ATRI – Son of Brahma, Atri rishi history, Atri Maha rishi

Brahma had six manasa-putras—sons created from his mind. Atri was one of them. The other five sons of Brahma are Marici, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, and Kratu. Another version of the manasaputras increased the number to seven, or the seven sages (sapta-rishis). Atri married Anasuya, and they had three sons, Soma…

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BHAGAVATA PURANA ENGLISH – A scripture, BHAGAVATAM STORIES

The Bhagavata Purana is a highly devotional scripture that articulated the views of tenth-century South India and of those worshippers of Krishna known as the Bhagavatas. It is quite large, even by Indian standards, containing 18,000 verses (slokas), in twelve books (skandhas) of 332 chapters. All the incarnations of Vishnu…

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BHAGAVAD GITA SUMMARY, BHAGAVADGITA – A scripture

The Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord) is one of the most loved scriptures of India. It is pan-Indian, even though its central character, Arjuna, discovered that the driver of his war chariot, Krishna, was the supreme lord of the universe, Lord Vishnu. If this claim were taken literally and…

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BHAGA GOD – A DEVA, bhaga god of wealth, bhaga goddess

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Bhaga (inherited share) was a Vedic deity of wealth, power, and happiness. He was also, according to the Rigveda, one of the seven adityas. The other six are Mitra (friendship, comradeship), Aryaman (honor, or chivalry), Varuna (binder to tribal rules; “all-seeing”), Daksha (ritual skill, or rules of ritual), and Amsa…

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BHADRAKA – A sinful brahmin

Bhadrak had lead such an immoral life that some accounts say that he was outcasted. But one day he took a ritual bath for three days at Prayaga, during the month of Magha (a month in the Hindu calendar that falls in February or March). It had been said that…

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BALI king of the asuras, bali king story

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Bali was present at so many times and places that the mythmakers had to employ one of their greatest discoveries, the various periods of the Manus (manvantaras), a repeating of the cosmic ages each with its own “first man” (Manu). Thus the stories of Bali and his deva (god) opponents…

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BALA – A demon (asura)

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  Baa lived in Atala (one of the seven hells), teaching ninety-six kinds of magic to trouble the devas (divinities). Out of one of his own yawns, he created three women with the power to entice whomever they wanted. These three women had an aphrodisiac called hataka. They gave hataka…

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AYODHYA – Ayodhya Ram Mandir History

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   Ayodhya was the capital city of the kings of Ikshvaku. But it then became one of the seven most sacred cities in India because it was the birthplace of King Rama. Ayodhya was also where Rama ruled as king after he defeated Ravana. Ram Navami is the festival that…

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AVATAR MEANING -A concept meaning incarnation

The term avatara is usually associated with divine incarnations, especially the ten incarnations of Vishnu. But there were lists with as many as twenty-six incar­nations. The ten avatars, dashavatara (dasha, “ten,” and avatara, “incarna­tions”), were Matsya the fish, Kurma the turtle, Varaha the boar, Narasimha the lion-man, Vamana the brahmacari…

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AURVA, Aurva Rishi, – A fierce sage

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    The Aurva myth was told only in the Mahabharata and portrayed a time of mutual killings between the ksatriyas and brahmins. It took some of the motifs of the Agni myth cycle, such as the submarine fire, and reshaped them, portray­ing the fiery priest Aurva, whose horse-headed descendants…

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ASURA – Demons

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  The term asura is so ancient that it has a separate mythology among the Aryans’ cousins in ancient Persia. In the Avesta, the word ahura (asura, Sanskrit) was a positive term that meant the gods. But the ahura were mainly gods of agrarian values, and the greatest ahura was…

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ASHTHAVAKRA – A sage

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  Sage Uddalaka daughter Sujata married his disciple Khagodara, and to them was born Ashtavakra. The word ashtha-avakra means “one with eight bends,” referring to his deformed body. There are two versions of how he acquired the eight bends. According to one version, once Khatodara was reciting holy mantras. Sujata…

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ASCETICISM

See TAPAS. See also discussions in chapter 1 of “The Upanishadic Period,” “Theomachy,” and “Renunciation, Sacrifice, and Magic.”

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ARISHTHA, Arishtha Story in English – A demon

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  Arishtha was the servant of Kamsa and was sent to Gokula in the form of an ox to kill Sri Krishna. The ox terrified the cowherds (gopis) as it tore up the hills and mountains around Vrindavan. The youth Krishna faced and killed the ox, throwing it an incredible…

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ARAYANNA – The heavenly swans (hamsa)

The arayanna were described as having a heavenly abode on Manasasaras, one of the Himalayas. Ara denoted royalty. The swans did not like rain, so they came to earth when it rained in their heavenly abode and returned as soon as rain began on earth. Their parentage was traced to…

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ARA -Ara Daughter of king Sukra

Her story was a warning to kings who abused their power, who did not live by the rules of civility, or who harmed the family of a brahmin. A haughty young king named Danda ruled a large kingdom that extended to the Himalayas. One day on a hunting expedition King…

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APSARA – A celestial being

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  An apsara was a celestial damsel or nymph (devastri) found in Indra’s heaven, Devaloka. Apsaras were born at the Churning of the Milky Ocean. Another ver­sion, in the Manu Shastra, stated that these damsels were created along with the seven Manus. They were called wives of the gods and…

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APALA – A daughter of the sage Atri

A story in the Rigveda says that Apala was abandoned by her husband when she came down with leprosy. She began living in the ashram of her father Atri and did austerities (tapas) to please Indra. One day when she was coming back from her daily rituals beside the river,…

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ANGIRAS, Angira Rishi – A Sage

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    Angiras appeared in many roles, some contradictory. The Rigveda called him the first of the fire-gods. As such he was a mediator between gods and men. At times he appeared as a maharishi, a composer of many Rigvedic hymns to the gods. He was also a prajapati, or…

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AMRITA – Immortal; immortality; a drink or food

In the Vedas, amrita was a characteristic or quality of a suitable offering in the fire sacrifices to the gods. Soma (the divine plant) had more amrita than other offerings. Later amrita (or amritam) was a substance produced by the Churning of the Milky Ocean (kshirabdhi-mathanam). There were different versions…

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AMBARISHA, King of Ayodhya, – A king of the Ikshvaku dynasty

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Ambarisha, king of Ayodhya (birthplace of Rama), was one of the sixteen great kings who ruled Bharata (Marutta, Suhotra, Paurava, Sibi, Rama, Bhagiratha, Dilipa, Mandhata, Yayati, Ambarisha, Sasabindu, Gaya, Rantideva, Bharata, Prithu, and Parasu-Rama). In the Valmiki Ramayana there was a story about the theft of one of Ambarisha sacrificial…

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AGNI -A deva (god), god of fire, Agni puran

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  At his earliest appearance in the Rigveda, Agni was a complex deity. He was the fire of the sacred sacrifices that were the heart of Vedic religion as well as the central rituals of a semi nomadic warrior culture. Agni was addressed as the deva who ruled earth, a…

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AGASTYA, – AGASTI, Agastya Muni Story

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A rishi (sage) who conquered the Vindhya mountains Agasti was mentioned in a hymn in the Rigveda dedicated to Mitra, a solar deity. That hymn said that two of the adityas, Mitra (comradeship) and Varuna (binder, “all-seeing”), placed their semen in a pot and set it before Urvasi, an unusually…

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ADITYAS, Adityas Story in English – Devas (gods)

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The sons born to Kasyapa-prajapati (a grandfather or procreator) and Aditi (mother of the gods) are called the adityas. In the hymns of the Rigveda, Aditi only had seven or eight children. But by the time of the Brahmanas there are twelve adityas: Dhata, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga,…

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ADITI -A devi (goddess), Mother of The Gods, Aditi devi story

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    There are few interesting myths to tell about Aditi, but her status and roles change so remarkably that she illustrates the fluidity of Hindu myths. Her name literally means eternity (free, boundless, infinity), so philosophically she is a per­sonification of time. Aditi slowly evolved as the prototype of…

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ADI – An asura (demon)

The demon Adi was the son of Andhak, who had been killed by JSiva. To gain revenge, Adi did austerities (tapas) with the sole purpose of receiving a boon (vara) from Brahma, the creator. In due course Brahma granted him the vara, so Adi asked for invincibility in battle. But…

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YOGA, YOGAS – A system of thought and practice

The word yoga is frequently used in Indian philosophy. It means “union” and con­notes uniting the individual self with the higher Self. The Bhagavad Gita defined yoga as “skillfulness in action” and “steadiness of mind.” Yoga as a system of Indian thought was founded by Patanjali, probably of the second…

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YAMUNA – A river

See main entry under Kalindi. This is an alternative name for the river Kalindi of Puranic fame. The river goddess of Kalindi was also the wife of Sri Krishna.

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Yama, Yama Dharmaraja wife name – A god

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  Yama came to be the god of death in later mythology, but he had wide range of roles in the earlier mythology. In the Rigveda Yama was one of the first pair. As such he was referred to as the first mortal (later being called the first human). His…

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YAJNA – Ritual of sacrifice

Yajna or sacrifice was practiced from the earliest period of the Vedas. At first it referred to the external fire sacrifices and oblations that constituted the principal way in which Aryans related to their gods. Offerings were made to the fire (agni) of clarified butter (ghi or ghee), wood, spices,…

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VRITRA, Indra and Vritra Story- A mighty asura (demon)

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In the Rigveda Vritra was a monster whose name meant the one who “held back,” “restrained,” or “enveloped.” Killing Vritra was Indra’s crowning moment. Vritra enveloped a celestial mountain and held back its waters, but Indra’s action released the waters, bring the fertilizing rains and prosperity to the Aryans, even…

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VRINDAVANA – Home of Krishna

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      Vrindavana was both the mythical land of Krishna’s youth and an actual geo­graphic area between modern Delhi and Agra. Vrindavana’s meaning of “sacred basil grove” referred to the ancient forest that once graced that region. The mod­ern town lies on the western bank of the Yamuna River….

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Vishwamitra Story in English- A famous sage

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  Visvamitra was already important in the Rigveda as a sage and composer of many hymns in book (mandala) three. However, his lineage shifted with the sources so much that one later authority stated that he was the son of both King Kushika and King Gadhi. Visvamitra (universal friend) was…

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