Our search for the holiest shrines along the Rewa River (Narmada River) takes us to the charming village of Shuklatirth located about 16 km from Bharuch. Not many are aware that Shuklatirth village located on the bank of the Narmada River is one of the most sacrosanct places in the world.
Shuklatirth derives its name from the Sanskrit words Shukla which means white and tirth which means holy place or pilgrimage. Locals say that most of the temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Devi Mata, Gopeshwar, Ambaji and others seen in this tiny village are over two thousand years old.
According to the locals, this ancient village has been mentioned in several Hindu scriptures. Legend has it that the mighty Chandragupta Maurya visited this historical place along with his minister Chanakya somewhere around 300 BCE. Both Chandragupta and Chanakya were known to possess miraculous powers. Chanakya, a devout Brahmin having achieved his ambition of destroying the Nanda dynasty and anointing Chandragupta Maurya as the Emperor of Ancient India sat down for dhyāna. He prayed fervently to Lord Mahadev and sought his blessings.
Lord Shiva was pleased with his devotion and decided to reveal the secret to liberation. It was imperative that Chanakya should atone for his sins and beg for absolution. Like in the days of yore, when Ganga Mata took the form of a black cow and bathed in the pure waters of the Narmada River to cleanse herself of the sins of millions who sought refuge in her, Lord Shiva asked Chanakya to commence his journey in a black boat from the mouth of the Narmada dressed in black and accompanied by a black cow. He told him to surrender himself in entirety if he truly sought liberation.
Lord Shiva said that the spot where the black would transform into white (Supreme Consciousness) would be the location of his liberation. Many scriptural authorities and historical records that have documented this event state that this transformation happened in Shuklatirth. Chanakya had Sakshatkara (coming face to face with the Ultimate Reality) of Lord Shiva in this sacred site who took the form of a Linga. This Linga seated in the Shukleshwar Mahadev Temple is worshipped by thousands of devotees who throng this place during the five-day Karthik Purnima festival. The priest says that Lord Mahadev answers the prayers of all and absolves them of their sins.
The holiest river, Rewa flows here in the shape of a half moon. It is said in the Hindu scriptures that during the ancient times, Rshis were meditating on the bank of this divine river. The current of the river gradually grew stronger and threatened to disturb the meditation of the sages. The Rshis sought the help of Lord Vishnu who manifested from within the unfathomable depths of the river and changed the course of the river. As the turbulent waters of the Narmada subsided, they found a dazzling white idol of Lord Vishnu emerging from the river. The idol made of white sand was installed in a temple that was built at the site.
This came to be known as Shuklanarayan that is seated in the Omkarnath Vishnu Mandir. This tall white idol of Lord Vishnu as chaturbhuj radiates tremendous spiritual energy. This idol looks like it is made from white marble but in reality, is Swayambhu made of white sand of the Narmada River.
This beautiful village is known to be an important centre of Sanskrit with many well-versed scholars assembling here to give discourses on the Vedas and Shastras.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)