Hinduism Special

Hinduism is the oldest living religion on Earth and comprising several and varied systems of philosophy, belief, and ritual.Every religion has its rules and notions. The idiosyncratic theories of time and cosmology make Hinduism unique. Time is considered as the cycle of creation and destruction. As per Hindu Dharma time is endless and divided into four yugas which follow one after another. As per Hinduism, the time is divided into 4 Yugas like a cycle consisting of 4 laps, Satya Yuga — 4*432000 years, Treta Yuga — 3*432000 years, Dvapara Yuga — 2*432000 years and Kali Yuga — 432000 years.The ages see a gradual decline of dharma, wisdom, knowledge, intellectual capability, emotional and physical strength.

Our present time is a Kali Yuga, which started at 3102 BCE with the end of the Kurukshetra War (or Mahabharata war).This date is also considered by many Hindus to be the day that Krishna left Earth and went to his abode.

According to one Puranic astronomical estimate, the four Yuga have the following durations:

  • Satya Yuga equals 1,728,000 Human years
  • Treta Yuga equals 1,296,000 Human years
  • Dvapara Yuga equals 864,000 Human years
  • Kali Yuga equals 432,000 Human years

Although the early history of Hinduism is difficult to date with certainty, the following list presents a rough chronology.

  • Before 2000 BCE: The Indus Valley Civilisation
  • 1500–500 BCE: The Vedic Period
  • 500 BCE–500 CE: The Epic, Puranic and Classical Age
  • 500 CE–1500 CE: Medieval Period
  • 1500–1757 CE: Pre-Modern Period
  • 1757–1947 CE: British Period
  • 1947 CE–the present: Independent India

A journey of Satya yuga

Satya Yuga, also known as Satyug or Kṛta Yuga is the first of the four Yugas. Often referred as the Golden Age, Satya Yuga is considered as the purest era.

During Satya-Yuga humanity was governed by gods, and every manifestation or work was close to the purest ideal and humanity would allow intrinsic goodness to rule supreme.

The goddess Dharma depicted as a cow symbolizes morality who stood on all four legs during the period. Later in the Treta Yuga, it would become three, followed by two in the Dwapar Yuga. In Kali Yug, it stands on one leg.

Knowledge, meditation, and peace were the prime faces of Satya Yuga. The human was free from all the illusions.

The Satya Yuga was without ailments. There was no hatred, vanity, evil thought, sorrow, and fear. All human being could attain to supreme blessedness.

The people of Satya-yuga were self-satisfied, merciful, friendly to all, peaceful, sober and tolerant. They take their pleasure from within, see all things equally and endeavor diligently for spiritual perfection. They would worship the Supreme Personality by austere meditation as well as by internal and external sense control.

In Satya Yuga, Lord Vishnu incarnated in four forms, i.e., Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, and Narasimha. The only credible text followed was Manu’s Dharma Shastra. The average life expectancy of a human being in Satya Yuga was approximately 4000 years.

The Churning of the Ocean of Milk (also called Samudra manthan in Hindi or Ko Samut Teuk Dos in Khmer) is one of the most well-known legends of the Hindu mythology and of the Cambodian culture.

That story is depicted on a 49 meter-wide bas-relief carved on the walls of the east gallery of Angkor Wat temple, a religious site built in the 12th century by Khmer King Suryavarman II. Indeed, that World Heritage temple was in the first place a Hindu shrine dedicated to God Vishnu that was later converted to a Buddhist one. That’s the reason why nowadays, both Hindu and Buddhist rites are practiced inside.

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It is said that during this era, Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons) were fighting against each other to ensure their domination over the world. After many years of war, Devas were weakened and almost vanquished; so they went to see Supreme God Vishnu to ask Him for help. The latter promised to strengthen Devas by ordering them to seek for the Amrita, the sacred Elixir of Immortality. But this difficult task could not be achieved by them alone. They had to gather their forces in cooperation with Asuras in order to extract the Amrita from the depths of the cosmic sea.

To do so, they used Mount Meru as a churning stick and the King of snakes Vasuki as a churning rope. Devas and Asuras both pulled alternatively the Naga Vasuki on their respective side to churn the Ocean of Milk. As MountMeru was sinking, God Vishnu turned himself into his turtle avatar Akûpara to stabilize the mountain. Many treasures came out of the Ocean of Milk. Amongst them were celestial creatures called Apsaras coming on earth to entertain Gods and Kings.

The demons, tricked into pulling the head of the giant snake, were weakened after a thousand years of efforts by the Naga’s poison. Fortunately for them, God of health Dhanvantari emerged from the Ocean of Milk with the sacred Amrita. So they seized the elixir for their own sake.

As they were frightened by this act, the Devas informed Vishnu of the situation. The Supreme God then turned into another of His avatar, Mohini, the most beautiful women on earth. Mohini charmed the Asuras and took the opportunity to steal the Elixir of Immortality and gave it to the Devas. From this moment, the Gods would rule the world and send the Demons to hell.

A fierce fight ensued between demigods and demons for amrita. During the fight, four drops of amrita fell on earth at four places – Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Thats why a Kumbh mela ( a grand celebration of Hinduism)  held in only four cities.

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The marriage ritual of Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati took place in Satya Yuga. The Lord was known by the names of Dharma, Amala, Yogesvara, Paramatma, and Avyakta.

Daksha, Lord Brahma’s wish-born son, a prajapati (Lord of creatures), was entrusted with the duty to populate the Universe. He with his wife, Prastuti, had many daughters who were married off to gods and sages. Sati, his youngest daughter, was his favourite.Sati was the reincarnation of Ardhashakti, or the better half of Lord Shiva which he had sacrificed to maintain the balance in the Universe and was thus, destined to marry Lord Shiva. But Daksha detested him and his hermetic lifestyle.Sati grew up to be the most beautiful maiden in the entire Universe, and there were innumerable suitors who wanted her hand in marriage.Sati, determined to fulfill her destiny, went to the Himalayas to meditate and appease Lord Shiva. Pleased with her devotion, he agreed to marry her at once.All the gods attended their wedding. Daksha did not approve of the marriage, but reluctantly gave his consent. After the wedding, Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati made Mount Kailash their abode and led a happy married life.

Daksha felt insulted as he had to accept a hermetic Lord Shiva as his son-in-law and decided to avenge his pride. Soon after, he organised a grand yagna (ritual sacrifice) and invited all the gods except Lord Shiva.

When Goddess Sati found out about the yagna, she was furious at her father. She requested Lord Shiva to participate in it, but he refused. Goddess Sati was determined to confront her father. She said, “I am his daughter, and he owes me an explanation. He cannot stop me from being welcomed to my own home.” Lord Shiva, sensing trouble, tried to stop goddess Sati, but she would not listen to any warning.When Goddess Sati arrived at her father’s house, Daksha welcomed her coldly. He then proceeded to insult her husband in front of the guests.

Enraged at her father’s behaviour, a furious Goddess Sati declared that she would not tolerate any insult of her husband. Invoking a sacrificial fire, Goddess Sati sacrificed herself. Lord Shiva was furious after learning about Sati’s death. Unable to control his anger, he brought forth superior beings Virabhadra and Bhadrakali, to behead Daksha. Even though many gods tried to help Daksha, Virabhadra and Bhadrakali destroyed his army and beheaded him.

Lord Brahma pleaded to Lord Shiva for his son’s life and asked for forgiveness for his behaviour. Lord Shiva calmed down, and revived Daksha by replacing his head with a goat’s head. He placed Goddess Sati’s body on his shoulder and started walking through the Universe, neglecting his duties. The gods were very  concerned and approached Lord Vishnu to help restore balance in the Universe.

Lord Vishnu used his sudarshan chakra (a celestial weapon) to cut Sati’s body to pieces, which fell on earth. The total number of body pieces were 52, and they fell on 52 different places. All these places are known as holy 52 Shakti pithas in Hindu religion, and there is a Kali or Shakti temple in each of them. Lord Shiva returned to Mount Kailash to meditate and mourn his wife’s death. Goddess sati eventually returned to Lord Shiva by taking birth as Parvati.

Four Adi Shakti Pithas

Some of the great religious texts like the Shiva Purana, the Devi Bhagavata, the Kalika Purana and the AstaShakti recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers), like Bimala (Pada Khanda) (inside the Jagannath temple of Puri, Odisha), Tara Tarini (Sthana Khanda, Purnagiri, Breasts) (Near Berhampur, west Bengal), Kamakhya Temple (Yoni khanda) (Near Guwahati, Assam) and Dakshina Kalika (Mukha khanda) (Kolkata, West Bengal) originated from the parts of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga.

Sr. No. Place Body Part or Ornament
1 Puri, Odisha (inside Jagannath Temple complex) Pada Bimala
2 Berhampur, west Bengal Sthana khanda Tara Tarini
3 Guwahati, Assam Yoni khanda Kamakhya
4 Kolkata, West Bengal (Kalighat Kali Temple) Mukha khanda Dakshina Kalika

18 Maha Shakti Pithas

Sr. No. Place Appellation Part of the body fallen Shakti Temple
1 Trincomalee (Sri Lanka) Sankari Peetham Groin Sankari devi part of Koneswaram temple
2 Kanchi (Tamil Nadu) Adi Kamakshi Devi Temple(or Kaliyambal Temple) behind Kama koti peetam vertebrata Kamakshi Kamakshi Amman Temple
3 Pandua, Hoogly district (West Bengal) Pradyumna Peetham Stomach Shrinkala
4 Mysore (Karnataka) Krounja Peetham Hair Chamundeshwari Chamundeshwari Temple
5 Alampur, Gadwal district(Telangana) Yogini Peetham Upper teeth Jogulamba (Yogamba)
6 Srisailam, (Andhra Pradesh) Srisaila Peetham Neck part Bhramaramba Bhramaramba Mallikarjuna Temple
7 Kolhapur (Maharashtra) Shri Peetham Left eye Mahalakshmi Mahalakshmi Temple, Kolhapur
8 Hirvai ( Yavatmal District, Maharashtra) Back part Ekavirika Ekavira Temple
9 Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) Ujjaini Peetham Elbow Mahakali
10 Pithapuram (Andhra Pradesh) Pushkarini Peetham Left hand Puruhutika Kukkuteswara Swamy Temple
11 Jajpur (Odisha) Oddyana Peetham Naval(Navi) Biraja Biraja Temple
12 Draksharamam (Andhra Pradesh) Draksharama Peetham Navel Manikyamba devi part of Kumararama Bhimeswara Temple
13 Guwahati (Assam) Kamarupa Peetham Vulva Kamarupa Kamakhya Temple
14 Prayaga (Uttar Pradesh) Prayaga Peetham Fingers Madhaveswari devi Alopi Devi Mandir
15 Jawalamukhi (Himachal Pradesh) Jwalamukhi Peetham Head Part Jwalamukhi Jwalamukhi Devi Temple
16 Gaya (Bihar) Gaya Peetham Breast part Sarvamangala Mangla Gauri Temple
17 Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) Varanasi Peetham Throat Vishalakshi Vishalakshi Temple
18 Sharada Peetham (Kashmir) Lips Sharada Sharada Peeth(Destroyed)

First relating to Brahmanda Purana, one of the major eighteen Puranas, it mentions 64 Shakthi Peetha of Goddess Parvati in the Bharat or Greater India including present day India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, some parts of Southern Tibet and parts of southern Pakistan. Another text which gives a listing of these shrines, is the Shakthi Peetha Stotram, written by Adi Shankara, the 9th-century Hindu philosopher.

Sr. No. Place State in India/Country Body Part or Ornament Shakti Bhairava Image
1 A. Amarnath
B. Shri Parvat in Ladakh
Jammu and Kashmir A. Throat
B. Anklet
Mahamaya Trisandhyeshwar Lord Amarnath.jpg
2 At a village also named as Attahas or Ashtahas in the district of Birbhum West Bengal Lips Phullara Vishvesh
3 Bahula, on the banks of Ajay river at Ketugram, 8 km from Katwa, Burdwan West Bengal Left arm Goddess Bahula Bhiruk
4 Bakreshwar, on the banks of Paaphara river,  7 km from Dubrajpur Rly. Station West Bengal Portion between the eyebrows Mahishmardini Vakranath
5 Bhairavparvat, at Bhairav hills on the banks of Shipra river in the city of Ujjaini. These Shaktpeeth known as Harsiddi temple. Madhya Pradesh Elbow Avanti Lambkarna
6 Bhabanipur, located in the Upazilla of Sherpur, Bogra, Rajshahi Division. Also located at Karatoyatat, it is about 28 km distance from the town of Sherpur. Bangladesh Left anklet (ornament) Aparna Vaman
7 Chhinnamastika Shaktipeeth at Chintpurni, in Una District of Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Feet Chhinnamastika Rudra Mahadev
8 Gandaki, Pokhara about 125 km on the banks of Gandaki river. Locals call as Bindyabasini Temple or Bhadrakali Temple.Muktinath Nepal Temple Gandaki Chandi Chakrapani
9 Goddess Bhadrakali on banks of Godavari in Nashik city (Saptashrungi) Maharashtra Chin (2 parts) Bhramari Vikritaksh
10 Hinglaj (Or Hingula), southern Baluchistan a few hours North-east of Gawadar and about 125 km towards North-west from Karachi Pakistan Bramharandhra (Part of the head) Kottari Bhimlochan
11 Jayanti at Nartiang village in the Jaintia Hills district. This Shakthi Peetha is locally known as the Nartiang Durga Temple. Meghalaya Left thigh Jayanti Kramadishwar
12 Jessoreswari, situated at Ishwaripur, Shyamnagar Upazila, Khulna Division. The temple complex was built by Maharaja Pratapaditya, whose capital was Ishwaripur. Bangladesh Palms of hands and soles of the feet Jashoreshwari Chanda
13 Jwalaji, Kangra from Pathankot alight at Jwalamukhi Road Station from there 20 km Himachal Pradesh Tongue Siddhida (Ambika) Unmatta Bhairav
14 Kalipeeth, (Kalighat, Kolkata) West Bengal Right Toes Kalika Nakuleshwar
15 Kalmadhav on the banks of Son River in a cave over hills near to Amarkantak Madhya Pradesh Left buttock Kali Asitang
16 Kamgiri, Kamakhya, in the Neelachal hills in Guwahati Assam Genitals Kamakhya Umanand
17 Kankalitala, on the banks of Kopai River 10 km north-east of Bolpur station in Birbhum district, Devi locally known as Kankaleshwari West Bengal Pelvis Devgarbha Ruru
18 Kanyashram of Balaambika – The Bhagavathy temple in Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of mainland India, Tamil Nadu (also thought to be situated in Yunnan province, China) Tamil Nadu Back Sarvani Nimish
19 Karnat, Brajeshwari Devi, Kangra Himachal Pradesh Left Breast Jayadurga Abhiru
20 Kireet at Kireetkona village, 3 km from Lalbag Court Roadstation under district Murshidabad West Bengal Crown Vimla Sanwart
21 Locally known as Anandamayee Temple. Ratnavali, on the banks of Ratnakar river at Khanakul I Krishnanagar, district Hooghly West Bengal Right Shoulder Kumari Ghanteshwar
22 A.Locally known as Bhramari Devi in Jalpaiguri near a small village Boda on the bank of river Teesta or Tri-shrota (combination of three flows) mentioned in Puranas
B.Ma Malai Chandi Temple at Amta, Howrah
West Bengal A. Left leg
B. Part of Left Knee
Bhraamari Ambar
23 Manas, under Tibet at the foot of Mount Kailash in Lake Manasarovar, a piece of Stone China Right hand Dakshayani Amar
24 Manibandh, at Gayatri hills near Pushkar 11 km north-west of Ajmer. People know this temple as Chamunda Mata Temple. Rajasthan Wrists Gayatri Sarvanand
25 Mithila, near Janakpur railway station on the border of India and Nepal Nepal Left shoulder Uma Mahodar
26 Nainativu (Manipallavam), Northern Province, Sri Lanka. Located 36 km from the ancient capital of the Jaffna kingdom, Nallur. The murti of the Goddess is believed to have been consecrated and worshipped by Lord Indra. The protagonist, Lord Rama and antagonist, Ravana of  the  Sanskrit  epic  Ramayana  have offered obeisances to the Goddess. Nāga and Garuda of the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata; resolved their longstanding feuds after worshipping this Goddess. Sri Lanka Silambu(Anklets) Indrakshi (Nagapooshani / Bhuvaneswari) Rakshaseshwar (Nayanair)
27 Nepal, near Pashupatinath Temple at Guhyeshwari Temple Nepal Both Knees Mahashira Kapali
28 On Chandranath hill near Sitakunda station of Chittagong Division. The famous Chandranath Temple on the top of the hill is the Bhairav temple of this Shakthi Peetha, not the Shakthi Peeth itself. Bangladesh Right arm Bhawani Chandrashekhar
29 Panchsagar Near Lohaghat (in Champawat District of Uttarakhand) nearly 100 km from nearest railway station Tanakpur. DeviDhura Champawat Varahi Devi Uttarakhand Lower teeth/ Navel Varahi Maharudra
30 Prabhas, 4 km from Veraval station near Somnath temple in Junagadh district. Local People call this temple as Kali Mandir, It is nearby Triveni Sangam. Gujarat Stomach Chandrabhaga Vakratund
31 Prayaga Madhaveswari known as Alopi Mata near Sangam at Allahabad Uttar Pradesh Finger Lalita Bhava
32 Present day Kurukshetra town or Thanesar ancient Sthaneshwar Haryana Ankle bone Savitri/BhadraKali Sthanu
33 Sharda Peeth on top Trikoot Hill, at Maihar Madhya Pradesh Right breast Shivani Chanda
34 Nandikeshwari Temple, locally known as Nandikeshwari Tala, is situated in Sainthia (Nandipur) town of Birbhum District. West Bengal Necklace Nandini Nandikeshwar
35 Kotilingeswar Ghat temple on the banks of Godavari river near Rajamundry Andhra Pradesh Cheeks Rakini or Vishweshwari Vatsnabh or Dandpani
36 Naina Devi temple in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh Himachal Pradesh Right Eye Mahishmardini Krodhish
37 Shondesh, at the source point of Narmada River in Amarkantak Madhya Pradesh Right buttock Narmada Bhadrasen
38 Srisailam in Shriparvat hills under Kurnool district Andhra Pradesh Right anklet (ornament) Shrisundari Sundaranand
39 Sri Sailam, at Nallamalai hills, Andhra Pradesh Andhra Pradesh, India Neck Mahalaxmi Sambaranand
40 Shuchi, in a Shiva temple at Suchindrum 11 km on Kanyakumari Trivandrum road Tamil Nadu Upper teeth Narayani Sanhar
41 Sugandha, situated in Shikarpur, Gournadi, about 20 km from Barisal town, on the banks of Sonda river. Bangladesh Nose Sugandha Trayambak
42 Udaipur, Tripura, at the top of the hills known as Tripura Sundari temple near Radhakishorepur village, a little distance away from Udaipur town Tripura Right leg Tripura Sundari Tripuresh
43 Ujaani, at Mangalkot 16 km from Guskara station under Burdwan district West Bengal Right wrist Mangal Chandika Kapilambar
44 Varanasi at Manikarnika Ghat on banks of the Ganges at Kashi Uttar Pradesh Earring Vishalakshi & Manikarni Kalbhairav
45 Vibhash, at Tamluk under district Purba Medinipur West Bengal Left ankle Kapalini (Bhimarupa) Sarvanand
46 virat nagar district alwar, near Bharatpur Rajasthan Left toes Ambika Amriteshwar
47 Vrindavan, near new bus stand on Bhuteshwar road within Bhuteshwar Mahadev Temple, Katyayanipeeth. Uttar Pradesh Ringlets of hair Uma Bhutesh
48 Jalandhar, from Jalandhar Cantonment Station to Devi Talab. Punjab Left Breast Tripurmalini Bhishan
49 Baidyanath Dham Jharkhand Heart Jaya Durga Baidyanath
50 Kancheepuram Tamil Nadu Odyanam(Navel) Kamakshi
51 Jogadya , at Kshirgram  near Kaichar under Burdwan district West Bengal Great Toe Jogadya Ksheer Kantak
52 Pithapuram under Kakinada Port Town Andhra Pradesh Hip Part Purohotika
53 Ambaji Gujarat Heart Amba Batuk Bhairav
54 Jwaladevi Temple, Shaktinagar, Sonbhadra Uttar Pradesh Tongue Jwala Devi
55 Chandika Sthan , near Munger town Bihar Left Eye Chandika Devi
56 Danteshwari Temple, Dantewada Chhattisgarh Tooth or daant Danteshwari devi Kapalbhairav
57 Juranpur, Nadia West Bengal
58 Taratarini, Ganjam Odisha Breast/Stan Taratarini Tumbeswar
59 Nalhateswari, Nalhati West Bengal Stomach/Nauli Kalika Jogesh

Main traditions/denominations

Hindu denominations are traditions within Hinduism centered on one or more gods or goddesses, such as Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Sometimes the term is used for sampradayas led by a particular guru with a particular philosophy.Four major denominations are, however, used in scholarly studies: VaishnavismShaivismShaktism and Smartism.

Vaishnavism is the devotional religious tradition that worships Vishnu and his avatars, particularly  Krishna  and  Rama . The adherents of this sect are generally non-ascetic, monastic, oriented towards community events and devotionalism practices inspired by “intimate loving, joyous, playful” Krishna and other Vishnu avatars.

Shaivism is the tradition that focuses on Shiva. Shaivas are more attracted to ascetic individualism, and it has several sub-schools. Their practices include Bhakti-style devotionalism, yet their beliefs lean towards nondual, monistic schools of Hinduism such as Advaita and Yoga.

Shaktism focuses on goddess worship of Shakti or Devi as cosmic mother, and it is particularly common in northeastern and eastern states of India such as Assam and Bengal. Devi is depicted as in gentler forms like Parvati, the consort of Shiva; or, as fierce warrior goddesses like Kali and Durga.

Smartism centers its worship simultaneously on all the major Hindu deities: Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti ,  Ganesha ,  Surya  and Skanda. The Smarta tradition developed during the (early) Classical Period of Hinduism around the beginning of the Common Era, when Hinduism emerged from the interaction between Brahmanism and local traditions.

Based on above denominations/traditions , pilgrimage sites are called TirthaKshetraGopitha or Mahalaya.The process or journey associated with Tirtha is called Tirtha-yatra. According to the Hindu text Skanda Purana, Tirtha are of three kinds: Jangam Tirtha is to a place movable of a sadhu, a rishi, a guru; Sthawar Tirtha is to a place immovable, like Benaras, Hardwar, Mount Kailash, holy rivers; while Manas Tirtha is to a place of mind of truth, charity, patience, compassion, soft speech, soul.

Pilgrimage sites of Hinduism are mentioned in the epic Mahabharata and the Puranas. Most Puranas include large sections on Tirtha Mahatmya along with tourist guides, which describe sacred sites and places to visit.In these texts, Varanasi (Benares, Kashi), Rameshwaram, Kanchipuram, Dwarka, Puri, Haridwar, Sri Rangam ,  Vrindavan, Ayodhya, Tirupati, Mayapur, Nathdwara, twelve Jyotirlinga and Shakti Peetha have been mentioned as particularly holy sites, along with geographies where major rivers meet (sangam) or join the sea. Kumbhamela is another major pilgrimage on the eve of the solar festival Makar Sankranti.

Visiting the numerous Hinduism pilgrimage sites of India is an extremely spiritual experience. You can actually avail a holistic retreat by paying a visit to this land of various religious beliefs. We offer tours to various religious destinations for a spiritual experience.

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