In Narsimha incarnation, Saptarishi cursed Narayana that one day He will be swallowed by someone. Due to this curse, Narayana was swallowed by a demon, Nigas.
Boon to Nigas
Nigas was a demon who did hard austerity of Brahma dev. When Brahma dev appeared, he asked a boon to swallow anybody once. Brahma dev granted his wish and disappeared.
Lohitang wanted to destroy Shiva and he found that trinity Gods are interconnected and without a single one, all others might fall. He made a plan and provoked Nigas against Narayana.
Nigas Swallowed Narayana
Nagas wanted Shiva to be supreme. Lohitang provoked him by saying that because of Narayana, Shiva isn’t getting the position what He deserves.
Nigas, being a great devotee, agreed to swallow Vishnu so that only Shiva will left.
This was the time period of those four months when Narayana goes to deep sleep.
Why Narayana goes to deep sleep?
During Vamana incarnation, Narayana blessed King Bali with a wish. Bali was from the generation of Prahalad and was the great devotee of Narayana. He was very intelligent and clever too. So he asked Narayana to stay with him in Patal Loka forever.
Goddess Lakshmi came there and made Bali her brother. She then asked Bali to release Narayana from his promise of staying with him forever. Bali, being a brother, was bound to fulfill the wish of his sister. So he allowed Narayana to stay with Lakshmi for 8 months of the year and for rest 4 months, He will need to stay with Bali.
This 4 months period starts from Dev Shayani Ekadashi and ends at Dev Utthan Ekadashi. No auspicious deeds are done during this period.
Nigas swallowed the sleeping Narayana.
Without Narayana, the whole world turned dark. All the 5 elements of nature started fading. Universe started shrinking and everything was destroying.
Dattatreya took responsibility of moderation
Shiva took the responsibilities of Narayana and went to a deep penance. With His efforts, the world regained the strength but lost the full effects of Shiva element.
The world was in complete unstable state. Lohitang was delighted by the success of his plans of breaking Trinity Gods. Only Brahma Dev was left to handle the activities of world in conscious state.
Worried deities went to Brahma Dev and asked for solution. Brahma dev reminded trinity goddesses, Narad, Indra and other deities about Dattatreya, the son of Anusuiya.
Dattatreya is the collective power house of all the trinity Gods. Everybody requested Anusuiya to call her son and order him to handle the responsibilities of Narayan.
Anusuiya evocate Dattatreya and Narad muni created and sung Dattatreya stotram. Soon Dattatreya appeared and assured everybody. He took the responsibility of moderation of world and Shiva got back from His penance.
Redemption of Nigas
Nigas was indeed a great devotee of Shiva. He swallowed Narayana with the impression of making Shiva, the only supreme. But when he learned the reality of Trinity Gods, he went into deep sorrow.
With remorse, Nigas cried for snatching the adorable (Narayana) of his adorable (Shiva).
He begged Shiva to kill him, so that Narayana can get free and he can get freedom from his sins.
Shiva enlightened Nigas with the principles of right devotion. He then slayed Nigas with His trident. Narayana got free and soul of Nigas went into the shelter of Shiva.
Dattatreya handed the responsibilities back to Narayana and went to his penance of education and research.
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