A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jalandhar - Concluding Part

In the first part, we read about Jalandhar challenging Lord Indra and subsequently winning Lord Vishnu on his side. In the second part we read about Jalandhar trying to seduce Parvati, and she recognising him through his disguise. Upset about the deception, she approached Lord Vishnu to teach Jalandhar a lesson.

On the request of Parvati, Vishnu decided to teach Jalandhar a lesson, by paying him in the same coin.

With his powers, Vishnu assumed the form of Jalandhar and went to meet Vrinda. It is said that Jalandhar got much of his powers from her chastity which had made him near invincible (besides the blessings of Lord Brahma). But unlike Parvati, Vrinda could not realise that this was not her husband. For a brief moment, this chastity was broken and when Vrinda realised that she was cheated, she cursed Vishnu to become a stone, as it was a stone-hearted person who could think of such an act. After cursing, she jumped into the fire and ended her life.

Vishnu accepted the curse and promised her that he
Shaligram shila
would take the form of Shaligram shila on the banks of the river Gandika (now in Nepal). He also blessed Vrinda that she would reside with him at his abode, Vaikuntha, and on earth in the form of the Tulasi (basil) plant, she would be seen as the purest of all pure things. Thus the Tulasi plant is considered to be the purest of all, and a leaf of the plant is enough, if put on anything, to make it pure too. Tulasi is considered to be so close to Vishnu that the devotees never offer him anything without Tulasi leaves on it.

When Jalandhar came to know about the death of Vrinda, he felt both angry and sad. He realised that this was part of his doing. In the meanwhile, Shiva and his army realised the illusory effect created by Jalandhar. The battle ensued with an even greater vigour. Jalandhar was bent on avenging his wives death and Shiva was determined to end what was destined, but his creation nonetheless.

Without the protection of his wives chastity cover, Jalandhar started losing. After a heavy battle, Shiva killed Jalandhar. However, it is said, that after his death, the soul of Jalandhar united with Lord Shiva.

Some other versions say, that after the death of Jalandhar, the gods came to know that Vishnu was suffering from guilt of leading to the death of a chaste woman. In his depression, he smeared the ashes from the place where Vrinda burnt herself and moved around aimlessly. The gods approached Lord Shiva, who directed them to Parvati, as it was on her request, that Vishnu did whatever he did. Parvati, then
Malati flowers
gave a few seeds and asked them to sprinkle them at the place where Vrinda’s ashes lay. From there came up three plants, Tulasi, Amla and Malati (Chinese Honeysuckle). Later, Tulasi and Malati, found place in Vishnu’s Vaikuntha.

The above myth is written due to clarifications sought by some of my regular readers, who had some misconceptions about Jalandhar due to some representations they had come across. Such myths assume importance as they carry with them, many smaller myths, which gain individual importance. In this case, the personality of Jalandhar, the chastity of Vrinda, the presence of kirti-mukha as part of the temple architecture, the birth of medicinal plants like Tulasi and the presence of shaligram-shila in the riverbed, etc.

Just to reiterate –

  • Jalandhar was not a demon. He simply led the demons against the gods.
  • Jalandhar was a brave and courageous man, who was blessed by Lord Brahma, who impressed Lord Vishnu in battle and ended up being one with Lord Shiva. This makes him an impressive mythological character.
  • Besides the fact that he was a brave man, he also derived his strength from his wives chastity which speaks volumes of his personality and his conjugal life.
  • He was not a twin or a lookalike of Lord Shiva. He assumed Shiva’s looks only once and that too to seduce Parvati. However, Shiva’s radiance was not a demon out to seduce Parvati, it was a ploy of Shiva with the help of Narada, to lead to Jalandhar’s elimination.
  • Also, he was not the child of Shiva, he was just an ‘aspect’ of him, which came out of Shiva’s angry looks which needed a destination. Some also say that he was truly the child of Sea and Ganga as he was found at the confluence of the two and brought up by the Sea.

1 comment:

  1. In another version of this myth... when Vrinda realized she has been tricked by Visnu she burned herself as she could not return to her husband. Later from her ashes rose tusli- the holy Basel. Ashamed of his action, Visnu then promised Tulsi to wait outside his home and he would marry her once a year. symbolically Tulsi is a pure woman/plant who has been defiled by a man .There for she has no place in one's home but has to stand out side home... remember the movie Mein Tulsi tere aangan ki... Thus by marrying her, Visnu tried to remove the blot on her character. Every year people perform Tulsi vivah in memory of Vrinda.( Tulsi-vrindavan)

    What one observes is
    1) If raped /defiled by man one can marry the woman and thereby 'salvage' her honour.
    This practice is followed in India /south east asia even today.
    There are instances where courts have ordered the rapist to marry the raped woman. There by absolving him of rigorous punishment.
    2) although no fault of hers Vrinda had to kill herself to preserve the myth of chaste woman as the ultimate power of her husband.

    question is - is this myth evolved from a existing practice of crime against women which was prevalent at that time?
    or was it used to pardon a heinous crime like rape by just asking the rapist/man to marry the victim and let him go scot-free

    point is myths have a deep influence on the social practices and also are reflections of social beliefs.

    Such myths do reflect misogynistic tendencies of patriarchal ideology in Indian systems and need to be erased from the public memory if we need to empower women in India in true sense.