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    Krishna markings on your body are sign of good luck!

    Lord Krishna is the God of love, compassion, and tenderness. He always taught the lesson of karma and is known to have devised the Bhagwad Gita. It is believed that he had special markings in his body and the marking is known to be Krishna Marking. If you possess any of these should bring happiness and prosperity in your life.

    1. Half Moon – Lord Krishna had this sign on his feet. It is said that you will do very good in your career if you have this marking in your body.
    2. Fish Sign – Krishna had this sign in both palm and feet. Fish is said to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and will bring prestige in your life.
    3. Shankha – This sign brings great success and prosperity if you have this in your body. Krishna had this on his feet.
    4. Bow and Arrow – This sign means that you will be victorious in any kind of hazardous situation and even if you are in a low situation, you will excel to a high position in the matter of time.
    5. Triangle – This sign is the sign of fortune where you will be very rich in life. This sign also indicates your orating power to charm people around you and to get success very soon.
    6. Kalash sign – This sign refers to religious inclination and that if you have this on your feet you will do well spiritually and gain respect from people around you.
    7. Chakra sign – This sign on the feet means you will do very good in traveling. You will travel many places and may be able to settle abroad in more fortunate place. You will also have helpful nature to attract other people around you.
    8. Swastik sign – This sign helps you financially which remarks that you will be very rich and wealthy.
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    6 Artistic Monuments In India That Will Leave You Awestruck

    India, known for its rich and profound heritage is a host to a plethora of structural marvels, which we took the liberty to entitle ‘Beautiful Monuments of the country’. From awstrucking architecture to the pure combination of nature and skill, the country has much more to offer other than the pristine white Taj Mahal. We have come up with a list of beautiful monuments in India that will leave you stunned!

    1. Akshardham Temple, Delhi

    Photo by Amor Lomibao on 500px.com

    A monument that spells magic by its sheer beauty and magnificence; the Akshardham Temple stands tall in all its glory. Defining India’s ancient architecture and timeless culture, this unparalleled stunner is built by the banks of the Yamuna river- the perfect epitome to India’s treasures in culture and tradition.

    2. Lotus Temple, Delhi

    Photo by Mathijs van den Bosch on 500px.com

    The Lotus Temple is not only known for its marvelous architecture, but also for its immense historical importance. This temple is one of the most visited monuments in India and signifies the emotions of love and purity. Owing to its artistic allure, Lotus Temple makes for the ideal competitor in this ‘beautiful monuments in India’ list.

    3. Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram

    Photo by Swasti Verma on 500px.com

    Acclaimed as one of the earliest significant structural temples in Southern India, the Shore Temple is a prominent structure that is known as the crowning glory of Tamil Nadu. The architecture of this temple is carved by large sculptures of Nandi rooting its strength in Indian rituals.

    4. Konark Sun Temple, Odisha

    An Architecture Marvel of India’s heritage, Konark Sun Temple, situated in Odisha is one of the very few sun temples in India. The temple is designed to look like an enormous chariot of Surya with ornately carved 12 wheels that are made of stone and are dragged by seven gigantic horses. Each wheel along with the entire premises of the stone temple is adorned with intricate cravings.

    Photo by Abhishek Jain on 500px.com

    Not only that the temple is located in such a manner that the first ray of sunrise will fall on the statue of sun god, which used to float in the air owing to the magnetic pressure created by 4 magnets fixed on 4 walls of the temple. The temple showcases the grandeur of Indian architecture, sculpture, art and building techniques at its best.

    5. Ajanta and Ellora Caves

    Image source – indianhistoryias.blogspot.com

    Known as the World Heritage Caves, Ajanta and Ellora are rock-cut caves that are finest examples of Indians paintings and sculpture owing to the magnificent paintings of Ajanta and well-carved sculptures of Ellora. Located at a distance of 250 miles from Mumbai, the Ajanta and Ellora caves give you a glimpse of life in ancient India. This visit will induce a sense of discovery, a discovery of the self, and of the divine.

    6. Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar

    source

    A temple that is conceived to be the oldest and largest temple of Bhubaneswar is known for its remarkable structure. The shaded red sandstone the temple is built with creates a unique feature that makes this prehistoric temple stand out from the clutter.

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    The Lesson Everyone Should Learn from Story of Lord Krishna and Sudama

    The story of Sudama and Krishna has a great value in the Hindu world of legends. Not only just in the Bhagavad Purana, there are many books where the story holds great importance. If you one doesn’t know, Sudama was a dear friend and a great devotee of Lord Krishna. Here we explore the legend behind the friendship of Sudama and Krishna.

    The Legend of Sudama and Lord Krishna

    Image Credit – Keshav

    Sudama came from a poor Brahmin family and was a dear friend of Krishna. As both grew up together, Krishna got married to Rukmini and then became the king of Dwarka, while Sudama married a simple girl and enjoyed a simple life by leaving out worldly pleasures. Sudama had two children, but since he was poor, he led a very austere life. But his wife grew tired of the frugal life and asked him to seek help from Lord Krishna one day. However, Sudama felt ashamed of asking his friend for help. Sudama’s wife kept insisting. One fine day, he decided to go meet Krishna to talk about this. Yet, he felt like it would not be a good gesture to meet an old friend empty handed. So, he took a handful of puffed ice for Lord Krishna.

    When Sudama reached Krishna’s place, Krishna was delighted and welcomed Sudama with great respect and warmth. He even washed his tired feet with sandalwood and warm water to make him relax, and let him sit on the throne.

    Krishna welcomes Sudama
    Krishna welcomes Sudama (source)

    Then, they started talking about their life in early days when they were child: how they were notorious in their own place and how they spent their time at Sandipani School. Both felt overjoyed, especially Sudama who felt the hospitality Krishna had shown and the effort that he had shown to keep him happy. The grandeur made Sudama feel embarrassed about his gift. But, Krishna had seen the bag on his hand. Thus, he asked what he had in the bag, for which, Sudama replied by saying that it contained a handful of puffed rice. Krishna took the bag and ate a part of it, saying that it was the best thing that he had ever had.

    Krishna thanked Sudama for this gift, and requested him to have a meal with him. Both of them sat for a meal served in expensive gold plates. Seeing this, Sudama felt sad about his childhood, how he had lived a hungry life most of his childhood days. Sudama lived there at the palace two days, but still, could not ask for what he had come there for: to get some help. He felt embarrassed to ask for personal favour, and thus, remained silent about it. He left back home on the third day. Before leaving, Krishna embraced Sudama and requested Sudama to visit him again. Sudama said thank you.

    Sudama returns home and finds, in place of it, a golden palace, the gift of Krishna (Source)

    During the entire journey back home, he kept thinking what he would tell his wife since he didn’t get anything back that could alleviate his life in poverty.

    But when he got home, he was surprised when he saw that there no hut in his place. Instead, there was a magnificent palace. And when his wife came out, she was wearing elegant, beautiful clothes. Sudama’s wife said that maybe it was Krishna’s doings, that he had tried to help his friend. Seeing all this, Sudama’s heart was filled with gratitude, and he started to cry.

    The lesson from the story of Krishna and Sudama

    Friendship never seeks richness or poorness. Friendship is forever. It is all about love and respect. Like Krishna and Sudama, one should never forget one’s friend, and should always try to respect him/her despite their conditions. If it is possible, one should try to help the friend. As the saying goes, a friend in need is the friend indeed.

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    15 Lessons To Learn from Mahabharata for Everyone

    The epic tale Mahabharata is something everyone should read at least once in their life. Even if you are not into mythology and religion, this book will still hold great value in your life. So, if you haven’t, it’s time that you did. If you have, then you can relate to these lessons:

    1. Life is not about just being kind, humble and generous

    This world is a cruel, cruel place. You should realize it sooner than you can. Karna’s life is the perfect example of how life as we know is difficult.

    2. Bad company is indeed bad for you

    Shakuni mama is one character that every reader hates. He destroyed what Kauravas owned and forced them to be the way they are: completely negative. If you analyze the epic, the whole war started because of his one decision.

    3. But you will need loyal friends and unconditional support

    Lord Krishna always backed Pandavas, while Karna always backed Kauravas. It was because of Krishna and Karna, that the two parties became stronger. Without Karna, Duryodhan was completely weak.

    4. One must think if one wants to have many kids

    There were 100 Kauravas. Yes, 100 of them fighting for the same thing. To be practical, just think how had they even divided that entire empire amongst that many sons.

    5. It’s important to learn cooking and cleaning

    It is necessary to be occupied with life. Cooking and cleaning will allow you to do so, and is also less stressful. It will definitely make your life easy. This is what Pandava’s life in exile teaches us.

    6. Fight for what belongs to you

    There is something that rightfully belongs to you. And then there is something that you think you deserve. What is rightfully yours? You need to contemplate on it and fight for it. Pandavas never stopped what belonged to them.

    7. It is not good to be TOO emotional

    Love is blind, as the saying goes. Such was the same for Dhritarashtra and his love for his son. He was always torn throughout the epic to follow his principles and to take actions to keep his son happy. This made him even more evil that he really was. Wars followed where he went.

    8. The best gift that you can gift yourself is to keep your learning curve upwards

    Arjun was a master of learning. He took whatever came his way. He learned the best of military science from Drona, learned about divine weapons from Indra, learned about Pashupatastra from Mahadev, and whenever he could, he treated Yudhisthir and Krishna as his mentor.

    9. Enemies can be friends, at times

    Yes, Kauravas were greater in number, but even their supporters were not really committed to them. Bheeshma, Vidura and Drona admired Pandavas too.

    10. No man can always protect his woman

     

    Draupadi’s husbands were all strong and healthy (all five of them). But still, they could not help Draupadi when disgraced by other men. They failed to show courage in such situation.

    11. Little knowledge is a dangerous thing

    If one understands how Abhimanyu died, then one can say that he died because of half knowledge.

    12. A woman’s anger is dangerous

    She will either curse you or destroy you. She won’t stop until her wants are fulfilled. Draupadi’s anger and her need for revenge led to the downfall of Kuru clan.

    13. Passion is everything

    Who’s the best archer in that era? You might be guessing it’s Arjun. No. It was Eklavya. While Drona was teaching Arjun, he hid behind the trees and learned everything he had to learn about archery that way. And his passion for archery led to the thirst for more knowledge about archery, and thus was better than Arjun.

    14. Don’t make someone feel he/she is not desired

    It is going to come back and bite you. When Arjun dismissed Urvashi, she cursed him to be a eunuch for a year.

    15. Everything lies in strategy

    It’s always good to plan, even though plans fail at times. When that happens, it is necessary to have a backup plan in place. The way Pandavas won the war was because Krishna had his master plan.

  • 11 Face Rudraksha Represents 11 Forms of Lord Shiva

    Rudraksha has been derived from the Sanskrit roots Rudra(Shiva) Aksha (Eye). Hence, Rudraksha means the eye of Shiva. Since Shiva is Trinetra. Rudraksha is referred to Shiva’s 3RD eye. The eye of knowledge.

    Rudraksha is a symbolism to the Shiva devotees, yogis and sadhaks to balance their chakras and energies by wearing it as rudraksha can lead a person to high spiritual know-how
    It also helps to

    • cure ailments like blood pressure, stress, anxiety, depression, palpitations, lack of concentration, etc.
    • resist the flow of bio-electrical impulses that cross the desired ampere requirement (leading to an imbalance in the brain-body-mind circuit). The beads act in tandem with the heart, streamlining it and sending out specific impulses to the brain. The impulses in return generate positive brain chemicals that induce us with a sense of confidence and energy.

    Amongst the eleven forms of Lord Shiva, the eleventh form is Lord Hanuman. According to the ancient religious texts, several great sages have worn Eleven Mukhi Rudraksha during their meditation for a spiritual quest. Moreover, it is regarded very auspicious in religious rituals. Hindu belief is rooted in a perception that whoever wears Eleven Mukhi Rudraksha, s/he shall attain all the eleven heavenly virtues of Lord Eleven.

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    Reason why Fridays are considered auspicious for Hindu

    Though all days are important, the Friday occupies more importance in Hinduism. Fridays are auspicious days for Hindu and are related to the goddess. Friday is dedicated to Shakti and her multitudes of incarnations; these include Durga and Kali. Goddess Laxmi and Saraswati are also associated with it.

    The word “Shukrawar” basically relates to planet Venus which is basically known as “Shukra” in the astrological term which is related to “Shukracharya”(the Guru of Danavas). And the planet Shukra (Venus) is related to Beauty, Wealth, and Auspiciousness. 

    Significance of Fasting on Friday

    People fast for Shakti (Mother Goddess) and Santoshi Ma, the incarnation of Shakti. The fast is kept in continuation for 16 Fridays. The Friday fast is observed to receive happiness and contentment in their families.

    On the 17th Friday, women invite unmarried girls in an odd number, usually, under the age of sixteen to share food with them as well as giving gifts, so that their fasting is complete and bears fruit.

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    These markings on your palm are said to be blessings from Lord Shiva and Vishnu

    Palm reading is an old tradition of finding out one’s past, present, and future, like that of horoscope and other astrological tools. There are some markings in the palm of a person that are considered to be a blessing of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu; people having those are more likely to prosper and benefit highly in life.

    source

    1. Triangle – If you have a triangle in your palm, you are one of the lucky ones to have a special talent that will take you to success and fortune.

    2. Trident – Shiva’s Trishul is believed to protect all from evil, so as any sign of Trident in your palm means you will be able to face any kind of problems.

    3. Star – Having star sign on your palm means have special ability to do something. You will be able to do well in all kind of fields of life and even personally.

    4. Diamond – If you have a diamond sign in your palm, it means you like to explore and experiment different things. This will take you to different avenues of life and usually become successful person.

    5. Crescent – This indicates of high intuition and you will be able to predict and plan your future. You will have good judgmental qualities.

    6. Varga – You will be out of trouble and problems most of the time in life. This symbol indicates hurdling through obstacles.

    7. Grill – You will be patient throughout your life even there are big troubles and strength comes to you to overcome them.

    8. Mystic Cross – You will be religious and spiritual if you have this indication in your palm. You will be an influencer in life to be able to assert positivity to others.

    9. Fish – If you have this sign in your palm, you are the person who always does or like to do good in life. You will be inclined spiritually also.

    10. Cross – You will be able to face all the challenges that come up to you in life and break towards success easily. You will have the feelings of empowerment and strength, which will guide you towards prosperity.

    11. Butterfly – This sign indicates leadership, and if you have this sign you will be a good team leader and do good with people. You will be a good mentor and help people gain knowledge.

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    The Art of concentration – Five Ancient Powerful Hindu Practices

    Concentration is the method where an individual can focus on one matter by mental effort and undisturbed mind. The art of concentration is the way to develop the mind to be able to concentrate. Hindu religion and tradition has been in the forefront of developing this art, as it is the only religion besides Buddhism to prosper the art of meditation. Meditation is a form done by concentration to reach and find out the ultimate knowledge through self-observance, in spiritually thinking – being enlightened.

    Some of the important ancient practices of the art of concentration done in Hindu tradition and society are listed as below.

    1. Chanting OM (ॐ ) Mantra

    A Mantra is a syllable or word, usually without any particular meaning, that is repeated for the purpose of focusing the mind. It is not an affirmation used to convince of something. One of the most significant syllables is “OM” or “AUM”, which when chanting repeatedly produces the vibration that allows the mind to fix concentration on one word and experience a deeper level of awareness. In continuing the mantra of OM, the sound becomes increasingly abstract and indistinct. Deep level of consciousness is experienced after some time of continuation usually the number is fixed to 108 counts and 1008 in advance form. It also has the psychological advantage that develops positive qualities within oneself and benefits people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

    Om mantra is believed to be the easiest form of concentration practice as it is easier to focus with the mantra than with the breathing. A person should sit still with erect spine and closed legs, and with closed eyes. Some use mala or necklace of 108 beads to help with the counting.

    2. Third Eye Method

    This method is to concentrate with eyes closed with any posture at the center of two eyebrows in the forehead. The attention is constantly redirected to this point avoiding unnecessary thoughts, as a means to silence the mind. By time the “silent gaps” between thoughts get wider and deeper. Sometimes this is accompanied by physically “looking”, with eyes closed, towards that spot.

    3. Chakra Meditation

    This method is to focus on one of the seven chakras of the body i.e., Muladhara (base of the spine), Svadhisthana (just below the navel), Manipura (stomach area), Anahata (center of the chest), Vishuddha (base of the throat), Ajna (between the eyebrows) and Sahasrara (top of the head).

    4. Trataka

    Image source – Padmanjaliyoga.com

    This is the type to focus on an external object specially lit candle, image or a symbol. It is done open eyes gazing at a fixed object and then closing them but still viewing the object in the mind. This helps with both the concentration and visualization powers.

    5. Pranayama

    This basically lies on yoga category but helps acutely in the concentration of the mind. This is divided into 4 steps with 4 seconds of each. One is breathe in with the nose for 4 seconds, then hold the breath for 4 seconds and exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds, then stop for 4 seconds. This can be done anywhere and it is to be acknowledged that the abdomen moves and not the chest while breathing. It is necessary to watch the abdomen being large during inhalation and small during exhalation.

    Upon practicing these few concentration exercises each day, concentration is believed to grow and develop with a wonderful result. It is of the utmost value to learn how to concentrate because any task can be completed successfully or appropriately only with full concentration or by putting entire thought upon the idea of working out.

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    Is Caste System part of Hindu Religion?

    The term caste is derived from the Portuguese casta, meaning “race, lineage, breed” and there is no exact translation in Indian or any Sanskrit derived languages to this word but varna and jati are the two most proximate terms. The caste system is a system, as followed by today in India and other Hindu cultures, that assigns groups of people by birth to follow certain regulations and divides them to a hierarchy where certain groups of people are privileged than others.

    The caste system is deep rooted in South Asian society having Hindu or similar religions mostly in India. The practice of this system has not only defamed the religion worldwide but also has put ones freedom and choice of living to a dogmatic negative situation and has effected economy to large extent. Many practices and laws have come into effect but still unable to resolute the problem as it is deep rooted in minds and cultural obedience of the people. The most important part is the belief of its relation with the Hindu religion and tradition, due to illiteracy and unawareness.

    Caste system totally defies human rights practice of today due to its unequal treatment of people. Mainly the untouchables, lowest privileged group in the hierarchy, are vulnerable in obtaining even the basic human rights. Even to its negativity, why it is practiced has to be understood acutely because it still takes enormous effort and applied awareness to eradicate the system.

    As the term is not a Hindu term, it is actually not a part of Hindu religion as most people think, There are many arguments in different school of thoughts regarding this matter. Historical facts and changes in political and social structures are prominent to list for the reason behind the misuse and practice of caste system. The system of differentiation among people dates back to 2000 BCE after the Aryan invasion of the Indian subcontinent.

    Differentiation of people is practiced not only in Hindu society but in many other societies due to economical advantage where people are divided by the work they are skilled to do. But this factor has been misused by the elites to control the large sum of people in Hindu society. Proximate to the caste system, the differentiation of people has been referred in the Rig Veda, one of the four prominent existing backbones of Hindu religion. It defines categorizing different people to four groups i.e., Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.

    1. Brahmin: the seers, the reflective ones, the priests.

    • The intellectual and spiritual leaders.
    • In our society, they would correspond to the philosophers, religious leaders, and teachers.

    2. Kshatriyas–(pronounced something like “kshot ree yahs”) the born administrators (formerly nobles, rajahs, and warriors).

    • The protectors of society.
    • In our society, the politicians, police, and the military.

    3. Vaisyas: (pronounced something like “vy sy us”) the producers, the craftsmen, artisans, farmers.

    • The skillful producers of material things.
    • In our society, the merchants.

    4. Shudras–(pronounced something like “shoo drrahs”) the unskilled laborers or laboring class.

    • The followers or the maintenance people.
    • The so-called menial workers or hard laborers.

    This defines the Hindu conception of social order that people are different, and different people will fit well into different aspects of society. But this was classified by the qualities, skills and personality of the individual and not necessarily by birth. Social order or social class according to varna forms the framework of moral duties according to personal characteristics of individuals.

    Advantages of this classification, as most philosophers argue, is that not all people are born equally qualified to their traits of intelligence and personality. Individual differ from each other and utilizing their skills to the utmost according to their traits is useful for the society. With this many person would be more comfortable with their own groups of working and unless not been separated, many would be born losers. They support egalitarianism, where privileged seeks higher facility proportional to the responsibilities.

    Source

    But this system had been transformed by many ruling elites in medieval, early-modern, and modern India to their own selfishness and beneficial. The caste system as it exists today is thought to be the result of developments during the collapse of the Mughal era and the British colonial regime in India. The collapse of the Mughal era saw the rise of powerful men who associated themselves with kings, priests, and ascetics, affirming the regal and martial form of the caste ideal, and it also reshaped many apparently casteless social groups into differentiated caste communities. The fifth groups of people “the untouchables” were formed those were confined to menial and despised jobs and shunned by the rest of society. The British Raj furthered this development, making rigid caste organization a central mechanism of administration. Between 1860 and 1920, the British segregated Indians by caste, granting administrative jobs and senior appointments only to the upper castes. A similar political assertion was practiced in other countries of Hindu majority by different authoritative elites.

    There is no evidence in the Rigveda for an elaborate, much-subdivided and overarching caste system”, and “the varna system seems to be embryonic in the Rigveda and, both then and later, a social ideal rather than a social reality. In contrast to the lack of details about varna system in the Rigveda, the Manusmriti includes an extensive and highly schematic commentary on the varna system, but it too provides “models rather than descriptions”. Manusmriti and other scriptures helped elevate Brahmins in the social hierarchy and these were the factor in the making of the varna system, but the ancient texts did not in some way “create the phenomenon of caste” in the Indian subcontinent.

    Therefore, concluding that the caste system is a part of Hindu Religion is totally vague. Hindu religion has divided people according to the personality but the caste system divides people by birth. The caste system is practiced even in modern society illegally and has been one of most disruptive solicitation to human development in the region.

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    Lord Indra – Vedic god of rain and thunder

    For many, the Vedas are books of scriptures to guide one’s mind through Hindu religion. But truth be told Vedic and Hindu are very philosophically different. While Hindu Dharma is polytheistic Vedic is Monotheistic on a macro level.

    Hindu Vs Vedic

    Many believe due to several splits that occurred after the Dasarajna war, different tribes and clans separated, who were once unified by the name of the supreme Indra. And eventually, after years, Indra’s names were made either different god or stolen by Puranic people to praise their “semidivine” heroes.

    trataram indram avitaram indram have have suhavam suram indram
    hvayami sakram puruhutam indram svasti no maghava dhatvindrah

    Indra the protector, Indra the savior, Indra the best invited among invited ones; I call Him, strong, the frequently called Indra. May welfare be gifted us, by Indra Maghavan.

    The importance of God Indra

    In the original Vedas, which are the basic tenets of Hindu Religion, Indra is the supreme god. Most of the Rig Veda was dedicated to his praise. He was the chief God whom everyone worshiped, not the holy trinity which was again a later development.

    Image Source – DeviantArt

    Indra was the most important god in the Vedic religion and he later became a major figure in Hindu Dharma and an important deity in Buddhism, Cham, and Chinese tradition. For the Aryas he was their national god and he was regarded as the protector of the military aristocracy and the Kshatriyas warriors.

    The Origin and Bravery of Lord Indra

    In the Hindu Stories, Indra was born (along with his brother Agni) from the mouth of the primordial god or giant Purusha whose various other body parts gave birth to the other members of the Hindu pantheon.

    He is known for his fearless battle against Vritra the stone serpent, the firstborn of dragons, immediately after his birth. Digest that. An infant Indra fought a stone dragon.

    Indra, noted for his virility, was said to have been unfaithful to his wife on several other occasions when the god often disguised himself in order to better seduce his victims. One famous object of the god’s seemingly insatiable desire was the wife of the sage Gautama. Here is an attempt to shine the light on this event:

    Ahalya was first mentioned as Indra’s lover in Brahmanas. Indra is the symbol of life and hence associated with rain and soma ( later Amrta).There are several instances in Vedas that speak of Indra flooding the plains by smashing the Vrtra, the drought.

    hala in sanskrit means “plough“. And halya means that which can be plowed; referred to a fertile land. a-halya means that which cannot be plowed; referring to infertile land. And the beautiful Brahmanic phrase tells how God, Indra, helps the infertile land become fertile, through His rains, as a true lover. And the story stops in a single phrase.

    Image source – Pinterest

    In the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, Indra is the father of the hero Arjuna and he manages to win the magic armor that would make his son invincible. Indra was involved in a famous fight against the Dāsas (or Dasyus) and in another famous adventure, he swiftly dealt with Vala who one day was bold enough to steal the god’s herd of sacred cattle. Vala cleverly hid his prize in the depths of a mountain but was tracked down by Indra’s companion the Maruts and Rudras (storm gods), then, one thunderbolt from Indra was enough to split the mountain in two and release the herd who were safely escorted back to the heavens.

    Perhaps the most celebrated exploit involving the god Indra is his battle with the demon Vritra. This demon, also known as the Enemy, had transformed himself into a fearsome snake with no less than 99 coils. Unfortunately for local farmers these tremendous coils were blocking up the rivers and streams and causing a great drought. So horrifying was Vritra that none of the gods dared intervene and it was only Indra who found the courage, fortified with soma, to slay the beast with one of his thunderbolts. As a result of this episode, he won great favor among the other great gods and one of Indra’s surnames became Vritrahan, meaning the ‘slayer of Vritra’

    Indra and the Ashwamedha Yagna

    A day of Brahma called as Kalpa has 14 Manvantaras and each Manvantara has its own Indra. Indras come and go. It’s not a single God. It’s a title.

    To become the next Indra, you need to conduct successfully 100 Ashwamedha Yagnyas.The yagna is not just sacrificing a horse, offering it to god & eating it. It could take months or years to do (because the horse has to roam around other lands, and the king has to battle other kingdoms in the process). After the horse returns back, the horse is sacrificed and fumes from its brain offered to the sacred fire has to be inhaled by the king and his wives. After that is done, the ENTIRE Treasury has to be emptied and given away to all people in the kingdom to all 4 castes.

    Then the king has to donate a lot of land to the officiators of the sacrifice along with cattle that grazes such lands. Then, the king also has to donate away all his personal belongings including his wives to the chief officiators of the yagnya (those officiators immediately would sell the wives back to the king and king would pay them some amount of gold). That is when the Ashwamedha Yagnya is deemed and declared by the officiators and a.. people who attended it from the kingdom as complete. This yagnya is not only the most expensive yagnya but also the most rewarding in benefits.

    Indra depicted in other religion

    • Indra is known as Sakra in Buddhism and he rules the 33 gods.
    • In Cambodian tradition, he is known as Pah En the god of the sky and he is the most popular of the gods. He is considered to live atop Mt. Meru or Prah Sumer along with his servants the Yeaks (Yashas), fearsome ogres with fangs and red eyes who can transform themselves at will into any shape they please.
    • In the Cham religion of Vietnam, he is also the god of thunder and rides a white elephant.
    • In Chinese tradition, he is identified with the god Ti-shi.

    God Indra is still worshiped today in the Rajasthan region of India in the festival of Inder Puja which calls for rains to prevent the frequent droughts prevalent in this desert state.

    In Nepal, he is regarded as the God of rain and every year a Jatra (procession) is carried out in the month of October known as Indra Jatra.

    Photo by Rupad Bajracharya on 500px.com

    Source – Wikipedia

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    The Shiva temple that was once destroyed by Muslims stands grand as ever today

    Located in Hampi, 350 km from Bangalore, Virupaksha Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also part of Group of Monuments at Hampi, and Group of Monuments at Pattadakal. This Dravidian style temple is close to the famous temple of Kailasnath at Kanchipuram and is said to have been built by the queen of Vikramaditya II, Lokhamahadevi to commemorate king’s victory over Pallava of Kanchipuram.

    Virupaksha Temple. Photo by rn Pictures on 500px.com

    The capital of Vijayanagara, Hampi, sits on the banks of Tungabhadra River, and this Temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi. Many consider this to be the most sanctuary over the centuries. Lord Shiva here is in the form of Virupaksha.

    History of Virupaksha Temple

    From about 7th century, the history remains untampered and had existed way before the capital of Vijanayagara was located here. The inscriptions date back to the 9th and 10th centuries. It indicates that the temple had actually started as a small shrine, and then under the rule of Vijayanagara kings, the temple grew into what it is now today, a large complex. The additions were made during the Chalukyan and Hoysala periods, according to evidences, even though the core main structures were built during the rule of Vijayanagara kings. Lakkana Dandesha, a chieftain under the ruler Deva Raya II of Vijayanagara Empire, built the temple building.

    Virupaksha Temple
    Photo by askar (askarfrnd) on 500px.com

    There used to be a great flow of native art and culture during the 14th century under the rules of Vijayanagara kings. But they were defeated by Muslim invaders, and during that process, many decorative structures were systematically destroyed.

    Virupaksha Temple
    Photo by Situ Gupta on 500px.com

    However, the sect of Virupaksha-Pampa did not end with the destruction of the city in 1565. Many still went there to worship, and the culture continued over the years. Most of the renovation started at the beginning of 19th century, and that included the paintings, towers, ceilings.

    The Structure of Virupaksha Temple

    There is a sanctum with three antechambers, a pillared hall, and an open pillared hall. The cloister, gateways, courtyards, smaller shrines and other structure make the temple grandeur.

    The largest nine-tiered eastern gateway of 50 meters is well-rounded with a design inspired from earlier structures. The base is made of stone with brick as its core superstructure. This leads to the outer court that has many other sub-shrines.

    Virupaksha Temple
    Photo by Prashant Mohan on 500px.com

    The eastern gateway also leads to another court with many smaller shrines.

    Photo by Abhinav Bhatt on 500px.com

    There is a gopuram at the north side and is known as the Kanakagiri gopura, which leads to a small enclosure with subsidiary shrines and then to the river Tungabhadra. The river flows along the terrace and then moves down to the temple kitchen, then to the outer court.

    Photo by Arka Mukhopadhyay on 500px.com

    The famous King Krishnadevaraya was a patron of the temple, and most of the embellishment were done by him. He built the central pillared hall and the gateway tower. There is an inscription near to the pillared hall that talks about his contributions.

    Festivals at Virupaksha Temple

    Source

    The Virupaksha temple draws crowds during the annual chariot festival in the month of February. The temple is also known for betrothal and marriage festivities of Virupaksha and Pampa in December.

    Virupaksha Temple
    Golden Hour at Hampi, Karnataka India. by rn Pictures on 500px.com

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    The first Jyotirlinga temple of Lord Shiva – Somnath Temple

    Somnath temple is a proof that the power of reconstruction shall always be greater than the power of destruction.

    Photo by abhinav Singh on 500px.com

    Located in Gir Somnath district of Gujarat, India, Somnath temple is the first of the 12 jyotirlingas. The temple has undergone many reconstructions as it got destroyed several times, the one that is standing today was reconstructed in 1951 in Chalukya style. It was envisioned by Vallabhbhai Patel and was completed under K.M. Munshi.

    Somnath means “Lord Soma”, an epithet of Shiva, and the Somnath temple is known as “the Shrine Eternal”, according to a book by K.M. Munshi, which talks about the reconstruction and destruction of the temple throughout the course of history.

    Jyotirlinga

    This is where Shiva is believed to have appeared as the fiery column of light, Jyotirlinga. These jyotirlingas, 12 in total, are considered to be the supreme, undivided reality out of which Shiva party appears.

    Image credit – sayamam.com

    Legends and Myths

    Ever since the ancient days, Somnath has been a pilgrimage site. This is where Triveni Sangam occurs, the confluence of three holy rivers: Kapila, Hiran and the mythical Sarasvati. According to the stories, Soma, the Moon God, lost his illumination due to curse. He bathed in this river to regain his luster. The result of the this is the waxing and waning of the moon, which in turn creates an allusion to the waxing and waning of tides at the seashore location. The name Prabhas, which means luster, arise from this tradition, and thus the alternative names Someshvar and Somnath (“The Lord of the Moon” or “The Moon God”).

    History of Somnath temple

    The first rendition of the Somnath temple is unknown yet. The second temple is said to have been built at the same place by “Yadava Kings” of Vallabhi during 649 CE. When Al-Junayd, the Arab governor of Sindh, invaded the region, he destroyed the temple in 725 CE. Then again, Gurjara-Pratihara king Nagabhata II constructed the temple in 512.

    Photo by aramitb on 500px.com

    But there are no historical records of Al-Junayd’s attack on Somnath. Nagabhata might have visited tirthas in Saurashtra, including the Someshvara. It is probated that Chaulukya King Mularaja built the first temple site way back before 997 CE. Some historians believe that he only renovated smaller temples during those days.

    During the rain of Bhima in 1024, Mahmud of Ghazni, a prominent Turkic ruler, invaded Gujarat and plundered Somnath temple, breaking the jyotirlinga. He took away 20 million dinars worth during those times, and the historians believe that the destruction was minimal as there was evidence of tourists visiting the site in 1038. The temple then is said to have the wooden structure, which then decayed.

    Kumarapala built it with stone and studded the temple with jewels in 1169. Again, Alauddin Khiliji sacked the Somnath temple after attacking the place. The temple was rebuilt again by Mahipala Deva, Chudasama king of Saurashtra in 1308, and the lingam was installed by his son in between 1326 and 1351. The temple was destroyed again by Zafar Khan, which was again desecrated by Mahmud Begada. In 1546, Portuguese attacked the port and destroyed several temples and mosques in Gujarat.

    Somnath temple, 1869 | Image – wikipedia.org

    Many such destruction and reconstruction went on and on until it was finally reconstructed again in 1951 with Patel, K.M. Munshi, and other leaders proposing to reconstructing the temple, with the acceptance by Mahatma Gandhi. The task of reconstruction instead was done under Munshi, then Minister of Food and Supplies of Government of India headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.

    President Rajendra Prasad inaugurated the installation ceremony. He said:

    “It is my view that the reconstruction of the Somnath Temple will be complete on that day when not only a magnificent edifice will arise on this foundation, but the mansion of India’s prosperity will be really that prosperity of which the ancient temple of Somnath was a symbol. The Somnath temple signifies that the power of reconstruction is always greater than the power of destruction.”

    Architecture of Somnath temple

    The current architecture resembles the Chalukya style or the Kailash Mahameru Prasad style and reflects the skill of Sompura Salats, the master masons of Gujarat. It is 15m in height, with an 8.2m flag pole at the top.

    The arrow of the pillar directs to a straight line between Somnath seashore and Antarctica, which seems to be written in an inscription written in Sanskrit. The Banastambha, where the inscription is written, states that “it stands at a point on the Indian landmass that is the first point on land in the north to the South Pole at that particular longitude.”


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