Category Archives: Faith

Destiny, Circumstances, Fate, Luck, Krishna…Call Whatever

A very short beautiful story on the inexplicable…the invisible hand!

This refers to swayamwara arranged by the King Draupad to find a suitable match for his beautiful daughter, Draupadi.

A tough competition was set up: There was a wheel carrying a fish on its rim and revolving at the top of a pole. The pole was rose erect next to a water-body at its base. One who shot an arrow through the eye of the fish looking merely at the reflection in the waters below would win Draupadi’s hands.

The night before, a vexed Arjuna was talking it out with Krishna.

Krishna advised him: ‘ Arjuna, take care, put your foot forward, concentrate on the eye of the fish in your mind.’

Arjuna, more in despair: ‘If I do everything, what will you do, Krishna?’

Krishna smiled and said softly: ‘What you can do, I know, you’ll do and do well. What you can’t, I’ll.’

Arjuna: ‘And, what would that be?’

Krishna: ‘I’ll hold the water steady for you.’

…call it what you like, no denying the hand of the invisible in our lives.

End

Source: Based on a post from Vasu Kadambi

Stories in Stone

This is from Sri Govindrajaswamy temple , Thiruppathi, consecrated by Sri Ramanuja in 1130 CE.

The intriguing geometry appears on the ceiling slab of a massive gopuram vaasal (gate).

Here is the gopuram:

Here’s a bottom-up view of the ceiling and the stone slabs:

Here’s a close-up of the geometry:

Look at those straight lines. They appear to be the edges of two polygons shifted and superimposed. Right, eh?

Well, they are not. Start from any node, go down or up and trace the edges without lifting the hand – you’ll return to the starting point!!!

**

These salabanjika‘s (a common motif at the entrances) would walk away with the crown for beauty, poise and grace any day anywhere!!

All credits to Amar Reddy for the photographs.

End

A One-Man Religion?

The best reward for me in life is the disproportionately large share of good people I collected around me at different times in life – class-mates, friends, colleagues at work-place and, of course, relatives; people with different strengths, exemplary in their own ways and inspirational to those who care to look; from many of whom I’ve benefited in ways with no capacity or ability to repay in equal kind or measure. I have in the past featured some of them here and there are more to be talked about before time runs out.

This man whom I had wanted to capture and present here for a long time wasn’t easy – the thoughts would not coalesce into a coherent narrative. I have been/am favored with so many acts of his kindness personally that it is easy for me to slip into singing his paeans. Like how he (and a dear cousin) stood by me at my mother’s funeral – it was his birthday, I learnt much later. But I did not want this glimpse of him to be one dimensional, vis-à-vis with me. It would be so unfair for he was/is much more.

While there’s much to be said and written about, I’ll settle for this one incident to reveal the man:

He recently retired from a very senior executive position from a company that owned, operated a chain of medical diagnostic centers that included expensive high-end equipment, a field he had spent all his career in. Post-retirement he took up his first consultancy assignment a month ago; not a son of some industrialist, he needs money like you and I. And yet, he shot this off on his own:

Dear Dr M, as there is a directive for 65 plus citizens to practice social distancing, I am constrained by my family to travel for work and contribute only remotely. As a small gesture from my end I would like to forego my professional fees for this month of March during this time of crisis.

Frankly it didn’t surprise me; for, with him, it couldn’t be anything but…

He goes to the temple almost daily and has his own private talk with the gods therein. Like me, not deep into pooja-paat, Gita and scriptures; wears no distinctive mark on his forehead. What does he do in the temple besides praying? Well, helps them in their banking issues using his contacts, gets them a plumber or a lock-smith they urgently need, brings immobile old folks to the temple in his car and drops them back home…When prasadams are freely distributed in goshti’s, only a small portion for him – anything more or a second turn meant some late-comer would go without, he believes.

It’s almost like he is actively on the lookout all the time to jump in and help in ways he can.

Not a preacher, a social-worker or a breast-beating, placard-holding, glory-hungry, funds-seeking, high-decibel activist. Just an ordinary family man like you and me who makes a difference to someone with a legendary attention to details not many of us are capable of.

One of these days, though it isn’t going to be easy, I intend to find out how did these high personal standards – the very goals of orthodoxy – come about. Parental attention? I doubt, though affection, yes, a lot of it. He grew up as the last child of a large family household that also served as a transit/temp camp for a good number of relatives passing thru or visiting Chennai, helping his mother in her chores. Fetching these guests to and fro railway stations at odd hours, yielding his place to a guest and going up to the terrace with the pillow for the night, waiting for an elder sibling to be done with a single-copy school text book before he could peruse, four years spent in the hostel away from home and not visited even once by his ownso were his younger days. And yet a very balanced and practical head screwed onto the shoulders, combining empathy with expediency,  without a tinge of bitterness or self-sympathy

I see him as a religion by himself, all in action, without the usual accouterments of a holy book, highfalutin theology…

Will certainly revert if and when I gain some insights on what has kept him going!

Presently signing off with prayers for his health and long life and a fervent wish he actively grooms many more youngsters in his ways and with deep gratitude for being blessed with his association.

End

Reading Between The Lines…

From ElangoVelurThiruturaipoondi Tiruvarur‎1.இயற்கை மற்றும் பசுமை

One day Devi Parvathi and Lord Shiva, moving around in the skies, happened to be above the city of Kashi.  The bathing ghats were crowded with pilgrims and devotees taking bath in the river Ganga.

Naatha, I’ve a question,’ Parvathi looked at her consort.

Shiva by his gaze asked, ‘What is it?’

‘It is said in the holy books and also widely believed people taking dips in Ganga attain moksha (salvation from the unending cycle of births and deaths). And look at the crowd here.’

‘So?’

‘If all these people attain moksha and with many more to come – the river is so easily accessible – won’t it get very crowded in the Heavens?’

Shiva smiled, ‘You know, strangely, none of this crowd is going to attain moksha. Except one here, one there. But most of them, no. Let me show you why. Do as I tell you and watch.’

**

Shiva came down to the bathing ghats with Parvathi assuming human forms. He jumped into Ganga and swam up to mid-stream where the currents were strong and waters deep and no one ventured. Putting his hands up, he began shouting frantically for help.

Parvathi in utter despair begged the people on the bank and those nearby in the waters to rush and help him. Many were ready to jump in. That’s when she had a word of caution for them: ‘Only those of you who have no paap (sin) to your account would be able to go across and rescue my husband.’

On hearing this the volunteers one by one dropped away; for none could honestly claim he was free of all paap’s.

With seconds ticking by, Shiva closer to being drowned, Parvathi was helplessly in panic. That’s when a young man came forward in a tearing hurry. Wasting no time, he jumped into the waters.

‘Young man, no use, you know you can help only if…’ shouted someone from the bank.

The young man broke his strokes in the waters long enough to say, turning his head towards the bank, ‘I know I’m not. But I know I’ll be by the time I reach him out there, all my sins washed away by the grace of Ganga Mata.’

**

Back in the skies, Shiva looked at his Devi seemingly to say: ‘Now you know why the Heavens don’t get crowded as you fear. Only those reading the lines and between them carefully of the holy books don’t miss out the essential ingredient for salvation – Faith.’

End

Show And Tell

The hours of darshan were over, curtains drawn and place was getting readied for the discourse scheduled for the evening.

People, mostly middle aged and some old, were settling down on the huge blankets spread out on the floor.

The pravachankaar (speaker), a man of god, clad in ochre robes cleared his throat and got ready to begin. The mike was adjusted for his easy reach. The subject for the evening was ‘Laukeekam (worldly life) and Aanmeegam (spiritual life).’ A vexing subject if not handled right. Essentially a question of how to ride ‘two horses’ at once, with minds of their own?

Just then, a luxury car sailed in outside the temple. First, a lady got down, fussing around collecting from inside a big wicker-plate of fruits and flowers. Obviously for presenting it to the pravachankaar. A man, her husband, joined her. Aware they were holding up the proceedings, she hurried up to the make-shift dais at the far end. Coming up behind her was the man, walking slowly, head up and looking all around the pandal.  Was there a hint of disdain on his visage?

Up at the dais, she paid her obeisance’s, placing the fruits and flowers before the speaker. Among them was also an envelope most likely to contain some cash contribution. Her man stood behind, unmoved.

The man of god blessed the couple. As she turned to move away, the man came up to the pravachankaar and politely inquired if he could do something good for the bhakta’s who had assembled to listen to the discourse. The speaker nodded his assent.

What he did next shocked his good lady wife and others on the dais.

He pulled out wads of currency notes from a pouch he carried and flung them up in the air – one here, one there, another there…

In a moment, there was complete chaos…everyone scrambling to get hold of as much as they could. And some were not above snatching from another’s hands.

That was not all – the crowning ‘glory’ was the sight of the speaker going gung-ho on all fours clutching lustily a few notes in his hand.

The man winked a ‘I told you so…all fakes’ at his wife. She went pale and stood transfixed.

After a few minutes, peace and order returned.

The smug look on everyone’s face said each got his fair share of the windfall– the man had somehow done a good job of covering them equitably.

And now they were ready for ‘Laukeekam and Aanmeegam.’

When they turned their attention to the dais, the speaker was not found to be at his station.

The lady followed by her man made haste to the waiting car saving herself further embarrassment. On the way out she caught the sight of the pravachankaar down on his haunches beside the few old people left sitting out on the action minutes ago, giving them his collection.

His audience was growing impatient over the delay.  

None in the assembly including the speaker presently knew his act was by happenstance a teaser ‘show’ in real of what the discourse to follow was all about: Life for most of us, Laukeekam, is essentially one horse play, the horse guided and goaded in its ride by cries and calls of Aanmeegam.

End

..

Source: Image from Jagran.com

Labor Of Fruits

From Jagadguru Chandrasekhara Swami’s speeches:

 

The flower in a plant/tree is usually is bitter to taste.

When it becomes a budding fruit. It’s astringent in taste (tuvarpu, thurat).

A raw unripe fruit is sour.

It then ripens into a sweet colorful fruit.

It is this ripe fruit that falls to the ground free from its bondage to the tree. Not until then.

When a raw fruit is plucked, ‘tears’ (sap) of ‘sadness’ or ‘reluctance’ ooze out at the (point of) separation of the fruit from the tree.

No such ‘tears’ are shed when a mature fruit falls off the tree.

So with people. For a person, gaining tejas (lustre) and madhuram (sweetness/calmness in disposition) and his progressively breaking his ties with the world around (maya) are mutually reinforcing.

End

Vide Ramesh Babu‎ to ஆன்மீக களஞ்சியம் and image from astroiyengar.com