Devkali: The land where soil is an antidote to snake venom
By Vivek Singh Chauhan
Lucknow: If you think only Carbonic acid can keep venomous snakes away, you only have to come to ‘Devkali’, a nondescript village of Uttar-Pradesh’s Lakhimpur-Kheri district, 140 kms away from the state capital. It is said that the mere scent of soil of this place can keep venomous reptiles at an arm’s length.
According to the Mythological texts of ’Mahabharata’, the Grandson of ‘Arjuna’ (the best archer in the era of ‘Mahabharata’) performed a grandiose ‘Sarpa Yagna’ at ‘Devkali’ because he wanted to avenge his father’s death, who died of a snake bite.
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Abbot of ‘Chandra-Kala Ashrama’, Acharya Bhawani Prasad Upadhaya, popularly known as ‘Nepali Baba’ said, “Mainly two stories are associated with this place. First one is about emperor of ‘Hastinapur’ and the second is about knight ‘Devek’. ‘Janmejaya’, the emperor of Hastinapur dynasty, organised a ‘Sarpayagya’ in which approximately 20 million snakes were sacrificed here. Only eight kinds of serpents ‘Anntaka, Takshaka, Vasuki, Padma, Maha-Padma, Karkotaka, Sankha and Kulika got escaped. According to astrology, these are the reptiles who can causes ‘Kaal Sarpa Dosha’.”
Further he said that second mythical tale is about knight ‘Devak’, who didn’t have any child. He had performed ‘Putresthi Yagya’ (a ritual done for seeking child) here; as a result he got a beautiful daughter whom he named as ‘Devkali’. The village is also named after her, which was earlier known as Devteerth.
Many temples of various God and Goddess are situated here, on which different mantras such as 'Om Asthikaay Namah' and 'Om Janmejaay Namah' are inscribed. Devotees have strong faith that mere recite of these mantras could keep venom spewing serpents away. The replica of Shiva's twelve ‘Jyotirlingas’ is also established here along with a huge sculpture of Nandi.
But unfortunately these temples have become shabby, due to negligence of local and state authorities. A pond is situated near the ‘Shivalaya’ here. It is said that this pond's water has majestic power of curing acute diseases. Therefore, people take plunge of sanctity in it. But nowadays due to its dirty condition, people are hesitating to have a dip in its holy water.
‘Pathetic’ is only the word that could describe the exact condition of this holy place. Despite the sanctity of the place, the careless attitude of authorities has left the temples in a shabby condition. The ‘Yagya Kunda’ used for 'Sarp Yagya,' has become drainage site. But neither tourism department nor local administration is looking after it.
Priest of the temple, Sumer Giri said, “On every new and full-moon day devotees come in large numbers to worship lord Shiva. And on the occasion of every ‘Naag Panchmi’ and ‘Shiv Ratri’ huge fair is organised here. Devotees believe that the soil have supernatural powers of preventing poisonous snakes from coming to their homes, hence, they bring back home a handful of this soil. Many ‘Kanwariyas’ come here during ‘Savana’ (a Hindu month devoted to lord Shiva) to offer their love and affection for Lord Shiva.”
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Giri added that despite of its glorified history, the holy place didn’t get its due recognition. He demanded government to develop this place as a spiritual site.
The care taker of temples, Vishambhar Giri, asked government to develop better transportation facilities, so that more and more people can see their lord.
A Devkali resident, Anil Verma said, “Once, I had tried to draw attention of ‘Zila Panchayat' (responsible body for village development) regarding conservation of this religious site, but nothing happened.”
The land where Janmejaya had performed Sarpy Agya, which took lives of millions of dreadful venomous serpents, is in a shabby condition today. It is yelling for its restoration. If deep slumber of authorities remains the same, this holy place would be lost in anonymity.