Anyone who’s read the Mahabharata would know that there is a plethora of brave and incredible warriors in Hindu mythology (and for the ones who haven’t read it, my mom would say, “lojja kore na?”). Now we know of the glories of Lord Krishna, the stories of Arjun, Ekalavya, and the great warrior Drona. But did you know that according to the various Indian traditions and stories, there are believed to be eight immortals who still walk this Earth?
Known as Ashta-Chiranjeevis (Eight ‘Immortals’, Chiran – Long, and Jeevi – Lived), these are their unique stories and the reasons why they’re apparently still alive:
Ashwathama: Hindu mythology immortals
Ashwathama, the son of Dronacharya, attempted to kill Abhimanyu’s unborn son with the Bramhastra, while still in Uththara’s (Abhimanyu’s wife) womb. He was rendered powerless and cursed by Krishna to roam the world for eternity alone, rejected by everyone, and victim to a host of incurable, excruciating diseases, never dying, but forever thirsty for death.
Bali: Hindu mythology immortals
Grandson of Prahlada and a devotee of Vishnu, Bali was the benevolent and righteous Vanar King who had conquered all three worlds, but freely surrendered all he had, to his Lord, when Vishnu visited him in his Vamana avatar. Thus, he was granted immortality because of his valor and charity.
Vyasa: Hindu mythology immortals
Veda Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharat and the Puranas, is said to live wherever the true and faithful exist, and was blessed with immortality by Vishnu and Ganesha.
Hanuman: Hindu mythology immortals
Hanuman, the son of Pavana, was the most devout follower of Ram. Hanuman shunned the heavens and requested to reside wherever the name of Ram is taken. Sita is believed to have bestowed on him the boon which made Hanuman ever-youthful, energetic and immortal.
Vibhishan: Hindu mythology immortals
Vibhishan, the brother of Ravana, fought on Ram’s side in the Ramayan. He was made a Chiranjeevi by Ram to maintain morality and righteousness in Lanka and to guide people all over the world in Dharma.
Kripacharya: Hindu mythology immortals
Kripacharya, the Kul Guru of the Kurus during the Mahabharat, was revered as an extraordinary teacher. To him, all pupils were equal. Even Dronacharya had favored Arjuna, sacrificing Ekalavya. Kripacharya, on the other hand, upheld the highest standards of impartiality expected of a teacher, for which, he was blessed with immortality by Krishna.
Parashurama: Hindu mythology immortals
Parashurama, a devout follower of Shiva, and the 6th incarnation of Vishnu, was the undisputed master of all astras, shastras, and divine weapons. He had the responsibility of exterminating the irreligious monarchs on Earth who neglected their duties, for which, he was granted immortality.
Markandeya: Hindu mythology immortals
Markandeya, the son of rishi Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati, was destined to die at the age of 16. However, growing up, he became an extremely ardent follower of Shiva. Even on his 16th birthday, the day he was fated to die, he continued his worship of Shiva. So, when Yamaraj came to take away Markandeya’s life, Shiva fought and defeated the God of death, granting Markandeya immortality.