Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Karthigai!

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

Here's wishing readers of this blog the world over a very happy Karthigai!! May the lights transform darkness into Light.


Here's a picture of the Mahadeepam in Thiruvannamalai taken from their website. Its from the festival in 2005.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some siddha poetry.

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

A couple of verses from the Siddha masters. The first one is from the writings of the siddha called Azhukuni siddar and the second one from the great master ThAyumAnavar.

The first verse speaks about the endless cycle of samsara and the method to overcome the disease of repeated birth and death.

The second verse speaks of the way one's mind is drawn tight by the lust and desire for union with women (spoken from the view of man) and how that creates and maintains bondage. I refrain from translating these verses into English (for the benefit of our non Tamil speaking readers) at this point and also encourage the native Tamil speakers to try and provide their own translation for these verses in the comments section.

This is part of a small experiment I wish to conduct here. I would love to see if the verses of the siddhas come across with their full meaning to all who read it. Or perhaps the verses will mean different things to different people depending on where they are at in terms of their spiritual and emotional maturity. Indulge me!

''பையூரிலே இருந்து பாமூரிலே பிறந்து
மெய்யூரில் போவதற்கு வேதாந்த விதி அரியேன்,
மெய்யூரில் போவதற்கு வேதாந்த வழியறிந்தால்
பையூரும் மையூரும் என் கண்ணம்மா பாழாய் முதியாதோ? ''

- அழுகுணிச் சித்தர்.

''தெட்டிலே வலியமட மாதர்வாய் வெட்டிலே
சிற்றிடையிலே நடையிலே
சேல்ஒத்த விழியிலே! பால்ஒத்த மொழியில்
சிறுபிறை நுதல்கீற்றிலே
பொட்டிலே அவர்கட்டு பட்டிலே புனைகந்த
பொடியொலே அடியிலே ! மேல்
பூரித்த முலையிலே நிற்கின்ற நிலையிலே
புந்தி தனை நுழயவிட்டூ. ''

- தாயுமானவர் .

PS. Small typo on line 6 of the second verse (these online Tamil typing things are confusing to use) . It should be punaigandha - podiyilE - and not podiyOle.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The quest of Brahma and Vishnu - mantra 88

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

In the eighty eighth mantra of the Tirumandiram, the sage sings of the unfathomable glory of the supreme Siva by reminding us of an incident mentioned in the puranas. This 'incident' is one involving the trinity - Brahma,Vishnu and Siva. And is an oft repeated story in India. Though I refrain from going into the entire story in this post, I have tried to give as best an account of it as possible for the benefit of those who have not heard of this legend before.

அடிமுடி காண்பார் அயன்மால் இருவர்
படிகண் டிலர்மீண்டும் பார்மிசைக் கூடி
அடிகண் டிலேன் என்று அச்சுதன் சொல்ல
முடிகண்டேன் என்று அயன் பொய்மொழிந் தானே. 16.5.88.

Baffling Quest Of Brahma And Vishnu
Ayan and Mal, His Head and Foot toiling sought,
Baffled in their quest, again on earth they met;
"I saw not the Foot," Achuth plained,
"The Head I saw," Ayan falsely claimed. 16.5.88.

ComAyan and Mal, His Head and Foot toiling sought The two Gods, namely, Vishnu and Brahma, decided amongst themselves to set out in search of the head and foot of Siva (and thus they sought for years on end), Baffled in their quest, again on earth they met; and after a long and hard quest they had to return to the Earth in vain, without having seen the head or foot (the limits) of Shiva. "I saw not the Foot," Achuth plained, (and, when back on the Earth) Vishnu spoke plainly and truthfully and revealed that he had not seen the foot even after his long and thorough search. "The Head I saw," Ayan falsely claimed. But Brahma made a false claim of having seen the head of Shiva.

* Through the above mantra (and the story that it brings to mind) the sage reveals to us the glory of the Supreme Shiva who is unfathomable by even the gods like Brahma and Vishnu.
The above story is mentioned in the Shiva Puranam (the purana dealing with and extolling the virtues and glory of Shiva) and for those of you unfamiliar with the legend, I will make a brief attempt to portray it here. It is worthy of note that like many many other mythological/religious legends, many versions of the same theme exist in India and a lot depends on 'who' tells the story!

Once the creator Brahma and the preserver Vishnu were caught up in a war of words, each of them was of the view that he was superior to the other. Brahma felt that being the creator he had the more important brief and was thus more powerful to Vishnu. Vishnu on the other hand felt that being the preserver was a more difficult job and thus made him more powerful than the creator. Their battle of words soon turned into a full blown war and before long they were at each other’s neck fighting with a vigour and rage that only those blinded by their own arrogance and ego possess. Soon, all the other gods noticed this and knew that it will not be good for the world if this fight between the two gods continued any further. So (as always) they went to Shiva and sought his help in settling this dispute.

Shiva then assumed the form of a great pillar of fire (light linga) and appeared between the two fighting gods. Seeing this immense shaft of light stunned Brahma and Vishnu and they were quiet for a moment, wondering what such an unknown and mighty force might be. They then heard an asariri ( a disembodied voice) from the sky commanding them to listen. The voice then continued to say that the dispute of which of the two gods were superior to the other, would be settled if one of them was able to ‘see’ the top or the bottom of the pillar of light before them.

At once, it was decided that Brahma would go up (towards the sky) and try to find the head of this pillar of Light (Shiva) and Vishnu would go down (under the earth) to find the foot of Shiva. It was agreed that whoever was able to find the limit (the head or the foot) would be superior to the other. Brahma then assumed the form of a swan and began his journey into the sky. Vishnu on the other hand, assumed the form of Varaha (wild boar) and bored through the earth to descend into the very depths of the world. The two of them went thus on their quest for thousands of years and even still could find no end to the pillar of light (as light has no limit). After proceeding in their quest for so long, the two of them began to tire and realise that the supreme Shiva was indeed greater than either of them. This realisation began to humble their ego and their arrogance.

Vishnu decided to end his search (becoming humbled) and proceed back to the earth. At the same time, Brahma saw a Ketaki (fragrant screw pine – Pandanus Sativa, kewra in hindi and thAzhampu in tamil) flower slowly wafting downwards from the sky. He stopped the flower on its way down and asked it where it was coming from. On being questioned by the creator, the flower replied that it had been placed at the top of the pillar of fire as an offering by a devotee and had fallen from there. Unable to find the head of the pillar, Brahma decided to end his search and instead use the ketaki flower as evidence of him having reached the head.

Both Brahma and Vishnu came back to the earth in the end and when asked, Vishnu replied truthfully that he had been unable to find the feet of the fiery pillar even after a very long search going to the very ends of the universe. Brahma on the other hand (to prove his superiority over Vishnu) lied by saying that he had in fact reached the head of the pillar of fire and that he had brought the ketaki flower from the top as proof of having reached there. This false claim angered Shiva and he revealed his true form and then cursed Brahma that he would have no temple dedicated to his worship as he was undeserving (as a result of his falsity) and he also cursed the ketaki flower that henceforth she shall not be used in the worship of Shiva (as she had given false testimony when questioned). Thus through his manifestation as a fiery pillar of endless light, Shiva quelled the arrogance of Brahma and Vishnu and revealed to them (and us) their place in the pecking order!

Splendour of the Tamil agama - mantra 87

Sri gurubhyo namaha.

In this the eighty seventh mantra of the Thirumandiram, the sage impresses on us the readers the deep significance of the Thirumandiram to the peoples of the world. He also makes evident the truth that the Tirumandiram was a work ordained by the supreme Siva to ensure the continuity of the human race by revealing high truths and the workings of the body, mind, soul, universes etc.

அங்கிமி காமைவைத் தானுடல் வைத்தான்
எங்குமி காமைவைத் தான்உலகு ஏழையும்
தங்குமி காமைவைத் தான் தமிழ்ச் சாத்திரம்
பொங்கிமி காமைவைத் தான்பொருள் தானுமே. 15.5.87.

Splendour Of Tamil Agamas
In Himself He contained the glowing Fire,
In Himself the Seven Worlds, and yet all space not filling
He contained too the Tamil Sastra, in lone splendour set,
Pregnant of import, deep yet recondite. 15.5.87

ComIn Himself He contained the glowing Fire The Lord who created this body, kept the (Agni) Fire in the body in a contained state (that is, in a regulated state rather than an excessive fire). In Himself the Seven Worlds, and yet all space not filling He also placed the (Agni) Fire in the world in a regulated state to ensure the undisturbed continuity of the seven worlds (Bhuloka &c). He contained too the Tamil Sastra, in lone splendour set He created (in a regulated and contained manner) the Tamil Agama called Thirumandiram, in order to avoid confusion. Pregnant of import, deep yet recondite He ensured that all knowledge would be contained in the Thirumandiram.

* The fire in the body refers to the Shadaraagni which strengthens the intestines and ensures the continuity of the body. The fire in the world refers to the Vadavamugagni, which is set in the midst of the oceans to ensure that the water does not overwhelm the earth and the other worlds. Through the above mantra the author conveys that Siva ensured the composition of the Thirumandiram with a view to protect and preserve life and the world – by comparing the composition of Thirumandiram with the two great acts (of placing the two fires) of Siva in order to protect and preserve the world and the jivas in it.