After quite a long time, a post about one of the ancient treasures in Tamil Literature is in order. These days, we hear a lot of people talking about environment safety, etiquettes etc, but it is quite amazing to know that our ancestors had this consciousness thousands of years ago. Such a fabulous thought process has been rendered as a treatise that defines the rules of life and etiquette that has to be followed to lead a disciplined and a happy life.

The treatise is “Aasarakkovai” by Peruvayin Mulliyanar which is one of the Pathinen Keezhkanaakku Group of literary works in tamil literature. Written about 1500 to 2000 years ago, by around (100CE-500CE) consists of 100 stanzas, in which the author defines that rules governing food, dress code, decorum with kings and elders, conserving and non-pollution of natural resources, eschewing evil habits and bad company.

It is quite intriguing and amazing to see that Peruvayin Mulliyanar had envisioned about a lot of aspects that are applied even today. The name aacharam itself means discipline, etiquette, decorum etc. Kovai means collection, aggregation. Let’s see a few stanzas. The first one enlists the characteristics of discipline

நன்றி அறிதல் பொறை உடைமை இன்சொல்லோடு
இன்னாத எவ்வுயிர்க்கும் செய்யாமை கல்வியோடு
ஒப்புரவு ஆற்ற அறிதல் அறிவுடைமை
நல்லினதாரோடு நட்டல் இவை எட்டும்
சொல்லிய ஆசார வித்து

Nandri Aridhal Porai Udaimai Innsollodu
Innadha Evvuyirkkum Seyyaamai Kalviyodu
Oppuravu Aatra Aridhal Arivudaimai
Nallinathaarodu Nattal Ivai Ettum
Solliya Aasaara Viththu

meaning The eight traits of good decorum are Gratitude, Patience, Pleasantness in speech, Refraining Non-harming attitude towards other beings, Being Educated and Learned, Concordance with people, Understanding things thoroughly, Being Knowledgeable, Association with good people define aacharam (disciplined way of life).

To maintaining these traits one has to be very disciplined otherwise the traits cannot be achieved, this itself defines the remaining 99 stanzas. However the poet goes into defining who an educated person is, who is a respectable person etc. Let us see a few songs and their meaning to unravel what the poet has actually got for us.

அரசன் உவாதியாயன் தாய் தந்தை தம்முன்
நிகரில் குறவர் இவரை
தேவரை போல தொழுது எழுக என்பதே
யாவரும் கண்ட நெறி

Arasan Uvvathiyaayan Thaai Thandhai thammun
Nigaril Kuravar Ivarai
Devarai pola thozhudhu ezhugha enbadhae
yaavarum kanda neri

meaning The King, the Teacher, the Father, the Mother and Elder Siblings are respectable people in one’s life, so they should be treated and respected like the Gods and that is the etiquette which our ancestors found out

The next stanza is the basic etiquette about serving food or table manners

விருந்தினர் மூத்தோர் பசு சிறை பிள்ளை
இவர்க்கு ஊன் கொடுத்தல்லால் உண்ணாரே என்றும்
ஒழுக்கம் பிழையார்

Virundhinar Moothor Pasu Sirai Pillai
Ivarkku Oon Koduthallal Unnare Endrum
Ozhukkam Pizhaiyar

meaning, The disciplined, while eating, will serve the food for the guests, elderly people, the cow, the birds and the children before they even take their food. This is what is considered as table manners

Even today, many people serve food for the birds before they eat their meal during the day. It is even considered, that the ancestors eat the food in the form of birds. Such an act of providing food to the cattle and the birds is to some extent a conservation of the ecological system.

The next is about keeping the environment clean and pollution-free, which is the buzzword that every person or organisation is talking about these days, but the same thought have been introduced thousands of years back

புல் பைங்கூழ் ஆப்பி சுடலை வழிதீர்த்தம்
தேவகுலம் நிழல் ஆனிலை வெண்பலி என்று
ஈரைந்தின் கண்ணும் உமிழ்வோடு இருபுலனும்
சேரார் உணர்வுடையோர்

Pul Painkoozh Aapi Sudalai Vazhitheertham
Deva Kulam Nizhal Aanilai Vennpali Endru
Eeraindhin Kannum Umizhvodu Irupulanum
Saeraar Unarvudaiyor

meaning, Grasslands, Agricultural lands, Cow dung (the dried form of cow dung is used to burn alongwith wood while cooking and during pujas), Graveyard, Waterbodies like ponds, lakes etc, Temples and places of sanctity, Shades under trees etc where people rest, Stable where cows are tied and Ash that is obtain by burning wood etc – are the 10 places where disciplined people would not pollute by spitting, passing excrements or otherwise

This environmental consciousness is the paramount statement of today’s environmentalists, but this consciousness was widespread with our ancestors even in those days.

The next song is about strict discipline and self control

பிறர்மனை கள் களவு சூது கொலையோடு
அறனரிந்தார் இவ்வைந்தும் நோக்கார் திறனிலர் என்று
எல்லபடுவதும் அன்றி நிரயத்து
செல்வழி உய்திடுதலால்

Pirarmanai Kall Kalavu Soodhu Kolaiyodu

Aranarindhaar Ivvaindhum Nokkaar Thiranilar Endru
Ellapaduvadhum Andri Nirayaththu
Sellvazhi Uithiduthalaal

meaning Uxoriousness over other’s wives, Booze, Larceny, Gambling and Murder are the five things that learned and disciplined people would never dare to commit because it not only brings blame and bad name but also paves the way to hell

The next stanza details about how one should conduct his life

நந்தெறும்பு தூக்கணம் புள் காக்கை என்று இவைபோல்
தம் கருமம் நல்ல கடை பிடித்து தம் கருமம்
அப்பெற்றியாக முயல்பவர்க்கு ஆசாரம்
எப்பற்றியாயினும் படும்

Nandherumbu Thookanam Pull Kaakai Endru Ivaipol
Tham Karumam Nalla Kadai Pidithu Tham Karumam
Appettriyaga Muyalbavarkku Aasaram
Eppatriyaayinum Padum

meaning, The one who is hardworking like an ant, protective like the weaver bird, Active like a bird, Social like the crow and does his duties correctly, then discipline will automatically attribute to him.

It is quite amazing about how the poet can bring about all these nuances of discipline. The problem is that how is could be followed by everyone equally, so considering that, the poet has also given exceptions to people who might not be able to follow the rules of discipline or etiquettes or in other words, it describes the people who are exempted from these rules. The following stanza enlists those poeple

அறியாத தேயத்தான் ஆதுலன் மூத்தான்
இளையான் உயிர் இழந்தான் அஞ்சினான் உண்பான்
அரசர் தொழில் தலைவைத்தான் மணாளன் என்று
ஒன்பதின்மர் கண்டீர் உரைக்குங்கால் மெய்யான
ஆசாரம் வீடு பெற்றார்

Ariyadha Theyatthan Aadhulan Moothaan
Ilayaan Uyir Ilandhan Anjinaan Unbaan
Arasar Tholizh Thalaivaithaan Manaalan Endru
Onbadhinmar Kandeer Uraikkunkaal Meiyaana
Aasaram Veedu Pettrar

meaning, the people who are exempt from following the rules described are Foreigner, Beggar, Aged people, Kids, Dead person, Frightened/Panicked person, Persons on deputation of King’s or Governmental order, Persons about to get married are the nine people enlised to be exempt from maintaining the aasaram.

Though some of the stanzas might not be relevant to this day or cannot be followed as mentioned. Some stanzas might even appear to be discriminating, but if we construe it in the right sense, the point of discrimination disappears. But, we have to appreciate the knowledge and the awareness we had, even before the western world knew that there are such principles to govern discipline for a citizen and for a society as a whole.

Assarakkovai in pdf format can be downloaded here

More to come, until then….

PS: From this post onwards, I am planning to write the tamil script using Google’s Transliterate service, rather than posting them as images. Post your comments if there are any problems viewing the content

The Western Ghats hosts a lot of serene beauty of Nature; as result it also has been the dwelling of many deities along its longer stretch, Marudhamalai, Vellingiri are quite popular. Another popular with a Sanctum abode is the Anuvavi Subramaniyar Temple. The pristine beauty of Nature really makes us worship it, in addition to the deity here. The prime deity here is Lord Subramaniyar (Lord Murugan) along with Lord Hanuman, Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva, Idumban and the Navagrahas. The speciality about this temple is that it is very old and has a legend associated with it that dates back to the period of Ramayana. One more unique aspect of this temple is that one does not find Lord Hanuman in temples where Lord Murugan is a prime deity but Anuvavi has Lord Hanuman as one of the deities. There is a legend that explain why Hanuman is one of the deities in Anuvavi.

When Lord Hanuman was on his way back bringing the Sanjeevi Parvatham as instructed by Jamabavan to cure Lakshmana who fell unconscious in the battle. He felt very thirsty and could not find any water source nearby and that was when Lord Subramaniyar appeared and pierced the mountain with his weapon The Vel (spear) and a spring came gushing out with water that helped Lord Hanuman quench his thirst. After quenching His thirst, Lord Hanuman continued on his way to Srilanka and hence there arose a temple for Lord Murugan carrying the name of Lord Hanuman to remind of this legend. The spring that quenched Lord Hanuman’s thirst still flows in hills and is being used by the people for drinking. The name Anuvavi in Tamil means Anu (Hanuman) + Vavi (Spring, Waterhole or Pond) and reminds us of the legend.

The temple is located 18 kms from Coimbatore city via Kanuvai en route to Anaikatti. A lot of buses ply to the temple foothills. The days in which the Krithigai star falls is auspicious and celebrated along with the other days that are auspicious for Lord Murugan.

Here are a few photos of the beautiful temple.

The entrance arch to the temple

The mandapam of the the Lord Vinayaga Temple

The steps to the Anuvavi Subramaniyar Temple

The view of the temple and the stairs and the natural beauty of the mountains

The guys who made it possible – Kannadhasan, Pradeep, Ravi, Suresh Raja, Sathiyaraj

The mandapam for people to take some rest while they climb up or down

The mandapam near the Idumban Shrine

The flowers blooming en route to the temple with the following pictures showing the scenic serenity of nature

View of the Western Ghats at the top after reaching the main shrine

Another view of the western ghats from the top

The Anuvavi Subramaniyar Shrine (Vimanam)

Lord Vinayaga Shrine

Another view of the main shrine

The Lord Hanuman Shrine

The Hanuman Theertham (the spring that quenched Hanuman’s thirst)

Another view of the Hanuman Theertham

View of the Main shrine from near the Lord Shiva shrine above

Another view from the top

View from near the Lord Shiva Shrine

The zealous guys near the Lord Shiva Shrine

A few pictures of the natural beauty of the temple

The mandapam before the Lord Vinayaga shrine during the descent

We have to climb around 500 steps to reach the main shrine. However, the effort rewards us not only with the blessings of Lord Subramaniyar, Lord Hanuman and the other deities but also the blessings of Mother Nature.

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…

After a very long time, back to blogging with a post about the mystique and the divine – The Vellingiri Hills. The Vellingiri hills, considered the Southern Kailash, is one of the important and sacred pilgrimage destinations in the country. The Vellingiri Hills, a part of the Western Ghats, is about 30 kms from Coimbatore city. There are a lot of public transport facilities available to Vellingiri foothills. The prime deity is Lord Shiva in the name, Velliangiri Andavar, meaning Lord of the Silver mountains. The Vellingiri hills is a serene and a beautiful place where nature could be seen at its best. Along withe beauty a lot of legends are associated with the Vellingiri hills, one such is from the Mahabharatha.

The pilgrimage starts during the full moon in the months of April/May, that is, the Chitra Pournami – full moon in the Tamil month of Chithirai. Chithirai being the first month of the Tamil year and the full moon in this month is exceptionally bright, people start on a pilgrimage trip abode the Vellingiri hills to worship Lord Shiva. It comprises of seven hills, and the seventh hill being the place where Lord Shiva is abode.

The Vellingiri Hills is full of serenity and divinity spread across the seven hills. One can feel the finesse of the tranquility of the Vellingiri Hills, only by being there. The hills host a lot of springs that are freezing chill even on the hot summers day. There are springs with names that are quite intriguing and interesting. The Kai Thatti Sunai (The Clapping Spring) has an interesting belief behind it, the force of the water increases if one claps near it, though I have not felt personally when I tried. And there is the Aandi Sunai at the end of the sixth hill which is a bigger one.

The Vellingiri hills has many legends associated with it, especially from the Mahabharatha. Not only is the hills, but also the places nearby Coimbatore.
There are places in the hills called the Draupadi Palam (Draupadi Bridge), Bheeman Kali Urundai (Bheema’s handful of found in the shape of a ball), Andi Sunai (Andi Spring – the place at the end of the 6th hill were Arjuna conducted his penance).

One interesting story is that, when the Pandavas were in exile into the forests, they ventured out into the country in disguise. They were travelling near the place called Dharapuram, and one of the Dhuryodhana’s men identified the Pandavas and went on to inform Dhuryodhana. The place where the Pandavas is called Kandidam [Kanda (Found) + Idam (Place)], which later got transformed and now called as Kundadam. When the Pandavas came to know that they were identified by Dhuryodhana’s men, the retreated back into the Vellingiri forest. The place where they turned back and retreated is called Tiruppur [Thiruppu – (turn back) + Oor – (Place)], this name still exists.

Now lets view some of the serene and beautiful pictures of the Velligiri Hills

The mist covered serene Vellingiri Hills

Another view of the mist covered serene Vellingiri Hills

Nature at its best

Ravichandran on his ascent to worship Lord Vellingirinathar

Sathiyaraj, Kannadhasan, Satish on their ascent (The bamboo sticks are used for balance while climbing the steep hills and rough surfaces)

Kannadhasan, Sathiyaraj, Satish, Ravichandran on the divine

The arduous climb, but still, people are quite determined

In the hands of Mother

Illustration of the need for the bamboo stick

At some places, step are carved out of large rocks.

The Kai Thatti Sunai (The Clapping Spring)

Kannadhasan testing the Kai Thatti Sunai and quenching his thirst

Satish and Ravi lifting the Bheeman Kali Urundai (Lifting is a hoax though 🙂 )

Guys pointing our destiny of the mission, the seventh hilltop

Another view of the Seventh Hill

The rugged terrain

Gunasekaran at the end of the Sixth Hill

Kannadhasan and Ravi near the Aandi Sunai (The place Arjuna conducted his penance)

Sathiyaraj, after courageously immersing himself in freezing waters of the Aandi Sunai

View of the Siruvani Dam, claimed to have the world’s second tastiest water

Another view of the Siruvani Dam from atop the Seventh Hill

The Crescent shaped moon, we made this expedition when it was nearing New moon

Pradeep and Gopinath taking a short rest at the top of the Seventh Hill

Pradeep and others have a small break at the top of the Seventh Hill

So does Sathiyaraj at the top of the Seventh Hill

Watching the beauty sunrise from above the hills, another reason to reach the hilltop early at dawn

Another view of the sunrise

Valiant and happy after climbing to the destiny

The rejuvenated team after worshipping Lord Vellingirinathar

The first climb for us (Pradeep, my brother, and myself)

Preparing for the descent

The descent, notice the view of the beautiful view of the hills at the background

Tired and exhausted at the end of the journey

The divine place that made it happen

The more we go to Vellingiri Hills, the more we explore the mystique and the serene beauty of the hills along with its divinity. Lets explore this divine place and worship Lord Shiva in the Kailash of the South.

More to come, until then…

Many philosophers and saints have spent their lives in finding out the answer to the question who/what accompanies us throughout the life and after. Hinduism firmly believe on the philosophy of rebirth so that soul gets reborn again and again until it attains salvation. Some say that the physical body that a soul takes is just a shell and nothing goes with the soul. Many of us even would have heard the great verses by the great Tamil poet of recent times, Kaviarasu Kannadhasan, that goes like this.

“Veedu Varai Uravu
Veedhi Varai Manaivi
Kaadu Varai Pillai
Kadaisi Varai Yaaro?”

meaning – When a man dies, his relatives and friends come till his home. His life partner (wife) come till the street. His children come till his body is cremated. But nobody knows who/what will accompany that soul after that.

Veedu – Home
Varai – till, until
Uravu – relatives, friends
Veedhi – Street
Manaivi – Wife
Kaadu – Forest, Burial/Cremation ground
Pillai – Son/Children
Kadaisi – End
Yaaro – Interrogative pronoun indicating Who?

However the well known siddhar Pattinathar (circa. 11th Century) has an explanation to this question about who the companions are? His song goes on the same lines as above.

“Aththamum Vaazhvum Agathumattae Vizhi Ambozhuga
Meththiya Maadharum Veedhi Mattae Vimmi Vimmi Iru
Kaithalam Mael Vaithu Azhum Maindharum Sudukaadu Mattae
Patri Thodarum Iruvinai Punniyam Paavamumae”

meaning, Wealth and Relations coming till the home. Women – The wife – with their attractive eyes come till the street. The children who cry keeping their hands on the body come until the cremation grounds. The two things that accompany are the sins and the good deeds that a person does during his life.

Aththam – Wealth,Relations
Vaazhvu – Living
Agam – Home
Mattae – Till
Vizhi Ambu – Attractive Eyes (Vizhi) striking the view like an arrow (Ambu)
Meththi – Praise
Maadhar – Women
Veedhi – Street
Vimmi – Spasmodically gasping while crying
Iru Kai – Both hands
Mael Vaithu – Keeping on top
Azhum – Crying
Maindhar – Children
Sudukaadu – Cremation ground
Patri – Clasp
Thodarum – Continue
Iruvinai – Two karmas
Punniyam – Good deeds
Paavam – Sin

Pattinathar has so much to be said about him, that it will take up a few posts to fully cover and convey his sayings. To give a brief about Pattinathar – He was a highly influential and a very rich businessman, who attained realisation/enlightenment by his own son who was none other than Lord Shiva incarnate. The one verse by his son made Pattinathar attain realisation about the existence of a soul and its ultimate path. The verse is

“Kaadhatra Oosiyum Vaaradhu Kaan Kadai Vazhikkae”

This has two meanings that can be interpreted. The first, The needle with a broken eye, will never make its way to the market. The second, which was the culmination of Pattinathar’s realisation, means that even the useless needle with a broken eye would not accompany in the human’s last journey

Kaadhatra – Kaadhu refers to Ear, however in this context it refers to the eye of the needle
Oosi – Needle
Vaaradhu – Will not be coming
Kaan – See
Kadai – Shop, Market, Last, End
Vazhi – Path, Destination

The wealth earned, the people whom relationships are built, even their wife and offsprings would not accompany during their final journey. His intention is not get dejected in life that nothing is going to come with us in the final journey and why should one put in efforts to gather wealth. But to make a note that the good deeds and the sins are the ones that we have with us in all our lives. So we need to minimize the sins that we commit and increase the good deeds that we perform. So setting our expectations low, will avoid unnecessary desires which is the root cause of all troubles and tribulations that a person goes through and is the thing that pushes a man to committing a sin. And the belief is that if you commit less sins and more good deeds, you will be reborn as something better than what we are now. Be it for the reasons of rebirth or not, let us try to avoid committing sins in our lives.

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…

After a long time, a post about Avinashi in the month of Chithirai seemed appropriate. Avinashi is one of the celebrated Shaivite temples and is considered as the first of the seven Thevaram Sthalams in the Kongu region. The temple is a about 40 kilometres from Coimbatore and a few kilometers from Tiruppur. The word Avinashi means indestructible and the sanctum sanctorum Lord Shiva stands as the indestructible force here. The temple is also known by its various names, Karunaiyaathaal Kovil (Merciful Mother’s Temple referring to Goddess Parvathi the consort of Lord Shiva), Dakshina Varanasi (Varanasi of South), Thirupukkozhiyur. The temple is over 1500 years old and has been sung by Manickavaasagar, Sundaramoorthy Nayanar, Thirumoolar and Arunagirinathar in their respective works.

There are inscriptions that the temple received a lots of endowments from the Cholas and Pandyas. There is even a legend that Sundaramoorthy Nayanar on his way to Thiruvanchikulam to meet the Chera King, Cheramaan Peruman, Sundarar happened to visit Avinashi. While walking through the streets of Avinashi, he heard conflicting voices from two of the opposite houses one blooming with happiness and joy and the other with a gloomy and melancholic voices. Sundarar came to the know the reason for the discordance. He came to know that the incident took place some three years ago, when two boys of the same age went to bathe in a nearby tank and one of them devoured by a crocodile that emerged from the tank.

The surviving boy had his “Upanayanam” (A thread ceremony to mark the beginning of studenthood) held. And so there was joy in that house. While on the other house people were sad because had their boy been alive, they too would be celebrating his “Upanayanam” too.

Sundarar was able to understand the pain of the worrying family and he sung out a soulful song, praying to Lord Shiva to resurrect the dead child. Lord Avinashiappar heeded to Sundarar’s prayers. The empty tank started to fill in with water from which emerged the crocodile and regurgitated the child as a fully grown boy of 8 years. And there filled happiness in the other home to as their boy was brought alive. There is a sculpture in the Kodimaram (flag mast) and inside the temple explaining this incident. There is even a temple for Sundaramoorthy Nayanar nearby and the tank, called the Thamaraikulam, from which he revived the boy. The temple is on the shores of the Thamaraikulam and this event is commemorated during the ‘Mudalai Vaai Pillai’ Utsavam on Panguni Uththiram.

The most special thing of all is the temple’s car. It is one of the biggest cars in South India. Same as Thiruvarur, Avinashi boasts the biggest car and the auspicious festivals that are held as done in Thiruvarur. The Avinashi car is known for its fine wooden carvings. The old car was destroyed in the recent fire accident, and a new one was built. The car festival is conducted during the month of Chithirai called the Chithirai Thiruvizha.

Some of the pictures of this magnificent temple.

The majestic Avinashi temple Gopuram

Another view of the temple Gopuram

Close up view of the temple Gopuram

Side view of the temple Gopuram

The view of the Amman Temple Gopuram

A close view of the Avinashiappar Temple Gopuram

Gopurams and Vimanams from inside the temple

The temple Gopurams and the Vimanams

The main temple Gopuram from inside

The Chandikeshwari Temple and the Vimanam of the Amman temple

Old inscriptions on stone

View of the outer prakaram

View of the outer prakaram and the main Gopuram

Another view of the outer prakaram and the main Gopuram

The majestic Avinashi Temple Car in all its grandeur and splendour

View of the Temple Car from the side

Another view of the temple car

Avinashiappar Car and the Amman Car

View of the intricate carvings on the car

Another view of the intricate carvings on the car

Another view of the intricate carvings on the car

Lets try to visit this magnificent Temple for this Chithirai Festival and look the car in all its grandeur and splendours and get the blessings of Lord Avinashiappar.

More to come, until then…