Once there was a hermit by name Vibhandaka. He had a son by name Rishyashringa, who had two small deer horns on his head. Vibhandaka wanted his son to learn the Vedas and be a Bhramachari. So he raised him without meeting anyone from the opposite sex.
Meanwhile, Romapada, was a king who was ruling over the kingdom of Anga. For a long time there was no rain in his kingdom. So he called a meeting of all the sages in his kingdom and asked for suggestions from them to bring in rain. Some of them suggested that he bring the son of Vibhandaka, who was a brahmachari to conduct a yagna in the kingdom, which could bring rain.
The overjoyed king told them to go and bring the boy. The sages then told him that Vibhandaka did not allow the boy to get out of the Ashram and that the king should send dancers to lure him out and bring him to the kingdom. The king then called a few of his celebrated dancers and briefed them on their job of bringing Rishyashringa to the kingdom of Anga.
The dancers at the bidding of the king reached the Ashram of Vibhandaka and planted themselves behind some bushes waiting for the father to leave the ashram. Soon Vibhandaka left the ashram and one of the dancers began to sing. Soon the others began to dance and come out from behind the trees. Hearing the sweet music, Rishyashringa was stunned to see some beauties singing and dancing outside his ashram. He had heard from his father about the nymphs in heaven but he had not seen anyone in flesh and blood. He invited them inside the ashram and fed them fruits and listened to their music. Soon Vibhandaka was heard arriving and the guests left abruptly.
Rishyashringa could not get the women out of his thoughts and he did not tell his father about their arrival either. The next day when the hermit left the dancers arrived and Rishyashringa was treated to more singing and dancing. When they were about to leave, he pleaded with them to take him along with them. This was the moment the dancers were waiting for. They took Rishyashringa along with them and the king performed the yagna with his help. The kingdom got rains soon and the king invited Vibhandaka and told him what had happened. He asked for forgiveness for his deed. Vibhandaka too realized his folly of raising his son this way going against the laws of nature.

The Downfall of Dronacharya

The famed Guru of the Pandavas- Dronacharya was the son of the hermit Bharadwaj. Once when he heard that Parasurama was giving away wealth and places he had taken from the Kshatriyas, Drona too went to meet him. At that time only weapons were left with Parasurama who had already given away the rest of the loot. Parasurama not only gifted the weapons to Drona but also taught him the art of weaponry and how to use them. This helped Drona in later years when he became the guru of the Kauravas and Pandavas.
Once Drona went to meet King Drupada who was his classmate and good friend. But King Drupada refused to accept a poor man as his friend and insulted him. Drona had visited Drupada with the intention of spreading his knowledge with the next generation and thought his friend would help him in this endeavour and together they could make a difference in the lives of youngsters. But that was not to be. Saddened by this, Drona returned to Krupacharya along with his wife (Krupacharya’s sister) and son Ashwathama.
Hearing about Drona’s prowess with weapons Bheeshma approached Drona to teach the Pandavas and Kauravas. Though Drona taught the Pandavas and Kauravas, he showed special interest in Ashwathama and trained him to be a good archer. Arjuna noticed this and wanted to be the supreme disciple of Drona. One day while having food in the dark as the lights went out, Arjuna wondered that when one could so easily eat in the dark the same way one could practice archery in the dark. This paved way for him to practice archery even in the dark and with his hardwork and became the most skilled archer. Thus he became the special pupil of Drona. So in the end when they were passing out of Drona’s
school, as gurudakshina (fees) Drona demanded that Arjuna defeat King Drupada and bring him before Drona. Arjuna defeated and brought King Drupada before Drona. Drona told Drupada “You said you would be friends only with a king. Now that I have your kingdom in my hands I am a king too, would you care to be friends with me now?” Duly insulted Drupada returned to his kingdom. He wanted to avenge this insult so he began propitiating Lord Agni through a yagna. Pleased with his devotion, Lord Agni presents him with a son Drishtadyumna.
When the Mahabharata war commenced, Drona led the Kaurava army. He proclaimed that he would not kill Drupada or Dhrishtadyumna who were on the Pandava side. However, with his different skills in warfare, Drona used the chakravyuh and the Padmavyuh and other tricks to defeat the Pandava army. Seeing that Drona was using trickery to quell the pandavas, the hermits went and told him not to use trickery and that he should return with them from the battlefield.
Meanwhile, Krishna thought that until Ashwathama was in the battlefield things will not go right for the Pandavas. So he asked Bheema to kill Ashwathama. He also asked Yudhishtra to shout “Ashwathama has been killed” . Hearing that his son had been killed, Drona dropped his weapons. Seizing this moment Dhrishtadyumna killed Drona.
This story is teaches one that anger led to the downfall of a friendship. If Drona had let bygones be bygones Drupada would have not killed Drona, who chose anger over love.

Devadutta and Dhananjaya were brothers who lived in the city of Kashi. Devadutta led a prosperous life, whereas Dhananjaya lived in poverty. One day Dhananjaya was sitting in one of the chawls. He was very hungry but couldn’t find food to eat. He lay down thinking what was the harm he had done in his previous birth to invite the penury he was suffering now. Soon he drifted of to sleep without having a morsel to eat.
In his dream arrived a hermit who spoke to him. “Dhananjaya, in the days of yore there lived a king by name Shatrumardhan. He had a close friend by name Heramba. Once both of them went on a hunting trip and lost their way. The were very hungry but couldn’t find a morsel to eat. A hermit who found them roaming took them to his hermitage and fed them with gruel made of rice flour. Shatrumardhan found the gruel delicious and ate heartily. Heramban on the other hand did not relish the gruel. He had a few mouthfuls and threw the rest away.
Due to this folly of his he was reborn as Dhananjaya and lives in penury. But Shatrumardhan was born as your brother Devadutta and lives a life of luxury. If you want to get rid of your poverty you should propitiate Goddess Annapurani,” said the hermit.
Waking up from the dream Dhananjaya decided to propitiate the Goddess and went around asking priests how to perform the rituals for this. But he could not find anyone who could correctly initiate him to perform the rituals. He went up till Kamarup in Assam to find out more about these rituals. But still he could not find any knowledgeable person to teach him. Deciding to end his life he jumped into a dark well. But suddenly he found himself surrounded by a bright glow and he began walking towards the light. He found himself on the banks of a beautiful lake where a lovely lady sat watching a man dancing with serpents hanging from his neck. The woman signaled him to go near her. As he reached her side, she said,” I am the Annapurani you are searching for”. She told him the way to wash off his earlier sins and asked him to build a temple for her. Overjoyed, Dhananjaya agree to do her bidding and left.
He built a temple for her in Kashi and found himself out of poverty. It is believed that one who propitiates the Goddess will not be touched by poverty.

The Golden Manuscript

Once a priest in the Kashi-Vishwanath temple had a dream. In his dream Lord Shiva appeared and said that he should invite all priests and scholars to the temple. The next morning the priest invited all the priests and scholars and told them about his dream of the previous night. Everyone considered the priest lucky for having seen the lord in his dreams. Soon all of them collectively propitiated the lord with rituals. After all the rituals were completed they were surprised to see a golden manuscript near the Shivalinga which was shining brightly.
The assembled scholars asked the priest to read what was written in the manuscript. It was written “This valuable manuscript should be handed over to a virtuous person. This manuscript is a present by the Lord to a person several virtues to his credit.”
The chief priest who had called all the scholars to the meeting had all the virtues to his credit, but he was very modest and thought that there were several virtuous people around and such people should get a fair chance in claiming the manuscript. Those assembled began listing to each other how virtuous they were and that they should be the recipient of the manuscript.
The priest on the other hand thought for a while and came up with a solution. He told those who had assembled that they should attend the service at the temple every Friday. The manuscript would be given to every visitor to hold. We will come to know the most virtuous person by divine will. Everyone agreed to this idea. On the first Friday morning each one was given the manuscript but as soon as they touched it, it turned into a manuscript made of slate. They were surprised and told the priest “It is miraculous how the golden manuscript remains golden in your hands but turns to slate when it comes to our hands!”
On subsequent fridays the same thing was repeated and the golden manuscript turned into slate.
Meanwhile, an old man was visiting Kashi and reached the temple. Seeing the serene atmosphere surrounding the place the man thought it was really a blessing to be in such a holy place. He went and bathed in the Ganges and arrived at the temple. Outside the temple he saw a leper shivering in the cold. He went near him and saw that he was hungry too. He gave him something to eat and presented him a shawl saying that it would help keep him warm in winter. Satisfied that he had helped the leper the man went inside the temple. Since it was friday the old man was also given the manuscript to hold. As soon as the man held the manuscript it did not turn into slate but shone brightly as before. The priest handed over the manuscript to him saying that he was the most virtuous and that he was worthy of the manuscript. The man humbly accepted it. The people who had earlier clamored for the manuscript understood that the most virtuous were those who gave without expecting any return.

The legend of Gangadevi

When King Daksha failed to invite Lord Shiva for the yagna he arranged, Dakshayini, his daughter and the consort of Lord Shiva was livid. She felt that her husband had been unduly insulted. She confronts her father even after Shiva warns her that it would be futile and that she would be insulted at her father’s yagna. When Shiva’s prediction came true and Dakshayini jumps into the fire, Shiva’s anger knew no bounds.
He came to earth and kept his left foot on top of the Rajagambeera mountain. His fury turned the mountain into a volcano and erupted by which the mountain split in two and began burning. In this heat there was a woman who was the most affected. She was Ganga who was residing in the locks of Shiva. She called out to her brother the omnipotent Vishnu, who arrived immediately to rescue his sister from her plight.
He created seven lakes and used the water from these lakes to put out the fire induced by Shiva’s fury. The mountain on which Shiva placed his left foot is known as Midhimalai and the place where he placed his right foot is known as Adi Annamalai. Ganga is said to have enshrined herself in this place.
The legend behind this temple of Gangaiamman is this:
During the reign of the Vijayanagar King Bukka, his son Kumarakambanan was combating forces from the north in the southern states. At that time, he unnecessarily picked up a fight with the king of Rajagambeera, Rajanarayana Venrumankondan. The war was fought in Kalambur. Rajanarayan who fleed in the end ran to Kalvasal. Kumarakamban’s army followed him there. Though Kumarakamban won the war, he entrusted the kingdom to Rajanarayan. This was later known as Sandhavasal. According to legend, Kumarakamban’s wife built the temple for Gangadevi when the goddess appeared in her dream.
The temple is on the foothills of the Rajagambeera mountain.
This temple is situated on the Tiruvannamalai-Vellore route. It is 50 kms from Tiruvannamalai and 32 kms from Vellore.

The power of a Mantra

Once upon a time Ayodhya was ruled by a king by name Dhruvasindhu. He had two wives, the first, Manorama and the second Leelavathi. While Manorama was full of goodness, Leelavati was a shrew. Leelavati had a son Shatrujit. Exactly a month after Shatrujit was born, Manorama gave birth to a son, Sudharshan.
One day the king went hunting and was killed by a lion. While Ayodhya was mourning for its lost king, Shatrujit’s maternal grandfather Yuthajit insisted that Shatrujit be made king as soon as possible. Manorama’s father Veerasena was against this and wanted Sudharshan to be made the king. Both the men went to war in which Veerasena was killed. Yuthajit now proclaimed that his grandson Shatrujit would be the king.
Fearing death, Manorama left with her son with the help of a minister in the pretext of attending the last rites of her father. She reached Rishi Bharadwaj’s ashram and told him the happenings of the kingdom. The hermit said that she could stay in his ashram and that she would be safe there.
Soon Shatrujit was made king officially and his grandfather who had heard that Manorama and her son were at the Bharadwaj ashram, came along with his troop to kill Sudharshan, but the hermit sent them away.
Meanwhile, the hermit educated Sudharshan in the vedas, archery and warfare. One day while playing with other children of hermits, Sudharshan heard a boy call out to another boy, which Sudharshan understood as a mantra and began meditating with the mantra on his lips. One day while he was meditating on the river bank, the Goddess Ambika appeared before him. She also presented him with a few weapons. At the moment a few messengers of the king of Kashi happened to see Sudharshan and were impressed by his looks. They went back to their kingdom and told princess Sasikala about the man they had met. Meanwhile, the goddess appeared in her dreams and said that she should marry Sudharshan. The princess was overjoyed at this. The king came to know of his daughter’s desire and arranged for a Swayamvar. When Sudharshan arrived in Kashi with his mother along with rishi Bharadwaj, the other princes were annoyed. Yuthajit had arrived with Shatrujit and wanted Sashikala as his grandson’s bride. He decided to kill him.
But the king of Kashi expecting all this got his daughter married to Sudharshan secretly. The princes of other kingdoms were enraged by this and they joined with Yuthajit and went to war with Sudharshan. In the ensuing war, Sudharshan won. It is believed that the Goddess too participated in this war. Sudharshan returned to Ayodhya with his wife and mother and ruled his kingdom for a long time. According to mythology a mantra is so powerful that even if pronounced irregularly, the benefits are manifold. In the case of Sudharshan, his uttering the mantra unknowingly won him his kingdom and the blessing of the omnipotent Goddess.

When talks for peace failed during the Kurukshetra war, Krishna returned to Virat nagar. On the way, his charioteer said “Krishna, you have unnerved the Kauravas. Also, by staying in Vidura’s house, you have made him happy. Krishna said “There is another reason behind my stay at Vidura’s house. Time will tell.”
Days passed and there was discussion about war strategy in the Kaurava camp. Duryodhana refused to have Vidhura lead the army. Vidhura was angered by this and said “Duryodhana, you have belittled me. I will not take part in the war. ” So saying he broke his bow and arrow and left the camp in a huff.
After Vidura left, Bheeshma said in a worried tone “Duryodhana, you fell for Krishna’s clever tactic.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked Duryodhana.
“If you had known of Vidhura’s past you would not have insulted him,” said Bheeshma.
So saying Bheeshma narrated the story of Vidhura.
Once upon a time there lived a sage by name Mandavya. He was once punished for something he never did. He prayed to God asking what was it that he did to deserve such a punishment. Hearing his plea the God of Dharma appeared in front of him and said that he had killed a small insect in his previous birth and that was the reason behind his present predicament.
Sage Mandavya was livid. “For a mistake committed during one’s childhood unknowingly this is too harsh a punishment. Is this your sense of justice?, ” he asked. So saying he cursed the Lord of Dharma to be born as Vidura and son of the holy Sage Vyasa.
Bheeshma continued, “So Duryodhana you have insulted Vidhura, who is Dharma himself. This is what Krishna was expecting too.”
“How does Krishna figure in this?” asked Duryodhana.
“Why did you refuse to let Vidura lead the army? asked Bheeshma.
“How can I? Vidhura hosted Krishna in his house. He would have shared our secrets with him,” said Duryodhana.
“Krishna knew your suspicious nature. That is why he stayed in Vidhura’s house, so that in your suspicion you would not let him lead the army,” said Bheeshma. Thus in suspicion you let go of Vidhura whose strength would have supported you in the war.