Tuesday, January 27, 2009
HINDUISM: Thirupathy..Thangammah Memorial Hall.....Mamangeswarar.....!
Theivathirumagl Sivathamizhselvi Dr. Thangamah Appacutty Memorial and Children’s playground
The God on seven hills
Tirupati is one of the most famous pilgrimage centers for Hindus. It is visited by thousands of pilgrims each day throughout the year. It is located on the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh on a range called the Seven Hills. The deity in Tirupati is also known as Balaji, Srinivasa, or the Lord of Seven hills.
He has a dark complexion with four hands. He holds a discus (a symbol of power) and a conch shell (a symbol of existence) in the upper hands. The lower hand is extended for blessing his devotees who surrender to him in faith.
The entrance to the temple
The image of Lord Venkateswara has the attributes of both Vishnu and Shiva. You can have darshan of the icon the Balaji in its original form without any alankaram (decorations) on Friday. The day starts with the suprabhatam and ends with the ekanta seva.
The devotees offer cash, jewellery and gold in fulfillment of their vows. Many devotees who visit Tirupati offer their hair to the lord as a symbolic sacrifice of their ego.
Tirupati town is 67 km from Chittoor in Andra Pradesh. Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams an autonomous body have dedicated themselves to serve the devotees who visit the temple
History of the temple
As per the legends from puranas, Sage Bighu went to Kailasa to find who was the most powerful god among the Trimurthis. During the course. Trimurthis did not acknowledge the presence the sage Bighu in heaven. This made the sage angry and he kicked Lord Vishnu in the chest. Though Lord Vishnu pacified the sage, Goddess Lakshmi could not tolerate the insult and left heaven.
Unable to bear the solitude, Lord Vishnu came down to earth in search of Goddess Lakshmi. He wandered across hills and woods until he came across the beautiful Seshachala hills, now called the Tirumala hills. Finding the place peaceful and serene, he settled down in an anthill and has been worshiping there, ever since as Lord Venkateswara.
The white spot on the chin of the Lord Balaji is Pacha Karpuram (camphor balming), the legend behind this is that a disciple of Sri Ramanuja, Sri Ananthazhwar was in charge of garden maintenance. Once the disciple was digging the earth, assisted by his pregnant wife. She got tired and was taking rest.
Lord Balaji took guise of a child to help the disciple in place of his wife. But this irritated the disciple and he hit him with a spade on the child’s chin. Later when Ananthazhwar went to the Temple to worship, he found the Lord bleeding on his chin.
Suddenly he realised his mistake and apologised to the Lord and applied Pacha Karpuram with love.
The Brahmotsavam or annual festival is celebrated for nine days during the month of September-October when the Sun enters Kanya Rasi from Aswayuja Shuddha Padyami to Aswayuja Shuddha Dasami.
This celebration is said to have first celebrated by Brahma himself; hence the name.
This is one of the important festivals of the temple and the entire hill is decorated magnificently with colourful lights.
The grand festival begins with a Dwajarohanam (a flag with a picture of Garuda) by the highest priest of the temple opposite to the sanctum sanctorum.
Every morning and evening the icon of Balaji is taken round the temple in colourful procession on different Chariots (Vahanams) decorated with flowers and glittering ornaments.
The important sevas are the Garudotsavam (Garuda seva) on the fifth day which is popular among his devotees. On that day, the God is decorated with precious ornaments of his choice and other important seva is the Rathotsavam or Car Festival on the eighth day where the deities would be seated in an exquisitely carved huge wooden chariot and taken round the temple in procession by ardent devotees.
Other places of visit near Tirupathi are Kalahasti an ancient temple of Lord Shiva situated on the banks of river Swarnamukhi, Sri Padmavathi Devalayam, Sri Kalyana Venkateshwara temple and many more.
84th birth anniversary of ‘Sivathamil Selvi’ Dr. Thangammah Appakutti:
Opening of memorial hall at Tellipalai
‘Chensot Chemmani’, ‘Sivathamil Selvi’, ‘Sivagnana Vithagar’, ‘Theiva Thirumagal’, ‘Kalasuri’ Dr. Selvi Thangammah Appukutti whose 84th birth anniversary which fell on January 7, 2009, was a colossus, multi-faceted and multi-dimensional personality, who will be remembered with gratitude not only by the people of Jaffna, but throughout the whole world where Hindus live for the tremendous service she has rendered in the spheres of social, religious and cultural activities.
Kandiah Neelakandan who unveiled the statue of Theivathirumagal Dr. Thangamah Appacutty garlands it on January 7.
She was a dedicated, devoted and highly disciplined Hindu spiritual leader who was born at a time when Sri Lanka had suffered three centuries of Western conquest, multi-faceted in its manifestations and consequences - political, economical, cultural and psychological.
It is a fact that the technics and preachings of Sivathamil Selvi Dr. Thangammah Appakutti, have influenced, inspired and transformed the Hindus of Sri Lanka. She takes her place among the galaxy of great religious leaders like ‘Srila Sri Arumuga Navalar’, ‘Srila Sri Satha Avathani Kathiravetpillai’ and Pulavar Sivapathasundaranar of Puloly. Dr. Thangammah Appukutti made the people of Hindu religion to feel proud of this faith and Tamil language and the deep culture embodied in them.
Blessed with a dialectical skill and sharp logician mind and an oratorical ebullience combined with fearless and courageous mind, she was able to accomplish and achieve her objectives and built round her a massive following who subscribed to the principles she extolled.
Her motto was ‘Service to Man’ was ‘Service to God’. She was a courageous woman of faith who transformed her thoughts and intentions with action, passion into reality, every minute into valuable moments. One of her courageous achievements was the establishment of ‘Durgapura Girls’ Home’ which was established in 1982. Dr. Thangammah Appakutti was one of those highly blessed and fortunate persons who had hundreds of children, looked after by her with loving care and supreme affection. She provided every opportunity and means for them to excel academically or otherwise.
As President and Trustee of Tellipalai Sri Durga Devi Devasthanam and a woman who was in charge of ‘Durgapura Makalir Illam’ for more than 25 years, she discharged his responsibilities with unsurpassed distinction and unsullied honour.
The secret of Thangammah Appakutti’s success in all her endeavours was purely on account of her dedication, devotion, high sense of discipline, total commitment combined with her deep religious outlook in life, exemplary character and versatility of her intellect.
No field of human endeavour was left untouched by the swaying amplitude of her imagination, encompassing sweep of her thought, the penetrating, yet lucid felicity of her words and the indefatigable zeal of her actions. She always maintained humane qualities like simplicity, humility and humanity and was constantly pragmatic and practical in dealing with children and others at ‘Makalir Illam’
Dr. Thangamah Appakutti was born in an orthodox and conservative family on January 7, 1925 and received her primary education at Mallakam American Mission, Mallakam Visalatchi Vidyalayam and thereafter she entered Ramanathan Teacher’s Training College and became a trained teacher and started her teaching career at St. Ciciliya School, Batticaloa. Besides, teaching, she was very much involved in religious activities and became a very good speaker pertaining to religious matters.
Dr. Thangammah Appakutti had the rare opportunity of delivering a speech at Annamalai University where the audience were greatly marvelled by her dynamic religious speech.
Realising her tremendous contributions to Hindu religion and social service in Sri Lanka and abroad she was conferred with the title of ‘Chen Chot Chemmani’ by Madurai Atheenam in 1966, in 1970, she was conferred with the title of ‘Shivathamil Selvi’ at Karainagar Elaththu Sithamparam Temple.
In 1973, she was conferred with the title of ‘Sivagna Vithagar’ by the All Ceylon Hindu Congress.
Further, she was also honoured and felicitated by the University of Jaffna. She was even invited by several religious organisations and temples in Malaysia, Singapore and several other countries to deliver religious speeches and religious discourses.
Undoubtedly, the All Ceylon Hindu Congress particularly its president V. Kailasapillai and General Secretary Kandiah Neelakandan should be highly commended for their untiring efforts and deep sense of gratitude for having taken all possible steps to invite Swami ‘Rishi’ Thondunathar from Hawai Atheenam to ceremonially open Sivathamil Selvi Dr. Thangammah Appakutti’s Memorial Hall (Nenai Valayam) at Tellipalai.
Furthermore, the statue of Dr. Thangammah Appakutti on the south of the temple was opened by Kandiah Neelakandan and children’s park by Kailasapillai and his wife.
Indeed, Sivathamil Selvi Dr. Thangammah Appakutti dedicated her life in the service of humanity and aimed at bringing communal harmony.
Further on this occasion of her 84th birth anniversary I wish to quote from Swami Sivananda on ‘Life and Death’:
“Life is God in expression;
Life is fight for perfection;
Death is only an aspect of life;
It leads to a newer and fresher life.
Life is continuous, it never dies
It is change of form cognise
The flower may fall; the shade may fade
But its fragrance does ever pervade.”
Maamangeswara Pillayaar in Maddakkalappu
K S Sivakumaran
In the eastern Province capital- Maddakkalappu (erroneously anglicized as Batticaloa), there is a famous shrine three miles away from the Municipality. This is a temple for Pillayaar (Lord Ganesha or Vigneswara or Ganedeiyo, Vinayagar, Gajamuhan et al).
What is the significance of the sacred shrine is explained in English in a book. The details regarding this book are:
Mattakkalappu Maamaangeswara Pillayar Maanmium.The author is Eliyathamby Thangarajah (a former senior executive of the Department of Economic Research and Statistics of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka).
The book was published late last year and is priced at Rs.250/-. It may be available with the printer-Uni Arts (Pvt) Ltd. 48b, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13. The author lives in Canada. His address is: 4000 Kings Road, King City, Ontario, L7B 1 K4.
According to the author, the book deals with Saivaism (a component of Hinduism) and the quintessence of worship of Maamangeshwarar.
To know more about the author please read the testimonials and the comments included in the book by Lankan L E N Fernando, former Alternate Executive Director in the IMF in Washington D.C. and former Chancellor Dr T Vargunam of the Eastern University. The book gives notes on the Image of Lord Vinayagar and then goes on to explain the concepts behind it. Similarly another of the dancing Siva or Nataraj is given. This is followed by description of the Maamaanga Pillayaar Temple.
What are more interesting from the historical point of view are the six legends associated with the Maamaanga Pillayaar temple. The other chapters are on Queen Aadakasava Sundari and her ancestry and pedigree, the relationship between Boothams (Invisible Giants) and the farmers of Maddakkalappu. Another legend is that Sita of Ramayana was born as Aadakasava Sundari.
I also found the author’s interpretation of the work Maddakkalappu Maanmium which tells some aspects of the eastern capital. In the area there are a dozen Kalvettus (Inscriptions) about which the author writes.
We are supposed to be living in Kali (not Kaali) Yuga. On page 37, the author says: “The characteristics of Kali Yuga are qualified by degradation of human behaviour based on dwindling of moral, spiritual and human values specifically.”
He lists the following:
“People living up to 100 years or less, decline in people’s memory, increasing deceptions and lies, decline in mental purity, forgiveness, kindness, health and strength, religious conviction, judging people by their wealth, dispensing justice according to one’s own strength, wrong sexual relationships, marriages based on external appearances, judging beauty by external appearance, filling the stomach to increase fleshy appearance, considering poverty as a social sacrilege.”
I wish that the author had edited his manuscript before publishing it as I found some of the expressions could have better put.
The author also speaks about miracles and life after death. He says that the “cause and consequence of the Karmic Law is an abstract subject. It is hard for an average person to come to grip with it. It is all the more difficult to those who do not have an open and receptive mind to this subject.” He concludes his text with a saying from the Bhagavad Gita on Karma Yoga in this manner:
“One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic, He is liberated I the supreme and ultimately he attains the Supreme”. This is a book that gives information that I had not known before, but it could critically be read and understood.