Friday, 14 November 2014

Om Muruga

Vetrivel Muruganukku Arohara

We get what we deserve not what we desire: Even if our desires are spiritual or divine. My in-laws wanted to have a tour of the 6 sacred places of muruga along with my brother-in-law as soon as they came down to India.  Sundar and I planned that we would join only to Pazhani and Thiruchendur as kids could not miss school. It was a much awaited trip which my in-laws and specially my brother-in-law looked forward to. During the fag end of their US stay, Air India goofed up with the travel dates.

There was  big confusion regarding their return to Bangalore via Mumbai. The tickets from New Jersey to Mumbai were booked. Unfortunately, the air India officials booked the Mumbai to Bangalore trip on the very same day as the New-Jersey to Mumbai flight. This is how efficiently our officials work!!!!. When inquired, they expressed helplessness and with great difficulty, the New-Jersey to Mumbai trip was preponed by a day. It turned out that my brother-in-law could not travel on that day and had to cancel his entire India trip. It was a big disappointment for us that he could not join us for the trip. 

We however, planned to visit Pazhani and Thiruchendur if not all. My in-laws also joined us for the curtailed trip.Why it all happennded is left to the lord’s own discretion. Yes, quite disappointing to note that though our want was spiritual and divine, it was rejected by HIM. Well, HIS ways are mysterious. There may be better reasons that my brother-in-law missed the trip. All is for Good. 

Though Vishnu took several avatarams, Shiva is the official destroyer, Muruga is the favourite GOD for most of the tamilians.  Muruga has 6 important places commonly called as “Aru Padai Veedu”. They are Palanai, Swami malai, Thiruchendur, Pazhamudir cholai, Thirupara kundram and Thiruthhani. All these places are extremely sacred to Muruga.  One can find a treasure of information on these, I am giving a glimpse of the same.

Pazhani: Here is where Murugan chose to reside after he had a rift with his brother over a fruit. Murugan is called Dandayudhapani. He holds a dandam (stick) in his hand and hence the name. Standing as a young boy, this idol was made by a siddar named Bhogar. It is made of nava pashanas and has high medicinal value. The raja alankaram for the lord in indeed a treat to watch. His twinkling eyes, the majestic posture and the crown on his head is a picture that will stay in our hearts for a long, long time.

Pazhamudircholai: Muruga, here is along with two consorts – Valli and devayani. The vibhuti smeared on his face with red smiling lips increases our love and faith in him. He truly says.” Yamirakka Bayam Yen” (Why fear when I am here).

Thirupara Kundram. This is the place where Skanda married Devasena here. He gives his darshan along with his parents, brother, and maama (Lord Narayana).

Thiruchendur: Here is where Lord killed the demon called soorapadman. The temple is a magnificent one with huge pillars and pleasing architecture. This temple in located on the sea shore. As the waves hit the shore and recede, it reminds us that happiness and sadness, success and failure are like waves which keep coming to us and recede. We must be unaffected by them like the ocean.   

We could not visit swamimalai and thiruthani as they were too far for us and could not make it. One striking aspect that I noticed is that all temples I visited were very clean. Though all temples were flooded with people, there were volunteers constantly sweeping and cleaning the place. This was something I have not seen in Tamilnadu temples, earlier. This indeed is a good and welcome change.

The two day trip was coming to an end. I had the opportunity to sing thirupugazh in all the temples we visited. This was a big blessing for me.  Just like how I saw changes outside, I noticed a change within too. Generally, I have always wanted to see more and more, wait to re-visit the temples, crib about the regular grind we would get back to. But this time, I was welcoming the return. I was ready to get back to the Monday blues. No cribs, No complaints. And NO applications of favour too, only thanksgiving. All because of GURU anugraham and Murugan’s grace


Monday, 26 May 2014

Satyagalam and madhyarangam

Temples Less Known To Me

As we were sipping a hot cup of coffee, we saw two temple highlight that were close to shivana samudram. As summer was coming to an end and te grind was to begin, we thought it would be a divine beginning for children and for us.

We decided to have lunch and leave at around 1.30p.m. Satyagalam is around 140 kms from Bangalore. One has to take a right turn at the Maddur circle. A drive into the Kollegal road will take you direct to the temple. As you near Kollegal, you can ask the local people. It is around 50 kms from the Maddur junction.

The deity is the varadarajar perumal along with his consort Perundevi thayar. The specialty of this temple is the presence of Vedanta Desikan sannidhi. He has several compositions to his credit of which the "sri stuti" is very popular.

Legend says that when the muslims were creating atrocities against Hindus in Tamilandu, Vedanta Desikan escaped to this place to sought refuge. Here he found kaveri flowing in full serenity and decided that this was the right place for him. He stayed here for 12.5 years and composed several hymns in praise of the lord. everyday Everyday, a turtle followed him diligently from the river bed,and requested him to take a seat on its back. Desikan refused, but the turtle did not give up. It pleaded with him and when he gave consent, the next day, it turned into a hard shell on which he sat and did penance. In 1936, this turtle rock was brought to the temple and desikan's statue was installed on this stone. This utsava murthi of desikan was installed by his son. There is a beautiful idol of lakshmi narasimhar, and lakshmi hayagriva. This temple is maintained by parakala mutt.

The purohit was extremely courteous. He explained about the temple at length, offered us coffee and made it a refreshing evening. An extremely contented man who boasts of a salary of Rs.6000 per month with accommodation and other facilities. He seemed to be very happy with his job of service, something which most of us crib about. The temple provides a big room where one can stay and go around other temples nearby. But there are no beds or special accommodation. All you get is a room which is spacious and clean. The name of the purohit is Bagavan Battar: 9741617905. You can contact him in advance and inform of your travel plans.

We then drove to madya rangam, where Lord Vishnu is is sleeping posture just like as in shriranga patna. Lord manifested to Gautama rishi in shriranga patna,called adhi ranga, to Indra in Satyagalam, called madyaranga and to vibheeshana in shrirangam, trichy, called as antya ranga. All these places are along the river kaveri. The name of the goddess is ranganayaki thayar. The temple is big and well maintained. There is a beautiful description of the sthala puram of the temple.

There is a temple nearby called someshwara temple where adi sankara has installed the shri chakra. We could not go to this temple as it was too late.

Few tips: One can take the kanapura road too to reach kollegal. But there are no good restaurants in this route. An early departure can help one to cover many temples. The ideal would be to leave in the morning.


Monday, 28 April 2014

Go to Goravanahalli

Travel To Tumkur

It was a long pending trip to goravanahalli mahalakshmi temple. This temple is around 60 kms from Bangalore near Tumkur in otagere taluk. If one leaves at around 2 pm, we can first cover the devarayan durga temple of Lakshmi narasimha and then proceed to goravanahalli.

The road is quite good. One has to take deviation from tumkur road towards otagere road. It was almost 4 pm when we took the otagere road. And one of my friends had told me that the narasimha temple would get closed by 5.30 pm. So, it was like an indo-pak match. "will we make it or not".

We started to chant the vishnu sahasranama with the hope that HE will give us the darshan. Unfortunately, we took a wrong route and had to retrace the path. It was when we reached the foot of the hillock. We hurried up the hill. It is a steep climb of around 150 steps. We could hear the final bell indicating that the temple would be closed soon. With great enthusiasm and hope, we reached the top. It was 5.16 pm when we had the darshan of the Yoga Lakshmi Narasimha. The idol is small . Thayar is seated on Perumal's lap comfortably. He has his had on her shoulders and the other hand is a blessing. Though neivedyam was done, it was not distributed. We were happy athat we finally made. Sorry, a msitake..We didnt make it...HE made it possible.

The entire hill has an army of monkeys freely jumping and enjoying forest life. We drove down to the bhoga lakshmi narasimha swami temple. The posture here is similar to the one we saw atop the hill except that the lord was more relaxed posture. We had a nice kosumari prasadam followed by sweet panakam. There are many small temples around but we didn't have enough time to cover all of them.

We then drove to goravanahalli mahalaksmi temple where thayar sit and attracts huge crowd from all places. I have heard that she is very powerful and any prayer offered will be gratified in 40 days. The Lakshmi is a swayambu murthi installed by Smt. Kamalamma. This lady established the temple after having a series of divine experiences. The utsava murthi is very beautiful and is very well decorated. We had the great opportunity to have the darshan of maha mangalarathi. The temple is open the whole day on tuesdays, fridays, sundays and general holidays. They have anna danam arranged for devotees.

An early depature like 2pm would be sufficient to cover these two temples. If, you want to cover other small temples, you may have to leave early. We returned to bangalore after having a  decent dinner at kamat upachar. It was a great end to the week. Looking forward to the next trip.


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Ramana Calling

A Revisit to the GURU's abode

A 100 thoughts hover around me!! There seems to be a competition among them. “Write me, Write me “ compete my thoughts. I finally took a deep breath and calmed myself. I slowed down my thought process and just forgot that I am going to blog my travelogue. After controlling my thoughts, and streamlining them, I sat down to pen a few lines.

Bharath , a land of brahma Jnanis is probably the most holy land on the earth. No other country has such a huge number of saints who have stepped onto this holy land and made it a spiritual destinations for millions of people irrespective of caste and creed. The contribution that our country has given to this world in a big way is her GURUS and their philosophies.

Lord shiva has 5 mains temples where he manifested as the 5 elements of creation. He represented agni in Thirruvannamalai as Arunachala, vayu in kalahasti as Vayu lingam , Space in Chidambaram as lord nataraja, Water in Trichy as Jambulingeswara and earth in kanchipuram as Ekambareswara. All these places are must see at least once in a lifetime.

Thiruvannamalai is one such place which has given a great GEM in the form of Bhagavan Shri Ramana Maharshi. Not only him, Seshadri swamial, Yogi ramsuratkumar are also from this holy place who have tried to preach love and brotherhood among fellow humans. They have elaborated about Amta Jnana and its importance to a great extent. The world only knows a few but there are several unknown saints and siddars in this place.  When we went to the ramana ashram, it was a wonderful feeling of being one with the lord. 

The main hall in the ashram where Shiva and Shakti are worshiped is a treat to watch. The dedication of the gurukal who does the puja is worth a mention. The garlands that adorn the lord are specially made and are of different lengths so that they can be arranged in a specific way. This gives a majestic look to the lord. The peacocks, the monkeys and the dogs that roam freely in this ashram are indeed blessed that they get to be in the company of satsang always.

The blessing bestowed on Ramana was instantaneous. He had a turning point in his life by which he transformed himself completely. I was just wondering, there are many such saints who have had such turning points in their lives, some incidences which changed their outlook and life drastically. I have read that even some non-believers are initiated and they go on to become great saints or bhaktas. Our lives seem to be going always in a straight line. There doesn't seem to be any turning point. Looks like the wait will be for long. This, was of course in a lighter vein that I was discussing with Sundar. A turning point for us is asking for too much. We must have done a million tons of punyam to feel realised which I am sure is not in our books of deeds. And this is possible by that one omnipresent alone. He must pick us to be so blessed. We must atleast start now so that after a few 100 births, we will feel realised.

The book shop and the library are adorned with numerous books. When we sit to read, the passage of time for a few hours seem to be a few minutes. It does not restrict to Ramana’s teaching alone but has a wide range of books on different philosophies and paths. The Anna danam or free food offered is extremely tasty. One noteworthy act is that anna danam is done everyday. Generally, we have food to our heart full and then give the remaining to the beggars. But here, destitute and beggars are first fed. It is only after them, we are given food. No one is high or low in HIS court.

The Arunachala temple with all its grandeur is a must see. Tamilnadu is known to have big temples. The prakaram, the deities, the gopuram, the temple tank are all huge and gives a sense of fullness when you see them. It also reflects the patronage that spirituality and religion were receiving from the kings who built these temples.

It was time to visit thirukoilur where we had been to the ashram of one more saint: Gnanananda. The ashram is quiet and serene. They too have a lot of rooms which are free. One must stay and spend time in the serenity of the GURU’s teachings.

The Arakandanallur Shiva temple is on a hillock with a cool breeze that beats the summer heat. The name of the swami is Athulanatheswarar and the name of the goddess is Soundaryakamalabikai. One of the popular nayanmars: Sundarar sang in praise of Lord Shiva in this temple. He had a darshan of the Thiruvannamalai hill from this place. Ramana also had been to this temple before venturing to thiruvannamalai.

The Ulagalanda perumal temple in the heart of the town in Thirukoilur is a again a testimony of the support that temples and religion received by the kings of pre independence period. We could not see the main deity as the kumbhabhshekam is scheduled for July 4th. We could see only the presiding deities. This temple is one of the divya desams. The three alwars : Poigi alwar, Boothat Alwar. And Pei Alwar experienced the divine presence in this place and started to sing the divya prabandam. The divya prabandam is a collection of 4000 songs sung by the 12 alwars of the sri vaishnava sect in praise of Lord Vishnu. Time and again we are re-iterated with this tamil saying" katradu kai man alavu, Kallaadadu, Ulagau Alavu.". What is known is only a handful, what is yet to be knows is as big as the world."

It was 10.30pm when we reached the ashram hotel. The next day, we had just planned to spend time in the silence of the ashram. Though the ashram has a continuous stream of visitors, there is always silence. The meditation hall is absolutely calm. You feel totally disconnected with the world. A few minutes of meditation and concentration gives an untold happiness and bliss. “Pin drop silence” is a crude word. I would say “Feather drop silence”. The quietness and the positive vibrations felt at this place is immense and cannot be explained by words.

We left to Bangalore after having a sumptuous and tasty meal. The road from thiruvannamalai to Krishnagiri is pathetic and very badly maintained. It was the positive mood which kept us driving without cribbing.

Few Tips: If you want to avoid the bad road between thiruvannamali and Krishnagiri, you can take the more round path through katpadi. But this add anotehr 90kms t your distance.

If you wish to stay at the ashram and enjoy the serenity, you can write to them one month before your planned date. Write to The stay, food is absolutely free. But I am sure none of us would like to come back without offering anything. The donation that we make is very small compared to the bliss and blessings that we take back.

Of late, I have had the kripa of visiting a number of guru sthalams. It started off with Shirdi last year. I then started reading the teachings of Kanchi MahaPeriva. Then to Ramanashram, Yogi ramsuratkumar’s ashram, visit to the ashram of sheshadri swamigal and to thapovanam, abode of Gnanananda. I hope this anugraham continues. Thus begins the wait for the next call!!!