Friday, July 31, 2009

Request of a Sanyasi

Today is Paramacharya’s birth star "Anusham" thought of sharing some of the devotees experience with our Jagadguru. Any body who goes to Mahaperiyava will get a solution. This is one more real life incident which proves it. Please read on to cherish.

One day at around 8.30 pm when Mahaperiyava was about to wind up his regular darshan there entered a couple along with their daughter and gave their offerings like dry fruits etc as a token of respect to the Jagadguru. Mahaperiyava upon seeing the person, “Oh is it Viswanathan from America, nice to see you with family, I Hope you have come here to tell your daughter’s wedding? I could able to see only the dry fruits which you have brought to me, I am not seeing the wedding invitation, where is it?” Viswanathan replied, “Mahaperiyava we are seeking the alliance since she was 17 years and now she is 25 years, all our previous attempts in coming to India and staying here for two months for seeking the alliance had failed and we are very much concerned about her marriage” and viswanathan became emotional which made his wife and daughter crying.

It was around 9.30 p.m. and mahaperiyava could able to feel the pain and tried to console the family, “Ok please sit down here and I know that you are doing lot of good things to temples and poor people, ok tell me how many years now since you went to the US.” Viswanathan replied, “it is now twenty years since I settled in US”. Acharaya then asked “Hope she is your only daughter and what is her name”, Viswanathan replied, “yes she is the only daughter and her name is Aparna”. Mahaperiyava then raised the doubt, “Have you shown her Horoscope (Jathagam) to the Astrologer?” “Yes I have shown to many astrologers and done lots of parikarams” “what are parikarams you have done?” “In Rameshwaram have done pithru dhosha parikaram with thila homam, In Kanjanoor “Sukra Preethi”, in Thiru nageswaram have done the “raghu preethi”, In alangudi did “Guru preethi”, in Thirumanancheri near kuthalam have done “special pooja” , In Thirunallar have completed Sani Preethi with nala theertha snanam…” Mahaperiyava interrupted,” only the “bhala prapthi” i.e. the result is missing”, by looking at Viswanathans wife “have you kept ready the gold and jewellery items?. For that viswanathan replied that, “we have about 30 sovereigns and in addition we have two 20 sovereigns kept separately”. Periyava interestingly enquired, “what for this additional set of 20 sovereigns?” He replied, “We have kept a vow to carryout marriage for two needful ladies if our daughter’s marriage is fixed but even that is not happening. “how many days you need to stay in India” viswanathan replied, “twenty days periyava”, periyava then asked the Mutt cook what is available the cook told, “Arisi Upma and Poosanikai Sambar” Periyava then asked the family to have their dinner in the mutt itself.

After the dinner mahaperiyava told,”Viswanatha you are good hearted person in addition to your daughters you want to help two more poor ladies in their marriage don’t worry goddess kamakshi will help you. I suggest you go to Thiruvanaikka (near trichy) and make your daughter see the Thadangam (Golden Ear Ring) of Goddess Akilandeswari and ask her to sincerely pray. Once you finish the darshan proceed to Tirupathi and perform a Kalyana uthsavam to srinivasa perumal” (marriage for the Lord Srinivasan and Padmavathi) Viswanathan replied “whenever we come to India we have done the kalyana uthsavam to Lord Srinivasa at Tirupathi and I have done eight times so far but not result”. For that Mahaperiyava replied,"sari viswanatha athanala enna korranjura porathu? Intha sanyasi solrathukaka ompathavathu thadavaiya nadathi vaiyen" (ok viswanatha please do it for the nineth time for the request of this sanyasi?!)

Viswanathan then took his family to Thiruvanaikka and had thadanga (Goddess Golden Ear Ring) darshan of Goddess akilandeswari and then came to Tirupathi. In Tirupathi that day many people had given their offerings for the Thiru Kalyanam to the Lord and Viswanathan family also were witnessing the wedding celebration of Srinivasan and Alamelumanaga and Viswanathan’s mind was thinking, “every day you are getting married gorgeously see my status is it fair on your part?” and felt very emotional by shedding his tears in front of the Lord and upon seeing this his wife and daughter were also started weeping.

All this was noticed by a person nearby for quite some time and atlast he decided to enquire and went nearby, “I am Vaidyanthan from Madras am observing you and your family for quite some time, when you are supposed to enjoy the celestial wedding of the God you and your family is in grief which you should not do” Viswanathan then told his pathetic condition to the person who was enquiring him. Vaidyanathan then asked Viswanathan “what is your gothram?” Viswanathan replied “Vathulam” “Nanga Srivathsam .. ok what is your daughter’s age? “twenty five.. why are you asking all these details?” Vaidyanthan then replied that he will inform after the function.

Once the function was over Vaidyanathan took the family of Viswanathan and told, “We hail from Melatoor near Tanjore and I have a son by name Srinivasan who is currently working in US at Ford Motor Co., and he his coming to India tomorrow, and we are seeking alliance for him for the past three years and nothing has progressed” “ we are also devotees of Kanchi Periyava and when we visited the Kanchi Mutt some three months before Mahaperiyava requested us to perform Kalyana Utsavam at Tirupathi and hence we are here and if Mahaperiyava’s blessings is there your daughter can become our daughter-in-law.”

Then both the family exchanged the horoscope and went straight to an astrologer in Tirumala itself. To everyone’s surprise the horoscope matching was perfect. The next day Srinivasan reached India from America and pen parkum padalam took place and finally both liked each other. Within fifteen days they fixed the marriage and even finalized the marriage hall i.e. Raja Rajeswari Kalyana Mandapam. After that both families decided to visit Kanchi Mutt to get the blessings of Maha Periyava. They reached Kanchi Mutt and by the time they had Periyava's darshan it was 9 pm.

Viswanathan then transpired what happened since he left Kanchi Mutt and told that they had darshan in Thiruvanaika and had Thadanga darshan and later went to Tirupathi to perform Kalyana Utsavam for the Lord of Seven Hills and how the marriage got fixed. Mahaperiyava was very happy and told him that since he felt that her daughter might have the “Vivaha prabandiga dosham” he then asked them to go have darshan of Goddesss Akilandeswari’s Thadanga which will ward off the dosha. Then he enquired about who is the groom, Vaidyanthan who was standing behind came in front of Mahaperiyava told “I am going to be his sambanthi I came to you three months before when you have told us to perform the Srinivasa kalyanam at Tirupathi” We both performed the Kalyana Utsavam on the same day and become sambanthis by your grace. Acharya blessed them and told them “please have your dinner in the Mutt and the cook was telling me that today’s menu is “Arisi Upma and Poosanikai Sambar” and then blessed them and went to his room.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Varalakshmi Pooja/Vratam

Varalakshmi Vratam is an important pooja performed by many women in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka and some parts of Tamil Nadu. The glory of performing the Varalakshmi Vratam narrated directly by Lord Shiva Himself, is elaborately discussed in the Skanda Puranam. This is a festival to propitiate Shri Varalakshmi (Mahalakshmi ) - the consort of Lord Vishnu, who is the abode of all mangalam (auspiciousness) , prosperity and wealth. The Varalakshmi Vratam is to be performed on the shraavana shukla shukra vaaram , that is, the Friday immediately following the full moon day (Purnima) in the auspicious month of Shravanam (corresponding to August - September). This Vratam is undertaken by the women for good progeny, good health, and wishing long life for their husbands.

Lakshmi is symbolic of eight forces - wealth (shree), earth (bhu), learning (sarasvati), love (preeti), fame (keerti), peace (shaanti), pleasure (tushti), and strength (pushti). Each of these forces is called a Lakshmi, and collectively they are known as "Ashta lakshmi". Worship of Varalakshmi is rendered equivalent to the pooja for ashtalakshmi. Since She is ever ready to grant boons to her true devotees, she is usually referred to as "Vara Lakshmi".


There are several varied legends associated with this festival. Goddess Parvathi once asked Lord Shiva to recommend her a vratam, which would be beneficial for the womenfolk on earth who seek prosperity. Then, Lord Shiva preached her about Varalakshmi Vratam (as mentioned in Skanda Puranam). To illustrate the sanctity of this vratam, Lord Shiva then narrated the story of one Charumati (of Kuntinapura in the Maratha desham). Charumati was a true pativrata (devoted to husband in all sincerity). Pleased with her true and undivided devotion to her husband, Goddess Lakshmi appeared in her dream and advised her to undertake the Varalakshmi Vratam on the auspicious day of shraavana shukla shukra vaaram. Charumati performed this pooja with utmost devotion, the same day, in the dream itself. The next day she narrated this dream to her husband, and with his full consent, to all other women folk in town. On the auspicious day, she did not fail to perform Varalakshmi vratam as prescribed to her by Goddess Parvathi. Then some miracles took place. As the womenfolk stepped out of the house, they saw all houses decked with riches and gold, and a golden chariot awaiting them outside Charumati's house. Everything seemed bountiful! Ever since, this Vratam has been regularly performed in households.

Another legend is that a person by name Chitranemi was once cursed (to become a leper) by Parvati for showing partiality toward Lord Shiva in a game, in which he was the judge. Chitranemi got shaapa vimochanam (relief from this curse) when he watched with great attention, the Varalakshmi Vratam performed by some pious ladies. Legend also says that this Vratam was later conveyed by sage Suka to Shaunaka and other sages.

The Worship

The rituals of worship during the Varalakshmi Vratam differ from region to region in south India, but they all have the same basic format. The performer begins the day with a holy purification bath, and wears clean clothes. The arena is decorated with kolam (rangoli). A geometrical design known as mandalam is then drawn on the clean surface of the floor (with the picture of a lotus upon it). A sacred pot (kalasham) is filled with pure water and rice (akshata), topped with a bunch fresh mango leaves, and a coconut (unbroken, with its kudimi on) smeared with turmeric powder is placed atop. Also, sandal paste and kumkumam are applied to the kalasham, and a cloth is tied around it before placing it on the mandalam. Some people further beautify the kalasham with a picture of Varalakshmi drawn on it and decorated with jewels. Then, Goddess Lakshmi is invoked. Fresh flowers and grains are used in the worship, indicating growth and prosperity.

After performing the initial worship of Lord Ganesha (seeking removal all obstacles), prayers are offered to the kalasham. A "toram" (which consists of nine threads and nine knots) is tied to the Goddess. Then they worship the thread (raksha). Now the main worship of Lakshmi begins, with a second worship of the sacred Thread. Finally, it is tied around the right hand of the performer. Prayers in the form of Lakshmi Ashtottara shatanaama and sahasranaama are then chanted. Another sumangali is then chosen, and she is offered auspicious articles as gifts and food. The function concludes with the singing of several hymns and songs in praise of Varalakshmi.

Songs on Varalakshmi

The following songs are in praise of Goddess Lakshmi which are rendered during this auspicious occasion. These songs are chosen from a variety of composers. Some of the songs (Pallavi, Ragam and Composer) are given below.

1. Varalakshmim Bhajare – Sauraastram – Muthuswami Dikshitar
2. Shri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam – Shree – Muthuswami Dikshitar
3. Mahalakshmi Karunaarasalahari - Madhavamanohari – Muthuswami Dikshitar
4. Varalakshmi Namostute – Gowri Manohari – Mysore Vasudevachariyar
5. Shri Mahalakshmim Bhajeham – Paraju – Mysore Vasudevachariyar
6. Varalakshmi neeye vantharulvaye – Salaga Bhairavi – Papanasam Sivan
7. Mahalakshmi Jagan Mata – Shankarabharanam – Papanasam Sivan
8. Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma – Madhyamaavati/Shree – Purandaradasar
9. Paalise enna shri mahalakshmi – Shri - Purandaradasar

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

30 Rupees Sambhavana (Fees)

I was recently reading a book on real life incidents of devotees of Sri Sri Chandra Sekharendra Mahaswamigal referred as Mahaperiyava written by Sri Ramani Anna (Vikadan Publications). This story moved me a lot and decided to translate for the benefit of the readers to cherish the experience of our beloved pujyasri Mahaperiyava. I heard that His Holiness has helped lot of poor people and helped conduct lot of marriages especially for the poor people. Please read on……

A Vedic Pundit by name Ramanatha Ganapadigal hailed from Karur was living in Srirangam. His wife’s name was Dharmambal. They had a daughter by name Kamakshi. Though the pundit is a master in vedas he did not pursue vaideega i.e. performing Vedic rituals as his profession, rather he use to do “upanyasa” or “spiritual discourse” and was living with whatever little income earned through that source. The family was staunch devotees of mahaperiyava.

Their daughter’s marriage was fixed suddenly and groom is a teacher in a nearby village. His wife Dharmambal asked his husband “Our daugther’s marriage has been fixed how much saving do we have?” Ganapadigal replied, “have you not know that by so many means I have saved about five thousand and we can carryout the marriage in a simple manner”. Dharmambal was furious, “how we can conduct the marriage we need to buy jewels, vessels, catering and other expenses are there and we need atleast fifteen thousand more”.

Ganapadigal gazed at her and she replied that, “don’t worry I have a suggestion please buy some fruits and go to Kancheepuram and meet Mahaperiyava and tell him that our daughter’s marriage has been fixed and we need fifteen thousand rupees and he will definitely help us”. However Ganapadaigal didn’t take up her idea and replied “how is it possible to ask our Jagadguru ‘dhanam’ (money) when we should only ask for ‘jnanam’ (knowledge). However dharmambal argued and convinced her husband and made him travel to Kancheepuram the next day.

That day there was heavy rush in the Sri Mutt and everyone was carrying the fruit basket and Ramanatha Ganapadigal was also in the queue with some fruits along with the marriage invitation expecting to meet the Mahaperiyava. In between someone compulsorily took the fruit basket and kept along with others. While he was crying that his fruit basket is having the marriage invitation nobody paid attention to him.

Suddenly there was a voice “oh! is it karur ramanatha ganapadigal, please come, whether all are fine at Srirangam? Is your religious discourse is going well?” the voice came none other than from Mahaperiyava himself. He then enquired about his family details and the discussion was going on ganapadigal doesn’t know how to tell the issue of his financial needs. Some how he managed to open the topic,“dharmambal told me to visit you and tell about the marriage of our daughter….” Before he could finish Periyava tells him that “my blessings are there in full and …. I have one assignment for you can you do for me ?” suddenly Mahaperiyava made one request to him.

Ganapadigal then asked what the assignment was and Periyava told him that some few days ago some one from a village near Kadayanallur (near Thirunelveli) came and told mahaperiyava that the village cows are experiencing miraculous death and the parikara as decided is to conduct a “Bhagavatha Saptaham" i.e. discourse on Srimad Bhagavatham for seven days in the village temple. Periyava then requested him to take some money from the Mutt so that he can start to kadayanallur the same night itself.

Ganapadigal reached Tirunelveli the next day and he was picked up by the Temple priest at the Junction. He was put up at the House of the priest and to his surprise nobody came to meet him. He consoled himself that he can meet people during the time of discourse. However when he commenced his discourse i.e. “Bhagavatha Saptham” in the evening only the Temple priest, the temple secuity guard and the Lord Varadharaja Perumal were the only witnesses. When enquired it was told that the entire village got divided over an issue as to who should be the President of the Temple and till that issue is resolved nobody in the village had decided to enter the temple.

However Ramanatha Ganapadigal sincerely carried out his Sapthaham in front of the Lord for the next seven days while it was watched by the temple priest and the secuirty guard. On the last day the priest told him that the discourse was excellent it is worth is priceless however due to poor response he gave the “sambhavana” (fees for rendering the discourse) of sum of rupees thirty the amount which was available with the priest at that point in time and also got him the train ticket for his return journey. Ganapadigal reached kancheepuram via vizhupuram the next day and reached the kanchi mutt.

Next day afternoon after the routines were over he met Mahaperiyava. Mahaperiyava then enquired about his trip to Kadayanallur and was asking how the discourse went. Ganapadigal some how controlled his emotions and told periyava that due to some problem in the village nobody came except the Temple priest and the secuity guard. For this Mahaperiyava replied, “Ramanatha nee periya bhagyasalida therla okkanthu krishnan sonna upadesathai arjunan oruthan than kettan onnaku parru rendu pervazhigal kettirukka” ( ramanatha your are so lucky that when krishna gave upadesha only arjuna was there to hear but for your atleast two were there to hear!) and started laughing.

Mahaperiyava then thanked him for going there on his request and completing the Saptaham and then gave him “salvai” (cloth given as a token of respect) and a dakshina of rupees thousand and blessed him. Ganapadigal suddenly remembered the original purpose for which he came to Kancheepuram i.e. the marriage of his daughter and informed periyava about the same for that periyava blessed him that the marriage will get over in a very good manner by the grace of Chandramouleeswara “jaam jaam nu nadathi vaipar” and asked him not to worry and gave him sendoff.

The next day Ganapadigal reached Srirangam and he was thinking all the way that how he is going to face his wife and also about the fifteen thousand rupees which she had requested from Mahaperiyava. When he reached his home his wife Dharmambal greeted him and gave water to wash his feet and whisked him inside the pooja room and lo! there was kept a bamboo basket with full of fruits, sari, dhothi, turmeric, kumkum, flower, two Mangala Sutra (thirumangalyam) and a bundle of currency notes!

Ganapadigal was dumb struck and dharmambal said “today morning there were some people came and informed that they are coming from Kanchi Mutt and told that Mahaperiyava has instructed them to handover these gifts for your daughters marriage.” Ganapadigal said “Dharmu I didn’t asked anything but still he had sent to us what a magnanimous person he his” and started counting the currency and it was exactly the fifteen thousand!

Ramanatha Ganapadigal was moved by the grace of the Mahaperiyava and started crying profusely.