Immortals (Chiranjeevi) in Hindu Mythology : One who is born must die, and this is the truth of the universe. We all are aware of the laws of nature, that everything that holds life is mortal. And of course change is also another law of nature that very well defines the reason why the immortal soul has to leave our mortal body someday and nobody can change it. One who is unable to accept this fact is the saddest soul on this earth. Knowing the fact of mortality, one should play their role effectively. But according to Hindu mythology there exist some exceptions. Some divine and Sacred souls are blessed with immortality and there is a belief that they still exist just the way we humans exist. They are referred to Ashta Chiranjeevi’s, who will continue their existence until the end of this universe.
Who is Immortal or Chiranjeevi?
Chiranjeevi is composed of two Hindi words Chiram which means “permanent” and Jeevi means “Lived”. In Hindu religion, there are total 8 such person who are either blessed or cursed with extremely long lives. They have attained Amaratva or Immortality and will remain alive throughout this KalYuga until Satya Yuga. According to Hindu scripture, their names are all included in one shloka:
There is a belief that by reciting the above shloka or mantra each day, any man can win over mortality. He can live a life of even more than 100 years, which is way too long.
The 8 Chiranjeevi:
To live forever with festering wounds for choosing to use weapons of mass destruction in the Mahabharata War. Ashwathama was the son of Dronacharya and Kripi. He was the eleventh Rudra avatar and holds the same Valore of Lord Shiva. He fought against the Pandavas from the Kauravas side in the Mahabharata. Ashwathama was an unbeatable warrior with immense knowledge in the science of weapons. He possessed excellence in 64 forms of Arts and 18 Vidya.
Ashwathamais Chiranjeevi as he was cursed by Lord Krishna for his misdeeds in the battle field, that he will wander in the world with puss and blood oozing out of his wounds and he may cry for death but may not receive mukti until Kali Yuga. He would not get any happiness in life and will roam with the burden of sin and will carve for death. Since then he is immortal.
Mahabali or Bali
Witnessing the might of Vamana avatar, Bali surrenders to the will of Vishnu thus getting the boon of a long and prosperous life. Mahabali is considered one of the greatest devotees in the text of Hindu mythology. He was known for his valor and charity. Despite being an asura Mahabali was a very pious religious and righteous king. To test his charity, once Lord Vishnu arrived in the form of Vimana, a small boy and asked for three strides of land.
As Mahabali agreed, the boy grew as big to cover the entire sky and earth with two strides. Well, this was impossible for Mahabali to fulfill but requested the boy to place the third stride on his head so that he could least devote himself. Vishnu was so impressed with his generosity and modesty that he blessed Mahabali to be Chiranjeevi.
A manifestation of Lord Shiva, Hanuman is known for his selfless devotion towards Rama. He is an immortal of his own will, till the name Rama exists. Hanuman was born as Maruti to the king of monkey’s Kesari and Anjana. He is also known as Vayu Putra, as wind being his godfather. He is one of the foremost devotees of Lord Rama and the stories of his role are well depicted in Ramayana.
It was Hanuman who found Sita in the Ashok Vatika and managed to reach her with Lord Rama’s message. Knowing him to be her husband’s messenger, Sita blessed Hanuman as Chiranjeevi. Whenever Lord Rama’s name is chanted Hanuman will come along.
Brother of Ravana who surrendered to Rama was granted the boon of longevity. Vibhisana being the brother of great Ravan and Kumbhakara, was different from them. He was righteous, bias and an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. He warned and stopped Ravana from captivating someone’s else wife but failed.
He was Vibhisana who helped Ram to win over Ravana by disclosing how to end Ravana. Pleased with his devotion Lord Rama not only crowned Vibhisana as the King of Lanka but also blessed him to live long as Chiranjeevi.
Military guru of the Kuru princes in Mahabharata was cursed to suffer along with age by Krishna. Although he was born to Saradvan and Janapadi, Shantanu adopted him. Kripacharya has a prominent character in Mahabharata, he was the brother of Kripi, wife of Dronacharya. It was Kripacharya who could fight 6000 warriors alone. He fought for Kaurava and was only left alive, with Ashwathama.
Avatar of Vishnu who will emerge from his sleep/ penance at the end of Kaliyuga and will serve as a martial arts instructor to Kalki, the final avatar of Vishnu. Performing a long penance helped him please Lord Shiva and he was blessed with an Axe which he carried everywhere.
As he was the avatar of Lord Vishnu, he has to appear when the evil reaches their extreme. He appeared and fought for the Konkan and Malabar people to save their land and property from Kshatriya. Also, he will again appear in KalYuga as the instructor of KalKi. Yet he remains immortal.
The sage who composed the Mahabharata lived a complete age- the Dwapas Yuga which lasted for 8,64,000 years. Veda Vyasa’s original name was Krishna Dwaipyana and was the son of Parashara and Satyawati. He was named Veda Vyasa later because
Vyasa in Sanskrit means the compiler and he classified the Vedas. Some text states that Vyada is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu who appeared in Dwapara Yuga to script the Vedic knowledge. He split the Vedas into 4 to make it easy to read. Even today celebrates his birthday as Vyasa Purnima or Guru Purnima. Hence, it is a strong belief that he is still alive.
Maha Rishi Markandey
A boy destined to die at the age of 16 is saved by Lord Shiva from the clutches of Yamadev and bestowed with eternal life. Markandey was destined to die at the age of 16 when Yama the god of death came to receive Markandey, he chanted few mantras in the name of Lord Shiva.
To rescue his greatest disciple Shiva appeared and fought with Yama. Yama was defeated and Markandey got a boon of long life. The mantra he chanted for Lord Shiva was the MahaMritunjaiStotram. Since then Maha Rishi Markandey is Chiranjeevi.
These 8 immortals are the attributes of humans who will exist until Kalyuga.