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Sri Hayagreeva avtaar

From: Madhavakkannan V (
Date: Fri Aug 14 1998 - 17:01:05 PDT


Dearest Sisters and Brothers,

jnAnAnanda-mayam devam nirmalas sphaTikAkRtim | 
AdhAram sarvavidyAnAm hayagrIvam upAsmahe ||


Generally  vidyaarmbam among sri vaishnavas begins with a prayer to Lord 
Sri Hayagreeva, preceded by obeisance to our Acharyaas. Even today 
Vijayadasami and Sarsvathi pooja are celebrated in Srivaishnavas homes 
with the recitation of Sri Hayagreeva sthOthram. (in our home at 
least!). The Parakala Mutt, situated in Mysore, is one the most ancient 
and premier Srivaishnava religious institutions in the country that came 
into being for the specific purpose of propagating Sri Ramanujam's 
Visishtadvaita philosophy. Sri Lakshmi Hayagreeva (the Lord with the 
horse's face) Haya-horse: greeva-neck: this Lord is the presiding deity 
for all knowledge - 'Aadhaaram sarvavidhyaanaaam Hayagrivam upaasmahe'- 
is the principal deity of the Parakala Mutt, the icon being one of the 
most beautiful ever adorning the mutt. Sri Hayagreevar  Divya MangaLa 
vigraham is also the president deity for Sri Poundareekapuram Andavan 
Ashramam and also greatly revered by Sri Ahobila Mutt and Andavan 


The avataram of Hayagriva Bhagavan took place to restore the Vedas to 
Brahma. Emperumaan had taught BrahmA the Creation through His breath of 
VedAs. Then, Brahma could understand how various kalpams had begun due 
to Emperumaan's vEdOpasEam. He became extremely proud and head strong of 
his position as the creator and about his powers/jnAnam. Sriman Narayana 
as usual wanted to teach him and decided to remove his (Brahma's) pride. 
A couple of water droplets from the lotus seat of the Lord incarnated as 
two Asuras, Madhu and Kaitabha; Due to Bhgawath sankalpam, one 
(kaitapan) was of thamO guNA and the other (madhu) was of rajO guNA. 
They stole the Vedas from Brahma. Emperumaan smiled. 

Unable to carry on his work of creation without the Vedas, Brahma rushed 
to the Lord and pleaded the Lord Narayana for mercy and saving Vedas. 
BrahmA prostrated to the Lord and said Vedas alone are my eyes; they are 
my wealth; They are my Lord. The whole world is surrounded by darkness 
due to the absence of Vedas.  How am I to proceed on my creation without 
the Vedas? Please arise from the Yoga nithrA and help me Lord! Please 
give me back my eyes which have been blinded by my own pride. 

"vEdhA: mE paramam sakshI: vEdhA: mE paramam param/ vEdhA: mE paramam 
dharma, vEdhA mE brahma sOtthamam//"

Lord Narayana incarnated as Hayagriva, appeared as the white Horse 
faced, faultless sphatika hued form, satva mUrthy, with Divya tEjas, and 
lustrous form and destroyed the Asuras and restored the Vedas to Brahma. 
(This avtaar was made on a AvaNi month, sravaNa nakshthram paurNami 
thithi during some kalpam). With a lovely long nose, like the heaven 
surrounded by white bright stars, the asva siras (head of horse) 
illumined the whole world. The upper world and the lower world became 
His ears. The rays of Sun's brightest lustres are His hairs at the nape 
of His neck (pidari). BhUmi became His forhead; Ganga and Saraswathi 
became two lovely eyebrows; Chandra Sooryar (The Moon and the Sun) 
became His two eyes; SandhyA dEvathai became His nostrils; Pithru 
devathAs became His teeth; GolOkam and Brahma lOkam became His two lips; 
kalaraathri became His neck; The Divya tEjas Sathva mUrthy Sri 
Hayagreevan thus, in a grandest beautiful manner appeared. He rushed to 
PaathaaLa lOkam and raised His "uthGitham" in samavEdha swaram and 
terrified Madhukaitapa asurAs; They hid the VedhAs (which were in the 
form of babies) and ran away from the scene. Sri Hayagreevar handed over 
the Vedas to BrahmA and went back. Madhukaitapar searched for the sound 
which terrified them earlier but found the Vedas missing. They rushed to 
BrahmA who in turn was terribly scared and sought the help of Sriman 
Narayanan. Sri Hayagreevar made a "hoo….n" sign and fought with asurAs 
and killed them. BrahmA continued his work of creation. 

This avataar is described in VishNu puraaNam as "mathsya kUrma varaaha 
ashva simha rUpaathibhi:". In BrahmANda purANam during 
maheshwara-naradha samvaadham, Naradha describes this avthaar. Even when 
naradha praises Sri rangan in this PurANam, he says "ashva sirasE 
namah:". That is why the Lord is called Madhusoodhanan. (for having 
killed madhu and kaitabhar). Sri Paraasara Bhattar in his Sri 
Rangarajasthavam (utthara sathakam-52 nd slOka) sais "Sri ranganAthA! 
You, as Hayagreeva rUpI, removed the hurdles of madhu, kaitapar to 
BrahmA and recovered the VedhAs and saved the whole world!". In 
MahAbharatham, Shanthi parvam, hayasira upaakhyaanam details Hayagreeva 
avathaaram. Srimadh Bhagawatham, too, describes Hayagreeva avtaar.

2. There is another version of this avtaar and killing of asurAs. When 
paraLayam was about to end, Bhagawaan out of His dirt from the ear drum 
made two small solid balls and dropped on the Lotus leaf and BrahmA 
activated the PrANa vaayu, which gave life to these two, as madhu and 
kaitabhar. These asurAs appeared and grew up. 

BrahmA started off his creation and Vedhas were snatched away by these 
two asurAs. When the most compassionate Lord, Parama kaaruNikO Bhagawaan 
wished to please the asurAs, without killing them, asked them as to what 
they want as a boon. These two asurAs said "we can give You what You 
want". That is it! The Lord decided to kill them. They said "Can You 
kill us only where there is no cover for the sky?". The Lord immediately 
took Hyagreeva avtaar and removed His cloth on the Thighs, put them on 
His thighs and killed them. Bhagawaan's legs house the Earth and the 
space/sky. Since the Lord removed the cloth from His thighs and killed 
them, He still complied with what they challenged Him. What they thought 
was impossible to happen, He could make it happen with no effort. He, 
thus saved the Vedas and saves the world. The moral is: thamas, rajas 
guNAs are to be destroyed to reach Him.

3. There is yet another interesting "different" version in BrahmANda 
PuraaNam- Sri Devi Bhagawatham. There was a asurA, by name Hayagreeva 
(with horse face) who did his severe penance/ tapas on Parvathi Devi. 
Parvathi, pleased with his tapas, appeared in his front and the asurA 
asked for "no death". She said "Impossible-can not be granted". Then the 
asurA amended the request and said "Except for a horse faced one, no one 
else can kill me". (thinking that it can never happen!). She consented. 
He became tremendously proud of his achievement and started harassing 
every deva and rishi. He troubles all three worlds. He snatched away the 
Vedas from BrahmA and disappeared. Then is the history. The Lord 
appeared as Hayagreevar and killed the asurA to save the world and bring 
back the Vedas.

4. There is yet another puraaNic narration on Hayagreevar. At Kanchi, 
Agasthya muni was on severe penance on Sriman Narayanan and the Lord 
appeared as Hayagreevar and was immensely pleased with his tapas. He 
blessed the muni with Devi mahaathmyam. This is described in BrahmANda 
puraaNam Sri Hayagreeva agasthya samvaadham. 

5. During Tripura samhaaram to entice the asurAs, the Lord appeared as 
"other religious" saint (buddhism?) and appeared as Hayagreevar to 
mislead the asurAs from the Veda maargham (from the path of Vediv 
traditions and sayings). Thus, He made them lose their ability to get 
saved and the Lord won. (As also claimed and reported in Buddhism in a 
web site as follows: Like Mahakala, Hayagriva is one of the Eight Great 
Protectors of Buddhism, a guardian and a destroyer of obstacles to 
enlightenment(!). He is a popular personal, or tutelary, deity among the 
Gelug order of Tibetan Buddhism. Hayagriva's crown of skulls is 
surmounted by Hayagriva's attribute, a horse's head, alluding to his 
origin as a horse-headed Hindu god. The terrific neigh that emanates 
from this horse's head is said to pierce through the illusory nature of 
reality. Although he was also popular in Tibet and China, Hayagriva's 
association with the horse may have had a particular appeal to the 
Mongols. (This, I read in the Net in some buddhism web site!) Swami 
Desikan in his "navarathna maalai" says " puRamuyarttha asurargatku 
puRam uRaittha poyyinaan". (to explain the Lord thus, misleading the 
asurAs by taking non-vedic religion (Buddhism)). 

Scriptures on Hayagreevar (Madhusoodhanan): - Next post please 

Ram Ram

With Best Regards

NarayaNa dAsan madhavakkannan

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