Thursday, December 24, 2009


Dear Members

From Jan 2010 all my postings will be shifted to the following site

Happy Blogging and New Year


A.V. Devan
eamil :

Friday, November 27, 2009

Abhang Mela @ Nanganallur

I was at Nanganallur last Sunday (22nd Nov 2009) to attend an Abhang Mela, thanks to my friend Pammal Subbu who made me to attend this programme. The Abhang mela is all about singing the abhangs throughout the day from dawn to dusk. The programme was performed by leading singers like Smt. Kalyani Margabanthu (Sister of Swami Haridas Giri), Sri. Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar, Sri. O.S. Sundar Bhagavathar and Sri Kadalur Gopi Bhagavathar. When I reached the venue the bhajan session by Sriman Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar was in progress. He made the session very lively and made everyone participated in the bhajan by repeating the Bhagavan Namas and made everyone to do pradakshina around Vittala and Rukumabhai deities. My two sons enjoyed the bhajan and were dancing. Please read on to know more about Abhangs and Sri Kadayanallur Rajagopal.


The devotional poems composed by the Maharashtrian saint-poets like Tukaram, Jnanadev, Eknath and Namdev are known as Abhangs, that is, A+Bhang meaning those compositions that would never be wiped off the face of the earth. The abhang is a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of Lord Krishna also known as Vittala and Vithoba in Maharashtra. Rendering of abhangs attaches great importance to the lyrics, correct diction, chorus singing and most importantly the bhakti aspect. The rhythm (beat) is also specific with a Tod finale (Tirmanam). About eight hundred years ago, there were a number of God realised souls in Maharashtra who initiated the Bhakti Sampradaya and Nama Sankirtana Sampradaya.

The Bhakti Sampradaya was a mode of worship that was easily adopted and practiced by even the unlettered masses and thus the Nama Sankirtana cult and Varkari Sampradaya came into existence. The Varkari tradition underlines bhakti and spirituality. The Varkaris can be categorised as Vaishnavite saints from Maharashtra like Dhyaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram and many others. The Varkaris go on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur twice a year. They walk all the way from their native places with the palkis of the saints. Individual sacrifice, non-violence, compassion, peaceful co-existence were the values they underlined. The saints of this lineage wrote booklets of verses in praise of the Almighty in simple language known as Haripath. This work united people of all castes and creeds. The annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Vithal in Pandharpur is accompanied by dynamic singing of abhangs.

Kadayanallur Rajagopal

Kadayanallur is a small town in the Tirunelveli District of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The name Kadayanallur comes from "Kadaikaleeswara", the name of the presiding deity of Kadaikaleeswarar kovil, a Hindu temple located in Kadayanallur. It is located in the foothills of the Western Ghats near the kuttralam Waterfalls and Tenkasi. Kadayanallur has produced many musicians famous of which is Shri.Kadayanallur Venkataraman who has set the tune for songs made popular by M.S. Subbulakshmi, like Kuraionrum illai, Sreeman Narayana, Bhavayami, Gopalabaalam, Jo Achyutananda, and Kandu kandu, which have captured the hearts of listeners with their lilt and melody. The Famous Abhang Chakravarthy Shri.Tukaram Ganapathy Maharaj also hails from this very small town of Kadayanallur. Comming from this very small town of Tamil Nadu is Sri.Kadyanallur S Rajagopal, the younger generation of the Kadayanallur Sampradaya Bhajan Family.

His grandfather, Father and his uncles were staunch followers of Shri Gopalakrishna Baghavathar (lovingly known as "Thatha") and Shri. Sanjeevi Baghavathar the Siants of Sampradya Bhajans. Sri Kadayanallur S Rajagopal under the instructions of Shri.Krishna Premi Swamigal lovingly known as "Anna" took to Spreading the Smapradhaya Bhajan's his ancestors were promoting. His melodious voice takes you through to God's abode. "Divyanama Chakravarthy" as he is known, he conducts "Radha Kalyanam" in "Pudukottai Sampradayam Bhajan Style".

Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar has the blessings of "Kadaikaleeswarar" the presiding diety of Kadayanallur. With ardant devotion to music and inclination to "Sampradhaya Bhanjans" he learned the bhajan sampradaya from his "Guru" and father Sri.R.Seetharama Bhagavathar. For four generations their family has been devoting themselves to "Sampradhaya Bhajans". Since the age of five Sri.Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar has been accompanying his father and grandfather Sri.T.S.Ramachandra Bhagavathar for various bhajan performances. At an age when youngsters are going around enjoying their lives, Rajagopal has exhibited abundant interest in "South Indian Sampradaya Bhajans", going around singing the praise of the "Lord". He is well conversant with musical instruments like Harmonium, Mridangam, Dolak, Tabla, Ganjira etc. He has taken painstaking efforts to establish a niche in the widely accepted bhajan form.Sri.Kadayanallur Rajagopal's "Divyanama" concerts have immense capacity to draw crowds to feel the divine embrace of the "Lord" himself.

Jai Panduranga Vittala!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sri Sreedhara Venkatesa Ayyaval

Today is the Aradhana of Sri Sreedhara Venkatesa Ayyaval, who is one of the three Gurus in the Dakshina Bhajana Sampradaya. THE ARADHANA of Sreedhara Venkatesa Ayyaval, a votary of "Nama Siddhanta", and a trendsetter in the field of bhajan and Nama sankeertanam, is celebrated in a village called “Tiruvisainallur”, near to Thiruvidaimaruthur between the Kumbakonam and Aaduthurai Highway.

Tiruvisainallur nestling on the bank of the River Cauvery in Thanjavur district, where Ayyaval stayed celebrates the event with great fanfare. The utsavam lasts for ten days ending on the New Moon day in the Tamil month of Karthigai. On all these days people from various places converge on Tiruvisainallur to worship Ayyaval. Especially on New Moon day, the crowd swells to take a bath in the well of the Ayyaval Math. It is said, Goddess Ganga manifested Herself on this day nearly 300 years ago to enable the great Siva devotee to bathe in the waters of the Ganga and thus pay off the penalty prescribed by the villagers for his act of having fed a harijan on his father's "sraddha" day. On all the ten days, exponents of "Harikatha" and Carnatic music render concerts. Please read on to know more about Sri Ayyaval.

Ayyaval, an erudite Karnataka smartha Brahmin, having spurned the ministerial offer made to him by the then ruler of Mysore, embarked upon a kshetradanam (pilgrimage) of the south along with his wife, Sundari Ammal, and settled down in the village of Tiruvisainallur. The place was then known as Shajirajapuram since it was gifted by Shaji II to 45 pandits well versed in the Vedas (1685 A.D. - 1712 A.D.). In fact, the sign board carrying the name of the village as Shajirajapuram was seen at the entrance to the village on the Veppathur-Kumbakonam road till 1950, and it was an "inam" village up to 1952. Ayyaval's profound scholarship in Sanskrit, and above all his devotion to Lord Siva attracted the notice of Shaji II. The fact that Shaji II was close to Ayyaval is revealed in Ayyaval's work, "Sahendra Vilasa", comprising eight sargams, on the king's expedition to Rameswaram.

Ayyaval was an ardent devotee of Mahalingaswamy at Tiruvidaimarudhur, also known as Madhyarjunam. Not a day passed without Ayyaval visiting the great shrine. Ayyaval spoke to God, and God spoke to him, and his life was replete with miracles. His work, "Taravali Stuthi" comprising 29 hymns on Siva has a story behind it. When he was in Thanjavur, Ayyaval is said to have brought back to life a boy who died of cobra bite. On this occasion, the above work was composed. It is the author's confirmed belief that by reciting these hymns sincerely one can save the life of his near and dear ones, whose hopes of survival are next to nothing.

Ayyaval lived during the period of Sadasiva Brahmendra and Bhodhendra Swamigal. And several incidents are cited to underline the strength of his bhakti which helped him to communicate with God. A few samples: During Krishna Jayanti, Krishna's portrait was decorated and taken in a procession along the streets of Tiruvisainallur. Some brahmins of the village heckled at Ayyaval and went away without stopping in front of his house. When the procession reached the next house, the portrait of Krishna had disappeared. It was being worshipped by Ayyaval in his house and the brahmins realised the greatness of Ayyaval who composed "Dola Navaratnamalika" then.

Some of his other compositions are Dayasathakam, Bhagavannama Bhushanam, Agyashasthi, Mathrubhuta Sathakam, Stuthi Padhathi, Siva Bhakti Kalpalatha, Sivabhaktha Lakshanam, Dharavali Stothram, Aarthihara Stothram, Kuleerashtakam, Jambunatha Ashtakam, Dosha Parikarashtakam, Krishnadwadasa Manjari, Achuthashtakam, Namamrutha Rasayanam - which speak only of the greatness of Siva and Vishnu namas. Tiruvisainallur and its surrounding areas suffered for want of rains for a long period. Moved by the hardship faced by the people, Ayyaval composed the stotram "Gulirashtakam" in the name of the local presiding deity Garkateswarar after which there was copious rain.

One day, Ayyaval wanted to cross the Cauvery to reach Tiruvidaimarudur on the other bank, but the river was in spate. Praying to Lord Siva, he composed Arthihara Stotram. Lord Siva, in the disguise of a temple priest (at Tiruvidaimarudur) came and offered the prasadam to Ayyaval and disappeared. He realised that it was none else than Madhyarjunar Himself!

Ayyaval's catholicity of outlook and humaneness are well brought out in his act of feeding a harijan on the sraddha day of his father. For the sraddha, Ayyaval had invited a few Brahmins of the village to conduct the rituals. He went to the Cauvery to have a bath and on his way back noticed a harijan lying on the side of the lane, weak from hunger and thirst. In a spontaneous gesture, Ayyaval quenched the harijan's thirst with the water in his kamandalam, and then fed him with the preparations made for the sraddha. The above act of Ayyaval caused a flutter and the priests abruptly left his house without completing the rituals connected with the ceremony. It is said that his house was bolted from the outside, to prevent the entry of any purohit to help Ayyaval complete the ceremony, and guards were posted. But to the surprise of everyone the chanting of mantras was heard.

It is said that those who helped Ayyaval complete the ceremony were none other than Lord Vigneswara and Subramanya. However, the villagers prescribed the penalty of taking a bath in the River Ganges on Ayyaval for his act. He prayed to his "Ishta Devata", Lord Siva to come to his rescue. It is said that the Goddess assured him that she would manifest Herself in the well in his house on New Moon day of Karthigai month. Just like Valmiki, he composed "Gangashtaka", and recited it in front of the well on the appointed day. The Ganges gushed out of the well and flooded the whole village. Even today, there is a place called Gangaikanda Thidal in Tiruvisainallur.

As stated by Ayyaval in Dayasatakam, man's miseries today are due to his deviating from the path of dharma laid down by the Vedas. The way Ayyaval attained "mukti" is again another mysterious event. His wife predeceased him. One day he went to the temple of Mahalingaswamy as usual; but did not return. He mingled with the eternal effulgence of Mahalingaswamy. Only a few days earlier he had informed his disciples of his end.

Reference :

The Hindu – “Ayyaval - embodiment of humaneness” by Sri R. Krishnamurthy & “A devout savant” by Sri N.V.R. Swamy

Friday, October 23, 2009

Skanda Sashti Festival

Today the surasamhara festival is being celebrated at Tiruchendur. Thought of sharing the details about the Skanda Sashti Festival. Please read on to know more…

The Tiruchendur Temple is the celebrated seashore temple of Lord Subrahmanya. It is situated in the Tiruchendur taluk of the TiruneIveli District. The distance from Madras is about 443 miles. The temple is on the shore of the Gulf of Mannar. The surging cool tides of the sea wash the foot of the temple. There is no other shrine in Tamil Nadu with such a beautiful natural setting. The Gulf of Mannar is shallow and is safe for sea bath.

Before entering the temple pilgrims either wash their feet or take a bath in the sea. The bathing that contains nine teerthams according to the sthalapuranam. A bath in any of these teerthams is believed to confer miraculous benefits on a devotee. It is said that once, when Brahma lost one of his five heads due to the anger of Siva, he came to this teertha, took a holy dip in it and had his head restored. Similarly one Angasundari, a Pandyan princess born with the face of a horse, was blessed with a beautiful face after a bath at Vathararamba Teertham.

Nazhi Kinaru

About 200 yards south of this temple, at the seashore, there is a rare natural phenomenon inside a square. It is a well 14 sq. feet in area and with a flight of 34 steps. Inside this well, there is another small well, one square foot in extent and seven feet deep. The water in the smaller well is crystal clear and sweet to taste whereas that in the bigger well is highly sulphurous in smell and brackish. It is said that when Shanmukha’s troops returned to the shore after vanquishing Surapadman at Mahendragiri, they felt thirsty and wanted fresh water. To quench their thirst, Shanmukha planted his Vel on this spot and caused fresh water to gush out.

Skanda Sashti Festival

The advent of Shanmukha and the chastisement of the asura in his three manifestations of Surapatuman, Singha-mukhan and Târakan, which are but the three evils in man Anava, Mâyâ, and Kanma and the extermination of these evil forces is yearly celebrated by the Skanda Shasti festival in the month of Aippasi in October-November. The festival at Tiruchendur is of six days, commencing on the sixth day of the waning moon of the month, as in every celebration of it in the Tamil land.

The events leading to the vanquishment of Surapatuma are demonstrated on the seashore on the evening of the Sashti-day by actual representations of the several transformations of the asura and of his defeat every time. Senthil Nâyakar the processional deity officiates for Arumukha-Nainar in this festival, and receives worship at the Tiruvâvaduthurai Skanda Sashti Mantapa.

The annual Tirukkalyâna festival to Teyvayânai is celebrated the next day after the Soora Samhara in the Tirukkalyapa Mantapa of the Melagopuram. On such occasions, the people fast for all the six days and the Skanda Puranam is read and explained with solemnity, in temples and also at times in private houses. Such reading is deemed efficacious, apart from spiritual benefits, in warding off or alleviating disease and danger and bringing good fortune to the bhaktas of Muruga is general.

The Puranic Account

Muruga, the earliest and sublimest Tamilian concept of Godhead has been as long cherished and venerated in the Tamil land as its Sanskritised concept Subrahmanyam, which means “the all pervading spirit of the Universe, the essence from which all things are evolved, by which they are sustained and into which they are involved.” He, in gracious pity for humanity takes form sometimes as the youthful God of Wisdom—Swâminâtha; God also of war when wicked Asuras have to be destroyed: Kârttikeya; sometimes as the holy child Muruga, the type of perennial tender beauty, always and everywhere at the service of his devotees.

The puranic account runs thus: The Devas were hard pressed by the asuras Surapatuma and his brothers. Siva in Mount Kailâsa was appealed to by the Devas for deliverance. Six sparks of fire issued from the frontal eye of Siva and answered their prayers. These divine sparks of grace were received by Agni, the God of fire, and cast into Ganges from which they passed into the Himalayan lake Saravana. Here they were transformed into six babes. These were suckled by the six Krittikâ nymphs of the constellation Pleiades, and, became one by name Skanda; on being fondly clasped into one by Pârvati, the divine inseparable sakti of Siva. He came to be called Shadânana, Shanmukha, and Arumukha as being six faced, and on account of his youthfulness, beauty and godliness.

As the Warlord of the Gods, as became his divine commission, he was known as Kârttikeya. He then proceeded from Kailâsa to the South on his mission of subduing the Asuras, and freeing the Devas from their cruel bondage. At Tiruchendur, He and his hosts encamped. Kârttikeya desired a shrine of Siva for his worship. Mayan the celestial architect constructed the shrine for Siva at this sea-front.

Kârttikeya, as the son of the supreme Siva Mahadeva, then led his hosts and proceeded with the war against the asuras. For five days Surapatuma's sons, brothers, and their mighty hosts gave battle on land, under the sea, and in the air and most of them perished. On the sixth day, Surapatuma alone survived. The Lord's last bid to show the asura His grace was His Visvarûpa darshan. The asura realised Whom he was fighting but his pride prevailed. He would not give in and be subdued. He still gave battle from region to region.

Kârttikeya now took Indra as his charger in the form of a peacock; and his lance, the Vel sought the foe out in his hiding in the ocean. Surapatuma rose at last out of his island fortress 'Vîra-mahendram,' as a frightful and enchanted mango tree and attacked him. The lance pierced the tree and broke it in twain. The broken pieces instantly transformed themselves into a mighty peacock and a chanticleer (rooster). The former attacked Indra who was serving as the Lord's bearer. The asura had spurned his last chance for submission!

Shanmukha's grace however prevailed. As an act of forgiveness, he took the peacock as his permanent charger (relieving Indra) and the chanticleer on his banner. The story goes that the two (cêvalum mayilum) live in His presence ever after. Shanmukha's mission was now fulfilled, and the Devas were freed. He turned again to Tiruchendur, halted and worshipped Siva at the shrine Mayan had built for Him.

“The events leading to the vanquishment of Surapatuma, with the moral significance of the expiation of sin are yearly celebrated by festivals and feasts in Tamil land in the month of Aippasi (October-November) ending on Skanda Shashti the sixth day of the waxing moon. On such occasions, the Kanda Purânam is read and expounded with solemnity; also at times in private houses such readings are deemed efficacious, apart from spiritual benefits, in warding off or alleviating disease and danger and bringing good fortune.”


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Divine Grace of Mahaperiyava

Today is “Anusham” our Paramacharya’s birth star. The article is presented as an offering to our Paramacharya. A real life incident of a devotee and Paramacharya’s teachings is enclosed.

One day evening when Kanchi Mahaperiyava was giving darshan at the Kamakoti Peetam in Kancheepuram an old couple came there to have darshan and get the blessings of our beloved Paramacharya. The couples who were wearing new dresses came in front of our Acharya and offered their pranams / namaskaram to Acharya. Mahaperiyava then asked “Did everything went on well?”. The old lady was in tears. Periyava then asked them to sit there and started conversing with them. Though he was talking to them he started making garlands and finally prepared two garlands and then asked the couple to exchange the garlands. Also the Vedic Scholars who were present there started chanting the Vedic Mantras upon being asked by our Paramacharya. The old lady was murmuring “Sarveshwara Sarveshwara” all the time and was in tears. Mahaperiyava later blessed them and gave his send off.

Some of the devotees who congregated there were curious to know the reason as to why Paramacharya himself made two garlands and blessed them. One of the devotees approached the couple who told them that they belong to Bangalore and that day morning they celebrated “Bheemaratha Santhi” i.e. a function celebrated upon completion of seventy years and they were returning to Bangalore in the afternoon. The old lady expressed her desire to see our Paramacharya on the way and get his blessings but that her son replied that since he is having an urgent work the next day at Bangalore he cannot take her that day but will send her to Kanchi after couple of days. The old lady had no other option but to only mentally think and pray.

The entire family started in two cars from Chennai. They reached Vellore and when they are about to take a diversion one of the car’s axle broken down and the driver informed them it will take minimum two hours to get it repaired. The old lady then asked his son since Kancheepuram is nearby whether they can go and have darshan of our Paramacharya and return before the car got repaired. Her son also didn’t object to this idea. The couple then took one of the Car and reached Kancheepuram and we know what the special gift they got! How lucky they were to get the garland woven by Paramacharya himself.

This is one more incident of how Mahaperiyava showers his divine grace to his devotees.

“Deivathin Kural” (Sayings of Kanchi Paramacharya)

The Vedas are eternal and the source of all creations and their greatness is to be known in many different ways. As I have already stated, their sound produces in our nadis as well as in the atmosphere vibrations that are salutary not only to our own Self but to the entire world. Here we must understand "lokakshema" or our welfare of the world to mean the good of mankind as well as of all other creatures. This concern for all creation that finds expression in the Vedas is not shared by any other religion. "Sanno astu dvipadesancatuspade"-- this occurs in a mantra: the Vedas pray for the good of all creatures including bipeds, quadrupeds etc. Even grass, shrubs, trees, mountains and the rivers are not excluded from their benign purview. The happy state of all these sentient creatures and inert objects is brought about through the special quality of the Vedas.

The noble character of their sound apart, the Vedas are also notable for the lofty truths that find expression in the mantras. The tenets of these scriptures have aroused the wonder of the people of other lands, of other faiths. They are moved by the poetic beauty of the hymns, the subtle manner in which principles of social life are dealt with them, the metaphysical truths embedded and expounded in them, and the moral instruction as well as scientific truths contained in them.
Not all mantras that create benign vibrations are necessarily meaningful. In this context we have the example of the music. The alapana of a raga (the elaboration of a musical mode) is "pure" sound, that is, it has no words, but it is still is capable of producing emotions like joy, sorrow, etc. During the researches conducted by a university team, it was discovered that the vibrations created by the instrumental music quickened the growth of the plants and resulted in a higher yield. Here is a proof that the sound has the power of creation. Also to be noted is the fact that the instrumental music played to the plant does not obviously have any verbal contact--- this establishes that the sound has its own power.

The remarkable thing about the Vedas is that they are of immeasurable value as much for their sound as for their verbal content. While the sound has its creative power, the words are notable for the exalted character of the meaning they convey. There are Tamil hymns of a very high order. To read them is to be moved by them; they touch our hearts with their intense devotion. But we have recourse only to a few of them for repeated incantation to expel a poison or to cure a disease. The authors of these hymns like Nakkirar, Arunagirinadhar and Sambandamurti have composed poems that are more moving and beautiful. But the sound of the hymns chosen for repeated incantation are potent like mantras. Among our Acharya's works are the Saundaryalahari and the Sivanandalahari. the recitation of each stanza of the Saundaryalahari brings in a specific benefit. The same is not said about the Sivanandalahari. The reason is the special mantrik power (of the sound) of the former.

There are mantras that are specially valuable for their sound but are otherwise meaningless. Similarly there are works pregnant with meaning but with no mantrik power. The glory of the Vedas is that they are a collection of mantras that are at once notable as much for the energising character of their sound as for the lofty truths they proclaim. A medicine, though bitter, does the body good, while some types of food, though delicious, do harm. Are we not delighted to have something like kusmanda-lehya, which is sweet to taste and is at the same time nourishing to the body? Similarly, the Vedas serve a two fold purpose: while they have the mantrik power to do immense good to each one of us and too the world, they also contain teachings embodying great metaphysical truths. It must here be emphasised that on the doctrinal level the Vedas deal both with worldly life and the inner life of the Self. They teach how to conduct ourselves in such a manner as to create Atmic well-being. And their concern is not with the liberation of the individual alone; they speak about the ideals of social life and about the duties of the public. How the Brahmin ought to lead his life and how the king must rule his subjects and what ideals women are to follow: an answer to these-stated in the form of laws-is to be found in these scriptures. The Vedas indeed constitute the apex of our law-books.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Samartha Ramadass

I recently attended a discourse on “Samartha Ramadass” by Sri Ranganji. During the period of Samartha Ramadass the country was plundered by Muslim Rulers who were very cruel and unjust and tried to demolish and destroy various Hindu Temples. The ignorant and poor Hindu womens were spoiled by the invaders. There was nothing but darkness. People had to face all such cruelty helplessly. They were so poor and weak that they were quite unable to raise their heads and hands to protest it. Sri Samartha Ramadass had closely observed it and decided to increase their physical power by way of unity and also the importance of trust on Lord Ram. He established many temples for Maruthi/Hanuman. He was also the Guru for Chatrapathi Shivaji. Please read on to know more about Samartha Ramadass.

Early Life

Ramadas was one of the greatest saints of the world. He was the inspirer of Shivaji. He was born of Suryaji Panth and Renuka Bai in Jamb, Maharashtra, in 1608 A.D. His original name was Narain. Ramdas was a contemporary of Sant Tukaram. He was a great devotee of Hanuman and Lord Rama. He had Darshan of Lord Rama even when he was a boy. Lord Rama Himself initiated him. As a boy, Ramdas acquired some knowledge of the Hindu scriptures and developed a liking for meditation and religious study. One day he shut himself in a room and began to meditate on God. When his mother asked him what he was doing, Ramdas replied that he was meditating and praying for the good of the world. His mother was surprised at the precocious religious inclination of the boy and felt happy. When Ramdas was twelve years of age, all arrangements were made for his marriage. He sat in front of the bride. There was a screen between the bridegroom and the bride. When the priests chanted "Sawadhan!' (be alert), Ramdas bolted away from the place and disappeared within the twinkling of an eye.

Studies and Penances

For twelve years Ramdas stayed at Nasik on the banks of the Godavari. He used to get up very early in the morning, go into the Godavari river, and with his body half-immersed in water, recite the sacred Gayatri Mantra till about noon. Then he would go round for alms. He first offered the collected food to his Deity Sri Rama and then took it as Prasad. After resting a while, he used to attend religious discourses in the various temples of Nasik and Panchavati. Ramdas also studied Sanskrit and copied in his own hand the Ramayana of Valmiki. This manuscript is still preserved in the collection of Sri S.S. Dev of Dhubliah. Ramdas did Purascharana of the Rama Mantra of thirteen letters Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram thirteen lakhs of times at Tafali, near Nasik, on the banks of the Godavari. After the Purascharana was over, once again Ramdas had Darshan of Lord Rama. It is said that Ramachandra ordered Ramdas to visit holy places such as Nasik, Haridwar, Kasi, etc. Ramdas sprinkled over a dead body holy water uttering the name of Rama and the dead body was restored to life. Ramdas had to do this, because he had blessed a woman who had just lost her husband.


Ramdas was an Advaitin and a Bhakta in one. He had this very noble quality that he never hated any religion or nation. His main object was to spread the Hindu religion throughout India. Ramdas had not visited Pandharpur, as he had not known the existence of this holy place. One day, the tradition says, Lord Panduranga Vittal, in the form of a Brahmin, with a batch of three hundred pilgrims, appeared before Ramdas and asked him whether he had any objection to see Lord Krishna. Ramdas replied in the negative. Panduranga then took Ramdas to Pandharpur, and when the Bhaktas approached the temple, the Brahmin disappeared. Ramdas then knew that it was none other than the Lord that had brought him to that holy place. He entered the temple, and to his great surprise, found Sri Rama standing alone on a brick.

Ramdas addressed the Deity thus: "O Lord, what are You doing here alone? Where is Your brother Lakshmana and Your consort Sita Mata? Where is Maruti and where are the monkey hordes?". On hearing these words, the image at once transformed itself into Sri Pandarinath. Ramdas then praised Panduranga for His kindness, prostrated before Him and sang songs of joy for getting His rare Darshan. Ramdas now felt doubly convinced that the several incarnations of the Lord were but His several forms and preached that everyone should respect and worship the One who took care of one and all in the world. Ramdas then worshipped Panduranga to his heart's content and became a frequent visitor and Bhakta of Panduranga Vittal also. In Pandharpur, Ramdas came in contact with Tukaram and other saints of Pandharpur. In his pilgrimages, Ramdas observed and studied the social, political and economic conditions of Indians and their utter helplessness in life.

Temples for Maruti (Hanuman)

During his journey he setup nearly 1100 Maruti-temples. He established eleven principal seats of Maruti which emphasized the importance of physical development. These are the centers where people come together. He also appointed his devotees to look after these temples. This planning clears his foresight. Through Ramopasana and balopasana he wanted to build well-cultured and healthy society. It was his real dream. He installed the shrines of Sri Ramachandra at Champavati and introduced Sri Rama Navami Mahotsava and the procession of Sri Rama's chariot.

Meeting his Mother

Ramdas spent several years in visiting holy places of pilgrimage. He erected several Hanuman temples in Maharashtra. When he returned from his pilgrimage, somebody told Ramdas that his mother was pining for him, and that she had lost her eyesight on account of extreme sorrow arising out of his separation. Ramdas immediately went to see his mother. He made prostrations to his mother. His mother was exceedingly pleased to meet her son after an absence of many years. Ramdas touched the eyes of his mother. She got back her lost eyesight through the Yogic power of her son.

Chatrapathi Shivaji

At this time Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj had started establishing his political power. Samartha was bringing religious and national awareness while Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was trying to establish Hindu-swaraj. Now fame of Samarth reached far and wide. Shivaji Maharaj was very keen to meet him. But unfortunately he could not see him at Masur. So he went back to Pratapgad. One day Shivaji Maharaja saw Samarth’s divine appearance in the night. When Shivaji Maharaja woke up in the morning he found a coconut which was given to him by Samartha as a token of blessings. So King Shivaji came to Mahuli to see Samartha. At the same time a disciple came from Samartha with a letter for King Shivaji. Samarth had praised Shivaji Maharaj in this letter. King Shivaji in his reply letter expressed his strong desire to see Samarth. King Shivaji presented himself at Masur. When he heard that Samartha was at Shinganwadi, he went there. Here met the two great personalities of different fields, different aims and of different dreams, in 1649. This was their first meeting. Here Samartha gave him ‘Anugraha’. Here onwards their relations became closer, loving and respectful. Shivaji placed the sandals of his Guru on the throne and acted as regent of the kingdom under the orders and guidance of his Guru and adopted as ensign the flag of orange colour.

His Preachings and Literary Works

Ramdas's ways were very peculiar. He appeared to the outside world as a mad man. He had a small bow. He used to have, by his side, a large number of stones with which he pelted every object he saw. To men really interested in his teachings, he gave the Mantra Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram. Ramdas had eleven hundred disciples, of whom three hundred were women. The women disciples were also expert preachers and were virtuous. Ramdas sent his disciples to all parts of India to spread the Hindu religion. His disciples and Mutts in the North directly or indirectly helped Shivaji and his work. Ramdas's organisation in the South, round about Thanjavur, helped Shivaji's son Rajaram to go to Jinji and carry on the Twenty Years' War with Aurangazeb. When Ramdas visited Thanjavur, Venkoji, who was the step-brother of Shivaji, became his disciple. Ramdas appointed Bhimaswami, his direct disciple, as the Mahant of the Thanjavur Mutt. The literary works of Ramdas such as Dasabodh, Manache Shlok (verse addressed to the mind), Karunashtakas (hymns to God) and Ramayana (describing only the conquest of Lanka by Sri Rama and the vanquishing of Ravana) are very popular.

Last Days

Ramdas generally preferred to live in the forest, where he would say, he had better meditation. In his last days, Ramdas devoted his time partly to literary activities and partly to the systematic building up of his disciples and Mutts, both in the North and in the South. It was as a tribute to Ramdas's extraordinary patience and determination in rehabilitating the Hindu religion in India that people named him Samartha (all-powerful) Ramdas, a name which he richly deserved.

King Shivaji Maharaj requested Samartha to live at Rajgad, Pratapgad or on the fort of Parali. As per King King Shivaji’s request Samarth Ramdas came to Parali in 1676. From that time onwards the fort was recognized and known as ‘Sajjangad’. Samartha set up the idol of goddess Mahishasurmardini at the eastern side of the Sajjangad which was found in the pond at Angapur and was named ‘Angai’ or ‘Anglai’. He also set up the idol of Maruti at the west to protect the Sajjangad and this ‘Maruti’ is known as ‘Dhabyacha Maruti’. While he was living on Sajjangad, Chatrapti Shivaji Maharaj left this world for ever. He left this world in 1680. Samartha became very sad. This great Guru of Maharashtra breathed his last in 1682 at Sajjangad Ramdas repeated the Rama Mantra with his last breath. At the time of his departure from the world, a dazzling light emanated from his body and Ramdas was absorbed in the image of Lord Rama.
The last instructions of Ramdas to his disciples were: "Do not think much of your bodily wants. Have Satsang with devotees. Keep the image of Lord Rama in your heart. Repeat the name of Lord Rama always. Annihilate lust, greed, anger, hatred and egoism. See Lord Rama in all creatures. Love all. Feel His presence everywhere. Live for Him alone. Serve Him in all beings. Make total and unreserved surrender unto Him. You will always live in Him alone. You will attain immortality and eternal bliss".


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Paramacharya as HR Consultant!!!

Today is “Anusham” (Anuradha) the birth star of our Paramacharya. Thought of sharing some incidences happened in his divine presence and also some of his teachings. Thanks to my friends V. Ramachandran and Major Narayanan for sending the articles.

One day morning a young man came to Kanchi Mutt and went straight to see our Paramacharya. When he saw our Mahaperiyava he started sobbing. When Periyava asked as to why is crying he replied that he had finished his studies and he could able to get a job for the last two years. Everyone in the house looking me as a stranger and especially my father always scolds me as ‘Thandam’. (‘Thandam’ in tamil means a waste i.e. which is not useful). I am very much pained that’s why I thought of coming here and get myself relieved of my sufferings.

Mahaperiyava quiety heard all of this and told him sit aside as he has to finish all the anushtanas meant for the Sanyasis. Later Mahaperiyava sat to give darshan for his devotees. At that time there was a Government Engineer who came there to have the darshan of Mahaperiyava.

Mahaperiyava then asked the Engineer what is the name of the Staff which he is holding. (The Sanyasis are given a Dhanda when they take initiation from a Guru. The Dhanda is made of thin bamboo stick tied with sacred thread with a flag which symbolizes purity). The Engineer who was confused told Periyava “It is called as ‘Thandam’ (meaning Staff in Tamil).

Periyava then asked the Engineer can you give a job for this? showing his Dhanda/Staff to him. The Engineer became even more confused and told periyava that he could not understand anything. Mahaperiyava then called the chap whom he asked to wait and showed him to the Engineer asking him can he arrange to give a job for him as in his house he is being referred as “Thandam” (meaning waste in tamil).

The Engineer was very much moved by the request of our Paramacharya and immediately told periyava that he will do it as per the command of the periyava. Mahaperiyava then told the gathering that the Dhanda or Staff which is being used a word for waste is the one which protects the Sanyasis and the Staff of the King is so powerful to make everyone abide by its rules. Hence in this world everything is useful and nothing is waste or thandam.

Saying so he told, “Oru Thandathukku Velli Kedachachu athanale innorru thandathukku velai mudinchiduthu” (i.e. The person who was referred as waste (thandam) has got the job and hence the job for the other thandam (staff) is over) and retired to his room.

The Cure for the Disease called Modern Civilisation
People are caught between two groups holding opposing views. On the one side they feel the pull of individuals like us who maintain that they must take to the path shown by the sastras; on the other they find themselves drawn in the opposite direction by the reformers who want these sastras to be changed. From a youthful age people nowadays are used to reading reports extolling the changes that go by the name of reforms. It is all due to the influence of modern education. All this notwithstanding, people have not altogether given up the old customs. A fraction of the dharmas laid down in the sastras and followed for ages is still to be seen in our domestic and social life. On the one hand, there is the habit formed by custom and, on the other, the habit now being learned through the new system of education.

It is universally recognised that contentment is lacking in the modern way of life. People don't dispute the fact that the peace that once existed in the previous generations no longer obtains today. They have more money now -or that at any rate is the belief. But are they yet free from poverty? The claim is made that everything is in abundance, that we grow more food than what is needed. Yet there is anxiety everywhere about the supply of essentials.

In the place of the old thatched hut or modest titled house now stands a multistory building. Then we had just four or five utensils to cook, a basket made of palm-fronds, containers made of gourd shells. Now the house is crammed with all sorts of articles and gadgets that are part of today's "civilized" life. People enjoy new comforts and make new acquisitions, yet they are not as happy and contented as were their forefathers.

Even now there are people who at heart long for a life of peace lived according to the old tradition. But they do not have the courage to give up either the trammels of modern life or the feeling of pride in the changes effected under the reformist movement. They are in an awkward predicament because they are not fully committed either to the traditional way of life or to the new. Let me tell you how people cannot decide for themselves-how they are neither here nor there. In most homes you will see Gandhiji's portrait and mine. Now Gandhiji advocated widow marriage-and I ask people to wear a sikha. Those who respect Gandhiji do not, however, have the courage to marry widows nor do they have the courage to wear a sikha. Poor people, they have no moorings and keep swinging between one set of beliefs and another. We must have the courage of our convictions and unflinching faith in the sastras.

If we start making small compromises in our adherence to the sastras, it will eventually mean following only such scriptural practices as we find convenient in our everyday life. Some people tell me with all good intentions: "The dharmasastras are the creation of rsis. You are like a rsi. You must make changes in the sastras in keeping with the times. “Their view is that just as we remove weeds from the fields we must change our customs and duties according to our times. If I take out some rites and observances from sastras now, thinking them to be "weeds", later another man will turn up and remove for the same reason. At this rate, a time will come when we will not be able to distinguish the weed from the crop and the entire field will become barren.
It is important to realise that if we are to remain true to the sastras it is not because they represent the views of the seers but because they contain the rules founded on the Vedas which are nothing but what Isvara has ordained. That is the reason why we must follow them. It is my duty to see that the sastras are preserved as they are. I have no authority to change them.

We must not give up the sastric way of life thinking it to be difficult to follow. If we are not carried away by the glitter of modern mundane life, if we reduce our wants and do not run after money, there will be no need to abandon the customs and rites laid down by our canonical texts. If we are not obsessed with making money there will be plenty of time to think of the Lord. And peace, contentment and happiness will reign.

Money is not essential to the performance of the rites enjoyed by the sastras, nor is pomp and circumstance essential to worship. Even dried tulasi and bilva leaves are enough to perform puja. The rice we cook for ourselves will do as the naivedya. "Marriage is also a sastric ceremony. We spend a lot of money on it. What about such expenses? “it is asked. All the lavish display we see at weddings today are unnecessary and do not have the sanction of the scriptures. Specifically, the dowry that forms such a substantial part of the marriage expenses has no scriptural sanction at all. If money were important to the performance of the rites enjoyed by our canonical texts it would mean that our religion is meant for rich people. In truth it is not so.

Of the four aims of life - dharma, material acquisitions, desire and liberation - we seek gratification of kama alone (in the form of pleasure, love, etc.). And to have our desires satisfied we keep struggling to acquire material things. Our efforts must be directed towards obtaining liberation through the practice of dharma. All that we need to do for this ideal is to resolve to live a simple life. There should then be no compulsion to run after money and other material goods and other. It would naturally become easier for us to practice dharma and reap the ultimate fruit, that is eternal bliss.