Thursday, November 12, 2009


Agastiyar - versatile Sithar
Thilaka V. Wijeyaratnam

Agastiyar was a Sithar spoken of even in the Vedhas. So his period would have been over 3,000 years. He was a versatile person - a poet, sithar, rishi, sage, native physician, an alchemist and was the head of the first Sangam established by the Pandya King. He was also a householder - his wife being Lobamutharai. But he was a hermit - a sanyasi all the same. He, like the other sithar consumed ‘Kayakalpa’ - a substance that if taken would extend one’s life. That was the cause for the sithars to live through many eras.

When physicians in Europe were bleeding patients to rid of bad blood to cure them of illnesses, Agastiyar had gone a long way with herbal treatment for illnesses. He was the one who founded the “Chitha Vaidyam” or “Ayulvedham”.

Apart from nature cures, Agastiyar like other sithars moved among men, teaching them to follow the righteous path and be good, honest and honourable and be religious.

God Muruga Himself had preached to him at a phone called Ilanchi. Agastiyar was supposed to have visited Indonesia, Borneo, Cambodia and Malaysia.

He was also an astrologer. He had written about individuals on olas and even now astrologers read the “Kandam” of a person by referring to the ola scripts. He also contributed to Tamil Language, especially a research in Tamil Garmmar.

He not only wrote about Tamil Language and grammar, but also he wrote on topics like, native treatment, the herbs concerned, alchemy, plant variety, Yoga, Magic and Astrology. He was a versatile sage and scholar. Many were his disciples.

Among them were the Sithars - Pulathiyar and Theraiyar. Even Tholhapiyar had been one of his students. He also knew the past, present and the future.

All were welcome to his ‘Ashram’ - hermitage. He allowed freedom of worship in there.

Though he helped people to live healthily, he was not satisfied.

He asked God Muruga, “Is knowledge of health enough for the people?” In other words he meant that people should be spiritually enhanced too. God Muruga had imparted knowledge to him on the past, present and future.

Agastiyar was consoled. Sithars like Thirumoolar, Pokar, and Ramalinga Swamygal were there in the Kaliyugam to protect the people and lead them on the spiritual way of life. In fact, Agastiyar was the progenitor of the Sithar tradition.

His utterings are meaningful.

“Lead a noble life and occupy a high position in life.”

“Be humble. Avoid the paths to destruction - which are many on earth.”

“Do not go after impermanent objects.”

“Realise the Truth - the Absolute Truth.”

“Don’t be taken up by flattery - people flatter you to reduce you for nothing.”

“Control your anger.”

“Stand by your word of honour - do not betray the trust one has in you.”

“Daily duties must be followed carefully.”

“Do not blunder.”

“Do not tell lies. Do not get involved in futile arguments.”

“Your soul must mature like the top-heavy sheaf of paddy.”

“The only way to reach spiritual enhancement is to keep your mind pure.”

“If the mind is pure, mantras are not necessary,

If the mind is pure ‘pranayama’ is not necessary,

If the mind is pure your good state is guaranteed,

If the mind is pure mantras too will be effective.”

From this it is understood that if one wants to attain spiritual maturity, only a pure mind is needed. None of the other exercises are necessary. He says God Himself dwells in the heart of the man with a pure, clean mind. If the mind is pure, the thoughts that arise in the mind is also would be pure. Pure thoughts lead to good words. Good words beget good actions. Thus a pure mind enables a person. Agastiyar also knew in which hills, forests or mountains were medical herbs to cure a particular illness. He was close with nature and was of the opinion that nature has the remedy for all illnesses.

Agastiyar was a true Saivaite - a Siva worshipper. Legend has it that Agastiyar on seeing many people suffer from various kinds of illnesses had prayed to Mother Goddess - Parasakthi to tell him way to help these stricken with ailments. The Goddess asked him to pray to God Siva to find a remedy. He was awed at the thought of praying to God Siva. He again pleaded with Mother Goddess to appeal to God Siva as a mother for the sake of those whom He created.

And when Goddess Parvathy appealed to God Siva, He was supposed to have told her in which forests, hills and mountains the herbs, varieties of leaves and yams could be found to prepare native medicines to cure all illnesses. That was how it is said in the book on Sithars, the native medicine known as “Chitha Vaidyam” was introduced by Agastiyar and other Sithars.


Yoga Swami of Yaalpaanam
K.S. Sivakumaran

Lankan Hindus of earlier generations might have heard of Yoga Swami of Yaalpaanam. He was a sage who passed away in his 94th year in 1964. We tend to recognize the greatness of people only after their demise. But Yoga Swami was an exception. He was honoured in his time in his own native land. He had a missionary life for nearly 65 years. Learned and the uninitiated visited him to get his blessings.

The annual “Ther” chariot festival of Sri Sivasubramania Swamy Kovil Bandaranayake Mawatha, Colombo took place recently. The Kovil has two Ther chariots. Here the chariots which were taken in procession around the streets of Colombo City. Picture by A. Muduraveeran

Swami Vivekananda of Bengal in India visited Yaalpaanam in 1897.Vivekananda was the deciple of the sage Ramakrishna under whose name the Ramakrishna Mission all over the world functions. Vivekananda mesmerized the Americans and the westerners with his famous Chicago Oration explaining the Vedanta of the Hindus. I was overawed to notice a street named after the great Vivekananda in the heart of Chicago when I was living in the U.S. in the beginning of this century.

Vivekananda’s Lanka visit had inspired Yoga Swami who was maturing spiritually. At this point let me digress a little. However much on might have progressed in spiritual life the initiation by a Guru is a must.

The greatest sages and intellectual giants had all their Gurus. Young people may not be impressed by the simplicity of the Gurus. Some of the Gurus might not have been literate. They might have even classified these saints as men fit to be sent to a lunatic asylum. Yoga Swami too had a Guru in the name of Chellappah Swamy. We learn that the latter was labelled a ‘mad man’ then. But Yoga Swami’s teachings and activities were akin to the Zen sect of Buddhism say scholars.

It is revealing to note that Yoga Swamy was born a Catholic, but he abandoned all formal religions. He followed the path of the great sages transcending all forms and names. He was a true ascetic at heart and followed the middle path. He was an outright ‘Athuvidhist.’

He taught Monism (There is only one). At the same time he encouraged Duvidham (Dualism) as a stepping stone to that abstract philosophy of Monism. In this respect his philosophy can be linked with that of Thaayumaanvar of the 17th century. I am tempted to compare Thaayumaanavar with the metaphysical poets of the West.

Like Mahavira who was a contemporary of Siddhartha, Yoga Swami too might be considered a fatalist since he felt complete surrender or unalterable natural law of evolution to the almighty.

At a lower plane Yoga Swamy was active in politics, the growth of Hindu culture, and propagandist against alcoholism. Among his followers were the German Swamy and the son of Lord Soulbery who was the first governor-general in independent Ceylon.

This article is based on a booklet authored by the late S. Ambihaipahan


The Essentials of Hinduism
Continued from Nov. 06

Before answering this question, we must ask ourselves another question-”Why should we reach God?” To enable us to answer this question we have to make some enquiry about:

1. The nature of God,

2. The nature of ourselves, and

3. The nature of our present condition.

(1) God is a Being beyond human comprehension. We gather from the ‘Sastras that He is spiritual in form’. He is almighty, omnipresent, just, all-merciful and ever-blissful. He is the fountain of eternal heavenly happiness, and He is a goal from which there is no return, when once reached. He is always full of love towards the souls.

(2) Souls are themselves spiritual in form and in their pure state are fully capable of enjoying the eternal heavenly happiness in the presence of the great God. They are, so to say, of the nature of crystal, ever ready to receive the reflection of the object before which they are placed.

(3) In their present state, they are merged in ignorance, covered up by the veil of Pasa. They have therefore no idea of the exalted nature of God nor of the relation that exists between them and God. If they merge out of their present state of ignorance, they will find themselves in the presence of God and will be in the enjoyment of heavenly happiness.

Systematic instruction
Religion provides the necessary means to remove our ignorance and to enjoy heavenly happiness in the presence of God. The question may now be asked whether a religion is necessary to reach the presence of God.

We know that even in ordinary worldly matters, we are invariably in need of systematic instruction imparted by competent teachers on accepted textbooks.

Personal endeavours
Can we then dispense with the services of a guide and depend on our personal endeavours for the securing of heavenly beatitude which is beyond the range of our practical knowledge in our present state of existence? A course of instruction on the subject is indispensable, and it is this instruction that is called our guide or religion. We may, without the help of a religion, try to conform ourselves to what are known as the moral and social laws of our country, but such a trial will not be of much avail.

Need guidance
The moral laws themselves have to be explained to us and we must be instructed on the necessity of conforming ourselves to those laws. We cannot depend on mere self-help for such instruction: and even supposing that we do not require any help in the observance of our moral and social duties, heavenly beatitude or our salvation in its proper sense, cannot be secured without the help of an efficient guide. The observance of moral rules is only a preliminary step necessary to qualify us for receiving instructions on the method of securing heavenly beatitude.

Heavenly beatitude is a grand realization which it is not in our power to adequately describe, and it would be absurd on our part to attempt at securing it without a religion to guide us.

Mystic region
Heaven is a mystic region of which we have not the remotest idea, and can we expect to reach that region with our human exertions? It is a region that cannot be identified by location, but we can only say, if at all we venture a description of it, that it is a stage in which we enjoy God.

To attain that stage, we must be made to know God, feel God and realize God. That is our enjoyment of God - our enjoyment of heavenly bliss. Such an enjoyment cannot be realized by us with our personal endeavours, groping as we are, in the labyrinth of intellectual darkness.

We are covered, nay, twisted round in a very intricate manner, by a thick veil of material sheath: and inside that sheath we are again entwined by an equally intricate astral sheath, and there is a third sheath further inside which is the cause of the two outer sheaths.

We have to be conducted through the labyrinths of these various sheaths and the numerous obstructions caused by them and led before the presence of God.

The essentials of Hinduism written by Mudaliyar Sabaratnam has been described as one of the earlier works in English that gives an exposition of Hinduism in the light of Saiva Siddhanta.

To be continued


Ramboda Sri Hanuman temple worshipped by Buddhists
Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

Sri Hanuman Temple at Ramboda, a hamlet 4,000 feet above sea level surrounded by tea estates in the district of Nuwara Eliya, is popular and is a miraculous temple and thousands of devotees both Buddhists and Hindus visit this temple daily particularly during Full Moon Poya Days.

Sri Hanuman Temple at Ramboda,

More than 5,000 devotees from all parts of Sri Lanka visit this temple to receive the divine blessings of Sri Hanuman at this temple and all are served with ‘Annathanam’ mid day meals.

Prompted by the inspiring faith in the divine, spontaneous unselfish urge and truly voluntary effort combined with spell-binding united action, cutting across religious denominations and political ideologies an idea to build a temple for Sri Hanuman at Ramboda came to the mind of Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda when he visited Ramboda a few years ago.

This village was considered to be the place where Sri Hanuman set foot in his search for Sita. Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda was tremendously fascinated by the scenic beauty, serenity of the location that he felt that Ramboda was ideal.

The Chinmaya Mission of Sri Lanka with the consent and blessings of Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda purchased a plot of 10 acres where this Sri Hanuman Temple is presently situated.

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. Hanuman represented the most cultured youth of his times. He expressed maturity, intelligence, alertness, calmness, smartness, nobility, humility, honesty, boldness, devotion, respect, courtesy, all bundled up together.

Sri Hanuman was praised as the best of the servants by Sri Rama. He was considered the best among men who did much more than the different tasks entrusted by his master. 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 Sri 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.

Sri 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 realizing Sita’s thoughts about Sri Rama, began to speak in words pleasant to the ear, causing immense delight to her.

In order to create confidence in Sita’s mind, Sri Hanuman gave a ring with Rama’s name engraved on it. Sri 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. Indeed, Sri Hanuman is one of perfection, personification of erudition, culture, competency and efficiency.

The President of the Chinmaya Mission of Sri Lanka S. Mahenthiran, Gowri Mahenthiran, Sivanandini Duraiswamy, Somasunderam and several others are rendering remarkable spiritual service to the devotees both Buddhists and Hindus irrespective of caste, religion or creed.

The consecration ceremony (Kumbabishekam) of Sri Hanuman temple at Ramboda took place on April 8, 2001 and the ceremony was performed by Sironmani Shivachchariya Chakrawarthy Kiriya Kalanithi Navaliyoor Viswanatha Kurukkal.

The head of the World Chinmaya Mission Ven. Swami Thejomayananda gave his blessings for this consecration ceremony.

Sri Hanuman was a perfect servant. Though, he accomplished so much for the sake of Sri Rama, he was utterly devoid of vanity. Humility and self effacement were his hallmark and his utter devotion to Sri Rama will be cherished till the end of this world. The deeds done by Sri Hanuman, none else in this world could even conceive of attempting. Crossing the sea and entering Lanka and accomplishing the task set by Rama, not only fully, but beyond the hope of all should be really commended.

Virtues are the ornaments of a cultured person. Sri Hanuman exemplified all the good virtues and ever remained as the servant of Sri Rama.

Let us all worship the Sri Hanuman temple at Ramboda and receive his divine blessings.

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