Tuesday December 12, 2017

Onam: The festival that celebrates Vamana Avatara and the homecoming of the King Mahabali

Onam is one of the most important Hindu festivals of Kerala. The ten-day festival celebrates Vamana incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of King Mahabali to review the welfare of his people in Kerala..
Onam is one of the most important Hindu festivals of Kerala. The ten-day festival celebrates Vamana incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of King Mahabali to review the welfare of his people in Kerala..

By Nithin Sridhar

Onam is one of the most important Hindu festivals of Kerala. The ten-day festival celebrates Vamana incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of King Mahabali to review the welfare of his people in Kerala..
Onam is one of the most important Hindu festivals of Kerala. The ten-day festival celebrates Vamana incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of King Mahabali to review the welfare of his people in Kerala.

Onam, one of the most important Hindu festivals of Kerala, ends today. The ten-day festival celebrates Vamana incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the homecoming of King Mahabali to review the welfare of his people in Kerala.

Therefore, the events of Vamana incarnation and his subsequent interactions with Asura (demon) King Mahabali are very central to the Onam festival. Let us look into this divine play of Vamana incarnation to have a deeper understanding.
Onam, Vamana, and Srimad Bhagavata Purana:

The Vamana incarnation is spoken about in Srimad Bhagavata Puranam in the Canto 8, Chapters-15-23.

The Bhagavatham informs us that, when King Bali had lost the war with Devas (gods) and died, Guru Sukracharya revived him and with the help from descendants of Rishi Brighu, King Mahabali performed Vishvajit Yajna (Sacrifice to win all the worlds). Bali received chariot and weapons as a result of this Yajna and he conquered all the realms including the Devaloka (realm of gods headed by Indra). After conquering all the three realms, King Mahabali began to perform one hundred Ashwamedha Yajnas.

Meanwhile, the gods including Indra had gone into hiding. Their absence caused great pain and sorrow to their mother Aditi. In order to relieve her of her pain, Aditi’s husband Muni Kashyapa told her to worship Lord Vishnu using a special method called- “Payo-Vrata” (a kind of worship where milk alone is offered to Lord as well as consumed for a specific duration of time).

As a result of this austerity by Aditi, Lord Vishnu agreed to be born as her son and help her other sons, the Devas to regain their position. Thus was born Vamana, the dwarf-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, as the son of Aditi and Kashyapa.

Dwarf Form of Lord Vishnu
Dwarf form of Lord Vishnu

Lord Vamana went into the place where King Mahabali was conducting the Ashwamedha Yajna. Mahabali served Lord Vamana and washed his feet. Mahabali requested Lord Vamana, whom he perceived as a dwarf son of a Brahmana, to ask for any gift. Lord Vamana requested the King to grant him just three paces of land in charity. Guru Sukracharya who recognized Vamana as an avatar of God, tried to persuade King Mahabali to go back on his promise to Vamana.

But, Mahabali refused to take back his promise. Enraged Sukracharya cursed him that he would soon lose all his position as he disobeyed his advice. By the first and second steps, the Lord occupied the entire three worlds as well as realms which were beyond them.

Lord Vamana then asked Garuda to arrest King Mahabali and ordered him to be sent to hellish regions (narakam/nirayam) for failing to fulfill his promise. As Lord Vamana had occupied all the Universe by his two steps. King Mahabali owed him one more step.

Realizing his mistake, Lord Bali surrendered himself to Lord and decided to give his head in charity for the third step. Lord Vamana was pleased with his devotion and blessed him that he would attain the position of Indra in the next manvantara (A long Hindu duration of time) and that he would rule over “Sutala”, one of the lower worlds, but one which is protected by Lord Vishnu and is free from all miseries. Lord further promised Mahabali that he would always remain with him.

Thus ends the story of King Mahabali and Lord Vamana in Bhagavata Purana.

It is believed in Kerala that, during the ten days of Onam, King Mahabali returns to earthly realm to review the welfare of his erstwhile citizens.

The events of Vamana incarnation imparts many valuable lessons that must be contemplated and implemented in daily life. Some of the lessons one can learn are:

  1. Lord Vishnu assures Aditi that worship of God never goes in vain and such a worship will surely give desirable result according to what one deserves. Hence, no practice of devotion ever goes waste. One may feel that one is not getting instant result or a result desired by them. But that does not mean the worship has become fruitless. It will give proper results that one deserves at the right time. Hence, one must have faith in God and surrender to him.
  2. The instruction of Lord Vamana to Mahabali about begging for only that much which fulfills one’s necessity is very illuminating. Lord Vamana says that, if one were not satisfied with three paces of land, he would not be satisfied even with seven islands. That is, there is no end to uncontrolled desires. Therefore, a person must always restrain his senses and mind especially in matters of acquiring wealth. Without contentment and satisfaction, no amount of wealth will lead to happiness. Hence, any attempts at gaining wealth should be accompanied by contentment and self-restraint.
  3. Sukracharya’s advice to Mahabali about when a promise can be broken is another important lesson. He says that charity, sacrifice, or austerity are only for those who are competent to earn his livelihood properly and it is not praised when it endangers one’s own livelihood. Therefore, Sukracharya advises Mahabali to go back on promise to Vamana, as such a promise will bring destruction to Mahabali. This is an important lesson. Mahabali had to deal with Lord Vamana, hence he was saved. Otherwise, keeping of his promise would have ruined him completely. For example, Bhishma’s refusal to break his promise brought upon Mahabharata war. Therefore, one should make and keep only those promises which are not harmful to one’s own peaceful existence.
  4. Another lesson is, disobeying one’s Guru will lead to sorrow and suffering. Hence, one must follow one’s Guru’s directions for welfare and happiness.
  5. Bali promised Vamana, the three paces of land with a pride that he owns the entire three world. But his ego was deeply hurt when Vamana occupied all his realms in just two steps and punished him to be sent to hellish realms for not fulfilling promise of three steps. But, when Mahabali surrenders at the feet of Lord and his surrender becomes complete, then Lord Vamana saves him and sends him instead to Sutala realm. This shows that, inspite of all our weakness, we can get redeemed by taking refuge in God. He will test us, he may make us go through sufferings, but they are all for our own good. God will finally give us spiritual emancipation, as Vamana did to Mahabali by granting him the boon that God will always be with him.
  6. Sukracharya while addressing Lord Vamana, says that whatever may be the faults in doing any spiritual effort, all of them are wiped out by chanting the holy name of God. In other words, the intricacies of rituals are important, but any faults in them are rectified through genuine devotion and chanting of the God’s name.

These are some of the lessons that the Vamana incarnation teaches people. On this auspicious Onam day, people should contemplate on these and try to practice them in their lives.

  • neeparajkumar

    Interesting article! Its quite amazing to know that there are so many interesting stories of God Vishnu’s avatar that many are not aware of. Adding one more story of God Vishnu’s avatar. Vamana Avatar, the fifth avatar of God Vishnu came to earth in the form of a dwarf Brahmin to subdue the Demon King Mahabali.


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Annual 14-Kosi Parikrama in Ayodhya begins among heavy security deployment

It is believed that on the day of Kartik Poornima, Lord Vishnu wakes up and any body who undertakes this parikrama gets his or her all wishes fulfilled.

14-kosi parikrama
Hindi priest saluting the sun in the Ganges, Varanasi Benares India (representational Image), Wikimedia

Lucknow, October 29, 2017 : The (42 km) 14-kosi parikrama in Ayodhya began on Saturday with lakhs of people converging in the temple town for the annual event.

Amid heavy security deployment, the devotees first took a holy dip in the Saryu river and then began the process of the trip on foot.

Priests said that there are three types of ‘parikramas’ in Ayodhya – the ’84-kosi’, the ’14-kosi’ and the ‘5-kosi’. The 14-kosi parikrama takes place in the heart of the city, while the other two are held in Awadh region and the Ayodhya district.

It is said that on the day of Kartik Poornima, Lord Vishnu wakes up and any body who undertakes this parikrama does get his or her all wishes fulfilled.

Several hundred buses have been plying for the last 24 hours to ferry pilgrims from all over the state. Mela officer and ADM (city) Vindhyavasini Rai told reporters that the panch kosi parikrama would start on Devthani Ekadashi on October 30. (IANS)


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‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ Witnesses escalating BJP-Left Confrontation

Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Wikimedia

Hurling anti-left maneuver during Janaraksha Yatra Kerala, Indian BJP National President Amit Shah launched serious allegation against the ruling CPM government for triggering political violence and imputed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the culpability for the mass killings of party workers in the state.

The BJP Chief traced back the origin of violence-centric politics in ”God’s Own Country” to the inception of the Communist regime. “Left always paralyses the state it rules. West Bengal and Tripura witnessed similar political vehemence under the CPM government”, elucidated the President.

Criticizing the Human Rights Activists of the nation, Amit Shah pointed out that they are very selective when it comes to what they support. “You turn your eyes away when our workers die. Why is there no march in Delhi? Violence has no color. More than 120 workers of the BJP have succumbed due to political violence so far. What was their fault? They were working for the betterment of Kerala”, complained the BJP Chief.

Acclaiming BJP’s ideology enthusiastically, Shah called upon the people to join as workers. Addressing the gathering at ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’, the President added that family members of the deceased have stood by the BJP and he wouldn’t let the martyrdom of the workers go waste.

Amit Shah inaugurated the ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ at Payyannur to protest against alleged killings of party workers. The “padayatra” was led by the party’s State President Kummanam Rajashekhharan.

The National President of BJP attributed the diminishing power of the CPM to their increasing reliance on political violence. Apart from CPM, the once dominating Congress is also losing momentum thereby giving BJP the opportunity to flourish with their ideology. “More the mud of violence, more the lotus will bloom” added Shah.

The BJP Chief assured his party workers and volunteers that BJP would fight the war with CPM until emerging victorious. Shah declared, “We must all unite against the rule of the Left Government.”

Shortly after the launching of the yatra, three BJP workers adorning the National Highway 66 were ambushed by anonymous men on Monday. During his address, Shah alleged that the assailants were CPM cadres who have also destroyed BJP flags in the area.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is ready to augment the saffron stand with his visit to Kerala on Wednesday. As per the report of Times Now, Adityanath will basically be in the Muslim-dominated district of Mallapuram.

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8 Immortals In Hindu Religion You Would Like To Know About

There are 8 immortals in Hindu religion who are believed to remain alive through kali yoga. Until a person attains Moksha, their life cycle is incomplete and Samsara of life and death continues. There is no escape to this fate.

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

New Delhi, September 24, 2017: Hinduism is the oldest known religion in the world. The way of life and spirituality in Hinduism is followed by certain rules, called Hindu dharma. Widely practiced in South Asia, Hinduism dates back to 4000 BCE to 1500 BCE in context to pre-Vedic religions and Vedic period.

Hinduism observes a comprehensive range of philosophies, from where the Hindu text are themed into four Purusarthas, Dharma (duties), Artha (work/prosperity), Kama (desires), and Moksha (freedom/salvation). These are the important part of fulfilling and happy life that makes a complete cycle of living.

Until a person attains Moksha, their life cycle is incomplete, and Samsara of life and death continues. There is no escape to this fate, and it is believed in Hindu Dharma that 8 personalities are in the same infinity cycle of Samsara. The eight immortals or Astha Chiranjeevi as they are known stands the loop Chiram (Long) and Jivee (Lived).

The 8 immortals in Hindu religion who are believed to remain alive through kali yoga

Maha Rishi Markandeya

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

One of the devotees of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, Rishi Markandeya comes from the Bhrigu, a clan of sages. The legend behind speaks of the great devotion of Markandeya towards Shiva to save himself from the god of death, Yama.

Rishi Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati worshipped Lord Shiva and requested from him the boon with a son. However, the boon came up to them two options, either their son will have a short lifespan or the son will have low intelligence. Mrikandu chose the first option and was blessed with Markandeya, who was destined to die at 16. The destiny cannot be escaped, and so the time came.

Markandeya knew about his fate, and on the day of his death, he started to worship Lord Shiva near the Shivalingam (the symbolic statue that represents Lord Shiva). The devotion and prayers were so powerful that the messenger of death God Yama was unable to take his life. Hearing this, Yama appeared himself to take away Markandeya’s life. He started to create a trap around the teenage sage, but mistakenly it grounded upon the Shivalingam. Furious Shiva emerged from the Shivalingam and a battle started between them on point of death. Yama couldn’t handle the rage of Shiva and thus resulted in losing it and sparing the life of Markandeya. Also, Shiva revived Yama to give the boy a boon of immortality.

This legend made Maha Rishi Markandeya be one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion.

Asura King Mahabali

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

The great-grandson of Hiranyakshipu, the grandson of Prahlada and son of Virochana, Mahabali.

The most beloved king in Kerela, Mahabali ruled his kingdom with prosperity and happiness. His success as a king led Gods to be cautious and bring him demise by Vamana, Vishnu avatar. Vamana asked Mahabali for 3 steps of land at the time of Ashwamedha Yoga, a Hindu rite that Bali performed to maintain dominance over three worlds. Bali agreed to it and granted Vamana the boon. Vishnu avatar Vamana covered the earth and the heaven with his two steps and asked Bali now that you don’t have anything left how will you fulfill my grant. Mahabali offered Vamana his head as a place his last step, which compelled Bali to go underworld.

Vamana got pleased with his devotions and blesses Bali to be the Indra during the period of Manu, known as Savarni. Bali’s devotion, dharma, and polite words mesmerized Lord Vishnu and he was granted with a boon of visiting the earth once a year. Onam festival in Kerala is celebrated to welcome Asur King Mahabali in this regards. He is also one of the 8 immortals in Hindu Religion.


Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Born in Brahmin family, Parashurama was a warrior. Unlike other Brahmins, he was very temperamental and was also known to all as the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Parashurama, the Brahmin-Kshatriya has many personas of being Kshatriya like warfare, valor, and aggression.

He is a martial Shraman ascetic. However, it is believed that he still lives on earth and is one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion. He is an avesha avatar, the one who takes spiritual possession on other with his special power.

Like other avatars of Lord Vishnu, Parshuram appears at the time when evil tries to prevail earth.

ALSO READ: Was Taj Mahal Once a Shiva Temple? The Debate over the Tomb Continues


Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Vibhishana, the younger brother of demon king of Lanka,‘Ravana’. He comes from a rakshasa family (demon family) but was a nobleman who advised Ravana to release Maa Sita, who was kidnapped. He insisted Ravana to return Sita to her husband, Lord Rama, but his advice was not entertained. Eventually, he left Lanka to join Rama’s army.

With his knowledge and support, Rama defeated Ravana and crowned Vibhishana as the King.

When Vibhishana became the king of Lanka, he ruled the country with peace and prosperity following the path of Dharma.

During the end of Rama avatar, Lord Vishnu directed Vibhishana to stay on earth and maintain and guide people to the path of dharma. Hence, he is counted to be one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion.


Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Pavanputra(Wind-God son) Hanuman was born to Anjana and Kesari.

According to ancient legends, Anjana and Kesari long devotions and prayers towards Shiva brought them to have Hanuman as their son. The story goes like while Anjana and Kesari were worshipping Shiva, the king Dasaratha of Ayodhya performing the ritual of Putrakama Yagna for the same reason.

On finishing the Yagna, Dasharatha received a sacred kheer to be shared by his three wives, Kausalya, Kaikeyi, and Sumitra. By the grace of God, a kite snatched a splinter of that kheer and it fell down while the kite was flying over the forest. Vayudev (Wind God) brought that splinter to Anjana, which she consumed and Hanuman was born as a result.

Hanuman is one of the major characters of Ramayana meets Lord Rama in the last year of latter’s 14 years exile. Hanuman helped Rama to defeat Lanka King Ravana, who kidnapped Rama’s wife Sita.

Hanuman is pictured as the devotee of Lord Rama and Maa Sita. The story follows during the last age of Rama, Hanuman was blessed with immortality.

Veda Vyasa

Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Vyas, the author of legendary epic Mahabharata and the holy book Shrimad Bhagavatam is a great scholar and Hindu scriptwriter. He is among the 8 immortals in Hindu religion who is a prime example of knowledge and wisdom.

Many believe that Vyasa is Chiranjivins (immortals). A festival in India is dedicated to him, named Guru Purnima on account of his birthday.


Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Ashwatthama or Drauni, son of Guru Dronacharya, is a mighty Maharathi, who fought from the Kaurava side in the battle of Kurukshetra against Pandavas. He is among the eleven Rudras avatar and also one of the seven avatars of Chiranjivi.

Born as Chiranjivi, it is believed that he has a gem on his forehead which gives him the power to take control over all living beings except humans. It also protected him from thirst, hunger, and tiredness.

The tales say that during the Mahabharata war, on the night after the conquest of Duryodhana, Ashwatthama was terrified and twitchy. He made up a plan to attack Pandavas camp during the nightfall. With his desire, he affected a large part of Pandavas army by massacring them.

The next day when Lord Krishna and Arjuna came to know about it, they searched for Ashwathama. The fierce fight resumed again, with both Ashwatthama and arjuna drawing Brahmaastra at each other. Vyasa was aware of the power of it and asked them to revoke it.

Arjun learned the words of Vyasa and retract his Astra, while Ashwatthama diverted it towards the womb of Uttara, where the only lineage of Pandavas was living. Lord Krishna protected the baby from it but he cursed Aswastthama with 3000 years of sufferings.

He was asked to give away the gem on his forehead and he will be wandering around in the forest with puss and blood coming out of his body.

It is believed that he is one of the 8 immortals in Hindu religion and still there roving around with incurable diseases.

ALSO READ: Hollywood Celebrities Who Converted to Hinduism


Immortals in Hindu Religion
Source: Wikimedia Common

Known as one of the most important characters in Indian epic Mahabharata, Kripacharya is the true embodiment of impartiality.  He is one among the immortals in Hindu religion and the boon was bestowed upon him by Lord Krishna. Kripacharya is placed even above Dronacharya in the list of Hindu immortals because of his virtues,

Kripacharya is placed even above Dronacharya in the conference of immortality because of his virtues, righteousness, and impartiality. It is because of his quality to remain calm in any stressful condition that he stands out from the rest of the immortals. As stated in Mahabharata, Kripacharya was also capable to manage 60,000 in

As stated in Mahabharata, Kripacharya was also capable to manage 60,000 in the battlefield.

– Prepared by Abhishek Biswas of NewsGram Twitter: @Writing_desire