Kandu Ashrama in Purushottama Kshetra

BY: SUN STAFF - 6.6 2018

By Dr. Srinivas Acharya for Orissa Review.

[In Puri Dham] There are four ancient Ashramas or hermitages situated in four different quarters, of sages like Bhrigu, Angira, Markandeya and Kandu. Bhrigu and Angira are Vedic rishis whereas Markandeya and Kandu are puranic rishis. These Ashramas prove the antiquity of Purushottama Kshetra.

The four Ashramas are related to Sri Jagannath Temple in several rites. The images of Nrusingha, Narayana and Sudarshan visit the Ashramas in consonance with the rites on the occasions, namely Ashramabije, Amabasyaneeti, Chakrabula ekadashi neeti, Balabhadra Janmaniti, Radhastaminiti and Kumarapurnima, etc.

Maharshi Kandu's Ashrama is situated in Gaudabada Sahi. Regarding Kandu's arrival in Purushottama Kshetra there is a story depicted in Brahmapurana and Vishnupurana as follows.

Sage Kandu, chief of devajnas, was performing penance in a hermitage on the banks of the river Gomati. The glory of the sage was indescribable. Devaraj Indra was afraid of the result of penance of the sage, which could give him the kingship of Devaloka. So Devendra sent Pramlocha, an enchanting nymph to Kandu to distract him from his penance. Cupid [Kama], Spring and Malaya are also sent to accompany Pramloch to assist in her attempt. Pramlocha by her sweet words and enticing manners was successful to win the heart of the sage. Kandu accepting her as his wife, went to the valley of Mandara and lived there happily for a hundred years.

One day Pramlocha went and bowed before her husband and sought his permission to go back to Devalok.

'Dear, stay here for some time more', replied the sage. Another hundred years went by. Again one day she went and sought permission to go home. Again the sage asked her to stay for a while more. Centuries passed without the sage losing even a little of his amour. On the other hand, every day it found different channels of expression. One evening the sage stepped out of his Ashrama and on seeing that, Pramlocha inquired where he was going.

Sage: 'The sun is going to set. I am going to do my sandhyavandana. I do not want to bring a break in my daily ablutions and duties.' Pramlocha: 'Oh, Righteous one, did the sun set for you only today? The sunset of hundreds of years has gone by without your knowing. Sage: 'Dear, you came to this holy river-shore only this morning. It was only this morning that I saw you coming to my Ashrama for the first time.

Now the day is over and dusk is coming. Why this ridicule? Please do tell me the truth.

Pramlocha: 'Nine hundred years, six months and three days have passed since I came to you.'

Hearing this the great sage became very angry and scolded Pramlocha much. That beautiful maiden heard it all standing bathed in perspiration. The sage in rage commanded the trembling nymph to go away immediately from his presence.

Kandu was overwhelmed for loss of his spiritual power and vigour. He cursed himself again and again for his past deed. Devendra was successful in his plan and his seat was secured. The sage was impatient and his grief and sorrow knew no bounds. Finding no other way when he was going to commit suicide he heard a heavenly voice.

Oh Kandu! Do not do so. Now you proceed to most sacred Purushottama Kshetra, meditate there and be successful in your attempt.

Somehow Kandu felt hopeful of his deliverance. Maharshi Kandu arrived at Purushottama Kshetra which was like the heaven on earth. The land was full of gardens and orchards. The Ashramas of great sages like Bhrigu, Angira and Markandeya were there. He saw Purusottam in the temple. It is said that Purusottam kshetra was the king of holy places and Lord Purusottam was the king of gods.

Sage Kandu made a hermitage and practised right living, introspection, self analysis and meditation on the pure, inner self and recited Brahmapara-stotra written by Pitamaha Brahma. That stotra was very much powerful and could give immortality, freedom, perfection, eternal bliss and everlasting peace.

Brahmaparastotra –

"Param param Vishnuraparaparam parah parebhyah paramatmarupah. Sa brahmaparah Paraparabhutah parah paraliamapi paraparah. Sa karanam karanasamshritopi tasyapi hetuh parahetuhetuh. Karyopi chaisha saha karmakarturoopairanekairabatiha sarvam. Brahma prabhurbrahma sa Sarvabhuto brahmaprajanam patirachyutoasau. Brahmabyayam nityamajam sa vishnurapakshaya-dyairakhi-lairasangah. Brahmaksharamaj am nityam yathaasau purushottamah. Tatha ragadayo doshah proyantu prashamam mama."

Maha Vishnu, the all pervading Paramatman, the self luminous is the highest goal of worldly way. It is difficult to cross over His limit. He is beyond perishable matters and higher than sky, etc. He is endless. He is in the form of Truth. He is accessible only to mendicants. He is beyond the universe which turns round from creation to preservation and destruction, from destruction to creation. His form is not to be seen by senses.

He is the great Atman who is beyond senses.

He is the protector of devotees and fulfills their desires.

He is the beginning, the origin of the causes of panchamaha-bhutas or the five rudiments of matter and tanmatras or Sukshma-bhutas. He is the great self who is principal cause of everything. He is the supreme, He becomes possessed of supremacy. Thus He is the creator or progenitor of all creatures, actions and subjects.