Monthly Archives: January 2014

The story of Sampati

 Jatayu and Sampati

We all have heard of Jatayu. Jatayu is famously known in the Ramayana as he lost his life while saving Sita. But his lesser known brother, proved to more important as he helped in tracing exactly where Sita was. This brother was Sampati.

The tale of two brothers

Daksha and Panchajani had sixty daughters. Thirteen of these were married to sage Kashyap. Vinata, who was married to Kashyap had two sons, Aruna and Garuda. Aruna had two sons Sampati and Jatayu.  Aruna is the Charioteer of Surya. Sampathi and Jatayu, when young, used to compete as to who could fly higher. On one such instance Jatayu flew so high that he was about to get seared by the sun’s flames. Sampati saved his brother by spreading his own wings and thus shielding Jatayu from the hot flames. In the process, Sampati himself got injured and lost his wings. As a result, Sampati lived wingless for the rest of his life.

 

Sampati - The vulture king

Sampati – The vulture king

 

During Kishkindha Kand, Sugriva ordered a bunch of monkeys led by Jambvant and Hanuman to search for Devi Sita. They came near to the abode of Sampati. Sampati became very pleased to see such a large gathering of the monkeys.  He thought that these monkeys have been a gift of God, so that his hunger could be satisfied.

The monkeys were frightened to see the giant Sampati. Jambvant thought that how would these monkey, who are terrified by a vulture, fight against the mighty Ravana.

Just about that time, Angad was talking about Jatayu. He said – No one has ever been as blessed as Jatayu, who gave up his life for the cause of Sri Rama.

When Sampati heard about his brother Jatayu,  he requested them to tell about Jatayu.  After learning what happened to him, Sampati requested them to take him towards the sea, as he wanted to offer tilanjali (offerings of sesame seeds) in honour of his dead brother. Then Sampati told the story of two brothers.

“Once both of us had a flying competition. While flying, we went higher and higher in the sky. Soon the intense heat of the sun began to torment us. I, therefore spread my wings to cover Jatayu who was not able to bear the heat of the sun. Thus I managed to save Jatayu but but got my wings burnt and fell down on the earth at the seashore.

A sage Chandrama felt pity on my state and preached me on the futility of arrogance. He also said that in the times of Treta, almighty Lord Vishnu will take incarnation to slay the evil. His wife Sita would be abducted by the demon king Ravana. Lord would send messengers in search of his wife, and you would get a chance to meet him and your wings would be healed then.

Sampati guiding monkeys

Sampati guiding monkeys

 

Then the sage told me that Ravana, the abductor of Sita, would be residing in Lanka. He also instructed me to tell the Lord that he would find Sita mourning in Ashok vatika. Sampati’s wings were healed. After telling the monkeys where Sita was,He flew away advising them to sort out means to reach Lanka.

The search party was again in crisis. Though they came to know where Sita was, but now the problem was how to reach her.  Jambvant said since he had grown old, so it was impossible for him to reach Lanka in one leap. But he knew the Hanuman had the powers to achieve this feat.

The story of Hanuman reaching lanka and back is known as Sunder Kand.

Lord Krishna

Seven unknown facts from Mahabharata

Even Lord Krishna was once rendered helpless. This was not with force, but with love. The youngest Pandava, Sahadev once tied him with love and affection. People do not know that Sahadeva was a great astrologer as well.

Untold, Unknown facts from Mahabharata

The epic Mahabharata has many instances which reveal various aspects of human struggles. Shri Krishna, even being an incarnation of god, was deemed helpless few times. This was not because he was not capable, this was because that anyone who liked him or had a pure intent, was blessed by him in that way. Here some interesting stories are on offer, how Shri Krishna goes to any length to help his disciples and how Draupadi had a boon of virginity from Lord Shiva. These stories also tell about the powers and knowledge of youngest Panadava , Sahadeva.

When Shri Krishna was helpless

Sahadeva, the youngest of Pandavas was a very wise person. He was a great astrologer who could predict things in advance.  Once Shri Krishna asked him that what should be done to prevent Mahabharata war.

Sahadeva replied that Krishna himself must be tied down and imprisoned. He said that all Pandavas along with Duryodhana must be sent to forest and Karna must be made the king.

In response, Krishna challenged him to tie him down, Sahadeva started meditating and envisioned Krishna as a small baby and tied him down.
Shri Krishna

Shri Krishna

Since Krishna could not move out of the bondage created by Sahadeva in his meditative trance, he blessed him with divine vision and then only Sahadeva released Krishna from the bondage.

Draupadi’s virginity

Draupadi was wife of five brothers. She had a boon from Lord Shiva which she got from doing great penance. As a reward, she would get certain qualities in her husbands. This also resulted in she being the wife of five husbands.

Lord Shiva and Draupadi

Lord Shiva and Draupadi

When she complained about this to Lord Shiva, she was given another boon that she would become a virgin every morning, after taking bath. Thus she was able to become the wife of all pandavas at the same time. This is an another unknown fact from Mahabharata.

Draupadi could have fourteen husbands instead of five

Bhagwad Gita was delivered on Ekadashi

It was Mokshada Ekadashi, when Krishna gave the holy sermon of the Bhagvad Gita to the third Pandava Arjuna, as per the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The 700-verse Bhagavad Gita told at the beginning of the climactic Mahabharata war between the Pandavas and their cousins, the Kauravas at Kurukshetra.

When Duryodhana was outsmarted  – another Shri Krishna masterstroke

Sahadeva, the great astrologer was also an upright person.  Duryodhana requested Sahadeva to find him a suitable auspicious date to offer ‘Kalabali’ – a ritualistic sacrifice before war that would ensure victory for the performer.
And following the path of Dharma, Sahadeva told the recipe of pandavas downfall.
Enter Shri Krishna, when he came to know about this, he devised a way out of this. A day before the new moon, Krishna calmly went down to the banks of river Yamuna and with the help of two brahmin priests, started performing Tarpana, a ritual submitting offerings to ancestors and divine entities which is usually done only on new moon day (amavasya).
Duryodhana and Drona

Duryodhana and Drona

Brahmins nearby watched Krishna performing Tarpana on a non new moon day with surprise.  They were puzzled as to why Krishna, the all knowing supreme Lord would perform the ritual of tarpana on a non new moon day.
They thought that no way Krishna would do tarpana on the wrong day and that their own prediction of new moon day as the next day was wrong.  They were convinced that since Krishna was doing tarpana that day, then that day would indeed be new moon day as great Shri Krishna would never be wrong.

The sun god Surya and moon god Chandra who were watching the activities of Lord Krishna and other brahmins giving Tarpana on earth were intrigued as even they knew it was the next day they would align and come together to form new moon day.  They thought that there would have been a mistake somewhere and that they should bring it to the notice of Lord Krishna.

Both, Surya and Chandra descended to earth and met with Lord Krishna to enquire about the ongoing activity and explained him that it was chaturdashi, not the new moon day to perform tarpana.

Lord Krishna greeted them both and responded that it was indeed new moon that day.  The puzzled deities questioned Him how was it possible.  Krishna asked them what exactly happens on a new moon day.  The two stellar deities explained that the day when the Sun and Moon align and appear together, the lunar eclipse takes place and that day is the new moon day.

Shri Krishna on hearing that said that since that very day, Sun God Surya and Moon God Chandra came appearing together before him, it was indeed the new moon day (amavasya) and that was the reason He was performing tarpana on that day.

The Sun and Moon gods could not argue against Lord Krishna who so tactfully elaborated the reason for his strange activity and accepted His verdict and thus the entire world changed the new moon day, a day in advance to its usual occurrence at that point.

Krishna, once accomplishing this superhuman feat, at once ordered the Pandavas to perform the Kalabali from their end the very same day.  Since it was accepted by the sun and moon gods that it was indeed the new moon day, the Pandavas performed the Kalabali ritual on the newly established auspicious date which brought them victory in the Mahabharata war at Kurukshetra.  Duryodhana, on the other hand, performed the ritual on the next day (the usual new moon day) all in vain.

Shalya and Yudhishthira

In the war of Mahabharata,  Arjuna slayed all the great archers, including Karna, Bhishma and Bhima killed all Kauravas. We sometimes wonder that what other Pandavas did. This goes for Yudhisthira also. But the elder Pandava had killed a very important warrior from Kauravas side, who have been very difficult to tame.

Yudhishthira

Yudhishthira

There is an interesting story how Shalya was tricked by Duryodhana and he had to side with Kauravas against his wishes.

Yudhisthira knew this and  he extracted a promise from Shalya that he would demoralise Karna in the Mahabharata war.

Shalya had a unique quality that his opponent’s aggression would work in his favour. Due to this, it was very difficult to conquer him for any warrior. But Yudhisthira was not a man of aggression and in the war of Mahabharata, Yudhisthira could kill him with help of others.

Akshaypatra

while the Pandavas were exiled into the forest, they had a great help in form of akshaypatra. Contrary to the belief, this was provided to Yudhishthira and not Draupadi from Lord Surya.

Akshaypatra

Akshaypatra

Yudhisthira prayed Lord Surya. Pleased with Yudhishtira’s prayers, Lord Surya blessed him with the Akshaya Patra, a vessel that would give unlimited food every day till Draupadi finished eating.

Duryodhana was in heaven

While Yudhisthira was in the heaven he saw Duryodhana in an elevated seat in bright attire with all ornaments. Yudhisthira was displeased with this event and said that he was not interested the comforts at heaven along with Duryodhana.

Yudhishthira and Dog to heaven

Yudhishthira and Dog to heaven

He further added that it was for his sake all the relatives and friends were all killed in the great war of Mahabharata. It was because of him Draupadi in the presence of all noble people was utterly insulted in the royal assembly. Hence he decided that he wouldn’t like to stay in the heaven where Duryodhana was enjoying.

Yudhisthira could not see his brothers and his wife Draupadi, in heaven. This made him curious that how Pandavas were not in heaven while Duryodhana was. He was escorted to hell where he saw his brothers and wife suffering.

He was very much displeased, but soon discovered that gods have visited them there and all the pains have vanished. He was then said that all Pandavas deserved heaven and they have to spent some time in hell, because of few sins they have done.

21 facts of Lord Krishna

 

Marriage of Bhima and Hidimba – The Mahabharata

 Hidimba and Bhima

After Pandavas fled from the fire of Lakshagriha, the came to a forest. After walking for hours, they came to the part of the forest where a demon named Hidimb and his sister Hidimba lived.

The forest

Hidimb was a ferocious demon with a great appetite for human flesh. He sensed very soon that Pandavas were available for a great feast. He sent her sister ahead to Pandavas.

Hidimba and Bhima

Hidimba and Bhima

Hidimb sends Hidimba

Pandavas were sleeping and Bhima was awake looking for any troubles. Hidimba comes along and forgets immediately about the work assigned to her.

She fells in love with Bhima and she assumed the form of a very beautiful lady, approached Bhima and expressed her desire to marry him. She also revealed her true identity and her brother’s intentions.

Fight between Bhima and Hidimb

When Hidimba did not return for a long time, Hidimb went looking for her and saw her talking to Bhima. “I sent you to kill the human and you are talking to him. I will kill him myself.” Saying so, he attacked Bhima. A fierce fight followed and ended with Bhima killing Hidimb.

fight between hidimb and bhima

fight between hidimb and bhima

Proposal of marriage

After the death of her brother, Hidimba wanted to marry Bhima. Bhima refused and wanted to kill Hidimba as well, but Kunti interfered.

Condition by Kunti

 

kunti and hidimba

kunti and hidimba

Kunti’s acceded to Hidimba’s proposal, but on one condition. Once She had a child from Bhima, She must allow Bhima to leave her and join Pandavas.

Bhima’s condition

Bhima agrees to marry her, on one condition. “I will spend my time with you during the day, but I must return to my mother and brothers at nightfall. You may join us in our journey

Marriage of Bhima and Hidimba

Hidimbi happily agrees and they marry immediately. True to his word, Bhima spends every day with Hidimbi. She takes him wherever he desires and they have a wonderful, magical time together. Promptly at dusk, Bhima returns to the rest of the Pandava clan to spend the hours of the night.

Birth of Ghatotkacha

Within a year, Hidimbi gives birth to a huge half-rakshasa son, who is named Ghatotkacha, because his bald head looks like a pot. Ghatotkacha greatly loves the Pandavas and they are enamored with him.

bhima hidimba and ghatotkacha

bhima hidimba and ghatotkacha

Ghatotkacha went on to become a great warrior and an important figure in the Mahabharata war. A master wizard and sorcerer, Lord Krishna gave him a boon that no one in the world would be able to match his sorcery skills except Krishna himself.

Damyanti - A beautiful maiden

Damyanti Swayamvara

Damyanti

Damyanti was a very beautiful lady, who was the daughter of King of Vidarbha. She was so beautiful, that even the gods wanted to marry her. King of Devas, Lord Indra wanted that she should marry a god and not Nala, as she wanted to do so.

Damyanti - A beautiful maiden

Damyanti – A beautiful maiden

Damyanti’s sickness

She wanted a swayamvara to be arranged for her, but getting a swayamvara arranged was not as easy as Damayanti thought. It would be highly improper of her to approach her parents directly. She began to drop hints by eating less and losing weight, by pretending to forget things, by looking lost and gloomy and other such things. At last her mother noticed that Damayanti was not her former self and told the king about it. The king immediately ordered the royal physicians to find out what sickness was troubling her daughter. It was only after the physicians drew a blank that the king realised that his daughter was now a grown-up maiden and it was time for her to get married.

Announcement of Swayamvara

The swayamvara was announced. News reached Nala also and Nala left immediately. Since he was an excellent equestrian he made good progress. The news of the swayamvara had reached the heavens as well.

Ruckus between Indra and Nala

Four of the demi-Gods, Indra, Agni, Varun, and Yama, had also descended to the earth for the swayamvara. They accosted Nala as he was nearing Vidarbh. Indra told Nala that he would have to do them a favour. Nala protested that he needed to know what was being asked of him before he could commit. Indra got angry. “Humans consider it an honour when we ask them to do something. But you are creating a fuss. Don’t you know our power? We can make you disappear and not reach the swayamvara at all,” he thundered. Nala meekly acquiesced. Indra then told him to approach Damayanti and plead with her to choose from the four demi-Gods. Nala was aghast. “How can I act against my own interest,” he pleaded. The threat of dire consequences was repeated. Nala tried a different route. “We are allowed in the palace only on the day of the swayamvara and that too only where the swayamvara is to be held,” he said, “How will I access Damayanti?” Indra reminded Nala that he was the king of the demi-Gods and would arrange the meeting.

Meeting of Nala and Damyanti

A day before the swayamvara Indra transported Nala to Damayanti’s chamber using his divine powers. The two recognised each other instantaneously. After a long embrace Nala stated the purpose of his visit. Damayanti told him not to worry. He had kept the promise made to the demi-Gods and nothing could dissuade Damayanti from garlanding Nala in the swayamvara ceremony. Nala faithfully repeated the conversation to Indra. “You have kept your word only in letter and not in spirit,” Indra stated, “Now I will do what has to be done.”

The swayamvara

A galaxy of princes was gathered at the swayamvara. Nala sat in one corner so as to avoid the demi-Gods, but they sought him out and sat next to him. At the appointed time Damayanti entered the hall. To her amazement she saw five people exactly like Nala sitting in a corner.

Damyanti recognises Nala

She realised that the demi-Gods were trying to trick her but was confident that her love would prevail. After watching the five for a few minutes she realised that four stared at her with unblinking eyes while the fifth was blinking regularly. She garlanded the fifth person. The four demi-Gods assumed their true form and blessed the bride and groom and went back to heaven. Another account says that Gods did not have shadows while Nala, being a human, had a shadow.

Nala and Damyanti

Nala and Damyanti

This shows that Damyanti was not only beautiful, but she had the brains too.

When Lord Rama got angry

Lord Rama – The Maryadapurushottam

Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, is normally associated with peace, calmness and patience, but there are instances where this incarnation of Lord Vishnu has been angered. At one hand, these present a message that though above mentioned virtues are sought after, but when it demands, anger should also be exercised.

With Parshurama

This incident is well known and documented, just happened after Sita swayamvar. After knowing that someone has broken Shiva’s bow, Parshurama stormed into the scene and demanded to know who has done this. This angered Rama a great deal and he shown his prowess by lifting the another bow and pointed the arrow towards Parshurama and demanded – Where should I release this arrow? Parshurama instantly understood and went away. This is a classic case of dealing with anger which was abated by anger.

Lord Rama and Lord Parshurama

Lord Rama and Lord Parshurama

With Sagar

In his quest of winning back Sita, Rama and his army of monkeys has to cross the ocean. For this, they wanted to made a bridge which could lead them to Lanka. But the problem was that the sea was not calm to allow such as endeavour. Rama requested Sagar (Sea god) for three days and when it did not relent,  Rama decided to dry the sea with the weapon Brahmastra. The Sea god then pleaded for mercy and Rama anger could be subdued.

When Rama invoked Brahmastra on Sagar (Sea God)

When Rama invoked Brahmastra on Sagar (Sea God)

With Sugriva

This is not exactly Rama who got angry with Sugriva, rather Laxman. After getting the throne of Kishkindha back, Sugriva apparently forgotten about his promise to help Rama to search Sita. Rama send Laxman as his messenger to Sugriva. After Laxman gave him a mouthful and Tara also told Sugriva that it is the time to fulfill his promise, Sugriva sends out his most trusted lieutenant Hanumana to search Sita.

Ram reached Sugriva

Ram reached Sugriva

With son of Indra

During their stay at Chitrakoota, Kakasura, Indra’s son in disguise, had committed an outrage on Sita’s modesty. When Rama came to know of it his anger knew no bounds and he used a blade of grass as the Brahmastra. The offending crow now fled from pillar to post and found that in all the three worlds there was none who could protect it. It came back to Rama and fell at his feet. Rama told the crow that the effect of the Brahmastra could not be taken away and in accordance to the crow’s plea, the right eye became the target to save its life.

Jayant , Rama and Sita

Jayant , Rama and Sita

 

Lord Shiiva and Devi Parvati

The festival of Mahashivaratri

Mahashivaratri festival

Lord Shiva, the god of destruction from the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is worshipped on this festival. This day falls in the month of falgun, fourteenth day of krishna paksha, as per the hindi calendar.

Lord Shiiva and Devi Parvati

Lord Shiiva and Devi Parvati

How puja is performed?

On this day,devotees visit the Shiva temples in their area. They bath in the morning and bring holy water such as gangajaal to bath the Shivalinga. Womens observe this festival for well being of their husband and children. Leaves of bel, Dhatura, Milk are deemed to be favourites of Lord Shiva and devotees bring them to offer to him. Unmarried girls pray and keep fast on this day for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband. The temples are reverberated with words “Har Har Mahadev”. Devotees then take rounds of Shiva linga and then offer gangajal or milk. There  is also the custom of staying awake all night on Shivaratri while chanting the name of Lord Shiva which relates to Neelkanth.

Worship of Lord Shiva

Worship of Lord Shiva

 Legends of Mahashivaratri

A number of legends are associated with this festival. The most important is the legend of Neelkanth on consumption of poison.

Neelkanth – churning of ocean

During the churning of ocean, a pot of poison (halahal) came out of the ocean. This had the potential to destruct the whole universe. Lord Vishnu advised gods to request Lord Shiva to consume the poison.
To save the mankind, Lord Shiva drank the poison after requested by gods. Goddess Parvati pressed her neck to prevent the poison reaching to stomach. Thus, the poison remained in the neck and his neck became blue. Thus the name Neelkanth. In an effort to keep Lord Shiva awake at the night,gods danced and played music. As the day broke out, Lord Shiva, pleased with their devotion blessed them all. Mahashivaratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world.

Neelkanth mahadev

Neelkanth mahadev

According to another legend, Mahashivaratri  is the celebraton of wedding of Lord Shiva with Parvati.

Fair and melas

A number of melas are organized and celebrated in the indian subcontinent. In Nepal, Pashupati Nath temple celebrates Lord Shiva’s birthday with grandeur. At midnight, all the four doors of the main temple of pashupatinath are opened for whole night. Rudra mantra is enchanted  and offerings are given to Lord Shiva. Nepal Army pay homage to Lord pashupatinath by volleys of gun fires at Tundikhel parade ground in Kathmandu.

In Mandi (‘Varanasi of the Hills‘), Himachal pradesh, the Shivaratri fair is celebrated for seven days. About 200 deities are assembled in this holy town. This festival has gained the importance of international festival.

Mandi during Shivaratri fair

Mandi during Shivaratri fair

Pachmarhi hosts Shivaratri mela every year. The religious festival celebrates the wedding of Lord Shiva with Parvati. This is done at Mahadev Temple, nearby Pachmarhi.

 

Wedding of Shiva and Parvati

Wedding of Shiva and Parvati

In 2013 – This festival will be celebrated on 10th March.