Monday, December 29, 2008


Saint Manickavasagar... Thiruchendoor... Thiruparamkunram... Palani

Thiruvembavai Festival :

Awakening of the universe from its slumber
Kalabhooshanam Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

Hindu Religion functions to regulate the allocation of moral responsibility between self and others. The moral concept of wrong and right, just and unjust is covered by religious doctrines. Saivism introduced the concept of “belief in a just world” which means a world in which people get what they deserve and deserve what they get.

The humble expression of Saint Manickavasagar reveals the moral functions of faith in God. Further, the religious beliefs are associated with attributions of responsibility for justice. Thus faith in God helps to reduce anxiety over unjust situations and with the help of God, it is possible for him also to come up in life.

Though Saint Manickavasagar thought he was not a suitable person to be a devotee of God, yet God accepts him as his devotee. God is his father’ and Mother. In fact, all the hymns of devotional literature substantiate the role of Hindu religion as a means of reducing anxiety, providing understanding of death, attributing responsibility for justice and enhancing group solidarity.

Thus the function of religion in this regard is to help enhance the quality of life. According to great Saint Manickavasagar God is the Lord of the universe, God is the Supreme Spirit, creator of beings and ruler of the universe. Whatever manifests as being, goodness and power, all such in reality is an expression of some bit of his boundless energy.

St. Manickavasagar in all humility placed himself as His absolute bondsman when the growing love takes possession of him. He looks upon the Lord of the worlds with tenderness of a loving devotee and craves for the tender care and love of a father and mother in one.

Furthermore, the Thiruvembavai festival which is celebrated for ten days in all the Hindu Temples and homes commences during the rainy months of December - January. The chief figure of Thiruvembavai festival is Saint Manickavasagar with his sacred Thiruvasakam. The Saint’s life story “Thiru Vathaur Adigal Puranam” is read during these nine days. Early, in the morning of the tenth day, is the “Nadarasar Dharshanam” or “Aruthir” exposition.

During the “Thiruvembavai” festival special rituals are performed daily in all temples and Hindu homes. The day commences with the singing of Thirupalli Elluchchi Hymns awakening God from His Slumber (ie) “Emperuman Palli Elunta Arulaaye”. In the opening lyric Saint Manickavasagar recites that Lord Shiva as embodiment and personification of spiritual light and wisdom with neither a beginning nor an end.

In fact, this “Thiruvembavai” or the “Mystic song of the Maidens” is said to have been composed by Saint Manickavasagar for the use of maiden. During the rainy cold months of December - January the females of the village and city of all ages for ten successive days rise before dawn and perambulate the precincts, arousing their companions from house to house and proceeding to bathe in the sacred tank.

Indeed, their prayers are well expressed in the 10th stanza of the Saint Manickavasagar’s Thiruvembavai verses:

“Older are thou than the oldest of all

Newer of all that is new,

At thy Saint’s feet we in service will fall,

We are thy hand maidens true,

None but thy bondsmen shall call us their own,

Lord, we would none others wed,

We would be slaves at their bidding alone

So be our bliss perfected - Elorembavay”

In fact, there is also a mystic interpretation to the observance, in which the month of “Margali” (December - January) is considered the symbol of awakening of the universe from its slumber of involution. It is the dawn of the new creation of secular evolution. Further, the temple of Nadarajah in Holy Chidamparam draws large crowds of Hindus for Dharsanam and the Thiruvembavai poojas are performed at Thillai with great solemnity. Those who have visited the Holy Shrine during Thriuvembavai festival will know how the maidens song of the dawning is celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva and Sakthi in the month of Margali. The songs recited by these maids are full of praise for Lord Shiva true to nature and still more beautiful are the passages and comes across in the songs. God and Truth are synonymous: those who are spiritually inclined will read the songs discerning God, truth and Beauty.

Furthermore, it is difficult to pick or choose any one of the twenty songs as the best since all the songs are equally important. The first song begins with the praise of Lord Shiva (Represented by the light) who has neither beginning nor end awakening from sleep the maidens who are still sleeping sweet and yet clinging to their beds in the early hours of the morning and the curtain drops with the praise by Him to whom can be traced the creation, existence and dissolution of the whole universe including human beings. According to Saint Manickavasagar in “Thiruvembavai” and “Thiruvasagam” that Lord Shiva becomes accessible to the devotees whose hearts melt with tears while uttering or listening to His glory.

Saint Manickvasagar’s culture, philosophy, social consciousness and literary excellences are still seen in Tamilnadu. The mind that is attached to objects of enjoyment makes for misery while it fetches release when detached from them.

In fact, prayer and devotion have been watchwords to beckon people away from the path of misery, anguish, distrust and hate and lead us on the path of understanding.


Understanding Hinduism -10:

Thinking in Abstract terms
K. S. Sivakumaran

My understanding of Hinduism is limited within my understanding capability.

Having visited some of the neighbouring Indian cities for 40 days which included my voyage to Puttaparthi in the Andhra Pradesh, I returned to my native country as a little more informed of what the real life is in most pars in the subcontinent. Although my journey was in pursuit of understanding the varied cultures and lifestyles in the world through the medium of Cinema, I also benefited by learning to be spiritualistic.

In the first place, let us pose a question.

Has the humankind offered anything new in the field of Spirituality? I am afraid it’s none. It is the same story repeated all over in different forms in different times.

The general view is that the humans are the utmost beings of creation and that everything else is created for their use and enjoyment. In a way this is irrational thinking. A great thinker expressed opinion that if a cow becomes philosophical, it will see only a cow’s universe. And it will give a cow’s solution to all problems of life.

Similarly a man within limitations cannot be expected to know everything. And yet he cannot fold his hands and remain quiet. This is because he is the only being on the earth that has the capacity to think on abstract subjects. Some animals do think, but they cannot reason out things.

This additional faculty of reasoning and thinking in abstract terms produced among the humankind great philosophers, writers, artists, scientists and others of intellectual calibre. The authors of the Upanishads in the east and the Greek philosophers in the west were exemplary figures in this respect. Such people came to certain conclusions. They divided the humans into three categories of attributes: Body, Mind and Spirit.

We know what Body and Mind are, but what of Spirit?

Well, Spirit is nothing but the additional capacity to think in abstract terms. The Upanishads called it Brahman. This is also an abstract idea. Brahman is not a person. Since the humans who were incapable of understanding abstruse phenomena, (they could not understand anything beyond concrete things), a Supreme Being in the name of God with human qualities had to be created. This resulted in the formulation of several philosophies and religions, each claiming to be the exclusive possessors of eternal truth.

To understand and attain the Brammahood suggested by Sankarar, we have to indulge in abstract thinking at a very high level.

The world of senses has to be left behind. But Sankarar’s idea of Brahman appeals only to those whose minds are capable of giving up everything personal.

However, Ramanujan was not satisfied with Sankarar’s concept of the Brahman.

He said Brahman does not respond to human feelings like devotion, love and the like. Where Sankara saw ONE and ONE only, Ramanujan saw three. The three were God, World and innumerable Souls.

Most people in almost all religions subscribe to the view of Ramanujan.

I think Monism (that everything is ONE) is closer to my understanding and feeling.


God Murugan and his Six camps
Thilaka V. Wijeyaratnam

Said Jawaharlal Nehru in his Discovery of India, “Indian Mythology is richer, vaster very beautiful and full of meaning. I have often wondered what manner of men they were who gave shape to these brightest dreams and lovely fancies and out of what gold mine of thought and imagination, they dug them.” Why do Gods descend from their abodes in high heaven and incarnate on earth? Sri Krishna says in Bagwathgita, “To protect the good, subdue the evil ones, to establish Dharma, I incarnate on earth in every era.”

It is for this same purpose that Gods like Ganesha and Murugan manifested themselves as sons of God Siva and Goddess Parvathi. They are spiritual manifestations. God Murugan was manifested in the present Kaluyugam (era) to protect His devotees.

When Lord Murugan set out to vanquish Surapathman, His camp was put up at a place called, Thiruchendoor in Thamil Nadu. But why are these six camp sites for Him? According to the Sanga Literature, when one suffers from poverty, one who has got over that stage advises the former where and where there are generous Lords, and how to approach them and get their help. These are in record as six camp sites.

The first of these camp sites is Thiruparamkunram. This is situated about 5 miles south of Madurai then capital of the Pandya country. In Hindu Mythology it is said that once between Vayu-Lord of Winds and the great snake Aadiseshan there was a competition as to who was strong. Vayu uprooted one of the peaks of Mount Meru and cast it in Madurai. That became Thiruparam Kunram (kunram-rocky mountain). As Lord Murugan vanquished Surapathman, Indra was so pleased that he gave his daughter Theivayanai in marriage to Lord Murugan. The event took place in Thiruparankunram, says “Kanthapuranam.”

According to this “Puranam” a poet called Nakirar was challenged by another poet-who was no other than God Siva who took that form on behalf of a poor poet. Nakirar argued with Him and won. Later God Siva revealed Himself and Nakirar who had committed the sin of having argued with God Siva, performed a tapas by a pond, under a tree. Then he saw a wonderful sight. A leaf fell down-half of it was in the pond, the other half on land. The former changed into a fish and the latter into a bird. They pulled each other. Seeing it Nakirar neglected Siva Poosai.

Then a monster caught him and took him to a cave were there were 999 such prisoners. It seemed the monster was waiting for the number to be 1000 to eat them. The other prisoners told this to Nakirar and wailed. Nakirar prayed to Lord Murugan and sang a song on Lord Murugan. The spear in the God’s hand split the cave, killed the monster and freed them all. This incident also took place in Thiruparankunram. It is here in Madurai that the “Saravanapoihai” is found. This is here in Madurai that the “Saravanapoihai” is found. This is the speciality of Thiruparakunram. The second camp-site is Thiruchendoor. It is on the eastern coast of Thamil Nadu. According to Kanthapuranam it is from this sacred place that Lord Murugan attacked the Asura Soorapathman.

Legend has it that a Devadasi was an ardent devotee of Lord Murugan and daily she would be present for the evening Poosai, and leave the temple late in the night. It seemed one night when she was going along, two thieves waited for her to rob her jewels. Being used to chewing betel, this Devadasi took out a betel, and breaking the leaf stalk threw it down uttering “Muruga” before she folded the betel and stuffed it in her mouth. The leaf stalk was supposed to have changed into a “Vol-spear’ and thrashed and killed the rogues.

In 1803 one Lewshingham was the Governor of the district. Once he saw brahmins fanning the vikragam (idol) of Lord Murugan. He joked, “Does it sweat for your God?” “Yes”, said the brahmins, and removing the garlands and jewels covered the statue with a white cloth. In a short time, the cloth became wet and the sweat dripped in a stream on the floor. Much humbled the Governor became devoted to Lord Murugan and donated silver vessels to the temple. There are evidences to support the story.

One Shanmugakavirayar and his wife Sivakamasundari were blessed with a child, whom they named as Kumarakuruparan. But he was dumb from birth till five years. The disheartened parents heard of the famous Thiruchendoor temple and took the child there. They fasted at the temple. That night Lord Murugan appeared in a dream and with his spear wrote on the tongue of the dumb child and instructed him to sing poems. The dumb child woke up and sang poems in praise of Lord Murugan. Not only that, he spoke on Saiva Sithantham like a spiritually mature person giving pleasant shock to his parents. He later became a sage known as Kumarakurupara Swamy.

Though the temple is on the eastern coast, even tsunami of 2004 refrained from entering the premises in and around the temple, though it played havoc in neighbouring areas. Such is the power of the second camp site of Lord Murugan - Thiruchendoor.

The third camp site of Lord Murugan is the place called Palani or Thiruvavinankudi. Surrounded by many verdant hills this is like a basin with many natural resources.

This is the self-same spot that Lord Murugan chose to be when he had a confrontation over the ripe mango Sage Naradha brought to Mt. Kailas. It is at this site that Goddess Lakshmi also known as “Thiru”, the miracle cow of heaven Kamadenu - “Aa”, Surya (Inan), Ku (earth), Thi (fire-agni) worshipped Lord Murugan for committing some sin or other. Mother earth and Goddess Lakshmi were discarded by Lord Vishnu, Kamadenu for vanquishing the army of Sage Visvamitrar, Sun for being egoistic that he only sustains life, Agnideva who took part in the Yagam conducted by the Surathakshan. They were absolved of their sins and regained their positions. Hence the place was known as Thiru (Lakshmi) Aa (Kamadenu) Inan (Sun) Ku (earth) Thi (Agni) - Thiruaainankudi which metamorphosed into the present Thiruvainankudi.

Agastiyar was a very powerful sage. One day he commanded his disciple Idumpan to get two mountain peaks called Sivagiri and Sakthigiri to where he was for him to worship. Idumpan accompanied by his wife Idumpi went to Kailas and lifted the mountain peaks, tied one on each side of a pole, like a kavadi and carried it. He lost his way back. Lord Murugan taking the form of a king met Idumpan and brought him to Thiruavinankudi. He told him to rest a while. Idumpan put the burden down and rested. When he tried to carry the cavadi of the two peaks, he could hardly lift it off the ground. He looked round to see what the cause was and he saw a small boy in loin cloth on top of Sivagiri. Idumpan ordered him to get off. But the boy argued it belonged to him. Idumpan tried to attack the boy and fell down lifeless on the ground. When Sage Agastiyar and Idumpi appealed to God Murugan, Idumpan came back to life. Lord Murugan praised Idumpan for his devotion to his guru and made him his guard.

This incident started the tradition of devotees coming to Palani bearing a cavadi. Sage Agastiyar was supposed to have composed the three forms of the Tamil Language - prose, music and drama in his composition “Agastiyam” which is supposed to be the first book on Tamil.

From the fertile imagination of a poet arises the following poem. He addresses Lord Murugan:

“Your mother Parvathy was born daughter of the rich king Parvatharajan;

Your father is a close associate of the rich Kuberan Your maternal uncle is Lord Krishna - the strong man Who held a mountain as An umbrella for the people to crowd under And take refuge during torrential rain

His consort Mahaluxumy is the Goddess of Wealth

It is understood that all these come from parents to children

Why Oh Why then are you bereft of all possessions, and live here wearing a loin cloth only?

Then he himself finds the answer -

“You are one who gives everything for your devotees and have none for yourself. That is how great you are.”

And so ends the fame of Thiruvavinankudi. The other three camp sites would be in the next issue.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

SRI HANUMAN........SRI MURUGAN........!!!


Sri Hanuman Jayanthi Vizha
The Colombo, Dehiwela Sri Anjaneyar Temple Chariot festival and Sri Hanuman Jayanthi Vizha will be held on Friday 26.12.2008 and Saturday 27.12.2008 respectively.

Sri Hanuman is the embodiment and personification of physical prowess, of mental and spiritual discipline, intellectual uprightness, emotional balance and moral splendour.

According to Sage Valmiki, Sri Hanuman is the best of all characters. To him Sri Hanuman represented the most cultured youth of his times. He expressed maturity, intelligence, alertness, calmness, smartness, nobility, humility, honesty, sincerity, valour, boldness, devotion, respect, courtesy - all bundled up together. Sage Valmiki never missed an occasion to show how Sri Hanuman promptly responded to the needs of Sugriva, his master as well as to every spoken and unspoken orders of his Lord, Sri Rama.

His command over the language fascinated Sri Rama when he first introduced himself to his beloved Lord. He also exhibited extraordinary tenacity and sustained enthusiasm during the apparent failures he faced while searching for Sita Devi in Lanka.

After a long search when he was about to give up, he said to himself: “Enthusiasm is the root of prosperity and it is the highest joy; it promotes all endeavours and fulfils the actions for all beings, with enthusiasm I should put forth more effort.”

Sri Hanuman was praised as the best of the servants by Sri Rama. While he handed over the Chudamani, Sri Rama held it close to his heart and extolled Sri Hanuman as Purushottama. He is the best among men, who did much more than the different task entrusted by his master.

He was not only a true servant of his beloved Lord, but also for everyone who sought his help. Even as a messenger of Sri Rama, Sri Hanuman was very competent in communicating with Sita in Asoka Forest and devised some means so that Sita may listen to his words without any fear.

He addressed her in gentle words praising the noble qualities of Sri Rama. Hearing these words from Sri Hanuman, Sita was extremely delighted at the news of Rama. To Sita the heroic Hanuman appeared like the Asoka flowers and she was deeply amazed and took Sri Hanuman to be a formidable being.

The Hanuman, the effulgent son of Wind God, humbly approached Sita, worshipped her and said that he had come as a messenger at Sri Rama’s command.

Hanuman fully realising Sita’s thoughts about Sri Rama, began to speak in words pleasant to the ear, causing immense delight to her. He said that ‘Great Rama is spirited like the Sun and beautiful like the Moon. Everyone is warmly devoted to him. He is prosperous like Kubera and heroic like Lord Vishnu.

Further, in order to create confidence in Sita’s mind, Sri Hanuman gave a ring with Rama’s name engraved on it. Hanuman said that Sri Rama has made it and he had brought it for her confidence. He comforted Sita by saying that her sorrow would soon be over. Undoubtedly, Sri Hanuman was an envoy par excellence.

Furthermore, tradition sings of Sri Hanuman’s birth as a child of Vayu, the Wind God. However, his tremendous strength was born out of humility and surrender to Sri Rama. Indeed, Sri Hanuman is one of perfection, a personification of erudition, culture, competency and efficiency.

Sri Anjaneyar Temple which is dedicated to Sri Hanuman is situated at (Vihara Lane, Wellawatte), Sri Bodhirukkarama Road, Kalubowila, Dehiwela is a miraculous temple and thousands of devotees both Buddhists and Hindus visit this temple.

Sri Chandrasekara Swamigal of this temple is rendering remarkable spiritual service to the devotees irrespective of caste, religion and creed. The people from all walks of life and from all corners of Sri Lanka visit this temple during the Chariot festival and Sri Hanuman Jayanthy Vizha and pray to Sri Anjaneyar to receive His Divine blessings.

Furthermore, during the Chariot or Ther festival the statue of Sri Anjaneyar is decorated and illuminated and taken along the streets in a Chariot followed by Poojas and Bhajans. In fact, the Chariot symbolises human body and the statue of Sri Anjaneyar is the soul. The journey of the Chariot through the streets symbolises the progress of life.

This shows that throughout his life a man must control and guide his passions. These passions are the motive powers, the driving force of life, but unstrained and unguided they will wreck a man’s life. This is the symbolic meaning of the Chariot festival.


Sri Anjaneyar temple programme
ARUNA PONNAMBALAM Kotagala group corr.

Chariot festival and Sri Hanuman Jayathy Vizha of Sri Anjaneyar Temple of Colombo, Dehiwela will be conducted on December 26 and 27.

Programmes will be as follows: Tuesday 16 at 8.30 a.m. Sri Maha Ganapathy Pooja; 17: Navagraha Pooja; 18: Lord Shiva Pooja; Friday, 19: Lord Murugan, Valli and Theivani Pooja; 20: Sri Nagapoosari Amman, Sri Vairav Sri Mahakaali Pooja; 21: Sri Thanavantha Pooja; 22: Sri Rama Sri Lakshmi, Sri Seetha and Sri Anjaneyar Pooja; 23: Sri Maha Vishnu Pooja; 24: Sri Durga, Sri Luxmi, Sri Saraswathy and Sri Kuberaw Pooja; 25: Sri Panchamuga Anjaneyar Pooja; 26: Chariot festival. The procession will facilitate devotees to get the Holy blessings.

After returning to temple a special Wasantha Mandaba Pooja will be continued to the respective deities. 27.12.2008 (Saturday): 5.30 a.m. - Jayanthy Vizha - Early morning Theerathar ceremony (sea bath), followed by Sangapirekar special Abisekan using Valampuri Sangh (108 conch shells) and special pooja. Evening (5.00 p.m.): Vaddaimalai offering to Sri Panchamuga Anjaneyar. Guru Patha Pooja and Thiru-Uoonjat Pooja.

30.12.2008 (Tuesday): 4.00 p.m. - Vyravar Madai - Early Boolaings Pooja. Appreciable details can obtain from temple office. Temple committee has taken necessary steps for the ceremony.


Enters God Murugan into the fold of God Siva
Thilaka V. Wijeyaratnam

Hindu Mythology speaks of the destruction of the evil called ago which makes one forget the good and forget God too. The characters who are embodiments of ego are the Asuras who do a lot of tapes and penance and receive so many boons from God Himself. Once they get what they want, they forget the benign God and become fanatical.

Drunk with all the powers bestowed on them by God and feeling there’s nobody to check them they start ill treating mortals and Devas alike. Unable to stand the wickedness the Devas and mortals appeal to God Siva or Lord Krishna to save them.

One such Asura was Surapathman, who went on a rampage inflicting untold misery on the Devas, Sages and Layman. His wickedness was unbearable and Indra thought of appealing to God Siva to save them. But at that time God Siva was in Dyana - meditation and no one, not even His consort Parvathy dared to disturb Him. Indra told the other Devas they should request God Siva to create a son who could destroy the evil doer.

But they were worried as to how they could bring God Siva out of His state of meditation. Finally Indra called for Manmathan - the cupid in Hindu Mythology to shoot the flower decked arrow and disturb Lord Siva. Manmathan shivered at the thought of facing the wrath of God Siva disturbed. He hesitated. Indra and the other Devas persuaded him and he finally agreed.

With trepidation he went to the abode of God Siva and aimed the arrow at His heart. It struck God Siva as expected. Disturbed from His deep meditation God Siva slightly opened His third eye and looked at Manmathan with ire.

Manmathan was reduced to ashes. At this, Rathi, wife of Manmathan fell at the feet of God Siva and pleaded with Him to bring back her husband to life. God Siva told her, He would do so, but only he would be visible to her and not to others. So it happened.

Now Goddess Parvathy had been born as the daughter of a king called Parvatharajan. She, from infancy prayed to God Siva to marry her and take her back to Kailas - their abode. Once God Siva’s meditation ended, He agreed to take Parvathy unto Him as His consort and a great and grand wedding was arranged.

After the marriage God Siva made consort Parvathy to be on the left side of His body. While it was so, the Devas led by Indra worshipping God Siva told Him for the atrocities committed against mortals, Sages and Devas by Surapathman and beseeched Him to produce a son who would vanquish the Asura. God Siva agreed to grant them their wish.

Then from His third eye arose six sparks and God Siva commanded Agni-Lord of Fire and Vayu-Lord of the Wind to take the six sparks and leave it in the river Ganges. “She will take these to the pond ‘Saravana Poihai’ in Madurai, in Thamil Nadu. So, Agni and Vayu bore these six sparks and placed them in the Ganges, who carried them down to Madurai where the said pond was and is today too. Each spark found a lotus flower to rest on.

These sparks turned into babies. There were six nymphs called “Karthigai Penkal” who nursed these babies. God Siva told His consort Parvathi about the manifestation of the six babies. Goddess Parvathi hurried down to earth to see them. They were such cherubic babies that she hugged them all together. Lo and behold - the six babies merged into one with six faces and twelve hands. Goddess Parvathy and God Siva took this child with them to Kailas.

Now the Devas who were still suffering by the onslaught of the Asura went to Kailas and pleaded with God Siva to save them. God Siva smiled benignly at the young son Murugan and giving Him a spear (Vel), blessed Him and sent Him to fight Surapathman.

Surapathman was born to Sage Kasipar and Maya. His mother Maya advised him to perform a Yagam. Surapathman met the Guru of the Asuras - Suckirachari who blessed him and warned him that when he does Tapas to gain God Siva’s favour, the devas would try to obstruct him. He told him a mantra and told him to chant it while meditating on God Siva. God Siva would be pleased and surely grant Suran all the boons he asked for.

So Suran went northwards and choosing a suitable place settled down to perform Yagam. Though he did Yagam and then tapas for a number of years God Siva didn’t appear. He then decided to end his life. He jumped onto the sharp spear his mother has placed in the Yagam cavity and ended his life.

Seeing him dead, his brothers too decided to end their lives likewise. At this God Siva felt compassion for the breed. He took the form of a feeble old man and walked down staggering to their place and asked Surapathman’s brothers what was happening.

They narrated all that happened and said they had also decided to end their lives. At this the old man told them not to do so and promised to bring back Surapathman to life. Then he spread his hair. River Ganges gushed out and filled the Yagam cavity and Surapathman got up as though from deep sleep. God Siva revealed Himself-seated on the bull with His consort Parvathy Devi beside him.

Pleased with the penance, God Siva asked him what he wanted. Surapathman worshipped and praised Lord Siva and asked for him to be ruler of the three worlds and give him a strong body that cannot be destroyed ever.

He asked for immortality too. Of course in God Siva’s words there’s loophole which Suran and his brothers failed to notice. “You shall have all you wanted and you cannot be destroyed by anyone other than one of our powers.” Satisfied the Asuras worshipped God Siva and praised Him in so many flattering words.

Thus Murugan, manifested for a purpose to destroy egoistic Asura and save the Devas, sages and mortals, had to fight a most formidable enemy whose armour was the words of assurance by God Siva.

Intoxicated by the powers given to him Surapathman and the other Asuras of his clan went rampant committing every form of atrocity against the devas, sages and mortals. He subdued Indra and the devas and made them his slaves. He imprisoned Indra’s son Jeyanthan and tortured the devas.

Sri Murugan set out to conquer Surapathman. When the latter heard that the boy God was coming to fight with him, he laughed. He has got the boon of immortality and what could a young boy do? However when they encountered each other and engaged in the war Asura learnt that it was no small boy up against him.

He therefore tried to win by magic means. He took various forms like one with elephant face and finally he took the form of a mango tree. Lord Murugan with the spear split the tree into two halves. Humbled Surapathman accepted defeat.

One half of the mango tree changed into a peacock and the other half of the tree was transformed into a cock. Lord Murugan took the peacock as his vehicle and commanded the cock to be his standard. So ended the life of Surapathman.

In Murugan temples, six days following Deepavali, are observed as Kanthasashti - that is six days of fasting for Lord Murugan. The day after fasting ends, this fight between Lord Murugan and the Asura is enacted in the temple premises. This mythological story takes place annually in all Murugan temples. Both children and adults flock around to watch the drama, called, “Suran Por” - war on Suran.

Lord Murugan has many epithets.

Murugu means beautiful. Murugan means the beautiful one.

As the six sparks were carried by the river Gangadevi, He is called Kankeyan. As He was nursed by the nymphs “Karthigai Penkal” He is called Karthigeyan.

As He has six faces - Arumugam or Shanmuka.

As Devi Parvathy brought all six babies together He became Kanthaswamy.

Sivakumaran - the son of God Siva

As he has the Spear (Vel) as his weapon He is Velan, Velayuthan.

As He radiates rays of light He is Kathirgamar.

Kathir - rays

Mayura - peacock

Mayuran - one who rides the peacock

So is Mylvaganan.

Devotees of Lord Muruga choose such epithets to name their male children.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008



Karthikai Deepam
Karthikai Deepam is a festival of lights celebrated by Tamil Hindus on the full moon day of Karthikai month (November/December), which is observed in every home and in every temple.

This occurs on the day when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades) and purnima. This constellation appears as a group of six stars in the firmament in the shape of a pendant from the ear.

As usual, many legends and lyrical poetry have grown round this star. The six stars are considered in Indian mythology as the six celestial nymphs who reared the six babies in the saravana tank which later were joined together to form the six faced Muruga.

He is consequently called Karthikeya the one brought up by the Karthigai nymphs. Houses and streets are lit up with rows of oil lamps (Deepam) the evening of the festival day. This year it was observed last Friday November 12.

Feel of Karthigai Deepam
Rows of agal vilakkus (oil lit lamp) in front of every house... this is the image that at once comes to mind when we think of Karthigai Deepam - the festival of lights that is celebrated throughout Tamil Nadu during the month of Karthigai (November-December). Not many of us are aware that it is one of the oldest festivals celebrated in the State, perhaps even before people began celebrating Deepavali and Navarathri.

Also, unlike many other Hindu festivals, Karthigai is a Tamil festival and is celebrated in all the Tamil diaspora throughout the globe.

Festival of lamps
Karthigai is essentially a festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol.

It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity and joy. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals and festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai.

Mythological aspect of Karthigai festival
Lord Siva appeared as a huge flame of light before Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma (Hindu gods), who each considered Himself supreme and said that the matter could be tested if the two could search for Lord Siva’s Head and feet. Lord Vishnu took the form of a (varagar) boar and delved deep into the earth, Lord Brahma that of a (Annam) swan and flew to the top, Lord Vishnu failed in His search and returned.

But Lord Brahma, chancing upon a piece of ‘thazhambu’, a flower learnt from it that it had been floating down for thirty thousand years from Lord Siva’s head. He seized upon this and claimed to Lord Siva that he had seen the other’s top.

Lord Siva realised the falsehood and pronounced that there would never be a temple for Lord Brahma in this world. He also interdicted the use of the flower thazhambu in His worship. Lord Siva appeard as a flame, this day is called Maha Dheepam.

Karthigai festival in Tiruvannamalai hills is very famous. On Karthigai day a huge fire lamp is lit up the hill, visible for kilometers around. The fire (dheepam) is called Mahadheepam, Hindu divotees visit here and pray God Shiva.


How Pillayar came to be
Thilaka V. Wijeyaratnam

In one of their sojourns in space, God Siva and His consort Parvathy spotted a group of elephants - males and females on earth. Goddess Parvathy was fascinated by the elephant face. She told Lord Siva it’s like the word Aum in Tamil the pranava mantram. If they could have a child like that, they could be constantly viewing the symbol of pranava mantram.

And so Pillayar manifested himself and in Hindu Mythology he is considered as the elder child of God Siva and Parvathy. This fact is revealed in the thevaram (psalm) “Pidiyathanuru umai.” sung by Saint Thirugnanasambandar.

There are many distorted versions of how Pillayar came to be with elephant head. One is that God Siva in anger chopped off Pillayar’s head and when His Consort broke down with sorrow, He cut the head of an elephant and fixed it to His (Pillayar’s body). It is the most absurd and ridiculous explanation.

People who concocted this theory seem not to know that no Saiva God is blood thirsty - least of all God Siva the Supreme God who is compassionate and merciful. Why couldn’t such writers go through texts on Saivaism and the religious songs and write the correct story? Such stories mislead people of other religions and also Hindu children.

Time the Saivaite leaders and the department of Hindu Culture, the Siva Council, the Hindu Council and Hindu Congress correct such erroneous accounts through the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Refined people do not run down the religion or religious belief of the others.

There are many stories in Hindu Mythology of Pillayar. It is a given fact that even in Hindu Temples, the incumbent deity may be God Siva or Aadi Parasakthi or Badrakali or God Murugan, the first Poosai (worshipping with flowers - poo-flower) is done for Pillayar invoking his blessings. It is after Pillayar worship, Poosai for the other deities are conducted.

Once there were three evil men Asuras - who were embodiments of ago, who had built their own palaces - of silver, gold and iron. Their structures were called Thiripuram. As their wickedness both towards the Devas and mortals knew no bounds, Devas and mortals appealed to God Siva to save them.

So God Siva set out to put an end to the egoistic Asuras. As He left His abode, Pillayar was seated at the entrance. God Siva ignored Him and set out in His chariot. Pillayar was annoyed that He was ignored.

He broke the axle of the chariot. God Siva could not proceed. But He realised why it happened. He returned, appeased Pillayar and then set out. With one angry look and derisive laughter at the over-confidence of the Asuras He burnt the Thiripurams to ashes and destroyed the Asuras.

In another incident the Deva called Moon laughter at the figure of Ganesha. He cursed him to wane off. So Moon ran to God Siva for salvation. God Siva took the crescent Moon and kept him on his crown. He was pardoned and was allowed to get back his full form after waning off for 14 days.

Thus we see the waxing moon. In another incident, there was a prolonged drought. Sage Agastiyar had taken all the waters of a river that ran through Thamil Nadu into his Kamandalam - the brass jug the rishis carry with them to collect water for religious rituals. The people and the Devas appealed to God Ganesha to help. He took the form of a crow (kakka) and tipped the Kamandalm. The water spread out into a river.

As it’s done by the crow, the river was named Kaviri (Ka-crow, viri-spread). Now it has changed to Cauvery with the passage of time. Agastiyar annoyed, chased the bird. The crow changed into a small boy and ran.

The Sage chased him and catching him knocked him on the head. Pillayar took his original form and Agastiyar realised he had knocked God Pillayar on his head. The peni tent Sage begged pardon and the habit of devotees crossing their hands and knocking on their heads thrice is a reminder of the incident.

In Hindu Mythology there are so many stories of Pillayar.

Mythology is not the religion. Neither is it the essence of religion. Mythology should not be mistaken for Hinduism. Like morality plays the stories in Mythology teach people to choose righteous living.

Teach people to distinguish between good and bad, between right and wrong and gives lessons in humanitarian deeds. There are stories about Gods who help genuine devotees, desperate ones and prove the fact the Presence is always there to help the good and the sincere. Even animals in need are helped by the Gods.

Many would be familiar with the story of the ripe mango fruit and the competition between God Pillayar and boy God Murugan. Sage Narada is famous for involving two parties in the fight.

Though he does it out of mischief, finally he sees to it that all ends well.

Once he went to Mt. Kailas the abode of God Siva with a ripe mango and offered it to God Siva, which He gave to His Consort Parvathy. Both Pillayar and Murugan wanted the mango. God Siva told Sage Narada to solve the problem he created. Sage Narada told Pillayar and Murugan, “Whoever comes round the universe first will receive the mango.”

So off went Murugan on His peacock. Pillayar of course has only a rat as his vahana. What would be do? He looked worried. Sage Narada told Pillayar, “Why are you hesitating. Aren’t your parents your entire universe.

Go round them and claim the mango,” Pillayar did likewise and got the mango. Murugan came flying back on his peacock and when He saw the mango in Pillayar’s hand, flew into a tantrum and denouncing all He had, left in a loin cloth and settled on the hills of Palani in Thamil Nadu.

This mythological story gives a message to the children. Your parents are the first Gods for them. Worship them, respect them, revere them. How Murugan was appeased is another story.

Thus mythological stories which are often presented in the form of dance and dramas bring out the messages contained in them. The question often asked is why is Pillayar such a big figure having a rat as His Vahana. Mythology explains that in the story of a Kantharvan called Kiravunchan -

This Kantharvan once tried to seduce the wife of a rishi called Sabari. The Rishi caught him redhanded and cursed him to be a rat - the rodent that digs the soil and lives in a rat hole. The offender fell at his feet and begged pardon. The Rishi relented and told him, “In the hermitage (ashram) or Parasara Rishi, Lord Ganesha you will find. He will make you His Vahana.” As said Pillayar was there being cared for by Parasara Rishi.

This rat - rather mole was playing havoc in the garden of the Rishi. Unable to stand the destruction of the plants in his garden, the Rishi turned to Pillayar for help.

Pillayar sent his weapon to destroy the animal. It burrowed deep into the earth’s bowels. The weapon followed him and dragged him back. He fell prostrate at the feet of Pillayar and told his history. Pillayar felt pity for him and took him as His Vahana. That’s how says this mythological story, Pillayar has the rodent as His vehicle. The pictures depicting Pillayar on the rodent may make one think how could such a weighty figure ride a meek mouse.

The spiritual aspect is the picture represents Pillayar not in the physical form but in the Astral form which is weightless. That is the philosophy behind this story.

There are many spithets of Pillayar. Sage Viyasar was the one who told the story of Mahabaratha. He requested Pillayar to write it down as he related it. Pillayar agreed to do so on one condition - that Viyasar should not pause to think even.

He should continue to dictate the story non-stop. So Viyasar started to relate the story. Pillayar broke one of His tusks to inscribe the story on ola leaves. Since He has only one tusk he is known as “Ekathanthan”.

As He removes the hardships (vigna) in the life of His devotees He is called Wignesha.

Gana-Esha - God with elephant face.
Sithi Vinayaka- He brings success to those who pray to Him.
Pranava Rupa - One who has the face, the form of the Pranavamanthiram.
Vela Muha - Vela - Elephant Muha - Face
Iynkaran - Panchakaran - with five hands - the four from the body plus the trunk.
Uma Sudan - Son of Uma (Goddess Parvathi)
Pillayar Poosai is done before anyone sets out on any business.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008



Pilgrimage to Sabarimalai
A pilgrimage to Sabarimalai is highly efficacious. Intending pilgrims wear a Tulsimala on the first day of the Tamil Month of Karthigai (November) and observe vrata (austerities) for a mandala (40 days) before attending the Mandala Puja and for 60 days to have Darshan of Makara-Villakku otherwise known as Kanthamalai Jyothi.

During the period of Vrata, the devotees have to observe many severe austerities. They have to observe the strictest celibacy and worship Sastha morning and evening, each time after a bath.

They should sleep on the ground without mattresses and wear dark blue or black, Saffron clothes. Non-vegetarian food is strictly pohibited. Little girls and aged women are permitted to undertake the Sabarimala Yatra but grown up girls and young women are strictly prohibited. A male pilgrim is called Ayyappan and female is called Maligaipurathu Amma. They are considered to be the real representatives of Lord Ayyappan.

There are certain important things which has to be taken care while observing Vrata. The people wearing mala are not supposed to eat Non-Vegetarian Food. They should avoid taking Onion, Garlic, Drumstick in their daily food.

They should not even see women who are having their mensus, rather it is for the women to realise they are not supposed to come in front of the people who are wearing Mala. Furthermore the people who are wearing mala are supposed to follow Brahmacharayam strictly.

The way to the darshan of Lord Ayyappan starts through the Periya Paadei (long route) at Erumeli. At Erumeli it is a custom for the visitor who goes there for the first time (Kanni Ayyappan) to have his body tatooed, go on a mock-hunting and then dance round the prakaram of the Sastha temple at Pettah.

This peculiar custom known as “Petta Thullal” signifies that one must give up the love of the body and all false notions of dignity. Mock hunting signifies that all should subdue Kama, Krodha and such other vices that lie concealed within oneself before one enters the kingdom of God.

After walking 41 miles from Erumeli crossing Perurthodu, Kaalla Ketti, Azhuthamedu, Karimalai, and Periya annavattum, the pilgrims reach the bank of the river Pampa which is a fine resting place. The temple of Sastha is only four miles from the Pampa river. After worshipping Vinayaka, the pilgrims start climbing hills with great joy to have a darshan of Sabarimalai Sastha. This craggy hill is called Neellimalai. It is believed that those who do not have faith in Lord will utter his name ‘Ayyappa’.

The temple of Dharmasastha is situated on a high platform and there are 18 steps at the entrance to the temple. The significance of the 18 steps are believed as 18 traits of human life. They are as follows:

1. Animaa 2. Lakhima 3. Mahima 4. Eshathvam 5. Vashithvam 6. Prakaamyam 7. Bhoodhi 8. Ecchaa 9. Nillam 10. Neer 11. Agni 12. Vayu 13.Vanaam 14. Sathva Gunam 15.Rajva Gunam 16. Thamoo Gunam 17.

Vidhya 18. Avidhya. Only the pilgrims who have the Irumudi on their heads are allowed to touch the 18 holy steps. They break a coconut on the step corresponding to the number of their visit.

The pilgrims who have visited 18 times have to plant a coconut tree on the hill. The image of Ayyappa is mostexquisite work of art. He sits in the Vira Padmasana posture. His countenance is sweet and serene.

His forehead is adorned with Vaishnavite symbols. It is no exaggeration to say that the more one looks at the figure the more he wishes to look again. Many people get solace and mental peace by visiting the temple at Sabarimalai and hence the pilgrims to this sacred place are swelling in numbers year by year.

Origins of Ayappa
One day a king of Pandalam , whose territory was Sabarimalai , went hunting. While hunting, he saw a beautiful child along the banks of Pampa. Since the king and queen were childless, they adopted him as their son. Since he wore a blue diamond around his neck, he was called ‘Manikanta’. It was Manikanta, who would later be called Ayapppa.

Meanwhile, the royal couple were blessed with their own son. The queen, was very much in favor to install her own son on the throne.

So one day, the queen pretending to be ill, demanded the young Ayappa to go to the forest and bring the milk of the Tigress. She thought that Ayappa would never return from this journey. The young Aiyappa promised her to get the milk and went to the forest .

Here, he met Indra, who was being harassed by Mahishi, a demoness with the head of a buffalo. She had obtained a promise from Brahma that only the son of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu would be able to kill her.

At Indira’s request , Ayappa killed her. In gratitude, Indira directed his followers to take the form of tigers and tigresses with cubs to accompany with Ayappa and return to his palace. When the queen saw Ayappa with the tigers, she realised her mistake.

It was then that Ayappa revealed that he was God Sastha. At the king’s request, he took permanent abode on the Sabarimalai.



‘My voice is a blessing of Ayyappan’
The well-known Tamil devotional singer Chidambaram Thiyagarajah will release his new CD containing Tamil devotional songs on December 14, 2008 at Ayyangaran Hall in Kotahena at 4 pm under the patronage of Pon Vallipuram who is the chief trustee of the Mayurapathy temple. The theme of this CD is ‘My voice is a blessing of Ayyappan’. Swamy Ayyappan is the powerful Hindu Lord whose temple is situated at Sabarimalai, in Kerala.

The special feature of this releasing ceremony is the distribution of school stationeries and equipment to 150 needy students. A special pooja will be conducted by Deshabandu Sivasri Bala Ravishankara Sivachchariyar.

The CD with Ayyappan devotional songs will contain two songs about Mayurapathy Amman too. All the songs were sung by Chidambaram Thiyagarajah. Child singers Akshiya Thiyagarajah, and Kawsalya Thiyagarajah have also contributed. Popular musician M.S. Selvarajah has composed music to the tunes of Thiyagarajah. Lyrics by K. Selvarajah and S. Mohanraj.

The main singer Chidambaram Thiyagarajah is a well known businessman and a social worker. He has already released 10 CDs and several cassettes which contain more than 85 songs in praise of the fame of Swamy Ayyappan.

Thiyagarajah’s songs can be heard in the Ayyappan temple in Sabarimalai also. Next to the songs of world famous singer K. J. Jesudas, Thiyagarajah’s songs are played at Ayyappan temple during great Ayyappan season.


Hinduism and Iconography
Thilaka V. Vijeyaratnam

Some of my friends demanded, “who are you to give forms to God?” That is indeed a vexing question. After going through several books on the subject of Iconography, I can boldly answer the question. The Vedas say so. The Acharyas of Tamil Nadu who walked the earth from 5th Century AD to 12th Century AD conform it. What the Vedas said is accepted as ‘Vedavakku’ - the gospel truth by the Hindus. It is strengthened by the words of the Vaishnava and Saiva saints. All that they said is accepted unquestionably.

In the ancient days men lived in fear of the unknown - of the mystery of death. When heroes sacrificed their lives for cause, some symbols or icons were set up in their honour is a historical fact in human civilisation. Reference to the force of nature also led to deifying such forms to appease them. Usually such ‘Gods’ might have been represented by a heap of stones or pillars or even by crude figures. This, scholars say might have originated the science of Iconography. In Sanskrit it is referred to as Murtisilpasastra.

The Vedas described the Gods in a particular way, and they have been accepted, as people considered it as the revealed world of God Himself, confirmed by the great rishis, the sages who had mystical experience.

There is enough evidence to believe that the science of Iconography existed in the Vedic period.

Sivalingas and images of mother goddesses have been unearthed in the Indu Valley Civilisation. It can be surmised that Hindu Iconography has been an ancient science which existed even as early as 3000 BC.

Rigveda (8.29) mentions the Saga Tvasta, as an architect of the Gods. He was supposed to bind himself with diksha or initiation and certain vows. He had to lead a well regulated and pure life as in the prescribed norms - like in diksha - and repeat the dynasloka mentally and pray to the deity he need to sculpture, to reveal his or her form. The forms are revealed to him to work on.

He reproduced this form in stone or other material. The stones used were granite, scapstone (steatite) or marble. There are some images called Utsavanurthis (that are taken in procession) made of metal, precious stones, wood or clay. Those made of ivory are not considered as fit for worship.

Wooden images can be seen at the Jagannatha Temple at Puri (in Orissa) and the Tirivikarama Temple at Tirukoilur (in Tamil Nadu). The images of most of the Gods and Goddess, are in the standing posture (sathanaka).

Many images of Mother Goddess, of Ganapathi and Narasimha are sculptured in the sitting posture (asina). Only the status of Vishnu as Padmanaba and Banganatha are in the reclining posture (Sayana). Vedas and the realised saints describe the Gods on their vehicles (vahanas).

Lord Siva has Nandi (the bull) Vishnu has the garuda (eagle), Brahma has the Hamsa (white swan), Durga Devi has the Simha (Lion) and the Goddess is referred to as Simhavahini. Lord Ganeshar (Pillayar) has the Musaka (rat) and Lord Murugan Mayura (peacock) as His vahana. Most of these vahanas and the deities are based on Mythological Legends. Iconometry is specially important in sculpturing an image. The breadth, circumference, diameter and interspaces are all considered in the making of the Godly figures.

Another feature to be considered is the hair-dos-crowns, the poses and also the ayudams (weapons). Speaking of ayudams, the following are found in the hand of deities:

Trident (Trirusula) - Lord Siva and Devi. Chakra (the discus) and chang (sanku) - both of Vishnu.

The Vaal (sword) of Durgai. The Ambu-vil (bow and arrow) of Sri Eama.

Incidentally among Tamil Hindus there is a tradition of giving a gold chain with a pendant of the five weapons (the Panchayutham) on the 31st day of a new born baby. This is used like a Talisman for protection in infancy.

The brahmin priest performs certain rites, to bless the baby, the parents and the household and then gifts are given to the baby, the foremost of it being the gold chain with a gold pendant of the five weapons of the Gods: Lord Siva, Devi, Vishnu and Sri Rama.

Be that as it may, there are still other objects like this dumbel (udukku), a book, prayer beads, lotus and such like. From these objects one can find out which deity it is. Most of the Gods have four arms. Dhurga Devi has eight, ten or even eighteen arms. Lord Murugan has six heads and twelve arms and there is a mythological legend behind this form.

All these extra heads and extra arms are symbolic, indicating supreme power or supreme intelligence. The cross borne by Jesus was a symbol of his supreme sacrifice for the good of mankind. Symbolically it means so. Similarly all these extra organs also symbolise the supreme power and intelligence of the supreme God.

The image or as some call it idol serves only as an aid to worshipping God. Incongraphy is the starting point for an individual to slowly rise to the spiritual level when he/she can feel the Divine and see Him in all things big and small.

So the Hindus consider as gospel truth what the Vedas (rigveda 8.29) and the realised Saiva and Vaishnava saints said of the forms of the Gods and Goddesses.

Reference - Hindu Iconography by Swami Harshananda

Tuesday, December 2, 2008



Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar A religious reformer and eminent scholar
Kalabooshanam Chelvathamby Maniccavasakam

Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar (18.12.1822-05.12.1897) was deeply religious and was of the view that ‘service to man was service to God’. He served the Saiva religion, not because it was his religion but because he loved Lord Shiva. Even his service to the Tamil language was regarded by him as service of Saivism, because he thought that the study of Tamil was not an end but a means to love and serve God.

In fact, Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar was born on 18.12.1822, at a time when Sri Lanka had suffered three centuries of Western conquest multi-faceted in its manifestations and consequence - political, economical, cultural and psychological.

Indeed, the technics and preachings of Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar have influenced, inspired and transformed the Hindus of Sri Lanka.

He was considered as one of the greatest religious reformers like Ven. Anagarika Dharmapala and Ven. Gunananda Thera who sacrificed their lives for the sake of independence of Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar defended the values and virtues of his faith and opened the eyes of the people to the heritage that had been passed down to them by their forebears. He exhorted the Hindus to feel proud and worthy of their faith and language and the deep culture embodied in them. In fact, he was able to achieve his objective through the transformation of the heart of the people by the schools he established, by the pamplets and the books he published.

Blessed with a dialectical skill and a sharp logician mind, an oratorical ebullience combined with fearless and courageous mind, he was able to accomplish and achieve his objective and built round him a massive following who subscribed to the principles he extolled. Anyone who came within his magic appeal imlibed his crusading spirit and was moved by his lofty integrity and intense religious zeal.

In fact, Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar mastered the tenets of Saiva Sidhanda philosophy and acquired eloquence in speech and writing in clear and simple prose. Since he was a scholar in English and Tamil languages, Rev. Peter Percival employed him as a translator of the Bible which was considered to be the best translation and he was held in high esteem by Rev. Peter Percival.

Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar won high recognition in India, where he established himself for a time. He instituted a printing press and concentrated on putting out traditional Hindu religious literature in simple prose. The title of ‘Navalar’ was conferred on him by the head of the ‘Thiru Avaduturai Mutt’ in 1849.

Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan bestowed on him the immortal title of ‘Champion Reformer of the Hindus’.

Furthermore, he wrote copiously and delivered numerous discourses on the way to attaining eternal bliss at the feet of God. His Saiva Vina Vidai (Catechism) series served to catch young and instil into the minds of the children the way to an unblemished spiritual, physical and social life. In fact, he advanced the cause of restoring neglected ancient temples.

Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar established Hindu Tamil medium schools in Vannar Pannai in Jaffna town and in the sacred city of Chitambaram in South India. He, not only inspired the Hindu renaissance movement, but also fulfilled every single aspect of his mission in life which he has so clearly set before himself.

A series of events of great significance took place soon after the passing away of Arumuga Navalar in 1879, all of which bore his stamp.

They are the establishment of the Saiva Paripalana Sabai (Society for the Conservation and Development of Saivism) in 1888, the publication of the ‘Hindu Organ’, an English language newspaper in 1889 for the propagation of Hinduism and its Tamil langauge paper ‘Inthu Sathanam’ shortly thereafter, the opening of the Jaffna Hindu College in 1890, which is a landmark in the history of Hindu education in this country and the inauguration of the Hindu Board of Education in 1924.

The inauguration of the Vivekananda Society in Colombo in 1902 with branches in some provinces and the subsequent opening of the Ramakrishna Mission Centre in Colombo in 1930 have not only helped to propagate Hinduism in Sri Lanka, but also to harmonise relationships among the various religious professed by the people. One of the aspects of Hindu revival since Arumuga Navalar has been the restoration of a number of Hindu temples.

Undoubtedly, Sri La Sri Arumuga Navalar was a scholar and author, teacher and preacher, exemplar and reformer, mighty genius and indefatigable worker, lover of Tamil, Saivism and God.

He dedicated his whole life in the service of humanity and the whole of Sri Lanka was his home and all human beings were his brethren. He aimed at bringing peace, harmony and unity into the society.


Hindu perspective Correct and incorrect
Thilaka V. Vijeyaratnam

The sixty three Saiva Saints and a few others who came later, and the twelve Vaishanava Saints, the hagiography of six of the famous ones discussed previously would have brought the message that a God exists and he has forms although he is one. The Vedas speak of the forms of these Gods.

Saint Thirugnanasambandar saw Lord Siva when he was just three years old and described him to his father in a Thevaram (his first one). The outpourings are as follows:

The with thodu in the ear (thodu - earstud)

With a pure white crescent in his crown

And ash smeared on his entire body and riding a bull

Has stolen my heart away

He abideth at the renowned Erahmapuram

Where Brahma is said to have worshipped Him

There may be skeptics who may doubt a child of three singing a verse so beautiful and meaningful. If Mozart could compose and play music at four years, and if Beethoven (though deaf) could compose three sonatas when he was twelve, why couldn’t this young child compose a Thevaram? Believe in Mozart, believe in the child saint too. In Tamil Hindu parlance it is “Vittakurai, thottakurai.” What was not completed in the previous birth follows up in the next birth too.

Individuals who have reached such maturity in one birth continue it to the next birth. The phenomenon is clearly explained in Hinduism.

Devas are celestial beings. Indra is the head of the Devas. The Vedas speak of “Mupaththu Mukkodi Devas” - 330 million Devas. We are familiar with only a few, like the Sun God, Moon, Indra - Lord of Thunder, Varuna - Lord of the rains (water), Vayu - Lord of the Winds, Agni - Lord of Fire and Yama - Lord of Death. These Devas are believed to be not of equal status as God and it is incorrect to refer to the God as Deva and Kovils as Devalayas. So far there is only one temple for a Deva in India - the temple of the Sun God.

It is at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. Temples are rarely built for Devas. It is indeed sacrilegious to bring down the Gods to the level of the Devas.

However, the millions of Hindus the world over and the entire Pantheon of Hindu Gods will magnanimously overlook such delegatory reference to the Hindu Gods and temples as it’s done out of ignorance.

There are a few unfair treatment of Hinduism and Hindu Culture.

One is the dance of Lord Siva. It is divine and to represent this dance as a comic caricature is in bad taste, and it does offend the sentiments of Saivaites - Siva worshippers.

If the Siva Thandavam which consists of 108 Karanams or poss of these dances have been studiously followed by these who want to imitate same (as imitation is the best way of admiration) it would much appreciated if the prisine glory of the art is preserved. Let not the Ananda (happy) Thandavam (dance) be an “Alankola” (ridiculous) Thandavam.

One could seek a proper guru to enlighten oneself on this wonderful cosmic dance of creation, protection and destruction of evil and granting grace by God, and letting the individual soul merge with the cosmic soul. This is the deep-rooted principle of Siva Thandavam. Anyone is entitled to learn this provided it is done with a sense of dedication.

And so be it!


Kandashashti celebration in Kegalle
B. W. Eheliyagoda Kegalle special correspondent

Kegalle Sri Kathiresan Hindu Temple held its annual “Fasting Celebrations,” recently amidst a large gathering of Hindus and Buddhists from Kegalle district participating in the relevant ‘Poojas’ or offerings to deities.

It was noted that a large segment of plantation workers from Kegalle district were present with their families at the festival.

The Hindu Priest of the Temple Brahmma Sree Sivasangar Kuruppal officiated in the ceremonies conducted at the temple blessing all those people who were present there. The Hindu Priest Brahmma Sree Sivasangar blessed the three forces and the police and the Government, too, to be successful in all their united efforts to bring peace and prosperity to the country.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Religion and Science I have been reading with interest, the ongoing discussions in ‘The Island’ on science and religion and I write to add yet another perspective.

Some basic realities which we need to recognise include these facts:

1. All human beings have a core belief system. One believes that man was created and another believes that man evolved from lower forms over billions of years. One believes in God and another believes that there is no God. One believes in rebirth after death while another is convinced of "no return to this life" Most religions teach two destinations/end results in the after life naming them nirvana/sansara, heaven/hell and so on. It is due to a belief system that a human being is able to destroy himself (suicide) and others (murder) The ability to discern good and evil is a reality we all experience. Our beliefs have grown through input from education, media, experiences, books of religion like the Bible, Koran, Dhammapada, Veda and more. During the course of life, beliefs can change.

The laws governing this universe have already been there from its very beginning. Science is periodically discovering these laws which govern the physical natural realm we see around us and to which we relate through our 5 bodily sense organs. Our self awareness or personality, is the sum total of our logical and analytical thought processes leading to desires and emotions. This is called soul/mind, intellect and the seat of reason. Subjects like Physics and Mathematics and many others are the result of the discovery of what is already in existence.

Religion is associated with discovering the laws which govern the spirit realm, the workings of which are largely in the unseen but still very real. In spite of the perceived subjectivity associated with various religious expressions of man, as opposed to the objectivity and consistency of science, neither religion nor science works haphazardly. We know that the many laws which govern the universe were not a product of man’s intellect. Man is only discovering what already exists. We know that in the area called gravity, there is only one force named universal gravitation affecting all, holding even the moon in orbit. If this planet earth which has no foundation but is suspended and spinning in space, gets erratic and inconsistent, our bodies would in all probability disintegrate in outer space. Similarly, in spite of our many and varied religious beliefs, we know that only one spiritual law which is already in existence will eventually apply to all of humanity. The determining factors in this law would involve our conscience with its sense of right and wrong and morals, together with a flow of intuitive thoughts not our own, with inspiration and spiritual communion from a source outside of ourselves. Our human experience is that our rational thinking has a limit. When I need electricity or water I will connect with the Electricity Board or the Water Board. So when I need inspiration, I need to connect with that source, being fully aware that it needs to be good and not evil. A tsunami can only leave devastation behind it and not any form of order. The aftermath of evil deeds is destruction. My mind with its rationalism cannot create these qualities, but only discover them. Human reasoning alone cannot eliminate evil.

I quote from the biography of two scientists whose contributions are found in books of Physics and Mathematics and hence widely known to students. They reveal their own religious beliefs which led to scientific discovery. No doubt there are many others, and very specially in our country.

Isaac Newton saw an apple fall directly to the ground without going sideways and formulated the law of gravitation and later linked it to universal gravitation. In aerodynamics, when a force exceeds gravity, this law of thrust helps a plane to get airborne. Later on men went even to the moon. At Cambridge University by the age of 28, after dealing with planets and comets, Newton took to theological studies and concluded that "the world was created by a God that designs along rational and universal principles."

Albert Einstein, whose scientific discovery of the Theory of Relativity which gained him the Nobel prize, speaks of quantum phenomena or the energy transfer from light rays that activate electrons in a substance. We need only to stand in the sun to know that these energy jumps are real. He was lying on his back on a grassy slope, meditating on what it would be like to ride in a ray of sunlight, when the Theory of Relativity came to him intuitively and spontaneously. He later proved it with a mathematical formula. In what is called cosmic religion, he concluded that the natural and spiritual are a meaningful unity. He saw no logical way to discover elemental laws except intuition for the order lying behind the appearance.

In short, despite our many religious beliefs, only one law can apply to all of humanity and it may be called the central truth. Even here some will believe that truth is relative while others will believe that truth is absolute. Religion and the belief system operates at many different levels in the spirit, but it is our mind with its logical and analytical processing that can communicate the benefits of both science and religion. This will help us to live accordingly, since we are both spirit and mind and also body. We can have religious beliefs in the spirit, and still be scientific in our minds and thought processes, and at the same time be healthy in our bodies, but our spirits and minds are closely interwoven and affect our bodies. There will be increasingly more harmony, happiness, peace and inspiration to make value judgments within us in the spirit/mind, specially in times of stress, traumatic experience, death, natural calamities, financial collapse and disaster, if and when our core beliefs come into alignment with the one central truth that will both now and in the future apply to all human beings. When our rational thinking is guided and inspired by such beliefs, hope can be rekindled, the quality of life improved, leading to fulfilment and a sense of destiny both here and the hereafter.

Ranee Perera
Religion and science: Can they be separate? Professor Carlo Fonseka’s article on religion and science published in the Island Midweek Review of 5th November 2008 is a welcome a contribution to a much discussed issue.

Prof. Fonseka’s view is, "If science concerns itself with how nature works and religion concerns itself with why the Universe is the way it is as discovered by science, conflict can be largely avoided". Very true; especially because religion concerns the spiritual aspect of human existence.

Yet, a careful study of the two realms over the years, show when scientific discoveries were made and theories propounded on the available evidence, scientific knowledge increased and touched other areas of knowledge.

The best example is Galileo Galilei. When Galileo was experimenting with his telescope and attempted the study of the universe he had the least intention of repudiating any religious thesis. He upheld the Copernican view that the earth was not the centre of the universe. The view held about the universe at that time was that the earth was the centre and the universe was finite and unchanging. Galileo’s contradiction of this view is a clear instance of how the expansion of scientific knowledge touches religion.

Next is Isaac Newton who laid the foundation for modern physics. His contribution to the understanding of the physical world is praised by Einstein as "perhaps the greatest advance in thought that a single individual was ever privileged to make." Yet, Newton’s understanding of the physical world was influenced by his religious beliefs." In the Newtonian view, God had created in the beginning the material particles, the forces between them, and the fundamental laws of motion". Certain aspects of the physical world as the gravitational influence of the planets on each other observed by Newton were not further investigated because he believed God was always present in the universe to correct irregularities. Thus, Newton’s experiments and thinking were influenced by his religious beliefs. The world had to wait for Einstein to push Newtonian physics still further.

Another instance when science and religion can mix is not due to religious beliefs but through scientists’ efforts to relate science to religion. Fritjof Capra, a physicist was moved to explore the parallels between modern physics and eastern mysticism. This interest sparked off as a result of an experience he had while sitting by the seashore. He says he saw "cascades of energy coming down from outer space in which particles were created and destroyed in rhythmic pulses... I felt its rhythm and I heard its sound... I knew that this was the dance of Shiva, the Lord of Dances worshiped by the Hindus". With that experience he ventured to explore the connection between physics and eastern mysticism, resulting in the book, "The Tao of Physics".

In this manner, it is inevitable that science and religion tend to be interwoven.

Prem Rodrigo


Thursday, November 6, 2008



World Saiva Council stands for progress and welfare
Kalabhooshanam Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

The World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka branch) held a seminar at Wellawatte Ramakrishna Mission hall, Colombo - 6 recently.

Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Devasthanam hoisting the Nanthy flag. President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka branch) K. Thayapasan, Dr. M. Kathirgamanathan, Secretary of the WSC (Sri Lanka Branch) and “Vidaikody Chelvas” Sinnadurai Dhanabalan look on.

It was presided over by K. Thayaparan, President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) on this occasion Dr. K. Somasundaram, Consultant of the National Institute of Education, Nithyawathy Nithyanandan, Research Officer of the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs, Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of the Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Thevasthanam, A.R. Surenthiran, President's Counsel and President of the Vivekananda Society, Dr. K. Nageswaran, Senior Lecturer of the University of Sabaragamuwa, M. Shanmuganathan, Assistant Director of the Department of Hindu Religions and Cultural Affairs, "Vidaikody Chelvas" Sinnadurai Dhanabalaa, K. Mahananthan, former Secretary of the Ministry of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs addressed the gathering pertaining to several subjects with the view to promote Saivism and Saivasiddhanta philosophy for the progress and welfare of the Saiva community not only in Sri Lanka but throughout the world.

Dr. M. Kathirgamanathan, an indefatigable Secretary or the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) made elaborate arrangement for the success of this seminar.

Being born in this world of material pursuits, the Divine purpose of life is often forgotten and needs to be constantly reminded of the original purpose and path. Inforactical terms when we do not lead a life of spiritual pursuit, then we are merely prolonging the sufferings by choosing to remain in a life of ignorance.

Therefore, in addition to fulfilling our responsibilities, one should also be constantly involved in the quest for God's grace by performing our duty righteously, reading spiritual literature, spiritual discussions, doing service and most importantly reflecting upon life's experience and constantly seeking His grace for illumination.

K. Thayaparan, President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) addressing.

Dhanabalaa, Vice-President of the World Saiva Council (Sri Lanka Branch) who addressed the gathering on "hoisting of Nanthy flag on Maha Sivarathri Day said that Nanthy flag symbolises Lord Shiva or Dharma. He further said that Saivites from time immemorial were told to govern their lives by the Norms of Dharma which comprehends all the excellences which make for an ideal humanity. In fact, the hoisting of Nanthy flags in temples, religious organisations, schools and working places will definitely make everyone to receive the Divine blessings of Lord Shiva. As such, the hoisting of the Nanthy flags particularly on Maha Sivarathri Day will undoubtedly bring all the religions of the universe under on umbrella for peace and prosperity.

Pon Vallipuram, Trustee of Mayurapathy Bathrakali Amman Devasthanam emphasised that Social service is of paramount importance on the part of the temple authorities. It is through social service only we will be able to receive the Divine blessings of Almighty God. That was the only reason the great "Swami Vivekananda" said that before flooding India with political ideas, it is better to deluge the land with social, cultural, artistic and spiritual ideas. Vallipuram further said, that Hindu Araneri Schools are rendering yeoman service to the children by way of teaching religious ideas and Dharma which are very essential for the moral, spiritual and physical development of the child.

Mrs. Nithyawathy Nithiyanandam, Research Officer of the Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs explained very clearly the development and promotion of Saiva Religion in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and the great scholars who sacrificed their life for the spread of Saivism in Sri Lanka. She explained even great Sinhala kings were very much involved in the promotion and propagating of Saivism in Sri Lanka and they gave due place for all the religions of the country. These kings were highly respected and held in high esteem by the people since they believed in Dharmic way of life.

A.R. Surenthiran, President's Counsel and President of Vivekananda Society explained in detail the laws and regulations pertaining to the Temple administration. Indeed, he enlightened the audience on the laws governing the administration of the Temples which was greatly appreciated by everyone. Dr. K. Nageswaran, spoke "whether Archanai could be done in Tamil?" He said that it could be done in any language as long as it is done with devotion. He quoted various examples to clear the doubts of the devotees.

The seminar was of great success since the World Saiva Council stands for the truch that pati, pasu, pasam are eternal and uncreated. It also emphasised that all over the world that saivites should come together to bring about the renaissance in Saivism, so that it is suitable to the modern world.


U n d e r s t a n d i n g H i n d u i s m - 9

Is Life an Illusion, Dream?
K.S. Sivakumaran

Iam trying my best to the best of my understanding to explain the non-Hindus certain essentials of the great religion Hinduism.

Hinduism, as we know could be broadly divided into two categories.: Vedantam and Siddantham, as they call in Thamil. Most South Indians and Lankans and others in other countries belonging to the Thamil community are Saiva Siddanthis.

The major six sects as pronounced in Hinduism are: Saivam ( those who worship Siva), Vaishnavam (Vishnu), Saaktham ( Shakthi), Ganapathiyam (Ganesh or Pillayaar), Kaumaaram ( Kumaran or Murugan or Kanthasamy or Subramanian), Chauram (Choorian). There other minor deities in Hinduism like Lakshmi, Saraswathi and others.

Most of us belong to either one religion or the other. We try to be religious people, but only a few are truly religious. We cannot expect a person who is worldly in living to be genuinely religious. I for I could not afford to be wholly religious.It would be suicidal. I have no alternative but to ignore the society and lead a life without conflict within me and without it.

But all religions preach morality and ethics. They say renunciation in and out is absolutely necessary. Is it possible for all? But sages have succeeded in this sphere.

First of all internal renunciation is essential. If that happens it would be automatically reflected externally. External renunciation without internal renunciation would breed hypocrisy. It will not serve any purpose. However, the more we renounce, the less bondage we have. All bondage hangs on Ego. If we drop the ego, every conflict ceases.

We then lead a natural and contended life facing and solving problems as they appear. To the person who has renounced there is hardly any problem to solve. Problems crop up only when there is dual feeling depending on a past and future. When that feeling is completely absent incidents become incidents only.

To the truly religious person there is no past or future. It is the present that matters. Such a person will only be a witness unaffected by any kind of event. Enjoying a sunset or even starving for a day will not have lasting impression on his mind.

Let's digress for a moment.

We are responsible for the evils in the society. We suffer on account of them. All imaginable evils are embedded in the very society we create. In another level, from birth to death life is an eternal conflict for all of us. Conflict in mind and conflict in the material world. We deceive ourselves and the world at large.

It is a life of hypocrisy. If we are not prepared to reform ourselves, it is impossible to reform the evil society. This society is making impossible demands on us. The more particular a so-called civilised society is the more evil are the people living in it. Even when people know this, they do not have the moral courage to denounce or condemn it. What does the practical person does? He condones everything that is evil.

The practical person and the religious person remain unaffected by all that we call good or evil. He finds no meaning in heaven, hell, karma, rebirth and all that we are frightened of. Such persons think that what happens around them are really wishful projections of their own minds. A religious person continues existence as an individual without any reality for him.

According to the Hindu, this is Maya (Illusion). But what is Maya? It is primarily ignorance, a mist, a darkness, an illusion - one thing appearing as another.

Once the source of every phenomenon is 'realised' he feels that there is no purpose of studying the phenomenon in all details.

The Hindus claim that they have traced the appearance of everything to one source. They call that Bramam. They have labeled the mind also as a Matter. The only difference it has with other materials is that the mind is finer.

Persons can identify themselves with their bodies, minds, souls and yet transcend all the three stages of life when they could be practically 'quality-less'

It is the identification with qualities that brings bondage. The realisation that a person is none of these see them 'free'

The world and all its fascination hide the reality. But this 'Reality' disappear when the person is 'realised' or awakened.

That is why the sages called this life a ' Dream'. In a dream, do we not perceive without eyes, hear without ears, speak without a mouth enjoy, suffer without a body? Further do we not doubt, question, judge and answer in a dream? Similarly life is a dream. And death is like a slumber. So said the sages.


Hindu Saints and the Bakthi Cult - 8 Vaishnava Saints
There are about 12 Vaishnava Saints who are referred to as Aalvars. They are: (1) Poihaiyar, (2) Poothathar, (3) Peyar, (4) Thirumalisaiyar, (5) Kulasekara Perumal, (6) Vittusithar, (7) Kothai Nachchiyar, (8) Thondaradi Podiyar, (9) Thirupanar, (10) Thirumangai Mannar, (11) Sadagopar, and (12) Madurakavi.

The subcontinent at that era boasted of seven leading cities, namely (1) Ayodya, (2) Madurai, (3) Mayay, (4) Kasi, (5) Kanchi, (6) Avanthigai, and (7) Dwarakay. Of these Kanchi was an exceptionally beautiful and well developed city.

There were Siva temples and Vaishnava temples in Kanchi. Among the Vaishnava temples was a holy shrine called Thiruvaha pond.

The Vaishnava saint Poothathar also manifested himself in a flower called Kurukuththi flower. He grew up to be a highly learned persons, but above all he renounced worldly life and spent all his time on meditating on Lord Vishnu. He sings that his one purpose in life was to serve God.

Peyar was another Vaishnava saint who is said to have manifested himself in a blue lotus that was found in a well near a Vishnu temple. Like the former two Vaishnava saints Peyar too was well versed in studies. His heart was full of devotion for Lord Vishnu. He would think of Lord Vishnu and shed tears of deep devotion. He was crazy over Lord Vishnu. So he called himself Pitha (lunatic) and Peya (fool). He would sing the praise of Lord Vishnu and dance in ecstasy.

It so happened, the three saints went each one on his own to a sacred place called Thirukoviloor. At dusk, tired out after singing and dancing, Poihaiyar went to a pilgrim's rest and slept in a narrow corridor. Poothathar followed next. He also came to the same place and requested for a little space for him to rest. For which Poihaiyar said, "Swami, in this place only one can sleep, but two can sit. Let us sit." So both of them sat down. The third saint Peyar also entered the resting place and begged for a little space.

Poihaiyar said, "Swami, one can sleep, two can sit, if there are three they can stand." So the three of them stood in that little space. They got to know each other and were pleased to note they were all ardent devotees of Lord Vishnu. Just then by the will of Lord Vishnu there was a heavy rain, and Lord Vishnu too unseen by them joined them making the place congested. The three saints didn't understand why it was so uncomfortable.

They felt a fourth person there. The saints with their ghana tried to find out the reason. To their great joy and happiness they saw before them Lord Vishnu in all his glory. They forgot themselves and sang songs in praise of Lord Vishnu. Their joy was boundless. In their ecstatic state they kept singing and posey gushed out like an unceasing cascade. Each one sang 100 songs. These songs are referred to as Pasarams sung on Lord Vishnu.

Thirumangai Mannar
As the name suggests the fourth of the Vaishnava saints was a king. There was in Chola country a young couple called Allinadar and his wife Vallithiru. Allinadar was the commander of the Chola Army.

In due course a son was born to them. The parents named him Neelan. From the time he was five years old, Neelan's father took unto himself to educate him. He excelled in studies and also in the marshal arts. The king having heard of his powers got him down and made him chief of one of the army brigade.

There was at that time a pulavar - poet who had beaten all other poets in his talent for composing poems and was ready to challenge any other poet. Neelan with his deep knowledge of the Tamil language took up the challenge and by his beautiful poems defeated him.

The old poet denounced his title as the leading poet in favour of Neelan. The king too rewarded Neelan, for his poetic victory.

The Chola king was so taken up by Neelan's courage, and other abilities that he gave one of his states Alli Nadu to him and made him king. Neelan was of course a vassal to the Chola king.

Meanwhile a celestial nymph called "Sumankalai" was out with her friends around the Himalayas. At open place Sage Kapilar was teaching his disciples about Lord Vishnu. One of the disciples was of a freakish build that "Sumankalai" laughed at him. Sage Kapilar was annoyed and cursed her to be born a mortal and marry a man on earth. Sumankalai begged him to forgive her. The Sage replied, "Do not take this as a curse. A very good thing will happen by your being born on earth."

This beautiful woman with her celestial companions was bathing in a pond and see ing a beautiful blue lotus stopped to admire it. Her companions left Sumangalai who took the form of an infant and lay on the blue lotus. She was found by a physi cian who took her home to his wife. He thought it was a gift from God to him and his wife who were childless. They called her Kumudavalli as she was found on the Kumudam flower.

When she came of age, the parents wanted to get her settled. They expressed their desire to her. She replied, "Father I'll reveal the secret of my birth to you." She then proceeded to relate how she came to be on a flower. Kapilar had told her one Parakalan (who was no other than Nelson) would seek her hand in marriage. Then Kumudavalli should agree to marry on two conditions. One is that Parakala should become a Vishnu devotee and secondly daily he should feed a thousand Vishnu devotees. "He will himself come to you", said Kumudavalli.

While this was happening in the physicians household, people who heard of this young maiden have told Parakalar about her beauty and sweet nature and suggested he should marry her. And Parakalar set out with his retinue to the physician's house.

As he headed the mansion of the physician, he saw the beautiful damsel in the balcony and concluded she be the woman he had come for. Kumadavalli too saw his and decided no other but Parakalar would have such a personality. Parakalar was received courteously by the physician and his wife. He was introduced to Kumudavalli and the latter laid down the conditions for marriage. The young king agreed to the conditions and the marriage took place.

After a few days Parakalar went with his wife to Alli Nadu. The king kept his word. He became a Vishnu devotee and fed a thousand minstrels who sang the praise of Lord Vishnu.

While he was busy with this duty spending all the money in the coffers to feed the minstrels he forget to send his bondage tax to the Chola king. The king sent messengers wit an order. Parakalar chased them away. The Chola King sent an army. Parakalar defeated them.

Finally the king himself came with the army. At the battle field Parakalar fought them valiantly, and came to face the king. The king asked him, "Is this the way you show your gratitude to me who helped you and made you a king of one of my states." To which Parakalar replied, "I believed as I should in a battle field. Hereafter I'll not fight" and allowed himself to be taken prisoner. In the prison, Parakalar prayed to Lord Vishnu to help him. Lord Vishnu appeared in his dream and told his there was enough wealth at a place called Thirukachchi. Take it and pay your dues."

Parakalar told the Minister who came to collect the payment, about the dream. On hearing about it the king ordered him to be taken under guard to that spot. When they went there and searched there was no treasure. Parakalar was heart broken.

That night the compassionate Lord Vishnu appeared and told him the treasure was at a certain place on the banks of a river called Vegavathy. The next day the Minister and his retinue searched the place and found gold, gems and many articles of value. When the king was given the gold and gems, he was speechless. He knew that Parakalar had the grace of Lord Vishnu. He got him down and apological for keeping him in prison and returned all the wealth to him, and sent him back with his minister and guards to Alli Nadu.

In the meantime, Kumudavalli and her parents and the subjects of Alli Nadu were sad and unhappy and waited for tidings of Parakalar. When he returned in glory, there was general celebration. The young couple was reunited.

Now, he was back to his duty of feeding the devotees and soon the coffers were empty. He consulted his minister and told them the only way to got wealth to feed the devotees was to waylay rich travellers and rob them. The ministers agreed.

Lord Vishnu seeing his great devotion to feed His devotees, took the form of a traveller and with his consort Lakshmi dressed in all fineries and jewels and came along the path where the king and ministers were hiding. The couple and their retinue were stopped by the king and the ministers who demanded the travellers to give all the money and jewels in their possession. Then he noticed that the bridegroom had a ring. He asked for it, and was told he couldn't take it out. Parakalar broke it wit his teeth and took it.

Parakalar ordered the jewels and money to be bundled and taken to the Palace. None of the ministers could lift the burden. Even Parakalar could not lift the bundle. He was annoyed and accused the traveller of having cast a spell and demanded that he be told of the mantra (charm).

Lord Vishnu in the guise of the young bridegroom called him and secretly chanted the mantra in his ear alone. Then the travellers all disappeared. The young king was overwhelmed that Lord Vishnu Himself had intervened in his life and sang ten songs or Pasurams then and there.

This was the turning point in his life. He gave the kingdom over to a responsible person and with his wife left to visit Vishnu shrines in the North. Like the Saiva Saints, he too sang of the glory of God.

In one of his travels to holy shrines, he had the fourteen of meeting the young boy saint, Thirugnanasombandar. They mutually appreciated each other's posey and became good friends.

Thus Thirumangai Mannar or Neelan o Parakalar as he was called later, renounced the material world and sought great bliss in the spiritual realm. He was in constant communion with Lord Vishnu and felt His presence wherever he went.

That was the true nature of saints - both Saiva and Vaishnava saints who led the people into the Bakthi Cult, into leading a noble righteous living.

In Bhagavatgita Lord Wishnu says, "If you are thus over in communion with me in mind, you will overcome every obstacle."