Hayagreeva is an incarnation of Vishnu, depicted with a human body and a horse’s head, brilliant white in color, with white garments, seated on a white lotus. He has four lotus hands, with one in the mode of bestowing knowledge; another holds books of wisdom, and the other two hold the Conch and Discus. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon in August (Sravana-Paurnami) (his avatara-dina) and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival.
Story of Hayagriva
Long ago, lord Vishnu ( also known as Janardhana) and asuras was engaged in a war which lasted for sixteen thousand years. At the end of the battle, because of lethargy, lord Vishnu went to a deep sleep in a standing posture, with his head supported by the tip of his peerless bow, unaware of his surroundings and stood as one whose life had become extinct. The Devas and the divine sages became worried noticing this, with the thought “who would protect the world if the great protector is sleeping?” Also, Vishnu’s presence was essential for the Yagna to be conducted in heaven. Even Brahma and Shiva were concerned about Vishnu’s state.
Lord Indra appealed himself before Lord Shiva and said, “O Lord, it is the time for the great yagna to be conducted by us. The world is descending into confusion as the Lord of the yagna, Lord Janardhana, is in deep sleep. Please help us!”. Shiva turned to Brahma and said, “Waking someone who is in deep sleep is a great sin. However, certain situations call for desperate measures. Among your infinte creations, I remember a tiny beetle, belonging to the Chel species. Let it eat the bowstring from the bottom as when the bow recoils from its tense state, the noise will wake Lord Vishnu up.”
As Shiva said, Brahma directed the insect to break the bowstring. When the string broke, the bow cracked with such a noise, that sounded like the end of the world. All those present got frightened by the horrible sound. Ill indications appeared in the air. The sun disappeared before its time. All creation started acting in a manner contrary to their normal behavior. When the Devas looked to see if Vishnu had woken, they noticed that the recoiling bow tip had beheaded Vishnu. Only his lifeless figure stood there, a grim sight that shook the beholders to the core of their being.
As a solution Brahma said, “The only thing we can do during this unpleasant time, is to pray to Devi who is the life force behind the universe. Everything that happens is according to her will. If Vishnu has been beheaded, she must have decided it to happen and only she can show us the path from our present hardship” Accordingly, all the Devas, Shiva and Brahma, started praying to Shakthi. They chanted acclaiming her ability, praising her great love for all her creations. They praised her as the force behind all the creation, one who controls the destiny of the universe.
At last, an immaterial voice was heard from the sky, “O Devas, you have nothing to worry. You have worshiped me as per the vedas. I am very much pleased. There is a reason why I beheaded Vishnu. Listen to this story.”
Long ago, there a great Asura king named Hayagreeva performed a great penance directed to me on the banks of the river Saraswati. When I appeared before him, he asked for the boon of immortality. When I told him that it was impossible, he then asked for a boon that he may be killed only by a creature with the face of a horse.
Energized by my boon, he abused the world for a long time. Nobody stayed safe from his harassing forces. I have decided that Vishnu should slay him. my will be shall accomplished as Brahma fit the body Hari(Lord Vishnu) with that of a horse head”
As per the instructions of Devi, immediately beheaded a horse with a sword and fitted Vishnu’s body with its head. Vishnu was transformed into a wondrous creature, of immense strength, with the body of a man, and with the head of a head by the grace of Devi. He was known as Hayagreeva(horse-headed). At the end of a vicious battle, the Asura Hayagreeva was killed by Vishnu, in his form as Hayagreeva. By the Devi’s grace, Vishnu regained his previous form at the end of this battle.
OM Sri HayaGreevaaya Namaha
Hayagreeva Moola Mantra:
“Uthgeetha prana vothgeetha
Sarva veda mayachinthya
Sarvam bhodhaya bhodhaya”
”Gnanananda Mayam Devam Nirmala Spatika krutim
Aadharam Sarva Vidyanaam Hayagreevam Upasmahe.”
Hayagreeva Gayatri mantra:
”Aum Vanishwaraaya Vidmahe.
Haya Grivaaya Dhimahee.
Thanno Hayagriva Prachodayath.”
Mantra chanting benefits:
Prayers to Lord Hayagreeva are particularly beneficial in these degenerate times when illnesses and sufferings are growing due to the dominant misbeliefs of conscious beings. Daily chanting of this mantra is a highly beneficial for students to improve their studies. It also leads to divine path of life, sharpens one’s intellect and makes the person extremely alert. Worshiping Lord Hayagreeva brings clarity of mind and ability to communicate with others. Chanting moola mantra is benifited for those who suffer from emotional distress, stress, tensions, depression etc.