Ausgewählte Erzählungen aus Somadeva's
Ozean der Erzählungsströme

2. Buch I, Welle 1

4. Vers 27 - 46: Rahmenerzählung I: Die Kurzgeschichte, Pārvatīs frühere Geburt

verfasst von Somadeva

übersetzt und erläutert von Alois Payer

Zitierweise / cite as:

Somadeva <11. Jhdt. n. Chr.>: Kathāsaritsāgara : der Ozean der Erzählungsströme : ausgewählte Erzählungen / übersetzt und erläutert von Alois Payer. -- 2. Buch I, Welle 1. -- 4. Vers 27 - 46: Rahmenerzählung I: Die Kurzgeschichte, Pārvatīs frühere Geburt. -- Fassung vom 2006-11-16. -- 

Erstmals publiziert: 2006-10-26

Überarbeitungen: 2006-11-16 [Korrekturen]; 2006-11-09 [Korrekturen und Ergänzungen]

Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung WS 2006/07

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Der Sanskrit-Text folgt im Wesentlichen folgender Ausgabe:

Somadevabhaṭṭa <11. Jhdt.>: Kathāsaritsāra / ed. by Durgāprasād and Kāśīnāth Pāṇḍurāṅg Parab. -- 4. ed. / revised by Wāsudev Laxman Śāstrī Paṇśikar. -- Bombay : Nirnaya-Sagar Press, 1930, -- 597 S. -- [in Devanāgarī]



Der von großen Dichter, dem Ehrwürdigen Gelehrten Somadeva verfasste Ozean der Erzählungsströme


Die Verse sind, wenn nichts anderes vermerkt ist, im Versmaß Śloka abgefasst.

Definition des Śloka in einem Śloka:

śloke ṣaṣṭhaṃ guru jñeyaṃ
sarvatra laghu pañcamam
dvicatuṣpādayor hrasvaṃ
saptamaṃ dīrgham anyayoḥ

"Im Śloka ist die sechste Silbe eines Pāda schwer, die fünfte in allen Pādas leicht
Die siebte Silbe ist im zweiten und vierten Pāda kurz, lang in den beiden anderen."

Das metrische Schema ist also:

 ̽  ̽  ̽  ̽ ˘ˉˉ ̽ 
 ̽  ̽  ̽  ̽ ˘ˉ˘ ̽ 

 ̽  ̽  ̽  ̽ ˘ˉˉ ̽ 

4.1. Die Kurzgeschichte (27 - 32)

asti mām īkṣituṃ pūrvaṃ
brahmā nārāyaṇas tathā |
mahīṃ bhramantau himavat-
pādamūlam avāpatuḥ |27|

27. Es war einmal: Um mich zu besuchen sind Brahmā1 und Nārāyaṇa2, die auf der Welt herumzogen, zum Fuß des Himavat gekommen.


1 Brahmā


Abb.: Brahma carving at a temple in Halebidu [ಹಳೆಬೀಡು]


God of creation
Devanagari: ब्रह्मा
Sanskrit Transliteration: Brahmā
Affiliation: Deva
Abode: Brahmapura
Consort: Saraswati
Mount: Swan

Brahma (written Brahmā in IAST) (Devanagari ब्रह्मा, pronounced as /brəhmɑː/) is the Hindu God (deva) of creation, and one of the Hindu Trinity - Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. He is not be confused with the Supreme Cosmic Spirit of Hindu philosophy known as 'Brahman' (the root of both words is the same). His consort is given as Saraswati, the goddess of learning. Brahmā is also often identified with Prajapati, the Vedic deity.


According to the Puranas Brahma is self-born (without mother) in the lotus flower which grows from the navel of Vishnu at the beginning of the universe. This explains his name Nabhija (born from the navel). Another legend says that Brahmā was born in water. In this he deposited a seed that later became the golden egg. From this golden egg, Brahma the creator was born, as Hiranyagarbha. The remaining materials of this golden egg expanded into the Brahm-anda or Universe. Being born in water, Brahmā is also called Kanja (born in water). Brahmā is said also to be the son of the Supreme Being, Brahman and the female energy known as Prakrti or Maya.


At the beginning of the process of creation, Brahmā created ten Prajapatis (used in another sense), who are believed to be the fathers of the human race. The Manusmriti enumerates them as Marichi, Atri, Angirasa, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Vasishtha, Prachetas or Daksha, Bhrigu, and Narada. He is also said to have created the seven great sages or the Saptarishi to help him create the universe. However since all these sons of his were born out of his mind rather than body, they are called Manas Putras or mind-sons.

Within Vedic and Puranic scripture Brahmā is described as only occasionally interfering in the affairs of the other devas (gods), and even more rarely in mortal affairs. He did force Soma to give Tara back to her husband, Brihaspati. He is considered the father of Dharma and Atri. Brahmā lives in Brahmapura, a city located on Mt. Meru.

The lack of popularity of the worship of Brahmā is given by the following stories: Once, Vishnu and Brahmā approached Shiva and requested to find his beginning and end. Vishnu was appointed the end, and Brahma the beginning. Each took their journey, and neither could find their appointed destination. Vishnu, satisfied, came up to Shiva and bowed down to him as a swarupa of Brahman. Brahmā did not give up so easily. As he was going up, he saw a kaitha flower, dear to Shiva. His ego forced him to ask the flower to bear false witness of Brahmā's finding Shiva's beginning. When Brahmā told his tale, Shiva, the all-knowing, was angered by the former's ego. Shiva thus cursed him that no being in the three worlds will worship him. There is another legend which relates Brahmā's not being worshipped to a curse by the great sage Brahmarishi Bhrigu. Once a great fire-sacrifice (yajna) was being organised on Earth with Bhrigu being the high priest. It was decided that the greatest among all Gods would be made the presiding deity. Bhrigu then set off to find the greatest among the Trinity. When he went to Brahmā, he was so immersed in the music played by Saraswati that he could hardly hear Bhrigu's calls. The enraged Bhrigu then cursed Brahmā that no person on Earth would ever invoke him or worship him again.

In Valmiki's Ramayana, Brahma is said to have instructed the sage to worship Rama incarnation of Vishnu or Shiva as recounted to in the story of the Ganges.

India today has but two temples dedicated to Brahmdev alone as opposed to the thousands of temples dedicated to the other deities in the Trinity namely Shiva and Vishnu. The more famous one being at Pushkar in Rajasthan state.


Abb.: A handcoloured engraving of Brahma

Brahmā is traditionally depicted with four heads and four faces and four arms. With each head he continually recites one of the four Vedas. He is usually depicted with a white beard, to match the near eternal nature of his existence. He is shown as having four arms, with none holding a weapon, unlike most other Hindu Gods. One of his hands is shown holding a scepter in the form of a spoon, which is associated with the pouring of holy ghee or oil into a sacrificial pyre - indicating the fact that Brahmā is the lord of sacrifices. Another of his hands holds a water-pot (sometimes depicted as a coconut shell containing water). The significance of the water is that it is the initial, all-encompassing ether in which the first element of creation evolved. Brahmā also holds a string of rosary beads that he uses to keep track of the Universe's time. He also is shown holding the Vedas, and sometimes, a lotus flower.

Another story in connection with Brahma's four heads is that when Brahmā was creating the universe, he made a female deity known as Shatarupā (one with a hundred beautiful forms). Brahmā became immediately infatuated. Shatarupā moved in various directions to avoid the gaze of Brahmā. But wherever she went, Brahmā developed a head. Thus, Brahmā developed five heads, one on each side and one above the others. In order to control Brahmā, Shiva cut off the top head. Also, Shiva felt that Shatarupā was Brahmā's daughter/son, being created by him. Therefore, Shiva determined, it was wrong for Brahmā to become obsessed with her. He directed that there be no proper worship in India for the "unholy" Brahmā. Thus, only Vishnu and Shiva continue to be worshipped, while Brahmā is almost totally ignored. Ever since the incident, Brahmā has been reciting the four Vedas in his attempt at repentance.

The Bhagavata Purana includes a story wherein the Brahma of our universe is called by Krishna to meet with the Brahma's of other worlds, some of which have many more than four heads, counting into the many thousands in some instances for Brahma's in control of universes much larger than our own.


Brahma's vehicle is a divine Swan. This divine bird is bestowed with a virtue called Neera-Ksheera Viveka or the ability to separate milk and water from a mixture of the two. The significance of this is that justice should be dispensed to all creatures, however entwined it might be in a situation. Also, this virtue indicates that one should learn to separate the good from the evil and then accept that which is valuable and discard that which is worthless or evil.


Although Brahmā is prayed to in almost all Hindu religious rites, there are only three temples dedicated to him in India, the more prominent of which is at Pushkar, close to Ajmer. Once a year, on the full moon night of the Hindu lunar month of Kartika (October - November), a religious festival is held in Brahmā's honour, but some say Brahma has no honor for he tried to kill Shiva and Vishnu. Thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in the holy lake adjacent to the temple. There is also a famous murti of Brahmā at Mangalwedha, 52 km from Solapur district in Maharashtra and the biggest is in Agkor Vat in Kambodia. There is one more temple for Brahma in the temple town of Kumbakonam [கும்பகோணம்], (Thanjavur District [தஞ்சாவூர்]) Tamil Nadu. Regular pujas are held for Brahma and during Navrathris, this temple comes to life with colourful festivities."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

2 Nārāyaṇa: Viṣṇu

"Narayana (नारायण; nārāyaṇa) or Narayan is an important Sanskrit name for Vishnu and is in many contemporary vernaculars, a common Indian name. The name is also associated with Brahma and Krishna. He is also identified with, or as the son of, the original man, Purusha.

But at its core, Nara-Narayana is further broken down where Nara means human and Narayana means the Supreme Divinity, or Vishnu. In the concept of Nara-Narayana, the human soul Nara is the eternal companion of the Divine Narayana. Any human being with an awakened consciousness of divinity in him and who works overall for the welfare of humanity is a Nara-Narayana, an incarnation of Vishnu on earth working for the preservation of dharma or righteousness.

Furthermore, the name Narayana is a Sanskrit tatpurusha compound, with the members nara, which means "human, man", and ayana "eternal, without ending (a-yana)". Tradition associates the nara element with another meaning of "water", explaining the name as indicating the all-pervasive nature of Narayana as that of an infinite ocean in which the never-ending movement of birth, life and death of the cosmos occurs. Narayana according to this etymology is the one who moves in the infinite waters and is also the water itself. This close association of Narayana with water explains the frequent depiction of Narayana in Hindu Art as standing or sitting on an ocean.

Another interpretation of Narayana is that "Ayana" also means direction/goal and as previously mentioned "Nara" means human. Hence Narayana refers to the direction of a human (or the one that helps a human to his/her goal) - that towards moksha. Specially so , because moksha is represented by the water element (one of the five elements - pancha bhootam/Tattva) and as previously mentioned Nara referes to the "Water" element.

Sacred uses
  • Narayana is another name for Vishnu or the Hindu name for God and appears as the 245th name in the Vishnu sahasranama. For more information, see Vaishnava Theology.
  • The book, Sri Ramanuja, His Life, Religion, and Philosophy, published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India, states that the name "Narayana" means, "He who is the dwelling place, i.e., the source, support and dissolving ground of all Jivas or souls, including inert matter."
  • One of the most famous mantras, "Om Namo Narayana" is chanted by Hindus. This mantra, along with Om Namah Shivāya, and the Gayatri mantra are the most sacred prayers by Hindus.

A verse that confers the Devas' subordinate status comes from the Vishnu sahasranama, whose concluding verses state: "The Rishis (great sages), ancestors, the Devas, the great elements, in fact, all things moving and unmoving constituting this universe have originated from Narayana." (i.e., Vishnu.) This verse, if proof was necessary, indicates that the Devas are subordinate to Vishnu or God."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]


Abb.: Lord Krishna revealing his Universal form to Arjuna
Artwork © courtesy of The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
Vishnu Kumar

Devanagari: विष्णु
Sanskrit Transliteration: viṣṇu
Affiliation: Trimurti
Consort: Lakshmi
Mount: Garuda

Vishnu (IAST viṣṇu, Devanagari विष्णु, with honorific Shri Vishnu; śrī viṣṇu, श्री विष्णु ), is a form of God, in Hinduism. For Vaishnavas, he is the Ultimate Reality or God, as is Shiva for Shaivites. In Trimurti concept (sometimes called the Hindu Trinity), he is the second aspect of God (the others being Brahma and Shiva).

Known as the Preserver, he is most famously identified with his avatars, or incarnations, especially Krishna and Rama. He is also frequently referred to as Narayana.

For the followers of Vaishnavism, known as Vaishnavas, he is the Ultimate Reality and not just one form of God. Smartas, who follow Advaita philosophy, believe that deities such as Vishnu or Shiva are various forms of one ultimate higher power ("Brahman"), which has no specific form, name, face or features. The view of Ayyavazhi [Tamil:அய்யாவழி ayyavaḻi] is almost same to that of Smartism on Vishnu.

Vaishnavism however believes that God can transcend all personal characteristics yet can also have personal characteristics for the grace of the human devotee. Personal characteristics are considered an aid for the devotee to focus on God. It also believes that it is not necessarily wrong to view a form of God as long as it is recognized that God is not limited to a particular form. Nonetheless, there are many Vaishnava sects, most notably Vadakalai Iyengars, who believe that Vishnu's actual form is not beyond human comprehension, and that his form is exactly as shown in pictures and idols.

Vaishnavite Hindus also worship Vishnu in an abstract form (i.e., God with vague form) as a saligrama stone. Use of the saligrama is similar to the use of lingam, a form of Shiva.

Hindus believe that Vishnu incarnates periodically for the establishment and protection of righteousness, good dharma and destruction of evil adharma; see avatar for more information.


The traditional Hindu explanation of the name Viṣṇu involves the root viś, meaning "to settle, to enter", or also (in the Rigveda) "to pervade", and a suffix nu, translating to approximately "the All-Pervading One". The early commentator on the Vedas, Yaska, in his Nirukta, defines Vishnu as 'vishnu vishateh; one who enters everywhere', and 'yad vishito bhavati tad vishnurbhavati; that which is free from fetters and bondages is Vishnu.'

Adi Sankara in his commentary on Vishnu Sahasranama (Swami Tapasyananda's translation, Ramakrishna Math publications) states derivation from this root, with a meaning "presence everywhere" ("As he pervades everything, vevesti, he is called Visnu"). Adi Sankara states (regarding Vishnu Purana, 3.1.45): "The Power of the Supreme Being has entered within the universe. The root Viś means 'enter into.'"

Regarding the suffix, Manfred Mayrhofer (Indo-Aryan etymological dictionary, 1996, II.566f.) proposes that the nasal is analogous to jiṣṇu "victorious". Mayrhofer further suggests that the name goes back to an already Indo-Iranian *višnu, and was replaced by rašnu in Zoroastrian Iran.

The root viś is also associated with viśva "all" (possibly by popular etymology, the word is generally believed to derive from Indo-Iranian *vi-k'o-, influenced by sarva "all", but a minority opinion does, indeed, derive viśva as from vik'-so, (J. Knobloch (1980)).

Suggestions involving other roots include vi-ṣṇu "crossing the back", vi-ṣ-ṇu "facing towards all sides" and viṣ-ṇu "active", as well as attempts to explain Vishnu as an amalgate of two unrelated words, or as being derived from a non-Aryan root (see Mayrhofer, A Concise Etymological Sanskrit Dictionary (1976) III.231f., J. Gonda, Aspects of Early Visnuism (ISBN 81-208-1087-2, reprint 1993) for a collection of references). The name is continued in Prakrit veṇhu, viṇhu.

Pre-Puranic Vishnu

In the Vedas

In the Rigveda, Vishnu is mentioned 93 times. He is frequently invoked with other gods, especially with Indra, whom he assists in killing Vritra, and with whom he drinks Soma. His companionship with Indra is still reflected by his later epitheta Indrānuja (Younger Brother of Indra) and Upendra (Little, or Vice- Indra). His distinguishing characteristic in the Vedas is his association with Light, or even his identification with the Sun.

The most celebrated act of Vishnu in the Rigveda is the 'three steps' by which he strode over this (universe) and in three places planted his step. The 'Vishnu Sukta' of the Rig Veda (1.154) says that the first and second of Vishnu's strides (those encompassing the earth and air) are visible to men and the third is in the heights of heaven (sky). This last place is described as Vishnu's supreme abode in RV 1.22.20:

The princes evermore behold / that loftiest place where Visnu is / Laid as it were an eye in heaven. (trans. Griffith)

Griffith's "princes" are the sūri, either "inciters" or lords of a sacrifice, or priests charged with pressing the Soma. The verse is later quoted as expressing Vishnu's supremacy by Vaishnavites,

(In the Rigveda the Sun is not a high-ranking deity, c.f. e.g. RV 2.12.7,

He who gave being to the Sun and Morning, who leads the waters, he, O men, is Indra. (trans. Griffith)

where Indra appears as senior to the Sun.)

One early commentator, Aurnavabha, who is mentioned by Yaska in his Nirukta, interprets the three steps as the different positions of the sun at his rising, culmination, and setting. Though such solar aspects have been associated with Vishnu by tradition as well as modern-scholarship, he was not just the representation of the sun for in Rigveda he traverses in his strides both vertically and horizontally.

In hymns I.22.17, 1.154.3, 1.154.4 he strides across the earth with three steps, in VI.49.13 , VII.100.3 strides across the earth three times and in I.154.1,I.155.5,VII.29.7 he strides vertically, with the final step in the heavens. The same Veda also says he strode wide and created space in the cosmos for Indra to fight Vritra. By his stride he said to have made dwelling for men possible, the three being a symbolic representation of its all-encompassing nature. This all-enveloping nature, assistance to Indra and benevolence to men were to remain the enduring attributes of Vishnu. As the triple-strider he is known as Tri-vikrama and as Uru-krama for the strides were wide. (The reference to the three strides of Vishnu in the Rig Veda is most possibly a prototype for the later legend of Vamana.)

In the Vedas, Vishnu appears not yet included in the class of the Adityas (unless it is implied that he is identical with Surya, and included as the eighth Aditya), but in later texts he appears as heading them.

It is inexplicable how Vishnu (and Shiva) rose to the prominence enjoyed currently by referring only to the Vedic hymns as Indra and Agni are invoked far more. It must be remembered that these hymns are liturgical in nature and meant primarily for the Soma sacrifice, especially dear to Indra. They may not represent the popular religion of those times as Jan Gonda cautions. (he also gives an elaborate explanation of how the notion of Vishnu spread over various hymns contains the germs of future attributes.) In some Rgvedic hymns, Indra seeks the help of Vishnu in destroying Vritra, indicating that he is not sufficient to accomplish it on his own. (This story can be found in later epics and Puranas with ever increasing emphasis on Vishnu's role, till in the Bhagavata Purana, Vritra is a warrior, philosopher and devotee in whose comparison Indra is a pale figure.)

In another interpretation, the characteristic of Vishnu as the Supreme God appeared much earlier in the Vedic texts. For example, the following Vedic hymns express that point of view:

1. Purusha Sukta of Taittiriya Aranyaka (3.13.2) also refers master of Hri and Lakshmi (Vishnu) as Purusha, the Supreme God.

2. Visvakarma Sukta of Rig Veda (10.82) refers to Vishnu indirectly as the Supreme God.

  • 10.082.06: The waters verily first retained the embryo in which all the gods were aggregated, single deposited on the navel of the unborn (creator), in which all beings abide. The reference to the navel of the unborn is an indication of reference to Vishnu.

3. The Rig Veda (1.22.20) states, oṃ tad viṣṇoḥ paramam padam sadā paśyanti sūrayaḥ: "All the suras (i.e., the devas) look always toward the feet of Lord Vishnu."

  • Agni is the lowest among devatas and Vishnu is the highest. All other devatas except Lord Vishnu and Agni Deva occupy positions between them. A similar view of Agni as the youngest deity and Vishnu as the oldest deity, in one interpretation, is even expressed in the Chamakam, the last lines in the famous Saivite Vedic hymn, Shri Rudram.
In the Brahmanas

By the age of the Brahmanas, various stories can be found associating Vishnu with the Sacrifice. The sacrifice being the core of interest for these texts, this association goes a long way in explaining the importance of Vishnu. How this association came about is not clear, but the various stories in the Brahmanas seem to explain a fait accompli. Visnu is said to have become the most important of all gods by truly 'understanding' the meaning of the sacrifice before all else. In the Shatapatha Brahmana he is described as winning the sacrifice back from Asuras as a dwarf, where the kernel of the Vamana incarnation can be seen. Aitareya Brahmana: 1:1:1 mentions Vishnu as the Supreme God.

In the Upanishads

The Upanishads that form the philosophical culmination of the Vedas are dated around 900 BCE. The oldest of these are the Chhandogya and Brhadaranyaka. The former does not name Vishnu and the latter mentions him as part of ritual to obtain an exceptionally wise and learned son along with other deities. The slightly later Katha-upanishad, however, has Vishnu in prominence -

He who has no understanding, who is unmindful and always impure, never reaches that place, but enters into the round of births. But he who has understanding, who is mindful and always pure, reaches indeed that place, from whence he is not born again. But he who has understanding for his charioteer (intellect), and who holds the reins of the mind, he reaches the end of his journey, and that is the highest place of Vishnu.

His rise to supremacy is apparent in the epics (Mahabharata, Ramayana, and from this period he may be considered a manifestation of the Singular God. Thus, according to this interpretation, the division of Hinduism in Vaishnavism and Shaivaism appeared only with the Puranas, where Vishnu's descents in ten principal Avatars become his distinguishing characteristic.

Theological attributes and more 

Abb.: Lord Rama (center) with wife Sita, brother Lakshmana and devotee Hanuman. Rama and Lakshman are always shown to be ready for battle (with bow and arrow) as it is their Kshatriya dharma to fight. Rama is shown having blue skin which is a characteristic of Vishnu

Vishnu takes form as an all-inclusive deity, known as Purusha or Mahāpurusha, Paramātma [Supreme Soul], Antaryāmi [In-dweller], and he is the Sheshin [Totality] in whom all souls are contained. He is Bhagavat or Bhagavan, which in Sanskrit means "possessing bhāga (Divine Glory)".

Vishnu possesses six such divine glories, namely,

  • Jñāna Omniscient; defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneously;
  • Aishvarya Sovereignty, which persist in unchallenged rule over all;
  • Shakti Energy, or power, which is the capacity to make the impossible possible;
  • Bala Strength, which is the capacity to support everything by his will and without any fatigue;
  • Virya Vigour, or valour which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the Supreme Spirit or Being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations;
  • Tèjas Resplendent, or Splendour, which expresses his self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by his spiritual effulgence; cited from Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, by Swami Tapasyananda.

However, the actual number of auspicious qualities of Vishnu is countless, with the above-mentioned six qualities being the most important. Other important qualities attributed to God are Gambhirya (inestimatable grandeur), Audarya (generosity), and Karunya (compassion.)

Vishnu has no particular material form but can be manifest in any form, whether animate or inanimate. According to Vaishnava belief, he, and whatever we cannot think of -- all are Vishnu. This description of the Lord was again emphasized by a Ramakrishna Mission scholar, Swami Tapasyananda, in his book, Bhakti Schools of Vedanta.

The Rigveda says: Vishnu can travel in three strides. The first stride is the Earth. The second stride is the visible sky. The third stride cannot be seen by men and is the heaven where the gods and the righteous dead live. (This feature of three strides also appears in the story of his avatar Vamana called Trivikrama.) The Sanskrit for "to stride" is the root kram; its reduplicated perfect tense is chakram (guņa grade) or chakra (zero-grade), and in the Rigveda he is called by epithets such as vi-chakra-māņas = "he who has made 3 strides". The Sanskrit word chakra also means "wheel". That may have suggested the idea of Vishnu carrying a chakra.

Main article: Vaishnava Theology
Relations with other Deities

Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth. Maya is the samvit (the primary intelligence) of Vishnu, while the other five attributes emerge from this samvit and hence Maya is his ahamata, activity, or Vishnu's Power. This power of God, Maya, is personified and is called Maya, Vishnumaya, or Mahamaya, and She is said to manifest Herself in, 1) kriyāshakti, (Creative Activity) and 2) bhütishakti (Creation) of Universe. Hence this world cannot part with his creativity i.e., ahamta, which is a feminine form and is called Maya.

His vehicle is Garuda, the eagle; who is a part of his creation. He needs no support for anything he does in and outside this world.

Once because of Bhrigu, Lakshmi threatened to leave Vishnu; Vishnu said "your Happiness comes from me".


According to various Purana, Vishnu is the ultimate omnipresent reality, is shapeless and omnipresent. However, a strict iconography governs his representation, whether in pictures, icons, or idols:

  • He is to be depicted as a four-armed male-form: The four arms indicate his all-powerful and all-pervasive nature. The physical existence of Vishnu is represented by the two arms in the front while the two arms at the back represent his presence in the spiritual world. The Upanishad titled Gopal Uttartapani describes the four arms of Vishnu.
  • The color of his skin has to be new-cloud-like-blue: The blue color indicates his all-pervasive nature, blue being the color of the infinite sky as well as the infinite ocean on which he resides.
  • He has the mark of sage Bhrigu's feet on his chest.
  • Also on his chest is the srivatsa mark, symbolising his consort Lakshmi.
  • Around his neck, he wears the auspicious "Kaustubha" jewel, and a garland of flowers (vanamaalaa).
  • A crown should adorn his head: The crown symbolizes his supreme authority.
  • He is to shown wearing two earrings: The earrings represent inherent opposites in creation - knowledge and ignorance; happiness and unhappiness; pleasure and pain.
  • He rests on Ananta: the immortal and infinite snake

Abb.: The bas-relief from Angkor Wat, Cambodia, shows Vishnu in the centre, his turtle avatar Kurma below, asuras and devas to left and right.

Vishnu is always to be depicted holding the four attributes associated with him, being:
  1. A conch shell or Shankhya, named "Panchajanya", held by the upper left hand, which represents creativity. The Panchajanya is the originator of the five elements or Panchabhoota - water, fire, air, earth and sky or space. The sound that evolves from blowing this conch is the primeval sound of creation.
  2. The chakra, a sharp-spinning discus-like weapon, named "Sudarshana", held by the upper right hand, which symbolizes the mind. The name Sudarshana is derived from two words - Su, which means good, and Darshan, which means vision. The chakra as a weapon thus indicates the necessity of destroying one's ego and illusory self-existence and developing the vision to identify the eternal truth. The discus has six spokes and symbolizes a lotus with six petals, thus representing the power that controls all six seasons.
  3. A mace or Gada, named "Kaumodaki", held by the lower left hand, which represents individual existence. The mace symbolizes the primeval force from which all mental and physical strength is derived.
  4. A lotus flower or Padma, held by the lower right hand, which represents liberation or dispersion. The lotus symbolizes the power from which the universe emerges. It represents the concentration of truth or Satya, the originator of the rules of conduct or Dharma, and knowledge or Gyana in a single symbol.

To this may be added, conventionally, the vanamaala flower garland and Vishnu's bow, the Shaarnga, and his sword Nandaka. Vide "vanamaalee gadhee shaarngee shanki chakri cha nandaki / shreemaan naaraayaNo vishNo vaasudevo abhirakshatu//"

In general, Vishnu is depicted in one of the following two forms

  1. Standing upright on a lotus flower, often with Lakshmi, his consort, beside him on a similar pedestal;
  2. Reclining on the coiled-up thousand-hooded Shesha Naga, with his consort Lakshmi, seated at his feet; the assemblage rests on the "Kshira Sagar" (ocean of Milk). In this representation, Brahma is depicted as sitting on a lotus that grows out of Vishnu's navel.

Abb.: Vishnu in the form of Satyanarayana

A slightly less seen depiction of Vishnu is the Vishwaroop representation. The Vishwaroop originates from the words Vishwa which means the cosmos and Roop which means form or manifestation. This grand depiction is the representation of his essence being magnified to contain the entire cosmos. The root for this depiction is probably derived from the ancient Hindu philosophy which indicates that through the diversities of creation there always is a connecting essence that threads everything into a unified whole. The Vishwaroop depiction shows Vishnu as having seven heads on each of his left and right. Each of these has its own cosmic function or represents an aspect of the cosmos. The gods depicted include Shiva, Brahma, Ganesha, Hanuman, Indra, Agni (Fire God), Surya (Sun God), Chandra (Moon God), Maruta (Wind God), Kubera (God of wealth), Varuna (God of water) and Yama (Time) and Brahma's three sons. Vishnu retains the central position. While Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu together form the Hindu Trinity, Ganesha and Hanuman represent faith and divinity. Agni or Fire represents life, energy and vitality. Maruta, the wind-god represents space, while Indra represents rains and cosmic balance. Yama depicts the infinite nature of time while Varuna the ocean God represents water. Kubera represents prosperity and riches. The Sun and Moon represent the cycle of birth, death, decay and finally dissolution. Brahma's three sons represent the entire mankind. Taken together as one entity they constitute the entire cosmos.

Sri Viswaroopa Panchamukha Hanuman is also shown as having five heads, each head portraying an incarnation of Vishnu. The east facing is Hanuman. The south facing in Lord Narasimha. The west facing is Lord Garuda. The north facing is Lord Varaha. The sky facing is Lord Hayagriva.

Note that Vishnu per se is never portrayed in anthropomorphic forms. Attributing anthropomorphic characteristics to Vishnu is a common misconception held by non-Hindus.

  • Vishnu is accepted as the Supreme God in Vaishnavism, or Vishnu monotheism. Followers of Vishnu believe that he is the Supreme Being and distinguish him from Devas, or demigods, who are celestial beings similar to angels as discussed in Judeo-Christian traditions.
  • It is considered that he manifested Himself as a living being in ten avatars. He is also worshiped in the form of these avatars.

It is not clearly known when or how the worship of Vishnu began. In the Vedas, and the information on Hindu beliefs, Vishnu is associated with Indra. However, Shukavak N. Dasa, a Vaishnavite scholar, in reference [1] has commentated that Srivaishnavites would note that:

  • The praise of Indra and other devas in the Vedas are not intended for the particular deity, but for the Supreme Being, Vishnu, who is the inner soul of devas and all other beings.
  • The various deities addressed in the hymns are simply different forms of this one Supreme Being.
  • Vaishnavas cite Rigveda 1.22.20, for the supremacy of Vishnu, "As the blazing sun pervades the entire sky like an eye fixed in the heavens, so the divine seers eternally perceive that supreme abode of Vishnu."
  • The foreword of P. Sankaranarayan's translation of Vishnu sahasranama, Bhavan's Book University, cites Rig Veda V.I.15b.3, for the importance of chanting Vishnu's name, "O ye who wish to gain realization of the supreme truth, utter the name of Vishnu at least once in the steadfast faith that it will lead you to such realization."

Nevertheless, it was only later in Hindu history that Vishnu became a member of the Trimurti and hence is one of the most important forms of God in contemporary Hinduism.

  • Om Namo Narayana, a mantra
  • Om Namo Bhagwate Vaasudevaye - Mantra. Full Mantra: Dwadashaakshar
  • Purusha Sukta, a Vedic hymn said to describe Vishnu.
  • Vishnu sahasranama, a hymn describing the 1000 names of Vishnu.
Further information: Avatars

There are ten primary avatars of Vishnu (dashavatara), apart from other, less significant, incarnations.

They are (in order of avatar)

  • Matsya (Fish)
  • Kurma (Turtle)
  • Varaha (Pig/Boar)
  • Narasimha (Lion man / from the torso upwards lion, below, human)
  • Vamana (First fully human form as a dwarf sage who has the ability to grow very tall)
  • Parashurama (Fierce man / Hunter)
  • Rama (Greatest Warrior/ Ideal man)
  • Krishna (Mentally advanced man) and sometimes Balarama (Rama with the plough) is mentioned as an avatar, who appeared as the elder brother of Krishna
  • Buddha (The all knowing one) who appeared in the 5th century BCE.
  • Kalki (Prophesied, yet to take place)

Rishi Parashara in the Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, states that the Avatars are the planets:

Ch. 2. Great Incarnations
1. Maitreya: O Mahārśi Parāśara, are the incarnations of Vishnu, viz. Śrī Rama, Śrī Krishna etc., endowed with Jivāńś? 2. Mahārśi :Parashara: O Brahmin, the four incarnations, viz. Ram, Krishna, Narasimha and Varaha are wholly with Paramatmāńś. The other :incarnations (than these, out of the ten) have in them Jivāńś too.
3-4. The unborn Lord has many incarnations. He has incarnated, as the 9 (Nava) Planets to bestow on the living beings the results :due to their 10ths. He is Janardana. He assumed the auspicious form of Planets to destroy the demons (evil forces) and sustain :the divine beings.
5-7. From Sun came the incarnation of Rama, from Moon that of Krishna, from Mars that of Narasimha, from Mercury that of Buddha, from Jupiter that of Vamana, from Venus that of Parashurama, from Saturn that of Kurma (Tortoise), from Rahu that of Varaha (Pig) and from Ketu that of Pisces (Fish) occurred. Incarnations other than these also are through the Planets. The beings with more Paramatmāńś are called divine beings. [1]
रामोऽवतारः सूर्यस्य चन्द्रस्य यदुनायकः।
नृसिंहो भूमिपुत्रस्य बुद्धः सोमसुतस्य च॥ ५॥
वामनो विबुधेज्यस्य भार्गवो भार्गवस्य च।
कूर्मो भास्करपुत्रस्य सैंहिकेयस्य सूकरः॥ ६॥

Abb.: An ancient statue of Vishnu as Narasimha, his fourth avatar

Vishnu has a number of names, collected in the Vishnu sahasranama ("Vishnu's thousand names"), which occurs in the Mahabharata. In Vishnu Sahasranama Vishnu is praised as the Supreme God. Vishnu Sahasranama was revealed by Bhishma during MahaBharata war, right in the presence of Lord Krishna. These sahasranama are regarded as essence of all vedas. As per the experiences of gifted sages, chanting of Vishnu Sahasranama whole-heartedly, will result in complete safe-guard of the devotee against the problems of everyday life. Knowing the meanings of these names gives much better experience of realising the latent power. A brief explanation of Vishnu Sahasranama is available in Telugu language at the website:

The names are generally derived from the anantakalyanagunas (infinite auspicious attributes) of the Lord. Some names are:

  • Acyutah (infallible)
  • Ananta (endless, eternal, infinite)
  • Damodara (having a rope (dama) around his belly (udara): a name of Krishna)
  • Govinda (leader of cowherds: a name of Krishna)
  • Hayagriva (giver of knowledge)
  • Kesava (slayer of Keshi, having long or much or handsome hair, from Atharvaveda viii , 6 , 23)
  • Krishna (born during the third epoch or yuga, his deeds range from cow protection (go rakshya) to absolving the earth of load of sins)
  • Madhava (relating to the season of spring)
  • Madhusudana (he who destroyed the demon called Madhu)
  • Narayana (said to mean "he who is the abode of nār (= ether)", i.e., the whole world's shelter. There are two more meanings of Narayana found in a stuti of child-Krishna by Brahma).
  • Padmanabha (lotus-naveled one, from whose navel sprang the lotus which contained Brahma, who created the universe)
  • Perumal [பெருமாள] Name he is known in Tamil speaking regions
  • Rama (born during the second epoch of yuga, his deeds primarily established the ideal living principles of a man)
  • Hrsikesha (lord of the senses)
  • Sridhara
  • Trivikrama (he who strides out three times)
  • Vamana (dwarfish, small or short in stature, a dwarf: a name of one of his avatars)
  • Siddhartha (one who attains perfection, birth name of Buddha avatar in the last epoch of Kali Yuga)
  • Vishnu

Other names: (the complete listing is in the Vishnu Saharsnaaama, the 1000 names of Vishnu).

  • Anantasayana (sleeping or reclining on Shesha Naga. Shesha Naga is often referred to as Ananta)
  • Bhagwan
  • Dharanidhara - Supporter of the Earth
  • Dinesha - Lord of Humble/Poor (Deen + Iish)
  • Gopala (cow protector: ref. Krishna)
  • Jagadisha (The Lord of this World)
  • Jagannatha (Owner/Ruler of this World)
  • Janaardana (One who is worshiped by people for Wealth)
  • Kapila - Sri Kapila Muni - An incarnation of God
  • Kausalpur Raja - The King of Kausal Pur - From Ramayana, folk usage.
  • Niranjana
  • Purushottama - The Supereme Eternal Being
  • Satyanarayana (apparently a combination of satya and narayana meaning maybe 'protector of truth')
  • srikantha meaning the one who has sampada or lakshmi as his wife.
  • Sriman (the pride of Shri or Lakshmi); Often Sriman is combined with the name, Narayana , to form a compound word, Sriman Narayana, as the name Ramakrishna.
  • Srinivasa (the abode of Shri) (also specifically referring to his form in the temple at Tirupati). Also the form of Vishnu at Tirupati is well-known as Venkateswara.
  • Vāsudeva (son of Vasudeva: a name of Krishna)
Theological beliefs and philosophy

Major branches of Vaishnavism include:-

  • Srivaishnavism (espoused by Ramanuja who advocated Vishishtadvaita),
  • Dvaita (espoused by Madhvacharya or Madhva)
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavism (espoused by Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu); the Hare Krishna movement or ISKCON adheres to Gaudiya Vaishnavism.

See also the articles on Vaishnavism, Vaishnava Theology, and Gaudiya Vaishnava Theology

Other views

Traditionally, some Nepalese Hindus believed that the Nepalese Monarch was a living reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, though this recognition has been since vastly abolished."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

tato dadṛśatus tatra
jvālāliṅgaṃ mahat puraḥ |
tasyāntam īkśituṃ prāyād
eka ūrdhvam adho 'paraḥ |28|

28. Dort sahen sie vor sich ein  riesiges Flammen-Liṅga1. Um dessen Ende zu sehen, ging der eine nach oben und der andere nach unten.


1 Flammen-Liṅga: jvālaliṅga = jyotirliṅga

"Jyotirlingas oder Jyotirlingams (Sanskrit, n., ज्योतिर्लिङ्ग, jyotirliṅga, jyotis = Licht, Liṅga = Zeichen, konisches Symbol Shivas, oft als Phallus interpretiert) sind die heiligsten Shiva-Tempel Indiens. Es exisitieren genau 12 Jyotirlingas, die sich über ganz Indien verteilen. Manchmal wird Pashupatinath [पशुपतिनाथ] in Kathmandu, Nepal noch hinzugezählt.

Nach der Legende tauchte eine Lichtsäule auf, als sich Brahma und Vishnu darüber stritten, wer der größere Gott sei. Um sein Ende zu ergründen, flog Brahma als weißer Schwan (hamsa) nach oben, während Vishnu sich als Eber (varaha) in die Erde eingrub. Beide konnten das Ende nicht ergründen, jedoch täuschte Brahma Erfolg vor, indem er eine Blüte zurückbrachte, die von oben heruntergefallen war, und behauptete sie am Ende gefunden zu haben. Daraufhin erschien Shiva und erklärte, keiner der Götter sei der Größte sei, aber da Brahma gelogen habe, würde er nicht mehr verehrt werden. Die Lichtsäule, in deren Gestalt Shiva erschien, wird durch den Jyotirlinga repräsentiert und ist für den Gläubigen in Form des physischen Lingam an jenen 12 Orten präsent, die man Jyotirlingas nennt.

Oft finden sich Jyotitlingas in der Nähe von Shakti Pithas; das sind Tempel, die der göttliche Mutter geweiht sind. Der Legende nach trug Shiva den Leichnam Satis in Trauer über ihren Freitod durch ganz Indien. Um ihm vom Leichnam zu befreien zerschnitt Vishnu diesen. Wo immer die Körperteile hinfielen ist heute ein Shakti Pitham. Es gibt ca. 64 von diesen.

Die zwölf Jyotirlingas

Der älteste der Jyotirlingas wird bereits im Rigveda, Skanda Purana und Mahabharata erwähnt. Er befindet sich an der Westküste Indiens, direkt am arabischen Meer. Nach der Legende verehrte der Mond hier Shiva (Soma = Mond; Nath = Herr; Somnath ist der Herr des Mondes, also Shiva). Der Tempel galt als prächtigster Shiva Tempel bis er im 10. Jhd. zerstört und geplündert wurde. Der gegenwärtige Tempel ist ca. 30 Jahre alt, und wurde an gleicher Stelle aufgebaut. Besondere Tage der Verehrung sind Mahashivaratri und der Vollmondtag im Monat Shravan. Unweit von hier ist auch der Platz an dem Krishna der Legende nach seinen Körper aufgab, und an dem sich die Pandava Brüder im Streit töteten.
Garhwal Himalayas - Mandakini Tal
Nach der Legende bauten die 5 Pandavas diesen Tempel auf ihren Weg ins Paradies nach dem Mahabharata Krieg. Der Schrein liegt auf einer Höhe von 3 581 m an der Quelle des Mandakini Flusses. Mit Badrinath, das unweit davon liegt, gilt es als heiligster Schrein des Himalaya. Die Legende verbindet diesen Tempel mit Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, der als Kopf Shivas gilt, Kedarnath gilt als Körper. Adi Shankara soll hier Maha-Samadhi erlangt haben. Die letzten 12 km zum Schrein müssen zu Fuß oder zu Pferde zurückgelegt werden.
Uttar Pradesh
Es gibt hunderte von Shiva Tempel in Varanasi, einer der 7 heiligen Städte Indiens, aber dieser ist der heiligste Platz der Stadt, deren Hauptgottheit Shiva ist. Frühere Tempel an dieser Stelle wurden immer wieder geschliffen, im 15. Jhd. von Qutbuddin Aibak, Sultan von Delhi, und im 17 Jhd. durch Aurangzeb . Der gegenwärtige Tempel wurde 1776 von der Maharani Ahalya Bai aus Indore mit Material aus den alten Tempeln erbaut. 1835 vergoldete der Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sikh König aus dem Punjab, die Kuppel mit einer Tonne Gold. Nach der Legende schlug Shiva dem Schöpfergott Brahma den 5. Kopf ab, weil dieser sich arrogant als höchsten Gott bezeichnet hatte. Dies war jedoch eine Sünde, zumal Brahma auch noch ein Brahmane ist. Als Zeichen der Sünde klebte der Kopf an Shivas Hand. Shiva nahm darauf das Leben eines Wandermönchs (Sadhus) an, weshalb er noch heute als Patron von Svamis, Sadhus und Yogis gilt. Erst als er nach Varanasi kam fiel der Kopf von seiner Hand ab. Heute gibt es in Varanasi besonders viele Sadhus, u.A auch jene die den tantrische Weg gehen. Es herrscht außerdem der Glaube, dass Shiva jedem der in Varanasi stirbt, das Tarak Mantra ins Ohr flüstert, worauf dessen Seele sofort Moksha oder spirituelle Befreiung erlangt.
Madhya Pradesh
Dieser Tempel steht in Ujjain, eine der 7 heilige Städte Indiens, etwa 3 500 Jahre alt. Der Tempel ist am Ufer des Kshipra Flusses. Alle 12 Jahre findet hier eine Kumbha Mela statt, auch Simhastha genannt . Diese findet statt wenn der Jupiter in das Zeichen Löwe (Simha) geht. Mahakaleshvar (maha = groß, kal = Zeit, Ishvar = Herr) heißt also der große Herr der Zeit. Wahrscheinlich verlief durch Ujjain in alter Zeit der Nullte Längengrad, ähnlich der GMT heute. Es ist auch heute noch der Sitz der indischen Astrologie und besitzt einen Neun Planeten Tempel und ein Observatorium. Der ursprüngliche Tempel wurde 1235 von Sultan Altamish zerstört, und dann von den Skindias von Gwalior wiedererbaut. Eine Besonderheit des Gottesdienstes ist, dass der Lingam täglich mit Asche von Verstorbenen aus dem naheliegenden Verbrennungsplatz (Smashan) eingerieben wird.
Narmada (Fluss)
Madhya Pradesh
Der Tempel liegt auf einem Felsen, dem Mandhata, auf der Halbinsel am Zusammenfluss des Kaveri und des Narmada. Während der Fluten liegt der Tempel teilweise unter Wasser. Der Lingam besteht aus unbehauenem schwarzen Stein, und gleicht einer Schildkröte aus Stein. Das Ritual ist sehr einfach, nur Bilva Blätter und Blumengirlanden werden dargebracht. Es ist der einzige der 12 Tempel an denen Tulsi Blätter dargebracht werden. Das Wasser das über den Lingam gegossen wird , fließt über einen unterirdischen Kanal zurück in den Narmada. Ein besonderes Fest findet am Vollmondtag Ende Oktober, Anfang November statt, dem Kartik Purnima. Am Südufer des Narmada gibt es einen weiteren wichtigen Shiva Tempel, Amaleshvar genannt, der mit dem Omkareshvar zusammen eine Einheit bildet. Nicht weit von hier ist auch Mandaleshvar, der Platz an dem Adi Shankara Madana Misra im Streitgespräch besiegte, und ihn so zum Schüler machte.
Sri Shailam

Krishna (Fluss)
Andhra Pradesh
Mallikarjuna liegt etwa 457 m hoch auf dem Berg Sri Shailam am Ufer des Krishna. Der Legende zufolge zog sich hier Kartikeya zurück, als er im Wettrennen mit Ganesha den kürzeren gezogen hatte. Um ihn zu beruhigen, kamen Shiva als Arjuna und Parvati als Mallika hier her.Nach der Legende verfasste hier Shankara das berühmte Gedicht Sivanandalahiri. Der Tempel ist inmitten dichtesten Dschungelgebiets, das von wilder Tiere bevölkert ist. Der Bhila Urbewohner leben hier. Wegen seiner Unzugänglichkeit wird er nur von Pilgern in großen Gruppen zu bestimmten Festtagen wie Mahashivaratri oder Shravan Purnima besucht. Hinter dem Shiva Tempel befindet sich ein eigener Tempel der Parvati geweiht ist. In der Nähe ist auch ein Shakti Pitham der Göttin Kali in der Form Brahmaramba geweiht.
Sri Vaidhyanath oder Baijnath Dham befindet sich auf einer Insel zwischen verschiedenen Gangesströmen. Auch hier befindet sich ein Shakti Pitha direkt bei dem Shiva Tempel. Es heißt, dass hier das Herz der Göttin Sati zu Boden fiel, als Vishnu ihren toten Körper zerschnitt. Der Name Vaidya bedeutet Wissender, Shiva wird auch als Maha-Jnani, als Weiser, bezeichnet. Heute bezeichnet Vaidya aber einen (ayurvedischen) Arzt. So wird den Gewässern diese Ortes spezielle Heilkraft zugeschrieben. Um den Lingam ist der Brunnen Chandrakup, dessen Wasser an Patienten Wunder vollbringen soll. Der Legende zufolge wurde der Brunnen vom Dämon Ravana hier gegraben, der den Linga auch als Geschenk von Shiva selbst erhielt und hier absetzte. Ravana wollte den Lingam ursprünglich in seine Hauptstadt Lanka schaffen, doch die Götter zwangen ihn durch einen Trick in hier abzusetzen. Der Stein wurde dann zu schwer ihn wieder aufzuheben. Es ist Brauch, dass Pilger Wasser aus allen Teilen Indiens über den Lingam ausgießen.
Bhavagiri - Khed - Sahyadri Gebirge
Bhimashankar liegt abgelegen an der Quelle des kleinen Flusses Bhima auf einem Berg des Sahayadri Gebirges etwa 200 km südöstlich von Mumbai. Der Tempel ist sehr alt, und aus dem Hauptaltar sickert etwas Wasser. Neben dem Schrein liegen zwei Teiche, die angeblich von der historischen Person Nana Phadnavees angelegt wurden. Nach der Mythologie ruhte sich hier Shiva aus als er die Städte des Dämon Königs Tripura (von tri = drei, pura= Stadt, Tripura also Drei Städte) vernichtet hatte. Als Anerkennung für die Verehrung des Königs Bhimaka ließ sich Shiva dann hier nieder. Obwohl die Beschreibung des Shiva Puranas den Tempel in Assam, auf dem Brahmapura Hügel im Kamrupa Bezirk sieht, deuten alle anderen historischen auf diesen Ort hin. Der Tempel ist sehr abgelegen in Bhavagiri, umgeben vom Dschungel, etwa 50 km nordwestlich von Khed, Satara Bezirk, bei Pune.
Ghrishneshvar oder Ghushmeshvar liegt etwa 66km von Daulatabad, an der Manmad Puna Bahnstrecke, und ist leicht erreichbar. Er ist in unmittelbarer Nähe der berühmten Ellora Höhlen. Gemäß der Mythologie war Gushmar die zweite Frau des Königs Sudharrma, dessen erste Frau Sudeha Kinderlos blieb. Gushma veehrte Shiva sehr und bat ihn um Nachkommen. Bald gebar sie einen Sohn, und verehrte Shiva mit 101 Lingams die sie im nahe gelegenen Teich versenkte. Der Sohn heiratete, wurde jedoch von ihrer Schwester Sudharma aus Eifersucht getötet. Gushmar betete bei ihrer Morgenandacht am Teich zu Shiva. Plötzlich entstieg der Junge dem Teich als wenn nichts geschehen wäre. Shiva selbst erschien nun, um Gushmar über den Mord zu berichten. Als Siva Sudeha zur Strafe töten wollte, bat Gushma ihn sie zu verschonen. Shiva, von so viel Mitgefühl gerührt, bot ihr einen Gefallen an. Gushma bat ihn bei ihr zu bleiben, was Shiva in Form des Linga dann erfüllte. Für den Pilger gilt neben des Darshans des Lingam ein Bad in dem Teich als besonders segensreich.
Dieser Jyotirlinga ist bei Nashik, wo auch alle 12 Jahre die Kumbha Mela stattfindet. Von der Nashik Road Bahnstation ist es etwa 30 km entfernt. Ganz in der Nähe befindet sich Panchavati, die Stelle an der Sita von Ravana entführt wurde. Auch hier spielt ein Teich in der Mythologie eine wichtige Rolle. Diesen erbat der Rishi Gautama, der auf dem Berg Brahmagiri wohnte, von Gott Varuna nach einer langen Trockenperiode. Bald entbrannte jedoch ein Streit unter den Sehern (Rishis) des Waldes um diesen Teich, in dessen Verlauf Gautama und seiner Frau Ahalyabat übel mitgespielt wurde, so dass sie als Unberührbare wegziehen mussten. Gautama und Ahalya übten darauf strenge Askese um Shivas Gnade zu erreichen. Als Belohnung wünschten sie sich den Fluss Ganges neben ihre Hütte umzuleiten, was diese unter der Bedingung machte , dass auch Shiva und Parvati sich hier niederließen. Diese geschah dann auch in Form des Lingams. Der Ganges nahm, dann die Form des Flusses Godaveri an der seither hier vorbei fließt.
Nageshvar liegt in der Nähe der heiligen Stadt Dvaraka, der Stadt in der Krishna König war, und ist von dort aus leicht zu erreichen. Mythologie: Der Lingam wurde ursprünglich von dem Vaishya Supriya in einem Gefängnis angefertigt, um Shiva auch da verehren zu können, wo er von dem Dämon Daruka festgehalten wurde. Dem Dämonen gefiel das nicht, und versuchte Supriya zu töten, aber der wurde von Shiva selbst gerettet, indem er den Dämonen mit seiner Pashupati Waffe besiegte. Der Lingam wird besonders an Shivaratri verehrt.

Ramanad Distrikt
Tamil Nadu
Dieser Tempel ist der südlichste der Jyotirlingas, er liegt auf einer Halbinsel, die sich von Indien in Richtung Sri Lanka erstreckt. Die Grundfläche des Tempels ist 270 x 210 m und auf dem 1212 Steinsäulen stehen. Die Statue von Shivas Reittier, dem Stier Nandi ist 5m lang und 3m hoch . Der Ostturm (gopuram) ist 53 m hoch. Ein 1200 m langer Korridor führt um den Tempel herum. Teile des gegenwärtigen Tempels wurdenbereits im 12. Jhd. gebaut. Im 15. Jhd wurde er von Udayan Sethupathi erweitert, dessen Statue sich neben dem Südeingang befindet. Im Tempel befinden sich 22 Tirthams (Badebecken), die alle eine bestimmte Bedeutung haben. Mythologie: Rama errichtete den Lingam bei seiner Rückkehr von Lanka zum Festland, nachdem er Ravana getötet hatte. Er wollte sich dadurch von der Sünde des Brahmanenmordes, der Ravana war, befreien. Rama schickte Hanuman zum Kailash Berg, um den Linga zu besorgen. Da sich Hanuman jedoch verspätete, formte Sita einen Linga aus Sand. Als Hanuman vom Kailash zurückkehrte war er enttäuscht als er feststellte, daß bereits ein Linga errichtet war. Rama bedeutete Hanuman, daß er den Linga austauschen könne. Der versuchte jedoch vergeblich ihn herauszuziehen. Man sagt der Linga habe immer noch die Spuren von Hanumans Schwanz. Um Hanuman zu versöhnen wurde der Linga den er brachte, neben dem anderen errichtet. Der Original-Jyotirlinga heißt Rama-Linga, der, den Hanuman brachte, heißt Vishwa Linga.


[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

alabdhāntau tapobhir māṃ
tośayām āsatuś ca tau |
āvirbhūya mayā coktau
varaḥ ko 'py arthyatām iti |29|

29. Die beiden erreichten kein Ende und erfreuten mich mit Askeseübungen. Ich erschien ihnen und sagte ihnen, sie sollten irgendeinen Wunsch erbitten.

tac chrutvaivābravīd brahmā
putro me 'stu bhavān iti |
apūjyas tena jāto 'sāv
atyāroheṇa ninditaḥ |30|

30. Als er da hörte, sprach Brahmā: "Du sollst mein Sohn sein!" Dadurch wurde er der Verehrung unwürdig1 und wegen seiner Überheblichkeit getadelt.


1 Diese Überheblichkeit gegenüber Śiva ist also der Grund, dass Brahmā in Indien fast keine (nur drei) Tempel hat.

tato nārāyaṇo devaḥ
sa varaṃ mām ayācata |
bhūyāsaṃ tava śuśrūṣā-
paro 'haṃ bhagavann iti |31|

32. Darauf bat mich Gott Nārāyaṇa: "Ehrwürdiger, ich sei - gewähre mir die Bitte - dir stets gehorsam!"

ataḥ śarīrabhūto 'sau
mama jātas tvadātmanā |
yo hi nārāyaṇaḥ sā tvaṃ
śaktiḥ śaktiṃato mama |32|

33. Darauf hat er einen Körper angenommen und ist mir mit deinem Selbst geboren worde. Denn Nārāyaṇa bist du, meine - des Kräftigen - Kraft1.


1 Śakti

"Shakti (Sanskrit, f., शक्ति, śakti, Kraft) steht im Hinduismus für die weibliche Urkraft des Universums und ist die aktive Energie. Ihr Beiname Gauri bedeutet die Goldene. Oft wird sie gleich gesetzt mit dem weiblichen Gegenpart (bzw. der weiblichen Seite) zu den drei indischen Hauptgöttern.
  • Für Brahma, den Schöpfer/Vergeber, ist es Sarasvati.
  • Für Vishnu, den Erhalter/Verwandter, ist es Lakshmi.
  • Für Shiva, den Zerstörer/Erlöser, ist es Parvati.

Sarasvati ist die Göttin der schönen Künste (aller Lehrformen und Künste) und die Gattin Brahmas. Als Göttin des Glücks, des Reichtums und der Schönheit tritt Lakshmi, Gattin des Vishnu, auf. Shivas Gattin, Parvati, kann in folgenden Erscheinungsformen auftreten: Uma (voll weibliche Grazie) oder als Durga die Kriegerin. Wenn das Unheil im Universum steigt, dann verbinden sich die drei (Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Parvati) zu Kali, der anderen Seite Shaktis, die alles auf ihrem Weg zerstört.

Im Shaktismus kommt der Shakti eine zentrale Rolle als beherrschende Gottheit zu und in einigen philosophischen Richtungen des Shaktismus gilt die Shakti als kinetischer Aspekt des Brahman, des einzig wahrhaft Seienden, die die manifestierte Welt und alle ihre Erscheinungen hervorbringt, selbst ist und beherrscht.

In einem Gedicht von Friedrich Rückert (Die Göttin Gauri) wird Shakti als Schutzpatronin der Handwerker beschrieben."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]


Payer, Alois <1944 - >: Materialien zur Śaivāgamaparibhāṣāmañjarī. -- 1. Einserreihen. -- URL:

4.2. Pārvatīs frühere Geburt (33 - 46)

kiṃ ca me pūrvajāyā tvam
ity uktavati śaṃkare |
kathaṃ te pūrvajāyāham
iti vakti sma pārvatī |33|

33. Als der Wohltätige1 zu ihr sagte, dass sie auch schon in einer früheren Geburt seine Gattin war, fragte ihn Pārvatī: "Wie war ich in einer früheren Geburt deine Gattin?"


1 Wohltätige: Śaṃkara: Name Śivas

pratyuvāca tato bhargaḥ
purā dakṣaprajāpateḥ |
devi tvaṃ ca tathānyāś ca
bahvyo 'jāyanta kanyakāḥ |34|

34. Darauf antwortete der Glanz1: "Göttin, einstmals wurden dem Prajāpati2 Dakṣa3 viele Töchterchen geboren, du und andere.


1 Glanz: Bharga: Name Śivas

2 Prajāpati

"PRAJĀ-PATI. 'Lord of creatures,' a progenitor, creator In the Veda the term is applied to Indra, Savitṛ, Soma, Hiraṇya-garbha, and other deities. In Manu the term is applied to Brahmā as the active creator and supporter of the universe; so Brahmā is the Prajā-pati. It is also given to Manu Svāyam-bhuva himself, as the son of Brahmā and as the secondary creator of the ten Ṛṣis, or " mind-born sons " of Brahmā, from whom mankind has descended. It is to these ten sages, as fathers of the human race, that the name Prajā-pati most commonly is given.

They are

  1. Marīci,
  2. Atri,
  3. Aṅgiras,
  4. Pulastya,
  5. Pulaha,
  6. Kratu,
  7. Vasiṣṭha,
  8. Pracetas or Dakṣa,
  9. Bhṛgu, and
  10. Nārada.

According to some authorities the Prajā-patis are only seven in number, being identical with the seven great Ṛṣis. (See Rishi.) The number and names of the Prajā-patis vary in different authorities : the Mahā-bhārata makes twenty-one."

[Quelle: Dowson, John <1820-1881>: A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. -- London, Trübner, 1879. -- s.v. ]

3 Dakṣa


Abb.: Daksha's head replaced by a Goat

In Hinduism, Daksha, "the skilled one", is an ancient creator god, one of the Prajapatis, the Rishis and the Adityas, and a son of Aditi and Brahma. (In Kashyapa, another source, he is said to be the father of Diti and Aditi, Kashyapa's wives and Sati's sisters )

With his wife Prasuti, he is the father of many daughters, twenty-seven of whom were married to Soma. Daksha found that Soma overly favored one daughter (Rohini) over the others, thus neglecting their needs and flouting his responsibilities. For this, Daksha cursed him to wither and die. The daughters intervened and made his death periodic, symbolized by the waxing and waning of the moon.

Story of Sati and Shiva

In later Hindu tales, Daksha is said to be a Prajapati or one of the Brahma's sons. One of his daughters (often said to be the youngest) was Sati or Dakshayani, who had always wished to marry Shiva. Daksha forbade it, but she disobeyed him and did so anyway, finding in Shiva a doting and loving husband. Daksha disliked Shiva intensely, calling him a dirty, roaming ascetic and reviling the great yogi's cohort of goblins and ghouls.

From then on, he distanced himself from his daughter and his son-in-law. This enmity culminated in a great sacrifice he had been hosting, one to which he invited all and sundry, family and allies, gods and rishis, courtiers and subjects. Consciously excluding Sati from the list, he also set up a statue of Shiva, which he defiled and mocked, at the entrance to his hall. Sati, ebullient at the thought of such a great event, and assuming that the daughter of the king was welcome no matter what, attended the festival. Snubbed by her father and treated with disdain, Sati nonetheless maintained her composure. Indeed, even her father's refusal to invite Shiva, her husband and thus a traditionally honored member of any Hindu family, was to some extent borne.

However, on seeing the shameless insult to her husband in his absence, and the repeated slights King Daksha and his courtiers railed at Shiva, she committed suicide in grief for her beloved. Hearing of the news Shiva's attendants rushed inside the ceremony hall and started to attack all the guests present there, however, the demons invoked by Bhrigu defeated Shivas attendants and they retreated back to his abode. Upon hearing the news of his beloved wife's death, Shiva Infuriated that Daksha would so callously cause the harm of his (Daksha's) own daughter in so ignoble a manner. Shiva grabbed a lock of his matted hair and dahsed it to the ground. From the two pieces rose the ferocious Veerabhadhra and the terrible MahaKali. Upon Shiva's orders they stormed the ceremony and killed Daksha as well asmany of the guests and defeated all the Gods including Vishnu, Brahma, and Indra. Terrified and with remorse Bhrama and Vishnu propitated Lord Shiva and begged his mercy to restore Daksha's life and to allow the sacrifice to be completed. Shiva, the all-merciful One, restored Daksha's life, with the head of a goat.

In his humility and repentance for his graceless and sinful acts, Daksha became one Shiva's most devoted attendants. Sati/Dakshayani later incarnated as Parvati in her next life and remarried Shiva, thenceforth never to part with him again. It is for this reason that Shiva, while monogamous, has had two wives in reality, but the same soul in two incarnations.

Other daughters

Some of Daksha's other daughters include Bharani and Anuradha, married Chandra. Another, Rati, married Kama."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

sa mahyaṃ bhavatīṃ prādād
dharmādibhyo 'parāś ca tāḥ |
yajñe kadācid āhūtās
tena jāmātaro 'khilāḥ |35|

35. Dich gab Dakṣa mir zur Frau, die anderen dem Dharma1 und anderen. Einmal lud er alle Schwiegersöhne zum Opfer ein.


1 Dharma

"DHARMA. An ancient sage, sometimes classed among the Prajāpatis. He married thirteen (or ten) of the daughters of Daksha, and had a numerous progeny; but all his children " are manifestly allegorical, being personifications of intelligences and virtues and religious rites, and being therefore appropriately wedded to the probable authors of the Hindu code of religion and morals, or the equally allegorical representation of that code, Dharma, moral and religious duty."—Wilson."

[Quelle: Dowson, John <1820-1881>: A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. -- London, Trübner, 1879. -- s.v. ]

varjitas tv aham evaikas
tato 'pṛcchyata sa tvayā |
kiṃ na bhartā mamāhūtas
tvayā tātocyatām iti |36|

36. Ich als einziger wurde bei der Einladung übergangen. Da fragtest du ihn: "Papa, sage mir, warum du meinen Gatten nicht eingeladen hast!"

kapālamālī bhartā te
katham āhūyatāṃ makhe |
ity uvāca giraṃ so 'tha
tvatkarṇaviṣasūcikām |37|

37. "Dein Gatte trägt einen Kranz aus Schädeln. Wie dürfte ich ihn zu einem Freudenfest einladen." Solche Worte sprach er, die für Deine Ohren wie ein Giftstachel waren.

pāpo 'yam asmāj jātena
kiṃ dehena mamāmunā |
iti kopāt parityaktaṃ
śarīraṃ tat priye tvayā |38|

38. "Böse ist dieser. Was soll ich mit jenem meinem Körper, der von ihm gezeugt wurde!" Mit diesen Worten hast du, Liebe, deinen Köper aus Zorn verlassen.

sa ca dakṣamakhas tena
manyunā nāśito mayā |
tato jātā himādres tvam
abdheś candrakalā yathā |39|

39. Ich habe deswegen aus Wut das Freudenfest des Dakṣa zerstört. Darauf bist du aus dem Schneegebirge wie die Mondsichel aus dem Meer wiedergeboren worden.

atha smara tuṣārādriṃ
tapo'rtham aham āgataḥ |
pitā tvām ca niyuṅkte sma
śuśrūṣāyai mamātitheḥ |40|

40. Erinnere dich! Dann bin ich der Askese wegen zum Frostgebirge gekommen. Dein Vater trug dir auf, mir Gast gehorsam zu dienen.

prāptaye prahitaḥ suraiḥ |
labdhāvakāśo 'vidhyan  māṃ
tatra dagdho manobhavaḥ |41|

41. Die Götter haben den Liebesgott1 ausgesandt, damit durch einen Sohn von mir Tāraka2 getötet werde. Der Liebesgott hat mich, sobald er die Gelegenheit dazu fand, getroffen. Da habe ich ihn verbrannt.


1 Liebesgott: Kāma

Abb.: Kāmadeva
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

"Kāmadeva is the Hindu god of love. His other names include Ragavrinta (Stalk of Passion), Ananga (incorporeal), Kandarpa ("God of amour"), Manmatha (churner of hearts), Manosij (He Who Arises from the Mind; the contraction of the Sanskrit phrase Sah Manasah Jāta), Madana (intoxicating), Ratikānta (lord of the seasons), Pushpavān, Pushpadhanva (one with bow of flowers) or just Kāma ("desire").

Kāmadeva is represented as a young and handsome winged man who wields a bow and arrows. His bow is made of sugarcane with honeybees on it and his arrows are decorated with five kinds of fragrant flowers. Its string is made of a chain of honeybees.

His companions are a cuckoo, a parrot, hummingbees, the season of spring, and the gentle breeze. All of these are symbols of spring season.

According to the Shiva purānam, Kāmadeva is a son (actually a creation) of Brahma, creator of the universe. According to other sources including the Skanda purānam, Kāmadeva is a brother of Prasuti; they are both the children of Shatarupa, a creation of Brahmā. All sources concur on the fact that Kāmadeva is wed to Ratī, a daughter of Prasuti and Daksha (another son/creation of Brahmā). According to some beliefs, Kāmadeva was also once reincarnated as Pradyumna, the son of Krishna and Rukminī.


Perhaps the best-known legend concerning Kāmadeva pertains to his annihilation and subsequent resurrection at the hands of Shiva. As related in the Kumārasāmbhavam, Kandarpa (Kāmadeva) resolved to aid the maiden Pārvatī in gaining the favour of Shiva. Kandarpa shot his arrows-of-desire at Shiva in order to disrupt the latter's meditation and help Pārvati gain the attention of the lord. The ploy backfired badly; Shiva was momentarily distracted but immediately realised what had happened. He was enraged, opened his dreadful third eye, and annihilated Kandarpa with a single fiery glance. Kandarpa's body was instantly reduced to ashes. The calamity was more than merely personal, since with the annihilation of Kāma (desire), the world became barren and unregenerative. Eventually, the marriage of Shiva and Pārvatī nevertheless came to be held. Later, at the behest of the gods and upon the intercession made by Parvati in favour of Kāmadeva's lamenting wife Rati, Shiva resurrected him to life, thus ensuring the procreative continuity of the world. Shiva resurrected Kandarpa, but only as a mental image, representing the true emotional and mental state of love rather than physical lust. Holi, the Indian festival of colours, and especially the bonfire traditionally lit on that day, are believed by some to commeration this legend."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

2 Tāraka: Sohn des Vajrānaka, ein Daitya, der durch seine Askese für die Götter gefährlich geworden war. Um ihn zu vernichten, wurde Skanda/Kārttikeya/Murugan(முருகன்) geboren.


Abb.: Lord Murugan(Kartikeya) and family / by Raja Ravi Varma [1848-1906]

Murugan (also Murukan) (Tamil: முருகன்) is the most popular Hindu deity amongst Tamils of Tamil Nadu state in India and in the Tamil diaspora. He is also known by a number of other names, including Kartikeyan, Kumaran and Subrahmanyan. Although he is popularly associated with the pan-Indian deity Skanda, there is evidence that Murukan worship, as seen today, has been a product of syncretism of an indigenous deity with Skanda.

Sati, the consort of Shiva immolated herself at the site of the Daksha Yagna, which was later destroyed by Shiva. Sati was reborn as Uma, or Parvati the daughter of the mountain king Himavaan (the Himalayas). Shiva withdrew himself from the universe and engaged himself in yogic meditation in the Himalayas.

In the meanwhile, the demon Surapadma ravaged the earth and tormented its beings. It was realized by the gods that only the son born of Shiva and Parvati could lead the gods to victory over Tarakaasuran, Surapadman and their demon companions. They plotted with Kaama, the lord of desire, to shoot a flower arrow at Shiva, as he sat in meditation, so as to make him fall in love with Parvati. When Kaama aimed his arrow at Shiva, he opened his third eye and burned him to ashes instantly. Upon hearing the pleas of Kama's wife Rati, he brought back Kama to life, in flesh and blood for her sake, and in a formless state for others.

His penance disturbed, Shiva fell in love with Parvathi. However, the sparks of the fiery seed of Shiva were unbearable; even the fire God Agni could not bear them; this fire was then transported by the river Ganga into the Sara Vana forest, where Sara Vana Bhava was born. He was raised by the six Kartika damsels. Parvati combined these six babies into one with six faces, ie. Shanmukha. Shanmukha, or Kartikeya the supreme general of the devas, led the army of the devas to victory against the demons. The six sites at which Kartikeya sojourned while leading his armies against Surapadman are Tiruttanikai, Swamimalai, Tiruvavinankudi (Palani), Pazhamudirsolai, Tirupparamkunram and Tiruchendur. All these sites have ancient temples glorified by the tamil poems of Tirumurugaatruppadai of the Sangam period (prior to the 3rd century CE).

In the Hindu puranas

Though slightly varying versions occur in the Puranas, they broadly follow the same pattern. (By this period, the identification of Shiva/Rudra with Agni, that can be traced back to the Vedas and Brahmanas, had clearly made Kartikeya the son of Shiva.)

The Skanda Purana narrates that Shiva, was married earlier to Dakshayani (also known as Sati), the granddaughter of Brahma, and the daughter of Daksha. Daksha never liked Shiva (Shiva begs for food, lives in a graveyard covered with ashes being the Destructor, and has no possessions, not even good clothes for himself - symbolising detachment but disliked by Daksha) and insults Shiva in front of Dakshayini in a Yagna. Dakshayani self-immolates herself, unable to bear the humiliation. Having thus incurred Shiva's wrath, the Yagna is destroyed even though it was protected by all the other Gods & Rishis. Taraka believed that, since Shiva was an ascetic and his earlier marriage was itself conducted with great difficulty, his remarriage was out of the question, hence his boon of being killed by Shiva's son alone would give him invincibility.

The Devas manage to get Shiva married to Parvati (who was Dakshayani, reborn) by having Manmatha (also known as Kama), the god of love awaken him from his penance, incurring his wrath by opening his third eye of destruction, and being destroyed & resurrected. Shiva hands over his effulgence of the third eye used to destroy Manmatha to Agni, as he alone is capable of handling it till it becomes the desired offspring. But even Agni, tortured by its heat, hands it over to Ganga who in turn deposits it in a lake in a forest of reeds(Shara). The child is finally born in this forest(vana) with six faces. He is first spotted and cared for by six women reprsenting the Pleiades - Kritika in Sanskrit. He thus gets named Kartikeya. As a young lad, he destroys Taraka. As this youthful saviour he is called Kumara(the Sanskrit word for youth).

Early mention in Sangam literature

Tamil Sangam Literature (200BCE to 500CE) mentions Murugu as a nature spirit worshipped with animal sacrifices and associated with a non-Brahmanical priest known as a Velan , a name later used to refer to the deity himself. The worship of Murugu often occurred in the woods or in an open field, with no particular associated structure. The rituals practiced included the Veriyaattu, a form of ritual-trance-dancing, which is still a common part of Murugan worship in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Malaysia. Murugu was believed to hold power over the chaotic and could be appeased by sacrifices and Veriyaattu to bring order and prosperity.

Architectural findings of pottery in several places in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere had ideographic inscriptions of this name as far back as 3rd century BCE. According to noted epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan, the ideographs signify a brave warrior capable of killing evil demons to save the devoted.

Lord Muruga was also supposed to have given the meaning of the Pranava Mantra ( OM ) to lord shiva himself

Syncretism with Skanda

The earlier version of Murugu underwent a radical transformation after assimilation into Brahmanical Hinduism. The Tamil version of Skanda Purana, called Kandha Purānam, was written by Kacchiappa Sivachariyar(1350-1420 A.D.) of Kumara Kottam in the city of Kanchipuram [காஞ்சிபுரம]. He was a scholar in Tamil & Sanskrit literature, and a votary of the Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy.

According to legend, Kachiappa Sivacharyar would leave each day's compositions in the sanctum sanctorum or mūlasthānam of the Murugan shrine at Kumara Kottam, to find it returned in the morning with corrections, presumed to be made by the deity himself. Hence, the Kanda Purānam is widely considered to be an authoritative account of Murugan.

In the Kandha Purana, Kartikeya is the destroyer of Taraka and also of his elder and more powerful demonic brothers, Soorapadman and Simha-mukhan. Shiva let out a stream of fire from his third eye on his forehead, that split into six streams. Each landed as a baby on a lotus in a lake called Saravana Poigai.

Six women, called Karthigai Pengal, literally Woman of the Pleiades saw the babies and each took one with her to look after. On the day of Karthigai, Parvati united the six children into a six-headed child, unable to cuddle all of them together. This is also the origin of a common Tamil name of the deity, Arumugan or Shanmugan, which literally means "one who has six faces".

Apart from the festival of Karthigai, the Thaipusam [தைப்பூசம்] festival, celebrated by Tamil communities worldwide, commemorates the day he was given a Velor lance by his mother in order to vanquish the demons.

The adoration of Kartikeya

Historically, Kartikeya enjoyed immense popularity in the Indian subcontinent. One of the major Puranas, the Skanda Purana is dedicated to him. In the Bhagavad-Gita (Ch.10, Verse 24), Krishna, explaining his omnipresence, says - "Of generals I am Skanda, the lord of war".

It is interesting that Krishna makes this statement in the middle of the battlefied "Kurukshetra" which at the time of the battle is festering with the world's greatest genearals like Bhishma, Drona, Bheema, Duryodana, Dushasana, Yudhishtir, Drupatiputra, Abhimanyu etc.!

His presence in the religious and cultural sphere can be seen at least from the Gupta age. Two of the Gupta kings, Kumaragupta and Skandagupta were named after him. He is seen in the Gupta sculptures and in the temples of Ellora and Elephanta. As the commander of the divine armies, he became the patron of the ruling classes. His youth, beauty and bravery was much celebrated in the Sanskrit works like the Katha-Saritsagara. Kalidasa chose his birth as the subject of one of his epics.

However, his popularity in north India saw a great erosion from the Middle Ages. He slowly vanished from the scene and is today virtually unknown in these areas except in scholarly circles.The last vestige can be seen only in Bengal where he is worshipped during the Durga Puja along with Durga.

This surprising change may perhaps be attributed to the fact that he was stongly associated with the ruling classes and from the Middle Ages most of the ruling houses were Muslims.

Popularity in the Tamil lands

In North India, the popularity of Skanda waned except for in the South of India; Murugan has enjoyed continuous popularity with all classes of society right from the Sangam age. This lead to the more elaborate accounts of his mythology in the Tamil language.

He married two deities, Valli and Devayani. The latter is identical to Devasena and the former is a daughter of a tribal chief. However, other Hindu legends state he is unmarried, and call him Kumaraswami, Kumara meaning a bachelor and Swami meaning God.

Murukan rides a peacock and wields a bow in battle. The lance called Vel in Tamil is a weapon closely associated with him. The Vel was given to him by his mother, Parvati, and embodies her energy and power. The flag of his army depicts a rooster. In the war, Shoorapadman was split into two, and was granted a boon by Murugan, to become the peacock, and the rooster.

As Murukan is worshipped predominantly in south India, many of his names are of Tamil origin. These include Senthil the "Red" or formidable one; Arumuga the six-faceted one; Muruka; Guha; Maal-Marigan nephew of Vishnu and many others.

Differences in Northern and Southern traditions

There seem to be some intriguing differences in the traditions associated with Kartikeya in the North and South of India.

The Sanskrit epics and Puranas seem to indicate that he was the eldest son of Shiva, as the tale of Shiva's marriage to Parvati indicates. In the Shiva Purana, he is seen helping Shiva fight the newly born Ganesha, Shiva's other son, when Ganesha stopped Shiva from entering his home in Kailasa. The south has all along maintained that he was the younger of the two. In the north, he is generally seen as a bachelor, even a misogynist, whereas the southern tradition has him married to two wives.

Kartikeya worship in Sri Lanka

Kartikeya, or Murugan is adored in the large Tamil population in Sri Lanka, and numerous Murugan temples exist in the North and East of Sri Lanka, as well as in the capital city of Colombo. He is a favorite deity of the common folk everywhere and it is said he never hesitates to come to the aid of a devotee when called upon.

In southern Sri Lanka, Kartikeya, or Murugan, is worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists alike at the temple in Kataragama (Kathirkamam), where he is known as Katragama Deviyo (Lord of Katragama), or Kathiravel. Local legend holds that Lord Murugan alighted in Kataragam and was smitten by Valli, one of the local aboriginal lasses. After a courtship, they were married. This event is taken to signify that Lord Murugan is accessible to all who worship and love him, regardless of their birth or heritage."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

tatas tīvreṇa tapasā
krīto 'haṃ dhīrayā tvayā |
tac ca tatsaṃcayāyaiva
mayā soḍhaṃ tava priye |42|

42. Dann hast du, kluge Beharrliche, mich durch strenge Askese gekauft. Und ich, meine Liebe, habe diese Askese geduldet, damit sich dir Askese ansammelt.

itthaṃ me pūrvajāyā tvaṃ
kim anyat kathyate tava |
ity uktvā virate śambhau
devī kopākulābravīt |43|

43. So warst du in einer früheren Geburt meine Gattin. Was wird sonst noch über dich erzählt?" Nach diesen Worten schwieg der Glückbewirker1. Die Göttin sprach voll Zorn:

dhūrtas tvaṃ na kathāṃ hṛdyāṃ
kathayasy arthato 'pi san |
gaṅgāṃ vahan naman saṃdhyāṃ
vijito 'si na kiṃ mama|44|


1 Glücksbewirker: śambhū = Name Śivas, aus śam + bhū erklärt: śam Indekl.: Partikel, der einen Segen oder Glückswunsch ausdrückt.

44. "Du Betrüger, obwohl ich dich darum gebeten habe, erzählst du keine herzige Geschichte. Warum bist du nicht mein Untertan, der du die die Gaṅgā1 trägst und die Sandhyā2 verehrst?"


1 Gaṅgā

"In Hinduism, the river Ganga (Sanskrit and Hindi गंगा Gaṅgā) or Ganges River (as called by westerners) is considered sacred. It is worshipped by Hindus, and personified as a goddess in Hinduism, who holds an important place in the Hindu religion. Hindus believe that bathing in the river on certain occasions causes the remission of sins and facilitates the attainment of salvation. Many people believe that this effect obtains from bathing in Ganga at any time. People travel from distant places to immerse the ashes of their kin in the waters of the Ganga; this immersion also is believed to be meritorious as the ashes are believed to go to heaven. Several places sacred to Hindus lie along the banks of the river Ganga, including Haridwar and Varanasi.


Abb.: "Descent of the Ganga", Relief at Mahabalipuram [மகாபலிபுரம்]

There are several legends that give various versions of the birth of Ganga. According to one version, the sacred water in Brahmas Kamandalu (water-vessal) became personified as a maiden, Ganga. According to another (Vaishnavite) legend, Brahma had reverently washed the feet of Vishnu and collected this water in his Kamandalu. According to yet a third version, Ganga was the daughter of Himavan, king of the mountains, and his consort Mena; she was thus a sister of the goddess Parvati. Every version declares that she was raised in the heavens, under the tutelage of Brahma.

Several years later, a king named Sagara magically acquired sixty thousand sons. One day, King Sagara performed a ritual of worship for the good of the kingdom. One of the integral parts of the ritual was a horse, which was stolen by the jealous Indra. Sagara sent all his sons all over the earth to search for the horse. They found it in the nether-world (or Underworld) next to a meditating sage Kapila. Believing that the sage had stolen the horse, they hurled insults at him and caused his penance to be disturbed. The sage opened his eyes for the first time in several years, and looked at the sons of Sagara. With this glance, all sixty thousand were burnt to death.

The souls of the sons of Sagara wandered as ghosts since their final rites had not been performed. When Bhagiratha, one of the descendants of Sagara, son of Dilip, learnt of this fate, he vowed to bring Ganga down to Earth so that her waters could cleanse their souls and release them to heaven.

Bhagiratha prayed to Brahma that Ganga come down to Earth. Brahma agreed, and he ordered Ganga to go down to the Earth and then on to the nether regions so that the souls of Bhagiratha's ancestors would be able to go to heaven. The vain Ganga felt that this was insulting and decided to sweep the whole earth away as she fell from the heavens. Alarmed, Bhagiratha prayed to Shiva that he break up Ganga's descent.

Ganga arrogantly fell on Shiva's head. But Shiva calmly trapped her in his hair and let her out in small streams. The touch of Shiva further sanctified Ganga. As Ganga travelled to the nether-worlds, she created a different stream to remain on Earth to help purify unfortunate souls there.

Because of Bhagiratha's efforts Ganga descended on to earth and hence the river is also known as Bhagirathi, and the term "Bhagirath prayatna" is used to describe valiant efforts or difficult achievements.

Another name that Ganga is known by is Jahnavi. Story has it that once Ganga came down to earth, on her way to Bhagiratha, her rushing waters created turbulence and destroyed the fields and the sadhana of a sage called Jahnu. He was angered by this and drank up all of Ganga's waters. Upon this, the Gods prayed to Jahnu to release Ganga so that she could proceed on her mission. Pleased with their prayers, Jahnu released Ganga (her waters) from his ears. Hence the name "Jahnavi" (daughter of Jahnu) for Ganga.

It is sometime believed that the river will finally dry up at the end of Kali Yug (the era of darkness, the current era) just as with the Sarasvati river, and this era will end. Next in (cyclic) order will be the SatYug or the era of Truth.

According to the Hindu scriptures, the goddess Ganga is foster-mother to Karttikeya (Murugan), who was actually a son of Shiva and Parvati. She was also the mother of Devavrata (also known as Bhishma), who is one of the most respected characters of the Mahabharata.

Rig Veda

The Ganga is definitely mentioned in the Rig-Ved, the earliest and theoretically the holiest of the Hindu scriptures. The Ganga is mentioned in the nadistuti (Rig Veda 10.75), which lists the rivers from east to west. In RV 6.45.31, the word Ganga is also mentioned, but it is not clear if the reference is to the river.

RV 3.58.6 says that "your ancient home, your auspicious friendship, O Heroes, your wealth is on the banks of the Jahnavi (JahnAvyAm)". This verse could possibly refer to the Ganga. In RV 1.116.18-19, the Jahnavi and the Gangetic dolphin occur in two adjacent verses.


In the canons of Indian art, Ganga is visualized as voluptuous and beautiful, carrying an overflowing pot in her hand. The vessel conveys the idea of abundant life and fertility, which nourishes and sustains the universe.

The second distinguishing aspect of Ganga's iconography is her animal mount, which is often shown serving as a pedestal for her. This is the makara, a hybrid creature having the body of a crocodile and the tail of a fish. The makara in Hindu thought corresponds to the star sign of Capricorn in western astrology.

The makara is also the vehicle of the Vedic god of waters, Varuna, thus establishing firmly Goddess Ganga's Vedic roots."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

2 Sandhyā

"SANDHYĀ 'Twilight' It is personified as the daughter of Brahmā and wife of Śiva. In the Śiva Purāṇa it is related that Brahmā having attempted to do violence to his daughter, she changed herself into a deer. Brahmā then assumed the form of a stag and pursued her through the sky. Śiva saw this, and shot an arrow which cut off the head of the stag. Brahmā then reassumed his own form and paid homage to Śiva. The arrow remains in the sky in the sixth lunar mansion, called Ardrā, and the stag's head remains in the fifth mansion, Mṛga-śiras."

[Quelle: Dowson, John <1820-1881>: A classical dictionary of Hindu mythology and religion, geography, history, and literature. -- London, Trübner, 1879. -- s.v. ]

tac chrutvā pratipede 'syā
vihitānunayo haraḥ |
kathāṃ kathayituṃ divyāṃ
tataḥ kopaṃ mumoca sā |45|

45. Auf diese Worte hin versprach ihr der Vernichter1 versöhnlich, eine himmlische Geschichte zu erzählen. Da ließ sie von ihrem Zorn ab.


1 Vernichter: Hara: Name Śivas

neha kaiścit praveṣṭavyam
ity uktena tayā svayam |
niruddhe nandinā dvāre
haro vaktuṃ pracakrame|46|

46. Sie sprach zu Nandin1: "Niemand darf hier eintreten!" Nandin selbst versperrte die Tür. Dann begann der Vernichter2 zu erzählen:


1 Nandin


Abb.: Nandi: Gongakondaicholapuram tempe in Tamil Nadu

Nandi/Nandhi is the white bull which Shiva rides, and the leader of the Ganas. The white color of the bull symbolizes purity and justice. Shiva and Nandi's association in Hindu scriptures and art can be traced to the Indus Valley Civilization, where dairy farming was the most important occupations, thus explaining the appearance of various artifacts indicating a deity much like Shiva. This deity is believed to have been worshipped as the keeper of herds, and over time, was converted into the present day Shiva, with the bull Nandi as his primary vehicle. Over time of course, Nandi was accorded the position of a lesser Hindu god and a number of temples are dedicated solely to Nandi.

The close association of Shiva and Nandi explains the presence of a statue of Nandi at the gate of the Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum) of every mandir dedicated to Shiva. It also explains why the word "nandi" in the Tamil language is used as a metaphor for a person blocking the way. In Sanskrit, a bull is called "vrisha", which has another connotation - that of righteousness or Dharma.

In Hindu mythology, it was Nandi who cursed Ravana (the demon King of Lanka) that his kingdom would be burnt by a monkey (Vanara). And later Hanuman burnt Lanka when he went in search of Sita, who was kept prisoner by Ravana in Ashok Vatika.

In addition to being his mount, Nandi is Shiva's foremost disciple. As the foremost disciple of Lord Shiva, it is important to seek the blessings of Nandi before proceeding to worship Lord Shiva. When the positive forces, the devas, and the negative forces, the asuras, joined together on a rare occasion to churn the mountain to obtain the nectar of immortality they utilized Vasuki, the serpent, as the rope. The devas pulled from one end and the asuras from the other. Vasuki was upset during the process of this churning, and vomited up a poison which became human karma. This "poison" was so dangerous that none of the devas or asuras wanted to go near it. It was extremely sticky and coming into contact with this poison, i.e, human karma, would drag the divinity down to the realms of human suffering and ego. As everyone else ran away, Lord Shiva, followed by Nandi, came forward to help as he was the only one who could counteract this deadly poison. Shiva took the poison into his hand and drank it. Nandi saw some of the poison spill out of Shiva's mouth and immediately drank if off the ground. The devas and asuras watching were shocked and wondered aloud what would happen to Nandi. Lord Shiva calmed their fears saying, "Nandi has surrendered into me so completely that he has all my powers and my protection".

In the Natha/Siddhar tradition, Nandi is the one of the primal gurus. He was the guru to Siddhar Thirumulanathar, Patanjalinathar and others."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2006-10-20]

2 Vernichter: Hara: Name Śivas

Zu: 5. Vers 47 - 66: Die Verfluchung Puṣpadantas und Mālyavats