Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva are believed to be the Holy Trinity in Hinduism. Lord Brahma is regarded as the creator of the universe, Lord Vishnu is the preserver and Lord Shiva is the destroyer.
According to Bhagavata Purana, it is cited that whenever evil is victorious over good, darkness appears to conquer the light, and oppression reins over justice, Lord Vishnu will reincarnate on earth to reinstate Dharma and direct people towards the righteous path.
It is mentioned that Lord Vishnu has reincarnated 23 times, and each time, he has assumed a different form. It is prophesied that he will materialize one last time at the end of Kaliyuga, bringing the total to a sum of 24.
Out of all the reincarnations, Mohini is the only female avatar of Lord Vishnu. Let us learn more about her:
Who is Goddess Mohini?
Regarded as the only female manifestation of Lord Vishnu, Mohini is widely renowned as an enchantress as she is mystically gorgeous and supremely feminine by nature. She takes her place in the Hindu legends through the Indian epic Mahabharata where she was first mentioned. Lord Vishnu appears as Mohini during the Samudra Manthan. She helps in obtaining the pot of Amrita from the Asuras (demons) and passes it to the Devas (gods) and aids them in retaining their immortality.
As part of the Hindu folklore, there are numerous tales where she is cited, including the union with Lord Shiva. These stories, among others, talk about the birth of Lord Shasta and the annihilation of the ash-demon Bhasmasura. Mohini’s methodology was to deceive or trick those she needed to confront. She is venerated all through India, particularly in Western India, where temples are dedicated to her where she is portrayed as Mahalasa, the consort of Khandoba, a regional form of Lord Shiva.
Origins of Goddess Mohini in Hindu Scriptures
In the original scriptures, Mohini is simply known as an alluring, captivating woman-form of Lord Vishnu. But in the subsequent versions, Mohini is labeled as Maya (illusion) of Sri Vishnu. Once the Mohini stories became widespread, it was expanded, retold and re-written in numerous scriptures. The legends of Mohini-Vishnu slowly but eventually rose among other faiths. A similar Mahabharata version of the tale is magnified in the Bhagwat Purana in 10th century CE, where Mohini becomes the official avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Origins of the Name ‘Mohini’
The name ‘Mohini’ is derived from the verb root ‘moha’ that suggests ‘captivate, confuse or delude’ and its literal translation implies ‘delusion personified’. Thus, moha means the value of desire after which Mohini has been named. In Sanskrit, the term ‘Mohini’ simply refers to being an enchantress.
Iconography of Goddess Mohini
Mohini is worshipped as Goddess Mahalasa Narayani in certain places in the country, specifically western India. In this form, Mahalasa is showcased with four hands where she is holding a Trishul in one hand, a sword in another, a decapitated head in the third hand and a drinking bowl in the fourth hand.
She is also shown wearing a yajnopavita (sacred thread), which is typically portrayed on male gods. She is shown standing on a prostrate man or an Asura, as a tiger or lion is portrayed licking blood dripping from the chopped head. She is recognized as Mohini and is referred to as Narayani and Rahu-matthani, the slayer of Rahu, as cited in the Bhavishya Purana.
As the spouse of Khandoba, her main temple – the Mohiniraj temple – is housed at Nevasa taluka of Maharashtra. She is venerated as a four-armed Goddess and recognized as Mohini. In specific iconography, she is portrayed with two arms and is accompanied by her consort Khandoba on his horse or is standing beside him.
Legends surrounding Goddess Mohini
There are many tales surrounding Mohini in Hindu folklore. Here are some of them:
The first reference to Mohini shows up in the ‘Samudra Manthan’ incident of the 5th century BCE Hindu epic Mahabharata. The pot of Amrita (elixir of immortality) is generated by the churning of the Ocean of Milk. The demi-gods and the demons battle over possessing it. The Asuras engineer the situation to keep the Amrita for themselves which makes the Devas livid. To thwart the evil plans of the demons, Lord Vishnu assumes the form of the supremely beautiful Mohini. She uses the power of seduction and her captivating charm to deceive the Asuras into handing over the nectar to her and then cleverly distributes it to the Devas. An Asura Rahu disguises himself as a Deva and attempts to gulp down some nectar. Surya (Sun God) and Chandra (Moon God) immediately convey this to Lord Vishnu who in turn makes use of the Sudarshana Chakra to behead Rahu, leaving the head immortal.
Slayer of Asuras
Bhasmasura was an evil demon who desired to be the most powerful and strongest Asura ever. He decided that he would do rigorous meditation and penance to appease Lord Shiva and receive what his heart desires. So, Bhasmasura prayed for a long time. After some time, Lord Shiva was pleased with his intense devotion and informed him that he could ask for any boon. Bhasmasura requested to be granted the power of immortality. But Lord Shiva told him that he did not have the power to give him immortality. To this, Bhasmasura asked him to give him the power to reduce the person into ashes if he touches their head.
Lord Shiva bestowed him with this boon but realized he had made a huge blunder instantly when Bhasmasura wished to test his powers on the deity himself. This resulted in Lord Shiva escaping from the spot while Bhasmasura chased him. Eventually, Mohini (Lord Vishnu’s female form) came to the rescue of Lord Shiva. She showed up as a gorgeous damsel and the demon was too captivated by her and stopped in his tracks. Mohini tempted him to participate in a dance competition with her. She placed a hand on her head as a dance move which was then copied by Bhasmasura. The demon immediately turned to ashes thanks to the boon.
Another legend talks about how Mohini is known to have aided in slaying Virochana. The Asura King Virochana is conferred with a magical crown by the sun-God Surya. The crown guards him against all harm. Mohini captivates Virochana and robs his crown. Since the demon was left defenseless, Lord Vishnu was able to slay him.
Another tale discusses another Asura, Araka. The legend connects Mohini with Lord Krishna rather than Lord Vishnu. The demon Araka had become too powerful because of taking a vow of chastity where he had never even looked at a woman. Lord Krishna then assumes the form of the breathtaking Mohini and marries him. Araka’s chastity is broken three days after the wedding and Lord Krishna was able to slay him in combat.
In the Thai version of the Ramayana, the Asura Nontok is bedazzled and killed by Mohini. Nontok exploits a divine and powerful weapon provided to him by Lord Shiva. Mohini charms Nontok and then slays him. As he was dying and taking his last breath, Nontok blames Lord Vishnu for playing dirty and accuses him of seducing him and then subsequently attacking him. Lord Vishnu proclaims that in his next birth, Nontok will be reborn as the ten-headed demon Ravana and that Lord Vishnu will be a human man known as Rama. He will then battle with him and ultimately defeat him.
Lord Shiva and Mohini
As per many Hindu texts and Puranas, Lord Shiva and Mohini (Lord Vishnu in female avatar) had a union that resulted in the birth of their son Lord Ayyappa. He is called different names in varied parts of India such as Mahashasta, Sastava, Manikandan etc. who is regarded as an incarnation of Dharma Shasta, believed to be the offspring of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Lord Ayyappa is typically portrayed in a yoga pose, wearing a jewel around his neck. This is why he is referred to as Manikandan, which suggests ‘with a bell around the neck’.
Interesting Narrative about Goddess Mohini
- A couple of experts are of the opinion that the appearance of Mohini is simply a disguise to trick the demon named Bhasmasura as opposed to a sexual transformation. Mohini was reincarnated or shifted from Lord Vishnu’s physical body to a gorgeous ‘apsara’. Mohini does not appear to have an independent existence. She is present only as a temporary avatar and is fused back into Lord Vishnu after she has served her purpose.
- In the state of Kerala, the Mohiniyattam (the dance of Mohini) is observed as an independent dance form. It is named after the Goddess. The dance is believed to be a perfect idea of the erotic form and is meant to be exclusively for women.
Temples Devoted to Goddess Mohini / mohini temple
In Goa, Mohini is venerated as an independent Goddess Mahalasa or Mahalasa Narayani. She is believed to be the Kuladevi (family Goddess) of numerous Hindus from western and southern India. The main temple of Mahalasa Narayani is situated at Mardol, Goa. The Mohiniraj temple, housed at Nevasa, Maharashtra, is another chief temple devoted to Mahalasa Narayani. Some of the other temples dedicated to Mohini are the Jagan Mohini Keshava Swami Temple housed in the district of Rayali in Andhra Pradesh and Hariyanka Temple in Guruvayur, Kerala.
Benefits of Worshipping Goddess Mohini
- It is believed that if you keep a fast on Mohini Ekadashi your financial situation will improve.
- There will be success on the professional front for business as well as your overall career.
- You will have better control of your senses and mind.
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