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.
”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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
||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
|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
||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