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Chapter 6 - Ravana and Gokarna Mahabaleshwar

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Namdharak- 'Swami, though Trimurti was Siddha, (Having Yogic power to do and undo things) why did he visit different holy placed and why did he prefer Gokarna to other places? What is its significance?' Shri Siddha 'I am much delighted with your question and I am encouraged to narrate incidents from Shri Guru's life. Shripad Shrivallabha reached Gokarna and on his way he made disciples and gave them divine advice.

Gokarna is a sacred place of Shri Shiva and one of the Twelve famous Jyotirlingas. Shri Ganesh founded here the original Linga-image of Shiva. It is known as Mahabaleshwar, the tale of which I shall narrate to you now.

'Ravana's mother Kaikaya (wife of Pulasti Manasaputra of Brahma) was a great devotee of Shiva. She worshiped a new Shiva Linga every day. One day she could not get a new Shiva Linga. Fearing that her

`Vrat' would be futile, she prepared an earthen Linga and began to worship it with devotion. Seeing this, Ravana asked her what she was doing. She said that she was worshiping a Shiva-Linga. Ravana said, 'You being my mother, it is a great misfortune that you should earthen Shiva Ling. Well what do you intend to achieve by this worship.?'

Mother replied that thereby she will get a place in Kailas, abode of Shiva after death. Thereupon Ravana said, `why do you take so much troubles? I shall bring Kailas itself to you'.

Saying this, he went to Kailas and began to shake it violently with his 20 hands. He tried to lift it up. Due to this action of his, 7 Patals were shaken, Shesh moved his hood, the tortoise began to tremble with fear. Amarpur (capital of Indra the King of Gods) and Heaven were shocked. Parvati went to Shri Shiva with fear and said, `What has happened to Kailas to day? When everyone was distress how are you lying at ease? Please do something to check this calamity.'

Shri Shiva said to her, `You need not be anxious. Ravana, one of my devotees, is playing a game'. Parvati entreated, `Kindly protect the Gods who terrified'.

Shri Shiva pressed Ravana's 10 heads and 20 hands underneath the Kailas. Finding himself in distress, Ravana uttered `Shiva-Shiva' and further prayed `Shri Shiva', I have made a mistake. Forgive me. I seek your shelter. Kindly do not kill me, your devotee.'

Shri Shiva, who is very simple and kind, was pleased by his prayer, so he took him up from breath. Ravana then cut his head, turned his hands into violin, he attached his intestines to serve as musical wires. He then began to chant Samveda and sing other Ragas on the tune of this musical instrument. He praised Shri Shiva in Nine Rasas and Thirtysix Ragas.

Being much pleased by Ravana's performance at great personal sacrifice, Shri shiva appeared before him and said, `I am much pleased. Ask for whatever you desire'.

Ravana said `Oh God of Gods, Laxmi is my maid-servant. I possess all the 8 treasures. Brahma is my priest, and all 33 crore Gods are serving me day and night. The Sun, the Moon, the Varuna and the Wind also obey me. Agni (Fire God) washes my clothes, Yama does not take away anybody without my permission. Indrajit is my son and Kumbakarna is my brother. Kamadhenu is at my doors. Now I have come to take away Kailas with me as my mother has accepted a `Vrat' to worship you daily. Kindly fulfill my mother's desire.'

Kailaspati Shri Shiva said, `If your mother wishes to worship me, what is the necessity of taking Kailas to her. I shall give you Atma-Linga which will fulfill all her desires instantly. It is just like my soul.

Saying this, he gave his Atma-Linga to Ravana and said, `After bath, place this at a holy place reciting Rudra sukta and worship it with 108 lap recitation of a particular mantra). One, who worships this Linga continuously for 3 years, will again my prowess. One, who possesses this Linga, will live for eternity, one is relieved of any great sin, simply with the sight of this Linga. Do not place this on the ground till you reach Lanka.'

Taking the Atma-Linga, Ravana at once started for Lanka. Naradamuni immediately approached Indra and said to him, `How are you sitting idle? Ravana has become immortal. You will lose all your prominence. Shri Shiva has given him Atma-Linga and has assured him that if he would worship it for 3 years with devotion, he will be Ishwar himself. How will you then rescue 33 crores of gods who are in his custody. Better you all be his slaves. Also send divine damsels like Urwashi, rambha, Menka etc. to him'. Being shocked, Indra requested Narada to advise what he would do. Narada asked him to go to brahma. Indra and Narada went to Brahma and narrated what had taken place. Then accompanied by Indra and Narada, Brahma went to Shri Vishnu and requested him to devise some means to overcome this calamity. Shri Vishnu was enraged to hear this tale. He, with all others immediately went to Shri Shiva. Shri Vishnu said to Shri Shiva, 'What made you give Atma-Linga to Ravana, the most wicked, who has made all the gods his captives? How do you bless such cruel persons? Now he will conquer even heaven.'

Shri Shiva said, 'I was extremely pleased with his devotion. He cut his head and hands and made a violin using his intestines as strings and sang Samveda and other songs in different ragas. This time if he had asked for Parwati, I would have given her even to him.'

Shri Vishnu said, 'You give such blessings and the demons become impudent and then we are troubled much as they harass the gods and Brahmins and I have to descend on the earth. Well tell me when did you give the Ling to Ravana?'

Shri Shiva said, 'I gave it to him only two hours before.' Hearings this Shri Vishnu immediately sent his Sudarshan Chakra to hide the Sun and asked Narada to Ravana and induce him to linger on the way, as he would like to observe evening Sandhya. Then he called Ganesh and said to him, 'Ravana  always disregards you. All bow to you first and you fulfill their desires. While those who speak ill of you, you bring obstacles in their undertakings. Ravana deceived Shri Shiva and has taken away from him the most valuable Atma-Linga. So you should go to him in the form of a Brahmachari boy and winning his confidence, take the Atma- Linga from him at Sun-set, when he would engage himself in the evening Sandhya and place the Linga on the earth. If you do so, the Linga will remain there. Saying this Shri Vishnu gave Ganesh various sweets, tilballs, gur, coconut kernel, milk, gee sugar etc.

Narada had already proceeded. Ganesh followed him hurriedly. Narada approached Ravana and said, 'I had just been to Kailas and knew that you pleased Shri Shiva by your hard penance and have brought his Atma-Linga from him. You have obtained extraordinary power and strength due to this. This Linga has great significance. Please let me see the Linga, I shall explain to you all its qualities.'

As Ravana did not believe Narada, he showed him the Linga from a distance. Narada asked, 'Do you know when and how this Linga came into existence? This is a very interesting account. A black skinned bright deer having all fragrant things, was lying in Brahmand-Khand. Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh once went there for hunting. They killed this deer and satisfied their hunger with its flesh. The deer had 3 horns on its head and 3 Lingas below. Each one of them took one Linga and preserved it as his Atma-Linga. One, who worships this for 3 years, becomes Ishwar himself. The place where this Linga is place, is like Kailas. Therefore Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh have great prominence over all other gods.'

Ravana intercepted, ' I have no time to listen to you, as I have to reach Lanka soon. Let me proceed further on my way.'

Narada said, 'This is evening time. You know the Vedas, you should act as prescribed by the vedas. This is the time for evening Sandhya. Let us perform the same.' Saying this Narada went away for Sandhya.

In the meantime Ravana saw Ganesh in the form of a Brahmachari boy who was plucking 'durvas'(a particular grass). Ravana thought that that boy would not deceive him. Better observe Sandhya entrusting the Linga to that boy.

So thinking he approached Ganesh, who was afraid to see Ravana with ten heads coming to him. But he began to run away. Ravana asked him, 'who are you? who are your parents?'

Ganesh said, 'Why are you inquiring? What does my father owe you? Ravana smiled and said 'Don't be afraid of me. I am asking this only out of curiosity.'

Ganesh replied, 'I am the son of Shri Shiva. He has ash marks all over the body, has a necklace of Rudra- beads around his neck and bears hair-locks on his head. My mother is Parwati. My father rides a bull Nandi with my mother and begs for alms daily.

Ravana said, 'your father is a pauper. He begs for alms from door to door. So it seems that you are unhappy at home. Inside in a beautiful city Lanka, rich with magnificent buildings, gardens and other wealth. You live with me. I shall give you whatever you desire.'

Ganesh said, 'there are many rakshasas in Lanka. They will devour me, a boy living in forest. Hence I would not come to Lanka. I am hungry and so I am eating these sweets.'

Ravana again entreated him to hold the Linga in his hand till he observed Sandhya.

Thereafter Ganesh said with hesitation, 'I am an ignorant boy. I won't hold this Linga in my hand as it may be heavy. Let me go to my place.' Still Ravana persuaded him and induced Ganesh to hold the Linga and he proceeded to observe Sandhya on the sea shore.

Ganesh warned him, 'Mind, as soon as I feel the Linga heavy, I shall place it on the earth.' Saying this Ganesh took the Linga and waited there. All the gods had gathered in the sky and were witnessing this event.

When Ravana was offering arghyas (water ablutions to fire god), Ganesh called Ravana and said that he is fatigued and he should take his Linga from him soon.' Ravana made signs by hand and asked him to wait for a little more time.

After a while Ganesh again called Ravana and asked him to come immediately as it was becoming unbearable for him to hold the Linga.

Ravana was meditating this time. Seeing that Ravana was not coming, Ganesh recollected Shri Vishnu's words and placed the Linga on the ground in the presence of the gods in the sky. All the gods were greatly pleased to see this and showered flowers in the head of Ganesh in admiration.

Soon after Ravana returned and seeing that the Linga was placed on the ground, he was much annoyed. He began to thrash Ganesh in wrath.

Ravana tried his best with all his might to lift up the Linga. The earth trembled but the Linga could not be shaken a bit. As Ravana tried to lift it up by screwing, it took the shape of an ear of the cow and so it is known as 'Gokarna' and as Ravana exercised all his might to lift it up it is called 'Mahabaleshwar'.

In despair Ravana then went to the forest for hard penance. There are many other incidents signifying the greatness of this holy place. This is narrated in the Skand Purana.

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