Mohini - Legends and History - Relationship With Shiva

Relationship With Shiva

In the Bhagavata Purana, after Vishnu deceives the demons by his maya female form, Shiva wishes to see the bewildering Mohini again. When Vishnu agrees and reveals his Mohini form, Shiva runs crazily behind Mohini, "bereft of shame and robbed by her of good sense," while the abandoned wife Parvati (Uma) looks on. Shiva is overcome by Kāma (love and desire or Kamadeva, the god of love and desire). His "unfailing" seed escapes like that of "a love-maddened elephant chasing a desiring female" and falls on ground creating ores of silver and gold. Afterwards, Vishnu comes to his true form and reveals that his maya (illusory power) can not be surpassed even by Shiva. Shiva then extols Vishnu's power.

The Tripurarahasya, a south Indian Shakta text, retells the story, giving more importance to the Goddess. When Shiva wishes to see Vishnu's Mohini form again, Vishnu fears that he may be burned to ashes like Kamadeva by the ascetic Shiva. So, Vishnu prays to goddess Tripura, who grants half of her beauty to Vishnu, begetting the Mohini-form. As Shiva touches Mohini, his seed spills, indicating a loss of the merit gained through of all his austerities.

In the Brahmanda Purana when the wandering sage Narada tells Shiva about Vishnu's Mohini form that deluded the demons, Shiva dismisses him. Shiva and his wife Parvati go to Vishnu's home. Shiva asks him to take on the Mohini form again so he can see the actual transformation for himself. Vishnu smiles, again mediates on the Goddess, and in place of Vishnu stands the gorgeous Mohini. Overcome by lust, Shiva chases Mohini as Parvati hangs her head in shame and envy. Shiva grabs Mohini's hand and embraces her, but Mohini frees herself and runs further. Finally, Shiva grabs her and their "violent coupling" leads to discharge of Shiva's seed which falls "short of its goal," suggesting the act was not consummated. The seed falls on the ground and the god Maha-Shasta ("The Great Chastiser") is born. Mohini disappears, while Shiva returns home with Parvati.

Shasta is identified primarily with two regional deities: Ayyappa from Kerala and the Tamil Aiyanar. He is also identified with the classical Hindu gods Skanda and Hanuman. In the later story of the origin of Ayyappa, Shiva impregnates Mohini, who gives birth to Ayyappa. They abandon Ayyappa in shame. The legend highlights Vishnu's protests to be Mohini again and also notes that Ayyappa is born of Vishnu's thigh as Mohini does not have a real womb. Another variant says that instead of a biological origin, Ayyappa sprang from Shiva's semen, which he ejaculated upon embracing Mohini. Ayyappa is referred to as Hariharaputra, "the son of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara)", and grows up to be a great hero.

In the Agni Purana, as the enchanted Shiva follows Mohini, drops of his semen fall on the ground and become lingas, Shiva's symbols. His semen also generates the monkey-god Hanuman, who helps Vishnu's avatar Rama in his fight against Ravana in the Ramayana. The Shiva Purana says that by the mere glimpse of Mohini, Shiva spurts out his seed. The seed was collected and poured into the ear of Anjani, who gave birth to Hanuman, an incarnation of Shiva. The latter is retold in the Thai and Malaysian version of the Ramayana. Though Hanuman springs from Shiva's seed, he is also considered as a combined son of Vishnu and Shiva.

The Buddhist version of the Bhasmasura tale continues with Shiva (Ishvara) asking the female-Vishnu, who is seated on a swing, to marry him. She asks Shiva to get the permission of his wife Umayangana to take her home. Shiva returns with Umayangana's consent to find the female-Vishnu pregnant, who sends him back to get permission to bring a pregnant woman home. When he returns, a child is born and female-Vishnu is pregnant again. She requests Shiva to seek approval to bring a pregnant woman with a child home. This happens six more times. Finally, Shiva brings Umayangana with him to witness the miraculous woman. Vishnu then returns to his male form. Umayangana embraces the six youngest children merging them into the six-headed Skanda, while the eldest, named Aiyanayaka ("eldest brother") remains intact. Aiyanayaka is identified with Aiyanar.

The rare instance where an "explicit, male homosexual act" is suggested is in a Telugu text where when Shiva is busy lovemaking with Mohini-Vishnu, the latter returns to his original form and still the lovemaking continues.

Mohini plays a lesser role in a Shaiva legend in the Skanda Purana. Here, Vishnu as Mohini joins Shiva to teach a lesson to arrogant sages. A group of sages are performing rituals in a forest, and start to consider themselves as gods. To humble them, Shiva takes the form of an attractive young beggar (Bhikshatana) and Vishnu becomes Mohini, his wife. While the sages fall for Mohini, their women wildly chase Shiva. When they regain their senses, they perform a black magic sacrifice, which produces a serpent, a lion, an elephant (or tiger) and a dwarf, all of which are overpowered by Shiva. Shiva then dances on the dwarf and takes the form of Nataraja, the cosmic dancer. The legend is retold in the Tamil Kovil Puranam and Kandha Puranam with some variation. This legend is also told in the Sthala Purana related to the Chidambaram Temple dedicated to Shiva-Nataraja.

Another legend from the Linga Purana says that the embracing of love-struck Shiva and Mohini led to be their merging into one body. At this moment, Mohini became Vishnu again, resulting the composite deity Harihara, whose right side of the body is Shiva and left side is Vishnu in his male form. In the temple in Sankarnayinarkovil near Kalugumalai is one of the rarest exceptions to iconography of Harihara (Sankara-Narayana). The deity is depicted similar to the Ardhanari, the composite form of Shiva-Parvati, where right side of the body is the male Shiva and left side is female. This image's female side represents Mohini and it, as a whole, symbolizes the union of Shiva and Mohini. In a Harihara image, the Shiva side has an erect phallus (urdhva linga) and relates to Shiva's love to his left side Vishnu-Mohini. The influence of Shakta traditions on Shaiva ones may have led to the development of composite images like Harihara, where Vishnu is identified with Shiva's consort, or Mohini. Like the Kanda Puranam narrative, the Shaiva saint Appar identifies Vishnu as Parvati (Uma), the female counterpart of Shiva.

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