Stories of Bharat 2 - Mother's Day, Mohini Avatar, Tiger stories Ayyappa

  • This part is about Ayyappa of Sabarimala, how Vishnu assumed Mohini Avatar to destroy an Asura and the story of Pundalik and Purandara Vithala to make one realize the importance of parents.

The first lot of stories covered Guru, significance of Ganga Saptami and Sambaji Maharaj, son of Shivaji. To read part ONE


Why did I start writing these Stories?  

As a mother of three I have realized that many children are deprived of hearing tales that are Indian in origin. This could be for various reasons, an important one being that parents themselves do not know these tales.


The desire to learn English and about Western Nations meant that atleast two generations were fed tales from the West namely Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc. Because of this when you ask a child to write an essay of their favourite character they will write about Santa Claus and Snow White but not Shivaji.


So I took it upon myself to write short stories about India’s cultural heritage. The stories have been written in such a way that they can be read to children. At the same time I added snippets of our culture, rituals, shlokas, food, etc. so that children get to know about them. Must add that these stories are not meant to be scholarly pieces of work.

Mother and Child



In Bharat we do not have the concept of Mother’s day, Father’s day, etc. For us every day is a day when we respect and care for our parents. Sometimes we forget our duty and unknowingly cause a lot of hurt to our parents.

Let us listen to the story of a man who was very cruel to his old parents, changed and then became so devoted to his parents that it was reason for God to come and stay where he lived.

This is the story of Pundalik and Purandara Vithala.


In Dandivana, Pandharpur, Maharashtra lived a young man called Pundalik. His parents were very pious and old. After Pundalik got married, he started loving his wife so much that he neglected his parents, to the extent of ignoring the fact that his parents did all the work at home.


Once they wanted to go to Kashi, Pundalik and his wife too decided to go along. Pundalik made his parents walk while he and his wife went on horseback. After Kashi darshan and bathing at Prayagraj, on their way back they decided to stay back at Kukkuta Rishi’s ashram.


There too Pundalik rudely asked Kukkuta Rishi why his ashram was so far away from Prayagraj and why Kukkuta Rishi had not taken a dip in the Sangam. The Rishi smiled, blessed him and was silent. Kukkuta Rishi went into his own hut where he did Seva of his old parents.


In the night a miracle happened. Pundalik heard the sound of trinkets and came out to see who had come. He saw three beautiful ladies dressed in very dirty clothes, cleaning up the Ashram and doing all the work. Pundalik was unable to sleep and kept watching them.


By the time it was Brahma-muhurat, they finished their work but surprise! Their clothes were clean and the ladies had a glow about them. Pundalik approached the ladies and asked them who they were and what the miracle was all about. The ladies smiled and said that they were Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers in a human form.


Everyday thousands of people wash their sins by taking a bath in the Sangam (meeting of the rivers) at Prayagraj. That is why their bodies and clothes were dirty when they came to the Ashram. Kukkuta Rishi was blessed because he was so devoted to his parent’s well-being. Thus, by doing Seva in his Ashram, the Rivers became pure and clean again. Simply put, just doing the Rishi’s Seva, made Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati wash off all their sins.


Pundalik was overtaken with emotion. He remembered the cruelty to his parents and from then on decided that he too would look after his parents with devotion. He changed so much that his Matru-Pitru Bhakti became the talk of his town.


When Mahavishnu, in His Swaroop of Pandurang, came to Dandivana to look for Lakshmi (in the Swaroop of Rukmabai), He decided to visit Pundalik and bless him. He called out to Pundalik from outside the house. Pundalik looked through his window and saw that the Lord was indeed calling out to him. But he was pressing the feet of his parents and wanted to tuck them in bed first. So he threw a nearby brick out of the window and told Panduranga to stand on the Vith (brick) so that His feet wouldn’t get wet (the ground was wet), and wait for him. After his parents fell asleep, he came out and bowed down to Panduranga and apologized for keeping Him waiting.


Panduranga was very happy with his Matru-Pitru Bhakti and assured him that He was not at all annoyed because parents are the first Gods of children. He told Pundalik to ask for a boon. Pundalik requested Panduranga to continue to live there with Maa Rukmabai forever.


That is why in Pandharpur, Panduranga Vithala stands on a brick till today. Vithala comes from the word Vith + Sthal ie the God who is standing on the brick.


Jai Jai Vithala, Shree Hari Vithala, Panduranga Vithala, Rukmaai Vithala…





Today is Mohini Ekadashi. Mohini is the female avatar of MahaVishnu. She is the most beautiful woman, full of charm; witty and smart. She does not go around advising people on what to do. Instead she puts ideas in the minds of people in such a way that they think that the idea originated in their own head. She appears to fulfill a purpose and disappears the moment the purpose is completed. Almost all stories related to Mohini Avatar are interesting but I’m going to tell my most favorite tale of Mohini – it is the tale of Bhasmasur.


Bhasmasur was an Asura who had a lot of strength but very little intelligence. Now one day he decided that he should become the most feared Asura of all – anyone who saw him should get frightened and do exactly what he told them to do. So he decided to do Tapasya to get more powers. Since he adored Lord Shiva, he decided to do pray to Him. Shiva is Ashutosh, He is Bholenath that is He grants your desires and He is very innocent. After many years of tapasya, Shiva appeared before Bhasmasur and told him, “I am pleased with your tapasya … what do you want as a boon?”


Bhasmasur knew that if he said that he wanted to trouble people, he would not get the boon. So he said to Shiva, “You are worshipped with Bhasma and I want to do Bhasma-aarti to You every day. So please grant me the boon that if I keep my hand on anything, it will turn to ashes.” Bholenath agreed and gave him the boon.


Now, Bhasmasur started troubling people with this boon. He frightened innocent people, killed and troubled them. The people ran to the Rishis to ask for help and the Rishis realized that the boon given by Shiva could not be nullified by them. They went to MahaVishnu.


Now MahaVishnu was not Bhola … He knew exactly how to control Bhasmasur. He took the avatar of a beautiful woman called Mohini and went to the place where Bhasmasur was residing. The moment Bhasmasur saw Mohini, he wanted to touch her, marry her. But Mohini appeared to tease him and told him, “I won’t marry anyone just like that!” Bhasmasur was desperate and asked her as to what he should do to please her. Mohini said, “I will marry you only if you match my dance steps. I love to dance and if you can dance like me, I will marry you.”


Immediately Bhasmasur agreed and both started dancing. Mohini danced a little and asked Bhasmasur to do the same. They danced together for some hours and Bhasmasur became a little tired. But he did not stop, because he wanted to marry this beautiful lady. Mohini saw that Bhasmasur was now not very attentive and she did a step which ended with her putting her hand on her head. Bhasmasur copied the same and the moment he put his hand on his head, he turned to ashes.


This way, an evil Asura who wanted to trouble innocent people with his strength, died the death he wished for others. God never supports those who wants to harm others.





There are many stories in Bharat where children have been shown playing with or friendly with tigers & tigresses. There are also tales where tigers have been shown as the noblest of souls & where youngsters have shown their bravery by single-handedly defeating huge man-eating tigers. If you remember the story of Sambhaji Maharaj – he was called Chhava which means a lion cub.


Today we will talk about another brave child of Bharat - Ayyappa, the God of Sabarimala.

Remember the story of Mohini Avataar of MahaVishnu? Well, Shiva wanted to meet MahaVishnu as Mohini and when He did, He fell in love with Her. The meeting of their energies resulted in a child. This baby was found deep in the forest by the Pandalam King Rajashekhara. He was surprised to see the baby alone in the forest.


Nearby was a Sadhu-Sanyasi. The king asked the Sadhu about the child. The Sadhu told him to take the baby home and care for him as his own child. He also said that when the child turned 12 years of age, the glory and greatness (Mahima) of the child would be revealed. The baby had a bell (or a jeweled chain) around his neck & therefore was named “ManiKantha” – Mani means bell or jewel & kantha means neck.


As the years passed, the king and queen had a child of their own too. Now the queen became restless thinking that Manikantha who was not born from her would become King and not her son.


She confided in a minister. So both of them planned to get rid of Manikantha. As per their plan, Queen Dharmapriya would pretend she was severely ill and could be cured only by special treatment. As decided the queen pretended she was ill and no one could cure her. Finally the minister brought a Vaidya (doctor) who said that she could be cured only if she drank a medicine mixed with the milk of a tigress. No one in the court was willing to get milk of a tigress.


But Manikantha, who loved the queen as his own Mother, came forward to volunteer. He was a brave boy, strong and trained in all the Shaastras (scriptures) and Shastras (weapons). The king at first was hesitant since he loved Manikantha. But Manikantha assured him that he would bring the milk of a tigress for his Mother. He left for the forest.


Within no time Manikantha came back … What a sight!!! He came back riding on a tiger, with a retinue of tigers and tigresses. He had brought back the milk of a tigress. Not only that, he got more tigresses if milk was required. (Indra Dev was the tiger he was riding on & the others were other Devas and Devis).


Seeing the tigers and tigresses, King Rajashekhara remembered the words of the Sadhu. He realized that Manikantha was special. Now Manikantha revealed that he was the son of Shiva and Vishnu – Hariharaputra

The king and the queen fell at the feet of Manikantha and asked for forgiveness. Manikantha blessed his parents and assured them that he still loved them and said that it was Divine Will. He had gone to the forest to fulfill the reason of his birth (this story another day).


Rajashekhara asked Manikantha whether there was anything he could do for Manikantha. Manikantha shot an arrow at a distance and the arrow fell on the hill (Malaa in Malayalam) where Sabari had done tapasya and met Sri Rama. He requested that a Temple be built for Him there. And that is how a temple for Ayyappa was built on Sabarimala. Manikantha is also known as Ayyappa and Sastha.


Author is a mother to three children and writes on Spirituality, Women Empowerment and National Affairs. Her articles are published on amongst others. She believes in the cause of the Indian Breed of Cows and is a follower of Shree Ramachandrapura Matha, Karnataka.


Also read

1 Worship of God as Mother in the Indian tradition

2 Read about worship of Vithoba of Pandarpur

3 Pictures of Pandarpur Wari

4 Pics of Bhasmasur at Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalashetra Guwahati

5 All you wanted to know about worship of Swami Aiyappan

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