Monthly Archives: May 2012

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana

Weapons in the period of The Ramayana

Weapons used in the times of the Ramayana

Long before the advent of nuclear weapons, we heard it many times in Indian mythology and ancient texts that not only powerful weapons existed, but they were also used by various people. Some of these weapons had the power to annihilate the whole universe. This provides us with some fascinating reading, as we can related to these weapons with modern warfare.

Lord Rama and his weapons

Probably the most written and popular is the Brahmastra, which is has found mention in Mahabharat and The Ramayana. This was the most potent and could be used once in the lieftime.  Lord Ram earlier intended to use this against Sagar (Sea god),as he wanted to ocean to give way to Lanka. Sagar was not yielding when Rama requested him, so as the last measure, he resorted to use the Brahmastra. Sagar promplty complied. By this time, the Brahmastra was invoked, so Rama has directed it towards a place, where it could do minimal harm.

When Rama invoked Brahmastra on Sagar (Sea God)

When Rama invoked Brahmastra on Sagar (Sea God)

Ravana’s killing: Lord Rama used prasvapna as the means to evaporate the amrita (nectar) from Ravana, which was the reason Ravana was not dying. This important advice was given by Vibheeshana to him.

Rama using Prasavapan on Ravana

Rama using Prasavapan on Ravana

 

In the war,  he used Gandharvastra to kill 14000 asurs, as this weapon compelled asuras to think that the next person fighting to them is Rama. Thus they fought with each other and killed themselves. Only two people knew to use this weapon, Rama and Ravana, though Ram only had the knowledge to neutralize this.

Earlier, in his student days, Lord Rama used Manava upon Maricha.

Rama and Ravana - The Ramayana

Ravana killing by Lord Rama – The Ramayana

Lakshman and his weapons

Lakshman used various weapons in this war. He has killed Ravana’s son Meghnad. He used Varunaastra which Meghnaad failed. He used Sauryaastra to neutralize Meghnaad’s Aagneyastra . Then Lakshman had to use powerful weapon named Maheshwar to stop Meghnad’s asur weapon. Meghnad was killed when Lakshman used Indrastra. Prior to that Meghnaad used his powerful weapon Shakti, due to which Laskhman was unconscious on battle field. Hanuman brought Sanjeevani to revive him.

Hanuman bringing sanjeevani booti to revive Laxman

Meghnaad managed to imprison Rama and Laxmana in Naagpaash. Hanuman sought the help of Garud to free Rama and Lakshman. This is a very interesting and important incident, where the gods have been rendered helpless and had to seek help of mortals. Thus this mythology story is a teacher which teaches us to be humble, as help is needed by gods too.

 

Meghnaad used naga astra against Ram and Laxman

 

Ram and Laxman in nagpaash - reviced by Garuda

Ram and Laxman in nagpaash – revived by Garuda

 

Meghnaad’s boon and his death – Meghnaad had this boon that he could not be killed after performing a yagya. After completing the yagya, he would have received a rath (chariot) and while sitting on this, he could not be killed. Rama was told by Vibheeshan of this fact and Rama ordered him, Lakshman and Hanuman to go and stop this yagya. There was a precondition that he could not touch any weapon when performing this yagya.

There they disturbed his yagya and did not allow him to complete the yagya. So he had to get up in the middle of the yagya and fought with Lakshman and Hanumaan only with Yagya utensils. He was very angry with Vibheeshan, his uncle. He had saved a Divine Astra, Yamastra, to kill him, so he used it to kill him, but Kuber had already warned Lakshman about it, so Lakshman countered it and saved himself. Meghnaad used his three most fierce Astra (BrahmastraPashupatastra and Vaishnavastra) at Lakshman but to his surprise none of them even touched him; rather Vaishnavaastra circumambulated Lakshman before disappearing.

Meghnaad realized that Lakshman was no ordinary man, so he briefly disappeared from the battle ground and came to his father, told him everything and requested to make peace with Rama. But Ravana rebuked him for being coward, so Meghnaad again came to the battle after bidding good bye to his parents and wife. He fought with Lakshman fiercely and then was killed by Indrastra.

Laxman killing Indrajit

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Japanese wedding

Japanese Wedding

Japanese wedding can be either a traditional or a western one. It can be either arranged or love. But first of all the couple should be legally married by filing for the marriage at local government office. Actually the documents are required for further ceremonies to be held.
In a traditional shinto ceremony an elaborate ceremony is held at shinto shrine.
Traditional Sinto Japanese wedding at the shrine, with bride
wearing Japanese wedding Kimono (Uchikake)
Whereas in a western one the ceremonies are held in a chapel, it can either be a simple or an elaborate one. Before the ceremony there is a rehearsal in which bride’s mother lowers her daughter veil, signifying the last act which she can do before giving her. Then bride’s father walks the bride down the aisle to her groom. This is followed by a procession in which the wedding celebrant wear a wedding cross, or a cana which symbolises a couple’s commitment to share life together. They give brief welcome and speech before announcing bride’s entrance. This ends with bowing of groom to bride’s father who does the same in return. Now starts the service, after the reading of Bible there is prayer and short message, explaining the sanctity of wedding vows. Bride and groom share their vows, exchange rings and at last sign register and then are declared a new couple.
Nowadays, both traditional and western style ceremonies are merged and marriage is conducted in a way, which is called contemporary style wedding. In this on the wedding day all the participants get ready in their formal Japanese attire. Bride attire consist of an extravagant kimono, heavy makeup, a wig and head covering. Photographs of bride groom and their relatives are taken which is considered as an essential part of wedding day. After this lengthy photo shoot they go to shinto shrine, where priest conduct ceremonies. Firstly the bride and groom are purified, then they exchange nuptial cups of sake. Due to western influence instead of shinto shrine they may go to a hotel where all activities takes place. The couple often exchange wedding rings and take vows. After all the wedding ceremonies are over there is a reception. This include dramatic entrance by bride and groom, speeches and other performances. Bride has to change her dress for 2-3 times. After speech session, cake is cut and then it’s time to eat and drink. During this both bride and groom again change their outfit and at the end they wear a western style of attire. After the last costume they perform a candle service, in which they light candles on the table where their parents are sitting then all the candles placed on guest tables. Then reception ends with a flower presentation ceremony, where newly wed couple present flower to their parents.

Interesting news – Dead man wakes up at his own funeral

Spotted this news on NDTV. The interesting part is that mourners cheered the “resurrection” of the person. The whole story can be read at http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/dead-man-wakes-up-at-his-own-funeral-210504?pfrom=home-otherstories

Interesting birth stories from Indian mythology

Birth of Rama, Pandavas, Jarasandh and others

Indian or hindu mythology talk about interesting stories of  births as well. We find instances where great characters came to earth in different way. One common way is that eating dessert or fruit results in birth of a child.
We find this once in the period of The Ramayana and once in the period of Mahabharata.

Birth of Rama (An incarnation of Vishnu Dashavatar)

Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya, has three queens but he was deprived of children. He resorted to penance and after a dedicated worship and havana, messenger of Brahma offered him divine dessert, which was supposed to give sons to Dasharatha. He distributed the dessert to his queens and they soon became pregnant and later became the proud mothers of Ram, Laxman, Bharat and Shatrughan. This is how, one of the dashavatars of Vishnu, Rama was born.

Dashrath performing yagna and receiving prasad from Agni god

Dashrath performing yagna and receiving prasad from Agni god

 

Birth of Jarasandh

Jarasandha was the king of Magadha.  Jarasandh’s father has done severe penance to get a son.  His father got a Magical mango from a sage. It was told that the his queen will get pregnant upon eating the fruit. He distributed the fruit in two halves and gave each half to his two wives. Both delivered a half of a baby , born dead.The king ordered the two halves to be thrown. A demon called Jara was wandering nearby and she noticed the pieces and joined them into one. The baby came alive. It was named as Jarasandh in the honour of the rakshasi. The boy became a very strong man. He defeated and captured 86 kings and kept them prisoner, intending to execute all of them in a sacrifice, once the number reached hundred. This will make him invincible and the ruler of world. For the success of Rajasooya yagya, Krishna, Arjuna and Bheema, went to him disguised as Brahmins and asked him to choose one of them to fight him. He rejected Shri Krishna saying that he was of inferior birth. He also denied Arjuna for a fight because he thought he was a child. He chose Bheema as he appeared suitable for a fight. The fight lasted a long time, thirteen days. Finally, acting upon Krishna’s advise, Bheema tore Jarasandha into two pieces, and tossed the pieces (cut lengthwise) facing opposite directions. This is how Jarasandha was killed in the same way he was born. Thus, as a result of killing of ruler of Magadh, Jarasandh, the path of
Rajsooya yagya was cleared. Yudhishthira later completed the Rajsooya yagya. This story is from the times of Mahabharata.

 

Birth of Drona

Drona was born in a vessel. Sage Bhardwaj produced reproductive fluid after seeing an apsara Ghritachi. He preserved this is a vessel (droon). Drona was thus developed from this fluid. Drona would later boast that he had sprung from Bharadwaja without ever having been in a womb. Even Drona’s wife, Kripi, was gestated outside a womb. Kripi and her brother Kripacharya were the children of the great archer, Shardwan. Indra felt threatened by him and sent an apsara to lose his control over his brahmacharya, thus saving his throne. This story is again from the times of Mahabharata.

Dhrishtdyumna-killing-drona-indian-mythology-mahabharat

Drona and Dhrishtdyumna – Mahabharat

 

Birth of Kauravas

Few people know that Kauravas birth was unnatural as well. Gandhari longed for hundred sons, and Vyasa granted her a boon that she would have these. She was unable to have any children for a long time and she eventually became pregnant, but did not deliver for two years, after which she gave birth to a lump of flesh. Vyasa cut this lump into a
hundred and one pieces, and these eventually developed into a hundred boys and one girl, Dushala.

birth-kaurava-gandhari-mahabharat-indian-mythology

Gandhari and Kauravas – birth – Mahabharat – Indian Mythology

 

Birth of Karna and Pandavas

Kunti was the mother of first three pandavas. When she was young, the sage Durvasa told her a mantra with which Kunti could summon any deva and have a child by him. When Kunti asked why he gave her this mantra, he told her that it would be useful to her later in life. Kunti, out of curiosity tried the mantra before her marriage and became the mother of  Karna. She had to let her son go and he was brought up by Adhirath.

Birth of Karna and Kunti letting him go away

Birth of Karna and Kunti letting him go away

Later, after marriage, she bore three more sons and shared the mantra with Madri, who became the mother of Nakula and Sahdev.

pandavas-draupadi-mahabaharat-indian-mythology

Pandavas and Draupadi