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.