Friday, February 19, 2016

Kumbeswarar Temple Maha Magam

Where Shiva appeared as a Hunter – Kiratha Moorthy

The Maha Magam is celebrated on the day when Jupiter and the Moon are in Simharasi and the Sun in Kumbharasi on the full moon day in Maasi. 

The legend
Anticipating the deluge that would destroy the world, a worried Brahmma sought the help of Lord Shiva who created a pot containing nectar and the seeds of creation (Jeeva Raasis). Brahmma decorated the pot with coconut, darbha, mango leaves, sacred thread, vastram and vilvam and placing the pot atop the Meru Hill (Chikkam) performed pooja reciting the Shristi Bheeja mantras. When the deluge struck, the pot was driven down the stream and finally came to rest in Thiru Kudanthai.

Lord Shiva appeared as a hunter and shot an arrow to break open the pot from where nectar dispersed in different directions and emerged as sacred Theertham in Potramarai Tank (Sarangapani temple) and Maha Magam tank.

The nose of the pot fell at Kudaivasal (currently about 15kms from Kumbakonam). The nectar also spread across 5 kms from here and is referred to as Pancha Krosa Sthalam.

In a thanking gesture, Brahmma renovated and decorated the Maha Magam tank, created a Theertham for himself and worshipped Kumbeswarar and treated him to a ceremonial bath. The Maha Magam tank also comprises of Theertham relating to the Lords of the eight frontiers, nine maidens of the sacred rivers and celestials such as Kinnaras and Gandharvas.

Shiva mixed sand with the nectar to create a lingam and worshipped it himself and later merged with it. This was the first creation after the deluge and hence this temple is referred to Aadhi Kumbeswarar (Oozhi Muthalvar). This Kiratha (hunter) idol is a special feature at this temple.  The Peedam contains 72000 mantras. The Magam festival is a celebratory event to honour the contribution of the presiding deity of the Kumbeswarar temple. Performing pooja on Magam star for Lord Kumbeswarar is believed to bring about husband- wife unity, help in progeny and liberate one from previous birth’s curse.

The nine sacred rivers in order to extricate themselves of the burden of sins were directed by Lord Shiva to visit the Maha Magam tank once in 12 years to take a ceremonial bath on the Maha Magam day.

Parvathi came in search of Lord Shiva and pleased with her visit, he made her sit near him and requested her to provide darshan as Mangala Peedeswari and to bless them with all Mangalam.

There is no Abhishekam for the Lord as he is not of the granite stone idol. Every Monday and on Pradosham, he is anointed with Ashta Gandham - 8 fragrant items. Lord Kumbeswarar presents himself in a soft form here unlike his normally ugra posture.

Special Number 12
Maha Magam is said to happen once in 12 years. In reality it is celebrated after 4332 days (total of these is 12). The difference between these two: 4380 days (365daysx12years) and 4332 days is 48, the total of which is also 12 (4+8)!!!

Brahmotsavam in Maasi
Rudra Abhishekam takes place a day before the flag is hoisted and the theertham is taken to Maha Magam tank and poured there. It is in the Rishaba Lagnam- the one that has no Dosham out of the 12 Lagnams- that Kumbeswarar enters the Maha Magam tank for the Theerthavari Vaibhavam.

Roles interchanged at Thiru Kudanthai
Typically Brahmma is the creator, Vishnu the protector and Shiva is the destroyer. But here in Thiru Kudanthai, the roles were interchanged as seen from the legend relating to the Magam festival. Brahmma protected the pot given by Shiva (Vishnu’s role). Following the deluge, Shiva re-created the world by breaking open the pot containing the nectar (Brahmma’s role). And Vishnu struck the Sudarshana Chakra at the Sun God (Chakrapani temple) by taking on the Samhara role (Shiva’s role).

Maha Magam Message from Periva Sri Jayendra Saraswathi

This is an occasion that happens once in 12 years when all the sacred rivers in our country visit the Maha Magam in Thiru Kudanthai. The devotees need not worry that they have not been able to visit each of those sacred rivers individually. Just bathing at the Maha Magam tank during this period will secure them Punyam which will cleanse them of their sins. Once the sins go away, difficulties will vanish and one will find happiness all around.

When happiness grows and develops, the devotees tend to get peace of mind. Only if one has peace of mind, will life have found its merit for we should realise how blessed we are to have been born as a human being. Only those who are born as humans have this privilege of bathing in the Maha Magam tank.

It is important for us to keep doing good things in this life on a daily basis to accumulate Punyam and thus make ourselves worthy.

Brahmotsavam specially for the Maha Magam
Maasi is usually the time for Theppotsavam at the Sarangapani Divya Desam. However, this month, as part of the Maha Magam festival, a special Brahmotsavam is being celebrated. The Grand 10 day festival started last week, with the Garuda Vahana procession taking place on Wednesday evening.

As part of the Maha Magam celebrations, on Monday morning, Lord Sarangapani will be joined by Lords from the four other ancient Perumal temples in Thiru Kudanthai – Ramaswamy, Chakrapani, Rajagopalan and Aathi Varaha Perumal - on a joint procession to the banks of the Cauvery for Theerthavari.

Maasi Magam and an Exclusive Chakrapani Temple
When the Sun Lord’s heat had once become unbearable due to his arrogance of being the only one to provide shining bright light, Lord Vishnu, to teach him a lesson, hurled his chakra forcing the Sun Lord to go into hiding. It was on the Maasi Magam day that the Sun God first performed pooja invoking Lord Vishnu’s blessings and requested him to provide darshan to devotees as Chakrath Azhvaar. In memory of this event, the Chariot Festival is celebrated at the Chakrapani temple on Maasi Magam every year. 

Azhvaars praising the Cauvery in Thiru Kudanthai
The Maha Magam festival is about cleansing one’s sins by bathing in the sacred theertham. Three Azhvaars have praised the sacred role of Cauvery in the lives of the people of Kumbakonam.

Thirumazhisai Azhvaar refers to Thiru Kudanthai temples reverberating with Vedic chanting by scholars who were seen with folded hands. He praises Cauvery as one with gushing waters. The presence of the Lord seen relaxing in the special slightly raised reclining posture was indeed a boon to the Vedic Seers of Thiru Kudanthai. The ever flowing water that was streaming down the Cauvery kept the town cool at all times.

Nam Azhvaar praises Lord Aravamudhan as shining amidst the fertile waters of the Cauvery. It is the water from the Cauvery that has helped the growth of huge quantity of paddy and the blooming of large Lotus flowers seen all around Thiru Kudanthai.

In his verses, Thiru Mangai Azhvaar refers to Betel that Kumbakonam is now famous for. He specifically praises Thiru Kudanthai as a place where one finds huge fragrant Betel Creepers receiving cool water from the Cauvery.

Maha Magam Celebrations
There will be a Pancha Moorthy Chariot Festival starting from the Kumbeswarar temple this Saturday and Sunday (20/21 Feb). On Monday (22 Feb), on the occasion of Maha Magam, Lord Kumbeswarar along with deities from 12 other Shiva temples will enter the Maha Magam tank for the celebration of Theerthavari Vaibhavam between 12noon and 1pm.

( A part of this story featured today in The Hindu Friday Review)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Bharathwajan Araiyar Srirangam

The ‘Young Pilot’ is completing 25 years of Araiyar Sevai this year
Practicing at his terrace on East Chitra Street in the backdrop of the Vellai Gopuram

Bharathwajan Araiyar of Srirangam has a unique profile. Professionally, he dons the role of a Pilot having coming out with flying colours in the Aviation course he undertook.  And away from the aircrafts, he is seen presenting with great devotion the 1000 year old rare art form of Araiyar Sevai at the Lord Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam and creating a special devotional experience in the people’s minds with his performances.

He was just five years old in 1986 when he started learning the art from his father Lakshmi Narayana Araiyar (who was a bronze medalist at REC and was a star employee at BHEL) and his uncle Sampath Araiyar. The very first Prabhandham he learnt was Thondaradipodi Azhvaar’s Thirumalai.

Such was his interest that as a young school boy he would make his elder sister sit in front of him in the backyard of his house and present Abhinaya of the sacred verses of the Azhvaars visualising her as Lord Namperumal.

First Araiyar Sevai at the age of 10
His debut Araiyar Sevai was a presentation of Periyazhvaar’s ‘Aatrilirunthu Vilaiyaaduvongalai’ verses as a 10 year old on the 2nd day of the Pagal Pathu Utsavam at the Lord Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam. His hands were shivering when he presented for the first time.

Bharathwajan when he was four years old

Later that year he was heartbroken when his uncle refused to permit him to present a solo Araiyar Sevai on the 7th day of Brahmotsavam citing his age as a reason. Unable to bear this rejection, Barathwajan Araiyar started shedding tears of devotion right there in front of the Lord. His true devotion for the Lord prompted the Archakas of the day to persuade the boy’s uncle to permit him to perform and he presented with tears of joy the verses of Periyazhvaar’s ‘Thinnar Ven Sangudaiyaai’.

In 1993, as a 12 year old he presented Araiyar Sevai, of the ‘Thodakka Paasurams’ of the Tiruvoimozhi verses, on each day of the 10 day Nam Azhvaar Utsavam, quite a significant achievement indeed.

Dull student at school!!!
He rarely liked school and would often skip classes at Ranga Matriculation School (Srirangam) to be present with the Lord on festive occasions. Every Ekadasi and Amavasya was a time for him to be with the Lord on processions.

He had been a dull student at School and it was the popular RSV (now 80 years old) teacher who took special interest in him and helped him with Maths. He would often say ‘I teach Maths but your Math is with God’. All his teachers, both in School and College, saw him only as an Araiyar and as one who performed service to God.

Persuades his father to allow him to present at other Divya Desams
Wanting to also present before the Lord in Thiru Vellarai and Woraiyur Divya Desams (two temples near Srirangam), the young boy once woke up his father at 5am (his father would leave for his work at BHEL at 6am every morning) and persuaded him to hand over the bus ticket charges that day so he too could make it after his school to join the Senior Araiyars.

Since only the senior Araiyars presented there, they did not want to incur extra expenses to take this boy along and they would often tell him that the Utsavams were all over and that he should focus on his studies. But his persuasion paid off. And he won over his father with his devotion and presented Araiyar Sevai in those temples as well even as a school boy.

In those days there was only one tube light in the temple. It was only oil and ghee lamps all around and they presented with Bhakti amidst the sacred light emanating from those lamps.

Brahmotsavam and falling sick
Every year during the annual Brahmotsavam, he would invoke Lord Namperumal’s blessings to make him sick so he could stay away from his school. And then he would quietly cycle around to find the location of the Lord (on his procession) much to the surprise of his father and uncles. Such was his devotion to the Lord.

On the 1st day when the ‘Kodi Etram’ was to take place just after 3am, his father and uncles would not wake him up as he was a small boy and did not want to disturb his sleep. When he woke up at 4.45 am to the realisation that the Kodi Etram had taken place in his absence, he would shed tears for hours leaving him swollen eyes and cheeks.

During that period, he performed a lot of Kainkaryam at the temple. He would fold the Vastrams of the Lord, would get the Dhoopam ready and performed selfless service during Thirumanjanam.

Presentation just after 3am
As a 15 year old, Barathwajan Araiyar stayed awake the whole night awaiting the knock on his door by the temple staff at 3am and went there to present 40 verses of Thiruppavai and Thirupalli Yezhuchi. His uncles would insist to be present along with him though he wanted to present this all alone. He then practiced for hours at his house with his sister playing the role of an Archaka and convinced his relatives that he was confident of presenting this on his own without their presence.

No Excursions No Vacations
While all his classmates went on excursions, he would be practicing Araiyar Sevai at home. Even when his relatives went on their annual trip to Tirupathi, he would be the lone boy staying back home as he was keen to practice and master the Araiyar Sevai. Each year during the summer vacation, he would continuously practice the art throughout the two month period. At the school and college, he was seen presenting lectures to his teachers on the role of Araiyars and the significance of Araiyar Sevai. His teachers saw him as a devoted Araiyar whose mind was always on the Lord and went out of their way to help him out in his education.

Inspired by the movie Bhakta Prahalada, which he watched when he was a young boy, Bharathwajan first played the role of Prahalada when he was still not into his teens on the 7th day of Era Pathu Utsavam when the Araiyars present the entire episode of Hiranya Vatham. Since then, he has been the devotees’ favourite over the last two decades for this role. He has always wanted to be like Prahalada in the pursuit of Bhakti and devotion to the Lord.

Becomes a Pilot
As he grew up into a teenager in the 1990s, his interest for driving different vehicles increased. Every Sunday he would go to a mechanic shop in Thiruvanaikaval and help out in the repair of two wheelers and cars. When vehicles broke down in Srirangam at odd hours, people knew whose help to seek. It was also during this period that his interests expanded to aeroplanes.  One night he took his father’s car and drove it all alone around the Chitra Streets when all others were asleep. And then he displayed his driving skills to his father the next morning by driving him to the Gunaseelam temple

Once he also sat through the night next to the engine driver in the train from Srirangam to Madras.

After graduating in Computer Science from National College, he worked for a few years in a private firm in Tiruchirapalli. Bharathwajan Araiyar then joined an Aviation course and completed it in 2years. Once he landed at around 7pm with almost no light at an airport and with only the natural Moon Light to assist him (while he was in the training phase). He also did a solo cross country between Trichy and Madras in heavy rain without anyone inside the aircraft in that training phase piloting the aircraft at a height of just 250 feet above the ground as there was a thick cloud cover above that!!!!

 Over the last six years, he has been a pilot with a Chartered Airline.

Straddling between a Pilot and Araiyar Sevai
His father had struggled in his early days with limited facilities and wanted his son to enjoy life. Hence he tried to present everything that his son was interested in and did not stop him from pursuing his other interests.

While Bharathwajan loves the role of a Pilot, his main interest in life continues to be to bring the mystical experiences of the Azhvaars to the devotees through his Abhinayam especially during the 21 day Tamiil Divya Prabhandham (Adhyayana) Festival in Margazhi and to ensure that this art introduced by his fore father Natha Muni is experienced and enjoyed by the devotees.

Araiyar Sevai, he says, is not just about memorising a few verses and presenting them as a song and dance sequence. It is about Bhakti and Devotion to Lord and transforming oneself into that role and creating a Bhakti experience for the devotees much the same way the Azhvaars visualised and praised the Lord in so many different temples.

A Milestone
Bharathwajan, who this year will be completing 25 years of presenting Araiyar Sevai, calls it a great blessing to have been born as an Araiyar and to be able to present Azhvaar’s verses in front of Lord Namperumal. ‘Abhinayam has to come naturally. Self interest has to be high. Expression has to be soft because we have to remember that we are presenting in front of God.’

In recent times he has been travelling across South India to educate devotees on the significance of Araiyar Sevai. Through his Araiyar Sevai, he is hopeful that more devotees will visit and experience this rare art form of presenting the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham.

Bharathwajan Araiyar has just been engaged and will tie the wedding knot in May this year. 

I had written a story several years on saving this rare art

(A version of this story featured today in The Hindu Friday Review)

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Bosskey Leg Spinner Extraordinaire

Bhaskar was superior to LS by a long Mile - VV Kumar
From a cricketing high to 'landing problem' in a matter of months!!!
Once upon a time.... batsmen trembled at the sight of him being introduced into the attack

Bosskey (B Bhaskar) is turning 54 this week but does not look that. He walks an hour every evening on the beach road between the Light House and Anna Square. And looks as fit as one half his age despite the fact that he had a miraculous escape from a life threatening road accident a few years back. 

As he picked up the red cherry for the first time in many years, one wondered if he would have any of his magic from the 70s and early 80s. And as he let the first ball go, it seemed too wide of the off stump. But lo....... it came back a mile and knocked out the middle stump. It was a Bosskey special – the big turning googly. He also displayed the deceptive faster one that Ravi Shastri once described as a ‘Michael Holding’ style delivery!!!

Between 1978 and 1981, Bosskey seemed unstoppable in his progress towards an India cap. He exuded a confidence that seemed to indicate that he had mastery over his art. He had all the variations of a leggie in his repertoire and bagged equal number of wickets with each of these. Former Test Cricketer Col Hemu Adikari and VV Kumar rated Bhaskar highly and having the potential to play for India.  

Wickets flowed in all forms of cricket- In 1980 and 81, Bosskey took around 150 wickets spread over the TNCA league and colts, college cricket (Loyola), Inter Universities and the Vizzy Trophy. K Srikkanth was personally impressed with Bosskey’s skills and used him to get wickets for his team at crucial intervals. The buzz all around was that he would soon be inducted into the TN team for the Ranji Trophy. And then what happened? Read on

School Days @ St Bedes
Bosskey took to leg spin at the age of 8 after he found that none could take on his leg spin on the streets of Mylapore (East Mada and Nadu Street) where he played tennis ball cricket in the late 1960s. It was his family friend Rajagopal (formerly with Air India) who first taught Bosskey the grip for leg spin and the googly. And created the interest in the young boy to take to leg spin (from the then fast bowler that Bhaskar was at that time)

His team mates at school through that decade included VB Chandrasekar (who was also his classmate), MA Sriram and Sanjay Kumar (referred to in the city cricket circles as ‘Lal’). VB used to always stand at slip when Bosskey bowled and took some outstanding catches.

Bhaskar was first spotted by Colonel Hemu Adhikari (former Test Cricketer) who after seeing him in action at the nets at Chepauk as a school boy in the mid 70s indicated to everyone at the TNCA that this young boy is likely to be a big asset for India if nurtured properly. He turned the leg spin square from outside the leg stump. And his googly foxed many a batsman as it came in sharply from well outside the off stump.

By the late 1970s, he had already made a mark having played for the State Schools. In 1978, he helped St. Bedes win the TNCA Senior Inter Schools tournament with his consistent performances. He also impressed for the South Zone Schools in Jan 78 against the visiting English Schools, a team that comprised of future England players Derek Pringle, Paul Terry and Richard Ellison.

Class Topper at School
Bhaskar was exceptional in his studies. He was always a class topper. ‘Father’ at school expected him to secure a state rank in PUC but very surprisingly, his father at home (Balasubramanian, formerly with The Hindu - Frontline) encouraged Bhaskar to progress his sporting interest so much so that Bhaskar even skipped an exam to play a cricket match!!!!


His exceptional league performance led him into the TNCA Colts team for the prestigious annual tour to Bombay. In 1977-78, he took 10 wickets and had the best bowling average on tour. Also that year he was awarded the best proficiency prize by the TNCA for his extraordinary achievement.

Prof Ramana’s role
Former Andhra Ranji player and later Principal of Guru Nanak College Professor TV Ramana was Bosskey’s captain at BRC (league team). He knew Bosskey inside out and got the best out of Bosskey. He was a ‘Hitler’ in Bosskey’s life. In that phase, Bosskey would quietly listen to Ramana’s directions and orders and succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination. His star performances  in 78-79 helped BRC gain promotion into 1st division 

In July 1979, he picked up 5wickets against a star studded Alwarpet team. In September 1980, Bhaskar took 8 for 32 for Bharathi against KMC bowling out the opposition for just 100 and followed that with a 6 for 38 against MUC.

In the 2nd of the Colts tours captained by S Ramesh (later of RBI), he was the highest wicket taker with 33 wickets. He was literally unplayable on that tour and shot into limelight. His performance on that tour left the teams from Bombay shattered. 

S Ramesh and Bhaskar spent two months together during that phase with the first 15 days @ the colts tour in Bombay and immediately following that with the Madras University team. Ramesh wonders as to how someone with that kind of potential could quit the scene all of a sudden. 'Bhaskar had all variations in his repertoire during that period. Everyone in the team thought that he would soon play Ranji cricket and that it was only a matter a time especially as Cheeka had a special liking for him and Bhaskar sparkled under his captaincy. He had a very deceptive faster one and was a very good team man. Even at that time, he was a very jovial personality and it is no surprise he has succeeded as a comedian.'

Ravi Shastri on Bhaskar’s bowling in 1980-81

Bhaskar’s bowling for the TNCA colts and SZ Univ led Ravi Shastri to remark that ‘the Bombay players were still to overcome the nightmares of facing Bhaskar and that the entire Bombay cricketing fraternity had been shaken by his leg spin.’

On top of the world
1980 and 81 were the best years for Bosskey in cricket. He picked up over 40 wickets for Bharathi CC in league. Bowling in tandem with WV Raman, he was the highest wicket taker with 33 wickets in the 2nd of the TNCA Colts tour against Bombay Colts, teams that comprised of Lalchand Rajput, Milind Rege, Padam Shastri, Chandrakant Pandit and Shishir Hattangadi, among others. He was literally unplayable on that tour and shot into national limelight. His performance on that tour left the teams in Bombay shattered. Everyone was talking about him.

Bosskey was an outstanding fielder and took some spectacular catches. As part of his fielding regime, he would take 150 catches at practice every day. TE Srinivasan liked him so much that he used to call him ‘Darling Leggie’.

During that period, he had many remarkable performances repeatedly bowling Loyola College to victory. In 79-80, he was consistent throughout taking 5 plus wickets thrice in succession, a remarkable feat. The following year, his 5 wicket haul helped Loyola beat a strong Guru Nanak college team comprising of Ravi Mishra, PS Vijayakumar among others and his 4/28 helped bowl out Vivekananda College for just 97 in March 81.

University cricket with Srikkanth
Following his performance with the TNCA Colts and his star show for Loyola, Bosskey went on to represent the Madras University captained by K Srikkanth. It was a star studded team comprising of R Madhavan, R Venkatesh and V Prasad. He took 8 wickets for 57 in his debut match against Venkateswara University and followed this with a 5 wicket haul against a strong Karnataka team. These performances earned him a place in a star studded South Zone University team captained by Cheeka and comprised of Mohd. Azharuddin, Arshad Ayub and Saad Bin Jung.

In January 81, playing for Madas University in the Group B Final against a strong Delhi team, Bhaskar took 5 for 91 getting the wickets of Bhaskar Pillai and Gurucharan Singh  who were in prime form then.

Feb’81 - Best hours in cricket against Shastri and co.
The best cricket match of his life came in the first week of February 1981 at the Railway ground in Hyderabad when playing against a West Zone captained by Ravi Shastri, he bundled out the opposition with a mix of leggies, googlies and faster ones.

An event when he batted triggered Bhaskar’s spirit. When South Zone batted, Ravi Shastri and wicket keeper appealed for a caught behind when the ball had gone off Bosskey’s pad. Much to his dismay, the umpire lifted his finger. When he came back to the pavilion and let know his frustration to Cheeka,  the south zone captain in his typical tongue in cheek style told Bosskey ( translated into readable English......) ‘It’s okay. What’s the big deal? It is not as if you are going to tear apart Shastri and co with your batting’.

When SZ came to field, Bosskey mixed all his variations to bamboozle the WZ batsmen including Shastri. What happened in those couple of hours remains Bosskey’s finest hours in cricket. With the faster one, he bowled Ravi Shastri and the stumps went back 10 yards behind the keeper. And then shortly after came to bat the keeper who had initiated that caught behind appeal. Bosskey had been waiting for this moment.

Casatta Ice Cream
Cheeka came into short leg and promised Bosskey a 3-in-1 Casatta Ice Cream if he knocked back the stumps. And the next ball, Bosskey’s faster one shattered the stumps (Cheeka kept up his promise and later treated Bosskey to the Casatta ice cream at Hotel Siddarth). Bosskey took 5 for 25 in 12overs to bowl out West Zone for 180 triggering a collapse from 115/1 and South Zone romped home to victory with Azhar and Ranjit Khanwilkar finishing off in style. Bosskey has special memories of that outstanding all rounder Khanwilkar (who later passed away in an accident) taking brilliant catches during that phase.

Bosskey shared room with Srikkanth during that period and enjoyed many light hearted moments with his captain. It was also a season when Srikkant was in fine form as he jumped down to fast bowlers and hit them out of the ground repeatedly. ( Decades later, when Bosskey  came to Srikkanth’s house, his former captain jokingly remarked pointing out at his sons ‘tell these boys about how we co-ordinated to ruin the opposition that University season’)

Job offers from Government organisations came rolling through even while he was at college but he refused.

K Venugopal, of The Hindu Group (former Editor of Business Line) who was his first captain at Loyola remembers Bosskey and his humour in the college dressing room ‘Aruvai jokes started even then’ ( in the late 70s) hinting at the potential in him to become a comedian in the future. 

And then................He became 'Once upon a time' story!!!!!

When he bowled, the ball zipped through the air. Almost every cricketer who saw him in that phase echoed his confidence of playing soon for the state.  

And then he gained inches. Here was another case of a spinner losing his armory because of ‘natural progression’. Bhaskar suddenly lost his flight and arc. There was also the question mark about his action. There were no video analysts to sit with him and course correct.  Try as he did, the ball just did not obey his orders. There was no one to guide him in that phase. In a matter of months, to everyone’s shock he had lost his art and he went into oblivion all of a sudden. From a high of playing Vizzy Trophy and helping SZ win, Bhaskar failed to land the ball and lost the confidence. Earlier when the ball left his hand, he knew what it would do. Now, he was worried as to whether it would land and where it would be hit.

The fall of this potentially great leggie coincided with the rise of another. LS was just beginning to make a mark and shot into prominence as a teenager with the 7 wicket haul against Delhi in his debut match. And the focus shifted from Bosskey to LS ( the latter too did not live up to his true potential and faded away in the mid 80s.... to be seen in a separate story shortly).

In early 81, he had expressed an ambition to play for India after coming back with the Vizzy Trophy. And a year later he had settled down with a banking career at IOB. He was rarely picked by them for the league matches. He continued to play league cricket for different teams over the next 10 years. Once in a while in the late 80s and early 90s, he revived old ‘Bharathi’ memories taking a few seven wicket hauls. 

S Venkataraghavan ‘fired’ him after an old BRC v new BRC match (one in which Bosskey got the wicket of Venkat and R Prabhakar) for not approaching him for corrective steps. But it was too late by then.

In 1975, Bhaskar’s Maths teacher Tony Pachaco (currently in Delhi) predicted that the young boy would one day become a cricket commentator.  Bhaskar was just in class 8 and did not have a special voice. 

Four decades on, the New Gen know him only as a TV personality and Comedian but there was a time in life when batsmen trembled at the sight of Bosskey being introduced into the attack!!!!!!!!!!!

(Currently Bosskey anchors, an online channel providing exclusive original humour).

Bhaskar had the potential to be my Real Successor -VV Kumar

Tamil Nadu’s all time best leg spinner VV Kumar had seen Bhaskar very closely through the 70s as a school boy cricketer and believes that he had the potential to play for India.

When Bhaskar released the ball, there was the zip and one could hear the fizz in the air. He was a top leg spinner and had a lot of variations and would consistently beat the bat with flight and turn. He was one of the most exceptional leg spinners I have seen in my life. He was truly amazing. He was a solid purveyor of the art who made the batsman’s life unhappy. He had the potential to be a world beater. He could have hit the ceiling.

He was a strict follower of practice. He would never be late for the nets. He would bowl for hours together. After him, I have not seen anyone in the last 30 years with that kind of potential.  He should have played for India for many years. When he grew tall suddenly, his stride had to be adjusted, the position of the bowling hand needed alteration and there was also an adjustment required of the front foot. And he failed to do that.

LS was nowhere near Bhaskar. He was superior to LS by a long mile. Not only would he have been my true successor but he had the potential to be greater than me.