Monthly Archives: August 2015

21 incarnations of Lord Vishnu- part 2

This article is second in the series of 21 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. We see that some of the famous avatars of him appear here also such as fish and Narsingh incarnations.

8. The Rishabha deva Incarnation

Rishabha deva is eighth avtar of Vishnu. Rishabh Dev was born to king Nabhi and Marudevi. His mother Marudevi was the daughter of Indra. His most important lesson he taught mankind was that material possessions cause envy and unhappiness.

He attained that state of Paramhansa (an ascetic of highest order who has controlled his anger) which is an uphill task. He was given the title of ‘Jin’ which means a ‘ a knower’. His followers are known as Jains.

jain

 9. The Incarnation of Raja Prithu

The ninth incarnation of Vishnu was as a king. Lord Vishnu took this incarnation on the request or (prarthana) of sages hence, he got the name Prithu. King Prithu was son of an evil king Vena. Vena was killed by the sages  leaving the kingdom without an heir and in famine due to the anarchy of Vena So, the sages churned Vena’s body, out of which first appeared a dark dwarf hunter, a symbol of Vena’s evil.  On further churning, Prithu emerged from right arm of the corpse.  To end the famine Prithu chased the earth (Prithvi) who fled from his wrath as a cow. Prithvi said if you will kill me it would mean an end to his subkects too. Thus,Prithu lowered his weapons and promised to be her guardian. Finally, Prithu milked her using Manu as a calf, and received all vegetation and grain as her milk, in his hands for the welfare of humanity. This is considered that as a very supreme incarnation, because the earth has remained full of vegetation’s after that. Earth was named Prithvi after King Prithu.

10. The Fish Incarnation

All the oceans had unified into a single ocean in the ‘Manvantara’ of ‘Chakshusha’. At this time, the whole world  was flooded with water.  The Manu who ruled over this manvantara was known as Vaivasvata Manu.  As a fish, Vishnu told Vaivasvata Manu to build a boat and save himself and the rest of humanity from the waters of the flood. Lord Vishnu in his 10th incarnation as a Matsya (Fish) rescued the earth from ‘Maya’ the demon.

11. The Tortoise Incarnation

At the time of churning of Ocean (samudra manthan) Vishnu incarnated as turtle. The gods (devas) and demons (asuras) churned the ocean with Mount Mandara as a churning rod. But this would not have been possible had there not been a base on which Mount Mandara could rest.  This base was provided by the back of the turtle.

12. The Dhanvantari Incarnation

As the churning continued  Dhanvantari came out with a pot of amrita ( a life-giving drink) in his hands, which he gave to the Gods. Dhanvantari was Vishnu’s twelfth incarnation. Dhanvantari was also the originator of all medical science.

Lord Dhanvantari

Lord Dhanvantari

13. The Mohini Incarnation

Lord Vishnu took his thirteenth incarnation as a most enchanting woman enchanted the demons by his beautiful appearance of a woman, and took away the pot filled up with ambrosia from them and gave it to the deities. The deities were thus protected from the demons.

Read the full story of Mohini avatar here

14. The man – lion incarnation (Narasimha Avtar)

Lord Vishnu took his fourteenth incarnation as half man and half lion. Vishnu incarnated as Narsimha, upper portion was that of a lion and the lower portion was that of a human. In this Incarnation Vishnu protected Prahlad from his father Hiranyakashipu a demon. . Lord Brahma has blessed Hiranyakashipu that a human being can not kill him. Vishnu incarnated this form and killed Hiranyakashipu by tearing his body apart  by his nails.

21 incarnations of Lord Vishnu – Part 1

Lord Vishnu’s 21 incarnations

Lord Vishnu’s ten incarnations or Dashavataras are famous, but few people know that actually there are twenty one incarnations.As per Hindu Mythology and Puranas, Lord Vishnu has 21 incarnations.

1. Samnak, Sanandan, Sanatan and Sanat- Kumar 

These four Kumaras are the eldest sons of the creator-god Brahma. They are said to be lord Vishnu’s first incarnation. All four brothers studied Vedas from their childhood. They always travelled together. They are said to wander throughout the materialistic and spiritualistic universe without any desire but with purpose to teach. The four Kumaras undertook lifelong vows of celibacy (brahamacharya) against the wishes of their father. They all learned Vedas at an early age of five. The Kumaras remained in form of children due to their spiritual virtues.

kumars

2. The Varaha or Boar Incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Vishnu incarnated as varaha or boar to retrieve the earth. When the demon Hiranyaksha stole the earth (Bhudevi) and hid her in the primordial waters, Vishnu appeared as Varaha to rescue her. Varaha killed  the demon and retrieved the Earth from the ocean, lifting it on his tusks, and restored Bhudevi to her place in the universe.

varah

3. The Narada Incarnation

In many Hindu scriptures, divine sage Narada is considered a saktyavesa-avatara or partial-manifestation (avtar) of God. He is  empowered to perform miraculous tasks on Vishnu’s behalf. In this avtar, Narad became great devotee of Lord Vishnu and is described to be always chanting the name of “Narayan” He also taught the Satvan- Mantra, in this incarnation.

narad

4. The Nara- Narayan incarnation

The hindu deity pair, Nara and Narayan are twin brother incarnation of Vishnu on earth. The twins were son of Dharma and his wife Murti. They came on Earth for the welfare of mankind. They performed great penances at the holy spot of Badrinath.

 

nara narayan

5. The Incarnation of Kapil – The Sage

Kapil, the vedic sage was considered as one of the founder of Samkhya school of philosophy. Hindu mythology regards Kapila as a descendant of Manu, the primal human being, and a grandson of the creator-god Brahma or as an avatar of the god Vishnu. An exemplar of Yogic stringency, Kapila is said to have produced an inner store of such intense heat (tapas) that he was capable of reducing to ashes the 60,000 sons of the Vedic king Sagara. After his father left home, Kapila instructed his mother, Devahuti in the philosophy of yoga and devotional worship of Lord Vishnu, enabling her to achieve liberation (moksha). He is known for teaching a process of liberation known as bhakti yoga.

kapila rishi

6. The Dattatretya Incarnation

Dattatreya had descended into the realm of world as progeny of Atri and Anusuya, a sage couple of the Vedic age.  Dattatretya, taight knowledge to various devotees. The three heads signified as Brahma: ‘Tejas’ personified, Vishnu: ‘Ojas‘ personified, Shiva: ‘Tapas’ personified. Under these heads, illumination of knowledge, vigorosity of action and stringency of penance were represented as three aspects or state of being of the same.

datatretya

7. The Suyash Incarnation

Suyash was born to Prajapati and Akuti. The main thrust of Suyash , teaching was based on the values of helpfulness and protecting each other during the time of crisis. He had rescued a ‘Devagana’ named Yama and also the Manvantar named as ‘Swayambhuva’.

330px-From_a_series_of_Vishnu_Avataras-_Yagya

Lord Hanumana with sindoor

Unknown facts from Ramayana and Lord Hanumana

Ramayana and Lord Hanumana

When it comes to Ramayana and Lord Rama, Lord Hanumana is always remembered. He was a great devotee of Rama, a great scholar and one who was capable of winning all three worlds. But, he set the example to the world and a great lesson in humbleness. These facts are about Ramayana, but Lord Hanumana is an integral part of this.

Lord Rama’ s departure from earth

Ram wouldn’t leave earth as Hanuman wouldn’t allow Yama (God of Death) to enter Ayodhya to claim Ram. To divert Hanuman‘s attention Ram dropped his ring through a crack in the floor and asked Hanuman to fetch it back for him. Going down Hanuman reached the land of serpents and asked the King for Ram’s ring. The king showed Hanuman a vault filled with rings all of which were Ram’s. He told a shocked Hanuman that when in the cycle of time a Ram needs to depart,  he drops a ring down the crack so that a Hanuman can be diverted from his guard.

Why Laxman was younger to Rama but Balrama was elder to Shri Krishna

Laxman complained that he always had to follow Ram’s instructions even though when he thought they were unjust as he the younger brother and thus duty  bound. Ram promised his that in the next life, he, Lakshman would be the elder brother, but also told him that he would still follow his instructions. They were reborn as Balrama and Krishna. And yet Balrama (elder & Shesha Naga) followed Krishna not because of seniority but because Krishna was always right.

Rama and Laxman

Rama and Laxman

Jambavanta wish to fight Lord Rama was fulfilled in next incarnation of Lord Rama

Pleased with his help during the battle with Ravana, Lord Rama granted Jambavanta a wish. Jambavantha then expressed his wish to fight Lord Rama in a duel. Lord Rama said he would definitely fight him but not as Rama. Later in Dwapara yuga, Krishna fought Jambavanta in a duel and defeated him. Jambavantha then realized that it was Lord Rama who in Krishna’s form defeated him.

Lord Krishna and Jambavant

Lord Krishna and Jambavant

How Devi Sita satisfied Lord Hanumana’s hunger

Lord Hanumana once visited Sita in sage Valmiki’s cottage and expressed his desire to eat the food cooked by Sita. Sita cooked many delicacies and started serving Hanumana. But Hanumana’s hunger was insatiable and the entire rations of the cottage were coming to an end. Sita then asked to Lord Rama who suggested her she serve a morsel with a Tulsi Leaf. Sita did the same and Hanumana’s hunger was finally satisfied.

Why Lord Hanumana’s body is covered with vermilion (Sindoor)

Once Lord Hanumana saw Sita applying sindoor (Vermilion) to her hair. He asked her what purpose it served to which Sita replied that it was for the well being and long life of Lord Rama. Then Hanuman smeared his entire body with sindoor for the long life of Lord Rama.

Lord Hanumana with sindoor

Lord Hanumana with sindoor

Why Lord Rama was separated from Sita – Due to Parvati’s curse

After Ravana and his brothers received boons from Lord Brahma, Ravana planned on invading the kingdom of Amaravati, the capital of the heavenly kingdom of Indra. Knowing Ravana’s strength and capability,  Indra consults Narada for help.

Narada tells Indra that Ravana is powerful because his family worships Lord Shiva and that the worship in turn gives them such tremendous power. Narada then suggests Indra that he disrupt Kaikesi’s (Ravan’s Mother) worship of a Linga which is made of sand. Indra disrupts the prayer by destroying the Linga. Knowing this Ravana then promises Kaikesi that he will perform penance and bring Lord Shiva’s Aatma Linga for her to worship.

Goddess Parvathi comes to know about Ravana’s penance and fears that Lord Shiva might leave Kailasa and go to earth forever. Narada then suggests Goddess Parvathi that she seek Lord Vishnu’s help in this matter. Lord Shiva impressed by Ravana’s penance grants him a wish. Lord Vishnu then uses his magic to trick Ravana into asking Goddess Parvathi’s hand from lord Shiva instead of the Aatma Linga. Shiva grants Ravana’s wish. Goddess Parvathi then curses Lord Vishnu that he will also be seperated from his spouse the next time he is born as a human.

This curse laid the path for Sita’s abduction and the Ramayana.

 

Nag Panchami

Nag Panchmi festival

The Story of Nag Panchmi festival

Nag Panchami

Nag Panchami

Nag Panchmi festival is celebrated on fifth day of Shravan month of Shukla Paksha. The interesting story behind this festival is related to Pandavas. It happened that Raja Parikshit was killed after a snake bite. His son Janmejaya, vowed to decimate the whole race of snakes by performing a yagya. This yagya was stopped by intervention of Astika, who was son of Jaratkaru. Since this yagya was stopped on fifth day of shukla paksha of Shravan, Nag Panchmi is celebrated on this day.

A temple opens on this day only in Mahakaleshwar shrine

Nagchandreshwar darshan happens in a year only on the fifth day of the Shukla Paksha of Shravan month.The temple opens its doors annually only on Nag Panchmi.The temple will open after proper worship and religious ceremonies to facilitate devotees to pay obeisance to the deity.

Mahakal Nagpanchmi

Mahakal Nagpanchmi

Astika saves Nagas

Astika was born to Sage Jaratkaru. He was a brilliant scholar, and was very learned in the Vedas and scriptures. When he was about sixteen, King Janamejaya performed the great snake-sacrifice with the aim of destroying all the snakes.

The sacrifice performed in the presence of Janamejaya was so powerful that it was causing all snakes to fall into the Yagna kunda (sacrificial fire pit). When the priests found that only Takshaka who had bitten and killed Parisksihit had escaped to the nether world of Indra seeking his protection, the sages increased the tempo of reciting the mantras (spells) to drag Takshaka and also Indra to the sacrificial fire. Takshaka had coiled himself around Indra’s cot but the force of the sacrificial yagna was so powerful that even Indra along with Takshaka were dragged towards the fire. This scared the gods who then appealed to Manasa devi to intervene and resolve the crisis. She then requested her son Astika to go to the site of the yagna and appeal to Janamejaya to stop the Sarpa Satra yagna.

At his mother’s request, Astika went to the sacrifice, and obtained a boon from Janamejaya that the snake-sacrifice should be abandoned mid way. Thus he fulfilled the purpose of his birth, saving his kinsmen, the snakes from utter destruction.

 

Other legends of Nag Panchmi

This festival has rich mythological overtones, starting from the tremendous victory of Lord Krishna over the huge Kaliya in the Yamuna River. We have a further reference to Seshnag, the king of serpents, who was tamed by Lord Vishnu, as pictured in Ananda Padmanabha temple in Trivandrum of Kerala. The deity in the temple is Lord Vishnu, sleeping on the body of Seshnag. No wonder, the Keralites deem Nag Punchami as a huge festival and adore snakes on the day with piety. It is also considered as paying homage to Manasa, the serpent Goddess sister of Vasuki, the Snake who was used as a rope by the Devas and Asuras to churn the Milky Ocean.

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Mahavishnu Idol

Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple Mahavishnu Idol

Nag Puja is carried out in Assam, Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa in reverence of all snakes which have such a magnificent role in mythology. In Punjab, people celebrate Manasa Devi Ashtanag Puja (Guga Navami) by making a huge snake from flour and worshipping it. It is not only with Lord Vishnu, the greatness of snakes is associated; it is also with Lord Shiva- which is a very clear transparent concept, since it is the snake around the neck of Lord Shiva which inspires awe and piety on the very first look of the deity. Moreover in the Puranas, there is a reference to Brahma’s son’s wife as the mother of all nags.

There is also a mythological story about a goddess Sathyeshwari, whose brother Sathyeshwar died before the day of Nag Panchami. She grieved over the death of her brother without eating anything. She saw her brother in the form of a cobra and believed that it was her brother. So, Nagdev promised her that he would protect any woman who deems a cobra as her brother and worships it. Hence, it became the habit of Hindu women to worship snakes for the longevity and safety of their brothers on this day.

Story of serpent and farmer

In the context of Nag Panchami, many stories are famous. As per one of the story, a farmer used to live in a state with his two sons and one daughter. One day while ploughing the field, three children of snakes came under it and died. After the death of Naag(male snake), at first, Naagin(female snake) expressed sorrow by mourning, then, planed to take the revenge from the murderer of its sons.

In the darkness of night, Naagin, killed the farmer, his wife and his two sons by biting them. Next day morning, Naagin(she-serpent) came to bite the farmers daughter. The girl kept a bowl full of milk and joined hands for forgiveness,in front of Naagin. By this gesture of the girl, Naagin got happy and gave back the lives of farmer, his wife and two sons.

That day it was,Panchami Tithi of Shukla Paksha in Shravan Maas. From that day, to be safe of Serpent’s anger, they are worshiped on this day and Naag Panchami is celebrated.