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Archive for November, 2008

Why the moon wanes and waxes

The 27 daughters of Daksha were married to the moon or Chandra. Out of the 27, Chandra favored Rohini the most and spent most of his time with her. It came to a point when he ignored the other wives totally. The 26 sisters were very upset with this and went to their father Daksha and complained that Chandra was always with Rohini.

Daksha called on Chandra one day and told him that it was unfair that he spent most of his time with Rohini and this should not continue. But Chandra chose to ignore his father-in-law’s warning. Seeing that Chandra had not bothered to be with his other wives even after being warned, Daksha cursed him.

“Let Chandra be inflicted with leprosy and die slowly of the disease,” cursed Daksha. Soon Chandra’s disease took its toll. He was soon losing his sheen. His power to travel across the earth suffered and soon darkness surrounded the earth. Even the seas raged without seeing the moon.

Soon Chandra took refuge in Daksha’s house and fell at his feet. He urged that he be relieved from his curse. But Daksha said that once he cursed, he did not have the power to revoke or revise it. But Daksha said that if Chandra could find a shiva linga and pray fervently he might be released from his agony.

Chandra looked everywhere on earth but was unable find a linga. Finally when he was about to give up, he found a linga in Prabhas Patan, a place near Virawal in Sourashtra. He consecrated the linga and did penance to Shiva.

Pleased with his devotion. Shiva appeared before him. But he said that he would not be able to release him totally from the curse by bestowing him his original form. He said that Chandra would lose his form first for 15 days and when he totally loses form, then from the next day he would again begin taking shape for the next 15 days to show his original form. Thus began the waning and waxing of the moon.

This temple of Somnath is popular among pilgrims for meditating upon Shiva. It is believed that since Chandra himself consecrated the temple for shiva, the deity in the shrine is all powerful. The temple is situated in Virawal in the western coast of Gujarat.

One other point to be noted is that Mohammed of Ghazni is believed to have ransacked this temple 17 times.

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Erumaivettipalayam is a small hamlet about 7 km from Karanodai village in Tiruvallur district. Situated in this sleepy hamlet is a temple for Angala Parameswari.

The legend behind this temple is as follows.

In the days of yore there was demon called Mahishasura. He troubled all of human kind. But he was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Once he meditated upon Shiva and the lord appeared before him. He asked Shiva that he be bestowed with immortality. Shiva granted him a boon saying that he would be killed by one of four women who enter that village.

Mahishasura was elated. He was happy that he would never be killed because he thought that no woman could kill him, a powerful demon. He went on his rampages with this thought. The people and devas could not tolerate him and went to Lord Shiva for help. Shiva said that it was time that women who were to kill him would soon arrive and that would be the end of Mahishasura.

Meanwhile, Rama and Sita arrived in this hamlet during their exile. One day when Rama was doing his penance, Sita was bathing in the river nearby. Mahishasura arrived there and looked at Sita. Sita was scared out of her wits and she ran to Rama and plonked herself on his lap. Rama came out of his trance and took the dry grass by his side and threw it on all four sides. Out of this grass from all four sides four women emerged.

Looking at the nymphs Mahishasura was reminded of Shiva’s boon. The four nymphs who were Angala Parameswari, Ponniamman, Marakalathamman and Kaikathamman, looked at Mahishasura and began following him. The demon was petrified and began to run. Fearing his life he took the form of a buffalo and hid himself in the Punyakoti river.

Angala Parameswari with her eight hands and seated on a lion took a plunge into the river and killed the buffalo with one stroke from her sword.

All the nymphs after the death of Mahishasura then prepared to leave the place. The people and the devas surrounded them and pleaded with them to stay on in their village and bless them. They accepted and each of the nymphs took their posts in the four different directions of East, west, north and south. Angala Parameswari temple is in the eastern side of this hamlet.

It is believed that people affected by black magic come here in droves to get the blessing of the deity as she is believed to cure these ailments.

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Once Yudhishtra the eldest brother of the Pandavas had organised a Rajasuya yagna in their capital city of Indraprastha. After the rituals were over Yudhishtra called Krishna to partake the offerings made for the yagna. He told Krishna “As per Bhishma’s advice I wish to give you these offerings as a mark of respect.”

Shishupala, the king of Chedi was witnessing this and seethed with anger. He got up from his seat and voice his displeasure at Krishna, a mere cowherd being honored first. He went on calling Krishna names and engaged in a verbal duel. At one point, Krishna lost his cool and killed Shishupala with his chakra.

Now, there is an interesting background behind the gory death of Shishupala. This was related to Udhava a friend of Krishna and his charioteer when asked about the end of Shishupala who was also Krishna’s cousin.

Shishupala was born with three eyes and four arms. When he was born a heavenly voice proclaimed that his extra eye and arms will leave him when someone seats him on their lap and that person would also be responsible for Shishupala’s end.

Once when Krishna visited his aunt Satyavathi, Shishupala was an infant. Satyavathi told Krishna that Shishupala was handsome just like Krishna. Krishna took the baby from the cradle and sat down with the baby on his lap. At that moment the extra eye and arms left the body of Shishupala. Krishna was surprised. Sathyavathi told him about the heavenly voice which had said that Shishupala would die one day in the hands of the person who held him in his lap. She made Krishna promise that he would pardon Shishupala hundred times before he kills him and Krishna agrees. She also told him that after her son dies he should go to heaven.

Krishna told Udhava that he had been provoked a hundred times by Shishupala after which he had to be killed.

There is another story to Shishupala’s end. Once there were two brothers Jaya and Vijaya. They were the guards to the heavenly gate. Due to a curse they were born on earth as the enemies of Vishnu. According to the Puranas were born in the Dwapara yuga as Thanthavakra and Shishupala and both were killed by Krishna.

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