Home

1. BRAHMA PURANA

Preliminaries

There was a forest known as Naimisharanya. The sages (maharshis) arranged for a sacrifice (yajna) in this forest and the ceremony went on for twelve years. Naimisharanya forest was a wonderful place to arrange sacrifices in. The climate was pleasant. There were trees full of climate was pleasant. There were trees full of flowers and fruit. There was no shortage of food in the forest, and animals, birds and sages lived thee happily.

Many sages came to attend the sacrifice that had been arranged in Naimisharanya. With them was Romaharshana (alternatively Lomaharshana), Veda Vyasa's disciple. Veda Vyasa had instructed this disciple of his in the knowledge of the Puranas. The assembled sages worshipped the learned Romaharshana and said, "Please tell us the stories of the Puranas. Who created the universe, who is its preserver and who will destroy it? Please instruct us in all these mysteries".

Romaharshana replied, "Many years ago, Daksha and the other sages had asked Brahma these very questions. I have learnt about Brahma's replies from my guru) teacher) Veda Vyasa. I will relate to you what I know".

In the beginning, there was water everywhere and the Brahman slept on this water in the form of Vishnu. Since water is called nara and since ayana means a bed, Vishnu is known as Narayana. In the water there emerged a golden egg. Brahma was born inside this egg. Since he created himself, he is called Svayambhu, born (bhu) by himself (svayam). For one whole year, Brahma lived inside the egg. He then split the egg into two and created heaven and the earth from the two parts of the egg. Skies, directions, time, language and senses were created in both heaven and earth. From the powers of his mind, Brahma gave birth to seven great sages. Their names were Marichi, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu and Vashishtha. Brahma also created the god Rudra and the sage Sanatkumara.

More Creation

To continue with the process of creation, Brahma gave birth to a man and a woman from his own body. The man was named Svayambhuva Manu and the woman was named Shatarupa. Humans are descended from Manu. That is the reason they are known as manava. Manu and Shatarupa had three sons named Vira, Priyavrata and Uttanapada.

Uttanapada's son was the great Dhruva. Dhruva performed very difficult meditation (tapasya) for three thousand divine years. Brahma was so pleased at this that he granted Dhruva an eternal place in the sky, near the constellation that is known as saptarshi or the seven sages. This is the constellation Ursa Majoris and Dhruva is the pole Star.

In Dhruva's line there was a king named Prachinavarhi. Prachinavarhi had ten sons, known as the Prachetas. These Prachetas were supposed to look after the world and rule over it, but they were not interested in such mundane matters. They went off instead to perform tapasya under the ocean. The tapasya went on for ten thousand years. The upshot was that the earth had no ruler and began to suffer. People started to die and thick forests sprouted everywhere. So thick were the forests that even the winds could not blow.

News of this catastrophe reached the Prachetas. They were furious with the trees and created wind (vayu) and fire (agni) from their mouths. The wind dried up the trees and the fire burnt them, so that, very soon, there were very few trees left on earth.

Everyone was alarmed at the effects of the Prachetas anger. The moon-god Soma (or Chandra) came to the Prachetas with a beautiful woman and said, "Prachetas, please control your anger. You need someone to rule over the world so that you can concentrate on your tapasya. This woman is named Marisha. Her son will rule over the world".

The Prachetas agreed to this proposal and Daksha was born. The word praja means subject and the word pati means master. Since Daksha ruled over the world and its subjects, Daksha came to be known as Prajapati.

The sages interrupted Romaharshana. They said, "Sage, we are completely confused. We have heard that Daksha was born from Brahma's toe. And yet you have told us that Daksha was the son of the Prachetas. How is this possible?"

Romaharshana replied, "There is no reason for bewilderment. Many Dakshas have been born to rule over the world. One was born from Brahma's toe, yet another was the son of the Prachetas."

Daksha's Offspring

Daksha's wife was named Asikli and Asikli gave birth to five thousand sons. They were known as the Haryashvas. The Haryashvas were destined to rule over the world. But the sage Narada went to the Haryashvas and said, "How can you rule over the world if you don't even know what the world looks like? Are you familiar with its geography and its limits? First find out about these things, before you contemplate ruling over the world."

The Haryashvas went off to explore the world and never returned.

Daksha and Asikli then had another thousand sons who were named the Shavalashvas. Narada told them what he had told the Haryashvas and the Shavalashvas also went off to explore the world and never returned.

Daksha and Asikli were distressed that their children should disappear in this manner. Daksha blamed Narada for the instigation and proposed to kill him. But Brahma intervened and persuaded Daksha to control his anger. This Daksha agreed to do, provided that his conditions were met. "Brahma must marry my daughter Priya," he said. "And Narada must be born as Priya's son."

These conditions were accepted. In fact, Daksha and Asikli had sixty daughters. (Elsewhere, the Brahma Purana mentions fifty daughters.) Ten of these daughters were married to the god Dharma and thirteen to the sage Kashyapa. Twenty-seven daughters were married to Soma or Chandra. The remaining daughters were married to the sages Arishtanemi, Vahuputra, Angirasa and Krishashva.

The ten daughters who were married to the god Dharma were named Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta. Sadhya and Vishva. Arundhati's children were the objects (vishaya) of the world. Vasu's children were the eight gods known as the Vasus. Their names were Apa, Dhruva, Soma, Dhara, Salila, Anala, Pratyusha and Prabhasa. Anala's son was Kumara. Because Kumara was brought up by goddesses known as the Krittikas, he came to be called Kartikeya. Prabhasa's son was Vishvakarma. Vishvakarma was skilled in architecture and the making of jewelry. He became the architect of the gods.

Sadhya's children were the gods known as Sadhyadevas and Vishva's children were the gods known as Vishvadervas. The twenty-seven daughters of Daksha who were married to Soma are known as the nakshatras (stars).

As you have already been told, Kashyapa married thirteen of Daksha's daughters. Their names were Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Khasa, Surabhi, Vinata. Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ila, Kadru and Muni.

Aditi's sons were the twelve gods known as the adityas. Their names were Vishnu, Shakra. Aryama, Dhata, Vidhata, Tvashta, Pusha, Vivasvana, Savita, MitraVaruna, Amsha and Bhaga.

Diti's sons were the daityas (demons). They were named Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu, and amongst their descendants were several other powerful daityas liked Bali and Banasura. Diti also had a daughter named Simhika who was married to a danava (demon) named Viprachitti. Their offspring's were terrible demons like Vatapi, Namuchi, Ilvala, Maricha and the nivatakavachas.

The hundred sons of Danu came to be known as danavas. The danavas were thus cousins to the daityas and also to the adityas. In the danava line were born demons like the poulamas and kalakeyas.

Arishta's sons were the gandharvas (singers of heaven). Surasa gave birth to the snakes (sarpa). Khasa's children were the yakshas (demi-gods who were the companions of Kubera, the god of wealth) and the rakshasas (demons). Surabhi's descendants were cows and buffaloes.

Vinata had two sons named Aruna and Garuda. Garuda became the king of the birds. Tamra has six daughters. From these daughters were born owls, eagles, vultures, crows, water-fowl, horses, camels and donkeys.

Krodhavasha had fourteen thousand children known as nagas (snakes). Ila gave birth to trees, creepers, shrubs and bushes. Kadru's sons were also known as nagas or snakes. Among the more important of Kadru's sons were Ananta, Vasuki, Takshaka and Nahusha.

Muni gave birth to the apsaras (dancers of heaven). Diti's children (daityas) and Auditi's children (adityas) continually fought amongst themselves. On one particular occasion, the gods succeed in killing many of the demons. Thirsting for revenge, Diti began to pray to her husband, Kashyapa that she might given birth to a son who would kill Indra, the king of the gods.

Kashyapa found it difficult to refuse his wife outright. "All right", he said. "You have to bear the son in your womb for a hundred years. And throughout this period, you will have indeed kill Indira. But if you do not observe these instructions to the letter, your desire will not be satisfied."

Diti resolved to do as her husband had bidden her. But Indra had got to know about Diti's resolve and was waiting for an opportunity to save himself. There was an occasion when, tired after her prayers. Diti went to sleep without first washing her feet. This was an unclean act and it gave Indra the required opportunity. He adopted a miniscule form and entered Diti's womb. With his weapon vajra, he sliced up the baby inside the womb into seven parts. The baby naturally began to cry at the pain.

Indra kept on saying, "ma ruda," that is, "don't cry." But the bay, or rather its seven parts, would not listen. Indra thereupon sliced up each of the seven parts into seven more sections, so that there were forty-nine sections in all. When these forty-nine sections were born, they came to known as the Maruts, from the words that Indra had addressed them. Since Diti had not been able to adhere to the conditions her husband had set, the Maruts did not kill Indra. They instead became Indra's followers or companions, and were treated as gods.

Prithu

In Dhruva's line there was a king named Anga, Anga was religious and followed the righteous path. But unfortunately, Anga's son Vena inherited none of the good qualities of his father. Vena's mother was Sunitha and she happened to be the daughter of Mrityu. Mrityu was notorious for his evil ways and deeds. Vena spent a lot of time with his maternal grandfather and picked up these evil characteristics.

Vena gave up the religion that was laid down in the Vedas and stopped all yajnas. He instructed his subjects that he alone was to be worshiped.

The sages led by Marichi came to Vena to try and persuade him to mend his ways. But Vena was in no mood to listen. He insisted that there was no one equal to him in the whole universe.

The sages realized that Vena was a lost cause. They physically caught hold of Vena and began to knead his right thigh. From this kneading thee emerged a horrible looking creature. It was a dwarf and its complexion, was extremely dark. The sage Atri was so aghast at the dwarf's appearance that he blurted out, "nishida", which means "sit". From this, the dwarf came to be known as nishada. The race of nishadas became hunters and fishermen, and lived in the Vindhya mountains. From them were also descended uncivilized races like Tusharas and Tunduras.

The evil that was in Vena's body and mind came out with the emergence of the nishada.

When the sages began to knead Vena's right arm, Prithu emerged. He shone like a flaming fire and his energy lit up the four directions. He held a bow in his hand and he was clad in beautiful armour. As soon as Prithu was born, Vena died.

All the rivers and the oceans arrived with their waters and their jewels to anoint Prithu as the king. The gods and the sages also came for the coronation. Brahma himself crowned Prithu the king of the earth. He also took the opportunity to apportion out the lordships of other parts of the universe. Soma was appointed lord over creepers, herbs, starts (nakshatras), planets (grahas), sacrifices, meditation (tapasya) and over the first of the four classes (brahmanas). Varuna became lord of the oceans, Kubera of all the kings, Vishnu of the adityas, Agni of vasus, Daksha of all Prahlada of daityas and danavas, Yama of the pritris (ancestors), Shiva of yakshas, rakshasas and pishachas (ghosts), and Himalaya of the mountains.

The ocean (samudra) was made the lord of all rivers. Chitraratha of gandharvas, Vasuki of nagas, Takshaka of sarpas, Garuda of birds, the tiger of deer, Airavata of elephants, Ucchaihshrava of horses, the bull of cows and the ashvattha tree (a banyan) of all trees. Brahma also appointed four overlords (dikapalas) for the four directions. To the east there was Sudhanva, to the south Shankhapada, to the west Ketumana and to the north Hiranyaroma.

Prithu was a king who ruled the earth well. During his reign, the earth was laden with foodgrains. The cows were full of milk and the subjects were happy. To glorify King Prithu, the sages performed a sacrifice and from this sacrifice there emerged two races known as the sutas and the magadhas should sing praises in honor of Prithu.

"But what praise will we sing?" asked the sutas and the magadhas. "Prithu is still young. He has not done much that can be praised".

"That may be true," replied the sages. "But he will do wonderous deeds in the future. Sing praises of those wonderful deeds. We will tell you about them."

Having learnt of these future deeds from the sages, the sutas and the magadhas began to compose songs and chant praises in honor of Prithu. These stories were related throughout the earth. Some of Prithu's subjects heard these stories and came to see Prithu. "King," they said. "We have heard of your great deeds. But we find it difficult to make a living. Please indicate to us our habitations on earth. And tell us where we may be able to get the food we need for subsistence."

King Prithu picked up his bow and arrow. He decided to kill the earth, since the earth was not yielding foodgrains to his subjects. The earth adopted the form of a cow and began to flee. But wherever the earth went, Prithu followed with his bow and arrow. He followed the earth to the heaven and to the underworld.

Finally, in desperation, the earth started to pray to Prithu. "King," she said, "please control your anger. I am a woman. Killing me will only mean a sin for you. Besides, what purpose will killing me serve? Your subjects will then be without a place to live in. There must be some other way of ensuring that your subjects can make a living.

The earth then herself offered a solution and King Prithu did her bidding. With his bow, he leveled out the earth. The plains could now be used for villages and cities and for agriculture and animal husbandry. The plains could now be used for villages and cities and for agriculture and animal husbandry. The mountains were gathered together in select places, instead of being littered over whole earth. Earlier, Prithu's subjects had lived off fruits and roots. Now Prithu milked the earth (in her form of a cow) and obtained the seeds of foodgrains on which people could live. Because of Prithu's deeds, the earth came to be known as prithivi.

Manvantaras

A manvantara is an era. There are four smaller eras (yugas) and their names are Satya or Krita Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. Each cycle of Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga is called a mahayuga. A mahayuga comprises of 12,000 years of the gods, or equivalently, 4320,000 years for human. 71 mahayugas constitute a manvantara and 14 manvantaras constitute a cycle (kalpa). One kalpa is one of Brahma's days and the universe is destroyed at the end of a Kalpa.

Each manvantara is ruled over by a Manu. In the present kalpa, six manvantaras have already passed and the names of the six Manus who ruled were Svayambhuva, Svarochisha, Uttama, Tamasa, Raivata and Chakshusha. The name of the seventh Manu, who rules over the seventh manvantara of the present kalpa, is Vaivasvata.

The titles of the seven great sages (saptarshi) as well as the tile of Indra change from manvantara to manvantara. The gods also change.

In the present vaivasvata manvantara, the seven great sages are Atri, Vashishtha, Kashyapa, Goutama, Bharadvaja, Vishvamitra and Jamadagni. The gods now are the sadhyas, the rudras, the vishwadevas, the vasus, the maruts, the adityas and the two ashvinis.

There will be seven Manus in the future before the universe is destroyed. Five of these Manus will be known as Savarni Manus. The remaining two will be called Bhoutya and Rouchya.

The Sun and the Solar Dynasty

You have probably forgotten by now that Kashyapa and Aditi had a son named Vivasvana. This was the sun god, also known as Surya or Martanda.

Surya was married to Samjna, Vishvakarma's daughter. They had two sons. The fist son was Vaivasvata Manu and the second son was Yama or Shradhadeva, the god of death. Yama had a twin sister named Yamuna. The sun's energy was so strong that Samjna could not bear to look at her husband. Through her powers, she created an image from her own body that looked exactly like her. This image was called Chhaya (shadow).

Samjna told Chhaya, "I cannot bear the energy of my husband, I am going off to my father's house. Stay here, pretend to be Samjna and look after my children. Under no circumstances tell anyone, certainly not my husband, that your are not Samjna."

"I will do as you have asked me to," replied Chhaya. "But the moment someone curses me or pulls me by the hair, I shall be forced to reveal the truth."

Samjna went to her father Vishvakarma kept asking her to return to her husband. But this Samjna refused to do. Instead, she went to the land known as Uttara Kuru and started to live there as a mare.

Meanwhile, Surya, who had not realized that Samjna had been replaced by Chhaya, had two sons through Chhaya. They were named Savarni Manu and Shani (Saturn). As soon as her own children were born, Chhaya no longer displayed as much of love for Samjna's children as she used to do. Vaivasvata Manu was a quiet sort of person and he ignored the implied neglect. But Yama was not the tolerant. Besides, he was also younger. He raised his leg to kick Chhaya. At this, Chhaya cursed Yama that his legs would fall off.

Yama went and complained to Surya. " I have not really kicked her," he said. "I only threatened to. And does a mother ever curse her children?"

"I can't undo the curse, " replied Surya. "At best, I can reduce its severity. Your legs will not actually fall off. Some of the flesh from your legs will fall off onto the earth and create worms. Thereby, you will be freed of your curse."

But nevertheless, Surya felt that there was some truth in Yama's asking whether a mother would ever curse her children. He taxed Chhaya with the truth, but Chhaya would not reveal anything Surya then grasped her by the hair and threatened to curse her. Since her conditions were now violated, Chhaya blurted out the truth.

In an extremely angry mood, Surya dashed off to Vishvakarma's house. Vishvakarma tried to cool him down. "it is all because of your exercises energy that this has happened, exclaimed Vishvakarma. "If you permit, I will shave off some of the extra energy. Then Samjna will be able to look at you."

Surya agreed to this proposition. With the shaved off energy, Vishvakarma manufactured Vishnu's chakra (a weapon like a bladed discus).

Surya found out that Samjna was in Uttara Kuru in the form of a mare. He joined her there in the form of a horse. As horse, they had two sons named Nasatya and Dasra. Since ashva means horse, the sons were also known as the two Ashvinish and became the physicians of the gods.

Surya and Samjna then gave up their equine forms and lived happily ever after.

Vaivasvata Manu's Children

Vaivasvata Manu has no children and he arranged for a sacrifice so that he might have a son. Nine sons were born as a result of this sacrifice. Their names were Ikshvaku, Nabhaga, Dhrishta, Sharyati, Narishyanta, Pramashu, Rishta, Karusha and Prishadhra. Manu also made an offering to the two gods Mitra and Varuna. As a result of this offering, a daughter named Ila was born.

Budha was the son of Chandra, and Budha and Ila had a son named Pururva. Subsequently, thanks to a boon conferred on her by Mitra and Varuna. Ila became a man named Sudyumna. Sudyumna's sons were Utkala, Gaya and Vinatashva. Utkala ruled in Orissa, Gaya in the region that is also called Gaya, and Vinatashva in the west.

Sudyumna was not entitled to rule since he had earlier been a woman. He lived in the city known as Pratishthana. Pururava inherited this later on.

When Vaivasvata Manu died, his ten sons divided up the earth amongst themselves, Ikshvaku ruled in the central regions. He had a hundred sons, the eldest of whom was named Vikukshi. Vikukshi came to be known as Shashada. Thereby hangs a tale.

Ikshvaku wanted to organize a sacrifice and he sent his son Vikukshi to the forest to fetch some meat for the sacrifice. While hunting for game, Vikukshi felt very hungry and ate up some of the meat. This was a sacrilege and the sage Vashishtha advised Ikshvaku to banish Vikukshi from his kingdom. Because the meat that he had eaten had been the meat of a rabbit (shashaka), Vikukshi came to be known as Shashada.

But after Ikshvaku died, Vikukshi returned to his father's kingdom and began to rule there. This was the kingdom of Ayodhya. One of Vikukshi's sons was Kakutshta, and Rama of Ramayana fame was born in this line.

Kubalashva

Kubalashva was one of the kings descended from Kakutstha. Kubalashva's father was named Vrihadashva. After Vrihadashva had ruled for many years, he desired to retire to the forest. He therefore prepared to hand over the kingdom to his son Kubalashva. But learning of King Vrihadashva's resolve, a sage named Utanka came to meet the king.

"Don't go to the forest right now", Utanka told the king. My hermitage (ashrama) is on the shores of the ocean and is surrounded by sand in all directions. A strong rakshasa named Dhundhu lives under the sand. He is so strong that even the gods have been unable to kill him. Once every year, Dhundhu exhales his breath and this raises a tremendous cloud of sand and dust. For an entire week the sun remains shrouded in dust and for the whole week, there are earthquakes as a result of Dhundhu's exhalation. This is disturbing my mediation (tapasya) and you can't very well go away to the forest without first doing something about Dhundhu. Only you are capable of killing him. I have accumulated a lot of power as a result of my tapasya and I will give this to you if you kill Dhundhu."

Vrihadashva told Utanka that there was no need for Vrihadashva himself to kill Dhundhu. He would go to the forest as he had decided. His son Kubalashva was perfectly capable of killing Dhundhu and would accompany Utanka.

Kubalashva and his hundred sons went to the shores of the ocean where all the sand was. Kubalashva asked his sons to start digging so that they might find Dhundhu. Dhundhu attacked Kubalashva's sons and killed all of them but three. The three who escaped were named Dridashva, Chandrashva and Kapilashva. But Dhundhu himself was killed by Kubalashva. As a result of this great feat, Kubalashva came to be known as Dhundhumara. The sage Utanka blessed Kubalashva and by the sage's blessings, Kubalashva's dead sons went straight to heaven.

Trishanku

From Dridashva was descended a king named Trayaruni. Trayaruni was a righteous king and followed all the religious dictates. But Trayarun's son Satyavrata was quite the opposite and refused to follow the righteous path. King Trayaruni's chief priest was the great sage Vashishtha. Vashishtha advised the king that his evil son should be banished from the kingdom. Trayaruni accepted the sage's advice. Consequently, Satyavrata started to live with outcasts (chandalas) outside the kingdom.

After some time, Trayaruni relinquished his kingship and went away to the forest. The kingdom had no king and degenerated into anarchy. The absence of a king is also frowned upon by the gods and for twelve years there was a terrible drought.

Vishvamitra was another great sage. While all this was going on, Vishvamitra was not present in the kingdom. He had gone away to perform tapasya on the shores of the ocean, having left his wife and children in a hermitage (ashrama) that was in the kingdom. But because there was such a long spell of drought, there was also famine in the kingdom. People started to starve. Vishvamitra's wife decided to sell her son so that she might have some food to eat. She tied a rope round the son's neck and took him to the market-place. There, she sold him in exchange for a thousand cows. Since a rope had been tied around the son's neck (gala), he came to be known as Galava.

But Satyavrata discovered what terrible straits Vishvamitra's family was in. He freed Galava and started to take care of Vishvamitra's wife and children.

Satyavrata had not been terribly fond of Vashishtha. He blamed the sage for his banishment. When thee was famine everywhere, Satyavrata stole Vashishtha's cow. He killed the cow and served the meat to Vishvamitra's sons, apart from eating it himself.

Vashishtha was in a terrible rage when he got to know about this incident. He cursed Satyavrata.

"You have committed three sins (shanku)," Vashishtha told Satyavrata. "Firstly, you have angered your father Trayaruni. Secondly, you have stolen and killed a cow. Thirdly, you have eaten beef, a forbidden meat. Because of these three sins, you will henceforth be known as Trishanku and be eternally cursed." (The word tri means three.)

Satyavrata had however taken care of Vishvamitra's family when the sage was away on his meditation. After Vishvamitra returned, he was very happy to learn about what Trishanku had done and offered to grant him a boon. Trishanku desired the boon that he might be allowed to go to heaven in his own physical body. Thanks to Vishvamitra's immense powers, even this virtually impossible task was accomplished. Trishanku became king in Trayaruni's kingdom and Vishvamitra acted as his chief priest.

Sagara

Trishanku's son was Harishchandra and from Harishchandra was descended a king named Bahu. Bahu devoted too much time to pleasurable pursuits. The upshot of this was that the defence of the kingdom was not properly taken care of. Enemy kings seized this opportunity to attack Bahu's kingdom. They drove Bahu out and Bahu went off to the forest with his wife Yadavi,

The enemy kings who dislodged Bahu were led by the Haihaya and Talajangha kings. They were aided by the Shakas, Yavanas, Paradas, Kambojas and Pahlavas.

King Bahu died in the forest. His wife Yadavi desired to die on her husband's funeral pyre. But since Yadavi was pregnant at the time, the sage Ourva persuaded her that such an act would be a sin. He brought Yadavi to his own hermitage and began to take care of her.

Bahu had also a second wife and she had once tried to poison Yadavi. The poison (gara) had however done Yadavi no harm and emerged when the baby was born. Since the baby was born together with poison, he came to known as Sagara.

The sage Ourva took care of Sagara's education. He imparted to Sagara the knowledge of all the shastras and also the usage of weapons. Amongst other things, Sagara acquired the skill of using a divine weapon known as agneyastra.

When he grew up, Sagara attacked the Haihaya kings and defeated them through the use of agneyastra. He then defeated the Shakas, Yavanas, Paradas, Kambojas and Pahlavas and was about to kill them all. But these enemy kings fled to the sage Vashishtha for refuge and Vashishtha persuaded Sagara not to kill his enemies. Instead, the heads of the Shakas were half shaven off. The Yavanas and Kambojas had their heads completely shaven. The Pahlavas were instructed that they would have to keep beards. These enemy kings also lost all right to follow the religion laid down in the Vedas. Amongst the other kings who Sagara defeated were the Konasarpas, the Mahishakas, the Darvas, the Cholas and the Keralas.

King Sagara had two wives. The first was named Keshini and she was the daughter of the king of Vidarbha. The Brahma Purana does not tell us the name of the second wife but from the Mahabharataa we know that it was Sumati. Keshini and Sumati had no sons. They therefore began to pray to Ourva so that they might have sons.

Ourva was pleased at these prayers and said, " Both of you will have sons. But one of you will have a single son and the other will have sixty thousand sons. Tell me, who wants what."

Keshini asked for a single son and Sumati asked for sixty thousand sons. In due course, Keshini gave birth to a son named Panchajana. Sumati gave birth to a gourd. Inside the gourd there was a lump of meat. The gourd was placed inside a pot full of clarified butter (ghrita). And from the lump of meat were born sixty thousand sons.

King Sagara proceeded to conquer the entire earth. As a recognition of this conquest, he initiated an ashvamedha yajna (horse sacrifice). In this ceremony, the sacrificial horse is left free to wander all over the earth. The sixty thousand sons accompanied the horse as its guards. The horse eventually reached the shores of the ocean that lies towards the south-east. While Sagara's sons were resting, the horse was stolen. The sons started to look for the horse and began to dig up the sands in their search. In this process, they came upon the sage Kapila. Kapila had been meditating and his meditation was disturbed by the terrible din that Sagara's sons made. He gazed at them in fury and all but four of the sons were burnt to ashes. The four sons who were saved were named Varhiketu, Suketu, Dharmaketu and Panchajana.

The Brahma Purana is slightly confused here. Was Panchajana Keshini's son or Sumati's son? There is some inconsistency with the account given in the Mahabharataa. In the Mahabharataa, it is Keshini who gave birth to sixty thousand sons and it is Sumati who had a single son named Asamanja. Also in the Mahabharataa, all sixty thousand sons were burnt to ashes.

The Brahma Purana also tells us that the sacrificial horse was obtained by Sagara from the ocean. This is the reason why the ocean is referred to as sagara.

To come back to the account given in the Brahma Purana. Panchajana's son was Amshumana and Amshumana's son was Dilipa. Dilipa had a son named Bhagiratha. Bhagiratha brought down the river Ganga from heaven to earth and thus redeemed his ancestors who had been burnt to ashes by Kapila. It was because of this that the river Ganga came to be known as Bhagirathi.

From Bhagiratha was descended Raghu. Raghu's son was Aja, Aja's son Dasharatha and Dasharatha's son Rama.

The Moon and the Lunar Dynasty

There was a sage named Atri. Atri performed very difficult tapasya. So difficult was the tapasya that Atri's energy was thrown up into the sky. The sky could not bear this energy and hurled it down onto the earth. This energy then gave birth to Soma or Chandra, the moon god. Brahma took Chandra up into his chariot and drove the chariot around the earth twenty-one times. From whatever energy was left after Chandra has been created, the herbs were born.

Chandra also performed very difficult tapasya. One padma year consists of 10,000,000,000,000 normal years. For one hundred such padma years, Chandra mediated. After the meditation was over, Brahma appointed Chandra lord over seeds, herbs, brahmanas and the oceans. Chandra also performed a rajasuya yajna (royal sacrifice) as a celebration of his lordship. This gave him a lot pomp, glory, wealth and respect.

But all this merely served to turn Chandra's head. The guru (teacher) of the gods was the sage Brihaspati. Brihaspati had a wife named Tara and Chandra abducted Tara. Despite the gods and the sages asking Chandra to return Tara, the moon god would not listen. A terrible war then raged over Tara, the gods fighting for Chandra. Shukracharya, the guru of the demons, fought on Chandra's side and Shiva fought on Brihaspati's side. This war (Samgram) came to be known as tarakamaya samgram, since it was fought over Tara.

Finally Brahma intervened and a truce was called. But Chandra and Tara had by then had a son, and Brihaspati refused to accept this son as his own. This son was Budha. As you already known, Budha married Ila and they had a son named Pururava.

The Brahma Purana now describes several kings belonging to the lunar dynasty.

Yayati

In the lunar dynasty, there was born a powerful king named Nahusha. He married Viraja and they had six sons named Yati, Yajati, Samyati, Ayati, Yati, and Suyati. Yati became a hermit. So although Yayati was not the eldest, he was crowned king after Nahusha.

Yayati had two wives. The first was Devayani, daughter of Shukracharya. And the second was Sharmishtha, daughter of Vrishaparva, the king of the danavas. Devayani had two sons named Yadu and Turvasu and Sharmishtha had three sons named Druhya, Anu and Puru. Yayati conquered the whole earth and ruled over it. When he became old, he divided the earth amongst his five sons. Yadu was given the lands to the east, Puru the lands in the center, Turvasu the lands to the south and south-east, Druhya those to the north and Anu those to the west.

Yayati gave up his weapons and decided to travel throughout the world. He called Yadu to him and said, "I wish to explore the world and my old age is a hindrance. Please accept my old age and give me your youth in return."

Yadu refused. "I will not," he said. "One cannot eat well when one is old, nor can one pleasure the comforts of the world. Old age is not pleasant. Ask one of my brothers instead." Yadu's refusal angered Yayati. He cursed Yadu that he or his descendants would never be kings. Yayati next requested Druhya, Turvasu and Anu, but they too refused and were similarly cursed by their father. But Puru agreed to his father's request and gladly accepted the old age. He was blessed by his father.

After many years had passed, Yayati got tired of the world and returned Puru's youth to him. He accepted back his old age and retired to the forest to mediate.

From Puru was descended King Bharataa after whom the land came to be known as Bharataavarsha. Also in this line was King Kuru, after whom all the descendants came to be known as Kauravas. The sacred place named Kurukshetra owes its name to King Kuru.

From Turvasu were descended the kings of Pandya, Kerala, Kola and Chola. From Druhya were descended the kings of Gandhara. The horses of the Gandhara kingdom are famous.

Yadu had five sons, Sahasrada, Payoda, Kroshtu, Nila and Anjika. Sahasrada's descendants were the Haihayas, amongst whom the most famous was Kartyavirya Arjuna. Arjuna pleased the sage Dattatreya and became invincible. He also had a thousand arms. Arjuna's greatest deeds were his defeat and imprisonment of Ravana, king of Lanks. Kroshtu's descendants were Vrishni and Andhaka and in the Vrishni line was born Krishna.

Geography

Having heard accounts of the solar and lunar dynasties, the sages requested Romaharshana. "Tell us a little about the geography of the world. What does the earth look like? What are its limits?"

Romaharshana obligedand said-- The earth is divided into seven regions (dvipas). Their names are Jambudvipa, Plakshadvipa, Shalmaladvipa, Kushadvipa, Krounchadvipa, Shakadvipa and Pushkaradvipa. These regions are surrounded by seven oceans and their names are Lavana, Ikshu, Sura, Sarpi, Dadhi, Dugdha and Jala.

Jambudvipa is in the center and right in the middle of Jambudvipa is Mount Sumeru. To the south of Sumeru are the mountains Himavana, Hemakuta and Nishadha and to the north of Sumeru are the mountains Nila, Shveta and Sringi. Jambudvipa itself is divided into several regions (varshas). For example, Sumeru is in the middle of Ilavritavarsha. Braratavarsha is to the south of Sumeru. To the east of Sumeru is Bhadrashvarsha and to the west is Ketumalavarsha. Harivarsha lies to the south and Ramyakavarsha to the north. Still further north is Hiranmayavarsha and beyond that, Uttara Kuruvarsha.

Brahma's city is on the peak of Sumeru. It is there that the river Ganga descends from heaven and gets divided into four tributaries. Sita flows eastwards, Chakshu westwards, Bhadra Northwards and Alakananda southwards into Bharataavarsha.

There are seven major mountain range sin Bharataavarsha and their names are Mahendra, Malya, Sahya, Shuktimana, Riksha, Vindhya and Pariyatra. Bharataavarsha itself is divided into nine regions (dvipas). The names of eight of these regions are Indradvipa, Soumya, Gandharva and Varuna. The ninth region is completely surrounded by the ocean in all directions. To the east of Bharataavarsha live the Kiratas and to the west the Yavanas.

Below the earth lie the seven regions of the underworld (Patala). Their names are Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Sutala, Talatala, Rasatala and Patala. The daityas, danavas and the snakes (sarpa) live there. The underworld is a wonderful place, more beautiful than heaven itself. The sage Narada once went on a trip to the underworld and was bowled over by its beauty. It is full of palaces and jewels. The sun rises there, but does not radiate too much of heat. The moon also rises, but its beams are not at all chilly. The forests are populated by beautiful trees and the ponds are thick with lotus flowers, the songs of cuckoo birds are heard everywhere. Below the underworld sleeps a great snake, known as Shesha or Ananta. It has a thousand hoods, all covered with jewels. In fact, this snake is really Vishnu in one of this various forms.

Also part of the world are hells (naraka), presided over by Yama, the god of death. Those are full of weapons, fire and poisons and sinners are sent there to be punished. Sins that are punished by dispatch to one of the several hells are lying, murder, killing cows, destroying cities, drinking, killing brahmanas, theft, selling wines or hair, criticizing the Vedas, insulting elders, making weapons, selling salt, destroying forests needlessly, killing sheep or deer, cheating and studying under one's own son. Each sinner receives a punishment that is in proportion to the severity of his sin. Of course, if one performs penance (prayashchitta) for one's sins, one need not go to naraka. The best form of penance is praying to Krishna.

The earth (Prithivi or bhuloka) extends upto those arts of the sky that can be lit up by the rays of the sun and the moon. The expanse from there to the solar circle is known as bhuvarloka and holy sages live there. Above the solar circle is the lunar circle and beyond it, in succession, come the regions of Mercury (Budha), Venus (Shukra), Mars (Mangala), Jupiter (Brihaspati), Saturn (Shani), the Great Bear constellation (saptarshi) and the Pole Star (Dhruva). The region from the solar circle to Dhruvaloka is known as heaven (Svarloka or svarga). Beyond Dhruvaloka is Maharloka and further away, Janaloka are Tapaloka and Satyaloka. At the end of a kalpa, all the three lokas (regions) of bhuloka, bhuvarloka and svarloka are destroyed. But the four lokas of Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapaloka and Satyaloka are not destroyed.

Konaraka

There is an ocean to the south of Bharataavarsha. One the shores of this great ocean there is a land named Ondra or Utkala (present Orissa). Utkala is populated by religious people and the brahmanas who live there are learned in the Vedas. They are very good priests, learned in the Puranas and the shastras and skilled in the art of sacrifices. In the land of Utkala, there is an image of the sun (Surya) known as Konaditya. The word aditya also means the sun, as does the word arka. Thus, Konaditya is the same as Konarka, a corruption of the latter word being Konaraka. The image of Konaditys is so wonderful that even if one gazes at the image, all one's sins are forgiven.

All around the temple there is sand. But nevertheless, many trees grow around the temple. The best time to worship the sun there is at the time of sunrise. One has to face the east and draw a lotus flower on the ground with red sandalwood. The lotus flower must have exactly eight petals. A copper vessel has to be placed at the center of the flower and filled with paddy, sesamum water, red sandalwood, red flowers and sacred grass. One prays to Surya to descend on the lotus flower that has thus been drawn. If one worships Konaditya according to these prescribed rites, the sins of seven preceding generations are forgiven.

The twelve adityas are nothing but different forms of Surya. Their names are Indra. Dhata, Parjanya, Tvashta, Pusha Aryama, Bhaga Vivasvana, Vishnu, Amshumana, Varuna, and Mitra. As Indra, Surya destroys the enemies of the gods. As Dhata, he creates living beings. As Parjanya, he showers down rain. As Tvashta, he lives in the trees and herbs. As Pusha, he makes foodgrains grow. As Aryama, he is in the wind. As Bhaga, he is in the body of all living beings. As Vivasvana, he is in fire and helps to cook food. As Vishnu, he destroys the enemies of the gods. As Amshumana, he is again in the wind. As Varuna, Surya is in the waters and as Mitra, he is in the moon and in the oceans.

In each month of the year, it is a different aditya who shines. Indra shines in the month of Ashvina, Dhata in Kartika, Parjanya in Shravana, Tvashta in Falguna, Pusha in Pousha, Aryama in Vaishakha, Bhaga in Magha, Vivasvana in Jyaishtha, Vishnu in Chaitra, Amshumana in Ashada, Varuna, in Bhadra and Mitra in Agrahayana. Vishnu has twelve hundred rays, Aryama one thousand and three hundred. Vivasvana seventy-two, Amshumana fifteen, Parjanya seventy-two, Varuna one thousand and three hundred, Tvashta one thousand and one hundred, Indra two thousand and two hundred, Dhata eleven hundred, Mitra one thousand and Pusha nine hundred. Apart from the names of the twelve adityas, Surya has twelve other names as well. These are Aditya, Savita, Surya, Mihira, Arka, Prabhakara, Martanda, Bhaskara, Bhanu, Chitrabhanu, Divakara and Ravi.

Brahma once recounted to the sages the one hundred and eight sacred names of Surya. The Brahma Purana lists these names and we reproduce them in nine groups of twelve names each.

(1) Surya, Archana, Bhagavana, Tvashta, Pusha, Arka, Savita, Ravi, Gabhastimana, Aja, Kala, Mrityu.

(2) Dhata, Prabhakara, Prithivi, Jala, Teja, Akasha, Vayu, Parayana, Soma, Brihaspati, Shukra, Budha.

(3) Angaraka, Indra, Vivasvana, Diptamshu, Shuchi, Shouri, Shanaishvara, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Skanda, Vaishravana.

(4) Yama, Vaidyutam, Jathara, Agni, Aindhana, Tejohpati, Dharmadhvaja, Vedakarta, Vedanga, Vedavahana, Krita, Treta.

(5) Dvapara, Kali, Sarvasurashraya, Kala, Kashtha, Muhurta, Kshapa, Yama, Kshana, Samvatsara, Ashvattha, Kalachakra.

(6) Vibhavasu, Shashvata, Purusha, Yogi, Vyaktavyakta, Sanatana, Kaladhyaksha, Prajadhyaksha, Vishvakarama, Tamonuda, Varuna, Sagara.

(7) Amsha, Jimuta, Jivana, Ariha, Bhutashraya, Bhutapati, Sarvalokanamaskrita, Shrashta, Samvartaka, Vahni, Sarvadi, Alolupa.

(8) Ananta, Kapila, Bhanu, Kamada, Sarvotamukha, Jaya, Vishala, Varada, Sarvabhutasevita, Mana, Suparna, Bhutadi.

(9) Shighraga, Pranadharana, Dhanvantari, Dhumakety, Adideva, Aditinandana, Dvadashatma, Ravi, Daksha, Pita, Mata, Pitamaha.

Indradyumna and Purushaottama Kshetra

In Satya Yuga there was a king named Indradyumna. He was a very powerful king as Indra himself. He was handsome, honest and truthful, learned in the shastras and the Vedas, and skilled in the use of weapons. His radiance put the sun to shame. Indradyumna was devoted to Vishnu. He once decided that he would worship Vishnu. A tirtha is a sacred place of pilgrimage. Indradyumna scanned all the existing tirthas and cities. But none of them satisfied him. None of them, he felt, was appropriate as a place for worshipping Vishnu.

Indradyumna's own capital was the city of Avanti, in the kingdom of Malva. Avanti was a beautiful and wealthy city, surrounded on all sides by moats and other fortifications. Traders from many countries came there with all sorts or commodities for trading. The roads of the city were lined with shopes. The houses were painted white. The king's stables were full of horses and elephants. All citizens of Avanti were pleasant of appearance and happy. Sacrifices were held fairly often. Many were the temples, groves and ponds in Avanti. Any tree that grew on earth could be found there.

There was a temple to Shiva in the city. This was known as the temple of Mahakala. The image there was so sacred that worshipping Shiva in the temple of Mahakala was tantamount to performing one thousand ashvamedha yajnas.

The river Shipra flowed past Avanti. On the banks of the river there was a temple of Vishnu known as Govindasvami. Another temple to Vishnu was named Vikramasvami. But Indradyumna was not satisfied with these temples. He wanted to build another temple to Vishnu. He left Avanti to look for a proper place. His soldiers and subjects accompanied their king, so that it looked as if the entire city of Avanti was on the march. After traveling for many days, they arrived on the shores of the southern ocean, the ocean that is known as lavana samudra.

There were so many waves in the ocean that the ocean itself seemed to be dancing. Marine animals lived in the ocean and the waters were also the source of all sorts of jewels. Indradyumna began to live on the shores of the ocean. He discovered a place near the ocean that was thick with flower and fruit trees. Many types of birds gathered there to eat the fruit. This was the place known as Purushaottama kshetra (place), the city of Puri of modern times.

Purshottama kshetra was a very important tirtha. But all knowledge of this tirtha had been hidden until Indradyumna arrived on the scene. There was a reason for this. Many years ago, there used to be an image of Vishnu there, where people used to pray. So sacred was the image that all the sins of the worshippers were immediately forgiven. The result was that Yama could not punish any of the sinners. They simply prayed to Vishnu's image and escaped. Yama therefore prayed to Vishnu for a solution. Vishnu hid the image under the sand so that no one knew that it existed.

Indradyumna liked Purushaottama Kshetra. The river Mahanadi or Chitropala flowed not very far away. The people who lived around the place were religious. He decided that this was the right place for building a temple to Vishnu. On an auspicious day, the foundation stone was laid.

Indradyumna then got in touch with the kings of Kalkinga, Utakala and Koshala. He requested their help in fetching stones for the building of the temple. The kings sent their architects to the Vindhya mountains. The stones were gathered from these mountains and brought to Purushaottama Kshetra in boats and chariots. Messengers were also sent to several other kings for aid. They came with their armies and with a lot of wealth.

Indradyumna told the assembled kings, "I wish to accomplish two difficult tasks. The first is to perform an ashvamedha yajna here. And the second is to build a temple to Vishnu. Both of these are difficult jobs, particularly the second. But if you help me, I am confident that both jobs can be done."

The kings agreed to help. They offered jewels, wealth, gold, clothes, food grains and other objects. The place where the yajna was to be held was made entirely out of gold. In fact, all the objects used in the yajna were made out of gold. Brahmanas from all over Jambudvipa came to witness the sacrifice. They were donated elephants, horses and cows as alms. Never has there been any other sacrifice to rival the one that Indradyumna performed. After the sacrifice was over and the temple built, there remained the more important question of the image. How was this to be made? Indradyumna began to pray to Vishnu for guidance.

Vishnu appeared before Indradyumna in a dream and said, "Why are you so miserable? When the sun rises, go to the shores of the ocean. There you will find a tree. Half of the tree is in the water and the remaining half in the sand. Chop down this tree. It s wood will give you the material for the image.

In the morning, Indradyumna went to the seashore and found the tree. It was just as Vishnu had described it to be. With an axe, he chopped down the tree. As he was about to slice the trunk in two, two brahmanas appeared before him. Although Indradyumna did not know it, these two brahmanas were Vishnu and Vishvakarma in disguise.

"King. What have you done?" exclaimed the brahmanas. "You have cut down the only tree that was on the shores of the ocean."

"Forgive me," replied Indradyumna. "I wished to make an image of Vishnu. Vishnu has instructed me in a dream that this is the tree from which the image should be made."

"That is an excellent idea," said the brahmana who was Vishnu in disguise. "There is nothing so holy as praying to Vishnu. Meet my companion. He is as skilled as the great Vishvakarma himself. If you want, he will build the image for you."

King Indradyumna agreed. And instructed by Vishnu, Vishvakarma started to build the image. Or, to be more accurate, there were three different images. The first one was that of Baladeva or Balarama. This was completely white in colour, except for the eyes, which were red. The image was dressed in blue and a snake held its hood over Balarama's head. A club and a mace were in Balarama's hands. The second image was Krishna's. This was blue in colour, with eyes like lotus flowers. The image was dressed in yellow and had a chakra in its hand. The third image was that of Krishna's sister Subhadra. This image was golden in colour and was dressed in wonderful clothes.

When Indradyumna discovered that the images were made in a matter of minutes, he was thunderstruck. He realised that the two brahmanas cold not be mere mortals. He fell at their feet and said, "Please tell me who you are. You cannot be humans."

Vishnu and Vishvakarma then revealed their true selves and Indradyumna was thrilled. Vishnu blessed the king and told him that he would rule for ten thousand and nine hundred years. And even after Indradyumna died, a place would be reserved for him in heaven. On an auspicious day, the three images were instated in the temple.

Markandeya

Many years ago, a great destruction (Pralaya) took place. The earth was shrouded in darkness and nothing could be seen. There was neither sun nor moon. Lightning and thunder crushed mountains and trees. There were showers of meteors. Lakes and rivers dried up. The entire earth burnt with fire and the flames of the fire reached down to the underworld. All living beings perished in this fire, including the gods and the demons.

There was a sage named Markandeya. While all this was going on, Markandeya was busy meditating. Such was the power of Markandeya's tapasya that the fire dared not touch him. But it is also true that Markandeya was scared of the fire that raged all around him. He suffered from hunger and thirst and forgot all about his tapasya. His lips and throat dried up from fear. Markandeya discovered that there was a banyan tree that was untouched by all these ravages. He retired to the shade of the banyan tree and started to pray to Vishnu.

Clouds gathered in the sky. They were thick and dark clouds and they spread all over the earth. It started to rain and it poured and poured. Water was everywhere and the earth was flooded. The water put out the fire. It rained continuously for twelve years. The oceans flooded the shores and the mountains were pulverised. Vishnu slept on the water.

Markandeya did not know what to do. There was water everywhere and he floated on it. But he continued to pray to Vishnu.

Vishnu spoke to Markandeya. "Do not be frightened, Markandeya," he said. "You are devoted to me and I shall protect you."

Markandeya did not realise that it was Vishnu who was speaking. "Who dares to address me thus?" he demanded. "Am I a child that I should be so addressed? I am the great Markandeya, blessed by Brahma himself."

But try as he might, Markandeya cold not see anyone anywhere. Where had the voice come from then? Had it all been an illusion? Not knowing what to do, he started to pray again to Vishnu. Suddenly he saw the banyan tree floating on the water. A golden bed was spread on the branches of the tree and on the bed there slept a small boy. Markandeya was exceedingly surprised to see the small boy floating in the middle of this deluge. He was so confused by his illusions that he did not realise that this boy was none other than Vishnu.

The boy spoke to Markandeya. "You are tired," said the boy. "You are looking for a refuge. Enter my body and rest for some time."

Markandeya was so confused that, before he could react, he entered the boy's body through the mouth. Inside the boy's stomach Markandeya discovered all the worlds, the seven regions and the seven oceans. The mountains and the kingdoms were all there. So were all living beings.

Markandeya did not know what to make of all this. He started to pray to Vishnu. No sooner than he had started, he came out of the boy's mouth. Vishnu now appeared before him and blessed him. The sage spent a thousand years with Vishnu. Vishnu then asked, "I wish to grant you a boon. What is your desire?"

"I want to build a temple to Shiva in Purushaottama Kshetra," replied Markandeya. "This will prove to everyone that Vishnu and Shiva are really one and the same."

Vishnu granted the boon and Markandeya built a temple to Shiva known as Bhuvaneshvara (Lord of the World).

King Shveta

In Satya Yuga there used to be a king named Shveta. He was such a good king that during his reign people lived for ten thousand years. No one dies as a child. Longevity was high and there was no infant mortality.

But there was a sage named Kapalagoutama. Unfortunately, the sage's son died as an infant. The sage brought the dead body to Shveta and the king resolved that if he could not bring the sage's son back to life within a week, he would immolate himself in a fire. Having thus taken an oath, king Shveta worshipped Shiva with one thousand and one hundred blue lotus flowers. Shiva appeared before the king and granted the boon that the infant son might be brought back to life.

King Shveta ruled for a thousand years. He also built a temple to Vishnu in Purushaottama kshetra. The temple that had been built by Indradyumna was known as the temple of Jagannatha. Shveta's temple was not very far from this and was known as the temple of Shvetamadhava. The image in this temple was as white as the moon.

Bali

There was a king of the daityas named Bali. He was powerful and invincible. He was also righteous and truthful. The gods cold not bear to see Bali's prosperity and began to plot how Bali might be foiled. So well did Bali rule that disease, drought and evil disappeared throughout the three worlds.

In desperation, the gods approached Vishnu. "Please do something about Bali", they requested. "You always help us out when we are in trouble".

"There is no difference between Bali and the gods so far as I am concerned," replied Vishnu "Bali is devoted to me. I cannot therefore fight with him. But I will think of a way so that his kingdom might be taken away from him and given to you."

Vishnu decided to be born as Aditi's son. The son was a dwarf. This was the Vamana avatara (dwarf incarnation) of Vishnu.

Bali proposed to organise a horse sacrifice. Many sages came to the sacrifice and Shukracharya was the chief priest. The dwarf also arrived to witness the yajna.

Shukracharya realised that the dwarf was none other than Vishnu. He told Bali, "I suspect that this dwarf is Vishnu in disguise. He must have come here to ask you for something. Please do not grant him anything without first consulting me."

"Certainly not," replied Bali. "It is good fortune indeed that the great Vishnu has come to my house. What is there to consult about? I shall grant Vishnu whatever he wants."

Bali went to the dwarf to ascertain what the dwarf wanted. Vishnu expressed the wish that he might be given as much of land as might be covered in three of the dwarf's steps. This boon Bali readily granted. But no sooner than the boon had been granted, the dwarf adopted a gigantic form. He placed one foot on Bali's yajna and the second on Brahmaloka.

"Where will I place my third step?" demanded Vishnu. There is no more space left in the entire universe. Find me a place for my third step."

Bali smiled and said, "Place it on my back."

Vishnu was charmed at Bali's generosity. He granted Bali the boon that Bali would hold the title of Indra in a future manvantara. He then appointed Bali king of the underworld. But Indra's kingdom of heaven, which Bali had conquered, was returned to Indra.

Brahma had all this while been in Brahmaloka. When Vishnu placed his second foot on Brahmaloka, Brahma felt that he should welcome his water-pot (kamandalu) to wash the foot. The water spilled over from the foot and fell on the mountains. There the water divided into four. Vishnu accepted the flow that went northwards. The flow that went westwards returned to Brahma's kamandalu. The flow that went eastwards was gathered up by the gods and the sages. But the flow that went southwards got entangled in Shiva's matted hair. This water was the river Ganga.

Goutama

Part of the water of the Ganga that got stuck in Shiva's hair was brought down to earth by Bhagiratha. The remaining part was brought down by the sage Goutama.

Parvati was married to Shiva, but Shiva seemed to be fonder of Ganga than of Parvati. Parvati resolved that a way had to be found to remove Ganga from Shiva's hair. She tried persuasion, but Shiva refused to listen.

At this time, there was a terrible drought on earth which went on for fourteen years. The only place that was not affected by the drought was the sage Gouthama's hermitage. Other people also gathered in the hermitage to save themselves from the drought and Goutama welcomed them all. Ganesha thought that he might be able to devise a way to free his mother of the Ganga problem. He went and began to live in Gouthama's hermitage.

Ganesha cultivated the acquaintance of the other sages and become quite friendly with them. One of Parvati's companions was Jaya. Ganesha told Jaya that she was to adopt the form of a cow and eat up the grain in Goutama's fields. And the moment she was struck, she was to lie down on the ground and pretend to be dead.

Goutama noticed that a cow was eating up his grain. He tried to drive away the cow by striking it with a blade of grass. As soon as he did this, the cow uttered a Srill bellow and fell down on the ground. Ganesha and the other sages came running to see what had happened. They discovered that, to all intents and purposes, a cow had been struck down dead by sage Goutama. They therefore refused to stay in an ashrama where such a sin had been committed.

Goutama tried to restrain them. "Please do not go away and forsake me," he said. "Tell me how I may performed penance."

"You will have to bring down Ganga from Shiva's hair," replied Ganesh. "When that water touches the dead body of the cow, your sin will be forgiven."

"You will have to bring down Ganga from Shiva's hair," replied Ganesha. "When that water touches the dead body of the cow, your sin will be forgiven."

Ganesha was so friendly with the other sages that they all accepted his solution. Goutama also agreed to do the needful. Accordingly, Goutama went to Mount Kailasa and began to pray to Shiva. Shiva was pleased at Goutama's tapasya and offered to grant a boon. Goutama naturally wanted the boon that Ganga might be brought down to earth. Shiva agreed. It was thus that Ganga was brought down to earth by the sage Goutama. Ganga has four tributaries in heaven, seven on earth and four in the underworld. Since it was Goutama who brought Ganga down to earth, the river is also known as Goutami Ganga.

The Doves

In a mountain known as Brahmagiri there used to live a hunter who was very cruel. He not only killed birds and animals, but brahmanas and sages as well.

The hunter once went on a hunt. He killed many animals and birds and some he put in his cages. He had penetrated so far inside the forest that he was far from home. It became night and also started to rain. Hungry and thirsty, the hunter lost his way. He climbed up a tree and decided to spend the night there. But his mind kept going back to his wife and children at home.

For many years a dove and its family had lived happily on that tree. Both the male and female had gone out to look for food. But although the make dove had returned to the nest, the female dove had not. In fact, the female had been captured by the hunter and was now inside a cage. The male did not know this. He mourned for his wife.

These words of mourning were heard by the female dove inside the cage and she made her presence felt. The male dove came down and discovered his wife inside the cage. "The hunter is sleeping now, " he said. "Now is the time for me to free you."

"No," replied the female dove. "You know how it is with living beings. One living being lives on another. I can find not fault with the hunter, he is merely collecting his food. He is like a guest to us. And it is our duty to offer up our bodies for the sake of a guest."

"You are quite right," said the male dove. "I lost my sense of propriety. We have to serve our guest. But how do we serve our guest? We have nothing that we can call our own."

"At the moment the hunter is suffering most from the cold," replied the female dove. "We have to light a fire to warm him up. Go and find a fire and bring plenty of dead leaves and branches so that the fire may burn."

The male dove found a flaming branch. He also brought many dry leaves and branches so that the fire could burn. The rain had stopped and the fire warmed up the hunter.

"Now," said the female dove, "free me so that I may immolate myself in the fire. My roasted flesh will serve as food for the hunter."

"Never," replied the male dove. "It is my right to serve the guest first".

Saying this, the male dove hurled himself into the fire. The hunter had heard the entire conversation and marveled that two doves could be so altruistic. The female dove now requested the hunter to free her from the cage. And as soon as he did this, the female dove also hurled herself into the fire.

This selfless deed of the two doves was so wonderful that a space vehicle (Vimana) came down to take the two doves straight to heaven. The cruel hunter was also impressed and repented his past misdeeds. He told the doves, "You are indeed blessed. Before you go to heaven, please tell me how I may perform penance for my sins."

"Go to Goutami Ganga and bathe there for fifteen days," replied the doves. "Your sins will also be forgiven."

The hunter did as he had been asked to. The place where the doves immolated themselves became a holy tirtha known as kapotatirtha, since the word kapota means dove.

Garuda and Maninaga

You have already been told about the great snake (naga) Ananta. Ananta had a son named Maninaga. Garuda was the enemy of the snakes and the snakes were all afraid of Garuda.

Maninaga began to pray to Shiva. Having pleased Shiva, he obtained the boon that Garuda would be able to do him no harm. Armed with this boon, Maninaga started to wander around freely and did not run away even when faced with Garuda. Garuda found this to be exceedingly strange. Although he could not kill Maninaga, he captured him and kept him imprisoned in his own house.

Shiva had a companion named Nandi. Nandi told Shiva, "Lord, what has happened to Maninaga? We have not seen him for some time. I hope that Garuda has not done him some harm."

Shiva of curse knew what had happened. He advised Nandi to pray to Vishnu. Nandi was to please Vishnu and then ask for the boon that Maninaga might be freed from Garuda's imprisonment. Nandi did this and Vishnu asked Garuda to release Maninaga.

"Lord," Garuda told Vishnu, "this is very unfair. Other masters treat their servants really well. They give their servants gifts. See how Shiva has sent Nandi himself to rescue Shiva's devotee Maninaga. You never give me any gifts. Moreover, when I obtain something on my own, you ask me to relinquish it. Is this proper on your part? It is on me that you ride when you go out to fight the demons. They get defeated because of my prowess. And yet it tickles your ego no end to think that you have defeated them yourself."

Vishnu smiled and replied, "Garuda, you are quite right. You have become thin and learn from bearing my weight. It is quite true that I can defeat the demons only because of your prowess. You have a lot of strength. Why don't you bear the weight of my little finger and demonstrate your strength?"

Vishnu placed his little finger on Garuda's head. So heavy was the finger that Garuda was crushed against the ground.

"Please forgive me, said" Garuda. "I have been very stupid. I am an ignorant ass and you are the lord of everything. I have been completely flattened by the weight of your little finger. Please tell me how I may regain my old self."

Vishnu asked Nandi to take Garuda to Shiva. Shiva would find a way of restoring Garuda's old appearance. Maninaga was released and Nandi took Garuda to Shiva. Shiva asked Garuda to bathe in Goutami Ganga. This would make his appearance normal again.

Garuda did this. Not only was his old appearance restored, he became stronger and swifter than he used to be. The place where Garuda bathed is a tirtha known as Garudatirtha.

Vishvamitra and Indra

Many years ago, there was a terrible drought. There was no food to be had. The sage Vishvamitra had come to the banks of the river Goutami Ganga with his disciples. Vishvamitra's wife, children and disciples were all hungry. The sage therefore sent his disciples out to look for food. They searched everywhere, but could find no food. The only object that they could find was the body of a dead dog. They brought this to Vishvamitra.

"We have no choice," Vishvamitra told his disciples. "Clean the meat carefully with water. Then offer it to the gods, the sages and the ancestors. This is what we have to live on."

Offering the meat of a dog to the gods was unheard of. Indra adopted the form of a hawk and stole the vessel in which the meat was kept. But Vishvamitra got to know about this and got ready to curse Indra. Indra was naturally scared of Vishvamitra's curse. He changed the dog-meat into amrita (a heavenly drink) and brought the vessel back.

"I don't want amrita," Vishvamitra told Indra. "Bring the dog-meat back. I don't want to have amrita when the whole world is starving for food. There is no food available and I do not see any sin in eating dog-meat. Nor should there be a sin in offering it to the gods."

Indra was the god of rains. He realised that the only way to persuade Vishvamitra against eating the dog-meat was to make it rain so that there would be an end to the drought. Instructed by Indra, the clouds poured down rain. Vishvamitra and his disciples now consented to partake of the amrita.

The place where all this happened has come to be known as Vishvamitratirtha.

Shveta

There used to be a brahmana named Shveta. He was a friend of the sage Goutama and had a hermitage on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. Shveta was also devoted to Shiva. In due course, Shiveta died and Yama's messengers arrived to take Shveta to Yama. But they could not even enter Shiveta's house.

Finding that Yama's messengers ere not returning, Yama's companion Chitraka told Yama, "What do you think has happened? Why aren't the messengers returning?

Yama now sent his companion Mrityu (literally death) to find out what was going on. Mrityu went to Shveta's house and found Yama's messengers standing outside the house. They explained that they were unable to enter the house because Shiva himself was guarding Shveta's body. One of Shiva's companions asked Mrityu. "What are you doing here? What do you want?"

"I have come to take Shveta to Yama," replied Mrityu. "His time on earth is up."

Mrityu flung a noose to grasp Shveta's body. But Shiva's companion struck Mrityu with a rod and killed him. When the news of this was taken to Yama, he was furious. With all his companions he attacked Shveta's house. Nandi, Ganesha, Kartikeya and several of Shiva's companions came to fight on Shiva's side, and a battle royal raged. All the gods arrived to mediate and end the strife. Things had a got a bit out of hand and Yama himself had been killed by Kartikeya.

The problem seemed to defy solution. Yama was, after all, performing his duty. But Shiva insisted that his devotees would never be taken to Yama, but would instead go straight to heaven. Shiva's condition was finally agreed to. Nandi brought water from the Goutami Ganga and sprinkled it on Yama and the others who had died in the fighting. They were all immediately brought back to life.

Kubera

Kubera was the eldest son of the sage Vishrava. Vishrava had two wives. The fist wife give birth to Kubera. The second wife was a rakshasa (demon) woman and gave birth to Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibhishana. Kubera used to rule in Lanka and his relations with his cousins were extremely good. But Ravana's mother did not like idea of her sons mixing so much with Kubera.

She called her sons and said, "What are you up to? Why do you cause me so much of pain? You are demons and Kubera is a god. Is it proper that you should be so friendly with him? The relation between gods and demons is one of enmity. Consider Kubera's pomp and glory. Have you got anything like that to show for yourselves? Do something so as to improve your own statures." Thus instructed by their mother, Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibhishana went off to the forest to perform tapasya. They pleased Brahma with their prayers and desired the boon that they might win over the kingdom of Lanka. Ravana also obtained the boon that he would become very strong.

Thus fortified with the boons, the demons attacked Kubera and defeated him. They drove Kubera out of Lanka. Kubera possessed a beautiful Vimana named pushpaka. This was also appropriated by Ravana. Ravana also made it known that whoever gave Kubera refuge would be killed by him. This meant that no one dared give refuge to Kubera.

Kubera sought the advice of his grandfather Pulastya. Pulastya told him to go to the banks of the Goutami Ganga and pray to Shiva there. Shiva appeared before Kubera and blessed him with the boon that Kubera would become the god of all wealth.

Harishchandra

In the Ikshvaku dynasty there ruled a king named Harishchandra. Harishchandra had no son. One day two sages named Narada and Parvata came to visit Harishchandra and told him that he would go to hell if he did not have a son.

"How can I obtain a son?" asked Harishchandra.

"Go to the banks of the Goutami Ganga," advised the sages. "Pray to the god Varuna there. We are sure that Varuna will grant you a son."

Harishchandra pleased Varuna with his prayers and asked for a son.

"You will have a son," said Varuna. "But there is a condition attached. You will have to subsequently organise a yajna in my honor and you will have to sacrifice your son at this yajna. Tell me if this condition is acceptable to you."

"Yes indeed," replied Harishchandra.

In due course, Harishchandra had a son who was named Rohita.

Varuna came to Harishchandra and asked, "What about the yajna in my honor?"

"My son is still too young," replied Harishchandra. "Let him at least attain ten days of age. Till then, the baby is in any case impure and is not fit to be sacrificed."

After ten days Varuna came again and asked, "What about the yajna in my honor?

"Please let him grow his teeth," replied Harishchandra. "Animals are sacrificed at yajnas. And no one becomes an animal until he actually has teeth."

Varuna waited till the teeth grew and returned when Rohita was seven years of age. "What about the yajna in my honor?" he asked.

"These are only milk teeth," replied Harishchandra. "These do not characterise an animal. Please wait until his proper teeth have grown."

Varuna returned when the proper teeth grew and asked, "What about the yajna in my honor?"

"He is the son of kshatriya (the second of the four classes, a warrior class)," replied Harishchandra. "But his training in the art of fighting has not even begun. He cannot be called a kshatriya until he knows how to fight. Till that day he is an incomplete man. Do you really want such an incomplete man as a sacrifice?"

After some years had passed, Rohita became skilled in the art of fighting and was appointed the heir-apparent (yuvaraja) to the kingdom. He was then sixteen years of age.

Varuna appeared again and asked, "What about the yajna in my honor?"

This time the entire conversation took place in front of the prince and Rohita intervened before Harishchandra could say anything. "Father," he said, "I have already resolved to perform a yajna in Vishnu's honor. Grant me the permission to complete that first. After that, do what you will."

Rohita went off to the forest. Meanwhile, Varuna had had enough and he afflicted Harishchandra with a painful stomach ailment. News of his father's illness was taken to Rohita in the forest. In the forest, Rohita met a sage named Ajigarta. The sage was very poor and, together with his wife and three sons, was starving.

"Will you sell one of your three sons to me?" asked Rohita. "The boy is needed for a sacrifice."

"I shall not sell my eldest son," said the sage. "My wife will not permit the youngest one to be sold. You can have the one in the middle. His name is Shunahshepa. The price will be one thousand cows, one thousand golden coins, one thousand pieces of clothing and a lot of wealth."

Rohita paid the price and brought Shunahshepa home to Harishchandra.

"We can't do this," said Harishchandra. "It is the duty of kings to protect the brahmanas. How can we sacrifice the son of a brahmana? It is better to die instead. Go and return Shunahshepa to his father."

Just then a divine voice was heard from heaven. The voice said, "There is no need for anyone to die. Take Shunahshepa to the banks of the Goutami Ganga and perform the yajna to Varuna there. Goutami Ganga is such a sacred river that no human sacrifices are needed if a yajna is performed there.

This is what Harishchandra did not Varuna was satisfied. As for Shunahshepa, he was adopted by the sage Vishvamitra as a son.

Vriddhagoutama

The sage Goutama had a son named Vriddhagoutama. Vriddhagoutama was also a sage. But he was very ugly. Besides, he had no nose; had never had one since he had been born. He was so ashamed of this deformity that he could not bear to join the other children of the sages in studying the Vedas and Shastras under a teacher. But Vriddhagoutama knew some incantations (mantras) which he always chanted. He also worshipped the god Agni.

When he grew a bit older, Vriddhagoutama went out to tour the world. He traveled to many places and met many people. Since he was deformed, he never got married. Who would want to marry a person so ugly as he?

In the course of his travels, Vriddhagoutama arrived at a mountain named Shitagiri. He discovered a beautiful cave in the mountain and thought that this might be a good place to live in. So he entered the cave and was very surprised to find an old woman inside. The old woman had obviously been living inside the cave for many years. Her body was thin and wasted from the rigours of severe tapasya.

Vriddhagoutama was about to touch the feet of such a venerable old woman, but the woman restrained him. "Please don't touch my feet," said the woman. "You are my guru. Does a guru ever bow before his disciple?"

Vriddagoutama was surprised at these words. This was the first time in his life that he had met the old woman. "How can I be your guru?", he asked. "You are much older than me. Besides, I have never learnt anything and you are clearly a respected ascetic. Your words are a complete mystery to me."

"Let me tell you my story," said the old woman. "Otherwise, you will not understand."

There used to be a handsome and brave prince named Ritadhvaja. He was the son of King Arshtishena. Ritadhvaja went on a hunt to the forest and arrived at that very cave. There he happened to meet an apsara named Sushyama. The two fell in love with each other and got married. But eventually, Ritadhvaja had to return home and Sushyama gave birth to a daughter there. Sushyama left her daughter in the cave itself with the instruction that she was not to leave the cave. The first man to enter the cave would become her husband. It was this daughter who had now become the old woman. Ritadhvaja had reigned for eighty thousand years. After that, ritadhvaja's son had reigned for ten thousand years. All this while, Sushyama's daughter had lived in the cave, that is, for ninety thousand years all together.

"Now you see that you are to be my husband," said the old woman. "Is a husband not a guru?"

"What you say is quite impossible," replied Vriddhagoutama. "You are much older than me. I am only a thousand years old and you more than ninety thousand. How can we marry? I am like a child next to you."

"If you do not marry me, I will kill myself," said the old woman.

"But I am ugly," protested Vriddhagoutama. "I will promise you this much. If I every become handsome and learned, I will indeed marry you."

"I have pleased the goddess Sarasvati, who presides over all learning, through my tapasya," said the old woman. "She will make you learned. I have also pleased the god Varuna and he will make you handsome."

Vriddhagoutama became handsome and learned and married the old woman. They lived happily in the cave.

One day, various sages came to visit the couple. Amongst them there were sages like Vashishtha and Vamadeva. But there were also young sages who ere not all that sensible. The younger sages started to laugh at the sight of the young and handsome Vriddhagoutama and his aged wife.

"Who is this man?" they asked the old woman. "Is he your son or your grandson?"

The sages went away, but the couple felt ashamed. They asked the sage Agastya what they might do. Agastya told them to go and bathe in the river Goutami Ganga. The river is so sacred that all one's heart's desires are thereby granted. The couple did this and prayed to Vishnu and Shiva. Wonder of wonders, the old woman became young and pretty. The place on the banks of the river where these wonderful things happened is a tirtha named Vriddhasangama.

Pippalada

Many years ago, there used to be a sage named Dadhici. His wife was Lopamudra. Dadhichi's hermitage was right next to the holy river Ganga. Lopamudra's sister Gabhastini also used to live in the hermitage. Such was the sage Dadhichi's powers that daityas and danavas dared not set foot inside the hermitage.

The gods once fought with the demons and managed to defeat them. After the war was over, they came to pay their respects to Dadhichi. Dadhichi welcomed his guests and wanted to know how they were faring.

"Thanks to your blessings, we are fine," replied the gods. "We have just defeated the demons in a war. In fact, we have a slight problem. We no longer need our weapons now that the demons have run away. We don't know of a safe place where we can store all these weapons. We were wondering if we might keep the weapons in your ashrama. This is one of the safest places that can be found."

Dadhichi consented to this proposal. The gods left their weapons in the hermitage and went back to heaven.

When Lopamudra heard what Dadhichi had done, she was not at all pleased. "You have done something that is mot improper," she told her husband. "one should never accept responsibility for someone else's property, especially if one is an ascetic and has not material possessions of one's own. Moreover, you have agreed to store the weapons of the gods. Dose this not mean that those who are the god's enemies will look upon you too as an enemy? And what are you going to do if something should happen to the weapons? Will the gods not blame you then?"

"Your points are well taken," said Dadhichi. "But I had not thought of them and I have given the gods my word. I can't very well go back on my word now."

A hundred years passed. The gods did not return to collect their weapons. The weapons began to lose their luster, Dadhichi did not know how the energy of the weapons might be preserved. He washed them with holy water and the energy of the weapons got dissolve in the water. Dadhichi then drank up the water. As for the weapons themselves, they faded away once their energy was gone.

Finally the gods came to claim their weapons. "Can we have our weapons back? They asked.

"Our enemies have become powerful again. We need our weapons."

"That may be," said Dadhichi. "But the weapons are no longer there. I have swallowed up their energy. Let me tell you what can be done. I will use the powers of meditation (yoga) to give up my life. Then excellent weapons can be made out of my bones.

The gods were reluctant, but thee was no other solution. Dadhichi died and the gods requested Vishvakarma to make weapons for them out of Dadhichi's bones. Vishvakarma complied and the weapon name vajra that he made was truly remarkable.

Lopamudra was away when this incident took place. She returned and found that her husband had died. She was afflicted with sorrow and wished to immolate herself in a fire. But she happened to be pregnant at the time, so that this could not immediately be done. Once the baby was born, she killed herself after having handed over the baby to a pippala (fig) tree for rearing.

Since the pippala tree brought up the boy, he came to be known as Pippalada. Chandra was the lord over all trees. The trees asked Chandra for some amrita for Pippalada and Chandra obliged. The amrita gave Pippalada a lot of strength.

When Pippalada grew up, he wanted to know who his parents were and the trees told him the story. Pippalada blamed the gods for his parents death and decided to seek revenge. The trees brought Pippalada to Chandra.

"You are still too young," said Chandra. "First you must become learned and well-versed in the use of weapons. Go to the forest of dandakaranya. The river Goutami Ganga flows through that forest. Pray to Shiva there and I am sure that your wishes will be fulfilled."

Pippalada pleased Shiva through his prayers.

"What boon do you desire?" asked Shiva.

I want the boon that I may be able to destroy the gods," replied Pippalada.

"I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead," said Shiva. "The day you can see my third eye, your wish will be granted."

"I have a third eye in the middle of my forehead," said Shiva. "the day you can see my third eye, your wish will be granted."

Try as he might, Pippalada could not see Shiva's third eye. Pippalada therefore performed even more difficult tapasya for even more years. Eventually he managed to see Shiva's third eye. From Shiva's third eye was born a demon that looked like a mare.

"What is your desire?" asked the demon of Pippalada.

"Kill my enemies, the gods," was the reply.

The demon immediately attacked Pippalada.

"What are you doing?" asked Pippalada. "Why are you trying to kill me? I asked you to kill the gods."

"But your body has bee created by the gods," replied the demon. "I will therefore kill you also."

Pippalada ran to Shiva for deliverance. Shiva earmarked a region inside the forest for Pippalada. There the demon was not permitted to enter. Pippalada lived there, protected from the ravages of the demon. Meanwhile, the gods requested Shiva to save them as well. Shiva persuaded Pippalada to control his anger. He convinced Pippalada that nothing was to be gained by killing the gods. That would not bring his parents back.

Pippalada agreed. But he wished to see his parents once. Accordingly, Vimana descended from heaven on which Dadhichi and Lopamudra were seated. They blessed Pippalada and asked him to marry and have children.

As for the demon, it became a river and merged with the holy Ganga.

Nageshvara

There was a city named Pratishthana. A king named Shurasena ruled in that city. Shurasena did not have any sons. After a lot of effort, a son was born to him. But the son happened to be a snake. The king and the queen were mortified at this turn of events. But they brought up their son in great secrecy. Not even the king's ministers and priests knew that the prince was a snake.

When the prince grew slightly, he began to talk like a human, even though he was a snake. King Shurasena arranged for the prince's education. After the snake had become learned in the knowledge of the Vedas, he told his father, "Father, it is time for me to get married. If I do not have a son, I am certain to go to naraka."

King Shurasena was very surprised to hear this. "How is that possible?" he asked. "Which princess will consent to marry a snake?"

"I don't know," replied the prince. "But I do know that I have to get married. Other wise, I will commit suicide. There are many forms of marriage that are permissible. Perhaps a princess can be kidnapped and married to me."

Shurasena called his ministers and told them, "My son Nageshvara has now come of age. He has also been made the heir-apparent to the kingdom. There is no one equal to him in bravery on earth, in heaven or in the underworld. I am getting old. Please arrange for Nageshvara to get married. I shall then relinquish my kingdom and retire to the forest."

The king did not of course tell his ministers that Nageshvara was a snake.

Shurasena had an aged minister. This minister reported that there was a king named Vijaya who ruled in the eastern part of the country. King Vijaya had eight sons and one daughter. The daughter's name was Bhogavati and she was very beautiful. She would be the right match for Nageshvara.

The aged minister was sent as a messenger to Vijaya and the king agreed to the match. There was a custom amongst kshatriyas that the bride did not always have to be married to the bridegroom in person. She could also be married to the bridegroom's sword or some other weapon. The minister explained to King Vijaya that there were some private reasons which made it impossible for Nageshvara to come in person for the marriage. Bhogavati should be married off to Nageshvara's sword. Vijaya consented to this and the marriage ceremony was performed. The entire retinue then returned to the city of Pratishthana.

But what was to be done now that the marriage was over? Nageshvara's mother sent a made to Bhogavati. The maid was to tell Bhogavati that her husband was actually a snake and then observe her reaction.

The maid told Bhogavati, "Your husband is a god, but he has the form of a snake."

"That is my good fortune," replied Bhoavati. "Normally, women are married to men. I must have performed many good deeds in my earlier life to have been married to a god."

Bhogavati was then brought to Nageshvara and at the sight of Bhogavati, Nageshvara remembered his earlier life. He used to be a snake (naga) in his earlier life and was a companion of Shiva's. His wife in the earlier life was Bhogavati.

There had bee an occasion when Shiva had laughed at a joke of parvati's and Nageshvara had also laughed. This had annoyed Shiva and he had cursed Nageshvara that he would be born on earth as the son of a human, but in the form of a snake. When he went and bathed in Goutami Ganga, the period of the curse would be over. When Nageshvara recounted these incidents to Bhogavati, she also remembered her earlier life. The two went and bathed in the scared river and Nageshvara obtained a handsome and divine form. Nageshavara ruled after Shurasena's death. And when Nageshvara and Bhogavati died, they went back to Kailasa to live with Shiva.

On the banks of the Goutami Ganga, Nageshvara and Bhogavati built a temple to Shiva. This is a famous tirtha known as Nagatirtha.

Brahma's Head

Years ago, there was a war between the gods and the demons and the gods lost. The gods came to Brahma for advice and Brahma asked them to pray to Shiva.

When Shiva appeared before them, the gods said, "The demons have defeated us. Please kill them and save us."

Shiva went to fight with the demons. He drove the demons off from Mount Sumeru and out of heaven. He pursued them to the ends of the earth. All this exertion made Shiva sweat. And wherever the drops of sweat fell down on the ground, terrible ogresses named matris were created. The matris also started to kill the demons and pursued them down to the underworld.

While the matris were killing the demons in the underworld, Brahma and the other dos waited on the banks of the river Goutami Ganga. This place came to be known as Pratishthana.

When the matris had killed all the demons, they returned to earth and began to live on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. This tirtha has come to be known as matritirtha.

Brahma used to have five heads. The fifth head was in the shape of a donkey's head. When the demons were running away to the underworld, this donkey's head addressed the demons and said, "why are you running away? Come back and fight with the gods. I shall aid you in your fight."

The gods were alarmed at this paradoxical situation. Brahma was helping them in their flight with the demons and Brahma's fifth head was trying to help the demons. They went to Vishnu and said, "Please cut off Brahma's fifth head. It is causing too much of confusion."

"I can do what you want," replied Vishnu, "but there is a problem. When the cut-off head falls on earth, it will destroy the earth. I think you should pray to Shiva to find a way out."

The gods prayed to Shiva and Shiva agreed to cut off the head. But what was to be done with the severed head? The earth refused to bear it and so did the ocean. Finally it was decided that Shiva himself would bear the head.

The place where Shiva cut off Brahma's fifth head is known as rudratirtha. Ever since that day, Brahma has had four heads and is known as Chaturmukha (chatur connotes four and mukha connotes face). There is a temple to Brahma on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. This is a holy place known as brahmatirtha. A killer of brahmanas is pardoned his sin if he visits this temple.

The Owl and the Dove

A dove used to live on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. The dove's name was Anuhrada and its wife's name was Heti. Anuhrada was Yama's grandson.

Not very far away, there lived an owl named Uluka. The owl's wife was called Uluki. The owls were descended from the god Agni.

The doves and the owls were enemies. They fought amongst themselves continually. The doves had received all sorts of weapons from Yama and the owls had received all sorts of weapons from Agni. These divine weapons threatened to burn up everything. But Yama and Agni intervened. They persuaded the owls and the doves to forget their enmity and live together as friends. The place where the doves lived came to be known as a tirtha named yamyatirtha. And the place where the owls lived came to be known as Agnitirtha.

The Hunter

There was a sage named Veda. He used to pray to Shiva every day. The prayers lasted till the afternoon and after the prayers were over, Veda used to go to the nearby villages to beg alms.

A hunter named Bhilla used to come to the forest every afternoon to hunt. After the hunt was over, he used to come to Shiva's linga (image) and offer to Shiva whatever it was that he had hunted. In the process of doing this, he often moved Veda's offerings out of the way. Strange though it might seem, Shiva was stirred by Bhilla's offerings and eagerly used to wait for it every day. Bhilla and Veda never met. But Veda noticed that every day his offerings lay scattered and a little bit of meat lay by the side. Since this always happened when Veda had gone out to beg for alms, Veda did not know who was responsible. One day, he decided to wait in hiding so as to catch the culprit red-handed.

While Veda waited, Bhilla arrived and offered what he had brought to Shiva. Veda was amazed to discover that Shiva himself appeared before Bhilla and asked, "Why are you late today? I have been waiting for you. Did you get very tired?"

Bhilla went away after making his offerings. But Veda came up to Shiva and said, "What is all this? This is a cruel and evil hunter, and yet, you appear before him. I have been performing tapasya for so many years and you never appear before me. I am disgusted at this partiality. I will break your linga with this stone."

"Do it if you must," replied Shiva. "But please wait till tomorrow."

Next day, when Veda came to present his offerings, he found traces of blood on top of the linga. He carefully washed away the traces of blood and completed his prayers.

After some time, Bhilla also came to present his offerings and discovered traces of blood on top of the linga. He thought that he was in some way responsible for this and blamed himself for some unknown transgression. He picked up a sharp arrow and began to pierce his body repeatedly with this arrow as punishment.

Shiva appeared before both of them and said, "Now you see the difference between Veda and Bhilla. Veda has given me his offerings, but Bhilla has given me his whole soul. That is the difference between ritual and true devotion."

The place where Bhilla used to pray to Shiva is a famous tirtha known as bhillatirtha.

Goutama and Manikundala

There was a city named Bhouvana. In that city there lived a brahmana named Goutama. The brahmana had a vaishya (trader and agriculture caste) friend named Manikundala.

Goutama's mother gave him a lot of ill advice. As a result of this, Goutama told Manikundala, "Let us go to other countries to trade and make profits."

"But my father has a lot of wealth," replied Manikundala. "What is the need to obtain more wealth?"

"You don't have the proper perspective," said Goutama. "A successful person is one who does not thrive on what is left to him by his father. He makes his own fortune."

Manikundala was convinced by Gountama's logic. He did not realise that his so-called friend was out to defraud him.

The two friends set out on their journey, Manikundala providing all the capital.

In the course of their travels Goutama remarked, "Have you noticed how those who follow the path of dharma (righteousness) always suffer? They are neither wealthy nor happy. There seems to be no point in being righteous."

"Please don't say that," protested manikundala. "Happiness lies in following the path of dharma. Poverty and misery are inevitable, they are of no account at all."

The two friends argued over this, but could not decide who was right. They resolved to have a bet. They would ask the opinions of others. And whoever lost the bet would surrender all his wealth to the winner. They asked many people for their opinions. Naturally most people said that it was the evil who thrived and prospered. And it was the righteous who suffered. The upshot of this was that Manikundala surrendered all his wealth to Goutama. But Manikundala continued to praise dharma.

"You are an utter ass," said Goutama. "Haven't you lost all your wealth to me? Yet you continue to praise dharma."

"The wealth is of no account at all," replied Manikundala. "Dharma is on my side and your apparent victory is only an illusion. Dharma will triumph in the end."

The two friends decided to have another bet. This time it was agreed that whoever lost the bet would have his two arms chopped off. They again asked several people and most people said that is was adharma (evil) which triumphed. So Manikundala lost his two arms.

"How does it feel now?" asked Goutama.

"The same as ever," replied Manikundala. "What is important is dharma. And dharma is on my side."

Goutama lost his temper at this. He threatened to cut off Manikundala's head if Manikundala persisted in his praise of dharma. But Manikundala was unperturbed. The friends decided to have another bet. This time it was agreed that whoever lost would forfeit his life. Manikundala lost yet again. And Goutama gouged out Manikundala's eyes and left him for dead.

Manikundala lay on the banks of the Goutami Ganga and pondered about the fate that had befallen him. It became night.

There was an image of Vishnu on the banks of the river and the rakshasa Vibhishana used to come there every night to pray to Vishnu. Vibhishana's son discovered Manikundala lying there and found out from him the entire story. He recounted the story to his father.

"Many years ago, I had joined Rama in his fight with Ravana," Vibhishana told his son. "Ragvana's son Meghanada shot a venomous arrow at Rama's brother Lakshmana. Lakshmana fell unconscious. The monkey Hanuman then went to the Himalayas and brought a mountain named Grandhamadana to Lanka. On that mountain there was a wonderful herb named vishalyakarani which cures all illnesses. When Hanuman returned the mountain to the Himalayas, a bit of the vishalyakarani fell down at this spot. Near Vishnu's image. Let us try and find it. We should be able to cure Manikundala."

Father and son hunted for the herb. The vishalyakarani had become a huge tree. They lopped off a branch and placed it on Manikundala's chest. Manikundala immediately regained his eyes and arms. After curing Manikundala, Vibhishana and his retinue returned to Lanka.

Manikundala began to travel. He eventually came to a city named Mahapura where a king named Maharaja ruled. Maharaja had no sons, only a daughter. The daughter was blind. Maharaja had announced that whoever cured his daughter would become his son-in-law and rule after him. Manikundala cured the princess with his knowledge of the vishalyakarani. He then married the princess and became king of Mahapura after Maharaja.

Many years later, Goutama was brought before Manikundala by the soldiers. He had been arrested on the charge of committing a crime. Goutama had lost all his wealth by then and was no more than a beggar. Manikundala pardoned his friend and shared with him whatever he had.

Such are the virtues of following the path of dharma. There are many tirthas along the banks of the Goutami Ganga where these wonderful incidents took place.

Kandu

There was a sage named Kandu. He had a hermitage on the banks of the Goutami Ganga. The ashrama was a beautiful place and Kandu performed very difficult tapasya there. In the summer Kandu meditated in the hot sun, in the monsoon he meditated on the wet ground, and in the winter he meditated dressed in wet clothing.

Indra got sacred as a result of all this tapasya. He thought that the sage Kandu might want to become Indra the king of the gods. He therefore called an apsara named disturb Kandu's tapasya."

Pramalocha went to the hermitage and began to sing there in a beautiful voice. This disturbed Kandu and he discovered a beautiful woman wandering around in his ashrama.

"Who are you?" Kandu asked the woman.

"I have come here to pluck flowers," replied Pramalocha. "I am your servant. I will do whatever you wish me to."

Kandu had fallen in love with Pramalocha and he married her. He forgot all about his tapasya and Indra heaved a sigh of relief. Years passed. Pramalocha wished to return to heaven, but Kandu would not let her.

After years and years had passed, Kandu came out of his hut, looking rather distracted. It was then evening and Kandu was obviously going somewhere.

"Where are you going?" Pramalocha asked.

"What a stupid question!" exclaimed Kandu. "Can't you see that it is now evening? I have got to go and observe the evening rites. The day has passed."

"What day?", asked Pramalocha. "Several days have passed and several evenings have come and gone."

"No, you came here this morning," said Kandu. "I brought you to my hut and it is now evening, I don't understand what you are trying to say. Explain yourself."

"It is true that I came here in the morning," answered Pramalocha. "But that was a morning which dawned many years ago. Hundreds of years have passed since that day."

"How many years?" asked Kandu. "When did you come here?'

"Sixteen hundred years, six months and three days ago," replied Pramalocha.

"Are you sure?" asked Kandu. "It seems like a single day to me."

"I am sure," said Pramalocha. "I dare not lie to you."

"You have dislodged me from my tapasya," responded Kandu. "But I will not curse you, since you have been my wife. Go back to heaven. I have to atone for my sins."

The sage Kandu went to Purshottama kshetra and performed penance for his sins. He was blessed by Vishnu.

Kandu and Pramalocha had a daughter named Marisha.

The Brahma Purana also describes several other tirthas. Most of these are on the banks of the river Goutami Ganga. This is now identified as the river Godavari.

After describing these several tirthas, the text describes incidents in Krishna's life. These we will skip, since they are described in much greater detail in the other Puranas.

VarnA Ashrama

There are four varnas (classes). Their names are brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya and shudra.

The duties of a brahmana are to donate alms, perform tapasya, worship the gods, perform yajnas and study the Vedas. To earn a living, brahmanas are authorized to teach and act as priests at sacrifices. The duties of kshatriya are to beat arms and protect the earth, donate alms and perform sacrifices. A kshatriya is also permitted to study the shastras. The duties of a vaishya are agriculture, animal husbandry and trade. That apart, vaishyas should donate alms, perform sacrifices and study the shastras. The duties of a shudra are to serve brahmanas. Shudras can also be shopkeepers and artisans.

In times of emergency, a brahmana is allowed to adopt the livelihoods of kshatriyas or vaishyas to earn a living. In similar fashion, a kshatriya is permitted to adopt the livelihoods of vaishyas or shudras and a vaishya is permitted to adopt the livelihoods of shudras.

There are four ashramas (stages of life) as well. The first of these is known as brahmacharya (celibate studenthood). During this period, the individual spends his days with his guru and studies the Vedas well. He has to serve his guru in proper fashion and live on alms. The next ashrama is that of Grihastha (householder stage). The individual now gets married and has children. He serves the gods, the sages, the ancestors and guests. It is householders who provide alms for sages and hermits. That is the reason why the householder stage is so very important. The third ashrama is known as vanaprastha (forest-dwelling stage). The individual now retires to the forest and withdraws his mind from the earthly life. He can leave his wife in the care of his sons or take her with him. He lives on roots, fruits and leaves and makes a bed for himself under the trees. He is not permitted to shave or cut his hair and his clothes have to be made out of bark or skins. The final ashrama is that of sannyasa (hermithood). A hermit gives up all association with the world and lives alone. He grows completely detached. He lives alone. He gets his food through begging. He is not permitted to spend more than one night in a village, or more than five nights at a time in a city.

The Chandala and the Brahmarakshasa

A chandala is an outcast. On the outskirts of the city named Avanti lived a chandala. There was a temple of Vishnu in Avanti and the chandala was devoted to Vishnu. He was also a good singer. Ekadashi tithi is the eleventh lunar day. Every month, on ekadashi tithi, the chandala would fast during the day. At night he would go to Vishnu's temple and sing praises of Vishnu. He never failed to observe this ritual.

The river Kshipra (Shipra) flowed by the city of Avanti. On one particular night, on ekadashi tithi, the chandala went to the banks of the river to collect some flowers for worshipping Vishnu. On the banks of the river there was a tree and on that tree there lived a brahmarakshasa (demon). As soon as the demon saw the chandala, it wished to devour him.

"Please not tonight," said the chandala. "I have to worship Vishnu throughout the night. Let me go now."

"Not on you life," replied the demon. "I have not eaten for ten days and I am famished. I can't let you go."

"Please, " said the chandala, "let me go. I promise that I will come back once the prayers are over. You will then be free to do with me as you will."

The demon let the chandala go. The chandala went to the temple. He worshipped Vishnu and spent the night in singing Vishnu's praises. Next day, he returned to the demon.

"I am indeed surprised," said the demon. "You are very truthful. You can't be a chandala. You must be a brahmana. Answer my questions. What did you do all night?"

"I stood outside Vishnu's temple and sang his praise," replied the chandala.

"For how long have you been doing this?" asked the demon.

"For twenty years," was the chandala's reply.

"You have acquired a lot of punya (store of merit) through this," said the demon. "Please grant me one night's punya, I am sinner."

"No," replied the chandala. "I will not part with my punya. I have given you my body, eat me if you will. But the punya is mine own."

"Very well then,' said the demon. "Give me two hours' worth of punya. I am a sinner."

"I have told you I will not give you any of my punya," replied the chandala. "But what is your sin?"

The brahmarakshasa related his story. His name was Somasharma and he was the son of Devasharma. Devasharma was a righteous brahmana. But Somasharma fell into evil ways. A brahmana is not authorised to act as a priest in a sacrifice before he has had his sacred-thread ceremony (upanayana). But Somasharma became a priest at a yajna even though his upanayana had not been held. As a result of this sin, when he died, he became a demon. The chandala was stirred to pity at this sad story and parted with some of his punya. The demon was delighted and expressed his gratitude. He went to a tirtha and performed penance. Thus it was that the demon was freed.

What about the chandala? He returned home and then left for a tour of all the sacred places of pilgrimage. At one such tirtha. He remembered the story of his earlier life.

He used to be a hermit well-versed in the Vedas and the shastras. He used to beg alms for a living. Once he had obtained some alms. But some thieves were then in the process of stealing cows, and the hooves of the cows raised a cloud of dust. The dust fell onto the food and the hermit threw away the alms in disgust. Since he had thrown away alms, he was born as a chandala. After performing penance for this sin, the chandala was pardoned.

Yoga

The word yoga means union. Yoga is thus a form of meditation that unites the human soul (atman) with the divine soul (Paramatman), or equivalently, with the divine essence (Brahman).

A practitioner of yoga has to study the Puranas, the Vedas and history He has to exercise restraint regarding the sort of food he eats. The best forms of food are yoghurt fruits, roots and milk. Yoga should be practiced in a place that is pleasant. It should not be too hot or too cold there. Nor should there be any noise to distract the practitioner.

Yoga has to be performed in a proper posture (asana). The practitioner concentrates the entire focus of his mind on the tip of his nose. He contemplates the form of brahmana. This can only be successful if one is detached and controls one's senses completely.

If yoga is performed properly, there comes the knowledge that the same Paramatman is in all living beings. To think that living beings are distinct from one another is only to fall prey to one's illusions. All the elements have the same Paramatman in them.

Epilogue

Romaharshana said to the sages who had assembled in naimisharanya, "Many years ago, the great Veda Vyasa had recited the adi Purana to sages. The sages had been delighted to learn the wisdom that was in the great Brahma Purana. Whatever Veda Vyasa had told those sages, I have now recited before you. Everyone should listen to a recital of this Purana, be he a householder or a hermit."

A brahmana who listens to a recital of the Brahma Purana becomes learned, a kshatriya becomes victorious, a vaishya becomes rich and a shudra achieves happiness. One who listens to the recital faithfully attains all his wishes. The fruits of listening to such a recital are superior to visiting the most holy of tirthas or performing the most difficult of yajnas.

Romaharshana blessed the sages and returned to his own hermitage, with the express injunction that the secrets of the Purana should never be divulged to atheists who did not believe in God.

Home

2. PADMA PURANA

SRISHTI-KHAND

Having revealed the contents of all the Puranas to his son Ugrashrava, Sage Lomaharshan instructed him to go to 'Naimisharanya' and spread it among the sages doing penance over there.

There is an interesting tale how this sacrosanct forest of Naimish derived its name --

Once, the sages sought Lord Vishnu's help in finding a suitable place, where they could perform their religious activities unhindered. Lord Vishnu released his chakra and instructed them to follow it. 'This chakra had many circumferences (Nemi) and all of you can commence your penance at the place where one of them gets detached from the chakra' ---said Lord Vishnu.

The Sages followed the chakra as per the instruction of Lord Vishnu. Once of the circumferences of chakra got detached and fell at a place called Gangavarta. In course of time this particular place was famous as 'Naimish' because the term 'Nemi' in Sanskrit means circumference. When Ugrashrava who was popularly known as 'Suta' reached 'Naimisharnya' all the sages received him with enlighten all the sages on the divine tales of Padma Purana.

Suta replied--- Padma Purana consists of five sections and fifty-five thousand shlokas. The names of these sections are Srishti-Khand, Bhumi-Khand, Swarg Khand, Patal Khand and Uttam-Khand. The tales of Padma Purana praise the glory of Lord Vishnu. These tales were narrated to Lord Brahma by Lord Vishnu himself, who in turn propagated them in this world through various sages.

THE BEGINNING OF CREATION

The Sages requested Suta to narrate about the incident when sage Pulastya had met Bhishma. Suta replied--- Bhishma was doing penance at a place called Gangadwar. Being pleased by his austere penance, Lord Brahma instructed Pulastya to go to Gangadwar and bless Bhishma.

After reaching there, Pulastya told Bhishma that Lord Brahma was pleased by his penance. 'Ask any boon you wish for' said Pulastya. Bhishma thanked his good fortune of getting a chance to meet Sage Pulastya. He requested Pulastya to reveal how Lord Brahma had created the world.

Pulastya replied--- During the initial phase of his creation, Lord Brahma created the Mahattatva first of all. After that he created the three types of Ego from the Mahattatva---Satva, Rajas and Tamas. These three types of Ego are the origins of all the five sense-organs, organs of action and all the five basic elements--space, water, fire, air and earth.

An enormous egg came into existence with the permutation and combination of these five basic elements. Within this egg exists the whole universe including the mountains, islands, oceans, planets, deities, demons and the human beings. The layers of water, fire, air, space and darkness envelop this enormous egg. These elements are once again covered by the 'Mahattatva', which in turn is enveloped by the 'Prakriti' (nature). Lord Vishnu himself does creation in the form of Lord Brahma and also takes various incarnations to protect the mankind. At the end of the Kalpa, it is only He, who annihilates in the form of Rudra. After the end of Kalpa, he takes rest on the back of Sheshnag for the full period of deluge.

BRAHMA'S LIFESPAN AND CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER OF THE 'ERAS'

Pulastya says---Lord Brahma, the embodiment of Lord Vishnu has a lifespan of one hundred years. His lifespan is also called 'Par', and half of its period is known as 'Parardha'. One 'Kashtha' consists of 15 Nimesha while a Kala consists of 30 'Kashthas'. A muhurta consists of 30 Kalas. The periods of 30 muhurtas are equal to one day and Night of the human beings. A month of this world is equivalent to 30 days and nights. Six months make an 'Ayan' and a year consists of two 'Ayans'. These two 'Ayans' are also known by two other names---Dakshainayan and Uttarayan. Dakshainayan is the night of the deities where as Uttarayan is their day.

Four yugas are equivalent to twelve thousand years of the deities, which occur in a cyclic order---Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. The periods of these yugas are as follows---

Satya Yuga- 4000 years. Treta Yuga - 3000 years. Dwapar Yuga- 2000 years. Kali Yuga- 1000 years. Total - 10,000 years.

Each yuga is followed by the hibernation periods of Sandhya and Sandhyansh, which are as follows—Sandhya, Sandhyansh

Satya Yuga 400, 400. Treta Yuga 300, 300. Dwapar Yuga 200, 200. Kali Yuga 100, 100. Total 1000 years 1000 years.

Four yuga are collectively known as 'Chaturyuga'. A Brahma's day consists of one-thousand such 'Chaturyugas'. Altogether, fourteen Manu appear during this whole period of 1000 Chaturgas or in other words a day of Lord Brahma. Each 'Manvantar' is named after a Manu and is equivalent to little more than 71 Chaturyugas. It also has its own Indra, Saptarishis and other deities. This way, a manvantar is also equivalent to 8,52,000 years of the deities or divine years. Going by the standard of the years of this world a manvantar is equivalent to 30,67,20,000 years. On the basis of the years of this world, a Brahma's day is equivalent to 30,67,20,000 x 14 = 4,29,40,80,000 years. This is the period after which a Brahma's day is over and a deluge takes place when all the three worlds becomes devoid of life due to unbearable heat. Lord Brahma then takes rest for the same period (4,29,40,80,000 years) which is his night.

After the night is over, Lord Brahma again commences his creation. So, this process continues for the whole period of Brahma's life span, i.e. 100 years." Bhisma requested Sage Pulastya to describe how Lord Brahma created life in the beginning of the present Kalpa.

Pulastya replied--- At the end of the previous kalpa when Lord Brahma awakened from his sleep, he found the whole earth submerged in water. He meditated on Lord Vishnu, who took the incarnation of Varaha and retrieved the earth and established it in its original position. Lord Brahma then created all the four worlds--Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Swargloka and Maharloka and divided the earth into seven islands.

First of all, Lord Brahma created the 'Mahattatva'. After that he created the 'Tanmatras', Indriyas (sense-organs), the immovable things like mountains, rivers, animals, deities, demons, human beings etc.

THE FOUR PROMINENT CASTES

On being asked by Bhishma about the origin of the four prominent castes, Sage Pulastya said--- Lord Brahma created the Brahmins and the Kshatriyas from his mouth and chest respectively. Similarly, Vaishyas and Shudras manifested from Lord Brahma's thigh and feet respectively.Lord Brahma had created his 'manasputras' with the objective of increasing the population and their names were Bhrigu, Pulah, Kratu, Angira, Marichi, Daksha, Atri and Vashishtha. But all of them were free from worldly desires and extremely virtuous. Seeing his effort go in vain, Lord Brahma became furious, as a result of which Rudra manifested from his forehead. Half of Rudra's body resembled like a male while the remaining half appeared like a female. Lord Brahma instructed Rudra to detach the female form from his body and commence copulative creation. Following his advice, Rudra detached the female part of his body and created eleven male entities. Similarly he created various female entities from the female part of his body.

This way, the first human pair- Manu and Shatarupa came into existence. In course of time four children were born to them---Priyavrata, Uttanpad, Prasuti and Akuti. Prasuti was married to Daksha Prajpati, while Akuti became the wife of Ruchi Prajapati. Prasuti gave birth to 24 daughters-- Shradha, Lakshmi, Dhriti, Pushti, Tushti, Medha, Kriya, Buddhi, Lajja, Vapu, Shanti, Keerti, Khyati, Sati, Sambhuti, Smriti, Preeti, Kshama, Santati, Ansuya, Urja, Swaha and Swadha. Out of them, the former thirteen were the wives of Dharma and the rest were married to various sages like Bhrigu, Shiva, Marichi, Angira, myself (Pulastya), Pulaha, Kratu, Atri, Vashishtha, Agni, etc. Shradha gave birth to 'Kam', Lakshmi to 'Darpa, Dhriti to Niyam, Tushti to Santosh, Pushti to Lobha, Medha to Shrut, Kriya to Dand, Nay and Vinay, Buddhi to Bodh, Lajja to Vinay, Vapu to Vyavasay, Shanti to Kshama, Siddhi to Sukh and Keerti gave birth to Yash. All of them were the sons of Dharma.

Kam had a son named Harsh from his wife Nandi, Bhrigu's wife Khyati gave birth to a daughter named Lakshmi--the consort of Lord Vishnu. Lord Rudra accepted Sati--the daughter of Daksha Prajapati as his wife. Hinsa was the wife of Adharm and gave birth to Anrit and Nikriti. Anrit had two sons---Maya and Narak, while Nikriti had two daughters--Maya and Vedana. Maya married Maya while Vedana became the wife of Narak. Maya had a son named Mrityu--the lord of death and Vedana gave birth to Dukh. Five children were born to Mrityu--Vyadhi, Jara, Shok, Trishna and Krodha. All of them were celibates and had no progeny.

THE MANIFESTATION OF GODDESS LAKSHMI

Bhisma expressed his desire to know about the manifestation of goddess Lakshmi.

Pulastya replied-- Once, after being defeated by the demons, the deities went to Lord Vishnu and sought his help. Lord Vishnu instructed them to collect all the medicinal herbs, and put them in the Ksheersagar, so that after the churning of the ocean ambrosia could be retrieved.Lord Vishnu also advised them to use the Mandar mountain as a Churner and the serpent--Sheshnag as a rope for churning the ocean.The deities then reached an agreement with the demons according to which both the groups were supposed to unitedly churn the ocean. The great Mandar mountain was uprooted and placed on the back of the tortoise--the embodiment of Lord Vishnu. Sheshnag coiled around that mountain and both the ends were held by the demons and the deities respectively. The deities intelligently chose the tail-end, while the demons in their foolishness chose the mouth-end. The venom spilled by Sheshnag destroyed the power and strength off the demons. When the process of Churning began, the first thing to emerge from the sea-bed was Kamdhenu--the holy cow. The deities claimed the ownership of this divine cow. Subsequently, Varuni (intoxicating drink) emerged from the sea-bed, which was claimed by the ignorant demons. During the process of ocean-churning, various kinds of things emerged out from the ocean--Parijat, sixty crore apsaras, the moon and Kalkut (poison), which were distributed among the demons and the deities. Lord Mahadeva drank the Kalkut when he saw that there was no taker for it.

The churning of ocean also resulted into the manifestation of ambrosia-pot, Uchchaishrava (horse) and Airavat (elephant). Ultimately, goddess Lakshmi manifested herself, seated on a lotus. The deities eulogised her by chanting the mantras of Sri Sukta. The deities were desirous of having goddess Lakshmi on their side, so were the demons, but Lord Brahma instructed Vishnu to accept her as his consort. The demons became furious and snatched the ambrosia-pot from the hands of Sage Dhanvantari. Lord Vishnu then disguised himself as the most enchanting woman and fooled the demons into giving back the ambrosia-pot. Lord Vishnu gave the pot to the deities who became immortal after drinking ambrosia. A tremendous battle was fought between the demons and the deities. But, the demons were defeated in this battle and fled to the netherworld to protect their lives. The deities eulogised Lord Vishnu and returned to heaven.

SATI GIVES UP HER LIFE

On being enquired by Bhisma about the reason why Sati gave up her life, Sage Pulastya narrated the following tale ---

Once, Daksha Prajapati had organised a grand yagya in which he had invited everybody except Lord Shiva. This Yagya was presided over by four prominent sages---Vashishtha, Angika, Brihaspati and Narada. Sati went to attend the yagya despite Lord Shiva's reluctance to send her. After reaching there she asked Daksha about the reason why he had not invited Lord Shiva.

Daksha said---"Your husband is unworthy of being in the company of other deities, because of his abhorrent appearance. He smears ashes on his body and wanders through the cremation grounds. In the name of clothes, your husband puts on tiger's skin. A garland of skulls keep on hanging down his neck. All species of serpents coil around his body. Do you think he is eligible to sit in the company of the deities? Your husband had brought great shame on me and this is the reason why I did not invite him."

Sati could no more listen to her husband's criticism and gave up her life by jumping into the oblation-fire.When the news of Sati's death reached Lord Shiva, he became extremely furious and sent his ganas to avenge her death. The Ganas went and created havoc at the oblation-site.After the death of Sati, Lord Shiva became a recluse and lost all interest in his life. His mind was preoccupied by nothing else but the thoughts of her beloved.One day, Sage Narada informed Lord Shiva about Sati's rebirth as the daughter of Himvan and Mena. Lord Shiva became extremely pleased by this good news. Eventually, he reunited with her eternal consort Parvati.

THE ORIGIN OF DEITIES, DEMONS and SERPENTS

Bhisma requested Sage Pulastya to explain how different entities like the deities, demons and serpents came into being.

Pulastya replied---Having failed in his repeated attempts of increasing population by the means of 'sankalpa' Daksha Prajapati was left with no option but to take the help of copulative creation. He begot sixty daughters from his wife named Virini. In course of time ten of them were married to Dharma whose names were---Arundhati, Vasu, Jami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta, Sadhya and Vishwa.Vishwa gave birth to Vishwadeva, while Sadhya was the mother of Sadhya. Marutvati gave birth to Marutvan. Vasu had eight sons who became famous as the Vasus---yourself (Bhisma), Dhruva, Soma, Dhar, Anil, Anal, Pratyush and Prabhas. Bhanu had a son by the same name i.e. Bhanu. Mahurta begot deities, who were the lords of auspicious moments. Lamba gave birth to Ghosh while Jami had a daughter named Nagvithi. Arundhati became the mother of all the creatures of this world. As far as the offspring of eight Vasus are concerned, 'you' (Bhisma) have four sons--Shant, Vaitand, Samb and Munibabhru. Dhruva had a son named Kal. While Soma was the father of Varcha. Dhar had two sons--Dravin and Havyavah. Anil had three sons--- Pran, Raman and Shishir. Anal also had three sons---Shakh, Upshakh and Naigameya. Pratyush had a son named Deval, who later on became a famous sage. Prabhas was the father of Prajapati Vishwakarma--the architect of the deities.

The names of the eleven Rudras are---Ajaikpad, Ahirbudhnya, Virupaksh, Raivat, Har, Bahuroop, Trayambak, Savitra, Jayant, Pinaki and Aparajit. All of them are said to be the lords of the Ganas and have all together 84 crore progenies known as the Rudraganas.

Sage Kashyapa had thirteen wives---Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Sursa, Surabhi, Vinta, Tamra, Krodhvasha, Ira, Kadru, Khasa and Muni. Kashyapa had two sons from Diti---Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Hiranyakashipu had four sons---Prahlada, Anuhlad, Sanhlad and Hlad. Prahlada also had four sons---One of them was Virochan. Virochan was the father of Bali. Banasur, who had one thousand arms, was the eldest son of Bali.Hiranyaksha had four sons, who themselves had 27 crore sons and grandsons in all. Kashyapa had begotten one hundred sons from Danu, among whom Viprachitti was the most powerful.Viprachitti had fourteen sons from Sinhika---Sainhikeya (Rahu), Kansa, Shankh, Nala, Vatapi, Ilwal, Namuchi, Khasrima, Anjan, Narak, Kalnabh, Parmanu, Kalpavirya and Dhanuvanshavivardhan.

Kashyapa also had six daughters from Tamra--Shuki, Shyeni, Bhasi, Gridhi, Sugridhi and Shuchi. All six of them gave birth to various species of birds. Shuki was the mother of Parrots and Owls. Shyeni gave birth to hawks while Bhasi was the mother of ospreys (a large fish eating birds.) Gridhi gave birth to Vultures and Sugridhi was the mother of pigeons. Shuchi was the mother of cranes, Swans and other similar aquatic birds. Vinita was the mother of Garuda and Arun---Supreme among birds. Arun was the father of Sampati and Jatayu. Sursa was the mother of the serpents and had given birth to one thousand snakes. Similarly, Kadru gave birth to one thousand cobras.Surabhi, one of the thirteen wives of Kashyapa had given birth to cows, buffaloes as well as beautiful women. Muni was the mother of the celestial damsels --apsaras. Arishta gave birth to Kinnars and Gandharvas. Ira was the mother of various vegetation like grass, trees, creepers and bushes. Khasa gave birth to crore of Rakshashas (monsters) and Yakshas.Kashyapa had also begotten forty-nine Marudganas from Diti.

THE ORIGIN OF MARUDGANAS

Bhisma requested Sage Pulastya to describe how all the Marudganas came into existence.

Pulastya replied--- All the sons and grandsons of Diti had perished in the battle fought between the deities and demons. Diti---the mother of daityas (demons) wanted to take revenge, so she started doing a penance at the bank of river Saraswati, which lasted for 100 years.Being pleased by her austere penance Sage Kashyapa arrived and expressed his desire to bless her with a boon. Diti wanted a mighty son who could kill Indra. Sage Kashyapa then implanted his sperms in Diti's womb and instructed her to remain there (where she had been doing penance) for 100 years. He also instructed her on various do's and don'ts which a pregnant woman is expected to observe. Diti agreed to follow his instructions.Mean while, Indra got wind of her pregnancy and became scared. He wanted to destroy the foetus at any cost, so he arrived at the place where Diti was staying. He had disguised himself to avoid being recognized by Diti. He engaged himself in her servitude, waiting for an opportune moment to destroy the foetus.

This way, ninety-nine years had passed and only three days were remaining after which Diti was expected to give birth to a son. As the inevitable day approached nearer, Indra started becoming restless. One day, Diti was very tired and fell down asleep. Her hair was untied and her head had stooped down while she was sleeping, just opposite to the instructions Kashyapa had given to her. Finding the moment opportune, Indra entered into Diti's womb and cut the foetus into seven pieces with his Vajra. The seven fragments of foetus instantaneously got transformed into seven infants and started wailing. Indra became furious and once again he attacked them with his vajra and severed them into seven pieces each. But to Indra's sheer amazement, there were 49 infants, all wailing loudly. He tried to stop them from crying by shouting 'Marud' (don't cry), but to no avail.

Indra realized that the infants had attained immortality on account of the 'Pournamasi Vrata', which Diti had devoutly observed during the course of her penance. Indra named the infants as Marudganas and blessed them. He then begged for Diti's forgiveness and took her along with the Marudganas to heaven. The Marudganas, despite being born in the clans of demons, never associated with them and hence were revered even by the deities.Bhisma expressed his curiosity to know about the detailed description of all the fourteen manvantars. Pulastya said--The first manvantar was called Swayambhuva, named after Swayambhuva- Manu. Yamya was the prominent deity of this manvantar. Marichi and other six prominent sages were the Saptarishis of this manvantar. Swayambhuva Manu had ten sons---Aghnigha, Agnibahu, Vibhu, Savan, Jyotishman, Dyutiman, Havya, Medha, Medhatithi and Vasu.

The second manvantar was named after Swarochish Manu. Swarochish Manu had four sons--Nabh, Nabhasya, Prasriti and Bhavan. Tushit was the prominent deity of this second manvantar. Dattatreya, Atri, Chyavan, Stanba, Pran, Kashyapa and Brihaspati were the saptarishis of this manvantar.

The third manvantar was called Autam and derived its name from Autami Manu, who had ten sons--Isha, Urj, Tanuj, Shuchi, Shukra, Madhu, Madhav, Nabhasya, Nabh and Saha, Bhanusangyak was the prominent deity of this manvantar. Sage Urj and other six sages were the saptarishis then.

The fourth manvantar was called Tamas--named after Tamas Manu, who also had ten sons like his predecessor. The names of his sons were--Akalmash, Tapodhanva, Tapomool, Tapodhan, Taporashi, Tapasya, Sutapasya, Parantap, Tapobhagi and Tapoyogi. Kavi, Prithu, Agni, Akapi, Kapi, Janya and Dhama were the Saptarishis of this manvantar, while Sadhyagana was the prominent deity.

The fifth manvantar was called Raivat--named after Raivat Manu, who had ten sons as well--Varuna, Tatvadarshi, chitiman, Havyap, Kavi, Mukt, Nirutsuk, Satva, Vimoh and Prakashak, Bhutraja and Prakriti were the two prominent deities of this manvantar and the names of the saptarishis were--Devabahu, Subahu, Parjanya, Somap, Muni, Hiranyaroma and Saptashva.

Next arrived the sixth manvantar---Chakshush. This Manvantar derived its name from Chakshush Manu, who had ten sons and among whom Ruru was the most prominent one. Lekh, Ribhu, Prithagbhoot, Varimool and Divau were the prominent deities of this manvantar. The names of Saptarishis were--Bhrigu, Sudhama, Viraj, Vishnu, Narada, Vivaswan and Abhimani.

The present manvantar, which is the seventh in order, is called Vaivaswat. The Saptarishis of this manvantar are---Atri, Vashishtha, Kashyapa, Gautam yogi, Bhardwaj, Vishwamitra and Jamdagni.

The eighth manvantar will be called Savarnya and will be named after Savarni Manu, Savarni Manu will have ten sons---Dhriti, Variyan, Yavasu, Suvarna, Dhrishti, Charishnu, Adya, Sumati, Vasu and Shukra. The Saptarishis of this manvantar will be--Ashwatthama, RishyaSringa, Kaushikya, Galav, Shatanand, Kashyap and Parashurama.

The ninth manvantar will be named after Ruchi--Manu and will be called Rauchya manvantar. Ruchi Manu will have a son named Rauchya.

The tenth manvantar will be called Bhautya and will derive its name from Bhautya Manu--son of Bhuti.

The eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth manvantars will be named after Merusavarni, Ribhu, Veetdhama and Vishkvasen Manus respectively. All these fourteen Manus successively rule this world for the total period of 1000 Chaturyugas. At the end of Kalpa each of them unite with Lord Brahma.

KING PRITHU AND THE SURYA DYNASTY

Bhisma enquired Sage Pulastya about the mighty King Prithu upon whom the earth was named as Prithvi.

Sage Pulastya replied---Anga-Prajapati was the descendant of Swayambhuva Manu and Sunitha was his wife. In course of time, Sunitha gave birth to a son, who was named Vena. After growing up, Vena turned out to be an extremely irreligious person and used to spend his time committing all sorts of immoral deeds. The sages tried to bring him to the virtuous path but to no avail. They became furious and cursed Vena as the result of which he died. The sages then churned his dead body, which resulted into the manifestation of a mean caste called Mlechchha. They kept on churning his body and in the process, an extremely virtuous entity manifested from the right hand of Vena. He held various weapons like mace, bow and arrows in his hands. He was none other than Prithu, the embodiment of Lord Vishnu.

After being crowned as a king, Prithu was saddened to see the prevalence of immorality throughout the length and breadth of earth. The lack of virtuosity and religiousness among the inhabitants of earth made him extremely furious. He decided to destroy the earth. The earth became scared and fled in the guise of a cow. Prithu chased her wherever she went. At last, the cow halted at a place as she had got tired. To save her life, the cow agreed to fulfill all the desires of Prithu. Prithu then milked the cow, which later on got transformed into cereals. Similarly all the deities, ancestors and other human-beings milked the cow and received numerous invaluable things.

Prithu was a just king. Peace and prosperity prevailed during his reign. People were religious and free from any kind of sorrow. The earth is named after him as Prithvi.Sage Pulastya then went on to give a detailed description of Surya dynasty---Vivaswan (Surya) had three queens---Sangya, Ragyi and Prabha. Ragyi had a son named Raivat while Somgya was the mother of Vaivaswat--Manu, Yama and Yamuna. Once, Sangya being unable to bear the extreme radiance of Surya created a superficial entity from her body and instructed her to act as Surya's wife in her absence. The name of this superficial woman was chhaya, who had two sons and two daughters from Surya. The names of her sons were Savarna--Manu and Shanaishchar, while the names of her daughters were Tapti and Vishti.

Shanaishchar became immortal as a planet while Yamuna and Tapti became rivers. Vaivaswat Manu had ten sons among whom 'Ila' was the eldest. After appointing Ila as his successor, Vaivaswat, manu went to do penance.Once, Ila transformed into a woman after tresspassing a forest where Lord Shiva and Parvati were enjoying privacy. It was Lord Shiva's curse that any male who ventured in to that forbidden forest would become a woman. Later on, Buddh became enchanted by Ila's beauty and married her.

Meanwhile, when Ila did not return to his kingdom, his brother Ikshvaku went in search of him. Ikshvaku reached the outskirts of the same forest but did not enter it. He managed to please Shiva by his devotion. When Lord Shiva appeared, Ikshvaku requested him to make Ila a man once again. Shiva told him that it was impossible but assured him by saying "If you perform an Ashwamedha Yagya and donate all the virtue thus acquired to me, then your brother will be able to live as a man for one month. But, after one month he will again become a woman. Thus, his form will keep on changing every alternate months."

Meanwhile Ila gave birth to four sons among whom Utkal, Gaya and Haritashwa were prominent. This way, Ila became the source from which the lineage of chandra sprouted. Ikshvaku ruled over Madhya-desh. He had one hundred sons, all of whom ruled the territories situated north of Meru Mountain. Ikshvaku also had one hundred and fourteen more sons, who ruled over the areas situated south of Meru. Kakusttha was Ikshvaku's grand-son. Kakusttha had a son named Suyodhan. Some other prominent kings coming from this lineage were--Prithu, Vrihadashwa, Kuwalashva, Purukutsu, Dharmasetu, Muchukund, Tridhanva, Traidharun, Satyavrat and Satyarath.

The most truthful king Harishchandra was Satyarath's son and Rohit was his son. Famous kings like Raghu, Dilip Aja, Dirghabahu and Prajapati Dasharath were the descendants of Ikshvaku. Dasharath had four sons among whom Sri Rama was the eldest and who had killed the demon king Ravana. Rama had two sons--Lav and Kush.

BASHKALI--THE DEMON KING

Bhisma requested Sage Pulastya to reveal Why Lord Vishnu had to take incarnation as Vamana. Sage Pulastya replied--- Once, during Satya Yuga, the demons had defeated the deities and driven them out from their abode--heaven. The mighty demon, Bashkali was their leader. He had become immortal an account of a boon received from Lord Brahma. Indra went to Lord Brahma and narrated the aweful tale of the deities. Lord Brahma assured him that Lord Vishnu would certainly help in this matter. Lord Brahma contemplated on Lord Vishnu who appeared in a very short time.

When Lord Vishnu came to know about the deities's pitiable condition, he promised them that very soon Bashkali's wings would be clipped.

Lord Vishnu said---"Very soon, I will take incarnation as Vamana. Indra will have to come along with me and demand a piece of land measured by my three steps. I shall then reveal my giant form and send him to the Patal loka after making him bereft of his kingdom. In course of time Lord Vishnu manifested as Vamana from Aditi's womb. His manifestation was simultaneously marked by various auspicious signs--the air became full of fragrance, the deities started rejoicing, the trees started shedding flowers on their own and all the desires of living beings were fulfilled.

Lord Vamana then went to Bashkali's palace accompanied by Indra. Both of them marvelled at the grandness of Bashkali's city, which was surrounded by a high boundary-wall.Bashkali was a very virtuous and benevolent king. He was truthful and well versed in all the scripture. His subject lived in prosperity and enjoyed a long life. When the demons saw Indra coming with a dwarf they informed Bashkali. Bashkali instructed the demons to bring both the guests with due respect.

Bashkali treated his guests with all honor and asked Indra about the reason for his sudden arrival. Indra praised Bashkali's benevolence and said---"The short brahmin accompanying me is desirous of a piece of land measured by his three steps." Bashkali was amused at this ridiculous demand and requested Vamana to ask for anything he wished. But, Vamana wanted nothing more than a small piece of land measured by his three steps.

Shukracharya (Bashkali's guru) smelled something fishy and warned him, but he was not to listen. Bashkali then requested Vamana to go ahead and measure the land by his three steps.Suddenly, Lord Vamana transformed his physique into a giant size. His first step reached the Surya-loka and his second step touched the Dhruva-loka. He hit the top of the universe with his third step as a result of which water poured down. The water got collected and came to be known as Vaishnavi river. But, the land had still not been measured and hence Lord Vamana reminded Bashkali of his vow and ultimately the helpless Bashkali surrendered to the will of Lord Vamana and sought his refuge. Lord Vamana blessed him and sent him to Patalloka.

SRI RAMA KILLS SHAMBUK

After killing the demons king Ravana, Sri Rama returned to Ayodhya. Many sages had arrived there to bless him on the occasion of his crowning ceremony. Sage Vashishtha was one of them.As Sri Rama was conversing with the sages a brahmin arrived there with the corpse of his son and wailed---"O son! Your death is certainly due to some flaw of Sri Rama. Now, your mother and I have decided to give up our lives as there is no point in living."

Sri Rama's heart was filled with grief and he asked Sage Vashishtha as to how the brahmin could be helped. Sage Vashishtha revealed to Sri Rama that the brahmin's son had died a premature death because of Shambuk. Vashishtha said--"Shambuk is a Shudra by birth, but he is doing an austere penance. Shudras are not entitled to do penance in all the three yugas, except the Kali Yuga. So, only his death can bring back the brahmin's son alive."

Sri Rama instructed both his younger brothers--Lakshman and Bharata, to look after the state's affairs in his absence and went in search of Shambuk boarded on his Pushpak Vimana. Sri Rama saw a man doing penance at the shore of a reservoir. He landed his Pushpak Vimana and went near that man. He introduced himself and enquired about the man's identity. Sri Rama asked--Why are you doing such an austere penance. Who are you?

Without moving the man replied that he was a shudra named Shambuk. He said--- I am desirous of attaining to devaloka and hence I am doing this penance. Sri Rama took out his sword and severed Shambuk's head. All the deities hailed Sri Rama and the brahmin's child became alive once again.

MANIFESTATION OF GANESH AND KARTIKEYA

Once, before taking her bath, goddess Parvati anointed unguent on her body and while removing it created a human form from the accumulated dross. The head of this human form resembled an elephant. Parvati then playfully immersed the human-form into river Ganga. But, to her sheer amazement the human form became alive and of enormous size. She accepted him as her son and he was none other than elephant-headed deity Ganesh.

Once, Lord Shiva became so deeply fascinated by her consort. Parvati hat he did not come out from his palace for 1000 years. The deities became worried and sent Agni to find out the reason. Agni disguised himself as a parrot and entered the palace where Shiva was enjoying privacy with Parvati.

Meanwhile, Parvati went at the bank of a reservoir to quench her thirst. After reaching there she saw six divine women (matrikas) carrying water in the leaves of lotus flowers. As Parvati was thirsty, she requested them to give some water. The matrikas agreed on the condition that a son born to her (Parvati) should also have to be accepted as their son. Parvati gave her conscent. The matrikas gave Parvati water to drink.

Hardly had Parvati finished drinking water than a divine child emerged out from her womb. The child possessed various weapons like, trident, shakti and a noose in his hands. He was none other than Kartikeya.The deities appointed Kartikeya as the commander of their army. During that time, a mighty demon named Tarakasur used to torment the deities. Kartikeya killed that demon on the request of deities.

AN IDEAL BRAHMIN AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GAYATRI MANTRA

Describing about the qualities of an ideal brahmin, Sage Pulastya said--- Once, Narada had asked Lord Brahma as to who was worthy of receiving Vishnu's blessings. Lord Brahma had told Narada that Lord Vishnu showered his blessings on those who engaged themselves in the service of brahmins. A brahmin should be virtuous and well versed in all the scriptures. A brahmin who does not observe the rituals as mentioned in the Vedas, brings disgrace to his ancestors. An ideal brahmin is respectful towards his parents, teachers and treats his guests with due honor. He never aspires for women other than his wife and chants the sacred Gayatri mantra everyday.

Goddess Gayatri is said to have manifested in the lineage of Sankhyayan. She is of fair complexion and fire is the symbolical expression of her mouth. Lord Brahma dwells on her forehead, Lord Vishnu in her heart and Lord Rudra has his abode in her braided hair. The Gayatri mantra consists of 24 letters and each of them is related with a specific deity. There is a mention of Gayatri mantra, which consists of 18 letters. It begins with the word 'agni' and ends with 'swaha'. The mantra is as follows---

OM AGNERVAKPUNSI YAJURDEDIN JUSHTA SOMAM PIBA SWAHA.

A person, who chants the mantra for 100 times, becomes liberated from gravest of sin. The various deities related with the twenty-four letters of Gayatri Mantra are as follows--

1st letter --- Agni  2nd letter --- Vayu  3rd letter --- Surya  4th letter --- Akash

5th letter --- Yamraj 6th letter --- Varuna 7th letter --- Brihaspati 8th letter --- Parjanya

9th letter --- Indra 10th letter --- Gandharva 11th letter --- Poosha 12th letter --- Mitra

13th letter --- Twashta 14th letter --- Vasu 15th letter --- Marudganas 16th letter --- Soma

17th letter --Angira 18th letter --Vishwadeva 19th letter --Ashwins 20th letter --Prajapati

21st letter ---All deities 22nd letter --- Rudra 23rd letter --- Brahma 24th letter --- Vishnu

A devotee should then perform the ritual of 'nyas' by mentally establishing different words of the Gayatri mantra in the various parts of his body as given below --

OM BHUH ---in the heart, OM BHUVAH --- in the head, OM SWAH ---in the top-knot, OM TATSAVITURVARENYAM--in the whole body, OM BHARGODEVASYA DHIMAHI ---in both eyes, OM DHIYO YO NAH PRACHODAYAT ---in both  hands.

Regular chanting of Gayatri mantra bestowes similar virtues attained by the study of all the four vedas. A brahmin who does not know Gayatri mantra is considered to be worse than a shudra. Anybody who chants Gayatri mantra attains salvation.

BRAHMIN'S LIVELIHOOD

Describing how a brahmin should earn his livelihood, Lord Brahma said to Narada--Alms, which a brahmin gets without making any demand for it, is called Vritta. 'Unchhavritti' is even better than Vritti and it means collecting foodgrain which are scattered in places like fields, granary, market-place etc. A brahmin should accept the Dakshaina that his host gives him after the completion of yagya ceremony. He should engage himself in educational activities. He can also earn his livelihood by engaging himself in other auspicious activities.

If the circumstances do not permit a brahmin to earn his livelihood by any of the above mentioned means, then he may opt for the occupation of a kshatriya. In such a case, he should endeavor to have mastery both over the vedas as well as different weaponary. Battle should be his last option. When the very existence of religiousness is at stake, he should wage a war against irreligious people and to protect the religion.

In an emergency situation, a brahmin can also choose the occupation of a Vaishya and earn his livelihood by doing business or agriculture. But, while earning his livelihood by doing agriculture, he should in no circumstances abandon his own duties (duties of a brahmin). He should be honest while doing business and never try to exploit the customers.

NAROTTAM---THE BRAHMIN

Describing about the importance of five virtuous deeds, Pulastya said to Bhisma---"The five supreme virtuous deeds are--obedience to parents, faithfulness towards husband, equanimity, not having enmity towards friends and devotion towards Lord Vishnu. By pleasing his father, one pleases all the deities. Mother is superior even to all the places of pilgrimage combined together.

Pulastya then narrated the same tale to Bhisma, which lord Brahma had once told some prominent sages ---

Once, there lived a famous Brahmin called Narottam. He had acquired divine powers on account of his austere penance but unfortunately he never treated his parents with respect. After taking his daily bath, Narottam hanged his wet clothes in the open sky without any support and they used to dry without falling down on the earth. This special power had made him very arrogant.One day, a crane flying in the sky passed dung on his face, which made him very furious. Narottam cursed the crane as the result of which it was burnt to death. His special power vanished due to the sin acquired by killing an innocent bird. Now, no longer his clothes remained in suspended position in the sky.

Narottam became very sad. Suddenly he heard a heavenly voice instructing him to see a 'chandala' named Mook. "His discourses would be beneficial for you."- Said the heavenly voice. Narottam went in search of Mook--the chandal and found him in the servitude of his parents. Mook was a great devotee of his parents and his total devotion towards his parents had blessed him with an extraordinary power-his house used to hang in the air without any support. Narottam was deeply amazed at this wonderful sight. He wanted to know how Mook had acquired such divine powers. But, Mook requested him to wait, which made Narottam very angry. Mook then told Narottam---"I can talk to you only after attending to my parents. I am not that crane which was charred to death by your curse. If you don't have time then go and meet that 'faithful-wife. She will answer your questions."

Narottam did not know where that faithful wife lived, so he stood there wondering what to do next. Suddenly Lord Vishnu emerged from Mook's house disguised as a brahmin. He took Narottam to the 'faithful-wife's house. All along the way Lord Vishnu preached Narottam on the qualities of a chaste woman. As both of them were about to reach that chaste woman's house, lord Vishnu disappeared, leaving Narottam all alone.

Narottam requested the woman to enlighten him on the finer points of virtuosity. But, the woman was busy attending her husband and requested him to wait. Narottam threatened to curse her, to which the woman replied---I am not that crane whom you had cursed. If you are in a hurry then you can go and meet 'Dharm--Tuladhar'. He is an honest businessman and is capable of answering your queries."

Lord Vishnu once again appeared from that woman's house disguised as a brahmin. Narottam asked him as to how were both Mook and faithful wife aware of the incident in which the crane was charred to death. Lord Vishnu told him that both of them had acquired this special power by the virtue of their respective religiousness.

Lord Vishnu and Narottam proceeded towards the place where Dharmtuladhar did his business transactions. As they were about to reach the place, Lord Vishnu disappeared once again, leaving Narottam all alone.Narottam saw Dharmtuladhar busy in his dealings with total honesty. He requested him to reveal as to what made the wet clothes to hang in the air without any support. Dharmtuladhar requested him to wait but Narottam was in a hurry to get answer to his questions. Dharmtuladhar told Narottam--Please wait for sometime, as I am busy doing my business transactions. If you don't have time then you can go and meet Adrohak, who is fully capable of giving answer to your questions. Lord Vishnu once again accompanied him disguised as a brahmin.

When both of them were about to reach the place where Adrohak used to live, lord Vishnu disappeared and Narottam was left all by himself, once again. Narottam requested Adrohak to preach on the essence of religiousness. Adrohak was a man of impeccable conduct and had full control over the sensual urges. He advised Narottam to meet the supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu, who lived nearby. Adrohak said-- You would get answers to all your questions. He will reveal to you the reason that made wet clothes to hang in air without any support. Narottam then proceeded towards the place where the supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu lived. Lord Vishnu once again accompanied him in the guise of a brahmin. After reaching there, Narottam expressed his desire of seeing Lord Vishnu. The supreme devotee took him to a temple situated inside the house-premise.

Narottam was amazed to see the same brahmin, who had been accompanying him all along the way, siting on a lotus flower. He realized that the brahmin was lord Vishnu himself. Lord Vishnu blessed him and said---Be respectful towards your parents, if you want to attain to my abode. I dwell in the houses of people who are virtuous, truthful, possessed equanimity and who have full control over their passion. This is why you found me present at the homes of chandal, Tuladhar and Adrohak. Narottam realized his mistake and decided to be in the servitude of his parents for the rest of his life.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF RUDRAKSHA, AMLA AND TULSI

Once, while describing about the importance of Rudraksha to the sages, Vyasa said--- One who wears a Rudraksha rosary is supreme among all human beings. The mere sight of such a holy man absolves people of their sin. A Rudraksha bead bears features of a Linga and yoni on its surface. One should not wear a rudraksha on which above mentioned features are absent. Similarly two joint beads should never be worn. All the mantras become doubly powerful when chanted with the help of rudraksha-rosary.During Satya Yuga, there lived a mighty demon named Tripurasur. He had conquered the deities and was capable of moving in the space. The deities sought help of Lord Shiva, who killed Tripurasur by the sight of his third-eye. In the process, few drops of sweat, emanating from Shiva's body fell down on the earth. These sweat drops got transformed into a large Rudraksha-tree.

Amla is a very nutritious fruit and great religious significance has been attached to it. Amla fruit is very dear to Lord Vishnu and its use on the auspicious day of Ekadashi brings unmatched virtue. A person who regularly eats amla enjoys a long life.The following tale adequately describes the religious importance of amla --

Once upon a time, a chandala went into the forest for hunting. He hunted many deer and birds. Feeling hungry, he saw an amla tree and climbed up the tree. This way he satiated his hunger by eating sweet amla fruits. Unfortumately while he was climbing down the tree, he fell down and died.When the attendants of Yamaraj arrived to take back his soul, they could not do so even after repeated attempts. The attendants of Yamaraj became very surprised and went to the sages for clarification. The sages revealed to the attendants that they could not go near the chandala's dead body, because he had eaten amla just before his death. Such is the glory of amla!

Once Kartikeya asked Lord Shiva about the holiest tree, which was capable of giving salvation. Lord Shiva replied---The Tulsi plant is supreme among all the vegetations. She is very dear to lord Vishnu and fulfills all the desires of a man. Lord Krishna dwells near the place where there is a Tulsi plant. Spirits and ghosts never dare to venture near the Tulsi plant. If a man attaches a Tulsi leaf to his Shikha at the time of his death, he is liberated from all his sins. One who worships Lord Vishnu by offering Tulsi-leaves attains salvation.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SURYA'S WORSHIP

Once, while describing about the importance of Surya's worship to Vaishampayan, Sage Vyasa narrated the following tale ---

There lived a king named Bhadreshwar. He ruled over Madhyadesh. Once his left hand was infected with leprosy. Bhadreshwar, fearing the prospect of dreadful leprosy spreading to his whole body, decided to end his life. He expressed his desire to the head-priest. The head-priest cautioned Bhadreshwar that if he went ahead with his decision, then the whole kingdom would be destroyed. He said --- 'You will be cured of leprosy, if you worship Lord Surya.'

The head-priest then told the king about the appropriate rituals of Surya--worship. King Bhadreshwar began his austerities and worshipped Lord Surya by chanting mantras and offering articles like Naivedya, fruits, Ardhya, Akshat etc to the deity. King Bhadreshwar was cured of his leprosy within a year by the virtue of his deep devotion towards Lord Surya.

BHUMI KHAND

DIFFERENT TYPES OF SIN AND VIRTUE

Once, Yayati requested Matali to describe the various sinful and virtuous deeds, which a man normally commits in his life.

Matali replied---'One who criticizes the vedas and follows the religion of other's after abandoning his own or torments virtuous people is a grave sinner. Similarly, not respecting one's parents, not giving 'Dakshaina' to a brahmin after the completion of a shradha ceremony, studying the scriptures in an impure physical state are some other sinful deeds.

'One who obstructs a hungry man from having his food or thirsty person from quenching his thirst commits a sin similar to that of killing a brahmin.

Matali described some other types of sins ---

Back biting, seeing faults with others and demeaning their efforts, acquiring other's land by unfair means, killing innocent animals, having illicit relationship with women other than one's wife, telling lies, showing disrespect to the guests etc, are considered to be sinful deeds.

Describing about the various types of virtuous deeds, Matali said ---

Non-violence, forgiveness, truthfulness, devotion towards god, benevolence, abstinence, oblation and meditation are some of the virtuous deeds. Donating food-grains, domesticated animals like horse, cow etc., giving water to a thirsty person are some other types of virtuous deeds. A person who donates wooden sandals a needy brahmin attains to the heaven. Worshipping Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu enables a man to attain to the Shivaloka or Vishnuloka respectively.

KING YAYATI PROPAGATES VAISHNAVA--DHARMA

King Yayati was the son of Nahush and a descendant of Soma--dynasty. He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and had contributed a lot in the propagation of Vaishnava--dharma. Yayati had sent many emissaries in all directions to propagate Vaishnava--dharma. During Yayati's reign his subject were prosperous and were free from any kind of sorrow. Peace prevailed everywhere and people did not experience any natural calamity like draught or famine.

King Yayati enjoyed an unbelievably long life of one lakh years. He was blessed with eternal youth and his appearance was enough to give an inferiority complex to a young man. All this, he had attained by the virtue of his supreme devotion towards Lord Vishnu. Indra was very scared of Yayati's increasing popularity and feared that if his virtuosity remained intact, he would very soon become the ruler of heaven. Indra instructed Kamadeva and Rati to find some means so that king Yayati could be enticed by human weaknesses like lust and infatuation.

Kamadeva, accompanied by other Gandharvas went to Yayati's palace and sought his permission to stage a play. Yayati gave his permission and the play commenced. Rati appeared on the stage as a beautiful woman and was successful in corrupting the thoughts of Yayati. Yayati became so enchanted by Rati's beauty that he lost his senses and fell down unconscious. Finding the time opportune 'Vriddhavastha' (deity of old age) and 'Kamadeva' entered Yayati's body. This way the deities were successful in their designs and now the signs of old-age started to become evident in Yayati.

YAYATI MARRIES ASHRUBINDUMATI

Once, king Yayati went into a forest for hunting. He saw a stag, which had four horns and chased it. The deer led him deep into the forest and then disappeared. Yayati was tired and thirsty. He saw a lake and decided to quench his thirst. First of all he took his bath and then drank sweet water from the lake. As Yayati was relaxing at the bank of that lake, he heard a sweet voice singing a song. Yayati proceeded towards the direction from which the sound was coming. He saw a beautiful woman singing a song. Her companion accompanied the beautiful woman. Yayati became enchanted by the divine beauty of that woman and wanted to marry her. The beautiful woman's companion told Yayati that her friend could marry him only after he shed the signs of his old age.

The beautiful woman was Ashrubindumati--the daughter of Rati. Vishala-her companion was the daughter of Varuna. Yayati returned to his palace and requested his two sons--Taru and Yadu to exchange their youth in lieu of his old age, but both of them refused to oblige him. Yayati cursed both of them.

Yayati had a son---Puru from his wife named Sharmishtha. When he made the same request to Puru, he agreed without any hesitation. Yayati became pleased with Puru and appointed him as his successor.

Now, Yayati became young once again and went to meet Ashrubindumati. But, Ashrubindumati's friend Vishala was still not convinced and expressed apprehension that her friend would never play second fiddle to his two wives--Sharmishtha and Devayani.King Yayati, being blinded by his lust, assured Vishala that Ashrubindumati would enjoy the supreme authority and she had nothing to fear. He said--"I promise that you will be my only wife and I will have nothing to do with my wives."

This way Yayati married Ashrubindumati and enjoyed a blissful married life for twenty-thousand years. Once, Ashrubindumati expressed her desire of visiting all the divine places--Indraloka, Brahmaloka, Shivaloka and Vishnuloka. Yayati took back his old age from Puru and returned his youth. He appointed Puru as his successor and instructed his subject to live peacefully. But, the people wanted to be with Yayati, so all of them accompanied him to the heaven. Yayati visited all the divine places and ultimately attained to Vishnuloka.

KUNJAL--THE ENLIGHTENED PARROT

Once, while describing about the importance of a teacher, Lord Vishnu had narrated the following tale to king Vena--- Sage Chyavan came from the lineage of Bhargav. Once, he arrived at Omkareshwar with the objective of acquiring knowledge. Since he was tired, he decided to take rest under the shade of a Banyan tree. A parrot named Kunjal lived on that tree. The parrot had four young ones--Ujjawal, Samujjwal, Vijjwal and Kapinjal. Kunjal was a very learned parrot and had mastery over all the scriptures. Once, Ujjawal requested Kunjal to give discourse on various aspects of religiousness. Kunjal said---The whole world is full of sorrow. A man can be liberated from his sorrow by the means of salvation because salvation is free from sorrow. Salvation can be attained with the help of abstinence, self-control and having deep devotion in lord Vishnu. The soul being enlightened is also called 'Paramatma'. But, covered by the darkness of ignorance it becomes difficult for the soul to attain salvation. A devotee can meditate on both the forms of Lord Vishnu--Sakar (with form) and Nirakar (formless). But, meditating on the Sakar form is easy for anybody. On the other hand only an enlightened soul can meditate on the 'nirakar' form of Lord Vishnu. There are various austerities related with Lord Vishnu and which if observed by a devotee, pleases him--Jaya, Vijaya, Jayanti, Vanjuli, Tilgandha, Trihsprisha, Akshanda and Manoraksha. All these austerities are similar to different types of Ekadashi or Dwadashi Vrata. Similarly, two other austerities namely Ashunyashayan and Janmashtami are capable of freeing a man from all his sin. A devotee who chants Shatnam stotra attains salvation.

KUNJAL PREACHES VIJJWAL

Describing the virtue of benevolence to Vijjwal. Kunjal--the learned parrot narrated the following tale ---

Once, there lived a king named Subahu who ruled over chola desha. A learned brahmin named Jaimini used to counsel him on religious and spiritual matters. One day, while Jaimini was giving a discourse on the virtue of benevolence, Subahu requested him to describe about those deeds that enables a man either to attain to the heaven or to hell.

Jaimini replied--- One who earns his livelihood by improper means definitely goes to hell. Similarly, atheists, licentious people, proudy, backbiters and ungrateful people go to hell too. One who gobbles up other's wealth by illegal means or shows disrespect to his guest goes to hell. One who is a habitual liar or one who kills innocent animals or one who has abandoned the religious path is certain to go to hell.One who is truthful and engages himself in various virtuous deeds like penance, meditation, study of the scriptures, goes to the heaven. One who is respectful towards his elders and leads a virtuous life goes to the heaven. In the same manner, he who is benevolent and free from vices like jealousy hatred etc. goes to the heaven. Similarly, one who leads his life as per the instructions given in the scriptures or has full control over his sensual desires goes to the heaven.

King Subahu was so impressed by Jaimini's preaching that he decided to spend rest of his life in the service of lord Madhusudan. He performed countless oblations as long as he was alive and attained to Vishnuloka after his death.

KUNJAL NARRATES ABOUT HIS PREVIOUS BIRTH

Sage Chyavan, who had been listening to the narration of Kunjal, was amazed by his profound knowledge. He asked Kunjal---O great soul! Who are you? From where did you acquire such divine knowledge.'

Kunjal, who remembered everything about his previous birth said--

In my previous birth, I was the youngest son of a brahmin named Vidyadhar. My name was Dharma Sharma. Seeing my dislike for study, my father became worried about my future. I used to waste my time loitering here and there. People used to make fun of my stupidity, which made me extremely sad. I decided to acquire knowledge but did not find anybody willing to teach me.

In due course of time I became old but was still an idiot. One day, I was sitting in a temple cursing my fate. Suddenly, a sage arrived there and asked me as to what made me so sad. I narrated my woeful tale. The sage felt pity on my condition and blessed me with divine knowledge that made me capable of having advance knowledge of all the future incidents of the world. Sage Chyavan was curious to know about the reason that made Dharma Sharma to be born as a parrot.

Kunjal replied--- O Brahmin! A man is influenced by the company he keeps. The reason why I took birth as a parrot is related with an incident, which occurred in my previous birth. Once, a wicked fowler sold a parrot to a brahmin who in turn presented it to me. With the passage of time I became very attached with the parrot and gradually deviated from my virtuous path. As a result all my divine knowledge vanished and I became an idiot once again.

One day, a cat arrived and killed that parrot in my absence. I became very sad and used to spend my time crying over the dead parrot. Ultimately I died but even at the time of death, my mind was preoccupied with the thoughts of my beloved parrot. As a result, I was born as a parrot but fortunately I remembered my previous birth even while I was still in my mother's womb. I was full of remorse and used to curse myself for having wasted my life. Sage Chyavan was amazed by the narration of Kunjal--the learned parrot.

SWARGA--KHANDA

SOME PROMINENT HOLY PLACES OF BHARATAVARSHA

Once, sages requested Suta to describe about the most prominent places of pilgrimage situated in Bharatavarsha. Suta commenced his narration by describing the origin of creation and then switched over to the geographical characteristics of Bharatavarsha. Suta said---'There are seven prominent mountain ranges in Bharatavarsha--Mahendra, Malay, Sahya, Shaktiman, Rikshavan, Vindhya and Pariyatra. Some prominent rivers supplying potable water to the inhabitants of Bharatavarsha are---Ganga, Sindhu, Saraswati, Godwari, Narmada, Shatadru, Yamuna, Vipasha, Mahanadi, Vidisham, Varuna etc. The names of the main Janapadas situated in the northern part of Bharatavarsha are Kuru, Panchal, Shalva, Matreya, Jangal, Shoorsen, Pulind, Baudh, Chedi, Matsya, Bhoj, Sindhu, Utkal, Koshal, Madra, Kalinga, Kashi, Malav, Magadh, Videh, Anga, Banga, Surashtra, Kekay, Kashmir and Gandhar. Similarly, Janpadas like Dravid, Keral. Prachya, Karnatak, Kuntal, Chol, Sauhrid, Kona, Korak, Kalad, Mushal and Sutap are situated in the southern part of Bharatavarsha.

Suta then described about the greatness of Pushkar tirth by recounting an incident related with the Pandavas---

"One day, Sage Narada visited the Pandavas who were living in exile. The Pandavas had visited many places during the course of their exile period and wanted to know about the fruits they had acquired due to their pilgrimage.

"Sage Narada then recounted an incident when king Dilip had once posed the same question to Sage Vashishtha. Sage Vashishtha while describing about the greatness of Pushkar said---Pushkar tirth is the holiest place where lord Brahma has his abode. Deities consider themselves fortunate to be at Pushkar. A person who takes a holy dip at Pushkar and worships lord Brahma acquires virtues equivalent to the accomplishment of the Ashwamedha Yagya."

Sage Vashishtha continued with the description of some other prominent places of pilgrimage like Jambumarg, Narmada Amarkantak etc.

JAMBUMARG, RIVER NARMADA AMARKANTAK

Continuing with his narration, Sage Vashishtha said--- A man desirous of going on a pilgrimage should first of all visit Jambumarg, because it is revered even by the deities and the sages. By visiting this holy place a man acquires virtue equivalent to the accomplishment of an Ashwamedha Yagya and attains to Vishnuloka. A man should then visit Tundulik Ashrama, Agastya Ashrama and Kanya Ashrama, which are situated near Jambumarg. Taking a dip in the holy water of Kotitirth, situated near Mahakal temple is believed to bestow undiminished virtue. Bhadravat is a famous place of pilgrimage related with Lord Shiva and paying a visit here gives virtue equivalent to donation of 1000 cows.

A man who takes holy dip in river Narmada and performs 'tarpan' in the name of manes acquires fruits similar to the accomplishment of Agnishtom yagya. Narmada is the holiest of all the rivers. A man becomes liberated from his sins by taking bath for three weeks in river Saraswati. Similarly it takes one week of regular bath in river yamuna for a man to become absolved of all his sins. The mere touch of Ganga water liberates a man from all his sins, but mere sight of river Narmada is enough to liberate a man from all his sins.

Kotirudras are believed to dwell in the vicinity of Amarkantak mountain. All together sixty crores and sixty thousand places of pilgrimage are situated all around this holy mountain. Anybody present in the vicinity of this mountain must refrain from any kind of sinful deeds. Visiting Amarkantak mountain during solar and lunar eclipses is considered to be extremely auspicious. Similarly the confluence site of Narmada and Kaveri is considered to be sacrosanct. Anybody who takes a holy dip in the confluence of Narmada and Kaveri becomes liberated from his sins.

'DHARMA TIRTH' AND YAMUNA-SNAN

Sage Narada continued with the description of various holy places and said--- "A pilgrim must visit Dharma Tirth, which is named after the lord of death--Dharma. Once upon a time Dharmaraj had performed an austere penance at that place this is the reason why it became famous as Dharma Tirth. By visiting Dharma Tirth, a man liberated all his ancestors up to seventh generation. After that a pilgrim should go to Kalap-forest, Saugandhik-forest, Suvarna-Dhumavanti respectively. All the above mentioned holy places are capable of giving salvation."

Describing about the virtues of taking a holy dip in river Kalini (Yamuna) sage Narada said --

A person who takes a holy dip in Yamuna becomes liberated from all his sorrows. The virtue acquired by taking a bath in Yamuna is greater than paying visits to various holy places like Pushkar, Kurukshetra, Brahmavarta and Kashi.Taking a dip in Yamuna also helps in the fulfillment of all the desires of a man. Although, different rituals have been attributed to various yugas like Satya Yuga--penance, Treta Yuga--knowledge, Dwapar Yuga--yagya and Kali Yuga--donation, yet virtue of taking a holy dip in Yamuna transcends even time."

"Although the whole stretch of river Yamuna is believed to be holy, yet Yamuna flowing near Mathura holds special importance because of her deep association with lord Krishna."Narada narrated a tale to prove the significance of taking a bath in Yamuna.

"During Satya Yuga there lived a Vaishya named Hemakundal. He had earned lot of wealth by dint of hard work. Although he was very rich yet happiness deluded him, as he had no progeny. He was worried as to who would inherit his property after his death.

"In course of time, Hemakundal attained old age and after realizing about the impermanence of the world indulged himself in virtuous deeds. He was blessed with two sons--Srikundal and Vikundal. When both his sons grew up, Hemakundal went into the forest to do penance."

"Sri Kundal and Hemakundal squandered the whole wealth which their father had earned so painstakingly. Both of them were of loose moral character and had illicit relationship with many prostitutes. In a very short time they became poor and both of them starved to death. When the yamdoots reached yamloka after taking their souls, Yamraj ordered--'Put Sri Kundal in Raurav hell but send Vikundal to the heaven.' While Vikundal was being taken to the heaven he asked one of the yamdoots--'The sins committed by my brother and me were almost identitical then why is my brother being sent to hell while I am being sent to heaven.'

The yamdoot replied-You are being metted out this special treatment on account of your virtues acquired by bathing twice in river Yamuna.There was a brahmin friend of your's named Swamitra.You had accompanied him to Mathura and twice taken bath in the holy Yamuna. By the virtue of the first bath you became liberated from all your sins, while the second bath helped you in attaining to the heaven. Vikundal requested the yamdoot to allow his brother to accompany him to heaven. Yamdoot replied that his brother could accompany him to the heaven provided he donated all his virtues to him.

Vikundal agreed to donate his virtues to his elder brother for the sake of his liberation. This way, both Srikundal and Vikundal attained to the heaven.

KASHIPURI, KAPARDISHWAR AND GAYA

On being asked by Yudhisthira about the grandeur of holy places like Kashipuri, Kapardishwar and Gaya. Narada said ---

Just as Lord Mahadeva is supreme among all the deities, in the same manner Kashipuri holds a significant status among all the places of pilgrimage. Hence an individual should make it a point to visit Kashi once in his life time. The famous Shivalinga Kopardishwar is installed at Kashi and is said to fulfill all the desires of a man. Performance of various rituals at Kashi liberates a man from all his sins-all his flaws are eliminated automatically just by residing in Kashi.

A devotee who regularly practices meditation in the temple of Lord Kapordishwar attains Yogasiddhi within six months. Worshipping Lord Kapardishwar after taking a holy dip in Pishach-mochan kunda liberates a man from gravest of sin like Brahmahatya, etc. Gaya is considered to be a sacrosanct place of pilgrimage and various rituals for the pacification of the souls of dead ancestors are performed here. Anybody who offers Pindadan and tarpan at Gaya not only liberates his ancestors but also himself. There is a very famous Banyan tree named Akshayvat at Gaya. Gaya is situated at the bank of river Falgu.

PURANAS--THE EMBODIMENT OF SRI HARI

According to Suta, all the Puranas are nothing but the mediums through which Sri Hari manifests himself---Brahma Purana is said to be the forhead of Sri Hari, Padma Purana is said to be the 'heart' of Sri Hari, Vishnu Purana is said to be the 'right arm' of Sri Hari. Shiva Purana is said to be the 'left arm' of Sri Hari. Srimad Bhagawat is said to be his 'thigh', Narada Purana is said to be his 'navel', Markendeya Purana is said to be his 'right-foot'. Agni Purana is said to be his 'left foot', Bhavish Purana is said to be his 'right-knee', Brahma Vaivrata Purana is said to be his 'left-knee'. Linga Purana is said to be his 'right ankle', Varaha Purana is said to be his 'left ankle', Skanda Purana is said to be the hair on the body of 'Sri Hari. Vamana Purana is said to be his skin. Kurma Purana is said to be his back. Matsya Purana is said to be his stomach. Garuda Purana is said to be his bone-marrow. Brahmanda Purana is said to be his bone.

So, all the Puranas being manifestation of different parts of Sri Hari's body are very sacred and capable of bestowing salvation.

PATAL -KHAND

SHESHNAG NARRATES TALES OF SRI RAMA'S RETURN FROM LANKA

Once, Sages requested Suta to describe about Sri Rama's return from Lanka. Suta narrated the same tale, which Sheshnag had once told Vatsyayan. Sheshnag said--After the killing of demon king Ravana, Sri Rama appointed Vibhishan as the king of Lanka. He then decided to return to Ayodhya on Pushpak-Vimana, which Vibhishan had presented to him. He along with Sita, Lakshman, Sugreev and Hanuman boarded the aircraft and flew towards Ayodhya.The earth looked beautiful from such a high altitude and Sri Rama was continuously describing about the importance of various places over which the aircraft flew. As the aircraft was about to enter the airspace of Ayodhya, Sri Rama recognized Bharata, who was living at Nandigram at that time. Bharata had vowed not to enter Ayodhya till the return of Sri Rama, hence he stayed at Nandigram situated at the outskirts of Ayodhya awaiting Sri Rama's return. He led an austere life as the result of which he had become weak and feeble.

On seeing Bharata, Sri Rama instructed Hanuman to inform him about his (Rama's) arrival. Hanuman went to the hermitage of Bharata and informed him about Sri Rama's arrival. Bharata's joy knew no bound and he expressed his desire to reward Hanuman for bringing such auspicious news. Bharata then accompanied Hanuman and went to meet Sri Rama. Sri Rama's heart was filled with grief when he saw Bharata, who looked like a hermit in his 'Valkal' and 'Kaupin'. On the other hand Bharata cursed himself for being the cause of Sri Rama's miseries. Bharata asked for Sri Rama's forgiveness and said---'O Lord! You had to go into exile only because of me. I can never be absolved of my sin.'

Sri Rama consoled him and after taking Bharata into his embrace enquired about his welfare. He told Bharata that he had to undergo the sufferings of exile because of his own destiny. 'You are not at fault. Don't curse yourself for my misery.' said Sri Rama. At last all of them including Bharata boarded Pushpak Vimana and the aircraft took- off for Ayodhya.Continuing with Sri Rama's tale, Sheshnag said--When Sumanth brought the news of Sri Rama's arrival at Ayodhya, people danced in joy, Preparations started being made for Sri Rama's grand reception. The whole city of Ayodhya was decorated with rows of lighted lamps.

Sri Rama and Sita alighted from the Pushpak Vimana and both of them were carried in a palanquin to the palace. People stood in queues on both sides of the road with folded hands. Sri Rama blessed them by raising his hand. First of all Rama went to meet Kaikayi who was full of remorse and guilt. Sri Rama consoled her and then went to meet Sumitra to pay his obeisance to her. At last, he went to meet his own mother--Kaushalya, who was dying to see him. Kaushalya blessed Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshman. Bharata then instructed the royal astrologers to decide upon an auspicious moment for Sri Rama's coronation. Thus Sri Rama became the king of Ayodhya. During his reign peace and prosperity prevailed everywhere. People were virtuous and there was no sign of sin.

RAVANA-- THE MIGHTY DEMON

People of Ayodhya lived peacefully during Sri Rama's reign until one fateful day when they were struck by a bad news--Sri Rama had abandoned Sita after a Washerman leveled an unfair charge against her character. Such was the greatness of Sri Rama that opinion of each and every individual was given due respect irrespective of his position and status. One day, Sage Agastya arrived in the royal court of Sri Rama. After the formal Salutations were over. Sage Agastya complimented Sri Rama for killing Ravana.

Sri Rama asked Agastya--'Who was Ravana-- the tormentor of deities? I am anxious to know about the origin of his whole clan."

Sage Agastya replied--Vishrava was the grandson of Lord Brahma. His father was sage Pulastya. Vishrava had two wives--Mandakini and Kaikasi. Mandakani's son was Kubera while Kaikasi was the mother of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibhishan. Kubera ruled over Lanka. One day, Kubera, came to see his parents boarded on his aircraft--Pushpak Vimana. After he returned to Lanka, Ravana, who was very much impressed by Kubera's royal appearances asked Kaikasi--"Who was this fellow? From where did he acquire such an amazing aircraft."

Kaikasi revealed to Ravana that the guest was none other than his step-brother Kubera. She said--"Kubera is the son of your step mother--Mandakini. He has made his mother proud by his conduct but I am ashamed of you, because of your inconsequential existence. You are no better than a worm."

Ravana decided to prove his mother wrong by acquiring insurmountable power and authority. Ravana went to the forest and performed an austere penance for ten thousand years by standing on one foot. He fixed his gaze at the sun and never for a moment did he remove his gaze from it. Kumbhakarna and Vibhishan also engaged themselves in austere penance. At last, Lord Brahma became pleased and blessed Ravana with a vast kingdom. Ravana then started tormenting his step-brother Kumbhakarna. He snatched Kubera's Pushpak Vimana and drove him out of Lanka. Ravana then turned his attention towards the deities and drove them out of heaven. The deities went to seek the help of Lord Brahma who in turn took them to Lord Shiva. Even Lord Shiva was clueless about the means by which the indomitable Ravana could be subdued. Ultimately all of them including Lord Shiva went to Lord Vishnu and sought his help.

Lord Vishnu assured them by saying ---

"I shall take incarnation as Rama at a place called Ayodhya. Presently, Ayodhya is being ruled by Dashrath, who inspite of having three queens, does not have any son. I shall manifest myself as Rama. Don't worry! I shall eliminate the menace called Ravana." Sage Agastya also told Sri Rama that Ravana belonged to the caste called 'Brahmrakshas'. This way, Sage Agastya after having finished his narration looked at Sri Rama anticipating further queries.

AGASTYA ADVISES SRI RAMA TO PERFORM ASHWAMEDHA YAGYA

Sri Rama requested sage Agastya to tell about the means by which he could become liberated from the sins of killing brahmins. Sage Agastya advised him to perform Ashwamedha Yagya. He also described the rituals of performing Ashwamedha Yagya--- "Get a horse of white colour and after worshipping it on Vaishakh Purnima leave it to wander freely. Tie a piece of paper on its forehead on which your name and other details are mentioned. Soldiers should follow that horse wherever it goes. You should fight a battle against any king who dares to stop the horse. You should lead a celibate life till the horse returns back to the same place from where it had been let loose. It is customary for the performer of Ashwamedha Yagya to indulge himself in benevolent deeds till the completion of Ashwamedha Yagya." Sri Rama agreed to perform Ashwamedha Yagya. He went to the seashore accompanied by numerous sages. He then cultivated a vast expanse of land with the help of a golden plough. A large oblation site was constructed and thus began Ashwamedha Yagya under the supervision of Vashishtha.

THE HORSE IS LET LOOSE

As per the advice of Sage Vashishtha, Sri Rama instructed his soldiers to bring a white-horse. A white parasol was fixed on its back and the horse was decorated with colourful clothes. The horse was then let loose and the faithful soldiers of Sri Rama followed it wherever the horse went.A gold-sheet was hanged in the horse's neck and upon which was inscribed--This horse belongs to Sri Rama, the son of Dasharath. Anybody who dares to stop this horse will meet ruthless punishment.

Shatrughan followed the horse as per the instruction of his elder brother, Sri Rama. Bharata and Pushkal also accompanied him. A huge army led by Kalnemi was marching behind the horse.

LAV FASTENS THE HORSE

Some of the kings tried to stop the horse, but were defeated by Shatrughan. This way the horse continued to move ahead without any problem till it reached the bank of river Ganga. It was early morning and Lav after noticing the presence of horse become curious. He went near the horse and tried to read the inscription hanging down its neck. He made fun of the might of Sri Rama and fastened the horse. The soldiers tried to release the horse but Lav severed their arms. They returned to Shatrughan and narrated the whole incident to him.

LAV VANQUISHES THE WHOLE ARMY

Shatrughan became extremely furious after seeing the condition of his injured soldiers. He instructed Kalnemi to teach Lav a lesson. Kalnemi confronted Lav with a huge army and a ferocious battle took place. Lav managed to kill Kalnemi, which created havoc in the rival's army. The surviving soldiers tried to hold their ground but were forced to flee on account of a fierce assault from Lav.

Shatrughan then ordered Pushkal to fight Lav but he became unconscious after being hit by Lav's arrow. Now, Shatrughan's anger crossed all limits and he ordered Hanuman to kill Lav. Hanuman uprooted a large tree and tried to hit Lav, but Lav cut that tree into hundred pieces with a volley of arrows. Lav then released many arrows in the direction of Hanuman. Hanuman fought valiantly but ultimately he fell down unconscious.

LAV BECOMES UNCONSCIOUS

When Shatrughan learnt about Hanuman's fate he was infuriated and went to fight Lav. But when he saw a tender looking child in front of him he was surprised. Shatrughan asked --

'O brave child! Who are you! Who is your father?'

But Lav was not interested in his irrelevant queries and challenged him for a duel. Shatrughan was left with no other option but to fight. A tremendous battle was fought between them. Shatrughan released volleys of arrow towards Lav but all of them were neutralized by him. For a brief time Shatrughan lost his consciousness. After regaining his consciousness, he aimed his most lethal weapon towards Lav. The arrow hit Lav and he fell down unconscious. Lav's companions went and informed Sita about the whole incident. Kush came forward to fight against Sri Rama's army. When he reached the battlefield he saw Lav who was held captive by the enemy's army's. By that time, Lav had regained his consciousness and after seeing Kush he somehow managed to free himself from the clutches of his captors.

Now, both the brothers launched a fierce attack on the enemy. The whole army of Sri Rama started running helter and shelter. It did not take much time for Lav and Kush to vanquish the whole army. All the great warriors like Hanuman, Sugriva, Pushkal, Angad Veermani and even Shatrughan were either held captive or injured in the battle. Both the brothers fastened Hanuman and Sugriva with ropes and took them to Sita. Sita immediately recognized Hanuman and Sugriva. She instructed both her sons to set them free as well as the horse. Lav and Kush followed the instruction of Sita and released everybody from their captivity. Sita then whispered---'May all the dead soldiers become alive.' Her words came true and all the dead soldiers became alive once again. Shatrughan regained his consciousness too.

THE ARMY RETURNS TO AYODHYA

Shatrughan decided to return to Ayodhya. He instructed Sumati to make all the necessary arrangements for the safe return of the caravan, which comprised not only of Sri Rama's army but also of all the defeated kings and their vanquished armies. When Sri Rama came to know about their arrival, he sent Lakshman to receive them. Lakshman received the victorious army with all the honor and the all of them came to the palace. Sri Rama curiously asked Sumati about everything that had happened.

Sumati paraded all the vanquished kings who had made the mistake of stopping the horse-- Sumad, Sabahu, Daman, Satyavan, Surath, etc. He then narrated the brave deed of Lav and Kush.He also revealed how mighty warriors like Hanuman, Sugriva, Shatrughan etc. had been defeated by both of them.

SRI RAMA SENDS LAKSHMAN TO BRING SITA

Sage Valmiki was present in Ayodhya to attend the Ashwamedha Yagya. Sri Rama asked him about the identity of the two children--Lav and Kush. Valmiki said --- Sita was pregnant at the time you had abandoned her. I gave her refuge in my hermitage where she gave birth to twins--Lav and Kush. Both the children were brought up in my hermitage with love and care. I taught them all the sacred texts and scriptures and made them masters of various weaponries. So, Lav and Kush are your sons. You must bring Sita back to Ayodhya with due honor, because she is pure and chaste. Moreover your whole army owe its life to her."

Sri Rama's heart was filled with grief. He instructed Lakshman to bring Sita along with Lav and Kush. Lakshman went to Valmiki's hermitage and requested Sita to return to Ayodhya. Sita refused to return but sent Lav and Kush along with Lakshman. When Sri Rama found that only Lav and Kush had come, he once again sent Lakshman to bring Sita. Lakshman followed his instruction and went to Valmiki's hermitage for the second time. Meanwhile, Valmiki instructed Lav and Kush to sing the praise of Sri Rama in their melodious voice. Everybody was moved by their soulful rendition. Sri Rama took Lav and Kush in his embrace.

SITA RETURNS TO AYODHYA

Sri Rama eulogised all the revered sages who had arrived to attend the Ashwamedha Yagya. The holy water of Saryu was brought and sprinkled in the yagya kund where Ashwamedha Yagya was being performed, amidst the chanting of vedic mantras. Hardly had Sri Rama touched the horse with his hands then it transformed into a human being. Everybody was amazed by this incident. Sri Rama asked that man as to how he had attained the form of a horse. The man revealed to the assembled people that he had become a horse due to Durvasa's curse. 'Later on Sage Durvasa had mercy on me and assured that I would regain my human form by the divine touch of Sri Rama.'

Having said this the man attained to the heaven. In course of time Sri Rama organised two more Ashwamedha Yagyas and his glory reverberated through all the three worlds.

UTTAR - KHAND

BADRIKASHRAMA

Once, on being asked by the sages about the greatness of Badrikasharama, Suta narrated the same tale, which Lord Shiva had once told sage Narada ---

Lord Mahadeva had told Narada that altogether there were one lakh and twenty-five thousand mountains and Badrikashrama was supreme among them. Lord Mahadeva said---Badrikasharama is the abode of Lord Nara-Narayan. Narayan--the origin of all creations has four arms and his complexion is dark. Narayan manifests himself in both forms--Sakar as well as Nirakar. He is the eternal Purusha and is worshipped by people during the full period of Uttarayan. Since Badrikashrama is covered with snow during the period of Dakshainayan, Narayan is not worshipper during these six months. All the deities dwell at Badrikasharama. The sages live in their hermitages at Badrikasharama. River Alaknanda flows at Badrikasharama. Anybody taking a dip in the holy water of Alaknanda becomes liberated from his sins.

THE DESCENT OF RIVER GANGA

Describing about the reason why river Ganga was brought down on the earth, Lord Mahadeva told Narada--- King Bhagirath was the architect of Ganga's arrival on the earth. He wanted to liberate his dead ancestorss from the curse of Sage Kapila. King Sagar came from the lineage of the famous king--Harishchandra. Sagar had two queens. The elder queen had sixty thousand sons while the younger queen had just one--Panchajan. Panchajan's son was Anshuman, who himself was the father of Dilip. Dilip was the father of Bhagirath.

Bhagirath did an austere penance on the Himalayas for ten thousand years. As a result, river Ganga descended on the earth. I (Shiva) held her in the locks of my hair and she remained there for ten thousand more years. Bhagirath requested me to release Ganga so that his ancestors could be liberated. I agreed to release Ganga and Bhagirath took her to the Patalloka where his ancestor's had been charred to death due to Kapila's curse. Bhagirath sprinkled the water of Ganga on the ashes of his ancestors and each of them attained salvation as a result. Eventually, Ganga resurfaced at Haridwar--the most sacred place of pilgrimage.

DASHARATH PACIFIES SHANI

Sage Narada curiously asked Lord Mahadeva as to what made Shani such a volatile planet.Lord Mahadeva replied--- Shani is extremely violent by nature and everybody is scarred of this planet. Once, the royal astrologer of Dasharath was petrified at the prospect of Shani entering the constellation of Rohini and warned him of its dire consequences. 'If the Shani is not prevented from entering Rohini, then famine would occur lasting for more than twelve years.' said the royal astrologers.

Dasharath went above the sky to subdue the might of Shani well armed with divine weapons. Shani became terrified on seeing Dasharath in such a menacing mood and expressed his willingness to fulfill his desires.

QUALITIES OF A VAISHNAV

Giving a detailed description of the qualities of a Vaishnava, Lord Shiva told Narada ---

A person who has total devotion in Lord Vishnu is called a Vaishnava. He is truthful, kind and forgiving by nature. He engages himself in austere penance and refrains from any kind of violence. He wears a Tulsi bead in his neck and puts on tilak. He is well versed in sacred text like the Vedas, Puranas etc. The mere sight of a Vaishnava is enough to liberate a sinner from all his sins. Feeding a Vaishnava bestowes virtue equivalent to feeding thousand of ordinary brahmins.

INDRAPRASTHA

The sages enquired from Suta about the holiest city situated on the banks of river Yamuna.

Suta narrated the tale which Sage Saubhari had once told Yudhisthira---Once, Narada and Parvat were travelling through an aerial route, while they were flying over Khandav forest, they were lured by the beautiful sight of river Yamuna. They decided to take rest for a while. Both of them descended down and entered river Yamuna to take their bath. Meanwhile, King Shibi who ruled over Ushinar saw them. He eagerly waited at the bank of Yamuna. When Narada and Parvat emerged out of the Yamuna, they found king Shibi eagerly waiting for them. Meanwhile king Shibi had noticed the remains of numerous 'havan-kundas' (oblation-altars) spread in a large area.

After the formal exchanges of pleasantaries were over, King Shibi asked Narada about those havan- kundas.

Narada replied--During ancient times Indra had performed numerous Yagyas at this place to express his gratitude to Lord Vishnu, with whose blessings he had regained the heaven from the clutches of Hiranyakashipu. In course of time, this place became famous as Indraprastha. This sacrosanct place is holier than all the holy places combined together. Indraprastha is spread in the area of one yojan from east to west and four yojans from north to south.

VAIKUNTH--THE ABODE OF LORD VISHNU

Describing about the grandeur of Vaikunth, Lord Shiva told Parvati--A person who has total devotion in Vishnu attains to Vaikunth after his death. Vaikuntha is the abode of Vishnu and constitutes of numerous Janapadas. The magnificence of Vaikunth is beyond description and it houses many grand palaces fully decorated with jewels and diamonds. The central part of Vaikuntha is called Ayodhya and is well protected by dwarpals named Chanda, Prachanda, Bhadra, Subhadra, Jaya, Vijay, Dhata and Vidhata.Vaikunth is inhabited by countless divine people who live in well illuminated houses.

In the central part of Ayodhya is situated the 'antahpuri' of Lord Vishnu. It is inhabited by celestial beauties--apsaras. There is a divine canopy situated just at the center of antahpuri, where Lord Vishnu has his divine throne. The divine throne is surrounded by deities as well as by the embodiments of all the four Vedas--- Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. The deities---Agni, Surya and Chandrama have their dwellings at the center of Vishnu's throne.There is a grand pedestal called yogapeeth established on the throne. A beautiful lotus flower is established on the yogapeeth on which is seated Lord Vishnu along with his consort Lakshmi. Lord Vishnu appears divine in his complexion of a blue lotus, whose radiance is enough to subdue crores of sun. He has radiant ear-rings hangings down his earlobes. His forehead is covered with curly hair. He has the famous 'Kaustubh mani' in his neck. He holds a conch and a chakra in each of his two hands and the remaining two hands are in the posture of giving blessings.

THE INCARNATIONS OF MATSYA AND KURMA

Once, goddess Parvati expressed her desire to know about all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Lord Mahadeva replied-- Lord Brahma had created numerous Prajapatis like Bhrigu, Marichi, Atri, Daksha, Kardam, Pulastya, Pulaha, Angira and Kratu. Marichi was the father of Kashyapa. Sage Kashyapa had four wives--Aditi, Diti, Kadru and Vinta.Aditi was the mother of Deities while Diti gave birth to demons like--Makar, Hayagreeva, Mahabali, Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashipu Jambha, Maya etc. Makar was a mighty demon, who after deceitfully acquiring the Vedas from Lord Brahma had hidden himself inside an ocean. Lord Brahma requested Vishnu to liberate the sacred Vedas from the possession of Makar.

Lord Vishnu then took the incarnation of Matsya and after killing Makar gave back the vedas to Lord Brahma. Durvasa was the son of Sage Atri. Once, he went to Indraloka to see Indra. At that time, Indra was planning to go out somewhere. Durvasa presented a garland of Parijat flowers to Indra. Indra, after receiving the garland from Durvasa kept it carelessly on the forehead of his elephant-Airavat. This garland was trampled under its feet by the elephant, which infuriated Durvasa. He cursed Indra by saying---Immense prosperity has made you arrogant. But you will become a pauper within a very short time.

Durvasa's words came to be true and Indra found that not only the heaven but all the three worlds had become bereft of goddess Lakshmi. Prosperity vanished and poverty prevailed everywhere. The deities became worried and went to take the help of Brahma. Brahma took the deities to Lord Vishnu. Vishnu became pleased with their eulogy and said --

I will take incarnation as Kurma. If the ocean were churned with the help of Mandarachal mountain and Vasuki, then goddess Lakshmi would manifest herself. I shall hold the Mandarachal mountain on my back. This way the churning of ocean commenced. The Mandarachal mountain was uprooted and placed inside the 'Ksheer-Sagar' and which rested on the back of Lord Kurma. The serpent--Vasuki, was held by deities and demons on both the ends. First of all the most venomous poison--Kalkut emerged from the ocean. Seeing both the deities and demons unwilling to accept it. (Lord Shiva) drank it.

After the emergence of Kalkut, goddess Daridra and Varunai manifested themselves. Similarly, Airavat- elephant, Uchchaishrava-horse, Dhanvantari, Surabhi--cow and Parijat- tree emerged from the ocean. Ultimately, goddess Lakshmi manifested herself. The deities requested her to dwell in the heart of Lord Vishnu and bless all the three worlds by her presence. Goddess Lakshmi agreed and blessed them.

NRISIMHA--INCARNATION

Continuing with the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati ---

Sage Kashyapa had two mighty sons from Diti--Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Hiranyaksha had once carried the earth to Rasatala. The deities requested Lord Vishnu to rescue the earth. Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of a boar and killed Hiranyaksha with his sharp horn. When Hiranyakshipu learnt about his brother's death he went to Merugiri mountain and started doing penance to please me (Lord Shiva). I blessed him with immortality, Later on, Hiranyakashipu married Uttanpad's daughter--Kalyani and had a son named Prahlada from her. In spite of being born in the clan of a demon, Prahlada proved to be an extremely religious child and was a supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu.

When Hiranyakshipu came to know about Prahlada's religious tendency, he tried his best to stop him from worshipping Vishnu. But, all his efforts went in vain and Prahlada continued to worship Lord Vishnu.Hiranyakashipu instructed his subordinates to kill Prahlada but each time he came out unharmed. One day, Hiranyakashipu pulled out his sword and said---'You say that Vishnu is omnipresent. Is he present in this pillar?' Having said like this he assaulted the pillar with his sword. Suddenly to his sheer amazement, Lord Vishnu manifested himself from that pillar in the form of Nrisimha.

Hiranyakashipu had been blessed by Lord Shiva that he could be killed neither by a man nor a beast. No weapon could harm him. He could be killed neither during the day nor during the night. Hiranyakashiu had taken into consideration all the possible threat perceptions to his life and tried to become immortal. But, Lord Vishnu takes incarnation to protect the humanity whenever religiousness is under threat. This time, Lord Vishnu took incarnation as Nrisimha (partly lion and partly human) and tore apart his belly with his sharp nails. After the death of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada was coronated as his successor. Prahlada ruled justly and his subject were happy and satisfied.

VAMANA--INCARNATION

Continuing with the various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati ---

Prahlada had a son named Virochan.The most benevolent king--'Mahabahu-Bali' was Virochan's son. Bali had defeated the deities and ruled over all the three worlds. Sage Kashyapa commenced the most austere penance--Payovrata to help the deities regain their lost kingdom (heaven) once again. He was accompanied by his wife--Aditi in his penance which lasted for one thousand years. At last, Lord Vishnu became pleased by their penance and appeared before them. Sage Kashyapa narrated the woeful tales of the deities and requested him to make Indra the Lord of all the three worlds. Lord Vishnu promised that he would take incarnation as Vamana. In course of time, Aditi became pregnant and ultimately gave birth to Lord Vamana. Lord Vamana appeared in the form of a 'Brahmchari'. He wore a deer--Skin and carried a stick and a 'mekhala' in both his hands. Lord Vishnu enquired the deities about the future course of action. The deities informed him that Bali was busy performing a yagya and he would not turn down any demand made to him because if he did so there was a fear of loosing all his virtues attained by the performance of the yagya.

Lord Vamana went to the oblation site where Bali was performing a yagya and demanded a small piece of land measured by his three steps. Bali agreed to meet the demand of his guest inspite of Shukracharya's warning. Bali resolved to donate land by holding holy water in his palm. Now, Lord Vamana abandoned his dwarfish form and appeared in a giant form. He measured the whole earth by his first step. Lord Vishnu then measured the whole sky by his second step. The helpless Bali agreed to donate all the three worlds to protect his vow. Ultimately, Lord Vishnu sent Bali to the Rasatala and thus Indra became the ruler of heaven once again.

SRI RAMA'S BIRTH

Describing about Sri Rama's incarnation Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--'Once, Swayambhuva Manu had expressed his desire of having Lord Vishnu as his son to which Lord Vishnu had agreed. During Treta Yuga Manu manifested himself as Dasharath and Vishnu kept his promise by taking birth as his son--Sri Rama. Similarly, during Dwapar Yuga Manu was born as Vasudev and Lord Vishnu kept his word by taking birth as his son--Krishna. After the completion of one thousand divine years, Manu will be born in the village of Sambhal as Harigupta and Vishnu will take birth as his son--'Kalki'.

Lord Shiva then continued with the incarnation of Sri Rama and said--'Sage Vishrava was the son of Pulasya and was married to Kekashi. Ravana and Kumbhakarna were born to the couple. Sage Vishrava also had a daughter named Shurpanakha and a virtuous son named Vibhishan.Ravana and Kumbhakarna did austere penance to please me (Lord Shiva). When I appeared before Ravana he requested the boon of immortality from me. After receiving the boon, Ravana became very arrogant and started tormenting the inhabitants of all the three worlds. The deities became scarred and took the refuge of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu assured them that he would solve their problem by taking incarnation as Sri Rama.

Dasharath came from the lineage of Surya. He had three queens---Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Once, Dasharath performed a Vaishnav Yagya with the objective of acquiring a son. Lord Vishnu appeared and assured him that he would take incarnation as Sri Rama in a short time. Lord Vishnu gave a bowl of divine kheer to Dasharath, which he distributed amongst his three queens. In course of time, Kaushalya gave birth to Sri Rama on the auspicious day of Chaitra-Navami. The deities and the sages rejoiced at his birth.

SRI RAMA GROWS UP

Continuing with the tale of Sri Rama, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--Dasharath requested Vashishtha to perform the Jatkarm Sanskar of Sri Rama. In course of time Kaikeyi gave birth to Bharata--an incarnation of Panchajanya conch. Similarly, Sumitra gave birth to two sons--Lakshman and Shatrughan. Lakshman was the incarnation of Sheshnag while Shatrughan was the incarnation of Sudershan chakra. Sri Rama and his brothers received education under the guidance of Sage Vashishtha. In a very short time they became proficient in all the scriptures and mastered various weaponaries. Although all the four brothers were very close to each other, yet Lakshman could not bear to live in Rama's separation even for a moment and was specially close to him.

Sita manifested herself from the field while Janaka was ploughing it. King Janaka brought up Sita with great love and care. At that time, Vishwamitra was busy performing a grand yagya at Siddha Ashrama. But the demons created numerous problems and made it impossible for him to accomplish the yagya. Vishwamitra went to Ayodhya and requested Dasharath to send Sri Rama and Lakshman along with him so that the yagya could be accomplished without any problems. Dasharath agreed to send Sri Rama and Lakshman along with Vishwamitra.This way, Vishwamitra returned to his hermitage acompanied by both the brothers. Garuda presented a pair of bow and imperishable set of arrows to both the brothers.

While staying at the hermitage Sri Rama and Lakshman killed many demons like Taraka and Subahu. When Marich tried to disrupt the yagya, Sri Rama attacked him with Pavan-astra, which sent Marich flying across the sea-shore. Meanwhile, on learning that Janaka was performing Vajapeya yagya at Janakapur, Vishwamitra took Sri Rama and Lakshman to attend it. On the way Sri Rama liberated Ahalya who had turned into a rock after being cursed by her husband. After reaching Janakapur, Sri Rama broke Lord Shiva's bow and married Sita. Lakshman married Urmila. Dasharath had come to attend the marriage ceremony accompanied by Bharata and Shatrughan. Bharata was married to Mandavi while Shatrughan married Shrutkeerti.

Meanwhile, on learning that Sri Rama had broken Shiva's bow, Parshurama arrived there and challenged him, but ultimately Parashurama realized about the divinity of Sri Rama and accepted his superiority. At last, Sri Rama, Lakshman, Bharata and Shatrughan returned to Ayodhya along with their respective consorts.

SRI RAMA'S EXILE

Lord Mahadeva continued with the tale of Sri Rama and told Parvati --Dasharath wanted to appoint Sri Rama as his successor but Kaikeyi did not like this idea. She wanted Bharata to be made the king of Ayodhya and Sri Rama to be sent into exile for 14 years. Once, Kaikeyi had saved Dasharath's life while he was fighting a battle against the demons. To show his gratitude, Dasharath had promised two boons to her. At that time, Kaikeyi had told Dasharath that she would make her demand at the appropriate time.

This way, Dasharath was compelled by Kaikeyi to accept the two demands. As a result, Sri Rama was sent into exile. Bharata refused to become the king of Ayodhya and vowed to wait till Sri Rama returned. Dasharath could not bear the sorrow of Rama's separation and died in his sorrow. Bharata tried his best to convince Sri Rama to change his mind and accept the throne, but Sri Rama did not listen to his request. Bharata then brought Sri Rama's wooden-sandal and kept it on the throne. He vowed to spend rest of his life in austerities till Sri Rama returned.

While Sri Rama was still in exile, he went to the hermitage of Sage Atri and received his blessings. Atri's wife- Anasuya preached Sita on the virtues of chastity. Sri Rama also visited hermitages of some other prominent sages like Sharbhanga, Suteeksha, Agastya etc. Once, while Sri Rama was living in Panchavati, Shurpanakha arrived there. Shurpanakha was Ravana's sister and wanted to marry Sri Rama, But Lakshman severed her nose and ears. She went to a mighty demon named Khar and narrated her woeful tale. Khar attacked Rama with a huge army, which comprised of brave warriors like Trishira Dushan etc. Rama was Victorious in this battle and Khar, Trishira and Dushan were killed.

Shurpanakha went to Ravana and informed him about the misdeeds of Rama. Ravana was infuriated and wanted to take revenge. He abducted Sita with the help of Marich.When Jatayu saw Ravana carrying Sita to Lanka, he fought with valiance but was injured in the ensuing battle. Sri Rama went in search of Sita and met Jatayu, who was injured and who informed Rama that Sita had been abducted by the demon king Ravana. Sri Rama met Hanuman at the Rishyamook mountain. Later on he befriended Sugriva on the advice of Hanuman. Sugriva had enemity with his brother-Bali. Sri Rama killed Bali and made Sugriva the king.

Sri Rama requested Hanuman to find out the whereabouts of Sita. Hanuman went to Lanka and found Sita at Ashoka Vatika. He destroyed the garden and killed many demons including Ravana's son--Akshay Kumar. Ultimately, he was captured by Meghnath and taken to Ravana's court. Ravana ordered Hanuman's tail to be ignited. Hanuman then burnt the city of Lanka and returned to Sri Rama. When Sri Rama came to know about the exact location of Sita, he decided to attack Lanka with a huge army, which comprised of monkeys. The army camped at the sea-shore where Vibhishan came to meet him.

A bridge was built across the ocean and the army reached Lanka. A fierce battle took place in which many demons were killed. At last, Ravana came forward to fight against Sri Rama but was killed. Sri Rama appointed Vibhishan as the king of Lanka and blessed him. Vibhishan presented his pushpak Vimana to Sri Rama. All of them boarded the Pushpak Vimana and flew towards Ayodhya. On the way Sri Rama met Bharata who was still awaiting his arrival at Nandigram. Sri Rama was very pleased to meet Bharata. Ultimately all of them returned to Ayodhya.

SRI RAMA'S CORONATION

Describing the coronation of Sri Rama Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--People of Ayodhya rejoiced at the return of Sri Rama. An auspicious day was chosen for his coronation and Sri Rama became the king of Ayodhya amidst the chantings of Vedic mantras. Sri Rama ruled over Ayodhya for one thousand years without any problem. Meanwhile, some ignorant people started pointing out fingers at the character of Sita. Sri Rama decided to abandon Sita in the forest to quell the rumour. Sita was pregnant at that time. Feeling pity on her condition, Valmiki took her to his hermitage where Sita gave birth to Lav and Kush.

Meanwhile Sri Rama decided to perform Ashwamedha Yagya at the bank of river Gomati. But, since the yagya could not have been accomplished without Sita, therefore he performed the rituals seated beside a golden idol of Sita. In the mean time Valmiki arrived there, accompanied by Sita. He requested Sri Rama to accept Sita, vouching for her chastity. Sri Rama told Valmiki--'I am confident of Sita's chastity but she will have to prove her chastity for the satisfaction of common people.'

Sita was deeply hurt by Sri Rama's unkind remarks. She said--'May mother earth swallow me if I ever had thought about any man other than my lord Sri Rama.' Hardly had Sita finished her lines than the earth cracked and Sita vanished into that crevice. Sri Rama's heart was filled with remorse but thinking that it was perhaps in his destiny to live in separation with Sita, returned to Ayodhya accompanied by Lav and Kush. In course of time, Kaushalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi left for heavenly abode. Sri Rama continued to rule Ayodhya for 10,000 more years.

One day, Kala (death) arrived and reminded Sri Rama that the time had arrived for him to leave his mortal body. Meanwhile Lakshman became aware of Sri Rama's decision of leaving his mortal body. He gave up his life by taking samadhi in river Saryu. Sri Rama could not bear the sorrow caused by Lakshman's bereavment. He appointed Lav and Kush as the kings of Dwarawati and Kushawati respectively and decided to leave for heavenly abode. Sri Rama entered the water of river Saryu, flowing at the distance of three yojans from Ayodhya.

SRI KRISHNA

Parvati requested Lord Mahadeva to narrate the divine tales of Vasudeva Krishna. Lord Mahadeva replied--Vasudev was the descendant of yadu. His father was Devameedha. He was married to Devaki--the daughter of Ugrasena.Ugrasena also had a mighty son named Kansa. Kansa was extremely affectionate towards his sister Devaki. After her marriage, while Devaki was going to her husband's house on a chariot being driven by Kansa, suddenly a heavenly voice was heard.

'Kansa, you would meet death at the hands of Devaki's eighth son.'

Kansa became very scarred and wanted to kill his sister then and there. But, Vasudev requested Kansa to spare Devaki's life and promised to hand over any child that she gave birth to. Thus Kansa imprisoned both Vasudev and Devaki.In course of time, Devaki gave birth to seven sons and Kansa killed each of them. Lord Sri Hari manifested himself when Devaki conceived for the eighth time. It was the month of Shravana and the day was 'Krishna-ashtami' when Sri Hari took his incarnation at midnight. Soon after taking his incarnation he gave a glimpse of his divine form to Vasudev and Devaki. On the instruction of Sri Hari, Vasudeva carried the infant to Nand's house. He had no problem in moving out of the prison as all the guards had fallen asleep due to the illusion of Sri Hari.

On seeing the swift currents of overflooded yamuna, Vasudev became worried. But the level of river Yamuna receded as soon as Sri Krishna touched the river with his feet. Sheshnag protected Sri Krishna from heavy rain with his thousand hoods. When Vasudev reached Nand's house he found that Nand's wife-- Yashoda had given birth to a baby girl. Yashoda was sleeping at that time and Vasudev had no problem in exchanging Sri Krishna with that baby girl. Vasudev then returned to the prison and laid down the baby girl beside Devaki.

The baby-girl started crying and the guards immediately woke up. They informed Kansa about the birth of Devaki's eighth child. Kansa tried to kill that baby girl by smashing her head, but she escaped from his hands and flew up in the sky. She thundered---'Your death is certain as your assasin has already taken birth.' Kansa was terrified at the prospect of his death. He instructed his soldiers to kill all the infants' whereever they were to be found in his kingdom. He also ordered the release of Vasudev and Devaki, as there was no point keeping them in captivity. Meanwhile, Sri Krishna grew up under the guardianship of Nand and Yashoda.

One day Kansa sent a wicked ogress named Putna to kill Sri Krishna. Putma had applied poison on her breasts and tried to kill Krishna by breast-feeding him. Sri Krishna sucked her breast with such ferocity that she died. Thus, Sri Krishna gave the first glimpse of his divinity to the inhabitants of Vajra. Sri Krishna accomplished many such divine deeds during his childhood. He grew up to be a mischieveous child and used to play numerous pranks on the fellow Gopis. He used to steal their butter and curd. One day, all the Gopis complained to Yashoda about Sri Krishna's misdeeds. Yashoda became angry and tied him with a wooden-mortar in order to prevent him from troubling the Gopis. She then placed that mortar between two trees so that Krishna could not move. But, Sri Krishna toddled away uprooting both the huge trees.

Once, a demon named Bakasur disguised himself as a huge heron and tried to kill Sri Krishna. But, Sri Krishna hit him with a stone with such force that he met an instant death. This way Sri Krishna had killed many ferocious demons while he was still a small child. Some of them well Kaliya--the serpent etc, Dhenukasur, Arisht, Keshi etc. A significant incident had occurred during Krishna's childhood. People of Vraja were devotees of Indra and used to worship him. Sri Krishna stopped this tradition and encouraged people to worship Govardhan mountain. Indra became extremely furious and caused incessant rain for one week. Sri Krishna protected the people by lifting Govardhan mountain and shielding them from the continuous downpour. At last, Indra accepted defeat and eulogized Sri Krishna.

KILLING OF KANSA

Continuing with the divine tales of Sri Krishna, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--When Kansa failed in his repeated attempts to kill Sri Krishna, he instructed 'Akrura' to invite both Krishna and Balarama to Mathura on the pretext of attending a ceremony called Dhanush-yagya. Kansa had planned to kill Sri Krishna by deceitful means. Akrura was a great devotee of Sri Krishna and was aware of Kansa's evil intentions. But, he had no other option but to follow the command of his master Kansa. So, Akrura went to Vraja where Sri Krishna and Balarama used to live.

Sri Krishna and Balarama were delighted to meet Akrura. After the formal exchange of pleasantaries, Krishna took Akrura to his home. Akrura conveyed the instructions of Kansa to Nanda and requested him to send both Sri Krishna and Balarama to Mathura. Akrura said--'Sri Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Kansa will be killed by him.'Nanda and Yashoda were reluctant to send Sri Krishna to Mathura but Sri Krishna convinced them, Ultimately. Akrura returned to Mathura accompanied by Krishna and Balarama. The people of Vraja became sad when the time for Krishna's departure to Mathura arrived.

When Akrura reached Mathura accompanied by Sri Krishna and Balarama it was already evening. Sri Krishna saw a dyer with colourful apparels going towards Kansa's palace. Sri Krishna playfully demanded some set of clothes from that dyer which he refused to give. Sri Krishna was infuriated and slapped him so hard that he started vomiting blood. In a short time the dyer was dead. Sri Krishna and Balarama chose some beautiful set of clothes for themselves and proceeded towards the palace of Kansa. After sometime they met a crooked woman carrying 'sandal-wood-paste'. Sri Krishna demanded some sandal wood paste from her, which she gave without any hesitation. Sri Krishna blessed that crooked woman as a result of which she was cured of her physical--deformity.

At last, both Sri Krishna and Balarama reached the oblation--site where 'Dhanush-yagya' was suppossed to be performed. Sri Krishna lifted the divine bow kept there and broke it into two pieces. When Kansa learnt that the divine bow had been broken, he ordered Chanur to kill Krishna in a wrestling-bout. Kansa also fortified his palace by positioning wild elephants and mighty warriors at all the entrance-points. Sri Krishna and Balarama spent the night at the oblation-site. In the morning both of them proceeded towards the palace. Sri Krishna found an elephant named Kuvalyapeeda standing at the main entrance of the palace. He killed that ferocious elephant without much difficulty.

Sri Krishna and Balarama then entered the gymnasium where wrestling-bouts were supposed to take place. All the demons those who had witnessed Sri Krishna killing that huge elephant without any problem, became terrified and fled away from the gymnasium. Sri Krishna and Balarama entered the chamber of Kansa. Kansa became terrified and ordered his trusted lientenants--Chanur and Mushtik to kill Krishna.Chanur confronted Sri Krishna while Mushtik fought a duel with Balarama. Ultimately, both the demons were killed after a fierce duel. Now, Kansa was left all alone, Sri Krishna pulled Kansa from the throne where he was sitting and slapped him so hard that he fell down on the ground. The injury proved to be fatal and as a result Kansa died. Balarama also killed Kansa's younger brother whose named was Sunama.

After killing Kansa, Krishna and Balarama went to meet their parents--Vasudev and Devaki. They also freed their maternal grandfather- Ugrasena who had been imprisioned by Kansa. At last they appointed Ugrasena as the king of Mathura.

JARASANDH

Jarasandh was the father-in-law of Kansa. When he learnt about Kansa' death he surrounded Mathura with a huge army. Sri Krishna was well aware of Jarasandh's might and bravery. He was also convinced that it would not be easy to defeat Jarasandh. So, he remembered Daruk--his eternal charioteer and sought his help. Daruk appeared with a divine chariot named Sugriva--pushpak. The chariot was well armed with all the divine weapons of lord Vishnu.

Sri Krishna and Balarama then entered the battlefied mounted on that divine chariot. A fierce battle was fought between Sri Krishna and Jarasandh's army. Jarasandh covered Krishna chariot with his various weapons but Sri Krishna destroyed them with his 'Chakra'. Sri Krishna then destroyed Jarasandh's army by showering volley of arrows from his famous bow--Sharang. Seeing the death and destruction in his army, Jarasandh came forward to fight Balarama.

Balarama attacked Jarasandh with his dangerous weapon--Hala (plough) and destroyed his chariot. Jarasandh fell down on the ground and as Balarama was about to kill him Sri Krishna requested Balarama not to kill Jarasandh. After being defeated, Jarasandh sought the help of Kalyan, who had a large army. Kalyavan agreed to help Jarasandh and surrounded Mathura with his army.

Realizing that Mathura was no longer a safe place to live, Sri Krishna shifted the whole population of Mathura to Dwarka and went to fight Kalyavan. The battle continued for a long period and after realizing that it was not easy to defeat his enemy, Sri Krishna, ran towards the cave where 'Muchkund' had been sleeping since many past eras. Muchkund was blessed with a boon according to which any person upon whom he put his glance after waking from his sleep would die. Krishna hid himself behind Muchkund. Kalyavan, who was chasing Krishna, entered the cave and kicked Muchkund. Muchkund opened his eyes and saw Kalyavan. Kalyavan was burnt to ashes. This way, Sri Krishna was able to defeat his powerful enemy by his cleverness.

ABDUCTION OF RUKMINI

Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--- When Jarasandh learnt about Kalyavan's death, he attacked Balarama to avenge his friend's death. But, very soon he realized that it was beyond his capacity to defeat Balarama, so he retreated alongwith his army. Sri Krishna and Balarama returned to Dwarka.In course of time, Balarama married Revati--the daugher of Raivat. At that time, there ruled a king named Bhismak. He ruled over Vidarbha. He had a beautiful daughter named Rukmini. He also had many sons among whom Rukmi was prominent.

Rukmi wanted Rumini to get married to Shishupal much against her wishes. Rukmini being an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi rightly wanted o have Sri Krishna as her husband. Rukmini sent a message to Sri Krishna about her brother's intention. Sri Krishna went to help her, accompanied by Balarama. Sri Krishna reached Vidarbha on the same day, Rukmini was supposed to marry Shishupal and abducted her to Dwarka. Jarasandh and Rukmi chased Krishna's chariot but Balarama defeated Jarasandh while Sri Krishna fastened Rukmi with the chariot. Sri Krishna also shaved off Rukmi's hair, which filled him with so much of shame that he decided not to return to Vidarbha.After reaching Dwarka, Sri Krishna married Rukmini on an auspicious day.

SRI KRISHNA'S QUEENS

Continuing with the divine tales of Sri Krishna, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--Sri Krishna had 16 thousand queens among whom Satyabhama, Kalindi, Mitravinda, etc. were prominent. King Sattajit had a priceless diamond named--Syamantak, which he had presented to his younger brother--Prasena. Sri Krishna was fascinated by that diamond and demanded it from Prasena, which he refused to part with.

One day, Sri Krishna alongwith Prasena and other Yadavas went into the forest for hunting. While chasing a deer, Prasena seceded from his group and was killed by a lion. The lion took the diamond and started playing with it. Incidentally, Jambavan--who had once fought along with Sri Rama against Ravana, saw the lion playing with the diamond. He killed that lion and took the diamond in his possession.

When Sri Krishna returned to Dwarka, he was surprised by a strange rumour, which pervaded the whole city. Some people suspected that Sri Krishna had killed Prasena for the diamond. Sri Krishna was very much distributed by this baseless rumour. To clear the doubts, he went into the forest accompanied by all the residents of Dwarka and showed the dead body of Prasena, which was still lying there. When people saw the mutilated corpse of Prasena, which bore marks of the lion's claws and canines, they became convinced of Sri Krishna's innocense.

While returning back to Dwarka, Sri Krishna saw an effulgent cave. Sri Krishna was very surprised and wanted to find out the source of light. He entered the cave and saw Prasena's diamond hanging on top of a cradle, in which a child was lying. A woman was singing a lulaby so that the child falls asleep---'The lion killed Prasena while Jambavan killed the lion and acquired this diamond from its possession. O child! Don't cry as this priceless diamond belongs to your father.'Sri Krishna furiously blew his conch. Jambavan came out from the cave after listening to the sound of the conch. A fierce duel took place between them, which continued for ten days. At last, Jambavan realized that the person against whom he was fighting was none other than Sri Rama himself. Jambhavan then gave his daughter--Jambavati to Krishna in marriage and gave lot of wealth as dowry including that 'Syamantak' diamond. Bhadraraj had three daughters--Sulakshamana, Nagnajiti and Susheela. Sri Krishna had married all three of them in a 'Swayamwara'. This way, Sri Krishna had altogether eight prominent queen consorts--Rukmini, Satyabhama, Kalindi, Mitravinda, Jambavati, Nagnajiti, Sulakshamana and Susheela.

There lived a mighty demon named Narakasur. He had defeated the deities and snatched the divine earrings of Aditi--the mother of deities. He had created an aerial city in which he lived alongwith other demons. The deities went to Sri Krishna and sought his help. Sri Krishna flew up in the sky mounted on the back of Garuda. Satyabhama was also accompanying him. Sri Krishna was amazed to see the well fortified palace of Narakasur. When the demons saw Srikrishna, they attacked him but Sri Krishna challenged them by blowin his conch. Narakasur came forward to fight Sri Krishna. A fierce battle took place in which Sri Krishna broke Narakasur's bow with his arrows. Ultimately, Sri Krishna was successful in killing Narakasur.

Sri Krishna then returned the whole wealth to the deities, which Narakasur had looted from them. He also liberated sixteen thousand women whom Narakasur had imprisoned. After being liberated all the women accepted Sri Krishna as their husband.

ANIRUDHA MARRIES USHA

Lord Mahadeva continued with the divine tales of Sri Krishna--O Parvati! Sri Krishna had a son from Rukmini whose name was 'Aniruddha'. Aniruddha was very brave and had killed a demon named Shambasur. There is an interesting tale how Aniruddha married Usha.

Once, Usha--the daughter of Banasur, saw a very handsome young man in her dreams. She was so infatuated by his handsome personality that she developed a deep desire of marrying him. When she woke up next morning, she expressed her desire to her companion--Chitralekha. Chitralekha was an accomplished painter. She drew a sketch of a handsome man as per the descriptions of Usha. When the painting was ready, Chitralekha revealed to Usha that the preson who she had seen in her dream was none other than Aniruddha.

Chitralekha had divine powers. She went to Dwarka and abducted Aniruddha while he was asleep. She then carried Aniruddha and laid him on the bed of Usha. When Usha woke up, she was thrilled to see the man of her dreams. Aniruddha remained there for many days without Banasur being aware of his presence. One day, Banasur came to know about Aniruddhas' presence. He became furious and imprisoned Aniruddha. Sage Narada informed Sri Krishna about Aniruddha's imprisonment. Sri Krishna went to fight a battle against Banasur and release Aniruddha from his imprisonment. Although Sri Krishna was leading a large army and was accompanied by mighty warriors like Baldeva and Pradyumna yet he was aware that it was not easy to fight Banasur who had one thousand arms and whom Lord Shiva had vowed to protect.

A fierce battle commenced between the armies of Sri Krishna and Lord Shiva. The battle remained indecisive for a long time. Meanwhile, Banasur came forward to fight against Sri Krishna. Very soon Sri Krishna severed all the thousand hands of Banasur with his 'chakra'. Lord Shiva then requested Sri Krishna to spare Banasur's life and said -'Banasur has received the boon of immortality from me. Now, only you can protect the dignity of my boon given to him.' Sri Krishna spared Banasur's life. Banasur then agreed to marry his daughter to Aniruddha. This way Aniruddha married Usha with great fanfare.

THE DECLINE OF YADU DYNASTY

Parvati was listening to the divine tales of Sri Krishna with rapt attention. Lord Mahadeva told Parvati-- 'Paundrak was the king of Kashi. He did an austere penance for twelve years to please me. When I appeared before him, he requested me to make his appearance look like Sri Krishna. I blessed him with an appearance similar to that of Sri Krishna. People became confused as to who the real Krishna was.

One day, Narada arrived at Kashi and castigated Paundrak by saying that his intention of befooling people would not meet success as long as real Krishna was alive. Paundrak went to Dwarka with a large army and challenged Sri Krishna for a duel. Sri Krishna severed the impersonator's head with his chakra. Meanwhile, Jarasandh continued to torment the yadavas. Sri Krishna decided to settle the matter for once and all. He advised Bhima to challenge Jarasandh for a wrestling-bout.

Jarasandh and Bhima fought valiantly for 27 days. While both of them were fighting, Sri Krishna signalled Bhima to tear apart Jarasandh's thighs. After the killing of Jarasandh, Sri Krishna released all the kings who had been imprisoned by him. After the great war of Mahabharata had ended, Yudhisthira decided to perform a Rajasuya-yagya at Indraprashth. Sri Krishna also went there to bless the Pandavas. Shishupal was also present at the ceremony. He had an old grudge against Sri Krishna and started abusing him. Initially Krishna tried to overlook his abuses but when situation went beyond repair Sri Krishna severed his head with his chakra.

Dantavaktra attacked Mathura to avenge the death of Shishupal. A long battle was fought at the bank of river yamuna, which continued for many days. Ultimately, Sri Krishna was successful in killing Dantavaktra with his mace. There was a childhood friend of Sri Krishna whose name was Sudama. He was a poor brahmin. Once, he went to meet Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna, being an incarnation of the almighty immediately understood the precarious situation his poor friend was living in. He blessed Sudama as a result of which he got rid of his poverty and became prosperous. Sri Krishna had one crore sons from his sixteen thousand queens. Pradyumna was his eldest son. The Yadavas dominated the whole earth and had become arrogant after being intoxicated by their power. There is an interesting tale how this powerful Yadava dynasty met their downfall --

Once, some young Yadavas played a prank with Sage Kanva, which caused the downfall of the Yadavas. One day, some Yadva children went at the bank of river Narmada where sage Kanva was doing penance. Samba was one of those Yadava children. He disguised himself as a pregnant woman by keeping a pestle under his clothes. All the Yadava children then went near Sage Kanva and asked him as to when was the pregnant woman supposed to deliver a child. Sage Kanva furiously cursed them that the whole clan of Yadavas would be liquidated because of that very pestle. All the children were scarred and told Sri Krishna about the mistake they had made. Sri Krishna ordered that the iron pestle be crushed to powder and be thrown into a pond. But, that was not the end of the matter, as long reeds grew all around the pond. The reeds had very sharp edges. A fish swallowed a small part of that iron pestle and was subsequently caught by a fowler, who retrieved that iron-piece from the fish and fixed it on the top of his arrow.

In course of time all the Yadavas developed enemity among themselves and killed each other with those sharp-edged reeds. Once, Sri Krishna was taking rest under the shade of 'Kalpa' tree. The fowler mistook his pink foot to be that of a deer and pierced it with his arrow. When the fowler arrived at the spot he found Sri Krishna in an injured condition. The fowler regretted his action and begged for Sri Krishna's pardon. Sri Krishna consoled the fowler by saying that he had committed no crime. Meanwhile, Daruk arrived there on his chariot. Sri Krishna instructed Daruk to call Arjuna as soon as possible. Arjuna arrived at the site within a short time. Sri Krishna told Arjuna--'The time for my final departure has arrived. Please call all my eight queen consorts.'

Arjuna rushed towards Dwarka to summon the queens but Sri Krishna had already left for his heavenly abode before he could come back with the queens. Arjuna informed the queens about Sri Krishna's injury. In a short time the news spread like a wild fire and all the residents of Dwarka rushed towards the site of incident. After reaching there, the eight queens of Krishna found that their beloved husband had already departed. All of them gave up their lives and united with Sri Krishna. The great Yadavas like Vasudev, Ugrasena and Akrura followed suit. Balarama could not bear the sorrow caused by Sri Krishna's separation and he gave up his life. His wife--Revati entered the burning pyre with her husband's body in her lap. Similarly all the rest of Sri Krishna's family members like Rukmi's daughter, Pradyumna, Usha and Aniruddha left for heavenly abode.

Arjuna performed the last rite of all the dead Yadavas. Eventually, Dwaraka got submerged into the ocean. Thus, Sri Krishna after having liberated the earth from all the sinners left his mortal body. After completing his story Lord Mahadeva told Parvati that Sri Krishna takes incarnation whenever there is predominance of sin or sinners. He also revealed to her that Sri Krishna would incarnate as Kalki at the fag end of Kali Yuga to liquidate the 'mlechchhas'.

RITUALS OF VISHNU WORSHIP

Describing about the rituals connected with the worship of lord Vishnu, lord Mahadeva told Parvati-- A devotee can worship Lord Vishnu by making his idol. This mode of worship is known as 'Sthapita' (installation of an idol). There are also some sacred places related with lord Vishnu which are called 'Swayam-Vyakata' (self manifested) like Indradyumna Sarovar, (Kurma sthan), Kashi, Prayag, Dwarka, Naimisharanya, Mathura etc. In all these holy places, Lord Vishnu had manifested himself. A devotee should get up early in the morning and perform 'achaman'. He should then chant the holy name of Lord Vishnu. He should take his bath and sit down to worship Lord Vishnu.

A devotee should install idols of Lakshmi-Narayana on a beautiful pedestal and adorn it with flowers. He should then make offerings of various articles like akshat, fruits, flowers, etc. to the deity. While worshipping, it is most necessary that a devotee followes the rituals as mentioned in the ancient scriptures like Shruti, Smriti, Vedas etc. He should chant the shlokas of Purusha-Sukta as well as the cryptic mantra for the accomplishment of 'Shodashopachar'. He should light a ghee lamp and make offerings of articles like camphor and betel leaves to Lord Vishnu. While making offerings in the sacrificial-fire, chanting of a shloka either from Purushasukta or Srisukta is mandatory.

There are some specific days which are considered to be specially auspicious for the worship of lord Vishnu--Amavasya, Saturday, solar eclipse, lunar eclipse etc.

LORD VISHNU--THE ALMIGHTY GOD

Describing about the superiority of Lord Vishnu among the trinity Gods' Sage Vashishtha narrated the following tale--During ancient times, Swayambhuva manu had once gone to Mandarachal mountain to perform a yagya. Many scholars and learned men had come to attend that yagya. Very soon, they got into a debate as to who was the supreme among all the deities. Some of them eulogised the greatness of Brahma, while some said that lord Shiva was the greatest of all the deities. Failing to come to any conclusion all of them requested Sage Bhrigu to find out as to who was the greatest among the trinity Gods.

Sage Bhrigu went to meet Lord Shiva at Kailash mountain. He saw Nandi standing guard at the main entrance. Sage Bhrigu arrogantly ordered Nandi to inform Lord Shiva of his arrival. Nandi refused to comply with Bhrigu's command. Sage Bhrigu cursed Lord Shiva by saying--Your master- Shiva, would bear the consequences of showing disrespect to me. From today onwards people would make offerings of forbidden articles to him.'

Sage Bhrigu then went to meet Lord Brahma. After reaching Brahmaloka, he made salutations to lord Brahma.Lord Brahma also did not give any respect to Sage Bhrigu and neglected him. Sage Bhrigu became furious and cursed Lord Brahma---'Being intoxicated by your Rajoguna, you have shown disrespect to me. From today onwards people will not worhsip you.' Sage Bhrigu then went to meet Lord Vishnu at his abode- Ksheersagar. He did not have any problem in reaching the place where Lord Vishnu was taking rest on Sheshnag, engrossed in his yoganidra. Goddess Lakshmi was pressing Vishnu's legs with total devotion. Sage Bhrigu kicked Lord Vishnu on his chest. Lord Vishnu woke up and seeing sage Bhrigu said---'O Great Brahmin! Your tender foot must have got hurt because of my chest, which is as hard as Vajra. How blessed I am to have been touched by a brahmin's foot.'

Lord Vishnu got up and eulogised Sage Bhrigu. This gesture of Lord Vishnu made Sage Bhrigu cry in joy. Now, he was convinced as to who was the supreme among all the three deities. Sage Bhrigu returned to Mandarachal mountain where all the sages were anxiously waiting for him. He declared--

'Lord Brahma is the possesser of Rajoguna, while Lord Shiva possesses tamoguna. Only Lord Vishnu is the proud possessor of Satvaguna and hence He is the supreme among all three of them.' After finishing his tale, Sage Vashishtha told the sages that anybody who worships Lord Vishnu with complete faith and total devotion become liberated from all his sins. A devotee of Lord Vishnu attains to Vishnu Loka after his death.

PARSHURAMA

Describing Lord Vishnu's incarnation as Parshurama, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--Sage Jamadagni came from the lineage of Bhrigu. He had pleased Indra by his tremendous penance and received Surabhi cow in return. In course of time he married the daughter of king Renuk whose name was Renuka. A child was born to them, who was named 'Rama' by Sage Bhrigu. The child was also known as 'Jamadganya' because of Jamdagni.

After growing up, Rama became proficient in all the scriptures. He also mastered various weaponaries. One day, the king of Haihaya named Arjuna arrived at the hermitage of Jamadagni. Sage Jamdagni treated the king with due honor and respect. He presented numerous gifts to the king. Arjuna wanted nothing else but the Surabhi--cow from Sage Jamdagni which he was unwilling to part away with. Ultimately, Arjuna forcibly took away the divine cow. The cow was unwilling to go alongwith Arjuna and she attacked his army with her sharp horns. As a result, Arjuna's whole army was liquidated within no time. The revengeful Arjuna killed Jamadagni. At the time of this incident. Rama was not present in the hermitage.

Rama wanted to avenge his father's death and did a tremendous penance to please Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu became pleased by his devotion and presented many divine weapons to him. The weapons included the famous axe--Parshu and Vaishnav-bow. After acquiring Parshu from Lord Vishnu, Rama became famous as Parshurama. He had vowed to kill all the Kshatriyas, which he did only, the clan of Ikshavaku was spared by him as he had promised his mother that he would not harm Ikshavaku and his clan.

After freeing the earth from the terror of Kshatriyas, Parshurama performed an Ashwamedha Yagya and donated his whole kingdom, to the brahmins. He then went to do penance at the hermitage of Nar-Narayan.

Home

3. VISHNU PURANA

PART ONE

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION AND ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE

Sage Parashar, the exponent of Vishnu Purana had narrated this treatise to Maitreya. Sage Suta inherited it from Maitreya. The text presented here is narrated by Suta.

Suta says- One day, Maitreya greeted sage Parashar and said- "Gurudev, you have studied all the scriptures. I wish to hear the tale of universe's origin from you. How will be the ages that are about to come? What is the reason for this whole creation? Who created it? Where did it exist? Whom did it mingle with? And with whom it will annihilate eventually? Apart from these, I also wish to hear about the expansion of fathomless sky, origin of ocean and mountains, origin of earth, expansion of the Sun, division of time in four ages, Pralaya, religion, sages, kings, creation of Vedas by Veda Vyasa, origin of four classes in society and system of four ashramas in one's life."

Parashar says: "Maitreya, you have reminded me today of the description once made by my grandfather Vashishta. When I learnt that the monster, which was created by Vishwamitra, had devoured my father, I grew quite angry and started a Yagya to destroy all the monsters. The Yagya destroyed such a large number of monsters that the whole race began to face the fear of extinction. My grandfather consoled me that too much anger was not good and that all the monsters could not be blamed for my father's death. According to my grandfather my father was sure to face such a fate ultimately. Only the fools get angry. A human being bears the fruit of his deeds himself. O son! Anger destroys all the virtues of penance. Hence, ascetics always shun anger. Hence, stop this Yagya for forgiving has always been the virtue of ascetics."

Thus, convinced by my grandfather, I stopped the Yagya. At the same time, Brahma's son, Pulastya, arrived there and said- "Despite your anger, you forgave the monsters when convinced by your grandfather Vashishta. You will learn all the scriptures and give commentaries on Puranas. You will also learn the real appearance of the gods". Vashishta also endorsed these words of Pulastya.

"O Maitreya! Now I narrate to you, the whole contents of Purana. This whole universe has originated from Lord Vishnu. It is existing within Him and will annihilate in Him eventually."

Parashar says: "The trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh is also known as the creator, the preserver and the destroyer. All of them save the devotees. All of them have equal importance. Still, preserver who fosters and protects all the living beings is far more significant. I salute to Him and narrate the tale that was once narrated by Brahma to all the Dakshas. Dakshas had narrated this tale to the King Purukutsa at the bank of the river Narmada. In turn, Purukutsa narrated this tale to Saraswat who narrated it to me."

"O Brahmin! Lord is eternal and endless. Hence, origin of universe, its existence and annihilation are also unending processes. During the period of Pralaya, the nature exists in a state of equilibrium. It is during this period that Purusha (masculine forces of creation) separates from Prakriti (feminine forces of creation) and Kalroop of Vishnu (eternal, unending form of the Lord) is manifested. Lord Vishnu is beyond all the bonding of life like birth, growth, intelligence, senses, decay and death. Purusha is the first appearance of Lord Vishnu. Prakriti is the manifestation of His action while Kalroop is His supreme appearance."

During the Pralaya, there was neither day nor night, neither earth nor sky and neither darkness nor light. At the subsidence of Pralaya, with His desire, the Lord entered the Purusha who is beyond all bonding. His entry stimulated the process of creation. First of all, a single great element originated encompassing all the other lesser elements. From this great element originated three egos- Sattvic, Rajas and Tamas. Tamas created sky with sound as the main virtue. The sky then created the sense of touch. Touch produced air. Hence, touch is the main feature of air; no one can see air but only have an experience of it through touch. Air created Rupa, which gave birth to fire with Rupa as its main virtue. Fire gave birth to taste. Taste produced water with taste as its main property. From water originated scent, which produced earth with scent as the main feature. These senses have no special expression.

The ego Rajas produced ten sense organs whereas the ruling deities of these organs were produced by Sattvic ego. Thus, the ten deities who rule ten sense organs and the eleventh entity mind are Sattvic in nature. Skin, eyes, ears, nose and tongue- these five organs aid the mind in its function. O Maitreya! Anus, sex organs, hands, legs and speech organs are the five organs that help in action. Works like excretion, reproduction, movement and speech are carried out with the help of these five organs. All the five elements like sky, air, fire, water and earth are full of emotions. Hence, they are also known to have a special significance.

All these elements have different and distinct powers. Without their combination, creation of the universe was impossible. In the beginning, all these elements were present in the great ball or egg, which came into existence because of the inspiration of the Lord. As this ball increased in size, it formed the base as Prakriti in which, Lord Vishnu Himself entered as Hiranyagarbh.

When the universe comes into existence, Lord Vishnu fosters it till the end of Kalpa. At the end of Kalpa, Lord Vishnu Himself devours the entire physical elements in Rudra appearance. During that time, He inundates the entire universe and Himself sleeps on Shesha in Ksheersagar. When he awakes once again, He begins the process of creation in the appearance of Brahma.

CHAPTER TWO BIRTH OF BRAHMA AND EARTH SAVED BY VARAHA

At the end of the previous Kalpa, when Brahma awakened from his long slumber, he saw all the worlds devoid of everything. With a desire to save the earth from the depth of unfathomable inundation, He took the appearance of Varaha. Entering the water, He reached Patala loka. Seeing Him, the earth prayed Him with respect. Hearing her prayers, the Lord roared with frightening sound. Then, He supported the earth on His great incisors and came out from the abysmal depth. When He was rising, His breath produced big sprays of water, which drenched sinless sages while the force of His breath frightened common creatures. When the Lord emerged from the water, all the sages prayed Him with reverence and respect.

Very soon, the Lord installed the earth at a position far above the unending stretches of water. Then, Lord carved out the topographical features on earth and divided it into many divisions and created all the four worlds. Then Lord Vishnu in the guise of Brahma carried out the process of creation.

As soon as Brahma thought of creation, Tamoguni (full of darkness) creatures were the first to appear. Absence of knowledge and presence of evils like attachment, anger etc. were the main virtues of these creatures. These creatures include lower organisms, trees, shrubs, creepers, plants and grasses. These together constitute the primitive world. Their creation was followed by the appearance of animals and birds, which are devoid of wisdom and are full of ego. They are also unaware of the nature of another organism of their status.

Still unsatisfied with His creation, Lord created the next world, which has a somewhat elevated position. The living beings that were produced in this world had internal and external knowledge, power of reflection and loved physical comforts. Though this creation pleased the Lord, He was still unsatisfied. So He created the next world, which was situated at a somewhat lower position. This new world had excess of all the three virtues. Human beings populate this world and because of excess of vices, they are full of sorrow but at the same time, highly active, have internal and external knowledge and are able to attain their goals.

The first few creations had resulted from the thoughts of the Lord. For the creation of the gods, the demons, Pitraganas, human beings and water, the Lord decided to use His body. Thus, the demons were the first to emerge from His thighs. The Lord then shed His dark body, which formed the night. Then from His mouth, the Lord produced the gods who had Sattvic virtues. The Lord then shed His Sattvic body as well from which the day came into being. It is also the reason why the gods acquire more strength in day and the demons are stronger during nights. Then the Lord acquired yet another body and behaved like Pitraganas to produce Pitraganas before shedding that body too, which gave rise to the dusk- the twilight between the day and the night. Thereafter, the Lord acquired a new body with Rajas virtue from which the human beings were produced. When the Lord shed that Rajas body it formed dawn- the twilight between the night and the day. It also explains why the human beings are stronger at dawn and Pitraganas at dusk.

Then the Lord assumed yet another body with Rajas virtues and produced desire from it. The desire gave birth to lust. Staying in the darkness then, the Lord created the world, which is full of desire and lust. In that world, many ugly looking human beings, who had long beard and moustache appeared and ran towards Him. Among those who said, 'Protect him' came to be known as Rakshas (demons) and those who said, 'We will eat him' came to be known as Yakshas. Then the angry Lord produced aggressive carnivores. Thereafter, the singing Lord produced Gandharvas. Thus, by turns, the Lord produced birds, sheep, goat, cow, horse, elephant, donkey, deer, camel, pony from His age, chest, mouth, belly and feet respectively. From the innumerable body hair of the Lord, fruits, flowers and herbs were produced. From His east-facing head, Lord produced Gayatri mantra, Rigveda, and Yagyas. From His south-facing head, He produced Yajurveda. From west-facing head, He produced Samaveda and from His north-facing head, He produced Atharvaveda.

CHAPTER THIRD DIVISIONS OF EARTH AND ORIGIN OF CEREALS

With the desire of creating the world, Brahma produced different kinds of human beings from his different organs. Thus, from his mouth, Brahmins appeared. Kshatriyas appeared from his chest, Vaishyas from his thighs and from his feet, Shudras appeared. Thus, physical body is the greatest means for human beings in order to achieve his goals. With time, the human beings lost their divine virtues and perfections. Jealousy, sorrow, decay and infighting began to rise among the people. In order to earn their livelihood and run their life peacefully, the human beings developed agriculture and other handicrafts.

"O sage! Paddy, barley, wheat, lesser cereals, sesame, millet, rice, peas, pulses, beans, rye, gram flour and hemp are common agricultural produce that have edible as well as medicinal values in the villages. These and other produce are also used as oblations in the Yagyas because all of them have produced as a result of Yagyas. Performing Yagyas daily is the most virtuous exercise that every human being should undertake. This destroys the sins committed by common people."

CHAPTER FOUR BIRTH OF PRAJAPATIS AND THEIR PROGENY

At one point, the process of creation got saturated and no increase took place in the number of living beings. Then, with a desire of continuing the creation, Lord created nine sages from His thought. Then he produced nine daughters and handed them over as the wives to those nine sages.

When initially produced sons of Brahma took to asceticism, He got very much infuriated. His anger was enough to burn all the three worlds. From this anger, Rudra originated who was shining like the Sun. Rudra had appeared in half-masculine and half-feminine form. Immediately after His appearance, Rudra separated His body into eleven male parts and eleven female parts.

Then Swayambhu Manu appeared from the body of Brahma. He agreed to follow Brahma's dictate of continuing creation. He got a woman Shatrupa who had also appeared along with him. Together they begot two sons, Priyavrata and Utanpad and two daughters, Prasooti and Akooti. These two daughters were married to Daksha and Prajapati respectively.

Prajapati and Akooti gave birth to twins, Yagya and Dakshaina. Yagya and Dakshaina got married and produced twelve sons who later on came to be known as Yam, the gods.

Daksha and Prasooti produced twenty-four daughters, thirteen of which were married to Dharma. The remaining eleven daughters were married to Bhrigu, Shiva, Marichi, Angira, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Atri, Vashishta, Agni and Pitars.

From his thirteen wives, Dharma produced Kama, Darpa, Niyam, Santosh, Lobha, Shrut, Dand, Naya, Vinay, Bodh, Vyavasay, Kshema, Sukh and Yash. Kama got married to Rati and produced Harsh. Darpa married Hinsa and produced a son Anrit and a daughter Nikriti. Anrit and Nikriti got married and produced Bhaya and Narak and their wives Maya and Vedana. Maya produced Mrityu, the destroyer of all the creatures in the world. Vedana produced a son, Dukh. Mrityu produced Vyadhi, Jara, Shok, Trishna and Krodh. These are all the fierce appearances of Lord Vishnu and cause Pralaya.

The omnipresent eternal God creates this world in the form of Manus, protects it and ultimately destroys it. There are four kinds of Pralaya- Naimittik, Prakritik, Atyantik and Nitya. Among them, Naimittik is Brahma Pralaya during which God takes a nap. During Prakritik Pralaya, the universe annihilates in nature. Annihilation of Yogi in the Supreme Being is Atyantik Pralaya and a decay of physical elements that continues day and night is Nitya Pralaya.

CHAPTER FIVE CREATION OF RUDRA AND OF LAKSHMI

In the beginning of Kalpa when Brahma was thinking about a son, who would be like him in virtues, a boy with reddish-blue body appeared in his lap. Brahma addressed the boy with names like Rudra, Bhava, Shiv, Ibhan, Pashupati, Bhima, Ugra and Mahadeva. Brahma also fixed Surya, water, earth, air, fire, sky, Dikshit (graduate scholar) Brahmin and the Moon His abode. Since then, all these things idolise Shiv. These eleven idols of Shiv have wives like Suvarchala, Usha, Vikeshi, Apara, Shiva, Swaha, Disha and Rohini. Shanaishchar, Shukra, Lohitang, Manojav, Skand, Sarg, Santan and Buddh are the sons of these idols respectively. Rudra Himself got Sati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati as His wife. Sati had committed self-immolation because of the disrespect that her father had shown for her husband. In her next birth, she had appeared as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya and Maina. Parvati too got married to Shiv. Khyati got married to Bhrigu and gave birth to two sons Dhata and Vidhata and a daughter Lakshmi. Lakshmi then married Lord Vishnu.

Maitreya says - "O sage! It is heard that Lakshmi was produced from Ksheersagar during the churning of the sea but you say that Lakshmi was the daughter of Bhrigu and Khyati. How is it possible?"

Parashar says- "O great Brahmin! Lakshmi who never separates from the Lord is Herself eternal like Him. But still, as you have expressed your doubt, I will narrate you the real story."

The famous short-tempered sage Durvasa is a partial incarnation of Shankar. One day, he was wandering on the earth when all of a sudden, he happened to see an extremely divine beauty. She was wearing a garland of beautiful flowers. The sage requested the beauty to give him that garland. She presented the garland respectfully to the sage. The sage adorned the garland on his head and began to wander again. Right at that moment, he saw Indra riding on Airavat and going somewhere in the procession of the gods. Instinctively, sage Durvasa put that garland around the neck of Indra but Indra removed it and put it on Airavat's head. Airavat pulled the garland with his trunk and smashed it on the ground. This whole sequence of events infuriated Durvasa who cursed Indra. "O Indra! You are so inebriated with your luxuries that you dared to insult my humble gift. Hence, all your splendour shall be destroyed. You will lose all your wealth."

Indra at once descended from the elephant and began to request sage Durvasa. Durvasa said- "Indra! Forgiveness has no place in my personality. So, all your repenting is meaningless." Saying this, sage Durvasa departed from the scene and Indra to left for Amravati.

Very soon, the curse began to show its influence. With the loss of Indra's luxuries, all the verdancy on the earth too began to wane. Hermits too began to give up Yagyas. All the human beings began to be guided by greed and gave up pious virtues. And at a place where pious virtues have no room, Lakshmi too doesn't stay there.

She made her abode in the abysmal depth of the sea. Very soon, the demons launched an attack on the gods and drove them out of heaven. Indra along with other gods approached Brahma and told him the whole thing. Brahma suggested them to take refuge at Lord Vishnu. He assured them also that Lord Vishnu would definitely protect them. Brahma even accompanied the gods to Lord Vishnu. There, they together prayed Lord Vishnu and intimated Him about their ordeal.

Pleased by their prayers, Lord Vishnu appeared before them and said- "I will definitely help you regain your splendour. Presently, do what I say. You reconcile with the demons and convince them to carry out the churning of the sea. Then bring all kinds of herbs and put them in the sea. With the help of the demons and using Mandarachal as churner and Vasuki, the Nag as the rope to carry out the churning of the sea. Thus, you will recover ambrosia drinking which, all of you will become immortal and regain your strength."

Following the advice of Lord Vishnu, the gods reconciled with the demons and convinced them to carry out the churning of the sea. They together procured all kinds of herbs and put them in the sea. Then they began the churning using Mandarachal Mountain. As soon as the churning began, Mandarachal began to sink. Lord Vishnu took incarnation of Kachchhap (the great tortoise) and bore the weight of the mighty mountain on His back. During the churning, Kamadhenu, the wishful cow was the first to emerge. It was presented to the sages as an aid for their Yagyas. It was followed by the damsel, Varuni, Kalpavriksha (the wishful tree) after which, beautiful elves appeared. The Moon followed the apsaras and was taken up by Shiva on His forehead. During the churning, huge quantity of poison had also emerged. It was drunk by Lord Shiva and some parts of it were taken up by the serpents. In the end, Dhanvantari himself emerged from the sea carrying the urn of ambrosia.

It was during the churning itself that Lakshmi appeared once again from the sea holding lotuses in her hands. All the sages prayed her. Then taking bath with divine water, goddess Lakshmi took her seat in the heart of Lord Vishnu.

When the demons saw that Lakshmi had chosen Lord Vishnu's heart as her abode, they got perplexed. They at once snatched the urn from Dhanvantari and ran away. Then a row broke out among them over the drinking of ambrosia. Each of the demons wanted to drink ambrosia in maximum quantity. Meanwhile, Lord Vishnu also arrived there in the guise of an extremely pretty woman Mohini and took possession of the urn. Mohini had pleased the demons with her sweet smile while distributing ambrosia among the gods.

Thus, the gods came to drink ambrosia. When at last, the demons realised that they had been cheated they immediately attacked the gods. But since the gods had regained their strength, they soon defeated the demons without much ado. Afterwards, the gods prayed Lord Vishnu and returned to heaven to rule it. The world also regained its verdancy. After regaining his splendour, comforts and luxuries of the heaven, Indra prayed goddess Lakshmi with devotion and respect.

Pleased by the prayers of Indra, Lakshmi asked him to seek a boon. Indra said- "O goddess! If you are pleased with me, kindly bless me with a boon that first you will never desert this world and also that you will never desert those who worship you with this prayer." Lakshmi granted these boons.

Thus, Lakshmi had appeared as the daughter of Bhrigu and his wife Khyati. Then second time, she emerged from beneath the sea during its churning. Thus, whenever Lord Vishnu takes an incarnation, Lakshmi accompanies Him. When God appears in divine form, she too takes a divine appearance. When God appears in human form, Lakshmi appears in human form also.

CHAPTER SIX DHRUVA'S MIGRATION TO THE FOREST

Swayambhu Manu had two sons- Priyavrata and Utanpad. Utanpad had two wives- Suruchi and Suniti. Suruchi had a son- Uttam while Suniti had also a son- Dhruva. King Utanpad loved Suruchi more than he loved Suniti.

One day the king was sitting on the throne. Prince Uttam was playing in his lap. Meanwhile Dhruva also arrived there and insisted to play in the lap of his father. At his insistence, queen Suruchi ridiculed that as he was not born to her he had no right to the king's love, ... "so your insistence is useless. Though you are also a son of this king but this throne belongs to my son. Don't you know that you have been born to Suniti."

Getting angry over his stepmother's ridicules, Dhruva went to his mother. Suniti consoled her son and enquired about the reason for his anger. Dhruva narrated the whole thing to his mother. Suniti too got perplexed and said: "O son! Suniti speaks the truth but you don't worry for no one can do away the virtues of your deeds that you performed in your previous birth. Hence you should not feel sorry over such petty things. If you feel really sorry by the words of your stepmother why don't you try to gather virtues? Why don't you try to be a gentle and altruistic person?"

Thus consoled by mother Dhruva said- "Mother! Since now onwards, I will do every such thing so that I may attain the most respected position in the world. I am no longer desirous of getting a position granted by others. I will achieve the same position as my father has." Saying this Dhruva left the palace and the town and reached a dense forest.

Seven Munishwars (mendicants) were already present in the forest. Dhruva greeted them all and said very politely- "O great sages! I am the prince Dhruva. King Utanpad is my father and his younger queen Suniti is my mother. I have arrived here out of desperation." The sages said- "O prince! You are just a small boy. You have no reason to be worried because your father is still alive and neither you have any disease. What then caused you such a severe desperation?"

Dhruva narrated the whole events and also that how his stepmother Suruchi ridiculed about his inferior position in the palace. The sages said- "O prince! Kindly tell us whatever you have decided to do to change your destiny and also tell us if we can help you in any way."

Dhruva said-"O sages! I neither long for wealth or for the kingdom. I simply long to enjoy such a position that nobody have ever enjoyed earlier. Kindly help me and guide me what I should do to attain such a position."

Marichi said-"O prince! Nobody can attain such an unparalleled position without the worship of Govind (an epithet of Lord Vishnu), so you also worship that eternal Supreme Being." Atri said- "He who is far above the tangible can only satisfy Him and bring you that supreme position."

Angira said-"Go and worship Govind who holds the entire universe within Him."

Pulastya said-"Even the wretched people attain the rare salvation worshipping Hari."

Pulaha said-"Go and worship that Vishnu worshipping whom even Indra attained the position of the gods' king."

Kratu said- "Go and worship Janardana who is supreme, who is deity of the Yagyas and Yagya Himself."

Vashishta said-"O son! You will attain whatever you wish by worshipping Lord Vishnu."

Dhruva said - "O sages! At my prayers all of you told me about whom I should worship. Now kindly tell me what should I do to please the Lord."

The sages said- "It is imperative for a person, who wishes to worship Lord Vishnu that first of all, he should expel all other menial thoughts from his mind and replace them with the contemplation Lord alone. O prince! Thus concentrate on that omnipotent eternal Lord with the mantra - 'OM NAMO BHAGVATE VASUDEVAY'. Your grandfather Swayambhu Manu had himself recited this mantra during the previous age and had received the perfection of his desire.

CHAPTER SEVEN DHRUVA PLEASES GOD WITH HIS PENANCE

The prince Dhruva greeted the sages and continued on his journey. At last, he reached a beautiful forest Madhuvan on the bank of the river Yamuna. It was the same forest, which was later occupied by a demon Madhu. Shatrughana, the youngest brother of Lord Rama had killed the demon Lavan, the son of Madhu in the same forest and founded the township of Mathura. In the same forest, prince Dhruva decided to carry out his penance. As per the dictate of the sages, he began to recite the mantra continuously.

Very soon, the earth began to move because of Dhruva's severe penance. Even the seat of Indra could not remain stable. A stampede resulted among the gods. The gods then hatched a conspiracy to disturb the penance.

According to the plan an illusionary image of Suniti, Dhruva's mother appeared before him and pleaded - "O son! Please stop this severe penance that is bound to decay your body. I got you after great desires and worship. It is not proper for you to take your stepmother's words so seriously and desert your real mother. You are my only support. You are only four or five years old. Presently you should pay more attention to your plays and studies. Why are you observing such a severe penance then? O son! If you don't give up your penance right now I will give my life." But Dhruva was so much sunk in the contemplation of Lord Vishnu that he did not hear the wailing of his mother."

His mother then said- "Run, O son! Run away to save your life. Look! Formidable demons are approaching. They are carrying lethal weapons." Suddenly that illusionary image blew out intense fire from her mouth. That fire took appearance of many dreadful monsters, who were shouting loudly like 'kill him', 'eat him'. Those monsters bore the heads of lion, camel, crocodile etc. and appeared extremely formidable. The monsters were roaring loudly.

But Dhruva's mind was deeply in contemplation. He neither saw the monsters or heard the noises made by them. Thus, seeing their all attempts failed. The gods decided to take refuge at Lord Vishnu. There they said- "O Lord! We have come to you perplexed by the severe penance of Dhruva the son of Utanpad. His penance is increasing like a waxing Moon. We are not sure if he desires for the position of Indra, Surya, Kubera, Varuna or any other deity. But kindly remove our fears."

Assuring the gods, the Lord said- "That boy has no desire for attaining the position of any deity. But I will definitely grant him whatever he desires. But all of you need not worry." The gods greeted the Lord and returned.

Ultimately pleased by the severe penance of Dhruva, Lord Vishnu appeared before him in his formal four-armed form and said- "Dhruva! May it all be well for you. I am very much pleased with you." Hearing these words Dhruva opened his eyes and to his amazement found Lord Vishnu standing before him. For a moment he did not believe his eyes. Standing before him was the same Lord Vishnu whom he used to see in contemplation. For a moment, Dhruva forgot how to pray God. He then took refuge of God and said- "O Lord! If you are pleased with me, kindly bless me with power to pray you. My mind is exhilarated with devotion for you. It wishes to pray you." Hearing these words the Lord touched Dhruva with His conch and as soon as it happened, an unbinding stream of devotional prayer sprang from Dhruva's mouth.

At the completion of the prayer Lord Vishnu said- "O son! Your penance succeeds with my sight but my presenting a sight should also not go waste. So seek a boon of your desire." Dhruva said- "O Lord! Nothing is hidden from your divine sight. I started this severe penance out of desperation caused by the harsh words of my stepmother. She had ridiculed my insistence of playing in my father's lap saying that as I was not born to her, I had no right to the king's love. Hence, O Lord! I wish to attain such a position that could be the base of the entire universe."

Lord said- "O son! You were born in a Brahmin family in your previous birth. Then you had pleased me by your abidance to the religion. You were also a friend of a prince and wished to enjoy the same royal luxuries that your friend was enjoying. You had in fact wished to be a prince. Hence O son! You are born as a prince in this birth. It is rare to get a place in the lineage of Swayambhu Manu. But this honor has no value for a devotee like you. O son! I will definitely accord you the position that is excellent among all the three worlds. In future you will be the base of all the planets and all the constellations. I grant you a fixed position that is far above the Sun, the Moon, the planets, constellations, Saptarishis and all the gods who fly about in divine aircraft. Besides it, you will stay there for a complete Kalpa whereas even the gods do not stay in their position more than a single Manvantara. Your mother Suniti too will come to stay with you as a bright star for the same period of time. There she will stay on an aircraft. People will see you with faith for you will show them the right direction."

Thus receiving a boon from Lord Vishnu, Dhruva occupied a fixed position in the northern sky. Even the sage like Shukracharya praises Dhruva that how fortunate he is.... that even Saptarishis go around him? That pivotal position of Dhruva would continue even in the ages to come.

CHAPTER EIGHT TALE OF THE KING VENA AND PRITHU

Parashar says- " With the help of Dhruva, his wife gave birth to two sons- Sishti and Bhavya. Sishti had five sons- Ripu, Ripunjay, Vipra, Vikal and Vrikteja. Ripu had a brilliant son Chakshush. Chakshush had a son Manu. Manu had sons- Puru, Kuru, Shatadyumna, Tapasvi, Satyavan, Suchi, Agnishtome, Atiratra, Sudyumna and Abhimanyu. Kuru had sons- Anga, Suman, Khyati, Kratu, Angira and Shivi. Anga had a son named Vena. The sages had churned the right hand of Vena to produce a son named Vainya. He later on became renowned as Prithu. He had even milked the earth for the benefit of his subjects."

Maitreya says- "Why did the sages churn Vena's hand? What was their purpose of getting Prithu?"

Parashar says- "Mrityu had his first child as a daughter named Sunitha who was married to Anga. Sunitha had given birth to Vena. Vena had all the faults of his maternal grandfather Mrityu and hence was devil-like in nature." At the time of his coronation, Vena had declared- "I am the God and the Yagya Purusha. Hence, in future, no one shall perform Yagyas and donate Dakshaina." The sages praised him and said- "O king! We speak about the benefit of you and your subjects. Through grand Yagyas, we shall worship omnipotent Lord Hari. Thus pleased, he will grant all your desires. O king! In the kingdom of which kings, Lord Hari is worshipped as the presiding deity of Yagyas, He fulfils all their desires."

Vena said- "Who is greater than me and even venerable, whom you regard as the presiding deity of the Yagyas? All the deities like Brahma; Vishnu, Mahesh, Indra, Vayu etc. are present in the body of the king. Hence, the king has all the virtues of these deities. Therefore, do what I say. Such as a woman's duty is to serve her husband, similarly it is your duty of all of you to obey my dictate."

The sages tried to convince Vena repeatedly but in vain. At last, when he did not agree to their proposal, the sages killed him. Immediately after killing the king, the sages saw the clouds of dust rising all around. It was revealed to them upon enquiry that the subjects of a king-less kingdom have resorted to plundering and looting each other and it was because of that stampede that clouds of dust were rising.

The sages then churned the thighs of issue-less king and produced an ugly black man. He was feeling excited and asked the sages what he should do? The sages asked him to Nishid (sit down); hence he came to be known as Nishad. His progeny came to be known as Nishadgana. Appearance of Nishad did away with all the sins of Vena. The sages then churned Vena's right hand and produced prowessive Prithu whose body was radiating like fire. As soon as he appeared, bow and arrow and shield of Lord Shiva descended from heaven and all the subjects felt extreme joy. With the birth of such a pious son, Vena attained a position in the heaven.

For the coronation of Prithu, Brahma himself had appeared there with the water from all the rivers and oceans, all kinds of gems and along with all the deities. Presence of chakra in right hand of Prithu pleased Brahma. This chakra of Lord Vishnu is present in the hands of extremely dominating kings. Such a king remains unaffected even by the gods.

Thus occupying the royal throne, King Prithu was a boon for his subjects. He was so religious that the seas and mountains paved way for him. His flag always remained fresh and new. Even there was no need to sow the seeds; the earth herself provided all the cereals. Cows gave milk spontaneously and every leaf of all the trees in the kingdom was full of honey.

Immediately after his appearance, King Prithu organised a grand Yagya. At the time of Somabhishek (bathing with grape-wine) during the Yagya, a man and a woman appeared from the earth. The sages advised them to pray King Prithu. With folded hands they asked that the king had arrived moments before them. His reputation had not spread far and wide. Why should then they pray such a king? The sage said that they should pray the king for the great achievements he would attain in future. King Prithu thought that it was because of merits that a man becomes praiseworthy. 'Hence I will do exactly the same things that this couple would recite during the prayers' thought the king. Thus during the later course, king Prithu planted those virtues firmly in his conscience and ruled the earth. During his rule, he performed many great Yagyas.

During the anarchy of his father's regime, all the vegetation had been destroyed from all over the earth. There was nothing for the subjects to satisfy their hunger with. So, they approached him and said- "O great king! Due to the anarchy of your father's regime, the earth had annihilated all the cereals within her. Your subjects have no choice but to starve. Kindly protect us from this condition."

Pitiable condition of the subjects infuriated king Prithu. Taking the divine weapons of Lord Shiva, he ran after the earth. In guise of the cow, the earth ran in all the three worlds but wherever she went she found Prithu still chasing her. Thus shivering with fear, she ultimately appeared before him and said- "O king! Don't you see the sin in killing a helpless woman." Prithu said- "If killing a wretched person benefits scores of other people, there is no sin doing so." The earth said- "You want to kill me in the interest of your subjects but think what will be the base of the subject then?" Prithu said- "You need not worry about that. I will myself support my subjects." These words frightened the earth. She greeted the king and said- "O king! All the tasks started with a distinct purpose reach their completion successfully, so I am telling you a way out of the present condition. Do then, as you desire. I can give out all the herbs and cereals that I have annihilated in the form of milk. So, for the benefit of the subjects, kindly produce such a calf for which I can give milk spontaneously with motherly feelings. You then provide me with a plain surface everywhere so that I can produce milk that is the seed of all the cereals and herbs."

King Prithu then uprooted many great mountains with his bow and arrow and stowed them at a single place. Before that there was no distinct demarcation of village, towns, cities etc. because of the plain surface of the earth and there was no distinct sequence of cereals, cows, agriculture and trade. All this systems started from the time of Prithu. Since then people began to populate those parts of the earth that were plain.

For the benefit of his subjects, King Pritu himself milked all the cereals from earth making Swayambhu Manu a calf. It is the cereals that still sustain the entire population of the world. Since then King Prithu came to be known as the father of earth because he had spared her life.

CHAPTER NINE BIRTH OF PRACHIN BARHI AND PRACHETAS PRAY GOD

King Prithu had two sons- Antardhan and Vadi who were very religious minded themselves. Antardhan's wife Shikhandi gave birth to Ivirdhan. Prachin Barhi was the son of Ivirdhan and his wife, Ghishna. Shukra, Gaya, Krishna, Vrij and Ajin were their other sons. Prachin Barhi was a great fosterer of his subjects. Through continuous oblations, he increased his subjects to great limits.

King Prachin Barhi married again with Savarna; the daughter of Samudra and they together produced ten sons. All of them were known as Prachetas who were expert in the art of archery. All of them observed serious penance under the sea for 10,000 years.

Maitreya says- O great sage! Kindly narrate to us the reason for which Prachetas observed severe penance under the sea.

Parashar says- Once by the inspiration of Brahma, King Prachin Barhi asked his sons Prachetas to continue the progeny in an honored way. Prachetas agreed to obey the dictate of their father but they asked- O father! Kindly narrate to us, what should we do to enable ourselves so that we could carry out the process of reproduction.

King Prachin Barhi said that worship of Lord Vishnu was the only thing that enabled a person to achieve his desired objectives. He dictated his sons to worship Lord Vishnu. It was by the dictate of the father that all the ten Prachetas observed severe penance for ten thousand years under the sea.

At the end of their penance, Sri Hari appeared before them radiating with blue light like a freshly bloomed blue lotus. Accepting the greetings of the Prachetas, Lord Vishnu asked them to seek a boon. Prachetas then told the dictate of their father. Lord granted their boon. Thereafter all the Prachetas re-emerged from the waters.

CHAPTER TEN MARRIAGE OF PRACHETAS AND BIRTH OF PRAJAPATIS

Parashar says- During the time when Prachetas were engaged in penance, the earth was unprotected. Hence, huge trees came to cover her everywhere on land. Their foliage was so dense they that cut off entire sky and the sun could not reach the surface of the earth. After their emergence from the sea, Prachetas got very angry when they saw the trees. In anger, they let out formidable flames mixed with ghastly winds and uprooted all the trees before reducing them to ashes. A massive destruction of the trees followed. Seeing that Soma, the king of the trees approached Prachetas and requested- 'O kings! Kindly relinquish your anger and listen to what I say.'

I will mediate a pact between the trees and you. The trees have produced an extremely pretty girl named Marisha. Her creation has been meant only for the continuation of your progeny. She will produce Daksha Prajapati who will be as radiant as the fire and cause much increase in your progeny further.

In the ancient times, a great savant of Vedas, sage Kandu was observing penance at the bank of river Gomti. Frightened by his penance Indra sent an apsara Prabhalocha to create a disturbance. That elf successfully created a disturbance in the penance of Kandu who then began to live with her in a cave. Kandu passed one hundred years enjoying sensual pleasures with the apsara. One day, the apsara expressed her desire to leave for her heavenly abode. This came as a shock for the sage Kandu. He requested her to stay for some more time with him. The apsara agreed to his request and stayed with him for another hundred years. Then once again she expressed her desire to leave for her heavenly abode. Once again, blinded by lust, the sage requested her to stay for some more time. Once again the apsara stayed for another hundred years with Kandu.

Thus, every time, when the apsara got ready to leave, sage stopped her. The apsara knew about the agony of separation that a person experiences who is blinded by lust. She also feared the curse that such a person might pour down out of agony. Thus she herself did not desert the sage and their love kept on increasing like a new moon. One day, towards the evening, the sage hurriedly left his hut. Amazingly Prabhalocha enquired about the reasons why he was going out in such a hurry. The sage replied that as it was dusk, he should offer his evening prayers. The sage's reply amazed the apsara further. Laughingly, she said- "O knower of religion, your day has ended after hundreds of years! Who will not be surprised to learn that your day ends after hundreds of years."

The sage said- "You had arrived at the river bank right in the morning today. You passed the whole day with me and now it is evening. Why do you laugh at me then? Prabhalocha said- "O Brahmin! Hundreds of years have passed since I had arrived at your hut." Perplexed sage asked her- "Tell me exactly how much time has passed in our present communion? Prabhalocha told the sage that they had together passed nine hundred and seven years six months and three days. Hearing this, the sage began to curse himself that he was so sunk in the carnal pleasure with the apsara that he even forgot the time. He also began to fret that his whole penance had been brought to nought. Thus cursing himself, the sage also scolded the apsara and asked her to leave his hut at once.

"The apsara was shivering in fear while her whole body was drenched in sweat. When she left the hermitage, she wiped her sweat with the leaves of the trees. While having carnal pleasure with the sage, Prabhalocha had conceived. Her foetus also oozed out in the form of sweat and was collected on the leaves. The wind brought the different parts of the foetus together while I nourished it with my rays. Thus the foetus grew safely and ultimately took birth as a girl child, Marisha. The trees will present you that same girl as your wife", said Soma.

On the other hand after his penance was disturbed sage Kandu migrated to Purushaottam region (modern Jagannath-Puri) and began his penance afresh to please Lord Vishnu.

Tale of Marisha's previous birth Marisha, daughter of sage Kandu and Prabhalocha was a queen in her previous birth. She had lost her husband without having any child. She had then pleased Lord Vishnu with her devotion. The Lord had then asked her to seek a boon. She said- "O Lord! Having been widowed at a young age, I feel that my life has gone futile. I am very unfortunate. Hence O Lord! May I have by your grace, a virtuous husband like you and sons like Prajapati in my next birth. May I take birth not from the body of my mother.

Lord Vishnu said- "All your wishes shall come true in your next birth. You will have ten prowessive and popular husbands. With their help, you will give birth to Prajapati whose progeny will populate all the three worlds. You will take birth not from your mother's body still you will be unmatched in beauty."

Thus, coerced by Soma, Prachetas dropped their angry stance and accepted Marisha as their wife. From the parts of Prachetas, Marisha gave birth to Daksha Prajapati who had emerged from Brahma earlier. Following the dictate of Brahma, Daksha Prajapati produced different kinds of living beings as his children. First of all, he created womenfolk from his mind. He got ten of those women married to Dharma. Thirteen women were married to Kashyapa while twenty-seven were married to Chandrama. All the gods, demons, Nagas, cows, birds, Gandharvas, Apsaras, giants etc. are the progeny of those fifty women.

Maitreya says- "O great sage! I want to hear the tale of origin of the gods, the demons and all other creatures in detail."

Parashar says- "Daksha created the sages, Gandharvas, demons, and serpents from his mind first. But none of those creatures could continue the progeny. So, with an intention of producing his progeny through carnal union, Daksha married Asikni, the daughter of another Prajapati. Daksha and Asikni together produced five thousand sons. All of those sons were eager to continue the process of reproduction when Devarshi Narada approached them and said- "O children! It appears from your action that all of you are eager to begin the process of reproduction right now. But before you do anything, kindly listen to what I say. All of you are so ignorant that you do not know anything about the earth. How then will you carry out the reproduction? Look! You can move anywhere in the universe, so why don't you go and see the end of the earth?" Thus motivated by Narada, all the five thousand sons of Daksha dived into the sea and never returned thereafter like a river annihilates in the ocean.

Daksha then married Vairuni and produced one thousand sons. They also intended to carry out reproduction but were misguided by Narada. They too followed the footsteps of their elder brothers. Learning about the fate of his sons, Daksha cursed Narada. Then Daksha and Vairuni gave birth to sixty daughters. Ten of them were married to Dharma, thirteen to Kashyapa, twenty-seven to Soma, four to Arishtnemi and two to Angira and Krishasva each. Arundhati, Vasu, Yami, Lamba, Bhanu, Marutvati, Sankalpa, Muhurta, Sadhya and Vishwa were the wives of Dharma. Vishwa gave birth to Vishwadeva, Sadhya to Sadhyagana; Marutvan was the son of Marutvati. Vasu gave birth to eight Vasus. Lamba gave birth to Ghosha, Yami to Nagveethi whereas Arundhati gave birth to all other creatures that dwell on earth. Sankalpa produced Sankalpa that is omnipresent resolution.

Names of the eight Vasus were Ap, Dhruva, Soma, Dharma, Anil, Anal, Pratyush and Prabhas. Vaitand, Shrama, Shant and Dhvani were the sons of Ap. All annihilating Kal was the son of Dhruva. Varcha was the son of Soma. Dravin, Huta, Ityavar, Shishir, Pran and Varuna were the sons of Dharma. Manojav and Avigyatgati were the sons of Anil. Sharastamb, Shakh, Vishakh and Naigmeya were the sons of Anal. Pratyush had a son Deval. Vatstree the sister of Brihaspati was the wife of Prabhas. They had Vishwakarma as their son. Vishwakarma himself had four sons- Ajaikpad, Ahirbudhanya, Twashta, and Rudra. The great penancer Vishwaroop was the son of Twasta.

O great sage! Har, Bahuroop, Treyambak, Aparajit, Vrishakapi, Shambhu, Kapardi, Raivat, Mrigvyadh, Sharpa and Kapali are the eleven Rudras. Sage Kashyapa had thirteen wives- Aditi, Diti, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Khasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Kadru and Muni. Now listen to the description of their progenies.

During the previous Manavantar, there were twelve gods named Tushit. At the end of the Manavantar, they met together and said- "O brothers! Let us now enter the womb of Aditi and take birth as the gods again in Vaivasvat Manavantar." Thus, Vishnu, Indra, Aryama, Dhata, Twashta, Pusha, Vivasvan, Savita, Maitra, Varuna, Anshu and Bhaga, these twelve sons of Aditi came to be known as Aditya.

The twenty-seven wives of Soma gave birth to many talented sons. Wives of Arishtnemi gave birth to sixteen sons. Thus in all thirty-three gods including eight Vasus, eleven Rudra, twelve Aditya, Prajapati and Vashatkar have been described in the Vedas. All of them are capable of taking birth at will. Just as the Sun rises and sets, similarly these gods also appear in different yugas.

From the part of Kashyapa, Diti gave birth to two invincible sons, Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksh and a daughter Sinhika who was married to Viprachiti. Hiranyakashipu had four sons- Anuhlad, Ahlad, Sahlad and Prahlada.

CHAPTER ELEVEN TALE OF PRAHLADA AND NARSIMHA INCARNATION

Parashar says- By the boon of Brahma, Hiranyakashipu had acquired tremendous power and came to control all the three worlds. He had driven the gods out of heaven and used to receive the oblations offered to Surya, Vayu, Agni, Varuna, Chandrama, Kubera, Yamaraj etc. Because of his fear, all those gods roamed on earth.

All the creatures began to worship Hiranyakashipu. Beautiful and amorous elves danced in his palace while Gandharvas accompanied them on instruments. Prahlada was the youngest son of Hiranyakashipu. Like other children, he too was sent to Gurukula to be educated. One day, his teachers took Prahlada to Hiranyakashipu who was engaged in drinking of wine at that moment. Lovingly he took his son into his lap and asked- "O son, tell me, what you have learnt so far in the auspices of your teachers?"

Prahlada said- "O father! I salute to that Sri Hari who has no beginning, no end and no mid-part, who doesn't take birth and who is free from growth and decay." Hearing this, Hiranyakashipu looked at the teachers with bloodshot eyes and shouted at them- "O wretched Brahmins! In sheer violation of my orders, you have taught my son to praise my enemy." The teachers tried to express their apology saying that what Prahlada was saying was not taught by them. Hiranyakashipu asked then Prahlada who had taught him like that. Prahlada said- "O father! Lord Vishnu who resides in the heart of us all is the supreme creature. Who can teach anybody anything apart from Him?" Hiranyakashipu said- "O fool! Who is that Vishnu about whom you are describing before me, the Lord of entire world?" Prahlada replied- "Lord Vishnu is he who is contemplated about by the Yogis. He is the originator of the entire universe. His virtues cannot be described in words. That Parmeshwar is Vishnu."

Hiranyakashipu said- "Fool! Who can be Parmeshwar other than me? Do you want to die that you are babbling like that?" Prahlada said- "O father! Your anger is baseless. Lord Vishnu is the creator of all of us including you and me. He controls our breaths."

Infuriated Hiranyakashipu then ordered the teachers to take Prahlada away at once and wash his brain thoroughly. The teachers took Prahlada with them to their Gurukula. Prahlada began to concentrate in his studies. After many months, Hiranyakashipu once again called Prahlada to his palace and asked about his learning. Once again, Prahlada began to praise Lord Vishnu. This time, Hiranyakashipu ordered his assassination. He began to see his son as a threat to his throne. By the orders of Hiranyakashipu, many formidable demons attacked Prahlada with their weapons but Prahlada stood unfazed. He said- "O fools! Lord Vishnu is present in you, in me and even in your weapons. May your weapons have no effect on me." Indeed, the weapons of the demons could not even touch Prahlada. Hiranyakashipu said- "I can still pardon your life provided that you stop praising my opponent." Prahlada said- "O father! I fear nothing. By the God's grace, I am free from the fear of birth and death." Hiranyakashipu then got Prahlada thrown amidst venomous snakes. But, biting by the snakes had no effect on Prahlada because his mind was contemplating in Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu then got Prahlada trampled by big bull elephants. But even elephants could not harm Prahlada. Instead their tusks were broken as soon as they touched Prahlada. Even then Prahlada tried to pacify his father that it was Lord's strength that protected him every time. Prahlada's teachers who were the sons of Shukracharya then assured Hiranyakashipu that Prahlada was having a fickle mind because of his tender age. They also assured the demon king of transforming Prahlada and took him to their hermitage once again.

Prahlada's Preaching-- But in the hermitage, Prahlada assembled other demon children and said- " Friends, listen to my preaching carefully and don't take it for granted because I have no personal interest in it. Every living being takes birth and suffers a lot while passing his life through childhood, youth and old age. The end result of life is nothing but death. It is one's Karma that accompany him birth after birth. But in every birth, this soul mistakes hunger, thirst, cold or hot for the pleasures. More of the luxuries one collects, more the sorrow increases. Attachment and passion are the greatest cause of sorrow. Even after passing a life that is full of sorrow, one suffers the agony of death and rebirth again. This whole cycle continues again and again. Lord Vishnu is the ultimate refuge for the soul, which feels drowned in the ocean of sorrow."

Don't be confused with my young age. I am a boy like you. But the soul that stays within me is eternal. The soul has no distinct stages in life. But a human being is inflicted with lot of misconceptions. In the childhood, he prefers to play than contemplating on God. In the youth, lust and carnal pleasures attract the mind. Still a human being doesn't get serious about his benefit. He keeps on postponing his spiritual matters for his old age. But in old age, a human being has no option but to see his trembling fingers and repent about his past. Thus a human being spoils his whole life. A wise person hence must ignore the different stages of his body's stay on earth and make efforts for his benefit right in his childhood.

What I have told you is unchangeable fact. Start reciting Lord Vishnu's name for my pleasure atleast. His remembrance is enough to destroy all the sins. May your mind always contemplate on Him day and night. Thus all your miseries shall come to an end.

CHAPTER TWELVE ATTEMPTS TO KILL PRAHLADA

When the demons saw that their all efforts failed to faze Prahlada and that he was preaching the demon children they informed Hiranyakashipu about all these happenings. Hiranyakashipu at once called his cook and ordered him to poison Prahlada through food. But the poisonous food also could not hurt Prahlada. In fact, its poison was rendered ineffective by the recitation of Lord's name. This frightened the cook. He informed Hiranyakashipu about that miraculous event.

Hiranyakashipu then ordered the priests who were Prahlada's teachers to invoke the ogress Kritya in order to kill Prahlada. The teachers tried to convince Prahlada before invoking Kritya. "O prince, you are the son of great Hiranyakashipu and have taken birth in Brahma's lineage. What have you to do with matters like God and all that? The whole world is dependent on your father. You should also take refuge of your father and stop praising his opponent. Father is revered and even greater than the teachers."

Prahlada said-"O fortunate ones! I know the prowess of my father. I also do not doubt regarding my father's reverence and greatness. I will not commit any crime against him but kindly listen to me what I mean by the endless God."

"O teachers! There are four attainable goals in one's life. You ask me what have I to do with He, who helps all the human beings to attain these four goals- Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. You are my teachers. You are free to say anything to me. But within me stays He who is the creator of all, who is the preserver of all and who is the destroyer of all of us. Kindly forgive me if I have committed any thing wrong in your honor."

The teachers said-"O foolish boy, we saved you from imminent death thinking that you are our disciple and that you will not balderdash in future. But still you speak nonsense. Listen, if you don't drop your stubbornness we'll have to invoke Kritya the ogress in order to get you slain."

Unfazed Prahlada said that life and death were immaterial for the soul that protects or destroys itself through auspicious and inauspicious deeds. Hence one should always strive to behave in an auspicious way. But Prahlada's words further enraged his teachers. They invoked the ogress Kritya to get Prahlada slain. Kritya hit Prahlada's chest hard with her trident. But as soon as the trident touched his chest it broke into pieces without harming Prahlada.

Seeing her attempt failed, Kritya killed the teachers and disappeared. His teachers' death caused immense pain for Prahlada. Mourning for their death, he prayed Lord Vishnu to resurrect them. Hearing his prayers, Lord Vishnu once again granted life to his teachers. The teachers got up as if from a deep slumber. They realised their mistake and blessed Prahlada and resolved never to have hostility against him. Then they went to the palace and informed Hiranyakashipu about all the happenings.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN LORD'S VIRTUES AND PROTECTION OF PRAHLADA

Hearing the news of Kritya's failure to kill Prahlada, killing of teachers and their subsequent revival as effected by Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu called his son and asked if all those miracles were natural or he knew some magical tricks. Prahlada said- "O father, neither I know any magic nor is the miracle a part of my nature. All these are ordinary things for he who has eternal God in his heart. No one can harm those who never wish ill for the others. All the living beings are equal for Him. In every creature, I see the same Lord Vishnu who is present within me; hence I never try to harm him or her. I cannot even think of harming anybody. It is this feeling that protects me from every physical, mental or divinely discomfort."

But these words failed to please Hiranyakashipu. He ordered his men to throw Prahlada from a very high fort. Even this attempt, however failed to cause any harm to Prahlada for the mother earth took him in her lap tenderly in the midway. Suspecting some illusionary powers helping Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu ordered Shambarasur to kill him using his illusionary powers. Shambarasur created many illusions to kill Prahlada. But right then Lord Vishnu sent His Sudarshan Chakra to counter those demonic illusions and protect Prahlada. Sudarshan Chakra destroyed all the demonic illusions one by one. Then Hiranyakashipu ordered Vayu to dry up Prahlada to death. When Vayu entered Prahlada's body and began to dry him up, the Lord came to stay in his heart where God absorbed all the drying effects of the air thus rendering it weak.

After all those attempts failed, Prahlada returned to his teachers' hermitage and resumed his education once again. The teachers trained him all the relevant subjects. Then they once again took Prahlada to his father and told him that now his education was over. Hiranyakashipu asked- "O son! How should one behave with the others? Tell me what have learned so far. I am eager to know your opinions."

Prahlada said-"O father, indeed my teachers have taught me in different subjects. I have too learned them with heart. They taught me that diplomatic policies should be applied in order to train friendship. But excuse me father, I see no friend or no enemy, so in my opinion these policies are totally irrelevant. Tell me O father what is the use of means when there is nobody to be trained. Lord Vishnu is present everywhere. In you, in me and in all other creatures. Hence instead of using in sinisterly actions, one should use his wits for good and benefit of all."

"O fortunate one, everybody longs for the throne and a big kingdom. But only those attain these things who really deserve and have them in their destiny. Even the most inert and imprudent people who are weak and know nothing about the policies get these things because of destiny. Hence all those who wish for splendour must strive to accumulate pious actions. Those who long for salvation must strive to acquire impartial view for all. Such actions please God and when He is pleased all the miseries are attenuated."

Hearing these words, Hiranyakashipu kicked Prahlada hard and ordered his demons to tie him in Nagpash and throw into the sea. The demons obeyed their master and threw Prahlada into the sea after tying him in Nagpash. With Prahlada's motion great disturbances occurred in the sea, seeing that Hiranyakashipu ordered the demons to cover the sea with huge mountains so that Prahlada could not get a passage to escape. When the demons uprooted huge mountains and put them into the sea, Prahlada began to pray God with concentrated mind.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN APPEARANCE OF LORD

As soon as Prahlada began to pray the Lord, his Nagpash broke and the mountains that the demons had thrown into the sea also lightened up causing great relief for Prahlada. Lord Vishnu appeared before him and said- "O Prahlada! I am pleased with your devotion. You may seek any boon of your wish." Prahlada said- "May I always have an unconditional devotion for you. May your remembrance never be away from my heart."

God said - " Your devotion for me shall always remain the same. Now, seek anything you wish." Prahlada said- "O Lord! My father has always cultivated hostility for you because of my devotion. May my father be free from the sin of his action." Lord said- "O Prahlada! All your wishes shall come true but still seek any boon of your choice."

Prahlada said- "O Lord! I don't want anything other than devotion for you." Lord said -" O Prahlada! You have nothing in your mind but devotion for me, so with my grace, you will attain supreme abode."

Saying this, the Lord disappeared. In later course, ultimately Hiranyakashipu decided to kill Prahlada himself. He tied Prahlada to a pillar and shouting abusively for God, he hit the pillar. As soon as he hit the pillar, it broke and Lord appeared from it in Narsimha incarnation. His appearance was extremely formidable with half human and half lion form. Dragging Hiranyakashipu to the threshold, He killed him with his powerful talons. After the killing of his father, Prahlada took over the throne and ruled his subjects religiously.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN LINEAGE OF KASHYAPA'S OTHER WIVES

After the death of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada continued his lineage. Prahlada had a son, Virochan. Virochan in his turn had Bali as his son. The prowessive Bali was sent to the nether world by Vamana incarnation of Lord. Bali had one hundred sons among whom Banasur was the eldest.

Kashyapa's second wife Danu had sons like Dwimurdha, Shambar, Ayomuk, Shankushira, Kapila, Shankar, Ekchakra, Mahabahu, Tarak, Mahabal, Swarbhanu, Vrishparva, Pulom and Viprachiti. Swarbhanu had a daughter- Prabha whereas Sarmishtha, Updan, and Haishira were the daughters of Vrishparva. Vaishwanar had two daughters- Puloma and Kalka who were married to Kashyapa. From the part of Kashyapa, they gave birth to sixty thousand giants known as Paulom and Kalkeya.

Kashyapa's another wife, Tamra gave birth to six daughters- Shuki, Shyeni, Bhasi, Sugreevi, Suchi and Griddhrika. Shuki gave birth to the birds like parrots, owls and crows. Shyeni gave birth to sleep while Bhasi produced light. Griddhrika gave birth to vultures whereas Suchi produced aquatic birds. Sugreevi gave birth to equine animals like horse, camels and asses.

Vinata, one of the wives of Kashyapa gave birth to Garuda and Arun. Garuda became the vehicle of Lord Vishnu while Arun became the charioteer of the Sun. Surasa gave birth to millions of the snakes. Kadru also had great snakes like Shesha, Vasuki, Takshak, Shankhshwet, Mahapadm, Kambal, Ashwatar, Ilaputra, Nag, Karkotak, Dhananjay etc. as her sons. Krodhavasha gave birth to anger and devils. Surabhi gave birth to cows and buffaloes. Ira gave birth to the trees, creepers, and scores of grasses. Khasa gave birth to Yaksha and monsters. Muni produced elves whereas Arishta gave birth to Gandharvas.

After the annihilation of her sons, Diti once again pleased Kashyapa and sought a son who could destroy even Indra. Kashyapa granted her boon but stipulated that she would have such a son only when she observes complete sanctity during one hundred years of gestation period. Diti agreed to abide by the stipulation. Then they copulated as a result of which Diti conceived.

When Indra came to know that Diti had conceived a son who would be able to destroy even him he arrived at Kashyapa's hermitage and began to serve Diti with full devotion. He had in fact arrived there to see if by chance Diti ever violated the stipulation for then he would easily destroy the unborn child without incurring any sin. Sometime before the completion of gestation period, one day, Diti did violate the stipulation. She forgot to wash her feet after attending nature's call and retired on the bed. Indra was waiting for the moment. He at once entered Diti's womb carrying his mace in hand. There he broke the foetus into seven pieces but still the foetus survived and began to cry loudly. Indra then broke each of those seven pieces into seven pieces more and consoled them not to cry. Those forty-nine pieces of Diti's foetus later on came to be known as Marudgana the assistants of Indra.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN THE DESCRIPTION OF UNIVERSAL ORDER

When the great sages crowned Prithu as the king of the entire earth, Brahma had also divided the kingdoms. Thus, Brahma appointed Chandrama as the ruler of all the Nakshatras, planets, Brahmins, vegetation, Yagya, penance etc. He also appointed Kubera as the ruler of the kings, Varuna as the ruler of the water bodies, Vishnu as the ruler of Adityas and Agni as the ruler of Vasus. Similarly, Daksha was appointed as the ruler of all the Prajapatis, Indra as the ruler of Marudgana and Prahlada was appointed as the ruler of the demons. Dharmaraj Yama became the ruler of Pitragana and Airavat became the ruler of all the elephants. Garuda came to rule the birds. Indra was appointed as king of the gods, Uchchaisharva as the king of the horses, Vrishabh as the king of the cows. Lion became the king of the beasts, Sheshnag of the snakes, Himalaya became the king of all the landmasses, Kapila became the king of the sages and tiger became the king of those animals that have nails and long teeth.

Thereafter, Brahma appointed Dikpals (guardians of the directions) on all corners of the earth. These Dikpals still guard the earth, which has seven continents and scores of big and small cities.

All the gods, demons, human beings, animals, birds, reptiles, in fact every living being have originated from the parts of omnipotent Lord Vishnu. Hence nobody but Lord Vishnu has the capacity to foster all the living beings on earth. That eternal God creates the world fosters it and ultimately destroys it. Thus, the Lord has four parts in the form of this entire creation. One of His parts remains unmanifested as Brahma. Second part appears like Prajapatis. Time is His third part whereas all the living beings constitute His fourth part.

Since the beginning, during the existence and till the ultimate annihilation of the universe, the process of creation continued through Brahma, Prajapatis and all other living beings. In the beginning, Brahma creates the primitive living beings. Then the process of creation is taken over by Prajapatis. When their progenies populate the world, the process of creation continues spontaneously. Without Kal, no one including Brahma, Prajapatis and all the living beings can carry out the process of creation. Sri Hari is in the base of every new creation that takes place through a pre-existing creation. The supreme abode of Lord Vishnu remains intangible.

Sri Hari bears the intangible, pure and all pervasive spirit of the universe as Kaustubh Mani. He bears the intelligence as his mace. He bears the two kinds of ego in his conch and Sharang bow. Third kind of ego is present as the wheel in His hand. Vayjayanti garland that adorns His neck represents five senses and five physical elements. He bears the sense and motor organs as the arrows and the sword that He holds is knowledge. Thus, everything is dependent on Sri Hari. He is Himself intangible but for the benefit of human being, he bears all these things as ornaments. Even the counting of time is present in Him.

God is present in all the seven worlds. He is the base of all the knowledge, our ancestor and the ancestors of our ancestors. He is present in the gods, human beings, animals, all the Vedas, Ayurveda, Purana and other religious scriptures. All the visible and invisible things in the world have Lord Vishnu in them. Nothing is different from Him. Such a feeling in the mind keeps all the miseries and physical ailments away.

PART TWO

CHAPTER ONE DESCRIPTION OF PRIYAVRAT'S LINEAGE

Maitreya says- "O sage! Now I wish to hear the description of the lineage of Priyavrata who was the son of Swayambhu Manu."

Parashar says- Priyavrata was married to the daughter of sage Kardam. They had two daughters and ten sons. Three of his sons- Medha, Agnibahu and Putra knew everything about their previous births. Hence, they did not take any interest in royal luxuries. The remaining seven sons received the domain of seven parts of the earth from their father Priyavrata who then had taken to penance at a greatly sacred place named Shalgram.

Among the eight Vasus, one was Hima. Merudevi was his wife. They had a son Rishabh. Rishabh had one hundred sons among which Bharata was the eldest. When he grew old, Rishabh transferred the onus of his kingdom on his eldest son Bharata and himself took to penance in the forest. Since then, this landmass that stretches from the snowy peaks of Himalayas to the splashing Indian Ocean is known as Bharatavarsha. Bharata had a religious minded son Sumati.

Indradyumna was the son of Sumati. Indradyumna's son was Parmeshthi. After him, the lineage of Priyavrata continued as follows- Pratihar, Pratiharta, Bhava, Udgeeth, Prastav, Prithu, Naka, Gaya, Nar, Virat, Mahavirya, Dheeman, Mahant, Manasyu, Twasta, Viraj, Raj, Shatajit. Shatajit had one hundred sons whose descendants populated the earth. They divided Bharatavarsha into nine parts.

CHAPTER TWO GEOGRAPHICAL DESCRIPTION

The earth has seven great islands- Jambu, Plaksha, Shalmali, Kusha, Kronch, Shakh and Pushkar. These are surrounded by oceans having saline water, sugarcane juice, wine, ghee, curd, milk and sweet water respectively. Jambudweep is situated at the center. Situated at the center of Jambudweep is golden Sumeru Mountain (Himalayas), which is eighty-four thousand Yojans high. Towards the south of Sumeru are Himavan, Hemkut and Nishad Mountains. Towards its north are Neel and Sringi Mountains. All these mountains are two thousand Yojans high with similar expansion.

Towards the south of Sumeru Mountain, Bharatavarsha is the first landmass followed by KimPurushavarsha and Harivarsha. In the north of Sumeru Mountain, Ramayak is the first landmass followed by Hiranyamay and Uttarkuruvarsha. All these landmasses have expansion of nine thousand Yojans. At the center of these landmasses is Ilavritvarsha that bears Sumeru Mountain. On the four sides of Sumeru Mountain are four smaller mountains that seem to support the massive Sumeru. Among these four mountains, Mandrachal Mountain is in the east and in the south is Gandhmadan. Vipul is in the west and Suparsh is in the north. All these four mountains are ten thousand Yojans high and have lofty trees of Cadamba, Jambu, Pipal and Banyan. Because of abundance of Jambu trees, this island came to be known as Jambudweep. It bears big fruits, which scatter all around upon falling on the earth. Their juice gives rise to the river Jambu. It is said that its water is capable of keeping demerits like sweat, foul smell, old age and loss of senses away from the drinker. When the juice of this fruit dries, it leaves the soil golden in colour.

Towards the east of Sumeru Mountain is Bhadrashvavarsha and towards the west is Ketumalvarsha. Midway between the two is Ilavritvarsha. On the eastern side of Meru Mountain is the forest of Chaitrarath. In the south is Gandhmadan and in the west is Vaibhraj and towards the north is the forest named Nandan. Mount Sumeru also holds four holy lakes named Arunodaya, Mahabhadra, Asitoda and Manas.

Shitambh, Kumund, Kukri, Malyavan, Vaikank are some of the peaks situated towards the eastern side of Sumeru. Towards the southern side are the peaks of Trikut, Shishir, Patang, Ruchak and Nishad. In the west are situated peaks of Shikhivasa, Vaidurya, Kapila, Gandhmadan and Jarudhi and in the north are situated the peaks of Shankhkoot, Rishabh, Hans, Nag and Kalanj.

Above the mount Meru is situated Brahmapuri of Brahma which has an expansion of 14,000 Yojans. The Ganges that rises from the feet of Lord Vishnu circles the lunar sphere before falling in Brahmapuri. Thence it divides into four rivers- Sita, Chakshu, Alaknanda and Bhadra that flow into four directions.

The landmasses of Bharata, Ketumal, Bhadrashva and Kuru appear like lotus leaf in shape. Among all the peaks that surround Mount Meru are present beautiful caves. There also exist beautiful towns and gardens. In these towns are situated beautiful temples of Lakshmi, Vishnu, Agni and Surya. Ravines of these mountains are populated by Gandharvas, Rakshasa, Yaksha and Danavas. Besides them, scores of religious people also live there.

Lord Vishnu stays as Hayagreev (human figure with horse head) form in Bhadrashvavarsha. In Ketumalvarsha, He is in boar form and in Bharatavarsha; He stays in turtle form. In Kuruvarsha, Lord Vishnu stays as fish. Thus Lord Vishnu is present everywhere. People of these eight landmasses are free from all kinds of sorrow, pain, emotions, hunger etc. and lead a healthy and rich life that extends up to ten or twelve thousand years. All these landmasses have seven indigenous mountains each from which hundreds of rivers rise.

CHAPTER THREE DIVISION OF BHARATA AND OTHER LANDMASSES

The landmass that is present between Himalayas and the ocean is known as Bharata. It has an expansion of 9,000 Yojans. It is populated by the descendants of Bharata. It has seven native mountains- Mahendra, Malay, Sahaya, Shuktiman, Riksha, Vindhya and Pariyatra.

Bharatavarsha has nine divisions named Indradweep, Kaseru, Tamraparn, Gamastiman, Nagdweep, Soumya, Gandharva, Varun and Yahadweep which is surrounded by the sea and has an expansion of 1000 Yojans. In the eastern part of Bharata, live Kirat whereas in the western part live Yavans. In the mid part of Bharata, live population of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras who pass their lives engage in works ascribed to their respective class.

Rivers in India- From the Himalayas rise Shatudri (Sutlej) and Chandrabhaga rivers. From Pariyatra Mountain rise Veda and Smriti rivers. Narmada and Surasa rivers rise from Vindyachal. Tapi, Payoshani and Nirvindhya rivers rise from Riksha Mountain. Godavari, Bheemrati and Krishnaveli rivers rise from Sahaya Mountains. Kritmala and Tamraparni rivers rise from Malayachal. Trisama and Aryakulya rivers rise from Mahendragiri. Rishikulya and Kumari rivers rise from Shuktiman Mountain. All these rivers have scores of other branches and tributaries.

Four yugas namely Satya Yuga, Treta  Yuga, Dwapar  Yuga and Kali Yuga descend on Bharatavarsha. In Bharatavarsha, sages observe penance to attain better life in another world, people organise Yagyas and offer donations to the Brahmins respectfully. In Jambudweep, Lord Vishnu is worshipped in Yagyas. Bharatavarsha is the land par excellence in Jambudweep for it is a land of action. Soul passes through millions of births, only then it finds a chance to take birth in Bharatavarsha when its pious deeds accumulate to a certain extent. Even the gods envy those people who take birth in Bharatavarsha. People in Bharatavarsha act without a desire to get fruits from their action. They dedicate their whole action to Lord Vishnu and ultimately mingle with Him.

CHAPTER FOUR DESCRIPTION OF OTHER DWEEPS

Plakshdweep- Plakshdweep has an expansion of 2,00,000 Yojans. Its ruler Meghatithi had seven sons- Shanthaya, Shishir, Sukhodaya, Anand, Shiva, Kshemak and Dhruva. Those seven princes later on came to rule Plakshdweep. Hence, Plakshdweep had seven divisions named after these seven princes. Seven mountains mark the boundaries of Plakshdweep. These are Gomed, Chandra, Narada, Dundubhi, Sobhak, Sumana and Vaibhraj. People of Plakshdweep live long and pleasant life. Seven rivers namely Anutapta, Shikhi, Vipasha, Tridiva, Aklama, Amrita and Sukrita flow in Plakshdweep. In all the islands from Plakshdweep to Shakhdweep, only Treta Yuga stays. Plaksh tree (Pakad) abound in Plakshdweep. Lord Vishnu is worshipped there as Soma.

Shalmaldweep- Vayushman was the ruler of Shalmaldweep. He too had seven sons- Shwet, Harit, Jibhoot, Rohit, Vaidyut, Manas and Suprabh. Hence Shalmaldweep was also divided into seven divisions named after these princes. A sea of sugarcane juice surrounds this island. Shalmaldweep has seven mountains which are the source of all the gemstones. Seven rivers flow in Shalmaldweep. These rivers contain innumerable kinds of medicinal herbs. Lord Vishnu is worshipped there in Vayu form. Because of the abundance of Semul (silk cotton) trees, this island came to be known as Shalmaldweep. A sea of wine surrounds this island.

Kushdweep- The ruler of Kushdweep, Jyotishman had seven sons. Their names were Venuman, Vairath, Lamban, Ghriti, Prabhakar and Kapila. The divisions of this island were named after them. This island too has seven mountains and seven rivers.

Lord Vishnu is worshipped here in Janardan form. Because of abundance of Kusha grass, this island is known as Kushdweep. A sea of ghee surrounds this island.

Kraunchdweep- The ruler of Kraunchdweep, Dyutiman had seven sons named Kushal, Mandak, Ushna, Peevar, Andhkarak, Muni and Dudhumbi. Hence the seven divisions of this island were named after these princes. This island too has seven mountains and seven main rivers with hundreds of small rivers and tributaries. Lord Vishnu is worshipped here in Rudra form through Yagyas. A sea of whey surrounds this island.

Shakhdweep- The ruler of Shakhdweep Bhavya, also had seven sons named Jalad, Kumar, Sukumar, Marichak, Kutumod, Maudaki and Mahadrum. Hence the seven divisions of this island were named after these princes; this island too has seven mountains and seven holy rivers. Lord Vishnu is worshipped here in Surya form. Because of an abundance of Shakh trees, this island got its name. A sea of milk surrounds this island.

Pushkardweep- This is the largest among all the seven islands. Its ruler Savan had two sons- Mahavir and Dhataki. Hence, this island has two divisions- Mahavirkhand and Dhatakikhand. A huge mountain named Mansotra is situated at the center of this great island. Brahma stays on a huge Banyan tree in this island. A sea of sweet water surrounds this island.

CHAPTER FIVE DESCRIPTION OF NETHER WORLDS

Earth's total height is 70,000 Yojans. In her depth, are situated seven nether worlds with a depth of 10,000 Yojans each respectively. Names of these seven nether worlds are Atal, Vital, Nital, Gamastiman, Mahatal, Sutal and Patal. These nether worlds have beautiful palaces, and have lands which are white, black, red and yellow in colour with gravel, rocky and golden soil. Scores of races including Danav, Daitya, Yaksha and Nagas live there.

Once upon a time, Narada visited these nether worlds. When he returned to heaven, he told the people there that the nether world was more beautiful than heaven. He told them that ornaments of the Nagas contained precious gemstones and the womenfolk of Daitya and Danavas were an attraction even for the gods. The sun was illuminating in the nether worlds but not scorching. Similarly, the Moon only shone there but did not cause bitter cold.

Beneath the nether worlds is situated an idolised form of Lord Vishnu. It is known as Shesh. Even the demons and giants cannot describe His virtues. He has thousands of hoods each carrying a bright gemstone that illuminates the azimuths. In His presence, the demons lose their strength. His eyes are red and He wears an earring, crown, garland and blue length of cloth. Bearing the flow of Ganges, He stays like the Kailash Mountain. At the end of the Kalpa, poison emanates from His thousands of hoods and destroys all the three worlds taking the form of Rudra named Sankarshan. Nobody can find the ends of His virtues; hence He is known as Anant.

CHAPTER SIX DESCRIPTION OF HELLS

Beneath the earth and water are situated the hells into which, the sinners are thrown. Raurav, Sukar, Rodha, Tal, Vishsan, Mahajwal, Taptakumbh, Lavan, Vilohit, Rudhiramabh, Vaitarni, Krimish, Krimibhojan, Asipatravana, Krishna, Lalabhaksha, Darun, Puyuvah, Pap, Vahnijwal, Adhahshira, Sandansh, Kalsutra, Tamas, Avichi, Swabhojan, Apratishthit and Aprachi are the main hells. These are all under the domain of Yamaraj.

Those who give false witness are thrown into Raurav hell. Those who kill unborn babies and cows or destroy the villages fall into Rodha hell. Those who drink wine, kill Brahmin or steal gold fall into Sukar hell. Those who kill Kshatriya or Vaishya fall into Tal hell. Those who copulate with teacher's wife or their own sister fall in Taptakumbh hell. Those who sell women and horses fall in Taptloha hell. Those who copulate with their daughter or daughter-in-law fall into Mahajwal hell. Those who criticise the teachers and the Vedas or sell Vedas fall into Lavan hell. Those who violate social norms fall in Vilohit hell and those who envy the gods, the Brahmins and their parents fall in Krimibhaksha hell.

Those who dine first even before the parents, the gods and the guests fall into Lalabhaksha hell. Those who manufacture arrows fall in Vedhak hell. Those who manufacture swords fall in Vishsan hell. Backbiters, killers of friends and sellers of wine fall in Rudhirandh hell. Destroyers of Yagya and villages fall in Vaitarni hell.

Thus, the sinners have to suffer scores of tortures in these and many other hells. These sinners after passing their lives in the hell take birth as worms, aquatic animals and birds, terrestrial animals, human beings, religious people etc. Only those sinners who do not expiate for their sins fall into the hell. Our sages have made provisions of expiation for those sinners who feel guilty in their conscience after committing their sins. Remembrance of Lord's name is in itself the greatest expiation. Remembrance of Lord's name anytime in life destroys all the previous sins instantaneously. Hence recitation of Vasudeva's name is sure way of attaining salvation. Thus those who recite and remember Lord Vishnu's name never fall in any hell because their sins have been destroyed. Anything where one feels pleasant is heaven and opposite of it is hell.

CHAPTER SEVEN DESCRIPTION OF CELESTIAL WORLDS

Maitreya says- "O Brahmin! Kindly narrate now about the celestial worlds and the position of stars and planets there."

Parashar says- At a height of 1,00,000 Yojans above the earth is the sphere of the Sun. 1,00,000 Yojans above it is the sphere of the Moon and 1,00,000 Yojans above it is the sphere of the stars.

At a height of 2,00,000 Yojans above, the sphere of stars is Buddh (Mercury) and 2,00,000 Yojans above it is Shukra (Venus). Above Venus are Mangal (Mars), Brihaspati (Jupiter), and Shani (Saturn) at respective heights of 2,00,000 Yojans each. 1,00,000 Yojans above the Saturn is Saptarishi and 1,00,000 Yojans above it is the sphere of Dhruva. It appears as the center of a bright ring.

One crore Yojans above Dhruva is Maharloka where sages like Bhrigu etc. live. Two crore Yojans above Maharloka is Janaloka where Brahma's sons Sanakadi Kumars live. At a height of 8,00,00,000 Yojans above Janaloka is Tapaloka live deities named Vairaj who are never consigned to flames. Twelve crore Yojans above Tapaloka is Satyaloka which is also known as Brahmaloka. Only immortal beings live there.

CHAPTER EIGHT ORDER OF THE SUN, STARS AND CONSTELLATIONS

The Sun travels speedily across the sky like an arrow. He determines the night and the day. With the rising and setting of the Sun, one can have knowledge of the directions. Sun lights up all the places in the entire world except Brahmaloka. Sun's rays that reach Brahmaloka return back rendered ineffective by the radiance of Brahma. Since Mount Sumeru is situated at the north of all the islands and Varsh, hence towards the northern side of it, one part of land experiences the day while another part experiences the night all the time. The radiant Sun setting merges with fire. Hence, fire also has the power of illuminating and warming its environment.

At the beginning of Uttarayan (northward motion of the Sun), the Sun enters the zodiac of Capricorn. Travelling through Aquarius and Pisces, it reaches the equator which is at the center of the earth. Thereafter the nights begin to decrease in comparison of the days. Then travelling through Aries, Taurus and Gemini, the Sun enters Cancer to begin its southward journey.

The period of time between the day and night is dusk twilight. At that time, formidable demons try to swallow the Sun. Thus they have fierce battle with the Sun. The recitation of hymns by learned Brahmins during dusk twilight helps the Sun regain his lost radiance. With his brilliance then the demons are destroyed. Thus the Sun is a perfect form of Lord Vishnu. It shines with its inner radiance. Omkar is a symbolisation of the Sun. It is also mandatory for the Brahmins to perform evening worship. Those who do not worship in the evening hurt the Sun.

Towards the north of Saptarishi constellation, where polestar is situated, there is an abode of Lord Vishnu. Only those sages can reach there who are free from faults and whose sins and pious deeds have been attenuated. Supremely brilliant Dhruva stays in the abode of Vishnu. Every other thing is dependent upon Dhruva. All the Nakshatras also depend on Dhruva. On Nakshatras depend the clouds and on the clouds depends the rain and on the rains depend the nourishment of entire world. Thus, all the other things come to depend upon Dhruva.

The sacred Ganges which is the destroyer of every sin also rises from the abode of Lord Vishnu. Dhruva bears the Ganges on his head. Flowing through the sphere of the Moon, the Ganges falls on Mount Meru and flows in every direction to sanctify the entire world. Bathing in the water of the Ganges destroys all the sins. Offering of oblations in the waters of Ganges satiates dead ancestors for one hundred years.

Starry, chameleon-like appearance of Lord Vishnu can be seen in the night sky. A polestar is present in its tail. All the other stars, the Sun, the Moon and other planets are present on different parts of this chameleon and go round the polestar. Uttanpad's son Dhruva had pleased this chameleon-like appearance of Lord Vishnu with his penance and sought a fixed position in His tail. Even the Sun is dependent on Dhruva.

The Sun keeps on evaporating the water for eight months in a year. This evaporated water then rains for four months and nourishes the soil and produces different kinds of cereals for the nourishment of the entire world. The water that is evaporated by the Sun also nourishes the Moon. But the Moon itself does not consume that water. Instead it gives that water to the clouds. During winter season, this water released by the Moon falls on earth as snow and dew.

The Sun draws water from Akashganga (the Milky Way) also and causes it to rain on earth at once. That water is so sacred that mere touch of it destroys all the sins. The rains that fall during Nakshatras like Kritika; Rohini, Addra etc. come from the water of Akashganga.

CHAPTER NINE TWELVE NAMES OF THE SUN

In the month of Chaitra, the Sun rides his chariot as Dhata. During that period, apsara Kratusthala, sage Pulastya, Nag Vasuki, Yaksha Rathmirith, demon Heti and the Gandharva Tumbaru are also present on the chariot as his assistants. In the month of Vaishakh, the Sun rides his chariot as Aryama with sage Pulah, Yaksha Rathauja, apsara Punjasthala, demon Praheti, snake Kachchhveer and Gandharva Narada as his assistants.

In the month of Jyeshtha, the Sun is known as Mitra with sage Atri, snake Takshak, demon Paurusheya, apsara Menaka, Gandharva Haha and Yaksha Rathswan as his assistants. In the month of Ashad, the Sun rides his chariot as Varuna with sage Vashishta, snake Nag, apsara Sahajanya, Gandharva Huhu, demon Ratha and Yaksha Rathachitra as his assistants.

In the month of Shravan, the Sun is known as Indra with Gandharva Vishwabasu, Yaksha Strot, snake Elaputra, sage Angira, apsara Prabhalocha and the demon Sarpi as his assistants. In the month of Bhadrapad, the Sun is known as Vivasvan. With Gandharva Ugrasena, sage Bhrigu, Yaksha, Apurana, apsara Anubhlocha, snake Shankhpal and the demon Vyaghra as his assistants.

In the month of Ashwin, the Sun is known as Pusha with Gandharva Vasuruchi, demon Vat, sage Gautam, snake Dhananjay, Yaksha Sushen and the apsara Ghritachi as his assistants. In the month of Kartik, the Sun is known as Parjanya and is assisted by the Gandharva Vishwabasu, sage Bharadwaj, snake Airavat, apsara Vishwashree, Yaksha Senjit and the demon Ap.

In the month of Margsheersh, the Sun is known as Ansh and is assisted by sage Kashyapa, Yaksha Tarkshya, snake Mahapadma, apsara Urvashi, Gandharva Chitrasen and the demon Vidyut. In the month of Paush, the Sun is known as Bhaga and is assisted by sage Kratu, Gandharva Urnayu, demon Sfurja, snake Karkotak, Yaksha Arishtnemi and apsara Purvachitti. In the month of Magh, the Sun is known as Twasta with sage Jamadagni, snake Cambal, apsara Tilottama, demon Brahmopet, Yaksha Ritajit and Gandharva Dhritarashtra.

In the month of Phagun, the Sun is known as Vishnu and is assisted by snake Ashwatar, apsara Rambha, Gandharva Suryavacha, Yaksha Shatajit, sage Vishwamitra and the demon Yagyopet. Thus having some parts of Lord Vishnu's radiance, these seven ganas stay in the sphere of the Sun for one month alternatively. They are also the cause of seasons like summer, winter and rain.

CHAPTER TEN SURYA SHAKTI AND VAISHNAVI SHAKTI

Maitreya says- "Lord, if only the seven Ganas are entrusted with the job of causing cold and summer, drought and rain, what is the purpose then of the Sun's existence? "

Parashar says- It is true that Surya is one of the seven Ganas. Yet being the chief among them, it has special significance. Omnipotent supreme power of Lord Vishnu is nothing but the three Vedas. These together stay within the Sun and provide it with energy necessary to sustain the world. Their presence within the Sun remains constant irrespective of the Sun's changing names every month. In the morning, Rigveda prays the Sun with its Shrutis. In the noontime, Yajurveda prays the Sun whereas in the evening, Shrutis of Samaveda pray the Sun. Thus, Lord Vishnu always energises the Sun.

Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh are also present in trinity form. Their trinity too represents the three Vedas. At the beginning of creation, Brahma was in the form of Rigveda. During the sustenance of the universe, Lord Vishnu stays in Yajurveda form whereas at the end of the creation when Pralaya occurs, Rudra takes Samaveda form. Hence the recitation of Samaveda is considered inauspicious. Energies of the trinity stays within the Sun in synergetic form. Hence the Sun glows brilliantly and destroys the darkness.

Lord Vishnu, who represents energy of this trinity, never rises nor sets. His Vaishnavi Shakti never parts with the Sun's chariot and stays there irrespective of the changing names of the Sun with months. Thus, the Sun, which causes the formation of day and night always satiates Pitragana, Devgana and human beings. One of the Sun's rays named Sushumna nourishes the Moon during its brighter phase. Then during the darker phase, the gods drink the phases of the Moon, which are in fact, ambrosia accumulated during the brighter phase. When two days are left for the completion of darker phase, Pitragana drink the remaining two phases of the Moon. Thus, the Sun satiates the gods and the deceased ancestors.

The water that the Sun draws from earth is returned to the earth in the form of rains. This rainfall produces cereals, which nourish the entire population on earth.

CHAPTER ELEVEN DESCRIPTION OF THE NINE PLANETS

The Moon rides a chariot with three wheels. This chariot is hauled by ten horses. During its entire journey, the Moon passes through all the twenty-seven Nakshatras. These horses haul the Moon's chariot for a complete Kalpa. With his rays, the Sun nourishes the Moon, which loses its strength because of drinking of its ambrosia by the gods.

When the gods brought even the last drop of nectar from the Moon, it enters the Sun's sphere. That day is known as Amavasya (moonless night). That day, the Moon first enters the water then the foliage of the trees, creepers etc. and ultimately enters the Sun's sphere. That is why, anybody who cuts trees or even plucks a leaf commits crime equal to killing of Brahmin. On the day of Amavasya, Pitragana drink the nectar from the Moon and feel sated. Thus, Moon sates the gods during the brighter phase and the Pitragana during darker phase. The Moon also showers its nectar on the trees, creepers and other vegetation. It also causes exhilaration for the human beings, animals, birds and creatures like insects etc.

Buddha (Mercury) is the son of the Moon. His chariot is made of fire and air and is hauled by eight horses of deep yellow colour. The chariot of Shukra (Venus) is also very splendid and is adorned by beautiful flags. Mangal (Mars) rides a golden chariot, which is born from the fire. His chariot is hauled by eight red horses. Brihaspati rides a golden chariot hauled by eight yellow horses. Shani (Saturn) is famous for slow motion. He rides a chariot which was born from the sky. The colour of his chariot's horses is also very peculiar. Rahu's chariot is brown in colour and is hauled by eight black horses. Ketu's chariot is also drawn by eight horses, which are red in colour.

Chariots of all the nine planets are tied to Dhruva. Thus, all of them traverse the same path again and again year after year. Sighting of Shishumar chakra (constellation path) in the night destroys all the sins that a human being commits during the daytime.

Water is a tangible form of Lord Vishnu. Even the earth was born out of water. Stars, all the three worlds, forests, vegetation, mountains, directions, rivers, sea and entire nature is the form of Lord Vishnu. This vivid nature thus shows omnipresence character of Lord Vishnu.

CHAPTER TWELVE LIFE SKETCH OF BHARATA

Maitreya says- "Lord! Now I wish to hear various tales from the life of King Bharata. He was born in a pious land and always contemplated on God. Even then why he failed to attain salvation? What did he do in his next birth as a Brahmin?"

Parashar says- King Bharata always contemplated on God. He stayed at Shalgram for a long time. There he used to recite the names of God and collect various materials for His worship. Other than that, he did not do anything. One day while he was taking bath in the river, a doe arrived at the opposite bank. She was in the final stage of pregnancy. While she was drinking water, a lion roared somewhere in the forest behind her. That roar frightened the doe so much that she jumped across the river to save her life. Exertion of jumping resulted in premature littering of her fawn, which fell in the river. On the other hand, the doe also could not bear the pain and died.

King Bharata rescued the just born fawn and brought it to his hermitage. Since then he began to foster the fawn with love and care. With time, Bharata's attachment grew for the fawn and whenever it went out of sight, he would feel perplexed. Soon King Bharata deserted everything for the love of the fawn. He even left his routine worship and meditation for it would be hard to concentrate whenever the fawn was near and at times when the fawn was out of sight, it worried Bharata and hence he could not concentrate.

But the fawn could not give up its natural instincts. When it grew up, one day, it happened to sight a herd of deer and mingled with it to find a mate of its own choice and since that day, it never returned to the hermitage. Separation from the deer proved fatal for the King Bharata. While dying his mind was fully concentrating on the thoughts of the deer which he had fostered with love and care. Because of it, Bharata took his next birth as a deer. But still he remembered his past life. So he deserted his herd and found a place in Shalgram where he passed his time eating dry grass and foliage.

In his next birth, Bharata was born in a cultured Brahmin family. In this birth also, he remembered his past lives. Since birth, Bharata knew all the rituals and scriptures and saw his soul in a transcendental way. Hence, even after his thread ceremony, he did not take up his education. Even the teachers failed to incite his interest in education. Bharata roamed here and there, clad in rags and was hence insulted by fellow Brahmins and village folk.

Thus Bharata remained indifferent to the others' treatment and sustained himself on whatever little he got to eat. After the demise of his father, his brothers made him work hard in the fields but gave little to eat. Because of his inertness, he was known as JadaBharata.

One night, when JadaBharata was guarding his fields, the king's commander-in-chief, Vrishatraj caught him and took him away. The king wanted to sacrifice him before goddess Mahakali. But seeing the supreme Yogi being brought as a votive animal, goddess Mahakali expressed her wrath by decapitating the king and drank his blood.

In another incident later on, the king of Sauveer was travelling in a palanquin to visit sage Kapila for religious preaching. Incidentally, one man fell short to carry his palanquin, so the other carriers saw and caught JadaBharata to forcibly engage him in the work of carrying the palanquin. While walking, JadaBharata was taking care not to put his feet on any creature. So he was moving very slowly whereas other carriers were walking briskly. As a result of it, the palanquin was moving jerkily causing irritation to the king. The king enquired the carriers about the reasons of that jerky motion. The carriers informed him that it was because of the new recruit who is moving very slowly. The king shouted at JadaBharata- "You appear to be quite burly. Don't you have enough strength? Does a little work tire you?" JadaBharata said- "O king! Neither I am burly nor carrying your palanquin. I am neither tired nor there is any need for me to labour." The king said- "Apparently you are burly and my palanquin is also resting on your shoulder. Carrying a load always tires anybody. How are you different then from the others?"

JadaBharata said- "O king! First of all, tell me, what do you see directly? Your saying that I am carrying your palanquin is also meaningless. Now listen to what I say. Both my feet are resting on the earth. On the feet are thighs, and on the thighs is belly, on the belly are chest, shoulders and arms. Your palanquin is resting on the shoulders. What load am I carrying then? You are in the palanquin and I am on the earth are meaningless words. All the creatures, you and me are all carried by the five basic elements. Even our virtues are controlled by our action. Only action is born out of ignorance. The soul is pure, non-degradable, calm, intangible and beyond all nature. This same soul pervades all the creatures. It neither grows nor decays. Why did you say then that I am burly? If this palanquin that is resting on my shoulders-chest-belly-thighs and feet, could be a burden for me, it could also be a burden for you. Like this, all the living beings are carrying not only this palanquin but all the mountains, trees, houses and even the earth."

Saying this, JadaBharata became silent, still carrying the palanquin. The king at once got down from the palanquin and fell at JadaBharata's feet and said- "O Brahmin! Leave this palanquin and tell me why have you taken this guise. Who are you? What is the reason of your coming here? I am eager to know about you."

JadaBharata said- "I cannot tell what I am and for the reason why I came here, I can say only that coming and going are all done so that one can experience their result. The soul takes an incarnation only to experience the joy and sorrow as per its deeds. Why are you then enquiring specifically about the reason for my coming here?"

The king said- "The soul transmigrates from one body to another only because of its action. I want to hear from you preaching regarding 'who am I cannot be told'. O Brahmin! The soul that is eternal and experiences the results of its action is I. This mark of ego is not a cause of demerit in the soul."

JadaBharata said- "You are right that words do not cause any demerit in the soul. But the ego expressed in the form of words is the reason for demerit in soul. When the same and single soul stays in everybody, possessive words are then meaningless. You are the king. This is the palanquin. They are the carriers and those are the subjects. O king! None of these words has any meaning. This palanquin is made of the wood received from some tree. So tell me what it should be called as- a palanquin or wood. Nobody says that the king is sitting on a tree. It is because of specific construction that a heap of wood has assumed the shape of a palanquin. For the purpose of action, the same soul is identified physically as a man, a woman, a cow, a goat, a horse, an elephant, a bird or a tree. But in fact, the soul is none of them. Things like wealth, king, kingdom, king's army and all other things that you possess are not fact. They are imaginations. For the subjects, you are king. For the son, you are father. For the wife, you are husband, and the father of her children. O king! Tell me, what should I address you as? Are you different from any of these nouns? Hence, always be careful while considering who am I? O king! The soul is so arranged in different roles that it is very difficult to tell specifically its real identity."

CHAPTER THIRTEEN JADABHARATA PREACHES THE KING

The king said-"O Brahmin. I was going to see sage Kapila and have the preaching regarding excellent human virtues. But now, hearing your words, I feel that I need not go any further. You are an ocean of knowledge. Kindly preach me about human virtues."

JadaBharata said- "O king! For those who worship the Lord with a desire to receive wealth and kingdom, these things are a supreme goal. For those who want to attain heaven, action in the form of forming Yagya is the goal. But the supreme virtue is to act in a selfless way without having a desire for results. A Yogi must contemplate on that transcendental soul because it is the only means to merge with that supreme soul."

If the wealth is the goal while it is spent in religious activities. If the son is the goal, the father too might have been a goal for someone. Thus, there is no supreme goal because everything exists for a time then ceases to exist. Hence the assumption of any physical thing as a supreme goal is meaningless. And consideration of soul separate from supreme soul is also futile. The soul is one, all pervasive, impartial, pure, intangible and transcendental. It is free from the cycles of birth and death. It can neither be created nor be destroyed. It is supremely omniscient. Its manifestation in different life forms is temporary and identification of soul with living beings is baseless. Soul which is present in scores of living beings is basically single and same. Once one comes to know this, he doesn't remain in darkness. Veil of ignorance then parts with him.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN TALE OF RIBHU AND NIDAGH

Hearing JadaBharata's words, the king fell in deep thoughts. JadaBharata then narrated the tale of Ribhu and Nidagh. Once upon a time, in the beautiful town of Veernagar at the bank of the river Devika, there lived Nidagh, the son of Pulastya. He was a disciple of Ribhu, the son of Brahma. Once, after a gap of one thousand years, Ribhu decided to see his disciple Nidagh. So he arrived at Veernagar. Nidagh welcomed and treated him warmly. In the night after dinner, they both sat together and Nidagh asked him if he relished the food.

Ribhu said- "O Brahmin! Only those who feel hungry are sated. I have never experienced hunger or thirst. How then can I tell you about my satisfaction? Hunger and thirst are the virtues of the physical body. Health and satisfaction are the states of mind. O Brahmin! Ask this question only to those who have these virtues, not me. Even the qualities of food like deliciousness and insipidness are meaningless because a delicious edible item loses its taste after sometime and causes irritation instead of satisfaction. Hence you should strive to develop a sense of impartiality towards delicious and insipid food items. Also sense of impartiality is essential to attain salvation."

CHAPTER FIFTEEN RIBHU PREACHES NIDAGH

One thousand years after this incident, Ribhu once again decided to see his disciple Nidagh. So he once again arrived in Veernagar. At that time, king of that town was leading a procession of his army. So there was a great crowd on the main road of the town. Nidagh was carrying some worship materials from the forest but seeing a huge crowd on the road, he stood aside waiting for its dispersion. Meanwhile, Ribhu also arrived there. Seeing Nidagh standing alone away from the crowd, Ribhu approached him and asked why he was standing there. Nidagh said- "O Brahmin! Today, the king of our town had taken out a procession. So I am standing here waiting for the dispersion of crowd so that I can reach home and offer my worship."

Ribhu asked- " It appears from your words that you know everything about your town. Kindly tell me who is the king and who are the subjects?" Nidagh said- "The one who is riding an elephant is the king and those who are following him on the ground are his subjects."

Ribhu said- "O Nidagh! You have shown me the king and the elephant together but did not show their distinguishing symptoms separately. Who is the king among them and who is the elephant?" Nidagh said- "The one who is above is the king and the one who is beneath is the elephant." Ribhu said- "Kindly elaborate what is above and what is beneath?" As soon as Ribhu finished his words, Nidagh climbed on his shoulders and said- "Look, like the king, I am above you and like the elephant, you are beneath me." Ribhu said- "If you are like the king and I am like the elephant, kindly explain to me, who are you and who am I?" Nidagh at once climbed down and fell at Ribhu's feet and said- "Certainly, you are the great sage Ribhu." Ribhu said- "Yes, I am Ribhu and I have come to preach you out of affection." Thereafter Ribhu preached Nidagh on the universality of soul and development of impartial view and left. By his preaching, Nidagh's ignorance dispersed and he began to see all the creatures equal to impartially.

O king! Like the Brahmin who attains salvation because of impartial view, you also develop an impartial view regarding soul. Then you will not see anyone separate from you. Everything in this world is a manifestation of soul.

Parashar says- "Thus preached by JadaBharata, the king of Sauveer left his partial attitude. JadaBharata too received salvation when he realised the true knowledge."

PART THREE

CHAPTER ONE DESCRIPTION OF MANVANTARAS

Maitreya says- "O Gurudev! Now I wish to hear the description of all the Manvantaras and the Manus who ruled those Manvantaras."

Parashar says- "First Manu was self-begotten. After him five more Manus occurred namely Swarochish, Uttam, Tamas, Raivat and Chakshush. All these Manus had occurred during the previous ages. The present Manu, Vaivasvat is the son of the Sun and this Manvantara is seventh."

In the Swarochish Manvantara, Paravat and Tushitgana were the gods. Vipaschit was Indra. Urjja, Stambh, Pran, Vat, Vrishabh, Nitya and Parivan were the Saptarishis. Chaitra and KimPurusha etc. were the sons of Manu.

Uttam was the Manu in Uttam Manvantara. Sushanti was Indra with Sudham, Satya, Japa, Pratardan and Vashvarti were his Ganas. Seven sons of Vashishta were Saptarishis.

In Tamas Manvantara, there were four categories of the gods namely Supar, Hari, Satya and Sudhi. Each of them had twenty-seven gods each. King Shibi was Indra during that Manvantara. Jyotirdhama, Prithu, Katya, Chaitra, Agni, Vanak and Peevar were Saptarishis.

During Raivat Manvantara, Vibhu was Indra. There were four categories of the gods namely Amitabh, Bhootrath, Vaikunth and Sumedha with fourteen gods each. Hiranyaroma, Vedsri, Urdhvabahu, Vedbahu, Sudama, Parjanya and Mahamuni were the Saptarishis. Four Manus Swarochish, Uttam, Tamas and Raivat are said to be the direct descendant of King Priyavrat.

During Chakshush Manvantara, Indra's name was Manojav. Apya, Prasoot, Bhavya, Prithuk and Lekh were the categories of gods each with eight deities. Sumedha, Viraja, Havishman, Uttam, Madhu, Atinama and Sahishnu were the Saptarishis.

During the present Manvantara, the Sun's brilliant son Shraddhdev is Manu. Aditya, Vasu and Rudra are the categories of the gods. Indra's name is Puranadar. Vashishta, Kashyapa, Atri, Jamadagni, Gautam, Vishwamitra and Bharadwaj are the Saptarishis. Present Manu has nine sons Ikshvaku, Nrig, Drisht, Sharayati, Narishyant, Nabhag, Arisht, Karush and Prishadhra.

CHAPTER TWO BIRTH OF SAVARANI MANU AND NEXT MANVANTARAS

Maitreya says- "O sage, kindly narrate about the future Manvantaras that are to come."

Parashar says- Vishwakarma's daughter Sangya was the wife of Surya. They had three children, Manu, Yama and Yamani. Sangya once felt unable to bear the radiance of Surya. So, appointing Chhaya (her shadow) in the service of Surya, she herself migrated to the forest and began to observe a penance. Surya mistook Chhaya for Sangya and copulated with her. This resulted in the birth of three children- one more Manu, Shani and Tapati. One day, getting angry for some unknown reason, Chhaya who was in the guise of Sangya cursed Yama. Only then Surya and Yama came to know about her real identity. Through meditation, Surya saw that the real Sangya was observing penance as a mare in the forest. Surya also arrived in the forest and mated with Sangya in horse form. Their mating resulted in the birth of two Ashwini kumars, Retahstrav and Revant. Thereafter, Surya brought Sangya to his abode where Vishwakarma dulled his radiance. Chhaya's son, Manu was a sibling of Manu; hence he came to be known as Savarni.

During the next Manvantara, Savarni will rule as Manu. Sutap, Amitabh and Mukhya will be the categories of gods each with twenty deities. Ditiman, Galav, Rama, Krip, Ashwatthama, Rishisring and my son, Veda Vyasa will be among the Saptarishis. By the grace of Lord Vishnu, Virochan's son Bali will occupy the throne of Indra.

Daksha Savarni will be the ninth Manu. During that Manvantara, Par, Marichgarv and Sudharma will be the three categories of the gods with twelve deities each. Adbhut will be Indra. Savan, Dyutiman, Bhavya, Vasu, Meghatithi, Jyotishman and Sata will be among the Saptarishis.

Brahma Savarni will be the tenth Manu. During that Manvantara, Sudhama and Vishuddh will be the two categories of gods with hundred deities each. Shanti will be Indra. Havishman, Sukrit, Satya, Tapomurti, Nabhag, Apratimauja and Satyaketu will be among the Saptarishis.

Dharmasavarni will be the eleventh Manu. Vihangam, Kamgam and Nirvangati will be the categories of gods each with thirty deities. Indra's name will be Vish. Nihsvar, Agniteja, Vayushman, Ghrini, Aruni, Havishman and Anagh will be among the Saptarishis.

Rudraputra Savarni will be the twelfth Manu. Ritudhama will be Indra and Harit, Rohit, Sumna, Sukarma and Surag will be the five categories of the gods each with ten deities. Tapasvi, Sutapa, Tapomurti, Taporati, Tapoghriti, Tapodyuti and Tapodhan will be among the Saptarishis.

Ruchi will be the thirteenth Manu. Sutrama, Sukarma and Sudharma will be the categories of the gods each with thirty-three deities. Devaspati will be Indra. Nirmoha, Tatvagarshi, Nishprakam, Nirutsuk, Ghritiman, Avyay and Sutapa will be among the Saptarishis.

Bhaum will be the fourteenth Manu. Suchi will be Indra. Chakshush, Pavitra, Kanishth, Bhrajik and Vachavriddh will be the five categories of the gods. Agnibahu, Suchi, Shukra, Magadh, Agnidhra, Yukt and Jit will be among the Saptarishis.

With the passing of these fourteen Manvantaras, a Kalpa that comprises of one thousand yugas will come to an end. In Satya Yuga, Lord Vishnu preaches about the metaphysical knowledge in Kapila's incarnation. In Treta Yuga, He destroys the evil doers and protects the world. In Dwapar  Yuga, He divides the Vedas into four divisions. At the end of Kali  Yuga, Lord takes Kali incarnation and inspires corrupt people to religious path. Thus, Lord Vishnu maintains order in all the four yugas and causes the creation, sustenance and ultimately destruction of the universe.

CHAPTER THREE VEDA VYASA AND SIGNIFICANCE OF BRAHMAGYAN

Maitreya says- "O Lord! How did God divide Vedas in the form of Veda Vyasa during different yugas?"

Parashar says- During each Dwapar Yuga, in every Kalpa, Lord Vishnu takes incarnation as Veda Vyasa and effects the division of Vedas for the benefit of human beings.

During every Dwapar Yuga of the present Vaivasvat Manvantara, different Vyasas have divided the Vedas twenty-eight times. During the first Dwapar, Brahma himself had divided the Vedas. During the second Dwapar, Prajapati was Veda Vyasa. During the third Dwapar, Shukracharya was Veda Vyasa. During fourth Dwapar, Brihaspati acted as Veda Vyasa.

Description of other sages who acted as Veda Vyasa during the subsequent Dwapars is as follows- Surya- fifth Veda Vyasa; Mrityu- sixth Veda Vyasa, Indra- seventh Veda Vyasa, Vashishta- eighth Veda Vyasa, Saraswat- ninth Veda Vyasa, Tridhama- tenth Veda Vyasa, Trishikh- eleventh Veda Vyasa, Bharadwaj- twelfth Veda Vyasa, Antariksh- thirteenth Veda Vyasa, Varani- fourteenth Veda Vyasa. Names of next fourteen Veda Vyasas are as follows- Trayyarun, Dhananjay, Krutunjay, Jay, Bharadwaj, Gautam, Haryatma, Vajshrava, Trinbindhu, Riksh (Valmiki), Shakti, Parashar, Jatukarn and Krishnadwaipayan. After Krishnadwaipayan, Drona's son, Ashwatthama will be the next Veda Vyasa.

CHAPTER FOUR EXPANSION OF THE BRANCHES OF RIGVEDA

At the beginning of creation, Rigveda contained all the four Vedas with hundred thousand mantras. That Rigveda helped a lot in the propagation of ten kinds of Yagyas. Then during the twenty-eighth Dwapar, my son, Krishnadwaipayan effected the division of Rigveda in four Vedas. At the same time, he also trained four of his distinguished disciples in the study of Vedas. Each one of them was interested with the study of one particular Veda for infinite period of time. Accordingly, sage Pail mastered in Rigveda, Vaishampayan in Yajurveda, Jaimini in Samaveda and Sumantu in Atharvaveda. With the four Vedas, practice of Chaturhotra also came into being. Chaturhotra is now the main guiding feature of all kinds of Yagyas. Vyasa also established the Karmas of Adhvarayu by Yajurveda, of Hota by Rigveda, of Udgata by Samaveda and of Brahma by Atharvaveda.

Sage Pail divided Rigveda into two divisions and taught them to two of his disciples- Indrapramiti and Vashkal. In his term, Vashkal divided his branch into four sub-branches and taught them to his disciples. Indrapramiti taught his branch of Rigveda to his talented son, sage Mandukeya. Thus branches and sub-branches of Rigveda grew substantially. In this tradition, Shakalyavedamitra learnt a Samhita and divided it into five sub-branches. One of his disciples named Shakpurn created three Samhitas whereas his another disciple created Nirukta Grantha. Vashkal created three Samhitas and taught them to Kalayani, Gargya and Tathaja.

CHAPTER FIVE DESCRIPTION OF THE BRANCHES OF YAJURVEDA

A disciple of Veda Vyasa named Vaishampayan created twenty-seven branches of Yajurveda and taught them to his disciples. He had a disciple Yagyavalkya who was the son of Brahmarat. At that time, all the sages together constituted a rule that whoever did not join their group within seven days on Mahameru would be held as a sinner equal to killing a Brahmin. Only Vaishampayan had violated that ruling. The curse of the sages did come true when Vaishampayan killed his sleeping nephew accidentally. Then he asked his disciples to do away with his sin.

Yagyavalkya said- "Lord! All these Brahmins are extremely dull. I will alone do away with your sin." These boastful words infuriated Vaishampayan. He said- "You are insulting these Brahmins so at once, regurgitate whatever I have taught you." Yagyavalkya said- "Lord! I uttered these words out of devotion for you. Still you wish me to regurgitate what you have taught me. Here it is! Saying this, Yagyavalkya vomited out all the Shrutis of Yajurveda. Other disciples of Vaishampayan pecked them in the form of partridges. Since then, they came to be known as Taitriya Brahmins. Holding his breath, Yagyavalkya then started the worship of the Sun with a desire to regain Yajurveda.

Pleased by his prayers, Surya appeared before him in horse form and asked him to seek a boon. Yagyavalkya requested Surya to preach him those Shrutis of Yajurveda, which were not known even to his teacher, Vaishampayan. Surya preached him those Shrutis of Yajurveda, which were known as Ayatyam. The Brahmins who read these Shrutis came to be known as Vaji. Nowadays, there are fifteen sub-branches of these Vaji Shrutis, which were initially expounded by sage Yagyavalkya.

CHAPTER SIX BRANCHES OF SAMAVEDA AND EIGHTEEN PURANAS

Sage Jaimini, a disciple of Veda Vyasa, effected branches of Samaveda. Sage Jaimini had a son, Sumantu. Sumantu in turn had a son, Sukarma. Both of them studied a branch of Samaveda each. Sukarma divided his branch of Samaveda into sub-branches and taught them to his two disciples- Kaushalya Hiranyanabh and Paushpinji. Hiranyanabh had five hundred disciples. Upon receiving the knowledge of Samaveda branch from Hiranyanabh, these disciples came to be known as Prachya Samag. Disciples of Paushpinji also effected divisions in Samaveda that they received from their teacher. One more disciple of Hiranyanabh named Kriti taught twenty-four Samhitas of Samaveda to his disciples.

Sage Sumant taught Atharvaveda to his disciple Kabandh. Kabandh divided it into two parts and taught them to Devdarsh and Pathya respectively. A disciple of Pathya named Shaunak divided his Samhita into two parts and gave one of them to his disciple Vabhru and another to Saindhav. Saindhav's disciple Munjikesh divided his Samhita into three parts. Presently, five Samhitas of Atharvaveda namely Nakshatrakalpa, Vedakalpa, Samhitakalpa, Angiraskalpa and Shantikalpa are considered authentic.

Still unsatisfied by his achievement, sage Veda Vyasa created Purana Samhita and taught them to his famous disciple Romaharshan Suta. The Samhita that was created by Romaharshan was the base of three Samhitas- Akritvrana, Savarni and Shanspayan created by Kashyapagotriya Brahmins. Vishnu Purana is in a way a summation of these four Samhitas. There are in all eighteen Puranas. In chronological order, these are as follows- Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, Vaishnav Purana, Shiva Purana, Bhagvat Purana. Narada Purana, Markandeya Purana, Agni Purana, Bhavishya Purana, Brahmavaivart Purana, Linga Purana, Varaha Purana, Skanda Purana, Vamana Purana, Kurma Purana, Matsya Purana, Garuda Purana and Brahmand Purana.

CHAPTER SEVEN YAMAGITA

Maitreya says- "Lord! At the end of a life span, all the people come to be controlled by Yamaraj. When they are bound to undergo scores of suffering in different kinds of hells. Kindly narrate about such action by which a human being gets free from the noose of Yamaraj."

Parashar says- Youngest among the Pandavas, Nakul had once put the same question before Pitamaha Bhisma. I am narrating what once Bhisma had narrated to Nakul. Before sending Yamaraj advises his agents to stay away from the devotee of Lord Krishna.

Yamaraj is lord of all the human beings except Vaishnavas. Only Lord Vishnu is able to control Yamaraj. About the devotee of Lord Vishnu, Yamaraj says - He who does not deviate from his duties even in severest of crisis, who does not steal the wealth of others and kill animals is undoubtedly a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He who bears Lord Vishnu in his heart is a devotee of Lord Vishnu. He who is free from all kinds of ego and illusions and always wishes well for the others with pure and peaceful heart is a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Thus those who always contemplate on Lord Vishnu don't even fear death. Yama, Yamadoot, Yamapash, Yamagana and even tortures of Yama are unable to hurt them.

CHAPTER EIGHT DUTIES OF FOUR CLASSES OF SOCIETY

Maitreya says - "Lord! How should one worship Lord Vishnu? Kindly describe it to me.

Parashar says- King Sagar had asked the same thing from sage Aurv. I am narrating what sage Aurv had preached him.

Only those who fulfil their responsibilities and discharge their duties as per their class can worship Lord Vishnu. Those who shun activities like criticising others, backbiting, womanising, stealing others' wealth and violence; those who do not torture others and are always ready to serve the gods, Brahmins and teachers are able to please Lord Vishnu. Similarly, one should be always conscious regarding his duties as per his class.

Accordingly, a Brahmin should carry out Yagyas, study scriptures and should not ever try to hurt anybody. A Kshatriya must organise Yagyas and study scriptures. He should also make donations to Brahmins and take weapons in order to protect the earth. A Vaishya must earn his livelihood through cattle rearing, commerce and agriculture. Besides he should also organise Yagyas make donations and study scriptures. A Shudra is expected to earn his livelihood through handicrafts. Saluting learned people is equal to organising Yagya for a Shudra. A Shudra may also make donations and oblations to appease his dead ancestors.

In the time of emergency, a Brahmin may shift to the occupations meant for Kshatriya and Vaishya. A Kshatriya may take the occupation of a Vaishya during emergency but none of them should ever take to the occupation of Shudra.

CHAPTER NINE DESCRIPTION OF DIFFERENT ASHRAMAS

Since birth till death, human life passes through different stages. For the purpose of simplicity in following these stages, our sages have made provisions for four stages or ashramas in life namely Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanprastha and Sanyas.

Upanayana Sanskara (thread ceremony) marks the beginning of education for the children born in Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya classes. For this purpose, a disciple must stay in his teacher's hermitage and observe celibacy strictly. There, he must serve his teacher and worship Surya and Agni. The disciple is expected never to disobey his teacher. Activities should be according to the teacher's guidelines. He should also make arrangements for the daily worship of his teacher in the way of collecting different materials like Havan samagri, water, Kusha, flowers etc.

After the completion of education and paying all the dues, the disciple is ready to start second stage of his life that is Grihastha ashrama. For this he should first find a suitable girl from his class and make merry. During this stage, he should earn his livelihood by occupations ascribed for his class. He should please the gods by Yagyas, his ancestors by oblations, Prajapatis by producing children, spectres by offering sacrifices of cereals and society by love. Even the ascetic and celibates depend on married people for their daily bread. Hence married life or Grihastha ashrama is stated to be excellent among all the ashramas. A Grihastha must welcome and warmly treat the guests who arrive unexpectedly. Such a household from where a guest returns desperately never succeeds in religious matters. All the worship and Yagyas offered in such a household go futile. Hence it is not proper for the householder to show ego and abuse a guest otherwise he will have to expiate for it later.

A person must always be on alert to recognise the time when it is apt to take Vanprastha. When the children grow and begin to hold the responsibility of the household, one enters the third stage i.e. Vanprastha ashrama. So, leaving his wife in the shelter of his children or taking her with him, one should migrate to the forest and live a simple life sustaining on whatever little is available from the nature. This stage must be passed observing severe penance and restraining one's senses. Sanyas ashrama is the fourth stage of life. One should give up all activities related to Dharma, Artha and Kama in this stage. He should keep an impartial view for all and cultivate a feeling of love for all the creatures. He should not hurt anybody by his words, actions or even thoughts. He should not stay in a village or town for more than five days. He should sustain his life on alms.

CHAPTER TEN CUSTOMS AND CONSECRATIONS

At the time of childbirth, it is the father's responsibility to carry out certain customs and consecrations for the child. First of all, Jatakarma Sanskara is carried out by which the newly born baby is included in the family. During this custom, a Brahmin couple is fed. It is also necessary for the couple that they should sit facing east while feeding. Thereafter, the parents should offer oblations to appease the gods and dead ancestors. Lumps made of barley flour, curd and berries should be offered as oblations. Similar consecrations are carried out at the time of children's marriage.

On the tenth day after the birth, the naming ceremony is carried out. Different castes and religion have different traditions regarding naming the newly born child. It is commonly seen that most of the children are named after the deities and gods. Still one should see that the name should not be meaningless, abusive or inauspicious. Practice of selecting exceptionally long and difficult to pronounce names should also be avoided.

The second stage in a child's life is when he or she begins education. In ancient times, thread ceremony used to be carried out and the children were sent to their teacher's hermitage for education. In modern age, thread ceremony is followed more or less in similar way as it used to be in the past. But children are not sent to Gurukul for education any more. After completing education, a person should get married and run his own life. In the past, there had been elaborate rituals for the selection of suitable bride. Elders of the house used to select a proper match for the boy. Their choice in most cases depended on many attributes and bodily features of the girl. But in modern age, with increased interaction among the people, it is not possible to follow each and every custom related to selection of bride. Still one should take care not to marry in his mother's lineage for up to fifth generation and in his father's lineage up to seventh generation.

CHAPTER ELEVEN DESCRIPTION OF RIGHTEOUSNESS

A married man knows the importance of following a righteous discourse. Married life is like a penance in which a couple gives birth and raises next generation. A married man is expected to get up early in the morning and contemplate on religious things. It helps him to follow righteous discourse. He is expected to attend nature's call in natural environment away from his house. Soil is considered the best means to wash hands. It should be followed by cleansing of the body. He should then offer oblations wearing fresh clothes to sages, deities and his dead ancestors. Offering oblations to the Sun, worship of tutelary god and other deities follows then.

If the household is having some cattle, the head of the family should himself milk them and then wait for the guest. If and when a guest arrives, the head of the family must offer him a seat respectfully and treat him well with delicious food and pleasant talk. In Indian tradition, a guest is regarded equal to a deity. He should take food only after feeding the guest. Evening time has also elaborate rituals for a married man. First of all, after finishing daily chores, a married man must worship with peaceful mind. It is also good for his health to take food early in the evening and retire to a wooden bedstead. Night time is considered suitable period for enjoying carnal pleasure. Here too, a married man should enjoy intimacy with his wife only.

CHAPTER TWELVE SANCTIFICATION AFTER BIRTH AND DEATH

Life on earth is like an infinite ocean in which birth appears like a bubble and death marks the bursting of that bubble after which it exists no more. Atmosphere of a household is said to be defiled when a birth or death occurs in it. There are different sanctifying customs to be carried out on both these occasions. After the birth of a son, the father should offer oblations to please the gods and his ancestors after taking a bath.

When a death occurs in a household, close relatives should take bath and carry the cadaver adorned with flowers and garlands outside the village or well-demarcated cremation ground for cremation. As per the religious tradition of the deceased, the body should either be consigned to the flames or buried. Then the relatives should again take bath in the pond or river facing south and offer watery oblations to the dead person. Since that day, Pindadan (offering sweet balls made of barley flour, sesame seeds, jaggery and honey) should be done for ten days. On the fourth day of the cremation, ashes should be collected for immersion in holy places of pilgrimage.

The person who had carried out the cremation must abstain from intimacy for thirteen days. Outsiders are also barred from eating cereals from such a household where a death has occurred. For the different classes of Hindu society, this sanctifying period varies. For Brahmins, it is ten days, for Kshatriyas, it is twelve days, for Vaishyas, it is fifteen days and for Shudras, this period has been fixed for one month. On the same day in every subsequent month, oblations should be offered to the dead for one year.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN DAYS FOR MONTHLY OBLATIONS

A Shradha carried out with devotion pleases the entire world including human beings, Brahma, Indra, Rudra, Ashwini Kumars, Surya, Agni, Vasugana, Marudgana, Vishwadeva, Pitragana, birds, animals, reptiles, sages and of course the dead ancestors. Moonless and eighth day in the darker phase of every lunar month are considered the best days for offering oblations to the dead ancestors.

Apart from these two, third day in the brighter phase of Vaishakh, ninth day in brighter phase of Kartik, thirteenth day in the darker phase of Bhadrapad and Amavasya of Magh are also considered excellent. During lunar and solar eclipses also, oblations should be made with water and sesame seeds. If Shatabhisha Nakshatra occurs on Amavasya of Magh, it is considered an excellent conjugation for offering oblations to dead ancestors. Bathing in rivers like Ganga, Sutlej, Yamuna, Vipasha, Saraswati, Gomti, Godavari etc. while making oblations is also said to be extremely benefiting. It is not necessary also to show great pomp and show while making oblations. If one doesn't have enough money to offer oblations properly, he may simply pray the Sun saying that 'he is not fortunate enough to have wealth'. Thus, his ancestors would be pleased by his devotion alone.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN METHOD FOR OBLATIONS

While making oblations to the dead ancestors, one should feed his near and dear ones as well as learned Brahmins who respect their parents. Intimacy with women is barred for those who have taken food in an oblation. Any guest who happens to arrive unexpectedly and uninvited should be treated well. Before feeding, plain cereals should be offered thrice to the fire reciting following hymns. AGNAYE KAVYA VAHANAYE SWAHA | SOMAY PITRAMATE SWAHA | VAIVASVATAY SWAHA ||

Remaining cereals then should be served with the food to the Brahmins and some parts should also be cast on earth and water should be offered on them.

After the feast, the Brahmins should be seen off with respect. The host should then take food along with his family. Anger over enthusiasm and walking on the street is forbidden for the host during oblation period.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN DO'S AND DON'TS DURING OBLATION

Oblation with flesh of fish, rabbit, mongoose, hog, deer, gram flour and cereals cause extreme satisfaction for the ancestors. But in modern Kali Yuga, all types of flesh are forbidden in oblation rituals. Only cereals, milk, honey, etc. are allowed. Offering of oblation in Gaya (a place of pilgrimage in Bihar) is said to save all the ancestors. Barley, wheat, rice, sesame seeds, peas, and mustard are the common cereals and grains used in oblations.

Offering of oblation is a sacred affair. During the procedure, care should be taken that an eunuch, Chandala, sinner, imposter, patient, cock, dog, a naked person, monkey, pigs, a woman in menses, and anybody in whose house a death or birth has occurred don't see the performer otherwise neither the deities nor the ancestors would accept the oblations. Water used in oblation should also be free from odour and foam. Milk of camel, sheep, doe and buffalo should not be used in oblations. Before beginning the ritual, drive out the evil spirits from the selected piece of land. It should be cut off from outside influences through enclosures.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN THE BATTLE OF GODS AND DEMONS

Rig, Sama and Yajurveda are like the clothes of Hindu society. Those who give them up are in fact naked. This statement is endorsed by the following tale.

Once upon a time, a battle occurred between the demons and the gods. It lasted for one hundred years at the end of which period, the demons defeated the gods. The humiliated gods reached Ksheersagar and prayed Lord Vishnu. Pleased by their prayers, Lord Vishnu appeared before the gods. All the gods greeted Him and said- "O Lord! In sheer violation of Brahma's dictate, formidable demons have kidnapped even our due shares offered in the oblations. Protect us from the onslaught of the demons. We cannot fill them because they abide by their religion. Kindly show us a way to kill the demons."

Hearing the pleas of the gods, Lord Vishnu produced Mayamoha from His body and giving them to the gods, said- "Mayamoha will cause illusion in the minds of the demons. The illusion will influence the demons to violate the path shown by the Vedas. You can kill them after that". Saying this, the Lord disappeared. The gods took Mayamoha and reached the abode of the demons.

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN DIALOGUE OF MAYAMOHA WITH DEMONS

Mayamoha was produced in a naked form. It reached the bank of Narmada and saw the demons observing penance there. The naked Mayamoha then approached them and said in a sweet voice- " O demons! What is the purpose of your penance?" The demons said- "We are observing penance to achieve the metaphysical world." Mayamoha said- "If you long for salvation, do as I suggest. Follow the religion which is like an open gate to salvation." With such sweet talk, Mayamoha began to illumine the demons' mind. Mayamoha confused them further saying- "O demons, if you long for salvation or a place in the heaven, give up sacrificing animals and attain enlightenment. It is wrong notion to say that violence is the religious path. Offering of oblations in fire is also childish. Even an animal which eats green grass is better than Indra who is obliged to eat wood despite attaining that position after hundreds of great Yagyas. If an animal which is sacrificed in Yagya attains heaven, performer of Yagya would have killed his own father."

Thus with these witty talks, Mayamoha deviated the demons from the righteous path because of which they lost interest in Vedas. Once it was achieved, the gods attacked the demons with full preparations. Ultimately, many demons were killed whereas those who remained came to be known as naked because they no longer followed the teachings of Vedas. Thus, anybody who does not practice the teachings of Vedas in his life is known as naked. Those who do not take to Vanprastha or Sanyas after the completion of Grihastha ashrama are naked.

Tale of Shatadhanu- In the ancient times there was a king named Shatadhanu. His queen Shaivya was a righteous and religious woman. The king and the queen had worshipped Lord Vishnu observing severe penance. On the full moon day in the month of Kartik when the king and queen came out of the Ganges after taking bath, they happened to sight an imposter Brahmin who was coming from the opposite direction. The Brahmin was a friend of the king's teacher. So, the king treated the Brahmin with respect. But his chaste wife did not show any respect for the imposter and kept silent all through the talk. She then had a sight of the Sun to expiate for the meeting with an imposter. On their return to the palace the king and the queen worshipped Lord Vishnu with proper rituals.

In due course, the king died. The queen also committed Sati. Since the king had committed the sin of talking to an imposter during his penance the king had committed the sin of talking to an imposter during his penance, he took birth in a dog form whereas queen Shaivya took birth as the daughter of a Kashi king. She was extremely beautiful and knew everything about her previous birth. When her father decided to marry her off, she requestfully refused for she knew that her previous birth husband was roaming the streets and lanes of Vidisha in a dog form.

The princess of Kashi then reached Vidisha and found out that dog was in fact King Shatadhanu. She fed the dog with delicious food eating which the dog began to wag its tail and show humility before the princess. The princess saluted the dog and narrated the whole thing to it that it was because of his sin of talking to an imposter during penance that he had to take birth as a dog.

Thus, reminded by the princess, the dog contemplated for long on the events of his previous birth. He grew so sad that he gave up the dog form on the outskirts of the town. In his next birth however he was born as a jackal. Again the princess came to know that the jackal was King Shatadhanu and asked him whether he continued to talk to the imposter after their conversation in the previous birth? Only then, King Shatadhanu came to realise his mistake. He then observed fast till death. But in his next birth, he was born as a wolf. Again the princess reminded him of his previous birth. The king's became a vulture in his next birth. After that, he took birth in crow form and then as a peacock. During that time, King Janaka was organising an Ashwamedha Yagya. In the yagya, the peacock was also given a ceremonial bath by the princess. During the bath, the princess reminded the peacock (King Shatadhanu) of his previous birth, the peacock too died and took next birth as the son of King Janaka.

It was only after the birth of King Janaka's son that the princess told her father to organise a Swayamvara for her. In the Swayamvara, the prince also arrived. The princess accepted him respectfully as her husband.

PART FOUR

CHAPTER ONE DESCRIPTION OF VAIVASVAT MANU'S LINEAGE

Lineage of Vaivasvat Manu finds its origin at Brahma. Brahma was the first to appear from Lord Vishnu who is the primitive cause for the whole creation. From the right hand thumb of Brahma, Daksha Prajapati appeared. Daksha produced Aditi and Aditi produced Vivasvan. Manu was the son of Vivasvan. Ikshvaku, Nrig, Grishth, Sharayati, Narishyant, Pranshu, Nabhag, Dishta, Karup and Prishadhra are the ten sons of Manu.

With a desire for a son Manu organised a Yagya to please the deities Mitra and Varuna. But during the Yagya because of a wrong resolution of oblator, a daughter named Ila was born to them. But by the grace of Mitra-Varuna, she got masculine appearance and a name Sudyumna. In later course by the wrath of Lord Shiva, Sudyumna was converted into a woman. In woman form when Sudyumna was roaming near the hermitage of Buddha, the son of Chandrama, her beauty infatuated Buddha. As a result of their union, a son Pururava was born. Even after the birth of Pururava, Sudyumna could not give up his temptation to be a man again. Hence, learned sages organised a Yagya for Sudyumna and got him converted into a man again. In masculine form, Sudyumna produced three sons- Utkal, Gaya and Vinat. Manu had presented a town named Prathishtha to Sudyumna, which he later on presented to Pururava.

Pururava's progenies spread in all directions and acquired Kshatriya caste. Manu's son, Prishadhra became a Shudra because of killing a cow of his teacher. Manu's another son, Karush produced an exceptionally strong Kshatriya named Karush. Lineage of Dishta grew as follows- Nabhag, Balbandhan, Kirtiman, Vatsapreeti, Pranshu, Prajapati, Khanitra, Chakshush, Vimbha, Vivimbhak, Khaninetra, Ativibhuti, Karandham, Avikshit, Marut.

Marut had a son, Narishyant. Lineage of Narishyant grew as follows- Dama, Rajvardhan, Suvriddhi, Keval, Sughritti, Nara, Chandra, Keval, Bandhuman, Veghvan, Buddha, Trinvindu. Trinvindu had a daughter Ilavila and a son Vishal. Vishal in later course founded Vishala.

Lineage of Vishal grew as follows- Hemchandra, Chandra, Dhumraksh, Srinjay, Sahadev, Krishasva, Somadutta, Janmejaya, Sumati.

Manu' son Sharayati had a daughter Sukanya who was married to sage Chyavan in peculiar circumstances. Anart was the son of Sharayati. Anart had a son Raivat who founded his capital at Kushasthali and ruled his kingdom on earth. Raivat had one hundred sons, the eldest among whom was Kakudmi. He had a daughter Revati. Raivat took Revati with him and approached Brahma who asked about a suitable match for her. At that time, Gandharvas were singing near Brahma. Raivat listened to their songs intently and forgot about the passage of time. Many ages passed like that but Raivat felt as if only an hour had passed. When the Gandharvas stopped singing, Raivat once again asked Brahma about a suitable match for Revati. Brahma asked Raivat about his own choices first. Raivat counted the names of many deserving princes and kings all of whom belonged to earth.

Brahma said smiling- "No one even in the progeny of these people is alive on earth because here listening to the Gandharvas songs you have passed four ages. Presently even the age of eighteenth Manu is about to end on earth and Kali Yuga is about to start." These words frightened Raivat who greeted Brahma and asked- "O Lord! Now tell me whom should I marry Revati to?" Brahma said- "That unborn all pervasive Parmeshwar Lord Vishnu had taken an incarnation on earth. O king! Your capital at Kushasthali which was equal to Indra's abode Amravati is now Dwarkapuri. In that Dwarkapuri, stays Baldev who is a part of Lord Vishnu. Marry this daughter to him because she is a jewel among the women folk and Baldev is praised all over the world by all. Hence only he deserves to be your son-in-law."

Hearing the verdict of Brahma, Prajapati Raivat descended on the earth and saw that an amazing transformation had taken place in the appearance of people who were now smaller in stature, ugly, dull and devoid of strength. Even his capital Kushasthali had acquired a new appearance and was now known as Dwarkapuri. Raivat found out Baldev and married his granddaughter Revati to him. But Revati appeared quite large and taller in stature than Baldev because of age difference. Baldev pressed her slightly with anterior part of his plough and she assumed a stature equal to normal women. After marrying Revati to Baldev, Raivat migrated to the Himalayas to observe penance.

CHAPTER TWO DESCRIPTION OF IKSHVAKU'S LINEAGE

Ikshvaku was born from the nostril of Manu as a result of sudden sneezing. Ikshvaku had hundred sons among whom Vikukshi, Nimi and Danda were prominent. Once Ikshvaku organised a Shradha. For the purpose of feeding Brahmins, he ordered his son Vikukshi to bring fresh meat of wild animals. Taking his bow and arrows, Vikukshi set out for the forest and hunted many deer and rabbits. Towards noon, he felt tired and hungry and hence ate one rabbit from the stock. Then he reached the capital and handed over the remaining flesh to his father.

But the sage Vashishta who was conducting the Shradha revealed the truth to Manu. Thus Vikukshi got the name of Shashad and was expelled by his father. Shashad in later course had a son, Puranajay.

In the past a fierce battle had taken place between the demons and the gods. The demons defeated the gods who approached Lord Vishnu for help. Lord Vishnu said-"I am aware of your desire. I will appear in he body of Shashad's son Puranajay to kill the demons. But it is your responsibility to convince him for the battle."

The gods approached Puranajay and requested-"O great among the Kshatriyas! Kindly help us to defeat our enemies." Puranajay said-"Shatkratu is Indra. If I fight the battle riding his shoulder, I will be able to kill the demons."

The gods accepted his condition. Indra took the guise of the bull riding which Puranajay killed the demons because Lord Vishnu had partially arrived in his body. Since then Puranajay got the name Kakutsth. He had a son Aneyna. Lineage of Aneyna grew as follows- Aneyna, Prithu, Vishtrabhva, Chandrayuvnashva, Shavasta. Shavasta founded the town of Shavasti (modern Shravasti). Lineage of Shavasta continued as follows- Shavasta, Vrihadashva, Kuvalayashva, Dridashva, Tandrashva, Kapilashva.

For a long time, Yuvanashva did not have a child. So, he organised a Putreshti Yagya in the auspices of learned sages. The Yagya lasted for a whole day. At midnight when the Yagya ended, sages fell asleep because of tiredness keeping the urn of Yagya water near the altar. The water had been empowered with sacred mantras. Meanwhile the thirsty king came there and drank that water from the urn. When the sages awakened, they enquired about the water in the urn. Yuvanashva told them that he had himself drunk it. The sages told that as the water had been empowered with sacred mantras and was meant for the queen in order to make her conceive. Hence the king instead of the queen will conceive now. As a result Yuvanashva conceived and in due course gave birth to a child from his right armpit. But the child's birth did not kill the king. The baby was Mandhata. In due course Mandhata ruled the entire earth, which was divided into seven islands.

Mandhata married Bindumati, the daughter of Shatabindu. They had three sons- Purukutsa, Ambareesh, and Muchukunda. They also had fifty daughters. When all the daughters grew young a sage Saubhari arrived in the palace and requested Mandhata to marry one of his daughters to him. The sage appeared old and frail. So, Mandhata hesitated and tried to send him off making many excuses. The sage assured him about his physical abilities. But still the king felt hesitant and said-"O sage, it is our tradition that we marry our daughter only to he whom our daughter chooses as her husband. Your request is beyond our desires."

Hearing Mandhata's word sage considered for a moment and said-"All right O king! Kindly instruct the eunuch who guards the quarters of your daughters to escort me there." Fearing a curse from the sage, Mandhata instructed the eunuchs to escort him into the quarters of his daughters. While entering the quarters, the sage assumed the appearance of an extremely handsome Gandharva. So, when he arrived there, a row started among the girls as to who would choose him as her husband first. Each one of them claimed that she had first chosen him. Thus all the daughters of Mandhata chose sage Saubhari as their husband.

When the eunuchs informed the king about this development, he fell in deep thoughts how it could happen. But still he was bound by his promise so he had no choice but to marry all his daughters to sage Saubhari. Marrying all the fifty girls, sage Saubhari brought them to his hermitage. Calling Vishwakarma, he instructed him to build separate castles for each of his wives. In no time, Vishwakarma erected fifty beautiful palaces in a row. Each one of them had ample spacious and airy rooms, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Since then, all the girls occupied those palaces and began to live there. Every kind of luxury and food was available to them.

One day, drawn by the love for his daughters, King Mandhata decided to visit Saubhari's ashrama. But in place of ashrama, he found a row of beautiful palaces. There, he met his daughters and enquired about their well being. The daughters informed him that they were happy to live with the sage and that their husband was capable enough to provide them with all the luxuries. But still they remembered their native place. Each of the girl also expressed one grief that her husband enjoyed intimacy with her at all times and did not share time with her other sisters. These words of the girls surprised the king. Ultimately he met Saubhari and worshipping him he said-"O lord! It is the result of your severe penance that you are able to keep all the fifty girls happy." Staying there for a few days, the king returned.

In due course, the daughters of Mandhata gave birth to one hundred and fifty sons. Those sons grew up and produced their progeny. At that time sage Saubhari thought- 'I have seen the birth of my sons. Now they have their own sons. If I stay there, I will long to see my great-grandchildren. Desires do not end till death. Acquiring a human body is in itself a great sorrow. I have received enough in life, enjoyed intimacy with fifty princesses. If I keep more desires, I will receive nothing but sorrow. Hence I should take to the penance of Lord Vishnu.'

Thinking that way, sage Saubhari migrated to the forest along with his fifty wives. There they conducted Yagyas and passed their time worshipping Lord Vishnu.

CHAPTER THREE MANDHATA, TRISHANKU, AND SAGAR

Once upon a time Gandharvas of collective name Mauneya defeated the Nagas and snatched all their wealth and powers. The Nagas prayed Lord Vishnu to rescue them. Lord Vishnu told them that he would appear in Mandhata's son Purukutsa and kill the Gandharvas. Afterwards Narmada brought Purukutsa to Rasatal where Lord Vishnu appeared in his body. Thus having the strength of Lord Vishnu, Purukutsa defeated and killed the Gandharvas. Pleased by the action of Narmada, the Nagas blessed her with a boon that whoever remembered her would have no fear of snake venom and Purukutsa that he would have an immortal son.

Purukutsa and Narmada had a son Trasadasyu. Lineage of Trasadasyu continued as follows- Trasadasyu, Anaranya, Vrihadashva, Haryashva, Hasta, Sumana, Tridhanva, Trayaruni and Satyavrat. Satyavrat became famous as Trishanku in later course. By the curse of a sage, Trishanku had become a Chandala. Once a drought occurred for twelve long years. During that drought, to get rid from this condition of Chandala and feed sage Vishwamitra, Trishanku used to tie a whole skinned deer to a Banyan tree on the bank of the river Ganges. Pleased by his selfless service, sage Vishwamitra sent Trishanku to the heaven with his ephemeral body.

Lineage of Trishanku grew as follows- Trishanku, Harishchandra, Rohitashva, Harit, Chanchu, Vijay, and Vasudev. Vijay had a son Ruruk. Ruruk's son was Vrik who had a son Bahu. Bahu had two queens. After a long time of their marriage, Bahu's queen consort conceived a son. But the circumstances took a strange turn. Bahu's enemies together attacked his kingdom and defeated him. The defeated king migrated to the forest along with his queens and began to live at the hermitage of sage Aurv. Very soon, King Bahu died of old age. His queen consort also wanted to commit Sati but sage Aurv prevented her from doing so. After sometime getting envious of her fortune, the other queen deceitfully fed her with poison. But the poison could not harm the foetus, which stayed unborn for a period of seven years because of poison's effect.

Staying at the hermitage of sage Aurv, the queen consort gave birth to a son. Since the child was born with the effect of the poison, Sage Aurv named him as Sagar. Sagar began to grow in he hermitage in natural surrounding. One day he asked his mother about his father. The queen narrated the whole incident to him. Sagar then and there took an oath to exterminate the Kshatriyas who had been the cause of his father's death. Acting as per his oath, Sagar destroyed Haihaya Kshatriyas whereas Shak Kshatriyas got their heads shaven out of fear. Since those Kshatriyas had given up their religion, hence Brahmins boycotted them. As a result they became Malechchha. Thereafter King Sagar returned to his capital and ruled the earth.

CHAPTER FOUR DESCRIPTION OF SURYAVANSH

King Sagar had two queens, Sumati, the daughter of Kashyapa and Keshini, the daughter of Vidarbha's king. Keshini had a son Asmanjas whereas Sumati had sixty thousand sons. Anshuman was the son of Asmanjas. Asmanjas was very whimsical since his childhood. Even in his youth, he did not change his behaviour. Hence King Sagar had abandoned Asmanjas. But the things did not improve for Sagar because even his sixty thousand sons followed the footsteps of Asmanjas.

The gods one-day approached sage Kapila who was a partial incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Greeting him, they said- "If the sixty thousand sons of Sagar continued on their whimsical way, the earth would not remain suitable for living." Sage Kapila assured the gods that the sixty thousand sons of Sagar would meet their fate very soon. By the instigation of sage Kapila, King Sagar organised an Ashwamedha Yagya.

The sixty thousand princes also followed the horse guarding it. But somehow Indra managed to kidnap the horse and tethered it at the hermitage of sage Kapila. The sixty thousand princes searched for the horse and following the footprints, they also reached the hermitage. There they found the horse and also a sage in deep meditation. Thinking that the sage might have been responsible for abduction of the horse they began to abuse him. As soon as sage Kapila disturbed by the abuses opened his eyes, a flame appeared and incinerated all the sixty thousand princes. When King Sagar came to know about this incident, he sent Anshuman to bring back that horse. Anshuman also reached the hermitage and greeted sage Kapila with respect. Pleased by his politeness, sage Kapila blessed Anshuman and instructed him to take the horse away with him. He also asked him to seek a boon. As the boon, Anshuman only sought the salvation for his sixty thousand dead uncles. Sage Kapila assured Anshuman that his ancestors would certainly attain to the heaven but only after a long wait and that his grandson Bhagirath would bring the Ganges onto the earth and that the Ganges' waters would wash the ashes of his ancestors to the ocean and cause their salvation.

Thus blessed by the sae Kapila, Anshuman returned to the capital with the horse in order to help his grand father finish the Yagya. Anshuman had a son Dileep. Dileep's son was Bhagirath who observed severe penance and pleased Ganga to descend on the earth. Since the Ganges had descended on earth because of Bhagirath's penance, she also got a name Bhagirathi.

The lineage of Bhagirath grew as follows- Bhagirath, Suhotra, Shruti, Nabhag, Ambareesh, Sindhudweep, Ayutayu, Rituparn, Sarvakam, Sudas, and Saudas.

One day, King Saudas went hunting in the forests. There he spotted a pair of the tigers. They were actually a tiger and a tigress in mating. Saudas killed one of them by his arrow, while the other turned into a demon and threatening of an avenge disappeared from the scene.

In due course, King Saudas organised a Yagya in the auspices of sage Vashishta. Towards the end of Yagya, sage Vashishta went away to take bath. Meanwhile the same demon arrived there in the guise of Vashishta and expressed his desire to eat non-vegetarian food. Then the demon arrived before the king in the guise of the cook. The king ordered him to cook meat for the sage. The cook cooked human flesh and served it before the sage. Sage Vashishta knew that the food contained human flesh. He cursed the king in anger to be a demon. Within three days, King Saudas became a demon and began to roam in the forests. Since then he ate the humans only.

One day, Saudas in demon form saw Muni who was in the process of mating his wife. The demon caught and ate the Muni neglecting all the cries and wailing of his wife. The Brahmani angrily cursed the demon that as her husband had been killed while he was about to sate his carnal lust similarly he would also die right in the same process.

King Saudas remained in the demon's form for twelve more years. After that he recovered from the curse and began to rule like a pious king. One day, King Saudas saw the queen in an amorous condition and an impulse of carnal pleasure ran within his body. He made advances to satisfy his lust but the queen who knew everything about the curse stopped him reminding him of the curse. Since then the king stuck to celibacy. Since the king had no son, he allowed his queen Madayanti to conceive a child with the help of sage Vashishta. The queen did conceive but the foetus remained unborn for seven years at length. At last the irritated queen hit her foetus with a stone. This resulted in the birth of child at once. The child was named Ashmak. The lineage of Ashmak grew as follows: Ashmak, Moolak, Dasharath, Ilivil, Vishvasah, and Khatwang. Khatwang had killed many formidable demons fighting by the side of the gods. Pleased by his gallantry, the gods wanted to grant him a boon. Khatwang wanted to know how long would live more. The gods told him that he would live for one Muhurta more. Hearing this, Khatwang came back on earth and prayed Lord Vishnu to take him in His refuge. At last he did annihilated with Lord Vishnu.

Lineage of Khatwang grew as follows-Khatwang, Deerghbahu, Raghu, Aja, and Dasharath. King Dasharath had three queens who gave birth to four sons- Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughana.

Rama was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. His life too had lot of ups and downs. After being trained in archery, He and Lakshmana spent most of their boyhood time in the hermitage of sage Vishwamitra guarding his Yagyas from the demons. After that when Vishwamitra was taking them to Mithila Lord Rama saved Ahilya who had been converted into a stone by the curse of her husband sage Gautam. In Mithila, Lord Rama broke the bow of Lord Shiva and won Sita as His wife. When they returned to Ayodhya, King Dasharath decided to crown Rama as the new king. But misguided by Manthara, queen Kaikeyee stubbornly sought that her son Bharata should be crowned as the new king whereas Rama should be sent on an exile for fourteen years. Bounded by his promises that he had made to Kaikeyee earlier, King Dasharath had no choice but to accept her demands.

Thus to keep His father's words, Lord Rama accepted the exile. Sita and Lakshmana also followed His steps. In the forests, the demon king Ravana deceitfully abducted Sita. It was followed by meeting of Rama with Hanuman and Sugriva, killing of Bali- Sugriva's brother, finding of Sita by Hanuman in Lanka, bridging of the sea that separated Lanka, fierce battle with the demons and ultimately killing of Ravana by Lord Rama. After the completion of exile period Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya and ruled there for twelve years.

Lord Rama had two sons- Lava and Kusha. Lineage of Kusha grew as follows- Kusha, Atithi, Nishadh, Anal, Nabh, Pundareek, Kshemdhanwa, Devaneek, Ahinaka, Ruru, Pariyatrak, Deval, Vanchal, Ulka, Vajranabha, Shankhan, Yushhitashva, Vishvasaha, Hiranyanam, Pushya, Dhruvasandhi, Sudarshan, Agnivarn, Shighrag, Maru, Prasushrut, Susandhi, Amarsh, Sahaswan and Vishvabhav. Vishvabhav had a son Brihdal who was killed by Abhimanyu in the battle of Mahabharata.

CHAPTER FIVE TALE OF NIMI AND DESCRIPTION OF HIS LINEAGE

Ikshvaku's son Nimi once decided to organise a Yagya that was to last for one thousand years. He also wanted the sage Vashishta to guide the Yagya. But Indra had already booked Vashishta for a period of five hundred years. So sage Vashishta expressed his inability to conduct any other Yagya till the completion of that period and requested the king to wait till he was free from Indra's obligations. Nimi kept quite at that time. Taking his silence as an approval, the sage began the Yagya for Indra. But the king meanwhile started Yagya in the auspices of other sages like Gautam etc.

At the completion of Yagya for Indra, sage Vashishta hurried back to the earth to conduct Yagya for King Nimi. But here he found that a Yagya was already in progression. This infuriated the sage to the extent that he poured down curse on Nimi, who was sleeping at that time, to lose his body at once. When the king learned about the curse and that he was cursed in sleep, he cursed the sage in retaliation to lose his body at once before giving up his own body. By the curse of Nimi, Vashishta's body was destroyed but he himself entered the semen of Mitra-Varuna. Thereafter, one day Mitra-Varuna happened to see the apsara Urvashi. Her amorous beauty caused the ejaculation of his semen spontaneously. With ejaculated semen, sage Vashishta also came out and acquired a new body.

On the other hand, at end of Yagya when the gods appeared to accept their due share from the offerings, the sages prayed them to grant Nimi some boon. Nimi however sought nothing in boon but expressed his desire to stay in eyes of the people forever. The gods granted that desire. Before that nobody had ever blinked his eyes. Blinking of eyes came into practice because Nimi stays there. In order to save the kingdom from anarchy, the sages churned the dead body of Nimi with a stick of Bombax tree and produced a son. That son came to known as Janaka. Since he was born from the dead body of his father, the boy also came to be known as Vaideha. Lineage of Janaka continued as follows: Janaka, Udavasu, Nandivardhan, Suketu, Devrat, Brihadukth, Mahaveerya, Sudhriti, Dhrishtketu, Haryashva, Manu, Prateet, Kritrath, Devbheed, Vibudh, Mahadhriti, Kritraj, Maharoma, Suvarnaroma, Hrasyaroma and Seerdhvaj. With a desire of a son, Seerdhvaj was once ploughing the earth when he stumbled upon a pitcher. In the pitcher, he found a beautiful baby whom he named as Sita.

CHAPTER SIX DESCRIPTION OF SOMA VANSH AND TALE OF PURURAVA

The creator of the world, Brahma had a son named Atri. Chandrama was the son of Atri. Once Chandrama organised a Rajsuya Yagya and received great powers. Afterwards blinded by his powers, Chandrama kidnapped Tara, the wife of Brihaspati. Even his grandfather Brahma tried to dissuade him from committing such a grave crime but Chandrama was not to listen to anybody. Because his hostility with Brihaspati, the teacher of the demons Shukra was also assisting Chandrama. At that moment of need, only Rudra came forward to help Brihaspati. A fierce battle followed between Chandrama and Rudra. The gods were helping Brihaspati while because of Shukra, the demons fought from the side of Chandrama. Soon the battle assumed the proportion of a war that perplexed the entire world. At last, Lord Vishnu mediated to end the battle and helped Brihaspati to get his wife back. By that time Tara had conceived a child. Seeing her condition Brihaspati instigated Tara to abort the baby. Tara aborted the baby amidst some shrubs but it did not die. Instead, his brilliance dulled even the radiance of the gods.

The baby was so beautiful that both Brihaspati and Chandrama were eager to accept him. To settle the matter, Brahma asked Tara about the paternity of the child. Feeling shy, Tara revealed that Chandrama was the father of the child. Then Brahma himself adopted the child and named him as Buddha.

When he grew young, Buddha produced Pururava from Illa. Pururava was very magnanimous and handsome. Once an apsara Urvashi happened to see him and at once fell in love. She then approached Pururava. Her beauty enchanted Pururava also. He requested the apsara to stay with him. But Urvashi stipulated that she might stay with him if he agreed to follow her two conditions that he would never drive the two sheep, which were like her children away from her bed and that he would never undress before her in visible light. Pururava accepted both the conditions. Since then Pururava began to live with Urvashi. Together they enjoyed their physical intimacy for sixty thousand years. Their love grew so much that even Urvashi forgot those heavenly comforts that she used to enjoy once. Because of her absence, even the heaven appeared more dreaded than hell.

At last, one Vishvavasu who knew about the conditions stole one sheep from their bedroom and flew away. Hearing the cries of the sheep, Urvashi got up in anxiety and shouted who was stealing her son. But Pururava pretended as if asleep for the fear of being seen naked. As the fuss grew further, he could no more contain himself and ran after the thief. Right at that moment, the Gandharvas produced intense lightning illuminating the whole scene. As a result, Urvashi saw Pururava in a naked state and at once left his palace to her heavenly abode for now both of her conditions had been violated. Pururava could not tolerate the separation of Urvashi. He began to roam here and there in that bare condition like a mad. Thus roaming he reached at Kamal Sarovar in Kurukshetra where he saw Urvashi with four other elves. Seeing Urvashi Pururava began to behave madly. It was impossible for him to control his sensual desires even in the presence of other elves. But Urvashi stopped him saying that she was expecting an issue and after a year, she will give birth to his child. She also promised at that time she will stay with him for a night.

After a year King Pururava once again reached that place where Urvashi handed over his son Ayu. As per her promise she also stayed with Pururava for a night and consequently in later course gave birth to five more sons. Urvashi informed Pururava that because of their love Gandharvas wished to bless him with a boon. Pururava sought a life-long union with Urvashi. Gandharvas presented him with an altar and instructed to conduct regular Yagyas properly. Then all of his desires would come true, the Gandharvas assured Pururava. But King Pururava left that altar in the forest and returned to his capital. At mid-night, he awakened suddenly as if from a trance and hurried to the forest to recover his altar. But the altar was no more there; it had transformed into a peepal tree. Pururava got that tree felled and brought it to his capital where the carpenters made Arani (a wooden implement used in ancient India to produce fire) from its wood. Since then Pururava conducted regular Yagyas with the help of that Arani and attained to the Gandharvaloka where he was never separated from Urvashi again.

CHAPTER SEVEN BIRTH OF JAMADAGNI AND VISHWAMITRA

Pururava had six sons- Ayu, Amavasu, Vishwavasu, Shrutayu, Shatayu and Ayutayu. Amavasu had a son Bhima and Bhima in turn had a son Kanchan. Jahnu was the son of Kanchan's son, Suhotra. At the time of Ganga's descend on earth, when Jahnu saw his hermitage inundated, he drank all her water. He released the Ganges only when the Devrishis prayed him. Since then Ganges also came to be known as Jahnavi, the daughter of Jahnu.

Lineage of Jahnu grew as follows- Jahnu, Sumant, Ajak, Balakashva and Kusha. Kusha had four sons- Kushamb, Kushnam, Adhurtraja and Vasu. Kushamb observed severe penance with a desire to have a son like Indra. Pleased by his penance, Indra himself took birth as his son. He came to be known as Kaushik. Kaushik had a daughter named Satyavati who got married to Richeek. Sage Richeek prepared kheer in two parts- one for his wife Satyavati and another for Satyavati's mother. Instructing Satyavati, he went to the forest.

When Satyavati and her mother were about to eat the kheer, her mother exchanged her part of kheer with that of her daughter saying that her son had to foster the world while the son of the sage had nothing to do with wealth and all that. Satyavati agreed to that and ate that part of kheer, which was reserved for her mother whereas her mother ate Satyavati's part. When Richeek returned from the forest, he noticed formidable changes in the body of his wife. He understood that she had eaten her mother's part of the kheer. Angrily the sage predicted that she would have a son who would be Kshatriya-like in virtues whereas her mother would have Brahmin-like son. Satyavati begged pardon and requested the sage to change his prediction saying that the crime was committed by mistake and that she would be happy to have a Kshatriya-like grandson but not a son. At her request the sage changed his prediction.

As per the prediction, Satyavati gave birth to Jamadagni whereas her mother gave birth to Vishwamitra. After giving birth to Jamadagni turned into a river named Kaushiki.

In later course, as a partial incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Parashurama took birth as the son of sage Jamadagni.

CHAPTER EIGHT DESCRIPTION OF KASHYA VANSH

Pururava's son Ayu had been married to Rahu's daughter. They had five sons- Nahush, Kshatravriddh, Rambh, Vraji and Aneyna. Suhotra was the son of Kshatravriddh. He had three sons- Kashya, Kash and Gritsamad. Shaunak was the son of Gritsamad whereas Kasheya was the son of Kashya. Lineage of Kasheya grew as- Kasheya, Rashtra, Dirdhakapa, and Dhanvantari. Dhanvantari's body was free from all the physical faults like ageing and diseases.

Dhanvantari's lineage grew as- Dhanvantari, Ketuman, Bheemrath, Dibodas and Pratardan. Pratardan was also known as Shatrujit because of his conquering his enemies. Since he had acquired a horse named Kulavay hence he also came to be known as Kulvayashva. Pratardan had a son named Alarka who enjoyed his rule on earth for sixty-six thousand years.

Lineage of Alarka continued as follows- Sannati, Sunith, Suketu, Dharmaketu, Satyaketu, Vibhu, Suvibhu, Sukumar, Dhristhaketu, Vitihotra, Bharga and Bhargbhumi. It was progeny of Bhargbhumi who gave rise to four classes of people.

CHAPTER NINE DESCRIPTION OF KING RAJI AND HIS SONS

King Raji had five hundred prowessive sons. Once at the beginning of battle between the demons and the gods, they appeared before Brahma and enquired as to which part would win. Brahma said that only that part would win which would be aided by King Raji. First the demons approached Raji and requested him to fight from their side. King Raji stipulated that he would fight only when the demons agreed to appoint him as their Indra. The demons told him that Prahlada was their Indra and returned. Then the gods also approached King Raji and requested him to take their side. Raji put the same condition before them also to which the gods agreed.

In a fierce battle and aided by King Raji, the gods defeated the demons. After their victory, Indra bowed before King Raji and expressed his desire to present him with the kingdom of heaven. Thus King Raji became Indra. After the demise of Raji, Narada instigated his sons to acquire the rule of heaven. All the five hundred sons of Raji approached Indra and requested him to give them the rule of heaven but Indra refused plainly. At that Raji's sons dethroned Indra forcibly and themselves became Indra. After much time had passed, Indra approached Brihaspati and prayed him to help him regain the rule of heaven. Brihaspati assured him that he would soon establish him at the throne.

Afterwards Brihaspati created illusions in the minds of Raji's sons. He also conducted many Yagyas to increase the radiance of Indra. Guided by the illusions, Raji's sons began to behave in anti-religious ways. Then Indra easily killed them all and regained his designation.

CHAPTER TEN TALE OF YAYATI

Nahush had six sons- Yati, Yayati, Sanyati, Ayati, Viyati and Kriti. Yayati had two wives, Devyani, the daughter of Shukracharya and Sharmishtha, the daughter of Vrishparva. Devyani gave birth to Yadu and Turvasu whereas Sharmishtha gave birth to Druhayu, Anu and Puru. Because of a curse of Shukracharya old age had descended on Yayati prematurely.

Yayati then requested his eldest son Yadu to exchange his youth with his old age but Yadu refused. Then Yayati requested each of his sons one by one but all of them refused plainly for the fear of getting old prematurely.

At last Yayati's youngest son Puru gladly accepted his request and gave him his youth. Regaining the youth, Yayati once again indulged in carnal pleasures with both his queens. But everyday his desire for pleasures increased like a fire flared up by ghee. After one thousand years Yayati realised his mistake and decided to expiate for his sin. Thus, Yayati returned Puru his youth and acquired his old age once again. Then crowning Puru as the king, he took an exile to the forest.

CHAPTER ELEVEN YADU VANSH AND TALE OF SAHASTRARJUNA

Yayati's eldest son Yadu had four sons- Sahastrajit, Kroshtu, Nala and Nahush. Sahastrajit had a son Shatajit who had three sons Haihaya, Hehaya and Venuhaya. Lineage of Haihaya grew as- Dharma, Dharmanetra, Kunti, Sahajit, Mahishman, Bhadrashrenya, Durdabh and Dhanak. Dhanak had four sons- Kritveerya, Kritagni, Kritdharma and Kritauja. Kritveerya had a prowessive son Arjuna. Arjuna had worshipped Dattatreya and by his blessings acquired one thousand arms. Since then he came to be known as Sahastrarjuna. Dattatreya had blessed him with many other boons like rule of entire earth, fostering of his subjects in religious ways and killing by some human being famous in all the three worlds. At that time, there was no other king equal to Sahastrarjuna in virtues. He ruled the entire earth for eighty-five thousand years.

Once Sahastrarjuna was enjoying his past time on the waters of Narmada when he happened to have an encounter with Ravana, the king of Lanka. Sahastrarjuna captured Ravana easily and imprisoned him at an isolated place in his kingdom. With time ego of SahastrArjuna had crossed all limits. He began to terrorise the sages and other religious people. When his atrocities increased beyond tolerance level, Lord Vishnu took a partial incarnation as Parashurama, the son of sage Jamadagni and Renuka. As per the prediction of sage Richeek, Parashurama grew with Kshatriya - like virtues. He had in fact taken incarnation to relieve the earth from the atrocities of egoist kings. Parashurama had received arms training from none other than Lord Shiva. He was very obedient to his father and had beheaded his own mother by the Parashu (axe) that he had received from Lord Shiva at the dictate of his father. In due course Parashurama not only got Ravana released from captivity but also killed Sahastrarjuna.

Sahastrarjuna had one hundred sons among whom Shur, Shursena, Vrishasena, Madhu and Jayadhwaj were prominent. Jayadhwaj had a son Taljunga. Taljunga had one hundred sons among whom Vitihotra and Bharata were prominent. Bharata again had one hundred sons whereas Madhu also had hundred sons among whom Vrishni was prominent. After the name of their forefather Yadu, this clan came to be known as Yaduvansha.

CHAPTER TWELVE DESCRIPTION OF KROSHTU VANSH

Lineage of Kroshtu grew as follows- Kroshtu, Dhwajnivan, Swati, Rushanku, Chitrarath, Rashibindu. Rashibindu had one lakh queens and ten lakh sons among whom Prithusharva, Prithukarma, Prithukirti, Prithuyasha, Prithujay and Prithushan were prominent. In their lineage later on occurred a king named Jyamadh. He was so dedicated to his wife Shaivya that despite being childless, he did not dare to marry other women because of her fear. Once, Jyamadh took part in a fierce battle in which he defeated all his enemies. While he was about to return, he heard pitiable cries of a woman. He saw a beautiful young lady who was crying for her protection. Jyamadh was so infatuated by her beauty that he took her to his kingdom. When they reached at the gate of the palace, the king saw that the queen Shaivya was waiting for him along with a big crowd. When Shaivya saw a beautiful young lady sitting beside the king on the chariot, she began to shout at him. The horrified king tried to explain that the young lady was his daughter-in-law. The queen shouted even louder that when they did not have a son, whence the daughter-in-law came. But the king explained that he had selected a wife for her would-be son. As the effect of their conversation queen Shaivya soon conceived and gave birth to a son inspite of her advancing age. They named the son as Vidarbh. In due course of time, Vidarbh got married to that lady whom his father had brought home earlier. They had three sons- Krath, Kaushik and Romapad. Romapad had received preaching from Narada. Lineage of Krath grew as follows- Krath, Kunti, Ghrishti, Nighriti, Dashard, Vyoma, Jimoot, Vikriti, Bheemrath, Navrath, Dasharath, Shakuni, Karambhi, Devrat, Devakshatra, Madhu, Kumarvansh, Anu, Kurumitra, Anshu, Satvak. Satvak was the forefather of a clan that was named after him.

PART FIVE

CHAPTER ONE PURU VANSH

The lineage of Puru grew as Puru, Janmejaya, Prachinvan, Praveer, Manasyu, Abhayad, Sudayu, Bahugat, Sanyati, Ahamyati, Raudrashva. Raudrashva had ten sons among whom Riteshu was the most prominent. Riteshu had three sons among whom Apratirath was most prominent. Lineage of Apratirath is as follows- Apratirath, Aileen, Dushyant and Bharata. King Dushyant had fallen in love with Shakuntala, the daughter of sage Vishwamitra and apsara Menaka.

They got married secretly in the forest and after a few days, King Dushyant returned to his kingdom promising Shakuntala that he would call her as soon as he reached his palace. He had given Shakuntala his ring as a memento. But while Shakuntala was crossing the river on her way to the palace, the ring slipped from her finger and was swallowed by a fish. In the absence of the ring, King Dushyant refused to identify Shakuntala. So, she returned to the hermitage of sage Vishwamitra and gave birth to a child who later on became famous as Bharata.

Bharata had been very prowessive since his childhood. His first meeting with King Dushyant was also very dramatical. It is said that once King Dushyant was hunting in the forest and he saw a boy who was counting the teeth of a lion. Impressed by the bravery of the boy, the king enquired about his parentage and reached the hermitage where sage Vishwamitra narrated him the whole story. Meanwhile a fisherman had also recovered the ring from the fish and handed it to the king who had thus recalled the whole story. In the hermitage, King Dushyant came to see Shakuntala and he candidly accepted her and his son Bharata. Bharata had three queens and nine children. Since none of the children resembled him in features, he expressed his doubts about their paternity. Fearing the wrath of Bharata, his queens killed all the children. Then with a desire to have a son, Bharata organised a Marutsoma Yagya. As a result he got Bharadwaj as his son. Bharadwaj's second name was Vitath. His lineage grew as follows- Vitath, Manyu.

Manyu had many sons like Brihatkshatra, Mahaveer, Nara, Garg etc. Their lineage grew as follows Nara, Sanskriti, Gurupreeti and Rantidev. Garg had a son Shini who became famous as Gargya and Shainya also. Mahaveer lineage is as follows- Durukshay, Trayyaruni, Pushkarinya and Kapi. In the lineage of Brihatkshatra occurred a king Hasti who founded the city of Hastinapur. Hasti had three sons- Ajmirh, Dwijmirh and Purumirh. Among the sons of Ajmirh were included Panchals and a daughter Ahilya. Ahilya was married to sage Gautam. They had a son Shatanand. Satyaghriti was the son of Shatanand. Once Satyaghriti happened to sight the extremely amorous and beautiful apsara Urvashi. Her mere sight was enough to cause the ejaculation of his semen, which fell on a reed and divided into two parts. From these two parts were born a boy Krip and a girl Kripi. King Shantanu discovered Krip and Kripi in the forest and brought them to his palace. In later course, Kripi was married to Dronacharya, the teacher of Kauravas and Pandavas. Ashwatthama was the son of Dronacharya. One of the kings named Kuru in the lineage of Ajmirh established the sacred region of Kurukshetra.

CHAPTER TWO DESCRIPTION OF KURU VANSH

In the lineage of Kuru, there occurred a King Prateep. He had three sons- Devapi, Shantanu and Vahlik. Devapi had taken an abode in the forest in his childhood. Hence Shantanu came to become a king after their father Prateep.

Once in the kingdom of King Shantanu, there was no rainfall for twelve years.  Perplexed by the continuous drought-like situation, Shantanu consulted learned Brahmins. Brahmins informed him that he had no genuine right on the kingdom, which in fact belonged to his brother Devapi. They also told him that as long as Devapi was not fallen from his supreme position, the drought would continue. Alternatively, handing over the kingdom to Devapi might also result in the end of the drought. Then Shantanu's minister Ashmasari appointed certain Brahmins who always spoke in anti-Vedas ways. Their continuous preaching disinclined Devapi's mind from Vedas. On the other hand one day, King Shantanu proceeded towards the forest along with Brahmins and his courtiers to hand over the kingdom to Devapi. There the Brahmins tried to convince Devapi to accept the onus of the kingdom. They were sighting anecdotes from the Vedas to corroborate their argument. But Devapi criticised Vedas and spoke in anti-religious ways. At that Brahmins instructed the king to return to the kingdom, as there was no use to convince Devapi. They also assured Shantanu that since Devapi had been disinclined from Vedas, he had lost his right to the kingdom and the famine would also come to an end.

Shantanu's younger brother Vahlik had a son Somadutta. Bhuri, Bhurishrava and Shalya were the sons of Somadutta. In later course Shantanu got married to Ganga and had a son Bhisma. From his second wife Satyavati, Shantanu had two sons- Chitrangad and Vichitraveerya. Chitrangad was killed by a Gandharva whereas younger Vichitraveerya was married to the princesses of Kashi, Ambika and Ambalika. He was so busy in carnal pleasures with his two wives that soon he contracted tuberculosis and died.  Despite their indulgence in carnal pleasures, Ambika and Ambalika could not bear a child from Vichitraveerya. Hence in order to continue their lineage, Satyavati inspired Ambika and Ambalika to appear naked before Veda Vyasa and beget a child. Since Ambika closed her eyes while she appeared naked before Veda Vyasa, she begot a blind son, Dhritarashtra. Similarly, Ambalika grew pale when she appeared naked before Veda Vyasa. Hence she begot a son Pandu who was congenitally afflicted with jaundice. Not satisfied by the outcome, Satyavati once again persuaded Ambika and Ambalika to appear naked before Veda Vyasa. But the queens sent a maidservant Vinita before Veda Vyasa. Vinita appeared naked before Veda Vyasa without any fear or shyness. Hence she begot an extremely wise son Vidura. In later course Dhritarashtra got married to Gandhari, the princess of Kandahar whereas Pandu received two wives Kunti, the daughter of Shoorsen and Madri, the princess of Madra. Dhritarashtra had one hundred sons and a daughter Dushala. Duryodhan was the eldest among the one hundred sons of Dhritarashtra. Pandu on the other hand had five sons among whom Yudhisthira was the eldest.

All the five sons of Pandu were born with the help of five gods- Dharma, Vayu, Indra and Ashwini Kumars because Pandu was carrying a curse that he would die if he ever tried to copulate. Pandu's five sons- Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakul and Sahadev came to be known as Pandavas. Five Pandavas were married to Draupadi, the daughter of Panchal King Drupad. From Draupadi each of the Pandavas had a son. Their names were Prativindya from Yudhisthira, Shrutsen from Bhima, Shrutkirti from Arjuna, Shrutaneek from Nakul and Shrutkarma from Sahadev. Besides them Yudhisthira had a son Devak from Yaudheyi. From Hidimba, Bhima had a son Ghatotkachch and from Kashi a son Sarvak. From Vijaya, Sahadev had a son Suhotra whereas from Renumati, Nakul had a son Nirmitra. Arjuna was the most prowessive among the Pandavas. Apart from Draupadi he had three more wives- Ulupi who belonged to the Nagas, Chitrangada, the princess of Manipur and Subhadra, the sister of Lord Krishna. From these three wives Arjuna had three sons-Iravan from Ulupi, Vabhruvahan from Chitrangada and Abhimanyu from Subhadra. In the battle of Mahabharata all these sons of the Pandavas fought valiantly and sacrificed their lives. It was Abhimanyu's son Parikshit who continued the lineage of Pandavas and ruled the earth till right now.

CHAPTER THREE INCARNATION OF LORD KRISHNA

Vasudev, the son of Shoorsen was married to Devaki, the daughter of Devak. On that occasion of their marriage, Devaki's cousin Kansa was driving their chariot. At that time, a celestial voice declared that the eighth son of Devaki would kill Kansa. Kansa in the excitement was ready to kill Devaki ten and there but Vasudev convinced him saying that he would himself hand over all his children to him. Thus assured by Vasudev, Kansa dropped the idea of killing Devaki.

When the marriage of Vasudev and Devaki was taking place, Prithvi approached Brahma in the guise of a cow. She complained to Brahma that population of mean-minded people was increasing and that she was not more able to bear the burden of their anti-religious deeds. Prithvi said- "O Lord! The same demon Kalnemi whom Lord Vishnu had killed in his previous birth has taken incarnation of Kansa, the son of Ugrasena. Many other fearsome demons Arishth, Dhenuk, Keshi, Pralamb, Sunda, Banasura and many more have taken over the rule and tormenting the religious people in many ways. They keep million strong forces. I am unable to bear their burden. So kindly do something to get me rid of this burden."

Hearing the words of Prithvi, Brahma said to the gods- "Prithvi speaks the truth. Indeed she is carrying too much burden. Let us all go to the shore of Ksheersagar and pray Lord Vishnu and intimate Him about all this matter." Then accompanied by the gods, Brahma arrived at the coast of Ksheersagar and prayed Lord Vishnu. Pleased by their prayer, Lord Vishnu appeared before them in His universal form and said- "Brahma! Believe my words and be assured that whatever you and these gods desire shall realise." Thus assured by the Lord all the gods and Brahma prayed once again. Pleased by their prayer, Lord Vishnu plucked a black and a white hair from his head and said-"Both these hair of mine shall take incarnation on earth and remove the miseries that the people face there. All of you take partial incarnation on earth to attenuate the strength of the demons. This black hair of mine shall take birth as the eighth son of Devaki and kill Kansa who is an re-incarnation of Kalnemi."

While this conversation was on, Devarshi Narada appeared before Kansa and informed him that Lord Vishnu would take birth as the eighth son of Devaki. Hearing the words of Narada, Kansa angrily put Vasudev and Devaki behind the bars. There in his abode, Lord Vishnu instructed Mahamaya (personified illusion) to implant the six foetuses who were in Patal in the womb of Devaki, one by one. He knew that all of them would be killed by Kansa. Then he instructed Mahamaya to implant his part Shesha who would appear as the seventh issue of Devaki, in the womb of Rohini, the second wife of Vasudev so that he could appear as her son instead of Devaki's. Lord instructed Mahamaya to appear in the womb of Yashoda in Gokul while He Himself would appear as the eighth issue of Devaki. He also told Mahamaya that He would take birth on the eighth day of the darker phase in the month of Bhadrapad while she would take birth on the ninth day and that immediately after His birth, Vasudev would himself carry Him to Gokul and leaving me beside Yashoda, he would carry her back to Mathura.

CHAPTER FOUR APPEARANCE OF LORD IN DEVAKI'S WOMB

As per the dictate of Lord Vishnu, YogaMaya implanted six foetuses in the womb of Devaki. All the six children were killed by Kansa immediately after their birth. Yogamaya transplanted the seventh issue of Devaki into the womb of Rohini who was residing at that time in Gokul. Then Lord Himself appeared as the eighth issue of Devaki. Since the time of His arrival, radiance of Devaki increased manifold. At the same time, Yogamaya also appeared as an issue of Yashoda in Gokul. Seeing the arrival of Lord Himself as the eighth issue of Devaki, the gods prayed Him with devotion.

Then on the eighth day in the darker phase of Bhadrapad, Lord took birth. At the time of His birth, the wind suspended its motion. The reverse attained extremely purified state whereas dense clouds gathered in the sky and caused drizzling. Seeing the child born with auspicious Swastik mark on his chest, Vasudev recognised Him and prayed Him. At the same time, he and Devaki also feared that Kansa would kill their eighth son also. So, they prayed the Lord to hide His divine appearance. Lord assured them that their ordeals would end soon.

Then Vasudev put the child in a winnower and started his journey on foot to Gokul carrying the winnower on his head. Because of the influence of Yogamaya, all the guards fell asleep while the gates of the prison opened automatically. It was raining heavily at that time. So when Vasudev reached in the open, Sheshnag spread its hood over him to shade the Lord from rain. In Gokul, Nand's wife Yashoda too gave birth to a girl child but because of Yogamaya's influence she did not know anything about the birth. Vasudev arrived there and putting Lord beside the sleeping Yashoda, he took her baby and returned to his prison in Mathura.

As soon as the baby reached in the prison, she began to cry loudly. Her cries awakened the guards who ran to inform Kansa about the child's birth. Kansa at once arrived there and snatching the baby from Devaki's lap, he dashed her on the wall. But before he could throw the baby, she slipped from his grip and taking eight armed Jagdamba's appearance, established in the air. Laughing loudly then, mother Jagdamba said- "O Kansa! You cannot kill me. Your killer has taken birth. Lord Hari had been your death in your previous births. In this birth also He will kill you. So from now on, make efforts for your benefit only. Saying this Jagdamba vanished. Worried by the words of Yogamaya, Kansa called a meeting of his prominent demons and said -"These evil gods have hatched a conspiracy to kill me. But being a brave man, I do not take these gods into account. You have yourself witnessed how Indra fled before the shower of my arrows. You would also remember how the clouds rained heavily in my kingdom when Indra had forbidden them from raining on a kingdom and I had pierced them with my arrows.

All the things on earth except my father-in-law Jarasandh bow before me in fear. I don't care for the gods. Even their efforts to kill me make me laugh. But still I must not take the word of Jagdamba lightly that my killer had taken birth. We should therefore kill all the children who have taken birth within the past few days." Instructing the demons Kansa approached Vasudev and Devaki in the prison and released them apologising his cruel action in the way of killing their innocent children.

CHAPTER FIVE KILLING OF PUTANA AND OF OTHER DEMONS

When Vasudev was released from the prison, Nand visited Mathura on some official trip. He also came to see Vasudev. Vasudev greeted him for the birth of a son and instructed him to return to Gokul as soon as possible. He also requested Nand to look after the son of Rohini as his own son. After meeting Vasudev when Nand was returning, many kinds of thoughts were disturbing him. In the Gokul while Nand was away, an ogress Putana had stolen the little Krishna in the night and was breast-feeding him with her poisoned milk. But little Krishna sucked even her life through her breast. Making a loud noise and assuming a huge body, Putana fell on earth and died. Only then the village folk came to know about the incident. They also saw little Krishna sitting in the lap of Putana.

The frightened Yashoda swept little Krishna with the tail of a cow to do away with all the bad omens. The other cowherds also prayed Lord Vishnu to protect the child from all calamities.

KILLING OF SHAKA

When Lord Krishna was twenty-seven days old, a festival was organised in Gokul. Mata Yashoda bathed the baby while the Brahmins recited hymns. Yashoda saw that baby was feeling sleepy, so putting him in a cradle, she left it under a cart. The cart was loaded with pitchers of milk, curd and butter. After sometime, lord Krishna awoke and began to cry for a feed. But amidst festivities, Yashoda could not hear his cries.

Meanwhile a demon Shakatasur rode the cart wishing to press the cart and thereby kill the Lord. But before he could act, the Lord touched the cart with His feet and lo and behold! The cart turned over and all the utensils kept on it came crashing down. Even the demon was crushed to death under the cart. Other boys, who were playing nearby, informed the Gopis (ladiesfolk) that the little Kanhaiya had turned over the loaded cart, but they did not believe the kids. Yashoda ran in horror and lifted the baby in her lap. The Brahmins recited pacifying hymns then. Thereafter the baby was bathed again with sanctified water. A feast of Brahmins followed then. Ultimately they were seen off with many gifts.

SALVATION OF TRINAVART

Once Mata Yashoda was playing with the baby lord in her home. All of a sudden she felt as if the baby was getting disproportionately heavy. Soon, she felt herself unable to bear the child anymore. So she left the child on the ground and began to pray Purushaottam Lord Rama. Soon afterwards she forgot about the event, but all was not over yet. Trinavart, a demon minister of Kansa, had arrived in Gokul as a fierce cyclone. He covered entire Gokul with dust and blinded the people temporarily. For a moment people could not see anything and during that moment Trinavart blew the baby in air with him. When the dust settled, Yashoda did not find the baby Krishna where she had left him. She felt extremely sorry and fell on ground in depression. Other womenfolk also gathered round her. They too began to cry not seeing baby Krishna there.

In the form of cyclone, the demon Trinavart had blown baby Krishna with him; but he too could not bear his heavy burden. So he began to lose his velocity. Lord Krishna caught him by neck. The demon died in a few moments and his dead body fell in Vraj. And Yashoda got a new lease of life when she saw baby Krishna safe and sound. Nand and other Gopas too were overjoyed.

NAMING OF LORD KRISHNA

Once, the supreme ascetic Gargacharya arrived in Gokul. He was the ancestral teacher of Yaduvanshis. Nand joyfully welcomed and treated the hermit. Then he requested him to carry out the ritual of naming and suggest suitable named for both of his sons. Acharya Garg said, "O Nand, everyone knows that I am the ancestral teacher of the Yadavas. If I carry out the naming ritual for these boys, people will understand that they are Devaki's sons." So Nand requested Gargacharya to name his sons secretly. Gargacharya accepted his request and carried out the naming rituals secretly in Nand's cattle shed.

Garg said: "This son of Rohini will cause by his virtue, great pleasures for his near and dear ones. So his second name will be Rama. And because of excessive strength, people will call him as Bala also. Since he will unite the people also, so one of his names would be Sankarshan."

Thereafter, Garg said pointing to Yashodanandan. He has taken incarnation in every age. In the past ages, he had taken white, red and yellow complexions respectively. This time he has taken dark complexion, so he will be known as Krishna. Once he has been the son of Vasudev, so people will call him as Vasudev also. He will cause salvation of all of you, and great joy for the fellow Gopas and cows. With his help, you will overcome even the severe crises. O Nand, This boy will be equal to Narayana in virtues, wealth, beauty, fame and influence. Foster this child with care and earnestness." Thus naming the boys as per their virtues, Garg returned to his hermitage.

CHILDHOOD OF LORD KRISHNA

The time passed in Gokul as usual. Balarama and Krishna too grew normally. Soon they began to walk on knees and palms. With their childish plays they both amused men and women folk of Gokul. Everyone took special care of them and looked after them to save them from any possible danger. Ladysfolk were especially careful about them.

Soon afterwards, both the kids began to walk trottingly. Now their movement no longer confined within the boundary of their home. Because of his special virtues, Krishna began to lead other kids of his age group whereas his elder brother Balarama was somewhat serious in nature. Krishna specially enjoyed teasing the girls and milkmaids of Gokul. Often he would eat stealing their milk, curd and butter. At other times, He did not hesitate even to break their pitchers. In such situations the ladyfolk used to gather in Nand's home to complain against Krishna. And every time Yashoda promised them to punish Krishna. But every time, when she proceeded to punish him, she forgot everything before his sweet, innocent smile.

One day, Balarama complained against Krishna, "Ma, the little Kanhaiya has eaten mud. Worried about Krishna's health, Yashoda scolded at him: "Tell me, O mischievous Krishna, why did you eat mud". At that moment, little Krishna's eyes were moving with fear. He made an excuse: "No Ma, I have not eaten any mud. They are telling you a lie. If you don't believe, me see yourself." Saying this, Krishna opened his little mouth. Yashoda peeped into his mouth and what she saw there amazed her. She could not believe it. The entire universe was visible in his little mouth. Yashoda saw strange places, entire Vraj and even herself in the little mouth of Krishna. She felt dizzy. With his illusionary powers, Lord wiped out the memory of this incidence from the mind of Yashoda, and she again immersed in love with her child.

UKHAL BANDHAN AND SALVATION OF YAMALARJUNA

Once, wishing to feed Krishna with butter, Yashoda began to churn milk in the morning. Very soon, Krishna too awakened and not finding the mother on her bed, He set out to search her. Soon He found her in the courtyard where she was churning the milk. He began to insist for breast feeding at once. So Yashoda stopped churning and began to breast feed Krishna. Affection played on her face. Suddenly the milk kept on the fire pot began to boil. Yashoda left Krishna in order to attend the boiling milk. But the unstiated Krishna filled with anger and broke the pitcher of curd. Then he went inside and began to eat butter, when Yashoda came back; she understood the matter and began to search him with a stick in her hand. After eating butter himself, Krishna was now feeding the monkeys with it. Seeing the mother come in hot pursuit, Krishna jumped over the mortar and ran away. Yashoda chased him, but soon felt tired because of her bulky body.

Thereafter, Yashoda proceeded to tie Krishna as a punishment. She got a rope and tried to tie Krishna. But the rope fell short by two fingers. She joined many ropes together but the result was same. Every time the ropes fell short by two fingers. Soon, Yashoda was bathing in sweat. When Krishna saw his mother in depression, he himself tied in the ropes. Tethering little Krishna to a heavy mortar, Yashoda engaged in usual household tasks. Tethered to the mortar, Krishna glanced at the two Arjuna trees, which were standing on the gate like two sentries. He resolved to save them.

Maitreya asked Parashar about the trees. Parashar said: "The lord of wealth Kubera had two sons Nalkubar and Manigreev. One day they were enjoying the sweet company of pretty women on the bank of Mandakini River. Just by coincidence, Devarshi Narada arrived there. Out of Shyness, the women folk at once covered themselves, but both the sons of Kubera stood boldly without feeling any shame. Indignant Narada cursed them to become trees and stay in that form for one hundred years. Narada showed kindness as well that despite being in tree forms, they would have the memory of God alive and would be saved by Lord Sri Krishna. Thus, to keep the words of his supreme devotee Narada, Lord dragged the mortar to the two Arjuna trees. He walked in such a way that the mortar got stuck between the trees. Krishna then pulled the mortar and in no time the trees were uprooted. Two divine men appeared from the uprooted trees and bowed at the feet of Krishna and prayed him with pure hearts. Then they departed to their heavenly abode.

MIGRATION TO VRINDAVANA

The uprooted Arjuna trees fell with thundering sound. All the people shivered with fear and felt as if lightning had struck somewhere. All the elders including Nand met together and discussed the matter. Unanimously they concluded that, of late disturbance had increased in Gokul and the circumstances were no longer conducive to raise the kids like Balarama and Krishna there. So they unanimously decided to leave Gokul and migrate to a verdant place named Vrindavana. In their opinion, Vrindavana had ample vegetation and fertility to support them and their cattle.

Thus, on an auspicious day, the entire population of Gokul set out for Vrindavana. They packed their households on bullock carts and drove their cattle in herds and started in convoy. In Vrindavana they built their houses and started their life once again.

Parashar says: "The verdant environment of Vrindavana, Govardhan mountain and crystal clear waters and sandy banks of Yamuna river together filled the hearts of Balarama and Krishna with joy. Along with the fellow cowherds, they began diverse kinds of plays there.

SALVATION OF VATSASUR

One day, Balarama and Krishna were grazing their cattle on the bank of Yamuna River. A demon, meanwhile, took the guise of a calf and mixed with the herd. Obviously, he had malicious intentions. Lord Krishna had already seen the demon taking calf's guise and mixing up with the herd. He signalled Balarama and they together reached near the calf. The calf appeared particularly healthy, so Krishna and Balarama mockingly saw it with admiring eyes. Suddenly they held the calf with its hind legs and tail twirling it in air they threw it in the sky. When the demon died, they threw him on a Kath (wood-apple) tree.

SALVATION OF BAKASUR

One day, all the cowherds took their cattle to a large pond to let them drink water. There they say a huge creature sitting like a hillock on the bank. They were frightened by its appearance. The creature was in fact a demon named Bakasur who had arrived there in the guise of a storke. He was himself very strong and had a long pointed bill. As soon as the cowherds drew near him, The storke hastily picked up Krishna and swallowed him. Other cowherds including Balarama were stupefied. They could not believe their eyes. But inside the beak, Lord Krishna made him extremely hot and caused severe burning in demon's throat. So the demon could not swallow Krishna and regurgitated him, and began to hit him with his strong beak. But Lord held his beak with both his hands and tore the demon's mouth apart. And as son as the demon died, a ripple of joy surged among the cowherds.

SALVATION OF AGHASUR

One day, Krishna planned a picnic near Nandanvan. So rising early in the morning, He awakened his fellow cowherds sounding a horn. Together, all the cowherds, and their cattle went to the forest. There, on the bank of Yamuna River they began to play joyfully. Nandanvan was in fact an abode of the demon Aghasur. Kansa had sent him there. Seeing the boys playing, he felt extremely jealous. Knowing that Krishna had killed his brother Bakasur and sister Pootana, it seemed an ideal moment for the demon to avenge the death of his siblings. Thinking thus, the demon took guise of python and lay in the way and opening his mouth like an opening of a cave. The cowherds too fell in his trap. Thus driven by curiosity, all the cowherds entered the demon mouth one by one. When Lord Krishna saw that his friends had entered demon's mouth. He too entered it to protect them.

Aghasur wanted to masticate the cowherds including lord Krishna; but the lord increased his body and choked demon throat. Now the breath of demon stopped. His eyes rolled over and at last his life left his body through Brahmrandhra (cosmic pore). With his ambrosial eye, Lord resurrected these dead fellows and their cattle and together they came out of the demon's mouth. As soon as the demon died, a divine flame emerged from the python's mouth. It waited there sometime for God. And when lord Krishna came out, the flame mingled with him.

ATTACHMENT OF BRAHMA, STEALING OF CATTLE AND COWHERDS

Parashar says: The cowherds told the tale of Aghasur's salvation to their parents only after a year of the incidence. During that period of one year, Lord Krishna multiplied himself and took the guise of his fellow cowherd and their stock of cattle to remove the illusion of Brahma, who was the cause of the following incidence.

After Aghasur's life mingled with God, Lord Krishna came with His fellow cowherd on the bank of Yamuna. They left their cattle to graze freely and they sat together to take their lunch. All of the cowherds tasted one-another's food, as they wanted to feed Krishna with the tasty food. Meanwhile surprised by Aghasur's salvation, Brahma too had arrived there and saw Krishna eating food defiled by the cowherds. With that sight, Brahma grew suspicious if Krishna was indeed an incarnation of lord. Thus driven by the illusion and to test the authenticity of lord's incarnation, Brahma kidnapped all the cattle first and when Krishna went out to search the cattle Brahma kidnapped and concealed the cowherds also. Soon lord Krishna understood the craftiness of Brahma, so he multiplied himself into his fellow cowherds and cattle. Replicas resembled truly to the cowherds in appearance, complexion, nature, activities, voice, sticks and even in costumes. The replicas remain in existence for complete one year.

Back there, when Brahma returned after hiding the cowherds and the cattle, he was stunned to see the cowherds and cattle as usual. Brahma was feeling dizzy when lord bestowed his grace on him. Brahma saw Narayana in every dust particle. Brahma therefore bowed his head at the feet of lord and said: "O lord, I submit before you. You can be won only with devotion and not by ego. No one can know your omnipresent appearance. Thus praying and worshipping lord Narayana, Brahma returned to his abode. The cowherds remained separated from God for one year. But they felt as if only half a second had passed because of the illusionary influence of God. That is why they related the incidence of Aghasur's killing to their parents only after a year it took place.

SALVATION OF DHENUKASUR

When Krishna and Balarama entered sixth year of their ages, they got the permission to take the cattle out for grazing. Along with their fellow cowherds the two brothers too began to take their cattle to Vrindavana. Thus they sanctified the earth of Vrindavana with their pious feet. Seeing the beauty of Vrindavana, with beautiful, colourful flowers and sweet fruits, Lord Krishna felt overjoyed. He then used to graze his cattle at the foothills of Govardhan and on the banks of Yamuna River. Playing flute was his favourite pass time. One day Krishna's beloved friend Sudama said: "Kanhaiya, there is a beautiful forest name Talvana. It has uncountable numbers of trees laden with ripe fruits. But a formidable demon Dhenukasur guards that forest. He is very strong. So no one goes there; even animals and birds shun that place. But we are tempted to eat those sweet delicious fruits. If you and Dau (Balarama) wish, we may go there and eat those delicious fruits."

Thus hearing this, Krishna and Balarama guided all of them to Talvana. There they shook the trees and in no time a heap of ripe, delicious fruits gathered under the trees. All the cowherds began to eat fruits. While eating, they were also making lot of noises. Disturbed by the sound of fruits falling and noise of the cowherds, the demon Dhenukasur arrived there as a donkey. He was braying loudly and tried to hit Balarama, but Balarama caught him by his hind legs and threw him in the air. The demon died in an instance. Since that day, everyone visited Talvana fearlessly and the cattle grazed there freely.

GRACE ON KALIYA THE NAGA

One day, Bala-Krishna arrived on the banks of Yamuna with their friends. Balarama was not with them that day. The water of the river Yamuna was intoxicated by the poison of Kaliya- the Naga. It was exceptionally hot that day and all the cowherds and cattle were very thirsty. So without giving any thought, they all drank the water from Yamuna and died. But Lord Krishna resurrected them by his ambrosial sight.

Then Lord Krishna decided to purify the waters of Yamuna. Thus tying a cloth round his waist, Krishna climbed a Cadamba tree and jumped into the river. In the water the lord started playing and splashing water. Soon the waves began to rise high. When Kaliya- the Naga heard the noise. He got extremely angry and appeared before Krishna.

He saw a beautiful, tender, dark complexioned boy playing joyfully in the waters. He stung him and tied him in his spirals. Tied in the spirals of Kaliya, lord became absolutely motionless. Seeing Krishna in death like situation, all the cowherds and even the cows felt very sorry. Just then lord freed himself from the hold of Kaliya. Then a game of hide and seek began between them. Lord dodged the Naga for a long time. Thereafter he rode on Kaliya's hood and began to dance there.

The followers of God, like Gandharvas etc. began to play Mridang, Dhol etc. to give him a company. Tired from the blows of lord's feet, Kaliya soon began to vomit blood. Naga's wives began to pray God, "O lord, your incarnation is to punish the evil ones for their sins. You have shown your grace on us also. We are fortunate to have a sight and touch of your feet. Pity O lord. This Naga can no longer bear your momentum. He will die. We are all your slaves. Kaliya is our lord. Kindly forgive him." With kindness, lord released Kaliya, who prayed thus: O lord in your creation we snakes represent Tamoguna (dark virtues). We are confused by your illusions." Lord dictated Kaliya to migrate with his family to Ramanakdweep. Since then water of Yamuna became pure for humans and animals.

DRINKING OF DAVANAL (FOREST FIRE)

After defeating Kaliya, Lord Krishna and all other people of Vraj felt extremely tired. They were very hungry and thirsty also. So they did not go back to Vrindavana, but stayed on the bank of Yamuna in the night. Because of intense heat of summer, surrounding forests had been Srivelled. At midnight those Srivelled forests caught fire and the sleeping people were engulfed by it. They awakened startled and took shelter at Krishna. Seeing their horrified appearance, Lord Krishna drank the infernal forest fire and thus saved the lives of innocent people who had rested their lives at him with faith.

SALVATION OF PRALAMBASUR

One day, Balarama and Krishna were playfully grazing their cattle along with other cowherds in the forests. When a demon Pralamb arrived there with an intention of kidnapping Krishna and Balarama. The demon had come in the guise of a cowherd, but the God easily recognised him. They accepted his proposal of friendship, but were thinking about the way for his salvation. God thereafter summoned all his friends and said: "Pals, today we shall divide ourselves in to two teams and play joyfully. Thus the teams were divided and each team chose Krishna and Balarama as its captain respectively. It was stipulated that the members of defeated team would carry the members of winner team on their back up to the place pointed by them. Thus the game began and soon both the teams reached a secluded place.

At one time, the team headed by Balarama won. So the members of Krishna's team were to carry them on their back. Demon Pralambasur offered Balarama a ride on his back. Balarama agreed to ride on the demon's back; but as soon as he rode on the demon's back, the demon galloped. But he could not go far for not being able to bear Balarama's weight. Them the demon regained his huge formidable size and tried to escape by flying. First Balarama felt terrorised but soon he realised his real powers and hit on the demon's head with a powerful fist. The blow shattered demon's head and he fell on earth dead like a huge mountain.

Parashar says: "Most of the time of Lord Krishna's boyhood passed in Vrindavana. There He grazed cattle and played flute. His flute had a divine, enchanting sound. The Gopis used to gather around Him drawn by the enchanting tunes."

They also heard the enchanting Venugeet that fills one hearts with the memory of Bhagvat. One of the girls said to her friend: "O dear friend, having the privilege of seeing Lords beauty and receiving His kindness is the real salvation. Another girl said: "O friend, what penance this flute had observed that it has got a closer contact with lips of Nandnandan (an epithet for Krishna). Even the siblings of this flute, trees and other vegetation's are pleased with its fortune and are hence showering their leaves and flowers on him." One more said: "O friend, look, even Bhagvati Lakshmi has left her luxurious abode in Vaikunth and arrived in Vrindavana to have a look of lord Devakinandan." A Gopi expressed her jealousy: "Even this doe is better than us, O friends, look how engrossed is she looking at God that her eyes are not blinking."

Hearing the sweet enchanting tunes of flute even the heavenly elves gather in the sky over Vrindavana. They also see the beauty of lord Krishna and showered the flowers of their braids on him. Even the cows forgot grazing when then heard the enchanting music of flute. The calves too forgot drinking milk and began to look at lord Krishna with joy. This is the real devotion for lord Krishna. You have to forget yourself in order to find him. Condition of girls of Vrindavana was exactly the same. After having the sight of lord Krishna they remembered nothing; not even the way back to home. They stood in the forests in a trance, completely tired, unaware of their self.

A girl said pointing to the fauna: "Look O friends, look at these birds. Do you know that these birds were the saints and sages in their previous births. In this birth also they are sitting in a state of trance. Look they have forgotten their knowledge hearing the sweet enchanting music of the flute. And look at Yamuna. She is also unable to contain her exhilaration. She is eagerly splashing her waves to wash Lord's feet. Yet another girl said: "Look friends the clouds cannot see their lord scorching in the sun. So they have covered the sun and shaded Lord Krishna. Now they are drizzling as if showering petals." A girl said: "Friends, look, these Bheelanis are better than us. They have such a strong urge of Krishna's sight that when Govind returns home, they smear their body with dusts of his feet. Blessed is this mountain which has dedicated its entire self in the feet of Brajnandan and feels overjoyed. It is his supreme devotee. Kanhaiya has infused even non-living things with life by his sweet tunes of flute.

STEALING OF CLOTHES

The unmarried girls of Vrindavana felt as if their lives were dedicated to Lord Krishna. Each of them wished heartily to have lord Krishna as her husband. So in order to get their desire fulfilled, all of the spinster girls of Vraj began to take bath in Yamuna early in morning of Hemant season and worshipped goddess Katyayani. When Madan Mohan learned that the unmarried girls wished to marry him. He went to see them at dawn. The girls were bathing naked in the river; their clothes were kept on the bank. Lord Krishna stealthy took those clothes and climbed on a Kadamba tree. Lord had not stolen their clothes with malicious intentions. He had stolen them to remove their flaws and make them realise their real appearance that they were not mere girls, but pure souls. Without realisation of the real self, one can not experience the God.

The girls were, in fact, the hymns of Vedas, Sadhana, Siddhis, Sages and Brahmvidyas (Vedas) themselves that took the guise of girls to enjoy the vicinity of God. God removed their clothes that symbolised lust. Because of the lords grace they all were able to enjoy God's company.

Parashar says: "O Maitreya, Thus Lord Krishna removed the shyness of the girls of Vraj through His sweet talks. He derided at them, made them dance like puppets and even stole their clothes when they were bathing naked, but they did not deter his actions. Instead they felt overjoyed by the close presence of their beloved Kanha."

LIFTING OF GOVARDHAN

Parashar says: One day, Balarama and Krishna saw that many delicious kind of sweetmeats were being cooked at home. With curiosity and politeness, they asked Nand and other elders: "Father, which festival are you preparing for? Which god will be worshipped? What purpose will such worship serve? Nand Baba explained: "Sons Devraj Indra is the god of clouds. It is because of Indra's grace that we get rain. So these materials are being prepared to worship Indra.

Krishna said: Father every creature in the world enjoys comforts or suffers as per his fate. None of the gods can change the results. Action is primary in the world. One gets the results as per his actions. Even Indra is God as a result of his action. Anyone, who performs one hundred Ashvamegh Yagyas, becomes Indra. But even after performing crores of Ashvamegh Yagyas one can not stay in Vraj. It is the duty of Indra to cause rain. So it will rain even if you don't worship Indra. But to feed the poors and satisfy them with clothes and other gifts is real worship. By their blessing, we shall be happier. I desire that with all these materials we should worship Giriraj Govardhan and distribute the Prasad among the poors. With which their souls will be sated and will have the grace of God.

Thus Lord Krishna told his father that all the people should worship unitedly and unitedly they should receive Prasad. If you are ready to do as per my desire, its all right, otherwise I will not worship your haughty god, nor receive his Prasad.

WORSHIP OF GOVARDHAN AND INDIGNATION OF INDRA

Thus convinced by Kanhaiya's wise reasoning, all the Gopas agreed to him. Nand Baba said, "O Krishna, we are making all these preparation for you only and we will do as you say. We will worship Govardhan. For us Govardhan is also like a god. It gives us grass, water, and fuel etc., which are necessary for our lives. Thus with lord's consent, they dropped their plan to worship Indra and resolved to worship Govardhan faithfully.

On the Purnima (full moon) day in the month of Kartik (November) all the Gopas (people of Vraj region) gathered near mount Govardhan. During the night all of them circumambulated the mountain. Lord invoked the Ganges by his wish and bathed Govardhan with her water. Then they put vermilion on it, offered basil-leaves, flowers etc and worshipped it. Brahmins recited hymns in its praise. To make the people believe in their rituals, Lord Krishna himself appeared on the mountain in huge form and exclaimed: "I am Giriraj (the king of the mountain) and began to eat the offerings. But as a child, He was still among the villagers who faithfully bowed before the mountain. Among them, the child Krishna said: "look, what a surprise Giriraj has appeared himself and bestowed his grace on us. He has accepted our worship." There after all the Gopas distributed Prasad among themselves and felt supremely satisfied.

When Indra learned that the Gopas had stopped worshipping him, he grew outrageous. In anger, he ordered the clouds to rain torrentially over Vraj and cause heavy flood in Vraj region. In no time dense clouds gathered over Vraj. Soon there was lightning, thunder, darkness and storm all around. Then it began to rain torrentially. All the people took refuge at Lord Krishna and prayed him to save them from the anger of Indra. Lord Krishna said: "Those who regard me as their, are mine and I am theirs, So there is no need to worry for you."

Saying this, Lord lifted Giriraj on his little finger and called all the people of Vraj along with their cattle under the lee of Govardhan. Then he ordered his wheel Sudarshan to absorb the water of the clouds so that not even a single drop could fall on earth. Thus for seven days continuously Lord balanced Govardhan on the little finger. Thus Lord Krishna also came to be known as Giridhari. People who had gathered around him, just kept on seeing Lords moon-like face and hence did not feel thirsty or hungry. In fact the comforts those people got during those seven days are beyond verbal description. Lord held Govardhan on one hand, and conch in the other, while with the remaining two hands He began to play this flute. Hearing the tunes of his flute, all the people of Vraj began to dance with joy. After the rains stopped, all of them returned to their homes.

When Indra learned about the happenings in Vraj, he soon realised his mistake. Indra himself reached Vraj and begged lord for His pardon. Then he gave lord a ceremonial bath with the milk of Surabhi. For protecting the cows, the Lord also got one more name "Govind".

RASS LEELA

Parashar related to Maitreya the tale of Kamadev's humiliation. The purpose of describing this tale is just that common people should reflect on the selfless love of Gopis for Lord Krishna and experience the love of God for them as well.

After conquering Brahma and other gods, ego of Kamadev had surged to great heights. He, therefore, requested God to quench his thirst for war. God invited Kamadev to visit Vrindavana on the night of Sharad Purnima (Full moon night) in the season that precedes winter, and told him that on that divine night He would enjoy the company of crores of Gopis. "If I have slightest passion for any of them, you will win, otherwise you will lose."

That night Lord Krishna added more divinity, more brilliance to it with a resolution of Ras with the help of Yogmaya (personified illusion). It was a perfect night for the purpose - flowers bloomed in Vrindavana, full moon shone, and gentle, cool breeze blew from the banks of river Yamuna. Amidst this stimulating ambience Lord Krishna began to play an enchanting tune on his flute. The tune attracted Gopis, their passion surged to its zenith and under the influence of love for lord Krishna and as if in trance, all of them ran to meet their beloved Kanhaiya leaving all their fear, bondage, patience and shyness behind. Some of them were intercepted by their husbands and dragged back to home. But only their physical bodies stayed put, their souls reached Vrindavana.

In Vrindavana on the bank of Yamuna, Gopis saw Vrindavana Vihari (epithet for Krishna) near their familiar Cadamba tree. Yogmaya adorned all the Gopis from tip to toe. In fact those Gopis were not ordinary women.

Maitreya asks: "Gopis had not regarded Krishna as Parabrahma. What was the basis for their passion then?"

Parashar says: When a wretched person like Shishupal, who always abused lord Krishna could find supreme position, there should be no doubt for Gopis who had such a profound passion for Lord." So Gopis arrived and gathered around Lord Krishna.

To test their devotion and to enhance the honor of Kamadev, Krishna said to them: "O Gopis, the pure ones, it is not fit for you to stay here at this hour of night. Go and serve your husbands. Your duties must be first to your husband's children and cows. They will be waiting for you eagerly. Go and console them. You can gain me by hearing, reciting, seeing etc. You need not sit here. Go to your homes."

Gopis, however said: "Govind, we have come to you leaving all the mundane lusts behind. Now going back is like ruining our lives. It is the greatest misfortune if someone returns to mundane affairs even after being at your feet." These words that reflected divine feelings of Gopis pleased Lord. He began to enjoy their company. But a feeling of ego began to creep in the minds of Gopis because of lord's closeness. They began to assume themselves as highly fortunate. To remove their ego, Lord disappeared right among them.

PITIABLE CONDITION OF GOPIS IN KRISHNA'S ABSENCE

After the disappearance of Krishna, Gopis were perplexed. Their hearts burned with desire. They had dedicated their entire selves in the feet of Lord. They were entirely merged in the love of Krishna. Thus driven by passion, Gopis began to search Lord Krishna. They asked trees, creepers and vegetation for the whereabouts of their beloved. They then spotted His footprints at one place. Footprints of Radha were also there. 'Indeed He would have carried her, that great fortunate one, on His shoulders.' They thought. Lord had indeed, after disappearing from amidst Gopis, taken Radha to an isolated place. She had then began to think herself superior to other Gopis. So at one place, she said: "O Lord, I can't walk now. My tender feet are tired. Kindly carry me on your shoulders to wherever you wish." At her request, Lord Krishna agreed to carry her on his shoulder. But as soon as she proceeded to ride, Lord disappeared from there also. Now, Radha began to cry and wail and fainted. At the same time, other Gopis also reached there and found Radha lying unconscious on the ground. All of them including Radha then returned to the bank of Yamuna and began to wait for Krishna's appearance.

RE-APPEARANCE OF LORD KRISHNA AMONG GOPIS

When the beloved Gopis burst into tears, Krishna's patience gave away. His heart melted at their condition and He appeared amidst them. A sweet smile played on his beautiful face. He wore a garland of fresh Vaijayanti flowers and yellow clothes. His beauty could have moved even Kamadev. Seeing their beloved Kanha once again amidst them, Gopis got a new lease of life. All of them began to embrace Lord Krishna and thus quench the fire of separation that was burning their bodies.

Thereafter, along with the beauties of Vraj, Lord Krishna came to the bank of Yamuna. Gopis put their queries before him for solution. Lord Krishna said: "O beloved Gopis, I do not reciprocate to the desire of my beloved ones for physical love. Because of it their conscience remains always engrossed in me. Hence, I take to hiding even after meeting so that you could feel complete imbibement in me.

MAHARAS

From the words of Lord Krishna, Gopis forgot the pains of separation. From the closeness of their beloved, their lives were successful now. With those Gopis, Lord Krishna started Maharas on the pious banks of river Yamuna. All the gods gathered in sky to witness that divine festival. Gopis were even more fortunate than Lakshmi. But even amidst crores of Gopis, who were eager to devote their everything to Him, Lord Krishna completely refrained from desires, feelings and even actions. Thus Lord Krishna   defeated even Kamadev and removed his ego.

SALVATION OF SUDARSHAN AND SHANKHCUR

Parashar says: Once on the occasion of Shivaratri, Nand Baba and all other Gopas drove their carts with families and reached Ambikavana on a pilgrimage tour. There they took bath in the river Saraswati and with devotion worshiped lord Shiva and Parvati. They also observed day long fast and decided to pass their night on the bank of Saraswati. But a huge python inhabited that place. During the night the python emerged and caught hold of Nand's leg. Nandbaba cried loudly. All the Gopas gathered around him. He cried again: "Kanhaiya, this snake is all set to strangulate me. Save me."

Lord Krishna touched the python with his feet and instantaneously the python vanished. In its place appeared a divine-looking human being. He said: "O Lord, I was a Vidyadhar named Sudarshan. I was so much obsessed with my beauty, youth, luxury and comforts that I used to insult others. One day I had derided at the ugly appearance of the sage Angira. So indignantly he cursed me to become a python. But, pleased by my realisation of mistake, he had told that when God himself would touch me, I would regain my original appearance." Thereafter, Sudarshan went round the God, worshiped Him and with his permission, departed to his abode.

On another occasion, Lord Krishna arrived in Vrindavana during Vasant Ritu (spring Season). There He took part in Vasantik Ras (Ras of spring season) with the Gopis. During Ras itself, a demon Shankhchur tried to escape away kidnapping some of the Gopis. A stampede resulted among Gopis. Hearing their noise, Lord Krishna ran after the demon, carrying a huge Sal (Shorea) tree in his hands. In no time He overtook the demon and killed him by just one blow. He picked up the gem from demon's head and handed it to Balarama.

SALVATION OF ARISHTASUR

Once, Kansa sent a demon Arishtasur to Vrindavana. The demon arrived there in a bull's guise. That huge bull came to Vrindavana and began to terrorise the people with his loud sound. Seeing the bull, Balarama said to Krishna: "Kanhaiya, I have never seen such a huge bull before." All the people began to cry for help. Lord Krishna consoled them and challenged the bull demon: "O fool, why are you terrorising these cows and cowherds? I am going to shatter your ego." The challenge from Krishna pinched the demon. Tapping his hooves angrily, the demon attacked God. He wished to gore Him, but Krishna held his horns and pushed him back. Then kicking the demon Krishna killed him in no time.

KANSA SENDS AKRURA

After the killing of Arishtasur, Devarshi Narada visited Kansa and asked: "O Kansa, the girl who had slipped form your hand was in fact the daughter of Yashoda. Krishna and Balarama, who are staying in Vrindavana, are infact the sons of Devaki and Rohini respectively. Because of your fear, Vasudev has kept them under the supervision of his friend Nand. Those two boys have killed the demons sent by you." Hearing these words, Kansa shook with anger and put Vasudev and Devaki in prison again. Thereafter he called his minister Akrura and asked him to set out at once for Gokul. He said to Akrura: "Akruraji, you are an old friend and well-wisher of mine, Go to Gokul and bring the sons of Vasudev, who are staying at Nand's home. Invite them to visit Mathura, to witness the festivities of Dhanush-Yagya." Akrura understood Kansa's intentions, but feared that if he refused, that demon would kill him. So he decided to visit Gokul, and also have the opportunity of seeing God. He was feeling overwhelmed by the mere thought of it. Next day, he set out on a grand chariot to meet his supreme Lord in Gokul.

Meditating in the feet of Lord, Akrura was heading towards Vrindavana. He was feeling himself as the most fortunate one for he was sure to have a sight of Lord. Thus obsessed with many kinds of devotional feelings, Akrura alighted from the chariot at the border of Vrindavana and started walking. He found it unjust to ride a chariot on the land of Vrindavana where Lord Krishna treaded. By the time, he reached Vrindavana, Lord Krishna and Balarama had returned home after grazing their cattle. Seeing them, Akrura fell at their feet. Both the brothers raised Akrura and addressed him as "Chacha" (uncle), and escorted him into the house.

Akrura was given a warm welcome and treatment there. After the dinner, they assembled in Nand's drawing room. Nand inquired about the reason of his sudden arrival. Akrura said: "Kansa is organising a wrestling competition in Mathura. He has invited all the big and small kings to the competitions. He has invited you with Krishna and Balarama as well. Beautiful Mathura is worth seeing. Gullible Nand felt pleased by Akrura's talking and said: "King Kansa has shown a great honor to me. He has sent invitation only to other kings, but has sent his minister to call me and a golden chariot for my kids." So it was announced in Gokul that all the people would go to Mathura the next day and witness the festivities there.

DEPARTURE OF KRISHNA AND BALARAMA FOR MATHURA

When the Gopis heard about Krishna leaving Gokul to visit Mathura, they began to wail and cry. They were getting so much restless by the news that, they felt, their lives would end before the sunrise. They started imprecating fate that it had no kindness. First it provided them with a closer contact with their beloved Kanha, now it was causing a long separation from him. Some of Gopis even begged for death, they felt it better than living without Kanha. All the Gopis kept on crying and wailing nightlong. Mother Yashoda awoke early in the morning next day. She churned out butter and adding Misri (sugar candies), she took it to Krishna to feed him. But there she found that both Krishna and Balarama were getting ready to set out for Mathura. They held mother's feet and said: "Pardon us, O mother, we are going to Mathura." These words disturbed Yashoda. She ran and fell at Akrura's feet and said: "I am your slave.

O Akrura, please do not take my beloved sons to Mathura. They are inseparable from my heart. Why Kansa has summoned them to Mathura?

O Akrura, go and tell him to take everything from us, but spare our sons. We are also ready to live in jail, but can't lose our beloved sons." Akrura consoled Yashoda. "Bhabhi (sister-in-law), don't worry. These two brothers are going to Mathura to witness the festivities there and will return soon to comfort your heart." Yashoda said: "Akruraji, Mathura is a town of gold and both of my sons are too young yet to be needed there for any reason."

Touching the feet of Nand and Yashoda, both the brothers said: "Father, mother, we will definitely return. Presently we wish to see the grandeur of Mathura." Meanwhile all the Gopis and Gopas had gathered there. Crying and wailing, the Gopis said: "You are very Cruel, O Akrura, who named you as Akrura. You have come here to lacerate our hearts." Second Gopi said: "No friend, it is not a fault of Akrura. Our complaints are with Shyamsundar. We left everything, our husbands, children, our homes and dedicated our entire selves in your service. And now you are deserting us so ruthlessly. We have no support for our life except you, O Madhusadan." Saying this, all the Gopis burst into tears again.

All the Gopas, including Sridama surrounded the chariot and said: "O Krishna we had not even dreamt that you would desert us so ruthlessly. O Kanhaiya we have seen with our eyes that even Indra, Varuna, Sanakadi and Brahma bow before you. But we have never regarded you as God. We regarded you as our friend. Are you angry with us? O my childhood friend Kanhaiya, we request you, we will never abuse you in future. If you were intending to go, why did you, then save us from the infernal forest fire. Why did you save from the deluging rains? We cannot live without you. Tell us O benevolent friend, when will you return."

Lord Krishna consoled them all and took many of them with Him. The chariot began to move. As long as the flag of the chariot remained visible, people kept on crying and wailing. Even the eyes of Akrura filled with tears. Lord asked him: "Kaka, why are you weeping?" Akrura replied: "O Lord, Kansa is the great sinner. I feel he will try to torment you by all means. So, my heart says, that I should take you back to Vrindavana, because if Kansa did any harm to you, their spirits will curse me for ever."

AKRURA HAS A SIGHT OF LORD IN FOUR-ARMED FORM

Hearing Akrura's words, Lord understood that when he had arrived in Vraj, he was afflicted with a feeling of majesty. But now, it has been replaced by affection now. He therefore decided to remove his dilemma. Thus, Lord said to him: "Kaka, Mathura is still some distance away. So you take a bath in Yamuna. We brothers are waiting for you in the chariot."

As soon as Akrura took a dip in Yamuna, Lord showed him a sight of His abode Vaikunth and his Narayana's appearance in which, he was holding conch, wheel, mace and lotus in each of his four hands and was lying on the bed of Sheshnaga. With folded hands, Akrura prayed to lord: "O lord, you are the reason for the existence of Brahma and the Universe. O Lord, I pray at your feet again and again. Now I recognise you. You are the one who took the incarnations of Matsya, Kachchap, Varaha, Narasinha, Vamana, Rama etc. Thus after bath and worship, Akrura returned to the chariot. Lord Krishna understood that now a devotional feeling had arisen in the mind of Akrura for Narayana. Lord asked: "Your condition seems miserable. Did you see anything extraordinary under water?" Akrura said: "O Lord, now bestow your grace on me. Kindly come to my home and accept my hospitality."

ARRIVAL IN MATHURA AND GRACE ON KUBJA

After the departure of Akrura, Nandbaba too set out for Mathura along with the Gopas. On the way itself, they caught up with Krishna and Balarama. All of them then reached Mathura together. There they stayed in a garden. After sometime, with Nand's permission, both the brothers set out to see the city of Mathura. Mathura was indeed a beautiful town. All the residents of Mathura thronged on roads, roofs and attices to have a sight of Krishna and Balarama.

On the way, they met a pretty but hunched woman. She introduced herself as Kubja, the maid of Kansa. Her duty was to smear the members of the royal family with sandalwood paste. God asked her if she would smear him with sandal paste. Kubja said: "O Manmohan, I see no one more fitting than you for the sandal paste." Thus she smeared Lord Krishna’s forehead with saffron. On Dau's forehead she smeared musk containing sandal paste, other Gopas smeared all the remaining sandal paste on their heads. Lord Krishna then, put His feet on Kubja's and holding her chin gave her head a slight jerk. And in no time, Kubja's hunch was gone and she turned into a pretty woman. She begged lord for His love. The Lord promised her a meeting in future, and proceeded ahead.

BREAKING OF THE BOW AND KILLING ELEPHANT

After saving Kubja, Lord Krishna and other Gopas moved ahead. At a place they saw a huge bow kept on a high stage. Many strong men were guarding it. Lord Krishna entered the canopy and easily lifted the bow and broke it into pieces. There was a big applause from all around. Dau said: "Krishna, now the crowd will increase here, so let us escape in time. Thus, both the brothers and their friends beat a retreat to their camp. There they rested for night. There in Mathura, breaking of the bow had frightened Kansa. He could not sleep during the night. Even in his dreams, he saw nothing, but Krishna everywhere around him.

Early in the morning, Kansa summoned his minister and ordered him to make Kuvalayapeed, the elephant to stand in the center of the main gate. He thought that the elephant would kill both the boys if they dared to enter the fort through main gate. Back there in the garden, Krishna and Balarama set out in wrestlers guise for the fort. At the gate, seein an elephant blocking the passage, they asked mahout loudly: "O Mahout, why have you made the elephant stand in the center of the gate. Move it either ahead or back." But instead of moving the elephant out of the passage, the mahout steered it right on them. But before elephant could attack them, Balarama caught its trunk, while Krishna caught its tail. Both the brothers then dragged the elephant out of the gate and lofted it in the air. The elephant fell on the ground with a loud thud and died on the spot.

SALVATION OF WRESTLERS

Kansa felt very nervous by the news of elephant's killing. Before he could take stock of the situation, Lord Krishna and Balarama arrived in the amphi-theatre. The spectators present in the amphitheatre saw Lord as per their feelings. The menfolk saw Lord Krishna as a Jewel among the men. Womenfolk saw him as an incarnation of Kamadev. Cowherds saw their natural friend in Lord, while to Kansa He appeared as his death. But to his mother and father, Devaki and Vasudev and to Nand, Krishna and Balarama appeared as small kids. Sages and ascetics saw nothing but metaphysical coming in boys' guise. Learned ones sighted His cosmic form while to Yadavas He appeared as their tutelary God. As soon as Lord Krishna and Balarama arrived in the ring, the wrestlers, who were already present there, stood up like springs. A wrestler Chanur dragged Krishna and one named Mushtik dragged Balarama into the ring. They said to them: "Both of you and we are the subjects of the great king Kansa. It is our duty to please our king with our art and skill. More over we will receive many rewards also."

Krishna said: "O wrestlers, you please fight among yourselves. We are boys yet, so we shall witness your fight from a distance." Chanur said: "No you are neither boy nor teenagers. You are stronger than the strongest. You have just killed an elephant which was stronger than thousand elephants." Thus, both the brothers were compelled to wrestle with the royal wrestlers. Balarama beat Mushtik on the ground so hard that he died at once on the spot. Krishna similarly killed second wrestler Chanur. All the remaining wrestlers met similar fate one by one. The massive crowd present there applauded them joyfully.

SALVATION OF KANSA

Seeing the shameful defeat of his wrestlers, Kansa infuriated with anger and proclaimed: "Tie all the opponents; tie Ugrasen, Devaki, Vasudev and Nand in ropes and bring them before me." Lord Krishna could not tolerate this and in a single jump, He reached on the stage where Kansa was present. Lord Krishna caught him by hair and said: "O Kansa, once you have caught a helpless woman by hair, I have avenged that insult. Now you will receive the fruits for your atrocities." Saying this, Lord began to twirl Kansa catching him by hair, and threw him down from the stage. Then Lord jumped once again and landed on the chest of Kansa. Kansa died instantaneously. Thus, Kansa who was an incarnation of the demon Kalnemi received salvation. Lord Krishna then, released his parents from the prison and crowned his maternal grand father Ugrasen as the king of Mathura.

YAGYOPAVIT OF KRISHNA AND BALARAMA

After the successful completion of all the royal ceremonies, the consecration of Krishna and Balarama was carried out. Thereafter, they came to stay at the hermitage of sage Sandipani for formal education. Extraordinarily brilliant Krishna successfully learned all the knowledge in short period of time. Then, as GuruDakshaina (paying respect to the teacher) Krishna brought back his dead sons from the abode of Yamaraj. Taking convocation bath, thereafter, Lord Krishna returned to Mathura. There, though living among royal luxuries and grandeur Lord Krishna remained indifferent. Memory of his sentimental, beloved devotees friend and other people of Vraj kept on pricking him.

SENDING UDDHAVA AS MESSENGER

Savant Uddhava, the son of Yadava's minister Brihaspati was an intimate friend of Lord Krishna. Only he had the permission to enter Lord's sanctum. Seeing his friend Krishna in remorse, Uddhava asked: "Mathuranath, you seem to be upset. What is troubling you?" Lord Krishna replied: "Uddhava, I feel perplexed. I remember my days in Vrindavana. Please go to Vrindavana and get the news regarding Gopis there. Also give them my message." Thus Lord Krishna donned Uddhava in his attire and sent him to Vraj in his chariot.

There he stayed at Nand's home. At night, Uddhava enquired about Nand and Yashoda's well being and about Vraj in general. That whole might passed in chatting.

BHRAMAR GEET

Next day, when the Gopis got the news of Uddhava's arrival, they thronged in and around Nand's residence. They recognised the chariot parked in front of the gate. It was the same chariot on which Krishna and Balarama had departed for Mathura. First they thought that their beloved Krishna had returned.

But someone informed that it was Uddhava, Krishna's Savant friend, who had come to preach them about metaphysical knowledge. Soon afterwards, Uddhava came out and spoke out loud: "O Gopis, listen to the preaching of Uddhava." But instead of listening to him, Gopis covered their ears. Feeling insulted, Uddhava expressed his dissatisfaction over their behaviour. Gopis said to him: "O gentleman, firstly we are not familiar with you, secondly we have no capacity to hear your preaching. Yes if you wish to give us a message of our most beloved; thousand of ears are eager to hear that." Uddhava then introduced himself as the intimate friend of Lord Krishna.

Knowing his identity Gopis welcome and treated Uddhava warmly. Uddhava then began to say again: "O Gopis, the person, whom you are declaring as your beloved friend, in fact recognises no mother, no father and no other relation. He has no form, no colour and no body. He is above all, non-existing all pervasive and the giver of joy. He is never separate from his devotee and beloved ones. All of you, too, feel the presence of that Supreme Being and be happy forever." Gopis said: "Uddhava, as long as Ghanashyam stayed with us, we saw endless virtues in him. But only within six months of his stay in Mathura, you wiped out all of his virtues and turned him virtueless.

Tell us with which mouth did he eat butter, with which hand did he break our pitchers, with which feet did he pasture cows in the forests and with which feet did he dance on the hood of Kaliya. Was he another Krishna?"

Harsh reaction of the Gopis startled Uddhava. He began to think where he had been caught. His knowledge of Vedanta was proving ineffective on the Gopis who were sunk in so much love. On the other hand, Gopis too were feeling embarrassed for treating the guest bitterly. But they were also not prepared to listen to such preaching that condemned love. Moreover, they had let out their long accumulating feeling.

Meanwhile a bumblebee perched at Radha's feet mistaking them for lotus. Pointing to it, all the Gopis said: "Beware O bumblebee, beware if you dare to touch the feet of our Radha. It appears that you are a disciple of Krishna. There is now no secret regarding the virtues and actions of your friend. But it is good that he and you tied in friendship. You are black and your friend has a black heart. Virtues of both of you are same.

First He imbibed us in His love; then left us ruthlessly forever. He is not sorry for us. But why does Lakshmi serve in those feet? She must be careful, lest she should be deceived like us. O bumblebee you also appear to be a polymath who has come here to preach us. But you won't get an audience in Braj. You should better go to Mathura.

There is one Kubja go and relate your tale to her. You will receive ample donations from her. What will you get from the Gopis here? They have already lost their mental balance, because of separation from the beloved Krishna. If you have come to ask, why we loved Krishna. O bumblebee, we have no knowledge. But we know that our love for Krishna was not a mistake. Even the goddess Lakshmi does not leave His feet for a moment. Why should we leave his feet then? But O bumblebee, have you really come to convince us. When He could not come out of shame, He sent you to console us - the deaf and dumb Gopis. But be careful if you put your head at the feet of Radha.

Get away, we have already seen enough of flattery and flirtation of your friend. Deserting our affection for ephemeral things, we loved that eternal one. But He too abandoned us. Can you guess about our condition? Tell us, O Uddhava, shall we ever get the sight of Sri Krishna again?

Hearing the tragic tale of the Gopis, Uddhava too felt very sorry for them. He felt as if Mathuranath, lord Krishna was indeed neglecting those Gopis. Uddhava stayed in Vrindavana for six months. There he saw every place, every spot where lord Krishna had played once. When he was returning to Mathura, mother Yashoda presented him with butter, Radha gave him the flute. Thus immersed in the love and overwhelmed by its feelings, Uddhava reached Mathura. He said to Krishna: "Lord, the real appearance of love, that I saw in Vrindavana is the only truth." Sri Krishna said: "Uddhava, You are weeping. Just look at me." Uddhava looked at him with wide, opened eyes. In every single hair of Lord, there existed Gopis. Uddhava was indeed a Savant. But Lord had sent him to Braj only to be taught a lesson of love.

After the death of Kansa his widowed queens Asti and Prapti returned to their father Jarasandh's home and informed him that Krishna and Balarama had killed their husband Kansa. Infuriated by the news, Jarasandh at once launched a massive attack on Mathura. The people of Mathura were frightened by the strength of Jarasandh's army. Lord Krishna too fell in deep thought. Just then, divine weapons and chariots appeared from the heaven. Both the brothers took the weapons and boarded their chariots. Then they fought a fierce battle and slayed all the army of Jarasandh.

Balarama furiously caught Jarasandh and was about to kill him. But Lord Krishna stopped him. They then released Jarasandh and let him go unhurt. Jarasandh felt ashamed that Krishna released him because of his helpless condition.

Parashar says: Despite his shameful defeat, Jarasandh attacked Mathura seventeen times with huge armies. But every time, the Lord defeated him and released him in kindness. And every time Jarasandh felt more humiliated."

At last, instead of attacking Mathura himself, Jarasandh sent Kalyavan to defeat Sri Krishna. Kalyavan launched an attack on Mathura with one crore strong Malechchh army. This time Lord Krishna decided to vacate Mathura instead of countering the attack. He got Dwarkapuri constructed by Vishwakarma and settled all the people of Mathura there. Then, unarmed, Lord Krishna walked past Kalyavan. Pointed by Narada, Kalyavan at once recognised Krishna and gave Him a chase. He also challenged Him, but the Lord did not listen to his challenges and kept moving with face turned away. Kalyavan chased Him for long, but could not catch up.

Ultimately Lord Krishna entered a cave. Kalyavan too followed Him into the cave. In the cave Lord Krishna saw that someone was sleeping there. So He covered the man with his yellow length of cloth and himself hid inside the cave. Kalyavan too arrived there and saw the sleeping man. He mistook him for Krishna and said: "Krishna, you might have thought that braves do not attack on sleeping people. So I will first wake you up and then kill you." Saying thus Kalyavan kicked the sleeping man hard. However, as soon as the man awakened and glanced at Kalyavan, Kalyavan got incinerated at once.

TALE OF MUCHKUND

Maitreya asked: "Gurudev, who was that sleeping man?"

Parashar says: "O king, that sleeping man was Muchkund, the son of the king Mandhata. The gods had sought his assistance in their war against the demon during the Satya Yuga. With Muchkund's help, the gods had defeated the demons and thus pleased had asked him to seek a boon. Muchkund then had sought a boon of seeing God in tangible form. The gods had assured him that he would have a sight of God in Dwapar Yuga. Since Dwapar Yuga was still far away, so Muchkund had asked: "What should I do till then?" The gods asked him to sleep somewhere and blessed him with a boon that whoever waked him up would be incinerated at once, by his glance. Thus, in order to get Kalyavan incinerated and show Muchkund with his Divine form, Lord had gone to that spot where Muchkund was sleeping.

Muchkund got the sight of God in Chaturbhuj form; and sought a boon of continuous devotion for three births. Thus, Lord defeated Malechchh army and captured all their wealth. He also defeated Jarasandh and caused great joy for the people of Dwarka.

The king of Anart, Raivat got his daughter Revati married to Balarama with the blessing of Brahma.

MESSAGE OF RUKMANI FOR LORD KRISHNA

Parashar says: "Bhismak was the king of Vidarbh. He had five sons and a daughter Rukmani. Rukmi, the eldest son of Bhismak, had fixed his sister's engagement with Shishupal, the prince of Chaidi. Narada did not like this development. He went to Kundanpur, the capital of Vidarbh and said in the court of Bhismak: O King, I am coming from Dwarka." Bhismak said! "O great Sage, I have never heard about any city named Dwarka". Thus, in the court of Bhismak, Narada narrated about the life of Lord Krishna and the grandeur of Dwarka. Bhismak heard the tale with full attention. His daughter Rukmani too enjoyed the tale.

But Rukmi had a strong opposition against Lord Krishna. Ignoring the wish of his father, he was not ready to get his sister married to Lord Krishna. On the appointed day, Shishupal appeared there, in a procession, to get married with Rukmani.

But Rukmani was determined to marry Lord Krishna. She sent a love letter to Krishna through a loyal Brahmin and declared a fast unto death. Lord Krishna read her letter, which said: "O Trilokinath, since the moment, these ears have heard about your virtues, actions, character and plays, my soul experiences divine peace. O Achyut, my mind is dedicated in your feet. O great among the men, this Rukmani has dedicated herself in your feet. Now it is up to you to see that no jackal could take away the lion's share." The Brahmin, the carrier of the letter, returned to Kundanpur with an assurance from Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna too called the charioteer and set out at once for Kundanpur. There in Kundanpur, Rukmani after getting the assurance from the Brahmin was thus waiting for Lord' Krishna’s arrival.

Preparations for Rukmani's marriage with Shishupal were on with full swing in Kundanpur. All the houses, streets and lanes were cleaned and sprinkled with scented water. All the men and women folk donned new clothes and ornaments. King Bhismak worshipped his ancestors and gods and welcomed the Brahmins liberally. Extremely beautiful princess Rukmani was given ceremonial bath and donned with auspicious clothes and bracelets.

The king of Chedi, Damaghosh got the auspicious rites for the marriage of his son Shishupal, performed by Brahmins. All the Baratis (people in marriage procession) were given grand reception. Many great kings like Shalv, Jarasandh, Dantvaktra, Vidurath and Paundrak were present in the marriage procession. They had come with their armies with an intention of fighting Krishna and Balarama. After Krishna's departure, Balarama too set out for Kundanpur with chaturangini (with four wings) army, for he had known about their opponents' preparedness.

Rukmani was eagerly awaiting Lord Krishna’s arrival. She had received the news that Dwarakanath (Krishna) had resolved to take her away. She was feeling overwhelmed in her heart. Seeing Lord Krishna arrived intently in the marriage ceremonies of his daughter, king Bhismak welcomed him. Seeing him, even the common people of Vidarbh prayed "May our princess Rukmani get Sri Krishna as her husband. At the same time, Rukmani emerged from her palace to go to the temple of Ambikadevi, soldiers were guarding her. In the temple, Rukmani prayed peacefully: "O Mother Ambika I greet you and Ganapati, who is sitting in your lap. I seek your blessing that may my wish be fulfilled and may I receive Sri Krishna as my husband."

On her way back, Rukmani was walking very slowly for she was awaiting Lord's arrival, which was due in any moment. Just then, Lord Krishna appeared before her. Before she could ride her chariot Lord lifted her from amidst the crowd. And in the presence of hundreds of kings, Krishna and Balarama eloped away with Rukmani.

KRISHNA DEFEATS RUKMI AND MARRIES RUKMANI

Hearing the news that Krishna has eloped with Rukmani, Rukmi and all other kings present there boiled with anger. Accompanied by their huge armies, they decided to give them a chase. Thus chased my them, Yadnvanishis stopped and encountered the kings boldly. With a true ambition to win, brave Yadav soldiers defeated the enemies. All the kings like Jarasandh fled for their lives. Rukmi had resolved that without getting Rukmani released from Krishna's captivity, he would not show his face in Kundanpur. He chased Lord Krishna for long. But Dwarakanath defeated him and got his head shaved. Thus defeating all the kings, Lord Krishna brought Rukmani to Dwarka. There they got married formally. All the people of Dwarka celebrated festivities for many days. People presented them with lot of precious gifts. All the people were in great joy to see Lakshmi as Rukmani with her husband Lord Krishna.

BIRTH OF PRADYUMN, KILLING OF SHABARASUR

Kamadev was a part of lord himself. After getting incinerated by Rudra, Kamadev took refuge in the supreme lord to get an incarnation once more. Thus, Kamadev was born as Rukmani's first son Pradyumn. But just after his birth, Pradyumn was kidnapped by a demon Shambarasur. The demon dropped the baby into the sea, where a huge fish swallowed him in whole. Coincidentally the fish was caught by the fishers and presented to the kitchen of Shambarasur. When the cooks cut the fish open, an extremely beautiful baby emerged. Mayawati, the governess of the kitchen, felt overjoyed to see the baby. She began to rear the baby with love and affection. Once Narada arrived in the kitchen and said: "Mayawati, do you know who is in your lap? " "No, O Devarshi, I found him from the belly of a fish," said Mayawati. Devarshi Narada said: "He is your husband Kamadev and you are his wife Rati. In this birth, he has appeared as Pradyumn the son of Krishna. Hearing this, Mayawati saluted Narada with respect. Since then she regarded Pradyumn as her husband and served him accordingly. When Pradyumn matured. Mayawati reminded him about his real appearance. Pradyumn, thereafter, killed Shambarasur and got married with Mayawati. Then the couple arrived in Dwarka.

TALE OF SYAMANTAK THE GEM AND ITS THEFT

A person named Satrajit was a great devotee of Lord Suryanarayana. Pleased by his devotion, Suryadev presented him a gem called Syamantak. The gem had radiance equal to the Sun. Bearing that gem, Satrajit arrived in Lord's court. By the radiance of his gem, all the people and the courtiers mistook him for Suryadev and stood in his regard. But the Lord recognised him and asked his courtiers to be calm. Then to Satrajit, Lord Said: "Satrajit, your gem is really very beautiful. Nana (maternal grandfather) Ugrasen is the king of this region. If you present this gem to him, it will be very good. But Satrajit refused to present that gem. One day, later on, Satrajits brother Prasenjit went hunting, wearing the gem in his neck. In the forest a lion killed him and snatched the gem. The lion was in turn killed by the bear king Jambvant. Jambvant took the gem to his cave and gave it to his children to play with. When Prasenjit did not return from hunting, Satrajit felt sorry and accused Krishna that He had killed his brother for the gem.  When Lord Krishna heard that he was being blamed for the mishap, He himself went to the forests. There he found the dead body of Prasenjit, but there was no sign of gem around the cadaver. He found only footprints of a lion leaving from there. Following the footprints, He discovered the dead lion and the footprints of a great bear. Following the footprints, He reached in the cave where Jambvant's daughter Jambvati was playing with the gem.

As soon as Lord Krishna proceeded to take the gem, Jambvant arrived. A fierce duel resulted between them. They continued to fight for twenty-six days without truce. On the twenty-seventh day Jambvant requested Lord! "Please wait O Lord." Lord said: "Do you want to take rest?" "No", said Jambvant, "I have recognised you. You are none other than Lord Narayana Himself. Nobody else has the power to defeat me." Lord appeared before Jambvant as Sri Rama. Jambvant prayed and worshipped Him. He was feeling guilty that he dared to fight Lord. Lord said that He had arrived there for the gem only. Jambvant gave him the gem and also his daughter Jambvati. Lord Krishna returned the gem to Satrajit and married Jambvati formally.

KRISHNA’S OTHER MARRIAGES

1.) Lord Krishna summoned Satrajit to His court and in the presence of the king Ugrasen, related the sequence of incidents that took place in the jungle. Satrajit felt ashamed. With a feeling of repentance he took the gem. He was getting afraid also that he made enemity with lord Krishna without reason. Hence to expiate his crime, Satrajit thought of presenting the gem Syamantak and his daughter Satyabhama to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna accepted Satyabhama as his wife but returned the gem to Satrajit saying: "It is a gift of lord Suryadev. Keep it with you. You are required to deposit the gold that you get from it, in the royal treasure."

Akrura and Kritvarma were not pleased with the marriage of Satyabhama. So they got Satrajit killed by Shatadhanva. Shatadhanva killed Satrajit in his sleep and absconded with the gem. Lord Krishna was then away in Hastinapur. Satyabhama too reached there and informed Krishna about her father's assassination. With Balarama, Lord Krishna chased Shatadhanva. But even after killing him, they could not trace the gem. Shatadhanva had given the gem to Akrura to keep till his return. But after the death of Shatadhanva, frightened Akrura came to stay in Kashi. From the effect of the gem Akrura performed many grand Yagyas there. Lord Krishna summoned Akrura from Kashi. After welcoming and treating him in the court, Lord Krishna asked him about the gem. Akrura showed the gem in the court. But Lord returned the gem to Akrura.

2.) Once Lord Krishna visited Indraprasth to see Pandavas. There riding a chariot with Arjuna, He came to the forests. On the bank of river Yamuna a pretty woman was observing penance. By the instinct of God, Arjuna drew near her and asked for her identity. She said: "I am Kalindi, the daughter of Suryadev. I am penancing here in order to get married with Lord Krishna." Lord Krishna got Kalindi boarded on the chariot and got married to her formally.

3.) Mitrvinda was the sister of Vind Anuvind the king of Ujjain. She had a desire to get Lord Krishna as her husband. But her brother, Vind Anuvind was a follower of Duryodhan. So he stopped his sister Mitrvinda from getting married to Krishna. But Krishna eloped with Mitrvinda from the court and got married to her formally later on.

4.) Satya was the daughter of Nagnjit, the king of Kaushal. She was extremely beautiful lady. The king had resolved that he would marry his daughter only to him who would defeat his seven most formidable oxen. Many princes has tried their luck since then but failed. When Lord Krishna heard about that, He reached Kaushal with his army. The king of Kaushal welcomed and treated him well, and told him about his resolution. Lord Krishna then took seven guises and in no time defeated his seven formidable oxen. Gladly the king married his daughter Satya to Lord Krishna.

5.) Parashar says: "Parikshit, Lord Krishna’s  aunt (father's sister) Shrutkirti was married in the kingdom of Kaikauja. Bhadra was the daughter of Shrutkirti. Bhadra's brothers like Santardan etc. themselves had got their sister married to Lord Krishna.

6.) Lakshmana was the daughter of the king of Madra. She was very beautiful and meritorious. Lord Krishna abducted her all alone from the Swayamvara organised for her marriage. Later, Lord Krishna married to her formally.

SALVATION OF BHAUMASUR

Pragjyotishpur was the capital of the demon Bhaumasur. He was very strong and powerful. He had snatched the canopy of Varuna, earrings of Aditi the mother of the gods, and Maniparvat of the gods on Meru. Apart from these, he had also captured sixteen thousand and one hundred princesses as well.

Devraj Indra himself visited Dwarka and prayed Lord Krishna to get them rid of Bhaumasur's atrocities. With the dear wife Satyabhama and riding his vehicle Garuda. Lord Krishna arrived in the capital of Bhaumasur. But to enter Pragjyotishpur was an impossible task. But with the blows of his mace and arrows, Lord Krishna easily broke the hills, destroyed strategic positions and cut the snares with sword. By his wheel he destroyed the walls of fire, water and air. With the loud sound of conch, Lord Krishna rendered the machines, installed there, useless.

Ultimately, Krishna destroyed the rampart of the citadel. Disturbed by the noise, the five-headed demon Mur ran with a trident to kill Krishna. But with a single shot of his arrow, Lord Krishna broke his trident and cut his head with his wheel. Soldiers and commanders of Bhaumasur were also killed. Bhaumasur then came himself to fight. He had donned a shinning crown and was wearing big earrings. With his wheel, Lord Krishna cut the demon's head. As soon as He beheaded the demon, the gods showered flowers on Lord Krishna and worshipped Him. Even the mother earth came and put a garland of five colours around lord's neck. She also presented to him the earrings of Aditi, canopy of Varuna, and a great gem. At the request of earth, Lord Krishna assured Bhaumasur's son Bhagdatt freedom from his fears.

7.) After slaying Bhaumasur, Lord Krishna entered his palace. There He released the sixteen thousand one hundred captive princesses. The princesses were very much impressed by Lord Krishna. They had all accepted in their mind, Lord Krishna as their husband. Lord Krishna too bowed before their love and accepted them as his wives and arranged to send them to Dwarka.

PRADYUMN'S MARRIAGE WITH RUKMVATI

Rukmvati was the daughter of Rukmi, the brother of Rukmani. When a Swayamvara was organised for her, she saw Pradyumn. She was so impressed by him that she chose him as her husband. But it was not acceptable to other princes. They tried to stop their marriage. But defeating them all, Pradyumn abducted Rukmvati and married her formally. Then to please his sister Rukmani, Rukmi got his granddaughter Rochana married to Rukmani's grandsons Anirudh.

MARRIAGE OF USHA-ANIRUDH

The son of the demon king Bali, Banasur was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. Banasur ruled over the kingdom Shonitpur. By the grace of Lord Shiva, he had received thousand arms. Even all the gods including Indra used to serve him. Thus blinded by his physical strength, Banasur sought a boon from Lord to meet a match for his strength. Lord Shiva said: "O fool, your thirst for war shall be quenched when your flag is broken."

Banasur had a daughter named Usha. Once she had a dream in which Anirudh was making love with her. She was very much perplexed by the dream. After a few days with the help of her friend Chitralekha, Anirudh sneaked into her palace. He stayed there and enjoyed the company of Usha for long. But Anirudh's clandestine stay could not remain hidden from the eyes of Banasura. So he put Anirudh in prison. There in Dwarka, everyone was worried by Anirudh's long absence.

It was Narada, who ultimately revealed the fact that Anirudh was in the prison of Banasur. Hearing the news, Lord Krishna launched an attack on Banasur. His armies surrounded Shonitpur. During Ghurabandi the flag of Banasur's palace fell. Lord Shankar arrived to assist Banasur. Lord Krishna cut all the arms of Banasur. At the request of Shiva, he left only four of his arms intact. Banasur bowed his head before Lord Krishna and brought Anirudh and Usha respectfully before Him. With them Lord Krishna returned to Dwarka where formal marriage of Usha and Anirudh took place.

TALE OF THE KING NRIG

Once, Lord Krishna's sons visited the forests. There they saw a huge Chameleon fallen in a large, deep well. They tried to pull it out but in vain. The princes, therefore, returned to the palace and related this strange episode to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna too came to the well and with His left hand, easily pulled the Chameleon out.

As soon as the chameleon came out, it turned into a divine god and began to worship Krishna. He said: "O Lord Krishna, I am Nrig. The king Ikshvaku was my father. In my life, I had donated uncountable numbers of cows to the Brahmins. But once a cow, donated by me, returned to my cowshed. By mistake I made a resolution to donate it to another Brahmin. My action led to a dispute between the two Brahmins, and my wisdom failed to settle their dispute. Both the Brahmins went away unsatisfied, but I met this fate after death. Since then, I had been in this well in the form of a chameleon. Now, by the graceful touch of your hands, O Lord, I have received salvation." King Nrig then went around Lord Krishna and returned to his heavenly abode."

SALVATION OF PAUNDRAK

Once Balarama and Krishna had gone to Braj to see Nandbaba there. Meanwhile the king Paundrak of Karush sent an envoy to lord Krishna with a message that said: 'I am Lord Vasudev.' Pandrak's envoy arrived in the court and read out the message: "To bestow my grace on the people, I have taken an incarnation. You have falsely named yourself as Vasudev and bore my insignia. Take my refuge or face the battle." Hearing the message of Paundrak, Ugrasen and other courtiers began to laugh. Lord Krishna asked the envoy to inform Paundrak that He would launch His wheel on him and his army.

Receiving the message Paundrak launched an attack on Dwarka with two Akshauhini armies. The king of Kashi was a friend of Paundrak. He too came to his assistance with three Akshauhini armies. Paundrak had disguised as Vasudev and was bearing artificial conch, wheel, mace and lotus and. He had also adorned Swastika, Kaustubh etc. All the people began to laugh at Paundrak's clown like attire.

In no time, Lord Krishna stripped him of all his adornments. His wheel cut his head. Then with an arrow Lord Krishna cut the head of the king of Kashi. His head fell in front of his palace's gate. SuDakshain, the son of the Kashi king, organised a grand Yagya to avenge his father's killing. An ogress, Kritya emerged from the Yagya and began to burn Dwarka. All the people prayed Krishna to protect them. Lord Krishna assured them to be fearless and ordered His wheel Sudarshan to kill Kritya. Sudarshan extinguished the fire, killed Kritya and destroyed Kashi. Then it returned to Lord Krishna’s finger.

SALVATION OF DWIVID

There was once a monkey named Dwivid. He was the friend of Bhaumasur. When Dwivid heard about Bhaumasur's killing by Sri Krishna, he began to cause large-scale destruction in the kingdom. His disruptive activities in the country began to terrorise the subjects of Lord Krishna. Once hearing sweet music, the monkey was drawn towards the Raivtak Mountain. There he saw Balarama amidst beautiful young women. The monkey began to behave indecently. Angered by his indecency, Balarama hit him with his pestle, named Sunand, and killed the monkey.

MARRIAGE OF SAMB

Samb was the son of Lord Krishna and born to Jambvati. He had Kidnapped Lakshmana, the daughter of Duryodhan from her Swayamvara. Infuriated Kauravas chased them and, with difficulty, they caught Samb and tied him. When the Yaduvanshis got the news, they began preparations to launch an attack on Kauravas. Balarama pacified them and reached Hastinapur alone. There he received a warm welcome from the Kauravas. Balarama said to them: "It is an order of the king Ugrasen that you should see Samb off with his newly wedded wife." Hearing Balarama's words Kauravas got angry and began to deride Yaduvanshis. Infuriated by Kauravas derision, Balarama trained his pestle and plough. He intended to turn over the town of Hastinapur into the river Yamuna. When the city began to shake, Kauravas felt perplexed and begged Balarama for his pardon. Balarama assured them to be fearless and returned to Dwarka with Samb and his newly wedded wife Lakshmana.

KINGS IN CAPTIVITY SEEK KRISHNA’S HELP TO KILL JARASANDH

Once Lord Krishna was holding His court when an emissary arrived in the court. The kings who were held captive forcibly by Jarasandh had sent him. The emissary related the miseries of those kings to Lord Krishna. Through the emissary, the kings had requested: "O Lord of the world, Kindly get us free from our miseries. We are in your refuge. We desire your sight. Kindly bestow us with your grace." Lord Krishna sent the emissary off with assurance of timely action. Meanwhile, Devarshi Narada arrived in the court and informed the Lord of Yudhisthira's intention to organise a grand Rajsuy Yagya and his cordial invitation for the Lord to attend the ceremony. Lord asked his friend Uddhava for an advice as to where He ought to go first - to Indraprasth in Rajsuy Yagya or to liberate the king from the captivity of Jarasandh. Uddhava advised Lord to go to Indraprasth first. There He would be able to serve both the purposes.

Uddhava's advice was in the interest of all. Everyone supported it. Taking permission from His priest and teachers, Lord Krishna set out on a chariot with the whole family to reach Indraprasth. In Indraprasth, Pandavas accorded Lord Krishna with warm-hearted felicitations. By the dictate of Lord Krishna, Mayasur built a divine looking court for Yudhisthira. The courtroom was a marvellous piece of architecture. The shinning, smooth, floor of it appeared like water, while water bodies presented a look like marble floors.

During Yudhisthira's Rajsuy Yagya, all the Pandavas set out in all the directions to conquer the kings and expand the boundaries of their kingdom. Warriors like Bhima, Arjuna defeated great kings all around and extended the boundaries of Yudhisthira's empire. But to defeat Jarasandh, - Bhima, Arjuna and Lord Krishna went in the guise Brahmins. They reached Jarasandh capital Girivraj and prayed him for donations. Jarasandh promised to give them the things of their desires. Lord Krishna then introduced them and begged Jarasandh for a duel with any of them. Jarasandh accepted to fight a duel with Bhima. He gave Bhima a mace and both of them came out to the outskirts of the town, where they began their duel. Both of them were equally strong and equally brave and well pitted.

Twenty-seven days passed, but their duel remained inconclusive. On the twenty-eighth day, during the fight, Lord Krishna signalled Bhima a way to kill Jarasandh. He took a small twig in his hands and tore it apart into two. Bhima understood the signal and beating Jarasandh on ground, he tore him apart in two pieces and threw them in opposite directions. Thus came the end of evil Jarasandh. Lord Krishna and Arjuna heartily greeted Bhima for his success. They then enthroned Jarasandh's son Sahadev and also got the captive kings released.

SALVATION OF SHISHUPAL

King Yudhisthira had invited great Vedic Brahmins and Acharayas on the occasion. Persons from Kauravas side like Drona, Bhisma, Kripacharya, Dhritarashtra, Vidura and Duryodhan etc. were too invited to witness the celebrations. Even Brahma, Shiv, Indra, Gandharvas, Vidyadhar had too arrived. But before the Yagya could start a dispute cropped up among the great sages as to who ought to be worshipped first in the Yagya.

In the opinion of Sahadev (youngest of the Pandava brothers, not the son of Jarasandh), Lord Krishna deserved the first worship. Every one supported him. Only Shishupal could not tolerate the decision.

He stood up and said: "In the presence of such great ascetics, savants, polymaths and sages, how can this cowherd deserve the first worship." Despite Shishupal bitter remarks Lord Krishna kept quiet. But Shishupal did not. Encouraged by Lord Krishna’s silence he began to attack the kings, who stood by Lord Krishna’s side, with sword. He was simultaneously abusing Lord Krishna also. Lord Krishna had assured Shishupal of this forgiveness for up to one hundred sins. But now Shishupal's sins have crossed that permitted number. So, quieting all, Lord Krishna cut his head with His wheel. As soon as the dead body of Shishupal fell on the ground, a flame emerged from it and merged with Lord Krishna. Shukdev says: "O Parikshit, feelings of hostility had been accumulating in the heart of Shishupal for his past three births against Lord Krishna. It was because of these intense hostile feelings that Shishupal met salvation eventually.

After the salvation of Shishupal, ceremonies and rituals of Yagya proceeded unabated. At the end king Yudhisthira presented all those present there with fitting gifts and took ceremonial bath. At the request of Pandavas, Lord Krishna stayed in Indraprasth for many months.

SALVATION OF SHALV

Shukdev says: "Parikshit, now listen to the tale of how Lord Krishna caused salvation for Shalv. Shalv was the childhood friend of Shishupal and had attended the marriage of Rukmani as a member of Shishupal's wedding party. At that time, Yaduvanshis had defeated them all including Jarasandh and Shalv. Right at that moment, Shalv had resolved to destroy Yaduvanshis and began worshipping Gods of the gods Pashupati (Shiv). Lord Ashutosh Shiva was pleased with him. As a boon, Shalv had got an aeroplane that was invincible even for the gods, demons, humans, Nagas, etc and was particularly formidable for Yaduvanshis. By the dictate of Lord Shiva, the demon Maya constructed such an aeroplane of iron. The aeroplane named Saubh was as big as a city and was difficult to be spotted or caught. It could move as fast as one's wishes. Soon after getting the aeroplane, Shalv launched an attack of Dwarka.

Surrounding Dwarka, Shalv began to destroy buildings and houses there. Seeing the people terrorised, Pradyumn consoled them to be fearless and he set out on a chariot to counter Shalv. He pierced Shalv with arrows. But Shalva's minister Dyumana attacked Pradyumna with a mace. By the blow of the mace, Pradyumn lost his consciousness. But soon he came around and began to slay Shalv's forces. The fierce battle continued for twenty-seven days. Lord Krishna was away then in Indraprasth Yagya. But He was sure that in his absence Kshatriya kings of Shishupal side would be attacking on Dwarka.

Lord Krishna reached Dwarka and saw a fierce battle between Pradyumn and Shalv. Seeing Lord Krishna arrive, Shalv began to attack Him with sharp arrows. Lord Krishna hit Shalv with a powerful blow of mace and he began to spit blood from his mouth. He then tried to show many illusions and showered Lord Krishna with weapons. But Lord Krishna wounded Shalv with his arrows, broke his aeroplane with his mace. Very soon thereafter the aeroplane plunged in to the sea. Shalv then attacked Lord Krishna with mace but Lord Krishna cut his head with Sudarshan wheel. Seeing his end, all the gods showered flowers on Krishna.

SALVATION OF DANTVAKTRA AND VIDURATH

After the killing of Shishupal, Shalv etc. Dantvaktra arrived in the battlefield carrying a mace. When Lord Krishna saw him coming, He too jumped down from the chariot and balked his movement with a mace. Dantvaktra tried to humiliate God with his abuses and hit him on head with his mace. Lord Krishna easily bore the blow of mace and hit Dantvaktra's chest with his mace named Kaumodaki. Dantvaktra's heart tore apart by the blow and he fell dead.

Vidurath was the brother of Dantvaktra. He came in the field with sword and shield to avenge his brother's death. Seeing him ready to launch an attack, Lord Krishna cut Vidurath's head with his wheel. Thus, Lord Krishna entered Dwarka only after killing Shalv, Dantvaktra and Vidurath. All the gods and other inhabitants of heaven showered flowers on Him.

SUDAMA: THE LORD KRISHNA’S  FRIEND

During his stay as a disciple at the hermitage of sage Sandipani, Lord Krishna had a Brahmin friend named Sudama. He was very indifferent in nature with no desires for the material things. After their education, Lord Krishna came to Dwarka while Sudama, who had no any inclination for accumulating material wealth, got married and began to pass his life with his wife Susheela in abject poverty. One day his wife Susheela said: "O lord, your friend Krishna is the king of Dwarka. He is very benevolent to Brahmins and his devotees. If you go to see him, he will understand your miseries and grant you a lot of wealth." But Sudama plainly refused saying: "Devi, I have chosen the path of devotion for self upliftment and not for the wealth." Susheela, however, kept of insisting: "All right, don't go for the wealth. But at least you can go to see your old friend. Sudama accepted this proposition, thinking that only the sight of Lord yields supreme benefit to the devotee. But he wanted something as a gift to present to his old friend. At this, his wife tied four handfuls of raw rice in a bundle.

With that humble gift, Sudama set out for Dwarka. His poverty was at its helm. But he kept on reciting Lord Krishna’s  name all along the way. After walking for some distance, Sudama felt thirsty. He drank water, quenched his thirst and thanked God that He at least does give water to drink. Sudama kept on walking the whole day. In the evening, he kept the bundle of rice under his head as a pillow and slept.

Now it was Lord Krishna's turn to show His gratitude for the devotee. When Sudama awoke in the morning, he found himself right in front of Lord Krishna's palace. At first he could not believe his eyes; but the people told him that he was in Dwarka and standing right before the lord's palace. Sudama requested the gatekeeper to inform Lord Krishna that his childhood friend Sudama had come. Lord Krishna was sitting in the company of Rukmani when the gatekeeper delivered the message. As soon as Lord Krishna learned about Sudama's arrival, He stood up and ran helter-skelter to welcome his childhood friend. At the gate He cordially embraced Sudama and escorted him into his private chamber and made him sit on the throne.

Krishna and queen Rukmani both washed Sudama's feet one by one. By the mere touch of his friend, Krishna was feeling overjoyed. His eyes filled with tears. He and Sudama were holding each other's hands. Their hearts were beating with the memories of their period as disciples at the hermitage of Sandipani. For long, none of them could utter a word. At last Sudama said: "O Jagadguru Krishna, I have the fortune of being your friend. What remains for me to do?"

Lord Krishna said: "Brother, have you brought for me something sent by my sister-in-law? I love to accept even the pettiest thing presented with affection." At Krishna’s words, Sudama felt ashamed and he did not reveal the four handfuls of raw rice that he had brought as gift. With shame, Sudama began to look at the ground. Lord Krishna knew everything that his dear friend Sudama had never remembered him with a desire for wealth. This time too he has come at the insistence of his wife. 'Hence, I will give him the wealth that is rare even for the gods,' thought Lord Krishna and snatched the bundle of raw rice and opened it with great respect. He put one handful of it in his mouth. When Lord proceeded to take next handful, queen Rukmani held his hand and prayed: "O Vishvambhar (fosterer of the world) for the prosperity of entire world this one handful is sufficient."

Sudama stayed that night in the palace of Sri Krishna. There he experienced the comfort of Vaikunth (abode of God). Staying there for many days, Sudama at last, took leave of Sri Krishna and set out for his home. Lord Krishna did not give Sudama anything apparently nor did Sudama asked for His favour. He was travelling overwhelmed by a divine sense of devotion and felt that Krishna might have not given him wealth lest he should forget Him.

Thus, sunk in myriad kinds of thoughts, Sudama reached his home. But at the place, where his dilapidated hut stood once there was now a divine palace surrounded by verdant gardens. The floors of the palace were embedded with precious gems and stones. Standing at the gate, Sudama felt confused, when his wife Susheela came out with scented water to welcome him. Tears were rolling on her cheeks. With love she greeted Sudama and escorted him inside the palace. Sudama was still reflecting over the God's grace and praying: "May I have the friendship of lord in every birth, may my affection increase for Lord Krishna’s feet. I don't want wealth." Since then, Sudama enjoyed the comforts of the palace as the bounty of Lord Krishna bestowed upon him by none other than the Lord Krishna himself. His devotion increased day by day.

MEETING OF LORD KRISHNA WITH GOPIS

Shukdev says: "O Parikshit, Lord Krishna was passing his time with pleasure in Dwarka. A total solar eclipse happened to fall during that period. People from all over India thronged in Kurukshetra to take a dip in sacred Ganges on that great occasion. All the Yaduvanshis too arrived there. When Vrajvasis (inhabitants of Vraj) learned about Krishna and Balarama's arrival in Kurukshetra, they too assembled there.

During the festival, Lord Krishna met His foster-father Nand and other cowherds who were his childhood friends. Lord Krishna met the Gopis also who had been pining for his sight since long. They enjoyed the meeting and kept on chatting for long. Overwhelmed by love and joy, Vasudev embraced Nand. Lord Krishna and Balarama respectfully greeted mother Yashoda and father Nand. They too embraced Krishna and Balarama cordially.

Gopis were specially overwhelmed by Lord Krishna’s  sight. They had no other desire but to have a sight of Lord Krishna. That day their long cherished dream had come true. Gopis imbued the captivating appearance of Lord Krishna and experienced the joy of embracing Him. Krishna met all the Gopis and embraced them. He inquired about their well being and preached them with spiritual knowledge. By the virtue of that knowledge, feeling of living disappeared among the Gopis and they merged with God forever.

ORGANISATION OF YAGYA BY VASUDEV

Devarshi Narada, Vyasa and many other great sages arrived in Kurukshetra to have a sight of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna welcomed them all. Then Vasudev greeted them and enquired about way for his self-upliftment. Laughingly, Narada said: "Vasudev, a person, already living at the bank of the Ganges, discards her holy water and goes to other places of pilgrimage for his purification.

In the presence of Krishna and Balarama, the sages said: "You regard the indescribable, eternal, Sachchidanand Sri Krishna as your son, and seek the way of your self upliftment from us. O Vasudev, recognise Him. Take to His refuge, only He can save you." Vasudev got the meaning of sage's words and began to develop feelings of devotion for his son. Every human being has obligation for the gods, sages and his ancestors. The sages got a Yagya performed in Kurukshetra by Vasudev to free him from the obligation for gods.

REVISTING OF DEVAKI'S SIX SONS

In Dwarka, Krishna and Balarama used to greet their parent's first daily in the morning. Now Vasudev had recognised His identity. So after their return from Kurukshetra, when Krishna and Balarama went as usual to greet their parents, Vasudev greeted them first. Lord Krishna then preached his father about the metaphysical knowledge. With that knowledge, Vasudev began to see Krishna everywhere.

Mother Devaki was also present there. Memory of her six children, who were killed by Kansa, was still afresh in her mind. She had heard that Krishna had fetched the dead son of Sandipani from Yamloka. So she prayed to them " You both are venerable even to the gods. Kindly grant me my desire. Show me my six sons who were killed by Kansa. By their mother's dictate and helped by Yogmaya, both the brothers reached Sutal Loka.

The demon king Bali welcomed them there and offered them a seat, and washed their feet. King Bali then asked God what could he do for Him. Lord said: O demon king, in Swayambhu Manvantara, six sons were born to Urna the wife of Prajapati Marichi. They were all gods. They had once seen Brahma trying to copulate with his own daughter and hence derided at him. Indignant Brahma had then cursed them to take birth in demon incarnation. They therefore were born as the sons of Hiranyakashipu.

In the present era, Yogmaya had made them born as Devaki's sons who were killed by Kansa. They are all now in your Loka. Mother Devaki is mourning for them, so we shall take them with us. They will thus be freed from the curse and go to their heavenly abode." Thus Lord Krishna and Balarama brought those six babies to Dwarka and handed them to mother Devaki. Seeing her babies again, Devaki's heart filled with love for her sons. Milk began to flood her breasts. She breast-fed them. Drinking the milk, all the babies received salvation. They then departed to their heavenly abode.

LOVE AND MARRIAGE OF SUBHADRA AND ARJUNA

King Parikshit asked: "Gurudev, how did my grandfather Arjuna and grandmother Subhadra got married? I want to hear this tale. Kindly narrate it to me."

Shukdev said: Parikshit once travelling on a pilgrimage tour, Arjuna reached in Prabhas region. There he learned that Balarama was desirous of marrying his sister Subhadra to Duryodhan. But Vasudev and Krishna were not in the favour of this marriage. So, a strong urge took hold in his mind to get Subhadra as his wife. Acting as per the urge, Arjuna reached Dwarka in the guise of Vaishnav sage. It was rainy season then, so with an excuse of Chaturmasya Vrata (four months long fast), Arjuna stayed in Dwarka. During his stay, Balarama served and looked after him very well. But neither Balarama nor any other inmates of the palace could recognise Arjuna.

Once Balarama invited Arjuna to his home. There he offered good, delicious food to Arjuna. Subhadra too served him well. There, they fell in love with each other. Later on, boarding a chariot, Subhadra went out of the palace for a joy ride. At the outskirts of the town, Arjuna was awaiting for her. He had already taken permission of Devaki, Vasudev and Krishna. Subhadra too had silently nodded her acceptance.

So that evening Arjuna and Subhadra eloped from Dwarka. The news of Subhadra eloping with Arjuna first outraged Balarama. But Lord Krishna and other near and dear ones convinced and pacified him.

RELEASE OF SHIVA FROM CRISIS

Maitreya asked: "Gurudev, those among the gods, human beings and the demons, who worship Lord Shiva, get wealth very soon. But those, who worship Lord Narayana, remain afflicted with scarcity. What is the reason for that?"

In reply, Lord Krishna had said: "O Yudhisthira, I take away all the wealth from those whom I bestow my grace. When they are poor, their relatives desert them. I even render their efforts useless when they try to earn money. Thus being unsuccessful repeatedly, the people develop an attitude of indifference for wealth. Then they begin to take shelter as my devotee and mingle with me. Only then, I bestow my full grace on them and they receive me as Sachchidanand Parabrahma. Thus, pleasing me through my worship is extremely difficult. Hence, ordinary people give me up and worship other deities, which are in fact different forms of me. Lord Shiva is Ashutosh and bestows his devotees quickly with grace. He gives wealth and other riches to his devotees. But once they get wealth, the devotees become despotic and even forget the God who had blessed them."

Once upon a time, there was a demon Vrikasur. He had pleased Lord Shiva and sought a boon that the person, upon whose head the demon put his hand, should be incinerated at once. Lord Shiva granted the boon without considering the consequences. But as soon as the demon got this supernatural power, he ran to incinerate Lord Shiva first. The demon was eyeing Gauri Parvati, so he was determined to eliminate Lord Shiva. Now afraid of his own boon, Lord Shiva ran for his life, with the demon following him in hot pursuit. At last Shiva reached in Vaikunth and told Lord Vishnu about his crisis. Lord at once illumined the demon and made him put his hand, on his own head. By the virtue of the boon, the demon was incinerated in no time and thus Lord Shiva could be saved.

TESTING OF TRINITY

Once upon a time, all the sages assembled on the bank of Saraswati River. A dispute erupted among them as to who among the trinity was the greatest. By consensus they appointed sage Bhrigu to test the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Bhrigu reached to Brahma, but did not greet him. Brahma got infuriated but since the sage Bhrigu was his son, He did not curse him. Then Bhrigu visited Shiva. Lord Shiva proceeded to embrace the sage. But instead of accepting Shiva's welcome, the sage began to abuse Him, saying: "You violate the dignity of Vedas, so I will not meet with you." Angry Shiva raised his trident to kill him, but Bhagvati stopped Him. At last Bhrigu reached Vaikunth to see Lord Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu was lying with head in the lap of Lakshmi. Bhrigu kicked hard at His chest. But instead of getting angry, Lord Vishnu got up, bowed his head before the sage and begged pardon: "O Sage, pardon me, I could not welcome you at once, at your arrival. Your feet are soft, I hope they are not hurt. All my sins have been washed by the touch of your feet." Bhrigu felt very pleased by the serious talks of Lord Vishnu. His heart felt overwhelmed with excess of devotion. He returned to the assembly of the sages and narrated his experience. Since then Lord Vishnu is regarded as the Supreme and giver of peace and fearlessness.

REVIVAL OF BRAHMN'S DEAD CHILDREN

There in Dwarka lived a Brahmin. When the first son was born to his wife, it died immediately after birth. The Brahmin took his dead son to the royal court and complained: "My Son has died because of anti-Brahmin and licentious actions of the king." One by one, thus, eight sons were born to the Brahmin couple; but they all died immediately after birth. And the Brahmin kept on dumping his dead sons at the gate of the royal palace.

When his ninth son was born, and died, Arjuna was also there in Dwarka. He made a promise to the Brahmins: I shall guard your son or commit self-immolation. At the time of next delivery, the agitated Brahmin came to Arjuna. Training his bow and arrows, Arjuna made all arrangements to protect Brahmin's tenth son. Sanctified by many mantras, Arjuna's arrows constructed a fence around the labour room. A child took birth; but it too died after some time. Brahmin, then, cursed Arjuna.

Arjuna scouted through all the three worlds and even the netherworlds in search of the Brahmin's dead son, but he could not find him anywhere. Ultimately accepting his failure and as per his promise, Arjuna proceeded to immolate himself.

Meanwhile, Lord Krishna too learned about Arjuna's vow and stopped him from self-immolation. Thereafter, riding a divine chariot, Lord Krishna set out with Arjuna, towards west. Beyond the limits of cosmos. They reached the abode of Lord Vasudev in Tripadvibhuti. There Arjuna saw that Lord was present in Purushaottam's appearance. Sri Krishna and Arjuna greeted Him.

Lord Purushaottam said in a serious voice: "O Krishna and Arjuna, only to have a sight of both of you, I brought the Brahmin's sons to me. Both of you had taken incarnation on earth from my part to protect the religion. All the demons have been slain by now. Now you too return to me.

Sri Krishna and Arjuna again greeted Lord Purushaottam and returned on earth with all the sons of the Brahmin. Arjuna was greatly surprised to see the supreme abode of Lord Purushaottam. He felt that whatever strength a living being had, it been all by Sri Krishna's grace. Like common, ordinary people, the Lord Krishna stayed on earth enjoying mundane comforts, performed Yagyas like kings, behaved like idealistic people; deterred His subjects and slayed evil kings to re-establish religion on earth.

CHAPTER SIX THE SAGES CURSE YADUVANSHIS

Parashar said: "As the time passed, Yaduvanshis grew stronger and more influential. Now no longer did they like the welcoming and treating of the great sages by Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna knew about their disliking, but secretly He was pleased by this change in Yaduvanshi's behaviour, for He knew that by disregarding the saints and the scriptures, they would meet their end sooner.

Once the Yaduvanshis clothed Jambvati's son Samb in a woman's attire and, showing him to the sages asked mockingly: "Maharaja, this is our sister-in-law. She is an expecting mother. She feels shy to ask but tell us what will be born to her?

Through their unfailing vision, the Sages knew the reality and said: "Fools, a pestle shall be born to her and that pestle shall exterminate the entire Yaduvansha. Now all the Yaduvanshis were perplexed by sages' prediction, and approached their king Ugrasen. But, even the king was helpless now because he could not change the words the pious sages. In due course, a pestle was born to Samb. Frightened of an imminent fate, Yaduvanshis crushed the pestle into a fine powder and threw it into the sea. Only a nail remained, that also was thrown into the sea where a fish swallowed it. A fisher caught the fish and cut it open and found the nail. He gave it to a hunter. The hunter fixed the nail in the head of his arrow. On the other hand, the sea waves washed the powder of the pestle ashore where it germinated and grew as luxuriant grasses. Later on, once all the Yaduvanshis assembled at the seashore for a picnic where they drank wine and began to fight with one another under intoxication. Soon their quarrel grew so high that they pulled out the grasses, which were growing there, to use as the arms. With the grasses the Yaduvanshis beat one another to death.

NARADA PREACHES VASUDEV ABOUT BHAGAVAT

Once Narada arrived in Dwarka. Vasudev prayed him and requested to provide him with pious company of Bhagvat Dharma. Narada said: "O king, once upon a time, nine great sages arrived in the court of the king Janaka. King Janaka had put the same curiosity before them also. I will narrate the conversation that followed there between the sages and the king."

First of all, the first Yogishwar Kavi said: "O king Janaka, dedication is the first duty (Dharma) of a Vaishnav. He should devote everything - his actions, fruits of actions and even himself, at the feet of Lord. He ought to hear about Lord's virtues. Such a devotee shall be indifferent to the worldly affairs and shall laugh, dance or sing occasionally and sanctified all the three worlds." The king then asked about the characteristics of the Lord's devotees. Another Yogeshwara Hari said: "A true devotee of the Lord remains unaffected by feelings like hunger, thirst, life, death, labour, pain, fear and desire. Such a devotee is the excellent kind of Bhagvat. Even the wealth of all the three worlds cannot shake the faith of such a devotee, because Lord Sri Hari himself stays in his heart."

"What is illusion?" A Yogeshwara Antariksh replied: "King, an illusion is also God's play. Having a possessive feeling about mundane is illusion. Thinking in terms of 'I', 'Me', 'Mine', 'My', 'You', 'Your' is also illusion. If one can have such an affection for God as he has for worldly things, one can easily surmount the illusion."

King Janaka then asked about the method of worshipping Lord. A Yogeshwara, Karbhajan said: " O king, the Lord had a fair complexion in Satya Yuga. People used to receive Him through methods like meditation, reconciliation, etc. In Treta Yuga, the Lord had reddish complexion and Yagyas were the main means to achieve Him. In Dwapar Yuga, the Lord had yellowish complexion and He could be pleased through worships. In the present Kali  Yuga, Lord has dark complexion and one can receive Him through means like recitation, narration and hearing of His name and plays.

Thus, Narada preached Vasudev about Bhagvat Dharma. Now the heart and mind of Vasudev were thoroughly clean and pure.

KRISHNA DEPARTS TO HIS ABODE AND DESTRUCTION OF YADUS

To remind Lord Krishna about the moment of His departure, Brahma arrived in Dwarka accompanied by all the gods. He prayed to Him: "O Lord, you have completed your duty of what we had once requested you. Now, You please return to your abode. Lord said: "On the seventh day from now, Dwarka shall submerge in the sea and Yadavas shall fight among themselves to death. I too shall depart then. The arrow of a hunter shall be the cause of my departure."

When Uddhava learned that Lord Krishna was about to wind up His plays, he approached Him and said: "I understand, O Lord, that this all is happening by your wish. But I cannot part for a moment from your feet. Hence, take me also with you to your abode." Lord Krishna said: "Uddhava, I will not go anywhere. My entire brilliance will be present in Srimad Bhagvat. You stay here preaching Bhagvat Dharma." Saying thus, lord preached Uddhava about the Gita Jnana through the tale of Avadhoot.

Lord Krishna narrated thus: "Uddhava, Once, our ancestor Yadu happened to see Lord Dattatreya in a forest. Lord was indulged in the supreme joy in the guise of Avadhoot. Yadu asked him about the reasons for his whimsical state." Avadhoot had said: "O king, making the various animals, birds, insects etc as my teacher, I have learned about spirituality from them. That is why I am free from mourning and attachment. Earth, air, sky, water, fire, the moon the sun, pigeon, python, sea, grasshopper, bumblebee, honey bee, elephant, extractor of honey, deer, fish, prostitute, osprey, boy, girls, arrow-maker, snake, spider and wasp are all my teachers. I took refuge at these twenty-four teachers and learned from their behaviour.

I learned forgiveness from earth, purity from the sky, holiness and cleanliness from the water, innocence and renunciation from the fire; indifferentness from the air, to remain unaffected by circumstances from moon, abdication from the Sun, incoherence from the pigeon, dependence upon fate and remain effortless from the python, to remain always happy and serious from the sea, to be under the control of sense organs and hence meet total destruction from the grasshopper, acquiring of virtues from bumblebee, fault in cumulating from honey bee, to abstain sensuous talks from the deer, to eliminate greed from the fish, sorrow in hope and happiness in desperation from the prostitute, to feel happy in uncertainty from osprey, dispute among many from the girls, concentration from the arrow-maker, to roam alone and detachment from a particular place from the snake, virtues of the creator Lord from the spider, and I learned similarity from the wasp."

In the guise of Avadhoot, Lord Dattatreya says: "O king, I learned wisdom and apathy from my body also, because life, death, life and death again are inseparably intertwined with it. Hence the net result of loving this body is nothing but sorrow. Thus our own body also helps us to learn about metaphysical knowledge.

Lord Krishna also explained Uddhava regarding futility of physical and heavenly luxuries. This human body is like a tree, on which two birds - Jivatma and Paramatma (microcosm and supreme soul) - have taken shelter. Two fruits - happiness and sorrow - appear on it. Jivatma (microcosm) eats these fruits while Paramatma (supreme soul) stays as an indifferent onlooker. There are three kinds of Jiva - Baddha (Bound), Bhakta (devotee) and Mukta (liberated). Baddh Jivas (bound souls) are those who indulge in sensual pleasures and those who dislike pious company. Mukt Jiva (liberated souls) are those who are free from attachment and bindings. Bhaktas (devotees) are those who meditate on me and dedicate their everything in my feet and have love for my virtues. My devotee is kind, free from flaws, tolerant, has feeling of fraternity for all and controls his desires.

BHIKSHU GEET

Lord Krishna said: "Uddhava, in the world, there is indeed a dearth of such tolerant people who can tolerate bitter remarks of evil ones. In this context there is a tale of a greedy Brahmin who lived in Ujjain. That Brahmin had been badly tormented by the evil people after he had lost his wealth. But still the Brahmin did not lose his patience and regarding his present state as a result of his previous birth's deeds, he expressed his feelings thus:

These people are not the cause of my miseries; neither the gods, nor body, even planets and time, can be blamed for my miseries. Scriptures and learned ones held the mind itself guilty of one's miseries. It is the mind that runs the cycle of the world and makes every kind of efforts.

In the absence of mind, even the soul is rendered motionless. When one accepts the dictates of the mind and indulges in sensual pleasures, soul too comes to be bound with them. The ultimate outcome of all the spiritual efforts like celibacy, study of Vedas etc. and abidance to pious actions is the concentration of mind. Concentration of mind and is abstaintation from sensual pleasures are the primary conditions for attainment of Paramayoga (supreme meditation). Thus Lord Krishna preached Uddhava about Jnana Gita. Uddhava too took Bhagvat (which is a form of the Lord) with honor and departed for Badrikashrama.

PART SIX

DESCRIPTION OF DYNASTIES IN KALI  YUGA

Parashar describes about the dynasties that would occur in Kali Yuga. Ripunjay or Puranajay would be the last king of Brihdrath dynasty. The kings of Nand dynasty would succeed this dynasty. Then a diplomat Brahmin, named Chanakya, would exterminate this dynasty and enthrone Chandragupta Maurya. In Maurya dynasty, a great king would occur by the name of Ashokvardhan. After him, Yavans would rule then for six hundred and forty years. Their rule would be succeeded by the governance of the fair-complexioned foreigners, who would rule for one hundred and sixty years. Thereafter, there would be no king and no subjects because people from all the classes would come forward to rule.

The ruler would be selected by the majority votes. There would be no any thing like holiness. Cows would grow thin like nannies. People would not marry, as per their castes. Greed, selfishness and sex would be the base of marriage life. In adverse conditions, spouses would desert each other. There would be nothing like duty, responsibility and conduct. Hair would be the main item of adornment for the women.

People would not have the knowledge of religious scriptures in Kali Yuga. Talkativeness would be identified with knowledge. Only those would be regarded as clever, who could pick others' pockets. Children would not regard or pay due respect to their parents. Children would maintain relations with parents till their marriage only, not after that. Boys would not touch the feet of their own parents, but would pay full respect to their father and mother-in-law. Brother-in-law would be dearer to them than their own brother. Parashar says: Kali Yuga is the mine of faults, but it has only one great virtue - that the people will acquire divine position only by reciting Lord's name. Recitation of Lord's name, regardless of intention and motivation-- whether it is love, derision, laziness or maliceness- would destroy one's sins.

But the sinister people would do even the most difficult tasks in Kali Yuga, but they would not recite Lord's name. They would not have an interest in the Lord. Their interests would be more in sensuous things like sound, touch, beauty, scent etc.

The Paramagati (supreme salvation) that people could receive by ten thousand years of meditation in Satya Yuga; by performing Yagya for hundred years in Treta Yuga and by worshipping Lord's idol for ten years in Dwapar, that supreme salvation is easily available for people in Kali Yuga simply by reciting Lord's name for one day and one night continuously. But still, in Kali Yuga people would not have faith in Lord's name. It is their misfortune.

Home

4. SHIVA MAHAPURANA

SHIVA MAHAPURANA: INTRODUCTION

First of all, Sage Shaunak expressed his desire to Suta about knowing the means, which could help a man in this era of Kali to attainment lord Shiva, by cleansing all the impurities of his mind and rectifying his inherent demonic tendencies. Suta then described about Shiva Mahapurana - the supreme of all the Puranas, which was narrated by Lord Shiva himself and which was later on retold by Sage Vyasa with the permission of Maharshi Sanatkumar, for the benediction of common man. Suta said, "By understanding the mysteries of ShivmahaPurana and singing its praises, a man attains greater virtues than that which could be attained by being charitable or by the performance of all the `yagyas'. Contemplating on the subject matters of Shiva Mahapurana give auspicious fruits just like a 'Kalpa-taru' (A mythological tree which fulfills all the wishes). Shiv Mahapurana contains twenty-four thousand shlokas and seven Samhitas which are Vidyeshwar, Rudra, Shatrudra, Koti Rudra, Uma, Kailash, and Vayviya. Shiva Mahapurana is the best means for man's liberation.

PROPER METHOD OF LISTENING TO SHIVA PURANA

Sage Shaunak requested Suta to tell about the proper method of listening to Shiva Purana, so that the mankind gets complete benefit. Suta replied-

"First of all, an auspicious moment should be determined by an Astrologer. After that, friends and relatives should be invited, especially those who have the tendency of being away from such occasions. The sages and the virtuous people should be invited too. The 'Katha' must be help in scared places like Shiva temple, any place of pilgrimage or in one's home after doing a Bhumi Pujan of the land where one intends to held the Katha of Shiva Purana. The canopy should be well decorated." "After making a resolution and doing worship of Ganapati - the destroyer of all hurdles and obstacles the Katha should be commenced. The person who is telling the 'Katha' should be facing north and all the listeners should sit facing east. The person who is telling the 'Katha' should be a scholar and should be capable of clearing all the doubts from the listener's mind. There should be no kind of distraction during the 'Katha' period. A devotee, who listens to the Katha leaving behind all of his worldlys worries get complete benefits. A devotee should also make donations and offerings according to his capacity and capability otherwise he would become a wretched man. The Mantra 'OM NAMAH SHIVAY' should be chanted through out the period of Katha.

An uninitiated person does not have the right to listen to the Katha of Shiva Mahapurana. So a man desirous of listening to Shiva Mahapurana should first get initiated.

A devotee who has taken the vow of listening to the Katha of Shiva Mahapurana, should follow a celibate life. He should sleep on the floor and should have only fruits in the diet. He can have his normal dinner only after the completion of the Katha. The diet should be fresh and pure. He should also try to avoid sinful tendencies like lust, anger, greed, attachment and condemning other, etc. Making donations of even meager things give undiminishing virtues.

After the methodical completion of the Katha, a devotee should perform UDDYAPAN (Conclusion of the Katha), which is similar to the CHATURDASHI UDDYAPAN. The devotee should also charitably make donations to all the brahmins who have helped in the performance of Katha. On the next day the 'Path' of SHIVA GITA should be performed. If the devotee (listener of the Katha) is a householders, then he should perform 'Havan' with the ghee prepared from Cow's milk, for the pacification of the unhindered completion of the Katha. The Havan should be performed, either with the help of 'Rudra Samhita mantras' or 'Gayatri Mantra' or with the shlokas of Purana.

PART ONE VIDYESHWAR SAMHITA

SAGES ENQUIRE

Viddyeshwar Samhita which is classified into twenty five chapters, has a narration in its first chapter which goes as follows-

Once upon a time, the sages were performing a yagya at Prayag kshetra. Sage Suta came to know about this and arrived there. All the sages were very pleased to see him. They requested:-

"Lord! Though we have heard many tales from you regarding the man's benediction, but today we want to listen to something special. Because in this present era of Kali, when all the castes have forgotten about their respective duties we want to know is there any way to prevent the deterioration in the human values?"

Suta replied:-

"O Great men! Your enquiry has great relevance in this era of Kali. I will certainly tell you about the way by the help of which a man can achieve benediction. Shiva Mahapurana contains the essence of Vedantic philosophy, which gives worldly pleasures as well as Salvation. Mere remembrance of it destroys all the sins of a man. One who studies the Rudra-Samhita attentively, his gravest of sins are destroyed instantaneously. One who studies Rudra-Samhita' silently, sitting in front of Bhairav-idol, all of his aspirations are fulfilled. A man gets liberated from the sin of killing a brahmin, if he studies Rudra Samhita while circulbulating around a Banyan tree."

"Kailash Samhita is even superior than Rudra Samhita, as it elaborates upon the meaning of Omkar. Shiva Mahapurana is created by lord Shiva Himself. It contains twelve Samhitas which are - Viddyeshwar, Rudra, Vinayak, Uma, Matri, Ekadash-rudra, Kailash, Shat-rudra, Koti-rudra, Sahastra Koti, Vayaviya and Dharma."

"Initially it contained one lac shlokas but it was precised to twenty-four thousand shlokas by sage Vyasa. The present Shiva Purana is the fourth one which consists of seven Samhitas. The earlier three Shiva Puranas are unavailable. The scientific analysis of the Vedantic mysteries are the main subject of this divine Shiva Purana. The study of Shiva Purana helps a man to attain Dharma, Artha, Kam and Moksha.

Suta continued with his narration:-

"During the initial period of 'Svet Varaha Kalpa'. Six prominent sages collected near Triveni and started debating as to who was the greatest deity, among Brahma Vishnu and Mahesh. Their debate remained inconclusive, so they went to lord Brahma to seek the answer.

Lord Brahma told them:-

"O revered Sages! The source of Vishnu, Rudra all the deities including myself and all the other creations is none other Mahadeo. Union with the Shiva should be the objective of a man to attain that objective. Listening to the qualities of Lord Shiva, singing devotional songs in his praise and contemplating on him are the greatest means, which help to unite with Shiva."

Purification of the mind by the help of doing worship and chanting the name of God is called contemplation. Singing devotional songs in the form of stotra, or hymns of the vedas or even in one's own language is called Kirtan.

The above mentioned three activities are the supreme means to attain liberation

GREATNESS OF SHIVALINGA--PILLAR OF FIRE--OMKAR

According to Suta, if a person is incapable of following the above mentioned three activities i.e. Shravana, Kirtan and Manan then he should worship the Shivalinga. Even by doing this he can attain liberation from all the bondages of the world.

Describing about the majesty of Shivalinga, Suta says: "Lord Shiva is the manifestation of Almighty God (Brahma) himself and for this very reason he is known as Nishkal. Because of his divine beauty, Shiva is called Saguna (God with form). The term Saguna is also expressed in another way, that is Sakal. Shivalinga is worshipped since it symbolizes the form of Shiva. Lord Shiva is also considered to be Nirguna (without any qualities.)"

"In the first Kalpa of Swet Varaha, a battle was fought between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu to prove their superiority. Lord Shiva manifested before arrogance. After that he also showed them his form in the shape of Shivalinga. From that day onwards the Shivalinga became famous."

Nandikeshwarji narrates the tale of battle between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu.

"Once while travelling lord Brahma reached the abode of Lord Vishnu. He saw Lord Vishnu. He saw lord Vishnu resting on Shesh-Nag and being attended by Garuda and other attendants. When Brahma saw that Vishnu did not get up to receive him, he became very angry. Very soon, verbal dual erupted between them. It became so severe that a battle was fought between them, which continued for very long time. All the deities arrived from the heaven to watch the battle. They became very worried when they saw no sign of battle coming to an end. They decided to go to lord Shiva, to seek his help.

"Though Lord Shiva knew everything, but still feigning ignorance, he asked about the well beings of the world. The deities told him about the battle, fought between Brahma and Vishnu."

"Lord Shiva then sent his one hundred Ganas to pacify both of them. He too went there accompanied by mother Parvati, boarded on a chariot. When Lord Shiva reached there, he saw that Brahma and Vishnu were about to use their deadly weapons- Maheshwar and Pashupat respectively. Fearing the destruction, which these deadly weapons might have caused, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of 'Analstamba' (pillar of fire) between them. Brahma and Vishnu had already released their weapons- Maheshwar and Pashupat. Both the weapons fell into that pillar of fire and got destroyed.

"Brahma and Vishnu were very surprised to see the pillar of fire, which was so enormous in size that it reached the sky and penetrated down the earth. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and went to the 'Patal' (nether world) to find the base of that 'Pillar of fire'. But he was unsuccessful in his attempt and came back.

Similarly Brahma transformed himself into a swan and flew up in the sky to find its limit. While going through the aerial route he met a withered 'Ketaki' flowers, which had still some freshness and fragrance left in it."

"Lord Shiva smiled at the futile attempts of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. As a result of his smile the Ketaki flower fell down from the branch. Ketaki flower told Brahma that he had been present there since the beginning of the creation, but was unable to know about the origin of that 'Pillar of fine'. The flower also advised Brahma against making any effort in that direction, as it would be of no use."

"Brahma then sought the help of Ketaki flower to give a false witness before lord Vishnu, that he (Brahma) had been successful in seeing the limit of that pillar of fire. Ketaki flower agreed. Both of them went to Vishnu and Brahma told him that he had seen the limit of that Pillar of fire. Ketaki flower gave a witness. Vishnu accepted the superiority of Brahma."

"Lord Shiva became very angry with Brahma. He proceeded to punish Brahma for his falsehood. Lord Vishnu requested Lord Shiva to spare the life of Brahma. Lord Shiva became pleased with Vishnu and accorded him the same status as that of his own."

Nandikeshwar continuing with the tale said:

"After according same status to Vishnu as that of his own, Lord Shiva opened his third eye from it manifested 'Bhairav'. He ordered Bhairav to kill Brahma. Bhairav severed the fifth head of Lord Brahma with his sword. Brahma became very terrified. He was trembling in fear. Lord Vishnu felt pity on his condition and requested Lord Shiva to forgive him.

Lord Shiva then stopped Bhairav, but told Brahma.

"You spoke untruth with a desire to become worshippable. It is my curse that, you will not be worshipped by anybody. You will posses only four heads."

Brahma begged his forgiveness. Lord Shiva feeling pity on Brahma gave him a boon of being the presiding deity of all the yagya. Similarly the Ketaki flower also prohibited from being used during worship. But when Ketaki flower tendered his apology Shiva gave blessing that it would be fortunate to be offered to lord Vishnu during the worship.

Lord Vishnu and Brahma made salutations to lord Shiva and offered him a seat. They then worshipped him. This was the first time Brahma and Vishnu had worshipped lord Shiva. Shiva was very pleased. Shivaratri has been continued to be celebrated since that day. This particular day is considered to be the most auspicious day for the worship of Lord Shiva.

A devotee who fasts on Shivaratri remaining only on fruits, attain virtues equivalent to the worship done for the whole year.  The idol of Shiva is consecrated on this day.

Lord Shiva has himself told the deities that he had manifested in the form of Pillar of Fire' in the month of Agahan and during the constellation of Ardra. He also said-

"One who has my darshan on this day (Shivaratri) or worships me in my form of linga is dearer to me than Kartikeya. The place where, I manifested in the form of Pillar of fire will become famous as Lingasthan. Because of its resemblance with the 'Mountain of Fire', it will also be known Arunachal."

Later on Shiva brought back to life all the people who had died in the battle, fought between Brahma and Vishnu.

Lord Shiva then preached Brahma and Vishnu on the five duties (Panchakritya) saying that 'Srishti' (creation), 'Sthithi' (position), Samhar (annihilation), Tirobhav (concealment) and 'Anugrah' (obligation or kindness) are the five duties by which this world functions.

The source of this world in 'Sarga' or Nature. The establishment of this world is 'Stithi' or position. The tendency of this world to destroy is Samhar or destruction. The feeling of absence of this world is Tirobhav or concealment and Moksha or salvation is obligation or Anugrah.

Lord Shiva then goes on to explain that the first four duties like Sarga (Nature) etc help in the nurturement of the world and the fifth duty Anugrah is a giver of salvation.

Lord Shiva also told them (Brahma and Vishnu) that he (Shiva) had blessed both of them to look after the two duties i.e. Srishti and Sthiti. Rudra and Mahesh have been entrusted with the job of Sanhar and Tiribhav. "The fifth duty 'Anugrah' has been kept by me." Said Shiva.

After describing about the allocation of various duties, Lord Shiva described the meaning of 'OMKAR' to them. He said that OMKAR signified the world and contained the power of Shiva and Shakti. This powerful mantra gives all kinds of worldly accomplishment as well as salvation. After that Lord Shiva initiated Brahma and Vishnu with the OMKAR' mantra and preached them on the importance of the worship of Shivalinga.

RITUALS OF THE WORSHIP OF SHIVA—SACRED PIGRIMAGES

On the request of the sages, Suta describes about the methods of worshipping Shivalinga. He says-- "One should construct a Shivalinga either of mud, rock or metal and establish it in such a place where it can be worshipped daily without any hindrance."

"The 'Char' (mobile) Linga should be small in size and the Sthira (fixed) linga should be large. The Linga should be constructed along with the pedestal. The rule for constructing a Shivalinga has been specifically described. The breadth of thickness of the Linga should be twelve times the thickness of the devotees (one who is constructing the linga) finger, while the length should be twenty-five times. After establishing the linga in the above mentioned way, it should be worshipped after performing the Shodasopachar. The thumb also symbolise a Shivalinga and its worship can be done. While worshipping the Shivalinga, the mantra OM NAMAH SHIVAY should be continuously chanted. Chanting this mantra for five crore times, helps a man in attaining to the abode of Shiva. Worship of Shiva done during the mid night is considered to be especially fructifying.

There are numerous places of pilgrimages connected with Shiva at the banks of river Ganges and river Indus. River Saraswati is considered to be a sacrosanct river and having an opportunity of living at its banks, helps in attaining to the abode of Brahma.

Similarly, there are famous temples of Lord Shiva at Kashi, Naimisharanya, Badrikasharama and Kedar etc. There are many temples of Shiva at the banks of holy river like Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswati, Godavari, Narmada, Kaveri, Sarayu, Tungabhadra etc. Worshipping Shiva at these places bestows undiminishing virtues and liberates a man from all of his sins.

CONDUCT OF THE RESPECTIVE CASTES--DHARMA

On the request of the sages, Suta described about the virtuous and invirtuous activities of a man according to the respective castes he belongs to. He said:

"A brahmin who performs the rituals, as described in the Vedas, only is entitled to be called a Dwija. A brahmin who is not that proficient in the Vedas is called a 'Kshatriya brahmin'. A brahmin engaged in agricultural activities and business is called a Vaishya-brahmin'. A brahmin who is in the habit of condemning and criticizing others, is called a 'Shudra-Brahmin'.

"A Kshatriya who looks after the welfare of his subjects is called a king, while the rest of them are known as simply Kshatriya. A Kshatriya who indulges in business is called a Vaishya Kshatriya. Similarly a Kshatriya who engages himself in the service of the three superior castes - Brahmin Kshatriya and Vaishya is called a Shudra Kshatriya.

Dharma is considered to be of two types- 1) Dharma performed by matter and materials. 2) Dharma performed by indulging in physical activities.

The performance of Yagya etc comes in the first category. Making pilgrimages of holy places comes in the second category. During the Satya Yuga, meditation was the way to attain self knowledge. During Treta Yuga, it was attained by penance, during Dwapar Yuga it was attained by performing 'Yagya' while in the present era of Kali Yuga, idol worship is considered to be the means to achieve self-realization. Invirtuosity invites sorrow while virtuosity bestows joy and happiness.

'THE IMPORTANCE OF AGNI-YAGYA'

The sages then asked Suta about the Agniyagya, Brahma yagya, and Guru Puja in order of importance.

Suta said-

"Performing 'havan' by offering matter and materials into the sacred fire, is called Agni yagya. This ritual is especially meant for the brahmachari (celibates). Performing havana during the evening time brings prosperity, while performance of havana during the morning times gives long life. Making sacrifices to the deities during the daytime is called 'Deva Yagya'. A brahmin should perform 'Brahma yagya with the help of the study of the Vedas."

"First of all lord Shiva adopted an auspicious day for himself and named it Sunday. After that he named the Six remaining days of the week and attributed them to the following deities respectively - Monday (Durga), Tuesday (Skanda), Wednesday (Vishnu), Thursday (Yama), Friday (Brahma), and Saturday (Indra).

Worshipping the deities on their respective days give peace properity and all kinds of accomplishments.

APPROPRIATE PLACE AND TIME FOR WORSHIPPING SHIVA

In the Vidyeshwar Samhita of Shiva Purana, describing about the importance of place and time for worship of Shiva says-

"Worshipping Shiva at a pure place in a house gives appropriate fruits, while worship done in a cowshed gives virtue, which are ten-times more than the former one. Worshipping Shiva at the banks of a river gives, ten times more virtues than the second one. Worship of Shiva done either in temple, under the basil plant etc. or at the banks of Sapt Ganga, gives ten times more virtue than the third one. If Shiva is worshipped at the seashore than the fourth one, while worshipping Shiva on the peak of a mountain, gives ten times more virtue than the fifth one. But worship done with a fully concentrates mind, gives the best fruits.

During the Satya Yuga performance of Yagya and donations gave complete results. During the Treta Yuga it gave half, while in the present Kali Yuga it gives one-fourth results. Virtuosity performed with a pure heart does not go in vain. The other auspicious days in order of their increasing importance are 'Surya-Sankranti', Tula Sankranti and Mesh-Sankranti, Lunar eclipse and Solar eclipse respectively.

WORSHIPPING THE IDOL OF SHIVA

It has been mentioned in the sixteenth chapter of Viddyeshwar Samhita that all the desires of a man are completely fulfilled, if he worship even in earthen idol of Shiva. For making an idol of Shiva, clay should be acquired from the base of river, pond, well or any such other place. In this clay fragrant powder and milk should be added to make it into a paste. After the constructing of idol is complete, it should be worshipped by all the sixteen types of rituals Shodasopachar.

If the Shivalinga is constructed by somebody else, then three 'sera' of Naivedya should be offered to the deity, whereas if one himself has constructed the Shivalinga then the one-fourth of a 'Sera' should be offered.

If such an idol s worshipped for one thousand times, then it helps a devotee in attaining to the Satyaloka. Performing 'abhishek' of such an idol helps in self-purification, offering fragrance gives virtues, Naivedya increases the life span and worshipping it with 'Dhoop' gives wealth and prosperity respectively.

Worshipping the idol with a burning lamp gives knowledge to the devotee, whereas offering beetel leaves gives splendours.

A devotee who worships Lord Shiva in the Hindu month of Magh and on Krishna Chaturdashi achieves longevity of life. Both, worldly pleasures and salvation are achieved by worshipping Shiva.

Worshipping Shiva in the Hindu month of Kartik by going Japa, penance etc gives special fruits and the devotee becomes free from all kinds of diseases.

If a devotee worships lord Shiva on Sunday he becomes free from rebirth.

THE MAJESTY OF PRANAV PANCHAKSHAR

The root sounds Akar, Ukar, Makar, Bindu and Nad, which are free from the delusions and which originates from the mother nature are called Pranav. It is of two types:-a)Gross, b) Subtle. (Pranav Mantra OM AND OM NAMAH SHIVAY!

It symbolizess the unified power of Shiva and Shakti and destroyes all the sins of a man. A man desirous of worldly pleasures must chant the mantra 'Hrishva Pranav' containing the three root sounds A, U, and Ma, which symbolizes Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh respectively. On the other hand a man aspiring for the salvation, must chant the mantra 'Deergha Pranav' containing A, U, Ma, Nad and Bindu.

Before commencing the study of Vedas pronouncing OMKAR is a must. By chanting 'Pranav' for nine crore times man becomes pure. By chanting it for further nine crore times a man develops a control over natural forces like wind, smell and earth etc.

This Pranav mantra is considered to be most powerful and helps a man to attain the abode of Shiva.

WORLDLY BONDAGES AND SALVATION

In the eighteen chapter, all the sages requested Suta to explain the meaning of bondages of life and Salvation

Suta replied-

"Because of the eight types of bondages which a man feels on this earth, the soul is also known as "Jiva". The Jiva becomes liberated only after becoming free from these eight bondages. These eight bondages are - Nature, Intelligence qualitative- ego and the Panchatanmatras i.e. Sound, touch, appearance, taste and smell.

"Each soul is binded by these eight aspects of the Nature. The actions performed as the result of these bondages is called Karma. A man reaps the fruits of his actions- whether good or evil. He either enjoys pleasures or suffers because of sorrow, due to this Karma." The soul takes rebirth in a cyclic was binded by the effects of his Karmas. The eight Chakra' are nothing but the eight forms of the nature. Shiva is beyond the reach of these eight chakras, on the contrary he has full control these eight chakras. So a man can become free from the bondages of this world, only by worshipping Shivalinga. The linga is both gross as well as subtle. There are five types of Linga on this earth.- Swayambhu Linga, Bindu Linga, Pratisthit Linga, Char Linga, Guru Linga. A person desirous of worldly pleasures should worship the cross Shivalinga, where as one who is desirous of attaining salvation must worship the subtle Shivalinga."

THE WORSHIP OF PARTHIVA LINGA

Suta then explains the greatness of worshipping a Parthiva Linga-:

"Parthiva Linga is the most supreme among all the Shivalingas. All the aspirtions of he deities as well as men are fulfilled by the worship of Parthiv linga. During the era of Satya, jewel was considered to be of prime importance, where as during Treta Yuga and Dwapar  Yuga, gold and mercury had the prime importance respectively. In the present era of Kali, a Parthiva Linga holds this place of honor. The worship of Parthiva Linga begets more virtues than even penance. Just as Ganga among the rivers, Kashi among the sacred places of pilgrimages, Omkar among all the mantras are considered to be superior, In the same way Parthivalinga is considered to the supreme among all the Linga. Worshipping, a Parthiva linga with a 'Nishkam bhava' helps a man to attain liberation."

Suta elaborately describes about the methods of doing worship of Parthiva Linga:-

"After becoming fresh in the morning, a man should wear a rudraksha garland in his neck and apply Bhasma (ash) on his forehead. He should then worship the Parthiva Linga. He should chant the various names of Shiva, while worshipping the Parthiva Linga, like Har, Maheshwar, Shambhu, Shoolpani, Mahadeva, etc. After worshipping the Parthiva Linga, it should be immersed in the river, Then the mantra - OM NAMAH SHIVAY should be canted with complete devotion. This is the method which has been described in the Vedas for the worship of Parthiva Linga."

The numbers of Parthiva Linga differ according to one's desires. For example a man who is desirous of learning and knowledge must worship one thousand Parthiva Linga. A man who is desirous of wealth must worship. One thousand five hundred Parthiva Lingas. A man who is desirous of attaining salvation must worship one crore Parthiva Lingas.

Parthiva linga, which is equivalent to the height measured by the four fingers and which has been established on a beautiful pedestal, is considered to be the best. Parthiva Linga which is the half of the above mentioned height is considered to be medium; and still half than the second category is considered to be inferior Parthiva Linga. It is better and advisable to worship a single Parthiva Linga daily, because it is equivalent to the worship of the whole world. Nobody is barred from worshipping Shiva, except the people whose ancestors had been cursed by the sages like Dadhichi, Gautam. Such people should also worship the eight idols (earth, water, fire, air, sky, sun, moon and the host) alongwith the Parthiva linga. A brahmin should worship Parthiva linga as per the methods described in the vedas. Worship should be done, facing north.

IMPORTANCE OF NAIVEDYA AND BILVA-LEAVES

Suta then described about the important of Naivedya offered to Lord Shiva.

"A devotee gets liberated from all of his sins merely at the sight of the Naivedya, which have been offered to lord Shiva. He attains great virtues by having the Prasada."

A man must not accept the Prasada if the worship have been done under supervision of a 'Chandala', but some of the Shivalingas like Banlinga, Siddhalinga and Swayambhu Linga are exceptions to this rule. The prasada which has been offered to the Shivalinga and remains lying on it, is prohibited from having, but the prasad which is not touching the Shivalinga should be accepted.

Bilva fruit is considered to be a form of lord Shiva Its greatness has been eulogized even by the deities himself. It is believed that all the places of pilgrimages, dwell in the Bilva-leaf. Lord Shiva is believed to have his abode in the roots of the Bilva tree. A devotee who waters the roots of the Bilva tree attains greater virtues than offering water to the deities of all the places of pilgrimages. Similarly a devotee who worships the roots of the Bilva tree attains to the abode of lord Shiva.

Suta then goes on he explain the greatness of Shiva's name and the importance of Bhasma (ash) and rudraksha beads in his worship. The name of Shiva is as sacred as Ganges. Similarly 'Bhasma' and 'Rudraksha' are as holy as the rivers Yamuna and Saraswati. Therefore a devotee who possesses the name of lord Shiva on his lips, who applies Bhasma on his person and who wears a rudraksha in his neck attain the virtues similar to that of taking a bath in the sangam. In  ancient times, a king by the name of Indrayumna got liberated from the bondages of the world, just by chanting the name of Shiva.

THE IMPORTANCE OF BHASMA (ASH) IN SHIVA'S WORSHIP

Bhasma are of two types:-1) Maha Bhasma and 2) Swalpa Bhasma.

'Shrota' (listener), 'Smart; (rites according to the smritis) and Laukik (worldly) are considered to be the Maha Bhasma. There are many types of Swalpa Bhasma.

'Shrota' and 'Smart' are meant only for the brahmins. For the rest of the castes, 'Laukik Bhasma' is appropriate. A brahmin must apply Bhasma, only after initiating it with the mantras. The ashes which remains after burning dry cowdung is called Agneya Bhasma. Applying 'Tripunda' on the forehead with the ashes after the completion of Yagya, is to the Upanishad rituals like Sandhya and Japa should only be performed after applying tripunda on the forehead.

IMPORTANCE OF RUDRAKSHA

Rudraksha is very dear to lord Shiva and hence all the sins of a man get destroyed if he chants the name of Lord Shiva using a Rudraksha beads. He also attains salvation after his death. It is believed that the origin of Rudraksha is connected with Shiva penance.

Once while Sadashiv was performing his penance, his eyes opened due to some disturbances. He was so remorseful that tears rolled down from his eyes. These tear-drops are believed to be the origin of the Rudraksha trees.

Rudraksha of specific colours have been prescribed for different castes. For example a Brahmin, a Kshatriya, a Vaishya and a Shudra have been instructed to put on Rudraksha of white colour, red colour, yellow colour and black colour respectively.

A person who wears eleven hundred Rudraksha on his body, he unites with Shiva. Rudrakshas are of various types i.e. Ekmukha Rudraksha (one opening) to rudraksha with fourteen openings. Each type of rudraksha has specific mantra and specific deity connected with it.

PART TWO RUDRA SAMHITA

SRISHTI-KHAND

The sages express their desire of knowing about the manifestation of Shiva and Uma, their marriage and their life as a householder and the other aspects of Shiva's divinity

Suta narrated the story of Narada's attachment and lust - how they were ultimately destroyed. He also narrated of Narada's deep desire to know about Shiva.

VICTORY OF NARADA OVER 'KAMA'

Once upon a time a Narada was performing a penance in the cave of Himalaya mountain. Indra becoming fearful sent Kamadev to obstruct his penance. But Kamadeva was unsuccessful in his attempt as the place where Narada was doing penance was the same place where Lord Shiva did penance. After the completion of his penance, Narada became arrogant that he had defeated Kamadeva. He went to Kailash mountain and narrated about his feat to Lord Shiva. Narada was naïve not to realize the fact hat is happened only because of the divine power of Shiva.

Lord Shiva listened to his arrogant statement. He advised Narada not to reveal this secret to anybody. But Narada went to Brahmaloka and boasted about his feet to Lord Brahma.

Lord Brahma listened to his boisterous statements and advised him not to reveal this to anybody.

But Narada was not satisfied. He wanted to give the news of his achievement to Lord Vishnu. So, he went to Lord Vishnu's abode and boasted about his feat of defeating Kamdeva.

Lord Vishnu with a desire to subdue his inflated ego, manifested his illusionary power with the blessings of Lord Shiva.

While Narada was returning from Vaikuntha Loka, he saw a beautiful city. This city was ruled by a king named Sheelnidhi. The king had a daughter and her Swayamvar was being organised. Numerous kings had arrived to take part in that Swayamvar. Narada, curiously entered the place were Swayamvar was being held. The king requested Narada to study the lines of the palm of the princess. Narada was infatuated by the princess’ beauty. He returned back to Lord Vishnu and expressed his desire of marrying that princess. He also requested Vishnu to make him as handsome as himself (Vishnu).

Lord Vishnu made Narada's whole body very beautiful except his face. Which he made like a monkey. Narada being unaware of this happily went back to Swayamvar site. Narada sat among the kings - his face resembling like a monkey Lord Vishnu too was present there. The princess saw Narada, whose face was looking like a monkey. She was amused. Ultimately she put the garland around the neck of Lord Vishnu and went to Vaikuntha Loka alongwith him.

Some of the Shiva's gana too were present there in the guise of a brahmin. Their names were Marud ganas. When they saw Narada to see the reflection of his face in the water.

When Narada saw his face in the water, he saw that he was looking like a monkey. He became very furious and cursed the Marudganas to be the born as demons, even though being brahmins by birth.

Furious Narada then went to Lord Vishnu and cursed him- "You too would suffer due to separation from your wife, during your incarnation of Rama and the monkey would come to your help.

Lord Vishnu accepted Narada's curse without any hesitation. He then removed the illusionary powers by which Naradas' mind was influenced. Now Narada regretted his actions. Lord Vishnu told Narada that everything happened because of Shiva's divine illusions.

"You did not pay heed to his advice and hence Shiva by his illusions, has taught you a lesson. Shiva is beyond the reach of the three basic qualities -Satva, Rajas and Tamas. Therefore you must worship and contemplate on the name of Shiva. All of your sins will be destroyed.

After preaching Narada, Lord Vishnu vanished from his sight. Narada then descended down to earth and while having darshan of numerous Shivalingas, he saw two of the Marudganas, whom he had cursed. He told both of them that they would take birth from a giantess's womb, but their father would be sages. He also told them that they would become very famous due to their devotion, Narada went to lord Brahma and requested him to tell about the divinity of Shiva.

BRAHMA PREACHES NARADA ON ORIGIN OF VISHNU AND BRAHMA

On Narada's request Brahma said-

"During the period of MahaPralaya (Final annihilation) nothing exist, except Shiva. The power which Shiva manifested from his own self came to be known as Ambika. This Ambika is understood to be the cause of the whole world as well as the Nature. Lord Shiva then created a Shivaloka, which is known as Kashi. It is the abode of Shiva and Parvati. A man who makes a pilgrimages of Kashi attains salvation.

Lord Shiva, felt the need of somebody, who could look after the creation in his absence, as he wanted to retire along with Ambika at Kashi. The unified energy of Shiva and Ambika, resulted into a radiant physical form of a child. The child asked Shiva about his name and purpose of his being.

Lord Shiva named the child as Vishnu and advised him to do a penance which would help him to attain all kinds of accomplishment. He then offered him the knowledge of Vedas, through his breath. For this reason it has been said-

"YASYA NISHVASITAM VEDAH " Meaning: Whose exhaled air is Veda.

Vishnu followed the instruction of Shiva and did a tremendous penance for twelve years, but still he was not successful in having a darshan of lord Shiva for the second time. He became worried. He heard a heavenly voice, instructing him to do further penance.

Vishnu then recommenced his penance. It continued for many days. By the blessings of Shiva, numerous fountain of streams errupted from his body, which spread in all directions in the form of Brahma. Vishnu was very pleased to see that stream. He went to sleep in that streams due to which he also came to be known as 'Narayan'. One who has his abode in the water. After that, all the five elements manifested from his self. The three qualities- Salva, Rajos and Tamas as well as the ego manifested from his body. Similarly, five Tanmantras (Subtle form of matter), Panchabhuta (Sky water, air, fire and earth) and ultimately five sense organs and five organs of action also manifested from. Altogether twenty-four types of element manifested from the body of Sri Vishnu.

Brahma told Narada-

"While Vishnu was sleeping in the water, a lotus flower manifested from the navel of Vishnu according to the wish of Shiva. On that lotus was seated with four heads. I did not see anything except that lotus flower. I had a desire to know about my identity. So I entered into the hollow tubular stalk of that lotus flower, but I was not able to find the source. I returned back to the same place. Suddenly I heard a voice which instructed me to do penance. I did a tremendous penance for twelve years with a desire to know about my creator. Being pleased with me, lord Vishnu manifested before me with in his Chaturbhuj form, but I could not identify him, being influenced by the illusionary power of Shiva. I quarreled with him."

SIVA ENDS BRAHMA – VISHNU  DISPUTE AND SHABDA BRAHMA

"I asked him as to who he was. Vishnu replied that he was the fulfiller of all of his desires. But I replied to him that I only was the creator, nurturer and the supreme soul of this world. Vishnu became angry and said that undoubtedly I (Brahma) was the creator of this world, but he (Vishnu) was the one, who had created me (Brahma) and the whole world. Vishnu also ordered me to take his refuge and promised to protect me. But being an ignorant I did not believe him. A fierce battle was fought between both of us. A Shivalinga manifested between us to end the battle. We requested that Shivalinga to show its real identity. That Shivalinga had destroyed our pride."

We heard a sound OM. We became curious to know the origin of that sound. Vishnu saw a letter 'A' towards the south of that Shivalinga. He also saw the letters 'U' and 'M' center towards the north of the Shivalinga and in its center respectively. He also saw the mantra 'OM', which was dazzling like a Sun. There was no beginning and end to this mantra OM. As we were making efforts to know about its origin, suddenly Shiva appeared in the form of a sage. He gave us the knowledge regarding OM. He also revealed to us that I originated from the letter 'A', Vishnu originated from letter 'U' and Shiva himself originated from letter M. The letter A signifies creation, U Signifies nurturement and M signifies salvation.

The three letters A, V and M also symbolizes the basic causes of creation. A or brahma also symbolizes the semen, U or Vishnu symbolizes the Vagina and the sound of OM is Maheshwar- the combined sound of A, U and M. All the three united from which manifested a golden egg. This golden egg remained submerged in the water for one thousand years. The almighty then cut that egg into two halves, from which appeared heaven and Earth. We also saw the divine beauty of Maheshwar."

Then we saw all the vowels and consonants emanating from the physique of Mahadeva. Vishnu saw the forty eight letters within OMKAR, which in fact were the two following mantras- "TAT PURUSHAY VIDDYAMAHE MAHADEVAY DHIMAHI, TANNO RUDRAH PRACHODAYAT." And "TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM BHARGO DEVASYA DHIMAHI DHIYO YONAH PRACHODAYAT."

"After that we also received the Mahamrityunjay mantras like 'OM JOOM SAH", "HRAUM HRIM JOOM SAH" and "TRAYAMBAKAM YAJAMAHE". After that we received the five lettered mantra "OM NAMAH SHIVAY", the chintamani mantra 'KSHAMYAUM', the Dakshainamurti mantra - "OM NAMO BHAGAVATE DAKSHAINAMURTAYE MAHYAM MEGHAM PRAYACHCHHA SWAHA. At last we received the great mantra TATVAMASI. Vishnu was so enchanted by this mantra that he started chanting this mantra. We then prayed to Shiva-the creator, the nurturer and the destroyer.

"Shiva became very pleased with both of us. He preached us the contents of Veda. Shiva told Vishnu about the methods by which his (Shiva's) worship could be done. He revealed to us that Vishnu actually had manifested from the left portion of his Shiva's body and myself from the right portion of his body. He also blessed us that he would manifest his incarnation of Rudra from our body and also that the purpose of this incarnation would be to do annihilation. Lord Shiva revealed to us that his consort Uma, was in fact mother Nature and her power in the incarnation of Saraswati would be my consort. Lakshmi, who would also manifest from the nature would be the consort of Vishnu."

Brahma told Narada:-

"Lord Shiva informed us that my day consists of four thousand eras and similarly my night too consists of four thousand eras. Since a month consists of thirty days and a year consists of twelve months. In this way my age was fixed to be of one hundred years. One day of Vishnu is equivalent to one year of Brahma. Vishnu's age too was fixed to be of one hundred years. The day of Rudra is equivalent to one year of Vishnu and his age also was fixed to be of one hundred years.

THE METHODS OF WORSHIPPING SHIVA

On the request of the sages, Suta retold the preaching which had been narrated by Brahma to Narada. Describing the method of Shiva worship he says-

"A devotee should get up early in the morning and contemplate on Shiva, who gives benediction. After that, he should finish his daily routing work and perform rituals like 'Sandhya' and Vandana etc. After that, he should worship Shivalinga according to vedic rites like Panchopachar, Sodashopachar etc. He should also perform 'Abhiseka' with various offerings. At last, the should beg pardon for his sins."

Once, Brahma went to 'Kshirsagar' (the abode of Vishnu) accompanied by the deities and asked lord Vishnu how a man could be liberated from his sorrows. Lord Vishnu told them that this objective could be met by worshipping Shivalinga.

All the deities, then prayed to lord Shiva, who after becoming pleased instructed 'Vishwakarma' to construct a Shivalinga for them. Vishwakarma then made a Shivalinga for Kubera, a Shivalinga of yellow diamond for Dharmaraj, a Shivalinga of dark coloured diamond for Varuna, a Shivalinga of Indraned diamond for Vishnu and a goldden Shivalinga for Brahma. Similarly Vishwadeva was given a Shivalinga made up of silver, the Ashwini Kumars were given Shivalinga made up of bronze, Lakshmi was given a Shivalinga made up of Crystal (Sphatik), Sun-god was given a Shivalinga made of copper and the moon was given a Shivalinga made of pearl.

Brahma has described the following methods for the worship of Shivalinga-

"After performing the rituals like 'Achaman' and Pranayama a devotee should apply a tripunda on his forehead and wear a rudraksha on his body. After the study of Shanti-path and the performance of Devata-Namaskar, he should make a resolution if he has any wish to be fulfilled. Then the worship of Shivalinga should be done, with the help of Mahima-Stavan and offering flowers to the Shivalinga. The purity of the mantras should be maintained while chanting them.

It has been mentioned in the ShivaPurana that making offerings in the form of lotus, Shatapatra, Shankhapushpi, the leaves of wood apple tree, helps a man in attaining wealth and prosperity. For becoming free from disease, fifty lotus flowers should be offered to the Shivalinga. Mrityunjay-Japa should be chanted for five lac times, for all types of accomplishment. One lakh dhatura-fruits should be offered for long life, worldly-pleasure, as well as for attaining salvation.

THE ORIGIN OF KAILASH AND VAIKUNTH

Brahma revealed to Narada how the process of creation commenced-

"After Lord Shiva vanished from our sight, I transformed myself into the appearance of a swan and Vishnu transformed his appearance into that of a boar with the purpose of commencing the process of creation. First of all, I created the water. I poured a palmful of water into it and an egg manifested which consisted of all the twenty four elements. This egg was very enormous in size which made me confused. I did penance for twelve years. Vishnu appeared before me. I requested him to bring that egg to consciousness. Vishnu entered into that egg. As a result of this, Kailash mountain, and all the seven worlds came into existence. After that the static living things were created, which symbolized the dark quality (Tamas guna). After that I created four footed animals like cows and Ox etc. inspite of these creations, I was not satisfied, so I again went into meditation.

As a result the deities were created which symbolized the virtuous quality (Satvaguna). Once again I meditated and the human species came into existence, which symbolized the medium quality (Rajas guna). With the permission of Lord Shiva, I then created spirits like ghosts etc. After that I created my five Manasputras- Sanak, Sanadan etc. But they were so ascetic and detached from the world that they showed their disinclination in contributing in the process of creation. This made me angry, tears rolled down from my eyes. With the permission of Vishnu, I did a tremendous penance to have a darshan of lord Shiva.

THE EMERGENCE OF RUDRAVATAR  AND CREATION

Brahma said to Narada-

"When I accomplished my penance, Lord Shiva manifested in his incarnation of Rudra from in between the eyebrows. Half of his body resembled like that of a woman (Ardhanarishwar). I requested him help me in my creational activities. Rudra created his hosts (Rudragana) who resembled like him. I requested him to create the mortals, to which he laughed and said, that he liberated mortals from their sorrow, so how could he fasten them with bondages. Rudra requested me to create the mortals and then he vanished.

Preaching Narada on the essence of Shivatattva, Brahma said-

"With the permission of Shiva, I created the five basic elements from which the matter is made and also all types of arts. I also created the time. Despite all these creations, I was not satisfied. I created Sage Marichi from my eyes, Sage Bhrigu from my heart, Sage Angira from my head, Sage Pulaha from my Vyan Vayu, Sage Pulatsya from my Udan Vaya, Sage Vashishtha from my Saman Vayu, Sage Kratu from my Apan Vayu, Sage Atri from my ear, Daksha Prajapati from my vital air. You (Narada) manifested from my lap. Sage Kardam and Dharma manifested from my Shadow. Then I divided my body into two parts, and from each of the two parts. Manu and Shatarupa manifested respectively. Both of them got married and in this way commenced the conjugal creation. Priyavrata and Uttanpad were the two sons born to them. Shatarupa also gave birth to three daughters whose names were Akuti Devahuti and Prasuti. Sage Ruchi was married to Akuti, Sage Kardam was married to Devahuti and Daksha Prajapati was married to Prasuti. Sage Yagya and Dakshaina were born to sage Ruchi and Akuti."

"Numerous daughters were born to sage Kardam and Devahuti. Similarly twenty-four daughters were born to Daksha and Prasuti. Daksha married thirteen of his dhauthers to Dharma.

The rest of his daughters were married to sages like Pulastya etc. All the three worlds are inhabited by the progenies of these sages. The same Daksha Prajapati had sixty daughters in another Kalpa, who were married to sages like Kashyapa, etc. In this Kalpa, 'Sati was one of his daughters who was married to Lord Shiva. 'Sati' being distressed by the disrespect sown by her father-Daksha, to her husband-Shiva, had given up her life, by jumping into the sacrificial fire. In her next birth she was born as Parvati and was again married to Shiva. This way, I created this world with the permission of Shiva."

GUNANIDHI - THE BRAHMINS' SON

Narada asked lord Brahma, when did lord Shiva make Kailash as his abode and what was the reason of friendship between Shivaji and Kubera. Brahma narrated the following story- - There used to live a brahmin by the name Yagyadutt in Kampilyanagar, who was proficient in the performance of Somyagya. He had a son named Gunanidhi. Though he was a scholar but at the same time he was irreligious and kept bad company. He used to indulge in evil activities like gambling.

His father - Yagyadutt was unaware of his evil activities. Whenever he asked his wife about Gunanidhi habits and conduct, his wife used to tell lies and praised the conduct of Gunamidhi. Thus Gunamidhi's condition became worst day by days.

Yagyadutt married Gunanidhi with a girl belonging to a well to do family. But his habits had not changed. His mother tried her best to make him understand, but it was of no avail.

One day Yagyadutt saw, a gambler wearing his ring. He asked him about that ring. The gambler told him that his son - Gunanidhu had lost it to him, in the gamble. He also informed him that he had also lost numerous ornaments and other properties in the gamble.

Yagyadutt became very angry. He married with another woman after abandoning his wife and son.

When Gunadhi came to know about his father's second marriage, he moved to another place, cursing his fate. He kept on walking till he became tired. He sat under a tree and started thinking about his further course of action. He heart was full of remorse and he repented for his past actions. As his mind was engrossed in such kind of thoughts. He saw somw villages going towards temple. They were carrying prasad in their hands.

"Since Gunanidhi was hungry, he followed them and after reaching the temple he sat at the main gate of the temple. IN the night, after the accomplishment of the Pujan, the devotees went to sleep. Gunanidhi entered the premise went to sleep. Gunanidhi entered the premise of the temple. The flame of the lamp was gradually becoming dim as the result of which he could not see properly. He tore some pieces of cloth, he was wearing and made a thick wick and put it in the lamp. Now the light was sufficient to enable him to see whatever had been offered to the deity."

"He carried as much fruits and other eatables as possible and tried to sneak out from the temple. Unfortunately, he dashed against a devotee woke up and chased him shouting thief-thief."

"Hearing his cries all the other devotees woke up and caught Gunanidhi. He was given such a nice thrashing that proved to be fatal and as a result Gunanidhi died."

The Yamadut's arrived to take his soul to yamloka. But right then, the Shivaganas arrived and prevented the Yamadutas from carrying his soul. They informed the Yamdutas that Gunanidhi was entitled for Shivaloka as he had devoutly observed the Shivaratri fast, had listened to the tales of Shiva and lighted up the lamp which was about to go off. The Shivaganas also informed the Yamadutas that, in his next birth Gunamidhi would become the king of Kalinga."

"In this way Gunanidhi attained to Shivaloka. In his next birth he was born as a son of king Arindam- the king of Kalinga. He was named as Dama." "When he was still young, his fatherArindam dies. So Dama succeeded him as the king of Kalinga. He renovated all the Shiva temple, which came under his jurisdiction and passed a decree which made the worship of lord Shiva compulsory for all the subjects. By the blessings of lord Shiva, he became the king of Alkapuri and was known as Kubera."

"During the Padma kalpa, Sage Vishrawa was born to sage Pulastya- the manasputra of lord Brahma. Vishrawa's son - Vishrawan ruled over Alkapuri for a long time. This city was constructed by the deity Vishwakarma. Vishrawan was a great devotee of Lord Shiva." "During the kalpa named Meghawahan, Gunanidhi did a tremendous penance for ten lac years. As a result of this penance his body was reduced to skelton."

"Lord Shiva became very pleased with him and appeared before him, accompanied by his consort Parvati. He told Gunanidhi to ask for any boon, which will be fulfilled." "When Gunanidhi heard Shiva's voice he opened his eyes, but his eyes were dazzled by the sheer radiance of lord Shiva. He requested Shiva to restore the power of sight in his eyes. Shiva blessed him, as a result of which he was now able to see the divine sight of lord Shiva. But he became jealous of Uma, who was present by the side of Shiva. He was wondering as to who was this lady, dearer to Shiva than him. He glanced cruelly towards her. As a result of this his left eye lost the power of sight." "Parvati asked lord Shiva as to why was this sage (Gunanidhi) looking cruelly towards her. Shiva replied- "He is none other than your son. He is looking at you in astonishment as he his bewildered at the feats achieved your penance." "Lord Shiva then blessed Gunanidhi to become the king of the kings. He also assured him that he will always be present in the vicinity of Alkapuri. After being blessed by Shiva, Gunanidhi also made salutations to Parvati.

Parvati said-

"Since you have looked at me angrily your hatred and enemity (Bair) towards me was clearly visible. For this reason you will be known as Kuberas." After blessings, Gunanidhi both Shiva and Parvati to a place called Vaishveshwar. Kailash mountain was situated near Alkanagri.

SHIVA GOES TO KAILASH

When Rudra - the Ansha of the Almighty Brahma, heard about the tremendous penance, Kubera was doing he started to play his 'damaru' (drum), the sound of which reached all the three worlds. Rudra then reached the place where Kubera was doing penance."

"Hearing the sound of his damaru, all the deities including Brahma, Vishnu and Sadashia appeared before him."

"When Kubera saw lord Rudra before himself, he offered his seat to him and worshipped him. He also worshipped the other deities. Rudra was so pleased with Kubera that he decided to stay near him. He called Vishwakarma and ordered him to conduct his abode at Kailash mountain, so that he could live in could live in the vicinity of his great devotee Kubera. Kubera constructed a beautiful city as per his instruction. An auspicious moment was chosen and Shiva went to live at Kailash mountain. He was coronated by the deities." Brahma in this way told Narada about Shiva's departure to Kailash mountain.

SATI KHAND

In the Sati Khand of Rudra-Samhita, Narada enquires lord Brahma about the reason, why lord Shiva married Sati, inspite of being a 'yogi'. He also requested Brahma to tell, how Sati became the daughter of Daksha Prajapati and in her next birth as Uma the daughter of Himalaya. How did Uma get lord Shiva as her husband?- asked Narada

Lord Brahma narrated the following tale-

"A girl by the name of Sandhya manifested from my being. I was amazed by her heavenly beauty. Right then a divine entity appeared before me, whose beauty could not have been matched even by the deities. He was Kamadeva- the god of love. He influenced me to such an extent that I forgot that Sandhya was my daughter and got infatuated by her."

"When Rudra came to know about my lust for Sandhya, he admonished me and ridiculed about my character. I felt ashamed. But I also became jealous of Rudra. I decided to influence him with the power of infatuation, but I was unsuccessful in my attempts. I remembered lord Vishnu and he tried to make me understand about the futility of my attempts, as according to him (Vishnu), Rudra was beyond the reach of any human emotions."

"But I instructed my son - Daksha to help in the procreation of a girl child from the womb of Ashwinivirini. Thus Sati was born. Sati later on became famous of Uma and got Rudra as her husband on account of her tremendous penance."

"Though Rudra was free from all kinds of attachment, but still he became so influenced by the desire for procreation that he married with Sati. He enjoyed a blissful married life for a very long time."

"Rudra father in law, Daksha in his arrogance started condemning his son in law -Rudra. Once, Daksha organised a grand yagya ceremony. He gave invitation to everybody except Rudra and Uma. Despite of Rudra's disinclination to allow Sati to go to her father's yagya, She insisted and ultimately she was successful in convincing Rudra, to allow her to go."

"When Sati reached there, she was not given respect by her father Daksha. Not only this, Daksha made fun of Rudra. Feeling dishonored, Sati gave up her life by jumping into the sacrificial fire."

"When Rudra got the news of Sati's death he became extremely furious. To take revenge, he created Veerbhadra from his locks of hair. Veerbhadra went to Daksha place and destroyed his oblation site. He severed Daksha's head. All the deities became afraid and prayed to Rudra, to have mercy. Rudra then brought back Daksha to life and helped him the accomplished of the still incomplete Yagya. The site where Sati had died later on became famous as Jwalamukhi devi."

"The same Sati in her next birth was born as Parvati to Himalaya. By her tremendous penance she again got lord Shiva as her husband.

After that lord Brahma told Narada about the manifestation of Kama, the god of love.

MANIFESTATION OF 'KAMA'  WHO IS CURSED BY BRAHMA

"When I became infatuated by the divine beauty of Sandhya, my infatuation resulted into the manifestation of my another Manas-putra named Kamadeva. His beauty and qualities were incomparable. His manifestation not only inflicted me with lust, but also my other Manasputras became filled up with lust. Kamadeva made salutations to me and asked as to what was his name and purpose of being. I gave him the name 'Pushpavan' and instructed him to help in the process of procreation. I also blessed him that nobody would remain unaffected by his influence including myself and Vishnu."

After being named by lord Brahma as 'Pushpavan', Kamadeva was also given various names as Manmath, Kama, Madan etc by sages like Mareech, etc. They also said to him that he would be married to 'Rati' the daughter of Daksha.

Kamadeva himself was infatuated with the beauty of Sandhya. To test the authenticity of Brahma's boon, Kamadeva took out his five arrows and wanted to examine their power. The names of their arrows were Harshan, Rochan, Mohan, Shoshan and Maran.

These arrows had effect on all the people present there including lord Brahma and Sandhya. Getting affected by those arrows, fourty nine types of thoughts emerged in Brahma's mind. Similarly, flaws were clearly visible in Sandhya's behaviour.

Kamdeva became convinced of his powers and capabilities. But Dharma - the manasputra of Brahma was saddened by this event. He prayed to lord Shiva.

When Lord Shiva saw the condition of Brahma, he became amused and made fun of him and his Manasputras. Everybody was ashamed.

Due to his shame, Brahma perspired profusely. From his perspiration were created the Pitraganas. Similarly from the perspiration of Daksha Prajapati was created the most beautiful woman Rati.

Brahma was very angry with Kamadeva because of whom he was ridiculed by Shiva. He cursed him and said- "You would be charred to death by the arrow of Shiva."

Kamadeva became very scarred and said that he was only testing the authenticity of his boon and he had no other evil intention. He also requested Brahma, not to curse him.

Feeling Pity on him, Brahma consoled him that, although he would definitely get killed by the arrow of Shiva's sight, yet he would regain his physical body as soon as Shiva get's married. Lord Brahma then went to Brahmaloka.

Daksha requested Kamadeva to get married with his daughter Rati. Kamadeva was very pleased at this proposal. Both Kamadeva and Rati got married.

SANDHYA DOES PENANCE  AND GETS BOON FROM SHIVA

Sandhya was very ashamed of herself. For the atonement of her sin she decided to do penance. She went to Chandrabhaga mountain and commenced her tremendous penance.

Lord Brahma then instructed Vashishtha to go to her in disguise and help in getting her initiated. He went to Chandrabhaga mountain in the guise of a brahmin and gave the mantra - OM NAMAH SHANKARAYA OM to her and also told her the methods of doing worship, then he returned back.

After sage Vashishtha who was disguised as brahmin went away. Sandhaya did penance as per his instructions. After the passing of one Chaturyuga, she had a darshan of lord Shiva.

Shiva being pleased by her devotion asked her to demand anything. Sandhya said-

"Nobody should have lust towards the member of his own clan. There should be no virtuous and chaste woman greater then me in this whole world. Anybody other than my husband who looks at me with evil intentions become an impotent man."

Lord Shiva blessed her by saying- 'Evamastu!'

Lord Shiva then categorised the life-span of a man into four parts - childhood, adolescence, youth and old age. He than told her that it was written in her destiny to die by burning. He also advised her to go and surrender her body in the sacrificial fire of the yagya, performed by Medhatithi. "Before jumping into the sacrificial fire, just remember anybody, whom you want as your husband, and your wish would be fulfilled in your next birth, when you would take birth as a daughter of Daksha Prajapati. Your father Daksha Prajapati would marry his 27 twenty daughter to Moon, but the moon would have affection only towards Rohini and rest of his wives would be neglected by him. For this reason he would be cursed by Daksha. All the deities would take your refuge."

After blessing Sandhya in the way lord Shiva went back to Kailash mountain.

SANDHYA BORN AS ARUNDHATI AND MARRIES SAGE VASHISHTHA

When lord Shiva went away. Sandhya got up and went to the place where Medhatithi was performing his yagya. She made a mental resolution to have that brahmin as her husband, who in reality was Vashishtha and then entered into the sacrificial fire. The fire of the yagya burnt her body and carried it ti the solar-system, where it was divided by the sun-god into three parts and established in his chariot. The names of these three parts were Pratah-Sandhya, Madhyanha-Sandhya and Sayam-Sandhya. Sandhya’s vital force was absorbed by lord Shiva.

When the yagya ended, the sages were surprised to see the presence of a girl, who was radiating like gold in the sacrificial fire. They took out that girl child from that yagya-kunda. The sages then brought up that girl with love and affection. She was named Arundhati.

When she attained the age of five, Brahma Vishnu and Mahesg arrived and married her with Vashishtha. Arundhati enjoyed a happy life and became famous for her chastity.

Brahma told Narada that since the day he was humiliated by Shiva, he had grudges against him and wanted to take revenge. "I wanted to subdue the arrogance of Shiva by proving it to him that even he could be binded by attachment. I asked Daksha and sages like Mareech as to how this feat could be achieved. As a result 'Rati' and 'Kama' manifested. I instructed Kama to influence Shiva by his powers. Kama agreed but requested me to create a suitably divine women for Shiva. Myself and Daksha became worried and during that time we exhaled fragrant air through our nostrils, which resulted into the creation of spring season. The spring season was looking divinely beautiful in her physical form. I handed over her to Kama and thus all the three of them (spring season, Kama and Rati) went to influence lord Shiva who was in his deep state of meditation.

CREATION OF MARGANAS AND KAMA'S FUTILE ATTEMPTS

Kama tried his best to bring lord Shiva under his influence. All the living creatures were spell bound by his powers except lord Shiva and Ganesha.

Kama returned back to Brahma ad told him about his unsuccessful attempts. Brahma sighed heavily. From his sighes were created the ferocious ganas. These ganas were shouting ''aray-maray''(kill-kill). They even tried to attack lord Brahma, Kama then pacified the anger of these ganas. These ganas were named as Mar.

Lord Brahma then sent these ganas to Shiva along with Kama and Rati to give it a second try. Once again their attempts went futile. All of them returned to lord Brahma and expressed their inability in influencing Shiva.

Lord Brahma then remembered Vishnu, who appeared instantaneously. Brahma revealed about his intentions to him. LordVishnu told him that it was foolishness on his part to have enemity towards Shiva. But when lord Brahma kept on insisting, he revealed to him that this could be only achieved by the blessings of Goddess Parvati. Lord Vishnu said-

"If she becomes pleased with you, then she could help you in achieving your goal by taking birth in a human form and having Shiva as her husband. Instruct Daksha to do penance so that Parvati takes birth in his house."

DURGA BORN AS DAKSHA'S DAUGHTER SATI

After Lord Vishnu went away, Lord Brahma started meditating on the form of goddess Durga. She appeared before him. Lord Brahma said-

"I need your help in binding Shiva with your maya."

Goddess Durga told Brahma that Lord Shiva in his incarnation of Rudra was beyond the reached of any kind of Maya. But when Brahma kept in insisting then goddess Durga agreed to help him in his effort. She said-

"I will take birth as the daughter of Daksha Prajapati and try to please him by my penance."

After assuring Lord Brahma she vanished. Lord Brahma too went to his abode.

With the permission of lord Brahma, Daksha did penance for three thousand years. As a result goddess Jagdamba appeared before him. She blessed him by saying that she would take birth as his daughter and by her tremendous penance would attain Rudra as her husband. But she warned Daksha that if he showed any kind of disrespect to her, she would end her life.

With the permission of lord Brahma, Daksha Prajapati created many thing just by his mental resolution. But finding the absence of any kind of evolution and development in them, he went to Brahma to take his advice.

Brahma instructed him to create by the help of copulation. Daksha Prajapati then married Asikti - the daughter of Panchajan. Ten thousand sons, including Haryasya were born to them, but all of them were directed by Narada to follow the path of salvation.

After that, Daksha married Panchajani from whom were born thousand of son, but all of them followed the path of salvation and were not interested in creation. Narada was instructed in changing their mind.

Daksha Prajapati became very furious with Narada and cursed him to become an eternal wandered. He said-

"You will never remain at a place for long."

When lord Brahma came to know about Daksha Prajapati's anger towards Narada he went to him and cooled him down. Subsequently sixty daughters were born to Daksha. He married his ten daughters with Dharma, thirteen daughters with Kasyap. Twenty seven daughters with Moon, two daughters with Bhutangiras, two daughters with Krishashva and the remaining six daughters with Garuda. Daksha mediated on the form of Bhagawati, and was instructed by her to do penance. Daksha did a tremendous penance and thus was born Uma to Daksha and Virani. Uma was brought up with great love and affection. Uma used to worship lord Shiva by singing devotional songs in his praise.

SATI DOES PENANCE—SHIVA MARRIES SATI

When Sati attained marriageable age, Daksha started worrying. Sati understood the reason behind her father's worried. She went to her Mother Virani and expressed her desire of marrying lord Shiva.

Her mother made all the arrangements so that Sati could worship Shiva without any problem. Sati commenced her austerity named Nandavrata which continued for a year. Being impressed by her austerities, all the deities descended down from heaven to see her.

All the deities and the sages requested lord Shiva to get married, but Shiva did not want to curtail his freedom by getting married. When the deities insisted he told them to find a suitable match for him.

Brahma and Vishnu told Shiva about the tremendous penance Uma was doing to him (Shiva) as her husband. They also requested him have to go to her (Uma) and fulfill her desire. Lord Shiva agreed.

After Uma had accomplished her penance named Nandavrat, lord Shiva appeared before her and asked her to demand anything. Uma because of her shyness could not say anything. Lord Shiva knew about her desire so he said-

"You will have me as your husband."

Uma's face beamed with joy, but she shyly requested lord Shiva to keep this proposal before Daksha. Shiva agreed and said- 'Tathastu'. He then went back to his abode- Kailash.

Sati narrated the whole story to her parents. Both of them became very happy with this news. Lord Shiva then instructed Brahma to put a formal proposal to Daksha regarding his marriage with Sati. Lord Brahma went and informed Daksha about lord Shiva's proposal. Daksha was very happy at the proposal. Brahma then came back to lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva was anxiously waiting for his arrival. When Lord Brahma arrived he curiously asked about Daksha's response. When lord Brahma told him about Daksha's approval of the marriage. Shiva was very pleased at this.

Lord Shiva proceeded towards Daksha's abode on the auspicious moment of Phalgun, Krishnapaksha and on the thirteenth day of Phalguni Nakshatra. Sitting on the back of Nandi and accompanied by all the deities including lord Brahma, Vishnu he reached Daksha's residence.

The marriage-procession was received by Daksha with great respect. Shiva narrated Sati in an auspicious lagna. Being pleased, all the deities eulogised Shiva and danced in joy.

LORD BRAHMA FACES THE WRATH OF SHIVA

Daksha presented invaluable things to his daughter- Sati as dowry. Similarly the brahmins were presented with large quantities of wealth.

Lord Brahma was enchanted by the divine beauty of Sati. With a desire to see her face, he put logs of wood which were wet, into the yagni kunda and poured ghee on them. As a result the atmosphere was filled up with smoke. Now Brahma removed the piece of cloth which covered her face. He became infatuated by her beauty. When lord Shiva discovered about his evil intentions he ran towards him menacingly. Lord Shiva wanted to kill him, but the deities prayed to spare his life. Lord Vishnu eulogised and worshipped him and only then his anger was subdued. Thus lord Brahma was forgiven by Shiva.

Though lord Shiva had forgiven Brahma, yet he instructed him to apologize by bowing down his head. Brahma did as he was instructed Lord Shiva then established on his head. Brahma became ashamed and asked as to how could he atone for his sins. Lord Shiva instructed Brahma that by worshipping him he could appropriately atone for his sins. He than instructed Brahma to go to the earth where he would be worshipped as 'Rudra Shir'. Shiv said-

"Your worship would help the brahmin in accomplishing every kinds of work. Taking lessons from you people would not dare to have extramarital affairs.

After reaching Kailash mountain, lord Shiva instructed all his ganas (attendants), not to disturb them (Shiva and Shakti). When all the ganas went away Shiva and Shakti enjoyed a blissful union for twenty five Deva-years.

When the rainy season arrived, Shakti requested Shiva to make a residence in such a place to that they could not be disturbed by rain etc. Lord Shiva smiled and said-

"Dear Sati! The clouds and rain will not dare to disturb if you are present by my side, no matter whereever we live - even if we live on the peaks of Himalayas.

Sati requested him to make Himalaya as his abode. Lord Shiva agreed and both if them shifted to their new abode at Himalaya, where they lived for ten thousand 'Deva-years'.

IMPORTANCE OF DEVOTION IN KALI  YUGA

Sati requested lord Shiva to enlighten her mind by giving discourses. Shiva revealed to her the importance of devotion in the Kali  Yuga. He said that the value of knowledge (jnana) and asceticism (vairagya) would diminish to the extent of extinction in the era of Kali and only devotion would help a man in attaining liberation. Lord Shiva said-

"I had burnt the time (Kala) for the benefit of the devotees, with my third eye. For the sake of my devotees, I even abandoned Ravana without any partiality. For the welfare of my devotees, I even instructed Nandi to punish sages Vyasa, who was exiled out of Kashi."

Shiva preached on many topics like types of devotion, yantra, mantra, scriptures etc.

SATI'S DOUBT ABOUT SRI RAMA

Devarshi Narada who was listening to the divine tales of Shiva, narrated by lord Brahma with rapt attention, requested him to describe about other characteristics of Shiva. Brahma said-

"Once, lord Shiva accompanies by Sati, arrived at Dandak aranya, where Sri Rama was wandering in search of Sita, who had been abducted by Ravana. After walking for some time Lord Shiva saw Sri Rama and Lakshman. Lord Shiva made salutations to Sri Rama. Sati was surprised at Shiva's behaviours. She asked lord Shiva about the reason he made salutations to Sri Rama. Shiva told Sati that he (Sri Rama) was his deity and an incarnation of lord Vishnu. But Sati was not satisfied by this reply. She wanted to test, whether Sri Rama was really an incarnation of lord Vishnu or not. She disguised herself as Sita and went to Sri Rama. But Sri Rama recognised her real identity and addressed her as Mother. Sati was ashamed but asked Sri Rama as to why did Shiva made salutations to her."

Sri Rama narrated the following story-

Once, lord Shiva requested Vishwakarma to construct a grand palace and a magnificent throne for him. When everything was ready, Shiva invited all the deities for the crowning ceremony of lord Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu was requested to be seated on the throne and was worshipped by all the deities including Shiva himself. He assured lord Vishnu that all of his (Vishnu's) incarnations would be shown respected by his (Shiva's) devotees. Rama was the incarnation of Vishnu."

Sati was now completely satisfied. She was also ashamed of herself that she had doubted Shiva's words. She went to lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva stopped looking at Sati, as her consort, because she had personified herself as mother Sita. This fact was even corroborated by a heavenly voice. Now Sati's heart was filled up with sorrows.

She followed disenchanted Shiva to the Kailash mountain, where he commenced his meditation and went into Samadhi. She sat down without saying a word. When lord Shiva came out from his Samadhi, he saw her stire sitting their. He felt pity on her and drove away her guilt and sorrows, by giving discourses.

DAKSHA'S ANIMOSITY TOWARDS SHIVA—PERFORMS YAGYA

Once, the sages organised a yagya at Prayaga, which was attended by all the deities. Lord Shiva too had come, accompanies by Sati. He was eulogized and worshipped by all the deities and the sages.

Daksha arrived there and after making salutations to lord Brahma sat down without showing any kind of respect to Shiva. After that, all the deities and the sages came and made salutations to Daksha, but Shiva sat where he was sitting.

The ignorant Daksha cursed Shiva that from now onwards his (Shiva's) share would not be kept in the yagya.

At this Nandi- the vehicle of Shiva became very angry and cursed Daksha that from today onwards the brahmins would fail to understand the essence of Vedas.

Lord Shiva then pacified Nandi's anger and both of them went back to their abode. Daksha too went back to his place and started having hatred towards Shiva.

Daksha organised a yagya at 'Kanakhal' in which everybody except Shiva and Sati were invited. Sage Dadhichi arrived and not finding the seat for Shiva went back, saying that it was impossible to accomplish a yagya without Shiva.

Then Daksha commenced the yagya with the assistance of other sages who were present there.

When Sati saw all the deities going happily, she became curious to know where they were going. She requested her companion to ask the moon as to where he was going in such a cheerful mood.

The moon told her companion that they were going to attend the yagya ceremony, being organised by Daksha.

Sati was very surprised at this information. She went to lord Shiva and sought his permission to go there. Lord Shiva then told Sati that her father did not invite them because of the animosity he was having towards him (Shiva).

Sati became very furious and decided to go there to know about the reason why Daksha was performing the yagya without inviting her husband-Shiva. Shiva sent Nandi and other rudraganas as her escorts.

SATI'S DISHONOR—GIVES UP LIFE

When Sati reached, where Daksha was performing his yagya, she met her mother and sisters. They met her with all the respect and honor. But Daksha did not even caste a glance at her. Imitating him many other people did the same.

But Sati not bothering about the disrespect shown to her made salutations to both her parents. When she reached near the yagya-mandap she saw that shares of all the deities was there except that of Shiva. She became furious and asked her father as to why was Shiva not invited to the yagya.

Daksha then made fun of Shiva and cursed him. This made her more angry and she declared that she would give up her life in everybody's presence. After the declaration her mind was engrossed by the thoughts of Shiva.

Sati then sat in padmasan and closed her yes. By her yogic powers she united with Shiva and her lifeless body fell into the yagya-kunda. This incident shocked everybody and the rudraganas furiously picked up their weapons. Right then a heavenly voice was heard.

"O mean Daksha! Share on you! You are a sinner and a fool. Now you are certain to face the wrath of Shiva. Because of your act, the deities too will have to suffer."

Daksha became scarred. He immediately eulogising lord Vishnu.

VEERBHARDA CUTS OFF DAKSHA'S HEAD

When Nandi informed Shiva about Sati's death, he became very furious. He angrily pulled out a lock of hair and dashed it against the mountain, which got divided into two parts. From one part manifested the valiant Veerbharda and from the other part Mahakali.

Veerbhadra and Mahakali were instructed by Shiva to destroy the yagya of Daksha and to kill all the people who were present during the time of Sati's death, including the deities and the sages.

After getting the instructions from lord Shiva, Veerbhardra marched with a huge army which included the mighty Shivaganas like Dakini, Bhairav and Kapalish etc. Goddess Kali to joined him with her army which consisted of all her nine incarnations like Katyayani etc. As the army marched on numerous auspicious signs were visible.

On the other hand Daksha experienced many inauspicious signs. His left eye, left army and left thigh started throbbing. He saw the vultures flying over his head. He heard the sounds of jackals howling.

Daksha then prayed to lord Vishnu to rescue him from the imminent wrath of lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu preached Daksha and said-

"Daksha! Since you have committed the greatest sin by dishonoring Shiva and Sati. Even I can not prevent the calamities which you are certain to face."

As lord Vishnu was preaching Daksha suddenly there was a loud commotion. The army of Veerbhadra had arrived. Daksha was frightened and again prayed to Vishnu to save his life.

Lord Vishnu again expressed his helplessness and told him that because of him all the deities too would have to suffer.

A terrible battle was fought between the armies of Veerbhadra and the deities. The deities got defeated and fled away. They went to lord Vishnu and sought his help. Lord Vishnu decided to fight on the side of the deities.

The battle recommenced for the second time. Lord Vishnu having a dual fight with Veerbhadra and the deities were fighting against his army.

Suddenly everybody heard a heavenly voice which said that Veerbhadra was invincible. Hearing this, Lord Vishnu and Brahma went to their respective abodes.

Daksha ran for his life and hid himself behind the attar where the yagya was being performed. But Veerbhadra pulled him out from there and severed his head. He then threw his head in the agni-kunda. After this he returned back to Kailash accompanies by his army.

KSHUVA–DADHICHI FIGHT AND VISHNU–DADHICHI FIGHT

Narada, who was listening to the divine tales of Shiva with rapt attention, was very curious to know about the reasons why lord Vishnu attended a yagya where Shiva was not invited and why did he fight a battle against Veerbhadra despite knowing about his invincibility.

Lord Brahma told him that all this happened due to the curse of Sage Dadhichi-

In the ancient times, there used to live a king named Kshuva, who was a great friend of Sage Dadhichi. Due to some reasons both of their developed animosity towards each other. Dadhichi considered himself superior because of being a brahmin, on the other hand Kshuva considered himself superior on account of his wealth. The dispute took a worst turn and Dadhichi punched him on his head. As a result Kshuva felt down unconscious. When he regained his consciousness he struck sage Dadhichi with his weapon named Vajra, which injured Dadhichi.

Dadhichi sought the help of Shukracharya. Shukracharya healed his wounds by his mantras. He also taught Dadhichi the mahamrityunjay mantra. Dadhichi then did a tremendous penance to please lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared before him and blessed him with three boons, they were 1) his bones, would become as hard as lightning (Vajra), 2) he would not be killed, 3) he would never be humiliated.

Armed with these three boons, Sage Dadhichi again went to fight Kshuva. He kicked him, in return Kshuva too attacked him with his weapon named Vajra, but it did not have any effect on Dadhichi as his bones had become as hard as lighting.

King Kshuva did a tremendous penance to please lord Vishnu. Vishnu revealed to him that Dadhichi had become immortal because of the blessings of lord Shiva, but assured him that he would certainly help him in defeating Dadhichi.

Lord Vishnu then visited the hermitage of Sage Dadhichi, disguised as a brahmin. On being asked by Dadhichi about the purpose of his arrival, he said that he had come with a desire of a boon on his heart.

Sage Dadhichi, by his yogic power came to know about the real identity of a 'Brahmin'. He told that he had been caught. Lord Vishnu was ashamed.

Lord Vishnu then went back to Kshuva and instructed him to go to sage Dadhichi and act as if he had accepted his superiority.

"Kshuva went to sage Dadhichi and did as he was instructed to do, but Dadhichi did not believe his words. Now lord Vishnu became angry and tried to kill him by his sudarshan chakra, but he was not successful, as the chakra, which was given to him by lord Shiva himself, was not willing to harm a devotee of Shiva.

"Lord Vishnu then tried to kill Dadhichi by shooting volley of arrows. The deities too attacked with their weapon. Sage Dadhichi threw a handful of Kusha grass, initiated with mantras towards them, which destroyed all the weapons of the deities."

"In the meantime lord Brahma arrived on the scene accompanies by Kshuva. He told the deities that it was futile to fight with Dadhichi as he was invincible, due to the boon given by lord Shiva."

"Ultimately King Kshuva begged his forgiveness for his offence. Dahichi forgave him but cursed Vishnu including all the deities that they would be burnt to ashes by the wrath of Rudra." "This was the reason why all the deities and lord Vishnu attended the yagya, organised by Daksha and got defeated by Veerbhadra."

DAKSHA REVIVED AND YAGYA COMPLETED

The deities after being defeated by Veerdbharda went to Brahmaloka and narrated everything about the destruction of Daksha's yagya and also how his head was severed by Veerbharda.

Brahma became very sad. To bring Daksha back to life and to accomplish the still unfinished yagya, he went to lord Vishnu to take his help. All the deities accompanied him. Lord Vishnu told them that it was wrong on the part of Daksha to have shown disrespect to Shiva. The deities were wrong to support him. Lord Vishnu then went to Kailash mountain, accompanied by Lord Brahma and all the other deities. All of them eulogized and worshipped Shiva. They also requested him to bring Daksha back to life.

Lord Shiva became very pleased and agreed to make Daksha alive. All of them went to Kanakhal where Daksha had organised the yagya ceremony. Veerbhadra accompanied them. When they reached the site, Lord Shiva could not hold his laughter after seeing the destruction of the site. Anyway, he joined the head of a goat to the torso of Daksha's body and made him alive. He also compensated for all the losses which had been caused by the destruction. All the deities became very pleased and they eulogised Shiva.

Becoming pleased by the invocation and eulogy of the deities, Lord Shiva preached Daksha in the following way-

"The person who has the right knowledge (jnani) is the supreme among all human beings. An action which is performed in one's ignorance and jealousy does not liberate a man from his world bondages.

O Daksha then accomplished his yagya singing the praise of lord Shiva. He also give lots of donation to the brahmins. They everybody returned to their respective houses being fully satisfied.

Sati, the daughter of Daksha was reborn as Gauri, the daughter of Himalaya and Maina. By her tremendous penance she again had lord Shiva as her husband.

PARVAT KHAND

HIMALAYA MARRIED MAINA

Narada requests lord Brahma to shed light on the birth of Maina and also too she was married with Himalaya.

Brahma said-

"After relinquishing her body, Sati, the daughter of Daksha attained to the abode of Shiva. In her next birth she was born to Maina, the wife of Himalaya and was known as Parvati. Maina had done great service to Sati in her previous life considering as her own daughter. For this reason she was blessed and got Parvati as her daughter. Parvati did tremendous penance and got lord Shiva as her husband."

Continuing with his story Brahma said-

"Once Himalaya, the king of the mountains, decided to marry with the desire of expanding his lineage. The deities came to know about his desires and so they went to the Pitras and requested them to give their daughter - Maina, so that Himalaya could marry her. The Pitras agreed at this proposal. Thus Maina got married wih Himalaya. After the marriage ceremony the deities returned back to their respective abodes.

Daksha had sixty daughters, 'Swadha' was one of them and was married to the Pitras. In due course of time three daughters were born to them - Maina, Dhanya and Kalawati. Once all the three of them went to Swetadweepa to have a darshan of lord Vishnu. Right then, sages like Sanak, Sanadan etc arrived there. Everybody present there stood up in reverence, but Maina, Dhanya and Kalawati could not identify who they were and hence they remained sitting. Not only that, they did not even make any salutations to them.

The sages became angry and cursed them to be born as humans in their next birth. Maina, Dhanya and Kalawati became very afraid and requested to be pardoned.

Sages Sanak feeling pity on them told that Maina would become the wife of Himalaya, in her next birth and give birth to Parvati, Similarly Dhanya would be married to king Janaka and Sita would be born to them, similarly Kalawati would be married to Vrishbhan and Radha would be born to them. Sage Sanak also told them, that in this way all three of them would attain to the heaven.

Brahma told Narada that after getting married with Maina, Himalaya enjoyed a happy married life for a long time.

Once, lord Vishnu paid a visit to his place, accompanied by all the deities. Himalaya was very pleased by his arrival. After making salutations, he asked for the purpose of their visit.

The deities revealed to them that very soon the incarnation of Sati - Parvati is going to take birth.

"Therefore, O Himalaya! Be prepared for that glorious occasion." Said the deities.

Himalaya was very pleased at this news. The deities started invocating Uma.

Being pleased by the invocation made by the deities Goddess Uma assured the deities about her arrival in this world. She told that her incarnation would take place in the house of Himalaya and by the virtues of her tremendous penance she would get lord Shiva as her husband. She also told the deities that she was satisfied by the service of Maina, done to her in the previous life. After being assured the deities went back satisfied.

BIRTH OF PARVATI

Himalaya and Maina commenced their penance with the objective of getting Uma as their daughter. Maina did a tremendous penance which lasted for twenty-seven years.

Goddess Uma became very pleased by her penance. She appeared before her and asked her to demand anything she wished for. Maina expressed her desire of having one hundred valiant sons and a daughter, who would be worshipped by the people in all the three worlds.

Goddess Uma blessed her by saying Tathastu. Maina narrated this incident to her husband Himalaya. He became very pleased. In due course of time one hundred sons were born t o Maina. One of the sons was Mainak who possessed supreme qualities. Due to some reasons, Indra had severed the wings of Mainak's ninety-nine brothers, but by taking the refuge of ocean Mainak was able to survive the assault of Indra's Vajra.

Himalaya and Maina engaged themselves in the worship of Shiva and Shakti, day and night. After some days Parvati manifested herself by taking birth. After her birth the whole mountaneous region of Himalaya became illuminated by her radiance.

After taking her birth, Parvati gradually started growing up. Varioua names given to her like Girja, Uma, and Jagdamba. Himalaya and Maina felt proud of their fate, which had made them the parents of an incarnation. Seeing the childhood plays of Uma, their hearts knew no bounds.

One day sage Narada arrived there Himalaya requested him to study the palm of Parvati, as he was curious to know about her future. After studying the lines of the palm, Narada predicted that Parvati was destined to be the wife of an entity, who would be beyond the reach of all the three qualities. He also revealed to them, that her husband would be devoid of any flaws and would be self born-Rudra.

Narada told Himalaya that to have Rudra as her husband, Parvati will have to accomplish great austerities and penance. Narada then went away.

When Uma had attained the marriagable age, Maina requested her husband a suitable bridegroom for her. Himalya told her that the words of Narada would never go in vain hence Uma should be asked to do penance, so that she could have Rudra as her husband.

But Maina was disinclined in forcing her tender daughter - Parvati in to such hardhsips like penance. Parvati then told Maina about her dream, in which she had seen a brahmin instructing her to do penance in order to have Rudra as her husband.

Maina told Himalaya about Parvati's dream. Himalaya then revealed to Maina about his own dream, in which he had seen lord Shiva doing penance at Kailash mountain. He had tried to give Parvati to him (Shiva) was unwillingly to have her service. But Shiva ultimately changed his mind after being satisfied by Parvati's replies.

Himalaya said- "I saw in my dream that Parvati had pleased Shiva by her tremendous penance and ultimately both of them got married. Maina was satisfied and waited eagerly for that auspicious moment.

THE BIRTH OF 'BHAUM'- MARS

Once, when the ganas of Shiva praised the glory of mother Sati, lord Shiva became overjoyed just like an ordinary human being. In his joy, he travelled all around the three world without any clothes on his body. He returned back to Kailash and went into meditation.

While he was engrossed in his Samadhi, three drops of perspiration originated from his forehead fell down on the earth. From those drops manifested a very beautiful infant, who was of reddish complexion and who had four arms.

Seeing the child lord Shiva became concerned about his upbringing. Right then, mother earth manifested and lord Shiva entrusted the job of child's upbringing. The child was brought up by mother earth with great love and care. The child was named 'Bhaum' as he was nurtured and brought up by 'Bhumi' (earth).

When the child grew up, he went to Kashi and did a tremendous penance to please lord Shiva Lord Shiva became pleased with him and blessed him by granting him 'Mangalloka', which was superior even to the 'Shukraloka'. The same 'Bhauma' is established in the solar system by the name of 'Mars.'

SHIVA ARRIVES AT HIMALAYA AND CONVERSATION WITH PARVATI

One day lord Shiva accompanied by his ganas like Bhringi, Nandi, etc, arrived at Himalaya, with the purpose of doing penance. When Parvati father Himalaya came to know about his arrival, he went to receive him. After he had made his salutations to Shiva, he was instructed by Shiva to see that he is not disturbed while doing his penance.

Himalaya made all the necessary arrangements so that Lord Shiva could perform his penance without being disturbed. One day Himalaya arrived at the place where lord Shiva was doing his penance. Parvati too came along with him. Himalaya requested him to keep Parvati, so that she could be at his service. Lord Shiva declined to keep her with him, fearing her presence might cause hindrance in the path of his penance. Now, Himalaya became very concerned about his daughter's future and wandered whether Parvati would remain unmarried.

When Parvati saw her father becoming worried by Shiva's response she decided to intervene. She said to lord Shiva-

"I am 'Prakriti' (Nature) and you are the 'Purusha' (almighty). You exist in the 'Sagun' form (with form) because of me. In my absence, you will find it impossible even to exist."

Lord Shiva was impressed by her knowledge. He allowed her to be present near her. Himalaya and Parvati became very pleased.

Parvati used to come daily at the place where lord Shiva was doing his penance. Her companions too used to come along. She used to engaged herself in the worship of lord Shiva with great devotion.

Though lord Shiva was very much impressed by her devotion, but he decided that he won't marry her until she has proved her mettle by her tremendous penance.

The deities were tormented by a demon named. Tarakasur. They went to lord Brahma to seek his help. Lord Brahma sends 'Kamadeva' to disturb the Samadhi of Shiva, so that being influenced by him Shiva married Parvati and ultimately kills Tarakasur.

This attempt of Brahma was unsuccessful. Shiva 'burnt' Kamadeva with the help of his third eye. Parvati, then redoubled her effort to attract the attention of Shiva by engaging herself in a tremendous penance.

THE BIRTH OF VAJRANG

Narada was curious to know about Tarakasur. He asked Brahma to narrate his tale.

Brahma said-

"Kashyapa-the son of Marichi, had thirteen wives Diti was the eldest among them. She was the mother of Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Both her sons were killed by lord Vishnu in his incarnations of Nrisimha and Varaha respectively. Diti became very sad by the death of her sons.

After somtime she again became pregnant but the foetus was destroyed by Indra's weapon- Vajra in the womb itself. However Indra was not able to destroy the foetus completely, but was only successful in dividing the foetus into forty-nine parts. These forty-nine parts, later on became famous as 'Maraudganas'.

Again Diti gave birth of Vajrang, who was very valiant and brave. When he grew up, Diti ordered him to defeat the deities. With his mother's permission and blessings, Vajrang defeated the deities and held them captive. He fastened all the deities. With strings and himself became the king of heaven.

Seeing the pitable state of the deities I (Brahma) went to Vajrang accompanied by Kashyapa and requested him to free the deities. Vajrang agreed to free them but said he did not have any aspiration of becoming the king of heaven, he only wanted to teach a lesson to Indra.

Vajrang returned the heaven to the deities. Later on the married Varanji who had been created by me (Brahma). While Vajrang was of virtuous nature, Varangi was met."

BIRTH OF TARAKASUR AND HIS PENANCE

Varangi gave birth to Tarakasur, the valiant and brave demon. During the time of his birth, the world was affected by inauspicious events like earthquakes, cyclones etc. His name Tarakasur was given by Kashyapa.

After he grew up, Tarakasur went to Madhuvan to do penance. His tremendous penance scarred the deities. Becoming pleased by his penance, lord Brahma appeared before him and asked him to demand anything.

Tarakasur demanded two boons - there should be no man as powerful as him and except Shiva's son nobody should be able to kill him. Lord Brahma blessed him by saying 'Tathastu'.

After receiving the boons, Tarakasur returned back to Ronitpur and was crowned as the king by Shukracharya. He then defeated the deities and drove them out from the heaven. Now it came under the rule of the demons.

After being driven away from the heaven, the deities went to lord Brahma to seek his help. They asked him as to how they could get rid of this menace called Tarakasur.

Brahma revealed to the deities that Tarakasur could be killed only by such a person, whose parents are Shiva and Parvati. He also advised them to make efforts, so that Shiva agrees to marry Parvati.

Lord Brahma them went to 'Tarakasur' who had now become the king of heaven, and tried to convince him to return it back to the deities. Tarakasur agreed to relinquish the heaven and give it back to the deities. The deities went back to the heaven.

KAMADEVA REDUCED TO ASHES BY SHIVA

Lord Brahma told Narada that the deities decided to send Kamadeva to influence lord Shiva so that the marriage between him and Parvati is felicitated.

Indra called Kamadeva and told him that the demon king Tarakasur could be killed only by such a person who was the son of Shiva and Parvati. Indra instructed Kamadeva to arouse passion in lord Shiva, so that he agrees to marry Parvati.

Kamadeva, accompanied by his wife Rati went to lord Shiva to accomplish his mission.

After reaching the place where lord Shiva was engrossed in his meditation, Kamadeva made repeated attempts to arouse passion in the heart of lord Shiva, but his actions were no avail.

Right then, Kamadeva saw Parvati arriving accompanied by her companions. She was looking divine in her beauty. Just at that moment lord Shiva too had come out of his meditational trance. Kamadeva thought that it was the most appropriate moment to have a go.

Kamadeva struck lord Shiva with his 'Kamabana' which did have a deep impact on him. Lord Shiva was struck by the awesome beauty of Parvati and his heart became full of passion for her. But at the same time he was surprised at the sudden change in his behaviour. He realized that it was an act of Kamadeva.

Lord Shiva looked all around him. He saw Kamadeva standing towards his left side, with a bow and arrows in his hands. Now he was fully convinceed that it was indeed an act of Kamadeva.

Kamadeva became terrified, he started remembering god, but before the deities could come at his rescue the third eye of lord Shiva got opened and Kamadeva was reduced to ashes.

Parvati got scarred after seeing Lord Shiva in such a destructive anger. She went to her house along with her companions. Rati- the wife of Kamadeva wept unconsolably.

The deities arrived and consoled her by saying that by the grace of lord Shiva, her husband would be alive once again. After that the deities went near lord Shiva and did his worship. They told him that it was not the fault of Kamadeva, as he had acted in accordance with the aspirations of the deities. They also told him the mystery of Tarakasur's death. The deities then requested him to make Kamadeva alive once again.

Lord Shiva told the deities that Kamadeva would take birth as the son of Krishna and Rukmini in the era of dwapar. A demon by the name of Shambar would throw him off in the sea. He would kill that demon and marry Rati, who too would be living in a city near the sea.

But the deities were not satisfied. They requested lord Shiva to help Rati to unite with her husband. Lord Shiva then told them that Kamadeva would become his gana, but he also warned them against revealing this fact to anybody. Rati then went to the city where the demon Shambar was expected to appear in the era of dwapar. The deities too went back to the heaven.

Lord Shiva's anger did not subside after the death of Kamadeva and the whole world started to feel the wrath of lord Shiva's fury. All the living creatures became terrified. They went to lord Brahma and prayed to him, to save them from Shiva's wrath.

Lord Brahma went to lord Shiva and conveyed their request to him. Lord Shiva agreed to relinquish his anger. Lord Brahma then carried Shiva's 'fury' to the sea and went to the sea. He requested the sea to posses it until the final annihilation. The sea agreed to do this. This way Lord Shiva's fury entered into the sea and all the living creatures felt a sign of relief.

NARADA PREACHES PARVATI DOES PENANCE

When Parvati reached her home, she became very sad as she was unable to bear the sorrow of Shiva's separation. Sage Narada arrived there. Her father Himalaya narrated the whole story to him

Sage Narada then gave the five lettered mantra - "OM NAMAH SHIVAY' to her and he also instructed her to do penance. Parvati heart was filled up with new enthusiasm.

After taking the permission of her parents and relinquishing all of her ornaments and royal apparels, Parvati went to the same place where Lord Shiva himself had done penance. This sacred place was situated at the Himalayas, from where the holy Ganges originated. Parvati companions too had accompanied her.

Parvati commenced her penance which gradually became severer day by day. She did penance for three thousand years by chanting the five lettered mantra- OM NAMAH SHIVAY and performing other kinds of austerities. Becoming impressed by her tremendous penance even the deities flocked to see her. Parvati did her penance, surrounded by fire on all her sides during summer. In rainy season she did her penance without any shelter and during winter she used to do penance by immersing herself in neck deep water.

Parvati's power created such heat in the atmosphere that the whole world started to burn. All the deities and sages went to lord Brahma and told him about the effects, Parvati's penance was having on all the three worlds.

Lord Brahma accompanied by all of them went to Vishnu. They visited the place where Parvati was doing her penance. They realized that lord Shiva was the only remedy and hence all of them went to lord Shiva and made salutations to him.

Lord Shiva enquired about the purpose of their arrival. Lord Vishnu then revealed to him that how distressed and tormented were the deities by the activities of the demon - Tarakasur.

He also told Shiva that he could be killed by such a person, who is born out of the parentage of Shiva and Parvati. Lord Vishnu then told Shiva about Parvati's penance.

Initially lord Shiva refused to comply with their request but when the deities continued with their insistence, he ultimately gave his conscent. The deities became very pleased.

PARVATI'S LOVE FOR SHIVA TESTED BY SAPTARISHIS AND SHIVA

After the deities went back, lord Shiva summoned the Saptarishis (Vashishtha etc) and instructed them to test Parvati's love for him. The Saptarishis went to Parvati and tested her resolve to marry lord Shiva. They tried to deter her by all means, but Parvati was firm in her resolve. They went back to lord Shiva and narrated the whole story.

Lord Shiva then himself went to Parvati in the guise of a brahmin. Parvati on seeing a brahmin welcomed her with full honor.

Shiva asked Parvati as to why was she doing penance. Parvati told him that she wanted to have Shiva as her husband. Lord Shiva, who was in the guise of a brahmin started cursing Shiva to see how Parvati reacted to it.

Parvati replied that inspite of her penance Shiva did not appear, so she has decided to give up her life in burning pyre. After saying like this Parvati requested the Brahmin to go back and she herself entered into the burning pyre but remained unharmed Lord Shiva was very pleased to see her firm resolve and devotion. He again asked her as to what was the purpose behind doing such a tremendous penance.

Parvati told the brahmin; who in reality was Shiva himself that, she wanted to have Shiva as her husband at any cost. She said-

"You say that lord Shiva does not possess anything - not even wealth. He does not put on clothes on his body. You also say that he is not fit to be a bridegroom of me. But all of your utterances prove your mean intelligence."

Parvati continuing with her statements said that Shiva was the most capable deity in all the three worlds. "There is no sin greater than condemning Shiva." said Parvati.

As Shiva, who was in the guise of Brahmin was about to say something Parvati said to one of her companions-

"This condemner should be killed, if this is not possible then we must leave this place at once."

As she was about to leave that place, lord Shiva revealed his true identity and by holding her hand said- "You have been my wife since time immemorial where are you going?"

Parvati became very pleased and her heart was filled up with extreme joy. She requested him to take to her father regarding their marriage. Lord Shiva agreed. He went back to Kailash mountain and narrated the whole story to his Ganas - Nandi, Bhairav etc. Everyone became very happy and awaited eagerly for the day Shiva would marry Parvati.

SHIVA DEMAND PARVATI AS HIS CONSORT

Parvati, after successfully accomplishing her penance came back to her home. Everybody was happy at her arrival.

After sometime Himalaya went out to take his bath in the river Ganges. Meanwhile lord Shiva arrived in his appearance of Nataraj and started dancing in front of Parvati's mother Maina. She was so pleased by his dance that she wanted to present jewels to him in appreciation, but Shiva refused to take them. He expressed his desire to marry Parvati, which made Maina furious.

In the meantime, Himalaya arrived and she informed him what Shiva had said. He became angry too and ordered his attendants to drive away Nataraj (Shiva) from that place. Shiva then showed his divine appearance due to which Himalaya had the vision of Lord Vishnu and Parvati sitting by the side of lord Shiva in him. Himalaya was very surprised.

Lord Shiva again demanded Parvati to be made as his consort, but Himalaya in his ignorance again refused it. Nataraj then returned back to his abode.

After Shiva went back, Himalaya had a feeling that perhaps it was lord Shiva himself, who had arrived in the appearance of Nararaj. He realized what a grave blunder had been committed. Because of their guilt consciousness, both Maina and Himalaya felt the germination of devotion in their heart.

Indra and the other deities became afraid when they saw both Himalaya and Maina having deep devotion towards lord Shiva. They apprehended that if Himalaya happily agrees to marry Parvati with Shiva, then he would no longer live on the earth- He would attain salvation. His departure would make the earth devoid of jewels and other kinds of wealth.

To prevent this from happening, they went to Brihaspati and requested him to influence Himalayas mind by condemning Shiva. But Brihaspati refused to comply.

The deities then went to lord Brahma and made the same request. Brahma refused to meet their demand.

Now the deities went to lord Shiva and requested him not to marry Parvati as it would make the earth devoid of all kinds of wealth. Lord Shiva feeling pity agreed to help them.

Lord Shiva went to Himalaya in the guise of a hermit and started cursing himself (Shiva). Maina was deeply influenced by the hermits word and decided not to marry Parvati with Shiva. She also threatened to give up her life along with Parvati. If Parvati was married with Shiva against her wish.

Lord Shiva summoned the Saptarishis and instructed them to convince Maina and Himalaya to marry Parvati with him, so that Tarakasur could be killed. He feared that his actions would have created many misconceptions in their minds.

The Saptarishis went to Himalaya and tried to make him, so that Tarakasur could be killed. He feared that his actions would have created many misconceptions in their minds.

The Saptarishis went to Himalaya and tried to make him understand that there was not any other way out than marrying Parvati with Shiva. They also warned both Himalaya and Maina if they did not give their conscent to marry Parvati with Shiva, then she would be forcibly abducted by him (Shiva), causing death and destruction to their whole clan. The Saptarishis then narrated the following story-

ANARANYA - THE KING

There was a king named Anaranya, who belonged to the lineage of fourteenth Manu-Indrasavarni. He was a great devotee of lord Shiva. He had five queens from whom one hundred sons and a very beautiful daughter named Padma were born.

When Padma grew up, the king started looking for a suitable match. One day while Padma was taking her bath in the Bhadra river, sage Pippalada arrived there. He became enchanted by Padma's beauty.

After gathering informations about her from the people, he went to king Anaranya and expressed his wish to marry Padma. He threatened him of dire consequences if she was not married to her.

Anaranya became frightened and gave his daughter to him. Sage Pippalada happily went away accompanied by Padma. But both the king and the queen went to the forest because of the sorrow of giving their young daughter to an old sage. The queen died because of her grief. The king, because of his deep devotion towards Shiva attained to the abode of Shiva.

PADMA AND PIPPALAD

On the request of Himalayas, Sage Vashishtha who was one of the Saptarishis narrated the story of Padma the princess and sage Pippalad-

"At the time of his marriage sage Pippalad was old and weak, but still Padma devotely performed the duties of a faithful wife.

To test her faithfulness towards her husband, Dharmaraj arrived at the bank of that river where Padma was taking her bath. He was in the guise of a young and handsome prince. He coaxed Padma to leave behind her 'old husband' and come along with him. Padma became furious and cursed him. Dharmaraj became very pleased and revealed his true identity. He also asked as to how the effects of her curse could be nullified.

Padma told her that his sins would result in having four legs during the era of Satya, but they reduced to three during the era of treta, which would again reduced to two legs during the era of Dwapar and ultimately he would have only one leg during the era of Kali. Padma also told her that even his single leg would disappear during the ending phase of Kali. "This would apropriately act as an atonement for your sins." - said Padma.

Dharmaraj blessed her by saying that she would have ten sons and also that her husband would possess youth and long life for eternity.

After listening to this story. Himalaya agreed to marry Parvati with Shiva. The Saptarishis then went back to lord Shiva and gave the good news to him.

Himalaya then requested sage Garga to prepare a beautiful Lagna-Patrikas which were then sent to his near and dear ones. He then requested Vishwakarma to construct a beautiful 'mandap' for the marriage, which was constructed by him in a very short time.

LORD SHIVA'S MARRIAGE PROCESSION—DIVINE PLAYS

Lord Shiva invited all of his Ganas to the marriage ceremony. He also instructed sage Narada to intimate all the deities, sages and the celestial entities.

After getting the invitation from Shiva everybody started making preparations to be a part of Shiva's marriage-procession. The seven mothers- Brahmi, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahai, Aindri and Chamunda dressed him up beautifully Shiva then performed all the necessary Karmas to pacify the planet. At last this wonderful marriage-procession of Shiva proceeded towards the in-laws house.

Shiva proceeded with his marriage procession which considered of crores of his 'Ganas' and deities like Vishnu who were boarded on their vehicles. Even Narada and Lord Brahma were present in his (Shiva's) marriage procession.

First of all, Shiva sent Narada to Himalaya's house to inform him about their (marriage procession) arrival. Himalaya sent his son  Mainak to receive them.

When Maina saw that the marriage procession was coming she curiously told Narada about her desire to see her son in law.

Shiva understood the arrongance which her desire contained. He wanted to teach her a lesson. He sent all the deities one by one. Maina mistook each one of them to be Shiva, but was later informed by Narada that in fact they were not Shiva but the attendants of Shiva.

Maina was very delighted and wondered how handsome the master (Shiva) must be, if the attendants were so handsome. Right then Shiva arrived with his Ganas - His body coated with ashes on it. His Ganas too were looking ferocious. Maina could not bear this horrible sight and lost her consciousness.

The maid servants arrived instantaneously and helped Maina to regain her consciousness. She started crying and cursing everybody. She thought was responsible for her daughter's marriage with Shiva. Nobody was spared- Narada, the Saptarishis and even her own sons. She even admonished Parvati by saying--

"Did you do severe penance to get such a horrible husband like this (Shiva)?"

Lord Brahma and Narada tried to console and convince her, but it was of no avail. When Himalaya tried to intervene, he was soundly rebuked. Maina threatened him that if this marriage took place then it would be the last day of her life.

At last lord Vishnu arrived and tried to pacify her anger by saying that her anger was baseless as she had not seen the real appearance of Shiva, which bestows benediction. Lord Vishnu and Narada then eulogised Shiva who on being pleased showed his most enchanting beauty.

Maina now became fully satisfied. Himalaya too felt proud of her daughter's good fortune. At last Shiva entered the Mandap (canopy) where marriage ceremony was going to be organised. He saw Parvati sitting there. Both of them were very delighted to see each other.

After the marriage ceremony was over, Sage Garg helped Himalaya in performing the rite of Kanyadan, amidst the chantings of vedic mantras. The women's were singing auspicious songs. Himalaya presented large quantities of dowry to Shiva. Parvati's companions were engaged with Shiva in jocular and humorous conversation.

Rati- the wife of Kamadeva, seeing the moment opportune, arrived and requested Shiva to bring back her dead husband back to life. Her wailings made the other goddesses very sympathetic towards her. They too requested Shiva to make her dead husband back to life.

Feeling pity on her condition. Shiva brought back Kamadeva back to life from the ashes which Rati had given to him. On seeing her husband alive, Rati's heart was filled up with extreme joy. Both of them eulogised lord Shiva and expressed their gratitude.

After the marriage ceremony was over the marriage-processionist sought the permission of Himalaya to make a move, but he requested them to remain there for some more days.

SHIVA'S DEPARTURE WITH PARVATI TO KAILASH

Shiva remained at his in-laws house for many days. One day he sought the permission of Himalaya to go back. Everybody became sad at the prospect of Shiva's departure. Especially Maina who was very saddened by this news. At last it was time for Shiva to depart for Kailash, accompanied by Parvati.

Lord Shiva and Parvati were blissfully enjoying their martial status, unaware of the eagerness with which the deities were awaiting the arrival of their progeny.

Tarakasur - the demon continued tormenting the deities. When their miseries became unbearable they went to lord Brahma to seek their help. All of them then went to lord Vishnu. They told him that even after passing of such a long duration of time, Parvati and Shiva had not yet become parents. They requested lord Vishnu to remind Shiva about the purpose behind his marriage.

Initially lord Vishnu showed his disinclination to disturb Shiva's martial bliss, but when the deities insisted he went to Shiva accompanied by all of them. All of them eulogised Shiva and Parvati. The deities then requested Shiva to make his contribution in the destruction of Tarakasur.

Shiva understood everything. Some drops of his semen fell down on the ground. On being insisted by the deities, Agni transformed his appeared in the form of a pigeon and pecked up those drops of semen.

Right then Parvati arrived there and became extremely furious on seeing the semen going waste. She cursed the deities that their respective wives would remain issue less as the consequences of their mindless acts.

Agni was having inflammation in his stomach because of the Shiva's semen. Lord Shiva advised him to transfer it into the womb of any noble woman. Agni followed the instruction and injected the semen into the body of six women through the pores of the hair on their body.

Those women could not bear the extreme luster of the Shiva's semen. They went to Himachal and evacuated it. Even Himachal could not bear its extreme effulgence and immersed it into the flowing Ganga. River Ganga carried it with her current and established it amidst bushes of reed (Sarkanda). Instantaneously a beautiful child manifested from it. His birth made all the deities extremely joyous including Shiva and Parvati. It was the sixth day (bright half of the lunar month) of the Hindu month of Margashirsha. He was Kartikeya.

KARTIKEYA

Sage Vishwamitra arrived at the spot where the child had manifested. On the repeated insistence of the child, Vishwamitra performed his purification rites and named him 'Guha'.

The divine child blessed Vishwamitra and bestowed divine knowledge to him. He also blessed him to become famous as 'Brahmarshi'. Agnideva arrived there and gave a divine weapon named 'Shakti' to that child. Guha went to the Kroncha mountain and banged his weapon on it. The mountain could not bear the effect of the blow and started crumbling down. Innumerable demons living on that mountain came to kill him. But the child killed all of them by his weapon.

When Indra heard about his bravery, he came along with other deities to fight him Indra assaulted Guha with his Vajra on the right side of his body, which resulted into the manifestation of a very powerful entity named 'Shakh'. Indra again assaulted him on the left side of his body, from which manifested an extremely powerful entity named 'Vishakh'. Indra assaulted Guha for the third time- this time his chest was the target. From this third blow of Indra manifested 'Naigam'.

Guha accompanied by all the three powerful entities- Shakh, Vishakh and Naigam attacked Indra and his army, but they fled away.

Six goddesses arrived on the scene. All of them tried to feed that small child out of affection. They started quarelling among themselves. Right then they were surprised to see the child appearing with six head. Now their problems were solved. Each of the goddesses fed their breast milk to the child. They took Guha with them and brought him up with great love and care. Guha later on became famous as Kartikeya.

One day, Parvati curiously asked Shiva about his semen which had fallen on the ground. Lord Shiva summoned the deities and asked them about it. The deities narrated the whole story. Both Shiva and Parvati were very pleased to know about Kartikeya.

Lord Shiva then ordered his Ganas to bring Kartikeya from the possession of Kritika. The Ganas reached Badrikasharama where Kritika lived. When Kritika saw the Ganas she became very frightened but Kartikeya gave him solace. The Ganas requested Kartikeya to come along with him.

Kartikeya happily took permission from his mothers and proceeded to meet Shiva and Parvati.

At the time or Kartikeya's departure, the mothers had become very emotional. Kartikeya consoled them. He then boarded the beautiful chariot which had been sent by Parvati and proceeded towards Kailash mountain.

All the deities including Shiva were eagerly awaiting his arrival. When Kartikeya reached Kailash mountain, he was given a royal reception. The whole atmosphere was filled up with joy. Everybody was celebrating. Each of the deities presented him their respective weapons to him.

Lord Shiva coronated him as the king with the help of the brahmin. This way he had now become the lord of Kailashpuri.

Kartikeya narrated a story connected with himself:-

"One day a brahmin, whose name was Narada came to me and requested me to help him find his he-goat which had got lost. He told me that the goat was supposed to be offered as the sacrifice.

"If the goat was not found, my vow would remain unfulfilled." Said Narada

I went in search of that goat. I found it in the Vishnuloka where it was creating nuisance. When the goat saw me, it tried to attack me with its sharp horns. I climbed on its back. After travelling through all the three worlds, the goat returned back to his original place. I climbed down from its back.

Narada arrived and demanded his goat. I told him that his Yagya had been accomplished by my blessings and there was no need to sacrifice the poor goat. Narada - the brahmin went back satisfied.

KILLING OF TARAKASUR

The deities were very encouraged by the presence of Kartikeya amidst themselves. They were beaming with confidence and enthusiasm. The deities assembled at the seashore. Tarakasur arrived there with his huge army. The battle began.

Tarakasur appeared to be invincible. His blow was so severe that Indra fell down unconscious. All the 'Lokpalas' met the same fate. After that Tarakasur fought with Veerbharda and made him unconscious. Even Lord Vishnu could not sustain for long and was ultimately defeated.

Lord Brahma requested Kartikeya to fight with Tarakasur as nobody except him would be able to kill him.

On being instructed by lord Brahma Kartikeya came forward to fight with Tarakasur. Tarakasur ridiculed the deities for taking the shield of a small child.

"If he gets killed by me, the responsibility should lie on you." Thundered Tarakasur.

A fierce battle started between both of them in which both of them got injured. At last seeing an opportune moment, Kartikeya hit Tarakasur on his chest with his weapon- Shakti. The blow proved to be fatal and as a result Tarakasur died.

Kartikeya feat was hailed by all the deities. After killing Tarakasur, Kartikeya went to mother Parvati, who affectionately took him into her lap. He was eulogized by all the deities.

KILLINGS OF PRALAMB AND BANASUR

The mountain - Kraunch, who was tormented by the activities of the demon named Banasur, went to Kartikeya and narrated his woeful tales.

Kartikeya threw his weapon - Shakti in the direction which Banasur lived. The weapon banged right on target and returned back to him. Bamnasur was burnt to ashes. Kraunch went back being very pleased. The mountain - Kraunch established three Shivalingas to please lord Shiva. The names of these three Shivalingas were - Kumareshwar, Pratigyeshwar and Kapaleshwar.

Once upon a time, the deities were trying to reach the abode of Lord Shiva- Kailash mountain. Their preceptor Brihaspati was walking ahead of all of them. Meanwhile a demon by the name of Pralamb started creating turbulence. After being tormented by his activities, Kumud - son of Sheshnag took Kartikeya's refuge. Kartikeya killed the demon with his divine weapon - Shakti.

GANESH

Once Narada had a desire to listen to the tales of Ganesha. Brahma replied-

"There were various Ganeshas in different Kalpas. During the period of 'Shweta-Kalpa', Ganesha was born to Shiva and Parvati, when they went to Kailash mountain shortly after their marriage.

"Once while going to take her bath, Parvati instructed Nandi, to stand guard at the entrance and not to allow anybody to enter the premise without her permission. Lord Shiva arrived there by chance. Despite of Nandi's refusal to allow him, in he went inside. Parvati did not like this.

One day it happened so that Once again, Parvati wanted to take her bath. She made an idol from the dirt of her body. She made the idol alive and instructed him not to allow anybody without her permission. She also gave him a stick for his protection.

Incidentally lord Shiva arrived once again. He tried to enter inside but Ganesha refused to let him go inside. But when Shiva tried to go inside forcibly, Ganesha hit him with his stick. Lord Shiva became furious and ordered his ganas to kill him.

The ganas of Shiva attacked Ganesha but all of them were no match for him. After being defeated by Ganesha, the Shivaganas went to Shiva and narrated everything.

While the Shivaganas were narrating their stories, Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and some other deities arrived there. Lord Brahma then went to Ganesha to convince him, but as soon as Ganesha saw him he tried to attack lord Brahma. Brahma came back without achieving anything. After this lord Shiva himself came to fight Ganesha.

SHIVA SEVERS GANESHA'S HEAD –LATER GIVEN ELEPHANT HEAD

A fierce battle was fought between Shiva and Ganesha. When Lord Shiva realized that Ganesha was dominating the fight, he severed his head with his trishul.

Parvati became extremely furious at the death of Ganesha. Her anger resulted into the manifestation of innumerable goddesses, who started creating havoc on the deities.

The deities became frightened and they were forced to take the refuge of Parvati. They eulogized her and requested to be pardoned. Parvati told them that they could be saved only when Ganesha becomes alive and becomes worshippable just like thee (deities).

The deities went to lord Shiva and requested him to make Ganesha alive once again. Lord Shiva instructed them to go in the northern direction and bring the head of any creature they might find and join it with the trunk of Ganesha. The deities followed the instruction and went in the northern direction.

They found an elephant which had only one tusk. They severed the elephant's head and joined it with the trunk of Ganesha. By the blessings of Shiva, Ganesha became alive once again. The deities worshipped Ganesha and returned back to their respective abodes.

GANESHA'S MARRIAGE

Both Kartikeya and Ganesha grew up to become handsome youths in due course of time. Shiva and Parvati started to think about their marriage.

When Ganesha and Kartikeya came to know about the plan of their marriage both of them started quarreling among themselves as to who should get married first.

Lord Shiva and Parvati devised a plan to sort out this problem. They told them that whoever between them return after circumambulating the earth, will get married first of all.

Kartikeya and Ganesha agreed. Kartikeya proceeded on his journey to circumambulate the earth. Ganesha was very intelligent. He requested his parents - Lord Shiva and Parvati; to sit at a place together and circumambulated them for seven times and said-

"According to Veda, Circumambulating one's parents give virtues equivalent to that of circumambulating the whole earth. So now you must get me married first."

Lord Shiva and Parvati were very impressed by his intelligence. They decided to get him married with Siddhi and Riddhi-the daughter of Vishwaroop Prajapati. In due course of time two sons were born to them Kshem and Labh.

While Kartikeya was returning after circumambulating the whole earth, he met sage Narada on the way. He told Kartikeya about Ganesha's marriage. Kartikeya became very sad and felt like having been cheated by their parents.

When Kartikeya reached Kailash mountain he made salutations to lord Shiva and Parvati and without saying anything, went to Kraunch mountain to do his penance.

Parvati was very sad. She went to Kraunch mountain to meet Kartikeya accompanied by Shiva. When Kartikeya saw them coming he moved to another place. Lord Shiva and Parvati followed him and ultimately met him. Both these places have religious significance. Having a darshan of Kartikeya on the full moon day of Kritika nakashatra is considered to bestows immense auspicious and destroyes all the sins of a man.

YUDH KHAND

TRIPURASUR - THE THREE DEMONS

Narada requested lord Brahma to narrate how lord Shiva annihilated the demons. Lord Brahma narrated the tale of Tripurasur.

"After the killing of Tarakasur, three of his sons started doing their penance. The eldest among them was Tarkasha, younger to him was Viddyunmali and Kamalaksha was the youngest. I (Brahma) became very pleased by their tremendous penance."

"They requested me to create three invincible forts for them, which should be full of all kinds of wealth and splendour and which nobody could be able to break."

"A golden fort was constructed for Taraksha; for Kamlaksha a fort of silver was constructed and for Viddyunmali iron-fort was constructed. I had ordered the demon named Maya to construct these forts. One of these forts was constructed in the sky, the other was constructed on the earth and the third was constructed in the nether world."

"After constructing the forts for them Maya took the responsibility of protecting them. I (Brahma) warned the three demons that they would be killed by lord Shiva. After this I came back."

The three demon-brothers started tormenting the deities. The deities went to lord Brahma and narrated about their miseries. Lord Brahma instructed them to seek the help of Shiva. They went to lord Shiva and explained about their woes. They also requested Shiva to eliminate those three demons. Lord Shiva instructed them to go to lord Vishnu and said-

"The Tripurasurs are very virtuous so they could not be killed. You all must go to lord Vishnu and try to seek his help."

The deities then went to lord Vishnu and made the same request. Lord Vishnu performed an oblation. Thousands of armed spirit appeared from the yagya-kunda. Lord Vishnu sent these spirits to kill the three demon-brothers. But these spirits were no match for the Tripurasurs might and they had to run for their lives. They came to lord Vishnu and narrated the whole story. Lord Vishnu became very worried. He sent back all the deities and started thinking about the means, Tripurasurs could be killed.

Lord Vishnu came to the conclusion that the Tripurasurs could not be killed till they remain Virtuous and religious. He then created an illusionary entity from his body who had no hairs on his head. He had worn dirty clothes and a bag was hanging down his shoulder. He also had a broom in his head.

The entity asked lord Vishnu about the purpose of his existence and his name. Lord Vishnu told him that his name was Arihan. He also instructed him to create a scripture which stresses upon the importance of action (Karmavad) and which is different from the rituals explained in the Vedas. Lord Vishnu specifically instructed him to keep the language of that scripture as simple and degenerated as possible.

Lord Vishnu then preached Arihan on the science of illusion which stressed that the heaven or the hell does not exist anywhere else, but on this earth itself.

Lord Vishnu instructed Arihan to get Tripurasurs initiated into with this philosophy so that the demon-brothers become irreligious. Vishnu ordered Arihan to make his residence in a desert with his disciples.

"You should propagate your philosophy when Kali Yuga arrives" - said Lord Vishnu.

After giving his instruction lord Vishnu disappeared. Arihan then created four illusionary entities from his bein who were supposed to act as his followers. Their names were Rishi, Yati, Keerya and Upadhyay.

Now the time had arrived to enter the forts of Tripurasurs. All of them entered the forts and in a gradual manner started increasing their influence. As a result the Tripurasurs became irreligious. Not only that, their subjects too became irreligious in a very short time.

When the deities saw that the Tripurasurs had become irreligious completely, they went to lord Shiva and requested him to kill Tripurasurs. Right then mother Parvati arrived there accompanied by Kartik and Ganesha. She requested Shiva to come along with her into the palace. All the deities followed them and kept on requesting. The deities were angry that Parvati had caused obstacles in the fulfillment of their objective. They could not conceal their anger and expressed it.

One of the ganas of Shiva, whose name was Kumbhodar angrily attacked the deities. All of them got injured and went to lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu advised them to chant the five lettered mantra - OM NAMAH SHIVAY for one crore times. The deities followed the instruction. Lord Shiva became pleased and appeared before them. He assured the deities that their wishes would be fulfilled.

KILLINGS OF TRIPURASURS

When Shiva agreed to kill the demon - brothers Tripurasur the deities became extremely joyous. They gave their respective weapons to Shiva, so that he did not have any difficulty in killing the demons. Vishwakarma gave his beautiful chariot to him.

Lord Shiva proceeded towards the forts of Tripurasur followed by a huge army of the deities. His army entered the forts of his bow but he was not able to release it. He remained in this position for one thousand years but still he was not successful in releasing his arrow.

Lord Shiva then worshipped Ganesha and heard a heavenly voice instructing him to use his weapon - Pashupat. Lord Shiva released it in the direction of the forts of Tripurasur. All the three forts were destroyed by the assault of Pashupat and it created havoc among the demons.

Seeing death and destruction all around them - Tripurasurs prayed to lord Shiva to have mercy on them. Lord Shiva assured them that after their death they would be born as his ganas. At last Tripurasurs were burnt to death. Maya was the only demon who survived. After their death the Tripurasurs were privileged to be reborn as the ganas of Shiva.

After the killings of three demons- Tripurasur, lord Shiva's anger had still not subdivided. The anger was pacified only after the deities and the sages prayed to him. He blessed the deities by saying that he would always be present on their side to protect them.

Maya - Who had survived the Shiva's attack, arrived there and he too was blessed by lord Shiva. After that Arihan arrived with his followers and worshipped Shiva. Lord Shiva blessed him and his followers. After taking permission from lord Vishnu, Arihan proceeded towards a desert region accompanied by his followers. After receiving the boon the deities too received to their respective abode.

LORD SHIVA SPARES THE LIFE OF INDRA

Suta narrates the following story to the sages-

"Once upon a time, Indra was going towards Kailash mountain to have a 'darshan' of lord Shiva. Sage Brihaspati was accompanying him.

Lord Shiva came to know about his arrival. He wanted to test his devotion towards him. While both Indra and Brihaspati were still on their way. Lord Shiva met them on their in the guise of a hermit.

Indra did not recognize Shiva, who was sitting on the way disguised as a hermit. Indra inquired as to who he was and where he lived. Lord Shiva sat quietly without saying a word. Indra repeatedly asked the same question, but each time Shiva remained quiet. Indra became furious and tried to attack lord Shiva with his Vajra.

Lord Shiva paralyzed the raised hands of Indra by his divine power. Shiva's eyes had reddened due to anger which made Indra very frightened sage Brihaspati was able to recognize the real identity of the hermit as to who he was. He made salutations to lord Shiva and requested him to pardon Indra. Lord Shiva became pleased and diverted the power of his radiant eyes to the ocean. This way Indra's life was spared by Shiva. Lord Shiva then returned to Kailash mountain. Indra and Sage Brihaspati to Kailash mountain. Indra and sage Brihaspati too returned to their respective abodes.

MANIFESTATION OF JALANDHAR

The effulgence, which had been divided by lord Shiva into the Ocean resulted into the manifestation of a small child. This incident happened at the place where river Ganges submerged into the ocean and which is also known as Gangasagar now a days.

The child was crying so ferociously that an environment of fear was created everywhere. The deities and the sages went to lord Brahma to satisfy their curiously. Lord Brahma assured then to find out the reason. He went to the seashore. The sea put the child in his lap and enquired about the name of that child and also about his future.

Meanwhile the child pressed lord Brahma's neck with such power that tears rolled down from his eyes. For this reason he named the child as Jalandhar. Lord Brahma told the sea that the child will become the mighty ruler of the demons. No deity would be able to kill him except Shiva.

The sea was very pleased by lord Brahma's predictions. After Lord Brahma returned to his abode, the sea brought that child to his home and brought up that child with great love and care.

When Jalandhar grew up he married Vrinda, who was the daughter of Kalnemi. Later on he became the ruler of the demons.

BATTLE BETWEEN JALANDHAR AND THE DEITIES

One day Sage Bhrigu came to meet Jalandhar. After receiving him with due respect Jalandhar asked him as to who severed the head of Rahu.

Sage Bhrigu then told him about Hiranyakashipu who was the maternal uncle of Rahu. Sage Bhrigu also told him about Virochana - the son of the extremely charitable king Bali. Then sage Bhrigu narrated the tale connected with the churning of ocean and how ambrosia emerged from the churning of the ocean.

Sage Bhrigu told Jalandhar how Rahu's head was severed by lord Vishnu, while he was sitting among the deities and at the time when ambrosia was being distributed to all the deities.

Jalandhar became very furious after hearing this story. He summoned one of his messengers whose name was Ghasmar and instructed him to go and ask Indra, as to why had he misappropriated all the wealth of his father (Sea) which emerged during the churning of Sea. He also instructed Ghasmar to warn Indra about the dire consequences unless he takes his (Indra's) refuge.

But Indra sent back Ghasmar without any specific assurance. This action of Indra made Jalandhar more angry than before. He collected his army and attacked Indra.

A fierce battle was fought between his army and the army of the deities. Many warriors got killed from both the sides. Shukracharya the guru of the deities brought back the dead warriors from the demon side back to life by his mritasanjivani vidya. Similarly Sage Brihaspati brought back the dead warriors from the deities’ side back to life with the help of medicinal herbs.

When Shukracharya saw that, sage Brihaspati too was successfully making the dead deities alive, he instructed Jalandhar to submerge the Drongiri mountain into the sea, so that it becomes impossible for Brihaspati to get the medicinal herbs by the help of which he made the dead deities alive.

Jalandhar obeyed the command of Shukracharya and by lifting the Drongiri mountain submerged it into the sea. The deities became demoralized and fled from the battlefield Jalandhar captured Indrapuri.

The terrified deities took the refuge of lord Vishnu and sought his help. Lord Vishnu gave a patient hearing and agreed to help them, but there was a hitch. His consort goddess Lakshmi considered Jalandhar as her brother because both of them originated from the sea. She instructed Lord Vishnu against killing Jalandhar.

Lord Vishnu promised to her that he won't kill Jalandhar. After giving his word to goddess Lakshmi, he went to fight a battle with Jalandhar.

A fierce battle was fought between both of them which remained indecisive till the end. Lord Vishnu became very much impressed by the valiance of Jalandhar and asked him to demand any boon he liked.

Jalandhar requested him to make his dwelling in the Ksheersagar-the abode of Jalandhar, along with his sister (Lakshmi). Lord Vishnu agreed to fulfill his wish and started living in the Ksheersagar along with his consort Lakshmi.

Being undefeated by Lord Vishnu himself, Jalandhar became the ruler of all the three world. All his subjects were satisfied by his just and virtuous rule, except the deities. The deities now eulogized lord Shiva to seek his help in defeating Jalandhar.

According to the wish of lord Shiva, Sage Narada came to meet the deities. The deities narrated their woeful tales to him. Feeling pity on their condition, he went accorded a grand reception by Jalandhar which pleased him very much.

Narada praised the splendours and prosperity of Jalandhar but added that it was nothing in comparison to Shiva's splendours Narada told him that inspite of all his authority and splendours, his prosperity was still incomplete, as he did not have a consort. Jalandhar asked curiously as to where could he find his consort.

According to his strategy, Narada advised Jalandhar to make Parvati as his consort Jalandhar fell into Narada's trap. He sent 'Rahu' to lord Shiva with a proposal to part with Parvati. Rahu went to lord Shiva and demanded Parvati, which made lord Shiva extremely furious. His anger resulted into the manifestation of a ferocious creature, which ran towards 'Rahu' to devour him. Rahu had no option but to take the refuge of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva protected the life of 'Rahu'.

The hungry creature, asked Shiva as to what should he eat to satisfy his hunger. Lord Shiva instructed him to devour his own limbs. The creative followed his instructions and devoured his limbs. Lord Shiva was very pleased by his sense of obedience. He named that creature of his palace. He also blessed him saying that he too would be worshipped along with him (Shiva).

BATTLE BETWEEN LORD SHIVA AND JALANDHAR

Rahu went back to Jalandhar and narrated the whole story to him. Jalandhar then attacked Kailash mountain with his huge army. A fierce battle was fought between the Shiva-ganas and the demons.

When Jalandhar realized that lord Shiva had begun to dominate the battle he created beautiful 'Apsaras' and 'Gandharvas' by his illusionary powers to divert the attention of lord Shiva and his ganas. He was successful in his attempt. Lord Shiva and his ganas became enchanted by the heavenly beauty of the apsaras. They stopped fighting and started watching their dance and music.

Meanwhile Jalandhar went to Parvati in the guise of lord Shiva but was recognized by her. Being enchanted by the beauty of goddess Parvati, he looked at her with his evil intentions, but was immobilized by her wrath.

Mother Parvati then went to lord Vishnu and narrated the whole story. She wanted to teach Jalandhar a lesson. She requested lord Vishnu to go to Jalandhar's wife in the guise of Jalandhar and act in the same way. Jalandhar had dared to do.

VRINDA GETA DISHONORED

With the help of his divine powers, Lord Vishnu created many inauspicious dreams while Vrinda was asleep. Vrinda became very restless and when the anxieties become unbearable she proceeded towards the forest.

Vrinda saw a hermit in the forest who was preaching his disciples. The hermit was none other than lord Vishnu. She went to that hermit and prayed to save her husband's life.

Lord Vishnu disappeared from the scene and reappeared - this time in the guise of Jalandhar. But Vrinda was unable to recognize the real identity of her husband. She was very pleased after finding her husband. Both of them stayed in that very forest as husband and wife for a very long time.

One day, she came to know about the real identity of the person, who was impersonating as her husband. Realizing that her chastity has been breached, she cursed lord Vishnu by saying that just as he had played a deceitful trick with her in the same way somebody would deceitfully abduct his wife and he too would wander in her search.

After cursing lord Vishnu, Vrinda embraced death by entering into the fire.

KILLING OF JALANDHAR

On the other side, after the departure of Parvati from Kailash Mountain and after the illusionary powers created by Jalandhar had ended all the apsaras and gandharvas vanished. Shiva realized that whatever he was watching, was nothing more than illusion.

Lord Shiva recommenced his battle. The demons-Shumbh and Nishumbh, came forward to fight with him, but ultimately they had to flee from the battlefield. Lord Shiva warned both of them that though they had escaped death at that moment, but they would be killed by Parvati.

Now Jalandhar again arrived to fight with lord Shiva. A fierce battle commenced between them. Finding an opportune time, Shiva severed the head of Jalandhar by his 'Chakra' which had been created from his toe. After his death, Jalandhar's soul united with Shiva.

When the deities came to know about the killing of Jalandhar, they became overjoyed. They came to Lord Shiva and eulogized him. Thy also hailed his great achievement. After expressing their gratitude they returned to their respective abodes.

MANIFESTATION OF 'AMLA' (MYROBALAN), TULSI (BASIL) AND 'MALTI'

Lord Vishnu was very much saddened by the death of Vrinda. He took the ashes from the pyre and after applying them on his body started wondering here and there.

The deities became very worried to see the condition of lord Vishnu. They went to lord Shiva and requested him to eliminate the false attachment with which Sri Vishnu was suffering.

Lord Shiva sent the deities to goddess Parvati, saying that she would ceratainly help in this regard.

The deities went to goddess Parvati and prayed to her. She became very pleased and with the assistance of Lakshmi and Saraswati, gave some seeds to then. The deities sprayed those seeds on the pyre, on which Vrinda had given up her life. Three holy plants manifested from that pyre-Amla, Tulsi and Malti. Later on Tulsi and Malti attained to the Vishnuloka, by the virtue of their respective penance.

BIRTH OF SHANKHACHUDA AND HIS MARRIAGE

Suta narrated the tale of the birth of Shankhachuda and how Shiva killed him with his Trishula. He told the sages that Shankhachuda was born to the demon king 'Dambha'. Shankhachuda was in fact, Sudama, in his previous life. He was born in the family of demons due to the curse of Radha. When Shankhachuda grew up, he went to Pushkar (Ajmer, Rajasthan) and did a tremendous penance to please lord Brahma. Lord Brahma blessed him and said that he would remain invincible. He also instructed Shankhachuda to go to 'Badrikashrama' where he would find his would be wife Tulsi, the daughter of Dharmadhwaja.

Shankhachuda went to Badrikasharama and married Tulsi as per the instructions of lord Brahma. He then returned back to his capital accompanied by his wife Tulsi.

SHANKHACHUDA BECOMES THE RULER OF ALL THE THREE WORLDS

When Shankhachuda reached his capital after marrying Tulsi, he was crowned as the king of the demons by Shukracharya. After his coronation, Shankhachuda attacked Indrapuri supported by his huge army and defeated the deities. In a very short time all the three worlds were under his control.

After being defeated by Shankhachuda, the deities went to lord Brahma and sought his help in eliminating the menance called Shankhachuda. Lord Brahma then took them to lord Vishnu. All of them were taken to lord Shiva by Vishnu. They expressed their request to liberate them from the troubles created by Shankhachuda.

Lord Shiva assured the deities that he will certainly kill Shankhachuda and hence they should not worry about him. The deities then happily returned to their respective abodes.

Lord Shiva sent his messenger named Pushpadant, to Shankhachuda to ask him to return back the kingdom of the deities to them. Shankhachuda refused to oblige this demand, on the contrary he expressed his willingness and readiness to fight lord Shiva. Pushpadant returned back and narrated the whole story to lord Shiva.

SHIVA KILLS  SHANKHACHUDA

Lord Shiva was now fully convinced about the inevitability of the battle. He first sent all his ganas under the leadership of Kartekiye and Ganesha. Later on Bhadrakali proceeded towards the battlefield with a huge army as per the own wish of lord Shiva himself. At last lord Shiva proceeded towards the battlefield accompanied by the deities. All the troops collected at the bank of river Chandrabhaga and rested under the shade of a Banyan tree.

Shankhachuda handed over the kingdom to his son and went to his wife to take her permission before going to the battlefield. His wife was reluctant to allow him to go, but he somehow managed to convince her. He then proceeded towards the banks of Chandrabhaga with a huge army.

A fierce battle started between the deities and the demons. Both of them attacked each other with the most destructive weapons. But when the army of Chandrachuda began to dominate the fight, the deities fled away and took the refuge of lord Shiva. They told Shiva of the number of deities who had been killed while fighting.

After the defeat of the deities and the ganas Kartikeya and Ganesha went to fight Shankhachuda. A spectacular battle was fought between Shankhachuda and both of them. Later on they were joined by Bhadrakali. Bhadrakali would have devoured Shankhachuda without any problem, but she spared his life because of the boon, given to him by Lord Brahma. Now it was the turn of Lord Shiva to join the battle, but even he could not cause any harm to him because of lord Brahma's boon.

While a tremendous battle was being fought between lord Shiva and Shankhachuda. Lord Vishnu appeared and demanded the armour from Shankhachuda, which he had put on, his body in the guise of a brahmin. Shankhachuda gave his armour to him without any kind of suspicion. Lord Vishnu then went to Shankhachuda's wife in the guise of her husband i.e. Shankhachuda. He destroyed the chastity of Tulsi, Shankhachuda's wife. Shankhachuda derived his power from the chastity of his wife and it vanished the moment, her chastity was destroyed.

Bhadrakali was creating havoc in the army of Shankhachuda. Shankhachuda became very furious and attacked Shiva. Shiva repulsed his assault and attacked him with his Trishul. Shankhachuda who had become powerless was killed instantaneously. The deities were very pleased at the death of Shankhachuda. After worshipping lord Shiva they went back to their respective abodes.

TULSI CURSES LORD VISHNU

After being instructed by goddess Parvati, Lord Vishnu had gone to Tulsi in the guise of her husband- Shankhachuda, so that the breach of Tulsi chastity could help lord Shiva to kill Shankhachuda, who derived his power from Tulsi's chastity and virtuosity.

Initially Tulsi could not recognize lord Vishnu. She was extremely joyous at his arrival. But very soon she was able to realize the real identity of lord Vishnu, who had disguised himself as her husband.

She became very angry and cursed lord Vishnu to become a stone. She was crying unconsolably. Lord Vishnu contemplated on Shiva as a result of which he appeared. Lord Shiva blessed Tulsi that she would become the beloved of Lord Vishnu.

Due to Tulsi's curse, Lord Vishnu attained the form of Shaligram which is a stone and because of lord Shiva's blessings. Tulsi leaves started being offered to the Shaligram, in the process of its worship.

KILLING OF HIRANYAKSHA

While narrating the tale of Hiranyaksha's killing, Sutli said-

"Once, Shiva and Parvati were living at the Mandarachal mountain. Parvati, playfully covered both the eyes of Shiva with her palms. This made lord Shiva to perspire from his forehead. From this perspiration manifested a ferocious creature. Parvati asked Lord Shiva as to who this creature was. Lord Shiva told her that he was his son Andhak.

Parvati brought up Andhak with great love and care. Hiranyaksha the demon did a tremendous penance to please lord Shiva, with a desire to acquires a son. Lord Shiva became pleased with his penance and appeared before him. He asked Hiranyaksha to demand any boon, which he promised to fulfill.

Hiranyaksha expressed his desire to have a very powerful and mighty son. Shiva decided to give Andhak to him, who at that time was being brought up by Parvati. Hiranyaksha brought young Andhak along with him.

With the help of Andhak, he conquered all the three worlds. He lifted up the earth and proceeded towards the Netherworld. The deities became very terrified. They prayed to Lord Vishnu and when he appeared they requested him to kill Hiranyaksha.

Lord Vishnu killed Hiranyaksha in his incarnation of boar. After killing Hiranyaksha, Lord Vishnu made Andhak the king of Netherworld and place the earth at its original place.

KILLING OF HIRANYAKSHIPU

Hiranyakashipu was filled with grief when he heard the news of his brothers' death. To avenge Hiranyaksha's death, he started to torment the deities. Becoming homeless, the deities started wandering here and there. Hiranyakashipu was still unsatisfied. He wanted to acquire more power and authority. He went to the Mandarachal mountain and started doing a tremendous penance to please Lord Brahma.

Lord Brahma appeared before him and asked him demand anything he wished to be fulfilled. Hiranyakashipu said-

"O Lord! Bless me so that I do neither die during the day nor during the night; neither on the earth nor in the sky; neither by the deities nor by the demons; neither by a human being nor by an animal. Bless me O Lord! O that I do not get killed by any type of weapon."

Lord Brahma blessed Hiranyakshipu and said 'so be it'. Now, Hiranyakashipu became more ruthless and arrogant. He declared himself the almighty God and ordered his subjects to worship him and his idol. His son-Prahlada was a very great devotee of lord Vishnu. He did not pay heed to his father's command and continued to worship Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu tried to kill Prahlada many times, but each time he survived by the blessings of lord Vishnu.

When Hiranyakashipu's atrocities crossed all its limits, the deities went to lord Vishnu and requested him to kill Hiranyakashipu. Lord Vishnu appeared in his incarnation of Nrisimha (half lion and half man) and killed Hiranyakashipu with his sharp nails, during the dusk. After giving his kingdom to his son Prahalad, Lord Vishnu went back to his abode.

SHIVA TEACHES 'MRITASANJIVANI VIDDYA' TO SHUKRACHARYA

Shukracharya did a severe penance for five thousand years to please Shiva and acquire the secrets of Mritasanjivani Viddya (bringing back dead person alive) from him.

When Lord Shiva did not appear even after such a tremendous penance, then he indulges himself in severest form of penance, by quitting having food and water. He now started living only on air. This continued for thousands of year.

Lord Shiva became very pleased with his penance. He manifested from the very Shivalinga, Shukracharya had been worshipping till now. He taught the secrets of 'Mritasanjivani' viddya to him and told him that by the help of this viddya he would become capable of making alive the dead persons. Lord Shiva also blessed Shukracharya to become a star and attain respectability among all the planets.

After blessing Shukracharya like this, Lord Shiva disappeared into the same Shivalinga from which he had appeared.

BATTLE BETWEEN LORD SHIVA AND ANDHAK

Once, Andhak brothers jokingly told him that, since his real parents were somebody else (Shiva and Parvati) therefore he was not fit to rule them. Though they had told this in good humour, yet Andhak was very much saddened by their remark. He relinquished his throne and went to a deserted place in the forest and started to do a severe penance. Lord Brahma became very pleased by his penance and appeared before him. He asked him to demand anything he wished to be fulfilled. Andhak said-

"I only long for the love and affection of my brothers. O Lord! Bless me so that nobody should be able to kill one except lord Shiva."

Lord Brahma blessed him and said- 'so be it'.

Andhak returned to his kingdom and with the co-operation of his brothers like Prahalad etc he brought even the deities under his control. But drunk with power he became very arrogant and started tormenting all the creatures. He did not show any respect to the Vedas, brahmin and the deities.

Andhak had become so arrogant that once he even dared to dishonor his own mother-Parvati, who at that time was living at the Mandarachal mountain. Shiva became very furious with him.

Andhak attacked Shiva with his huge army. Lord Shiva sent his numerous ganas to fight him, but all of them were killed by Andhak.

When lord Shiva got the news of the arrival of Andhak with his army, he sent Lord Vishnu and his remaining ganas to fight him. He himself went to perform his austerity named 'Pashupat'. The deities fought with Andhak for one thousand years. Meanwhile Lord Shiva returned after completing his 'Pashupat Vrata' and joined them.

Seeing Lord Shiva in front of him, Andhak became furious and attacked him ferociously. His companion, whose name was 'Vidhas', devoured all the deities. The demons who had been killed in the battle, were brought back to life by Shukracharya.

Lord Shiva became very angry and swallowed Shukracharya. He also extracted the deities from the stomach of Vidhas who had been swallowed by him earlier. After that, lord Shiva attacked Andhak with his trident, which injured him. But from each drop of his blood which fell on the ground, manifested thousands of demons who resembled Andhak.

Lord Shiva then instructed goddess 'Chandika' to drink the blood, while he killed all the demons. Goddess Chandika followed the instructions of Shiva and drank each drop of blood, which oozed out from the wounds of the demons and did not let single drop of blood to fall on the ground.

After killing all the demons, lord Shiva lifted Andhak with his trident and hanged him between the earth and sky. Andhak remained there for a very long period of time, bearing the heat of the sun and the showers of rain. But he remained alive. Ultimately he had to take the refuge of Lord Shiva, to save his life. Lord Shiva became pleased by his eulogy and made him his 'Ganadhees' (leader of all the Ganas).

When lord Shiva swallowed up Shukracharya, he became very restless and started to find out a way through which he could come out from Shiva's stomach. But all of his efforts went in vain. Finding no other option, he started to chant the name of lord Shiva. His chantings continued for one hundred years. By the blessings of Shiva, he came out from Shiva's stomach through the ejaculated semen.

After coming out, Shukraharya eulogized Lord Shiva. Shiva became pleased with him and showered him with affection just like his own son. After being blessed Shukracharya went and rejoined the army of the demons.

KILLING OF GAJASUR

Goddess Durga had killed the demon Mahishasur, who used to torment the deities. Gajasur was the son of Mahishasur. To avenge his father's death, Gajasur did a tremendous penance to please lord Brahma.

Lord Brahma appeared before him and asked him to demand any boon. Gajasur said- "O Lord! Even a 'Jeetendriya' (one who has full control over his senses) should not be able to kill me,"

Lord Brahma blessed him by saying - 'So be it'. Gradually, Gajasur atrocities crossed all limits. He became the lord of all the three worlds. He forced even the deities to worship him. He used to torment the brahmins and the other religious people.

One day Gajasur arrived at Kashi and started tormenting the people living over there. The deities came to lord Shiva and requested him to rescue Kashi by killing Gajasur.

Lord Shiva came to Kashi and fought a battle with Gajasur. He killed Gajasur with this trident. At the time of his death, Gajasur eulogized Lord Shiva and requested him to put his (Gajasur's) skin on his (Shiva's) body.

Lord Shiva agreed to fulfill his wish. At the spot where, Gajasur was killed a famous Shivalinga by the name of Krittivaseshwar was constructed as per the own wish of lord Shiva.

KILLING OF NIRHADDAITYA

Diti was filled with grief when she came to known about her son's (Hiranyaksha) death, who was killed by lord Vishnu.

Nirhaddaitya, who was the maternal uncle of Prahlada consoled her an promised to avenge the death of Hiranyaksha. He thought to destroy the vedic religion. According to him the deities derived their strength and power from this very vedic religion. He planned to eliminate the priestly class-brahmins, so that the chances of 'Yagyas' being performed becomes extinct and the deities were starved to such an extent that they became weak and powerless. Thinking that then it would not be very difficult to kill the 'weak' deities.

Nirhaddaitya arrived at Kashi to execute his plan, which during those time was the chief center of the brahmins. He attained the form of a tiger and stationed himself in a nearby forest. He used to kill any brahmin who used to come over there to collect 'Kusha' grass and fuel. With the help of his illusionary powers he used to attain the form of a hermit during the daytime and lived among them. But during the night, he used to enter into the houses of the brahmins in the form of a tiger and used to devour them.

On one night of Shivaratri, when a brahmin was busy worshipping Lord Shiva, Niraddaitya who was in the form of a tiger entered the temple. But, since the brahmin was engaged in the worship of Lord Shiva, he could not harm the brahmin. Lord Shiva emerged from the very Shivalinga, which the brahmin was worshipping and punched the demon with his clenched fist, so hard that he died.

KILLING OF VIDAL AND UTPAL

Long long ago there used to live two demons by the names of Vidul and Utpal. Both of them did a tremendous penance to please lord Brahma. After being blessed by lord Brahma, they became very arrogant and started tormenting the deities and the brahmins.

The deities went to lord Brahma and sought his help. Lord Brahma told them that both the demons would be killed by goddess Parvati very soon. He also instructed the deities to eulogize Shiva and Parvati to seek their blessings. The deities went back and started eulogizing Shiva and Parvati.

One fateful day, Vidal and Utpal arrived at the place where goddess Parvati was having amusements with her companions. Vidal and Utpal had disguised themselves as the ganas of Shiva. Lord Shiva recognized the real identity of the demons. He signaled towards Parvati pointing towards the demons. Parvati who was playing with a ball with her companions, understood what lord Shiva meant to say. She hit both of them with the ball, with such force that both the demons died on the spot. The ball then fell down on the ground and transformed into a Shivalinga which became as 'Kandukeshwar'. The deities became very pleased at the death of Vidal and Utpal.

PART THREE SHATRUDRA SAMHITA

The sages requested Suta to describe about the different incarnations of Lord Shiva. Suta told them that, although Lord Shiva took many incarnations but five of his incarnations were very important- Sadhojat Namadeva, Tat Purusha, Aghoresh and Ishan.

FIVE SHIVA INCARNATIONS

1) SADHOJAT:-Lord Shiva took his first incarnation from the physique incarnation from the physique of Lord Brahma, who was engrossed in his deep state of meditation, during the nineteenth Kalpa named Shweta Lohit. Lord Brahma gave him the name Sadhojat and eulogized him. Later on, from the physique of Sadhojat four of his disciple manifested, whose names were Sunand, Nandan, Vishwanandan and Upanandan. All the four disciples were of fair complexion. Lord Shiva blessed Brahma and empowered him to do creation.

2) NAMDEVA:- During the twentieth Kalpa named 'Rakta' the complexion of lord Brahma turned red, while he was engrossed in his meditative state. From his body manifested an entity who also was of red complexion. Lord Brahma named him Namadeva considering him to be the incarnation of lord Shiva and eulogized him. Later on four sons were born to Namadeva, whose names were Viraj, Viwah, Vishok and Vishwabhawan. All of them were of red complexion just like their father Namadeva.

Namdeva Shiva along with his virtuous progenies blessed lord Brahma with the power of creation.

3) TAT PURUSHA:- The twenty-first Kalpa on the earth was known as 'Peetavasa'. It was named so because of the apparel of lord Brahma which were of yellow colours. Lord Brahma's prayer resulted into the manifestation of an effulgent entity. Considering this entity as Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma started chanting the mantras of Shiva Gayatri. After the chantings of the mantras, numerous entities manifested who had put on apparels of yellow colour on their body. This way the third incarnation of Shiva popularly known as Tat Purusha manifested.

4) GHORESH:- After the Peetavasa Kalpa came the Shiva Kalpa. A black complexioned manifested while Lord Brahma was engrossed in his deep meditative state. Lord Brahma considering this entity as Aghor Shiva started eulogizing him. Lord Brahma's eulogization resulted into the manifestation of four more entities who had the same black complexion as that of 'Aghor Shiva'. Their names were Krishna, Krishnashikha, Krishnamukha and Krishnakanthdhari. Ghor Shiva along with those four entities blessed lord Brahma with the power of creation.

5) ISHAN- During the Kalpa named Vishwaroop, manifestations of Saraswati and Ishan Shiva took place. Lord Brahma eulogized Ishan Shiva after which four divine entities named Jati, Mundi, Shikhandi and Ardhamundi manifested from Ishan Shiva. All of them blessed lord Brahma with the power of creation.

EIGHT IDOLS OF SHIVA

After describing about the five chief incarnations of lord Shiva, Suta explained about the eight famous idols of lord Shiva- Sharva, Bhava, Rudra, Ugra, Bhima, Pashupati, Ishan and Mahadeva. These eight idols of Shiva symbolizes the eight natural elements which help in the process of creation, nurturement and annihilation. These eight natural elements are Land, water, fire, air, sky, supreme soul (Kshetragya), Sun and the moon. Being established in these eight idols, Shiva controls the whole world.

SHIVA AS ARDHANARISHWAR

Once upon a time Lord Brahma, not seeing an expansion in his creation became very worried. A heavenly voice instructed him to commence creation with the help of copulative activities. But since all the incarnation of Shiva had been males till then, therefore lord Brahma was finding it impossible.

Lord Brahma contemplated on the form of Shiva and Shakti. Lord Shiva became very pleased with him and appeared in his form of 'Ardhanarishwar (half male half female). Left side of his body resembled like a woman while the right side appeared like a man. Lord Brahma worshipped this form of Shiva.

Lord Shiva then separated the feminine part of his body and thus manifested mother Shakti. Lord Brahma worshipped her and requested to bestow such power by which he could create a woman.

Goddess Shakti blessed him by saying - 'So be it' and vanished. This way Lord Brahma became capable of commencing copulative creation.

VARIOUS INCARNATION OF VYASA AND LORD SHIVA

During the 'Varaha' Kalpa of the Seventh 'Manvantar' lord Vishnu illuminated all the three world by his divine presence. This seventh Manvantara consisted of four yugas which repeated themselves in a cyclic way for twelve times.

The first dwapar of this seventh manvantar saw the manifestation of lord Shiva for the welfare of the brahmins. When Kali Yuga arrived Lord Shiva again manifested himself along with goddess Shakti and was known as Mahamuni Shweta. Lord Brahma had the priviledge of becoming his disciple.

During the second dwapar, sage Vyasa existed as Satya, Prajapati and Lord Shiva became famous as 'Sutar'. Lord Shiva in his incarnation of Sutra had many disciples among whom 'Dundubhi' was very famous.

During the third dwapar sage Vyasa took his incarnation as Bhargava and lord Shiva became famous as Daman. Lord Shiva in his incarnation as Daman had four disciples among whom Vishoka was very famous. When Kali Yuga arrived after this third dwapar. Lord Shiva along with his Disciples helped Sage Vyasa.

During the fourth Dwapar Sage Vyasa took his incarnation as Angira and Lord Shiva as 'Suhotra'. Even in this incarnation Lord Shiva had four disciples among whom Sumukh was very famous. Lord Shiva along with his disciples helped Angira.

During the fifth dwapar sage Vyasa took incarnation as Savita and Lord Shiva as 'Kanka' who was very famous for his tremendous austerities. Kanka had four disciples among whom Sanak was very famous.

During the sixth dwapar sage Vyasa took incarnation as Mrityu and Lord Shiva as 'Lokakshi'. Lokakshi had four disciples among whom Sudhama was very prominent.

During the seventh dwapar sage Vyasa manifested himself as Indra and Lord Shiva as Jaigisatya. Jaigisatya had four disciples among whom Saraswat was very prominent.

During the eighth dwapar sage Vyasa took incarnation as Vashishtha and Lord Shiva as Dadhivahan. Dadhivahan had four disciples among whom Kapila was very famous.

During the nineth dwapar sage Vyasa took incarnation as Saraswat and Lord Shiva as 'Rishabh'. Lord Shiva in his incarnation as Rishabhdeva had four disciples among whom Parashar was very famous.

NANDIKESHWAR

While describing about the incarnation of Nandikeshwar Suta says-

Sage Shilad did a tremendous penance to please lord Shiva with an aspiration to have a son. Lord Shiva appeared before him and asked him to demand any boon he wished.

Sage Shilad expressed his desire of having a son who is not born from a physical body and who is proficient in all the sriptural knowledges. Lord Shiva blessed him by saying - 'So be it'.

Sage Shilad then returned to his hermitage and performed a 'Yagya'. From the yagya-kunda appeared a child who possessed four arms and three eyes. Sage Shilad was very pleased to see that child. The birth of the child was celebrated with great fanfare. Lord Shiva and Parvati arrived to bless the child.

The child was named Nandi as his birth had given immense joy (ananda) to sage Shilad. Later on Nandi lived with his father like any other normal child and was brought up with great love and care. He became proficient in all the scriptures within seven years.

Being inspired by lord Shiva, two brahmins came to sage Shilad and informed him that after one year Nandi would be no more. Sage Shilad became extremely sad.

Seeing his father in his sorrowful mood, Nandi consoled him and later on went to do penance. His tremendous penance pleased Lord Shiva and Parvati and both of them appeared before him. Lord Shiva blessed him and said- "You are just like me, so you will never die".

Lord Shiva also gave one of his garlands to him. As soon as Nandi wore that garland he imbibed all the qualities of lord Shiva. After that Lord Shiva took out some water from his locks of hair and sprinkled on him, as a result of which five rivers came into existence. These five rivers were later on came to be known as Panchanad. Lord Shiva then made him the leader of all his ganas.

Later on goddess Parvati took Nandi under her guidance and considered him just like her own son. Nandi was married to Suyasha- the daughter of Marut. Ultimately all of them accompanied lord Shiva to his abode.

BHAIRAV GETS LIBERATED FROM HIS SIN

Bhairav who was created by lord Shiva from his third eye, had severed one of the five heads of Lord Brahma on the instruction of lord Shiva. Now Brahma was left with only four heads.

Carrying the skull of Brahma in his hand, Bhairava started wandering in all the three worlds. To atone his sin of severing the head of lord Brahma, he was begging alms.

Bhairav reached Vishnuloka where he was welcomed warm heartedly by lord Vishnu and Lakshmi. Goddess Lakshmi dropped the learning (Vidya) named Manorath (by which all the wishes could be fulfilled) in the begging bowl (Skull) of Bhariav. Bhairav became extremely happy by this gift. Lord Shiva had created a oegrass named 'Brahmahatya' and had instructed Bhairav to reach Kashi, before her. According to lord Shiva this way the sin committed by Bhairav could successfully atoned.

After being blessed by goddess Lakshmi, Bhairav took the permission of Lord Vishnu and proceeded towards Kashi. After his departure asked Brahmahatya to stop chasing Bhairav. But she refused saying that she was just following the instruction of Lord Shiva.

When Bhairav reached Kashi, Brahmahatya too came near the outskirts of the city, but could not enter it because of Lord Shiva's power instead she entered in to the netherworld (Patal loka). As soon as Bhairav had entered Kashi. The begging-bowl (skull) fell on the ground and thus Bhairav got liberated from his sins. Bhairav was extremely relieved. The place where the skull of Brahma had fallen, later on became as Kapal mochan- the most sacred place of pilgrimage.

SHIVA TAKES INCARNATION AS SHARABH

While describing about the incarnation of Sharabh Suta told sages-

"When Vishnu took his incarnation of Nrisimha to kill the demon king Hiranyakashipu, his anger could not be subdued even after the killing of Hiranyakashipu. His anger had frightened all the three worlds. Lord Brahma sent Prahlada to Nrisimha so that his anger gets cool down. Prahlada prayed to Nrisimha. Nrisimha took him in his embrace but still his anger was not subdued."

"All the deities went to lord Shiva and requested to him to cool down Vishnu's anger. Lord Shiva then sent Bhairav and Veerbhadra to Nrisimha. When Veerbhadra politely requested Nrisimha to cool down, he (Nrisimha) tried to pounce on him (Veerbhadra). Right then Lord Shiva appeared in his most devastating form. He was looking frightening in his giant form and with thousands of hand. His appearance was resembling a huge cannibal bird. Lord Shiva injured Nrisimha with his giant wings and after carrying Lord Vishnu in his giant wings and after carrying lord Vishnu in his arms he flew in the sky. Lord Vishnu was so frightened that he became unconscious."

"After regarding his consciousness Lord Nrisimha appeared in his form of Lord Vishnu and eulogized Shiva, which made lord Shiva very pleased. Lord Shiva wore the head of Nrisimha with the garland of skull in his neck. The remaining body was carried by Veerbhadra and abandoned at a mountain."

VISHWANAR RECEIVES BOON FROM SHIVA

Once upon a time, there used to live a brahmin named Vishwanar who was a great devotee of lord Shiva. Shuchismati was his wife who was a devout wife. Being pleased by her sense of dutifulness, Vishwanar tried to reward his wife.

Shuchismati expressed her desire of having a son just like lord Shiva. Vishwanar went to Kashi to please Lord Shiva by his penance. He worshipped Vishveshwar linga with supreme devotion. Lord Shiva became very pleased by his devotion and he appeared before Vishwanar from the Shivalinga. When Vishwanar expressed his desire, lord Shiva agreed to take birth as his Son. Vishwanar came back to his house happily.

SHIVA'S INCARNATION AS GRIHAPATI

In due course of time, Shuchismati became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful child. The whole family celebrated the birth of the child. The whole family celebrated the birth of the child. The name giving ceremony of that child was attended by all the deities and sages including lord Shiva and Parvati. Lord Brahma named the child as Grihapati. When Grihapati attained the age of five, his sacred thread ceremony was performed. Within a year he became proficient in all the Vedas and other sacred texts.

When Grihapati attained the age of nine, Narada came and informed Vishwanar that death of Grihapati was imminent because of the evil effects of the planetary combinations. Vishwanar and Shuchismati were saddened and started crying.

Grihapati then consoled his parents and proceeded towards Kashi to do penance so that the 'death' could be conqured. Grihapati commenced his penance at Kashi. The deity Indra arrived there and requested him to demand anything he wished but Grihapati refused. Indra became furious and tried to attack him with his weapon-Vajra. Grihapati was very terrified.

Right then Lord Shiva appeared and Indra had to retreat from the scene. Lord Shiva blessed Grihapati by saying - "What to say about this lightning - Vajra, even Kalvajra would not be able to kill you."

Grihapati became very pleased. The Shivalinga which he worshipped, later on became famous as 'Agnishwar linga. Lord Shiva made Grihapati the lord of all the directions.

LORD SHIVA'S INCARNTION AS YAKSHESHWAR

During the time when ocean was being churned first of all poison appeared from it. The deities were very terrified to see the tremendous heat it generated. They went to lord Shiva and requested to protect them from the heat of that poison. Lord Shiva drank all the poison but did not let it pass down his throat.

After the poison, Nectar appeared from the ocean, which was drunk by the deities. The demons too wanted to drink the nectar, so a tremendous battle ensued between them and the deities. The deities became victorious in this battle because they had become immortal due to the effect of the Nectar. This victory made the deities very arrogant.

Lord Shiva was very concerned about their arrogant nature. He went to them in the guise of a Yaksha. He asked as to what was it that had made them so arrogant. The deities replied that their arrogance stemmed from victory over the demons. Lord Shiva who was disguised as Yaksha replied- "Your pride is based on false notion, because you did not achieve victory due to somebody's grace and blessing."

The deities disagreed with him. Lord Shiva then asked them to cut the grass if they considered themselves so mighty. He then kept a grass leaf in front of them. Each of the deities tried to cut that grass with their respective weapons but remained unsuccessful in their attempts. They were all amazed. Suddenly a heavenly voice was heard which said that the Yaksha was none other than Lord Shiva himself. The deities realized their mistakes. They apologized to lord Shiva. After vanquishing the false pride of the deities lord Shiva disappeared.

TEN INCARNATIONS OF SHIVA AND SHAKTI

Describing about the ten incarnations and their corresponding power (Shakti), Suta said-

The first incarnation of lord Shiva was as Mahakal and his Shakti was called Mahakali. Lord Shiva took his second incarnation as Tar and his Shakti was called 'Tara'. The third incarnation of Lord Shiva was as Bhuvaneshwar and his Shakti was called 'Bhuvaneshwari'. Lord Shiva took his fourth incarnation as 'Shodash' who was also known as 'Srividdyesh' and his Shakti was called 'Shodashi' or 'Sri'.

Lord Shiva took his fifth incarnation as Bhairav and his Shakti was called 'Bhairavi'. The sixth incarnation of Lord Shiva is famous as 'Chhinamastak' and his Shakti by the name of 'Chhinamasta. Lord Shiva took his seventh incarnation as 'Dhoomvan' and his Shakti was known as 'Dhoomvati. The eighth incarnation was as Baglamukh and his Shakti as Baglamukhi. The nineth incarnation of lord Shiva became famous as Matang and his Shakti as 'Matangi'. Lord Shiva took his tenth incarnation as 'Kamal' and his Shakti as Kamala. If these ten incarnations of Shiva are worshipped along with his ten Mahavidyas then a man attains salvation.

THE ORIGIN OF ELEVEN RUDRAS

Once, the deities went to sage Kashyapa after being tormented by the demons. They complained to him about the misdeeds of the demons, who also happened to be their step brothers. Sage Kashyapa became extremely furious, when he heard about the misdeeds of his sons - the demons. To protect the deities from his sons, he commenced a penance to please lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva became very pleased by his penance and appeared before him. He asked Kashyapa to demand anything he wished. Kashyapa then requested Lord Shiva to take birth as his son and destroy the demons. Lord Shiva blessed him and said - 'So be it'.

Lord Shiva, later on took birth as eleven Rudras from the womb of his wife Surabhi. The name of these eleven rudras were as follows:-

1) Kapali, 2) Pingal, 3) Bheem, 4) Virupaksha, 5) Vilohit, 6) Shastra, 7) Ajapad, 8)Ahirbudhnya, 9) Shambhu, 10) Chand and 11) Bhav.

These eleven Rudras fought battles with the demons and killed them. The deities were relieved after the death of the demons. They worshipped these eleven rudras to express their gratitude and indebtedness.

SHIVA'S INCARNATION AS DURVASA

Describing about the Lord Shiva's incarnation as Durvasa, Suta told the deities:- "once Atri - the manasputra of lord Brahma went to do penance at the bank of the river Nivindhya which flew by the foothills of Trayakshakul mountain as per the instructions of Lord Brahma himself. He commenced doing a tremendous penance. The effects of his penance was such that devastating flames of fire manifested from his head. The fire spread in all the three world in no time. The deities were terrified by the death and destruction caused by the fire in all the three worlds. They went to lord Brahma to seek his help. Lord Brahma took them to lord Vishnu and revealed to him about the destruction caused by the fire. All of them went to lord Shiva and told him everything.

Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva went to Atri and blessed him. Atri recognized them. He eulogized them. Later on Atri's wife Anusuya gave birth to three sons, who in fact were the incarnations of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. Lord Brahma incarnation as the Moon, Lord Vishnu as Dutt and Shiva took incarnation as Durvasa.

Durvasa had tested the religiousness and virtuosity of numerous people. He had also tested the religiousness of king Ambareesh, who ruled over 'Saptadweepa'. Once king Ambareesh had observed a fast on 'Ekadashi'. Next day, when he was about to break his fast sage Durvasa arrived accompanied by his large number of disciples.

Durvasa was very furious with king Ambareesh. He said-

"You had invited me for this particular, but you have also insulted me by breaking the fast by drinking water in my absence."

Sage Durvasa would have burnt king Ambareesh to ashes by his curse, had not Sudarshan-the weapon of Vishnu came to his rescue. Sudarshan then tried to burn sage Durvasa when suddenly a heavenly voice was heard from the sky which said-

"Durvasa is no one but the incarnation of lord Shiva himself." Hearing this Sudarshan's anger was pacified. King Ambareesh then begged his forgiveness from sage Durvasa.

INCARNATION OF HANUMAN

Lord Shiva was so infatuated by the appearance of lord Vishnu in his form of Mohini roopa that his semen was released on the ground. This semen was established by the Saptarishis in the womb of Anjani, with the permission of lord Shiva himself.

In this way was born the mighty Hanuman. Once, during his childhood Hanuman had swallowed the Sun, which he released only after the deities prayed to him. The sun accepted him as his disciple and made him proficient in all the learning's. He started living with Sugriva as per the instructions of his teacher - the Sun.

During the time of Sri Rama's exile, Sugriva developed friendship with him with the help of Hanuman. Hanuman helped Sri Rama in finding the whereabouts of Sita, who had been abducted by the demon king Ravana. He took a giant leap and jumped across the ocean. He went to Ashok-Vatika where Ravana had kept Sita. He gave Sri Rama's ring to her and consoled her by saying that very soon Sri Rama was going to arrive and release her from Ravana's captivity. He also burnt the whole Lanka by his burning tail and returned to Sri Rama to give him Sita's news while the battle was fought between Sri Rama and Ravana Lakshmana got seriously injured and became unconscious. Hanuman saves his life by bringing the whole of mountain, upon which the herb Sanjivani grew.

Being present at the service of Sri Rama, Hanuman performed his duties marvelously. Worship of Hanuman helps a man to become free from all kinds of problems, diseases and hurdles etc.

SHIVA'S INCARNATION AS MAHESH

Once, Bhairav who was entrusted with the job of a doorkeeper became so infatuated with Parvati's beauty that he tried to prevent her from going outside.

Parvati became furious and cursed him to be born as a mortal man on the earth. Bhairav became very sad but now the damage had been already done. Bhairav later on appeared in the form of a man named 'Vetal'.

Vetal prayed to lord Shiva who took his incarnation as Mahesh and goddess Parvati as Girija.

LORD VISHNU CREATES TURBULENCES

After the churning of the ocean had been accomplished, numerous things had emerged out from the ocean. Jewels, Moon, Lakshmi, Poison, Uchchaishrava horse, Airavat elephant, Vessel containing Nectar were some of the things which emerged out from the ocean after the churning.

A tremendous battle was fought between the deities and the demons to have control over the vessel containing Nectar. The demons had snatched that vessel from the deities.

By the divine inspiration of lord Shiva, Vishnu appeared in the form of Mohini the enchanting beauty. He successfully recovered that vessel from the control of the demons.

To distract the attention of the demons from the nectar, lord Vishnu created numerous enchanting beauties. When the demons saw them, they forcibly carried these enchanting beauties to their abode, the Nether world. After that they again returned to take control of the Nectar.

By that time, Vishnu had made the deities drink all the nectar. When the demons came to know about this, they became very furious and attacked the deities. A tremendous battle ensured between both the sides. Ultimately the demons got defeated. To save their lives the demon ran towards their abode. Lord Vishnu chased the demons and entered the Netherland. He killed all the demons.

Lord Vishnu then saw those enchanting beauties who had been abducted by the demons. Ironically, lord Vishnu got infatuated by their beauty- who were his own creation. Lord Vishnu remained there for a long time.

SHIVA'S INCARNATION AS VRISHABH

During his stay in the Netherland, many sons were born to Lord Vishnu, who were very wicked and cruel. These sons of lord Vishnu started tormenting the inhabitants of all the three world. All the deities and the sages went to lord Shiva to take his help. They requested him to kill the cruel sons of Vishnu and reestablish him (lord Vishnu) in his own abode, which he had abandoned for the Nether world.

Lord Shiva went to the Netherworld in the form of an Ox (Vrishabh). He killed all the sons of lord Vishnu with his sharp horns. Seeing the death of his sons, lord Vishnu came forward to fight him. He attacked lord Shiva with his various weapons, but lord Shiva remained harmless. Ultimately lord Vishnu was able to recognise him. He eulogized lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva then requested him to return back to Vishnuloka, he accepted. Lord Vishnu left his 'Sudarshan chakra' in the Netherworld and went to his own abode, where lord Shiva presented him a new Sudarshan chakra.

KILLING OF VRITTRASUR

Once, when the deities were defeated by Vrittrasur, they went to lord Brahma after hiding their weapons in the hermitage of sage Dadhichi. They requested lord Brahma to reveal about the means, how vrittrasur could be killed.

Lord Brahma advised the deities to male a weapon named Vajra from the bones of sages Dadhichi, as Dadhichi's bones were even harder than the Vajra of Indra by the blessings of lord Shiva.

All the deities then went to the hermitage of Dadhichi in the leadership of Brihaspati. On being enquired about the purpose of their visit, Indra said that he wanted his bones so that a weapon could be made out of it.

Dadhichi gave up his life by his yogic power. Indra then instructed Kamdhenu to extract the bones from the dead body of Dadhichi. The bones were on given to 'Twashta' to construct the weapon-Vajra. Twashta took the weapons to Vishwakarma who at last constructed the Vajra.

Indra killed Vrittrasur with this weapon. When Suvarcha - the wife of Dadhichi came to know about the cunning deeds of the deities, she cursed them to become animals.

SHIVA'S INCARNATION AS YATINATH

There used to live a bheel named Ahuk of the Arbudachal mountain. His wife was Ahuka. Both of them were supreme devotee of lord Shiva.

Once, lord Shiva wanting to test their devotion, appeared before them disguised a hermit. Ahuk honored his guest and treated him very well. Lord Shiva then requested him to give shelter for the whole night. Ahuk expressed his inability as he had a very small hut, in which only two people could be accommodate at a time.

But his wife intervened and requested Ahuk to sleep outside the hut with his arms, as it would be inappropriate on their part to miss this chance of proving their hospitality.

The hermit, who in reality was lord Shiva slept with Ahuk's wife inside the hut, while Ahuk himself slept outside the hut. Unfortunately Ahuk was killed by a wild animal while he was asleep.

In the morning when lord Shiva found that Ahuk had died, his heart was filled with grief. But Ahuka consoled him by saying that she was proud of her husband as he had given up his life for a noble cause. Naturally she was very much saddened by her husband's death so she decided to give up her life by jumping into the burning pyre.

Right then lord Shiva appeared in his real form and blessed her by saying-

"In his next birth your husband would take birth in a royal family. He would become famous as Nala and you would be born as Damayanti to king Bhima of Vidarbha. I would myself appear in the form of a swan and help both of you to unite. After enjoying all the pleasures of this world both of you would attain to may abode.

After saying thus, lord Shiva established himself as immovable Shivalinga, which later on became famous as Achaleshwar linga.

SHIVA'S INCARNATION AS 'KRISHNA DARSHAN'

King Nabhag was born in the nineth geneology of Shradhadeva who himself was a descendant of Ikshavaku. Nabhag was the grandfather of Ambareesh. During his childhood Nabhag left his home for 'gurukula to get education. In his absence his brothers got the wealth of the kingdom distributed among themselves.

When Nabhag returned home after the completion of his education, he demanded his share of wealth from his brothers. His brothers told him that they had forgotten to fix his share as he was absent at the time when wealth was being distributed. They advised him to go and meet their father.

Nabhag went to his father and made the same request. His father advised him to go to sage Angiras who was trying to accomplish a yagya, but was not being able to accomplish it because of his attachment.

"Go and try to eliminate his attachment by your discourses. This way sage Angiras on being pleased with you would give all the wealth which remains after the completion of the yagya." said his father.

Nabhag did the same. He went to the place where sage Angiras was performing his yagya. He preached sage Angiras on the virtues of Religiousness. As a result he became free from all sorts of attachments and the yagya was successfully accomplished.

Sage Angiras was very pleased by Nabhag's knowledge of religion. He gave all the remaining wealth of the yagya to Nabhag. Just then lord Shiva arrived there in his incarnation of Krishna darshan and tried to prevent sage Angiras from donating the wealth to Nabhag, instead he staked his own claim.

Nabhag told lord Shiva that, since the wealth was given to him by sage Angiras himself, it naturally belonged to him. Lord Shiva then sent Nabhag to his father Shradhadev to know about his opinion. Nabhag went to Shradha deva who revealed to him that the person who was staking his claims on the wealth was none other then lord Shiva. He also told him that whatever remained after the accomplishment of the yagya belongs to lord Shiva only.

Nabhag was now satisfied. He went back to lord Shiva and narrated everything what his father had said. He then eulogized and worshipped lord Shiva. Lord Shiva blessed him which helped Nabhag to attain salvation.

LORD SHIVA APPEARS AS A BEGGAR

There was a king named Satyarath who ruled over Vidarbha. Once he was attacked by a neighbouring king. Satyarath was killed in that battle. His wife somehow managed to save her life by hiding in a forest. The queen was pregnant at that time.

At the shore of a pond she gave birth to a child. She was feeling thirsty, so she went into the pond to quench her thirst. Unfortunately she was killed by a crocodile who used to live in that pond.

The hungry child started crying. A beggar woman arrived there with her one year old child. Though her heart was filled with compassion seeing the hungry child cry but still she was hesitating to take him in her lap.

Right then lord Shiva appeared as a beggar and advised her to bring up the orphan child. The beggar woman asked about the origin of the child. Lord Shiva told her that the father of this child Satyarath in his previous life had left the pradoshavrata incomplete. He had also ordered his men to severe the head of his enemy. After this, he had broken his fast in his impure state, without taking a bath.

As a result, Satyarath met a premature-death in his next life. The mother of this orphan child too committed a sin by deceitfully getting the co-wife of her husband killed. As a result she was devoured by a crocodile in her next life.

Describing about the child lord Shiva said-

"This child was brahmin by birth in his previous life, but still he never engaged himself in any religious or virtuous deeds. So in his next life, though he was born in a royal family, still he remained poor. You must take this child under your control and after his sacred-thread ceremony gets accomplished, you must engage him in my (Shiva's) devotion. If you don't obey my command then it would not be good for the welfare of your own child."

After saying like this lord Shiva disappeared. The beggar woman took that child to her house and brought him up with great love and care. When he grew up his sacred-thread ceremony was performed and then he was initiated into the worship of lord Shiva.

By the blessing of lord Shiva, Satyarath's son formed a pot full of gold while he was taking both in a pond. Now the beggar family became very rich. Once again when he had gone to a forest he met a 'gandharva' princess to whom he ultimately got married. This way he became a king. He lived happily with his mother and his brother.

LORD SHIVA APPEARS IN THE GUISE OF INDRA (SURESHWAR)

Upamanyu, the son of sage Vyaghrapad, was brought up in his maternal uncle's home since his childhood. One day Upanyu was very hungry. His mother gave him milk to drink which was not enough to satisfy his hunger. He demanded more and started crying. His mother mined some wheat flour in the water and gave him to drink as there was no milk left in the house. Upamanyu finding the taste different told his mother that it was not milk but something else. He again started crying.

His mother told him that if he wanted milk then he should worship lord Shiva as he only was capable of making the milk available. Upamanyu proceeded towards the Himalaya and started doing penance to please lord Shiva- continuously chanting the mantra Om Namah Shivay. His penance generated so much of heat that all the three worlds started burning.

To test his devotion, Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati appeared before him disguised as Indra and Indrani respectively. Both of them told Upamanyu to stop doing penance. They said-

"We Indra and Indrani are extremely pleased by your devotion. Stop worshipping Shiva. We will fulfill all your desires."

Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati did not stop at this. They even cursed Shiva. Upamanyu became very furious and got up to attack the abuser Indra.

Shiva and Parvati were satisfied by his total dedication and devotion. They revealed their real identity and blessed him. Shiva promised Upamanyu that he would be present in the vicinity of his hermitage along with Parvati forever.

Upamanyu returned back to his home and narrated the whole story to his mother who was very pleased. Lord Shiva got the name 'Sureshwar' because he appeared in the guise of Indra.

SAGE VYASA ADVISES THE PANDAVAS TO WORSHIP SHIVA

After loosing their whole kingdom to Duryodhan in the gamble, Pandavas went to the dwait forest accompanied by Draupadi. They started living in a place which was donated by Velotra Sun.

Duryodhan instigated sage Durvasa to torment the Pandavas. Sage Durvasa went to the place where Pandavas were staying, accompanied by thousands of his disciples. He demanded food from the Pandavas. How could have the Pandavas satiated from the hunger of thousands of people. Lord Krishna came to their rescue and saved them from being disagraced. As a result Durvasa and his disciples went back satisfied.

Lord Krishna advised the Pandavas to worship lord Shiva, but they neglected that advice. As a result their sufferings increased in magnitude. One day sage Vyasa arrived there. The Pandavas gave a rousing reception. Considering Arjuna to be the most capable among the Pandavas, Vyasa taught him the method of doing 'Parthiva' worship. Later on Arjuna went to the Indrakeel mountain to please Indra by his penance. Sage Vyasa preached Yudhisthira to remain firm on his virtuously and religiousness.

Arjuna's penance generated so much of heat that all the living creature of the three worlds were unable to bear its scorching heat. All the living creatures of the three worlds went to Indra to seek his help.

Indra went to Arjuna in the guise of a celibate and asked about the purpose for which he was doing penance. Arjuna told him that he wanted to defeat the Kauravas. Indra then told Arjuna that it was not in his capacity to help him achieve victory over the Kauravas, because of Aswatthama who was a partial incarnation of lord Shiva.

Indra advised Arjuna to please lord Shiva by his penance so that his wishes could be fulfilled. Indra then entrusted some of his men, the job of Arjuna's security and went back to his abode. Arjuna commenced his penance to please lord Shiva.

LORD SHIVA APPEARS IN GUISE OF 'KIRAT' AND BLESSES ARJUNA

Arjuna did a tremendous penance by standing only on one leg and concentrating his gaze upon the blazing sun. The deities became very impressed by Arjuna's penance. They went to lord Shiva and requested him to bless Arjuna. Lord Shiva accepted their request.

Duryodhan had sent a demon named Mooka to kill Arjuna. Mooka had disguised himself as a boar. Arjuna was engrossed in his meditation, when suddenly his concentration got disturbed by a loud noise. He opened his eyes and saw Mooka being chased by a band of Kirats. In fact it was none other than Shiva who had appeared in the guise of Kirat.

Both Arjuna and Lord Shiva struck the boar with their respective arrows at the same time. As a result the boar was killed.

Lord Shiva sent his ganas to bring back the arrow. Similarly Arjuna too went near the dead boar to bring his arrow. Arjuna found his arrow lying on the ground. He picked it up in his hand. Right then the ganas arrived there and asked Arjuna to return that arrow as it belonged to their master (Shiva). But Arjuna refused to part with his arrow. Instead he asked the ganas, to convey his challenge to their master to have a dual with him.

The ganas went back to lord Shiva and narrated the whole story to him. Lord Shiva accepted Arjuna's challenge and went to fight him. His ganas accompanied him. Arjuna defeated all the ganas of Shiva. In the end Lord Shiva came forward to have a dual fight with him. Shiva was very much impressed by his valour. He revealed his real identity. Arjuna was very ashamed that he fought with Shiva. Lord Shiva consoled him and gave his weapon Pashupat to Arjuna.

THE TWELVE JYOTIRLINGAS

Describing about the twelve Jyotirlingas, Suta told the sages:- "There are twelve Jyotirlingas which are as Follows : 1) Somnath in Saurashtra, 2) MallikArjuna in Sri Shail, 3) Mahakal in Ujjain, 4) Amareshwar in Omkar, 5) Kedar in the Himalaya, 6)Bhimashankar at the bank of Bhima river. 7) Vishwanath in Varanasi. 8)Trayambakeshwar ar the bank of Gautami river, 9) Baidyanath at Chitabhumi, 10)Nagesh which is between Darukvan dwarika and Bhet dwarika 11)Rameshwar at Betubandh and 12) Dhushmesh in Shivalaya.

These above mentioned twelve Jyotirlingas are considered to the very sacred. A devotee who pays a visit to any of these places and worship, gets all of his wished fulfilled.

Out of these twelve Jyotirlingas, Somnath Jyotirlinga is belived to destroy the sorrows of Moon. A devotee who worships this Jyotirlinga gets cured from incurable diseases like leprosy etc. enjoys all kinds of worldly pleasures and attains salvation.

Similarly having a darshan of MallikArjuna helps a devotee to fulfill all of his desires.

Having a darshan of Mahakal at Ujjain helps a devotee to fulfill all kinds of desire and achieve salvation.

Similarly if a devotee merely touches the idol of Omkar linga then he achieves the desired fruits.

Kedarlinga is situated in the Himalayas and is considered to be very sacred.

Lord Shiva took his sixth incarnation as Bhima Shankar to kill the demon Bhima. This incarnation of Shiva tool place at a place called Kamarupa in Assam.

The seventh incarnation of lord Shiva was as Vishwanath at Kashi. This Jyotirlinga is considered to be very sacred and fulfiller of all the desires of a man.

Lord Shiva took his eighth incarnation at the bank of river Gautami at the request of sage Gautam. This Jyotirlinga too is considered to be very sacred and a fulfiller of all the desires of a man.

The ninth incarnation of Shiva was as Baidyanath at Deoghar in Bihar. This Jyotirlinga was established by the demon King Ravana. A devotee who worships this Jyotirlinga gets all of his wishes fulfilled. Because of this, it ia also known as Kamanalinga. Devotees carry the holy water of the Ganges from Sultanganj and both the idol of Baidyanath in the months of Shravana and Bhadrapaksha according to the Hindu calendar.

Lord Shiva took his tenth incarnation to kill the demon Daruk who used to live in Daruk forest. A devotee who worships Nagesh, never faces any calamity. The eleventh incarnation of lord Shiva was as Rameshwar linga, this linga was established by Sri Rama while the construction of a bridge over the sea was going on. Having a darshan of this Jyotirlinga bestowes both worldly pleasures and salvation.

Lord Shiva took his twelfth incarnation as Dhumeshwar after being pleased by Dhushma - the wife of Sumedha. Having a darshan of this Jyotirlinga helps a devotee to fulfill all of his desires. All the above mentioned twelve Jyotirlingas are very sacred and give total accomplishment to the devotees.

PART FOUR KOTI RUDRA SAMHITA

THE GREATNESS OF 'UPALINGAS'

After describing about the twelve Jyotirlinga, Suta mentioned about the various Upalingas originating from them. The Upalinga named Someshwar is situated at a place where the earth meets the ocean. This Upalinga is also known as 'Antakesh'.

The Upalinga originating from MallikArjuna is famous by the name of 'Rudreshwar'. Similarly the Upalinga originating from Mahakal Jyotirlinga is known as 'Dughdhesh'.

The Upalinga manifesting from Omkar jyotirlinga is famous as 'Kardameshwar'. The Upalinga manifesting from Kedareshwar jyotirlinga is known as Bhuteshwar and is situated at the bank of Yamuna River.

The Upalinga manifesting from Bhima Shankar Jyotirlinga is famously known as 'Bheemeshwar'. The Upalingas manifesting from Nageshwar, Rameshwar and Dhushmeshwar Jyotirlingas are known as Bhuteshwar, Gupteshwar and Vyagreshwar respectively.

All these upalingas are considered to be very sacred. A devotee who has darshan of these Upalingas gets liberated from all of his sins.

Apart from these twelve Jyotirlingas and Upalingas, there are numerous other lingas, which have great religious importance. They are Kritikavaseshwar, Tilmandeshwar, Bhuteshwar, Batukeshwar, Pureshwar, Siddhanateshwar, Sringeshwar, Gopeshwar, Rangeshwar, Rameshwar, Atrishwar, Mahabal Linga Kameshwar, Ganeshwar, Shukreshwar, Chandrashekar, Rishishwar, Laliteshwar, Pashupatishwar, (Pashupatinath), Kumtinath and Andhakeshwar etc.

ATRI AND ANUSUYA DO PENANACE

Sage Atri and his wife Anusuya were doing penance in the forest called Kamad, situated near the Chitrakut mountain. Once it did not rain for many days. As a result people living in that area faced a severe drought.

Anusuya requested her husband to help out the people from their hardships. Sage Atri sat down to meditate. One by one, his disciples deserted him. Only Anusuya remained with him. She spent her days worshipping the Parthiva lingas and circumambulating sage Atri who was engrossed in his meditation. She had vowed not to have a single morsel of food till it rained.

All the deities became very pleased with their penance. They arrived at the place where both of them were doing penance and after giving blessings went back to their respective abodes.

Lord Shiva and river Ganges stayed there. It did not rain for fifty four years. Both sage Atri and Anusuya continued with their respective penance.

While doing penance, sage Atri felt thirsty. He requested Anusuya to fetch some water. Anusuya went with a Kamandal, in search of water but did not find it anywhere.

Ganga appeared before her and said- "I am very pleased with you. You can demand anything from me you like."

Anusuya demanded only a Kamandal full of water for her husband. Ganga instructed her to dig up a pit and when it was done she entered into that pit. Anusuya filled her Kamandal with the water from that pit and went back to her thirsty husband.

After quenching his thirst, Atri enquired from Anusuya as to where did she find water. Anusuya narrated the whole story. Both of them then went back to the place where Anusuya had met Ganga. Both of them requested Ganga to stay at that very place. Ganga agreed to remain there on the condition that Anusuya donates all the virtues attained by her husband by worshipping Lord Shiva for one year.

Anusuya donated all the virtues, without any hesitation. Lord Shiva became very much pleased by their charitable tendencies. He appeared before them. After eulogizing, Atri requested lord Shiva to remain in his hermitage accompanied by Parvati. Lord Shiva agreed to do so. Ganga also stayed with them. Later on Atri performed a grand Yagya after the completion of which it rained heavily. Thus Atri ended the phase of drought by his tremendous penance.

River Mandakani flows from that same 'Pit' which Anusuya had dugged up. The Shivalinga, which was worshipped by Anusuya during that time later on, came to be known as Atrishwar Linga.

THE BRAHMIN WOMAN ATTAINS TO HEAVEN

Once upon a time, there lived a brahmin at a place called 'Karni' situated at the bank of river 'Reva'. When the brahmin became old, he went to Kashi after leaving behind his wife to live with his sons. After sometime the brahmin died.

When the brahmins sons came to know about his death, they went to Kashi and performed his last rites. After some days the brahmins woman died too. The Brahmin's son - Suvas again went to Kashi carrying the ashes of their dead mother as per her own wish.

On his way, Suvad became a guest of another brahmin. Suvad witnessed an amazing even in the night, in which he saw his host trying to milk the cow. At first he allowed the calf to drink the cow's milk for sometime. His host then moved away the calf from the cow. The calf was still hungry and was not willing to move away from the cow. The brahmins trashed the calf very badly. This made the cow very sad and vowed to teach that wicked brahmin a lesson.

The calf tried his best to convince his mother against doing this as her action might make her commit the gravest of sins - the brahmahatya. But the cow was not worried, as she knew the method of nullifying that sin.

Suvad was surprised that the cow knew the method of nullifying the sin of brahmahatya. Next morning, the brahmin entrusted the job of milking the cow, the brahmins' son gave a severe trashing to the calf who was unwilling to move away from his mother.

The angry cow lifted the Brahmin's son with her horns and dashed him against the ground. The Brahmin's son died on the spot. When the brahmin returned to his home he became very furious on seeing his son dead. He drove both the cow and the calf out of his house, after beating them very badly.

The colour of the cow had turned blue due to the trashing she got from her brahmin. The cow went to the temple of Nandikeshwar, situated at the bank of river Narmada. To neutralize the sin of Brahmahatya she took dip in the water of river Narmada for three times. As a result she regained her original colour.

Suvad had followed the cow all along the way. He was amazed to see the cow regaining her original colour. He proceeded on his further journey towards Kashi. He met a beautiful lady on the way who enquired as to where was he going. Suvad told her that he was going to immense the ashes of her mother in the holy water of the river Ganges.

The lady advised him to immerse the ashes in the water of Narmada itself, as the holy Ganga herself comes to meet Narmada on the seventh day of Vaishakh every year.

"Today is the same auspicious day when the holy Ganga will be coming to meet Narmada." Said the beautiful woman. She also told him that immersing the ashes in the waters of Narmada would help his mother to attain to the divine abode.

This beautiful lady was none other than Ganga herself. After advising Suvad she disappeared. Suvad followed the instruction of that beautiful lady. He immersed the ashes in the waters of Narmada. He saw his mother attaining a divine body. His mother blessed Suvad and then attained to the abode of Lord Shiva.

MAHABAL SHIVALINGA

Describing about Mahabal Shivalinga, Suta said to the sages- "Mahabal Shivalinga is situated at Gokarna area. A devotee who has a darshan of Mahabal Shivalinga on the eighth or fourteenth day of 'Ardranakshatra falling on Monday, becomes free from all of his sins and attains to the Shivaloka."

Having a darshan of this Shivalinga on any other day too helps a man to attain to the abode of Almighty. All the deities, ancestors, holy rivers like Ganga and the Nagas stand guard on all the four entrances of Mahabal temple"

"Even the most degraded sinner attains salvation if he worships Mahabal Shivalinga on the fourteenth day of Magha (dark lunar phase). On this day people come from all over India to see the grand festival."

THE REASON BEHIND PHALLIC WORSHIP

The sages curiously asked Suta about the purpose with which Parvati had decided to appear in the form of a Vagina. Suta narrated the following tale:

"Long long ago, some sages used to do penance in a Shiva temple situated near Daruk forest. One day they went to collect woods needed for the Yagya. Lord Shiva wanted to test their devotion, so he arrived before the sages' wives in naked position holding his own phallus in his hand. The wives of the sages became frightened by Shiva's appearance.

"When the sages returned after collecting woods, they became very furious to see a naked person luring their wives. They asked Shiva to reveal his identity. When Shiva did not give any reply, they cursed him to become a phallus."

"The Phallus fell down from the hand of Lord Shiva and generated so much of heat that all the three worlds started to burn. The sages became very nervous and went to seek the help of lord Brahma. Lord Brahma revealed to then that the person who they cursed was none other than Lord Shiva himself. He also instructed them to please goddess Parvati, as she only could have them from Shiva's wrath by appearing in the form of Vagina and holding the Phallus."

"The sages followed the instruction of Lord Brahma. Goddess Parvati appeared in the form of Vagina and held Shiva's phallus in herself. The sages then worshipped the Shivalinga. This jyotirlinga became famous by the name of Hatkeshwar."

THE ORIGIN OF BATUKNATH

Long long ago there lived a brahmin by the name of Dadhichi. His wife to a low caste, though his son - Sudarshan was very learned. The name of his wife was Tukula. She had her husband under total control and influence.

Sudarshan had four sons. One day Dadhichi planned to go out due to some work. He entrusted the job of Shiva's worship to Sudarshan. Sudarshan worshipped the idol of Shiva daily without any fail.

On the Shivaratri day, Sudarshan too had observed a fast like rest of his family members. He worshipped Shiva's idol in the morning as usual and then went to his home. During the night time, he had a sexual relationship with his wife. After that, he sat down to worship without purifying himself. Lord Shiva became very furious by his action. He immobilized him by his curse.

Dadhichi was very sad to see the condition of his son. He commenced a tremendous penance to please goddess Parvati. After being pleased by his penance, Parvati requested Lord Shiva to liberate Sudarshan from his curse.

Lord Shiva became pleased and blessed Sudarshan by saying that he would become famous as Batuknath and also that the worship of Batuknath would amount to the worship of lord Shiva.

THE ORIGIN OF SOMNATH

The moon had twenty seven wives, one of whom was Rohini. The moon loved Rohini very much, which made the rest of his wives very jealous and angry. They went to their father - Daksha and complained about Moon's behaviour.

Daksha went to Moon and advised him to give proper attention to all of his wives. But it did not have any effect on him and he continued giving special treatment to Rohini.

When Daksha came to know about this, he became very curious. He cursed Moon to become weak and devoid of radiance. The moon then sent the deities to lord Brahma to seek his help. At first, lord Brahma became very angry with Moon, but later on he cooled down and told the deities, that Moon can get liberated from the curse, if he chants 'Mahamrityunjaya mantra' by going to Prabhus area.

Moon went to Prabhas area and chanted Mahamrityunjaya mantra for ten crore time after sitting in one posture. Lord Shiva appeared before him and asked him to demand anything he wished.

Moon requested lord Shiva to liberate him from the curse given by Daksha. Lord Shiva told moon that the words of Daksha can never became untrue. However he blessed moon by saying that he would wane during the dark lunar phase due to the curse, but wax during the dark lunar phase due to his (Shiva's) blessings. Lord Shiva also provided moon that he would be present along with Parvati near him (moon).

Thus Lord Shiva established himself as Somanath. The deities constructed a 'Kunda' named Chandrakunda. It is believed that the Moon because liberated from the curse by taking a bath in this Punda.

THE ORIGIN OF MALLIKARJUNA

Once, under the influence of Sage Narada, Kartikeya had gone to the Kraunch Mountain to do penance. Shiva and Parvati could not bear the pain of his separation for long. Both of them went to the Kraunch mountain to see him.

When Kartikeya saw them coming he moved to some other place. When lord Shiva saw this he established himself in the form of Jyotirlinga, which later on became famous as MallikArjuna jyotirlinga.

THE ORIGIN OF MAHAKALESHWAR

There used to live a brahmin at Avantikapuri. He was a great devotee of lord Shiva and used to worship daily.

This brahmin had four sons whose names were Devapriya, Medhapriya, Sukrit and Dharmabahu. By the blessings of lord Shiva the brahmin enjoyed a very happy and contented life. After his death, the brahmin's son continued the tradition of Shiva's worship.

There was a mountain named Ratanak on which a demon named Dushan used to live. Being intoxicated by the boons received from Lord Brahma, he used to torment all the people. He had all the surrounding area under his control except the house in which the brahmin family lived.

Dushan ordered his fellow demons to bring the brahmin after capturing them. All the demons went to Avantikapuri and created havoc. They went to the brahmins and told them about Dushan's order. The brahmins were busy doing worship at that time so they did not give ear to their words. The brahmins continued with their worship. The demon became very angry and tried to attack them.

Suddenly the earth cracked with a tremendous sound and lord Shiva manifested from within the cracks. He killed all the demons. He then went to the Ratnamala mountain and killed Dushan. He again returned to the brahmins and expressed his desire of fulfilling their wishes. The brahmins expressed their desire of getting liberated from the bondage's of this world. They also requested him to remain at that place. Lord Shiva accepted their request and established himself in the form of Mahakal.

THE ORIGIN OF OMKARESHWAR

Once, Narada had gone to meet Vindhya mountain. Vindhya was very arrogant in his behaviour. Narada told him that Sumeru mountain was even greater than him and so his false pride had no basis.

Vindhya became very dejected and disheartened. He went to Amgreshwar and started worshipping Shiva after making a Parthiv linga. Lord Shiva became very pleased by his penance. He appeared before Vindhya and blessed him. After sometime the sages too arrived there and worshipped Shiva. They requested lord Shiva to remain at that place forever. Lord Shiva established himself as Paremeshwar Linga. One Shivalinga already existed at Amareshwar, which became famous as Omkareshwar.

THE ORIGIN OF KEDARESHWAR

Two incarnations of Lord Vishnu by the names of Nara and Vishnu did penance at Badrikasharama. Both of them used to worship the idol of Shiva daily. Lord Shiva used to arrive in his subtle form and accept their offerings without being noticed by them.

One day Lord Shiva appeared before them. Nara and Narayana eulogized him and requested to remain at that place forever. Lord Shiva accepted their request and established himself as 'Kedareshwar jyotirlinga'.

THE ORIGIN OF BHIMA SHANKAR

Bhima - the demon, was the son of Kumbhakarna and Karkati. After Kumbhakarna was killed by Sri Rama. Karkati and Bhima went to live at Sahya mountain.

When Bhima grew up he asked Karkati about his father. Karkati told him that his father had been killed by Rama. Bhima swore to avenge his father's death. He did a tremendous penance to please lord Brahma. Brahma appeared before him and blessed him with insurmountable power and strength.

Bhima then drove out the deities from heaven. He went to Kamarupa and defeated the king. He captured the king and put him in prison. The helpless king used to pass his time by chanting the mantra- Om Namah Shivay. His wife worshipped the Parthiva linga of Shiva for the release of the king.

All the deities went at the bank of river Mahakeshi and worshipped the Parthiva linga of lord Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared before them and assured them that the end of Bhima was near.

Lord Shiva went to the king who had been held captive by Bhima. His ganas too accompanied him. All of them waited for the opportune time to kill Bhima.

Meanwhile somebody informed Bhima that the king was doing worship of Shiva in the prison, with the objective of getting Bhima killed.

Bhima arrived at the spot in the prison where the king was worshipping the Parthiva linga of Lord Shiva. He made fun of Shiva and struck the Shivalinga with his sword.

Right then, Lord Shiva appeared. A tremendous battle was fought between both of them. The battle continued for a long period. Sage Narada requested lord Shiva to kill Bhima as soon as it was possible.

Lord Shiva produced fire by his loud roar. In a very short time the fire spread in the whole forest. All the demons including Bhima were burnt to death. The deities and the sages arrived there. They requested Lord Shiva to remain there. Lord Shiva accepted their request and established himself in the form of Bhima Shankar Jyotirlinga.

THE ORIGIN OF VISHVESHWAR

With the desire of giving liberation to the living creatures of this world, lord Shiva had kept some portion of land on his Trishul after separating it from the rest of Brahma's creation. The name of this sacred place is Manikarnika. The Shivalinga by the name of Avinukta was established by lord Shiva himself. Later on this sacred place was brought down from the Trishul and established on the land of Shiva. This sacred place of pilgrimage later on became famous as Kashi and the Shivalinga as Avimukta Visheshwar.

THE ORIGIN OF TRAYAMBAKESHWAR

During the ancient time there lived a famous sage named Gautami. The name of his wife was Ahilya. Once it did not rain for one hundred years as the result of which the whole area was affected by drought.

Sage Gautami did a tremendous penance to please Varuna appeared before Gautam, he was requested to cause rain. But Varuna expressed his inability in causing rain. He told Gautam to please lord Shiva so that his wish could be fulfilled. Later on Varuna instructed Gautam to dig a up a pit, which he (Varuna) filled with water. Varuna blessed Gautam by saying that this pond would never dry up. The sages who had abandoned that place returned there. Everybody became happy and satisfied.

One day, sage Gautam instructed his disciples to fetch some water from that pond. When the disciples reached there, they found the wives of numerous sages present at the bank of the pond. The sages' wives did not allow them to take water and instead they rebuked them. The disciples returned back to the hermitage and narrated the whole story to sage Gautam.

Ahilya pacified the angry disciples and went to the pond to fetch water. From that day onwards this became very daily routine. One day Ahilya met the wives of the sages. They tried to prevent her from fetching water. Not only that they went back to his respective hermitages and filled the ears of their husbands. All the sages became very angry.

The sages worshipped lord Ganesha to please him. When Ganesha appeared, they requested him to drive Gautam out from that place. At first Ganesha was reluctant to accept their demand but when they kept a persisting he agreed at last.

Ganesha entered the field of Gautam in which barley was being cultivated. Ganesha had disguised himself as a cow. He started grazing the barley crops.

When Gautam saw the cow grazing crops, he tried to drive her out from the field by hitting a grass on her back. The artificial cow died instantly. Gautam was very sorry for his act. Meanwhile all the sages from the surrounding area arrived there. They forced Gautam to abandon that place at once.

Gautam left that place and made his hermitage at a little distance from there. One day he came to the sages and asked them as to how could he atone for his sins. The sages told him that his sins could be atoned only when he circumambulates the whole earth thrice, all the while saying, 'I have killed a cow'. They also told him that after that he would have to perform austerities for one month.

If this is not possible then you will have to help Ganga manifest herself and take bath in her water. Otherwise you will have to worship three crores Parthiva lingas. Only then, you can get liberated from the sin of killing a cow," said the sages.

Gautam made the Parthiva lingas and started worshipping them. Lord Shiva became very pleased by his devotion and appeared before him. Sage Gautam requested lord Shiva to liberate him from the sins of killing a cow. He also requested lord Shiva to manifest the stream of river Ganga that place.

Lord Shiva tried his best to make him understand that he was innocent and the real culprits that he was innocent and the real culprits were those wicked sages. But, Gautam was unconvinced. At last lord Shiva instructed Ganga to appear in the form of a woman. Gautam eulogized Ganga. By the blessings of lord Shiva Gautam was liberated from his sins of killing a cow. After that Ganga expressed her desire to go back but lord Shiva asked her to remain on the earth till the twenty-eighth nanvantar. Ganga accepted to do that, on the condition that Lord Shiva along with Parvati too would remain present on the earth. Lord Shiva established himself as Trayambakeshwar Jyotirlinga and Ganga became famous as Gautami Ganga.

THE ORIGIN OF BAIDYANATH

The demon king- Ravana did a tremendous penance to please lord Shiva and to get a boon from him. Even after his severe penance when lord Shiva did still not appear, he started offering his heads one by one to lord Shiva. This way he already severed his nine heads and offered them to Shiva. When he was about to severe his last remaining head, just the lord Shiva appeared before him. He blessed Ravana with unparalleled power and strength. Lord Shiva also made him a ten headed demon once again.

But Ravana was not satisfied. He requested lord Shiva to come along with him to Lanka. Lord Shiva gave Ravana s Shivalinga and warned him against keeping it on the earth, as then no power on the earth could lift that Shivalinga from there.

Ravana proceeded with the Shivalinga. On the way he felt the urge to urinate. Ravana gave that Shivalinga to a cowherd boy and went to urinate. The cowherd boy held the Shivalinga for sometime. He felt that the Shivalinga was becoming heavier and heavier. He could not bear the weight of the Shivalinga for too long. He kept it on the ground. When Ravana returned he became very sad after seeing the Shivalinga on the ground. He knew that, now it was impossible to lift it from that place. Ravana established the Shivalinga there, which became famous as 'Baidyanath jyotirlinga'.

THE ORIGIN OF NAGESHWAR JYOTIRLINGA

During ancient times, there lived a demon named Daruk. The name of his wife was Daruka. They used to torment the people living in that area. The residents of that area went to sage 'Aursh' and narrated about their miseries and requested him to end this menace.

'Aursh' assured them that very soon their hardships would come to an end. He then went to do his penance. The deities appeared before him after being pleased by his tremendous penance. Sage 'Aursh' requested the deities to kill the demons.

The deities went to fight with the demons. The demons got scarred and started thinking about the means by which their lives could be saved. Daruka the wife of Daruk had received a boon from goddess Parvati due to which she had gained unparalleled power. She carried the whole forest and placed it in the middle of the sea. This way the demons again lived without being perturbed by the threat of the deities' attack.

One day the demons saw many boats sailing in the sea, on which were many people on board. The demons made all the people captive. There was a man named Supriya who was great devotee of Lord Shiva. He used to worship lord Shiva daily, even though he saw held under captivity. Rest of the people too got influenced by his devotion and everybody started worshipping lord Shiva.This way, six months had passed.

One day a demon saw Supriya worshipping the idol of lord Shiva. He went to Daruk and informed him. Daruk became extremely furious. He asked Supriya as to whom was he worshipping. Supriya still engrossed in his worship did not give any reply. This made Daruk even more angry. He tried to kill Supriya. Lord Shiva appeared and killed all the demons.

Daruka's heart became full of grief at the news of her husband's death. She went to Parvati and told her how lord Shiva had killed Daruka. Parvati met lord Shiva and both of them decided to protect there respective devotees by establishing themselves at that place. Thus, Nageshwar jyotirlinga came into existence.

ESTABLISHMENT OF RAMESHWAR

After Hanuman brought the new that Sita had been held captive by Ravana at Lanka, Sri Rama proceeded towards Lanka with a huge army. After receiving the seashore he faced the problems of crossing over the sea.

Sri Rama made a Parthiva linga of Shiva and worshipped it. Lord Shiva became very please with him and appeared. He blessed Sri Rama to be victorious. Sri Rama on the other hand, requested him to establish himself in that Parthiva linga, to which lord Shiva agreed. This way 'Ramaeshwar jyotirlinga' came into existence.

THE ORIGIN OF DHUSHMESH JYOTIRLINGA

There used to live a brahmin by the name of Sudharma, who belonged to the lineage of sage Bhardwaj. He was a great devotee of lord Shiva. Sudeha was his wife. Sudharma had no son.

Sudeha desires for a son. She expressed her desire to Sudharma but he did not listen to her pleas. One day Sudeha had gone for an outing accompanied by her companions. Incidentally a quarrel ensured among them and her companions made fun of her issue less status. Sudeha became very sad. After returning to her hermitage, she narrated the whole incident to Sudharma.

Sudharma meditated on the form of Shiva and threw two flowers, towards his wife. He thought that if Sudeha picks up the flower, which he had thrown with his right hand, then certainly a son would be born. But if she picks up the another flower then there is no chance of her giving birth to a son. Unfortunately Sudeha picked up the flower which Sudharma had thrown with his left hand.

Sudharma told his wife that she was never going to become a mother. He advised her to dedicate her life in the devotion of lord Shiva. When Sudeha learnt that there was no chance of her becoming a mother, she insisted her husband to marry for a second time, so that he could become a father. But Sudharma refused to marry for the second.

Sudeha brought her younger sister-Dhushma to the hermitage and married her with reluctant Sudharma. Dhushma proved to be a very faithful wife. She engaged herself in the service of Sudharma and Sudeha. She also used to worship the Parthiva-linga of Shiva daily.

After her worship she used to immerse the Parthiva lingas in a pond. This way, when she had accomplished the worship of one lakh Parthiva lingas, lord Shiva blessed her with a son. Sudharma was extremely pleased but Sudeha became jealous of her own sister.

When the child grew up, he was married to a beautiful brahmin girl. Dhushma instructed the bride to take a special care of Sudeha. So the bride engaged herself in the service of everybody. She took special care of looking into the needs of Sudeha. But still, Sudeha's jealousy did not diminish.

One day gripped by excessive jealousy and anger, she killed Dhushma's son while he was asleep. She cut his body into many pieces and threw those pieces into the same pond, in which Dhushma used to immerse the Parthiva lingas.

When the daughter in law noticed a piece of flesh on the bed she started crying. She went to Dhushma and narrated the whole story. Hearing the news of her son's killing, Dhushma too started crying Sudeha also wept artificially.

Sudharma arrived there. Though he himself was very sad yet he instructed Dhushma to do the daily worship of Parthiva linga as usual. Dhushma obeyed the command of her husband, She worshipped the Parthiva lingas and went to the pond of immense.

By the blessings of lord Shiva, her son was standing at the bank of the pond alive. He came towards his mother and said-

"Mother! I have become alive even after my death."

Dhushma was still engrossed in her thoughts of lord Shiva, so she could not listen to her son. Lord Shiva appeared and blessed Dhushma. He also expressed his desire to punish her wicked sister - Sudeha for her evil deed, but Dhushma requested him to forgive her. She also requested lord Shiva to stay there forever. Lord Shiva accepted her demand and established himself in the form of Dhushmeshwar Jyotirlinga. Sudharma and Sudeha arrived at that place and worshipped Shiva. At last everybody returned home happily.

LORD VISHNU RECEIVES SUDARSHAN CHAKRA

The deities went to lord Vishnu, after being tormented by the demons. They requested him to annihilate the demons. After assuring them, Lord Vishnu went to Kailash mountain to do his penance. But even his tremendous penance was not enough to please Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu then worshipped lord Shiva by chanting the mantras of Shiva Sahastranamavali. He also offered one thousand lotus flowers to lord Shiva in course of his worship.

One day Shiva wanted to test the devotion of lord Vishnu. He stole one lotus flower from among the one thousand flowers. When lord Vishnu began his worship he found that there was one flower less. To make up for this deficiency, he offered his one eye to lord Shiva - his eye which has been compared with a lotus flower.

Lord Shiva was very mush impressed by his exceptional devotion. He appeared before Vishnu and asked him t