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Why are Mountains Sacred in India

Mountains have traditionally been regarded as abodes of


Gods.Some mountains are also held sacred due to their
association with deities, mythology or legends.Hills and
mountains (Parvat) have special significance within
Hinduism. There are many mountains that are worshipped by
hindus.Some of very famous ones are :-

Mount Abu

Mount Abu, Rajasthan's only hill station is situated at the


southern tip of the Aravalli ranges. The mountain forms a rocky
plateau about 9km wide. The highest peak on the mountain is
Gurushikhar, which is the highest point between the Nilgiris in the
south and the Himalayas in the north. Mt. Abu is one of the major
pilgrimage destinations in India. It is home to several Hindu and
Jain temples including the famous Dilwara Jain temple, Gaumukh
temple, Sri Raghunathji temple and the Adhar Devi temple

.As per the legends, Mt. Abu came into existence when Nandini,
Sage Vashishta's wish-fulfilling cow, fell into a deep lake. Sage
Vashishta appealed to the Gods for help, who sent Arbuda, the
celestial cobra. Arbuda, carried a huge rock on his head and
dropped it into the lake, displacing the water. Thus, Nandini was
rescued. The spot came to be known as (Arbudachala- Hill of
Arbuda) after the mighty serpent.

Agastyamalai Parvat

This mountain falls in the Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of


Tamil Nadu and the Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts of
Kerala.It is a pilgrim centre, where devotees come to worship
sage Agasthya. Agasthya was a Dravidian sage, and is considered
to be one of the seven rishis (saptarishi) of Hindu mythology. The
Tamil language is considered to be a boon from Agasthya. There
is a statue of Agasthya at the top of the peak and the devotees
can render poojas themselves.

The most famous legend regarding the mountain relates to


Agasthya and the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in Mount
Kailasha. When the wedding was announced, all the Gods, rishis
and people migrated north to the Himalayas. As a result, the
earth went off balance and became dangerously wobbly. With
disaster looming, Lord Shiva asked Agasthya to go south and
balance the situation through meditation. He meditated and
prayed on the mountain, that now bears his name and once again
put the world in balance.

Arunachala Parvat

The Arunachaleshwar temple at Tiruvannamalai is one of the


holiest Saivite shrines in the country. Lord Shiva is worshipped
here in the form of Arunachaleshwarar, also known as
Annamalaiyar. The temple is one of the Panchabootha stalas
(temples associated with the five basic elements - water, wind,
fire, sky and earth) and is associated with Agni or Fire. The
temple is located at the foot of the Mount Arunachala (Aruna =
red + Achala= immovable mount). The mountain is believed to
be sacred and hence, many saints and siddhas, have made it
their home. Thousands of devotees circumbulate (pradakshina)
the mountain (also known as Girivalam) on full-moon days and
also during certain festivals. The deepam festival during the
month of kartigai is celebrated with great fervour. A big brass
lamp is lit at the peak of the hill. The blazing flame atop the hill is
witnessed by millions.

The mount is considered by some to be the physical embodiment


of Lord Shiva himself. Legend has it that once, Lord Vishnu and
Lord Brahma quarrelled to ascertain the superiority of one over
the other. They sought the help of Lord Shiva, to judge as to who
was really superior. Lord Shiva transformed himself into a flame
of light and asked them to find the root and the crown. Both of
them failed. They requested Lord Shiva to moderate His
appearance. Lord Shiva obliged and manifested Himself as the
sacred Mount Arunachala.

Chamundi Hills

Chamundi hills are located about 13 kms from the city of Mysore.
The hill gets is name from Goddess Chamundeshwari, who is the
patron deity of the Mysore royal family. The Goddess is enshrined
in a temple located on the hill top, which can be reached either
by road or by climbing 1000 steps from the base. Half-way up the
hill is a gigantic 4.8 meters tall statue of Nandi, the divine bull of
Lord Shiva. Also, close to the temple is a gigantic and colourful
statue of Mahishasura, the demon King vanquished by the
Goddess.

According to a legend in Devi Purana, Mysore was ruled by the


buffalo-demon Mahishasura. Hence, the place was called
Mahishuru (now Mysore), the city of the demon king Mahisha.
Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva incarnated as
Chamundi (also known as Mahishasuramardini) and killed the
demon King on top of the hill. After killing Mahishasura, the
Goddess resided on the hill top, where she is worshipped even
today with reverence and devotion.

Gabbar hill

Gabbar hill is located close to the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, near


the origin of the Vedic river Saraswati. Climbing the Gabbar hill is
an important pilgrimage and attracts lakhs of pilgrims from
Gujarat and the neighbouring state of Rajasthan. The small
temple on the hilltop is very ancient and is believed to be the
original abode of Goddess Ambaji. A holy lamp is constantly
burning on the top of the hill temple, facing exactly in front of the
Shree Yantra at the famous Nij Mandir or the temple of Mata
Arasuri Ambica in Ambaji town. (3 km from Gabbar hill) It is
believed that the footsteps and chariot imprints, seen on the hill
are that of the Goddess and her chariot.

According to Hindu scriptures, the Ambaji temple is one of the 52


Shakti peethas in India. It is believed to be the place where
Goddess Sati's heart fell while Lord Shiva was carrying her
burning body from the sacrificial fire of Daksha's yagna.The place
also finds mention in the Hindu epic, Ramayana. As per legend,
Lord Rama and Lakshmana came to the Ashram of Shrungi Rishi,
during their search for Sita. The Rishi adviced them to worship
Ambaji at Gabbar. The Goddess blessed them and gave a divine
arrow called (Ajay), which Lord Rama used in his war against
Ravana.The Gabbar hill is also associated with Lord Krishna. The
tonsure ceremony of the Lord, is believed to have taken place in
the temple in the presence of His foster parents Nand and
Yashoda, who worshipped Ambaji during the Dwapar Yuga.

Govardhan Parvat

Govardhan is situated 26 km west of Mathura on the state


highway to Deeg. A famous place of Hindu pilgrimage, Govardhan
is located on a narrow sandstone hill known as Giriraj which is
about 8 km in length.The hill is associated with Lord Krishna, who
is believed to have lifted the hill with the tip of his little finger for
seven days and nights, to shield the people of Braj from the
torrential rains caused by Lord Indra.

Govardhan is believed to have been 30,000 meters high about


5000 years ago. It is believed that the hill is sinking by the height
of a mustard seed daily ,due to the curse by Pulatsya Rishi.
Pulatsya Rishi once reached Dronakala Hill and requested that his
son Govardhan accompany to Pulastya's abode at Kasi. Dronakala
could not refuse, but at the same time did not want to lose his
son. But, Govardhan agreed to go along under one condition. If
the Rishi put him down anywhere on his way to Kasi, he will not
move further and will stay there forever. The Rishi accepted the
condition and lifted him on his palm and proceeded to Kasi.

As they approached Braj, thoughts about Lord Krishna entered


Govardhan's mind and hence, he became heavier. The Rishi could
no longer carry him and he put Govardhan down to get some
rest. When he tried to lift Govardhan again, the hill refused to
move. In great anger the rishi cursed Govardhan ,that he would
diminish in size by one mustard seed every day.

Kamagiri Hills

The Kamakhya temple, which is located on the Kamagiri hill, is


one of the 52 Shakti Peethas related to Sati. It is believed by
some to be an ancient Khasi sacrificial site.Mahabaleshwar is the
highest point of the Western Ghats and lies amidst the Sahyadris.
It overlooks the Krishna and the Koyna valleys. The place is one
of the most visited hill-stations in the state of Maharashtra.
Mahabaleshwar is known for its two ancient temples - the Krishna
or Panchganga temple and the Old Mahabaleshwar temple.

According to legends, Goddess Sati burned herself in the


sacrificial fire at her father Daksha's yagna, because her father
insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. Enraged by Sati's immolation,
Shiva picked up the remains of Her body and began His dance of
destruction (Tandava). The other Gods pleaded Lord Vishnu to
intervene and prevent the destruction of the entire universe.
Vishnu tried to pacify Lord Shiva. He started hacking Sati's corpse
with his Sreechakra (Disk). One by one the various parts fell off
from Sati's body, until Shiva was left with nothing. Finally, the
Shiva stopped his tandava and sat down to Mahatapasya
(penance).

52 pieces of Sati are believed to have got scattered across the


Indian subcontinent. Her genitals (yoni) are said to have fallen on
the spot where the Kamkhya temple stands today. The holy
mountain is believed to be an embodiment of Lord Shiva himself,
hence the name Neelachala parbat or the blue mountains.

Kailash Parvat

Kailash is the home of Lord Shiva, for Hindu people it is the


highest blessing to take darshan of the mountain - to be in its
presence, to be seen by and to see it.The Tibetan people have
named it Kang Rinpoche, or snow jewel, and the Hindus refer to it
as Mount Meru. Every year, several hundred Hindu pilgrims and
sadhus in thin orange robes, make the arduous trek over icy
16,700 ft Lipu Lekh Pass into Tibet, to begin the 32-mile walk
around Kailash and its lakes. Pilgrims have the tradition of
walking along the circumference of a sacred site. Walking the 54
km/32-mile (parikrama) is believed to erase negative karma
and/or absolve sins. In fact, some devoted people prostrate
themselves fully, so that they proceed along the rough path
around Kailash in the manner of the inch worm. This method
normally takes them two weeks.Kailash Parvat, as it is called in
India, is in Ngari, a remote, rugged area of Western Tibet, but
the terrain has been visited for thousands of years. The journey
to Kailash is an important pilgrimage for millions of Buddhists and
Hindus, in addition to Jains. Eighteen miles southeast of Kailash is
the circular, turquoise Lake Mansarovar or Tso Rinpoche (precious
lake) a 64-mile circuit, which is rarely completed except by the
most devout. Bathing in the lake, or even dousing ones head with
the holy water, is said to be of enormous spiritual benefit to
those, who can brave the icy water, which many claim contain
miraculous powers. Hindus are told that complete immersion into
the lake ensure they be reborn as a god.
Kodachaadri Peak

Kodachadri is a mountain peak (altitude - 1843 m above sea


level) in the Western Ghats in South India (Karnataka State). The
name is a corruption of the Sanskrit word "Kutakachalam."
Kodachadri forms a picturesque background to the famous temple
of Mookambika in Kollur.This is the highest peak in Shimoga
District. At the peak it is believed that 'Shankaracharya' did
meditation. And to substantiate the same you will find a 'Sarvajna
Peetha' at the top.This attractive Mookambika temple with gold
plated crest and copper roofs attracts thousands of devotees. This
is a well known temple in Kundapur taluq of Karnataka visited by
pilgrims from all over India. Kollur is one of the seven
pilgrimages which were created by Parashurama. It is is situated
at the banks of the never drying river Sauparnika. While the
other pilgrimages created by Parashurama are devoted to Lord
Shiva, Lord Subramanya and Lord Ganesha, this is the only one
devoted to goddess Parvathi.

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar derives its name from Lord Mahabali (Lord


Shiva), who is enshrined in the form of a naturally occurring
(swayamboo) lingam, in the shape of a Rudraksha seed. This
lingam is considered more sacred than the 12 jyothir lingams. It
is also called Trigunatmaka ,as it is believed to represent Brahma,
Vishnu as well as Shiva. The Panchganga temple is believed to be
the site of origin of five rivers. There is a legend connected to this
origin. On this site long ago Lord Brahma along with the Vishnu
and Shiva, performed a Yagna (religious ritual). Brahma's
consort, Savitri was not present. Brahma forgot to wait for
Savitri. Since the presence of his wife, was essential for
performing the rites, Lord Brahma hastily married a local maiden
Gayatri. When Savitri arrived she got enraged and in her fury,
transformed Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Gayatri into rivers. They
also retaliated, turning Savitri into a watercourse as well. Thus,
Brahma became the Venna river, Gayatri and Savitri became the
rivers of their own name, Lord Vishnu became the river Krishna
and Lord Shiva got transformed into river Koyna.

Mehandragiri Parvat

Mahendragiri is the name of a hill (mountain peak) mentioned in


the epic Ramayana. It is from this peak that Hanuman started his
journy to Lanka, in search of Sita the wife of Lord Rama. It is
having the same name in modern times and is the name of a hill
in southern Tamilnadu, in Kanyakumari district.The 5,000 feet
high Mahendragiri hills, situated in the middle of Eastern
Ghats in the Paralakhemundi sub-division of Gajapati district is
175 km from Berhampur. Though the major part of this hill range
now comes under Andhra Pradesh, the 4,943 feet high peak
Mahendragiri is actually located within the district of Gajapati, 51
km. to the south-west of Brahmapur. Mahendragiri Hills finds
mention in the works of poets Kalidas, Sarala Das and Radhanath
Ray.

Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi is the second tallest mountain in India. The


mountain has two peaks, Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East. The
mountain is guarded by a barrier ring of some of the highest
mountains in the Indian Himalayas, 12 of which exceed 6400
meters in height. This has further elevated its sacred status as
the daughter of the Himalaya (Shail Putri), in local myth and
folklore.Mount Nanda devi is regarded as Goddess Parvathi, who
is known as Nanda in the Garhwal & Kumaon areas. The Goddess
is closely associated with the socio-cultural practices of
Uttaranchal. In fact, Nanda devi means (bliss-giving Goddess).
The Goddess has many shrines and temples dedicated to Her in
the region. One of the better-known ones is located at
Almora.The annual Nanda Devi mela is held here in the month of
September.

Palani Hill

The Palani hill is an offshoot of the Western Ghats. The main


deity here is Lord Dandayudapaani (manifestation of Lord
Muruga), whose shrine stands on top of the hill consisting of 660
steps. It is one of the Aaru padai veedu or six holy shrines
associated with Lord Muruga.Once Narada acquired a rare and
precious mango fruit (Gnana pazham) and offered it to Lord Shiva
and Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva wanted his children - Ganesha
and Muruga, to enjoy it, but was unable to decide as to who
should get the fruit. He set a contest to decide this and said that
the fruit would be given to the one who returns to Him first after
going around the entire universe. Lord Kartikeyya without
wasting any time got on his mount, the peacock and flew away at
lighting speed. Lord Ganesha thought for a minute and then,
went around his parents three times, thus declaring that they
represent the entire universe. His delighted parents gave him the
fruit. Lord Kartikeya on his return found that he had been
outwitted by his brother. He felt cheated and got enraged. He
renounced his family and all his possessions including his
ornaments and his clothes. He left Mt. Kailasa and came down to
a place called Thiru Avinankudi. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
followed and persuaded their son to return to Mt. Kailasa. Lord
Muruga refused and settled in a nearby hill in peace and solitude.
While persuading Muruga, Lord Shiva described him as the - very
fruit of wisdom.This phrase in Tamil -Pazham nee, gave the place
its name Palani.

Panchachuli Hills

Panchachuli ranges are part of the Kumaon Himalayas. They form


the western boundary of the Darma Valley, through which flows
the Dhauli river.According to legends, Panchachuli peaks get their
names from Pancha (five) and Chuli (cooking pots), because they
are said to have been used as cooking pots for the last meal of
the Pandava brothers, before their journey to the heavens.

Sabrimala Parvat

Mount Sabari or Sabarimala is situated in the midst of 18 hills in


the Sahyadri mountain ranges (Western ghats). The ancient
temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is located in a valley
surrounded by dense forests on all sides. Lord Ayyappa was born
by the union of Lord Shiva with Mohini (incarnation of Lord
Vishnu). Legend has it that the divine child was found by the ruler
of Pandalam on the banks of the river Pampa. The king and
queen called the child Manikandan and brought him up as their
own. But when the queen had a child of her own, she planned to
get Ayyappa killed. She pretended to be ill and sent Ayyappa in
search of tiger's milk, which she said, was the only cure for her
illness. She expected him to be killed by the tigers but was
surprised to see Ayyappa return to the palace riding on a tiger,
with the other tigers following him.

Lord Ayyappa's divinity was revealed to one and all after the
episode. The King immediately requested Ayyappa to suggest a
suitable place for building a temple for Him. The Lord aimed an
arrow which fell at a place called Sabari. The King later built a
temple for lord Ayyappa at this place.Mount Sabari is named after
an old woman, mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana, who
attained salvation after her meeting with Lord Rama.

Shathasringa Parvat

The Shathasringa parvat Lies in Kolar district of Karnataka.


Shathasringa (hundred peaked mountain) is famous for the Shiva
temple situated on it. The temple has a pond which is fed by a
perennial spring called antaragange that comes out of the mouth
of a basava (stone bull).Antaragange literally means Ganges from
deep in Kannada. Pilgrims come here for a dip in the pond.
Though much water gushes out nobody knows the source of
water or the place from where it originates. Be it summer or
monsoon,water is seen gushing in all the seasons. Thousands
converge here on the occasion of Mahashivaratri

The hill is also associated with Lord Parasurama and his son of
Jamadagni. The killing of Kartaviryarjuna by Parasurama and
subsequently murder of Jamadagni by the sons of Kartaviryarjuna
and self-immolation of Renuka are found on this hill. The oath
taken by Parasurama to whole Kshatriya race are said to have
taken place on the hills. It is said that the Kolahala on the death
of Kartaviryarjuna gave its name to the town later become Kolar.

Simhachalam Parvat

Simhagiri (literally meaning-hill of the lion) is known for its 11th


century temple dedicated to Lord Varaha Narasimha. The
uniqueness of the deity lies in the fact that He has the body of a
human being, the face of a boar and the tail of a lion. The
presiding deity is always anointed with sandalwood paste giving
the appearance of sandalwood Shiva lingam. The paste is
removed only once every year on the third day during the month
of Vaisakha (April- May).The foundation of the temple is related
to the well-known story of the demon-king Hiranyakashipu and
his son, Prahalada, who was also a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashipu in order to punish Prahalada (who was firm in his
devotion to Lord Vishnu) threw his son into the sea and placed
the Simhachalam hill over his head to crush him completely. Lord
Vishnu protected His devotee by tilting the hill for Prahalada to
escape. Later, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Narasimha (half-man,
half-lion) and killed Hiranyakashipu. It is believed by some that
the shrine at Simhachalam was established by Prahalada in order
to worship Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha avatara (manifestation).
Tirumala Hills

Tirumala hills lies in Tirupati,Chitoor district of Andhra


Pradesh.Lord Venkateswara is enshrined at a temple on the
Tirumala Hills, which are part of the Eastern Ghats. The Tirumala
Hills (also known as Saptagiri in Sanskrit) comprise of seven
peaks - Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri,
Narayanadri and Venkatadri, with the temple actually located on
the seventh peak, Venkatadri.Lord Venkateswara or Balaji is
considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that
he came to reside on the southern banks of Swami Pushkarini.
The range of the Tirumala hills represents the body of Adi-sesha,
the divine serpent on which Lord Vishnu and His consort Goddess
Mahalakshmi rest. The seven hills are believed to represent the
seven hoods of the serpent.The Tirumala are also believed to be
part of the sacred and celestial Meru Parvata. According to
legends, a contest once arose between the Lord Vayu (Wind God)
and Adi-sesha. Lord Vayu tried to blow out all the thousand peaks
of the Meru Parvata, while Sesha tried to protect it with his
hoods. Lord Vayu after sometime got exhausted and discontinued
his blowing. Adisesha thinking that He had won the contest raised
his hood, when Lord Vayu blew at the peak. One part of the peak
fell at Tirupati forming the sacred Tirumala hills.

Trikuta Hills

Trikuta Hills are situated in Katra,Jammu.Shri Mata Vaishno Devi


Shrine is one of the oldest shrine of India, located at a height of
5300 feet on the holy Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range. The
Holy cave is 13 Kms from the Base Camp Katra. The Town Katra
is 50 Kms away from Jammu and 35 Kms from District HQ
Udhampur and is linked by road. The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is
one of the most popular Shrines of India.The Goddess Mata
Vaishno Devi's abode is in 100 feet long cave with a narrow
opening. The holy cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus
feet of the Mata's "Pindian". There are three natural pindies
representing Maha Sarswati, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali, which
represent creative, preservative, and destructive aspects of the
Super Power. It is an ancient shrine whose reference is found in
the Vedas and ancient scriptures.

Yadvagiri Hills

Yadvagiri hills are situated in Melkote,Karnataka.Yadavagiri Hills


are the last rocky ridges of the Sahayadri ranges and comprise of
some of the oldest rock formations on the earth's crust. The hill is
associated with two famous temples - the Tirunarayana temple at
the foothill and the hill temple of Yoga Narasimhar. The place is
also known for its association with the Vaishnava saint Sri
Ramanujacharya.According to Hindu mythology, the idol of
Vishnu (moolavar) in the Tirunarayana temple was originally
worshipped by Lord Brahma. It is believed to have been brought
down to earth and installed at Melkote by Brahma's son,
Sanathakumara.Legend has it that the festival idol (utsavar) of
Lord Vishnu was worshipped by Lord Rama himself, who got it
from Brahma. In view of Rama's reverence for the Narayana's
idol, it gained the name -Ramapriya.The Ramapriya idol was later
inherited by Kusha's daughter Kanakamalini, who was married to
a Yadava King. Lord Krishna and Balarama (belonging to Yadava
family) inherited this idol in Dwapara yuga. It is believed that
they brought the idol to Melkote and installed it in the temple
there.The Yoga Narasimha temple on Yadavagiri is believed by
some to have been installed by Prahalada, a great devotee of
Lord Vishnu.
Sacred Hills and Mountains

In a temple in Wembley, a murti of Shiva meditating in the


Himalayas. These mountains are the home of numerous ascetics,
many of whom consider Shiva their worshipful deity. Lord Shiva is
called Maha-yogi – the greatest yogi

Govardhana hill as it looks today. Legend holds that it is slowly


sinking into the ground by the width of a mustard seed each year.
Pilgrims come annually to circumambulate the entire hill, covering
a distance of some 14 miles.
A traditional painting of Krishna , known as Nathji (in the centre).
With the little finger of his left hand, Krishna held up Govardhana
hill for seven days, whilst all the residents of Vrindavana sheltered
from the torrential rain sent by Indra. In this painting, Nathji is
worshipped by Vallabha (left), founder of the Pushti-marg
tradition, and Yamuna (right), goddess of the sacred river that
runs through Vrindavana.

Hills and mountains have special significance within Hinduism.


Most important are the Himalayas, the vast range in North India to
which countless ascetics have retired for a life of seclusion and
austerity. Shiva is considered to reside on Mount Kailash and his
spouse's name, Parvati, means "daughter of the Himalayas."
Within the Himalayan range and its foothills are many places of
pilgrimage such as Haridwar, Hrishikesh, Badrinatha, and
Kedarnath.

The Vindhya Mountains separate the North from the Deccan


(South) and are mentioned repeatedly in the Epics and the
Puranas. Another popular pilgrimage site is the cave of Vaishno
Devi, north of Amritsar. Pilgrims climb many steps up to the cave,
which is dedicated to three goddesses – Lakshmi, Kali and
Sarasvati. It is the only temple in India where all three are
worshipped together. Also famous, in the South, is Vyenkata Hill,
whose 2,800-foot peak is crowned with the Tirupati temple (see
The Temple).

Perhaps India's most famous hill is Govardhana, which was


raised by Lord Krishna to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavana
from the wrath of Indra. The God of Rain was infuriated when
child Krishna persuaded his father, head of the village, to stop the
Indra-sacrifice and worship the hill instead. Indra sent torrents of
rain but Krishna picked up the hill, and, holding it on the tip of the
little finger of his left hand, used it as a giant umbrella.
Govardhana Puja is still a popular festival and the story is central
for the followers of Pushti-marg, who call Krishna "Nathji."

Holy Rivers, Lakes, and Oceans

The Goddess Ganga, riding her crocodile. She plays an important role at
the beginning of the Mahabharata.

Bathers in the Ganges, which is considered to wash away accumulated


sins (image courtesy Prof. Robert Jackson)
Near Vrindavan, Radha-Kunda (the pond of Radha) is considered
especially sacred

Water is of special significance in Hinduism, not only for its life-sustaining


properties, but also because of its use in rituals and because of the stress
given to cleanliness. Bathing also has religious significance, especially in
rivers considered sacred. Mother Ganga (the Ganges) is considered to
purify the bather of sins (papa – see The Law of Karma).

There are seven principle holy rivers, although others, such as the Krishna
in South India, are also important. Of the seven, the Ganges (Ganga),
Yamuna, and Sarasvati are most important. According to different opinions,
the Sarasvati is now invisible, extinct or running underground, and meets
with the Ganga and Yamuna at Prayaga.

Most rivers are considered female and are personified as goddesses.


Ganga, who features in the Mahabharata, is usually shown riding on a
crocodile (see right). Yamuna is shown in much iconography connected
with the Pushti Marg sampradaya, and rides on a turtle. The famous story
of the descent of Ganga-devi is connected with Vishnu and with Shiva, who
is depicted with the Ganges entering the locks of his hair.

Certain spots on the seashore are also holy. Puri is considered sanctified to
Vaishnavas, and Cape Commorin (Kanyakumari) is sacred to followers of
Shiva and devotees of Rama.

Some lakes and ponds are also considered especially sacred. Particularly
in the South, tanks (man-made ponds) are constructed, so that worshippers
can bathe before entering the temple.
The Seven Holy Rivers

1. Ganga – North India


2. Yamuna – meets Ganga in North
3. Godavari – South India
4. Sarasvati – underground river
5. Narmada – Central India
6. Sindhu the Indus, now in Pakistan
7. Kaveri – South India

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The Descent of Mother Ganga (STO-501)

How Ganga came to earth.

Krishna Defeats the Kaliya Serpent (STO-502)

Are Legends Based On Fact?


Are our heroes always based on actual historical fact?
Heroes have always played a vital role in the education of any community.
Everyone wants stories with heroes and a social message which entails
beliefs and concepts and ideological ways of questioning and making
sense of our chaotic world.

Dr. Thomas Lickona says, in discussing character education in Early


Childhood, "Qualities such as honesty, kindness, compassion, cooperation,
courage, self-control, diligence or hard work are the kinds of qualities that
we need, to both lead a fulfilling life and to be able to live together
harmoniously and productively. Character education develops these virtues
through every phase of school life."
Legends In Education:

The characters of many myths become so familiar to everybody, they take


on a feeling of having been real. Here are just a couple of well loved
legends, which have been taught in schools for many generations.

Robin Hood:

Robin Hood gave to the poor, having robbed from the rich. He was a brave
fighter, standing against injustice and tyranny, even though he was a
fugitive from the law. He was the leader of a band of Merry Men, the seven
outlawed yeomen (prosperous farmers or bodyguards in a noble or royal
household).

William Shakespeare refers to Robin Hood in a late 16th century play, ‘The
Two Gentlemen of Verona’. Robin Hood even has a gravestone with his
name on it, in an attempt to give the legend more credibility.

King Arthur:

King Arthur was a legendary British soldier who defended Britain against
the Saxon invaders. The addition of Sir Lancelot and the Knights of the
Round Table and the Holy Grail, were added to the legend by a 12th
century French writer.

Father Christmas:

Did Saint Nicholas really exist and give away gifts from his extensive
fortune, before the legend became the current commercial practice of
Father Christmas? His various names were St Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Pere
Noel, Christ Kind, Sinter Klass and of course Santa Clause and Father
Christmas.

Legends questioned:

While some say William Shakespeare is a very prolific poet and playwright
of amazing genius, there is a controversy that says Shakespeare is merely
a corporate name, covering a pool of writers. The fact remains, however,
that Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into every major language
and been performed more often, than plays produced by any other
scriptwriter.

Imaginary Legends:

Children of all ages have always loved imaginary characters of legends and
myths and are well able to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Irish Leprechaun (shoemaker)

The delightfully mischievous Irish Leprechaun, with his lucky four leaf
clover, conceals your TV remote and steals your underwear and at least
one of your socks, in the dark of the night. Others say that anyone who
manages to catch a Leprechaun will have hidden treasures revealed to
you.

Big Creature Legends

Maybe the myths of over large and strange creatures serves some vague
purpose of explaining the unexplainable. There are stories of oversize
strange creatures in many different cultures.

American Big Foot – There is the legend of the Bigfoot, inhabiting remote
forests in the Pacific Northwest, America.

Recent reports say there have been sightings of the footprints of the
abominable snowman, the Yeti in the Himalayas.

The Monster of Loch Ness makes a fabulous tourist attraction in the


Scottish Highlands.

A little known Australia Yowie, lurks in the Australian Outback. It rises from
the ground at night, to eat humans and whatever else it can find.

Halloween, vampires and witches have always had their place in the myths
and legends of different cultures. While ghosts take you on into a whole
new area. It’s up to the individual teaching institution as to what children
are taught about the area of the paranormal.
By Wendy Stenberg-Tendys
Dr.

In the Hindu Religion, one of the important gods is the sun god. By
what name is the sun god known?

Surya. The Sun god is known as Surya or Ravi. According to Hindu


legends, Surya is one of the 'Ashta Dikpalakas' or the eight protectors
of the world. The sun is also part of the Navagraha or nine planets, in
Hindu legends. The Gayathri mantra or chant is the most auspicious
of prayers and is dedicated to the sun god.

According to Hindu legends, the Trimurthi or the Trinity of Gods are


the most powerful. Who are the three Gods who constitute the
Trimurthi?

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The Trinity or Trimurthi are Brahma,


Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is known as the creator, who is
responsible for the creation of the world. Vishnu is the preserver who
protects the world and Shiva or Rudra is the destroyer of evil. The
Trinity is considered the most powerful of the Hindu Gods.

In Hindu legends, who is the King of the Gods?

Indra. Indra or Devendra is known in Hindu legends as the King of the


Gods. Indra is credited with introducing the art of Indrajala or magic.
Agni is the god of fire, Vayu the god of wind and Varuna is the god of
water.

In Hindu mythology, one important legend is that of the


Dashavathara, wherein Lord Vishnu incarnated on earth for the
protection of the good and destruction of evil. Which of these is often
counted as one of the ten incarnations?
Buddha. According to the Puranas or legends, Lord Vishnu
incarnated on earth to protect the good and destroy the evil. These
incarnations or avatars are known as Dashavatara (ten avatars): 1)
Matsya - Fish; this is similar to the Noah's Ark story where two of
each species is taken in a ship to protect it from destruction 2) Kurma
- the tortoise, which helps in the churning of the ocean 3) Varaha -
the boar, which killed the demon Hiranyaksha 4) Narasimha - the lion
man, who killed the demon Hiranyakashipu 5) Vamana - the dwarf,
who banished the arrogant king Bali 6) Parashurama - the warrior
sage who killed the demon Kartaviryarjuna 7) Rama - one of the
greatest avatars, who killed the evil Ravana 8) Krishna - the god who
was born on earth to protect the good 9) Buddha - Gautama Buddha,
the founder of Buddhism, is considered to be an avatar of Lord
Vishnu 10) Kalki - the destroyer; this avatar has not yet manifested.
When evil dominates, legend has it that Vishnu will incarnate as Kalki
and bring about the end of the world.

One of the Hindu myths is that those who commit sins go to hell or
Naraka. Who is the lord of hell who decides the fate of people after
their death?

Yama. Yama is the God of death who presides over Naraka or Hell.
According to Hindu legends, when a person dies he goes before
Yama. Chitragupta is Yama's clerk who has with him a book
containing the life record of all humans. Based on the good deeds
and evil deeds (karma) done, the person is sent to hell or heaven.

In Hindu mythology who is the Goddess of wealth?

Lakshmi. In Hindu mythology Lakshmi or Shree is known as the


Goddess of wealth. Lakshmi is the consort of Lord Vishnu. Lakshmi
came forth from the churning of the ocean and selected Vishnu as
her consort. Saraswathi is the Goddess of Knowledge and wife of
Brahma and Parvati is the wife of Shiva and known as Shakthi - the
mother Goddess.
In Hindu mythology, how is an eclipse supposed to occur?

When the moon is swallowed by a planet. In Hindu mythology, the


malefic planet Rahu is believed to swallow the moon, resulting in an
eclipse.

One common aspect in Christian and Hindu mythology is the


concept of the first man and woman. While it is Adam and Eve in
Christian mythology, who is the first couple in Hindu mythology?

Manu and Shatrupa. The first man is Manu and the first woman is
Shatrupa. Both of them were created by the God Brahma. Since the
first man was Manu, the word for mankind is Manukula. Manu is
supposed to have drafted a code known as Manu Smriti. Indra is the
king of gods and Shachi is his wife; Hari is Lord Vishnu and Shree his
wife Lakshmi; Surya is the sun god and his wife is Chaya.

In Hindu mythology, the crow is regarded as an inauspicious bird.


What is the reason for this?

Because the crow is the vehicle of Saturn. The God Shani or Saturn
is supposed to ride on a crow. Saturn is regarded as very
inauspicious and is supposed to bring bad luck, so even the crow is
regarded as inauspicious and is avoided.

Diwali or Deepavali is one of the Hindu festivals popular throughout


the world. According to legend, why is this festival celebrated?

To celebrate the return of Lord Rama to his capital Ayodhya. Diwali or


Deepavali is the festival of lights. This festival is celebrated by lighting
lamps and bursting fire crackers. Legend has it that this festival is
celebrated to commemorate the return of Lord Rama to his capital
Ayodhya after killing the demon king Ravana and finishing an exile of
14 years. The festival of Dussehra or Dasara (Vijayadashami) is
celebrated to mark the killing of Ravana. According to some legends,
Deepavali is celebrated as 'Naraka Chaturthi' to mark the killing of the
demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna.