Categories
Karna Series of Seven Unknown Facts

Tragic facts – Karna

Karna was the eldest son of Kunti. He was born with blessings of Lord Surya before Kunti was wedded, so Kunti did not raised him. He, being the eldest and most deserving, had to live his life in obscurity. The only fault was his timing of birth, where he had no control over. Read some of the fate’s cruelty imparted to him.

Parshuram’s curse on Karna

Parashurama, an incarnation of Vishnu was the teacher of Karna. He was against Kshatriyas and never wanted to teach them. Karna lied to him in order to learn from him. One afternoon,  Parashurama requested him to bring a pillow to sleep on under a tree shade. Karna instead offered his lap to his guru. While Parashurama was fast asleep a giant bee stung Karna’s thigh, despite of the severe pain Karna didn’t move so as not to disturb his guru’s sleep. As the bee bored deeper the wound began to bleed.  Parashurama was woken by the blood from Karna’s thigh.

Parshurama sleeping in Karna’s lap

Then Parashurama deduced at once that Karna is a kshatriya and not a Brahmin because a brahmin  can not endure such pain. So, he cursed him that all his martial skill including use of Brahmastra would desert him when he needed them most.This meant that he would forget all that he had learned from Parashurama during his hours of crisis. He was unaware of his royal lineage pleaded that any student in his place would do the same and he was son of Vasusena,  a mere charioteer and not a kshatriya.

Parshurama’s curse to Karna

Though Parashurama regretted cursing him in a moment of anger as his curse was irrevocable. He gifted him a celestial weapon Bhargavastra along with his personal bow called Vijaya and blessed him with everlasting glory and immortal fame.

Karna kills a cow accidentally

Departing from Parashuram’s ashram he wandered for some time. On his way he killed a cow that was rushing towards him by shooting an arrow. Incensed by this incident, the brahmin who owned the cow cursed. He said as he had killed a helpless animal, he too would be killed in the same way i.e. when he was most helpless with his concentration being diverted away from his enemy at that crucial moment.

Curse by Bhoomi Devi

Once he was riding his chariot in his kingdom of Anga. He encountered a child who was crying over her pot of spilt ghee. On asking her reason, she stated that she feared her step mother would be angry over her carelessness.  Being generous enough he told her that he would give her new ghee. But the child insisted that she wanted only the ghee which was mixed with the soil and refused to take new ghee. Taking pity on the girl, took the soil mixed with ghee in his fist and squeezed it with all his might to extract the ghee and pour it back into the pot.During this process, Karna heard the agonised voice of a  women. When he opened his fist he realised it was voice of Bhoomidevi, furious Bhoomidevi chastised him for inflicting enormous pain for sake of mere child so, she cursed him that in a very crucial battle of life she would trap his chariot wheel in the same way that he held the fistful of soil.

Thus he was cursed on three separate and independent occasions. Unfortunately, each of these curses became operational at the same crucial moment in the kurukshetra war thus making him weapon less, left without chariot and helpless. These three curses are the main reason of his fall.

Generous Karna

On the eve of Mahabharat battle, Lord Indra disguised as an old Brahamin went to him and asked for his Kavach and Kundal in daan (alms) Indra asked for this gift so as to reduce his strength, as he was  apprehensive that Karna by virtue of his phenomenal skill as a warrior would defeat Arjuna. Karna was being cautioned by by Sun God about such move of Lord Indra. But he was so large hearted that he could not refuse anyone and inspite of knowing that Indra is playing a trick he parted his kawach and kundal, which were part of his body since birth and made him invincible. Indra was pleased with his generosity and granted him a vardan (boon). Karna asked for his weapon shakti which can destroy any enemy Indra granted him that on a condition that he can use it only once.

Karna giving Kavach to Indra

When Karna was on his death bed, Lord Indra and Surya had a dispute regarding his generosity. To settle this they disguise as a beggar and asked for alms. He responded that he had nothing left with him for them. The beggar replied that he had some gold on his tooth which would be valuable for them. On realizing this fact, he took a stone and broke his tooth and gave it to beggar, epitomizing the ‘way of life’ he led.

Karna born with Kavach and Kundal

Karna’s promise to Kunti

As the war approached Kunti met his son to reveal his true identity. Kunti asked him to join Pandavas and become king. He stated that he can’t betray his friend Duryodhan. However he promised that he would not attempt to kill any of the Pandavas except Arjuna. He knew very well that Arjun is under the divine aegis of lord Krishna and hence invincible. This way he would be able to pay off Duryodhan’s debt while performing the duties of elder brother. So he told Kunti that she could only keep her 5 sons being him or Arjuna.

Karna in battle field

Bhishma, the commander in chief of Kaurava’s refused his participation in war under his leadership saying that Karna has insulted his guru Parshuram by insulting Draupadi and nobody insulting his guru can fight under my leadership. Bhisma also knew about Karna’s true ancestry and did not want him to fight against his own brothers . Consequently Karna entered the battle field only on 11th day after the fall of Bhisma on 10th day.

Birth of Karna

He was born before his mother Kunti was married to  prince Pandu. Kunti was granted a boon from sage Durvasa who was very pleased with her service and hospitality. The boon was that she can call upon any God to beget a child. Out of curiosity Kunti still being unmarried wanted to test the power of mantra. She invoked the mantra and called Sun God (Surya), bound by the power of mantra Surya appeared and handed her a son, who was radiant and robust as Surya himself. the baby had a Kavach (armour) and kundal (ear ring) attached to his body. Though Kunti didn’t physically give birth to the baby, she was unwilling to face the world as an unwed mother so she placed Karna in a basket and set him float on the holy river Ganga.

He was founded by charioteer, he and his wife Radha raised him and named him Vasusena. He was also known as Radheya after her foster mother.

Birth of Karna and Kunti letting him go away

Karna as king of Ang Desh

Once Drona held a competition in Hastinapur to find out who is the best warrior among all the princes. Arjuna was the winner At that time Karna came forward and did all that Arjuna could do but he was not accepted as competitor because he was a son of a charioteer. This was a great disrespect which he has suffered in front of the public. Kunti was also sitting in the audience was a mute spectator she did not dare to say that Karna was her son. At this time Duryodhan came forward and made him king of Ang Desh. This made him a friend and follower of Duryodhan for life.

Karna, a loyal friend

On the onset of war of Mahabharat, his mother Kunti met him and revealed his identity and asked him to take the side of Pandavas. He replied that he can’t betray his friend Duryodhana. Krishna also revealed his identity and asked him to join Pandava side. Krishna assured also him that being the eldest Pandava, he will be given the crown of Hastinapur but  he refused this enormous offer for his friend Duryodhan. Though Krishna was sad with his decision but appreciated his loyalty.

Categories
Indian Mythology Lord Shiva Popular Articles Series of Seven

Lord Shiva facts

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 had six sons

Shiva’s first son is Lord Ayyapa and not Lord Ganesha or Lord Kartikeya. People often forget that Shiva had more than just two sons. Shiva had 6 sons (Ayyapa, Andhaka, Bhauma, Khuja, Ganesh, and Karthikeya/Subramanya) and one daughter (Ashok Sundari).

Lord Ayappa, Ganesha and Kartikeya – Three sons of Shiva

Of these children, Ayyappa was oldest and Ganesha and Kartikeya are actually the youngest children.
Lord Ayyappa was born out of the union between God Shiva and Mohini, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Ganesha and Kartikeya came long after Ayyappa, Andhaka, Bhauma, Khuja, and Ashok Sundari. It is believed Ashok Sundari was present at the time Ganesha was beheaded.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

Read the story of Lord Shiva marriage to Parvati here.

Lord Shiva stories

Categories
Indian Mythology Series of Seven

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

 

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

 

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

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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

 

 

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.

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.

 

Categories
Indian Mythology Series of Seven

Seven Unknown facts about religious rituals

Unknown, untold facts about religious rituals

There are many things which we do without questioning, why? Because we have seen others doing it. This becomes a practice or rather a rule.  Probably, we are scared that if  these things are not performed as it is always done we may face something wrong or we do not care at all.  Every little act though done as a practice has  a special significance and it has a purpose, although we are unaware of this. Here, I would like to share about the significance of few rituals which are practiced on daily basis without knowing its importance.

1. What is the significance in blowing the conch shell ?

Conch shell is often blown during puja, aarti or in mandir. This is done basically to drown all other disturbances and thought and to elevate the mind to a prayerful mood. In ancient times it was blown before a battle field began or to proclaim victory in war. Lord Vishnu always holds conch in one of his four hands,  symbolizing dharma or righteousness.

2. Why mala (garland of beads) is used for chanting Gods name ?

We often use mala to do japa. Mala is generally made of tulsi, rudraksha, and bilva. A mala has 108 beads with a large bead called sumeru at its centre. Mala is placed on the second finger of the right hand and beads are turned in clockwise direction with the thumb. While chanting one should not cross the sumeru but reverse the direction to resume chanting.

Mala is used to allow one to focus one’s thought on God. The Practice of chanting God’s name is Sadhna which calms and purifies the mind from agitation and worldly thoughts.

3. Why holy ash is applied on forehead ?

Holy ash or bhasma is the ash of wood , ghee, grains and herbs offered in Yajna(sacred fire). It is applied on forehead as a round mark (chandraka) or tripundra (three horizontal lines) and some rub it all over their body. This is done to purify the body and protect from ill health. It is believed that this helps to destroy evil,consolidate one’s spirit of renunciation,and inspire mental awareness of God.

4. why is Kalash worshipped in puja rituals?

Kalash is considered auspicious. It is generally a brass, bronze or copper pot filled with water some mango leaves or aam pallava (leaves of Mango tree) are placed in the pot then a coconut is placed on the top. A red and white thread is tied on the neck.

Such kalash is placed on all important occasions before the image of God. During Churning of Ocean Lord Dhanvantaritw appeared with a kalash of amruta. The Kalash symbolizes immortality and divinity.

Also, through chanting of mantras the water of all holy rivers , the knowledge of all vedas and the blessings of all deities are invoked in kalash, and thereafter the holy water is used for performing rituals and sprinkling upon devotees.

5. Why is bell rung in mandir (temples) and also during worship rituals ?

Ringing a bell produces an auspicious sound. By doing so before darshan of a deity,  it makes the mind and heart auspicious and holy. Also, during aarti the bell, drum and conch are sounded to drown other worldly disturbances, calm one’s thought and to facilitate one’s senses and mind to focus on God.

6. Why we offer food to deity before eating ?

God is supreme, the creator and sustain-er of all life. Whichever seed we sow, cultivate and finally harvest are because of his blessing and grace. So, out of gratitude and devotion to God’s we offer a vegetarian meal to him twice daily, once in the morning and then another in the evening. After the food is graced by him it becomes prasada. The prasada when eaten with gratitude purifies the mind and senses.

7. After saying a prayer, why is shanti chanted thrice ?

Shanti means peace. Generally after saying prayer one says Om Shantihi, Shantihi,Shantihi. Shanti is said thrice to express an intense desire for peace and to be liberated from misery and obstacles.

The devotee pray to God to free from such problems or obstacles in their daily work or special task. The word Shanti is chanted thrice, The first addresses the unseen forces of devas, the second Shantihi is chanted softer and derected towards man and the surrounding circumstances. The final Shantihi is chanted the most softly as it is addressed directly to one’s own mind.

Categories
Indian Mythology Series of Seven

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

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.”

Categories
Herbs Indian Mythology Series of Seven

Seven sacred plants and trees for Hindus

Seven Sacred plants and trees and their importance

We all know that we are dependent on plants and trees for our survival, or in other words we can’t survive without them. Though modern man makes strident effort to conquer nature, but this is well known that Hinduism has always given importance to nature. These days, we can find people campaigning for animal rights and environmental care.  Hindus have harbored these caring sentiments since millennium. Hindus respect most flora and fauna. Hinduism also preaches to regard some trees and plants sacred, and to use as much part of trees and plants as is required and to apologize or pray to them before plucking flowers, fruits or leaves.

To name a few, certain plants and trees like tulsi, pipal, banyan, coconut, etc.have a special spiritual significance due to their association with deities, and they are worshipped or offered to God.

 Tulsi

For Hindus, Tulsi is considered as one of the most sacred plant.Tulsi or Basil is considered to be very dear to Bhagvan Vishnu and it is also known as Haripriya. One can find a tulsi plant in every Hindu house. The lady of the house daily worships, light a lamp, water the plant and circumambulate it. The leaves of the plant are offered to lord in pujas. Offerings are considered incomplete if these leaves are not used in worship. Tulsi also symbolizes goddess Laxmi, hence known as Vishnupriya. Tulsi is also a very important herbal plant used in ayurvedic medicine. It is no coincidence that this plant has got so many medicinal values and it is considered as a pious herb.

Tulsi – A sacred plant

 

Banyan tree

Banyan tree is an important tree and  also called ‘Kalpavriksha’, meaning ‘wish fulfilling divine tree. Married women worship banyan tree annually in June on Vat-savitri Purnima, with flowers, rice grains, milk and by winding thread around the trunk. Hindu women worship banyan tree for happiness and long life of husband.

Bael tree

The leaves of the plants, bael patra are considered to be very sacred. The leaves of this tree are very dear to Lord Shiva and they are used in worshipping the Lord Shiva. Inthe holy month of Shravan, [July or August], devotees of Lord  Shiva offer bael patra on Shivlinga while chanting , “Om Namah Shivaya”. It is said that  Lord Shiva is appeased by this and devotees receive his blessings.

Bael-Fruit-Plant – dear to Lord Shiva

Pipal tree

Pipal tree has got importance in various religions. Not only Hindus but Buddhists and Jains consider this pipal tree to be sacred. It is also known as Sacred Fig or Bodh-tree. Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment under the Bodh- tree. Thus the tree is also known as Bodhi tree. It is well known symbol of happiness, prosperity, longevity and good luck. Hindu sadhu meditate under Bo- tree. For certain Buddhists, this tree is often the site of Buddhist and animist shrines.

Pipal Tree

Ankol and akado plant

Ankol flowers are white and black in colour, whereas akado are either white or reddish. Flowers of the plant are dear to Lord Hanumana, thus garland of these flowers are offered to him.

Lotus flower

The lotus symbolizes truth (satyam), auspiciousness (shivam) and beauty (sundaram). Since God is attributed with same virtue of satyam, shivam and sundarm, many parts of his body are compared to lotus: lotus eyes, lotus feet, lotus hand, and he is described as lotus of our heart. Lotus grows in muddy water or ponds, yet remains beautiful, pure and unsoiled by the dirt.This means that even if one is born in an unholy family like Prahlad or in the lower caste, one can blossom to perfection. Inspite of living in a bad world a person can remain pure and be good.

Lotus plant – A symbol of purity

Mango tree

This tree is another auspicious tree in Hindu religion.Mango leaves are considered very sacred. Leaves are tied at the entrance (toran). It is said to absorb negative energy from entering your home. Mango also represent Kama, the God of Fertilty.  It is put in kalash to worship Varun, God of rain. Mango leaves are also used for pouring ghee in havan.

Apart from above sacred plants and trees, Banana leaves are also considered to be of great importance. Similarly, coconut trees also hold a significant place in Hindu mythology.

Categories
Bhima Indian Mythology Series of Seven

Seven little known facts of Bhima

Bhima – a wise person

Contray to belief that he was strong and could be easily provoked, few of  know that he was a level headed person and he had a good sense of good and bad. Following are the few stories which uncover a part of him, which is sensitive. Read on.

Airavat – The vehicle of Indra danced to the tunes of Bhima

One of the exploits of Bhima was to bring Airavat, the vehicle of Indra from heaven. Once, a ritual was to be performed by Kunti and Gandhari, which required Airavat to be present.

Airawat – The vehicle of Indra

Kauravas made the elephant out of mud and performed the ritual but Bhima brought original Airawat to do the ritual. Arjuna facilitated by making a path of arrows from heaven to earth.
Bhima then starts his way and fights with the elephant and brings it down to earth. Kunti, thus performed the ritual with grandeur as compared to kauravas.

Humble Bhima

Perhaps the strongest person in the world at that point of time, but he was humility personified. When Shri Krishna asked them to provide an account of their powers, Bhima was most modest. Shri Krishna later told him that actually he was thousand times more accomplished than what he thinks of himself.

The greatest praise to him comes from Duryodhana. He names Bhima, Balarama, Keechaka and Shalya as the best warriors and the strongest. He named Bhima as the first person.

The righteous Bhima

He was not only the strongest person on earth, he had the measure of good and bad and was never afraid of saying the right things. During the game of dice, Bhima is the one who opposed the whole incident.

Yudhishthira playing Dice game

He rebukes Yudhishthira for getting into the game by suggesting that his hands should be burnt. When Arjuna tells him that he cannot do that to his older brother, Bhima reveals to everyone the Dharma that when elders commit mistakes, younger ones have to make it known and that mere mentioning of a punishment is enough and actual execution is not required. Thus Bhima punishes Yudhishthira for wrong doing, which is commendable and shows that he had an astute mind. He later on vowed to break Duryodhana’s thighs and drink blood from Dushashana’s heart.

Escape from Lakshagriha would not have possible without him

While Pandavas were trying to escape Lakshagriha, there was a long tunnel made which connected the palace to the outer world. The path was long and could have tired all the Pandavas while escaping. The mighty Bhima, carried all pandavas and his mother on his soldiers and took them to safety. His strength and power indeed came handy while escaping Lakshagriha.

Pandavas escaping from Lakshagriha

He left his wife for his brothers and mother

While Pandavas escaped the fire of Lakshagriha, they were spending time in a forest. That forest was the abode of demon Hidimb and his sister, Hidimba. When Hidimb came to know about the five brothers and their mother, He ordered Hidimba to make kill the pandavas as they will become his food. As Bhima was guarding Pandavas, Hidimba could not do as instructed. Enraged, Hidimb himself ventured out in quest of human flesh, but was duly killed by Bhima.
After killing Hidimb, Bhima wanted to kill Hidimba too as he thought that she might want to avenge her brother’s death. But the almighty has other ideas. Hidimba was attracted to Bhima and wanted to marry, but he declines, as he did not want to be away from his brothers. Hidimba then begged Kunti to allow Bhima to marry her as she was deeply in love with him and also because she was all alone now. After pondering for a while, Kunti ordered Bhima to marry Hidimba. Bhima reluctantly agreed on the condition that he could leave her once she bore a child with him. She agreed and they got married. Within a year, Hidimba gave birth to a son and Bhima left her to be with his brothers.

 

Kichaka’s, the mighty warrior punished for untowards advances towards Draupadi

Another deed of Bhima was of killinh of Kichaka. Kichaka was the commander of Matsya desh, where pandavas were hiding in agyaatvaas. Once he rteurns fromthe war and gets attracted to Draupadi, who eas acting as sairandhri. Against the advise of queen. he starts to make improper advances towrds her. In dire need of help, Bhimasena comes to her rescue. Draupadi calls Kichaka in a forest there Bhima was waiting for him.. Afetr a great fight. kichaka was killed by Bhima. He had 105 brothers, who wanted to burn Draupadi alongwith their brother, they also met the same fate as of Kichaka.

Bhima killing Kichaka

Bhima’s family and wives

Besides Draupadi, Bhima had two more wives. One was the demon Hidimba, who had a son called Ghatotkacha. He played an important role in the Kurukshetra war. From Draupadi, he begotten a son called Sutasoma. Third of his wives was Balandhara, who was the daughter of ruler of Kashi. His name was Satsoma. He later became the King of Kashi. This is notable that he did not ascend to the throne after Yudhishthira despite being elder to Parikshit. Ghatotkacha and Sutasoma have both died in the war of Mahabharata.

Categories
Arjuna Indian Mythology Mahabharat Series of Seven

Seven little known facts about Arjuna

Arjuna, the gifted archer of his times, has struggled and humbled few times. Being a good disciple, he had the liking of his Guru and Lord Krishna, which provided him invaluable edge. Presented here are some of the lesser knows stories of Arjuna.

Arjuna’s son sacrificed himself before Kurukshetra war

Iravan, was the son of Arjuna from princess Uloopi. Before the start of the Mahabharata war, he agreed to be sacrificed to Goddess Kali to ensure victory for Pandavas. But he had a wish to be married before he died and this created a problem.
There was no girl who would be willingly married to a person who was about to die. Enter Shri Krishna. He became Mohini and married Iravan thus fulfilling his last wish. Not only this, after the death of Iravan, Mohini wept and was sorrowful like a widow.

 

Shri Krishna and Iravan

Uloopi’s boon

While on exile, Uloopi, a naga princess, fell in love with Arjuna. One day, while Arjuna was taking bath, he was abducted by the princess and she explained that she plans to marry her. Arjuna said that he was in exile and if it is alright to marry, then let it be. Sooner, Arjuna married her and Uloopi granted him a boon that no amphibious creature would be able to defeat him. Uloopi also restored Arjuna’s life when he was killed by Babhruvahana.

The salvation of crocodiles

When Arjuna was in exile, he reached a ashram. In those ashram, sages told him to help them for crocodiles who do not allow any living thing to bathe and perform other activities. Arjuna promised to help them as he was protected by a boon from Uloopi, his wife.
Soon, he entered the lake and took the crocodile to the surface. The crocodile turned into a woman and said that she was under a curse from a sage after she and her four friends disturbed the sage. Her name was Varga. The sage said that when brave warrior pulls them out of the water. the curse will end. She now asked him to help her friends as well. as they are also living as crocodile. Arjuna obliged and freed Saurabha, Samichi, Lata, and Budbuda.

Arjuna pulls out the crocodile

 

Arjuna saves Drona from crocodile and wins Brahmastra

This is an interesting story that Arjuna came in possession of Brahmastra. One day, a crocodile caught Drona. He could have easily defended himself, but wanted to test his students. He cried for help, and seeing this situation, everyone became clueless. But Arjuna knew what to do and soon enough, he release arrows to kill the crocodile. Guru Dronacharya was extremely happy with Arjuna’s presence of mind and applying his skills in a life situation.

He soon given him the knowledge of Brahmastra, complete with the means for launching and withdrawing it , which could make him invincible. This is notable that Drona did not part this information with his own son, Ashwaththama, his son.

Drona providing knowledge of Brahmastra to Arjuna

Arjuna wanted to kill Yudhishthira

Strange but true, Arjuna indeed wanted to kill Yudhishthira. This is when Karna was the commander of Kaurava’s army and he defeated Yudhishthira. The eldest pandava was ashamed of this and he hoped that Arjuna would take his revenge. But he came to knew that this did not happen, so Yudhishthira started to say ill things to Arjuna and asked him to leave his weapons as they are of no use. Arjuna was under an oath that he wpuld kill anyone who asked to part with his weapons. As his elder brother said to relinquish his weapons, Arjuna was bound to kill his brother. Lord Krishna again saved the day for Pandavas when he suggested a way out of this.

Arjuna was defeated by Kirata and wins Pashupatastra

Before the start of battle of Kurukshetra, Arjuna went for search of weapons. This was to ensure that Pandavas win the battle with the help of these weapons. Once, he encountered a wild boar on which a Kirata also lay claim. Sooner a fight broke between these two and eventually Arjuna was defeated. It was later revealed that the hunter was none other than Lord Shiva.
Lord provided him with his own weapon – pashupatastra. The whole story can be read here.

When Arjuna was humbled

Arjuna was an ace archer and naturally he became proud of the skills he possessed. Once, while on a pilgrimage, he happened to come across Hanumana. This place was Rameshwaram, where the bridge to Lanka was made by vanaras.

The challenge between Arjuna and Hanumana

Arjuna boasted before Hanumana, saying that “Lord Rama need not have asked the monkeys to build a bridge. If I were here, I would have built a bridge with arrows.” “A bridge of your arrows! Leave alone the Vanara army, it will crumble under my feet” replied Hanuman. Well, it developed into a challenge. It was decided that Arjuna should erect a bridge with his arrows and Hanuman should walk on it. If the bridge collapsed, Arjuna should jump into fire; otherwise, Hanuman must adorn Arjuna’s banner.

The Bridge was built

True to his word, Arjuna soon built a bridge with his arrows. When Hanumana tested the bridge and set a foot on it, the bridge disintegrated into thousand pieces. Arjuna got ready to jump into the fire.

Lord Krishna arrived

Arjuna and Hanumana

Just then, Shri Krishna reached the place. He asked them to repeat their performances. When Arjuna erected the arrow-bridge, Krishna touched the bridge with his divine hands as if to test it. Then when Hanuman danced on it heavily, it did not even shake. Hanuman was shocked and then realised that Krisha is none other than Rama. Hanuman kept his word and entered Arjuna’s banner.

This story is similar to Bhima and Hanumana story where Bhima was humbled by Hanumana.

Further reading:

Seven little known facts from the Mahabharata(2)

Seven little known facts about Karna from the Mahabharata

Pandavas exile – seven little known facts from the Mahabharata (3)

Seven unknown facts about Karna

When incarnation of Lord Vishnu could not defeat his bhakta

Seven unknown facts about Mahabhrata
Categories
Indian Mythology Series of Seven

Seven reasons why you would not like to be Arjuna

Seven reasons why you would not like to be Arjuna

I am sure you would be surprised by this but please be patient. I am going to write few facts which are not unknown, and then you probably will agree with me.

1. He had to share his wife with his four brothers. Imagine someone winning the hand of the most beautiful girl in the land in a tough competition and then share her straight away.

Arjuna winning Draupadi’s hand

2. Had to be exiled for no fault of his. In a bid to save a Brahmin’s cow, he entered the room which was shared by Draupadi and Yudhishthir. So he was banished by entering the room where his wife was present whose hand he had won.
3. His father in law was Drupad and teachcr was Drona. These two were worst enemies. Now you, put yourself in that position when your mentor and your wife’s father at loggerheads. It is like that place when you are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

4. When Krishna praised his rival Karna in Kurukshetra. Being the best archer in business, you suddenly realize that your best friend is praising someone else and that someone else is your chief enemy.

Krishna and Arjuna

5. This is no brainer. You are faced with the inevitable to fight with your brothers, gurus and everyone you respected.

6. When he had to resort to not so straight methods of overpowering his opponents. He had to break the rules of battle to kill his enemies, e.g. Karna.

7. To be penalized for being decent l. In swargalok, when Urvashi proposed and later cursed him for denying a union with her. Poor him.

Arjuna and Urvashi

I have not listed the sorrow of losing his son, Abhimanyu here,  as war takes away lives.  Above facts are the ones where he had to fight with the education,system, principles he had been taught and was living with. How would someone cope with these contradictions. Think.

Categories
Indian Mythology Mahabharat Series of Seven

Seven great warriors and how they died in mahabharata – in pictures

Death of various great warriors in Mahabharata war

 

Mahabharata was was fought over for eighteen days. The major part saw the prowess of Bhishma. He was on the verge of decimating pandavas army single-handedly, before Shikhandi came to the rescue of Pandavas. Following is a brief on how the great warriors were neutralized and killed.

End of Duryodhana

Bhima vowed that he would avenge Draupadi’s insult by breaking his thighs. Also, due to a boon from Gandhari, his body became invulnerable except for thighs. During his duel with Duryodhana in mahabharata war, Bhima broke Duryodhana’s thighs. Balrama fiercely protested but calmed by Krishna.

Bhima killed all the Kaurava’s, most notable of those were of Duryodhana’s and Dushashana’s.

Duel between Bhima and Duryodhana

 

Duryodhana killed by Bhima in Mahabharata

Drona’s Death

Drona was proving too much for the pandava’s army on the fifteenth day of the mahabharata war. In a desperate bid  to be saved from the onslaught, they resorted to some less than wanted tactic. On advise of Shri Krishna, Bhima claimed that his son, Ashwaththama is slain. Drona clarified this from Yudhishthira and went into meditation. He was killed by Dhrishtdyumna, son of Drupad.

Dhrishtdyumna killing Drona (The teacher of princes) in the battle of Mahabharat

End of Bhishma

Bhishma was the son of Shantanu and Ganges. He was the supreme commander of Kauravas in the mahabharata war. He himself let pandavas know the secret of his downfall. Otherwise, he was proving to be too much for pandavas and got Sri Krishna agitated as well.

Bhishma falling in kurukshetra battle field

 

Bhishma leaving his body in presence of Shri Krishna

Abhimanyu’s unjust killing

Abhimanyu was the son of Arjuna and Subhadra and was a great warrior. His unjust killing in mahabarata led to the killing of Kauravas.

Abhimanyu trapped in chakravyuha

Only Abhimanyu had the knowledge of penetrating a chakravyuha. Drona plans a chakravyuha to capture Yudhishthira, but Abhimanyu was there for his rescue. But the boy did not know how to come out of that and though he was surrounded by all warriors including Duryodhana, Karna and others, yet he was proving difficult to overcome. At last, against the rules of war, he was killed by son of Dushashana after a mace fight.

Abhimanyu fought valiantly

Abhimanyu killed by Dushashana’s son on thirteenth day of Mahabharata war.

Karna – a death due to curses

In the war of kurukshetra, Karna’s chariot got stuck in the mud. He was unable to fight due to a curse from his teacher, Parshurama.

Karna chariot stuck in mud

Arjuna killed him with the weapon anjalika while he was trying to retrieve the wheel. At this point of time, he was sans any weapon, which was against the rules of the war.

Arjuna kills Karna

Dushashana for his wrongdoing

During Draupadi’s cheerharan, Dushashan dragged her in the courtroom by holding her hair. Draupadi vowed that she would not tie her hair until they are wet with the blood of Dushashan heart. She asked Bhim to bring the blood of Dushashana after killing him. Bhima obliged.

Dushashan dragging Draupadi in courtroom

 

Dushashana and Bhima

Jayadratha by Arjuna – Shri Krishna’s masterstroke

Jayadrath was Duryodhana’s brother in law. He was once insulted by Pandavas when he tried to abduct Draupadi. After severe penance, he obtained a boon from Lord Shiva. Due to this, he became the reason of Abhimanyu’s death. Arjuna vowed and killed him on the next day of the war. Of course, with help of Shri Krishna.

Jayadratha killed by Arjuna