Legends & Mythology of Ujjain

The Land of the Sages

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The Skanda Purana describes the glory of Ujjain in great detail. According to the Avanti Khanda of the Skanda Purana, Avantipura, the capital of Avanti, came to be called Ujjayini. This text also mintions Ujjayini`s previous names in different ages – Kumudavati, Kushasthali, Avantika, Amaravati, Chudamani and Padmavati. India`s prime meridian passes through Ujjain. it is from here that traditional scholars still calculate the ephemeris, or the tables of the astrological almanac that control the fate of Hindus.

The only thing that can rival the number of temples in this town is the sheer number of legends and myths associated with it. An ancient Hindu mythological tale talks about the churning of the oceans by gods and demons, in search of the nectar of immortality or amrit. When the coveted vessel was finally found, there followed a wild scramble for it across the heavens, with the demons chasing the gods. In the resulting frenzy, a few drops of the precious liquid spilled and fell in Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain. by virtue of being such a ‘blessed city’, Ujjain hosts the Kumbh Mela every 12 years.

Another legend states that Ujjain is one of the Saptapuris, or the seven holy sites on India that grant pilgrims moksha (libration from the cycle of birth and death), the other six being Varanasi, Haridwar, Ayodhya, Mathura, Dwarka and Kanchipuram. The town is equally central to both the Shaiva and Shakta traditions. It is home to Mahakaleshwar Temple, one of the 12 jyotirlinga shrines. It is also where Sati`s elbow fell when her dead body was dismembered during Lord Shiva`s tandava nritya or the dance of destruction. The exact spot is commemorated as the Harsiddhi Temple.

The gods congregate in Ujjain not only to deliver salvation, but also for their own fulfillment. As a little boy, Lord Krishna received education in the gurukul of the sage Sandipani, and even the holy Ganga is said to have bathed in the Shipra to cleanse herself of her sins.

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