Pushkara or Pushkar is a Sanskrit word derived from the element of Push(Pushti) meaning nourishment and Kara means one who does it. Pushkarais the energy that nourishes. With reference to the sacred rivers, Pushkarameans the one who energize the rivers and provide spiritual purification.Pushkara also means Lotus, sanctified water, Swan, Sword, Sky, Lake Etc«In Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Stothram sloka # 5 we find a reference to theword Pushkara where Lord Sri Maha Vishnu is referred to as Pushkaraakshahmeaning the one who has lotus eyes, the one who provides nourishment tothe entire Universe and the one who is always present in sacred Theerthas.In Tirumala Kshethra the lake near Sri Varaha Swamy temple is known asSwamy Pushkarini.In Astrology also we find a reference to the word Pushkara referred to asPushkara Navamsa that purifies and nourishes the quality of the planetplaced within it. In Electional Astrology especially for a marriage muhurthawe find preference being given for Pushkara Navamsa for a given Lagna thatbrings strength to the muhurtha chart. Pushkar is the name of a famouspilgrim center known as Pushkara Kshetra located in Rajasthan about 17 kmfrom Ajmer city. It is said and believed that the lake here known asPushkara Lake was the creation of Lord Brahma on the banks of which Heperformed penance for several thousands of years. You will find here one of the very few temples where Lord Brahma is worshipped. Pushkara alsoindicates the 12 years time factor in Vedic terms. Pushkara or Pushkaram isa festival of a particular river celebrated once in twelve years based on thetransit of Jupiter (Brihaspathi) in the zodiac.
Who is Pushkara?
As per scripts it is said that Pushkara is the son of Lord Varuna the PresidingDeity of all the rivers. As per the legend behind, it is said that, oncePushkara prayed Lord Brahma and asked Him for a boon to live in the sacredwaters (emanated from the foot of Primordial Lord Sri Maha Vishnu) of HisKamandalu with the intention of providing purity to all the Theerthas(Rivers). Looking at the selfless desire expressed by Pushkara, Lord Brahmagranted him the boon to live in the waters of His Kamandalu. Later,Pushkara also performed penance and acquired the Jala Tattva Siddhi fromLord Shiva as a boon. By virtue of the boons acquired from Lord Brahma andLord Shiva, Pushkara became the King of all Theerthas and was regarded asthe Theerthapalaka.
Pushkara & Brihaspathi (Jupiter)
At that time when Pushkara acquired the boons, Brihaspathi (Jupiter) theDevaguru also performed penance and pleased Lord Brahma. Looking at theperpetual sacredness of Pushkara, Brihaspathi wanted Lord Brahma to sparePushkara to be with him permanently. But Pushkara was not prepared to goalong with Brihaspathi. Then, Lord Brahma resolved the situation by askingPushkara to be associated with Brihaspathi (Jupiter) for 12 days in thebeginning and 12 days at the end of his sojourn in a particular raasi (house)in the zodiac, the transit of which generally happens once in a year.Accordingly, twelve sacred rivers have been identified in which Pushkaraenters each River once in twelve years coinciding with the transit period of Jupiter in twelve zodiac signs.
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Merits & Significance
Astrologically Jupiter (Brihaspathi) the Devaguru is the most benevolentplanet symbolizing the wealth, fortune, learning, knowledge, divinity,progeny, domestic peace, auspiciousness and above all the karaka foroccurrence of Pushkaram. Pushkara the Theertharaja always resides in theKamandalu of Lord Brahma in the sanctified waters that has emerged outfrom the foot of Lord Sri ManNarayana. Entry of Pushkara into a particularriver signifies the Pushkara festival when, all the Brahmaadi Devathas, allthe Sages, all the Pithru Devathas, all the Theerthas in this Bhoomandalaincluding Ganga (Ganges) enters into that particular river along withBrihaspathi and Pushkara. This time of their entry into a particular river isconsidered as highly sacred and celestial that has the power to diminish theghastly and dreadful sins committed. Having darshan, taking bath, touchingPushkara waters, drinking the sacred waters of Pushkara is considered to behighly meritorious and soul cleansing. It is considered as the most sacredtime to perform rites to forefathers on the banks of Pushkara River that willhelp them to attain salvation.
Our ancient seers have prescribed certain austerities to be observed duringPushkara time known as Pushkara Vidhi. Most important are Pushkara Snana(taking bath), Pushkara Vaasa (staying), Pushkara Darshana, Siro Mundana(tonsuring of head), Fasting, Pushkara Pithru Karma, and Pushkara Dana(charity).
In Hindu philosophy lot of significance has been given for taking bath whichis Nithya karma and that too in a flowing river is considered as theparamount. Exclusive Snana Vidhi has been prescribed by our elders thedetails of which will be covered in future posts. Taking bath in a sacred riverduring Parvakala is still more auspicious and when it is the days of Pushkarathe merits are manifold. It is said that during Pushkara all the BrahmaadiDevathas, Sages and Pithru Devathas will be residing in that Theertha(River) along with Brihaspathi and Pushkara. During Pushkara all thetheerthas in the Universe will be entering into that particular river and willbe flowing as Antarvahini.Taking bath in a Pushkara river will help to cleanse the inner selves, washout the evil tendencies and open up a path for a righteous living. This bathshould be taken early in the morning before Sunrise during BrahmiMuhurtham which is highly meritorious time. It is believed that PushkaraSnana also has curative properties from chronic ill health. After PushkaraSnana one has to pray and give Arghya to the concerned Pushkara Theertha(River), Theertha Raja (Pushkara), Brihaspathi, Lord Vishnu who is eternallypresent in all the Theerthas, Brahmaadi Devathas, Vasishtaadi Sages,Gangaadi Rivers and the Sun God (Sri Surya Narayana).
Pushkara ± Pithru Karma
Pithru Yagna like performing Pithru Shraaddha, Tharpana have beenprescribed to get discharged from Pithru Runa. This has been in vogue sincetime immemorial and even Avathara Purushas like Sri Ramachandra (LordSri Rama), Lord Parashurama have performed Pithru karma. We, the humanbeings are no exception to this dictum. Performing Pithru Karma duringPushkara days also forms part of the Pithru Yagna which is considered ashighly sacred and meritorious. Only those who have lost their parents are eligible to perform the sacred rites to their fore-fathers. Pithru karma duringPushkara days has to be performed for all the deceased (Sarva Pithru). Ithas to be performed on the banks of the sacred Pushkara River like aTheertha Shraaddha.This has to be performed preferably in the form of Anna Shraaddha withPinda Pradhana and Brahmana Bhojana. Hiranya Shraaddha is also in voguewhere instead of rice, wheat flour is used for making Pindas and instead of Brahmana Bhojana they will be offered Dakshina. Pushkara shraaddha canbe performed on any day during the 12 day period of Pushkaram, or on the 9th day or on the Pithru thithi day if it coincides except on the day of Ekadasi. It is said and believed that Pithrus (fore-fathers) will descend onEarth during Pushkara days and will reside on the banks of Pushkara Riverlonging for their off-spring to perform Pithru Shraaddha. PerformingPushkara shraaddha, one will be bestowed with blessings from fore-fathers,peace and prosperity to the family. It will also work as remedy for variousmundane problems one is facing in life related to marriage, progeny, health,poverty etc.
Pushkara Dana (Charity)
During Pushkara period Snana, Shraaddha and Dana are considered to behighly meritorious that gives eternal results. This charity (Dana) can begiven to Brahmins in the form of Dasa Dana (10 in number) or ShodasaDana (16 in number). Some of the charities prescribed are as follows.Anna Dana, Gold, Silver, Bhoo-Dana, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Honey, Grandha(sacred text), Vasthra, Paada Raksha (Chappals), Umbrella, Hand Stick, Fan,Sayya (Bedding), Phala (Fruits), Bell (Ghanta), Paathra (brass/silver vessel),Asana (Mat), Nava Dhanya, Milk, Cow, Salagrama, Pinda Daana.Pushkaram is a very big river based festival in India participated by lakhs of people including foreign tourists and is performed across the path of thatparticular river. Since time immemorial Hindus consider rivers as Divine andriver worship in the form of Pushkaram is performed to make the mankindrealize the significance of water the life sustaining force. It is our ardent dutyto respect and follow the traditions and culture pioneered by our elders witha great foresight and Pushkaram is one such sacred Hindu sampradaya thathas descended from Sages which is highly auspicious and meritorious.