Thursday, November 21, 2013

Serene Singaperumal Kovil

The Pallavas who ruled a part of the southern India left behind great legacies for generations to cherish and admire. They were the masters of the rock-cut temples, Mammallapuram being one such masterpiece. The Pallavas have built a lot of temples primarily in and around the Kancheepuram region. One such stupendous temple, that stands amidst the daily bustling activities of the city, is the Singaperumal Kovil. The main deity is Lord Narashimar (Singaperumal). The historical name of this temple is “Paadalaadhri” which means Reddish (Paadalam) Hill (Aadhri). Lord Narashimar is in his fierce form - Ugra Narashimar. The fierceness of the Lord is attributed to the name of the temple (Paadalam - Reddishness).

The historical name of the temple and the surrounding place was Paadalaadhirpuram later got changed as Singaperumal Kovil. It is a rock cut temple in which the Pallavas were experts at building.Accompanying the main deity Lord Narashima is His consort Ahobilavalli Thaayaar also accompanied by Aandaal. The temple also has separate shrines for Lakshmi Narashimar, Ramanujar, Garuda - His vehicle/mount. The speciality of Lord Narashimar is that He has three eyes and hence the name Thrinethra Narashimar and the third eye is shown whenever the “deepa-aaradhanai” is done. The Pradosham day (Thirteenth day after the full moon) is considered to be auspicious in this temple and the poojas (rituals) are conducted during this day. Normally, Pradosham is day when people go to Shiva temples to get the blessing of Lord Shiva  because He saved the world by intaking the dreaded poison (Aala Kaala Visham) during the twilight. Likewise, Lord Narashima saved the world from Iranyakashibu by killing him in the twilight and so Pradosham is auspicious in this temple.

There are some interesting legends associated with this temple. We will see two of those legends that related to the temple’s origin and history. One is that of Maharishi Jabaali and the other is that of Vyakra Paadhar.

Maharishi Jabaali went on a deep meditation just doing a mental incantation of Lord Narashima’s form. He wanted to worship him in the form as shown to Prahaladhan. Lord Narashima pleased with the worship appeared before Maharishi Jabaali in the form he requested in the very place where the Singaperumal Kovil is today.

The other legend is Maharishi Vyakara Paadhar wanted to worship Lord Narashima came to this area which was then a jungle. He met a hunter who was living in that part of the jungle. The hunter curiously asked the Maharishi about why he was there in this perilous jungle. The Maharishi thought the layman hunter will not be able to understand his purpose visiting the jungle and hence he said that he ventured into the jungle in search of an animal. The hunter told that he could help the Maharishi with that.

But the Maharishi thought that the hunter being an illiterate layman and said that the hunter could not find such an animal that he was searching for. The hunter vowed to find the animal and bring it before the Maharishi within the end of the day else he would die before the Maharishi and asked how the animal would look. The Maharishi told that the animal would have a lion’s face and human’s body picturizing Lord Narashima hoping that the Lord would never appear before the hunter because he doesn’t even have the knowledge of who Lord Narashima was.

The hunter challenged that he will find the animal of Maharishi’s description before sunset else he would die in front of the Maharishi. The Maharishi smiled thinking that Lord Narashima has not appeared before a person like him who has showed so much devotion and meditation, how will he appear before a hunter who doesn’t even have the knowledge of Lord Narashima.

The hunter wandered all day long in the forest scanning thoroughly in search of the beast that Maharishi described. The sunset was close and he couldn’t find the beast, so, dejected he walked back to fulfil his promise of dying before the sage. When walked back, suddenly he heard a loud roar. And there! he found the beast he was searching for. He felt joyed and without wasting time he pounced on the beast and tied its hands with a rope and took him to the Maharishi.

He exclaimed to the Maharishi about his find and pulled the beast in front of the Maharishi. The Maharishi was surprised as he could see nothing, but just a rope hanging in mid-air the other end of which the hunter was holding. Confused, the Maharishi asked where the beast is as he could not see. The hunter said that the beast was right in front of him. That was when the Maharishi heard the Divine Utterance, Lord Narashima told that the Maharishi had the pride and arrogance but not the dedication, so He did not appear before him. But the illiterate hunter showed the dedication thinking all the day without any deviation in his mind and he was able to see Him.

The Maharishi realised his mistake and started to worship with the dedication and later Lord Narashima appeared before him to bless. The jungle where this event happened is the Singaperumal Kovil

Now let’s see some pictures of this great temple

The entrance to the Singaperumal Kovil

The vimanams of Lord Narashimar and Ahobilavalli Thaayar

Another view of the vimanams of Lord Narashimar and Ahobilavalli Thaayar

The vimanam of Lord Narashimar from behind the temple

The sacred Azhinjil or Kadamba Tree inside the temple it is also the Sthala Virutcham

Me and Lord Narashimar Vimanan

My brother Rajesh and Lord Narashimar Vimanam

The Sthala Virutcham. People do some offerings in the tree like tying cradles and sacred threads hoping for prosperity, children and better life

Another view of the Sthala Virutcham

View of Sunset from the temple

 Garuda Azhwar Statue in the North-West corner of the temple wall

There is also the shrine of Lord Hanuman and big pond outside the temple but not known to many who visit the temple

The Pallavas did a great deed of building this temple by which Lord Narashima has been showering his blessings on the people who flock to worship him. One should visit this temple to enjoy the serene beauty and the divine grace.

More to come, until then...

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Austere Avvaiyar - Part 10

Vinayagar Agaval, the masterpiece that stands as a testimony to the eloquent legacy Avvaiyar has left for us. In this concluding part, we will see about another work of Avvaiyar which not quite famously known among people, but very rich in meaning and would stand as another masterpiece by Avvaiyar - Kural Moolam.

Kural Moolam, is collection of couplets grouped in 31 chapters in 3 sections. Each chapter has 10 couplets. It is similar to the famous Thirukural, by Thiruvalluvar, in the way the couplets are organized, however Avvaiyar’s Kural Moolam was not so popular as the Thirukural, but the 310 couplets have in them the rich meaning, moral values and the poetic exuberance. These couplets will exalt one into the state of realising the Supreme Being.

The Kural Moolam is organised into the following Chapters - வீட்டுநெறிப்பால், திருவருட்பால், தன்பால்  (Veetuneripaal, Thiru Arutpaal, Thann Paal). The first chapter is about the discipline for the body which the home for the soul, The second chapter is about the Divine grace. The third is about the Self and realisation.

Let us see a few of these couplets from Kural Moolam. Click the links to download the full version of Kural Moolam - PDF | Online

உடம்பினைப் பெற்ற பயனாவ தெல்லாம்
உடம்பினி லுத்தமனைக் காண்.

Udambinai Petra Payanavadhu Ellam
Udambinil Uththamanai Kaan

meaning,  the purpose of getting this physical body is to find the Divine Being inside

மாசற்ற கொள்கை மனத்தி லடைந்தக்கால்
ஈசனைக் காட்டு முடம்பு

Maasattra Kolgai Manaththil Adaindhakkaal
Eesanai Kaatum Udambu

meaning, if you gain virtuous thoughts in your mind the body will show the Supreme Being (Lord Shiva)

முன்னைப் பிறப்பின் முயன்ற தவத்தினால்
பின்னைப் பெறுமுணர்வு தான்

Munnai Pirappin Muyandra Thavathinaal
Pinnai Perum Unarvu Thaan

meaning, the realisation in this birth is the result of the penance and good deeds in the previous births.

வாய்மையாற் பொய்யா மனத்தினால் மாசற்ற
தூய்மையா மீச னருள்

Vaaimaiyaal Poiyaa Manathinaal Maasatra
Thooimaiyaam Eesan Arul

meaning, the grace of Lord Shiva can be achieved by speaking the truth, the truthful mind and cleanliness.

கருத்துறப் பார்த்துக் கலங்காம லுள்ளத்
திருத்திச் சிவனை நினை

Karuthura Paarththu Kalangaamal Ullathu
Iruthi Sivanai Ninai

meaning, See Him (The Divine Being - Lord Shiva) in your mind and without any deviation or disturbance, keep thinking about him

உண்டில்லை யென்னு முணர்வை யறிந்தக்கால்
கண்டில்லை யாகுஞ் சிவம்.

Undillai Ennum Unarvai Arindhakkaal
Kandillai Aagum Sivam

meaning, the realisation about Lord Shiva is about the thought that He exists in the state of existence and non-existence.

பிறத்தலொன் றின்றிப் பிறவாமை வேண்டில்
அறுத்துருவ மாற்றி யிரு

Piraththal Ondri Piravaamai Vendil
Aruththu Uruvam Aatri Iru

meaning, if you yearn for salvation of birthless-ness in this birth, renounce everything and worship the divine spirit

தன்னை யறியு மறிவுதனைப் பெறில்
பின்னைப் பிறப்பில்லை வீடு

Thannai Ariyum Arivuthanai Peril
Pinnai Pirappillai Veedu

meaning, if one acquires the knowledge about knowing oneself one can achieve the state of birthless-ness and salvation.

நிற்கும் பொருளும் நடப்பனவுந் தானாகி
உற்றெங்கும் நிற்குஞ் சிவம்.

Nirkkum Porulum Nadappanavum Thaanagi
Uttrengum Nirkkum Sivam

meaning, The Supreme Being (Lord Shiva) exists as things that are animate and inanimate as emptiness and void.

மெய்ப்பா லறியாத மூடரது நெஞ்சத்தின்
அப்பால தாகுஞ் சிவம்.

Meippaal Ariyaadha Moodaradhu Nenjaththin
Appal Aagum Sivan

meaning, For those fools who dont realize the divine truth the Supreme Being, Lord Shiva will stay aloof from their hearts

The following note appears last that indicates that this is a work of Avvaiyar and it is a note to the reader to follow the morals inculcated in the couplets to attain salvation

முத்திக்கௌவையார்சொல் முந்நூற்றுப்பத்துமுன்
சித்தத்தில் வைத்துத் தெளி.

Mukthikku Avvaiyar Sol Munnootrupaththu Munn
Siththathil Vaithu Theli

meaning, to attain salvation, follow the 310 couplets written by Avvaiyar, understand them and retain them in your mind to attain the eternal bliss.

The works of Avvaiyars have stood the test of time and she still is a revered female icon in the hearts of many, no wonder that people are worshipping her as a God, by building a temple for her. More than being a poet, she stands as an authority for inculcating the morals and virtues that serve as an eternal beacon for generations to come. The Avvaiyars have made us proud in many ways that we owe them the debt of carrying on their great works to our future generations.

More to come, until then...

Monday, December 03, 2012

Austere Avvaiyar - Part 9

Vinayagar Agaval, another masterpiece by Avvaiyar, that has stood the test of time and has also been passed on for generations and is recited even today in many homes. The hymn is in praise of universally accepted and much worshipped deity - Lord Vinayagar or Ganesha. There are two ways of describing someone in songs, the Paadhathikesa varnanai and the Kesadhipaadha varnanai, the former begins from the feet and describe up to the head and hair the latter is the reverse. Usually the former form is used when praising Gods. Avvaiyar has used the Paadhadhikesa varnanai in Vinayagar Agaval.

The greatness of Vinayagar Agaval is that it contains explanations about the very many things that one would acquire by worshipping Lord Vinayagar. The beauty is that all the greatness is containing in just 72 lines. It is packed with so much of stuff that some Siddhars and sages taken time to realise what is contained in Vinayagar Agaval.

In short, Avvaiyar explains how she got enlightened by Vinayagar the young elephant God - son of Lord Shiva. I wrote this as a one very long post to keep the essence and richness intact rather than distributing the feel of this great work across multiple post

சீதக் களபச் செந்தா மரைபூம்
பாதச் சிலம்பு பலஇசை பாட
பொன்னரை ஞானும் பூந்துகிலா டையும்
வன்னமருங்கில் வளர்ந்தழ கெறிப்ப

Seedha Kalaba Senthamari Poo
Paadha Silambu Pala Isai Paada
Ponnarai Gnanum Poondhugil Aadaiyum
Vanna Marungil Valardhalagu Erippa

The rose-coloured lotus feet of a baby elephant
adorned with anklets singing many songs
The golden waist chain and the
flowery attire that decorates its body

பேழை வயிறும் பெரும்பாரக் கோடும்
வேழ முகமும் விளங்குசிந் தூரமும்
அஞ்சு கரமும் அங்குச பாசமும்
நெஞ்சிற் குடிகொண்ட நீல மேனியும்

Pezhai Vayirum Perumbaara Kodum
Vezha Mugamum Vilangu Sindhooramum
Anju Karamum Angusa Paasamum
Nenjil Kudikonda Neela Meniyum

His box like belly and the weighty tusk
His Elephant face & and the vivid saffron streak
His Five Hands, the goad & the noose
The bluish body that captivated my heart

நான்ற வாயும் நாலிரு புயமும்
மூன்று கண்ணும் மும்மதச்  சுவடும்
இரண்டு செவியும் இலங்குபொன் முடியும்
திரண்ட முப்புரிநூலும் திகழொளி மார்பும்

Naandra Vaayum Naaliru Puyamum
Moondru Kannum Mummadha Suvadum
Irandu Seviyum Ilangupon Mudiyum
Thiranda Muppurinoolum Thigazholi Maarbum


His hanging mouth, the four shoulders on two sides
His three eyes, the three musk trails
His two ears and the shiny golden hair
The holy three threads intertwined upon his broad chest

The three eyes requires some explanation. The two external eyes is known however the third eye, is what the sages and siddhars refer to is the pineal gland - the control centre of the body regulating the hormones. That is also one of the reasons for people to apply the holy ash by men or bindis by women in order to stimulate the pineal gland and thereby prevents precocious puberty.

சொற்பதம் கடந்த துரிய மெய்ஞ் ஞான
அற்புதன் ஈன்ற கற்பகக் களிறே
முப்பழம் நுகரும் மூஷிக வாகனன்
இப்பொழு தென்னை ஆட்கொள வேண்டித்

Sorpadham Kadandha Thuriya Meignana
Arputhan Eendra Karpaga Kalirae
Muppazham Nugarum Mooshiga Vaaganan
Ippozhudhu Ennai Aatkolla Vendi


The Lord ( Lord Shiva) of the true knowledge - that is beyond word's explanation - Turiya (The Sleepless Sleep)
Begotten this Wish fulfilling (Karpagam) Elephant
The Lord who rides the mouse and tastes the three fruits - Mukkanis (Mangoes, Jackfruit, Banana)
Came now to possess me as His devotee

தாயா யெனக்குத்  தானெழுந் தருளி
மாயாப் பிறவி மயக்க மறுத்தே
திருந்திய முதலைந் தெழுத்துத் தெளிவாய்ப்
பொருந்தவே வந்தென் உளந்தனில் புகுந்து

Thaayai Enakkum Thaanezhndhu Aruli
Maayaa Piravi Mayakkam Aruthae
Thirundhiya Mudhal Aindheluthu Thelivaai
Porundhavae Vandhenn Ulandhanil Pugundhu


Appearing as a Mother to shower his grace on me
He cleaved the trance of illusionary birth
To explain The pristine and divine five letters (Na Ma Si Va Ya) for my mind to understand
He entered into my heart then

குருவடி வாகிக் குவலயந் தன்னில்
திருவடி வைத்துத் திறமிது பொருளென
வாடா வகைதன் மகிழ்ந்தெனக் கருளிக்
கோடா யுதத்தால் கொடுவினை களைந்தே

Guruvadivaagi Kuvalayam Thanil
Thiruvadi Vaiththu Thiramidhu Porulena
Vaadaa Vagaithan Magizhndhu Enakkaruli
Kodaayudhaththaal Koduvinai Kalaindhae

Taking the form of a Guru (Teacher) in this world
Placing his divine feet and establishing life’s meaning
Joyously bestowing the evergreen grace on me
Expunging the bad karma with His tusks

உவட்டா உபதேசம் புகட்டியென் செவியில்
தெவிட்டாத ஞானத் தெளிவையும் காட்டி
ஐம்புலன் தன்னை அடக்கும் உபாயம்
இன்புறு கருணை இனிதெனக் கருளிக்

Uvatta Ubadesam Pugatti Enn Seviyil
Thevittadha Gnana Thelivaiyum Kaati
Aimbulan Thannai Adakkum Ubaayam
Inburu Karunai Inidhenakkaruli


He feeds his teachings into my ears which never makes me filled
Showing the sweetest clarity of wisdom
The mastery to control the five senses
Bestowed to me by His joyest grace

கருவிக ளொடுக்கும் கருத்தினை யறிவித்து
இருவினை தன்னை அறுத்திருள் கடிந்து
தலமொரு நான்கும் தந்தெனக் கருளி
மலமொரு மூன்றின் மயக்கம் அறுத்தே

Karuvigal Odukkum Karuththinai Ariviththu
Iruvinai Thannai Aruththirul Kadinthu
Thalamoru Naangum Thandhenakku Aruli
Malamoru Moondrin Mayakkam Aruththae

He imparted me the knowledge of subduing the senses
Eliminating the darkness of birth and death
Blessing me with the four stages of salvation
Abscising the spell of three impurities (Pride, Sin, Ignorance)

ஒன்பது வாயில் ஒருமந் திரத்தால்
ஐம்புலக் கதவை அடைப்பதும் காட்டி
ஆறா தாரத்து அங்குச நிலையும்
பேறா நிறுத்திப் பேச்சுரை யறுத்தே

Onbadhu Vaayil Oru Mandhiraththaal
Aimbula Kadhavai Adaipadhum Kaati
Aarathaarathu Angusa Nilayum
Peraa Niruththi Paechurai Aruththae


He showed one mantra for all  the nine doorways to this body
That could shut the Five sense gates that act on these doorways
Knowledge about the six chakras, became a prodding goad
By His definitive speech, that stood in mind forever

இடைபிங் கலையின் எழுத்தறி வித்துக்
கடையிற் சுழுமுனை கபாலமும் காட்டி
மூன்றுமண் டலத்தின் முட்டிய தூணின்
நான்றெழு பாம்பின் நாவில் உணர்த்திக்

Idai Pingalayin Ezhuthariviththu
Kadaiyil Sulumunai Kabaalamum Kaati
Moondru Mandalaththin Muttiya Thoonin
Naandrezhu Paambin Naavil Unarththi


Showing details of the Idai and Pingalai Naadis that control the flow of breath
The end of which is the Suzhumunai Naadi at the head.
He made me realize about the pillar that stands connected to the three realms
And the Snake (Kundalini) that rises above

குண்டலி யதனிற் கூடிய அசபை
விண்டெழு மந்திரம் வெளிப்பட உரைத்து
மூலா தாரத்தின்  முண்டெழு கனலைக்
காலால் எழுப்புங் கருத்தறி வித்தே

Kundali Adhanil Koodiya Asabai
Vindezhu Mandhiram Velippada Uraithu
Mooladhaarathin Mundezhu Kanalai
Kaalaal Ezhuppum Karuthu Ariviththae

The rhythm of breathing that accompanies the Kundalini
Rised above by the Mantra imparted to me by Him
The flame that ascends from the base chakra (Mooladharam)
He imparted the knowledge to elevate it from the base

அமுத நிலையும் ஆதித்தன் இயக்கமும்
குமுத சகாயன் குணத்தையுங் கூறி
இடைச் சக்கரத்தின் ஈரெட்டு நிலையும்
உடற் சக்கரத்தின் உறுப்பையும் காட்டி

Amudha Nilayum Aadhithan Iyakkamum
Kumudha Sagaayan Gunaththayum Koori
Idai Chakkarathin Eerettu Nilayum
Udal Chakkarathin Uruppayum Kaati

The state of enlightenment and the functioning of the Sun
The nature of lily-lover - The Moon, all explained to me by His grace
He revealed the sixteen facets of the Vishuddhi Chakra
And the components of the Chakras in the body

சண்முக தூலமுஞ் சதுர்முகச் சூக்கமும்
எண்முக மாய் இனிதெனக் கருளி
புரியட்ட காயம் புலப்பட எனக்குத்
தெரியெட்டு நிலையும் தெரிசன படுத்தி

Shanmuga Thoolamum Sadhurmuga Sookamum
Ennmugamaai Inidhenakku Aruli
Puriyatta Kaayam Pulappada Enakku
Theriyettu Nilayum Therisana Paduththi

The tangible broadness/extent of Lord Shanmuga, the minute-ness in Lord Brahma’s creations
He explained with a smile His face.
He enabled me to perceive the subtleness of this body
Revealing the Eight Siddhis that could be accomplished

கருத்தினிற் கபால வாயினிற் காட்டி
இருத்தி முத்தி இனிதெனக் கருளி
என்னை யறிவித்து எனக்கருள் செய்து
முன்னை வினையின் முதலை களைந்து

Karuththinil Kabaala Vaayinil Kaati
Iruththi Muththi Inidhenakku Aruli
Ennai Ariviththu Enakkarul Seidhu
Munnai Vinaiyin Mudhalai Kalaindhu

After revealing it to my mind and vision - the gateway to the mind
He bestowed enlightenment sweetly as ever
He made me know myself and showered his grace on me
Clearing off the sins/karma of my previous births

வாக்கும் மனமு மில்லா மனோலயம்
தேக்கி யென்றன் சிந்தை தெளிவித்து
இருள்வெளி இரண்டிற்கு ஒன்றிட மென்ன
அருள்தரும் ஆனந்தத் தழுந்தியென்  செவியில்

Vaakkum Manamum Illa Manolayam
Thaekki Endhan Sindhal Thelivithu
Irulveli Irandirrkku Ondridam Enna
Arultharum Aanandhaththu Azhundhi Enn Seviyil

Aligning the mind in Him seamlessly without words or thoughts in it
Clarifying my intellect with that alignment
Explaining Void and Space emanate from the same source
That showers the grace and joy in my ears to listen

எல்லை யில்லா ஆனந்த மளித்து
அல்லல் களைந்தே அருள்வழி  காட்டி
சத்தத்தி னுள்ளே சதாசிவம் காட்டி
சித்தத்தி னுள்ளே சிவலிங்கம் காட்டி

Ellai Illa Aanandham Aliththu
Allal Kalaindhae Arul Vazhi Kaati
Saththaninullae Sadhasivam Kaati
Siththaninullae Siva Lingam Kaati

Granting me the limitless joy
Removing the troubles and showing the path of grace
Showing the Shapeless Supreme Sadashivam in the sound (OM)
Revealing the Shiva-lingam in my mind

அணுவிற் கணுவாய் அப்பாலுக் கப்பாலாய்
கனுமுற்றி நின்ற கரும்புள்ளே காட்டி
வேடமும் நீறும் விளங்க நிறுத்தி
கூடுமெய்த் தொண்டர் குழாத்துடன் கூட்டி

Anuvirkku Anuvaai Appaalukku Appaalaai
Kanumuttri Nindra Karumbullae Kaati
Vedamum Neerum Vilanga Niruththi
Koodumei Thondar Kuzhaathudan Kooti

Existing as an atom for an atom (so small) and distance beyond the distant (Universe)
Revealing as the sugarcane that is ripe with the strong seams
Enabling the desire for devotion and clarifying about the sacred ash
Merging me with the group of ardent devotees that gather to worship

அஞ்சக் கரத்தின் அரும்பொருள் தன்னை
நெஞ்சக்  கருத்தின் நிலையறி வித்து
தத்துவ நிலையை தந்தெனை யாண்ட
வித்தக விநாயக விரைகழல் சரணே

Anja Karaththin Arumporul Thannai
Nenja Karuththin Nilayarivithu
Thathuva Nilaiyai Thandhenai Aanda
Viththaga Vinayaga Virai Kalal Saranae

Revealing the sacred meaning of the Five Letters (Namashivaya)
Instilling that knowledge in my heart and mind
He ruled me imparting the philosophical state of mind
The wise Lord Vinayaga, at his feet I take refuge with my hands together

The beauty of Vinayagar Agaval is that it makes anyone engrossed and makes them read again and again and enjoy the bliss. The bliss is not just the praises of Lord Vinayaga, but the amount of wisdom that it contains. The flow and rhythm enthrals everyone.

People believe that regular recitation of the Vinayagar Agaval improves their speech. Some people have trouble with intonations and pronunciation. The regular recital makes the tongue to twist and turn improving the way people speak.
The richness and eloquence in the usage of words proves Avvaiyar’s mettle and of course the grace she would have got from Lord Vinayaga. The grace from the Universally liked God, is what would have exalted Avvaiyar to an ever-remembered and revered female icon in Tamil Literature.

More to come, until then...