Monthly Archives: July 2013

Clever Ganesha and Narada’s mango – Indian mythology

Ganesha, Kartikeya and Narada

Once, Narada took a mango to Lord Shiva and Parvati where the two sons of Lord were also present. He presented the mango to Parvati  and said that this mango is special and requested her  to accept the mango. Parvati intended to distribute the fruit between her two sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya equally, but sage Narada intervened and said that this fruit cannot be cut into two and can be consumed by a single person only.

Narada suggested to have a competition between the two brothers, and the winner of the contest will be awarded the mango. Kartikeya enquired about the competition and after much thought, Narada suggested – ‘Whoever goes around the world three times first will win the mango’. Both brothers agreed to the condition put forth by Narada.

Mango by Sage Narada

Mango by Sage Narada

 

Hearing this, Kartikeya got on to the peacock and went to go around the world. Ganesha did not have a peacock or anything else he could ride so he thought for a while. He then went around Shiva and Parvathi three times and went to claim his prize saying. ‘ My Parents are the world for me. I have won the competition.

The competition between two brothers

The competition between two brothers – Kartikeya and Ganesha

Ganesha further said that Lord Shiva and Parvati are the first couple and whole universe is created with them. When he circled them three times, it was equivalent to circling the world three times. Thus he claimed his prize and started to eat the mango. When Kartikeya came back duly circling the earth three times, he found clever Ganesha eating the mango.

When he learnt that his elder brother had got the fruit by his fast thinking instead of running around, he accepted his defeat. On the other hand, Ganesha had won the contest by virtue of using his superior intellect and Kartikeya had to accept defeat in his favour.

Bhasmasura and Mohini

Lord Vishnu’s eleventh avatar

 Lord Vishnu’s eleventh avatar

The dashavatara’s for Lord Vishnu are widely written and discussed, but there is one more aspect of Lord Vishnu, which has helped the gods. Perhaps, this is the reason, this aspect is not treated as an incarnation, because the dashavatars have helped human beings and this particular aspect has helped gods (or Devtaas).

You must be wondering what is being talked about. Time to do away with suspense. The name is Mohini. Yes, Indeed, the female form which Lord Vishnu have resorted a few times to save gods.

Churning of Ocean / Samudra Manthan

The first incident is during the churning of ocean. Many a things have been received from the ocean as a result of churning. Finally, Dhanvantari appeared with a pot of amrit, the heavenly nectar of immortality. This caused a great fight between Devas and Asuras.   To protect the nectar from Asuras, the divine Garuda took the pot, and flew away from the battle-scene.

While Garuda was in his flight over planet Earth, it is believed that four drops of nectar fell at four places – Prayag (Allahabad),Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. This legend is the basis for the belief that these places acquired a certain mystical power and spirituality. A Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four places every twelve years for this reason. People believe that after bathing there during the Kumbh mela, one can get the primeval heaven and moksha(sanskrit:mokṣha).

churning of ocean - Mohini

churning of ocean – Mohini

Lord Vishnu appeared as a beautiful woman mohini and enchanted the asuras. She got hold of the nectar and started to distribute to Devas while keeping the asuras emchanted. This was noticed by Rahu and he also got hold of the nectar. This was duly notified to Lord Vishnu by Sun and Moon, and Lord ensured that Rahu’s head was cut by his discus. Read the full story of Rahu and Ketu here.

Bhasmasura, Lord Shiva and Mohini

Bhasmasura was an asura, who was driven by ambition to be the most powerful Asura ever. He saw the other Asuras and decided that he would perform severe penance to win the favour of Lord Shiva and become powerful.
So Bhasmasura prayed for a long time. Shiva became pleased and asked him to ask for a boon. Bhasmasur asked for immortality, but Shiva said that he did not have the power to grant him immortality. He then asked – [quote]My Lord if I touch anybody’s head, they should be reduced to ashes[/quote]
Lord Shiva granted this wish and realized the mistake immediately, when Bhasmasura wanted to test the powers on lord itself. This resulted in Lord Shiva fleeing from the spot while Bhasmasura on his heels.
Bhasmasura and Mohini

Bhasmasura and Mohini

Eventually, Mohini came to rescue. She appeared as a beautiful woman and the demon could not take his eyes off her. Mohini invited him for a dance competition and surely enough, she put a hand on her head as a dance move. Bhasmasura follows, and turned to ashes immediately.

Other legends

Mohini is also known to have helped in killing of Virochana.  The wise asura king Virochana is rewarded a magical crown by the sun-god Surya. The crown shields him against all harm. Mohini enchants Virochana and steals his crown. The demon, thus unprotected, is killed by Vishnu.

Another legend about the demon Araka associates Mohini with Krishna rather than the god himself. The demon Araka had become virtually invincible because of extreme chastity. Krishna takes the form of the beautiful Mohini and marries him. After three days of marriage, Araka’s bonds of chastity are broken, and Krishna kills him in battle.

in Thai version of the Ramayana, the demon Nontok is charmed and killed by Mohini. Nontok misuses a divine weapon given to him by Shiva. Mohini mesmerized Nontok and then attacks him. In his dying moments, the demon Nontok accused Vishnu of foul play saying that Vishnu first seduced him and then attacked him. Vishnu decrees that in his next birth, Nontok will be born as the ten-armed demon Ravana and Vishnu will be a mortal man called Rama. He will then fight him and defeat him.

Festivals celebrated by Muslims

Muslim festivals

Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Zuha are the most important events observed by Muslims. Eid-ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and is a festival of great celebration. In Islamic countries it is a public holiday. The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky. Eid ul Fitr is very much a community festival and people go out into the streets to exchange greetings, and visit friends and relatives.

Eid-Ul-Zuha is the festival of sacrifice which marks the end of the Hajj or holy pilgrimage, which is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, however it is celebrated by all Muslims, not just those who are on the pilgrimage.

The Eid-Ul-Zuha festival remembers prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to. God appeared in a dream to Ibrahim and told him to sacrifice his son Isma’il. Ibrahim and Isma’il set off to Mina for the sacrifice. As they went, the devil attempted to persuade Ibrahim to disobey God and not to sacrifice his beloved son. Ibrahim drove the devil away. As Ibrahim prepared to kill his son God stopped him and gave him a sheep to sacrifice instead. Ibrahim’s complete submission to the will of God is celebrated by Muslims each year.

People may think that Muharram is also a festival. Muharram is  the name of the first month of the hijri(Lunar) calender. The first day of Muharram is also termd as Al-Hijra or “The Islamic New Year’s Day”.

Other notable festival is Shab-e-BaratShab e Baraat in India and Pakistan meaning the ‘Night of Innocence’. The 15th night of Shabaan is a very blessed night. In this night the Barkaat and acceptance of repentance may be accomplished. It is believed that the departed souls (Arwaah) of the Muslims visit the houses of their friends and relatives on this night.

shab-e-barat

Other noticeable festival is Milad-Un-Nabi.

Jyotirlinga – Mallikarjuna at Srisailam

Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga temple

 

Sri Mallikarjuna is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva which is a very important pilgrim site for Hindu devotees. This Jyotirlinga is situated on hills at a place called Srisailam and has got an interesting legend. This temple has the looks of a fort and has got sculptures on walls which sometimes gives illusion of an art gallery.

Legend

Once Lord Shiva and Parvati decided to find suitable bride for their sons. Ganesha and Kartikeya argued as to who is to get wedded first.

Lord Shiva decided that one who complete his journey round the world first will will get married first. By the time lord Kartikeya could go round the world on his vahana, Lord Ganesha went round his parents seven times. In shastra going round one’s parent is equivalent to going round the world .

Lord Ganesha got married to shiddhi and Buddhi. When Kartikeya came back from his journey and heard about Ganesha’s married this angered him and despite being consoled by his parents and other Gods he left for Krounch mountain.

Lord shiva and Parvati decided to goto krounch mountain, but when kartikeya came to know that his parents are coming he went further away .

Lord Shiva and Kartikeya

Lord Shiva and Kartikeya

Eventually, Lord Shiva assumed his the form on linga and resided there in a quest to be close to Kartikeya. Mallika means Parvati and Arjun is another name of Shiva.

It is believed that Shiva and Parvati visit this palce on Amavasya (No moon day) and (full Moon day) Poornima, respectively. Visiting this Jyotirlinga not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires.

Temple of Mallikarjuna

Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga

Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga

 

Mallikarjuna Shivlinga

Mallikarjuna Shivlinga

 

Bhramaramba Shrine

Located adjacent to the Mallikarjun Temple is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Jagdamba who is known as Bhramaramba here. The Bhramaramba shrine is considered to be of great significance. Legend has it that Durga is said to have assumed the shape of a bee and worshipped Shiva here, and chose this place as her abode. One can hear the buzzing of a bee through a tiny hole in the Brahmaramba temple, where Parvati, in the form of a bee, slayed the demon Mahisasura.

How to reach

Nearest airport is located at Hyderabad (175 km).

Nearest Railway stations: Markapur road, Ongole, Nandyal.

Hyderabad – Mahbubnagar (NH 7)- Srisailam temple / Ongole – Markapur – Srisailam temple / Gooty – Nandyal – Atmakur – Srisailam temple.

 

Shikhandi – The determined

Shikhandi – The determined

As we know, every character in the Mahabharata is found to be serving a purpose, for the fulfillment of bigger goal, victory of Truth over falsehood. Here we find a controversial character who ultimately became the cause of Bhishma’s downfall. But wait, we will find good reasons for that.
Shikhandi - Arjuna

Shikhandi – Arjuna

The unknown story of Shikhandi from Mahanharata

Shikandi is a character in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharat. The son of Drupada, he fought in the Kurukshetra war on the side of the Pandavas.

He had been born in an earlier lifetime as a woman named Amba, who was rejected by Bhishma for marriage. Feeling deeply humiliated and wanting revenge, Amba carried out great prayers and penance with the desire to be the cause of Bhishma’s death. She even went to Parshurama for help. There is another story that Parshurama and Bhishma fought for long periods, and Bhishma could not be defeated by his guru.

Amba then takes upon herself to kill Bhishma. She performs lots of penances. Pleased with this, Shiva grants her the boon that she will attain this goal in her next life. He elaborates that she will born to King Drupad first as a woman but then later will change to be a man. Saying this he disappears. As soon as he disappears, Amba jumps into the fire to kill herself so that she can take rebirth soon.

Amba was then reborn as Shikhandini at Panchal to King Drupad. She was the third sibling of Dhrishtdyumna and Draupadi.

From her birth, a Divine voice told her father to raise her as a son. So Shikhandini was raised like a man, trained in warfare and eventually married. On her wedding night, her wife insulted her on finding out the truth. Contemplating suicide, she fled Panchala, but was saved by a Yaksha who exchanged his sex with her. Shikhandi came back a man and had a happy married life with his wife and had children too. After his death, his masculinity was transferred back to the Yaksha.
In the battle of Kurukshetra, Bhishma recognised him as Amba reborn, and not wanting to fight ‘a woman’, lowered his weapons. Knowing that Bhishma would react thus to Shikhandi, Arjuna hid behind Shikhandi and attacked Bhishma with a devastating volley of arrows. Thus, only with Shikhandi’s help could Arjuna deal a death blow to Bhishma, who had been virtually invincible until then. Shikhandi was finally killed by Ashwatthama on the eighteenth day of Mahabharata war.