Faith

Faith is a mighty thing

It can make the mute sing

Faith is a mighty thing

Amidst dismal, joy it shall bring

Faith is a mighty thing

With it, fear shall be ending

To Faith, all ought to cling

For, Faith is a mighty thing ! 

Advertisements

The give and the take of devotion

Kartika masam and Rohini Nakshatram marks the Jayanthi of Thiruppan Azhwar : who derives his name from the instrument he played, soaked in devotion to the Lord. Azhwar is considered the manifestation of the Lords Srivathsa, the insignia of Mahalakshmi as a golden streak on His chest. 

Born to the Panar community in Uraiyur on banks of the Kaveri,Azhwar could have not missed the lofty Rajagopuram of Srirangam. I keep saying it every now and then, and it gives me immense joy in visualising this : three DivyaDesams : Uraiyur, SriRangam and UttamarKovil – are located in a line. Whilst Uraiyur and UttamarKovil are on either sides of SriRangam, on the banks of the Kaveri; SriRangam itself is on the island garlanded by the Kaveri.

Azhwar visits SriRangam, knowing that he was forbidden from entering the temple, he sat beside the river immersed in meditation. Having completely fallen into a trance, Lokasaaranga : the priest was delayed as Azhwar was blocking the way to fetch holy waters to start of the Abhishekam. Irked the priest pelted a stone at the Azhwar : whose reaction is simply amazing. Any layman would cry and curses in pain and ego, the Azhwar gave way regretting that he had delayed the divine service to the Lord. The story goes on about how the priest was rebuked by His Lordship, and how remorsefully Lokasranga carried the Azhwar back to the Temple where Azhwar attained Siddhi. 

A simple lesson for me: you give your body, mind and soul to God; with no expectations in return. That is the give and take of devotion. If one expects something in return of devotion, one might as well be a businessman. About what one deserves, isn’t it best for Him to choose ?

Amalanadipiran, is the 11 stanza work of the Azhwar in pleasant and divine Tamizh. Azhwar pours his hear in eulogies of the Lord of Tirumalai and the Lord of SriRangam. He concludes in the last verse thus : having seen my Lord(for the the very first time in fact ), the embodiment of elixirine bliss, I wish to see no more. These were in fact the last words of the great saint. He saw no more than his Lord !

Such sublime devotion might be quite difficult to comprehend, leave alone practise. Spending more time on thoughts of these great souls is in fact the most refreshing and educating means to raise surging questions on how we connect with God.

A very humble dedication to the great saint.

Thiruppan Azhwar Thiruvadigale Sharanam ! 

He taught me that devotion is not necessarily mellow ! 

The Azhwars from Tamizh Nadu are among those who inspired Swami Vivekananda to quote ” While in the rest of the world, people fall in love; in India, people rise in love“.

These mystic poets are known for their madenning love for their Lordship and profound knowledge of the Vedas and Shastras, supreme control over the Tamizh language and the prolific genius to say the most complicated  Vedic postulates in Sanskrit, in the simplest of Tamizh words.

While each of the 12 Azhwars are above caste, creed, genders and society; every one of these twelve deeply devout (hence Azhwar : Azham in Tamizh is deep) saints has touched me in distinguished modes and today being Thirumangai Azhwar’s Thirunakshatram : I dedicate this writing to his very lotus feet. 

This is not the biography of the Azhwar; but a very personal outlook. Thirumangai Azhwar was a feudal Chief of the city of Thirumangai : which went on to become his identity. We know from many works that it was his consort,Sri Kumudavalli Nachiyar who initiated the Azhwar into SriVaishnavism. 

Such was his dedicated act of charity that he wasn’t left with any treasure to account taxes to the King. With nothing left, the Azhwar indulged in robbery : he stole from the rich to perform Thadiyaradhanai to the poor. By divine intervention, the Azhwar was born out of the stealing feudal chief . 

The Six masterly works of the Azhwar are considered the very 6 angas of the Vedas. The tone of his thoughts continues to amaze me to this day. He has sung to His Lordship as a beloved, as the beloved’s mother and friend, as a devotee, as a Kinkara (servant), and much more. 

Thirumangai Azhwar can easily paint a picture of words of beauty of each DivyaDesam :be it the majestic Kaveri of Srirangam, be it the canopied Thiruvallikeni, the lush green Singavelkundram, the crescendoed Kanchi, the snow capped Salagramam : nothing escapes Azhwar’s skill. One cannot miss the number game Azhwar plays  in his Pasurams : that earns him the title of Chitrakavi

Coming to the very distinguishing impact left behind by Thirumangai Azhwar, it is his demanding debonair; which is very arresting. He can start off by pleading with the Lord, a little of coaxing follows, a plane request and eventually the Lord is held at the end of a dashing knife, if not the razor sharp words of the Azhwar himself – in fact his oneness with the Lord, is a joy to read, listen and learn. He has enjoyed the privilege of biting the divine toes of the Lord of Thirukannapuram, in one of the transcendental ploys.

While the feudal chief put the soul in the scorching sun  and body in the shade, Azhwar put the soul in the shade and body in the scorching sun – so goes a lovely saying in Tamizh. 

The third prakaram of the Srirangam temple complex will continue to remind one and all of this great saint : who could put his all to stake for His Lordship. His heroism will remind me forever, that whilst all earthly belongings are transient, the Lord belongs to one and to all. 

Thirumangai Azhwar thiruvadigale Sharanam! 

Unhealthy Hand-shakes ! 

One of the most mundane and mechanical practices in today’s world is a handshake – so I feel! 

Why it flames the maverick in me, is how one is just expected to fall in line, shake hands and a million strings of judgments attached to it, if one defies. 

The moot point is the research of body language and gestures that goes behind a simple handshake. A firm handshake, an intimidating handshake, the handshake with the right hand advantage and what not. I’m politically convinced with all these findings. Yes, no denying they could all be valid : but one intriguing addition to the colourful variety of these gestures, the way I do it when I don’t want to!

I don’t like shaking hands with strangers, but it apparently shows many things about one self. What remains is my need for some personal room : a ventilated circle around my person – thankfully which is almost an arm’s length in radius. My trick is simple, in situations where I have to extend this namesake cordiality – to a “why do I care who he is” business associate, I use the hand shake to push him out of the circumference of my imaginary personal circle. This strong handshake comes out as a healthy-confident performer- which is an added advantage in the world of corporate hypocrisies. Now that’s my little secret ! Hush ! 

We want to amend and antequate many ancient traditions, with surging questions. In the true spirit of rationalism, do I end with the following questions :

  • One doesn’t  believe in greeting someone with a handshake. Does it make one less civil or less ready for business ? 
  • What would you prefer : a genuine smile or a fake shake ? 
  • Does the maverick deserve at least a modicum of acceptance ? 

PS : if you’re my boss reading this, I love handshakes – they’re the best thing that happened to humanity ūüėä !

Indian health, the Indian way

Winning the rat race will leave one no better than a rat. And that, is one maximally forgotten maxim. We Indians are knitting all possible decors to suit a gaudy corporate life, to such extents, that we have compromised the Indian-ness : that is innate to us. Dis-ease is the inevitable consequence. 

What is ironic is that we are willing to pay to do, what we would have been doing anyway ; if we had remained original personally and adapted professionally- to whatever suits growth!

Here are a few habits I’ve seen dim down over years and that which I can easily link to growing health issues.

1. Prayer and music – Like every typical TamBrahm families my day would (thankfully still) start(s) with recitation of shlokas such as the Venketshwara Suprabhatham, Vishnusaharanam and occasional Veda recitation. To a rationalist; I’d say you’ll realise the positivity of these hymns upon regular recitation. But to these other-wise (pun intended ) : it would interest to note that these hymns in fact are breathing and exercises. An unrealised pranayama through music and hymns. Energises the body, soothes the soul and enstrengthens the heart. But we are people with loads of green paper and can afford exasperatingly priced DVDs of rejuvenation which are recordings of the same hymns and music !

2. Cooking habits – gone are the days of fresh food, thanks to the refrigerator. Machines have encroached our kitchens from all angles, and we take pride in the most undeserving of causes. Gone are the grinding stones and the mortars. When one takes a pranic healing therapy course to get rid of joint issues , one is told to do the same actions whilst grinding food using a grinding stone or mortar. Might as well have stuck to the aboriginal tools – they serve two purposes : health and taste ! 

3. Eating habits – now I chose to split 2 and 3 considering the difference between how we make the food we eat and the actual process of eating. Going further I’ll classify this as

  • How we eat :  Thanks to anglicisation no one sits on the ground with an erect back for a meal, anymore. This would have ensured undisputed perfect digestion and a healthy backbone; but expensive medicos can fix it all for us. On one end we are out yelling to save the planet and plastic plates and forks are indeed the way out. Not to forget tissue paper – that has wiped white the green cover. The Plantain leaf meal – a memory of perfect ecofriendly zest, is today limited to occasions.
  • What we eat : Do we even hear the Sanskrit saying langanam paramoushadham anymore?But yes, we all lend our ears to nutritionists who advise us to eat meagre at night. What is petty and a pity is that whole journey of nutritional research that is experimenting on humanity is still clueless, yet steadfast ! No rice ! No carbs ! Detox ! Keto! No fat! For thousands of years Indians have lived a healthy life with a healthy diet eating rice, consuming fat : quite contrary to all of this! What exists is a lacuna of the medical soundness of the Indian diet and how it ought to be practised. Microwave ovens and refrigeration are inventions that make man proud – I infer from this, that one ends up re-heating and eating stale and insipid  food! There is no respect for the lifetime of a food item – just throw chemicals into it, no one will care and everyone will buy ! That’s one shame game out there !! 

4. Exercise – Whatever happened of Yoga? Whilst the West is fast migrating to this spiritual form of exercise to body, mind and soul – we(Indians) need one man to come forward and coin a Yoga day to get us engligtened about this age old workout technique.

This is my 1, 2, 3, 4 of Indian health the Indian way. It’s a tricky game to plug it in to our rigmaroles, but who benefits if we do ? 

The perfect politicisation of Carnatic music 

I am a staunch believer of our age old and time tested traditional values. That from which we learn to respect and accept every single thought as one that belongs to one of our very own family, the family of God. Yet I write this piece, with immense pain of how one can stoop to the lowest of limits, and still get away with it at ease.

I’m (rather say, used to be) a great fan of Mr. TM Krishna’s outlook for Carnatic music – when in one of his speeches, he said ” There is nothing called classical or folk music ” . Yes, it sounds very reasonable to me, A Tamboori Meetidava is as a classic, as a Samaja Varagamana is, and Carnatic music is learned, listened, practised, presented and taught by folks. Then why a disparage ? 

While I remain an admirer of TMKs shareera, seasoned voice, with incredible reach and range; I’m rather disheartened by the artiste for various reasons, that I find valid.

To start with, every one is entitled to their opinions, but the fact remains that we are all hypocrites and TMK is no superhuman. He claims to have questions with the existing system of Sabha performances and ends up throwing loud opinions on how Carnatic music has become a Brahmin bastion.From a Rasika’s stand point I had nothing to do there : it could have been an easy negligence or an orchestrated avoid, of the constellations of non-Brahmin stars in the Carnatic galaxy, not to forget the support from non Brahmin Rasikas.

Two events followed : one a reveavalation and the other a publication – both took turns and blew off, the laft bit of my flame of fandom for TMK.

TMK, has dared to make remarks of the great sage Tyagaraja in his write up in one our country’s dailys. True again that everyone is entitled to thought. This was pathetically poor research that quoted Krithis of the great saint in bad light : with no understanding of the word or the whole. The artiste has dragged this impudence to the other 2 of the trinities and their discipleship. The fact these Vaggeyakaras were dripping divinity personified, might never appeal to TMK, but his claims are false, that none can deny. A Tyagaraja, who laments by taking the blames for an evil society states in Duddukugala, that how would the Lord be able to forgive him for not looking upon every living being as equal and not considering every parastri(woman) as a manifestation of the divine mother. Why is TMK conveniently ignorant of this ?

I called my TMK mania a day, when he started speaking about politics – the never ending right-left debate; and related it to Carnatic music. If TMKs propaganda is politically motivated; he can come out loud and bold about it. No one is going to call him names. 

Why this under the skin business of claiming to have questions, showing off; in buses, organising fests in hamlets(kuppum), singing with jogappas, teaching at orphanages … ? If someone is true of intent to educate everyone of music, one wouldn’t be busy clicking pictures of the effort; to showcase to the public. 

Why this planned politicisation of the sacred art ? 

Ongi Ulagalandha Uttaman

There are three types of people :

1. Adhama : is one who does not care  for the world. He is selfish and prioritizes his requirements over others, does not care to help others.

2. Madhyama : is one who of course prioritizes himself over others, but once they are done, he may care to help others.

3. Utthama : is one who is selfless and does not mind sacrificing his needs and ambitions to serve others. 

The reason i took this topic, was considering thiruppavai pasuram 3. Andal thayar begins the pasuram invoking the blessings of Trivikrama Perumal as ” Ongi Ulagalandha Uttaman” (= The Uttaman who scaled the skies as Trivikrama). Why does Andal call Vaman or Trivikrama as Uttama? The introspection led to this blog.¬†

This entire cosmos, is created, sustained and dissolved by the Lord. He assigns various offices to manage operations of the cosmos. For instance, Indra for rainfall, Brahma for creator and Rudra for dissolution. When Bali intruded the heavens, and invited Indra for war, Indra rushed to the Lord and sought for help. What did the Lord do in return?

1. The Supreme person chose to become a dwarf, not caring about his status.

2. That Lord who is only used to giving, went to seeking alms, like a pauper.

3. One who is used to giving surrender, went bout to seek surrender from someone.

Clearly Trivikrama perumal deserves to be called “Uttaman”, as Andal puts it.Image

 

Andal Thiruvadigale Sharanam

Azhwar Thiruvadigale Sharanam

Emperumanar Thiruvadigale Sharanam

Thayaar Thiruvadigale Sharanam

Emperuman Thiruvadigale Sharanam