Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sonde-Sacred Place of Guru Shri Vadiraja Teertha

Hi! This is my second post in Punya Kshetra Series in which I plan to write about many important holy sites and shrines of India.
In this post I would like to give some detailed information on Sonde.My main intention in starting this series is to give a brief insight about the pilgrimage centres,facilities available in those places to make the pilgrims comfortable.
This December end ,we wound up 2011 by visiting Sonde, a beautiful place which is blessed with the Brindavana ( sacred tomb ) of Shri Vadiraja, a great Madhwa Saint of the period 1480 AD-1600 AD.

Sode,also known as Sonde/Sonda and Swadi is at about 2000 ft altitude, is surrounded by Shalmali river and is situated in the present Uttara Kannada district some 20 Kms from Sirsi town.
Sode Village, eventhough it was a capital of a province under Vijayanagar empire five centuries ago, today activities  revolve around  Shri Vadiraja mutt which was also known as Kumbhasi Mutt before Vadiraja Teertha.
The mutt is approached by road through beautiful ,thick forests, lovely hills,water bodies like lakes and a river.
Dvaja Sthamba in front of Trivikrama Temple
As one nears the Sode Mutt,first to be sighted is the lake known as Hayagrive Samudra.Towards the west of this lake,crossing an arch of the Temple Entrance, stands a Dvaja Sthamba in front of the Ramaa Trivikrama Temple.Hamsa and Garuda are depicted on the dvaja sthamba.
The Ramaa Thrivikrama Temple consists of three parts-the sanctum sanctorum with the lovely idol of Lord Trivikrama,the stone chariot used for transporting Lord's idol and the idol of Sri Lakshmi Devi in the chariot.
To the south of the temple stands a stone incription recording the grant of land to the temple by Arasappa Nayaka.
To the north of the temple and down some 24 steps is the Rajangana which also houses the mutt's offices.Here is the entrance to the mutt,the puja mandir(ananthaasana),stores and kitchen.
Further down a flight of 24 steps,is the' Dhavala Ganga' pushkarini along with a smaller 'Sheethala Ganga' tank nearby.The waters of these tanks are believed to be a confluence of all holy rivers of India.
Dhavala Ganga Pushkarini
Around the pushkarini are located several small temples consecrated by Sri Vadiraja Teertha-Shri Chandramouleeshwara on south,Sri Veera Anjaneya on the west ,Sri Venugopalaswamy on the north.
Towards the east of Pushkarini is situated the pancha vrindavans with the vrindavan (Sacred Tomb)of Sri Vadiraja Teerha situated  in the centre surrounded by four more vrindavans forming a perfect square.In front of vrindavans is the temple of Sri Vedavyasa.On the right (to the south) of vrindavans is the temple of Kshetrapala-Bhootha raja.To the north is nagavana.
Also situated near the pancha vrindavans are four moola vrindavans and five mruttika vrindavans.
Uniqueness of Sode mutt
Serene surroundings around the mutt
Sode mutt is unique in many ways.It is a non commercial pilgrimage centre, i.e., there are no unnecessary shopping area to distract devotees attention.There are 2 shops where they sell required puja materials to the devotees.No Thefts,No misbehaviour in that entire area.People there in sonde attribute this to the Kshetrapala BhoothaRaja who protects the pilgrims from all these mishaps.There is a serene peaceful atmosphere in the entire mutt area where you can see devotees performing sandhyavandanam,reading scriptures and  practising meditation without disturbing others.
No wonder that spiritual people get addicted there to such wonderful atmosphere where the air is filled with divinity and reverence.
How to reach Sonde
Sonde /Sode is accessible by well maintained roads.There are Buses plying from Bangalore,Pune etc.
Nearest Railway stations are Hubli,Talegoppa.
From Hubli ,Sonde can be reached via Khalgatgi,Yellapur,Sirsi.From Sirsi it is just 20 kms.Hubli-Sonde is 120 kms and can be covered in 2 hours by Road.
Accomodation and Food
There are many rooms built by Mutt Authorities in buildings like RAJADHAMA and they charge a nominal Rs.150/- per room with an attached Bathroom and Toilet(Indian).The room is 10 by 10 dimensions with a wooden cot and 2 mats are provided by the authorities for each room.No mattresses and blankets.So Pilgrims should carry their own Blankets.Toilets are clean and well maintained.Rooms are available on First come First served basis.
As far as food is concerned,there is no problem in Sonde.At 11 am in morning they serve superb lunch and at 7.30 pm,dinner is provided to the pilgrims.The main Prasad there is 'Hayagriva'(contains cooked Bengal gram,jaggery,coconut etc) which is named after Vadiraja's favourite deity Hayagriva who is a form of MahaVishnu.They don't charge anything for food.Pilgrims can offer Donations for Annadaan at office.Sincere volunteers serve the food to the pilgrims.People who want Breakfast /coffee etc can get them in a nearby small hotel.There are 1 or 2 houses which prepare food at request for pilgrims.
Place where Bhootharaja Bali Puja is performed 
Puja,Aarthis are all held with great rigid rituals and splendour in Sode mutt by the Achars present in the mutt.In the evening,Bhootharaja Bali Puja is also conducted in the evening.A coconut is rolled by the devotees in Bhutharaja Sannidhi for fulfillment of their wishes.
Dress code-Shirt and Banians for Men are not allowed inside the Mandir.
Sankalpa Seva
Sankalpa Seva is one of the common seva offered in many madhwa mutts like Mantralayam and Sonde.
At Sode, Sankalpa Seva is quite different from that of Mantralayam.
Devotees who undertake Sankalpa to do the pradakshina Seva are required to buy the Seva tickets the previous day and report to the Acharya in the mutt early morning with a coconut.
First,Take a dip in Dhaval Ganga Tank,Wear a madi vastra or new vastra and go to the Acharya in the mandir to take the sankalpa.After Sankalpa is taken,Acharya hands over the coconut to the respective devotees and from then on,the coconut should be handled with so much care that it doesn't touch the ground till the seva is completed.
Then,Start the 7 Pradakshinas with Wet Madi Vastra.The coconut should be tied tightly with a long towel on the right side around the waist.Before each pradakshina dip 7 times in DhavalaGanga  and  while doing pradakshina 12 namaskaras have to be done to each small mandirs in the route of Pradakshina which covers Tulsi,Veera Anjaneya,Venugopalaswamy,Nagavana,Vadiraja,Bhootharaja , Brindavans and Chandramouleeshwara.After completing each pradakshina and after dipping 7 times in pushkarini,ladies should apply haldi,kumkum and gents should apply Gopi chandan on their foreheads.After completing the 7 big pradakshinas ,climb 50 steps to reach Trivikrama Temple and perform 7 Pradakshinas there.This entire seva takes 50 minutes to 1 hour.Come back to Dhaval Ganga ,Tie the cloth carrying coconut near Veera Anjaneya Temple.Change to dry Madi Vastra (Special changing compartments are there for Ladies) and  perform 108 Pradakshinas around the Pancha Brindavan in Mandir with 2 Namaskars per Pradakshina,one for Vadiraja and one for Bhootharaja.Time taken for 108 pradakshinas is around 3 and a half to 4 hours.While doing seva,chant simple mantras like "Vadirajaya Pahimaam,Bhootharajaya Rakshamaam".It adds to the divinity of the entire process,Seva is performed for 3 or more days.Once Seva is completed,on last day Krishnarpanam is performed by Acharya where he hands over the coconut to the devotee.
Rules to be followed during Seva

  • Follow simple lifestyle like sleeping on mats,don't wear footwear,don't shave or use cosmetics.
  • No Physical Intimacy between Couple on Seva days.
  • Food offered in mutt should only be consumed.Avoid Coffee,Tea.
  • In the evening Mutt authorities provide simple food like Upma,Flattened Rice to devotees performing seva.
  • Devotees are expected to spend their leisure time in Spiritual matters rather spending time in Gossiping.
  • In case of Nature's call amidst Seva time,devotees have to change to their normal dress,attend the call,after that take bath in Dhaval Ganga and change to Madi vastra and continue the Seva .       


It was a wonderful and fulfilling experience in Sonde for all of us.The entire place is full of Positive Vibrations ,rejuvenating and is peaceful.
I would like to end this post with Sri Vadiraja Mantra
Kamadenuh yatha purvam sarvaabheesta palapradaa
Thathakalau Vadirajah sripadobheeshtah sathaam
Srinamo Vadirajaaya deerghadaaridrya ghatine
Rajabhogapradathrecha namostu jayadayine

[Meaning:- Very much like the Kamadenu of the past yugas granting all our wishes,in this kaliyuga,Sri Vadiraja grants fulfillment of all our wishes.
Salutations to you Sri Vadiraja who destroys all our deep seated poverty and bestows upon all riches and leading us to victory in all our endeavours.]

Sri Vadiraja Teertha Sri Sode Vadiraja Mutt-A Brief Perspective by Gowdagere Vijaya Kumar Acharya.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shirdi - Spiritual Centre of SaiBaba (Punya Kshetra Series-1)

Sai Baba,one of the foremost saints of modern India,lived in Maharashtra for sixty years and elevated it to the status of a great spiritual centre.He never stirred out of that village during this long period except for visits to two villages,Neemgaon and Rahata, three miles on either side of Shirdi.He never preached,toured nor discoursed.He never advertised himself.He rather shunned and discouraged unnecessary publicity.Yet by sheer brilliance of his spiritual fire he did draw innumerable devotees to him from all over the country,irrespective of their caste and creed.When he took Samadhi in 1919 he never installed anyone as a successor to his spiritual throne at Shirdi.Yet his very power to mould and develop his devotees is such that even more than 90 years of his Samadhi SaiBaba is still a dynamic spiritual force which countless Indians invoke for their spiritual and material welfare.
The Speciality of Sai baba is,His gospel and teachings emphasize that religious and communal differences are meaningless in matters of the spirit.So,Shirdi attracts people from all religions and sects and stands as a symbol of Spiritual Unity.

Shirdi is located in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.Distance from Ahmednagar town is 80 kms.Distance from Mumbai is 300 kms.Shirdi-Pune is 186 kms.Nashik-Shirdi is 90 kms.(All distances are approximate)
By Road- It is accessible via Ahmednagar-Manmad state highway 10.It takes 4 1/2 hours to 5 hours from Pune.Roads are in good condition.It takes 6 to 7 hours from Mumbai.Ghat Sections in between and no proper signboards.It takes 3 hours from Nashik to Shirdi.Roads are not in good condition and just 2 lane.So not able to handle the traffic.
By Railway-Nearest is Sainagar Railway Station,Shirdi and next is Kopergaon Station which is just 15 kms away from shirdi.
Locally many Auto Rickshaws are available.
Important Places to visit in Shirdi
  1. Samadhi Mandir- This is where Baba's Physical Body is placed.This is also known as Buti Wada and was built by famous devotee of Baba,Bapusaheb Buti.Till today Baba has kept up his promise to his devotees "My Tomb will speak and move with those who make me their sole refuge.I shall be active and vigorous from the tomb also".
  2. Dwarakamayi- Mosque in Shirdi in which Baba lived for 60 years.Baba called this mosque as Dwarakamai with love and affection.Dhuni lit by Baba ad well maintained by Sansthan.Holy Ash or Udi/Vibhuti distributed to devotees is from this Dhuni.
  3. Nandadeep in Lendi baug- A deepam lit by Baba and maintained by Sansthan.
  4. Gurusthan- The place of the neem tree under which Sai Baba stayed in early days of his advent at Shirdi and under which,it is believed ,were buried the mortal remains of his Guru.Literally the word means the abode of Guru.
  5. Chavadi -Sai Baba used to sleep in Masjid and Chavadi on alternate nights.On December 10,1909, the devotees started worshipping him at the Chavadi.They led him there in a ceremonial procession with all pomp and splendour.Even today Chavadi processions are held on Thursdays.
  6. Khandoba Mandir- This is where Baba alighted with a marriage party when he arrived Shirdi for the second time.

 All these places are near to Samadhi Mandir and in a walking distance from each other.
There is a Museum inside the Temple Complex where articles used by Baba are kept for display.Devotees who have time and interest can visit this Museum.
 Accomodation & Food

There are many private hotels in Shirdi and Sai Sansthan also offers good accomodation  for varying price range.Sai Sansthan rooms can be booked online on
Booking can be made 60 days prior to visit.'Dwarawati' Sai Sansthan Trust's Complex has very nice,clean,good quality rooms.Both AC and Non AC.
All types of food,Punjabi,South Indian, Maharashtrian,Gujarati are available in various restaurants in Shirdi.Restaurants are mainly located  near the four gates of the Temple complex and the main road.
Sansthan also has made arrangements for selling Tea,Coffee,Milk and Mineral water at Subsidized rates which are available in selected counters.Sansthan also provides free food for needy and poor every day at Prasadalaya Complex from the donations offered by devotees.So no one in Shirdi will go hungry as per Sai Baba's famous Teaching "Give food to the hungry, water to the thirsty and clothes to the naked.Then God will be pleased".

Sai Sansthan has provided excellent Online facility (on above mentioned website) for booking Advanced Tickets for Aarti and Darshan for the required Time slots.Devotees can choose convenient Time slots and book their Tickets well in advance.Aarti Ticket per head is Rs.300/- and Darshan Ticket per head is Rs.100/- .Free Darshan in Queue System is also followed.Temple opens at morning 4.00 am for Kakad Aarti at 4.30 am and Samadhi Mandir closes at 11 pm night.Chavadi and Gurusthan closes at 9 pm and Dwarakamai at 9.30 pm.Prasad Counters are inside the Temple Complex.
Mobiles and Cameras are not allowed inside the Temple Complex.

Planning to continue this Punya kshetra series for different holy places I visit so that pilgrims who plan to visit these holy places are benefitted.

Sai Baba the Master by Sri .E. Bharadwaja.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Who is Eligibile to take Sanyas?

Hi! After a very long break I am resuming my blogging activity in My Spiritual Space.
The trigger to this post is the recent scandals of the so called Swamijis . Every day some adventures of these  Sanyaasis pop out  in the News papers and TV News channels.

I am completely annoyed by this ever increasing numbers of these fake sanyasis,so I thought that I should analyse some of the basic eligibility or criteria required to renounce the world.If any of these wannabe sanyasis know the qualifications or eligibility to accept sanyas ,they would not opt for this tough path at all.
Accepting Sanyas or proceeding towards self realization should not be out of an impulsive decision or it should not be taken as a lucrative business.We are  human beings who have lots of inherent qualities,desires which are  characteristic to our species. Even though we accept that Desire is the root cause of all evil,a main principle of Lord Buddha ,by nature we are not designed to conquer all these desires.We Human beings can exercise certain control over these desires so that no harm is caused to a co creature. Renouncing world is not for common man.Only one person in a crore or ten crores is designed for such a tough task. It is not the job of every Tom,Dick and Harry.

Four things are common to all the creatures,viz., food,sleep,fear and sexual union.In the case of man, he is endowed with a special faculty , viz, knowledge , with the help of which he can pave a good path for himself  so that his co creatures are not disturbed by him.This is where the special value of human species lies.By utilizing his wisdom and knowledge,certainly he can elevate to a better  level compared to his other Homo sapiens Friends.But Just because one acquires a superior level one cannot proclaim himself as a Sadguru or a Godman.
Today, even a person who has complete mastery of words and can enrapt the audience with his oratory skills is elevated to a level of Sadguru.The disciples go there to seek knowledge and spend their money,time and labour;but ultimately they have to repent.The Guru there boasts of his secret knowledge.He makes a grand show of his sacredness and holiness.But as far as self realization is concerned,he has none.So before proclaiming one person as a Sadguru ,one should be aware of what Self Realization is.

Qualifications for Self Realization

All persons who self proclaim to be a Sadguru do not see or realize Brahma in their life time.

Certain qualifications are absolutely necessary.

1.Intense desire to get free.He who thinks that, he is bound and that,he thinks that he should get free from bondage and works earnestly  and resolutely to the end and who does not care for any other thing is qualified for spiritual life.

Today's Gurus fail in this first discipline itself. Swanky cars, Airconditioned  Ashrams ..These are the basic requirements for a guru today.

2. Virakthi or a feeling of disgust with the things of this world and the next.Unless, a man feels disgusted with the materialistic things,emoluments and honours, he has no right to enter the  spiritual realm.

The first thing our Gurus do after taking Sanyas is prefixing some great holy title to cheat the innocent people.

3.Our senses have been created by God with a tendency to move outward and so,man always looks outside himself and not inside.He who wants self realization and immortal life,must turn his gaze inwards,and look to his innerself.

This is a very difficult criteria then why the hell these fraudsters  adapt sanyas , and make a mock of the ochre garb.

4.Catharsis from(purging away of) sins.Unless a man has turned away from wickedness, and stopped from doing wrong,and has entirely composed himself, and unless his mind is at rest,he cannot gain self realization,even by means of knowledge.

Today's fake swamis are known for their infamous deeds like rapes,molestation and abuse.

5.Right Conduct.Unless a man leads a life of truth,penance and insight , a life of celibacy, he cannot get God Realization.

If  a person is unable to fulfill this criteria ,then they should never think about Sanyas.

And the other qualifications are

6.Shun Greed and attachment.

7.Control of mind and senses.

8.Purification of the mind.

9.Necessity of a Guru.

If all these qualifications are present in a person,then he is eligible to take Sanyas.

With not even a single criteria met, lots of wannabe Gurus have mushroomed in recent times.So it is very difficult to find a genuine spiritual master among the half baked ones with false claims.It is the latter class that make an organized religion an odious mess that repels the cultured sect.

There are several clever ones who can still successfully deceive people-"wolves in the lamb's coat" as the Bible says.

But my advice to these wannabe Sanyasis is, Please don't ever dream to shun this wordly life.You and I are not designed for that lifestyle. why are you adopting a course when you are not ready for the ordeal ,it is a tough path to tread, self restraint and control of senses is very difficult in these modern times.

So,my dear Fraudster brethren! Marry a beautiful girl of your choice, choose some other lucrative career to make your life spicy and leave us alone in this search of our spiritual contentment.

Reference :Sai Satcharitra(English) by Nagesh Gunaji,  SaiBaba the Master by E.Bharadwaj.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hindu Gods and Untouchability-Part 3

After writing about Kanakadasa and Kannappa Nayanar in part 1 and part 2,In this post I am writing about Maaraneri Nambi who was honoured by Lord Shri Ranganathar posthumously.In previous posts the two devotees were blessed during their respective lifetime.But here ,it is an entirely different story.This wonderful incident features in Shri Ramanujacharya's Life History.

When we read the great lives of these 3 acharyas who spreaded Advaitham,Dwaitham and Vishishtadwaitham ,We come to know that they followed excellent principles during their life time and they treated people of all sects equally because they knew the ultimate truth that God lives in all beings.But the present day followers of all these 3 philosophies who constitute the major chunk of the so called uppercastes neither study their acharya's Life history thoroughly nor follow their teachings and principles with sincerity.They are more happy in taking false pride about their caste ranking in the varna system which fuels the discriminative attitude.Now let us proceed with the post.

Shri Ranganathar's grace on Maaraneri Nambi
First let me introduce the important characters of this post for those who don't know the history.
Aalavandhaar (ஆளவந்தார்)- Grand son of Nadamuni(நாதமுனி) who wrote a concised collection of Naalayira Divya prabandham(நாலாயிர திவ்ய பிரபந்தம்).Aalavandhaar was a great Vaishnavaite guru and acharya.

Periya Nambi(பெரிய நம்பி)-A great disciple of Aalavandhaar.He belonged to a brahmin subsect.(I am specifying the caste because it is required for this post) and he was also a great Vaishnavite Acharya.

Atthuzhai(அத்துழாய்) -Daughter of Periya Nambi.

Thirukachi Nambi (திருக்கச்சி நம்பி)-Another great disciple of Aalavandaar.He belonged to Vysya Caste.Young Ramanujachar used to approach him to clarify many of his spiritual doubts.

Maaraneri Nambi(மாரனேரி நம்பி) - Another disciple of Aalavandhar.Belonged to Harijan Caste.He was also a great Vaishnavite Acharya.Both Periya Nambi and Maaraneri Nambi studied together under Aalavandhar.Aalavandhar had always admired and appreciated Maaraneri Nambi's staunch devotion to Lord Vishnu.

One interesting point to note is that Lord Varadharaja Perumal had appeared in the dream of Thirukkachi Nambi and instructed him to convey to Ramanujachar that he should accept Periya Nambi as his Guru.From that day onwards Ramanujachar became the disciple of Periya Nambi.

Periya Nambi and Atthuzhai had great admiration for Maaraneri Nambi because of his devotion and good qualities.In his later stage when Maaraneri Nambi fell sick,Periya Nambi served him in many ways,He prepared food in his house and took it to Maaraneri Nambi's House to feed him.Periya Nambi attended his sick friend very lovingly.In fact Ramanujachar himself was astonished on seeing Periya Nambi serving Maaraneri Nambi inspite of all caste barriers.

Such people who think beyond castelines have always inspired awe and respect in me.A Brahmin Acharya serving Harijan Acharya,isn't it wonderful.Will our people learn lessons from this?

When Maaraneri Nambi died,Periya Nambi did all his funeral rites with due respect.This attitude of her father increased Atthuzhaai's respect for her Father.Ramanujachar also could easily understand Periya Nambi's way of thoughts.
But other people in that town didn't accept Periya Nambi performing funeral rites for a Harijan.They got agitated and imposed a ban on Periya Nambi's family.They covered Periya Nambi's House with a thorny fence and ordered that Periya Nambi's family members should not come out of their house and nobody should enter Periya Nambi's House.

When this ban was on,Shri Ranganathar's Utsav was held in ShriRangam.During that festival a chariot procession of Shri Ranganathar was held with great pomp and splendour.Chariot entered the street where Periya Nambi's house was located.On seeing the chariot Atthuzhaai Ammayaar came out of the house,prostrated in front of the chariot with great devotion,got up and spoke with a loud voice."Swear on Thee!Holy Order on thy Name!" (திரு நின் ஆணை ! நின் ஆணை கண்டாய்! ) and stood before the Chariot.

Ignoring startled people around,she stood infront of the Lord's Chariot and continued with a loud voice,"Didn't you play and have food with Shepherd boys? Didn't you recognize and honour the devotion of Thiruppaanazhwar who belonged to a low caste?Won't you approve the act of my father doing funeral rites to Maaraneri Nambi?These people have boycotted my father and have put thorny fence in front of our house.Oh!Lord!What is your opinion about my father's deed ?Is it right or wrong?Till a correct decision is taken on this matter,and till you give a clear judgement about this ,Thy Holy chariot will not move from this spot.I Swear on Thee!"

On hearing her holy order,Chariot did not move a bit further.Many persons tried but in vain.Time was passing on.But chariot cannot be moved.

At that time one priest was possessed by Lord Ranganatha and he said in a commanding voice " Ask the person who headed the agitation against Periya Nambi to go into his house,ask his pardon and make Periya Nambi sit on his shoulder as mark of respect and bring him in front of the chariot!Then the chariot will move further!"As per the Holy order,the person who lead the agitation against periya Nambi removed the thorny fence ,entered the house carried Periya Nambi on his shoulders and brought him before the chariot and one priest declared that funeral rites done to Maaraneri Nambi by Periya Nambi was approved and appreciated by the Lord and they lifted the ban on him.Periya Nambi was honoured with due respect and people asked for his pardon.

To the amazement of all,the chariot started moving and reached the destination.

This wonderful incident is also a testimony which stands by the fact that God never approves inequality among Human beings.

Reference:Chapter "3 Acharyas-16" from "Hindu Maha Samudram" by Cho Ramaswamy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hindu Gods and Untouchability-Part 2

In part 1 of this series,I had written about the amazing mercy of Udupi Krishna on "Saint Kanakadasa".In this post ,I will discuss about the grand uncomparable devotion of Kannappa Nayanar.All the posts in this series will strongly emphasize the fact that Untouchability was imposed on the society by the practicing selfish Hindus but not by Gods as proclaimed by many people.

The story of Kannappa Nayanar from 'Periya puranam' written by Sekkizhar(சேக்கிழார்) in Tamil is one of my favourites.It not only emphasizes the fact that devotion and Gods are above caste,creed and all differences,but it beautifully depicts how God accept the offerings of a devotee when the devotee is full of pure and loving devotion.Rituals,Methods adopted during puja by learned pandits are of miniscule value when compared to the Methods by which Kannappa nayanar served his Lord.

Lord Shiva and Kannappa Nayanar

Kannappa Nayanar was born as 'Thinnan'(திண்ணன்) in a hunter community to the supremo of the community in Uduppur, Naagan( நாகன் )and his wife Thatthai( தத்தை ) after the childless couple prayed for very long years to Lord Murugan. Thinnan grew up learning hunting and other martial arts as per their tradition.

When he reached his sixteenth age,oneday subjects of that territory came with a complaint to Naagan about the increasing menace of wild animals in that area.Naagan found it difficult to lead the uphill task of hunting because of his age,so he asked his son Thinnan to lead the group of hunters.The group also accomplished the task successfully but for a wild pig which was so evasive.So Thinnan sent back all other hunters back and was accompanied by only two of his fellow hunters,Naanan and kaadan and chased the pig. The pig went faraway near the foot of Thiru Kaalahasthi Hill near present day Tirupati and got killed by one of the sharp daggers of Thinnan. Three of them found that they had come very long way from their home,but felt very hungry and Thirsty,so Thinnan ordered the duo to cook the pig and bring some water.Kaadan started cooking the pig and Naanan and Thinnan set out in search of water.Naanan told about the nearby river, so both of them walked towards it.

Both of them reached the hill and Thinnan started experiencing a unique emotion which was lessening the burden of his sins.He started feeling very pure,peaceful innerself and asked about the reason to Naanan.Naanan told that at the top of the hill is the abode of 'Kudumi Thevar'(Lord Shiva).

As soon as Thinnan reached the Temple,he saw Lord shiva's idol ,he was overwhelmed with joy ,he rushed and embraced his Lord.His innocent mind started thinking that there is nobody to guard his lord in the forest which was full of Wild animals.So he decided to stay there to guard his Lord.He saw many flowers and leaves on the idol,Naanan explained that once when he accompanied his father to this temple,the priest was doing abhishek(holy bath) to the Lord and was offering flowers and leaves.Immediately Thinnan thought that that should be the way God likes to be worshipped.He started worrying that God should be feeling hungry without food now.He decided to go and bring some food for his beloved God.By the time Kaadan came to say that pig is cooked and ready to eat.Thinnan who had not taken food for many hours had completely forgotten his Hunger and thirst,was so obsessed with the God,He went and and selected the best pieces of flesh of cooked pig.On seeing his actions,both Naanan and Kaadan thought that Thinnan has gone crazy about the Lord and it is apt to bring his Father Naagan.So both of them left.

Thinnan who was least bothered about his companions took the flesh pieces in his arrow like flowers arranged in a garland,went to the river collected water with his mouth and stored in it,pluck some wild flowers and leaves and inserted in his thick hair and went to the top of the hill.There he removed all the flowers and leaves which were already on the idol with his footwear and showered the flowers on God which were inserted in his hair ,Did "Abhishek' to God with the water stored in his mouth(which is considered unholy) and offered the flesh pieces to God by feeding with his hands as a mother would do to her infant.Thinnan's heart was brimming with love and devotion.Whole night he safeguarded the Saviour of this World without sleeping.

Next day Early morning ,he went to bring food and water to his dear God.Meanwhile "Shivakochariyar" the priest of the temple came to do the daily puja.He was shocked to see the strewn pieces of meat and bones around the idol ,Feeling sad,he cleaned the entire place and consecrated to bring back the holiness(!!!) of the place and went back.

Entire day,Thinnan was hunting ,collected firewood,cooked a tasty food out of deer flesh and reached the hill top before sunset.As the previous day,he did puja to God with his unique method and fed the Lord with meat.Without sleeping in the night ,he safeguarded the place.Again in the morning he ventured out for hunting.Everyday the dumbstruck priest cleaned the place and consecrated.He was filled with gloom and sad and thought that this was due to his negligence towards God.This continued for six days.Everyday Thinnan brought different items like Honey to feed his Lord.He collected different types of flowers,leaves,cooked different animals and served Lord.

Shivakochariar who was petrified by these happenings prayed to God to show the culprit who was doing such a misdeed.Lord Shiva appeared in the dream of the priest and praised Thinnan's devotion "Don't think that he is doing a wrong thing.Water which he spits from his mouth to bathe me is Holier than Ganga.The flowers which he offers me from his hair are purer than flowers offered by all holy men.whatever he does ,it is with pure devotion,when he places his foot on me to clear the place ,I feel like a mother who takes pride on a child's tender foot which kicks her innocently.Tomorrow,Go and hide there to witness the grand display of his extraordinary devotion".

Next morning,seventh day ,perplexed Sivakochariar went to the temple, did the puja as usual and hid behind to watch the wonderful event with fear and astonishment.

Thinnan was rushing towards the temple as he was late and he was seeing bad omens on the way.Quite tensed ,he reached the temple ,but to his horror he saw one of the Lord's three eyes bleeding.He was shocked and tried to stop the bleeding,when it didn't he rushed out to pick some healing herbs and applied it on the bleeding eye.But couldn't stop the bleeding.Immediately a wild idea struck his mind,he used his arrow to pluck one of his eye and took his eye and applied(pasted) on the bleeding eye.Wonder of wonders!Bleeding stopped.Thinnan jumped with joy!But his joy was shortlived.The other eye started bleeding.Thinnan was not that tensed now.Now he knows the technique.

The stunned priest was watching all these with astonishment.He couldn't believe his eyes nor he has never seen such a great selfless devotion.

Thinnan was already bleeding because of the plucked eye,but unmindful of his pain,he was worried how to paste the second eye on Lord if he loses his second eye also,because he will not be able to see anything.So he placed his foot on the bleeding eye of the Lord as a marking and took the arrow to pluck his second eye.

At that glorious moment,Lord Shiva appeared and held his devotee's hands which were about to pluck the eye,and ordered "Nillu Kann appa!". (கண் அப்ப ) meaning "Stop Kannappa" Appa in Tamil is to apply or paste."Kann" in Tamil is eye. Since Thinnan was trying to paste his eye to God ,Lord Shiva lovingly honoured him by calling Thinnan by that name.

Shivakochariar could only silently realise the power of devotion on seeing this grand event.

This incident is one of the major testimony which stands as a proof that God is above all differences like Castes,education,race and all such worldly barriers.

CU in next post!


1.Chapter "Periyapuranam" in "Hindu maha samudram" by Cho Ramaswamy which is based on "Periyapuranam pozhippurai " by Ki.Va.Ja


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sustaining Devotion

Devotion is giving up one’s mind to the worship of God, and it is characterized by ardent attachment or faith towards the religious thoughts and piety, constant remembrance of the supreme.

It is very easy to get attracted to a deity or God by listening to the stories/miracles or by miracles happened in our own life. But sustaining the same level or further increasing the level of devotion is very difficult.

Consider a small lamp which burns brilliantly with the help of wick and oil.
There can be more reasons for the flame to be put off. If there is no oil in the lamp, the flame will be off. Or if the wick becomes thick with black soot, the flame will be off...
Only if we tweak the wick with our fingers and remove the black soot ,we can make the wick burn again.If wick is compared to our mind,flame(jyoti) can be compared to our devotion.

Maya or illusion, bad thoughts, lack of faith, company of atheists can influence our mind and make it waver like a see-saw and may make us falter from our devotion and may lead to a faithless state.All above mentioned reasons are causes for formation of black soot on our devotion.

Problems and hurdles in a devotee’s Life may make him/her doubt the presence of Almighty. Troubled mind questioning the Self whether God is there or not is a very common thought arising even in ardent followers.
“In spite of my unwavering devotion why I am facing severe problems “

“I don’t know what sins I ve committed for such a problem to befall on me”

“If not in this birth, did I commit sin in my previous births?”

“Why my prayers are ineffective in destroying my sins?”

“Why I am lacking behind many of my contemporaries in spite of my knowledge, hardwork .God! Are you with me? Who is behind my bad luck?”

All such thoughts and doubts crop up in a person's mind when he is in trouble.
Mind is like a monkey which jumps to various branches in a trice, our mind wavers in various directions doubting God’s powers...searches for new sources of peace, wanders here and there ,get trapped in some false promises of a fake Guruji.

When mind loses concentration and devotion, puja or reading scriptures are done mechanically just for the sake of prescribed duty.

Pushed under the emotional stress, tears flowing down, mind starts questioning the presence of God, a sense of disbelief sprouts in a corner of our mind like the black soot of wick which developed further,will put off the flame. Because of overwhelming situations, as the doubts increase, our devotion decreases and one fine day devotion may cease to exist.

Is there a Life without troubles? problems? Can we single out such a person?
There is not a single being without problems, illness...Then what is the big fuss?

So before the flame of our devotion dies out due to various storms, Let us pray to God
to grace us with the power of sustenance of our devotion.
Remember!He is the one who can grace us with sustenance of devotion.
Pray to Him to tweak the black soot of the wick, remove the hurdles and make the flame of devotion burn with brilliance .
Pray to Him to bless us with strong unwavering mind which can withstand all problems.
Pray to Him that our devotion should be like a flame of Hurricane lamp which burns even amidst a storm steadily to spread light and to remove darkness around it.
He, the most merciful, will listen to us. If not today, certainly tomorrow he will bless us with a strong mind which will ever sustain pure devotion.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hindu Gods and Untouchability-Part 1

In this series ,I will try to clarify the misconception about Hinduism and Hindu Gods regarding one of the black mark of Hinduism...Untouchability..

The self proclaimed rationalists of Tamilnadu have always held Hindu Gods responsible for formation of varna system and thus imposing the cruel Untouchability on the lowest sect of Varna system. I would like to put forth many incidents as a proof against their wrong accusations..and atlast will conclude that it is we Hindus ,who practice our religion without knowing about it thoroughly are to be blamed for this atrocious practice and not Hinduism and our Gods.

Udupi Krishna and Kanakadasa
Saint KanakaDasa was born as Thimmappa Nayaka in Kuruba community in kaginele in Haveri district.Kuruba community was not considered as Upper class of the varna system even though it was a community of chieftains of tribes.Kanakadasa took to the path of devotion and resorted to the feet of God when he was defeated in a battle..He was a great warrior but inspite of that he was defeated and while recovering fom severe wounds ,he heard the spiritual call , abandoned his chieftainship and became an ardent devotee of Mahavishnu.

The deity he worshipped was Adikeshava (Mahavishnu 's form) in Kaginele ,hence all his compositions have a mudra (signature) 'Kaginele Adikeshava'..Kanakadasa became the follower of Shri Vyasaraja of Madhvacharya's Dwaita cult.Dwaitha siddhantha's influence still made him rock hard vaishnav devotee and he started touring many vaishnav sacred places.
He reached Udupi ,the holy place where Lord Krishna's temple is located.This was the time when untouchability and discrimination were at its full peak and the brahmin priests who were obsessed with the false pride of their caste refused to allow him inside the temple to have darshan of his beloved God,as kanakadasa belonged to lower class and in those days lower class people were forbidden from entering temples.

Udupi Krishna

Kanakadasa who was sad on this denial sang heartrending songs on Krishna ,and was completely drowned in the devotion of God ..He could have the vision of The Supreme with his inner eyes ,but physically he was prevented from having the darshan..Naturally he was pained ,he held his tambura in his hand and continued his pradakshinas of the temple because that was the only service he could do to his Lord.

Not withstanding this cruel separation from God once he started singing" bagilanu teredu seveyanu kodo hariya" meaning "Oh Lord open the doors and let me serve you"..On hearing his ardent devotee's plea Lord Krishna miraculously created a crack on the westside wall and the statue turned around to grant the wonderful devotee's wish..Now Kanakadasa could have the darshan of his magnificient God in his lovely little form..When the brahmin priest entered the sanctum sanctorium he was shocked to see the statue which had turned to bless his devotee.After coming to know the reason ,the stunned priests realised the greatness of this devotee and allowed him into the shrine..

Later this crack was made as a small window through which devotees can have a darshan..and this window is known as kanakana kindi and even today devotees have darshan of the supreme God through this window..

This wonderful and amazing incident remains a testimony for proving that Lord Krishna is beyond all this ruthless practice of Untouchability and values only the loving devotion..and serve as a remainder to us to treat everyone with equality and justice...

CU in Next post..
If interested,Can visit Part 2 of this series.

Reference :Shri Raghavendra mahimai by Amman Sathyanathan.