Monthly Archives: July 2012

The complete story of Varaha avatar – Vishnu Dashavatar

Varaha Avatar – the third of Vishnu Dashavatar

This avatar of Vishnu dashavatar is in a form of boar. He saved the earth from Hiranyaksha, who incidentally is also the brother of Hiranyakashyap. He has grown because boons from Brahma. Hiranyaksha took the earth to the bottom of the ocean. He did this because wanted to make Devas weak. The devas need Havis, the sacrificial oblations of the mortals to maintain their strength.

Since they started losing their strength, they requested Vishnu to help them. Vishnu took the form of a boar, the third dashavatar. Herescued the earth from the depths of ocean with his tusks. Hiranyaksha, who was searching for Vishnu, finally finds him in the form of boar – a dashavatar.

Lord Vishnu saving earth in form of Varaha avatar (Dashavatar)

Hiranyaksha intercepted the boar, and then commenced one of the greatest battles of all time. Vishnu balanced the earth on his thigh, and gored Hiranyaksha to his death. Since he had balanced Bhooma Devi (the goddess of earth) on his thighs, a son was born to her. As he was created when Vishnu had been involved in a ferocious battle, he was an Asura. This is the famous Narakusara, who was later slain by Vishnu in his avatar as Krishna.

The avatar of Varaha signifies the restoration of the Earth from a pralaya (deluge) and the formation of a new kalpa (cosmic cycle). Varaha Purana, one of the major eighteen Mahapuranas, describes about the Varaha incarnation of LordVishnu, and also about the rescue of the Prithvi.

Hiranyakashyap and Hirankyaksha were two gandharvas Jaya and Vijaya. Due to a curse from Sanat kumaras, they had to take birth as asuras. Vishnu. They wanted to be free of the curse in little time, that is why Vishnu decided to take from of dashavatars to kill them.

The complete story of Kurma avatar – Vishnu dashavatara

Kurma Avatar – second Vishnu dashavatara

The second avatar of Dashavatara is Kurma avatar. Kurma means tortoise. Vishnu took the form of turtle to help devas and asuras ( gods and demons). They were churning ocean to receive the gifts from the ocean. Lord VIshnu helped the devas in two counts. First, he acted as base to support the Mount Mandar, which was used as an axis for churning of ocean. Second, as Mohini to take hold of nectar (or amrit). Due to this gods got an upper hand in “Dev Asur sangharsh”.

Kurma avatar belongs to the Satya Yuga and in this avatara Mahavishnu incarnated as a giant turtle to save the earth from destruction. Kurma Avatar of dashavatar is explained mainly in the Bhagavad Purana, Agni Purana and Ramayana. Kurma Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, is said to have been directly stated by Lord Vishnu to the sage Narada, and it contains the details about the Kurma avatar.
Kurma avatar - Dashavatar

Kurma avatar – Dashavatar

Durvasa curse to Indra

Devas grew weaker due to a curse from Durvasa. The demons or asuras, a group of malicious deities in the Hindu mythology, tried to overcome them. A war followed, which continued for long. Despite fighting bravely, devas could not win over the asuras. They asked Lord Vishnu for help.

Advice of Lord Vishnu

Lord Vishnu asked the devas to use Mount Mandara as a churning stick. But, they could not pull up the mountain. On advice of Lord Vishnu, the gods and asuras made a deal to churn the ocean jointly. They pulled the Mount Mandara and used it as a churning stick. Serpent Vasuki was used as a rope. it was pulled first one way and then the other. During churning, Mandara began to sink into the mud at the bottom of the milk ocean. Vishnu took the form of Kurma (second dashavatara), and held the mountain on his broad back.
Vishnu as Mohini

Vishnu as Mohini

As a result of the churning, amrita was obtained which asuras took control of it. Here Vishnu, took the form of a beautiful lady, Mohini. He managed to take the nectar bowl with him and gave it to devas. Thus devas eventually got powerful. Thus, Vishnu helped them once again and took the form of one of the dashavatara.

The complete story of Matasya avatar – Vishnu dashavatara

Matasya avatar – First Vishnu Dashavatara

In the earliest yuga (era) of Sata-yuga,  king Manu was performing severe penance for long period. One day as he was performing ablutions with river water, a small fish came into his hands and just as he was about to throw the fish back into the river, the fish requested the king to save its life.

Heeding its request, the king put the fish into a jar of water but the fish started growing and very soon the jar was not big enough for it. Then the king threw it into the river, but it soon it outgrew the river and the king then threw it into Ganges and then into the ocean.

Vishnu dashavatara – Matasya avatar

The king realised that it was Lord Vishnu himself and then the lord made an appearance and made a special request to the king. It predicted that the world would come to an end by a huge flood in seven days and requested the king to build a huge boat and take the seven sages (hermits), seeds of all plants, one animal of each type.

He told him that he would appear as a fish to propel the boat to Mount Himavan for surviving the flood to the next yuga(eon). True to his word, after seven days the Lord appeared and the king tied the boat to the fish by using the royal serpent Vasuki and the fish took all of them to Mt Himavan and kept them there till the flood was over and in the new era, the king started procreation a for the new era.

Matasya avatar of Vishnu Dashavatar

Mahabharat and Sholay – A resemblance

Mahabharat and Sholay (Hindi movie)

There is atleast one instance, although not significant in whole scheme of things, where Mahabharat (the epic) and Sholay (hindi movie) have similarity. I am discussing the incident when Gabbar Singh killed Salim and asked the villagers to give Jai and Veeru to them.  After a bit of discussion, a decision was taken when Rahim chacha pointed that when he is not turning his back on Jai (Amitabh Bacchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra) even when he has lost his young son.

Jai and Veeru are delivered to Gabbar Singh, at a place specified beforehand. When the robbers of Gabbar Singh’s gang pick them up, they find a note attached on the back of Veeru and Jai. It says – “Gabbar Singh. agar tum ek maroge, hum chaar maarenge”. Though this line is not as famous as other dialogues, but has the intensity. When dacoits turned the bodies of Jai and Veeru, they started firing and killed all dacoits, except one, to tell the happenings to Gabbar.

Jai and Veeru in Sholay – great hindi movie

I find this piece interesting as there is a similar story in the epic Mahabharat. in Ek chakra Nagri, Vakasur used to demand large amounts of grain. He also demanded a person should be sent to him daily to satiate his hunger. When Pandavas were travelling, they reached this place and found the happenings. They decided to do something about this and surely, Bheema was sent with the cart which was sent to Vakasur daily. Soon enough, Vakasur came out and killed by Bheema.

Bheema waiting for Bakasura

 

Bheema killing Bakasura

 

The last scene of this hindi movie Sholay is also important, where Jai dies. This scene can also be compared with the death of Abhimanyu, who died fighting with kauravas, when Arjuna was away. This is similar again as Arjuna was also away and Abhimanyu stepped in time to save the day for pandavas.

Sholay and Mahabharata – similarities

To take this further, parallels can be drawn between Thakur and Shri Krishna also. They did not fight the war themselves, but the war could not have won in absence of them. Their proteges, Pandavas and Jai-Veeru took care of the enemies. And lastly, their stance signified one thing, victory of good over evil.

Hash brown – recipe of this mouth watering item

Recipe of Hash Brown

There is nothing like a crisp, freshly cooked Hash brown.
Hash browns are a staple breakfast food in North America, where they are often fried on a large common cooktop or griddle. While they are not traditional, they are widely served in the UK as part of an English breakfast. These are consumed with baked beans.

 

History of Hash Browns

The full name was ‘hashed brown potatoes’ (or ‘hashed browned potatoes’). its first known mention is by food author Maria Parloa in 1888. Earlier,  a recipe from the Minnesota Farmers’ Institute Annual of 1835 mentions this food form. This journal has hash potatoes (cooked in milk, but not browned), brown hashed potatoes and brown creamed hash potatoes. A very close dish is from switzerland, rosti, which is quite similar to hash browns. But widely, it is accepted that this food form has originated from united states.

There are variations of this recipe which are also popular. Corned beef, chopped meat, leftovers, or other vegetables are part of the recipe of this.

Hash brown potatoes are diced, mixed with shortening and chopped onions, and then fried to form a browned potato cake. Following is the full recipe of this item.

Ingredients :

Potatoes – 3 medium
Butter – 3 tb sp.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Process :
– Peel and wash potato.
– Coarsely grate them.
– Add salt and pepper.
– Heat butter in a large skillet.
– Using spatula, pat potato mixture into skillet. Cook on a medium low heat till the bottom is crispy and golden.
– Turn it cook on other side.
 Once done you can cut them in traditional wedge shape or any other desired shape.

Interesting variations to Hash browns

  • Aloo tikki the North Indian potato snack
  • Home fries– These are basic potato preparation. very commonly found in Mcdonalds.
  • Rösti the Swiss shrreedded potato dish, traditionally eaten for breakfast
  • Tater Tots a trademark for a form of small shredded potato cylinders
  • Potato waffle the waffle shaped frozen potato cake in the UK and Ireland
  • Bubble and squeak potato fried together with leftovers
  • Rappie pie the French-North American casserole made with shredded potatoes
  • Boxty is the Irish potato dish

    Hash brown - a variation of this popular recipe

    Hash brown – a variation of this popular recipe

Hindi movies inspired by Mahabharat

Hindi movies inspired by Mahabharat

Mahabharat has inspired bollywood. A number of hindi movies are based on this epic and rightly so, because no other epic provides the depth and variety as this does. There are a number of films and serials which have been made on Mahabharat story and in recent times, we see a modernised version of Mahabharat where the story line is inspired by  Mahabharat.

Probably, the first movie based on Mahabharat was A Throw of Dice (Prapancha Pash 1929). This was based on myths and legends drawn from Indian epic Mahabharat. Charu roy and Sita devi were the characters of this film. This was directed by a german filmmaker Franz Osten. This same gentleman has directed the landmark hindi movie, Acchut kanya.

Kalyug – Many people perhaps struggle in remembering this hindi movie, but I reckon this was a commendable effort with actors related to art films. Victor Banerjee played the role of Duryodhana and Yudhisthir was played by Raj Babbar. Though the movie was based on modern times, one can easily relate to the characters. This was directed by Shyam Benegal.

Kalyug - Hindi movie

Kalyug – Hindi movie based on Mahabharat

Rajneeti – This is quite recent and the story line appears to be inspired by Mahabharat and The Godfather, a famous novel by Mario Pujo. Ajay Devgan has played Suraj which is Karna in Mahabharat. Manoj Bajpai admirably plays Duryodhana. There is Nana Patekar as Brijgopal or Shri Krishna and Ranvir Kapoor plays the role of Arjuna and Michael Corleone. The story is inspired by The Godfather here, where the elder brother of Ranveer, Arjun Rampal dies in the movie. This is more like Sonny Corleone. Nevertheless, a good attempt, but the surprise factor was not there. To read more about Rajneeti, the hindi movie, visit here.

Mahabharat – This hindi movie was made in 1965 with the same name as of this epic. Dara Singh played the role of Bhima. Abhi bhattacharya as Krishna and most appropriately, Jeevan played Shakuni. We don’t know much about how did this movie fared, perhaps you can help by giving your feedback through comments.

Mahabharat - Hindi movie

Mahabharat – Hindi movie

Mahabharat, the serial: In 1988, BR Chopra, the famous director – producer of  Waqt fame, did a fantastic job of telling this epic. So beautifully this serial was made, that people used to wait in anticipation. The streets were deserted when this serial was aired on sunday mornings. Dara Singh played a brief cameo of Hanuman. Shri Krishna’s character was made his own by Nitish. Mukesh Khanna is also remembered fondly for his role played as Bhishma Pitamah.

Mahabharat – The serial

Test your knowledge on Mahabharat

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Deoghar, Baidyanath dham and Shravan festival

The Shravan festival

The festival of Shravan or Kanwar festival is the most auspicious one for lord Shiva devotees. During this month, devotees from various parts of Bihar and Jharkhand observe strict rituals. They carry holy water of Ganges (Gangajal) from Sultanganj to Deoghar for Lord Shiva.

Baba Vaidyanath Mandir

Pic. – Baidyanath Dham Mandir

This month normally falls in July – August according to english calendar and hindu devotees travel to Baidyanath Deoghar to worship Baba Baidyanath ( Lord Shiva).

How Lord Shiva came to Deoghar

There is an interesting story that Ravana once worshipped Lord Shiva so that he awarded him saying that I will stay with you in form of Shivlinga. This posed a problem for Devtas who thought that this would make him invincible. They used a ruse which forced Ravana to put the Shivlinga in Deoghar and it became Lord Shiva’s permanent abode. Since because of Ravana only Shiv has came to Deoghar, Ravana is treated with respect here.

Why Gangajal is offered to Baba Baidyanath

The custom of carrying holy water from Sultanganj on Kanwar and offering to it Shiva started in the Treta Yuga. This yuga was the silver age of Hindu mythology. Lord Rama had carried the holy ganges water from Sultanganj in a kanwar and offered to Lord Shiva at Babadham.

Another legend says that when the churning of oceans – Samudra Manthan – took place, this was in the month of Shravan. During manthan, fourteen different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed amongst the deamons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat. Hence the name Neelkantha (meaning blue throat) is attributed to Shiva.

To reduce the strong effect of poison, Lord Shiva wore the crescent moon on his head. All the Gods, thereafter started offering the Ganges water to Lord Shiva to make lessen the effect of poison.

This happened in the month of Shravan. The Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water in this month and Shravan festival is observed. This festival and Baidyanath Deoghar is one of the holiest ones for Hindu devotees.

Baidyanath jyotirlinga temple

Baidyanath jyotirlinga temple

Importance of Gangajal from Sultanganj

In Sultanganj, the Ganges flows to the North. This is why, the devotees collect water in their kanwars and carry the holy Ganges water, with the kanwars on their shoulders. They walk 109 km up to Baba Baidyanath temple at Babadham reciting Bol Bam on the way.

Importance of Belpatra

Lord Shiva has three eyes – Mother Parvati, Lord Kartik and Ganesh. Lord Shiva is also called Mahadeva, the god of gods and his three eyes- Trinetra are his identification. Three eyes, three virtues, three truths, three swords of the Trident (Trishul) and three leaves (Belpatra) are very dear to Shiva. Lord Shiva becomes pleased if one offers Ganga water with Belpatra.

 

baba baidyanath at Night

pic – Mandir at Night

Bol – Bam and its importance

The word Bam is a short name for Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The letters BA came from Brahma and Vishnu and M came from Mahesh.

It is a long efficacious mantra (a hymn). When it is chanted during the way, it generates energy and enthusiasm amongst the kanwarias and gives them the psychological strength to carry on walking and succeed in covering the long distance from Sultanganj to Babadham.

According to the Skand Purana, those who complete the holy journey by reciting Bam-Bam obtain the virtues of Ashwamedha Yajna. According to the Puranas, the demon king Ravana had brought the Ganges water from Haridwar and offered to Lord Shiva.

During their journey from Sultanganj to Deoghar, kanwariyas are supposed to observe strict vrata:

To maintain celibacy (Bramhacharya)
To remember Lord Shiva by keeping mind, heart and speech pure
To speak the truth
To be inspired by charity and service
To take bath before taking the kanwar
To recite Bam – Bam
Not to use oil and soap
Not to wear shoes
Not to take any article made of leather
To avoid dogs. (dogs should not be touched)

Pilgrims to the temple later visit the Basukinath temple.

Where to stay and how to reach: Lot of hotels and dharamshalas are available in Deoghar. During the month of Jul-Aug, there is great rush, so this is advisable to book prior to your journey. Closest railway station is Jasidih, which is on howrah main line. Nearest airport is Ranchi/ Patna.