Monday, March 17, 2014

Vaidyanath jyotirling

Vaidyanath Temple
Vaidyanath Temple
Vaidyanath Temple, also called Vaijnath Temple and Baidyanth Temple is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Bihar in the south west of Keeul Station. Baidyanath shrine is revered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Shiva. It may be noted that some schools of thought believe Vaidyanath near Parali in Andhra Pradesh to be the Vaidyanatha Jyotirlingam.

Devotees of Lord Shiva believe that by sincere worship of Vaijnath Jyotirlinga a person is relieved of all worries and miseries in life. It is also said that by worshipping in the shrine a person attains Moksha and all types of happiness. As a tradition, devotees carry ‘Kanwars’ on their shoulders and complete their travel here.

Vaidyanath is also considered to be one of the 52 Shakti Pitha shrines of Sati. It is believed that the heart of Sati fell here, when her half burnt body being carried by Shiva at the end of Daksha's yagna  was chopped to pieces by Vishnu's discus.

Structure of Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga
Vaidyanath Temple at Deogarh houses a spacious courtyard bound by stone walls. In the temple complex are twenty-two other temples. The Baijnath or Vaidyanath temple faces east. The top of the Shiva Lingam is slightly broken, keeping with the legend that it chipped away when Ravana tried to uproot it. Near the temple is the Shivaganga Lake. 

As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of saving) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.  Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity – each considered different manifestation of Shiva.  At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharastra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharastra, Vaidyanath at Deogarh in Jharkand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharastra.

According to the stories narrated in the Shiva Purana, it was in the Treta yuga that the demon Ravana, king of Lanka, felt that his capital would not be perfect and free from enemies unless Mahadeva (Shiva) stays there forever. He paid continuous meditation to Mahadeva. Ultimately Shiva got pleased and permitted him to carry his lingam with him to Lanka. Mahadeva advised him not to place or transfer this lingam to anyone. There should not be a break in his journey to Lanka. If he deposits the lingam anywhere on the earth, in the course of his journey, it would remain fixed at that place forever. Ravana was happy as he was taking his return journey to Lanka.

The other gods objected to this plan; if Shiva went to Lanka with Ravana, then Ravana would become invincible and his evil and anti-vedic deeds would threaten the world.

On his way back from Mount Kailash, it was time for Ravana to perform sandya-vandana and he could not carry out sandya-vandha with Shiva linga in his hand and therefore searched for someone who could hold it for him. Ganesh then appeared as a sheperd who was rearing sheeps nearby. Ravana requested Ganesh pretending as shepherd to hold the linga while he completes sandya-vandana and also guided him not to place the linga on ground at any movement. Ganesha warned Ravana about leaving the linga on the bank of the river and walking away if he doesnot return soon. Vishnu, pretending to be vexed by Ravena’s delay, set the linga down on earth. The moment linga was kept down, it got fixed to the ground. When Ravana after returning from sandya-vandana tried to move the linga, but he could not. Ravan failed miserably in his attempt to uproot the linga. The Gods were happy with Shiva linga not reaching Ravana’s place.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holi - Festival of Color

Holi Celebration
Holi, is a spring festival. It is celebrated in the month of Phalguna, as the lunar month is locally known. It is the month of March that corresponds with this time of celebration. Though originated in the northern part of India, Holi has assumed a national flavor over the ages. Despite being a Hindu festival, it is now regarded as a secular event. For, the entire nation takes the day off, as people, irrespective of race, culture and ethnic background, enjoy the spirit of Holi. Cities and suburbs, towns and villages all come alive to catch the frenzy of March madness with a range of colors.

A Hindu festival, Holi has various legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made he immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.

Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of 'Holika Dahan'.

Some also celebrate the death of evil minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna's devil uncle. However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.

The celebration of Holi:
On the day of the festival, people get out in the street early in the morning with colored powder, colored water with sprayers and water filled balloons. They throw colors at each other and shout greetings like 'Holi hai'. The streets, building and people all get painted in gulal (colored powder). In many places processions are held and people sing and dance all the way. The joyous celebration continues till the mid day and in afternoon or evening people visit friends and relatives to distribute sweets and gather for feasts.

The celebration also signifies the onset of spring as the nature starts changing its colors and flowers bloom. It announces the beginning of the agricultural season in this part of the world.

Popular Dishes of Holi:
Like most of the Indian festivals, food plays a very curial role in Holi. Sweet meats as well as snacks are prepared with great care keeping the festive mood of the celebration in mind.
Some of the most popular Holi dishes are gujias, laddoos, mathri, kheer, pedas, dahi vada or dahi bhalla, chaat, and pakoras. Holi would remain incomplete without the intoxicating 'bhang ke sarbaat'. You can now find many interesting Holi recipes online.