Friday, April 24, 2015

Nam Azhvaar Temporary State of Life

Thank God for all the good things he has given us

In his Tiruvoimozhi praise on the Lord of the Northern City of Mathura, Nam Azhvaar describes the futility of temporary relationships of life. He says that the relationships that we think are close are only temporary.

கொண்ட பெண்டிர் மக்கள் உற்றார் கற்றத்தவர் பிறரும்
கண்டதோடு  பட்டது அல்லால்  காதல் மற்று யாதும் இல்லை

துணையும் சார்வும் ஆகுவார்போல் கற்றத்தவர் பிறரும்
அனணய வந்த ஆக்கம் உண்டேல் அட்டைகள்போல் சுவைப்பர்

Relatives, including the wife and children, and friends see only what is in it for them.  As long as they see that you have something to offer them, they will have the time for you. But as you go along in life, you will find that they are all after your ‘wealth’ and they will ‘enjoy’ it as much as possible.

So long as you have money and you are willing to spend on them, they will seem to come to you with their good wishes but the moment you are financially poor not one will come forward to enquire about you.

பொருள் கை உண்டாய்ச் செல்லக்காணில்
போற்றி  என்று ஏற்று ஏழ்வர் இருள்கொள்
துன்பத்து இன்மை காணில் என்னே என்பாரும் இல்லை

அரணம் ஆவர் அற்ற காலைக்கு என்று என்று
அமைக்கப்பட்டார்

Those in the past who were trustees of your wealth will behave almost like petty money lenders in bad times.

சதுரம் என்று தம்மைத் தாமே சம்மதித்து
இன்மொழியார் மதுர போகம் துற்றவரே 
வைகி  மற்று ஒன்று உறுவர்

If this were so, there is little that needs to be said about the beautiful women in your life. Even those who enjoyed your friendship and company and who you repeatedly pampered with goodies will vanish from your sight when they find that you do not have the money to splurge on them.

இல்லை கண்டீர் இன்பன் அந்தோ உள்ளது நிளையாதே
தொல்லையார்கள் எத்தனைவர் தோன்றிக் 
கழிந்தொழிந்தார்

While this is there for all to see, Nam Azhvaar says that it is surprising that men have unfortunately not realised this, and for centuries have fallen to the lure of relationships in life that are so temporary.

He says that if there is anything that we truly consider ours, we should sacrifice it to Him.

For starters, Nam Azhvaar asks us to consider at least reciting his name and thanking him,  on a daily basis, for what he has given us. And then as a next step, if possible, he asks us to try singing praise of the Lord.

For those in the initial phase he asks us to take the effort to know the different names of God for, he says, this small step will lead you on to the right path and away from mistakes.

And as we make progress in this direction, worshiping him with sincerity and dedicating everything to him will be the way to go. There is no other route that will give us satisfaction in the long run. Hence seek the Lord of 'Vada Madurai', says Nam Azhvaar, without any further delay.


The Lord in the Northern city of Mathura is waiting to bless us. Invoke his blessings and try to get his grace every day, concludes Nam Azhvaar.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hemant Srivatsa Cricketer of the 1980s

South Zone U19, India U19 Against Australia, 1st Division while still at School
Retired by the time he completed his education!!!

After having represented Tamil Nadu at the Sub Junior level in Swimming when he was just 9 and then having played Billiards for a few years, Hemant took to cricket only when he was around 15years in the 1st half of the 1980s.

He went to Chepauk for the U16 selection. One of the selectors, M Srinivasan, immediately spotted the talent in him and picked him in the squad with the encouraging words ‘You have a run up like the legendary Aussie Alan Davidson.’

That season, he bagged the South Zone Sub Junior cricketer of the year award.  When he was just 16, he played in the Madras Test for India U19 against Australia U19 comprising of Tom Moody, Paul Reiffel, Andrew Zesers and Gavin Robertson.

He very quickly moved up the rank and was at that time the only school boy cricketer to play in the 1st division for Alwarpet first under the captaincy of Bharat Kumar and then under K Srikkanth.  He had also become a specialist short leg fielder (he dedicates his entire cricket achievements to PK Dharmalingam). But very soon cricket politics got the better of him.

He had the highest marks for a cricketer in the class XII exam and yet the Anna University sports seat went to another cricketer (he still plays cricket in Madras) with lower credentials at that time but better ‘support’!!

Instead of exploring other options in Madras that could have furthered his cricketing ambitions, his father (KC Srivatsa, Partner at that time at the legendary Auction House Murrays) directed him to take up the seat offered by GCT Coimbatore. This meant that through that year he would travel unreserved on Friday evening to play the league match for Alwarpet and get back to Coimbatore unreserved on Sunday night. It was something that took its toll on his body and undid his cricketing future.
 
 PK Dharmalingam who coached Hemant from his school days as well as at Alwarpet believes that had he stayed back in Madras during those four years, it is very likely he would have achieved big in cricket for he was at the peak of his form during that phase.


‘Hemant had a lot of potential as a left arm fast bowler. ‘He had a long and an economical run up, his delivery stride was a coach’s delight- he accelerated at the right time, had a high arm action, the perfect landing of the right foot and a pronounced follow through.’

‘He had the potential to play much higher level of cricket than what he finally ended up with, which is very unfortunate.’

Districts beat City
Hemant captained the Combined districts team that beat the strong N Gautham led City team. He was the new ball bowler for South Zone U19 and took 5wickets against a West Zone U 19 team that comprised of Ranji cricketers. And yet a player who played only one match that year for South Zone (from Karnataka) was selected for India U19. A former off spinning great was the Selector.


As luck would have it, that same former India Spinner was the manager of the Indian team when Pakistan toured India. That Pak team had an upcoming left armer in Azeem Hafeez. Leading up to the series, the Indian team wanted to practise against a good left arm quickie and Srikkanth brought Hemant to bowl at the Indian stars in the nets leaving  the offie totally embarrassed.

(The offie called up Srikkanth asking him to convey his apologies to Hemant for having had to overlook him (for non cricketing reasons) at the India U19 level and promised to include him next year!!!)

On another occasion, another South Zone manager from Mangalore told him a day ahead of the match that another player (not half as good as him) from Karnataka would be playing the match and that Hemant was dropped (again for reasons similar to the above).

In a practise match against SPIC as a teenager, he bowled a sharp bouncer that hit the then SPIC captain P Ramesh on the chest (after the left hander had hit him for four the previous ball). He was asked to apologise but Hemant stood his ground and did not. That was the stuff he was made of and was not known to be a ‘yes man’, another reason that slowed down his progress.

MRF Pace Academy’s deal with 1st Div teams
It was also during that period that MRF struck a deal with league clubs in Madras to play some of the pace academy fast bowlers in their teams. Hemant was the only real left arm quickie at that time and MRF academy had none.

Yet, as part of this deal, two fast bowlers from the academy automatically played in the XI for Alwarpet though Hemant had a proven track record and like the case with the Anna University admission was far more meritorious. And he missed out again on crucial opportunities.


All of these frustrated Hemant and the entire selection process left a poor taste in him. He quit cricket for good just after 20 despite having played SZ U19 for 4years and India U19 as well.

Looking back, Hemant regrets taking up cricket for he could never get to terms with the amount of politics and match fixing.

Dharmalingam has the final word on Hemant ‘Whenever I watch Mitchel Johnson in action, I am reminded of Hemant, for I could spot a lot of similarities between the two. I really enjoyed coaching him for he was a very well behaved boy, a genuine fast bowler with the right attitude and was liked by everyone in the team. I would say that Hemant’s was yet another case of talent not being fully utilised in Tamil Nadu.

Hemant currently runs the famous Murrays Auction in Madras.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Panguni Uthiram Debate Srirangam

When Ranganayaki Thayar shut the door on Lord Ranganatha

It is a drama created by Lord Ranganatha and Ranganayaki Thayar through a personal and healthy debate to highlight the importance of solving the most challenging of issues within a family. The debate also brings to light the need for respecting elders in the society.

This historic annual event dating back to the period of the origins of Araiyars was re-enacted on the occasion of Panguni Uthiram last Friday morning at the Thayar Sannidhi of the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangam.

Thayar’s anger
Ranganayaki Thayar was furious. She had heard from her sources about Lord Ranganatha’s secret trip to Woraiyur, earlier that week, to meet his beloved Kamalavalli Nachiyar. To add fuel to fire, her sources also told her that he had presented a ring at Woraiyur.

Clearly she was upset and was waiting for an opportunity to express her disapproval of his trip. And the opportunity presented itself on the morning of Panguni Uthiram when Lord Ranganatha was to come and meet with her.


As he tried to make a hurried entry into her Sannidhi just after 10am, she shut the door on him. Shortly after, as he tried to make a re-entry, a fuming Thayar directed her representatives to pelt the Lord and his representatives with butter.

This led to five rounds of debate inside the Thayar Sannidhi with Araiyars (Krishnan and Sampath Kumar) representing Lord Ranganatha trying their best to defend the Lord and his actions against the Pandaris (Sudarshan) representing Ranganayaki Thayar.

Round 1
The Araiyars began round one by putting forth the Lord’s defence that he had been out for well over three hours that morning in the hot Panguni sun, listening to the Vedic and Divya Prabhandham recitals of the Brahmins and providing darshan to the devotees across the four Chitra and Uthira streets. He pleaded that this was the reason for the delay and that it was only fair that she accepted his garland and allowed him to enter her Sannidhi.

Pandaris (who were assigned the responsibility by Ramanuja of taking care of Thayar) retorted that this was poor reasoning and put him on the defensive by questioning if providing darshan to devotees was indeed the real reason or if there was some hidden agenda (indirectly pointing to the fact that he was actually out there through the morning collecting money from the devotees to try and buy a ring to replace the one that he had presented to Kamalavalli Nachiyar at Woraiyur)

Thayar was surprised to find his eyes red, the hair disturbed, Thiruman not in the way it usually is and even nail marks on his body. Thayar was insistent on status quo being maintained – No one inside the Sannidhi should go out and those that are outside should not enter her Sannidhi, she ordered through the Pandaris.

Did you go to Woraiyur
As part of the second round of the debate, Araiyars defended the Lord saying that he had spent sleepless nights protecting his devotees and that was the reason for the red eyes. He had to go to the forest to fight the wild animals to protect his devotees and the nail marks was a result of that fight. He had lost his ring when Thirumangai Azhvaar, posing as a thief, attacked him in the middle of the night and that he was still searching for it and was confident of finding it back.
 
An unconvinced Ranganayaki Thayar fired a fiery question at him sending shock waves to the other side – ‘Did you go to Woraiyur.’
              
Where is Woraiyur:)
The next round began with Ranganatha in all his innocence saying that he had neither heard of nor seen that place. He contested that she was purposely trying to insult him in front of everyone by naming some place that he had never even heard of. This angered Thayar even further and she retorted that the Lord was trying to create an illusion by hiding everything and that she had gathered all the truth about his trip from her sources.

Lofty Promises
Pushed back further in every round and completely exasperated with the negative response, Lord Ranganatha decided that it was now time to resort to promises in an effort to convince her. He asked his representatives to draw her to his side by telling her that the Lord was ready to promise on the Ocean, the Fire and that he was even ready to put his hand inside the snake pit to prove his innocence.

Ranganayaki Thayar scoffed at these seemingly lofty promises saying that she is not the one to be outdone by these.  Making promises was a well accepted practice to a truce when there was a fight between two parties but Thayar expressed surprise at the kind of promises he has made.

Does he expect the Serpant King on whom he resides all the time to bite him, she extolled!!! She refused to allow him entry at the end of the fourth round as well saying that he was trying to lure her back with such simple promises.

Climax
Araiyars came back a fifth time with an emotional appeal from the Lord who was standing at the entrance of the Thayar Sannidhi. ‘With the whole world watching him being thus insulted, it is a matter of time before they scoff at her and that all the blame for this public embarrassment of the Lord will have to be taken up by her. He has tried to convince her in every possible way but she has remained adamant and has refused to accept the flowers that he has presented her with love and affection.’

Thayar stood firm – ‘The Lord had done everything wrong but it now looked like he was passing on the blame game and trying to make me feel guilty’ she argued.
Nam Azhvaar who was a witness to the five rounds of intense debate for over an hour now intervened and advised Thayar to not insult the Lord anymore and to save him from further embarrassment.  And as a mark of respect to the greatest of the Azhvaars, Ranganaayaki Thayar at the stroke of noon relented, ‘Lord, I accept you and allow you inside my Sannidhi as reasoned out and directed by Nam Azhvaar.’

This historic debate showcases to the world the beautiful relationship between a husband and a wife, the difference of opinion and the fights that are an integral part of a long relationship and the adjustments one has to make in a relationship for it to succeed. 

This event also showcases the regard one must have for elders and the role they play in our lives. This can be seen from the fact that despite being angry and upset at Lord Ranganatha, Ranganayaki Thayar listens to the words of Nam Azhvaar and forgives the Lord and accept him once again. 

( A version of this featured in The Hindu Friday Review on 10th April)

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thiru Nallur Sundareswarar Temple

One of the Mada Koils built by Ko Chenganan
Lord Shiva provided darshan in a Kalyana Kolam to Sage Agastya - Temple for liberation from Kalyana Dosham

BRAHMMA VISHNU SHIVA INSIDE THE SANCTUM


Located 3kms South East of Papanasam and 1km from Sundara Perumal Koil near Kumbakonam is the Kalyana Sundareswarar temple in Thiru Nallur, a temple that has been praised by Appar, Sambandhar, Sundarar and Manickavachagar.

The fight between Vayu and Adiseshan
Vayu gets angry after adiseshan is praised as being better than him. Adiseshan says that he can cover Kailayam and threw up a challenge to Vayu to remove one stone from the Meru Mountain through his power. Vayu blew air as powerfully as he could. Everyone was in a shocked state and went to Lord.

As adiseshan turned his head for a fraction of a second, Vayu’s capitalised on this momentum lapse and his power sent several pieces scattering from the mountain. One piece fell here in Thiru Nallur. This is a swayambu moorthy.
              
Agastya gets Kalyana Kolam Darshan
The entire set of devotees of Shiva congregated in the North to witness the celestial wedding of Shiva and Uma Devi. The weight tilted the balance of the earth as the excess weight on the Northern side led to rising of the Southern side. Realising this imbalance, Shiva directed Sage Agastya to head South to bring about a balance between South and North.

As Agastya expressed unhappiness at his missing the celestial wedding, Shiva promised to provide a similar darshan in the place down south if he helped bring about this south-north balance during the period of his wedding.

Agastya reached Thiru Nallur and with an idol of Shiva performed pooja everyday. This idol is seen even today inside the sanctum south of the Swayambu Moorthy

In a thankful gesture, Shiva provided ‘Kalyana Kolam’ darshan to Sage Agastya here at South Kailasam. Also, seen inside the sanctum are Vishnu and Brahmma in a standing posture.  This is a special temple for the first Darshan of Vishnu, Brahmma and Shiva together. Ancient paintings are seen on the walls of the Sanctum.

Kunti Devi’s liberation from sin

Having thrown his first son into the river, Kunti was seeking liberation from the sin of having thrown her first son into the river. On the occasion of Maasi Magam she met Sage Narada who suggested that it was sacred to have bath on this auspicious day. Kunti invoked the blessings of Lord Shiva who brought the Saptha Sagara Theertham here at Thiru Nallur. In memory of this event, one finds the idol of Kunti in a posture of invoking the blessings of Lord Shiva.

The story goest that the ‘Magam’ began here and Maha Magam in Kumbakonam.

The famous Thyagaraja of Thiruvarur stays here
After having secured the idol of Lord Thyagaraja of Thiruvarur from Lord Indra, Musukanthan was directed to place the idol here for three days before taking it to his abode at Thiruvarur. Hence Thiru Nallur is credited with the historical event of a 3day pooja being performed for Thyagaraja before finally resting at Thiruvarur.

Thiruvadi Deekshithai for Appar
Seeking the Lord’s feet before his death, Saivite Saint Poet Thirunavukarasar (Appar) began his trip from Thiruvathigai and had darshan at Chidambaram, Sirkazhi and Thiruvidamaruthur. Pleased with his sincere prayers, Lord Shiva directed him to come to Thiru Nallur.  On reaching here, Appar received Thiruvadi Deekshithai with Lord Shiva placing his feet on the head of the great Saint Poet. In memory of this event, Shataari, which is placed on the head of a devotee as a blessing of Lord Vishnu in Perumal temples, is placed on a devotee at this temple as well. This placing of Shataari on the devotee is a unique feature at the Thiru Nallur temple.

Delighted at this gesture of Lord Shiva, Appar praised the Lord as வடபால் கைலாயம்  தென்பால் திரு நல்லூர்

He stayed here for many days singing praise of the Lord before he moved on to nearby places such as Thiru Palathurai, Thiru Karugavur, Thiru Aavur and Thiru Pazhanam. And finally he moved on from here to Thiruvarur.

Pancha Varna Display every day
The Swayambu Moolavar Idol changes colour five times a day every 2 1/2hours changing from Lotus colour to red to gold to green and finally to a colour as visualised by a sincere devotee in the evening. As he provides darshan in these five different colours the Lord is also referred to as Pancha Varneswarar. Hence it is said that visiting the Lord here and invoking his blessings is equivalent to visiting the Pancha Bhootha sthalam.

Architecture

This is one of the Mada Koils ( one where an elephant cannot reach the sanctum) built by the famous Chozha king Ko Chenganan, others include Thiruvanaikaval ( http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2014/12/thiruvanaikaval-jambukeswarar.html) and Nachiyar Koil (http://prtraveller.blogspot.in/2007/11/108-divya-desam-naachiyaar-koil-thiru.html).

During Malik Kafur’s invasion, the idols were kept in safe custody in the ground floor of the temple. To this day, the treasure room is found on the ground floor. One has to climb 10steps to reach the Sanctum at this temple. Ambal is believed to be a village Devathai as she remained here and protected everyone including the Lord during the Muslim Invasion. Kali is seen in a cool form here unlike her usually fiery posture.

Inscriptions
There are several inscriptions at the temple that date back to the Chozha period.


One of the inscriptions dating back to the rule of Rajendra Chozha refers to this place as ‘Niththa Vinodha Vada Naattu Nallur’, ‘Panchavan Mahadevi Chaturvedi Mangalam’ with the Lord being referred to as ‘Thiru Nallur Udaya Naayanaar’ and the main Vinayaka deity being referred to as ‘Agampadi Vinayaka’.

Each of the idols seen at this temple are also special. The Chathura Thaandava Nataraja is one not seen in any other temple.  

Festivals

10day Brahmotsavam in Maasi including a famous Chariot festival. Maasi Magam was celebrated in a grand way in memory of the event bringing the 7rivers here for Kunti Devi.

Vaikasi 7 city Procession – Visakam / Thiru Kalyanam
On the 12th day of the Visakam Festival in Vaikasi, Kalyana Sundarar in a Glass Palanquin with Sundaragiriyar opposite him makes a trip to nearby villages including Ranganathapuram, Kiliyur, Govindakudi, Aavur, Eri, Panathidal, Maligai Thidal, Mattiyam Thidal, Papanasam, Thiru Palathurai and Uthani. During this procession, Sage Agastya too accompanies the Lord providing darshan to the devotees.

However, with the swindling of the temple lands and the finances relating to the temple in the century gone by, these festivals in recent times have lost its grandeur.
Panguni Kali Amman Paal Kudam

Aani Amarneethi Nayanar Utsavam
Aadi Pooram Ambal Procession
Karthigal each of the Sundays Thula Snanam – 4 Theertham
Every Sunday Sanga Abhishekam
Margazhi Manickavachagar procession

The temple is administered and managed by Thiru Vaduthurai Aatheenam.

Quick Facts
Moolavar : Kalyana Sundareswarar
Ambal     : Giri Sundari
Praised by: All four Saint Poets
Time        : 730am-1pm and 5pm-730pm
Contact    : Kannan Gurukal @ 94881 10697
                  K Swaminathan (Kanakkar) @ 99521 71207
                  Venkatesan (Supervisor) 94444 41506

How to reach
Thiru Nallur is about 2kms South off the Thanjavur-Kumbakonam highway near Sundara Perumal Koil. Town Bus every half hour from Kumbakonam and Papanasam till Sundara Perumal Koil. Auto from there will cost Rs. 40. One can also get down at Uththani Railway Gate on the Kumbakonam-Thanjavur highway and take an auto (1km) to reach the temple.


This is under the control of Thiruvaduthurai Aatheenam.