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Archive for January, 2009

Arpuda Devi

Situated amidst lush greenery a hillock in Mt.Abu houses Adhbutha Devi (Arpuda devi), in a cave. One has to crawl on all fours to get inside the cave to see and seek her blessings.
It is believed that this temple is 5,500 years old.
Once upon a time there was a king by name Bashkali. He was a great devotee of Shiva and he had obtained the boon of immortality after years of penance from the lord.
He soon entered heaven and drove away the devas. The devas arrived at the shrine of Adhbutha devi and prayed to her. The goddess pleased with their devotion appeared before them and asked them what they wanted.
Indra told her that they wanted her to kill Bashkali and give their kingdom back to them. The goddess said that since Bashkali had the boon of immortality it would be difficult to kill him. But she assured them that she would drive Bashkali out of heaven.
She sent an emissary to Bashkali to vacate heaven.
Bashkali, however was proud that he was immortal and so he sent his troops to fight with the goddess.
The goddess on seeing Bashkali and his troops laughed loudly and several soldiers erupted from her mouth and vanquished Bashkali’s troops. Initially Bashkali was flustered when all his men died, but then the thought of being immortal gave him strength to fight with the goddess. The devas however told the goddess that unless she vanquished Bashkali they could not go back to their kingdom.
The goddess then took her full form and removed a huge rock nearby and pressed Bashkali’s head with it. Pressing him into the earth the goddess resided on the rock by which Bashkali was unable to get out from under the rock. Knowing that Bashkali would never be able to come out, the devas thanked the Goddess and left for heaven.

To reach the temple of Adhbutha devi one has to climb 350 steps, some are steep. Yours truly climbed the 350 steps and felt that it was truly an “adhbut” feat. I do consider that my crawling on all fours to get inside the cave was a miracle. The spouse however stood outside wondering if I would be able to get inside the cave and his eyes popped out when I did.
Hail Adhbutha devi. 🙂

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Samarth Ramdas

Legend says that Samarth Ramdas was born on Hanumat Jayanthi as an incarnation of Hanuman. Ramdas was a simple man with almost no needs and lived in caves meditating on Lord Rama. His disciples too were very simple and led a very pious life like their Guru. Except for one disciple. His name was Ranganath Goswami. There was a crowd around him at all times.

On each of his side there would be a person fanning him. Another would stand behind him holding an umbrella. He also used to travel a lot in a palanquin. Some people made snide remarks on Goswami for living ostentatiously . The disciples of Ramdas felt that Goswami was spoiling the reputation of their Guru with his actions. They even complained  to Ramdas about Goswami in the hope that their Guru would reprimand Goswami. But nothing like that happened.

One day when Ramdas went to bathe in the Godavari with his disciples tagging along, Goswami arrived there in his palanquin. He got out of his palanquin and paid obeisance to his Guru. Ramdas then told him to leave his people and the palanquin far away and sit quietly on the banks of the Godavari till he returned from his bath.

The other disciples were elated that Goswami was ticked off and were waiting to watch what their Guru would do next.

Meanwhile Chatrapathi Shivaji arrived there. He was surprised to see a disciple of Ramdas who he revered was sitting all by himself on the hot sands of the river bank. He went near Goswami and spoke to him. But Goswami never replied. Shivaji thought that Goswami was observing strict silence and asked his people to provide a makeshift shelter  for the disciple. He asked a few others to fan him and a few others to stay back with him.

When Ramdas returned after his bath, he looked at Goswami and asked his disciples what had happened. Goswami told Ramdas what had happened. After listening carefully Ramdas told his disciples “Do you understand now? Goswami is also a very determined person like you. “He is only reaping the benefits of his good karma. He is only being rewarded for his good deeds in his previous birth,” said Ramdas.

(The end of this story may seem a little lukewarm to readers, but I didn’t want to burden myself 😉 or my readers with a more philosophical and convoluted ending as given in the original.)

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I wish all my readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Everyone knows that Swami Ayyappan is a bachelor. But the puranas also say that during one of his avatars he married. Proof of this celestial wedding can be seen at a place called Ariankavu in Kerala.
The lord in this shrine sits with his consort on an elephant. According to legend his wives are Poorna and Pushkala. Pushkala is said to belong to the Sourashtrian community.
The Sourashtrian community is well known for silk weaving and were supplying silk to the Maharaja of Travancore.
Once upon a time a silk merchant was on his way from Madurai to Travancore to show his silks to the King. His daughter Pushkala too accompanied him. They reached Ariankavu at nightfall and decided to stay at the temple that night.
The next morning when the merchant was ready to leave, his daughter said that she wished to stay on at the temple till he returned from Travancore, because she wanted to worship the Lord for some more time.
Though the merchant was surprised at this request, he spoke to the priest and left his daughter under his care.
He left for Travancore and on the way he had to pass through a jungle. All of a sudden he was attacked by an elephant who was running amok. He prayed to Lord Ayyappan to save him and miraculously there arrived a very young hunter who sent the elephant away with a flick of his fingers.
The merchant was overjoyed and presented the hunter with one of his finest silks. The hunter wore it immediately and asked the merchant how he looked.
The merchant said that the hunter looked like a bridegroom. He then asked the hunter “Tell me what else do you want?”
“I would love to marry your daughter,” said the hunter.
The merchant was surprised to know that the hunter knew that he had a daughter. But he agreed to give his daughter in marriage to the boy.
The boy said that he would meet the merchant at the Ariankavu temple the next day.
After doing business with the king, the merchant reached the temple at Ariankavu. But his daughter was not to be found. The merchant searched everywhere but could not find her. Meanwhile, the lord appeared in the dream of the priest and said that he had taken away Pushkala pleased with her devotion.
The king also arrived at the shrine at the moment and the priest opened the door to the shrine. The merchant was surprised to find the deity wearing the silk he had presented the hunter the previous day.
It is said that for the past 200 years, during the month of Margazhi, the temple celebrates the wedding of Manikandan.

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