Friday, March 10, 2017

Devi's Naamaa

Today 10-03-2017, Friday morning at 6.15 I had a chance to listen to the speech of Shri P.Swaminathan in Podhigai TV. He was sharing an experience related to Shree Lalitha Sahasranamam. I wanted to share with you the same.

In a village, there lived a scholar who was very well versed in Lalitha Sahsranama and other sanskrit granthaas. He was also so proud of his knowledge and was always asking whoever he meets, some questions related to sahasranamam and will make fun of them as they don't know the answer for the same. This was a routine thing happening over there and the poor people could not do anything. They respected his knowledge. So they remained calm.

Ok. Our Maathaa Lalithamba is Omniscient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent. All are her children. If a child does some mischief on his or her siblings, the mother will interfere at some point of time. Lalithamba is not an exception to it. Indeed she loves to play with us, Her child.

The scholar met a man who looks after cows in that village. He has nearly 50 cows with him. He use to feed them, give bath to them and clean the places. He does nothing other than this noble task of Go samrakshana.

The scholar asked the man if he knows to recite Lalitha Sahasranama. The man replied, "I don't know that and all. Also it wont be easy for him to recite. But I have heard it being recited in the temple on Fridays. I have 50 cows with me. I have named them with the names that came in the sloka and also easy for me to call - like Sandhya, Savithri, Gayathri, Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Kamala etc.. Daily I use to meet each of that 50 cows atleast 20 times and inquire them like -

'Kamala, did you drink water?'
'Savithri, have you finished eating the hay?'
'Saraswathi, finished eating the fodder?'

so on.

The scholar could realize a sudden blow on his head. From that moment onwards he saw the cattle herd as Lord Krishna. He started to respect people and he stayed away from mocking at people.

What we have to take from this is - we need to be humble. Reciting naamaas with correct pronunciation is important. But reciting them with utmost love to Devi is more important. So let us not stay away from reciting God's naama having we don't know the proper pronunciation as a reason. Start saying. Pronunciation will be coming perfectly in the due course of time with the God's grace.

Saint Valmiki who was a thief in the previous birth, got upadesam from Sage Narada - the word "ma-ra". He kept chanting mara mara mara mara till his death in that birth. Ultimately rama rama rama rama came from his mouth. Then came the Rama avatara and Valmiki wrote the epic Ramayana!

The sound of the bell comes first. Then the Elephant. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Thirumullaivaayil (Vada Thirumullaivaayil)

This year sankaranthi, was a special one to me. For I had the opportunity to have a darshan of Maasilaamaneeswarar and Kodiyidaiamman, on January 16, 2016 (Maattu pongal day).

Thirumullaivaayil is located some 30 km from chennai, on chennai thiruvallur high way. Reach ambattur and from there on the way to avadi, you will find this place. There is another thirumullaivaayil, called as then thirumullaivaayil or thirumullaivaasal, in choza naadu, on the northern banks of river Cauvery.

This is one of the paadal petra shiva sthalams. Of the 276 temples, sanctified by saiva saint poets, 32 are in Thondai nadu (covering chennai, tiruvallur, tiruvannamalai, kanchi). This temple is 22nd of the 32 thondai naatu sthalam. Sundarar has sung a pathigam in praise of this temple. Sthala vruksham is mullai.

Thirumullaivaayil, was once a forest full of mullai (Jasmine) creepers. The history goes like this.

There were some 3 small kings, who were an ardent devotee of Bhairava. They were so powerful and they tortured the people in the areas ruled by them. King Thondaimaan who is a shiva bhaktha, waged a war against them. With the help of their favourite god, Bhairava, the 3 kurumbars defeated Thondaiman. On his way back, through the dense mullai forest, King Thondaimaan's elephant got stuck in the bushes. The king, cut those bushes with his sword. Alas! Blood started oozing out of the bushes. The king was terrified. He came down and was frightened to see a shiva linga, behind the bushes that he cut. Thondaimaan, prayed to the lord for a solution. 

He heard a voice which asked him to take the linga out, by cleaning the bushes and the king did so. After placing the linga in a separate place, he again heard the voice that said, "although I am with blood stains, I am still pure." Hence the name, Maasilaamaneeswarar. 
Maasu + illaa + mani + easwarar.

Maasu - dirt. 
Illaa- without.
Mani - Gem
Easwarar - shiva.

Shiva is a gem without dirt. This is the direct meaning of the name.

Lord shiva, encouraged the king to go back to the kurumbars and wage a war. The lord also sent his vahana, nandi as a support to the king thondaimaan. King Thondaimaan won his foes and brought 2 erukkam tree, which one can see at the entrance of the garba graham of maasilaamaneesar.

Since the lord has sent, Nandi to assist the king, one can see the unusual position of nandi. In other temples, nandi will be facing siva. But here it is facing the opposite direction.

Also, since the lord maasilaamaneesar and his consort kodiyidaiamman blessed the king thondaimaan, they both face east (same direction). In most of the temples, siva sannidhi will be facing east and ambal sannidhi will be facing south or north.

Kodi idai amman - the one with a lean hip. This temple ambal is kriya sakthi. Iccha sakthi being thiruvudai amman at melur, near minjur, chennai. Gnanasakthi is vadivudaiamman in thiruvotriyur, chennai.

The vimaanam, above shiva's garba graham is called as Gaja brushta vimaanam. Gaja - Elephant, Brushta - Back side. Yes. It looks like back side of the elephant. The front side is flat and the back side has rounded corners. The elevation is like a half-cylinder.

As one enters the temple one can find lord vinayaka, Prasanna Ganapathi. Then we circum ambulate the prakaram. We find Lord subrahmanya with his consorts valli-devasena, We then reach the sannidhi of two lingas - chozhapureeswarar and Kucha-Lava-Pureeswarar. Some chozha king, Lava, kucha (sons of Rama) must have worshipped the respective lingas.

There is also a big size lizard, carved on the compound wall of the temple.

There are shrines for Lord Surya and Lord Bhairava. They too worshipped the Shiva linga here.

Then we enter a common mandapam, housing the separate sannidhis of ambal first and Shiva next. 

Surrounding the Ambal's shrine, there is a Durgai sannidhi.

Surrounding the shiva's shrine, we can find Dakshinamurthi, Vishnu and Brahmma. Since shiva's head was cut by, Thondaimaan's sword, there is a scar on the top of linga. Sandal paste will be applied on all days. Only during Sathayam star falling on Chithirai month every year, this paste is removed and Shiva blesses devotees in his true form.

There is a tank associated with this temple. Thanks to the rains, for it has ample water in it.

There is a mandapam outside the temple, for resting the God on the vahanas during procession. Each pillar has some carvings like Rama, idiyappa chithar etc. There is a small temple for Vishnu, Sri devi Bhoomi devi sametha Swarna Venkatesa perumal, near this mandapam.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Rains in 2015 (Nov-Dec) – pros and cons - My experiences

After a long time, I am back to this blog with fresh experiences. 

People of Tamil Nadu, witnessed heavy rain fall this year. This is known to have occurred earlier in 1918. So nearly after a century, such a heavy down pour, accompanied with floods, paralyzed the normal life in most parts of Tamil Nadu, especially in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore districts.

There are definitely cons due to floods. But how come there will be pros? Well to know that, request you to read the below jottings of mine, which are completely my view. I have no intention to hurt anyone. All that is mentioned here are my personal opinion. Unintentionally, if this hurts anyone, my sincere apologies.

Reasons for flooding (with respect to Chennai):
  1. Clogged Storm water drains
  2. Clogged underground drainage
  3.  Polluting the river course, there by affecting its flow
  4. Constructing homes near the river bed, marsh areas 
  5. Re-laying of roads, without scrapping
  6. Garbage disposal issues
These are the few reasons that come to my mind on analyzing. All these are age old problems. These have been growing up for more than 5 decades. I heard from one of my relative, when they were staying in chenai, they experienced a heavy rain fall in 1960s. There was power cut for a week. But there was no water logging then. They were able to move around in day time and manage the situation. So now, there was a problem. Water logging and associated hurdles. These cannot be attributed to one entity, just the government. We citizens are also the reason for it. We shall see about these in detail.

1.       Clogged Storm water drains
The storm water drains, which collect the rain water in the streets and join them to the river (adyar/cooum/ buckingham) has not been checked for blocks for years together. There need to be a periodic checking of the same. There was lethargy in checking the same. Beautiful footpaths were built on the drains, which were blocked with nasty garbage things, liquor bottles, leaves etc. This was unfolded when the drain’s lid was opened and checked for blocks by the workers, during the recent floods.

2.       Clogged underground drainage
In city like Chennai, we have underground drainage. Most other tier 2 cities still have open drainage systems in interior streets. The process of converting them to underground drainage is in progress. This is a very good sign. Underground drainage is hygienic. There will be less mosquitoes, flies etc., thereby reducing the cause of diseases. But, if the pumping of drainage is not done properly, this is worse than open drainage. In the recent rains we witnessed this too. When all the rain water started to recede, drainage started to seep out, creating fear among the residents.

3.       Polluting the river course, there by affecting its flow
The garbage in our home or office or shop needs to be properly channeled. It need to be put in the common dust bin kept by the local authorities or handed over to the sanitary workers who normally collect at a particular time of the day. Instead most of the citizens learned or not, out of laziness, throw them in the street or in the river banks. Even they put the garbage, near the storm water drain unknowingly. This attitude has to change. We need to keep the streets clean and green as we would like to keep our living room. What happens is this garbage, in highly populated city like Chennai, on reaching the river banks, obstructs the flow of river.

Had the river’s flow not obstructed as it was the case during floods this year, there won’t be floods. The flow of the released water from chembarambakkam dam would have been smooth along the adyar river and the places like kotturpuram, adyar, saidapet, jhafferkhanpet, ramapuram, manapakkam etc would have not been inundated.

Again, this problem had been persisting for years together and let us all see if this doesn’t happen once again.

4.       Constructing homes near the river bed, marsh areas
While travelling through MRTS train, I have seen several huts, near the banks of Adyar and Cooum River. We need to ensure that those without proper homes need to be provided with one and the area near the banks should be clear.

There are few areas that are named as marsh lands. Before constructing we need to be aware of the soil type and if it is a marsh land, we should not construct home there. If there are rains, marsh lands will be severely inundated. It will take time for those lands to dry. Water stagnation will be there and it will lead to several water borne diseases.

5.       Re-laying of roads, without scrapping
Whenever a road is laid newly, the existing road should be scrapped and then new road has to be laid. If this is done, the houses built in the street will not go to the lower level. If it is not scrapped and the road is laid on the existing road, then the houses will keep going to the low level. Then if it rains and if flood comes, water will enter the houses, causing problems to the inmates.

6.       Garbage disposal issues
As already discussed above in point 3, garbage disposal need to be done properly. As good citizens, we need to be responsible. We need to remember that garbage needs to be put in the bins and not in streets. Even if we see someone putting garbage on streets, tell them politely this. If they refuse, you take the garbage bag in your hand, in front of them and dispose it properly. There are bins in almost every street. If it is not properly cleared, make a complaint to the zonal offices in your area. Most of the problems persist due to absence of communication. This thing I have personally witnessed during this rains.

All the points discussed above needs co-operation from both the public and the government. At least the garbage disposal point can be done by us with immediate effect. This will bring a drastic change. This is the first step in the swachh bharat initiative started by the central government this year in 2015.

Positive aspects gained during the rains:

Power cut for a prolonged period during the rains, due to water stagnation in streets, made people to come together. We have been sticking a lot to televisions, music players, smart phones, social networks all these days. We seldom talked to our neighbor or even with our family members. Since there was no electricity, the gadgets stopped working. So people resorted to in person communication. This made them to know about each other personally.

There was signal problem due to electricity failure. Cell phones didn’t work. There was neither charge in the battery nor signal to speak. So internet didn’t work. All these whatspp, facebook, twitter were not used. So this prompted us to visit our relatives, friends in person and it was a get together.
People whose home were inundated with water, moved to their friend’s home or relative’s home which are at a height and at a safe area. Even there, they were not sure of electricity. But they felt a sense of security in being with their kiths and kins. Candle light dinner was also there!

Due to floods, there was trouble in movement of autos, cars, two wheelers. So people resorted to walking to areas nearby. They even made use of public transport like bus, train etc. Whatever they had they shared with themselves. In a way there was conservation of energy.

In my area, there was no power for 5 days. So people with inverter or generator facility judicially used the lights. They switched it off during day and conserved it for night. Diesel was also of great demand, which made hotels/shops to judicially use the resource without wasting it.

So, let me put the points learned.
  •  Conserve resources.
  • Make hay while the sun shines. Start saving for the rainy day. Get stock of imperishable things, like medicines etc that have longer shelf life.
  • Get the things done on time. Don’t postpone that it can be done later. Time and tide wait for none.
  • Share our belongings with others and help others during needy time.
  • Do not buy the things you wish to have. Buy the things you actually want. Because most of the perishable things bought out of wish went waste due to power cuts.
  • Walk as much as you can. It is good for your health. It saves fuel and checks pollution level.
  • Use air conditioner only when you actually need. Just because you see an AC don’t switch it on while the climate itself is chill. The more your AC is in off state, the more global warming is cut.
In short, lead a simple life and be happy.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Brahmma's upadesam to Celestials, Men and Demons

This is a story from Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad, once quoted by Sri Maha Periyava, as mentioned in Deivathin kural, volume 3, of Sri. Ra.Ganapathi.

The devas (Celestials) went to brahmma, and asked to teach them some truth. Brahmma replied, "dha". The devas, for whom there is no self control understood the meaning as "Dhaamyatha". This means, to control one's senses. They went and practiced self control.

Seeing the devas, the men went to brahmma and asked to teach the truth that was taught to the devas to them also. So brahmma again uttered the letter "dha". The men understood it as "dhatta" meaning - to give, which was lacking with them. Humans of course will not give their belongings to others. So they too came back and practiced the art of giving.

Then the asuras, saw the humans and they too went to brahmma. The demons asked brahmma to teach them the truth. Again brahmma said, "dha". The asuras understood it as "dhayathwam" meaning to be graceful to All. They too started practicing dhayaa.

The universe was so calm and nice then. God was so happy on seeing the world full of love, prosperity and peace. Why so? Because if we control our senses, there won't be anger or hatred and so there will be peace. Then if we give to others, there won't be poverty and hence prosperity will be there. Then if we are graceful, there will be no hatred. And so love will be spread across the world.

This is a story. We need to practice the same. The devas, asuras, manushaas here mean us, the citizens of the world.

"Dhaamyatha dhatta dhayathwam janathaam
Sreyo bhooyaa sakala janaanaam"

As quoted by Sri Maha Periyava in his song maitreem bhajatha, composed for Dr.M.S.Subbulakshmi to sing at the United Nations.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Thirunedungalam

This is one of the 275 paadal Petra sivasthalam. Eighth sthalam on the southern banks of river Kaveri in the chola mandala. This is located near Thuvakudi, in Trichy district. Saint poet Thirugnanasambandar has composed a pathigam, 10 slokas and a phalasthuthi on The Lord here. That is called by the name, "idar kalaiyum nedungala thiruppathigam". Please see here for the text. 



Also, arunagirinathar has sung a tiruppugazh on the subrahmanya shrine here. Few verses on this temple are also found in arunagirinathar's Kandhar alankaram.

 

Lord shiva is called as nithya sundareswara or nedungalanathar and goddess Parvati is called by name, mangalambika or oppillanayaki. A mid sized water tank is at the entrance of the temple. 


Temple tank
Lord Ganesha and lord muruga are on the two sides of the entrance. Then comes the rajagopuram, which has several sculptures depicting purana stories, like ravana rendering sama gana with one of his head and hand as veena and some more. Then comes the dwajasthambam, Bali peetam. Nandi is in front of the peetam.

Main Entrance
Nandhi, bali peetam
To the right side is the sannidhi of ambal, mangalambika. There is a mandapam where the utsavar idols are kept during festival days after procession. 


Ambal Sannidhi
Mandapam where utsava idols are kept

Further as we move in,there is another gopuram with lot more sculptures. We see the nataraja sivakami sannidhi to our right. We cross another gate to see lord shiva. Here this nedungalanathar is a swayambu murthy. I.e. It appeared on its own, without the involvement of anyone. The linga is small in size and it is moved a little, to accommodate ambal to it's left. Ambal performed tapas here and attained lord shiva, in this kshetra.

Outside the sanctum sanctorum, Ganesha and muruga are seated on either side. We go around the prakaram and there are lot of small idols of saptha kannikai(brahmmi, vaarahi, maaheswari, koumari, chaamundi, indrani, vaishnavi), shiva lingas, Sri Devi, bhumi Devi sametha narayanan, subrahmanya with his consorts valli and devasena. On the back side of shiva sannidhi,there is ardhanaareeswara. 

Two gopurams above the garbha griham - similar to Kashi

Saptha Kannikas


Varadaraja perumal with Bhoomi devi and Sri devi

Subrahmanya
Ardhanaareeswarar

Theertham in this temple is agastya theertham and there is ample water in the well, so close to our hands!

 

Navagraha in this temple is a unique one. All eight grahas face lord surya who is west faced here. Normally surya is east facing. So there is a difference in the arrangement of the nine planets. 

Normal arrangement of 9 grahas

Angaragan - sukran - Chandran
Guru           - suryan - Budhan 
Ragu          - sani      -  kethu

Each graha face different directions.

Sivagama prathishta
Budhan     - Chandran - ragu
Angaragan - suryan     - Sukran
Sani           - guru        - kethu

All face surya and surya faces west.

Then there sandikeswara, bhairava, somaskanda sannidhis. There is also a vahana mandapam, having horse, bull, peacock, nandhi. This kshetra is equivalent to kashi or Varanasi kshetra. There will be two gopurams above the garbage graham as it is in kashi.

Vahana Mandapam

Let us pray to the lord, to slay all our sorrows. Idar agattruvaai Nedungalanatha! Aum Nama Sivaaya.