According to astrological calculations, the sixteen-year-old son of King Hima was destined to die by snakebite on the fourth day of his marriage. On that particular night, his young wife did not allow him to sleep. She laid all the ornaments and heaps of gold and silver coins in a big pile at the entrance of her husband's bedchamber and lit innumerable lamps all over the palace. Throughout the night, she went on telling stories and singing songs. When Yama, the god of death, arrived there in the guise of a serpent, his eyes were blinded by that dazzle of those brilliant lights and he could not enter the prince's chamber. So he slithered on top of the heap of coins and ornaments and sat there whole night enchanted by the girl’s melodious singing. In the morning he quietly went away.
Thus the young wife saved her husband from the clutches of death. Since then, this day came to be known as the day of "Yamadipdan" – the offering of lamps to Yama. Lamps are kept burning throughout the night in reverential adoration of Yama, the god of death. This second day of the five-day Diwali festival is also called Dhanteras. It is also known as Dhanvantari Trayodashi – the festival on the thirteenth day of the moon that celebrates the appearance of Dhanvantari. Dhanvantari is an incarnation of Vishnu. He appeared from the ocean of milk in order to reveal to humans the science of Ayur-Veda (medicine). Lakshmi also appeared from the same ocean of milk
A Story from South India
The following story is connected with the famous temple at Tirupati. It also relates to Hindu ideals of commitment in marriage.
Following an argument with Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi left her heavenly abode and came down to the earth. She stayed in a hermitage on the banks of the River Godavari. Missing his beloved, Lord Vishnu went in search of her and came to the earth planet. Ultimately his quest brought him to the Seshadri hills where he stopped to rest in an anthill. Upset by the separation between Vishnu and Lakshmi, Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva decided to intervene, and adopting the guises of a cow and a calf, went to live within the palace grounds of a local king.
The cowherd took the cow and calf everyday to graze in the Seshadri hills, where the cow would secretly visit the anthill in which Vishnu was living. Emptying her milk, the cow would then return to the palace. The cowherd was angry as the cow never yielded any milk to him. He watched her movements carefully and his observations led him to the anthill. In trying to ascertain what lay beneath the anthill, he struck it with an axe, injuring Vishnu on the forehead.
In search of herbs to heal the wound, Lord Vishnu wandered far and wide. His wanderings brought him to the shrine of Sri Varahaswami - the third incarnation of Vishnu (as a boar). Here, he sought permission to stay, but Varahaswami wanted a rental to be paid; Vishnu pleaded that he was poor now and needed rent-free accommodation. To reciprocate this gesture of goodwill, he offered to tell his devotees to worship Varahaswami before they worshipped him. Varahaswami agreed and Vishnu built a hermitage and lived there served by a devotee, Vakuladevi, who looked after him as would a mother.
In a nearby kingdom ruled King Akasha Raja. Childless for many years, he had one day found a beautiful baby girl sleeping within a golden box which he found while ploughing.. He had named her Padmavati. A beautiful and accomplished girl, Padmavati had been granted a boon in her earlier birth that she would be married to Lord Vishnu. One day, Vishnu, who had been renamed Shrinivas by his foster mother went hunting in the forest. His wandering led him to a garden with a beautiful pond. Shrinivas was thirsty and tired. After drinking from the pond, he rested in the shade of a tree. Soon he was roused by the soft singing of Padmavati who was dancing in the garden with her companions. Shrinivas was stunned by her beauty and attracted to her. She too seemed to be drawn to him, but the angry attendants, thinking the boy a mere hunter, drove him away.
Depressed and unhappy, Shrinivas poured out his troubles his foster-mother. Now for the first time, he revealed to her who he really was and also told her the story of Padmavati. In the meanwhile, Padmavati was dreaming of Shrinivas. She had no idea who he really was and knew that her parents would consent to her marriage to a hunter.
Shrinivas urged Vakuladevi to approach Padmavati's father, Akasha Raja, with the marriage proposal. In the meanwhile he disguised himself as a soothsayer and went to the court of Akasha Raja. There, he assured Padmavati that the hunter she had fallen in love with was no ordinary man but the Lord Himself, and assured her that her worries would soon be over. Padmavati too poured out her heart to her parents. At about the same time, Vakuladevi arrived with the marriage proposal. After consulting with the sages Akasha Raja accepted the proposal and invited Shrinivas to attend the wedding on Friday, the 10th day of the month of Vaikasi.
Shrinivas now had arrangements to make. He sought a loan of 11,400,000 coins of gold from Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods. He requested Vishvakarma, the divine architect, to construct heavenly surroundings in the Seshadri hills.
The day of the wedding arrived, Lord Shrinivas was bathed in holy waters and dressed in jeweled ornaments befitting a royal groom. Then he set off in a procession for the court of Akasha Raja. There Padmavati waited, radiant in her beauty. Shrinivas was hailed with an arti ceremony and led to the marriage hall. There the king and queen washed his feet while sage Vashishta chanted the Vedic mantras. Soon the wedding was over and it was time for Padmavati to take leave of her parents. Together, they lived for all eternity and Goddess Lakshmi, understanding the commitment of Lord Vishnu, chose to live in his heart forever.
Tirupati, today, stands as a special place, commemorating the marriage between the Vishnu and Lakshmi. Everyday, a special festival celebrates the divine union. Even today, during the Brahmotsavam at the temple, turmeric, kum-kum and a sari are sent from the temple to Tiruchanur, the abode of Padmavati. In fact Tirupati is rarely visited without paying a visit to Tiruchanur. In the light of this background, it has become the favored destination of many newly wed couples who pray for a happy wedding - a wedding like that of Shrinivas and Padmavati.