The Eight Immortals of Hindu Mythology

As per the Hindu mythology, there are eight people who are said to be immortals and still roam around the earth. Seven of them have been blessed to be immortal except for one, who was cursed. Who are they? Let’s find out more about them.

1. Parashurama:  Parashurama was the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is said that Lord Shiva was the guru of Parashurama. He was the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva. He got all his teachings from Lord Shiva himself. Earlier, his name was Rama. Later, Lord Shiva gave him an axe called, “Parashu” and he was called “Parashurama”. He is a fierce warrior sage and it is believed that he is immortal so that he can kill all the evils.

2. Vibhishana: Vibhishana was a brother of the demon king, Ravana. Vibhishana was a good person and was a devotee of Lord Rama. After Lord Rama killed Ravana, he crowned Vibhishana as the king of Lanka and blessed him to be immortal to spread love and harmony throughout the world.

3. Hanuman.: In Ramayana, Lord Shiva took his eleventh avatar of Hanuman, the monkey God. Lord Hanuman was the devotee of Lord Rama. He helped Lord Rama to defeat Ravana. Hanuman got a boon from Lord Rama to be immortal and stay on earth to protect all of Lord Rama’s devotees and to end all the evils.

4. Veda Vyasa: Rishi Vyasa narrated Mahabharata. He was one the most knowledgeable sages who is believed to have grown into an adult as soon as he took birth. Due to his immense knowledge and powers, he is believed to be immortal. 

5. Markandey Rishi: Rishi Mrikandu and his wife didn’t have a child for many years. They worshipped lord Shiva for a boon. Soon, Lord Shiva appeared and asked Mrikandu and his wife for a boon. Rishi Mrikandu then asked for a child. Lord Shiva gave them two options and asked, do you want a child who will be immortal but will lack virtue or a child who will be virtuous but will live for only 16 years. The rishi and his wife chose the latter. Years passed by and one day rishi Mrikandu told the fact to his son, Markandey that he would live for only 16 years, Markandey started praying to Lord Shiva. Suddenly, Yama, the god of death, appeared. He caught Markandey’s neck with a lasso and began pulling him. Lord Shiva appeared and granted Markandey the boon that he would be immortal and spread his knowledge throughout the world. It was Markandey rishi who gave the world many chants and one of them was the “Mahamrityunjay Mantra”.

6. Kripacharya: During the Mahabharata, Kripacharya and Dronacharya were the gurus of the Pandava and Kaurava brothers. In the Mahabharata war between the Pandavas and Kauravas, Arjun, the third Pandava slew Dronacharya but Kripacharya survived and after the war he got a boon of immortality by Lord Krishna for being truthful, righteous and impartial throughout the war.

7. King Bali: Being a demon king, Bali was a very noble and kind-hearted person. Once, Lord Vishnu wanted to test Bali and visited in his fifth avatar of a ‘Vamana’ and said that he needed three spaces of land measuring three steps of his, Bali agreed. Then Vamana began to grow as tall as the space between the Earth and the sky. With one step he covered the earth and the ‘pataal’, which is the underworld and with the second he covered the heaven. Then Vamana said that he had one more step left. Bali told Vamana that he could have his head. Vamana said, “You have fulfilled your word, despite knowing who I am.” Lord Vishnu granted him a boon to be immortal for his pious deeds on earth.

8. Ashwatthama: In Mahabharata, to avenge Duryodhana’s death, Ashwatthama killed the Pandava’s five sons, thinking that he had killed the Pandavas. When Ashwatthama, came to know that Pandavas were still alive, he in a rage of anger, killed Arjun’s unborn grandson in the womb of Uttara (Arjun’s daughter-in-law). Krishna (eighth avatar of lord Vishnu) got furious and cursed Ashwatthama with an unending life of pain and suffering.

Source: Gods & Goddess, Stories of Shiva – Amar Chitra Katha

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