Dhanvantari is described as a handsome man depicted with four hands holding amirtham, sangu, chakra and jalauka/leech in each of his hands.
Are you wondering why leeches ?
In those days one of the important part of a healer’s kit were leeches – which were used to suck out impure blood from the body to cure the patient, that is why Lord Dhanvantari is sometimes depicted holding leech in one of his hands.
Ayurveda’s history begins from Lord Dhanvantari – Father of Ayurveda. He is the first divine incarnation to impart his wisdom amongst humans. He is considered as the ‘Physician of the Gods’ (in both the Vedas and Puranas).
Another version about the origin of Ayurveda, says that Dhanvantari was deputed by Lord Indra to take the science of Ayurveda to the mortals.
Also to be noted, Dhanvantari is an avatar of Vishnu.
Another interesting background about the creation of Lord Dhanvantari is a famous episode of churning the ocean of milk in the Puranas. The Devatas and the Demons conjointly produced nectar of immortality as depicted by the legends. The Devatas and the demons agreed to complete the task together and decided to share the nectar of immortality in half. The Devatas and the demons then assembled on the shore of the milk ocean that lies in the celestial region of the cosmos.
Then the churning of the milk ocean produced a deadly poison which Lord Shiva drank without being affected. After crossing through many hurdles years later, Dhanwantari appeared with the nectar of immortality in her hands. It was when the cosmic ocean of milk was churned by the gods and demons using the Mandara mountain and the serpent Vasuki in search of the elixir of life, Dhanvantari came out of it holding a bowl of amrit (ambrosia or Divine nectar) in his hands.
This scene is called as ‘Ksheera Sagara Manthan’ or ‘samudra manthan’ or ‘Palazhi Madhanam’ in different languages which represents the spiritual endeavor of a person to achieve Self-realization through concentration of mind, withdrawal of the senses, control of all desires, austerities and asceticism.
This is celebrated in India every twelve years as a holy festival known as ‘Kumbha Mela’.
Do you know About Kumbha Mela ?
Kumbha Mela is the largest religious gatherings in the world which is also known as “World’s Largest congregation of religious pilgrims”.
The world’s largest gathering Kumbh Mela has been included in UNESCO’s representative list ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
According to Hindu Mythology, it is believed that we will be eternally blessed if we take a dip in the holy water of river Ganga. It also washes the sin and moves us towards the path of salvation.
The Devtas forcibly ceased the pot with its safety entrusted onto the four Gods – Brihaspati, Surya, Shani, and Chandra. Thereafter, the demons chased the Devtas for many days. The fight for the Kumbh i.e. the sacred pitcher/pot of amritham between the Gods and demons continued for 12 divine days, which is considered to be as long as 12 years for humans.
The four places of Kumbh Mela are because of the Amrit or an immortal drink that was dropped by Vishnu at these four places. Kumbh Mela takes place on the dates when the nectar is said to have fallen in the holy river. Every year, the dates are calculated according to the combination of Jupiter, the Sun and the Moon’s zodiac positions.
During this event, drops of amrith from kumbh dropped at 4 places. These four places are since then believed to have acquired mystical powers. That is why the Kumbh Mela is celebrated once in 12 years and gathering took place on the above mentioned sacred places or holy sites.
The location of the festival keeps rotating between four pilgrimage sites situated on the banks of the holy rivers.
The 4 Places of kumbha Mela celebration are :
- Haridwar on the Ganges in Uttarakhand
- Ujjain on the Shipra river in Madhya Pradesh
- Nashik on the Godavari river in Maharashtra
- Prayagraj at the confluence of three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati in Uttar Pradesh
It is said that during the period of kumbha mela the rivers will turn into Amrit and so, several pilgrims from across the world visit the Kumbh Mela to bathe in the essence of purity and immortality.
The venue for Kumbh Mela is decided according to the position of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter held in that period in different zodiac signs.
Since then, Kumbh Mela is celebrated with all the ritual beliefs and people from different aspects gather to celebrate the eve.
LORD DHANVATARI MANTRA :
- “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaaya Dhanvantaraye Amrita-kalasha HastaayaSarva-amaya Vinashaaya Trailokya Naathaya Dhanvantri Maha-vishnave Namaha.”
- “Namani Dhanwanthary Aadi Devam , Surasura Vanditham Pada Padmam, Loke Jara Rugbhay Mrityu Nashakam , Datharam Eesham Vividhaushadhinam”
DHANVANTARI GAYATRI MANTRA :
“Om tat purushaaya vidmahae Amritha kalasa hastaaya dheemahi Tanno Dhanvantri prachodayaat.”
DHANVANTARI TEMPLES IN INDIA :
Devotees pray to Lord Dhanvantari seeking his blessings for sound healing of body, mind & soul.
There is no dedicated Temple to Lord Dhanvantari in Northern India.
Dhanvantari statue has been placed in the campus of Central Council for Research in Ayurveda, New Delhi and another one in an ashram in Haridwar.
In Tamil Nadu & Kerala, there are various temples dedicated to Lord Dhanvantari.
SRI DHANVANTARI TEMPLE, COIMBATORE :
In Coimbatore, Sri Dhanvantari Temple is located in the heart of the city inside the campus of Arya Vaidya Chikitsalayam & Research Institute (AVCRI).
SRI DHANVANTARI BHAGAVAN TEMPLE, VELLORE :
500 Years old Dhanvantari Bhagavan Temple is located in Keelpudhupettai, Vellore district. Here he stands tall at a height of 7 feet on a padma peetha and blesses his devotees.
PARAPPUR SREE DHANWANTARI TEMPLE, THRISSUR :
The Dhanwanthari Temple located in Nelluvai, Thrissur district of Kerala, is known for its Oushada Prasada (prasada with Ayurvedic medicinal values). Known as Mukkudi, the offering is made everyday under the guidance of Kuttancherry Manu Moos as he only knows the secret recipe of the prasada.
PRAYIKARA DHANWATARI TEMPLE, ALLEPPEY :
This ancient Temple is believed to be thousand years old, situated at Prayikara, just two kilometers away from Mavelikara town, Alappuzha (Dist) Kerala State, on the Mavelikara – Thiruvalla route. It is the cradle of all Adhyatmik Devotional and social activities for the whole people of Mavelikara, especially for the residents of Prayikara. All the rituals performed in Vishnu Temples are also done daily here.
The ‘Chandanam Charthu’ is just similar to the famous ‘VakaCharthu’ of Guruvayoor Temple. Small temples for Upa Devas like Siva, Ganapathy also are inside the Nalambalam. There is also a ‘Sarppakavu’ in the south west corner of the temple. “DHWAJA PRATHISHTA” was performed on 16th January 2011 (1186 Makaram 2 Sunday), with all the temple rituals.
THOTTUVA SREE DHANWANTHARI TEMPLE OF MAHA VISHNU :
It is believed that Parasurama Installed the Idol of this temple. The idol of Thottuva Sree Dhanwanthari Temple was laid by Parasurama 5000 years ago as per the legend and hence the deity is known by the name Adi Dhanwanthiri. Then over the years the temple was managed by a Namboodiri (Kerala Brahmin) family called Korumbur Mana.
The presiding deity is Adi Dhanwanthiri and the idol is almost six feet tall and facing east. On the right hand the lord holds Amrith and with the left hand the lord holds Atta, Shanku and Chakra.
Sub deities are Ayyappan, Ganapathy, Bhadrakali and Rakshas. Fresh unboiled milk is offered here, the important offering is butter.