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Every Day is A New Day

New day.. New office location.. New Seat.. So many new things happened to me before this new year comes. Newness always brings enthusiasm and excitement. Hope this New Year also comes with hand full of surprises as Every Day is a New Day indeed..!!!

12 Most Famous Love Stories of All Time

When: 31 BC Where: Rome and Egypt What’s So Special about Their Love: These two had a love so strong, war was waged against them to break them up. When Mark Antony left his wife, Octavia, for the mesmerizing Cleopatra, Octavia’s brother Octavian brought the army of Rome to destroy them. These two lovers were so entranced with each other that they committed suicide rather than be apart- the ultimate Romeo and Juliet true love story.

Mahatma`s Teachings

I like both the movies MunnaBhai MBBS and Lage Raho MunnaBhai. I dont know about the Gandhi`s political decisions but I believe in his teachings to the nation.

Universal Truth about Boys............lolz!!

Now i truly admit, Google is very very very smart......

Sunday, July 31, 2011

52. Story of Vaivasvata Manu (Shiv Puran)

The sages wished to know from Romaharshana the details of Vaivasvata Manu's birth.

The sage Kashyapa's son was Vivasvana or the sun. The sun was married to Tvashta's (same as Vishvakarma) daughter Samjna. Vivasvana and Samjana had three children, Vaivasvata, Yama and Yamuna. Samjna could not however stand the strong energy of her husband, the sun. From her own body she created Chhaya, a woman who looked just like her. Samjna and Chhaya could not be distinguished from each other.

Samjna told Chhaya, Stay here and retend to be Samjna. Look after my three children, Vaivasvata, Yama and Yamuna. I am going off to my father's house. Don't tell anyone that you are not Samjna. I will do your bidding, replied Chhaya, But the moment someone grasps me by the hair, I will dvulge the truth.

Samjna went to Tvashta'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. Samjna therefore adopted the form of a mare and began to live in the kingdom that is known as Uttarakuru.

Meanwhile, the sun and Chhaya had a son named Savarni. It was clear that Chhaya doted on Savarni. In comparison, Yama felt neglected. Yama was still very young and in a fit of rage, he kicked Chhaya. Chhaya cursed Yama. Yama was very surprised at this, since no mother curses her own son. He went and reported it to the sun. The sun deduced that Chhaya could not be Yama's mother. He grasped Chhaya by the hair and the truth came out.

The sun then went to Tvashta in search of Samjna. It was discovered that Samjna had done all this because she could not bear the energy of her husband. Tvashta chiselled off some of the sun's energy so that his radiance become muted.

Learning that Samjna had adopted the form of a mare, the sun adopted the form of a horse. He went and met his wife. As horse and mare, they had two children. These were the twin gods known as the Ashvinis. They were also called Nasatya and Dasra.

Vaivasvata Manu performed a yajna so as to have a son. From the sacrifice, a daughter Ila was born. Chandra's son Budha married Iia and they had a son named Pururava. This was the origin of the lunar dynasty which started with Pururva.

Later on, Vaivasvata Manu had nine sons. Their names were Ikshvaku, Shivi, Nabhaga, Dhrishnu, Sharyati, Narishyanta, Isha, Karusha and Priyavrata. These sons were the originators of the solar dynasty.

The assembled sages were gratified at Romaharshana having recited for them the Shiva Purana. They worshipped Romaharshana. But, warned Romaharshana, never divulge what I have told you, to those who are disrespectful or to those who do not believe in god.

Repeatly, Shiva himself appears in order to bless his devotees. A person who donates the Shiva Purana, along with gold and a bull, gets to live for ever in Shivaloka.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

51. Manvantaras (Shiv Puran)

Each manvantara is ruled over by a Manu and there are fourteen manvantaras in any kalpa. The gods (devas), the seven great sages (saptarshis), and the Indra, change from one manvantara to another.

The first Manu was Svayambhuva. The names of the gods then were yama and the names of the seven sages were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vashishtha.

The second Manu was Svarochisha. The names of the gods then were tushita and the names of the seven sages were Agnidhra, Agnivaha, Medha, Medhatithi, Vasu, Jyotisvana and Dyutimana.

The third Manu was Outtama. The names of the gods then were rishabha and the names of the seven sages were the urjjas. (The individual names of the sages are not given).

The fourth Manu was Tamasa. The names of the gods then were satya and the names of the seven sages were Gargya, Prithu, Agni, Janya, Dhata, Kapinka and Kapivana.

The fifth manu was Raivata. The names of the gods then were raibhya and the names of the seven sages were Vedavahu, Jaya, Muni, Vedashira, Hiranyaroma, Parjanya and Urddhavahu.

The sixth Manu was Chakshusha. There were five types of gods in the sixth manvantara and their names were adya, prasuta, ribhu, prithugra and lekha. The names of the seven sages were Bhrigu, Naha, Vivasvana, Sudharma, Viraja, Atinama, and Asashishnu.

The seventh manvantara is the manvanatara that is now going on. The seventh Manu is Vaivasvata. The names of the seven sages are Atri, Vashishtha, Bhavya, Kashyapa, Goutama, Bharadvaja and Vishvamitra.

The remaining seven manvantaras will come in the future.

The eight Manu will be Savarni. The Shiva Purana gets extemely confused here and it is not possible to make out clearly who the gods will be in the future manvantaras. But the names of the seven sages of the eighth manvantara are Viravana, Avanivana, Sumantra, Dhritimana, Vasu, Varishnu and Arya.

The nine Manu will be Rohita. The names of the seven sages will be Medhatithi, Vasu, Bhargava, Angira, Savana, Havya and Poulaha.

The tenth Manu will be Merusavarni. The names of the gods then will be dvishimanta and the names of the seven sages will be Havishmana. Pulaha, Sukriti, Ayomukti, Vashishtha, Prayati and Nabhara.

The eleventh Manu will be Brahmasavarni. The names of the seven sages will be Havishmana, Kashyapa, Vapushmana, Varuna, Atreya, Anagha and Angira.

The twelfth Manu will be Dharmasvarni. The names of the sages will be Dyuti, Atreye, Angira, Tapasvai, Kashyapa, Taposhana and Taporati.

The thirteenth Manu will be Rouchya. The names of the seven sages will be Kashyapa, Magadha, Ativahya, Angirasa, Atreya, Vashishtha and Ajita.

The fourteenth and last Manu will be Bhoutya. The names of the seven sages are not mentioned.

What about the gods of the seventh manvantara, the era that is now current? The gods now are forty-nine vayus, eleven rudras, two ashvinis, twelve adityas and eight vasus.

Friday, July 29, 2011

50. Astronomy (Shiv Puran)

How far do the boundaries of bhuloka (earth) extend? These boundaries extend to the furthest points that can be lit up by the rays of the sun and the moon. Above the region of the sun is that of the moon. This is successively followed by the regions of Budha (Mercy), Shukra (Venus), Mangala (Mars), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shani (Saturn) and the nakshatras (stars). Next comes saptarshiloka, the circle of the seven great sages (the constellation Ursa majoris), These regions beyond the earth are known as bhuvarloka. Beyond it is svarloka or svarga (heaven). Bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka are destroyed in the destruction that comes at the end of a kalpa.

Regions which are further beyond are not destroyed at the end of a kalpa. The first of these regions is dhruvaloka, the circle of the Pole Star. Next come maharloka, janaloka, tapaloka and satyaloka. Including the earth, there are thus seven regions (lokas) that have been mentioned.

Under the earth is the underworld (patala). This is also divided into seven regions. Their names are patala, sutala, vitala, nitala, mahatala, agryasutala and rasatala.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

49. Geography (Shiv Puran)

The earth is divided into seven regions (dvipas), The names of these regions are Jambudvipa, Plakshadvipa, Shalmalidvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Pushkaradvipa and Shakadvipa. These seven regions are surrounded by seven seas. The names of the seas are Lavana, Ikshu, Sarpi, Dadhi, Dugdha, Jala, and Rasa.

Mount Sumeru is right in the middle of Jambudvipa. To the north of Sumeru are the mountains Nila and Shvetabhangi and to the south of Sumeru are the mountains Himavana. Hemakuta and Nishada. These mountains are full of all sorts of jewels.

Jambudvipa is divided into many parts (varshas). Right in the centre, where Mount Sumeru is located, is Ilavritavarsha. To the south of Sumeru are Bharatavarsha, Kimpurushavarsha and Harivarsha. To the north of Sumeru is Ramyakavarasha. Next to this is Hiranmayavarsha and further north is Uttarakuruvarsha.

The four major mountains in Ilavritavarsha are Mandara, Gandhamadana, Vipula and Suparshva. They are respectively to the east, south, west, and north of Sumeru. Bhadrashvavarsha is to the east of Sumeru and Ketumalavarsha is to the west. On the top of Mount Sumeru is Brahma's famous city. The holy river Ganga flows through the sky and divides into four. The names of these tributaries are Sita, Alakanada, Chakshu and Bhadra. Sita flows to the east of Sumeru, Nanda or Alakananda to the south. Chakshu to the west and Bhadra to the north.

Bharatavarsha is bounded by mountain ranges on the north and the sea on the south. Bharatavarsha is divided into nine parts. The names of eight of these parts are Indradyumna, Kaseru, Tamraparna, Soumy, Gabhastimana, Nagadvipa, Gandharva and Varuna. The ninth part is an island surrounded by the ocean. On the eastern side of Bharatavarsha live the kiratas, on the western the yavanas, on the southern the andhras and ont he northern the turaskas.

The seven major mountains in Bharatavarasha are named Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Shuktimana, Riksha, Vindhya and Pariyatra From each of these mountains several rivers flow.

Bharatavarsha is a sacred place. Only those who have accumulated punya over a thousand human lives get to be born in Bharatavarsha. Shiva is always present here to offer salvation to the residents.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

48. Story of Hells (Shiv Puran)

There are several hells. Each hell is earmarked for a specific type of sinner.

A killer of brahmanas, a false witness, a liar and a drinker of wine is sent to the hell named rourava. Shukara is for thieves and killers of cattle. Killers of kshatriyas and vaishyas are also sent there. Those who commit infanticide are sent to taptalouha. A person who insults his teacher or criticizes the Vedas goes to taptakhala. Those who insult gods, brahmanas or kings are sent to krimibhaksha. Lalabhaksha is reserved for those who eat without offering food to the gods. A brahmana who eats what he should not goes to vishasana.

Sellers of wine are to be found in rudhirandha and killers of bees in vaitarani. Cheats are sent to krishna and destroyers of trees to asipatravana. A hunter of deer goes to vahnijvala, Agnimaya is for arsonists and sandamsha for those who fail to complete a vrata. If you accept your son as a teacher, you are sure to go to shvabhojana.

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 Shiva. Even if one merely remembers Shiva, that is enough.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

47. Story of Parashurama (Shiv Puran)

There was a king named Gadhi. His daughter was name Satyavati. Satyavati was married to the sage Richika.

Richika arranged for a spectacular sacrifice. Some rice pudding was obtained from the yajna and Richika gave it to his wife Satyavati. He said, Split this rice pudding into two halves. Eat half yourself and give the remaining half to your mother. Here, let me divide it. This is your half and that is your mother's. We are brahmanas. So we will have a son who will display the traits of a brahmana. Your father is a kshatriya and your mother will have a son who will behave like a kshatriya.

Saying this, Richika went off to meditate in the forest. But mother and daughter managed to mix up their halves. In the course of his meditations, Richika realized that Satyavati was going to give birth to a brahmana son who would display kshatriya traits. Through his powers, he managed to postpone this birth by a generation. So Satyavati gave birth to Jamadagni. It was Jamadagni's son Parashurama who exhibited all the kshatriya like characteristics.

Gadhi's son was Vishvamitra. Vishvamitra was born a kshatriya. But because of the mixing up of the rice pudding, Vishvamitra turned out to be brahmana-like.

There was a king of the Haihaya dynasty named Arjuna. 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, Arjuna used to burn up villages, cities and forests. He once burnt up the hermitages of sages. And one of the sages cursed Arjuna that he would killed by Parashurama.

Parashurama learnt the art of fighting from Shiva himself. While Parashurama was away learning how to fight, Arjuna arrived in Jamadagni's hermitage. Jamadagni had a wonderful cow (dhenu), known as a kamadhenu because it produced whatever objects one asked (Kama) from it. Using this kamadhenu, Jamadagni treated Arjuna and his entrie retinue to a royal feast.

Arjuna asked Jamadangi to give him this cow, but the sage refused. Arjuna then asked his soldiers to forcibly take away the cow. But just as this was going on, Parashurama arrived. He killed Arjuna, slicing off Arjuna's thousand arms in the process.

Having disposed of Arjuna, Parashurama went off to meditate and pay another visit to Shiva.

Taking advantage of Parashurama's absence, Arjuna's sons invaded Jamadagni's hermitage. They killed Jamadagni. When Parashurama returned, he exacted vengeance for this evil deed. He killed Arjuna's sons. Since Arjuna and his sons happened to be kshatriyas, Parashurama also killed all the kshatriyas 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 Parashurama had committed a sin. As penance, Parashurama donated cows and performed a lot of tapasya. He also arranged an ashvamedha yajna. All this did not prove to be atonement enough. To complete the penance, Parashurama sought the advice of the sage Kashyapa.

Kashyapa told him to perform the donation that is known as tulapurusha. A tula (or tuladanda) is a pair of scales. The person (purusha) who is performing the donation is placed on one side of the weighing scale. On the other side are placed objects like honey , clarified butter, molasses, clothing and gold. The weight of the objects being donated has to be equal to the weight of the person performing the donation. This is known as tulapurusha. Parashurama performed tulapurusha and was freed from his sin.

Monday, July 25, 2011

46. Story of Shatanika and Shasranika (Shiv Puran)

In the region named Jambudvipa, there used to rule a king named Shatanika. He was the best among warriors. But he was also very religious. He donated alms and treated his guests well. Every day, the brahmanas received gold and clothes from Shatanika. When Shatanika died, his son Sahasranika became king.

Sahasranika also ruled well and righteously. But he did not donate as much of alms to the brahmanas as his father used to. They took their complaint to the king and said, You do not give as much of alms to us as your father used to. Many brahmanas have already left your kingdom. So will the others, unless you increase the alms you give us.

I have indeed heard that the donation of alms to brahmanas brings punya, replied Sahasranika. 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 brahmanas, he must be in heaven. You are all learned brahmanas. Why don't you tell me where my father is right now?

The brahmanas could not reply. They had no idea where Shatanika was. But later on, they met a learned sage named Bhargava. Bhargava was so powerful that the brahmanas were sure that he would be able to tell where Shatinika was. They begged Bhargava to help them. Bharagava was not very interested in helping the brahmanas. 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 brahmanas kept begging him and Bhargava eventually agreed.

The sun god himself led the way and, following the sun god, Bhargava went all the way to Yama's abode. It was a long distance away.

The sun god led Bhargava straight to where the twenty-eight crores of narakas (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 brahmana.

Bhargava, said the brahmana, 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 Bhargava. When I return home, I will collect a coin and bring it back to you. Now let me move forward.

Nonsense, said the brahmana. 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, why then , pay me one-sixth of all the punya that you have earned through your mediations. Bhargava 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 Bhargava owed some money and they would not let him go until the debts were cleared. In each case, Bhargava parted with one-sixth of his punya so that he was left with none at all.

When these accounts were settled, the sun god led Bhargava to the hell where Shatanika was. Bhargava was bewildered to find such a righteous king as Shatanika in a hell. The king was hung upside down in a pot and was being boiled in oil.

Bhargava asked Shatanika, 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 brahmanas. 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 Shiva in the month of Chaitra and on chaturdashi tithi (fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight).

When Bhargava returned, he related what he had been told to Sahasranika. Sahasranika did not stop donating alms. But the money for such alms no longer came out of the royal treasury. The king worked as a labourer and used this money for the donation of alms. He also observed the vrata that his father had asked him to observe in honour of Shiva.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

45. Story of Yama (Shiv Puran)

The sage Sanathkumara was Brahma's son, Sanathumara had gone to visit Yama, the god of death. While they were conversing, a shining vimana brought a man to Yama who immediately stood up to honour the guest.

Yama worshipped him and said, I am honoured. I hope you had no problems on the way. The vimana will take you to Brahma's residence in Brahmaloka.

After this guest had left, another shining vimana brought another guest who was also worshipped in similar fashion by Yama.

Sanatkumara was mystified at this. He asked Yama, Who are these two people? I have never heard of Yama worshipping anyone in such glowing terms. These two must be holy men indeed. They must have accumulated a lot of punya. Who are they? Tell me their stories.

Yama obliged.

There was a city named Vaidisha. The king who ruled there was named Dharapal. Nandi was cursed by Parvati that he would have to spend twelve years on earth as a jackal. His crime was that, when Parvati had gone to perform tapasya, Nandi had permitted a false Parvati to enter Shiva's palace.

Nandi was born as a jackal. The jackal went to the confluence of the rivers Vitasta and Vetravati. There it set up a linga and prayed before it, going without food and water.

After the twelve years passed, the jackal died and adopted a shining form. In this form, Nandi returned to Shivaloka.

King Dharapala 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 brahmanas to the temple and made them recite the Puranas there.

When Dharapala died, it was decided that he would go to Brahmaloka because of all this punya. This was the first guest who had come before Yama. Such are the wonderful virtues of worshipping Shiva and the Puranas.

What about the second guest? asked Sanatkumara.

The second quest used to be evil. He had never donated anything in his life. But he once heard the Paranas being recited and was completely converted. He arranged many recitals of the Puranas on his own and donated gold to the reciters.

This punya was going to take him to Brahmaloka. Such are the wonderful virtues of hearing and reading the Puranas. Doing this is tantamount to worshipping Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

44. Story of False Parvati (Shiv Puran)

Shiva had once gone on a visit to a city named Shonitapura. He was accompanied by many gandharvas and apsaras. Parvati was left behind in Kailasa and Shiva felt lonely without her.

He called Nandi and said, Go to Kailasa and ask Parvati to come here.

Nandi went to kailasa and told Parvati that Shiva wanted her. Parvati said that this would take a little time, since she wanted to get ready first. Nadi went back and reported to Shiva what Parvati had said. Shiva waited for a little while, but Parvati did not come. He therefore sent Nandi again to Kailasa with the injuction that he should not come back without Parvati.

The apasaras meanwhile decided that they would play a trick on Shiva. One of them would disguise herself and pretend to be Parvati. An apsara named Chitralekha agreed to do this. Another apsara named Urvashi diguised herself as Nandi. Other apsara disguised themselves as companions of Parvati.

So good were their disguises that it was impossible to detect them as being false.

The false Nandi then brought the false Parvati to Shiva and said, Parvati has come. Her companions, the other goddesses, have also come.

Shiva was delighted. He was not able to detect that this was a false Parvati. While they were having great fun, the real Parvati, the real Nandi 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 apsaras adopted their real forms.

Neither Shiva nor Parvati were angry at this practical joke.

This is an incident from the time when Parvati went away to do tapasya so as to become fair. Before going away to meditate, she called Nandi to her and said, My husband does not know the difference between real Parvatis and false ones. Keep careful guard at the gate and do not let any false Parvatis enter.

There was an asura named Adi. He performed tapasya and wanted a boon from Brahma which would make him immortal. Brahma refused to grant him this, but granted him the boon that Adi would be very strong. Happy with this boon, Adi wandered around the Himalayas and discovered Nadi standing guard at the gate to Shiva's palace.

What are you doing here? the asura asked Nandi.

Nandi reported the conversation that had taken place with Parvati.

The demon went away. But he soon returned, this time disguised as Parvati. Lest Nandi not let him pass, he slimed through the gate disguised as a snake. And once inside the palace, he resumed his form of Parvati. He then went to meet Shiva. Shiva did not realize that this was a false Parvati and he came forward to embrace Adi. But no sooner had Shiva embraced him, than the asura adopted his own form and tried to kill Shiva. The two fought and Shiva killed Adi. But before dying, the asura played another trick.

He told Shiva, I have a brother who is stronger than me. He will return here in the form of Parvati and will kill you. This was a blatant lie. Adi had no brother.

The real Parvati returned after finishing her tapasya. But Shiva thought that this was demon disguised as Parvati. He created many beings from his body so as to kill Parvati. But Parvati also created many beings from her own body and these swallowed up Shiva's beings. When this had gone on thousands of times. Shiva realized that this must be the real Paravati.

Shiva and Parvati were united.

There were not more false Parvatis.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

43. Story of Ruru (Shiv Puran)

There was another demon who wanted to marry Parvati as well. His name was Ruru. He happened to see Parvati and decided that this was the woman who would be his wife. He began to to perform tapasya so that his desire might be satisfied.

Brahma appeared before him and asked, Ruru, why are you performing such difficult tapasya? Can I offer you a boon?

That is a boon that not even I can grant you, said Brahma.

Brahma departed and Ruru continued with his meditation. This meditation was going on in a mountain named Malaya. And such was the power of Ruru's meditation that the mountain started to burn. The fires were so strong that even Shiva and Parvati had to run away from the mountain.

Lord, why are we running away? asked Parvati. Why don't you do something about the fire?

I can't, answered Shiva. This fire is on account of Ruru's tapasya and he is performing this tapasya so as to marry you. It is up to you to do something about Ruru.

Parvati decided that she would. While they were conversing, they saw a lion fighting with an elephant. Parvati 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, Parvati went to where Ruru was. Ruru, she said. I have come. I am Parvati.

I am the one you have been praying for. Now stop meditating.

Rubbish, replied the demon. Parvati is beautiful. Her face is like the moon, her hue is golden, and her arms are like lotus stems. Just look at yourself. Your looks are terrible. You can't be Parvati. You are lying. Go away, I don't want you.

Saying this, Ruru struck Parvati with a mace. Parvati was angry at this and she hit Ruru with her fits. The two fought, with Ruru flinging boulders and trees at the goddess.

Parvati used her nails and her teeth to get at the demon. Ruru created several other asuras from his body. In retaliation, Parvati created many goddesses known as shaktis from her body. The shaktis began to eat up the demons.

Ruru fled. But Parvati pursued him to the ends of the earth. He fled to heaven. Parvati followed him there. He fled to the underworld, but Parvati pursued him there as well.

Finally, Ruru could flee no more. Parvati caught hold of him and tore off his head with her nails. She then drank the demon's blood. Parvati also skinned the demon.

Thus it was that Ruru was killed. On her return to Shiva, Parvati gave him the lion's pelt that she had so far been wearing and Shiva donned it. For her own clothing, Parvati put on Ruru's skin.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

42. Andhaka Again (Shiv Puran)

Andhaka had been crowned king in Hiranyanetra's kingdom. Prahlada and Andhaka's other cousins went to him and said, You are blind. What are you going to do with a kingdom? Give it to us. Our uncle made a mistake in accepting a blind son from Shiva.

Andhaka was very hurt at these nasty words. He went away to the forest and started to perform tapasya. He prayed to Brahma. For millions of years he stood on one leg, with his arms raised high, and prayed. No one since that day has been able to duplicate Andhaka's wonderful feat of meditation.

He did not eat or drink at all. He chopped off parts of his body and offered it to the sacrificial fire. It came to such a pass that there was no more meat of blood left in his body. It had all been offered to the fire. He was just a skeleton. It was then that Brahma appeared before him and offered a boon.

Prahlada and my other cousins have taken over my kingdom, said Andhaka. 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.

Brahma was in a fix. Earlier, many demons had asked for similar boons, but they had generaly not mentioned Vishnu. So that , when the need arose, Vishnu had been able to kill them. But here was an asura who asking for the boon that even Vishnu would not be able to kill him. This would make him virtually immortal.

Everything that you have asked for is possible, replied Brahma. But all beings have to die.

Indicate the circumstances under which you will die and the boons will be granted.

Since I have to die, said Andhaka, 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 Brahma granted Andhaka the boons. Andhaka returned to his kingdom. When Prahala and the other cousins learnt that Andhaka had become so powerful because of the boons, they not only returned to him his kingdom, but theirs as well.

Remember that Andhaka could now see.

The first thing that Andhaka 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 (nagas), the gandharvas, the rakshasas, the yakshas (companions of Kubera) and the humans. Thus he began to rule over all the three worlds.

For millions of years Andhaka ruled in this fashion. The religion of the Vedas suffered during this period, since Andhaka paid no attention to it.

Once Andhaka went to a visit tot he Mount Mandara. The place was so beautiful that he made up his mind to live there. Three of Andhaka's generals were named Duryodhana, Vighasa and hasti.

These three were exploring the environment of Mount Mandara 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 Andhaka.

When the generals came back to Andhaka and reported on what they had seen, the asura king said, What are you waiting for? Go to the ascestic and ask him for the woman.

Duryodhana, Vighasa and Hasti went back to the ascetic. You are only an ascetic, they said. You don't deserve 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 Brahma. Give us this woman so that our master Andhaka may marry her.

Ask your master to come and take the woman himself, replied Shiva, for the ascetic, as you have already guessed, was none other than Shiva. And the beautiful woman was Parvati.

As soon as he heard this, Andhaka grasped his sword and came to fight with Shiva. The door to the cave was guarded by Nandi, and Andhaka first had to fight with him.

Nandi easily defeated the asura and also defeated the asura soldiers who had accompanied their king. But Andhaka returned and again a fight raged with Nandi for five hundred years. Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and the other gods also came to help in the fight with the demons.

The general Vighasa was a very strong warrior. He opened his mouth wide and swallowed up all the gods, including Vishnu. So far, Shiva himself had not played any part in the fighting. But hearing what Vighasa had done, he ascended his bull and came out to fight. He killed Vighasa and rescued the gods from the asura's stomach. The asuras had a preceptor named Shukracharya who knew the art of bringing back dead beings to life. So Shukracharya moved around the battlefield, brining back to life any demons that were killed. This was not helping the cause of the gods at all. Shiva's companions (gangas) captured Shukracharya and brought him to Shiva. Shiva promptly swallowed up Shukracharya.

Soon all the demons were taken care of, with the exception of Andhaka. 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 asura's body. But whenever drops of blood from his body onto the ground, asuras 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 Andhakas.

Shiva created a goddess known as Devi from his own body. Devi was appointed the task of drinking up the blood of the asuras before it could spill onto the ground. Thus aided by Devi, Shiva started to tackle the demons and soon there was only the original Andhaka left. Shiva flung a trident at him.

The trident struck Andhaka on the chest and the asura king fell down dead.

When the war was over, Shukracharya prayed to Shiva and was released from Shiva's stomach.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

41. Story of Hiranyanetra and Hiranyakashipu (Shiv Puran)

Hiranyanetra was very strong and powerful. He conquered the three worlds and drove the gods out of heaven. He even took the earth down to the underworld. In desperation, the gods prayed to Vishnu for deliverance.

Vishnu adopted the form of a boar (varaha) and went down to the underworld in search of Hiranyanetra. When he found the asura, he killed him with his sudarshana chakra. He also killed several other asuras with his boar's tusks. Then, he lifted up the earth with his tusks and replaced it where it should be. So far as Hiranyanetra's kingdom was concerned, Vishnu crowned Andhaka king there.

Hiranyanetra had a brother named Hiranyakashipu. This brother prayed to Brahma and obtained a boon that made him virtually impossible to kill. Armed with this boon, Hiranyakashipu conquered the three worlds and drove the gods out of heaven. The gods again started to pray to Vishnu for deliverance.

Vishnu adopted the form of a lion and entered Hiranyakashipu's captial. The lion had a huge mane and sharp teeth and claws. The lion killed several asuras and this news was brought to Hiranyakashipu.

He decided to kill the lion.

Hiranyakashipu had several sons, one of whom was named Prahlada. Prahala 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. Prahlada 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.

Hiranyakashipu then himself attacked the lion with all sorts of weapons. But all the weapons wre exhausted and the demon could do the lion no harm.

Finally, the lion grasped Hiranyakashipu and tore the asura's heart out with its claws.

This was the narasimha (half-man, half-lion) incarnation of Vishu.

Having killed Hiranyakashipu, Vishnu crowned Prabhlada king.

Monday, July 18, 2011

40. Story of Andhakasura (Shiv Puran)

Shiva was once sitting on Mount Mandara. Paravati came up from behind, so that Shiva could not see her, and covered Shiva's eyes with her two hands. Shiva could not see and everything seemed to be dark to him. Parvati's hands sweated from the exertion and the sweat fell down on the ground. From this sweat, a dark and fierce creature was born and started to roar.

Parvati, said Shiva, What are you up to ? First, you cover up my eyes so that I can't see. Next, you roar so as to frighten me.

Not I, replied Parvati. See for yourself. I wonder where this creature has come from.

She removed her hands and Shiva saw the being in front of them. It is our son, said Shiva. It was born from your sweat when you covered my eyes. Since it was born when my eyes were in darkness, let it be called Andhaka.

Andhaka was born blind, as Shiva was effectively blind when Andhaka was born.

There was an asura named Hiranyanetra. (In other Puranas, this same asura is referred to as Hiranyaksha.) Hiranyanetra had no sons.

He therefore began to pray to Shiva so that he might have a son. Shiva told Hiranyanetra that it was impossible for him to have a son. However, if he so desired, he could have their son Andhaka and bring him up as his own son.

Hiranyanetra gladly agreed to this.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

39. Story of Upamanyu (Shiv Puran)

The sage Vyaghrapada had a son named Upamanyu. When he was small, he wanted some milk from his mother. But he was not at all happy with the milk that his mother gave him. He complained that it did not taste like milk at all.

Naturally, said his mother. I did not give you milk. How can we afford milk? We are not rich. I powdered some rice and mixed it with water. That is what I gave to you as milk. Unfortunately, you have tasted milk in your uncle's house and you could make out the difference.

Upamanyu's mother began to cry. But Upamanyu consoled his mother. Don't cry, please, he said. I will pray to Shiva and get milk for myself.

His mother taught him the mantra that was to be used for praying to Shiva. She also taught him another mantra which would summon up a terrible divine weapon named aghorastra. This was just in case there was any danger.

Upamanyu went to the Himalayas 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 linga. Demons came to disturb his meditation, but Upamanyu paid no attention to them. Shiva himself was impressed by Upamanyu's difficult tapasya. 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?

I am blessed that the king of the gods has arrived before me, replied Upamanu. I am praying to Shiva.

Shiva! Why pray to that useless fellow? asked Shiva.

Upamanu could not stand this insult to Shiva. He summoned up aghorastra by means of the mantra and let it loose at the person he thought was Indra. Shiva then manifested himself in his own form and aghorastra was repelled by Nadi, who had also turned up. Shiva himself taught Upamanu all sorts of sacred knowledge, and arrangements were made so that Upamanyu need never suffer from a lack of milk.

Krishna once came to meet the sage Upamanyu, many years after the milk incident.

Upamanyu taught Krishna the words of wisdom that he learned from Shiva; he also taught Krishna to pray to Shiva. It was by praying to Shiva that Krishna obtained his son Samba. For sixteen months Krishna had to pray before Shiva appeared, to grant the boon regarding the son. Parvati also granted Krishna several boons.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

38. Story of Parvati Becomes Gouri (Shiv Puran)

There were two asuras named Shumbha and Nishumbha. They meditated a lot and pleased Brahma. Brahma thereupon gave them the boon that they could not be killed by males. Having obtained the boon, the two demons started to oppress the world. They drove the gods out of heaven and the gods went to Brahma so that a solution might be found to the problem.

Brahma went to Shiva. You have to help the Gods, he told Shiva. I have given Shumbha and Nishumbha the boon that they cannot be killed by males. Find a way so that a female is born out of Parvati's body. She will kill Shumbha and Nishumbha.

I will try, replied Shiva.

When Shiva next met Parvati, he addressed her as Kali. This angered Parvati, since kali means black or dark.

Why did you marry me if you thought I was so dark? she asked Shiva. Why do you pretened to love me? Cursed is the woman who is not loved by her husband. I am going to perform tapasya so that I may become fair. I am going to pray to Brahma.

Parvati went off to meditate. She meditated for many years.

There was a tiger which saw Parvati meditating. It was not a good tiger at all, but an evil one. It thought that Parvati would provide a good meal. It sat down in the front of Parvati to appreciate for a while the treat that was in store for it.

Parvati did not realize that the tiger was planning to eat her. She thought that it had sat down in front of her because it 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 thoughts vanished from the tiger's mind. Now it was indeed one of her devotees.

Meanwhile, Brahma arrived to find out who Parvati was meditating. Parvati said that she wanted to become Gouri, that is, someone who was fair. She was sick and tired of being addressed as kali.

Brahma granted the boon.

Parvati shed off all the dark cells (kosha) from her body became Gouri. From the cells emerged a dark-hued goddess named Koushiki. Parvali handed over Koushiki to Brahma. Endowed with weapons by Brahma, Koushiki killed Shumbha and Nishumbha.

Parvati returned to her husband as Gouri.

What happened to the tiger? Shiva turned him into a man and he was employed by Nandi as one of Shiva's guards. He was named Somanandi.

Friday, July 15, 2011

37. Story of Daksha Yajna (Shiv Puran)

The sages aid, Romaharshana, you have not told us the story of the quarrel between Daksha and Shiva which led to Sati's death. You have only mentioned it in passing. Tell us the story now.

Romaharshana related the following story.

Daksha's daughter Sati was married to Shiva. One day, the gods, the demons and the sages went to visit Shiva and Sati in the Himalyas. Daksha accompanied the other gods on this visit. When the gods arrived, Shiva was seated and did not get up. He showed no special honour to Daksha because Daksha happened to be his father-in-law. Daksha interpreted this as a sign of disrespect. He felt insulted.

Subsequently, Daksha arranged for a yajna and sent invitations to all his other sons-in-law and their wives. He did not invite Shiva or Sati. But Sati heard about the sacrifice and resolved that she would attend it, invitiation or no invitation. In a beautiful vimana, Sati travelled to her father's house.

Daksha was not at all pleased to see Sati. In fact, he ignored her completely and devoted all his attention to his other daughters. When Sati wished to know the reason for this, Daksha told her that this was because of her husband, who happened to be a worthless fellow and did not deserve any respect. Hearing this, Sati gave up her life.

The mountain Himalaya had prayed that Sati might be born as his daughter. Sati was born as his daughter Parvati and married Shiva again. This story you already know.

Several years later, Daksha resolved to hold an ashvamedha yajna (horse sacrifice) in the Himalayas.

The gods and the sages were all invited to this sacrifices, although Shiva was not amongst the invites. The sage Dadhichi did not like this slight to Shiva and he boycotted the yajna in protest.

Parvati heard about this sacrifice and she began to incite Shiva to do something. Shiva created a being named Virabhadhra. Virabhadhra 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, Virabhadra created a female demon named Bhadrakali.

What are our orders?, asked Virabhadra and Bhadrakali of Shiva.

Go and destroy Daksha's yajna, was the order.

To help them in their endeavour, Virabhadra created several other demons from parts of his body. All of them had a thousand arms and carried weapons. Virabhadra, Bhadrakali and these other demons headed for Daksha'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. Virabhadra 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.

Daksha was frightened. But he summoned up courage and asked, Who are you and why have you come here?

We are Shiva's servants and we have come to take part in the sacrifice, replied Virabhadra.

Virabhadra 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 Virabhadra's trident and Bhadrakali's spear. The goddess Sarasvati lost her nose and the god Agni lost his arms.

The sage Bhaga had his eyes gouged out and the sage Pusha lost all his teeth.

Virabhadra sliced off Daksha's head and gave it to Bhadrakali, 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 Virabhadra shot arrows at each other. But one of Virabhadra's arrows struck Vishnu on the chest and he fell down unconscious.

Spurred on by Brahma, the gods began to pray to Shiva. These prayers pacified Shiva and he asked Virbhadra and Bhadrakali to refrain from causing any further damage.

Brahma asked, What about the gods who have been killed? Please bring them back to life, Since Shiva's anger had been appeased, he restored life to the dead gods. Those who had lost parts of their anatomy got themb ack again.

But what was to be done about Daksha? His head could not be found.

A goat's head was therefore stuck onto Daksha's body. Thus restored to life. Daksha begged forgiveness of Shiva.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

36. Story of Time (yugas) (Shiv Puran)

The smallest unit of time is nimesha. This is the amount of time it takes to blink. Fifteen nimeshas make one kashtha and thirty kashthas are one kala. Thirty kalas make one muhurta and thirty muhurtas are one day. Thirty days are one month. Each month is divided into two lunar fortnights, shukapaksha and krishnapaksha. Six months are called an ayana. There are thus two ayanas in a year.

Three hundred and sixty human years are equivalent to one year for the gods.

The lengths of the four yugas (eras) are defined in terms of years of the gods, not in terms of human years. There are four eras and their names are kritayuga or satyayuga, tretayuga, dvaparayuga and kaliyuga. Satyayuga lasts for four thousand divine years, tretayuga for three thousand, dvaparayuga for two thousand and kaliyuga for one thousand. This adds up to ten thousand divine years. The sandhyas and sandhyamshas are the intervening periods between the yugas and these add up to two thousand divine years. Thus, the four yugas taken together last for twelve thouand divine years.

In a kalpa (cycle), each of the four yugas occurs a thousand times. A kalpa has fourteen manvantaras (eras). In a manvantara, each of the four yugas thus occurs seventy one times. One kalpa corresponds to one day for Brahma. One thousand kalpas are one of Brahma's years and eight thousand of Brahma's years make one of Brahma's yugas. One thousand such yugas make up one savana and Brahma lives for three thousand savanas. This period is known as a trivrita.

During each of Vishnu's days, one Brahma is born and dies. And during each of Shiva's days, one Vishnu is born and dies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

35. Story of Nandi (Shiv Puran)

There was a sage named Shilada. He once saw that his ancestors were being tortured in hell. When he tried to find out why this was so, he was told that htis was because Shilada did not yet have a son.

To obtain a son, Shilada began to pray to Shiva. He prayed for a thousand years. At the end of the tapasya, Shiva appeared and offered to grant Shilada a boon. Shilada wanted the boon that he might have a virtuous son.

A few days later, when Shilada was ploughing the land, he discovered a baby boy on the blade of theplough. The boy was as bright as the sun and the fire. Shilada was frightened and started to run away. But the boy called after him, Father, stop. Father, stop, A voice was then heard from the sky.

This voice told Shilada that this was the son he had wanted. Since this son would make everyone happy, he was to be named Nandi.

Shilada brought nandi home to his mermitage. He taught his son the Vedas, the arts of the medicine and fighting, dancing and singing and several other sacred texts. All this Nandi mastered within fifteen days.

When nandi was seven years old, two powerful sages arrived in Shilada's hermitage. Their names were Mitra and Varuna. Shilada worshipped them and presented Nandi before them. The sages blessed Nandi with the words, Be learned, be faithful to your teacher.

Shilada said, 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 Nandi consoled his father. He promised his father that he would do something so tha this fate would have to be rewritten. He would pray to Shiva. And when he met Shiva, he would ask of him a boon.

Meeting Shiva, exclaimed Shilada. I had to meditate for a thousand years before I could get to meet Shiva. How do you expect to meet Shiva in the one year tha tis left to you?'

Wait and see, father, replied Nandi. Shiva is difficult to meet if you only perform tapasya or thirst for knowledge. The secret lies in faith and devotion. I will manage.

There is a river named Bhuvana. Nandi entered this river and began underwater prayers to Shiva . His efforts pleased Shiva so much that Shiva appeared before him.

What boon do you want? asked Shiva.

Please grant me the boon that I may be devote to you, replied Nandi. I don't want to be born become old and die.

Shiva granted Nandi the boon tha the and his father would get to live in Shiva's residence in Shivaloka. Shiva's companions are known as ?ganas. Shiva made Nandi ganapati, the chief of the ganas and retained him as a perpetu ? companion. Shiva also gave Nandi a wonderful garland to wear.

As soon as he put this garland on, Nandi became resplendent with three eyes and ten hands.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

34. Story of The Ashes (Shiv Puran)

Parvati said, I understand about the moon now. But why do you always smear ashes on your body? What is the reason for that?

Shiva told her the story.

There used to be a brahmana who was descended from the great sage Bhrigu. This brahmana began a very difficult tapasya. 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 brahmana gave up eating fruits also. He ate only green leaves. And because leaves are called parna, the brahmana came to be known as Parnada. He performed tapasya for many years.

One day, Parnada was cutting some grass and his scythe slipped and sliced off his middle finger. Parnada was amazed to find that no blood issued from the severed joint. Instead, a sap like that which issues from plants came out. Parnada'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. Parnada began to jump with delight.

Shiva decided that Parnada needed to be taught a lesson. He disguised himself as a brahmana and arrived before Parnada.

Why are you so happy? asked Shiva.

Can't you see? replied Parnada. My tapasya has been so successful that my blood has become like the sap of plants.

This sort of vantiy destroys the fruits of all tapasya, said Shiva. What have you got to be so proud about? 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 tapasya that my blood has becomes ashes.

Shiva sliced off his middle finger and ashes came out of it. Parnada was impressed. He realized that there was nothing that he could be proud about; here was a far greater hermit than he. He asked Shiva who he was and Shiva then displayed his true form to Parnada.

Ever since that day, there have always been ashes on Shiva's body.

Monday, July 11, 2011

33. Story of Chandrashekhara (Shiv Puran)

Parvati once asked Shiva, Lord, tell me, why do you wear a crescent moon on your forehead? What is the story behind this?

Shiva told her the story.

Earlier, Parvati had been born as Sati, the daughter of Daksha. As Sati, she had been married to Shiva. Since Daksha insulted her husband Shiva, Sati gave up her life.

When Sati died, Shiva no longer found pleasure in anything. He began to live in the forest and started to perform tapasya. Such was the power of the tapasya that any trees or mountains that were near the place where Shiva was meditating used to be burnt into ashes. As Shiva moved from place to place, the earth started to burn and wither away . The gods were greatly alarmed at these developments. They went to Brahma to seek advice as to how the earth might be saved.

Brahma, said, Let us take the moon god Chandra with us and make a present of him to Shiva. Chandra's visage is so pleasing that Shiva may feel happy and pacified.

The gods placed Chandra in a pot of amrita (a life-giving drink). They also had another pot that was full of poison. With these two pots they went to Shiva and offered him the pots.

Brahma said, The gods have brought you two pots. Please accept them.

Shiva first accepted the pot that contained the amrita. As soon as he did this, the crescent moon came out and got fixed to Shiva's forehead. Next Shiva accept the pot of poison and touched it with his middle finger. He touched his throat with the finger and the throat became blue. That is the reason why Shiva is known as Nilakantha, blue of throat. And because the moon is like a crown to Shiva. Shiva is called Chandrashekhara.

At the sight of the moon, Shiva was pacified.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

32. Story of Vedanidhi (Shiv Puran)

In the city of Avanti there used to be a righteous brahmana. He had two sons, Sunidhi and Vedanidhi. Vedanidhi was wicked.

The king of Avanti was so pleased with the brahmana that he gave him a golden bangle as a present. The brahmana took it home and gave it to his wife to store safely. There it was discovered by Vedanidhi. Vedanidhi stole the ornament and gave it to a dancing-girl.

It so happened that the king was watching a dance performed by the dancing-girl and he noticed the bangle on the girl's hand. He found out from the girl that the bangle had been given to her by Vedanidhi. He retrieved the bangle and called the brahmana. Do you remember the golden bangle that I had give you? said the king. Can you please return it to me? I need it.

The brahmana hurried home and asked his wife for the bangle. But it could not be found and they realized that it was Vedanidhi who had stolen it. Vedanidhi was banished from his parents' house.

He 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 shivaratri. But Vedanidhi didn't know this. He saw several people going to Shiva's temple with all sorts of offerings, including food, in their hands.

The evil brahmana thought that he might be able to steal and eat this food. He followed the devotees to the temple and waited till they should fall asleep.

When they did so, Vedanidhi crept up to the place where the offerings had been placed. This was right in front of the linga. It was very dark there and Vedanidhi could not see very well. A lamp was burning and the shadow of the lamp fell on the linga. Vedanidhi 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 linga was removed.

But when Vedanidhi was about to steal the food, the devotees awoke. They gave chase to the thief and shot at him with arrows. These arrow struck Vedanidhi and he died.

Yama's messengers arrived and wanted to take the evil brahmana to hell. But Shiva's companions also arrived and they would not permit Vedanidhi to be taken to hell. The brahmana had fasted on shivaratri day, he stay awake at night and he had removed the shadow from the linga. These were acts of the faithful, even if they had been performed unconsciously. Vedanidhi's sins were all forgiven.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

31. Story of Shivarati Vrata (Shiv Puran)

Shivaratri is the tithi (lunar day) on which Brahma and Vishnu had worshipped Shiva. A vrata is a special religious rite that is performed. A vrata observed on shivaratri (the night dedicated to Shiva) is particularly important. It brings undying punya. One stays up at night and prays to a linga. One also has to observe a fast.

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 shivaratri vrata.

But it happened to be shivaratri when 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. Rurdruha found a water-hole and decided that he would keep a vigil there. Sooner or later, some animal was bound to turn up. He climbed up onto a bilva tree that was by the side of the water-hole. And in case he should feel thirsty, he kept a pot full of water next to him. There he waited.

Soon a doe turned up to drink water. The hunter picked up his bow and arrow. When he did so, the tree shock and a few bilva leaves fell on a linga that was right under the tree. Bilva leaves are sacred to Shiva. Some water spilled from the pot and also fell on the linga. Rurudruha did not of course know this.

But the doe saw the hunter. Don't kill me right now, said the does. My children and husband are at home. Let me go and bid them farewell. When I return, you are welcome to 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 Rurdruha 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 tree shook and bilva leaves and some water fell on the linga.

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 doe had gone, the deer turned up to drink water. And when the hunter picked up his bow and arrow, bilva leaves and water again fell on the linga.

The deer said, 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.

The deer also took on oath that he would return and Rurudruha let him go.

After some time had passed, the two does and the deer came to where Rurdruha 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 when our parents are gone.

The hunter was so surprised at these developments that the tree shook again. Bilva leaves and water fell on the linga.

Shiva now took pity on Rurdruha and removed all evil thoughts from his mind. The hunter spared the deer. Shiva himself appeared before Rurudruha and said, From now on your name will be Guha. You will be so blessed that Rama will become your guest.

This story demonstrates that even if shivaratrivrata is performed unconsciously, great punya is obtained.

Friday, July 8, 2011

30. Shiva's Thousand Names (Shiv Puran)

When the sages heard this story, they said, Romaharshana, what are these thousand names of Shiva that you have mentioned? Relate them to us.

Romaharshana obliged. For convenience, let us list out these thousand names in a hundred groups of ten each.

(1) Shiva, Hara, Mrida, Rudra, Pushkara, Pushpalochana, Arthigamya, Sadachara, Sharva, Shambhu.

(2) Maheshvara, Chandrapida, Chandramouli, Vishva, Vishvamareshvara, Vedantasara-sandoha, Kapali, Nilalohita, Dhyanadhara, Aparicchedya.

(3) Gouribharta, Ganeshvara, Ashtamurti, Vishvamurti, Trivargasvargasadhana, Jnanagamya, Dridaprajna, Devadeva, Trilochana, Vamadeva.

(4) Madadeva, Patu, Parivrida, Drida, Vishvarupa, Virupaksha, Vagisha, Shuchisattama, Sarvapramanasamvadi, Vrishanka.

(5) Vrishavahana, Isha, Pinaki, Khatvanga, Chitravesha, Chirantana, Tamohara, Mahayogi, Gopta, Brahma.

(6) Dhurjati, Kalakala, Krittivasah, Subhaga, Pranavatmaka, Unnadhra, Purusha, Jushya, Durvasa, Purashasana.

(7) Divyayudha, Skandaguru, Parameshthi, Paratpara, Anadimadhyanidhana, Girisha, Girijadhava, Kuberabandhu, Shrikanatha, Lokavarnottama.

(8) Mridu, Samadhivedya, Kodandi, Nilakantha, Parashvadhi, Vishalaksha, Mrigavyadha, Suresha, Suryatapana, Dharmadhama.

(9) Kshamakshetra, Bhagavana, Bhaganetrabhida, Ugra, Pashupati, Tarkshya, Priyabhakta, Parantapa, Data, Dayakara.

(10) Daksha, Karmandi, Kamashasana, Shmashananilaya, Suksha, Shmashanastha, Maheshvara, Lokakarta, Mrigapati, Mahakarta.

(11) Mahoushadhi, Uttara, Gopati, Gopta, Jnanagamya, Puratana, Niti, Suniti, Shuddhatma, Soma.

(12) Somarata, Sukhi, Sompapa, Amritapa, Soumya, Mahatejah, Mahadyuti, Tejomaya, Amritamaya, Annamaya.

(13) Suhapati, Ajatashatru, Aloka, Sambhavya, Havyavahana, Lokakara, Vedakara, Sutrakara, Sanatana, Maharshi.

(14) Kapilacharya, Vishvadipti, Vilochana, Pinakapani, Bhudeva, Svastida, Svastikrita, Sudhi, Dhatridhama, Dhamakara.

(15) Sarvaga, Sarvagochara, Brahmasrika, Vishvasrika, Sarga, Karnikara, Priya, Kavi, Shakha, Vishakha.

(16) Goshakha, Shiva, Bhishaka, Anuttama, Gangaplavodaka, Bhaya, Pushkala, Sthapati, Sthira, Vijitatma.

(17) Vishayatma, Bhutavahana, Sarathi, Sagana, Ganakaya, Sukirti, Chinnasamshaya, Kamadeva, Kamapala, Bhasmoddhulita-vigraha.

(18) Bhasmapriya, Bhasmashyai, Kami, Kanta, Kritagama, Samavarta, Nivritatma, Dharmapunja, Sadashiva, Akalmasha.

(19) Chaturvahu, Durvasa, Durasada, Durlabha, Durgama, Durga, Sarvayudhavisharada, Adhyatmayoganilaya, Sutantu, Tantuvardhana.

(20) Shubhanga, Lokasaranga, Jagadisha, Janardana, Bhasmashuddhikara, Meru, Ojasvi, Shuddhavigraha, Asadhya, Sadhusadhya.

(21) Bhrityamarkatarupadhrika, Hiranyareta, Pourana, Ripujivahara, Bala, Mahahrada, Mahagarta, Vyali, Siddhavrindaravandita, Vyaghracharmambara.

(22) Mahabhuta, Mahanidhi, Amritasha, Amritavapu, Panchajanya, Prabhanjana, Panchavimshatitattvastha, Parijata, Para-vara, Sulabha.

(23) Suvrata, Shura, Brahmavedanidhi, Nidhi, Varnashramaguru, Varni, Shatrujita, Shatrutapana, Ashrama, Kshapana.

(24) Kshama, Jnanavana, Achaleshvara,Pramanabhuta, Durjneya, Suparna, Vayuvahana, Dhanurdhara, Dhanurveda, Gunarashi.

(25) Gunakara, Satyasatyapara, Dina, Dharmaga, Ananda, Dharmasadhana, Anantadrishti, Danda, Damayita, Dama.

(26) Abhivadya, Mahamaya, Vishvakarma, Visharada, Vitaraga, Vinitatma, Tapasvi, Bhutabhavana, Unmattavesha, Pracchanna.

(27) Jitakama, Ajitapriya, Kalyanaprakriti, Kalpa, Sarvalokaprajapati, Tarasvi, Tavaka, Dhimana, Pradhanaprabhu, Avyaya.

(28) Lokapala, Antarhitatma, Kalpadi, Kamalekshana, Vedashastrarthatattvajna, Aniyama, Niyatashraya, Chandra, Surya, Shani.

(29) Ketu, Varanga, Vidrumacchavi, Bhaktivashya, Anagha, Parabrahm-amrigavanarpana, Adri, Adryalaya, Kanta, Paramatma.

(30) Jagadguru, Sarvakarmalaya, Tushta, Mangalya, Mangalavrita, Mahatapa, Dirghatapa, Sthavishtha, Sthavira Dhruva.

(31) Aha, Samvatsara, Vyapti, Pramana, Parmatapa, Samvatsarakara, Mantra-pratyaya, Sarvadarshana, Aja, Sarveshvara.

(32) Siddha, Mahareta, Mahabala, Yogi, Yogya, Siddhi, Mahateja, Sarvadi, Agraha, Vasu.

(33) Vasumana, Satya, Sarvapaphara, Sukirti, Shobhana, Shrimana, Avanmanasagochara, Amritashashvata, Shanta, Vanahasta.

(34) Pratapavana, Kamandalundhara, Dhanvi, Vedanga, Vedavita, Muni, Bhrajishnu, Bhojana, Bhokta, Lokanantha.

(35) Duradhara, Atindriya, Mahamaya, Sarvavasa, Chatushpatha, Kalayogi, Mahanada, Mahotsaha, Mahabala, Mahabuddhi.

(36) Mahavirya, Bhutachari, Purandara, Nishachara, Pretachari, Mahashakti, Mahadyuti, Ahirdeshyavapu, Shrimana, Sarvacharyamanogati.

(37) Vahushruta, Niyatatma, Dhruva, Adhruva, Sarvashaska, Ojastejodyutidara, Nartaka, Nrityapriya, Nrityanitya, Prakashatma.

(38) Prakashaka, Spashtakshara, Budha, Mantra, Samana, Sarasamplava, Yugadikrida, Yugavarta, Gambhira, Vrishavahana.

(39) Ishta, Vishishta, Shishteshta, Shalabha, Sharabha, Dhanu, Tirtharupa, Tirthanama, Tirthadrishya, Stuta.

(40) Arthada, Apamnidhi, Adhishthana, Vijaya, Jayakalavita, Pratishthita, Pramanajna, Hiranyakavacha, Hari, Vimochana.

(41) Suragana, Vidyesha, Vindusamshraya, Balarupa, Vikarta, Balonmatta, Gahana, Guha, Karana, Karta.

(42) Sarvabandhavimochana, Vyavasaya, Vyavasthana, Sthanada, Jagadadija, Guruda, Lalita, Abheda, Bhavatmatmasamsthita, Vireshvara.

(43) Virabhadra, Virasanavidhi, Virata, Virachudamani, Vetta, Tivrananda, Nadidhara, Ajnadhara, Tridhuli, Shipivishta.

(44) Shivalaya, Balakhilya, Mahachapa, Tigmamshu, Badhira, Khaga, Adhirma, Susharana, Subrahmanya, Sudhapati.

(45) Maghavana, Koushika, Gomana, Virama, Sarvasadhana, Lalataksha, Vishvadeha, Sara, Samsarachakrabhrita, Amoghadanda.

(46) Madhyastha, Hiranya, Brahmavarchasi, Paramartha, Para, Mayi, Shambara, Vyaghralochana, Ruchi, Virinchi.

(47) Svarbandhu, Vachaspati, Aharpati, Ravi, Virochana, Skanda, Shasta, Vaivasvata, Yama, Yukti.

(48) Unnatakirti, Sanuraga, Paranjaya, Kailashadhipati, Kanta, Savita, Ravilochana, Vidvattama, Vitabhaya, Vishvabharta.

(49) Anivarita, Nitya, Niyatakalyana, Punyashravanakirtana, Durashrava, Vishvasaha, Dhyeya, Duhsvapnanashana, Uttarana, Dushkritiha.

(50) Vijneya, Duhsaha, Bhava, Anadi Bhurbhuvakshi, Kiriti, Ruchirangada, Janana, Janajanmadi, Pritimana.

(51) Nitimana, Dhava, Vasishtha, Kashyapa, Bhanu, Bhima, Bhimaparakrama, Pranava, Satpatchachara, Mahakasha.

(52) Mahaghana, Janmadhipa, Mahadeva, Sakalagamaparaga, Tattva, Tattavit, Ekatma, Vibhu, Vishvavibhushana, Rishi.

(53) Brahmana, Aishvaryajanmamrityujaratiga, Panchayajnasamutpatti, Vishvesha, Vimalodaya, Atmayoni, Anadyanta, Vatsala, Bhaktalokadhrika, Gayatrivallabha.

(54) Pramshu, Vishvavasa, Prabhakara,, Shishu, Giriraha, Samrata, Sushena, Surashatruha, Amogha, Arishtanemi.

(55) Kumuda, Vigatajvara, Svayamjyoti, Tanujyoti, Achanchala, Atmajyoti, Pingala, Kapilashmashru, Bhalanetra, Trayitanu.

(56) Jnanaskandamahaniti, Vishvotipatti, Upaplava, Bhaga, Vivasvana, Aditya, Yogapara, Divaspati, Kalyanagunanama, Papaha.

(57) Punyadarshana, Udarakirti, Udyogi, Sadyogi, Sadasanmaya, Nakshatramali, Nakesha, Svadhishthanapadashraya, Pavitra, Paphari.

(58) Manipura, Nabhogati, Hrit, Pundarikasina, Shatru, Shranta, Vrishakapi, Ushna, Grihapati, Krishna.

(59) Paramartha, Anarthanashana, Adharmashatru, Ajneya, Puruhuta, Purushruta, Brahmagarbha, Vrihadgarbha, Dharmadhenu,Dhanagama.

(60) Jagaddhitaishi, Sugata, Kumara, Kushalagama, Hiranyavarna, Jyotishmana, Nanbhutarata, Dhvani, Araga, Nayandyaksha.

(61) Vishvamitra, Dhaneshvara, Brahmajyoti, Vasudhama, Mahajyotianuttama, Matamaha, Matarishva, Nabhasvana, Nagaharadhrika, Pulastya.

(62) Pulaha, Agastya, Jatukarnya, Parashara, Niravarananirvara, Vairanchya, Vishtarashrava, Atmabhu, Aniruddha, Atri.

(63) Jnanamurti, Mahayasha, Lokaviragranti, Vira, Chanda, Satyaparakrama, Vyalakapa, Mahakalpa, Kalpaviriksha, Kaladhara.

(64) Alankarishnu, Achala, Rochishnu, Vikramonnata. Ayuhshabdapati, Vegi, Plavana, Shikhisarathi, Asamsrishta, Atithi.

(65) Shatrupreamathi, Padapasana, Vasushrava, Pratapa, Havyavaha, Vishvabhojana, Japaya, Jaradishamana, Lohitatma, Tanunapata.

(66) Vrihadashva, Nabhoyoni, Supratika, Tamisraha, Nidagha, Tapana, Megha, Svaksha, Parapuranjaya, Sukhanila.

(67) Sunishpanna, Surabhi, Shishiratmaka, Vasanta, Madhava, Grishma, Nabhasya, Vijavahana, Angira, Guru.

(68) Atreya, Vimala, Vishvavahana, Pavana, Sumati, Vidvana, Travidya, Naravahana, Manobuddhi, Ahamkara.

(69) Kshetrajna, Kshetrapalaka, Jamadagni, Balanidhi, Vigala, Vishvagalava, Aghora, Anuttara, Yajna, Shreye.

(70) Nishshreyahpatha, Shaila, Gaganakundabha, Danavari, Arindama, Rajanijanaka, Charuvishalya, Lokakalpadhrika, Chaturveda, Chatrubhava.

(71) Chatura, Chaturapriya, Amlaya, Samamlaya, Tirthavedashivalaya, Vahurupa, Maharupa, Sarvarupa, Charachara, Nyayanirmayaka.

(72) Nyayi, Nyayagamya, Nirantara, Sahasramurddha, Devendra, Sarvashastraprabhanjana, Munda, Virupa, Vikranta, Dandi.

(73) Danta, Gunottama, Pingalaksha, Janadhyaksha, Nilagriva, Niramaya, Sahasravahu, Sarvesha, Sharanya, Sarvalokadhrika.

(74) Padmasana, Paramjyoti, Parampara, Paramfala, Padmagarbha, Mahagarbha, Vishvagarbha, Vichakshana, Characharajna, Varada.

(75) Varesha, Mahabala, Devasuraguru, Deva, Devasuramahashraya, Devadideva, Devagni, Devagnisukhada, Prabhu, Devasureshvara.

(76) Divya, Devasuramaheshvara, Devadevamaya, Achintya, Devadevatmasambhava, Sadyoni, Asuravyaghra, Devasimha, Divakara, Vibudhagravara.

(77) Shreshtha, Sarvadevottamottama, Shivajnanarata, Shrimana, Shikhi-shriparvatapriya, Vajrahasta, Siddhakhadgi, Narasimhanipatana, Brahmachari, Lokachari.

(78) Dharmachari, Dhanadhipa, Nandi, Nandishvara, Ananta, Nagnavratadhara Shuchi, Lingadhyaksha, Suradhyaksha, Yogadhyaksha.

(79) Yugavaha, Svadharma, Svargata, Svargakhara, Svaramayasvana, Vanadhyaksha, Vijakarta, Dharmakrit, Dharmasambhava, Dambha.

(80) Alobha, Arthavit, Shambhu, Sarvahbutamaheshvara, Shmashananilaya, Tryksha, Setu, Apratimakriti, Lokottaras-futaloka, Trymbaka.

(81) Nagabhushana, Andhakari, Makhaveshi, Vishnukandharapatana, Hinadosha, Akshayaguna, Dakshari, Pushadantabhit, Dhurjati, Khandaparashu.

(82) Sakala, Nishkala, Anagha, Akala, Sakaladhara, Pandurabha, Mrida, Nata, Purna, Purayita.

(83) Punya, Sukumara, Sulochana, Samageyapriya, Akrura, Punyakirti, Anaymaya, Manojava, Tirthakara, Jatila.

(84) Jiviteshvara, Jivitantakara, Nitya, Vasureta, Vasuprada, Sadgati, Satkriti, Siddhi, Sajjati, Kalakantaka.

(85) Kaladhara, Mahakala, Bhuasatyapraryana, Lokalavanyakarta, Lokottarasukhalaya, Chandrasanjivana, Shasta, Lokaguda, Mahadhipa, Lokabandhu.

(86) Lokanatha, Kritajna, Krittibhushana, Anapaya, Akshara, Kanta, Sarvashastrahadvara, Tejomaya, Dyutidhara, Lokagranti.

(87) Anu, Shuchismita, Prasannatma, Durjjeya, Duratikrama, Jyotirmaya, Jagannatha, Nirakra, Jaleshvara, Tumbavina.

(88) Mahakopa, Vishoka, Shokanashana, Trllokapa, Trilokesha, Sarvashuddhi, Adhokshaja, Avyaktalakshana, Deva, Vyaktavyakta.

(890 Vishampati, Varashila, Varaguna, Saramandhana, Maya, Brahma, Vishnu, Prajapala, Hamsa, Hamsagati.

(90) Vaya, Vedha, Vidhata, Dhata, Srashta, Harta, Chaturmukha, Kailasashikharavasi, Sarvavasi, Sadagati.

(91) Hiranyagarbha, Druhina, Bhutapa, Bhupati, Sadyogi, Yogavit, Yogi, Varada, Brahmanapriya, Devapriya.

(92) Devanatha, Devajna, Devachintaka, Vishamaksha, Vishalaksha, Vrishada, Vrishavardhana, Nirmama, Nirahamkara, Nirmoha.

(93) Nirupadrava, Darpha, Darpada, Dripta, Sarvabhutaparivartaka, Sahasrajit, Sahasrarchi, Prabhava, Snigddhaprakriti, Sahasrarchi, Prabhava, Snigddhaprakritidakshina, Bhutabhavyabhavannatha.

(94) Bhutinashana, Artha, Anartha, Mahakosha, Parakaryaikapandita, Nishkantaka, Kritananda, Nirvyaja, Vyajamardana, Sattvavana.

(95) Sattvika, Satyakirti, Snehakritagama, Akampita, Gunagrahi, Naikatma, Naikakarmakrit, Suprita, Sumukha, Suksha.

(96) Sukara, Dakshinaila, Nandiskandhadhara, Dhurya, Prakata, Pritivardhana, Aparajita, Sarvasattva, Govinda, Adhrita.

(97) Sattvavahana, Svadhrita, Siddha, Putamurti, Yashodhana, Varahabhringadhrika, Bhringi, Balavana, Ekanayaka, Shrutiprakasha.

(98) Shrutimana, Ekabandhu, Anekakrit, Shrivatsalashivarambha, Shantabhadra, Sama, Yasha, Bhushaya,Bhushana, Bhuti.

(99) Bhutakrit, Bhutabhavana, Akampa, Bhaktikaya, Kalaha, Nilalohita, Satyavrata, Mahatyagi, Nityashantiparayana, Pararthavritti.

(100) Vivikshu, Visharada, Shubhada, Shubhakarta, Shubhanama, Shubha, Anarthita, Aguna, Sakshi, Akarta.

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.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

29. Story of Sudarshana Chakra (Shiv Puran)

Sudarshana chakra (a bladed discus) was Vishnu's weapon. Vishnu received this wonderful weapon as a result of Shiva's grace.

Many years ago, the demons oppressed the gods and the gods went to Vishnu for deliverance. Vishnu said that the demons were so powerful, that he would first have to worship Shiva if something was to be done about the asuras. Vishnu went to Mount Kailasa and bean to pray to Shiva. He chanted many mantras, but there was no sign of Shiva. Shiva has a thousand names and Vishnu next started to chant these names. Each day he chanted the thousand names and offered a thousand lotus flowers to Shiva.

Shiva decided to test Vishnu. One day, he stole a lotus flower from the thousand that were to be offered. 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. Shiva was now pleased 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.

Shiva then gave Vishnu the sudarshana chakra. And with this weapon, Vishnu killed the demons.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

28. Story of Arjuna and Shiva (Shiv Puran)

Duryodhana robbed the Pandavas of their rightful share of the kingdom in a game of dice. As a result of this, the Pandavas had to spend many years in the forest. While they were in the forest, Vedavyasa came to visit the Pandavas. Vedavyasa told them that they should pray to Shiva. But since Arjuna was the best suited amongst the Pandavas for worshipping Shiva, Vedvyasa taught Arjuna a special mantra (incantation). Then he asked Arjuna to go to Mount Indrakila and pray to Shiva there.

Mount Indrakila was on the banks of the river Bhagirathi.

Arjuna went to Mount Indrakila. He made a linga out of clay and started to pray to Shiva. The news of Arjuna's wonderful tapasya spread everywhere. Arjuna stood on one leg and continualy chanted the mantra that Vedavyasa had taught him.

Suddenly, Arjuna saw a boar. Arjuna thought that this fierce boar might have come to distract him from his tapasya. Alternatively, it might be a relative of the several demons that he had killed and therefore might wish him harm. Thinking this, Arjuna picked up his bow and arrow and let fly an arrow at the boar. Meanwhile, Shiva had decided to subject Arjuna to a test and he had also arrived at the spot disgusted as a hunter. When Arjuna shot an arrow at the boar, so did Shiva. Shiva's arrow struck the boar in its hindquarters and Arjuna's arrow struck the boar in its mouth. The boar fell down dead.

A dispute started between Arjuna 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 Shiva were easily repelled all of Arjuna's weapons. When all the weapons were exhausted, the two started to wrestle.

After the fight had gone on for a while, Shiva gave up his disguise of a hunter and displayed his true form to Arjuna. Arjuna wa ashamed that he had been fighting with the very person to whom he had been praying.

Please forgive me, said Arjuna.

It is all right, replied Shiva. 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?

Arjuna wanted the boon that he might obtain glory on earth. Shiva gave Arjuna his pashupata weapon. This was such a divine weapon that its possession made Arjuna invincible.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

27. Story of Ghushna and Ghushnesha (Shiv Puran)

The twelfth and last of the jyotirlingas is named Ghushnesha.

To the south, there is a mountain named Deva. A brahmana named Sudharma used to live there. His wife was called Sudeha. Husband and wife were righteous and regularly prayed to the gods. They had only one reason for complaint: they had no son. Sudeha was especially disturbed at this. Other women tended to insult her because she had no son.

Sudharma 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 wtih having a son. From this Sudharma concluded that they were not going to have a son and he did his best to console Sudeha.

But Sudeha refused to be consoled, she was miserable.

Why don't you marry again? asked Sudeha. Perhaps you will then have a son. Marry my niece Gushna.

No, replied Sudharma. 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 Sudharma married Ghushna.

Every day, Ghushna made a hundred and one lingas out of clay and worshipped them. When the day's prayers were over, she immersed the lingas in a pond. When one lakh lingas had thus been worshipped, Ghushna gave birth to a handsome boy. Shiva had taken pity on Sudharma and Ghushna.

But when the son was born, Sudeha's nature changed. As her husband had warned her, she felt jealous. She thought that Gushna got more important and she was treated like a maid. In the middle of the night, Sudeha slew the boy with a knife and threw the dead body into the pond. This was the pond where the lingas had been immersed.

As was her wont, Ghushna got up in the morning and began to worship a linga. Blood was discovered on the bed, the boy could not be found and everyone raised the alarm. But Ghushna was not distracted by this racket and did not leave her prayers. Shiva was so impressed with Ghushna's devotion that he restored her son back to life. He also wished to kill the evil Sudeha with his trident, but Gushna begged for her aunt's life and Shiva spared Sudeha. Shushna's act of forgiveness so impressed Shiva that he wished to grant Ghushna another boon, apart from restoring her son.

Ghushna desired that Shiva might alwaysbe present in a linga near the pond. This is known as Ghushnesha.

Monday, July 4, 2011

26. Story of Rama and Rameshvara (Shiv Puran)

The eleventh of the jyotirlingas is named Rameshvara.

Ravana had kidnapped Sita and Rama looked for her everywhere. He was aided in his search by the monkeys. The search brought them to the shores of the ocean.

While Rama was trying to decided how to cross the ocean, he felt very thirsty. He therefore asked the monkeys to fetch him some water. But when the water was brought, Rama realized that he should not drink the water without first praying to Shiva.

Rama constructed a linga and worshipped it with many fragrant flowers. Such were the powers of Rama's prayers that Shiva, Parvati and their companions appeared before Rama. Shiva blessed Rama and Rama requested him to stay in that place forever. It is this linga, on the shores of the ocean, that is known as Rameshvara.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

25. Story of Nagesha (Shiv Puran)

The tenth of the jyotirlingas is named Nagesha.

There used to be a rakshasa name Daruka. His wife was named Daruki. They lived in a forest on the banks of the western sea. Parvati had granted Daruki the boon that wherever Daruki went, the forest would follow.

Using this forest as a base, Daruka and Daruki began to oppress the world. They destroyed the yajnas and killed all the righteous people. In desperation, the survivors went to a powerful sage named Ourva. They told Ourva that he alone could save the world from the depredations of these rakshasas.

Ourva cursed the rakshasas 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 rakshasas. 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 Ourva's curse. They decided that they would go and live in the ocean.

Thanks to the boon that Daruki had received from Parvati, the entire forest was also submerged in the ocean and became the home of the rakshasas.

There the rakshasa lived. They did not return to earth. But they imprisoned and killed any people who travelled in boats across the ocean.

In this fashion, they once captured a vaishya (the third of the four classes) who was devoted to Shiva. The vaishya set up a linga in the prison and began to pray to Shiva. When the rakshasas saw this, they attacked him with weapons so as to kill him. This vaishya was named Supriya. Shiva gave Supriya a pashupata, a divine weapon associated with Shiva. With this the vaishya killed many demons.

The remaining rakshasas were saved by Parvati's intervention.

The linga that Supriya worshipped is Nagesha.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

24. Story of Ravana and Vaidyanatha (Shiv Puran)

The ninth of the jyotirlingas is named Vaidyanatha.

Ravana, the king of the rakshasas, meditated in the Himalayas so as to please Shiva. First he prayed on Mount Kailasa, but Shiva did not appear. He then went to a place named Vrikshakhandaka which was a little towards the south. He prayed there, but Shiva did not appear. Ravana next dug a pit in the earth and started to pray inside the pit. He established a Shiva linga inside the pit. Shiva still not appear.

Ravana therefore decided that he would immolate himself. Ravana, as you know, had ten heads. He lit a fire and severing his heads, began to offer them one by one to the fire. When nine of the heads had thus been offered, Shiva appeared.

Enough is enough, said Shiva. What boon do you want?

Please grant me the boon that I may be very strong. And please restore my nine heads, replied Ravana.

These boons Shiva granted and the place where Ravana prayed is known as Vaidyanatha.

The gods were not at all happy that Ravana had become so strong. They were afraid tha the rakshasa might start to oppress them. They therefore sent Narada to create some mischief. Narada met Ravana and asked him why he was looking so happy. Ravana related the story of the boon.

Boon, exclaimed Narada. Who believes in Shiva? Let me see if you can lift up Mount Kailasa. If you can do that, I shall indeed believe that you have become strong.

Incited by Narada, Ravana returned to Kailasa and lifted up the mountain. As the mountain shook, Shiva and Parvati were disturbed. Shiva cursed Ravana that soon a being would be born who would kill Ravana. This being was of course Rama, Vishnu's incarnation.

Friday, July 1, 2011

23. Story of Goutama and Trymbaka (Shiv Puran)

Towards the south of the country there was a mountain named Brahmaparvata. There the sage Goutama and his wife Ahalya performed tapasya for ten tousand years. While they were meditating, there were no rains in the forest for a hundred years and there was a shortage of water. Living beings died from the drought. Goutama prayed to Varuna, the god of the ocean and the rain. Varuna appeared and offered to grant a boon.

Please grant the boon that it might rain, said Goutama.

I can't do that, replied Varuna. That is beyond my powers. Ask for something else instead.

Then let us have a pond in the forest that will always be full of water, said Goutama.

This was within Varuna's powers and the pond was created. The other sages also began to use water from this pond. Normally, Goutama 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 Ahalya herself started to fetch the water. The wives of the other sages annoyed and pestered Ahyalya, but she never reacted. These wives then complained to their husbands about Ahalya and Goutama. At first the sages did not listen, but eventually, they were convinced that Ahalya and Goutama were wicked. They therefore sought to devise a plan so that these two might punished. They began to pray to Ganesha.

When Ganesha arrived, the sages said, Please grant us the boon that Goutama and Ahalya might be banished from the hermitage.

Although Ganesha 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.

Goutama had some fields of paddy and grain. Ganesha adopted the form of a lean and starving cow and began to eat up the crop. Goutama 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.

The other sages banished Goutama and Ahalya from the hermitage. They had to set up an ashrama (hermitage) that was a fair distance away. The other sages completely disassociated themselves from Goutama and Ahalya. Goutama began to think of ways of performing prayashchitta (penance) 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 Brahmaparvata a hundred times and bathe in a hundred pots of water. This would complete the penance.

All this Goutama and Ahalya did. They also prayed for a long time to Shiva.

Shiva appeared before them and offered them a boon. Goutama desired the boon that the river Ganga might always be present in the hermitage. Ganga said that she would agree subject to the condition that Shiva and Parvati were also always present in the hermitage. Parvati and Shiva agreed to do this. This established Trymbaka, the eighth of the jyotirlingas. The river Ganga which flowed there came to be known as the Godavari. So Trymbaka is on the banks of the Godavari.

What happened to the evil sages and their wives? Goutama asked that they might be pardoned. They performed penance by circling Brahmaparvata one hundred and one times, and begged forgiveness from Goutama and Ahalya.