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Hinduism:

The Aruthra Tharisanam (Ardhra Darshan)

One of the eight fasts (vrata) of importance in favour of Lord Siva, according to Kanda Puranam, is Thiruvathirai fast.

Those, who perform it, are expected to arise from bed before dawn, complete their daily ablutions, go to the Siva Temple, witness the anointing ceremonies, light ghee lamps, offer their prayers, view the Nadarajah’s procession and fast without food until the next day when they can partake meal with Saivite devotees after their early morning ablutions and Siva worship.

Patanjali, Vyakrapada and Munsishesha rishis are said to have followed this fast and obtained benefits according to puranic stories.

Arthirai: Only two out of twenty-seven stars are honoured with title “Thiru”. They are Athirai and Onam, which are assigned to Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu respectively. The Saiva world surprisingly has assigned a birthday for the Primordial.

Athirai seems to have been assigned to Lord Siva from very early times according to literary evidences (Kalitthogai; Paripadal). Athirai is also called Chemmin, meaning red star. The word Siva too has the meaning of a red person. Those who gave Siva a peerless position also assigned one of the biggest stars to him.

Markali Thiruvathirai: The last day of Thiruvembavai is the tenth day, which falls on Markali Thiruvathirai.

According to an old verse of Paripaddal, girls on Markali Thiruvathirai find out from elderly women how to perform the rites for Ambavadal and then start off the rites bathing in cold water before dawn and praying that the world become cool with sufficient rains in their ceremony.

The Bhagavada Purana also refers to a Karthiyayini fast performed in Markali by girls similar to the above one. The ceremony conducted by girls in favour of the Mother Goddess became extended to Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu irrespective of gender and age in later times.

This “Markali bathing” is referred to in some ancient poems (Narrinai; Ainkurunury; Kalitthogai) as “Thai bathing” because after the full moon in mid Markali we get part of Markali and part of Thai, there giving licence for both terms. Saivites recite the twenty verses of Thiruvembavai sung by Saint Manikkavasagar daily for ten days ending on Markali Thiruvathirai.

Vaishnavites recite the thirty verses of Thiruppavai sung by Saint Andal, one daily for the whole month of Markali. The divine charioteer, Lord Krishna observed that he is Markali of the calendar months and Thiruvathirai of the stars in Bhagavad Gita.

Ardhra Darshan: Saivites hold Markali Thiruvathirai as one of the most holiest days of Siva. Saint Thirugnana Sambandar singing to Poompavai asks whether she is going away without witnessing Athirai (Thirumarai).

It is significant that one of the six anointing ceremonies of Lord Nadarajah takes place on this day. Further Lord Nadarajah comes out in a procession of this day to give Darshan to his devotees.

In Sanskrit ‘Arthirai’ is called ‘Ardhra’ and the Thiruvathirai anointing ceremony is called Ardhra Abisheka and the Thiruvathirai viewing as Ardhra Darshan. It is held as a great achievement to be able to view Nadarajah’s procession on Markali Thiruvathirai in Chidambaram.

Saivites from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) used to go in boats to Vedarniyam (Thirumaraikadu) and then to Chidambaram for this ceremony annually in olden days. Travel restrictions between India and Ceylon put an end to this annual Saivite trek from Ceylon.

However lands and properties donated by Saivites in Ceylon to Chidambaram Nadarajah bear testimony to the attachment of Ceylon Saivites to Chidambaram and its Lord. There is a great festival in the ten days ending on Markali Thiruvathirai in Chidambaram. This will be followed by the anointing ceremony in the early hours of Markali Thiruvathirai.

Then it will be followed by the procession of Lord Nadarajah with his consort to bless the multitude of devotees. Chendanar of Cheppurai sang the Thiru Pallandu decade so as to get the chariot, which stuck in the mud to move on a Thiruvathirai procession in Markali (Thiru Pallandu).

His only decade forms one of the five hymns recited in Siva Temples even today. Nandanar’s ambition to get Arudhra Darshan saw no bounds. He was forced to go on postponing his departure day after day due to his subservience to his Master thereby earning for himself the name of Thiru Nalai Poovar. His story is the theme of a musical drama by Gopala Krishna Bharathi in the late 19th century.

The hermits of Darukavanam, due to their arrogance, overlooked the peerless Lord Siva, paying no heed to the path of knowledge, followed the pathway of Karma (action) and performed a huge fire ceremony.

The gracious Lord took the form of a beggar to enlighten them when he dropped in at the doorsteps of the hermits smitten by his Grace forgot what they were doing and followed him one after another.

The hermits became furious and brought one of the five dreadful creatures to destroy the Lord. Lord Siva destroyed all of them and stood upon one of them (Muyalagan) and performed a Tandava dance enlightening the hermits who was the Lord of the universe.

This darshan is said to have taken place on the Markali Thiruvathirai. Therefore viewing the procession of Nadarajah on this day is said to be very beneficial.

Thiruvathirai Kali (Mashed Flour): Cendanar of Naukoor, a disciple of Paddinattu Adigal, used to eat only after feeding some Saiva devotees. Due to a constant bad weather he could not get together all the essentials for a proper meal. He had no option but to mix water with flour and prepare a mashed paste. Lord Siva understood his predicament.

He wanted the people to know how sincere his devotee was to him. Therefore he disguised himself as a Siva devotee and visited Cendanar’s hut and enjoyed what was given to him as food. The temple attendants saw the premises scattered with the mashed paste the following morning.

Inquiries led to an understanding of Cendanar’s piety and he was thereafter bestowed with all due respect. This incident took place in a Markali Thiruvathirai. This is why Thiruvathirai Kali forms an important prasad on this holy day.

Famous Shiva Shrines: Next to Chidambaram, the Siva shrines at Perur, Kuttralum and Madurai are favours for this festival. In Sri Lanka, Karainagar Sivan temple called Eelattu Chidambaram has a great festival on this day.

Aum Muruga Journal


Saiva Siddhantha Conference

The Dynasty of Mount Kailash’ Sharmai Adinam is conducting its Fourth International Saiva Siddantha Conference at Madurai on March 21, 22 and 23, 2008.

This International Saiva Siddhantha Research Institute has been started by His Holiness the 26th “Gurumaha Sannidhanam of Dharumai Adhinam” in 1984. This Research Institute is publishing a monthly magazine called “Ganasambandam”, which Produces critical essays and research articles to Tamil World.


Aluth Mawatha All Ceylon Ananda Iyappa Devasthane organised a function to honour the pilgrims who completed 18 years of fasting. (pledging Saban mala). Here the traditional Brammasa Kandaru Mageswara Thandiri blessing (P. Subramaniam) by draping him with a shawl. Mani Samy, The Trustee of temple Raja Sivaraman was also honoured.
Aruna Ponnambalam, Kotagala group correspondent

Moreover this Saiva Siddhantha Research Institute conducted conferences in Dharmapuram in 1984, in Malaysia in 1986, and in Varanasi in 1988. the Saivaites of non-resident Indians, earnestly prayed to Sri-La-Sri Gurumaha Sannidhanam to make his presence in this conference and deliver his spiritual address as he is unable to visit foreign countries and many non-resident Indians are prepared to attend the conference convened by him. Hence this conference has been arranged in Madurai.

Saiva Samayam is age old and time old. Historical Researchers confess that it is earlier to the civilization of “Sindus”. The ancient and renowned Tamil Poet Bharathi Said’.

“Bharatha Nadu Pazham Perum Nadu-Neer athan Puthalvar Inninaivinai agatratheer”

Indian country is known for its Siva Worship and culture and Tradition. This Indian country has many Saiva Samaya literatures created by ancient Rishis and Intellectuals. This ancient and popular Saiva Samayam has been spread in and around the world. Many Saiva prophets produced many mythological songs on God. Concentrating on “Universe”.

This Saiva Samayam has, Vedas. Agamas, Myths, Epics, Sangam literatures, Twelve Thirumurais and Siddhantha records. Now these literatures and traditions based on cultures are in the verge on deterioration. The motto of this conference is to give life and rejunavate our ancient Saiva literature.

Besides a discussion on Saiva Samaya literature, questions and arguments, new thoughts and its creations on Saiva Siddhantham are emerging at present. To regulate these new creations creatively on research basis and to record them effectively are also the aim of the conference.

We invite experts and exponents in the Saiva Siddhantha Thirumurais in both India and outside India. Professors and resource persons are invited to this conference.

Many Saiva Mutts in India, Britain saiva temples union in London, All Ceylon Hindu union, Canada Hindu cultural Mantram and many saiva institutions in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Morisis, South Africa, America and Europe are participating in this conference.

Many Holiness and Head of Saiva Adhinams, many Sannidhanams, Ministers of India and Foreign Countries, Sivachariyars, University Professors, experts of Saiva Samayam and many temple trustees are participating in this conference.

A special souvenir is to be published on behalf of the conference.

The general title of the conference

“A research on the principles of Saiva Siddhantha in Vedic, Agama, Myths, Epic, Sangam Literatures, Thirumurais and Siddhantha Sathirangal.


Islam:

Politics in Islam

Politics is an integral part of an Islamic state, for that matter any state in the world. It is the ordinance of governance through politics a state should endeavour to transform itself to a welfare state.

An Islamic state is a combination of democracy, autocracy (not dictatorship) and theocracy guided by the principle of Holy Quran and the traditions of the Prophet namely Hadees.

The Holy Quran proclaims “Allah Malikul Mulk” Ruler of Rulers. He grants power to whom he likes and descends the power from whom he chooses. “He excels some and degrades some”. Allah has power over all things.

Political science is not limited to any country but politics as a medium of governance differs in each country. When one glances through the map of the world he will observe the political set up in Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and Australia quite contrary to the establish polity of United Nations and it is a political unity in diversity.

The political affairs of some Muslim countries are more theocratic based on religious doctrine. Some are autocratic based on individual rule and some are based on democratic principle.

It is true that politics in Islam is basically and relatively religious. It is true that power drives from Allah and Allah alone. It is true that Islam and Muslims must adhere to the established norms of human legitimacy. But it is also true that in Islam politics and that too a fair one with just and honour are the very basis of Islamic rule of law.

In the Islamic perspective politics is an ‘Amal’ or a virtuous act, if done in accordance with Ikhlas (sincerity), Ijma (unity) ‘wasath’ neutral and ‘Lillah’ (sake of Allah).

The political approach of Muslim in an Islamic state is based on equality, equanimity and brotherhood, as a common rule of Islamic unity guides the Ummath.

But Muslims living in a non Muslim state controlled by laws enacted by constitution and customs have to honour and respect these laws and act in a way that is not detrimental to the state and follow the rules and regulation without prejudice to Islamic teaching.

“Obey Allah, His prophet and those who are at the helm of affairs” (with power) is the quranic injunction for all Muslims who live in both Islamic and non-Islamic countries.

Islamic history records many incidents in which Islamic leaders have demonstrated this trait of governance.

The second caliph Hazarath Umar Bin Khathab (Rali) and caliph Umar Ibnu Abdul Azeez have exemplified the true political nature of a leader setting a shining example as to how to rule and reign a country. Be they Muslims, Christians and Jews, they treated all alike and gave them free access to them and adjudicated problems justly and fairly.

The best example of political amity and unity was shown during the rule of Tippu Sulthan, King Akbar, Mohamed Bin Cassim in India, ruler of Muslim Spain during the Crusades and Sulthan Salahudden all of them ruled a heterogeneous community with fairness, exhibiting the true natural position of Islamic politics.

The political and social aspect of Prophet Muhammed (sal) is well witnessed when he as the victor and successful leader conquered Mecca in Saudi Arabia, which is his birth place. He established and initiated a code of ethics, which can be termed in today’s phraseology as the declaration of human rights. In a sermon in Mount Arafath and later formulated a polity statement by proclaiming, “no one will get from me any vengeance but mercy for I am a messenger of mercy.”

The significant aspect of Prophet Muhammad’s (sal) life is the establishment of Islam as a religion, Muslims namely the sahabas as a community to live by that religion, a culture called ‘Sikafathul Islamiyya’ the Islamic culture to reflect the religions and society and finally an Islamic state in Madina in order the Islamic religion, Islamic society, the Islamic culture could flourish and prosper through sincere efforts in this Islamic state. Thus completing the political aspirations of the Ummath.

It must be borne in mind that a religion cannot exist without a society, a society cannot function without religion and culture, a culture cannot survive without religion and society and equally a state will not rule and administer, if all the four namely, Religion, Society, Culture and State are not adhered and activated through action and dedication.


Muslim fasting: (Assaum)

Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam. It is a duty, made obligatory to every Muslim in the month of Ramadhan. Muslim fasting is abstaining from any food and drink and from sensual desires, for the sake of Allah from dawn to dusk. By this exercise a Muslim generates will power to achieve a higher level of morality.

Allah says in Holy Quran, “Oh you who believe! fasting is prescribed to you as it had been prescribed to those before you, that you may learn self restraint.” Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) has said, “Whoever fasted in the month of Ramadhan with faith and wish for a reward from Allah, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”

By fasting, one becomes self-disciplined in every aspect. Fasting during Ramadhan bring our passions under control and thus gives a shine to our souls and removes the false sense of prestige in our minds. It is through this discipline that rich Muslims realise the hardships of their unfortunate or less fortunate brethren who are not in a position to get even one meal a day.

When we eat and drink throughout the year we develop many habits and become a slave to these habits. Hence, Allah has made fasting obligatory to get free from these habits such as smoking, drinking, gambling, backbiting, fraud, hot-temper and domestic violence... etc.

Fasting inculcates spirits of fortitude and gratitude. The atmosphere of Ramadhan is such that positive thoughts for the welfare of one and all are invoked. It involves a voluntary renunciation of all appetites of flesh for the defined hours with cheerful willing acceptance of this divine mandate. Islamic fasting is unique and different from other types of fasting observed in other religions.

In addition to the spiritual and social benefits obtained by fasting one could get a number of physical (or physiological) benefits too. By fasting functions of the body organs and systems become normalised. Regular fasting is responsible for increased secretion of growth hormones, development or unwrinkled skins, healthy mind and healthy body.

Patience is the key to success. Fasting traines a person to be patient in any aggravating situation. When man applies patience and tolerance in any difficult situation, he does not give into hasty reactions in response to emotional impulses but formulates a rational move to solve the problems peacefully.

The month of Ramadhan brings to the believers a set of programmes which include the day long fasting, the quran recitation and night prayers on the daily basis. Then the month is divided as our noble Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) said, into three parts: the first ten days are to seek mercy of Allah, while the second to seek forgiveness from Allah and the third to seek salvation from the hellfire. Ramadhan also has the night of power, which is better than one thousand months.

It is natural that Muslims give a warm welcome to the month of Ramadhan. However, they are expected as well to show a great deal of preparedness towards fulfilling the requirement of this significant and auspicious month. Our Muslim fasting ends with a feast ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’ looking forward for blessings and rewards from Allah. Let mankind get inspired by fasting to give our world a better future.

Compilation by A. W. M. Kaleel, KV/Paragahadeniya CC, Weuda.

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