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.
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.
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.
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: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism 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 Tirtha, Kshetra, Gopitha 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.
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