Shambhu, this name of Lord Shankar indicates his blissful personality. He assumes the form of gross elements during playful moments. Sanskrit: नमामि देवं परमव्ययंतं उमापतिं लोकगुरुं नमामि । नमामि दारिद्रविदारणं तं नमामि रोगापहरं नमामि ॥२॥
The Tridevi (त्रिदेवी) is a concept in Hinduism conjoining the three consorts of the Trimurti (Great Trinity), that are personified by the forms of Hindu Goddesses: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati or Durga. They are the manifestations of the Adi Parashakti, the Supreme Being and Divine Mother in Shaktism.
Saraswati is the goddess of learning and arts, cultural fulfillment (consort of Brahma the creator). She is the cosmic intelligence, cosmic consciousness,and cosmic knowledge.
Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and fertility, material fulfillment (consort of Vishnu the maintainer or preserver). However, she does not signify mere material wealth like gold, cattle, etc. All kinds of prosperity, glory, magnificence, joy, exaltation, or greatness come under Lakshmi.
Parvati or Durga:
Parvati/ Mahakali (or in her demon-fighting aspect Durga) the goddess of power and love, spiritual fulfillment (consort of Shiva the destroyer or transformer). She also depicts the transformational power of divinity, the power that dissolves multiplicity in unity.
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Rama (राम) is the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, and a king of Ayodhya. Rama is also the protagonist of the Hindu epic Ramayana, which narrates his supremacy. Rama is one of the many popular figures and deities in Hinduism, specifically Vaishnavism and Vaishnava religious scriptures in South and Southeast Asia. Along with Krishna, Rama is considered to be one of the most important avatars of Vishnu. In a few Rama-centric sects, he is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar.
Rama was the eldst son of Kausalya and Dasharatha, king of Ayodhya, Rama is referred to within Hinduism as Maryada Purushottama, literally the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. His wife Sita is considered by Hindus to be an avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of perfect womanhood.
Rama’s life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. He is pictured as the ideal man and the perfect human. For the sake of his father’s honour, Ram abandons his claim to Ayodhaya’s throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest. His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana decide to join him, and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the Rakshasa monarch of Lanka. After a long and arduous search, Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana’s armies. In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife. Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya and eventually becomes emperor, rules with happiness, peace, duty, prosperity and justice a period known as Ram Rajya.
The Ramayana speaks of how the earth goddess Bhudevi, came to the creator-god Brahma begging to be rescued from evil kings who were plundering her resources and destroying life through bloody wars and evil conduct. The deva (gods) also came to Brahma fearful of the rule of Ravana, the ten-headed rakshasa emperor of Lanka. Ravana had overpowered the devas and now ruled the heavens, the earth and the netherworlds. Although a powerful and noble monarch, he was also arrogant, destructive and a patron of evil doers. He had boons that gave him immense strength and was invulnerable to all living and celestial beings, except man and animals.
Brahma, Bhumidevi and the gods worshipped Vishnu, the Preserver, for deliverance from Ravana’s tyrannical rule. Vishnu promised to kill Ravana by incarnating as a man the eldest son of Kosala’s king Dasharatha. Goddess Lakshmi took birth as Sita in order to accompany her consort Vishnu and was found by king Janaka of Mithila while he was ploughing a field. Vishnu’s eternal companion, the Shesha is said to have incarnated as Lakshmana to stay at his Lord’s side on earth. Throughout his life, no one, except a few select sages (among which are included Vasishta, Sharabhanga, Agastya and Vishwamitra) know of his destiny. Rama is continually revered by the many sages he encounters through his life, but only the most learned and exalted know of his true identity. At the end of the war between Rama and Ravana, just as Sita passes her Agni pariskha, Brahma, Indra and the gods, the celestial sages and Shiva appear out of the sky. They affirm Sita’s purity and ask him to end this terrible test. Thanking the avatar for delivering the universe from the grips of evil, they reveal Rama’s divine identity upon the culmination of his mission.
Another legend narrates that Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers of Vishnu, were cursed by the Four Kumaras to be born on earth three lives; Vishnu took avatars each time to free them of their earthy existence. They as born as Ravana and his brother Kumbhakarna, who are both killed by Rama.
Initial days of Rama:
Sage Vishwamitra takes the two princes, Rama and Lakshmana, to his ashram, as he needs Rama’s help in slaying several Rakshasas that have been harassing him and several other sages living in the area. Rama’s first encounter is with a Rakshasi named Taataka, who is a celestial nymph cursed to take the form of a demoness. Vishwamitra explains that she has polluted much of the habitat where the sages reside and there will not be any contentment until she is destroyed. Rama has some reservations about killing a woman, but since Taataka poses such a big threat to the Rishis and he is expected to follow their word, he fights with Taataka and kills her with an arrow. After her death, the surrounding forest becomes greener and cleaner.
Killing Maricha and Subahu:
Vishwamitra presents Rama with several astras and sastras (divine weapons) that will be of use to him in the future, and Rama masters the knowledge of all the weapons and their uses. Vishwamitra then tells Rama and Lakshmana that soon, he along with some of his disciples, will perform a yagna for seven days and nights that will be of great benefit to the world, and the two princes must keep close watch for the two sons of Taadaka, Mareecha and Subahu, who will try to defile the yagna at all costs. The princes therefore keep a strong vigil for all of the days, and on the seventh day they spot Maricha and Subahu coming with a whole host of Raakshasas ready to pour bones and blood into the fire. Rama points his bow at the two, and with one arrow kills Subahu, and with the other arrow flings Mareecha thousands of miles away into the ocean. Rama deals with the rest of the demons. The yagna is completed successfully.
Sage Vishwamitra then takes the two princes to the Swayamvara a wedding ceremony for Sita. The challenge is to string the bow of Shiva and shoot an arrow from it. This task is considered impossible for any ordinary king or living being, as this is the personal weapon of Shiva, more powerful, holy and of divine creation than conceivable. While attempting to string the bow, Rama breaks it in two. This feat of strength spreads his fame across the worlds and seals his marriage to Sita, celebrated as Vivaha Panchami.
14 years exile:
King Dasaratha announces to Ayodhya that he plans to crown Rama, his eldest child the Yuvaraja (crown prince). While the news is welcomed by everyone in the kingdom, the mind of queen Kaikeyi is poisoned by her wicked maid-servant, Manthara. Kaikeyi, who is initially pleased for Rama, is made to fear for the safety and future of her son Bharata. Fearing that Rama would ignore or possibly victimize his younger brother for the sake of power, Kaikeyi demands that Dasaratha banish Rama to a forest exile for fourteen years, and that Bharata be crowned in Rama’s place.
Rama being Maryada Purshottam, agreed to this and he leaves for 14 years exile. Lakshmana and Sita accompanied him.
Ravana kidnapped Sita:
Many pastimes took place while Lord Rama lived in the forest; however, nothing compared to when the Rakshasa king Ravana kidnapped His dear wife Sita Devi, whom He loved with all His heart. Laksman and Rama looked everywhere for Sita but could not find her. Rama thought of her constantly and His mind was distracted by grief due to her separation. He could not eat and hardly slept.
While searching for Sita, Rama and Laksman saved the life of Sugriva, a great monkey king who was being hunted by his demoniac brother Vali. After that, Lord Rama enlisted Sugriva along with his mighty monkey general Hanuman and all the monkey tribes, in the search for His missing Sita.
With building a bridge over the sea, Rama with his vanaar sena crossed the sea to reach Lanka. There was a fierced battle between Rama and the Demon King Ravana. The brutal battle went on for many days and nights. At one point Rama and Laksman were paralyzed by Ravana’s son Indrajit’s poisonous arrows. Hanuman was dispatched to retrieve a special herb to heal them, but when he flew to the Himalaya Mountains he found that the herbs had hidden themselves from view. Undeterred, Hanuman lifted the whole mountaintop into the sky and carried it to the battlefield. There the herbs were discovered and administered to Rama and Laksman, who recovered miraculously from all their wounds. Shortly thereafter, Ravana himself entered the battle and was defeated by Lord Rama.
Finally Sita Devi was released and great celebrations followed. However, to prove her chastity, Sita Devi entered into fire. Agni Dev, the god of fire himself, carried Sita Devi from within the fire back to Lord Rama, proclaiming to everyone her purity and chastity. Now the fourteen years of exile had ended and they all returned to Ayodyha, where Lord Rama ruled for many, many years.
Rama as per Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Finally, a society is evolved out of needs of humans to live, eat and co-exist. The society has rules, and is God-fearing and abiding. It is important to follow rules, rage and unsocial behaviour is cut down. Fellow humans are respected and people abide to law and order.
Rama, the complete man would be the Avatar that could be called as the perfect social human being. Rama respected and followed rules of the society. He would also respect the saints and kill those who would torment the sages and the oppressed ones.
Parshuram a.k.a Parashurama, Parashuraman is the sixth avatar of Vishnu. He is son of Renuka and the saptarishi Jamadagni. Parshurama is one of the seven Immortals. Lord Parashuram was the Great Grandson of Bhrugu Rishi, after whom the “Bhruguvansh” has been named. He lived during the last Dvapara Yuga, and is one of the seven immortals or Chiranjivi, of Hinduism. He received an parashu(axe) after undertaking terrible penance to please Shiva, who in turn taught him the martial arts.
Parashurama is most known for ridding the world of kshatriyas twenty-one times over after the mighty king Kartavirya killed his father. He played important roles in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, serving as mentor to Bhishma, Karna and Drona. Parashurama also fought back the advancing seas to save the lands of Konkan, Malabar and Kerala.
Renuka devi and the clay pot
Parshurama’s parents were great spiritual achievers his Mother Renuka devi had command over the water elments and his father Jamadgani over fire. its even said that Renuka devi could fetch water in the even in a wet clay pot. Once Rishi Jamadgani asked Renuka Devi to fetch water in the clay pot, some how Renuka Devi was distracted from the thought of being a women and the clay pot broke. Seeing Renuka Devi wet the enraged Jamadgani called his son Parshurama. He ordered Parshurama to cut Renuka devi’s head. Parshuram obeyed his father. Rishi Jamadgani was so pleased with his son that he asked him for a boon. Parshurama asked Rishi Jamadgani to restore the breaths of his mother, thus Rishi Jamadgani who was the owner of Divya Shakties (divine Powers) brought back the life of Renuka Devi. Kamdhenu Cow
Rishi Jamadgani and Renuka Devi both were blessed not only for having Parshuram as their son but they were also given the Kamdhenu Cow. Once Rishi Jamadgani went out from his Ashram and in the mean while some Kshatriyas (worriers) arrived at their Ashram. They were in search of food, the Ashram Devies gave them food they were so surprised to see the magical cow Kaamdhenu, the cow would give any Dish she asked for. They were so amused and they put up the purposal of buying the cow for their king Kartavirya Sahasrarjuna, but all the Ashram sahadus (sages) and Devies refused. they forcefuly took away the cow. Parshurama killed the entire army of King Kartavirya Sahasrarjun and restored the magical cow. In Revenge Kartavirya Sahasrarjun’s son killed Jamadgani. When ParshuRama returned to the ashram he saw his father’s body . He noticed the 21 scars on Jamadgani’s body and took the pledge to kill all unjust kshatriyas 21 time on this earth. he killed all the sons of king.
Shri Parashuram left home to do devout austerities to please Lord Shiva. Considering his extreme devotion, intense desire and unmoved and perpetual meditation, Lord Shiva was pleased with Shri Parashuram. He presented Shri Parashuram with Divine weapons. Included was His unconquerable and indestructible axe shaped weapon, Parashu. Lord Shiva advised him to go and liberate the Mother Earth from felons, ill-behaved people, extremists, demons and those blind with pride.
Lord Shiva and Parshuram
Once, Lord Shiva challenged Shri Parashuram to a battle to test his skills in warfare. The spiritual master Lord Shiva and the disciple Shri Parashuram were locked in a fierce battle. This dreadful duel lasted for twenty one days. While ducking to avoid being hit by the Trident (Trishul) of Lord Shiva, Shri Parashuram vigorously attacked Him with his Parashu. It struck Lord Shiva on the forehead creating a wound. Lord Shiva was very pleased to see the amazing warfare skills of His disciple. He passionately embraced Shri Parashuram. Lord Shiva preserved this wound as an ornament so that the reputation of his disciple remained imperishable and insurmountable. ‘Khanda-parshu’ (wounded by Parashu) is one of the thousand names (for the salutation) of Lord Shiva.
Shri Parashuram, clipped the thousand arms of Sahasrarjun, one by one, with his Parashu and killed him. He repelled his army by showering arrows on them. The whole country greatly welcomed the destruction of Sahasrarjun. The king of Deities, Indra was so pleased that he presented His most beloved bow named Vijaya to Shri Parashuram. Lord Indra had destroyed demon dynasties with this bow. By the fatal arrows shot with the help of this Vijaya bow, Shri Parashuram destroyed the miscreant Kshatriyas twenty one times. Later Shri Parashuram presented this bow to his disciple Karna when he was pleased with his intense devotion to the Guru. Karna became unconquerable with help of this bow Vijaya presented to him by Shri Parashuram
In Valmiki Ramayana, Parashurama stops the journey of Sri Rama and his family after his marriage to Sita. He threatens to kill Sri Rama and his father, King Dasharatha, begs him to forgive his son and punish him instead. Parashurama neglects Dasharatha and invokes Sri Rama for a challenge. Sri Rama meets his challenge and tells him that he does not want to kill him because he is a Brahmin and related to his guru, Vishwamitra maharshi. But, he destroys his merit earned through penances. Thus, Parashurama’s arrogance gets diminished and he returns to his normal mind.
Mentorship of Drona
At the end of his time in the Vedic period, Parashurama was renouncing his possessions to take sanyasi. As the day progressed, Drona, then a poor Brahmin, approached Parashurama asking for alms. By that time, the warrior-sage had already given the Brahmins his gold and Kasyapa his land, so all that was left were his body and weapons. Parushurama asked which Drona would have, to which the clever Brahmin responded:
“O son of Bhrigu, it behoveth thee to give me all thy weapons together with the mysteries of hurling and recalling them.”
Thus, Parashurama gave all his weapons unto Drona, making him supreme in the science of arms. This becomes crucial as Drona later became the guru to both the Pandavas and the Kauravas who fought against each other in the Kurukshetra War. It is said that Lord Parashurama carried Lord Vishnu’s “Sudharshana Chakra” and “Bow” and Lord Balram’s “Gadha” while they fulfill their education with Guru Sandeepani
According to Puranas, Parashurama travelled to the Himalayas to pay respect to his teacher, Shiva. While travelling, his path was blocked by Ganesha, son of Shiva and Parvati. Parashurama threw his axe at the elephant-god. Ganesha, knowing the weapon had been given to Parashurama by his father, allowed it to sever his left tusk.
His mother Parvati was infuriated, and declared she would cut off the arms of Parashurama. She took the form of Durgama, becoming omnipotent, but at the last moment, Shiva was able to pacify her by making her see the avatar as her own son. Parashurama also asked her forgiveness, and she finally relented when Ganesha himself spoke on behalf of the warrior-saint. Parashurama then gave his divine axe to Ganesha and blessed him. Another name for Ganesha because of this encounter is Ekadanta, or ‘One Tooth’.
Beating back the Arabian Sea
Puranas write that the western coast of India was threatened by tumultuous waves and tempests, causing the land to be overcome by the sea. Parashurama fought back the advancing waters, demanding Varuna release the land of Konkan and Malabar. During their fight, Parashurama threw his axe into the sea. A mass of land rose up, but Varuna told him that because it was filled with salt, the land would be barren.
Parashurama then did a tapasya for Nagaraja, the King of Snakes. Parashurama asked him to spread serpents throughout the land so their venom would neutralize the salt filled earth. Nagaraja agreed, and a lush and fertile land grew. Thus, Parashurama pushed back the coastline between the foothills of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, creating modern day Kerala.
The coastal area of Kerala, Konkan, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, are today also known as Parashurama Kshetra or Land of Parashurama in homage. Puranas record that Parashurama placed statues of Shiva at 108 different locations throughout the reclaimed land, which still exist today. Shiva, is the source of kundalini, and it around his neck that Nagaraja is coiled, and so the statues were in gratitude for their baneful cleansing of the land.
Parshurama and Surya:
Parashurama once became annoyed with the sun god Surya for making too much heat. The warrior-sage shot several arrows into the sky, terrifying Surya. When Parashurama ran out of arrows and sent his wife Dharani to bring more, the sun god then focused his rays on her, causing her to collapse. Surya then appeared before Parashurama and gave him two inventions that have since been attributed to the avatar, sandals and an umbrella
Kalaripayattu The indian Martial Arts
Parashurama and the saptarishi Agastya are regarded as the founders of kalaripayattu, the oldest martial art in the world. Parashurama was a master of shastravidya, or the art of weaponry, as taught to him by Shiva. As such, he developed northern kalaripayattu, or vadakkan kalari, with more emphasis on weapons than striking and grappling. Southern kalaripayattu was developed by Agastya, and focuses more on weaponless combat. Kalaripayattu is known as the ‘mother of all martial arts’.
Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism, also practiced kalaripayattu. When he traveled to China to spread Buddhism, he brought the martial art with him, which in turn was adapted to become the basis of Shaolin Kung Fu
Unlike other incarnations of Vishnu, Parashurama is a Chiranjivi, and is said to still be doing penance today in Mahendragiri. The Kalki Purana writes that he will reemerge at the end of Kali Yuga to be the martial and spiritual guru of Kalki, the tenth and final avatar of Vishnu. It is foretold that he will instruct Kalki to perform a difficult penance to Shiva, and receive the celestial weaponry needed to bring about end time.
Parashurama as per Theory Of Evolution:
The sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu was Parashuram, a rugged primitive warrior with a battle axe. This form could be a symbol of the cave-man stage of evolution and his usage of the axe could be seen as man’s evolution from the stone age to the iron age. Man had learnt the art of using tools and weapons and exploit the natural resources available to him.
Parashurama is worshipped as mool purush, or founder, of the Bhumihar Brahmin, Chitpavan, Daivadnya, Mohyal, Tyagi, Shukla, Awasthi, saryupareen, Kothiyal, Anavil, Nambudiri bhardwaj and gaud Brahmin communities.
Image credits to the original Artist and Photographer
Vamana (वामन) is described as the fifth avatar of Vishnu, and the first incarnation of the Second Age or Treta yuga. Vamana was born to Aditi and Kashyapa. He is the first avatar to appear with anthropomorphic features, although he does appear as a dwarf Namboothiri Brahmin. He is the twelth of the Adityas. Vamana is also the younger brother of Indra. He is also known as Upendra and Trivikrama.
The Bhagavata Purana describes that Vishnu descended as the Vamana avatar to restore the authority of Indra over the heavens, as it had been taken by Mahabali, a benevolent Asura King. Bali was the great grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grand son of Prahlada.
Mahabali or Bali was the “daitya” king and his capital was the present day state of Kerala. was the son of Devamba and Virochana. He grew up under the tutelage of his grandfather, Prahlada, who instilled in him a strong sense of righteousness and devotion. He was an extremely devoted follower of Lord Vishnu and was known as a righteous, wise, generous and judicious King. King Mahabali was a generous man who engaged in severe austerities and penance and won the praise of the world. This praise, from his courtiers and others, led him to think of himself as the greatest person in the world. He believed that he can help any one and can donate whatever they ask. Even though he became benevolent, he became pompous of his activities and forgot that the almighty is above him. Dharma says that one should do his duty and helping others is the duty of a king. Mahabali was a devoted worshiper of the Lord. The story is an ample example that the almighty, the Parabrahma is neutral and unbiased; he only tries to balance nature. He showers his divine light to all, irrespective of what they do.
Bali would eventually succeed his grandfather as the king of the Asuras, and his reign over the realm was characterized by peace and prosperity. He would later expand his realm by bringing the entire world under his benevolent rule and was even able to conquer the underworld and Heaven, which he wrested from Indra and the Devas. The Devas, after their defeat at the hands of Bali, approached their patron Vishnu and entreated him to restore their lordship over Heaven.
In Heaven, Bali, on the advice of his guru and advisor, Sukracharya, had begun the Ashwamedha Yaga so as to maintain his rule over the three worlds.
During an Ashwamedha yagna, Bali was granting wishes to his masses out of his generosity.
Vamana, in the guise of a short Brahmin carrying a wooden umbrella, went to the king to request three paces of land. Mahabali consented, against the warning of his guru, Sukracharya. Vamana then revealed his identity and enlarged to gigantic proportions to stride over the three worlds. He stepped from heaven to earth with the first step, from earth to the netherworld with the second. Having left nothing else to offer, for his third and final step, King Bali bowed down infront of the Vamana realizing that he was none other than his Lord Vishnu and asked him to place the third feet as this was the only thing that belonged to him.
Vaman then took the third step and thus raised him to Suthala, the supreme form of heaven. However, looking at his generosity and devotion, Vamana on request of Bali, gave him permission to visit earth once an year to ensure that his masses are well off and happy. The Onam festival is a celebration of welcoming Mahabali home to his lost kingdom. During this festival, beautiful floral decorations are made in every house and boat races are held throughout Kerala. A twenty-one-course feast is the most important part of the Onam festival.
In worshiping Mahabali and his ancestor Prahlada, he conceded sovereignty of Patala, the netherworld. Some texts also report that Vamana did not step into the netherworld, and instead gave its rule to Bali. In giant form, Vamana is known as Trivikrama.
Mahabali symbolizes ahankar, the three feet symbolizes the three planes of existence (Jagrat, Swapna and Sushupthi) and final step is on his head which elevates from all three states and he attains moksha.
Vamana as per Theory Of Evolution:
Some 5 million years ago, Homo Erectus got evolved. The organisms of this species were much more like humans. They walked on two legs, had lesser facial hairs, and had an upper body like a human. However, they were dwarves
The Vamana avatar of Vishnu could also relate to Neanderthals, which are known to be quite shorter than humans.
Some famous temple dedicated for vamana avatar are.
Thrikkakara Temple, Thrikkakkara, Cochin, Kerala.
Thrikkakara Temple is one of the few temples in India dedicated to Lord Vamana. It is situated in Thrikkakara, a village panchayat near Kochi in the state of Kerala, South India.
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram in Kanchipuram.
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu located in Tirukkoyilur, Tamil Nadu, India. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Ulagalantha Perumal and his consort Lakshmi as Poongothai Vamana Temple, Eastern Group of Temples, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh.
Vamana temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Vamana, an avatar of the god Vishnu. The temple was built between assignable to circa 1050-75. It forms part of the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Narasimha Avatar (नरसिंह), Narasingh, Narsingh and Narasingha, in derviative languages is an avatar of Vishnu and one of Hinduism’s most popular deities, as evidenced in early epics, iconography, and temple and festival worship for over a millennium.
Narasimha is often visualised as half-man/half-lion, having a human-like torso and lower body, with a lion-like face and claws. This image is widely worshipped in deity form by a significant number of Vaishnava groups. He is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees in times of need. Vishnu is believed to have taken the avatar to destroy the demon king Hiranyakashipu.
Hiranyaksha’s brother Hiranyakashipu wants to take revenge by destroying Lord Vishnu and his followers. He performs penance to please Brahma, the god of creation. Impressed by this act, Brahma offers him any thing he wants.
Hiranyakashipu asks for a tricky boon from Brahma which goes like this.
“O my lord, O best of the givers of benediction, if you will kindly grant me the benediction I desire, please let me not meet death from any of the living entities created by you. Grant me that I not die within any residence or outside any residence, during the daytime or at night, nor on the ground or in the sky. Grant me that my death not be brought about by any weapon, nor by any human being or animal. Grant me that I not meet death from any entity, living or nonliving created by you. Grant me, further, that I not be killed by any demigod or demon or by any great snake from the lower planets. Since no one can kill you in the battlefield, you have no competitor. Therefore, grant me the benediction that I too may have no rival. Give me sole lordship over all the living entities and presiding deities, and give me all the glories obtained by that position. Furthermore, give me all the mystic powers attained by long austerities and the practice of yoga, for these cannot be lost at any time.”
Brahma grants the boon.
With virtually no fear of death he unleashes terror. Declares himself as god and asks people to utter no God’s name except his.
One day while Hiranyakashipu performed austerities at Mandarachala Mountain, his home was attacked by Indra and the other devatas. At this point the Devarshi (divine sage) Narada intervenes to protect Kayadu, whom he describes as sinless.Following this event, Narada takes Kayadu into his care and while under the guidance of Narada, her unborn child (Hiranyakashipu son) Prahalada, becomes affected by the transcendental instructions of the sage even at such a young stage of development. Thus, Prahlada later begins to show symptoms of this earlier training by Narada, gradually becoming recognised as a devoted follower of Vishnu, much to his father’s disappointment.
Hiranyakashipu furious at the devotion of his son to Vishnu, as the god had killed his brother. Finally, he decides to commit filicide. But each time he attempts to kill the boy, Prahlada is protected by Vishu’s mystical power. When asked, Prahlada refuses to acknowledge his father as the supreme lord of the universe and claims that Vishnu is all-pervading and omnipresent.
Hiranyakashipu points to a nearby pillar and asks if ‘his Vishnu’ is in it and says to his son Prahlada. Prahlada then answers,
“He was, He is and He will be.”
Hiranyakashipu, unable to control his anger, smashes the pillar with his mace, and following a tumultuous sound, Vishu in the form of Narasimha appears from it and moves to attack Hiranyakashipu. in defence of Prahlada. In order to kill Hiranyakashipu and not upset the boon given by Brahma, the form of Narasimha is chosen. Hiranyakashipu can not be killed by human, deva or animal. Narasimha is neither one of these as he is a form of Vishu incarnate as a part-human, part-animal. He comes upon Hiranyakashipu at twilight (when it is neither day nor night) on the threshold of a courtyard (neither indoors nor out), and puts the demon on his thighs (neither earth nor space). Using his sharp fingernails (neither animate nor inanimate) as weapons, he disembowels and kills the demon.
Aftermath: There is another story of Lord Shiva fight with Narasimha to calm him. After slaying Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha’s wrath was not appeased. The world trembled, fearing what he might do. The Devas (the gods) requested Shiva to tackle Narasimha.
Initially, Shiva brings forth Virabhadra, one of his terrifying forms, in order to calm Narasimha. When that failed, Shiva manifested as the human-lion-bird Sharabha. Shiva then assumed the Sharabha form.
Sharabha then attacked Narasimha and seized him up until he was immobilized. He thus quelled Narasimha’s terrifying rage. Narasimha became a devotee of Shiva after being bound by Sharabha. Sharabha then decapitated and de-skinned Narasimha so Shiva could wear the hide and lion-head as a garment. The Linga Purana and Sharabha Upanishad also mention this mutilation and murder of Narasimha. After the mutilation, Vishnu assumed his normal form and retired to his abode, after duly praising Shiva. It was from here on that Shiva came to be known as “Sharabeshamurti” or “Simhagnamurti”.
This myth is particularly interesting because it brings to forth the past rivalries between Shaivites and Vaishnavites.
Narasimha as per Theory Of Evolution:
The mammals or semi-amphibians gradually evolved to become human-like creatures, which could walk on two legs, used their hands to hold things, but the brain was still not that developed. They had a human like lower body and animal like upper body.
Though not exactly apes, Narsimha Avatar fits into the above description pretty well. Though not a direct reference, it would certainly mean an ape man.
An interesting point here is that those who are aware of the story of Narsimha, he appears at a time, place and setting, where each attribute is in the middle of two things(neither human nor animal, neither at home nor outside, neither day nor night)
Temples: There are more than 100 temples of Narasimha. Of which, the famous are, Ahobilam. Ahobalam is located in the Allagadda mandal of Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh. This is the place where the Lord killed Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahalada.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimhar Temple, Which is located about 55 km from Chennai and 21 km from Arakkonam, in Narasingapuram, Thiruvallur
Credits: Photo and Image Credits to the Original Artists and Uploaders
Varaha avatar (वराह) is the third avatar of the Vishnu which is in the form of a boar. When the demon (asura) Hiranyaksha stole the Earth (personified as the goddess Bhudevi) and hid her in the primordial waters, Vishnu appeared as Varaha to rescue her. Varaha slew the demon and retrieved the Earth from the ocean, lifting it on his tusks, and restored Bhudevi to her place in the universe.
Jaya and Vijaya are the two gatekeepers (dwarapalakas) of the abode of Vishnu (Vaikuntha Lok). According to the Bhagavata Purana, the Four Kumaras, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanatkumara, who are the manasaputras of Brahma (sons born from the mind or thought power of Brahma), were wandering across the worlds, and one day decide to pay a visit to Narayana – the form of Vishnu that rests on Shesh naga.
The Sanat Kumaras approach Jaya and Vijaya and ask to be let in. Now due to the strength of their tapas, the four Kumaras appear to be mere children, though they are of great age. Jaya and Vijaya, the gate keepers of the Vaikuntha stop the Kumaras at the gate mistaking them as children. They also tell the Kumaras that Sri Vishnu is resting and that they cannot see him now. The enraged Kumaras tell Jaya and Vijaya that Vishnu is available for his devotees any time, and cursed both of them that they would have to give up their divinity, be born as mortals on Earth and live like humans.
So now they were born on earth as Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu to the sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti and were one of the Daityas, a race of demons originating from Diti.
The demon brothers were manifestations of pure evil and create havoc in the universe. The elder brother Hiranyaksha practises tapas (austerities) and is blessed by Brahma with a boon that makes him indestructible by any animal or human. He and his brother torment the inhabitants of earth as well as the gods and engage in war with the latter. Hiranyaksha takes the earth (personified as the goddess Bhudevi) and hides her in the primordial waters. The earth gives a loud cry of distress as she is kidnapped by the demon,
Since Hiranyaksha had not included the boar in the list of animals that would not be able to kill him, Vishnu assumes this form with huge tusks and goes down to the primordial ocean. Varaha has four arms, two of which hold the Sudarshana chakra (discus) and shankha (conch), while the other two hold a gada (mace), a sword, or a lotus or one of them makes the varadamudra (gesture of blessing). Varaha may be depicted with all of Vishnu’a attributes in his four hands: the Sudarshana chakra, the shankha, the gada and the lotus. In the Bhagavata Purana, Varaha emerges as a tiny beast (a size of a thumb) from the nostrils of Brahma, but soon starts to grow. Varaha’s size increases to that of an elephant and then to that of an enormous mountain. The scriptures emphasize his gigantic size. The Vayu Purana describes Varaha as 10 yojanas (The range of a yojana is disputed and ranges between 6–15 kilometere (3.7–9.3 mi) in width and a 1000 yojanas in height. He is large as a mountain and blazing like the sun. Dark like a rain cloud in complexion, his tusks are white, sharp and fearsome. His body is the size of the space between the earth and the sky. His thunderous roar is frightening. In one instance, his mane is so fiery and fearsome that Varuna, the god of the waters, requests Varaha to save him from it. Varaha complies and folds his mane.
In the ocean, Varaha encounters Hiranyaksha, who obstructs his path and challenges him for a duel. The demon mocks Varaha as the beast and warns him not to touch earth. Ignoring the demon’s threats, Varaha lifts the earth on his tusks. Hiranyaksha charges towards the boar in rage with a mace. The two fiercely fight with maces. Finally, Varaha slays the demon after a thousand-year duel. Varaha rises from the ocean with the earth in his tusks and places her gently above it in her original position, as the gods and the sages sing Varaha’s praises.
Further, the earth goddess Bhudevi falls in love with her rescuer Varaha. Vishnu – in his Varaha form – marries Bhudevi, making her one of the consorts of Vishnu. In one narrative, Vishnu and Bhudevi indulge in vigorous embraces and as a result, Bhudevi becomes fatigued and faints, sinking a little in the primordial ocean. Vishnu again acquires the form of Varaha and rescues her, reinstating her in her original position above the waters.
Varaha as per Theory Of Evolution: Reptiles gradually evolved to form the semi-amphibians, which later evolved to form first complete animals, which could exist purely on land. They could bear children and walk on land.
Varaha, or the boar was the third Avatar of Vishnu. Interestingly, boar was the first mammal to have whose teeth were at the front, and so didnt swallow food but eat more like humans.
Sri Varahaswami Temple in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh. It is located on the shores of a temple pond, called the Swami Pushkarini, in Tirumala, near Tirupati. The region is called Adi-Varaha Kshestra, the abode of Varaha.
Another important temple is the Bhuvarahaswami Temple in Srimushnam town, to the northeast of Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu. It was built in the late 16th century by Krishnappa II, a Thanjavur Nayak ruler.
Credits: Phot Credits to the real artists and owners.
In Dashavatars, Kurma (कूर्म; ) was the second Avatar of Vishnu, succeeding Matsya and preceding Varaha. Like Matsya this incarnation also occurred in Satya yuga.
Durvasa, The Sage, once gave a garland to Indra, the king of Gods. Indra placed the garland around his elephant, but the animal trampled it, insulting the sage. Durvasa then cursed the Gods to lose their immortality, strength, and all the divine powers. After losing the kingdom of heaven, and every thing they once had and enjoyed, they approached Vishnu for help.
Vishnu advised that they had to drink the nectar of immortality (Amrit) to regain their glory. Now to obtain the nectar of immortality, they needed to churn the ocean of milk, a body of water so large they needed Mount Mandara as the churning staff, and the serpent Vasuki as the churning rope. The Devas were not strong enough to churn on their own, and declared peace with their foes, the Asuras, to enlist their help.
The gods and demons got together for the the herculean task. The huge mountain, Mandara, was used as the pole to stir the waters. But the force was so great the mountain began to sink into the ocean of milk. To stop this, Vishnu quickly transformed himself into a tortoise and placed the mountain on his back. This image of Vishnu as the tortoise was his second avatar, ‘Kurma.’
Once the pole was balanced, it was tied to the gigantic snake, Vasuki, and the gods and demons started pulling it from either side.
As the churning began and the massive waves whirled, from the depths of the ocean also came out the ‘Halahal’ Or ‘Kalkoot’ visha(poison). When the poison was taken out, it started heating up the cosmos considerably. Such was its heat that people started running in dread, animals started dying and plants started withering. The “Visha” had no taker hence Shiva came to everyone’s rescue and he drank the Visha. But, he did not swallow it. He kept the poison in his throat. Since then, Shiva’s throat became blue, and he came to be known as Neelkantha or the blue-throated one. This is the reason why shiva is always high on marijuana, being a God.
The churning continued and poured forth a number of gifts and treasures. They included Kamdhenu, the wish-fulfilling cow; the goddess of wealth, Laxmi; the wish-fulfilling tree, Kalpavriksha; and finally, came Dhanvantari carrying the pot of amrita and a book of medicine called Ayurveda. Once the amrita was out, the demons forcefully took it away. Two demons, Rahu and Ketu, disguised themselves as gods and drank the amrita. The sun and moon gods recognised it to be a trick and complained to Vishnu, who in turn, severed their heads with his Sudarshan Chakra. As the divine nectar did not get time to reach below the throat, the heads remained immortal, but the body below died. This helps Rahu and Ketu take revenge on the Sun and Moon by devouring them every year during solar and lunar eclipse.
Kurma as per Theory Of Evolution:
The second step of evolution of life, were creatures that could live on land as well as in water, like
the tortoise. The reptiles appeared almost 385 million years ago on earth.
As mentioned above, Kurma Avatar is in form of a tortoise.
There are three temples dedicated to this incarnation of Vishnu in India, Kurmai of Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, Sri Kurmam in Andhra Pradesh, and Gavirangapur in the Chitradurg District of Karnataka.
The name of the village Kurmai mentioned above originated as there is historical temple of Kurma Varadarajaswamy(Kurmavatar of Lord Vishnu) god in this village. The temple located in srikurmam in srikakulam district, andhra pradesh is also the avatara of kurma.
Credits: Photo Credits to the original Uploaders and Artists (They are not my property)
Matsya is said to be the first avatar of Vishnu. He is a fish (or sometimes depicted as half man and half fish like a mermaid). He is said to have rescued the first man from a flood in a story that seems to have influenced the Noah flood story (or, perhaps more likely, both stories were influenced by a common source). Matsya is associated with the beginning of the world.
Matsya (मत्स्य, Fish) is the avatar of the Vishnu in the form of a fish, preceding Kurma. It is listed as the first avatar in the lists of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu. Matsya is described to have rescued the first man, Manu, from a great deluge. Matsya may be depicted as a giant fish, or anthropomorphically with a human torso connected to the rear half of a fish.
One Line Explaination of this avatar is: In this avatar, Vishnu Warn Mahapralaya (Big Flood) and Rescue Vedas. Vishnu also saved the Saint Vaivaswata.
This avatar was taken by Maha Vishnu to save the humanity and the sacred Veda text from the flood in the Satiyuga. In Matsya Avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnates himself as a fish in this world and informs King Manu that the world would come to an end by a huge flood in seven days and to survive this and move on to the next yug the king to build a huge boat and take the seven sages, seeds of all plants, one animal of each type along with him. The matsya told Manu that he would appear on the seventh day to propel the boat to Mt Himavan. True to his word, lord Vishnu appeared before Manu in his avatar as fish and propelled the Boat to Mt Himavan and kept them there till the flood was over. The story is:
Many years ago, the whole world was destroyed. The destruction in fact extended to all the three lokas (worlds) of bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka. Bhuloka is the earth, svarloka or svarga is heaven and bhuvarloka is a region between the earth and heaven. All three worlds were flooded with water. Vaivasvata Manu was the son of the sun-god. He had spent ten thousand years in prayers and tapasya (meditation) in the hermitage vadrika. This hermitage was on the banks of the river Kritamala.
Unfolding the Story of King Satyavrata and his role in the context of Mahavishnu’s Incarnation as a Giant Fish, Suka Maha Muni informed King Parikshith that the former King would become the Seventh Manu as Sraddhadeva. The incident of the Incarnation of the Lord as Fish was recalled in this context since King Satyavrata was once paying offerings of water in River Kirtimala, a small fish appeared on his palms and requested him not to throw it back in the River as big fishes might swallow it and as such keep it safe in a pot.
Once Manu came to the river to perform his ablutions. He immersed his hands in the water to get some water for his ablutions. When he raised them, he found that there was a small fish swimming in the water in the cup of his hands. Manu was about to throw the fish back into the water when the fish said, “Don’t throw me back. I am scared of alligators and crocodiles and big fishes. Save me.”
Manu found an earthen pot in which he could keep the fish. But soon the fish became too big for the pot and Manu had to find a larger vessel in which the fish might be kept. But the fish became too big for this vessel as well and Manu had to transfer the fish to a lake. But the fish grew and grew and became too large for the lake.
So, Manu transferred the fish to the ocean. In the ocean, the fish grew until it became gigantic.
By now, Manu’s wonder knew no bounds. He said, “Who are you? You must be the Lord Vishnu, I bow down before you. Tell me, why are you tantalising me in the form of a fish?” The fish replied, “I have come to punish the evil and protect the good. Seven days from now, the ocean will flood the entire world and all beings will be destroyed. But since you have saved me, I will save you. When the world is flooded, a boat will arrive here. Take the saptarshis (seven sages) with you and spend the terrible night that will come on that boat. Don’t forget to take the seeds of foodgrains with you.
Will arrive and you will then fasten the boat to my horn with a huge snake.”
Matsya avatar saving Manu and the seven sages in Maha PralaySaying this, the fish disappeared. Everything happened as the fish had promised it would. The ocean became turbulent and Manu climbed into the boat. He tied the boat to the huge horn that the fish had. He prayed to the fish and the fish related the Matsya Purana to him. Eventually, when the water receded, the boat was anchored to the topmost peak of the Himalyas. And living beings were created once again. A danava (demon) named Hayagriva had stolen the sacred texts of the Vedas and the knowledge of the brahman. In his form of a fish, Vishnu also killed Hayagriva and recovered the Vedas.
Matsya Jayanti is a day which is celebrated as a birth day of first incarnation of Lord Vishnu on the earth as Matsya Avatar. On that day lord Vishnu had Lord Vishnu born as a one horned fish. He had born as on the 3rd day of Shukla Paksh of the month of Chaitra month according to the Hindu calendar.
Matsya as per Theory Of Evolution:
In the evolution chronology, life evolved in the waters and thus the first form of life is an aquatic animal i.e. the fish (matsya). Proto-Amphibians that primarily lived in water can be seen as the first stage of life.
Lord Vishnu took the form of a huge fish and towed the primordial boat carrying good people and cattle to the new world of the future through the waters of the great deluge.
As per the theory of evolution, These creatures first appeared some 540 million years ago.
A starking resemblance is the first Avatar of Vishnu, Matsya Avatar, which was actually a fish that helped Manu save the world.
Dashavatara ( दशावतार) refers to the ten avatars of Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation. Vishnu is said to descend in form of an avatar to restore cosmic order. Vishnu is a member of hindu Trinity who preserves the cosmic order.
The Dashavataras or the incarnations were taken by Vishnu to re-establish dharma or righteousness and destroy tyranny and injustice on earth.
In the basic Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Hindu god Vishnu is the preserver and protector of creation. Vishnu is the embodiment of mercy and goodness, the self-existent, all-pervading power that preserves the universe and maintains the cosmic order Dharma.
Vishnu is often represented resting on the coiled serpent Shesha, with Vishnu’s consort Lakshmi massaging his feet. Vishnu never sleeps and is the deity of Shanti, the peaceful mood. Vishnu does not however tolerate Ego.
Most often, the Hindu god Vishnu is shown with four attributes or weapons. In one hand Vishnu holds the conch or Sankha. The second hand of Vishnu holds the disc. The third hand of Vishnu holds the club and in the fourth hand Vishnu holds the lotus or Padma. Vishnu also has a bow called Sarnga and a sword called Nandaka.
Most of the time, good and evil forces are evenly matched in the world. But at times, the balance is destroyed and evil demons get the upper hand. Often in response to a request by the other gods, Vishnu then incarnates in a human form to set the balance right again. 10 Vishnu incarnations are generally recognized as the most important Vishnu avatars, even though opinions differ naturally and some sources may also see other important figures of the indian heritage as incarnations of Vishnu.
As there are total 24 incarnations but these are considerred as main ten incarnations.
The list of Dashavatara varies across sects and regions.
The list is:
Sometimes, Krishna replaces Vishnu as the source of all avatars and Balarama takes Krishna’s place in the list. Buddha may be dropped from the list and substituted by regional deities like Vithoba or Jagannath, or Balarama.
The Dashavatara order is interpreted to convey Darwin’s evolution. Yuga
The first four avatars of Vishnu i.e. Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha appeared in Satya or Krita Yuga, the first of the four Yugas, also called ‘The Golden Age’.
The next three avatars of vishnu i.e. Vamana, Parashurama, Ramaappeared in Treta Yuga,
The eighth and ninth avatars of Vishnu i.e. Krishna And Buddha in Dwapara Yuga.
And the tenth avatars of Vishnu i.e. Kalki will appear in Kali Yuga. The time till completion for Kali Yuga is in 427,000 years. In the Vishnu Purana and the Bhagavata Purana, the Kali-yuga is described as ending with the appearance of Kalki, who will defeat the wicked, liberate the virtuous, and initiate a new Satya or Kalki Yuga.
Here is the list of 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu:
Lion on the battlefield
Rama is often depicted as a very soft-natured person but on the battlefield his shourya-parakrama are unbeatable. He is truly a warrior at heart. After Shoorpanaka’s episode, 14000 warriors march past to attack Rama. Instead of seeking help from Lakshmana in the war, he gently asks Lakshmana to take Seetha and relax in the nearby cave. Seetha on the other hand is quite stunned, for she has never seen Rama’s dexterity at war. With enemies all around him, he fights the whole war himself standing at the center with 1 : 14,000 ratio, while Seetha who watches all this from the cave eventually realizes that her husband is a one-man-army, One has to read the Ramayana to understand the beauty of this episode.
Embodiment of Dharma – Ramo Vigrahavan Dharmaha!
He is a manifestation of dharma. He knows not just the code of conduct but also the dharma-sookshmas (subtleties of dharma). He quotes them many a times to various people,
While leaving Ayodhya, Kausalya requests him in various ways to stay back. With lot of affection, she even tries to take advantage of his nature of adhering to dharma by saying that it is the son’s duty according to dharma to fulfill the wishes of his mother. In this manner, she asks him that isn’t it against dharma for Rama to leave Ayodhya? Rama replies detailing further dharma that it is certainly one’s duty to fulfill his mother’s wishes but dharma also has it that when there is a contradiction between mother’s wish and father’s wish, the son must follow the father’s wish. This is a dharma sookshma.
Shot by arrows in chest, Vali questions, “Rama! You are renowned as the embodiment of dharma. How is it that you being such a great warrior have failed to follow the conduct of dharma and shot me from behind the bushes?” Rama explains so, “My dear Vali! Let me give you the reasoning behind it. Firstly, you acted against dharma. As a righteous kshatriya, I have acted against evil which is my foremost duty. Secondly, In accordance with my dharma as a friend to Sugreeva, who has taken refuge in me, I lived up to my promise I made to him and thus fulfilled dharma again. Most importantly, you are the king of monkeys. As per the rules of dharma, it is not unrighteous for a Kshatriya to hunt and kill an animal either straight ahead or from behind. So, punishing you is totally justifiable according to dharma, more so because your conduct is against the tenets of laws.”
During the initial days of exile, Seetha asks Rama detailing the dharma of exile. She tells, “During the time of exile one has to conduct himself peacefully like an ascetic, So is it not against dharma that you carry your bows and arrows during exile?” Rama replies with further insights into the dharma of exile, “Seetha! One’s swadharma (own dharma) takes higher priority than the dharma that has to be followed according to the situation. My foremost duty (swadharma) is to protect people and dharma as a kshatriya, so according to the tenets of dharma, this takes the top most priority in spite of the fact that we are in exile. In fact, I am even ready to give up on you, who are my most beloved, but I will never give up on my swadharmanushtana. Such is my adherence to dharma. So it is not incorrect for me to carry bows and arrows in spite of being in exile.” This episode happened during the vanvas. These words of Rama show his steadfast devotion to dharma. They also give us an insight into what could have been Rama’s mental state when he was forced to place his duty as a king even higher than his duty as a husband (i.e during the times of agnipareeksha and Seetha’s exile later) as per the rules of dharma.These are some instances in Ramayana that depict that Rama’s every single move was taken after considering all the subtleties of dharma which is often obscure and misunderstood by most of the people.
Embodiment of Compassion
Even when Vibheeshana took refuge in Rama, Some of the vanaras were so hot blooded that they insisted Rama to kill Vibheeshana because he was from the enemy side. Rama sternly replied back to them, “I will never forsake the one who has taken refuge in me! Forget Vibheeshana! I will even save Ravana if he takes refuge in me.” (And thus follows the quote, Sree Raama Raksha, Sarva Jagath Raksha)
Rama was deeply in love with Seetha by heart, mind and soul. Despite having the option to marry again, he chose to remain with her forever. He was so in love with Seetha that when she was kidnapped by Ravana, he writhed in pain wailing Seethaa Seethaa falling on ground crying like a mad man even in front of the vanaras totally forgetting all his stature as a king. In fact, In Ramayana it is mentioned many times that Rama often shed so many tears for Seetha that he lost all his strength in crying and often fell down unconscious.
Finally, Efficacy of Rama Nama
It is said that chanting the name of Rama burns away the sins and confers peace. There is also a hidden mystic meaning behind this connotation. According to mantra shastra, Ra is an Agni beeja which embeds within it the fire principle when uttered burns (sins) and Ma corresponds to the Soma principle which when uttered cools (confers peace).
Chanting Rama nama accounts to chanting the whole Vishnu Sahasranama (1000 names of Vishnu). According to Sanskrit scriptures, there is a principle in which sounds and letters are associated with their corresponding numbers. According to it,
Ra denotes number 2 (Ya – 1, Ra – 2, La – 3, Va – 4 … )
Ma denotes number 5 (Pa – 1, Pha – 2, ba – 3, Bha – 4, Ma – 5)
And hence it is said, रामरामेतिरामेतिरमेरामेमनोरमे । सहस्रनामतत्तुल्यंरामनामवरानने ॥
Translation: “Sri Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorame, Sahasranama Tat tulyam, Rama Nama Varaanane.”
Meaning: The Name of Rama is as Great as the Thousand Names of God (Vishnu Sahasranama).
Credits: Post Credits Vamsi Emani
Photo Credits: To the Owners and original Artists
Jarasandha (Sanskrit: जरासंध) was A badass villain from Hindu Mythology. He was the king of Magadha. He was the son of a Vedic king named Brihadratha. He was also a great devotee of Lord Shiva. But he is generally held in negative light owing to his enmity with the Yadava clan in the Mahabaratha.
Brihadratha was the king of Magadha. His wives were the twin princesses of Benares. While he led a content life and was a famed king, he was unable to have children for a very long time. Frustrated over his inability to have children, he retreated to the forest and eventually ended up serving a sage named Chandakaushika. The sage took pity on him and on finding the actual cause for his sorrow, gave him a fruit and told him to give it to his wife who in turn will soon become pregnant. But the sage did not know that he had two wives. Not wishing to displease either wife, Brihadratha cut the fruit in half and gave it to both of them. Soon both the wives became pregnant and gave birth to two halves of a human body. These two lifeless halves were very horrifying to view. So, Brihadratha ordered these to be thrown in the forest. A demoness (Rakshasi) named “Jara” (orBarmata) found these two pieces and held each of these in her two palms. Incidentally when she brought both of her palms together,the two pieces joined together giving rise to a living child. The Child cried loudly which created panic for Jara. Not having the heart to eat a living child, the demoness gave it to the king and explained him all that happened. The father named the boy as Jarasandha (literally meaning “joined by Jara”).
Chandakaushika arrived at the court and saw the child. He prophesied to Brihadratha that his son will be specially gifted and would be a great devotee of Lord Shiva.
In India, descendants of Jarasandh still exist and use Joriya (which means piece of flesh named after their ancestor, “jarasandha”) as their suffix while naming themselves.
Jarasandha became a famed and powerful king, extending his empire far and wide. He prevailed over many kings, and was crowned emperor of Magadha. Even while Jarasandha’s power continued to grow, he had concerns over his future & that of the empires, as he had no heirs. Therefore, on the advice of his close friend kingBanasura, Jarasandh decided to get his two daughters ‘Asti and Prapti’ married to the heir apparent of Mathura, Kansa. Jarasandha had also lent his army and his personal advise to Kansa to create a coup d’état in Mathura.
When Krishna killed Kansa in Mathura, Jarasandha become enraged because of Krishna and the entire Yadavas clan on seeing his two daughters being widowed. So, Jarasandha attacked Mathura repeatedly. He attacked Mathura 17 times. Sensing danger over the repeated attack on Mathura by Jarasandha, Krishna relocated his capital city to Dwaraka. Dwaraka was an island and it was not possible for anyone to attack it at all. Hence, Jarasandha could not attack the Yadavas anymore.
Yudhisthira was planning to make a Rajasuya yagna or Ashwamedha Yagna in order to become the emperor. Krishnaconvinced him that Jarasandha was the only obstacle to oppose Yudhisthira from becoming an emperor. Jarasandha raidedMathura (Krishna’s ancestral capital) and got defeated by Krishna every time. At one stage to avoid unnecessary loss of lives, Krishna moved his capital to Dwaraka, in one stroke. Since Dwaraka was an island city guarded heavily by Yadava Army, Jarasandha was not able to invadeDwaraka anymore. To attain the capacity to invade Dwaraka, Jarasandha planned to conduct a Yagna to please Lord Shiva. For this Yagna, He had imprisoned 95 kings and was in need of 5 more kings, after which he was planning to perform the Yagna, sacrificing all the 100 kings. Jarasandha thought that this Yagna will make him win the powerful Yadava Army.
The kings captured by Jarasandha wrote a secret missive to Krishna to rescue them from Jarasandha. Krishna, not wanting to go for an all out war with Jarasandha to rescue the captured kings, in order to avoid a major loss of lives, devised a plan to eliminate Jarasandha. Krishna advised Yudhisthira that Jarasandha was a major obstacle and must be killed before Yudhisthira starts performing the Rajasuya yagna. Krishna planned a clever scheme to eliminate Jarasandha by making Bheemawrestle with the Jarasandha in a dual fight, who killed Jarasandha after a fierce battle (Dwandwa yudha), which lasted for 27 days.
Like Karna, Jarasandha was also very good in giving charity donations. After performing his Shiva pooja, he used to give whatever the Brahmins asked for. On one such occasion Krishna, Arjuna and Bheema in the guise of Brahmins met Jarasandha. Krishna asked Jarasandha to choose any one of them for a wrestling match. Jarasandha chose Bheema, the strongman, to wrestle. Both of them fought for 27 days. Bheema did not know how to defeat Jarasandha. So, he sought the help of Krishna. Krishna knew the secret by which Jarasandha could be killed. Since, Jarasandha was brought to life when the two lifeless halves joined together, conversely, he can be killed only when these his body was torn into two halves and find a way as how these two don’t merge. Krishna took a stick, he broke it into two and threw them in both directions. Bheema got the hint. He tore Jarasandha’s body into two and threw the pieces in two directions. But, these two pieces came together and Jarasandha was able to attack Bheema again. Bheema got tired after several such futile attempts. He again sought the help of Krishna. This time, Lord Krishna took a stick, broke it into two and threw the left piece on right side and the right piece on the left side. Bheema precisely followed the same. Now, he tore Jarasandha’s body into two and threw them in opposite directions. Thus, Jarasandha was killed as the two pieces could not merge into one.
1. Hinduism is the world’s 3rd largest religion closely following Christianity and Islam. However, unlike the top 2 religions, 95% of Hindus live in a single nation! Source
2. If you ask a religious Hindu, when did Krishna or Rama live – they will give an answer like 50 million years ago or some other random big number. Actually, it doesn’t matter. Because, Hindus believe in a circular time (rather than the linear time concept in the Western world).
3. Each of our time cycles has 4 main periods – the Satya yuga (golden age of innocence), Tretha Yuga, Dwapara yuga and Kali Yuga. In the last stage, people get so filthy that whole thing is cleaned up and the cycle starts all over again.
4. Hinduism is the oldest of the major extant religions. Its fundamental book – Rig Veda was written over 3800 years ago.
5. Rig Veda was orally passed for 3500+ years in parallel. And yet, its current form has no major discrepancies. It is indeed a stupendous achievement that a major body of work can be orally passed between people in such a large nation with no loss in quality/content.
6. Unlike other major religions, Hinduism doesn’t consider the pursuit of wealth as a sin. In fact, we celebrate wealth in the form of many gods such as Lakshmi, Kubera and Vishnu. Hinduism has a 4 level hierarchy – Kama (pursuit of pleasures including sexual/sensual) – Artha (pursuit of livelihood , wealth and power), Dharma (pursuit of philosophy, religion and doing duties to society) and Moksha (liberation) and we progress from the top to bottom. This is very close to Maslow’s hierarchy and thus Hindus are natural capitalists.
7. Hinduism is the parent religion for 2 of the other major religions of South Asia – Buddhism and Sikhism. It is also closely associated with its sister religion – Jainism.
8. The holiest number for Hindus is 108. This is the ratio of Sun’s distance (from earth)/Sun’s diameter or Moon’s distance (from earth)/Moon’s diameter. Thus, most of our prayer beads have 108 beads.
9. Beyond India, Hinduism is the dominant religion of many exotic regions such as Nepal, Mauritius, Bali, second biggest religion of Fiji & Sri Lanka and at one point covered most of South east Asia – including Indonesia, Cambodia and Malaysia. Source
10. The Hindu epic of Mahabharatha – that is often used to teach the principles of Hinduism – is written in 1.8 million words long poem (10X the combined length of the Illiad and Odyssey)
11. Unlike all other major religions, we don’t have a founder or a prophet (like Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammad or Buddha). According to Hindus, the religion has no origin (again coming back to the circular concept).
12. Unlike the popular Western conception, Yoga in Hinduism is not merely an exercise routine. It is one of the founding blocks of the religion.
13. The 4 most holiest animals for Hindus are the cow, elephant, snake and peacock (India’s national bird and a wagon of many Hindu gods) – 4 main animals of India.
14.The largest religious structures in the world – Angkor Vat in Cambodia were built by the Hindu kings of South East Asia.
15. Hinduism has no formal Institution – no Pope, no Bible and no central body.
16. Unlike Christians or Muslims, we go to the temple at any time, any day. There are no special Sabbath, Sunday congregations or Friday prayers.
17. Hindu scriptures are organized into Vedas (poems that written in multiple levels from abstract rural level and going deeper into cosmic universe), Upanishads (scientific discourses and arguments about the world), Brahmanas (manuals for ritual performances), Aranyakas (experiments done on human mind and nature in the forests), Puranas (mythologies about Hindu gods) and Itihasas (notebooks on “historical” events”).
18. Hindus don’t mourn for anything and believe that happiness is the highest form of religious achievement. Thus, unlike most other religions there is no sad festivals for us where we are supposed to mourn.
19. Fire & Light are among the holiest of offerings for Hindus. The concept of Yajna – offering things to fire – is considered one of the highest forms of worships in Hinduism. It symbolizes the idea that everything meets its end.
20. Hinduism’s holiest body of works – Rig Veda – talks of 33 main gods.Although most Hindus consider the Vedas as the holiest, none of those 33 gods are in mainstream worship now. Also READ: 330Million Hindu Gods
21. Unlike other major religions, Hindu scriptures ask a number of philosophical questions and is ok with “don’t know” answer for some of them. One of the critical body of these questions is the Prashna Upanishad. unfortunately most of us cannot understand the answer to the fundamental questions posted there.
22. Hindus strongly believe in rebirth and karma. That means my next birth will be determined by my actions of this birth.
23. Hindus hold big chariot processions to carry their gods during special occasions. Some of these chariots can be huge and marauding – sometimes killing people in their path when they lose control. The biggest one of all – Jagannath – gave the English dictionary term Juggernaut -meaning the unstoppable one.
24. Hindus hold Ganga as the purest of all waters and believe that bathing in it can purify them of their sins.
25. Kumbh Mela. It is considered to be largest peaceful gathering in the world with over 100 million people visiting during the Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013. Most of the sadhus and saints are said to be in samadhi and appear only to kumbh mela.
The holiest number for Hindus is 108. This is the ratio of Sun’s distance (from earth)/Sun’s diameter or Moon’s distance (from earth)/Moon’s diameter. Thus, most of our prayer beads have 108 beads.
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Long long ago there lived an asura(demon) named Dambhodbhava. He wanted to become immortal and so prayed to the Sun god, Surya. Pleased with his penance, Surya appeared before him. Dambhodbhava asked Surya to make him immortal. But Surya couldnt grant this boon since anything, anyone who was born on this planet will have to die. Surya offered him to ask for something else instead of immortality. Dambhodbhava thought of tricking the sun god and came up with a cunning request.
He said that he has to be protected by a thousand armors and laid the following conditions:
1. The thousand armors can be broken only by someone who performs penance for a thousand years!
2. Whoever breaks the armor should die immediately!
Surya was horribly worried. He knew that Dambhodbhava had performed a very powerful penance and that he could get the entire boon he had asked for. And Surya had a feeling that Dambhodbhava was not going to use his powers for good. However having no choice in the matter, Surya granted Dambhodbhava the boon. But deep down Surya was worried and seeked Lord Vishnu’s help, Vishnu asked him not to worry and he would save earth by eliminating adharma.
Immediately after getting the boon from Surya, Dambhodbhava started wrecking havoc on people. People were scared of fighting with him. There was no way of defeating him. Anybody who stood in his way was crushed by him. People started calling him Sahasrakavacha [meaning one who has a thousand armours]. It was around this time that King Daksha [the father of Sati, the first wife of Shiva] got one of his daughters, Murti married to Dharma – one of the ‘Manas putras’ of Lord Brahma, the God of Creation
Murti had also heard of Sahasrakavacha and wanted to put an end to his menace. So she prayed to Lord Vishnu to come and help the people. Lord Vishnu pleased with her appeared before her and said
‘I am pleased with your devotion! I will come and slay Sahasrakavacha! Because you have prayed to me, you would be the reason for slaying Sahasrakavacha!’.
Murti gave birth to not one child, but twins- Narayana and Nara. Narayana and Nara grew up in the ashrama surrounded by the forests. They were great devotees of Lord Shiva. The two brothers learnt the art of warfare.The two brothers were inseparable. What one thought the other was always able to finish. Both of them trusted each other implicitly and never questioned the other.
As time went on, Sahasrakavacha started attacking the forest areas surrounding Badrinath, where both Narayana and Nara were staying. As Nara was meditating, Narayana went and challenged Sahasrakavacha for a fight. Sahasrakavacha looked at the calm eyes of Narayana and for the first time since he got his boon, felt fear building inside him.
Sahasrakavacha faced the attack of Narayana and was astounded. He found that Narayana was powerful and had indeed got a lot of power from the penance of his brother. As the fight went on, Sahasrakavacha realized that the penance of Nara was giving Narayana strength. As Sahasrakavacha’s first armour broke he realized that Nara and Narayana were for all purposes one. They were just two persons having the same soul. But Sahasrakavacha was not too worried. He had lost one of his armours. He watched in glee as Narayana dropped dead, the minute one of his armours broke!
As Narayana fell down dead, Nara came running towards him. By his years of penance and pleasing Lord Shiva, he had gained the Maha Mritunjaya mantra – a mantra which brought back dead to life. Now Nara took the fighting with Sahasrakavacha while Narayana meditated! After thousand years, Nara broke another armor and dropped dead while Narayana came back and revived him. This went on until 999 armors were down. Sahasrakavacha realized that he could never beat the two brothers and ran away seeking refuge with Surya. When Nara approached Surya to give him up, Surya did not since he was protecting his devotee. Nara cursed Surya to be born as a human for this act and Surya accepted the curse for this devotee.
All this happened at the end of Treta yuga. Immediately after Surya refused to part with Sahasrakavacha, the Treta Yuga ended and the Dwapar Yuga started. To fulfil the promise to destroying Sahasrakavacha, Narayana and Nara were reborn – this time as Krishna and Arjuna.
Due to the curse, Dambhodbhava with Surya’s ansh within him was born as Karna, the eldest son of Kunti! Karna was born with one of armours as a natural protection, the last one left of Sahasrakavacha.
As Arjuna would have died if Karna had had the armour, on Krishna’s advise, Indra [Arjuna’s father] went in disguise and got the last armor of Karna, much before the war began.
As Karna was actually the monster Dambodbhava in his previous life, he led a very difficult life to pay for all the sins committed by him in his past life. But Karna also had Surya, the Sun God inside him, so Karna was a hero as well! It was Karna’s karma from his previous life that he had to be with Duryodhana and take part of the all the evil things he did. But the Surya in him made him brave, strong, fearless and charitable. It brought him long lasting fame.
Thus after learning the truth about Karna’s previous birth, Pandavas apologised to Kunti and Krishna for lamenting them…
Perhaps one of the least known stories about Shiva is his fight with Narasimha avatara of Lord Vishnu in the form of Sharabha. One version says he killed Narasimha! Another says Vishnu assumed another superhuman form Gandaberunda to fight Sharabha.
The mythical creature Sharabha shown here is part-bird and part-lion. Shiva Purana describes Sharabha as thousand-armed, lion-faced and with matted hair, wings and eight feet. In his clutches is Lord Narasimha, whom Sharabha slays!
First, Vishnu assumed the form of Narasimha to slay Hiranyakashipu, an asura (demon) king, who was terrorizing the universe and devotee of Shiva.The Shiva Purana mentions: After slaying Hiranyakashipu, Narasimha’s wrath was not appeased. The world trembled, fearing what he might do. The Devas (the gods) requested Shiva to tackle Narasimha. Initially, Shiva brings forth Virabhadra, one of his terrifying forms, in order to calm Narasimha. When that failed, Shiva manifested as the human-lion-bird Sharabha. Shiva then assumed the Sharabha form. Sharabha then attacked Narasimha and seized him up until he was immobilized. He thus quelled Narasimha’s terrifying rage. Narasimha became a devotee of Shiva after being bound by Sharabha. Sharabha then decapitated and de-skinned Narasimha so Shiva could wear the hide and lion-head as a garment. The Linga Purana and Sharabha Upanishad also mention this mutilation and murder of Narasimha. After the mutilation, Vishnu assumed his normal form and retired to his abode, after duly praising Shiva. It was from here on that Shiva came to be known as “Sharabeshamurti” or “Simhagnamurti”.
This myth is particularly interesting because it brings to forth the past rivalries between Shaivites and Vaishnavites.
The Vaishnavites have a similar story of Vishnu transforming into Gandaberunda to fight Sharabha, in yet another bird form: a 2 headed eagle.