Monthly Archives: April 2015

Nandi and Lord Shiva

Seven unknown facts about Lord Shiva

Untold stories of Lord Shiva

Har har Mahadev. Lord Shiva, the god of destruction has got softer sides of him also. Here are few stories, which will definitely be of interest to you.

 Lord Shiva in a smiling face is under the feet of angry Mother Kali

Perhaps the most humble lesson one can learn is from this legend. Lord Shiva, the Mahadev, is under the feet of Goddess Kali and smiling. He represents fury, anger and yet he is in his most benevolent form. Why is so? Read on.

Once upon a time, Goddess Kali was on a rampage. No demon, human or God stood a chance at stopping her blood-lust. A collective prayer was made to Lord Shiva by all beings to try to stop this Maha-Shakti form of his consort. Such was the power of the Goddess that wherever she set foot, absolute destruction followed suit.

The lord realized even he could not reason with such an elemental force. He had to reach out to her in terms of emotions. As such, he decided to lay down in the Goddess’ path. When Kali finally reached the spot where Lord was lying down, she did not notice him until she stepped on his chest.

So far, everything she was setting foot on was being destroyed. This was an exception, Kali was forced to look down and found the Lord there. Sudden realization dawned on her and she snapped out of her reverie and found herself extremely ashamed, sticking out her tongue instinctively as a sign of regret.

Devi Kali rgrets

Devi Kali rgrets

There are number of lessons here: No matter how resourceful one is, sometimes he has to deal with tact, as Lord did. Second, tricky situations can be overcome by thinking on your feet. In this story, we see shades of Lord Vishnu, when it comes to dealing with tact.

Lord Hanuman is an avatar of Lord Shiva

It is said that Bhagwan Hanuman is the eleventh reincarnation of the Lord. Also, Lord Hanuman is often recalled as Rudraavataar, or the reincarnation of Rudra and Shiva is also known as the Rudra.

The vanars or the ancestors of humans had helped Lord Rama (reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) in Ramayana.  Without their support, Rama could not have defeated Ravana.

Lord Hanuman is often worshipped for his devotion to Lord Rama and his part in the “good over evil.”  It is also depicted as the utter and infinite devotion of Lord Shiva to Lord Vishnu, as he reincarnated as a monkey and served him with all he had.

Lord Shiva and his family

Lord Shiva and his family

 

The Story of Amarnath cave

Amarnath cave is of utmost importance for followers of Lord. The legendary importance of Amarnath’s cave is related to the secret of immortality told to Lord Shiva’s wife Parvati. When Lord was insisted by his wife to reveal the secret of immortality, he decided to proceed towards the cave.

On his way to the cave he did a few things, which were great according to his devotees. Because of these few things, the entire way to the cave became blissful. Actually, in order to reveal the secret of amar katha, Lord left his son, vehicle, etc in various isolated places, which is why all these places seem like tirthasthal. There are two ways for Amarnath journey – Pahalgam and Sonmarg Baltal. According to mythology, Lord took the Pahalgam route to reach the cave.

Amarnath cave

Amarnath cave

 

Lord Shiva’s association with Nandi Bull

Lord Shiva and Nandi are inseparable. Nandi is the vehicle for the Hindu god of Shiva. In Hindu mythology, Nandi is the bearer of truth and righteousness. This story describes how Lord became associated with the bull Nandi.

One day, Surabhi, who was the original mother of all the world’s cows, began to give birth to an untold number of perfectly white cows.The milk from all these cows flooded the home of Lord.

Somewhere in the Himalaya. Angry at this disturbance to his meditation, the god struck the cows with fire from his third eye. In consequence, patches of the cows’ hides were turned brown. Still angry, the other gods sought to calm Lord down by offering him a magnificent bull – Nandi, the son of Surabhi and Kasyapa – which Shiva accepted and rode. Nandi also became the protector of all animals.

Nandi and Lord Shiva

Nandi and Lord Shiva

As Nandi is the assistant of the of Lord – he can also grant many boons. In South India – there is a tradition of talking one’s wish to Nandi’s ears that is then believed to be granted.

Powers of Nandi

 

Sudarshana chakra was given to Lord Vishnu by Lord Shiva

The famed Sudarshana chakra was bestowed to Lord Vishnu by Lord Shiva. Once, Vishnu was meditating Shiva’s sahasranama to please Lord. He kept thousand lotuses to please him. Lord wanted to test Lord Vishnu’s devotion and so he took one of the flower from flowers which Vishnu was using to offer it to Shivalinga on each naama.

At the thousandth name, vishnu was surprised to see he was not left with any flowers and so he took out his own eyes and offered it to Lord. As Lord Vishnu is also called Kamalnayan, his eye would serve the purpose of a Lotus flower. Shiva pleased with the level of devotion shown by Vishnu, bestowed Sudarshan chakra to Lord Vishnu.

Why Lord Shiva Covers His Body With Ash?

Lord Shiva’s body is always covered with ash and Shiv devotees wear ash tilak on forehead and hands. There is an interesting story in the Shiva Purana which narrates how Lord  came to be associated with Ash. There once lived a sage whose lineage was traced to the famous Saint Bhrigu. This sage performed intense austerities and became very powerful. He used to consume only fruits and later only green leaves and thus got the name – Pranada.

Sage Pranada continued his intense tapas and controlled all the animals and plants in the forest he lived. Once while cutting some grass to repair his hermitage, the sage cut his middle finger. But to his surprise instead of blood he saw sap of tree oozing through the cut.

Now Pranada thought that he had become so pious that instead of blood, sap is oozing through his body. Pride filled his mind and he started shouting in joy that he is the most pious man in the world now.

Lord Shiva who witnessed this event took the guise of an old man and reached the spot. When the old man asked for the reason for his uncontrollable delight, Pranada said that he has become the most pious man in the world as his blood as become quite similar to the sap of fruits and trees.

Then the old man asked what is there to be elated in this. It is just a sap. But when trees and plants are burned they turn into ash. Only ash remains that is surely the higher stage.

To demonstrate it the old man sliced his finger and suddenly ash came out of it. Sage Pranada soon realized that it was Lord standing before him and prayed to him for forgiveness for his ignorance.

It is said that ever since then Lord wears ash to remind his devotees about the ultimate reality and foolishness of getting enamored in physical beauty.

Lord Shiva tests Goddess Parvati

Few of us know that Shiva thoroughly tested Devi Parvati’s devotion before accepting her as a wife. He designed himself as a young Brahmin and told Parvati that would it be good for her to marry Lord who lived like a beggar and had nothing?

Parvati got very angry when she heard these words about Lord. She told him that she would marry no one but Shiva. Pleased with her answer, Lord came back to his real form and agreed to marry Parvati. Himavantha performed the wedding with great splendour.

Wedding of Shiva and Parvati

Wedding of Shiva and Parvati

Read the story of Lord Shiva marriage to Parvati here.

Lord Shiva stories

Seven important rituals of Hindu religion

Seven Important Hindu Rituals

We are presenting another series of Hindu Rituals which explain the importance of these rituals. Their observance brings great luck and happiness to devotees.

Importance of Deepa

The deepa or diya is lit on all auspicious occasion, festivals even in daily puja. Deepa is lighted in front of deities. In some temples we can also find a akhand deep which is burnt continuously.  It is also lighted in educational and social events like inauguration.

Importance of Burning Deepak

Importance of Burning Deepak

 

It is believed that the oil of the deep symbolizes one’s base instinct (vasana) the wick the ego. So when a deep is illuminated by spiritual knowledge the base instincts get exhausted and  the ego slowly perishes. The flame of the deep always burns upward similar to a spiritual knowledge which elevates a person. Thus, lightning a deep symbolises knowledge that eradicates the darkness of ignorance.

What is the purpose of Aarati and how it is performed ?

Aarati is one of the sixteen steps of the puja ritual. It is referred to as the auspicious light. Aarti is performed at the end of every ritualistic puja. It is performed by circling the lighted lamp with the right hand in a clockwise direction before the deity. During aarti devotees sing prayer describing the glory of God, clap their hands, ringing of bells and blowing of conch shell. After aarti devotees place their palm over the holy flame and then touch them over their eyes and head to be blessed by God’s divinity.

The ritual of Performing Aarti

The ritual of Performing Aarti

 

Why Coconut is worshipped ?

In early days, animal sacrifice was in practice in yajnas, this symbolizes offering of wealth to Devas. But slowly this practice was discontinued and coconut,  which symbolizes life came is used instead.

The Coconut worship

The Coconut worship

 

Coconut is worshipped with the kalash as this symbolises prosperity and auspiciousness. It is also offered into the sacrificial fire during homa ceremony. It is also broken during worship rituals and on occasions like inauguration or opening of new buildings , factories shops etc.

The splitting of a coconut symbolises the shattering of one’s ego. The coconut water represents the base instinct (vasana) which is offered with white kernel ( the mind) to God.

What is pradakshina and why it us done ?

Pradakshina means circumambulation, its a devotional act expressing respect and honour to God’s divine presence. While circumbulating the devotee chant the name of God. This is always performed in a clockwise manner so that the deity is always on one’s right, symbolising auspiciousness.

pradakshina

 

Why do Hindu offer namaste or namaskar or dandavat pranam ?

Namaste , namaskar or dandavat pranam is a gesture of greeting and respect to God, guru, senior or even a stranger. Namaste means ”I bow to you” It also includes the sentiment of offering prostration and salutation. The Hindus say offer namaste or namaskar by folding their palms together by the and chest and bowing their heads. Bowing of the head symbolises humility and folding of hands means, may our mind meet together.

namaskar

Dandavat pranam is performed by sitting down on one’s knees with one’s head and hands touching the ground and the mind engage in humble thoughts. Dandavat pranam is performed by lying prostrate on the ground with eight parts of the body touching the floor.

dandvat

Both the pranams are performed in acknowledgement of their greatness, selfless love, service and sacrifice.  In return the guru , parents, seniors, teachers generally place their hands in benediction on the disciple, child or student’s head to allow the free flow of divine vibrations and positive energy.

Why do Hindus observe fast ?

Hindus observe fast on festivals. They fast to please God, control the senses or atone for sins.Fast is observed in various forms like some take only milk, or water or fruit juice, while some fast strictly without taking any food and water at all.

Spiritually, fasting facilitates mental proximity to God by withdrawing the senses from material objects. It also evokes feeling of gratitude and humility for all that God gives and does for our happiness, survival and sustenance. The mind become pure, poised and peaceful. Physically, fasting allows the digestive system to rest for some time and thus improve its efficiency. It also detoxifies the body.

Why do some Hindu deities have animal features?

Some Hindu deities have animal features include Ganesha , Hanuman, Vishn’s avtars like Matsya(fish), Kumra (turtle), Varah (boar), Narasimha (half man half lion) and others. Hindus believe that Paramatma or Bhagwan manifests in human and other forms for the purpose of re-establishing dharma and destroying adharma. God is free to take whichever form he desire for the purpose of fulfilling his mission. This Hindu tradition reverse all the manifestation of Bhagwan and other deities, whether in human or other forms, and believe that they are divine.

Lord Ganpati having elephant features

Lord Ganpati having elephant features

 

 

sun god

In other religions and civilizations Gods with animal features are worshipped, like in Ancient Greek civilizations, they worshipped God Pan, who had hindquaters, legs and horns of a goat. In Egyptian civilization also people worshipped Anubis, Lord of underworld, and Ra (Sun God) who are potrayed as men with falcon heads. In Christianity winged angels are portrayed as half human and half bird.

greek god

Today, many of these animal feature deities have lost their prominence and no longer remembered or worshiped. But,  in Hinduism Ancient deities are still worshiped , believing them to be divine regardless of them having animal features.