Archive for the ‘Vishnu’ Category

Ekam sat viprā bahudhā vadanti.
Truth is One, but sages call it by many names.  (Rig Veda 1:164:46)

Aditi -Vedic Goddess who is the Mother of the Adityas and of cosmic space.  Mother of Indra, kings, and Gods.  She is prayed to for wealth and provision as well as for freedom from hindrances such as sin and illness.  Her milk is the invigorating drink soma.

Adityas  Vedic deities of light.  Includes Vishnu, Mitra, Aryaman, Bhaga, Varuna, Daksha, and Amsha.

Agni  Vedic God of fire, particularly the sacrificial fire.  Agni is the mediator between humans and the Gods since he carries the sacrifices to the Gods.  Agni is  depicted with one, two, or three heads, four arms, a crown of flames and his vahana (vehicle) is a goat or a ram.  He is sometimes shown carrying a fan, a ladle, a waterpot, and prayer beads.  He is the guardian of the southeast.

Aryaman  Vedic God of the ancestors.

Ashvins  Vedic Twin Gods of healing.  Their name means “possessor of horses” and are said to drive the chariot which brings Ushas (Goddess of dawn) every morning.  They know all the healing uses of plants and are depicted as young, healthy, and handsome.

Bhudevi (also Bhumidevi) Goddess of the earth.  She has been identified with Prithvi.  Vishnu is said to have rescued her from the bottom of the ocean in his incarnation as Varaha (the boar).

Brahma  the Creator God.  He is part of the trimurti, or trinity, which also includes Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer).  He is usually depicted as having four heads (facing each of the 4 directions), and four arms.  He holds a drinking vessel, prayer beads, and a book of the Vedas.  His vahana (vehicle) is a swan or a goose.  Sometimes he is described as the Grandfather of the worlds.  Only two temples in India are dedicated to Brahma.

Brahman  the self-existent, all-pervading God, from whom all things emanate.  As Nirguna Brahman “he” is said to be without form or attributes and is completely ineffable.  But as Saguna Brahman, “he” is recognized by various aspects, names, and forms.  For example, Brahma, called the Creator, could also be described as the creating aspect of Brahman; and Vishnu, the Preserver, could be described as the preserving aspect of Brahman.

  Vedic God of prayer.  He is seen as a heavenly priest who mediates between humans and Gods.  He is also identified with Jupiter.

Buddha  In Hinduism, the Buddha is said to be an incarnation of Vishnu.

Budha  One of the Navagrahas.  The planet Mercury, which is seen as a planet of wisdom, speech, and intellect.  Associated with Wednesday.

Chandra  the moon God.  He is depicted as a young man who rides a chariot pulled by a deer.  He is often shown with a crescent moon behind his head.

Dhruva  the Pole star.  Vaishnavas believe him to be a minor aspect of Vishnu.

Diti  Vedic goddess who is the mother of the asuras and the sister of Aditi.  She is the mother of the Maruts, or storm gods.

  Goddess who is an aspect of Parvati, wife of Shiva.  She is the killer of Mahishasura (the buffalo demon) as well as other demons.  She is worshiped all over India in villages by many various names as a Mother Goddess.  Her vahana (vehicle) is a lion or tiger, and she carries various weapons in her many arms.  She is worshiped particularly at her holiday of Durga Puja.

Dyaus  Vedic God of the sky.

Ganesha  the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati.  He is the remover of obstacles and is invoked at the beginning of the worship rites and at the beginning of a venture.  He is a God of wisdom and he grants success and good luck.  Ganesha is depicted as plump to indicate wealth and abundance.  He is shown with a broken tusk and holding a plate of ladoos (an Indian sweet), a noose, a goad, and prayer beads.  His vahana (vehicle) is a mouse.

Ganga  the river Ganges, personified as a Goddess. 

Garuda  the vahana (vehicle) of Vishnu.  He is part eagle and part man.

Gauri  Mother Goddess associated with rain.  Consort of Shiva or Varuna.  Her name means “brilliant, golden, yellow.”  She is depicted as having two or four arms and carrying a water pot and prayer beads.  Her vahana (vehicle) is the iguana, or occasionally a lion, wolf, pig, or goose.

(also Hanumat)  Son of Vayu.  Heroic and strong.  Has the ability to change shape but is usually depicted as having the face and tail of a monkey.  He is revered as the quintessential devotee of the Lord as Rama and his wife Sita and is a hero in the Ramayana epic. 

Indra  Vedic God of the sky, and of conquest and domination.  Slayer of the demon of drought, Vritra.  One-fourth of all hymns in the Rig Veda are to Indra.  He is depicted as having a thousand eyes all over his body, and as carrying vajras (thunderbolts) with which he destroys enemies.  His vahana (vehicle) is an elephant named Airavata.

Vedic Goddess and consort of Indra.  Described as being very beautiful.  She is called Shachi which may indicate that she exemplified an early version of Shakti, the feminine energy or power of the God.

Jyeshtha  Sister of Lakshmi, often identified as Shitala, the Goddess of smallpox.  She is popularly worshiped in South India.

  fearsome manifestation of Parvati, the wife of Shiva.  She destroys demons and the evil tendencies of humans and is therefore seen as a Liberator.  She is depicted as dark (her name means black) with her tongue dripping with the blood of demons.  She wears a garland of skulls and a skirt made out of human arms.  She holds a severed head which symbolizes the transience of life.  Kali is popularly worshiped in Bengal. 

Kama  the God of love.

Karttikeya  God of war and the ruler of the planet Mars and the Pleiades (Krittikas).  Son of Shiva and Parvati.  His vahana is a peacock.  He is depicted as a very young man carrying a spear as well as other weapons.  He rescues the world by defeating the demon Taraka.  He is also known as Subrahmanya, Murugan, and Skanda.

Krishna  One of the most popular Hindu Gods.  He is an incarnation of Vishnu who came to free the earth of the evil king, Kamsa.  He delivered the philosophical teachings of the Bhagavad Gita to his devotee Arjuna.  He is depicted as blue in color and often playing the flute.

Lakshmi  Goddess of wealth, both material and spiritual.  Consort of Vishnu.  She is said to have emerged from the Churning of the Ocean of Milk.  She is associated with the lotus.  She incarnates when Vishnu does, so that she was Sita when Rama appeared, and Rukmini when Krishna appeared.  Lakshmi is also commonly known as “Sri.” 

Mariamman  Goddess of smallpox popularly worshiped in the villages of Tamil Nadu.  She is depicted with a damaru (handheld drum), a skull cup, noose, sword, trident, and a parrot.

Maruts  Vedic storm deities.

Mitra  Vedic God of the sun.  God of light or the daytime sky.  He is also the God of contracts and guardian of the law.  He is depicted with two or four arms and carries lotuses, the soma plant, and a trident.  He rides in a horse-drawn chariot.

Murugan  God popularly worshiped in Tamil Nadu.  He is depicted as a young man who dwells in the forest.  He is identified with Karttikeya.

A group of planetary deities.  Includes Surya (also known as Savita or Mitra), Chandra (also known as Indu), Mangala, Budha, Guru, Shukra, Shani, Rahu and Ketu. 

Nirrti  Vedic Goddess of death, destruction, and misfortune.  The hymns in the Rig Veda that mention her are asking that she be driven away.  She is depicted as dark and as wearing dark clothes.

Parjanya  Vedic God of rain.

  Wife of Shiva, whom she won over by performing tapas (austerities).  She is thought of as the ideal devotee of her Lord, Shiva.  Her name means “daughter of the mountain.”  She is depicted with four arms and usually carrying prayer beads, a mirror, bell, and citron.  Her vahana (vehicle) is a lion or tiger.  She is worshiped as a Mother Goddess, and has manifestations as Durga, Kali, and various local Goddesses.

Vedic God of ritual worship and creation.  Later, he was identified with Brahma.

Prithivi  Vedic Goddess of the Earth.  She is most often paired with Dyaus, God of the sky.  She and Dyaus are seen as the universal parents of the gods and of the created world.  She later becomes associated with Vishnu and is identified as Bhudevi (the Goddess of the Earth).

Radha  She is the lover of Krishna.  She represents the devotee’s intense love for Krishna (God).  Her love is completely selfless in that she gains nothing in return except for the love itself.

Rama  Incarnation of Vishnu as a righteous prince and king.  His story is told in the Ramayana. 

Ratri  Vedic Goddess of the night.  She is the sister of Ushas, the Goddess of the dawn.  She is depicted as a beautiful maiden who provides light in the darkness and wears the stars for her jewelry.  She is sometimes described positively, as one who gives comfort and security against the evils lurking in the night, but at other times, she is seen as those very dangers and is therefore described negatively. 

Rudra  Vedic God who is often identified with Shiva.  He is the chief of the storm Gods called the Maruts.  Fearsome God who destroys and brings misfortune.

Santoshi Ma (also Santoshi Mata)  A Goddess popularly worshiped by women of the lower middle class.  Her name means “Mother of contentment.”  She is the daughter of Ganesha and can have both benevolent and awesome aspects.

Sarasvati  Vedic Goddess of the Sarasvati River (now dried up).  Wife of Brahma.  In the Vedas, she is seen as mighty and powerful because her waves could break down mountains.  She is prayed to for wealth, fertility, and nourishment.  She is seen as bountiful and bringing good fortune.  She was also a guardian of the sacrificial Vedic rites.  Later, she was understood to be the Goddess of wisdom and learning, as well as the arts, language, and music.  She carries the veena, an Indian stringed instrument, as well as prayer beads, a book, and a water pot.  She is said to be pure white like snow.  Her vahana (vehicle) is the swan.  She is the one who is seen as inspiring all good songs, poems, and other artistic achievements. 

Sati  Wife of Shiva who immolated herself in the sacrificial fire due to an offense to her husband.  She became reincarnated as Parvati.

Savitar  Vedic God of the sun.  Source of light.

Shakti  The personification of the female energy or divine power.  She represents the energy of any deity. 

Shashthi  A Goddess worshiped for the protection of a newborn child.  She is also prayed to by women wishing to have children.  She is of Bengali origin.  She is depicted with a child in her arms and her vahana (vehicle) is a cat.  She is sometimes considered a form of Durga or Lakshmi.

Shiva  One of the major Gods of Hinduism.  He is the destroying and rejuvenating aspect of the Trimurti (Trinity).  He is depicted in various ways, but commonly he is depicted as a meditating ascetic with his body covered with ash and his hair matted.  He has a third eye on his forehead.  His vahana (vehicle) is the bull Nandi.  He is often depicted holding a damaru (hand-held drum), a trishula (trident), an axe and prayer beads.

  Wife of Rama.  Lakshmi incarnated as Sita when Vishnu incarnated as Rama.  Her story is told in the Ramayana.  She is the model of the devoted wife.  In early Vedic literature, Sita was worshiped as the Goddess of the furrow for the abundance of crops.

Surya  Vedic God of the sun and light.

Tvashtri  Vedic God who is a divine carpenter.  He can make anything.

  Vedic Goddess of the dawn.  She is envisioned as a young maiden drawn in a hundred chariots.  She is prayed to in order to drive away darkness and the forces of evil.  She awakens humans to perform their duties of sacrifice, and thereby serves the other gods.

Vedic Goddess of speech, particularly ritual speech.  She is Truth.  She is the one who inspired the poetic expressions of religious truth of the Vedas.  She bestows vision to the seers (rishis).  She is described as an elegant, courtly lady.

Varuna  Vedic God of water as well as of Rita, the cosmic order.

Vedic God of the wind.  He is depicted as handsome, dark-complexioned young, and having two or four arms.  He carries a goad and a staff.  His vahana (vehicle) is the antelope or the lion.

(also Venkateshvara)  Lord of the Venkata Hills.  He is worshiped at Tirumala, near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh in India.  Most believe that he is a form of Vishnu, but some claim that he is a form of Shiva.  He holds a shankha and a chakra.  He is richly adorned and said to have appeared in this form after the Narasimha (man-lion) avatar of Vishnu, so that the devotees could adore him in a form that was more pleasant to behold than Narasimha (who took a ferocious form to kill an oppressive king).

One of the major Gods of Hinduism.  He is the Preserver of the trimurti (trinity).  He is said to pervade all things and he takes various forms, as befits the circumstances.  He is well-known by his avatars or incarnations, including Rama and Krishna.  He was a solar deity in the Vedas.  He embodies compassion, law and order.  He is often depicted as lying on Ananta, the serpent whose coils represent eternity.  Sometimes he is shown with a lotus growing forth from his navel, and from this lotus, Brahma, the Creator, is born.  Vishnu’s vahana (or vehicle) is the eagle Garuda.  He carries the shankha (conch), the chakra (discus), a lotus, and a mace.

Vedic God of death.

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An ancient temple dedicated to Nava Mukunda, a form of Lord Vishnu is located at Thirunavaya, on the shores of Bharathapuzha. It is believed that the idol installed in this temple is the ninth idol installed by famous saints known as Navayogis. Legends tell that first eight idols disappeared as soon as they are placed and the ninth one sunk up to knee by which time it was forcibly stopped.

This place in Thirunavaya is full of soft sands and was the location for the great festival known as “Mamankam”, the warrior fights held once in 12 years. Mamankam was the assembly of royal family members and was for 28 days.

Devotees come to this pristine sandy beach to offer last rites to the loved ones. There are other temples with deities as Shiva and Brahma in Thirunavaya.

In pasurams of Tirumangaialwar and Nammalwar, Thirunavaya is refered as Thirunavai, Lord Vishnu as Sree Nava Mukunda Perumal and Thayar (Mahalakshmi) as Malar Mangai Naachiyaar or Sirudevi.

Thiruvanaya Navamukunda Temple, near Ponnani in Malappuram district is situated on the banks of the river Bharathapuzha. Thirunavaya was once the capital of Perumpadapu Swaroopam. It is indeed the cradle of culture in northern Kerala. Holding immense historical importance, this is the place where ‘Mamangam’, a grand assembly of the rulers of Kerala was held once every 12 years, in olden times. This extravagant festival was held for the last time in 1755 AD. The famous and ancient Thirunavaya Temple, known throughout the country as an ancient teaching-centre of the Vedas, was once plundered and destroyed by Tipu Sultan’s army. It was the Zamorin who repaired the temple later.

This is the place were Nava yogis (Sathuvanathar, Saaloga nathar, Aadhinathar, Arulithanathar, Madhanga Nathar, Macchendira Nathar, Kadayanthira Nathar, Korakkanathar and Kukkudanathar) worshipped Vishnu. Vishnu gave darsan for Nava yogi. Hence this place is called Thirunavayogi and later changed in to Thirunaavaya. In due course, 8 yogis attained moksha and the vigrahams worshipped by them also disappeared and as a result of this, the ninth yogi got dejected and stopped offering worship to Vishnu. When questioned by Perumal, he said that he was missing his companions and Perumal with his maya showed the 8 yogis. The 8 yogis agreed to stay there but said that they would be invisible to human eyes and the 9th yogi could feel their presence. In due course, the 9th yogi requested Perumal to make him also invisible. But Perumal insisted that the vigraham worshipped by the 9 th yogi must be kept there itself and Perumal blessed the 9 yogis saying that they could offer worship to Him at that place forever. Hence, what we see now is the vigraham worshipped by the 9th yogi.

Goddess Mahalakshmi and Gajendra (Indradyumna) used to offer lotus flowers for worshipping Perumal. As Lakshmi Devi would pluck the flowers for aaradhana daily before Gajendran, the elephant got dejected and approached Perumal and told that henceforth it had to go elsewhere to get lotuses for Perumal. As Perumal did not want his devotee to get dejected, He appeared before Goddess Mahalakshmi and Gajendran and said that Thayar could be with Him and accept the offerings made by Gajendran. Hence, this is the only divya desam, in Kerala which has a separate Sreekovil for Maha Lakshmi (Thayar).

It is a usual practice in Kerala temples that after installing an idol, the Sreekovil would remain closed for 7 days with the belief that the devas would offer pooja to the idol. In this temple, first a vigraham was installed and the Sreekovil was kept closed for 7 days. But when the doors opened, they were shocked to see the idol missing. They again brought another idol and the idol disappeared. This went on for 8 times and on the 9th time, out of curiosity, when they opened the temple doors before the scheduled time, they were shocked to see that the idol had descended into the earth upto the knee. To prevent further descent of the idol, They immediately chanted various mantras and saw to it that the idol did not descend further. It is believed that when the idol would descend into the earth, Kaliyuga will come to an end.

Thirunavaya is considered equivalent to Varanasi because of the presence of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma temples. It is a well known story that Markandeya was destined to die at th age of 16. When Lord Yama came to take his life, the little boy ran into this temple and prayed to Perumal to save him. Perumal appeared before the boy and gave him a Shiva linga for worship and advised the boy to escape from the backside entrance. He assured that Lord Shiva would take care of him. As soon as Markandeya escaped from the backside, Perumal placed a big stone and closed the way permanently and ensured that Yama could not enter the way. To this day, the door behind Perumal remains closed. Markandeya worshiped Shiva near to this temple and the place where Lord Shiva gave darsan to Markandeya and killed Yama, is now famous as the Truppangottu Shiva Temple – one among  108 Shivalayams.

The subdieties in this temple are Ganapathy and Lakshmi Bhagavathy. Thousands flock here on Karkkidaka vavu day to perform the pithrukriya rites for the departed souls. The Navamukunda temple is said to be the sacred spot blessed with the presence of Saraswathi, Gayathri, Lakshmi, Parvathy, Shani, Markandeya, Ganga, and Yamuna


The land of ancient Mamankam, Tirunnavya is South of Tirur. Situated on the banks of Bharathapuzha; it is a place of historical importance. In olden days, Mamankam was a grand assembly of the rulers held once in 12 years, in which, one among them was selected as the emperor of Kerala. It was an enormous trade fair also. The Mamankam festival was celebrated for 28 days with great pomp and pageantry where traders from outside came in ships and barges to Tirunnavaya through Ponnani Port. Thus the economical importance of Mamankam was high and hence the right to conduct and control it was important. At the end of the rule of Perumals, the right of mamankam was with Vellattiri, the ruler of Valluvanad. Later the Zamorn of Kozhikode, took this right by force and this resulted in dispute and bloodshed between these two Rajas. Valluvanad Raja used to sent Chaver warriors to fight until death, to recapture the right from the Zamorin, who would stand Nilapadu at Nilapadu thara in Tirunnavaya, Surrounded by a large contingent of soldiers, in every 12th year. The last of such Mamankam, was believed to be held in 1755, when Zamorin had an hair breath escape from a 16 year old Chaver. The Nilapadu thara, now in the premises of Kottakkal Tile factory, is protected by the Archaeological department. A deep well called Manikkinar believed to be dumped with bodies of the Chavers is also protected. Tirunnavaya is a converging place of the Trimurtis, – (Brahma, Vishnu, Siva). Three temples, Consecrated to these deities, are on either bank of Bharathapuzha. The famous vedic Vidyalaya Othanmar Madhom of ancient times, is on of the left bank of Bharathapuzha, near the Siva temple. This madhom was a center of aryanisation through Sanskrit and Vedic education as Tirunnavaya as believed to be the main center, where Parusurama brought and settled Brahmins. The place (Mana) of Puranic fame Azhavancherry Thamprakkal is 2 Kms north of Tirunnavya. Nava mukunda Temple beloved to be constructed by Nava yogis on the right bank of Bharathapuzha, is an important Vishnu temple of Kerala. Pithru Tharpanam is a ritual, held here on the day of Amavasi of Karkitaka (July). Bali Karma is offered by people in their wet clothes, after dip in the river, for the salvation of sins and appease the dead souls

A martial art festival of Kalarippayattu is conducted during summer on the sands of Bharathapuzha. The famous Changampalli Kalari is near Tirunnavaya. During the second week of February, A Sarvodya Mela is conducted in Tirunnavaya where the Gandhians of Kerala, use to assemble. The Santhikudeeram established by the national leader K. Kelappan, is the center place of this mela.

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