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Tag: Vishnu

Arudra Darshanam and Chidambaram – The Cosmic Dance of Lord Shiva

Legend has it that Adisesha, on whom rests Lord Narayana, once felt that Lord Narayana’s weight was suddenly increasing. Curious, he asked Lord Narayana the reason for this. Lord Narayana smiled and said, “I was remembering the Cosmic dance of Lord Shiva which I had witnessed in person long time ago. My body welled up in sheer bliss of that memory and that it the reason you felt I was heavier.”

This made Adisesha more curious. “The mere remembrance of a dance gave so much bliss? Then how blissful would it have been to experience in person? Surely I should experience it” Adisesha thought to himself. He expressed his wish to Lord Narayana to learn more about the dance of Lord Shiva.

Lord Narayana narrated the story to Adisesha and I am narrating it to you now…

“In the ancient days, there were many Rishis living with their wives at a forest called Darukaa Vana which was filled with deodar trees. The Rishis had their ‘Kutirs’ and ‘Ashrams’ and were practising severe penance and rituals and had gained a lot of knowledge and supernatural powers. They thought they had mastered all that was there to be mastered. They were stuck in their illusion that they were the greatest and hence, did not require Divine Grace any longer.

This made them and their wives haughtier over a period of time and they started thinking no end of themselves.

Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu were witnessing this. They both decided that it was time the sages and their wives were made to realize their folly.

Lord Shiva transformed himself into an extremely handsome young mendicant while Vishnu transformed himself into the form of Mohini, the most enchanting woman in the universe.

Both of them made their appearance at the forest where the sages lived. While Mohini appeared at the place where the sages had gathered for penance, Shiva made his way to the living quarters where the womenfolk had gathered. Mohini caught the attention of the sages as expected. Soon they were all like bees attracted to nectar. Forgetting all about their penance and rituals, they were surrounding her vying to get her attention.

Shiva in the meanwhile was, in the young man’s guise seeking alms from the ladies and all the ladies felt drawn to him. They had never seen such a handsome youth before with such looks and demeanour and as if, under a spell, were competing with each other to talk to him and fussing over him.

This went on for a while and suddenly some of the sages realized the way they were behaving themselves and were bewildered to see what was happening in the women’s quarters. They realized the shallowness of their so called discipline and self-control and ashamed of their behaviour and that of their womenfolk.

They decided that this man and woman who had made them go out of their senses, were certainly some evil wizard and witch who were practising some kind of black magic.

“Let us use our powers and invoke a tiger to kill this couple” said one sage and they lit the sacrificial fire and chanted some powerful hymns. Within a few minutes a huge tiger emerged from the fire, baring its sharp teeth and claws, looking very fearful.

 It charged towards Lord Shiva with a deafening roar. The agile Shiva caught its middle with his two hefty arms and threw it on the ground. As it got up and pounced once again, Shiva caught it yet again and killed it. He tore off its skin and wrapped it around his waist.

The sages and their wives were stunned. However, it did not occur to them that the person who they were trying to fight was the Lord of the Universe.

They went on to again create with their powers, huge deadly serpents which surged from the sacrificial altar hissing loudly and swaying with vengeance.  Shiva calmly lifted one of them like a belt and wound it around his waist. The other serpents became his bracelets and necklace and were no longer fearful.

The sages were further enraged. Now they created a demon with the body of an infant – He was called ‘Apasmara Purushan’ or ‘Muyalakan’. He was the manifestation of their ignorance, possessiveness about themselves, and greed. He jumped out from the fire and charged at Lord Shiva aggressively with a savage roar.

 Shiva with a smile, picked him and threw him down, immobilized him using him as a pedestal to dance.

The sages now aimed a huge blob of fire from the altar at the Lord.

By now, Lord Shiva had assumed his own form – four arms, third eye and all. He gracefully caught and placed the blob of fire on his left palm.

The beat of the Damru in his right hand went “Tak-kit-ta tarikita tarikita… Dhrik-kit-ta tarikita tarikita… Tak-kit-ta tarikita tarikita… Dhrik-kit-ta tarikita tarikita…” and Shiva started his Tandava, the dance.

The anklets on his feet went “Ganaganagana-gangan-gangan- Jhunujhunujhunu- jhunjhun- jhunjhun”.

Nandi appeared with his drum in front and played “Drumadrumadruma – tarikita-tarikita… Drumadrumadruma – tarikita-tarikita…”. Sage Bhringi was playing the cymbals.

The sages realized Lord Shiva and were horrified to know that it was He whom they were countering all this while. They felt so embarrassed of their conduct and started praying for forgiveness along with their wives.

Initially Lord Shiva looked so fearful that even Uma, his consort who appeared there looked so frightened. Vishnu had reverted to his own form and was watching the dance with awe. Lord Shiva started smiling and dancing in bliss. Bharata Muni appeared with his palm scripts and was noting down the movements of the Lord with ceaseless wonder, for this dance of the Lord was later to be the basis of the great dance form Bharatanatyam.

Soon Indra and Lord Brahma also made their appearance along with all the Devas to watch this beautiful spectacle of the Cosmic dance and by now all of them including the sages and their wives had started to dance in bliss”.

Now, after listening to the story, Adisesha wanted to witness the dance and asked permission to go and meditate upon Lord Shiva. Lord Narayana permitted him and Adisesha started his deep penance.

Lord Shiva, pleased with Adisesha’s penance asked him what was that he was seeking. Adisesha told him that he wanted to witness His cosmic dance, the Ananda Tandava at least once. Shiva smiled and said “You will be born on earth as Patanjali. Come to Tillai Vanam and I shall perform my Ananda Tandava there”.

So Adisesha, born as Sage Patanjali went to Tillai Vanam, the place with Tillai trees which is known more famously as today’s Chidambaram. He found Vyaghrapada, the sage who had acquired tiger’s claws instead of human feet, by Lord Shiva’s grace which enabled him to climb trees early in the mornings to pluck flowers for the worship of Lord Shiva. Vyaghrapada was also praying for witnessing the Ananda Tandava of Lord Shiva and soon the day arrived.

With the sound of conches and cymbals and drums, three thousand sages appeared and there was a rain of fragrant flowers. Suddenly there appeared the brightness of ten million suns (Koti Soorya Prakasham) and in that light appeared Lord Shiva, in the same form as he had danced in the ancient times in front of the sages of Darukaa Vanam. The dance was just brilliantly magnificent with infinite splendor. Words could not describe it. Goddess Uma in the form of Sivakamasundari stood nearby smiling with pride at her husband.  Sages Patanjali and Vyaghrapada and the others witnessing the dance were soaked in the bliss which was indescribable and all of them started dancing with Shiva and almost fainted with joy.

Lord Shiva looked at Patanjali and Vyaghrapada and with the most benevolent smile asked, “Is there anything more you seek?”

The sages, with folded hands said, “O Lord of Cosmic Dance, we consider ourselves extremely lucky to have witnessed this divine dance and your lifted foot. We are absolutely sure that surrendering at that foot is the path to Moksha (salvation). So, we request you to please dance here forever, so that even the common man who is not capable of severe austerities will have an opportunity to attain salvation by surrendering at your raised foot”.

The Lord agreed and stayed in Chidambaram as Nataraja (King of dance) since then. The day of his Ananda Tandava is celebrated as Ardra Darshan of the full moon day of the Tamil month of Margazhi or Margashira.

The great saint Tirunavukkarasar Nayanar sang thus:

Kuniththa puruvamum kovvaich chevvAyil kumiN chirippum -The arched eybrows and the budding smile on the lips resembling the red Kovvai fruit

paniththa chaDaiyum pavaLam pOl mEniyiR pAlveNNIRum – The wet matted locks and milky white ashes smeared on the coral like body

iniththamuDaiya eDuththa poRpAdhamum kANappeRRAl- The beautiful golden foot of the Lord which is lifted

maniththap piRaviyum vENDuvadhE indha mAnilaththE – (to see all this) One would surely yearn to be born on this earth as a human being

Let us all be blessed by Mahadeva!!

Tidbit: On the day of Ardra Darshanam, a sweet dish by name “Kali” is prepared and offered to Lord Shiva. Click here to read the story of how that practice came about.

Lingodbhava

Hello Readers, I am penning this story after a long gap today to celebrate the eighth anniversary of Storibuzz.in today.

Thank you all for reading the stories and giving me your valuable comments which I cherish. It feels so nice to know that the blog is being useful to many and serving the purpose with which I started it.

Mahashivaratri is around the corner and I am offering this story of Lord Shiva today as an offering to Him.

All of us would have seen the murti of ‘Lingodbhava’ in almost all Shiva temples. He is usually stationed right behind the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Shiva, on the outer wall exactly behind where the Linga is on the inside.

Lingodbhava is Linga Udhbhava which means, emergence of a Linga.

Now, what is this story or from where did this Linga emerge? This is the legend we shall see today.

Once upon a time, in heaven, there was a dispute between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu on who was superior. They could not arrive at a conclusion and decided to ask Shambhu (Another name for Lord Shiva) and so they went to Him.

As they mentioned about their disagreement, Lord Shiva disappeared and a huge column of fire appeared. It looked like a huge Lingam and was so huge that there did not seem to be an end to it nor could anyone fathom the beginning. The voice of Lord Shiva was heard, asking Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma to find the beginning or end of the column of fire. Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu knew that this fire in a Linga form, was Lord Shiva.

Lord Brahma said to Lord Vishnu, “I will search the end of this Linga of Fire” and he assumed the form of a swan and started flying upward.

Lord Vishnu had no option but to find the beginning or origin of the Linga. The Linga was going beneath the ground on the earth and no one knew from where it had begun. So Lord Vishnu chose to assume the form of a wild boar and with its horns, the boar dug the earth furiously around the Linga and went down little by little hoping to find the beginning of the Linga.

As he went down further and further it was of no avail. He was extremely tired and he was nowhere near the beginning.

Lord Brahma on the other hand also could not find the end of the fire column and he was also getting tired. But he was too egoistic to go and admit to Lord Vishnu that he had been unsuccessful. He thought that if Lord Vishnu had managed to find the beginning of the Linga, Lord Vishnu would be considered supreme.

He was pondering as to what to do when he suddenly saw a Ketaki flower falling from up. Ketaki flower is called as “Thazampoo” in Tamizh. Brahma stopped the Ketaki flower and demanded where it was coming from. The flower replied that it was falling from the head of Lord Shiva.

“Aha!” thought Lord Brahma to himself. “This is an opportunity for me to establish my supremacy. Let me try.” Thinking so he told the flower about his challenge with Lord Vishnu and tried to convince the flower to be his partner in crime.

“You come with me to Lord Vishnu and tell him that you are a witness to my finding the end of the Lingam. Lord Vishnu will believe you since you adorn Lord Shiva’s locks” said he, knowing fully well that it was wrong to cheat like that.

The Ketaki flower was reluctant at first, but agreed to do as Lord Brahma said, and it descended along the column of fire along with Lord Brahma. When they reached the ground Lord Vishnu was puzzled as he saw the Ketaki flower with Lord Brahma.

Lord Brahma uttered a lie to Lord Vishnu without any shame. “Lord Vishnu, I have seen the end of this Lingam, which is Lord Shiva’s head” said he with a proud smile. Pointing to the Ketaki flower, he said, “I have obtained this flower from the ‘Shiras’ (head) of Lord Shiva”. The flower nodded in agreement.

Lord Vishnu, who did not even imagine that Lord Brahma would try to cheat, immediately folded his hands in obeisance to Lord Brahma. “I accept your supremacy Lord Brahma” he said with utmost humility and was about to bow his head when a booming voice emerged from the huge Lingam.

“Stop!!” said the voice.

As Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma looked around bewildered, Lord Shiva emerged from the fiery Lingam, his eyes red with anger.

He was enraged as Lord Brahma had uttered a lie and was trying to cheat Lord Vishnu.

Looking at Lord Brahma Lord Shiva said in a thundering voice, “You, Brahma! You have cheated! How dare you tell a lie? You could not find the end of the Lingam but you lied to Lord Vishnu? I curse you that you will never be worshipped in temples by the people of the world. This is a punishment for your conceit!”

Turning to the Ketaki flower which was trembling with fear, Lord Shiva said, “And you, Ketaki! You also agreed to the words of Brahma and jointly cheated Vishnu? I am disgusted with your behavior! I curse you that hence forth you shall not be used for worshipping me! You don’t deserve to be in my company!”

Then, he turned to Lord Vishnu with a smile and held his hands and said lovingly, “Hari, you will be loved and worshipped by mankind as they worship me!”

From then, there are no temples for Lord Brahma and the Ketaki flower is not used in the worship of Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu, on the other hand is equally loved and worshipped as Lord Shiva is, in this world!

This is the story depicted by the ‘Lingodbhava’ murti in Shiva temples. Do not forget to observe Him when you go to a Shiva temple this Shivaratri.

Narahari Sonar – The saint-poet

This is the lunar month of Kartik. This Hindu month is of immense importance to the devotees of both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva and both these Gods are worshipped with equal fervour in this month.

 Kartik month is also known as ‘Damodar Maas’ since, it is in this month that Lord Krishna who, as a child, was tied to a grinding stone by his mother as a punishment for his mischief. He thereby got the name Damodar. While crawling with the grinding stone tied to his waist, he granted salvation to two celestial beings who were cursed to be trees and hence this month is special for Lord Vishnu (Hari).

Similarly, Lord Shiva (Hara) at Somnath granted release to the Moon (Chandra) from a curse on the full moon day of the month of Kartik (Kartik Poornima). He is also believed to have vanquished the Asuras and destroyed their three cities as Tripurantaka on Kartik Poornima. Hence, this month is special for Lord Shiva.

This month being dear to both Hari and Hara, I want to share a story with you which tells us that Hari and Hara are one and the same.

In Pandarpur, there lived a goldsmith by name Narahari. He was called Narahari Sonar (meaning goldsmith). Theirs was a family of goldsmiths and Narahari was also following the family’s profession. He was an excellent and honest goldsmith who was known for his prowess in making the best jewelry. In those days there were no machines to make jewelry. All jewelry was hand- made.

Narahari was a staunch Shaivite.  Shaivites are worshippers of Lord Shiva. He was a fanatic Shaivite that he would not even look at the Gopura (Temple tower) of Lord Vithoba’s temple which was near his house.

 Pandarpur is the abode of Lord Vithoba (Vishnu) and Goddess Rukmini (Lakshmi) and one always associates Pandarpur with Vithoba and Rukmini. The shrine of Lord Vithoba is very famous and draws crowds from all over the world even now.

In those days also, there would always be thousands of visitors to Vithoba Rukmini temple at Pandarpur.

Narahari, however, always prayed to Lord Shiva at the Mallikarjuna (a form of Shiva) temple situated nearby Vithoba Rukmini temple but would be careful enough not even to look at the Vithoba temple. During temple festivals of the Vithoba Rukmini temple he would move to some other village nearby as he did not want to even hear Vithoba’s names and songs. Such was the extent of his extreme devotion to Lord Shiva.

One day, a rich landlord from a neighbouring village came to his shop.

“I heard that you are the best goldsmith in Pandarpur. I want to get a waistband made in gold embedded with precious stones. Can you make it?” he asked Narahari.

“Sure, why not?” said Narahari. Tell me for whose size it is to be made. Have you brought the person so that I can take the measurement?”

The landlord smiled. “No…no… I cannot bring the person here” He paused for a while as Narahari looked puzzled. “It is for Vithoba”, he said.

Narahari became furious as if the landlord had uttered something unpalatable.

“For that God? No. I will not be able to make it. You can go to anyone else”, he said rudely, showing the way out to the landlord.

The landlord was not the person who would budge. He did not even get up but started talking calmly to Narahari.

“Look here Narahari, I have been married for ten years and did not have a child till now. After praying to Vithoba, my wife and I have been blessed with a child. I had decided that, to express my gratitude to my God, I would adorn him with the best gold waistband made specially for Him. Therefore I came to you knowing that you are the best Sonar available. Your job is to make the jewel, whether it is for a human being or a God and I think it is wrong for you to treat a customer like this. After all, I am only asking you to make a jewel, not to pray to the God for whom you are making the jewel. Please therefore think again before you tell me to go”

Something in the voice of the landlord made Narahari to be a bit patient and think.

“What you say is correct” said Narahari. “But I will need the measurement to make this jewel and I will NOT come to the temple of this God how much ever you coax me to. It is left to you to decide what to do”.

The landlord thought for a while. “Okay” said he. “I will go and take the measurement of Vithoba’s waist with a thread and give it to you and you make the waistband. Is it OK?”

Narahari had no excuse and had to agree. The landlord gave Narahari few bars of gold and some precious rubies and emeralds to be embedded in the waistband which he was going to make.

The landlord then went to the temple and with the help of a thick thread, took the measurement of Lord Vithoba’s waist and returned. He gave the thread to Narahari and told him to make the jewel for the measurement given, as early as possible. Narahari agreed to keep it ready in a week’s time.

The landlord returned after a week to find the beautiful jewel ready. It was so exquisitely made and the gems embedded on it made it look so ornate and the landlord could not wait to see it adorn his beloved Vithoba. He thanked Narahari profusely for having put in his heart and soul into making this wonderful jewel and paid him the fees promised. He then hurried to the temple with his wife, child and family.

After doing Puja and other rituals, the landlord requested the temple priest to adorn Vithoba with the waistband. The priest tried to tie the band around the waist of Lord Vithoba and fasten the hook, but it was a tad too short that the ends of the waistband could not be hooked and therefore Vithoba could not be adorned with the waistband. The priest told the landlord to go back to the goldsmith and add a link to the waistband so that it would be a little longer and would fit the waist of Vithoba.

The landlord, though disappointed, could not help it and went back to Narahari and told him that the band was tight. Narahari was also puzzled since he had made it exactly as per the measurement given to him.

“How come there has been a flaw in my work” he thought to himself. However, he apologized to the landlord and told him to come the next day so that he could add a link to one side of the waistband to make it a little longer.

The landlord came the next day and checked if the link was added and satisfying himself took the waistband to the temple. “It will surely fit my Vithoba” he thought to himself.

This time also the landlord was in for a surprise. The waistband which was only  a wee bit short the day before, had become extremely long and loose and was sliding down the thighs of the ‘Murti’ of Vithoba.

Both the priest and the landlord and his family were shocked this time too.

The landlord could not help but exclaim his surprise aloud. “Oh Vithoba! How can this be? Yesterday it was only little bit short….”

The priest felt bad for the landlord and said to him, “I think the measurement was not taken properly. Do not worry. Go back to the goldsmith and bring him in person to take the measurement”. He did not know that Narahari had made the jewel.

The landlord was feeling very sad and silently walked back from the temple once again to Narahari’s place.

“What happened now?” asked Narahari in an irritated tone. The landlord sadly told what had happened and requested Narahari to come personally to take the measurement of Vithoba.

You can imagine how furious Narahari was. “I CANNOT AND WILL NOT COME TO THAT TEMPLE” he yelled angrily.

The landlord was not the one to give up so easily. He calmly pleaded, then argued, quarreled with Narahari and finally made him accept to come to the temple of Vithoba to take the measurement himself.

“But one condition” said Narahari wanting to have the last word. “I will only come blindfolded to the temple and you will have to lead me to your God to enable me take the measurement. I do not want to see your God even by accident. Are you agreeable to this?”

The landlord was waiting for this moment and gladly agreed to the condition.

So Narahari took a thick black cloth and made the landlord blindfold him by tying the cloth tightly across his eyes. He held the hand of the landlord and proceeded to the temple of Vithoba walking slowly. Finally they reached the ‘garbagriha’ (sanctum) of Vithobha, with Narahari standing exactly facing Vithoba ready to measure him.

Since he had no idea of the ‘Murti’ of Vithoba, he was groping about the ‘Murti’ trying to locate the waist of Vithoba. But he thought he felt a tiger skin. He moved his hands a little further up and he felt something like a “Rudraksha”. “Am I imagining?” thought Narahari. Tiger skin and Rudraksha belonged to his Lord Shiva and he thought he was measuring Vithoba. He paused for a moment and again felt the upper part of the ‘Murti’ and what was that? He felt a slimy thing like a snake and also felt water droplets fall on his hands. Wasn’t that Ganga from the matted locks of his beloved Shiva??

He was overcome with curiosity and without a thought removed his blindfold and there was Vithoba smiling at him.

Narahari immediately shut his eyes tight.

“Wrong, wrong, forgive me Lord Shiva” he mumbled hurriedly and put on his blindfold once again.

“Tighten the blindfold further” he said in an angry tone to the landlord as the landlord obeyed not knowing what was happening to Narahari.

Narahari once again tried to measure the waist, now that he had seen a glimpse of the “Murti” but once again, he felt a snake like a belt and a deer skin. He thought he heard the strains of the Damru (Shiva’s drum) “dum dum dum dum” along with the rhythmic jingle of anklets.

Getting goosebumps, he immediately removed the blindfold and there was Vithoba smiling at him once again, just as a dad would play Peekaboo with his kid. Narahari did not close his eyes this time, as he could not resist looking at the endearing smile of Vithoba and the longer he stared at Vithoba, he could not decipher if it was Shiva or Vithoba he was seeing,  as the ‘Murti’ appeared to him both as Shiva and Vithoba.

That was his moment of realisation!

Realisation that Vithoba and Shiva were one and the same. Narahari felt so ashamed of himself.

 “What an idiot I have been!” he lamented. “Oh! Vithoba, not knowing you are the same as my Shiva, how many years I have missed seeing your beautiful face! What an ill-fated destiny I have had, not to see your lotus feet whilst living so near to your abode! Forgive me O’ Lord!”

Saying thus he fell flat at the feet of Vithoba who was still smiling sweetly as if amused. Tears were streaming from the eyes of Narahari. His heart was throbbing with bliss and out of the bliss poured out beautiful lines of poetry. All the people who were witnessing this were awestruck as Narahari Sonar described his experience through a beautiful song.

Narahari became “Sant Narahari” and his life changed drastically after this event. He composed many devotional hymns on Vithoba and became his staunch devotee.

It is said that Sant Narahari bid goodbye to this world in 1311 but his songs live on. Narahari’s story is found in the Marathi text “Bhakta Vijaya” written by Mahipati, in the 18th century. This text contains the biographies of poet saints who lived between the 13th and 17th century.

This story is available on Spotify as an Audio story. To listen, click here.

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