Seven unknown facts about Lord Shiva

Nandi and 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.

 

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 ?

blowing 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 ?

mala japa

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 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

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 ?

bells in mandir

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.

Seven unknown facts about Lord Kartikeya

Lord Murugan

Lord Kartikeya

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

His birth was to kill demon Tarakasura

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

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

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

Why he is known as Shanmukha

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

Lord Shanmukha
Lord Shanmukha

Skandmata

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

Why his flag contains a picture of Rooster (cock)

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

Lord Kartikeya
Lord Kartikeya

Why he is called Swaminatha

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

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

Lord Swaminatha
Lord Swaminatha

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Kartikeya’s appearance

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

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

Lord Murugan
Lord Murugan

His Consorts

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

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

Marriage of Lord Skanda

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

Festivals

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

 The Kavadi Attam or Kanwar

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

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

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

Seven unknown facts of Lord Rama

Lord Rama with his brothers, Sita and Hanumana

Seven unknown and untold facts about Lord Rama

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

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

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

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

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

Lord Rama with his brothers, Sita and Hanumana
Lord Rama with his brothers, Sita and Hanumana

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

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

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

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

Seven sacred plants and trees for Hindus

Lotus plant - A symbol of purity

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
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
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
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
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.