Varanasi or Kashi has a corner for each community of India. Members of the community come here to worship, to stay as pilgrims, or to be just in a familiar environment. On my last Varanasi trip, I had the opportunity to visit Jangamwadi Mutt or Math.
This is a unique Mutt belonging to people who come primarily from Karnataka and Maharashtra. They are the followers of Veer Shaiva philosophy. They worship Shivalingas and nothing but the Shivalingas. You have to visit the place once to know what Shivalinga means to the followers of this sect.
History of Jangamwadi Mutt
It is one of the oldest Mutts in Varanasi. Literature dates back to Satyuga – the first of the four Yugas in the Hindu timeframe. The documented historical records date back to the 8th CE. However, it is hard to verify the exact date. It is said that Raja Jaichand donated land for this Mutt that has seen an unbroken lineage of 86 Jagatgurus. Present Peethadhipati or the Guru of the Peeth is Shri Jagadguru Chandrashekhar Shivacharya Mahaswami. The Mutt has seen women Gurus like Dharma Guru Sharnamma.
Visiting Jangamwadi Mutt – Millions of Miniature Shivalingas
I entered the gate that announced Shri 1008 Jagatguru Vishwasadhya Gyan Simhasan Jangamwadi Mutt with the words Jangamwadi Math written in Hindi, English, and Kannada. It is also known as Gyan Simhasan or Gyan Peetha. Etymologically Jangam means the one who knows Shiva. Peetha is a word used for an ashram or a place to stay. So, this essentially means those who know Shiva.
I visited their office and spoke to a lady who was supervising multiple things as most women do. She told me that they are the worshippers of the Linga and they do not follow any other deity or path. They follow no caste system or Jaati Bhed.
She told me that when women get pregnant, they tie a small Shivalinga around her belly. This Kajal or Kohl-coated Shivalinga protects the baby in the womb. This Shivalinga is then worn by the child after birth. It remains a part of all his rituals like the naming ceremony. She showed me miniature Shivalingas in crystal and stone that they always keep with themselves.
Siddhant Shikamani is the name of the philosophy that Veer Shaivas follow. It recommends Bhakti as the path to salvation. However, the form of Bhakti changes according to the state of Bhakta or devotee. To learn more about this read Siddhant Shikhamani.
A young swami took me around the premises and very sweetly posed for some pictures. He showed me Shivalingas in every possible corner of the premises. After going around and clicking pictures, he asked me to join them for lunch, which I had to decline politely. Looking back, I think I should have tasted the food there.
I would always remember this temple for its colorful doorways on top of which is always a Shivalinga. Green is the dominant color with some bright blue doors for contrast. The temple was full of devotees speaking Kannada and Marathi. They looked absolutely at home on the premises. The sanctum of the temple has tall pillars surrounding a Shivalinga. I assume this may have been the only part of its initial days. Everything else got added over time.
Many Sadhus and students stay at the premises, pursuing Vedic studies.
Shivaratri and Diwali are the biggest festivals celebrated here.
Shivalingas at the Mutt
The premises of this Mutt is full of Shivalingas, mostly small, miniature ones. Once you enter the main part of the premises and walk around, all you see are the rows and rows of Shivalingas neatly arranged on platforms. They are piled one over the other, creating a mountain of Shivalingas. There are rooms full of miniature Shivalingas.
Inside the temple too, around every big Shivalinga, there are thousands of miniature Shivalingas.
If you are wondering, why so many Shivalingas – here is the answer. When followers of this sect meet an accidental or unnatural death a Shivalinga is kept here in their memory. It is the equivalent of Pind Daan in traditional Hinduism. Veer Shaivas or Lingayats as they are sometimes called, donate a Shivalinga at Jangamwadi when someone passes away. Most new Shivalingas are given in the Hindu month of Saavan which falls during the monsoon season. This is the month when devotees of Shiva travel to far-off Shiva temples and offer prayers.
How many Shivalingas are there?
No one knows how many Shivalingas are there on these premises spread over 50,000 sq feet. Some say, no one can count. If I say a few lakhs it may be a gross underestimate.
It is located very close to the popular Dashashwamedh ghat. That is where the famous evening Ganga Arti takes place. It is not very difficult to locate. Any rickshaw guy would easily take you there.
It is a unique Mutt, do visit it next time you are in Varanasi.
Recommend you read the following travel blog posts on this historical place.
Top Varanasi Souvenirs to buy – Shopping in Banaras
Pahalwan Routine at Tulsi Akhada
The rhythm of Chaos on the Ghats of Ganga in Varanasi
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I never visited Varanasi, after reading your article I have decided to make a visit to this religious city. surely I will visit this place and will enjoy Ganga Aarti as well. Thanks for sharing this article.
Varanasi is a traveler’s city, since time immemorial. Every traveler must visit Varanasi.
Amazing article. After reading your blog and I want to visit this Beautiful city. When i visit this place, then I would see to Jangamwadi Math and othe places in Varanasi. I am very excited to see this place.
Divya – hope you get to go to Kashi soon enough.
What a colorful array of shivlingas. Its wonderful to see there is no jaati bhed..we need this thought
Shoma – I found the place incredible. I have been to Varanasi so many times but never knew of this.
Wow, I stay near Varanasi and have never heard of this place
Anshul – we at IndiTales always bring you the hidden gems of India. Do visit Jangamwadi now and tell us how did you like it.
Thank you so much for bringing us to places some of us have neither heard of nor can every hope to visit. One question — every time I visit one of your articles, it asks me to subscribe. I’ve been a subscriber for ages. Is there no way for the site to recognize who is already a subscriber? Thanks again.
Chitra – as far as I understand, the subscription form comes only once a month. Are you visiting after a long gap? Please visit more often and this would not occur.
We try to bring you places that most people do not go to – this is our lifetime mission.
The temple door is so pretty and so are those shivlings. My nani is very religious and would always tell us about tons of ashrams around this side of the city. I am not sure if she went here but I vaguely remember she did. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Ishita, I have to Varanasi so many times, probably passed by this many times, but never knew about it. During the last trip, this came up in a conversation and that is when I went exploring Jangamwadi.
Are you or your Nani from Varanasi?
Neither 🙂 We are from Himachal. I am intrigued by your travel style. I don’t count myself to be religious but I love visiting old temples and knowing more about that.
Ishita – I am not sure if I can call myself religious but culture and heritage intrigue me. The threads of faith that you can find in all places that have been inhabited for a long time attract me a lot. What amazes me most is the continuity of these over ages.
There are really lots of those. I don’t really understand most of the words and meanings but the entry door is really pretty and the colors of the shelves in the picture taken from far looks incredible. Do the colors have a meaning?
Helene – no colors really do not have a meaning, they just provide color to the ambiance. It is a unique place with such a huge collection of miniature Shivalingas.
you gave us lot of information about the place which seems like,even a stone can be changed to shivalanga with their fidelity
Arun – they say in Kashi every stone is a Shivalinga – this is probably a microcosm of that.
nice place , we are waiting to see.thank you for giving information.
May you get to visit Jangamwadi Mutt soon, Vasantha.
Thank you very much Anuradha Goyal ji. Being a Jangama, I came to know about Jangama wadi recently. I am going to visit in few days. Past a week I am searching for it’s exact address. Now I got it from you.
So happy Sivadanam Ji that IndiTales could help you find the Jangamwadi Mutt. It is a beautiful Mutt, please do visit it.
WE are a family friends of 27 adults visiting on 30th may to 3rd june please provide us the accommodation as we were known by others about your asharam n the accommodation please do the needfull
we are coming to varanshi dt 16-01-2020 please provide us the accommodation for 50 members
if any information please send to my e-mail.
can we stay at the Jangamwadi mathh for 3 days while visiting Varanasi?
There are few questions:
1. What is the connection to Kannada language ?
2. Who is the current Head of the matha and where is he from ?
3. Understand the Mataha has a very good Library as evidenced by the humongous digitised books available at archives.org ! It is an extraordinary contribution and the haed ust be a very knowledgeable man and spent a fortune for digitising ! Can you throw some light on this ?