His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar :
Great spiritual leader
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who will be visiting Sri Lanka in
January 2011 will perform the traditional and ancient Rudra Pooja
dedicated to Lord Shiva. Sri Ravi Shankar says “Shiva represents the
five elements of nature namely earth, water, fire, air and space. Rudra
Pooja is honouring and respecting all these elements.” Further, the
ancient Rudra Pooja has healed and uplifted human consciousness over
His Holiness Sri Ravi Shankar
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who was born in 1956 in Southern
India astonished his teachers by reciting the Bhagavad Gita at the age
of four and started lessons with his first teacher Pandit Sudhakar
Chaturvedi, a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He became a scholar in
Vedic literature and obtained an advanced degree in modern science at
the age of seventeen.
In 1981, he established ‘the Art of Living’ an educational and
humanitarian organization. Further, he is engaged in bridging religious,
social, ideological and economic divides in society by enlivening the
ancient Indian ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). He
reminds us that diverse traditions and cultures have their roots in the
same basic human values of peace, compassion, truth and non-violence. In
fact, ‘the Art of Living’ serves society with a non-denominational,
secular and holistic approach.
In February 2006, at the Art of Living Foundation’s 25th anniversary
celebrations held in Bangalore, India, an estimated 2.5 million people
from 110 countries gathered to celebrate the spirit of service and
The historic gathering included 1,000 leaders from ten main religious
traditions of the world and 750 key political figures from various
countries. It was the largest recorded meditation for world peace in
In 2004, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been actively involved
in resolving the Sri Lankan crisis.
He was instrumental in the formation of the ‘Committee for Peace in
Sri Lanka’ comprising Hindu and Buddhist leaders including Dalai Lama.
The Art of Living programs eliminate stress, create a sense of
well-being, restore human values and encourage people to come together
in service and celebration.
Indeed His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a universally revered
spiritual and humanitarian leader. His vision of violence-free,
stress-free society through the reawakening of human values has inspired
millions to broaden their spheres of responsibility and work towards the
betterment of the world.
He is a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional personality whose
initiatives include conflict resolution, poverty alleviation, religious
education for all.
Furthermore, he has reached out tp an estimated 300 million people
worldwide through personal interactions, public events, teachings, Art
of Living workshops and humanitarian initiatives.
In fact, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has united people of
different traditions and faiths into a spiritual communion across the
length and breadth of India.
He has brought to the masses ancient practices which were
traditionally kept exclusive and has designed many self development
techniques which can easily be integrated into daily life to calm the
mind and instill confidence and enthusiasm. One of his most unique
offerings to the world is the Sudharshan Kriya, a powerful breathing
technique that facilitates physical, mental, emotional and social
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been bestowed with awards which
include honorary doctorates from four universities, leadership award for
extraordinary promotion for world peace and title of Yoga Shironmani
(Supreme Jewel of Yoga) India, 1986. Further, he has been conferred with
the Order of the Pole Star, top civilian honour of Mongolia by the
President of Mongolia.
The Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Science, India’s largest
medical university conferred him with honorary doctorate in science in
Furthermore, the Art of Living Foundation (Sri Lanka branch) will
present Bhakti Gee and 2,600 singers will participate in this program
which will be held at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on January 21, 2011.
The program which is to be held in Batticaloa on January 22, 2011,
more than 11,000 people will sing Thevaram.
Several religious leaders and dignitaries are expected to attend this
event. Delegates from USA, Europe, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South
Africa are also expected to attend this program.
Undoubtedly, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s visit to Sri Lanka
will redeem thousands of people from violence and hatred and lead them
to pace and harmony.
Abode of Lord Ayappa:
Pilgrimage to Sabari
Sabarimala or Mount Sabari – the holy abode of Lord Ayappa (also
spelled as Ayyappa or Ayyappan) is situated in the western coast of
Kerala, the southern state of India. Sri Ayappa is considered the third
son of Lord Shiva, and the brethren of Ganesha and Murugan or Kartikeya.
The deity is steeped in legend and is unique to Hinduism, particularly
Birth of Ayappa
Road to Mount Sabari
According to the ancient scriptures or Puranas and folk songs of
Kerala, Lord Ayappa was born out of Vishnu and Shiva. As the legend
goes, Lord Shiva was enamoured by the charms of ‘Mohini’, in which form
Vishnu appeared at the time of churning the mythical Ocean of Milk in
order to allure the ‘asuras’. Lord Shiva succumbed to the beauty of
Mohini and Hariharaputra – son of Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara) – was
born out of the union.
Pilgrimage and austerities
Every pilgrim is supposed to observe 41 days of continence or
‘brahmacharya’ starting with the ‘Maladharan’ ceremony, when the
prospective pilgrim adorns a garland of ‘tulsi’ (holy basil) or
‘rudraksha’ beads. The pilgrim maintains austerity of mind, body and
speech and spends his time visiting temples, praying and attending
During the Mandalam period, mid-November to the end of December, the
devotee wears coloured clothes like blue, black or ochre and grows a
The pilgrim virtually leads the life of an ascetic and is expected to
consume only ‘satvic’ food as explained in the Bhagavad-Gita and abstain
from meat, intoxicating drinks and tranquillizers.
The temple is open to all, except adolescent girls and young women,
irrespective of caste and religion. Small girls and women who have
attained menopause are only allowed inside the temple.
The Sacred Sack
The pilgrimage starts with the Kettunira ceremony, the filling up of
the ‘Sacred bundle’ (Irumudi), conducted either in one’s house or in a
Irumudi is a cloth bag of two compartments – front portion meant for
pooja articles and offerings and the rear portion for storing the
personal requirements for the holy trek.
The main offering to the Lord is the ghee-filled coconut and the
Irumudi is balanced on the head while trekking. Once the Kettunira
ceremony is over the pilgrim is ready for the pilgrimage.
All roads lead to Sabarimala
There are three routes to Mount Sabari – the Erumeli route, the
Vandiperiyar route and the Chalakayam route. Erumeli route is the
traditional and the most arduous route of the three. During the peak
season, buses fly up to Erumeli. From there pilgrims have to trek a
distance of over 60 km crossing three formidable hills – the Azhutha,
the Karimala and the Neelimala. The Vandiperiyar route is much shorter –
the distance to be covered on foot is 12.8 km through dense woods. The
third and the shortest route is via Chalakayam, which is near river
Pampa and the abode of Lord Ayappa is just 8 km away.
Atop Mount Sabari
With the relentless chanting of “Swamiye Saranam Ayappa” (“Lord
Ayappa Our Refuge”), pilgrims reach the holy forest abode of Lord Ayappa
atop Mount Sabari. One beholds the resplendent Patinettempadi, 18 golden
steps that lead pilgrims to the sanctum sanctorum of Dharma Sasta. All
the steps are five to six feet long and 8 inches wide.
The number 18 has great prominence – first five steps signify the
five Indriyas or senses – eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin; the next
eight steps symbolizes eight Ragas; the next three represents three
‘gunas’ - ‘satwa’, ‘rajas’, ‘thamas’ and the last two steps denote Vidya
(knowledge) and Avidya (ignorance). By scaling all the 18 steps, one
takes the path of self-realization.
The majestic gold-covered flag staff towers over the sanctum
sanctorum or Srikoil. It has a copper plated roof with four golden
finials or ‘thazhikakkudam’ shining at the top. Standing on the 18th
step, one is in front of the Srikoil and straight ahead is the idol of
Lord Ayappa in all His glory.
Facing the Ayappa Idol
The beautiful idol of Lord Ayappa is made of Panchaloha (a five metal
alloy) and is about one and a half feet high. Lord Ayappa sits in a
meditative pose, with a band around the folded legs and right hand in
‘chinmudra’ with the forefinger touching the thumb indicating ‘Thou art
that’. Lord Ayappa grants refuge to His devotees and protects them from
End of the journey
The devotee, before entering the house, breaks a coconut and lies
prostrate before the family deity and takes down the garland, breaking
the continence. The pilgrimage is symbolic of the transformation of the
individual self or in other words, a journey from ‘Jivatma’ to ‘Paramatma’.
How he put up a water stall
The Pandyas, refreshed after drinking the water sprang upon
When Rajendra Pandya was ruling, the Chola King, in order to go to
Madurai (capital of the Pandiya Kingdom) and worship at the sacred
shirine of God Somasundarar, wanted to befriend Pandya King. So he sent
him a lot of presents by way of gold ornaments, silk and other
The Pandya King also in return, sent the Chola King a lot of valuable
articles as gifts. Consequently their friendship was sealed.
The Chola King wanted to give his daughter in marriage to the Pandya
King. Rajendra Pandya’s brother Rajasinhan got to know of it and went to
Kanchipuram to wed the Chola princess. He was received with pomp and
pageantry and was married to the Chola princess.
Then the Chola King wanted to capture the Pandya Kingdom for his
son-in-law and went with a large army, and camped outside the city.
Having heard about it from his spies, Rajendra Pandya went to the
famous Somasundarar Temple and prayed to God Somasundarar, “O! Lord the
Chola King gave me a lot of gifts, just to come here and worship thee.
He then befriended me.
Now he has come with a large army to capture my kingdom. There was a
time when due to his charitable deeds thou stood by him - woud’st thou
help him now too?” There was an oracle (Asariri), “Pandya, you go with
your army to confront him, we’ll see you win.” Happily the king went
The next morning the Pandya king went with his small army to meet
Chola’s powerful army. It was as if a river clashes with the sea.
By the grace of God Siva, to the Cholas, every Pandya soldier
appeared as numerous. At mid-day both parties were tired because of the
heat and lack of water. So, both slowed down. At that time God Siva came
in the guise of a Sanyasi and in the midst of the Pandya army, set up a
stall with barrels full of water. The Pandya soldiers drank the water
and being refreshed sprang upon their enemies and defeated them. Some
Pandya soldiers captured Rajasinhan and the Chola King and brought them
before the king.
The Pandya king took them to the Madurai Somasundarar Temple and
requested God Siva to deal with them. He heard an oracle saying, “You
have a sense of justice. So you mete out justice to them.
Pandya King released the Chola King and giving him many a valuable
gift sent him back to his country. As for his brother Rajasinhan, the
Pandya King bereft him of his possessions and ostracized him. He was
fair and just to all his subjects.
A special ‘Magarajothy Mandala Pooja’ took place at the Sri
Sithi Vinayagar Kovil Kochchikade, Colombo 13 under the
patronage of International Hindu Religious Guru
Peedathipathy Sri Iyappadasa Sambasiva Sivachariyar. The
event was organized by the Kovil Iyappa Seva Mandam in
connection with the Sabarimalai Holy Pilgrimage this year.
A special book titled Sri Kanni Moola Sabari Malar published
by the Sri Sithi Vinayagar Kovil Trustees Board Dematagoda,
Colombo 9 was released at a ceremony held at the kovil
premises recently. Here the maiden copy being presented by
the Trustees Board President, Parama Samy (left) to
President’s Co-ordinator for Hindu Religious Affairs,
Sivashri Ravi Shankarak Kurukkal while the members look on.
The Hindu religious book, entitled, Shri Athikonanayakar
Thiruthala Yathirai authored by V Varadasundaram was
launched at the Sri Sithi Vinayagar Kovil Kochchikade
Colombo 13 recently. Here the maiden copy being presented by
Chief Priest, Bala Selva Vinayagar Moorthy Kovil Maradana
Colombo 10. P Shanmugaratna Sarma (right) to Siva
Nithiyananda Sarma, while Sivashri Sambasiva Iyappadasa
Sivachariyar and the author look on.
The felicitation and the award ceremony to honour members of
Arulmigu Sri Karumariamman Kovil, Elakala, Matale organized
by the kovil Trustees Board took place at the kovil premises
recently. Here Sivashri P Eaganathak Kurukkal receives the
award ‘Sivachariya Sigamani’ from the Kovil Trustees Board
Secretary M Sathees, in recognition of social and spiritual
services rendered by him towards the kovil and community.
Sivam Sivkumarak Kurukkal and the members look on. Pictures
by A Maduraveeran