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See also    Dhanvantari Avataar

Dhanvantari came out of Saagar Manthan carrying Amrit Kalash. He is the Vaidya (traditional doctor) of Devtaa. He is also said to be the 13th Avataar of Vishnu.

The origins of the ancient healing science known as Aayur Ved are lost in cosmic antiquity. According to the ancient text Charak Sanhitaa, this "Science of Life and Longevity" is eternal and is revealed in each universe in each of its infinite cycles of creation and destruction. This healing science is generally revealed by great sages or demigods. Occasionally, the Supreme Lord Himself descends as the Avataar (incarnation) Dhanvantari and re-inaugurates the tradition of Aayur Ved. This extremely rare appearance of God is recorded in the Vaidik literature of ancient India. Dhanvantari' s appearance is celebrated each year on the 13th day (Trayodashee) of the Krishn Paksh (waxing Moon) two days before the Divaalee, corresponding to October-November.

The Birth of the Unborn: 1st appearance
The Avataar of Dhanvantari appeared billions of years ago. Although an Avataar is unborn, he takes his divine birth among the living beings to display his divine pastimes. The first appearance of Dhanvantari in this Kalp (epoch) was during the great churning of the cosmic milk ocean to deliver Amrit (nectar) for the nourishment of the demigods. The churning of the milk ocean, Saagar Manthan, is one of the most famous episodes in Pauraanik history and is celebrated in major way every twelve years in the festival known as Kumbh Melaa. This story is related in the Bhaagvat Puraan, a major Puraan that describes the Avataar in great detail.

Here is what happened: The great leader of the demigods Indra was riding on his elephant, when he came across Durvaasaa Muni. Seeing the great demigod, Durvaasaa Muni offered him a special garland (Maalaa) which he brought from a Divine Lok. Indra accepted the garland and put it on the trunk of the elephant. The elephant threw the garland onto the floor and crushed it under his feet, thus enraging Durvaasaa Muni, in a fit of anger. The sage explained that the garland was the dwelling of Shree (fortune) and was therefore to be treated as Prasaad but Indra had insulted Shree, so he cursed Indra and all the demigods to be bereft of all strength, energy, and fortune (Shree).

In the ensuing battles, the demigods were defeated by demons in battle and the demons headed by Bali gained control of the universe. The demigods sought out the help of Lord Vishnu, who instructed them in the art of diplomacy. The demigods then entered into an alliance with the demons to jointly churn the ocean for the nectar of immortality and to share it among them. Of course, the demigods were told by Vishnu that He would arrange for them alone to obtain the nectar, which would empower them to defeat the demons. The demigods and demons went to enter into a contract to churn the ocean using Vaasuki Naag as a churning rope and Mandaraachal Parvat for churning rod.

All kinds of herbs were cast into the milk ocean and using Mandar mountain as the churning rod and Vaasuki as the churning rope (as decided before), they proceeded to churn the ocean. This churning was so arduous that Lord Vishnu Himself interceded in so many ways to aid the demigods: He was present as Lord Ajeet pulling on the side of the gods, as Lord Koorm (Kashchap Avataar) who supported the great Mandar Mountain which was in danger of sinking, and Lord Vishnu Himself sat atop the Mountain infusing the demigods and the serpent Vaasuki with energy.

Many great beings and objects came out from the ocean and were accepted by various demigods as offerings. Lakshmee Devee, the goddess of fortune, appeared from the ocean and Vishnu and She were reunited as husband and wife after having been separated for many ages. Then as they continued churning, a very wonderful male person appeared. The Bhaagvat Puraan describes him as, "He was strongly built; his arms were very long, stout and strong; his eyes were reddish, and his complexion was dark. He was very young, he was garlanded with flowers, and his entire body was fully decorated with various ornaments." (2) Lord Dhanvantari was "dressed in yellow garments and wore brightly polished earrings made of pearl. The tips of his hair was anointed with oil and his chest was very broad. His body had all good features, and he was stout and strong as a lion. In his hand, he carried a jug of nectar."

The demons snatched the jug of nectar and ran away to drink it. Seeing this Vishnu appeared as Mohinee, a beautiful woman, who fascinated the demons and recovered the nectar jug from them. Mohinee managed to distribute the nectar to demigods and were invigorated with energy. Thereafter, the demigods fought the demons and were victorious. They greatly rejoiced and worshipped Lord Vishnu and Lakshmee, the goddess of fortune, and resumed their position in the heavens.

The Birth of the Unborn: 2nd appearance
The second appearance occurred at the beginning of the reign of the current Manu in the second Dwaapar Yug, two billion years ago. Vishnu foretold at the time of the churning that Dhanvantari would appear again in the human society and be offered sacrifices and worshipped by human beings. He would also teach them the science of Aayur Ved. Dhanvantari at that time was residing in the Heavens and Indra seeing the misery of human beings afflicted by disease on earth, requested Dhanvantari to teach Aayur Ved to the human race.

At the same time, the King Deerghtamaa of Kaashee was performing penance, desiring a son. The King desired to propitiate Lord Dhanvantari for the sake of a son. Thereupon, Dhanvantari appeared to him and urged the King to choose a boon as he pleased. The King said, "O Lord, if You are pleased with me, be my son, bestower of my goal." The Lord replied, "So be it," and he vanished. Thus Dhanvantari was born in the royal household of Kaashee. He developed ascetic tendencies even as a young boy and performed severe austerities. Brahmaa with great difficulty persuaded him to accept lordship over the city of Kaashee and since then he became known as Kaashee Raaj. As a king he prepared the Sanhitaa on Aayur Ved in eight divisions for the benefit of the humanity.

Dhanvantari's teachings are recorded in the Agni Puraan, 279-289 as well as through the teachings of his disciple Sushrut. The Bhaagvat states "smrita-matrarti-nasanah". One who remembers the name of Dhanvantari can be released from all disease.

A Note:
Those people, who are new to Vaishnav and Pauraanik, thought may wonder at the purpose of the Lord's array of Avataar especially during the churning of the milky ocean. After all if God is all powerful, why couldn't He accomplish all His ends at once? Why does He have to act through so many different forms? In answer to this, the Vaidik literature affirms the omnipotence of the Lord in His various avatars. However, when the Lord descends, He seamlessly fuses His serious purpose (in protecting the demigods and humanity) with sheer sport. In the form of Mohinee, He enchants the demons and the demigods. As Dhanvantari, He diminishes the misery of the world by teaching the medical sciences. As Lord Ajeet, He enjoys assisting His devotees directly in their struggle for victory. At times He even desires His devotees to be glorified, which is why Shiv drank the poison produced from the ocean. The poison turned his neck dark-blue, hence the name Neel-Kanth. In short, although the devotees never stop glorifying the Lord, no one can fully understand His divine play (Leelaa).
(1) Visnu Purana 3.10.12
(2) Srimad Bhagavatam 8.8.32
(3) The story of the second appearance is told with details in the Brahmaand Puraan ( and Bhaav Prakaash (Poorv Khand, 1) a minor Aayurvedik text.

Iconography of Lord Dhanvantari
According to the Vishnu Dharmottar Puraan (1.73.41), which is a major text on iconography, Dhanvantari is to be presented as Su-Roop (handsome), and Priyadarshan (pleasant-looking) with two hands, each carrying Amrit Kalash (pot of nectar).
According to the Raamaayan, Dhanvantari held a water-pot (Kamandal) and a mendicant's staff (Dand) when he emerged from the ocean.

But more frequently, the icons of Dhanvantari are four-armed, carrying a conch and discus in the upper arms, and a Jalauakaa (leech) and Amrit Kalash in his lower hands. The" Prapanch Saar Sangrah" mentions several Dhyaan Shlok describing various forms for contemplation. He is dark-complexioned (kalambhodojivalaandgam) in yellow silken garments (kati-tal-vilasacc haru-peetaambaradhyam) and four-armed (holding conch, discus, leech, and nectar pot). Another Shlok describes him as bathing himself with nectar flowing from two pots he holds over his head. This form is to be visualized as seated on the devotee's own head, or upon the lunar orb on a full-moon night. Yet another Shlok describes him as handsome (manohaarang), with a tranquil face (prasanna-mukh kamal), residing in the solar orb (Ravi-Bimbasth).

"Within all of us is the archetype of the Divine healer. This Divine healer is the true healer in all beings, not any particular individual or special personality. To heal ourselves or others we must set it in motion within ourselves. Dhanvantari, an incarnation of the God Vishnu, ...represents this truth in the tradition of Aayur Ved. His statue is found at most Aayurvedik schools and clinics. It is a reminder that however much we know or skillful we become, everything still depends on the grace of spiritual nature. Hence, this book is dedicated to the divine healer within you." writes David Frawley in the dedication to his book "Aayurvedik Healing".

Shree Dhanvantri Mantra

Om Namo Bhagavate Mahaa Sudarshan Vaasudevaya Dhanvantaraye;
Amrit Kalash Hastaaya Sarva Bhaya Vinaashaaya Sarva Rog Nivaaranaaya
Trai Lokya Pataye Tri-Lokya Nitaaya Shree Mahaa Vishnu Swaroop
Shree Dhanvantari Swaroop Shree Shree Shree Aushadh; chakra Naaraayan Swaahaa

"Obeisance unto the Supreme Bhagavaan known as Sudarshan Vaasudev Dhanvantari,
the holder of the Kalash, full of nectar of immortality, who removes all fears, who removes all diseases,
the well wisher of the three worlds, sustainer of the three worlds, He is Vishnu Swaroop,
by the name Dhanvantari empowered to heal the Jeev souls."

Dhanvantari Poojaa day is Dhan Teras (Kaarttik Krishn 13). This day Lakshmee is also worshipped along with Dhanvantari Jee, but this Poojaa however, is a special Poojaa for any day and any time someone is ill. This is the nature of Dhanvantari, the Medicine Doctor God. Do as needed. There are may sites offering advice on how to perform this Poojaa and to have this Poojaa done in someone's behalf. Hom is recommended done with the Poojaa. Each temple has its customs for including this puja. A popular idea and a useful one is to do Dhanvantari Hom on the birthday of one with chronic illness. Also Mrityunjaya and Dakshinaamurti Hom are good at that time. Mrityunjaya Mantra can be done daily to improve the effect.



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Created by Sushma Gupta On 5/27/04
Modified on 04/23/13