After a long time, I thought I should post about the less known legends about a mighty warrior. The warrior is none other than Bhima. The second of the Pandavas, he is known for his power and might in the warfront. Bhima is said to be a relentless warrior when it comes to the battlefield. He is said to have possessed the power of a ten thousand elephants. This mighty warrior, in reality, was such a soft-natured, honest, unswerving towards faith and justice and at times humorous too. Here are the less known legends that depict these characterisitics.

The first one goes like this. During his exile, Bhima was wandering in the forests and there he met with a rhinoceros. The rhino got agitated by a human presence and went raging towards Bhima. The rhinoceros then shouted at Bhima saying that Bhima was his slave as he has ventured into its territory. Bhima identified himself as one of the Pandavas and he is the mightiest in the world, in spite of that he also explained that he did not want any confrontation as they both have no enemity. He also said that he was willing to leave the territory at once. However, the raging rhino wanted a confrontation eventually leading to a fight. Bhima refused for a physical battle and said he will leave at once. The rhino not convinced wanted to somehow to enslave Bhima and threw a challenge before him. The challenge was that Bhima has to run ahead and the rhino will chase him. If the rhino catches before his territory ends, Bhima will be its slave, however if Bhima goes past its territory, he is free to go.

Bhima agreed to the challenge and started his run furiously, the rhino chasing him equally furious. The chase went on for sometime, and even at times, the rhino nearly caught Bhima. And when Bhima neared the end of the rhino’s territory, he jumped to the free himself from the clutches of the rhino. While half of his body cross the border, unfortunately, the rhino caught hold of Bhima’s legs just within the end of its territory. Now Bhima exclaimed that he has reached the end of the rhino’s territory and hence he was free. The rhino argued that it caught Bhima right within its territory and that it did not venture out of its territory to catch Bhima and hence Bhima was its slave. Bhima though he said that he has crossed the border, could not deny the rhino’s claims. So, he suggested that they call his brother Dharmar (Yudishtra) to arbitrate on this controversy. The rhino agreed, as Dharmar is known for his unswerving attitude towards justice.

Dharmar came to arbitrate on this issue and heard to the arguments of the both the parties. It was indeed a tough decision to make as his brother Bhima made it to be out of the territory, however, the rhino’s claim that it caught Bhima’s legs from within its territory was quite valid. Then Dharmar came to a decision and told the rhino to take that half of the Bhima’s body that the rhino caught within its territory and to leave the rest of the body free. That could not happen without killing Bhima. The rhino was moved by this verdict, in spite of Bhima being his brother, Dharmar gave a verdict that was just and fair. So, the rhino blessed him and left Bhima free and gave Bhima a wish that half of Bhima’s body will be bestowed with the powers of the Rhino. From then on, half of Bhima’s body looked armoured like that of a rhino. Though Bhima was powerful enough to fight a rhino, he did not blindly make use of his powers to fight the rhino that he never knew before. This stands as a proof that Bhima used his physical prowess wisely and only in times of need.

The second one is about faith, though it might look a bit mythical, the message this one conveys is very good and important too. Arjuna was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna, he used to perform a lot of poojas during the day with lots of flowers offered to Lord Krishna. But Bhima would loiter aimlessly in the garden, plucking flowers and closing his eyes, smelling the fragrance of the flowers and they throwing them away. He used to do this, sometimes, for the whole day. This made Arjuna proud that he is offering more prayers and flowers to Lord Krishna than Bhima does and hence is a much better devotee of Lord Krishna. That night, Arjuna had a strange dream. He was walking along the country, where he saw loads and loads of bullock carts, fully loaded with flowers walking their way across the country and towards the skies. He was puzzled about how bullock carts were making their way to the skies. He enquired one of the persons who was riding the cart, the rider answered that the carts were carrying flowers offered by devotees to Lord Krishna and they were en route to the heavenly abode. Arjuna was surprised and asked the rider who the devotee was. The rider uttered the name Bhima. Arjuna was surprised, he then started asking the names of the devotees to each rider thereafter, all of them answered it was Bhima except the last one who answered that it was Arjuna. Arjuna was totally puzzled, how come Bhima who just wanders along the gardens, plucking flowers, smelling them and throwing them away could have offered so many flowers while Arjuna performing poojas throughout the day offered only one load full. He was puzzled and woke up to realise that he got the message in the dream. The next day morning, he found Bhima as usual in the gardens doing the same thing, he went to Bhima and asked why he was plucking flowers, smelling the fragrance the throwing them away. Bhima responded saying that when he plucks the flowers he closes his eyes, prays to Lord Krishna that the flower in his hand is for the lotus feet of Lord Krishna; then smells the fragrance and throws them away. He considers this to be an offering to Lord Krishna and he has been performing this all through the day. Arjuna realised that true faith is not just by lavish offerings but through immersing the soul and thought in the pure faith in Lord Krishna, and fell at Bhima’s feet for teaching him the lesson.

The third one is a bit humorous but does conveys a very deep meaning that for doing good deeds there is no good time or bad time. It has to be performed immediately then and there. One evening when Dharmar was in the palace, a poor man came for alms. In those days and even today, it is a practice that if the lights are lit in the homes in the evening, people don’t give away money, gold or loan of items (esp. money, if not others). That day the palace was lit for the evening and as it was a customary not to give away money/gold, he asked the poor man to come the next day, as the palace has been lit. Suddenly, Bhima went shouting all over the palace that his brother has transcended “time” and has become immortal. He bounced like anything in joy and was shouting like the merriest person in the whole world. Dharmar could not understand, he was smiling at the unusual act of Bhima however Dharmar was a bit annoyed thinking that Bhima was making fun at him. He stopped Bhima and asked him why he behaved like that. Bhima politely answered – “Brother, time is indeterminate and unpredictable. Everything around us is an illusion, the one who lives today thinking that he will live for long vanishes tomorrow”. Bhima continues “I am not sure you will live tomorrow, or I will live tomorrow and such is the nature of our lives. When you said for sure that you will give alms to that poor man the next day. It seemed to me that the only possibility to say those words was only if you were immortal. And, so, I jumped out in joy”. Dharmar realised that Bhima was right and good deeds have no excuses to be postponed and he immediately gave the alms to the poor man and sent him. Dharmar was proud of his brother and thanked him.

Bhima has stood the test of time for being the most mightiest man on earth. The legends too will stand the test of time. Though Hercules, Bhima’s western counterpart, is remembered more in the west. The analogy for power and might in India is Bhima, let us remember Bhima not only for his might, but also for his witty characteristics that these legends say.

More to come, until then..


Kali Yugam, the last of the four Yugams in the Hindu Cosmology. It is a dreaded yugam where things will be a haywire, where virtues (dharmam) are ignored and neglected. The Kali Yugam lasts for 4,32,000 years according to the Hindu Cosmology and once Kali Yugam ends, the cycle of the other Yugams – Satya or Krita (17,28,000 years), Treta (12,96,000 years), Dwapar (8,64,000 years) – take over. More details about these calculations and other information about these yugams in the upcoming posts. Don’t hasten yet about Kaliyugam’s end because we are just in the beginning, only about 5110 years have passed we still have a lot to go. Kaliyugam is dreaded because, legend says people live a short life unlike the people in the other yugams; in Krita yugam, people have life until their bones exist; in Treta, until their flesh lasts; in Dwapar, until the last drop of blood – remember Bhishma; and in Kali Yugam, people live until they eat food, once the food reserves in the body are gone, they die. That is the reason saints and mahans profess people to donate food which is a good deed in the Kali Yugam.

I have already posted about the happenings in the Kali Yugam in one of the earlier posts, Kumaresa Sadhagam. However, there is an interesting legend, an upakadhai of the Mahabharatha, that illustrates the effects on the onset of the Kaliyugam. Mahabharata and the Kurukshetra War happened at the end of the Dwapar Yugam. The story beautifully explains the infamous nature of the Kali Yugam. In fact, I plan to start of another blog, writing these stories, in Tamil, that I heard from my parents, grandparents and read from sources that I don’t remember now, but these legends have stayed evergreen in my memory.

Now, the legend. The Kurukshetra War was over, the Pandavas won the battle. Dharmaraja (Yudhistra) also called Dharmar, is known for holding the values of Truth (Satya) and Righteousness (Dharma) and hence the name Dharmar. He ascended the throne after the Kurukshetra War and his subjects lived peacefully and happily in his righteous reign. Then came this strange but interesting case.

Dharmar was in his court, along with his brothers and Lord Krishna. Two farmers came to him for deciding on a certain case. Of the two farmers, one sold his land to the other, lets call them the buyer farmer and the seller farmer. The deal was done and the seller received his payment from the buyer. The buyer after a few days of buying that land from the seller, starting ploughing and digging that land, and he struck some priceless treasure of rare gems and gold. The buyer was honest enough, so he took that treasure and went to the seller saying that he had paid only for the land and not for the treasure in it and the rightful owner of the treasure is the seller. The seller being equally honest told that the sale of the land has been done and anything from the land does not belong to him anymore and he said that the rightful owner was the buyer.

Both did not come to an agreement and thats when the dispute started (Strange isn’t it, but remember that was in the Dwapar Yugam :)) and finally they decided to have it settled at Dharmar’s court. The next day they went to Dharmar’s court and explained the situation. Dharmar was really happy to see his subjects so righteous and he said that he felt really proud of both of them because of their righteousness. And Dharmar told that he does not want to give a verdict that will cause other to feel bad and asked them to both make a decision in his court. The farmers decided unanimously that the treasure be in possession of Dharmar until they come up with a decision and once they have decided who is to have the treasure, they will get it from Dharmar. Dharmar felt that it sounded like a plan and gave a nod. The farmers went for the moment leaving the treasure in Dharmar’s possession. Dharmar felt really proud of the farmers’ act.

Time passed by and things went on fine, until the same farmers who came to Dharmar’s court came again with a different view of the earlier case. The buyer farmer now claimed that the treasure is his as he has paid the seller for the land and whatever he gets, either crops or whatever, is his. The seller farmer’s argument was that he sold only the land and not the treasure, if he had known about that treasure, he would have either took it himself before the sale or would have charged the amount in the sale price. The farmers were arguing with the points reversed from their stand in the case when came earlier to Dharmar. Lord Krishna who watched all this smiled at Dharmar, who was confused a lot about this case. It was a case where the plaintiff and defendant had self-contradictory views over a period of time. He thought for a moment and gave the verdict that the treasure belongs to the government giving his explanation as follows.

The land of the buyer, which was previously with the seller before that sale, falls into his Empire. So all the thiings belong to his Empire unless it was a reward for some effort made towards a claim. In addition, the treasure was not the benefit of any effort made by either of them and hence the King (himself) vests all the right to property and possession of the treasure. The treasure shall be used for the benefit of the people of his Kingdom. The farmers were disappointed, but they could not fight the King and went back.

Now Lord Krishna rose to the fore and told Yudhistra that the time has come for them to leave this planet as He has seen the indications that Kali Yugam has started. And once Kali Yugam starts, they had no business there. Dharmar asked how Lord Krishna told that there are indications of Kali Yugam. Lord Krishna replied, that Dharmar who had the held the values of Truth and Righteousness, has slipped in the above case. Lord Krishna proceeded saying that though Dharmar had mentioned that the treasure will be used for the benefit of the people of his Kingdom, he had no right on the treasure and yet he found out justifications in the name of righteousness. And that, is the indication of Kali Yugam’s arrival, even the most righteous will fall victims to circumstances and try to plunder and covet other’s property. Dharmar realised his mistake and did as Lord Krishna suggested and the left Earth in a vimanam for good.

The aforesaid story clearly explains the spell Kali Yugam has even on the people who are determined. Think about the common man like you and me, unless the person has a great grit and determination to stand for the good, circumstances will lead him to unrighteous and immoral paths very easily, thereby taking them spiritually away from the path of Salvation. Of course, we can realise that with the events happening around us today, Kali yugam has a bad spell on everything that is on the planet, but this is just the beginning and there is a long way to go. Imagine the plight and sorrow people will have at the end. Legend says that at the end of the Kali yugam, human race will get to be contained within a feet or so. The mention about human race getting contained within a feet or so is unclear whether humans will grow only a feet or so tall, or will be contained within something that is a feet or so high, however a movie that has brought this legend to visual interpretation is “The Matrix” and the avatar, Kalki, will incarnate to rescue the people from their sorrows and plight. Nobody knows how the Kalki Avatar will be, but it is mentioned as the most modern of Avatars. Time has the answer, we will have to wait for nearly 4,27,000 years to see that…

More to come, until then…

Maayai – Illusions in life – is an elusive term that reflects the unsteady state of human life. Philosophers and Saints who achieved realisation say that everything around us and we ourselves are the facets of illusion or illusion itself. But that definition does not seem to give a complete insight or understanding to a layman about what Maayai actually is. This is where our great epics – The Ramayanam and The Mahabharatham – come to deal with such situations. Though the mainline of these epics is well known to the world, there are many stories/legends that come along with the mainline of these epics. They ancillary legends are called the Upakadhai meaning stories that form as an ancillary part. They line and the situations mentioned in these Upakadhai are a bit different from the main epic, but the characters involved in the Upakadhais are the same as those in the main epic.

Well, lets get back to our Maayai concept. Though people have explained pages and pages of things about this, the Upakadhais explain it in a very simple manner that whole concept is understood to people of all categories. One such story comes from Mahabharatham. The story goes like this.

Once Naradhar had the same question that we have started here. What is Maayai? He asked various people and saints he knew, but nobody gave him an answer that was so satisfactory. So he wanted to know a concrete answer to that question. Finally he went to Lord Krishna and asked the question. Lord Krishna promised to give him an answer so concrete that Naradha would completely understand what Maayai was. Lord Krishna also told Naradha that He will take him somewhere the next day to show and explain what Maayai was. Naradha agreed.

The next morning, Lord Krishna and Naradha started very early that Naradha could not find time to take his bath. On the way, Naradha found a pond and said to Lord Krishna that he will be back in a few minutes after taking his bath immersing himself in the pond. Lord Krishna agreed to it and asked him to be back quickly as they would be late to where they are heading. Naradha consented and went ahead to the pond. This is when the Omnipotent Being, Lord Krishna, got prepared to unleash the Maayai. When Naradha immersed completely inside the water, Lord Krishna unleashed Maayai and thats where things started for Naradha.

Then later, both were walking for a long distance. Lord Krishna felt very thirsty and asked Naradha to go get some water in house that visible at short distance from where they were. Until then Lord Krishna said that he will take rest under a tree.

Naradha went to that house to get some water. When he went inside the house calling for people in there, a beautiful and charming young lady appeared from the house and asked what he wanted. He was taken aback by the beauty of that girl and he lost himself. He fell madly in love with that girl and wanted to marry her. Naradha completely forgot about Lord Krishna asking water. He was completely obsessed that only girl’s beauty was in his eyes.

He wanted to marry her and spoke to his father saying that he was Naradha, son of Brahma, The Creator. The girl’s father consented to Naradha marrying the girl. The wedding was over and the couple lived happily ever after for twelve years. They had 12 children and the family became big and so was its burden. The family was getting into poverty as Naradha could not manage such a big family. Every day was painfully bad because of the increasing poverty.

One day rains poured heavily that started to cause floods in that area. Naradha with all his family members was sitting together in the old dilapidated hut. He grasped as many children as the others cuddled together. Slowly the flood waters began to rise and washed away Naradha’s home and children. He grasped to the hands of as many children as he could and took a few in his shoulders so that they could be in safety. When the floods washed them, Naradha caught hold off a branch of a tree and stayed in safety with a few children on his shoulder and in his grasp. Slowly the floods started to gain speed and washed away all the children. Naradha was exhausted, that he could not move or hold on anymore and the floods were continuously rising and he was immersed completely.

And then he mustered his energy to pull himself out of water and with a big gasping sound for a breath of air, he came out of the water. And then he realised, that he was in the pond that he immersed himself to take bath. He was shocked to see that he did not move out of the pond and yet he had the pleasurable and worst experiences in life. By then he heard Lord Krishna saying, “Naradha, why is it taking you 45 minutes to immerse yourself and take a bath?” Naradha was more shocked when Lord Krishna said this.

He came out of the pond and asked Lord Krishna about all this. He said that he had spent 12 years of life that was peaceful and miserable, but how come just 45 mins have passed. Lord Krishna smiled at Naradha and told – “That is Maayai (that 12 years of his life)”. Naradha fell at his feet.

Well that is one fine story that explains a subtle concept in a simple manner. These stories are not only easy to understand, but they also contain a great message that does not need any special learning to understand it. Though these stories might sound like a fairy tale suitable for children, they explain concepts that have been explained in Physics (Concept of time dilation as in this story), Management etc. These stories have to be interpreted correctly that they will serve a greater purpose to every aspect of human life.

Let us find out and preserve these Upakadhais as we do with our epics so that they are not only interesting to hear, but also mention the various facts of our lives.

More to come, until then…

Ravana is known to most of us as a demon king, and is portrayed as a person with moral turpitude etc, because he abducted Seetha and slayed many without mercy. But the fact is that Ravana is a great and a scholarly person admired by many. He mastered all the 64 forms of art and is a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was a great singer and his eloquence and the knowledge can be realised through the song that he composed, which is being sung as the Shiva Thandava Sthothram even today. The song is so majestic and is in praise of
Lord Shiva.

The legend about this song goes like this. Ravana ruled Sri Lanka and wanted to worship Lord Shiva at Kailash, but when he went to Kailash and prayed Lord Shiva to appear before him, Lord Shiva did not. So Ravana got frustrated and wanted to show his strength, so he lifted Himalayas with all his twenty hands. The entire place shook like anything and Goddess Parvathi feared, when the place shook like earthquake striking. Lord Shiva then pressed the mountain with his feet and Ravana got crushed under the weight of the Himalayas and could not bear the weight of it and prayed to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva bestowed him, and then Ravana sang this song which was called the Shiva Thandava Sthothram. Hear to this and we can see the eloquence and the majestic composition, though in Sanskrit, it has the good rhythm, alliteration and resounding beauty. The pdf version can be found here.

Please wait until the song loads…

Download Shiva Thandava Sthothram

He is a man who patronised art and respected people with artistic skills. There is also a legend where he called Agathiar for a music competition, it was a very tough competition. The task was to make a mountain made of gold to melt just by singing. Agathiar won the competitionas the mountain melted for Agathiar’s music and song. Ravana accepted his defeat and gave a word to Agathiar that he will not disturb him and the people living near Agathiar’s place. Thus he respected a learned person like Agathiar.

He was a brave warrior and also is enduring is doing great penance that he was gifted with various powers. He is said that have had the scars of an elephant’s tusk, Vishnu’s Chakram and many others after fighting with them. He also had all the nine planet’s, Indran and all the devars under his feet. His braveness, his enduring penance and nobility have earned him a crowned name that only one person has this crown. He has the name Eashwaran adorned to his name and called as Elangeshwaran. The other person is the planet Saturn (Saneeshwaran). No other person, who is not a manifestation of Lord Shiva bears the name Eashwaran to his name. Such a fame could not be achieved easily, Saneeshwaran got his name, because he put everybody to test for a period of 7.5 years without mercy or bias. He does not even leave out even if they are Gods. Likewise, Ravana also has the endurance in achieving a power by severe penance.

There is another legend that says Ravana was a Dhvarapalaga (Gate keeper) of Lord Vishnu’s heaven, the Thirupar Kadal (The Ocean of Milk). Once upon a time, he and his friend another Dhvarapalaga were guarding the gates. Then one Rishi came to worship Lord Vishnu, but they both denied the entry, because it was the resting time for Lord Vishnu. But the angry Rishi, cursed them that they both be born in earth and suffer. They both worried and asked for mercy, the Rishi told that Lord Vishnu will tell the way for their salvation. When both the Dhvarapalagas fell at the feet of Lord Vishnu, Lord Vishnu gave them an option. Either they can choose to life seven lives as a good devotee and then attain salvation or live 3 lives as an opposer and enemy of Lord Vishnu and attain salvation. Ravana chose to oppose and attain salvation and reach Lord Vishnu in 3 lives, because he felt that he could not be away from Lord Vishnu for seven lives. So he became a demon and he was born as Eranyan, Mahabali and then Ravanan, later attained the Dhvarapalaga status again.

Ravana also followed, even in his deathbed, the discipline that a student has to give to his teacher. When Ravana was defeated by Lord Rama, he was in his deathbed and breath the last few moments of his life. Then Lord Rama, the incarnate of Lord Vishnu, knew about his knowledge and wisdom and told his brother Lakshmana, not to think bad or low about Ravana, because he is not only a demon king, but also a great scholar and a discipline man, and to see it for Lakshman to see it for himself asked him to go to Ravana and know about the procedure to wage a war. Lakshmana still not convinced that Ravana was a great scholar and a disciplined man, went and stood near Ravana’s head and told that he came to Ravana just because his brother Lord Rama, told him ask Ravana about the procedure to wage a war. Ravana, with a smile asked Lakshmana whether he learnt any discipline in his gurukulam. Lakshmana was shocked to hear that. Ravana continued saying that Lakshmana is asking him the procedure to wage a war and that he is in the position of a student and Ravana himself is in the position of a teacher. So, it is not a disciplined behaviour to stand near the teacher’s head and ask questions and ordered Lakshmana to come near his feet and ask his question. Lakshmana felt ashamed, went near his feet and heard to the last minute lectures of Ravana and realised what Lord Rama told him. And then Ravana got a deep reverence in the hearts of Lakshmana.

The sculpture of Ravana lifting Mount Kailash and Lord Shiva as Kailasanathar on top pressing the mountain with his feet is found in the 1,500 year temple Keezhapazhayaarai near Kumbakonam. It is believed that on worshipping this Kailasanathar, people get their debts cleared and acquire wealth and prosperous life. It is also said that famous Emperor King Rajaraja Cholan worshipped this Kailasanathar daily when Keezhapazhayarai was the capital city during the Chola reign. Photos of Keezhapazhayarai can be found in a previous post – Great temples in desolate ruins

Ravana, though he is portrayed as villain, is respected and honoured for his scholarly knowledge. Those qualities of wisdom would heralded for ages to come and his name and fame will exist for all time till Lord Rama’s name exists. Let us respect him for his knowledge, wisdom and discipline which even the God’s speak of respectfully.

More to come, until then…

Lord Rama, the seventh of the Dasavatharam (Ten Incarnations) of Lord Vishnu, is the most worshipped God in the country, with more epics written in his name of which the Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit and Kamba Ramayana in Tamil being the two most prominent ones. Those great epics were not just because Lord Rama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, but also for the qualities and the character Lord Rama possessed. A loving son to his parents, a kind brother to his younger brothers, a loyal husband to his wife, a generous and great king to the subjects of his kingdom, a merciful but brave warrior to his enemy – Ravana, A true friend to his friends, A wise guide to his disciples (Hanuman) and so on. The qualities that Lord Rama embraces are the most liked qualities of everybody. A man with these qualities having epics written in his name is no wonder to us. And also the man possessing these divine qualities can be considered God. People have realised this and have sung many songs, of which the ones that inspired me a lot are from Kambar and Sivavaakiyar. Yes, Sivavaakiyar he wrote Sivavaakiyam and then became a Vaishnavite and his name was called Thirumazhisai Azhwar, which is when he sang the song about Lord Vishnu and his avatars.

The following two songs are by the Kavi Chakravarthi Kambar

“Naadiya Porul Kaikoodum Gnanamum Pugazhum Undaam
Veediyal Vazhiyadhagum Veriyankamalai Nokkum
Neediya Arakkar Saenai Neeru Pattazhiya Vaagai
Soodiya Silayiraaman Tholvali Kooruvaarukkae”

meaning, The people who chant and praise the valiant Lord Rama’s adorned with the Vaagai flower garland after defeating and decimating the great army of demons, will attain the things that they went in search of; They will attain all the knowledge and fame; Their home and family will be in good welfare; Goddess Lakshmi will bestow her blessing and good wealth.

Naadiya – Search, Reach
Porul – Things
Kaikoodum – Materialise, be fruitful
Gnanam – Knowledge
Pugazh – fame
Undu – Exist, happen
Veediyal – Veedu (Home, Family) + Iyal (Discipline, Order, Welfare)
Vazhi – Path
Kamalai – Goddess Lakshmi
Nokkum – Bestow, See
Neediya Arakkar – Large Demons
Saenai – Army
Neeru – Ash
Pattazhiya – Decimated
Vaagai – The garland that the warriors used to adorn when the win in a battle
Soodiya – Adorn
Silayiraaman – Lord Rama
Tholvali – Strong shoulders; The valiance is always measured my the breadth and the strength of one’s shoulders
Kooruvaar – People chanting, uttering

“Ramanaai Vandhu Thondri Raavanan Thannai Veeti
Tharathalam Muzhuthum Kaathu Thambiyum Thaanumaagap
Paraaparamaagi Nindra Panbinai Pagaruvaargal
Narapathiyakip Pinnum Namanaiyum Velluvaarae”

meaning, He incarnated as Lord Rama and defeated Ravana. Saved the entire planet from Ravana. Then He and His brother Lakshmana stood as Divine Omnipresent Beings. And those who chant these qualities of Lord Rama, will become Kings and will even win Yama, the life taker.

Ramanaai – As Lord Rama
Vandhu – Coming, Incarnating
Thondri – Come into existence, being born
Raavanan – Ravana
Thannai – Pronoun refering Ravana
Veeti – Defeating
Tharathalam – The earth
Muzhuthum – fully
Kaathu – Save
Thambi – Brother
Thaanum – pronoun referring Lord Rama
Paraaparam – Divine Omnipresent Being
Nindra – Exist, stood
Panbu – Characteristics
Pagaruvaargal – People who chant (Pagar) the name of Lord Rama
Narapathi – King/Leaders of humans
Pinnum – Later
Naman – Yama
Velluvaar – Win over someone

There is legend that Lakshmana is considered to the incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s 5 headed snake mount called Adhi Sheshan. Adhi Sheshan wished to be near Lord Vishnu in his Rama avatar so he was born as Lord Rama’s brother Lakshmana

This song is by Sivavaakiyar

“Andhikaalam Uchchi Moodrum Aadukindra Theerthamum
Sandhi Tharpanangalum Thapangalum Sebangalum
Sindhai Mevum Gnanamum Thinam Sebikkum Mandhiram
Yendhai Rama Rama Rama Vennum Naamamae”

meaning, The three time periods during the day (The dawn, the dusk, the noon); The bathing sacred waters; The offerings to the ancestors offered during dawn and dusk; The divine chantings; The knowledge the resides in the mind, all of these chant the only mantra, the name of my dear Father like God, Rama Rama Rama.

Andhi – period of time referring to either dawn or dusk, usually dusk
Uchchi – Noon
Moondru – Three, in this context the three time periods
Aadukindra Theertham – The sacred water like rivers where people bathe
Sandhi Tharpanangal – Offerings to ancestors and Gods during the dawn and dusk
Sebangal – Chantings
Sindhai – Mind
Mevum – Occur, Reside
Gnanam – Knowledge
Thinam – Daily
Sebikkum – Chanting
Mandhiram – Mantra
Yendhai – My Father
Rama Rama Rama – Chanting in praise of Lord Rama
Naamam – Name

The next song is about the greatness of the two letter tamil word Rama (Ra, Ma)

“Nanmayum Selvamum Naalum Nallkumay
Thinmayum Paavamum Sidhaindhu Thaeyumae
Jenmamum Maranamum Indri Theerumaey
Inmayey Rama Endra Irandu Ezhuthinaal”

meaning, All the goodness and wealth will come to us; The pains and the sins will get defaced and erased; The tribulation of birth and death will get over; All just by uttering the two lettered word (in Tamil) Rama in this birth

These songs come out of a realised mind. In fact, some people have the practice of praying to Lord Rama and Lakshmana, when they go on a long travel. There is a belief when people pray and utter the names of Rama and Lakshmana when they go on a travel, they will return back safely without trouble. And that is backed by a legend in Ramayana, where Sage Vishwamitra uttered the name Rama and Lakshmana and took them to the forest to kill Thadagai, the female demon, and returned safely to the country.

Nowadays, many argue the existence of Lord Rama in the Treta Yuga, but it is an undeniable fact that the qualities described about Lord Rama, stand as a proof and as a guide and principle on how a man should lead his life peacefully. If not all, at least a few of those qualities will really make mankind to live peacefully and happily. And uttering Lord Rama’s name has brought fame to many people who were unknown to the world before they chanted this Divine name. Valmiki for example was a thief and he uttered the name Ram in reverse MRa, the first time he tried to utter, but he was hailed for his great epic the Ramayana. And so is Kambar hailed has the Kavi Chakravarthi, just because of his work the Kamba Ramayanam. The devotion to this incarnation is a real great thing to be revered and chanted for time to come. And because Hanuman enjoys himself in hearing and being the disciple of Lord Rama, He is a Chiranjeevi (immortal). Let us get all the good things in our life by chanting the divine name “Rama”

More to come, until then…

We have seen morals being depicted in various ways, that are being passed from our ancestors since time immemorial. Morals are depicted as pictures, drawings and even in religious stories. In fact even in our schools, there was a subject called Moral Science (Ozhukka Kalvi) that taught about virtuous behaviour etc. In many of its forms, the morals being presented, the expression through fables is the most fascinating and interesting and still loved by many. The way the fables are expressed arouses the interests of many. At times, there is even a subtle humour involved in it, so that it is remembered for a long time. Even Tamil literature has these fascinations represented umpteen songs. Lets see some of the songs that have a subtle humour in them.

The first song goes like this

“Kari Oruthingal Aaru Kaanavan Moondru Naalum
Irithalai Putril Naagam Indru Unum Irai Eethendru
Virithalai Vedan Kayil Vilkudhai Narambai Kavvi
Nariyanaar Patta Paadu Naalaiyae Paduvar Maadho”

meaning, a greedy fox that planned on eating the dead elephant, the dead hunter and the dead snake all by itself, bit the string of the bow and died.

Kari – Elephant
Oru – One
Thingal – Month, Moon, Monday
Aaru – Six
Kaanavan – Person living in the forest, Hunter
Irithalai – Run quickly
Putru – Snake mound
Naagam – Snake, Cobra
Indru – Today
Unum – Eating
Irai – Food
Eedhu – Referring to the subject
Virithalai – The head with hairs untied
Vedan – Hunter
Kayil – Hand
Vil – Bow
Narambu – String in the bow
Kavvi – Grab by mouth
Nariyanaar – Fox
Patta Paadu – Troubles faced
Naalaiyae – Tomorrow
Paduvar – Feel, experience
Maadho – An interjection

The story behind the song is as follows. Once a hunter went to a forest to hunt an elephant, he found an elephant and threw a spear at it killing the elephant. While throwing the spear, a snake bit the hunter and he fell dead. The hunter fell on the snake while falling dead and killed the snake too. A fox that came by, saw these three dead and being a treasure trove of food. It went greedy and thought of having all the food by itself. So it started planning, it thought that it will eat the elephant for six months, the hunter for three days and the snake as today’s meal. So it wanted to pull out the snake that was underneath the hunter. But mistakenly, it bit the string of the bow that the hunter was carrying. The string was cut and the bow stretched rapidly killing the fox. The greedy fox died in an instant. The moral is that greediness puts people in trouble and at times even puts an end to them. The humour part is the fox biting the string of the bow instead of the snake. If we imagine the sequence of events happening in our mind we can feel the humour and the moral inculcated in this song.

The next one is similar to an one old saying that is

“Dhushtanai Kandaal Dhoora Vilagu”

meaning, get away from a bad guy, because he will bring trouble to us unnecessarily. The following song illustrates such concept and if we correlate the this saying with the song, we can see the subtle humour involved

“Vaanaram Mazhaithanil Nanaiya Thookkanam
Thaanoru Nerisolla Thaandi Pithidum
Gnanamum Kalviyum Navindra Noolkalum
Eenarukku Uraiththidil Edar Adhu Aagumae”

The song illustrates, a monkey drenched in rain, destroying the nest of the weaver bird when the bird advised the monkey.

Vaanaram – Monkey
Mazhai – Rain
Nanaiya – Drenched, become wet
Thookkanam – Weaver bird
Thaan – a reflexive pronoun
Oru – One
Neri – Moral,
Solla – Telling
Pithidum – Break or destroy something
Gnanam – Knowledge
Kalvi – Education
Navindra – Learnt, studied
Nool – Texts
Eenar – mean people
Uraithal – Telling, teaching
Edar Adhu Aagumae – will result in trouble

The story behind this song goes like this. Once a monkey drenched in the rain was walking in the forest. A weaver bird saw the monkey drenched, and advised the monkey that if it had built a home like the nest it had, the monkey would not have been drenched in the rain. On hearing this, the monkey destroyed the weaver bird’s nest. Likewise, giving advice about knowledge and education to mean people results in trouble.

If we correlate the above saying and the events in the songs, along with bringing a visual image of the event, the subtle humour could be understood along with the moral. Had the weaver bird kept its mouth shut, it would have saved its nest. So the moral is before giving advice, understand the character of the person getting the advice. If the person happens to be mean, the advice will result in trouble.

Though people at times don’t to hear morals just because it is boring and irritating , but these fables mingled seamlessly with a moral is interesting always.

More to come, until then…

Vasuki, the name that has stood from the days of the legend till date. Vasuki refers to two identities, one is the five-headed snake that was used as a rope, tied around Mount Meru to churn the ocean of milk to get the Amirdham, the sacred potion that would give immortality. The other identity is the female icon who is eulogised as an epitome of chastity and the devotion to her husband has exalted her in the minds of the Tamil people and also considered virtuous. She is considered equal to Kannagi, Savithiri, Nalaayini and other women whose devotion to their husband exalted them in the minds of the people.

Devotion to the husband does not mean that the wife is a slave, and nobody in the legend and real life treat them that way. Devotion means the understanding, the belief and the faith they had in their spouse. This devotion also applies to men. And Lord Rama stands as an example of a devout husband by being an “Eka Pathini Viradhan” meaning, a devout husband to one and only wife.

Vasuki Ammaiyar was a devout wife of the great Thiruvalluvar, who wrote the 1330 couplets of the Thirukkural. Her exaltation was due to the fact of her devotion to her husband and the great respect she had in him. Also Thiruvalluvar had very great respect for her, on seeing her devotion and respect for him. He knew that she has the power to do anything because she was a “Pathiviradhai” – meaning a devout wife (Pathi means husband, Viradhai means woman devotee). When he went to ask her father to have Vasuki in marriage, he tested her by giving her a bag of sand and asked her to cook delicious food. She accepted and her undiverted thoughts made the sand into a great meal.

The reason that Vasuki is so exalted as a devout wife is a series of events that showed her power to the world because of the devotion she had. I am posting a few of them that I remember. These legends have been passed on for generations since Vasuki’s time.

Once was drawing water from the well that was in the backside of their house. And then Thiruvalluvar called for her. On hearing her husband calling, she left the rope that she was pulling and ran to address him. The pot that she was pulling out of the well while drawing the water, was in mid air. And when Vasuki ran to address her husband’s call, the pot did not fall into the water from mid-air. Instead it hung as Vasuki left it. It did not fall back into the well. People believe it is because of the devotion she had in her husband that all the things in the world came into her control without any question.

Another event in her life is that, Valluvar used to have his meal in the plantain leaf. One day, he told Vasuki that she should keep a bowl of water and a thorn nearby the plantain leaf, whenever she serves food for him. She did not question, why Valluvar asked her to do so. However after every meal, she noticed that Valluvar used neither the bowl of water nor the thorn. She was puzzled; however, she did not ask a question and start an argument, but thought that there could be some reason. And during her death, when she was was in her deathbed, Valluvar asked if she wanted him to do anything for her. She told that she was very much blessed to live a life with Valluvar, but she wanted to know the reason why he asked her to keep the bowl of water and thorn during every meal in spite of not using them. Valluvar replied that each grain of rice is a farmer’s effort and that should not go wasted. So while serving food if any grain of rice spilled out of the plaintain leaf into the sand, he could prick it with the thorn and then wash it in the bowl of water and then eat it. But Vasuki’s way of serving was so careful and more gentle that he did not have the need to use it. She was proud and happy when she died, that her husband had high regards and respect in her and she has fulfilled her part as a wife to the great man whom the world reveres.

There is one more incident that really proves her virtuousness. There was a Siddhar named Kongani Siddhar also called Konganavar. When Konganavar was meditating deeply as a penance, a stork that flew above dropped its excrement on him. He came out of his meditation in anger and furiously looked at the stork and the stork was burnt alive. This incident made him to take pride of the powers he obtained out of his penance. And one day, he went to Thiruvalluvar’s home to ask food. At that time, Thiruvalluvar was having his meal and Vasuki was serving him. She said that she will address Konganavar in a bit and asked him to wait. Konganavar could wait no long looked furiously at her. Nothing happened, Konganavar looked puzzled. Vasuki on seeing him puzzled uttered the following

“Kokku Endru Enninayo Konganavaa?”

meaning did you think that I am the same stork that you burnt earlier.

Kokku – Stork
Endru Enninayo – Think (Enni) that way (Endru)
Konganavaa – Kongani Siddhar.

Now, Konganavar was baffled even more. He was puzzled how Vasuki knew that he burnt a stork alive just by looking furiously at it. And then realised that it was Vasuki’s virtuousness that enabled her to visualise what had happened. He felt ashamed and apologised to Vasuki for her mistake and went away.

Vasuki’s virtuousness was the reason that Thiruvalluvar sang a complete Adhikaaram (Chapter) called Vaazhkai Thunai Nalam, meaning welfare of the spouse in which the following couplet appears.

“Dheivam Thozhaal Kozhunan Thozhudhezhuvaal
Peyena Peyyum Mazhai”

meaning, a woman who is devout to her husband need not worship any God. And she is comparable to the rains that pours when in great need, so virtuous and inevitable. There is even another interpretation, which means, The rains will pour when a wife, who is devout to her husband, orders the rains to do so. It symbolises that the even Nature will heed to the virtuous women.

Dheivam Thozhaal – Woman who does not worship God (Dheivam). Thozhudhal indicated worship
Kozhunan – Husband, Head of the family
Thozhudhu – Worship
Ezhuvaal – Raise after worship
Peyena – Order the rains to pour
Peyyum – The act of rains pouring
Mazhai – Rain

Vasuki and Thiruvalluvar’s virtuousness is an example for all of us on how to live a life that will bring happiness to all. The trust and the faith that the spouses have in each other exalts them in the way they live their life on the planet. Lets hail Vasuki for generations to come and let her serves as an example of a modest and virtuous woman for the generations to come

More to come, until then…

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