I am in the city of Varanasi. I want to know what makes Varanasi so special in Vedic memory ? Are there any references to Varanasi in the Vedas ?
Are there any references to Varanasi in the Vedas ?
Yes there are reference of Varanasi also known as Benares or Kashi in Vedic literature - In the Brahmanas and Upanishads.
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad - Adhyaya 2 - Brahmana 1 - Mantra 1 - mentions the city Varanasi or Kashi . And the the name of the king of kashi mentioned is Ajātaśatru
ॐ । दृप्तबालाकिर्हानूचानो गार्ग्य आस, स होवाचाजातशत्रुं काश्यम्, ब्रह्म ते ब्रवाणीति; स होवाचाजातशत्रुः, सहस्रमेतस्यां वाचि दद्मः, जनको जनक इति वै जना धावन्तीति ॥ १ ॥
oṃ | dṛptabālākirhānūcāno gārgya āsa, sa hovācājātaśatruṃ kāśyam, brahma te bravāṇīti; sa hovācājātaśatruḥ, sahasrametasyāṃ vāci dadmaḥ, janako janaka iti vai janā dhāvantīti || 1 ||
Om. There was a man of the Garga family called Proud Bālāki, who was a speaker.He said to Ajātaśatru, the King of Benares, ‘I will tell you about Brahman.’ Ajātaśatru said, ‘For this proposal I give you a thousand (cows). People indeed rush saying, “Janaka, Janaka.” (I too have some of his qualities.)’
In Shankara's Commentary of above mantra
स होवाचाजातशत्रुमजात-शत्रुनामानं काश्यं काशिराज मभिगम्य
He said to Ajātaśatru, the King of Benares, after approaching him,
Kaushitaki Upanishad is describing the debates held in the royal court of Kashya (King of kashi) Ajatashatru & Videha Janaka the (king of Videha.) The word Kashi – Videha is telling us that these two cities were close.
FOURTH ADHYAYA - See page 14
There was formerly Gargya Balaki, famous as a man of great reading; for it was said of him that he lived among the Usinaras, among the Satvat-Matsyas the Kuru-Pankalas, the Kasi-Videhas. Having gone to Agatasatru, (the king) of Kasi, he said to him: 'Shall I tell you Brahman?' Agatasatru said to him: 'We give a thousand (cows) for that speech (of yours), for verily all people run away, saying, " Ganaka (the king of Mithila) is our father (patron).
Note here the word Kasyam above , means a person ,citizen or residant of of Kasi . So the word kashya is used in vedic litarature to denote the person living in Kasi. and the word kassis is used to denote the whole people living in city of Kasi.
In Satapatha Brahmana the word kassis is found the meaning of which is as above , so here the we can see the references to Kashi Or Varanasi in the text.
- Śatānīka Sātrājita performed the Govinata (form of Aśvamedha), after taking away the [Page 401] horse of the Kāśya (king); and since that time the Kāśis do not keep up the (sacrificial) fires, saying, 'The Soma-drink has been taken from us.'
Note here the word "kasis" indirectly mentioning city of Varanasi or Kasi.
# What makes Varanasi so special in Vedic memory?
In Vedic times Kashi was the name of the kingdom of Bharata , the main city of which was also called as Varanasi or Baranasi. Varanasi is one of the world's oldest living cities,
Often called as the religious capital of India . City Varanasi is on the left bank of the holy river Ganga (Ganges) and is among of the seven sacred spots for Hindus. Varanasi city was the center of a variety of cultural and religious activities during vedic era and it was also a great center of learning (from above quotes).