Puraan | 4-Shiv Puraan
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Romharshan and The Other Sages
There were many sages who lived in a forest named Naimish Aranya. One day, these sages accosted Romharshan Jee and said, "Romharshan Jee, You are blessed. You have taught us a lot, but we are still not satisfied. You have had the fortune of studying under Ved Vyaas and there is nothing that you do not know, past, present or future. Tell us about Shiv, we do not know very much about Shiv." Romharshan replied, "I will relate to you that which you want to know. And I am not going to make anything up. Many years ago, the sage Naarad had wanted to find out about Shiv from his father Brahmaa Jee. Whatever Brahmaa Jee had instructed his son. I am going to relate to you.
Brahmaa Jee said - "At the beginning of Creation, there was nothing in the Universe. Even the Universe was not there either. It was only the Brahm (divine essence) which was everywhere. The Brahm was neither hot nor cold, neither thick or thin. It had no beginning and no end. There was water everywhere. Lord Vishnu manifested himself in His great form and slept on the water. While Vishnu was sleeping, a lotus flower (Padm) sprouted from his navel. It had many petals and its stem shone like a thousand suns. From the cells of the lotus flower was born Brahmaa. He began to wonder, there seems to be nothing around except for this lotus. Who am I? Where did I come from? What am I supposed to do? Whose son am I ? Who made me?
Brahmaa thought he might find the answers to these questions if he explored the lotus a bit, so maybe he ought to try and find the center of the lotus. Brahmaa descended down the stem of the lotus and wandered around for a hundred years. But he could not find the flower's center. He then decided to go back to the cell from where he had been born. But despite wandering around the stem for another hundred years, Brahmaa could not find the cell. By then he was so tired that he gave up and rested.
Suddenly he heard the words, "Brahmaa, perform Tapasyaa (meditation)". Brahmaa meditated for twelve years. When the twelve years were over, the four-armed Vishnu appeared before Brahmaa. In His four hands Vishnu held a Shankh (conch shell), a Chakra (a bladed discus), a Gadaa (mace) and a Padm. Brahmaa didn't know who this person was and he asked, "Who are you?" Vishnu didn't directly answer the question, instead, he replied, "Son, The great Lord Vishnu has created you." "Who are you to call me a son?" demanded Brahmaa. "Can't you recognize me?" came the reply, "I am Vishnu. It is from my body that you have been created." But Brahmaa was not convinced. He began to fight with Vishnu.
While they were thus engaged in fighting, a shining Ling (Shiv's image) appeared on the scene. It seemed to have no beginning or end - just a tall column. Vishnu said - "Brahmaa, Let us stop fighting. There is a third being here now. What on earth is this Ling? And where did it come from? Let us try and find out what this is. You adopt the form of a swan (Hans) and go up. I shall adopt the form of boar (Varaah) and go down. Let us try and find the extremities of this Ling." Brahmaa agreed. He became a white swan and flew up. Vishnu became a white boar and went down.
They looked for 4,000 years, but could not find the end of the Ling. So they returned to where they had started off from and began to pray. They prayed for a hundred years. After the hundred years were over, the sound of Aum was heard and a being with five faces and ten arms appeared before them. This was Mahaadev or Shiv. Vishnu said, "It is good that Brahmaa and I were fighting and because of our fight you appeared. Shiv replied, "We are all three parts of the same entity and have been divided into three. Brahmaa is the creator, Vishnu is the preserver and I am the destroyer. There is another being named Rudra who will be born form my body, but Rudra and I are really one and the same. Let Brahmaa create now." After saying this Shiv disappeared and Brahmaa and Vishnu gave up their forms of a swan and a boar.
There was water everywhere. In the water, Vishnu created a huge egg (And). He then himself entered the egg in His huge form. Meanwhile, Brahmaa started to pray. From the powers of his meditation he created several sages (Rishi). Kardam, Daksh and Mareechi were among them. Mareechi's son was Kashyap. Daksh had 60 daughters. Thirteen of them were married to Kashyap Jee. The children of Kashyap and these daughters (Aditi) became Aaditya (gods), Daityas (demons) from Diti, and Daanav (demons), trees, birds, snakes, mountains, creepers etc from other wives. Thus the world was populated.
A being named Rudra, who was none other than Shiv himself, was also born from Brahmaa. Rudra lived on Mount Kailaash. Daksh's daughter Satee was married to Rudra. But Daksh and Rudra did not like each other. Daksh arranged a Yagya (sacrifice) and he did not invite Rudra to attend this sacrifice. Although Satee was not invited either, still she went to attend the ceremony. But Daksh insulted her so much that Satee gave up her life in protest. This so angered Rudra that he sent his companions to destroy the sacrifice, disrupt the ceremony, and kill all the gods who had gone to attend it. This was done. But Rudra was subsequently pacified and brought the dead gods back to life. The sacrifice was completed. Satee herself was reborn as the daughter of the mountain Himaalaya and his wife Mainaa. She was known as Paarvatee and she was again married to Rudra or Shiv.
There was an Asur (demon) named Taar. Taar's son was Taarak. Taarak wished to defeat the gods. He therefore went to a place named Madhu Van and began to perform very difficult Tapasyaa. He gazed at the Sun and stood there with his arms raised. He stood on one leg and that too, only on the toes of his foot. A hundred years passed. For those hundred years, Taarak drank only water and did not eat any food. For the next hundreds, he gave up the water also and lived only on air. Another hundred years were spent in performing Tapasyaa inside water, another hundred years on earth and a hundred years more inside fire. For a hundred years he performed Tapasyaa upside down, standing on his hands. And for yet another hundred years, he hung upside down from the branches of a tree.
This Tapasyaa was so difficult that Brahmaa was very pleased with him. He appeared before Taarakaasur and said - "I am very pleased with your Tapasyaa. What boon do you want?" "If you are pleased," replied Tarakaasur, "grant me two boons. The first boon should be that no one created by you should be as strong as me. The second boon should be that I should be killed only by Shiv's son." Shiv at that point of time had no sons. Satee had died and although she had been reborn as Paarvatee, she had not been even married to Shiv. Brahmaa granted Taarakaasur the two boons he asked for.
The demon went to a city named Shonit Pur and began to live there. All the other demons made Taarakaasur their King. Thanks to the boon. Taarakaasur was so strong that he easily defeated all gods. He conquered the three worlds and drove the gods out of the Heaven. He snatched all their belongings and employed the gods as his servants. The despondent gods went to Brahmaa and asked him to find a solution to the Taarakaasur problem.
"I can't," said Brahma, "It is because of my boon that the demon has become so powerful. Besides, my boon says that Taarakaasur can only be killed by Shiv's son only. Shiv has got to have a son to kill him. He is now performing Tapasyaa in the Himaalaya mountains. Paarvatee is also in that region. Do something so that these two fall in love with each other and marry.
The Burning of the God of Love-Kaam Dev
The gods decided to follow Brahmaa's advice. But how they could it be sure that Shiv and Paarvatee would fall in love with each other? The King of the gods was Indra and the god of love was Kandarp or Madan. So Indra summoned Kandarp and said to him - "You have to help us. There is no other way out. Shiv is performing Tapasyaa in the Himaalaya. Paarvatee is also in the region. Make sure that the two fall in love. That is your job." Kandarp went to the place where Shiv was meditating. And as soon as the god of love appeared, the place took on the traits of a spring which was perennial. Flowers bloomed and bees buzzed among the flowers. Cuckoos sang and fragrant breeze started to waft through the forest. Shiv tried to concentrate on his meditation. But he kept getting distracted.
While all this was going on, who should arrive there but Paarvatee? She was so beautiful that Shiv was smitten with love for her. Paarvatee also seemed to like Shiv. But life is never simple. Shiv was, after all, Shiv. He realized that something was wrong. How could his meditation have been disturbed? How was it that the season seemed to be spring although there was no time to be spring? When Shiv glanced around, his eyes fell on Kandarp who was hiding. He realized that it was Kandarp who was responsible for all this mischief. Shiv got very angry. He had a third eye in the middle of his forehead. From this third eye flames sprouted and these flames burnt Kandarp to ashes.
Kandarp's wife was Rati. When Rati saw that her husband had been burnt to ashes, her grief knew no bounds. At first she lost consciousness. When she recovered, she lamented - "Woe is me. What is going to happen to me? My husband, my love, where have you gone?" The gods and Rati sought out Shiv. They explained that it was not the fault of Kandarp. He had been asked to disturb Shiv's Tapasyaa because of the Taarakaasur problem. What would happen to Rati now? Shiv replied - "What has happened has happened. Nothing can be done about Kandarp now. He will eventually be born in the city of Dwaarakaa as Krishn's son Pradyumn. Rati will then be reunited with Kandarp, but till such time, let her simply wait." The gods dispersed, still despondent. The matter of Shiv and Paarvatee's marriage had not progressed at all.
But Paarvatee had fallen in love with Shiv and she didn't know what she could do about it. She thought of Shiv all the time. One day the sage Naarad came and told her that Shiv is only pleased with Tapasyaa. Without Tapasyaa, even Brahma and the other gods do not get to see Shiv, so she also perform Tapasyaa? Paarvatee decided to do what Naarad asked her to do. She asked her parents for permission. Her father agreed with alacrity, although her mother Menaka was not at all keen that Paarvatee should perform difficult Tapasyaa, but she too eventually agreed.
Paarvatee gave up her jewelry and handsome clothes. She wore deerskin instead. There is a peak in the Himaalaya known as Gauree Shikhar. It is there that Paarvatee went for her Tapasyaa. The meditation was very difficult. During the monsoon Paarvatee meditated while seated on the ground. In the winter she mediated under the water. Wild beasts dared not harm her. All the gods and sages assembled to see this wonderful Tapasyaa. The gods and the sages also began to pray to Shiv - "Lord, can't you see that Paarvatee is performing difficult Tapasyaa? They asked. No one has meditated like this before. No one will meditate like this in the future. Please grant her what she wants."
Shiva adopted the form of an old Braahman (the first of the four classes) and appeared at Parvatee's hermitage. Paarvatee welcomed the old man and worshipped him with flowers and fruits. "Why are you meditating?" asked the Braahman, "What is it that you want?" "I wish to have Shiv as my husband," replied Paarvatee. "You are indeed stupid," said the Braahman, "That is like giving up gold for a piece of glass or giving sandalwood for mud. Does anyone give up the water of the Gangaa and drink water from a well instead? Marry one of the gods instead, go and marry Indra. Shiv is a stupid fellow. He has three eyes and five faces. His hair is matted and his body is smeared with ashes. He wears snakes as garlands. He is always accompanied by ghosts, He has no clothes and no wealth. No one knows who his parent are. He lives in the forest and his throat is blue with poison. I think you are making a big mistake. Forget about Shiva and don't waste your life."
The Braahman's words angered Paarvatee. "It is you who are stupid," she said. "You don't know a thing about Shiv. He is the lord of everything. You have insulted Shiv and cursed I am that I made the mistake of worshipping you. You are again going to say something nasty about Shiv. But before you can do that, let me go away. I shall not stay to hear Shiv's insult." As Paarvatee was about to depart, Shiv adopted his own form and said - "Where are you going? I thought that you were praying for me. You can't forsake me now. I am not going to let you go. Ask for a boon." "Please marry me according to the prescribed rites," replied Paarvatee. Shiv agreed and Paarvatee returned home.
The Marriage of Shiv and Paarvatee
Shiv called the seven great sages (Sapt Rishi) and asked them to go to Himaalaya as his messengers. The message was that he wished to marry Himalaya's daughter Paarvatee. Himaalaya was delighted to see the sages and even more delighted to learn that Shiv wanted to marry Paarvatee. A date was fixed for the marriage.
The day of the marriage dawned. Gandharv (singers of Heaven) sang and Apsaraa (dancers of Heaven) danced. All the gods came to Kailaash to accompany Shiv on the procession. Himaalay had also got ready. He had built many gates in front of his house and had placed flags on them. The beauty of Himalaya's residence at that time is impossible to describe. When Shiv's procession arrived at the residence, Paarvatee's mother Menaka rushed out, "Let me see Shiv," she exclaimed, "Let me see my son-in-law. My daughter Paarvatee has performed Tapasyaa to obtain Shiv as a husband. He must be exceedingly handsome."
The first person Menakaa saw was Vishwaavasu, the King of the Gandharv. Vishwaavasu was very handsome and, at first, Menakaa thought that this was Shiv. But when she was told that he was only a singer who entertained Shiv, she thought that Shiv must be more handsome than him. Then her eyes fell down on the handsome Kuber, the god of wealth, and she thought that this had to be Shiv. Kuber was more attractive than Vishwaavasu. But Menakaa was told that he was not Shiv either. Then came Varun, more attractive than Kubera. But this was not Menakaa's son-in-law. Nor was her son-in-law the great god Yam, handsomer than Varun. The handsome gods Indra, Soorya and Chandra passed by, but Naarad told Menakaa that these were not Shiv, they were simply Shiv's servants. Menakaa's joy knew no bounds. If these were the servants, what was the master going to be like? She mistook Brahmaa, Vishnu and Brihaspati for Shiv, and each time Naarad told her that she was wrong. Where then was Shiv?
Finally Shiv came and Naarad pointed him out to Menakaa. At the sight of her son-in-law, Menaka fell unconscious. Shiv was surrounded by ghosts on all sides. The faces were fierce, their complexions were dark and they made a tremendous racket. Shiv himself rode on bull. He had three eyes, five faces and ten arms. He was smeared with ashes and the Moon adorned his forehead. He was dressed in a tiger's skin and a garland of skulls hung around his neck. No wonder Menakaa fainted.
When she recovered, she began to lament. She scolded Himaalaya, Naarad and Paarvatee for her misfortune. Brahmaa, the other gods, and the sages tried to pacify Menakaa. But to no avail. "I will not permit my daughter to be married to Shiv," Menaka said, "I will give her poison instead. I will throw her into a well and kill her. I will chop her up into pieces with a weapon. I will hurl her into the sea. I will kill myself. I will get Paarvatee married to someone else, not to Shiv." Paarvatee resolved, I shall not marry anyone other than Shiv. Is a jackal a fit replacement for a lion?"
Vishnu then tried to pacify Menakaa. But this did not succeed either. Finally Naarad asked Shiv to display his beautiful form and Shiv obliged. This form is exhibited only to those who are very faithful to Shiv. Everyone was charmed by this beautiful form, even Menakaa. His body shone like a thousand suns and a crown sparkled on his head. His clothes glittered and the lustre of his jewels put the stars to shame. Menaka begged forgiveness for her foolishness and now there were no further obstacles to the marriage. Under Brahmaa's supervision, the marriage ceremony took place and Shiv and Paarvatee returned to Kailaash.
Birth of Kaarttikeya
Shiv and Paarvatee's son was Skand or Kaarttikeya. When the baby was very small, it got lost in some reeds. Six princesses discovered the baby in the reeds and each wanted to bring up the baby as her own son. All of them finally cooperated in bringing up the body. These princesses were the Krittikaa and that is how the boy came to be known as Kaarttikeya. The gods got to know from Naarad that Kaarttikeya had been brought up by the Krittikaa. They came and appointed Kaarttikeya their army general. The army of gods then invaded Taarakaasur's city Shonit Pur. A terrible fight raged for ten days. The gods completely decimated the demons and Kaarttikeya killed Taarakaasur. After the victory celebrations were over, Kaarttikeya was restored to his parents.
Taarakaasur had three sons named Vidyunmaalee, Tarakaakshya and Veeryavaan. These three sons of Taarak began to perform Tapasyaa. For a hundred years they meditated standing only on one leg. For a thousand more years they lived on air and meditated. They stood on their heads and meditated in this posture for yet another thousand years. Brahmaa was pleased at this difficult Tapasyaa. He appeared before them and asked - "What boon do you want?" "Make us immortal," answered Taarakaasur's sons. "I can't make you immortal," replied Brahmaa, "I don't have the power. Ask for something else instead." "Very well, then," said Vidyunamaalee Tarakaakshya and Veeryavaan, "Grant us the following. Let three forts be made. The first will be of gold, the second of silver and the third of iron. We will live in these forts for a thousand years. At the end of the thousand years, the forts will become one. This combined fort will be called Tripur. And it anyone can then destroy Tripur with only a single arrow, that shall be the death destined for us."
Brahma readily granted this rather unusual boon. There was a Daanav named Maya who was very good at building work. Brahmaa asked him to build the three forts for them. The golden fort was built in heaven, the silver one in the sky and the iron one on earth. Taarakaakshya got the golden fort, Veeryavaan the silver one and Vidyunmaalee the iron one. Each of the forts was as big as a city and had many palaces and Vimaan (spaces vehicles) inside. The demons populated the three forts and began to flourish.
The gods did not like this at all. They first went to Brahmaa, but Brahma said he could not help them. After all, the demons had got Tripur, thanks to his boon. The gods then went to Shiv for help. But Shiv said - "Demons are doing nothing wrong. As long as that was the case, he did not see why the gods were so bothered." Then the gods went to Vishnu. Vishnu's suggestion was as follows, "If the problem is that the demons are doing nothing wrong, the solution is to persuade them to become sinners." So out of his powers Vishnu created a man. This man's head was shaven, his clothes were faded and he carried a wooden water-pot in his hands. He covered his mouth with a piece of cloth and approached Vishnu and asked Him "What are my orders?"
"Let me explain to you why you have been created," replied Vishnu, "I will teach you a religion that is completely against the Ved. You will then get the impression that there is no Swarg (Heaven) and no Narak (Hell) and that both Heaven and Hell are on Earth. You will not believe that rewards and punishments for deeds committed on Earth are meted out after death. Go to Tripur and teach the demons this religion, which will dislodge them from their righteous path. Then we will do something about Tripura." The being did as he had been asked to. He and four of his disciples went to a forest that was near Tripur and began to preach. They were trained by Vishnu himself. Therefore, their teachings were convincing and they had many converts. Even the sage Naarad got confused and was converted.
In fact, it was Naarad who carried news of this wonderful new religion to king Vidyunmaalee. "O King," he said, "there is a wonderful new teacher with a wonderful new religion. I have never heard before. I myself have got converted." Since the great sage Naarad had got converted, Vidyunmaalee also accepted the new religion. And in due course, so did Taarakaakshya and Veeryavaan too. The demons gave up revering the Ved, they stopped worshipping Shiv's Ling. Vishnu and the other gods then went to Shiv and began to pray to him. When Shiv appeared, they told him that the demons had now become evil and should be destroyed. They had even stopped worshipping Shiv's Ling.
Shiv agreed to destroy Tripur. Vishwakarmaa was the architect of the gods. Shiv called Vishwakarmaa and asked him to make a suitable chariot, bow and arrow. The chariot was made entirely out of gold. Brahmaa himself became the charioteer and the chariot was speedily driven towards Tripur. The gods accompanied Shiv with diverse weapons.
By then a thousand years had passed so that the three forts had become a single Tripur. Shiv instilled a divine weapon known as Paashupat into his arrow and shot it at Tripur. The arrow burnt up Tripur into ashes in a split second. While the celebrations were going on, the shaven-heads religious teachers arrived. "What are we supposed to do now?" they asked. Brahmaa and Vishnu told them to go and live in the desert. The last of the four eras was Kali Yug and in Kali Yug, evil would reign supreme. When Kali Yug would arrive, they were to come back and begin their teaching afresh.
Seetaa and the Ketakee Flower
Romharshan Jee told the assembled sages, "It is easy to please Shiv. But Shiv must never be worshipped with a Ketakee or a Champaka flower." "Why? What is wrong with these flowers?" asked the sages. "Let me tell you about the Ketakee flower first," replied Romharshan Jee.
Raam's father Dasharath asked Raam to spend fourteen years in the forest. So Raam went to the forest with his brother Lakshman and his wife Seetaa. The three of them started to live on the banks of the river Falgu. News reached the forest that Dasharath had died in their absence and a Shraaddh (funeral) ceremony had to performed for the dead King.
Raam sent Lakshman to a nearby village to get the necessary ingredients. Time passed and Lakshman did not return. Raam then went to get the ingredients and look for Lakshman. But Raam too did not return. It was almost noon and the ceremony had to be performed before noon. In desperation, Seetaa decided to perform the ceremony herself. She went and bathed in the Falgu river and lit an earthen lamp. She then made the offerings (Pind) to the dead ancestors herself. Immediately, a voice was heard. "Seetaa, you are blessed. We are satisfied." In utter amazement Seetaa watched some disembodied hands appear in the air to accept the offerings.
"Who are you?" Asked Seetaa. "I am your dead father-in-law," answered the voice. "The funeral ceremony has been successful. I have accepted your offerings." "But are Raam and Lakshman going to believe me?" asked Seetaa. "They will never believe that such disembodied hands appeared out of thin air to accept the offerings." Answered the voice - "They have to. You have four witnesses, the first is the Falgu river, the second is the cow over there, the third will be the fire, and the last one will be the Ketakee bush."
Raam and Lakshman returned and said, "Cook the food quickly. There is very little time left now for the offering. We have to complete the funeral ceremony before noon." Seetaa told them what happened, and naturally, the two brothers did not believe Her. They made fun of Her and suggested that She was lying. Seetaa called upon Her four witnesses, but each denied that it had seen anything. Without arguing any further, Seetaa cooked the food and Raam made offerings to his ancestors. A voice was then heard from the sky - "Why are you calling us again? Seetaa has already satisfied us." Raam said - "I refuse to believe that." The voice said - "Indeed, it is true. Ask the Sun god." The Sun god confirmed that everything had happened just as Seetaa had said it.
Raam and Lakshman were ashamed that they had doubted Seetaa and were also impressed with the power of Her virtue. But Seetaa cursed the four false witnesses. She cursed the Falgu river that it would henceforth only flow underground. She cursed the Ketakee flower (pandanus odoratissimus) that it would never be accepted by Shiv as an offering. She cursed the cow that its mouth would henceforth become impure. It had, after all, lied with its mouth. The hind sections of the cow would however continue to be pure. And finally Seetaa cursed the fire that it would consume everything indiscriminately. That is the reason why a Ketakee flower must never be used to worship Shiv.
Naarad and the Champak Tree
Nor must a Champak flower be used. In the land of Gokarn there was a temple dedicated to Shiv. Once Naarad decided to go and visit the temple. On the way, he saw a flowering Champak tree. He stopped there to admire it. A Braahman came there to pluck flowers from the tree. But seeing that Naarada was there, the Braahman refrained from plucking any flowers. Naarad asked - "Where are you going?" The Braahman lied and replied - "To beg some alms." Naarad went to the temple. Meanwhile, the Braahman plucked the flowers from the Champak tree and placed them in a basket that he covered up well. Naarad met the Braahman again on his way back from the temple.
He asked the Braahman - "Where are you going now?" The Braahman lied again, "Home. I could not get any alms." Naarad's suspicions were aroused. He went to the Champak tree and asked, "Has that Braahman plucked any flowers here?" The tree asked - "What Braahman? I don't know of any Braahman. No one has plucked any flowers here." Naarad went back to the temple and discovered fresh Champak flowers lying there on top of the Shiv Ling. There was another devotee praying there. Naarad asked him, "Do you know who came to worship with these Champak flowers?" "Yes, I do. It is an evil Braahman. He worships Shiv every day with these Champak flowers. Thanks to Shiv's blessings. He has completely brainwashed the King and has secretly been stealing the King's wealth. He also oppresses other Braahman." Naarad asked Shiv, Why do you encourage such evil?" "I am helpless," replied Shiv. "I cannot resist it if someone worships me with Champak flowers."
Just then, a Braahman woman came running with her tale of woe. Her husband was crippled. But they had managed to get some money from the king so that their daughter could be married. They had also received a cow from the king. But the evil brahmana was claiming that half of whatever they had received was his. It was due to his good offices that the king had been so generous, he was saying. The evil Braahman had already appropriated half of the money. But how was a cow to be divided?
Naarad then decided that something needed to be done about the champaka tree and the evil Braahman. Apart from everything else, the Champak tree was a liar. Naarad cursed the Champak tree that its flowers would never be accepted by Shiv as an offering. He cursed even the evil Braahman that he would be born as a Raakshas (demon) named Viraadh. But the Braahman had been a devotee of Shiv. So the curse was qualified by the stipulation that Viraadh would be killed by Raam and would then again become a Braahman.
The door to Paarvatee's place was guarded by two of Shiv's companions, Nandee and Bhringee. But Paarvatee's companions, Jayaa and Vijayaa, didn't like this at all. They thought that there should be a guard who would be answerable to Paarvati rather than to Shiv. It was Paarvatee's place, not Shiv's. Moreover, Shiv was in the habit of walking in at awkward moments, and Nandee and Bringee never stopped Shiv from coming like this, so Jayaa and Vijayaa asked Paarvatee to do something about this.
Paarvatee took some clay of a pond and fashioned the clay into a very handsome boy. She dressed the boy in beautiful clothes and jewelry. He was named Ganesh. Paarvatee told Ganesh, "You are my son. Stand at the gate and do not allow anyone to enter." Ganesh picked up a rod and began his duty as sentry. Paarvatee went to have a bath. Soon Shiv turned up with his companions. "Where are you going?" asked Ganesh, "You cannot pass. My mother is having her bath." "I am Shiv", answered Shiv. "Who is Shiv?" retorted Ganesh. I don't know of any Shiv. You cannot go in."
Shiv tried to ignore Ganesh and enter, but Ganesh started to beat Shiv with the rod. Shiv then asked his companions to remove this upstart. But they only got thrashed by Ganesh in the process. Nandee tried to grasp Ganesh's one leg and Bhringee the other one, but Ganesh uprooted a wooden door and beat them so hard that they fled. The gods and the sages all came to see what the uproar was about.
Shiv told Brahmaa, "Why don't you try to pacify that creature?" Brahmaa advanced to reason with Ganesh, but Ganesh didn't know Brahmaa either. He thought that this was another one of Shiv's companions. He therefore grabbed Brahmaa and tore off Brahmaa's beard by the handful. Brahmaa fled in pain.
This had become a matter where Paarvatee felt her pride to be at stake. So she kept Ganesh supplied with weapons. The gods attacked Ganesh with all sorts of weapons, but he drove them back. Vishnu told Shiv, This fellow can only be killed with some trickery, otherwise, he seems to be invincible. Ganesh flung a mace at Vishnu and hurt him considerably. He struck down Shiv's bow with another mace. Vishnu and Ganesh then began to fight, with the Sudarshan Chakra being used by Vishnu and maces by Ganesh. While this duel raged, Shiv crept up stealthily from behind and cut off Ganesh's head with his Trishool (trident). This was the trickery that Vishnu had planned for.
When Paarvatee learnt of Ganesh's death, her ire was roused. She got ready to destroy the universe and everyone was alarmed. Naarad was sent to Paarvatee as a messenger. He was to try to pacify Paarvatee. But Paarvatee agreed to relent only if two conditions were satisfied. The first condition was that Ganesh should be brought back to life, the second condition was that Ganesh should be accepted as a god and should enjoy all Divine rights.
These conditions were readily accepted. Ganesh's headless body was cleaned and bathed. But the head could not be found. It got lost in the heat of the battle. Shiv sent his companions out with the head of the first living being that they saw. This happened to be an elephant with one tusk. The elephant's head was stuck onto Ganesh's body and Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiv combined their powers to bring back life to the dead body of Ganesh.
Shiv accepted Ganesh as his son. He also made Ganesh the Lord of all his companions, the Gan, that is why Ganesh is called Ganapati. It was also decreed that worship to any god would be useless unless it was preceded by prayers to Ganesh. Chaturthee tithi is the fourth lunar day. Krishn Paksha is that part of the lunar fortnight during which the Moon wanes. Since Paarvatee created Ganesh in the month of Kaarttik and on Chaturthee Tithi in Krishn Paksha, that is the day on which Ganapati is worshipped.
Ganesh and Kaarttikeya Quarrel
Shiv and Paarvatee now had two sons, Ganesh and Kaarttikeya. Both sons wanted to get married. And Shiv and Paarvatee found it difficult to decide who should be married first. The other one was bound to feel hurt. Both the sons were equally dear to them. They decided to have a test. They called Ganesh and Kaarttikeya to them and said, "We have devised a competition. Both of you have to travel around the world and return here. Whoever returns first will be married first. That should be fair and square."
As soon as these words were out, Kaarttikeya dashed out on his journey. But Ganesh tarried and pondered. He realized that this was a task that was impossible for him to accomplish. He found it difficult enough to travel even a couple of miles. At last Ganesh found a solution. First, he bathed, then, he made Shiv and Paarvatee sit on two seats. He worshipped them and circled them seven times. After he finished circling them. Ganesh said, "Now please make arrangements for my wedding."
"What do you mean," exclaimed Shiv and Paarvatee. Didn't you hear what we said? We asked the two of you to travel around the world and come back. You should better hurry. Kaarttikeya has already left. If you don't take care, he will beat you to it." "But I have already been round the world seven times." replied Ganesh. "Haven't I circled the two of you seven times? The Ved say that circling one's parents is the same thing as circling the world. If you do not wish to argue that the Ved are wrong, then you have to agree that I have circled the world seven times."
Shiv and Paarvatee could not very well argue that the Ved were wrong. They therefore had to accept Ganesh's logic. Arrangements were made for his wedding. Vishwaroop, the son of Kashyap, had two daughters named Siddhi and Buddhi. These two were married to Ganesh with a lot of fanfare. Ganesh and Siddhi had a son named Laksh and Ganesh and Buddhi had a son named Laabh.
Kaartikeya returned to Kailaash after traveling around the world and discovered that Ganesh was already married and was already the proud father of two children. He heard the entire story from Naarad and felt that he had been cheated. He decided that he would no longer live with his parents. He also decided that he would never marry. That is the reason why Kaarttikeya is called Kumaar, someone who is not married. Now Kaarttikeya began to live on Mount Kraunch. Shiv goes to visit him there on the day of the New Moon (Amaavasyaa) and Paarvatee goes to visit him on the day of the Full Moon (Poornimaa).
A Ling is an image of Shiv. There are several Ling. Whichever is the place where devotees congregate, there Shiv manifests himself in the form of a Ling. However, there are twelve important Ling and these are known as Jyotirling. They are - Somnaath, Mallikaarjun, Mahakaal, Aumkaar, Kedaar, Bheem-Shankar, Vishwanaath, Tryambak, Vaidyanaath, Naagesh, Raameshwaram and Ghushnesha.
A Teerth is a place of pilgrimage. At a Teerth named Nandikeshwar, there is a famous Shiv Ling. Its story goes like this --
In a city named Karnakee there used to live a Braahman. He left his two sons with his wife and went to visit the city of Vaaraanasee. It was then learnt that the Braahman had died in Vaaraanasee. His widow brought up her sons and eventually married them off. She became old and it was time for her to die. But death would not come. It seemed to the sons that their mother was hankering after something and would not die until her wish had been satisfied. "Mother," they asked, "What is it that you want?" "I have always wanted to visit the Teerth of Vaaraanasee," the mother replied, "but now I am going to die without ever visiting the place. Promise me that when I am dead, you will take my ashes to Vaaraanasee and throw them into the river Gangaa there." "We will," said the sons, "You can die in peace." The mother died and the sons performed her funeral ceremony.
Then the eldest son, Suvaadi, set out for Vaaraanasee with his mother's ashes. The way was long and he stopped to rest and spend the night in a Braahman's house. A cow was tied in front of the house and it was time for milking. Suvaadi saw that when the Braahman tried to milk the cow, the calf would not permit the milking and kicked the Braahman. The Braahman then hit the calf with a stick. The Braahman went away after the milking. But Suvaadi was still there and and he heard the cow tell her calf, "I am distressed that the Braahman struck you. Tomorrow I am going to gore the Braahman's son to death."
Next day, the Braahman's son came to do the milking. The cow gored him with her horns so that he died. But this meant that the cow had committed the sin of killing a Braahman. Immediately, because of the sin, the white cow turned completely black. The cow left the house. Amazed at this strange sight, Suvaadi followed her. The cow went to the banks of the river Narmadaa, to the place named Nandikeshwar. She bathed in the river and became white once again. This meant that the sin of killing a Braahman had been completely washed away. Suvaadi marveled at this and realized what a powerful Teerth Nandikeshwar was.
He was about to leave for Vaaraansee after bathing in the river himself, when he was accosted by a beautiful woman. "Where are you going, Suvaadi?" asked the woman. Throw your mother's ashes in the river here. This is a far greater Teerth than Vaaraanasee." "Who are you?" asked Suvaadi. "I am the river Gangaa." came the reply. The woman vanished and Suvaadi did as he had been bidden. As soon as he had done this, his dead mother appeared in the sky and told him that she was immensely gratified. She would now go straight to Heaven. Nandikeshwar is a wonderful Teerth because a Braahman woman named Rishikaa had earlier performed very difficult Tapasyaa there to please Shiv.
There was a forest named Kaamadaa. Once it did not rain there for a hundred years. The leaves dried up and the dwellers of the forest started to suffer. The sage Atri decided that he would meditate to try and bring the rains. Atri's wife Anasooyaa also thought that she might as well perform Tapasyaa together with her husband. So both of them started to pray to Shiv and it was very difficult to decide whose Tapasyaa was more difficult. Fifty-four years passed and they meditated without eating or drinking anything.
Atri's meditation was finally over and he felt thirsty. He therefore asked his wife to go and fetch some water so that he might quench his thirst. While Anasooyaa was going to fetch the water, the river Gangaa appeared before her and said - "I am pleased with your Tapasyaa. What boon do you desire?" "If you are pleased with me," replied Anasooyaa, "please make a pond here and fill the pond with your water." Gangaa obliged Anasooyaa. Anasooyaa filled her water-pot from the pond and brought the water to her husband. Atri drank the water and found that it was far tastier than the water they were used to drink. When he asked Anasooyaa why this was so, she told him what happened. Both husband and wife came back to the pond. Anasooyaa had earned a lot of Punya (store of merit) thanks to her Tapasyaa. Gangaa agreed to stay on provided Anasooyaa handed over to Gangaa whatever Punya she had acquired in one year of her Tapasyaa. Anasooyaa agreed to her this condition. Meanwhile, Shiv appeared and offered to grant Anasooyaa a boon. Anasooyaa desired the boon that Shiva should always be present in that forest. Shiv consented to that and since then Shiv always lives there. This sacred place is known as Atreshwar Teerth.
1-Chandramaa and Somnaath
Daksh thereupon cursed Chandramaa that he would gradually fade away. Chandramaa didn't know what to do. He went and sought advice from Brahmaa Jee and Brahma Jee told him that the only recourse was to pray to Shiv. So Chandramaa went to Prabhaas Teerth and made a Ling on the banks of the river Saraswatee. He prayed to Shiv for six months. At the end of the Tapasyaa, Shiv appeared before Chandramaa and offered to grant him a boon. Chandramaa told him what his problem was. "Well," said Shiv, "Daksh's curse cannot be entirely ignored. Let us have a compromise. During Krishn Paksha you will wane, and during Shukla Paksha (the bright part of the lunar fortnight) you will wax. That should satisfy both of you."
Chandramaa was delighted to hear this. The Ling to which Chandra prayed is known as Somnaath, the first of the Jyotirling. Shiv is always present at that Teerth.
3-Dooshan and Mahaakaal
A Braahman named Vedpriya used to lived in the city of Avantee. He used to worship Shiv everyday and he had brought up his four sons also to do the same. These sons were named Devpriya, Priyamedh, Suvrit and Suvrat. Not very far away, on a hill named Ratnamaalaa, there used to live an Asur named Dooshan. Dooshan was evil, he could not stand the idea of the Ved being read and the religion prescribed in them followed. He went about destroying this righteous religion wherever he could. Dooshan got to know that in the city of Avantee lived four Braahman who followed the righteous religion and worshipped Shiv. These were Devpriya, Priyamedh, Suvrit and Suvrat. Their father Vedpriya had died by then.
Dooshan and his cohorts came and attacked the city of Avantee. They threatened to kill the four Braahman, but the brothers were not at all perturbed. They continued to pray to Shiv. They bowed in obeisance before the Ling. Suddenly a tremendous sound was heard and a pit appeared in the ground in front of the Ling. Shiv himself appeared in this pit. Dooshan was burnt into ashes from the force of Shiv's roar. And Shiv put all of Dooshan's soldiers to flight. Then those Braahman prayed that Shiv might always be present at that place and Shiv agreed to it. This is the place that is known as Mahaakaal.
4-Vindhya and Aumkaar
Naarad had once gone on a visit to the mountain Vindhya. Vindhya worshipped Naarad, but because Vindhya was slightly proud, he also said - "I am full of all the desirable objects that one can think of." "Perhaps," replied Naarad, "But Mount Sumeru is superior to you, because the gods always live there." Vindhya got jealous hearing this and he decided to become to equal to Sumeru. He began to pray to Shiv. For six months he prayed. When Shiv appeared, Vindhya desired that Shiv might always be present there so that he might become the equal of Sumeru. The Ling that Vindhya worshipped is called Aumkaar.
5-Nara-naaraayan and Kedaar
A Raakshas woman named Karkatee used to live on the mountains named Sahya. Karkatee had been married to Kumbhkarn and her son was named Bheem. One day, Bheem asked Karkatee, "Mother, whose son am I? Why do we live alone in this forest?" Karkatee said, "Let me tell you my sad story. I used to be married to the Raakshas Viraadh, but Raam killed Viraadh. Later on, Kumbhkarn came and married me here and you were born. Kumbhkarn had promised me to take me to Lankaa, but he was also killed by Raam and I never got to see Lankaa. That is the reason we live here alone. We have nowhere else to go."
Bheem was very sorry to hear this story. He resolved to avenge himself on Vishnu because he knew that Raam had been an incarnation of Vishnu. For a thousand years he prayed to Brahmaa with his hands raised up to the sky. When Brahmaa appeared, Bheem wished for the boon that he might become very strong. Brahmaa granted him this boon. The first target of Bheem's attention was the king of Kaamaroop. The king's crime was that he was devoted to Vishnu. Bheem attacked the king, stole all his belongings, conquered his kingdom and imprisoned him and his wife. He then proceeded to conquer the rest of the world.
In their prison, the king and his wife started to pray to Shiv. This news was brought to Bheem by his Raakshas guards and Bheem decided to kill the king too. He found the king praying before a Shiv Ling. When Bheem raised his sword to cut off the the king's head, Shiv appeared from the Ling and repelled the sword with his trident. Bheem flung a spear at Shiv, but this too was driven back by the trident. Whatever weapon was used by Bheem, Shiv's trident destroyed them all. Finally, Shiv killed Bheem and all his Raakshasa cohorts. The gods were gratified and they craved that Shiv might always remain in the place in the form of the Ling.7-Vishwanaath and Vaaraanasee
The seventh of the Jyotirling is named Vishwanaath and it is located in the city of Vaaraanasee or Kaashee. Vaaraanasee is a very sacred place. Brahmaa himself performed difficult Tapasyaa there. So difficult was the Tapasyaa that Vishnu shook his head in disbelief about it. When Vishnu shook his head, a jewel (Mani) fell down from Vishnu's ear (Karn). The place where the jewel fell is known as Manikarnikaa and it is a famous Teerth. Vaaraanasee is not destroyed when the rest of the world is destroyed. Shiv himself raises it on the point of his trident and protects it while destruction rages all around. When the world is re-created. Shiv replaces Vaaraanasee to its appointed place.
Shiv and Paarvatee once went to visit Brahmaa. Brahmaa began to chant hymns in Shiv's praise with all of his five mouths. One of the mouths however made mistakes in the pronunciation of the hymns. This angered Shiv and Shiv severed the offending head with a gaze of his third eye. But this effectively amounted to the killing of a Braahman and thus Shiv committed a crime. The severed head therefore got stuck to Shiv's back and would not come off, no matter where Shiv went. But when Shiv arrived in Vaaraanas, that head fell off his back. Shiv realized that Vaaraanasee was a special place so he resolved that he would always be present there.
8-Gautam and Tryambak
Normally, Gautam sent his disciples to fetch water, but the disciples complained that the wives of the other sages did not let them take the water, so Ahalyaa herself started to go there to fetch the water. The wives of the other sages annoyed and pestered Ahalyaa, but she never reacted. These wives then complained to their husbands about Ahalyaa and Gautam. At first the sages did not listen to them, but eventually, they were convinced that Ahalyaa and Gautam were wicked. They therefore sought to devise a plan so that these two might be punished. They began to pray to Ganesh. When Ganesh arrived, the sages said, "Please grant us the boon that Gautam and Ahalyaa might be banished from the hermitage." Although Ganesh realized that this was an unfair boon, he decided to grant it because he realized that the sages and their evil wives needed to be punished.
Gautam had some fields of paddy and grain. Ganesh adopted the form of a lean and starving cow and began to eat up the crop. Gautam tried to drive away the cow with a blade of grass. But as soon as he struck the cow with the blade of grass, the cow fell down and died. This was a terrible calamity. It was the killing of a cow - Gau Hatyaa. At this the other sages banished Gautam and Ahalyaa from the hermitage. Then they had to set up an Aashram (hermitage) that was a fair distance away. The other sages completely disassociated themselves from Gautam and Ahalyaa. Gautam began to think of ways of performing Praayashchit (repentence) for the crime that he had committed. The other sages told him that he would first have to travel around the world., after that, he would have to pray very hard for an entire month. The next task was to circle Brahm Parvat a hundred times and bathe in a hundred pots of water. This would complete his repentence. All this Gautama and Ahalyaa did. They also prayed for a long time to Shiv.
Shiv appeared before them and offered them a boon. Gautam desired the boon that the river Gangaa might always be present in his hermitage. Gangaa said that she would agree to it subject to the condition that Shiv and Paarvatee are also always present in the hermitage. Paarvatee and Shiv agreed to do this. This established Tryambak, the eighth of the Jyotirling. The river Gangaa which flowed there came to be known as the Godaavaree. So Tryambak is on the banks of the Godaavaree.
What happened to the evil sages and their wives? Gautam asked that they might be pardoned for their sin. They performed penance by circling Brahm Parvat one hundred and one times, and begged forgiveness from Gautam and Ahalyaa.
9-Raavan and Vaidyanaath
Shiv granted him these boons and the place where Raavan prayed is known as Vaidyanaath. The gods were not at all happy that Raavana had become so strong. They were afraid that the Raakshas might start to oppress them. They therefore sent Naarad to create some mischief. Naarad met Raavan and asked him why he was looking so happy. Raavan related the story of the boon. "Boon?" exclaimed Naarad. Who believes in Shiv? Let me see if you can lift up Mount Kailaash. If you can do that, I shall indeed believe that you have become strong."
Incited by Naarad, Raavan returned to Kailaash and lifted up the mountain. As the mountain shook, Shiv and Paarvatee were disturbed. Shiv cursed Raavan that soon a being would be born who would kill Raavan. This being was of course Raam, Vishnu's incarnation.
There used to be a Raakshas name Daaruk. His wife's name was Daarukee. They lived in a forest on the banks of the western sea. Paarvatee had granted Daarukee the boon that wherever Daarukee went, the forest would follow. Using this forest as a base, Daaruk and Daarukee began to oppress the world. They destroyed the Yagya and killed all the righteous people. In desperation, the survivors went to a powerful sage named Aurv. They told Aurv that he alone could save the world from the depredations of these Raakshas. Aurv cursed the Raakshas that if they committed any violence on earth, they would immediately die.
As soon as the gods got to know about this curse, they attacked the Raakshas. The demons were in a fix. If they did not fight with the gods, they would be slaughtered, but if they fought with the gods, they would die because of Aurv's curse. They decided that they would go and live in the ocean. Thanks to the boon that Daarukee had received from Paarvatee, the entire forest was also submerged in the ocean and became the home of the Raakshas. Now there the Raakshas lived. They did not return to earth, but they imprisoned and killed any people who traveled in boats across the ocean.
In this fashion, they once captured a Vaishya who was devoted to Shiv. The Vaishya set up a Ling in the prison and began to pray to Shiv. When the Raakshas saw this, they attacked him with weapons so as to kill him. This Vaishya's name was Supriya. Shiv gave Supriya a Paashupat Astra (Shiv's weapon). With this weapon the Vaishya killed many demons. The remaining Raakshas were saved by Paarvatee's intervention. The Ling that Supriya worshipped is Naagesh.
11-Raam and Raameshwar
Ghushnaa and Ghushneshaa
So once Sudharmaa decided to conduct an experiment. He plucked two flowers and offered them in front of a sacred fire. He mentally associated one of the flowers with having a son and asked his wife to choose a flower. Unfortunately, his wife chose the flower that was not associated with having a son. From this Sudharmaa concluded that they were not going to have a son and he did his best to console Sudehaa. But Sudehaa refused to be consoled, she was miserable. "Why don't you marry again?" Once asked Sudeha, "Perhaps you will then have a son. Marry my niece Gushnaa. "No," replied Sudharmaa, "You love her now because she is your niece. But if she does indeed have a son, you will become jealous and will come to hate her." Sudeha convinced her husband that this would never happen. So Sudharmaa married Ghushnaa. Now every day, Ghushnaa made one hundred and one Ling out of clay and worshipped them. When the day's prayers were over, she immersed the Ling in a pond. When one Laakh (100,000) Ling had thus been worshipped, Ghushnaa gave birth to a handsome boy. Shiv had taken pity on Sudharmaa and Ghushnaa.
But when the son was born, Sudehaa's nature changed. As her husband had warned her, she felt jealous with her niece Ghushnaa. She thought that Ghushnaa became more important for her husband and she was treated like a maid. So once in the middle of the night, Sudehaa slew the boy with a knife and threw the dead body into the pond. This was the pond where the Ling had been immersed.
As was her wont, Ghushnaa got up in the morning and began to worship a Ling. Blood was discovered on the bed, the boy could not be found anywhere and everyone raised the alarm. But Ghushnaa was not distracted by this racket and did not leave her prayers. Shiv was so impressed with Ghushnaa's devotion that he restored her son back to life. He also wished to kill the evil Sudehaa with his trident, but Ghushnaa begged for her aunt's life and Shiv spared Sudehaa. Ghushnaa's act of forgiveness so impressed Shiv that he wished to grant Ghushnaa another boon, apart from restoring her son. Ghushnaa desired that Shiv might always be present in a Ling near the pond. This came to be known as Ghushneshaa.
Arjun and Shiv
Arjun went to Mount Indra Kilaa. He made a Ling out of clay and started to pray to Shiv. The news of Arjun's wonderful Tapasyaa spread everywhere. Arjun stood on one leg and continually chanted the Mantra that Ved Vyaas had taught him. Suddenly, Arjun saw a boar. Arjun thought that this fierce boar might have come to distract him from his Tapasyaa. Alternatively, it might be a relative of the several demons that he had killed and therefore might wish him harm. Thinking thus, Arjun picked up his bow and arrow and let fly an arrow at the boar. Meanwhile, Shiv had decided to subject Arjun to a test and he had also arrived at the spot disguised as a hunter. So when Arjun shot his arrow at the boar, so did Shiv. Shiv's arrow struck the boar in its hindquarters and Arjun's arrow struck the boar in its mouth. The boar fell down dead.
A dispute started between Arjun and the hunter about who had killed the boar. Each claimed it for his own. They began to fight. But whatever weapons were hurled by Arjun, all thise weapons were easily repelled by Shiv. When all the weapons were exhausted, the two started to wrestle. After the fight had gone on for a while, Shiv gave up his disguise of a hunter and displayed his true form to Arjun. Arjun was ashamed that he had been fighting with the very person to whom he had been praying. "Please forgive me," said Arjun. "It is all right, Arjun." replied Shiv, "I was just trying to test you. Your weapons have been like offerings to me, you are my devotee. Tell me, what boon do you desire? Arjun wanted the boon that he might obtain glory on earth. Shiv gave Arjun his Paashupat weapon. This was such a divine weapon that its possession made Arjun invincible.
Shiva decided to test Vishnu. One day, he stole a lotus flower from the thousand flowers that were to be offered to him. When Vishnu realized that there was one lotus flower less, He gouged out His own eye and offered it in place of the missing lotus flower thinking that His eye was also like a lotus flower. Shiv was pleased with His sacifice and appeared before Vishnu. He offered to grant Vishnu a boon. "You know that the powerful demons have been oppressing the gods," said Vishnu, "I need a weapon to fight the demons with. Please give me a weapon." Shiv then gave Vishnu the Sudarshan Chakra. And with this weapon, Vishnu killed the demons.
Shiv's Thousand Names
You will notice that a few of the names are repeated so that the total number of names do not quite add up to one thousand.
Shiv Raatri Vrat
There used to be a hunter named Rurudruha. He was not at all righteous. In fact, he was quite evil and cruel. He killed many deer and he was also a robber and thief. Naturally, Rurudruha knew nothing about Shiv Raatri Vrat. But it happened so that on one day which was a Shiv Raatri day, the hunter's parents, wife and children felt very hungry. They asked Rurudruha to go and get some meat so that they might eat. The hunter went to the forest to kill deer, but could not find any. It was already evening and no game was to be seen. Rurudruha found a small pond and decided that he would keep a vigil there. Sooner or later, some animal was bound to turn up to drink water there. He climbed up onto a Bilva tree that was by the side of that pond. And in case he should feel thirsty, he kept a pot full of water next to him. There he waited, and waited, and waited.
Soon a doe turned up to drink water. The hunter picked up his bow and arrow and as he did so, the tree shook and a few Bilva leaves fell on a Ling that was right under the tree. Bilva leaves are sacred to Shiv. Some water also spilled from the pot and fell on the Ling. Rurudruha did not know this. But the doe had seen the hunter. "Don't kill me right now," said the doe, "My children and husband are at home. Let me go and bid them farewell. When I return from home, you may kill me." The hunter was in no mood to let the doe go. Does an animal return to be killed? But the doe took an oath and Rurudruha let her go.
After a short while, another doe turned up to drink water. The two does were sisters and both of them married to the same deer. As before, the hunter again took his bow and arrow to kill them, that the tree shook and again a few Bilva leaves fell on the Shiv Ling and some water spilled on the Ling. The doe saw the hunter and said, "Wait for sometime before you kill me. Let me say goodbye to my husband and children." The hunter was reluctant to let the doe go, but the second doe also took an oath that she would return. So Rurudruha decided to wait. After the does had gone, the deer turned up to drink water. And when the hunter picked up his bow and arrow, some Bilva leaves and water again fell on the Ling. The deer said, "O Hunter, let me go now. I will come back and you can kill then. I wish to bid adieu to my two wives and children." And the deer also took on oath that he would return to be killed and Rurudruha let him go.
After some time had passed, the two does and the deer came to where Rurudruha was. Each said, "Kill me and spare the others. They need to stay alive to look after the children." The baby deer had also accompanied their parents. They said, "Kill us. We don't wish to stay alive without our parents. The hunter was so surprised at these developments that the tree shook again and again some Bilva leaves and water fell on the Ling.
Shiv now took pity on Rurudruha and removed all evil thoughts from his mind. The hunter spared the deer. Shiv himself appeared before Rurudruha and said, "From now on your name will be Guha. You will be so blessed that Raam will become your guest." This story demonstrates that even if Shiv Raatri Vrat is performed unconsciously, great Punya is obtained.
Story of Vednidhi
It so happened that the same dancing girl came to the king's court to dance, and he noticed the same bangle which he gave to that Braahman, on the girl's hand. He found out about that bangle as from where she got it. The girl told him that the bangle had been given to her by Vednidhi. He took the bangle from her and called the Braahman. He said to him, "Do you remember the golden bangle that I had give you? Can you please return it to me? I need it." The Braahman did not know anything about the bangle so hurried home and asked his wife for the bangle, but it could not be found anywhere and they realized that it was Vednidhi who had stolen it. Vedanidhi was banished from his parents' house.
Now Vednidhi wandered around here and there and begged food so that he might eat. One day, he did not get any food at all. That day happened to be Shiv Raatri. But Vednidhi didn't know this. He saw several people going to Shiv's temple with all sorts of offerings, including food, in their hands. The evil Braahman thought that he might be able to steal and eat this food. He followed the devotees to the temple and waited till they fell asleep. When they had slept, Vednidhi crept up to the place where the offerings had been placed. All food was kept right in front of the Shiv Ling. It was very dark there and Vednidhi could not see very well. A lamp was burning and the shadow of the lamp fell on the Shiv Ling. Vednidhi tore off a piece of cloth from his clothing and stuffed it into the lamp so that it might burn better. The flame rose and the shadow on the Ling was removed. But when Vednidhi was about to steal the food, the devotees awoke. They gave chase to the thief and shot at him with arrows. These arrow struck Vednidhi and he died.
Yam's messengers arrived and wanted to take the evil Braahman to hell. But Shiv's messengers also arrived there and they would not permit Vednidhi to be taken to hell. The Braahman had fasted on Shiv Raatri day, he stayed awake at night and he had removed the shadow from the Ling. These were acts of the faithful, even if they had been performed unconsciously. Vednidhi's all sins were forgiven.
Why Shiv is Called Chandrashekhar
Brahmaa said, "Let us take the Moon god Chandramaa with us and make a present of him to Shiv. Chandramaa's visage is so pleasing that Shiv may feel happy and pacified. So the gods placed Chandra in a pot of Amrit (nectar). They also had another pot that was full of poison. With these two pots they went to Shiv and offered him the pots. Brahmaa said, "The gods have brought you two pots. Please accept them." Shiv first accepted the pot that contained Amrit. As soon as he did this, the crescent Moon came out and got fixed to Shiv's forehead. Next Shiv accepted the pot of poison and touched it with his middle finger. He touched his throat with the finger and his throat became blue. That is the reason why Shiv is known as Neelkanth, blue throat. And because the Moon is like a crown to Shiv, Shiv is called Chandrashekhar. At the sight of the Moon, Shiv was pacified.
Why Shiv Has Ashes on His Body?
There used to be a Braahman who was descended from the great sage Bhrigu. This Braahman began a very difficult Tapasyaa. The tremendous heat of the summer made no difference to him. Nor was he disturbed by the downpour of the monsoon. He was only interested in meditating. When he felt hungry, he used to ask the bears, the deer, the lions and the jackals to fetch him some fruits. The wild beasts had lost all fear of him, they served him instead. Later on, the Braahman gave up eating fruits also. He ate only green leaves. And because leaves are called Parn, the Braahman came to be known as Parnad. He performed Tapasyaa for many years.
One day, Parnad was cutting some grass and his scythe slipped and sliced off his middle finger. Parnad was amazed to find that no blood came out from his severed joint. Instead, a sap like that which issues from plants came out from there. Parnad's vanity knew no bounds. He realized that his was due to the fact that he had been living on green leaves for such long time. Parnad began to jump with delight. Shiv decided that Parnad needed to be taught a lesson. He disguised himself as a Braahman and came to Parnad. "Why are you so happy?" asked Shiv. "Can't you see?" replied Parnad. "My Tapasyaa has been so successful that my blood has become like the sap of plants."
Shiv said, "This sort of vanity destroys the fruits of all Tapasyaa. What have you got to be so proud about it? Your blood has only turned into the sap of plants. What happens when you burn plants? They become ashes. I myself have performed so much Tapasyaa that my blood has becomes ashes." Shiv sliced off his middle finger and some ash came out of it. Parnad was impressed to see this. He realized that there was nothing that he could be proud about; here was a far greater hermit than he. He asked Shiv who he was and Shiv then displayed his true form to Parnad. Ever since that day, there have always been ashes on Shiv's body.
Who is Nandee?
When Nandee was seven years old, two powerful sages arrived in Shilada's hermitage. Their names were Mitra and Varun. Shilada worshipped them and presented Nandee before them. The sages blessed Nandee with the words, "Be learned, be faithful to your teacher." Shilada said, "O Sages, why didn't you bless my son with a long life?" "We couldn't," replied the sages, "Your son is going to die when he is eight years old. That is written in his stars." Shilada was crestfallen to hear this, but Nandee consoled his father. He promised his father that he would do something so that this fate would have to be rewritten. He would pray to Shiv. And when he met Shiv, he would ask of him a boon.
"Meeting Shiv?" exclaimed Shilada, "I had to meditate for a thousand years before I could see Shiv. How do you expect to meet Shiv in one year time that is left to you?" "Wait and see, Father," replied Nandee, "Shiv is difficult to meet if you only perform Tapasyaa or thirst for knowledge. The secret lies in faith and devotion. I will manage."
There is a river named Bhuvan. Nandee entered that river and began underwater prayers to Shiv. His efforts pleased Shiv so much that Shiv appeared before him. "What boon do you want?" asked Shiv. "Please grant me the boon that I may be devoted to you," replied Nandee, "I don't want to be born, become old and die." Shiv granted Nandee the boon that he and his father would get to live in Shiv's residence in Shiv Lok. Shiv's companions are known as "Gan". Shiv made Nandee Ganapati - the chief of the Gan and retained him as a perpetual companion. Shiv also gave Nandee a wonderful garland to wear. As soon as he put this garland on, Nandee became resplendent with three eyes and ten hands.
The lengths of the four Yug (eras) are defined in terms of years of the gods, not in terms of human years. There are four eras and their names are Krit Yug or Satya Yug, Tretaa Yug, Dwaapar Yug and Kali Yug. Satya Yug lasts for 4,000 Divine years, Tretaa Yug for 3,000, Dwaapar Yug for 2,000 and Kali Yug for 1,000 Divine years. This adds up to ten thousand Divine years. The Sandhyaa and Sandhyaansh are the intervening periods between the Yug and these add up to 2,000 Divine years. Thus, the four Yug taken together last for 12,000 Divine years.
In a Kalp (cycle), each of the four Yug occurs a thousand times. A Kalp has 14 Manvantar (eras). In a Manvantar, each of the four Yug thus occurs seventy one times. One Kalp corresponds to one day for Brahmaa. One thousand Kalp are Brahmaa's one year and 8,000 of Brahmaa's years make Brahmaa's one Yug. One thousand such Yug make up one Savan and Brahma lives for 3,000 Savan. This period is known as a Trivrit. During each of Vishnu's days, one Brahmaa is born and dies. And during each of Shiv's days, one Vishnu is born and dies.
Daksh's daughter Satee was married to Shiv. One day, the gods, the demons and the sages went to visit Shiv and Satee in the Himaalaya. Daksh accompanied the other gods on this visit. When the gods arrived, Shiv was seated and did not get up. He showed no special honor to Daksh because Daksh happened to be his father-in-law. Daksh interpreted this as a sign of disrespect. He felt insulted. Subsequently, Daksh arranged for a Yagya and sent invitations to all his other sons-in-law and their wives. He did not invite Shiv or Satee. But Satee heard about the sacrifice and resolved that she would attend it, invitation or no invitation. So Satee traveled to her father's house in a beautiful Vimaan. Daksh was not at all pleased to see Satee. In fact, he ignored her completely and devoted all his attention to his other daughters. When Satee wished to know the reason for this, Daksh told her that this was because of her husband, who happened to be a worthless fellow and did not deserve any respect. Hearing this, Satee gave up her life.
The mountain Himalaya had prayed that Satee might be born as his daughter. So Satee was born as his daughter Paarvatee and married Shiv again. This story you already know. Several years later, Daksh resolved to hold an Ashwamedh Yagya (horse sacrifice) in the Himaalaya. The gods and the sages were all invited to this sacrifices, although Shiv was not amongst the invitees. The sage Dadheechi did not like this for Shiv and he boycotted the Yagya in protest.
Paarvatee heard about this sacrifice and she began to incite Shiv to do something. Shiv created a being named Veerbhadra. Veerabhadra shone with energy and he had thousands of mouths and eyes. His hair glistened like lighting and his hands were full of all sorts of weapons. When he spoke, it was like thunder. From his body, Veerbhadra created a female demon named Bhadrakaalee. "What are our orders?" asked Veerbhadra and Bhadrakaalee of Shiv. "Go and destroy Daksh's Yagya." was the order.
To help them in their endeavor, Veerbhadra created several other demons from parts of his body. All of them had a thousand arms and carried weapons. Veerbhadra, Bhadrakaalee and these other demons headed for Daksh's sacrifice. When they got there, they found that the sacrifice had already started and the sacred fire was burning. The sages were reciting hymns and the gods were watching. Musical instruments were being played. Veerbhadra roared and the sound of the roar was so terrible that several of the gods began to run away. The earth shook with the sound of the roar. There were tidal waves in the ocean. Daksh was also frightened. But he summoned up courage and asked, "Who are you and why have you come here?" "We are Shiv's servants and we have come to take part in the sacrifice," replied Veerbhadra.
Veerbhadra and the other demons then proceeded to burn down the structure where the sacrifice was being held. They tied up the priests and threw all the offerings away. With their weapons, they attacked the gods. Whatever resistance the gods tried to put up was taken care of by Veerabhadra's trident and Bhadrakaalee's spear. The goddess Saraswatee lost her nose and the god Agni lost his arms. The sage Bhaga had his eyes gouged out and the sage Pooshaa lost all his teeth. Veerbhadra sliced off Daksh's head and gave it to Bhadrakaalee, who proceeded to kick it around as one kicks a football. Thousand and thousands of gods died and the sacrifice became a battlefield.
Vishu tried to fight it out and he and Veerbhadra shot arrows at each other. But one of Veerabhadra's arrows struck Vishnu on the chest and he fell down unconscious. Spurred on by Brahmaa, the gods began to pray to Shiv. These prayers pacified Shiv and he asked Veerbhadra and Bhadrakaalee to refrain from causing any further damage. Brahmaa asked, "What about the gods who have been killed? Please bring them back to life." Since Shiv's anger had been appeased, he restored life to the dead gods. Those who had lost parts of their anatomy got them back again. But what was to be done about Daksh? His head could not be found, so a goat's head was therefore stuck onto Daksh's body. Thus he was restored to life. Daksh begged forgiveness of Shiv.
Paarvatee Becomes Gauree
So when Shiv next met Paarvatee, he addressed her as Kaalee. This angered Paarvatee, since Kaalee means black or dark complexioned. "Why did you marry me if you thought I was so dark?" she asked Shiv, "Why do you pretend to love me? Cursed is the woman who is not loved by her husband. I am going to perform Tapasyaa so that I may become fair. I am going to pray to Brahmaa to become fair complexioned." So Paarvatee went off to meditate. She meditated for many years. There was a tiger who saw Paarvatee meditating. He was not a good tiger, he was an evil one. He thought that Paarvatee would provide a good meal. He sat down in front of Paarvatee to appreciate for a while the treat that was in store for it. Paarvatee did not realize that the tiger was planning to eat her. She thought that he had sat down in front of her because he wanted to protect her from other wild beasts. She thought that the tiger was one of her devotees and she therefore entered the tiger's soul.
As soon as she did this, all evil thoughts vanished from the tiger's mind. Now he was indeed one of her devotees. Meanwhile, Brahmaa arrived to find out who Paarvatee was meditating on. Paarvatee said that she wanted to become Gauree, that is, someone who was fair. She was sick and tired of being addressed as Kaalee by her husband. Brahmaa granted the boon. Paarvatee shed off all the dark cells (Kosh) from her body and became Gauree. From the cells emerged a dark-hued goddess named Kaushikee. Paarvatee handed over Kaushikee to Brahmaa. Endowed with weapons by Brahmaa, Kaushikee killed Shumbh and Nishumbh and real Paarvatee returned to her husband as Gauree.
What happened to the tiger? Shiv turned him into a man and he was employed by Nandee as one of Shiv's guards. He was named Somnandee.
Then his mother taught him the Mantra that was to be used for praying to Shiv. She also taught him another Mantra which would summon up a terrible Divine weapon named Aghor Astra. This was just in case there was any danger. So Upamanyu went to the Himaalaya and started to meditate. He lived only on air and chanted the incantation that his mother had taught him. He prayed in front of an earthen Ling. Demons came to disturb his meditation, but Upamanyu paid no attention to them. Shiv himself was impressed by Upamanyu's difficult Tapasyaa, but he thought that he would test Upamanyu first.
He arrived in front of Upamanyu in the disguise of Indra and asked - "Upamanyu, what are you doing?" Upamanyu replied - "I am blessed that the king of the gods has arrived before me. I am praying to Shiv." "Shiv? Why pray to that useless fellow?" Upamanu could not stand this insult to Shiv. He summoned up Aghor Astra by means of the Mantra and let it loose at the person he thought was Indra. Shiv then manifested himself in his own form and Aghor Astra was repelled by Nandee, who had also turned up there. Shiv himself taught Upamanu all sorts of sacred knowledge, and arrangements were made so that Upamanyu need never suffer from a lack of milk.
After many years of the milk incident, once Krishn came to meet the sage Upamanyu. Upamanyu taught Krishn the words of wisdom that he learned from Shiv; he also taught Krishn to pray to Shiv. It was by praying to Shiv that Krishn obtained his son Saamb. For sixteen months Krishn had to pray before Shiv appeared, to grant the boon regarding the son. Paarvatee also granted Krishn several boons.
There was another Asur named Hiranyanetra. (In other Puraan, this same Asur is referred to as Hiranyaaksh). Hiranyanetra had no sons. He therefore began to pray to Shiv so that he might have a son. Shiv told Hiranyanetra that it was impossible for him to have a son. However, if he so desired, he could have their son Andhak and bring him up as his own son. Hiranyanetra gladly agreed to this.
Digressions on Hiranyanetra and Hiranyakashyap
Now Hiranyanetra had a brother named Hiranyakashyap. This brother prayed to Brahmaa and obtained a boon that made him virtually impossible to be killed. Armed with this boon, Hiranyakashyap conquered the three worlds and drove the gods out of the Heaven. The gods again started to pray to Vishnu for deliverance.
This time Vishnu adopted the form of a lion and entered Hiranyakashyap's capital. The lion had a huge mane and sharp teeth and claws. The lion killed several Asur and this news was brought to Hiranyakashyap. He decided to kill the lion. Hiranyakashyap had several sons, one of them was Prahlaad. Prahlaad alone thought that there was something fishy about the lion and about the way it had suddenly appeared. He thought that the lion might very well be Vishnu in disguise. Prahlaad therefore tried to dissuade his father from fighting the lion. He first asked some of his soldiers to capture the lion, but they were all killed by that lion. Hiranyakashyap then himself attacked the lion with all sorts of weapons. But all his weapons were exhausted and the demon could do the lion no harm. Finally, the lion grasped Hiranyakashyap and tore the Asur's heart out with its claws. This was Vishnu's Narasinh (half-man, half-lion) incarnation. Having killed Hiranyakashyap, Vishnu crowned Prahlaad as the king o Asur.
Andhak said - "Prahlaad and my other cousins have taken over my kingdom. Please grant me the boon that I may be able to see. Please also grant me the boon that I may not be killed by gods, demons, or humans, or even by the great Vishnu Himself." Brahmaa was in a fix. Earlier, many demons had asked for similar boons, but they had generally not mentioned Vishnu, so when the need arose, Vishnu had been able to kill them. But here was an Asur who was asking for the boon that even Vishnu would not be able to kill him. This would make him virtually immortal. So Brahmaa said - "Everything that you have asked for is possible, but all beings have to die. Indicate the circumstances under which you will die and the boons will be granted to you." Andhak said - "Since I have to die, let it be under the following conditions. If I ever wish to marry a beautiful woman who is like a mother unto me, let that be the hour appointed for my death."
This condition was better than nothing at all and Brahmaa granted Andhak the boons he desired for. Andhak returned to his kingdom. When Prahlaad and the other cousins learnt that Andhak had become so powerful because of the boons, they not only returned to him his kingdom, but their own kingdoms as well. Remember that Andhak could now see. So the first thing that Andhak did was to invade Heaven. He defeated Indra and the other gods and made they pay taxes to the demons. Next he defeated the snakes (Naag), the Gandharv, the Raakshas, the Yaksh (companions of Kuber) and the humans. Thus he began to rule over all the three worlds. For millions of years Andhak ruled in this fashion. The religion of the Ved suffered during this period, since Andhak paid no attention to it.
Once Andhak went to a visit to the Mount Mandar. The place was so beautiful that he made up his mind to live there. Three of Andhak's generals were named Duryodhan, Vighas and Hastee. These three were exploring the environment of Mount Mandar for Andhak to live, when they came upon a cave. An ascetic was meditating inside the cave. He was dressed in the skin of a tiger, wore a garland of skulls, his hair was matted and he wore a crescent moon on his forehead. There was a beautiful woman near the ascetic. She was more beautiful than any other woman in the three worlds. The three generals concluded that this was the right wife for Andhak.
When the generals came back to Andhak and reported on what they had seen, the Asur king said, "What are you waiting for? Go to the ascetic and ask him for that woman." So Duryodhan, Vighas and Hastee, all went back to the ascetic and said - "You are only an ascetic, you don't need such a pretty wife. Our master is the lord of everything and he is immensely rich. He is also handsome because of a boon received from Brahmaa. Give us this woman so that our master Andhak may marry her." Now that ascetic was Shiv himself and that beautiful woman was Paarvatee herself. He said "Ask your master to come and take the woman himself.
As soon as he heard this, Andhak grasped his sword and came to fight with Shiv. The door to the cave was guarded by Nandee, and Andhak first had to fight with him. Nandee easily defeated the Asur and also defeated the Asur soldiers who had accompanied their king, but Andhak returned and again a fight raged between him and Nandee which continued for 500 years. Brahmaa, Vishnu, Indra and the other gods also came to help in the fight with the demons.
The general Vighas was a very strong warrior. He opened his mouth wide and swallowed up all the gods, including Vishnu. So far, Shiv himself had not played any part in the fighting, but hearing what Vighas had done, he ascended his bull and came out to fight. He killed Vighas and rescued the gods from the Asur's stomach. The Asur had a preceptor named Shukraachaarya who knew the art of bringing back dead beings to life, so Shukraachaarya moved around the battlefield, brining back to life any demons that were killed. This was not helping the cause of the gods at all. Shiv's companions (gangas) captured Shukraachaarya and brought him to Shiv. Shiv promptly swallowed up Shukraachaarya.
Soon all the demons were taken care of except Andhak. He continued to fight. Vishnu's mace could do him no harm and he only laughed at Indra's arrows. Some of the arrows did pierce the Asur's body. But whenever drops of blood from his body onto the ground, Asur who were exactly like him in appearance were created from this blood. As a result, the battlefield was soon populated with thousands and thousands of Andhak.
Shiv created a goddess known as Devee from his own body. Devee was appointed the task of drinking up the blood of the Asur before it could spill onto the ground. Thus aided by Devee, Shiv started to tackle the demons and soon there was only the original Andhak left. Shiv flung a trident at him. The trident struck Andhak on the chest and the Asur king fell down dead. When the war was over, Shukraachaarya prayed to Shiv and was released from Shiv's stomach.
Story of Ruru
Paarvatee asked - "Lord, why are we running away? Why don't you do something about the fire?" Shiv said - "I can't, Paarvatee, I can't. This is not an ordinary fire. It is on account of Ruru's Tapasyaa and he is performing this Tapasyaa to marry you. It is up to you to do something about Ruru." Paarvatee decided that she would. While they were conversing, they saw a lion fighting with an elephant. Paarvatee slew the lion and skinned it. She wore the lion's pelt as clothing. Her hair became smeared with the lion's blood. Her appearance became terrible.
With a thunderous roar, Paarvatee went to where Ruru was. She said to Ruru - "Ruru, I have come. I am Paarvatee. I am the one you have been praying for. Now stop meditating." "Rubbish," replied the demon, "Paarvatee is beautiful. Her face is like Moon, her hue is golden, and her arms are like lotus stems. Just look at yourself. Your looks are terrible. You can't be Paarvatee. You are lying. Go away, I don't want you." Saying this, Ruru struck Paarvatee with a mace. Paarvatee was angry at this and she hit Ruru with her fists. The two fought, with Ruru flinging boulders and trees at the goddess. Paarvatee used her nails and her teeth to get at the demon. Ruru created several other Asur from his body. In retaliation, Paarvatee also created many goddesses known as Shakti from her body. Shakti began to eat up the demons.
Ruru fled. But Paarvatee pursued him to the ends of the earth. He fled to Heaven. Paarvatee followed him there. He fled to the underworld, but Paarvatee pursued him there as well. Finally, Ruru could flee no more. Paarvatee caught hold of him and tore off his head with her nails. She then drank the demon's blood and skinned the demon. Thus that Ruru was killed. On her return to Shiv, Paarvatee gave him the lion's pelt that she had so far been wearing and Shiv donned it. For her own clothing, Paarvatee put on Ruru's skin.
Story of the False Paarvatee
The Apasaraa meanwhile decided that they would play a trick on Shiv. So one of them should disguise herself and pretend to be Paarvatee. An Apsaraa named Chitralekhaa agreed to do this. Another Apsaraa named Urvashee disguised herself as Nandee. Another Apsaraa disguised themselves as companions of Paarvatee. So good were their disguises that it was impossible to detect them as being false. The false Nandee then brought the false Paarvatee to Shiv and said, "Paarvatee has come. Her companions, the other goddesses, have also come." Shiv was very delighted to hear this. He was not able to detect that she was a false Paarvatee. While they were having great fun, the real Parvati, the real Nandee and the real goddesses turned up and there was utter confusion. No one could tell the real ones from the false ones. Finally the mess was sorted out when the Apsaraa adopted their real forms. Neither Shiv nor Paarvatee were angry at this practical joke.
Another False Paarvatee
Now there was an Asur named Aadi. He performed Tapasyaa and wanted a boon from Brahmaa which would make him immortal. Brahmaa refused to grant him this boon, but granted him the boon that Aadi would be very strong. Happy with this boon, Aadi wandered around the Himaalaya and discovered Naadee standing guard at the gate to Shiv's palace. "What are you doing here?" asked the Asur. Nandee reported the conversation that had taken place with Paarvatee. The demon went away. But he soon returned, this time disguised as Paarvatee. Lest Nandee not let him pass, he slimed through the gate disguised as a snake. And once inside the palace, he resumed his form of Paarvatee. He then went to meet Shiv.
Shiv did not realize that this was a false Paarvatee and he came forward to embrace Aadi. But no sooner had Shiv embraced him, that the Asur adopted his own form and tried to kill Shiv. The two fought and Shiv killed Aadi. But before dying, the Asur played another trick. He told Shiv, "I have a brother who is stronger than me. He will return here in the form of Paarvatee and will kill you." This was a blatant lie. Aadi had no brother.
Now the real Paarvatee returned after finishing her Tapasyaa, but Shiv thought that this was Aadi's demon brother disguised as Paarvatee. He created many beings from his body so as to kill Paarvatee. But Paarvatee also created many beings from her own body and these beings swallowed up Shiv's beings. When this had gone on thousands of times, Shiv realized that this must be the real Paaravatee. Shiv and Paarvatee were united. There were not more false Paarvatee.
Story of Yam
There was a city named Vidishaa. Dharapaal name king was ruling there. Nandee was cursed by Paarvatee that he would have to spend twelve years on Earth as a jackal. His crime was that, when Paarvatee had gone to perform Tapasyaa, Nandee had permitted a false Paarvatee to enter Shiv's palace, so Nandee was born as a jackal. The jackal went to the confluence of the rivers Vitastaa and Vetravatee. There he set up a Shiv Ling and prayed before it, going without food and water. After the twelve years passed, the jackal died and adopted a shining form. Nandee returned to Shiv Lok in this form.
King Dharapaal had seen the jackal fasting and praying. He also witnessed its strange death. The king's wonder knew no bounds. He erected a temple in that wonderful place. He brought several Braahman to the temple and made them recite the Puraan there. When Dharapaal died, it was decided that he would go to Brahm Lok because of all this Punya. This was the first guest who had come before Yam. Such are the wonderful virtues of worshipping Shiv and the Puraan."
"What about the second guest?" asked Sanat Kumaar. "The second quest used to be evil. He had never donated anything in his life. But he once heard the Puraan being recited and was completely converted. He arranged many recitals of the Puraan on his own and donated gold to the reciters. This Punya was going to take him to Brahm Lok. Such are the wonderful virtues of hearing and reading the Puraan. Doing this is tantamount to worshipping Brahmaa, Vishnu and Shiv.
Shataaneek and Sahasraneek
"I have indeed heard that the donation of alms to Braahman brings Punya," replied Sahasraneek. I have also heard that all this Punya takes one to Heaven after death, until the time one has to be born again. Since my father accumulated all this Punya by donating alms to Braahman, he must be in Heaven. You are all learned Braahman. Why don't you tell me where my father is right now?" The Braahman could not reply. They had no idea where Shataaneek was. But later on, they met a learned sage named Bhaargav. Bhaargav was so powerful that the Braahman were sure that he would be able to tell where Shataaneek was. They begged Bhaargav to help them. Bhaargav was not very interested in helping the Braahman. He was busy meditating and had no desire to waste his time on idle pursuits like finding out where dead people now were. But the Braahman kept begging him and Bhaargav eventually agreed to find out about him.
The Sun god himself led the way and, following the Sun god, Bhaargav went all the way to Yam's abode. It was a long distance away. The Sun god led Bhaargav straight to where the 28 crores of Narak (Hells) were. The wailings of sinners who were being tortured could be heard. Before they could go any further, their way was barred by a Braahman. "Bhaargav," said the Braahman, "You owe me a coin for services rendered. You have not paid this and I am dead. Pay me the coin and only then can you proceed further."
"I am not carrying any coins on me," replied Bhaargav, "When I return home, I will collect a coin and bring it back to you. Now let me move forward." "Nonsense," said the Braahman. This is Hell. Here payments are strictly on a cash basis. There is no question of paying up later. Pay or you shall not proceed. If you do not have any coins, pay me one-sixth of all the Punya that you have earned through your mediations." Bhaargav paid what was asked for and edged forward. He was successively stopped by a cowherd, a washerman, a tailor, a priest and a builder. To each of them Bhaargav owed some money and they would not let him go until the debts were cleared. In each case, Bhaargav parted with one-sixth of his Punya so in the end he was left with none at all.
When these accounts were settled, the Sun god led Bhaargav to the hell where Shataaneek was. Bhaargav was bewildered to find such a righteous king as Shataaneek in a hell. The king was hung upside down in a pot and was being boiled in oil. Bhaargav asked Shataaneek, "What is all this? Why are you in hell? You had accumulated a lot of Punya through your righteous deeds." "Not really," replied the king, "I did donate a lot of alms, especially to Braahman, but all the money for the alms came from taxing my subjects severely, so it brought no Punya at all. Go and tell my son that Punya is best acquired by associating with righteous people. And most important of all, tell him to pray to Shiv in the month of Chaitra and on Chaturdashee Tithi (fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight)."
When Bhaargav returned, he related what he had been told to tell Sahasraneek. Sahasraneek did not stop donating alms. But the money for such alms no longer came out of the royal treasury. The king worked as a laborer and used this money for the donation of alms. He also observed the Vrat that his father had asked him to observe in honor of Shiv.
Saying this, Richeek went off to meditate in the forest. But mother and daughter managed to mix up their halves. In the course of his meditations, Richeek realized that Satyavatee was going to give birth to a Braahman son who would display Kshatriya traits. Through his powers, he managed to postpone this birth to next generation. So Satyavatee gave birth to Jamadagni. It was Jamadagni's son Parashuraam who exhibited all the Kshatriya like characteristics. Gaadhi's son was Vishwaamitra. Vishwaamitra was born as a Kshatriya, but because of the mixing up of the rice pudding, Vishwaamitra turned out to be a Brahman-like.
There was a king of the Haihaya dynasty named Arjun. He had a thousand arms. He had also obtained the boon that flaming fire itself would be perpetually present on the tip of his arrow. Whenever he shot an arrow, the fire from the tip of the arrow burnt up the target. In this fashion, Arjun used to burn up villages, cities and forests. He once burnt up the hermitages of sages. And one of the sages cursed Arjun that he would killed by Parashuraam.
Parashuraam learnt the art of fighting from Shiv himself. While Parashuraam was away learning how to fight, Arjun arrived in Jamadagni's hermitage. Jamadagni had a wonderful cow (Dhenu), known as a Kaam Dhenu because it produced whatever objects one asked (Kaam) from it. Using this Kaam Dhenu, Jamadagni treated Arjun and his entire retinue to a royal feast. Arjun asked Jamadangi to give him this cow, but the sage refused. Arjun then asked his soldiers to forcibly take away the cow. But just as this was going on, Parashuraam arrived at the scene. He killed Arjun, slicing off Arjun's thousand arms in the process.
Having disposed of Arjun, Parashuraam went off to meditate and pay another visit to Shiv. Taking advantage of Parashuraam's absence, Arjun's sons invaded Jamadagni's hermitage. There they killed Jamadagni. When Parashuraam returned, he exacted vengeance for this evil deed. He killed Arjun's sons. Since Arjun and his sons happened to be Kshatriya, Parashuraam also killed all the Kshatriya in the world. He did this not once, but twenty-one times over. Why twenty-one times? The reason was that there were twenty-one weapon-marks on the dead Jamadagni's body.
But killing was a crime and Parashuraam had committed a sin, so as a penance, Parashuraam donated cows and performed a lot of Tapasyaa. He also arranged an Ashwamedh Yagya. All this did not prove to be atonement enough. To complete the penance, Parashuraam sought the advice of the sage Kashyap Rishi. Kashyap told him to perform the donation that is known as Tulaa Purush. A Tulaa (or Tulaadand) is a pair of scales. The person (Purush) who is performing the donation is placed on one side of the weighing scale while on the other side are placed objects like honey, clarified butter, molasses, clothing and gold or whtever is t be donated. The weight of the objects being donated has to be equal to the weight of the person performing the donation. This is known as Tulaa Purush. Parashuraam performed Tulaa Purush and then only got freed from his sin.
Sellers of wine are to be found in Rudhiraandh and killers of bees in Vaitaranee. Cheats are sent to Krishn and destroyers of trees to Asipatra Van. A hunter of deer goes to Vahni-Jwaalaa, Agnimaya is for arsonists and Sandansh for those who fail to complete a Vrat. If you accept your son as a teacher, you are sure to go to Shwa-bhojan. The punishment is strictly in proportion to the crime committed. But penance diminishes the severity of the sin. The best form of penance is prayer to Shiv. Even if one merely remembers Shiv, that is enough.
Mount Sumeru is right in the middle of Jamboo Dweep. To the North of Sumeru are the mountains Neel and Shwet-bhangee and to the South of Sumeru are the mountains Himavaan. Hemkoot and Nishaad. These mountains are full of all sorts of jewels.
Jamboo Dweep is divided into many parts (Varsh). Right in the centre, where Mount Sumeru is located, is Ilaavrit Varsh. To the South of Sumeru are Bhaarat Varsh, Kimpurush Varsh and Hari Varsh. To the North of Sumeru is Ramyak Varsh. Next to this is Hiranmaya Varsh and further North is Uttarkuru Varsh.
The four major mountains in Ilaavrit Varsh are Mandar, Gandhamaadan, Vipul and Supaarshwa. They are respectively to the East, South, West, and North of Sumeru. Bhadraashwa Varsh is to the East of Sumeru and Ketumaal Varsh is to the West. On the top of Mount Sumeru is Brahmaa's famous city. The holy river Gangaa flows through the sky and divides itself into four streams. The names of these tributaries are Seetaa, Alakanandaa, Chakshu and Bhadraa. Seetaa flows to the East of Sumeru, Nandaa or Alakanandaa to the South of Sumeru. Chakshu to the West and Bhadraa to the North of Sumeru.
Bhaarat Varsh is bounded by mountain ranges on the North and the sea on the South. Bharat Varsh is divided into nine parts. The names of eight of these parts are Indradyumn, Kaseroo, Taamraparn, Saumya, Gabhastimaan, Naag Dweep, Gandharv and Varun. The ninth part is an island surrounded by the ocean. On the Eastern side of Bhaarat Varsh live the Kiraat, on its Western side live the Yavan, on its Southern side live the Aandhra and on the Northern side live Turaskas.
The seven major mountains in Bhaarat Varsh are named Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Shaktimaan, Riksh, Vindhya and Pariyaatra. From each of these mountains several rivers flow. Bharat Varsh is a sacred place. Only those who have accumulated Punya over a thousand human lives get to be born in Bhaarat Varsh. Shiv is always present here to offer salvation to its residents.
Regions which are further beyond these ones are not destroyed at the end of a Kalp. The first of these regions is Dhruv Lok, the circle of the Pole Star. Next come Mahar Lok, Jan Lok, Tap Lok and Satya Lok. Including the Earth, there are thus seven regions (Lok) that have been mentioned. Under the earth is the underworld (Paataal Lok). This is also divided into seven regions. Their names are Paataal, Sutal, Vital, Nital, Mahaatal, Agrya-sutal and Rasaatal.
The first Manu was Swaayambhuv. The names of the gods then were Yam and the names of the seven sages
were Mareechi, Atri, Angiraa, Pulastya, Pulah, Kratu and Vashishth.
Sanjanaa could not however stand the strong energy of her husband, the Sun, so from her own body she created Chhaayaa (shadow), a woman who looked just like her. Sanjanaa and Chhaayaa could not be distinguished from each other. Sanjanaa told Chhaayaa, "Stay here and pretend to be Sanjanaa. Look after my three children, Vaivaswat, Yam and Yamunaa. I am going off to my father's house. Don't tell anyone that you are not Sanjanaa." "I will do your bidding," replied Chhaayaa, "but the moment someone grasps me by the hair, I will divulge the truth."
Sanjanaa went to Twashtaa's house. When she had spent quite some time there, her father got suspicious and wanted to know why she was not returning to her husband. Sanjanaa therefore adopted the form of a mare and began to live in the kingdom that is known as Uttarkuru.
Meanwhile, the Sun and Chhaayaa had a son named Saavarni. It was clear that Chhaayaa doted on Saavarni. In comparison, Yam felt neglected. Yam was still very young and in a fit of rage, he kicked Chhaayaa. Chhaayaa cursed Yam. Yam was very surprised at this, since no mother curses her own son. He went and reported it to his father Sun. The Sun deduced that Chhaayaa could not be Yam's mother. He grasped Chhaayaa by her hair and the truth came out. The Sun then went to Twashtaa in search of Sanjanaa. It was discovered that Sanjanaa had done all this because she could not bear the energy of her husband. Twashtaa chiseled off some of the Sun's energy so that his radiance become muted. Learning that Sanjanaa had adopted the form of a mare, the Sun adopted the form of a horse went out and met his wife. As horse and mare, they had two children. These were the twin gods known as the Ashwinee Kumaar. They were also called Nasatya and Dasra.
Vaivaswat Manu performed a Yagya so as to have a son. From the sacrifice, a daughter Ilaa was born to him. Chandramaa's son Budh married Ilaa and they had a son named Pururavaa. This was the origin of the lunar dynasty which started with Pururavaa. Later on, Vaivaswat Manu had nine sons. Their names were Ikshwaaku, Shivi, Nabhag, Drishnu, Sharyaati, Narishyant, Isha, Karoosh and Priyavrat. These sons became the originators of the solar dynasty.
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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/05
Updated on 04/25/13