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Sandipani ashram is located in Ujjain in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. It is famous because it was here where Lord Krishna (Hindu god of love and compassion), his elder brother Balarama, and their friend Sudama completed their education. The ashram still stands today and is an important part of the local folklore. There are multiple sites within the ashram which is unique and notable like the Gomti Kund and statue of Nandi.
As everyone knows, Nandi is the gatekeeper of Mount Kailasa (the abode of Lord Shiva, hindu god of destruction) and also the vahana (mount) of Lord Shiva. Nandi is usually depicted as a bull and is found in a sitting position (facing the main shrine) in all Shiva temples. One unique thing about the Nandi statue found in Sandipani Ashram is that it is the only standing Nandi statue in the world!
ORIGIN OF THE ASHRAM
According to legend, Ujjain was prone to long stretches of famine. The famines disrupted the economy and lives of the locals. With no other way out, the then king of Ujjain requested Guru Sandipani to worship Lord Shiva. Sandipani was living as a muni (sage) and was widely known in the area as a highly knowledgeable and spiritual man. Abiding the king’s wishes, the guru started meditating and praying to Lord Shiva. Shiva appeared before him and impressed by the guru’s dedication and sincerity, decided to help the kingdom. He revealed that he will come and live in a place called Mahakaleshwar (presently only 5.6km or 3.5 miles from the ashram) and mitigate the kingdom of any future bouts of famine. But he also requested the guru something in return. He asked Sandipani to build a ashram in Ujjain because according to cosmic prediction Lord Vishnu will soon be born in a new avatar (as Lord Krishna) and will then travel to the ashram alongside his elder brother and their friend to complete their early education. Heeding to Lord Shiva’s request, Sandipani established his ashram there. Millenia later, the ashram still stands where it was established and is called “Maharishi Sandipani Ashram”.
ARRIVAL OF LORD KRISHNA
Lord Krishna is an avatar of the all-powerful Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe. After reaching adolescence, he decided to travel to Ujjain with his elder brother Balaram and their friend Sudama for his early education. When the three of them arrived at the ashram, Sudama bowed before Sandipani and the guru, welcomed his new disciple inside. Next it was the turn of Balaram who proceeded to perform the same action and was welcomed inside. Finally, it was Lord Krishna’s turn to seek the guru’s blessing. When he approached Sandipani, the guru stood their smiling. The pair stood their as few minutes passed, without exchanging any words orally. After a while, the guru welcomed Lord Krishna inside. Both Balaram and Sudama stood perplexed at this bizarre interaction and inquired their new guru about it. Guru Sandipani said, when he saw Krishna, the supreme and omniscient lord of all living things asking for his guidance, he smiled. Without uttering any word orally, he asked Lord Krishna why he came seeking his counsel when he was the all-knowing lord of the universe. Krishna smilingly replied in his head that even though he is omniscient, he did not know where to start. Sandipani happily accepted his new disciple.
It is said that when Lord Krishna entered the ashram’s premises Nandi was still sitting in his position in front of the temple of Shiva which Sandipani had constructed. But seeing Vishnu (Lord Krishna being an avatar of Vishnu) entering the space, he immediately stood up out of respect and has been standing ever since.
Gomti river flowed through Lord Krishna’s kingdom of Dwarka. People prayed the river and submerged themselves in its auspicious waters. Sandipani also believed in the spiritual powers of the river and often traveled far and wide to pray on its banks and dip in it. It is believed that Lord Krishna felt sympathetic towards the plight of his guru. Using his mighty powers, he called upon the waters of the river to come and settle in a new reservoir in the ashram. This became the Gomti Kund which is still found in the ashram and is one of the key places to visit within the ashram.
Sandipani Ashram is a truly unique place. After all, it’s not everyday that you get to visit a place where the all-knowing lord of the universe came for his education.