Those who have known me for a long time are beginning to think, “Why is Sadhguru doing a Kashi yatra? As he gets old, he is getting soft in his head.” So, why Kashi?
Essentially, there are two fundamental ways of looking at the existence. One thing is, people believe there is a god somewhere and when he has nothing to do, he will create a creation. This is one kind of belief system. Or in other words, that which people refer to as god is transcendental. It is not associated with creation; it is something that he throws out. Another way of looking at the creation is that it is cosmogenic. The word “cosmogenic” comes from two words, “cosmos” and “genesis.” Cosmos, in Greek, literally means “made to order.” Or in other words, it is made to a plan, not a random happening. It is not something that fell out of somebody’s mouth or hands, but something that is consciously created. Anybody who pays a little attention will clearly know that it is not happening haphazardly, it is in a process of genesis or evolution, always from within itself.
When the yogis saw the nature of the cosmos - as to how it is evolving from within itself, and its ability to evolve is quite limitless - they were tempted to make their own. Many wonderful attempts have been made in various parts of this country, and also in certain other parts of this world - you must see Delphi where they created a miniature Kashi. Essentially, what this means is, everything in creation, one way or the other, is a micro replica of the cosmos itself - that goes for the human body too. Everything in the existence is just a micro version of the cosmic possibility. Based on this, many things have been done.
In Kashi, they built a kind of instrument in the form of a city which brings a union between the micro and the macro. This little human being can have a phenomenal possibility of uniting with the cosmic reality, of knowing the pleasure, ecstasy and beauty of becoming one with the cosmic nature. Geometrically, Kashi is a perfect manifestation of how the cosmos, or the macrocosm and the microcosm, can meet. There have been many instruments like this in the country. For example, Dhyanalinga itself is just that manifestation, but we have our limitations, so we could only create a small capsule of the cosmos. If one is willing, it is willing to open endlessly because it is a device that facilitates the ultimate possibility.
To create a city like Kashi is a mad ambition and they did it thousands of years ago. There were 72,000 shrines, the number of nadis in the human body. The whole process is like a manifestation of a mega human body to make contact with a larger cosmic body. It is because of this that the whole tradition came up, “If you go to Kashi, that is it.” You don’t want to leave the place because when you get connected to the cosmic nature, why would you want to go anywhere else?
The legend of Kashi, one hundred percent, goes by the fundamental that Shiva himself lived here. This is his winter place. He lived as an ascetic in the upper regions of the Himalayas, but when he got married to a princess, compromises had to be made. And being a graceful man, he decided he would move to the plains, as Kashi was the most fabulously built city at the time.
There is a beautiful story. Shiva left Kashi because of some political reasons. The gods were afraid that Kashi would lose its reverberence if it was not properly managed, so they asked Divodasa to become the king. But he put a condition, “If I have to become the king, Shiva has to leave, because with him around, me being a king is not going to work. People will gather around him.” So Shiva, along with Parvati, left to Mount Mandara, but he did not want to stay. He wanted to come back to Kashi, so he first sent messengers. They came and they just loved the city so much, they didn’t go back. Then Shiva sent 64 celestial women. He said, “Somehow corrupt the king. Once we find some fault in him, we can send him packing and I’ll come back.” They came, they entrenched themselves all over the society, wanting to corrupt it, but they loved the place, so much they forgot the mission and settled down. Then he sent Surya Deva. He also came - all the Aditya temples are for him - he loved it so much he didn’t go back. Surya Deva was so ashamed and scared that he could not fulfill Shiva’s mission because his love for the city was greater than his commitment to the mission, so he turned south and tilted to one side and settled down. Then Shiva sent Brahma. Brahma himself came and loved it, and he did not go back. Then Shiva said, “I cannot trust any of these people” and he sent two of his most trusted ganas. Both of them came, they could not forget Shiva, they are his people, but they loved the place so much and thought, “This is the only place Shiva should live, not Mount Mandara.” Then they became dwarapalakas of this city. Shiva sent two more, Ganesha and another, they came and took charge of the city. They started preparing the city, guarding the city, they said anyway Shiva has to come, there is no point in going back. Then Divodasa was tempted with mukti. He did not fall for any kind of corruption, but he was tempted with mukti and he took it. Then Shiva came back.
These are all stories to tell you how much they longed to be here, not because of pleasure, but because of the possibility that the city offered. The city was not just a dwelling place, it was a mechanism to go beyond all limitations. It was a mechanism for this tiny little organism to connect with the larger organism of the cosmos.
nadis - energy pathways in the human system
ganas - Shiva's attendants
dwarapalakas - doorkeepers
mukti - liberation