Siddhpur (Gujarat): The Matri Moksha Sthal: Article on Must See India : 4302 | Mustseeindia.com
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Siddhpur (Gujarat): The Matri Moksha Sthal

by rajeshsahay1965 3 year, 5 months ago
Dharma, Artha, Kama & Moksha: the four “purusharthas or the goal of life embedded in the Hindu philosophy becomes a way of life for every Hindu who regards their observance as his “sva dharma”. Of these four goals, Moksha (Salvation) or liberation from the cycle of life and death is considered the ultimate goal of life for every religious minded Hindu- the very purpose of birth on this earth. It is therefore not surprising that there is abundance of such sacred places in India having historical, religious or spiritual sanctity and considered to deliver moksha, based on their religious acceptance and backing in ancient sacred Hindu scriptures. Gaya in Bihar is one such place where Hindus from all over world converge during the pitr-paksha to offer pinda daan for the salvation to the souls of their ancestors. Likewise on the day of Makar Sankranti (January 14th every year) Hindus converge at Gangasaagar for a holy dip on the confluence of river Ganga with Saagar for their own moksha (salvation) from the cycle of life and death. The sacred bathing or “Kumbh snan” at four religious and historical places of Ujjaini, Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad) and Nashik in turn is another such exercise aimed at attaining moksha or salvation. Salvation or freedom from the cycle of life and death is considered the sacred aim of life for every Hindu. It is also considered the sacred duty of every son to help his ancestors achieve this goal. Siddhpur in Patan district of Gujarat is one such place which is regarded as Matri-moksha sthal or the place considered pious by Hindus to perform rites to help his mother attain moksha (salvation).

Siddhpur is a city in Patan district of Gujarat located 130 kilometers north of the capital city of Ahmedabad. It is also known as the Sri-sthal or a “pious place” and finds a reference in the ancient vedic text the Rigveda, as to be located on the banks of the now lost river Saraswati and river Ganga. It is intriguing that a tributary of Ganga appears to be flowing in the western part of the nation along with river Saraswati in the vedic period or before that, though the same two rivers along with river Yamuna forms the famous ‘sangam or triveni’ at “Prayag” (present Allahabad) in Eastern India.  

The western express highway connects Ahmedabad with Palanpur and Siddhpur is situated on this highway 130 kilometers from Ahmedabad. The broad gauge railway line connecting Mumbai to Delhi passes through Siddhpur.

The most important religious place at Siddhpur is the Bindu Sarovar. It is a small tank which also finds a reference in the Rig Veda. Legend has it that it was on the banks of river Saraswati at this Bindu sarovar, Sage Kapila, the proponent of Sankhya philosophy, performed the Matri-shradh, mother moksha/ tarpan of his mother Devhuti. Kapila, son of Kardama muni and Devhuti and a descendent of Manu, was a vedic sage and is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu as per Bhagwata Purana. He is credited as one of the founders of the Sankhya philosophy. After his father left home, sage Kapila instructed his mother, Devhuti in the philosophy of and devotional worship of Lord Vishnu, enabling her to achieve liberation (moksha). Sage Kapila initiated his mother into these religious discourses at this Bindu sarovar, hence the importance of this place. Since sage Kapila performed this discourse in the holy month of Kartik as per Hindu calendar, this place witnesses a huge fair, every year in the month of Kartik, where people from far and nearby places visit this holy sarovar to perform the rituals for their dead mothers. Legend has it that Lord Parashurama, who attained notoriety for killing his own mother, had worshipped here to absolve himself of his sins and performed the matri-shradh for his mother.

It is interesting to note that while the legend of sage Kapila is associated with Gangasaagar, he is also associated with Bindu Sarovar. The common thread connecting these two places is the importance both these places lay in facilitating mortals in achieving moksha (salvation). Another issue of interest is the fact that while pinda daan is performed by sons at Gaya to enable ones’ ancestors attain moksha (salvation), he performs a separate ritual here at Siddhpur exclusively for his mother to enable her attain moksha (salvation). Faith in Hindu religion and tradition lay at the core of these rituals; but both these acts may be seen as an effort by a son to pay back the debt of his ancestors and his mother. Such a ritual is significant, more so, because it reinforces the importance and respect which a mother commands in a Hindu family, society and religion.

The Bindu Sarovar has been completely renovated by the present regime. While the original structure housing the ashrams of Sage Kardam, Mata Devhuti, Sage Kapil and Sage Gaya Gadadhar has been retained the area has been beautifully developed and the sarovar completely renovated to facilitate pilgrims in performing the rites. The Ashram of Sage Parshuram is also located in the vicinity and the whole area has been properly protected from all types of encroachment by ringing it with a huge boundary, with elaborate parking space and provisions for all amenities to carry out religious ceremony.

One cannot but marvel at the thought that Sage Kapila established his ashram at Gangaasagar on eastern border of the country as well as at Bindu Sarovar in Siddhpur on the western border of the country. However, the complexity of the issue gets considerably resolved if we accept him as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who took this pain only to help his devotees attain moksha: whether it was eastern India (Gangasagar), western India (Siddhpur) or central India (Gaya in Bihar which is associated with the legend of Lord Vishnu in the form of Vishnupad Temple and performance of pitr-shradh).

Another intriguing feature is the existence of Gaya Gadadhar Matri-Gaya ke Bhagwan at Bindu Sarovar, along with the Ashrams of sage Kardam & Devhuti (parents of sage Kapil) and those of Sage Kapil at Bindu SArovar. As per Gaya Mahatmya, Gaya Gadadhar Stotra by Brahma Shiva is chanted at the time of pinda daan at Gaya as it is considered to instantly relieve one of many sins, including sins committed by Pitras and help the soul attain moksha. Hence existence of Gaya Gadadhar Matri-Gaya ke Bhagwan at Bindu Sarovar establishes a common chord between Siddhpur in Gujarat and Gaya in Bihar as far as matri-moksha and pitr-moksha is considered. These unique features call for a thorough research of Hindu scriptures and religious texts for a proper understanding of religious places and their significance.

Further as we move ahead from the Bindu Sarovar we reach the Saraswati Ghat, which is popularly known as the “muktidhaam”, where funeral process is performed in “Gandharv Smashaan” tradition: a tradition alive only in Ujjain, Kashi, Prayag & Siddhpur. The river Saraswati is long lost and what we see today is the dry bed of the legendary river Saraswati. Plans are afoot by the government to develop the river front and divert water from other sources including monsoon tributaries to bring back life to this historical site. Moksha karmakaand is performed by Brahmin priests under the pipal tree in the Siddheshwar Temple complex near this ghat for their jajmaan (client). These Brahmins maintain a complete record of the genealogy of their jajmaan (client) in huge registers neatly tied with red coloured clothes. Folk lore has it that one must not say “let’s go” while leaving this place as it is believed that the person may well leave this mortal world. 

Arvadeshwar temple of Lord Shiva, developed by the Nath community and carried forward by Devshankar Bapa Bhatt, is considered a Siddhpith where vedic activities like laghurudra, maharudra, atirudra, agnihotra are performed regularly. The guru-shisya parampara can be seen here where thousands of ved pathis live a life of brahmachayra in the tradition of Lord Krishna- Sandipani.

The Rudra Mahalya temple and Jami Masjid are other places of interest at Siddhpur since both these monuments are protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The government has taken adequate steps for preservation of these historical sites.

Umaiya Devi mandir at Unjhaa- a place in between Siddhpur and Ahmedabad is a must stop over for every religious minded tourist. Blessings of Umaiya Devi is sought by every couple immediately after marriage since this blessing is considered to help a newly grihasth (family man) attain the four purusharthas of life i.e. Dharma (righteous living), artha (righteous means of livelihood), kaama (progeny) and moksha (salvation)- which brings us back to the nucleus of Hindu philosophy and religion.

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