Friday, March 19, 2010

Hinduism ......!!!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Mythology as part of Religion
K.S. Sivakumaran

The purpose of these religious pages in the Daily News is to report and review religious aspects of each religion that is practised in the country. We would expect readers of the Hinduism Page to contribute elucidatory articles that lend themselves to discussion and information to help readers, particularly those following different faiths, understand the essentials of Saiva Siddantham and Vedantham. We would also request Hindu religious institutions to provide us material in English of Hindu religious calendar of events and even pictures well in time for us to consider publishing them. Please address your contributions to The Features Editor (Hinduism Page), Daily News, Lake House, Colombo 10.

This week let us glean some mythological aspects in Hinduism, as Culture includes mythology and anthropology, and they are related to Religion too. European scholars like Max Muller, Weber, Roth and Lassen were some of the pioneers in introducing Hindu Mythology and Literature to the westerners in English. However, their interpretations were not totally comprehensive. More than 15 years ago John Dowson compiled a Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion among other related subjects. We shall gather facts from time to time from this book too on major mythical identities in Hinduism.

Shall we first take the myth about Agasthiyar, a Rishi? We are told that he had written several hymns in the Rig Veda. He was born in a water jar. ‘As a fish of great lustre’ He was small in size. There is a fable to say that he commanded the Vundhya Mountains to prostrate themselves before him. According to another fable he drank up the ocean because it had offended him. One other tale tells us that he formed a girl out of the most graceful parts of different animals and the girl became his wife. Her name was Lopaamudraa.

If that was the myth regarding Agasthiyar in the north of India, in the south he finds a prominent place in Thamil literature. He was the first to teach science and literature to the Thamilians. According to one Wilson The traditions of the south of India ascribe to Agasthiyar a principal share in the formation of the Thamil language and literature, and the general tenor of the legends relating to him denotes his having been instrumental in the introduction of the Hindu religion and literature into the Peninsula.


Kochchikade Sivan Temple:

Festival begins tomorrow
Chelvathamby Maniccavasagar traces the historical importance of the ancient Hindu temple in Colombo.

The annual festival of Sri Ponnambalavaneswarar Temple at Kochchikade, Colombo13 will commence with the flag hoisting ceremony tomorrow (March 20).

Sri Ponnambalavaneswarar Temple was built in 1857 by Sri Ponnambala Mudaliyar, the father of great patriot Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan. In 1850 Sri Ponnambala Mudaliyar went as a pilgrimage to South India and visited several Hindu Temple particularly Rameswara Temple believed to have been Rama of Ramayana fame.

Historically important Temple festival at Kochikadae begins Saturday

As his arrival from the pilgrimage to India the Mudaliyas thought of the need of a Shivan Temple in the heart of the city of Colombo and built this temple at Kochchikade in 1857. In fact, the Kumbabishekam was performed according to Agamic tradition.

The administration of this temple which was carried out by Sir Ponnambala Mudaliyas to the greatest satisfaction of the devotees in the city of Colombo and outstations, was handed over to Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan in 1905.

Thereafter, Sir P. Ramanathan made a pilgrimage to India and saw the magnificent temples in South India and according to the Agamic tradition and the Dravidian Style of Architecture he built this temple with granite. For this purpose of rebuilding this temple he brought eminent architects and sculptors from South India and the work which started in 1907 was completed in 1915.

In this temple the floor, wall, pillars and the roof are made out of granite. The Moolasthanam (main sanctum) is decorated with intricately carved single stone columns stands majestically an either side flanking hall and also granite beams for the roof to allow the light to come in.

The main entrance of the temple is tastefully decorated. The beautiful chariot which carry the deities on the annual festival could be seen in the specially erected room just opposite of the main entrance of the temple.

God is in our hearts like the lantern in the hand. If only the control our senses and our hearts and tread the path of virtue and devotion to the supreme being we need nothing else. If we are ever in doubt and without faith, like a vessel without captain, we shall be tossed on the turbulent waters of life buffeted by the winds of fate and circumstances, unable to stand the stresses and strains, hope deferred and desire unfulfilled. If we seek God’s grace, we shall always succeed in keeping our senses in check.

One of the cardinal principles of Hinduism is the belief that there is a spark of the DIVINE in every person. Each individual encapsulates the ATMAN or the SOUL which is intrinsically DIVINE.

”You and I are one because we are of the same divine source”, the Upanishadic teaching.

If one accepts this cardinal principle, then there cannot be any distinction on the basis of caste, creed, gender or language. Equality of persons in ensured by this spiritual bond. Further, Hinduism is unique in the sense that it accepts that there are various paths to salvation.

The Upanishad states “As the different streams having their sources in different places, all mingle their water in the sea. The different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to THEE”.

In the tradition of Hindu literature the chariot represents our body which is yoked to four horses (the sense organs) wherein the individual sits, dejected and dependent driven by the intellect which, into the mind guide the horses.

These horses represent human passions and the reins symbolise the necessity of restraining and guiding the passions. The journey of the chariot is an emblem of the progress of life and the lesson is that throughout his life, one should control and guide the passions with the help of the soul. These passions are the driving force of life but unstrained and unguided will wreck a man’s life.

Indeed, during the chariot festival the statues of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Ambal, God Muruga are decorated and illuminated and taken along the compound of the temple followed by poojas and bhajans.

Hence, let us pray to Sri Ponnambalawaneswarar and receive His divine blesssings.


Temple festival after 20 years

Maha Sivarathri after 20 years at Thiruketheeswaram temple, Mannar

Hindu devotees from all parts of the country participated in a Maha Sivarathri pooja held at the Thiruketheeswaram Kovil in Mannar on March 13.

Northern Province Governor Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri, Resettlement and Disaster Relief Services Minister Risath Bathiyutheen, Indian High Commissioner Ashok Kantha and security chiefs in the North were also present on the occasion. This ceremony was held at the kovil after a lapse of 20 years. - (Picture by Bandara Vipulasena Vavuniya Central special corr.)


Folk Deities III:

The Chairman Swamy
Thilaka T. Wijeratnam

In a small village by the river Thamivaparani lived a good man called Arunasalam.

Once when he was bathing in the river, a mischievous girl, one who was betrothed to him sent a small girl to take his veshti-cloth.

When Arunasalam came out he saw his veshti missing. He started walking to his house in the loincloth.

On the way he met a textile merchant. He put down the bundle and took a new veshti, gave it to him and left without even getting the money.

The betrethed girl was watching this scene and was amazed beyond wards. The little girl who took his veshti took it to her mother and told her what happened.

The mother was horrified at it, and went to Arunasalam’s and begged forgiveness.

He told her he should be worried only if the work veshti was in a condition to be worn.

When the lady spread out the veshti it was all worn out and torn.

People considered Arunasalam as a demi-god an revered and respected him. He seemed to have performed some mystic, miraculous deeds too.

Having heard of him, the collector equivalent the (G.A. In Sri Lanka) made him the village chief. Later he made him the chairman of the village Panjayath rural court. But he lived the life of a recluse while functioning as chairman.

In the village was a woman by the name of Sudalai Pe’chi. She had an unusual affliction.

There were swollen patches here and there on the skin. In disgust her husband left her. She went crying to the Chairman Arunasalam.

He gave her holy ash, chanting a mantra and some holy water and told her to see him on the new moon day.

In the meantime Arunasalam called his friend Bala Krishnamoorthy and told him he would depart this world on new moon day. He instructed his friend to dig a pit beside the banyan tree on the bank of the river and bury him in silting position.

At that time, he told, there would be an eagle circling in the sky.” On its third round, its shadow would fall on me. Then bury me.”

The whole village got to know of his death and awaited the new moon day with a heavy heart. Came new moon day the chairman did his duties as usual then went home and lay down in his bed. Sharp at mid noon 12 o’clock, he breathed his last, as he said.

His friend and others dug a pit at the spot he mentioned and lowered his body into the pit, in a sitting position as he had instructed.

Then they saw to their wonder the eagle circling above.

On the third round its shadow fell on the Swamy ‘c body.

The people threw sand into the pit and filled it thus burying him. Meanwhile the woman who went to him with the ailment, came crying saying. “He told me to come on new moon day. But he is not alive to see me.

Just then an old man came that way. He told her to visit the burial place for two new moons, “take the soil over his grave and apply to your body. Drink the holy water. You will be cured.”

She did likewise and was cured. Her skin was smooth and she regained her lost beauty and health. Moreover her husband took her back

There is a temple for this chairman swamy. People suffering from any disease visit the temple and used the soil there as medicine for any ailment.

So chairman swamy in another folk deity come to stay in Thamilnadu.

(Courtesy Kalki) Source Kalaniboran


A Formless eternal and mysterious being
Saiva tradition identifies Lord Siva or Shiva as a formless eternal and mysterious being with many aspects and dimensions.

He is both transcendental and immanent, who cannot be quantified and qualified objectively with our limited awareness.

He is beyond our mind and senses, but within the reach of our experience and awakening. Various schools of Saivisma or Shaivism and the scriptures that form their basis allude to some important aspects of Siva, as experienced by the awakened jivas in their transcendental states, which are mentioned below.

* Siva as nirguna Brahman

*Siva as saguna Brahman

*Siva as lord of a functional universe

*Siva as dynamic power

*Siva as a deluded soul

*Siva as an enlightened and self-aware soul

*Siva as a Vedic deity

Internet: Saivaism Jairam


Shaiva Siddhanta
Shiva, Lord of the Dance (Nataraja):

Saiva Siddhantam (also Shaiva Siddhantam) is a Saivite Hindu school that encompasses tens of millions of adherents, predominantly in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. Today it has thousands of active temples there and dozens of monastic/ascetic traditions: twenty-five Brahmin families, the Adisaivas, are qualified to perform its rituals.

The culmination of a long period of systematisation of its theology appears to have taken place in Kashmir in the tenth century, the exegetical works of the Kashmirian authors Bhatta Narayanakantha and Bhatta Ramakantha being the most sophisticated expressions of this school of thought.[1] Their works were quoted and emulated in the works of twelfth-century South Indian authors, such as Aghorasiva and Trilocanasiva.[2] The theology they expound is based on a canon of Tantric scriptures called Siddhantatantras or Shaiva Agamas.

This canon is traditionally held to contain twenty-eight scriptures, but the lists vary,[3] and several doctrinally significant scriptures, such as the Mrgendra,[4] are not listed. In the systematisation of the liturgy of the Shaiva Siddhanta, the Kashmirian thinkers appear to have exercised less influence: the treatise that had the greatest impact on Shaiva ritual, and indeed on ritual outside the Shaiva sectarian domain, for we find traces of it in such works as the Agnipurana, is a ritual manual composed in North India in the late eleventh century by a certain Somasambhu.[5] After the twelfth century, North Indian evidence for the presence of the Shaiva Siddhanta grows rarer.

The school appears to have died out in other parts of India even as it grew in importance in the Tamil-speaking south. There its original emphasis on ritual fused with an intense devotional (bhakti) tradition. The Tamil compendium of devotional songs known as Tirumurai, along with the Vedas, the Shaiva Agamas and “Meykanda” or “Siddhanta” Sastras[6], form the scriptural canon of Tamil Shaiva Siddhanta. Tirumurai is a twelve-volume anthology of the works of few among sixty-three poets, the Nayanars,[7][8],Manikkavacakar, Sekkizhar and Others.The Meykanda sastras are fourteen in number, authored by St. Meykandar and his disciples.



Three books launched today
The launching of two books published by the Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs Department will take place this morning (March 19, 2010) at 9.00 a.m. at the lecture hall of the Ramakrishna Mission at Wellawatta.

The three books are Part X of the Hindu Encyclopedia and Thandi Alankaram and Thirukaraip Puranam.

The Director of the Department Shanthi Naavukkarasan will chair the function. Bandu Bandaranaike will grace the occasion.

A special guests M. M. Herath, Secretary to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Emeritus Professor S. Pathmanathan are invited.

The publication will be critically reviewed by Senior Lecturers K. Iraghuparan and Dr. V. Maheswaran of the Departments of Thamil in the Universities of South Eastern and Peradeniya respectively.

Swami Sarva Roopanandaji, Head of the Ramakrishna Mission in Colombo, Kumaresan Purantharan M. Shanmuganathan, Thevakumari Haran, all from the Hindu Cultural Affairs Department will also participated in the program which will end by 11.00 a.m.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The sentiments of an estimated 4-million Pakistani Hindus were hurt by Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif’s uncalled for remarks.!

mars 17, 2010
Hindu lawmakers in Pak walk out of Parliament
Lawmakers belonging to Pakistan’s minority Hindu community walked out of Parliament to protest a top judge’s alleged remarks that Hindus might be financing terrorist attacks in the country.

Ramesh Lal, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, raised the issue in the National Assembly yesterday, saying the sentiments of an estimated four-million Pakistani Hindus were hurt by Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif’s uncalled for remarks.

While hearing a petition on barring the deportation of Afghan Taliban leaders on Monday, Justice Sharif rebutted arguments by a lawyer that US security firm Blackwater, and Hindus were involved in terrorist attacks and remarked that “Muslims and not Hindus are involved in terror acts in Pakistan.”

He had contended that Hindus “might be the financiers” of such attacks.

Mr. Lal said if a country was suspected of sponsoring such attacks it should be named but blame should not be put on the Hindus who were as patriotic as other Pakistanis.

He drew the attention of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the worry caused to Hindus by the judge’s remarks and appealed to Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, to take suo moto notice of the matter.

Some ministers and lawmakers sought to assuage the feelings of Mr. Lal but he was not satisfied and walked out of the House.

Mr. Lal was joined by other Hindu lawmakers and members of the Awami National Party in the walk out, described as the first protest in parliament against the judiciary.

Comments to : Copyright © 2009, The Hindu

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hinduism ......!!!

Friday, 12 March 2010


Maha Sivarathri: day-long fast and night-long vigil
Chelvathamby Maniccavasagar

Maha Sivarathri is one of the most important festivals of Hindus dedicated to Lord Shiva.

On this day devotees will fast and keep vigil throughout the night repeating the words ‘Om Sivayanama’. Poojas are be conducted at Shivan Temples during the four quarters of the night accompanied with devotional songs, Mantra recitation, the lighting of the sacred fire and the rendering of classical dances dedicated to Lord Shiva.

God Shiva and Parvathi

God is omnipotent and all pervasive. By the nature of these qualities He is formless. But in order to enlighten his devotees He takes innumerable human forms. On Maha Sivarathri Day Lord Shiva manifests Himself in the form of a Lingam. The prime manifestation with the form of the formless Shiva is known as ‘Lingabhavanamoorthy’ and He is said to make His appearance in that form at midnight on Mahasivarathri Day.

On this auspicious occasion Lord Shiva performs the cosmic dance.

This divine dance is the thrilling expressions of God realisation by one who has transcended the limitation of the material layer of one’s personality. This divine dance portrays the world being formed and dissolved. The cosmic activity is the central motive of the dance. Shiva’s dance balancing on one foot signifies the single pointed attaintment of a man of realisation with the absolute God.

The Dwarfish demon which lies conquered and crushed under His foot represents the Ego. When the Ego and desires are kept under control the man of perfection experiences with himself the pure transcendental essence of divinity.

Ratri means night when it is dark. Darkness stands for lack of knowledge. Lord Shiva’s dance on Maha Sivarathri indicates that His transcendental experience of the reality is unknown to the rest of the mankind.


Night of Shiva symbolises purification
Maha Shivaratri is a fast, and the religious ceremonies take place chiefly at midnight of the day. Pious Hindus abstain from food and drink during the day and at night worship God Shiva. The prefix ‘Maha’ means great and ‘Shiv’ denotes benefactor and ‘Ratri’ signifies ignorance and darkness. The word ‘Shiva’ also means one or who liberates mankind from sorrows and sufferings and leads them on the path of virtue and peace.

The progenitors of humanity are called by various names by different religions, i.e. all the eternal human souls have just one single Eternal Father, called God with varying names in different languages and religions. God has been ordained and idolized through various oval shapes and symbols. God Shiva has been venerated as the divine incorporeal form of light, the Jyothir Bindu.

Let us understand Shivratri in its true significance. The Night of Shiva signifies not the usual darkness resulting from the revolution of earth around the sun, but this alludes spiritually to the darkness of ignorance. Power of five vices - lust, greed, anger, attachment and ego has overshadowed our intellect, deprived us of our true nature - peace, purity, contentment, love, bliss, humility etc. These have been the main reason for the moral degradation we are witnessing in today’s iron-aged world.

The world today has overlooked the difference between the ‘original’, pure, positive self and the ‘acquired’ demonic negative self.

Bowl of gold
People do not know that the secret of achieving total success in life without having to struggle lies in rediscovering, realizing, restoring the lost truth - the biggest truth - that we are originally and essentially spiritual beings, souls, the spiritual battery that runs the human body.

There was a beggar who usually went to jewellers market for begging. He used to get some coins or food and days passed on. Once the son of a famous jeweller summoned the beggar and asked him to show his bowl and after inspection he told him that the bowl was made of gold. But the beggar did not believe him. So he took him to a well and asked to clean the bowl.

After cleaning it started shining and glowing. Similarly, I, the soul, am a subtle star, a point source of light energy and consciousness.

Nothing happens by chance in the spiritual world. Shiv Jayanthi, Divine Descent or birth of God Shiva, the Supreme Soul, the Supreme Father takes place at a time when He is needed most, i.e. when the world touches the lowest depths of degradation, sin, misery etc. This indicates the truth that He comes when total darkness of ignorance prevails in the universe. It is observed year to commemorate the event of the descent of Almighty God.

On Maha Sivratri day, at the end of each quarter of night, to symbolize purification of the soul, a bath, Abhisheka is performed to the Shivalingam with milk, curd, ghee, honey, turmeric, rose water etc. Fast and vigilance on this night coupled with the baths are said to give happiness in this and the next world.

God Shiva does not take birth as we, human beings, or as the other beings do. He, the most exalted and the most extraordinary one, takes an extraordinary birth.

Sleeping soul
He descends on the intellect of a human being and use his organ of speech to articulated the Godly knowledge and to teach mankind the methods whereby they can attain peace and perfection. The human persons on whom He descends and through whose mouth, He reveals the Godly knowledge, comes to be known as Prajapita Brahma or Adi Dev. By means of this knowledge, He established a new socio spiritual order, which is known as the Golden Age or Satyuga.

Swami Vivekananda said: Teach yourselves and teach everyone about the real nature, call upon the sleeping souls see how it awakes. Power will come, goodness will come, purity will come and everything that is excellent will come when this sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity. So let us endeavour to free the world of vices, to do away with body consciousness through sacred truths. Let us help God to create a world of reason, a world where science and spirituality will lead to peace and happiness.

The true art of living lies in realizing the differences, reviving the original dignity of our soul, and then allowing that experience be the driving force behind our very action and make this iron-aged world into a golden-aged one.

Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre - press release


When is Shivarathri?
Shivaratri 2010 is on February 12, Friday.

When is Shivaratri auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri. Is it on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun.

The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of February - March in English calendar. Shivaratri Festival is celebrated on a moonless night.

According to Hindu mythology, Shivaratri or ‘Shiva’s Great Night’ symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Many, however, believe, Shivaratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya - the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. Celebrating the festival in a customary manner, devotees give a ritual bath to the Lingam with the panchagavya - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Celebrations of Shivaratri Festival mainly take place at night. Devotees of Lord Shiva throng Shiva temples across the country and spend ‘the Night of Lord Shiva’ by chanting verses and hymns in praise of the Lord.

The festival holds special meaning for the ladies. They pray to Goddess Parvati also called ‘Gaura’, the giver of ‘suhag’ (blessings) for good husbands, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life.



He who sees God - sees the epic of faith
Sivanandini Duraiswamy

“First the battle of life. Let the virtue in you vanquish the vice. Lead a dharmic life true to your nature or Svadharma based on self-control and complete surrender to the Lord. The Divinity within is your ever-available guide. Attuning yourself to it, do your job as splendidly as you can. Every one is obliged to wage the Mahabharata war in and through his life,” is the succinct theme of the Bhagavad Gita, which prompted Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda to choose the Gita as an important text for his Jnana Yagnas Materialistic tendencies over-power humanity and the refreshing teaching of the scriptures help to regain the glory of being human. “Let us spread peace, joy and love through the study of our great scriptures and selfless services towards humanity,” was his aim.

Man of prowess
“Yield not to unmanliness, O son of Partha - it does not become you a man of prowess. Cast off this faint heatedness and wake up,” was the message to Arjuna when he was in a dilemma whether to fight the Kurukshetra war or flee the battlefield. This is the great battle for an inner victory and the yearning cry of the embodied Soul ready to give up the battle of life. It is afraid of the annihilation of its desires and its attachment to near and dear ones.

In times of crisis when man is tortured by doubt and conflict between his duties and the attachment to worldly, he becomes helpless. It is then that he turns to God for light and guidance as Arjuna did when he was torn between performing his duty of upholding the righteousness and his misplaced compassion towards his relatives. This is not merely an incident where a lesson is taught; it is an allegory referring to the eternal struggle that man faces between the righteous aspirations and his unrighteous desires.

Veritable battlefield
The great battle for the Kingdom between the Pandavas and Kauravas was declared. Lord Sri Krishna was Arjuna’s Charioteer who in the beginning drove up to the battle lines so that they may survey the battle array. On seeing his own kinsmen poised for battle on the enemy ranks Arjuna was deeply disturbed - was he to fight and punish his relatives for their unrighteousness or was he to flee the battlefield, was his dilemma. It was at this crucial moment that Lord Sri Krishna inspired Arjuna with the teaching which is immortalized as the Bhagavad Gita.

Life is full of problems and is a veritable battlefield where man often faces Arjuna’s dilemma. He is unable to discern his course of action and is unequal to the challenges of the situation. He realizes his inadequacy and prays for knowledge and strength. Now comes the Eternal Voice of the Lord, which speaks of the imperishable nature of the Soul and the perishable nature of the body.

In this body, we pass from childhood to youth, old age and death; finally, death that begins another cycle crates a new residence for the Soul.

This is the inevitable cycle of birth and rebirth. But in this changing cycle, the Soul is unchanging and Real. “It is unborn, eternal, changeless, and ancient,” says the Lord and adds that just as one discards old clothes and changes into new ones, the embodied Soul sheds its useless body only to take a new one. “When this is the truth, Arjuna, who kills whom?” asks the Lord.

Right to work

Having convinced Arjuna of the immortality of the Soul, the Lord calls him to action. “Perform your duty renouncing the fruits of action with your heart fixed on the Supreme Lord. You have the right to work but for work-sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work.”

To be continued


Folk deities:

Sacrificing the life of Thelli Veeran
Thilaba T. Wijeyaratnam

Long long time ago there was a small regency in South India. During the time when irrigation was needed for the paddy fields, the sluice gates of a tank were opened. But the water wouldn’t come out.

The people were mystified. No body had the courage to get down to see what was wrong. The ruler a little maharaja was informed of this. He rode on a horse back to the spot. He announced “If any man could remove whatever obstructs to open the gates and let the water flow, he will be given one-fourth of the fish in the tank.”

There was a young fisherman called Thelli Veeran among the crowd. He came forward and said that he would do it. But said he might not come out alive.

If he lose his life he requested his family members for generations be given the fish. The little ruler agreed to honour the deal.

The young fisherman jumped in. He found out what was obstructing the flow of water. He came up and told that there was a massive python got stuck in the space where water flows. It would not more either forward or backward. He promised to have it removed by evening and if he died in the process his dead body to be buried near the tank under the tamarind tree there.

He came as he said in the evening. He brought a net and on its ropes were sharp nails. He told his cousin to wrap the iron net round his body. The net was like an armour. He worshipped everybody present for the last time and jumped in. After about an hour water started trickling out - first red with blood and then the people saw the head of the python.

Then slowly the python came out with blood oozing out of its body.

It was clear the young man had grappled with the creature. Once the python came out the water gushed out.

When the python finally came out the young man holding its tail also was seen. The python had crushed his body and was pierced by the nails. The young man was killed during his fight with the python.

The young man gave up his life for the people. So a temple was built where he was buried.

The fish went to his people as promised and to his generation to this day. This is how folk deities came to be in many villages in India. No Brahmin officiates at these temples. The village people gather annually and offer all the food the deity desired. It is in such places fowls or goats are sacrificed. This is the village tradition and certainly not Hindu tradition. Hinduism advocates Ahimsa non-violence. Because of their rites performed in three ‘temples’ of the folk deities.

There is a misunderstanding that Hinduism allows animal sacrifice. Hinduism strongly believes in Thiruvalluvar’s word’s in the couplet No 260.

“All living beings would warship him who neither kills no eats flesh.”

The tales of these folk deities have been written to enlighten non-Hindus that Hindus do not sacrifice other lives to better their lives. Simple ignorant village folk who are not enlightened on the principles of Hindu philosophy resort to such actions until as in Sri Lanka, animal sacrifice is brought to an end.

Sources: Kalaniooran/courtesy: Kalk.


History of Hinduism
The earliest evidence for prehistoric religion in India date back to the late Neolithic in the early Harappan period (5500 - 2600 BCE). The beliefs and practices of the pre-classical era (1500-500 BCE) are called the “historical Vedic religion”.

Modern Hinduism grew out of the Vedas, the oldest of which is the Rigveda, dated to 1700-1100 BCE. The Vedas center on worship of deities such as Indra, Varuna and Agni, and on the Somaritual. They performed fire-sacrifices, called yajna, and chanted Vedic mantras but did not build temples or icons. The oldest Vedic traditions exhibit strong similarities to Zoroastrianism and other Indo-European religions.

The major Sanskrit epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, were compiled over a protracted period during the late centuries BCE and the early centuries. They contain mythological stories about the rulers and wars of ancient India, and are interspersed with religious and philosophical treatises. The later Puranas recount tales about devas their interactions with humans and their battels against demons.

Three major movements underpinned the naissance of a new epoch of Hindu thought: the advent and spread of Upanishadic, Jaina, and Buddhist philosophic-religious thought throughout the broader Indian landmass. Mahavira (24th Tirthankar of Jains) and Buddha taught that to achieve Moksha or Nirvana, one did not have to accept the authority of the Vedas or the caste system.

Buddha went a step further and claimed that the existence of a self/soul or God was unnecessary. Buddhism peaked during the reign of Asoka the Great of the Mauryan Empire, who unified the Indian subcontinent in the 3rd century BCE.

After 200 CE several schools of thought were formally codified in Indian philosophy, including Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva-Mimamsa and Vedanta. Charvaka, the founder of an atheistic materialist school, come to the fore in North India in the Sixth century BCE. Between 400 BCE and 1000 CE Hinduism expanded at the expense of Buddhism.

Sanskritic culture went into decline after the end of the Gupta period. The early medieval Puranas helped establish a religious mainstream among the pre-literate tribal societies undergoing acculturation. The tenets of Brahmanic Hinduism and of the Dharmashastras underwent a radical transformation at the hands of the Purana composers.

Source: wikipedia



Hinduism ......!!!

Friday, 5 March 2010



Trincomalee Thirukoneswaram temple Annual Festival
Chelvathamby Maniccavasagar

Among the various monuments of Hindu antiquity found in Sri Lanka, the Thirukoneswaram Temple in Trincomalee is one of the three principal places of warship dedicated to God Shiva. The Thiruketheeswaram in Mannar and Munneswaram in Chilaw are the other two temples of equal repute. The annual festival of this ancient and historical temple will commence with the flag hoisting ceremony in the first week of April.

The Board of Trustees of this temple has made elaborate arrangements for the success of this festival and the flag hoisting will be done by the Mahotsava Chief Priest of this temple.

The Koneswaram temple as a sacred place of Hindu worship of the ancient past would have remained in its original form, upto the present day, had not the misguided zeal of the Portuguese friends caused it to be razed to the ground, to procure building materials for this new fortifications which they built on the rock by the cliff and overlooking the deep blue sea.

There is a legendary story about the Koneswaram Temple. A Portuguese soldier once entered the sanctum (Shrine room) and defiled it by his presence as he was drunk and carrying a piece of roasted beef in his hand.

The wrath of God having fallen on the man for his unholy behaviour in desecrating the holy place, he has fallen accidentally into the sea below and drowned. It is said that the dead soldier's apparition could still being seen by the faithful when the priest after pooja holds his torch over the edge of the precipice as and when night falls.

Koneswaram was flourishing as a great centre of Saiva worship and pilgrimage and religious songs are sung in honour of its presiding Deity by the Saiva Saint Thirugnasampanthar in the 7th century.

In 1623, the Portuguese captain General Don Constantine desa de Norontha with the permission of the viceroy of India Don Jeronimo de Azevedo to build a Fort, marched towards the Koneswaram temple with a formidable army destroyed the sacred edifice, threw off idols into the sea and on its site built a triangular fort and fortified it with artillery and garrison. The required materials to build the Fort were collected from the debris of the destroyed temple.

The Dutch who drew away the Portuguese in 1658, demolished the old Fort and in its place built a bigger one acclaimed as the most magnificent Fort along the Eastern coast of the Island.

With the evacuation of the Dutch, it was handed over to the British on August 26, 1795 which they named as Fort Frederick, the Duke of York (1763-1827) who established the Royal Military Asylum in England in 1801, for the sons of the English Servicemen.

The Saga of this historic temple is said to have been described in a Tamil poem written by one Kavirajah Varojayan, an erudite and a celebrated bard of ancient Sri Lanka.

In the days of old , a king named Mami Neethi Kanda Cholan, who ruled over the country Cholamandalom, came to know about the wonders of Trincomalee, had come over the island on a pilgrimage as he was a great devotee of the God. Later his son, Kulakoddu Maharajah, having learnt about the holy place from his father, had come over to Trincomalee and built this temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

The British occupation of the maritime province of Ceylon in 1796, had one salutary effect on the inhabitants and this was in respect of the freedom of worship.

According to Hindu tradition, God Shiva as Mahadeva is the creator. The God Shiva's consort is Parvathi, the divine vehicle of God Shiva is the sacred bull known as Nanthi. Lord Shiva, as the supreme power performs five fold functions namely creations, maintenance, destruction, purification and release.

God Konesar is worshipped not only by Hindus, but also by Buddhists in large numbers. As such, let us all pray to God Konesar and receive His Divine Blessings.


Abirami Pattar's festival in Sri Lanka and India
Every year during the month of February "Abirami Pattar" Festival is celebrated in an elaborate manner in temples in Sri Lanka and at Thirukadaiyur in South India.

Many years ago in South India there was one devotee Goddess Abirami called Subramanian in Thiru Kadaiyur, Tamil Nadu. He had deep devotion towards the Mother Goddess Abirami, indulging in performing poojas, showering of flowers at the feet of Goddess Abirami. One day King SAROBOJI visited this temple when devotee Subramanian was meditating. The King Saroboji was provoked seeing Subramanian's ignorance about his arrival.

The king asked who that man was. One of the devotees told the King that he was mad in thinking that the other women as Amman and used to shower flowers on them. But, the Chief Priest of this temple told, that he was a deep devotee of Goddess Abirami.

The king wanted to test who he was. So, king Saroboji looked at Subramanian and asked whether today is New Moon Day (Amavasai) or Full Moon Day. At that time Subramanian was in eternal bliss of Goddess Abirami enjoying her beautiful face surrounded with thousands of sunlight. Subramanian answered the king that the day was Full Moon Day which was actually "New Moon Day" (AmaVvasai).

The king Saroboji got angry an ordered to push Subramanian into the burning fire at evening if the moon did not appear. Thereafter, the king awakened Subramanian and called him to come with them, to undergo the punishment. To be continued


The Ramayana tradition
Continued from Feb 19

Shanmugam Arumugam

"The Ramayana is not history or a biography. It is part of Hindu mythology"...... "Mythology is an integral part of religion. It is as necessary for religion and national culture as the skin and the skeleton that preservers a fruit, with its juice and its taste," states C. Rajagopalachariar in the Ramayanaya.

The Ramayana epoch is well rooted in the traditions of Lanka.

The Ramayana, narrates events, believed to have taken place in the epochs of 20 centuries before the Christian era.

The story of the Ramayana is one of traditional knowledge to everyone in Lanka.

Kubera, a Raksha, by his thapas of merit, was gifted with riches and was placed in charge of Lanka, the Yaksha Kingdom and Lanka Pura, the capital city built by Visvakarma, the architect of the Gods.

However, because of their abuses, the Rakshas were banished and lost their kingdom too.

But Ravana, the eldest offspring of Kuvera's brother Vishrava others being Kumbakarma, Surpanaha and Vibhushana, by austere penances, wrested a boon of immortality and the Kingship of Lanka from the Gods, the Rakshas thus came back to power over Lanka. In the exuberance of their newly gifted power, they dared subdue the whole universe, even Indra, King of the Devas was defeated and taken captive.

The Rakshas were an ugly, fierce, and carnivorous tribe, unlike the Yakshas or the Nagas.

Ravana himself was a great devotee of the Lord. Tradition has it, that his chief object of worship was the Shiva Lingam at Koneswaram, Trincomalee; Thiruketheeswaram Temple also would have received his devotion.

The Ramayana records wherever the Lord of the Rakshas went, a golden Shiva Linga was borne before him and he placed it on a sandy altar and worshipped it with flowers, perfumes and sandal paste.

Having paid homage to that symbol that delivers all beings from their sufferings and which was large and exceedingly beautiful, adorned with a crescent moon, that Ranger of the Night, with uplifted arms, danced and sang before it" - The Ramayana of Valmiki; translated by Hari Prasad Shastri, Shanti Sadan, London, 1959, Uttara Kanda states; "Ravana goes to the banks of the Narmada River." To be continued


[Folk deities]
The Agni Puthri daughter of fire God
Thilaka T. Wijeyaratnam

In the district of Thirunelveli in South India was a small village called "Mavalioothu". The wealthy farmer and land owner of the village had employed a young man of the untouchable caste to care for his cattle.

As was customary in villages farmer's beautiful unmarried young daughter is up in the mornings and going to the cowshed to collect the fresh cow dung, to mix with water and sprinkle outside the court yard. Her mother died when she was very young and her step mother was a wicked woman.

Whenever she went to collect cow dung the step-mother suspected her of going to meet the young attractive labourer. He also keeps the cow dung ready for her. Besides, he would collect flowers and fruits for her.

A friendship between the two developed into love. Soon everybody in the farm got to know of this romance. One day while the two were intimately chatting in the cowshed, the step mother caught them red handed. The young man darted out and while doing so accidentally pushed the woman. She fell on a stone and with her head bleeding and she wailed loudly. The girl also was scared and ran away. The farm head sent the people to catch them.

There was a heap of hay piled up in a field. The girl hid in there.

The young man lost his way in the dark and fell by chance into a well and was dead.

This girl had a parrot as a pet. The farm head's clerk told his other labourers to free the bird and follow it.

They did likewise. The bird flew to the field and sat atop the pile of hay. The labourers knew the girl was in and informed the step mother.

She ordered them to set fire to the pile of hay. They expected her to come running out to save her life. But the girl thought, "If my clothes get burnt, I will have to be without clothes before all these men. Better for me to die than face the humiliation". So she stayed without coming out. When the hay stack was reduced to ashes the village folk saw that the body of the young girl was burnt but remained there like a statue.

Naturally the emotional village folk attributed some divinity to her called her "Agni Puthri".... and worshiped her. They washed her with turmeric water and burried her there. One of the devotees then got into a trance.

She spoke. "For cruelly setting fire to this goddess, you have committed blasphemy. As such every year during festivals, one from your family should fire walk. She will protect you."

They had planted a banyan seedling there. It is now a big tree. Annually fire walking takes place and the person comes out unscathed. So another folk deity was born.

Courtesy Kalaniooran - in Kalki


The Voice of the Avatar
K.S. Sivakumaran

We are told that the word Avatar in Sanskrit means that the Almighty descend from the celestial Heaven down the earth in human form. In Thamil we call it Avatharam meaning reincarnation. But in Sinhala I am told it means apparition. Let that be.

Recently readers might have seen a Canadian film in English called Avatar. From what I gathered from the film was that it implicitly suggest the transmigration of a soul in reincarnation. In Thamil it is called "Koodu Viddu Koodu Paaithal".

There are many reincarnated sages around the world who preach and practice Universal Love primarily based on Hinduism. Among them is Sri Sathya Sai Baba.

I see him as human representative of the almighty doing service to the people at large particularly in the field of education and health.

In other words he is an Avatar from my point of view and belief. It does not mean the other saints and sages are different. They too preach and practise in their own ways. They are all contemporary mystics.

Although I had been to Puttaparthi a number of times I was unable to have an eye contact with him leave alone having an audience with him.

Perhaps this is due to my immaturity and skepticism which I have not surrendered to surrender at his feet. But implicitly he communicates with me through some positive signs and helps me ward off a few difficulties that I encountered.

Recently I came across a monthly magazine published in 2005 in England (Heartfield Centre) celebrating Sri Sathya Sai Baba noble pronouncements.

For the benefit of our readers let me assemble some of the words of the Sage.

* You remember God when distress assaults you; you forget Him when you are free from it.

* Your life can be peaceful only when you can control the excitement of your body and mind.

* You can reach perfect bliss only when your heart becomes free from envy, egoism, greed and other evil traits; spend the time with God who can make your shoulders strong and your burden light.

* You should not pray God for secular advantages; you should pray only for grace.

* You must necessarily have three essential qualities like Discipline, Devotion and Duty.

* You have to remove wasteful and wicked thoughts from your heart, plough the heart with good deeds, water it with love and manure it with faith.

* You should not try to differentiate one religion from another, the end and aim of all religions and all castes is one and the same.

* You serve yourself by serving others.

* You come alone when you are born; you go alone when you die.

* You can find the foot prints of God wherever there is beauty, virtue, humility, justice, truth, love and peace; you can hear the foot steps of God, only when silence reigns in the mind.

* You must surrender your judgment to the Lord; then the Lord will assume full responsibility.