Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The unique timing of Kāradaiyān Nonbu and the unique dish, Kāradai.

Nonbu, a Tamil word refers to a religious austerity done with a purpose. Among the different types of Nonbus, Kāradaiyān Nonbu observed in Tamilnadu is unique for its timing. Unlike the other Nonbus that are observed on specific days or tithis or stars, this Nonbu is associated with the moment of Sun’s entry into the next sign. This is performed exactly at Meena saṅkramana - at the moment when the Sun enters Pisces. The purpose /prayer is for the long life of the husband.

The dish offered is also a unique one. It is known as ‘Kāradai’ and smeared with butter, it is offered to the deity. At the moment of sun’s entry into Pisces, a new mangal sutra (yellow thread /thāli) is tied around the neck replacing the old one.The replacement is done by an auspicious elderly woman of the household or by oneself. 

The tradition behind this Nonbu is the religious austerity followed by Sāvitri, to restore her husband Satyavān into life.

Timing of Kāradaiyān nonbu.

It is believed that the timing of this Nonbu is the same as when Sāvitri got back her husband. But there is no proof to support this belief on timing.

Sāvitri lore is older than Valmiki Ramayana for we find a mention of it in the dialogue between Sita and Anasūya. (1) That dialogue establishes the importance given to Sāvitri lore by married women ever since Ramayana times. So there is no doubt that following the austerities done by Sāvitri must have been a continuing tradition down the ages in our country.  But the timing of the Nonbu bears astrological significance, making us wonder whether any astrological fore-thought had gone into defining the timing of the Nonbu.  

Astrological significance of the time.

Astrologically speaking, the Meena saṅkramana indicates a number of pointers for astrologer- initiated remedy for warding off any danger to the life of the husband.

First of all the entry of sun into Pisces stands for the power of Daivajña (astrologer).
Sun's entry into Pisces indicates that the time is powerful to the astrologer. That is, the astrologers gain an upper hold in the events depending on the lord of the day when sun enters Pisces. His recommendation for a remedy or a vrata at this time or during sun’s stay in Pisces is bound to fructify well.

Looking through this line of reasoning we get an interesting correlation among various celestial features that are supposed to influence the longevity of the husband, thereby marriage itself. This correlation is done with the natural zodiac as the basis and Mars, the mangal planet as having an influence on marital longevity.

Let us see how this works.

The 8th house stands for life of oneself. Interestingly it also happens to be the house of death (māraka sthān) for the spouse (2nd from the 7th house). In the natural zodiac, Scorpio is the 8th house signifying life (Ayur bhava) for the native of Aries and it is also the māraka sthān for the spouse. That is why the natural 8th indicates mānglaya bhava or the life of the spouse.

Planet Saturn is the signifactor for longevity and Saturn with the lord of the 8th ensures longevity. (2)
But this gets awry when Saturn is in the natural 8th house (where he is in enmity) or with Mars, the lord of the natural 8th.

The equation between them (Saturn and Mars) is tricky. Saturn is debilitated in Martian Aries and therefore becomes inimical in Martian Scorpio.

Though he allows Mars to exalt in his own house in Capricorn, Mars does not reciprocate the same. Saturn is debilitated in the house of Mars in Aries!

This is a kind of dangerous game between these two planets since Saturn stands for longevity and Mars is in constant fear for life as a planet of the soldier! If Mars is not vigilant, he will be finished by Saturn as Saturn stands for Natural justice, exalting in the house of spouse in the 7th in Libra.

There is yet another combination involving Mars.

In the natural zodiac, Mars is lord of the 1st house, the Aries. It signifies self.

Mars has 4th aspect on Cancer that signifies happiness at home and home related features. The house- lord (Moon) is a friend of Mars. However if Mars gets into that house, it becomes weak due to debility.

Mars has 7th aspect on Libra, the house that signifies the spouse. But that house has a precarious balance between 2 important planets, the Sun and Saturn. The Sun, the friend of Mars debilitates there while Saturn the arch rival of both Sun and Mars gains supremacy through exaltation in that sign.

Mars has 8th aspect on Scorpio which happens to be his own. It is here his arch rival Saturn gets inimical to him. If his friend from the 4th house, that is, Moon gets into this house, it will become weak due to debilitation.

All these 3 places crucial for Mars cannot be rectified unless helped by placement and association of other planets.

But Mars is inauspicious in 12th too, though he has no dhrishti on the 12th house (Pisces). It is here the astrologers seemed to have worked out some exceptional remedies.

 For a moment to be auspicious, the power of Sun, Moon, Jupiter and the lagna lord must be there.
And Mars must have a safe passage to ensure longevity to the husband.
All these can be ensured at the moment of entry of sun into Pisces.


This is how it happens.

Mars sails through a safe passage in the house of Saturn, in Capricorn by exalting there.
Then he enters Aquarius, again the house of Saturn. There is every chance for Saturn to avenge Mars for debilitating him in Aries. But Saturn is not able to do because here Mars enters into his own stars, Avittam 3rd and 4th pada.

Then he enters Rahu's stars. They also see him placed in Uccha (exaltation) and favorable signs in the Navamasa which is indicative of the Dharma done in the previous birth. As long as Mars in the 2 houses of Saturn, Saturn cannot touch him.

But the moment Mars enters Pisces, that is, Poorattadhi (purva bhadhrapada) 4th pada, he will be placed in debility in cancer in the navamsa!.

The house being that of friendly Moon, is of no relevance there, because the state of a planet in the navamsa determines the result of its location in the Rasi!

Mars will be in difficult waters if he is entering Pisces (Meena saṅkramana)

So this moment of entry is strengthened at the instance of the astrologer whose power of word is also strengthened by that moment and chosen for invoking the mystic powers of Nature so that long life is ensured to the husband.

They had chosen the moment of sun's entry into Jupiter's rasi of Pisces for the Kāradaiyān Nonbu
- the moment when Mars in transit or in natal horoscope will be in the house of Jupiter in the rasi and in the house of Moon, in cancer in the Navamsa. The debilitated Mars in Navamsa will be pacified by the effect of the Nonbu observed at those moments.

In whichever way we try to combine and re-combine the planetary features related to Mangal or longevity of the marriage, none of them are closer to perfection as this moment at the junction of Aquarius and Pisces (Māsi and Panguni) explained above.

This makes us think that the timing has been a planned one and incorporated into Sāvitri tradition aimed at warding off Mangal dosha.

The specialty of the dish, Kāradai.

Kāradai offered at the Nonbu also has a connection to Mangal or longevity related issues.  Kāradai is a rice cake offered along with butter. Rice dish is mentioned as a remedy by Atharvana Veda (3)

Rice and barley are considered to be the two foods that protect one from weakness of the body and injuries. They are offered in the prayer in Atharvana veda. The prayer is also aimed at requesting Agni not to touch the person, because Agni destroys body. Ghee which is generally offered in prayers, is not used, as it is made by heating. The unheated butter is offered in symbolism of asking Agni deva not to trouble the one for whom the prayer is made.

But Kāradai is made with kārāmaṇi (cow-gram or lobia) instead of barley. The probable reason again reveals a connection to a prayer for longevity. Kārāmaṇi is actually a type of 'Payaru' similar to 'pacchai-p-payaru' (green gram). It is known as ‘black payaru’ in Kerala.  Pacchai-p-payaru is the gram used for propitiating Vishnu. But the black colour of kārāmaṇi is the colour for the planet Saturn whose ati-devatha is Yama!  Vishnu is Yama himself  among  subduers. (4)

The offer of  Kāradai fits well with prayer to Yama by Sāvitri. The choice of the Nonbu lagna (when sun transits from Saturn’s sign) is highly potent in mangal related issues. What is left out is the rope with which Yama pulled out the life of Satyavān! That is countered by the yellow thread worn as Mangal sutra!


(1) Valmiki Ramayana (2-118-10)

(2) AyushkaarEna saninahi adhyashtamaadhipathiryadi
SambhandO vidyatE yasya dheergaayur yogamuchyate" (Bhavartha  ratnakara)

(3) Atharvana Veda- VIII, 2. Prayer for exemption from the dangers of death.
"18. Rice and barley shall be auspicious to thee, causing no pain, inflicting no injury! They two drive away disease, they two release from calamity.
19. Whatever thou eatest or drinkest, the grain of the plough-land or milk, whatever is or is not to be eaten, all that food do I render for thee free from poison."

(4) Bhagawad Gita  (10-29)


venusmile said...

Excellent article with substantial points to prove and appreciate our elders forethoughts.many thanks.

Unknown said...

Dear Jayasree-ji,

I understand that when Mars enters Pisces, it will get debilitated in Navamsa. So it needs protection. But what that has to do with Sun entering Pisces ? I did not get the connection.

BTW, some Puja etc. are only connected to Solar calendars, not Luni-Solar Calendars, like Neel Puja / Charak Puja in Bengal. It happens on last day of Chaitra (13th-14th April or so) or say, Vishwakarma Puja.



Jayasree Saranathan said...

@ Chakraborthy,

This Nonbu done as mangalya vrata in memory of Savitri has no parallel anywhere in India when it comes to the timing. Another feature is that this is the only mangal vrata done by the Tamil Iyengar community by tying the mangal sutra. In this back ground, we get a question why they chose the sankramana time in the last month of the year.

There is no literature or oral tradition on the choice of time. In the absence of that I am attempting an explanation through extrapolation for the following reasons.

(1) The sankramana time assigns importance to Sun.
(2) The replacement of Mangal sutra (actually the yellow thread / Thaali) pre-supposes a role for Mars.
(3) The specific dish (Karadai) smeared with butter and the utterance (you find it in the last illustration) reiterates a connection to Ayush karaka and Yama.

On the (1)st point, the rationale could be as follows:
a. Worship done on any sankaramana is known as 'Ayush sankaranthi' - for, it increases longevity.
b. Infact the stay of Sun in Pisces is most auspicious for 'Union' / 'Serthi' / marriage. The divine marriages of deities are conducted in the month of Panguni in Tamil lands. The Thai-Nonbu done to Kamadeva for getting a good husband culminates in Panguni when marriages were held in olden days.
c. The presence of Sun at any point is a must-factor for auspiciousness.

Like this we can think of connections to sankramana time chosen for this nonbu. Sankramana brings in Sun factor.

Unknown said...

Dear Jayasree-ji,

I think I have found out a connection.

Pandit Ganesh Dutt Pathak and Pandit Tarkachandra Shastri- who translated BHPS without Editing / correcting the "Mistakes" suggest that all Planets have 5-9th aspects but their strength varies. This is discussed by Shubham Alock under Graha Dristi part.


That way, Sun will aspect Cancer & Scorpio thru 5-9th aspects and save them.



Shiv17 said...

Dear Mam,
If one takes eg of texts of parashara etc there is very few about Mars debilitation,wat's ur take on Mars debilitated and retrograde in both d1 and d9(cancer in both) and wat it means when there is a conjunction of Mars and Saturn in there cancellation of the debilitation..