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Goddess Jagadhatri: A Form of Goddess Durga

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:56 AM 0 comments
 Goddess Jagadhatri is another manifestation of Goddess Durga (Shakti). In ancient Hindu Texts, Tantras and Puranas, this form of the goddess Durga is depicted as a symbol of Shakti (Power). She is depicted having three eyes and four arms holding conch, discus, bow and arrow respectively. She is depicted with red clothes and bright jewels. She is represented with garland of snake around her neck and body. Riding on a lion over the dead body of Karindrasura, the Elephant Demon, she also symbolizes the victory of divine powers upon the demonic powers.

Goddess Jagaddhatri or Jagadhatri is the protector of the world, who is also known as Karindrasuranisudini (the slayer of the elephant demon), Maheshwari (the Great Goddess), Shaktacharpriya (the Goddess who loves to be worshipped as according to the practices of the Shakta sect of Hinduism or Shaktism) and Adharabhuta (the Bearer of the World) etc. She is the savior of the universe who protected the world from the cruel demons.

Goddess Durga is one of the most religiously worshipped deities in West Bengal and many festivals are celebrated in the state in praise of her only. Jagaddhatri or Jagadhatri puja is one of the great festivals celebrated in West Bengal by the devotees of goddess Durga with great enthusiasm and zest. It is essentially the worship of Shakti and a major Hindu festival in Kolkata, after Durga Puja and Kali Puja. According to the Hindi calendar, Jagadhatri Puja is celebrated on Karthik Shukla Navami, the ninth day during Karthik month, in West Bengal. This festival signifies the ending of evil or darkness and arrival of light or happiness. Though, Goddess Jagadhatri is worshipped all over West Bengal, the celebrations in Chandannagar, Hoogly and Krishnanagar are very special in terms of their grandeur and popularity.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Goddess Annapurna: The Goddess of Food and Nourishment

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:03 AM 0 comments
Goddess Annapurna is the Hindu Goddess of food and nourishment. In Sanskrit 'Anna' means food and 'purna' means complete and perfect; together the term Annapurna signifies nourishing with food to the fullest. She is a form of goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. She is considered as the sustainer of prosperity. She is believed to be the one who fills the stomachs of the hungry with her noble powers. In Hindu beliefs, she is the one endowed with the powers to supply food in a limitless quantity. It is believed that by worshipping her, one will never be out of food anytime in life.

Goddess Annapurna is the Supreme Goddess and Queen of Kashi (Varanasi). She is the Goddess for the fourth day of Durga Navratri. She is depicted with a jeweled pot containing food in one hand and a ladle in the other to distribute the food to her devotees. In some depictions, she is depicted in sitting posture and Lord Shiva is usually depicted as begging for food to her with his skull begging bowl. She symbolizes the divine aspect of nourishing care. The images of goddess Annapurna are also placed in kitchens, restaurants and near dinner tables, where the food is prepared and served only after getting the blessings of the goddess Annapurna.

In Hindu households if people waste food, it is said that they in turn make goddess Annapurna angry. Therefore grains of food are not wasted after taking food. Goddess Annapurna is also referred to as the goddess of fertility and agriculture, who is also reasonably popular in South India with separate shrines dedicated to her. The most renowned temple dedicated to goddess Annapurna is in Kashi (India). She is regarded as the queen of Kashi alongside her husband Vishweshwara (Lord Shiva), the King of Kashi. The idol of goddess Annapurna is always depicted with a bowl which is always filled with food grain, representing the abundant of food she has to offer to the devotees.

The Annapurna Sahashtranam presents her one thousand names and the Annapurna Shatnama Stotram contains 108 of her names. She is worshipped through the recitation of her thousand names and her one hundred and eight names. The Sri Annapurna Ashtakam composed by Shankaracharya is chanted by several devout Hindus as a prayer for nourishment, wisdom and renunciation. She is variously described as the goddess:

1. who is full, complete and perfect with food and grains
2. who nourishes world
3. who is the grantor of knowledge
4. who is the Supreme welfare
5. who manifests truth and efficiency
The origin of Goddess Annapurna

Once, Lord Brahma and Vishnu being became worried about the extinction of food from earth resulting in perishing of many human beings. They decided to awaken Lord Shiva from his ritual sleep, who invited the goddess Annapurna to earth and begged for food from her. Lord Shiva distributed the food received from the goddess Annapurna and since then promised her that she should continue to nourish the people of earth and in turn he would give salvation (moksha) to the people of Kashi where the goddess resides.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India

Lord vishnu incarnation

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:22 AM 0 comments
1. Adi Purush Incarnation: Lord Vishnu took his first incarnation as the pre-eminent man, with a desire to commence creation. This incarnation of was full of all the sixteen supernatural powers (Kalas). This incarnation of Lord Vishnu is all-powerful, which can be seen only by the great sages who have attained divine knowledge. This incarnation is also the indestructible seed from which all the other incarnations manifest themselves. During the time of final annihilation of the world, every creation merges into him.

2) Sanatkumaras Incarnation: Lord Brahma had four sons Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatana. They were Manasputras (mind-born-sons) or spiritual sons of Brahma according to Puranic texts of Hinduism. Sanatkumara in Sanskrit means "eternal youth". Born from Brahma's mind, the four sons are described as great sages who undertook lifelong vows of celibacy against the wishes of their father. They engaged themselves in long penance. They are the source of inspiration regarding the values and importance of chastity and penance. They played an important role in a number of Hindu spiritual traditions, especially those associated with the worship of lord Vishnu.

3. Nara Narayana: Lord Vishnu took his fifth incarnation as sage Nara-Narayana by taking a birth from the womb of a woman named 'Kala'. Nara-Narayana is a Hindu deity. Nara-Narayana is the twin incarnation of Lord Vishnu on earth, working for the preservation of righteousness. The human soul Nara is the eternal companion of the Divine Narayana. Nara Narayana performed a tremendous penance by going to Badri and Kedar. Narayana is an important Sanskrit name for lord Vishnu. 

Lord Krishna and Arjuna are often referred to as Nara-Narayana in the Mahabharata and are considered incarnations of Narayana and Nara respectively. The legend of Nara-Narayana is also told in the scripture Bhagavata Purana. Hindus believe that the pair dwells at Badrinath, where their most important temple stands. 

4. Kapila Incarnation: Lord Vishnu's sixth incarnation was as sage Kapila, who was born to the sage Kardama and Devahuti. The objective of this incarnation was to compile all the divine knowledge that had been destroyed. Sage Kapila incarnation was taken by Lord Narayana (Vishnu) to teach the scientific Sankhya Yogam to the mankind. Lord Kapila’s first disciple was his mother Devahuti. The entire process was aimed at liberation of the individual from their karma and to attain salvation (nirvana). We celebrate him as the Father of Sankhya Yogam. Sage Kapila instructed his mother, Devahuti in the philosophy of yoga and devotional worship of Lord Vishnu, enabling her to achieve liberation. 

In the Mahabharata, lord Krishna says, he is sage Kapila among the greatest sages. Sage Kapila burnt sixty thousand sons of king Sagara to ashes. These sixty thousand men were searching for Ashwamedha horse and finally came to sage Kapila’s hermit. They started insulting the sage thinking he was the one who has stolen the horse. This enraged the sage and he turned all of them to ash. Much later, sage Bhagiratha, their descendant did extreme penance and brought river Ganga to the earth and washed away their sins.

5. Narada Incarnation: Sage Narada is a celestial musician and great devotee of Lord Vishnu. He is a manasaputra of Lord Brahma, referring to his birth 'from the mind of Lord Brahma. He is a divine sage, who played a major role in a number of the Puranic texts, especially in the Bhagavata Purana. 

 Sage Narada is portrayed as a traveling monk with the ability to visit distant worlds or planets. He holds a musical instrument known as a lute, which he uses to sing hymns and prayers as an act of devotion to Lord Vishnu. He is also known as Kalahapriya, as he playfully causes quarrels between gods and demons and a wandering seer who always moves with his lute chanting Narayana-Narayana. Sage Valmiki, the first poet of the world, wrote the Ramayana on the advice of Narada. A robber by profession, he became a poet after he started chanting the name of Rama. Sage Narada is a renowned teacher, inspirer of poets, counselor of kings and a divine messenger. The word 'Nara' means knowledge useful to mankind and 'Da' means 'a giver'. So 'Narada' means the one who gives knowledge to mankind and imparts right guidance.

6.Rishabh Incarnation: Lord Vishnu in his ninth incarnation as Rishabhdev was born to king Nabhi and Marudevi. He was born at Ayodhya in the Ikshvaku clan. He was the first of the 24 Tirthankaras. In Jainism, he is known from many names as such Adinatha, Rishabhanath, Rushabh, Rushabhdev, Adishwar or Kesariyaji. He lived before civilization developed. Because of this, he had the name of Adinath - the original lord. 

Lord Rishabh’s mother Marudevi was the daughter of Indra, the leader of the gods. Lord Rishabh was given the title of 'Jin'. His followers are known as Jains. Following the example of lord Rishabhdev many of his subordinate rulers as well as common people got inspired to embrace the ascetic way of life. It is mentioned in scriptures that with Rishabhdev four thousand others also took Diksha.

7.Prithu Incarnation: Lord Vishnu took this incarnation as per the wishes of the sages. The earth had concealed all the vegetation's within her and as a result the whole land had become barren. To protect the humanity, Lord Vishnu took incarnation as Prithu by milking the cow (earth). Prithu, like Rudra, is an ideal king, but with a violent side. Prithu's actions of chasing the earth-cow as a hunter and finally milking her, display the terrifying side of the king. Both, Prithu and Rudra are closely associated with sacrifice. He is said to have milked the earth and made her bear all vegetation, including vegetables and the grains. Prithu is also known as Pruthu, Prithi and Prithu Vainya (the son of Vena). He is primarily associated with the legend of chasing the earth goddess, Prithvi, who fled in the form of a cow and eventually agreed to yield her milk as the world's grain and vegetation.

The birth of Prithu is without female intervention. King Vena, from the lineage of the pious Dhruva, was an evil king, who neglected Vedic rituals. Thus the sages killed him, leaving the kingdom without an heir. So, the sages churned Vena's body, out of which first appeared a dark dwarf hunter, a symbol of Vena's evil. Since the sins of Vena had gone away as the dwarf, the body was now pure. On further churning, Prithu emerged from right arm of the corpse. To end the famine by slaying the earth and getting her fruits, Prithu chased the earth (Prithvi) who fled as a cow. According to the Manu Smriti, Prithvi is considered the wife of Prithu, not his daughter and thus suggests the name "Prithvi" is named after her husband, Prithu. After governing his kingdom for a long time, Prithu left with his wife Archi, to perform penance in the forest in his last days. He died in the forest, and Archi went Sati on his funeral pyre. 

Yagya Incarnation: Lord Vishnu in his eighth incarnation as Yagya (Yagna) was born to Prajapati and Akuti. In Hinduism, 'Yagya' is a ritual of sacrifice more commonly practiced during Vedic times. It is performed to please the gods. It involves pouring oblations into the divine fire (the sacrificial fire). Everything that is offered in the divine fire is believed to reach the gods. In the ancient times, the Kings and Brahmins to please gods and to avoid the natural calamities like flood, draught and earthquake performed Maha Yagyas (the great sacrifices).

According to the Bhagavata Purana, Yagya or Yagneshwara (Lord of yagya) is an incarnation of lord Vishnu. As Yagya, Vishnu is the embodiment of the Hindu fire sacrifice ritual or yagya. Performing yagya (sacrifices) is considered equivalent to please lord Vishnu. The Vishnu Sahastranama (Thousand names of Vishnu) also narrates Yagya as a name of lord Vishnu. Yagya is the son of Prajapati and Akuti, the daughter of Svayambhuva Manu, the first Manu (progenitor of mankind). Vishnu Purana tells that Yagya had a twin sister named Dakshina (donation). Later, Yagya married Dakshina and had twelve sons. The Bhagavata Purana identifies Yagya with lord Vishnu and Dakshina with goddess Lakshmi. After Yagya's birth, he lived at the house of his grandfather Svayambhuva Manu. 

8.Hayagriva Incarnation: Hayagriva is a horse-headed incarnation of lord Vishnu that appears in the Hinduism and Buddhism. He is depicted with a human body, white horse's head, wearing white garments and sitting on a white lotus. The main purpose of this incarnation of Lord Vishnu was to restore the Vedas, which were stolen by Madhu and Kaitaba. In this incarnation, lord Vishnu is worshipped in a human body with a horse head. Hayagriva is a very important deity in the Vaishnava tradition. His blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular subjects. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon in August (Shravana-Paurnami). The story of Haygriva incarnation represents the triumph of pure knowledge over the demonic forces of passion and darkness.

Hayagriva is one of the lesser known incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Hayagriva is considered to be the guardian of the Vedas. Hayagriva incarnation is mainly mentioned in the Shantiparva of the Mahabharat and the Puranas. This was lord Vishnu’s sixteenth incarnation.

The Legend of Haygriva Incarantion
In Hinduism, Hayagriva is also considered an incarnation of lord Vishnu. During the creation, the demons Madhu and Kaitaba stole the Vedas from Lord Brahma and lord Vishnu then took the Hayagriva form to restore the Vedas. 

According to another legend, Kashyapa Prajapati had a son named Hayagriva which means ‘one with a horse’s head.’ Through intense austerities, Hayagriva obtained a boon from the goddess Durga that he could only be killed by another Hayagriva. Armed with a sense of invulnerability he became obnoxious and began to expand his terror. He defeated the gods. The gods approached to lord Vishnu for help, but even he could not defeat Hayagriva due his boon. 

Lord Vishnu left the battlefield to take rest. He went to Vaikunta and started meditating using bow for his head support. The gods were worried at lord Vishnu leaving the battlefield and entering into a long meditation. They looked out for ways to wake him up and finally sort the help of termites to eat away the bow. While the termites were eating the bow, the string snapped and Vishnu’s head was cut off. Then the gods were mortified and prayed to the goddess Durga for guidance. Goddess Durga advised the gods to attach a head of a horse on Vishnu. Lord Brahma did the auspicious deed and thus Lord Vishnu became Hayagriva. He went to the battlefield and fought with the demon Hayagriva and killed him.

Hayagriva is a unique incarnation of lord Vishnu. In this incarnation, lord Vishnu is depicted with four hands, with one in the mode of bestowing knowledge; another holds books of wisdom and the other two hold the Conch and Discus. 

9.Sage Ved Vyas Incarnation: Sage Veda Vyas is perhaps the most revered of all the sages in India and is an incarnation of lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu took his nineteenth incarnation as sage Ved Vyas by taking birth from the womb of Satyavati. His father was sage Parashar. Ved Vyas is the profound author of one of the greatest epics Mahabharata. He also appeared as an important character in the Mahabharata. He was the grandfather of the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He was born on an island in the river Yamuna. He is responsible for classifying the four Vedas and wrote the 18 Puranas. In fact, the Mahabharata is often called as the fifth Veda. He was the guiding light to many in their times of need for over seven generations. Every year the Guru Purnima festival also known as Vyas Purnima is celebrated in honor of Ved Vyas. 

According to the Hindu scriptures, it is said that Ved Vyas is immortal and he never died. The life of Ved Vyas is an example to all in the modern times on how to be selfless and devote oneself entirely to the Lord in order to attain salvation (Nirvana). Ved Vyas received knowledge from the great sages like Vasudeva and Sanakadik. He described that the most important goal in one's life is to attain salvation. He taught the Vedas to his pupils with ardent devotion and dedication. Apart from the Mahabharata, he also wrote the Brahmasootra, one of his shortest theologies on Hindu philosophy.

Sage Ved Vyas is considered the supreme teacher. He fathered four well-known sons Pandu, Dhritarashtra, Vidura and Sukhdeva. Accordings to the Hindu mythology, Ved Vyasa grew into manhood shortly after his birth and was well versed in the Vedas, Shastras, Puranas, poetry, history and other branches of learning. Without sage Ved Vyas, there would be no Kauravas, no Padavas and no Mahabharata. It was Vyas himself who gave the story of Mahabharata to mankind. It is said that it was Lord Brahma who motivated him to write the story of the Mahabharata with the help of Lord Ganesha.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Lord Venkateshwara: An Incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:06 PM 0 comments
Lord Venkateshwara or Balaji is the all-pervading Lord of the Universe and is considered to be an incarnation of the Hindu Lord Vishnu. Venkateshwara means the Lord who destroys the sins of the people. According to the Hindu scriptures, lord Vishnu out of love towards his devotees, incarnated as Venkateshwara and appeared for the salvation and upliftment of humanity in this Kali Yuga and is considered the supreme form of lord Vishnu in this age.

The ancient and sacred temple of lord Venkateshwara is located on the seventh peak, Venkatachala (Venkata Hill) of the Tirupati Hill, and lies on the southern banks of Shri Swami Pushkarini. Venkateshwara (Lord of the Venkata Hill) is also called the Lord of the Seven Hills. A large number of devotees approximately 30,000 visit the sacred temple of Lord Venkateshwara to pay their homage to the Lord. The temple of lord Venkateshwara has acquired unique sanctity in Indian religions. According to the Shastras and the Puranas, in the present age, one can attain salvation (mukti) only by worshipping lord Venkateshwara.

The temple town of Tirupati is situated at the foot of Tirumala hills in the Chandragiri Taluka of the Chittor district in Andhra Pradesh. The sacred spot on the hill about 2,800 feet above sea level is known as Tirumala, the abode of Lord Venkateshwara.

The Legend of Lord Venkateshwara

According to the Puranas, the legend of Venkateshwara's incarnation is as follows. Once upon a time, some sages under the guidance of sage Kasyapa began to perform a sacrifice on the bank of the river Ganga. Sage Narada visited them and asked them why they were performing the sacrifice and who would be pleased by it. The sages did not answer and they approached sage Bhrigu for the answer. To search the answer of the question, sage Bhrigu first went to the abode of Lord Brahma there he found, Lord Brahma, reciting the four Vedas in praise of Lord Vishnu. Lord Brahma did not take notice of Bhrigu. Concluding that Lord Brahma was unfit for worship, Bhrigu went to the abode of Lord Shiva, there he found Lord Shiva with goddess Parvati, not noticing his presence. Therefore, he went to the Vaikunta, the abode of lord Vishnu, there he found that lord Vishnu was sleeping on the Sheshnaga with goddess Lakshmi in service at his feet. In the Vaikunta also, he did not get respect and he kicked the Lord on his chest, the place where goddess Lakshmi resides. Lord Vishnu, in an attempt to pacify the sage, got hold of legs of the sage and started to press them gently in a way that was comforting to the sage. The sage then realized his mistake and apologized to lord Vishnu. Thereupon, the sage concluded that Lord Vishnu is the most supreme of the Trimurti (Trinity) and told the sages the same. Goddess Lakshmi became angry by the action of the lord, so she left the Vaikunta and came down to the earth. After the departure of Lakshmi, a forlorn Lord Vishnu also left Vaikunta and took abode in an ant-hill under a tamarind tree, beside a pushkarini on the Venkata Hill, meditating for the return of Lakshmi, without food or sleep.

Taking pity on Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma and Shiva decided to assume the forms of a cow and its calf to serve him. Surya (the Sun god) informed and requested Lakshmi to assume the form of a cowherd girl and sell both, the cow and calf, to the king of the Chola country. The king of the Chola country bought the cow and its calf and sent them to graze on the Venkata Hill along with his herd of cattle. Discovering Lord Vishnu on the ant-hill, the cow gave its milk; thus the cow fed the Lord Vishnu. Therefore, the cow did not give milk, so the Chola Queen punished the cowherd severely. In order to find out the cause of lack of milk, the cowherd followed the cow, hid himself behind a bush and discovered that the cow emptying her udder over the ant-hill. Due to this conduct of the cow, the cowherd aimed a blow with his axe on the head of the cow. Lord Vishnu rose from the ant-hill to receive the blow and thus the cow was saved. When the cowherd saw the Lord bleed at the blow of his axe, he fell down and died of shock.

The cow returned to the Chola King, with blood stains all over her body. In order to find out the cause of the cow's terror, the King followed her and found the cowherd lying dead on the ground near the ant-hill. Lord Vishnu rose from the ant-hill and cursed the King saying that he would become a demon (asura) due to the fault of his servant. The King prayed Lord Vishnu, so the Lord blessed him and said that he will be reborn as Akasa Raja and that the curse would end when the Lord will be adorned with a crown presented by Akasa Raja at the time of his marriage with Padmavati. With these words Lord turned into stone form. Thereafter, Lord Vishnu in the name of Srinivasa, decided to stay in Varaha Kshetra and requested Varahaswami to grant him a site for his residence. His request was granted. Lord Vishnu built a hermitage (ashram) and lived there, where he was looked after by Vakuladevi like a mother. 

Sometime later, the King Akasa Raja was ruling over Thondamandalam. The king had no heirs, and therefore, he wanted to perform a sacrifice. So, when he was cultivating his field his plough turned up a lotus in the ground. On examining the lotus, the King found a girl in it. The king became happy and handed over the girl to his wife. The king named her Padmavati, because she was found in a lotus. She grew up as a princess into a beautiful maiden and was attended by a host of maids.

One day, Lord Srinivasa was chasing a wild elephant in the forests. Chasing the elephant, the Lord came into a garden, where Princess Padmavati with her maids was picking flowers. Padmavati and her maids frightened seeing the elephant. Lord Srinivasa saw the frightened maidens. Lord informed Vakuladevi that he wanted to marry the princess Padmavati in any condition. Lord Srinivasa then told the story of Padmavati’s previous birth and his promise to marry her. After listening the story, Vakuladevi realized that Srinivasa would not be happy unless he married her. Therefore, she went to the king Akasa Raja for the marriage. She learnt from Padmavati’s maids that Padmavati was also pining for Srinivasa. Vakuladevi went along with the maid servants to the Queen. Meanwhile, Akasa Raja and his Queen Dharanidevi learnt about Padmavathi's love for Srinivasa of Venkata Hill. Akasa Raja consulted Brihaspati about the marriage and was informed that the marriage was good for both the parties. Kubera, the god of wealth, lent money to Lord Srinivasa to meet the expenses of the marriage. Thus Lord Srinivasa, married Princess Padmavati and blessed Akasa Raja. 

Everyday at Tirupati temple, a kalyana utsavam celebrates the divine union in a celebration that stretches to eternity. The benefits acquired by a pilgrimage to Venkatachala are mentioned in the Rig Veda and Puranas. In these epics, lord Venkateshwara is described as the great bestower of boons. The temple has its origins in Vaishnavism, an ancient sect which advocates the principles of equality and love and prohibits animal sacrifice.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Goddess Shashti: The Protector of the Children

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 9:43 PM 0 comments
Shashti is a feline goddess, who is depicted riding a cat. Like goddess Manasa, she is of Bengali origin and little worshipped in other parts of India. Goddess Shashti is said to be the goddess of fertility, the one who blesses people with children. Black cats are believed to be goddess Shasti’s vehicle (vahana). Goddess Shashti holds a child and is generally depicted in yellow color. It is believed that goddess Shashti protects the new born from the evil powers, diseases etc.

In the Brahma Vaivarta Purana, Goddess Shashthi has been depicted as the sixth aspect of the Parama Prakriti (universal female energy). She is the goddess of fertility and the protector of children. In eastern India (particularly Bengal), Shashti is a folk-goddess and protector of children. Her worship is held on the sixth (shashti) day following a child's birth. She is considered an aspect of goddess Durga and is also called Skandamata and is worshipped by women desiring offspring. Women observe a partial fast on the day and perform pujas in a forest or under Kadamba tree. Goddess Shashti is worshipped on the day and offerings are made on a traditional hand-fan. Women only eat fruits on the day. A cat along with goddess Shashti is worshipped on the day.

Legend of worship of goddess Shashti along with a cat
Once upon a time there lived a prosperous farmer, who had seven sons. They all married to nice and beautiful girls. But the wife of the youngest son was very greedy. She used to steal food and other delicious sweets and blamed it on a cat. To take revenge, the cat stole all the children that the women gave birth and placed them in a temple dedicated to goddess Shashti. Finally, she prayed to the goddess and she was advised to make an image of cat and worship along with the Goddess Shashti for getting back her babies.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Rati: The Goddess of Love and Passion

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:48 AM 0 comments
Goddess Rati is the Hindu goddess of love, carnal desire, lust, passion and sexual pleasure. She is the daughter of Prajapati Daksha and consort of Kamadeva (the god of love). A constant companion of Kamadeva, she is often depicted with him in legend and temple sculpture. She also enjoys worship along with Kamadva. Rati is often associated with the arousal and delight of sexual activity, and many sex techniques and positions derive their Sanskrit names from hers. The Hindu mythology describes her beauty and sensuality. She is depicted as a maiden who has the power to enchant the god of love. The name Rati in Sanskrit means ‘the pleasure of love, sexual passion or union and amorous enjoyment’, all of which Rati personifies.

Rebirth of Rati as Mayavati

The demon Tarakasura created havoc in the universe. He obtained a boon that he would be killed by only Shiva’s son, but lord Shiva had gone to meditate after the death of his first wife Sati. Kamadeva was instructed by the gods to make lord Shiva fall in love again. Kamadeva went to Mount Kailash with his consort Rati and Vasanta (spring), and shot his love-arrows at lord Shiva and invoked desire. Wounded by Kamadeva's arrows, lord Shiva becomes attracted to Parvati, the reincarnation of Sati, but he (lord Shiva) opened his third eye, the gaze of which was so powerful that Kamadeva's body was reduced to ashes. For the sake of Kamadeva's wife Rati, Shiva restored him, but only as a mental image, representing the true emotional and mental state of love rather than physical lust. 

The grief-stricken Rati did severe penance and lord Shiva assured her that Kamadeva would be reborn as Pradyumna, as the son of lord Krishna and Rukmini on earth. On advice of lord Shiva, Rati assumed the form of demon Sambrasura's kitchen-maid Mayavati and awaited her husband's arrival in Sambrasura's house. Sambrasura is foretold that he was killed by Pradyumna. Sambrasura found out that Kamadeva was born as Pradyumna, the son of Krishna and his wife Rukmini. He stole the child and threw him in the ocean, where the child was swallowed by a fish. This fish was caught by fishermen and sent to Sambrasura's kitchen. When the fish was cut, the child is found by Mayavati, who decided to nurture him. The sage Narada revealed to Mayavati that she was Rati and the child was Kamadeva and she was to nurture him. As the child grew up, the motherly love of Mayavati changed to the passionate love of a wife. Mayavati told him the secret of their previous births as narrated by sage Narada and that he was not her son, but that of lord Krishna and Rukmini. Mayavati trained Pradyumna in magic and war and advised him to kill Sambrasura. Pradyumna killed him. He returned to Dwaraka with Mayavati as his wife. 

Goddess Rati stands for sexual pleasure, carnal desire and sexuality. Goddess Rati represents only the pleasure aspect of sexual activity and does not relate to child-birth or motherhood. Rati is not only Kamadeva’s consort, but she is also his assistant and constant companion, who arouses sexual feelings. Kamadeva is usually depicted with Rati along his side. Rati also enjoys worship with Kamadeva in some festival rites dedicated to him. all paintings are of courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Goddess Shitala: The Goddess of Small Pox and Measles

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 1:07 AM 0 comments

Goddess Shitala literally means the ‘Cool Goddess’, is a Hindu goddess. She is the goddess who is invoked for protection against the evil she causes. She is the goddess of small pox, who roams the country side, riding an ass and searches for victims. She is widely worshipped in North India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan as the pox-goddess. In Hinduism, goddess Shitala is considered an aspect of goddess Durga or Shakti. Popularly she is the Hindu goddess of small pox in North India and is known to spread the dreaded disease and cure it. The occurrence of the disease is believed to be a manifestation of the goddess Shitala. According to the Hindu devotees, the disease is medium by which the goddess enters one’s body and becomes one with the devotee. She is undoubtedly one of the most popular rural deities.

Goddess Shitala is depicted wearing red robes dress and rides around the villages in North India on a donkey (ass) and inflicting people with the dreaded pox like small pox, chicken pox etc. Symbolically, she represents Nature’s power of generating viruses causing disease and nature’s healing powers. She is depicted having four hands. In her four hands she carries a silver broom, winnow fan, small bowl and a pitcher with Gangajal (the holy water from River Ganga). Occasionally, she is depicted with two hands carrying a broom and pitcher.

Shitala Satam popularly known as Shitala Shasti, is observed on the seventh day of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in Shravan month in Gujarat. Shitala Satam is dedicated to Goddess Shitala, the goddess of pox and measles. It is observed for the welfare of children and others to escape from measles and small pox. The most important festival dedicated to her takes place in Chaitra month, the Ashtami day after Purnima (full moon) in the month is observed as Shitala Ashtami. Goddess Shitala is worshipped as the Goddess of Chicken-Pox and Chicken Pox. On the day of Shitala Saptami, devotees worship her with devotion and they let their children to worship the Goddess. There are famous temples dedicated to Shitala Devi in Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The Puranas describe that goddess Shitala was created by Lord Brahma. She was promised by Lord Brahma that she will be worshipped as a Goddess on earth. She asked for a companion, then lord Shiva created Jvara Asura (the fever demon) from his sweat as her companion. Goddess Shitala and Jvara Asura came down to earth and started hunting for a place to stay. They went to the court of king Birat, a dedicated devotee of lord Shiva. He agreed to worship her and give a place in his kingdom but she would not get the respect given to lord Shiva. So, goddess Shitala demanded supremacy over all other gods and when king Birat did not budge. She spread different kinds of pox on the land and finally, the king had to agree to her wishes. Soon the disease and all its after effects were amazingly cured.

The smallpox disease is thought to be eradicated the worship of goddess Shitala still continues and this is seen as the reason why, in some regions, she has taken on different personalities that depict her as not only the goddess of disease but also the protector of children and giver of good fortune. She is worshipped by all classes but she tends to get the most patronage from the poor. She is especially worshipped to avoid her wrath. All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Goddess Manasa: The Goddess of Snakes

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 11:57 PM 0 comments
Goddess Manasa is a Hindu folk goddess of snakes, worshipped mainly in Bengal and other parts of northeastern India, chiefly for the prevention and cure of snakebite and also for fertility and prosperity. Goddess Manasa is said to be the daughter of sage Kashyapa and Kadru and sister of the serpent king Shesha; alternatively she is said to be the daughter of Lord Shiva and a mortal woman. She is very powerful and worshipped in different forms and with different names throughout India. She is worshipped mainly during the rainy season, when the snakes are most active. There is a belief that Manasa protects the people from snake bite. Goddess Manasa enjoys a widespread cult as a deity, mostly in Bengal, where she is invoked for protection against snake bites and bringer of wealth. She is also linked with fertility and worshipped for the revival and protection from several incurable diseases.

The Puranas described that sage Kashyapa married goddess Manasa to sage Jaratkaru, who agreed to marry her on the condition that he would leave her if she disobeyed him. Once, when Jaratkaru was awakened by Manasa, he became upset with her because she awakened him too late for worship, and so he deserted her. On the request of the great Hindu gods, Jaratkaru returned to Manasa and she gave birth to Astika.

 Legend of Goddess Manasa

Goddess Manasa was the daughter of Lord Shiva by a beautiful mortal woman. She was not liked by her step-mother, Parvati; so she took up her abode on earth with another daughter of Lord Shiva, named Neta. The daughter of Lord Shiva liked to be worshipped by human beings as other gods and goddesses and she knew that her desire would be fulfilled if she could once secure the devotion of a very prosperous and powerful merchant-prince of Champaka Nagar, by the name of Chand Saudagar. He was a widower and had six sons. She tried for long to persuade Chand to worship her, but he was a stout devotee of Lord Shiva and he would not desert his Lord for a goddess of the snakes. So, goddess Manasa destroyed Chand’s beautiful garden. Many times she destroyed his garden and every time Chand used to restore the beauty to his garden by the help of his magic power, which he received from Lord Shiva.

Then Manasa appeared to Chand in the form of a beautiful girl. He fell madly in love with her, but she would not hear a word till he promised to bestow his magic power upon her; and when he did so, she appeared in the sky in her own form and told to Chand to worship her. But Chand did not obey her instructions. Then she destroyed the garden again and his six sons were killed by snake bites with the instructions of Manasa. Chand remarried and got a son and named him Lakshmindara. Lakshmindara grew up to be a handsome boy and Chand selected a beautiful girl Behula to be married with him. The couple was engaged and wedding date was fixed. It was predicted that Lakshmidhara would die of a snake bite on his wedding night. In those years Manasa did not give up her hope and appeared again with her resolve to subdue Chand by killing Lakshmidhara. Goddess Manasa killed Lakshmidhara and at last, due to the love and devotion of Behula Lakshmidhara was brought back to life and Behula convinced her father-in-law to worship the Goddess Manasa and thus Chand agreed and promised to worship Manasa by using his left hand to perform the rites. This was accepted by Manasa and Chand worshipped Manasa with all his devotion. She was satisfied, and bestowed on him wealth and prosperity and happiness.

Goddess Manasa is depicted as a graceful woman covered with snakes, sitting on a lotus or standing upon a snake. She is sheltered by the canopy of the hoods of the seven cobras. Sometime she is also depicted with a child on her lap.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Baba Ramdevji: An Incarnation of Lord Krishna

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:43 AM 1 comments
Baba Ramdevji is a folk deity and a Tanwar-Rajput of Rajasthan in India, who is considered an incarnation of lord Krishna. He is worshipped by each community especially in Rajasthan. Muslims worship him as Ramshah Pir. He is said to have had miraculous powers, and his fame reached far and wide and was confirmed by Peers of Mecca. Baba Ramdevji is a saint of the fourteenth century who devoted his life for the upliftment of the downtrodden. He is often depicted on a horseback. His is worshipped by the Hindus and Muslims. The five Peers from Mecca came to test Baba Ramdev’s powers and after being convinced, paid their homage to him. Since then Muslims venerate him as Ram Shah Peer or Ramapeer. Several Rajasthani fairs and festivals are held to commemorate him.

In Rajasthan Meghwal's chief deity is Baba Ramdevji. Baba Ramdevji believed in the equality of all human beings, be they high or low, rich or poor. He helped the down-trodden by granting them their wishes.

Birth of lord Baba Ramdevji
The king of Pokran or Pokhran, a city and a municipality located in Jaisalmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan, had no sons. His name was Ajmal and his wife, Rani Mainade, was the daughter of the king of Jaisalmer. The king Ajmal was the devotee of lord Krishna. Once day the king was on a tour of his kingdom. On his tour, he met a few farmers who were going to sow seeds. On seeing the king, they began to return back to their homes. The king surprised and asked farmers the reason for their behavior. The farmers told the king that they believed that seeing a barren king's face while on their way to their fields may cause their crops to fail, and therefore they wanted to return to their homes. King Ajmal became very sad on hearing this. Being a devotee of lord Krishna, the king decided to go to the Lord's palace in Dwarika. 

When he reached Dwarka he started to pray Lord Krishna in front of Krishna’s idol. The idol in the temple, which obviously would not reply as it was made of a stone. He got angry and he threw a dried laddu at the head of the idol. The priest of the temple, considering the king to be mad advised him that if he really wanted to meet lord Krishna he would have to jump into the sea to meet the lord. The king dived into the sea to meet the Lord, not caring for his life that he will be drowned or even die. He saw the Golden Dwarka in the sea and also saw Lord Shree Krishna. Pleased at the king's dedication and faith, the Lord granted him a boon. He granted him his wish for a son and gave him a flower, but the king wanted a son like none other then the Lord himself in which case Krishna had no alternative but to take birth himself. Lord Krishna gave him another flower and promised that he will take birth at the appropriate time as his younger son. Lord Krishna also told him the names of his sons, older one as Viramdev and younger son as Ramdev. After ten months the queen gave birth to a son. He was named ‘Viramdev’. Then on Thursday in the year 1405A.D, Lord Krishna arrived in the form of an infant. This infant was named Ramdev. 

A large fair is held in Ramdevra attended by thousands of devotees from far and wide. It is held from Bhadon Sudi 2 (Beej) to 11 (Ekadashi) (in the months August to September). They pay their homage by singing psalms and devotional songs in praise of Baba Ramdev. Baba Ramdevji took samadhi on Bhadrapada Shukla Ekadashi at the age of 33 years. Dalibai, his dedicated follower is also buried near his grave.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

Lord Devnarayan: An Incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 3:03 AM 0 comments

Lord Devnarayan is a Gurjar medieval hero from Rajasthan, who is worshipped in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as a folk deity. He is believed as an incarnation of the Hindu lord Vishnu. According to the legend, he was incarnated in Vikram Samvat in 968 as the son of Gurjar warrior Sawai Bhoj Bagaravat and his wife Saadu Mata Gurjari. He is worshipped by all communities, though he is special deity of Gurjar community. Lord Devnarayan has a human form he is like lord Krishna, the embodiment of divinity itself. Dev Dham Jodhpuriya is a famous temple of lord Devnarayan. It is situated in Newai municipality of Tonk district, Rajasthan.

Devnarayan Katha (the story of lord Devnarayan) is a popular ballad performed in many parts of Rajasthan. Devnarayan Katha extols the life and courageous deeds of lord Devnarayan. The Katha provides a fascinating insight into the elaborate and richly complex social history of lord Devanarayan and his devotees. The narrative extolling the deeds of Lord Devnarayan is performed by itinerant singers during whole night vigils. Devnarayan Katha is sung by pairs of male singers called Bhopas. Bhopas are the traditional priest-singers of Devnarayan, who wander from place to place for the performance of Devnarayan Katha.

The oral-epic of Devnarayan consists of a number of episodes related to the life and works of lord Devnarayan. This epic is sung in the villages of Rajasthan and Malwa. Devnarayan Katha begins with an invocation of a number of deities, whose images are depicted in the phads. The deities invoked are Sharada, Ganesha, Sarasvati, Varaha, Narasimha, Vaman, Parashuram, Ram and Krishna. The first part called the Bagaravat Bharat is about the heroic deeds of the 24 Gurjar brothers, who were born as the sons of the man-lion, Bagh Simh. Devnarayan’s father Savai Bhoj was the most courageous of the 24 Bagaravats. The 24 brothers died after a preordained period of 12 years in a battle against a Rajput chieftain. The second part deals with the incarnation of lord Devnarayan, the miracles he performs and the revenge he and his cousins ultimately take on the Rajput chieftain. Whereas the first part is generally said to be marked by suffering, pain and death, the second is marked by reunion, miracles and heavenly testimony. This katha finally establishes of lord Devnarayan's cult amongst his followers.All paintings are courtesy of Art of Legend India.

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