Monthly Archives: October 2012

Weapon Catalogue – from Indian mythology (1)

Weapon catalogue from Indian mythology

The range of weapons described in ancient texts is overwhelming. If we see closely, we will find many of the weapons from mythological stories, Mahabharat and The Ramayna, we discover that the warfare technologies were very much advanced.

Name of the weapon

Effect and usage

Associated with

Brahma Danda

It contained the spiritual powers of the 7 greatest sages (Sapta Rishis).. It contained the spiritual power of the 7 greatest sages of Hinduism – Bhrigu, Agastya, Jamadagni, Vasistha, Bharadwaja, Gautama and Kashyapa. This astra is the most powerful weapon of Lord Brahma. Drona used this on 15th day of Mahabharat war and nobody knew to counter this weapon. Pandavas had to resort to other means to counter this great warrior. Sage Vasistha given this weapon to Drona. Drona used Brahmadanda for the first time in the Mahabharat war.

Weapon of Seven Sages, The Sapta Rishis.

Aindra astra or Indra astra

Would bring about a shower of arrows from the sky.

Indra, the god of weather

Agneya astra

The weapon discharged would emit flames inextinguishable through normal means. Shishupala used this against Krishna which he had neutralized with Varun astra.

Agni, the god of fire

Varuna astra

The weapon discharged would release torrential volumes of water. This weapon is commonly mentioned as used to counter the Agneyastra.

Varuna, the god of water

Sammohana/ Pramohana astra

Would cause entire hosts/armies to collapse in a trance. Drona used on fourteenth day of Mahabharat to capture Yudhishthira, but Sahdev saved him.

Twashtar astra

Created illusion so that friends mistake each other for enemies and fight each other. Twashtar or Twashtri, is the architect employed by Indra, who later came to be known as Viswakarma and who built the celestial cities. The use of this weapon is not found. This is similar to Gandharva astra.

Twashtri, the heavenly builder

Mohini astra

Dispel any form of maya or sorcery in the vicinity.

Mohini, Visnu avatar

Surya astra

Create a dazzling light that would dispel any darkness about.

Surya, the sun god

Vayu astra

Bring about a gale capable of lifting armies off the ground.

Vayu, the god of wind

 

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Weapon catalogue – Indian mythology (3)

Weapon catalogue from Indian mythology

In this article, details of Vaishnava astra, Gandharva astra, Manava, Maheshwar, Kuber weapons are given.

Name of the weapon

Effect and usage

Associated with

Vaishnava astra

destroys target completely, irrespective of target’s nature. Would Infallible. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly.

Vishnu, the Preserver

Gandharvastra

Used by Lord Rama against Ravana’s army. Also used by Abhimanyu in Mahabharat against kauravas.

Manava

Used by Lord Rama to kill Maricha.

Manu

Maheshwar

Used by Laskhman against Meghnaad.

Yamastra

Has been used by Meghnaad against Lakshman and Shishupala against Shri Krishna.

Shakti

Used by Meghnaad against Lakshman this caused his unconsciousness. Due to this weapon, Hanuman had to bring the whole mountain of sanjeevani booti. The physician who cured Lakshman was Sushena.

Pinaka

was the divine bow of Lord Shiva gifted to King Janaka by Sage Parashurama for safe-keeping while the sage performed penances. It was gifted to Parashurama by Shiva for being a great disciple.

Lord Shiva

Sammohanastra

Used by Arjuna in Mahabharat against Kauravas.

Samvarta

Rama passed on to Bharat. Three crores gandharvas were killed instantly by this.

Vishamitra taught Rama

Kuber astra

Shishupala and Shri Krishna used this during their battle in Mahabharat

Kuber, the god of wealth

Rudra astra

Used in the dual of Shishupal and Shri Krishna in mahabharat

Shiva

Sudarshan Chakra

Sudarshana Chakra: The magical chakra, a spinning disc with sharp outer spears. The Sudarshan flies at the command of Vishnu, spinning away to tear off the heads of His opponents, or to perform any function desired by Vishnu. It was most famously used by His Avatar Krishna in the Mahabharata. Shri Krishna cut Shishupala’s head with this weapon.

Sudarshan chakra

Sudarshan chakra

Krishna, one of the Dashavtar’s of Vishnu.

 

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Herbs – Camomile

Important herbs – Camomile (Chamomile)

Chamomile is one of the oldest known medicinal herbs. There are two types of chamomile -German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) and Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis).

History

The Egyptians used chamomile as a cure for a condition called ‘agu’, which is a form of malaria. The Egyptians dedicated chamomile to their sun gods since the flower reminded them of the sun. It was associated with the god Ra for its healing powers.
The Romans also dedicated chamomile to their gods. Chamomile was also used by India’s ancient Ayurvedic physicians. The Vikings added chamomile to hair shampoos to aid the lightening of blond hair.
Chamomile was used by the ancient Egyptians and the Moors, and it was one of the Saxons’ nine sacred herbs, which they called ‘Maythen.’

Egyptians recorded the use of chamomile tea, in a papyrus that dates from 1550 BC. It was known to the Romans as well as the Celts and Egyptians, and is still regarded as one of the most basic herbal teas to have in a modern larder.

Why to have a herbal garden?

The idea of herbal garden is to have small plants or herbs, which have medicinal values. We do not require lots of spaces to nurture herbal plants and the advantage is twofold, we get some greenery around us, and are more likely to be benefited from these as these are readily available and we are not required to make extra effort to obtain these.  Best thing which I like about herbs is that they don’t have any expiration date like any other medicine and also they have no side effects. I will be detailing about more herbs later in my posts, following is some information on Camomile:

Properties and uses of Camomile

– It has a sweet fruity fragrance.
– It is widely used for aromatherapy because of its soothing and calming effect.
– It is used to end stress and aid sleep.
– It can also be used in toothache or ear ache.
– Effective in treatment of diarrhoea for children.
– It is used in cardiovascular conditions.
– Effective in Eczema.
A cup of chamomile tea can calm nervous tension and relieve stress. It soothes an upset stomach in adults and children, and its mild sweet taste and beneficial qualities make it ever popular. Also, this is found to be effective in common cold. This herb is traditionally used in over 100 conditions.

Festivals of world – Chinese festivals (2)

Chinese festivals

The Dragon boat or Duanwu festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunisolar chinese calendar. Because of this, it has the alternative name of Double fifth. Three of the most widespread activities for Duanwu Festival are eating (and preparing) zongzi, drinking realgar wine, and racing dragon boats. The food may have originally represented an offering to the dragon king, while dragon boat racing naturally reflects reverence of the dragon and the active yang energy associated with it.

Dragon boat or Double fifth

Double Seventh falls on the seventh day of seventh month as per the lunar solar calendar. This festival is also known as Qixi or “The night of sevems”.  Girls traditionally demonstrate their domestic arts, especially melon carving, on this day and make wishes for a good husband. There is a interesting love story behind this tradition and this is a romantic festival as well.

Double seventh

Mid Autumn also known as the Moon Festival. Sometimes known as Mooncake or Zhongqiu Festival. This  is celebrated in the month of September-October. This festival is strongly associated with the legend of Houyi, his student Feng Meng, and Chang’e. The customs around this festival include eating mooncakes, fire Dragon dances and burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang’e. This is celebrated in various forms in other countries such as Vietnam, Korea, etc.

Mooncake

Double Ninth is potentially a dangerous date as per the chinese beliefs. To protect against the danger, rituals are undertaken. Climbing a high mountain or drink chrysanthemum wine are part of the rituals. The festival is based on the theory of Yin and Yang, the two opposing principles in nature. Yin is feminine, negative principle, while Yang is masculine and positive. In ancient times people believed that all natural phenomena could be explained by this theory. Numbers were also related to this theory. Even numbers belonged to Yin and odd numbers to Yang. The ninth day of the ninth lunar month is a day when the two Yang numbers meet. So it is called Chong Yang. Chong means double in Chinese. Chong Yang has been an important festival since ancient times.

Double Nine

Double Nine

Winter Solstice festival or Dongzhi Festival is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Chinese. This is celebrated around last week of December and family get together s happen during this period. This festival also marks the eating of Tangyuan. Tangyuan is made of glutinuous rice flour and sometimes it is brightly coloured.

The festival of nine emperor- it is believed that there will be rain throughout the nine days of festival. The ninth day  is its climax. A procession which draws scores of devotees send the deities back home. This is a popular folk culture of china.  In india, the Navratri, followed by Dusshera is also celebrated across nine days.

Nine emperor

Festivals of world – Chinese festivals (1)

Chinese festivals

Spring festival is the most inportant traditional chinese festival. The spring festival is the Chinese new year. The origin of this festival is centuries old. A number of myths and traditions underline the significance of this Chinese new year. This marks the end of winter and lasts for 15 day. The 15th day is the Lantern festival.

Chinese spring festival

The Lantern festival is also known as Yuanxiao or Shangyuan Festival. This is the last day of Chinese new year celebrations. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns. They also solve riddles on the lanterns. In Singapore, a festival with the same name is celebrated, but different from the one which chinese celebrate.  The lanterns were fairly simple in ancient times. Nowadays, lanterns have been being embellished with many complex designs. They are often made in shapes of animals. The lanterns symbolizes the people letting go of their past selves and getting a new one, which they will let go of the next year.  It is also said that this is observed to worship Taiyi, the god of heaven.

Qingming denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime. This falls in the month of april. Chinese people visit the graves or burial grounds of their ancestors. This tradition stretches back to more than 2,500 years. A popular thing to do is to fly kites. These kites are in the shapes of animals or characters from Chinese opera.

Qingming or Tomb sweeping day festival

This festival holiday has a significance in the Chinese tea culture. This specific day divides the fresh green teas by their picking dates. Green teas made from leaves picked before this date are given the prestigious ‘pre-qingming’ designation which commands a much higher price tag.

Kite flying on Qingming

Seven people responsible for Karna death

People behind death of Danveer Karna

Following seven incidents were the reason for demise of Karna. Though we remember him as Danveer Karna, but if we see the following incidents, we would realize that perhaps this was the reason of his not getting his due in Indian history.
1. Parshurama’s curse – Parshurama has cursed him so that he would not use the brahmastra weapon when he would need it most. So Karna would not be able to use this weapon at the most critical time. How would he expect to win the battle against Arjuna with this curse?
2. Brahmin’s curse – A Brahmin has cursed him that his wheels of chariot will be stuck in the ground. During Mahabharat war, when fighting with Arjuna, this thing happened. This caused him to step down from his chariot. Ramdhari Singh Dinkar has summarised this well in Rashmirathi.
“Jara si keech mein syandan phansa hai”

Above line and lines followed aptly describes the frustration. How a small mass of soft earth has held Karna’s chariot.

3. Indra’s manipulation – Confident of Karna’s charitable character, Indra approached him in the guise of a brahmin and asked for alms. Karna agreed to give him whatever he wanted. Indra asked for Kavach and Kundal to which Danveer Karna obliged. Ashamed of his activity Indra awarded him with Shakti. This weapon had the power to complete its task. The only caveat was that this could be used only once. Karna saved this for Arjuna. But Ghatotkacha, Bhima’s son, was creating havoc on Kaurava’s army. Upon the insistence of Duryodhana, karna has to use Shakti, thus saving Arjuna’s life.
4. Karna’s promise to Kunti – Kunti told Karna about his birth story before the Mahabharat war. She wanted him to fight the Mahabharat from Pandava’s side. Karna was the true friend of Duryodhana. He denied this request. Instead he gave a promise to Kunti. If there would be situation where I am able to kill any of the Pandavas, I would not do so except for Arjuna. In this way, Kunti will always have five sons.
 
Karna and Kunti

Karna and Kunti

5. Shalya’s reluctance towards Karna – Shalya, the charioteer of Karna never wanted to be on kaurava’s side. He never supported Karna during the Mahabharat war. Imagine this, how it is difficult when your navigator is not your side. On the other side, Shri Krishna was there to guide Arjuna.
6. Shri Krishna asking Karna for his righteousness : All over his life, Karna was the person, who was rightful. Despite all of the above reasons, Arjuna was not able to defeat him. Shri Krishna explained the reason to him. Goddess of rigtheousness was protecting Karna. How to defeat him because weapons were turning into garlands. Shri Krishna went to him as a Brahmin and asked Karna to gift his rigtheousness. Karna again, readily agreed and obliged Arjuna charioteer. Pleased of this, Krishna shown him his vishwaroopa. Shri Krishna also granted him a boon. Because of this, he was cremated on Shri Krishna’s hand.
7. Arjuna killing when he was not on the chariot: On advise of Shri Krishna, against the rules of the war, Arjuna beheaded Karna with the weapon anjalika. This  happened when Karna was trying to take out the wheel of the chariot from the ground. This is how, the great archer, the great danveer, met his death.
Perhaps destiny has to do more here rather than the capability. unfortunately he was fighting the war from the wrong side. Nevertheless he has got the everlasting fame.

Nine forms of Durga with pictures (Navratri)

Nine forms of Maa Durga (Navratri, Navdurga)

During Navratri, Maa Durga is worshipped in nine forms. Following forms have their own significance.

Killing of Madhu and Kaitabh

Story of Mahishasur Mardini

An interesting comparison of Greek Mythology and Maa Durga

Shailputri

 

Read more on Shailputri

Shailputri - Durga goddess first form - Navaratri

Shailputri – Durga goddess first form – Navaratri

ShailputriShailaputri literally means the daughter (putri) of the mountains (shaila). Variously known as Sati Bhavani, Parvati or Hemavati, the daughter of Hemavana – the king of the Himalayas, she is the first among Navadurgas. Her worship takes place on the first day of Navratri– the nine divine nights. The embodiment of the power of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.She rides a bull and carries a Trident and a lotus in her two hands.

Brahmacharini

 

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Durga – Brahmacharini – Navaratri

The second day of navratri or dwitiya day of shukla paksha of ashwin month is considered for the worship of maa Brahmacharini. on this day,the moon is in Chitra Nakshtra. Brahma that is who observes penance(tapa) and good conduct. Here “Brahma” means “Tapa”. The idol of this Goddess is very gorgeous. There is rosary in her right hand and Kamandal in left hand.

Brahmacharini

Brahmacharini

Chandraghanta

A bell shaped mark of moon which is present on the fore head of Maa Chandraghanta, because of this Maa is known as Chandraghanta.

Read more on Maa Chandraghanta

Chandraghanta – Durga Maata

The colour of her body is golden, she rides on lion who descrides “dharma”, possesses ten hands and three eyes, eight of Her hands display weapons while the remaining two are respectively in the mudras of gestures of boon giving and stopping harm. She is worshipped on third day of Navratri.

Chandraghanta

Chandraghanta

Kushmanda

May Kushmanda Ma Durga who holds two pitchers full of blood in her lotus hands and the universe is created, sustained and drawn within Devi’s ownself. In this form Mother Durga creates solar system by liberating her power to Lord Sun.

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Kushmanda – Durga goddess form – Navratri

Kushmanda Devi

Kushmanda Devi

Skandmata

Skandmata – Navdurga (Navratri story)

As Mother of Skanda or Kartikeya, Maa Parvati or Maa Durga is known as Skandmata. Skanda is seated in her lap. She has three eyes and four hands. She is white and seated on a lotus. Legend has it that once a great demon Tarakasur did extreme penance and pleased Brahmaji. He wanted a boon to become immortal. Brahmaji said whosoever has come to this world, has to leave too, so ask for something else. Tarkasur was very clever. He said that whenever I die, the death should be at the hands of son of Lord Shiva. The boon was granted.

 

Skandmata

Skandmata

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Tarkasur thought Lord Shiva will never get married, so there would be no son and he would never die.Tarkasur considering himself to be invincible started tormenting the world. All the devtas went before Lord Shiva and asked his help. They requested him to get married. Shankarji was reluctant but at last he agreed. After taking human form, he got married to Parvati. She gave birth to Kartikeya or Skandkumar who later killed Tarkasur. She is worshipped on fifth day of Navratri.

Katyayani

Katyayani – Navdurga

katyayani

According to ancient legends, she was born a daughter of Katyayan Rishi, born in the Katya lineage, thus called Katyayani, “daughter of Katyayan” . Elsewhere in texts like the Kalika Purana, it is mentioned that it was Rishi Kaytyayan who first worshipped her, hence she came to known as ‘Katyayani. In either case, she is a demonstration or apparition of the Durga, and is worshipped on the sixth day of Navratri festival. The Katyayani vrata is observed and it is said that maidens who observe this vrata, are blessed with the husband of their choice.

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Kaalratri

Kaalratri – Navdurga

Kalratri

Kalratri

This form of Maa has a dark complexion, disheveled hair and a fearlessness posture. A necklace flashing lightning adorns her neck. She has three eyes that shine bright and terrible flames emanate from her breath. Her vehicle is the donkey. Her raised right hand always seems to grant boons to all worshippers and all her right lower hand is in the pose of allaying fears. Her left upper hand holds a thorn-like weapon, made of iron and there is a dragger in the lower left hand. She is black like Goddess Kali and holds a sparkling sword in her right hand battle all evil. Her gesture of protection assures us of freedom from fear and troubles. So she is also known as ‘Shubhamkari’ – one who does good.

Mahagauri

Mahagauri – navdurga

Maha Gauri is intelligent, peaceful and calm. Due to her long austerities in the deep forests of the Himalayas, she developed a dark complexion. When Lord Shiva cleaned her with the water of the Ganges, her body regained its beauty and she came to be known as Maha Gauri, which mean extremely white.

She wears white clothes, has four arms, and rides on a bull. Her right hand is in the pose of allaying fear and her right lower hand holds a trident. The left upper hand holds a ‘damru’ (a small rattle drum) and the lower one is in the pose of granting boons to her devotees. She is worshipped on eighth day of Navratri.

Mahagauri

Mahagauri

Siddhidatri

Siddhidatri

Maa Siddhidatri is the ninth form of Goddess Durga worshiped in Navratri. The last among the nine forms of Maa Shakti is Goddess Siddhidatri who is worshiped on the ninth or final day of Navratri. ‘Siddhi’ is a Sanskrit term which means ‘perfection’. Goddess Siddhidatri has four arms. She holds a Chakra in her right lower hand and a mace in the upper. In the left lower hand there is a conch and in her upper left hand a lotus flower. She is seated on a lotus flower with the lion as her mount.