to medicate the waters of Ganga at a particular spot called Har-ki-Pauri (steps of God) on the banks of River Ganga in Haridwar (Gateway to Hari, i.e., Badrinath)/Hardwar (Gateway to Har, i.e., Kedarnath), and turns it into nectar on these days, thereby attracting millions to purify their inner-self through holy bathing rituals. Spiritually, position of planets during the Kumbh Mela is good for concentration and meditation. Two Crore (20 Million) people are estimated to keep their date with Haridwar on this day for which they will descend on the pilgrimage town well in time and try to take the holy dip at the appointed time in the Ganga at Har-Ki-Pouri (Steps of God) and nearby ghats. The concluding Haridwar Kumbh Snan is on April 28, 2010.

Capt. Thomas Skinner witnessed the Kumbh Fair at Haridwar in 1830 said, “We had passed thousands of people in every description of vehicles hastening towards it. They were of all ages, all costumes and all complexions; no spot on earth can produce so great a variety of the human race at one assemblage.”

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