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Wednesday, 3 February 2011






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Thiruvilayadal Puranam

God Siva changes His pose

It was during the reign of Wickremapandya’s son Rasasekarapandiyan that God Siva heeded the request of the king, his ardent devotee. Rasasekarapandyan learnt many art and skills and his fame spread far and wide. Once to his court came a poet from the Chola Kingdom. The Chola king was Karikalcholan – so named because one of his legs was burnt and was black. Karikalcholan was an accomplished man, has mastered the 64 forms of art, spoken of in Tamil literature, whereas the Pandya king Rasasekaram was skilled in all art forms except in Bharatha Natyam.

The poet from the Chola Kingdom praised Rasasekarapandyan, but said “O king – you are an adept of only 63 forms of art while my king Karikalcholan knows all the 64 forms of art. You do not know Bharatha Natyam. The Chola King knows that too.” Not to be beaten by the rival king, Rasasekarapandiyan decided to learn the dance of Siva too. He got down those who knew about Bharatha Natyam, and told them to teach him the art. While learning dancing, Rasasekarapandyan found his body and especially legs aching. He thought, “How painful it is to learn this dance. My Lord God Siva is forever standing on one foot (the right foot) with the left foot held high.

O my God! How can He stand this pain?” In his deep love and devotion to God Siva, he lamented thus.

He went to the temple and worshipping God Siva during the four Poosaris held early morning, noon, evening and night, fell prostrate in front of His shrine and tears streaming down his face implored God Siva to change His pose and stand on His left foot and lift the right foot so as to relieve the pain of standing on the right foot all the time.

Bharatha Natyam

”If it is not done, O God I’ll kill myself in thy presence,” he declared. God Siva who is always for the devotee, with His all knowing smile changed the pose to please His devotee. Rasasekarapandyan was overjoyed and overwhelmed that God Siva heeded his request. In the Somasundareswarar Temple in Madurai is the sculptured figure of Lord Nataraja standing on his left foot with the right foot raised.

Skeptics may think this is one’s imagination, but imagination or not this mythological story reveals one thing for sure – that God heeds the prayer of a true and sincere devotee. He reaches out to the pure of heart.

The sculpture with the changed pose at Somasundareswarar temple is an evidence for the God-devotee relationship. Rasasekarapandyan begged God Siva to be in Madurai forever in this changed pose.

So it is even now, at the Somasundareswarar temple which is close to the famous Madurai Meenadchi Amman Temple. After ruling for some time Rasasekarapandyan handed the kingdom to his son Kulotungapandyan and undertook a spiritual journey wherein he found bliss.

God Siva saves the King from misjudgment:

Like his father and ancestors, Kulothungapandyan was also a fervent devotee of God Siva. During his reign, a brahmin came towards Madurai with his wife and son. He had to trek through a jungle to reach Madurai. On the way his wife was thirsty and wanted water. He let his wife and son rest under a tree, and went to look for water.

God Siva

It so happened that an arrow shot by a hunter in the past got entangled in a leafy branch of the tree. Due to a strong wind, the arrow fell on the stomach of the brahmin’s wife. She died due to this accident.

A hunter who had come that way went to rest under the tree on the other side. When the brahmin returned, he saw his wife dead, and looked around to see who had shot the arrow.

On spotting the hunter, he accused him of killing his wife, and though the hunter protested the brahmin dragged him along to Madurai. He carried the baby and flung his wife’s body on his shoulder and bade the hunter to come to Madurai and seek justice from the king.

When they went to the palace, he kept the lifeless body of his wife down, and pushing the hunter in front told the guards how the hunter had killed his wife and wailed aloud calling for justice. “This is a city where even when the king is asleep, dharma would be maintained and protected.

If this is true, how did the murder happen? Here is one who has done a cruel deed in such a kingdom.”

The guards informed the king about it. The king was much worried at such an injustice done under his rule. He asked the brahmin what happened. The brahmin related his case. Then the king asked the hunter what happened. He said that he stood under the tree to rest and relax and that he had no reason to kill a woman. “I do not even know her.” Though circumstantial evidence points to the hunter as the culprit, the wise king felt that the hunter was honest.

However he was in a dilemma. The king told the brahmin to go and perform the last rites for his wife and come back. He would find justice done. When the brahmin came back, the king told him to wait at the temple entrance, and went in and prayed to God Sundreswarar to solve the problem. Then he heard an asariri (oracle). “Pandya, tonight there will be a wedding at the Chetty Street on the outskirts of the city. Go there with the brahmin. You will find the answer.” So the king in camouflage went for the wedding with the brahmin. Now in Hindu scriptures, the God of Death is Yama. When one’s time is up, he sends his emissaries called Kinkarar to detach the soul from the body and take it to Lord Yama who would decide what his next birth would be according to his Karma on earth. While the brahmin and the king waited in the nuptial hall, they heard two kinkarars talking. One said, “Today we must take the life of the bridegroom. How can we do it?” The other answered, “Do you remember how we took the life of the brahmin’s wife, by creating a wind to make the arrow fall on her stomach.

Same way, let’s worry one of these fierce bulls to lose control and rushing into this hall and with its horns pierce his heart.”

(It was an era when people could understand the language of animals and birds and spirits). Both the king and the brahmin heard this. The king asked the brahmin, “Did you hear what they said.” The brahmin replied, “If what they said happens now I’ll accept my wife’s death was an accident.” Even as he spoke, the bull rushed into the hall, and frightened by all the noise of the drums and trumpets rushed towards the nuptial dais and gored the bridegroom.

The brahmin was full of remorse for falsely accusing the hunter. Both the brahmin and the king pacified the hunter and begged forgiveness for accusing him. The king went to the Shrine of Somasundareswarar and worshipped Him. But for God Siva, he would not have solved the problem.

Thilaka V Wijeyaratnam

Lotus flower in Hinduism

The lotus is a popular ancient Hindu symbol with deep significance; representing many ideas relating to creation, beauty, fertility and spiritual power. The lotus is called “padma” in Sanskrit and is one of the most revered flowers in Hinduism. Believed to originate from the beginning of creation, the lotus represents beauty and non-attachment because it is rooted in the mud yet floats on water without becoming dirty. For Hindus, this symbolizes the manner in which people ought to live.

Lotus flower in Hindu scriptures

The lotus flower dates back to more than 6,000 years in Hindu scriptures, culture and religion. It is used as a motif in temples, sculptures, architecture and paintings. Many references to the lotus can be found in the Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and countless other Sanskrit literature.

The Taittiriya Brahmana describes how Brahma saw a lotus leaf (pushkara parna) emerging from the ocean and a golden thousand-petal lotus flower grew from the water. Another more popular story describes a lotus growing from the navel of Vishnu, and Brahma at the center of the flower.

Lord Krishna uses the flower as a symbol in the Bhagavad Gita by saying: “One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.” Here it is advised to be like the lotus and be unaffected by karma by working without attachment.

Lotus and Hindu Deities

The lotus flower is associated with numerous Hindu deities; notably goddess Lakshmi, Krishna, Brahma, Sarasvati and Vishnu. Powerful deities are usually seen with the lotus symbol. Krishna is often described as the “lotus-eyed one,” referring to his divine beauty.

Lakshmi is often described as the goddess of fortune, and is depicted as sitting or standing on a pink lotus. She also holds a lotus in Her right hand and the Mahabharata claims that Lakshmi emerged from a lotus growing from Lord Vishnu’s forehead. The lotus used as a divine seat for a deity signifies their divinity and is called a “padmasana.”

Meaning of Lotus flower

Lotus represents beauty, purity, fertility and divinity in Hinduism and is also a popular symbol for creation. David Kinsley describes the lotus as having two distinctive meanings; the first is a symbol of fertility and second as representing purity and spiritual power.

He also links the lotus with creation of the material world: “The lotus, and the goddess Sri-Laksmi by association, represents the fully developed blossoming of organic life. At the macrocosmic level the lotus might be taken as a symbol of the entire created world.

Sri Muththumari Amman Annual Pancharatha Festival

The annual festival of Matale Sri Muththumari Amman Temple commenced on January 26, with the hoisting of the flag. Further, the Board of Management has made elaborate arrangements to conduct this year’s festival successfully as in the past. In fact, Matale is an ancient historical town and even pilgrims from South India have visited this holy temple during the olden days and since then the Chariot festival continued from generation to generation where Sri Lankans irrespective of race, religion and caste participate in large numbers.

Sri Muththumari Amman Temple

In Hinduism the Supreme Lord is represented by Maheswara and His power is represented by His consort Sakthi, Durga Devi, Kali, Muththumari Amman, and various other names. Just as the husband and wife take care of the family, so also does Lord Shiva and Sakthi look after the affairs of the universe. Sakthi is the embodiment of power. She is the Supreme power by which the world is made to function.

In one of his poems T S Eliot has described the predicament of man who with all the progress and success he has made in science and technology finds that “Endless inventions, endless experiments bring us knowledge of motion, but not of stillness, knowledge of words and not of the word. Lord Shiva without Shakthi is all stillness. It is Sakthi which stirs in him the motion and speech.

Shiva is the word, it is Sakthi which moves him to words. The union between them is represented by the image of Shiva as “Ardhanariswara”, half man and half woman, Sakthi herself takes different forms. Sometimes she is stern and formidable of the many Gods in Hindu Pantheon none is revered more than mother Goddess.

She is Paravathy, Durkai, Mariamman and Kali. If Shiva symbolises cosmic energy in passive form, Sakthi symbolises if in the dynamic form. In fact, the “Varaha Purana” explains Sakthi in the form of Durga as symbolizing the hounds of passions, love, hate, greed, vanity, illusion, contempt, envy, jealous - let loose in the strife of the eternal spirit struggling for victory over dying matters and finally sublimating into eternal good and light and these energies finally merging in the body of Durga.

Indeed, Sri Muththumari Amman in Matale has done several miraculous deeds to Her devotees. Several years ago a woman who loot her “Thali” during Chariot Festival got it back with the Divine Grace of Sri Muththumari Amman.

Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman

It is very often said that “the creator of the universe resides in the naval of Lord Vishnu. Similarly in the hearts of men reside the creative urge and faith of the world.

This is clearly evident from the manner the people of Matale pray to Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman.

During, the “Pancharatha” festival the statues of God Ganesha, God Muruga, Goddess Muththumari Amman, God Shiva and God Sandeswarar are decorated and illuminated and taken along the streets in chariots followed by Poojas, Bhajans and Archanai by devotees.

The chariots are pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees with no racial differences where the rich and the poor mingle shoulder to shoulder in pulling the chariots, clustering around the temple where the Goddess preside.

In the tradition of the Hindu Literature the “Rathas” or “Chariots” are replicas of the human body. The Deity in the Sanctum or on the Chariot reminds us of the truth that the God is seated in the heart of each individual. In fact, the high towers of the temple with the marvellous decorations and motifs denote man’s aspiration to Godhood.

During the festival Deities are taken out from the temple decorated and mounted on Vahanas or Vehicle like the horse or the elephant for two reasons.

The first is to help even those who are unable to visit the temple with the Deity’s Dharshan and secondly to show the maker of all creations.

The chariot which represents our body is yoked to four horses (the sense organs) wherein the individual sit, dejected and despondent, driven by the intellect which with the mind guide the horses. These horses represent human passions and the reins symbolise the necessity or restraining in guiding the passions.

The journey of the Chariot through the streets is an emblem of progress of life and the lesson is that throughout his life and must control and guide its passions with the help of the soul. These passions are the driving force of life, but if untrained and unguided will wreck a man’s life. This is the symbolic meaning of the Chariot.

If one worships Goddess Sri Muththumari Amman of Matale with utter devotion and utter her pure name and contemplate and surrender ourselves at Her Lotus feet we will undoubtedly receive her Divine Blessings.

A (Eighteen steps) Magarajothy Mandala pooja took place at the Jeyanthi Nagar Ginthupitiya Sri Sivasubramaniyar Swamy Kovil Colombo under the patronage of Chief Guruswamy P Ravindra Kumaran. The event was organised by the Arulmigu Aathi Sri Iyyappa Swamy Seva Sangam Colombo to mark the Sabarimalai Iyyappa Holy pilgrimage. A Magarajothy Mandala special pooja ceremony in connection with the Sabari Malai Holy Pilgrimage took place on Magarajothy Darishana day at Sri Gnanabairavar Hindu Kovil, Grandpass, Colombo. Here Head of Iyyapra Seva Peedam and President’s Co-ordinator for Hindu Religious Affairs Sivashri Balaravi Shankarar Kurukkal performing the pooja.
A Prathista festival for the Deities, Vishnu and Murugan at the Vinayagar Kovil affiliated to the Ratnaramaya Viharaya Boralesgamuwa took place last week. Here Chief Priest K Wytheswarak Kurukkal performing the special pooja. A special Thai Pongal pooja festival organised by the All Ceylon Hindu Congress (ACHC) took place at its headquarters at Sri Chittampalam A Gardiner Mawatha, Colombo 2. Sivashri Govindar Kurukkal President ACHC V Kailasappillai, Vice Presidents K Thavayogarajah, S Arulananthan and Treasurer K kandasamy also participated.
Pictures by: A Maduraveeran


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