Category Archives: Religion

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

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

Charles Schulz Philosophy

      The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just read the e-mail straight through, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.  

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.  

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America.  

 4.Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.  

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winner for best actor and actress.  

6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.  

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.  

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.  

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.  

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

End

Source: Ray’s Daily, Image from Town & Country Magazine   

Arundhati Takes On The Redoubtable Vishwamitra!

Stories in ancient Indian scriptures, legends and myths include a good number of women and instances when they bested the men in the battle of wits. The one readily coming to our mind is Savitri retrieving her husband from the jaws of certain death defeating Yama. And there was Gargi (800 BCE) questioning Yajnavalkya, the first philosopher in the Upanishads, Draupadi in Mahabaratha arguing her case like an attorney when she was dragged to the court of DuryodhanaWhile ancient text of Rig Veda, it’s said, mentions some twenty 20+ poetesses, the Sangam literature in the south is not far behind with 25+ poetesses living in its time 2000 years ago! One of the best known poetess Avvaiyar was bold enough to challenge the powerful Tamil kings. More recently, some 800 years ago(!), there was Lilavati, the renowned mathematician and astronomer Bhaskaracharya II’s daughter, teaching her father’s students math and astronomy and earning so much recognition to even get her own gurukul.

This morning I heard this delightful story on TV told by Shri Anantapadmanabha Swamy, an eminent scholar associated with Ahobila Mutt. Did not readily find any reference in Google in a cursory search except for one site Tamil and Vedas already known to me as an inexhaustible storehouse of information of this kind.  The story here on Arundhati, the wife of Sage Vasishta, is drawn from these two sources, using some parts of text verbatim from the latter:

On one occasion, Vasishta had to perform a shrardha, a ritual dedicated to one’s forefathers (a practice followed by many even today though not with the originally prescribed austerity and rigor), mothers included.

As part of the ritual, a few guests are invited to participate and are provided, at the completion, with meals based on a prescribed menu allowing for a certain latitude. Acting symbolically as forefathers themselves, these guests are special, required to observe diligently certain austerities before and after the shrardha to preserve its sanctity.

And poor Vasishta searched high and low and yet wasn’t successful in finding the right person. As a last resort he approached Sage Vishwamitra who had a long-running feud with the former.

Vishwamitra

Vishwamitra heard him out and gladly agreed to be a guest on one condition. And, what was the condition? He must be served 1008, yes, 1008 side-dishes! Impossible to satisfy! Vasishta returned to his ashram crest fallen not knowing what next.

Arundhati gently inquired what had happened. Vasishta sadly admitted to his inability to find a right person, finally his request to Vishwamitra and how the latter did not make it easy, stipulating an impossible condition for his presence during the ritual.

Thence she assured her husband there was no cause to worry and asked him to invite the rishi stating his condition was acceptable. After all what could be better than having the great Sage Vishwamitra at the shrardha! But how? Vasishta felt quite apprehensive for the rishi was not one to be trifled with – on finding his condition not met, he was sure to fly into uncontrollable rage and cast some abominable curse on both of them. Nevertheless, faced with no alternative, he went ahead and invited the rishi agreeing to his strange condition.

On the day of shrardha, Vishwamitra came and sat at the dining place. To his chagrin he saw only 10+ curries on the plate (plantain leaf). When he angrily questioned, Vasishta, directed him to Arundhati as she was in charge of the ceremony.

Wondering (audibly) if the venerable sage did not know or pretending not to know what the shastra’s (rule-books) said in this regard, Arundhati responded citing a relevant shloka (couplet):

कारवल्लि शांत चैव वज्र वल्लि शतत्रयं
पनसं षट् शतंचैव श्रार्धकाले विधीयते

Kaaravalli satam chaiva vajra valli satatrayam
Panasam shat satam chaiva sraardhakaalE VidhiiyatE

Meaning: “Karela/bitter gourd served on the occasion of a shrardha is equal to 100 items, pirandai equal to 300 items and jack fruit equal to 600 items – thus is the rule set out for the ceremony.”

Pirandai.jpg

Pirandai (Cissus quadrangularis)

Fanas.jpg

Jack Fruit (Panasam)

She had served these three vegetable dishes along with 8 more items on the plate. So it came to 1008 items!

There wasn’t much of a counter left for Vishwamitra to say or do but go along to complete the meal and the ritual.

End

 

 

Sources: tamilandvedas.com/2014/06/09/arundhati-wins-vishwamitra-defeated/ and neevmagazine.co.in/lilavati-the-mathematician/