Lord Shiva & Mohini

Mohini is the only female avatar of the Hindu God Vishnu. She is portrayed as an enchantress, who maddens lovers, sometimes leading them to their doom. Many different legends tell of her various exploits and marriages, including union with Lord Shiva.

Mohini also has an active history in the destruction of demons throughout Hindu texts. In the Vishnu Purana, Mohini defeats Bhasmasura, the “ash-demon”. Bhasmasura invokes God Shiva by performing severe penances. Lord Shiva, pleased with Bhasmasura, grants him the power to turn anyone into ashes by touching their head. The demon decides to try the power on Lord Shiva himself. Shiva runs terrified. Lord Vishnu, witnessing the unfortunate turn of events, transforms into Mohini and charms Bhasmasura. Bhasmasura is so taken by Mohini that he asks her to marry him. Mohini agrees, but only on the condition that Bhasmasura follows her move for move in a dance. In the course of the dance, she places her hand on her head. Bhasmasura mimics the action, and in turn, reduces himself to ashes.

After Lord Vishnu deceives the demons by his female form, Lord Shiva wishes to see the bewildering Mohini again. When Vishnu agrees and reveals his Mohini form, Lord Shiva runs crazily behind Mohini, while the abandoned wife Goddess Parvati looks on in shame and envy. Lord Shiva is overcome by Kama (love and desire).

Lord Shiva grabs Mohini’s hand and embraces her, but Mohini frees herself and runs further. Finally, Lord Shiva grabs her and their “violent coupling” leads to discharge of Lord Shiva’s seed. Lord Shiva impregnates Mohini, who gives birth to Lord Ayyappa. They abandon Ayyappa in shame.

The legend highlights Vishnu’s protests to be Mohini again and also notes that Ayyappa is born of Vishnu’s thigh as Mohini does not have a real womb. Another variant says that instead of a biological origin, Lord Ayyappa sprang from Shiva’s semen, which he ejaculated upon embracing Mohini. Lord Ayyappa is referred to as Hariharaputra, “the son of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara)”, and grows up to be a great hero.

Lord Shiva chases after Mohini

Lord Shiva chases after Mohini

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Brahmacharya and It’s Virtues

Introduction of Brahmacharya

Brahmacharya literally means “going after Brahman (Supreme Reality, Self or God)”. In one context, Brahmacharya is the first of four Ashrama (age-based stages) of a human life, with Grihastha (householder), Vanaprastha (forest dweller) and Sannyasa (renunciation) being the other three Ashramas.

The Brahmacharya (bachelor) stage of one’s life, up to 25 years of age, was focused on education and included the practice of celibacy. In this context, it connotes chastity during the student stage of life for the purposes of learning from a Guru (teacher), and during later stages of life for the purposes of attaining Moksha (spiritual liberation).

In another context, Brahmacharya is the virtue of celibacy when unmarried and fidelity when married. It represents a virtuous lifestyle that also includes simple living, meditation and other behaviors. In the Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist monastic traditions, Brahmacharya implies, among other things, the mandatory renunciation of sex and marriage. It is considered necessary for a monk’s spiritual practice. Western notions of the religious life as practiced in monastic settings mirror these characteristics.

 

Brahmacharya as a Virtue

Brahmacharya is a form of self-restraint which is regarded as a virtue. For a married practitioner it means marital fidelity (not cheating on one’s spouse). For a single person it means celibacy.

It is known that the virtue of Brahmacharya leads to the profit of Virya. This Sanskrit word, Virya, has been variously translated as virility and, by Vyasa, as strength and capacity. Vyasa explains that this virtue promotes other good qualities. Other ancient and medieval era texts of Hinduism describe the fruits of this virtue differently. Many great sages explained that Brahmacharya must be understood as the voluntary restraint of power.

Within the Upanishad’s verses there are mentions of Brahmacharya as a sacrament and sacrifice which, once perfected, leads to realization of the soul or Self (Atman), and thereafter becomes the habit of experiencing the soul in others. It is believed that Brahmacharya leads to the increase in Jnana-Shakti (power of knowledge) and Kriya-Shakti (power of action).

The great epic Mahabharata describes the objective of Brahmacharya as knowledge of Brahman. Brahmacharya leads one to union with the Supreme Soul or Self. By subduing desire, the practice of self-restraint enables the student to learn, pay attention in thought, word and deed to the Guru (teacher), and discover the truth embodied in the Vedas and Upanishads.

According to the epic, the practice of studying and learning requires the “aid of time,” as well as personal effort, ability, discussion, and practice, all of which are helped by the virtue of Brahmacharya. A Brahmacharya should do useful work, and the earnings he obtains should be given away as Dakshina (“fee,” “gift of thanks”) to the Guru. The epic declares that Brahmacharya is an essential part of the path in perfecting perseverance and the pursuit of knowledge.