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Stories behind celebration of dhanteras
Posted By Sarin on Oct 31, 2013     RSS Feeds     Latest Hinduism news
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Dhanteras is a very auspicious day celebrated with lot of fun and enthusiasm all around the country. Dhanteras marks the first day of diwali followed by Narak Chaturdasi, Diwali, Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj. Children celebrate Dhanteras by firing colorful rockets and crackers. Dhanteras creates a positive flow of energy into the environment and strengthens the bond of love and relationship among the members of the family. On this day, Lord Dhanvantri, Lord kuber, Lord Yama and goddess Lakshmi are worshipped(Also read Why Diwali is celebrated and what it teaches us).  
  
Now the first question arises: Why they are worshipped? This is what I am going to elaborate in this article.
Story of king Hima and Lord Yama
King Hima son predicted to die of snake bite after marriage
According to this story, there was one Son of King Hima whose horoscope, prepared by a revered sage, predicted death by snake bite on the fourth day of his marriage. King only wish from god was the happy prosperous life of his son but he was short of ideas in keeping the son happy. With such mixed emotions, he was very depressed and decided to isolate his son to a place where there are no ladies.  
  
King son got married and princess decides to change the course of destiny
However, once a beautiful princes passed through the palace where the son of king lived. It was like love at first sight and both of them got married after some ishq wala love. When king told the princess about his son forecasted death, she was sad but decided not to accept defeat so easily. King tried to console her by saying that she cannot change the destiny of his son but the princess had made up her mind to change the destiny of her husband.
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras
  
Princess lightens the palace with precious metals and lamps
On the fourth day of his marriage, his wife blocked the entrance of the boudoir with gold, silver and other precious metals. Additionally, huge innumerable lamps and diyas were lighted all round the palace. The whole palace was decorated with pleasant flowers, colorful embroidery, artificial ornaments etc. To keep his husband awaken, she narrated many exciting stories and sang beautiful songs
  
Yama, the lord of death, fails to take king son life
Yama, the deity of death, arrived into the king palace taking the form of a poisonous snake. Blinded by the dazzle of lustrous gold/silver and shimmering lamps, Yama was unable to enter the king son chamber. He started climbing the heap of ornaments and very soon, reached the top of the mountainous ornaments. There, he got so mesmerized to thrilling stories and melodious songs of princess that he failed to comprehend the passage of time and no sooner did he comprehend, the time span of taking his life was over. Now that the yama cannot take the life of any human outside the written time span, he had to return back empty handed. In this way, the intelligence of the wife saved the life of her husband from the clutches of death.  
  
Rituals that came from this story
Since the king son was saved because of the glittering of the gold and illuminations of the lamps, dhanteras is celebrated by buying of gold and lighting of diyas and lamps. This is the reason why dhanteras is also called as 'Yamadeepdaan' and ‘Chhoti Diwali’ as the lamps are lighted to keep the deity of death away from the house. One who worships lord yama on dhanteras is saved from untimely death. Diyas and lamps are placed in the south direction as it is the direction of Lord Yama.
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras
Court of king yama, lord of death

Bollywood dialogues inspired by this story
Based on this story, there is a very popular saying in Hindi, which you may have heard in many Bollywood movies “Agar patni chahe toh yamraj se bhi pati ke pran laa sakti hai”, which literally translates to “If the wife is determined, she can bring the life of her husband back from yama.”  
  
Spiritual learning from this story
This story also teaches us that our fate or destiny can be changed by perseverance, hard work, positive thoughts and good karma. Good deed is what you need to shape your destiny. With good thoughts, you can win over death.
In Bhagavad Gita, there is one verse where lord Krishna emphasized the importance of good thoughts at the time of death
Bhagavad gita chapter 8, verse 24
Verse:
“agnir jyotir ahah suklah, shan-masa uttarayanam, tatra prayata gacchanti, brahma brahma-vido janah”.
Translation:  People attain salvation if they leave the body in Uttarayana, during the fortnight before full moon, in day light, near fire, at an auspicious moment of the day.  

Story of dhanvantri emerging from samundra manthan
Dhanteras is also celebrated in the honor of Dhanavantri, the ayurvedic physician of heavenly deities and incarnation of lord Vishnu. Isn’t health the greatest wealth? So, Lord dhanvatri is invoked for better health and spiritual wealth. Below is the lengthy story of lord dhanvantri
  
Sage Durvasa cursed Lord indra to lost all worldly glories and powers
According to the story of Samudra manthan, Lord indra, who was very proud of his heavenly status, was cursed by sage durvasa to lose all his wealth, honor and heavenly position.  
  
Why Lord indra was cursed?
There was a time when all the Devas were living happily in heaven, taking care of all the creatures of mother earth. Each of the Devas had immense power and was responsible for taking care of one of the materialistic aspects of mother earth like wind, water, fire etc. One day, Sage Durvasa Visited Vaikuntha(Abode of lord Vishnu) to offer his obeisances to Lord Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi. An apsara (Damsel) welcomed sage durvasa by gifting him one of goddess Lakshmi garlands, gifted to her by goddess Lakshmi. While returning from vaikuntha, Sage durvasa happened to pass through Indra loka (Abode of lord Indra). Sage offered the gifted garland to Indra. Indra accepted the sage gift but instead of wearing it, he kept the garland on his Airavat (elephant) head. Airavat, unaware of the value of the garland, threw away the garland and stamped on it crushing the garland completely. Indra and other Devas didn’t bother to stop the Airavat from destroying the precious garland of goddess lakshmi. This angered sage durvasa and he cursed Indra for his lack of respect. He cursed Indra and the rest of Devas that they will lose all their power and glories.  
  
Devas request Lord Brahma for help 
Hiding from the sight of the demons, indra asked brihaspati(Priest of heaven) to fix this situation. Brihaspati sought lord Brahma help but Lord Brahma directed them to lord Vishnu as his job is only to involve in matters regarding the creation of the universe, and not in the preservation or destruction of the universe. 
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras
Brahma- the creator of the universe

Devas request Lord Vishnu for help 
Lord Vishnu advised lord indra to churn the ocean of milk so that the nectar that comes out of that churning will make them immortal and help them regain their kingdom. Lord Vishnu warned Indra and other Devas to not desire anything else that comes out of the ocean as the result of the churning. He suggested them to keep churning till the nectar appears on the surface of the ocean. He also assured them that once the nectar comes to the surface; he himself would protect it and would see that the nectar is not consumed by even a single demon. 
 
Indra plans the churning of the ocean 
To churn the ocean, a huge team was needed and Indra army was not enough to churn the ocean. Vishnu suggested Indra to draw a temporary truce with demons for churning of the ocean.  As the demons are always seeking for immense strength and nectar of immortality, they would blindly agree to churn the ocean.   

Arrangements for churning of the ocean 
To churn the ocean, Lord Vishnu request Pakshi Raj (Lord of Birds) to bring the Mandhara Mountain. Vasuki (Lord of snakes) wraps himself to the mountain and volunteered to become the rope for tug of war between the demons and Devas.   

Lord Vishnu asks narada to resolve a minor problem 
Before the start of the churning, Vishnu calls sage Narada for a minor problem. Since fire comes out of Vasuki mouth, Vishnu tells Narada to make sure the Devas don’t have to hold the front part of Vasuki. Narada assures Vishnu that he will take care of the problem.   

Narada plays his trick on demons
As expected, a conflict rose among the demons and Devas on who should hold the front part of the snake Vasuki. Narada came in by saying that “One who is great should hold the front part of Vasuki. Since the Devas are great, they should hold the front part”. Extremely proud of their victory over the deities, demons reminded narada that in the last war, they defeated Devas. Hence they are great and so, they have the right to hold the front part. Narada smilingly agrees and convinces Devas to hold the end part of snake Vasuki.   
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras   Demons holding the front end of Vasuki as shown in suvarnabhumi airport, Thailand 

Lord Vishnu takes Kurma avatar 
All set, Indra asks Pakshi raj to place the Mandhara Mountain inside the ocean. When Pakshi raj tries to place the mountain onto the ocean, mountain starts sinking owing to the massive depth of the ocean. Demons threaten to walk out since stopping the mountain from sinking was an impossible task for them. Seeing this, Lord Vishnu interfered immediately and took the avatar of the huge giant Kurma (Tortoise). Diving deep into the ocean, Kurma bore the colossal mountain on its back. Before taking the form of Kurma, Lord Vishnu informs her consort Lakshmi about his departure to the churning site. Lakshmi also wanted to go with him but lord Vishnu convinces her to stay for some time since she also has a role to play in this game of churning of ocean.
Churning of the ocean begins 
upon balancing the mountain on his back, Vishnu asks Indra to continue with the churning of the ocean. Demons take the front end of Vasuki and Devas held the rare end. Churning process starts and the Devas & demons pulled the Mandhara Mountain alternately causing the mountain to rotate. Since the mountain was huge and heavy, the churning process caused huge waves and the shaking of the site caused the water level of ocean to rise. 
Lord Vishnu sits on top of the mountain 
As Devas and demons tried to lift the mountain, it became extremely heavy and the demons crushed under its sheer pressure. Lord Vishnu intervened once again and balanced the mountain by sitting on the top of the mountain. 
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras   Lord Vishnu on top of the mountain as depicted at suvarnabhumi airport, Thailand 
 
Demons and Devas gets terrified of poison 
during the churning; Vasuki was suffering extreme pain and was unable to stop himself from belching out the dangerous poison Halahala. This terrified both the Devas and demons because the poison was so toxic that it would have destroyed the whole universe (Sounds like the first biological weapon to me). Everybody including the demons and Devas started running away for lives and ran away as far as possible. 
Lord Shiva drank poison and got new name neelkanth 
extremely terrified, Indra complained Vishnu “What is this going on? Please help”. Vishnu pacified him by saying that if obtaining nectar is so easy then what’s its significance. What will be your karma? The thrill of life is to play hide and seek with death. He advised Indra to request lord Shiva for help. Seeing his creation getting destroyed, Lord Brahma and Devas asked the destroyer, Lord Shiva, to consume the poison. To save the creation, Lord Shiva readily agreed to help. His Wife Uma/Parvati followed him closely. Lord Shiva is welcomed at the churning site by all the demons and Devas including lord Vishnu.
When Lord Shiva drank the first sip of poison, his face immediately turned blue. Uma quickly squeezed his throat so that the poison doesn’t descend to his body. Poison was stuck in lord Shiva throat which made his throat extremely blue. Vishnu praises lord Shiva and give him the name ‘Neelkant’, meaning Blue throat. 
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras  
Neelkanth Lord Shiva, one who drinks the sorrows of his devotees 


Brahma thanked Shiva and Lord Shiva preaches humanity
Since the Devas was protected by lord Vishnu and demons by Shukracharya, Lord Brahma thanked lord Shiva for protecting all humans. Shiva accepts the greetings and explains that all creation is dual in nature. If there is light, there is darkness. If there is life then there is death and if there is nectar then there must be poison too. Shiva also preached that one shouldn’t care about his life while helping others.
Indra informs the Shukracharya about the drinking of poison by lord Shiva and asks his troops to start the churning process once again. 

Churning resumes and out comes goddess Lakshmi
Churning of the ocean resumes again. Due to back and forth movement of the mountain, froth is formed. Out of this froth, comes the manifestation of goddess Lakshmi, as beautiful as ever. Apsara dances, sages recited hymns in praise of goddess lakshmi, elephant sprinkled water on her. Devas got the hint of her divinity but the demons recognized her just like any other woman. 
 
Demons and Devas fight for goddess Lakshmi 
Demons express their desire to have her while Indra says he is a Devi, hence belong to Devas. This enraged demons and they decided to wage a war against the Devas to win this woman. 
  
Vishnu explains Goddess Lakshmi 
On the other hand, Goddess Lakshmi is looking all over for lord Vishnu. Enthralled and passionate lord Vishnu arrives and tells her through his eyes that she emerged of the sea. So, she is now the daughter of the ocean and hence should ask Lord Samundra to decide her future. Samundra deva came out of the sea and hugged lakshmi as her daughter. He gave goddess lakshmi attractive clothes, jewels and lotus flowers. Lord Vishnu leaves her alone.   

Lord Brahma arranges Swayamvar of goddess Lakshmi 
On the request of Lakshmi, Lord Brahma stops the war between the demon and Devas and announces the principles and protocol with respect to woman. According to this principle, woman is not an object of possession. So, no one can claim her and she has the right to choose man of her choice. Demon Harshal praises the courageous qualities of demon Kaalakethu and assures him that she will choose him only. This lit up Kaalakethu’s eyes.   
  
Goddess Lakshmi selects lord Vishnu in Swayamvar ceremony 
On the other side, Lakshmi is worried because all the Devas and demons were invited for the swayamvar ceremony (Ceremony in which bride chooses the groom) but not lord Vishnu. In the ceremony, Goddess Lakshmi makes her way across all the demons and Devas, rejecting them and simultaneously keeping an eye on the door for a magical entry of lord Vishnu. She rejects all the kings and finally reaches the last one Kaalakethu. Now since he was the only one left, she has no choice but to marry him. She is petrified and terrified and then like a true bollywood movie, lord Vishnu makes an entry at the end moment. Seeing him, her happiness crosses all bounds and she runs towards him. Devas were happy seeing the union of lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi but demons were depressed.  They felt cheated and asked Shukracharya to abort the churning process.  But Shukracharya advised them otherwise. 
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras  
Goddess Lakshmi selects lord Vishnu while the Devas and demons offer their obeisances 

Churning process starts again and out comes various ratnas 
Churning process started again and the following Ratnas(Treasures) came out one by one:
1)Kamdhenu, a wish fulfilling cow, taken by lord Vishnu
2) Uchaishravas, a white flying seven-headed horse, taken by demon King Bali
3) Airavata, a three-headed elephant taken by king indra.
4) Parijata, the fragrant tree of paradise
5) Varuni, a wine goddess taken away by demons
6) Chandra(Moon) taken away by lord Shiva to reduce and placed on his brow to reduce the heat produced by poison
7) Apsara (Celestial Nymphs) such as Menaka and rambha divided equally among Devas and demons.
8) Kaustubha (Gem), adorned on the chest of lord vishnu
9) Kalpavriksha, a wish fulfilling tree that ca fullfish anyone wishes.
10) Dhanvantri, the divine Ayurvedic doctor and then finally came the Amrita (Nectar).   

Demons steal nectar from dhanvantri 
Dhanvantri, the heavenly physician holds a pot of nectar on his hand. Appearance of the nectar lighted up the eyes of Devas and demons and they ran towards dhanvantri to grab the pot of nectar from his hand. 
  
The story relevant to this topic stops here. If you want to read the full story, check the below link
Why Kumbh Mela is celebrated
 
Dhanvantri- The goddess of Health and sorrows
Dhanvantri held an ayurvedic kalash meant for the welfare of humanity. He was born to cure diseases, sorrows and untimely death of human beings. Dhanu means “Sorrows” and “vantri” means destroyer. Hence Dhanvantri means destroyer of sorrows.  Retarded and physically weak peoples are advised to worship Lord Dhanvantri on this day with extreme devotion and dedication. Dhanteras is celebrated in the veneration of Dhanvantri, the only one who can grant good health and nectar of immortality. Dhanteras is therefore rightly known as Dhanvantari Jayanti.
  
  
Worship of Lord dhanvantri in hospitals and clinics
This is a special day for Indian clinics and hospitals especially ayurvedic ones. Lord Dhanvantri is known as the father of ayurveda and So, Ayurvedic schools, hospitals and doctors conduct special yagna to venerate Lord Dhanvantari

Story of Lord Vishnu curse to goddess lakshmi
Once lord Vishnu got pleased by the extreme penance of one of his devotees and decided to go to earth to grant him a boon.
Lord Vishnu takes goddess lakshmi to earth
Goddess lakshmi requested lord Vishnu to take her on earth.Lord Vishnu agreed but warned her of not getting tempted to any of the earthly possessions as they travel in the southern direction of the earth at a speed greater than speed of light.  
  
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras
Lord vishnu traveling with goddess lakshmi on his vehicle ‘Garuda’
  
Goddess lakshmi falls to earthly temptations
However, while they were travelling, Goddess lakshmi got attracted to one of the beautiful lightning village where fields were blossomed with beautiful yellow colored mustard flowers. She decorated herself with mustard flowers and started dancing in the fields.  Furthermore, she started licking the sugarcane juice thus falling down to earthly temptations.  
  
Lord Vishnu curses goddess lakshmi to stay on earth for 12 years
Seeing her violating his warnings/conditions, Lord Vishnu cursed her to work as a laborer in the field for 12 earthly years. Now that the goddess lakshmi lived in the farmer house and fields, the farmer became very prosperous.  
  
Seeking leave, goddess lakshmi devised a plan
After twelve years, when goddess lakshmi asked for permission to leave, the farmer begged her not to leave and bribed her with increased wages, house, land and other offers. Goddess lakshmi declined all offers but seeing the farmer persistence, she asked him to go on a pilgrimage journey to river ganga along with this family and then decide on her future stay. Goddess Lakshmi gave him four shells that were to be offered to river ganga on behalf of her.  
  
Famer realized the divinity of goddess lakshmi
No longer did the farmer drop four shells in river ganga, four folded hands came up and accepted the shell offerings. Farmer realized the divinity of offered shell and requested goddess ganga for enlightenment and further instructions. Goddess ganga then said in his ears that the woman is none other than goddess lakshmi and it is the time for her to leave earth.  
  
Goddess lakshmi promised farmer of visiting his house every year on dhanteras
Despite of instructions from mother ganga, farmer requested goddess lakshmi to not leave her home. Goddess lakshmi expressed her problems and assured him that she will visit the house every year on dhanteras. She advised the farmer to clean and light the house in the same way when she first came here.  

Rituals directed by goddess lakshmi spread to whole country
When the people of surrounding villages came to know about this incident, they also started performing the same rituals as said to the famer by goddess lakshmi. These rituals spread to other regions of the country and today, the whole nation follows the ritual of cleaning house and lighting diyas and lamps.
Stories behind celebration of dhanteras
  
Conclusion
All stories in one way or the other symbolizes the victory of good over bad. Dhanteras appeals for wealthy and healthy life. Since knowledge is the key to both spiritual and material wealth, let us all celebrate this festival in the pursuit of healthy knowledge and contentment. So, the concluding message this dhanteras is very simple - Be good, do good not only to yourself but also to all. Be wealthy, stay healthy and finally, Pursue happiness via the good deeds towards the betterment of nature and society.


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