Immortals are also called Chiranjivis. Chiranjivi the work itself signifies ‘Chiran’ meaning long and ‘jivi’ meaning life.
So, those who have the boon of living until the universe exist and cannot be affected by death or disease. Those whose cells have stopped the growth biologically are immortals.
Our Puranas, Ramayan, Mahabharat and other hindu scripts describes 8 immortals who exist from ancient time. They were, they are and they will be present till eternity.
So, who are these immortals ? How do they gain this boon ? Lets unveil the story of these immortals together.
Ashwathama was the son of Guru Dronacharya and Krupi. Ashwathama was not only a skilled warrior but also had a divine gift. He had a gem embedded in his forehead. This gem had powers to save him from demons, snakes, hunger, thirst, and diseases.
How did he become immortal?
Well…during the end of Mahabharat, Pandavas killed Duryodhana. Ashwathama was a loyal friend and promised the dying Duryodhana to destroy all the Pandavas. To fulfill this promise, he along with few other Kauravas entered the Pandavas resting nest. Although, using weapons at night was banned but for him, his promise came first. He then killed the 5 sleeping sons of Pandavas taking advantage of the night. He thought. he killed 5 Pandavas but he mistakenly killed their sons.
This brutal and unjust act revoke the anger in Pandavas. They took the pledge to teach him a lesson so that no one in the world will ever dare to commit such ruthless crime.
Ashwathama feared death. To escape the approaching death, he mounted Brahmastra on Pandavas. To defend themselves, Arjuna also mounted Brahmastra. The moment they fired their destructive weapon, Ved Vyasa interrupted. He asks both the warriors to withdraw Brahmastra as it would lead to mass destruction.
Arjuna withdrew his Brahmastra but Ashwathama did not know the method to withdraw it. Rishi Ved Vyasa then found a solution and ordered Ashwathama to aim the weapon at an isolated place.
Ashwathama still burning with the rage of his father’s and Duryodhana’s death had some other evil plans.
He changed the target but aimed it on Abhimanyu’s pregnant wife Uttara’s womb. His motive behind the act was to destroy Pandava’s clan. With the destructive power of Brahmastra, Uttara’s fetus was destroyed.
This hideous act of killing the unborn made Lord Krishna angry. The rage of anger came out in the form of curse from Lord Krishna’s mouth as :
May you, Ashwathama lead the most wretched life anyone can ever lead. May the sin of every man on Earth haunt you and burden you with guilt. May you never receive love and affection ever in your life unto the end of time
After saying this, he forcefully took the gem from Ashwathama’s forehead and continued the curse as :
May the wound caused by the removal of this gem never heal, serving you as a reminder of your abhorrent crimes. May your immortality becomes a bane and an eternal lessons towards your hideous acts
After cursing Ashwathama, Lord Krishna the preserver saved Uttara’s baby and named him as Parikshit.
The boon which turned into the most dreadful bane of all mankind. Still, eternal life or immortality !!
- The Asura King: Mahabali
King of Asuras Bali or Mahabali will always be remembered as the most divine king. Being an Asura, he was immortal. How? Why?
King Bali like all other kings were devoted towards his people. He wanted to acquire heaven for his asuras.
To fulfill this desire, he was performing a great yagya. Fearing his commitment to occupy heaven, devtas requested Lord Vishnu to stop him.
Lord Vishnu accepted their request and went to Bali disguised as a dwarf Brahmin boy.
Bali, the ruler, known for his kind acts, big heart saw the Brahmin and welcomed him. The Brahmin boy asked for some donations from King Bali.
Bali, the generous king, asked him his wishes and pledge to fulfil whatever the boy asks for.
Now, the dwarf brahmin boy asked for 3 pag zameen(3 foot’s land). To his astonishment, Bali asked him to demand treasures but he refused. On this, Bali granted him his wish.
The dwarf brahmin boy grew bigger and bigger and covers the whole universe with his 2 feet. He asked Bali how will he get his 3-foot land?
Bali now understood that the brahmin was none but Lord Vishnu. He told the Lord that he will fulfil his promise no matter what it costs to him.
He asked the Lord to put 3rd feet on his head. Lord Vishnu did the same and pushed Bali deep beneath the Earth.
This selfless act of King Bali mesmerized Lord Vishnu who then gave him the boon of immortality.
Hanuman is an example of selfless devotion to his Lord Rama. He is often said to be the incarnation of Lord Shiva.
It is often stated that he attained the gift of immortality from Yama(Death Lord). When he was small, he swallowed the sun and as a result, got punished by Indra.
Indra hurt him with Vajra Astra which made him fall from sky to earth. So, all the heavenly Gods came to his rescue and gave him several gifts. One of the greatest gifts was immortality.
Parshuram was the youngest son of Renuka and Jamdagni. He had 4 brothers and 1 sister.
One fine morning, when his father suspects his wife to be guilty. He called all the five sons. He then ordered them to punish their mother by chopping off her head.
Everyone except Parshuram refused and in anger, he converted everyone to a non-living stone. Parshuram, on the other hand, obeyed his father and punished his mother.
The obedience and dedication of Parshuram towards his father made him happy. He asked Parshuram to demand any 2 wishes. Parshuram asked for the life of his mother and siblings as the wishes.
Jamdagni granted his wishes and was spellbound to see the selfless nature of his son.
This selflessness & love towards family and respect towards his father made his father’s heart filled with joy. He then granted Parshuram the blessing of immortality.
- Sage Markandeya
Sage Mrikandu and his wife Marudvati were a childless couple. They decided to worship Lord Shiva to grant them a child. Their dedication and faith impressed Lord Shiva. He gave them the boon of a child with either condition to choose:
1) A dumb child with a long life
2) An intelligent child with a shorter life span
Though it was a difficult choice they chose an intelligent child. This child was named Markandeya who was a great devotee of Lord Shiva.
Soon, after learning about his faith from his parents, he decided to only worship Lord Shiva. Lost in his devotion, he didn’t hear the approaching death.
Lord Yama has arrived to take Markandeya with him. As soon as he threw his noose to capture Markandeya, Lord Shiva appeared. Lord Shiva reverted Markandeya’s death and gave him a boon of immortality.
Vibhishana is an epitome of truth and justice. He is the brother of Ravana, yet he always kept justice in front of everything. He has always guided his brother Ravana to leave the path of unjust.
To support humanity, he left his brother and joined Lord Rama’s army against Ravana. Vibhishana served as an important information provider to kill Ravana.
He was crowned as the next king after Lord Rama defeated Ravana. Lord Rama was very impressed with the truthful nature of Vibhishana.
He gave him the boon of immortality to guide the world to choose the right path against every odd.
He was one of the Guru of Kauravas. He was always known for his impartiality. He participated in Mahabharat war from Kauravas side as it is assumed that he wanted to lay off his debt of food and shelter.
He was granted the boon of immortality by Lord Krishna himself so that he can pass on his knowledge of armor, war strategy, logic, etc. He also taught Parikshit (grandson of Arjuna and son of Abhimanyu & Uttara)
- Ved Vyasa
Ved Vyasa was born on an island on the holy river Yamuna. His father was Maharishi Parashar and mother was Satyavati.
Not much is known about him being immortal but he is considered an immortal. The reason being his writings being published over a period far beyond a normal human life span.
It is believed that due to widespread violence, Ved Vyasa retreated into a remote village in northern India.
We don’t know if immortals exist but there have been several reporting of encounters with immortals. Ashwathama and Hanuman encounter tops this list of human encounters and can be easily searched online.