Monday, December 24, 2007

Divinely unique - Aandaal

This being the month of Maargazhi, a post about the unique Azhwar known to the world would be nice. The Azhwar is none other than Aandaal. She is unique in various respects
  • Of the twelve Azhwars, she is the only female Azhwar
  • She had an unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu and married him at Srirangam
  • She started the ritual called the Paavai Nonbu, that is followed to this day. This ritual is followed by girls so that they get a husband of a good character
  • She is considered to be the incarnate of Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu
  • The temple for her at Srivilliputur stands as a official symbol in the seal of Government of the Tamil Nadu, as a symbol of the Art and Architecture of the Tamil Civilisation

Let us see the life history of Aandaal. She is believed to the incarnate of Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu. Legend says that Goddess Lakshmi wanted to praise Lord Vishnu, by being the daughter of the famous Azhwar, Vishnu Sitthar famously known as Periazhwar. So she was born and was found as a baby under the Thulasi plant in the temple garden by Periazhwar. From then on Periazhwar considered her to be a gift that Lord Vishnu gave him and doted her a his own daughter. He taught her the all the philosophies and stories he knew about Lord Krishna and also taught her to attain poetic eloquence in the Tamil language. He named her Kodhai meaning Garland.

Kodhai grew up as a kid just thinking about Lord Krishna and she would consider herself as playing Lord Krishna when her father was away to perform the temple rituals. Everyday Periazhwar gathers flowers from the garden and makes a garland out of it to be presented to Lord Ranganathar. One day after making the garland he would go away to his garden to maintain it and then return back to get the garland to the temple. So when he was away, Kodhai would wear the garland to see if it suited her, only if it did, it should be offered to the Lord. One day, Periazhwar saw Kodhai doing this and got very angry as it is considered a sacrilege in Hinduism that anything that has been used by the humans should not be offered to the Lord. He shouted at her telling her to get out of his sight, but Kodhai told that she was unaware and she thought she was playing with Lord Krishna. But later Periazhwar composed himself and told her not to repeat it and that he will get a fresh garland made for the Lord. And when he offered it to the Lord, the garland fell out as if showing the Lord unacceptance of the offer. The Kodhai brought the garland that she wore and told that Lord Krishna will like children and that she was playing with Lord Krishna, so he should accept the garland. Periazhwar offered it to the Lord in the temple and to his surprise the place was illuminated showing the acceptance. Only then he realised how blessed Kodhai was and adorned her with the name "Soodi Kodutha Sudar Kodi" meaning "The bright star like lady who gave the Lord the garland after wearing them". And as she ruled the Lord with her devotion she was adorned the name "Aandaal" meaning, the one who rules.

From then on she had an unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu and she when she reached the marriage age, she was stubborn that she will marry only Lord Ranganathar at Srirangam, which made Periazhwar baffle as to how it was humanly possible. Later Periazhwar felt the vision of the Lord at Srirangam to bring his daughter in full bridal adornment to Srirangam. When they went to Srirangam, Aandaal merged with Lord Ranganather completely at that point.

Aandaal is held in high respect and exalted to the level of Azhwar because of her unwavering and sincere devotion to Lord Vishnu. Her exemplary works, Thiruppavai and Naachiyaar Thirumozhi stand as a proof to her devotion. Not only she showed her sincere devotion, she also made the other girls of the country to follow that and started off a ritual called the Paavai Nonbu which she elaborates her work Thiruppavai. The songs in both Thiruppavai and Naachiyaar Thirumozhi express the grandeur and eloquence. This Paavai Nonbu, is being followed during the month of Maargazhi even today, and the songs from Thiruppavai and sung daily. It is correlation to what Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita, that in all the months he is the month of Maargazhi. It is so auspicious that in all the Vaishnavite temples it is celebrated widely to get the blessing of the Lord.

Now lets look at the very first song, that expresses the strong devotion and grandeur of Aandaal's expression. The song goes like this




"Maargazhi Thingal Madhi Niraindha Nannaalal
Neeraada Podhuveer Podhumeeno Naerilazhaiyeer
Seer Malgum Aayippaadi Selva Sirumeergaal
Koorvael Kondunthozhilan Nandhagopan Kumaran
Yaeraarndha Kanni Yasodhai Ilam Singam
Kaarmaeni Sengann Kadhir Madhiyam Pol Mugathaan
Narayananae Nammakku Parai Tharuvaan
Paaror Pugazha Padindhaelor Empaavaai"

meaning, Oh! the wealthily adorned girls of Aaryarpadi, on the auspicious full moon lit month of Maargazhi, let us go and bathe and perform the paavai nonbu, because the Lord son of the Nandhagopan, who gives guards the country by given pain to his enemies with is long spear. The young lion of the beautiful eyed Yasodha, who has the body coloured like the dark rainy clouds, bright eyes and the bright and beautiful face like the full moon, who is none other that Lord Narayanan would bless us. So let us do the penance praised by the world - The Paavai Nonbu - by immersing ourselves in the water first.

We can see the literary eloquence and her power of faith to move the people to perform a ritual to get the blessings of the Lord is an exemplary feat.

The verses following from Naachiyaar Thirumozhi express the grandness in her thought and imagination. In the following songs she narrates to her friend about the dream that she had in the previous nights. She dreams about marriage ceremony between Her and Lord Narayanan. The grandeur and greatness of thought can be seen throughout the verses




"Vaaranamaayiram Soola Valam Seidhu
Naarana Nambi Nadakindraan Endru Edhir
Poorana Porr Kudam Vaithu Puram Engum
Thoranam Naata Kanaa Kandaen Thozhi Naan"

The situation of the this song is during the Maapillai Azhaippu ritual, where the groom (here the Lord himself) is invited and walked till the marriage hall. The meaning of the song, With a thousand elephants surrounded, Lord Narayanan walks majestically to the marriage hall. Because the Lord arrives and in order to receive him, the pot full and complete with gold is kept in front and in the places surrounding decorations with festoons and banners are done. This was the dream that she dreamt of.

Each of these verses are adorned with grandeur and in other verses she narrates the people who attended the dream wedding. The people are all the Gods, including the head of the Devars - Indran and many others who make the marriage ceremony a grand one. The narration of dream itself is greatly eloquent and shows the undiverted devotion She had to Lord Narayana.

The Srivilliputhur Aandaal temple adds the name Aandaal to its crown showing the divinity of Aandaal. Being so divine and Godly has made Aandaal a unique Azhwar and her works and the Paavai Nonbu will be remembered forever.

More to come until then...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Revered Ravana

Ravana is known to most of us as a demon king, and is portrayed as a person with moral turpitude etc, because he abducted Seetha and slayed many without mercy. But the fact is that Ravana is a great and a scholarly person admired by many. He mastered all the 64 forms of art and is a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was a great singer and his eloquence and the knowledge can be realised through the song that he composed, which is being sung as the Shiva Thandava Sthothram even today. The song is so majestic and is in praise of
Lord Shiva.


The legend about this song goes like this. Ravana ruled Sri Lanka and wanted to worship Lord Shiva at Kailash, but when he went to Kailash and prayed Lord Shiva to appear before him, Lord Shiva did not. So Ravana got frustrated and wanted to show his strength, so he lifted Himalayas with all his twenty hands. The entire place shook like anything and Goddess Parvathi feared, when the place shook like earthquake striking. Lord Shiva then pressed the mountain with his feet and Ravana got crushed under the weight of the Himalayas and could not bear the weight of it and prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva bestowed him, and then Ravana sang this song which was called the Shiva Thandava Sthothram. Hear to this and we can see the eloquence and the majestic composition, though in Sanskrit, it has the good rhythm, alliteration and resounding beauty. The pdf version can be found here.

Please wait until the song loads...





Download Shiva Thandava Sthothram

He is a man who patronised art and respected people with artistic skills. There is also a legend where he called Agathiar for a music competition, it was a very tough competition. The task was to make a mountain made of gold to melt just by singing. Agathiar won the competitionas the mountain melted for Agathiar's music and song. Ravana accepted his defeat and gave a word to Agathiar that he will not disturb him and the people living near Agathiar's place. Thus he respected a learned person like Agathiar.

He was a brave warrior and also is enduring is doing great penance that he was gifted with various powers. He is said that have had the scars of an elephant's tusk, Vishnu's Chakram and many others after fighting with them. He also had all the nine planet's, Indran and all the devars under his feet. His braveness, his enduring penance and nobility have earned him a crowned name that only one person has this crown. He has the name Eashwaran adorned to his name and called as Elangeshwaran. The other person is the planet Saturn (Saneeshwaran). No other person, who is not a manifestation of Lord Shiva bears the name Eashwaran to his name. Such a fame could not be achieved easily, Saneeshwaran got his name, because he put everybody to test for a period of 7.5 years without mercy or bias. He does not even leave out even if they are Gods. Likewise, Ravana also has the endurance in achieving a power by severe penance.

There is another legend that says Ravana was a Dhvarapalaga (Gate keeper) of Lord Vishnu's heaven, the Thirupar Kadal (The Ocean of Milk). Once upon a time, he and his friend another Dhvarapalaga were guarding the gates. Then one Rishi came to worship Lord Vishnu, but they both denied the entry, because it was the resting time for Lord Vishnu. But the angry Rishi, cursed them that they both be born in earth and suffer. They both worried and asked for mercy, the Rishi told that Lord Vishnu will tell the way for their salvation. When both the Dhvarapalagas fell at the feet of Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu gave them an option. Either they can choose to life seven lives as a good devotee and then attain salvation or live 3 lives as an opposer and enemy of Lord Vishnu and attain salvation. Ravana chose to oppose and attain salvation and reach Lord Vishnu in 3 lives, because he felt that he could not be away from Lord Vishnu for seven lives. So he became a demon and he was born as Eranyan, Mahabali and then Ravanan, later attained the Dhvarapalaga status again.

Ravana also followed, even in his deathbed, the discipline that a student has to give to his teacher. When Ravana was defeated by Lord Rama, he was in his deathbed and breath the last few moments of his life. Then Lord Rama, the incarnate of Lord Vishnu, knew about his knowledge and wisdom and told his brother Lakshmana, not to think bad or low about Ravana, because he is not only a demon king, but also a great scholar and a discipline man, and to see it for Lakshman to see it for himself asked him to go to Ravana and know about the procedure to wage a war. Lakshmana still not convinced that Ravana was a great scholar and a disciplined man, went and stood near Ravana's head and told that he came to Ravana just because his brother Lord Rama, told him ask Ravana about the procedure to wage a war. Ravana, with a smile asked Lakshmana whether he learnt any discipline in his gurukulam. Lakshmana was shocked to hear that. Ravana continued saying that Lakshmana is asking him the procedure to wage a war and that he is in the position of a student and Ravana himself is in the position of a teacher. So, it is not a disciplined behaviour to stand near the teacher's head and ask questions and ordered Lakshmana to come near his feet and ask his question. Lakshmana felt ashamed, went near his feet and heard to the last minute lectures of Ravana and realised what Lord Rama told him. And then Ravana got a deep reverence in the hearts of Lakshmana.

The sculpture of Ravana lifting Mount Kailash and Lord Shiva as Kailasanathar on top pressing the mountain with his feet is found in the 1,500 year temple Keezhapazhayaarai near Kumbakonam. It is believed that on worshipping this Kailasanathar, people get their debts cleared and acquire wealth and prosperous life. It is also said that famous Emperor King Rajaraja Cholan worshipped this Kailasanathar daily when Keezhapazhayarai was the capital city during the Chola reign. Photos of Keezhapazhayarai can be found in a previous post - Great temples in desolate ruins

Ravana, though he is portrayed as villain, is respected and honoured for his scholarly knowledge. Those qualities of wisdom would heralded for ages to come and his name and fame will exist for all time till Lord Rama's name exists. Let us respect him for his knowledge, wisdom and discipline which even the God's speak of respectfully.

More to come, until then...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Esoteric Edaikaadar - Part 2

We have already seen about Edaikaadar and his predictions in the previous post Esoteric Edaikaar. Edaikaadar is also believed to be a disciple of another Siddhar called Bogar. Bogar is the one who installed the Navapaashana Statue at Palani Hills. Bogar is said to be of Chinese origin and travelled extensively all the way to Tamil Nadu; prepared and installed the Navapaashana Statue. More about Bogar in a later post, but Edaikaadar being the disciple of Bogar is illustrated in his songs as he mentions about China in his predictions. So, it seems that he would also have visited China with Bogar.

Let us see the predictions he mentioned about last year (Viya), this year (Sarvasithu) and the next five years (Saravadhaari, Virodhi, Vikrudhi, Kara, Nandhana). The songs go like this

Viya



"Viyavarudam Maari Vilaivundaam Cheenam
Suya Vaazvudanae Sugamaam Uyarvaam
Pathinettu Viththum Pathivaai Palikkum
Sathir Peru Nallakkam Migumthaan"

meaning in the Viya year there will very good rainfall and all the 18 major crops will grow well. China will grow to be self-sufficient. And good deeds and yaagams will rise on this planet.

Viya Varudam - Viya Year
Maari - Rains
Vilaivu - Growth of Crops
Cheenam - China
Suya Vaazhvu - Self Sufficiency
Sugam - Comfort, Happiness
Uyarvu - Promotion and good fortune
Pathinettu - Eighteen
Viththum - Crops
Pathivaai - Register (usually an event), Surely
Palikkum - Happen for sure
Sathir - Boundaries
Perum - Receive
Nall - Good
Yakkam - Yaagams
Migum - Rise

I guess China is establishing itself in a global level and there was indeed a good rainfall too last year. The next song relates to this year (April 2007 - March 2008)

Sarvasithu



"Sarvasithu Thannil Avathil Palavum
Ore Pathinettu Vithuthum Ongum Perumaiyudan
Mikka Vilaivindaam Menmaelum Maariyundaam
Thakka Sugam Perugum Thaan"

meaning, during Sarvasithu all the 18 crops will have good yield. Rains will pour continuously in quantities more than required. All happiness and comfort will last throughout the year.

Sarvasithu Thannil - During Sarvasithu
Avathil - Planet, world
Ore Pathinettu - one 18
Viththu - Crops
Ongum - Gain, have good growth
Perumai - Pride
Mikka - Excess
Vilaivu - Growth of crops
Menmael - Over and Over again
Maari - Rains
Undaam - Affirmative
Thakka - Appropriate
Sugam - Comfort
Perugum - Rising

Of course, we can see, that main places being lashed by rains, but the overall picture makes us to wait for another five more months. For the rest we have to wait to see if it really works


Saravadhaari



"Narr Sarvadhaarin Nalla Mazhai Undaam
Arppa Vithaanadhellam Aagadhu Sorrperiya
Aindhu Vagai Vilaivum Aagum Sugamudanae
Maindhar Ellam Vaazhndhiruppar Matru"

meaning, during Sarvadhaari rains will be good, but only the 5 major crops will have a good yield, the rest would not. And people will live a comfortable life.

Narr - Good
Sarvadhaarin - year Sarvathaari
Nalla - Good
Mazhai - Rains
Undaam - Affirmative
Arppa - Mean
Vithu - Crops
Aagadhu - Negation, Will not happen
Sorrperiya - Things worth mentioning
Aindhu - Five
Vagai - Variety
Vilaivum - Harvest
Aagum - Happen
Sugam - Comfort
Maindhar - People, Children
Ellam - All
Vaazhndhu - Live
Iruppar - Exist
Matru - the rest of it

Virodhi



"Needu Virodhi Nilathin Mazhai Migudhi
Medu Kaadellam Vilaivundaam Needum
Arasar Peraalae Azhiyum Ulagam
Thiramigu Noi Saerumena Seppu"

meaning, during virodhi rains will pour everywhere, and hence there will be good growth of crops everywhere, be it plains or hills. Rulers and Kings (can be interpreted as countries) will fight with each other and cause devestation and destruction. Contagious and diseases will be on the rise.

Needu - Long
Virodhi - year Virodhi
Nilathin - On this land
Mazhai - Rain
Migudhi - Excess
Medu - Mounds
Kaadu - Forest, Plains
Ellam - All
Vilaivu - Harvest
Undaam - Affirmative
Arasar Peraalae - Because of Kings
Azhiyum - get destroyed
Ulagam - World
Thiramigu - More potent and powerful
Noi - Disease
Saerum - Will reach
Seppu - Tell

Vikrudhi



"Vaiyam Thanil Vikrudhi Maari Vilaivadhigam
Seiyya Valangal Sirakkumae Aiyya Kael
Maadu Kazhudhai Vayapari Noi Mikku
Saada Meliyumae Thaan"

meaning, during Vikrudhi, rains and crop harvest will be good. All the resources will be abundant, but cows and donkeys (to be interpreted as cattle) will catch disease and die in large numbers

Vaiyam Thanil - In the earth (Vaiyam - Earth)
Vikrudhi - The year Vikrudhi
Maari - Rain
Vilaivadhigam - Vilaivu (harvest) + Adhigam (Excess)
Seiyya - Beauty, usually used as an adjective
Valangal - Resources
Sirakkumae - Get better
AiyyaKael - Hear with caution
Maadu - Cow
Kazhudhai - Donkey
Vayapari - Contagion
Noi - Disease
Mikku - Too much
Meliyumae - Get weak, die

Kara



"Kara Varudam Maari Peiyum Kaasiniyum Uyiyum
Uramigundha Vella Engum Odum Nirai Migundhu
Naalukaal Seevan Azhiyum Noiyaal Madiyum
Paal Neiyumae Surungum Paar"

meaning, during Kara year, rains will be good and the people in the world will attain bliss and salvation, but floods will inundate everywhere and four legged cattle will die in large numbers because of diseases. And hence, milk and ghee will go scarce.

Kara - The year Kara
Varudam - Year
Maari - Rain
Peiyum - downpour of rain
Kaasiniyum - Earth
Uyiyum - Salvation
Uramigundha - Forceful
Vella - Flood
Engum - Everywhere
Odum - Flow
Nirai - word used refer cattle
Migundhu - in excess
Naalukaal - Four legged
Seevan - Beings
Azhiyum - Destroy
Noiyaal - Disease
Madiyum - Die, Perish
Paal - Milk
Neiyumae - Ghee
Surungum - Shrink

Nandhana



"Nandhanathin Maariyarum Naadengum Panjam Migum
Nandhumuyir Noyaal Naliyumae Andharathin
Meenu Thirundhu Thooman Ezhum Mikka Keduthi Undaam
Kone Madivan Endrae Nee Kooru"

meaning, during Nandhana year, rains will fail and famine will strike throughout the world. Beings will die as a result of diseases. Comet will appear indicating a bad omen. Kings and Rulers will die in this year.

Nandhanathin - In the year Nandhana
Maariyarum - Maari (Rain) + Arum (Fail)
Naadengum - All over the country
Panjam - Famine
Migum - Excess
Nandhumuyir - refers to cattle being grown
Noyaal - Disease
Naliyumae - Become weak, or perish
Andharathin - Space
Meen Irundhu - Stars
Thooman - Comet, indicating bad omen
Ezhum - Rise
Mikka - In Excess
Keduthi - Bad Things, Mishaps
Undaam - Affirmative
Kone - Kings, Rulers
Madivan - Die
Kooru - Tell

It is not about the belief that it works or not, but the thing that makes us wonder is Edaikaadar's ability was able to predict the happenings in a generic fashion even with no technological advancements. By probing more into those ancient texts, we would be able to realise and reveal it to the world, what our ancestors have left for us.

More to come, until then...


Here are the links to the other parts of this post


Part 1
Part 3

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Adorable Lord Rama

Lord Rama, the seventh of the Dasavatharam (Ten Incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, is the most worshipped God in the country, with more epics written in his name of which the Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit and Kamba Ramayana in Tamil being the two most prominent ones. Those great epics were not just because Lord Rama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, but also for the qualities and the character Lord Rama possessed. A loving son to his parents, a kind brother to his younger brothers, a loyal husband to his wife, a generous and great king to the subjects of his kingdom, a merciful but brave warrior to his enemy - Ravana, A true friend to his friends, A wise guide to his disciples (Hanuman) and so on. The qualities that Lord Rama embraces are the most liked qualities of everybody. A man with these qualities having epics written in his name is no wonder to us. And also the man possessing these divine qualities can be considered God. People have realised this and have sung many songs, of which the ones that inspired me a lot are from Kambar and Sivavaakiyar. Yes, Sivavaakiyar he wrote Sivavaakiyam and then became a Vaishnavite and his name was called Thirumazhisai Azhwar, which is when he sang the song about Lord Vishnu and his avatars.

The following two songs are by the Kavi Chakravarthi Kambar



"Naadiya Porul Kaikoodum Gnanamum Pugazhum Undaam
Veediyal Vazhiyadhagum Veriyankamalai Nokkum
Neediya Arakkar Saenai Neeru Pattazhiya Vaagai
Soodiya Silayiraaman Tholvali Kooruvaarukkae"

meaning, The people who chant and praise the valiant Lord Rama's adorned with the Vaagai flower garland after defeating and decimating the great army of demons, will attain the things that they went in search of; They will attain all the knowledge and fame; Their home and family will be in good welfare; Goddess Lakshmi will bestow her blessing and good wealth.

Naadiya - Search, Reach
Porul - Things
Kaikoodum - Materialise, be fruitful
Gnanam - Knowledge
Pugazh - fame
Undu - Exist, happen
Veediyal - Veedu (Home, Family) + Iyal (Discipline, Order, Welfare)
Vazhi - Path
Kamalai - Goddess Lakshmi
Nokkum - Bestow, See
Neediya Arakkar - Large Demons
Saenai - Army
Neeru - Ash
Pattazhiya - Decimated
Vaagai - The garland that the warriors used to adorn when the win in a battle
Soodiya - Adorn
Silayiraaman - Lord Rama
Tholvali - Strong shoulders; The valiance is always measured my the breadth and the strength of one's shoulders
Kooruvaar - People chanting, uttering




"Ramanaai Vandhu Thondri Raavanan Thannai Veeti
Tharathalam Muzhuthum Kaathu Thambiyum Thaanumaagap
Paraaparamaagi Nindra Panbinai Pagaruvaargal
Narapathiyakip Pinnum Namanaiyum Velluvaarae"

meaning, He incarnated as Lord Rama and defeated Ravana. Saved the entire planet from Ravana. Then He and His brother Lakshmana stood as Divine Omnipresent Beings. And those who chant these qualities of Lord Rama, will become Kings and will even win Yama, the life taker.

Ramanaai - As Lord Rama
Vandhu - Coming, Incarnating
Thondri - Come into existence, being born
Raavanan - Ravana
Thannai - Pronoun refering Ravana
Veeti - Defeating
Tharathalam - The earth
Muzhuthum - fully
Kaathu - Save
Thambi - Brother
Thaanum - pronoun referring Lord Rama
Paraaparam - Divine Omnipresent Being
Nindra - Exist, stood
Panbu - Characteristics
Pagaruvaargal - People who chant (Pagar) the name of Lord Rama
Narapathi - King/Leaders of humans
Pinnum - Later
Naman - Yama
Velluvaar - Win over someone

There is legend that Lakshmana is considered to the incarnation of Lord Vishnu's 5 headed snake mount called Adhi Sheshan. Adhi Sheshan wished to be near Lord Vishnu in his Rama avatar so he was born as Lord Rama's brother Lakshmana

This song is by Sivavaakiyar



"Andhikaalam Uchchi Moodrum Aadukindra Theerthamum
Sandhi Tharpanangalum Thapangalum Sebangalum
Sindhai Mevum Gnanamum Thinam Sebikkum Mandhiram
Yendhai Rama Rama Rama Vennum Naamamae"

meaning, The three time periods during the day (The dawn, the dusk, the noon); The bathing sacred waters; The offerings to the ancestors offered during dawn and dusk; The divine chantings; The knowledge the resides in the mind, all of these chant the only mantra, the name of my dear Father like God, Rama Rama Rama.

Andhi - period of time referring to either dawn or dusk, usually dusk
Uchchi - Noon
Moondru - Three, in this context the three time periods
Aadukindra Theertham - The sacred water like rivers where people bathe
Sandhi Tharpanangal - Offerings to ancestors and Gods during the dawn and dusk
Sebangal - Chantings
Sindhai - Mind
Mevum - Occur, Reside
Gnanam - Knowledge
Thinam - Daily
Sebikkum - Chanting
Mandhiram - Mantra
Yendhai - My Father
Rama Rama Rama - Chanting in praise of Lord Rama
Naamam - Name

The next song is about the greatness of the two letter tamil word Rama (Ra, Ma)



"Nanmayum Selvamum Naalum Nallkumay
Thinmayum Paavamum Sidhaindhu Thaeyumae
Jenmamum Maranamum Indri Theerumaey
Inmayey Rama Endra Irandu Ezhuthinaal"

meaning, All the goodness and wealth will come to us; The pains and the sins will get defaced and erased; The tribulation of birth and death will get over; All just by uttering the two lettered word (in Tamil) Rama in this birth

These songs come out of a realised mind. In fact, some people have the practice of praying to Lord Rama and Lakshmana, when they go on a long travel. There is a belief when people pray and utter the names of Rama and Lakshmana when they go on a travel, they will return back safely without trouble. And that is backed by a legend in Ramayana, where Sage Vishwamitra uttered the name Rama and Lakshmana and took them to the forest to kill Thadagai, the female demon, and returned safely to the country.

Nowadays, many argue the existence of Lord Rama in the Treta Yuga, but it is an undeniable fact that the qualities described about Lord Rama, stand as a proof and as a guide and principle on how a man should lead his life peacefully. If not all, at least a few of those qualities will really make mankind to live peacefully and happily. And uttering Lord Rama's name has brought fame to many people who were unknown to the world before they chanted this Divine name. Valmiki for example was a thief and he uttered the name Ram in reverse MRa, the first time he tried to utter, but he was hailed for his great epic the Ramayana. And so is Kambar hailed has the Kavi Chakravarthi, just because of his work the Kamba Ramayanam. The devotion to this incarnation is a real great thing to be revered and chanted for time to come. And because Hanuman enjoys himself in hearing and being the disciple of Lord Rama, He is a Chiranjeevi (immortal). Let us get all the good things in our life by chanting the divine name "Rama"

More to come, until then...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Truthful Thirumangai Azhwar!!!

Being the Tamil month of Purattaasi, an auspicious month consecrated to Lord Vishnu, I thought it would be great if there is a post about the great Thirumangai Azhwar. There are other Azhwars who are equally worshipped as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu except Aandal who is worshipped as the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, but Thirumangai Azhwar inspires me a lot. His endurance in his devotion to Lord Vishnu has exalted him to the position of an Azhwar. He has travelled extensively to all the 108 Dhivya Desams, of which 106 are in this Earth and the remaining two are in the Heavenly Abode. He is said to have lived for 105 years and then attained salvation at the Lotus feet of Lord Vishnu at a place called Thirukurungudi. He has sung a majority of the songs in "The Naalayira Dhivya Prabandham", a collection of 4000 hymns, sung in praise of Lord Vishnu. His works in the Naalayira Dhivya Prabandham are Periya Thirumozhi, Thiru Kurunthaandagam, Thiru Nedunthaandagam, Thiruvelukootrarikkai, Siriya Thirumadal and the Periya Thirumadal which count to over 1200 hymns in all. He was a crude person before he became an Azhwar, same as what Valmiki was before writing the Ramayana.

His original name is Kaliyan, born to the Army Chief Command Neelan (as Abithana Chintamani state), he was cheftain of the Chola Empire and later crowned as King by the Chola Emperor for a small kingdom called Thirumangai as a token of the friendship and the gratitude for winning the war on the enemy, and hence the name Thirumangai Mannan - subsequently Thirumangai Azhwar. He explains in his songs that he slayed innocent lives, has not even uttered kind words to the poor and needy, plundered the wealth of people and had a affinity towards women. But later when he was crowned as a King he was attracted to a great lady called Kumudhavalli, who was the main reason for Kaliyan to divert his attention to the devotion to Lord Vishnu. He wanted her in marriage, but Kumudhavalli accepted his proposal conditionally stating that she would marry only a person who feeds 1000 devotees of Lord Vishnu daily and the one who helps the construction of the Vishnu temple at Srirangam. Kaliyan agreed and Kumdhavalli married him. He ardently carried on with the tasks. And later, troubles started to crop up, his reserves started to dwindle and there was pressure from the Chola Emperor, on the dues of taxes to be paid to the Chola Empire, but Thirumangai King was very serious in completing the work of the temple he started and feed the devotees of Vishnu. And later he was imprisoned for not respecting the orders of the Chola Emperor. Later while in the prison he heard the instructions from the voice of Lord Vishnu (Lord Kariperumal) asking him to come to Kanchipuram to pay off the dues to the Emperor. He informed the Emperor about it and Lord Vishnu directed Kaliyan to the place where there was treasure and he paid the dues, but he was dethroned out of his kingdom and he wandered lonely in the forests, where he got into the company of thieves. But even at that time his intention and endurance was to complete the temple of Lord Vishnu. Before he got into the company of thieves, he begged the wealthy people in his kingdom telling the reason that he needed money to complete the temple and their help is very much needed, but in vain. Then he started the booty and started plundering from the wealthy men. His looting continued and he got a lot of wealth enough to complete the temple work.

One fine day, he planned looting a marriage party, he intimidated the people of the marriage party to put all the jewels and valuables in one place and it happened. But when he tried to lift the ransom, he could not. This suprised him as he has lifted more that what he had plundered now, but he was still struggling to move the bundle, but it didn't budge. Then, Lord Vishu and Goddess Mahalakshmi reveal themselves from the incarnation they took as a groom and the bride respectively and then he realised and fell at Lord Vishnu feet and pleaded mercy and apologies. Lord Vishnu blessed him and told that the hardships he went under were to test his endurance in his commitment and thereafter Kaliyan be called "Thirumangai Azhwar" thereby exalting him to an Azhwar. Later he got back his kingdom and wealth, and started to continue with the good deeds and devotion to Lord Vishnu. After this he sung the Periya Thirumozhi in praise of the Lord Vishnu.

The enthralling effect and the greatness of his songs are simply out of this world. In most cases, we would try to justify our faults or mistakes that we committed, but Thirumangai Azhwar accepted all his crimes, mistakes and faults at their face value without any justification offering his complete surrender to Lord Vishnu. The songs not only consist of repentance, but also the eloquence in the praise that shows the devotion and the high regard and respect he had for Lord Vishnu. This along with his endurance has exalted him to an Azhwar. Let us see some of his songs



"Kulam Tharum Selvam Thandhidum
Adiyaar Paduthuyar Aayinavellaam
Nilandharam Seyyum Neel Visumbarulum
Arulodu Perinilam Alikkum
Valam tharum mattrum thandhidum Petra
Thaayinum Aayina Seyyum
Nalam Tharum Sollai Naan
Kandukondaen Narayana Ennum Naamam"


meaning, It gives you status, wealth, eliminates sorrow by demolishing them to the ground. It bestows you with lengthy heaven along with lots of land. It blesses you with strength and all sorts of good things. It does more than what a mother would do to a child. And I found that all good bestowing name, Narayana. Here land means not only the materialistic property land, but grounds on which the person is recognised.

Kulam - status
Tharum, Thandhidum - provides
Selvam - Wealth
Adiyaar - devotees
Paduthuyar - sorrow
Aayinavellaam - all of the sorrows
Nilandharam - ground level
Seyyum - Does
Neel - Lengthy
Visumbu - Heaven
Arulum - Blesses
Arulodu - Along with the blessings
Perunilam - A huge piece of land
Alikkum - Provide
Valam - Strength
Mattrum - Others
Petra Thaai - Mother who begets a child
Nalam - Goodness
Soll - Word,
Kandukondaen - Found and realised
Narayana - Lord Vishnu's name
Naamam - Name

The next songs illustrate his meekness and great devotion. His acceptance of his mistakes at their face value without any justification, but all he requests was salvation




"Vaadinaen Vaadi Varundhinaen Manaththaal
Perunthuyar Idumbaiyil Pirandhu
Koodinaen Koodi Ilayavar Thammodu
Avartharum Kalaviyae Karudhi
Odinaen Odi Uyivadhor Porulaal
Unarvenum Perum Padham Thirindhu
Naadinaen Naadi Naan Kandukondaen
Narayana Ennum Naamam"

meaning, I anguished, felt weak and sad in my heart just because I was born in this whole lot of sorrow and distress. I had friendship with the mean and cheap people, just for the mean pleasures they gave me. Then I ran and ran because of the Supreme Being changed my instincts and senses to search for the Supreme Being. Then I because of search I found the Supreme Being in the name of Lord Narayana.



"Maanei Kann Madavaar Mayakkir Pattu Maanilathu
Naane Naanavidha Naragam Pugum Paavam Seidhaen
Thaenei Poompozhilsuzh Thiruvenkatamaa Malai Enn
Aanai Vandhadainthaen Adiyaenai Aatkondarulae"

meaning, I fell for the attractive deer like eyes of women and committed sins that will take me to all the four kinds of hell. The Lord, Lord Venkatachalapathy, of the Thiru Venkata mountains, that have flowers bearing nectar; I have come to surrender at your feet, please accept me and bless your devotee.



"Theriyaen Paalaganai Palatheemaigal Seithumittaen
Periyaen Aayinapin Pirarkae Uzhaithu Yaezhaiyaanaen
Karisaer Poompozhilsuzh Kanamaamalai Venkatava
Ariyae Vandhadainthaen Adiyaenai Aatkondarulae"

meaning, As a young child that commits mistakes, I have committed a lot of sins. And when I grew up (mental maturity), I became a poor fellow just by working for others (Feeding 1000 people daily as per Kumudhavalli's request). The Lord Venkatachalapathy, of the great mountains that have majestic elephants. Lord Hari, I have come to Tirupathi to fall at your feel, grant me an asylum in your heart and bless me.



"Kondraen Palluyirai Kurikkole Ondrillamayinaal
Endranum Irandhaarkku Inidhaga Uraiththariyaen
Kundraei Megamadhir Kulirmaamalai Venkatavaa
Andrae Vandhadaidhaen Adiyaenai Aatkondarulae"

meaning, I killed many lives aimlessly, I never spoke benignly to those who came for help. Lord Venkatachalapathy, the lord of the mountains covered with misty chill clouds, I have come then to surrender at your feet and take asylum in your heart, bless me.


As already told, the greatness of Thirumangai Azhwar was his simplicity and the attitude to accept his mistakes at their face value, and most of all his endurance and the devotion to Lord Vishnu and his incarnations. His poetic eloquence has bestowed us great songs that have to be remembered for days to come and indeed sung in all the Bramhotsavam's celebrated in Tirupathi and various other Dhivyadesams. One such eloquence is the Thiruvelukootrarikkai covered in the earlier post about Chithira Thaer in the Saarangapani temple of Kumbakonam. Thirumangai Azhwar stands as an example of how a devotion to the their God should be, whatever religion be it. Let us praise Thirumangai Azhwar during the month of Purataasi and get the blessings of Lord Vishnu.

More to come, until then...

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Wealth called Health!!!

These are the days where most people are pompously conscious of the calories in the food they eat, but actually they are not. There are people who just think like a sanyasi, who would say that the body is just a thing of waste. There is even song a that say that the human body is just air filled bag and is just an illusion. The song goes like this



"Kaayamae Idhu Poiyada
Verum Kaatradaitha Paiyada"

meaning, the human body is just an illusion and it is just an air filled bag, empty and useless

Kaayam - The human body
Idhu - A reflexive pronoun referring the body in this context
Poi - Lie, Illusion, Imaginary
Verum - Simply
Kaatradaitha - Kaatru (Air) + Adaitha (Filled, blocked)

Though this might be correct from one perspective, but in this world most people do not have the super natural capabilities to exceed their limits of their human nature and physiology. And thus came another song, on the same line



"Kaayamae Idhu Meiyada
Adhil Kannum Karuthum Vaiyada"

meaning, The body exists in reality, so take the utmost care to maintain it carefully.

Mei - Truth
Adhil - Word referring to the body
Kannum Karuthum - The eye and the mind, meaning focus your attention in nurturing the body

There are many advices in the form of songs that emphasize the point of having good health, because all that a man could achieve would be when he is in good health, once his health is gone everything is gone, his wealth, his fame. Many writers emphasize the one of the greatest wealth that a man could have is his health. There is one song that might sound funny and almost everybody knows it, but the actual meaning it emphasizes is really great. This song was sung by a Siddhar and it emphasizes the need for maintaining one's health. The song is



"Nandhavanathil Ore Aandi Avan
Naalaaru maathamai Kuyavanai Vendi
Kondu Vandhan Oru Thondi
Adhai Koothadi Koothadi Pottudaithaandi"

the meaning at the first look would seem funny. It means that a poor man in the garden begged for a pot for ten months from the potter. And he got it finally after ten months, but the poor man carelessly played and played with the pot and broke it. The above meaning might look as if the poor man's effort was a waste as he could not save the pot he begged, but the actual meaning is different and has an indepth meaning, but before that let us meaning of the words in the song.

Nandhavam - Garden, Earth
Ore - one
Aandi - Man without anything with him
Avan - Personal Pronoun
Naalaaru - Naalu + Aaru - Four + Six that is ten
Maatham - Month
Kuyavan - Potter, Creator
Vendi - Beg, Ask
Kondu - Bring
Vandhan - Refers to the Aandi
Oru - One
Thondi - Pot, Container
Adhai - Pronoun referring the pot
Koothadi - Play
Pottu - Drop
Udaithaan - Breaking

The actual meaning is as follows. Nandhavam means the Earth and Aandi refers to the human. A human born in the face of the Earth garden comes with nothing in his hand, so he is a poor man. He comes into existence on this earth after ten months. So those ten months is being interpreted as the human begging the creator (God) for his existence by bringing his physical body on this Earth garden. His body being referred to the pot that holds his life and hence the Potter is God. And all his ten months of penance goes of waste once he carelessly roams on the face of the earth unconcerned about his health and thereby breaking the Pot (body) - his life and existence - which he brought into this Garden (Earth) after ten months of effort.

The greatness of this song is that it emphasizes a great meaning with a funny context. Thirumoolar in his masterpiece Thirumandhiram has written about the need to have good health. Even the greatest poet of the recent times, Kaviarasu Kannadhasan, has mentioned his experiences of having good health in his work Arthamulla Hindu Madham (Hinduism and its meanings). Lets see what Thirumoolar has mentioned about this in his songs. The first song goes like this



"Udambaar Azhiyil Uyiraar Azhivar
Dhidampada Meignanam Seravum Maataar
Udambai Valarkkum Ubaayam Arindhae
Udambai Valarthaen Uyir Valarthaenae"

meaning, "Those who have their health destroyed, its as though they have destroyed their life. They would never attain salvation or realise the supreme being. Hence I learned the way to nurture my health. And thus I was able to nurture my life"

Udambu - Physical body
Azhiyil - If destroyed
Uyir - Life, Soul
Azhivar - Die, Destroyed
Dhidampada - Healthiness
Meignanam - Salvation, Knowledge about the Supreme Being
Valarkkum - Nurturing
Ubaayam - Way, Method
Arindhae - realising, learning

What Thirumoolar says is 100% true, if a man does not have good health, then he will not find time to realise the supreme being as he has to mind his own health to keep him alive. And it is a pain to see people suffering from health disorders.

His next song states what our very first song of this post states and then later realises the importance of the human body.



"Udambinai Munnam Izhukkendru Irundhaen
Udambinukku Ullae Uru Porul Kandaen
Udambullae Uththaman Koyil Kondan Endru
Udambinai Yaanirundhu Ombukindraenae"

meaning, "I first thought the body is a blemish. Then I realised that the Supreme Being existing in my body. In my body, the Supreme Being (Lord Shiva) resides in a temple within. And hence I worship and nurture my physical body".

Udambu - Physical body
Munnam - Earlier
Izhukku - blemish, blame
Irundhaen - have an opinion, in this context
Ullae - Inside
Uru Porul - refers to the Supreme Being
Uththaman - Flawless, Divine Human
Koyil - Temple
Kondan - Have, Reside
Yaanirundhu - Yaan (refers to self - Thirumoolar)+ Irundhu (exist, remain)
Ombukindraen - Worshipping, Nurturing

The religious attitude that God resides in one's body, is a great thought, that will to those religiously inclined will consider the body to be divine thing and will start to maintain it in good health. For the others who are not religiously inclined, they understand that their body health is of utmost importance for them to survive. Both ways, the emphasis is to have a good health throughout life. There are various ways that humans to maintain their health. The following song explains one - Yoga. The explaination of the song could be found here in the earlier post - Power of Yoga. There are others ways like knowing about the food we eat and thereby eating the good food, more about this on Priceless Padhartha Guna Chintamani.



So conclusively, all the siddhars, doctors and wise men talking about conserving one's health. There have been ancestral knowledge like the Paati Vaidhiyam, passed on for generations, that averted the need for a doctor in most cases and good healthy food that eliminated most of the diseases. But those knowledge and the healthy food habits is on the decline in our country due to western culture creeping in. It is not the western culture that is to blame, but the people who forget the most treasured knowledge that is priceless and will be realised only when health is lost. Lets us bring back those practices back into life to live long and prosper!!!

More to come, until then...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Graceful Kumaresa Sadhagam!

Our Tamil poets had an eloquence in Tamil Language that they were capable of writing hundreds of songs at a stretch. Those songs were so elegant that those songs/poems sought to inculcate morals and facts of life. They have stood for hundreds of years as a moral reference. We already came across one such work - The Arappaleeswara Sadhagam by Ambalavana Kavirayar. There is one more Sadhagam (100 songs in praise of some deity inculcating some moral throughout - forms part of the 96 Prabandhams), the Kumaresa Sadhagam by Gurupaadha Daasar. The song is in praise of Lord Kumaresan (Murugan), hence the name Kumaresa Sadhagam, in the place called Pullvayal. The 100 songs sung in praise of Lord Kumaresan (Murugan) is full of elegance and grace in explaining the ethics. These songs were sung some 250 years ago and being recited in many homes. The facts and morals explained in it are applicable even today. There are songs explaining on how to get the Thiruneeru (Viboothi - The sacred ash) and how the Thiruneeru should be applied on the forehead and other parts of the body. We will see two songs that are really exemplary of the grace of the songs.

The first song is about the things that are useful to many people.






"Kondal Pozhimariyum Udhara Sarrgunam
Udaiya Kovum Ooruniyin Neerum
Kootamidum Ambalaththu Urutharuvin Nizhalum
Kudiyalar Vivasayamum

Kandavarkal Ellarum Varum Perum Sandhiyil
Kanipala Pazhutha Maramum
Karunayudanae Vaithidum Thanneer Pandhalum
Kaveripol Ootramum

Vindalathu Urai Chandraadhitha Kiranamum
Veesu Maarutha Seedhamum
Vivegi Enum Nalloridathil Ooru Selvamum
Vegu Sanarkku Ubagaaramaam

Vandimir Kadappamalar Maalai Ani Senkalaba
Maarbanae Vadivelava
Mayil Yeri Vilayadu Kuganae Pullvayal Needu
Malaimevu Kumaresanae"

meaning,

The rain giving clouds, The generous hearted king, The water from the lake in the country, The shade of the tree where people gather, The agriculture of the farmer.

The tree bearing lots of fruits that growa in a place beneficial for the people. The Thanneer Pandhal, place where water is served free for passers by. The spring that has water flowing like the river Kaveri.

The rays of the space residing Sun and the Moon, The gentleness of the breeze, the wealth in the hands of a wiseman, all of above mentioned things will benefit many in the country

I worship the Lord Kumaresan who is adorned with the Kadamba Flower Garland in which the bee gathers nectar and who mounts atop the peacock in the hilly region of Pullvayal.


The next song is about the activities that happen in this Yugam - The Kali yugam. The Hindu cosmology has cyclic period has Four successive periods called Yugams. The Sathya or Krita Yugam (17,28,000 years), The Treta Yugam (12,96,000 years), The Dvapar Yugam (8,64,000 years) and the Kali Yugam (4,32,000 years). Now in 2007 just 5109 years have passed in the Kali Yugam. There is a lot to tell about these yugam calculations but we will see that in a later post. In Kumaresa Sadhagam, Gurupadha Dasar explains what activities will happen in this Kali Yugam. The song goes like this




"Thaai Buddhi Sonnal Maruthidum Kaalam Uyar
Thandhai Seeru Kaalam
Sarrguruvai Nindhai Seikaalam Meikadavulai
Sattrum Ennadha Kaalam

Peidheivam Endru Ubasariththidum Kaalam
Purattarukku Yetra Kaalam
Pendaati Vaiyinum Kaetkindra Kaalam Narr
Periyar Soll Koladha Kaalam

Thaeivudanae Periyavan Sirumayurum Kaalam Migu
Siriyavan Perugu Kaalam
Seruvil Vittu Odinor Varisai Perr Kaalam Vasai
Seppuvorkku Udhavum Kaalam

Vaaimadham Pesividum Aniyaya Kaararkku
Vaaitha Kalikaalam Ayya
Mayil Yeri Vilayadu Kuganae Pullvayal Needu
Malaimevu Kumaresanae"

meaning, The time period where people not heeding the words/advice of their mother. The time period where children fight with their respectable father. The time period where their guru is being insulted. The time period where people don't think about the real God.

The time period where the ghost are hailed as Gods. The time for all the liars. The time period where people hear to the wife shouting and scolding them. The time period where the words of the wise people are neglected.

The time period where great people are being denigrated and mean and useless people grow. The time period where the person who ran from the war field is being awarded. The time period where people help those who vituperate them.

It is the time for all the people who commit blatant injustice. And all these events happen in the time period called the Kali Kaalam.

I worship the Lord Kumaresan who mounts atop the peacock in the hilly region of Pullvayal.

Though quite simple in the use of language, but Kumaresa Sadhagam has indepth meanings in its song. The great man who bestowed these songs surely would have been blessed by the God of the Tamil Language - God Murugan.

More to come, until then...