Dhanwanthari is the God of Medicines according to Hindu belief. He is worshipped for the well-being and health of family members. He is known as the promoter of Ayurveda. Dhanwanthari is also known as the doctor of all gods and idol protector of all hospitals. Ayurveda is one of the oldest and widely used traditional treatment options in India. According to Vedas, Dhanwanthari was one of the reincarnations of Krishna. Tha’s one of the reasons he has a very important role in Hindu religion and Indian culture. He usually appears as a character in Puranas and Vedas.
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As per the Hindu mythology, Devas and Asuras used to fight constantly and the Devas always end up losing. Evil spirit and powerful people were used to kill Devas and they were very sad and went to discuss the issue with Lord Vishnu. He advises the Devas to stir the ocean of milk to get the Amrita and tells them that who drinks it will live long. The Asuras and Devas stirred the Samudra, with the help of Vasuki the serpent, and mountain Mandara. Dhanwanthari was the person who came out from the milk of ocean and he was carrying a pot with Amrita. Amrita can keep you alive for many years. But as usual, the Asuras were not happy with it and somehow managed to grab it from Dhanwanthari. But he changed into Mohini and regains it from the Asuras.
There are more stories of Dhanwanthari in our Puranas. Another story goes like this! Dhanwanthari was born to a king called Dhanva of Dwapara Yuga. The King did not have any kids for a long time. He did all the poojas and karma to get a kid but they didn’t work out. The King was a devotee of Abja who is also known as Dhanwanthari. Dhanwanthari himself took birth as the king’s son and he taught Ayurveda to the world. If you check, you may end up with more than 10 to 15 stories of Dhanwanthari!
Yet another Dhanwanthari
There’s one more Dhanwanthari by the name of Amrithacharya according to the Hindu mythology. He was supposedly known as the medical researcher, who was born to an Ambashata section. There lived a Maharshi called Galava who went to the forest to collect the woods and grass of dharba for his pooja. One day, he was totally tired and was looking for some water. But he didn’t get any option and suddenly a girl came with a pot of water and gave it to him. She was Virbhadra a Vaisya girl. Galava was happy and gave her a boon that she will get a famous son. But she said that she is not married and hearing this Galava made a figure of a human with grass. He asked her to have a child with him and that child is known as Amritacharya.
Dhanwanthari is actually known to be a very handsome figure with four hands. He is actually portrayed as Vishnu. He brought Amrita in a pot in his one hand, then Chakra, Shanku and a leech in the other three hands. In India, the Hindu followers, Ayurveda doctors, and other devotees celebrate the birthday of Dhanwanthari. It is known as Dhanteras day which comes 2 days before Diwali.
There are many temples that worship the God of Ayurveda in Tamilnadu and Kerala. These are the specific places where Ayurveda is so popular and practiced. Thottuva temple in Kerala is one of the famous Dhanwanthari temples because of the height of its deity. This temple celebrates Ekadasi, which comes on the same day of Guruvayoor Ekadasi. People with physical problems or has some health issues go to Dhanwanthari temples regularly.
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One such temple is the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple of Srirangam. It is a very famous Dhanwanthari temple in Tamil Nadu. You can this temple any day because daily poojas are performed here. You can see a huge stone in front of the temple which was actually deposited in the 12th century. The famous physician in Ayurveda Garuda Vahana Bhattar placed the idol of this temple. Theertham (holy water) and Prasad of this temple are believed to have medicinal values.
Featured Photo by Hari Prasad Nadig