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Children stories Lord Ganesha Lord Shiva

Interesting story of birth of Lord Ganesha and duel with Shiva

Birth of Lord Ganesha

The birth of Lord Ganesha birth can be regarded as interesting as any story could be. Ganesha was born unknown to Lord Shiva. Goddess Parvati needed someone to guard the chambers while she was taking bath. It happened in the past that Shiva devotee allowed him access when she did not want this to happen. So, She made a figure with turmeric paste and put life into it. Then she asked the boy, Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house. Ganesha followed his mother’s orders to the word and did not allow Shiva any access to the house.

Birth of Lord Ganesha depicted in Madhubani paintain

Note: Madhubani painting is popular folk art form.

Shiva got angry and asked his followers to attack the boy. But they were conquered. Shiva got surprised. Realizing that this was no ordinary boy, Shiva decided to fight himself, and in his divine fury cut Ganesha’s head, killing him quickly. When Parvati came to know of this, she was so angry that she decided to destroy the whole universe. But Lord Brahma pleaded that she reconsider her intent. She said she would if two conditions were met: One, that Ganesha be brought back to life, and two, that he be forever worshipped before all the other gods.

Brahma also suggested that he replace Ganesha’s head with the first living being that came his way with its head facing north. Shiva then sent his followers to bring the head of a creature they happened to find sleeping with its head facing north. They found a dying elephant which slept in this manner, and after its death took its head. Shiva attached the elephant’s head to Ganesha’s body and brought him back to life. Ganesha is worshipped by everyone before beginning any puja.

There are other stories which not as popular as the above:

Lord Ganesha and Shani

Another less popular story of lord Ganesha’s birth as written in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana. Eager to have a son, Parvati decided that she would keep a year-long fast to appease lord Vishnu. At the end of her fast lord Vishnu was duly appeased and gave her the boon of a son. In some stories, the son is a reincarnation of lord Krishna, another prominent Hindu deity.

On the joyous occasion of the birth of their son, whom they named Ganesha, Shiva and Parvati invited all the gods to their abode in Mount Kailash to look upon the baby. While all the gods bestowed the young lord Ganesha with gifts, there was one god who refused to look at the child.

This was the god Shani, son of the god Surya. The gaze of Shani is said to cast a bad omen on which it is directed. So Shani had a very good reason to not look at Ganesha. But Parvati insisted that Shani must look at the face of his ‘nephew’. Very reluctantly, Shani finally agreed and cast a quick look towards the young lord Ganesha. Almost immediately the child’s head fell off, in some stories it turns to ashes.

Parvati was devastated and it was lord Vishnu who came to her rescue. In one quick movement, he had mounted his vahana and had gone to fetch a replacement head. Returning with the head of a young elephant he had found of the banks of a river, lord Vishnu placed the head on the lifeless torso of the boy. The boy was brought back to life to the joy and utmost relief of both Shiva and Parvati. And so the naughty, fun loving god Ganesha was born.

Sage Kashyap’s curse

Yet another story mentions a completely different reason for the birth and subsequent replacement of Lord Ganesha’s head with that of a young elephant. But in this case the story starts a little differently. Aditya was one of the sons of the great sage Kashyapa, one of the seven great Rishi or sages. According to the story, Shiva, in a mistake, slew Aditya by cutting off his head. Kashyapa cursed the great lord Shiva that the same fate would befall the first born son of Shiva and when that happened, the child’s head would be replaced by the head of Indra’s elephant. And so, Ganesha, the elephant headed god was born.

In another twist to the same tale, when Shiva cut off the head of Aditya, He replaced it with Indra’s elephant’s head and brought him back to life. Kashyapa was very incensed by Shiva’s act and he put a curse on Shiva. According to the curse, the first born child of lord Shiva would be born with an elephant head. In the case of this particular story, Ganesha was already born with an elephant head unlike other stories where he acquires his elephant head later.

Categories
Indian Mythology Lord Shiva

The story of Shiva curse to Brahma

The curse on Brahma

There are very few temples erected exclusively to Brahma in India and abroad. There are myths that explain this strange neglect. They vary but it is generally seen that a god or goddess got angry with Brahma. He cursed Brahma. Shiva’s devotees believe in such specific myth. Following is the story.

Long time ago, the two gods of the Hindu triad — Brahma and Vishnu — began an argument on who the most powerful of the triad was. This argument became so heated that these gods asked Shiva, the third of the triad, to intervene. Shiva assumed the form of a gigantic lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva that depicts him as a creator). The lingam was of flaming fire and it went up to the heavens and descended into the nether regions underneath the earth. Both Brahma and Vishnu determined that if they could find how enormous the fiery lingam was, they could establish who among the triad was the most powerful. Brahma took the form of a swan and went upwards along the length of the ascending lingam while Vishnu assumed the form of a boar and descended along the lingam into the nether regions.

The curse of Brahma by Shiva- in quest of supremacy

Both went on searching but neither could reach the end. Vishnu, being wise, realized that he had been outdone by Shiva and came back to acknowledge Shiva as the greatest of the triad. Although, Brahma decided that he could get past Shiva with trickery. On his ascent to determine the end of the upper part of the lingam, Brahma had passed the ketaki flower (Pandanus odorifer). Brahma requested ketaki, who was used to inhabit the upper end regions of the lingam, to testify before Shiva that he, Brahma, had reached the uppermost end. Ketaki agreed and, when brought before Shiva, the flower told Shiva that he had observed Brahma reach the upper end of the lingam.

Shiva was angered at this lie. He cursed Brahma that he will not be worshipped on earth while he also cursed the flower with the depressing eternal condition of never ever being used in any Hindu worshipping rituals.

 

Shiva cursed Brahma in anger
Categories
Festival Indian Mythology

The festival of Teej

Teej festival

Teej is a widely celebrated festival across India. People celebrate this festival in dedication to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This festival is celebrated for marital bliss, well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul.

This festival is celebrated usually in the month of July-August, so it is also called as ‘Sawan festival’. Jaipur city of Rajasthan is very famous for its Teej celebrations and tourists specially come here to enjoy the celebrations of this Teej festival.

Teej is a hindi word means “third”. Therefore Teej falls on the third day after the moonless night (Amavasya) and the third day after the full moon night of every month. However, the third day after the new moon or Amavasya of Shravana (श्रावण) month is the most important Teej. As Shravana (or Saawan) month falls during monsoon or rainy season when the surroundings become green, the Shravana Teej is also called Hariyali Teej (Green Teej).

This festival is quite similar to Karwa Chauth, where married women observe fast and worship gods for well being of their husbands.

Legend behind Teej festival

Parvati was Sati in her earlier life and Sati died when her father has insulted Lord Shiva.
Shiva was very sad, so Sati appears before Shiva, in her divine form, and reassures him that she will return as the daughter of Himavan.

Teej celebrations originated from a legend of Goddess Parvati. Hindu mythology states that Goddess Parvati reunited with Lord Shiva on this day. She went through hard-core tapasya or penance and took 108 births on the earth. The myth also states that she failed to have Lord Shiva as her husband till 107th birth. In her 108th birth, Lord Shiva realized her devotion and love for him and accepted as his wife.

In this birth, Parvati remembered this and wanted Lord Shiva as her husband. For this, she had observed great penance and was living only on air. Even then, Lord Shiva tested her love for him before accepting her as a wife.

Teej Customs and Rituals

Teej customs and rituals make the festival more interesting and full of colors. Women who observe fast for their husband take proper care that no carelessness is committed while carrying out the rituals. Teej festival calls for performance of all rituals seriously if one wants to be blessed with marital bliss.

Shrinjhara

To celebrate the auspicious occasion of Teej, women perform some serious rituals. It is customary for married women to return to their parents’ home at the time of Teej. Married women and engaged girls get lot of presents from their father-in-law as per Teej customs. A traditional gift package called ‘Shrinjhara’ or ‘Sindhare’ is gifted to their daughter-in-law. This traditional name originated from the Hindi word shringaar meaning adornment. Shrinjhara package consists of Ghewar (sweet), traditional laheria dress (tie & dye), henna and lac bangles. All these items are used by the ladies to adorn herself.

Baya

Baya is another traditional package given to women observing fast on Teej. It includes dry fruits, mathris, new clothes, bangles and jewelry. It is given by mothers of the newly wed girls on the Teej Festival day.

Teej Fast

The most important ritual of Teej Festival is Teej Fast. Women and unmarried girls keep fast for long and healthy life of their husband. Teej fast goes for 24 long hours. It is the most rigorous fast in which a woman neither drinks nor eat.

Tradition of Lighting a Lamp

As per the ritual of Teej fasting, a woman should keep an oil lamp lit all night. If the oil lamp dies away, it is considered a bad omen.

Goddess Parvati

The most important ritual of Teej is to bedeck Parvati Mata and carry out auspicious processions on the streets. Idol of Goddess Parvati is decorated with fine jewelry and new colorful clothes. The fasting day of Teej is very vital as women pray to Goddess for marital bliss and happy life.

Women celebrating Teej

Swings

Last but not the least, swings are the common sight when Teej is near. Beautifully decorated swings are hung from trees in the garden and gaily dressed up women swing and sing traditional Teej songs. Some women also dance while singing the holy songs.

Categories
Festival Lord Shiva Shravan

Deoghar, Baidyanath dham and Shravan festival

The Shravan festival

The festival of Shravan or Kanwar festival is the most auspicious one for lord Shiva devotees. During this month, devotees from various parts of Bihar and Jharkhand observe strict rituals. They carry holy water of Ganges (Gangajal) from Sultanganj to Deoghar for Lord Shiva.

Pic. – Baidyanath Dham Mandir

This month normally falls in July – August according to english calendar and hindu devotees travel to Baidyanath Deoghar to worship Baba Baidyanath ( Lord Shiva).

How Lord Shiva came to Deoghar

There is an interesting story that Ravana once worshipped Lord Shiva so that he awarded him saying that I will stay with you in form of Shivlinga. This posed a problem for Devtas who thought that this would make him invincible. They used a ruse which forced Ravana to put the Shivlinga in Deoghar and it became Lord Shiva’s permanent abode. Since because of Ravana only Shiv has came to Deoghar, Ravana is treated with respect here.

Why Gangajal is offered to Baba Baidyanath

The custom of carrying holy water from Sultanganj on Kanwar and offering to it Shiva started in the Treta Yuga. This yuga was the silver age of Hindu mythology. Lord Rama had carried the holy ganges water from Sultanganj in a kanwar and offered to Lord Shiva at Babadham.

Another legend says that when the churning of oceans – Samudra Manthan – took place, this was in the month of Shravan. During manthan, fourteen different types of rubies came out. Thirteen of these were distributed amongst the deamons, except Halahal (poison). Lord Shiva drank the Halahal and stored it in his throat. Hence the name Neelkantha (meaning blue throat) is attributed to Shiva.

To reduce the strong effect of poison, Lord Shiva wore the crescent moon on his head. All the Gods, thereafter started offering the Ganges water to Lord Shiva to make lessen the effect of poison.

This happened in the month of Shravan. The Shiva devotees offer the Ganges water in this month and Shravan festival is observed. This festival and Baidyanath Deoghar is one of the holiest ones for Hindu devotees.

Baidyanath jyotirlinga temple

Importance of Gangajal from Sultanganj

In Sultanganj, the Ganges flows to the North. This is why, the devotees collect water in their kanwars and carry the holy Ganges water, with the kanwars on their shoulders. They walk 109 km up to Baba Baidyanath temple at Babadham reciting Bol Bam on the way.

Importance of Belpatra

Lord Shiva has three eyes – Mother Parvati, Lord Kartik and Ganesh. Lord Shiva is also called Mahadeva, the god of gods and his three eyes- Trinetra are his identification. Three eyes, three virtues, three truths, three swords of the Trident (Trishul) and three leaves (Belpatra) are very dear to Shiva. Lord Shiva becomes pleased if one offers Ganga water with Belpatra.

 

pic – Mandir at Night

Bol – Bam and its importance

The word Bam is a short name for Lords Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The letters BA came from Brahma and Vishnu and M came from Mahesh.

It is a long efficacious mantra (a hymn). When it is chanted during the way, it generates energy and enthusiasm amongst the kanwarias and gives them the psychological strength to carry on walking and succeed in covering the long distance from Sultanganj to Babadham.

According to the Skand Purana, those who complete the holy journey by reciting Bam-Bam obtain the virtues of Ashwamedha Yajna. According to the Puranas, the demon king Ravana had brought the Ganges water from Haridwar and offered to Lord Shiva.

During their journey from Sultanganj to Deoghar, kanwariyas are supposed to observe strict vrata:

To maintain celibacy (Bramhacharya)
To remember Lord Shiva by keeping mind, heart and speech pure
To speak the truth
To be inspired by charity and service
To take bath before taking the kanwar
To recite Bam – Bam
Not to use oil and soap
Not to wear shoes
Not to take any article made of leather
To avoid dogs. (dogs should not be touched)

Pilgrims to the temple later visit the Basukinath temple.

Where to stay and how to reach: Lot of hotels and dharamshalas are available in Deoghar. During the month of Jul-Aug, there is great rush, so this is advisable to book prior to your journey. Closest railway station is Jasidih, which is on howrah main line. Nearest airport is Ranchi/ Patna.

Categories
Sati Shakti Peeth

Sati and Shakti peeths

Sati Shakti Peeths – Indian Mythology

Sati and Shakti Peeths have a significant importance in Indian Mythology. Sati is one of the gods of indian mythology and there is a story behind the origin of Shakti peeths. Please read on for details on this interesting mythological indian story about Sati.

There was a king named Daksha, whose daughter was Sati.

Sati and Shiva

When Sati grew old she performed intense penance to attain Shivji as her husband. She married Lord Shiva against the wish of her father.When Daksha was performing a Yagna, he invited all the deities except Shivji and Sati. Sati was very sad after not receiving an invitation for the yagna. She insisted on attending the function, despite of the disapproval of Lord Shiva.

When Sati entered the palace, king Daksha insulted her. He said that his other daughters were more distinguished and worthy of honour than Shivji and Sati. Sati was unable to bear her father’s disrespect for her husband. Then Goddess Sati approached the sadas (the area of the site of sacrifice where the main priest sits). She thundered: “My husband, the Lord of Lords has been insulted for no good reason. No fault exists in Him. It is claimed in the Scriptures that those who steal knowledge, those who betray a teacher and those who defile the Lord are great sinners and ought to be punished”.After saying these words, Goddess threw herself in glowing sacred fire. Daksha yagna was desecrated.

Shiva and Sati

All the invitees were scared of being avenged, hence disappeared. When Lord Shiva heard this he was enraged. He created a creature Veerbhadra from lock of his hair.Veerbhadra tore off king Daksha head and tossed it in the same sacrificial fire. However it was proclaimed that the yagna should not be left incomplete, so head of goat was placed on Daksha to restore his life.Sad Lord Shiva began to wander carrying the dead body of Sati in his arms. He started dance of destruction of universe. In order to save universe and break this attachment of Lord Shiva, Vishnu with his sudarshan chakra and cut Sati’s body into pieces. Sati’s body pieces fell at different places and these are called Shakti Peeths.There are 52 shakti peeths and it is believed that if you worship these places with devotion all desires are fulfilled.
A list of Shakti Peeths as taken from Tantra Chudamani is provided below:

No: Place: Part of the body: Bhirava: Shakti:
1. Hingula (Pakistan) Brahma randhra Bhima lochana Kottari
2. Sharkarara (Maha rashtra) Trinetra Krodheesha Mahisha mardini
3. Sugandha (Bangla desh) Nasika Triambaka Sunanda
4. Kashmira (Jammu&Kashmir) Kantha desha Tri sandhyeshwara Maha maya
5. Jwala mukhi (Himachal pradesh) Jihwa Unmatta/ Vatukeshwara Siddhida/ Ambica
6. Jalandhara (Punjab) Vama stana Bhishana Tripura malini/ Tripura nashini
7. Vidya natha (Bihar) Hridaya Vidya natha Jaya durga
8. Nepala (Nepal) Janu dwaya Kapali Maha maya
9. Manasa (Tibet) Dakshina hasta Amara/ Hara Dakshaini
10. Utkala/ Viraja (Orissa) Nabhi Jagannatha Vimala/ Vijaya
11. Gandaki (Nepal) Dakshina ganda Chakra pani Gandaki chandi
12. Bahula (West bebgal) Vama bahu Bhiruka/ Tivraka Bahula
13. Ujjaini (Madhya pradesh) Kurpara Kapilambara Mangala chandi
14. Chattala (Bangla desh) Dakshina bahu Chandra sekhara Bhavani
15. Tripura (Tripura) Dakshina pada Tripuresha Tripura
16. Trisrota (West bengal) Vama pada Ambara/ Eshwara Bhramari
17. Kama giri/ Kama rupa desha (Assam) Maha mudra/ Yoni Umananda Kamakhya/ Dasha maha vidya
18. Yugadya/ Ksheera grama (West bengal) Dakshina padangushta Ksheera kantaka Bhoota dhatri
19. Kali peetha (West bengal) Dakshina padanguli Nakuleesha Kali
20. Prayaga (Uttar pradesh) Hastanguli Bhava Lalitha
21. Jayanti (Bangladesh) Vama jangha Kramadeeshwara Jayanti
22. Kireeta/ Kireeta kona (West bengal) Kireeta Samvarta/ Siddha rupa Vimala/ Bhuvaneshi
23. Manikarnika/ Varanasi (Uttar pradesh) Karna kundala Kala bhirava Vishalakshi
24. Kanyashrama (Tamil nadu) Prishta Nimisha Sharvani
25. Kurukshetra (Haryana) Dakshina gulpha Sthanu Savitri
26. Manivedika (Rajasthan) Mani bandha Sarvananda/ Sharvananda Gayatri
27. Srisaila/ Sri hatta (Andhra pradesh) Greeva Samvarananda/ Shambarananda Maha lakshmi
28. Kanchi (Tamil nadu) Kankala Ruru Deva garbha/ Veda garbha
29. Kala madhava (Uttar pradesh) Vama nitamba Asitanga Kali
30. Shona (Madhya pradesh) Dakshina nitamba Bhadra sena Narmada
31. Rama giri/ Raja giri (Uttar pradesh) Dakshina stana Chanda Shivani
32. Brindavana (Uttar pradesh) Kesha jala Bhootesha/ Krishna natha Uma/ Katyaini
33. Shuchi/ Anala (Tamil nadu) Oordhwa danta pankti Samhara/ Samkrura Narayani
34. Pancha sagara (Maharashtra) Adho danta pankti Maha rudra Varahi
35. Kara toya tata (Bangladesh) Vama talpa Vamana Aparna
36. Sri parvata (Andhra pradesh) Dakshina talpa Sundarananda Sundari
37. Vibhasa (West bengal) Vama gulpha Sarvananda Kapali/ Bhima rupa
38. Prabhasa (Gujarat) Udara Vakra tunda Chandra bhaga
39. Bhirava parvata (Madhya pradesh) Oordhvoshta Lamba karna Avanti
40. Jana sthana (Maharashtra) Chibuka Vikritaksha Bhramari
41. Godavari teetra (Andhra pradesh) Vama ganda Danda pani/ Vatsa nabha Vishwa matrika/ Rakini
42. Ratnavali (West bengal) Dakshina skandha Shiva Kumari
43. Mithila (Nepal) Vama skandha Mahodara Uma devi/ Maha devi
44. Nalahati (West bengal) Nala Yogeeshwara Kali
45. Karnata (Karnataka) Karana Abhiru Jaya durga
46. Vakreshwara (West bengal) Manas Vakra natha Mahisha mardini
47. Yashora (Bangla desh) Vama hasta Chanda Yashoreshwari
48. Attahasa (West bengal) Adharoshta Vishweshwara Pullara
49. Nandi pura (West bengal) Kantha hara Nandikeshwara Nandini
50. Lanka (Sri lanka) Nupura Rakshaseshwara Indrakshi
51. Virata (Rajasthan) Vama padanguli Amrita Ambika
52. Magadha (Bihar) Dakshina jangha Vyoma kesha Sarvanandakari

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
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Categories
Temple

Jyotirlinga Somnath temple

Somnath Mandir (temple)

Somnath is the foremost of 12 jyotirlinga located in Prabhas patan in Saurashtra in Gujrat. In this temple there is a small cave in which a lamp burns continuously.

 Pic. Somnath in Gujrat

Legend

Moon God Chandra being vary of his beauty was cursed by his father in law Daksha to wane. When he begged forgiveness Daksha said only Lord Shiva could free him from curse. Moon God came to Somnath and prayed to Lord Shiva for 4,000 years. Lord Shiva said he could not fully absolve him of the curse instead, he would wane in 15 days, but would grow again.

History and details of current temple

It is said that Somnath temple was first built with gold by Moon God, with silver by Ravana, with sandalwood by Lord krishna and with stone by Bhimdev.

This temple is the symbol of resilience as this has been destroyed by several muslim invaders. Ghazni, Alauddin Khilji and Aurengzeb among few of them. Current (seventh) temple is an effort of Sardar vallabhbhai Patel and KM Munshi, ministers of independent india.

The seventh existing temple is built in the Kailas Mahameru Prasad style.  The temple is consisting of Garbhgruh, Sabhamandap and Nrityamandap with a 150 feet high Shikhar. The Kalash at the top of the Shikhar weighs 10 tons and the Dhwajdand is 27 feet tall and 1 foot in circumference. The Abadhit Samudra Marg, Tirsthambh (Arrow) indicates the unobstructed sea route to the South Pole. The nearest land towards South Pole is about 9936 km. away. This is a wonderful indicator of the ancient Indian wisdom of geography and strategic location of the Jyotirling. The temple renovated by Maharani Ahalyabai is adjacent to the main temple complex.

Somnath Mandir – Jyotirlinga

Parshurama and Pandavas

Here is the Parshuram Tapobhumi, where Bhagvan Parshuramji carried out penance and he was relieved from the sin of Kshatriya killings. The Pandavas have said to have visited this place and taken holy bath in the Jalprabhas and built five Shiv temples.