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Showing posts from May, 2008

Jaya and Vijaya

How Sanat Kumaras were responsible for Jaya and Vijaya's births on the Earth
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Now this one is one of my personal favorites - there are two reasons for this, which I will tell you in a while. The story is related to Sanat Kumaras, the first lot of manas-putras (sons born out of thought and not action) of Lord Brahma. By birth, therefore they arrive on the scene before the 10 Prajapatis -- the celestial beings (including the seven Saptarshis) who were responsible for creating most of the family lines on the Earth -- and that includes devas, asuras and humans too.

The four Sanat Kumaras are: Sanat, Sananda, Sanaka, and Sanatana.

These four Sanat Kumaras are wandering across the worlds, and one day decide to pay a visit to Narayana - the form of Vishnu that rests on Shesh naga. When they arrive at the gates of Vaikuntha, they see that the door is guarded by two keepers Jaya and Vijaya, the famous t…

Saptarshis - The Progenitors

Saptarshis - the very first progenitors

You must be wondering by now why I always keep refering to Saptarshis सप्तर्षि when it comes to giving someone's lineage. In fact I usually start with one of the Saptarshis as the root of the line and then go on. The reason for this lies in the Hindu myth about creation.

In Manu's account of Creation we meet for the first time with the Maha-rishis or Deva-rishis, the Celestial priest poets. These are the mind-born sons of Brahma, who came into existence before the gods and the demons. Indeed, they are credited with most of the acts of creation.

Where did it all start?

So in the beginning there was nothing। Vishnu was sleeping happily on Sheshanaag. Vishnu in this state is called Narayana and this state of dreamless sleep is the time of Pralaya. Narayana stirred out of his sleep and from his navel rose a primordial lotus in which sat Brahma. Brahma opened his eyes and saw. He wondered who he was. He said "What?" -- This is why Brahm…

Chiranjeevi 8 - Kripa

8. Kripacharya - Also often called Kripa, was the chief priest at the court of Hastinapura, in the Mahabharata. He comes from the lineage of Rishi Gautam.

Gautam had a son called Sharadvan – who was supposedly born with arrows. He was great archer and attained the art of all types of warfare. He bore twins – a boy and a girl – from an Apsara called Janapadi. The twins were found by King Shantanu, who brought them to Hastinapura and called them Kripa and Kripi. Kripa went on to become the high priest of Hastinapura, and also the early teacher of the 100 Kauravas and 5 Pandavas.

Kripi married Drona, and gave birth to Ashwatthama. So Kripa was also maternal uncle of Ashwatthama and guru.

Kripacharya was an extraordinary teacher. To him, all pupils were equal. A guru like Drona favoured Arjuna and sacrificed an equally if not more promising student - he asked Ekalavya for his right thumb. Kripa, on the other hand, upheld the highest standards expected of a teacher: He was completely impartia…

Chiranjeevi 7 - Ved Vyasa

7. Vyasa (Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa) – Vyasa is a central and much revered figure in Hinduism. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa – the one who compiled the Vedas.

According to the Mahabharata, he was the son of Satyavati, a ferryman's daughter, and the wandering sage Parashara. This was before Satyavati’s marriage to Shantanu and before Devavrata became Bhishma.

Vyasa was born on an island in the river Yamuna. This is said to be near Kalpi in Jalaun district in Uttar Pradesh. He was dark in colour and hence may be called by the name Krishna कृष्णा (black), and also the name Dwaipayana द्वैपायाना , meaning 'island-born' (Dweep = island)

Hindus traditionally hold that Vyasa categorised the primordial single Veda into four. Hence he was called Veda Vyasa, or "Splitter of the Vedas," the splitting being a feat that allowed people to understand the divine knowledge of the Veda. The word ‘vyasa’ means ‘analyze’.

Vyasa is traditionally known as author of Mahabharata…

Chiranjeevi 6 - Markandeya

6. Markandeya – Markandeya is an ancient rishi (sage) from the Hindu tradition, born in the clan of Brigu Rishi. He is celebrated as a devotee of both Shiva and Vishnu and is mentioned in a number of stories from the Puranas. He is known to be of great mental prowess and an exemplary narrator of stories (Markandeya Purana).

His mention also appears in Mahabharata, where he meets the exiled Pandavas in forest and reduces their burden by telling them stories of earlier kings and gods and demons.

One legend relates the story of how Shiva protected Markandeya from the clutches of death. (Yama) and how he became a Chiranjeevi:

It is said that Sage Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati worshipped Shiva and sought from him the boon of begetting a son. As a result they were given the choice of either a gifted son, but with a short life on earth or a child of low intelligence but with a long life. Mrikandu chose the former, and was blessed with Markandeya, an exemplary son, destined to die at the age o…

Chiranjeevi 5 - Maha bali

5. Mahabali (King Bali) – The realm of Patala (specifically the Sutala -- see my earlier post "Devavrata becomes Bhishma") is supposed to be the realm of Bali. Every year Bali surfaces on Earth on the day of Bali Pratipada (first day after Lakshmi Puja – Deepavali) and grants favors to people. Also known as Sahastrabahu (one with thousand arms), Bali is a righteous king and is therefore deified. Although he was Asura, he was very religious and pious. He took great care of his subjects and his rule is considered a golden era.

King Bali is immortalized because even Vishnu had to humble himself as Vamana to conquer him. He stands out for his valour and charity - two great eternal qualities.

Mahabali is believed to have ruled in South India before the Ramayana events and his empire is believed to have extended from the Vindhyas in the north to the far out in the south. His capital was Kerala. In the state of Kerala, the Onam festival is a celebration of the visit of Mahabali to th…

Chiranjeevi 4 - Vibhishana

4. Vibhishana – Also known as Bibhishana, he is the younger brother of Ravana. His lineage is thus:

Out of the seven great sages (Saptarshi), who are supposed to be sons of Brahma, one of the rishis was Pulatsya. His son was Rishi Vishrava. Vishrava married Idavida, daughter of Rishi Bharadwaja. ldavida bore Vishrava a son, Kubera, the Lord of Wealth and the original ruler of Lanka. The accounts of Vishrava's far-reaching Yogic powers reached the ears of the Asura, Sumali, and his wife, Thataka. They got their daughter Kaikesi married to Vishrava. Vishrava fathered four children with her – Ravana, Kumbakarna, Vibhishana, and a daughter, Soorpanaka. Ravana would eventually oust his half-brother, Kubera, as King of Lanka and usurp his throne.

Vibhishana was the youngest brother of Ravana. He had differences with Ravana for a long time. When Rama came searching for his wife Sita, Vibhishana’s mother Kaikesi advised Vibhishana to join Rama. In the Lanka War, Vibhishana's knowledge o…

Chiranjeevi 3 - Parashu rama

3. Parashurama (Axe-wielding Rama) – Parashurama (Bhargavarama – also called Rama – not to be confused with Rama of Ayodhya and the hero of Epic Ramayana) is considered to be the Sixth Maha-avatar of Vishnu. The ten Avatars being (given Garuda Purana):

Matysa, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki.

Parashurama is the only Chiranjeevi Avatar of the above. He still lives on earth, even today unlike the other Avatars who, once done with their work on Earth, go back to Vaikunth (Vishnu’s Heaven). He is also the first Sovereign Emperor known to man. He received an axe after undertaking a terrible penance to please Shiva, from whom he learned the methods of warfare and other skills.

Parashurama appears many times in Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas. He is famous for killing Haihaya-Kshatriyas on the earth 21 times for their arrogance. The most famous Kshatriya he slew was Kartavirya Arjuna – also called Sahasrarjuna (possessor of a thousand arm…

Chiranjeevi 2 - Hanuman

2. Hanuman – The son of Vayu (by this relationship, he is a brother of Bhima) and Anjani (thus also called Anjaneya). Supposedly born near Trimbakeshwara, near Nashik, Maharashtra. He is one of the most important personalities in the Indian epic, the Ramayana. He is devotion personified – he aids Lord Rama in rescuing Sita from Ravana of Lanka.

In some cases, Hanuman is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva – and is called the “11th Rudra”.

After the war with Ravana and return to Ayodhya, and after reigning for several years, the time arrived for Rama to depart to his heavenly abode. Many of Rama's entourage, including vanaras like Sugriva decided to depart with him. Shunning the heavens, Hanuman however, requested to remain on earth as long as Rama's name was venerated by people. Sita accorded Hanuman that desire, and granted a boon that his image would be installed at various public places, so he could listen to people chanting Rama's name. From then on, he has bec…

Chiranjeevi 1 - Ashwatthama

1. Ashwatthama - Ashwatthama is the son of Drona, the teacher of Kauravas and Pandavas. He was named Ashwatthwama because as soon as he was born he started neighing like a horse, and "Ashwa" means horse.

Ashwatthama fights along side his father for Duryodhana in the Great War. He has committed 3 sins in the course of time:

Murder of a child by unfair means: Ashwatthama is one of the six maharathis (great warriors) who killed Abhimanyu, a single child in an unfair and heinous fight. Six great warriors surround one boy, attack from all sides, and keep hammering him even after he loses his weapons and becomes defenseless. (Karna attacks him from behind and breaks his bow – apparently Karna’s most shameful crime in the epic). Participating in this murderous act is Ashwatthama’s first sin.Genocide -- Killing of innocent people in their sleep: On the 18th day of the Great War, after Duryodhana is defeated by Bhima in a single combat and when he is laying in his own blood, the three …

The Eight Chiranjeevis - Part 0

The Chiranjeevis ( चिरंजीवी )
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Among all the minor characters in the Douglas Adam's 'Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy' series, Wowbagger the infinitely prolonged is perhaps the wittiest. Wowbagger, the story goes, is one of the universe's small population of 'immortal beings', although he was not born this way. He is an alien who becomes 'immortal' and keeps living on and on, due to an accident with an irrational particle accelerator, a pair of rubber bands and a liquid lunch.

But unfortunately for Wowbagger, the exact conditions of the experiment mentioned above could never be understood. So anyone who tried to replicate it ended up either looking stupid or being dead or both.

The story goes on about his predicament -- Since he is not born this way, unlike other immortals, he does not know how to handle being immortal. He eventually comes up - and this is the best part - with a plan to keep himself busy: he will insult eve…

Devavrata becomes Bhishma

Devavrata becomes Bhishma
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We all know this story - Devavrata, the son of Shantanu and Ganga was slated to be the king of Hastinapur after his father. But fate had something else in store. Shantanu goes game hunting one day, gets attracted to the aroma from a fishergirl - hence called Matsyagandha (although I cannot personally imagine how someone can get attracted to the smell of fish! ... I mean you can eat it, but smell it? ... tsk, tsk!) - also called Satyavati. He follows her and asks her father for her hand.

Satyavati's father is worried that the king is doing this all in the spur of the moment, and very soon his daughter will be reduced to nothing but a part of the king's harem - maybe just a handmaiden - and will never be the queen anyway. So he does what a father would do - ensure that his girl's future is secure. He tells Shantanu that he can marry his daughter only if he promises that Satyavati's sons will be heirs of the th…

An Akshauhini of a Fighting Force

What is an Akshauhini?
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The word 'Akshauhini' - as a unit of size of an army - is used generously in Mahabharata. The Great War was fought between Pandavas and Kauravas -- with Pandavas commanding 7 Akshauhinis, and Kauravas managing to garner 11 Akshauhinis in their command -- a total of 18 Akshauhinis.

Pandava Army and their Allies:
Satyaki of the Vrishni clan - 1 AkshauhiniYuyudhana - 1 AkshauhiniDhrishtaketu, king of Chedis - 1 AkshauhiniJayatsena, son of Jarasandha - 1 Akshauhini (from Magadha) -- Same Jarasandha, who was slain by Arjuna and Bhima earlier, but the boy sided with his father's killers!Drupada with his sons - 1 AkshauhiniVirata the king of Matsya - 1 AkshauhiniAssorted allies - 1 Akshauhini (Pandya etc.)Total 7 Akshauhinis. This army of Allies was more or less for all of 18 days of war commanded by Dhrishtadyunma, son of …

Invoking Lord Ganesh

Invoking Lord Ganesh
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It is said that Janamejaya जनमेजय - the son of Parikshit (Arjun's grandson and son of Abhimanyu - Uttara) asked Vaishampayan, the disciple of the great sage Vyasa to narrate to him the story of Pandava's win over Duryodhana - which Vyasa had simply called 'Jay' but which later became more popular by the name 'Mahabharata' । Now, originally, when he decided to compose it, the sage Vyasa was faced with a practical difficulty. The thoughts came to his mind so fast that he could not put them on paper (papyrus, for purists) in time and in a structure. He needed someone to help him in this task. So he prayed to Lord Ganesh गणेश, the god of wisdom.

As he was invoked, Ganesh appeared before Vyasa. When he told Ganesh his predicament and asked for help, Ganesh said that he will be Vyasa's scribe and take down the story. (As Neeraj - a colleague mentions - this is indeed where 'Outsourcing' as a concept to…