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hindufaqs.com - Jarasandha A badass villain from Hindu Mythology

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.

Bhima Fighting with Jarasandha | Hindu FAQs
Bhima Fighting with Jarasandha


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.

Credits: Aravind Sivasailam
Photo Credits: Google Images

hindufaqs.com-nara narayana - krishna arjuna - sarthi

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.

Dambhodbhava asking for a voon from Surya Dev | Hindu FAQs
Dambhodbhava asking for a voon from Surya Dev


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!

Nara and Narayana | Hindu FAQs
Nara and Narayana

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…

Credits:
Post Credits Bimal Chandra Sinha
Image Credits: To the owners, and Gogle 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.

Credits:
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

Credits:
Photo Credits: Maransdog.net
Wiki

Shakuni's revenge against the kuru dynasty - hindufaqs.com

One of the greatest (if not the greatest) revenge story has to be that of Shakuni taking revenge on the entire Kuru dynasty of Hastinapur by forcing them into Mahabharata.

Shakuni’s sister Gandhari, the princess of Gandhar (modern day Kandahar between Pakistan and Afghanistan) was married to Vichitraveerya’s eldest blind son Dhritrashtra. The kuru elder Bheeshma proposed the match and despite having objections Shakuni and his father were not able to refuse it.

Gandhari’s horoscope showed that her first husband would die and leave her a widow. To avert this, on an astrologer’s advice, Gandhari’s family married her to a goat and then killed the goat to fulfil the destiny and assumed that she could now go ahead and marry a human and since the person technically be her second husband, no harm will come to him.

As Gandhari was married to a blind man she made a vow to remain blindfolded the rest of her life.The marriage against his and his father’s wishes had been an insult to the kingdom of Gandhar. However, due to the might of Bheeshma and the strength of the Hastinapur kingdom father and son were forced to acquiesce to this marriage.

Shakuni and Duryodhana playing Dice Game with Pandavas
Shakuni and Duryodhana playing Dice Game with Pandavas


However, in the most dramatic fashion, the secret about Gandhari’s first marriage to the goat came out and this made both Dhritrashtra and Pandu really angry at Gandhari’s family – because they did not tell them that Gandhari was technically a widow.
To avenge this, Dhritrashtra and Pandu imprisoned all of Gandhari’s male family – including her father and her 100 brothers. Dharma did not allow killing prisoners of war, so Dhritrashtra decided to starve them slowly to death and would give only 1 fistful of rice for the entire clan everyday.
Gandhari’s family soon realised that they will mostly starve to death slowly. So they decided that the entire fistful of rice will be used to keep the youngest brother, Shakuni, alive so that he can take revenge on Dhritrashtra later. In front of Shakuni’s eyes, his entire male family, starved to death and kept him alive.
His father, during his last days, told him to take the bones from the dead body and make a pair of dice which would always obey him. This dice would later be instrumental in Shakuni’s revenge plan.

After the death of the rest of relatives, Shakuni did as he was told and created a dice that contained his father’s bones’ ashes

To achieve his goal Shakuni came to live with his sister in Hastinapur and never returned to Gandhar. Gandhari’s eldest son Duryodhana served as the perfect means for Shakuni to achieve this purpose. He poisoned Duryodhana’s mind against the Pandavas from an early age and goaded into schemes such as poisoning Bhima and throwing him in the river, the Lakshagraha (House of Lacquer) episode, the games of Chausar with the Pandavas that led to Draupadi’s disrobing and insult and eventually to the 13 year banishment of the Pandavas.

Finally, when the Pandavas returned Duryodhana, with Shakuni’s support, prevented Dhritrashtra from returning the kingdom of Indraprastha to the Pandavas, which precipitated into the war of Mahabharata and the deaths of Bheeshma, the 100 kaurava brothers, the sons of the Pandavas from Draupadi and even shakuni himself.

Credits:
Photo Credits: Wikipedia

karna from Mahabharata

Karna attaches an arrow to his bow, pulls back and releases – the arrow is aimed at Arjun’s heart.  Krishna, Arjun’s Charioteer, drives by sheer force the chariot into the ground several feet.  The arrow hits Arjun’s headgear and knocks it off. Missing its target – Arjuna’s heart.
Krishna yells, “Wow! Nice shot, Karna.”
Arjuna asks Krishna, ‘Why are you praising Karna?’
Krishna tells Arjun, ‘Look at you! You have Lord Hanuman on the flag of this chariot. You have me as your charioteer. You received the blessings of Ma Durga and your Guru, Dronacharya before the battle, have a loving Mother and an aristocratic heritage. This Karna has nobody, his own charioteer, Salya belittles him, his own Guru (Parusurama) cursed him, his Mother abandoned him when he was born and he has no known heritage.  Yet, look at the battle he’s giving you. Without me and Lord Hanuman on this chariot, where would you be?’

karna
Comparison between Krishna and Karna
on various occasions. Some of them are Myths while some are pure facts.


1. Immediately after Krishna’s birth, he was transported across the river by his father, Vasudeva to be brought up by his step-parents – Nanda & Yasoda
Immediately after Karna’s birth, his Mother – Kunti placed him in a basket on the river. He was transported to his step-parents – Adhiratha & Radha – by the watchful eye of his father, Surya Dev

2.  Karna’s given name was – Vasusena
– Krishna was also called – Vasudeva

3. Krishna’s mother was Devaki, his Step-Mother – Yasoda, His Chief Wife – Rukmini, yet he is remembered mostly for his lila with Radha. ‘Radha-Krishna’
– Karna’s birth mother was Kunti, and even after finding out she was his mother – He told Krishna that he will not be called – Kaunteya – son of Kunti, but will be remembered as Radheya – Son of Radha. Till date, the Mahabharata refers to Karna as ‘Radheya’

4.  Krishna was asked by his people – Yadavas- to become, King. Krishna refused and Ugrasena was King of the Yadavas.
– Krishna asked Karna to become Emperor of India (BharataVarsha- Extending to Pakistan, Bangladesh & Afghanistan at the time), thereby preventing the MahaBharat War.  Krishna argued that Karna being elder to both Yudhisthira & Duryodhana – he would be the rightful heir to the throne. Karna refused the Kingdom on account of principle

5. Krishna broke his vow of not picking up a weapon during the War, when he impulsively rushed at Bhishma Dev with his Chakra.

Krishna rushing towards Bhishma with his Chakra

6. Krishna vowed to Kunti that all 5 Pandavas were under his protection
–          Karna vowed to Kunti that he would spare the lives of 4 Pandavas and battle Arjuna (In the War, Karna had a chance to kill – Yudhisthira, Bhima, Nakula & Sahadeva at different intervals. Yet, he spared their lives)

7. Krishna was born in the Kshatriya caste, yet he played the role of Arjuna’s charioteer in the War
–          Karna was raised in the Suta (Charioteer) caste, yet he played the role of a Kshatriya in the War

8. Karna was cursed to his Death by his Guru – Rishi Parusharam for deceiving him for being a Brahmin (In actuality, Parusharam knew about Karna’s true heritage – however, he also knew the big picture that was to be played out later. Aside from that – along w/ Bhishma Dev, Karna was his favorite disciple)
–          Krishna was cursed to his Death by Gandhari as she felt he allowed the War to unfold and could have done more to prevent it.

9. Draupadi called Krishna her Sakha (Brother) & loved him openly. (Krishna cut his finger from the Sudarshan Chakra and Draupadi immediately tore a piece of cloth from her favorite sari that she was wearing, soaked it in water and  rapidly wrapped it around his finger to stop the bleeding. When Krishna said, ‘That is your favorite Sari!’. Draupadi smiled and shrugged her shoulders as if it was no big deal. Krishna was touched by this – hence when she was being stripped by Dushashana in the Assembly Hall – Krishna by his maya supplied Draupadi with never ending Saris.)
–          Draupadi loved Karna secretly. He was her hidden crush. When Dushashana strips  Draupadi of her sari in the Assembly Hall.  Which Krishna replenished one by one (Bhima had once told Yudhisthira, ‘Brother, do not give Krishna your sins. He multiplies everything.’)

10. Prior to the War, Krishna was looked upon with great respect and reverence.  Even among the Yadavas, they knew Krishna was great, nay The Greatest…yet, they didn’t know his Divinity.  Very few knew for sure who Krishna was. After the War, many Rishis and people were angry with Krishna as they felt he could have prevented the atrocity and millions of deaths.
–          Prior to the War, Karna was looked upon as an instigator and right-hand man of Duryodhana – jealous of the Pandavas. After the war, Karna was looked upon with reverence by the Pandavas, Dhritarashtra & Gandhari. For his endless sacrifice & they were all sad that Karna had to face such ignonimity his whole life

11. Krishna/Karna had an enormous amount of respect for each other.  Karna somehow knew about Krishna’s divinity and surrendered himself to his Lila.  Whereas, Karna surrendered to Krishna & gained glory – Ashwattama could not accept the manner in which his father, Dronacharya was slayed and unleashed a vicious guerrilla warfare against the Panchalas – men, women & children. Ending up being a bigger villain than Duryodhana.

12.  Krishna asked Karna how he knew the Pandavas would Win the MahaBharat War.  To which Karna responded, ‘Kurukshethra is a sacrificial field. Arjuna is the Head Priest, You-Krishna are the presiding deity. Myself (Karna), Bhishma Dev, Dronacharya and Duryodhana are the sacrifice.’
Krishna ended their conversation by telling Karna, ‘You are the best of the Pandavas.’

13. KARNA is the creation of Krishna to show the world the true meaning of sacrifice and to accept your fate. And in spite of all the bad luck or bad times you come across maintain: Your Spirituality, Your Generosity, Your Nobility, Your Dignity and Your Self- Respect and Respect for others.

Arjuna killing Karna Arjuna killing Karna

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Image Credits: To the Owner

Hindufaqs.com - What was the relationship between Draupadi and the Pandavas like

Draupadi’s relationship with the Pandavas is complex and at the heart of the Mahabharat.

1. Draupadi and Arjuna:

Let’s jump right in with the most important relationship: Draupadi’s and Arjuna’s.

Of the five Pandavas, Draupadi favors Arjuna the most. She is in love with him, whereas the others are in love with her. Arjuna has won her in the Swayamvar, Arjuna is her husband.

Also Read:
How did Hanuman end up on Arjuna’s chariot in Mahabharata?

On the other hand, she is not Arjuna’s favorite wife. Arjuna does not like sharing her with 4 other men (conjecture on my part). Arjuna’s favorite wife is Subadhra, Krishna‘s half-sister. He also dotes on Abhimanyu (his son with Subadhra) over and above his sons from Draupadi and Chitrangada. All of Draupadi’s husbands married other women, but the only time Draupadi gets upset and distraught is when she learns of Arjuna‘s marriage to Subadhra. Subadhra has to go to Draupadi dressed as a maid, just to assure her that she (Subadhra) will always be beneath Draupadi in status.

2. Draupadi and Yudhisthir:

Now let’s see the reason why Draupadi’s life is a shambles, why she is the most cursed woman of her time, and one of the most important reasons behind the Mahabharat war: Draupadi’s marriage to Yudhisthir.

Here is something we need to understand first: Yudhisthir is a bastardnot as saintly as he is portrayed to be. This is not to be held against him – all Mahabharat characters are gray – but people tend to forget this bit. Yudhisthir does not win Draupadi in the Swayamvar, he has no right to her.

He lusts for her, he cannot bear seeing her everyday and not be able to have her. So he takes a small chance that fate throws his way, when Kunti says, “Share whatever you have between yourselves”, and bullies Draupadi and his brothers into the weird “Lets all marry her” situation. Bhima does not like this, he claims that it is not right and that people will laugh at them. Yudhisthir tells him of Rishis who have done this before, and that it is accepted in Dharma.  He then rushes forward and says that since he is the eldest, he must get first with Draupadi. The brothers marry her according to age, eldest to youngest.

Then, Yudhisthir calls an assembly with his brothers and tells them the story of 2 powerful rakshasas, Sunda and Upasunda , whose love for the same woman led them to destroy each other. He says that the lesson to learn here is that the brothers must be careful when sharing Draupadi. She must be with one brother for a set period of time, and during this period the other brothers cannot touch her (carnally, that is). Yudhisthir decides that Draupadi will live for 1 year with each brother and that since he is the eldest, she will start the cycle with him. And the brother who breaks this rule will have to go into exile for 12 years. Further, the same punishment will apply if any brother happens to disturb another when he is carnally engaged with Draupadi.

This punishment actually comes into play when Arjuna disturbs Yudhisthir and Draupadi. Arjuna has to retrieve his weapons from the armory, in order to help a poor Brahmin whose cows have been stolen by thieves.

Arjuna departs on exile for 12 years, where he visits his father Indra, gets cursed by Urvashi, learns a lot of new skills from multiple teachers (Shiva, Indra etc), meets and marries Subadhra, followed by Chitrangada, etc. However, what happens to the year that he is to spend with Draupadi? It reverts back to Yudhisthir, who promises to care for Draupadi on Arjuna’s behalf. Naturally.

3. Draupadi and Bhima:

Bhima is silly putty in Draupadi’s hands. Of all her husbands, he is the one who loves her the most. He fulfills her every request, he cannot bear to see her hurt.

He use to bring her flowers from Kuber’s garden. Bhima cried because his beautiful wife will have to serve as a Sairandhri (maid) to Queen Sudeshna of Matsya. Bhima kills a 100 Kauravas to avenge the insult to Draupadi. Bhima was the one whom Draupadi run to when she is molested by Keechak in Matsya kingdom.

The other Pandavas are not under Draupadi’s thumb. She is prone to outbursts of rage, she makes unreasonable, unwise demands. When she wants Keechak killed for molesting her, Yudhisthir tells her that it would expose their presence in Matsya kingdom, and advises her to “live with it”. Bhima simply walks up to Keechak in the middle of the night and tears him limb from limb. No questions asked.

Draupadi shows us Bhima’s human side. He is a savage monster with others, but he is always and only tender when it comes to Draupadi.

4. Draupadi with Nakul and Sahadev:

As with most of the Mahabharat, Nakul and Sahadev don’t really matter here. Not many version of the Mahabharat where Nakul and Sahadev have any role of substance. In reality, Nakul and Sahadev are more loyal to Yudhisthir than anyone else. They don’t share father or mother with Yudhisthir, yet they follow him everywhere and do exactly as he asks. They could have gone and ruled over Madradesh, and lived a life of luxury and ease, but they stuck with their brother through thick and thin. Makes one appreciate them a little bit more.

In summary, Draupadi’s curse is the curse of beauty. She is the object of every man’s lust, but no one cares much for what she desires or feels. Her husbands gamble her away as if she were property. When Dusshasana strips her in view of a full court, she has to beg Krishna to save her. Her husbands don’t lift a finger.

Even at the end of their 13 year exile, the Pandavas are not intent on war. They worry that the losses in the Kurukshetra war will be too big to warrant it. Draupadi has to turn to her friend, Krishna, to heal her soul. Krishna promises her: “Soon wilt thou, O Draupadi, behold the ladies of Bharata’s race weep as thou dost. Even they, O timid one, will weep like thee, their kinsmen and friends being slain. They with whom, O lady, thou art angry, have their kinsmen and warriors already slain…. I will accomplish all this.”

And thus comes about the Mahabharat war.

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