“O best among me(Arjuna), the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress, and is steady in both, is certainly eligible for liberation.”
-Bhagavad Gita 2.15
Most Hindu traditions deem attaining Moksha is the raison d’être of life; Moksha, meaning, complete liberation from the cycle of life and death. So, how does one attain Moksha? According to popular conviction, it can be reached by giving up on everything that life has to offer, and surrendering oneself completely before the Supreme Being. But does Moksha mean giving up on one’s dharma, karma or values? Certainly not, and one cannot attain Moksha untill one receives delivery from the cycle of Karma. Only good deeds will lead to the ultimate and everlasting freedom to be one with God. But is Man’s life free from sins? After all we are only humans.
It is believed that the many water bodies, that we consider holy in our motherland, can purge us of our sins. Certain God’s benediction makes them divine to mankind, and capable of washing away the blots and blemishes of our wrongdoing. Ergo the presence of pilgrimage and miltitudinous pilgrims. Pushkar Lake of Pushkar in Rajasthan boasts of similar divinity. According to the Vedas, it was formed from the lotus (“pushpa” in Hindi) petals that fell from Lord Brahma’s hands (“kar”). Another account tells of a 9th century Rajput king, Nahar Rao Parihar of Mandore, who came across this lake while on a hunting expedition. In order to slake his thirst, he dipped his hand into the lake and was dumbfounded to see that the Leukoderma marks on his hand had disappeared. Overwhelmed by the sacred curative nature of the lake, he got the lake’s pre-eminence restored.
One of the most important pilgrimage destinations now for the devotees, it is said that no pilgrimage is complete unless one takes a holy dip in the Pushkar Lake. Abode to the most prominent Brahma temple in the world, it is said that if the ritual of taking dips in the scared water is performed in Karthik purnima, then it is equivalent to executing yajnas for several centuries. The Hindu scriptures also explicitly states the fact that apart from bathing in the ghat, performing a parikrama or circumambulation of the Pushkar lake, which covers a distance of 16 kms, on the day of Kartik Poornima would be highly auspicious for the devotees. About 8-10 meters deep with 52 bathing ghats and over 400 temples around it’s precincts, this sacred lake is thronged by thousands of devotees during the Pushkar Fair, held in the months of October-November.
There are 10 important ghats surrounding the Pushkar Lake, which have been declared as “Monuments of National Importance”. The sacred lake of Pushkar, along with these ghats, has been under the protection and refurbishment efforts of the Rajput as well as Maratha royal families.
However, the sins seem to be sipping from the bodies of the pilgrims into the holy water! The continual hording of devotees and tourists, has taken a toll on the beauty and freshness of the lake, adversely affecting its water quality, for which the government is undertaking water treatment, afforestation as well as mass awareness programme.