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Hindu Dharma and Mysticism – The Mystical Creatures

Life in all forms plays a vital role in the Universe, all are equal and all deserve the respect and importance the Godly creatures and the warriors usually demand. The stories in the Hindu Dharma often speak of the unlikely hero who plays a major role Paratma’s greater design. Here we present such mystical creatures of the Hindu Dharma.

Chelamma

Kolaramma Temple, Kolar where the scorpion goddess Chelamma is worshipped. (source)

Chelamma is a Scorpion goddess and is worshipped along with Kolaramma in Kolar. It is believed that by praying at the Chelamma shrine a person will be guarded against scorpion bites by the deity. There is an ancient Hundi which is carved down into the ground and people have been putting the gifts or Kanike in it from the past 1,000 years and no one has ever opened it.Legend has it that it contains precious stones and gold coins of bygone times.

Chakora

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A Patridge like bird described in Hindu scriptures to thrive only on the moonlight for its food. Moonlight is supposed to its nectar or Amrita.  Adi Sankaracharya also refers to this bird and is supposed to have drunk to its brim the moonlight of Goddess Shakthi or Amba’s smile, which is so sweet that it benumbs the beak of the bird. To counteract this numbness, the bird goes to get a drink of the moonlight compared to a ‘sour gruel’ when compared to the godly smile. The association of Chakora and Chandra, the moon god has inspired a number of folk love stories in India.

Hamsa

It is an aquatic bird that resembles a goose or a swan. It is reputed to eat pearls and to be able to separate milk from water and drink only pure milk. The Hamsa represents the perfect harmony between spirituality and life. When the word ‘hamsa’ is constantly repeated, it changes to ‘Soaham’ meaning ‘That I am’. Thus the hamsa is often identified with the Supreme Spirit or Brahman. The flight of the Hamsa also symbolizes the escape of the soul from the cycle of samsara.

The bird also has special connotations in Advaita Vedanta – just as the swan lives on water but its feathers do not get damp, similarly a person who follows Advaita, non-dulity, try to live in harmony in this material world of Maya (illusion), but is really detached and not impacted by its illusionary nature. The hamsa is depicted as the ‘vehicle’ or vahana of Saraswati, the goddess of learning.

Gandaberunda

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Also known as Berunda, is a two-headed mythological bird on the outskirts of the main Hindu scriptures, believed to possess immense magical strength. It is believed to be capable of fighting the forces of destruction. It appears as an intricately carved sculpture motif in Hindu temples. A deer becomes prey to a big python, which in turn is lifted by an elephant. A lion attacks the elephant and the lion itself is devoured by Sharabha. Finally, it is Gandabherunda which finishes off Sharabha.The Gandaberunda was a physical form displayed by Narasimha, Man-Lion incarnation of Vishnu.

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Garuda

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The Garuda is a large legendary bird, bird-like creature, or humanoid bird that appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Garuda is the mount (vahana) of the Lord Vishnu. Garuda is depicted as having the golden body of a strong man with a white face, red wings, and an eagle’s beak and with a crown on his head. This ancient deity was said to be massive, large enough to block out the sun. His stature in Hindu religion can be gauged by the fact that a dependent Upanishad, the Garudopanishad, and a Purana, the Garuda Purana, is devoted to him.

Kurma

It is the second Avatar of Lord Vishnu. Like other avatars of Vishnu. After Sage Durvasa cursed the Gods to life of Mortals, Lord Vishnu advised that they had to drink the nectar of immortality to regain their glory. To obtain it, they needed to churn the ocean of milk, a body of water so large, they needed Mount Mandara as the churning staff, and the serpent Vasuki as the churning rope. The Devas were not strong enough to churn on their own, and declared peace with their foes, the Asuras, to enlist their help. Finally, Mount Mandara churned, but the force was so great the mountain began to sink into the ocean of milk. Taking the form of the turtle Kurma, Bhagwan Vishnu bore the mountain on his back as they churned the waters. Fourteen precious things arose from the turbulent ocean, culminating with Dhanvantari, the physician of the gods, who brought with him the nectar of immortality.

The Asuras immediately took the nectar and quarreled amongst themselves. Vishnu then manifested himself as the beautiful Mohini and tricked the Asuras to retrieve the potion, which he then distributed to the Devas. Though the Asuras realized the trick, it was too late—the Devas had regained their powers and were then able to defeat their foes.

Kamadhenu

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Kamadhenu, also known as Surabhi, is a divine bovine-goddess described in Hindu scriptures as the mother of all cows. She is a miraculous “cow of plenty” who provides her owner whatever he desires and is often portrayed as the mother of other cattle as well as the eleven Rudras. In iconography, she is generally depicted as a white cow containing various deities within her body. All cows are venerated in Hinduism as the earthly embodiment of the Kamadhenu.

Kinnaras

Art by elcaide on DeviantArt

Kinnaras is a heavenly creature, half-bird, half-human. They are good at playing musical instruments, like the veena or the lute. Kinnara woman are called Kinnaris. Kinnaris are intangible and beautiful women from head to waist, but the body shape down is a goose. They are good at poetry, playing musical instruments, and dancing.

Mayura

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Legend has it that Mayura was created from the feathers of Garuda. In images of the Mayura as a mythical bird, it is depicted as killing a snake, which – according to a number of Hindu scriptures – is a symbol of the cycle of time. Mayura is associated with a number of gods and deities – Goddess Kaumari is generally depicted with a Mayura, who is also her conveyance. A Mayura also serves as a conveyance of the god Kartikeya and Krishna are generally depicted with peacock feathers adorning his head.

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Matsya

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It is the avatar of Lord Vishnu in the form of a fish. Often listed as the first avatar in the lists of the ten primary avatars of Vishnu, Matsya is described to have rescued the first man, Manu, from a great deluge. Matsya may be depicted as a giant fish, or anthropomorphically with a human torso connected to the rear half of a fish.

Matsya forewarns Manu about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world in a boat; in some forms of the story, all living creatures are also to be preserved in the boat. When the flood destroys the world, Manu – in some versions accompanied by the seven great sages – survives by boarding the ark, which Matsya pulls to safety. In later versions of this story, the sacred texts Vedas are hidden by a demon, whom Matsya slays: Manu is rescued and the scriptures are recovered. The tale is in the tradition of the family of flood myths, common across cultures.

Pishacha

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Pishachas are flesh-eating demons according to Hindu scriptures. legend describes them as the sons of either Krodha (anger) or of Dakṣha’s daughter Pisaca. They have been described to have a dark complexion with bulging veins and protruding, red eyes. They like darkness and are traditionally depicted as haunting cremation grounds along with other demons like Bhut and Vetalas. Pishachas have the power to assume different forms at will, and may also become invisible. They feed on human energies

Suvannamaccha

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She is a daughter of Tosakanth appearing in the Thai and other Southeast Asian versions of Ramayana.She is a mermaid princess who tries to spoil Hanuman’s plans to build a bridge to Lanka but falls in love with him instead. They parted as lovers part but it was not to be the end for them. Hanuman had left a seed with Suvannamaccha and soon she would give birth to their son, Macchanu.

Macchanu

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As per these versions of Ramayana, during one of the battles with Ravana’s army, Hanuman encounters one powerful opponent, who looked like Vanara from waist-up but had a tail of a fish. After a fierce battle, as Hanuman was about to hit the creature with his weapons, a golden star shining in the sky above, reveals by way of Akashvani that the enemy, whom he is going to harm is his own son born by his union with Suvannamaccha, the mermaid daughter of Ravana. Hanuman, immediately holds his weapons in mid-air and father-son duo recognizes each other.

Makara

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A Makara is considered to be an aquatic mythical creature. It is generally depicted as an animal with the body of a fish, the trunk of an elephant, the feet of a lion, the eyes of a monkey, the ears of a pig, and the tail of a peacock. Makara is the vahana of goddess Ganga and sea-god Varuna. It is also the insignia of the love god – Kamadeva. Makara is also the astrological sign of Capricorn, one of the 12 symbols of the zodiac. It is often portrayed protecting the entrances of Hindu and Buddhist temples.

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Navagunjara

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In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Navagunjara is a creature composed of nine different animals. The animal is a common motif in the Pata-Chitra style of painting, from the Indian state of Odisha. The beast is considered a form of Vishnu as a variant of the virat-rupa (omnipresent or vast) form of Krishna. Navagunjara has the head of a rooster and stands on three feet – those of an elephant, tiger, deer or horse, the fourth limb being a raised human arm carrying a lotus or a wheel. The beast has the neck of a peacock, the back or hump of a bull, the waist of a lion, and the tail of a serpent.

Sharabha

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Sharabha is a creature in Hindu scriptures that is a part lion and part bird. According to Sanskrit literature, Sharabha is an eight-legged beast, mightier than a lion and elephant and which can kill the lion. In later literature, Sharabha is described as an eight-legged deer. Shaiva scriptures narrate that god Shiva assumed the avatar (incarnation) of Sharabha to tame Narasimha – the fierce man-lion avatar of Vishnu. This form is popularly known as Sarabeshwara or Sharabeshwaramurti. In Buddhism, Sharabha appears as a previous birth of the Buddha.

Shesha Naag

The thousand-headed serpent in Hindu scriptures, Shesha Naag, is also called Ananta. Balarama is said to be an incarnation of Ananta, who is said to hold the whole universe in his hood. When it coils forward, creation takes place, when he coils backward, the universe ceases to exist. For this reason, he is given the name ‘Shesha’ which means remainder – as he remains when coiled back and nothing else exists. Before Balarama, Laxman, the brother of Rama, was also an incarnation of Shesha Naag It uses seven of its heads as a bed for Vishnu. It is believed that eventually, Shesha Naag will destroy the planet as it does at the end of each era.

Uchchaihshravas

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In Hindu scriptures, Uchchaihshravas is a seven-headed flying horse that was obtained during Samudra Manthan. It is often described as a vahana of Indra but is also recorded to be the horse of Bali, the king of demons. The 12th-century Hariharacaturanga records that once, Brahma performed a sacrifice out of which rose a winged white horse called Uchchaihshravas. It again rose out of the milking ocean and was taken by the king of demons Bali. Vishnu Purana records that when Prithu was made the first king on earth, others were also given kingship responsibilities. Uchchaihshravas was then made the king of horses.

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