Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pralaya in Kedarnath – some musings (Part -4) (Affinity with deities)

Previous articles:-

Part -1  On the loss of Samadhi of Adi Shankara

Part -2 Energy network of Kedarnath temple

Part -3 Do deities get angry?


The deity has a close affinity to the place where it stands as a self-manifest one (Swayambu) or where it is consecrated by mantra, yantra or tantra. The people who worship the deity get a close affinity to the deity in such a way that they share a mutual give and take relationship with the deity – something like what Krishna tells in Bhagavad Gita (3-11 - devān bhāvayatānena te devā bhāvayantu vaḥ/ parasparaṃ bhāvayantaḥ śreyaḥ param avāpsyatha// "Cherish the Devas with this, and may those Devas cherish you: thus cherishing one another, ye shall gain the highest good.").

This affinity is coming for too long in the past that the affinity continues to exist for those who continue to worship that deity, and it exists for some more time even in the case of those who have stopped worshipping the deity, until the mutual give and take relationship is completely weakened. Here the reference is to those who have converted from the Hindu fold to Mleccha religions.

In this context I want to draw the attention of readers to one Mr Joe D Cruz, hailing from the fisherman community of Tirunelvely district of Tamilnadu. His present religious identity is Roman Catholic but his intrinsic identity is Paravan or Parathavan. Prathavas were one of the communities that appear frequently in olden Tamil Sangam texts. Not less than 5 such texts make a mention of them. The Arittapatti inscriptions near Madurai also make a mention of a Parathava King at whose instance the inscription (and donation to Jains) was made. The time period was 3rd century B.C. This is being told here to show the evidence for the existence of Parathavas from such an antiquity.  The issue that I am going to narrate here pertains to these Parathavas. It is something unique and necessary to understand the mutual affinity between Gods and human beings. Those who can understand Tamil may click this link and listen to what he says.


I am giving here the facts from his speech relevant to this article.

The Parathavas were not just fishermen, but were engaged in pearl-diving off the Tuticorin coast (this place was known as Korkai during the times of Pandyan kings). Pearl diving is a very old occupation of these Parathavas which made them rich. It was their leading occupation during the times of Pandyan kings. The second in line to the Pandyan throne was always stationed at Korkai (known as Tuticorin now from "Tuttu kudi" which means "scattered settlement because people stayed there only during the pearl diving months) as we can note from Silappadhikaram that the king who ascended the Pandyan throne after the death of Nedum cheziyan (who ordered death for Kovalan), came from Korkai. The pearl diving Parathavas had a good hold on the Pandyan kings and enjoyed many benefits as they were primarily responsible for the multiplication of the Pandyan wealth (from pearls).

This important occupation was hazardous and the one whom they depended on for their protection in this occupation was Goddess Muttharamman! Mutthu in Tamil means pearl and the Goddess who protected them in pearl diving and helped them in amassing wealth was Muttharamman. Even now we can see many Muttharamman temples close to the coast in Nagarcoil, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamilnadu.

This deity is primarily their deity, consecrated by them and worshiped by them at all times in the past.  In course of time though other people also started worshiping her, the Parathavas retained their primary right over this deity. One such right was that only Parathavas must lift Her up from Her base and mount Her on the carrier during the annual procession. Things came to such a pass that most of the Parathavars have been converted into Christianity. On one occasion, recalls Joe D Cruz, there were no Hindu Parathavas in the vicinity of the Muttharamman temple. So others in the town decided to carry Her and mount Her on the processional vehicle. To their dismay they found that the deity could not be lifted at all and stood rock hard. This made them look out for a Parathava even if he was a converted Christian. One Anthony Picchai, a habitual drunkard agreed to try his hand, as no other Parathava was ready to do it due to the preaching that they have to shun 'other religions' and not believe in the Hindu deities as they are mere idols of stone!

When Anothony Picchai lifted it, the idol came along as though it was waiting to be lifted by a Parathava. It was a wonder that though he was professing Christian faith, his identity  as a Parathava meant something. It was just enough that a person coming in the lineage of Parathavas must touch the deity so that the deity makes Herself ready to do what he wishes! This man wanted to lift Her, and She made Herself pliable. What an affinity is this!! How did this happen?

This man was ex-communicated by other converted Parathavas, but the episode demonstrated that age-long affinity is not easy to erase. It also demonstrated that Hindu deities are NOT just idols or stones. They have some life or energy in them which Science has not yet known / or may never know. We call this as Atman or Adhyatmika present in the idol. This Atman in the deity which had been in mutual connect with the Atman of scores of Parathavas for more than 2000 years seems to recognise the Atman in the Parathava, Anthony Picchai even though he is presently not in mutual connection with Her. The Mutual link is weakened over time as She is no longer being nurtured by the Parathavas. There may come a time when that link will completely fade away. It seems that such a time is almost nearing because, the reason for which the Parathavas have left her, could not be achieved. It can be said that it is almost gone now.

Why did they leave her? Why did they break an age old bond between the Parathavas and Muttharamman? The reason was to retain their rights to pearl diving. Their history shows that they converted into Christianity under an agreement  to get arms from the Portugese to keep off the Mohammedans from usurping their rights in pearl diving. They made a promise to the Portugese on Muttharamman that they would start worshipping their God if they were given the arms they required to fight the Mohammedans. They got the arms and kept up the promise to convert to Christianity, but forgot the promises made to Muttharamman for thousands of years by their ancestors. The result is seen in these 400 years since conversion. What they thought as their right and livelihood is no longer there. Their wealth, livelihood and status have all decreased so much that they are facing the threat of losing even the fishes if Sethu Samudram Project is going to be implemented. These are the people who are fighting for stalling the Kudam kulam Nuclear plant as they fear that their land would turn into a graveyard. How a steady deterioration have come up after they broke their bond with Muttharamman!

But they have managed to survive with fishing occupation where we find some old habits still continuing. They have age old practices of invoking Hindu Gods to safeguard them while venturing into the sea. Certain types of fishes are too huge and even five times larger than their fishing vessels. If they come near them, they used to put their hand on the head of the fish and make a vow to Kumari amman, that they would not harm it and in reciprocation the fish also would not harm them. There is mythological story among the Parathavas by linking the giant fish to Skanda and a vow on the mother of Skanda that would protect them from any harm from the giant fishes.

Similarly during their fishing trips, they used to break a coconut to Lord Muruga / Skanda  when they cross Manappad and to Kumari Attha (Kumari amman) when they cross the tip of Cape Comorin. Why should they do that unless it is a tested and trusted way of ensuring their safety for ages into antiquity? No Christian God came to their help.

The interesting connection to Skanda in this part of Bharat is that it is here Skanda came to kill the demon Surapadman (asura / a native of Southern hemisphere). Surapadman's abode was Lanka where he imprisoned Jayantha, the son of Indra. Skanda rescued him and killed Surapadma. The seas engulfed the region of Surapadma, named Mahendra puri in Lanka after he was killed. But then the sea water receded after washing off Mahendrapuri. This is perhaps the first ever sea level rise experienced in the Bay of Bengal region after the end of Ice age. Or it could even be a tsunami that was triggered off Sundaland which had many regions above the sea level at that time.