Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chronicles of a lone blogger - 5

The sempieternal form of the Lingam symbolizes the primordial form of the omni present, omni potent and omniscient formless (arupa) Eternal Creator from which everything merges or dissolves. According to Saiva sidantham (which is based on the doctrine of Pathi (Paramatma), Pasu (Jeevatma) , Paasam (Delusion) ), the Eternal Creator or Pathi is formless (arupa) . But for the sake of the Pasus, he has taken the form of the Lingam which is considered to be both formless and form (arupa-rupa). The Lingam is also called as the Sada Shiva Murthi. Lord Shiva has also taken 25 other forms called the Maheshwara Murthis.

As I see the Lingam, images of past sins inundate me from all sides. As I spread the sacred ash on my forehead, a pellucid picture of my final moments on planet earth flash before my eyes. Besieged by volatile gushes of repentance, newly born droplets of tears trickle down my chin, washing away my sins. As I walk out of the garba-giraham, I make a plethora of resolutions conceiving a new beginning to life - a life that is meaningful. But do I stick to it is a different question :P lol.

As we come out of the garba giraham, we head to the navagrahas which is located on the left hand side. After circumbulating the navagrahas, I head alone to visit my dear friend. My dear friend is none other than a Pillayar statue which is next to the navagrahas.

I always had a soft corner for this particular Pillayar. He has been sitting all alone in complete darkness, deprived of proper robes and food for so many months and wears one old dirty white robe. Inorder to make sure I dont go empty handed, I buy him a ghee lamp. As I light the lamp and give a pat on his thoppai (stomach), I see golden beams of light gently caressing His obscured eyes :).

(The journey continues..)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Chronicles of a lone blogger - 4

As we walk through the inner praharams, what strikes me most is the sereness of the temple. Tiruvanaikaval is one of the very few temples in Tamilnadu that allows me to be in solitude and contemplate on the divine. Except on an auspicious day, you rarely see this temple being crowded. The Tiruvanaikaval temple boasts some of the finest mandapams in Tamilnadu, which includes a 1000 pillar mandapam that resembles a chariot. There is also a 100 pillar mandapam and several other small mandapams.

A temple's metaphysical architectural significance needs mention here. A temple is designed based on the Upanishadic perspective, in which the Eternal soul is analogized to an embryo within a womb. Befittingly thus, this inner sanctum sanctorum is technically known as the garba-graham. A temple's praharams and mandapams through which a devotee passes to reach the inner sanctum or the garba-graham are symbolic. They symbolize the phases of progress in a man’s journey towards divine sanctification. If you notice carefully, the architectural and sculptural details vary as we progress through to the inner sanctum. These architectural details gradually prepare the devotee to face the ultimate truth awaiting in the inner sanctum sanctorum. The mental transition that happens while we progress through to the inner shrine, mirrors the four-phased spiritual evolution envisaged in yoga, namely the waking state, dream state, the state of deep sleep, and finally the highest state of cosmic awareness known as the turiya state.

Before we enter a temple, we bend down and touch the main gateway. This initiates the devotee to start his spiritual transition from his worldly life towards divine beatitude. As we enter the temple, we see sculptures of secular figures on the outer walls. These secular images symbolizes the mortal manifestations of the divinity that is enshrined inside the garba-graham. One such eg., is the sculptures in Khajuraho. These secular images awaken the devotee to a state of mortal existence. This is the waken state. As you proceed, you would see carvings of mythological themes, mythical animals and birds etc. These carvings uplift the devotee from the waken state to the dream state. The foyer before the garba-graham, is restrained in sculptural decorations, and the darkness that prevails suggest the sleeping state. Finally the small garba-graham with no air and light, and devoid of any ornamentation, leads the devotee to a state of semi-tranquility. This state is considered to be the highest achievable state of consciousness, known as the Turiya state. This state of bliss is the pinnacle of all spiritual activity.

With a special entrance fee of Rs 2/- (if I am remember right), we get the privilege of having a private audience with Divinity. The garba graham has no pillars, windows or ventilators. In addition to the metaphysical representation of the dark womb, this shutting of light and air was meant to preserve the icon from the ill effects of weathering.

Inside the garba-graham, lies the primordial form of the Divine, the Lingam, standing in all its perpetual glory.

(The journey continues..)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chronicles of a lone blogger - 3

Standing on the footboard of the bus travelling across the river Kavery, the divine experience of watching the Sun set along the banks of the river Kavery is a sight to behold. When I see the crimson sky, the birds flying back to their nests with a sense of satisfaction and solidarity, the humble coconut trees that never stand straight caressing the river showing gratitude and respect to Mother Nature, a plethora of waves of forlornness deeply embodied in me vanish into thin wisps of oblivion. When the cool breeze caresses me with love, the nascent pores that are deeply embedded in my skin, spring up with ebullient intensity. An experience that needs to be experienced.

The Tiruvanaikaval Jambukeshwarar temple was built by the Chola king Chengot Cholan during the 1st century BC. Chengot Cholan who is also one of the 63 Nayanmars, had already built 70 other Shiva temples all over Tamil Nadu! This temple which was built according to the Saiva Agamas, symbolizes the human body and the idol of Lord Shiva symbolizes the Soul - the eternal entity. There are 5 praharams and I see them as the 5 sheaths or koshas that enclose the Divine Soul - the Atma Linga. (Note: I may be wrong in my assumption :) ).

Built in an area close to 18 acres and measuring 2500 feet by 1500 feet, the temple boasts some of the finests gopurams and mandapams in Tamil Nadu. When Parvati (the goddess and not my dearest blogger :P ) mocked at Lord Shiva’s penance, Lord Shiva got pissed off with her and punished her by ordering her to go to earth! (Is earth so bad? ;) ) Parvati being an ideal wife who follows her husband's orders to perfection (this could be our blogger if she agrees :P) had no other alternative other than to follow her husband's orders, came to Tiruvanaikaval to conduct her penance. Parvati made a Lingam out of the water from the river Kavery beneath the 'Venn Naaval' tree . Thus the Lingam was called as the 'Appu Lingam' (Water Lingam).

The moment we step into the temple, a sense of tranquility sweeps in. As my feet touches the sand filled floor of the temple, the palpitations of my heart grows faster with loads of ardency embodied in my blood. Atrociously known for the extreme mood swings, the very moment I step in, the kama boga thoughts run away from my mind and all that remains is an extreme selfless yearning for the Divine Love of God.

(The journey continues..)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Chronicles of a lone blogger - 2

The Kannadigas' contribution to food is praiseworthy. Right from the Udipi restaurants to the Bangalore Iyengar bakeries - they have been filling my appetite and also clogging my arteries! The Bangalore Iyengar bakery has a history behind it. When Swami Ramanuja migrated to Melkote in Karnataka (where the famous Tirunarayanapuram temple stands), he was accompanied by some Sri vaishanavas. Some of these people migrated to Hassan district in Karnataka. It is told that the Bangalore Iyengar bakery originated from here and spread to every corner in Tamil Nadu. Now who gives a damn about from where it originated, they make some of mouth watering pasteries in town. They offer interesting varieties ranging from butter biscuits, honey cakes, plain sweet cream pastries, dilpasand, dilkush, to my favourite fresh buttery hot spicy mouth watering vegetable puffs (the final nail on my coffin!), spicy vegetable buns and the famous "kick ur a**" kind of toast where the stuffing is made of fried onions, tomatoes, green chillies, chilli powder and turmeric powder. A gourmet's delight! Muthu and I still preferred having a vegetable puff, the mandatory onion/cashewnut pakodas and the aromatic cardamom tea served in small plastic cups.

For a person who was accustomed to eating food for taste rather than filling the stomach, the RECT mess was a big mess! Apart from the morning breakfasts with the famous bread toast and onion fry - I rarely ate lunch and dinner! There were times - where I used to travel 30 kms to Trichy just to have lunch in a restaurant! So choosy! I can never survive on thayir saadhams since I guess I am the only person in Tamil Nadu or perhaps India who hates curd!

Thus my customary trip to the Tiruvanaikaval temple was not only to fill my inner koshas with divine vibrations but also to fill my starved stomach with some proper tasty food. So our mandatory trip to the Bangalore Iyengar bakery was just a starter! This is just a word of caution - so that you assume there is still more to come!

The Kavery river is one of the most important and sacred rivers of India. Kavery originates from a a famous pligrimage spot called the Thalai Kavery which is set amidst Bramahagiri Hills in the district of Karnataka. The Kavery is considered to be the Ganges of the south and is also called as the Dhakshina Ganga. The river forms three islands namely Srirangapatnam and Shivanasamudram in Karnataka and Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. These three islands are famous for their temples of Lord Vishnu in a reclining posture on the seven-headed Athisheshan. These three temples are known as 'Adi Ranga' in Srirangapatnam, 'Madya Ranga' in Shivanasamudram and 'Anthya Ranga' in Srirangam.

There are certain minute things in life that can give you happiness that is unbounded in time and space, and these things have to be experienced. An experience that is unfathomable, something that is divine, an experience that can lead one to a state of divine ecstasy.

(The journey continues...)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chronicles of a lone blogger - 1

As I was listening to one of my all time favourite song "Malai En Vethanai"- from Sethu - it made me retrospect nostalgically about my past - a trip down the memory lane. There are certain moments in life, that I always cherish. These moments would always be close to my heart and whenever I contemplate on those moments, I feel an unprecedented vigor suddenly impregnating my feeble veins. Thus, I have decided to write a series of posts describing some of my happy moments in life, with some interesting facts.

The journey begins...

Some of my happy moments were with Muthu- while doing my BE at REC Trichy. Muthu is a name that is synonymous with happiness. Short in stature, Muthu is one of the most friendliest person I had ever come across. He is a great speaker and describes things passionately. Although being lazy, he could pass the exams by just studying hours (or is it minutes?) before the exams. Me being more lazy, would learn from Muthu while walking to the exam hall. Dont ask me whether I passed the exams or not :P - a tough question to answer! So end of the day both of us never studied - simple as that! We used to be the typical back benchers - and probably the ones who invented the paper chat! Our chat discussions were mainly focussed on what to eat for break/lunch, kulathadi pillayar and the bible- its a secret code (something similar to da vinci code :P) which only muthu and I know (but my fellow bloggers who have read my previous blogs can easily decipher it :) ) and our passion - visiting the great Tiruvanaikaval temple.

Thiruvanaikaval is around 3 Kms away from the heart of Trichy and adjacent to Srirangam. Thiruvanaikaval and Srirangam are in the banks of river Kavery. Literally these two places form an island, surrounded by river Kavery and river Coleroon. As many of you would know, Tiruvanaikaval temple is one of the pancha bhoothas. It symbolizes Water. The other four temples are Kalahasti for wind, the mighty Tiruvanamalai for fire, Kanchipuram for earth and Chidambaram for space. As this temple represents water this is also called as 'Appu sthalam' and the Linga here is called as 'Appu Linga'. Even today you can see water oozing out near the Shivalinga idol in the temple. The goddess of this temple is 'Akilandeswari' and also known as Akilandanyaki. Akilandeswari is pronounced as 'Akilam - Aanda – Eswari' (Akilam – Universe, Aanda – Ruler, Eswari – Goddess) - so basically denoting the Goddess who rules this Universe.

Every saturday evening usually at 4:00 pm, we made it a point to visit Tiruvanaikaval. We used to take the bus from REC to the Chathiram bus stand. Chathiram bus stop is considered to be one of the main bus stops in Trichy. It is the main stop for the famous Uchi Pillayar temple and the main Trichy market. The not so pleasant journey (goes through the market, which is worse than the Koyambedu market) to Chathiram bus stand from REC usually takes 45 minutes. As we get down the Chathiram bus stand, we usually head of to a very important destination. A destination which could give McDonalds, KFCs, Burger Kings a run for their money in terms of the number of branches/franchises/shops! Yes, our first destination is to the famous Bangalore Iyengar bakery!

(The journey continues..)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Sky Is My Master

After a brief hiatus from blogging, I have decided to blog. I have been always fascinated by the beauty of the Sky. My fascination for the sky started at an early age - thanks to Lady Bird and the Bugs Bunny books. The pictures of the beautiful clear sky with glittering stars and pictures of the crimson sky with the birds flying high ignited my veneration for the sky. When I spent hours just starring at the clear sky from my room window - I used to feel waves of unparalleled inveiglement circumvent my persona. The Sky is my Master as it has taught me the most important TRUTH that everything in this life is transitory and nothing is permanent. That's why I have decided to call this new blog of mine as the "Crimson Sky". I hope to start my new journey from today and hopefully my new journey will go uninterrupted....