Hayagreeva (Hayagriva) Jayanti is believed to be the day when Hayagreva incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared on earth. Hayagreeva Jayanti 2021 date is August 21. (For some communities it is on August 22). Hayagreeva is a unique incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the head of a horse and the body of a human being. The purpose of this Avatar was to retrieve the stolen Vedas from the demons.
There are several legends associated with how Lord Vishnu got the horse-head in Hayagreeva incarnation. In the main legend associated with Hayagreeva, Devas led by Indra are the villains. It is said the powers of Vishnu made Indra jealous and they decided to kill him. Once the Devas found Lord Vishnu resting with his chin on his bow. The Devas turned into termites and chewed one end of the tight bowstring until it snapped. The bowstring snapped with such force that it beheaded Vishnu.
Without Vishnu, the Devas were helpless before Asuras (Demons). Asuras used this opportunity and stole the Vedas and overpowered Devas. Indra and gods were ashamed of their unwisely act and decided to resurrect Vishnu but they could only find his body; the head was missing. It is said that the Devas placed the head of a horse and resurrected Vishnu. Hayagreeva defeated the demons and brought back the Vedas.
Hayagreeva and the Return of the Light
There are several legends associated with how Lord Vishnu got the horse-head in Hayagreeva incarnation. In some legends, it is said that a jealous Indra, the king of demi-gods, purposefully snapped the string of a bow on which Lord Vishnu was resting his head. When the string snapped the head of Lord Vishnu got cut. It was replaced with the head of a horse.
It should be kept in mind that there is light in the world because the Vedas are here. This legend of theft of the Vedas tells that all the worlds were plunged into darkness. Lord Brahma, the creator, could not create self-effulgent light because the basis, the order of the Universe, was not present. One cannot have light without the basis for the self-effulgent light to exist. This basis is the Vedas. At the time of this incident there were many other vedas as well, which have been lost over the aeons.
Hayagreeva and Knowledge
In Hayagreeva Upanishad, Sage Narada approaches Lord Brahma and asks for knowledge of Brahmam, that knowledge which destroys sins (inner failings, transgressions, etc) quickly. Brahma replies, “The one who masters the mantras for which Lord Hayagreeva is the master would know Sruthi (heard knowledge), Smrithi (memorised knowledge), Ithihasas (history) and Puranas (epics) and would be blessed with all types of wealth. The wealth with Sri Hayagreeva may give us is a wealth of knowledge, which when known, all else is known: that knowledge is that of very Brahmam, itself.
The Lord of Vaikuntha (Vishnu, the Supreme Divinity) has immeasurable attributes; in fact, all attributes of Srishti (creation) are attributes of divinity. These attributes are called Kalyana Gunas. So you will understand that the number of auspicious Kalyana Gunas of Sri Vishnu as the supreme God is countless, but these six are the most important:
- Jnana (Omniscience), defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneously
- Aishvarya (Sovereignty), derived from the word Ishvara, which consists in unchallenged rule over all
- Shakti (Power or Energy), which is the capacity to make the impossible possible
- Bala (Strength), which is the capacity to support everything by will and without any fatigue
- Virya (Vigour), which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the supreme being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations
- Tejas (Splendour), which expresses His self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by His spiritual effulgence.
The soulabhyam (ease of access) of Vishnu in all his incarnations is defined by two more Gunas: souseelyam and vatsalyam. Souseelya guna permits Him to mingle even with lowly ones readily in spite of His supremacy. Vaathsalya is the guna of great affection for those that seek refuge in Him by overlooking the dosams (deficiencies) that they have. This means Sri Hayagreeva is readily accessible to all who seek refuge in Him, and bestows very pure – supreme – knowledge on those who are devoted to Him.
Hayagreeva Gayatri Mantra
Armour of Hayagreeva
Link to Hayagreeva Kavacham: Armour of Hayagreeva: Web Archive