Book Reviews

Evaluating 'As I Know, The Lord of the Mountains' -2

Continued from Previous Page

The fire that burnt Kamdeva was still ablaze. It seemed the dazzling light was about to devour the whole Universe. Fearing the impending annihilation all the Gods of heaven and the great Sages went to Lord Brahma to apprise. Sequentially, Lord Brahma surprised everyone simply by metamorphosing the fire into a wonder horse. The horse was then taken to the sea. The sea in the guise of a man appeared before Lord Brahma and at His behest the horse got immersed into the sea for the peace, harmony and concord of all created beings. Amusingly, the other side of the story engages. Soon after Kamdeva’s sad end strange fury, awe and ire echoed from skies to produce romantic and disturbing sounds. King Himalaya felt distressed for the security of his daughter Parvati needed caution. Soon after reducing Kamdeva to ashes Lord Shiva also left the kingdom and disappeared. Parvati felt pangs of separation got anguished and was unable to grasp the turn of events. Having no other alternative, She decided to get engaged in Japa - chanting Shiva’s name. Devotion and love increased day by day while union receded aloofly. Meanwhile, Sage Narada comes to visit King Himalaya consoles and counsels then appears before Parvati getting her alone. Sage Narada initiates Parvati and equipps with implication and impact of Mantras further strengthens her for rigorous Tapa to espouse the cause of Lord Shiva. Initially thus instructed by Sage Narada and after getting permission from her parents, Parvati proceeds to Gangotri - the origin of holy Ganga for severe Tapa to attain Lord Shiva.

It was a sort of Tapa difficult even to the Sages or monks of yore. She concentrated attention on Lord Shiva in a way no one /nothing could divert. The heat of the summer, recklessness of the rain and severe wintry chill had no effect on her resolve. She continued chanting ceaselessly the Mantra given to her by Narada. She suffered during arduous Tapa but ignored. She spent three thousand years in meditation. With the intensity of Tapa love towards Shiva became a fond objective. All the Sages and Monks were amazed. Being of terrific resolve and determination, Parvati began her Tapa with more vigor, fierceness and dedication. All the three Worlds were stirred terribly. The excruciating pains and rigors of Tapa made everyone bereft of cogent thoughts. The sizzling heat further compelled the Gods to go to Lord Brahma for knowing the cause of disturbing situation - the balance of power. Lord Brahma at that moment was not sovereign. He accompanied the Gods and approached Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu at that time was ensconced comfortably in His divine capital. Lord Vishnu knew His inability so accompanied by Lord Brahma and the Gods He reached at Shiva’s abode. Lord Shiva’s impenetrable frame was deeply soaked in Tapa. And the womb of future neither was obvious nor systematically organized. However, conviction and assurance persuaded all the Gods, Lord Brahma and Vishnu, Siddhas and holy souls to go back to their respective habitats. Everybody knew Shiva to be pure - Nirmala, Nirakara - without form and Nirguna - sans modes, Paratpara - beyond time and space, infinite and beyond knowledge. So, they worshipped Him uncontested - unchallenged.

Left alone by devotees Lord Shiva repositioned - moved back into sacrosanct meditation to have His own evaluation of Prvati’s Tapa further concentrated on issues of health, existence and harmony in life devoid of delusions, anarchy and disturbance. So Shiva recalled Seven Sages - Sapt - Rishis. They arrived sans wait. Lord Shiva sends them to know the secrets of Parvati’s mind somehow or other - through connivance or conspiracy. They were to infer the truth of Her mind. Thus, as per instructions the Seven Sages reached where the brilliance and perfection of Parvati’s Tapa was illuminating the surroundings. The Sages saw the unsurpassed radiance in utter amazement. After preliminary acts of reverence, they apprised Her of Shiva’s intent. Self - effacingly Parvati revealed Her secret and sacred objective. The Seven Sages did their best to beguile Parvati by presenting before Her a two - faced and faithless image of Shiva – the Pasupati. But She remained firm in Her decision. After a while the Sages blessed Parvati reverentially and returned elatedly to narrate to Shiva whatever that took place at Parvati’s Ashrama. Though still in doubt and not yet fully resolved to bless Parvati, Shiva disguised as a celibate Brahmin full of radiance and brilliance with a wooden stick and an umbrella in hands arrived at Parvati’s Ashrama and observed Her sitting in unusual penance. He appeared before Her as real divinity incarnate. She greeted, worshipped and prayed the Brahmin by gathering necessary material whatever was there, offered Him a seat then inquisitively asked His whereabouts. The bright and benign Brahmin told His purpose of wanderings for the welfare and wellbeing of the whole creation. The conversation between Parvati - Her aides and the Brahmin is somewhat lengthy and winding but interestingly enough when the Brahmin is about to depart, he reveals many eternal truths about Lord Shiva. However, he continues flattering Parvati by means of various conspicuous justifications in a language repugnant and hideous. It was certain he wanted to divert/deflect Parvati’s mind and resolve by speaking against the dictates of intellect and reason.

Parvati at length dwells on Shiva/Shiva Tattva to project Him as supreme Parmatma. Shiva in the guise of a Brahmin raptly listens to Parvati and finds nothing against to contradict Her forceful arguments. Eventually, Parvati appears penitent and piqued and the moment She is about to leave Her Penance Shiva discarding the guise of the Brahmin appears before Parvati in His real form to hold Her hand. It was a moment - a sense of ultimate satisfaction and a bashfulness that overwhelmed. The joy of divine blessings, supreme bliss and illumination permeated the entire universe. Shiva’s smile spread all around elation and euphoria. The long cherished objective Parvati was born with was now fulfilled. Shiva went back to Kailasha and Parvati returned to father’s abode. She was accorded a warm welcome, greeted graciously and bestowed immense favors. In Parvati’s welcome ceremony Lord Shiva Himself came in the guise of a divine dancer - Nataraja to attract the attention of one and all. He mesmerized everyone simply by smiles, by emitting divine light amazed, astonished and astounded by ubiquitous ploy. So much so that King Himalaya and Queen Menaka were besieged and subjugated by the immensity of devotion toward Lord Shiva. Seeing their unrivaled devotion jubilant Indra went to Guru Bhrispati who coaxed him to go to Lord Brahma and Brahma asked him to go to Lord Shiva. After the Gods were duly graced Lord Shiva went to appear in the court of King Himalaya again in the guise of a Vaishnava Brahmin did what he had to do and quickly returned back. Queen Maina was deeply disturbed by the unpleasant behavior of the Brahmin. So much so that she flatly refused to wed Parvati with Shiva. Instead, she preferred to kill herself by taking poison and noose her daughter. Lord Shiva being aware of the affairs and their speedy development meanwhile deputed the Seven Sages this time with Arundhati to convince melancholic Queen. King Himalaya extended warm welcome, majestic greetings and worship. He felt blessed by getting opportunity of serving the holy men.

The conduct of the King immensely pleased the Sages. Arundhati spoke pleasantly to Queen Maina consoled and convinced her by emphasizing the need of wedding Parvati with Shiva. She also revealed to Maina the secret purpose of this relation. The demand of time the Sages computed was the need of a son born of Parvati by Shiva. They continued and a long pause disturbed each other. In the interim they alluded to the churning of ocean and marriage of Daksha’s daughter Sati to Shiva. The sages offered many instances of divine Leelas - play to convince King Himalaya. He sent the Horoscope of Parvati to Shiva for accurate match, tally and reckoning, asked attendants and officers of the court to collect material for marriage, take suitable measures and start auspicious ceremonies before the arrival of Shiva’s marriage procession. The city was decorated. Mountains and rivers were invited, and they arrived as images of divine visitors. Artisan Vishwakarma constructed a divine podium and palaces for entertaining holy guests. On Shiva’s side sage Narada was deputed to extend invitation to all the Gods, celestial beings, Sages, Seers and holy men. They all came began timely ceremonies to start the wedding pageant to King’s palace. The King with entire set of followers himself was attending the honorable of the marriage party. Sage Narada introduced leading personalities with Queen Maina. Meanwhile, Shiva’s entourage - His train of horrifying strong winds, dreadful faces in distorted figures and many more gruesome and ghastly characters arrived. Shiva Himself was riding on fully decked bull - Vrishava. He had five heads, each having different name, three eyes in each and the whole body being one abode of infinite formlessness was smeared with ornaments like ashes. His appearance overall being uncomfortable stirred fears and apprehensions. Seeing the Lord with more fearful and unpleasant muscular Ganas Maina - the mother of Parvati for a while fell unconscious. After bodes well ceremony at the gate the Lord was conducted to the central hall where all got settled on their superb ornamental seats respectively. King Himalaya after winding up all ritualistic ceremonies accompanied by Queen Maina gave their daughter as spouse to Lord Shiva. Lord Brahma asked Sage Narada to make a Havan - Kunda for worshipping the holy fire. Then asked Parvati to take the ordained seat with chant of sacramental Mantras from the four Vedas to pour oblations on fire. Parvati’s mother and brother also poured oblations. Afterwards they took rounds –circumambulated the sacred fire. All sixteen divine women - Goddesses came forward to welcome the divine couple, paid rich tributes and shared divine delicacies. The environment by the completion of ceremonies got filled with fragrance of divine aura. The concluding ceremonies consisting of farewell and fabulous sendoff lavished on one and all a rare hospitality. Meanwhile Queen Maina and King Himalaya gave apt lessons on Dharma and ethics such as ideals of conjugal life and worldly/otherworldly affairs. It was a grand ceremony immediately presaging for significant future upshots. Lord Shiva with Parvati and entire wedding party very soon left for Kailasha.

6. Rudra Samhita: Segment - IV: Kumara: - Times of pleasure and joys at Kailash were beyond compare for the specter of Gods, Sages and other celestials further enhanced its exquisite beauty, charm and splendor. The ages passed in moments of immense ecstasy and penance. Parvati gave birth to Kumara - Kartikeya. Shiva knew it from Mother Ganges. He took the child in His lap, adorned, loved, fondled and bestowed boons. Soon after Kumara was given to Kritikas by whom he was looked after and nurtured. So, he was called Kartikeya. The Gods gave him comfort and provided playthings. Celestial beings imparted Vidya - literal/ figurative knowledge also the knowledge of various Astra - Sastras - artillery. The child in innocence and divine light simply enamored. Goddess Parvati sanctified, blessed and offered a divine necklace that added to Kumara’s divine beauty. Savitri educated him in the art of various perfections - Siddhis. A lot of glorious festivities /ceremonies were in full swing to give to both Kumara and Kailash an unrivaled elation and ecstasy. Amidst all these raptures the destiny of Kumara was loudly read by the Gods. It was the call for war - the battle in which the mighty Daitya Taraka is to be killed/finished by Kumar Kartikeya. Lord Shiva and Sri Hari both believed in divine child’s strength and efficiency therefore reposed full faith in child Kumara to accede to the proposal of the Gods. The Gods under delusory powers of Shiva and under the command of Kumar Kartikeya began their journey for the battlefield to wipe out Taraka - the almighty Asura. Knowing the intention and march of the Gods of heaven, Taraka gathered momentum, collected a huge army of mighty demons and immediately rushed to the battlefield. When he arrived clouds in the sky thundered to presage a lethal devastation. The earth seemed to tremble by the terrific sounds, by the thumps and thuds of Asura’s march under Taraka’s command. Kumara encircled by mighty warriors as security shield looked sunny, cheery and incredibly supreme. A fierce war began. Spreading violence and destruction on all sides Mighty Taraka adorned with ten thousand arms and a ferocious lion to ride appeared an incarnation of death and decay. Initially, the Gods were crushed, trampled and thrown either dead or alive by the omnipotent forces of the Asuras. By hurling the bodies of celestial beings and Gods in various directions the hideous and ghastly demons created a panicky situation. The Gods looked challenged, terrified and askance before the frightening frequency of Asura’s dreadful armaments. However, Virbhadra did well to succeed by the radiating vigor/ strength of his Trident. Soon Sri Hari arrived with Sudarshan Chakra, bow and arrows to fill fear and dread in invincible Asura’s mind. The Asura for a while got collapsed but soon regained energy to break the disc into fragments. Time stopped when two antagonistic forces clasped. Lord Brahma knew the truth, setbacks of delay in eliminating the Asura, such as - largescale waste and loss of lives. So, He– the Brahma, curtly ordered Kumara to exterminate the Asura for the accomplishment of the sacred object looked imminent. Kumara Kartikeya emitted divine smile and in a reverent nod of obedience to the dictates of Lord Brahma, He, as ordained, alighted from wonderful aerial vehicle and walked on foot looking as though an accomplished warrior. He spoke candidly to console all calamitous forces of nature, saluted His parents and picked up the celestial weapon - Kantimati that brightened all existing substances with an unseen glow. The moment Kumara hit the Asura by Kantimati - the divine weapon, it tore Taraka into many fragments, and he collapsed. Kumara did not hit again instead waited in silence. All the three worlds, the Gods of heavens, rejoiced Asura’s demise and eloquently praised Kumara. Lord Shiva with Parvati descended at the battlefield to bless Kumara. Kumara then in his aerial vehicle left for the Kailasha. The war between the Gods and Asuras continued for many more years.


Ages elapsed….. ! Parvati’s privacy, Her secrecy and security while within palace - doors, grew to be of a major concern. One day sitting amidst close associates and intimate chums Jaya and Vijaya She thought over the wise counsel. The frequent violation of private moments by unrestricted entry of thousands of Ganas required an exclusive Gana for guarding Her activities within the inner chambers of the palace. Thinking on efficacy of the proposal, once , Parvati from secretions of Her limbs created a really beautiful, conscious and wonderful body outfitted with sublime virtues. It was alike giving birth to a handsome, charming and exquisite divine child. Filled with immense joy and delight She called him Her son, cuddled, caressed and called him Ganesha - Lord of the Ganas. She instantly bestowed on him all the powers, valor and heroic distinctions. Thereafter gave him a stick, suitably instructed and asked to guard at the palace gate. Parvati now was ensured of Her inner security. Ganesha was happy, contented and guaranteed. One day while bathing in Her exclusive domain - the interior reservoirs of the palace, Lord Shiva arrived and to His utter surprise saw Ganesha denying him permission to enter/go ahead. Even after initial threats from Shiva and His Ganas, Ganesha stood firm to defy daringly their unsolicited intrusion. Knowing him to be a son/sentinel of Parvati Lord Shiva smiled. The time and mode of creation Shiva knew already. However, He called the Gods of heavens and His own Ganas to test the power/ prowess of Ganesha. A fierce war ensued. The Gods got humiliated so apprised Shiva of the horrifying situation: about the audacity and arrogance of Ganesha. Shiva had no other substitute therefore He picked up divine trident and cut off Ganesha’s head. The news of Ganesha’s demise shocked and distressed. Infuriated Parvati released delusory forces at once to wreak havoc. All the three worlds began to shudder. Meanwhile Narada arrives. After deep deliberations avers peace cannot be restored without grace/ mercy of Goddess Parvati. They all gather to appease, pacify by prayers, devotion, eulogies and earnestly plead for the happiness and wellbeing of created beings. The Goddess gets pleased after various entreaties /requests. Shiva Himself submitted and devised a strategy for reviving the Child - Gana of Parvati. As per Shiva’s behest the Gods went in Northern direction chopped the head of a newly born elephant and a transplant was done successfully. With chanting of Vedic Mantras an illumined energy, a divine radiance entered into the body of the child. A mere incantation and sprinkle of sanctified water infused life and the child regained consciousness. The celestial child looked beautiful and alluring in the head of a green - red hued elephant. A divine aura spread in all directions. Goddess Parvati smiled and with her smile the delusory miseries of the three worlds were wiped out. Peace and harmony thrived. The Gods, the Sages, Lord Brahma and Vishnu all arrived to welcome and greet the child of Parvati. As the child was born when first segment of night was about to lapse on fourth day of Krishna Paksha - dark lunar fortnight in Bhadaun - August/September, he was given by parishioners the status of Chief - Gana - Presiding deity called Ganesha. Hence the tradition of worshipping Ganesha in the beginning of all prayers commenced, aptly approved by three Lords: Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesha - the Trinity. All necessary provisions for Ganesha worship were postulated. Amazingly this holy occasion was graced by the celestials with their divine musical tunes, rhythmic dance of heavenly nymphs and gandharvas with their sweet songs conferred on Ganesha many Siddhis - perfections. There are amazing tales of Ganesha’s childhood pranks and his exploits with elder brother Kartikeya. Both grew in equal and identical parlance of upbringing. Lord Shiva and Goddess Patvati decided their destiny - the future course of action. Accordingly, Ganesha was married to Siddhi and Buddhi - the most beautiful daughters of Prajapati Visvarupa and later Ksema took birth through the womb of Siddhi and Buddhi gave birth to Laabha to continue the lineage. While Kartikeya went to mountain Krauncha to live the life of a celibate. Krauncha later became a great center of pilgrimage for salvation and fulfilling the wish of devotees.

7. Rudra Samhita: Segment - V: War: - When Skanda - Kumara, son of Shiva killed the mighty demon Taraka it was a great loss to the sons of the Asura. They went to mountain Meru undertook rigorous Tapa to please Brahma. Appeased Brahma blessed them with boons of immortality and guided for unbounded devotion to Shiva. The immensity of their devotion caused envy and begrudged the Gods. They went to Shiva who guided them to Lord Vishnu. They worshipped and prayed to Vishnu who for the protection and wellbeing of Gods used His delusory powers to misguide the Asuras. Consequently, the Asuras got involved in immoral activities and showed no interest in Dharma soon became slaves of impiety and malevolence. Everywhere the dance of sins and crimes, viciousness and violence, immorality and dishonesty seemed epidemic. Meanwhile Brahma intervenes and Vishnu advocates the efficacy of the mantra - Om Shivay Namah ! Accordingly divine artisan Viswakarma constructs a chariot for Lord Shiva. It was an astonishing feat of miracle having horses as the Vedas and Brahma as Charioteer. When Shiva mounted the chariot, it created a scenario that defied description. The end of the Asuras looked imminent. The moment Shiva released the arrow its momentum and divine potency caused tremendous chaos and reduced all evil and impious objects to ashes, besides bringing immense miseries to the wicked and the vile. It was a dreadful fire of destruction that reduced to a heap of ashes the entire tribe of Asuras. The Gods were now happy. They prayed, sang hymns of glory and praised Shiva who blessed them profusely and disappeared.

The Gods and the Asuras from times immemorial never did enjoy cordial relations. The tale of Sage Kashyapa’s grandson Dambha impresses most. Dambha in quest of a son receives blessings and initials of a Mantra from Sukracharya then goes to Puskara where he settles down for Tapa and Meditation. Ten thousand years rigorous Tapa did not yield any fruit. Despite he did not think of terminating Tapa. Bit by bit he progressed successively a great illuminating energy originated from his forehead spread everywhere and astonished by its dazzle and strong power one and all in the universe. When everybody failed in deciphering this mystery the Gods assembled held consultations and finally resolved to go to Brahma. Brahma heard patiently and knew the cause of Gods worries and anxieties. He led them to Vishnu who consoled and relieved by assuring their security and refuge. In due course of time Vishnu reached Puskara - the holy place. He saw Dambha engaged in meditation appeared before him and blessed by granting the desired wish - boon. The gain was immense soon afterwards Dambha’s wife got pregnant and eventually gave birth to a son. The son of Dambha grew to be a great demon of waxing inner glow and bright light like the moon of Sukla Paksha. Named Sankhachuda the demon in a short while attained the knowledge of the scriptures followed his father’s footsteps and went to Puskara for Tapa - devotion and penance. The severity of Tapa pleased Brahma who besides giving the boon of indestructibility conferred on Sankhachuda an auspicious shield called “Sri Krishna” and instructed to go to Badrikashrama where the most beautiful daughter Tulsi of Dharmdwaja was engaged in Tapa. Take a sacred vow and marry Tulsi – reiterated Lord Brahma (It is pertinent to note in this context that demon Sankhachuda in previous life was no other than the poor Brahmin Sudama who once was cursed for his inadvertent mistakes by Goddess Radha). The demon prince now armored with the shield “Sri Krishna” went to Badrikashrama thrilled and charmed at once by Tulsi’s magnificence loveliness and gorgeous beauty the amazed prince stopped for a while and then went near the virtuous girl lost in deep meditation. When asked for whereabouts and lineage Tulsi’s unsullied and terse response elated the demon and he astutely rejoined to Tulsi’s wisdom. A lively conversation was going on between them related to higher truths, virtues and paradox of man - woman relationship, but to their utter surprise Brahma appears to intervene. He asked them to marry through Gandharva marriage instead of indulging in futile arguments and left to disappear. They married accordingly. Afterwards the mighty demon prince returned with Tulsi to his capital and began expanding his empire. Both of them then went to Guru Sukracharya who blessed them freely to be the king of kings and the Lord of the three worlds - the universe. King Sankhachuda continued to govern the entire universe adhering to the principles of Dharma - rectitude and Queen Tulsi accordingly added glory and grandeur to his status being a woman of Tapa /penance and of unrestricted discipline. The earth was full of plenty and gave luxurious fruits and fragrant flowers, medicinal plants and herbs grew in abundance. No calamities, famines and disasters visited the land. There was all around joy, plenty and profusion. However, the age - old enmity of the Gods with the Asuras amplified when they knew about the powers of Tulsi’s Tapa - penance and modesty of moral fiber/strength. The war began as expected the Gods were terribly routed by the Asuras. Even Lord Shiva found it difficult to defeat Sankhachuda. There was no alternative left except to play the foul /deceitful game of hypocrisy. Lord Vishnu in the guise of a Brahmin goes to the battlefield, begs for warrior Asura’s armor in charity, dons it and disguised as a victor appears before Tulsi to violate the chastity/sanctity of a woman of penance - Tapa. As soon as Tulsi is despoiled the trident of Lord Shiva took few rounds of the sky, fell on Sankhachuda and eliminated him. It was a poignant and pathetic end - the end of faith, piety and innocent virtue.

Chitraratha - the Gandharva visits the capital of Sankhchuda to know the pre - war situation. The rectitude Asura King followed and the obligatory duties he discharged were incredible and astounding. A modern war strategist can gather exhaustive details from Lord Shiva’s armed forces embarking on their journey to legendary battleground where stood holy Vat –banyan tree and where flowed the sacred river Pushpabhadra. It was strategically located place with an Ashrama for Sages and Siddhas mainly known for Sage Kapila’s severe Tapa, where the great war was fought in which the warriors strictly followed the principles of Dharma participated with equal might and force by Asura’s Guru Sukracharya and the Guru of the Gods Bhrispati. The war prolonged to last so seemed to have no immediate end. Goddess Bhadrakali who fought on behalf of Lord Shiva heard a heavenly voice to demonstrate her gallantry, fearlessness and fury by spreading large scale destruction - killed, devoured and drank the blood of the Asuras. It was a war of colossal dimension. King Sankhachuda who knew the Dharma and its laws got down from his chariot, prostrated on the ground saluted Shiva and then ascended to put on armor, his bow and arrow. The war continued for another hundred years. Shiva felt exhausted and irritated. Took His trident to release. But a voice from the sky stopped Him. Meanwhile Vishnu performed his assigned task. Now it was the ripe time to release the trident. The trident after killing Sankhachuda returned to Shiva’s fold. Questions related to propriety, morality, ethics and dharma tease and disturb to some who are perceptive and critical doubts and suspicions appear genuine and reasonable but when evil spreads sans respite and tortures continue augmenting the end seems obvious.

The legend of Tulsi and Sankhachuda entice every avid reader, carries a noble and timeless message of love and war to considerably large section of humanity. When the truth reveals itself Lord Shiva intervenes to elucidate the divine design - the will of the Supreme Lord. Accordingly, as per Tulsi’s curse Vishnu turns into a stone and Tulsi after abandoning her mortal frame becomes river Gandaki wherein Vishnu is lodged in the form of an oval shaped stone with a circle and a disc in the center universally called - Shaalgrama or Laxminarayana. In traditional worship both have a great ritualistic significance. Shiva speaks at length about the glory of Tulsi –Shaalgrama –wedding which delights one and all, provides bliss and happiness. Leaving a tremendous mark of auspiciousness, tradition, culture and religion Shiva then disappears straight away.

In another Kalpa Kumar Kartikeya closely watches the mystified and astonishing nature of Shiva’s delusory powers and reveals to Sage Vyasa the amazing character of Andhaka - a great devotee of Shiva. Accompanied by His beloved Parvati once Shiva goes to Kashi guarded by numerous Ganas. He made Kashi His capital and appointed Bhairava as the chief security guard. Afterwards they went to Mandrachala and spent time in leisure. Once in frisky light mood of love, joy and affection Parvati closes Shiva’s eyes that caused all-pervading darkness. The touch of Parvati’s hands, Her warmth and the heat of passion saturates some drops of water out of which manifests a horrible being - ugly, jutted haired, black in complexion, disfigured in body and blind in appearance. It was a weird creature fearsome to Parvati. So, She wanted to know the rationale behind this created repulsive being. Shiva offered this blind being to Hiranyaksha - an Asura King who begged a son in boon to Shiva. Andhaka heard about his physical deformities and disabilities, the illegitimacy of his birth and the ridicules hurled on him often sarcastically. It was so painful that Andhaka abandoned royal life, went to forest to undertake Tapa - meditation/penance. His penance was so intense that it reduced his body to a mere skeleton. Meanwhile Brahma appears to bestow boon on Andhaka. Now no more a mere Skeleton, his body brightens like something that glitters, no more a blind his eyes open to see the vistas far and wide. He was conferred a strong and beautiful body by Brahma’s mere touch. He returned to his kingdom and his sovereignty was accepted by all and sundry. Kumara tells Vyasa about the great cave situated in the mountain where Shiva was meditating with Nandi and Parvati. The beauty of Parvati infatuated the handsome Asura who attacked on Nandi and a great battle ensued. In the battle came Sukracharya - the guru of Asuras to revive the dead by Sanjivini Vidhya. Shiva devoured Sukracharya who roamed in the belly of Shiva for some hundred years and later came out from the stomach through the path of lingam and afterworlds attained glory and brilliance. Andhaka after hard penance realized the greatness of the Lord and surrendered to become a great Bhakta who later was appointed as Shiva’s chief Gana.

In the dynasty of Sage Kasyapa there was another devotee of Shiv a known as Vana. Brave and wise Vana was son of Bali - the son of Virochana and Virochana was son of Prahlada. Being an absolute devotee of Shiva Vana enjoyed Shiva’s immense blessings so no one even Vishnu was able to defeat him. He had a pretty daughter named Usha who fell in love with Anirudha - the grandson of Lord Sri Krishna. A war became inevitable because Krishna and Shiva came to confront each other. Ultimately a truce was signed in which Usha and Anirudha got married and peace followed. Anirudha, Usha and Sri Krishna left for Dwarka while Vana established a new capital - Shonitpura and began to govern. His vast regime grew by leaps and bounds. Delighted by the intense devotion of Vana, Shiva blesses him with one thousand arms but very soon realizes the futility and foolishness of Vana’s ridiculous wish to fight with one thousand arms. This stupid longing of Vana angered Shiva and He in apparently wonderful laughter predicted anarchic situation of the kingdom which was an oblique hint of imminent death and devastation. However, Vana was immensely delighted by observing inklings of forthcoming war - an opportunity to fight by using one thousand arms. Appropriately at that time by the inspiration of Lord Shiva the splendorous Kaal arrives to add a new feather in devotion and Bhakti of Lord Shiva. Usha her aide Chitralekha - daughter of Kumbhanda a wise Minister are examples of loyalty, earnestness, sincerity, selflessness and so are objectives of piety, devoutness and holiness. Lord Shiva on another side exemplifies bounty of kindheartedness and generosity. Even if a sinner or a man of brute and violent temper apologetically repents, he is immediately forgiven by Lord Shiva. He is a store house of mercy and compassion. Kumara continue to narrate the tale of another Daitya called Gaja - a son of Mahishasura. Gaja in order to take vengeance of his father’s riddance undergoes severe Tapa to please Lord Brahma. Appeased Brahma blessed Gaja with many boons of invincibility. The pride and conceit of Gaja gradually started inflicting tortures on the Gods, Sages and the citizens of Kashi. All assembled together and prayed before Shiva wholeheartedly. Pleased by the devotion of His devotees Shiva comes to defeat Gaja. Being devout devotee of Shiva Gaja surrenders, prays and begs for Lord’s grace. He was blessed with another name Kritivasa who situated his Self in the image of Moksha Lingam popularly known as Kritvasaiswara. Another tale Kumara puts forward is of a Daitya who devours the Brahmins because they are the strength of the Gods as their Yagnas supply them food. If Yagnas will die - out, it will be easy to defeat the Gods. Once when the daitya Dundu Bhiniara Lada was trying to devour a devout Brahmin Lord Shiva appeared, took the Daitya in His strong armpit to console/protect the Brahmin. This tale exhibits how the wicked forces grow and torture Lord’s devotees Who instantly comes to protect against all evils. In order to retain sanctity of Kashi many more Daityas were wiped out by Goddess Parvati and Shiva together. All tales exalt, inspire and impress besides enhancing fidelity, loyalty and devotion in Shiva’s magnificence.

8. Shat Rudra Samhita: - It has in all 2000, 100 and 80 Slokas. Sage Suta on persistent request of Sage Saunaka reveals the mystery of Shiva’s five faces in five different incarnations. In 19th Kalpa called Swetalohita Shiva took birth as Sadyojaata. Once Lord Brahma was in deep meditation a baby boy appeared before Him red and white in complexion. Brahma knew Him as Shiva and offered prayers who was pleased immensely. In 20th Kalpa known as Rakta Kalpa Brahma meditated with a wish to have a son, so a son with red rosary, red ornaments, red clothes and eyes all red appeared before Him. He knew He was no other than Vamadeva Shiva so praised and eulogized Him with many hymns. Vamadeva was pleased. The succeeding Kalpa known as Peetvasa gave birth to another incarnation who appeared in hues yellow to propound the great Yogic path. It was the third incarnation of Lord Shiva as Tatpurusha. Lord Brahma got anguished for further creation so deliberated for a long period of time. Out of this deliberation emerged a brilliant and divine child in dark hues whom Brahma considered to be Aghora Shiva. Aghora Shiva promoted Aghora yoga. Subsequently in another Kalpa Brahma concentrated on Shiva to produce a new breed that startled everyone. It was a heralding and a divine coming of Isana who guided human beings to lead a meaningful life by enjoying all necessary comforts/pleasures the world offered to attain final Moksha - deliverance. These five incarnations - Avataras, of Lord Shiva had a definite object to fulfill. The world is an image of Shiva in eight figurines - Murtis. Here Nandikeswara - the chief gana of Shiva, married to Suyasha beloved of Parvati, the Ayonija - a being born with no yoni, the son of Shilaada, is the speaker who narrates the wonderful emergence of Ardhanariswara - half man, half woman. It was the fulfillment of Brahma’s long cherished wish. The world then was created through Love - physical union of male and female constituents. Besides innumerable tales related to the incarnations of the Sages at various Kalpas are narrated by Nandikeswara. Chief among them is the birth of Sage Durvasa from the womb of Surabhi. Sage Atri and Anusuya’s legend pleases all by the descent of the Trinity –Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha, into the womb of Anusuya. How Shiva’s semen was injected into Anjani’s( the wife of Sage Gautama) womb through ear - pathways is another legend that delights most. The intricate network of creation interweaves untold tales related to Sages, the Gods and the Daityas to further lend a true Puranic aura.

A guest is an image of God. To entertain him is a virtue amply lived out by the ancients. There is an interesting tale of two ardent devotees of Lord Shiva - Ahuk and his wife Ahuka. Once Lord Shiva Himself in the guise of a recluse - Yatiraja, visits them begging for shelter. They do not want to disappoint the guest in spite of the paucity of space. They happily entertain the guest and provide space to him for the night. In the night when the guest was taking rest and his wife asleep Ahuk decides to guard them from wild beasts of the jungle. So, he comes at the outer door to discharge his sacred duty. Alas ! in the night he is killed for food by the wild beasts. It distresses his wife who then is filled with agony. However, for the noble deed of Ahuk she asks to the guest time and again for preparing a pyre. The guest complies and the moment she was to enter the pyre Shiva appears. The virtuous woman is blessed by Lord Shiva. He asks her for a boon. But she had none. Delightfully Shiva foretells in ensuing Kalpa He will take birth as Hansha and will unite them again. Accordingly, Ahuk is born as the eldest prince in the family of king Veersaina to become famous as Nala. Meanwhile Ahuk’s wife takes birth as daughter of king Bheema of Vidharbha well known to all as princess Damyanti. The great Lord helped them rightly at the right time and Nala - Damyanti as the legend says enjoyed royal life and divine pleasures and ultimately attained Moksha. Similar are the legends associated with the life of Krishnadarshana, Nabhaga, Avadhuta and Bhiksuvaya those sum up the importance of Shiva worship and clarify that all created beings, dead or alive belong to Shiva. Lord Shiva is always subservient to the wishes of His devotees - Bhaktas. Nothing truly moves sans the consent of Lord Shiva. Upamanyu had undergone Tapa in previous life and attained perfection –Siddhis. Innumerable are the tales of Shiva’s Leela - plays and pranks and of Holy Tirthas where devotees are granted peace, harmony, prosperity and salvation. Atrikeswara and Nandikeswara became popular for hymns sung in praise of Lord Shiva. Besides the greater importance of 12 - Dwadas Jyotir Lingams and their efficacy of freeing from sins even those devotees who merely touch or have the glimpse of the Lingam.

9. Koti Rudra Samhita: - It contains 2000, 200 and 40 Slokas. Sage Suta for further delight /amusement of wisemen and monks, at their humble implorations, speaks about the grandeur and magnificence of major /minor Lingams for the benefit of Shiva’s devotees also the arrival of the holy Ganges for the enchantment of Sage Atri/Anusuya. Thereafter Sage Suta narrates the moving tale of Riska - a Brahmini. She became a widow in her early childhood because of some wicked Karmas of her past life. She adhered to utmost discipline and restraint on senses and undertook severe Tapa. While in meditation Riska was seen by an Asura called Moodh. The beauty of the holy woman enticed the Asura and carnal passions continued to assail him. So, he wanted to make love by various means. But the woman concentrated by all her powers more and more on Lord Shiva. Anon appears Shiva reduces the wicked Asura to ashes and asks Riska for a boon. She instead prayed for more and more Bhakti. Subsequently Shiva situated His self there and the place became a great Tirtha where all the Gods, Sages and Brahma, Vishnu alongside the Ganges visited frequently to enhance its inviolability. The month of Baisakha - March/April is the holiest for devotees of Shiva. Intensity of love to Rohini in comparison to other daughters once forced Prajapati Daksha to hurl a curse on Moon - the Chandrama. The Moon as a result suffered due to the severity of lethal disease. He then went for Tapa to the region known as Prabhasa, chanted non - stop the Maha Mrintyunjya Mantra and pleased Shiva who in return bestowed on Chandrama boon of waxing and waning as per the Paksha - fortnights - Sukla and Krishna. After Somnatha is another illumined Lingam called Mallikarjuna. When Ganesha got Married Kartikeya got angry and despite pleas from parents left Kailasha and went to live Krauncha Mountain. When Shiva - Parvati went there to request to get him back Kartekeya went 12 Kosa beyond so all persuasions failed. Shiva - Parvati got transformed into a Lingam and stayed permanently there. The place became famous as –Mallikarjuna. People still believe that Shiva –Parvati regularly visit this place on Poornima and Amavasya to have a glimpse of Kartikeya. Mahakaleswara is another Tirtha where the legendary tale of Chandrasena still arouses Bhakti and moves to Krishna of Mahabharata. This Lingam in the holy city of Avanti is supposed to liberate the devotees from sufferings and provides protection to the devotees. Later Monk Suta narrates another legend related to Sage Gokarna and origin of Onkareshwara Jyotir Lingam. In times of crisis Shiva appeared before His devotees showered blessings by vanquising iniquitous forces and established law - Dharma. Even if a sinner happens to meditate on Shiva he quickly attains blessings and deliverance - Moksha. Therefore, whenever Adharma(wickedness) prevails the Lord descends for His devotees, protects them and situates His divine self into the image of a Lingam for devotee’s quick accessibility. Such are the interesting and soothing tales related to the emergence of Badrikaashrama and Kedar Lingam, Bheem - Sankara and Visveswara.

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More by :  Dr. Suresh Chandra Pande

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