Sage Narad continued
with the description of various holy places and said--- "A pilgrim must
visit Dharma Teerth, which is named after the lord of death--Dharma. Once upon a
time Dharmaraj had performed an austere penance at that place this is the reason
why it became famous as Dharma Teerth. By visiting Dharma Teerth, a man
liberated all his ancestors up to seventh generation. After that a pilgrim
should go to Kalap-forest, Saugandhik-forest, Suvarna-Dhumavanti respectively.
All the above mentioned holy places are capable of giving salvation."
Describing about the virtues of taking a holy dip in river Kalini (Yamuna) sage Narad said --
A person who takes a holy dip in Yamuna becomes liberated from all his sorrows. The virtue acquired by taking a bath in Yamuna is greater than paying visits to various holy places like Pushkar, Kurukshetra, Brahmavarta and Kashi.Taking a dip in Yamuna also helps in the fulfillment of all the desires of a man. Although, different rituals have been attributed to various yugas like Saytayuga--penance, Treta--Knowledge, Dwapar--yagya and Kaliyug--Donation, yet virtue of taking a holy dip in Yamuna transcends even time."
"Although the whole stretch of river Yamuna is believed to be holy, yet Yamuna flowing near Mathura holds special importance because of her deep association with lord Krishna."Narad narrated a tale to prove the significance of taking a bath in Yamuna.
"During Satyayuga there lived a Vaishya named Hemakundal. He had earned lot of wealth by dint of hard work. Although he was very rich yet happiness deluded him, as he had no progeny. He was worried as to who would inherit his property after his death.
"In course of time, Hemakundal attained old age and after realizing about the impermanence of the world indulged himself in virtuous deeds. He was blessed with two sons--Shrikundal & Vikundal. When both his sons grew up, Hemakundal went into the forest to do penance."
"Shri Kundal and Hemakundal squandered the whole wealth which their father had earned so painstakingly. Both of them were of loose moral character and had illicit relationship with many prostitutes. In a very short time they became poor and both of them starved to death. When the yamdoots reached yamloka after taking their souls, Yamraj ordered--'Put Shri Kundal in Raurav hell but send Vikundal to the heaven.' While Vikundal was being taken to the heaven he asked one of the yamdoots--'The sins committed by my brother and me were almost identitical then why is my brother being sent to hell while I am being sent to heaven.'
The yamdoot replied-You are being metted out this special treatment on account of your virtues acquired by bathing twice in river Yamuna.There was a brahmin friend of your's named Swamitra.You had accompanied him to Mathura and twice taken bath in the holy Yamuna. By the virtue of the first bath you became liberated from all your sins, while the second bath helped you in attaining to the heaven.Vikundal requested the yamdoot to allow his brother to accompany him to heaven. Yamdoot replied that his brother could accompany him to the heaven provided he donated all his virtues to him.
Vikundal agreed to donate his virtues to his elder brother for the sake of his liberation. This way, both Shrikundal and Vikundal attained to the heaven.
KAPARDISHWAR & GAYA
On being asked by
Yudhishthir about the grandeur of holy places like Kashipuri, Kapardishwar &
Gaya. Narad said ---
Just as Lord Mahadev is supreme among all the deities, in the same manner Kashipuri holds a significant status among all the places of pilgrimage. Hence an individual should make it a point to visit Kashi once in his life time. The famous Shiva linga Kopardishwar is installed at Kashi and is said to fulfill all the desires of a man. Performance of various rituals at Kashi liberates a man from all his sins-all his flaws are eliminated automatically just by residing in Kashi.
A devotee who regularly practices meditation in the temple of Lord Kapordishwar attains Yogasiddhi within six months. Worshipping Lord Kapardishwar after taking a holy dip in Pishach-mochan kunda liberates a man from gravest of sin like 'Brahmahatya', etc. Gaya is considered to be a sacrosanct place of pilgrimage and various rituals for the pacification of the souls of dead ancestors are performed here. Anybody who offers Pindadaan and tarpan at Gaya not only liberates his ancestors but also himself. There is a very famous Banyan tree named Akshayvat at Gaya. Gaya is situated at the bank of river Falgu.
EMBODIMENT OF SRIHARI
According to Sutji, all
the Puranas are nothing but the mediums through which Sri Hari manifests
himself---Brahma Puran is said to be the Forhead of Srihari, Padma Puran is said
to be the 'heart' of Srihari, Vishnu Puran is said to be the 'right arm' of
Srihari. Shiva Puran is said to be the 'left arm' of Srihari. Shrimad Bhagawat
is said to be His 'thigh', Narad Puran is said to be His 'navel', Markendeya
Puran is said to be His 'right-foot'. Agni Puran is said to be His 'left foot',
Bhavish Puran is said to be His 'right-knee', Brahma Vaivratapuran is said to be
His 'left-knee'. Linga Puran is said to be His 'right ankle', Varaha Puran is
said to be His 'left ankle' Skanda Puran is said to be the hair on the body of
all the Puranas being manifestation of different parts of Sri Hari's body are
very sacred and capable of bestowing salvation.
NARRATES THE TALES OF SRI RAMA'S RETURN FROM LANKA
Once, Sages requested
Sutji to describe about Sri Ram's return from Lanka. Sutji narrated the same
tale, which Sheshnag had once told Vatsyayan.Sheshnag said--After the killing of
demon king Ravan, Sri Ram appointed Vibhishan as the king of Lanka. He then
decided to return to Ayodhya on Pushpak-Viman, which Vibhishan had presented to
him. He along with Sita, Laxman, Sugreev and Hanuman boarded the aircraft and
flew towards Ayodhya.The earth looked beautiful from such a high altitude and
Sri Ram was continuously describing about the importance of various places over
which the aircraft flew. As the aircraft was about to enter the airspace of
Ayodhya, Sri Ram recognized Bharat, who was living at Nandigram at that time.
Bharat had vowed not to enter Ayodhya till the return of Sri Ram, hence he
stayed at Nandigram situated at the outskirts of Ayodhya awaiting Sri Ram's
return. He led an austere life as the result of which he had become weak and
On seeing Bharat, Sri Ram instructed Hanuman to inform him about his (Ram's) arrival. Hanuman went to the hermitage of Bharat and informed him about Sri Ram's arrival. Bharat's joy knew no bound and he expressed his desire to reward Hanuman for bringing such auspicious news. Bharat then accompanied Hanuman and went to meet Sri Ram.Sri Ram's heart was filled with grief when he saw Bharat, who looked like a hermit in his 'Valkal' and 'Kaupin'. On the other hand Bharat cursed himself for being the cause of Sri Ram's miseries. Bharat asked for Sri Ram's forgiveness and said---'O Lord! You had to go into exile only because of me. I can never be absolved of my sin.'
Sri Ram consoled him and after taking Bharat into his embrace enquired about his welfare. He told Bharat that he had to undergo the sufferings of exile because of his own destiny.'You are not at fault. Don't curse yourself for my misery.' said Sri Ram. At last all of them including Bharat boarded Pushpak Viman and the aircraft took- off for Ayodhya.Continuing with Sri Ram's tale, Sheshnag said--When Sumanth brought the news of Sri Ram's arrival at Ayodhya, people danced in joy, Preparations started being made for Sri Ram's grand reception. The whole city of Ayodhya was decorated with rows of lighted lamps.
Sri Ram and Sita alighted from the Pushpak Viman and both of them were carried in a palanquin to the palace. People stood in queues on both sides of the road with folded hands. Sri Ram blessed them by raising his hand.First of all Ram went to meet Kaikayi who was full of remorse and guilt. Sri Ram consoled her and then went to meet Sumitra to pay his obeisance to her. At last, he went to meet his own mother--Kaushalya, who was dying to see him. Kaushalya blessed Sri Ram, Sita and Laxman. Bharat then instructed the royal astrologers to decide upon an auspicious moment for Sri Ram's coronation. Thus Sri Ram became the king of Ayodhya. During his reign peace and prosperity prevailed everywhere. People were virtuous and there was no sign of sin.
THE MIGHTY DEMON
People of Ayodhya lived
peacefully during Sri Ram's reign until one fateful day when they were struck by
a bad news--Sri Ram had abandoned Sita after a Washerman leveled an unfair
charge against her character. Such was the greatness of Sri Ram that opinion of
each and every individual was given due respect irrespective of his position and
status. One day, Sage Agastya arrived in the royal court of Sri Ram. After the
formal Salutations were over. Sage Agastya complimented Sri Ram for killing
Sri Ram asked Agastya--'Who was Ravana-- the tormentor of deities? I am anxious to know about the origin of his whole clan."
Sage Agastya replied--Vishrava was the grandson of Lord Brahma. His father was sage Pulastya. Vishrava had two wives--Mandakini and Kaikasi. Mandakani's son was Kubera while Kaikasi was the mother of Ravana, Kumbhakarna and Vibhishan. Kubera ruled over Lanka. One day, Kubera, came to see his parents boarded on his aircraft--Pushpak Viman. After he returned to Lanka, Ravana, who was very much impressed by Kubera's royal appearances asked Kaikasi--"Who was this fellow? From where did he acquire such an amazing aircraft."
Kaikasi revealed to Ravana that the guest was none other than his step-brother Kubera. She said--"Kubera is the son of your step mother--Mandakini. He has made his mother proud by his conduct but I am ashamed of you, because of your inconsequential existence. You are no better than a worm."
Ravan decided to prove his mother wrong by acquiring insurmountable power and authority. Ravana went to the forest and performed an austere penance for ten thousand years by standing on one foot. He fixed his gaze at the sun and never for a moment did he remove his gaze from it. Kumbhakarna and Vibhishan also engaged themselves in austere penance. At last, Lord Brahma became pleased and blessed Ravana with a vast kingdom. Ravan then started tormenting his step-brother Kumbhakarna. He snatched Kubera's Pushpak Viman and drove him out of Lanka. Ravan then turned his attention towards the deities and drove them out of heaven. The deities went to seek the help of Lord Brahma who in turn took them to Lord Shiva. Even Lord Shiva was clueless about the means by which the indomitable Ravana could be subdued. Ultimately all of them including Lord Shiva went to Lord Vishnu and sought his help.
Lord Vishnu assured them by saying ---
"I shall take incarnation as Ram at a place called Ayodhya. Presently, Ayodhya is being ruled by Dashrath, who inspite of having three queens, does not have any son. I shall manifest myself as Ram. Don't worry! I shall eliminate the menace called Ravana." Sage Agastya also told Sri Ram that Ravana belonged to the caste called 'Brahmrakshas'. This way, Sage Agastya after having finished his narration looked at Sri Ram anticipating further queries.
ADVISES SRIRAM TO PERFORM ASHWAMEDHA YAGYA
Sri Ram requested sage
Agastya to tell about the means by which he could become liberated from the sins
of killing brahmins. Sage Agastya advised him to perform Ashwamedha-yagya. He
also described the rituals of performing Ashwamedha Yagya--- "Get a horse
of white colour and after worshipping it on Vaishakh Purnima leave it to wander
freely. Tie a piece of paper on its forehead on which your name and other
details are mentioned. Soldiers should follow that horse wherever it goes. You
should fight a battle against any king who dares to stop the horse. You should
lead a celibate life till the horse returns back to the same place from where it
had been let loose. It is customary for the performer of Ashwamedha yagya to
indulge himself in benevolent deeds till the completion of Ashwamedha
yagya." Sri Ram agreed to perform Ashwamedha yagya. He went to the seashore
accompanied by numerous sages. He then cultivated a vast expanse of land with
the help of a golden plough. A large oblation site was constructed and thus
began Ashwamedha yagya under the supervision of Vashishth.
HORSE IS LET LOOSE
As per the advice of
Sage Vashishth, Sri Ram instructed his soldiers to bring a white-horse. A white
parasol was fixed on its back and the horse was decorated with colourful
clothes. The horse was then let loose and the faithful soldiers of Sri Ram
followed it wherever the horse went.A gold-sheet was hanged in the horse's neck
and upon which was inscribed--This horse belongs to Sri Ram--the son of
Dasharath. Anybody who dares to stop this horse will meet ruthless punishment.
Shatrughan followed the horse as per the instruction of his elder brother -- Sri Ram. Bharat and Pushkal also accompanied him. A huge army led by Kalnemi was marching behind the horse.
FASTENS THE HORSE
Some of the kings tried
to stop the horse, but were defeated by Shatrughan. This way the horse continued
to move ahead without any problem till it reached the bank of river Ganga.It was
early morning and Lav after noticing the presence of horse become curious. He
went near the horse and tried to read the inscription hanging down it's neck. He
made fun of the might of Sri Ram and fastened the horse.The soldiers tried to
release the horse but Lav severed their arms. They returned to Shatrughan and
narrated the whole incident to him.
VANQUISHES THE WHOLE ARMY
extremely furious after seeing the condition of his injured soldiers. He
instructed Kalnemi to teach Lav a lesson. Kalnemi confronted Lav with a huge
army and a ferocious battle took place. Lav managed to kill Kalnemi, which
created havoc in the rival's army. The surviving soldiers tried to hold their
ground but were forced to flee on account of a fierce assault from Lav.
Shatrughan then ordered Pushkal to fight Lav but he became unconscious after being hit by Lav's arrow. Now, Shatrughan's anger crossed all limits and he ordered Hanuman to kill Lav.Hanuman uprooted a large tree and tried to hit Lav, but Lav cut that tree into hundred pieces with a volley of arrows. Lav then released many arrows in the direction of Hanuman. Hanuman fought valiantly but ultimately he fell down unconscious.
When Shatrughan learnt
about Hanuman's fate he was infuriated and went to fight Lav. But when he saw a
tender looking child in front of him he was surprised. Shatrughan asked --
'O brave child! Who are you! Who is your father?'
But Lav was not interested in his irrelevant queries and challenged him for a duel. Shatrughan was left with no other option but to fight. A tremendous battle was fought between them. Shatrughan released volleys of arrow towards Lav but all of them were neutralized by him. For a brief time Shatrughan lost his consciousness. After regaining his consciousness, he aimed his most lethal weapon towards Lav. The arrow hit Lav and he fell down unconscious. Lav's companions went and informed Sita about the whole incident. Kush came forward to fight against Sri Ram's army. When he reached the battlefield he saw Lav who was held captive by the enemy's army's. By that time, Lav had regained his consciousness and after seeing Kush he somehow managed to free himself from the clutches of his captors.
Now, both the brothers launched a fierce attack on the enemy. The whole army of Sri Ram started running helter and shelter. It did not take much time for Lav and Kush to vanquish the whole army. All the great warriors like Hanuman, Sugreeva, Pushkal, Angad Veermani and even Shatrughan were either held captive or injured in the battle.Both the brothers fastened Hanuman and Sugreeva with ropes and took them to Sita. Sita immediately recognized Hanuman and Sugreeva. She instructed both her sons to set them free as well as the horse. Lav and Kush followed the instruction of Sita and released everybody from their captivity. Sita then whispered---'May all the dead soldiers become alive.' Her words came true and all the dead soldiers became alive once again. Shatrughan regained his consciousness too.
ARMY RETURNS TO AYODHYA
Shatrughan decided to
return to Ayodhya. He instructed Sumati to make all the necessary arrangements
for the safe return of the Caravan, which comprised not only of Sri Ram's army
but also of all the defeated kings and their vanquished armies. When Sri Ram
came to know about their arrival, he sent Laxman to receive them. Laxman
received the victorious army with all the honour and the all of them came to the
palace. Sri Ram curiously asked Sumati about everything that had happened.
Sumati paraded all the vanquished kings who had made the mistake of stopping the horse-- Sumad, Sabahu, Daman, Satyavan, Surath, etc. He then narrated the brave deed of Lav and Kush.He also revealed how mighty warriors like Hanuman, Sugreeva Shatrughan etc had been defeated by both of them.
RAM SENDS LAXMAN TO BRING SITA
Sage Valmiki was present
in Ayodhya to attend the Ashwamedha yagya. Sri Ram asked him about the identity
of the two children--Lav and Kush, Valmiki said --- Sita was pregnant at the
time you had abandoned her. I gave her refuge in my hermitage where she gave
birth to twins--Lav and Kush. Both the children were brought up in my hermitage
with love and care. I taught them all the sacred texts and scriptures and made
them masters of various weaponries. So, Lav and Kush are your sons. You must
bring Sita back to Ayodhya with due honour, because she is pure and chaste.
Moreover your whole army owe its life to her."
Sri Ram's heart was filled with grief. He instructed Laxman to bring Sita along with Lav and Kush. Laxman went to Valmiki's hermitage and requested Sita to return to Ayodhya. Sita refused to return but sent Lav and Kush along with Laxman. When Sri Ram found that only Lav and Kush had come, he once again sent Laxman to bring Sita. Laxman followed his instruction and went to Valmiki's hermitage for the second time.Meanwhile, Valmiki instructed Lav and Kush to sing the praise of Sri Ram in their melodious voice. Everybody was moved by their soulful rendition. Sri Ram took Lav and Kush in his embrace.
RETURNS TO AYODHYA
Sri Ram eulogised all the revered sages who had arrived to attend the Ashwamedha yagya. The holy water of Saryu was brought and sprinkled in the yagya kund where Ashwamedha yagya was being performed, amidst the chanting of vedic mantras.Hardly had Sri Ram touched the horse with his hands then it transformed into a human being. Everybody was amazed by this incident. Sri Ram asked that man as to how he had attained the form of a horse. The man revealed to the assembled people that he had become a horse due to Durvasa's curse. 'Later on Sage Durvasa had mercy on me and assured that I would regain my human form by the divine touch of Sri Ram.'
Having said this the man attained to the heaven. In course of time Sri Ram organised two more Ashwamedha yagyas and his glory reverberated through all the three worlds.
Once, on being asked by
the sages about the greatness of Badrikasharam, Sutji narrated the same tale,
which Lord Shiva had once told sage Narad ---
Lord Mahadeva had told Narad that altogether there were one lakh and twenty-five thousand mountains and Badrikashram was supreme among them. Lord Mahadeva said---Badrikasharam is the abode of Lord Nara-Narayan. Narayan--the origin of all creations has four arms and his complexion is dark. Narayan manifests himself in both forms--Sakar as well as Nirakar. He is the eternal Purusha and is worshipped by people during the full period of Uttarayan. Since Badrikashram is covered with snow during the period of Dakshinayan, Narayan is not worshipper during these six months. All the deities dwell at Badrikasharam. The sages live in their hermitages at Badrikasharam. River Alaknanda flows at Badrikasharam. Anybody taking a dip in the holy water of Alaknanda becomes liberated from his sins.
DESCENT OF RIVER GANGA
Describing about the
reason why river Ganga was brought down on the earth, Lord Mahadeva told
Narad--- King Bhagirath was the architect of Ganga's arrival on the earth. He
wanted to liberate his dead ancestorss from the curse of Sage Kapil.King Sagar
came from the lineage of the famous king--Harishchandra. Sagar had two queens.
The elder queen had sixty thousand sons while the younger queen had just one--Panchajan.
Panchajan's son was Anshuman, who himself was the father of Dilip. Dilip was the
father of Bhagirath.
Bhagirath did an austere penance on the Himalayas for ten thousand years. As a result, river Ganga descended on the earth. I (Shiva) held her in the locks of my hair and she remained there for ten thousand more years. Bhagirath requested me to release Ganga so that his ancestors could be liberated. I agreed to release Ganga and Bhagirath took her to the Patalloka where his ancestor's had been charred to death due to Kapil's curse. Bhagirath sprinkled the water of Ganga on the ashes of his ancestors and each of them attained salvation as a result.Eventually, Ganga resurfaced at Haridwar--the most sacred place of pilgrimage.
Sage Narad curiously
asked Lord Mahadeva as to what made Shani such a volatile planet.Lord Mahadeva
replied--- Shani is extremely violent by nature and everybody is scarred of this
planet. Once, the royal astrologer of Dasharath was petrified at the prospect of
Shani entering the constellation of Rohini and warned him of its dire
consequences. 'If the Shani is not prevented from entering Rohini, then famine
would occur lasting for more than twelve years.' said the royal astrologers.
Dasharath went above the sky to subdue the might of Shani well armed with divine weapons. Shani became terrified on seeing Dasharath in such a menacing mood and expressed his willingness to fulfill his desires.
OF A VAISHNAV
Giving a detailed
description of the qualities of a Vaishnava, Lord Mahadeva told Narad ---
A person who has total devotion in Lord Vishnu is called a Vaishnava. He is truthful, kind and forgiving by nature. He engages himself in austere penance and refrains from any kind of violence. He wears a Tulsi bead in his neck and puts on tilak. He is well versed in sacred text like the vedas, Purans etc.The mere sight of a Vaishnava is enough to liberate a sinner from all his sins. Feeding a Vaishnava bestowes virtue equivalent to feeding thousand of ordinary brahmins.
The sages enquired from
Sutji about the holiest city situated on the banks of river yamuna.
Sutji narrated the tale which Sage Saubhari had once told Yudhishthir---Once, Narad and Parvat were travelling through an aerial route, while they were flying over Khandav forest, they were lured by the beautiful sight of river Yamuna. They decided to take rest for a while. Both of them descended down and entered river yamuna to take their bath.Meanwhile, King Shibi who ruled over Ushinar saw them. He eagerly waited at the bank of Yamuna. When Narad and Parvat emerged out of the yamuna, they found king Shibi eagerly waiting for them. Meanwhile king Shibi had noticed the remains of numerous 'havan-kundas' (oblation-altars) spread in a large area.
After the formal exchanges of pleasantaries were over, King Shibi asked Narad about those havan- kundas.
Narad replied--During ancient times Indra had performed numerous Yagyas at this place to express his gratitude to Lord Vishnu, with whose blessings he had regained the heaven from the clutches of Hiranyakashipu. In course of time, this place became famous as Indraprastha. This sacrosanct place is holier than all the holy places combined together. Indraprastha is spread in the area of one yojan from east to west and four yojans from north to south.
ABODE OF LORD VISHNU
Describing about the
grandeur of Vaikunth, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati--A person who has total
devotion in Lord Vishnu attains to Vaikunth after his death. Vaikuntha is the
abode of Vishnu and constitutes of numerous Janapadas. The magnificence of
Vaikunth is beyond description and it houses many grand palaces fully decorated
with jewels and diamonds.The central part of Vaikuntha is called Ayodhya and is
well protected by dwarpals named Chanda, Prachanda, Bhadra, Subhadra, Jaya,
Vijay, Dhata and Vidhata.Vaikunth is inhabited by countless divine people who
live in well illuminated houses.
In the central part of Ayodhya is situated the 'antahpuri' of Lord Vishnu. It is inhabited by celestial beauties--apsaras. There is a divine Canopy situated just at the centre of antahpuri, where Lord Vishnu has his divine throne. The divine throne is surrounded by deities as well as by the embodiments of all the four Vedas--- Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. The deities---Agni, Surya and Chandrama have their dwellings at the centre of Vishnu's throne.There is a grand pedestal called yogapeeth established on the throne. A beautiful lotus flower is established on the yogapeeth on which is seated Lord Vishnu along with his consort- Laxmi.
Lord Vishnu appears divine in his complexion of a blue lotus, whose radiance is enough to subdue crores of sun. He has radiant ear-rings hangings down his earlobes. His forehead is covered with curly hair. He has the famous 'Kaustubh mani' in his neck. He holds a conch and a chakra in each of his two hands and the remaining two hands are in the posture of giving blessings.
INCARNATIONS OF MATSYA & KURMA
Once, goddess Parvati
expressed her desire to know about all the incarnations of Lord Vishnu.Lord
Mahadeva replied-- Lord Brahma had created numerous Prajapatis like Bhrigu,
Marichi, Atri, Daksha, Kardam, Pulastya, Pulaha, Angira and Kratu. Marichi was
the father of Kashyap. Sage Kashyap had four wives--Aditi, Diti, Kadru and
Vinta.Aditi was the mother of Deities while Diti gave birth to demons
like--Makar, Hayagreeva, Mahabali, Hiranyaksha, Hiranyakashipu Jambha, Maya etc.
Makar was a mighty demon, Who after deceitfully acquiring the Vedas from Lord
Brahma had hidden himself inside an ocean. Lord Brahma requested Vishnu to
liberate the sacred Vedas from the possession of Makar.
Lord Vishnu then took the incarnation of Matsya and after killing Makar gave back the vedas to Lord Brahma. Durvasa was the son of Sage Atri. Once, he went to Indraloka to see Indra. At that time, Indra was planning to go out somewhere. Durvasa presented a garland of Parijat flowers to Indra. Indra, after receiving the garland from Durvasa kept it carelessly on the forehead of his elephant-Eravat. This garland was trampled under its feet by the elephant, which infuriated Sage Durvasa. He cursed Indra by saying---Immense prosperity has made you arrogant. But you will become a pauper within a very short time.
Durvasa's words came to be true and Indra found that not only the heaven but all the three worlds had become bereft of goddess Laxmi. Prosperity vanished and poverty prevailed everywhere.The deities became worried and went to take the help of Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma took the deities to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu became pleased with their eulogy and said --
I will take incarnation as Kurma. If the ocean were churned with the help of Mandarachal mountain and Vasuki, then goddess Laxmi would manifest herself. I shall hold the Mandarachal mountain on my back.This way the churning of ocean commenced. The Mandarachal mountain was uprooted and placed inside the 'Ksheer-Sagar' and which rested on the back of Lord Kurma. The serpent--Vasuki, was held by deities and demons on both the ends. First of all the most venomous poison--Kalkut emerged from the ocean. Seeing both the deities and demons unwilling to accept it. (Lord Shiva) drank it.
After the emergence of Kalkut, goddess Daridra and Varuni manifested themselves. Similarly, Eravat- elephant, Uchchaishrava-horse, Dhanvantaari, Surabhi--cow and Parijat- tree emerged from the ocean.Ultimately, goddess Laxmi manifested herself. The deities requested her to dwell in the heart of Lord Vishnu and bless all the three worlds by her presence. Goddess Laxmi agreed and blessed them.
Continuing with the
various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati ---
Sage Kashyap had two mighty sons from Diti--Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Hiranyaksha had once carried the earth to Rasatala. The deities requested Lord Vishnu to rescue the earth. Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of a boar and killed Hiranyaksha with his sharp horn.When Hiranyakshipu learnt about his brother's death he went to Merugiri mountain and started doing penance to please me (Lord Shiva). I blessed him with immortality, Later on, Hiranyakashipu married Uttanpad's daughter--Kalyani and had a son named Prahlad from her.Inspite of being born in the clan of a demon, Prahlad proved to be an extremely religious child and was a supreme devotee of Lord Vishnu.
When Hiranyakshipu came to know about Prahlad's religious tendency, he tried his best to stop him from worshipping Vishnu. But, all his efforts went in vain and Prahlad continued to worship Lord Vishnu.Hiranyakashipu instructed his subordinates to kill Prahlad but each time he came out unharmed. One day, Hiranyakashipu pulled out his sword and said---'You say that Vishnu is omnipresent. Is he present in this pillar?' Having said like this he assaulted the pillar with his sword. Suddenly to his Sheer amazement, Lord Vishnu manifested himself from that pillar in the form of Nrisimha.
Hiranyakashipu had been blessed by Lord Shiva that he could be killed neither by a man nor a beast. No weapon could harm him. He could be killed neither during the day nor during the night. Hiranyakashiu had taken into consideration all the possible threat perceptions to his life and tried to become immortal.But, Lord Vishnu takes incarnation to protect the humanity whenever religiousness is under threat. This time, Lord Vishnu took incarnation as Nrisimha (partly lion and partly human) and tore apart his belly with his sharp nails.After the death of Hiranyakashipu, Prahlad was coronated as his successor. Prahlad ruled justly and his subject were happy and satisfied.
Continuing with the
various incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Lord Mahadeva told Parvati ---
Prahlad had a son named Virochan.The most benevolent king--'Mahabahu-Bali' was Virochan's son. Bali had defeated the deities and ruled over all the three worlds. Sage Kashyap commenced the most austere penance--Payovrata to help the deities regain their lost kingdom (heaven) once again. He was accompanied by his wife--Aditi in his penance which lasted for one thousand years. At last, Lord Vishnu became pleased by their penance and appeared before them. Sage Kashyap narrated the woeful tales of the deities and requested him to make Indra the Lord of all the three worlds. Lord Vishnu promised that he would take incarnation as Vaman.In course of time, Aditi became pregnant and ultimately gave birth to Lord Vaman. Lord Vaman appeared in the form of a 'Brahmchari'. He wore a deer--Skin and carried a stick and a 'mekhala' in both his hands. Lord Vishnu enquired the deities about the future course of action. The deities informed him that Bali was busy performing a yagya and he would not turn down any demand made to him because if he did so there was a fear of loosing all his virtues attained by the performance of the yagya.
Lord Vaman went to the oblation site where Bali was performing a yagya and demanded a small piece of land measured by his three steps. Bali agreed to meet the demand of his guest inspite of Shukracharya's warning.Bali resolved to donate land by holding holy water in his palm. Now, Lord Vaman abandoned his dwarfish form and appeared in a giant form. He measured the whole earth by his first step. Lord Vishnu then measured the whole sky by his second step. The helpless Bali agreed to donate all the three worlds to protect his vow.Ultimately, Lord Vishnu sent Bali to the Rasatala and thus Indra became the ruler of heaven once again.