Saturday, December 27, 2014

Temple at Satuwa Baba Ashram, Manikarnika Ghat

This is the temple at Satuwa Baba Ashram at Manikarnika Ghat. This ashram follows the Vaishnavite Rudra Sampradaya (a philosophy said to have been established by Shri Adi Vishnuswami in 3rd century BC).

Within traditional Vaishnavam there are four main Sampradayas (philosophies with guru-disciple lineages), each of which traces its roots back to a specific Vedic figure (Rudra Sampradaya, Brahma Sampradaya, Lakshmi Sampradaya, Kumara Sampradaya). Of these, Rudra Sampradaya of Vishnuswami is the oldest. The philosophy of Vishnuswami is called Shuddha Advaita, or Pure Advaita. Rudra or Shiva is said to be the foremost and ideal Vaishnavite, who teaches the Shudda Advaita philosophy to humankind.

The Satuwa Baba ashram was established in the 1800s by an ascetic from Bhavnagar in Gujarat who followed the Shudda Advaita philosophy. It is said that here Lord Shiva appeared to the Baba in the form of an old man and taught him the philosophy. The current mahant is Shri Santosh Das, who is the 7th Satuwa Baba. The previous mahant Shri Yamunacharyaji died in 2012 at the age of 99 years. Apart from being the head of the Satuwa Baba Ashram, he was also the head (Acharya) of the Vishnuswami Sampradaya itself, and a highly respected guru.

Many miracles are attributed to Satuwa Baba, such as bringing a dead man back to life, and miraculously finding gold coins in the river. As a result, the Satuwa Baba Ashram has become famous. Processions of dead bodies stop at this ashram and pay their respects before proceeding to the ghat. After the cremation ceremony the sanskar ghada (clay pot) is also broken here.

There are also ancient legends associated with Satuwa Baba Ashram. The ascetic Vishnuswami who founded the Rudra Sampradaya is believed to have visited this place in person (since the name Vishnuswami actually refers to 3 different people within the Rudra sampradaya, this legend probably refers to the second Vishnuswami who lived around 8th or 9th century, or to the third Vishnuswami who lived in the 14th century). Shankaracharya (8th century) is also believed to have visited this place, and it is said that he was tested here by Lord Shiva in the form of a Chandala.

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