Category Archives: Story

‘So, Find A Man Who Always Speaks The Truth’

A Paramacharya anecdote on wearing rudraksha maalai


He had visited Nepal to have darshan at the holy Pashupathinath temple.

On return, he presented himself before the Paramacharya and respectfully offered the temple prasadam and a rare rudraksha maalai (string of rudraksha beads).

‘Did you have a good darshan?’ the old sage inquired.

‘Yes, Sir, by god’s grace and your blessings.’

The sage lifted the maalai in his frail hands.

‘What’re you going to do with this?’

‘If you may kindly permit, I intend wearing it around my neck…’

There was silence.

‘So, you’ll always speak the truth?’

He was startled. ‘Yes, Sir, I’ll henceforth always speak the truth,’ the words almost rolled off his tongue.

He knew it was not possible at all try as he might. In the presence of the sage he would dare to speak untruth.

Holding himself back, ‘No, Sir, it’s impossible for me to be speaking truth at all times.’

‘Why so?’

‘Sir, I work in a bank. The official records are never unmixed truth. Further, if my manager orders me, I would be compelled to…’

‘Take this, if and when you find someone who never speaks untruth, give it to him.’

The man was mighty happy to receive the maalai back from the sage.

Rushing back he said to his wife: ‘Let’s do as you had suggested. We even have His okay. And imagine we never saw we always had someone with us right here with us in this house who never spoke untruth!’

Since then the maalai adorned the sage’s portrait in the pooja room!

The incident was shared some days later by the sage with another man who had come to have darshan: Your relative…that fellow who works in the bank…he has aspects of Harishchandra in this age. He didn’t lie to me he never lies…’





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.


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.


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