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Naimisha Aranya is a forest from ancient times located along the Gomti River, in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
The cow is referred to as Goh in this land. Goh, also means knowledge, wisdom, Mati, signifies intelligence. Naimisha Aranya, which is washed by the Gomti River, is the place sanctified by people who are repositories of knowledge.
Naimisha Aranya, location
Naimisha Aranya comes from the words, Naimisha and Aranya.
Lord Vishnu Slayed Asura in a Nimisha
A legend states that once upon a time, Lord Vishnu slayed a few Asura in just a moment, Nimisha. From then on, this place has come to be known as Naimisha Aranya, Aranya meaning “Forest”.
Rna means battlefield and Arana means, a place of no battle. Forests are places of no battle. The kings who wanted a break from daily activities and battles, always retired to the deep jungles, Aranya.
Here, it will be apt to know how much is a Nimisha. In the Indian understanding, which gives two Time Calculations for Nimisha.
Nimi Videha who was a propagator of Shalakya Ophthalmological and ENT Services. Sushruta, India’s first surgeon calls him the Adya Bhishag, the 1st doctor. He was 22 generations before Janaka, the father of Sita. He was named Nimi Videha, a he hailed from Naimisha Aranya.
8000 years of antiquity
Ramayana happened 7100 years ago as we have shown in our book and film, Historical Rama. Nimi Videha was 22 generation before Raja Janaka. Which means that he lived roughly 8000 years ago.
This shows that Naimisha Aranya has been a place of significance from atleast 8000 years back.
The Place free from the influence of Kali
There is another legend from the times of the Mahabharata, on the name of Naimisha Aranya.
Kali Yuga had dawned. The Rishi led by Shaunaka were concerned about the evil effects of Kali Yuga and approached Lord Brahma. They request Brahma to show them a place where the effects of the Kali Yuga will not prevail. Brahma then takes a chakra, a wheel and rolls it on earth, stating that the place where the chakra stops, will be the place where the Kali will have no influence. The Rishi then followed the chakra, which stopped at the Naimisha Aranya.
The Pond at Naimisha, where the Chakra stopped
The word Nemi means the outer surface of the chakra, and thus the place where it stopped is known as Naimisha Aranya, Aranya meaning forest. This place is also known as Chakra Tirtha.
From then on the Rishi, made Naimisha Aranya their abode, and set up their Ashram here.
The Journey of Mahabharata
Mahabharata is a historical record, authored by Krishna Dwaipayana, ‘Krishna- The Island Born’, popularly known as Veda Vyasa, the organizer of the 4 Veda. He was the son of a fisherwoman, and was revered by all then as Sarva Shreshta, meaning ‘best among all, scholars’.
Krishna Dwaipayana – Veda Vyasa
The initial work of Itihasa composed by Krishna Dwaipayana, was called “Jaya”. It was composed soon after the Kurukshetra war. Rishi Krishna Dwaipayana withdrew to the Himalayas and put together a detailed account of the events that had unfolded and called his Itihasa work as “Jaya”.
Mahabharata dictated by Krishna Dwaipayana to Ganesha
Jaya was then narrated by Rishi Suka to Parikshit, the son of Abhimanyu, which came to be known as Jaya Bharata.
King Janamejaya was the grandson of Abhimanyu. Abhimanyu in turn, was the son of Arjuna, the Pandava prince and his wife, Subhadra, who was also the sister of Krishna.
In short, King Janamejaya was the great grandson of Arjuna, the Pandava. He was also the great grandnephew of our legendary Divine hero, Krishna.
Janamejaya wanted to know about his ancestors, their deeds and the happenings of their times. On his specific request to know about the lives of his immediate forefathers, Krishna Dwaipayana directed Vaishampayana his disciple, who knew the story “Jaya”, to narrate it to King Janamejaya.
What Vaishampayana narrated after 50 years, came to be known as Bharata Samhita.
The narration Bharata Samhita, by Vaishampayana too needs to be looked at as the history of that family as it contains Jaya plus additional narrations by Vaishampayana who had also lived during the times of Vyasa, who was Vyasa’s direct disciple and was equally exposed to the events and stories of Vyasa’s times.
Soota Romaharshana, another disciple of Krishna Dwaipayana, Veda Vyasa, who was present at the above gathering, later narrated this story to an assembly of Rishi in the Naimisha Aranya, the Naimisha forest.
Soota were a class of people who were narrators and charioteers. Roma means “hair”. Romaharshana was a Soota, a narrator, whose engrossing style of narration gave people goosebumps making their bodily hair stand up in awe as they listened to him.
Soota comes from the root Sooth meaning yarn, thread. Soota is one who can thread events into an engrossing story for narration.
The word “Soota” is allied with the commonly used word Sootradhar for the central character of a story, one who leads the act. Soota was also the name given to charioteers as they controlled the horses with the reins.
Incidentally the expression commonly used in English for telling a story is, “to spin a yarn”. Interesting to note the similarity in concept between this phrase and the Samskrt word “Soota” and “Sootradhar”, for narrators.
Suta Romaharshana with the assembly of Rishi in Naimisha Aranya
Soota Romaharshana’s narration used Vaishampayana’s Bharata Samhita as a kernel and had further questions and answers built around it, to clarify the story further to the assembly of Rishi.
The completed narration that happened in Naimisharanya, acquired the name “Mahabharata” because of its size and weight, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
The conversations between Rishi that were compiled into Mahabharata happened in a forest – Aranya called Naimisharanya.
Rishi Romharshana then also taught Mahabharata to his grandson Ugrashrava.
Jaya underwent three recensions
Kurukshetra, the Compiling place of the Veda
The Veda were compiled in Kurukshetra between 3141 BCE and 3129 BCE.
Naimisha Aranya, the Compiling place of the Purana
Similarly, the Purana were compiled in Naimisha Aranya.
Kurukshetra and Naimisha Aranya
Naimisha Aranya is the place where the Purana were recorded and compiled by Krishna Dwaipayana as conversations between the Rishi there, led by Soota Romharshana. Initially, before this compilation, there was only one Purana, the Brahma Purana containing 100000000000 verse, equivalent to hundred crores. They were then divided and compiled into 18 Purana by Veda Vyasa. The Purana teaches man to lead a purposeful life based on Ethical behavior – Dharma, Creating Wealth – Artha, Satisfying Desires – Kama, Liberation – Moksha.
A Place of Significance during Krishna’s times
The Mahabharata and the life of Krishna happened 5100 years back, as we have shown in our book, Historical Krishna, pointing to the fact that Naimisha Aranya was a place of great significance at that period of time.
A Divya Desam
In Naimisha Aranya, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams, temples revered by the Vaishnava Alwars. This temple is among those 8 temples of Lord Vishnu, which is believed to be self-manifested and is classified as Swayamvyaktha Kshetra.
Along the temple, there is also an Ashwatha Tree, Peepal Tree, which was witness to the act of compiling the Purana and visit of Veda Vyasa to Naimisha.
The Peepal Tree at Naimisha Aranya
A Place of Confluence
Naimisha Aranya is a place of confluence, where people interested in Samskriti, Culture and knowledge of India come together in one place.
The words Samskrt, Samskriti and Samkskar all come from the same word, Sam meaning “good”, “refined” “beautiful” and krt meaning “to do”, “done”. The word Samskrt and Samskriti means “done to perfection”, “well done”. It is a language that is refined, well done.
Just as there are many conference halls today, Naimisha Aranya was the place of conference of those days. This place has a tradition in different fields like sciences, literature, and poetry.
This land has been known as Bharatha, from ancient times, Bha meaning light, which in turn represents Knowledge and Ratha meaning, ‘to Relish, Enjoy’.
Bharatha is the land of people who relished knowledge.
Naimisha Aranya is the place where the connoisseurs of the timeless knowledge of Bharata Desha, Bharata Varsha assembled.
Krishna Dwaipayana and other connoisseurs of knowledge, the Rishi, assembled at Naimisha Aranya