Category Archives: Religion

Public Or Private?

‘Why is this mark on your forehead?’

‘Shows my allegiance to a sampradaya (a tradition) and its principles.’

‘To claim you live by those principles? Get real, please.’

‘Claim? Oh, no…it’s more to remind myself constantly of the watchful eyes around and not to stray from those principles.’

End

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.

End

In Search of Truth

A story from Paulo Coelho:

The devil was talking to his friends when they noticed a man walking along a road. They watched him pass and saw that he bent down to pick something up.

“What did he find?” asked one of the friends.

“A piece of Truth,” answered the devil.

The friends were very concerned. After all, a piece of Truth might save that man’s soul – one less in Hell. But the devil remained unmoved, gazing at the view.

“Aren’t you worried?” said one of his companions. “He found a piece of Truth!”

“I’m not worried,” answered the devil.

“Do you know what he’ll do with the piece?”

The devil replied, “as usual, he’ll create a new religion. And he’ll succeed in distancing even more people from the whole Truth.”

End

 

The Tiger And The Fox

A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how, perhaps escaping from a trap. A man who lived on the edge of the forest , seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.

Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think: “If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don’t I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?”

Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton. Close to losing consciousness, he heard a Voice which said:

“O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the Truth! Instead of imitating the disabled fox, you should have followed the example of that tiger .”

End

Source: Massud Farzan from spiritual-short-stories.com

Man Is Unique…On Grounds Of Compassion

uthanga

It was one of those times when the sishya (disciple) felt free to air his doubts.

‘Guruji, if god created man why has man not inherited traits of god just as I’ve taken after my father? Why is he not like god? God is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient…while man is not…’

‘Let me tell you a short story. Hope you’ll find your answer.’

“  

One evening there was this man, a poor beggar, going about the streets of Kashi. Perhaps someone who came in search of peace and enlightenment and did not wish to return – Kashi, a city with a hoary past, did that to many.

As he footed the affluent section of the city where the rich merchants trading in silk resided, seeking food, doors were slammed on his face with a look of annoyance.

On the streets housing the workmen and artisans, and also those engaged in religious activities serving the steady inflow of pilgrims – here too he drew a blank.

Now with nowhere else to go, he headed towards the ghats of the river Ganges.

On the way past a garbage dump there was an old leper with visibly advanced affliction readying his dinner spread. Whatever he had managed to collect as alms, he made equal portions for his dog and himself. Just when he was on his first morsel of food, the leper froze seeing the haggard face.

The leper beckoned him to his side: ‘Stranger, come here. Have this – you look bad. Well, it’s not much…might help in refreshing yourself a little.’

The man took a little bit from the outstretched misshapen hand.

‘Know me?’

The leper shrugged: ’How does it matter who you’re? First eat and then talk.’

‘Do you know who I’m?’ the voice was raised a notch.

A certain firmness perceived in the voice made him look up. Was he from the local constabulary in mufti sent to evict him?

Taking a while, ‘You must be Vishwanatha.’ (the presiding deity in Kashi who, it was believed, took rounds of the city from time to time)

He gasped: ‘What makes you say that?’

‘Who else would readily take food without a hint of aversion from a disfigured discard?’

‘It’ll be a sin to deprive you of your food, my friend. Pray, do not worry about me. I’ll find mine.’

The man walked away quietly without looking back.

‘Have you got your answer now?’

‘Yes, Guruji. Seeing his compassion, the leper likened the man to god. So it must be compassion that man has inherited from his creator.’

‘Let me finish – there’s a little more to the story:’

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When he woke up next morning the leper realized he was right about Vishwanatha (Lord Shiva); mercifully, he was cured.’

‘Now what do you make of it?’

‘mmm’

‘My guru provided me an added perspective: God when he is god is just and severe – he lets the laws of Karma prevail remorselessly, to each according to his deeds. His compassion shows only when he manifests as human or, most likely, when he works through one. Could we then say compassion is a trait unique to man?’

It set the sishya thinking.

The guru smiled – he had done his job for the day.

 

End

Seeded from: Heard on MegaTV in a patti-manram program reported by TR Sathya at facebook.com/tr.sathya.3

The Guru Has A Question

The Sishya (disciple) thought aloud: ‘The world is being torn apart by geography, race, gender, culture, religion, language, economic disparity, etc. etc. Strangely these forces unite people at one level and pit them against one another on a larger canvas. Of these religion intended to uplift the mankind seems to be most perniciously divisive.’

‘You’re right,’ concurred the Guru. ‘Religion – every one of them – claims god of its own. And the gods seem to be fighting a proxy war for supremacy through their overzealous faithful on this earth!’

‘That’s an awful thing to say about the gods…er…I mean about the god.’

‘You know what I think? It could well be that the gods already have a truce up there and for fun kept it from them down here.’

‘Watch what you say – you may get hauled up for profanity.’

I’ve just this to ask of the believers:  If you’re the children of a god, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and just and loving, what about them? I mean the others, the multitude, whom you fiercely despise, coerce or even coax. A defective production batch off your god’s factory, to be mended?’

End

The Difference Between Knowledge And Its Practice

The reclusive Uttang Rishi stayed the forests for most of his life with little contact with the rest of the world. It was during one such long stay away from civilization that the war between the rift between the Pandavas and Kauravas ripened to enmity and ended in the calamitous war at Kurukshetra that resulted in the decimation of all the Kauravas. Always in penance the Rishi moved places. Pleased with his sincere devotion, Lord appeared and said, “I wish to grant you a boon, O most righteous sage! What would you ask of me?”

uthanga

Uttang said, Oh Lord “I need nothing! The only thing that I, perhaps, may seek is that I may not lack for water wherever I am, since I travel in wild and inaccessible places.”

Lord replied “Granted!”

Once, Uttang Rishi was traveling through a desert and was afflicted by  severe thirst and could not find any water to drink. He remembered the boon of LORD and besought some water.

Lord summons Indira and instructs him to take the nectar (Amrit) and fulfill the Rishi’s thirst permanently making him immortal. Indira was surprised with Lord’s command as the Nectar was meant for deva’s and not humans. However it was an instruction from the Lord that could not be ignored..

Indira changes his attire He dresses himself as an ugly looking chandala (one who deals with disposal of corpses) and arrives before the Rishi along with a stray dog.   The Rishi is dismayed. He follows the Rishi and pleads him to take the divine water he is carrying from his deerskin container.

Uttang Rishi was aghast. How could he, a Rishi, take water from a chandala? Thrice the chandala offers water and thrice the Rishi refused. The Rishi declares that he would die of thirst rather than drink the water given by him and asks him to leave. The chandala disappears in fraction of a second leaving the Rishi in surprise.

He was pensive when Lord Krishna appeared before him.

Uttang Rishi complained:”Lord! You promised me water whenever I needed it. How could you send it in the hands of a chandala?”

Lord Krishna smiled and said, “O Sage! I asked Indra to give you divine nectar and make you immortal. Indra was hesitant saying that Amrit was not for normal human beings. I told that you were a realised soul and deserved immortality.

Indra felt that if you were truly a realised soul, you would know that all differentiation between people were only the creation of mortals and that all people were the same in the eyes of a realised soul and, thus, if you accepted the nectar from Indra in the guise of a chandala, you would deserve it. I agreed. You let me down…

End

 

 

Credits: Google Images and kmkvaradhan.wordpress.com minimally edited

 

She Has A Reason – An Anecdote From Ramayana

holydham com

This anecdote is almost certainly the product of a vibrant mind immersed blissfully in the vast ocean of Valmiki Ramayana and engaged in creatively fashioning its own nectarine pearls of rich imagination.   If it is indeed drawn from the sage’s original work, am happy to be corrected.

It’s a few days after Sita weds Rama and joins him in his abode in Ayodhya.

One evening, she notices Rama resting at his place after a long tiring day of princely duties.

She sits at his feet and gently presses them with great affection.

Moments later a thought strikes her and she pauses. Carefully she takes off and sets aside the stacks of bangles adorning the forearms of the newly wedded bride.

Rama is curious: ‘Priye (beloved) what are you doing?’

Sita: ‘Prananadha (dear husband), nothing but whatever you’re seeing.’

‘Because they jingle noisily? Pray, do not worry. It’s music to me.’

‘No.’

‘Then?’

‘I learnt you had visited Gauthama Rishi’s ashram some time ago before our marriage.’

‘Yes, you have heard it right.’

‘I also learnt by mere touch of your feet a stone turned into a woman (referring to Ahalya’s redemption from a curse).’

‘Am yet to see the connection.’

‘Really?’

‘Yes, you’re talking in riddles.’

‘Well, I’m justly worried. Now tell me, my swamin, what’ll happen if they ever touch your lotus feet? If you noticed, my bangles are heavily encrusted with (precious) stones.’

” 

It’s amazing how Ramayan and Mahabharat easily lend themselves to such later-day embellishments.

End

 

 

Source: WhatsApp (thru Nithya) and image from holydham.com