Kumbh Mela (कुम्भ मेला)

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कुंभ – भारतीय सभ्यता की सनातन यात्रा

Kumbh Mela - Introduction

Saadhus at Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela is the world’s largest, grandest, most spectacular event[citation needed] . Drawing 50 million people[citation needed] from all corners of this vast land. It is primarily a confluence of sages and ascetics. Without any formal invitations these saints converge at the Mela site under the flags of their respective Akharaas and sects. Traditionally, the Kumbh Mela has been the prerogative of Akharaas, that is, special sects to which sages and saints bear allegiance. Nearly all of the designated 13 Akharaas trace their origins to Adi Shankaracharya[citation needed]. Each Akhara is distinct in its philosophy, practices of worship, choice of chief deity etc.  Inspite of this diversity, all Akharaas subscribe to a common mission – the upholding and propagation of Sanatana Dharma. Their coming together at the Kumbh Mela bears testimony to this common purpose. The Kumbh Mela beckons to them and they respond – emerging from their distant abodes in jungles, caves or mountains. The wanderers too, turn their steps towards the Kumbh Mela.

On prescribed dates during the Kumbh Mela, special bathing rituals are held on the ghats or banks of holy rivers. These are called Shahi or Amrit Snan; and are undoubtedly the most spectacular and anticipated events during the Mela. Sages and monks gather at the ghats for a holy dip, giving the devotees a rare and precious opportunity to see them up close. Naga sadhus – ascetics whose only covering is ash or Bhasma - hold out a message to the onlookers. Everything is prey to the scourge of Time and ultimately will return to ashes. After the bathing of sages, it is auspicious to take bath in the holy water.

Importance of Rivers in Sanatana Tradition

Rivers have always been revered in Sanatana Dharma. River banks have traditionally been venues for organising religious festivities. Infact, many pilgrimage sites called Teerth are located on the banks of rivers.  Teerth means that place that transports or takes one across the symbolic river of life[citation needed]. In doing so, one is set free from worldly bondages.  Kumbh by virtue of being held on river banks becomes the locus of attaining liberation.

At the Kumbh Mela bathing in the holy waters of rivers holds deep significance. In Sanatana tradition Rivers are life-giving and are worshipped as worldly manifestations of the Goddess. Sanatana Dharma extols the maternal aspect of rivers and considers a dip in their waters as purifying and elevating. It also maintains a sense of duty towards the rivers for their preservation. At one level this cleanses the body and soul of ills; and at another level reaffirms the Hindus’ duty to keep rivers clean, and preserve their life-giving energy.

Time and venue of Kumbh Mela

Kumbh is organised at four places on the banks of sacred rivers. In the north at Haridwar; and in the east at Prayaag, on the banks of the river Ganga. Ujjain in the west hosts the Kumbh on the banks of river Shipra while in the south it is the Godavri whose banks at Nasik are the venue for the grand event.

The timing and venue of Kumbh Mela is determined on the basis of astronomical events. It is believed that during these planetary alignments, adhyatmik energy is at its peak, making Kumbh Mela a truly divine event. Calculations are made by studying the positions of three celestial bodies Sun, Moon and Jupiter in different rashis or zodiac signs.

These astrological phenomena are deeply symbolic – the three celestial bodies have profound adhyatmik and physical associations. In Sanatana Dharma Sun symbolises the Aatman; Moon the Mann; and Jupiter the Dharma[citation needed]. When Dharma is practiced it purifies the chitt or mann which in turn elevates the soul and opens the door for self-realisation. It is the main cause which attracts saadhaks to the kumbh mela from all over the world.

Mathematics Behind Calculation of Time and Venue[1]

The math of the frequency of Kumbha Mela is similar to the math of adding leap days to a year which involves approximation of a non-integer real number with multiples of an integer.

The earth takes around 365.2425 days to go around the sun once. Our usual year has 365 days, an underestimate for 365.2425. Over four years, this creates a difference of almost one day, as (365.2425 - 365) * 4 = 0.97 ≈ 1. So we add one day every four years as a leap day. Now this effectively makes a year last 365.25 days, which is an overestimate for 365.2425. Over four hundred years, this one-leap-year-in-four rule creates a difference of three days, as (365.25 - 365.2425) * 400 = 3. Therefore we take out three such leap days (added once every four years) over 400 years. This is done by making a year divisible by 100 a leap year only if it is divisible by 400 also. This is why 2000 was a leap year but 2100, 2200, and 2300 will not be leap years.

The Kumbha Mela is held, usually, once every 12 years at a place. The Ardha Kumbha is held halfway, 6 years after one Kumbha and 6 before the next. Why 12 years? The Kumbha is held when the Sun and Jupiter are in specific zodiac signs. The Sun takes one year (365.2425 days) to transit once through all twelve signs. Jupiter takes almost twelve [earth] years. Hence, after almost twelve years, Sun and Jupiter are in the same respective zodiac signs. This is why, usually, the Kumbha Mela is held once every 12 years.

But Jupiter takes slightly less than 12 years to transit once through all twelve signs. The exact period is 11.8618 years, and the usual frequency (12) is an overestimate for it. Over seven transits, this difference becomes almost equal to one year (12 - 11.8618) x 7 = 0.9674 ≈ 1. Seven times 12 is 84 but seven times 11.8618 is almost 83 (83.0326). So we have to take out one year every 84 years to keep the Kumbha Mela cycle and Sun and Jupiter positions in sync. This is why, after six Melas held in 72 years (each 12 years after the previous one), the seventh is held 11 years after the sixth. E.g. last Haridwar Kumbha was in 2010, next would be in 2021. This gives us seven Melas in 83 years.

Seven Melas in 83 effectively gives an estimate of around 11.85714 years for Jupiter’s transit through the zodiac. This is a slight underestimate for the actual number 11.8618 (up to four decimals). So this Kumbha Mela cycle of seven in 83 would also be out of sync with positions of Sun and Jupiter at some point, just like the 1-in-4 leap year cycle gets out of sync by three days over 400 years. For example, this 7-in-83 cycle will create a difference of one year in around 29 iterations, as Jupiter will complete 210 transits of zodiac in almost 2,491 years (11.8618 x 210 = 2490.978) but 30 iterations of the 7-in-83 cycle will give us 2,490 years. So something like this would need to be done: after 29 cycles of 7 Melas in 83 years, we will need one cycle of 7 Melas in 84 years. This will result in 210 Kumbha Melas in 2,491 (29 x 83 + 84) years.

Origin of the name "Kumbh" and the Legend of Samudra Manthan

Among the many mythological tales associated with the Kumbh Mela, the most popular is the ancient legend of the Samudra Manthan.

Once Lord Vishnu decreed the churning of the celestial ocean for obtaining Amrit or the nectar of life. Both the Devtas and Daanavs were to participate in this arduous task and were to get a portion of this juice of immortality. Considering the legendary animosity between these agents of good and bad, a conflict broke out between them on the division of Amrit. In the ensuing conflict, a few drops fell out of the Kumbha or pitcher; over four places on earth. Later these sites became the venues for the Kumbh Mela.

In the Sanatana tradition folk lore has deep educational connotations. It presents profound and esoteric truths in simple and interesting tales for the uptake by common masses.

First Documented Reference of Kumbh Mela

An obvious question is what is the origin of the Kumbh Mela? When did this huge event first make its presence felt in the Indian mainland? How did it become one of the torch bearers of Sanatana Dharma in this huge nation?

The first documented reference to the Kumbh Mela can be found in a sixth century treatise. Renowned world traveller and chronicler Huen Tsang documents his visit to the city of Prayaag. Tsang mentions a massive congregation of humans, on the banks of the Ganga every six years. During the event the ruler King Harshvardhan, would give away his all in charity, returning to his palace in only the clothes that covered him. It is fairly probable that the event referred to here is the Ardh Kumbh held every six years at Prayaag.

Kumbh Mela - A Treasure of Plurality

Kumbh mela is a treasure of plurality: plurality of language, of dresses, of food, of cultures, and of communities. The sages and devotees that come here follow different sects; worship different gods; read different texts; and follow different paths to self-realization. Yet, it is strange, that this bewildering diversity does not discomfort anyone here.

Sanatana Dharma maintains that God is consciousness, which is all pervasive and manifests itself in myriad ways. Even laymen in India understand this. Probably this is why Indian society is so astoundingly diverse. Be it language, food, faith-practices or belief systems. Yet this diversity is bound together by an underlying unity. It is very important to understand that it is not only unity in diversity but an underlying unity which allows and makes it plural: manifest in diverse expressions. This unity is not artificial, enforced by an institution; but is inherent. Due to the underlying unity of Sanatana Dharma, the external diversities flourish without inhibitions or clashes. It salutes the diversity in Creation just as it celebrates the diversity in each individual.

Such a deep understanding of the diversity in Creation gives Hinduism a truly egalitarian outlook. Hinduism celebrates plurality, making it democratic in every sense. This outlook bestows upon the Hindu the tolerant eye to discern the same consciousness, in the plurality of the world. Kumbh, in a true sense, is a celebration of diversity.

Kumbh Mela - Spiritual Dimension

Saadhu at Prayaag

Kumbh mela is an unknown, mystical world, where adhyatmikity reigns supreme. It is a collective quest for truth and for appreciating countless paths leading up to it. The Kumbh is a celebration of bliss. It is a wonderful opportunity to rise above the pain and suffering, a rare moment to embrace divinity; and participate in the festivity of human existence.

Kumbh is a rare moment when, the sages, ascetics and adhyatmik masters, from every corner of India reach householders. While normally devotees make difficult journeys to get blessings of great sages, in Kumbh the sages come themselves to impart blessings. All over the Kumbh, the sages meditate; hold sacred discussions about how to attain ultimate knowledge and the divine nectar overflows; the divine nectar for which sadhakas rush from across the globe. 

The presence of countless sages, saints and monks, imbues the atmosphere of the Mela, with a purity that is impossible to experience elsewhere. Kumbh Mela in its true sense denotes an invocation to the collective consciousness; Kumbh is celebration of awareness, a mahayagya for cosmic wellbeing.

Kumbh Mela is a rare opportunity to understand the tradition of saints and sages of India. They are the flagbearers of India’s adhyatmik legacy. Their unceasing penance has ensured the continuance of this legacy and the establishment of Dharma. That is why in Sanatana Dharma they are treated as the highest authority in society.

These great men may look different on the outside but essentially they are similar in the core values they uphold. They are all seekers of truth. Under the tutelage of these saints at the Kumbh Mela, ordinary men can find answers to the questions that have been plaguing them; and a deeper synthesis with their wisdom on Sanatana Dharma could show the path to a meaningful life.

These mystics are India’s adhyatmik heroes, exerting a deep influence on the mind and psyche of India’s millions. The saints willingly abdicate the charms of the material world; and dedicate themselves to the pursuit of self-evolution. This is a beautiful and pragmatic rendition of the microcosm, in its journey towards the macrocosm. When the upholders of the Sant Parampara congregate at the Kumbh Mela, it truly becomes a site of great relevance; and indeed boundless reverence.

Though the Kumbh Mela is essentially a fair of saints and ascetics, it is also a rare opportunity for the householder to witness great sages and gather invaluable education about what constitutes right and wrong, Dharma and Adharma. In a world torn asunder by blatant individualism, that fragments families, and throws one into painful isolation, the hallowed grounds of the Kumbh Mela can be learning grounds – grounds where individuals can resurrect belief in humanity and human relationships.

Many saints visiting the Kumbh Mela are those who have never set foot in organised society. They shun all social interaction, spending days, months and even years in uninhabited lands, and far off caves, in deep meditation and penance.

Traditionally, Kumbh Mela offers an opportunity for Debate, discourse and dialogue amongst the sages of different sects of Sanatana Dharma. The nectar that emanates from this intellectual churning enriches the adhyatmik social and cultural environment of society. Kumbh Mela is a unique amalgamation of three varied traditions – the Shastra tradition; the tradition of Sadhana or meditation; and the household tradition. It is the beauty of Indian society that each of them maintained the decorum and grace of the other two. At Kumbh one can also witness that how different systems of governance - political, Dharmic and social - do not control, but strengthen each other. This mutual management becomes the foundation of an ideal society.

Sanatana tradition is a tradition of adhyatmikity. Despite of all physical comfort and prosperity, Man has always been plagued by an existential quest – the eternal question of the self. Who am I? What is the truth? As these questions plague the psyche, one rushes to the Kumbh Mela to seek answers.

In Sanatana Dharma, search for truth is a noble quest and all are free to choose any path in that direction. Sanatana Dharma is not a controlling or restrictive faith but a liberating one. It bestows upon its believers the freedom of choice – be that of the Guru or scripture or deity. The seeker can undertake the study of the Shastras, meditate or become follower of seers and wise men. The ways are myriad; and the choice free. Kumbh Mela is a celebration of individual choice which allows the natural unfoldment of a human being.

People throng to the Kumbh Mela but it would be wrong to call them tourists. They are Teerthyaatri in the true sense of the word. Teerthaatan is an amazing innovation of Sanatana Dharma. Tourists and pilgrims are different. True, both undertake journeys. But the similarity ends here. unlike Tourist, Teerthyaatries don’t seek adventure, excitement or mesmeric sights. Their journey is deeper, an inner movement, a movement to get answers to life’s perplexing questions. It is an all encompassing journey – from the stated to the unstated; from the gross to the subtle; from the manifest to unmanifest.

This founding principle of Sanatana Dharma has ensured that this ancient civilization continues to thrive without conflict with nature. Both coexist in harmony, maintaining a balance that promotes growth and development. Sanatana Dharma maintains that every speck in nature is a manifestation of consciousness, and humans are but a part of the intricate pattern that nature weaves. Hence humans can never be conquerors or controllers of nature. This humility makes Sanatana Dharma truly egalitarian. The Kumbh Mela is a reflection of this generosity of vision – a vision that suffuses every Hindu’s outlook – (s)he proclaims that nature is not to be subverted or exploited - its preservation and upkeep is my duty for I am but a part of it.

Kumbh Mela - A Symbol of Bhartiyata

Kumbh mela is a window to the heart of India. It is an epitome of hospitality that beckons all.

Kumbh is world renowned for its magnificence and grandeur. Even more astounding is the beautiful diversity that it encompasses. From south to north, east to west, from Himalaya to Sahyadri, Ganga to Kaveri, streams of adhyatmikity, wisdom and awareness merge in this Divine Kumbh Mela.

The entire country manifests itself in the Kumbh which can be termed a national herald. In many ways Kumbh denotes the essence of India. It flows through the very core of the Indian way of life – reaffirming and revitalizing it. It would not be an exaggeration to term it as the driving force behind Sanatana Dharma. Kumbh Mela is the highest expression through which a Nation celebrates its civilizational continuity.

The Kumbh is a golden opportunity to glimpse into the soul of India – to comprehend Sanatana Dharma. A journey into understanding Kumbh is a journey into unravelling the mystery that is India. A peep into the mystical Kumbh is an attempt to de-mystify India. To understand India, one has to understand the essence of Sanatana Dharma and Viewing Sanatana Dharma through the looking glass of the Kumbh can make it simpler. Understanding the Kumbh can pave the way to understanding India – for Kumbh is India itself.

In India, knowledge has always been revered, but the quest to acquire knowledge has never been limited to physical prosperity. Here, quest for knowledge is deeper and multidimensional. It offers solutions to every aspect of life whether physical, social, cultural or adhyatmik. The Kumbh Mela is a great opportunity to enrich this age long knowledge tradition. Here scholars of different schools of thought and philosophies share their knowledge with the masses. The ordinary people get to understand numerous opinions on knowledge. They have the freedom to decide, choose and adopt any path that they wish. This phenomenon makes Sanatana Dharma truly democratic.

Kumbh Mela is a gigantic platform on which multicultural India’s diverse art forms and folk traditions are showcased to an enthralled audience. Artists from the length and breadth of the country, meet, mix and mingle. Thus art grows, spreads and thrives.

Kumbh Mela - A testimony to Social Inclusiveness

Kumbh mela is open for all. Be it the feeding tents, visits to temples, dips in holy rivers or being in the tutelage of saints – all participate, all are welcome. This is social inclusiveness at its best.

From ages the Kumbh Mela has been a platform for free and open discussion without discord, with due reverence for all. There is interaction of people of varying opinions and worldview, with the common objective of arriving at the Truth. Many terms and phraseology, that today have become the common parlance of the intellectuals of the modern world, have defined Sanatana Dharma since ages. Looking to this age long tradition of Sanatana Dharma, contemporary focus on Freedom of Expression, Open discourse, Mutual respect and tolerance seems to be very superficial.

In many ways, the Kumbh Mela also provides an insight into the depth, interconnectivity and strength of the social fabric of India.

In fact, the gathering at Kumbh Mela has always busted many established western principals. Western principles related to the psyche and behaviour of crowd, all collapse like a pack of cards.

Kumbh Mela - A celebration of Nature

At the Kumbh we can witness yet another defining uniqueness of Hinduism. It perceives divinity in every particle of creation. In nature, every speck cradles within itself, a spark of this divinity. No wonder then, that the Hindu worships nature. In Kumbh it is very obvious that millions of people bow before trees, rivers and forces of nature with the same reverence they bow before gods, scriptures and sages.

The world today is facing severe ecological imbalance. But it can learn reverence for nature from Sanatana Dharma, especially through Kumbh. Hinduism’s worldview of recognising a pervasive consciousness is not merely a dharmic practice. It is a belief system with deep understanding of life, and its preservation. It is obvious that Hindus feel obsessive need to forge a relationship with nature. The Hindus see the maternal figure in a cow, or a river, or a Tulsi plant. Trees and mountains are believed as protectors. Serpents are worshiped as deities. In fact a monkey or a cat invokes familial associations such as Uncle or Aunty. This is neither coincidence nor superstition. It bears testimony to Hinduism’s subordination to Mother Nature, and heeding to her mighty assertions. In doing so the Hindu vows to protect and preserve her. For a Hindu it is not important whom he is worshiping but what is really important is the understanding, that every creation of nature is divine and thus eligible for worship.

Kumbh Mela and The Feminine

Saadhvi taking a dip in the Ganga © Dharmawiki

The Kumbh mela also reflects that the feminine principle has been regarded with the deepest reverence in Hinduism. Infact, the place of pre eminence that the feminine holds here, is difficult to find in any other civilization. Devi or Goddess worship and Shakti or Energy worship is widespread in Hinduism. All pursuits, esoteric or worldly, have an element of the feminine enshrined in them. Be it the arts, music, mantras or meditation, Hinduism perceives the female force in everything, and bows before it in gratitude and supplication.This veneration of the Goddess percolates down to the daily life of the Hindus too.  Women are accorded a special place in society.

Kumbh Mela and its Logistics

© Dharmawiki

On an average the Kumbh Mela is held every three years across four different locations: Haridwar, Prayag, Ujjain and Nasik. Hence, each location becomes the chosen location after a span of 12 years. Once the location is declared, a temporary township emerges there - almost out of thin air - ready to house the surging crowds that would descend there during the month long fair. The Kumbh township is a mobile citadel that moves from one location to another, taking within its folds, the devout whose numbers keep growing with every passing year.

It can intrigue an external observer that without any central authority, publicity and formal invitation, how millions come together at Kumbh Mela on specific date and place. Even more magical is the fact, that they spend an entire month together, in peaceful coexistence, without conflict or discord and sharing their knowledge, experience and worldview with each other. After completion of the Kumbh they return to their native places blissfully, with adding treasure of knowledge, austerity and adhyatmikity with them. This shows the sacred and historical significance of the Kumbh Mela; and also the unflinching devotion of the devotees to Sanatana Dharma.

As obvious by its sheer size, management of the Mela is a herculean task. The responsibility of boarding, lodging, feeding, transporting the millions who will visit the hallowed grounds is a miniature picture of management. At the Kumbh, this responsibility is shared by the administration and the society. At the designated location, every member of the society contributes – be it a child, an adult or the elderly. People from every walk of life, come forth to do their bit, in making the event a thumping success. Be it a villager or city-dweller, a labour, farmer or businessman, an employee or a student, everyone contributes according their capacity.

© Dharmawiki

It is an amazing experience that during the kumbh, entire city turns host. Faces wear smiles and hospitality becomes a dharma. Invitations are despatched to friends and relatives, months before the event. In happy anticipation of the fair and the visitors it will bring along, everyone prepares to live up to the sanctity of the saying “Atithi Devo Bhava” – guests are akin to God. Hence, before the Kumbh Mela nothing can be left undone in the welcome of the guests.  This hospitality is not reserved for the known but for every pilgrim to Kumbh Mela. This effectively reasserts Indian society’s venerable tradition of respecting human ties, and the inexhaustible zeal to keep them alive.

Planning and organising an event as diverse as the Kumbh Mela is no mean task. Observers are often in disbelief at what goes into this exercise. Every few years, after astrological calculations a location is selected and within days a temporary city arises like a hulking giant, ready to engorge the millions who will visit it. This city-within-city has a life span of merely a month and in this month its citizenry is in millions[citation needed]. At the end of the month, it quickly dissolves with a silent promise that it will rise again, at another location, to reveal the mystery that is the Kumbh Mela.

This temporary citadel-of-sorts is a study in hospitality. An example would be the city of Ujjain that hosted the Kumbh Mela in 2016. A rather small city of a population of 5 lakh, hosted a mindboggling 5 crore visitors – an unbelievable 100% greater than its population[citation needed].

It staggers the world to imagine that such a mammoth exercise can be executed with near flawless finesse. The perfect tuning of the efforts of the government and administration and religio-social organisations, is an example of robust administration, mutual collaboration and deep understanding of India. It is an opportunity for the management professionals to explore that with amalgamation of traditional methods, common sense and modern technology; how India creates an entire new world.

Kumbh Mela - The Economic Dimension

The Kumbh Mela, along many other things, is an economic treatise. In ancient India, organisation of fairs, festivities and pilgrimages was a proven method to keep the wheels of economy well-oiled. This is because such events provided plenty of opportunities to create avenues of employment. Though this angle of the Kumbh Mela has not been thoroughly researched yet, it is easy to presume that the Kumbh Mela, being a massive venture, lasting over a month, plenty of employment opportunities would surface here, benefitting big and small tradesmen, artists, artisans, farmers. Across the world, cultural and economic growth is seen as mutually contradictory or at best, misaligned. But in India, there has always been a healthy and symbiotic relationship between the two. Over the ages, kings and emperors and wealthy businessmen have patronised the arts and invested heavily in them. Thus as the arts flourished and culture blossomed, economic recession never plagued this land.

Other Unique Aspects of Kumbh Mela

There’s plenty for the seeker at the Kumbh Mela. It is a literary fountainhead. It is an opportunity to learn about the literary traditions of numerous schools of thought; of appreciating diverse means of acquiring knowledge, of study, of growth. Many organisations set up exhibitions, showcasing India’s glorious history of truth-seeking, from days of yore to the present day.

Millions of people take their food and drinking water during the Kumbh but there have not been major reports of ill health. Temporary sanitation facilities are set up for the lakhs who visit. Forget an outbreak of epidemic, even minor illness is a rarity. Infact, this phenomenon continues to baffle the world, especially, medical science. The answer lies in India’s ancient and unique enunciation of Clean and Unclean; Pure and Impure. Cleanliness here goes beyond the absence of anything dirty. It also goes beyond mere hygiene. Roughly, it means a state or condition cleansed of anything that sullies or soils - a condition not limited to the surroundings or the body but extending to the mind, the heart, and the soul.

Some other aspects of Kumbh Mela are as follows:

The Katha Pravachan Parampara

Sanatana Dharma innovated the most popular and effective method of communicating the deeper knowledge to the masses; The Katha-Pravachan Parampara. It is the traditional way of teaching through story-telling. Deep mysteries and profound principles are communicated to the masses, through the medium of tales and anecdotes, thus aiding easy comprehension. During the kumbh almost all different sects, akharas and gurus organize ‘Katha Pravachan’ for masses at large.

The influence of these tales is deep and pervasive. The average Hindu draws inspiration from them, establishes personal standards of right and wrong. Thus, his conduct, his choices, his decisions are tempered by the learning he has gathered through these Pravachans. In Kumbh Mela one can easily find thousands of common people, who will share the deepest knowledge or profound principles of Dharm in normal chit-chat.

It is the success of ‘Katha Pravachan Parampara’ that Indian society has maintained its wisdom for thousands of years. It’s the excellence and competence of kathakars (story tellers) who transmitted deeper knowledge of shastras to the life of common people. When transmuted into music, these sermons acquire a lyrical quality, becoming Bhajans or Kirtans – poetic expressions of Truth. Set to music often as choral singing, they elevate participants to another plane. One can only marvel at the artistry of the storytellers, who could so beautifully bind Dharma, Knowledge and Truth into simple stories for general consumption and mass communication.

Kumbh Mela and Daan Parampara

Sanatana Dharma places great value on charity or Daan. And at the Kumbh Mela Daan is performed at a scale that is astonishing. It’s not only the largesse of the wealthy, but the small yet valuable contributions from the poor, that help in hosting this massive undertaking. In Sanatana Dharma its not the size but the purity of intent that makes a Daan of worth.

Kumbh Mela and the Seva Bhaav

At the Kumbh Mela the spirit of seva (सेवा | selfless service) is evident everywhere – in the unending supplies at the feeding tents, where all are humbly requested to partake of the offering and to visit again. Daan-Dakshina is given to saints and seers, in the effusive and generous hospitality accorded to every visitor.

Kumbh Mela and Crime Rates

A cursory glance at the crime rate during the Kumbh Mela month reveals shocking statistics. The percentage of number of crimes drop miraculously[citation needed] , inspite of the countless opportunities there would be in this ocean of humanity.

Concluding Remarks

The Kumbh Mela is truly an amazing event the world gets to witness. It views life in its entirety. Not through the narrow lens of cold reason or irrational logic. It refuses to dissect life into airtight compartments. It sees life as a continuum and hence, its worldview is holistic, rather than fragmented. This worldview helps to enrich all aspects of life and motivates towards higher goals called Dharma, Arth, Kaam and Moksha.

The Kumbh Mela is grand manifestation of Indian view, which perceives a human life in physical, intellectual and adhyatmik form and offers environment to nourish all forms of life.

Kumbh Mela can be termed a mirror image of an ancient civilisation; where knowledge was revered; where conscience was the ultimate arbitrator; where life got an opportunity to grow and expand, unfettered and untarnished.

Mere logic would not suffice to truly understand and appreciate the kumbh mela. It requires a patient eye and a yearning heart. It involves an empathetic understanding of the process of the maturing of civilisations and also the insight about the deeper and complex relationship between the individual and the society. [2]


  1. Written by Nityananda Mishra, Writer based in Mumbai. This excerpt has been taken from his FB Post. (https://www.facebook.com/nityanand.misra/posts/2054498124667256 accessed on 17 January 2019)
  2. Content Taken from the Documentary "Kumbh- Eternal Journey of Indian Civilization". Written and Directed by Harshit Jain. Produced by India Inspires and Indus University, Ahmedabad.