Monthly Archives: September 2013

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Family of Danveer Karna – Vrushali and Vrishketu

 Karna’s family – Vrushali, Vrishketu and others

Karna was the eldest son of Kunti and Lord Surya. There is not much available about his family, but following briefly tells about the family of this great archer, the rashmirathi.

Karna and Kunti

Karna and Kunti

In some texts, Vrushali has been names as the wife of the great warrior Karna, but there is not much material available on her. The son of Karna, Vrishketu is mentioned more frequently and it is also known that Pandavas developed good liking towards him, especially Arjuna.

Karna had two wives- Vrushali- from whom he had seven sons – and Supriya- a friend of Bhanumati. Bhanumati was the wife of Duryodhana. Vrushali committed sati on Karna’s funeral pyre.

Vrishketu and other sons

Vrishketu was Karna’s only son to survive the horror of the Kurukshetra war. He later came under the patronage of the Pandavas.  Vrishketu accompanied both Bhima- to acquire the sacrificial horse and Arjuna, where he famously fought – (and was killed by) Babruvahana.

Shri Krishna’s first response was to  revive  Vrishketu with the magical Nagmani and only then turn his attention to Arjuna. During that campaign, Vrishketu married the daughter of king Yavanaath, probably a King in the west. It is recorded that Arjuna developed a great affection for his nephew Vrishketu and trained him to be one of the best archers in the world.

Mahabharata  mentions the names of Karna’s seven sons – Vrishasen, Sushen, Bhanusen, Satyasen, Prasenjit and Satyasandh, and Vrishketu.

Out of these, four of them were killed by Pandavas. Vrishasen was killed by Arjun, who contrasted the situation with Abhimanyu and told Karna that just as he killed Abhimanyu when Arjun wasn’t there to protect him, Arjun would kill Vrishasena despite Karna’s presence, and went on to do just that.  The next day, Nakula was involved in a battle with Bhanusen, Sushen and Satyasen, and killed them.

In some texts, this is mentioned that one of Karna’s son was killed during the chaos, which was followed after Draupadi’s swayamvar.

 

Bhishma and Parshurama

Bhishma and Parshurama – Two great warriors

The battle between Bhishma and Parshurama

Amba’s abduction

Bhishma (son of Shantanu and Ganga) was a great archer and a warrior. He is known for his vow of celibacy and skills in the Mahabharata. He had the task of  finding a bride for his half-brother,  Vichitravirya.  He abducted princesses Amba, Ambika and Ambalika of Kashi (Varanasi) at their swayamvara.  Salwa, the ruler of Saubala, and Amba (the eldest princess) were committed to each other. When Amba confided in Bhishma that she wished to wed Salwa. Knowing this, He sent her back to Salwa who turned her down as it was humiliating for him to accept a woman who had been so long in the company of another man. She then naturally approached Bhishma and demanded him to marry her, which he refused, citing his vow.  Amba, humiliated and enraged beyond measure, vowed to avenge herself against Bhishma.

Bhishma abducting Amba, Ambika and Ambalika

Bhishma abducting Amba, Ambika and Ambalika

Preparation of the battle at Kurukshetra

Legend has it that at her maternal grandfather’s suggestion Amba sought refuge with Parshurama, who ordered Bhishma to marry Amba. Parshurama (sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu) was the guru of Bhishma. He politely refused saying that he was ready to give up his life at the command of his teacher but he could not break his promise. Upon the refusal, Parshurama called him for a fight at Kurukshetra.  At the battleground, while he was on a chariot, Parshurama was on foot. Bhishma requested Parasurama to also take a chariot and armour so that Bhishma would not have an unfair advantage. Parshurama blessed Bhishma with the power of divine vision and asked him to look again. When Bhishma looked at his guru with the divine eye-sight, he saw the Earth as Parshurama’s chariot, the four Vedas as the horses, the upanishads as the reins, Vayu (wind) as the charioteer and the Vedic goddesses Gayatri, Savitri & Saraswati as the armour.

Bhishma and Parshurama

Bhishma and Parshurama

The battle between the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Bhishma

Bhishma got down from the chariot and sought the blessings of Parshurama to protect his dharma, along with the permission to battle against his teacher. Parshurama was pleased and said to Bhishma that if he had not behaved in this manner, Parshurama would have cursed him, for it is the duty of warriors who fight against elders to not abandon the traditions of humility and respect for elders. Parshurama blessed him and advised him to protect his dharma of brahmacharya as Parshurama himself must fight to fulfil his dharma of fighting to uphold his word as given to Amba. They fought for 23 days without conclusion — Parshurama was chiranjeevi (immortal) and Bhishma had a boon that let him choose the time of his death. Two versions exist about how their battle came to and end.

End of the battle

As per one, On the 22nd night, Bhishma prayed to his ancestors to help him end the battle. His ancestors gave him a weapon which was not known to Parshurama . They told him that it would put Parshurama to sleep in the battlefield. A person who sleeps in the battlefield is considered to be dead as per Vedas. They advised Bhishma to call back the weapon at the end of day after sunset so that Parshurama will come back to his sense and that shall bring the end to war. However the weapon was never used as Bhishma walked out of the war.

As per the other version, on the 23rd day, Bhishma summoned the infallible celestial weapon(astra) Prashvapastra, the method of using which was known to him and him alone. Neither did a counter-attack exist, nor was a defense against it known to Parshurama . As Bhishma mounted the astra on his bow, a divine voice guided Bhishma not to fire the weapon as its use would lead to the humiliation of Bhishma’s guru(Parasurama himself). Bhishma refrained from using the weapon that would have brought him certain victory. Upon witnessing this, Parshurama  was overcome with adulation for his disciple and proclaimed Bhishma as the victor.

Parshurama and Amba

Parshurama thus told Amba that he could not win over Bhishma and gave her the boon of “mahakal shiva”. Amba did penance to please Lord Shiva. Shiva gave her the boon that she would be instrumental in the death of Bhishma. Amba would later be reborn as the eunuch prince Shikhandi in the household of king Drupada.

 

Seven facts about Bhishma

Pandavas marry Draupadi

Pandavas after Mahabharata war

 Pandavas after Mahabharata war

What happened to Pandavas after the Mahabharata war? It was nothing like Shri Ram ruled Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. But this era was more of Lord Krishna, rather than of Pandavas.

Gandhari’s curse and end of Yadavas

At the end of Mahabharata war, in the Mausala Parva of the epic Mahabharata, Gandhari curses Shri Krishna. This chapter begins with the visit of Lord Krishna to Gandhari. In a fit of grief over the death of her sons and the soldiers of her kingdom, Gandhari curses Krishna with the death of all Yadavas in a manner similar to the death of her sons. She blames Krishna for his inaction and believes that he could have stopped the war if he wanted to. Krishna explains how he had tried many times to mediate peace, how Duryodhana refused even a point of land when all that the Pandavas had expected was five small villages, and how Duryodhana and his uncle had tried many times to destroy the Pandavas. However, the lord also explains that he believes that the Yadavas would be destroyed by internal strife and conflict if left unchecked, so he thanks Gandhari for solving his dilemma and accepts the curse as a blessing.

Shri Krishna's achilles heel

Shri Krishna’s achilles heel

Hunter Jara and Shri Krishna

In this chapter, death of Shri Krishna is detailed by a hunter Jara.  Jara accidentally shoots Krishna in the heel , which he confuses with a deer while Krishna is meditating.  Shri Krishna consoles Jara and enters a nearby temple where the deity within him is seen, and so he merges with the image of Lord Vishnu.

Shri Krishna and the hunter

Shri Krishna and the hunter

 

Crowning of Parikshit and Pandavas leaving for their journey to heaven

After Shri Krishna (the onset of Kali Yuga), Pandavas lost their interest in worldly matters. They crowned Parikshit (Arjuna’s grandson)  and leave for a pilgrimage to various places in India before moving towards heaven.

After the great battle of Kurukshetra, the Pandavas started ruling the kingdom of Hastinapur. They meanwhile decided to renounce everything and proceed for Pilgrimage. In the Mahabharata,  an apt description of the five Pandavas leaving for the Himalayas is found. They went clad only in rags and retired to the Himalaya and climbed towards heaven in their bodily form. A stray dog also accompanied them during their travels.  Unfortunately while on the journey, one by one, each Pandava and Draupadi met their end however leaving Yudhishtira and the stray dog.

Pandavas-journey-to-heaven

Death of Draupadi and other Pandavas

As each one stumbled, Yudhishtira gave the rest the reason for their fall. Draupadi was partial to Arjuna, whereas Nakula and Sahadeva were proud of their looks, whereas Bhima and Arjuna were proud of their strength and archery skills, respectively. Yudhishtira did not stumble as he was the only virtuous and righteous person.

Yudhisthira and Dharmaraj

Yudhisthira and Dharmaraj

Dharmaraja and Yudhisthira

Finally the dog who travelled with Yudhishtira revealed himself to be the god Yama or Yama Dharmaraja.

The God took Yudhishtira to the underworld where he found his siblings and wife. Yama explained Yudhishtira about a test which he had succeeded and took him back to heaven. According to Yama it was necessary to expose Yudhishtira to the underworld for the one lie which he had said during his entire life in the battle field of Kurukshetra.  The five Pandava brothers thus came face to face with their doom.

Prior to the incident of their retirement to heaven, five brothers and Draupadi once had to face a similar situation where apparently end of Pandavas was revealed.  The event demonstrates a situation that killed all the Pandava brothers except Yudhishtira. While drinking water from a lake. The virtuous Pandava was promised by the Yaksha if he would answer each of his questions. Gradually Yudhishtira satisfied the Yaksha and acknowledging his wisdom the Yaksha helped in reviving the dead Pandavas .

Death of Parikshit

After the end of the Pandavas and their final retirement to heaven, Arjuna’s grandson Parikshita came of age after ruling Hastinapur for quite a long time also faced an eventual end as he was bitten by a snake.

Janamejaya, Parikshita’s son was ferocious and decided to perform a snake sacrifice,in order to destroy the snakes. With an end of Pandavas a curtain was drawn to a significant chapter in Mahabharata.

 

The complete story of Parshurama avatar – Vishnu dashavatara

 Parshurama Avatar ( Dashavatara of Lord Vishnu)

Parshurama is the sixth incarnation (one of the dashavatara) of Lord Vsihnu. He is said to be one of the chiranjeevis. Chiranjeevi means one who doesn’t die.

Birth

Parshurama is born to Sage Jamdagni and Renuka. Parshurama was very obedient to his father, and once when asked by his father, he did not hesitate and beheaded his own mother. Jamdagni and Renuka meditated before the birth of Parshurama and with the blessing of Shiva, Vishnu agreed to take incarnation as their son which became sixth of the ten dashavataras. He was the fifth son of his parents.

Childhood

In his childhood, he did severe penance and pleased Lord Shiva. Lord presented him with the weapon parshu, thus the boy was called as Parshurama.

Killing of king Kartavirya

At that point of time, a king named Kartavirya Arjuna became very strong. He also defeated Ravana. One day, he came to the hermitage of sage Jamdagni and was welcomed by the sage. Jamdagni had a cow, Kamdhenu, presented by Indra, which allowed him to serve his guests. Impressed, kartavirya wanted the cow, which Jamdagni denied. The king stole the calf.

Kamdhenu , Jamdagni

Kamdhenu , Jamdagni

Parshurama was not at home at this point of time. When he returned back, he went to the palace of King Kartavirya and killed him. Then he retrieved Kamdhenu and came back to his home.

Killing of Sage Jamdagni

Soon, sons of Kartavirya discovered their father at the palace and knew that only Parashurama could have killed him. In revenge, they traveled to the hermitage and murdered Jamadagni, surrounding the rishi and shooting him to death with arrows like a stag. Afterwards, they decapitated his body and took his head with them.

Parshurama’s vow

When Parshurama discovered his mother weeping over the body of his father, he vowed to avenge the death of his father. He hunted down the sons of Kartavirya at the palace. He killed them all and returned with the head of his father to conduct the cremation. Parashurama then vowed to enact a genocide on the war-mongering Kshatriyas twenty-one times over.

Parshurama

Parshurama

Parshurama is also the guru or teacher of Bhishma, Drona and Karna. Parshurama’s famous curse is on Karna which rendered the Brahmastra useless for Karna.

Parshurama and Rama ( dashavatara’s of Lord Vishnu)

During Sita swayamvar, Rama broke the bow of Lord Shiva. Hearing the sound of breaking of the bow, Parshurama came there and challenged Rama to string the bow with an arrow. Rama, being an avatar of Lord Vishnu, easily mounted the arrow and asked Parshurama, where should I fire this arrow now? Parshurama realized that Rama was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and his own role has completed now.

Sita Swyamvar

Sita Swyamvar

Karva Chauth – festival and legends

Karwa or Karva Chauth

Karva chauth, a festival observed by married women. Celebrated  for well being and prosperity of her husband.  Some young single women also pray this day to get a perfect husband one day.

A ritual of this festival - looking at moon from sieve

A ritual of this festival – looking at moon from sieve

 

In a country like India with intricate rituals and customs, marriage is considered a very pious and strong relationship. In India, marriage is a promise of companionship for seven lives. According to the ancient Hindu texts, the will power of a married lady to change her husband’s bad fortune into good is so strong that it can even change God’s ultimate decision.
This is a very tough fast, married lady have to spend whole day without any food and water, still celebrated with great enthusiasm.

On the day of Karva chauth, married lady wake up before sunrise to take sargi (this is food to be taken before sunrise normally given by mother-in-law).
Karva chauth reflects joy, splendor, brightness and happiness of a married life. That day married lady wears bright and beautiful clothes, heavy jewellery,henna on palm and feet.
In evening Mother-in-law or any elder women accepts the baya (which include sweets, money, dress, karva) and give this to younger lady of the family. Traditionally its mother who sends baya to her married daughter houses.
Generally married ladies gather at one place to perform the puja. A idol of Gaur mata of Goddess Parvati is placed on a small square platform. An hour before moonrise, ladies sits around the puja area and pray, with there baya and karva in a plate. while elder lady narrate story of karva chauth.
While the story is read out to everyone, the women exchange their respective karvas, till each one gets her own karva back. During this time, they also chant the following prayer which is for the well being of the husband and for marital bliss.
Addey-addey Krishna Pakshe Var
Tith Karva Chauth
Manse hain apne suhag ke liye
Yeh karva, mattri, halwa, sari, nagdi
Apne suhag ka liye rani ka sa raj dena
Gaur ka sa suhag dena Shri Krishna nimant.
The puja ends with the women showering rice and vermilion on Parvati and seeking her blessings. The younger women touch the feet of the elders, seek their blessings and offer their baya to them.
Breaking fast is also very interesting, women carries a plate with a lit earthen lamp and a container of water. After seeing moon through sieve she offers water and food and then she can break her her fast, it is also preferred to see her husbands face before eating or drinking.
Then the celebration comes to end with a grand meal.
There are many legends of karva chauth, here are some interesting ones.
Story of Veeravati
Veeravati,a beautiful queen, the only sister of her seven loving brothers. On her first karva chauth, she went to her parents house and had a strict fast, waiting for the moon rise to break it. The seven brothers could not see their loving sister go hungry throughout the day. They decided to end her fast, by reflecting a mirror through tree leaves and making her believe that it is moon. Veeravati believing them broke her fast. The moment she ate food, she got news of her husband’s serious illness.
After coming to know that her husband is not well, she rushed to her palace and on her way, met Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It was them that she came to know that her brothers had shown her false moon and made her break her fast before moonrise. The queen asked for forgiveness and was granted the boon that the king would be revived only if she undertakes seven karva chauth fast strictly, following all the rituals. The queen agreed and strictly followed all the rituals of karva chauth the next seven times and got her husband back.

Story of Karva

Karva was a woman deeply devoted to her husband. It so happened that her husband was caught by a crocodile while bathing. Karva came running and bound the crocodile with a cotton yarn. She then went to Yama and requested him to send the crocodile to hell. She threatened to curse him when Yama refused to do so. Afraid of the power of a devoted wife, Yama accepted and sent the crocodile to hell and blessed Karva’s husband with long life.

Story of Satyavan and Savitri

When Lord Yama came to take away Satyavan’s soul, Savitri begged him to spare her husband. He refused to do so. In order to gain back her husband’s life, Savitri stopped eating and drinking anything. Finally, Yamraj relented and granted her, her husband’s life. And from that day onwards, karva chauth has been celebrated with great faith and belief.