She is the Divine Goddess of Midwifery. Jivantika is also the guardian of children. The cult of
mother goddess worship led to the divine baby sitter also. Love for the family
and their children are beyond motherly frail...
ties. It is instinctive of mothers to nurture and
protect their offspring. Mothers appeased the gods and goddesses to avoid harm
to their families. This culminated in worshipping fierce goddesses who
personify childhood protection against ailments and fatal diseases. Fierce child
protection goddesses of note are Jivantika and Goddess Shasti (posted earlier).
Shasti is the companion of the boy-god Sastha. She is the Goddess of Married
Women, Fertility and Childbirth. She represented fertility, pregnancy and
childbirth protection. It is said that this companionship is indicative of her
protecting the young, symbolically Shashta and his cat. It is said Shahsti
visits the child the first week of birth and writes their destiny on their
forehead. Jivantika, on the other hand is infinite protection.
MYTHOLOGY: Jivantika’s origins are explained in mythology. Jara is a cannibal
ogress. She gets the smell of fresh blood and human flesh in King Magadha’s
garden. There she finds two halves of a newborn baby. But the grim sight arouses
her maternal instincts. Using her magical powers Jara puts the two pieces
together and breathed life into the child. The child becomes alive and
instinctively reached for Jara’s breast and got breast fed. King Magadha rushes
to the garden upon hearing a child crying only to see it in the arms of Jara.
The child found split in two was Magadha’s own doing. Both his wives were
childless. He gets a magical fruit from a holy man and being fair to his wives,
he splits the fruit in two. In time they each delivered half a lifeless child on
the same day. That was disposed in the garden. This was given life by Jara.
Maghada was extremely happy. He declared Jara to be guardian of newborns. In
time with feminine worship of Mother Goddess Devi, Jara was worshipped as
JIVANTIKA VRAT: These are provided for in the Skanda
Purana. This fast is usually observed by mothers to remove all kinds of worldly
sorrows. It also fulfils suspiciousness and motherly ambition. Skanda Purana
states that Goddess Jivantika protects children in home and out, at day and
night, everywhere, every time. As such mothers observe Jivantika Vrats for the
betterment of children and family while virgins or unmarried observe it for
personal ambitions. The vrat is observed on the first Friday on Shravan month.
If that was not convenient, it is then observed on the second Friday of the
month. Needless to say, one intending the best results, observe vrat on all the
Fridays in the Shravan month.
One observing this vrat is to avoid
yellow clothes and gold ornaments. If need be, silver ornaments are permitted.
Red is the best color as clothing. On is to embark on prayers from the morning
and avoid social engagements. Puja is accordance to one’s means. Arati is done
preferably with five lamps. During the prayers the bhakta cups rice in her
hands. During prayers one seeks Goddess Jivantika’s blessings and forgiveness
for karmas done unknowingly or innocently. Holy names of gods and goddesses are
chanted. After prayers some of this are put on children’s head as the Goddess’s
prasada. One observes strict celibacy during the vrat.
King Sushil Sing and queen Sukeshiba are childless so they arrange with a
midwife to steal a Brahmin baby boy by the name of Sunderben. He was named
Prince Priyavrat Sinh The natural mother was told that only delivered a piece of
dead flash. She did not believe that, so she started observing Jivantika vrat on
the basis that her child was alive some where. The queen observes the same vrat
for the new prince in the palace.
Many years later, Sunderben became
King. He passed by a village when the was actually dedicated to Shradha
ceremonies to venerate ancestors. So he disguised himself to pass a night at a
Baniya’s place. There he fell asleep. At the midnight hour, Goddess Shahsti Devi
appeared to enter into the room. She was stopped by Goddess Jivantika holding a
trishul in protective mode. Shasti informs of a newborn in the household whose
destiny is to die in the morning. Jivantika objects to this as she is also
present as an auspicious goddess. Goddess Shahsti obliges. The Banya had earlier
lost all his children on the 6th night. Astonished that this child survived, the
credit went to the unknown guest and considered him to be a saint. They later
bid him farewell and invited a return journey someday soon.
The King then travelled to Gayaji. There during the shradha rituals, two hands appeared
to accept the homage. The King was not to understand the purport of such
appearance. The pundits too could not explain. So he decides to return and
revisits the Banya’s house. Yet again both Goddess Shasti and Goddess Jivantika
appear. Shasti maintained that the last time she obliged but any further
interference by Jivantika is going to interfere in the law of karma and disturb
the world system.
‘His mother observes my Vrata on Fridays in the
months of Shravan, it is my favourite day and I follow this man when he is out
of the home. On the vrat day, his mother does not wear yellow clothes, pass
green and yellow arches. She wears red and does not forget me even a second. How
could I abandon her son” asked Jivantika. This conversation is so interplayed as
the Banya also had another baby and it was the 6th night. The king overheard
this dialogue. Upon return he confronted the queen mother who admits that she
nothing about Jivantika vrat, less observe it.
So the King sets out to
find his real mother. So the next Friday he ordered all women in the kingdom to
attend the palace grounds dressed in red. None of the women resisted except the
Brahmin woman. The King sent a messenger to say the Brahmin woman was exempted
and she could come in the red sari sent by the King. When she appeared, the King
recognised his real mother and embraced her. The queen mother confessed her
sins. Goddess Jiantika graced the occasion and the ladies fell at her lotus
feet. Ever since, Goddess Jivantika Vrat prevailed as an auspicious event.
JARA JIVANTIKA PUJA: The month of Shravan is considered to be auspicious
for worshipping the Trinity. Observing Shravani Somavara Vratha is also another
uniqueness of the month. Shiva Linga are bathed with waters from the the holy
rivers and milk. Bilva leaves are offered to Lord Shiva. Vegetarian meals are
observed. Married women observe vrat for family welfare an unmarried for a good
groom. Men observe for happy and peaceful family life. Puja is also dedicated to
Lord Shani, Lord Ganesha and Goddess Parvathi. Fridays in the Shravan month are
auspicious days. Scriptures are read everyday during this month. Special pujas
are performed in the name of Goddess Jivantika for the welfare of their
children. This puja is called Jiviti Puja or Jara Jivantika Puja. Mothers apply
kumkum on each others’ forehead and pray for happy married life.Many observe a
fast. Sweet food is offered to Goddess Parvathi and Goddess Jivantika. It is
also a peak period of the monsoon season, so mothers pray for the children’s
welfare to be protected against waterborn diseases.
PRAYERS: Oh !
Goddess Jivantika ! Be merciful to all. May you give us your Constant memory.May
you protect us. May you give our children happy and prosperous life.
"Om Shri Jivantikayai Namah"See More