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“The timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness; and knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
(Kahlil Gibran – Lebanese born American philosophical Essayist, Novelist and Poet. 1883-1931)
“The City has been known by various names thoughout its long history, but the oldest and most common of these are still Varanasi and Kashi.
In the remote past, it was generally held that Kashi and Varanasi had different connotations.
While Kashi was the name of the kingdom, Varanasi was its capital, as we find during the age of Shodasha Mahajanapada.
In the present day the names Kashi and Varanasi are interchangeable.
According to one school, the name Varanasi originated from its location between Varuna and Nashi, which was later called Asi.
Another suggests that the City took its name from the Varuna River, which was formerly called Varunasi or Varanasi.
While the Chinese corruptions of Varanasi are Pho-lo-nai and Po-lo-nisse, as set by Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang respectively, the Muslim name from the time of their occupation of the City was Banaras, which continues today.
Benares is the British variation that has been handed down to the present generation and is still frequently used by many.
According to some, Kashi comes from Kasha, the name of an ancient Hindu King who ruled the City.
Others believe that the name simply comes from a kind of tall grass, kaska, whic once grew abundantly along the riverbank.
Then again, according to the Kashi Khandam, the name has been derived from the Sanskrit root “kash”, meaning “to shine”, “to look brilliant” or “beautiful”.
Hence Kashi, or what is sometimes called Kashika, is a place where the light, signifying Shiva himself, shines.
This City of Light then is essentially “the city of enlightenment which libarates souls”.
Varanasi has also been called by various other names in the Hindu scriptures, e.g., Avimukta (the never-forsaken), the Anandavana (the forest of bliss), Rudravasa (the city of Shiva), Mahashmashana (the great cremation ground) and Jitwari (a place where business is highly profitable).
The Jatakas also record various names for the City including Surundhana, Sudarshana, Brahmavardhana,, Pushpavati, Rammanagar, Molini and others.
The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb changed the name to Muhammadabad and also set up a mint from which coins were issued with the intent to disgrace both Hinduism and this centre of Hinduism.
This new name remained confined to government documents, however, and this too only for a short time-till the demise of Aurangzeb…”
This picture was shot at dawn from Anand’s boat on the Ganges nearby Tulsi ghat.