‘Ekapatni Vrat’ (vow of loyalty to one’s wife) is a unique characteristic of a genuine householder. In today’s world, this is known as monogamy. Srimad Ramayana portrays Sri Rama as following ‘ekapatni Vrat’. Being loyal to one’s wife is not an uncommon characteristic. Therefore, is it not surprising that this feature of Lord Rama should be acclaimed by one and all?During His discourse (in Nov 2010), Sri Swamiji gave a unique explanation to this feature of Sri Rama.Lord Vishnu has two Consorts – Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. In the several incarnations of His, the Lord was accompanied by both His Consorts. However, His Avatar as Rama has been exceptional. In this Avatar of the Lord as Rama when Sri Devi (Sita) was with Him, His other Consort – Bhoo Devi – was not with Him. Bhoo Devi, in this instance, is represented by the kingdom of Ayodhya. During his time in the forest only Sri Devi (Sita) was with him. Bhoo Devi was not with him.After he returned from the forest and became the king of Ayodhya, only Bhoo Devi (the kingdom) was with him; Sri Devi (Sita) left him. Thus, Lord Rama was with only one wife (either Sri Devi [Sita] or Bhoo Devi [the kingdom of Ayodhya]) – ‘eka patni’.
The mouse is Lord Ganesha’s vehicle. We often see Lord Ganesha wearing the snake as a belt on his waist. In normal circumstances, the mouse and the snake are deadly enemies ( ‘ahi mooshikavat’ - Srimad Bhagavatam 8:6:20).
One name for the elephant Lord Ganesha is ‘Heramba’. In this form, Lord Ganesha is depicted as sitting on a lion. In normal circumstances, it is said an elephant, even in its dream, is terrorized by a lion!
Peacock is considered as the vehicle of Lord Subrahmanya. Lord Subrahmanya is associated with the snake (’bhujangam’). In normal circumstances, the snake and the peacock are deadly enemies.
Garuda is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. We also see that Lord Vishnu has Adisesha (the snake) as his bed. In normal circumstances, the Garuda and the snake are deadly enemies.
It is a traditional lore that during the lunar eclipse, the snake eats up the moon. However, we see that Lord Shiva wears the snake on his neck, as also the moon on his head.
The bull (’rishabha’) is the vehicle of Lord Shiva and the lion is the vehicle of Devi. Shiva and Parvati share the same form (Ardhanareeshwara) while under normal circumstances, a lion would not let go of a bull!
The philosophy behind such a portayal is that, in divine presence, even the deadliest of enemies lose their tendency of hatred.
Our Shastras designate importance to certain flora and fauna, and state that God resides in these places. A few are given below:
In the root of the ‘pArijAta’ tree resides Lord Anjaneya. In the roots of the ‘Magizham’ plant lives Ambal (Devi) and behind the leaves of Bilwa lives Goddess Mahalakshmi.
The Lord’s divine presence is said to be found in a ‘aswattha’ tree and in the glowing flame of a lamp.
Mahalakshmi is said to reside in a home
* that serves the Sadhus,
* that leads a righteous life (‘sadachara’),
* which is benevolent,
* where the floors are cleansed with cow dung,
* which has Tulasi plant, Bilwa tree,
* filled with Sumangalis,
* where lamp is lit at dusk,
* where people are humble ,
* where Nama Sankirtan is performed,
* which echoes with the sound of the Vedas,
* where people are affectionate,
* which is bereft of quarrels, tears, commotion, hatred, anger and torment.
Shiva is often considered as the God of destruction. For destruction, one requires Shakti (power), which happens to be His consort. It is a general principle that the power and the possessor of the power cannot be separated.
For instance, a sword and the quality of ‘sharpness’ cannot be separated. They go hand in hand. [‘Shakti-shaktimato: abheda:’] Hence Lord Shiva and Parvathi are depicted as inseparable, in the form of ‘Ardhanareeshwara’.
For the Lord that preserves and maintains the Universe, all the living beings expect grace and compassion. Compassion springs from the heart. [That is why when someone is rude, we call him heartless]. Vishnu, the Lord of Preservation, has His consort, the Mother, who is the epitome of compassion, verily in His heart. [We see this in Sri Venkateswara Perumal who has His consorts on His chest]
Similarly, ‘Vani’ or Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge is said to reside verily in the tongue of the Creator Brahma.
If we observe any form of Lord Vishnu lying on a serpent (for eg. Lord Ranganatha in Srirangam or Lord Vishnu in the Ocean of Milk), the serpent has three and a half coils. What is its significance?
In Raja Yoga, it is said that the ‘Sushumna’ nerve in our body is the one through which the serpent power called Kundalini rises. Through proper practice, this serpent power can be risen. This ‘Sushumna’ nerve lies in our body as three and a half coils.
The Kamakshi Temple in Kanchipuram has 3 Prakaras and the innermost prakara terminating half-way at ‘Aroopa Kamakshi’. That makes it three-and a half prakaras, again signifying the same fact.
When the Kundalini rises, it passes through seven Chakras - Muladhara, Svadishtana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajnachakra a nd Sahasrara.
The Srirangam temple has seven prakaras to denote the the seven chakras.
The Seven Hills of Tirupati signify this fact.
The town of Thiruvayyaru in Tamil Nadu has no Vishnu Temple. This is because, the presiding deity of this town, Dharmasamvardhini, sports the conch (’sankha’) and wheel (’chakra’) which are artifacts of Maha Vishnu, making this deity verily a form (’amsa’) of Vishnu.
Sri Maha Vishnu married Sri Lakshmi who emerged from the ‘ksheerabdi’ or the ocean of milk. The moon emerged from the ocean too, and hence is considered the brother of Maha Lakshmi.
Sri Maha Vishnu and Sri Maha Lakshmi are considered the universal father and mother and all the world’s creations are their children.
That is why we refer to the moon as ‘Chanda Mama’ or ‘Ambuli Mama’
Why is Maha Vishnu said to have taken 24 major Avatars?
Maha Vishnu sports four different artifacts in his four hands — ’shanka’ (conch), ‘chakra’ (wheel), ‘gadha’ (mace) and ‘padma’ (lotus).
If these four objects are re-arranged in the four hands in all possible sequences, then it amounts to 24 different combinations. — and hence 24 different Avatars!
[For those Maths geeks: Number of Permutations = 4! (factorial) = 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24]
What is the significance behind Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva’s consorts?
Brahma is the Lord of creation. To carry out the task of creation properly, the most important requisite is Knowledge or Vidhya, so we have Saraswati as his consort.
To sustain and maintain this world, Maha Vishnu is the presiding deity; to support this work, the primary requisite is Bhoomi (the land) and ‘Sri’ ( all the wealth including dhAnya- food grains etc.) and so they are the consorts of Maha Vishnu.
In order for Lord Shiva to undertake the task of destruction, Shakti or energy is required, and so Shakti is the consort of Lord Shiva.