Archive for May, 2011

Shree Shiva-Ashtakam

May 20, 2011

Shree Shiva-Ashtakam

(The glorification of 8 verses to Lord Shiva)


Karpoor gowram karoona-avtaaram, samsaar saaram bhujagendr haaram Sadaa vasantam hridayaar vinde, bhavam bhavaanee sahitam namami

Our humble salutations to Lord Shiva, whose complexion is like that of camphor, who is the incarnate of compassion and who is the essence of the world. He wears the king of serpents as His mala and forever dwells in the lotus-like heart. We bow to Shiva and Parvati.

Composed by Shree Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu from the Shree Caitanya Carita by Shree Murari Gupta.

Please note after these verses I have attached some information called “How Vaishnavas (Devotees of Lord Krishna) worship Lord Shiva”.

A very quick note on who Caitanya Mahaprabhu really is: – Shree Krishna Caitanya Mahaprabhu, the great teacher of love of God and the founder of the congregational chanting of the holy name of the Lord, advented Himself at Shree Dham Mayapur (this sacred place is about 130 km north of Kolkata) on Full Moon evening in the year 1407. Mahaprabhu is the expansion of Shree Shree Radha-Krsna… This time however He appeared as a great devotee of the Lord in order to preach to the people in general, as well as to religionists and philosophers, about the transcendental position of Shree Krishna, the primeval Lord and the cause of all causes. The essence of Mahaprabhu teachings is simply that Lord Krsna who appeared in Vrndavana as the son of Nanda Maharaja is the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is therefore worshippable by all. During His brief stay on this planet of 48 years He preached widely and His preaching was most effective.

A very quick note on who Murari Gupta really was: – The word gupta means “hidden”, so the name Murari Gupta indicates that Murari (Shree Chaitanya Deva) had secretly taken up permanent residence in his heart. Shree Murari Gupta, possessed extraordinary humility. He had a personal lifelong relationship with Lord Caitanya. Shree Murari Gupta was actually Shree Hanumanji himself…

Namo namas te tri-dasheshvaraayaBhootaadi naathaaya mrdaaya nityamGangaa- tarangotthita-baala-candraCoodaaya gauree-nayanotsavaaya// 13 //I perpetually offer obeisances unto you, the Lord of the thirty primal devas, who are the original father of created beings, whose character is gracious upon whose head which is created by the sickle moon, the Ganga springs, and who are a festival for the eyes of Gauri, the fair goddess.

Su tapta caameekara candra neelaPadma pravaalaambuda kaanti vastraihSunrtya rangeshta vara pradaayaKaivalya naathaaya vrsha dhvajaaya//14//I offer my obeisances to you who resemble a molten gold, who are dressed in garments coloured like a group of budding blue lotuses or lustrous rainclouds, who bestow the most desirable boon to your devotees by your delightful, who offer shelter to those who seek to become one with the transcendental effulgence of Godhead, and whose flag bears the image of the bull.

Sudhaamshu soorya agni vilocanenaTamo bhide te jagatah shivaayaSahasra shubhraamshu sahasra rashmiSahasra sanjittvara tejase ‘stu// 15//I offer my obeisances to you who dispel darkness with your three eyes – the moon, the sun and fire – and thus cause auspiciousness for all the living entities of the universe, and whose potency easily defeats thousands of moons and suns.

Naagesha ratnojjvala vigrahaayaShaarddoola carmaamshuka divya tejaseSahasra patropari samsthitaayaVaraangadaa mukta bhuja dvayaaya// 16I offer my obeisance to you, whose form is brilliantly illuminated by the jewels of Ananta-deva, the king of snakes, you who possess divine potencies and are clothes in a tiger-skin, who stands in the midst of a thousand-petalled lotus and whose two arms are adorned by lustrous bangles.

Su noopuraaranjita paada padmaKsharat sudhaa bhrtya sukha pradaayaVicitra-ratnaugha vibhooshitaayaPremaanam evaadya harau vidhedi // 17//I offer my obeisances to you who bestow happiness to you servitors as you pour upon them the liquid nectar flowing from your reddish lotus feet, upon which charming ankle bells ring. Obeisances unto you who are adorned by an abundance of gem. Please endow Me today with pure love for Shree Hari (Krishna).

shree raama govinda mukunda shaureshree krishna naaraayana vaasudevaIty aadi naamaamrita paana mattaBhrn gaadhi paayaakhila duhka hantre// 18//“O Shree Raam! O Govinda! O Mukunda! O Shauri! O Krsna! O Narayana! O Vaasudeva!” I offer my obeisances unto you, Shree Shiva, who are the monarch ruling over all the bee-like devotees who are mad to drink the nectar of these and other innumerable names of Shree Hari, and who thus destroys all grief.

Shree naaradaadyaih satatam sugopyaJijnaasitaayaashu vara pradaayaTebhyo harer bhakti sukha pradaayaShivaaya sarvva gurave namo namah//19//I offer my repeated obeisances to you Shree Shiva, who is forever inquired of confidentially by Shree Narada and other great sages, who very easily bestow boons on them, who bestows the happiness of Hari Bhakti to those who seek boons of you, who thereby create auspiciousness and are thus the guru of everyone.

Shree gauree netrotsava mangalaayaTat praana naathaaya rasa pradaayaSadaa samutkantha Govinda leelaGaana praveenaaya namo ‘stu tubhyam//20//I offer my obeisances to you who are a festival of auspiciousness of the eyes of Gauri, you who are the lord of her life-energy, who bestows rasa and are expert in forever singing songs with eagerness of the pastimes of Lord Govinda (Krishna)

Etat shivasyaashtakam adbhutam mahatShrnvan hari prema labheta sheeghramJnaanam ca vijnaanam apoorvva vaibhavamYo bhaava poornah paramam samaadaram//21//A person who lovingly hears with rapt attention this wonderful eightfold prayer to Shree Shiva can quickly gain Shree Hari-Prema as well as transcendental knowledge, the realization of that knowledge and unprecedented devotional potency.

Iti stuvantam utsukaahShivasya bhrtyaa vara maalya gandhaihVibhooshayaam aasur anuttamaangamTato bahirveshmasu sannivishthah//22//After Lord Gaura thus praised Maheshvara (Lord Shiva), the servants of Shree Shiva very enthusiastically ornamented Gauranga’s unparalled from with sublimely fragrant flower-garlands, and the Lord then became settled nearby.

Bhakta arpitaannam bubhuje tato ‘sauSuptvaa mudaa tatra nishaam ninaayaPraatah samutthaaya sa krsna leelaamGaayan sukhenaapi babhoova poornah//23//There Mahaprabhu ate some food offered by the Bhaktas and passed the night in that place resting happily. Rising early in the morning, his heart again began overflowing with delight as He sang songs describing the Lilas of Shree Krsna.

Pathed ya ittham stavam ambhujaakshaKrtam puraareh purushottamasyaPremaanam evaatra labheta nityamSudurlabham yan muni deva vrndaih//24//If one recites with devotion this glorification of the transcendental personality, Lord Puraari, as composed by the lotus-eyes Shree Caitanya Mahaprabhu, one can obtain here and now the eternally relishable pure love for Lord Krsna, which is very rarely achieved by the hosts of the sages and devas…

Thus ends the Eighth Sarga entitled “Darshana of Mahadeva,” in the Prakrama of the great poem Shree Caitanya-Carita.

How Vaishnavas (Devotees of Lord Krishna) worship Lord Shiva

Vaishnavas (Devotees of Lord Krishna) and Vrajavasis (the people born in Vrindavan, India) celebrate by seeking Lord Shiva’s blessings and worship him in his form as a Gopi (Female cowherd girl) at the ancient temple of Gopishwara in Vrindavan.

“It is said, vaishnavanam yatha sambhu: Lord Shiva is the best of devotees of Lord Krishna. In Vrindavan there is Lord Shiva’s temple called Gopishwara. The gopis used to worship not only Lord Shiva but Katyayani (Durga) as well, but their aim was to attain the favour of Lord Krishna. A devotee of Lord Krishna does not disrespect Lord Shiva, but worships Lord Shiva as the most exalted devotee of Lord Krishna. Consequently, whenever a devotee worships Lord Shiva he prays to Lord Shiva to achieve the favour of Krishna and he does not request material profit.” (Purport to Srimad Bhagavatam 4. 24.30.)

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakur offered these prayers wriiten for Gopishwara Mahadev when he visited the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneshwar on June 22nd, 1922:

Vrindavanvani-pate jaya soma somamaule sanandana-sanatana-naradeyagopishvara vraja-vilasi-yuganghri-padmeprema prayaccha nirupadhi namo namas te“O Lord Shiva, O gatekeeper of Vrindavan! O you who are accompanied by Uma (Parvati)! O you who carry the moon in your hair! O lord worshiped by Sananda-kumar, Sanat-Kumar and Narada Muni! O Gopishwar, the worshipable deity of the gopis! Desiring that you bestow upon me love for the divine couple, Shree Shree Radha Madhava, who perform joyous pastimes in Vraja, I offer my obeisances unto you again and again.” (Srila Vishwanatha Chakravarti’s Shree Sankalpa-kalpadrum, cited in vol. 7 of Shree Krishna Kathamritam)

It is related that Lord Shiva desiring to witness the Rasa Lila is stopped from crossing the Yamuna River in Vrindavan by Vrinda-devi. Lord Shiva protests this refusal of entry, saying he is a great devotee of Lord Krishna and should be allowed to participate in His most wonderful pastime with the Gopis. Vrinda Devi’s response is firm: “Krishna is the only male in the rasa-lila.”

Lord Shiva, not to be outdone, submerges himself in Yamuna-devi, non-different from love of Lord Krishna, and emerges as a Gopi. Now qualified as feminine, he gains an exclusive inside view into the Rasa play of Lord Krishna and the gopis. The other Devas, including Lord Brahma, may only witness and shower flowers from outside the realm of Vamsivata on Yamuna shore.

The Deity of Gopishwar Mahadev (below), worshipped in a small temple near Vamsivata, is a lingam — one of four important Shiva-linga shrines in Vraja. Each night the lingam is transformed as he assumes the semblance of a gopi’s face, replete with nose ring and other feminine ornaments in a most colourful attire. The ensemble is different every day of the year. Lord Shiva resides forever in Vrindavan as Gopishwara Mahadeva, the dearest devotee of Krishna, and thus participates in all the Lord’s unending Lila.




May 20, 2011


Characteristics :

Destroyer, Kind Hearted

Other Names :

Shambhu Nath, Bhole Shankar, Shiv Shankar

Principal Scriptures:

Shiva Mahapurana

Consort :


Sons :

Ganesha, Kartikay

Abode :

Mount Kailash

Vahana (Vehicle) :

Nandi (The Bull Representing Strength and Happiness)

Mula Mantra :

Om Namah Shivaye

Shiva Gayatri Mantra:

Aum Panchvakraye Vidmahe
Mahadevaye Dheemahi
Tanno Rudra Prachodayat

Lord Shiva or Siva is considered as the destroyer of the world. Shiva is one of the most popular gods of the Hindu religion. Lord Siva forms the part of the Trimurti (Trinity), the other being Brahma, the creator and Vishnu, the preserver. Shiva is known for the complexity of his nature, representing contradictory qualities. He is the destroyer and the restorer, the great ascetic and the symbol of sensuality, the kind herdsman of souls and a wrathful avenger.

Lord Shiva- The Role
Lord Shiva represents the vital goodness in the form of Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram i.e.; Truth, Goodness and Beauty .Lord Shiva performs a celestial role of dissolution and recreation of the universe, that’s why; he is mostly associated with the words, like destroyer and destruction. The role of Shiva is often confused with these terms and the difficulty arises, when the significance of his celestial role is not understood.

Lord ShivaThe conception is clear itself by a slight balance between the opposing forces of good and evil. When this balance gets disturbed and continuation of life becomes unfeasible, Lord Shiva dissolves the universe. This is known as ” pralay ” and it is done in order to create another cycle .So that the unliberated souls will get another opportunity to liberate themselves from the bondage of the material world. To put succinctly, Siva protects the souls from pain and suffering that is generated by the unhealthy universe.

Shiva – The Giver
Lord Shiva is known as the ”giver god”, lord of mercy and kindness. He always protects his devotees from evil forces like lust, greed and anger. He is the most kind -hearted God who grants boons and bestows grace to his devotees.

Shiva – The Image
Lord Shiva has the unclad body covered with ashes symbolizing the transcendental aspect of the universe. Siva’s three matted locks represent the integration of the mental, physical and spiritual energies. The crescent moon becomes the part of lord’s ornament symbolizing the time cycle through which creation evolves from the beginning to the end. The three eyes of Lord Shiva suggest: the Sun is his right eye, the Moon is the left eye and fire, the third eye.

The Snake around his neck symbolizes the yogic power, which he uses to dissolve and recreate the universe. The Rudraksha necklace worn by the lord shows that he uses his celestial powers without compromise,to maintain law and order. The trishula (trident), symbolizes the Lord’s three fundamental powers of will (iccha), action (kriya) and knowledge (gyana).The damaru (drum) and its two sides separated from each other symbolizes the two entirely dissimilar states of existence, invisible and evident.

The bull, Nandi is linked with Shiva and it is considered as his vehicle. The bull symbolizes both power and ignorance. Tiger’s skin makes Lord Shiva’s clothing and his seat, which illustrates the idea that he is the source of potential energy during the dissolution of the universe. Thus, Lord Shiva is well-regarded as the ultimate organizer of the birth and death in the corporeal world.

Shiva – The Lingam
Shiva is worshipped in his invisible and an unborn form, known as the lingam. Lingam is always accompanied by the Yoni, which is the female part, adjoining the base of the lingam. The lingam symbolizes the male creative power of Shiva.

Shiva Chalisa

Shiva Chalisa is a “forty verse” prayer. Verses are recited or chanted by groups. The acts and deeds of Shiva are recalled in these verses to aid the devotee to meditate on virtuous and noble qualities.

Lord Shiva

ll Doha ll
Jai Ganesh Girija Suvan, Mangal Mool Sujaan l l
Kahat Ayodhyadas Tum, Dehu Abhaya Vardan l

ll Chaupai ll
Jai Girijapati Deen Dayala, Sada Karat Santan Pratipala
Bhal Chandrama Sohati Neeke, Kanan Kundal Nag Phani Ke

Ang Gaur Shiv Ganga Bahaye, Mundamal Tan Kshar Lagaye
Vastra Khaal Baghambar Sohe, Chhavi Ko Dekh Nag Muni Mohe

Maina Matu Ki Priya Dulari, Bam Ang Sohat Chhavi Pyari
Kar Trishul Sohat Chhavi Bhari, Karat Sada Shatrun Shaykari

Nandi Ganesh Sohe Tanha Kaise, Sagar Madhya Kamal Hain Jaise
Kartik Shyam Aur Gana Raau, Ya Chhavi Ko Kahi Jaat Na Kaau

Devan Jabhee Jaaye Pukara,Tabahin Dukh Prabhu Ap Nivaara
Keen Upadrava Taarak Bhari, Devan Sab Mili Tumhee Pukari

Turat Shadanan Ap Pathayo, Luv Nimesh Mahi Mar Girayo
Ap Jallandhar Asur Sanhara, Suyash Tumhar Vidit Sansara

Tripurasur Sang Yuddha Machayi, Sabahin Kripa Kari Leen Bachayi
Keeya Taphin Bhagirath Bhari, Purahi Pratigya Tasu Purari

Darpa Chhod Ganga Tab Ayee, Sewak Astuti Karat Sadahee
Ved Naam Mahima Tav Gayaee, Akath Anadi Bhed Nahin Payee

Pragati Udadhi Manthan Mein Jwala, Jare Surasur Bhaye Vihaala
Mahadeva Tab Kari Sahayee, Neelkantha Tav Nam Dharayee

Poojan Ramchandra Jab Keenha, Lanka Jeet Vibhishan Deenha
Sahas Kamal me ho rahe dhaari, Keenha Pareeksha Tabahi Purari

Ek Kamal Prabhu Rakheu johee, Kamal Nayan Poojan Chahin Soyee
Kathin Bhakti Dekhi Prabhu Shankar, Bhaye Prasanna Deya Icchhit Var

Jai Jai Jai Ananta Avinasi, Karat Kripa Sab Ke Ghatvasi
Dushta Sakal Mohi Nitya Sataven, Bhramita Rahe Mohe Chain Na Aave

Trahi Trahi Main Nath Pukaro, Yeh Avasar Mohi Ani Ubaro
Lai Trishool Shatrun Ko Maro, Sankat Se Mohi Ani Ubaro

Mata Pita Bhrata Sab Hoi, Sankat Mein Poochat Nahi Koi
Swami Ek Hai Aas Tumhari, Aaye Harahu Mam Sankat Bhaari

Dhan Nirdhan Kon Det Sadaee, Arat Jan Ki Peer Mitaee
Astuti Kehi Vidhi Karahu Tumhari, Shamhu Naath Ab Chook Hamari

Shanker Ho Sankat Ke Nashan, Vighna Vinashan Mangal Kaaran
Yogi Yati Muni Dhyan Lagave, Sharad Narad Sheesh Navave

Namo Namo Jai Namah Shivaye, Sur Brahmadik Par Na Paaye
Jo Yeh Path Kare Man Layee, Tapar Hot Hain Shambu Sahayee

Riniya Jo Koi Ho Adhikaari, Paath Kare So Paavanhaari
Putra Heen Ichha Kar Koi, Nishchaya Shiv Prasad Tehi Hoi

Pandit Triyodashi Ko Lave, Dhyan Poorvak Hom Karave
Triyodashi Vrata Kare Hamesha, Tan Nahi Take Rahe Kalesha

Dhoop Deep Naivedya Chadhavai, Shanker Sanmukha Path Karavahi
Janam Janam Ki Pap Nasave, Anta Vaas Shivpur Men Paave

Hey Shankar Hai Aas Tumhari, Dukh Peera Ab Harahu Hamari

ll Doha ll
Nit Nem Kar Praatha Hee ,Paath Karo Chaalis l
Tum Meri Manokaamna, Puran Karo Jagdeesh ll
Magsar Chhati Hemant Ritu, Sanvat Chausadh Jaan l
Astuti Chaalisa Shivhi, Puran Keen Kalyaan ll

Shiva Legends

Shiva is considered as the destroyer of the universe, in Hinduism. Shiva is a complex god, in terms of nature and represents contradictory qualities, being the destroyer and the restorer simultaneously. There are numerous legends surrounding Lord Shiva and his powers. Here’re a few popular stories of Lord Shiva.

Story of Shiva Lingam – Why Shiva is worshipped in the Phallic Form
This is an interesting story regarding the worship of Lord Shiva in the phallic form. It is believed that once Brahma and Vishnu, the two deities of the Trinity, got into an argument regarding their supremacy. Lord Brahma declared himself to be more admired, being the creator. While the preserver, Vishnu, pronounced that he commanded more admiration. Just then a huge pillar of fire (lingam), called as Jyotirlinga, appeared in flames, before them. This Lingam enthralled both Brahma and Vishnu, with its hastily increasing size.

Legends of Lord Shiva With this incident, they forgot their quarrel and decided to find its size. Vishnu took the form of boar and went to the netherworld. Brahma assumed the form of a Swan and flew to the skies. However both of them were unsuccessful in completing the self-assumed tasks. At that time, Shiva appeared out of the lingam and acknowledged that he was the progenitor of both, Brahma and Vishnu. So, he should be worshipped in his phallic (lingam) form, and not in the anthropomorphic form.

Story of Shiva and the Hunter
Here is one more interesting story of Lord Shiva, showing his merciful nature. Once a hunter was wandering in a dense forest, to chase a deer and suddenly he found himself on the banks of river Kolidum, where he heard the roar of a tiger. In order to defend himself from the tiger, he climbed up a tree close by. The Tiger sat on the ground below the tree without the purpose to leave.

The huntsman stayed at the tree whole night and to keep himself awake, he plucked one leaf after another from the tree and threw it down. There was a Shiva Lingam under the tree and gracefully the tree turned out to be a ”bilva” tree (leaves of this tree are adored by Shiva). Without any knowledge, the huntsman had delighted the deity by pouring Bilva leaves all night. With the arrival of the sun, the hunter looked down and found the tiger gone. In its place, Lord Shiva was standing and he prostate before the lord. With Shiva’s blessings, he attained salvation from the bondage of the material world.

Different Names of Shiva

Lord Shiva is considered as the destroyer of the Universe as per the Hindu Mythology. Shiva is one of the most popular gods of the Hindus. Lord Shiva is a complex god like goddess Kali, being destroyer and restorer at the same time. Shiva is also known as Bhole Shankar, the innocent god, who gets appeased easily. Shiv Shambhu is also recognized as an ascetic, as he resides on Mount Kailash in meditation. God Shiv is worshipped usually in his phallic (Lingam) form. Special Worship of Shiva can be seen during the month of Saawan (July-August) of Hinduism. Lord Shiva is known by many different names. This list contains 108 names of Lord Shiva with their meanings:




One Who Fulfills Wishes at once




God with Numberless Attributes


Without Any error


of Infinite Vision


One Who Revels All the Time


Everlasting Lord


Lord of Terror


One Who Has an Eye in the Forehead


Kind Hearted Lord


Lord of Ghosts and Evil Beings


Lord of the Earth


Protector of the Ghosts


Master Of The Moon


One Who Has Moon As A Crest




Lord Of The Lords


Lord Of Affluence


Icon Of Meditation And Concentration


Lord Of Radiance


Ascetic Without Any Clothes


Difficult To Be Known




God Of River Ganga


Husband Of Girija (Parvati)


Acceptor Of Gunas


Master Of All


Remover Of Sins


Master Of The Universe


Redeemer From Afflictions


One Who Has Knotted Hair


One Who Bestows Peace


Lord Of Mount Kailash


Master Of Mount Kailash


Lotus-Eyed Lord




One WhoWears A Necklace Of Skulls


One Who Has The Missile (Khatvangin) In His Hand


One Who Wears Earrings


One Who Has An Eye In The Forehead


Lord Of The Lingas


Lord Of The Lingas


Maker Of The Three Worlds


One Who Takes Care Of The World


Exceptionally Intelligent


Greatest God


Lord Of All Times


Of Great Illusions


Great Victor Of Death


Great Storehouse


One Who Has Infinite Powers


Supreme of All Gods


The Almighty


Lord of the Lords


One Who Has Snakes as Ornaments


King of the Art of Dancing


Blue Necked Lord


Ever Beautiful


Lover of Dance


Originator of OM


One Who Protects Everyone


First among All Gods


Greatest Splendor


Lord of All Living Beings


One Who Has a Bow In His Hand


Originator of the Syllable of OM


Favorite of the Devotees


of Loving Vision


One Who Gives Nourishment


One Who Has Eyes like Flowers


Having Sun as the Eye


the Dreadful


One Who Has Eyes like Rudra


Eternal God


Eternal Lord


Preceptor of All


Always Chaste


Scorcher of All


Source of Everything


Lord of All Gods


One Who Bestows Prosperity


One Who Gives Happiness


Always Pure


One Who Has a Trident (Trishool)


of Magnificent Neck


Illuminator of the Vedas


One Who Has a Pure Body


Preceptor of Skanda


Lord of All Gods


Bestower of Happiness


Well Pleased


Having Gods As Attendants


Lord Of All Gods




One Who Spreads Illumination


Three-Eyed Lord


Master of All the Three Worlds


Enemy of Tripura


One Who Has a Trident in His Hands


Husband of Uma (Parvati)


Lord of Speech


One Who Has a Thunderbolt in His Hands


Granter of Boons


Creator of the Vedas


Supreme Lord of the Nether World


Wide-Eyed Lord s


Lord of the Universe


One Who Has Bull as His Mount

Story Related to Hanuman

May 20, 2011

Story Related to Hanuman

Hanuman“He [Hanuman] saw in that great city seven and eight story buildings inlaid with crystal and decorated with gold. Those houses of the Rakshasas shone brightly with their surfaces studded with vaidurya gems and decorated with strings of pearls.” (Valmiki Ramayana, Sundara Kand, 2.52-53)

saptabhaumāṣṭabhaumaiśca sa dadarśa mahāpurīm |

talaiḥ sphatikasaṃkīrṇaiḥ kārtasvaravibhūṣitaiḥ

vaiḍūryamaṇicitraiśca muktājālavibhūṣitaiḥ |

talaiḥ śuśubhire tāni bhavanānyatra rakśasām

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You work hard all your life, play by the rules, don’t bother anyone, and somehow manage to secure a high net worth full of valuable assets. When it comes time to protecting your wealth, you will go out of your way to ensure that the best possible care is taken and that all the potential pitfalls and areas prone to mistake are avoided. After all, it takes just one simple slip up, one move that is beyond the acceptable level of risk, to lose your entire fortune. One demoniac king in particular witnessed the devastating effects of improper wealth management, as one egregious transgression cost him everything, including the opulence of his kingdom. With all the wonderful palaces and their beautiful interior decorations adorning his city of Lanka, the king Ravana thought he was immune to loss. Yet due to his maltreatment of one particular individual, who also happened to be the source of all good fortune to not only him but to every single living entity in this world, everything would be lost.

!BkyHRS!Bmk~$(KGrHqYOKkIEsn!E07-YBLZBBurGl!~~_3Where does good fortune come from? Is not wealth rooted in our efforts of perseverance and unflinching dedication through adversity? If we take the risk of starting a new business, somehow manage to avoid having it be part of the ash heap of forgotten and failed ventures, and elevate it to a position of prominence in the world, should we not take some credit for the bountiful fruits that result? Surely there is reason to celebrate the rewards of material opulence that emerge from stiff competition in the business world, but taking ourselves to be the sole doers is a very short-sighted view. It is akin to the running back in football celebrating in the end zone after scoring a touchdown without acknowledging the hard work of the other ten members on the team. After all, if a running back had to face the defense, which consists of eleven players, all by himself, one against eleven, there would be no question of advancing to the goal line.

In a similar manner, success in any material venture requires the mutual cooperation of so many other entities, both large and small. A business that is successful at selling a product must have an appeal that makes the consuming public willing enough to peaceably and voluntarily part with their hard earned cash. Moreover, we know that many businessmen put in long hours at the office, play by the rules, and still don’t end up succeeding. Therefore there must be more to success and good fortune than just the actions of the doer. The actor in these cases is the individual, who gains his identity from the spiritual spark residing within the heart. The individual is the ishvara, or controller, of his body. He is the king of the castle. He decides what to do, where to go, and how to behave. But the other workings of the dwelling capable of action are out of the jurisdiction of the seemingly powerful and autonomous resident, the living entity. For instance, the spiritual spark has absolutely no control over the workings of the heart and the growth and appearance of the outer features. The heart, brain and vital organs operate involuntarily, as there is no conscious effort to keep them going.

“The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.27)

Bhagavad-gitaThe Vedas, the sacred texts coming down from time immemorial in India, accurately note that there are two spiritual entities residing within every life form. One spirit represents the individual entity, who is localized and very limited in his potencies. The other entity is all-pervading, for He actually resides within every heart, remaining connected through a giant network of consciousness. The individual spiritual spark is incapable of being privy to the consciousness of any other form of life unless and until other entities reveal information of their thought processes. Still, this sort of secondhand information isn’t the same as if one actually got to experience the events described. Even with the individual’s own experiences, consciousness is not perfect, as memories quickly fade. We know that we survived within the womb of our mother for nine months, but we have no memory of this time in our life.

“The Blessed Lord said: Many, many births both you and I have passed. I can remember all of them, but you cannot, O subduer of the enemy!” (Lord Krishna, Bg. 4.5)

The all-pervading soul, the one that has a unique, non-different instance in each life form, is conscious of not only every individual’s current life’s activities, but of every act that has ever been performed by any form of life existing past, present and future. In addition, this spiritual entity, which is known as the Paramatma, or Supersoul, is wholly responsible for distributing the results of action. Hence when we see two people train equally as hard for a specific race, with one person finishing the race more quickly than the other, we can understand that the worldly results and effects are due solely to the influence of the Supersoul and not the individual. As such, a wise man, one whose angle of vision has been purified through the acquisition of knowledge and dedication to the lotus feet of the original master of the universe, understands that all the assets he acquires are due simply to the grace of the most powerful spiritual entity, the owner of the divine consciousness.

Lakshmi-NarayanaThe Supersoul, though a direct but subtle manifestation of the original Personality of Godhead, doesn’t personally take part in any of the activities of the individual or in the distribution of outcomes. Rather, the Supersoul directs other entities, empowered living beings, to take charge of controlling various elements like rain, water, fire, wealth, punishment, etc. As far as fortune goes, no one is more wealthy than the Supreme Lord. Since He is married to the goddess of fortune, He is addressed by names such as Madhava and Shripati. Though His wife, who is known as Lakshmi Devi in the spiritual sky, controls all good fortune, her benedictions are not intended to be used unwisely. One who takes himself to be the doer and his worldly objects as his own is certainly not acting under intelligence. If he follows such a mindset and continues to ignore the source of all his wealth, he will gradually slip into a hellish condition. Such was the case with the demoniac king of Lanka many thousands of years ago.

Ravana, as a powerful Rakshasa leader, had tremendous opulence in his kingdom. We know many of the details of his extravagant position from the Ramayana, the beautiful, transcendental poem compiled by Maharishi Valmiki. The descriptions of Ravana’s kingdom and his palaces are found in the Sundara-kanda, or the book of beauty, of the Ramayana. Upon first glance, it may appear that this section is titled as such because of its inclusion of the descriptions of the interior of Ravana’s kingdom. But the beauty in this particular book lies solely in the feats of strength and exhibitions of undying love shown by Shri Hanuman, the servant of Lord Rama. As many waves as there are in the ocean are how many non-different incarnations of the person most of us refer to as God exist. His original form is described as exquisitely attractive and providing of unmatched transcendental bliss. Hence in the Vedic tradition He is known as Krishna. As Lord Rama, the Supreme Absolute Truth, the original Personality of Godhead, took on His warrior prince form, which was not devoid of any of the opulences belonging to the Supreme Person, including the ability to enchant others. Hanuman was one of the enchanted, as he dedicated his life to Rama as soon as he met the Lord. Rama needed some help from Hanuman, as His wife Sita Devi had gone missing. Just as Krishna, who is also known as Narayana in the spiritual world, had descended to the phenomenal world as Rama, Lakshmi had come as Sita Devi, the beautiful princess of Videha. As the most fortunate individual in any situation He finds himself in, Rama could not be married to any woman except Sita.

Sita and RamaThe miscreants are always jealous of God’s power and supreme position. In fact, this envy is the root cause of the existence of the material world. Ravana was unique in that his envy was at the highest level, for he was tasked with playing the role of God’s greatest enemy prior to his descent from the spiritual sky. Every individual is a spirit soul at the core, so by constitution everyone is a lover of God. When the loving propensity remains dormant or forgotten, attachment to worldly objects and opulence ensues. For as long as the delusion remains, the individual soul stays separated in terms of consciousness from the supreme loveable object. In reality, there is never any separation even after the descent of the purified soul from the spiritual sky. The Supersoul always accompanies the individual soul, but in the conditioned state, one takes their wealth as the object needing the most management and protection, while neglecting their actual valuable relationship with the divine entity residing within the heart.

Envious of Rama’s position, Ravana hatched a scheme to kidnap His wife. Rama is antaryami, or the supreme witness, so He knows all that goes on. As such, no one can cause Him any harm without His sanction. He is the Supersoul after all, so the ability that man is so proud of is actually sourced to the Supreme Spirit. Ravana’s taking of Sita set the wheels in motion for his demise. What’s ironic is that he already had tremendous opulence in his kingdom. He even had hundreds of beautiful wives he could cavort with regularly. Yet the benedictions provided by Lakshmi weren’t enough; he had to have her for himself. He had all the wealth in the world, and he protected it very well, but due to his maltreatment of Sita Devi, his fortune would be lost.

Hanuman bravely made his way to Lanka as part of a reconnaissance mission performed for Rama’s benefit. Hanuman’s task was to find Sita, and in order to succeed, he had to infiltrate Lanka. Deciding to assume a stature the size of a cat, Hanuman prepared to enter the majestic city. From the above referenced passage, we see that Hanuman saw seven and eight story mansions whose floors were bedecked with jewels and gold. It is one thing to have a high rise apartment or office building, but it is another to have the floors and surfaces fully inlaid with the most valuable jewels and crystals. This shows that Ravana indeed had tremendous wealth in his kingdom, opulence that he was very keen on protecting. His island was far away from any mainland, so its strategic location provided protection against enemy attack.

HanumanBut Hanuman was no ordinary enemy to Ravana. The demon had managed his wealth very well, but he neglected to take care of the source of all good fortune, that princess staying as a prisoner in the ashoka garden. Sita Devi was not treated very well in Ravana’s kingdom, as she was given an ultimatum that if she didn’t agree to become Ravana’s wife after a certain period of time, she would be killed. In addition, Ravana’s female Rakshasa associates were instructed to instill fear into her and harass her throughout the many days and nights she spent in separation from Rama. Because of his offenses, no amount of wealth management could protect Ravana from losing his assets which he originally had no claim to.

The tremendous opulence of the city was also meant to serve as a deterrent for anyone who thought of attacking. The spiritually disinterested and ignorant always take their mundane wealth and education to be indications of a highlife, one that is superior to the religious systems adopted by those considered destitute and poverty stricken. What the materially intoxicated don’t realize is that the highest class transcendentalist, one who understands the workings of the soul and the temporary nature of matter, sees excessive opulence not used for a tangible purpose as the greatest punishment. Ravana’s palaces were part of an illusion; they masked his high level of ignorance in regards to the supremacy of God and the temporary nature of life. By showing off their opulence, the demoniac hope to instill fear and awe in the saintly class.

Hanuman in LankaHanuman was impressed by the decoration of the city, but this didn’t stop him from proceeding forward. No amount of illusion can derail the train of spiritual freedom that is bhakti-yoga. Hanuman would eventually make his way to Sita, give her Rama’s ring, and then return back to Rama and inform Him of Sita’s location. But just before leaving Lanka, Hanuman gave Ravana a parting shot, a hint of what was to come. After Ravana set Hanuman’s tail on fire, the monkey-warrior decided to make the best use of the situation by expanding to a massive size and using his tail to burn the city. When Hanuman entered Lanka, there was a facade of opulence masking the demoniac nature of the king and his citizens. Upon leaving, Hanuman shore the city of its brilliance, exposing the Rakshasas for who they were, spiritually poverty-stricken individuals wholly deluded by illusion. Ravana’s high-story palaces fell like houses of cards. Rama would march to Lanka with millions of Hanuman’s closest friends and defeat Ravana and the Rakshasas. Sita would be rescued, and all would end well. Wherever Sita is well-protected and kindly served, there is never any chance of losing the most valuable asset one can attain in this life, love for God.

Lord Shiva, Shiva, God Shiva, All Shiva, Shambhu, Shankar, Shiv, Shiva

May 5, 2011

Lord Shiva


Lord Shiva, Shiva, God Shiva, All Shiva, Shambhu, Shankar, Shiv, Shiva

His name means The Auspicious One. He is Pure Consciousness, Chidanandaroopa – the form of joy that pure consciousness takes. He is the oldest god known to mankind, and more interestingly is perhaps the oldest living god, tracing a genealogy of worship that is easily five thousand years old. Naturally, therefore, he is described as the God with no lineage. Like Yahweh, who may be his only contemporary, his name was not to be taken in vain. In fact his name was not to be uttered at all. He is the howler, Rudra, when he first appears to us in the Rig Veda. He is Raudra Brahman, the wild God of the Hymns. He is also Nataraja, the elegant King of the Dance, and in fact of all the fine arts. He is the Lord of yoga, the culmination of the universe, the cause of its dissolution – yet always transcending such petty events.

To attempt an overview of Shiva in one essay is an act of extreme idiocy. I shall therefore seek to communicate some of the flavors that are associated with Shiva, trusting that time will be vouchsafed us to explore him in detail as we grow as a web-site. Shiva has been around for so long that entire encyclopedias on him are necessary to get just a bird’s eye view. This god is perhaps the single most important influence on the arts and culture of the Indian subcontinent. In a very real sense, you find Shiva all over the country, he is in fact the country, so closely interwoven are the myths of his actions with the culture and geography of the land. So strong is Shiva’s hold on the imagination that all local area gods which seek to gain in prestige, or are sought to be subverted to the main body of the Hindu religion, end up being described as various manifestations of Shiva. If the god lives on a hill, a forest or a cave then there is no way he escapes being but one more aspect of Mahadeva – the great god who loves to linger in hills, forests and caves. This is what has happened to Khandoba in Maharashtra, Skanda in Tamil Nadu and Ayyapan in Kerala to give the three most common examples. In fact another manner of accommodating these local religions was to decree the gods to be sons of Shiva.

The Rig Vedic Shiva was known as Rudra. He was a grim mysterious god, living on the fringes of Vedic society, a god who was so much of an outsider that he was not even entitled to a share in the fire sacrifices. Yet the Vedic pantheon was clearly in awe of this self sufficient Hunter-God. The hymns praise him in all-too-visible anxiety that his strange powers may be aroused, and his name as mentioned was never to be invoked. “We live in dread, and pray that you pass us by”, quavers the Rig Vedic verse. Yet it immediately goes on to add that He is the Awakener, who when touched by pleas, grants a thousand kinds of balm that heal.

In a sense Rudra was too much a part of the Life-Force, too acutely felt to be just a god. Rudra punishes Prajapati for the first primordial act of incest and in a sense he is the defender of Dharma ever since. He is also a slayer of a brahmana, Prajapati, in the service of a higher morality, a fact that has caused much anguish to medieval commentators who were busy trying to show brahmanas were gods on earth as well as in heaven. Rudra-Shiva is thus always about living an authentic life, with utter disdain for convention.

This Vedic manifestation of Shiva was thought to be the earliest known(1500 B.C.) before he became the great God of later Hinduism. Then came the discovery of a few seals from the Harrapan civilization (2750 B.C.) and the picture changed completely. The seals show a figure who is so manifestly Shiva that it had to be acknowledged as such, even though it smashed the nice theory that was emerging of invading Aryans destroying the cities of the Indus valley. It is known as the proto-Shiva seal. However, for those who can read the signs and can decode the evidence, this figure is far more important.

He is surrounded by animals, which directly links him up with the Rudra-Pashupatinatha of the Vedas. The tiger, the elephant, and the bull depicted here, all play prominent parts in the Shiva mythology. Even more importantly he is shown in a typical yogic posture, which would indicate the knowledge of the ancient art.

This posture is the Udharva Linga posture (and not the ithyphallic posture as is so easily assumed) and it indicates the triumph over the sexual impulse.. The balls of the feet press into the sacral region behind and beneath the testicles as is shown. The lingam is erect and it presses into the navel, signifying the complete conquest of the sexual energy. He is now Udharva Retas, “he whose semen flows upwards”. In the yogic system when you do not dissipate semen through ejaculation, it transforms itself into a food for the brain called ojas, vital energy, and is the source of the creative force that alone can provide you with the fuel to break through into enlightenment. This posture is commonly practiced even today and the udharva linga experience is not uncommon for many spiritual practitioners. Even the founder of Kriya yoga has left an account of precisely this linga entering the navel and the subsequent freedom from all thoughts and desire of lust.

Akshaya Tritiya

May 5, 2011

Akshaya Tritiya

The Golden Day

Krishna and Sudama

Hindus believe in the theory of “mahurats” or auspicious timings in every step in life – be it to begin a new venture or making an important purchase. Akshaya Tritiya is one such momentous occasion, which is considered one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu Calendar. It is believed, any meaningful activity started on this day would be fruitful.

Once a Year
Akshaya Tritiya falls on the third day of the bright half of Vaishakh month (April-May), when the Sun and Moon are in exaltation; they are simultaneously at their peak of brightness, which happens only once every year.

Holy Day
Akshaya Tritiya, also known as “Akha Teej”, is traditionally the birthday of Lord Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. People conduct special Pujas on this day, bathe in holy rivers, make a charity, offer barley in a sacred fire, and worship Lord Ganesha & Devi Lakshmi on this day.

The Golden Link
The word “Akshaya” means imperishable or eternal – that which never diminishes. Initiations made or valuables bought on this day are considered to bring success or good fortune. Buying gold is a popular activity on Akshaya Tritiya, as it is the ultimate symbol of wealth and prosperity. Gold and gold jewelry bought and worn on this day signify never diminishing good fortune. Indians celebrate weddings, begin new business ventures, and even plan long journeys on this day.

Myths Around Akshaya Tritiya

The day also marks the beginning of the “SatyaYug” or the Golden Age – the first of the four Yugas. In the Puranas, the holy Hindu scriptures, there is a story that says that on this day of Akshay Tritiya, Veda Vyasa along with Ganesha started writing the great epic Mahabharata. Ganga Devi or Mother Ganges also descended on earth on this day.

According to another legend, during the time of the Mahabhrata, when the Pandavas were in exile, Lord Krishna, on this day, presented them an ‘Akshaya Patra,’ a bowl which would never go empty and produce an unlimited supply of food on demand.

The Krishna-Sudama Legend

Perhaps, the most famous of the Akshaya Tritiya stories is the legend of Lord Krishna and Sudama, his poor Brahmin childhood friend. On this day, as the tale goes, Sudama came over to Krishna’s palace to request him for some financial help. As a gift for his friend, Sudama had nothing more than a handful of beaten rice or ‘poha’. So, he was utterly ashamed to give it to Krishna, but Krishna took the pouch of ‘poha’ from him and relished having it. Krishna followed the principle of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ or ‘the guest is like God’ and treated Sudama like a king. His poor friend was so overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality shown by Krishna, that he could not ask for the financial favor and came home empty handed. Lo and behold! When he reached his place, Sudama’s old hut was transformed into a palace! He found his family dressed in royal attire and everything around was new and expensive. Sudama knew that it was a boon from Krishna, who blessed him with more than the wealth he actually intended to ask for. Therefore, Akshaya Tritiya is associated with material gains and wealth acquisition.

Bright Births
It is also believed that people born during this time shine bright in life. Many luminaries were born during this period: Basaveshwara born on May 4, Ramanujacharya and Adi Shankaracharya on May 6, Swami Chinmayananda on May 8 and Lord Buddha on May 16. Akshaya Tritiya is also celebrated as the birthday of Lord Parashurama, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu.


May 5, 2011


* Peaks
Famous “Kailash Peak’ near Manasrovar in Tibet.
“Chhota Kailash”, also in Tibet.
Another “Kailash Peak” in Gangotri region.
“Kinner Kailash” in Kinnaur Valley, Himachal Pradesh.
“Neelknath Peak” near Badrinath.
“Shivling Peak” near Gaumukh-source of Ganga.
“Shrikant Mahadev” peak in Himachal Pradesh.
“Kedar Dome and Peak” in Gangotri glacier region.
“Dhaulagiri Peak” in Nepal.
“Mani Mahesh Peak” beyond Chamba in Himachal Pradesh.
“Ganesh Himal Peak” in Nepal.
“Nandi Hills” near Bangalore.

* Lakes and Kunds
“Parvati Kund” near Kailash Parbat, Tibet.
“Parvati Kund” near Mani Mahesh.
“Gauri Kund” near Kedarnath.
“Kedar Tal” in Garhwal.
* Rivers/Streams
“Parvati River” in Kulu Valley.
“Kedar Ganga” in Gangotri town.
“Madhyamaheshwar Ganga” in Garhwal.
“Rudra Paryag” in Garhwal.

* Caves
“Patal Bhuvesneshwar Cave” in Kumaon.
“Jata Shankar Cave” in Pachmari, Madhya Pradesh.
“Mahadev Cave” in Pachmarhi.

* Natural Shivlings
“Ice Shivling” in Amarnath, Kashmir.
“Swayambhu Shivling” in Kedarnath temple.
A verically tall more than 100 feet high natural rock near Kinner Kailash called Shivling locally.
Shivling in Swayambhu temple in Nepal.


There is famous Rigvedic Verse that says “Ekam Sat ” that is “There is one Being, the sages call him by many names.” The God (Parmeshwar) has three deities who carry on the world .This is Known as Holy Trinity. Brahma- the creator, Vishnu – the perpetuator of life and Shiva (Mahesh ) -the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of evil. Rig Veda refer Shiva as Rudra as in its following verse . “We Worship Tryambaka (Rudra) , Who spread Fragrance and Increases Nourishment , May He release me, like the cucumber from its stem, From Mortal Life, But not From Immorality. “(Rig Veda Mandal VII Sukta 59 and Mantra 12)
The Yajurveda describes Shiva as ascetic warrior Whose robe is of Deer Skin and he carries Trishul.
According to the verse Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram the life is described as having three facets Truth (Satyam), Good (Shivam) and the Beautiful (Sundaram).
According to the older scriptures, He has three places of his residence. One is Kailash Parvat another is Lohit Giri under which Brahamputra flows and third is Muzwan Parvat.
The Amarnath Cave has special significance .
The Legend about the importance of Amarnath Cave is as follows :-
This is The Cave which was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji. The story goes like this. Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and when he started wearing the beads of heads ( Mund Mala). Bhole Shankar replied when ever you are born I add one more head in my beads. Maa Parvati said, ” My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this .” Bhole Shankar replied that it is due to Amar Katha .”
Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told that secret. For long Shiva ji continued postponing . Finally on consistent demand from Maa Parvati he made up his mind to tell the immortal secret . He started for lonely place where no living being could listen it. He choose Amarnath Cave. In preparation to that he left his Nandi ( The Bull which he used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon). At Chandanwari he released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of Lake Sheshnag he released the snakes. He decided to leave his son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill ). At Panchtarni, Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which make living being. He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Shivaji and Maa Parvati had Tandav Dance. After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa. Lord Shiva takes his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and concentrate . To ensure that no living being is able to hear the Immortal Tale, He created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave. After this he started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati. But as a matter of chance one egg which was lying beneath the Deer skin remained protected. It is believed to be non living and more over it was protected by Shiva -Parvati Asan (Bed). The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal having listened the secret of immortality (Amar Katha).
Many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).

The trek to Amarnath, in the month of sharavan ( July–August) has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of an Ice Stalagmite, which waxes and wanes with the Moon’s cycle. By its side are fascinating, two more Ice Lingams, that of Maa Parvati and of their son, Ganesha .


Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being the most venerated yet least visited of the world’s major holy places. Soaring above 22,000 feet, the mountain is the supremely sacred site of four religions and billions of peoplePilgrims to Kailash, after the difficult journey getting there, are then confronted with the equally arduous task of circumambulating the sacred peak. This walking around the mountain (clockwise for the Buddhists, counter-clockwise for Bon adherents) is known as a Kora, or Parikrama, and normally takes three days. In hopes of gaining extra merit or psychic powers however, some pilgrims will vary the tempo of their movement. A hardy few, practicing a secret breathing technique known as Lung-gom, will power themselves around the mountain in only one day (the author’s method). Others will take two to three weeks for the Kora by making full body prostrations the entire way. It is believed that a pilgrim who completes 108 journeys around the mountain is assured enlightenment. Most pilgrims to Kailash will also take a short plunge in the nearby, highly sacred (and very cold) Lake Manosaravar. The word ‘manas’ means mind or consciousness; the name Manosaravar means Lake of Consciousness and Enlightenment. Adjacent to Manosaravar is Rakas Tal or Rakshas, the Lake of Demons. Pilgrimage to this great sacred mountain and these two magical lakes is a life changing experience and an opportunity to view some of the most magical scenery on the entire planet. Kailash abode of Lord Shiva. The Jains call the mountain Astapada and believe it to be the place where Rishaba, the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained liberation.




Mount Agung, Bali abode of Mt. Agung is the abode of Batara Gunung Agung (Mahadewa)


For Hindus, the name of the mountain is Sivan Adi Padham, because it was the world-creative dance of the god Shiva that left the giant footprint (5 feet 7 inches by 2 feet 6 inches).