Monthly Archives: February 2017

Hurry Up Before…

Today I read here a post about a teacher who went to great lengths to help out a student of his. Brings me to what I always wanted to write about, but never quite managed it. Won’t hold longer.

The boy was a little sickly, prone to frequent attacks of cold forcing him to stay away from school. And he wasn’t any good in languages that had one too many consonants like four ‘ka’s, four cha’s… (Hindi, Marathi…). He had trouble telling one from the other. To add to his grief, the nouns in these languages had gender they had no business carrying at all. Besides these phonetically sooper-correct languages, drawing also brought him down. His rendering of objects made his teacher wonder if he (teacher) was seeing things right.

Well, suffice to say these subjects often messed up his grade and rank in exams. And there were times he couldn’t muster even pass-marks in these subjects. On those occasions the class teacher would personally plead with the Marathi/Drawing teacher taking the boy along – unbelievable? but that’s what he did. The teachers would oblige passing the boy with minimum marks. At least once it happened even when the boy had not taken the exam at all owing to sickness.

The boy never understood the gestures fully. The incidents receded in his consciousness as he moved on from sixth grade to the seventh and so on, over the many years of education and employment that followed. It wasn’t until he was into his late thirties and gotten quite worldly-wise that the memories surfaced from deep recesses of his mind and their full import struck him.

A class-teacher going out on a limb for him for no personal gain? And there were those teachers chiming in with him in his extraordinary (and irregular, of course) act.

I’ve never stopped kicking myself for not having gotten back in good time to esteemed Shri Manikkavaachakam (my class teacher), Ms Kamath (Marathi teacher), Shri Venkataramana (Drawing teacher who could draw with both hands at the same time)…to tell them what those gestures (though patently in violation of rules) meant then and mean even today, the feelings I’m awash with…While words fail me here, I do know it’s a debt that I’m incapable of ever repaying, a lapse too late to correct and a sin that’s unforgivable.

The only positive fallout – ever since it is my endeavor to express myself sooner than later to those whom I owe in life: parents, spouse and children, relatives, teachers, friends, colleagues… and often perfect strangers too.



An Anecdote From The Paramacharya On Athithi Bhojanam

on the day of Maha Sivarathri.


While non-Saivaites (I’m) may see it in the light of the god/entity/principle they may revere, the secular may see aspects of sharing with/serving others.

Here we go:

(lightly edited for readability from here)


After some time Swamigal started talking:

“Let me tell you about an incident that happened in 1938 or 1939….you’ll understand the greatness of athithi bhojanam…On the western side of Mahaamaha kulam (water tank) there was this large house of Kumaresan Chettiar. I remember his wife’s name was Sivakami Aachi. They did not have children. They brought in a young Chettiar boy to help them out in the chores and manage the shop. Chettiar and his wife were about 50 years old, engaging themselves as often as they could in Siva nama smarana (chanting ‘Siva, Siva, Siva’).

Every day his wife and he went by a bullock-cart to do snanam (bathe) in Cauvery. They would proceed to Sri Matam to do namaskaaram. For several years this couple were doing athithi bhojanam (feeding guests, a highly regarded ancient practice) (2). Don’t be surprised. Every afternoon they would feed any number of Siva bhakta’s coming to their house. Outside the house they received them, wash their feet, wipe them with a towel, apply sandalwood paste and kumkumam (1) and then escort them into the house. Sivakami Aachi would ask the athithi’s their likes, buy those vegetables, provisions and herself cook food of their choice. You must be wondering how I came to know of these details. It’s all from Sundaram Iyer, a staunch follower of Kanchi Mutt, managing the accounts of Kumaresan Chettiar.”

Swamigal paused for a while and continued:

“One day it rained heavily. Lunch time, still no athithi yet. Carrying an umbrella, Chettiar went around the kulam in search. In a small mandapam (3) he saw a Sivanadiar (a Siva bhakta) sitting on its steps after bath. Chettiar invited him to his house for bhojanam. The devotee, a scholar, obliged, singing verses from Thevaram (4) on the way. After washing his feet, he was respectfully conducted inside the house. Chettiar’s wife did namaskaaram to the athithi and asked:

“Swami, what vegetables do you like? Please do tell me so I may procure and cook the same.”

The Sivanadiar seemed quite hungry. He went to the backyard and saw plenty of mulai-keerai (a kind of spinach) patches. He told Mrs. Chettiar he would be happy with keerai kuutu (a gravy preparation) and keerai thandu sambar (a thick lentil soup with spinach stems tossed in). Accordingly Chettiar carried a basket to the backyard and pulled out enough keerai. Sivanadiar too joined him with another basket. All noticed by Sivakami Aachi.

Aachi washed both bunches of keerai separately and began cooking them in two separate aduppu’s (stoves). Sivanadiar wondered why Aachi was cooking same keerai in two different vessels. Once cooked, Aachi took the keerai plucked by Sivanadiar and offered to God as naivedhyam (5). Sivanadiar felt gratified she is offering his keerai. Because he was an adiyar (servent of the Lord)? He would ask the lady about this matter after lunch.

After lunch Sivanadiar brought it up with Aachi why she made an offering of only the keerai pulled by him.

She said:

“My husband was doing Siva nama samarana while plucking the leaves and hence it is already offered to God and there is no need to do nivedhanam (the formal offering) again. But you were silent, engrossed in pulling out the leaves. So I cooked them separately and offered to God.”

When they did namaskaaram finally, a mortified Sivanadiar took leave generously blessing the couple while appreciating her bakthi and intelligence.

Do you know what such wonderful acts of athithi bhojanam did good to the couple? After few years they performed shastiabda poorthy (60th birth-day) for Chettiar. On one Maha Sivarathri day they had a darshan of the four kaala pooja’s in Kumbeswara Swami temple. Coming home, a tired Sivakami Aachi just collapsed in the pooja room. Chettiar rushing to her side also collapsed near her. On that auspicious Maha Sivarathri day the couple thus reached the lotus feet of Lord Siva together.

You see the benefit of athithi bhojanam? On every Sivarathri day I remember the noble Chettiars

Swamigal got up:

“It is 2 O clock. You must all be hungry. Please go and eat well (in the Matam).”


Note: (1) Kumkumam is  turmeric is dried and powdered with a bit of slaked lime turning the rich yellow powder into a red color (2) In many schools of Hindu thought, treating the guests, especially the bhakta’s, is equal/more to worshiping the god himself (3) A stone structure resting on pillars open on one or more sides (4) The Tevaram (Tamil: தேவாரம் Tēvāram) denotes the first seven volumes of the Tirumurai, the twelve-volume collection of Tamil Śaiva devotional poetry. All seven volumes are dedicated to the works of the three most prominent Tamil poets of the 7th century, the Nayanars – SambandarTirunavukkarasar and Sundarar. The singing of Tevaram is continued as a hereditary practice in some Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu (5) Naivedhyam: formal offering of food to the gods before it is consumed.

Corruption In/And Politics

Justice Amitava Roy bemoans the state of affairs in a very short and an eloquent supplement affixed to the end of 500+ pages of recent judgement convicting Ms Sashikala and her cohorts – somehow his wake-up call is snoozed over, not receiving the attention it deserves:

(reproduced here as received via a forward)

And in his articulation, Late Justice Krishna Iyer was perhaps his guru.


(Arising out of SLP (Crl.) Nos. 7107-7112 of 2015)





J U D G M E N T: Amitava Roy, J.

‘1. A few disquieting thoughts that have lingered and languished in distressed silence in mentation demand expression at the parting with a pulpit touch. Hence, this supplement.

‘2. The attendant facts and circumstances encountered as above, demonstrate a deep rooted conspiratorial design to amass vast assets without any compunction and hold the same through shell entities to cover up the sinister trail of such illicit acquisitions and deceive and delude the process of law. Novelty in the outrages and the magnitude of the nefarious gains as demonstrated by the revelations in the case are, to say the least, startling.

‘3. A growing impression in contemporary existence seems to acknowledge, the all pervading pestilent presence of corruption almost in every walk of life, as if to rest reconciled to the octopoid stranglehold of this malaise with helpless awe. The common day experiences indeed do introduce one with unfailing regularity, the variegated cancerous concoctions of corruption with fearless impunity gnawing into the frame and fabric of the nation’s essentia. Emboldened by the lucrative yields of such malignant materialism, the perpetrators of this malady have tightened their noose on the societal psyche. Individual and collective pursuits with curative interventions at all levels are thus indispensable to deliver the civil order from the asphyxiating snare of this escalating venality.

‘4. In the above alarming backdrop of coeval actuality, judicial adjudication of a charge based on an anti-corruption law motivated by the impelling necessities of time, has to be informed with the desired responsibility and the legislative vision therefor. Any interpretation of the provisions of such law has to be essentially purposive, in furtherance of its mission and not in retrogression thereof. Innovative nuances of evidential inadequacies, processual infirmities and interpretational subtleties, artfully advanced in defence, otherwise intangible and inconsequential, ought to be conscientiously cast aside with moral maturity and singular sensitivity to uphold the statutory sanctity, lest the coveted cause of justice is a causality.

‘5. Corruption is a vice of insatiable avarice for selfaggrandizement by the unscrupulous, taking unfair advantage of their power and authority and those in public office also, in breach of the institutional norms, mostly backed by minatory loyalists. Both the corrupt and the corrupter are indictable and answerable to the society and the country as a whole. This is more particularly in re the peoples’ representatives in public life committed by the oath of the office to dedicate oneself to the unqualified welfare of the laity, by faithfully and conscientiously discharging their duties attached thereto in accordance with the Constitution, free from fear or favour or affection or ill-will. A self-serving conduct in defiance of such solemn undertaking in infringement of the community’s confidence reposed in them is therefore a betrayal of the promise of allegiance to the Constitution and a condemnable sacrilege. Not only such a character is an anathema to the preambulor promise of justice, liberty, equality, fraternal dignity, unity and integrity of the country, which expectantly ought to animate the life and spirit of every citizen of this country, but also is an unpardonable onslaught on the constitutional religion that forms the bedrock of our democratic polity.

‘6. This pernicious menace stemming from moral debasement of the culpables, apart from destroying the sinews of the nation’s structural and moral set-up, forges an unfair advantage of the dishonest over the principled, widening as well the divide between the haves and have nots. Not only this has a demoralising bearing on those who are ethical, honest, upright and enterprising, it is visibly antithetical to the quintessential spirit of the fundamental duty of every citizen to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity to raise the nation to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. This virulent affliction triggers an imbalance in the society’s existential stratas and stalls constructive progress in the overall well-being of the nation, besides disrupting its dynamics of fiscal governance. It encourages defiance of the rule of law and the propensities for easy materialistic harvests, whereby the society’s soul stands defiled, devalued and denigrated.

‘7. Such is the militant dominance of this sprawling evil, that majority of the sensible, rational and discreet constituents of the society imbued with moral values and groomed with disciplinal ethos find themselves in minority, besides estranged and resigned by practical compulsions and are left dejected and disillusioned. A collective, committed and courageous turnaround is thus the present day imperative to free the civil order from the suffocative throttle of this deadly affliction.

‘8. Every citizen has to be a partner in this sacrosanct mission, if we aspire for a stable, just and ideal social order as envisioned by our forefathers and fondly cherished by the numerous self-effacing crusaders of a free and independent Bharat, pledging their countless sacrifices and selfless commitments for such cause.




FEBRUARY 14, 2017


A Poser On Charity


At the end of a discourse on charity, the guru called his sishya’s (pupils) and asked them what would they ask Mahalakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) if she were to appear before them.

The first sishya: ‘Guruji, I would ask for a lot of wealth so I can help the poor and needy.’

The second sishya had more to ask: ‘One never knows one’s mind for sure, especially after coming into possession of wealth. So I would ask for lot of wealth and along with it the will to give it away to others.’

His companion, the third sishya, thought different: ‘If we are wishing well for others, I prefer to remove myself altogether and would pray to Mahalakshmi to grace them directly with enough.’

The fourth sishya differed: ’My prayer would be for them to have enough wealth, but they would earn it by their efforts.’

The guru smiled and walked away leaving them behind to debate among themselves the wisdom of their views.