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In Hindu religion, Jaya and Vijaya are the two gatekeepers or chowkidars (Dwarapalaka) of the abode of Vishnu, known as Vaikuntha (meaning place of eternal bliss). Due to a curse, they were forced to undergo multiple births as mortals who would be subsequently killed by various avatars of Vishnu. They were incarnated as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha in Satya Yuga, Ravana and Kumbhakarna in Treta Yuga, and finally Shishupala and Dantavakra in Dvapara Yuga.
According to the Brahmanda Purana, Jaya and Vijaya were the sons of Kali (not the Hindu Goddess Kali), and Kali, in turn, was one of the sons of Varuna and his wife, Stuta (Sanskrit (स्तुत, meaning 'praise'). The brother of Kali (and uncle of Jaya and Vijaya) was Vaidya.
Curse of the four Kumaras
According to a story from Bhagavata Purana, the Four Kumaras, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanatkumara who are the manasputras of Brahma (sons born from the mind or thought power of Brahma), visited Vaikuntha, the abode of Vishnu, to see him.
Due to the strength of their tapas, the four Kumaras appear to be mere children, though they are of great age. Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers of the Vaikuntha interrupt the Kumaras at the gate, thinking them to be children. They also tell the Kumaras that Sri Vishnu is resting and that they cannot see him now. The enraged Kumaras replied Jaya and Vijaya that Vishnu is available for his devotees any time, and cursed both the keepers Jaya and Vijaya, that they would have to give up their divinity, be born as mortals on bhuloka (earth, or physical plane), and live like normal human beings. Vishnu appeared before them, and the gatekeepers requested Vishnu to lift the curse of the Kumaras. Vishnu said that the curse of the Kumaras cannot be reversed. Instead, he gives Jaya and Vijaya two options. The first option is to take seven births on Earth as a devotee of Vishnu, while the second is to take three births as his enemy. After serving either of these sentences, they can re-attain their stature at Vaikuntha and be with him permanently. Jaya and Vijaya cannot bear the thought of staying away from Vishnu for seven lives. As his enemies, the Lord would have to incarnate on Earth to vanquish them.Thus they would meet Him in each of their births. As a result, they choose to be born three times on earth even though it would have to be as enemies of Vishnu.
In their first life during Satya Yuga, they were born as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha to Diti (daughter of Daksha Prajapati) and sage Kashyapa, and were killed by Varaha (boar avatar) and Narasimha (man-lion avatar) respectively. In their second life during the Treta Yuga, they were born as Ravana and Kumbhakarna, and were killed by Rama. In their third life during Dvapara Yuga, they were born as Dantavakra and Shishupala and were killed by Krishna.
It has been noted by many that the strengths of Jaya and Vijaya gradually declined with each subsequent birth. In their first birth they are born as Asuras. In their second birth they are born as Rakshasas. In the third birth they are born as humans. Moreover Vishnu needed one avatar each to kill Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. Born as Rama, he was able to vanquish both Ravana and Kumbhakarna. In the Krishna avatar, The killing of Dantavakra, Shishupala and Kamsa is not the main focus. Rather they are killed to reduce the 'Bhoobhara' (the burden on Mother earth due to too many sinners).
Door-keepers of Vishnu temples
In the modern era, known in Sanskrit as the Kali Yuga, Jaya and Vijaya are free from their curse, and they can be seen as gatekeepers in Vishnu temples and temples affiliated with Vaishnavism. Statues of Jaya-Vijaya stand in the temple of Venkateswara in Tirumala, the temple of Jagannath in Puri, and the temple of Ranganatha in Srirangam.
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- Gregor Maehle (2012). Ashtanga Yoga The Intermediate Series: Mythology, Anatomy, and Practice. New World Library. p. 34.
- G.V.Tagare (1958). Brahmanda Purana – English Translation – Part 3 of 5. pp. 794.
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