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Sun god, Surya Deva and Ra

There are figures that share slightly similar stories across various cultures.  Here are some of them who comes to my mind.  There might be many more.

Sun god, Surya Deva and Ra appears in all cultures.
Africa consider the Sun to be the son of the supreme being Awondo and the Moon Awondo’s daughter.
In Aztec mythology, Tonatiuh was the sun god. The Aztec people considered him the leader of Tollan (heaven).
In Buddhist cosmology, the bodhisattva of the Sun is known as Ri Gong Ri Guang Pu Sa.
Ancient Egyptian consder him as Ra, By the Fifth Dynasty (2494 to 2345 BCE) he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the midday sun.
In hinduism The Adityas are one of the principal deities of the Vedic classical Hinduism belonging to Solar class. In the Vedas, numerous hymns are dedicated to Mitra, Varuna, Savitr etc. In Hinduism, Aditya is used in the singular to mean the Sun God, Surya.

Sun god, Surya Deva and Ra
Sun god, Surya Deva and Ra

Garuda and Horus:
Garuda is younger brother of Aruna.  Garuda associated with Garuda Purana, book that deals with soul after death.  Horus is associated with Egyptian book of the dead.  Horus and Seth are said to be rivals.  Aruna curses his mother Vinata.  Both Garuda’s and Horus’ parents have similar relationship.  Garuda often acts as a messenger between the gods and men.
In Buddhist mythology, the Garuda are enormous predatory birds with intelligence and social organization. Another name for the Garuda is suparna, meaning “well-winged, having good wings”.

Garuda and Horus
Garuda and Horus

Manu, Noah and flood myth:  Manu is a title accorded to a progenitor of humanity after the great flood at the end of each kalpa (aeon).

Manu, Noah and flood myth
Manu, Noah and flood myth

Murugan and Michael– commander-in-chief of the army of god and the son of Mahadev (god of gods).  Depicted as on top of a peacock.  He is similar to Michael.

Murugan and Michael
Murugan and Michael

Saptarishi and Light Beings :  They are naturally the most evolved Light Beings in the Creation and the guardians of the Divine Laws

Saptarishi and Light Beings
Saptarishi and Light Beings

Pishacha and Fallen gods: In the Yoga Vasishtha Maharamayana  Pisachas are a sort of aerial beings, with subtile bodies. They sometimes assume the form of a shadow to terrify people, and at others enter into their minds in an aerial form, in order to mislead them to error and wicked purposes. They are all the progeny of the fallen gods.

Pishacha and Fallen gods
Pishacha and Fallen gods

Giants, The Titans and The Asura: 

Celestial nymphs in Svarga, Heaven and Amaravati
: ….region for the virtuous alone with celestial gardens called Nandana planted with sacred trees and sweet-scented flowers. The fragrant groves are occupied by Apsaras (celestial nymphs).
They are in Greek mythology too.

Celestial nymphs in Svarga, Heaven and Amaravati
Celestial nymphs in Svarga, Heaven and Amaravati

 

God of death, Yama and punishments in Hell, Naraka located at Patala:  Deities associated with death take many different forms, depending on the specific culture and religion being referenced. Psychopomps, deities of the underworld, and resurrection deities are commonly called death deities in comparative religions texts. The term colloquially refers to deities that either collect or rule over the dead, rather than those deities who determine the time of death. However, all these types will be included in this article. God of death is there in almost every mythology on earth.

Angel of death, Yama and punishments in Hell, Naraka located at Patala
Angel of death, Yama and punishments in Hell, Naraka located at Patala

Ahasuerus, Ashwathama, the cursed immortal:  Ashwathama was cursed by Krishna to roam earth with leprosy till his second coming as Kalki.  Ashwathama will be cured when he meets Kalki at the end of the Kali yuga along with other immortals.

Ahasuerus, Ashwathama, the cursed immortal
Ahasuerus, Ashwathama, the cursed immortal


Indra, Zeus, Thor:  King of demi-gods.  Thunder bolt is his weapon.

Indra, Zeus, Thor
Indra, Zeus, Thor

Pillar of Fire: The “Pillar of Fire” is described in the Holy Books of three major world religions, Buddhism of course in the Maha Ummaga Jataka as the “Aggi Khanda”, in Hinduism as the “Anala Stambha” in the Shiva Purana, and in the Torah (Exodus 13:21-22) of Judaism a The Lord is described as guiding the Israelites as a Pillar of fire at night.
In all three texts the fiery pillar represent the supreme most God.

Pillar of Fire
Pillar of Fire

Credits: Photo credits to the original artists.

28 Deadly punishments prescribed for sinners mentioned in Garuda Purana - hindufaqs.com

The Garuda Purana is one of the Vishnu Puranas. It is essentially a dialogue between Lord Vishnu and Garuda, the king of birds. The Garuda Purana deals with the particular issues of Hindu Philosophy connected with death, funeral rites and the metaphysics of reincarnation. One might find often that the Sanskrit word ‘Naraka’ is taken to be “hell” in most English translations of Indian texts. The Hindu concept of “Heaven and “Hell” are not quite the same as what we imagine them to be in popular culture today. The western concepts of Hell and Heaven roughly correspond to the Hindu equivalent of “intermediate states between birth and rebirth”. One chapter of the text deals with the nature of punishment that is prescribed for sinners of the extreme kind that inhabit middle earth.

Sculpture of Garuda | Hindu FAQs
Sculpture of Garuda

These are all the deadly punishments mentioned in the text (called “The Torments of Yama”):

1. Tamisram (Heavy flogging) – Those who rob others of their wealth are bound with ropes by Yama’s Servants and cast into the Naraka known as Tamisram. There, they are given a thrashing until they bleed and faint. When they recover their senses, the beating is repeated. This is done until their time is up.

2. Andhatamtrsam (Flogging) – This Hell is reserved for the Husband or the Wife who only treat their spouses well when they are to profit or pleasure to them. Those who forsake their wives and husbands for no apparent reasons are also sent here. The punishment is almost the same as Tamisram, but the excruciating pain, suffered by the victims on being tied fast, makes them fall down senseless.

3. Rauravam (torment of snakes) – This is the hell for sinners who seize and enjoy another man’s property or resources. When these people are thrown into this hell, those whom they have cheated, assume the the shape of “Ruru”, a dreadful serpent. The serpent(s) will torment them severely until their time is up.

4. Mahararuravam (death by snakes) – Here there is also Ruru serpents but more fiercer. Those who deny the legitimate heirs, their inheritance and possess and enjoy others property will be squeezed and bitten non stop by this terrible serpents coiling around them. Those who steal another man’s wife or lover will also be thrown here.

5. Kumbhipakam (cooked by oil) – This is the hell for those who kill animals for pleasure. Here oil is kept boiled in huge vessels and sinners are plunged in this vessels.

6. Kalasutram (Hot as hell) – This hell is terribly hot. Those who don’t respect their elders esp. when their elders have done their duties are sent here. Here they are made to run around in this unbearable heat and drop down exhausted from time to time.

7. Asitapatram (sharp flogging) – This is the hell in which sinners abandon one’s own duty. They are flogged by Yama’s Servants with whips made of asipatra (sharp-edged sword-shaped leaves). If they run about under the flogging, they will trip over the stones and thorns, to fall on their faces. Then they are stabbed with knives until they drop unconscious, When they recover, the same process is repeated until their time is up in this Naraka.

8. Sukaramukham (Crushed and tormented) – Rulers who neglect their duties and oppress their subjects by misrule, are punished in this hell. They are crushed to a pulp by heavy beating.When they recover, it is repeated until their time is up.

9. Andhakupam (Attack of the animals) – This is hell for those who oppress the good people and not helping them if requested despite having the resources. They will be pushed into a well, where beasts like Lions, tigers, eagles and venomous creatures like snakes and scorpions. The sinners have to endure the constant attacks of this creatures until the expiry of the period of their punishment.

10. Taptamurti( Burnt Alive) – Those who plunder or steal Gold and jewels are cast into the furnaces of this Naraka which always remains hot in blazing fire.

11. Krimibhojanam (Food for worms)– Those who do not honour their Guests and make use of men or women only for their own gain, are thrown into this Naraka. Worms, insects and serpents eat them alive. Once their bodies are completely eaten up, the sinners are provided with new bodies, which are also eaten up in the above manner. This continues, till the end of their term of punishment.

12. Salmali (Embracing hot images)-This Naraka is intended for men and women who have committed adultery. A figure made of iron, heated red-hot is placed there. The sinner is forced to embrace it, while Yama’s servants flog the victim behind.

13. Vajrakantakasali-(Embracing sharp images) – This Naraka is the punishment for Sinners who have unnatural intercourse with animals. Here, they are made to embrace iron images full of sharp diamond needles that pierce through their bodies.

14. Vaitarani (River of Filth) – Rulers who abuse their power and adulterers are thrown here. It is the most terrible place of punishment. It is a river which is filled with human excreta, blood, hair, bones, nails, flesh and all kinds of dirty substances. There are various kinds of terrible beasts as well. Those who are cast into it are attacked and mauled by these creatures from all sides. The sinners have to spend the term of their punishment, feeding upon the contents of this river.

15. Puyodakam (Well of hell)– This is a well filled with excreta, urine, blood, phlegm. Men who have intercourse and cheat women with no intention of marrying them are considered like animals. Those who wander about irresponsibly like animals are thrown in this well to get polluted by it’s contents. They are to remain here till their time is up.

16. Pranarodham (Piece by Piece)– This Naraka is for those who keep dogs and other mean animals and constantly hunt and kill animals for food. Here the servants of Yama, gather around the sinners and cut them limb to limb while subjecting them to constant insult.

17. Visasanam (Bashing from Clubs) – This Naraka is for the torture of those rich people who look down at the poor and spend excessively just to display their wealth and splendour. They have to remain here at the whole term of their punishment where they will be bashed non stop from heavy clubs from Yama’s Servants.

18. Lalabhaksam (River of semen)– This is the Naraka for lustful men. The lascivious fellow who makes his wife swallow his semen, is cast into this hell. Lalabhaksam is a sea of semen. The sinner lies in it, feeding upon semen alone until his period of punishment.

19. Sarameyasanam (Torment from dogs) – Those guilty of unsocial acts like poisoning food, mass slaughter, ruining the country are cast into this hell. There is nothing but the flesh of dogs for food. There are thousands of dogs in this Naraka and they attack the sinners and tear their flesh from their bodies with their teeth.

20. Avici (turned into dust) – This Naraka is for those who are guilty for false witness and false swearing. There are hurled from a great height and they are utterly smashed into dust when they reached the ground. They are again restored to life and the punishment is repeated till the end of their time.

21. Ayahpanam (Drinking of burning substances)– Those who consume alcohol and other intoxicating drinks are sent here. The women are forced to drink melted iron in liquid form, whereas the men will be forced to drink hot liquid molten lava for every time they consume a alcoholic drink in their earthly lives.

22. Raksobjaksam (Revenge attacks) – Those who do animal and human sacrifices and eat the flesh after the sacrifice will be thrown in this hell. All the living beings they killed before would be there and they will join together to attacking, biting, and mauling the sinners. Their cries and complaints would be no avail here.

23. Sulaprotam (Trident Torture) – People who take the lives of others who have done no harm to them and those who deceives others by treachery are sent to this “Sulaportam” hell. Here they are impaled on a trident and they are forced to spend their whole term of their punishment in that position, suffering intense hunger and thirst, as well as enduring all the tortures inflicted on them.

24. Ksharakardamam (hanged upside down) – Braggarts and those who insult good people are cast into this hell. Yama’s servants keep the sinners upside down and torture them in many ways.

25. Dandasukam (eaten alive) – Sinners who persecute others like animals will be sent here. There are many beasts here. They will be eaten alive by this beasts.

26. Vatarodham (weapon torture) – This hell is for those who persecute animals which live in forests, mountain peaks and trees. After throwing them in this hell, sinners are tortured with fire, poison and various weapons during their time here in this Naraka.

27. Paryavartanakam (torture from birds) – One who denies food to a hungry person and abuses him is thrown here. The moment the sinner arrives here ,his eyes are put by being pierced the beaks of birds like the crows and eagles. They will be pierced later on by this birds till the end of their punishment.

28. Sucimukham (Tortured by needles) – Proud and Miserly people who refuse to spend money even for the basic necessities of life, like better food or buying food for their relations or friends will find their place in this hell. Those who do not repay the money they have borrowed will also be cast into this hell. Here, their bodies will be constantly be pricked and pierced by needles.

“The Guruda Purana is in the form of instructions to Garuda by Vishnu. This deals with astronomy,medicine, grammar, and with the structure and qualities of diamonds. This Puranais dear to Vaishnavites. The latter half of this Purana deals withlife after death” Its a must read…
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology 4 - Parshurama - hindufaqs.com

The seven Immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology are:

  1. Aswathama
  2. King Mahabali
  3. Veda Vyasa
  4. Hanuman
  5. Vibhishana
  6. Krupacharya
  7. Parashuram

Read the first part to know about the first two Immortals i.e. ‘Aswathama’ & ‘Mahabali’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 1

Read the second part to know about the Third and forth Immortals i.e. ‘Veda Vyasa’ & ‘Hanuman’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 2

Read the third part to know about the Fifth and Sixth Immortals i.e. ‘Vibhishana’ & ‘Krupacharya’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 3

7) Parshuram:
Parshurama is the sixth avatar of Vishnu, He is son of Renuka and the saptarishi Jamadagni. 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.

Parshurama | Hindu FAQs
Parshurama

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.

It is said that Parashurama will act as a teacher for the last and final Avatar of Vishnu known as Kalki and will help him in undertaking penance in receiving celestial weaponry and knowledge which will be helpful in saving mankind at the end of the present Yuga that is the Kaliyuga.

Apart from these seven, Markandeya, a great rishi Who was blessed by Shiva, and Jambavan, a strong and wellknown character from Ramayana  are also considered as Chiranjivins.

Markandeya:

Markandeya is an ancient rishi (sage) from the Hindu tradition, born in the clan of Bhrigu Rishi. He is celebrated as a devotee of both Shiva and Vishnu and is mentioned in a number of stories from the Puranas. The Markandeya Purana especially, comprises a dialogue between Markandeya and a sage called Jaimini, and a number of chapters in the Bhagavata Purana are dedicated to his conversations and prayers. He is also mentioned in the Mahabharata. Markandeya is venerated within all mainstream Hindu traditions.

Mrikandu rishi and his wife Marudmati worshipped Shiva and sought from him the boon of begetting a son. As a result he was given the choice of either a gifted son, but with a short life on earth or a child of low intelligence but with a long life. Mrikandu rishi chose the former, and was blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age of 16.

Markandeya and shiva | Hindu FAQs
Markandeya and shiva

Markandeya grew up to be a great devotee of Shiva and on the day of his destined death he continued his worship of Shiva in his aniconic form of Shivalingam. The messengers of Yama, the god of death were unable to take away his life because of his great devotion and continual worship of Shiva. Yama then came in person to take away Markandeya’s life, and sprung his noose around the young sage’s neck. By accident or fate the noose mistakenly landed around the Shivalingam, and out of it, Shiva emerged in all his fury attacking Yama for his act of aggression. After defeating Yama in battle to the point of death, Shiva then revived him, under the condition that the devout youth would live forever. For this act, Shiva was thereafter known also as Kalantaka (“Ender of Death”).
Thus Maha Mrityunjaya Stotra is also attributed to Markandeya, and this legend of Shiva conquering death is inscribed in metal and worshipped at Thirukkadavoor in Tamilnadu, India.

Jambavan:
also known as Jamvanta, Jambavantha, Jambavat, or Jambuvan is a first form of humans created by god Brahma, with lots of hair on his body he is perhaps not a bear, later he appeared has a bear in next life in Indian epic tradition (though he is also described as a monkey in other scriptures), immortal to all but his father Vishnu. Several times he is mentioned as Kapishreshtha (Foremost among the monkeys) and other epithets generally given to the Vanaras. He is known as Riksharaj (King of the Rikshas). Rikshas are described as something like Vanaras but in later versions of Ramayana Rikshas are described as bears. He was created by Brahma, to assist Rama in his struggle against Ravana. Jambavan was present at the churning of the ocean, and is supposed to have circled Vamana seven times when he was acquiring the three worlds from Mahabali. He was the King of the Himalayas who had incarnated as a bear in order to serve Rama. He had received a boon from Lord Rama that he would have a long life, be handsome and would have the strength of ten million lions.

Jambavan | Hindu FAQs
Jambavan

In the epic Ramayana, Jambavantha helped Rama find his wife Sita and fight her abductor,Ravana. It is he who makes Hanuman realize his immense capabilities and encourages him to fly across the ocean to search for Sita in Lanka.

In the Mahabharata, Jambavantha had killed a lion, who had acquired a gem called Syamantaka from Prasena after killing him. Krishna was suspected of killing Prasena for the jewel, so he tracked Prasena’s steps until he learned that he had been killed by a lion who had been killed by a bear. Krishna tracked Jambavantha to his cave and a fight ensued. After eighteen days, realizing who Krishna was, Jambavantha submitted. He gave Krishna the gem and also presented him his daughter Jambavati, who became one of Krishna’s wives.

Jambavan mentions two incidents in his life in the Ramayana. Once at the foot of Mount Mahendra, where Hanuman is about to take a leap and mentions that he could have jumped over the ocean to Lanka except that he got injured when he was beating the drum for Vishnu during the Vamana Avatara when the great god measured the three worlds. Vamana’s shoulder struck Jambavan and he was injured which limited his mobility.

And once during the Samudra-Manthan,he was present at the time of the event. He got to know about the all-curing plant Vishalyakarni from the gods there and he later used this information to order Hanumana to help an injured and unconscious Laxmana in the great battle with the Lanka emperor, Ravana.

Jambavan, together with Parasuram and Hanuman, is considered to be one of the few to have been present for both Ram and Krishna avatars. Said to have been present for the churning of the ocean and thus witness to the Kurma avatar, and further the Vaman avatar, Jambavan may well be the longest lived of the chiranjivis and have been witness to nine avatars.

Courtesy:
Image Courtesy To Real owners and Google Images

Who are the seven immortals of Hindu Mythology - hindufaqs.com

The seven Immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology are:

  1. Aswathama
  2. King Mahabali
  3. Veda Vyasa
  4. Hanuman
  5. Vibhishana
  6. Krupacharya
  7. Parashuram

Read the first part to know about the first two Immortals i.e. ‘Aswathama’ & ‘Mahabali’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 1

Read about the Third and forth Immortals i.e. ‘Veda Vyasa’ & ‘Hanuman’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 2

The seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology. Part 3

5.Vibhishana:
Vibhishana was the youngest son of Sage Vishrava, who was the son of Sage Pulatsya, one of the Heavenly Guardians. He (Vibhishana) was the younger brother of the Lord of Lanka, Ravana and King of Sleep, Kumbakarna. Even though he was born in the demon race, he was alert and pious and considered himself a Brahmin, since his father was intuitively such. Though a Rakshasa himself, Vibhishana was of a noble character and advised Ravana, who kidnapped and abducted Sita, to return her to her husband Rama in an orderly fashion and promptly. When his brother did not listen to his advice, Vibhishana joined Rama’s army. Later, when Rama defeated Ravana, Rama
crowned Vibhishana as the king of Lanka. In some period of history Sinhala people have considered Vibhishana as one of the Four Heavenly Kings (satara varam deviyo).

vibhishana | Hindu FAQs
vibhishana

Vibhishana had a sattvik (pure) mind and a sattvik heart. From his early childhood, he spent all his time meditating on the name of the Lord. Eventually, Brahma appeared and offered him any boon he wanted. Vibhishana, said that the only thing he wanted was to have his mind fixed at the feet of the Lord as pure as lotus leaves (charan kamal).
He prayed that he should be given the strength by which he would always be at the feet of the Lord, and that he would receive the darshan (holy sight) of Lord Vishnu. This prayer was fulfilled, and he was able to give up all his wealth and family, and join Rama, who was Avatar (God incarnate).

vibhishana joining Rama's Army | Hindu FAQs
vibhishana joining Rama’s Army

After defeat of Ravana, Vibhishana was declared as the King of Lanka [present day Sri Lanka] by Lord Rama and was said to have been given the blessing of a long life to take good care of his kingdom of Lanka. However, Vibhishana was not a Chiranjeevi in real sense. By which I mean that his lifetime was only as long as the end of one Kalpa. [which is still a pretty long long time.]

6) Krupacharya:
Kripa, also known as Kripacharya or Krupacharya is an important character in the Mahabharata. Kripa was an archer born to a sage and was a royal teacher of the Pandavas and Kauravas before Drona (the father of Ashwatthama).

Shardwan, Kripa’s Biological father, was born with arrows, making clear he was a born archer. He meditated and attained the art of all types of warfare. He was such a great archer that no one could defeat him.
This created panic amongst the gods. Especially Indra, the King of the Gods, felt the most threatened. He then sent a beautiful Apsara (divine nymph) from the Heaven to distract the celibate saint. The nymph, called Janapadi, came to the saint and tried to seduce him in various ways.
Shardwan was distracted and the sight of such a beautiful woman made him lose control. As he was a great saint, he still managed to resist the temptation and controlled his desires. But his concentration was lost, and he dropped his bow and arrows. His semen fell on some weeds by the wayside, dividing the weeds into two – from which a boy and a girl were born. The saint himself left the hermitage and his bow and arrow and went to the forest for penance.
Coincidentally, King Shantanu, the great-grandfather of the Pandavas, was crossing from there and saw the children by the wayside. One look at them was enough for him to realize that they were the children of a great Brahmin archer. He named them Kripa and Kripi and decided to take them back with him to his palace.

kripacharya | HinduFAQs
kripacharya

When Shardwan came to know of these children he came to the palace, revealed their identity and performed the various rituals which are performed for the children of Brahmins. He also taught the children archery, Vedas and other Shashtras and the secrets of the Universe. The children grew up to become experts in the art of warfare. The boy Kripa, who came to be known as Kripacharya, was now assigned the task of teaching the young princes all about warfare. On growing up Kripa was the chief priest at the court of Hastinapura. His twin sister Kripi married Drona, the weapons master to the court – who, like her and her brother, had not been gestated in a womb, but outside the human body.

He fought from the Kauravas during the war of Mahabharata and was one of the few surviving characters of post-war period. He later trained Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna and son of Abhimanyu in the art of warfare. He was known for his impartiality and loyalty for his Kingdom. Lord Krishna granted him immortality.

Photo Credits: To the owners, Google Images

vyasa The compiler of Vedas - hindufaqs.com

The seven Immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology are:

  1. Aswathama
  2. King Mahabali
  3. Veda Vyasa
  4. Hanuman
  5. Vibhishana
  6. Krupacharya
  7. Parashuram

Read the first part to know about the first two Immortals i.e. ‘Aswathama’ & ‘Mahabali’ Here:
Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology? Part 1


3) Vyasa:
Vyasa ‘व्यास’ is a central and revered figure in most Hindu traditions. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa ‘वेदव्यास’, the one who classified the Vedas into four parts. His real name is Krishna Dvaipayana.
Veda Vyasa was a great sage born in the later stage of Treta Yuga and who has been said to have lived through the Dvapara Yuga and the current Kali Yuga. He was the son of Satyavati, daughter of the fisherman Dusharaj, and the wandering sage Parashara (who is credited with being the author of the first Purana: Vishnu Purana).
The sage like any other immortal is said to have a lifetime of this Manvantara or till the end of this Kali yuga. Veda Vyasa was the writer of Mahabharata and the Puranas (Vyasa is also credited with the writing of the eighteen major Puranas. His son Shuka or Suka is the narrator of the major Purana Bhagavat-Purana.) and also the one who split the Vedas in four parts. The splitting being a feat that allowed people to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda. The word Vyasa means split, differentiate, or describe. It can also be debated so that Veda Vyasa was not just one being but a group of scholars who worked on the Vedas.

vyasa The compiler of Vedas
vyasa The compiler of Vedas

Vyasa is traditionally known as author of this epic. But he also features as an important character in it. His mother later married the king of Hastinapura, and had two sons. Both sons died without issue and hence their mother asked Vyasa to go to the beds of the wives of her dead son Vichitravirya.

Ved Vyasa
Ved Vyasa

Vyasa fathers the princes Dhritarashtra and Pandu by Ambika and Ambalika. Vyasa told them that they should come alone near him. First did Ambika, but because of shyness and fear she closed her eyes. Vyasa told Satyavati that this child would be blind. Later this child was named Dhritarashtra. Thus Satyavati sent Ambalika and warned her that she should remain calm. But Ambalika’s face became pale because of fear. Vyasa told her that child would suffer from anaemia, and he would not be fit enough to rule the kingdom. Later this child was known as Pandu. Then Vyasa told Satyavati to send one of them again so that a healthy child can be born. This time Ambika and Ambalika sent a maid in the place of themselves. The maid was quite calm and composed, and she got a healthy child later named as Vidura. While these are his sons, another son Suka, born of his wife, sage Jabali’s daughter Pinjala (Vatika), is considered his true spiritual heir.

In the first book of the Mahabharata, it is described that Vyasa asked Ganesha to aid him in writing the text, however Ganesha imposed a condition that he would do so only if Vyasa narrated the story without pause. To which Vyasa then made a counter-condition that Ganesha must understand the verse before he transcribed it.
Thus Lord VedVyas narrated the whole Mahabharata and all the Upanishads and the 18 Puranas, while Lord Ganesha wrote.

Ganesha and Vyasa
Ganesha writing Mahabharata as told by Vyasa

Veda Vyasa in literal sense means the splitter of Vedas. Having said that however it is widely believed that he was a single human being. There always is a Veda Vyasa who lives through one Manvantara[a timeframe in ancient Hindu mythology.] and hence is immortal through this Manvantara.
Veda Vyasa is said to live life of a hermit and is widely believed to be still alive and living among the living beings till the end of this Kali Yuga.
The festival of Guru Purnima is dedicated to him. It is also known as Vyasa Purnima, for it is the day believed to be both his birthday and the day he divided the Vedas

4) Hanuman:
Hanuman is a Hindu god and an ardent devotee of Rama. He is a central character in the Indian epic Ramayana and its various versions. He also finds mentions in several other texts, including Mahabharata, the various Puranas and some Jain texts. A vanara (monkey), Hanuman participated in Rama’s war against the Daitya (demon) king Ravana. Several texts also present him as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. He is the son of Kesari, and is also described as the son of Vayu, who according to several stories, played a role in his birth.

hanuman the God of Strength
hanuman the God of Strength

It is believed that Hanuman, as a child, once misunderstood the sun to be a ripe mango and made an attempt to eat it, thus disturbing Rahu’s agenda of forming the scheduled solar eclipse. Rahu (one of the planets) informed this incident to the Leader of Devas, Lord Indra. Filled with rage, Indra (God of Rain) threw his Vajra weapon at Hanuman and disfigured his jaw. In retaliation, Hanuman’s father, Vayu (God of Wind), withdrew all the air from earth. Seeing the human beings choke to death, all the lords promised to shower Hanuman with multiple blessings in order to appease the Wind Lord. Thus one of the most powerful mythical creatures was born.

Lord Brahma gave him these:

1. Invulnerability
The power and strength to prevent any war weapon from causing physical damage.

2. Power to induce fear in the enemies and destroy fear in the friends
This is the reason why all the ghosts and spirits are believed to fear Hanuman and that reciting his prayer is considered to shield any human being from evil forces.

3. Size Manipulation
Ability to change the body size by preserving its proportion. This power assisted Hanuman in lifting the massive Dronagiri mountain and to enter monster Ravana’s Lanka unnoticed.

4. Flight
Ability to defy gravity.

Lord Shiva gave him these:

1. Longevity
A blessing to lead a long life. Many people report even today that they have physically seen Hanuman with their own eyes.

2. Enhanced Intelligence
It is said that Hanuman was able to astonish Lord Surya with his wisdom and knowledge within a week.

3. Long range flight
This is just the extension of what Brahma blessed him with. This boon gave Hanuman an ability to cross vast oceans.

While Brahma and Shiva conferred abundant blessings on Hanuman, other lords miserly gave him one boon each.

Indra gave him protection from the deadly Vajra weapon.

Varuna gave him protection against water.

Agni blessed him with protection from fire.

Surya willingly gave him the power to change his body form, commonly known as shapeshifting.

Yama made him immortal and made death fear him.

Kubera made him happy and contented for the entire lifetime.

Vishwakarma blessed him with powers to save himself from all weapons. This is just an add-on to what some of the gods had already given him.

Vayu blessed him with more speed than himself.
Read more about Hanuman:  Most Badass Hindu God: Hanuman

When Rama, his devoted Lord was leaving the earth, Rama asked Hanumana if he would like to come. In response, Lord Hanumana requested Rama that he would like to stay back on earth as long as the name of Lord Rama is chanted by the people of the earth. As such, Lord Hanumana is said to still exist on this planet and we can only speculate as to where he is

Hanuman
Hanuman

A number of religious leaders have claimed to have seen Hanuman over the course of the centuries, notably Madhvacharya (13th century CE), Tulsidas (16th century), Samarth Ramdas (17th century), Raghavendra Swami (17th century) and Swami Ramdas (20th century).
Swaminarayan, founder of the Hindu Swaminarayan sects, holds that other than worship of God through the Narayana Kavacha, Hanuman is the only deity who may be worshiped in the event of trouble by evil spirits.
Others have also asserted his presence wherever the Ramayana is read.

अमलकमलवर्णं प्रज्ज्वलत्पावकाक्षं सरसिजनिभवक्त्रं सर्वदा सुप्रसन्नम् |
पटुतरघनगात्रं कुण्डलालङ्कृताङ्गं रणजयकरवालं वानरेशं नमामि ||

यत्र यत्र रघुनाथकीर्तनं तत्र तत्र कृतमस्तकाञ्जलिम् ।
बाष्पवारिपरिपूर्णलोचनं मारुतिं नमत राक्षसान्तकम् ॥

yatra yatra raghunathakirtanam tatra tatra krta mastakanjalim ।
baspavariparipurnalocanam marutim namata raksasantakam ॥

Meaning: Bow down to Hanuman, who is the slayer of demons, and who is present with head bowed and eyes full of flowing tears wherever the fame of Rama is sung.

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Photo Credits: Google Images

Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology - hindufaqs.com

People always ask, Who are the seven immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology?
Well lets first start with the meaning of the wird Chiranjivi. Chiranjivi or चिरंजीवी in Hindi, are immortal living beings in Hinduism who are to remain alive on Earth through this Kali Yuga till its very end.

The seven Immortals (Chiranjivi) of Hindu Mythology are:

  1. Aswathama
  2. King Mahabali
  3. Veda Vyasa
  4. Hanuman
  5. Vibhishana
  6. Krupacharya
  7. Parashuram

There is a shloka in sanskrit, Known as Chiranjivi shloka
“Aswathama Balir Vyaso Hanumanash cha Vibhishana Krupacharya cha Parashuramam Saptatah Chirjeevanam”
“अश्वत्थामाबलिर्व्यासोहनुमांश्च विभीषण:कृपश्चपरशुरामश्च सप्तैतेचिरंजीविन:।”
Which means that Aswathama, King Mahabali, Veda Vyasa, Hanuman , Vibhishana , Krupacharya and Lord Parashuram are death-defying or imperishable personalities.

Apart from these seven, Markandeya, a great rishi Who was blessed by Shiva, and Jambavan, a strong and wellknown character from Ramayana  are also considered as Chiranjivins.

1) Ashwathama:
According to The Mahabharata, Ashwatthama means “the horse-voiced”. It probably also means the one having strength of a horse. Perhaps the most interesting of all the Chiranjeevis, And one of the most intresting character from Mahabharata. Ashwatthama was a great warrior and son of a legendary warrior and teacher named Dronacharya. He was gifted with a gem on his forehead by Lord Shiva and was said to have divine powers. When the battle of Kurukshetra A.K.A Mahabharata War was almost over, Ashwatthama who fought from the Kauravas, decided to murder the five Pandava brothers in their camp at midnight even though it was against the ethics of war to attack after sunset. Mistaking the identity of the five brothers, Ashwatthama killed the sons of Pandavas while they were away. On their return, the Pandavas saw what happened and were enraged with the incident and chased Ashwatthama to kill him. Ashwatthama seeked salvation for his crime but it was already too late.

To defend himself, he decided to invoke Bramhashirastra [a sort of divine highly destructive weapon] against Pandavas. In retaliation, Arjuna invoked the same as he too was the student of Dronacharya and could do the same. However, on observing this scene, Lord Krishna asked them to revoke the weapons as it would have led to a cataclysmic event resulting in annihilation of earth. Arjuna revoked his weapon, however Ashwatthama was unable to do so as he was never taught how to.


Out of spite/ helplessness, he directed the weapon towards a singular being which in this case was Uttara, the daughter-in-law of Arjuna and who was pregnant. The weapon led to the death of the unborn child and thus the lineage of Pandavas came to an end. Enraged at this atrocious act, Lord Krishna cursed Ashwatthama as follows:

“Always engaged in sinful acts, thou art the slayer of children. For this reason, thou must have to bear the fruit of these thy sins. For 3,000 years thou shalt wander over this earth, without a companion and without being able to talk with anyone. Alone and without anybody by thy side, thou shalt wander through diverse countries, O wretch, thou shalt have no place in the midst of men. The stench of pus and blood shall emanate from thee, and inaccessible forests and dreary moors shall be thy abode! Thou shalt wander over the Earth, O thou of sinful soul, with the weight of all diseases on thee.”

In Simple Words.
“He will carry the burden of all people’s sins on his shoulders and will roam alone like a ghost without getting any love and courtesy till the end of Kaliyuga; He will have neither any hospitality nor any accommodation; He will be in total isolation from mankind and society; His body will suffer from a host of incurable diseases forming sores and ulcers that would never heal”

And thus Ashwatthama is destined to live a life of misery and pain till the end of this Kaliyuga.

2)Mahabali:
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.

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.

vamana Incarnation
Vamana taking heaven with a foot and earth with another

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 once was granting wishes to his masses out of his generosity. Meanwhile, Lord Vishnu reached there taking form of a little Brahmin boy better known as his fifth avatar or Incarnation Vamana. The little Brahmin boy on reception asked from King Bali enough land to cover three paces of his feet. On acceptance of his wish, Vamana grew to an abysmal size and in two paces, took away all the living world and also the three worlds in general.[heaven, earth and underworld figuratively]. 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.

Vamana and Bali
Vamana placing his foot on King Bali

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. It is for this reason, that the festival of Onam is celebrated widely in Southern parts of India to welcome the arrival Onapottam, the symbolic form of King Bali.

Pookalam, a Rangoli made using flowers on Onam
Pookalam, a Rangoli made using flowers on Onam

He is hailed to be a supreme example of the highest and the ultimate Sadhana of Nava Vidha Bhakti, namely Atmanivedanam. It is believed that Bali was a practitioner of the Raja Yoga.

Vallam Kali, a Boat race held in kreala during Onam
Vallam Kali, a Boat race held in kreala during Onam

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Photo Credits: Maransdog.net
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