Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The ‘பறை ’ used by ஆண்டாள் !

The பாவை நோன்பு is associated with the beating of the பறை by the girls.

If we probe what this 'parai' was, we would be surprised to know that many types of 'parai' were used in those days, depending on the appearance, occasion and the need.

Going through the instances of 'parai' as found in Sangam literature, we are able to identify the parai that AndaaL had used.

To begin with let us see the meaning of Parai.

PaRai has three meanings in Tamil lexicon.

"பறை பறை வசனத்தோடு

பறக்கும் புள் -இறகு முப் -பேர் "

says ChoodamaNi Nigandu.

PaRai means

(1) the drum called paRai.

(2) 'word' and (3) 'bird's wing'.

pRaidhal has its origins in this word and

it means to announce or declare or convey something.

This paRai as an instrument to convey something was very much part of life of ancient Tamils.

12 different types of பறை are found in புற நானூறு

The types are dependent upon the occasion the parai is used and also its appearance and the quality of sound.

They are as follows.

(1) அரிப்பறை :- The sound of this is that of rubbing something on some soft surface (aritthal).

It is comparable to the sound of the rub of the bird's wing on the plants of the field when it flies off the field

This appears in texts as a comparison with some soft sound, say, the sound of ornaments rubbing with each other.

(2) அனந்தன் பறை :- This has a dull sound but not an auspicious one.

This paRAi is usually beaten by haunted women

who beat this parai after smearing the blood of the dead fallen in the battle field,

on their hair!!

Vultures get attracted to this paRai and reach the battle field.

(3) ஆகுளிபறை


(4) சிறு பறை :- Both these are small in size, can be easily held in hand and used along with singing.

Mostly the singers (paaNar) in olden days

carry this paRai along with 'yAzh' (a kind of light veena that can be hung on the shoulder.)

Both Yaazh and this paRai are used simultaneously or separately while singing.

From different texts of yore,

it is known that this parai is usually beaten in early hours

before sun rise in praise of the king or God.

(5) சல்லிப்பறை :- This is also known as 'perum paRai', a big drum –

used at the time of processions and for making announcements.

(6) சாக்காட்டுப்பறை :- This is used only at the time of death.

Is also known as saavu-p-paRai.

(7) செருப்பறை :- This is beaten when the king goes out to the battle field.

This PaRai is carried by drum-beaters

in front of the elephants that go to the war-front.

(8) போர்ப்பறை :- This is also beaten at times of war.

This is to announce that the king had started for the battlefield to snatch victory.

(9) நெய்தல் பறை :- This is similar to Saa-k-kaattu-p-paRai, beaten at the time of death.

This paRai was used by the people of Neidhal -

those living on the sea shore.

(10) தடாரிப்பறை :- This is the common drum used by many in the ancient land of Tamils.

This is also known as 'kiNai-p-paRai' or

'pambai-p-paRai' or

'உடுக்கை '.

This is the drum held by Shiva during his cosmic dance.

The image of Nataraja holds this.

(11) ஒரு கண் பறை . This means the one-eyed drum!

This is a big-sized drum, with an eye that resembles the foot of an elephant.

This was used in wars and for making announcements.

(12) மணப்பறை :- This is the drum used in marriages.

Apart from the above,

each of the 5 land forms of the Tamils had

their own characteristic parai, yaazh (hand held veena) and paN (song)

Those in hill tracts (kurinji) used 'தொண்டகப்பறை '

(this is in places ending with the word 'kudi', like sirukudi, kunna-k-kudi etc)

Those in desert areas (paalai) used 'துடிப்பறை '

Those in forest tracts (mullai) used 'ஏறுகோட்பறை '

( places end with 'paadi', chEri' and 'paLLi', like vaazhappaadi, aayar paadi etc.)

Those in plains (marudham) used 'மணப்பறை

' and 'கிணைப்பறை '

(places end with 'voor', like putthur, maNavoor etc.)

Those in sea shores (neidhal) used 'மீன்கோட்பறை '

(places ending with 'pattinam' and 'paakkam'.

Chenna-p-pattinam – former name of Chennai – belongs to this area.)

From these information, some idea of the kind of parai

that AndaaL has mentioned in her Thiruppavai can be inferred.

At 9 places, the word paRai has been mentioned by ஆண்டாள்

1. பறை தருவான் , 2. பாடிப்பறை கொண்டு , 3. போர்றப்பறை தரும் , 4. அறை பறை , 5. பறை தருகியாகில் 6. சாலப்பெரும் பறை , 7. உன்றன்னை பாடி பறைகொண்டு , 8. நீ தாராய் பறை 9. இற்றை பறை கொள்வான்

Let us now see what parai was carried by

the aayar girls and AndaaL during their month-long vratham.

The parai used for singing the praise of god in early hours of the day (before sunrise)

was 'aguLi-p-pari' or 'siru parai'.

It was a small and easy to hold drum.

It is possible to assume that this would have been the choice of

young AndaaL and her friends.

There is another way to think if that Andaal had used the parai

that was characteristic of her land, namely Villiputthur.

(putthoor in the name indicates that the place of AndaaL was in marudham or plains).

The parai of her land was, 'kiNai-p-parai' or 'udukkai' or 'tadaari-p-pari'

which was meant for worship of Shiva and

AndaaL would not have used that for the worship of Thirumaal.

There is yet another one, "mana-p-paRai" for Marudham lands.

But that was used only during marriages.

So that is also ruled out.

The easy to be held parai

which goes well with singing the praise of God in the early hours of morning

is the "aguLi-p-paRai"

also known as "siru paRai"

It is therefore proper to assume that AndaaL used Siru parai.

But here again a doubt comes.

At one place AndaaL mentions 'saala-p-perum parai'.

Is this the parai she used?

It can not be.

Because from the meaning of 'saala-p-perum parai'.

it is known that it is the big parai (perum parai)

the Salli-p-parai, which is used in processions.

AndaaL has mentioned 'Saala-p-perum parai' in "MaalE maNi vaNNa" paasuram.

She also mentions about the recital of 'பல்லாண்டு ' to the beating

of the saala-p-perum parai!

This is indicative of a procession, 'புறப்பாடு '

with all accompanying recitals and auspicious music.

In all probability it is about the கருட சேவை she witnessed on that day,

that is most likely to be the day of வைகுண்ட ஏகாதசி.

In the present context, we know that AndaaL used Siru parai,

AndaaL has also given a clue about what exact message is conveyed by her parai.

We all know that it is about the 'பேறு ' or 'kataaksham' or 'blessings' or 'servitude' etc

But the mention of அறை பறை (paasuram 16)

which has specific application in Tamil lexicon,

reveals the exact message given by Narayana that

AndaaL along with the aayar girls had been spreading by beating the paRai!

It will be discussed in the next post.

God bows to Music – Bismillah Khan’s experience with Hindu Gods!

( This narration is based on an interview of Ustad Bismillah Khan , reported by Dr.Madhu Vasudevan of Malayala Manorama daily ) .

Ustad vBismillah Khan , the Shahnai maestro, had a personal encounter with Sri .Krishna . In spite of being a Muslim, the legendary Ustad have had great respect for Sri.Krishna ; and that could have prompted the merciful Lord to appear in person .

A few years back, Ustad Bismillah Khan was traveling by train from Jamdshedpur to Varanasy . It was a coal run passenger train and Ustad was traveling in the third class compartment . From an intermediate rural railway station , a young cowherd boy boarded the bogey in which Ustad was sitting . He was a dark and lean boy ; and he was holding a flute in his hands . Slowly the boy started playing his flute . The supreme quality of his music surprised the maestro Ustad who didn't even know the 'Raga' the boy was playing . Ustad Bismillah Khan immediately recognized that , the boy is none other than Sri Krishna , the Supreme God Himself . The nectarin Nada-Brahman (Brahman in the form of music) flowing out of Krishna's flute filled Ustad's heart with ecstasy ; and tears of joy started poring out of his eyes .

After the stunning performance , Ustad called the boy near and presented him with a coin requesting him to play the song again . Krishna obliged . This repeated again an again until Bismiillah Khan's wallet became empty . Young Krishna got down at the next railway station and disappeared .

In fact , Ustad was en route to participate in a music concert related to Kumbha mela ( a Hindu religious gathering of millions of devotees ) . In that concert , Ustad presented the newl 'Raga' ( which he learned that day from Krishna ) . This melodious 'raga' was greatly appreciated by the audience who begged Ustad to sing it many times . The music scholars around couldn't make out the name of the 'Raga' and they asked about it to Bismillah Khan . Ustad replied that the name of the Raga is 'Kanhaira' .

Next day's news papers contained headlines about the melodious new 'Raga' invented by Ustad Bismillah Khan . Having read it , Hariprasas Chaurasya, the legendary Musician (Flutist), asked about 'Kanharira Raga's' details to Bismillah Khan . Ustad revealed the truth and sang Kanharira ; and Hariprakash Chaurasya , the topmost Flutist in the word, burst into tears of joy .
'Kanharira' is a divine gem in Indian music, as it originated from the lotus lips of Sri.Krishna , the God of Gods !!!.

The following incident was revealed by Ustad Bismillah Khan to the editor of Illustrated Weekly of India .

Bismillah Khan was born in a family of musicians . His ancestors were court musicians in the princely states of Bhojpur, now in Bihar state. His father was a shehnai player in the court of Maharaja Keshav Prasad Singh of Dumraon Estate now in Bihar .

Bismillah detested studies, so he played marbles on the streets of Benaras. He spent most of his time in the corridor of the house where he could hear his uncles playing the shehnai. Sometimes he even played marbles to the shehnai's tunes.

Bismilla Khan's uncle Ali Bux used to go to the nearby Jadau Sri Balaji (Maha-Vishnu) temple every morning . There, he played the shehnai for the entire day to earn four rupees a month . Sometimes Bismillah followed him in the morning, listen to his music, get engrossed and bewildered. After the mornings sessions at the Jadau temple, uncle and nephew walked towards the Balaji temple. A room was reserved for Ali Bux. He practiced there for about five hours daily. When Ali Bux finished practicing he found Bismillah sitting beside him, listening to him and hungry as well. Never did Bismillah disturb his uncle. They returned home each day after these morning sessions for lunch.

Bismillah often wondered why his Uncle went to the room in the Balaji temple to practice while he could practice at home without being disturbed. Unable to suppress his curiosity he asked his uncle one day. Uncle Ali stroked his locks and answered, "You will learn it one day." Bismillah was quick to ask, "But, Mamu when will I start playing shehnai ?" "Why talk about when; you are going to start today," he said.

That evening uncle Ali took Bismillah to the Jadau Maha-Vishnu temple, and after the evening shehnai recital to the room in the Balaji temple where he had practiced for over 18 years. Finally, uncle Ali granted Bismillah Khan the permission to practice there . However Uncle Ali came with a note of caution "In this temple , if you happen to experience or see anything extraordinary, don't say to any one " .

Overjoyed, Bismillah practised in the room for 4 to 6 hours. Oblivious to the changes taking place outside the four walls he experimented and discovered new heights and depths of musical scales and melodies. Bismillah was overtaken by the thirst to perfect his music.

One day Bismillah khan was engrossed in his shahanai practice at 4:00a.m in the premises of Balaji temple, all alone. Suddenly he realised that some one was sitting next to him. It was none other than Bhagavan Balaji Himself !!!.

Shocked and astonished, Bismillah Khan remained still . Then Sri . Balaji smiled and
said "Play.."... . But Khan was still too shocked to continue. Then Bhagavan
Balaji smiled and disappeared.

Later that day Bismillah Khan went to Ali who is his Guru and Uncle, narrated to him what he has experienced in Balaji temple . Uncle slapped him on the cheek and "Did I not tell you not to say any thing to any one" ...?If any one watched the Video about Ustad Bismillah Khan on Doordarshan some 10 years ago, you would have heard him refer to it again.

Mysterious are the ways of Bhagavan Narayana when it comes to blessing His devotees. "VICHITHRA-ROOPASTHWAT-KHALU-ANUGRAHAH." (Dasakam 87, Sloka 7-- Narayaneeyam) . Bhagavan doesn't go by caste, creed or religion. "BHAKTI" is the only criterion. All Glories to Bhagavan Sri Krishna ! .



Even as a devout Shia, Khan Sahib is also a devotee of Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of music. And at the age of 12, he recalls, he received a signal - a peculiarly Hindu signal - that his sadhana had been rewarded. He recalls:

"Mamu used to do his riyaz (practice) at the temple of Balaji (an avtaar of Vishnu) for 18 years. He told me to do the same thing. I would begin my riyaz at the mandir at 7 pm and end at 11 pm during which time I usually played four ragas. After a year and half, Mamu told me, 'if you see anything just don't talk about it'. One night as I was playing, deep in meditation, I smelled something. It was an indescribable scent, something like sandalwood and jasmine and incense. I thought it was aroma of Ganges. But the scent got more powerful. I opened my eyes - and when I speak about it I still get goose flesh - when I opened my eyes, there was Balaji standing right next to me, kamandal in hand, exactly as he is pictured. My door was locked from inside. Nobody was allowed to enter when I did my riyaz. He said 'play, son'. But I was in cold sweat. I stopped playing."

"He smiled, and disappeared. I unlocked the door. I thought a faqir may have come in. I took a lantern and searched all streets. They were empty. I ran home, ate quickly and slept. Mamu had understood what had happened. But he teased me, pretending he knew nothing, But as I blurted out the experience, Mamu slapped me, because he had asked me earlier not to talk about anything that might happen to me. Then he kissed me and asked me to go and buy vegetables. Mamu always told me 'never look back, keep going forward'. Even now I go to Balaji's mandir alone, at night and play all by myself. When I play before others, in my heart I'm listening to my gurus. In my heart, they clap for me at the appropriate time."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Krishna lived for 125 years!,curpg-1.cms

(This article was published in Times of India, dated Sep 8, 2004)

RAJKOT: It's now official. The god who took 'avatar' to cleanse the world of sin, gave us the Gita and promised to return whenever evil outweighs the good, had lived 125 years on this earth, much longer than the oldest living man, Fred Hale, who according to the Guinness Book of World Records , is 113!

It was on February 18, 3102 BC that Krishna breathed his last on the banks of river Hiran in Prabhas Patan, after living 125 years seven months and six days. He died at 14:27:30 hours, according to a paper presented at a convention that began at Prabhas Patan, close to Somnath, on Tuesday as the country celebrated Krishna's birth.

"The finding is based on a number of hints in ancient scriptures. Certain dates related to his life taken from the scriptures were then fed into a software along with Krishna's characteristic traits for an astrological calculation to prepare his 'kundli,'" Swami Gyananand Saraswati, chairperson of the Varanasi-based Adi Jagatguru Shankaracharya Sodh Sansthan told TNN after presenting the paper at the gathering of scholars.

"While the 'Vishnu Puran' and the 'Bhagvad Gita' mention that Krishna 'left' Dwarka 36 years after the battle of Mahabharata and was not seen anymore, the 'Matsya Purana' mentions that he was 89 years old when the battle was fought. Then again, the 'Mahabharata' mentions that the Kalyug began the day Krishna 'left' and this year is the 5,106th year of the Kalyug. All these indicators helped us get to the date," said Saraswati.

The research was conducted through three months after the Somnath Trust made a formal request.

The paper was presented in the presence of a host of scholars including Bhrighu Samhita expert and member of Institute of Future Forecasting Nandkishore Purohit and National Astrological Parishad president Arun Bansal. The paper was accepted by those present at the convention.

And, armed with this paper, the trust has now decided to observe for the first time Krishna's death anniversary on April 9, 2005 (the day falls on the first day of the month of Chaitra in the Indian calendar, when Krishna is claimed to have died). "Somnath Trust president Keshubhai Patel declared that celebration of Krishna's death will be an annual affair now. We will celebrate the first day of Chaitra every year as Krishna's death anniversary," said secretary of the trust Ashok Sharma.

Related articles:-

Sacred samudra snaanam in Setusamudram near Rama Setu

There is a mention of sethu bhanda in Brihad Parashara Hora sastra (BPHS), a popular astrological treatise done by sage Parashara, the father of Ved Vyasa.

"Chapter. 83. Effects of Curses in the Previous Birth

From verses 34-50.

"A person will be without a male issue, as a result of curse of the mother, if at birth Chandra (moon),……..

…..For release from this curse and to beget a male issue the person concerned should take bath in the sea with bridge of rocks between India and Lanka, recite one Lakh Gayatri Mantras, give in charity things, connected with evil Grahas, feed Brahmins and go round a Pipal tree 1008 times"

Samdra snaan is the propitiatory act for release from mother's curse. Even Rama did that as he had a curse from mother in the avatara of Parashurama (he killed mother).

He made use of that curse in Ramavathara which was executed through mother Kaikeyi. He could come out of that curse only after samudra snaan in Rameshwaram. After that only he could get back his wife and kingdom and could beget children. The Sethu apparently is a bund to stop the waters at Rameswaram so that mankind in the coming ages can get relief from curse. Rama's utterance of the greatness of the bund reveals this.


Related article:-

Lord John Sinclair Pentland (1860 – 1925) was Governor of Madras from 1912 to 1919. He visited Rameshwaram in 1914 when Sir Alexander Tottenham (1873-1946) was the District Collector of Ramanathapuram. Lord Pentland was so overwhelmed by what he saw in Rameshwaram that he wrote as follows to Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India:

"'For me Rameshwaram, very much like India as a whole is the real world. We English men live in a mad house of abstractions. Vital life in Rameshwaram has not yet withdrawn into the capsule of the head. It is the whole body that lives. No wonder the English man feels dreamlike: the complete life of Rameshwaram is something of which he merely dreams.... I did not see an English man in India who really lived there. They are all living in England , that is, in a sort of bottle filled with English air.... History can be events or memory of events.... along the Bay of Bengal the Madras Presidency runs, with the well-governed city of Madras at its centre and the sublime and glorious temples of Tanjore, Tiruchi, Madurai and Rameshwaram adorning its Southern boundaries. And then Adam's Bridge- a reef of sunken islands' beckons us across the Palk Straits to Ceylon , where civilisation flourished more than 2000 years ago....Linga stones may be seen in many places on the highways in my Presidency. Hindus break upon them the coconuts which they are about to offer in sacrifice. Usually the phallic ritual is simple and becoming; it consists in anointing the stone with consecrated water or oil, and decorating it with leaves. At the Rameshwaram temple, the Linga stone is daily washed with Ganga water, which is afterwards sold to the pious, as holy water or mesmerized water has been sold in Europe . All these are a little part of my beloved Presidency - indeed my favourite India . Right from the dawn of history, India is extraordinarily continuous in time. In space, on the other hand, it is extraordinarily discontinuous....from early times in India , it is ethnology, philology, and archaeology that give and will give us some notions of the truth. From archaeology much can be expected. I would earnestly request you to direct the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to undertake an extensive and intensive survey of Rameshwaram and its beautiful environs, particularly with reference to the historic and primordial Adam's Bridge'.

S Badrinarayanan, former director of Geological Survey of India and a member of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) says the Adam's Bridge was not a natural formation.

Vanara Sena Rama Setu Sculpture at
Prambanan Temple in Indonesia.

He has opined that:

"Coral reefs are formed only on hard surfaces. But during the study we found that the formation at Adam's Bridge is nothing but boulders of coral reefs. When we drilled for investigation, we found that there was loose sand two to three meters below the reefs. Hard rocks were found several meters below the sand. Such a natural formation is impossible. Unless somebody has transported them and dumped them there, those reefs could not have come there. Some boulders were so light that they could float on water. Apparently, whoever has done it, has identified light (but strong) boulders to make it easy for transportation. Since they are strong, they can withstand a lot of weight. It should be preserved as a national monument."

More on

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Universal kula deivam at Thiruppathi.

Bhagawan has numerous roopams, He has numerous names.
No one roopam or no one name is inferior or superior to another.
Each one of us connect with some roopams or
some names due to various reasons - known and unknown.
But beyond all this, there is something as tradition which we follow.
In that way, kula deivam comes as a tradition - as a protector of a kulam.

Kula vazhakkam – Kudi vazhakkam.

Kulam is defined as something different from Kudi.
Kudi is the root word for Kutumbham (we can quote texts in Tamil).
A kudi vazhi is something that comes in a family for generations.
There is 'kudi vazhakkam' coming down in the family.
But Kula vazhakkam is different from Kudi vazhakkam

A kulam is defined as "koottam" that is not homogenous in all aspects
but is united on some specific trait.
In this way, there is manushya kulam, deva kulam, asura kulam etc.
Vishnu worshipers belong to vaishnava kulam, as Vishnu worship is the unifying thread.
It is with reference to this unifying factor,
we have been given a single form as the form common to all.
That form is Venkatavan's.

Specific forms of God are worshipped as kudi vazhakkam.
The shalagrama worship is transferred from generation to generation as Kudi vazhakkam.
The veettu vazhipaadu is kudi vazhakkam.
However the root of Kudi vazhakkam is always the root of Kula vazhakkam.

As a kulam, all people of a kulam worship one form as the foremost.
If we say Koil, it denotes Srirangam.
If we say PerumaL, He is always the one associated with the chanting of
"Govinda Govinda" –He is the Malaiappan.

Seeing the 'para- vasthu' on Garudan,
Periaazhwar, remembered Venkatavan, his Kuala deivam,
the one worshiped by "enthai, thanthai.."
and who enjoys "ThiruvOna –th- thiru vizhavu".
Aazhwar has thus indicated the Kula deivam for all!

Malayappa swami in Garuda vahana

The Kula dhanam

Dhanam has been identified as four in number.
They are
Sriranga mangala nidhi, the nidhi at Venkatam, at Hasthigiri and at Yadugiri.
The common thread in these four is veLLam (flood waters) and verpu (hill or mountain)
This is further fine-tuned by aazhwars who have seen 3 forms in their vuLLam
(vuLan kandai pasurams)

One is at veLLam, one is at verpu and the other is 'maN aLAndhaan'
These three are glorified, as they remind one of the cosmic forms of Lord!

The first is about his sthithi in milky ocean (veLlAm / Srirangam)
The second is about Koorma avatara (venkatam)
And the third is about Vamana avatara. (maN aLandhaan)

Elaborating this,
if we look at a river, or waters or floods, we are reminded of milky ocean and
the worlds that are yet to be born

If we look at a hill or mountain, we are reminded of Thirmaal in His original ThirumEni.
The tall mountain reminds us of His tall figure.
The sun and the moon are His charka and shanku.
The blue sky and the dark clouds are Him only.
His dress is bright, made so by the lightening in the hill tops.
We can be near Him only when we reach the clouds and sky in the hill tops.
This is a cosmic form of lord which can be experienced only on the hill top.

The mountain resembles the Manthara parvada
with the serpent around it as was in Koorma avatara. (Nanmugan Thiruvandhathi 49)
The lord at Venkatam with His 'Thiru mangai" and
the Parivar (and nithya sooris) is in the Ultimate form –
reminiscending the world that has just been formed after the churning.

In the avatars after these two only, Bhoodevi is taken out and
specific acts of protection are carried out.
In all these avatars, Bhagawan's imprint is on the world we live.
But the first two as personified at Vellam and Venkatam are
the result of Lord's mercy on us to make Himself accessible to us
in His traits as not felt by the inhabitants of this world!

The four forms of dhanam (nidhi) are worshipped everyday.
But no one knows the origins of two of them.
The one at Srirangam is the kula dhanam of Sri Raman himself.
No one knows its origins.
The one at Venkatam also has no beginnings.
His is the eternal swaroopa of the Nedu-maal.

Specialty of Venkatam as Verpu.

'Verpu' -the mountains - are lofty, can be seen from anywhere.
Such lofty abodes are 3 in number.
Venkatam, Vaikuntham and Maal Irum cholai are His iruppidam
In addition we have Emperumaanaar's manas.

Since they are lofty abodes, we don't have to go to them.
( Appillai urai for "sendru vaNAnguminO SeNuyar Venkatatthai" – Nanmugan T– 42)
From wherever we are, we can see them and worship.
Just look at the direction of verpu.
Look at the sky and clouds and the sun and the moon.
You have had the dharshan of Him.
That is why that 'verpu' of Venkatavan is characterized as 'senni vOngu'
high in the world by Aazhwar.

In previous births as "pazhavadiyen",
aazhwar would have served the Lord in different divya desas.
But at all those times, Venkatam and Thiruvarangam must have been
at the top of his list.
Thiruvarangam is final destination.
Once one has gone there, it is all over.
It happened with Andal, Azhwars and Emperummanaar!

Raman as Venkatavan.

Raman is another form of Venkatavan (Naan .Thiru 47)
(Peria vaacchaan and Appillai urai) due to the kind of protection He does.
Venkatavan does rakshanam in the forests of Venkatam
where elephants and lions co-exist.
Similarly Raman carried out his rakshanam not in Ayodhya
but in the forests where he protected the rishis.

Malayappa swamy as Rama!

Thirumagai aazhwar who vows not to see any other God than ThirviNNagaraan,
remembers Raman in Him (mattrOr deivam…Peria Thirumzhi -6-3-5)

Periaazhwaar also sees Raman at first in the 'para-vasthu' and
then remembers the ThiruvOnatthaan.
As "Kaakkum deivam" Raman and Venkatavan have been identified as one and the same.

Venkatavan established this to Saint Thyagaraja too.
When Sri Thyagaraja went to Thirumalai,
he could not see the Lord as the 'thirai' was down.
It fell when Thyagaraja sang,
'Thera theeyagadhaa Rama.." (thirai vilagaadha Rama)
He saw Raman in Thiruvenkatavan, not vice cersa!
One can see Venkatavan in Venkatam only!!


Related article:-

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The connection between Paavai nOnbu and rainfall!

The benefits of Paavai nonbu are expressed

in the 3rd & 4th verses of Thiruppavai.

They are

(1) 3 spells of rainfall every month ('theengindri naadellaam, thingaL mummaari peidhu')

(2) A robust Water cycle that will take care of rainfall over a larger area for a longer duration – say, during the Rainy season.

The prayer for these two is enough for taking care of

all round prosperity of food, milk and wealth production.

Thinking of AndaaL as one whose mind was fixed on

praying for the Highest favor of attaining the Lord Himself,

these issues may look trivial or look out of place.

Has she given priority to rainfall and worldly riches than to a spiritual favor?

Why should AndaaL link her nOnbu with rainfall?

If we explore like this, we are in for many surprises and secrets

ingrained in the nOnbu and

more importantly the way the Lord Works –

as He has told Arjuna in the battlefield –

mE thrishU lOkEshu karthavyam kimchina na asthi,

avaapthavyam, anavaaptham cha na – karmaNi yEva varthE

'For me Arjuna, there is nothing in all these three worlds which ought to be done.

Nor is there anything un-acquired that ought to be acquired,

Yet I go on working' ( Gita 3-22)

'If I do not do work, these men would be lost.

And I will be causing chaos in life and thereby ruining all people'. (Gita 3- 24)

Therefore He continues to work non-stop

in the three worlds for which He is the protector.

The first step towards protection of the world is by His Chakra.

The visible form on Chakra is the Sun.

The sun continuously works so that the world lives on.

Surya Siddhantha records the movement of the sun

as the movement of Vishnu's feet around the earth.

The sun is fixed at a distance,

but the Lord keeps on moving around the earth

because the earth is Vishnu padam.

The first step is at Uttarayana.

The 2nd step is at vernal equinox – the Vishuvat.

After crossing the equinox,

the Lord's foot sweeps through Dakshinayana.

At Autumnal equinox, He places His 3rd step

which is personified as the step on Maha bali

(explained in the post on Kaarthigai deepam)

The foot further sweeps throughout the Dakshinyana,

only to come back to Uttarayana again.

Thus the feet of Vishnu are continuously moving around the earth.

Such a form of Vishnu which measures the worlds in steps

is that of Thrivikrama!

Praising that Thrivikrama (vOngi ulagaLantha uTThaman per paadi)

on how He works always,

AndaaL recalls the foremost benefit of such a work

which He does as personification of Chakra – the Sun.

That benefit is rainfall which is further augmented by the Shanku.

The Shanku is personified as the Moon.

The Shanku is got from the waters.
The moon is signifactor for waters.

It has been noted by sages

that moon's movement determines the rainfall.

The Chakra and Shanku, personified as the Sun and the Moon

are always going round the earth giving it sunshine and rainfall –

the two interconnected factors responsible for rainfall

thereby ensuring wealth and prosperity.

As if to remind us that

He is indeed with us always in the sun and the moon,

the Lord had taken birth Solar dynasty and in Lunar asterisms.

You want a role model for man?

The Lord showed it as Ravi-kula thilakan.

You want prosperity and riches,

He took birth in Rohini and Thiruvonam.

The lunar asterisms are special

as they cool the earth in the literal sense – by rainfall.

The monthly movement of the moon around us

ensures at least 3 spells of rain in a month.

Astrologically speaking, the major locations of the 3 spells are

(1) when the moon crosses the jala nadi – its own house of Cancer in the watery sign- from Aslesha and Maga

(2) when the moon crosses the point opposite to the jala naadi – in ThiruvOnam and Avittam

(3) when the moon moves in the last watery sign of Pisecs – in Poorva bhadrapada, Uttara bhadra pada and Revathy.

These are definite signs where moon's nature of coolness and wateriness are exemplified.

Apart from these, when the moon moves over Swathi, Rohini, and the 2 Aashaada (pooradam & Utthradam) stars, the heavens will open up to bless the world with rainfall.

One of these locations aided by Moon's presence in them

used to favor rainfall for at least 3 times in a month,

Like the Lord, his weapon, the shanku as the Moon keeps working non-stop.

His other weapon, the Chakra as the Sun

keeps heating up the waters poured at Moon's instance.

He, as dark clouds eat up the heated water and

shoot them down as though showering arrows from His bow, the Saarangam.

Such a busy person, a continuously working person, the Lord is,

that AndaaL has aptly recognized him as

Vamana (rakshanam through ayanas and seasons)

and Padmanabha (Shrusti – through waters)

in the 3rd and 4th pasurams respectively.

Here one may ask -

He is one who is giving without asking.

He is more caring for this world than you and me.

He will anyway do this work without expecting anything from us.

Then why should we do this paavai nOnbu and other austerities?

For this too, the Lord has given as answer in His Gita.

This world is sustained by Yajna.

There is mutual give and take between men and gods.

Give the devas their due and get from them the returns. (chapter 3, Gita).

So we can not remain quiet and say that the Lord will do.

We have to give something – we have to act.

Everything is cyclical.

Even Lord's walk around the world keeps shifting from

uttarayana to dakshinayana and dakshinayana to uttarayana.

If as told in 4th pasuram, Kannan as Aazhi (chakram or sun)

drinks waters of the oceans,

He pours them down eventually.

The water that comes down must go back to the oceans

so that He can again drink that water to continue the cycle.

On the way towards the ocean, water flows as rivers –

and the world draws its benefits from the rivers.

That is here the rivers become an integral part of prosperity.

The rivers are the reservoir for riches

as they not only ensure a good harvest but also good milk production –

happiness for animals, plant kingdom and human beings.

From ocean to clouds to rainfall, we, as human beings,

have no control over the events.

But once the rain pours down,

from that place to where the water gets back into the sea,

the river or any water body stands the risk of mis-handling and pollution.

This is here comes the role for us, the humans.

The water is Lord Himself

- as it is the life giver

- as it gives life to all entities of the world, it even nourishes the in-animate.

- as it benefits all people without any discrimination

- as it keeps moving all the time – like how the Lord is working all the time.

It must be recalled (from )

that the paavai nOnbu was meant for a cool and damp world along with a shining sun.

The prayer was to the river – any river, for,

everywhere from Ganges to Yamuna to Narmada to Kaveri to Vaigai,

the men and women have offered their prayers to the river

in the month after the rainy season when the river is still gushing briskly –

reminding one of how the Lord also moves briskly from ayana to ayana

in addition to giving us rains promptly in time

and also month after month,

at three times a month.

From His Yoganidra, Narayana has told Brahma to worship the Ganges

in the early hours in the month of Maargazhi. (told in Skanda puranam ).

The Yoganidra indicates His continuing non-stop karma that He does as Yoga.

Not only the Ganges, all the other rivers of this land are carrying His bounty –

therefore they are all recognized as sacred as the Ganga.

As if to add to the sacredness, wherever the river moves,

the Lord spreads His serpent bed to help people to do their karma!

The Lord is doing His part well.

What about the people?

Are they doing their part well?

Our role is to nourish the devas so that they in turn nourish us.

The ways of nourishing the devas have been told by the sages

such as Kashyapa, Parashara, Vasishta and Garga

who have spelt what we must do

so that waters absorbed from the oceans are poured

at the right moment in right quantity.

Their wisdom has been recorded by Varahamihira in Brihad Samhita.

Varaha mihira says that this wisdom has been acquired by the Maharishis

by observing Nature and the way she works, for generations after generations and codified for the benefit of Humanity.

This knowledge was already forgotten in Varaha mihira's times.

But after him, it is totally neglected.

Let us see what this wisdom is about and how we fit in the scheme of things.

To understand this we must know some basics of how rainfall occurs.

I am not going to say what science has told.

This is something else – based on lunar cycle.

According to this wisdom,

rainfall at a place is connected to certain symptoms of the three worlds

and must have occurred 6 and a half Lunar cycles before.

The 3 worlds are

Prithvi – consisting of flora, fauna, men etc

Anthariksha – consisting of the atmosphere, vayu, clouds etc

and Dyaur loka – comprising the sun and the planets.

The symptoms of rainfall as found in these 3 lokas can be categorized as

terrestrial, atmospheric and heavenly symptoms.

When symptoms at all these 3 levels are noticed,

it is said that the conception or pregnancy of rainfall happens on that day.

It will be delivered as rainfall after 195 days.

If all the 3 levels of symptoms occur, there will be very good rainfall.

If one or two of them are present, the rainfall will be less to that extent.

But to have a good rainy season,

the symptoms must happen at all the 3 worlds

and for many days.

When the symptoms are there for 4 months,

then the rainy season will be too bountiful stretching for full 4 months.

The information of interest to us is that

should the rainy season start in time in the lunar month of Aashada,

the pregnancy symptoms or Garbottam must occur in Maargazhi!

It is in this context the Maargazhi nOnbu attains significance

for bestowing good rainfall as the foremost benefit!

Conception of rainfall.

The conception of rains or fetus formation or garbOttam starts

after the rainy season is over.

The time of conception begins on the day of Full moon in the month of Maargazhi.

The conception that happens in the Krishna paksha of Maargazhi

(lunar month of Maargashira)

will fall as rainfall - in the Shukla paksha of Aashaada.

The conception that happens in the Shukla paksha of Pushya,

will fall as rains in the Krishna paksha of Aashaada.

This continues in alternating paksha after 6 and a half lunar months

Similarly if the conception happens at the day time,

the rainfall will happen at night time after 195 days and

if the conception happens at the night time,

the rainfall will happen at the day time after 195 days.

The conception must be aided at all the three levels (lokas).

At the heavenly level, there must be benefic combination of planets.

The first day of conception itself is a beneficial combination

of the Full moon of Maargazhi.

As told in the Paripaadal verse 11,

when the sun is in Pooradam and the moon is in Arudra

on the day of Full moon in Margazhi,

the vedks begin their austerities by growing Agni.

There are combinations of planets that must be present during these conception months.

One such combination is the simultaneous rise and setting of planets.

That was recorded by AndaaL as "veLLi yezhundhu, vyaazham urangittru"

The planets must be in friendly signs and in benefic combinations.

The moon and the stars must shine brightly in the month of Maargazhi.

The atmospheric signs include a silverish or whitish pre-dawn or

the pre-dawn of the color of Tamala flower.

The 'keezh vaanam veLLendru' as described by AndaaL is a favorable sign of conception in that crucial month.

The pre-dawn must not be reddish.

But such reddish pre-dawn is a pregnancy symptom in the month of Thai (pushya)

The wind must be cool, breezy and delightful in Maargazhi mornings,

whereas it must be strong in Maasi and rough and violent in Panguni.

The clouds must be razor thin and smooth in Maargazhi.

But as the day progresses, the clouds must take the shape of aquatic animals

and look bulky.

Like this, the atmospheric symptoms are noted.

Now, about the crucial terrestrial symptoms.

This includes the human beings also.

The pleasant cries of birds as described by AndaaL

are sure symptoms of conception at that time.

The sound of cattle and children are also terrestrial symptoms.

In this connection, the happy screams of playing girls

is also recorded as a good symptom of fetus formation in Maargazhi

according to sages.

It is because

the pre-dawn of Maargazhi must be heated up –

not by agni / fire

but by sounds, rustlings, movements etc.

Who will be ready to go out in cold mornings?

The children,

that too the girls who can be seen making shrill sounds and happy screams.

Allow them to play in water,

Allow them to play their favorite game of playing with dolls,

Allow them to beat their small drums loudly,

Allow them a freedom in all these.

They will certainly wake up and go to the river even before the dawn breaks.

That is what happens in Paavai nOnbu.

From the accounts in sangam texts

we know that the girls-play was an important component of the nOnbu.

They were not mature enough to understand the religious aspect of it.

They were only habituated to performing that nOnbu every year

until they grew old enough to transform it into prayers for a good husband

and a happy married life.

But the way they moved by beating the parai,

playing in the wet sand by doing 'paavai - vilaiyaattu',

taking bath in the ice-cold water of the river with screams and shouts,

as the chill water touched them

(that is why AndaaL told "kuLLa kuLira kudaidhu neeraadadhE"

because they had take elaborate bath in the river)

were all activities aimed at warming the pre-dawn atmosphere of Maargazhi.

The nOnbu had the Vediks setting up the homa fire on the banks of the river.

Actually Maargazhi was not the time for yajnas.

But how to make the air warm?

The mandatory agni sacrifices were hence

done on the banks of the river.

It is said in Paripaadal that the river receives the warmth from the Havis

and also warmth released by the wet cloths of the girls

who circumambulated the homa kunda after the bath.

The process of GarbOttam is set in motion in this way,

at the pre dawn times in the cold month of Maargazhi

with men, women, and youngsters coming out and warming up the atmosphere

The Maargazhi bhajans and

early morning decoration of the house-fronts with Kolams

are contributing to the warming up of a time that is crucial for

ushering in the rainy season after 195 days.

If the 3 levels of symptoms are normal beginning

the Full moon of maargazhi (krishnapaksha of Margashira),

then it would be reflected in the shula paksha of Ashaada.

The nature of the up coming rainy season and the accompanying prosperity

must be observed after the shukla paksha ashtami in the lunar month of Aashaada.

It is about the Lord's Shanku, the moon doing its pre-ordained duty.

When the moon enters Swathi in shukla paksha Ashaada, it must rain.

It will rain if the conception symptoms had happened on the Krishna paksha navami of Maargashira (in Thiruppavai it was on the day of 'Thoomani' paasuram)

The day of swathi as told above will be divided into 3 parts in the day time

and 3 parts in the night time.

(a daytime is from sunrise to sunset and reverse for night-time)

This day is a benchmark day.

Each part as told above is known as 'prahara'.

If it rains in the 1st prahara in the night –

then there will be abundant growth of all grains in the summer season.

If it rains in the 2nd prahara in the night –

growth of gingers, green grams and black grams in the summer.

If it rains in the 3rd prahara in the night –

abundant growth of paddy in the summer.

For the 3 praharas in the day time,

the same holds good in the reverse order

but they will happen in autumn season.

So the moon in swathi in Aaahada will be watched for rains.

This period corresponds to the Krishna paksha of Maargazhi

when the Nonbu began in AndaaL's times!

The particular pasuram on the 9th day is a bit harsh on her friends in waking them up.

AndaaL does not even bother about indicting the mothers too in this pasuram.

Why should she step up the pressure with such harshness?

It is because this day corresponds to the day of Swathi in Shukla paksha Aashada

which determines the nature of next season.

The crucial day of krishna paksha navami of Maargazhi is nearing.

If they do their duty in the last prahara of the night (which is pre-dawn )

there will certainly be rains in the 1st prahara of night on Shukla paksha navami

in Aashada which will ensure growth of all crops.

Come on, quick, wake up.

We have to go to the river, make paavai, play paavai vilayattu

and bath in river.

This seems to be the urge of AndaaL which is reflected

in the first half of Thiruppavai coinciding with the Krishna paksha of Maargazhi.

In the second half, it is totally spiritual.

There is no need rush to the river (though they have to have the ritual till Thai and after)

because the basic requirement has been taken care of.

Because if the conception has happened properly in Krishna paksha of Maargazhi,

then the rainy season will open with a bang after Shukla paksha navami in Aashada.

Varaha mihira gives utmost importance to this month, as told by sages.

On the full moon of Aashada, certain quantities of all grains will be weighed

after a prayer to Goddesses Saraswathy,

who is praised for her 'satya vaakku'.

Then again the grains will be weighed.

The grains that have gained weight in the second weighing

will be declared as those giving a surplus in the season.

The Satya vaakuu of Saraswathy shows that.

This knowledge of rains is common knowledge in those days.

The people in those days had immense

spiritual and mind power to connect with God.

They knew and followed the dictum by Maharishis

and discharged their duties as required.

In such a scenario, the atmosphere also was helpful.

The planets were helpful.

If we look at the planetary map given in the 11 th verse of Paripaadal

we will see that the rainy season ushered in just before Krishna paksha Aashada .

This coincides with Bhogi festival that occurred 195 days prior to that!

By the time of Bhogi, Shukla paksha Pushya will be nearing its end.

Foggy morning is an important symptom then.

The smoke and fire of Bhogi accompanied with the drum-beat (of parai)

had been a strong symptom to result in the start of the rainy season

at that time the verse was composed.

It means that the people have done their part well,

as how their Lord does His part well.

The nOnbu on the banks of the river works on the scientific concept

that works on Amazon or Congo river forests.

The kind of water evaporation happening in damp forests

attract more rains in those places.

In the same way, the evaporation happening in the river banks

aided by terrestrial factors (in the form of nOnbu)

attract more rains and waters in the rivers.

The 3 spells in a month is aided in this way.

Added to it is the mind and spiritual thoughts of the people

for the good flow of the river.

The people nurture the river, the river in turn nurtures them

-the case of mutual help between men and devas as told by the Lord.

The rivers work non-stop like how the Lord works.

The rivers carry the bounty of the Lord who shot the rains from His Saarangam.

The rivers are His abode.

The two prayers of the Nonbu as told in Paripaadal reminds Him only.

The dampness that is prayed during the nOnbu

reminds us of the one in VeLLam and

the prayer for the Sun shining well but not spreading its heat

reminds us of the one in Venkatam.

The river at once reminds the environs of Srirangam and Thiruvenkatam.

All feet are to these two places.

particularly to Srirangam – so that the conception takes place for Universal good.

All the life lines of Tamils were nourished in Maargazhi.

Go to Kaveri or Vaigai, the Lord is waiting nearby to bless us.

When this Nature-bound austerity is done,

Kaveri and Vaigai swell throughout their stretch.

They not only complete the water cycle – of going back to the sea

but also fulfill the ThiruvuLLam of Lord in enriching the lands.

Today we may think, that we have lost this tradition of paavai nOnbu.

No, I don't think we have lost / we are lost

There are no flowing rivers.

It is not possible to send our kids alone outside.

But the Lord is not someone to leave us in the lurch.

With changing times, he re-invents and rejuvenates something for us.

The avatar of AndaaL is a mile stone in re-writing tradition.

The Bhoo-matha has given us the Thiruppavai.

The pre-dawn heating is done these days

by the loud goshti gaanam of Thiruppavai.

The visit to the river is replaced by visit to the temple.

The more the asthiks stick to reciting Thiruppavai

as a big gathering, at every temple

or go round the streets by performing bhajans,

the better are the chances of a good rainy season

AndaaL's prediction will come true –

she said there will be rains if they take up 'Nam-paavai neeraattu'.

In our times, there will be (are) rains, if we take up

"Thiruppavai paavaattu"

As a conclusion, let me re-produce the wonderful description

of Lord in continuous action.

This is the 3rd verse in Paripaadal on Thirumaal,

Written by Kaduvan ILa veyinanaar,

on how He works with one hand,

2 hands, 3 hands, 4 hands, 5 hands,

6 hands, 7 hands, 8 hands, 9 hands, 10 hands,

100 hands, 1000 hands, 10,000 hands,

100,000 hands and

up to the non-countable number of 'Aambal' hands!

"கூந்தல் என்னும் பெயரொடு கூந்தல்

எரி சினம் கொன்றோய்! நின் புகழ் உருவின, கை;
நகை அச்சாக நல் அமிர்து கலந்த
நடுவுநிலை திறம்பிய நயம் இல் ஒரூ கை,
இரூ கை மாஅல் ! 35

முக் கை முனிவ! நாற் கை அண்ணல்!
ஐங் கைம் மைந்த! அறு கை நெடு வேள்!
எழு கையாள! எண் கை ஏந்தல்!
ஒன்பதிற்றுத் தடக் கை மன் பேராள!
பதிற்றுக் கை மதவலி! நூற்றுக் கை ஆற்றல்! 40

ஆயிரம் விரித்த கைம் மாய மள்ள!
பதினாயிரம் கை முதுமொழி முதல்வ!
நூறாயிரம் கை ஆறு அறி கடவுள்!
அனைத்தும் அல்ல பல அடுக்கல் ஆம்பல்
இனைத்து என எண் வரம்பு அறியா யாக்கையை! 45