Abodes of Ganesha
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The Ultimate Source of Information on Indian Temples

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Beliefs and Legends associated with Indian Temples
Beliefs and Legends

In this section on Beliefs and Legends, Templenet explores some of the beliefs that are central to temple worship in the Indian subcontinent. Indian religious thought is among the oldest in the world, and the colorful legends that constitute the puranas have no parallel elsewhere. Summarized here, also are legends from some of the puranas.

All about Shiva: This introductory article describes the nature of Shiva, outlines his attributes, and links you to several legends associated with Shiva. The Shivalingam: The non  - anthropomorphic Shivalingam, worshipped in temples is a visible symbol of the (Invisible) Absolute Reality. The Agamas: Temple construction, image dimension, worship protocols are governed by the Agamas (traditions), the age old scriptures related to temple worship.
All about Ganesha: An introduction to Ganapati (Vinayaka), his attributes and associated legends. All about Skanda: An introduction to Skanda (Kartikeya), his attributes, associated legends etc. All about Shakti: Introduction to Shakti - a manifestation of the primeval energy as the mother Goddess worshipped all over India.
Origins of Shivalinga Worship: This legend portrays Shiva's manifestation as a huge cosmic column of fire. The Shivalingam is symbolic of this column of light and of Absolute Reality. Iconic Representations of Shiva: Learn about Nataraja, Somaskanda, Bhikshaatanaa, Ardhanaareeswara, Dakshinamurthy and more. Tripura Samhaaram: This legend from the Shivapuraana speaks of the destruction of the three evil citadels Tripurams by Shiva.
Dasaavataaram: Learn about the ten incarnations of Vishnu, who came down to the earth in various forms, to re-establish righteousness and destroy evil. The story of Amrita: Amrita the nectar of immortality, was churned out of the celestial ocean of milk by the Gods and the demons. Shiva, two avatars of Vishnu, and the shadow planets Rahu and Ketu are involved in this legend. The Story of Markandeya: Markandeya, the eternally youthful - was saved from the clutches of death by virtue of his devotion to Shiva.
Narasimhavatara - The Man-Lion incarnation of Vishnu: Vishnu protected his devotee Prahlada demonstrated his omnipresence and killed the evil demon Hiranyakashipu in this incarnation. The Story of Daksha Yagna: The immolation of Sati at the site of her father's yagna, caused its destruction, and the origin of the Shakti Peethas of India. Kumara Sambhavam: Kaama, the Lord of desire was burnt to ashes by the gaze of Shiva's third eye. Shiva's marriage to Uma resulted in the birth of Skanda, the valiant commander of the Gods.
The fifth head of Bhrama: Did you know that the four headed Bhrama originally had five heads? This legend involves Bhrama, Vishnu and Shiva - Kapaalika, Bhikshaatanaa, and Kankaalamurthy. Kiraataarjuneeyam: Learn about this interesting encounter between Shiva and Arjuna the Pandava prince as portrayed in the Mahabharata. Hanumaan: Hanumaan or Anjaneya,the monkey attendant of Rama and the son of Vayu   is portrayed as the embodiment of goodness, love, loyalty, devotion and bravery.
Gajaasura Samhaaram: Shiva the destroyer of evil, vanquishes the demon Gajaasuran. Andakaasura Samhaaram: The blind demon Andakaasuran, was destroyed by Shiva in this legend from the Shiva Purana. Jalandaraasura Samhaaram: Shiva the destroyer of evil destroys the demon Jalandaraasuran (born of the ocean). His widow Brinda re-incarnated as the Tulsi plant
Legends related to the Ganga: Several colorful legends are associated with the river Ganga, as related in the Indian epics. The Story of the descent of Ganga: Ganga, the heavenly river was brought down to the earth through the efforts of the ruler Bhagiratha.
Story of the birth of Skanda The Skanda Purana and Kumara Sambhavam in sanskrit, as well as Kanda Puranam in Tamil narrate the colorful legend of Skanda's birth. Story of Skanda's marriage with Valli: Murugan's marriage with Valli is celebrated at Tiruttani, Vallimalai, Velimalai and other shrines. An interesting legend surrounds this divine marriage. Story of the birth of Ganesha: Describes the origin of the elephant headed God Ganesha, the battle between Shiva's forces and the valiant warrior Ganapati.
Nataraja and the Significance of the Cosmic Dance of Bliss. Chidambaram in Tamilnadu  deifies Shiva in his most poetic form as the Cosmic Dancer. Explore legends surrounding Meenakshi (Parvati) and the celestial marriage - Meenakshi Kalyanam with Sundareswarar. The Tiruvilayaadal Puraanam describes in poetry several of the legends related to Sundareswarar and Meenakshi in the Madurai region.
Explore legends tracing the origin of the ancient city of Madurai. Somaskanda Iconography: Somaskanda refers to a manifestation of Shiva with Skanda and Uma by his side. Legend has it that the Tyagaraja (Somaskanda) image at Tiruvarur was created and worshipped by Maha Vishnu. Somaskanda is symbolic of fertility, of royal lineage etc.
Ajapaa Natanam is associated with the dance of the image of Somaskanda worn by Vishnu, in synch with his breath. Mucukunda Chola Legend: The valorous Chola king brought back from Indra 7 images of Somaskanda. Sapta Vitanka Shrines refer to seven temples in the Chola kingdom enshrining images of Tyagaraja brought to earth by Mucukunda Chakravarti.
Miracles associated with the life of Maanikkavaacakar at Tirupperumturai and Madurai are narrated in the Tiruvilaiyaadal Puraanam. Explore the legacy of Aandaal  and visit temples mentioned in her literary works. Aandaal, revered as an incarnation of BhuDevi is also regarded as one of the 12 Alwars. Explore the legacy of Maanikkavaacakar . Learn about the life and the literary contributions of the Saint Poet.