Sumana Kukke

From time immemorable, Varanasi has existed. So have its names. But among all of them, the name Kashi is the most often used in ancient texts and in conversations today. This is not without reason. Like all words of Samskrita, this word too has a clear etymology. It is derived from the root काश् which means primarily ‘to shine’. 

Light in India has always taken to be a sign of knowledge. For example, in the Gita, Krishna says, “यथैधांसि समिद्धोऽग्निर्भस्मसात्कुरुतेऽर्जुन । ज्ञानाग्निः सर्वकर्माणि भस्मसात्कुरुते तथा ॥4.37॥”, which means, ‘just as burning fire turns fuel into ashes, Oh Arjuna, so does the fire of knowledge turn all Karma to ashes’. 

Even today the city of Kashi is synonymous with learning and knowledge. The contribution of Kashi to world literature and learning is unparallel able by no other city. From Lord Buddha to today’s Pandit Baldev Upadhyay, learning and teaching have never ceased. It is because knowledge is the cause for Moksha, ‘ज्ञानादेव कैवल्यम्’. That is the reason Kashi is also considered a place where salvation is attained.

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