In order to achieve the four main goals of existence – i.e. dharma (religion), artha (economy), kama (desires) and moksha (liberation) – every Hindu is advised to worship Ishta Devata. The term Ishta Devata literally means ‘the main deity’ – the one who leads us towards moksha (salvation).
The main benefit behind propitiating Ishta Devata is not only that the deity protects his devotee from hindrances and untoward incidents in everyday life, but also leads him towards liberation from the excruciating cycle of life and death.
Lord Vishnu as Ishta Devata
Lord Vishnu – one amongst the Hindu Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) – carries Sudarshan Chakra (spinning disk) as his astra (weapon). This weapon alone has the power to liberate people gyrated in the cycle of life and death. It is said that if one gets hit by the Sudarshan Chakra, then and there he achieves salvation. Hence, the worship of an appropriate Vishnu avatar has been recommended to every Hindu.
Lord Vishnu appears in different grahas (planets) in his various avatars. As per one’s suitable graha (planet) the appropriate avatar should be worshiped as Ishta Devata.
Various Lord Vishnu incarnations and associated planets as mentioned in the text Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra chapter 2, verses 5-7 are as follows –
|Surya or Sun||Lord Rama|
|Chandra or Moon||Lord Krishna|
|Mangal or Mars||Lord Narasimha|
|Buddha or Mercury||Lord Gautama Buddha|
|Guru or Bṛhaspati or Jupiter||Lord Vamana|
|Shukra or Venus||Lord Parashurama|
|Shani or Saturn||Lord Kurma|
|Rahu or North Lunar Node||Lord Varaha|
|Ketu or South Lunar Node||Lord Meena|
Lord Vishnu as a Medium of Salvation
As stated in many scriptures, many a time it may so happen that one is an ardent devotee of deities like Lord Shiva or goddess Durga, and in such a situation moksha (salvation) is achieved with Lord Vishnu playing as a medium in the process using his indomitable Sudarshan Chakra.
For instance, in the great epic Ramayana, the invincible Ravana gets killed by Lord Rama (Vishnu avatar). Ravana was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. He was blessed by Shiva and no man or weapon in this world could destroy him. Shiva granted him this boon with a purpose that he wanted his devotee to attain liberation. Ultimately, Ravana attained it when he got killed by the Sudarshan Chakra thrown upon him by Lord Rama.
Just like Lord Vishnu resides in different planets in his various incarnations, other deities with their corresponding planets as mentioned by Sage Parashara in Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra, chapter Karakamsa are as follows. The same list is also present in Upadesha Sutras (1.2.72–79) compiled by Sage Jaimini.
|Surya or Sun
|Chandra or Moon||Goddess Gouri (Parvati)|
|Mangal or Mars||Lord Skanda|
|Buddha or Mercury||Lord Vishnu|
|Guru or Bṛhaspati or Jupiter||Samba Shiva|
|Shukra or Venus||Goddess Lakshmi|
|Shani or Saturn||Lord Vishnu|
|Rahu or North Lunar Node||Goddess Durga or Tamasi|
|Ketu or South Lunar Node||Lord Ganesha|
How to Find Ishta Devata in a Birth Chart?
To know one’s Ishta Devata we have to look at one’s Atma Karaka in Navamsa Vargha in his birth chart. To understand the concept better –
Atma Karaka à it is a planet with the highest longitude.
Navamsa à It is the 9th house or division in the chart that signifies dharma. It defines God’s blessings onto the native and the way he communicates with God. Navamsa is also popularly called dharma-amsa.
Jivanmuktam à The twelth house form the Lagna karakamsa is known as Jivanmuktam that releases one from the bondage of life and death. This house helps one find out his Ishta Devata. In case of multiple planets, the one that puts the strongest emphasis is chosen. In case of absence of the planet in Jivanmuktam, its Lord is considered as Ishta Devata.
Following example will make the concept clearer –
The chart portrays Shri Krishna as Ishta Devata. Shukra or Venus Karakamsa is in Kanya or Virgo. Simha (Leo) Rasi housing Chandra (Moon) is twelfth from Karakamsa and hence called jivanmuktamsa.
Dwadasakshari Mantra is an integral part of worshiping Ishta Devata. Along with chanting of this mantra, it is expected from a devotee to perform Pancha Upachara Puja to bear more accurate results.
The meaning – ‘Dwadasakshari Mantra’ literally means ‘the twelve syllable mantra’. In Vishnu Purana, Sage Parashara has given an exemplary Dwadasakshari Mantra defining Lord Vishnu as Ishta Devata. The Ugra Madhusudana Mantra as mentioned by Sage Parashara in the text is as follows –
Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
This is one of the most famous and widely used mantra chanted by Hindus, especially the Vaishnavites. This is a mukti or liberation mantra and is revered as a spiritual formula that helps the devotee attaining freedom. Chanting this holy mantra, a devotee thus requests Lord Vishnu to pick up his Sudarshan Chakra and liberate him. Be it any Lord Vishnu avatar, the mantra bhoga of this mantra is liberation and hence should be chanted by everyone aiming towards spiritual progress and final liberation.
Various Vishnu Avatars and their Appropriate Mantras
Ideally, there are different Dwadasakshari Mantras for propitiating various Lord Vishnu avatars and these are discussed in the following paragraphs. Each avatar has been defined with a short description and its appropriate Dwadasakshari Mantra. It is always better for a devotee to consider his guru before practicing the Dwadasakshari Mantra.
|Son of King Dashratha of the Ikshvaku dynasty||
||Om Namo Bhagavate Ramachandraya
|Lord Shri Krishna
(the speaker of Bhagavad-gita)
|Son of Vasudava and Devaki. Raised by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda.||
||Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
(epic Bhagvata Purana, Agni Purana)
(References also found in the Vedas)
|Half-man/half-lion avatar of Lord Vishnu. Torso and lower body – humanlike;
Face and claws – Lion like.
||Om Namo Bhagavate Narasimhaya
(Gandharan Buddhist texts and Tripitaka scriptures)
|Records say that Lord Buddha was born to the Kashtriya chief Suddhodana and his wife Maha Maya.||
|Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
(Since Mercury is also the planet of Lord Vishnu, Vishnu mantra is chanted as Buddha mantra)
|Lord Vamana or Vamanadeva
|Son of Sage Kashyap and Aditi. Overall fifth avatar of Lord Vishnu, yet the first one to have incarnated in the Treta yuga.||Lord Vamana took the form of a short Brahmin and asked for only three steps of land from Mahibali during the sacrificial arena. He took three steps in this process –
|Om Namo Bhagavate Trivikramaya|
(Epic Ramayanaand Mahabharata)
|Son of Sage Jamadagni and Renuka who lived during the Treta yuga.||
|Om Namo Bhagavate Hrishikeshaya
|The second avatar of Lord Vishnu who lived during the Satya yuga.
Succeeded by Matsya and preceded by Varaha.
||Om Namo Bhagavate Akuparaya|
(Texts Taittiriya Aranyaka and the Shatapatha Brahmana)
|Lord Vishnu’s third incarnation was called Varaha.
Lord appeared here in his famous boar avatar.
|Om Namo Bhagavate Shrivarahaya|
(Text Shatapatha Brahmana)
|First in the list of Dashavataras (ten incarnations) of Lord Vishnu.
Lord appears half in human body (torso) and rest in the form of a fish.
|Om Namo Bhagavate Mahamatsyaya|