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Fascinating Stories about Lord Vishnu - hindufaqs.com

Of all the avataras Mohini is the only female avatar. But the most beguiling of them all. She is portrayed as an enchantress, who maddens lovers, sometimes leading them to their doom. Unlike the Dasavataras, which appear on Earth during a certain period, Vishnu takes up Mohini avatara during many time periods. In the original text, Mohini is referred to as simply an enchanting, female form of Vishnu. In later versions, Mohini is described as the maya(illusion) of Vishnu (mayam ashito mohinim).

Mohini- Female avatara of Vishnu | Hindu FAQs
Mohini- Female avatara of Vishnu

Almost all her tales has that element of slyness. Most of which were the ones leading the asuras (the bad guys) to doom. Bhasmasur was one such asura. Bhasmasur was a devotee of Lord Shiva (Well, Lord Shiva had no restriction upon who could worship him. He was known as Bholenath – easily pleased). He used to perform long penances in order to please Shiva. Shiva being pleased with his austerities, granted him one wish. Bhasmasur, asked him for the one obvious wish – immortality. However, this was out of Shiva’s ‘pay-grade’. So, he asked for the next coolest wish – the license to kill. Bhasmasur asked that he be granted the power that anyone whose head he touched with his hand should burn up and immediately turn into ashes (bhasma).

Well, so far things were going fine for Shiva. Bhasmasur, now sees the beautiful consort of Shiva – Parvati. A pervert and wicked asura as he was, wanted to possess her and marry her. He, thenceforth tries using his newly granted boon on Shiva himself (one piece of rotten asura he is). Shiva, being bound by the ‘contract’ had no power to take back his grant. He fled, and was chased by Bhasmasur. Wherever Shiva went, Bhasmasur chased him down. Somehow, Shiva managed to reach Vishnu to seek a solution to this predicament. Vishnu on hearing Shiva’s problem, agreed to help him out.

Bhasmasur chasing Shiva | Hindu FAQs
Bhasmasur chasing Shiva

Vishnu took up the form of Mohini and appeared in front of Bhasmasur. Mohini was so exceedingly beautiful that Bhasmasur immediately fell in love with Mohini (This is what years of austerity does to you). Bhasmasur asked her (Mohini) to marry him. On a side note, the asuras of the vedic times were real gentlemen. The only way to be with a woman was to marry them. Anyways, Mohini asked her out on a dance, and would marry him only if he could match her moves identically.  Bhasmasur agreed to the match and hence they started dancing. The feat went for days at an end. As Bhasmasur matched the disguised Vishnu’s move for move, he began to let his guard down. While still dancing, Mohini, struck a pose where her hand was placed on top of her own head.  And Bhasmasura, whose eyes were constantly fixed upon Mohini’s  beautiful face, completely forgot about Lord Shiva’s boon, and put his  hand on his head too and turned into ashes.

Mohini tricking Bhasmasura | Hindu FAQs
Mohini tricking Bhasmasura
Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva Ep I - Shiva and Bhilla - hindufaqs.com

The series ‘Fascinating Stories about Lord Shiva’. This series will be focusing on many known and unknown stores of Shiva. There will be a new story per episode. Ep I is a story about Shiva and Bhilla. There was a sage named Veda. He used to pray to Shiva every day. The prayers lasted till the afternoon and after the prayers were over, Veda used to go to the nearby villages to beg alms.

A hunter named Bhilla used to come to the forest every afternoon to hunt. After the hunt was over, he used to come to Shiva’s linga (image) and offer to Shiva whatever it was that he had hunted. In the process of doing this, he often moved Veda’s offerings out of the way. Strange though it might seem, Shiva was stirred by Bhilla’s offerings and eagerly used to wait for it every day.

Bhilla and Veda never met. But Veda noticed that every day his offerings lay scattered and a little bit of meat lay by the side. Since this always happened when Veda had gone out to beg for alms, Veda did not know who was responsible. One day, he decided to wait in hiding so as to catch the culprit red-handed.

While Veda waited, Bhilla arrived and offered what he had brought to Shiva. Veda was amazed to discover that Shiva himself appeared before Bhilla and asked, “Why are you late today? I have been waiting for you. Did you get very tired?”
Bhilla went away after making his offerings. But Veda came up to Shiva and said, “What is all this? This is a cruel and evil hunter, and yet, you appear before him. I have been performing tapasya for so many years and you never appear before me. I am disgusted at this partiality. I will break your linga with this stone.”

“Do it if you must,” replied Shiva. “But please wait till tomorrow.”
Next day, when Veda came to present his offerings, he found traces of blood on top of the linga. He carefully washed away the traces of blood and completed his prayers.

After some time, Bhilla also came to present his offerings and discovered traces of blood on top of the linga. He thought that he was in some way responsible for this and blamed himself for some unknown transgression. He picked up a sharp arrow and began to pierce his body repeatedly with this arrow as punishment.
Shiva appeared before both of them and said, “Now you see the difference between Veda and Bhilla. Veda has given me his offerings, but Bhilla has given me his whole soul. That is the difference between ritual and true devotion.”
The place where Bhilla used to pray to Shiva is a famous tirtha known as bhillatirtha.

Credits : Brahma Purana