Tuesday, 21 December 2010


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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 centuries.

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.

Diverse traditions

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 togetherness.

Human values

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 history.

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 well-being.

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 2007.

Religious leaders

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 to Kerala.

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 religious discourses.

During the Mandalam period, mid-November to the end of December, the devotee wears coloured clothes like blue, black or ochre and grows a beard.

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.

Entry restricted

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 temple.

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 all evil.

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’.


Thiruvilayadal Puranam:

How he put up a water stall

The Pandyas, refreshed after drinking the water sprang upon their enemy

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 valuables.

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 back.

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

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