Day ten of Ati Rudra Yaga is almost complete. Day ten and then Day eleven are very important. Day eleven is the day of Maha Purnahuti. It is extremely special that we are all here in the city of Kasi that is located in between rivers Varana and Asi doing this Yagna in the presence of Lord Kasi Vishwanatha, Goddess Annapurna, Goddess Visalakshi and Lord Kala Bhairava. Lord Kedareshwara is here too. It is purely Lord Shiva’s grace that we are all gathered here for this event.
It is not possible to talk about Kasi Khanda (history and greatness of Kasi) in such a short time. The scriptures declare that every inch and every element of Kasi has immense significance. I already gave a brief three-day discourse on Kasi Khanda recently. Watch it again and rejoice. Why did we choose only Kasi? Because it is firmly believed that during dissolution, the Lord protects Kasi with His trident. Secondly, since there is no distinction between Shiva and Keshava in Kasi, we are here in the holy abode of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. And since Mother Goddess is here too, we are also in Her holy abode (ksetra). Further, since Ganga flows towards the North here, it bestows great merit to dip in the river. Dipping at Manikarnika Ghat is even more meritorious. All 333 crore Gods consecrated shiva lingas here. We cannot see them all due to the geological changes over the years. There are shiva lingas under shiva lingas in this city. These were established many eons ago.
Those who live or die in Kasi attain liberation. There are seven holy cities or sapta puras that are said to bestow higher worlds. But Kasi bestows liberation. You will not have a birth again. In the sapta puras, you can gain spiritual knowledge, but will come back from higher worlds once your merit is exhausted. But when you dip in the holy Ganga here and perform worship, rituals, prayers to Lord Shiva, Goddess Visalaksi, Goddess Annapurna or Vishnu, Kasi bestows liberation. If you die in Kasi, Lord Sada Shiva himself whispers taraka mantra in your ears. I already spoke about this in detail before.
It is said that there is no sin in Kasi. There is neither sin in touching a corpse nor in watching the cremation. Once upon a time, they would throw half burned dead bodies in the river. After this wonderful central government took office, they cleaned up Kasi as part of the svachcha bharat (clean india) movement. They widened the narrow roads. About 15-20 years ago, people felt the city was very dirty and nasty. Today it is very clean. You see the wonderful ancient city as you walk the lanes. Many of our ancestors must have visited this city. Sleeping even one night here bestows great merit. The people of Kasi are good.
People from across various states in India as well as abroad are gathered here without any differences for this eleven-day Yajna. The 250 scholars performing the Atirudra Yaga and the Koti Datta Homa have also come from all over the country including Varanasi. Scholars from various states have different styles and pitch of chanting. It is not easy to chant the mantras in the same tune and pitch while performing the Yajna. Atirudra Yajna is said to be the greatest of Yajnas. This Yajna is dearly loved by Lord Shiva. There is said to be no greater Yajna than this. This is considered the first and the last Yajna. Most other Yajnas are performed for fulfillment of desires. The Atirudra however Yajna gives liberation. Witnessing this Yajna once bestows higher worlds regardless of where we die. Simply stating every day that you are heading to Kasi bestows merit. Name your child Kasi. I named some of the birds Kasi. We see Shiva in Vishnu and Vishnu in Shiva. We are doing Yajna in such a holy city. How wonderful! Our ancestors are all very pleased with the Yajna we are performing here. They will all gain liberation. A small service that you offer here is enough to give you all higher worlds. We are donating food and clothes to the poor here. They will all appreciate Swamiji for the service you are doing. I roamed the city in Auto yesterday, I did not want police force and an entourage. I wanted to travel alone. Yet, I had many other people following Swamiji. I felt you were all very lucky that you walk through the traffic and chaos in the city and come to this peaceful venue.
Atirudra Yaga happens in many temples, but it is happening on such a large scale here in Kasi after 30 years (when great kings and saints performed the Yajna). May the king who built this large venue be blessed. This is garbha kasi. We are in Shiva’s womb. All this is like gau mukha – the channel through which abhisheka water flows from the plate. Swamiji’s ashram is in the middle of gau mukha. It is akin to being in the bedroom of Lord Shiva. It is impossible to destroy old buildings and build new ones in this part of Kasi. We got this new building and it looks great. That is where I wanted the Ashram and that is where we got it in Kedar Khand.