Monthly Archives: January 2015

Ashtalakshmi

The story of Goddess Lakshmi

The story of Goddess Lakshmi

Lakshmi, The Hindu Goddess is Goddess of wealth, beauty and fertility.   Her four hands represents the four goal of human life , dharma, kama, artha and moksha.  She  is also called Sri or Thirumagal because she is endowed with six auspicious and divine qualities and also because she is source of strength even to Vishnu.

Ashtalakshmi-ritsin

She is consort of Lord Vishnu. When Vishnu incarnated on earth as Ram and Krishna, she also took incarnation as Sita, Radha, Rukmini and Satyabhama.

Like Goddess Durga’s nine manifestations, She too has eight iconic manifestations.  The eight fold form of goddess is known as Ashta Lakshmi. It is believed that these eight fold forms fulfill human necessities and desire through their individual nature and manifestations.

Eight forms of Goddess Lakshmi

The eight forms of Lakshmi or Ashta lakshmi comprises of :

1. Aadi Lakshmi is ancient form of Goddess.

2. Dhana Lakshmi provider of money and gold.

3.. Dhanya lakshmi provider of agricultural wealth.

4. Gaja Lakshmi provider of animal wealth like cattle  and elephant.

5. Santana Lakshmi bestower of offsprings.

6. Veer Lakshmi   bestower of valor in battles and courage and strength for overcoming difficulties in life.

7. Vidya Lakshmi  the bestower of knowledge of arts and sciences.

8. Vijaya Lakshmi  bestower of victory, not only in battles but also in conquering hurdles in order to beget success.

Legends

Gods (sura) and demons (asura) were mortal at one time. Amrit, the divine nectar that grant immortality can be obtained by churning the kshirsagar (ocean of milk). The churning commenced with devas on one side and asura on the other side. Vishnu incarnated as Kurma, the tortoise, and a mountain was placed on the turtle as a churning pole. Vasuki, king of serpent was wrapped around the mountain to churn the ocean. According to Vishnu puran, Goddess Lakshmi came out of the ocean bearing lotus along with divine cow Kamdhenu, Varuni, the tree Parijat, the Apsaras, the Chandra and Dhanvantari with Amrita.  When she appeared she was given the option to go to devas or asura , she chose devas side and among all the deities she chose to be with Lord Vishnu.

According to Garuda purana, Linga purana and  Padma purana, she is considered to be daughter of sage Bhrigu and his wife Khayati, and was named Bhargavi.

Celebrations

Many Hindus worship Lakshmi on Diwali, the festival of light. This festival is considered as most important and joyous festival of the year. Sharad purnima is another occasion when Lakshmi is worshiped in Bengal and Odisha.

In Japan :

Goddess kishijoten, of Japan,is Goddess of beauty, fortune and prosperity, corresponds to Goddess Lakshmi.

In Tibet and Nepal:

Goddess Vasudha is closely analogous to Goddess Lakshmi.

The pronunciation is Lux-me like luxury not lacks-me, like something lacking. Though often depicted standing on lotus, pictures of Lakshmi, kept on altars  depict her seated comfortably because you want her to stay for a while.

Recommended Reading:

Seven unknown facts about Karna

Unknown fact about Draupadi – Why she had five husbands

When incarnation of Lord Vishnu could not defeat his bhakta

Lord Murugan

Seven unknown facts about Lord Kartikeya

Lord Kartikeya

Lord Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati, is the worshipped prominently in south India. He is known by different names – Lord Swaminatha, Lord Murugan, Skand and more. There is an interesting story of a competition between two brothers, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya and how Lord Kartikeya subsequently chose to live in Tanil region. He is also the commander of devtas.

His birth was to kill demon Tarakasura

There was a demon named Tarakasura who had the boon that he should only be killed by Lord Shiva’s son. This is soon after Sati’s death, so Taraka takes it for granted that Shiva would not at all get remarried, and hence, would not have a son to call his own. It is believed that Lord Kartikeya or Murugan manifested for the sole purpose of killing Tarakasura.  Tarakasura knew very well that Lord Shiva was an ascetic and He would not marry or have children. Hence, he would be invincible.

As luck would have, Lord Shiva finally married Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva took her to a cave and asked her to meditate. As they both meditated, a ball of fire emerged out of their cosmic energies.

In the mean time, the other Gods being insecure from Tarakasura, sent Agni or the God of fire to get hold of the ball of fire. But even Agni couldn’t bear the heat of the energy of Shiva and Parvati. So, He handed over the ball to Goddess Ganga. When even Ganga couldn’t bear the heat, She deposited the fire ball into a lake in a forest of reeds.

Why he is known as Shanmukha

Then Goddess Parvati took the form of this water body as She alone could bear the energy of Shiva and Shakti. Finally the fire ball took the form of a baby with six faces. Hence, Kartikeya is also known as Shanmukha or the God with six faces. He was first spotted and taken care of by six women who represented the Pleiades or the Kritikas. So, the divine child was known as Kartikeya or the son of the Kritikas. Later on, he becomes commander-in-chief of the Gods.

Lord Shanmukha

Lord Shanmukha

Skandmata

This form of Devi Parvati is also known as Goddess Skandmata, mother of Lord Kartikeya. She is worshipped on the fifth day of the Navratri. The fifth manifestation of the goddess seems to be pure and white. Whenever the oppression by the demons increases, goddess Skandmata rides on a lion and kills them. Devi Skandmata has four arms. She holds lotus in two hands and uses the other hand to support Lord Kartikeya sitting on her lap. Her fourth hand is raised to bless the devotees.

Why his flag contains a picture of Rooster (cock)

In due course, Tarakasur was defeated by Lord. So, Tarakasur (ego) became a chicken or rooster after being defeated by Kartikeya. After having defeated Taraka (ego) in battle, Kartikeya spared his life and asked him what boon he would desire. Taraka prayed to always be at the feet of the Lord, and so Lord Kartikeya made him the emblem on His flag. This means that ego should always be kept subdued. Ego is necessary in life but it should be kept subdued.

Lord Kartikeya

Lord Kartikeya

Why he is called Swaminatha

Once he asked Lord Brahma to explain the meaning of Om. Brahma explained to him but he was not satisfied. Later on, when asked by Lord Shiva, he explained the whole episode to him.  Lord Shiva told that he must learn from Lord Brahma, as he is the supreme creator. To this Kartikeya replied, ‘Then you tell me, what is the meaning of Om?’ Hearing this, Lord Shiva smiled and said, ‘Even I don’t know.’ Kartikeya then said, ‘Then I will tell you because I know the meaning of Om.’

‘Then tell me the meaning since you know it’, said Lord Shiva.

Lord Swaminatha

Lord Swaminatha

‘I can’t tell you like this. You have to give me the place of the Guru. Only if you put me on the pedestal of the Guru can I tell you’, said Kartikeya. Guru means he has to be on a higher position or platform. The teacher has to sit on a higher place and the student has to sit down and listen to him.

How can Lord Shiva find a seat higher than him, for He is the highest and greatest of Gods? So then Lord Shiva lifted the young Kartikeya on to His shoulders. And then in the ear of Lord Shiva, Lord Kartikeya explained the meaning of the Pranava Mantra (Om).

Kartikeya explained that the entire Creation is contained in Om. The Trinity – Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are contained in Om. This is the essence and also the secret of Om that Lord Kartikeya narrated to Lord Shiva.

Upon hearing this, Goddess Parvati (Mother of Lord Kartikeya, and an incarnation of the Mother Divine) was elated and overcome with joy.

She said, ‘You have become a Guru (Swami) to my Lord (Natha)!’ Saying this she addressed her son as Swaminatha, and ever since Lord Kartikeya also came to be known as Swaminatha.

Lord Kartikeya’s appearance

Lord Kartikeya is one of the most beautiful and handsome gods. He is also known as Skanda. He rides a peacock called Paravani. His preferred weapon is the Vel or spear hence the popular name Velayudhan – he whose weapon is a spear. He is called Yuddharanga or the wisdom of war too. He is represented with six heads and twelve hands. He is popularly known as Subramaniam too which is a common South Indian name.

Lord Murugan is considered very handsome, brave, just. Even though he was seen as a playful youngster, he was also extremely knowledgeable – enough to test Lord Brahma himself.

Lord Murugan

Lord Murugan

His Consorts

Lord Muruga has two consorts – Valli and Devasena. Valli is a tribal girl and Devasena is the daughter of Indra, the king of the Devas. His mount is the peacock. Palani, near Madurai where he is said to have created his own abode when he was angry of having been cheated out of the sacred fruit.

Kartikeya carries on one hand a spear and his other hand is always blessing devotees. His vehicle is a peacock, a pious bird that grips with its feet a serpent, which symbolizes the ego and desires of people. The peacock represents the destroyer of harmful habits and the conqueror of sensual desires. The symbolism of Kartikeya thus points to the ways and means of reaching perfection in life.

Marriage of Lord Skanda

Amritavalli and Saundaravalli were two daughters of Vishnu born from his eyes. They developed undying love for Skanda and performed severe austerities to obtain him as husband. At Skanda’s instructions, Amritavalli incarnated as Devasena, a young girl under the guardianship of Indra in Swarga. Saundaravalli took the form of Valli, a lass under the protection of Nambiraja, a hunter near Kanchipuram. ‘Valli’ is a Tamil term for the Sanskrit ‘Lavali’, a kind of creeper. As she was found among the creepers as a baby, the hunter called her ‘Valli’. After the war with Surapadma was over, the devas were overjoyed. Skanda acceded to Indra’s prayer to accept Devasena as his consort. The divine wedding was celebrated with great enthusiasm at Tirupparankundram near Madurai in the presence of Parvati and Siva. Indra’s recoronation in Amaravati in Swarga followed. Devas regained their power and positions. Skanda took his home in Skandagiri. He then proceeded to Tiruttani near Chennai, where Valli was looking after barley fields. After a series of sportive love-pranks, in which his brother Vighneswara also lent a helping hand, he married her.

Festivals

Kumara Purnima, which is celebrated on the full moon day after Vijayadashami, is one of the popular festival dedicated to Kartikeya in Odisha. It is believed that unmarried girls worship Kartikeya on this day to get grooms handsome as Kartikeya.

 The Kavadi Attam or Kanwar

The Kavadi Attam is a dance performed at the time of the ceremonial worship of Murugan, during Thai Pusam, revering him as the God of War. This is symbolic of the devotees carrying a physical burden, imploring the Lord to release them from material bondage.

There is a story behind this Kavadi.  Lord Shiva once entrusted the dwarf saint sage Agastya to carry two hillocks and install them in South India. But the sage asked his disciple, Idumban to get them instead. Idumban could not initially lift the hillocks, until he obtained divine help. Idumban put the hillocks down to rest awhile, near Palani. When he attempted to continue with his journey, he found that the hillocks were immovable.

Idumban then sought the help of a scantily dressed youth, who said that the hillocks belonged to him. In the ensuing scuffle, Idumban was defeated. Idumban realized then that the youth was none other than Lord Murugan. Idumban pleaded to be pardoned and asked that anyone who comes to the hills to worship Murugan with an object similar to the two hillocks suspended by a rod, may be granted his heart’s desire. Idumban’s wish was granted. That is how the kavadi or Kanvad came to play its role in Hindu festivals.

Sarawati Puja festival

The festival of Saraswati Puja

The festival of Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Puja or Vasant Panchami is the festival of scholars. On this day, goddess Saraswati is worshipped. She is considered to be the goddess of knowledge, art and music.

Sarawati Puja festival

Sarawati Puja festival

She holds the veena ( a musical instrument) and also referred as Veena Vadini. This festival in india follows the another important festival – Makar Sankranti.

 

Goddess Saraswati with Veena

Veena Vadini

Vasant Panchami marks the onset of spring season. It is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the Indian month of Magh. In southern part of India, this festival falls on navaratri. This festival is followed by another major festival – Holi.

It is believed that on this day goddess Saraswati was born on this day. Saraswati is the hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts and science. She is the companion of Brahma, also revered as his Shakti (power). It was with her knowledge, that Brahma created the universe.This festival is celebrated in temples, homes schools, colleges and educational institutions. Goddess Sarawati’s favourite colour is white. She is seen as the serene Goddess wearing a crescent moon on her brow riding a swan or seated on a lotus flower.

Vasant Panchami is the most auspicious day to begin study. Educational institutions conduct special prayer for Saraswati on this day. It is a great day to inaugurate educational institutes and new schools. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya who founded the Banaras hindu university on the auspicious occasion of Vasant Panchami.

There is also a custom of ancestor worship, known as ‘Pitri-Tarpan’ in many parts of India during Vasant Panchami.

Regional influences on Saraswati Puja

Saraswati Puja in Eastern India

In the eastern part of India—Tripura, Orissa, West Bengal, Bihār and Assam,—Saraswati Puja is celebrated in the Magha month (January–February). It coincides with Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami, i.e., the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha. People place books near the goddess’ statue or picture and worship the goddess. Book reading is not allowed on this day.

Saraswati Puja in South India

In the southern states of India, Saraswati Puja is conducted during the Navaratri. Navaratri literally means “nine nights”, but the actual celebrations continue during the 10th day, which is considered as Vijaya Dashami or the Victorious Tenth Day. Navaratri starts with the new-moon day of the bright fortnight of the Sharad Ritu (Sharad Season of the six seasons of India) during September–October. The festival celebrates the power of the feminine aspect of divinity or shakti. The last two or three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati in South India.

 

Recommended Reading:

Seven unknown facts about Karna

Unknown fact about Draupadi – Why she had five husbands

When incarnation of Lord Vishnu could not defeat his bhakta

Lord Rama with his brothers, Sita and Hanumana

Seven unknown facts of Lord Rama

Seven unknown and untold facts about Lord Rama

Happy new year 2015. Freeflow presents seven facts about Lord Rama to you to start your year. Have a great time ahead.

Lord Rama is one of the incarnation of Lord Vishnu. His incarnation was to end the life of Ravana, who had a boon which made him invincible. This incarnation of Lord Vishnu was in human form as Ravana did not have immunity against humans and monkeys and Lord Hanumana suitably assisted Lord Rama.

1. According to some belief, Rama Avatar is not considered to be a purna avatar. His incarnation was having 14 kalas and only Shri Krishna avatar has all 16 kalas. This was done on purpose because Ravana had a boon and he was not immune against humans. If Rama avatar had been the purna avatar, he would not have classified as a human. He is also called as Purna Purusha. The two missing kalas were Paripurna & Swarupavasthitha. This explains why he had to take help from monkeys and he cried as a normal human when Sita was abducted.

2.  Rama acknowledged the wisdom of Ravana. While Ravana was dying, Lord Ram asked Laxmana to go up to him to learn all that Ravan had to offer. At his behest, Ravana rendered a discourse in politics and dharma to Laxmana.

3. According to Vishnu Sahasranama, a list of thousand names of Lord Vishnu, Rama is the 394th name of Lord Vishnu.

Lord Rama with his brothers, Sita and Hanumana

Lord Rama with his brothers, Sita and Hanumana

4. This is really an eye opener. Lord Rama also had an elder sister, Shanta, daughter of Dasharatha and Kaushalya.

5. Ayodhya was ruled by Lord Rama for eleven thousand years. This golden period was adjudged as Ram Rajya.

6. Rama intended to use Brahma astra a couple of times. Once, on Jayanta and second time on Sagara, the god of sea.

7. He always admired his bhaktas. Once during the building of bridge to Lanka, Lord Hanumana was hefting huge mountain tops into the sea to build the bridge to Lanka. He noticed a tiny spider brushing small particles of dust into the water with its legs to assist Lord Rama. He was about to brush the spider out of the way of his own serious work, when Ramachandra admonished him, saying, “Give up your pride! This spider’s devotional service is just as satisfying to me as yours. You are serving me according to your capacity, and he is serving me according to his capacity.”