Varaha avatar is the third avatar of Lord Vishnu which was manifested as a boar. The Varaha avatar followed the Matsya avatar (first avatar) and the Kurma avatar (second avatar). In the Varaha avatar, Lord Vishnu incarnated as a boar to save the earth (Prithvi) from a deluge by killing the asura Hiranayaksha. There is a greater significance in the Varaha avatar story that is not readily known. The Varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu has two purposes: one to rescue the earth from the deluge so that Lord Brahma could start creation and second to rescue his two greatest devotees: Hiranayaksha and Hiranyakashipu!
Varaha avatar story: The lesser known truth
The lesser known truth in the Varaha avatar story is not known to many people although the story is mentioned in the scriptures. The reason that Lord Vishnu incarnated as the boar was to fulfil his promise and remove the curse on two of his biggest devotees: Jaya and Vijaya. The seeds of Lord Vishnu’s incarnations in various yugas were laid long back to propagate creation.
The cause and effect that determines the world in the four yugas has its beginnings in the story about Jaya and Vijaya.
The Varaha Avatar Story
Jaya and Vijaya were the gatekeepers of Vaikuntha. Jaya and Vijaya once stopped the four kumaras (mistaking them as children) from seeing Lord Vishnu. The four kumaras kept on requesting to meet Lord Vishnu but neither Jaya and Vijaya conceded to their demands.
The kumaras were enraged and cursed the two gatekeepers, “Lord Vishnu belongs to this devotees. Just as you have caused us separation from Lord Vishnu, both of you will also lose your divinity and take birth as mortals on earth, getting separated from Lord Vishnu.”
For Jaya and Vijaya, the thought of separating from Lord Vishnu is unimaginable and they fall at the grace of Vishnu and request him to remove the curse of the kumaras. Vishnu refuses saying that the curse of the kumaras cannot be dishonored but reassures Jaya and Vijaya that he will take birth with them for all their mortal births on earth. Lord Vishnu then offers them two choices: The first option is to take seven births on Earth as a devotee of Vishnu, while the second is to take three births as his enemy. Jaya and Vijaya cannot bear the thought of staying away from Vishnu for seven lives.
Jaya says, “Everyone who is born has to die and what better way to go than to be relieved of this earthly existence by you, our Lord.”
It was Jaya and Vijaya who were born as Hiranayaksha and Hiranyakashipu in the Satya Yuga. The maya created by Lord Vishnu is such that he rescued his devotees and also ensured that the Prithvi was rescued from the deluge to start the process of creation. It was in the Varaha avatar that Lord Vishnu fought Hiranayaksha for a thousand years and defeated him to rescue him from the earth. Then on his two tusks, the Varaha avatar brought the earth back from the depths of the ocean for creation to begin.
Varaha Avatar Depiction
The varaha avatar is depicted with four arms: one arm holds the Sudarshana chakra, the other arm holds the shankha (conch), yet another arm holds a gada (mace) and the other arm makes the varamudra gesture (for blessing). The Varaha avatar resurrects the earth from pralaya (dissolution of the universe) and paved the way for the creation to begin.
Varaha Avatar- Temples
One of the most prominent temple of the Varaha avatar is the Sri Varahaswami Temple in Tirumala Andhra Pradesh, near Tirupati. At the end of Satya Yuga, when the earth had been rescued by the Varaha Avatar and creation started, the devotees of Lord Vishnu requested him to stay on earth. Lord Vishnu in his Varaha avatar ordered his vehicle Garuda to bring his divine garden Kridachala from his abode Vaikuntha to Venkata hills,
The oldest Varaha temple is Nav Toran (nine pillars) temple in Jawad, Madhya Pradesh.
Matsya avatar is the first avatar of Lord Vishnu. In puranic literature, all the avatars of Lord Vishnu are taken to rescue his devotees. In Satya Yuga, Lord Vishnu incarnated as the Matsya avatar (incarnation of a fish) to rescue his devotee King Manu from the great deluge.
The puranic story of Matsya Avatar
The reasons for Lord Vishnu to take the Matsya Avatar were two-fold.
The first reason for the Matsya Avatar was to grant the wish of his devotee and save him from the deluge at the end of Satya Yuga. There was a king named Manu in Satya yuga who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. He performed a number of penances to fulfil his desire to physically meet Lord Vishnu.
The second reason for the Matsya avatar was to rescue the Vedas which were stolen by the demon Hayagriva and hidden at the bottom of the ocean. As the preserver of the universe, Lord Vishnu ensures that the knowledge of the Vedas passes from one Yuga to another.
The story of Matsya Avatar and King Manu
Lord Vishnu decided to fulfil the King’s wish. One day, when Manu went to the river and began his prayers, he took water in his hands and raised his hands above his head, offering the water to Lord Vishnu as was the custom of beginning his prayers.
When Manu was about to pour the water back into the river, he noticed a tiny fish in his hands. The king considered his duty to save the fish since it had taken refuge in his hands. A lot of bigger fishes were swimming in the river who would be predators to the tiny fish. The King placed the fish in his “kamandalam”.
Manu finished his prayers and returned to the palace. Next morning he noticed that the fish had grown in size and seemed to struggle in the kamandalan. Immediately the King got a bigger vessel and poured the fish in it. When Manu was going to begin his morning prayers, he noticed in surprise that the fish had outgrown the bigger vessel as well. Manu summoned the biggest container in his palace and placed the fish in in. After some time, the fish outgrew the vessel too and Manu was anxious. As a king, it was his duty to save the animal who had taken his refuge. Seeing the fish wither in pain, the king took the vessel and poured the fish back in the river. But the fish continued growing and filled the river too. Manu realized that this was a play of the Maya, but his Dharma did not permit him to forsake the fish. Finally Manu made transit arrangements and shifted the fish to the ocean. As soon as the fish was dropped into the ocean, it became gigantic in size and seemed to fill one side of the ocean.
Manu bowed before the fish and said, “You are Lord Vishnu, you are Narayana. Please accept my prayers.”
Lord Vishnu replied, “You wanted to see me and here I am.”
Tears rolled down Manu’s eyes and he noticed that a horn grew on the head of the fish.
The Matysa avatar informed Manu that Satya Yuga was coming to an end and the King should arrange a vessel for himself, the 7 rishis, seeds of plants and animals to safely cross the deluge and live in the next Yuga.
It was Lord Vishnu who took the Matsya Avatar to steer the ship with it horn. The Matsya avatar led the ship carrying the King and the 7 rishis to safety during the deluge. After saving his devotees, the Matsya Avatar then went and fought the demon Hayagriva to restore the Vedas.
Matsya Avatar- Temples in India
There are very few temples where Vishnu in this avatar is worshipped. Prominent ones include the Shankhodara temple in Bet Dwarka and Vedanarayana Temple in Nagalapuram. Matsya is the patron deity of the Meenas, who claim descent from the deity. The Meenas call Matsya Meenesh, the Lord of the Meenas or the fish (Meena) Lord. In Rajasthan there are many temples of Meenesh, but the first Meenesh temple was in Pushkar, Rajasthan. A Meenesh temple is also situated in Malarana chour village of Sawai Madhopur district of Rajasthan. Other temples include Meenangadi Matsyavathra Mahavishnu Temple and Matsya Narayana Temple, Bangalore.
Matsya Avatar- Mithila painting
Mithila paintings revolve around Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The motif behind Mithila paintings is to portray God & men in nature while borrowing heavily from the ancient epics of India. Mithila paintings use natural dyes to remind us of our lineage with ancient epics of India.
Kurma avatar is is the second avatar of Lord Vishnu following the Matsya Avatar. The word Kurma means Tortoise, and the story of the Kurma Avatar of Vishnu has its beginning in the Puranas. The Kurma Avatar was taken by Lord Vishnu to help the Gods win the amrita or elixir of life over the demons during the churning of the ocean. All the stories mentioned in the Puranas have a deeper significance. Similarly the Kurma Avatar story has a profound meaning that has to be interpreted.
Kurma avatar- The secret and the significance
As per the puranic story, the Gods and Demons had churned the ocean to obtain the elixir of life. The churning is symbolized by a literal tug of war between the Gods and Demons in the story. The ocean is representative of the deep consciousness or the human mind. The Gods and demons themselves symbolize our own good and satanic tendencies. The tug of war represents the struggle in our own selves to choose between the good and bad karma in our every day life. And by the choices that we make by our own free will, it be determined whether we get a chance to taste the elixir of life (represented by liberation from samsara) or remain mortal (bonded in samsara- repetitive cycle of life and death).
In the puranic story, the churning stick is Mount Mandara that is used to churn the ocean. Mount Mandara represents the sum total of all our efforts in this life that are used to churn our own thought process and develop our mind. When the Mount Mandara starts drowning in the mid ocean (symbolizing our own despair in life), Lord Vishnu takes the form of a tortoise and attaches himself as the base to stop the moutain from sinking. Also in the story, at one point, the mountain rises higher (symbolizing our own pride) and the Mount Mandara goes out of range for it to churn the ocean. It is again Lord Vishnu who takes the form of an eagle and sits on top to balance the weight and complete the churning.
This symbolizes that while we excercise our own free will and make our own efforts, a faith in the divine will help us to neither drown in despair in times of adversity or lose our humility in times of success.
KURMA AVATAR- A SCIENTIFIC ANECDOTE
Another similarity that is often linked to Darwin’s theory is in evolution. The evolution theory tells us that after the aquatic organisms, amphibians were formed. Similarly in the puranas, the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu Matsya avatar (fish- aquatic) is followed by the Kurma avatar (tortoise- amphibian). This is in line with many such stories or incidents in the Vedas, that have a direct link with the formation of the universe.
KURMA AVATAR- THE PURANIC STORY
The story starts with a meeting between Sage Durvasa and Lord Indra. Sage Durvasa as a mark of respect offers a garland of flowers to Lord Indra. The king of Gods, Lord Indra who is seated on his elephant, Airavata, takes the garland of flowers and places it on the forehead of the elephant. The elephant takes the garland and throws it down on the earth.
The chief of sages Durvasa, angry at this disrespectful treatment of his gift, proclaims to the King of Gods that his kingdom will be ruined.
Destiny acts to fulfill the words of Sage Durvasa and the Asuras (demons) declare war on the Gods. The Gods want to taste the nectar of immortality and approach Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu advises the Gods to churn the ocean along with the Demons and offer them a share of nectar as well.
The Mandara mountain is to be used to the churning stick and the snake Vasukiis the churning rope. But once the churning starts, the mountain starts drowning in the ocean as there is no support base to keep it afloat. It is then Lord Vishnu took the form of the tortoise (Kurma Avatar) to keep the mountain afloat. It is Kurma avatar, the tortoise, that goes below the mountain and stops it from sinking.
There were a lot of divine objects and fortunate things that arise in the Kurma Avatar Story- Wish-fulfilling tree Kalpavriksha, Wish-fulfilling cow Kamadhenu, Wish-fulfilling gem Chintamani, Seven-headed flying horse Ucchaishrava, Six-tusked elephant Airavata, Conch – Panchajanya, Bow of king Saranga, Beautiful nymph Rambha, Moon-god, Chandra, Goddess of ocean Varuni, Physician Dhanvantari. An incarnation of Vishnu, the enemy of disease, he brought with him Ayurveda, Goddess of fortune Lakshmi, Elixir of immortality Amrita, and the poison Halahal.
The Goddess Lakshmi chooses Vishnu and thus chooses the Gods over the demons. The Gods restored with their vigor and energy fight the Asuras again and prevail over them.
Kurma Jayanati, or the day when the incarnation of Lord Vishnu happened, is observed on Purnima or full moon day in the month of Vaisakha.
The temples dedicated to the Kurma Avatar are located in Kurmai, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, and Srikurmam, Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh. The name of the village Kurmai originated as there is historical temple of Kurma Varadarajaswamy (Kurmavatar of Lord Vishnu), god in this village. The temple located in Srikurmam in Srikakulam District, Andhra Pradesh, is also the Avatar of Kurma.
Click to see Kurma Avatar idol (in coppper and brass) to be kept at office and home:
In Hinduism, Lord Shani or Shani Dev (embodied by the Planet Saturn) is the son of Surya Dev and Goddess Chhaya. Shani Dev gives us the results of our deeds throughout our life by appropriate punishments and rewards.
It is believed that worshipping Lord Hanuman pleases Shani Dev and the devotees of Lord Hanuman are treated kindly by Shani Dev. The story of Lord Hanuman and Shani dev is mentioned in the ancient scriptures.
When Ravana (King of Lanka) defeated all the Devas (Gods), he won over all the three worlds. Ravana had a great understanding of astrology, and when his eldest son Indrajit was going to be born, Ravana forcefully imprisoned all the planets that determine an individual’s destiny. He ordered the planets (grahas) to be at the most auspicious position for his son’s horoscope, so that Inderjit would become invincible.
The Demigods knew that if Inderjit was born in this astrological position, he would become powerful and undefeatable. But the planets were imprisoned by Ravana so they had no option but to adhere to Ravana’s demand.
The planets were kept imprisoned face lying down. Shani dev offered the demigods a solution. Shani Dev stated that if he could turn around, he would glance at Ravana’s face and by this gaze, Shani Dev would bring about the destruction of Ravana by punishing him for his bad deeds.
The Gods approached Sage Narada to help Shani Dev gaze at Ravana’s face. Sage Narada went to Lanka and teased the arrogant Ravana. Sage Naraga told Ravana that it would be more fitting for a great king like him to stamp the chest of the planets who were kept imprisoned facing the floor.
Ravana agreed to Sage Narada’s suggestion and proceeded to turn the planets around. Lord Shani glanced at Ravana’s face and brought about the hardships that were due to Ravana for his evil deeds.
Ravana realized that Lord Shani had glanced at his face and it was a trick. To take revenge, Ravana kept Lord Shani imprisoned for many years in a prison with no openings.
During the war with Lord Rama, many years later, Lord Hanuman arrived in Lanka to carry Ram’s message to Maa Sita. On realizing that Shani dev was imprisoned in a prison, Lord Hanuman broke the prison and released Shani Dev. Lord Hanuman offered to take Shani Dev away from Lanka.
The honorable Shani Dev thanked Lord Hanuman but did not look at his face for it could bring hardships for Lord Hanuman.
Lord Hanuman enquired about the nature of the sufferings that he would undertake if Shani Dev looked at his face. Shani Dev explained that the sufferings would be related to family and personal aspirations.
Lord Hanuman told Shani Dev to climb on his back as he had no family ties and his attachment was at Lord Ram’s feet.
Shani Dev climbed on Lord Hanuman and Lord Hanuman took his flight. The demons from Ravana’s army fought with Lord Hanuman and threw huge boulders, rocks and other objects at him. Lord Hanuman crushed all the weapons thrown at him.
Finally, Shani Dev gave a boon to Lord Hanuman for helping him get away from Ravana’s prison. As a boon, the ever compassionate, Lord Hanuman asked Shani Dev not to cast an evil eye or trouble his devotees.
Lord Ganesha story and the significance of Ganesha having an elephant head can be understood by referring to two different stories mentioned in the Brahmavaivarata Purana. The first story is about the meeting between Sage Durvasa and Lord Indra. The second story is about the visit of Lord Shani to Kailasa during Lord Ganesha’s birth.
Lord Ganesha Story: Why does Ganesha have an elephant head?
The reason for the joining of the Elephant Trunk
Lord Ganesha’s story and the reason for him having an elephant head can be appreciated from two stories in the Brahmavaivarata Purana that explain why Lord Ganesha has an elephant trunk as his head.
Lord Ganesha Story Part 1: Sage Durvasa and Lord Indra’s meeting
Once Sage Duvasa was travelling from Vaikuntha to Kailasa. He came upon Lord Indra who was spending time with the apsara Rambha. Lord Indra bowed before Sage Durvasa in reverence, and Sage Durvasa getting pleased, handed him a Parijata flower, and spoke the following words:
“O Indra, this is a flower given by the lord which removes all the obstructions and the person whose head it will be placed will be victorious all around. He will be adored by the people first of all and will be the foremost of all gods.Mahalakshmi will not part company from him and follow him like a shadow. He will equate himself with Vishnu in knowledge, lusture, wisdom, prowess. He will be more powerful than all gods and will be valorous like Vishnu.”
Sage Durvasa left after this and Lord Indra, still intoxicated with the presence of Rambha, placed the flower on the head of his elephant. The elephant thus got all the qualities that were ordained by the flower. The elephant then fought and defeated all other elephants and left Lord Indra. Thus destiny resulted in the elephant getting all the advantages associated with the blessings of the Parijata flower. If Indra had accepted the flower, he would have got all the qualities. But destiny, which is also a play of Vishnu, had other plans and it waited for the birth of Ganesha.
Lord Ganesha story Part 2: Lord Shani visits Kailasa on the occasion of Ganesha’s birth
The second story is the occasion of the birth Lord Ganesha and the conversation between Goddess Parvati and Lord Shani.
On the birth of Lord Ganesha, all the other Gods visited Kailasa to see him and bless him. Shani dev also came to Kailasa and requested Goddess Parvati to let him see Lord Ganesha. She granted him permission and Lord Shani stood there, casting his gaze downwards. He did not look at the child and was satisfied with just standing near Lord Ganesha.
Godess Parvati enquired about the reason why he wasn’t looking at Lord Ganesha and Lord Shani replied the following,
“ O Chaste Lady, all the people have to face the result of their deeds. Whatever good or bad deeds are done, they cannot be washed away even after completion of crores of kalpas. The jiva is born as Brahma, Indra and Surya because of his deeds and he is reborn as an animal because of his deeds.
“One achieves hell because of his deeds and also heaven because of his deeds. He comes a great king because of his own deeds and an ordinary servant because of his own deeds. He is born beautiful because of his own deeds and he he becomes sick the same way. O mother, because of his own deeds he indulges into vices and by his own deeds he becomes detached from the world.
“The people become rich because of their own deeds and it is due to their own deeds that they become pauper. One gets a loving family because of his own deeds and one gets a bad family because of his own deeds. Because of his own deeds one gets the best of spouse and kids, and because of his own deeds he remains unmarried, or a wicked spouse or remains childless.
O beloved of Shiva, I will tell you a secret story. In my childhood, I was a great devotee of Lord Krishna and I was always devoted to him. I always recited his name. My father married me to the daughter of Citraratha but I was always devoted to Tapas. Once when I engrossed in meditation on Lord Krishna, she came to me seeking attention. I was unaware of her presence, being engrossed in meditation, and hence I kept on performing tapas. She became annoyed and pronounced a curse in anger that whatever I cast my glance on would be destroyed. Thereafter after getting out of meditation, I calmed her and she repented.
O mother, because of the curse, I cannot cast my gaze at anything and in order to save creatures from destruction, I always cast my glance downwards.”
On hearing the words of Lord Shani, Goddess Parvati laughed and all the damsels present also laughed.
Goddess Parvati replied, “The entire universe moves according to the wishes of the Lord more than the moves of destiny. You look at me and my child.”
Lord Shani was in a fix whether to look at the son of Parvati or not; he did not want to offend Goddess Parvati and at the same time did not want to cause any unintended harm. Finally so as not to offend Goddess Parvati, he looked only at Lord Ganesha and not the Goddess. His mind was disturbed and his throat, lips and palate were dried up. With the corner of the right eye, he glanced at the child’s face.
At his gaze, the head of the child was cut-off and Lord Shani closed his eyes at once, looking downwards and stood there.
The severed head of the child went to Golaka and entered the body of Lord Krishna. Goddess Parvati started lamenting and fainted. All the Gods and Goddesses panicked at this turn of events. Therefore, Lord Vishnu mounted on Garuda, went on the northern direction and reached the bank of the Puspabhadra river. There he found the elephant of Indra, who was all powerful virtue of the flower given by Sage Durvasa. Lord Vishnu cut off the head of the elephant by using the Sudarsana-chakra.
Lord Vishnu then brought the dead elephant to life and it was restored to Lord Indra. Lord Vishnu then lifted the elephant head which had been cut off and had special powers. He came back and joined the trunk of the elephant to the body of Lord Ganesha using his divine knowledge and brought the child back to life.
It is important to know that Lord Ganesha, who is an ansh (manifestation) of Lord Krishna was destined to be the remover of obstacles for men and Gods, and the God of intellect and wisdom. The flower was presented to Indra by Sage Durvasa but not utilized by the King of Gods. The elephant temporarily benefited from the powers of the Parijata flower, but it was Lord Ganesha who was destined to be the foremost among Gods and men and known as the remover of obstacles. Thus destiny worked in a way that the attributes of the flower accumulated by the austerities of Sage Durvasa came to Lord Ganesha and that is the reason he has an elephant head.
Mahishasura Mardini story- Goddess Durga, the slayer of demon Mahishasur
Mahishasur Mardini story
The Mahishasura Mardini story is mentioned as a part of the sacred text Devi Mahatyam which is a part of Markendya Purana. This sacred text narrates how Goddess Durga helped the gods by killing Mahishasura, a demon who took many different forms, including that of a buffalo. For killing Mahishasura, Goddess Durga is also known as Mahishasura Mardini.
The Markendya Purana tells about how Goddess Durga killed the demons Madhu and Kaidabha (symbolizing Tamasic tendencies arisen from ignorance), killed the demon Mahishasura (symbolizing Rajashic tendencies arising from materialism) and alsokilled Shumbha and Nishubha (symbolizing self-doubt and doubt on others that impedes spiritual progress).
It is important to realize the significance of the battle between the Devi and the Asuras. Although this is told in the form of a story and has religious significance, at another level it also denotes the everyday battles that we face in life. This battle is between the sattvic (divine) and tamasic (demoniac) tendencies prevalent in each one of us. Each day we make choices out of our free will that determine our mental and spiritual evolution in this cycle of life and death.
The demons are nothing but representations of our own evil tendencies. Goddess Durga has two forms- the malevolent and the benevolent. While destroying the demons, she takes the malevolent form. While protecting her devotees, she becomes our mother and we see her benevolent form.
Among the sacred texts that gloryify the Goddess Durga, Lalita sahasranamam and Devi Mahatmyam are most popular.
Mahishasura Mardini Story- How Goddess Durga Slayed Mahishasur
When Mahishasura was the lord of demons and Indra the lord of Gods, there was a war between the gods and the demons that lasted for a hundred years.
After the war, the army of the Gods were defeated by the demons. Mahishasur became the king of the three worlds. The Gods were driven out of heaven and they went to Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma along with the Gods went to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
All the gods then sought the shelter of the holy trinity- Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. A great light emerged from the faces of the Holy trinity. A light sprang forth from the bodies of Indra and other devas as well. All this light united together to form a female form. The Gods on seeing the lusture of the Goddess Durga became filled with joy.
Lord Shiva brought forth a trident from his own trident and presented it to Goddess Durga; Lord Vishnu brought forth a discus out of his own discus and gave it to her. Varuna gave her a conch, Agni a spear; and Maruta gave a bow as well as two quivers full of arrows. Indra, lord of devas, bringing forth a thunderbolt out of his own thunderbolt and a bell from that of his elephant Airavata, gave them to her. Yama gave a staff from his own staff of death and Varuna, the lord of waters, gave her a noose. Brahma, the lord of beings, gave a string of beads and a water-pot. Surya placed his own rays on all the pores of her skin, while Kala gave her a sword and a spotless shield. The milky ocean gave her the best ornaments and garments, Vishwakarma gave her a brilliant axe, various missiles and an unbreakable armour. The ocean gave her unfading lotus garlands to wear and a very beautiful lotus to be held in her hand. Himavan gave her various gems and the lion as her vehicle. Kubera the lord of wealth gave her a drinking cup always full of celestial wine or nectar. Honoured with ornaments and weapons by the remaining gods too, the Goddess roared with loud laughter again and again. The entire sky was filled with her immeasurable stupendous roar and great was the echo that reverberated. All the worlds were frenzied and the oceans raged. The earth quaked and the mountains rocked in the wake of the Warrior Goddess, the great unity of the innate powers (saktis) of all the gods.
“Victory to you,” exclaimed the gods in joy to her, the lion-rider. The sages bowed their bodies in salutation.
She, the Goddess Durga, the embodiment of the lethal energy of divine anger turned against evil, set herself to destroy the armies of Mahishasura. Mahishasur rushed towards that roar, surrounded by innumerable Asuras. He saw the Devi pervading all the three worlds with her lustre. The Devi then killed hundreds of Asuras with her trident, club, showers of spears, swords and the like, and threw down others. Seeing his army thus being destroyed, Mahishasura pounced upon the troops of the Devi with his own buffalo form.
The Devi killed all the important lieutenants of Mahishasura such as Chikshura, Chamara, Karala, Uddata, Bashkala, Ugrasya, Ugravirya, Bidala. Finally Mahishasura himself came and fought with the Devi. Devi overpowered Mahishasura and killed him too.
Lord Chitragupta in Mythology, Chitragupta Puja, Chitragupta Aarti, Chitragupta Katha
Chitragupta (‘Hidden Picture’ or ‘Rich in secrets’) is a Hindu god who is responsible for keeping the records of all the deeds performed by a living being during his or her life time. In Vedanta, Karma is the collective result of the past actions that determine the present incarnation.
It is Chitragupta (also known as Chitragupta Maharaj) who keeps an accurate record of the actions that are performed by a human being in his or her life. In some references, these records are also known as “Akashic Records”. These records track every action taken in the universe.
Chitragupa Maharaj is also the patron deity of Kayasthas, a Hindu caste of India.
Lord Chitragupta in mythology
Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, entrusted Lord Yama (Lord of the dead) to reward or punish the mortals after their death according to the actions of their past life. It was Lord Yama’s responsibility to direct a person to naraka (hell) or swarga (heaven) as per their karmic actions.
Lord Yama complained to Lord Brahma, “O Lord, it is difficult to keep record of the deeds of the living beings being born in 84 Lakh life-forms in the three worlds.”
Lord Brahma, to find a solution for this problem for Lord Yama, went into meditation for 11, 000 years. When Lord Brahma opened his eyes, he saw Chitragupta Maharaj standing in front of him. Chitragupta was holding a pen and ink-pot in his hands and had a sword girdled to his waist.
Lord Brahma spoke: “Thou hast been created from my body (Kaya), therefore shall thy progeny be known as the Kayasthas. Thou hast been conceived in my mind (Chitra) and in secrecy (gupta), thy name shall also be Chitragupta.”
Lord Brahma then instructed Chitragupta to dispense justice and punish those who violated the dharma (righteousness).
Lord Chitragupta in scriptures
In the Garud Puran, Chitragupta is hailed as the first man to give the script.
“Chitragupta namastubhyam vedaksaradatre”
(Obeisance to Chitragupta, the giver of letters)
The story of Lord Brahma meditating and Chitragupta Maharaj emerging from his kaya is mentioned in The Yama Samhita.
In the Padma Purana, it is mentioned “Chitragupta was placed near Lord Yama to register the good and evil deeds of all living beings, that he was possessed of supernatural wisdom and became the partaker of sacrifices offered to the gods and fire. It is for this reason that the twice-born always give him oblations from their food. As he sprang from the body of Lord Brahma he was called Kayastha of numerous gotras on the face of the earth.”
• In The Mahabharata (Anusasan Parva, chapter 130) the teachings of Chitragupta regarding performance of virtuous deeds for men and women are mentioned.
Lord Chitragupta and Kayastha Lineage
As per scriptures, Chitragupta Maharaj has twelve sons and these form the lineage of the present Kayastha community. The names of Chitragupta sons are: Srivastava, Surajdwaj, Bulmik, Asthana, Mathur, Gaud, Bhatnagar , Saxena, Ambasht, Nigam, Karna and Kulshreshth.
Chitragupta Puja: Chitragupta Aarti
Chitragupta was born on Yama Dwitiya and his birthday is celebrated as Chitraguptajayanti. Chitragupta Puja including yajna is done on this day. The legend states that whoever performs this yajna is spared the punishments of hell, whatever his records of deeds on the earth be.
This is celebrated on the same day of Bhaiduj that is two days after Diwali. This is the main puja of the Hindu Kayastha caste. This puja is famous for its value to education as it is also called as puja of Kalam-Dawat (pen-ink)
There was a powerful king, who had won over a huge territory and subdued various other kingdoms. He had become arrogant due to his victories and became cruel towards people who went against his will.
His justice was self-centred and he disregarded other people around him. People were extremely scared of him. This king was called Sudass and he ruled the kingdom of Saurastra.
The king drunk with power and riches, left the path of Dharma, committed sins and stopped performing virtuous deeds. His tendency to commit sins, cruelty towards people, lack of respect for virtue and a life addicted to sensual pleasures made his citizens extremly afraid of him.
Sudass was fond of hunting. Once on a hunting expedition, he got separated from his soldiers and was lost in the jungle. While trying to find his soldiers, he went on exploring the forest and went further inside the jungle.
After travelling in the jungle for some time, he heard Mantras being chanted from a distance. Filled with curiousity, he proceeded towards the chants. He saw a few Brahmins performing a yajna surrounded by some people. The Brahmins went on with their yagna and ignored the king.
The king’s ego was hurt and he got angry. He shouted in a threatening voice, “I am King Sudass, the king of kings. Stop right now and offer your salutations to me. Who are you and what are you doing here? Answer me fools.”
The group of priests kept on chanting their mantra and ignored the angry king. The people surrounding the Yagna kept silent, although they had recognized the kinds and were in a state of panic.
The King could not tolerate this insult and became enraged. He stepped towards the Yagna, raised his sword and aimed at the head priest.
A young priest immediately stood up and spoke to the king, “Stop O King Sudass! Stop right now. Don’t turn your opportunity into a disaster. You have been sent here not to be condemned but saved.”
On hearing these words, curiosity got the better of the king. He lowered his sword and said to the young priest, “What do you mean I am here to be saved?”
The young priest addressed the king, “O Sudass, you call yourself the king of kings, but you are ignorant! When you die after leading your sinful life, you are going to be subjugated to such punishments that your all your pride will vanish. You want to know who these men are and what are they doing? Very well listen to me then:
We are the sons of Lord Chitragupta, whom the great Rigveda call the true king of kings, and whose title you are not worth stealing. We are Kayasthas and we are performing yajna to our Lord Yamaraj and our progenitor Maharaj Chitrgupta on this great day of Yamadwitiya. O King Sudass, whoever performs this puja is spared the punishments of hell. You can be free from hell if you will only submit to Yamaraj and Chitraguptaji, who has the record of all the sins that you have done in your vile life! Nothing in this world is hidden from Him and only He could save you. On one hand is salvation and on the other is hell. Come, join us or kill us all.”
The king was shaken on hearing this and realizing the folly of his pride, calmed down and requested the young priest for instructions. King Sudass then performed the puja with full devotion and the exact procedure. Thereafter he took the prasaad and went back to his kingdom.
Years passed and the King became old. Finally the time of his death approached and Yamadoots came to take him away to Yamaloka. The Yamadoots tied the king’s soul in chains and pulled it to the court of Yamaraja. When the bleeding and worn out king reached the court of Yamaraj, Lord Chitragupta opened the book of his deeds and thus spoke to Yamaraj. “O great Yamaraj, I can only see a life full of sins in his case, yet this king did perform our yajna in his lifetime. He performed the puja on Karthik shukla dwitiya and with full devotion and the right procedure. He performed our and your vrat on that day. Thereby, all his paaps have been nullified and according to the rules of Dharma, he cannot be sent to hell.”
Thus the king was saved from hell and till this day whoever performs the Chitraguptajayannti puja is spared the punishments of hell.
Chitragupta Puja is celebrated on the same day of Bhaiduj that is two days after Diwali. This is the main puja of the Hindu Kayastha caste. This puja is famous for its value to education as it is also called as puja of Kalam-Dawat (pen-ink)
Brihaspati or Bruhaspati (also known as Guru or the planet Jupiter) is a vedic deity in Hinduism. Brihaspati is the guru of Devas (Gods) and hence also known as Deva-guru. In Sanskrit, Brihaspati is the original priest or purohita who presides over the prayers and sacrifices to the gods.
In vedic mythology, Jupiter represents righteousness and religiousness and is also called “Brihaspati or Brahmanaspati” (lord of prayer). The words Brihaspati and Brahmanaspati are derived from the same root ‘bri’ as the word Brahma- the God of Creation. The root ‘bri’ means to grow and expand.
The root ‘Tt’ refers to the wisdom which enables the growth and expansion of the universe. Brihapati, symbolized by the planet Jupiter in the solar system, is associated with supreme wisdom.
Hence in astrology, it is said that Jupiter provides opportunities for the expansion of one’s material weath as well as limitless expansion of inner qualities like compassion and wisdom.
Brihaspati in Mythology: Presiding over Brihaspativar or Thursday
In the Rig Veda, Brihaspati is invoked as a mighty power capable of providing immense protection and great prosperity.
Brihaspati attained the position of teacher of the Devas by performing penances on the banks of Prabhas Tirtha. Lord Shiva granted him the boon to become the guru of the devas and also bestowed upon him a position as one of the Navagrahas (Nine Planets).
Brihaspati is described as being yellow in colour and carries a stick, a lotus and beads. He presides over ‘Guru var’ or ‘Brihaspativar’ or Thursday.
All branches of knowledge, the basic principles of Dharma (the right conduct of living) and practical wisdom in Kali Yuga are under the influence of Brihaspati. The knowledge that Brihaspati grants to us is the wisdom that makes us lead a comfortable material life while spiritually evolving towards the final goal of liberation or moksha.
Thus Brihapati or Jupiter provides the highest form of wisdom- the wisdom that makes us realize the supreme consciousness prevalent in us.
Jupiter in Astrology: Brihaspati in astrology
In astrology, Brihaspati is embodied by the planet Jupiter and a well-placed Jupiter in a person’s chart grants wisdom, health, material prosperity and spirituality.
Brihaspati, or Jupiter, is one of the most auspicious planets in astrology. Brihaspati is considered to be the greatest benefic of all of the planets. Brihaspati is concerned with mental and material upliftment. While the planet Jupiter is associated with education, teaching and the dispensation of knowledge, a favourable placement of Brihaspati will also lead an individual to achieve wealth, peaceful & long lasting relationships, progeny and fame.
It is important to understand that the placement of a benefic Brihaspati in a chart will indicate the good deeds performed by the individual in previous karmic incarnations. Performing good deeds, leading a religious life and performing charity are the best ways to please Brihaspati. The prosperity received through Brihaspati results from good conduct in the present and past lives. Brihapati enables the good deeds of the past karmas to fructify and provide favorable opportunities to occur in this lifetime.
In astrology, Jupiter also affects long distance travel, morality and compassion in an individual. Since Jupiter is a mighty planet of solar system its effect on the individual also is more.
Brihaspati Mantra: Brihaspativar Puja
Brihaspati is known as Animishacharya– unblinking preceptor; Chakshusa– light of the eye teacher of the sacred wisdom; Ijya– teacher of the gods; and Indrejya – one who has subjugated his sense organs. Jupiter is also referred as Guru– a preceptor and teacher as well as one who initiates the student into the secret wisdom of the Vedas.
According to traditional Hiindu astrology, worship or propitiation of Brihaspati or Guru (Jupiter) results in getting material wealth, happiness in relationships, progeny, cure from ailments affecting the stomach and the control of senses.
Brihaspativar Puja is dedicated to Lord Brihaspati who is represented by planet Jupiter and is also considered as the avatar of Vishnu. The devotees wear yellow clothes on Thursday, fast and recite the Brihaspati mantra on Brihaspativar. They also read or listen to Brihaspativar vrat katha.
Brihaspati is the deity presiding over Thursday and hence Thursday is known as Brihaspativar in Hindu calendar.
Brihaspativar Vrat Katha
There was a rich man who had all the material resources to lead a comfortable life. His wife however was a miser and was only interested in running her household. She lacked compassion towards others.
One Thursday, a Sadhu came to her house. The husband was away and the wife was busy in cleaning her house. The sadhu knocked the door and when the wife appeared said to her, “O Kind lady, I am hungry. Will you give me something to eat?”
The lady who could have easily accommodated the sadhu’s request replied, “I am busy cleaning the house. Come on some other day when I am free.”
The sadhu went away hungry from her house that day.
The sadhu returned to her again on another day and said, “O, kind lady, I am hungry. Will you give me something to eat?”
The lady again dismissed the sadhu’s request and replied, “I am busy and giving a bath to my son. Come on some other day.”
The sadhu again went away empty-handed.
He visited her house again for the third time. She repeated her words and added, “You always visit when I am busy. Go away.”
The sadhu humbly asked, “Will you give me something to eat, if I come on a day when you are not busy?
The lady answered, “I will definitely give you something to eat if l’m free. The problem with me is that I am never free as I have so much to attend to in the household. Is there some way out for me? Tell me the way”.
The sadhu smiled and said, “Yes, there is a way out”
“What is it?” asked the lady.
The sadhu said, “Get up late on every Thursday morning. When you clean your house, hoard all the garbage in a corner of the house. Do not clean your kitchen before cooking meals. Put the cooked meals behind the hearth. Wash your hair and clothes on every Thursday. Ask your husband to get himself shaved on this day. And don’t wear yellow clothes on a Thursday. If you do this, you will no longer be busy.”
The sadhu disappeared again hungry from the house. The lady of the household followed his instructions on Thursdays. The rich man gradually become poorer and soon the women had limited resources to focus on her routine life.
The sadhu returned after a few weeks and said, “O, kind lady, I am hungry. Will you give me something to eat?”
The lady was sitting outside in the courtyard doing nothing and said, “O Sadhu, I have nothing to eat myself now-a-days. How can I spare something for you?”
The sadhu replied, “When I came earlier, you had everything but you could not spare anything for me because you were busy. Now you are not busy, but still you have nothing to spare for me.”
The women realizing her mistake folded her hands and said, “O Sadhu, please tell me a way out so that we can go back to your old way of living and recover our material wealth. Please tell me a remedy.”
The compassionate Sadhu replied, “Get up early on Thursday mornings and clean the house. Tell your husband not to shave on Thursday. And always feed the hungry and the poor. Meditate on Lord Brihaspati and with his blessings you will recover your wealth.”
The woman did as the Sadhu instructed and performed good deeds and indulged in charity. Lord Brihaspati became pleased and restored the wealth back on the household.
Lord Brahma is the creator of the universe as per Hindu scriptures. Lord Brahma is part of the Holy Trinity, the other gods being Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Brahma undertakes the creation of the universe, Vishnu sustains the universe and Shiva annihilates it. This eternal recurring process is called creation.
Lord Brahma in Philosophy
God Brahma is called “Svayambhu” meaning that which is “self-manifested” or “self-born”. In Vedic philosophy, Lord Brahma reminds us that the one supreme consciousness adopts the illusion of diversity for the purpose of creation. Lord Brahma is the first differentiated reality from the one undifferentiated consciousness. It is for creation that the one supreme consciousness deludes itself and becomes many due to the illusion of differentiating between the seer and the seen, the body and the mind, I and them.
Lord Brahma in Mythology
In Puranas, Brahma, the first god among the trinity, is represented by “Hirayangarbha” or “The Golden womb” from which all the creation has originated. Hence Lord Brahma is called Prajapati since all creatures emerged from him and are his progeny. In another recitation, a golden coloured lotus grew from the navel of Lord Vishnu and that became Lord Brahma’s seat. The parts of the lotus represent the entire world.
The Holy Trinity
The wise know that Brahma represents the mind, Vishnu represents the Prana or life force that sustains and Shiva represents the wisdom that is beyond ego. Hence when one develops his mind or intellect, he is able to create a path to balance his life-force and finally attain the wisdom that will lead to Vairagya and Viveka.
The Symbolism of Brahma
Lord Brahma is traditionally represented with four heads and four arms. The four hands of Brahma hold a water-pot, a spoon, a rosary and the Vedas. The symbolism is explained below:
Four heads of Brahma: They represent the four Vedas (Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva) and the four yugas (Krita, Treta, Dwapara, Kali).
Four arms of Brahma: The four hands of Brahma denote the four directions showing the eternality of the cosmos. The objects in his hands thus represent their eternal purpose. The spoon is for pouring of Holy Ghee in the sacrificial fire, the water-pot denotes the all encompassing nature of the ocean, the rosary is for keeping track of the Universe time and the Vedas represent the truth of the creation.
God Brahma’s vehicle
Brahma’s vehicle is a divine swan. In mythology, the swan is bestowed with a virtue called Neera-Ksheera Viveka or the ability to separate milk from the water symbolising the ability to separate good from the evil.
Lord Shani or Shri Shani Dev : Embodied by the Planet Saturn/Shani Graha in Vedic astrology
In the puranas, Lord Shani or Shani Dev is the son of Surya Dev and Goddess Chhaya. Shani Dev is also the elder brother to Lord Yama.
Interestingly, Shani Dev gives us the results of our deeds through our life by appropriate punishments and rewards. Lord Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.
Spiritual Significance of Shani Dev/Shani Graha
The relevance of Shani Dev in Kali yuga is immense. When one understands the spiritual significance of Shani Dev, then one realizes that Shani Dev, unlike what is believed, actually bestows welfare.
Since Shani Dev is designated with the task of granting the fruits of one’s actions in this life, he is one of the most feared amongst Hindu gods. The powerful Shani Dev is believed to have the control of making a king into a pauper as well as changing the fortunes of an impoverished man.
The age today is one of superficiality and it is easy to become ignorant and entangled in the abyss of materialism. This leads to a life without purpose and makes people bewildered, totally devoid of any higher ideals that can lead to spiritual evolution.
In this Age of Kali of instant sense gratification, people are tempted to perform wrong actions and get enmeshed into a web of desires and material bondage. It is the suffering given by Lord Shani due to our past wrong actions, that acts as a reality check and makes us investigate into what is true and what is untrue. It is the tough times in our life that remind us of our mortality and motivates us to perform good actions in life.
When suffering comes in the form of challenges pertaining to job, family, health, wealth or psychological turmoil brought about by the unfulfillment of desires, one may get temporarily insecure and depressed. But this depression or anxiety happens because our sense of being is externalized and superficial.
The suffering is important from two perspectives:
Firstly, the suffering that one undergoes is a result of one’s past karma. Hence during times of trial, one should always remember that “this too shall pass” and remain hopeful as they are expiring the effect of their bad deeds thus giving them freedom to engage in good deeds in future;
Secondly, often, suffering brings forth the spiritual awakening of person. Some of the greatest sages and philosophers became detached and self-realized only after a bout of suffering in their lives. When suffering comes, it arouses a deep sense of humility in an individual and makes him aware of a higher power or truth that exists in creation. Thus the suffering one undergoes makes a person humble and often starts his or her spiritual unfoldment in this life.
Keeping in mind the above two points, we have to understand Shani Dev’s role in the spiritual evolution of an individual.
It is Shani Dev’s duty to bestow good rewards for good deeds and suffering for bad deeds. Every person has the choice to perform the right or the wrong action. It is Shani Dev who grants the emotional maturity, spiritual growth and wisdom that makes us choose right over wrong and perform deeds that makes us move closer to Moksha or self-realization.
Shani Dev’s role is immensely significant in maintaining order and justice in creation and helping an individual evolve spiritually. Shani Dev grants Viveka and Vairagya to a person so that he can make efforts to become one with the Brahman and get free from this cycle of birth and death.