At the very beginning of the Universe, manifestation of Lord Vishnu afloat on an endless water surface was in Yoga Nidra (a state of Yogic Slumber) and from His navel sprouted a Lotus stem on top of which was lying Brahma.The latter wondered who He was and tried to ascertain the center of the Lotus and the its root for hundreds of years but in vain. There came a Celestial Voice commanding Brahma to perform ‘Tapasya’ and finally, there appeared Lord Vishnu and sought to endear the former as His own creation. But Brahma did not acknowledge Vishnu as a senior but defied and even fought with Him. Meanwhile an ‘Analstambha’ (a Pillar of Fire) representing Lord Siva appeared and both Brahma and Vishnu agreed to discover the colossal Fiery Pillar’s height and depth ahead of the other as a challenge to determine their mutual superiority; Brahma took the form of Swan and flew high while Vishnu sported the form of a boar and travelled down the massive ‘Linga’ to find out the depth. Brahma while travelling up and up caught hold of a ‘Ketaki’ flower falling from above and made the flower lie to announce that Brahma had discovered the top of the Pillar and provide evidence in His favour to Vishnu. Bhagavan Siva Himself appeared and displayed His anger on Brahma and the Ketaki flower. At the same time He was pleased with Vishnu for His truthfulness; Vishnu even admitted that Brahma was greater on the basis of the wrong claim and the misleading evidence of the Ketaki flower. Siva thus accorded the same status to Vishnu but punished Brahma by slicing one of his erstwhile five heads looking upward; He also cursed Brahma as ineligible for future worship by the Universe. As Brahma entreated Bhagavan Siva, the latter obliged Brahma as the Presiding Deity at ‘Yajnas’ (Sacrifices). He banned Ketaki flower for pujas (Worship), but on its repentance approved of the flower at Pujas to Vishnu. As all this drama happened on this specific night and all concerned prayed to Bhagavan Siva for His Benevolence; the night had been observed as ‘Siva Ratri’ ever since.That was the first time that Bhagavan Siva assumed the Linga form ( a cylindrical column) for worship. He affirmed that whoever worshipped Him that night (Chaturdasi night of Magha Month in the Krishna Paksha) and the following day would be blessed with the boon of a year long of worship to Him and would even be pleased better than His affection for His Son Karthikeya!
Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham
Kamakoti.org presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org