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Archive for May, 2012

Lord Vishnu – Dashavatharam (Part – VI)

9) Lord Buddha

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With the departure of Lord Krishna, the Kali yuga set in. In this age, the true devotion to Vedas was replaced by empty rituals. To enlighten the world, Lord Vishnu descended to Earth as Lord Buddha, the enlightened one.

Lord Buddha was born as the crown prince of the Kapilavastu to King  Suddhodana and Queen Maya. He was named Siddhartha, meaning “All thing fulfilled”. On his birth the wise men made predictions - “O King,” they said, “the signs of the Prince’s birth are most favourable. Your son will grow up to be even greater than you are now!”

Later an old sage named Asita, who lived by himself in the distant forests visited the palace to see the new born. The King and Queen were Surprised that Asita would leave his forest home and appear at their palace. The king was very happy and excited, he brought the baby to sage Asita. For a long time the holy man gazed at the infant and then said – “Oh dear king, If your son decides to stay with you and become a king, he will be the greatest king in history. He rule a vast realm and bring his people much peace and happiness. But if he decides not to become a king, his future will be even greater! He will become a great teacher, showing all people how to live with peace and love in their hearts. Seeing the sadness in the world he will leave your palace and discover a way to end all suffering. Then he will teach this way to whoever will listen.”

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Siddhartha was destined to lead a luxurious life as a prince and had three palaces, for three different seasonal occupations, especially built for him. King Suddhodana’s wish for Siddhartha was to become a great king and so he shielded him from religious teachings or any knowledge
of human suffering. When he was seven, the Prince began to receive scholarly instruction from the Institute of Vissavamitr, which was the best education a Prince could receive. But on the seventh day of his study he had graduated and become an expert in all forms of knowledge.

When the Prince reached the age of sixteen, the King arranged his marriage to Princess Yasodhara.

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Although she was beautiful and he himself was continually surrounded by beautiful female servants and slaves,Prince Siddhartha was not satisfied simply with this beauty and felt that there was more to a person’s life than wealth and beauty. He looked around his palace and he found nothing to satisfy his quest to seek out the answers to his questions. One day he was traveling out of the palace walls with his charioteer, Channa. In the city, he found living beings: a new born child, a diseased man, an old and decaying corpse, and finally an ascetic.

On that day, after returning to his palace, his son, Prince Rahula, was born. Siddhartha felt that he, his wife, his new born son, and all people would be living under the same cycle of beings that he had seen that day. He considered his own predicament, thought about his talents and potential, and became determined to set himself, and all others around the world, free from this cycle of suffering. He, alone, would find the answer.

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At the age of 29, Siddhartha escaped from his palace, accompanied by Channa, aboard his horse Kanthaka. He left his royal life to become a mendicant. It is stated in the scriptures that, “…the horse’s hooves were muffled by the angels in order to prevent guards from knowing that the Bodhisattva had departed.” Before his departure, however, Mara (evil) appeared to him to try and stop him from leaving, to which Siddhartha replied – “You are a wicked tempter. I will cross endless oceans to pursue my path. I will cross countless pits of fire regardless of their size. Neither great evil nor great goodness (wealth) will prohibit me from going.”

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Siddhartha left Kapilavastu that night and on the banks of the Anoma River cut his hair and took on the life of an ascetic. Siddhartha then practiced a way of liberation under the institutes of two hermit teachers – Alara Kalama and Udaka Ramaputta, but, although he achieved higher levels of meditative consciousness, he was still not satisfied with his path. And, so, he moved on.

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Siddhartha then went on to Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha, and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the streets. In Rajagaha, Siddhartha joined five companions headed by Kondanna who was the Brahmin who had stated that Siddhartha would become a great holy man but not a King. They tried to find enlightenment through near total deprivation of worldly goods – including food and practicing self‐mortification. After nearly starving himself to death by restricting his food he began to look like a skeleton.

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One day he collapsed in a river while bathing and almost drowned, it was at this point that he began to reconsider his path. As he lay there, a boat passed him and he overheard the conversation that two musicians were having aboard – “If you tighten the string too tight it will snap, but if you loosen it, it will not play.” And from this, he realized that he would have to take “Middle Way” to reach enlightenment. True enlightenment could not be reached by going to either extreme.

After many days, Siddhartha started to have some food as it was needed by his body. On that day after having a nice bath in the Neranjara River, his body was as bright as the full moon. Beside him stood a village woman name Sujata who was thinking of fulfilling a vow of having a son and she had a golden tray of rice porridge in her hands. After six years of asceticism and concentrating on mortification, the great ascetic, Siddhartha, had discovered the path of adequacy – a path of moderation away from the extremes of self‐indulgence and self‐mortification. He accepted the rice porridge tray from Sujata who tried to give him food all these six years. After this meal, his mind was free and fresh – nothing is this world was a worry to him. He turned to the golden tray and placed the tray into the tide of Neranjara and made a wish that if he could become enlightened, the tray would float upstream. The tray floated upstream and sunk, right to the bottom of the river where the other three trays from the three previous Buddha’s had also made their wish. Naga, the big serpent, was wakened from the sound of its splash, and said “Goodness, one more Buddha has come for enlightenment”.

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Siddhartha turned to sit under a papal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree, and vowed to sit under the tree until either one of two things happened: his body would be decayed, dried or left only to tendons like a skeleton, or he would arise as an enlightened being having found the Truth.

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He attained complete enlightenment on the sixth lunar month on the same day as his birth, at the age of 35. From that day on, he was known as “The Buddha”, “The Awakened One”, or “The Enlightened One”.

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For the remaining years of his life, Lord Buddha is said to have travelled all of the regions in and around India – Bangladesh, Bihar, Pakistan, and Nepal – to teach his doctrine and discipline to extremely diverse groups of people; from nobles to outcast street sweepers, from mass murderers such as Angulimala to cannibal ogres such as Alavaka. He also reached out to teach many adherents of rival philosophies and religions. Lord Buddha founded the community of Buddhist monks and female monks to continue the dissemination of the Dhamma to the millions of people who lived in this area even after his Parinirvana or “Complete Nirvana”. His religion was opened to all races and classes, and it contained no caste structure.

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At his death, Lord Buddha told his disciples to follow no leader, but to follow his teachings.

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I do not see any harm in the whole world.
Hence, I do sleep
With compassion for all living beings”.

- Lord Buddha

Lord Vishnu – Dashavatharam (Part – V)

8) Lord Krishna

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“Jai Shri Krishna”
“जय श्री कृष्णा”

Lord Krishna was born during turbulent times in Mathura. Kansa, son of Ugrasena, audaciously disbanded the Yadava ruling council and declared himself dictator of Mathura with the support of his father-in-law, Jarasandha, the powerful king of Magadha. All those who protested were either killed or imprisoned.

Kansa’s younger sister, Devaki had married Vasudeva. On the wedding day, oracles foretold that the eighth child born of this union would be the killer of Kansa. A terrified Kansa wanted to kill his sister, but was persuaded to let her live on condition that Vasudeva would present to him their eighth child as soon as it was born.

When Devaki bore her first child, Kansa became nervous. He stormed into her chambers, grabbed her firstborn by ankles and smashed its head against the stony floor. And so it came to pass, Devaki kept producing children and Kansa kept killing them as soon as they were born.

Thus were killed six children of Devaki and Vasudeva. The Rishis revealed – “Your children suffer the pain of dying at birth because in their past life they angered sages with their misbehaviour. And you suffer the pain of watching them die because in your past you angered sages by stealing cows for your yagna. All suffering has its roots in karma. But fear not, the seventh and eighth child will bring you joy. The seventh will be the herald of God. The eighth will be God himself.”

When Devaki conceived the seventh child. A goddess called Yogamaya magically transported the unborn child into the womb of Vasudeva’s other wife Rohini, who lived with her brother Nanda in the village of cowherds, Gokul, across the river Yamuna. The child thus conceived was Balarama, fair as the moon, strong as a herd of elephants. He was an incarnation of Adi-Ananta-Shesha, the serpent with thousand hoods in whose coils rests Lord Vishnu.

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When Lord Vishnu plucked a dark hair from his chest and placed it in Devaki’s womb, thus was conceived her eighth child. He slipped out of his mother’s womb nine months later on a dark and stormy night. He was as dark as the darkest night and as charming as the sun is to a lotus flower.

Yoagamaya caused the whole city to sleep and advised Vasudeva to place the child in a basket and take it out of the city, across the river, to Gokul.

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At Gokul, in the cattle sheds, he found Yashoda (Nanda’s wife), sleeping with a newborn girl beside her. Instructed by Yogamaya, Vasudeva exchanged the babies and returned to Mathura.

The Next day, Kansa strode into Devaki’s chamber and picked up the eighth child with an intent of dashing her head to the ground. But the child slipped out of his hands, flew into the sky, and transformed into a splendid goddess with eight arms, each bearing magnificent weapons and announced that the killer of Kansa was still alive and that Kansa would die as foretold.

Lord Krishna meanwhile grew up among gopas (Cowherds) and gopis (Milkmaids) of Gokul. The arrival of Lord Krishna changed everything in Gokul. His life, right from his birth, was an adventure.

Kansa sent Putana, a wet-nurse who had poison in her breasts, to kill all the newborns around Mathura. But when Lord Krishna sucked on her breasts, he sucked out not only the poison but also Putana’s life.

Such incidents with the demons so frightened Yashoda that she insisted that the entire village move from Gokul to a more auspicious place on the banks of river Yamuna, next to Tulsi plants, at the base of the Govardhan hill. It came to be known as Vrindavan.

Here Lord krishna grew up with a fondness for butter. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than raiding the dairies of milkmaids and stealing all that had been churned ans stored in pots hanging from the rafters.

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As Lord Krishna grew he opposed the blind rituals of the Rishis; he preferred acts of charity and devotion. Every year. Kansa performed a great yagna where ghee was poured into fire to please Indra, the rain God. Lord Krishna opposed this practice. When the villagers decided not to send ghee from the village  for the yagna, Indra got angry and caused torrential rain to fall flooding the village.

It was then that Lord Krishna picked up the Govardhan mountain with his little finger and raised it, turning it into a giant parasol that protected the whole village from the downpour. It was enough to tell Indra that Lord Krishna was no ordinary man, he was God on Earth.

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Every night, outside the village, in forest, on the banks of Yamuna, in a meadow known as Madhuvan that was full of fragrant flowers, Lord Krishna would stand and play the flute. All the milkmaids would leave their homes while the rest of the family slept, and come to this meadow to dance around Lord Krishna. This was their special pleasure.

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This wonderful relationship of Lord Krishna with the milkmaids came to an end when Kansa sent a chariot to Vrindavan ordering Lord Krishna to come to Mathura and participate in a wrestling competition. Balarama accompanied him.

No sooner Lord Krishna entered the city of Mathura and won the hearts of the Yadavas with his strength and beauty. Fearlessly, Lord Krishna killed Kansa’s washerman who had showered abuse on him. He then broke the royal bow on display and subdued the royal elephant who tried to block his path to the arena. Lord Krishna and Balarama then defeated all the wrestlers of Mathura. The audience cheered the two making Kansa angrier than ever. Kansa ordered that Lord Krishna and all those who had cheered him be killed. In response, Lord Krishna pounced on Kansa and smote him to death.

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Having killed Kansa, Lord Krishna was hailed as the liberator of the Yadavas. His true identity as the son of Vasudeva and Devaki was revealed. He was recognized as a Kshatriya, a decendant of Yadu.

“Jai Shri Krishna”
“जय श्री कृष्णा”

Lord Vishnu – Dashavatharam (Part – IV)

7) Lord Rama

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JAI SHRI RAM”
”जय श्रीराम”

Lord Brahma came out of Lord Vishnu’s navel. Lord Brahma’s son was Marichi, Marichi’s son Kashyapa, Kashyapa’s son Surya, Surya’s son Vaivasvata Manu, Manu’s son Ikshvaku, Ikskhvakku’s son Kakutstha, Kakutstha’s son Raghu, Raghu’s son Aja, Aja’s son Dasharatha, Dasharatha’s sons were Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Since Lord Rama was descended from Kakutstha and Raghu, he was also called Kakutstha and Raghava. Since his father’s name was Dasharatha, he was also called Dasharathi. Lord Rama’s story belongs to the solar line (surya vansha), since one of his ancestors was Surya. Lord Vishnu himself wished to destroy Ravana and the other rakshasas (demons). He therefore divided himself into four parts and was born as Rama, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Rama was Koushalya’s son, Bharata was Kaikeyi’s, Lakshmana and Shartrughna were the sons of Sumitra.

Once, sage Vishvamitra came to Dasharatha and pleaded for Rama’s help in defeating the rakshasas who were disturbing his yajanas. Lord Rama killed these demons and Vishvamitra was so pleased that he taught Rama the use of all divine weapons. Rama broke a bow of Lord Shiva that had been in the possession of the king of Mithila, Janaka. This was the task that had been appointed for marrying Sita, Janaka’s daughter. Lord Rama married Sita, Lakshmana married Urmila, Bharata married Mandavi and Shatrughna married Shrutakirti.

As Lord Rama was the eldest of four sons and was to become king when his father retired from ruling. His stepmother Kaikeyi, however, wanted to see her son Bharata, become king. Remembering that the king had once promised to grant her any two wishes she desired, she demanded that Rama be banished to forest for fourteen years and Bharata be crowned as the king. The king had to keep his word to his wife and ordered Lord Rama’s banishment. Rama accepted the decree unquestioningly. “I gladly obey father’s command,” he said to his stepmother.

When Sita, heard that Lord Rama was to be banished, she begged to accompany him to his forest retreat. “As shadow to substance, so wife to husband,” she reminded Lord Rama. “Is not the wife’s dharma to be at her husband’s side? Let me walk ahead of you so that I may smooth the path for your feet,” she pleaded. Lord Rama agreed, and Rama, Sita and his brother Lakshmana all went to the forest.

When Bharata learned what his mother had done, he sought Lord Rama in the forest. “The eldest must rule,” he reminded Lord Rama. “Please come back and claim your rightful place as king.” Lord Rama refused to go against his father’s command, so Bharata took his brother’s sandals and said, “I shall place these sandals on the throne as symbols of your authority. I shall rule only as regent in your place, and each day I shall put my offerings at the feet of my Lord. When the fourteen years of banishment are over, I shall joyously return the kingdom to you.” Lord Rama was very impressed with Bharata’s selflessness. As Bharata left, Rama said to him, “I should have known that you would renounce gladly what most men work lifetimes to learn to give up.”

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Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Sita lived in Dandaka forest. This forest was on the banks of the river Godavari and there was a beautiful grove inside the forest known as Panchavati. They built a hut there and resolved to live there.

One day a rakshasa princess named Shrupnakha tries to seduce Lord Rama, but Lakshmana wounded her and drived her away. She returns to her brother Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Lanka, and tells her brother about Lord Rama and Sita. Ravana asked demon Maricha to adopt the form of a golden deer and roam in front of Lord Rama’s hut. Sita was so charmed by the deer that she asked Lord Rama to capture it for her. Lord Rama took long time in returning,so Lakshmana went to look for him. Taking advantage of Lord Rama and Lakshmana’s absence, Ravana kidnapped Sita. Jatayu (King of the birds), did try to stop Ravana, but he met his death at Ravana’s hand.

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Lord Rama was broken-hearted when he returns to the empty hut and cannot find Sita. In search of Sita, soon Ram and Laxman reached the foothills of Rishyamuk mountains. Here the king Sugreev of the monkey clan was staying with his ministers and friends. One of them was the mighty Lord Hanuman (Rudra Avatar, Incarnation of Lord Shiva), the noblest devotee of Lord Rama.

On seeing the two foreigners coming to the mountain, Sugreeva asked Lord Hanuman to see with what intentions these two had come to Kishkindha.

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Accordingly, Lord Hanuman came down as a Brahmin priest, and inquired, “O noble ones, who are you and what brings you here? It seems you are warriors but you have taken to life of sanyasins. Why is it so? O delicate ones of royal origin, your feet are having blisters due to this rough terrain. Please tell me about yourselves.”

Lord Rama answered, “O Noble Monkey, we are the princes from Ayodhya. My name is Rama and he is my brother Laxmana. As it happens, Ravana has kidnapped my wife Sita and we are moving in search of her. And by the way who are you, who speaks to us with such devotion and love?”

No sooner did Lord Rama speak thus, and then Lord Hanuman realized that he was face to face with his Ishtha — Lord Rama. With tears in his eyes, he prostrated at the lotus feet of Lord Rama and said, “O Lord, you have taken such a long time to come to your devotee that this Hanuman has almost become an ignorant fool not to recognize you. What a foolish question to ask – who are you!”

Lord Rama lifted Lord Hanuman and put him to his chest, patting him on his back. The tears flowed freely from the eyes of Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman.

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With the help of Sugriva, the monkeys were sent off in all the four directions to look for Sita. The monkeys who had gone towards the south learnt that Sita was in Lanka, across the ocean. Only Lord Hanuman could fly as his godfather was Vayudev (God of wind), So he leapt over the ocean and arrived in Lanka. He discovered the lonesome Sita in a grove of ashoka trees, the ashokavatika. Lord Hanuman introduced himself and assured Sita that he would soon be back with Lord Rama. Lord Hanuman caused some general havoc in Lanka and was captured by Meghnaad or Indrajit (Ravana’s son). Ravana ordered that Lord Hanuman’s tail should be set on fire. But Lord Hanuman used his burning tail to set fire to all the houses of Lanka.

He then returned to Lord Rama with the news that Sita had been found. Lord Rama, Lakshmana and the army of monkeys arrived at the shores of the ocean. There they built a bridge with stones over the ocean so that they could cross over into Lanka.

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Then, there was a terrible war in which Lord Rama killed the giant Kumbhakarna (Ravana’s Brother). Lakshmana killed Indrajit. In the end, Lord Rama killed Ravana with a powerful divine weapon, the brahmastra.

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The fourteen years were by now over and Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Sita returned to Ayodhya. There Lord Rama was crowned king and he treated his subjects as his own sons. He punished the wicked and followed the path of dharma. During Lord Rama’s rule there was no shortage of food grains anywhere and the people were righteous. No one died an untimely death. Lord Rama and Sita had two sons named Luv and Kush. Lord Rama went on to rule for eleven thousand years before he died.

JAI SHRI RAM”
”जय श्रीराम”

Lord Vishnu – Dashavatharam (Part – III)

5) Vamana Avatara (Dwarf Incarnation)

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Prahlada’s grandson was Bali Chakravarthi and he was one of the greatest kings. Though he was a demon by birth, he never deviated from the path of Truth and Dharma (religious ethics). His power and strength kept on increasing as he has been following Dharma. With the help and advice of his preceptor, King Bali had conquered all the three worlds, and dethroned Indra from Heaven and occupied Amaravathi, the capital of Indralok.

Indra got scared and went to Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu incarnated as the dwarf Vamana and tricked Bali to grant him as much of his kingdom as he could measure in 3 steps.

With the first step he covered all of Earth. With the second step he covered all the heavens. But there was no place for the third step. Then Vamana questions Bali where he could place his third foot? King Bali realized that he is short of fulfilling his promise given to Vamana. He surrenders completely before the Lord, and bends his head where the third foot could be placed to fulfill his promise, pushing Bali to the underworld.

6) Lord Parashuram

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The Kshatriyas (Warriors) were the second of the four classes. It was their job to wear arms and protect the world and rule. The Brahmans (Sages) were the first of the four classes. It was their job to pray, study the sacred texts and perform religious rites. But the Kshatriyas became very insolent and began to oppress the world and the Brahmans. Lord Vishnu was then born as the son of the sage Jamadagni and his wife Renuka, named Parshuram. Parshu means axe, hence his name literally means Ram-with-the-axe. He received an axe after undertaking a terrible penance to please Lord Shiva, from whom he learned the methods of warfare and other skills. Even though he was born as a Brahmin, he had Kshatriya (warrior) traits in terms of aggression, warfare and valour. Since this was the line of the sage Bhrigu, Parashurama was also called Bhargava. Lord Parashuram’s mission was to protect the Brahmans and teach a lesson to the Kshatriyas. There was a king named Kartavirya who had received all sorts of boons from the sage Dattatreya. With these boons, Kartavirya had a thousand arms; he conquered and ruled over the entire world. One day, Kartavirya went on a hunt to the forest. He was very tired after the hunt and was invited by the sage Jamadagni. He had a kamadhenu cow; which means that the cow produced whatever its owner desired. Jamadagni used the kamadhenu to treat Kartavirya and all his soldiers to a sumptuous feast. Kartavirya was so enamoured of the kamadhenu that he asked the sage to give it to him, but Jamadagni refused. Kartavirya then abducted the cow by force and a war started between Kartavirya and Lord Parashuram. In this war, Lord Parashuram cut off Kartavirya’s head with his axe (parashu) and brought the kamadhenu back to the hermitage. After some time, Lord Parashuram was away when Kartavirya’s sons arrived at the ashram and killed Jamadagni. On the death of his father, Lord Parashuram’s anger was aroused. He killed all the Kshatriyas in the world twenty-one times. On the plains of Kurukshetra, he built five wells which were filled with the blood of Kshatriyas.

He is a Chiranjeevi (Immortal) who fought the advancing ocean back, thus saving the lands of Konkan and Malabar. He has been a Guru to Bhishma, Dronacharya and later also to Karna. He taught Karna the extremely powerful Brahmastra (a celestial weapon).

Lord Parshuram lives on earth even today as he is immortal. The Kalki Purana states that Lord Parshuram will be the martial guru of Sri Kalki, the tenth and final Incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is he who instructs Kalki to perform a long penance onto Shiva to receive celestial weaponry.

Lord Vishnu–Dashavatharam (Part – II)

3) Varaha Avatara (Boar Incarnation)

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Lord Vishnu’s third incarnation was in the form of a boar. Sage Kashyapa and his wife Diti had a son named Hiranyaksha, who became the king of the asuras (Demons). Hiranyaksha’s meditation pleased Lord Brahma and Lord Brahma granted him the boon that he would be invincible in battle. Thus armed, Hiranyaksha went out to fight with the devas (Gods). He comprehensively defeated the gods and conquered heaven. He also defeated Lord Varuna (God of the ocean). Thus, Hiranyaksha became the king of heaven, Earth and the underworld. But he was not particularly fond of the earth and he himself had begun to live in Lord Varuna’s palace under the ocean. So he hurled the earth into the depths of the ocean. Gods went to Lord Vishnu and prayed that something should be done about Hiranyaksha. They wished to be restored to heaven and they wished that Earth should be brought back from the depths of the ocean. In response to these prayers, Lord Vishnu adopted the form of a boar and entered the ocean. Hiranyaksha did not know that this boar was none other than Lord Vishnu. He thought that it was an ordinary boar and attacked it. The two fought for many years. But finally, Hiranyaksha was gored to death by the boar’s tusks. The boar raised the earth up once again with its tusks. Lord Vishnu thus saved the gods and the principles of righteousness or dharma.

4) Narasimha Avatara (Incarnation in the form of half-man and half-lion)

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Hiranyaksha had a brother named Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was furious to  know that his brother has been killed and pledged to kill Lord Vishnu. But this could not be done unless he himself became powerful and invincible. Therefore, he began to pray to Lord Brahma through difficult meditation. Lord Brahma was pleased by his prayers and offered to grant a boon. Hiranyakashipu said – “Please grant me the boon that I may not be killed at night or day, by a man or a beast and that in the sky, the water or Earth.” Lord Brahma granted the desired boon.

He went on to conquer all the three worlds. Hiranyakashipu had a son named Prahlada, he was devoted to Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried to persuade his son but that did not work. He then tried to kill his son, but could not as Lord Vishnu intervened to save Prahlada everytime. Gods had been driven off from heaven by Hiranyakashipu. Gods went and prayed to Lord Vishnu, who promised them that he would find a solution. One day, Hiranyakashipu called Prahlada and asked – “How is it that you escaped each time I tried to kill you?” Prahlada replied – “Because Lord Vishnu saved me, he is everywhere.” “What do you mean everywhere?” retorted Hiranyakashipu. He pointed to a crystal pillar inside the palace and asked – “Is Vishnu inside this pillar as well?”

“Yes,”- replied Prahlada. “Very well, then I am going to kick the pillar,” said Hiranyakashipu. When Hiranyakashipu kicked the pillar, it broke into two. And from inside the pillar, Lord Vishnu emerged in his form of half-man and half-lion. He caught hold of Hiranyakashipu and placed him across his thighs. And with his claws, he tore apart his chest and killed him. Lord Brahma’s boon had been that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed by a man or a beast. But then Narasimha was neither a man nor a beast it was half-man and half beast. It also said that the asura would not be killed in the sky, the water or Earth, but Hiranyakashipu was killed on Lord Vishnu’s thighs. And finally, the boon had promised that Hiranyakashipu would not be killed at night or day. Since the incident took place in the evening, it was not night or day. After Hiranyakashipu died, the gods were restored to their rightful places. Lord Vishnu made Prahlada the king of asuras.

Lord Vishnu – Dashavatharam (Part – I)

Visnu

An avatara is an incarnation, which that a god adopts a human form to be born on earth. The purpose is to destroy evil on earth and establish righteousness. Lord Vishnu is regarded as the preserver of the universe and it is therefore Lord Vishnu’s incarnations that one encounters most often. Lord Vishnu has already had nine such incarnations and the tenth and final incarnation is due in the future. These ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu are :-

1) Matsya Avatara (Fish Incarnation)

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Many years ago, the whole world was destroyed. The destruction in fact extended to all the three lokas (Worlds) of bhuloka (Earth), bhuvarloka (Region between Earth and heaven) and svarloka (Heaven). All there worlds were flooded with water. Vaivasvata Manu(Son of the sun-god) had spent ten thousand years in prayers and tapasya (meditation) in the hermitage varrika, which was on the banks of river Kritamala. Once Manu came to the river to perform his ablutions. He immersed his hands in the water to get some water for his ablutions. When he raised them, he found that there was a small fish swimming in the water in the cup of his hands. Manu was about to throw the fish back into the water then the fish said, “Don’t throw me back. I am scared of alligators and crocodiles and
big fishes. Save me.”

Manu found an earthen pot in which he could keep the fish. But soon the fish,became too big for the pot and Manu had to find a larger vessel in which the fish might be kept. But the fish became too big for this vessel as well and Manu had to transfer the fish to a lake. But the fish grew and grew and became too large for
the lake. So Manu transferred the fish to the ocean. In the ocean, the fish grew until it became gigantic. By now, Manu’s wonder knew no bounds. He said,
“Who are you? You must be the Lord Vishnu, I bow down before you. Tell me, why are you tantalising me in the form of a fish?”

The fish replied, “I have to punish the evil and protect the good. Days from now, the ocean will flood the entire world and all beings will be destroyed. But since you have saved me, I will save you. When the world is flooded, a boat will arrive here. Take the saptarishi’s (seven sages) with that boat. Don’t forget to take the seeds of food grains with you. I will arrive and you will then fasten the boat to my horn with a huge snake.” Saying this, the fish disappeared.

Everything happened as the fish had promised it would. The ocean became turbulent and Manu climbed into the boat. He tied the boat to the huge horn that the fish had. He prayed to the fish and then fish related the Matsya Purana to him. Eventually, when the water receded, the boat was anchored to the topmost peak of the Himalayas and living beings were created once again. An Asura (Demon) named Hayagriva had stolen the sacred texts of the Vedas. In his form of a fish, Lord Vishnu also killed Hayagriva and recovered the Vedas.



2) Kurma Avatara (Turtle Incarnation)

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Many years ago there was a war between the devas (Gods) and the daityas (Demons) and Gods lost this war. They prayed to Lord Vishnu to rescue them from the oppression of the demons. Lord Vishnu told Lord Brahma and the other gods that they should have a temporary truce with the demons. The two sides should get together to churn the ocean. Lord Vishnu would ensure that the gods would benefit more from this churning of the ocean than the demons. The truce was agreed upon and the two sides got ready to churn the ocean. Mountain Mandara was used as a churning rod and great snake Vasuki as the rope for churning. Gods grasped Vasuki’s tail and demons grasped Vasuki’s head. But as the churning began, the mountain Mandara which had no base, started to get immersed in the ocean. Then Lord Vishnu came to the rescue. He adopted the form of a turtle and the peak was balanced on the turtle’s back. As the churning continued, terrible poison named Kalkuta emerged from the depths of the ocean and was swallowed by Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva’s throat became blue from this poison and he is therefore known as Neelkantha (Blue of throat). Goddess Varuni (Goddess of wine) came out next, the gods readily accepted her. She was followed by the Parijata tree, a beautiful tree that came to occupy the pride of place in Lord Indira’s garden. A jewel named koustubha emerged and was accepted by Lord Vishnu as his adornment. Three wonderful animals came out next – the cow Kapila, the horse Ucchaishrava and the elephant Airavata. They were followed by the Apsaras, who became the dancers of heaven. Goddess Lakshmi or Shri came out next and was united with Lord Vishnu. Finally, Dhanvantari (Originator of Ayurveda) emerged with a pot of amrita (the life giving drink) in his hands. Demons led by Jambha gave half of the amrita to gods and departed with the remaining half. But Lord Vishnu quickly adopted the form of a beautiful woman. So beautiful was the woman that the demons were charmed. “Pretty lady,” they said. “ Take the amrita and serve it to us. Marry us.” Lord Vishnu accepted the amrita, but he had no intention of giving it to the demons. He served it to the gods instead. There was only one demon named Rahu who adopted the form of Chandra (Moon god), and succeeded in drinking some of the amrita. Lord Vishnu there upon cut off Rahu’s head with his sword but Rahu had drunk the amrita, so he could not die. He prayed to Lord Vishnu and he granted him a boon that occasionally Rahu would be permitted to swallow up the sun and moon (Solar and Lunar eclipse). Thus, gods defeated the demons and regained heaven.

Lord Shiva Curse Lord Brahma

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Once while travelling around the universe Lord Brahma reached the abode of Lord Vishnu. He saw Lord Vishnu resting on Shesh-Nag and being attended by Garuda and other attendants.

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Lord Vishnu did not get up to receive Lord Brahma. This act of Lord Vishnu got him angry. Very soon, verbal dual erupted between them to determine who is superior. It became so severe that a battle was fought between them, which continued for very long time.

All the deities arrived from heaven to watch the battle. They became very worried when they saw no sign of battle coming to an end. They decided to go to Lord Shiva, to seek his help.

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Even though in meditation Lord Shiva knew everything, but still feigning ignorance, he asked about the well beings of the world. The deities told him about the battle, fought between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Lord Shiva then sent his one hundred Ganas to pacify both of them, but still the war still did not stop.

Then Lord Shiva himself went there. When Lord Shiva reached there, he saw that Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu were about to use their deadly weapons- Brahma Astra and Narayanastra respectively. Fearing the destruction, which these deadly weapons would cause, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of ‘Analstamba’ (pillar of fire) between them. Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu were very surprised to see the pillar of fire, which was so enormous in size that it reached the sky and penetrated down the Earth.

Lord Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and went to the ‘Patal’ (Underworld) to find the base of that ‘Pillar of fire’. But he was unsuccessful in his attempt and came back. Similarly Lord Brahma transformed himself into a swan and flew up in the sky to find its limit. While going through the aerial route he met a withered ‘Ketaki’ flower, which had still some freshness and fragrance left in it. Lord Shiva smiled at the futile attempts of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. As a result of his smile the Ketaki flower fell down from the branch. Ketaki flower told Lord Brahma that he had been present there since the beginning of the creation, but was unable to know about the origin of that ‘Pillar of fire’. The flower also advised Lord Brahma against making any effort in that direction, as it would be of no use. Lord Brahma then sought the help of Ketaki flower to give a false witness before Lord Vishnu, that he (Lord Brahma) had been successful in seeing the limit of that pillar of fire. Ketaki flower agreed. Both of them went to Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma told him that he had seen the limit of that Pillar of fire. Ketaki flower gave a witness. Lord Vishnu accepted the superiority of Lord Brahma

Lord Shiva became very angry with Lord Brahma, but was pleased with Lord Vishnu and accorded him the same status as that of his own. He proceeded to punish Lord Brahma for his falsehood

After according same status to Lord Vishnu as that of his own, Lord Shiva opened his third eye and from it manifested ‘Bhairav’.

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Lord Shiva ordered Bhairav to kill Lord Brahma. Bhairav severed the fifth head of Lord Brahma with his sword. Lord Brahma became very terrified, he was trembling in fear. Lord Vishnu felt pity on his condition and requested Lord Shiva to forgive him. Lord Shiva then stopped Bhairav, but told Lord Brahma - “You spoke untruth with a desire to become worship able. It is my curse that, you will not be worshipped by anybody. You will posses only four heads.” Lord Brahma begged for forgiveness. Lord Shiva feeling pity on him gave him a boon of being the presiding deity of all the yagya (Yajna). Similarly the Ketaki flower was also prohibited from being used during worship. But when Ketaki flower tendered his apology Lord Shiva gave blessing that it would be fortunate to be offered to Lord Vishnu during the worship.

“Har Har Mahadev”

Narada Curse Lord Vishnu–Part II

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As Narada moved on from Lord Vishnu’s adobe, he suddenly saw a beautiful city like he had never seen before. Curiously he entered the city and asked a passerby, “Who is the ruler of this big and charming city?”

“It belongs to the glorious King Sheelanidhi”- replied the passerby.

Hearing that Narada had come to visit him, the king came out to receive him and welcomed him. Just then a beautiful girl came and bowed before Narada. The beauty of the girl took Narada. She was King’s daughter Shrimati. A Swayamvara was being planned for her.

Narada said to the king – “Your daughter is the incarnation of goddess Lakshmi. No less than Hari (Lord Vishnu) in glory and power shall be her husband.”

Narada was so taken by the princess that he wished to make her his wife. Narada prayed fervently to Lord Vishnu. At last when Lord Vishnu appeared before him Narada requested, “Lord let my face resemble Hari’s.”. Lord Vishnu said – “So be it. You shall certainly have the face of the Hari,”

When Narada made his request he had forgotten that the word Hari also meant “A Monkey” and he could not see his own face. Narada reached the court of that King full of confidence sure of his victory. The princess entered the hall of marriage with a flower garland in hand. Narada was sure that the princess would choose him as the companion of life. But to his utter dismay, the princess did not even look twice at his face. As Shrimati passed him Narada could not resist, he stood up and said, “You must be looking for me beautiful one. Here I am.” Rest of the crowd burst into laughter and said, “For you? Monkey face… a very handsome one, no doubt, but still a monkey-face?

Narada was left wondering, “Do I really have the face of a monkey?”

Suddenly Lord Vishnu also appeared in the court and before Narada could ask him why he had got a monkey face the princess put the garland around the neck of Lord Vishnu.

Narada filled with rage, cursed Vishnu proclaiming that Vishnu, during his sojourn on earth, would have to bear the pain of his wife’s forcible separation from him and only a monkey would be able to relieve him of his sufferings.

Later Narada asked – “Why he got monkey’s face! Why?” , to which Lord Vishnu replied, “My dear Narada you are a scholar of Sanskrit. Don’t you know, Hari also means monkey? You didn’t specify which Hari you meant.” Narada asked angrily, “Am I stuck with this face forever?” Vishnu calmly replied, “Narada, calm down, and look around you.”

Narada was dumb struck when he looked around for everything had vanished. Vishnu laughed and replied, “There was no city, no king, no Swayamvara.Your monkey face and all this was an illusory creation of mine to humble your pride; because you thought you were above temptation.”

Narada gratefully prostrated before Vishnu and said, “I am grateful to you, my lord! You have opened my eyes.”

In his next incarnation, that is his seventh incarnation, Lord Vishnu was born as Lord RamChandra and because of this curse Lord Hanuman helped him in Ramayana. Lord Hanuman was a Rudraroop that is incarnation of Lord Shiva.

Narada Curse Lord Vishnu – Part I

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Once Narada practiced severe austerities in the Himalayas. Indra (King of Gods) became suspicious of Narada and decided to tempt him with worldly pleasures to break his penance. With this in mind, Indra asked Kamadeva (God of love) to break Narada’s penance.

Kama came to the spot where Narada was sitting, deep in meditation. As he shot the first arrow the scene suddenly changed into a beautiful valley and a beautiful damsel appeared before Narada. She began to dance before him. But Narada’s eyes where closed to her charms.

She pleaded, “O sage, open your eyes and behold your slave.”

But Narada hardly heard her. Realizing, that she would never succeed in distracting the sage, the damsel left for her heavenly abode. Kamadeva had to acknowledge his defeat. Narada then opened his eyes and asked that who sent him here. “Lord Indra”, replied Kamdeva.

Narada said – “Go and tell Indra that Narada has conquered all desires, that he is above temptation,” 

Narada gloated over his achievement and thought, that he has defeated Kama. So, Lord Shiva is no longer the only conqueror of this invincible god. He must go and tell Lord Shiva about it. He must accept him as his equal.

He went to Kailasa, paid his salutations to Lord Shiva and said, “I have conquered Kamadeva. Indra sent him to tempt me. But Kamadeva failed.”

Lord Shiva replied, “I am glad to know that. But keep the matter to yourself. In any case never brag about it to Lord Vishnu.”

Narada left Kailasa and pondered, he should speak about his success to Lord Vishnu who love him so dearly. He went to Vishnu’s abode and paid his respect to the lord. Vishnu invited the sage warmly and said – “Come Narada! I am so pleased to see you.”

Narada said, “You will be more so my lord, when you learn that I, your devotee, have conquered Kamadeva. Shiva is no longer the only conqueror of Kamadeva. I, your devotee, am above temptation too.”

Vishnu laughed and said, “Is that so? But never cease to be on your guard. You never know…”

Narada left from there and wondered -  “Vishnu didn’t seem to pleased about my achievements either. I am no weakling. Doesn’t he know that? Why should he warn me to be on my guard?”

Incarnation of Goddess Ganga as river Ganga

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King Sagara the ruler of Ayodhya and an ancestor of Lord Rama successfully performed the Ashwamedha Yagya (Horse sacrifice) for 99 times. Each time, he sent the horse around the Earth it returned to the kingdom unchallenged. He decided to perform the Ashvamedha Yagna for the 100th time, that would make him emperor of Earth.

When Indra (King of Gods) saw that happen, he became worried by Sagar’s increasing power. So Indra stole Sagar’s horse before the ritual could be completed and tied it to the tree under which Sage Kapila was meditating.

King Sagar’s courtiers discovered the sacrificial horse had gone missing. The king therefore ordered his 60,000 sons to go find the horse. The arrogant princes went about burning and destroying places in their quest to find the horse. And presently they came to Sage Kapila’s hermitage. They found him in meditation and the horse tied next to him. They mistook the sage to be the abductor and attacked him. Feeling disturbed and insulted, Sage Kapila burned them to ashes with yogic fire that came out of his third eye.

When Ansuman, the last remaining son of King Sagar came to know the fate of his brothers, he asked Sage Kapila how to liberate their souls from the ashes. The Rishi advised Ansuman to please Lord Brahma with penances so that he would release Ganga from his kamandula and bring Ganga to Earth to purify the ashes and liberate his brothers. But,this task was undertaken for many generations.

In the seventh generation of King Sagar, Bhagiratha was born. King Bhagirath left his kingdom and began to mediate for the salvation of the souls of his ancestors. Bhagirath observed a penance to Lord Brahma for a thousand years, requesting Ganga to come down to earth from heaven and wash over his ancestor’s ashes to release them from a curse and allow them to go to heaven. Pleased with the devotion, Lord Brahma granted Bhagirath’s wish but told him to pray to Lord Shiva, so that he would accept to hold the force of Ganga in his hairs, lest she would overwhelm the entire Earth.

Thus Bhagiratha undertook further penances to please Lord Shiva. When Ganga descended from the heavens, Lord Shiva covered the sky with his hair locks, so that not a drop would fall on Earth. When he had fully captured Ganga, Lord Shiva released a small part of Ganga’s force and told her to follow Bhagiratha. This gave Lord Shiva the name of Gangadhar, he who holds the river Ganga.

On origin Ganga flooded the ashram of Saint Janu, he swallowed her as a lesson in respect and only released Ganga out of pity for Bhagiratha. Wherever Ganga would flow in following Bhagiratha, people came in large numbers to bath and obtain purification.

Finally Ganga reached the ashram of Sage Kapila and freed the 60.000 souls from their ashes.

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