Akshayavat and Shukdev Ashram, Shukratal, Muzaffarnagar District, Uttar Pradesh

The sacrosanct tirthasthala of Shukratal now known as Shukrateerth (Shukratirth) is one of the most picturesque places located on the course of the downstream Ganga. This beautiful place full of ancient temples, bathing ghats and wells is truly a spiritual treasure trove for the followers of Sanatana and Advaita.


This divine place derives its name from the venerable Guru of the Rishis namely Shuka Paramarshi, son of Veda Vyāsa Maharshi. This exemplary personality arrived in this holy place to impart the knowledge of the Supreme Being in the form of Srimad Bhagavatha to Parikshit Maharaj after the latter was cursed to die by a snakebite within seven days.


This momentous event was witnessed by the entire gamut of creation including sages, celestial beings, animals, birds and the pious. It is said that Shuka Paramarshi seated himself under the extraordinary AkshayavataAkshayavata is derived from the Sanskrit words akshaya meaning eternal or imperishable or indestructible and vata meaning banyan or sacred fig and therefore, literally translates to the eternal banyan (fig).


According to the Hindu scriptures, at the time of the Maha Pralaya (the great dissolution of creation {universe}] when there is only water all round and no sign of life, Markandeya Maharshi has darshan of Lord Krishna in the form of Bala Mukunda on a gigantic leaf of the vata vriksha (banyan tree). It is this sacred tree that is the foundation for all creation and known as the Tree of Knowledge and Wisdom (JñānaVijñāna and Prajñāna).


This imperishable tree of Creation is said to be at least 5000 years old if not more. This tree sits majestically in a sprawling temple complex that also houses the Shukdev Ashram, goshala, smaller shrines dedicated to Lord Krishna, Lord Maheshwara and others. An idol of Shuka Muni and Parikshit Maharaj is seen in the sanctum sanctorum of the ashram.


You will find many people doing parayana of Srimad Bhagavatha, singing devotional songs and meditating under this old tree. There is a well nearby that is believed to be of the Mahabharat Period known as Pandavakalin bavali.


Thousands of devotees come here every year to take a dip in the Ganga in the auspicious month of Karthik and worship this magnificent tree that has been a silent witness to the passing times.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian


* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)

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