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Festival Indian Mythology

The festival of Kartik Poornima (Kartik Purnima)

The festival of Kartik Poornima (Purnima)

Though Kartik Poornima is not treated as a full-fledged festival, there are enough mythological stories which suggest that this is a very important day in hindu religion.
Both moon days of the month Kartik, (full moon and no moon) are auspicious. Many will not comprehend Kartik Amavasya, as it is better known as Diwali. Kartik Poornima has even more importance as it is called Dev Diwali ( the diwali of gods). This is the day when gods celebrate the victory of good over evil.
This festival underlines the importance of Lord Shiva. This festival is second only to Mahashivratri. Shiva relieved the earth by killing Tripurasuras.
Tripasura are the three sons of  TarakasuraVidyunmali, Tarakaksha and Viryavana. Due to a boon from Lord Brahma, they were virtually immortal. They were living comfortably in the city of Tripura. Gods pleaded Shiva to destroy them which Shiva denied. Then they pleaded Vishnu and he found a solution to their problem. Vishnu created a person to propagate an alternate form of religion. This religion was slowly accepted by the three sons of Tarakasura. They stopped following the teachings of Veda and worshipping Shiva. Lord Shiva then destroyed the city of Tripura with Pashupata astra. The chariot was created by Vishwakarma.

Shiva killing Tripusura

For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Tripurari.

Kartik Poornina is also associated with following important occasions:
1. Birth of Kartikeya, son of Lord Shiva.
2. Birth of Matasya (Matsya) avatar, an incarnation of Vishnu.
3. Birth of Vrinda, the personifield form of Tulsi.

The festival is more significant when this is in the Krittika nakshatra. It is then called Maha Kartik. If the nakshatra is Bharani, the results are stated to be special. In Rohini nakshatra, then the fruitful results are even much more.
A ritual bath at a tirtha (a sacred water body like a lake or river) at a pilgrimage centre is prescribed on Kartik Poornima. This holy bath is known as “Kartik snana”. An holy bath at Pushkar or in the Ganges river, especially at Varanasi is deemed as most auspicious. Kartik Poornima is the most popular day for bathing in the Ganges at Varanasi.

Devotees taking bath in Pushkar lake on Kartik Poornima (purnima)

This auspicious day is also celebrated in others religions – Sikh (Guru Nanak Jayanti) and Jain (Shri Shantrunjay Teerth Yatra).

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Short Stories

Mahashivaratri – Interesting story behind this festival

Neelkanth – churning of ocean

Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati

During the churning of ocean, a pot of poison (halahal) came out of the ocean. This had the potential to destruct the whole universe. Lord Vishnu advised gods to request Lord Shiva to consume the poison.
To save the mankind, Lord Shiva drank the poison after requested by gods. Goddess Parvati pressed her neck to prevent the poison reaching to stomach. Thus, the poison remained in the neck and his neck became blue. Thus the name Neelkanth. In an effort to keep Lord Shiva awake at the night,gods danced and played music. As the day broke out, Lord Shiva, pleased with their devotion blessed them all. Mahashivaratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world.

Enjoy other stories on Mahashivaratri below.

The festival of Mahashivaratri

 

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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

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Indian Mythology Lord Shiva Temple

Mallikarjun Jyotirlinga – Lord Shiva’s temple

The Jyotirlinga of Mallikarjun : Lord Shiva Temple at Srisailam

Mallikarjun at Srisailam is one among the twelve Jyotirlinga, situated at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh.  Mallikarjuna is an ancient temple of Lord Shiva that is architecturally and sculpturally rich.

Srisailam Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna swamy temple

Story behind Mallikarjun Temple

Once, Shiva and Parvati decided to find suitable brides for their sons, Ganesha and Kartikeya. They argued as to who is to get wedded first. Lord Shiva said that the one who goes round the world in Pradakshinam could get married first. By the time Lord Kartikeya could go round the world on his vahana peacock, Lord Ganesha went round his parents 7 times. Lord Siva got Buddhi(intellect), Siddhi (spiritual power), and Riddhi (prosperity) married to Lord Ganesha. Lord Kartikeya on his return was enraged and went away to stay alone on Mount Krouncha in the name of Kumarabrahmachari.

Lord Shiva and Kartikeya

On seeing his father coming over to pacify him, he tried to move to another place, but on the request of the Devas, stayed close by. The place where Lord Shiva and Parvati stayed came to be known as Shrisailam. Lord Shiva visits Lord Kartikeya on Amavasya day & Parvati Devi on Poornima.

Another story

Once, a princess named Chandravati decided to go to the Jungles to do penance and meditation. She chose Kadali Vana for this purpose. One day, she witnessed a miracle. A Kapila cow was standing under a Bilwa tree and milk was flowing from all of its four udders, sinking into the ground. The cow kept doing this as a routine chore everyday. Chandravati dug up that area and was dumb founded at what she saw. There was a self-raising Swyambhu SivaLinga. It was bright and shining like the sun rays, and looked like it was burning, throwing flames in all directions. Chandravati prayed to Siva in this JyotirLinga. She built a huge Shiva Temple there. Lord Shankara was very pleased with her. Chandravati went to Kailash wind borne. She received salvation and Mukti. On one of the stone-inscriptions of the temple, Chandravati’s story can be seen carved out.

Mallikarjun as a Shakti peeth

Srisailam or Mallikarjun is one among the Maha shakti peeth. It is believed that Sati Devi’s upper lip has fallen here.  It is a place where Shakti peetha and Jyotirlinga are together.

Visiting this JyotirLinga not only blesses one with innumerable wealth, but also name and fame and fulfils all the desires. Mahashivratri is the main festival celebrated at Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swamy temple.

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Indian Mythology Jyotirlinga Lord Shiva Temple

Jyotirlinga : Somnath ( Temple of Lord Shiva )

Somnath : Foremost of the twelve Jyotirlinga

First among the twelve jyotirlinga, located at Prabhas Patan in Saurashtra – Gujrat.  Somnath means,  ‘The protector of Moon God’.  Somnath temple was destroyed many times by Islamic kings and rulers and recently was rebuilt in November 1947, by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patael.

Somnath Mandir at Night

Legend :

According to Skanda Puran, Moon God (Chandra) was married to 27 (stars) of Daksha. Moon was more affectionate to his wife Rohini, and  didn’t show any interest in rest of his wives. This arouse anger and feeling of insult among them. Dissappointed with the behaviour for their husband one they went to their father Daksha and complained his about Moon. Daksha was very sad to see his daughter’s suffering so he decided to convince Moon but all in vain. Out of anger he cursed Moon that he would be decreasing in size.

Somnath Temple

Devas were very sad at Chandra’s plight, and went to Brahama for help. Lord Brahma, the Creator advised them to pray to Lord Shiva.  Chandra went for a penance for six months after which Lord Shiva appeared and granted him a boon.

Lord Shiva said, that in every month for 15 days he would grow in size and in another 15 days, he would be loosing 1 kala per day and decrease in size. That is why this place is also known as Somnath, Protector of Moon ( Moon is also known as Som). Lord Shiva is known as Someshwar. Devas have established a Someshwar kund and it is believed that taking a holy dip in kund, a person is relieved from all sins.

Chandra or Moon looks bright here hence, this place is also known as Prabhashpattana.

Chandra was first one to receive benefit so he built the temple in gold. Later, it was rebuilt by Ravana, in silver; then by Krishna in wood and by Bhimdev in stone.

Somnath temple was subjected to series of attacks, it was destroyed and rebuilt several times. In  725, an Arab governor of Sindh, Junayad, destroyed the temple, in 815 it was reconstructed in red sand stone. In 1024, Muslim invader, Ghazini again destroyed the temple and looted the treasure. Once again n 1292, temple was destroyed by Allaudin Khilji’s army.

Somnath_temple_in_1869

In 1701, temple was totally destroyed, plundered and looted in a horrible way, many people were killed and lots of money were stolen.

In 1783, the temple was rebuilt at a site adjacent to the ruined temple by Sadhvi Alalya Devi, Holar.

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, renovated the temple on the advice of Kakasaheb Gadgil of Maharashtra. Jyotirlinga was reinstated on friday 1951 by Dr. Rajendra prasad(President).

Inspite  of destruction, the faith of devotees was never destroyed, and Somnath revived its grandeur.

 

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Indian Mythology Popular Articles

Lord Kartikeya facts

Lord Kartikeya, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is known by different names – Lord Swaminatha, Lord Murugan, Skand and more.

His brother is Lord Ganesha. 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 Tamil region. He is also the commander of Devas or Gods.

Birth of Lord Kartikeya

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, and Lord Shiva was very much perturbed by the death of Sati, 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.

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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

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.

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).

The essence of Om as explained by Murugan

Kartikeya explained that the entire Creation is contained in Om. The Trinity – Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord 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.

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’s appearance

Lord Kartikeya is one of the most beautiful and handsome gods, 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 and is represented with six heads and twelve hands. The Lord 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 Kartikeya

His Consorts

Lord Murugan 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.  Lord the creates his own abode Palani, near Madurai as he was angry on cheated at 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.

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.

Maa Skandmata

The Kavadi Attam or Kanwar

Celebration of Kavadi Attam is performed during Thai Pusam. This is the ceremonial worship of Murugan, 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. Lord Murugan easily defeated Idumban. He realized then that the youth was none other than Lord Murugan. Idumban pleaded for pardon and announces 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.

Festivals

People celebrate Kumara Purnima on the full moon day after Vijayadashami. This 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.

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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 Jyotirlinga Lord Shiva

When Lord Shiva became a servant (Ugna)

Lord Shiva as a servant of Poet Vidyapati in form of Ugna

Do you know that Lord Shiva once served Poet Vidyapati as a servant. Incredible, but true, Lord Shiva indeed decided to become the servant of a famous poet. Such is the power of Bhakti. Read on for the full story.

Ugna came to Vidyapati to serve

Poet Vidyapati was an ardent follower of Lord Shiva and seeing his bhakti for him, Lord Shiva got impressed with him. And Lord did the unthinkable and decided to come to live with the poet as a servant, with the name Ugna.

Poet was invited for a function

Ugna became a obedient and affectionate servant to the poet within a very short period. One day, the poet received an invitation to participate in a royal function of the king of Mithila. He took his loyal servant Ugna with him and they left for the king’s capital. On the way the poet became very thirsty but it was a huge barren land where he saw no drops of water.

Ugna was identified through the water of The Ganges

The poet became thirsty and asked Ugna to arrange for water. Ugna shown his inability as there was no water to be seen there. But Poet Vidyapati’s condition soon became worse. Lord Shiva in the guise of Ugna went to some place where he was not seen and took some water of the Ganges in a bowl and came back to Vidyapati. Drinking the water, the poet immediately recognised this as the holy water and demanded from Ugna that where did he find this water?

Initially, Ugna was not telling the truth, but on the insistence of Poet Vidyapati, he had to tell that he was none other than Lord Shiva. Knowing this, the poet became very sorry that Lord Shiva was serving him as a servant, but Lord pacified him that this was his wish to live with his bhakta and Vidyapati should not be sorry for the same.

Ugna Mahadev Mandir

Lord Shiva extracted a promise from Vidyapati

The poet wanted the lord to remain with him and he requested Lord Shiva to live with himself. Lord Shiva agreed to his request but he put a condition for the same. He asked him not to divulge the truth of Ugna to anyone. If he fails to do so, then Lord will get back to his place. Poet Vidyapati immediately agreed to this.

After this, Ugna remained with poet Vidyapati for several years and helped him to carry out few miracles as well. For example, he once defeated a poet of emperor Allauddin in his own language.

Vidyapati’s wife gets angry on Ugna

As all things does not remain the same, it was time for Ugna’s departure. Poet’s wife got frustrated with him one day and started beating him with a broom. Poet Vidyapati could not tolerate this as he knew the real identity of Ugna. Out of frustration, he asked her to stop and Lord Shiva immediately vanished. Poet realized his mistake, but it was too late.

Ugna leaves Poet Vidyapati

It is said that Poet Vidyapati then searched for Lord Shiva. He wandered through many temples, rivers and jungles in search of Ugna. Finally, Vidyapati found him in Nandanvana. Shiva told him that he would not go back to his house but would help him whenever required. The place where Ugna appeared before the poet as God is known as Ugnaasthan.

Ugna Mahadev Shivling

Categories
Festival Lord Shiva Shravan

Kanwar festival or Shravan festival in India

Shravan festival in India

The month of Shrawan is a very holy month for hindu pilgrims. In this month, Lord Shiva is worshipped in Deoghar and people from all part of India throng at this place. They also undertook an arduous journey and offer water to Lord which they took from distant places and cover the distance on foot.

Kanwar Yatra is named after the Kanvar. Kanvar is a single pole  with two roughly equal loads fastened or dangling from opposite ends.  These loads are normally Ganges water which is offered to Lord Shiva after completion of Kanwar or Kanwad journey.

The month of Shravan is celebrated in worship to Lord Shiva and most devotees observe a fast on Mondays during this month. This festival is called Sharavn festival or Kanwar festival.

Kanwad festival

Ten days before Shiv-Teras thousands of Lord Shiva devotees gather in Haridwar to collect holy waters from the river Ganga to carry it back to their hometown and offer it at the local Shiv temple.

In north india, the Kanwarias take the water from Haridwar, Gangotri and other holy places. They take the water to their respective towns and offer the gangajaal to a local holy temple of Lord Shiva. This pilgrimage is done by covering the distance from Haridwar to their respective cities largely on foot. The devotees are mainly males, but females also celebrate this festival of Lord Shiva or Bhole Baba.

Kanwar festival – Devotees taking gangajaal from har ki pairi, haridwar

Smaller pilgrimages are also undertaken to places like Allahabad and Varanasi.

In Bihar, during this festival, the kanwarias take the holy water from Sultanganj. Sultanganj has a special significance since Ganga turns northward at Sultanganj. The water is carried from here to Deoghar, the nearest Shiv jyotirling. This is 105 km far from sultanganj. It takes four days for the devotees to reach Deoghar walking. The devotees generally walk by day and take shelter at dharamshalas during night, some adventurous ones continue their journey during night.  Then there are Dak Kanwariyas, who cover the distance by running only in a day. They are supposed to travel the distance in one day only is quite arduous.  After offering water in Deoghar, devotees travel to basukinath, which is another place of interest for pilgrims.

Dak Kanwariyas during Shravan or Kanwar festival

Categories
Indian Mythology Popular Articles

What is Shivlinga?

Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of linga from ancient times. Lord Shiva is one of the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and even considered to be supreme lord. He has been worshipped by various devtas (gods) in Hindu mythology and by Vishnu Dashavatara’s.

The Lingam symbolizes both the creative and destructive power of Lord Shiva and great sanctity is attached to it by the devotees. Mahadev is the only God who has both form “Sakaar Roop” who we can see and pray and also “Nirakaar Roop” like Shivling.

Meaning of Shivlinga

Puranas and scriptures in Hinduism narrate in detail why Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Linga. It is said that the he appeared before Lord Brahma and Vishnu in the form of a ‘pillar of fire’, which had no end and beginning. It is one among the many symbols of Brahman.

Incarnations of Lord Vishnu is known to have worshipped the Shivlinga including Lord Ram, Parashuram and Krishna.

Lord Rama worshipping Shivlinga

When the mind is clear and is without prejudice, we will realize that the Linga form of Shiva is the most innocent form of Brahman that our ancestors had realized. It is pure and they got it from pure nature. Many of the forms that we worship today are the reflections of our mind, which is corrupted by ego, society and education. It is not pure.

As per the epic Mahabharata,  ‘Know everything, which is male, to be Ishana, and all that is female to be Uma; for this whole world, animate and inanimate, is pervaded by these two bodies. Shiva’s divine Linga is worshipped by the Gods, seers, Gandharvas and Apsaras.’ (Chapter 7, section 20, verse 22)

Shiv Purana definition of Shivlinga

The Shiva Purana describes the origin of the Lingam, known as Shivalinga, as the one which has no beginning and no end. This is a cosmic pillar (Stambha) of fire, the cause of all causes.

Lord Shiva is pictured as emerging from the lingam – the cosmic pillar of fire – proving his superiority over the gods Brahma and Vishnu. This is known as Lingodbhava.

The Linga Purana also supports this interpretation of lingam as a cosmic pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva.

According to the Linga Purana, the lingam is a complete symbolic representation of the formless Universe Bearer – the oval-shaped stone is the symbol of the Universe, and the bottom base represents the Supreme Power that holds the entire Universe in it.

Skanda Purana

“The endless sky (that great void which contains the entire universe) is the Linga, the Earth is its base. At the end of time the entire universe and all the Gods finally merge in the Linga itself.