Image from Thomas.
Basic Description: Mohini
is not a true avatar, rather a form that Vishnu assumes. She is called the enchantress
because she is supernaturally beautiful and feminine. The desire to have her
drives men mad. She is dangerous because it is so tempting to
lust after her. For that reason Mohini is not worshipped, though respected,
and no temples are named after her. There are very few visual representations
following are some of the central myths concerning Mohini:
Mohini saving Shiva: Shiva
gave a demon the ability to turn anything he touched into ashes. However, the
demon promptly exercised his new powers by chasing Shiva around the universe
trying to touch him. No one could help Shiva because all were too afraid of
Bhasmasura, this ash-demon. Mohini was the only exception. When Bhasmasura saw
her, his desire for ashes turned into a desire for her. Mohini said that she
would only marry someone who could match her in a dance contest. While both
were very good dancers, she tricked him in the end. Mohini did a dance where
she touched her head, and on imitating her Bhasmasura turned himself into a
pile of ashes.
Shiva seduced: Shiva was
curious about Mohini and asked Vishnu to show himself as such. Shiva
though he could resist her charms. However, he was immediately enchanted. They
joined hands to give birth to the god Ayyapan. Another account
says that the child was Sastha.
Marrying Aravan: The Pandava
and Kaurara clans had been fighting for days without any side making progress.
The gods decided that the clan from whom a young soldier would sacrifice himself
would win. Aravan the Pandava hero agreed under the condition that he would
first be married. However, no father wanted to give his daughter in marriage
if she were to be widowed so soon. Therefore, Vishnu decided to help. He came
in the form of Mohini to marry Aravan and to allow the latter to fulfill his
Clever Mohini: The gods
and demons had been fighting, but decided to churn the ocean together and to
retrieve the nectar of the bottom of the ocean. Many things came forth and were
equally divided. However, when the nectar appeared the demons ran away with
it without sharing. Soon they were arguing over it. Mohini came and offered
to divide it up as long as the gods were included. The demons, overwhelmed by
her beauty, agreed. Clever Mohini distributed the nectar to the gods first,
with none left for the demons.
The Hindu Pantheon. Los Angeles: Philosophical research society,
Thomas, P. Epics, Myths
and Legends of India. Bombay, India: D. B. Taraporevala Sons &
Co. Private Ltd, 1961.
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