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Shivling has been found in Gyanvapi, Varanasi of Uttar Pradesh, and the supreme court today ordered to seal the area

The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Varanasi District Magistrate to protect the area where the ‘shivling’ was found without impeding the right of Muslims to enter and worship. The court will hear the matter again on May 19.

The name GyanVapi also appears to be from Sanskrit and belongs to the Sanathan dharma. I read some articles stating that Nandi is facing the Shivling. We know that Nandi generally faces lord Siva in temples. So, people are believing that the Shivlinga found today is the actual linga of Varanasi.

In this context, I want to know whether any scriptures contain about (or mention the word) GyanVapi? If not, is it of Historic origin? And are there any scriptures telling about the GyanVapi mandir that do exist before the construction of the masjid?

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    Kashi Khanda of Skanda Purana says Ishana dug the well. Waters of Jnanavapi are more pious than Ganga and well is present to South of Kashi Vishweswara linga. These waters are used for Abhisheka to Visweswara linga. Moksha in Mokshapuri Kashi is not possible without jnana (as upanishads say Jnanavat Kaivalyam) and waters of Jnanavapi and Ganga are seen as fires of knowledge that destroys everything including Samsara.
    – The Destroyer
    May 17 at 16:39
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    @TheDestroyer you can write an answer with that reference.. it will be useful to all..
    – Tezz
    May 17 at 17:01
  • 5
    Here in the question it is quoted as Gyanvapi Mandir. In the press there is a reference to Gyanvapi Masjid. I wonder why the word Gyanvapi was kept by Muslims?
    – Jay Thakar
    May 17 at 17:26
  • Here is a YouTube video discussing this issue: Satyaum, Shivum, Sunderum....youtube.com/watch?v=q67-NVmjhxI&ab_channel=ProjectShivoham
    – Jay Thakar
    May 21 at 16:31

3 Answers 3

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Description of Jñānavāpī (Gyanvapi) or Jñānodatīrtha, and its mahatmya is extensively mentioned in many chapters of Kāśī Khanda of Skanda Purana.

In one of the early Satya Yugas, Īśāna was roaming on Earth and found scarcity of water. After reaching Kāśī and seeing Swayambhu Viśveśvara Linga, desire of bathing linga in cool waters came to his mind and dug a well. This well is known as Jñānodatīrtha. This is how Chapter 33, Pūrvārdha of Kāśī Khanda describes this.

अस्येशानस्य तल्लिंगं दृष्ट्वेच्छेत्यभवत्तदा |
स्नपयामि महल्लिंगं कलशैः शीतलैर्जलैः || १६ ||
16. On seeing that Liṅga, there arose an idea in the mind of this Īśāna, ‘Let me bathe this great Liṅga with potfuls of cool water.’

चखान च त्रिशूलेन दक्षिणाशोपकंठतः |
कुंडं प्रचंडवेगेन रुद्रोरुद्रवपुर्धरः || १७ ||
17. Īśāna who was identical with Rudra in a terrible physical frame, dug up a deep pit with terrific speed by means of his trident. The place was to the south of Viśveśa and very near him.

पृथिव्यावरणांभांसि निष्क्रांतानि तदा मुने |
भूप्रमाणाद्दशगुणैर्यैरियं वसुधावृता || १८ ||
18. Then, O sage, columns of waters covering the earth and ten times its size, came out whereby the whole of the world was inundated on all

तैर्जलैः स्नापयांचक्रे त्वत्स्पृष्टैरन्यदेहिभिः |
तुषारैर्जाड्यविधुरैर्जंजपूकौघहारिभिः || १९ ||
19. With those waters as cool as snow, but devoid of Jāḍya (i.e. of the nature of knowledge), which removed clusters of sins and which were untouched by other embodied beings, he bathed (the Liṅga).

सन्मनोभिरिवात्यच्छैरनच्छैर्व्योमवर्त्मवत् |
ज्योत्स्नावदुज्ज्वलच्छायैः पावनैः शंभुनामवत् || २० ||
20. The waters were sparkling in colour like the (pure) minds of good people. They had bluish tinge like the path of the sky. Their lustre was brilliant like moonlight; they were holy and pure like the names of Śaṃbhu.

पीयूषवत्स्वादुतरैः सुखस्पर्शैर्गवांगवत् |
निष्पापधीवद्गंभीरैस्तरलैः पापिशर्मवत् || २१ ||
21. They were excessively sweet like the divine nectar; pleasant to the touch like the limbs of a cow; had grandeur like the intellect of a sinless person and were sparklingly moving to and fro (fickle) like the happiness of the sinners.

विजिताब्जमहागंधैः पाटलामोदमोदिभिः |
अदृष्टपूर्वलोकानां मनोनयनहारिभिः || २२ ||
22. Their scent excelled the sweet smell of lotuses; they were delightful with the fragrance of the Pāṭalā flowers. They attracted the minds and the eyes of the people in an unprecedented way.

अज्ञानतापसंतप्त प्राणिप्राणैकरक्षिभिः |
पंचामृतानां कलशैः स्नपनातिफलप्रदैः || २३ ||
23. They were, as though, the sole protectors of the vital airs of all living beings, distressed through the heat of ignorance. They were capable of yielding more benefit than bathing with potfuls of Pañcāmṛta (curd, milk, ghee, honey and sugar).

श्रद्धोपस्पर्शि दृदयलिंग त्रितयहेतुभिः |
अज्ञानतिमिरार्काभैर्ज्ञानदान निदायकैः || २४ ||
24. They were the producers of three Liṅgas(?) in the hearts of those regularly performing the ceremonious rinsing of the mouth with faith; they functioned like the sun in dispelling the darkness of ignorance; they yielded the benign gifts of wisdom.

Viśveśvara pleased with Īśāna manifested before him and asked for boon. Īśāna asked Viśveśvara to name well after him. This is what Viśveśvara says:

विश्वेश्वर उवाच |
त्रिलोक्यां यानि तीर्थानि भूर्भुवःस्वः स्थितान्यपि |
तेभ्योखिलेभ्यस्तीर्थेभ्यः शिवतीर्थमिदं परम् || ३१ ||
Viśveśvara said:
31. This Śiva Tīrtha is greater than all those Tīrthas situated in the three worlds, viz., Bhūḥ, Bhuvaḥ and Svaḥ.

शिवज्ञानमिति ब्रूयुः शिवशब्दार्थचिंतकाः |
तच्च ज्ञानं द्रवीभूतमिह मे महिमोदयात् || ३२ ||
अतो ज्ञानोद नामैतत्तीर्थं त्रैलोक्यविश्रुतम् |
अस्य दर्शनमात्रेण सर्वपापैः प्रमुच्यते || ३३ ||
32-33. Those who ponder over the meanings of the word, say that Siva means knowledge (wisdom). Here, due to my greatness, that knowledge is liquified (i.e., has taken a watery form). Hence this Tīrtha has become reputed in all the three worlds by the name Jñānoda. Merely at the sight of this Liṅga, one is rid of all sins.

Viśveśvara further explains benefits one can accrue by doing various religious acts here and also says he bestows Knowledge destroying ignorance.

ज्ञानोदतीर्थपानीयैर्लिंगं यः स्नापयेत्सुधीः |
सर्वतीर्थोदकैस्तेन ध्रुवं संस्नापितं भवेत् || ४९ ||
49. If a highly intelligent man bathes the Liṅga with the waters of Jñānodatīrtha, it is certainly on a par with having got it bathed with the waters of all the Tīrthas.

ज्ञानरूपोह मेवात्र द्रवमूर्तिं विधाय च |
जाड्यविध्वंसनं कुर्यां कुर्यां ज्ञानोपदेशनम् ||
५० ||
50. I myself, in the form of Jñāna, having assumed the liquid form, shall destroy Jāḍya (sluggishness, ignorance) and impart knowledge.

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  • Will update with other references later
    – The Destroyer
    May 17 at 17:54
  • It is heartening to learn from the media that both members of survey teams went about their work in a respectful, cordial dignified manner in the presence of the newly revealed linga adhering to court order.
    – Narasimham
    May 17 at 18:13
  • Feeling sad after reading the answer. :( Sorry Siva :( please forgive all of us... 🙏
    – hanugm
    May 17 at 19:01
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    @hanugm nothing happens without the Lord’s will. Now if Kashi has been chosen to be revived, it will be, come what may. Hara Hara Shambhu
    – Adiyarkku
    May 18 at 15:54
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@TheDestroyer has already given a detailed answer from Skandha Purana. I just want to focus on two aspects:

1) The name GyanaVapi (JnanaVapi / ज्ञानवापी):

Skandha Purana Kashi Khanda Purvardha chapter 33 starts with Rishi Agastya asking a question to Lord Skandha the name Gyanavapi comes there in that first verse itself:

।। अगस्त्य उवाच ।। ।।
स्कंदज्ञानोदतीर्थस्य माहात्म्यं वद सांप्रतम् ।।
ज्ञानवापीं प्रशंसंति यतः स्वर्गौकसोप्यलम् ।।१।।

Agastya said:
O Skandha, now narrate to me the greatness of Jñānoda Tīrtha. Wherefore do even the heaven-dwellers praise Gyanavapi very well?

Then Lord Skandha replies to this question of Agastya as:

।। स्कंद उवाच ।। ।।
घटोद्भव महाप्राज्ञ शृणु पापप्रणोदिनीम् ।।
ज्ञानवाप्याः समुत्पत्तिं कथ्यमानां मयाधुना ।।२।।

Skandha said:
O Pot-born One of great intellect, listen to the origin of Gyanavapi that removes all sins. It is being narrated now by me.

So, the name Gyanavapi itself is used in Puranas and it is a Sanskrit word. Gyanvapi word is used in several places like:

सा प्रत्यहं ज्ञानवाप्यां स्नायं स्नायं शिवालये ।। She regularly took her bath in Jñānavāpī every day and attended to the tasks of sweeping the premises of the temple of Śiva with a concentrated mind. ज्ञानवापीं ददर्शाथ श्रीविश्वेश्वरदक्षिणे ।। ३६ ।। She spotted Gyanavapi to the south of Śrī Visheswara. तस्यैषांबुमयी मूर्तिर्ज्ञानदा ज्ञानवापिका।। ३८ ।। This Gyanavapi, the bestower of knowledge, is the aquatic physical form of the eight-formed Mahādeva cited in the Purāṇas. एकदा ज्ञानवाप्यां तु प्रातः स्नात्वोपविष्टयोः ।। Once, both of them had their morning bath in Jñānavāpī. ... ... (Skandha Purana Kashi Khanda Chapter 33 and 34)

2) GyanaVapi for Hindus:

GyanaVapi is one of the most important Tirthas and Skandha Purana says that every Hindu must visit Gyanvapi:

अहो कथं हि सा लभ्या यत्प्रभावोयमीदृशः ।।
धिग्जन्म तेषां मर्त्येऽस्मिन्यैर्नैक्षि ज्ञानवापिका ।। ७२ ।।

How can it be made possible to attain Jñānavāpī whose power is like this? Fie upon the life of those persons in this mortal world, by whom Gyanvapi is not seen!

It is absolutely clear from the above verse that every Hindu must visit Gyanvapi. Every Hindu should get the right to visit Gyanvapi whenever he/she wants considering the importance of this holy Tirtha. Gyanvapi is Shiva himself:

साक्षाच्छिवमयी मूर्तिर्ज्ञानकृज्ज्ञानवापिका ।।

Gyanavapi is the cosmic form of Shiva himself. (Kashi Khanda 34.123)

In terms of importance, Gyanvapi to Hindus is:

सन्ति तीर्थान्यनेकानि सद्यः शुचिकराण्यपि ।। २४ ।।
परंतु ज्ञानवाप्या हि कलां नार्हंति षोडशीम् ।।

There are many Tīrthas that sanctify (devotees) immediately. But they are not equal to even a sixteenth part of Gyanavapi.

Even the talk of Gyanavapi is fruitful:

ज्ञानवाप्याः शुभाख्यानं शिवलोके महीयते ।। १२७ ।।

By reading or causing to be read or listening to the auspicious narration of Jñānavāpi one is honored in the world of Shiva.

It is unfortunate that Hindus have been deprived of such an important Tirtha for hundreds of years.

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    All tirtha places were destroyed/hidden due to coming of paapis. If those paapis are done with being born, until the next paapi cycle in Kaliyuga, the tirthas will show themselves again. Hara Hara.
    – Adiyarkku
    May 18 at 15:59
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    @Tezz Could you get rid of contents which looks unnecessary like "Let us all hope and pray from Parameswara that we Hindus are not deprived of visiting such an important tirtha like Gyanavapi." And "like what Mecca is for Muslims and what Jeruselum is for Christians"
    – TheLittleNaruto
    May 24 at 2:54
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    As no response received from you, I have gotten rid of unnecessary statements from the answer body. :)
    – TheLittleNaruto
    May 30 at 7:25
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It is mentioned in guru charitra by Shri Saraswati Gangadhar.

ज्ञानवापीं करी स्नान । नंदिकेश्वर अर्चोन । तारकेश्वर पूजोन । पुढें जावें मग तुवां ॥५७॥

enter image 1: https://i.stack.imgur.com/exWW7.jpg here

Below verse is from padma purana uttara khanda chapter 208 verse 37

natvā viśveśvaraṃ devaṃ biṃdumādhavameva ca | snātaṃ maṇikarṇikāyāṃ jñānavāpyāṃ ca bhaktitaḥ || 37 |

Having saluted god Viśveśvara, so also Bindumādhava, I devoutly bathed in the Jñānavāpī at Maṇikarṇikā. Having stayed there for three nights, I again came to Prayāga where actually Brahmā (lives) on the fourteenth day of the bright half of Pauṣa.

Note:-The Shri Guru Charitra is a book based on the life of Shri Narasimha Saraswati, written by the 15th-16th century poet Shri Saraswati Gangadhar.

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    Who is Tarakeshwara? Is it Lord Karttikeya?
    – Adiyarkku
    May 18 at 15:57
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    @Adiyarkku No. Shiva only.
    – The Destroyer
    May 18 at 16:26
  • @TheDestroyer another shiva temple within the temple? Any particular form?
    – Adiyarkku
    May 19 at 2:14
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    Tarakeshwara is a Shivalinga that was consecrated by Ahilyabai Holkar next to the present Vishweshwara linga. Within the present Vishwanath temple precints there are 4 Shivalingas mentioned in Kashikhanda- Vishweshwara, Avimukteshwara, Kuvereshwara & Shukreswara & 2 Shivalingas that were consecrated much later - Tarakeshwara by Ahilyabai & Bhuvaneshwara by Rani Bhavani, a wealthy zamindar of Natore (Rajshahi district of Bangladesh) who also renovated the shrine of Durga. May 19 at 4:47
  • @AnubtataBit Thanks :)
    – Adiyarkku
    May 20 at 3:29

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