Legend has it that of the nine forests or Tapovanams, the most holy is Naimisaranya. Located 90 km from Lucknow in Sitapur district of Uttar Pradesh, this is where Maharshi Krishna Dwipayana, known as Vyasa, segregated the Vedas into four and compiled 18 Puranas. Naimisaranya is also mentioned in the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Over a period of time, deforestation shrank the forest. Today Naimisaranya is a small village on the banks of river Gomti. But the sacred place is marked as ‘Vyasa gaddi,’ with a small temple and a banyan tree at the place where Vyasa performed the herculean task of segregating the Vedas.
The temple was built some decades ago to mark the place of wisdom, knowledge and for the worship of the ‘maha guru’.
The Chennai connection
A group of 30 from Chennai, guided by Vedic scholar Sarma Sastrigal, were spellbound after a visit to the sacred place. They had worshipped the guru by chanting from the Yajur Veda. Ganesh, a Chennai-based auto component manufacturer, was delighted at the opportunity to pay homage to a great soul.
He said, “Vedic knowledge empowers me to manage my daily life. Chanting slokas, according to the rules laid down by the Vedic gurus, soothes the mind and keeps me healthy.”
Another group member, a retired engineer and president of a pharma company, S. Mani said, “Following the Vedas and performing it everyday, brings me peace. It helps me to organise and deal with life in a better way.” He had chanted hymns sitting beneath the ancient banyan tree.
The youngest member, Aditya, was there with his father Sripathy. The 12 standard student was keeping up the family tradition. The women in the group also took part in the rituals performed by Vedic scholars at ‘Vyasa Gaddi.’
“After taking the holy dip in Chakratirtha and river Gomti, we gathered at Vyasa Gaddi to perform the sankalp, ‘Lokah Kshema.’ The sankalp was dedicated to the evolution of mankind from gross sensual acts to more dharmic ones that would benefit humanity,” pointed out Sarma Sastrigal.
“The place is maintained by the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department. Every ‘Guru Purnima’ day, people throng the place to perform the rituals at Chakratirtha, Lalita Devi temple and ‘Vyasa Gaddi’,” said the priest Kapil Sashtri at Vyasa Gaddi.
He added, “People don’t know much about Gurudev Vyasa and the holiness of the place. Only literate persons understand the sacred lore of wisdom.”