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By Kashish Rai
In Hinduism, the meaning of this shok in sankskrit confines to Lord Vishnu:
शान्ताकारं भुजगशयनं पद्मनाभं सुरेशं
विश्वाधारं गगनसदृशं मेघवर्णं शुभाङ्गम् ।
लक्ष्मीकान्तं कमलनयनं योगिभिर्ध्यानगम्यं
वन्दे विष्णुं भवभयहरं सर्वलोकैकनाथम् ॥
It means that:
I bow before God Vishnu..
Who is personification of peace,
Who sleeps on his folded arms,
Who has a lotus on his belly,
Who is the God of gods,
Who is the basis of earth,
Who is similar to the sky,
Who is of the colour of the cloud,
Who has beautiful limbs,
Who is the consort of Lakshmi,
Who has lotus like eyes,
Who is seen by saints through thought,
Who kills all worries and fears,
And who is the lord of all the worlds.
In Hinduism, Lord Vishnu is considered as the preserver of this world. As the preserver, he had declared, “Whenever evil will prevail in this world, I will take up an avatara in this world to cast-off all the evil and sufferings”.
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What is an Avatara?
Avatara (or incarnation) in Sanskrit refers to the “appearance” or “manifestation” of God or a Deity in an earthly embodiment. The concept of an avatara is principally associated with Lord Vishnu.
Classification of Avatars By Lord Vishnu
Avatars are broadly classified into two kinds:
- Sakshaty Avatara: When Lord Vishnu himself descended on earth, he took Sakshaty Avatara.
Amsarup Avatars and Purna Avatar are sub-categories of Sakshaty-Avatara!
- Purna Avataras: They include Lord Vishnu’s incarnation as Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and Lord Narasimha
- Amsarup Avataras: These include Lord Vishnu’s partial incarnation Matsya, Kurma, Varaha Avatara.
- Avesa Avatara: When Lord Vishnu indirectly empowered some living entity on earth to represent him, he took Avesa Avatara.
(Lord Parshurama, Vyasa are examples of Lord Vishnu’s Avesa Avataras)
The Concept of “Dashavatara”
According to Srimad Bhagwad Purana, there are innumerable incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Among them, there are 24 important incarnations of Lord Vishnu in total.
But, from Innumerable incarnations of Vishnu, Rishis or Sages selected ten Avatars as a representative of rest, these ten incarnations are known in Sanskrit as “Dashavatar”.
The Dhashavatara list of Vishnu is introduced in Garuda Purana (1st millennium BCE).
The most popular ten avatars based on many puranas are Matasya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana, Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Kalki.
Let us Understand about them in this article!
Dashavataras of Lord Vishnu
The matasya avatar represents the half fish, a half-human form of Vishnu. According to a story in the “Matasya Puran“, Matasya informs Manu, the leader of the humans, of the great flood, and helps him save all the motile living beings, the Vedas, and the seeds of all plants to sustain life.
Kurma Avatara represents the half tortoise half-man form of Vishnu. According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that during the churning of the ocean at the time of “Amrit-Manthan”, he balanced Mt. Mandara on his shell to assist the gods and the demons in the churning process. He is also believed to have supported the weight of the cosmos on the support of his back.
Varaha Avatara represents the half man and half boar avatar of Vishnu. According to Hindu dharma, he slayed the demon Hiranyaksha in order to save “Bhudevi”, the personification of earth, and restored her back to the original surface from a sinking state by using his tusks.
Narasimha Avatara represents the half lion and a half-human avatar of Vishnu. He was born to end the reign of the demonic king Hiranya Kashyap and save the supreme devotee of Vishnu “Prahlad” in order to establish peace, order, righteousness, and other elements of dharma on this earth.
Vamana was a dwarf Brahmin. This avatar of Lord Vishnu comes to check the growing power of the demonic king Mahabali, which he does by tricking him during a sacrificing ceremony and sending him to the underworld inside of the Earth.
Lord Parshurama is a Brahmin Kshatriya. In Hindu mythology, he is depicted as a sage with an axe in his hand. He was born to end the tyranny of the evil Kshatriyas, who misused their powers and made others’ lives miserable and bring them to justice for the sake of humankind.
Lord Rama is one of the most prominent deities in Hindu dharma and the lead character of the epic Ramayana. He kills the evil king Ravana to end his terrorizing rule, to establish morality, and to free his wife Sita, whom Ravana had kidnapped.
Lord Krishna is yet another major form of Vishnu. He is known to end the reign of his tyrannical maternal uncle Kansa, and for his role as the advisor or the Pandavas and the charioteer and guide of Arjuna in the greatest epic Mahabharata.
Siddhartha Gautam, later to be known as Gautam Buddha, left his family and all material possession in search of truth and enlightenment. He founded Buddhism and taught people ways to end all kinds of suffering through Noble Eightfold Paths.
According to Srimad Bhagwad Mahapuran, Kalki remains the only avatar of Vishnu that is yet to be born. It is said that he will end all evil by defeating the demon Kali and start a new “Satyuga” or Kalkiyuga (Kali refers all the negative emotions and elements personified into one).
Kalki is depicted as a warrior riding a white horse and holding a shining sword.
In Bhagavata Mahapuran, it is mentioned that whenever evil triumphs over good, darkness take over light, and tyranny rules over justice~ Lord Vishnu will reincarnate on earth to restore Dharma and guide the people towards right path.
Karwa Chauth is a Hindu festival that is primarily celebrated by married Hindu women. On this day, married Hindu women keep Nirjala fast, which means fasting even without consumption of water, from sunrise to sunset. The reason behind this fast is to pray for their husband's life, health, and safety.
According to the Hindu calendar, Karwa Chauth is celebrated on the fourth day after Purnima in the month of Kartik.
On this day, married Hindu women dress in new clothes (preferably red because signifies a happy married life) and apply henna to their hands. At the same time, women observing this fast get together to celebrate it by narrating the Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha and singing folk songs, which make this a lot more lively. Some women also worship Goddess Parvati in the Karwa Chauth puja followed by Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Kartikeya. And, the fast is later broken after having a glimpse of the moon.
Married Hindu women have gathered to perform the Karwa Chauth puja.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
Interestingly, there are many stories related to Karwa Chauth. Some of them are:
Story of Queen Veervati
This is the most interesting story. There was a queen named Veervati, who was the only sister amongst seven brothers. She spent her first Karva Chauth as a married woman at her parents' house. She began to fast after sunrise but by evening, she was desperately waiting for the moon to rise because she couldn't control her thirst and hunger any longer. Seeing this, her brothers became worried because their beloved sister was suffering from thirst and hunger. So, they begged her to break the fast but she refused. Seeing her in distress, the brothers tricked her by placing a round mirror in a Pipal tree, which made it look like the moon had risen. So, Veervati fell for her brothers' tricks and broke her fast, and the moment she sat down to eat, news came that her husband is dead. This is the reason why married Hindu women observe such a tough fast for their husband's life.
Story of Karwa Chauth in Mahabharata
Interestingly, it is believed that Draupadi also observed the fast of Karwa Chauth for the safety and long life of her five husbands. Once, when Arjun had gone for penance in the Nilgris, the rest of the Pandavas faced many issues in his absence. That was when Draupadi remembered Lord Krishna for his help, and he reminded her that in a similar situation, Goddess Parvati had kept the fast for Lord Shiva. Inspired by this, Draupadi too kept the fast of Karva Chauth for her five husbands. Since then it was believed that the Pandavas were able to face every problem.
Therefore, Karwa Chauth is celebrated by married Hindu women all across the world with full enthusiasm. Though, there is a sect now that has started calling this age-old ritual “patriarchal".
Keywords: Hinduism, Women, Karwa Chauth, Festivals, Patriarchy.
Karnataka is famous for Sandalwood, and this is best projected in the state's own Mysore Sandal Soap. This golden, fragrant soap that is rich with the goodness of Sandalwood, has a rather fascinating history behind it, and it is not for cosmetic benefit at all.
Mysore Sandal Soap, surprisingly, was not created by anyone interested in the beauty benefits of soap or its cosmetic value. Instead, it was created by Maharaja Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV and Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, the Diwan of Mysore.
Post-World War I, there was too much sandalwood lying around and the state did not know what to do with it. This excess stock was a result of the halted export to the other princely states. In 1916, the birth of the Sandalwood soap beloved to Karnataka came from an idea that the Maharaja received because of this wood.
He was gifted a set of soaps made from sandalwood oils, and he was extremely impressed with this. He decided to make soaps that represented the essence of the state. He discussed this idea with his Diwan, Visvesvaraya, who immediately backed him up. They began to experiment the making of soaps in collaboration with Indian Institute of Science.
Msore Sandal Soap is the only one with an oval shape that has not changed since 1916 Photo credit: Wikimedia commons
One of the students who worked on this process, Sosale Garalapuri Shastry showed great talent and was sent to England, to learn how to make soaps. He later came to be known as Soap Shastry. His work helped to standardise procedures, and the government factory that makes Mysore Sandal Soap was set up.
Shastry also designed the packaging box and gave the soap a unique shape. Soaps at that time were only rectangular bars. Mysore Sandal is the only oval soap that is embellished both inside and outside. Shastry intended for it to look like a jewellery box.
Every box of Mysore Sandal Soap has the inscription, 'Srigandadha Tavarinida' which means, "from the maternal home of the sandalwood". It is the only soap made from pure sandalwood oil, and bears the emblem of the sharaba, a creature with the body of a lion and head of an elephant.
The Maharaja's initial intent behind the soap was to reach the goodness of sandalwood to as many people as possible, and through men like Visvesvaraya and Shastry, it was made possible. The Mysore Sandal Soap is still one of the most organic soap and perhaps the only one that represents the culture of an entire state.
Keywords: Mysore Sandal Soap, Sandalwood, History, Shastry, Visvesvaraya
The new medical colleges being opened in Uttar Pradesh will be named after saints and sages.
The state government has issued an order naming four district hospitals that are being converted into medical colleges.
These district hospitals are in Bijnor, Fatehpur, Chandauli, and Siddharth Nagar.
The Bijnor medical college has been named after Mahatma Vidur, a philosopher during the Mahabharata era and uncle of the Pandavas and Kauravas.
The Chandauli medical college has been named after Baba Keenaram, said to be the founder of the Aghori sect.
The Siddharth Nagar district hospital will be called Madhav Prasad Tripathi Medical College after the BJP politician from the region. Tripathi, popularly known as Madhav Babu, was also the first Uttar Pradesh BJP chief. He was elected MP from Domariyaganj in 1977, besides being two times Jan Sangh MLA and also a member of the UP legislative council.
The Fatehpur hospital has been named Amar Shaheed Jodha Singh Ataiya Thakur Dariyawn Singh Medical College, after the freedom fighter of 1857.
It is said that he was among the first to use Guerrilla warfare against the British, as taught by freedom fighter Tatya Tope.
Meanwhile, according to official sources, the medical college in Deoria will be named after Maharishi Devraha Baba and the medical college of Ghazipur in the name of Maharishi Vishwamitra.
The medical college of Mirzapur will be in the name of Maa Vindhyavasini, the medical college of Pratapgarh in the name of Dr. Sonelal Patel and the medical college of Etah will be named after Veerangana Avantibai Lodhi. (IANS/JB)
Keywords: Medical Colleges, Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, India, Politics