“Kashi is older than history , older than traditions ,older even than legends and look twice as old as all of them put together “–Mark Twain
Kashi Vishwanath Dham finds its roots in many scriptures of Sanatana Dharma,including Rig Veda,Skanda Mahapurana, Ramayana,Mahabharata and many others.
Temple existed in 9th century BCE
During excavation in Rajghat space, the archaeologists discovered the Avimukteswara seal from the period of 9th century BCE.The existence of this temple of Lord Shiva within the 9-10 century BCE after its seal was discovered from the archaelogical excavation.
Varanasi is also linked to other religions for example the Jain Tirthankara Parsvanatha was born in Varanasi in the 8th century BCE. Mahavira, the final Tirthankara, who lived on earth between 599 to 527 BCE, was from Varanasi as well.
During 320-550 CE,Kashi saw a lot of transformation and during this time the temple of Vishwanath was built.
Attacks and destructions of the temple
In 1194 Mohammad Ghori ordered his slave Qutub-ud -din Aibak to destroy Varanasi along with the temples .Thousands of temples were destroyed and the city was looted,including the Vishwanath temple.Later the temple was reconstructed but it faced further destruction by firoz shah tughlaq in 1300s. The city was further destructed during the rule of Sikandar Lodi.
During 1584-85 the temple was rebuilt under the supervision of Narayan Bhatt.But in 1669 , Aurangzeb again ordered its demolition and a mosque was built in its place.Ahilyabai Holkar,the queen of Indore rebuilt the temple in 1777. Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent the gold to be plated on the temple domes.
In 2019, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the construction of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor was started. In 2021, PM Modi dedicated the corridor to the nation.
The Importance of Vishwanath temple
In relation to Kashi it is mentioned in Skanda Mahapurana that the scion of family of Dilipa brought Ganga to Kashi. It says that this place is called Kashi because this is a place where one can attain Nirvana, the complete liberation.Skanda told Agatsya that if a person dies in Kashi, the person will attain Moksha. The soul of the person gets liberated without Nididhyāsana or the continuous practice of meditation. He said, “without the knowledge that roots out Karmas, a person who dies in Kāśī becomes immortal, with the favour of the Moon-crested Bhagwan.”
The story linked to the lingam is as follows:
As per the Shiva Purana, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of Preservation) had an argument about who was supreme. To test them Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. To determine who was mightier Vishnu took the form of a boar and sought out the bottom while Brahma took the form of a swan to fly to the pillar’s top. Brahma out of arrogance lied that he had found out the end, offering a katuki flower as witness. Vishnu modestly confessed to being unable to find the bottom. Shiva then took the form of the wrathful Bhairava, cut off Brahma’s lying fifth head, and cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped. Vishnu for his honesty would be worshiped as equal to Shiva with his own temples for all eternity.
The Wisdom well or the Jñānavāpī Koop also has a story linked to it .In Sata Yuga, Isana, the Rudra form of Bhagwan Shiva, was roaming here and there. When he reached Kashi, also known as Mahashamshana or the Great Cremation Ground, he came across the Swayambhu Shiva Linga.Isana, in order to bathe the Linga with water, dug up the Jñānavāpī Koop with his Trishul or Trident. The cold water came flowing out of the well. The water was sparkling with colours like the minds of good people. Its lustre was as beautiful as the moonlight. It was holy and pure, like the name of Bhagwan Shiva.It is believed that Lord Shiva resides in the well in the form of Gyana, assuming the liquid form.It is the cosmic form of Shiva itself and if anyone listens to the origin of Jñānavāpī with great attention, his knowledge does not become extinct even on death anywhere as stated in the Skanda Purana.
The city of Varanasi illumines truth and reveals the reality.It does not brings new wonders to the scope of vision but enables us to see what is already there.Where the etenal light intersect the earth that place is Kashi.