Posts tagged ‘devatA’

June 7, 2010

Ramblings about the sword of bhavAnI

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

The legend of bhavAnI having blessed the cHatrapati founder of hindU svarAjya with her own khaDga for smiting the turuShka-s, is all too famous.  So we have the bhAkars mentioning about the miraculous sword, and we have contemporary bhUShaNa telling us about it.   But the fame of the khaDga was known far and wide, and it seems used to even awe the hearts of his enemies.

Thus we have the contemporary Italian  mercenary and freebooter Manuzzi telling us about his having once witnessed the abhimantrita maharaTTA sword.  In his Storia do Mogor he records that on one occasion he led a diplomatic mission on behalf of awrangzib and his portuguese allies to negotiate the terms of truce with shambhAjI and  the rebellious son of awrangzib who was in shambhAjI’s safe custody.  (shambhAjI introduced to Manuzzi durgAdAsa the famous rAThora general in disguise as prince Akbar.)  During the visit he once requested shambhAjI whether the latter could show him but once the famous divine sword that his father had, and shambhAjI would let him see from far just one flash of it.

The hindu revival in the founding of the maharaTTA empire had for its foundation its predecessor, the great vijayanagara.  the footprint of vijayanagara are visible in the resurgent maharaTTA-s in many ways: the legend pf jagadambA appearing before the valiant warrior-king and offering him her own khaDga to destroy the enemy being also one.  Thus we read the princess-poetess ga~NgAdevI describing in fourteenth century how the Goddess from madurai appeared to her husband yuvarAja kampanarAya, son of the founder of the empire bukkArAya, and gave him her sword to go out and thrash away the sultanate of the islamite tyrants from the draviDa lands.  The princess describes at length in madhurAvijaya the glory of this sword and how it originally belonged to mahAdeva, was given by sage agastya to various kings, and finally is being trusted by bhavAnI to the worthy arms of the vijayanagara.

It is of course very frequent throughout the hindU itihAsa-s and purANa-s for worthy warriors to acquire divine shastra-s from the deva-s.  Thus in padma purANa we have rAma getting the dhanuSha from mahAdeva, and rAvaNa had received before His sword.  mahAbhArata is of course full of description of such arms which can fill reams. 

But this had continued down to the later historical times, even before vijayanagara, that we read about bhavAnI’s or mahAdeva’s sword.  Thus we read in the histories of nAthayogI-s that the famous nAtha siddha delivered the divine sword of bhavAnI and mahAdeva to a rAjapUta named kAlabhoja who founded the house of mevADa.

Later in the eighteenth century, we similarly hear of the famed bhavAnI sword having been acquired by blessed pR^ithvI nArAyaNa shaAha who went on to found the now abolished hindU svArAjya in nepAla country.  We have had multiple occasions to be at this shaktipItha on the borders of nepAla, where young pR^ithvI nArAyaNa performed his arduous tapas and finally received the anugraha of devI.

That reminds us of our childhood chahamAna friend, now settled at this place, who would often tell us about a khaDga of bhavAnI also having been given to the chahamAna-s, and that his family was in possession of the sword.  Their family would even now perform the ritual shastrapUjA on the vijayadashamI day when every adult (male and female) of his clan would perform their own symbolic bali before devI and offer their own blood at its blade.  We would of course be denied access to see it. 

Until last, when we did get to witness the rAjapUta sword of bhavAnI.  On its golden hilt is inscribed some mantra in devanAgarI text, now hardly legible, but we guess it is from atharvan veda… and its blade is graced by the image of raNodyata kAlI…


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December 3, 2009

Some ancient kumAra vigraha-s of North India

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

In the days of our childhood, which now seem like light-years away, our loving grandmother would perform offerings to kArttikeya and ShaShThIdevI on certain occasions, drawing their images near the gaushAlA by dipping her finger in turmeric and milk paste, and murmur some prayers for the wellbeing of us kids. Years later, we used to be reminded of it, when now living in the draviDa country we would flock to the lush hillock of the kongu-s and find ourselves at the ancient shrine of the fierce surasenApati. We would often wonder why the charming deity was almost forgotten by the hindU-s of North India, not knowing the answer. Still later, reading a hindI novel ‘jaya yaudheya’ written by the marxist scholar, we learnt how kumAra was indeed a very popular deity, a principal deity of North, in an era long gone by. But it is not until we read the encyclopedic essays by the AchArya of mAnasataraMgiNI that we learnt more about the kumAra traditions (Read several kumAra-related essays, starting with some discursion on skanda tantra-s and bAlagraha-s)

In our travels to rAjapUtAnA, mathurA and magadha in recent months, we have come across some ancient kumAra vigraha-s; posting here the pictures.

The following is a surprisingly intact and marvelous vigraha of skanda from abhanerI of dausA, datable to 700s:

This one has got to probably be the oldest available intact kumAra vigraha from anywhere in North India. From mathurA, 1st century of the CE, the age of the shu~Nga-s:

Also from mathurA, kept in the UP state museum there, is this 2nd century terracotta figure of ShaNmukha kumAra riding a flying mayUra, which has got broken into two pieces:


From the same age is this other figure where kumAra holds his shUla in the right hand and embraces his mayUra with left.

Our relatives settled in magadha country took us to this ancient temple on the shores of gaNDakI, at the meeting point of darabha~NgA and samastIpura, where true to his name skanda oozes out from shivali~Nga. There is no way to tell the date, but to us it seems like from roughly before the jehAd of bakhtiyAr khaljI.

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July 16, 2009

5th century nR^isiMha

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

nR^isiMha_jhAMsI

This 5th century sculpture from the outskirts of Jhansi town is probably the oldest intact nR^isiMha image in North India, with some possible exceptions of even older ones in central nepAla.

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June 27, 2009

chaNDI

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

Reading bhUShaNa’s words: “moTI bhayI chaNDI binu-choTI ke chabAya sIsa“, we are reminded of why bhUShaNa would specifically think of mentioning chaNDI as growing overweight…

chaNDI

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February 14, 2009

vasanta and kAmadeva in shivapurANa

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

We glean through that portion of the shiva purANa where makaradhwaja boasts of his glory to devarAja, and mentions the season of vasanta as his retainer:

pa~nchaiva mR^idavo vANaste cha puShpamayA mama
chApastridhA puShpamayaH shijinIbhramarArjjitA
balaM sudayitA me vai vasantaH sachivaH smR^itaH
ahaM pa~Nchabalo devA mitraM mama sudhAnidhiH
senApatishcha shR^i~NgAro hAvabhAvashcha sainikAH
sarve me mR^idavaH shakra ahaM chApi tathAvidhaH
(shivapurANa, rudrasaMhitA, pArvatIkhaNDa)

{Made of tender flowers are the five arrows of mine,
which shoot from a flowery bow through three points, pratya~nchA of which emits the buzzing sound of bees
One’s beloved is my force, season of vasanta my attendant and secretary,
It is I who command the five senses, and I have the moon for my friend,
flirtatious gestures I appoint my soldiers; and shR^i~NgAra their lieutenant}

SP on the utpatti of vasanta season:

chintAviShTasya me tasya niHshvAso yo viniHsR^itaH
tasmAt vasantaH saMjAtaH puShpavrAtavibhUShitaH (2.2.8.37)

{(says prajApati,) Being engrossed so in my botheration, the sigh which I emitted,
gave birth to vasanta decorated with its flock of flowers}

In an archaic way SP etymologically connects vasanta with vasati:

vasanterantahetutvAd vasantAkyo abhavatayam (2.2.8.47)

{it is vasanta that ultimately causes vasati, or home (by inducing the motivation for settling down in marriage!)}

It seems there must have been temples dedicated to madanadeva in ancient Hindu soceity, and during the days preceding to the holikotsava, Hindus did celebrate madanotsava dedicated to kAmadeva. Now a days of course, it has become limited only to the celebration of colourful holI.

In mR^ichcHakaTike we find multiple mentions of madanAyatana, i.e. the temple to kAmadeva. and aside from a shrine in devapATana in nepAla, where He appears fused into imagery of mahAdeva, we are not aware of any functioning temple to kAmadeva.

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January 24, 2009

On the shores of sacred puShkara

by Sarvesh K Tiwari

It was on the day of amAvasyA during the fortnight which one spends in the sacred memory of one’s ancestors, coinciding too with somavAra, making the day even more auspicious, that we had the fortune to be on the shores of the sacred lake of puShkara, that famed tIrtha, where perpetually reside, as purANa-s describe, all the Adityans, all the vasu-s, all the rudra-s and all the mAruta-s!

It was on these very shores, says dwaipAyana, that janArdana had dwelt for many years, engaged in arduous tapa-s, that slayer of madhu the asura!

It was here, where the third of the pANDava heroes had sojourned during the last one of his twelve fugitive years of exile from khANDavaprastha.

It was here where sheSha had performed the feat of penances which had pleased prajApati to free him up from his sinful association with his nAga brethren of ill deeds, and where he acquired for himself the eternal anugraha of viShNu.

Indeed, one acquires not by the performance of the agniShToma and other yaj~nas, that much merit which one aquires by a sojourn to this tirtha, so describe our purANa-s, in particular the padma, garuDa, vArAha, skanda and vAmana.

It was here, so inform us our traditions, where one of the twin droplets of the divine tear befell on earth, from the lashes of that most benevolent deva of deva-s, the Supreme Ascetic, the cause of all the causes and the end to all the ends, that Lord of umA who had cried and danced in His divine anguish. It was that one drop of tear that became the reservoir of puShkara, whereas the other tear caused sacred kaTas, its sibling lake on the borders of sindhudesha and pA~nchanada, now in the terrorist country.

It was here, that the illustrious grandsire of all creation, who has lotus for his seat, had dwelt with great pleasure, and performed his grand yaj~na. And it was here that invited by prajApati, saraswatI had appeared, that foremost of all the rivers in the world, the mother most magnanimous and nourisher of sudhI-s, and she was called here as supravA by the sages, thereby blessing puShkara with first of her seven subsequent incarnations through which she nurtured the creation.

Indeed, as the slayer of madhu is regarded the foremost of all the celestials, so also this puShkara the foremost of all the tIrtha-s. And yet, wonders the great bhArata, why this tIrtha goes by the name of “puShkara”, with its three white hillocks and three springs, famed from the remotest times!

Therefore, as we beheld the marvel of this sacred lake, we wondered howmany generations of our forefathers too would have similarly beheld this lake, and would have offered tarpaNa to their forefathers, like we did to them!

And then, as a sudden pang, this old thirteenth century song surfaced in our memory, translation of which we had once read in the ‘Autobiography of An Unknown Indian’ by Nirad C Choudhury, and which was a sad lamentation of a Hindu poet, whose heart was crying over turuShka defilement around the sacred lake. The song went something like this:

puShkara, once the abode of bramhA,
Now home of the mlechcHa…

bramhA bathed there after concluding his yaj~na
Now mlechcHa removes in its waters the fatigue of demolishing our sacred temples…

Once this lake was the repository of the tears of joy of viShNu
Now a bin for the waste of mlechcHa’s meals…

Once warmed up by the fire of the eyes of The Eleven rudra-s
Now steaming with the hot tears of persecuted brAhmaNa-s…

apsaras were forbidden to enter its waters,
Even indrANI considered it not proper to bathe here,
Now becomes the wallowing pool for turuShkanI women in their menses…

Once deva-s quenched their thirst from it,
Now supplies to these barbarians who dont hesitate to slaughter their horses to quench their thirsts in the desert…

And even as we were taken to the famed shrine of prajApati, and also the place where sagacious dayAnanda of blessed memory, the founder of Arya samAja, had spent his early years in learning the veda-s — we hardly recovered from the torment.

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