Monthly Archives: January 2017








Pages From My Travel Dairy: VeLi AandaL Sannadhi At Srirangam

Tuesday, 29 November, 2016 6:02 AM

Today we began with a darshan of VeLi AandaL sannadhi.

A retired govt servant somehow has become a junior bhattar at this sannadhi. He has been around for 2+ years now. He had offered to help out when he found the sannadhi in a sorry state of neglect.

He took pains to explain the mahathvam of this sannadhi on finding we were from out of state and it was our first visit ever:

Here is where Aandal takes time to adorn Herself as a bride for Her marriage with Rangamannar. Seated, She has a bashful smile on Her face, lips a wee-bit parted, sports a Lakshmi-kondai on Her head.

When the time comes, Periyaazhvaar summons a pallakku (palanquin) for Her to join Her Azhagiya Manavaalan (bridegroom). Somewhere on the way he lifts the screen on the side of the palanquin and finds his Daughter missing. Where would he go searching for Her at this time – a vexed Aazhvar is beset with grief. That’s when She reveals Herself as an avataram of Bhooma Devi and She has since joined Her spouse in their celestial abode. Well, I have not read the books to know how She consoled Her earth-bound father. To imagine his sad plight

Other tidbits:

Overwhelmed by the beauty of Ranganatha, She takes long breaths. As She exhales, the flame of a torana vilakku lighted nearby lurches as if blown by a light breeze. The vilakku right beneath – only a few inches away – burns steady without a flicker!!

We know Ranganatha or Ranganayaki Thayar accept flowers only from their Nandavanam. Not even from the royalty (what to speak of lesser mortals like us). The one exception: During a festival (could not catch which one) Ranganatha appears at Aandal’s door-step and eagerly grabs the garlands She winningly parts with and wears them like He could wait no more!

On another occasion (which one?), it is now His turn to part with the kasturi adorning His forehead – the only time He ever does.

Another suvaiyaana karpanai (don’t know if these are bhattar’s words): Aandal is decked with ornaments only to ‘avaludaiya alavilladha azhagai kuraipathatke’!!

As I stepped out of the sannadhi and the trance, I waited for a few minutes at the mandapam in front waiting for my spouse to emerge.

I asked the only pookkaari if this shrine draws enough crowd – we could see only a few bhakta’s with us. She said it does get a few locals visiting daily. On special days like ammavasai, ekadasi, etc. the turnout is thick like in other shrines – to note: this sannadhi is not inside the main temple, but located a little out of the way beyond Chitra veedhi’s. The pilgrims to the main temple must make a detour to reach this shrine.

She was sure anyone coming to the shrine once would certainly come again bewitched by Her beauty.  And for herself, she found immense relief stationing herself in this shrine: ’I leave all my pracchanai’s to Her.’

Amazing words coming from an illiterate pookkari.

I pointed to the pile of unsold flowers in front of her. Won’t she suffer losses? Perhaps she grew the flowers on her own patch that the losses didn’t matter much?

‘Illai, sami, I buy them from the market. The unsold flowers – I give them away to the temple. Yes, I make a loss, but She’ll take care of me.’

We left not before giving her the money that I had ‘smartly’ knocked off her while buying malligai saram from her on entry to the sannadhi. And a little more.


A Grade – 1 Question?

Someone asked, “Why do we have brakes in a car”?

Varied answers were received, like:
‘To stop’,
‘To reduce speed’,
‘To avoid collision’…

but the best answer was,
‘To enable you to drive faster.’

Likewise a friendly tap on your shoulder from family, friend or a well-wisher is often   not so much as to discourage as for you to pause, reassess and move faster,…


Source: Adapted from

The Poem Reads Very Familiar, Except It’s About 2000 Years Ago!!

What this lover would wish for you if you ever crossed her path would make a guardian angel of your worst enemy. Her creator, poet Madurai Kanakanar (translated as ‘Accountant from Madurai’ – see, on the side what accountants are capable of!!) reads her mind in his verse, 107th in Krunthogai.

Kurunthogai is part of early Sangam literature placed between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD by modern linguistic scholarship. It’s an anthology of 402 poems – short verses ranging from four to eight lines – written by as many as 205 poets, compiled by a poet, Pooriko. Elsewhere it is said to be annotated by Nachinarkiniyar, a Tami zh scholar living during the sixth or the seventh century C.E.

All its poems but the first which glorifies God, are on love, written in a dramatic style with a hero (thalaivan), heroine (thalaivi) and her aiding and abetting friend (thozhi) as the main characters. Love in those days was seen in two neat shades: before marriage (kalaviyal) – yes, you read it right (are you shocked, puritan?) – and love after marriage (karpiyal). Usually the hero goes to faraway lands for trade, separated from his love – just the kind of scene the poets love to jump into.

Now back to our lovelorn kind-hearted(?) heroine and what she wishes:

Firstly, the verse in Tamizh:

குவி இணர்த் தோன்றி ஒண் பூ அன்ன
தொகு செந் நெற்றிக் கணம்கொள் சேவல்!-
நள்ளிருள் யாமத்து இல் எலி பார்க்கும்
பிள்ளை வெருகிற்கு அல்குஇரை ஆகி,
கடு நவைப் படீஇயரோ, நீயே-நெடு நீர்
யாணர் ஊரன் தன்னொடு வதிந்து
ஏம இன் துயில் எடுப்பியோயே!
பொருள் முற்றி வந்த தலைமகனை உடைய கிழத்தி காமம் மிக்க கழிபடர் கிளவியால் கூறியது. – மதுரைக் கண்ணனார்.

Word-by-word meaning:

குவி – இணர்த்- தோன்றி -ஒண்- பூ -அன்ன; piled up – clustered – red malabar lily – bright – flower – similar to; தொகு செந் நெற்றிக் கணம்கொள் சேவல்!; assembled – red-top – dense having – cock; நள்ளிருள் யாமத்து இல் எலி பார்க்கும்; intense darkness – midnight – house-rat – seeing (searching); பிள்ளை வெருகிற்கு அல்குஇரை ஆகி; young one (of) – wild cat – diminishing gradually/slowly – prey(food) – become; கடு- நவைப்- படீஇயரோ, நீயே-நெடு நீர்; pain – punishment/kill – may become – you – wide water(sea); யாணர் ஊரன் தன்னொடு வதிந்து; earning/thriving – agriculturalist/farmer – with him – dwell/stay; ஏம இன் துயில் எடுப்பியோயே!; enjoyment – pleasant – dream – you woke me up!;

Readable translation:

Like the bright Tondri flowers

which are found in heaps and clusters,

Oh rooster, your comb is red and dense.

In hands of the young one of the wild cat

searching for house rats in the midnight,

may you have a slow painful death

since you woke me up from my enjoyable sweet dream,

when I was with him, a farmer, at a place thriving by the wide sea.

By poet: Madurai Kanakanar (Accountant from Madurai)

(Note light rephrasing of PSV’s translation without loss of fidelity is entirely my doing)


The poor rooster cursed for merely being itself, cock-a-doodle-doo’ing!

Now, my friend, would you dare cross her path even in her dreams?

To complete the imagery, here’s a visual on the cock and the flower:



Sources: (author: Palaniappan Vairam Sarathy), and Wiki.

A Poet’s Imagery


.I stumbled upon ‘Nanneri’ thanks to Bala Murugan (balamurugangovindarasu) on FB.

‘Nanneri’ is compiled as a collection of 40 4-line verses termed as venpa’s that talk (preach) about good things to go after in life.  Each venpa has a summary title on the subject attribute further enlarged with the first (or the last) two lines. And the other two lines are very interesting for the unusual imagery the poet brings in to emphasize his point.

It’s composed by Siva Prakasar, a Tamizh philosopher, sage and poet at the end of 17th century. He had authored 30+ books, many of them untraceable, dwelling largely on Saiva Siddhantam.  .

Here are a few venpa’s with imagery that, I thought, was unprecedented and thoroughly enjoyable:

(the original verse, not ordered,  with its title is followed by its translation)

இன்சொல்லையே உலகம் விரும்பும்

இன்சொலா லன்றி இருநீர் வியனுலகம்
வன்சொலால் என்றும் மகிழாதே – பொன்செய்
அதிர்வளையாய் பொங்காது அழல்கதிரால் தண்ணென்
கதிர்வரவால் பொங்குங் கடல்.

The sea does not swell by the heat of the sun,
but rises to welcome the cool rays of the moon.
Similarly, the world rejoices at hearing pleasant words
but is not happy to hear when harsh words are spoken.

பிறர் துன்பம் தாங்குக

பேரறிஞர் தாக்கும் பிறர்துயரம் தாங்கியே
வீரமொடு காக்க விரைகுவர் – நேரிழாய்
மெய்சென்று தாக்கும் வியன்கோல் அடிதன்மேல்
கைசென்று தாங்கும் கடிது.

Men of wisdom will rush to protect others
even if that act may cause them distress.
Like the hand that protects the body from a blow
not worrying about the pain that it will inflict.

அறிஞர்கள் கைம்மாறு வேண்டாமல் உதவுவார்கள்

கைம்மாறு உகவாமல் கற்றறிந்தோர் மெய்வருந்தித்
தம்மால் இயலுதவி தாம்செய்வர் – அம்மா
முளைக்கும் எயிறு முதிர்சுவை நாவிற்கு
விளைக்கும் வலியனதாம் மென்று.

The learned will undergo hardship to help the needy
without seeking gratitude in return for that help.
Like the teeth that chew up the hard bits in the food
without any ‘thanks’ from the tongue that enjoys it.

ஓருவர்தம் நற்குணத்தையே பேசுதல் வேண்டும்

உண்டு குணமிங்கு ஒருவர்க்கு எனினும்கீழ்
கொண்டு புகல்வதவர் குற்றமே – வண்டுமலர்ச்
சேக்கை விரும்பும் செழும் பொழில்வாய் வேம்பன்றோ
காக்கை விரும்பும் கனி.

Though a man has both good and bad qualities in him
people of low intellect will only speak of the bad.
It is like the bees while they seek the sweet nectar
and the crows go for the bitter fruits of the Margosa tree.

அறிவுடையோர் உயர்குலத்தவர் அறிவிலார் இழிகுலத்தவர்

ஆக்கும் அறிவான் அல்லது பிறப்பினால்
மீக்கொள் உயர்விழிவு வேண்டற்க – நீக்க
பவர்ஆர் அரவின் பருமணிகண்டு என்றும்
கவரார் கடலின் கடு.

No one rejects the gem stone guarded by a snake
or drinks from the sea because it is vast.
A person should be judged only by his wisdom
and not by the class into which he is born.

பெரியோர் பிறர் துன்பம் கண்டிரங்குவார்

பெரியவர்தம் நோய்போல் பிறர்நோய்கண் டுள்ளம்
எரியின் இழுதாவார் என்க – தெரியிழாய்
மண்டு பிணியால் வருந்து பிறவுறுப்பைக்
கண்டு கழலுமே கண்.

When other organs of the body suffer from illness
the eyes weep as if they suffer the pain.
Similarly, when decent men see other people suffer
they feel the sufferings of others as their own.

அன்பொடு உதவுக

பெருக்க மொடுசுருக்கம் பெற்றபொருட்கு ஏற்ப
விருப்பமொடு கொடுப்பர் மேலோர் – சுரக்கும்
மலையளவு நின்றமுலை மாதே மதியின்
கலையளவு நின்ற கதிர்.

The people of kind heart will give to others
based on the rise and fall of their income.
For the light shone on the earth by the moon
varies with the waxing and waning of its phase.

தம்பதிகள் ஒற்றுமை

காதல் மனையாளும் காதலனும் மாறின்றித்
தீதில் ஓருகருமம் செய்பவே – ஓதுகலை
எண்ணிரண்டும் ஒன்றுமதி என்முகத்தாய் நோக்கல்தான்
கண்ணிரண்டும் ஒன்றையே காண்.

The loving wife and her devoted husband
always act with the same aim in life.
Like the two eyes on a face, though separate,
see only one object at the same time.


நீக்கம் அறுமிருவர் நீங்கிப் புணர்ந்தாலும்
நோக்கின் அவர்பெருமை நொய்தாகும் – பூக்குழலாய்
நெல்லின் உமிசிறிது நீங்கிப் பழமைபோல்
புல்லினும் திண்மைநிலை போம்.

The rice when parted from the husk that covers it
loses its ability to grow even when put together again.
Similarly a friendship however long it had been going,
once falls apart will not regain its previous strength.




Source: Wiki

Not Here and Nowhere Else

An interesting short and readable post on relevance of the epic Mahabharata.

Take care not to lose what he says while reading the words.

Here he goes:

PSri's Book Blog

plalThe Mahabharata of Vyasa (Lal, Purushottama)

My obsession with world mythology in general, and with the Mahabharata in particular, is no secret. I am proud of having owned a collection of Mahabharata translations way before Devdutt Pattanayak made it fashionable to read mythology. I have blogged about Kamala Subramanian’s version in these pages, and it is time now to talk about P Lal’s.

To begin with, this isn’t the Mahabharata that Purushottama Lal is famous for. That is the legendary sloka-by-sloka poetic translation, a set of 18 volumes or 338 ‘fascicules’ that he started work on in the 1960s and took him twenty years to complete. This isn’t the Mahabharata that, to emphasize the oral nature of the epic tradition, he started reading out aloud from, for an hour every Sunday in a room in Kolkata, in 1999, a tradition that continues to this day.

No, what…

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