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12    Some Interesting References and Episodes from Puranas

Avadhuta Dattatreya: Known as a Three Headed Avatar of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswara, representing the three Gunas of Sat-Rajas and Tamas, Dattatreya was a mystic Saint and an Avadhuta (‘Ava’ stands for bad materials and Dhuta stands for ‘washed away’). He carried four dogs representing four Vedas. He was an Avatara mainly to propagate Ashtanga-Yoga comprising Yama (Morality), Niyama (Discipline), Asana (Right posture), Pranayama (Control of Life Force), Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses from worldly desires), Dharana (Concentration), Dhyana (Meditation), and Samadhi (Alignment of Self with the Supreme). He was a kind of TravellingYogi always on the move. Once a Yadu King came across Dattatreya and asked him as to how did he learn so much in life and the reply was that he learnt everything from Prakriti (Nature) which bestowed full knowledge and there was no need for ‘Adhyayana’ or formal learning from one Guru but as many as twenty four Gurus viz. the Pancha Bhutas (Five Elements), Sun and Moon and Nature’s species.Prithivi taught patience and service to all; water taught the need for washing off external and internal cleanliness; Tejas / Fire provided cooking simple and healthy food, motivation to worship by homams and burning off the Arishad Vargas; Vayu taught Yoga by controlling breathing and vital energy and spreading fragrance or Virtue against bad odours of wordly attractions; and Sky taught immunity from rains, winds and storms and an instant awareness of the all-pervading, eternal and infinite Supreme Power. From Sun he learnt discipline, periodicity, self-lessness and Spiritualism and Moon taught the inevitability of waxing and waning, coolness of temper and equanimity, besides immunity from disease. From a pigeon, Avadhuta  learnt helplessness against fate and the futility of excessive attachment when its female companion was trapped in a net and when tried to save got caught itself; from a python, he learnt extreme patience and persistence till the python finally secured its prey; from Sea, he learnt the profundity and depth; a moth taught him not to rush into flames but to weigh the pros and cons; a honey bee taught him diligence to collect honey by flying from flower of flower and thus to acquire knowledge; a bee hive taught him not to store too much lest one day the bee hive keeper would take it away by force; a deer got attracted by music and got caught by a hunter; a fish got attracted by a bait; a prostitute got easy money realising too late there were thousands of other ways of living; an elephant got killed due to reckless competition with another elephant; a hawk got a piece of meat and had momentary pleasure but a bigger hawk snatched away the piece; the Avadhuta saw a child without any a care and concern and imagined that one should be like him; saw a girl husking rice at her home and on seeing a stranger removed her bracelets making lot of noise and thus avoided embarrassment; an arrows-man concentrating to hit the target fully unmindful of a King passing by; a spider weaving threads from its mouth to catch flies and after the catch, destroyed the threads reminding the Almighty’s ways of creating, preserving and destroying; and finally realising the example of a wasp which entered a larva’s (insect) hive and as the insect stayed put out of fear finally became the wasp itself thus meditation making a human being converting himself into God!’ (Source: Maha Bhagavata)

Why Draupadi was wedded to Pancha Pandavas? Bhu Devi requested Indra to lessen the burden of Evil Forces on Earth. Indra asked Surya, his son Yamadharma, and Vayu Deva to pass on his own virility to Devi Kunti thrice and once to Devi Madri. Simultaneously, a pious Sage awarded a boon to Kunti even when she was a Kanya (Virgin); out of curiosity Kunti desired to test the boon and invoked Surya. The latter appeared and blessed Kunti. She got conceived and had to suffer the situation by keeping the child in a floating box left it on a water body nearby. Sighting a child in a box, Radha a childless wife of a charioteer in the King’s Court adopted the child and since the latter was born with Kundalas on his ears was named as Karna or Radheya. After her wedding with King Pandu the latter was cursed by a mating deer couple which were hurt and had a curse that the moment he tried to meet his wives in bed, he would die. Kunti pacified King Pandu that she knew a Mantra by virtue of which she could invoke Devas and that was how Yudhishtar was born of Dharma Raja, Bhima was born of Vayu, Arjun of Indra himself, while Madri the younger wife of Pandu gave birth from Ashwini Kumars-but all the Devas carrying Indra’s own veerya. Draupadi was Indra’s wife Sachi Devi herself as she was born as Yagneshani emerged from Agni and Yana Purusha was Indra who divided his radiance among his own progeny of Karna and Pancha Pandavas. Hence there was no sin involved at all! (Source: Markandeya Purana)

Play of Maha Maya-Veda Vyasa and Narada share their experiences: Veda Vyasa narrated his experiences of Maha Maya to Narada; he described that his father Maharshi Parasahara was enticed with Devi Satyavati a fisher woman while he was travelling by her boat driven across a River and in a lonely island had his union with her who had the epithet of a Matsyagandhi. He gave her boons that her ‘Kanyatwa’ (virginity) would be intact, that a Maha Purusha of Narayanaamsha would be born of the union (none else other than himself), that her body odour would instantly change as a Yojanagandhi spreading fragrance a yojana all around, that she would be the Queen of a great King Shantanu and that she would be a key figure in the furtherance of Kuru Vamsha. Another instance that Veda Vyasa highlighted was that at his mother’s insistence he had to go to bed with his dead younger brother’s wives to beget two sons Dhritarashtra and Pandu as also a servant woman’s son Vidura. Yet another impact of Devi Maya was that he got attracted to Apsara Ghritachi in the form of a parrot (Suka) and spilt out his virya near an Agni Kunda and thus gave birth to Suka Maha Muni an epitome of Brahmacharya and unique knowledge of Vedas and Scriptures; Vyasa was so passionately fond of his son that the latter when refused to marry was sent to Videha King Janaka of high wisdom and convincing power and prevailed on the son to finally got him married!

Narada (‘Nara’ stands for knowledge and ‘da’ means giver) the Loka Sanchari (Universal Traveller) who had a penchant for interference with other’s affairs -albeit for Loka Kalyana- fell flat against Maha Maya. He obstructed Daksha Prajapati’s sons Haryasvas to enter marital life by advising them to perform Tapasya instead and gave them the Mantra Om Namo Narayanaaya. Daksha cursed Narada that the latter would soon be a Grihasta. In course of time both Narada and Maharshi Parvata fancied to visit Bhuloka and since they had to spend the rainy season agreed during the pilgrimage to accept the hospitality of King Sanjaya. The King asked his youthful daughter Damayanti to make the necessary arrangements for their pujas. Gradually, Damayanti got attracted to Narada for his erudition, especially his unparalleled knowledge of Sangeeta and his expertise in playing Veena.Narada too reciprocated her amoral approaches. Parvata did not approve, parted his company and even cursed him with a monkey face. King Sanjaya and his wife sought to hurry up and Damayanti did not mind his monkey face either, since Kinnaras also had horse-faces. After their wedding, Parvata made a visit to the Narada couple and the former withdrew his curse against Narada. In another context, Narada bragged that he was not a victim of Maha Maya to Krishna who quietly took him by his Garuda vahana for an outing, suggested that they might refresh on way to a lake near the Capital of Kannouj, asked Narada to get into the water so that Krishna too would do likewise and as Narada had a dip and popped up he forgot who he was; in fact Narada became a charming woman and Krishna left by Garuda leaving Narada as woman was attracted the King of Kannouj,  married ‘her’, begot sons and grandsons. After long lapse of time, grandmother Narada was bereaved since her sons died in a war against enemies; an elderly woman (Krishna) escorted ‘Narada’ to another lake near Kannouj meant for bathing women after the obsequies and after the bath, ‘Narada’ re-emerged from the lake as original Narada and the so-called elderly woman took the form of Krishna again! Narada realised that Maha Maya (Krishna) did have the last laugh at Narada’s costly encounter! (Source: Skanda Purana)

 Significance of Rudrakshas: Maha Deva was tired in tracking the tricky and invincible Demon Tripurasura, finally pulled out his ‘Ajagava’ dhanush and despatched the unique Vikaaraal arrow and killed him. The long chase of the Asura who was fortified with Brahma’s boons tired out Maheswara and this tedious task ended up with profuse tears from his right eye signifying Surya Netra and from the streams thus materialised emerged Rudraksha Trees yielded twenty kinds of yellow seeds, while from his left eye called Soma Netra came sixteen varieties of white coloured beads and from the third eye on the forehead called Agni Netra came black beads. Eka Mukhi Rudraksha represents Shiva himself by wearing which a person gets immunity from killing a Brahmana; the Dwi- Mukhi represents Deva and Devi which has the power of committing two of Maha Patakas; Tri Mukhi represents Agni Deva which could ward off the sin of killing a woman; Chaturmukhi represents Brahma terminating the evil of any kind; Panchamukhi is like Rudra demolishing the sins of consuming all kinds of material including poison; Shanmuki representing Shanmukha washes off even Brahma hatya; Saptamukhi stands for Manmadha wearing which removes the sin of stealing gold and other valuables; the Ashta Mukhi stands for Ganesha bestowing plenty of food grains, vastras and all-round prosperity besides the sin of illicit relationships; Lord Bhairava is represented in the Nava Mukhi meant for providing contentment and demolition of several sins; Dasha Mukhi manifesting Janardana controls the negative effects of Planets and destroys the evil effects of Piscachas, Goblins and the like; wearing Ekaadasha Mukhi is as potent as executing Ashwamedha and Vajapeya Yagnas as also charity of several cows; Dwadasha Mukhi is a manifestation of Twelve Adityas (Mitra, Ravi, Surya, Bhanu, Khaga, Pushan, Hiranyagarbha, Marichiman, Aditya, Savitr, Arka, Bhaskara) yielding the Punya of performing Gomedha and Ashwamedha Sacrifices and fearlessness from enemies, cruel animals and poisonous reptiles, snakes etc. A Trayo- dasha Mukhi is stated to be normally a rarity which represents Kartikeya and if available could ward of the worst possible sins of patricide and matricide besides bestowing Ashta Siddhis. A Chaturdasha Muhkhi is stated to be the rarest of the rare as its possession is like carrying Maha Deva Shiva Himself. Wearing Eka Mukhi, Pancha Mukhi, Ekadasha Mukhi or Chaturdasha Mukhi bestows the best of the best effects, viz. of physical, mental, psychological and spiritual nature. It is said that close contact of Rudrakshas with body parts like head, neck, heart and hands protect the wearers with medical values against depression, stress, diabetes, cancer, heart / blood related diseases. (Source: Padma Purana, Devi Bhagavata, Siva Purana, Skanda Purana etc.)

Eight-folded approach to Venkateswara: Sage Suta prescribed an Eight-folded Bhakti route to Lord Venkateswara: 1) To display and ensure Sneha Bhava (feeling of friendship) towards his Bhaktas (devotees); 2) To perform service to his Bhaktas and satisfy them; 3)  To perform puja to him with sincerity; 4) To direct all actions to him by the self; 5) To generate Bhakti and Love in the eyes, ears, tongue, touch, hands, legs and mind towards him; 6) To hear ( Shravana), see (Vision), praise / sing / recite, describe and cogitate about him; 7) To keep his ‘namaas’ on his lips, thoughts, and heart always and 8) To surrender and dedicate Him absolutely and seek unreserved refuge from Him. Those who are fortunate to have a glimpse of the fantastic Idol of Srinivasa do experience the awe and lasting memory that leaves behind a familiarity and nearness. To those who think of Srinivasa, either out of curiosity or greediness, love of materialism, fear or casual occurrence do undergo a definite transformation of outlook, approach to life and morality. If such casual approach has a multiplier effect, one could imagine the far-reaching impact of the Eight-folded dedication! As fire is capable of pulling down a huge mansion within minutes, the stockpile of sins gets ablaze into ash as fast, by taking the shelter of Srinivasa. Human life which is indeed difficult to secure compared to myriad forms of creations ranging from animals to insects or even as inanimate species, is stated to be well spent and appropriately lived through, if one takes asylum of the Supreme Power which is Avyaktam  (Unknown), Saashvatam (Everlasting), Vishnum (All-pervading), Anantam (Endless), Ajam (Unborn) and Avyayam (Indestructible) called Venkateswara! (Source: Skanda Purana).

Narada’s questionnaire to deserve Brahma’s charity of Maha Tirtha Land: Sage Narada framed a questionnaire and circulated all over Bharata Desha to elicit best replies so that Brahma would allot a large Maha Tirtha Land in charity. But the Sage was disappointed at the innumerable replies received.Finally he was advised that there was a Village called Kalaap where a small Brahmana Community lived. Narada visited the village and met the elders there who were great experts in Vedas and Shastras, Vedaangas and Puranas. As the questionnaire was provided to them, they looked amused and said that the answers were so ridiculously simple that an elementary school boy would be adequate to reply; they selected a boy named Suthanu who was considered to be rather dull. In his preface before giving the replies to the questionnaire, Suthanu read out his ‘pravara’ or introduction about his Vamsha and himself : Chatussagara Paryantam Gobrahmanebhyassubham bhavatu-his Rishis of three generations, Vamsha, Veda Sakha ie. Rig-Yajur or Saama-his name etc. and said ‘ Ahambho abhivaadaey, and prostrated  before Narada; the boy said that some times Brahmanaas recite Mantras without knowing the meaning and such Brahmanas were like two legged animals. Having said this, Sutanu composed himself before giving his replies:

The first question was about ‘Matrikas’and ‘Aksharas’; the reply was there were twenty Matrikas each constituting twenty letters in a Matrika, besides which there are fourteen Swaras, thirty three ‘Vyanjanaas’, Anuswaraas, Visargas, Jihva muleeya or to tongue ended voice. The Swaras from ‘A kar’ to ‘Auom Kar’ represent Manu Swarupas viz. Swayambhu, Swarochish, Auttam, Raivat, Tamas, Chakshu, Vaivasvata (the present Manu), Savarni, Brahma Savarni, Rudra Savarni, Daksha Savarni, Dharma Savarni, Roucha and Bhoutya; from letters Bha to Sha are eight Vasus viz.Dhruva, Ghora, Sowmya, Apa,Nala, Pratyasha and Prabhasa; from Ka to tha  are Twelve Adityas viz. Dhata, Mitra, Aryama, Shakra, Varuna, Amshu, Bhaga, Vaiwasvan, Pusha, Savita, Twashta, and Vishnu; from da to ba are Eleven Rudras viz. Kapila, Pingala, Bhima, Virupaksha, Vilohita, Ajaka, Shasana, Shasta, Shambhu, Chanda, and Bhava; letters Sa and ha represent to Ashwini Kumars, and the Anuswara, Visarga, Jihva Muliya and Upadhaneeyas stand for Jarayuja (born by Yoni), Andaja (born of egg), Swedaja (born of sweat) and Udbhuja (born from Earth).              The second question was about the twenty five materials for domestic / personal utility and the reply was Pancha bhutas of Prithvi, Apas, Tejas, Vayu, and Akash (Earth, Water, Radiance, Wind and Sky respectively; Five Karmendriyas (Mouth, Hands, Feet, Anus and ; Genital); Five Jnanendriyas (Ears, Eyes, Tongue, Nose and Skin) and the corresponding reactions viz. Shabda (Sound), Rupa (Vision), Rasa (Taste), Ghraana ( Smell), and Sparsha (Touch) and Pancha Vishayas are Manas (Mind), Buddhi (Thought), Antaraatma (Consciousness), Ahamkara (Ego), Prakriti (Nature / Maya), and Purusha (Almighty).    The third question related to the art of converting several women as one entity and the reply is Buddhi or mental condition which is comparable to the capricious womanhood; it is Buddhi that assumes myriad kinds of feelings, reactions and impulses.

The fourth question related to a person who knows the scripting of sentences connected to strange fiction and that is what a ‘Sansara Bandhan’ or the lure of life all about!                 The fifth query was about a learned Brahmana living in an ocean with the full awareness that a ferocious crocodile is around always. The reply is that the joy of living by way of Moha (obsession), Vyamoha (enticement) and Lobha is despite the awareness that death is round the corner.                                                                                                                            The sixth query was about the eight-fold Brahmanatwa and the reply is that the latter is classified as Matra, Brahmana, Shrotriya, Anuchan, Bhruna, Rishi Kalpa, Rishi and Muni. A normal Brahmana by birth has the advantage of Upanayana and Gayatri Upadesha without Vedic Karmas and is only a Matra type. If he follows Vedic Achara like practising truthfulness and Piety then becomes a Brahmana. He is qualified as a Srotriya, if he performs rituals and is proficient in atleast one Veda Sakha, besides six Vedangas. A higher class of Brahmana is an Anuchaana who could practise, teach / preach and a Bhruna has Tatwa Gyan, a Rishi Kalpa is an Ashrama dweller; Rishis are meditation centric and Munis possess Yogic powers.’                                                                                                                    The seventh and eighth queries were about the first days of each Yuga and Manvantaras and these are Kartika Shukla Navami, Vaishakha Sukla Triteeya, Marga Krishna Amavasya and Bhadra Krishna Trayodasi are in respect of Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kalki Yugas respectively; while those of Manvantaras aforementioned (vide Question one above) are Ashviyuja Shukla Navami, Kartika Dwadasi, Chaitra and Bhadra Tritiyas, Phalguna Amavasya, Puasha Ekadasi, Ashadha Dasami, Magha Saptami, Shravana Krishna Ashtami, Ashadha Purnima, Kartika Purnima, and Phalguna/Chaitra/ Jeyshtha Purnimas respectively. All these days are worthy of Homas, Charities and penances.                           The ninth query was about the first ever ride by Surya Deva had on his chariot and the reply is that it was on Ratha Saptami day on Magha Sukla Panchami when austerities and charities must be observed to secure Surya Deva’s blessings of long life of wealth and excellent health.                                                                                                                             The tenth question was about the tremendous anxiety and stress that human beings always have like a black serpent experiences. The reply is that a human being who has to crave for daily food has a similar doubt that a serpent has for daily death; both the species suffer from the daily uncertainty of food and death.                                                                      The eleventh qurery was about the most intelligent person in life and the reply was that the most practical person would be a person who prepares daily updates of the balance sheet of Papa-Punya, especially when old age sets in and the long journey is awaited.                                                                                                                                       The final question sought a suitable reply: what are the two most significant means of Salvation? The boy Sutanu replied promptly: One is the Karmic and Dharmik way and another is the Vihanga Marg or the Sky Route involving Nishkarma and Jnaana Marg; indeed are there any other routes open to human beings.

Having received the replies to the questions, Sage Narada was thrilled and recommended the Kalaapa village to receive the Daana of Mahi Sagara Sanganma Maha Tirtha, situated from Kalaapa Village some hundred yojanas by Akasha Marga away from the Kedara Mountains. As a result, some thirty thousand Brahmanas of immense quality who were versatile in ‘Vedaadhyaana’ and Anushthaana (Ritualistic Meditation) were transferred to Mahasagara by the grace of Kartikeya. (Source: Kartikeya Purana) 

Anecdotes of Kartikeya and Ganesha: There were different ‘Avatars’ (incarnations) of Kartikeya and Ganesha in various Kalpas. In ‘Sveta Varaha Kalpa’, the two anecdotes about Kartikeya and Ganesha- the Illustrious Sons of Siva and Parvati- were narrated by Lord Brahma to His Son Devarshi Narada. As both the Brothers came of marriageable age, the question arose as to who should be married first and the parents decided that whosoever could circumambulate the entire Universe first would get the choice. Kartikeya flew off by His carrier- a peacock- without even waiting for a minute, Ganesha who applied His mind and recalled what Vedas stated that a single ‘Pradakshina’of one’s parents would yield the fruit of ‘Bhu pradakshina’. Even half way through the full circle of the World, Sage Narada intercepted Kartikeya and conveyed that Ganesha’s wedding with Siddhi and Riddhi was in progress already (they were blessed with two sons Kshema and Labha eventually).    Kartikeya felt cheated by the parents and retired at Krouncha Mountain and the parents brought Him back by cajoling the dear son who felt hurt! It is on this day of Kartika Pournami, Kartikeya’s ‘darshan’ is considered as most auspicious.

The Story of Ganesha’s birth is indeed popular. When Nandi was asked to bar entry into the Interior Place of Parvati as She was taking bath, Nandi no doubt prevented but Bhagavan still entered and She was not amused. She decided to create an idol of a boy which was infused with life and empowered Him to challenge anybody with the necessary powers. The boy followed the instruction and did not allow entry even to Siva. The Pramadha ganas were asked to teach a lesson to the boy by Siva but they were defeated in no time. Siva Himself decided to force His entry but to no avail. Finally, an irritated Bhagavan snapped the boy’s head and Parvati became furious and Her angry manifestations surprised Siva Himself. She insisted that the boy be brought to life forth with. Siva suggested locating anybody sleeping in the northern direction and the Sivaganas were able to trace only an elephant. The severed head of the boy was fixed with that of the elephant and He was revived. The assembly of Deities who first fought with the boy and witnessed the entire scene earlier decided that any function in the World ought to be commenced with worship of Ganesha foremost as He is the Lord of preventing impediments and of providing success. Ganesha’s worship on Bhadrapada Sukla Chathurdhi is a must all over Bharatadesa as one is dreaded of becoming a victim of   undeserving blames since Moon God received a curse from Ganesha that whoever saw the Moon on the particular Chaturdhi night without worshipping Him would become a sure target!

 

Special implication of Ekadashi Vrata-the legend of King Rukmanga: As Ekadashi Vrata is stated to be the special day of Vishnu, observance of Upavasa (fasting), Puja and Vrata on this day is stated to be one of the pre-requisites to qualify the abolition of sins and attainment of Vaikuntha.In fact, the advantage of performing the Vrata in full faith and devotion as prescribed would ensure the fruits of executing several Assvmedha and Rajasuya Yagnas, besides avoiding Yama Darshana. It is not the bathings in Sacred Ganga, Gaya, Kashi, Pushkar, Kurukshetra, Narmada, Devika, Yamuna and Chandrabhaga that are of importance but performing the Vrata. To signify the importance of the Vrata, King Rukmanga of Surya Vamsha was in the regular habit of publicising the Vrata by announcements on elephant tops to alert all the citizens that one and all in the age groups of eight to eighty five years must observe fasting, Puja and penances on Ekadashi with exceptions of expectant mothers, Kumari Kanyas, persons suffering from diseases or with disturbed minds. As the law was enforced with strictness, there were bee-lines by the citizens to Vishnu dhaams and Lord Yama Dharma  had free time and Chitragupta was jobless, as the paths leading to Yama loka which were normally over crowded had very few sinners in thin streams. Maharshi made a trip to Yamaloka and enquired of Dharmaraja as to why the hells which were always busy, noisy and bristling with tremendous activity became suddenly quiet and motionless! Dharma raja informed Narada that King Rukmanga enforced Upavasa and Puja compulsory on Ekadashas extended to Dwadashis too. Dharmaraja took Narada to Chitragupta to see the accounts of arrivals which revelaled telling figures as per the Records.Then both Dharma Raja and Chitragupta approached Lord Brahma to sensitise him of the developments as the Order Books were getting thinner by the day.  Brahma having examined the accounts and the Reports and decided some instant action since the subordinate officials were helpless and were having to face action as per the Rule Book.Lord Brahma then created a highly charming woman named Mohini and fully briefed her about the purpose of her creation. On the arrival of Mohini on the scene Brahma Maya overcame the King Rukmanga and decided to marry her any cost. She agreed but said although she might not ask for any thing including his entire Kingdom but whatever was desired by her should be agreed by him without objection. That was how Brahma averted the crisis as Mohini demanded the annulment of the Ekasha Vrata Rule!

Shata Rudreeyam:1) Brahma dedicated a golden Linga to Bhagavan Siva named Jagat Pradhana and prays it at His feet 2) Sri Krishna set up a black coloured Linga called Urjit and prays to Siva’s head 3) Sanaka and other Manasa Putras of Lord Brahma pray to Siva Hridaya (Heart) Linga as Jagadrati 4) Sapta Rishis pray to ‘Dharbhaankura maya’ (Dharbha made) Linga called Viswa Yoni 5) Devarshi Narada conceived Siva Linga as an all pervasive ‘Aakash’ (Sky) and prayed to Jagatvija 6) Devaraj Indra prays to a Diamond Linga called Vishvatma 7) Surya Deva prays to a copper Linga called Vishwasruga 8) Chandra performs Puja to a Pearl Linga known as Jagatpathi 9) Agni Deva prays to an Indra Nila Mani Linga named Viswesvara10) Brihaspathi prays to a Pushparajamani with the name Visva Yoni 11) Sukracharya pays penance to a Padmaragamani Linga called Viswakarma 12) A golden Linga is worshipped by Kubera called Iswara 13) Viswa Deva Ganas perform puja to a Silver Linga called Jagatgati 14) Yama Dharma raja pays his obeisance to a peethal (brass) Linga named Shambhu15) ‘Ashtavasus’ execute ‘Aradhana’ to a Glass made Linga called Shambhu 16) Maruganas performed regular puja to a Triloha Linga (three kinds of metals) called Umesh / Bhupesh 17) Raakshasas pay penance to an iron Linga and named Siva as Bhuta Bhavya Bhavodbhava 18) Guhyaka Ganas perform puja to a mirror-made Siva Linga named Yoga 19) Muni Jaigeeshva does Upasana to Brahmarandhramaya Linga named Jaigeeswara Yogeeswar 20) The famed King Nimi  

considers the Ugal Netra or the Two Eyes as Parameswara Linga called Sharva 21) Dhanvanthari worships Gomaya Linga (cow dung) in the name of Sarva Lokewswareswara 22) Gandharvas perform Puja to wood based Siva Linga named Sarva Sreshtha 23) Lord Rama did intense ‘Japa’ to ‘Vidyunmani’ Linga in the name of Jyeshtha 24) Banasura paid homage to Marakathamani Linga named Varishtha 25) Varuna Deva offers reverence to a Sphatikamani Linga named Parameswara 26) Lokatrayankara is the name given to a Linga made of Munga (Black Pearl) by Nagagana 27) Devi Saraswathi pays reverence to Suddha mukta maya Linga named Lokatrayashrita 28) Sani Deva performs ‘Japa’ on Saturday Amavasya midnight at Maha Sagara Sangama the Bhavari ( Honey Bee) Swarupa Linga named Jagannadha 29) Ravana implored to a Linga made of Chameli flower and named it Sudurjaya 30) Siddhaganas paid respects to Manasa Linga called Kama Mrityu Jaraatiga 31) Raja Bali worshipped Yashamaya (Famed) Linga named Jnanatma 32) Marichi and other Maharshis pray to Pushpamaya (flowerful) Linga with the name Jnana gamya 33) Devathas who performed noble deeds  made approbation to Shubhamaya Linga (Propitiousness) named Jnaanajneya 34) Maharshi Phenaj (foam) who drank Phena did Upasana to Phena Linga called Sarvavid 35) Sage Kapila performed Japa to Balukamaya Ling named Varada. 36) Saarasvat, the son of Devi Sarasvathi did Upasana to Vanimaya Linga named Vaageeswara. 37) Sivaganas made a Linga of Bhagavan Siva and provided penance to Rudra. 38) Devathas made a Jambu River golden Linga to pray to Sitikantha. 39) Budha prays to Shankhamaya (conchshell) Linga by the name of Kanishtha. 40) The Two Ashvini Kumars pray to Muktikmaya Parthiva Linga named Suvedha. 41) Ganesha made a Siva Linga made of Wheat Flour worships it by the name of Kapardi 42) Mangala Graha ( The Planet of Mars) made a Buttermade Linga called Karaala  to pray. 43) Garuda prays to an Odanamaya Linga named Haryaksha. 44) Kamadeva Manmadha prays to a jaggery made Linga called Rathida .45) Sachi Devi, the Consort of King Indra paid reverence to a Salt-made Linga Buddhakesha. 46) Visvakarma prayed to a Prasaadamaya (or of the shape of a Mahal / Building) Linga called Yamya. 47) Vibhishana made a dustfulof Linga called Suhrutam to pray. 48) Raja Sagar who brought Ganga from Siva’s Head made a ‘Vamsamkura’ Linga called Sangat. 49) Rahu made a Hing (asafoetida) made Linga named Gamya to worship. 50) Devi Lakshmi made a Lehya Linga named Harinetra and worshipped it. 51) Yogi Purush prays to Sarvabhuthatha Linga called Sthaanu. 52) Human beings prepare a wide variety of Lingas and worship them by the name of Purusha. 53) Nakshatras (Stars) pray to Tejomaya (full of Radiance) Linga called Bhaga / Bhaskara. 54) Kinnaras make a Dhaatumaya Linga by the name of Sudeepth for Japas. 55) Brahma Raakshasa Ganas pray to Asthimaya (Bones) Linga named Deva Deva. 56) Charanas worship dantamaya (full of Teeth) Linga called Ramhas. 57) Sadhya ganas pray to Saptaloka maya Linga titled Bahurupa. 58) Ritus worship Doorvaankura maya Linga named Sarva. 59) Celestial Damsel Urvasi prays to Sindhura Linga named Priya Vasan. 60) Apsaras perform Archana to Kumkuma Linga called Abhushana. 61) Guru Deva performs puja to Brahmachari Linga named Ushnivi. 62) Yoginis offer their obsequiousness to Alakthak Linga by name Suvabhruk. 63) Siddha Yoginis worship Srikhanda Linga named Sahasraaksha. 64) Dakinis perform puja to Lingas made of Mamsa or Meat and call Siva by the name of Sumidhsha. 65) Manna Ganaas worship Annamaya Linga called Girisha. 66) Agasthya Muni worships Vreehimaya Linga to Siva named Sushanth. 67) Muni Devala made Yavamaya Linga and called Siva with the name of Pathi. 68) Valmiki Muni made a Linga of Valmikas and prayed to Chira Vasa. 69) Pratardan prays to Baana Linga named Hiranyabhuj. 70) Daityagana made Rayi made Siva Linga and prayed to Ugra. 71) Daanavas worship a Nishpaavaj Linga known as Dikpathi. 72) Baadal (Clouds) pray to Neeramaya (waterful) Lingas called Parjanya. 73) Yaksharaj made Maashamaya Linga and performed puja to Bhutapathi. 74) Pitruganas made Tilamaya (Sesame seeds) Linga and worshipped Siva as Vrishapathi. 75) Gouthama Muni worships Godhulimaya Linga named Gopathi. 76) Vanaprastha ganas display veneration to a phalamaya (full of fruits) Linga named Vrikshavrita 77) Karthikeya is highly devoted to Siva in the form of a stone Linga called Senanya 78) Ashtavatar Nag worshipped Dhanya linga called Madhyama. 79) Yagna Kartha prayed to Purusha Linga named Sthruva hasta. 80) Yama worships ‘Kalaaya samaya’ Linga called Dhanvi. 81) Parasurama prays to Yavaankura Linga named Bhargava. 82) Pururava prays to Ghritamaya (Gheeful) Linga by name Bahurupa. 83) Mandhata paid admiration to a Sugary Linga by name Bahuyug. 84) The clan of Cows utilises a Dugdhamaya Linga (full of Milk) for paying their respects and sincere devotion to Nethra sahasrak. 85) Pathivrata Sthrees (Women devoted to their husbands) worship to Bhatrumaya Linga called Viswapati. 86) Nara and Narayana worship Siva in the form of Mounji Linga named Sahasra Sirsha. 87) Pruthu worships Thaaksharya Linga known as Sahasra Charan. 88) Birds pay their homage to Vyoma Linga in the name of Sarvatmaka. 89) Prithivi prays to Gandhamaya Linga named as Dvithanu. 90) The entire Animal Kingdom prays to Bhasmamaya Linga known by the name of Maheswara. 91) Rishiganas perform Upasana to Jnanamaya Linga called Chirasthan. 92) Brahmanas do penance to Brahma Linga in the name of Siva as Jyeshtha. 93) Sesha Nag worships to ‘Gorochanamaya’ Linga named Pashupathi. 94) Vasuki Nag prays to Visha (poison) Linga with the name of Shankara. 95) Takshaka Nag prays to Kaalakutamaya Linga called Bahurup. 96) Karkotaka Nag pays esteem to Halahalamaya Linga named Pingaksha. 97) Shringi prays to Vishamaya Linga by the name of Dhurjati. 98) Puthras (Sons) perform in the name of Pitrumaya Linga (Fathers) called Vishwarupa. 99) Siva Devi worships Parama maya Linga named Vyambak.100) Matsya and such other Jeevas pray to Shastramaya Linga named Vrishakapi.                                                                                                     Phalasruti : Whoever recites Siva Shata Rudreeyam in the morning, the sins committed by the mind, tongue and action get vanished; diseases and fatigue get dissolved; fear and apprehension evaporate; and worries and anxiety disappear. Those who utter the hundred names of Parama Siva and make Salutations to Him as many times would instantly secure mental peace and contentment.(Source : Skanda Purana)

Observance of Maha Shiva Ratri and its Significance: Austerities by way of day/night fasts and dedicated devotion on Maha Sivaratri falling on Krishna Paksha  or dark fortnight of Phalguna month every year are considered as the sure steps to ‘Iham and Param’ viz. Happiness in the current phase of Life and Attainment  of Salvation threafter! In the early morning of Sivarathi day, a devotee should take a vow to observe day/night austerities. In the night or Sivarathri, there must be Archana, Abhisheka, Japa and full fledged worship either at a Temple or at home depending on convenience; actually the worship by way of continuous ‘Maha Nyasayutha Abhisheka’with Archana along with ‘Shodasopacharas’ or the sixteen types of Services and Arti, but for the sake of convenience, the Puja may be repeated every three hours during the night along with Laghu Nyasa Abhisheka, Archana, Arti etc. The night long austerity must be followed by ‘Punah Puja’ on the following morning and Bhojan (meals) along Brahmanas; Brahmanas who should also be satisfied with ‘Dakshinas’. After observing ‘Sivarathris’ for fourteen consecutive years, one could perform ‘Udyapan’ or successful completion of the Sivarathri Vratha.Observance of Maha Sivarathri even by mistake could yield fruits, let alone proper and systematic worship; this was illustrated by an incident said Sutha Muni at the congregation of Sages at Naimisaranya:                                                                                                                           


  There was a poor hunter named Gurudruha who became extremly hungry along with his family members on a whole day and that night happened to be a Sivarathri. He entered a forest on the eve of Sivarathri and waited for any animal to kill and satisfy the hunger; he waited near a waterbody over a bel tree nearby under which there was a Siva Linga as a coincidence. Having waited for the first ‘Prahara’ (three hours) of the night, he was lucky to have sighted a female deer along its kids approaching the water body to quench its thirst. He pulled out his bow and an arrow ready to aim at the mother deer and by a twist of fate the branch of the bel tree on which he sat moved, some bel leaves fell on the Siva Linga and some water in a vessel carried by the hunter got spilt down on the Linga, thus performing the first Phahara puja.The deer which was very sensitive even to small sounds of leaves and water falling from the tree noticed that the hunter was ready to kill it. The animal made a sincere and convincing request to the hunter that if allowed it desired to  leave the deer kids to their father and definitely return back to be killed by him. Very reluctantly, the hunter agreed and let the animals leave.                                                            The second Prahara was closing but there was no trace of the mother deer. But the sister of the earlier deer approached the pond along her kids and the happenings of the earlier Prahara repeated viz.the hunter pulled out his bow and arrow, the bel tree leaves as also the water drops from the hunter’s vessel fell on the Siva Linga, the sister deer made a similar request and the hunter let the animal leave as he did to the earlier one, thus accomplishing the worship of the third Prahara.

As the third Prahara was closing, the husband of the original deer came in search of the female deer and the kids and the earlier happenings repeated once again and the earlier Prahara puja too was executed successfully. It was a great sight of all the deers of both the families approached during the final Prahara and the hunter was delighted that he could have a feast any time but the earlier happenings repeated and the fourth Prahara worship too was implemented. But, after the fourth worship, Gurudruha’s psychology was transformed; he repented for his evil thoughts and took a vow to eschew his erstwhile acts of violence. Bhagavan Siva revealed Himself before Gurudruha as a transformed person and blessed him that in his next birth, he would be Nishad during Rama’s incarnation and the latter would give him the boon of attaining Vaikuntha. (Source: Shiva Purana)


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