Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lakshmi kataksham

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. This we all know. Sri maha periyava in deivathin kural has given the examples of three great scholars who were benefitted by the blessings of mahalakshmi. They are Adhi Sankarar, Vedanta Desikar and Vidyaranyar. We shall see about them.

Sankara was born in kaladi. After his upanayanam, he wished to take up the sanyasa ashrama. But his mother didn't permit for that. He was so in need of entering into the sanyasa ashrama. While he was bathing in the river, a crocodile caught his feet and he was unable to move. A divine voice told that in this birth his life is about to end. He took that as a chance to make his mother allow him to enter sanyasa ashrama. So he told his mother that if she allows him to take up sanyasam,  which is considered as rebirth, he will be relieved from the hold of crocodile. His mother unable to do anything, allowed him as per his words. So sankara took up sanyasam and he was let free - from the holds of crocodile (As well as the bond of samsara). This sankara is none other than an incarnation of lord shiva himself.

In his poorvasrama, I.e before sanyasam, he was gathering food for the day, from households. It is the brahmmacharya dharma. Brahmmacharya ashrama is the period between upanayanam and marriage. Brahmmacharis have to gather food from the grihasthas (married couples, family) and eat what they get and not more than that. Even if they didn't get food for that day, they have to stay without food. He was standing in front of a hut, which seldom had any food. The very appearance of that hut, showed the poverty laden nature. When sankara asked for food, (bhavathi bikshandehi) a woman came out. She went in search of any food inside as she could not restrain herself from not giving food to this tejaswi sankara. All she could find was a stale amla (Nelli) fruit. Sankara understood the situation and he immediately wrote hymns praising goddess Lakshmi. Goddess immediately showered golden amla fruits that could fill the entire village. Sankara prayed for the lady, who even though was stuck with poverty, had an intention to give whatever she had. He prayed for the selfless nature of that woman. Thus the goddess showered her blessings on the poor lady, for sankara. This set of hymns praising Lakshmi came to be known as kanakadhara sthuthi.

Vedanta Desikar was a great vaishnavite scholar. He lived in kanchipuram. He was an ardent devotee of devaraja perumal (varadaraja perumal). Desikar was given a title "sarva tantra swatantrar" by the learned persons for his ability to achieve anything that he wanted, of his own, without any other's help. Desikar can get anything without borrowing anything from any human. The king was unhappy, on Desikar being given such a title, when he himself was there. He thought that he is the greatest person for all time. So he wanted to defeat Desikar. He made a plan. He chose a foolish boy and asked him to go to Desikar and ask him for a huge sum of money for his marriage. The boy unknown of the intention of the king, went to Desikar and asked for money for getting married. The plan of the king was to push desikar in an embrassing situation. Desikar doesn't have money of his own. He has to grant this foolish boy of his wish. And Desikar should not borrow anything from others. King was of the opinion that Desikar will be helpless. But what happened was, Desikar pleaded the goddess perundevi, the consort of varadaraja. Immediately, the foolish boy got the wealth that he requested from Desikar. The king, on coming to know about this, realised his mistake and fell at the feet of Desikar.

The next person was Vidyaranyar. He in his poorvasrama, was very much affected by the horribleness of poverty. He meditated on Lakshmi and a divine voice said, "in this birth you have to undergo the torments of poverty". Immediately, Vidyaranyar opted for sanyasa, and asked the goddess to grant wealth, stating that now it was his next birth. The goddess kept her words and granted huge wealth to him. But now since he is a sanyasi, he can't use the wealth for his needs. There are no family,  no relatives for a sanyasi. So he felt bad about his hasty decision for the want of wealth. But soon after meditating again, he got a clarity that it is all divine intervention. He has to make use of the wealth he got from goddess for the sake of world. At that time, there was a threat to Sanatana dharma, due to Turkish invasion. Also dvaita philosophy by madhvachariyar was prevalent in Karnataka. Sri Vidyaranyar, wanted to establish advaita and Sanatana dharma. He gave the wealth to two shepherds viz harihara and burka. They were crowned the king and minister respectively, of the new empire created under the guidance of  Vidyaranyar. The king was given the task of renovating the demolished temples. He also appointed another person, a cousin of this new king to conquer the captured princely states, to the south of Karnataka. They were successful in the attempt and thus came the raise of vijayanagara kingdom of hoysalas at hampi in Karnataka. Originally, the kingdom was named as vidyanagara kingdom, in praise of their guru Vidyaranyar. Later it became vijayanagara empire. This is not to be confused with vijayanagaram in Andhra Pradesh. The famous Krishna deva raya was a descendent of this vidyanagara (vijayanagara) empire.

The first king's cousin is known by the name kammpanna udaiyar. He conquered the southern provinces. There is a place called kambarasanpettai near trichy. It was named after this kammpanna udaiyar. He renovated a siva temple near samayapuram. That is now known as pocchaleswarar temple. The actual name of this temple is hoysaleswarar temple!

Goddess Lakshmi, thus showered her blessings for three persons. Let us pray to her so that we are also granted peace and prosperity.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Three siblings

Most of us know that lord Vishnu and goddess Parvati are brother and sister. Lord shiva - goddess saraswathi, lord Brahmma and goddess Lakshmi are siblings too. This fact is not known to many.

The complexion of these devathas will prove this fact. Vishnu, Parvati are dark complexioned, I.e blue or green or black... Both were born at the same time. When lord Krishna was born to devaki, vasudeva at mathura, yoga maya was born to yashoda at gokulam. Similarly, in the month of chithirai, when Rama navami is being celebrated, vasantha navarathri, the avatars of gnanambika is celebrated. We call Vishnu shyamalan and parvati as shyamala, meaning dark complexioned.

In shiva temples there will be a sannidhi for Durga, who is Parvati's form. She will be holding a conch and a chakra. She is usually called as Vishnu Durga. She is the protector. Protecting men is the task of Vishnu. Siblings show similarities in the task.

Shiva and saraswathi are white complexioned. We associate saraswathi with hamsam or swan which is white in color as her vehicle, white lotus as her seat. Shiva is described as shuddha spatika sankasham, meaning radiant like a pure spatika - transparent. Inherent meaning for pure is white.

Saraswathi is goddess of knowledge. Again in shiva temples there will be a sannidhi for dakshina murthy. This is siva's form. He will be holding, palm leaves, akshara mala in his hands. These are seen with saraswathi. Also both saraswathi and dakshinamurthy will have a crescent on their heads. Crescent is the one that grows. This indicates that arts should be ever growing. So these siblings grant ever growing knowledge to the devotees.

Lakshmi and Brahmma are red complexioned. Both are creators. Brahmma creates life, Lakshmi creates wealth to sustain life. We associate them with red lotus on which they are seated.

Parvati and shiva married one another, and supports one another in their activity. Similarly, Lakshmi and Vishnu and saraswathi and Brahmma. Knowledge (saraswathi) is required for creating (Brahmma) anything. Wealth (Lakshmi) is required for maintenance(Vishnu) and valour(Parvati) is required for destruction(shiva).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Warm and Cold

These are different words, infact opposites. But they have same meanings, that is they mean something good. Let us see.

In general, cold means cool, chillness (kulirchi, kulumai). In Tamil if we say, Manasu kulirndhadhu it means that we are happy at the happening of some good event. People generally relate the moon's cool rays to happiness. We even say the blessings of god as thannarul (cool rays). In Tamil if somebody receives scoldings, we say "sudu sol vanginargal" meaning, they received hot words.
But in the west, in English if we say cold welcome or cold hearted then it is something bad. If the response is not good, if someone arrives at a place, we say they were welcomed very cold. And we say a person who is not kind as cold hearted person. On the contrary, when we say so and so has been given a warm welcome, it means they are welcomed in a good way.

Why the same word have different meaning in different places? It is mainly because of the climatic conditions prevailing over the places where they are used. In India where the climate is hot, chillness gives immense pleasure. In western countries like America, England where the weather is already cold, warmth gives immense pleasure. So the people in tropics, use cold in their language for happiness and hot for feelings other than happiness. The English people use warm for happiness and cold for situations that are not happy.

This information was read by me in deivathin kural book, vol 1, in which mahapeiyava has enlightened the listeners of his lecture about the usages of these words.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tamil, Sanskrit month names

We all know the names of 12 tamil months. Let me also give its sanskrit equivalents and why the months are named like this. This is a simple one and can be guessed by anyone. The full moon day or pournami will fall on a particular star and accordingly the month is named. (Source: Deivathin kural)

read as tamil month - sanskrit name - star (sanskrit name of star) on which pournami falls

Chithirai - Chaitra - chitthirai (chaitra)
Vaikasi - Vaishaka - vishakam (vaishaka)
Aani - Jyeshta - kettai (jyeshta)
Aadi - Aashada - pooraadam (poorvaashada) or uthraadam (uthraashada)
Aavani - Shraavana - tiruvonam (shravanam)
Purattasi - Bhadrapada - poorattadhi (poorva proshtapadha) or uthrattadhi (uthra proshtapadha)
Aipasi - Ashwina - aswathi (ashwini)
Karthikai - Kartika - karthikai (Karthika)
Margazhi - Margashirsha - mirugaseersham (mrugaseersha)
Thai - Pausha - Poosam (pushyam) or punarpoosam (punarvasu)
Maasi - Maagha - Magam (magam)
Panguni - Phalguna - Pooram (poorva phalguni) or uthram (uthra phalguni)

The twenty seven stars or nakshatras for reference - ashwini, bharani, karthikai, rohini, mrigaseersha, tiruvadirai, punarpoosam, poosam, aayilyam, magam, pooram, uthram, hastham, chithirai, swathi, vishakam, anusham, keettai, moolam, pooraadam, uthraadam, tiruvonam, avittam, sadhayam, poorattadhi, uthrattadhi, revathi.

If we see, these days on which pournami falls will be a festival time. Chitra pournami, vaikasi vishakam, guru poornima, karthikai, tiruvadirai (margazhi month), thai poosam, maasi magam, panguni uthram and so on.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kuttu on our forehead for Ganesha

Why do we beat with our fists on our forehead while offering prayers to lord Ganesha?
Again I have two versions of history.

1. Ravana
Ravana was performing tapas at mount Kailash. Lord shiva was pleased by his tapas and asked him what boon does he want? Ravana replied, "his Kingdom Lanka should not be destroyed by his enemies.". Shiva the gave an atma lingam to Ravana and asked him to take to Lanka by foot, without keeping it down anywhere In the middle. Ravana agreed and proceeded towards Lanka with the lingam in his hands. The devas were worried about this and went to Ganesha and told the matter. They asked Ganesha to break Ravana's Plan. Ganesha assured them that he will take care of that and need not worry about it. So when Ravana was crossing a river, Ganesha created thirst and as a result ravana drank lots of water from the river. As he moved further, as per nature's rule, he wanted to answer it's call. But he can't keep the linga down. So he saw if anybody comes for his rescue. A small boy came by that side. Ravana asked that boy could hold the linga for a while and he shall return soon. The boy agreed but posted a warning that, he being a small boy could not hold the linga for a long time and if it pains, he will call Ravana thrice and if he didn't return, the linga will be kept down. Ravana agreed to that and went. No sooner did he went that side, than the boy called his name thrice and kept the linga on the earth. It was fixed at that spot. Ravana immediately came and saw that. He tried to take the linga away. But that's all in vain. Since his hands pressed so strongly on the linga, the elliptical shape of the linga turned out to be that of a cow's ear and the place came to be known as gokarnam. And even the mighty Ravana was unable to move the linga, it was named as mahabaleshwara.

Raging with anger, Ravana, hit the boy on his forehead with his fist. Boy turned out as lord Ganesha and blessed Ravana. To co-memorate this incident, we also hit our forehead with our fists in front of Ganesha.

2. Vibheeshana
After attending Sri Rama pattabhishekam at Ayodhya, vibheeshana got the idol of Sri ranganatha who is the Family deity of ikshvahu. Rama gave it to vibheeshana as his gift. Rama told vibheeshana if he keep the idol down, then it will stay at the same place. None can move it. Vibheeshana agreed and proceeded to Lanka. While he was crossing the river Kaveri near trichy, he was tempted to have a bath in the holy river. So he saw for someone who could help him in keeping the idol. As usual a small boy came for his help. He got the idol and told him that he can't keep it long and asked him to come as soon as possible. Soon, the boy called vibheeshana. But it took sometime for him to come and collect the idol. The boy placed the idol down, with its face facing the south, the direction of Lanka. Vibheeshana became angry and hit the boy with his fist on the forehead and there appeared Ganesha. Even now one can see the mark on uchi pillayar's forehead. The place where the ranganatha idol was placed is today's Sri Rangam.

Thorppukaranam for pillayar

Why do we put thorppukaranam for pillayar?I have two versions for reason.

1. Maha Vishnu:
Once lord Ganesha swallowed the sudarshana chakra of his uncle maha Vishnu. Ganesha was very powerful as we all know. So it is impossible to take out of his stomach using any force. Vishnu thought for a while. He must make something so that Ganesha himself voluntarily gives the chakra. So Vishnu decided to make Ganesha laugh aloud, so that the chakra can be retrieved. So Vishnu held his ears with his hands in a criss crosss manner i.e right hand holding his left ear and left hand holding his right ear and sat down and stood up alternatively. On seeing This, Ganesha laughed out aloud and the chakra automatically fell out of his stomach. So since this pleases Ganesha all started to do this in front of him.

2. Gajamukhasuran:
Gajamukhasuran got a boon from shiva that no weapon should harm him. So he started troubling the rishis and devas. He ordered them to put 1008 thorppukaranam in front of him 3 times daily. Also he troubled them by not allowing them to perform yagnas. So they went to shiva to find a solution for this. Shiva assured them that his son Ganesha will help them. Accordingly Ganesha waged a war against gajamukhasura. Because of the boon he got from shiva, ganesha's weapons could seldom hit him. He became invisible and reappeared in front of Ganesha as a mouse (mooshika). Ganesha thought for a while and did this. Ganesha sat on the mouse's back and the asura was thus unable to do anything. Ganesha thus won the asura's pride and the latter surrendered at the former's feet.
So to commemorate this victory we are offering thorppukaranam for Ganesha. Also since the asura surrendered, The Lord accepted him as his vahana. So Ganesha is seen along with mooshika.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Mandana mishra and Sharadambal

In my earlier post, I mentioned about Mandana Mishra (Sureshwaracharya). He became one of the prime four disciples of Adi shankara. Thodagar (for whom shankara wrote the famous thodagashtagam - vijithakila sastra sudha jalate...), hasthamalakar, padmapathar and sureshwaracharya are the four disciples of shankara.

Shankara went for thargam (argument on principles) with mandana mishra. He was about to get defeated. Then his wife posted a question to Shankara. Shankara was stunned and he meditated on Goddess Saraswati the vaag devata. He found that the person posting question is none other than the goddess. Shankara found the answer and convinced Her too. So Saraswati's work of establishing shankara's brilliance is done and mandana mishra has surrendered to Shankara. So she planned to leave this Earth. Shankara tied the goddess with a matra and pleaded her to stay on the Earth. Here the husband Mandana Mishra is none other than Brahmma's incarnation and his wife is none other than Saraswathi's incarnation.

Mandana mishra became shankara's disciple and was known as sureshwaracharya. Goddess accepted Shankara's plea and asked him to place her wherever he wants. Shankara chose the banks of river tunga. That place is today's sringeri. The goddess is blessing us as Sharadambal. Sureshwaracharya is the 2nd peetathipathi of sarvagya peetam at Kanchi and Sringeri (2 of the 6 peetams installed by Aadhi Shankara). 

Skandan and Sambandan

In Hindu mythology, Lord muruga is known as "The learned" - "Pandit". We call him gnana panditha. Gnana means wisdom. This word suits for skandan - gnanaskandan. Skanda was born to Lord Shiva from the fire that came out of his 5 five known faces (satyojatam, tatpurusham, eesaanam, vamadevam and aghoram) and 1 invisible adho mukham. So the six sparks (fire) came out of the sky, transported by air, reached the water (saravana poigai) and ruled (still ruling) the earth in the form of Lord Muruga or subrahmanya. This shows that skanda is manifestation of the five bhootas.

This skanda was 'Sanath kumara' (one of brahmma's manasa putra) in his previous birth. Sanath kumara was always meditating on Brahmman or the Paramatman. He had a dream that he was the leader of Devas or celestials and saved them from the holds of asuras or the demons. There is a rule that those who meditate on brahmman i.e for one who is an advaiti (practiser and preacher of the vakya aham brahmmasmi), will always speak, think the one that is true. Since sanath kumara dreamt about he being the lord of devas, it should become true. But in that birth, since he is meditating on brahman, there is nothing like leader or lord or deva or asura. So Lord Shiva came with his consort Parvati and made sanathkumara to ask for a boon. Sanathkumara in turn told shiva that he doesnt need anything and if he needs anything he will grant. Shiva was happy at his reply as sanathkumara proved that he is a true advaiti as he didnt differentiate him from brahman. So shiva asked sanathkumara that he may be born as his son in the next birth. Sanath kumara readily agreed to that request and told he will be born to Him, Shiva alone as Parvati didnt ask for any boon and it is wrong to grant boon to one who has not asked for it. Parvathi understood the situation and persuaded sanathkumara that there should be a small part played by her in this task. So sanathkumara assured that he will be born out of the sparks coming from Shiva's third eye and only a water body of Parvati's form could handle it.

Saravana poigai is Goddess Parvati's form. So it was able to handle the spark when even river Ganga was unable to handle it. Then goes the history of Kartika maids who got an opportunity to grow up six children and gave them back to goddess parvati who united them into one child with six faces, twelve hands. He is Skanda.

Sambandan was born in a family of priests in Sirkazhi in Tamilnadu. He is a reincarnation of Muruga. Because of his knowledge, he is known as GnanaSambandar. One of the six faces of lord skanda, protects the veda and the path established by it. Gnanasambandar too proclaims that it is his duty to uphold the vedic tradition. He did it. Fought against the Jains, re-established shaivam. Even the Pandya king who was supporting Jainism, returned back to shaivam after being cured by Sambandar's thiruneetru pathigam - "mandiram aavathu neeru.... thiru aalavaayaan thiruneeru".

Sambandar did lot of miracles that one cannot imagine. The poems written by him on palm leaves were undisturbed after being thrown into fire or water. Such is the highness of his songs. He drank the breast milk of tripurasundari ambal of sirkazhi when he was 3 years old. That incident is known to us. So I didnot mention much of it. This alone is enough that he is lord muruga. Who else is eligible to drink that mulaipaal?

Like sambandar in south india, there was a great scholar, kumarilabhatta who was a mimamsa by practice. For mimamsa, bhakti is not necessary. Just practising the karma mentioned in veda is enough. He fought against the buddhists who were of strong opinion that there is no bhakti no karma. Kumarilabhatta's mimamsa tradition came to be known as bhaatta matham after his victory over buddhism. Then came Adhi shankara who argued with kumarilabhatta that karma is first step to purify our external organs and bhakti is the next step to purify our mind. There is also a third step where there is no karma and no bhakti (i.e these will fuse together) and we will recognize our self (atman). Kumarilabhatta accepted his defeat and he sacrificed his mortal body in fire in front of shankara. Shankara tried to rescue him but it was a vain. Before leaving his body, kumarilabhatta asked shankara to go to Mandana mishra who was a staunch mimamsa, and tell him whatever was taught to him. Shankara even won mandana mishra and he became his disciple - sureshwaracharya also known as vaarthigar for his elaborate commentaries on upanishads and other vedic principles. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Pancha or the number 5 in our life

This number 5 has a special place in Sanatana Dharma. We saw about panchayatana pooja. We know about pancha bhootas or 5 elements, pancha karmendriyas (motor organs - body, eye, ear, nose, mouth), pancha gnanendriyas (sense organs), panchaksharam, pancha tanmatras , pancha upacharas, pancha sankhyopacharam, pancha krutyam etc..

Pancha upacharam or 5 acts of offering to God consists of Gandham, pushpam, arkyam, dhoopam and dheepam. These 5 upacharas represent five elements of nature or pancha bhootaas namely sky, earth, fire, water and air.

Gandham is applying sandal paste to God (Alankaram or decoration). This represents Prithvi or Earth.
Pushpam is offering flowers to God (Archanam). This represents Aakash or Sky.
Arkyam is offering water to God (Abhishekam). This represents Appu or Water.
Dhoopam is showing sambrani or dhoop stick. This represents Vayu or Air.
Dheepam is showing deepaarathanai with camphor. This represents Agni or Fire.

Again these 5 bhootas are related to our 5 senses (shabda - sound, sparsha - touch, roopa - form, rasa - taste and gandha - smell) and sense organs (ear, skin, eye, tongue, nose).

Sky is has only sound and hence related to shabdam or sound.
Air has both sound and touch and is related to sparsha or touch sense.
Fire has sound, touch and  form and is related to roopam or having a form.
Water has sound, touch, form (takes the form of the container) and taste and is related to rasam or having taste. Though we chemically argue water is tasteless, it does have a taste that everyone of us will agree.
Earth has all these - sound, touch, form, taste and smell. Hence it is related to gandham or smell. (We even have a film called mann vasanai :))

We hear with our ears, feel with skin, see with eyes, taste with tongue and smell with nose. So our ear is representation of sky, skin is representation of earth, eye is representation of  fire, tongue is representation of  water and nose is representation of  air.

Panchaksharam is the 5 syllable mantra na ma shi va ya.

Pancha krutyam as we all know is the 5 duties of god namely srushti (create), sthithi (sustain), samharam (destroy), thirothanam (hide) and anugraham (bless).

Pancha sankyopacharam is doing 5 pradakshinams and 5 namaskarams in a temple for 5 continuous days. If we do this, Ambal who is known by the name panchasankyopacharini will be pleased and grant boons to us.

Coming to Pancha tanmatras or 5 state of mind as told in Lalita sahasranamam, it is harshanam, roshanam, soshanam, mohanam, maaranam. Goddess Lalita has 5 flowers in her hand which is known as pancha baanam or 5 arrows. These 5 five flowers symbolize the 5 tanmatras mentioned above.

We have pancha pranas that we say doing nivedanam - prana, apaana, vyaana, udaana and samaana.

The list may go endless. But whichever seemed to be important and likely to say in this posting, I mentioned.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Panchayatana Pooja

Panchayatana pooja - a way to unite with God, is the way of worship established by Aadi Shankara. The deities in this pooja are Ganapathy, Shiva, Parvathi, Vishnu and Surya. Incidentally these deities form the main aaraadhana moorthy under Ganapathyam, Shaivam, Shaaktam, Vaishnavam and Sowram of the shanmatham. The sixth being Kaumaram where Muruga is worshipped as prime deity.

Kanchi paramacharya has told, as seen in Deivathin kural, that one may add a vel (spear in the hands of Muruga) in this panchayatana pooja and worship muruga too to complete shanmatham.

If we see the forms of deities in this pooja, they are all from nature. The material for Ganapathy is found in river sona. Bana lingam for shiva is found in Narmada river. Ambal's swarnamukhi is found in Swarnamukhi river in Andhra. Salagramam for Vishnu as most of us know is found in Gantaki river. The spatika for Surya is found near Vallam in Tanjore, Tamilnadu.

Why this was established is that, we need to go with nature always. We should not deviate from it. Also the minimal requirement for this pooja is water, akshada (rice), dry grapes, vilvam and tulasi. Vilva for Shiva, tulasi for Vishnu, Akshada for Ganapathy, Ambal and Surya. We can perform archanai with these. Even if tulasi or vilva went dry, it is not a problem. Dry grapes can be used for nivedanam. So if one has taken this pooja, he can perform everyday, wherever he goes. It is easy for him to take these small things in a box. With all these in mind Guru Shankara has paved this pooja.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


This temple is located on the banks of Arasal aaru (A distributary of Kavery river, Hari sol aaru, meaning the movement of the river will produce a sound hari hari). Being praised by saivaite saints Appar, Sudarar, Sambandar and Manikkavachagar, this is one of the paadal petra sthalam in Chola nadu, on the southern bank of Kavery river. Reference to Arasal aaru, read this earlier post.

Lord Shiva is known by the name Veezhinaathar and his better half is known by the name Sundara kujambigai in this temple. A huge tank (full of water) welcomes  the devotees. This is indeed a treat to our eyes. In these days, where temple tanks are giving a parched sight, this is infact a boon to us. Opposite to the tank is the main gopuram (small in size) which leads to another large gopuram with full of sculptures depicting Shiva ganas, nataraja's dance etc. Before entering this gopuram, to the right one could see a majestic hall, but completely dark. This is known by the name vowaal mandapam (hall of bats), mainly due to non usage of the hall. The roof architecture of this hall resembles chidambaram temple. Once upon a time the celestial marriage celebrations were performed in this hall. But now a days since the population has grown and due to some difficulties in providing lighting arrangements, this celebrations are shifted inside the temple premises in a open hall. Marriage is performed to the utsava moorthis, kalyanasundara moorthi - kathyayani ambal in the month of chithirai on magam nakshatram day. This is performed in the evening time.

Mahavishnu's chakra lost its power and it was by worshipping lord shiva here, he got back his chakra in full power. He performed pooja with 1008 lotus flowers. While completing he was short of one flower and for that he offered his one eye as a lotus. Shiva was happy with that and asked Vishnu to take back his chakra from the temple tank. Hence the name veezhinathar (nethrarpaneswarar).

By worshipping lord shiva, one could get the illness related to eyes cured. Also by worshipping kalyanasundaramoorthi and kathyayani, unmarried ones could get married to good individuals.

We enter the large gopuram and find ourself amidtst broad open prakara that hosts the dwijasthambam and bali peetam. In front of this is a peetam where the lord offered coins to saint Tirugnanasambandar. Further we find a mandapam and this has a lingam Tirumoolanathar.

We come around this outer prakaram and there are three other peetams on the other three sides. Peetam where Saint Sundarar is offered jewels, then on the back side there is the peetam where Saint Tirunavukkarasar was offered coins. Here we find the sannidhi of padikkasu vinayakar who offered coins to the saints on behalf of Lord Siva, during famine times, for building the temple. We also see another gopuram after this sannidhi. We come to the prakaram and move further to find the peetam where manikkavachagar was shown the paadam by the lord. There is also a separate small sannidhi for mahalinga swamy and mayuranatha swamy.

We come to inner prakaram, where there are two temples. One for Veezhinathar and the other for Sundarakujambigai. Before entering the sannidhi, there is a nandhi which is located at a lower level. This is known as Patala nandhi.

There are few steps known as maasa padi, to climb the main sannidhi. On the other side, for exit, there are another set of steps known as Graha padi. We enter the sanctum sanctorum of Veezhinatha peruman. There behind the linga, there are idols of Siva - Parvati in kalyana kolam. Very few temples have these kind of arrangements in the garba graham. To the right, there is the sannidhi of Kalyanasundaramoorthi and Kathyayani in kalyana kolam. There is also a nandhi to the left of Siva. The arrangement is in such a way that siva keeps his hand on nandhi in a resting posture.

Inside the mandapam hosting garba graham, there are places for other utsava idols like Balambal, Bikshandar, Mahavishnu(getting his chakra back by bathing in the temple tank) and few more.

We come around this inner prakara and we see Dakshinamoorthi. Here there is no muyalagan below his feet. Instead, his feet rests on a lotus. There is a hole on the back side of siva sannidhi through which parrots use to worship lord shiva daily. Usually, lingothbhavar will be in this place in all other temples. This is a rare one. There are many other linga structures like Ekambreswarar. The sthala vruksha is Jack tree (palaa maram). Even now a days in villages in and around this place, in all houses there will be jack trees and jack fruit is one of the favourite fruit for the people here. The vahanas are also present in the mandapams in this prakaram. Other sannidhis for Nataraja - Sivakami, Vaidyanathar, Suryan, Chandran, Bhairavar, Murga, Irattai Vinayakar are seen in the front entrance of ths prakaram.

We then enter the temple of sundarakujambikai (azhagiya mamulai amman). This too has a gopuram, to enter from the outer prakaram, but it is rarely opened. Normally we enter from shiva temple. This gopuram has sculptures, predominantly female deities. This has a sannidhi where sundarakujambigai blesses her devotees in a standing posture. With four hands, top two holding sangu and chakra and bottom two with varada abhaya mudras, this deity is said to have beautiful breasts full of grace and hence the name azhagiya mamulai amman. There is a sannidhi for Vinayaka on one side and Muruga on the other side in this prakara.

This temple is maintained by Tiruvavaduthurai aadheenam. Nice temple to have darshan.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Uttamar Kovil

This temple has something special and unique when compared to all other temples. Yes.. This has the shrines of Brahmma, Vishnu and Shiva with their consorts. Vishnu is known by the name Purushottama perumal and hence the name of the place - Uttamar Kovil. Goddess Lakshmi is known as Pooranavalli thayar, who grants the boon to give a complete satisfaction to the devotees. Shiva is known by the name Bikshandar and this place has another name - Bikshandar kovil too. Soundarya Parvathi is the name of Lord shiva's consort in this temple. As the name says, the ambal is so beautiful. For lord Brahmma who does not have a form in this bhoolokha, this temple is an exception. There is a separate sannidhi for Brahmma. Goddess Saraswathi with veena, akshamala also sits in a separate sannidhi, bestowing boons to the people is found in this temple. This is one of 108 divya desams (praised by Tirumangai alwar) and is known by the name Thirukkarambanoor and the sthala vruksham is Banana tree. Banana are found to be grown on the banks of river cauvery. One more temple tiruppaigneele near Trichy is also said to have banana as sthala vruksham.

This is a small temple in terms of area. If we enter from No.1 tollgate bus stop, past Kollidam (coleroon) river in Trichy, we are welcomed by a dwajasthambam. Before that stands the garudazhwar (Periya thiruvadi) sannidhi. Opposite to this is the shrine of Purushottama perumal. Perumal lays on his serpent aadhi sesha - similar to Sri Ranganatha swamy of Srirangam. To the left of this sannidhi is Sri Mahalakshmi thayar, who is adorned with beautiful ornaments. To the right of perumal sannidhi is the sanctum sanctoram of Hanuman(Chiriya thiruvadi). All these are built with in a mandapam. To the left of this mandapam is another mandapam, that hosts the sannidhi of Poorana valli thaayar.

We come around the temple to find the small sannidhis of Twin Vinayaka (Irattai pillayar), Bala lingam (a tiny lingam). Then we come to the Dakshina moorthi sannidhi. Here they call dakshinamoorthi as Siva guru. Then we enter a hall which has the shrines of Bikshandar and Soundarya parvathi (sakthi guru). Nandi deva stands in front of Bikshandar. There are also some idols of utsava moorthis, Lord Subrahmanya, vinayaka in this hall.

Again in the path where we circum ambulate, we find the sannidhis of Lord Rama with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman and a separate sannidhi for Lakshmi Narayana.

We cross the nandi and reach a small mandapam that has the sannidhi of Lord Venugopala. we move further to see the navagraha sannidhis and Durgai amman. There is another small sannidhi of Lingam that was worshipped by King Dasaratha and the name of that lingam itself is Dasaratha lingam.

We complete the round and come near the dwajasthambam in front of perumal. There on our side we find another mandapam hosting sannidhis of Varadharaja perumal (called as vishnu guru), aazhwars. Brahmma and saraswathi are seated in separate sannidhis.

This sthala is also known by the name saptha guru sthalam. They are Deva guru (brahaspathi), Asura guru (Sukracharya), Siva guru (Dakshina moorthi), Sakthi guru (Soundarya parvathi), Vishnu guru (Varadharaja perumal), Brahmma guru (Brahmma), Gnana guru (Subrahmanya).

Wednesday, May 07, 2014


No sooner did I utter this name, immediate thought of the famous halwa (a sweet made out of wheat and sugar) comes to our mind. Also known by another name Nellai, this is an important, siva sthala, situated on the banks of river Tamiraparani (shuddha tamraparni thadasthitham as pointed out by Muthuswami dikshitar in his kriti Sri Kantimatim in hemavathy). Out of pancha maha sabhai (5 sacred halls), this is thamira sabhai (copper hall). Lord Nataraja's dance was seen by saints in these 5 halls.

1. Kanaka sabhai (Hall of gold) - Tillai (chidambaram)
2. Velli ambalam (Hall of silver) - Aalavai (Madurai)
3. Rathna Sabhai (Hall of gems) - Tiruvalangadu
4. Chitra Sabhai (Hall of paintings) - Tirukuttralam
5. Thamira Sabhai (Hall of copper) - Tirunelveli (Nellai)

In all the 4 places except Madurai, Nataraja's right leg is on the ground and left leg lifted. In Madurai alone, it is reversed (right leg lifted and left leg on the ground).

As soon as we enter the Nellaiappar temple, we could see the kerala type architecture on the ceilings interior to the main entrance. A big nandhi (constructed during recent times) welcomes you. Then we can see the dwajasthambam and a small nandhi (ancient one). Further if you go inside, there is the sannidhi of Nellaiappar. But it is customary to first see Kanthimathi amman sannidhi first. So we circumambulate the prakaram. We enter a sannidhi where Vinayaka, Shiva (in linga form) and Parvati were seated under a roof, with Nandi deva infront of them. Then we further go inside to see a hall full of sculptured pillars with yali. In two of those pillars we could see Hanuman and Sugreeva. Near Hanuman carved pillar, we find the sannidhi of Mahishasura Mardhini. To the left we see the temple tank. On the banks of the tank we see lot of lingas named, Kashi viswanatha. The tank is considered to be as pure as the Ganges.

We further cross the hall, to enter the prakaram of Kanthimathi amman. We see the thousand pillared hall and the oonjal mandapam, where ambal sits on the swing during the month of Aadi (in this month, valaikappu function is celebrated for amman) and Chitirai (during kalyana utsavam). We enter Kanthimathi amman's sannidhi. Oh... one could feel like hugging her.. for she is full of grace. On the day when I saw her, she was wearing a yellow coloured cotton saree, so simple... but I got a feeling that a child will get after seeing her mother after a long time. coming out of Kanthimathi amman temple, we could see Mahalingaswamy sannidhi and few more shiva lingams.

On the other side we were welcomed by the temple elephant (Kanthimathi). She blessed us. For her the authorites have put 3 ceiling fans to enable her to sleep without any disturbance during night. Its a move to be welcomed. We came across the ancient temple of Mahalinga swamy which is located below the ground level. Due to passage of time, it went down, as I could hear from the temple authorities. To its right there is the Nellaiappar sannidhi. The entrance is adorned by pillars holding sculptures of Karnan, Arjunan, Veerabhadran and one more siva gana with garland made of human skulls. All were very realistic. Both Kanthimathi amman temple and nellaiappar temple are famous for the musical pillars. There are few pillars in the amman temple and more in siva temple. One could hear Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa in a set of pillars. One could hear the sound of jalatharangam, tabla in others.

Nellaiappar is swayambu (self created). So the shape of linga is not that perfect. There is a cut that passes from top right to centre. Interesting thing here in the sanctum sanctorum is, there is a sannidhi for Vishnu. Named as Nellai Govindar, vishnu lays on the serpent bed, performing pooja to another siva lingam (just like ananthapadmanabhaswamy). There is also a utsava moorthi for Vishnnu, with a kamandalam in his hands, standing after performing marriage of his sister Kanthimathi  with Nellaiappar.

There is also a Shanmukar sannidhi. Unique thing here is, the six faces of muruga were placed symmetrically that from the front we could see three faces and the other three faces could be seen from the back side only. Here Indra himself stands as peacock. Normally asura will be peacock. In that case peacock's beak will be on Muruga's right side. If deva is a peacock, it's beak will be on Muruga's left side. Realistic Sculptures of Manmadhan (with a romantic smile) and Rathi adornes the entrance to Muruga's sannidhi. There is an image of Sri chakram painted before the entrance of murugan's sannidhi.

Another stunning shrine is Sandana nataraja (Nataraja will always be bathed in sandal paste). There is a hall before this sannidhi which is decorated by wood carvings.

This temple is larger than madurai temple. Also well maintained and very clean and tidy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Power of Bhagawan Nama

Name of the God (Irai Namam or Bhagawan Namam), if uttered consciously or unconsciously, with or without devotion, it will definitely protect us. Such is the power of the Name. If somebody calls out our name, we will look back at them right? Same is the case for God. If we call out His name, He will definitely look back at us. This is the simple concept behind name.

Ajamila charitram of Srimad Bhagavatam tells about the power of bhagawan namam. Ajamila, who lead a life full of materialistic desires attained salvation because of Narayana namam. Let us see his story. Ajamila was leading a life that was full of mundane desires. He had many children. His last son's name was Narayanan. Ajamila had a special love for this son Narayanan. When Ajamila was on his death bed, he was calling all of his children one by one. When he called his lovable son Narayanan, his soul departed. He died while calling "Narayana". So he was taken to vaikuntam by attendants of Maha Vishnu, after posting a win over the Yama's attendants.

Narayana, Hari and more.. there are many names for Lord Vishnu. If we say "Hari", all our sins will be washed away. It is good to say "Hari" 7 times in the morning immediately after waking up.

Even a robber, who was asked to chant "mara mara .." by Narada, was born as a great sage - valmiki -  in his next birth and gave the world Ramayana. Though he uttered the rama nama in reverse order, he was given a good position.

Heated coal will be red in colour. After some time ash will cover it. But if we touch, still we feel the heat. Retaining heat is the property of coal. Such is the Bhagawan name. If we start saying the same, the fruit of it will be keep on accumulating and we can feel that whenever we want.

Sastras say, if we chant 1000 names (sahasranama) of god, 1008 times, we will attain all good things. But that is not possible for most of us. But keeping on chanting a single nama is possible. Even Yama (the lord of death) will  fear if one utters the bhagawan nama.

With a small story I will finish this post. A man rose up from his seat in his home and took a bag. his wife asked him where he had started. He said "Arisi vanga poren" (meaning he is going to buy rice). No sooner did he said, than he collapsed and died. He was immediately surrounded by attendants of Shiva and Vishnu. How come?? See what he told before collapsing. ari siva nga poren (the same sentence split like this). Now the meaning is he is going to tell hari,siva... He attained mukthi. This is just an imaginative story. Why I told this is we will get good and only good merits if we tell the name of God with or without our notice. So only  we keep God's names for our children. Atleast by calling their name, we can call God. But pity is we don't call their names fully. We abbreviate it and lose the chance of uttering the Nama.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Rama Namam

With prayers to Lord Rama on the day after Sri Rama Navami of Vijaya Samvatsaram (2014 April 08), I am writing this blog.

Rama is a two letter mantra derived out of the ashtakshara (Aum Na mo Na ra ya na ya) and Panchakshara (Na ma Shi va ya) as we all know. Many saints have spoken about the power of this RaMa nama.

Goddess Parvathi asked Lord Shiva which is told in Sri Vishnu Sahasranama of the Mahabharata epic. "Keno Payena lakuna vishnoor naama sahasrakam - Patyathe pandithair nithyam srothumicchyaamyaham Prabho". She asked, "how a lay man can achieve the fruits of reciting vishnu sahasranama that can be read by learned person?". Lord Shiva answered, "Just tell rama rama rama. Rama nama has the essence of Vishnu sahasranama or 1000 names of Lord Vishnu". This is told in the sloka "sri raAa rAma rAmEthi ramE rAmE manOramE sahasranAma thathulyam rAma nAma varAnane".

In my childhood days I have heard a bhajan "Rama namame kalkandu" i.e. Rama nama is sugar crystals. This is the taste of nama. Bhadrachala Ramadasa, an ardent devotee of Rama sings, "Entha ruchira rama yemi ruchira - sri rama ni namam yemi ruchira - O rama ni namam entha ruchi". How sweet is rama namam... aaah.. so sweet... he says.

A composer Tanjore Shankara Iyer, sings in his composition -
Maduram maduram sri ramanamam
Manadhirkku inbam alithidum namam
Yedhu vandhu nammai yedhirtha podhum
Innarul purindhu rakshikum namam
Yenniya karumangal inidhe mudiyum
Rama nama mahimai adhuve aagum
Vinnavarum Pottrum tharaka manthram
Veeramum alithidum avan thiru namam

Rama namam is so sweet as a nectar. It gives happiness to the mind. Whatever comes in our way as an obstacle, Rama namam will protect us. What we desire to have, we get it. That is the prowess of the nama. The celestials too sing the pride of this taraka mantra and it installs bravery in one's heart.

After performing several crores of Ramanama, even in 19th century, one great soul got the vision of Sri Rama with his Bow. He is Saint Tyagaraja. He has composed numerous songs on Lord Rama. Who is equal to you Rama?, he asks in his kriti Rama Ni samanam evaru. Also he says Rama nama will give such a comfort to one who says it in another kriti Sukhi evvaro rama nama. In another kriti "rama katha sudha", he says Listening to Ramayana is so soothing and one will get dharma, artha, dhairya and ananda and more good deeds. Above all, rama bhakti (devotion to rama) will fetch you kingdom (Rama bhakti Samrajya).

The power of Rama nama is depicted by Hanuman (Ever living - chiranjeevi). He crossed the ocean by chanting the Rama nama. Rama built a bridge across the ocean to reach Lanka, but hanuman just like that crossed the Ocean by just chanting Rama nama. So this means, Rama nama is mightier than Lord Rama himself.

A small song (composer unknown) depicts the characteristics of rama nama.

Ramanin namame tharaka namam
Vendum varangalai thandhidum namam
Anjanai maindhan aanjaneyanukku
alaikadal thandida udhaviya namam
Jai jai ram ram jai seetha ram
Jai jai ram ram jai seetha ram

Narayana enum ashtaksharathil
Ra venum aksharam olithidume - adhu
Namasivaya enum panchaksharathil
Ma enum jeevanil inaindhidume
thondriyadhe rama namame
thudhithiduvome rama namame
Jai jai ram ram jai seetha ram
Jai jai ram ram jai seetha ram

Hariyum Sivanum ondre endru
anaivarum unarndhu thudhippome
Igaparam irandilum inbam alithidum
Inai yilla namam thudhippome
Adiyavar idargalai pokkidum namam
Arumarundhagiya annalin namam
Amudhamanaya sri ramanin namatthai
anudinam paadi avanarul peruvom
Jai jai ram ram jai seetha ram
Jai jai ram ram jai seetha ram

Ramanamam is the tharaka namam, that gives all you want. It helped Hanuman to cross the ocean. It was born out of the ashtakshara and panchakshara mantras. Let us all chant it. Hari and siva are one and Rama nama gives happiness both in this birth and in the next birth. It erases the difficulties of the deveotees, cures the illness. Let us all chant the nectar like Rama nama daily and get His blessings.

Nanmaiyum Selvamum naalum nalgume
Thinmayum Papamum sidhaindhu theyume
Janmamum maranamum indri theerume
Immaiye Ra Ma yendra irandu yezhuthinal

As quouted by Kambar in his Kamba Ramayanam, if one says RaMa in this birth, it will give him goodness, money for ever. His sorrow, sins will all be evacuated. He will be free from births and deaths. Let us all chant Rama Nama whenever possible (atleast 12 times a day) and get His blessings.

One more note: Samartha Ramadas (who was guru of Chatrapati Sivaji) was an ardent devotee of Rama. He has asked Rama to go in front of a person who has chanted RamaNama 13 crore times in his life. Also he asked Rama to keep the count himself as human may make mistakes while counting. So Rama's Bow (Kodhandam) which has a bell will hit once if a devotee completes 1 crore name. With this the devotees work is easy. He need not have to keep count. He need not bother about that. His only work is to chant Rama nama. Let us start from today.

Rama Rama Rama Rama..........