The story of Aravan, the God of the Transgender

Most of us find Mahabharata to be a very mystifying chronicle. This is because Mahabharata has a lot of characters and each character is associated to the other in some or the other way.

As this epic has so many legendary characters such as Pandavas, Draupadi, Kauravas around whom the whole story revolves, people are not quite familiar with the other characters that also have a crucial role in the epic.

Today, I will try to narrate you the story of Aravan or Iravan, one such minor yet crucial character of Mahabharata. It is from his lineage that the transgender are said to have been born. That is why the transgenders or hijras are also known as Aravanis.

The story of Lord Aravan can be called one of the most tragic tales of Mahabharata where he sacrifices himself for the greater good. But he does leave a lineage before he dies which makes him immortal in the history of mankind. Want to know his story? Then, read on.

Aravan was the son of the great Mahabharata warrior, Arjuna and his wife Ulupi, the Naga princess. Aravan is the central God of the cult of Kuttantavar. Like his father, Aravan was a fierce warrior.


He participated in the Kurukshetra war with his father and the other Pandavas. He fought bravely and gave himself up for a huge sacrifice.

The earliest source of mention regarding Aravan is found in Peruntevanar’s Parata Venpa, a 9th-century Tamil version of the Mahabharata.

There it talks about a special sacrificial ritual known as the ‘Kalappali’, which means sacrifice to the battlefield. It was believed that whoever performs this sacrifice ensures victory in the battlefield.

In this ritual, the most valiant warrior must sacrifice his life in front of Goddess Kali in order to ensure the victory of his side. Aravan volunteered to sacrifice himself in the ritual.

In Parata Venpa, Aravan asks Krishna to grant him the boon of a heroic death in the battlefield. Aravan is believed to have been granted a second boon – to see the entire 18-day war.

The third boon is found only in the folk rituals. This third boon provides Aravan to be married before the sacrifice, entitling him to the right of cremation and funerary offerings (bachelors were buried).

However, no woman wanted to marry Aravan, fearing the inevitable doom of widowhood. In the Kuttantavar cult version, Krishna solves this dilemma by taking on his female form, Mohini, marries Aravan and spends that night with him.

The Koovagam version additionally relates Krishna’s mourning as a widow after Aravan’s sacrifice the next day, after which he returns to his original masculine form for the duration of the war.

Aravanis Aravan is known as Kuttantavar in the cult which bears his name, and in which he is the chief deity.

Here, the marriage of Aravan and Mohini, her widowhood and mourning after Aravan’s sacrifice form the central theme of an 18-day annual festival either side of the night of the full moon in the Tamil month of Cittirai.

The Alis or the Aravanis (transgenders) take part in the Koovagam festival by re-enacting the marriage of Aravan and Mohini. It is believed that all the Aravanis are married to Aravan and hence, when the sacrifice is re-enacted, the Aravanis become widows of Aravan and mourn his death.




Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha

Karwa Chauth is a very popular fasting observance practiced by married Hindu women in North India; to seek long life and welfare of their husbands.

On this auspicious day, women keep day-long fast and offer prayer to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

It is believed that those who observe this fast are blessed with lifelong prosperity and a healthy spouse. In the Indian culture, Hindu women observed this fast for their husbands.

During the day women abstain from food and water, and at night after moonrise, they break their fasts by reading the ‘vrat katha’ and performing the ‘puja vidhi’. There is a very interesting katha behind this fast.



Long ago, there lived a very beautiful princess named Veeravati, who was married to a wealthy and strong king. As per the usual practice during those days, the day of Karwa Chauth arrived and the queen left for her parents’ house.

She was very devoted to Lord Shiva and Parvati and therefore decided to observe the Karva Chauth fasting.

She woke up at sunrise and started the fasting abided by worship and pujas. The whole day she did not eat anything and therefore turned so weak and fell unconscious.Karwa-Chauth-Vrat-Katha-In-Hindi-Punjabi-Karva-Chauth-Puja-Vidhi-Samagri

As per the custom, food should be partaken only after sighting the moonrise.

Her loving brothers could not bear the pain of seeing her faint and therefore created a false scene of moonrise by lighting a lamp on the hill and asking Veeravati to sot it and conclude her fast.

Due to the breach of the fasting rule, immediately after breaking the fast in advance, the queen heard to news of her husband’s sudden death. As she was wailing and returning to the kingdom, she had the vision of Mother Parvati and Lord Shiva on the way.

When she prayed them to intervene in the issue, forgive and restore her husband back to life, they conceded.

With the blessings of Shiva and Parvati, her husband was restored to life but had fallen seriously ill without any consciousness. His whole body was found pricked with sharp needles.


With her sustained efforts, the queen managed to remove one needle per day. At the end of the year, only one needle was left. Veeravati left to the market to buy Karwa for the puja.

The maidservant in charge removed the remaining one needle and the king regained his consciousness and got back his health. He mistook the maid for the queen and made the queen his servant.

Veeravati sincerely served the king in the capacity of the maidservant faithfully all through the year. The next Karwa Chauti day arrived and the queen sincerely prepared for the fasting ceremony.

She bots two identical dolls and placed them near the altar. She started singing the song “Roli ki Goli ho gayi… Goli ki Roli ho gayi” meaning that the queen has become the maid and the mad has become the queen. The king asked Veeravati what the song meant.

Veeravati narrated all that happened so far.

The king appreciated the patience and forbearance of the queen in addition to her strong devotion. The dauntless faith Veeravati had in Shiva and Parvati was heavily tested and found to be genuine.

The observance of the Karwa Chauth fasting sincerely despite troubles made her get Gods blessings in abundance. With the blessings of Shiva and Parvati, the king and the queen happily lived with health, wealth, happiness, and prosperity thereafter.








Useful Yoga Bandhas in Pranayama

Bandhas stop the flow of energy in some parts of the body and flow it in other parts. This massages the internal organs and removes the accumulation of the blood. Bandha regulate the nerves of the particular organ, which prevents sickness. The Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra glands produced with the flow of prana (life) in Sushmana nerve arose with the bandha, which develops spiritual energy.

There are three types of Bandha:




1.Jalandhara Bandha

Sit in Sidhasana or Padmasana and rest the knees on the ground. Keep the neck, spine, and head absolutely straight.

Now keep the palms on the knees and close the eyes and let the whole body relax. Slowly take a deep breath and stop it inside. Remain in the same position and keep the elbows straight and put pressure on the knees and simultaneously bend the shoulders forward and raise them slightly. Bend the head in such a manner that the chin touches the lower part of the neck, Remain in this position till you can stop the breath inside but do not stop the breath forcefully,

Keep the head straight before doing rechak and keep the shoulders in the normal position, Bend the elbows and relax. Now, exhale slowly. Repeat the asana when the respiration becomes normal.


Thyroid, Parathyroid glands become healthy. It relieves the person from worries, anger, tension etc.

Who should not do Jalandhara Bandha?

Patients of cervical, Spondylitis, pressure in the skull, giddiness, high blood pressure and heart disease should not do this bandha.

2.Uddiyana Bandha:

Sit in Padmasana or Sidhasana. Rest the knees on the floor, Close the eyes and relax the whole body. Perform dirghrechak (inhale deeply). Stop the breath outside and perform Bahirkumbhak. Keep the elbows straight and put pressure on the knees and bend the shoulders slightly towards the front and raise them upwards. After this perform Jalandhar Bandha, Then contract the stomach muscles inside and upwards, so that the stomach takes the shape of a bow, Now remain in Bahirkumbhak and bandha position. After this slowly leave Uddiyan Bandha and after some time leave Jalandhar Bandha.

Now bring back the elbows and hands in normal position and inhale. Rest for a while and repeat the asana.

Benefits of Uddiyana Bandha:

It cures the diseases of the stomach and abdomen, destroys the worms in the stomach, cures indigestion, gas. It regulates the stomach and improves its functioning. It massages the spleen, liver, kidney and makes them healthy. This asana has a special influence on the prana (life) energy.

Who should not do Uddiyana Bandha?

People suffering from wounds in the stomach or intestines, high blood pressure, hernia, colitis should not do this Bandha.

3.Moola Bandha:

Sit in Padmasana, Take a deep breath and stop the breath. Keep the hands straight and put pressure on the knees with the elbows, Now try and contract the ganglion muscles as much as you can but do not put excessive pressure. These muscles are situated between the rectum and genitals in men and in women, it is located at the back of the vagina, where vagina and uterus meet.

Now relax the bandha and keep the hands and elbows in normal position- Then do rechak, this can be done at the time of Bahirkumbhak as well.


This Bandha gives physical, mental and spiritual benefits, It creates cooperation between the urinary, reproduction and excretory systems. It generates sex desire and cures several sexual diseases.





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Paths are many, the Rishi’s call it by many names

One of the most common quotes I hear from Hindu’s is that we are all one, all the religions teach the same thing, and there is no difference between Hinduism and other religions. Ironically, we do not hear this view from Christians, Muslims or other groups. The Christian and Muslim are not likely to embrace Krishna when he said, “All paths, Arjuna, lead to Me.” (Bhagavad Gita 4.11) Likewise, the Christian view that Jesus is the only path is not embraced by Hinduism, nor does the Muslim believe that Allah or Mohammad is Krishna. Though this view has been embraced frequently by the “New-age” movement in the United States, and has spread globally with the new-age movement.

There is now a term to describe what Hindu’s are doing. Hindus are frequent to embrace what Sri Dharma Pravartaka coined as “radical universalism”, or the belief that all religions and teachings are essentially the same. This same view is also apparent within the teachings of Vedacharya Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley). In modern sociology this is commonly referred to as “Eclecticism”, referring to piecing together a belief system based on fragments of different religions.

While practitioners of the new-age movement really have no basis to support this view aside from opinion, the Hindu will likely look to the Vedas to support such a statement; and the most commonly quoted verse from the Vedas is from the Rig Veda 1.164.46:

ekam sad viprãh bahudhã vadanti, agnim yamam mãtarišvãnam ãhuh.

This verse is commonly misquoted as:

“Truth is one, paths are many.”

Or as

“Truth is one, the Rishi’s know it by many names.”

This translation ignores several important words and the entire rest of the verse.

The entire verse roughly translates as:

The seers called one by many names as they speak of Agni, Yama and Matarishvan.

There is considerable difference between the two verses. The problem is that only a small portion of the sloka is quoted, namely—the seers called one by many names– ekam sad viprãh bahudhã vadanti. But, as stated earlier, the remainder of the mantra is completely ignored. The context of the suktam is ignored as well. Upon examination, one will see that the mantra is not intended as justification that all religions are the same, but rather is talking about Vaidika, Bharata Varsha, Sanatana Dharma or what later become known as Hinduism.

Examining the entire suktam, one quickly discovers that the first 42 stanzas are devoted to the Vishvadevas commonly translated as all-gods, but in reality is a special grouping of deities together within a rik. Other deities mentioned in this suktam are Vak, Surya, Kala which is a hidden reference to Kali, and Sarasvati; as well as Mitra, Varuna and others. It becomes clear that the subject is not regarding the similarity of religions, but rather that the Supreme Vedic deity is known by many names. This supreme deity is identified within the Upanishads as Brahman, as Brahman is the “one” that the rik is referring to. In other words, all the Vedic deities are one with Brahman.

This is not to say that world religions do not share some common ground, as certainly there are universal values such as love, compassion and other important qualities, but the fact that the world’s religions share a handful of similarities does not mean they are teaching the same thing, or that they have the same goals.

Separation of the World’s Religions

One may ask, “What separates the world’s religions?” The answer to this question first and foremost would be destination. For example, the Christian and Muslim follower have a destination of heaven. Within Hinduism this philosophy appears, but is a lower destination as this is implied when one goes to the loka of the deity. The loka is NOT the final destination within Hinduism. The final destination within Hinduism is self-realization or enlightenment. A realization of oneness with Brahman, as compared with what Hindu’s would perceive as a loka for the Christian and Muslim.

Reincarnation is a key and important distinction between Hinduism and many of the world’s major religions. Hinduism has always embraced the concept of reincarnation. Often critics argue that reincarnation does not appear within the Vedas; but the term ‘samsara’ appears frequently within the Upanishads., with the earliest references associated the Brihadaranyaka. Likewise, we see in the Rig Veda:

Om AA ta etu mana punah kratve dakshaaya jiivase,
Jyok ca suuryam drishe. Rig Veda

“May your spirit return again, to perform pure acts for exercising strength, and to live long to see the sun.” Rig Veda

Clearly this is a reference to reincarnation, though the word reincarnation does not literally appear, rather the spirit or intention of the mantra is such.

Several of the world’s religions teach salvation, as opposed to Hinduism’s liberation. Karma is another important distinction between Hinduism and many of the world’s other religions. Occasionally there are attempts to say that karma is like the Christian “Golden Rule”, which is the ‘treat others as you would like to be treated.’ But in reality karma is a divine law that recognizes the need for realization, learning and resolution of conflict within the field of the mind. Hinduism embraces Atma-jnana or knowledge of the self. Hinduism has the most extensive teachings on meditation and the art of meditation and mantra.

What does the rest of the Suktam say?

While it is accepted, at times, to quote only one rik from the Vedas for a point or teaching, as we have seen, this is not the case in 1.164.46 where only a portion of a line is used to make a point. This is generally not accepted within the Vedic lineages or teachings. It is also important to consider the deities associated with the suktam as well as the subject matter of the entire suktam for clarity on a sloka.

The entire suktam (1.164) continues onward to discuss the astral body and even the solar calendar referring to the “twelve-spooked wheel” which is a reference to the solar year. There are references to seven horses which are “yoked” to the one wheeled car; this is a reference to 7 known planets in the Vedic astrological system which are connected or “yoked” with the Sun which is the one wheeled car. It was understood by the Vedic rishi’s that many of the Gods could be called “Sun Gods” as they are born of Aditya, which is a reference to the Vedic zodiac. These riks connect the Vedic deities with the Vedic zodiac and their relationship with Aditya. But there is more to this suktam than just astrological information.

The appearance of seven is significant within this suktam, as it does reference the chakra system. The seven Vedic Rishi’s are commonly referred to as the saptarishis and are equated with the stars of the big dipper. Additionally the saptarishis are associated with the seven chakras. When examining the chakra connection, these Rishi’s are given a dualistic quality except for the seventh which has transcended duality (the crown chakra located at the top of the head). This teaching is found within this suktam, as verse 15 states that “…the seventh is single born, but the six are twins…” indicating the masculine and feminine qualities of each chakra.

But this suktam has much more to teach. The Vedic worlds are identified, as the suktam says “the heavens are my parent…the navel is my relative…the spacious earth is my mother. There are deep mystical teachings in this suktam and it is very long, but of all the various subjects and secret teachings contained within it—radical universalism or the idea that all religions are basically one is not one of them.

Ancient View of Other Religions

While it is most likely that Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma has influenced the world’s religions to a greater degree than is currently accepted by scholarly circles, what was the ancient view towards other religions? The Vedas does shed some light on these issues, but it addresses these issues within Sanatana Dharma to the greatest degree; recognizing two groups of people: Dharmic and Adharmic, those that are for and practice dharma and those that are against dharma (adharma). This is also addressed in the Vedas as battles between the Devas and the Asuras, and is also illustrated in conflicts between the the Angirasa’s and the Bhrigus. And finally as battles between the Vedic people’s that embraced dharma and those that had allowed dharma to slip to lower levels such as with the Panis and Dashyus during the Vedic age. So the Vedic traditional view would examine other religions to see if they were truly practicing dharma and not automatically agree that they are all basically saying the same thing. The Vedic teachings would say to stand against adharma if you are a follower of dharma.

this  article by Yogi Baba Prem