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 ( 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 (

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 (  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 (

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.