Monday, July 26, 2010
Dedicated to Hindu God Murugan, Skanda Vale in Wales in the UK, is one of the most famous temples run by a community of white monks and nuns.!!!
Monday, 26 July 2010
Wales Skanda Vale:
A unique temple in UK
Shyamala Devi Karunakharan
Dedicated to Hindu God Murugan, Skanda Vale in Wales in the United Kingdom, is one of the most famous temples run by a community of white monks and nuns.
Located in a hilly, dusky and picturesque landscape, it consists of three separate temples in quite a big area, with the main shrine dedicated to Lord Murugan, the second to Maha Shakthi (Kaali) and the other to Lord Renganatha (Lord Vishnu). The place draws an ever increasing number of devotees regardless of their religion or belief.
The monks and nuns who run the temples have taken strict vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and spiritual devotion which they follow with a lot of commitment.
Although the temple is of an extremely modest building structure for its popularity, the profound dedication practised there is unbelievably overwhelming and rich in its own approach. Unlike other temples, there are no charges for poojas, prasadam, accommodation or transport. The worship of God is free at Skanda Vale.
The serene atmosphere in which the temple is located adds peace and tranquillity much desired by those who are there at any point of the year. A brief stroll along the beautiful green lawn leads to the Lord Ranganatha shrine, supposed to have been built lately.
Caravans parked against the flowering shrubs overlooking the pine trees across a precipice, facilitate the devotees who come from far away places to stay overnight and be present at the early morning pooja activities. Although there is no cost for any facility at Skanda Vale, donations are accepted in order to meet the daily expenses and maintenance.
Lord Renganatha shrine
The Kali temple up in the hill takes approximately a 40 minutes walk through the woods. This gives an opportunity to wander along the woods amidst the singing of the birds and the gentle breeze.
There is an animal farm run by the community, often making the visitors to indulge in a true village environment.
The inner shrine of the Kali temple and the pious surrounding with the true performance of religious obligation by the monks and nuns in robes engulf you completely and drive you through the corridors of spirituality to a complete new world. It is an experience too subtle to be described. The way they perform the pooja inevitably sets an example to very many temples world over where religion and spiritualism are fast becoming a lucrative business.
The key principles at the temple are the worship of God in his universality and recognising and valuing all religions and cultures.
The community encourages personal spiritual experience while ensuring the original faith of the devotees is sustained or rather enhanced. No conversion is sought there. Spiritual refreshment is provided to a large number of devotees.
This community of the many names of God was founded by Guru Sri Subramanium as a monastic centre in Wales during 1973. This Sri Lankan Swamiji who came to Britain four decades ago was thoroughly overwhelmed by the destruction in Europe during World War II. Since then he was obsessed with the thought of building a temple in order to value all religions and cultures and thereby developing a strong relationship with God.
Motivated by his wisdom with the grace of Lord Vishnu, Guru Sri Subramanium found the present location and built the Murugan temple first in 1975, then the Kali temple up in a hill and later the Vishnu temple. The Swamiji passed away two years ago.
A monument was unveiled in memory of him last year in the premises.
A monk who came there 20 years ago and had worked together with the Swamiji since then admits that the love and happiness he gets in assisting the poojas is absolutely immense. The temple adheres to a strict set of rules and regulations out of which the most important requests the pilgrims to be a vegetarian for at least three days prior to their visit.
It is a treat to see the white monks and nuns partaking in the poojas chanting precisely the mantras and bajans in Sanskrit, Hindi and Tamil with such dedication and affection.
Skanda Vale is a must-visit place in Britain for all those who believe in spiritual composure.
The Yoga of comradeship
Thilaka V. Wijeyaratnam
Chakravarthy Rajagopalachayrar (Rajaji) was the first C-in-C of Independent India. His book on St. Lawrence was called Tholamai Yogam – The yoga of comradeship.
St. Lawrence communicated with the Lord – Spoke to Him as if to a friend and poured out his heart to Him.
In the series – Don Camillo by Giovani too, Don Camillo the priest talks to the Lord. It was written in a lighter vein.
In as much the same way St. Sundara Moorthy Nayanas also, in his life on earth communicated with God Siva as a comrade.
He was so close to God Siva that he addresses Him as a friend – In fact God Siva Himself has pronounced him as His pal.
Originally Sundarar was in Kailas the abode of God Siva, as a close devotee of God Siva. Daily he would pick flowers and collect Holy Ash for God Siva. At the same time, there were two maidens called Aninthithai and Kamalini who were serving Goddess Uma, the consort of God Siva. These two also picked flowers to string garlands for the Goddess.
It so happened that when Sundarar was picking flowers, three damsels also were close by. Hearing their voices, Sundarar peeped to see the maidens, and was attracted towards them. God Siva knower of all things could see that Sundarar had failed in his discipline and told him.
”Since your mind is not steady, you had better go back to earth, marry them and enjoy life”.
Sundarar, utterly humaliated begged God Siva to take him back unto His fold.
God Siva promised to do so at the ripe time.
That was the secret of Sundarar’s birth. He was born to one Chadaiyanar and his wife Isaignaniyar. They were strong Saivaites.
One day when he was a young boy, Sundarar was playing.
The king of the land, who happened to pass by saw that the boy was no ordinary one, and desired to bring him up in the palace. So with the approval of the parents, he was taken to the palace, and given all luxuries.
As he came of age, the father wanted him settled in life.
A marriage was proposed and Sundarar went on horse back to the nuptial chamber (Manavarai)
While the ceremony was going on, God Siva as promised, came in the guise of an old man and stopped the marriage, saying Sundarar’s ancestors have signed a bond of slavery to him.
Angrily Sundarar called him Pittithe madman – The old man produced the ola scripts wherein Sundarar’s ancestors have said that their entire generation would be bonded slaves to Him.
Sundarar asked the old man for his whereabouts.
Thiruvennai Nallur is where I dwell, said the old man.
”Let’s go there and settle this dispute said Sundarar, and the entire party followed him to Thiruvennai Nallur.
On reaching the place, where there was a temple called Thiniarudthurai.
He went up to the temple and vanished. While all stood dumb struck, there appeared God Siva on a white bull with Uma beside Him.
”As you requested I have taken you”, said God Siva.
As you spoke sternly to me you shall be known as Van thondar the stern devotee.
Sing me in Thamil said God Siva.
Sundarar wanted to know how to begin. “You called me a piththa - mad man -start so”, said God Siva.
Sundarar immediately sang his first song on God Siva.
”Piththa pirai soodi Perumane” arulala
Eththan maravathai ninaikindren manthunnai
Vaithai pennai thenpal bennai Nallur arud thurayul
Aththa unakalayini allelenalamo” meaning
You madman, with the cresent moon on your crown bless us,
I will forever remember you in my mind
With the beautiful maiden beside you at Nallur Arudthurai,
Other than surrender to you, what else is there for me.
Thereafter he was one of God Sivar’s foremost disciples.
God Siva performed many miracles for him. With the right of way Sundarar would demand His help and on many occasions God Siva complied with his requests.
He settled a misunderstanding with Sundarar’s first wife Parvaiyar (aninthini in former life in Kailas) and helped him to marry Sangiliyar (Kamalini formely in Kailas) also.
Once during famine Sundarar begged God Siva for provisions and there were bags and bags of paddy. He implored God Siva to have them transported to his house and the Siva ganangal - attendants of God Siva delivered them at his house.
Sometimes he accused God Siva of being indifferent to His devotees.
We devotees are forever your slaves. But when we devotees suffer in life, you of Thiruvaroor do not seem to take note of your devotees’ sufferings. Oh yes! you dwele well in Thiruvaroor”.
This was his comradeship with God Siva. He took liberties with Him because Himself pronounced Sundarar as His companion.
Bagavad Gita’s impact on modern society
Despite enormous, awesome force man has, the world is still plagued by endless and myriad of problems. The solutions to these problems lie in the integrated development of individual personality. In order to direct this power in the right way we must strive for intellectual enhancement, evaluate confusing situations and derive constructive conclusions.
In the Bagavad Gita philosophical theories are couched in a language of least confusion and it suggests schemes for self improvement which are unique in their variety and effectiveness.
In the Bagavad Gita Lord Krishna assures with a divine eloquence that success in one’s birthright.
Sky is the limit to the success, man can achieve and Gita also instructs that one has to train the mind and intellect to analyse, evaluate and decisively act even in a web of complexities – in confusing situations, sensitive conditions and threatening challenges.
Further, the greater contribution of the Gita to the modern society, apart from its priceless spiritual teachings is its emphasis on work, dedicated hard work for the good of society and the welfare of the people.
The Bagavad Gita which forms the part of Maha Bharatha is the more populous religious poem of Sanskrit literature.
It is said to be the most beautiful, perhaps the only true philosophical song existing in any known tongue.
It is a book conveying lessons of philosophy, religion and ethics. In fact, Gita is the most influential work in Indian thought. Its message of deliverance is simple and it teaches a method which is within the reach of all, that of Bhakti or devotion to God.
The way of life taught in Bagavad Gita is quite consistent with the mood and requirements of modern world. Hindu religion can be approached in a scientific spirit.
Ancient seen treated religion on the whole as a search for truth and not as a matter of Dogma. It continued to be rather a science of the spirit than a body of dogma. Naturally, therefore, every variety of approach to the ultimate truth is permitted in Hindu religion.
Yoga is the name given to that state of mind which helps a man to live a dedicated life while engaged in worldly affairs. A great deal of dedication and devotion are necessary to enable a man to live in this world.
Furthermore, Lord Krishna was a formidable warrior, an unsurpassed statesman, the greatest philosopher and world teacher. As Arjuna’s charioteer he decided the fate of the great battle of Kurushetra. On the battle field the armies of the Kauravas and the pandavas stood face to face, poised to destroy each other.
Seeing on the opposite side his cousins, uncles, grand father, teachers and several close relatives and friends Arjuna finds himself unable to fight and puts his weapon down.
Declaring himself the teacher of universe, Krishna reveals to Arjuna the man profound knowledge and expounds the importance of duty above everything else.
This is how Lord Vishnu happened to deliver the eternal message of Bagavad Gita.
Indeed, this world is a battle ground and there will be problems like the waves in the sea. We cannot run away from problems.
We have to face the problems and the teachings of Bagavad Gita given in the 18 chapters will guide us to get over from unending problems.
Undoubtedly, to a world lost in error, beset by illusions of time, weighed down by complexities, trials and tribulations conflicts and contradictions, the teachings of Bagavad Gita will definitely help us to live in peace maintaining tranquility, equanimity and serenity.
Diyana (Intense Prayer)
Dr. Ramamoorthy, a neurology specialist says that cells in the brain gain strength when one is engaged in intense prayer and meditation in silence. He advises that everyone should engage in this daily for at least 15 minutes at any time of the day.
This should be done before meals. One shouldn’t be in a hurry. One should not engage in Digana thinking of doing something at hand. After the meals there should be an interval of 3 hours.
In Saivaism there are five Puranas. They are:
Thevaaram, Thiruvaasagam, Thiruvisaipaa, Thiru sallandu and Thirupuanam
Kanthan, Murugan, Subramanium are some of the names ascribed to Lord Muruga. In Lanka most of theSaivaites give primary importance to Muruga, who is the deity in Kataragama or Kathirkamam as the Tamilians call this shrine.
The Annual Nalloor festival begins on August 15, this year.
Karaikal Ammaiyar, a great saint and poetess who was an embodiment chanting prayer and devotion lived in the third century. The name given to Karaikal Ammaiyar by her parents was Punitavati (the holy one). She grew into an extra-ordinary beautiful lass. She was married to one Paramadattan.
Karaikal Ammaiyar belonged to a wealthy merchant clan. When devotees of Lord Shiva came to her house shelfed them and gave them gold and gems. Her domestic life was full of pure joy. One day some men called on her husband in his place of business and gave him a couple of mangoes.
He sent these to his wife. A few minutes later, a devotee of Lord Shiva with the view to get fed, called on her. She received him in the proper way. As she had not by them completed her cooking, she could not serve the guest with any side dish. However, she provided him with a mango fruit.
The devotee guest ate well, thanked her profusely and took leave of his. After sometime, her husband returned from his place of business to have his mid day meal. He finished bath and sat for his lunch. He had his square meal along with the remaining mango fruit.
As the fruit was extremely sweet like honey he said; “There should be are more, serve me that also.” She moved away as if to fetch the fruit. She fervently prayed to Lord Shiva and came by a fruit forthwith.
July 16,2010 – The Maha Kumbabisbekam Festival of Sri Arunasala Eswarar Kovil was held at Modera, Colombo 15. Large number of devotees participated. Chief Priest Sivasiri K. Senthilkumara kurukkal performed a special pooja for the main Kumbams (Holy Water Pots). Pic. A Maduraiveeran
July 15, 2010 Siva Shri Kumaraswamy Siva Achariyar’s book Siva Aagama Segeram Pradishda Vithi was launched at the Hindu Mamanthra Hall in Jaffna. The first copy is presented by the Hindu Samaya Peedathipathy Maheswaran Kurukkal to Sivasri Muttu Kurukkal. Also in the picture are: Chief Priest of Nallaui Aatheenam Somasundara Deshiya Gnana Sambantta Paramachariya Swamijal and K Ishwara Kurukkal. Pic. A. Maduraveeran