Thursday, July 13, 2017

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 2


10.1-20.

One day SUrasEna's son vasudEva entered into wedlock with dEvaki and filled with joy at this festive occasion they started in procession in a chariot. At that time kamsa, the son of king ugrasEna joyously took the reins of the chariot sending them to raptures and began to chauffeur them out of his affection for his sister dEvaki.  They were preceded by a number of musicians playing relentlessly on the trumpets, percussion instruments and blowing the conch. As the festive procession continued dEvaki's father dEvaka decided to shower gifts on his daughter on this auspicious occasion.

10.1-21.

dEvaka gifted eighteen hundred chariots with all facilities, four hundred fully gold-decked huge elephants, ten thousand horses and two hundred stylish maidens to serve dEvaki and keep her company. As the newly wed couple started their journey on that royal road....

10.1-22.

kamsa loosened the reins to let the horses hasten the chariot. All of a sudden kamsa felt disturbed deep within as an unseen voice from the skies thundered thus...

10.1-23.


Prompted by the gleeful appreciations of your sister you are lovingly chauffeuring the chariot. However, you know not that, the eighth child to be born in the womb of this polite and beautiful sister of yours shall slay you!

Link to Telugu page

10.1-24.

kamsa, the one to bring disrepute and destruction to the bhOjAs was shocked upon hearing the ethereal voice that spelled his doom and his shoulders shuddered. He pulled his horrifying sword out of its sheath, caught hold of the braid of dEvaki without the least consideration of being siblings, unmounted her from the chariot to slay her. vasudEva rushed to him at once.

10.1-25.

Approaching kamsa, the sin-hearted, hubris filled, consumed by the raging fire of anger, vasudEva used his sweet and nectarine speech to calm down kamsa and started speaking so...

10.1-26.

Alas! You are the elder brother of dEvaki. You should shower her with gifts of gold and clothes. Or you should felicitate her with sweet speech. Instead you seem to rely on this unseen voice and believing that to be true you are out to slay your sister! O brother, please withdraw yourself, bear patience. This doesn't befit you. I beseech you, please do not kill her.

10.1-27.

Further...

vasudEva's dhArmic counsel



10.1-28.

Your sister is an innocent and weak lass. She is pure-hearted and has only your welfare in mind. Based on the unseen voice you are setting out to dis-honor her. Alas, O meritorius one and born in a great clan, does this slaying of your sister out of anger befit you? Contemplate on it O lord of bhOjAs

10.1-29.

Death is also born as soon as one assumes a physical body. The elemental body eventually merges back in the five elements either today or tomorrow or after a hundred years. The indweller jIva sheds its current body, and assumes another life form depending on the merits or sins that have been committed by the previous body just as the caterpillar raises the front part of the body to mount on another leaf and then drags the rear part from the previous leaf. As if the experiences of wakeful state appear clearly in dreams, the accumulated karma of the jIva follows it birth after birth.

10.1-30.

Carrying the previous impressions of the sins and merits begotten in the previous births, the mind of the jIva in a given body is perturbed and follows the senses with celerity. Following the senses thus, the accumulated karma is not destroyed even if the jIva assumes multiple births.

10.1-31.

Just as the reflection of the Sun and the Moon in pots filled with water wavers due to the wind, the jIva assumes a body befitting its past karmas and moves therein zealously.

10.1-32.

The good and bad that one experiences is verily due to the karma performed by them. It is only the performer of the karma that is responsible for them. This is true even for Lord brahma. This being the case there is really no use trying to judge others (and blame them for one's situation).

10.1-33.

Therefore one should never cause harm to others. Would causing harm to another because it is beneficial to one be ever condoned? Can one escape the result of such a bad karma?

10.1-34.

Although she is related to you as a younger sister, she is indeed like your daughter. She has a good character and is worthy of honour. She is young, a bride who is radiant and opulent. But she is forlorn, terrified and is shuddering. I bow to you, O compassionate king kamsa, be kind and merciful towards her.

10.1-35.

Thus vasudEva spoke endeavouring to cajole kamsa through wise counsel  as well as frightful words. However, those words had no calming effect on kamsa. His angry gaze was raining fire and bereft of any compassion he was determined to kill that beautiful dEvaki. Sensing that his words had no effect on the foolish kamsa, vasudEva started to deliberate within himself his further course of action...

10.1-36.

One cannot justify cowardice by saying death is certain and succumb to situations. As far as one's intellect can take, one should endeavour to protect oneself spiritedly on the basis of his own strength.

10.1-37.

Having determined so...

10.1.38.

The best course to follow today is to avert danger to this woman by promising to surrender the newborns. Who knows the future! If this feme covert survives today perhaps a more lasting way-out can be found later. Even if sons are born to me and their immediate death is imminent in his hands, would not fate catch up with him? Wouldn't there be a way to safeguard the newborns? Perhaps there will be. 

Raging forest fire spares the near-by trees but leaps and guts the trees that are very far. Even so, one's own karmas have the far reaching consequences of causing one's own birth and death. Therefore, why stutter.

10.1-39.

It seems just to rescue my wife by promising to surrender the newborn sons. If he spares my wife now, perhaps by the time sons are born, situation would overturn. Would God not come to the rescue by then?

10.1-40.

The ethereal voice earnestly declared that the child born in dEvaki's eighth pregnancy shall kill kamsa. Why would it not happen? It is best to immediately secure the release of my wife. Thinking thus, vasudEva...


Friday, July 07, 2017

daSama skandHam - The Tenth Canto - 1

I wrote about SrImad AndhrabhAgavatham a couple of years ago. This is an all time great work of poet pOthana in the 14th century. The work is celebrated for its devotional overtones, story telling, amazing use of the Telugu language, lucidity and simplicity. A study of this is as much a treat in knowing the mythology as it is about an appreciation of Telugu grammar and above all it drives home the requirement for bhakthi in each of the seeker to attract the grace of the Lord.

Please visit the web site: telugu bhAgavatham. It is an outstanding work of a team of volunteers led by brahmaSrI sAmbaSiva rao gAru, who in the purity of their heart and their labor of love have undertaken the task to digitize the work and bring it forth to devotees along with word meaning and overall import of each poem. There are nearly 10000 padyams in this work. The work is also available as an Android app

For a long time I've been asked by my non telugu friends if an English adaptation of the great work of pOthana is available. I haven't found any. While sending a-padyam-a-day to my Telugu friends I was inspired to this idea of translating a-padyam-a-day from chaste Telugu to manageable English. So here is an attempt, starting with the tenth canto of bhAgavatham, the chapter that describes the life of srI kriShNa. I'll keep updating this page every 2-3 days, so please keep coming back. 


10.1-1.

Oh, the One Who has broken the bow of Siva;
Oh, the One Who protects indrA and his ilk by slaying his enemies;
Oh, the One Who is the crest jewel of the highly esteemed kAkutsA dynasty;
Your glory, oh king srIrAma, is spread all over like the light of full moon;
Kindly accept this offering of mine.

10.1-2.

sUta, the sage highly skilled in the narration of purANas said to the ones of great attributes - Saunaka et al, “Parikshit submitted thus to the great sage Suka…”



10.1-3.

You have narrated to me the stories of the dynasties of solar and lunar lineage. I have listened with great sense of awe, the lives and conducts of great kings in these lineages.

10.1-4.

How did the birth of Sri Mahavishnu happen in the clan of yAdavAs, the men of great character? How did HE grow up among them, what sport did he resort to in various times. Kindly describe these to me.

10.1-5.

The praise of srI mahAvishnu is the pill for the ills of mundane ways of life. Joy wells up in the heart when you listen to it. Those desirous of liberation seek it. Only an animalic person would ever say his ears had enough of it (hari’s praise).

10.1-6.

The army of the kauravas led by bhISHma is invincible even for the gods. With what kind of boat did my forefathers conquer this sea of an army as easily as crossing the stride of a child!

10.1-7.

I was lifeless in the womb of my mother having been hit by aSwathhAma when the Lord holding the discus came to save me and provide a heir for the sons of kunti

10.1-8.

HE, the purusHA principle, fills Himself in the entire Time and Forms and is present within and without every single being. Being present so, He confers liberation on all the beings (jIvas) by saving them from the cycle of birth and death. Kindly describe to me in detail the life of such purushOttama.

10.1-9.


Best among yOgis, you have told me that balarAma is the son of rOhiNi. How then was he present in the womb of dEvaki without being in another body? Why and how did the lotus eyed kriShna leave his father's house and go to the village rEpalle (brindAvan). In whose home did He stay there and what all acts did he perform there? Why did He have to kill his maternal uncle kamsA? How long did he live on the earth? How many consorts did He have? How was He disposed towards them? What all did He do there? Please be kind to describe to me the entire story of mAdhava.

10.1-10.

Further, parikShith submitted thus.

10.1-11.

My body is sustained by drinking deep the nectar of the stories of hari that is emanating from the lotus of your face. Depression has deserted me. Both thirst and hunger have departed from me. My mind is thrilled with excitement.

10.1-12.

Hearing these words of the king, that son of vyAsa, Suka spoke as follows.

10.1-13.

The stories of viShnu purify the ones desirous of always listening to His stories and also the ones who recount those just as the holy stream of water that emanates from His lotus feet.

10.1-14.

O King, listen! Earlier as thousands of demonic kings spread their might on earth, replete with regal pomp and conceit, mother Earth having been unable to bear them any more, took the form of gOmAtha (cow) and approached the lotus-born brahmA crying inconsolably. Lord brahmA calmed and consoled the desolate mother Earth with his speech and contemplated on the course of action. He went to seek help of srImahAviSHNu along with mother Earth and other gods. Contemplating on Lord viSHNu through the hymn purusha sUktam, He entered in to the wondrous samAdhi state. Returning from that deep state of communion with the Lord viSHNu, the One born from the water-born lotus (brahmA) addressed the gods and mother Earth with love and happiness about the voice of God that He heard in that state.

10.1-15.

O gods, please go and incarnate on the earth with your attributes in the clan of yAdavas. The Lord of lakshmi will happily be born as vasudEva's son and relieve the burden of mother Earth.

10.1-16.

O angels, the daughters of the gods, please deign to incarnate on the earth with beautiful forms in order to serve the Lord hari. AdisEsha, the serpent on which Lord rests will precede Him and be born as His elder brother and bring joy to Him.

10.1-17.

Goddess mAyA, the illusory power that drives the whole world and causes infatuation in the unrealized will also incarnate with her attributes as per the order of the Lord and carry out a specific task.

10.1-18.

Thus, having convinced the gods and consoled the mother Earth, Lord brahmA left for His abode. 

(Moving over to the earth) Then the lord of the yadUs, sUrasEna made mathurA his capital city and ruled over the states of sUrasEna and mAthurA.

10.1-19.

O King, in earlier times that city of mathurA where the Lord of prosperity nArAyaNa happily and lovingly resided became the prime city for all the kings of the yAdava clan.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sathguru Thyagaraja

The music world recently (on 4th May, 2017) celebrated the 250th birth anniversary of the Saint of carnatic music Sathguru Thyagaraja Swami. Year-long concerts were organized by several groups to mark the great year and as the actual date drew closer there was intense musical activity across the globe. Newspapers were not left behind and in particular The Hindu also ran a series of articles related to the saint composer. It was indeed a thrilling time for the connoisseurs as also the common man of music. Several of us need just a pretext to discuss and listen to a Thyagaraja Kriti and as pretexts go, this 250th birth anniversary served as the biggest by far. While we basked in the devotional, musical aspects of the kritis and reflected upon the deeper spiritual meanings as also the human values embedded in them I did hear a few discordant notes here and there about the poor opinion that Sathguru had towards women and the bias he had towards caste. A famed carnatic singer also alluded to the same.

The argument was based on citing out of context of some kritis like the one from the pancha ratna duDukugala nannEdora koduku brOchura. The curious may look at this link and refer to svara sAhityam 6 teliyani naTa-viTa kSudrulu vanitalu and svara sAhityam 9 mAnava tanu durlabham in which he talks about being modaTi kulajuDu - born in the first clan - arguably a Brahmin. These two lines are the ones that the critics always use to tell the story of how the saint was against women and lower castes!! Nothing can be farther from truth than this.

This begs the question, why did the saint then deify Sabari, the woman born in the lower caste? In the rAgam mukHAri, he composed entani nE varnintu sabari bhAgyamu - how should I describe the good fortune of Sabari? He talks highly of Ahalya, the woman with alleged infidelity towards her husband in many kritis. He often pleads with the Lord to bless him like He blessed these women from the rAmAyaNa. This argument is likely enough to seal the myopic views of the critics regarding the attitude of the saint towards women. But let us not stop here. Let us go a bit deeper into understanding the work of the saint. 

The saint was primarily on a spiritual journey. For his journey he chose the music as the vehicle. The goal of spiritual journey is moksha or nirvAna or liberation. With this in mind he kept his vehicle in good shape by constantly practicing music. And this vehicle seemed to have a life of sorts. So it had to be fed. He fed it the name of srIrAmA. So while the vehicle was thus fed well and kept in good shape, it made the journey a great pleasure (Ananda) and automatically reached the goal. It not only reached, on the way it gave great joy to several other chariots as well and enabled (and still enabling) them to reach the goal.

Unraveling the above metaphor we find the saint's work to be holistic package of devotion, music and spirituality. These three aspects are deeply interwoven and provide the promised nourishment only when taken in totality. The mistake that the learned men seem to commit is that they tend to treat the different aspects in isolation. Reductionism and compartmentalism are hallmarks of our times and this is what often leads to commenting out of context. 

As the saint kept the goal of liberation in front of him, he constantly discussed with his mind what are the obstacles and enablers to reach his goal. Hence the repeated use of o manasA in almost every kriti of his. He saw it from a social angle (in fact there is no other angle to see this). He commented on the ways of the world that obstruct in the journey. One such he said is women. But he also said what kind of women. He talked about the types of women who are engaged in dancing or resorted to flesh trade. Such women caused an obstacle to others as they are viewed by others with tinted lens of lust. I am very sure no woman would ever want to be seen only thus, in this era or in the eras gone by. The lust in his opinion was not as detrimental to the object of it as it was to the one who harbored it. We do see the fallout of such attitude towards women in today's world also. Therefore every criticism of this object of lust is actually a warning for the pursuer of it. 

Now it is not as if women don't journey on spiritual path and are not entitled for liberation. They too can be subjects of such an attitude towards men in which case it obstructs their path. Therefore the mention of woman itself is a sort of figure of speech.

In the spiritual plane, woman is equivalent to prakrithi (or nature) which attains fulfilment when combined with purusha. This needs to be understood beyond all gender stereotypes. In many ways swayed by women or exploiting them is equivalent to exploiting nature for selfish gains. Again I don't need to belabor the point of how exploitation of nature is causing widespread problems in the globe. This may appear farfetched but do think about it from a spiritual angle, the one from which Sathguru Thayagaraja Swami viewed life (as is eminently evident from his other kritis). Exploitation of women at the personal level brings disharmony in the personal conduct, family and when practiced widely brings ruin to the society. Exploitation of the woman that nature is brings disaster to our lives. Both are as true today as they were during Thayagaraja's times or even before that. Those are eternal principles that obstruct liberation.

Again he compassionately defines what is mOksha in the sAramati kriti mokshamu kalada. In this he questions if liberation is ever attainable for one who is not liberated while living. In other words, he categorically says liberation is not something attained during death after living a life on earth. It is living like a liberated soul even while being on earth - in harmony and happiness. As we discussed music being his chosen vehicle, he goes on to say steadfast and honest pursuit of music gives you that harmony and happiness.

Those that call him being against women should also note he was no great fan of men either!!! That is men who displayed all the insignia of being spiritual but really acted out of tune to the guise they have put on. He was against men who for the sake of fulfilling their wants indulged in flattery of the rich. he criticized men who fell for the sensuous. 

In summary it means he spared nobody who was hypocritical and professed to be on path of liberation but indulged in actions quite opposite to that. Through his work he called for single pointed devotion to the Lord. At the face of it, he eulogized srIrAmA with a bow and was deeply into mythology. But a closer look at kritis like endhundi vedalithivo in darbAr clearly tell us that Sathguru thought of srIrAmA as the eternal divine principle. He liked The Ultimate with the name srIrAmA. 

Therefore in my opinion before commenting on isolated aspects of Sathguru's works one needs to weigh their thoughts on the touchstone of rAmabhakthi (devotion to Lord rAmA) and the ultimate goal of life as visualized by the saint. Those with the goal of filling up a column or air time should steer clear of it no matter how tempting the thought of playing to the (current day) gallery is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Srimad Andhra Bhagavatham

It feels somewhat strange to write on this topic of Srimad Andhra Bhagavatham. Particularly so because at best I am just an enthusiast with very little knowledge of it. I have heard it with admiration for decades now from my now nonagenarian grandmother, who had no formal education but recalls still with aplomb several of the poems written in chaste Telugu by Sri. Bammera Pothana, the Telugu farmer-poet who lived in the 15th century near present day Warangal in the Telangana state.

The Telugu Bhagavatham is a celebrated work that is rich in literature, richer in devotion and richest in submission to God. It is a translation of the Bhagavatham, the story of Lord Vishnu's various earthly careers (avatars) and accomplishments written in Sanskrit by Veda Vyasa, the man to whom we owe the whole of the literature and scriptures. 

Legend has it that Lord Rama Himself granted a vision to a meditating Pothana, and commanded him to undertake the translation of the Bhagavatham story into Telugu and promised all help! Exhorted thus, Pothana did a wonderful translation in which he didn't always stick to the original narrative but added his own imagination of the situation, lucidity of expression using a rarely seen command over Telugu grammar and usage. 



Photo from http://pothana-telugu-bhagavatham.blogspot.in/2015/02/blog-post_10.html


For instance, in the episode of the Gajendra moksham, where the elephant battles the crocodile in a lake for thousand years and finally calls out to Vishnu in total surrender, Vyasa describes that Vishnu, upon listening to the cry of the elephant rushes to the spot on His Garuda and slays the crocodile, thus saving the elephant. Pothana however says, Vishnu goes running without even leaving the hand/saree pallu of Lakshmi that He was holding at the time, completely taken away by the surrender-filled cry of the elephant devotee. The narrative full of lovely grammatical usages, poetic beauty does appear to have compromised on the factual. But the real fact that needs to be appreciated is that Surrender begets the Lord and the elephant and crocodile merely are characters in that. Therefore, Pothana has done a translation-plus, if you will, in stead of merely substituting words. That in fact is the soul of this work.

In the six centuries that the Andhra Bhagavatham has existed in this world, it has filled the hearts of many a seeker, the foremost among them being Saint Thyagaraja Swami. It is said that study of Pothana Bhagavatam constituted a part of the daily prayer schedule of the epic composer. Little wonder then that their sentiments expressed for Lord appear equally sublime. 

As recently as forty years ago, the popular poems from Pothana Bhagavatham used to be household treasures taught by parents and grandparents to toddlers and thus at least some of them were preserved in the public consciousness. As the need for English education grew and understandably so, this work began to fade from public memory and was a privilege of a few learned pundits and occasionally admired by enthusiasts such as yours truly. This was partly also because the lack of effective dissemination media post independence and in our quest for industrial jobs and modern civilization we neglected the great treasure to some extent. 

But all is not lost. Thanks to the modern day technologies, we are able to hear the renderings and expositions in Televisions. There is a cultural resurgence of sorts and also the now somewhat-well-to-do middle class showing interest in our heritage. While there are many resources available on the internet, prominent being telugubhavatham.com, it could still be a challenge to sing these poems. 

It is here that a very important gap has been filled by Sri. Malladi Suribabu of Vijayawada. Father of the famous carnatic duo, Malladi brothers, Sri. Suribabu is a great teacher of carnatic music. He has set hundreds of the padyams into tune and rendered with his rich voice. In the year 2014, he rendered more than 800 poems from the Pothana Bhagavatham after setting them to lovely ragas. This fantastic labor of love of Sri. Suribabu has now assumed the form of a CD and will soon be available for all. 

This CD entitled "Bhagavatha Padya Madhurimalu" will be released in Rajamahendravaram (erstwhile Rajamundry) on the 03rd Dec 2015 at 10 AM. Venue: Vallabha Ganapathi Temple, Kalyan Nagar, Konthamuru, Rajamahendravaram. The detailed invitation in Telugu is given below.

All are invited!! If you are an enthusiast like me, come along and take part in spreading this lovely cultural treasure to ten more people in your circles. Let us do our bit to ensure future generations do not miss out on this great work which will enrich their lives a great deal. Do reach out to me through comments section if you want to stand up and be counted.


Invitation to Bhagavtha Padya Madhurimalu CD release ceremony 

To paraphrase Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba "Bhagavatham chadivithe Baagavutam" - we will become good by reading Bhagavatham. 

The event will also feature the release of the audio CD of compositions of Sadguru Narayana Teertha, rendered by the Malladi brothers - vidwans Sri. SreeRamPrasad and Sri. Ravikumar. This is the 4th volume that is being offered now. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dr. Kalam

A decade ago when I joined the industry from academia I'd fiercely bat for skill. I placed skill way above any other requirements for people. I professed that we are as good as our skill. This also made me form opinions about people and judge them. Accordingly, I was surrounded by three kinds of people -  I found stars, average Joes and totally useless fellows! Of course I thought of myself as a star, at least I had to think so! Over the years however, call it ageing or whatever else, I have been inclined to treat people as people and not judge them based on their skill. Skill is something that can be acquired, human birth cannot be. This is a change that warms my heart. Now, while skill is important and must be acquired, humanness takes the top billing. Some call it aptitude or core behaviour in our industry. But as we deal with more people to achieve something and depend on them, their character (and ours) is the one that dictates whether we are on right track or not. This calls for a human touch irrespective of what field we are in. The reason for this lengthy introduction is that I found Dr. Kalam to be an embodiment of humanness. He is a rare blend of humanity, humility, passion and dedication. I never met him. I wish I could. He was on my must meet list but somehow day to day stuff always took precedence and I took it for granted that someday I will at least see him from a distance! Alas, it was not to be. He exited before that. 

However, not before inspiring me enough. In the line of education and research that I came through it is common for people to look west after finishing their education and often not return, due to either lack of opportunities or will. It doesn't matter why, but I was not inclined at all to go. Many people tried to suggest. I refused. This was also the time I read the "Wings of Fire". It was on a journey to attend the funeral ceremony of my uncle at Borigumma, Odisha. This book kept company in the Prasanthi express and in the subsequent bus journey from Vizianagaram. Just as you would swallow a favorite sweet, this book was so absorbing that I read it cover to cover in one go! The message of the homegrown missile man was enough for me to decide and for good that come what may I will stay here and pursue my career. I don't intend to say whether that was right decision or not as far as career is concerned, but it gave me a confidence that with dedication and passion one can achieve something no matter where you are. I continue to be inspired by that thought. To me he is a sage. To perform action when it is easily avoidable shows the sense of purpose of man. Dr. Kalam could have happily sat in his home and written books. He chose to go to students and inspire them. And he ended his innings in one of those. 

Pokhran 1998 is another unforgettable episode for me. India, for the first time showed political will and scientific prowess and defied the west to conduct its own nuclear tests - completely indigenous. In a determined defiance of the dominating West, India had broken away from the colonial shackles - thus filling a number of students in the scientific community with great self belief. 

And a decade before that, the "Agni ka saphal parikshan...." messages from a proud prime minister Rajiv Gandhi interspersed in the commercial breaks of Mahabharath in our school days mean a lot to me in retrospect. And we know the Man who enabled all this. 

However, Dr. Kalam was perhaps not your quintessential scientist with great brainwaves emerging all the time. He didn't have to be. He was far more than that. He conquered people across the spectrum - politicians, engineers, scientists..... The internal enemies didn't trouble him much and so he didn't have external enemies. I've been looking for an Ajathasatru (one whose enemies are not born!) ever since I came across this name in Kings, I wondered if such people can exist. Dr. Kalam comes closest to that description.

A true leader who enabled his teams and helped them achieve greatness. This is not done by skill alone. Skill is required but also needs to be channelized. This can be done by only a leader and a visionary.

Sad that Dr. Kalam is gone; but very glad that he came!

To rest in peace, there is only one way and that is to live in peace (with oneself). Dr. Kalam did that with aplomb and he really doesn't need my pitiable RIP wish. So long, Dr. Kalam.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam 2015

11 pits of sacrificial fire, 121 priests chanting hymns, 11 namakams, 11 anuvakas (verses) of chamakam, 11 days of spiritual extravaganza, 550 volunteers.... all under one roof. Welcome to the Sai Ramesh Hall at Brindavan Ashram, Kadugodi, Whitefield, Bangalore - venue of the Ati Rudra Maha Yajnam, fondly called the ARMY. The ARMY of 2015 kicked off on 1st March 2015 and will go on until 12th of March 2015.

Namakam and chamakam are hymns that are part of the Yajur veda and each consist of 11 verses. Namakam visualizes the Lord Rudra in all of creation and pays obeisance to Him who is in all and thus makes us all equals. Accordingly the word namo, namo  (I bow, I bow) are oft repeated in this. Chamakam lays down all the requirements for a good and godly life and requests the Lord to bless us with those. 

Chanting namakam 11 times and chamakam once completes one Shri Rudram. 
Chanting namakam 11*11=121 times and chamakam 1*11=11 completes one laghu Rudram. 
Chanting namakam 11*11*11=1331 times and chamakam 11*11=121 completes one maha Rudram. 
Chanting namakam 11*11*11*11=14641 times and chamakam 11*11*11=1331 completes one Ati Rudram. 

That means 11 Shri Rudrams make a laghu rudram, 11 laghu rudrams make a maha rudram and 11 maha rudrams make the Ati Rudram. 


Abhishekam of the Lord Trayeeswara (photo courtesy: RadioSai)

Obviously it is impossible to do it alone. Hence there are a minimum of 121 priests chanting Rudram 11 times a day thus completing a Maharudram in a day. The chants are accompanied by the ceremonial bath of the Lord with water, milk, honey, ghee, sugar, fruit juices. 





The Lord is decked up beautifully after the abhishekams. And in His divine presence, sacrificial offerings in to the 11 sacrificial pits are offered after the ceremonial bath known as abhishekam with loud chants of hundreds in unison. 





Rudra Homam (photo courtesy: theprasanthireporter.org)


The program commences every morning at 05.30 AM and goes on until 12:00  noon. Evening programs are marked by vedic recitals, discourses, musical renderings and bhajans - Cultual programs to regale the majestic Lord. The marvellous marble Lord that you behold here is christened Trayeeswara.

The believers have the conviction that this prayer for universal peace will spread positive vibrations in the world and keep every being happy and contented. May this really be so. If you're around Bangalore, don't miss this one. We are already past the half way mark. Come and pray for universal peace and brotherhood. Our world needs it.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sundara kaanda - Ramartham Vaanaraarthamcha

After being reminded of his amazing might by the great bear Jambavantha, Hanuman decides to cross the huge ocean and search for Mother Seetha in Lanka. He gets onto the mountain on the seashore and takes a good look at the task ahead as well as the (otherwise) insurmountable obstacles. He sums up all his strength, takes a deep breath and with a mighty leap takes off into the skies to get across to Lanka. As he pressed the mountain with his feet, it quaked and showered all the flowers that were borne on the trees. The inhabitants of the mountain, animals, snakes and other people fled thinking the mountain is being harmed by a demon. And then they heard the scholars in the sky saying thus:

रामार्थं वानरार्थं च चिकीर्षन कर्म दुष्करम
समुद्रस्य परं पारं दुष्प्रापं प्राप्तूमिच्छति
రామార్థం వానరార్థంచ చికీర్షన్ కర్మ దుష్కరం 
సముద్రస్య పరం పారం దుష్ప్రాపం ప్రాప్తుమిచ్ఛతి
He has set upon this arduous and impossible (for others) task for the sake of Rama and the fellow monkeys and decided to cross to the other side of the ocean ||1.30||
(Sundarakanda: Follow this link for the verses and meanings)
The most wonderful aspect leading to this verse is that Hanuman never even once feels he is doing this to earn personal glory. In this verse he has squarely put the team (vanaras or the monkeys) and SriRama(the "Boss") ahead of himself in the sincere pursuit of the goal. This observation has been made by the onlookers, the scholars in the skies watching over the proceedings. This implies Hanuman has created a strong perception of why he is doing what he is doing. Such perception creation is obviously not possible without strong behaviour. The key point though is that Hanuman never craved to make an impression and build an image for himself. The image built itself based on the manner in which he carried himself. As Jambavan praises him and reminds him of his amazing might, Hanuman grows to gigantic proportions and dwarfs everyone present before him. Yet, he bows to the elders exemplifying humility. Being humble in the backdrop of great accomplishments is a great quality to have. This is important because we never achieve anything in isolation. There are immense contributions of people around us in everything we do. And finally when we realize without the grace of God, we count for nothing, humility and gratitude will automatically appear. The idea is not to belittle oneself and feel insignificant. It is only not to have an exaggerated feeling about oneself. In order to do so, one must place the goal (the work of Rama) and team (people around) before oneself. Thus Hanuman is a great example of working selflessly for the sake of SriRama and his mates. This seems to have brought him immortality and ultimate glory without setting himself to achieve it. The point is further strengthened by Ravana whose sole aim was himself and his pleasures and his glory. In order to achieve that he didn't shy away from taking shortcuts, doing immoral acts, putting the entire state machinery at work to fulfil his desires till ignominy caught up with him and he finally perished becoming the perfect example of how not to be in life. Hanuman's personality traits, work ethic and selflessness stand in stark contrast to Ravana's pride, selfish motives and his obsession with himself. The result is today Hanuman is worshiped as a God and Ravana is remembered for examples of wrong doings. 
At a worldly plane, Hanuman holds lot of examples for us to follow. In our day to day life, we should be valorous like him, giving our best in whatever we do. Excelling in the sphere of our activity should be our goal. That satisfaction is its own reward. "Work is worship, Duty is God", it is said. Finally offering it to one's beloved master and thanking for the opportunity makes one light. Hanuman was well aware that it is Rama who was powering him to do this job and that made his job easier. When the self takes upon the doership, discrimination leaves us. This can potentially make us take wrong decisions. By surrendering to the master and thinking whatever happens is his will and giving our best we don't put the pressure of failing on ourselves and thus usually do a better job. This is a great working philosophy that one should adopt in order to excel. The work we do is always an opportunity. It could have been done by someone else but we got a chance to do it. So we should do it such that we are remembered for that. This is where goal includes and transcends skill.

In the spiritual plane, Hanuman signifies budhhi that losely translates as intellectual aspect. Rama signifies the Supreme soul and Seetha, the individual soul. The union of the individual soul with the supreme soul can happen only when budhhi decides to do it. The individual soul is hijacked by the ten senses that signify Ravana. Saving the individual soul from the clutches of the senses and merging it with the supreme soul is fraught with obstacles. It should be done by budhhi for the sake of the supreme self itself since everything came from that and should ultimately merge in that. It is this symbolism associated with Ramayana that makes it eternally sweet. I wrote about it here quoting Sri Sathya sai Baba.

Read in the backdrop of this, the above verse is really loaded with implications in our worldly and spiritual life. Comments welcome. 

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Sundara Kaanda - Sundare Sundaro Rama...


Sundara kaanda is the fifth of the seven parts that makes up the epic Ramayanam. This chapter exclusively deals with the daring search operation conducted single-handedly by Hanuman, the trusted servant of Lord SriRama for mother Seetha. With no scope for advice or second opinion in this adventure Hanuman solely relies on his judgment and might to wade through the several challenges that come his way and ultimately emerges successful.  Valmiki is at his best expounding the thoughts that run in Hanuman's mind as he undertakes this extremely critical mission alone. There are lessons galore packed beautifully in the Sundara Kaanda. With the grace of the Lord, I endeavor to present one sloka that appeals to me with the meaning and hopefully a contemporary take on the same every week.

To start it off on this holy Vaikuntha Ekadasi day of 2015, let us see the verse that extols the Sundara Kanda. 

सुंदरे  सुन्दरो  रामः  सुंदरे  सुंदरी  कथा
सुंदरे  सुंदरी  सीता  सुंदरे  सुंदरं  वनं
सुंदरे  सुंदरं  काव्यं  सुंदरे  सुन्दरः  कपिः
सुंदरे  सुंदरं  मन्त्रं  सुंदरे  किं  न  सुंदरं ?

సుందరే సుందరో రామః సుందరే సుందరీ కథా
సుందరే సుందరీ సీతా సుందరే సుందరం వనం 
సుందరే సుందరం కావ్యం సుందరే సుందర: కపి: 
సుందరే సుందరం మంత్రం సుందరే కిం న సుందరం

Beautiful is Lord Rama in the SundaraKaanda
Beautiful is the story
Beautiful is mother Seetha
Beautiful is the Ashoka forest (in which She lived)
Beautiful is the poetry
Beautiful is the monkey (Lord Hanuman)
Beautiful is the mantram 
What is it that is not beautiful (in sundara kaanda)?


Sundara kanda full of messages for our daily life presented beautifully. The first of the poets serves a great treat of fact and beauty. Please come, let us follow the trail of lord Hanuman.

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Love to blog. Every time I turn joyous or in extreme pain, I blog. Huge believer of 'charity begins at home'.