Here is a collection of stories that I have heard / read while growing up and / or googled now to tell my daughter :)

Hope you / your children enjoy it as much as we did.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Avataras of Lord Vishnu - Kurma - Part 3

Now we have the Mount Mandara on Vishnu's back with Vasuki coiled around him, the devas with the tail and asuras with head started churning the ocean.  Do you remember in the last part we saw the asuras pushing the devas to the tail of vasuki and they holding the head. When they started pulling on Vasuki he started spitting out smoke.

The smoke was soo powerful that it started burning the asuras holding the head very badly. Indra suddenly realised the warning of Vishnu. Bali saw this and realised Indra had tricked them. But he could not do anything as they had decided to hold the head of vasuki while churning the ocean.

They continued churning for hours together. Halahal - the ultimate poison was the first thing that came out of the ocean. It spread on top of mount mandara like a mushroom head. It started growing the if the cloud of poisin was not stopped it threatened to finish off the whole world. Indra fell on his feet and prayed Lord Shiva "Oh Lord Shiva, help us, please save us from this destruction". The Asuras and devas had stopped churning the ocean and were coughing and crying due to the sting of the posion.

Shiva heard the prayers and immediately came to their rescue. He saw the building cloud of halahal and realised he had to act quickly before it destroyed the universe. He sucked the halahal into his palm and swallowed it in one gulp even when he realised that the poison could kill him. Parvati who was standing next to Shiva, screamed Nooooo, she quickly held Shiva's throat with her Palm. Jaganmate Parvathi stopped the poison at Shivas throat. The Poison was soo powerful that it turned Shiva's throat Blue. Since that day Shiva is called Neelakantha.

The devas and asuras thanked Lord Shiva and Parvathi. Then they continued to churn the ocean. The ocean started throwing up things from its centre. These were distributed among devas, asuras and Lord Vishnu.

First came Chandra, the moon. As Lord Shiva had saved the devas and asuras by drinking Halahal, the asuras and devas gifted it to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva wore Chandra as his hair Ornament.
Parijata - This is a celestial tree which gives never fading blooms with divine scent. Indra took this to devaloka.
Apsaras beautiful nymphs - Rambe, urvashi, Menaka emerged from the ocean and they choose the devas as their consorts
Varuni or Sura - the goddess of wine was taken by Asuras.
Airavata and all the elephants was taken by Devas
Uchhaishravas, the divine 7-headed horse – given to the demons.
Kamadhenu the divine cow which would grant all you ask was taken by Vishnu, and given to sages so ghee from her milk could be used in sacrifices.
Kaustubha, the most valuable jewel in the world, worn by lord Vishnu.
Sharanga, A powerful bow – symbolic of the demon’s belligerence.

Then Came Goddess Lakshmi. She was so beautiful that the asuras and devas stopped churning and sat staring at her. In order to gain her attention they produced a chair, a few devas got fans and started plying them. The asuras got fruits and drinks for her. The apsaras danced for her. In those days a swyamwara was held for any woman who anted to marry. A garland was handed to the lady and she could choose her husband.

A beautiful garland was handed to Goddess Lakshmi. All the devas and asuras stood in front of her and prayed that he would be the lucky person who would marry her. The goddess searched each face and moved on, finally her eyes settled on Lord Vishnu. She walks up to him and puts the garland around his neck. She is the goddess of wealth and he the god of preservation. The devas sensed that goddess Lakshmi was the incarnation of Jaganmathe and she became the wife of Lord Vishnu's wife - his centre of power and strength.

Like this Lord Vishnu and Godddess Lakshmi were married in the middle of Samudra Manthana.


Monday, 28 September 2015

Avataras of Lord Vishnu - Kurma - Part 2

After listening to Lord Vishnu , the devas were filled with energy and hope. Indra along with Agni went to devaloka and knocked on the door and requested entry and permission to meet King Bali. Seeing them un armed, the asuras wanted to kill them, Indra started shouting "O King of asuras, please hear us out before you decide to kill us. We have come to you with the proposal of extracting Amrita from the depth of the oceans. Please hear us out". Bali stopped the ministers and asked Indra to continue. Indra explained his plan for extracting Amrita from the ocean. He requested the Asuras too help them.

Bali could not believe his ears. He said "Amrita, you really mean the Amrita, drinking which a person becomes immortal and becomes too powerful.. unbelievable!!!". Okay if I believe you, why do you need our help? we are your mortal enemies. How do you propose to do it?".

Indra laid out his plan and said "Oh Asura, we cannot do it ourself, neither can you guys do it alone. we need the help of mount mandara and vasuki". One of the Asura warriors interrupted "Ha ha ha you are the powerless devas.. we do not need your help, we can retrieve Amrita ourselves. ". Bali lifted his hand and the asura became silent. Bali pondered on whether to believe Indra, then thought "It really does not matter, if they do not share, we can defeat them easily and drink Amrita.". He tells Indra "Oh Indra, we are fine. we will work with you to get the Amrita"

Indra was happy that the first part of the plan went successfully. He then went to sarpaloka to meet Vasuki the king of snakes. Indra saluted vasuki and said "Oh king of snakes, the devas and asuras are planning to churn the ocean to get amrita, we need a rope, if you agree to help us, we will  share the Amrita with you."

Vasuki gave his consent and agreed to become the rope. The last part of the plan was to get mount Mandara as the churning tool. On the designated day, the devas and asuras went to Mount Mandara. They offered prayers to Mount Mandara and the earth. They started breaking the base of the mountain. With every Asura and deva involved due to the size of the mountain it was a very slow job. After days of effort, the mountain was free. All the devas and asuras were happy and looking forward to churn the ocean.

The devas tried lifting the mountain, but alas could not even move it an inch. The asuras laughed at the devas and tried lifting it, but in vain. Then all the asuras and devas joined hands to lift. They carried the mountain a few feet and could not carry the weight. The Mount Mandara fell on them and crushed, injuring and killing quite a few devas and asuras.

When Indra saw his brothers getting killed, he cursed his stupidity in disrespecting the Sage Dhurvasa. The devas started praying Lord Vishnu. Suddenly he felt his heart growing lighter the breeze smelled sweeter. The day looked brighter. He knew what was happening, he turned around to see Lord Vishnu smiling at him. The great Lord lifted Mount Mandara in one hand and placed it on Garuda. And we all know by now that Garuda can carry tremendous weight without any effort. Vishu waved his hands at the devas and asuras who were crushed under Mount Mandara. All the devas and asuras woke up as if they had been asleep. The devas saw Lord Vishnu and Garuda carrying mount mandara and sang the Lord's praises. The asuras seeing this started walking towards the ocean muttering to themselves. Bali walked up to Vishnu and thanked him for saving his family.

Vishnu sat on Garuda and took the Mountain to the ocean and placed it on the bank and vanished. The devas and asuras then dragged the mountain into the sea. Vasuki came and wrapped himself around the mountain. Indra suddenly remembered Vishnu's voice in his head asking him to take the tail. He immediately ran to the head of vasuki and said loudly "Oh Asuras, you take the tail, we will take the head". The Asuras got very angry when the heard this, they came and chased the devas to the tail of Vasuki. Agni and other devas smirked at this and went and held the tail of Vasuki.

The devas and asuras prayed the ocean god and dropped medicianl herbs and flowers into the ocean. The churning began, as there was no support to mount mandara, it started slipping down inside the huge ocean. dragging vasuki, the devas and asuras with it. Both the Asuras and Devas were frustrated. Agni sat down dejectedly, he said aloud "Oh Indra, coming this close and failing is not correct. but what do we do now". Indra saw the smiling face of Lord Vishnu in his head. He knew what he should do, he started praying to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu immediately on hearing came down from vaikunta in the form of a gaint tortoise. This is his second avatar - Kurma Avatar. He plunged into the ocean and went and sat with Mandara on his back.

Lord Vishnu came in the form a giant tortoise [his second avatar – Kurma Avatar] and plunged into the ocean. He went under the ocean and picked the submerged Mount Mandara and put it on his back. The Mountain now stood firmly on the tortoise's back, inside the ocean and the devas and asuras began churning.


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Avataras of Lord Vishnu - Kurma - Part 1

In this story the next avatara of Lord Vishnu, Kurma makes an entrance. A lot of things happen in this story - asuaras defeat devas, lord Vishnu marries Goddess Lakshmi, we come to know why eclipses happen :)

Without further ado, here we go. Long Long ago there was a sage by name Dhurvasa. He was a very powerful sage and know all over the worlds for his kind heart and anger. He was known to become angry at little things and curse people. One day when he was roaming the world he came across tree filled with beautiful pink flowers. The flowers were soo beautiful and the aroma coming from the flowers made Dhurvasa's heart fill with happiness. He took a few flowers and made a garland. Once the garland was completed he wanted to give it to someone who deserves the beautiful flowers. We started walking towards Devaloka.

As we know, Indra is the king if gods. The devas had defeated the Asuras and Indra was feeling very proud of himself. He started thinking "I am the lord of all gods. I am great". He started becoming arrogant and disrespectful of others. To show off how great he was he started travelling out on his beautiful, 4 tusked white elephant called Airavata.

When he was travelling his kingdom on Airavata, he saw sage Dhurvasa coming from the other side. Indra saw the sage and did not get down from the elephant to bow to the maharishi. Dhurvasa did not notice this as he wanted to hand over the garland to the king of gods. He handed the garland over tot Indra and said "Oh! King of heaven, take this garland. It befits you. The flowers are soo precious and rare that they always stay fresh and the scent is so heavenly that it brings peace to the heart.".

Indra takes the garland and carelessly throws it on Airavata's head. As animals have more sensitive nose than humans, Airavata could not stand the smell from the garlanad. He took the Garland in his snout, threw it on the ground and stomped on it in rage. When Sage Dhurvasa saw this he got very angry, he said "O! Indra, you insolent.... you have forgotten how to respect others, you have become too proud of your strength and vigor you have forgotton how to behave.. you should be taught a lesson"

Indra suddenly realised who was infront of him, remembered all the other times SAe Dhurvasa had become angry and cursed people. King of gods or nor he realised he better make ammends quickly. He jumped from Airavata and fell on Dhurvasa's feet and said "O sage Dhurvasa, please forgive me. I was not thinking, I have learnt my lesson, please forgive me.. I should have bowed to you as soon as I saw you... "

Dhurvasa realsied Indra is not really sorry and is trying to pacify him. He snorted with anger and said "Now when you realise I am going to curse you, you prented to be sorry.. And you are thinking that I am a fool who will beleive you! You should indeed be thought a lesson, I curse you and the devas to loose your power and your vigor. You will not have any energy and will always be tired... "

Indra was scared, in panic he fell on the sage's feet and cried "No.. please have mercy.. do not do this to me and the other devas. oh! great sage have mercy". But Dhurvasa was still very angry he turned and walked away. Indra wanted to run behind the sage and ask for mercy but he could feel his energy seeping away, he tried to run and fell down on the floor as he was very tired and became unconciois.

After sometime he woke up and staggerred back to his palace to see all the other devas - agni, vayu, varuna also feeling tired and listless. He sat with them and explained his encounter with Sage Dhurvasa and his curse. All the other devas were panic stricken and did not know what to do. Just then a guard burst in shouting "Devendra Devendra Help Help, the asuras.. the asuras are at the gate.. trying to break in... save us".

Indra and the gods were petrified. The asuras and devas fought often and the devas won most of the times because of thier strength, now they were weak and tired and did not even have strength to stand leave the strength to fight. Indra told the guard "Inform everyone, we are not fighting, we do not want our brothers to die, leave the kingdom and flee". The other gods could not belive their ears and they told Lord Indra not to be a coward, but then realised the truth in what Indra said. They left the kingdom and ran.

The asuras seeing the devas flee gave chase. The Asuras laughed at hem and called them cowards and chased them out of devaloka. The King of asuras Bali - crowned himself the king of devaloka.

The devas staggered off to Lord Brahma - the creator. They fell on Brahma's feet and asked his help. Indra told him everything that happened between him and Sage Dhurvasa. And then of the asuras attacking them.

Brahma could not belive his ears. He told Indra "O! Indra, how can you behave so arrogantly, that too towards a sage.. a sage like Dhurvasa, how many times have I told you to leave your pride and behave like a leader, because of your arrogance you have caused the downfall of devas". Hearing Brahma, Indra was very downcast. He could see the mistakes he did, and reaslised because of him the other devas were paying the price.

Brahma saw the change in Indra and realised that Indra has learnt his lesson. Brahma also was a little worried, the devas were supposed to take care of the natural elements required for the worlds to function, with asuras ruling heaven he wondered what will be he fate of the worlds. He said "Indra, it is late now. we cannot go back to Dhurvasa and ask him to show mercy. He will get more angry and will not help us. The only person who can help you now is Lord Vishnu, let us go to him and ask for help. I will also come with you."

Hearing this the devas breathed a sigh of releif, they could feel a little strength returning to their bodies. They knew Lord Vishnu will not let them down. He always had a solution to their problems. Along with Lord Brahma the devas went to Vaikunta. On seeing them Lord Vishnu asked Indra with a twinkle in his eyes "O Indra, what is wrong, you have come to see me with all the devas and looks like you have dragged Brahma into this. What have you done now?"

Indra was filled with mortification. He fell on his knees in front of the lord and said dejectedly "O Lord, stop making fun of me, you know everything. you are sarvantaryami. Please take pity on me and help us. I do not want my friends and followers to suffer because of my stupidity. Please help"

Brahma said with a smile. "Vishnu, stop toying with Indra, he has learnt his lesson. Now we need to find a way to restore him back in devaloka"

Vishnu smiled and said "O Indra, I cannot help you, the only people who can help you are the asuras and sarpas". Hearing this Indra's head jerked up, all the other devas were dumbfound as everyone knew the asuras were the sworn enemies of Indra and he never did get along well with sarpas.

Vishnu smiles and said "Have you seen the ocean, when I went down there to retreive the vedas from Hayagreea, I was amazed by the amount of secrets the ocean hides in its depths". The gods were puzzled and shook their heads trying to understand the cryptic meaning behind the words of the Lord. Vishnu smiled and said "hmm... amrita"

Agni and Vayu first realised what the Lord was saying. Agni shouted "Amrita.. oh! lord am I hearing this correctly? Amrita.. If you drink Amrita you will always be extrordinarily powerful, your vigor will never disappear, you will never die or age"

Indra immediately asked "Oh Lord, how do we get Amrita from the ocean, and why do we need the help of asura's and sarpa's? If we take their help don't we have to give them something in return?"

Vishnu said "It is not very easy Indra, Amrita needs to be churned from the Ocean, for that you need a churner. Go and request mount mandara. Then you would need a rope to churn the ocean, ask Vasuki to be your rope. He might be willing to help you if you promise him some nectar. and about your other concern do not worry I will take care of it. I cannot reverse the effect of Dhurvasa's curse but I can slow it, Indra ensure you get Amruta in your hand before you loose all your energy".

Hearing this Indra understood why they need the help of Asura. As lifting mount Mandara in normal conditions was impoery difficult, in their weakend conditions it would impossible. Hearing the final words of Vishnu, the devas bowed their heads to the great lord, they could feel energy seepin back into their body. When they were about to leave Lord Vishnu called Indra and said "Indra, when you start churning the ocean, hold vasuki's tail". Indra wondered about this cryptic remark and stored it in his head and turned back towards devaloka.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Avatars of Lord Vishnu - Matysa

All these stories from Hindu Mythology are so interconnected, it becomes difficult to tell the stories without providing some background information. So starting this series to tell you about the Avatars of Vishnu - Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Narasimha, Vamana & Parshurama.

As per Hindu mythology, there are 4 yugs - Satya yuga, Treta yuga, Dwapara Yuga and Kali yuga. We are currently in Kali yuga now. As per the mythology, each yuga i.e 4320 million years is 1 day for lord Brahma. After creating every day (yuga) Lord Brahma goes to sleep. When he sleeps no creation happens in the universe. The power to create the universe comes from Vedas. This is why Lord Brahma is called the creator.

If Lord Brahma is the God of creation then Lord Vishnu is the God of Preservation. That means, once the creation is done, it is Lord Vishnu's job to ensure whenever the earth is in danger and when evil threatens to overcome the good, Lord Vishnu descends from the heaven to re-incarnate on the earth and slay the evil and restore good and dharma on earth. Today we will hear the story of Matsya Avatar.

Satya Yuga also called as Golden Yuga was the first Yuga. In this Yuga Lord Dharma who is depited in the form of a cow stood on all 4 legs. Average life span of a human in SAtya yuga was around 4000 yrs. People were good, there was no deceit and cruelty. People were happy and without diseases.

In this Satya yuga, there was a king by name Satyavrat Vaivasvat Manu. He was just ruler and one of the biggest devotees of Lord Vishnu. The only thing he wanted and prayed for was to see Lord Vishnu before he dies. For this he prayed everyday, did meditation, performed severe tapasya for years.

Lord Brahma after creating the Satya Yuga was very tired. He wanted to rest. He fell asleep and started to snore loudly. The sleep of Brahma indicates the beginning of end of any Yuga. A great flood was about to come and destroy all the life on earth to start afresh for the next Yuga.

While Lord Brahma was snoring away, a Asura by name Hayariva came out of Brahma's nose. He saw the Vedas slipping from Brahma's mouth realised it was the best time to steal the Vedas. He took the vedas and hid deep inside he ocean thinking nobody would find him there.

As soon as the Veda's were stolen, Lord Vishnu woke up from his Shayana. He saw in his minds's eye what Hayagriva did, if the vedas were not restored back to Brahma, then Brahma would not be able to complete he creation of the new yuga. As the god of preservation, it was his job to make sure the Vedas were passed on to the next yuga.

At the same time, the prayers of Manu who was deep in tapasya reached Lord Vishnu. Vishnu came up with a plan restore the Vedas to their rightful place and do much more.. Smiling he got up from his resting place and disappeared.

The next morning, Manu went into the river to do salutations to the Sun god. When he took the water in his hand and offered it to the gods, he heard a small voice "O Manu, the great king, please help me, do not put me back in the river, I am soo tiny, I am afraid some other fish will eat me up. I have come seeking your protection. Please help!"

Manu looked at his hands and saw a tiny fish. Manu looked at it with pity and listened to it and as it was his principle to protect anyone seeking his protection, he put the fish in his kamandala and went back to his home. After finishing his duties, he left the fish in the kamandala thinking it will be safe there.

In the morning he woke to a voice calling him "Manu O Manu, wake up. Your kamandala is very small, there is no water here. I cannot breath. Help Help!". When Manu looked at the Kamandala, he saw the head of the fish from  talking to him from the top of the Kamandala. He ran and got a bigger vessel, filled it with water and dropped the fish into it. The fish thanked him and started swimming happily in the vessel.

He went to the river, finished his morning prayers and was coming back to his house, he heard a voice calling his name from within his house. He went into see the fish calling him, the fish had grown so big that it was about to fall out of the vessel. It cried "O King, save me.. I am not able to breath. I need water"

Manu stared blankly at the fish struggling, he got the biggest vessel he had and put the fish inside it. The fish thanked him and after checking that the vessel was big enough started swimming in it. The King was about to sit in his court, he heard a strong voice calling his name. He realised it was the fish, and ran to see the fish stare out of the big vessel and struggling to breath. He stomped on all the questions arising in his head and ran to the river with the fish in his hands and threw the fish inside.

The fish breathed gill full of air, and then thanked the king. When Manu was about to leave it said "O great king, please do not leave me, you have promised to protect me, the bigger fishes might eat me". Manu started getting suspicious, but he had promised to protect the fish so he stayed with it. He sat staring at the fish and saw the fish getting bigger and bigger till it covered the entire river. Manu carried the fish from one river to another river, but the fish kept getting bigger.

Finally he dragged the fish to the ocean and before his eyes the fish grew to fill one side of the ocean. Looking at the huge fish he suddenly realised what was happening. He bowed before the fish crying "Oh! Lord you have finally heard my prayers. My Narayana you are finally here on earth for me". Tears of happiness were flowing from his eyes.

Lord Vishnu in the form of the fish smiled and said "O Manu, how can I not come when you were pulling me to you with your prayers". While Vishnu was talking a huge horm stared to grow from the fish's head.

Manu cried "My Lord, you have granted me my only wish, I do not want anything else. Please tell me My Lord, why are you here in this form?".

Lord Vishnu said "Manu, this Yuga will end in 7 days, there will be floods, cyclones and Volcanoes and everything on the earth would end. I want you to build a huge ship, take a male and female of every animal alive on this earth, take seeds of every plant, get the seven sages and their families and get them on the ship. And also bring Vasuki the snake god".

Manu Bowed to him and said "Yes my lord". The Fish disappeared into the sea. The fish went deep into the ocean in search of Hayagriva, it found him at the deepest part of the ocean guarding the Vedas. Seeing the huge fish, Hayagriva realised it is Lord Vishnu come to take the Vedas back. He stood and started fighting the fish. The fight went on for 6 days. On the 7th day Lord Vishnu Killed the Asura and restored the Vedas back to Lord Brahma who was still sleeping.

During this time, Manu built the ship and gathered everything Lord Vishnu had asked him on the ship. On the 7th day, there were torrential rains and water level started raising, the ship started to float. The ship started wobbling on the water. Manu and the rishis started praying to Lord Vishnu. Suddenly they saw the huge fish tearing the ocean speeding towards them. The fish bellowed loudly "Manu, quick. Use Vasuki and tie the bow of the ship to my horn." AS soon Manu managed to tie the ship to the horn of the fish, the fish steered them to the centre of the ocean where they were safe till the rains stopped and the other life on earth ended. During this time, Lord Vishnu told them this Avatar of his is called "Matsyavatar" and taught them the Vedas.

Once the storm stopped, Brahma woke to create he new yuga, the fish deposited them at Himalayas to start the new yuga.

Tomorrow we will talk about the next avatara - Kurma.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Story of Garuda - Part 2 - How Garuda became the vehicle of Lord Vishnu

Today we will know how Garuda became the ehicle of Lord Vishnu.

Where were we yesterday, ok. after depositing the sages, Garuda sat on the ground and finished his meal. Feeling charged, he started flying towards heaven to get Amrita.

As Garuda approached heaven, Indra the king of gods felt his throne shake and saw a few bad omens. He ran to the deva guru Brihaspati to seek his advice. Brihaspati realises what Garuda is up to and tells Indra to safe guard the Amrita and tells Indra all about the request from the snakes.

Indra turned pale when he heard Garuda's name and started yelling to all his followers to prepare for war and tells about what Garuda is up to. All the gods assembled - Agni and Surya say "we will be the make 10000 devas stand and fight, they will be the first line of defence. If he passes them I and Surya will create a wall of fire and we will burn him into dust"

Vayu then says "that is not enough let us place the Amrita in the centre of the huge wheels which have rotating blades, so that no one can steal it". They also decided to have snakes guarding the area.

When Garuda reached the gates of heaven, the devas seeing him for the first time got very scared, Garuda was very huge and the devas appeared tiny infront of him. As they had tasted Amrita, they knew they cannot die, but they could be hurt and it would take sometime for them to recover enough to fight back. Indra sensing that he devas are scared, yelled ATTACK. The devas attacked Indra with all the weapons they had.

Garuda flapped his wings hard. As he was soo huge, the dust that rose from the wings was soo much that the Devas could not see anything, and instead of attacking Garuda by throwing the weapons, they were attacking themselves

Indra asked Vayu to swallow the air and yelled at the devas to keep attacking Garuda. All the weapons thrown at Garuda were of no use. He just grew his body and the weapons starting bouncing off his skin. The larger he grew the brigter he became. The devas were becoming blind by the white light coming from Garuda. The Devas seeing how ineffectual their weapons were started running from the battle.

The first defence line of the devas crumbled. Then Garuda was faced with the fire from Sun and Agni. He grew into a huge bird with 80K faces. He flew back to earth and filled water in all his mouths and flew back to heaven and drenched the fire. Agni and Sun could not take the amount of water pouring in and ran from the battle. This crumbled the second line of defence.

Garuda saw the metal wheels and grinned, he reduced his size and became the size of a mosquito and went under the metal wheels, saw the snakes slithering towards him. The snakes reminded him of this brothers who had tortured his mother, he ran towards them and killed them with his bare hands.

He went to the centre of the wheel, got hold of the pot of Amrita and just grew in size, the wheels shatterred when he became huge. He let out a victory whoop and with the pot of Nectar in hand flew back home.

Lord Vishnu saw this huge bird flying with the pot of nectar in its hand. He was impressed with the rigid control Garuda had on himself that even when he had Amrita in his hand, he did not drink it. He had also witnessed the strength of Garuda when he defeated the devas.

He called Garuda to stop, When Garuda saw Vishnu his heart was filled with devotion, he bowed infront of the Great Lord and bowed his head with bhakti. Lord Vishnu was impressed with the humility of Garuda. He tells Garuda "O, Garuda, I saw the whole thing and I am impressed with you, I want to grant you 2 boons, ask anything and you will have it"

Garuda thought about it and says "Oh! Lord Vishnu as my first boon I want to be immortal and free from all diseases, as my second boon I want to be above you". Lord Vishnu laughs out loud and asks Garuda to sit on top of his staff. This made Garuda sit above lord Vishnu. Garuda was impressed by Lord Vishnu and tells him "as you have given me the privilage os sitting above you, I want to do something for you too, ask what ever you want. Vishnu smiles and tells Garuda "I want you to be my vehicle, to carry me around!'

Garuda then explains to Lord Vishnu about his mother and seeks permission to finish his job. Indra seeing Garuda flying alone comes back and starts fighting him, a fierce fight ensures. Indra hurled his weapon Vajrayuda [thunderbolt] at Garuda. Vajrayudha is one of the most feared weapon of the Gods. The effect of the Vajrayuda was devastating. But nothing happens to Garuda, one feather shakes and falls to the ground.

Indra then realises that he will not be able to defeat Garuda, so he bows to Garuda and offers friendship. Garuda seeing that Indra sincinelry wants to be his friend accepts the friendship. Indra then begs Garuda not to give the Amrita to snakes. Garuda comes up with a plan to save his mother and not give Amrita to the snakes.

Indra was very happy he grants Garuda a boo. He says, 'My dear Garuda, ask me anything and I will grant you the wish'. Garuda thought of all the problems he faced from his brothers and asks Indra "I want snakes to be my natural food!'. Indra grants the wish and asks Garuda "O, Garuda you single handedly defeated my army, vajrayudha could not hurt you, how strong are you?". Garuda smiles and replies "My one feather can balance the earth on its tip". Indra disappears with a astounding expression on his face.

Garuda then goes to Kadru and offers the pot of nectar to his brothers. Looking at the pot, the snakes tell Garuda and Vinata, "You are both free. You are no longer our servants". Overjoyed Garuda remembers his plan which he had hatched with Indra, he turns to the snakes and tells them "O my brothers you are about to taste Amrita, why don't you havev a bathe before tasting it"

The snakes placed the pot of Amrita on the sharp "Kusha" (grass) and go for bath. Indra sneaks in and steals the pot. Seeing this the snakes rush to stop Indra, but Indra escapes to heaven. While he was carrying the pot a few drops if Amrita falls on the Kusha grass. The Snakes start licking the nectar, but the sharp grass cut the tongues of the snakes and since then it is believed that snakes have a forked tongue and Garuda became the vehicle of Lord Vishnu

The Story of Garuda - Part 1 - Garuda got his name

Once upon a time there was a sage called Kashyapa. He had 2 wives who were sisters. Kadru and Vinita. They did not have any children for a long time and begged Kashyapa to grant them a boon. Sage Kashyapa was moved by their pleadings granted them their wish. He gave them one fruit each and asked them to bury it in a pot and pary. Kadru prayed for 1000 powerful sons and Vinita prayed for 2. In the morning when they opened the pot, Kadru's pot contained 1000 eggs and Vinita's had 2. Within a week the 1000 eggs hatched and out came 1000 snakes. Vinita's eggs did not hatch for a long time. Vinita could not wait and poked one egg open, out came a half grown child, It cursed Vinita that she would spend part of her life servivng someone else. The child flew to Sun and became he charrioter.

One day when the sisters were walking in the garden they saw the beautiful celestial horse Ucchaishrava flying in the sky. Vinata becomes mesmerised by the beauty of the horse and starts praising it to her sister. Kadru tells her that the horse is not beautiful as its tail is black. Vinita does not agree and the sisters get into a wager on whether the tail is black. The bet being if the tail is black then Vinita would become the slave of Kadru and serve her.

That night Kadru calls her children the snakes and tell them to attach themselves to the horse's tail so that it becomes black. The Snakes go and attach themselves to the horses tail. In the morning when the sister's look at the tail, they see a beautiful horse with black tail. Vinita accepts defeat and starts working as a slave to Kadru.

After a few days the other egg hatched and out came a child. The child had face, beak, wings and talons of an eagle, and the body of a human. As he was born when his mother was a servant, he too was treated as a servant to the Snakes and Kadru. When the boy saw his mother being treated as a servant he felt very unhappy.

One night, he asked his mother why his brothers treated them as slaves. Vinita told the story and sobbed crying because of her son is being treated as a servant. When the boy realised his brothers had tricked his mother into slavery he became very angry, and decided to wait for a perfect moment for revenge.

One day, his eldest brother called him and said "O son of our slave, me, my brothers and our mother want to go on a picnic, your mother can carry our mother but she cannot carry us, so carry us on your back and take us to the island". The boy felt this was the right opportunity, he took all the snakes on his back and flew up and up closer to the sun, the snakes could not stand the heat and started to burn, they cried "Mother Mother, help us". KAdru immediately prayed to Indra to save her sons. Indra heard the prayer and sent cooling showers from the sky and saved the snakes.

Kadru then punished Vinita for the act of her son. The boy wanted to save his mother from slavery so he asked the snakes what do they want in tot release his mother and him from slavery. The snakes agreed to free his mother, provided he fetched them a pot of divine nectar (Amrita) in return. The pot of nectar was currently with God Indra and the Gods had denied Amrita to Asuras and Snakes as the person drinking Amrita would become immortal and powerful.

The boy bowed to his mother and flies off. He goes to his father and tells him the job he is about tot undertake to release his mother and seeks his blessings. Sage Kashyapa tells him, 'Son, it is a long journey to devaloka,  you are going to need a lot of food to keep you strong. Go to the Himalayas. There you will find an elephant and a tortoise fighting each other for many years. You can eat them to satisfy your hunger.'

The boy goes to himalayas and sees the two animals fighting, he swoops in and takes each animal in each hand and sits on a tree to eat them. The branch could not bear his weight and starts breaking, the boy suddenly sees that there are Valakhila sages meditating hanging up side down from the branches of the tree. AS his hands were filled with the animals, he catches the branch in his mouth and flies on. The sages open their eyes and see that a big strong bird with a tortoise in one hand and an elephant in the other is carrying them. They tell him to put them down on one of the peaks. When Garuda does this, they bless him by saying "o Strong one, from now on you will be called GARUDA, the one who can lift immense weight"

What happens next is for tomorrow :)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Story of Arunasura

Once upon a time there was a Asura called Arunasura. He was one of the minister's of Shumbha and Nishumbha who fled from the field when Goddess Durga killed them in the battle. He went into hiding and once the battle was over, he came from his hiding place and sees that the Asura Kingdom has fallen and is without any leader.

He proclaims himself the king of Asuras and starts ruling the paatal loka. When he sees the gods are enjoying themself in heaven he becomes very angry and decides to take revenge on the devas for killing Shumbha and Nishumbha.

He goes to the Rakshaha guru Shukracharya and tells him "Oh! gurudeva, please tell me how do I get revenge for all the Asuras who have been killed by Deva's"? Shukracharya tells him, he needs to get more powerful if he has to defeat the devas. He advices him to pray Lord Bramha and get a boon of immortality.

Arunasura goes to Himalayas and starts his meditation. He spends years meditating without eating food and drinking water, standing on one leg. Lord Bramha finally appears and asks him to seek a boon. Arunasura tells Brahma that he wants immortality. Brahma says "everyone who is born on earth has to die one day, I cannot give you immortality, please ask something else".

Arunasura thinks for a while and asks Brahma for a boon where he should not be defeated / killed by devas, asuras, yaksha, gandarvas, kinnaras or any other 2 or 4 legged creatures. Brahma grants the boon and disappears. Goddess saraswathi also teaches him the "Gayatri Mantra" and asks him to chant it every day. This makes Arunasura very poerful. Arunasura now starts tormenting the sages and human beings, then he attacks deva loka. Indra seeing his men being crushed by the Asura flees from deva loka.

Indra with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva approach Goddess Adishakthi and beg gher to save them from Arunasura. Goddess climbs on her vehicle and goes to the battle field to kill Arunasura. After fighting for days together Devi still could not kill Arunasura, then she realises the Gayatri mantra that he chants has formed a protective cover around him. She retreats from the battle field.

She calls Indra and tells him that till Arunasura is chanting Gayatri Mantra she will not be able to kill him. Hearing this NArada who loves to fix issues like this goes to Arunasura and praises him " O Arunasura, how powerful are you, how brave are you, you made Goddess Durga run from the battle field, you should be the crowned king of heaven " etc etc. Finally he says "I do not understand one thing, when you yourself can now be called as god why do you still chant mantras of other gods". Arunasura listening to this, decides to stop chanting Gaytri Mantra.

As soon as he does this, Goddess Durga invites him to fight. Arunasura attacks her with all his might and Devi gets angrier and angrier, as she now knows about the boon to Arunasura, she changes herself into a huge Bee (which is six legged) and attacks him with her sting repeatedly till she kills him. As soon as the Asura is dead, the devas lead by Sage Jabali pray to goddess Durga to return to her "Sowmya roopa" and worship her with Tender coconut brought from Kalpavriksha in deva loka.

Devi remembers her promise to Nandini, and the huge bee jumps into River Nandini and out emerges the soumya roopa of devi. As only half of Devi emerge from the river the place is called Kati + ela (earth) i.e Kateel.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Story of River Nandini

Story of River Nandini

Nandini is the beautiful river which flows around Kateel. The story of how Nandini the daughter of Kamadhenu came down to earth as a river is as follows:

Once upon a time there was a Rakshasha by the name Arunasura. He was a huge Asura and was known for
his cruelty towards humans and sages. Every time he heard of a sage performing any offering to any
God or performing any yaga he would send his Asura soldiers to kill and eat the sages.

Even the gods like Indra, Agni, Vayu varuna were scared of this Asura, as they were not getting any
offerings from the sages, the gods became weak and there a huge famine on earth. There was no rain,
no food, no water. And the people on the earth were suffering.

Sage Jabali, could not see this and decided to perform a huge yagna in secret. As there was nothing
available to give as offerings, he went to Indra and asked him to send Kamadhenu with him. Now
digressing a little - Do you know who is Kamadhenu? She is the sacred cow who will give you anything
you ask. I will tell you where she came from in another story :)

Where were we, aha yes, Jabali goes to Indra and asks Indra to send Kamadhenu with him. Kamadhenu
would have gone to Varuna loka so Indra instead asks Jabali to take her daughter Nandini with him to
assist in the yagna.

When Jabali requests Nandini to join him, Nandini gets very angry and starts abusing humans and
earth and makes fun of Jabali's efforts. She also refuses to accompany him to save the earth. Jabali hearing this got very angry and cursed Nandini "Hey Nandini, you are soo proud of yourself, and you made fun of humans.. Now I curse you to serve the same humans by flowing as a river on earth and you will never return to heaven"

Nandini immediately fell on Jabali's feet and prayed for forgiveness. Jabali being the kind sage feels sorry for her and tells her to pray Godess Adishakthi to get out of the curse. Nandini prayed to Adhishakthi. Seeing her deep meditation and her change of heart towards humans Adishakti appears in front of Nandini and tells her - "Dear daughter do not worry, I cannot reverse the curse of sage Jabali, but I can show you the way to return to heaven. You have to go down to earth and flow as a river I will take birth as your daughter and purify you".

On listening to this, Nandini jumped to earth as a river and started flowing from westren ghats. We will know more about Arunasura in another story :)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Ganesha and Kubera

Have you heard of Kubera? In Hindu Mythology Kubera is he King of wealth. Once upon a time he was also very proud of his wealth, he used to throw lavish feasts and invite all the gods to come to his house and see his palace and the its grandeur.

Kubera's house is in Himalayas. Now you know who his neighbours were. Yes, it was Lord Shiva and his family living on Kailash Parvat. All the devas would attend Kubera's feast except his neighbours. Every time Kubera sent out an invite, Lord Shiva politely used to decline it. Kubera had seen the simple living of Shiva's family and wanted to show off his wealth to Lord Shiva.

One fine day he comes up with a plan to invite Lord Shiva and decides to throws a feast in honour of Lord Shiva and personally goes to invite him to his house. When he comes to Kailash Parvat, he sees the simple surroundings and smirks with pride, and thinks "O look how Lord Shiva and his family are living, I have a lavish palace and here Lord Shiva is living in open land".

He sees Lord Shiva and Parvathi sitting and talking, he bows to them and invites them to his party and tells Shiva, "Hey Lord, I am throwing this party in your honour, so you need to come and grace my home". Lord Shiva and Parvati look at each other and realise why Kubera is personally inviting them, they realised that Kubera wants to invite them to show off his wealth.

Lord Shiva then tells Kubera he cannot come as he is very busy and asks him to invite Parvathti. When Kubera invites Parvathi, she politely declines the invite saying "Kubera, I am busy plucking flowers for Puja this evening, so I will not be able to come".

In desperation Kubera begs them to change their mind as the feast is in their honour. Shiva thinks for a minute and tells Kubera, "Kubera, I will do one thing, let my son Ganesha come home, I will send him to your feast as he loves eating at feasts". Kubera got very excited without realising he has walked into a trap!

He runs back home and asks his servants to make more exotic food, get loads of sweets, stack full of fruits. In the evening, just before the feast begins he sees Ganesha running towards his house at full speed. Kubera rushed to meet him at the gate, invited him to come with him to see the pond in front of the house with a beautiful fountain and started expounding the beauty of the stones used in making the fountain..

Ganesha stops him and says, "Lord Kubera, pardon me.. I finished playing with my friends and went home, my mom told me to come here as you are organising a feast, I am super hungry, feed me first and I will come with you to see your fountains, stones and other things".

Kubera was a little disappointed, then he thought "Aha, let me look at this as a opportunity, I will impress this boy with the lavishness of the food". He immediately clapped his hands and called his servants and told them "Lord Ganesha is having food with us, serve immediately".

Ganesha sat down to eat food. The servants brought a huge plate filled with various delicacies, Ganesha extended his truck and sucked all the food one after the other and ate it off in flat 1 min and asked Kubera for more food. The servants ran and brought another plate, Ganesha ate in 50 seconds flat!! and asked Kubera for more food, the servants ran and got more, Ganesha ate it before Kubera could even blink. This continued till all the food that was cooked was eaten.

Ganesha bellowed, "I am still hungry get me more!!".. Kubera was a little scared, he told his servants to get everything from the kitchen. The servants dumped every thing they found in the kitchen infront of Ganesha. Ganesha ate everything and said "Kubera you promised my mother you will feed me.. I am still hungry. Feed me Feed me". If you do not, then I will eat you.".

Kubera got scared and started running, with Ganesha chasing him at top speed screaming "I am hungry". He ran straight to Kailash and fell on Shiva's feet and asked to be saved. He cried "God! save me from Ganesha.. Please.. ". Shiva smiled and asked Kubera "Oh! Kubera what happened, couldn't you feed this small child? ". Kubera realised his mistake and tells Shiva "Oh! Lord. I am soo sorry. I have learnt my lesson, I will never be proud of my wealth...Please...' Kubera looked back to see if Ganesha was still behind him...'Please save me from Ganesha!'.

Shiva smiles and calls Parvathi and asks her to feed Ganesha. Parvathi plucks a fruit from a tree and gives it to Ganesha. Ganesha eats the food and lets out a big belch! and tells "Thank you, I am happy now" and runs to play with his friends.

Kubera sees this and ask Parvathi, "Ma Parvathi, I gave him a lunch fit for hundreds of people and he is still hungry! And you gave him a small fruit and he was satisfied, How is this possible?'

Parvathi smiles and tells, "Kubera, that is how he is, You gave Ganesha a feast with pride, to show-off your money, which will never satisfy him. If you give Ganesha anything with a clean mind and pure heart, whatever you give him will satisfy him".

Kubera let go of his pride and became a big devotee for Lord Ganesha.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Ganesha and the Moon

One day Lord Ganesha was returning home after enjoying a fabulous meal fed to him at Lord Kubera's house. Kubera the lord of wealth was a big devotee of Lord Ganesha had prepared all of Ganesha's favorite foods including varieties of Modak, laddus, chakkuli, kadubu and much much more. 

Ganesha's stomach was soo full that he was fiinding it difficult to even walk. So he calls his vehicle "the mouse" to carry him back home. When the king mouse sees how big Ganesha's stomach has become he starts thinking "oh! lord, my master has done it again.. it is such a long distance back to home, how will I carry him on my back". 

Ganesha sat on the mouse and the mouse started dragging himself back home. On the way when they were passing through a forest, Gaensha's stomach burst open and the laddus and modakas started falling out and Ganesha fell off the mouse on to the ground. Ganesha quickly saw around to see whether anyone saw his fall . Suddenly he hears a loud laughter.. The very embarrassed Ganesha suddenly realises that the Moon in the sky has seen him and is laughing at his plight.

The Lord searched around to for something to tie around his stomach before getting up from the ground. He saw a snake crawling by and uses it as a belt to tie his stomach. This is why even today we see the snake around Lord Ganesha's stomach. Holding it in.

The angry lord, looks up at the moon and curses him to oblivion. The Moon is now scared and comes down to earth and falls on Lord Ganesha's feet and begs for forgiveness and tells him he will undergo the waxing and waning cycle once in 15 days to repent for his foolishness. Lord Ganesha forgives the Moon and tells him "O Moon, you laughed at my discomfort so whoever sees you today will have to face accusations and blame".

So once the bright and shiny moon becomes dark and lustreless and seen only twice in its full form every month. and this day, the 4th day in the month of Badrupada Shukla paksha is celebrated as "Ganesha Chaturthi".

Note: There are different versions of this story and I am telling you the one that I have heard. Enjoy :)