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Mahamrityunjaya Mantra – Great Death Conquering Mantra

Kalasamharamurti Shiva Killing Yama
Click to view this bronze statue of Kalasamharamurti; Shiva Killing Yama

The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, can be found in the verses of Rig Veda and also recurs in Yajur Veda. Since, the Mantra is addressed to Tryambaka (the three-eyed one), it is also known as Tryambakam Mantra. The Mantra is also known as Rudra mantra (Rudra is the fiercest form of Lord Shiva) and Mrita-Sanjivini mantra.
The Mantra was revealed by Sage Markendaya and is considered as the secret mantra that has saved the sage from Yama the Hindu God of Death. There is a legend which depicts that with the power of this Mahamritunjaya Mantra, Markendaya was protected by Lord Shiva from death. Mrikandu rishi and his wife Marudmati, the parents of sage Makendeya, were great devotees of Lord Shiva and they prayed for a son to the Lord. Lord was pleased in their worship and gave the childless parents two options to choose from. They can either have an intelligent son with short life, or a son with less intelligence but with a long life.

Marble statue of Shiva killing Yama
Click to view this stunning marble statue of Shiva killing Yama

The parents opted for the first choice and their wish was granted by Lord Shiva. They were blessed with a smart baby boy, Markendeya, who was fated to die at the age of 12. Markendeya grew up with great devotion to Lord Shiva and worshiped Shiva Lingam. When he reached the age of 12, the messengers of Yama came to take the young sage, but he chanted the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra with intense devotion, which made it impossible for the messengers to take his life. This made Yama furious, he came in person and sprung his noose around the sage but, accidentally the noose fell around the Shiva Lingam. This act of Yama made Lord Shiva furious and finally Yama was defeated by Shiva. Thus, Markendeya was saved from death and this mantra came to be known as Markendeya Mantra.

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is a blend of three Hindi language words i.e. “Maha” which means Great, “Mrityun” means Death and “Jaya” means Victory. Here, is the Mantra and its meaning:

Om tryambakam yajamahe sugandhim pusti vardhanam Urvarukamiva bandhanan mrtyor mukshiya mamritat

Translation: Om. We worship and adore you, O three-eyed one, O Shiva. You are sweet gladness, the fragrance of life, which nourishes us, restores our health, and causes us to thrive. Just as the ripe cucumber is automatically released from the creeper, may we be liberated from death, and do not withhold immortality.

Bali style Shiva Lingam
Click to view this unique Bali style Shiva Lingam

Direct Translation:
OM –Symbol of underlying reality
tri-ambaka-m — “the three-eyed-one”
yaja-mahe — “we praise”
sugandhi-m — “the fragrant”
pusti-vardhana-m — “the prosperity-increaser”
urvaruka-m — “disease, attachment, obstacles in life, and resulting depression”
iva “–like”
bandhanat — “from attachment Stem (of the gourd); but more generally, unhealthy attachment”
mrtyor — “from death”
mukshiya — “may you liberate”
ma — “not”
amritat — realization of immortality

 
Significance of the Mantra: It is believed that chanting the Mahamrtiyunjaya Mantra will lead towards spiritual liberation. The Mantra is so powerful that it can relieve people who are suffering from some severe disease or having the fear of sudden death. It gives high concentration power and guarantees mental peace.
How to use Mahamrityunjaya Mantra?
You can use this mantra in two ways – Chanting this mantra 108 times, daily will bring happiness and prosperity to your life. 108 times is important as it is the product of 12 (Zodiac Signs) and 9 (Navagrahas).
You can seek the help of a priest who will chant the mantra one hundred thousand times to relieve the person, who has arranged for the pooja, from the fear of unnatural death or serious disease.

32 Forms of Lord Ganesha

Bronze set of the 32 forms of Ganesh
View our bronze set of the 32 forms of Ganesh

Lord Ganesha is invoked as Vighneswara in the launch of an event or business by majority of the Hindus as he is believed to be the obstacle remover. Lord Ganesha is also considered as the God of auspicious beginnings and bestower of fortune in abundance. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Hindu Goddess Parvati. The Ganesha Purana describes the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha and among them, Mahaganapathi is widely worshiped. The first 16 forms of Ganesha are known by the name “Shodasa Ganapati” and the later ones are known as “Ekavimsathi”. Here, let us have a look at all the 32 forms of Lord Ganesha.

Bala Ganapathi
Bala Ganapathi

1. Bala Ganapathi: It depicts the child like form of Ganesha and represents earth. The idol of Bala Ganapathi is elephant faced and has four hands holding the fruits of the Earth – Mango, Jackfruit, Banana and Sugarcane in his four hands. His trunk garners His favorite sweet; the modaka. He is believed to save the devotees from sin.

Bhakti Ganapati
Bhakti Ganapati


2. Bhakti Ganapati:
  It is the devotee form of Lord Ganesha. He is portrayed to have four arms holding coconut, Mango, Banana and sweet made of Jaggery (Cup of Payasam).

Dhundhi Ganapati
Dhundhi Ganapati

3. Dhundhi Ganapati: He is known as the sought after Ganapati as he helps his devotees to attain moksha through spiritual studies. He has four hands bearing the japa beads mala, broken tusk, a pot of precious gems and ax.

Durga Ganapati
Durga Ganapati

4. Durga Ganapati: He is the invincible Ganapati paying attribute to Mother Durga and is depicted with 8 arms holding a bow and arrow, goad and noose, prayer beads, a rose apple and his broken tusk.

Dvija Ganapati
Dvija Ganapati

5. Dvija Ganapati: The word “Dvija” means born twice. It reminds us the story of Lord Shiva beheading Ganesha and resurrecting Him with an elephant’s head. As per Upanayana, Dvija Ganapati is considered equivalent to Lord Brahma. He is represented with four heads and four hands holding palm-leaf inscription, a staff, meditation beads, water pot, noose and goad.

Dvimukha Ganapati
Dvimukha Ganapati

6. Dvimukha Ganapati: It is a unique form of Ganapati with two heads, sees in all directions and in His 4 arms the goad, noose, a pot of gems and his tusk. A jeweled crown graces his head.

Ekadanta Ganapati
Ekadanta Ganapati

7. Ekadanta Ganapati: As the name suggest “single tusked” Ganapati. This form is special as He is having a large belly than in any other form which signifies that all the manifestation of the universe is within him. His hands hold broken tusk, Ladu, japa beads mala, and an axe to cut the bond of ignorance.

Ekakshara Ganapati
Ekakshara Ganapati

8. Ekakshara Ganapati: In this form Ganapati identified with Single Syllable, third eye and crescent moon. The single syllable comes from the seed letter “Gam”, which is a pronominal sound of “OM”. He sits on yogic lotus posture on his vehicle Mooshika. With one hand he grants boons and the others hold pomegranate, elephant goad and noose.

Haridra Ganapati
Haridra Ganapati

9. Haridra Ganapati: The kumkuma coloured Ganapati and is seated on a posh royal throne with calm face. His tusk holds his favorite sweet modak, his hands wield the noose and goad.

Heramba Ganapati
Heramba Ganapati

10. Heramba Ganapati: He is the Mother’s beloved son and a rare form in which the Lord appears with five heads and ten hands. He is also known as magnificent Protector of the weak. The Abhya Mudra depicted in his right hand bestows blessing and the main left hand grants wishes. On the other hands holds a noose, japa beads mala (Rudrashaka), a battle axe, a battle hammer, his broken tusk as a weapon, garland, a fruit and his favorite sweet Modaka.

Kshipra Ganapati
Kshipra Ganapati

11. Kshipra Ganapati: He is also known as Ganapati who is easy to appease and gives quick reward to the devotees. He is depicted to have a broken tusk and four hands holding a noose, goad and a sprig of the kalpavriksha (wish-fulfilling) tree. In His uplifted trunk He holds a tiny pot of precious jewels which is considered as a symbol of the prosperity he can bestow upon followers.

Kshipra Prasada Ganapati
Kshipra Prasada Ganapati

12. Kshipra Prasada Ganapati: As the name suggest Ganapati the quick rewarder. He sits on a Kusha grass throne and his big belly symbolizes the universe. His hands hold broken tusk, the twig of Kalpavriksha, noose, an elephant goad, pomegranate and a white lotus.

 

Lakshmi Ganapati
Lakshmi Ganapati

13. Lakshmi Ganapati: Commonly known as Ganapati the fortunate. He is depicted to have the Goddess Siddhi (Achievement) and Goddess Budhi (Wisdom) on both thighs. He has 8 hands, gesturing varada mudra, Abhya Mudra and other hands holds green Parrot, a Pomegranate, a sword, a noose, elephant goad, sprig of Kalpavriksha (Wish fulfilling tree) and water vessel. Both his consorts hold white lotus flowers.

 

Maha Ganapati
Maha Ganapati

14. Maha Ganapati: The great Ganapati is popularly worshipped and seated majestically with one of his shaktis on his knee. He is depicted with three eyes and a crescent moon on his head. He has 10 arms holding tusk, a pomegranate, a sugarcane bow, chakra, noose, a blue lily, a sprig of paddy, a lotus, a mace and ratnakumbha.

 

Nritya Ganapati
Nritya Ganapati

15. Nritya Ganapati: It is vibrant form of Ganapati the happy dancer. He has four arms and all the fingers have rings. His hands bear a tusk, goad, noose and modaka, His favorite sweet. It is believed that worshiping Nritya Ganapati will bring proficiency and success for the devotees in fine arts.

Rinamochana Ganapati
Rinamochana Ganapati

16. Rinamochana Ganapati: Ganapati the liberator from debts, grants moksha to His devotees. He has four arms and holds noose, a goad, his broken tusk and his favorite fruit – the rose apple.

Sankatahara Ganapati
Sankatahara Ganapati

17. Sankatahara Ganapati: He is the dispeller of sorrow . He is seated on a lotus and has four arms holding a bowl of pudding, a goad and a noose while gesturing the boon-granting varada mudra. He also has His consort with Him.

Shakti Ganapati
Shakti Ganapati

18. Shakti Ganapati: As the name suggest it is the powerful form of Lord Ganesha and is a Tantric worship form. He has 4 hands and embraces Shakti Devi seated on his left knee. His right hand is in Abhya Mudra bestows blessing to devotees and the rest hands hold garland, noose and goad.

Siddhi Ganapati
Siddhi Ganapati

19. Siddhi Ganapati: It is the accomplished form of Lord Ganesha, where He is in a relaxed form as he masters intellect. He bears in his four hands, a posy of flowers, a mango, a stalk of sugarcane plant with leaves and roots and the battle axe. His trunk curves around a sweet sesame ball.

Sinha Ganapati
Sinha Ganapati

20. Sinha Ganapati: He is known as the fearless Ganapati and has 8 arms. He is seated on a tiger and displays another lion, a twig from the kalpvriksh, the veena, a lotus flower, a floral bouquet and a pot of gems in his hands. This form symbolizes great courage and strength.

Srishti Ganapati
Srishti Ganapati

21. Srishti Ganapati: Ganapati in this form is the creator or as the Lord of happy manifestations. He has four hands bearing broken tusk, mango fruit, elephant goad, and noose. He is seated in his favorite Mooshika Vahana. It is believed that He will help his devotees to attain the power of discrimination.

 

Taruna Ganapati
Taruna Ganapati

22. Taruna Ganapati: It is the youthful form of Ganesha and is believed that he blesses his devotee with young and beautiful looks. He is depicted as bearing a goad and noose, green paddy, a sugarcane stalk, rose apple and wood apple in His eight hands, which symbolize fertility.

 

Trimukha Ganapati
Trimukha Ganapati

23. Trimukha Ganapati: The three faced Ganapati with 6 arms holding prayer beads, clasp a goad, noose and a pot of nectar. Posture depicts Abhaya mudra on His right hand and varada mudra on His left.

Tryakshara Ganapati
Tryakshara Ganapati

24. Tryakshara Ganapati: Also known as Lord of the three letters (A-U-M). Lord has 3 eyes and 4 hands. He has big floppy ears with fly whisks and hands carries the broken tusk, goad, noose and mango and His trunk often seen grasps modaka.

 

Ucchhishta Ganapati
Ucchhishta Ganapati

25. Ucchhishta Ganapati: It means “the lord of blessed offering and the lord of superiority”. The Lord is sitting posture with Shakti Devi on His left thigh. He has 6 hands and the tusk is not curled. His hands hold the veena, a blue lotus, pomegranate, meditation beads and a stalk of paddy.

 

Uddanda Ganapati
Uddanda Ganapati

26. Uddanda Ganapati: He is the enforcer of Dharma and has ten arms well equipped with weapons. His hands bear the blue lily, sugar cane stalk, lotus, mace, noose, paddy, a broken tusk and a garland. He has his consort Sakthi with him.

 

Urdhva Ganapati
Urdhva Ganapati

27. Urdhva Ganapati: It is the elevated Ganapati and is depicted in sitting posture with His consort and has six arms holding single holds sprig of paddy, a lotus, a blue lily, a sugar cane bow, arrow and a mace.

 

Varada Ganapati
Varada Ganapati

28. Varada Ganapati: Also known as the boon giver Ganapati with 3 eyes, crescent, crown and 4 arms. His hands hold the noose, goad and a pot of honey. He has Devi Shakthi on his side and encloses a pot of jewels in His trunk.

 

Vighna Ganapati
Vighna Ganapati

29. Vighna Ganapati: He is also known as the “Lord of Obstacles” as He is the one who removes all the obstacles from the life of His devotees. He has eight arms and His weaponry to fight impediments is the noose, goad, axe, discus and a sharp tusk and the rest of the arms hold flower-tipped arrow, sugarcane and a modak.

 

Vijaya Ganapati
Vijaya Ganapati

30. Vijaya Ganapati: Ganapati the victorious one. He is depicted with seated atop his divine vehicle, Mooshika, the mouse. His four arms bear a broken tusk, noose, goad and a ripe mango.

 

Vira Ganapati
Vira Ganapati

31. Vira Ganapati: It is the Valiant form of Lord Ganesha and has 16-arms. Lord Ganesh is depicted in the standing posture and strong with a authentic armory of weapons, which include goad, banner, bow and arrow, goblin, discus, sword, shield, large hammer, spear, sword, axe, trident, noose, mace and chakra.It is believed that Vira Ganapati vanquishes both ignorance and evil.

Yoga Ganapati
Yoga Ganapati

32. Yoga Ganapati: He is a yogic posture with his knees trapped and in complete meditation. His hands hold a stalk of sugar cane, a staff, prayer beads and a noose.

Lord Ganesha is one of the most worshiped deities by Hindus and they believe that he has taken 32 forms to save the devotees from the different issues that may arise in every stages of life. You can find Ganesha in almost all Hindu temples around the world and he is bestowing his devotees with blessings.

 

Lord Ayyappa – Son of Vishnu & Shiva

Son of Shiva and Vishnu; Lord Ayyappa
Click Here to view the Bronze Ayyappan Statue, Son of Shiva and Vishnu

Sabarimala in Kerala, is the site of the most famous Ayyappa temple in the world and is visited by more than 50 million devotees each year, from different parts of the world regardless of their caste, creed and religion.The temple is situated in the middle of a dense forest, and the devotees need to take a 41 day penance, carry irumudi and ascended 18 steps to seek the blessings of the Lord. The story of Ayyappa is depicted in the famous purana, named Bhoothanaathopaakhyaanam.

Birth of Lord Ayyappa: The demon Mahishasur was killed by Goddess Durga and the sister of Mahishasur, Mahishi decided to avenge for her brother’s death. Lord Brahma was forced to appear before her and granted her wish. She demanded that she should be killed by the son born for the couple Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, thinking that it is impossible. Thinking herself indestructible she began to unleash her cruel deeds to execute the poor saints and people.

Mohini: Mohini was Lord Vishnu’s one and only incarnation in female form.  Her goal was to settle the dispute between devas and demons that aroused during the churning of the ocean (ksheer sagar).

Enchanted by the beauty of Mohini, Lord Shiva fell in love with her and a beautiful son was born to them.
Rajasekhara, the king of Pandalam, was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and he along with his wife used to pray to the Lord for a son as they wanted an heir to the throne. One day, after hunting, while he was enjoying the beauty of nature near the banks of river Pampa, heard the cry of a baby from the dense forest. Even though, the king was happy to see the child, he hesitated to take the child to the palace, but a sage appeared and informed the king that the child is a gift from Lord Shiva and you can take him with you. As the child was wearing a jewel around his neck he was named “Manikanda”, “mani” meaning bell and “kanda” meaning neck, and in their happiness the King took the child home. The queen was also very happy and accepted him as their child.

The child was gifted and mastered in all the Vedas and arts of warfare quickly.  He grew up as a graceful and charming, talented and courageous warrior. The Guru soon recognized the divine powers of Ayyappa (Another name of Manikanda) and asked to bless his blind and deaf son with sight and speech as Ayyappa came to offer ‘gurudakshina‘ (fee to his guru).

Royal Conspiracy: In the meantime, the king and the queen were blessed with a baby boy, whom they named as Raaja Rajan. The prime minister was much disappointed to know that the king is planning to crown Ayyappa as the next king, since he thought that he would be able to rule the kingdom after the death of Raja. He began to think of different ways by which he can deny Ayyappa from being the next king and met the queen to evoke negative feelings in her mind against Ayyappa being the king when she has her own child, who has the birth right to be the next king.

The minister was able to convince the queen, and she agreed to plot with him in his plans for Raaja Rajan to become the next king.  As a part of the conspiracy, the queen began to act as if she was suffering from headaches and stomach pain. The king, who was worried, called for experienced and well known physicians to cure her, but none of them could do anything to relieve her from the pain. The minister brought in a fake physician who informed the king that the queen can be saved only by using the milk of a lactating tigress.

No one came forward to gather the milk despite of the great offers from the king and at last Ayyappa came forward, but the king did not give him the permission to go. Somehow, Ayyappa persuaded the king and got his blessing and left into the forest. When Ayyappa starts His journey to the forest to collect milk from the tigress, the king collected all the necessary things to meet Ayyappa’s requirements during the long journey and bundled them in a cloth bag. It came to be known as irumudi and today the pilgrims use this type of cloth bag to carry things while traveling to Ayyappa’s temple in Sabarimala.  It is believed that carrying irumudi symbolizes Ayyappa’s journey to the jungle and only the pilgrims who carry the irumudi are permitted to ascend the 18 holy steps to reach sannidanam.
On reaching the forest, Ayyappa came to know about the atrocities of the ferocious Mahishi and decided to meet her in a duel near the river, Azutha, where he lifted her by the horns.  Mahishi was able to recollect her original beautiful form by the divine touch of Lord Ayyappa. She pleaded Ayyappa to marry her, but he refused to do as he said that there a lot of people who need his help. However, he promised to marry her if anyone does not need his help. Now this Mahishi is worshiped as Goddess Maaligappurath-amma in Sabarimala.  Ayyappa is thus referred to as the celibate god of Kerala because he refuses to marry the beautiful Mahishi.

Wooden Lord Ayyappa Statue
View our wood Ayyappa statue

Comfort to the king: The death of Mahishi was celebrated by everyone and all the Gods from the heaven came to earth to show their courtesy towards him. Indra, the king of heavens, disguised himself as a tiger and all the female Goddess as tigresses and accompanied Lord Ayyappa to his palace.  All the people, including the king were surprised to see the multitude of tigers and a saint appeared before him to reveal the real identity of lord Ayyappa. The king begged for pardon, as he was unaware of the conspiracy of the queen and minister. The king was ready to punish them, but Ayyappa prevented him from it, and agreed to the wish of the king that he will stay in the kingdom forever. The Lord pointed an arrow and shot it, asked the king to build a temple for him where it landed. The arrow fell on Sabarimala or the Mountain of Sabari. A temple was built at the place where they found the arrow, and it is believed that Lord Ayyappa stays in the temple showering blessings on the devotees who came to visit him through the tough trekking path barefooted.

Pilgrimage to Sabarimala: The Sabarimala temple has so many specialties, it is situated in the middle of a dense forest and can be reached through a five Km long trekking path. The devotees’ identity is denoted by the color of the dress they wear. The temple restricts the entry of women between the age group of 10 to 50 and the devotees have to observe 41 days penance, rigorous fasting to seek the blessing of the Lord. They have to be abstained from all the worldly pleasures and live as a hermit to climb the eighteen steps to reach sannidhanam. It is believed that the Lord will descend to earth in the form of light on a special day known as Makar Sankranti or Pongal to bless his devotees. A pilgrimage to the Sabarimala makes you realize the truth “ThatTvam Asi” (You are that supreme Consciousness”). He is known as Dharma Saastha (the Lord in the world) and Hari-Hara Puthra ( Son of Lord Vishnu and Shiva).

Posture of Lord Ayyappa: It reflects that of a Yogi.

The crown shows that he was a king of all kings.

The right hand is held in the Abhaya mudra which symbolizes the protection offered by the Lord to His true devotees and the fearlessness they fell after surrendering everything to the Lord. This posture is also known as Chinmudra or Njaana Mudra.

The left hand, with all five fingers, points downwards, symbolizes that he is the creator and controller of all the 5 elements of which the earth is made of.

The lotus pedestal indicates the world we live in and the lotus symbolizes the different stages through which our life passes.

The garland of the Lord is unique and symbolizes grace.

The Lord’s legs are symbolic of a wandering mind with the belt around them calming the wandering mind.

Why did Lord Ayyappa forbid the king from taking action against the queen and the minister’s machinations?

Lakshmi Quotes- Mantras – Hymns

Seated Hindu Goddess of wealth Lakshmi Metal statue
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Mantras are believed to bring in harmony and peace of mind to the devotees who faithfully chant it to please their favorite deities. Chanting mantras can relieve mental stress, strain and even help in maintaining a normal heart rate. The word “mantra” is derived from two Sanskrit words “manas” and “trai“, which literally means “to free from the mind”.  From recent medical studies it was found the chanting of mantras in the right form evokes the production and spreading of the certain chemicals in the brain, which improve the health and the mental status of the devotee.

As per Hindu mythology, each Hindu God is associated with a moola mantra which when chanted in the specified time and period, will serve different purposes. The most evoked mantras are devoted to Lord Ganesha, Shiva, Hanuman and the Hindu Goddesses Lakshmi, Durga and Devi.

The Goddess Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of wealth, luxury, beauty, power and prosperity.  Her mantras are evoked by most of the entrepreneurs as they believe that She will be pleased and bring fortune to them.  One of the most chanted mantra of Goddess Lakshmi is as follows:

“Sarvagyay Sarvavarday
Sarvadushtbhaydkree Sarvadukhaharay

Devi Mahalakshmi Namostutay”

Meaning: O Goddess Maa Lakshmi, you are aware of everything; you bestow blessing upon all and defend us from the evils. You remove all miseries of life. Oh auspicious one, I surrender myself to you.

“Siddhi Buddhipraday
Devi Bhuktimuktipradayeenee
Mantramurtay Sada Devi
Mahalakshmi Namostutay”

Meaning: O divine Maa, you are the one who gives me all success and intelligence. You bless me with all the worldly pleasures, wealth and freedom. The magical words in the mantra comprise your grace with form and Mother, I surrender myself to you, always.

Aadhantarhitay Devi
Aadhshakti Maheshwari
Yogajay Yogasambhutay
Mahalakshmi Namostutay”

Meaning: O Mother Supreme, your art does not have a beginning or end. Your art is the primal power. Your art is born out of Yogic practice and manifested through yoga. O Mother auspicious, I bow to Thee.

“Sthulsukshmay Maharodray
Mahashakti Mahodray
Mahapaapharay Devi
Mahalakshmi Namostutay”

Meaning: O Goddess Lakshmi, your art gross and subtle, most awful and dominant. Your art encompass even the smallest things, and saves us even from the greatest sins. O Mother auspicious, I bow to Thee.

“Padnaasanstithay
Devi Parbrahmaswaroopeenee
Parmashree Jaganmatra
Mahalakshmi Namostutay”

Meaning: Maa Lakshmi, you reside in the heart of the faithful devotees and verily art the supreme Brahman. Your supreme art depicts that you are the mother of the universe. Promising Mother, I surrender to you.

Wood Statue of the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi
Click here to view the Lakshmi wood statue holding two lotus flowers

The Hindu Goddess Lakshmi is the consort of Lord Vishnu and is known as the Empress of Satyug. The Goddess is depicted in different forms, to bestow blessings and save the devotees from evils. Evoking the mantras of Goddess Lakshmi will bring peace and prosperity to your home or business.

The Story of Shiva and the Goddess Ganga

Shiva bronze statue
Bronze statue of Lord Shiva bringing the Goddess Ganga down to the earth in his matted hair

Most of the images and sculpture of Lord Shiva depict the River Ganga flowing from his matted hair. As with all symbols within Hindu iconography there is an interesting tale behind Shiva and the Hindu goddess Ganga. According to Hindu mythology, there was a powerful king in India named Sagar. He decided to conduct Ashwamedha Yagya, a horse sacrifice, to declare his supremacy over the gods. The king of Heaven, Indra grew jealous of King Sagar and decided to steal the ritual horse. Indra successfully abducted the horse and tied him in the ashram of Sage Kapil, who was silently meditating for many years. King Sagar ordered his 60,000 sons to search and find his sacrificial horse. After a long search they found the horse tied at the ashram and began assaulting the great sage thinking he was the culprit who stole the horse. The sage awoke from his trance and in his anger started to destroy all the sons of king Sagar who were accosting him. Anshuman, the grandson of King Sagar, pleaded for forgiveness. The sage told him that he could save his life by bringing the sacred river Ganga down from the heavens to purify the souls of him and his ancestors and help them to attain nirvana.

King Dilip, son of Anshuman pleaded with Lord Brahma to help them bring the Ganga to earth. He failed to appease Brahma so he passed the task to his son, Bhagiratha. Bhagiratha was able to please Brahma, who ordered Ganga to descent to Earth. The furious Ganga felt this as an insult and decided to destroy Earth with her force while descending from heaven. Bhagiratha was warned by Brahma that earth will not be able to hold Ganga while descending from heaven, so he must seek the help of Lord Shiva, the only one who can withstand the power of Ganga. Bhagiratha pleaded with Lord Shiva to help him and Shiva agreed to receive Ganga in his matted locks. Ganga was arrogant and tried to drown Shiva by pushing him to the core of the earth, but the mighty Shiva easily held her in his locks.   Shiva’s tie was so strong that Ganga became helpless.

Lord Shiva wanted to teach Ganga a lesson, but instead released her in seven streams as he was satisfied with the prayers of Bhagiratha. The seven streams of Ganga are Bhagirathi, Janhvi, Bhilangana, Mandakini, Rishiganga, Saraswati and Alaknanda. Ganga became calm and followed Bhagiratha, who lead her to his ancestors and with her purity, released their souls.
There are a number of legends associated with Ganga and the different names she has at different places. This is but one.

Ganga is considered to be the most sacred river in India and it originates from the depths of Gangotri glacier. Ganga, otherwise known as Ganges, brings purity to human life. By bathing in her sacred waters one is purified to the core of their being.

Bhagiratha’s great effort in bringing Ganga to earth is known as “Bhagiratha Prayatna”. What would you consider to be the noble quality of Bhagiratha – his strong affection to his ancestors or his determination to meet any challenges to attain the ultimate goal?

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