The Indian holy city of Varanasi is very much in the news these days. It is so because the BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi stood and won from its Parliamentary constituency. This attracted worldwide attention to the city.
Varanasi is the world's oldest continuously inhabited city. It is situated on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, emerging from the mighty Himalayas. Its original name is Kashi, derived from the Sanskrit "kash" meaning to shine and thus it is the City of Light.
Kashi is the city where Lord Shiva resides.The city reverberates with his name every second of the day. Oneof the twelve Jyotirlingas is in Kashi at Kashi Vishwanath.
Varanasi is also the city where Hindus can attain 'moksha' or liberation of the soul from the body. A bath in the Ganga in Kashi will wash away one's sins.
There are a large number of 'Ghats' along the river Ganga. The most famous for bathing and religious rituals is the Dashawamedh Ghat. The Manikarnika Ghat is where cremation is carried out and devout Hindus wish to be cremated there to attain liberation and salvation.
Varanasi also happens to be associated with Buddhism, for it was at nearby Sarnath, that Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon. It is also the city where Kabir lived and evolved his vision of religious unity and classless society.
The city is also equally very famous for its classical musicians and dancers who have established strong traditions carried forward by generations.
Varanasi has also been a seat of great learning,which has seen the evolution of different philosophical ideas of great persons like Patanjali, Shankara , Ramanuja,and Ramananda.It is a city from which great wisdom had emerged through healthy debates and discussions.
Kashi is also famous for it is manifestation of the famous Ganga-Jamuna mixed style of traditions which have enabled its citizens to overcome divisive forces and given it a unique strength to withstand them in times of crisis.
Today Kashi or Varanasi is in need of care and repair. The Ganga has become a polluted river discouraging the faithful from coming near to it. The city is full of dirt and filth dampening the devout from getting spiritual experiences.
The city gets a steady stream of tourist throughout the year because it means so much to Hindus and others interested in its unique culture.
It is time that this timeless city is restored to its glory by cleaning the Ganga and the city and allowing its Gang - Jamuni tehzeeb to spread throughout the country.The city of Shiva is capable of showing light to India and the world. Varanasi truly is a religious city.