By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Kuruksetra, KurukSetra, Kurukshetra
Kurukṣetra has also been hailed as the ‘dharmakṣetra’ or field of righteousness, tough it has been closely associated with the fratricidal war of the Mahābhārata. It is almost the same as the modern Kurukṣetra which is 40 km (25 miles) to the east of Ambala in the Haryana State.
The modern regions of Karnal, Panipat, Sonepat and Amin roughly correspond to the ancient Kurukṣetra. After independence, Kurukṣetra has been developed as a big pilgrim and tourist center.
It has been known by several other names such as:
Religious Significance of Kurukṣetra
There is no doubt that it was considered as a very sacred spot even from the most ancient times. The proofs supporting this are:
- It was the place where the gods had performed many yāgas or sacrifices.
- It was the heart of Vedic culture in the olden days.
- The lands to the southern and the northern parts were known as Khāṇdava and Turghna. There was also a desert near it.
- According to another version it was the sacrificial ground of the king Kuru, the son of Samvaraṇa and Tapatī, of the Candravanśa.
- Kurukṣetra has been considered a very holy place for the performance of śrāddhas.
The lake in Kurukṣetra was originally five big pools of blood of the ksattriyas killed by Paraśurāma which was converted into a single lake of holy water by the grace of his pitṛs or forefathers. They were pleased by his penance and forgave him. It is oblong in shape and is 1063 meters (3546 ft.) in length. On the days of solar eclipse, lakhs of people gather here for a holy dip.
Forests Near Kurukṣetra
The forests mentioned in the Mahābhārata which are near Kurukṣetra are:
Cities Near Kurukṣetra
The famous cities situated near Kurukṣetra are:
- Hastināpura - situated at a distance of 104 km (65 miles) to the north-west of Delhi
- Indraprastha - now a part of old Delhi
- Sthāṇeśvara - present Thanesar in Haryana
- Pṛthudaka - present Pehova
Remarkable Places Near Kurukṣetra
Holy spots near Kurukṣetra include :
- Varāhatīrtha - place where Viṣṇu stood in his incarnation as a boar
- Vyāsatirtha - place where Vyāsa wanted to give up his body but was dissuaded from doing so
- Saptasarasvata - place where Śiva appeared before the sage Maṅkaṇaka
- The place where the Bhagavadgitā was taught by Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna
- Bhagavadgitā 1.1
- This was the name because it was situated between the rivers Sarasvatī and Dṛṣadvatī.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore