Varanasi a symbol of India’s Unity in Diversity
Varanasi or Benaras, (also known as Kashi) is one of the oldest living cities in the world. Varanasi`s Prominence in Hindu mythology is virtually unrevealed. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws pilgrims who bathe in the River Ganges’ sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along its winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
During the Ancient time
Varanasi has always being in prominence for all the good reasons. During the ancient times, it was an important religious center. It also became the capital of the kings of 16 Mahajanpadas. Buddha in 528 BC gave his first sermon at Sarnath, it is also known as “Dharam Chakra Parivartan” means turning the wheel of law. The religious importance continued to grow in the 8th century, when Adi Shankara charya established the worship of Shiva as an official sect of Varanasi. Prominent writer Tulsi Das wrote Ram Charita Manas in Varanasi. Apart from him Kabir and Ravidas belonged to Varanasi.
During the Medieval time
During the Medieval period, Guru Nanak visited Varanasi in 1507 on the occasion of Mahashivratri. It gained prominence again during the Mughals. Akbar the Great, who was religious tolerant constructed two beautiful temples dedicated to lord Shiva and Vishnu. . The Kingdom of Benares was given official status by the Mughals in 1737, and continued as a dynasty-governed area until Indian independence in 1947.
During the Modern time
In the Modern period, Varanasi became a center of learning. The British Governor General Warren Hasting, Jonathan Duncan founded a Sanskrit College in 18th Century. It was an important center of rebellion during the first war of independence 1857. In 1897, author Mark Twain said about Varanasi, “Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Mrs. Annie Besant founded the Central Hindu College, which later became a Banaras Hindu University in 1916. Besant founded the Central Hindu College because she wanted to bring men of all religions together under the ideal of brotherhood in order to promote Indian cultural values and to remove ill-will among different sections of the Indian population.” Since 2014, our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modiji is the MP of Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.
The contribution of different religions has made Varanasi as one of the most important symbol of India’s Unity in Diversity