On Getting Moksha

Dear All: I came across this sloka about the various Shiva kshetrams in an article by the late Kanchi Paramacarya forwarded to me by a friend. (I was able to copy and paste the original article, which is entirely in Tamil, see end.) This sloka, cited by Kanchi Paramacarya in the context of a discussion on Carnatic music, also provides an interesting insight on what it takes to obtain moksha, one of the four primary goals of life – or Purushaarthaas dharma, artha, kama, and moksha.

Darshanaat Abhra sadasi jananaat Kamalaalaye l Kashyaam tu maraNaan muktih smaraNaat Arunachale ll l ll

A panoramic view of the famous Chidambaram temple, where Lord Shiva is seen as Nataraja. Among the kshetras it is known as the Akasha (or abhra) kshetra.

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This sloka mentions Chidambaram, Kashi, Arunachaleswara (Thiruvannamalai) and finally Kamalalaya. The last is another name for the holy city of Thiruvarur, which is known for its annual chariot festival. In fact, when something or someone is moving very slowly and deliberately, it is referred to (mockingly) as Thiruvaarur chariot. There is an ancient Shiva temple in that city, which I visited for the first time in 2011. (BTW, it was sad to see this ancient and historic temple in a greatly dilapidated state.) This temple city is also renowned as being the birthplace of three great Carnatic music stalwarts: The musical saint Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, and Shyama Sastri. ( birthplace of Tyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri, popularly known as the Trinity of Carnatic music, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiruvarur )

Tiruvarur Temple Chariot Festival 2010

Thiruvarur Temple Outer Praharam

Abhra refers to the sky, or Akasha. Chidambaram is known as the Akasha kshetram. We come across this word also in the dhyanam sloka of VishNu sahastranamam (shubraih abhrair adabrair upari viracitair mukta peeyoosha varshaih). The five gross elements (panca boothas, sky, water, fire, air, and earth) are represented, respectively, in the five Shiva kshetrams of Chidambaram, Tiruvanaikkovil (on the other side of Srirangam), Tiruvannamali, Kalahasti (near Tirupati) and Kanchipuram, see following from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srikalahasti_Temple

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Kalahasti is one of the five major Shiva temples (Pancha Bhoota Sthalam), representing each of the five major elements - Wind. The five elements are, 1. Earth – Telugu: 2. Water – Telugu: Jambukeswara Temple 3. Fire – Telugu: 4. Wind – Telugu: 5. Sky – Telugu: (Agni),Tamil: (Vaayuvu),Tamil: (Akaasam), Tamil: (Nerupu) - Tiruvannamalai (Kaatru) - Srikalahasti (Vaan) - Chidambaram Annamalaiyar Temple (bhoomi),Tamil: (Jalamu), Tamil: (Nilam) - Kanchipuram (Neer) - Thiruvanaikaval -

Ekambareswarar Temple

Chidambaram Temple

Nataraja with Vyaghrapada and Patanjali (left) and his consort Parvati (right)

Lord Nataraja at the Chitsabhai in Chidambaram. To the left of the Lord's idol is the Chidambara Rahasya - represented by strands of gold Vilva leaves. To the right is the idol of His Consort Goddess Sivagamasundari

One gets moksha just by having darshan (darshanaat, i.e., seeing or a glimpse) of Lord Shiva in Chidambaram. It is the place where we see Lord
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Shiva as Nataraja, performing His cosmic dance which attracts all the celestials. They all come to witness it. So, this place is called the great assembly (sabha). In his article Kanchi Paramacarya also refers to the Shree Rudram (3rd anuvakam) where we encounter Sabhaabhyah Sabhaapatibhyash ca vo namo namo. The sabha here refers to the great assembly of all the celestials to witness Lord Shiva cosmic dance at Chidambaram and Sabhapati, of course, is Nataraja, the Lord of this Divine Assembly. Hence, one will get moksha with just a glimpse of Lord Shiva in Chidambaram. Likewise, it is stated that one gets moksha if one dies (maraNaat) in Kashi. During my very first visit to Kashi earlier this year (in Jan 2011), I remember witnessing at least two bodies being carried away (they usually throw the body into the Holy Ganga, in Kashi) for final rites. Blessed are such souls to depart from this earth at Kashi. And, one gets moksha just by remembering (smaraNaat) Arunachaleswara, Lord Shiva as He appears in the Agni kshetra of Tiruvannamalai. The annual Bharani deepam, or Annamalai deepam festival (in Nov-Dec each year) attracts thousands of devotees to this holy Shiva kshetram. Blessed are such devotees who can both see Lord Shiva there and remember him too by recalling their visit and blessed also are those who can just remember, even if they have never visited. Finally, comes the fourth ksetram, Kamalaalaya, which means the abode of Kamala. This refers to the holy temple at Tiruvaarur. Just being born (jananaat) in this holy city grants one moksha, according to this sloka. Within this ancient Shiva temple, there is a temple known as Kamalambal temple. The Devi here is all three Goddesses of Hinduism Unified into one (Ka-Kalaimagal meaning Saraswathi; Ma-Malaimagal meaning Parvathi and La-Alaimagal meaning Lakshmi). Hence, KaMaLa + aalaya (abode) in the above sloka. This Kamalambal temple is considered to be one of the 64 Shakti Peedams (see travelogue below).

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http://travel.bhushavali.com/2010/12/tiruvarur-temple-tour-part-iii.html The three great stalwarts of Carnatic music, whose compositions are to be found in Sanskrit and the three great Southern languages – Kannada, Telugu, Tamil (although relatively few), were all born in Tiruvaarur.

In the article (see end), written by a young woman who came to see the Kanchi Paramacarya, the sage recalls this sloka during their conversation. She was a student of music and also had some artistic abilities. She had prepared a sketch of the three musicians and took it with her to get the blessings of Paramacarya. Her mother was planning a visit to Kanchi to seek an audience with the sage. She asked this young woman to join her. Much to her surprise, the sage saw the sketch of the three music stalwarts and started speaking to this young woman and enquired about her studies. He also pointed out an error made by her in how Muthuswamy Dikshitar was depicted in the sketch and asked the young woman to correct it and bring it back and show it to him during her next visit. (It has to do with how the veena that Dikshitir used to play was depicted. The “yaali” of the veena, see sketch, was depicted facing down. Dikshitir’s veena yalli was always facing up. The veena was supposed to be a divine veena, a gift from Gangadevi Herself.)
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http://www.angelfire.com/musicals/kallidaih ari/dikshithar_profile.HTML
Parts of Saraswati Veena

http://content.yudu.com/Library/A1ns1t/Vee naBasics/resources/3.htm http://www.hindu.com/fr/2011/04/15/stories/ 2011041550550200.htm During the conversation, the sage mentions this sloka to bring about the greatness of Tiruvaarur, the birthplace of the three music stalwarts. Although their immortal (Carnatic) musical works were in different Southern languages, they were all born in Tamilnadu, in this holy Shiva kshetram. So, the Kanchi sage told her that Tamilnadu can rightly take pride as being virtually the birthplace of Carnatic music itself.

Interestingly, in the article, the young woman mentions that she had gotten into a debate (or rather friendly argument), with some fellow students in college on this exact point a few days earlier and was upset about it. She was trying to convince her fellow students about the unique place of Tamilnadu in the world of Carnatic music. And, quite surprisingly, now the sage of Kanchi was pointing her to an apparent resolution of this nagging point of the debate she had. (Do read the original Tamil article; this is mainly about the sloka above!) It is often noted that the sage of Kanchi was a real modern day seer and a trikaala jnani (one who knows past, present, and future) and knew many things through his divine vision. He would often confound those who visit him with such “miracles”.

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I can recall my own experience too in this regard. He did NOT speak to me directly. He was observing a vow of silence at that time but looked at me and accepted the invitations to the 60th birthday celebrations of one of my father’s cousins (back in 1984). I was on my way to Kanchi and was asked by the family to present the printed invitations (before they were mailed out) to the sage and, following tradition, seek his blessings for the auspicious once-in-a-lifetime event.

On that day, until I came up to him, he had held his head down and did not even look at anyone. I observed this myself since there was a long line of devotees waiting their turn. When I came to offer my obeisances, he quickly lifted his head and looked straight at me, as if asking me to talk to him. I presented what I had, did my namaskarams, and sought his blessings for the 60th birthday celebrations of my father’s cousin. I still remember the joy my father’s cousin and his family felt when I related this story to them when I returned to Chennai (of the sage looking at me and my speaking to him directly, his assistants were doing it for others who wanted to convey messages they wanted the sage to hear). I also remember they all told me that I made a very BIG mistake in what I did.

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My father’s cousin, in particular, rebuked me for not introducing myself properly. He said that the sage knew my late grandfather (after whom I am named) personally and told me that I should have mentioned that I was his grandson. The reception I received might have been even more startling. Needless to say, the trikaala jnani sage did NOT need any such reminder from me. That is how I felt then, and even more so now, as I have grown older! I was also told that just his glance was enough. The mere fact that he lifted his head to look at me was enough. Darshanaat abhra sadasi … that abhra sadas must have moved to Kanchi at that moment! The blessings of that moment continue to this day. Very sincerely

V. Laxmanan Sep 29, 2011 Other internet references to this sloka: http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/advaita-vedanta/145910-digestparamacharyas-discourses-unification-advaita-shaktism.html http://groups.yahoo.com/group/advaitin/message/22406

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arunAchalA, or 'Hill of Wisdom', represents the Agni (Fire) tatvam in the pancha bhUta sthalAs of Lord Shiva (places of worship where Lord Shiva manifested Himself as one of the five elements). It was here that Lord Shiva resolved a dispute between Brahma and Vishnu as to who was the superior one by appearing as a column of light and then, in response to their prayers, manifested Himself as Arunachala. The temple, one of the largest (25 acres) and oldest in all of South India, is located in a town called Tiruvannamalai, 120 miles southwest of Chennai. Many songs have been composed in praise of Lord Arunachala. Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, in his panchalinga krithis, has composed arunAchala nAtham in the ragam sArangA. Here is a rendition of this song by the Hyderabad Brothers, Seshachari and Raghavachari.

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It is said that there are three major pilgrimage methods to achieve liberation from the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The first of these is by meditating within the Virupaksha Cave on Mount Arunachala (where Sri Ramana Maharishi lived from 1899 to 1916 in solitude). The second is by climbing to the top of Arunchala Hill's holy peak. The third method, adopted by many, is the custom of Giri Valam or Giripradakshinam, which is circumambulating the base of the Arunachala Hill. Muthuswami Dikshitar - The Eternal Pilgrim www.sangeethamshare.org/sunil/.../dIkshithar-life-Biography.doc File Format: Microsoft Word - Quick View The puranas have declared that birth at Tiruvarur, darshan of Chidambaram, thinking ..... 'smaraNAt kaivalyaprada caraNAravindam' (the Lotus-Feet that bestow ... Arunachaleshwara Temple

http://www.somasthyagaraja.com/2008_03_01_archive.html "By seeing Chidambaram, by being born in Tiruvarur, by dying in Kasi, or by merely thinking of Arunachala, one will surely attain Liberation." - Arunachala Mahatmyam by Sri Ramana Maharishi

http://travel.sulekha.com/a-view-of-chidambaram-temples_chidambaramvideo-21408.htm http://travel.sulekha.com/natarajar-temple_chidambaram-video-10817.htm The song accompanying this video mentions the cosmic dance of Shiva.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6B9Qe89YEU&feature=player_detailpa ge Beautiful video about darshanam at Chidambaram Amba chidambaraa naada nateshwari Ambana kaadhali Devi sarveshwari | Shambhu mohini Shantha dayaamani Dhukkha bhedhinee Shoka nivaarini ||

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKIo3-2MNf8&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JalH-kfDjRI&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUGg29s0IQs&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFhaPTtEDTs&feature=related
A view of Kashi temples – Bank of the Holy Ganga. Steps (called ghats) lead down to the river and boats ferry pilgrims up and down and across the river for the darshan and the holy dip in the Ganga (much more convenient on the other bank).

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http://www.shaivam.org/siddhanta/sp/spjyoti_vishvesh.htm Kashi SHRI VISHWESHWAR (Varanasi)

sAnandamAnandavane vasanta mAnandakandaM hatapApavR^indam | vArANasInAthamanAthanAthaM shrIvishvanAthaM sharaNaM prapadye ||

Location of Kashi Vishvanath Jyothirlinga
Where the Varana and Asi rivers join the Ganges, a beautiful city was built there in the ancient times. It was named Varanasi. A tribe called kasha used to live. Therefore, Varanasi was also known as Kashi. Near Kashi, Ganga flows in the shape of a bow. Hence it acquired special importance. A king called Deivodas expanded this area. Varanasi is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, in the Gangetic plains.
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The 12 jyotirlinga temples http://www.shaivam.org/siddhanta/sp/spjyoti.htm
There is an sanskrit shloka that lists the twelve jyotirlinga temples. (This and the complete dvAdasa jyotirlinga stotra could be found at Scripture Page) “Saurashtre Somanathamcha Srisaile Mallikarjunam| Ujjayinya Mahakalam Omkaramamaleswaram || Paralyam Vaidyanathancha Dakinyam Bheema Shankaram | Setu Bandhethu Ramesam, Nagesam Darukavane|| Varanasyantu Vishwesam Tryambakam Gautameethate| Himalayetu Kedaaram, Ghrishnesamcha shivaalaye|| Etani jyotirlingani, Saayam Praatah Patennarah| Sapta Janma Kritam pApam, Smaranena Vinashyati||” Mahadev, the Lord incorporates in Himself, the aura and the holiness of all the twelve JyotirLingas. The grandeur of these places is unique. Devotees line up in great numbers to take a look and get a Darshan of all the JyotirLingas. Location of the jyothirlinga temples Two on the sea shore, three on river banks, four in the heights of the mountains and three in villages located in meadows; the twelve Jyotirlingas are spread out like this. Every place has been described in glorious words by many detailing the surroundings etc. Those of us who go to these temples of Shubhankar Shankar- Jyoti-Sivasthan, receive the holy blessings of the Lord, and come back happy, peaceful and blessed. This in indeed depends on one’s devotion and experience too. (3, 4, 7 to visit) 1. Somnath JyotirLing in Saurashtra (Guj)

2. 3. Mahakaleshwar jyotirling in Ujjain (M.P.) 4. Omkareshwar jyotirling in Shivpuri / mAmaleswara (M.P.) 5. Vaidyanath jyotirling in Parali (Mah) √ 6. Nageswar jyotirling in Darukavanam <mah)< a=""> </mah)<> √
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√ Mallikarjun jyoptirling in Srisailam (A.P.) √

7. Kedareswar jyotirling in Kedarnath / Himalayas (Utt) 8. Tryambakeswar jyotirling in Nasik (Mah) √ 9. Rameshwar jyotirling in Setubandanam / Rameshwaram (T.N.) √ 10.Bhimashankar jyotirling in Dakini (Mah) √ 11.Visweswar jyotirling in Varanasi (U.P.) and √

Ghrishneswar jyotirling in Devasrovar (Mah). √

Sri Thripura Sundari Song
Parvatha Rajakumari Bhavaani Bhanjaya krupya mama dhurithaani | Dheena dayaakari poorna kataakshi Thripura Sundari Devi Meenaakshi || Aarani Naaarani Kaaarani Neeli Poorani yoga puraathana sheelee | Shankara naayaki Shaantha maheshwari Sundari veda vishakshini Gowree || Amba chidambaraa naada nateshwari Ambana kaadhali devi sarveshwari | Shambhu mohini Shantha dayaamani Dhukkha bhedhinee shoka nivaarini || Panacha dashaakshari panjara vaasinee Kumjitha paada Mahesha vilaasini | Kaachni Kaamaakshi Kaashi Vishalaakshi Kaarunya laavanya Akhilaandeshwari ||

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Death Hospitals in Kashi: For those who want Moksha
Dear All: On the very interesting topic of getting moksha (simply by dying in Kashi), I found an interesting article, see link below. The second link has the article (revised somewhat) that was uploaded earlier. http://www.mahavidya.ca/dharma-and-the-individual/death-hospitals-inkashi-kasi/ There are apparently "death hospitals" in Kashi where the idea of the hospital is NOT to save a person from death but allowing them to die. However, you can read about what is going on and decide..... Among devout VaishNavites, there is a similar belief that dying in Srirangam guarantees moksha and I have heard about at least one person who refused to leave Srirangam and then actually died there on Vaikunta Ekadasi (in Srirangam it was next day, according to all these "calendar" calculations). However, I am not aware of any "death hospitals" in Srirangam to date. The MaNikarnika ghat in Kashi, mentioned here, is a highly recommended place to visit (unfortunately, I did not, too late when I found out) and take a dip in the Holy Ganga there. It is believed that Lord and Shiva and Parvati also personally visit that place. Likewise, dying in Mathura is believed to guarantee moksha. This is described nicely in a composition known as Mathura Mahatmyam. http://nitaaiveda.com/All_Scriptures_By_Acharyas/Rupa_Goswami/9_1e_1 b_.htm

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Glories of Mathura from Mathura Mahatmyam
Text 1 harir api bhajamanebhyah prayo muktim dadati na tu bhaktim vihita-tad-unnati-satram mathure dhanyam namami tvam harir-Hari; api-even; bhajamanebhyah -worshiping; prayah-for the most part; muktim-liberation; dadati-gives; na-not; tu-but; bhaktim-bhakti; vihita-placed; tadunnati-satram-great sacrifice; mathure-in Mathura; dhanyam-auspicious; namamiobeisances; tvam-to you. Generally Lord Hari gives mukti, but not bhakti, to his worshipers. O Mathura, to you, who gives a great sacrifice of pure bhakti and who are very auspicious, I offer my respectful obeisances. Text 12 namani grihnatam asyah sadaiva tv amhasah kshayah sada krita-yugam catra sada caivottarayanam namani-names; grihnatam-taking; asyah-of it; sada-always; eva-indeed; tucertainly; amhasah-sins; kshayah-destroyed; sada-always; krita-yugam-Satya-yuga; caand; atra-here; sada-always; ca-and; eva-indeed; uttarayanam-Uttarayana. For one who always chants the name of Mathura sins are always destroyed. For him it is always Satya-yuga. For him it is always the auspicious time of Uttarayana.

Text 84 moksha-pradatvam. adi-varahe Šya gatir yoga-yuktasya brahmajnasya manishinah
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sa gatis tyajatah pranan mathurayam narasya ca moksha-liberation; pradatvam-granting; adi-varahe-in the Adi-varaha Purana; yawhich; gatir-destination; yoga-yuktasya-of one engaged in yoga; brahmajnasya-who knows brahman; manishinah-wise; sa-that; gatih-destination; tyajatah-giving up; pranan-life; mathurayam-in Mathura; narasya-of a person; ca-and. Mathura Grants Liberation In the Adi-varaha Purana it is said: The spiritual desintation attained by one who practices yoga, one who knows Brahman, or one who is a thoughtful philosospher, is also attained by a person who passes from this life in Mathura. Text 85 tirthe caiva grihe vapi catvare pathi caiva hi yatra tatra mrita devi muktim yanti na canyatha tirthe-at this holy place; ca-and; eva-indeed; grihe-at home; va-or; api-and; catvare-in a courtyard; pathi-on the road; ca-and; eva-indeed; hi-indeed; yatra-where; tatra-there; mritah-after death; devi-O goddess; muktim-liberation; yanti-attain; na-not; ca-and; anyatha-otherwise. O goddess, they who die in this holy place in a home here, in a courtyard, or on the road, attain liberation without any doubt.

Text 86 kashy-adi-puryo yadi santi loke tasam tu madhye mathuraiva dhanya ya janma-maunji-vrata-mrityu-dahair nrinam caturdha vidadhati moksham kashy-adi-puryah-beginning with Varanasi; yadi-if; santi-are; loke-in the world; tasam-of them; tu-indeed; madhye-in the midst; mathura-Mathura; eva-indeed;
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dhanya-opulent; ya-which; janma-birth; mau{.sy 241}ji-vrata-brahminical initiation; mrityu-of death; dahair-by the fires; nrinam-of people; caturdha-in ヘŠfour; vidadhatigrants; moksham-liberation. If Varanasi and other holy cities were assemnbled together on this earth Mathura would be the greatest and most opulent amongst them. With the fires of birth, death, or brahmnical initiation within its boundaries, Mathura grants the four kinds of liberation.

Text 87 na yogair ya gatir labhya manvantara-shatair api anyatra helaya satra labhayte mat-prasadatah na-not; yogair-by yoga; ya-which; gatir-destination; labhya-is attained; manvantarashatair-in hundreds of Manvantaras; api-even; anyatra-in another place; helaya-easily; sa-that; atra-here; labhayte-is attained; mat-prasadatah-by My mercy. The spiritual destination that in another place cannot be attained byt practicieng yoga for thousands of manvantaras is attainable by My mercy very easily in this place. Text 88 na papebhyo bhayam yatra na bhayam yatra vai yamat na garbha-vasa-bhir yatra tat kshetram ko na samshrayet na-not; papebhyah-of sins; bhayam-fear; yatra-where; na-not; bhayam-fear; yatrawhere; vai-indeed; yamat-of yama; na-not; garbha-vasa-of residence in a mother's womb; bhir-fear; yatra-where; tat kshetram-that place; kah-who?; na-not; samshrayetwill take shelter. Who will not take shelter of this holy place where there is no fear of sin, no fear of Yamaraja, and no fear of residing again in a mother's womb.

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Text 89 vina sankhyena yogena vina svatma-vicintanam vina vrata-tapo-danaih shreyo vai praninam iha vina-without; sankhyena-sankhya; yogena-yoga; vina-without; svatma-vicintanammeditation on the Self; vina-without; vrata-vows; ヘŠtapah-austerities; danaih-and charity; shreyah-benediction; vai-indeed; praninam-of the,living entities; iha-here. Withyout sankhya, without yoga, without meditation on the Self, and without vows, austerities or charity, the living entities here attain the greatest benediction. Text 90 krimi-kita-patangadya mathurayam mrita hi ye kulat patanti ye vrikshas te 'pi yanti param gatim krimi-worms; kita-insects; patanga-birds; adya-beginning with; mathurayam-in Mathura; mrita hi-indeed; ye-who; kulat-from the riverbanks; patanti-fall; ye-who; vrikshahtrees; te-they; api-even; yanti-attain; param gatim-the supreme destination. The worms, insects, birds, and other creatures who die here and the trees that fall down from the riverbanks here, all attain the supreme destination.

Text 91 varahe vimsha-yojana-vistaro mathurayash ca mandalam yatra pranan vimuncanti siddha yanti param gatim varahe-in the varaha Purana; vimsha-yojana-vistarah-20 yojanas in size;
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mathurayah-of Mathura; ca-and; mandalam-circle; yatra-where; pranan-life; vimuncanti-abandon; siddhah-perfect; yanti-attain; param gatim-the supreme destination. In the Varaha Purana it is said: They who die in the twenty-yojana (160 miles) area of Mathura become perfect and attain the supreme destination.

Very sincerely V. Laxmanan October 12, 2011

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