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Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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Once there was king by name Kritaveerya. He and his wife Sugantha were blessed with a boy. Unfortunately the child did not have both legs. The king was saddened by this. However, his wife consoled him by saying that the child had the blessings of his ancestors and that it would help their son immensely.
Kritaveerya named his son Kartaveeryarjuna and he grew up to be a pious boy. Soon he went to the forests to meditate on Lord Dattatreya. Pleased with his devotion the lord appeared before him and granted him thousand hands and blessed him with a good life.
One day Kartaveeryarjuna went to bathe in the river Narmada along with his wives and retinue. All of a sudden he turned to his women and said “Can you see the beautiful Narmada flowing along. However she cannot flow anywhere beyond by control.” So saying he opened his thousand arms and stopped the Narmada from flowing beyond him.
Meanwhile, in another bank of the Narmada, Ravana was propitiating Shiva oblivious to his surroundings. Suddenly Kartaveeryarjuna dropped his thousand arms and the water began flowing faster and flooding the river banks. Ravana’s prayers were disturbed and he was livid. He wondered how the river could suddenly flood the area and asked his minions to find out. They said that Kartaveeryarjuna was behind this.
Ravana went to were the king was bathing and ordered him to leave the place. Angry with Ravana, the king started a duel. He fought with Ravana and hit him with his mace on his chest. Ravana fainted. The king promptly tied him up and put him in jail.
Several months passed and one day Pulastya the hermit met the King. He said Ravana was his grandson and that he wanted the king to release Ravana. Kartaveeryarjuna said that he did not know that Ravana was the hermit’s grandson. He also added that since Ravana had bravely fought with him, he had spared his life and put him in jail. So saying he released his captive and sent him with his grandfather.
Pulastya said that Ravana deserved this treatment as he had overstepped his boundaries. He also blessed him with the title Ravanajit.
Years passed and Kartaveeryarjuna’s bravery spread far and wide. Once on an expedition, he saw that the hermit Jamadagni had a divine cow. He abducted the cow. Angered by this the hermit’s son Parasurama killed Kartaveeryarjuna. In revenge, the king’s sons killed the hermit Jamadagni. Legend says that Parasurama killed 21 kings from the Kshatriya community to avenge his father’s death.

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This post is not about buying gold. ūüôā When the whole country talks about buying gold on this day each year, I chanced upon this story which says Akshya Tritiya is a day when one should do Annadanam (donate food !)
Anyway this story made a very interesting read and the kids lapped it up :).

Once in the town of Sathyapuri there lived a man by name Vishwanath. He looked after the daily affairs of the local Shiva temple. When he was born astrologers in the town told his parents that when the boy grew up, he would marry and have a child after which he would become a hermit.
Vishwanath grew up to be a pious young man. He married and had a son. He began feeding the poor along with his wife and son Gunaseelan. One day he had a dream that Shiva was beckoning him and took sanyas the next morning. He told his wife and son that he was going to Kashi and left them. His wife however, continued with the poor feeding started by her husband. One day, Gunaseelan asked his mother “You are feeding people daily won’t we become poor one day?”
She said, “I don’t know about that, but your father believed that feeding other people is like serving god.”
Gunaseelan was not satisfied with her reply, he sought permission from his mother to learn more about feeding the needy and went to meditate in the jungle. On the way he saw an old man who said he was hungry, so he gave him the food he had on hand and left. Towards evening he met a hunter, who advised him not to be alone in the jungle at night and took him to his house. The hunter had made a hut on top of a large tree and lived there with his wife.
The hunter’s wife did not like the boy and she refused to give food to Gunaseelan. She however, gave her husband food, which the hunter shared with Gunaseelan. After the meal, the hunter made the boy sleep between him and his wife, for which his wife didn’t agree. So he lay down between them and after they had slept he moved the boy to the center and he slept on the edge.
In the middle of the night, the hunter’s wife woke up and thinking that the boy was sleeping on the edge pushed him from the tree. The hunter fell down and he was eaten by the wild animals. Waking up in the morning, the wife saw the remains of her husband and realized her mistake and she took her own life.
Saddened, the boy continued on his journey. On the way he passed a hut where an old man was sitting. “Where are you going?” he asked.
The boy told him about the penance he was about to undertake.
The old man said, “When you meet God, please ask him why I am not feeling hungry at all.” The boy agreed and left.
Next, he met a cobra. The Cobra wanted the boy to find out why it was unable to see. He agreed to ask God and left.
After that when he was relaxing under a mango tree, the tree told him to find out why its fruits where always infested with worms and insects that it was never fit for consumption. He agreed to ask God again and left.
Sitting on a hill top, the boy began his penance. One day, pleased with his penance, a fairy appeared before him and told him to ask for a boon.
Gunaseelan said “Can you please tell me the benefits of feeding the needy?”
The fairy said ” In the next ten months the king of your country will be blessed with a son. Before the child’s body is laid on the floor, he should be laid on a golden plate. You ask the child your question and he will answer your questions.”
Then he asked the questions which were put to him by the people he passed by and the fairy answered him. She was pleased that Gunaseelan never wanted anything for himself. She blessed him and vanished.
On the return home, he passed the mango tree to which he said “In your previous birth you were a miser and you buried all your gold under the tree. That is why your fruits are infested with worms.” The tree immediately parted with its treasure and told Gunaseelan to take it.
He met the Cobra and said that it should part with the Nagarathna gem on its head to someone and then his eyesight would be restored. Immediately the Cobra gave the gem to the boy.
Next he met the old man and told him that in his previous birth as a teacher he refused to part with skills to students, which was the reason for his not being hungry. Immediately, the old man took the boy as his disciple and imparted all the knowledge he had.
Gunaseelan returned with his gold and gems and gave them to his mother.
Meanwhile, at the palace, preparations were on to celebrate the arrival of the royal heir. Gunaseelan met the king and told him what the fairy said. The king agreed to hold the baby in a golden plate and allowed Gunaseelan to ask the question.
When the baby was shown to him on a golden plate he asked the baby “Please tell me the benefits of feeding the needy.”
The baby immediately recalled its previous birth. “I am the hunter who fed you and that is why I am born a prince in this birth. My wife who refused to feed you has been reborn as a pig.” Hearing this Gunaseelan made up his mind to feed the needy during his lifetime.

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It is a known fact that Lord Vishnu traveled on the back of his favorite vehicle Garuda, the eagle. Garuda always carries a snake in his talons. This story is about how and why Garuda began carrying this snake wherever he went.
Once upon a time there was a man by name Madali who was the charioteer for Indra. He had a daughter by name Gunakesi who was of marriageable age. He wished to get his daughter married to Sumukha, a prince from the netherworld. He went and met Sumukha’s parents and asked for their consent. But Sumukha’s parents said that they weren’t lucky to take her as their daughter-in-law, as Garuda had pledged to kill Sumukha and his father.
Hearing this Madali told them not to worry and that Indra would help them in this regard. Madali took them to Indra and told them what happened. Indra assured them that he would talk to Garuda. Indra also conducted the wedding of Sumukha and Gunakesi.
Meanwhile, Garuda heard about the wedding and was angered. He immediately went to kill Sumukha. Sumukha scared beyond his wits sought refuge with Adhisesha . Garuda arrived there and told Adhisesha not to give refuge to Sumukha. Adhisesha told Garuda not to harm Sumukha as it didn’t befit his status to do such a heinous crime.
Livid with rage Garuda said that he was vehicle of Vishnu and that he was greater of the two. Adhisesha told him that they should go to Vishnu and ask him to decide who was greater.
Both of them took Sumukha to Vishnu and related what happened. Vishnu said that he would test the valor of both Adhisesha and Garuda and then decide. Garuda was the first to take the test. Vishnu said “If you are able to carry my right arm effortlessly you would be considered greater of the two.”
Garuda thought “If I am able to carry Vishnu’s weight on my back all the time, why not just an arm.” So thinking he got ready.
Vishnu placed his right arm on Garuda’s shoulder. Unable to bear the weight of the Lord’s arm, Garuda fainted.
Soon he awakened to the Lord’s touch and fell at his feet begging for forgiveness. Vishnu told Garuda to make friends with the Nagas in the Netherworld. He also told him to carry sumukha in his talons at all times to prove that he is friends with the snakes of the netherworld.
Thus Sumukha’s life was saved.

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Vakrakali

I love discovering hamlets. They have a distinct character. The local villagers are friendly and innocent, smile easily helpful… etc. On a recent visit to Pondicherry, I was coaxed into visiting one such hamlet by a relative, who waxed eloquent about some fossil which haven’t been given enough importance by the government. I was initially reluctant to visit this village as I already had plans to visit Auroville. Somehow, the day being Shivaratri, I guess the Lord lured me into meeting Him ūüôā

So we were on our way to the sleepy little Tiruvakkarai, tucked away in the back of beyond near the Tindivanam highway. Driving on dusty roads we arrived at the temple of Chandramouleeswara. The temple is in the process of being renovated and so we walked barefoot on the hot sandy makeshift way through columns of fences to reach the first shrine of the temple: Vakrakali. 

Vakrakaliamman

¬†Vakrakali stands in monolithic splendor after killing the demon Vakrasura. Surprisingly ¬†the ¬†idol doesn’t ¬†depict a ferocious Kali. Now, for the ¬† legend behind this temple.¬†¬†Once there was ¬†a demon called Vakrasura, who was great saivite. He meditated upon Shiva with a linga ¬†embedded inside his throat. Pleased with his penance Shiva appeared before him and asked ¬†him what he wanted. Like most demons, he wanted to be immortal and Shiva granted him ¬†immortality.

 Like every other immortal demon Vakrasura harassed humanity and the devas. The devas ran  to Shiva asking him to save them. Shiva on the other hand went to Vishnu and asked him to  vanquish the demon. Vishnu used his Chakra to kill the demon and vanquished him.

¬†Meanwhile, Durmukhi, the sister of Vakrasura began harassing people after her brother’s ¬†death. Shiva sent his wife Parvati to tackle Durmukhi. Parvati agreed to vanquish Durmukhi. ¬†But Durmukhi was pregnant at that time. According to Sastras, a pregnant woman cannot be killed. So Parvati tore open the stomach of the demoness and took the baby and hung it in her ear. She then killed the demoness. Since she killed Vakrasura’s sister taking the form of Kali, she remained there as Vakrakaliamman, according to legend.

There is a story behind the Dwarapalikas (like security guards) to Kali in this temple. Once there were four ladies who were from the families of cowherds in the region. They sold milk and curd for their living. But they cheated people by diluting the milk and curds. The king heard about these women and ordered that their heads be shaved and beheaded. On the day they were to be killed, the women were being paraded to the altar, when the four women realizing their folly prayed to Vakrakali. The Goddess appeared before them and pardoned them. She also made them her Dwarapalikas.

The temple has a shrine for Vishnu (Varadaraja Perumal) after having killed Vakrasura. There is also a shiva linga, that Vakrasura prayed with (known as Kantalingam, since he prayed with that in his throat). It is believed that during summer this Linga is cold to the touch. During monsoon, there are beads of water on the linga. There is also a huge Nandi in this temple and a shrine for Parvati in the form of Vadivambikai.

Another shrine of importance in this temple is that of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma all together in one idol adhering to the philosophy of God is one. This idol is known as Dhanumalayan. (Dhanu -Shiva, Mal-Vishnu and Ayan- Brahma) The three faces are facing three directions, East, North and South.

From the temple we headed to the fossil garden a kilometer away. The road to this garden is uncared for and very dusty, bumpy and narrow. The garden is fenced with a small iron gate and has a huge banyan tree in the front. Underneath the banyan tree sits Ayyanar in broken splendor with broken terracotta horses surrounding him.

Ayyanar¬†A little distance away amidst wooded paths we went on to see the fossil of a huge tree belonging to the Tamarind family. ¬†Most of the tree trunks scattered around have turned into rock…specifically silica. There are vandals who also come to chip ¬†away pieces of the tree trunk despite the old security guards, seated there throughout the day. ūüôā The old guard told us that he ¬†has to chase these boys away but then, he can’t be all over the place at the same time. We could only sympathize with ¬†him.¬†

 

 

The fossil¬†There are ¬†several huge tree trunks scattered in this wooded area. The place is quiet and very ¬†few people (tourists) visit this place. Like my relative said, in any other country this would ¬†have been turned into a tourist place. However, I am glad that this hasn’t been turned into a ¬†tourist place. Some places are best left untouched. And last but not the least I was glad to have ¬†visited the little hamlet of Thiruvakkarai.

 Thiruvakkarai, from Pondicherry would be about 50 km on the Tindivanam Highway, in Vizhupuram district.

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