Triyugi Narayan - Where the Ceremonial fire of Marriage still burns !
As I entered the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple .The priest of the temple holding firewood in his hand pointed out at the burning fire , began to recite the below sankrit sloka I was at Triyugi Narayan temple in Rudraprayag.
Salutations to Vishanukapuri ; the Sacred mother Earth
The bestower of Liberation ; the preacher of dispassion and renunciation
The destroyer of sin ; the most unique ageless goddess
Triyugi Narayan is a Sacred Hindu Vaishnavite temple located in the Triyugi Narayan village in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand. The ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.Perched at an altitude of 6500 feet above sea level in the lap of snow clad Himalayan peaks overlooking Chaukambha massiff in the backdrop.
Temple is associated with legend of Lord Shiva’s marriage to goddess Parvati witnessed by Vishnu at this venue and is thus a popular pilgrimage centre. A special feature of this temple is a perpetual fire known as Akhand Duni – Eternal fire that still burns in the temple.The divine agni in kund that was lit during marriage ceremony is still not ceased. Thus, the temple is also known as Akhand Dhuni temple.The piligrims visiting temple offer firewood for fire and collect ashes as divine prasadham.
Temple Tales and Mythology
Temple has mention in the sacred scriptures of Skanda Purana and Kedar kanda. The word Triyugi Narayan is combination of three words “tri” means three, “yugi” denotes, yug , the period of time.The Triyugi Narayan temple resembles the temple of Kedarnath in architectural style and hence attracts a lot of devotees. Adi Guru Shankaracharya is credited with building many temples in the Uttarakhand region. The shrine houses a silver, 2 foot image of god Vishnu (Narayana), accompanied with consort – goddess of wealth Lakshmi and the goddess of music and learning, consort of Lord Brahma – Saraswati
According to Hindu mythology, goddess Parvati was daughter of Himavat or Himavan – the personification of the Himalayas. Sati, the consort of Shiva was the daughter of Daksha Prajaapati and Mainavati , Daksha – Lord of Mountains descendant of Bhrama. Sati had married Shiva against the wishes of her father. The vain Daksha performed a great yagna (with the sole aim of insulting Shiva), to which he invited all of the gods and goddesses except his son in law Shiva. Against Shiva's wishes, Sati attended this sacrifice and was insulted by her father. Unable to bear this insult, Sati immolated herself at the ceremony. She was the rebirth of Sati, the first wife of Shiva – who sacrificed her life when her father insulted Shiva.
Lord shiva was shocked by the act of Sati, and he was so grief-stricken that he went into exile, from the worldly affairs and isolated himself in the lap of mountains, austerity, and meditation.
Sati is reborn as Parvati,becoming aware of her destiny in early age, fascinated initially tried to allure Shiva by her beauty, but fails. Finally, she won Shiva by practising rigorous penance at Gauri Kund,
Triyuginarayan is believed to be the capital of Himavat. It was the venue of the celestial marriage of Shiva and Parvati, during the Satya Yuga, witnessed in the presence of the holy fire that still burns eternally in front of the temple in a Havana-kund or Agni-kund, a four-cornered fireplace on the ground. Vishnu formalised the wedding and acted as Parvati’s brother in the ceremonies while the creator-god Brahma acted as the priest of the wedding that was witnessed by all the sages of the times. The exact location of the wedding is marked by a stone called Brahma Shila, in front of the temple. The greatness of this place is also recorded in a sthala-Purana - a scripture specific to a pilgrimage centre.The image of Kalyana sundara scene of marriage came in my mind of lord Shiva and Parvati, from one one of my visit to UNESCO World Heritage site in Ellora.
Kalyanasundara Scene - Ellora Photo credit - Wikipedia
Pilgrims visiting Triyuginaryan temple also visit the Gauri Kund temple, dedicated to Parvati. Mythology states that Shiva proposed to Parvati at Guptakashi (on the road to Kedarnath) before they got married in the small Triyuginarayan village at the confluence of Mandakini and Sone-Ganga rivers.
Akhna Dhuni : Eternal Flames and its glory
A special feature of this temple is a perpetual fire that still burns in the – Yuga and “Narayan” is another name of Vishnu. Pilgrims have been offering wood to the fire in the Havana-kund (fireplace) since the three Yugas – hence, the place is given the name “Triyugi Narayan”. Yuga in Hindu philosophy is the name of an epoch or era within a cycle of four ages. The four Yugas are Satya Yuga (1,728,000 human years), Treta Yuga (1,296,000 years), the Dvapara Yuga (864,000 years) and finally Kali Yuga (432,000 years), which is the current Yuga.
The name Akhand Dhuni Temple also originates from the eternal flame legend, Akhand means perpetual and Dhuni means flame.
The local villages and swayam sevaks, Raval is engaged in keeping the fire flames alive and has not ceased till today.Locals and swayam sevaks work and contribute as a seva. Devotees add samidha (sacrificial offerings of wood) to the flame and collect the ashes Vibhuthi as blessings for spiritual gain and apply it on forehead.
Sacred Ponds and worship of Brahimashia
The temple courtyard adjacent to Pradashina Path is also the source of a Perennial water spring, which fills four sacred bathing ponds (kunds) nearby. A stone called the Brahma Shila – in front of the temple – is regarded as the exact spot of the divine marriage. The ponds of Rudra Kund, Vishnu Kund, Brahma Kund and Saraswati Kund are other holy tanks inside the temple complex. A water stream called Saraswati Ganga originates in the courtyard of the temple. It fills all the holy ponds in the vicinity.
Couples visiting temple can indulge in puja ,of Brahmashila. Services of Rawal are available at the temple.
Devotees visiting Kedarnath Dham, take a detour and visit the shrine of Triyugi Narayan and pay obeisance to lord without any casteor creed. locals celebrate festivals and ceremonies here as it is a sacred place.Shiva and Parvati are portrayed as Ideal couple. Now a days it has become a wedding destination too.
How to get there
- Triyugi Narayan can be easily reached by road from Sonaprayag .Nearest Rail head is Dehradun 250 kms. Airport at Jolly grant 15 km from Dehradun.
- Uphill road from Sonaprayag of 11 kms to temple is serepntine and narrow. Best way to reach is by SUV.
- It is better to opt to stay in Sonaprayag. Accomodation to suit everyone pocket is available as per requirement
We all know that Lord Shiva is one among Trimurti’s and Goddess Parvati is goddess of Shakti, his power.
Now let me explain how they got married? The story of their marriage starts with the evil demon – Tarakasura.
Tarakasura was a very powerful demon and had performed severe penances. Neither the humans nor the Devas were powerful enough to defeat and was invincible!. Tarakasura terrorised the Devas and the humans. Though the Devas tried to fight back, they could not equal the demon’s power or ferocity.
Unable to face Tarakasura, all the Devas went to Lord Brahma to for help. Lord Brahma gave a solution that only Lord Shiva’s child is the only powerful enough to destroy the demon Tarakasura.The Devas were in a confused state. Lord Shiva had married Goddess Sati. However after Sati's death, Lord Shiva Since then, had retreated to the Himalayas and was deep in penance.His meditation was so deep and powerful that he could not be disturbed.
The Devas then again approached Lord Brahma for help. Brahma asked them to pray Mahadevi, the great Goddess Sati,who was an incarnation.The Devas worshipped Mahadevi in all devotion. Mahadevi moved by their penance appeared before them and told the Devas that she would be reborn and marry Shiva. Their successor would slay Tarakasura.
Soon enough Himavat, king of Himalayan Kingdom and his Queen Menaka had a beautiful girl child. They named the child "Parvati". Parvati means "The Daughter of the Himalayas ".Parvati was charming, full of zest in her childhood. However she was devoted to Lord Shiva. Even in her childhood she adored him , instead of playing with her friends she used to wordhip him.
Parvati was trained , well versed in all vedas, Shastras and war skills. Proposals for her marriage came from nook and corner of the country. She was determined to marry Lord Shiva and no one else.When she repeatedly rejected her suitors her parents questioned her out of curiosity.
As "Parvati, wheather you are interested in marriage or not ?
Why you rejecting all the proposals with no reason. Please reply "
Parvati broke the silence and replied "I don’t like to marry them.They are not the one I am seeking for ..."
The discussion went on "Does that mean that there is someone else in your mind?" She was asked smiling at Parvati. Parvati replied ‘ Lord Shiva ‘ shyly
Both were surprised and Happy to hear at first, but in meantime were worried too. Yes Lord Shiva, the Lord of the three worlds was a perfect match for his daughter. They added that Shiva had become an ascetic and is in deep penance in the Himalayas. How can you hope to marry him...". Will he agree with his proposal Suddenly "Narayana...Narayana..." A mischievous voice came from behind them and they were surprised to see Sage Narada behind them. Sage Narada was Brahma’s son and roamed all around world. He was a mischievous sage and always getting himself and others in trouble. The only reason he always escaped from being cursed was all his exploits were always victorious motive was to good and all had a happy ending.
Sage Narada by his divya dristi knew that Parvati was an avatar and reincarnation, seeking Lord Shiva. Parvati prostrated to Sage Narada. Sage Narada blessed her and said, your wish will be fulfilled
King Himavat and Queen Menaka also bowed to Sage Narada in due respect !
Sage Narada addressed to Parvati, "What you have chosen is difficult task . To succeed you need to need to be devout. Not just for your pleasures but for the sake of whole universe.
Sage Narada advised to King Himavat. Approach Lord Shiva and tell him about her devotion, accept Parvati to assist him in his puja and meditation . King Himavat bowed and agreed. Sage Narada disappered from there.
The next day, along with Parvati, King Himavat traveled to the abode of Himalayas, where Lord Shiva was meditation.They prayed and waited patiently for Lord Shiva to open his eyes. Lord Shiva opened his eyes after a long time not even aware of their presence.He first saw Parvati but was not able to recognise that Parvati was infact his Shakti – his beloved Sati. He then turned his attention to King Himavat and questioned about his presence.
King Himavat bowed, "My Lord, this is my daughter Parvati. She has been your ardent devotee from her childhood. She wishes to serve you while you do your puja " .Shiva agreed to it. "If that is what she desires, then she can help me around." King Himavat then left Paravti there and left Shivas presence.
Parvati, from then started serving him. Getting flowers for puja and doing all chores with due respect All Devas sighed with relief when they saw Parvati serving Lord Shiva. They thought that soon Parvati would convince Shiva to marry her.
However, as the days passed, the Devas grew worried. Parvati's charm was not alluring Shiva. Shiva did not get any fascination to her. They were very worried as how to get rid of demon Tarakasura soon. So in order to speed things up, they went to Kamadeva – the God of Love.
Indra the Lord of the Devas summoned Kamadeva, explained the desire of Parvati and asked for help ‘ That they need his help to break his meditation by firing a love arrow at him so that he can atleast get to know the beauty of Parvati.Though Kamadeva knew about the incarnation of Parvati, they explained about the menace of Tarakasura too.
Finally Kamadeva agreed and finally agreed to help them out, Kamadeva discussed with his consort Rati about discussion with Devas and assignment.
After her consent he picked up his bow ornated with flowers and with the sugarcane arrows , went to the abode of shiva.He witnessed Parvati helping shiva.He picked up his bow and fired five arrows at Lord Shiva.
Shiva momentarily felt a sudden disturbed and got awakened. He suddenly looked at eyes of Parvati as if looking for first time. He felt enamoured by Parvati's beauty and was about to talk to her, when Lord Shiva soon realised that he is married and asked himself that how can be seek other women. Lord Shiva resolutely pulled himself together. Through his divine sight of meditation he understood that Kamadeva had been upto some mischief because of which he had lost concentration.
Lord Shiva known as Mukkanna ,Trinetra – Who has three eyes. His third eye is in his forehead and is always closed, for good reason. On being violent third eye if opened would destroy and burn up anyone in its path! Now Lord Shiva angrily looked at Kamadeva and opened his third eye. Poor Kamadeva was burnt to ashes in no time!
Lord Shivas anger cooled down. He closed his third eye. But he was still angry with himself for losing his concentration. He angrily turned to Parvati, "I do not wish you to help me. Leave me alone. Your charms will not work on me. Leave and go back to your parents and left to continue with his penance, which had been disturbed by Kamadeva.
Parvati was distressed that Shiva had spoken harshly to her and had left her. Parvati was sure that no matter how much she impressed Shiva, he would never agree, he is determined and sure will not let her help him again.
Parvati realised that she could not give up now. The days she had been with Shiva, she realized that she was more in love with him than she realized.
She wondered how she was pondering about how to win shivas heart when suddenly she heard a familiar voice behind her. "Narayana... Narayana...of Narada"
She expresed her grief to sage. He advised ‘ Lord Shiva cannot be won by your charm and beauty, but he can be only won by devotion.". No one can stop you doing that..
Parvati looked at Narada and realized what she had to do. She decided to perform penance to win shivas' hand. She set out to the Himalayas in determination.
Later Rati came to know of her husband’s end and came seeking help to Parvati, as she was scared to go to Lord Shiva. She cried her with broken heart. Later parvati who consoled her. She said "Rati, listen to me. I will win Shiva." Bring back Kamadeva to life again. Confidently!
Rati convinced left her presence. Parvati went into deep penance. She worshipped Lord Shiva for years, but still no signs of Shiva being pity on her.As Parvati meditated fiercely, since she knew the truth about herself, that she was an incarnation of Mahadevi and that it was her destiny to become Shiva’s Shakti she never bothered about hardships. With her meditation, Parvati became all-powerful. With her powers of penance, she soon became nirahara , without inhaling even air.However, Parvati’s penance was so powerful that the Devas do not resist the energy.All the Gods rushed to Brahma. Creator Brahma and Vishnu together went to Shiva and told him that Parvati’s motive and penance was to end immediately, or the whole Universe in trouble
Shiva realised that Parvati was not just an individual and realized that she was having a superpower.He was not ready to accept her still and pondered! The next day as Parvati was about to begin her penance, she saw a young ascetic staring at her in.
Parvati looked at him and questioned about his looks…
Ascetic replied ‘ I am seeing you since years, you are doing penance and what for ‘
Parvati replied ‘ to seek Lord Shiva by my devotion ‘
He began to make fun of Lord – He is homeless, stays in the graveyard and leads a life of an ascetic. What worldly pleasure you can expect from him…
Instead of marry a king and stay in the palace…You are on a wild goose chase. Your efforts will go in vain. Parvati eyes started burning like sun when she heard the ascetic making fun of Lord Shiva, she started explaining the glories of Lord patiently and saying he is the master of three worlds with pride..Shiva moved by devotion looked at Parvati, began to rethink when she said that, something changed in him. He realized that she was his Shakti. She was indeed his wife reborn and held her hand.
They had always been together known as Ardhanarishvara and inseparable. Just with different names. Lord Shiva was the father of the universe and Goddess Parvati the mother.Goddess Parvati shyly turned to Lord Shiva, "My Lord, you have to come to my father and ask for my hand. It is customary and tradition.
Lord Shiva agreed and went back to Kailasa, whereas Goddess Parvati returned to her parents. Later Lord Shiva approached King Himavat and proposed to marry his daughter. Himavat happily agreed to it. All the devas, Sages, and Lord Vishnu, Brahma attended the celestial wedding ceremony and blessed the couple. After their marriage, Goddess Parvati they were blessed with a male child and named him Lord Kartikeya, known in various names Muruga defeated and slain the evil demon Tarakasura.
To keep her promise, Goddess Parvati requested Lord Shiva to bring back Kamadeva to life. Lord heeded to her request and Rati got her husband back!