Monthly Archives: May 2015

Lord Shiva as Mahakal

Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva as Mahakal

Lord Shiva is worshipped as Mahakala. Located in the ancient city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, is the temple of Mahakaleshwar. This temple is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India.  There is an interesting story which explains about the Mahakaleshwar form of Shiva. This form of Lord Shiva is a fierce form which is beyond imagination and description. This story took place when Ujjain was known as Avanti and is mentioned in the Shiva Purana.

Lord Shiva as Mahakal

Lord Shiva as Mahakal

The Story of Mahakala

Once there lived a pious man in Avanti (nowadays Ujjain),  who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He had four sons and the family worshipped Lord Shiva daily.

Not far away from their home in a hill named Ratanmala. There lived an Asura (demon) named Dooshana. Demon Dooshana hated all forms of Shiva and vedic worship. He went around killing people who worshipped Shiva. Soon Dooshana came to know about the family in Avanti that worshipped Lord Shiva.

He arrived with his army and attacked the city. But the family continued to worship Shiva in the form of a Shivling.

Finally, the demon and soldiers reached the home of the pious man and started hurling weapons. The demon broke open the door and advanced towards the Shivling by raising a sword.

Suddenly, there was a deafening sound and there appeared a dreadful form beyond explanation before the Shivling. A single glance by the Mahakala form of Shiva burned the demon and his army into ashes. Uncontrollable and unsatisfied, the form of Shiva gave a huge roar; the entire universe trembled in fear.

But the family was but delighted to see Lord Shiva and continued chanting his glory and prayers. Before his true devotees, Shiva is always the Bholenath – one can be easily influenced. Hearing the prayers of his devotees, His anger subsided.

But the family who was aware of the dangers of the world realized that the form of Shiva as Mahakala was essential for peace and prosperity and asked him to reside in this form at Ujjain. Since then Shiva remains at Ujjain Mahakala Temple as Mahakala – the one with the power to annihilate all living and non-living.

Unknown facts about the Mahakaleshwar Temple

One of the oldest places of pilgrimage, the temple finds mention in ancient texts and scriptures and has been eulogised by the great Sanskrit poet and dramatist in emotive terms.

Mahakaleshwar Temple, with its astonishing architectural beauty, dominates the skyline of Ujjain and instills a sense of reverence among the devotees. The lingam at this spiritually important shrine is believed to be swayambhu (self-arisen).

Mahakaleshwar Ujjain

Mahakaleshwar Temple at Ujjain

The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be dakshinamurti, which means that it is facing the south. This is a unique feature, upheld by the tantric shivnetra tradition to be found only in Mahakaleshwar among the 12 Jyotirlingas. The idol of Omkareshwar Mahadev is consecrated in the sanctum above the Mahakal shrine. The images of Ganesh, Parvati and Karttikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum.

To the south is the image of Nandi, the vehicle of Lord Shiva. The idol of Nagchandreshwar on the third storey is open for darshan only on the day of Nag Panchami. The temple has five levels, one of which is underground.

The temple itself is located in a spacious courtyard surrounded by massive walls near a lake. The shikhar or the spire is adorned with sculptural finery. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum. It is believed that prasada (holy offering) offered here to the deity can be re-offered unlike all other shrines.

Bhasma Aarti at Mahakaleshwar

One of the most important rituals of Mahakaleshwar is Bhasma Aarti. The temple opens in the morning at 4AM with a special aarti – the one of its kind Bhasma Aarti – where the aarti is performed with sacred ash – Bhasma. Since ancient times, this bhasma used to be the fresh and burning hot ash from a funeral pyre, since Lord Shiva is believed to live in and enjoy the atmosphere of a cremation ground. However, now, the temple has changed its ways in keeping with modern times and the aarti is now performed with bhasma made with cow dung, what we call Vibhooti.

Mahakal Bhasma Aarti at Ujjain

Mahakal Bhasma Aarti at Ujjain

While those who have seen the original aarti (which was performed till about 15years ago) maintain that it was a different experience which can not be recreated. The present aarti is also a grand experience.

Another Legend of Mahakal

According to the Puranas, the city of Ujjain was called Avantika and was famous for its beauty and its status as a devotional epicenter. It was also one of the primary cities where students went to study holy scriptures. According to legend, there was a ruler of Ujjain called Chandrasena, who was a pious devotee of Lord Shiva and worshiped him all the time. One day, a farmer’s boy named Shrikhar was walking on the grounds of the palace and heard the King chant the Lord’s name and rushed to the temple to start praying with him. However, the guards removed him by force and sent him to the outskirts of the city near the river Kshipra. Rivals of Ujjain, primarily King Ripudamana and King Singhaditya of the neighboring kingdoms decided to attack the Kingdom and take over its treasures around this time. Hearing this, Shrikhar started to pray and the news spread to a priest named Vridhi. He was shocked to hear this and upon the urgent pleas of his sons, started to pray to Lord Shiva at the river Kshipra. The Kings chose to attack and were successful; with the help of the powerful demon Dushan, who was blessed by Lord Brahma to be invisible, they plundered the city and attacked all the devotees of Lord Shiva.

Mahakaleshwar Shivji

Mahakaleshwar Shivji

Upon hearing the pleas of His helpless devotees, Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakala form and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasena. Upon the request of his devotees Shrikhar and Vridhi, Lord Shiva agreed to reside in the city and become the chief deity of the Kingdom and take care of it against its enemies and to protect all His devotees. From that day on, Lord Shiva resided in His light form as Mahakala in a Lingam that was formed on its own from the powers of the Lord and His consort, Parvati. The Lord also blessed his devotees and declared that people who worshipped Him in this form would be free from the fear of death and diseases. Also, they would be granted worldly treasures and be under the protection of the Lord himself.

Draupadi and Pandavas born due to a curse

There are many stories which establish the fact that why Draupadi had to become wife of five brothers, but this story is rather less known, where it was due to curse of Goddess Parvati, Draupadi became wife of five Pandavas. Similarly, it was curse of Lord Shiva, which resulted in five gods to bore children in Pandavas.

Ketaki and Daksha

Ketaki was the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. She was very beautiful. Because of her beauty and demeanor, she earned lot of fame. This made her arrogant. When her father asked her to get married, She refused saying that she can not find any person worthy of marrying her. So, she decided to spend her entire life under the shelter of Lord Shiva in Himalayas. Accordingly, She went to Himalayas and started her penance.

Ketaki

Ketaki

Curse of Goddess Parvati

Once Goddess Parvati thought of testing her. Parvati disguised as a cow reached the plac ewhere Ketaki was meditating and started bellowing loudly. Ketaki was disturbed so she uttered some foul words for the cow. Hearing this, Goddess Parvati came into her real form and cursed her. She said in your arrogance you can’t find any male worth marrying you so you will have to go down to earth and be common wife of five men.

Parvati relents

On recognizing Parvati, Ketaki fell in her feet for apology. Parvati said her curse is immutable, but this will be as a blessing in disguise for her. Even after being a common wife of five husbands, your wifely devotion shall remain intact and then realms Parvati left.

Sadness of Ketaki and Indrani’s wish

Ketaki was sitting at the bank of Ganga, her tear drops that fell on the water become golden lotus and began to float in the current. Indra spoted them and took few flowers for his wife Indrani. Indrani was delighted to have them. Indrani longed to have more of them and said that the right place of blooming was the pond in the heaven.

Indra sends Gods to find the flower

Indra send Dharamraj to find the origin of the flower. When he didn’t return, Indra send Vayu dev behind him. But, when he also failed to return Indra send Ashwini Kumars to find the golden lotus. But after long time when none of them returned Indra decided to go and search himself.

Indra meets Ketaki

Indra found Ketaki sitting on the bank of Ganga. Charmed by her beauty he sought her identity. Ketaki said she is daughter of Daksha Prajapati and she was there to do her penance and meditation. Indra said that meditation and penance are for elderly sage and offered her to marry him and enjoy the pleasure of heaven.

Keatki was hurt by the offer and said your four deites have already suffered the consequence of giving me such offer and if you seek your welfare you should return to your abode.

Ketaki shows helpless gods to Indra

Indra immedately understood that the four deities referred to by her were none else but Dharamraj, Vayu, Ashwini Kumars. When Indra inquired further about them. Ketaki took him to a deep cave where four deities were lying tied down. On seeing them Indra lost temper and said though you pretend to be ascetic, but  your heart is full of demonic tendencies. Do you know the consequence of holding them in captive.

Indra meets the protector of Ketaki

Ketaki said, thet they are being held n captive by her protector. Indra found an ascetic with long matted hair lost in meditation in a cave. Indra in arrogance began to utter some foul words for the ascetic. But when the ascetic came in his real form Indra was shocked to see that he he was no one else then Lord Shiva himself.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva curses five Gods

Lord Shiva thundered that Ketaki is like a daughter to him and since Indra and his deities have insulted her so you five have to go down on earth as human being.

Ketaki and Lord Shiva

Ketaki and Lord Shiva

Lord shiva said that in Dwapar Age, Lord Vishnu will incarnate as human being, at that time you five will also live on earth as human being, and at that time Ketaki shall be your common wife. In this way, your desire to have her shall be satiated and you five will also help Lord Vishnu to establish the rule of righteousness on the earth. This way your curse will fructify as boon to you all.

Thus due to the effect of the collective curse of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati, Pandavas got Draupadi as a common wife.

The gem which gave Lord Krishna two wives

 The Story of Syamantaka Gem, Jambavant duel with Lord Krishna and his marriage

Syamantaka gem, is a rare gem which had the power to bestow all sorts of good things to the person holding it. This jewel originally was with Sun God, who gave this to Satyajit, who was an ardent devotee of Sun God. Satyajit brought this gem to Dwarka, where Lord Krishna instructed him to give it to Ugrasena, but Satyajit did not listen.

Satyajit gave this to Prasen, who was once killed by a lion while he was wearing this gem. Shortly after, it was attacked by Jambavant, described as king of the ‘bears’ , who killed it after a fierce fight and took off with the bounty.

Lord Krishna and Jambavant

Lord Krishna and Jambavant

Prasen’s disappearance fed to rumour that Shri Krishna killed him, as he wanted the Gem himself. To get himself rid of this, he decided to solve the mystery, Soon he found the Prasen’s corpse, followed it and found Lion’s corpse and finally discovered Jambavant’s cave.

Soon a fierce battle was ensued between these two. After 28 days, Jambavant got tired and he wondered that who is this person who can stand up to him for a fight? He realized that he was none other than Lord Vishnu himself. He happily handed over the gem to Lord Krishna and got his daughter, Jambavati married to Lord.

Meanwhile, Lord Krishna’s companions, who waited for Krishna to come out of the cave, returned to Dwarka despondent. All of Krishna’s friends and family members became extremely sorrowful and began regularly worshiping Goddess Durga to assure the Lord’s safe return. Soon,  Krishna entered the city in the company of His new wife. He summoned Satrajit to the royal assembly and, after recounting to him the entire story of the Syamantaka jewel’s recovery, gave the jewel back to him.

Satrajit accepted the jewel, but with great shame and remorse. He went back to his home, and there he decided to offer Lord Krishna not only the jewel but also his daughter so as to atone for the offense he had committed against the Lord’s lotus feet. Sri Krishna accepted the hand of Satrajit’s daughter, Satyabhama, who was endowed with all divine qualities. But the jewel He refused, returning it to King Satrajit.

Lord Krishna and Satyabhama

Lord Krishna and Satyabhama

Note: Incidentally Lord Krishna’s battle with Jambavant is because of a boon given by Lord Rama. Jambavant, the played a major role in during the building of the bridge, appears in the Mahabharat. Lord Rama was pleased with Jambavant’s devotion and told him to ask for a boon. Jambavant wished for a duel with Lord Rama, which he granted, saying that it would be done in his next avatar.

More stories about Lord Krishna