Dandapani Temple, Varanasi
Long time back, there was a Yaksh named Ratnabhadra who had a son named Poornabhadra. After the death of Ratnabhadra, Poornabhadra started leading a comfortable life, but he had no issue, so he longed for children.
He expressed his desire to his wife, Kanaka Kundala, who in turn, asked him to worship Lord Shiva in Kashi. Poornabhadra did as he was asked by his wife. He worshipped Lord Shiva by means of singing Bhajans and very soon his wife delivered a beautiful boy who was named Harikesh.
In due course, Harikesh became eight years old and developed a religious proclivity (natural inclination or disposition) of mind. He also started worshipping Lord Shiva by making clay Shiv Lings. He used to address his friends by various names of Lord Shiva like Chandrashekhar, Mrityunjay, Trilochan, Neelkant, etc. He used to visit various Shiva Temples without fail.
His father Poornabhadra was a little upset because Harikesh had become religious very early in his life. He asked Harikesh to be involved in household activities but the boy would not listen. Without telling his parents, one fine morning Harikesh left his home and started wandering aimlessly. He remembered an incident sometime back, when a Sage had told his father; if a person does not have any proper destination, Varanasi (Kashi) is the best place for him.
Harikesh soon arrived in Kashi and started worshipping Lord Visweshwar (Shiva). Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvaty were in Anandavan (Kashi) and Lord Shiva was describing the various aspects of Kashi. In the process, he stated that those who live in Kashi will be happy and those who die in Kashi will have no rebirth. They are indeed praiseworthy. (Kashi Khand, Chapter 32 has amply described the beauty of Kashi as narrated by Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvaty).
While all these discussions were going on, Lord Shiva saw Harikesh whose body had gone completely lean. He was emaciated and his body resembled a skeleton. Goddess Parvaty was moved by the boy’s intense worship of Lord Shiva and she asked Lord to bless the boy suitably. Accordingly Lord Shiva approached the boy and gently touched him. The boy was immensely pleased on seeing the Lord shining like one crore Suryas. He started singing praises of Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva blessed the boy, stating that he will remain in Kashi as a saviour of votaries of Lord Shiva. He will protect the holy place from the evil forces and drive them away by his powers. Lord Shiva also ordained that two of his Shiv Gans named Samparam and Utparam would always be present with the Yaksh (Harikesh). Lord Shiva addressed Harikesh as Yaksh Raj (King of Yaksh) and granted that those who do not worship the latter would not get the benefit of Mukti in Kashi. Harikesh was also given the title of Dandapani (the one with the staff in his hand).
Lord Shiva further stated that devotees who take bath in Gyan Vapi Teerth and after performing rituals for their forefathers, worship Dandapani will become very fortunate and receive his (Lord Shiva’s) blessings. Kashi Khand states that Dandapani will stand or remain towards the south of Lord Visweshwar and will expel all wicked persons and admit only virtuous people for worshipping Lord Shiva in Kashi.
Those who worship Dandapani in Kashi will find that all their obstacles in life are removed and they will be quite happy in life. They are sure to attain Mukti.
Legend / Local stories
How to Reach:
Dandapani is located at Ck.36/10, Dhundhiraj Galli, Bazar behind Gyan Vapi. Devotees can travel upto Gyan Vapi (Near Chowk) by rickshaw, take a right turn, climb down the steps and again take a right turn. (If a devotee proceeds diagonally towards left, he will enter the Gyan Vapi area). After walking a few yards, the devotee will come to Markandeyshwar on the right side and immediately thereafter he will find Dandapani. For ready reference, Jalans (textile merchants) have a portion of their shop nearby. One thing is worth mentioning here that this Dandapani should not be confused with another Dandapani temple which is in the proximity of Kaal Bhairav temple.