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.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Saints and prophets

This world is blessed with many Saints and Prophets.These great souls incarnate in this world to help the humankind.

What is the necessity for these incarnations or descents?
First of all,we should understand that the the power of Almighty,his supreme power is so enormous and magnificient that we,ordinary mortals cannot withstand this glorious supreme energy..

In Mahabharat there are 2 incidents which highlights this point..When Krishna was about to take Vishwarupa, displaying the wonderful magnificient cosmic form, he had to bestow Arjuna with a Divya Dhrishti meaning special power to the eyes enabling them to see his amplified universal form..
In one more incident,Blind king Dhritharashtra gets Divya dhrishti power to see the vishwarupa when Lord Krishna takes the resplendent cosmic form in the gauravas court..
These emphasizes the fact that with our ordinary eyes we cannot see the Omnipresent God.Our human body is not designed for such a wonderful sight.We dont have the capacity both mental and physical to face the omnipotent supreme power.

This is one of the major reasons behind the descents of Holy messengers.
I like to equate this with a well known theory in physics.Electromagnetic waves which carry the signals are present everywhere,but we cannot see them..only the antenna which is tuned to that particular frequency can receive the signals and the visuals and audio can be broadcast with help of TVs and radios.

Similarly,the power of the supreme God who is present everywhere but cannot be seen with our naked eyes can be sensed only by the holy messengers who have the potential to receive such a magnificient energy and their physical and mental designs are different from ordinary mortals like us(even though they look like us) and they are the conductors of the holy energy .They act as both antenna and broadcasting equipments.They receive the message from the God and broadcast to us..This is why they are called as Holy Messengers.

Striking similarity in all these holy men are, they never called themselves as God..Jesus christ always called God as Holy Father,Prophet called the Almighty as 'Allah' and our own Hindu messengers like Adi Shankaracharya called the God as "Paramathma"..Holy Prophet was the conductor of energy who could receive the wonderful revelation from "Allah The Almighty" and spread it as Holy Quran.

India ,I would like to call it as a Holy country, has given birth to numerous such saints like Ramanujachar,Madhvachar,Lord Mahavira,Buddha...countless of this holy men have blessed our country with their holy feet.Each of these saints had their own mission and were able to succeed in their mission of uplifting the mankind..

Here ,I would like to mention about my beloved sadguru Shri Sainath of Shirdi who spreaded the message of oneness of God barring all the religions.His mission was to unify all the religions and remove the difference of mindset in the Indian subcontinent which has seen turbulent times because of these numerous different philosophies..

I sincerely Bow to all these holy messengers whole heartedly because they descend to this painful earth for our sake and to remove our miseries..
I would like to write in similar lines in my coming posts .Cu in my next post..

Friday, February 27, 2009

Daily Puja-Is it Necessary?

This is my first post in this blog! I wanted a separate space for writing my spiritual thoughts.Eventhough the number of readers will be less (may be one or two including me),the satisfaction derived from writing such innermost thougts is great!

I ve heard many people saying that "Is it a must to do all sorts of puja daily?Does God demands all these things?I f he is demanding,,then how can we call him as God?"
There are second type of people.They feel that they are very busy to devote time to all such matters..Let peace prevail in them!
Third type have high notions about themselves.."See! I have already read bhagavad gita and puranas ,nothing is new!why should I read them again and again?I lead a honest life..Is it not enough?"
Fourth type merely adhere to rituals and pujas just out of fear of God to escape sins !!!

First we should know that reading spiritual scriptures or doing puja..These things are not done to please God! They are done for purifying ourselves!

Daily morning ,we wake up, brush our teeth ,ablutions,take bath ,all these are done to clean our physical body which has gathered so much of dirt in the past 24 hours.This physical dirt is visible or can be felt by other senses.

But the other form of dirt which we accumulate is in the form of anger,jealousy,greed,hatred and all such mental afflictions..which are not visible to naked eye but have an effect on our entire mental state..

We have to cleanse our mental afflictions,inner dirt daily..the simple method is reading scripture,,We can choose any favourite book in our comfortable language ,not necessarily sanskrit..I read "Sai Satcharitra" of Shirdi Sai daily ..even reading a single page does wonders to me..It imparts some message..helps me to get rid of my bad thoughts!What else do we need ..

Puja,rituals are aimed at making us good human beings who can be loving towards each other..If this exercise can make me achieve this goal..Is it not wonderful..The feeling of cleansing my inner mind daily gives me happiness..That is why we are prescribed this exercise by our ancestors!Cu in next post with similar thoughts!