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The Essence of Puranas – Shiva Purana-1

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The Essence of Puranas – Shiva Purana










PREFACE
‘Yaacchiva Puranam hi Paramam Sastram uttamam /
 Siva Rupam Kshitau Jneya Seva- niyam cha Sarvatha /
 Pathanaat chhravanaadasya Bhaktimannarasathamah /
 Sadyah Siva paada praptim labhatey Sarva Sadhanaat’.
(This Siva Purana is a highly commended Scripture. Consider it as Lord Siva’s own manifestation on Earth and observe devotion to it always. Those who read or hear the Purana shall be blessed instantly and shall attain Siva loka)

In a congregation of Sages at the Holy Forest of ‘Naimisharanya’ headed by Sage Saunaka, Suta Maha Muni (the Sage-in-Chief) described the fruits of ‘Pathanam’ (reading), ‘Sravanam’ (hearing) and ‘Mananam’ (cogitating) of Siva Purana. He declared that only a person who had the blessings of previous births on account of past fruitful deeds could become associated with the Holy Purana; similarly those who aspire to acquire the blessings of Bhagavan Siva in future too could be associated with the Purana.  Siva Purana has an open and easy access, irrespective of any consideration to one all and Bhagavan Siva, who had a history of easy and quick award of boons is pleased with small services like reciting even half of a Stanza of the Purana- let alone reading the entire Purana for the best results. Bhagavan Siva would readily absolve even the meanest sins of varying descriptions if only a human being resolves to purify oneself with truthfulness and dedication till the final stage of one’s life. Asked by Sage Saunaka, Suta Muni informed that Bhagavan Siva Himself authored the Purana originally and Maharshi Veda Vyasa sought the permission of Sanatkumar for the benefit of posterity and Vyasa’s disciple Romaharshana (alternatively Lomaharshana) recited this Great ‘Kalpataru’ or the Boon yielding Celestial Tree)  to wash off the perennial sins of ‘Kali Yuga’. Siva Purana contains Six ‘Samhitas’ (Volumes) entitled Vidyesvara Samhita, Rudra Samhita, Shata Rudra Samhita, Koti Samhita, Uma Samhita, Kailasa Samhita and Vayavaya Samhita; each of these Samhitas is divided into chapters and even a condensed version duly read would yield fruitful outcome.
‘Adyanta mangalam-ajata Samaana bhaavam-aryam tam-Esham-Ajaram-Atma Devam /
Panchananam Pancha Vinoda Sheelam Sambhaavaye manasi Shankaram-Ambikesham’
(Let the Purana be evenly spread with propitiousness from the beginning till the end with heartfelt prayers soliciting the benevolence of the Birthless, Five Faced, Five-sported, and Shankara Deva united with Ambika.) –Veda Vyasa prefacing Sri Siva Purana.

Bhagavan Siva describes Super Force as a Unified Entity of Trimurthis

At the very beginning of the Universe, manifestation of Lord Vishnu afloat on an endless water surface was in Yoga Nidra (a state of Yogic Slumber) and from His navel sprouted a Lotus stem on top of which was lying Brahma.The latter wondered who He was and tried to ascertain the center of the Lotus and the its root for hundreds of years but in vain. There came a Celestial Voice commanding Brahma to perform ‘Tapasya’ and finally, there appeared Lord Vishnu and sought to endear the former as His own creation. But Brahma did not acknowledge Vishnu as a senior but defied and even fought with Him.

Meanwhile an ‘Analstambha’ (a Pillar of Fire) representing Lord Siva appeared and both Brahma and Vishnu agreed to discover the colossal Fiery Pillar’s height and depth ahead of the other as a challenge to determine their mutual superiority; Brahma took the form of Swan and flew high while Vishnu sported the form of a boar and travelled  down the massive ‘Linga’ to find out the depth. Brahma while travelling up and up caught hold of a ‘Ketaki’ flower falling from above and made the flower lie to announce that Brahma had discovered the top of the Pillar and provide evidence in His favour to Vishnu.  Bhagavan Siva Himself appeared and displayed His anger on Brahma and the Ketaki flower. At the same time He was pleased with Vishnu for His truthfulness; Vishnu even admitted that Brahma was greater on the basis of the wrong claim and the misleading evidence of the Ketaki flower. Siva thus accorded the same status to Vishnu but punished Brahma by slicing one of his erstwhile five heads looking upward; He also cursed Brahma as ineligible for future worship by the Universe. As Brahma entreated Bhagavan Siva, the latter obliged Brahma as the Presiding Deity at ‘Yajnas’ (Sacrifices). He banned Ketaki flower for pujas (Worship), but on its repentance approved of the flower at Pujas to Vishnu. As all this drama happened on this specific night and all concerned prayed to Bhagavan Siva for His Benevolence; the night had been observed as ‘Siva Ratri’ ever since.That was the first time that Bhagavan Siva assumed the Linga form ( a cylindrical column) for worship. He affirmed that whoever worshipped Him that night (Chaturdasi night of Magha Month in the Krishna Paksha) and the following day would be blessed with the boon of a year long of worship to Him and would even be pleased better than His affection for His Son Karthikeya!


Panchakrityas’ (Five Duties) of Main Deities prescribed by Siva


Bhagavan Siva advised Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra would all be of the same status. They are essentially of the manifestations of His origin. They would carry out ‘Panchakritya’ or Five Duties viz. ‘Srishti’ (Creation), ‘Sthithi’ (Preservation) and ‘Laya’ (Destruction), ‘Tirobhav’ (Concealment and Revival) and ‘Anugraha’ (Providing Salvation). Srishti would be performed by Brahma, Sthithi by Vishnu, and Laya by Rudra; the fourth task, viz. Tirobhav would be performed by Mahesa, who would be yet His fourth manifestation and finally the most significant task of Anugraha would be the exclusive dispensation by Himself.

After defining the first four duties as ‘Sarga’ (Nature), Bhagavan Siva taught the Mantra OM as the combined power of Himself and Shakti and the extraordinary potency of the recitation of the Mantra


The Mighty Power of Omkara and Panchakshari Mantras

Bhagavan Siva affirmed:
Omkaro mammukhajjaagney pradhamam matprabhodhakah /
Vachakoyamaham vaachyo mantroyam hi madaatmakah/
 tadananusmaranam nityam mamanusmaranam bhavet.
( The word Omkaram emerged from Me first; whoever recites this Mantra always is on My own track); ‘A’ kara uttarapurvam’ u’ karah  Paschima -ananat / ‘M’karo dakshina mukhaad bindhuh pranamukhastatha / nado madhya mukha devam panchadhasau vijrumbhitah /

( The letter ‘A’ represents My Northward Face, ‘U’ represents the Westward, ‘M’ stands for Southern Face, the ‘Bindu’ connecting the three words A-U-M is the Middle Faced Deva and the Fifth Face is over-awing.)  A Singular Deity is thus manifest as ‘Omikakshara’ or as Siva Sakti that is all-pervasive and omni-potent. Bhagavan Siva declared that continuous recitation of the Mantra Raja ‘OM’ summing up all the Vedas and Scriptures and representative of His Five Faces is a definite means of Happiness during one’s life time and Salvation thereafter. Omkara Mantra, thus originated from the root letters of Akara, Ukara, Makara, Bindu and Nada (Sound) or ‘Panchakshari’is the saviour Mantra gifted to Humanity which could be recited as Om Sivaya namaha or the Siva Panchakshari as the Deergha Mantra or Gross Mantra or simply as ‘Hrasva’ Mantra in the word OM. In any case, the Triumvirate viz. Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesa are amply displayed in the three letters A, U and M and together with the fuller ‘Panchakshari’ the complete display of Bindu and Nada, the fuller demonstration of Siva Skati becomes prominent. Also, the Most Potent word of OM has to be certainly used before any recitation of Vedas or Mantras as an unavoidable Starter! By chanting Pranava Mantra nine crore times, it is said that one secures the power of controlling the ‘Pancha Bhutas’ or the Five elements of Nature and even breaks the basic eight bondages of life viz. the ‘Panchatanmatras’ (five sensory reactions of touch, smell, sound, taste and appearance) as also control Nature, Intelligence and Ego.


Worship method of Siva Lingas

It is said that worship of the Linga at midnight time is considered preferable. Recitation of the above Mantra five crore times is considered highly fruitful.Worship along with ‘Shodasopacharas’ or sixteen kinds of Services is to be performed. [The Services are: ‘Asana’ or Seating, ‘Padyam’ water for washing the Deity’s feet, ‘Arghya’ or water for sipping, ‘Snana’ or  Body wash, ‘Anulepana’ smearing the Deity’s Body with Ash, Gandham etc.; ‘Dhupam’ or Inscense, ‘Dipam’ offering lights with oil-soaked cotton vicks, ‘Naivedyam’ or offering Food and fruits, ‘Tambula’ or betel leaves and nuts, ‘Paneeya’ offer of Ganges water / coconut water, ‘Vastram’ or clothing, ‘Alankaram’ or ornamentation by  holy leaves of Bilva, flowers etc; ‘Gandham’ or Sandal paste, ‘Achamaniya’ Ganga water for sipping and ‘Arati’ or camphor lighting and finally the most important ‘Mantra Pushpa’ or Vedic Chanting and Stotras as well as Vedic Hymns of ‘Namakam’ and Chamakam’/ ‘Mahanyasam’.] The worships are commended specially on the banks of Holy Rivers like Ganga, Sindhu or Sarasvati or at the Temples on the banks of any other Rivers like, Yamuna, Narmada, Godavari, Kaveri, and so on. Worship at Sacred Places like Badari, Kedar, Kasi and at other Dvadasa Linga Kshetras is highly recommended. On Sundays such worships are notably recommended for Siva Pujas, while Mondays are significant for Durga, Tuesdays for Kartikeya, Wednesdays for Vishnu, Thursdays for Lord Yama, Fridays for Brahma and Saturdays for Indra and other Planetary Heads. While Siva Linga Pujas performed at the Puja-designated places in one’s residence are nodoubt significant, such worships at Cow-sheds are ten times more beneficial;  the Pujas conducted in Temples in the precincts of Tulasi ( Basil plant) are ten times more fruitful; further ten times more beneficial with multiplier effect at Sea shores, mountain tops, and so on. But the best worship is with ‘Bahyantara Suchi’ or Physical and inner purity! The most auspicious timings for the Worship of Siva Lingas are the days coinciding Surya Sankranti, ‘Tula’ and ‘Mesha’Sankrantis, as also Lunar and Solar Eclipse days. In the normal course, Siva Linga Pujas are best performed during the ‘Magha’ month and on every Krishna Chaturdasi days. On every day of Kartik Month, a full fledged worship along with Agni Homas are specifically fruitful for ensuring excellent health, particularly related to long standing diseases? Most importantly, regular Siva Linga Pujas on every Sundays would bless the devotees with Happiness in their life times and Salvation thereafter!
Major kinds of ‘Siva Lingas’ are Svayambhu Linga, Bindu Linga, Pratishtha Linga, Chara Linga, and Guru Linga. Again, there are Lingas of Gross Nature, devotion of which is meant for fulfillment of Material desires and also Subtle Lingas aiming at Spiritual Bliss and Salvation. The Parthiva Lingas are however the most commended, especially suited for Kali Yuga just as Ganges is the best of the Rivers, Kashi is the best place of pilgrimage and Omkara is the best Mantra. Getting clean in physique and mind, wearing Rudraksha mala by neck and Bhasma on forehead, chanting names of Siva like Hara, Mahadeva, Soolapani, Pinakadhrik, Pasupati and Mahesa, the Parthiva Linga is immersed in a river or a water body, or placed on a pedestal in a forest area or a mountain. One should keep on reciting Siva Panchakshari, viz. ‘Om Namaha Sivaya’ and perform worship as prescribed in the Scriptures. Starting from Ganesh Puja and Planetary Heads, Devi Bhagavati and the Ultimate Deity of Siva, the worship is best performed facing North, along with the Sixteen Services with high devotion and commitment for fulfillment of desires ranging from good health, longevity, wealth and ‘nishkama moksha’. The service of bilva puja, ‘abhisheka’( Vedic bath of milk, coconut water and finallyof ash or bhasma  and so on along with ‘Naivedya’ are an integral part of the worship. More specifically, each service be designated by addressing the Lord as follows: Om Namah Sivaya- Prokshana (sprinkling of water) on various Puja materials; Om Namah Rudraya-Kshetra Suddhi (Purification of surroundings); Om Namah Nilagreevaya-Panchamrita prokshanam (sprinkling of mixture of milk, curd, sugar, honey, fruit); Om Mahesaya Namah-Asanam ( Seating); Om Paramesvaraya Namah- ‘Nyasam’or identification of self with  by Paramesvara by offering the entirety to Him; Om namah Visvarupaya-Padyam or water for cleaning His feet; recitation of Rudra Gayatri [ Om Bhur Bhuvah  Svaha Om Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Maha Devaya Dheemahi Tanno Rudrah prachodayaat]; Om Ghrishnaya Namah- Uttareeyam ( clothing); Om Parthaya Namah-Bilva Patra Puja; Om Kapardineya Namah-Dhupam ( incense sticks); Om Jyeshthaya Namah-Dadhyanna or curd rice Naivedyam; Om Rudraya Namah- Phalam or fruits; Om Vrajaya Namah- ‘Sakalam’ or every thing; Om Hiranya Garbhaya Namah- Dakshina or Present to the Pandit performing the worship; Om Devasya Namah- ‘Abhishekam’; Om Sambho namah- ‘Neerajanam’ or Aarathi; Om Parama Sivaya Namah-‘ Sashtanga Namaskara’ and  offerings of Siva Mudras]. Keeping in mind the Five Faced Bhagavan with the names of Sadyojata, Vamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Esana, one concludes the worship by reciting: Bhavaya, Bhavanasakaya, Mahadevaya, Dhimahi / Ugraya, Ugranasaya, Sarvaaya, Sashi Mouliney!
While performing the Worship to Siva Lingas, significance is attached of applying ‘Bhasmas’ or wearing ‘Rudrakshas’. ‘Maha Bhasmas’ are to be applied only after securing the burnt cow dung cakes in ‘Agneya Bhasmas’ ( homams) or in the course of  ‘Yagnas’ while reciting ‘Mantras’ and only the former varietyis used for ‘Tripundras’ invariably by Brahmanas and ‘Svalpa Bhasmas’could be used by others with devotion. Rudrakshas are available in a wide variety from the trees which in the days of yore sprouted from the tears of Siva Bhagavan- which eventually became large water bodies when He concentrated with wide eyes open for several years  to create a powerful weapon known as ‘Aghora’ to destroy a Demon called Tripurasura. This special tree yielded beads which are the Rudrakshas now worn by devotees for excellent results, depending on the number of cuts on the bead- faces and the corresponding Devatas giving away boons the desired virtues or results. Eka Mukhi Rudraksha is considered as Bhagavan Siva Himself providing the greatest boons of destroying even the worst sins including ‘Maha Patakas’.(Eka vaktram Sivah Sakshat Vimukti Phala pradam). Two-Faced Rudraksha is represented by Deva and Devi; the Three Faced one bestows all kinds of ‘Vidyas’; The Four Faced one is Brahma; the Fifth Faced is Rudra; the Sixth is Kartikeya; the Seventh is Manmadha; eighth is Bhairava; ninth is Durga, Ten- Faced is Janardana; Eleventh is Paramesvari; Twelfth is Aditya; Thirteenth is Visva Deva and Fourteenth is Parama Siva Himself. The Mantras that the persons wearing the Faces respectively are: Eka Mukhi: Om Hrim Namah; 2) Om Namah 3) Om Kleem Namah 4) Om Hreem Namah 5) Om Hreem Namah 6) Om Hreem Hum Namah 7) Om Hum Namah 8) Om Hreem Hum Namah 9) Om Hreem Hum Namah 10) Om  Hreem Namah Namah 11) Om Hreem Hum Namah 12) Om Kraum Kshaum Roum Namah 13) Om Hreem Namah and 14) Om Namah.

‘Yashya Nisvasitam Vedah’ (Who exhaled Vedas?)-Super Energy creates Vishnu


While concluding Vidyesvara Samhita and opening Rudra Samhita, Veda Vyas described ‘Srishthi Kanda’ (Process of Creation) as was narrated by Suta Muni to Sages. At the stage of ‘Maha Pralaya’ or the Great Dissolution of Universe, there was nothing except Bhagavan Siva. He assumed His Power as Bhagavati Amba and together they created Maha Vishnu. As a child the latter enquired of the cause of His existence and Siva provided His breathing as Vedas and their full knowledge to Vishnu. He also commanded Vishnu to carry out penance, which the latter did for twelve years but could not visualize Siva and Amba again.

A voice was heard that Vishnu should continue penance again. Eventually Vishnu found self lulled into yogic sleep and got floated on a huge sheet of Ocean which emerged as fountains from Bhagavan Siva’s skin- pores in all directions; Vishnu was named Narayana. He created the Basic Five Elements of Earth, Fire, Sky, Wind and Water; the Thee Gunas (attributes) of Satvic, Rajas and Tamas nature, besides ‘Ahamkara’ or Ego; the Five Tanmathras viz. Sparsha(Touch), Sabda (sound), Rupa (Colour and Form), Rasa (taste) and Gandha (smell); the Five Jnanendriyas (Skin, Ears, Eyes, Tongue and Nose) and Five Senses viz. (Touch, Hear, See, Taste and Breath).
In total, there were twenty four features thus created by Maha Vishnu. As ordained by Bhagavan Siva a Lotus Flower sprouted from Vishnu’s navel in Yoga Nidra and on top of the lotus stalk there was Brahma on the top who sought to travel down the hollow stalk but failed and returned to Vishnu and fought Him to assert His superiority over Vishnu.Thus followed the Drama of ‘Analstambha’ appearing, the cheating by Brahma, Bhagavan Siva cutting one of the Five Heads of Brahma as a punishment, declaring Maha Vishnu as the Senior, alloting the tasks to Brahma to create, Vishnu to preserve and Rudra to Dissolve, and so on. Then emerged the Omkara Mantra - ‘A’ signifying Creation, ‘U’ for Preservation and ‘M’ for destruction. The sum of the word OM manifested as a Golden Egg was submerged in waters for thousands of years and when Bhagavan Siva cut the Egg into two parts, one half appeared as Earth and the other half as heaven. From Siva’s physique emanated the vowels and consonants and Vishnu discovered the Forty Eight Lettered mantras from Omkara the most significant  Duel Mantra Expressions viz. Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Maha Devaya Dhimahi Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat and Tatsavitur  varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyoyona Prachotayat. Therafter emerged  the following Mantras :- The Mrutyunjaya Mantra: Om Joong sah; Hraung Hring Joong Sah and Trayambakam Yaja mahe; Namah Sivaya;  the Chintamani Mantra Kshayaum; the Dakshina Murti Mantra : Om Namo Bhagavate Dakshina Murthaye Mahyam Megham Prayaccha Swaha; Tatvamasi and so on.

Trinity’s Consorts and their Ages


Bhagavan Siva demonstrated that His left half was Vishnu and His right half was Brahma who also created Rudra for the purpose of Destruction. Bhagavan Siva then revealed Bhagavati Uma as His consort or Nature or ‘Maya’ (The Great Illusion); Lakshmi as Lord Vishnu’s Consort and Sarasvati as Brahma’s Consort.Bhagavan Siva also indicated the Ages of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra: Brahma’s one day consists of  four thousand eras and additionally one night comprises another four thousand eras. His age being one hundred years, Brahma’s one day and night are multiplied by three hundred sixty five days.

His life time is eight thousand eras multiplied by three hundred sixty five day/nights further multiplied by one hundred years! One day/night of Vishnu is one year of Brahma and the former’s age is hundred years too. As regards Rudra, His one day/night is that of Vishnu’s one year and Rudra’s age too is of the duration of hundred years.



Brahma creates Rudra and Universe

Once Bhagavan Siva made the rudimentary aspects of Srishti (Creation) like Vishnu and Brahma, carved out the responsibilities of Trinity, their Consorts and ages as also the Pranava Mantra, Five Basic Elements, The Three’ Gunas’, the Pancha Tanmatras, the Five Sensory Organs, and so on and disappered. Brahma created water and a Huge Egg into which Vishnu provided consciousness to the Egg and sat in. Creation proceeded further as Kailash Mountain and the Seven Worlds. Brahma being still unsatisfied at His performance, He used Tamo Guna to create all static things and four footed animals, Satvika Guna to produce Deities and, Rajas Guna to produce Human beings.

Each time, Brahma accomplished a part of Creation; He was lost in penance intermittenly and thus carried on the task. With the approval of Bhagavan Siva, Lord Brahma created Rudra from His eyebrows, half of Rudra being ‘Ardhanareesvara’ or Half Man and Half- Woman. Rudra in turn created Rudra Ganas (all resembling Himself) and as requested by Brahma, created mortals since that was a task of annihilation meant for Rudra Himself. Brahma then created Sages Marichi from His eyes, Bhrigu from heart, Angira from head, Pulah from Vyana Vayu, Pulasthya from Udana Vayu, Vasishtha from Samana Vayu,Kratu from Apana Vayu, Atri from ear, Daksha Prajapati from Prana Vayu, Narada from lap, Kardama and Dharma from His shadows, and Manasa Putras viz. Sanaka, Sananda,  Sanatana, Sanath Kumars, two halves of His body as Manu and Satarupa and they gave birth to Priyavratha and Uttanapad as sons respectively; Satarupa also gave birth to Akuti married to Sage Ruchi, Devahuti to Sage Kardama, and Daksha Prajapati to Prasuti. The various Sages and others thus created by Brahma procreated progenies and filled in the entire World eventually. For instance, Marichi’s son Kashyapa who married thirteen of the sixty daughters of Daksha, had procuced several clans of the Universe including Daityas, Serpents and vicious species born of Diti and Devas from Aditi


Bhagavan Siva decided to reside at Kailash nearby Kubera’s abode

Narada Devarshi sought explanations from Brahma as why did Bhagavan Siva decide to reside in Kailasa? Brahma explained thus: A Brahmana named Yogadutta, an expert in performing Soma Yajna, had a son Gunanidhi a Scholar but got attracted to evil ways like gambling.Yogadutta became angry and abandoned Gunanidhi and even his wife. Having become highly remorseful, Gunanidhi left his home and on one night reached a temple where Siva’s devotees were observing  the ‘Sivaratri’ fast and heard the Stories of Siva’s greatness and hymns.

But being hungry he sought to steal some fruits and light up a lamp which was almost dim by tearing his cloth and re-lighting it. But the devotees caught him, mistook him as a thief, thrashed him up and he died. The ‘Yamabhatas’ or the followers of Lord Yama arrived and planned to take away the soul of Gunanidhi; but Sivaganas were happy with Gunanidhi and took him to Sivaloka instead since he spent ‘Sivaratri’ fasting in a Siva temple, observed the whole night hearing Siva’s stories and hymns and even lit up a lamp with his own cloth piece as a vick. In the next birth, Gunanidhi became a King of Kalinga as Dama and a staunch devotee of Siva, ordered his subjects to observe Siva Pujas and Sivaratri fasts compulsory and thus got endeared by Bhagavan. In the subsequent birth Gunanidhi/ Dama became Kubera as the King of Alkapuri. During the next Kalpa named ‘Meghavahan’, the same Gunanidhi of the previous births, became the King of Alkapuri as Vishravan, (the grandson of Sage Pulastya-Brahma’s manasa putra) and as an unparalleled  Devotee of Bhagavan Siva did penance for lakhs of years; Siva and Bhagavati Uma were pleased and appeared before Gunanidhi / Kubera / Vishravan but the radiance of their appearance blinded him and when he regained the yogic sight the devotee became instantly so possessive of Bhagavan that even Uma should not be so near to Bhagavan! Immensely pleased, Bhagavan decided to shift His residence to Kailash Mountain which was nearby Alkapuri and ordered Visvakarma to build His permanent residence there!


Links of Devis Sandhya- Arundhati- Sati and Girija


Lord Brahma replied to another question of Sage Narada as to how Lord Rudra a Super Yogi married Devi Sati. As a preface to the reply, Lord Brahma described a bit of His own auto-biography about His ‘Manasic’ (mind born) children viz. Sandhya and Manmadha. He got infatuated with Sandhya and Rudra Deva chastised Brahma, who felt bad at the reprimand and was on the look out for an opportunity to prove that Rudra Deva too should one day be a victim of passion. Lord Vishnu advised against such attempts as Rudra Deva was far above such a mind-set.

  Meanwhile Sandhya could not overcome the feeling of shame caused to her by Brahma and did penance for thousands of years under the tutelage of Sage Vasishtha (who disguised as a Brahmana, named Medatithi, at the instance of Lord Brahma) and prayed to Bhagavan Siva with the Potent Mantra Om Namo Shankaraya Namaha Om as also the method of worship to Bhagavan Siva.
Since her prayers were not responded, she prepared herself to jump into the Agni kunda (Fire Pit) of a Yagna being then performed by Medatithi, her Guru. Rudra Deva made His vision to Sandhya and asked her for boons. She desired that none in her clan should become a victim of lust, that she should be an example of a chaste woman and that her husband should never cast an evil eye on another woman. Rudra Deva agreed to her boons and advised her to fall in the fire pit thinking of a person whom she desired as her husband in her next birth. He further blessed Sandhya that in the birth subsequent to her next birth, she would be born as Sati Devi to Daksha Prajapati and her further birth thereafter would be the daughter of Himaraja as Girija Devi Herself! Having heard Rurda Deva about His supreme blessing about the future vision, Devi Sandhya leapt into the fire pit thinking of Medathithi as her next husband; indeed Medatithi was actually Sage Vasishtha himself! The ‘Prana Vayu’ or the Vital Air of Sandhya’s burnt body in the fire pit was absorbed by Bhagavan Himself and the fire of the Yagna was carried to the Solar System and Sun God transformed it as Pratas Sandhya, Madhyahnika Sandhya and Sayam Sandhya or the Morning, afternoon and Evening timings of a Day. The Sages at the Yagna were awe-struck that Sandhya Devi  was reborn as a girl child in the Fire pit itself , named Arundhati and when she attained of age, she was married to Sage Vasishta as the function was attended by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesa themselves. Devi Arundhati is a unique example of chastity in the annals of History till date.
[The practice of Vedic weddings continues even now and all the new couples as a part of the Rituals are shown the Star of Arundhati as an ideal example]

Sati Devi’s wedding to Rudra Deva

Brahma gave a boon to His  son Manmadha or Pushpavan with the powers of  turning  passionate any victim with the use of  ‘Pancha Pushpa Banas’(Five Flowery Arrows) called Harshan, Rohan, Mohan, Soshan and Maran. The test-run was performed by Manmatha on Brahma and he got victimised in respect of Sandhya and hence the chastisement received from Rudra Deva. Brahma’s ill-feeling over Rudra was still not forgotten inspite of Lord Vishnu’s advice that Rudra Deva would never be disturbed by Manmadha’s arrows. At this juncture, Daksha Prajapati offered his daughter, Rati Devi to wed Manmadha, which was appreciated by all concerned as the couple looked that they were made for each other.

Brahma prevailed His son Daksha Prajapati to beget a daughter with Devi Bhagavati’s ‘Amsa’ (part manifestation) and Daksha prayed to Her for thousands of years. Devi Bhagavati blessed Daksha to beget Sati Devi and that she would also be wedded to Rudra Deva. But, Sati Devi would perform penance for thousands of years and once she would be married, she would not brook insults to Rudra Deva and if anybody did so, then She would end up her existence by ‘Yoga-agni’! Daksha had got already sixty daughters all married - ten to Dharma, thirteen to Kashyap, twenty seven to Moon, two to Bhutaganas, and two to Kushashva and six to Garuda. The sixty first daughter now blessed by Bhagavati was Sati Devi from Virani Devi. As Sati came of marriagable age, she had already fixed Her mind on Rudra and performed severe ‘tapas’. Rudra agreed to wed Sati, Brahma proposed formally to Daksha and the marriage was executed with pomp and show. After the auspicious wedding, Sati and Rudra shifted from Kailash to Himalayas for ten thousand Deva years and Bhagavan enlightened and exchanged views with Sati on many matters of Spiritual significance including the naunces of Yantra, Tantra and Yoga


Destruction of Daksha Yagna by Virabhadra


 In the mean time, Daksha’s jealousy towards Bhagavan gradually picked up momentum and at a ‘Yagna’ organised by the former, there was no place for the usually reserved ‘Havis’ or a major part of the Yagna in favour of Lord Siva; the seat reserved for Siva was unoccupied and Sage Dadhichi pointed out the lacuna but was ignored. Sati Devi felt that Her father made a mistake and despite the denial of Bhagavan proceeded to the Yagna to ascertain the position.Very reluctantly, Bhagavan agreed and Sati was escorted by Nandi and Rudraganas. Daksha ignored his daughter’s entry and of the Rudraganas into the ‘Yagna’ Place

When confronted by Sati about Her husband’s absence, Daksha had openly ridiculed Siva as an uncouth, ill- deserving and uncivilised personality. Devi Sati could not take the insults about Her husband and thus produced Yogic Fire and ended Herself to unite with Bhagavan. As Nandi informed Siva of the tragedy, the latter threw a few of His hairs against a mountain in a heightened rage and the energy created thus broke the mountain into two parts; one half of it produced Virabhadra and another Bhadrakali whom Siva instructed  for the destruction of Daksha Yagna, Daksha and whoever else attended the Yagna too. Virabhadra appeared at the site of the Yagna instantly along with a huge army of Sivaganas including Dakini, Bhairava and Kapalini while Bhadrakali entered the Place with the nine incarnations of Bhagavati like Katatyani. As Daksha got terrified of the consequences of the situation, he took refuge at Maha Vishnu who expressed His helplessness and reprimanded Daksha for his foolishness in provoking his own daughter to take away Her life. Vishnu Himself attended the Daksha Yagna and several Devatas too. Vishnu had to fight Virabhadra and Bhagavan’s party. It was rather ironical that this happened. A celestial voice confirmed that Virabhadra was invincible but meanwhile several Devas too were killed and Vishnu too desisted from the battle. Virabhadra severed Daksha’s head and threw it in the ‘Agnikunda’ (Fire pit) and returned to Rudra Deva along with his entourage.The irony of Vishnu’s fighting Virabhadra to defend Himself and  the Devas many of whom  were all killed and He himself had to be defensive had a background; indeed Vishnu was aware of this. A King called Kushva and Sage Dadhichi were good friends earlier but the ego (Ahamkara) of each other turned out to be mighty enemies. Kushva prayed to Vishnu and Dadhichi looked to Siva for help. Vishnu was pleased with Kushva’s penance and agreed to punish Sage Dadhichi and even used Sudarshana Chakra which proved futile, as Dadhichi was fortified with several years of devotion and Sacrifice along with constant ‘Japa’ (meditation) of Mritunjaya Mantra under the guidance of Sukracharya. Finally, Dadhichi condoned Kushva but did not excuse Vishnu and his Deities and gave the curse that they would all be turned as ash in a fight with Siva’s part- incarnation (Virabhadra). Eventually, Lord Brahma approached Maha Deva to pardon and revive the lives of Vishnu and Devas who were burnt in the battle with Virabhadra. A sobered and ever merciful Siva conceded to the prayers of Brahma that not only Vishnu be pardoned but those Devas who were burnt off in the cross fire with Virabhadra be revived but also allow a revitalized Daksha Prajapati with life by placing the Yagna’s Goat- head on to Daksha’s severed head thrown out by Virabhadra in the Fire pit and thus Daksha had a Goat- head thereafter. The ever grateful Daksha begged of Maha Deva for his pardon and prayed to Him with great sincerity and devotion everafter. He then performed a Yagna again with Maha Deva on the High Seat and with all the Devas to receive their blessings!


Devi Parvati’s wedding with Bhagavan Siva

Of the sixty daughters of Daksha Prajapati, Svadha was married to Pitras and gave birth to Maina, Dhanya and Kalavati. The three of them after coming of age decided to have a ‘Darshan’ ( casual view) of Lord Vishnu at Svethadvipa and among the visitors in- waiting were the Highly respected Sanaka Brothers but the three girls could not recognise them as they were offended and cursed them to take births on earth.
Indeed, the girls did not recognise them and begged of the Sages to lighten the curse.
Since the girls were indeed unaware of the background of the illustrious Kumars, they blessed Maina to become the wife of King Himavantha and beget ‘Jagadisvari’ Herself; Dhanya would wed King Janaka and bless them with Devi Sita to wed Sri Rama; and Kalavati would marry Vrishabhan and bless Radha Devi as the special devotee cum beloved of Lord Krishna. Accordingly Maina Devi became the wife of Himavanta. Vishnu blessed the Himavanta couple with hundred virtuous sons and a daughter that the couple would indeed be proud of as She would be the Jadamba Herself! The Sons were born with wings but out of envy, Indra clipped the wings of all of them, except Minak who hid inside the Ocean as a mountain [who helped Lord Hanuman while crossing the Ocean to reach Lanka in His reconnaisance trip to find Devi Sita in the bondage of Ravana Asura.] The only daughter of Himavanta viz. Devi Parvati even from childhood became an intense devotee of Bhagavan Siva and had constant dreams of Her worship to Him in person. Both Himavanta and Queen Maina too had similar dreams regularly. Meanwhile, Bhagavan Siva like a lunatic became a restless globe trottrer after Sachi’s Yogic end for several years and resettled at Himavan Mountain for severe ‘Tapasya’. In the process of His meditation, He had memories of Sati and perspired and from His sweat was born Bhauma and Bhu Devi nurtured the child and eventually Bhuma became a high devotee and attained a position in the Solar System as Mangala Deva or Mars. Parvati requested her parents to seek a blessing from Siva to allow Her in His ‘Seva’ (Service) without disturbing Him at all. Siva did not agree but Parvati Herself emboldened to argue with Siva that She was ‘Prakriti’ or Nature and Siva was the Maha Purusha ( Almighty), that His meditation would have speedy results if Prakriti too served Almighty’s efforts as a supplement  and that He could therfore agree to allow Her service to the Almighty and so on. Siva was impressed with her Spiritual knowledge and had agreed; every day Parvati used to up-keep Siva’s meditation- surroundings, fetch flowers and other requirements useful for the meditation and Puja by Bhagavan.
It was at that juncture that a powerful Demon Tarakasura became a major menace to the World, especially Devas and Indra. He was the son of Vajrang, a son of Diti-wife of Kashyap, who had the deep-seated animosity against Indra in particular and Devas in general; Diti was pregnant with a wish to beget a powerful male issue who would conquer Indra and Devas and occupy heavens, since she had several of her descendants destroyed. But Indra used his mystic powers to kill the foetus which was cut into forty nine pieces and thus produced ‘Marudganas’. She became pregnant again and delivered Vajrang whose son was Tarakasura, the most dreaded Demon of the date. Tarakasura was fortified with the boon from Brahma that excepting Siva’s son, none else should be able to kill him in the entire Universe! Knowing of the invincibility of Takasura, there was a great desire that Siva’s son must soon arrive and Devi Parvati’s wedding be expedited. As advised by Brahma, a big delegation of Devas was sent to Manmadha and Rati so that their good offices were utilised to kindle desires in Siva in favour of Devi Parvati, who is already in the vicinity of Siva in meditation.Thus prompted by Devas, Manmadha used his ‘Kama bana’(Arrows of Love) when Bhagavan felt a slight change in His attitude in favour of Parvati but soon recovered from His thoughts quickly and noticed that Manmadha was at work, became highly provoked and in a fit of immense fury opened His Third Eye and as a result, Manmadha was burnt as ash and  indeed was a dreadful and instant action which stunned all Devas, Brahma, Vishnu, Devi Bhagavati and indeed the entire World. The ‘Nirvikara’ (Reaction-less) Maha Siva resumed His Tapasya as though nothing had happened, but Rati was inconsolable, Parvati was mystified and decided to take up rigorous meditation. There were group prayers by Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, their consorts and the whole lot of Devas; Bhagavan Siva got gradually cooled down a bit, as it was  explained to Him that it all happened due to their own reasons of self- protection and defencelessness and narrated the matter in full. He gave the boon that in the next births, Manmadha would be born as Pradyumna to Lord Krishna and Rukmini Devi and even a few days of the child’s birth, a Demon named Shambara would throw the child in the Sea and eventually kill the demon and marry Rati Devi as Mayavati. Manmadha would join ‘Sivaganas’ and be visible only to Rati Devi, and she should await her rebirth in Dvapara Yuga. Parvati Devi performed severe ‘tapasya’ under the tutorship of Devarshi Narada and constantly carried out the ‘Japa’ of the Mantra ‘Om Namo Sivaya Namaha’ meticulously. Bhagavan did not agree to the proposal of marrying Parvati initially, but as convinced by Vishnu, Brahma and Devas conceded but ordered ‘Sapta Rishis’ to test Her seriouness. In course of time Bhagavan Himself appeared in the disguise of a Brahmana and tried to dissuade Her to wed a ‘Bhutnath’, a near ‘Digambara’, an uncouth and frightening entity with matted hair and serpents and ash all over His body and so on. Devi Bhagavati reacted vehemently and showed Him the door. But She felt that Her penance executed all along did not satisfy the Lord and out of desperation sought to jump into a Fire pit, when He gave the Darshan and said: ‘Why do you not realise that we are the Eternal Prakriti and Maha Purusha ourselves!’
When the wedding of Siva and Parvati was announced, the entire Universe got transformed with ecstasy. Sivaganas including Nandi and Bhairav went into raptures. Devas were relieved that the menace of Tarakasura would end soon. Great Sages, Brahma and Vishnu turned highly inward-looking spiritually as their souls hit pinnacles of fulfillment. The Union of Prakrti (Maya) and Maha Purusha explained the Quintessence of Vedas and Sciptures as the Super Energy of Unknown, Everlasting, All-pervasive, Endless, Unborn nature!Bhagavan Siva was in a light disposition and played ‘Leelas’, especially with Parvati’s parents, Maina and Himavanta. First, He disguised sporting a dress of a flippant dancer as ‘Nataraj’ at Maina’s residence and she tried to give Him a gold chain thinking that He was an ordinary dancer. When He announced that He was Siva, both of the parents of Parvati were not only not impressed, but refused to give away their daughter in wedding to Siva. Sapta Rishis had to appear and convince about Siva. As the bride groom’s party arrived the parents were under the illusion of each arriving Deity at the function as the bridegroom. And when actually Bhagavan did arrive, He sported a figure of a Bhutnath on Nandi the bull vahana with a frightening demeanor surrounded by Sivaganas, Bhutas, and Pisachas. Lord Vishnu had to intervene to say that what they saw was an illusion of Siva to test their basic faith. Devi Parvati was indeed amused with Bhagavan’s pranks.The Wedding Procession included the ‘Who Is Who’ of the Universe: the ‘Saptha Matas’ (The Seven Mothers viz. Bramhi, Mahesvari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indri, and Chamunda; the full contingent of Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, Planetary Heads and Devas, Sapta Rishis, Brahma Manasa Putras, Sages, Sivaganas, Pisachas, various manifestations of Devi Bhagavati, Gandharvas, Apsaras, Kimpurushas and personified Vedas and Sciptures and so on. The Whole World was in memorable bliss and elation. Indeed on this Holy Occasion, Bhagavan recalled Manmadha too back to active life to the greatest delight of Rati Devi too.

The birth of Kartikeya and the end of Tarakasura

As Siva and Parvati moved on from Himavanth’s Palace to Kailash and were enjoying conjugal happiness, all the Devas, Brahma and Vishnu were all disturbed by the peak- evil  activities of Tarakasura and the very purpose the wedding of Siva and Bhavani appeared to take a back seat. A Divine Delegation headed by Vishnu sought permission to meet Siva to explain the grim situation and in a hurry to meet the Delegation spilt His Virya on ground and Agni Deva transformed as a pigeon pecked up the drops and could not bear the inflammation. Maha Deva Himself advised the pigeon to inject the drops into a woman of immense virtue.

Agni identified Six Women of Great Virtue and injected them into the pores of hairs on their bodies. They too could not bear the extreme effervescence and as directed by Himalaya relocated it into the violent flow of Ganges which carried to the bushes of reed (Sarkanda) and there appeared a Boy of mysterious radiance. Even while this sequence of events was happening, Devi Parvati was extremely furious that Her privacy was disturbed and worse still Bhagavan’s Virya was being wasted and in that fit of anger cursed the wives of Devas who accompanied their husbands in the delegation to become barren!
The birth of Kartikeya on the Lunar Calendar of the Sixth Day of the bright fortnight of Margasira Month (Krittika Nakshatra of Shashthi Tidhi of Suddha Paksha of Margasirsha Masa) brought the greatest joy to Devi Parvati and Maha Deva, unbelievable relief and sense of liberation to all Devas, and a feeling of frustration and apprehension of the Demons and followers of Takasura. Sage Visvamitra appeared at the spot and named Him as Guha, bestowed the Totality of Vedic Knowledge, endowed Him with the Title of Brahmarshi and blessed Him to lead Indra and Devas. Agni Deva gifted Him a Divine weapon ‘Shakti’. Six Goddesses arrived at the scene and all of them tried to feed breast milk but the miracle Boy solved the problem of assuming Six Heads and mouths. He was thus known as Shanmukha.  As He grew a year or two, He became restless and moved on to Krouncha Mountain and demonstrated His valour by crumbling it ; innumerable Demons got shaken and  killed. Indra tested His valour by fighting it out with the former’s ‘Vajraudha’; Indra hit on Kartikeya’s left, right and central portions and out came three powerul entities viz. Shakh, Visakha and Naegam. In the meantime, Sivaganas located Kartikeya and brought Him to Bhagavan and Parvati, who knew no bounds of elation that He was finally home. Kartikeya was crowned as the King of Kailashpuri and various Deities gifted away their weapons and powers and was declared as the Senapati - Commander in Chief. Now was the time that Tarakasura was destined to be destroyed; the Deities including Brahma and Vishnu could not with stand the fury of the Demon. Finally, Tarakasura was challenged by Kartikeya, the Demon ridiculed Devas and said that they were seeking to keep a mere boy as a shield and fight behind him. But the ‘wizard boy’ attacked the huge ‘Asura’ with warm-up weapons initially and ultimately at an opportune time when the Demon was caught unawares applied the Shakti weapon deftly and hit on the Demon’s chest even as the biggest menace on earth at the time breathed his last instantaneously. Kartikeya continued His battle escapades further on by hitting Banasura as the target from Kailasa Mountain to Kraucha Mountain as a simple feat and recalling the weapon Shakti back therafter. He set up three Siva Lingas at the Krouncha by His mystic vision viz. Kumareshwar, Pratigyeshwar and Kapileswar to please His father Bhagavan Siva. Yet another time, when a Demon Pralamb tried to create obstacles to Devas, especially Brihaspati and Seshanag’s son Kumud who took refuge from Himself, Kartikeya repeated the miracle of destroying the Demon without even facing him.

Anecdotes of Kartikeya and Ganesha

There were different ‘Avatars’ (incarnations) of Kartikeya and Ganesha in various Kalpas. In ‘Sveta Varaha Kalpa’, the two anecdotes about Kartikeya and Ganesha- the Illustrious Sons of Siva and Parvati- were narrated by Lord Brahma to His Son Devarshi Narada. As both the Brothers came of marriageable age, the question arose as to who should be married first and the parents decided that whosoever could circumambulate the entire Universe first would get the choice. Kartikeya flew off by His carrier- a peacock- without even waiting for a minute, Ganesha who applied His mind and recalled what Vedas stated that a single ‘Pradakshina’of one’s parents would yield the fruit of ‘Bhu pradakshina’.

Even half way through the full circle of the World, Sage Narada intercepted Kartikeya and conveyed that Ganesha’s wedding with Siddhi and Riddhi was in progress already (they were blessed with two sons Kshema and Labha eventually). Kartikeya felt cheated by the parents and retired at Krouncha Mountain and the parents brought Him back by cajoling the dear son who felt hurt! It is on this day of Kartika Pournami, Kartikeya’s ‘darshan’ is considered as most auspicious.
The Story of Ganesha’s birth is indeed popular. When Nandi was asked to bar entry into the Interior Place of Parvati as She was taking bath, Nandi no doubt prevented but Bhagavan still entered and She was not amused. She decided to create an idol of a boy which was infused with life and empowered Him to challenge anybody with the necessary powers. The boy followed the instruction and did not allow entry even to Siva. The Pramadha ganas were asked to teach a lesson to the boy by Siva but they were defeated in no time. Siva Himself decided to force His entry but to no avail. Finally, an irritated Bhagavan snapped the boy’s head and Parvati became furious and Her angry manifestations surprised Siva Himself. She insisted that the boy be brought to life forth with. Siva suggested locating anybody sleeping in the northern direction and the Sivaganas were able to trace only an elephant. The severed head of the boy was fixed with that of the elephant and He was revived. The assembly of Deities who first fought with the boy and witnessed the entire scene earlier decided that any function in the World ought to be commenced with worship of Ganesha foremost as He is the Lord of preventing impediments and of providing success. Ganesha’s worship on Bhadrapada Sukla Chathurdhi is a must all over Bharatadesa as one is dreaded of becoming a victim of   undeserving blames since Moon God received a curse from Ganesha that whoever saw the Moon on the particular Chaturdhi night without worshipping Him would become a sure target!

Series of Siva’s victories over Demons

Pursuant to Kartikeya’s victory over Tarakasura, the three sons of the slain Demon-Tripurasuras or the three-some brothers viz.Tarkasha, Vidyunmali and Kamalaksha who performed severe meditation for a number of years to Lord Brahma and secured boons of undestroyable forts made of gold, silver and iron in the Skies, Earth and the Lower world.
The Demon Brothers were highly virtuous and flawless in their ethical behaviour in general but at the same time were never forgetful of the killing of their father by Kartikeya.
They had the constant grudge against the Devas and hence kept up the tempo of tormenting them frequenly. Devas complained to Brahma who took them to Siva but were referred to Vishnu instead. In a Yagna that Vishnu organised numerous Spirits with powerful weapons emerged from the Homa Kunda and they were all despatched to fight the Demon brothers but it became clear that they were indeed invincible as long as they hold themselves to virtues and religion and hence ways and means would have to be found when they ought to step into ways of argument and even vice. Thus Vishnu created a person named Arihan from His body who could produce discourses on action- oriented life based on reasoning as against the established Vedic Scriptures based on beliefs, faith and ‘Karmakanda’ ( approved rituals); in other words, it was  religion vs. skepticism. Thus the slow-poison type of atheism was gradually injected into the minds of the Demon Brothers and from them into the social fabric.Arihan congregated disciples- Rishi, Yati, Keerya and Upadhya- to spread out the non- belief principles in no time as the Demon Brothers temselves became victims of the so-called rationalism and thus the ground for the killings of the brothers was well prepared and the Deities beseeched Bhagavan to take the much awaited action of destroying the so called ‘Invincible’ Castles till Dharma was practised and kill the Brothers and followers. Siva prayed to Ganesha to destroy obstacles (‘Vighnas’) as an intial step, Viswakarma fabricated a Powerful Chariot, Devas gifted several armouries, and Lord Siva used His ‘Pasupatastra’ the Supreme Arrow, the unparalleled weapon.The Demon Brothers knowing fully of their fate, begged Siva to pardon them and the Most Merciful Bhagavan blessed the Brothers to join His army of ‘Sivaganas’ for the highly religious deeds and devotion that they performed in their lives in the past.
Bhagavan Siva’s annihilating of Demon Jalandhar was the legend further described by Lord Brahma to Devarshi Narada. A child was born at the terminating point of River Ganges and the Ocean, known as Gangasagar. As the child was crying loud incessantly, the attention of Deities and Sages was drawn to Lord Brahma, who appeared on the spot and prophesied that he was destined to become a King of Demons known for his ferocity and could be killed only by Bhagavan Siva. The Lord named the child as Jalandhar since he had so much of energy that he hurt the neck of Brahma and the latter had tears in His eyes! The Lord entrusted the child’s upbringing to the care of the Sea. Jalandhar grew and married Vrinda the daughter of Kalanemi the Demon King and eventually became the King himself. In course of time, Jalandhar occupied Indra’s seat in a battle and the latter and the Devas approached Vishnu who nodoubt subdued Jalandhar but Lakshmi Devi requested Vishnu to not only spare the Demon as She considered the latter as Her brother since both of them were associated with Samudra Deva (the Sea) but even allow Jalandhar to stay in ‘Kshirasagara’ along with Her! Devas were hurt but had to suffer.
Meanwhile Narada created a problem to Jalandhar that his riches and powers were not at all comparable to Lord Siva who was not only the mightiest but His Consort Parvati was the most attractive in the entire World. The Demon was tempted and asked Rahu to mediate for his possession of Parvati. Bhagavan became furious and threw out Rahu as he was only an emissary. Jalandhar was unable to overcome his obsession for Parvati and approached Her with the proposal of marrying Her. She became motionless with such a ghastly proposal and informed of this incident to Vishnu. The latter pacified Parvati by saying that He would apply the same method of approaching Jalandhar’s wife Vrinda as a Brahmana and she would be also stunned in the same manner as Parvati when Jalandhar approached Her. Sometime later Vishnu impersonated like Jalandhar and pretended as her husband and on learning of the truth she ended her life while cursing Vishnu that His wife would also face a similar situation. [Indeed this did happen likewise when Ravana abducted Sita and Rama was searching for Her all over!] Jalandhar provoked the Demon Brothers Sumbh and Nisumbh to challenge Siva who reataliated almost killing them and warned them that not long later Bhagavati Herself kept the task of destroying them. Jalandhar himself entered the battle field with Bhagavan and He slit the Demon’s head with a fiery ‘chakra’ produced from His toe! The Deities hailed Bhagavan for this memorable action and prayed to Him in great relief and gratitude. While Devas were delighted at the termination of Jalandhar, Lord Vishnu was suffering a guilt complex about the self immolation executed by Vrinda, the wife of Jalandhar. He applied the ashes of her burnt body all over His body and started performing penance. The Devas were concerned about His condition and approached Maha Siva, who in turn asked Parvati to rally the support of Lakshmi and Sarasvati in this context. The three Devis gave the seeds of three trees viz. Amla, Tulsi and Malati to the Deities and spray the seeds at the place where Vrinda immolated.The seeds manifested as plants which were forwarded to Vishnuloka as tokens of blessings to Vrinda’s soul at Vaikuntha.
Sankhachooda was a powerful Demon dreaded by Devas. In his earlier birth, he was Sudama, the Chief Attendant of Lord Krishna’s Rasa Mandali and a ‘Jatismara’ ( a person who knew about his earlier birth), cursed by Devi Radha to become a Demon in the ensuing birth.  Sudama he fell in love with Devi Tulasi (also a Jatismara) who was also cursed by Devi Radha for an indiscretion; happily Sankhachooda and Tulasi were united in the current birth again. Already fortified with ‘Narayana Kavacha’ even from his earlier life, Sankhachooda practised penance of a high order and secured boons of invincibility from Lord Brahma. He defeated Devas in fierce battles and dislodged Indra and Devas from thier thrones. Devas went into hiding and later on approached Lords Brahma, Vishnu and finally to Maha Deva with their woes. Siva despatched a Messenger Pushpadanta to warn the Demon who had the audacity inviting Siva Himself. Sivaganas were sent in the lead but to no impact. Bhadrakali was asked to battle along with Her army but again to no avail! All the Devas were involved in the fierce battle with Kartikeya and Ganesha in the lead; Mahendra was pitted against Vrishaparva, Bhaskara against Viprachitti, Agni Deva against the Demon Gokarna, Kubera against Kalakeya, Yama to Samhara, Sanesvara against Raktadhara, Eleven Rudras against Eleven Bhayankaras and so on. The Illustrious Sons of Maheswara were controlled by Maya. Lord Brahma utilised ‘Brahmastra’ the Powerful Arrow whose usage is executed only under exceptional circumstances and that too paled away. Lord Vishnu spread out a cover of Illusion (Maya) and approached Sankhachooda in the form of a Brahmana and asked the ‘Narayana Kavacha’, the most potent spiritual armoury from his body, as charity and the Demon gave it away under the influence of Maya. Vishnu also advised Lord Siva against utilising the ‘Pasupatastra’ for fear of collosal destruction of the Universe but gifted to Eswara a ‘Trisula’ (Trident) with which Siva finally devastated the dreadful Demon Sankachooda. Even as the army of the Demon ran helter-skelter in fright and self-defence, the blanket of ‘Maya’ of Lord Vishnu was still in operation as He assumed the Form of the Demon who entered the Interior Chamber of Devi Tulasi who was immensely pleased that her husband returned with Victory from the battle field. Though initially rejoiced, Tulsi came to learn of Vishnu’s unforgivable deceit and disguise, but Her chastity was spoilt by that time already! Not only she lost her husband but even her chastity and thus she sacrificed her life, while cursing Vishnu to turn as a Stone! Vishnu blessed Tulsi to welcome her to Vishnu loka and accepted her as one of His Consorts as also become immortal as Tulasi Tree worthy of daily worship along with ‘Salagramas’ or Lord Vishnu’s manifestation- the Stones- as cursed by Tulasi! The spiritual and even medicinal uses of Devi Tulasi’s leaves are immense and popular; the contemporary belief is that if a dying person is administered a leaf of Tulsi, preferably with Ganga water has access to Vishnu loka!
Lord Brahma also narrated the account of another Demon Andhakasura to Narada. When Devi Parvati was playful with Maha Deva by closing His eyes tightly, the latter perspired on His forehead and a boy of muscular strength was created whom Parvati named as Andhaka. She nurtured the boy with affection under Her personal care. As the Demon Hiranyaksha meditated for several years to seek longevity and unconquerability, Lord Siva gave the boons and also gifted Andhaka to assist the Demon as his son. Together, both Hiranaksha and Andhaka conquered the Three Worlds- the Heaven, Earth and the Nether world. Lord Vishnu had to take the form of a Boar as ‘Varahavatara’ to save Vedas by plunging the Scriptures into the deep Seas, destroyed Hiranyaksha and crowned Andhaka as a the King of the Nether World. In course of time, Andhaka made Tapasya to Brahma and secured a boon that none excepting his father Siva could destroy him. Empowered with the boon, he tormented Devas and became arrogant even ignoring Devi Parvati and Maha Deva Himself, let alone Vedas and Sages.
Earlier to this, Danava Guru, Sukracharya noticed that the strength of Danava Army was fast dwindling as each time a powerful Danava made attempts to occupy the Indraloka by virtue of  severe ‘Tapasya’or Sacrifice by pleasing Brahma or Siva, Indra and Vishnu commenced maneuverings; in the process of the big Danavas getting killed, thousands of supporting and  less powerful Danavas perished, but the strength of Devas on the other hand had been intact as they had the advantage of ‘Amrit’ that made Devas live for ever! Therefore Sukracharya made exterme Tapasya to Lord Siva for thousand years to Lord Siva to give the boon of ‘Mrita Sanjivani’ Mantra (Providing the dead to come alive) to such lesser valued demons who were fodder to the Deva’s Astras. Highly gladdened by the persistent penance, Lord Siva not only gave away the Mantra but also provided a berth in the Planetary Region as an Entity-the Sukra Graha or the Planet of Venus.As Andhaka’s arrogance was turned into unbridled ambition and occupied the Devalokas, Maha Deva sent His Sivaganas to reprimand Andhaka. The Demon’s companion called Vidhas swallowed several Deities engaged in the fight and simultaneously Sukracharya brought back to life the dead Danavas. A fiery Siva Himself appeared and devoured Sukracharya for the betrayal and misuse of His boon of Mrita Sanjivini Vidya. The Danava Guru who kept on reciting Om Namah Sivaya Mantra as a gesture of his regret, Siva released the Danava Guru from His semen. Then Siva applied His Trident to kill Andhaka but for each drop of blood, there was another Andhaka born; Maha Deva ordered Devi Chandika to suck each drop of blood and expanded her tongue for till the Demon’s body was drenched out of blood. Later on Siva lifted the bloodless body of Andhaka, but the Demon prayed to Siva to admit him among the Sivaganas after death.

Lord Brahma narrated the tale of Gajasura too to Narada Muni. As Durga Devi destroyed Mahishasura, his son Gajasura did incredible penance to the Creator Brahma and received the advantage that none excepting a ‘Jitendriya’ (Controller of Senses) could kill him. He took advantage of the boon and created havoc in the Three Worlds, especially by distressing Deities, Maharshis, and Brahmanas. He coerced that he should be worshipped and none else. The climax came when the Demon forced the devotees at Kasi to worship him and Maha Deva appeared and terminated Gajasura. While being killed the Demon realised his sins and as a death wish entreated Siva to wear his skin on His body. As He obliged the asura, Maha Deva is praised as Gajambaradhari. The Lord ordered that at the spot of the Demon’s end there must be a Siva Linga with His manifestation as Krittiveseshvar.
When Hiranaksha was killed, Diti was deeply grieved and Nirhad Daitya, the maternal uncle of Prahlada, decided that the root cause of all the tribulations for the Daityas were Vedas and Mantras. As Brahmanas were the performers of Yagnas and the Vedic Rites, the Demon took the form of a tiger in a forest nearby and during the course of a Yagna at Kasi which is the Center of Vedic activities, he used to kill as many Brahmanas as possible in the nights and after the success of this experiment, more Daityas followed suit.But, when several Brahmanas assembled worshipping a Siva Linga on a Sivaratri, a tiger appeared and Lord Himself gave a powerful blow and terminated the Daitya in the form of another tiger.
Yet another incident described by Brahma to Narada related to the death of two Demons named Vidal and Utpal. They too performed penance to Lord Brahma and after obtaining boons harassed the virtuous and the learned. The Deities complained to Brahma and He confirmed that the the terminl stage of theirs was closeby. The demons took the form of Sivaganas when Siva and Parvati were engrossed in a ball game. Siva indicated to Parvati about the Demons in the form of Sivaganas and the ball with which the Super Gods were playing hit hard the Demons to instant death and the ball took the shape of a Holy Sivalinga.
 [Such Leelas or Playful acts by Bhagavan, as narrated by Brahma to His ‘Manasa Putra’ Narada, were several, each of which vindicating victory of Virtue over Evil, faith over non-belief and truth over illusion. Interestingly, there had been a pattern in the happenings as the demoniac tendency of the Evil-doers was camouflaged with superficial penance and sacrifice, only with the end-objective of executing evil deeds with deliberation and design. As soon as boons are granted, the Devils tend to become arrogant, egoistic and berserk without fear or restraint. At the end, all such happenings end up as triumphs of Inner Beauty versus inherent beastliness. Another facet of the narrations is a common phenomenon of Danavas seeking boons for wrong objectives and the boon-granters like Brahma or Siva were indeed not unaware of the consequent run-up of blatant acts of injustice being perpetrated by the evil persons. But apparently the narrations are designed to teach lessons and alert the generations of posterity that despite initial results, the long run realities would assert themselves bringing out the basic fact of ‘Satyameva Jayatey’ or Truth Triumphs in the Long Run!]

Five basic incarnations of Bhagavan Siva

While narrating the contents of Shata Rudra Samhita of Siva Purana of Maharshi Veda Vyasa, Suta Muni addressed the congregation of Sages commencing the five major incarnations of Bhagavan Siva:
Sadyojata

Vamadeva

Tatpurusha

Aghoresha and

Isana

The Sadyojata incarnation of Bhagavan in white colour was to bless Lord Brahma to initiate the process of ‘Srishti’(Creation), looking Westward and the Invocation of relevance is: Sadyojatam prapadyaami Sadyojathaayavai namo namah/ bhavey bhaveynaati bhavebhasvamaam Bhavodbhavayanamah/ From the body of Sadyojata, four disciples were created viz. Sunad, Sunandan, Visvanandan, Upanandan. Greetings to Sadyojata Siva are: Vandeham Salalam kalankarahitam Sthonormukham paschimam.

The Vamadeva incarnation of Siva has red complexion, looks Northward in deep meditative posture and is along with four sons created from His physique viz. Viraj, Vivah, Vishok and Visvabhavan for blessing Lord Brahma to preserve and heal the objects of Creation.. Invocation to Him states: Vamadevaya namo Jyeshthaya namah Jyeshthayanamo Rudraya namah Kalaaya namah kalavikaranaya namo balavikaranaya namo balaaya namo balapramadhanaya namah Sarva bhuta damanaaya namo manonmanaaya namah. Greetings to Vamadeva are: Vandey Purna Sasaanka mandala nibham Vaktram Harasyottharam.

Siva’s incarnation of Aghoresha looks South and of blue complexion representing destructive/ regenerative energy and Invocation to Siva states: Aghorebhyo thagorebhyo ghora ghoratarebhyaha/ Sarvebhyassarva sarvebhyo namasthe astu Rudra rupebhyah. The sons of Aghora Siva are Krishna, Krishna Sikha, Krishna Mukha and Krishna Kantha dhari. Greetings to Aghora states: Vande Dakshina -meeswarasya kutila bhrubhanga Roudram Mukham.

Tatpurusha
is the Eastward incarnation of Maha Siva being of yellow complexion and of deluded or misled Purusha. Invocation to Tatpurusha states: Tat Purushaya vidmahe Maha Devaaya dhimahi tanno Rudrah Prachodayaath. Salutation to this aspect of Siva is: Vande Siddha Suraasurendra namitam Purva Mukham Sulinaha.

Finally, Easana facing South East is Sada Siva who is Eternal, Omni Potent and Omni Present. The Prayer to Him states: Esanassarva Vidyanam Eswarassarva Bhootanam Brahmadhi patir Brahmanodhi pathir Brahma Sivemo astuh Sada Sivom!  
While many Incarnations of Siva are cited, the most significant additions to the Pancha Mukhas or Five Faces of Siva are described as Ashta Murtis (Eight Idols) viz.  Sharva, Bhava, Rudra, Ugra, Bhima, Pasupati, Isana, Maha Deva. Bhava, Rudra and Sharva represent the Five Elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Ether, Sky as also Sun, Moon, and Kshetragya or the Supreme Soul. Bhagavan Siva is Sharva and omniscient. He is Bhava or the bestower and merciful.He is Rudra the corrector or punisher, if need be. He is spread out the whole Universe and is present ‘Bahyantara’ or inside-out of each being thus manifested as Ugra rupa. He who fulfils the wants of every animate or inanimate being and destroys all kinds of difficulties is called Bhima. To those who are unable to pull out themselves from their worldly chains of desires, relationships, senses of earthly belongings and so on, Bhagavan manifests as Pasutpati. That Siva who is noticeable in the most radiant form of Sun on the Skies and stands evidence to every being’s actions and sufferings is called Isana.  Siva who provides coolness and happiness to every being as manifested in Moon is known as Maha Deva.
The Ardhanariswar is another significant manifestation of Bhagavan. When Lord Brahma was faced with a major limitation in the context of Creation of various species including human beings and the process of creation was extremely slow, since Brahma had to exert and create the living beings mainly in a ‘Manasic’ way or from various parts of His body, a celestial voice was heard that He should perform Tapasya to Bhagavan Siva. Not too late, Siva manifested in half form as Purusha and half as Prakriti. He then provided a solution to Brahma as to how the process of creation could be rapidly sped up. Devi Prakriti bestowed the knowledge of the Secret of creation as also gave away the boons to men and women to procreate. This solution had indeed greatly facilitated Lord Brahma whose task was  lightened as only the guidelines of the beings to be born were still to be decided by way of fate lines and account-keeping of pluses and minuses and so on, but creation process became mechanical as the body parts of men and women came into existence eversince. Another interpretation of learned persons of course is that Paramatma is only one and has no age, time, Tatvas, Gunas or sex but is Unique and everlasing!
In the Current Seventh Manvantara comprising Four Yugas each repeating twelve times cyclically, the Sveta Varaha Kalpa which is now ongoing has manifested various Avatars of Siva; during the current First Phase of Kali Yuga, nine entries were registered and the successive ‘dwars’ (segments) witnessed manifestations of Lord Siva, as Sveta, Sutra, Daman, Suhotra, Kanka, Lokakshi, Jaijisatya, Dadhivahan, and Rishabhadeva. Interestingly, Veda Vyas existed in all the nine segments as Satya, Bhargava, Angira, Savita, Mrityu, Indra, Vasishtha and Sarasvat. The most reputed disciples in the corresponding segments were Lord Brahma Himself, Dundubhi, Vishoka, Sumukh, Sanak, Sudhama, Sarswat, Kapil and Parashar.
Nandikeswar is a partial expansion of Lord Siva Himself. Sage Shailada meditated to Bhagavan for several years and secured a boon for a son of unprecedented Spiritual Knowledge and therafter in a Fire Sacrifice appeared a Child with four hands and three eyes who became a prodigy of Vedic comprehension within a short span of seven years. The Sage was extremely delighted and proud. But, two Brahmanas arrived at their abode and prophesied that the child was fated to die soon. As the Sage heard the tragic news, the son was not perturbed but performed high order of penance and Bhagavan Himself appeared and blessed the boy with eternal life. He took out a garland worn by Him to let Him imbibe His powers and sprinkled water from His locks as the water flowed as Panchanad or Five Rivers. He also appointed the boy as the Chief of Sivaganas. Devi Parvati brought him up as Her own son and gave Nandiswara full freedom in the Household. Nandi wedded Suyasha, the daughter of Marut.
Bhairav was created from Bhagavan Siva’s third eye as He decided to snip the fifth head of Brahma who annoyed the Lord for the sin of temptation with his own daughter. But the sin of removing a head of Brahma construed as ‘Brahma hatya’ (killing a Brahmana that too of the stature of Brahma) haunted Bhairava and he wished to atone the sin by begging alms in the skull of the dropped Head. He reached Vaikuntha and Lakshmi Devi gifted a Vidya or learning called ‘Manorath’ or fulfilment of one’s mental wishes. Lord Siva dropped oegrass (a plant in sea akin to elephant grass) in the skull-bowl and directed Bhairava to Kasi as this sin of Brahmahatya could not enter the Temple but he went to Patalaloka intead. As Bhairava dropped the skull, he got rid of the sin for-ever.The place where the skull fell is regarded as that of ‘Kapala Moksha’ or Salvation of the Skull.
Sharabheswar is another incarnation of Maha Deva, in the curious form of a giant bird which is part-lion and part-human [depicted as a figure in the Temples of South India]. When Lord Vishnu assumed the incarnation of Narasimha (Man-Lion) and devastated the Demon Hiranyakasipu and saved Prahlada- the die-hard devotee of Vishnu, Narasimha continued His fury for a long time and various efforts including Prahlad’s prayers and even Veerabhadra’s intervention in the form of a mighty fight proved futile. The Giant Bird was able to control Narasimha and flew the latter away held by its beak. On way, Lord Vishnu recovered His normalcy and praised Siva for averting a universal havoc. The body of Narasimha was destroyed and its Lion’s Head was worn in a garland of Sharabhevara or Lord Siva.

Lord Siva’s ten incarnations corresponding to those of Shakti

Corresponding to Ten Maha Vidyas of Shakti, Lord Siva assumed Ten Incarnations.
The first Incarnation was that of Mahakal and the counterpart Maha Vidya was of Maha Kali. The next was that of Tar and the corresponding Shaki was Tara. The third incarnation of Siva was Bhuvaneswar and the complement was Bhuvanewari while the fourth was Sodash or Sri Vidyesh and the matching Shakti was Sodashi or Sri. Parameswara’s fifth Avatar was Bhairav and the balancing Shakti was Bhiravi
Chhinnamastak Siva was the counter part of Chhinnamasta in the Sixth Incarnation. Dhumavan and Dhumavati were Siva and Shakti of the Seventh while the Eighth Avatars manifested as Bhagala Mukh and Bhagalamba. Matang and Matangi are the corresponding names of Siva and Shakti in the Ninth Incarnation and finally the Avatars of Siva and Mahavidyas were Kamal and Kamala

Lord Siva’s 'Ekadasa Rudra’ manifestations

As Daithyas were constantly distressing Devas, the latter approached Sage Kashyap. The Sage too felt quite upset with the evil actions prepetrated by the Demons and desired to secure a lasting solution to punish the Demons. He executed a rigorous ‘Tapasya’ to the most merciful Shankara who appeared and rewarded with a windfall that soon the tribulations by Daityas would vanish as He would bless Devi Surabhi with Eleven Expressions as Eakadasa Rudras ( Eleven Rudras) to wipe out the Daithyas engaged in the tortures by the Demons. The Ekadasa Rudras were: Kapali, Pingal, Bheem, Virupaksha, Vilohit, Shastra, Ajapaada, Ahirbudhya, Shamshu, Chand and Bhava. A whole generation of Demons was indeed wiped out by the Grace of Maha Deva


Trinity blesses Sage Atri and Anasuya with triplets


Lord Brahma’s ‘Manasa Putra’ (Mind-born son), Sage Atri performed a very powerful Sacrifice to Bhagavan Siva to bless a divinely son. The severity of the penance was such that the extreme heat from the Fire pit radiated all over the World and Devas approached Lord Brahma who along with Lord Vishnu conferred with Bhagavan Siva. They agreed with each other that they would all appear before Atri and blessed him to let Anasuya Devi ( Atri’s wife- a highly pious and chaste woman) conceive three boys, with the ‘Amsas’ ( partial manifestations) of all the three; from Brahma’s ‘amsa’ would emerge Chandra; Dattatreya  as the manifestation of Maha Vishnu and Durvasa  from Lord Siva. Indeed Anasuya (literally meaning Unenvious) had the unique distinction in the entire World of begetting three children with the ‘amsas’ of Tri Murtis!


An interesting happening was narrated by Sage Suta to the congregation of Rishis about Maharshi Durvasa: King Ambarisha was highly virtuous and pious who was in the habit of observing fasts and worship to Bhagavan on every Ekadasi (eleventh) day of a month and on the next day of Dvadasi (twelfth) day, he would break the fast only after a Brahmana or more would commence their food. It was on a Dwadasi day that along with several of his disciples, Durvasa made a sudden appearance, agreed to join for mid day meals and took away all his Sishyas for taking bath in a river nearby. Just at the nick of time when Dwadasi was nearing its end, Durvasa and disciples did not return; the King had to cut-short the fast and took one sip of water and precisely at that split second Durvasa and others arrived. Durvasa became furious that the King did not wait for him but had a sip of water already; he pulled out a lock of hair which became a flame and would have turned the King into ash but for the instantaneous appearance of ‘Sudarshan Chakra’ (since the King was a very high devotee of Lord Vishnu) which not only put off the fire but chased the Sage. A celestial voice was heard not to hurt the Sage as he was of part embodiment of Bhagavan Siva and that he was only testing Ambarisha.The King beseeched Durvasa’s sincere pardon and so did Sudarshan Chakra too. There were many other instances when Sage Durvasa used to test the real characteristsics of illustrious personalities- apparently to enlighten the posterity - like Sri Rama who was once ordered not  to be disturbed by  anyone but Lakshmana had to do so since Durvasa arrived and as an atonement discarded even Lakshmana for his wrong action; when Durvasa was taking bath in Ganga naked by intention or mistake, Draupadi tore a part of her sari to cover  the Sage, and he blessed her that at the time of ‘Vastrapaharanam’ ( Draupadi’s disrobing) in an open Court, the piece of cloth would come to her rescue as Dussasana tried to disrobe her; and finally saved another great embarrassment to Pandavas and Draupadi by the  sudden arrival of Durvasa with many disciples while she was unable to cook so much of food for all of them, but Lord Krishna arrived and suppressed the hunger of all of them as  a morsel of rice remained in the utensil and that turned to be plentiful to Durvasa and disciples! 
Chhinnamastak Siva was the counter part of Chhinnamasta in the Sixth Incarnation. Dhumavan and Dhumavati were Siva and Shakti of the Seventh while the Eighth Avatars manifested as Bhagala Mukh and Bhagalamba. Matang and Matangi are the corresponding names of Siva and Shakti in the Ninth Incarnation and finally the Avatars of Siva and Mahavidyas were Kamal and Kamala


Many other incarnations of Lord Siva


Nandikeswara was quoted to have recounted innumerable incidents of Siva’s forms. He appeared as Yakshewara to humble Devas as they became arrogant as they secured ‘Amrit’ after churning Ocean and asked them to cut pieces  of grass and they were so mighty but they failed and realised that He was Maha Deva Himself; He incarnated as Hanuman  when Lord Siva was infatuated with Mohini, Saptarishis carried His semen to Anjana Devi through Vayu Deva, as a child swallowed Sun God to release him only after Deities requested the child when Sun agreed to be Hanuman’s teacher, joined Lord Rama as His devotee, assisted Rama to locate Sita as also destroyed Ravana along with his clan and had became immortal eversince;


He assumed the form of Mahesha along with Girija since Bhairava, the door keeper of Kailasa, made Parvati unhappy causing Her to curse as mortal named Vetal who performed penance of such intensity that pleased Siva and Parvati; He embodied as Vrishabha ( Appearance of an Ox) to enter the lower lokas (nether worlds) with the aim of punishing Vishnu’s wicked sons but when they were destroyed Vishnu fought with Vrishabha not knowing the Ox-like form was of Siva’s; when Vishnu prayed to Siva the latter presented  Sudarsan Chakra to Vishnu. Lord Siva disguised as a Yatinath to test the depth of devotion by a Bhil couple named Ahuk and Ahuka and sought resting place overnight but even while Ahuk said that their hut was just enough for two persons, Ahuka agreed to sleep outside to let the guest sleep inside the hut, while a wild animal killed Ahuk yet Ahuka quietly tried to jump in the husband’s funeral pyre when Lord Siva manifested and blessed that the couple to become Nala and Damayanti in the next birth as the Lord would appear as a ‘Hamsa ( Swan)  to unite them; Siva disguised as a beggar  to another poor woman who was hesitating to look after an orphan boy as she had her own child too, yet advised the woman to bring up both the kids, since the orphan boy was the son of King Satyarath who was killed by enemies while the Queen went to forest along with the just born child but was killed by a crocodile in a river thus prevailing on  the poor woman not to abandon the orphan and eventually found a pot of gold to her surprise; Lord Siva appeared as Sureshwara in the guise of Indra when child Upamanyu performed concentrated penance to Bhagavan to become rich as he did not have enough money to buy milk when his poor mother said that Siva could only provide money but as a result of his penance  Indra appeared and not Siva which disapponted Upamanu to resume the Tapasya with far higher devotion and Siva Himself appeared; and Bhagavan’s Incarnation as Kirat (hunter) when a forest bound boar ( actually a Demon Mookasura sent by Duryodhana)  killed by Arjuna  and Kirata simultaneously was claimed by both ending up in a mutual fight and finally a victorious Siva was impressed by Arjuna’s valour and gifted ‘Pasupatastra’, the most potent arrow of the World!



Description of ‘Dvadasa (Twelve) Jyotirlingas’



Kedaro Himavatprushthe Daakinyaam Bhimasankarah

Vaaranaasyam cha Viswestriumbako Gautami thatey

Saurashtrey Sommanathasva Srisaile Mallikarjunah

Ujjainyam Maha Kala Omkare cha Amaresvarah

Vaidyanathaaschitha bhumo Nagesho Daarukaananey

Sethu bandhe cha Ramesho Ghrusneswara Siva lingo

Avatara Dvadasakamethchhambhoh Paramatmana

Nandiswara described the Most Celebrated Twelve Jyotirlingas of Maha Deva as follows:
[ Kedarnath in Uttaranchal, Bhima Shankar near Pune in Maharashtra, Visveswara in Varanasi, Somnath in Gujarat, Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Maha Kala in Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkara also in Madhya Pradesh, Vaidhyanath at Deogarh (Bihar), Nagesha near Dwaraka in Gujarat, Rameswara in Tamilnadu, and Ghrishneswar near Ellora Caves in Aurangabad in Maharashtra]

Somnath:
Prajapati Daksha married away twenty seven of his daughters to Chandra Deva (Moon) but Chandra had great infatuation for Rohini to the neglect of other wives. Daksha warned Chandra about this but to avail. Finally Daksha cursed Chandra who appealed to Lord Brahma, and in turn asked to perform Tapasya to Bhagavan Siva. Chandra observed penance at Prabhasa on the banks of River Sarasvati. On His appearance Lord Siva sorted out the problem with a compromise that the first bright fortnight of a month (Sukla Paksha) Moon would wax and the ‘Krishna Paksha’Moon would wane. He also blessed Moon to be near Him and Parvati always. Being a ‘Sparsha’(Touch) Jyotirlinga-Somachandra- stated to be the first in the series, it  would remove away all physical ailments particularly tuberculosis and leprosy and bathing in the Water body ‘Chandra kund’ washes off all the sins committed by human beings. Known as Prabhat Kshetra [near Veraval in Kathiawad District of Saurashtra in Gujarat], Lord Krishna is believed to have performed his Leelas (Miracle Acts). [An ever burning light in a cave of the Temple is witnessed till date]
Srisailam:
Stated to be the Second in the Series of Jyotirlingas on the Sri Parvat ( in Andhra Pradesh, some 230 Km. from Hyderabad) on the banks of River Krishna, Lord Siva’s manifestation as Mallikarjuna along His Spouse Devi Bhramaramba is famed mythologically as the place of penance when Kartikeya was unhappy and felt cheated as Ganesha was wedded earlier despite the Agreement that whoever arrived first after full ‘Bhu Pradakshina’ (circumambulation of the World) would win, but Ganesha took advantage of a Provision of the Scriptures and performed a ‘Pradakshina’ of his parents and attained the advantage of the Pradakshina. Siva and Parvati visited the Krouncha Mountain to pacify Kartikeya but to no avail and thus moved over to the Mountain from Kailasa.As Vrishabha Deva –Siva Parvati’s Carrier-did Tapasya to the Maha Devas, they appeared as Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba at this Holy Spot. Lord Rama is said to have installed a Sahasralinga and Pandavas set up Pancha Pandava Lingas in the Temple surroundings. In a tiny hole inside the temple of Devi Bhramaramba, one could still hear the buzz of bees as the Devi assumed the form of bees all over Her Body and killed Mahishasura. Adi Shankara is reputed to have scripted his well known Work named ‘Sivananda Lahari’ at this Temple.
Ujjain:
The only ‘Svayambhu’ (Self-born) Jyothirlinga of Lord Siva in the form of Mahakal originating ‘Mantra Shakti’ (Power of Mantras) from within is indeed a unique specimen among all the Jyotir- Lingas on the banks of River Kshipra. This is the only Temple of various Jyotirlingas maintained on Tantrik Principles.  While Mahakaleswar faces south as a Dakshina murthi, the Idols of Ganesh, Parvati, Kartikeya and Nandi are installed on West, North, East and South respectively. Shree Yantra is perched upside down at the Ceiling of Garbha Griha where the Main Linga is situated. The Temple has five levels including an underground and on the third level is installed the idol of Nagchandreswar open for public view only on Nag Panchami days. Experience at the time of very early morning ‘Bhasmabhishekhas’or the spread of ash along with the loud chanting of Mantras  of the Deity and with the thrilling and reverberating  sounds of various percussion and bronze gong instruments takes one to devotional ecstasy. [It is stated that the Bhasmabhishekas are performed by using the ashes of the first dead bodies of the previous day, sanctified by Mantras from the holy waters of River Kshipra. Ladies are not allowed to enter the Sanctum at the time of the Bhasmabhishekas although they could witness the proceedings on Close Circuit TVs.]The mythological background of the Temple was that there was a pious Brahmana well versed in Vedas and Scriptures had four learned sons named Devapriya, Priyamedha, Survita and Suvrata. A demon named Dushana lived nearby on a hill Ratnamala who could not tolerate the very concept of Vedas and its applications and particularly hated the Brahmana brothers. One day the Demon decided to destroy the brothers who were unfazed and continued their worship of Maha Siva. As the Demon and his cruel followers were about kill the brothers there was such a ‘Hunkar’or roaring sound of Mahakal which itself took away the breath of the entire band of Danavas headed by Dushan instantly. The Brahmana brothers prayed to the Lord who appeared on the spot and implored  His manifestation of ‘Mahakala’ to stay put for the greatest benefit of posterity and conducted daily worship from generation to generation.[ Ujjain, the erstwhile Capital of Avanti, had considerable importance of India’s ancient history ruled in the past by Mauryas and Guptas. Memories of King Vikramaditya still linger in the City till date.His Nine Gems of Poets especially Kalidasa who scripted famed Works like Megha Sandesam, Abhijnana Shakuntalam and so on, the other Gems being Dhanvantari, Kshapanaka, Amarasimha, Sankhu, Vetala Bhatta, Ghatakopara, Varahamihira and Vara Ruchi. Bhartruhari the step brother of King Vikramaditya became an ascetic and the Caves of Bhartruhari are on the tourist map of the City as many believe that a person entering the maze of the Caves seldom returns! Kalbharava Temple too is an interesing feature; as much of liquor poured as Naivedya (offerings) in the Deity’s throat (in the form of a Dog), half of it is returned as ‘Prasad’!  Ujjain is one of the Seven ‘Mukti Sthalas’ (Salvation Places) of India, besides Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchipuram and Dwaraka.]
Omkareswar:
Situated in the banks of River Narmada on the Mandhata (Shivapuri) Island formed in the shape of OM in Sanskrit, Omkareswar is one of the Jyotirlingas besides another Amareswar Linga. The Legend was that Sage Narada visited Vindhya Raja and the latter bragged that Vindya was the highest and most powerful Mountain in the entire World. Narada replied that perhaps Meru was the greatest in terms of height and might. Vindhya Raja felt jealous and executed severe ‘Tapasya’ and pleased Maha Siva and requested that He should always be present in the Vindhyas and establish a Linga of Bhagavan on the banks of Narmada near to Vindhya. Hence the Omkara Jyotirlinga there. Puffed by Siva’s presence there, Vindhya Raja grew taller and taller to compete with Sumeru. This obstructed Sun God’s routine circumambulation of the Universe and He had to return half way turning half of the Universe dark. Bhagavati asked Sage Agastya from Kasi to visit Vindhya Raja who out of veneration bent down to touch the feet of Agastya who asked Vindhya to be in that position till he returned and he never came again from the South
Kedareshwara:
Flanked by breath taking views of snow-clad peaks of Himalayas at a height of 3585 m from Sea level on the banks of River Mandakini, Kedareswar is the highest point where Maha Deva’s presence is indeed felt in the manifestation of a famed Kedareswara Jyotir Linga as spread out as a fairly large expanse of black stone with an inclined elevation in the middle portion. Being inaccessible excepting by a difficult 14km trek by foot, or horse back or ‘dolis’( palanquins) carried by two or four humans from Gaurikund, the Temple is open only during end April through November since residents, let alone pilgrims, have little access to the Mountain Top Temple during heavy snowfall in the intervening period. [A helicopter service is available now from Agastya Muni to Phata to reach Kedarnath]. The incarnations of Lord Vishnu in the form of two Sages Nara and Narayana meditated to Bhagavan Siva for several years and as the latter appeared and said that the incarnations of Vishnu Himself executed the penance without any basic reason excepting the welfare of humanity and thus agreed to manifest Himself as a Jyotir Linga at that hallowed place. Nara and Narayana are believed to have assumed their forms as hallowed mountains nearby. According to Puranas, Pandavas performed penance at the Temple and even in the opening Hall of the Temple at the entrance of the Sanctum, there are idols of Pandavas, Lord Krishna, Nandi and Veerabhadra. The belief is that Pandavas were chasing a Bull- Lord Siva Himself- and Bhima continued the chase to subdue the animal by holdindg its tail and the Pandavas attained Salvation finally from the Temple surroundings. It is also believed that Adi Shankara attained His Salvation from this Place and there is a ‘Samadhi’ of His behind the Temple. A distinct feature at the entrance gate of the Temple is the head of a man carved in a triagular stone as facia and a similar triangular facia is displayed in another Temple where Siva-Parvati wedding was fabled to have taken place. ‘Udakmand’ is mentioned in Siva Purana as a union of Seven Seas and its water is everfresh. In fact the Homa Kund of the Wedding is also visioned alive. On way to Kedar a number of Pigrimage Centers dot the route including Agastyamuni, Ukhimath, Phali-Pasalat Devi, Kalimath, and Triguni Narayan not far from Sonprayag
Bhima Shankar:
Located some 110 km from Pune in Maharashtra State in the Ghat region of Sahyadri Hills near the head of Bhima River which merges with Krishna River too, the fifth Jyotirlinga Bhima Shankar is the appearance Maha Siva who exterminated Demon Bhima, son of Kumbhakarna (Ravan’s brother). Demon Bhima on knowing from his mother Kartaki wanted to avenge the death of his father by Lord Rama, who was Maha Vishnu’s incarnation and performed penance to Lord Brahma to receive boons to conquer even mighty opponents. He defeated Indra and Devas and what provoked Lord Siva most was the tormenting of a great Siva Bhakta King Kamarupeshwara insisting that the latter should pray to himself rather than Siva Linga. As the Demon was about to destroy the Sivalinga by his sword, Lord Siva appeared and destroyed the Demon and His mighty anger caused sweat which flowed as River Bhima. The Jyotirlinga thus manifested is a powerful representation of ‘Ardhanariswara’ in the Temple provides proof of instant fulfillment of all desires thus attracting thousands of devotees, especially on all Mondays and definitely on Sivaratri festivals. As in certain other cases like at Ujjain, the Swayambhu Jyotirlinga is set at a level lower than the normal Ground; also there is a speciality here that there is a constant flow of water from the Linga! The Bhima Shankar Temple is also associated with the killing of Demon brothers Tripurasuras along with Devi Parvati in Her manifestation as Kamalaja whose temple is also nearby the main Temple. Devi Kamalaja was worshipped by Brahma and hence She was called so. Sakini and Dakini were among those whose contribution was significant in the battle against Tripurasuras and their worship too is performed at the Temple. ‘Mokshakund Tirtha’, the Holy Waterbody adjacent the Bhimashankar Temple is associated with Sage Kausika. [Maratha Rulers especially Nana Phadnavis who built the Temple ‘Sikhara’ and Sivaji who made donations to its maintenance were intensely associated with the progress of this illustrious Temple].
While the above version of the location of Bhimashankar is  convincing, Siva Purana which is relevant in the context of  the current source states in Rudra Samhita: ‘Dakininam Bhimashankara’ while outlining the broad references of the Dwadasa Jyotirlingas; more clearly the Koti Rudra Samhita states: Bhimashankara sanjnaastu Shashtha Shambho Maha Prabho/ Avataro Maha leeloBhimasuravinashanah/ Sudakshinabhida Bhaktam Kamarupeshwaram vrisham / yoraraakshasadbhutam hatvasaram tha bhakta duhkhadam/Bhimashankara naamaa sa daakinyam samsthitaha swayam/ Jyotirlinga Siva rupena prarthesena Sankarah/  The sixth incarnation of Shambu and His ‘Leela’( miracle) was the  killing of  Bhimasura and saving of  King Sudakshina of Kamarup whose grateful prayers resulted in the manifestation of Siva at Dakini. The belief is the Bhimashankar Temple at Bhimapur Hill near Guwahati in Assam is the one where the King Sudakshina was saved and the Jyotirlinga was consecrated. Sivaratris are celebrated with pomp and Show in this Temple.
Yet another version relates that the Temple of Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga at Kashipur near Nainital which was noted as a Dakini Country in the past is the one where the Jyotirlinga appeared. The legend in the Region was that Bhima of Pandava brothers married a Dakini woman named Hidimba and that Lord Siva appeared in that Place as a Swayambhu Jyotirlinga in that Temple area.In this Temple too, there are Idols of Bhairavanath and Devi Bhagavati as also a Temple Tank, called Sivaganga. Siva Ratri Jagarans and Worship are observed with religious fervour and devotion in this Temple too.



Varanasi:
Famed as the Place of Devas that was founded by Bhagavan Siva Himself, some five thousand years ago, Kasi has a hoary legend with age-old reputation worldwide. Varun and Ganga and also Ganga and Assi, flowing in different directions, confluence in ‘Varana-Assi’ or Varanasi.  Euologised in several Scriptures like Rig Veda, Puranas and Epics, Varanasi was the Capital of Kasi King three thousand years ago and was reputed even by then as the capital of Religion, Education and Arts. The City covers some five kilometers of the Holy and Everflowing Ganges on its banks attracting lakhs of Pilgrims every year as the Ultimate Destination of Salvation for Hindus of all faiths and several other religions especially Buddhists and Jains. This is the Sacred Spot that Bhagavan Visveswara manifested as Avimukta Jyotir Linga in the renowned Golden Visveswara Temple. It is stated that Lord Brahma executed such severe Tapasya ( meditation) here so much that Maha Vishnu moved His head across fast in disbelief and the latter’s ear ring fell at a place on the bank of the River and was since then named ‘Manikarnika’. When Brahma was once chanting Vedas in praise of Siva in the form of the Jyoti Linga with the former’s ‘Panchamukhas’ or Five Heads, some pronounciation slips rolled by and becoming furious of the chanting mistakes which changed the sense of the words, Lord Siva opened the third eye and burnt one of Brahma’s heads which fell and found a permanent place in the Temple. Viswanath Temple is also considered as a ‘Shakti Peetha’ and it is believed that Devi Sati’s ear-rings fell at the spot where Devi Visalakshi’s shrine stands. Durga Temple, nick-named as Monkey Temple owing to large presence of monkeys, is considred as a shrine built originally by Durga Herself and during ‘Navarathras’ of Dussera festival comes fully alive and heavily crowded by devotees. Sankata Vimochana Hanuman Temple is frequently visited, especially on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The Shrine of Annapoorni is stated as the place where Devi Annapurna Herself distributed ‘Anna’ (Rice and so on) to devotees when there was a famine and Lord Siva Himself asked for ‘Anna’ in the disguise of a Beggar! There is a Neelakantha Temple with Deities of Vishnu, Avikuntha Vinayaka, Virupakshi Gauri, Saniswara and clusters of Five-some Lingas. A separate shrine dedicated to Kala Bhairava is present too in the courtyard. On the five km long banks of Ganga are situated hundreds of ‘Ghats’ or areas specified for many purposes like Sacrifices or Yagnas and Homams, some for bathing, or some even owned privately. For eg.  ‘Dasasvamedha’ Ghat where Brahma performed Yagnas and even now Brahmanas perform Agni Sthomas, Homas to please Devas and so on; ‘Manikarnika Ghat’ where Brahama executing penance and Vishnu’s earrings were lost at the disbelief of the former’s strengh to do it so seriously and shook His earrings fast and lost these while Devi Parvati pretended that Her earrings were lost so that Siva would stay back to search the lost earrings forever and thus tie Him up to Kasi and such other beliefs. Besides the Manikarnika Ghat, where dead bodies are brought for the favour of cremation to attain mukti (salvation), there is the Harischandra Ghat where the Illustrious King Harischandra was posted as a slave and cremated dead bodies with the same belief of attaining salvation. It is common knowledge that the King stood for truthfulness and endured the most severe tests of life of selling off his family and Son, became a life-long slave and finally attained Salvation.There are many other Ghats like ‘Man Mandir Ghat’ near Someswara Linga Temple, Lalitha Ghat nearby Pasupatinath Temple, Tulasi Ghat where Tulsidas scripted Ramayana and so on. Ranging from Kings and Queens, Foreign Plunderers, Great Saints , modern Educationists, Artistes, Disbelievers, Non Hindu Followers, and even modern Pandas-anybody be named and be found- are all attracted to this Memorable City for their reasons of Salvation, Religion, wordly fulfilments, mischief or mere curiosity: but Maha Deva Blesses them all whatever may be the motive!
Tryambakeswara:
Located thirty kilometers away frim Nasik in Maharashtra, the renowned Jyotirlinga of  Lord Siva’s materialization called Tryambakeswar attracts thousands of Pilgrims round the year providing boons of material and spiritual nature.The ‘Punyakshetra’ or the Hallowed Land is the source point of  the Holy River Godavari  basically owing to the Bhagiradh-like efforts of Sage Gautama and his highly pious wife Ahalya. By virtue of the Sage’s penance and prayers, Lord Varuna was pleased to supply water and food grains in abundance but this boon turned out as a basis of jealousy of co-Sages and their spouses who created a cow to plunder the grains. Sage Gautama destroyed the cow, but as a result of a sin in killing the cow, the Sage-couple was banished to a hermitage on the mountain of Brahmagiri. Gautama Muni made relentless ‘Tapasya’ to Bhagavan Siva who endowed Gautama with the double desires of bringing River Ganga near his hermitage and also stay on its banks along with Bhagavati in the form of a Jyotirlinga.
Lord Siva granted both the wishes that Ganga was brought near Gautama’s hermitage as River Godavari and His manifestation as Tryambakeswara Jyotirlinga in the vicinity of the River Godavari / Gautami. In parallel to this, another legend related to the formation of a Jyotirlinga at Brahmagiri was the interface of Lords Brahma and Vishnu vis-à-vis an appearance of a Fire Column whose height and depth could not be ascertained by both of them; Brahma’s cover-up story was that he found out the height of the Column and cited a Ketaki flower as a witness. Bhagavan Siva gave a curse to Brahma that there would not be worship of the former and Brahma gave a return curse that Lord Siva would be pushed underground. Hence the manifesation of Tryambakeswara under the Brahmagiri. The Jyotirlinga is of a small size in a depression on the floor with water oozing out constantly from the top. The force of waves of the River appears to be as per the intensity of the prayers of Sage Gautama according to the conviction of devotees in the Temple! Major Tirthas (Tanks) in the Temple are named Gangadwara representing the source of Ganga (Godavari), Varaha Tirtha where Lord Vishnu had a bath in the River in Varaha Rupa
( appearance as Boar) and Kushvartha Tirtha considered as the most significant as Sage Gauthama spread across Kusha or Darbha Grass while securing the waters of Ganga. There are also other Tirthas like Gangasagara, Bilva Tirtha, Indra Tirtha, Vishwanath Tirtha, Mukund Tirtha, Prayag Tirtha, Rama Kund, Lakshmana Kund and so on. Among the Shrines are Kedarnath, Rameshwar, Gauthameshwar, Kasi Viswanatha, Jareswar, Kanchaneswar, Tribhuneswar, Venkateshwar, and Hanuman. There are daily worships at the Main Temple thrice and the nightly ‘arthies’ are special. On Mondays there are special ‘abhishekas’ and ‘arthies’ as also ‘Parikramas’. Kartika month worships are important, especially Kartika Purnima. Gangavatarana is celebrated in the month of Magha. Simhasta Parvani is held once in twelve years.





 




Om Tat Sat

(Continued)



(My humble salutations to  the lotus feet of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Mahaswamy ji and also my humble greatulness to  Brahmasree Sreeman V D N Rao ji  for the collection)

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