In the early centuries of the Common Era, sectarian strife was a major issue between the followers of Shiva and the followers of Vishnu. With the advent of Advaita or non-dualistic philosophy, the differences between these two sects and many others have been partially reconciled. The unity of the major gods Shiva and Vishnu has become increasingly popular, and many temples now house the image of Hari-Hara.
The iconographical depiction of Hari-Hara or Shankara-Narayana combines the two deities, Shiva and Vishnu, into a single body. The icon itself is aesthetically pleasing; however, the underlying philosophy is even more beautiful.
The Hindu trinity is comprised of Brahma, the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the dissolver. Brahma represents the creation of the universe, this world, and everything within it. There is no way to refuse that the creation of all that surrounds us, as well as ourselves is astonishing. Therefore Brahma does not find himself to be the subject of sectarian division. The argument instead revolves around the relative greatness of Vishnu, the guardian of Brahma’s creation versus Shiva, the one capable of destroying the entire creation and providing a blank canvas for Brahma to begin again.
When looking at the descriptions of Shiva and Vishnu according to various texts, it is interesting to see the juxtaposition between them. Vishnu, who represents the Sattvic Guna is depicted as cloudy black in color, while Shiva who represents the Tamasic Guna is depicted as crystalline white. If that is not confusing enough, Vishnu who is responsible for the protection of the world is depicted as lounging on the back of a snake in the depths of the ocean while Shiva who is responsible for various culminations, one of which being sleep, is depicted as ever-awake and deep in contemplation.
While perplexing at first, the hidden symbolism is very significant. Vishnu is described to be the color of a dark rain cloud. In this context he is associated with water, which is appropriate because water is the basic necessity of survival. Only with water can plants grow to be later used for food, lumber, and clothing. Shiva is described to be the color of ash. From his third-eye emanates a ferocious fire. Fire is the basic element that causes destruction and stimulates renewal. After burning anything, the result is white ash, which represents the transient nature of life. The cycle of life can also be understood in the context of this symbolism. Vishnu resides in the bottom of the ocean while Shiva resides at the top of the Himalayas. This shows how man starts at the very bottom and is nurtured by Vishnu, then as he gains knowledge, prosperity, and energy (think Saraswathi, Lakshmi, and Parvathi!) he soars to the heights of this world and will eventually receive Moksha, another culmination granted by Shiva.
While this is only a drop in the vast ocean of symbolism and philosophy regarding these two major deities, it is an introduction to understanding the profound beauty behind the sculpture of Hari Hara. On the right stands Shiva, clad in tiger skins and yielding the axe that cuts our ties to this universe. On the left stands Vishnu clad in silk garments and yielding the conch that signals the victory of good and the mace that represents the power of the mind and body. Together on a single pedestal they stand and reassure us that our good qualities will be preserved and our bad qualities destroyed.
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu
According to Hindu beliefs the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth, fortune, luxury, power, prosperity, generosity and embodiment of beauty. She is also the consort of Lord Vishnu and is believed to give strength to the Lord himself. Goddess Lakshmi is believed to relieve all her devotees from all sorrows related to money. Padma, Padma Priya, Padmamaladhara devi, Kamala, Padmamukhi, Padmakshi, Jalaja, Madhavi, Padmahasta, Padmasundari, Kalyani, Vishnupriya, Ulkavahini and Vaishnavi are some of the names in which She is worshiped. She is also known as Jaganmaatha (“Mother of the Universe”).
You can find innumerable number of slokas in praise of Goddess Lakshmi. Here, are some of them:
1. Beeja Mantra:
It is believed that the continuous chanting of this mantra will bring gain and prosperity in life.
2. The mantra that includes 9 names of Mahalakshmi:
Om Mahalakshmi Namahae
Om Gaja Lakshmi Namahae
Om Jaya Lakshmi Namahae
Om Thana Lakshmi Namahae
Om Santana Lakshmi Namahae
Om Seetha Lakshmi Namahae
Om Thaireya Lakshmi Namahae
Om Thannya Lakshmi Namahae
Om Vidya Lakshmi Namahae
Om Maha Vishu Mahalakshmi Namahae
Chanting this mantra will bring youth, beauty, happiness and riches to you, which will make a great difference in life.
Vishnu is a part of the trinity and plays the role of the creator. He has taken ten incarnations to save the planet and the good people from the hands of evils or demons. There are many mantras to please Lord Vishnu.
1. Mukti (Liberation) mantra: This twelve letter mantra is also known as the liberation mantras as it is believed to relieve the person who is chanting this mantra from all the hardships of life.
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Meaning: I bow to the Lord who lives in the hearts of all.
2. Shree Vishnu Mantra: It is otherwise known as the shaanta-kaaram mantra. It is one of the most powerful mantra used to praise Lord Vishnu and his incarnations, which helped to restore peace and happiness.
I sing praising the Lord Vishnu
Shaanta – He who has the peace
Kaaram- demeanor and visage
shayanam — He who sleeps and reposes
bhujaga– on the serpents
padma– He who has a lotus shaped
He who is the master and lord
Suresham– of all the gods
I pray to the Lord Vishnu.
dhaaram –He who holds the
vishwaa– universe in his hands.
sadrasham –He whose vision exceeds
gagana– beyond all the skies
varanam — He whose color and visage is
megha– changeable like the clouds
shubh– he who is filled with goodness
aangam– in every part of his body.
I sing praise to the Lord Vishnu.
kaantam — He who is the husband
lakshmi– of the goddess of wealth
He whose eyes (nayanam) are surreal
kamala– like a lotus flower
agamyam– he who yogis yearn to reach
dhyaana– through meditation
I sing praises (vande-) to the Lord Vishnu (-vishnum)
He who removes (-haram) all our fears (-bhaya)
bhava– due to our inborn nature
And he who is the master (-naatham) of the
entire (-sarva) universe and creation (-lokaika).
3. Narayana Mantra: Simple, yet powerful mantra to please the preserver, Lord Vishnu.
Om Namo Narayanaya
Meaning: I bow before the Almighty.
4. The Ultimate mantra: This mantra depicts about the avatars of Lord Vishnu, He has taken to save the world from evils.
Meaning: I Meditate on Sri Vishnu, Who is Wearing White Clothes, Who is All-Pervading, Who is Bright in Appearance like the Moon and who is Having Four Hands. He is having a Compassionate and Gracious Face, Let us meditate on Him to Ward of all impediments.
7. Vishnu Sahasranama: This prayer contains the 108 names of the Lord Vishnu and is believed to relieve people from all sin and sufferings.
Om Vishnave Namah
Om Lakshmi Pathaye Namah
Om Krishnaya Namah
Om Vaikuntaaya Namah
Om Garuda Dhvajaya Namah
Om Parah Brahmane Namah
Om Jagannathaya Namah
Om Vaasudevaya Namah
Om Trivikramaya Namah
Om Dhydhyaanthakaaya Namah
Om Madhuribhave Namah
Om Dhaarshyavahaaya Namah
Om Sanaadhanaaya Namah
Om Narayanaya Namah
Om Padmanabhaya Namah
Om Hrishikeshaya Namah
Om Sudhapradhaya Namah
Om Haraye Namah
Om Pundarikakshaya Namah
Om Siddhidhikarthre Namah
Om Paraathparaya Namah
Om Vanamaline Namah
Om Yagnaroopaya Namah
Om Chakrapanye Namah
Om Gadhadhraya Namah
Om Upendraya Namah
Om Keshavaya Namah
Om Hamsaaya Namah
Om SamudraMadhanaya Namah
Om Haraye Namah
Om Govindaya Namah
Om Prahmajankaya Namah
Om KaitabasuraMardhanaya Namah
Om Sridharaya Namah
Om Kaamajakaaya Namah
Om Seshaya Namah
Om Chadhurbhujaya Namah
Om Paanchajanyadharaaya Namah
Om SriMathe Namah
Om Shaarangapanaye Namah
Om Janardhanaya Namah
Om Pitambharadharaya Namah
Om Devaya Namah
Om SuryaChandraVilochanaya Namah
Om MatsyaRoopaya Namah
Om Kurmathanave Namah
Om Krodharoopaya Namah
Om Nrukesarine Namah
Om Vaamanaaya Namah
Om Bhaargavaaya Namah
Om Raamaya Namah
Om Haline Namah
Om Kalkine Namah
Om Hayaananaaya Namah
Om Viswambaraya Namah
Om Simsumaaraya Namah
Om Srikharaaya Namah
Om Kapilaaya Namah
Om Dhruvaaya Namah
Om Dattatreyaya Namah
Om Achyutaya Namah
Om Anantaaya Namah
Om Mukundhaaya Namah
Om Dhidhivaamanaaya Namah
Om Dhanvantraye Namah
Om Srinivasaya Namah
Om Pradyumnaya Namah
Om Purushothamaya Namah
Om Srivathkausthubhadhraaya Namah
Om Muraradhaye Namah
Om Adhoshjaaya Namah
Om Rushabhaya Namah
Om MohanaroopaDharine Namah
Om Sangarshanaaya Namah
Om Prithave Namah
Om Sheerabdhisaayene Namah
Om Bhoodhathmane Namah
Om Anirudhaaya Namah
Om Bhakthavatsalaaya Namah
Om Naraaya Namah
Om GajendraVaradaaya Namah
Om Thridhamne Namah
Om Bhoothabhavanaaya Namah
Om Svetavaasdhavyaaya Namah
Om SuryamandalaMadhyakaaya Namah
Om SanakathiMunithyeyaaya Namah
Om Bhagavathe Namah
Om SankaraPriyaya Namah
Om Neelakanthaya Namah
Om Tharakaanthaaya Namah
Om Vedathmane Namah
Om Bhadhraayanaaya Namah
Om BhagirathiJanmaBhoomiPaadaPadmaaya Namah
Om Stham Prabhave Namah
Om Svabhave Namah
Om Vibhave Namah
Om KanakaShyamaaya Namah
Om Jagadhkaaranaaya Namah
Om Avyayaaya Namah
Om Buddhavadharaaya Namah
Om Shaanthathmane Namah
Om Krisoth Namah
Om Leelamaanusha Vigrahaaya Namah
Om Damodharaaya Namah
Om Viraataroopaaya Namah
Om Bhoodhabhavyabhavath Prabhave Namah
Om Aadi Devaaya Namah
Om Deva Devaaya Namah
Om Prahladha Paripalakhaya Namah
Om shree parama visnu devaya namaha
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Lord Shiva is known as the Lord of Lords and even other Hindu Gods try to plead Lord Shiva with mantras. Lord Shiva is worshiped in two forms – The Shiva Lingam and the statue form.
Here, let us see some of the mantras (and their meaning), used by great sages, as well as common people to get the blessings of the Lord.
1. The Mool (Main) Mantra of Lord Shiva is a five syllable mantra, known as panchakshri mantra. It is believed that the chanters are bowing to themselves, as the Lord Shiva is considered as the ultimate reality.
OM Namah Shivaya
Meaning: I bow to Shiva.
2. Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is the greatest Mantra for Lord Shiva found in Rig Veda.
OM. Tryambakam yajamahe
Mrityor mukshiya mamritat
3. Shree Shiva- Parvati Stuti is the mantra which praises Lord with his consort Parvati.
Meaning: I Bow to Bhavani as well as to Lord Shiva who is white as camphor, who is compassion incarnate, who is the essence of the world, who wears a garland of a large snake and who always dwells in the lotus like hearts of his devotees.
4a. Shree Rudraashtak Stotram is the eight fold hymn recited by Brahma to please Shiva. This mantra can be used by anyone to get the blessing from the Lord Shiva.
Meaning: I Salute the Lord Ishana. It is the Form that represents the state of the highest Nirvana. This is the form that manifests the essence He is pervading everywhere and The Lord embodies the Highest Knowledge of Brahman present in the core of the Vedas. He who remains absorbed in His own self which is beyond the three Gunas. Beyond any change and Manifoldness, and which is free from any movement. I worship Ishana, who abides in the spiritual sky.
Meaning: I bow to the supreme Lord who is the formless source of “OM” The Self of All, transcending all conditions and states. Beyond speech, He understands the sense perception. Awe-full, but gracious, the ruler of Kailash, Devourer of Death, the immortal abode of all virtues.
Meaning: I offer salutations to Sri Rudra, Who is shining white resembling a mountain of snow; and He resides deep in the mind in Millions of Rays of Splendor, which expresses His Auspicious Body. Over whose Head, the Beautiful Ganga Throbs and Surges forth towards the Worlds. The newly risen moon shines in His forehead spreading its rays and His Neck adorns the beautiful Serpents.
Meaning: The beloved Lord of All, with shimmering pendants hanging from his ears, Beautiful eyebrows and large eyes, Full of Mercy with a cheerful countenance and a blue speck on his throat. I Worship Him Who is Beloved of His Devotees, Who is Shankara, the Lord of All.
Meaning: I worship Shankara, Bhavani’s husband. I owe to the fierce, exalted, luminous and the supreme Lord Shiva. Indivisible, unborn and radiant with the glory of a million suns; Who, holding a trident, tears out the root of the three-fold suffering, And who is reached only through Love.
Meaning: Salutations to Sri Rudra, Whose Auspicious Nature are Beyond the Elements of the gross material world and He who Brings an end to the cycle of creation when all gross elements are dissolved. He is the one who always give to the wise men and is the destroyer of Adharma. By Taking Away the Great Delusion, He plunges the prepared Soul in the Fullness of Cidananda (the Bliss of Brahman or Pure Consciousness). O, the signifying Destroyer of Manmatha; Please be Gracious to me; Please be Gracious to me, O Lord.
Na Yaavad Umaa-Naatha-Paada-Aravindam
Bhajanti-Iha Loke Pare Vaa Naraannaam
Na Taavat-Sukham Shaanti Santaapa-Naasham
Prasiida Prabho Sarva-Bhuuta-Adhi-Vaasam
Meaning: Oh Lord of Uma, so long as you are not worshiped, there is no happiness, peace or freedom from suffering in this world or the next. You who dwell in the hearts of all living beings, and in whom all beings have their existence, Have mercy on me, Lord.
Meaning: O my lord, I do Not Know how to perform Yoga, Japa or Puja. I always at All Times only Bow down to You, O Shambhu. Please protect me from the Sorrows of Birth and Old Age, as well as from the sins which lead to Sufferings. Please protect me O Lord from Afflictions; protect me O My Lord Shambhu.
Meaning: I salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam, Which is decorated with Gold and other Precious Gems, which is adorned with the Best of the Serpents Wrapped around it, and which destroyed the Grand Sacrifice of Daksha. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam.
Meaning: I salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam Which is anointed with Saffron and Sandal Paste, which is Beautifully Decorated with Garlands of Lotuses, and which destroys the accumulated Sins. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam.
Meaning: I bow before that Sada Shiva Lingam, Which is enveloped with eight-fold petals, which is the cause of all creation, and which destroys eight types of poverty. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Lingam Which is Worshiped by the Preceptor of Gods and the Best of the Gods, which is Always Worshiped by the Flowers from the Celestial Garden, Which is Superior than the Best and which is the Greatest. I Salute that Eternal Shiva Linga.
Lingastakam punyam ya pathecchivasanndhu
sivaloka mavapnoti sivena sahamodithe
Whoever Recites this Lingasthakam near Shiva, Will Attain the Abode of Shiva and enjoy His Bliss.
View All Our Mantras to Hindu Gods
including English and Sanskrit translations
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.
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?
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