Dunagiri – home of mythical herb ‘Sanjeevani’

Dunagiri is a historic area in Almora district in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Approximately 400 km (250 m) from Delhi, a cluster of six small villages forms the place that is variously known as Dunagiri, Drongiri and Doonagiri. 116 such villages combine to form the Development Block of Dwarahat, which falls under the District of Almora. Located at a height of 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level, Dunagiri is famous within Kumaon for its temple of Shakti – known here as Dunagiri Devi.

According to the local tradition, the town has been regularly visited by sages (Rishi-Munis) of India who established their ashramshere in the midst of nature. Ashram of Garg Muni was at Dunagiri after whom river Gagas is said to have been named. Sukhdev Muni’s ashram (son of sage Ved Vyasa) was also here, at a place now known as “Sukh Devi”.During their period of anonymous travel, the Pandavas of Mahabharata took shelter at Dunagiri. Pandukholi is said to be the place near Dunagiri where they stayed for a period of time. Pandav’s Guru Dronacharya also did tapasya (devout austerity) at Dunagiri. Dunagiri is mentioned in Manas khand of Skanda Purana. Dunagiri Devi is described as Mahamaya Harpriya (Manaskhand, 36.17-18). Manaskhand of Skandpuran bestows Dunagiri with the title of Brahm-parvat (Divine Mountain). Among all the Shakti temples of Kumaon, Dunagiri is counted amid the most ancient ‘Sidh Shaktipeeth’, as a primary ‘ugra’ (intense) ‘peeths’ – called ‘Ugra Peeth’. This Shaktipeeth in its essence has been influenced over time by Shaiva, Vaishnav and Shakt practices.

Dunagiri is the  with life giving powers. In the epic Ramayana, Lord Hanumana comes to Dunagiri to fetch this herb to revive Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana who lay unconscious in the battlefield. Dunagiri Mountain or Dhronagiri as it is called by some, is the source of the herbs that restore life. Dhrona in this case likely refers to a ‘container of Soma,’ Soma being the nectar of immortality. Giri means mountain, and hence Dhronagiri can be seen as the mountain of Soma, of the deepest healing and empowering possible from herbs. (Another legend says that this is where the sage Dhronacharya meditated.)

Duna means ‘burnt’ and so Dunagiri can refer to that part of Dhronagiri that was brought from the Himalayas out to the world, in the hands of Hanuman and on fire, as a vehicle of deep restoration and vitality, as a restoration of Life! ‘Du’ also means ‘two’ and in this case Dunagiri refers to the union of Shiva with Shakti, of Purusha with Prakrti, of the Divine Masculine with the Divine Feminine.

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In more recent times, Dunagiri was the spot chosen by Mahavatar Babaji to give Kriya Yoga initiation to Lahiri Mahashaya, hence Dunagiri in known as the birthplace of Kriya Yoga. A golden palace was materialized here, as mentioned in the book Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda Paramhansa. It is also at Dunagiri that Mahavatar Babaji is said to have given initiation to Haidakhan baba in Manas Yog, to Neem Karoli baba in Mantra yoga, and to Sombari baba in Pashupat yoga. Other saints who meditated at Dunagiri are: Harnarayan Swami, Ram Baba, Mahatama Laxminarayan Das, Nantin Baba, Mahant Balwant Giri, MK Bhattacharya, Swami Satyaeshwarnananda Giri.3

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