Wednesday, February 1, 2012

GrandFather and GrandSon

Sometime back I wrote a blog titled  "Mother-in-law and Daughter-in-law" (Click here to read it).  The blog contained a reference to Goddess of Wealth Lakshmi (Mother-in-law) and Goddess of Knowledge Saraswati (Daughter-in-law).  A friend read it last week and asked me whether I have a story for Father-in-law and Son-in-law.  Why not?  Our epics have many such Father-in-law and Son-in-law stories.  The story of Lord Shiva and Daksha Prajapati is one such.  There are many.  But today it is the story of Grandfather and Grandson.

One school of thought believes that Lord Vishnu is one who does not have a beginning, middle or end.  Aadimadhyaantarahita.  He was there for ever and he is and will be there for ever.  After the end of the previous world (pralaya) when the new world was to be created, he gave birth to Lord Brahma.  Brahma was born through the navel of Lord Vishnu.  Lord Shiva was Lord Brahma's Maanasaputra, born by his will.  It is to be clearly understood that one was never born and the other two were born without intervention of females.  Later on through a family partition deed, which is neither recorded nor registered, these three Lords apportioned among themselves the three main portfolios of managing this world.  Son (Brahma) kept the portfolio of Creation of the world (Srushti).  Grandfather (Vishnu) kept the portfolio of Maintenance (Stithi).  Grandson (Shiva) got the portfolio of Destruction (Laya).  Creation is a continuous process and Brahma is always busy to keep the assembly line flowing regularly.  Maintenance also is a continuous process, but just as offices work better when the boss is away, it generally takes care of itself leaving ample time for Vishnu for a lot of other activities.  Destruction is basically a one time job except for the occasional exceptions.  This leaves a lot of spare time for Shiva which he spends mostly in penance and dancing.

In due course of time there probably was a friction in the family as all the power was concentrated between Grandfather, Son and Grandson.  In order to maintain domestic peace, by another unwritten and unregistered family partition deed, three more portfolios were created; portfolio of Wealth was given to Grandmother Lakshmi, portfolio of Knowledge was handed over to Mother Saraswati with Grand daughter-in-law Parvati getting the portfolio of Strength (Shakti).  Both Lakshmi and Saraswati complained to Vishnu and Brahma respectively that Parvati had walked away with the "Powerful Power (strength) portfolio".  Vishnu placated Lakshmi by telling her that real power lay with money and hence "Money was Power".  Similarly, Brahma placated Saraswati by telling her that "Knowledge is Power".  These expressions are so used and often since then.  This somewhat restored a semblance of an order in the heavenly household and things appear to run smoothly thereafter.  The practice of generations of men and women from influential families fighting and concentrating power among themselves actually started here.  Our politicians are only following this golden path.  We unnecessarily blame them for dynastic politics without caring to know the real source of such a state of affairs.

One of the significant and major events of celestial relations was the churning of the sea of milk (Ksheerasamudra) and realising the Nectar (Amrutha).  The sea of milk was to be churned and the Mountain of Mandara (Mandara parvata) was chosen as the churning stone as no churning stick of comparable size was available, to accommodate the 330 million Devas (Angels) and an equally big but unknown number of Demons (Asuras) on the other side.  The number of Asuras was never known because they did not stand in a line and never allowed to be counted systematically.  Their varying sizes probably added to the problem.  No rope of requisite length could be found and hence the multi-headed serpent Aadishesha was chosen as the churning rope.  The angels tempted their cousins demons to show their courage by holding the head-side of the serpent and they themselves safely took the tail side.  During the churning, poisonous Haalahala was the first byproduct.  In order to save the world from the noxious fumes of the poison, Lord Shiva drank the entire quantity of poison.  We can say single handed, though he might have used both hands to hold the vessel of poison.  In order to ensure that there is no much damage to him, the poison was stopped in his neck itself and prevented it from going to his stomach.  Thus  Lord Shiva became Neelakantha, the one with the blue neck. Moon was another byproduct of churning and he was kept on Lord Shiva's head for cooling effect and he thus became Chandramouli, the one with moon on his head.  He saved the world but sat dazed in a corner due the effect of the poison.  Or he possibly sat in penance, one never knows clearly.  This occasion of his saving the world is celebrated as "Mahashivaratri" every year.  Vaishnavites celebrate the event as a festival with choicest dishes to eat.  Shaivites spend the day fasting and praying for Lord Shiva.  Churning went on and many other byproducts emerged; Kamadhenu (celestial cow), Kalpavruksha (Divine tree), heavenly horse Ucchaisravas, heavenly elephant Airavata and Mother Lakshmi herself.  Captain of the Deva's team, Devendra,  kept most of them for the benefit of his team.  Lakshmi was the first woman on heaven or earth to use her right to choose her husband and she chose Vishnu.  And finally nectar (Amrutha) arrived.

There was a commotion and everybody ran after the celestial bowl of the nectar.  In order to restore some order and ensure equitable distribution of nectar, whatever it may mean, Lord Vishnu took the shape of a sixteen year old girl called Mohini.  All our epics describe Lord Vishnu is very handsome.  After all he is the father of Manmatha, the Cupid, and therefore even better than the cupid himself.  He is often refereed as "Saakshat Manmatha Manmatha", meaning he is the Cupid for even Cupid!  He is attractive even to men, forget the women folk.  Hence referred to as "Pumsaam Mohanaroopaya".  His womanly form was no less beautiful and there was never and there will never be another like her, the Mohini.  The name itself attracts one's mind.  Less said the better about the physical form itself.  Mohini mesmerized everyone and ensured fair distribution to Deva's team and broke into two one demon who wrongly entered the Queue and created Rahu and Ketu, thus making way for the eclipses.  The demons are still waiting for their share of nectar.

When everyone was enjoying the divine beauty of Mohini and some lucky ones got the nectar, Lord Shiva was sitting in a corner dazed due to the effect of the poison.  Shiva himself is a handsome person and the one who actually burnt down the Cupid (Manmatha Dahana), when the careless cupid tried to disturb his penance, though for a very good cause and as per the strict order of his higher authorities.  Many years later Lord Shiva wanted to see the beautiful form of Mohini again, in order to appreciate her beauty in peaceful times.  He decided to meet Vishnu and seek his assuming the Mohini form for a second time, exclusively for his benefit.  He was confident that his wish will be fulfilled as no Grandfather will decline a polite request by his Grandson.  He went all the way from his abode, Kailasa, to Vishnu's headquarters, Vaikuntha.  He was received by his Grandmother, Lakshmi and given some refreshments like Chakkali, Kodubale, Rave Vunde etc., followed by a full tumbler of Badam Milk as she had no shortage of milk, being a resident of the milky ocean (Ksheerasamudra).  When the request for a second edition of the Mohini form was made by Shiva, Vishnu was reluctant.  He had to accept the persistent pleas of Shiva, and more so, could not say no to the recommendation of his wife Lakshmi.  Who wants to disturb one's own domestic peace!  Vishnu fixed an auspicious date and advised Shiva to come to the celestial garden (Nandanavana) at sunrise on the appointed date.  Lord Shiva was very happy at the success of his mission, went back to Kailasa and started counting the days before the arrival of the appointed date.  Today's boys need not feel bad for waiting for a date.  They have illustrious predecessors.

Shiva arrived in the garden at sunrise on the appointed day.  It was a divine morning of a divine day in the divine garden.  Everything was wonderful at that moment.  As he entered the garden through the main gate he saw a beautiful girl, all of sixteen years, standing in front of a bush plucking flowers.  Shiva had never seen such a beautiful girl in all his life.  He forgot all about his grandfather and Mohini.  Even the strongest of the men who burnt down the Cupid himself could not resist the beauty of the girl.  He went near her and caught her "Pallu" (Seragu), the open end of the saree.  The girl turned, faced Shiva, smiled and allowed him one long glimpse.  That was it.  Next moment the girl had vanished and in her place Lord Vishnu was standing with all his four hands and his Shanka (Conch), Chakra (Sudarshana), Gada (Kowmodaki) and all.  Lord Shiva realised that he was looking at Mohini all along and bowed down with a tinge of shame mixed admiration.

The last two paragraphs is a summary of a Saint Sripadaraja's song (Devaranaama).  Other background paragraphs leading to them are my interpretation.  My revered mother used to sing this song on every Monday.  It is a beautiful account of a humorous tale in a song form.  I would wait for the song every Monday and my mother never disappointed me.  She is no more with us, but the record of her singing is often playing in the mind. 


  1. Lord Vishnu is a most interesting personality. Nice post.

  2. Very well illustrated. Very nice. The art of writing is really a blessings of Lord.

  3. Very nicely and interestingly written. I ran upto connectivity,as my laptop's battery was going down,so that I do enjoy the blog on the divine moment.It finally is the success of the article. I wish to see many more articles from you. Good luck always.

  4. So well written, I enjoyed reading. I am eagerly waiting for your next blog posts.

  5. Very nice interpretation of our mythological story.It made very interesting reading.
    Quite funny too
    Rahul aardhya

  6. In every day sandhyavandanam prayer i used to say
    sivasya hrudayam vishno...
    vishnusya hrudayam sivaha...which means vishnu and siva are one and the same....

    sir your name is kesava murthy...but in sharing the knowledge you are Dakshina murthy... the above sloka is proven once again with your name and the knowledge...

    We(BMSB students) are very fortunate to have Dakshina murthy(Kesava murthy) under the shade of Vatavruksh (BMSB)......

    Thank you sir...
    M.V.Lokesh Kumar.