Monthly Archives: November 2012

Madhubani paintings and Indian mythology (in pictures)

Madhubani painting – a folk art form

Madhubani painting is a popular folk art form from India. This folk art form is originated in a small town of bihar, India and gained popularity. The subject is often nature, hindu gods and mythological stories. Let u shave a look at some of them.


The following pic narrates the story of Ganesha and how he got his elephant head.

Ganesha getting an elephant head – Madhubani Painting

Dashavataras in madhubani paintaings

Following picture tells about the dashavataras, ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Dashavatara – Ten incarnations of Vishnu through Madhubani painting

 Navadurga’s nine forms

Goddess durga’s nine forms are shown in the following madhubani painting.

Nine forms of Durga (Shakti) – Madhubani painting

Ravana and Sita

Ravana threatening Sita in ashok vatika is narrated here. On the tree, hanuman is observing this incident. They are surrounded by demons

Ravana threatens Sita at Ashok Vatika in Lanka (The Ramayana)

 Ardhnarishwar or Ardhnarishvar

Ardhnarishwar represents Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati, in a single form. This is also believed to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The Matasya Purana describes how Brahma, pleased with a penance performed by Parvati, rewards her by blessing her with a golden complexion. This renders her more attractive to Shiva, to whom she later merges as one half of his body

Ardhnarishwar – Shiva’s form

Rama and Sita swayamvar

Following is a scene from the Ramayana, depicting swayamvar of Rama and Sita.

Lord Rama and Sita

 Shri Krishna and Radha

Life of Shri Krishna and Radha is also depicted by Madhubani paintings. Following is an example.

Shri Krishna and Radha

 Mahakali – a form of Shakti

Mahakali is a consort of Lord Shiva and represent Adi Shakti, the primeval force of this universe. Her most common four armed iconographic image shows each hand carrying variously a sword, a trishul (trident), a severed head and a bowl or skull-cup (kapala) catching the blood of the severed head.

Mahakali – Madhubani paintings

Putna vadh

Putna was employed by Kansa to kill the child Krishna. But Shri Krishna killed the demoness.

Putna vadh

Lanka Dahan

Hanuman burned lanka when he went to search for Sita. He then went back to Kishkindha.

Hanuman destroying Lanka


Following painting depicts the infamous incident of Draupadi Cheerharan. The main protagonists were Duryodhana and Dushashana, who  had to pay dearly for their misconduct. They had to part with their lives. The pic shows the game of dice being played and Pandavas are helpless.

Draupadi cheerharan - Madhubani PaintingDraupadi cheerharan - Madhubani Painting

Draupadi cheerharan – Madhubani Painting



Seven great warriors and how they died in mahabharata – in pictures

Death of various great warriors in Mahabharata war


Mahabharata was was fought over for eighteen days. The major part saw the prowess of Bhishma. He was on the verge of decimating pandavas army single-handedly, before Shikhandi came to the rescue of Pandavas. Following is a brief on how the great warriors were neutralized and killed.

End of Duryodhana

Bhima vowed that he would avenge Draupadi’s insult by breaking his thighs. Also, due to a boon from Gandhari, his body became invulnerable except for thighs. During his duel with Duryodhana in mahabharata war, Bhima broke Duryodhana’s thighs. Balrama fiercely protested but calmed by Krishna.

Bhima killed all the Kaurava’s, most notable of those were of Duryodhana’s and Dushashana’s.

Duel between Bhima and Duryodhana


Duryodhana killed by Bhima in Mahabharata

Drona’s Death

Drona was proving too much for the pandava’s army on the fifteenth day of the mahabharata war. In a desperate bid  to be saved from the onslaught, they resorted to some less than wanted tactic. On advise of Shri Krishna, Bhima claimed that his son, Ashwaththama is slain. Drona clarified this from Yudhishthira and went into meditation. He was killed by Dhrishtdyumna, son of Drupad.

Dhrishtdyumna killing Drona (The Teacher) in the battle of Mahabharat

Dhrishtdyumna killing Drona (The teacher of princes) in the battle of Mahabharat

End of Bhishma

Bhishma was the son of Shantanu and Ganges. He was the supreme commander of Kauravas in the mahabharata war. He himself let pandavas know the secret of his downfall. Otherwise, he was proving to be too much for pandavas and got Sri Krishna agitated as well.

Bhishma falling in kurukshetra battle field


Bhishma leaving his body in presence of Shri Krishna

Abhimanyu’s unjust killing

Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra and was a great warrior. His unjust killing in mahabarata led to the killing of Kauravas.

Abhimanyu trapped in chakravyuha

Only Abhimanyu had the knowledge of penetrating a chakravyuha. Drona plans a chakravyuha to capture Yudhishthira, but Abhimanyu was there for his rescue. But the boy did not know how to come out of that and though he was surrounded by all warriors including Duryodhana, Karna and others, yet he was proving difficult to overcome. At last, against the rules of war, he was killed by son of Dushashana after a mace fight.

Abhimanyu - Mahabharat war

Abhimanyu fought valiantly

Abhimanyu killed by Dushashana’s son on thirteenth day of Mahabharata war.

Karna – a death due to curses

In the war of kurukshetra, Karna’s chariot got stuck in the mud. He was unable to fight due to a curse from his teacher, Parshurama.

Karna chariot stuck in mud

Arjuna killed him with the weapon anjalika while he was trying to retrieve the wheel. At this point of time, he was sans any weapon, which was against the rules of the war.

Arjuna kills Karna

Dushashana for his wrongdoing

During Draupadi’s cheerharan, Dushashan dragged her in the courtroom by holding her hair. Draupadi vowed that she would not tie her hair until they are wet with the blood of Dushashan heart. She asked Bhim to bring the blood of Dushashana after killing him. Bhima obliged.

Dushashan dragging Draupadi in courtroom


Dushashana and Bhima

Jayadratha by Arjuna – Shri Krishna’s masterstroke

Jayadrath was Duryodhana’s brother in law. He was once insulted by Pandavas when he tried to abduct Draupadi. After severe penance, he obtained a boon from Lord Shiva. Due to this, he became the reason of Abhimanyu’s death. Arjuna vowed and killed him on the next day of the war. Of course, with help of Shri Krishna.

Jayadratha killed by Arjuna



Seven supreme sacrifices from Indian mythology

Supreme sacrifices from Indian Mythology

We come across unparalleled sacrifices in Indian mythology. Here are seven of them which are the most remarkable.

The sacrifice of sage Dadhichi

Sage Dadhichi has done the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life so that Devas finally got an upper hand over asuras. Because of his sacrifice, Indra got his famous weapon Vajra. This weapon was made from the bones of sage Dadhichi.

Vajra – the weapon of Indra

Once, Vritrasur, a powerful demon, wanted to conquer heaven. He fought with the gods and swallowed all their weapons. The gods went for help to Lord Vishnu. He said , the weapon made of sage Dadhichi bones can kill Vritasur. As the sage is my devotee, he should not be killed. You will have to request him to die to give his bones. Gods, led by Indra, went to Dhadichi and begged for his bones.

Indra requesting Dadhi for his bones

Dadhichi was ready to sacrifice his, but he wanted to go on a pilgrimage before that. Hearing this, Indra brought all the holy places near him. After taking dips in the holy waters, Dhadichi gave up his life. Indra made a weapon called Vajra with his bones and killed Vritrasur. This same vajra was used on Hanuman by Indra.

Sacrifice of Bhishma

Devvrata, son of Ganga and Shantanu, pledged to remain bachelor all through his life. This was because Shantanu could marry Satyavati since her gather was sceptical that Satyavati’s sons would not get the ascendancy to the throne. Hearing this, Bhishma vowed that he will remain unmarried. Due to this, he is called Bhishma and his oath is called as Bhishma Pratigya.


Bhishma taking oath for being unmarried – Bhishma Pratigya

Puru’s sacrifice for his father Yayati

Bhishma was not the only son who sacrificed for his father. Puru, son of Yayati, made a similar sacrifice by exchanging his youth with his fathers’ old age. As it happened that Yayati was cursed by Shukracharya to lose his youth. He later diluted the curse that Yayati could exchange his old age with someone’s youth.

Shukracharya curse to Yayati


Karna forgone the throne of Hastinapur when Kunti offered to him before the war of mahabharata. Karna also promised that Kunti will always have five sons. Due to his promise, he did not kill four pandavas, though he had a chance to do so. He also sacrificed his kavach and kundal to Indra.

Karna parting with kavach and kundal

The sacrifice of Abhimanyu

Abhimanyu, Arjuna’s son literally opened the flood gates for killing of Kauravas with not so desired methods. Abhimanyu was killed in after he was trapped in Chakravyuha formation when he was fighting alone with all the veterans in Kaurava’s army. Shri Krishna leveraged this fact in killing of Drona and other warriors.

Abhimanyu killed by Laxman (Duryodhan’s son) on thirteenth day of Mahabharata war.

The sacrifice of Barbari

Barbari, son of Ghatotkach, grand son of Bhima was mightier than both pandavas and kauravas alone. Shri Krishna asked him for his head before the war of Mahabharata. This was because, due to a vow taken by Barbari, there was a possibility that he would have destroyed all the warriors from both armies.

Barbari sacrificing his life as a true warrior to Shri Krishna in mahabharat

The sacrifice of Eklavya

Eklavya gave away the lone ambition of his life, to his teacher, Drona. This was probably the unparalleled sacrifice. A pupil, sacrificing everything to the teacher, who did not accept him as his pupil. What he gave? The right thumb, which is foremost important in archery.

The Ramayana story in pictures – Kishkindha kand (4)

Kishkindha kand from The Ramayana

Searching for Sita, Rama and Laxman Shabri’s ashram. Shabri offers fruits which have been tested by her so the Lord does not get a bitter fruit.

Shabri and Rama

Shabri advises them to go further southwards to Pampa lake and to Kishkindha where they would get help.

Shabri advises Rama to go towards Kishkindha

On Shabri’s advise, Rama reached Kishkindha while looking for Sita. Sugriva was sceptical of the two brothers and he asked Hanuman to assess their intentions. Hanuman disguised himself as a brahmin but Rama identified him due to his chain around the neck.

Hanuman in the guise of brahmana, but Rama identifies him

Hanuman fell upon his feet.

Hanuman and Rama



He showed them the ornaments and jewels which were thrown by Sita while she was abducted. Rama recognises them of Sita’s.

Hanuman took them to Sugriva. Sugriva was driven out by Vali.  Vali also took Sugriva’s wife. Rama befriended Sugriva. Rama promised to help him.

Ram reached Sugriva


Vali had a boon which made him unconquerable. Sugriva promised that he will help in finding Sita. Ram asks Sugriva to invite Vali for a fight. He also asked him to wear a garland because both brothers looked identical.

Battle between Vali and Sugriva

Rama kills Vali by piercing an arrow through his heart

Vali accuses Rama of wrongdoing. Rama explains that he has committed the crime of abducting his brother’s wife. And Kishkindha, a state of Bharat’s kingdom, lies in his jurisdiction. His crime was unforgiveable, so he had to execute this task of killing him.

It is said that Rama promised Vali to give him a chance to avenge his unjust murder. Vali is believed to be born as Jara, the hunter, who became the cause of Shri Krishna’s death.

Vali humbled by Rama

Vali understood and Rama forgives him.

Tara (Vali’s wife) is inconsolable. Tara invokes the power of her chastity and curses Rama so that he will soon lose Sita after he regains her. She declares that Sita will return to the earth. Tara additionally curses Rama that in his next birth, he will be killed by Vali. Rama pacifies her.


Tara and Ram – The Ramayana story

Sugriva crowned as king. Angad (Vali’s son) was anointed as the heir.

Sugriva made king of Kishkindha

Rama also taught him nuances of statesmanship.

Rama anointed Sugriva as king of Kishkindha

He advised Sugreev to rule justly. Then Sri Rama along with Laxmana went to live at Pravarshan Mountain.

Ram and Laxman leaving from Kishkindha to caves

Few months passed. Sugriva forgot his promise. Rama gets restless and advises Laxman to visit Kishkindha.

Laxman threatens to destroy Kishkindha after Sugriva did not keep his promise.

Tara asks Sugriva to help Rama and Laxman.

Tara advises Sugriva to help Laxman

Sugriva instructed Hanumana to send the messenger in all directions and to bring the news of Sita within fifteen days. Angad told sugriva that Hanuman can only find Sita. Sugriva asks Hanuman to search. Hanumana then gathered all the monkeys and went to Sri Rama to seek his permission.

Hanuman, Ram and Laxman

Rama blessed them for successful accomplishment of their mission. He also gave his ring to Hanumana.

Rama giving ring to Hanuman

Now Hanuman and his army of monkeys moved in search of Sita.  They searched Sita in the caves of every mountain but did not find her.

Vanara searching Sita

Jambvant consoled Angad saying that Rama was not an ordinary human being. He also said him not to worry, as everything would be resolved by Sri Rama’s blessings.

They reach seashore. At the seashore Sampati ( brother of Jatayu) bumped into Hanuman. He told him about Sita and she is in Lanka.

Sampati tells about Sita whereabouts

When Jambvant saw that there was nobody who could cross over the ocean, he praised and urged Hanumana  to cross the ocean. Hanuman had a curse that he would only realize his strength and capabilities when told by someone.

Jambvant urges Hanuman go to Lanka.

Jambvant praises Hanuman


When Hanumana listened to Jambvant he realized his latent strength. His body expanded like a mountain. Hanumana then sought Jambvant advice.

Hanuman taking viraat roopa (form)

Jambvant instructed him to just return back after seeing Sita in Lanka. He said that the rest would be accomplished by Sri Rama.

Hanuman departing for Lanka in search of Sita



Weapon catalogue – Indian mythology (2)

Weapon catalogue from Indian mythology

Following on from earlier article, here various weapons used are narrated here.

Name of the weapon

Effect and usage

Associated with

Naga paasha

This weapon is a trap made of million snakes. This would bind the target in coils of living venomous snakes. In the Ramayana, it was used against Lord Rama and Lakshmana by Indrajit. Garud freed the two brothers after Hanuman intervened.

The Nagas

Naga astra

The weapon would have an un-erring aim and take on the form of a snake, proving deadly upon impact.Karna used once in Mahabharat on Arjuna, but it missed its mark. Due to a promise made to Kunti, he did not use this again.

The Nagas

Vajra astra

Target would be struck with bolts of lightning (vajra referring to Indra’s thunderbolt). Indra used this on Hanuman when he wanted to swallow Sun.


Parvata astra

Would cause a Parvata/mountain to fall on the target from the skies.

Brahma astra

Would destroy entire hosts at once. Could also counter most other astras. Used by Indrajit on Hanuman, but due to a boon from Brahma, Hanuman escaped from this.

Brahma, the Creator

Brahmasirsha astra

Capable of killing devas. Was used by Ashwatthama on Parikshit

Brahma, the Creator

Narayana astra

Would create showers of arrows and discs. The astra’s power would increase with the resistance offered to it. This weapon had to be obtained from Vishnu directly, and could be used only once.

Vishnu, the Preserver

Amoghastra, Vasavi Shakti

Indra gave this to Karna in before the battle of mahabharat. He was ashamed by Karna’s generosity, when he has given him Kavach and Kundal in alms. Vasavi Shakti: The magical dart weapon of Indra, unfailing at executing its target. Indra granted it to Karna during the Kurukshetra war. The Mahabharata also refers to it as the Amoghastra.

Indra, the god of weather

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Interesting story of birth of Lord Ganesha and duel with Shiva

Birth of Lord Ganesha

The birth of Lord Ganesha birth can be regarded as interesting as any story could be. Ganesha was born unknown to Lord Shiva. Goddess Parvati needed someone to guard the chambers while she was taking bath. It happened in the past that Shiva devotee allowed him access when she did not want this to happen. So, She made a figure with turmeric paste and put life into it. Then she asked the boy, Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house. Ganesha followed his mother’s orders to the word and did not allow Shiva any access to the house.

Birth of Lord Ganesha depicted in Madhubani paintain

Note: Madhubani painting is popular folk art form.

Shiva got angry and asked his followers to attack the boy. But they were conquered. Shiva got surprised. Realizing that this was no ordinary boy, Shiva decided to fight himself, and in his divine fury cut Ganesha’s head, killing him quickly. When Parvati came to know of this, she was so angry that she decided to destroy the whole universe. But Lord Brahma pleaded that she reconsider her intent. She said she would if two conditions were met: One, that Ganesha be brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods.

Brahma also suggested that he replace Ganesha’s head with the first living being that came his way with its head facing north. Shiva then sent his followers to bring the head of a creature they happened to find sleeping with its head facing north. They found a dying elephant which slept in this manner, and after its death took its head. Shiva attached the elephant’s head to Ganesha’s body and brought him back to life. Ganesha is worshipped by everyone before beginning any puja.

There are other stories which not as popular as the above:

Lord Ganesha and Shani

Another less popular story of lord Ganesha’s birth as written in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana. Eager to have a son, Parvati decided that she would keep a year-long fast to appease lord Vishnu. At the end of her fast lord Vishnu was duly appeased and gave her the boon of a son. In some stories, the son is a reincarnation of lord Krishna, another prominent Hindu deity.

On the joyous occasion of the birth of their son, whom they named Ganesha, Shiva and Parvati invited all the gods to their abode in Mount Kailash to look upon the baby. While all the gods bestowed the young lord Ganesha with gifts, there was one god who refused to look at the child.

This was the god Shani, son of the god Surya. The gaze of Shani is said to cast a bad omen on which it is directed. So Shani had a very good reason to not look at Ganesha. But Parvati insisted that Shani must look at the face of his ‘nephew’. Very reluctantly, Shani finally agreed and cast a quick look towards the young lord Ganesha. Almost immediately the child’s head fell off, in some stories it turns to ashes.

Parvati was devastated and it was lord Vishnu who came to her rescue. In one quick movement, he had mounted his vahana and had gone to fetch a replacement head. Returning with the head of a young elephant he had found of the banks of a river, lord Vishnu placed the head on the lifeless torso of the boy. The boy was brought back to life to the joy and utmost relief of both Shiva and Parvati. And so the naughty, fun loving god Ganesha was born.

Sage Kashyap’s curse

Yet another story mentions a completely different reason for the birth and subsequent replacement of Lord Ganesha’s head with that of a young elephant. But in this case the story starts a little differently. Aditya was one of the sons of the great sage Kashyapa, one of the seven great Rishi or sages. According to the story, Shiva, in a mistake, slew Aditya by cutting off his head. Kashyapa cursed the great lord Shiva that the same fate would befall the first born son of Shiva and when that happened, the child’s head would be replaced by the head of Indra’s elephant. And so, Ganesha, the elephant headed god was born.

In another twist to the same tale, when Shiva cut off the head of Aditya, He replaced it with Indra’s elephant’s head and brought him back to life. Kashyapa was very incensed by Shiva’s act and he put a curse on Shiva. According to the curse, the first born child of lord Shiva would be born with an elephant head. In the case of this particular story, Ganesha was already born with an elephant head unlike other stories where he acquires his elephant head later.

The story of Madhu and Kaitabh

Madhu and Kaitabh, Vishnu and Yog Nidra

At the beginning of universe, there was ocean all around. Vishnu lay on Sheshnag in deep slumber under the influence of Yog Nidra. While Vishnu slept a lotus stalk grew out of his navel. At the upper end of the stalk was a lotus flower. Brahma was born in the lotus flower and was in deep meditation at the time of his birth.  At the same time when Brahma was in deep meditation in the lotus flower reciting the Vedas, ear wax flowed out of both ears of Vishnu and  two Asuras known as Madhu and Kaitabh were born out of the ear wax.

Madhu and Kaitabh

There names are Madhu and Kaitabh. Both performed great penance for thousands of years. The Goddess was pleased with their devotion, appeared before them and granted them the boon that death would come to them only when they desired it. By the knowledge of their immense strength, both the asuras became arrogant. They attacked Brahma and stole away from him the four Vedas. Brahma though furious, was helpless in the before the Asuras. Hence he rushed in great consternation to Vishnu to seek his protection.

Vishnu, however, was in deep sleep under the influence of yog nidra and did not wake up inspite of the best efforts of Brahma. When Brahma realised that he could not wake up Vishnu in the normal course as he was sleeping under the influence of Yog Nidra. He then beseeched and praised ‘Yoga Nidra to help him awaken Vishnu. . The fervent prayers of Brahma pleased Yog Nidra. She took pity on Brahma’s plight and left Vishnu’s body. When yog nidra left lord Vishnu’s body, he woke up. Brahma told him about the malicious intent of Madhu and Kaitabh and requested him to destroy them. Thus Lord Vishnu engaged in a fierce and long battle with the two Asuras at the end of which he killed them.Both asuras have expressed the desire that they wanted to die at a place where nobody died before. Vishnu promptly killed them by mashing them on his thighs.

Madhu and Kaitabh. Brahma born from lotus.

In the episode of Madhu and Kaitabh, Goddess Durga has been portrayed as the ‘Yoga Nidra’ whose powerful influence renders even Lord Vishnu helpless.