Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sembanar Koil

The place where Indra performed pooja to secure the Vajra Yudha

Located just under 10kms from Mayiladuthurai on the Thiru Kadaiyur highway is the ancient Swarnapureeswarar temple in Sembanar Koil, one that has been praised by Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Thirunavukkarasarar

Thiru Gnana Sambanthar in his praise of the Lord of Sembanar Koil says that those who offer their sincere prayers will be kept away from miseries of life. He also describes the fiery features of the Lord.

This is one of the Veerateswarar temples.

On the pillars of the temple are several sculptures including those of a King, his wife, his ministers and of Bikshandar. There are still a number of inscriptions inside the temple dating back a 1000 years.
It was here at this place that Indra performed pooja invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva to secure the dreaded Vajra Yudha in a bid to demolish Vridasura. It was also here that Muruga invoked the Lord’s blessings in his endeavour to kill Tharakasura.

Brahmma’s son Daksha failed to invite Lord Shiva to a yagna. An angry Shiva presented Veerabadrar to nullify the yagna. Dakshayani, the daughter of Daksha undertook penance to seek the blessings of Shiva and an apology on behalf of her father.

Sage Agastya, Indra, Brahmma, Surya and Chandra performed pooja at this place.

Lord Swarnapureeswarar is seen in an East facing posture while Ambal is seen facing the West.

Chitrai Festival- Sun’s rays fall on the Lord for 10 days from the 7th day
There was a grand Brahmotsavam that took place in Aani once upon a time. But over a period of time, this had come to a halt, though to this day, we find a number of vahanas inside the temple.

Abhishekam for Sugantha Ambikambal on Aadi Pooram
Theerthavari on Thai Poosam
One day procession in Navarathri

How to reach
One can board the bus towards Thiru Kadaiyur/ Karaikal. The temple is a few minutes away from the Sembanar Koil bus stand. An auto from Mayiladurthurai will cost Rs. 250.

The temple is open from 730am to 12noon and from 430pm to 830pm. Contact Muthu Kumar Gurukal @ 99437 97974

Saturday, February 11, 2017

IOB honours Ananthapadmanabhan

A Memorable Day in Ananthapadmanabhan's career
Becomes First Cricketer from the Bank to be honoured on the Founder's Day
'Great Gesture by the Bank to felicitate Ananth' - V Krishnaswamy (former GM, IOB/ TN Opener)
Ananthapadmanbhan being felicitated by R Subramania Kumar, MD and CEO, IOB

It was late evening on Monday (Feb 6).  Former Kerala Ranji leg spinner and now a top BCCI umpire (he umpired this year's Ranji Semi Final), KN Ananthapadmanabhan (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/09/ananthapadmanabhan-kn.html), an IOB staffer for almost 25 years was ready to hit the bed for there was a coin counting exercise at the Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2009/11/anantha-padmanabhaswamy-temple-in.html) the next morning.

He had heard of K Parthasarathy, GM (Treasury) and Head HR, IOB as being a strict disciplinarian and tough on implementation of rules and hence a call from the head quarters in Madras made him a little tense but by the end of the call, Ananthapadmanabhan had been left speechless and stunned.

Parthasarathy's call was to inform him that he had been chosen exclusively as the only cricketer in the last many decades to be officially felicitated by the Bank’s MD on the occasion of the founder's day celebrations for his tireless contribution to the bank's cricket as well as his recent achievements in Umpiring.

Cricketers from the era gone by here in Tamil Nadu considered it a great achievement to be noticed and recognised by their institution. To them, receiving a praise from the Chief in their organization meant a lot more than financial incentives. 

B. Kalyanasudaram, former TN fast bowling great, always considered it an honour to be playing for Chemplast watched from the sidelines by his chairman KS Narayanan. The motivation to perform in front of them was huge. He was once told by the chairman to go and play a Buchi Babu match citing that Kalli only had an injury in the left hand where as he was a right arm fast bowler!!!! And Kalli duly obliged… and in fact contributed to the success (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2013/07/cricket-in-1970s-ks-narayanan-packs-off.html).

Ananthapadmanabhan belongs to the same school of thought. For the MD of such a large Public Sector Bank that has been renowned for several decades for promoting cricket to be personally felicitating him and for him to be the first such recipient on the founder's day made it a memorable evening for him. 

Interestingly, Ananthapadmanabhan joined IOB in the early 1990s from Chemplast after being spotted and identified by former IOB great V. Krishnaswamy  (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/08/krishnaswamy-v.html).

Since then, he played first division league cricket for IOB for around 15 years amassing a tally of around 500 wickets in the Palayampatti Championship. He also captained IOB for 6 years during this period, a phase when IOB did particularly well in the league.

On the idea of honouring Ananthapadmanabhan, Parthasarathy, who himself was a cricketer in the 1970s and 80s said ‘He has made a significant contribution to the bank over the last two decades both with his personal achievements as well as bringing the team together, especially in the 2nd half of the 1990s. We felt that he deserves this honour and that it would be befitting for our MD to felicitate him on the 80th foundation day of the bank.’

Former TN Ranji opener V Krishnaswamy, who retired as the GM of IOB a few years ago is credited with mentoring many youngsters at the bank from the late 1970s and was instrumental in roping in Ananthapadmanabhan into IOB. He commended this new initiative to officially felicitate sportsmen from the bank, something that did not exist during his playing days.
‘I think it is a great gesture on the part of the bank in felicitating K N Ananthapadmanabhan for his cricket contribution to the bank. It is not just a recognition of his cricket abilities but also his umpiring skills as he is one of leading first class umpires in the country now.’

 'Through the 1990s, Ananthapadmanabhan was a great source of inspiration and leader of the team. He was very hard working and bowled long continuous spells. He brought in lot of youngsters into the team and helped them develop. He developed very good relationship with players like Amit Pathak, Rajesh Kannan and Subbiah among others. He has contributed immensely to the team and was to a good extent responsible for IOB being one of the leading teams in TN cricket by the turn of this century.'

His batting against MRF 
Recollecting a particular performance of Ananthapadmanabhan on a matting wicket at the Anna University ground, Krishnaswamy says ‘I vividly remember that match against Globe Trotters comprising of top fast bowlers from the MRF Pace Foundation as it showed the value of Ananth to the team and the confidence others had in his abilities.'

'After having taken 4 or 5 wickets with the ball, Ananthapadmanabhan was promoted in the batting order by his captain S Satish Kumar (Ramar Satish) ahead of 1-2 pure batsmen after IOB was tottering at 4 wickets down. Reposing his captain's faith in his batting abilities, Ananth batted with grit and determination and put on a century partnership with Satish against quality pacers on that matting wicket to ensure first innings lead for IOB.'

In fact, he credits some of those early batting performances for IOB for the big centuries that he scored later for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy.

Welcoming Ananthapadmanabhan at the 80th founder’s day celebrations, Parthasarathy said, ‘Ananthapadmanabhan made a big career jump in the early 1990s as a youngster and took a bold call to join IOB from a top cricketing club such as Chemplast. Since then, his contribution to our cricketing team has been immense. He has also now become a top umpire of the BCCI. We wish him well with his umpiring career and we hope that he will soon make the bank proud by becoming an international umpire.’   
On being felicitated personally by the bank’s MD in front of a large audience that comprised of the bank’s top many decades old customers, industrialists from the city and Dr. V. Shantha, the chief of the Cancer institute, a delighted Ananthapadmanabhan told prtraveller 

‘It is really a great honour to be recognized by my institution for my cricketing contribution. This ranks as one of my best moments in cricket, especially since this has come almost a decade after I stopped playing. In my early days as a cricketer, Kicha Sir used to call me and convey his appreciation after every special performance. That really boosted my confidence and spurred me on to the next level. Similarly, Parthasarathy Sir appreciating my umpiring and wishing me to become an international umpire is a great confidence boost coming as it does from a well respected person in the management.’

KN Ananthapadmanabhan was felicitated by R Subramania Kumar, MD and CEO, IOB at the 80th Founder's Day on Friday ( Feb 10, 2017) evening held at Vidhyodhaya School in T. Nagar.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Irai Anbu Kalloori Kalangal touches 450 episodes

A rank holder in Civil Services Examination from the mid 1980s, Irai Anbu has remained steadfast in his commitment to continued contribution to the society

From his transformational achievements in Nagapattinam, Kanchipuram and during Tsunami, since mid 2015, he has been engaged in selfless service of helping students take the right steps during the critical phase of college life through 'Kalloori Kalangal' every weeknight at 10. 30 pm
V. Irai Anbu (IAS) (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2015/09/irai-anbu-ias_19.html) anchored Kalloori Kalangai is touching 450 episodes this week on Pothigai Channel.  It is probably the most educative series that has ever been run on a Tamil Television network. Over the last 1 ½ years, he has moved on from presenting some of the basic and important facets of a college life to now providing intellectually stimulating insights into the preparation for a competitive examination.

His simplicity and modesty of presentation is breathtaking.  Rarely have we found a top notch official from Tamil Nadu spend this amount of time in an endeavour to reach out and guide the Next Gen with a step by step process to approaching a competitive examination .

Learning never stops is an oft repeated phrase. Irai Anbu is an embodiment of this as he moves from one degree to another, what he calls an enriching experience to expand one’s horizon. Irai Anbu refers to himself as a pilgrim in the path of knowledge. After entry into the service, he has completed M.B.A., M.A. (English), M.A. (Labour Management), M.Sc. (Psychology), Ph.D. (Business Administration), Ph.D. (English) and Post Doctorate (Management). He has also done his Praveen in Hindi and Kovidaha in Sanskrit.

Even at work he uses the same analogy ‘One has to move from one department to another every few years to understand and experience the varied challenges in life so as to contribute to the society in a positive manner’ is his message on Kalloori Kalangal.

In a way, the students of the newgen are truly blessed that in recent years Irai Anbu has not been assigned an important portfolio on the work front, after having contributed to significant transformational causes across Tamil Nadu during the 1990s as well as in the first decade of this century.  This blessing in disguise has meant that he has been able to allocate enough time to share his experiences with the students on various forums including the record breaking series on Pothigai TV.

It is particularly enlightening when he talks about his own missed opportunities and his delayed entry into the IAS during that phase in the mid 80s. His suggestions to the new college entrants who have an eye on the competitive exam are simple and easily to follow and implement. In recent months, he has also added a Q & A with the students as part of Kalloori Kalangal making it even more rewarding for the students. 

Sometimes he rolls out verses from the Thiru Kural and the Dharmic philosophies enshrined therein. At other times, he goes into history and talks about the contribution of Indus Valley Civilisation and the kind of intense contribution to the society even during those early times. 

A state first in TN in the civil services examination, Irai Anbu has worked in the Government for nearly 30 years in close association with the rural poor while espousing their cause. Right from the beginning of his career, he has been known for his honesty and integrity. He introduced training for women auto drivers for the first time in the State extending credit facilities through banks for the purchase of vehicles after the training. As District Collector, Kanchipuram, he took an active part in abolishing child labour engaged in silk looms.
He has addressed 2000 gatherings in an attempt to motivate students on social causes. His book on preparation for Civil Services is a must read, one that gives impetus to students looking to take on the competitive examinations. An author of over 50 books, he has personally guided 100s of candidates in the process of gaining entry into civil services. Over 50 of them have gone on to achieve their doctorate.

Kalloori Kalangal is truly a boon to the college students on not just taking up the competitive examinations but also on the right way to lead life, especially during the teenage phase.

Kudos to Irai Anbu for his significant selfless contribution to the student community and for being a guiding light in their endeavour to achieving success in life.

Kalloori Kalangal is telecast every weeknight between 10.30pm and 11pm

Friday, February 3, 2017

Chaya Vaneswarar Chayavanam

Mada Koil built by Ko Chenganan Chozhan
The idol of Lord Muruga is similar to the one at Tiruchendur
A separate Sannidhi for Indra at this temple 

Located 3kms West of Poompuhar is the Thiru Gnana Sambanthar and Thirunavukarasar praised Chaya Vaneswarar temple in Chayavanam. This temple is just ½ km West of Pallaveswarar temple in Poompuhar (another Thevaram temple). This is one of the Mada Koil built by Ko Chenganan Chozhan.

The legend
This is the birth place of Iyarpai Nayanar, one of the 63 Nayanmars. Both he and his wife were true Saivite devotees. Iyarpai was known to follow the path of Dharma and he would never say no to a request. To test the sincerity of their devotion, Lord Shiva made his to their house disguised as a Brahmin devotee. As was the practice in those days, the host was to take care of the guests in the best possible way.

At the end of the trip, the devotee made a shocking request of sending Iyarpai Nayanar’s wife along with him. Bound by the duty of offering a guest’s wish, Iyarpai Nayanar acceded to the request and his wife followed the devotee away from the town. Worried that the residents of the agraharam may attack the outside guest, the disguised Brahmin asked Iyarpai Nayanar to accompany them till the end of the town. 

In a grand gesture, Iyarpagai calmed the people down stating that he had given his word to the guest and that they have to help him fulfill the promise that had been given.

On his return to Chayavanam, Iyarpai Nayanar was delighted to find Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi providing darshan at his place and showcasing to the world as to how the God rewards his true devotees. In a rewarding gesture, Iyarpai Nayanar and his wife were taken to the abode of the Lord and thus he attained Mukthi at this place.

Idol of Muruga
A special feature at this temple is the handsome idol of Lord Muruga who is a posture similar to the one at Tiruchendur as a Samhara Idol with a bow in hand and wearing anklet in the leg. It is believed that this idol was located on the sea shore at Poompuhar a few kms from here.

A separate sannidhi for Indra
Athithi, mother of Indira was keen on having darshan of Lord Chaya Vaneswarar. Startled at her sudden vanishing act, he came here and performed pooja. To fulfill his mother’s wish, Indra tried to pull the temple away to his abode through his strong elephant Iravatham. While in this process, Ambal presented a beautiful song with the words ‘Koo hoo’. Lord suggested to him that it would not be possible for him to come there and that he will bless him with a special sannidhi here at this temple for him to be ever present here providing darshan to devotees.

97 year old Balasubramanian Shivacharya had performed pooja at this temple for over 70 years. In 1977, his hand was almost broken into two following an injury but he still continued to perform pooja for many years in a devoted manner. His sincerity was such that he came to be called as ‘Jilla’ Gurukal.

Rudra Abhishekam on the last Friday of Thai
21 day festival for Indra in Chitrai
5 day Iyarpagai Nayanar festival in Margazhi

On the fourth day of this festival, the episode of Lord Chaya Vaneswarar providing darshan to Iyarpagai Nayanar is enacted at this temple.

Temple Time: 9am -12noon and 430pm-8pm
Contact Chandrasekara Gurukal @ 94431 07069 

How to reach
The temple is on the district highway 20kms from both Mayiladuthurai and Sirkazhi. Poompuhar bound buses ply every 30 minutes from Mayiladuthurai and Sirkazhi. Get down in front of the temple arch at Chayavanam.

Kethu Sthalam of Keezha Perumpallam is about 2 kms from here

Auto from Poompuhar will cost Rs. 75. Contact Auto: 91596 04647

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Keezha Perum Pallam

A temple for liberation from Kethu Dosham

Located 2kms from Poompuhar is the Naganatha Swamy temple in Keezha Perum Pallam, a temple dedicated to the liberation from Kethu Dosham 
When the nectar was being distributed by Lord Vishnu in the beautiful Mohini form, the love intoxicated asuras lost in her beauty forgot the urgency to collect the nectar that would have made them invincible.

Kethu, who was born an asura, disguised himself as a Deva and standing between the Sun and the Moon, tried to collect the nectar from the Lord. Realising this trick, the Lord hit out at the asura whose head was severed from the body. Instantly the head was transformed into the body of a snake
(Rahu) and the body of the asura turned into the serpent hood (Kethu).

Following severe penance invoking the blessings of the Lord to liberate from the dosham, Rahu and Kethu were added to the planetary system as the 8th and 9th planets.

While the nectar was being churned, Vasuki the serpent was used as a rope in the churning process. Undergoing the physical pain of the churning, Vasuki tried to spur the poison only to be thrown far away. As a safeguard, Lord Shiva tried to swallow the poison that was then prevented by Parvathi.

Realising her folly of making Lord Shiva swallow the poison, Vasuki invoked his blessings and pleaded for forgiveness here at this place. She requested the Lord to provide darshan as Naga Nathan and to liberate devotees offering sincere prayers at this temple to be liberated from Kethu Dosham. 
Kethu is seen in a standing posture facing the West with the five hooded serpent over the head.

How to reach
Keezha Perum Pallam is around 20kms from Mayiladuthurai and Sirkazhi. Buses ply every half hour to Poompuhar starting from 4.30 am. From Thiru Makulam bus stop, an auto will cost Rs. 50/- (1 km South).

The temple is open between 6 am and 12 noon and between 4 pm and 9 pm. Contact Gurukal @ 95004 16171.

Auto from Pumpoohar/Thiru Makulam @ 91596 04647

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Aniruda Srikkanth T20 Selection

Overrated 'Under Performer'
 Despite an ordinary season in TNPL and First Division cricket and below par performance for the state over several years, Aniruda finds a place in the TN T20 squad

Questionable selection has once again come to the fore in Tamil Nadu cricket. Aniruda S, son of former India cricketer and former Chairman of Selectors, K Srikkanth who has a dashing style of stroke play similar to his father has been chosen in the squad for the Inter State T20 tournament ahead of several other promising and performing cricketers.

Aniruda has done nothing of repute to warrant the selection in terms of performance. In the TNPL just a few months back, he scored just over a 100 runs in 7 matches clocking an average of just 15. In the first division cricket too, he has done very little this season scoring just over 200 runs in 6 matches.

Over the last decade, while he has always been spoken around as one with quite a lot of talent with an ability to play dashing cricket, he has for long not utilized the chances provided to him at the state level.

It is okay to provide opportunities for a while based on potential, but not for several years when performance has no where matched the potential. Would any one remember him winning matches for the state in the shorter version or have there been consistent performance in any year in any form of the game over the last 5 years or so. And he isn't getting any younger. For how long, would you select a player based on 'talent' and 'striking ability'.

He has of course shown a glimpse of his natural talent every now and then with some breezy knocks but really that does not justify this selection.

He has for sometime been less of an asset on the field with his fitness levels not where it needs to be for the grueling T 20 game. His running between the wickets is shaky.

Yes with his natural talent and his dashing outlook, he has had the potential to win matches but if that has not materialized over a long period of time in terms of performance and if the recent form has been nothing to write home about, one cannot justify such selection especially when the TNPL has ‘supposedly’ unearthed talent for this form of the game.

Chairman of Selection Committee S Sharath says that it was a joint decision by the selection committee and that the coach and the majority of the selection team were keen on having him after seeing him in the practice sessions and were impressed with his striking ability as compared to the other options, almost giving an indication that he himself may not have been in favour, for over the last couple of years he has clearly moved in the direction of choosing younger players in the Ranji squad in an effort to try and create a long term path for the State.

It is quite possible that Aniruda Srikkanth will prove this story wrong and will win matches for Tamil Nadu this season and it may yet turn out to be his best season for the State in T20.

Despite all of these possibilities, he has really been given a long rope for too a long a time at the state level without justifiable performance matching his selection. The previous selection committee under B Kalyanasundaram picked him for the T20 tournament. And now the current committee under S Sharath too has backed Aniruda, who will be turning 30 in a few months, for his ‘dashing’ potential leaving one wondering as to how someone can be picked for ‘potential’ for this long a period.

While the younger talent have shot into prominence in the longer format and have showcased themselves well this year, the choice of picking Aniruda, without any scores this season to back him, is a backward step in the wrong direction.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

HR & CE Irregularities

Parthasarathy Temple has been functioning without Trustees – The EO also doubles up as the ‘Fit Person’

No letter on the appointment of EOs at Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswarar Temple where too the EO plays the conflicting dual role of a Fit Person 
Large Truck Movement in front of Nachiyar Koil Divya Desam poses a risk to the structure, while the proposed new Raja Gopuram at Thiru Vellarai will come up shortly before the Panel of Experts appointed by the Madras HC
Former Citibank staffer TR Ramesh, now President of the Temple Worshippers Society has committed himself to full time service of restoring the ancient temples in Tamil Nadu to its old glory and is taking on the HR & CE on several irregularities at ancient temples in Tamil Nadu including the issue of renovation in temples that has posed challenges on many fronts over the last few decades.

Traditionally the trustees managed the entire affairs of ancient temples in Tamil Nadu. And then into the later period of the 1st half of the 20th Century, with Government taking over the administration of temples, Executive Officers were appointed to take care of the daily functioning of temples. Many of these large temples were categorised as ‘Notified Temples’, a decade before independence (The Rama temple in Vaduvur was one such Notified temple and the 5000 acres associated with the temple has now come down to 50 acres)

Irregularities in Appointment of Executive Officers?
In a letter dated 23rd April 1968 (a copy of which is available with me), the Commissioner had written (to the EO of an ancient Divya Desam) stating that the notification relating to temples ceased to be in force from 15 July 1966 (it had actually ceased in 1965 but was extended by a year) with reference to Section 75A of the HR & CE act 1959, as amended by the Madras Act 16 of 1965.

He stated in that letter that the powers and duties of the EO as defined in the commissioner’s orders dated 8 January 1953 were not in force now. And that the EO of the temples have to now be appointed as per Sec 45 of the HR & CE Act and the powers and duties of the EO and the trustees were now defined in Commissioner’s D. Dis dated 29 June 1966.

The commissioner states in that detailed letter of April’68 that the Executive Officer shall draw up a rough estimate of the probable disbursements and expenses to be made and incurred and obtain the previous sanction of the trustees for the same. The Executive Officer shall be responsible for the proper maintenance of all records, accounts and registers and for the due submission to the trustees under Act. He also states in the letter that all the employees shall be subject to the disciplinary control of the trustees under section 56 of the Act.

‘Fit Person’ in a Temple - Conflict over the dual role
Any large expense relating to the temple that goes out from the income of the temple has to be processed through the trustees. Where there are no trustees, for any reason, the Government appoints a ‘Fit Person’ for an interim period to play the role of the trustees.

The petitioner in the suo moto case (relating to restoration and preservation of ancient temples) in the Madras High Court has written a letter recently to the Amicus Curaie Shri. PS Raman bringing to his notice that the Fit Persons who are functioning in Temples in lieu of the Board of Trustees are to be appointed for only an interim period.

G.Os 223 and 264 ((v) and (vi) of Part II above) state that the Fit Persons are to be appointed as an interim arrangement to perform ‘operation of bank accounts, daily poojas, abhisheka, endowments, festival expenses, employee salaries and the like.’

The ‘Fit Person’ cannot take major decisions relating to Renovations, Kumbabishekams etc. Further the interim period of appointment of Fit Persons is limited to a maximum of 3 months as prescribed by the ‘Functioning of the Board of Trustee Rules’. The powers to manage the funds and to approve disbursal of funds for festival expenses, repairs and restoration efforts remained with the trustees.

Parthasarathy Temple – Big External disbursements approved by ‘Fit Person’
In the Parthasarathy temple in Thiruvallikeni, Ramesh says that there have been no trustees for 40 years and the EO plays the ‘conflicting’ dual role of both the EO/DC and the Fit Person, creating an inherent conflict of interest and a bias. Thus the person placing the request for funds (the EO) and the person approving and authorising such requests (the Fit Person) are one and the same in this temple!!!!

In an application placed under the RTI act, an exclusive copy of which is available with me, it has been seen that over a period of 5 years, the Parthasarathy temple has disbursed a significant amount of funds for non-temple / non-devotee related purposes. Some of these include over Rs. 10lakhs disbursed for the construction of a conference room in the Commissioner’s office at the HR & CE headquarters in Madras and Rs. 5lakhs for private exhibitions conducted in the city. Ramesh is of the view that such authorisation would have been unlikely had there been independent trustees in place at the temple.

Thiruvannamalai Temple
Similar is the case at the Arunachaleswarar temple in Thiruvannamalai. In a RTI reply, the temple has stated that there is no copy of the appointment order of EO subsequent to 1953, though being a notified temple, there should have been an EO appointment made in or subsequent to 1966 after the earlier notification had ceased to exist.

When trustees themselves are appointed for a period of two years, how can a ‘Fit Person’ (who is an interim replacement of a trustee) stay in office for years together and act in this dual role both at Thiruvallikeni and Thiruvannamalai.

In several of the high profile notified temples in Tamil Nadu, there have been no copies of the appointment order of the Executive Officer.

Despite a number of irregularities there, the Kumbabhishekam has been slated for February 6.

PIL in Madras HC shortly
He is planning to file a PIL at the Madras High Court within the next fortnight on issues relating to extended stint of Fit Persons, among other irregularities.

EOs cannot authorise Renovation Funding
In relation to repair / restoration / renovation works (commonly understood as works leading up to the Samprokshanam/Kumbabhishekam), it is only the Trustees of temples who have the powers under the Rules to take up any civil work. The Executive Officers have been given no powers concerning such restoration/renovation works.  Also, it is only the Trustee or Board of Trustees who have the authority to spend the funds of the temple.  The Executive Officers cannot decide, initiate or authorise spending of funds at temples.

Ramesh is also taking up cases of such irregularities that have been seen in many ancient temples in Tamil Nadu of late.

New Raja Gopuram at Thiru Vellarai?
As per the rules, the temple buildings and premises shall not be used for purposes not connected with or arising from the worship, usages and observations of such temples.  No executive authority of a temple shall be entitled to introduce innovations concerning the time, place or mode of worship in the temple which might pre-judicially affect the rights and facilities which worshippers had generally exercised before 13th May, 1947.

Ramesh is of the view that annadhana halls and new sannadhis built should be carefully removed from all those temples that are now applying before the Committee of Experts for undertaking repairs and renovation works.

In his letter to the Amicus Curiae ( PS Raman), Ramesh has pleaded with him to direct the panel to ensure that no civil work that lacks the legal sanction and the heritage propriety is approved for execution in ancient heritage temples of Tamil Nadu so as to not cause damage to the aesthetic and archeological significance of such ancient heritage temples.

One such temple that is currently before the panel of experts appointed by the Madras High Court is the Pundarikakshan Divya Desam in Thiruvellarai (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/10/thiru-vellarai-divya-desam.html) where a new 7 Tier Raja Gopuram is sought to be constructed at the Northern entrance. 

I am in possession of a over 100 page booklet brought out by the temple showcasing structural strength of the proposed Raja Gopuram, among meeting other requirements. 

The temple authorities including the priests have come up with a document that endorses the view that this is in conformity with the Pancharatra Agama and are likely to place this proposition before the Panel.

Another view is that this is an incomplete structure - one of the many during the period of the Rayas-  that may have been halted in the middle for any of the 'unknown' scenarios prevailing at that time and that it should be seen through to its logical conclusion if it conforms to the  Agama requirement and if all the architectural, archeological and structural mandates are fulfilled for a half complete, unfinished Gopuram at the entrance is seen as inauspicious.

One will have to wait and watch as to how the panel of experts appointed to look into such issues view the proposed new construction when it comes up for discussion, possibly sometime next month.

Large Trucks in front of Nachiyar Koil Divya Desam
In Nachiyar Koil Divya Desam, large trucks carrying heavy duty equipments are constantly seen passing on the district highway adjacent to the Eastern Raja Gopuram. As one stands at the entrance of the Raja Gopuram, one can hear and feel a mild tremor at the time of such large trucks passing in front of the Raja Gopuram.

It is important to restrict the movement of such large trucks and heavy vehicles so as to not cause long term damage to the structure of the temple.  Typically, there are restrictions place on such movement in any ancient historical temples and one does not usually find heavy duty trucks passing frequently in front of or near Divya Desams. However, given its location, large trucks in recent times have been making their way (from Thiruvarur) right in front of Nachiyar Koil Divya Desam and this will pose a threat to the structure of the temple (over the last decade, this road has been made a one way and hence the buses and large vehicles coming from Kumbakonam towards Thiruvarur do not pass through the temple and take a small de-tour).

The HR & CE officials may have to communicate to the transport department on the challenges to the temple arising on account of heavy trucks plying past this ancient Mani Mada Koil built by Ko Chenganan Chozhan and accordingly redirect such trucks ahead of the Divya Desam on the Southern side.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Vedantha Desikar Mahaveera Vaibhavam

In the first twenty of 94 Churnikas, Desikar showcases the valour of Lord Rama in his teenage phase

Taking up the challenges of King Janaka and Sage Parasurama, Rama showed his extraordinary strength in the art of weaponry and a preview of what he was capable of

(This series on Vedanta Desikar’s Mahaveera Vaibhavam is inspired by Shri. TE Madhavan, a IIT Madras Research Scholar and a Theerthakar who presented a brilliant devotional rendering of this hymn in a fast paced style at the Madurantakam Eri Kaatha Rama Temple)

In the concluding decad of the Perumal Thirumozhi, Kulasekara Azhvaar captured the entire story of the Ramayana in just those ten verses (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2017/01/kulasekara-azhvaar-thiru-chitrakoodam.html)

Centuries later Vedanta Desikar through the unique Gadyam style presentation in the Mahaveera Vaibhavam showcases the valourous acts of Rama highlighting his dharmic deeds through the different phases of his life and how he always protected the true devotees.

To the devotees, Desikar says that reciting the Mahaveera vaibhavam in a sincere and devoted way will give them a lot of confidence and courage towards leading a dharmic life and fighting the evil forces.

Unlike the story of Krishnan, especially as seen through the verses of Periyazhvaar, where multiple cantos were dedicated to his childhood, the story of Ramayana is very different with minimal insights into the childhood of Rama. Only a few verses are dedicated to the childhood of Rama and even that to the greatness of his birth and not to any activities as a child. It is only after Rama is into his teens that Vedanta Desikar begins describing his valourous acts.

It was in Thiruvahindrapuram (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2008/03/thiruvahindrapuram-devanathan_29.html)  that Vedanta Desikar composed the  devotional hymns of Mahavira Vaibhavam dedicated to the valour of Lord Rama after invoking the blessings of Hayagriva. Through the 94 prosaic verses (Churnikas), Desikar extols the valour of Rama providing relevant examples in each phase of his life as endorsement of his valour that was exhibited as part of upholding the dharmic principles of life.

Birth in the Solar Dynasty
Vedanta Desikar begins his Mahaveea Vaibhavam presentation providing one insights into the purpose of his advent into this world. Just like the Sun that rises in the morning to dispel the darkness of the night Lord Rama took birth to put an end to the miseries of the people and to showcase the principles of Dharma.
ஜயத்தியாச்ரித சண்ட்ராச தவாந்த வித்வன்சனோதயஹா
பிரபாவான் சீதையா தேவ்யா பரமவ்யோம பாஸ்கரஹ

With Ravana creating havoc with his arrogance arising out of the immortality boon given by Brahma, Lord Vishnu answering the prayers of the Devas agreed to be born as Rama, the son of King Dasaratha who was performing a yagna seeking a son.

தஷவதன  தமித தைவித பரிஷதப்யர்த்தித தாக்ஷரதி பாவ

Dispelling the miseries of True Devotees
In the 6th verse, Desikar once again makes a comparison of Rama to the glorious rays of the bright sun and praises him as enhancing the glory of the solar dynasty. Sun is a special God as he illuminates the sky with his shining glory. Similarly to be born in the Solar Dynasty was an indication that he had come to dispel the darkness caused by the harassment of Ravana.
தினகர குல கமல திவாகர

The story of how Rama cleaned up King Dasaratha’s debts
திவிஷததிபதி ரண சஹசரணசதுர தஷ்ரத சரம ருண விமோசன

For long King Dasaratha had been childless and he was worried that not having a son would continue to keep him in a state of debt despite being a famous ruler of a large kingdom for it is believed that it is the son who discharges the debt of the ancestors by performing the rites in a timely manner.

Following the praise of Rama’s role in discharging his father’s debt, Desikar refers to mother Kausalya and how by being born in hier womb he concealed to the entire world his real identity. Desikar also praises the greatness of Kausalya for she was the chosen one to given birth to Rama.

Praising the Mother
As seen in Perumal Thirumozhi, Kulasekara Azhvaar too begins his decad of lullaby with a praise of Kausalya (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2016/12/kulasekara-azhvaar-lord-rama.html)

கோசலசுத குமார பவ கன்சுகித காரணாகார

The 1st set of churnikas relate to the birth of Rama. Desikar then moves on to the teenage phase of Rama and describes the first valorous deeds of Rama.
 Rama’s first act of Valour – a playful gesture
The 9th churnika recounts the first display of valour of Rama. Not yet 16, he is directed hesitatingly by King Dasaratha to accompany Sage Vishwamitra who sought the help of the young boy to protect his sacrificial rites that he was performing. Rama demolished the asuras with effortless ease that Desikar compares this treatment by Rama to a child spending his playfully with his friends.

கௌமார கேலி கோபாயித கௌஷிகாத்வரா

Initiation into the art of Weaponry – kills Tataka, throws Mareecha away
Desikar then takes one through the story of the Sage’s initiation of magic weapons that he believed would be relevant to Rama at a later stage in his life. In this verse, Desikar refers to the weapons as ‘Bhavya’, one that would simply listen to the words of the master.

Soon after the initiation, Desikar provides glimpses into how Rama put it into practice by using the small arrows to demolish the demons in the forest. Rama put an end to Tataka who had been a hurdle to the sacrificial rites that Sage Viswamitra had been performing. And his next arrow sent Mareecha into the ocean. He was still a young boy but even at that age showed his special skills of handling the weapons to protect the good from the evil.

Desikar showcases here the great learning abilities of Rama. Having absorbed the teachings of the great Sage in the art of weaponry, Ramya displayed his learnings in the destruction of Tataka and her son Mareecha.

ப்ரணதஜன விமத விமதன துர்லலித தோர்லலிதா
தனுதர விஷிக விதாதன விகடித விஷராறு ஷாராறு தாடகா தாடகேய

A soft Churnika – Ahalya’s Liberation
Desikar then turns soft in his narration of the episode of liberating the beautiful Ahalya from her husbands’s curse. In his narration, Desikar says that just a mere touch of his lotus foot on the stone was enough to liberate the beautiful lady.

On the way to Mithila, while at the Ashrama of Sage Gautama ,Viswamitra directed Rama to place his foot on the stone lying in the ashrama. Immediately the stone turned into a beautiful girl much to Rama’s surprise. Ahalya in a thanking gesture invoked his blessings with folded hands.

In this verse Desikar also describes the event of Shiva stopping the Ganga with his matted hair that purified the Ganges.

ஜட  கிரண ஷகள தரஜடில  நடபதி மகுட தட
நடன பது விபுத சரிததி
பஹுல மது களன லலித பத நளின ரஜ உபம்ருதித நிஜ
வ்ரிஜின ஜஹதுபல தணுருசின
பரம முநிவரா யுவதி நுத

Nava Stories to Rama and Lakshmana
Deskiar then presents the important story of Sage’s educative messages to Rama. When in the forest, he describes Nava stories of Gods, Demons and human beings with the intention of carrying Rama through the forest forgetting the hardship of the journey for it was the young lad’s first real long trip.

As they entered the beautiful town of Mithila, Rama was the cynosure of all eyes. The dames had never seen such a handsome man. He was as beautiful as the large moon on a full moon day and they did not take their eyes off him.
மைதில நகர சுலோசனா லோசண சகோர சந்திர

Janaka like every father wanted a handsome man for his daughter Sita who had grown into a beautiful girl. In a moment of haste, seeking the most valourous man on earth, Janaka had thrown an open challenge to anyone to string the mighty weapon of Shiva.

At that time, he had hoped that he would get the bravest man for her. But as time passed he grew anxious for no man could even lift the bow. He was now apprehensive that he had thrown far too big a challenge and that he may now not be able to find the right man.

As Rama entered the court, Janaka wondered as to what the young boy was doing there when several mighty warriors had even failed to move the bow. But he was convinced that this was the man for his daughter such were his handsome features. His eyes were as beautiful as a 1000 lotuses. Desikar also refers to ‘Stealing’ the beauty away from the lotuses as the entire Mithila glanced at the new man who had arrived there.

மோசித ஜனக ஹ்ருதய ஷாங்காதன்க

The attendants in several hundreds were directed to bring the bow to the court. And then in a dramatic moment the young lad lifted the seemingly strong bow of Siva, strung it and broke it with ease into two pieces.

Barely initiated into the art of weaponry, Rama displayed extra ordinary skill that seemed to be outside the capability of normal human beings.

The moment Rama strung the bow Janaka’s joy knew no bounds especially to have found a boy belonging to the solar dynasty for his daughter. He believed that she had done her clan proud by now being part of the clan of the Ishvakus.

கண்டபரஷு கோதண்ட ப்ரகாண்ட கண்டன ஷவுண்ட புஜதண்ட

After the wedding, Rama returned to Ayodhya. But before his return he provided to-date the most valourous display of his strength. 

Extra Ordinary Strength
On the way back, he had to face the taunt of that sworn enemy of the Kshatriyas Parasurama, who suggested that he had managed to string what he called was a 2nd best bow for he had the best one in the world, given by Lord Vishnu himself. And that Rama’s real merit lay in trying to string this bow of Parasurama.

ஷாதகோடி ஷாதகுந கதின பரஸுதர முனிவரா
கரத்ருட துறவனம தம நிஜ தணுராகர்ஷண
ப்ரகாஷித பாரமேஷுத்ய

The sage had offered the fruits of all his penances if Rama managed to string the bowl. Rama took away all the fruits of the good deeds of Parasurama by stringing the mighty bow and also thus got back his own bow. Sage Parasurama too acknowledged Rama as the supreme power after this episode.

The story of Parasurama’s anger and Rama’s greatness through this episode
As King Kartavyarjuna had taken away the sacred cow from Jamadagini’s ashrama in the absence of his son Parasurama, an angry son went after the king and killed him with his axe. In retaliation the army of the king killed Jamadigni, once again in the son’s absence. It was then that Parasurama took the vow to kill 21 generations of Kshatriyas and to perform the ceremonial rites with the blood of the kshatriyas.

It must be recalled that Kartavyarjuna had once held Ravana captive in his kingdom having defeated him in a battle only to release him after the great Ravana pleaded with him. Ravana himself had earlier shaken the great Mount Kailasa while Shiva and Paravati were spending their time in leisure there.

This final Churnika of Bala Kandam showcases to us the extraordinary valour of Rama as one who strung the mighty bows of Shiva and Vishnu and in correlation of the above set of events was a supreme power.

க்ருதுஹர ஷிகரி  கந்துக விஹ்ருத்யுன்முக ஜகதருந்துத
ஜிதஹரிதந்த தஷவதன தமன குஷள
தக்ஷஷத பூஜந்ருபதி குல ருதிர ஜர பரித
ப்ருதுதர தடாக தர்பித பித்ருக ப்ருகுபதி சுகதி
விஹாதிகர நத பருதிஷு பரிக

This first set of 20 churnikas of the Mahaveera Vaibhavam relate to the description of Rama’s valour leading to this marriage as a teenager and immediately after.