Thursday, May 5, 2011

For peace, compassion, and harmony ..!!!


Chariot festival:

For peace, compassion, and harmony
Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

The Sri Venkateswara Mahavishnu Devasthanam is situated at Mattakkuliya, Colombo 15 and the annual festival commenced with flag hoisting on April 19 and the chariot festival took place on Sunday May 1. Further, the Board of Trustees has made elaborate arrangements for the success of this festival.

According to historians, 3,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ, Sri Krishna took a Divine Birth in the Indian city of Madurai. Scriptures call him ‘Purva Avatara’ that is the full manifestation of God. Lord Krishna was a teacher and lover of mankind. He is most accessible to the pure hearted who have cultivated true love for him. The simple, rustic cowherd boys and girls took liberties with Sri Krishna who enjoyed the sport in their company.

Further, Sri Krishna is the greatest Karma Yogi of all times. He was the friend of the poor whom he protected from the oppressors. He was the embodiment of humility. His immortal teachings and Karma Yoga, Bhakthi and Gnana Yoga have no parallel in religious literature.

The Bhagavata Purana, the Vishnu Purana and Maha Bharatha proclaim that there is none to match Sri Krishna in beauty, in wisdom and perfection. His enchanting form with flute in one hand is worshiped by millions in India and Sri Lanka.

In fact, Sri Krishna was the towering genius of his age. He embodied in himself all the great qualities of the head, heart and hand. Every word of his teachings and every act of his life was full of substance and meaning. In the Maha Bharatha battle he was the charioteer to Arjuna and when Arjuna saw his relatives and cousins Duryodanas in the Kurushetra battleground he was reluctant to fight and absolutely paralysed by doubts. At that time, Lord Krishna got rid of his doubt and taught him the immortal teachings of Bhagavad Geetha and enlightened him.

Indeed, Lord Krishna was considered to be the preserver of the universe and he is the object of devotion. He descended to Earth as a great hero to save mankind and establish Dharma. Further, Divinity is like a brilliant chess player making his moves as the giant chessboard of life, unseen and intangible and stimulating man to respond to all his moves. If we make a wrong move, he will not hesitate to counter it. Indeed, all his moves are only to make us as perfect as himself. God may be cunning, but not malicious.

Lord Krishna

Hindu mythology talks about the progress to perfection in an allegorical way as shown by the ten incarnations of Maha Vishnu. His first incarnation was in the goldfish, the second as a tortoise, third as a boar, fourth in the form of Narasinha, fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu was Vamana, short statured man, the sixth incarnation was Parasurama, seventh incarnation was Balaraman, eighth incarnation was Rama and the ninth incarnation was Lord Krishna to destroy the wicked demons and to take a leading part in the Kumshetra battle between Pandavas and Kauravas. Furthermore, when there is a decline in morality and spirituality and the cosmic order gets disturbed Maha Vishnu will take the form of Kalki Avataram to establish Dharma in the world.

During the Chariot or Ther festival the statue of Lord Vishnu will be decorated and illuminated and taken along the streets in a chariot carved out of pure silver and laden with gold deities and studded with diamonds, rubies, amethyst etc which move slowly from the temple. In fact, Chariot festival symbolizes peace, compassion, harmony and prosperity.

The Chariot symbolizes human body and the statue of Lord Vishnu is the Soul. In front of the chariot are the wooden horses depicted as galloping and the reins attached to their mouth are held on the hands of image of Lord Vishnu.

These horses represent human passion and the reins symbolize the necessity of restraining and guiding these passions. The journey of the Chariot through the streets symbolizes 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.


Thaayumaanavar - a great Saiva Gnani
K S Sivakumaran

About 350 years ago during the Naayakkar Period in South Indian history, a seeker of truth and God, virtually a knowledgeable (Gnani), was working for the king, Muththukrishna Nayakkar who ruled from Thiruchirapalli.


On his suggestion the king organized a conference of Siddantha and Vedantha scholars primarily to find out from them about the Almighty and related subjects. However, he could not find answers to some of the doubts he had towards religion. He disliked the materialistic life and with earnestness sought knowledge to merge with the Almighty. He came into contact with a sage called Mowna Saami who inspired him. The latter simply told him “Summa Iru” meaning “Just Wait”. This led Thaayumaanavar’s ability to control his thoughts and concentrate ultimate being, the Almighty. Meditation led him to see things better. He could feel that “Maaya”, the Illusion prevents the realization of the real. After the demise of the king Meenaksshi came to power. She innocently enticed Thaayumaanavar to possess him, but he saw in her Maaya and left the kingdom with his disciple Arulaiyah.

However Fate designed a marriage for him and he wedded Kulali of Thirumaraik Kaadu. They had a son named Kanaga Sabapathy. After the demise of his spouse he left his son with Siva Sithamparam Pillai and pilgrimaged seeking ways to renounce the worldly desires. His disciple also followed him.

On his journey progressing as a pilgrim he and his disciple reached Ladchumipuram near Ramanathapuram in Thamilnadu. There he began his Nishdai (deep meditation free from confusing thoughts pointing towards eternal bliss reaching with the Almighty.) More and more disciples surrounded him to receive Thaayumaanavar’s blessings. He yearned to leave this material world to form a constituent part of the Almighty. It happened then when he realized the concept of Monism (Aththuvidam)

The songs and verses of Thaayumaanavar have enriched Thamil Literature. Apart from the deep philosophical findings he learnt through felt experience, his beautiful lines show his scholarship and deep piety. From the beginning of his life he had a spiritual side within him.


Significance of cosmic dance of God Shiva
Sinnathamby Rasiah
Shiva the destroyer, protector supreme ascetic and Lord of the Universe. He is Ardhanarishwara half man and half woman The whole life process is imminent in Him, but He transcends it and inhabits a mental, emotional and spiritual space, which is difficult to understand through intellectual process alone. To embrace Shiva, to comprehend His power, involves an intuitive leap into our deepest selves.

Natural phenomena
The cosmic dance of Shiva Natarajah is both symbol and reality. It is the movement of creation, preservation and dissolution. The three activities symbolize the principle of Maya, God’s endless impulse takes place within each of us, within every atom of the Universe. At the end of each yuga, each aeon, the great God in his aspect as Natarajah, dances the death-dance to herald pralaya, the dissolution of the cosmos. At the time of destruction the Universe burns, the element of earth dissolves into water, fire devours the water, water is dissolved into wind, wind gives way to space, the multitudes of Gods dissolved into the unity of Brahman. Then the great Lord separates Prakriti, which is manifest nature and substance, from Purusha or spirit.

Cosmic dance of God Shiva

As Kala-kala, the destroyer of time, Shiva is consumed by the bliss of non-being. Encircled by flames, He restitutes the divine order of the Universe. The drum in His hand heralds the dance of creation just as the ashes smeared on His body signify the forces of destruction ever present in all that is living. The trident of Shiva (Spear with three sharp points) represents the trio of the creator, the preserver and the destroyer.

His spear the pasupatha is the weapon with which he destroys the universe at the dissolution of the yugas, the ordained time circle. God Shiva’s third eye is the eye of fire and symbolizes higher perception throughout past, present and future. A skull signifies Shiva’s power of destruction;n; the crescent moon on HIS head symbolizes his creative power, the Ganga river that flows from his head is a symbol of descending grace. God Shiva’s back left hand holds a blazing fire, the fire god agni, symbolizing his power of destruction samhara, by which the universe is re-aborbed at the end of each-cycle of creation only to be re-created again by God Shiva. This hand represents Na in the Panchakshara mantra, Na-Ma-Si-Va-Ya His planted foot stands for the syllabus Ma and symbolizing His concealing grace Lord Shiva’s left front hand representing the syllable Si held in the elephant trunk pose gajahasta pointing to his left foot source of revealing grace, Anugrakasakti by which the soul turns to him. Left and right back arms are balanced as creation and destruction. Shiva’s back right hand standing for the syllable Va, holds the thin waisted rattle drum, damaru, symbol of creation which begins with soundless sound Paranada from which arises mantra Aum. The front right hand is raised in the gesture abhaya ‘Fear not’, symbolizing Shiva’s power of srihti preservation and protection and standing for syllable Ya.

Lord Shiva’s raised foot symbolizes His revealing grace anugraha sakti, by which the soul ultimately transcends the bonds of anava, karma and maya and realises its identity with Him. He wears a skull necklace. Symbolizing the perpetual revolution of ages. The serpent jahnuwi adorns His body, symbol of kundalini power, the normally spiritual dormant force within man coiled at the base of the spine.

Raised through yoga, this force propels man into God realization. Shiva wears tigers skin, symbol of nature’s power His sash, katibhanda is blown to one side by his rapid movement the arch of flames, prabhavali in which Shiva dances is the hall of consciousness. Each flame has three sub-flames symbolizing fire on earth, in the atmosphere and in the sky. At the top of the arch is Mahakala “great time”. Mahakala is God Himself who creates, transcends and ends time. Shiva Nataraja dances with in the state of timeless transcendence. The double lotus pedestal mahambujapitha symbolizes manifestation From this springs Cosmos.

The above is the literal description of God Shiva. It is notable that the cosmic dance of Shiva Natarajah is both symbolic as well as realistic. It has great significance when analysed philosophically as well as scientifically and in the end some sort of similarity between them can be seen.

To amplify further it is appropriate to quote from Art historian Cumaraswamy. Speaking about Shiva’s dance he says “the clearest image of the activity of God which any religion can boast of.” This is from the spiritual point of view whereas scientific explanation is given to the cosmic dance of Shiva Natarajah by Fritjof Capra in his famous book. “The Tao of Physics” He explains Shiva’s Tandava in the context of contemporary understanding. According to him the dynamic view of the Universe as envisioned by the mystic is similar to that of modern Physics. As physics has shown that essential quality of matter is the movement and rhythm and all matter is involved in a cosmic dance, so do we encounter the image in Hindu philosophy as a spirit of nature. The energy dance is in Fritjof Capra’s words “a pulsating process of creation and destruction where not only matter but also the void participates in the cosmic dance creating and destroying energy patterns without end’. It is incontrovertibly as Cumaraswamy has said ‘poetry but none the less science.’

Himself creates, Himself preserves
Himself destroys, Himself obscures
Himself, all these. He does and
Then grants Mukti-Himself the
all pervading Lord” (Thirumantiram)


The annual Ther festival to mark the traditional Sinhala and Hindu New Year was held at the Sri Devi Karumariamman kovil. Here the decorated Ther chariot being taken in procession from the kovil premises around the streets. Pic: A Maduraveeran

A large number of devotees participated in the annual Chariot festival of the Sri Muthu Vinayagar kovil, Sea Street, Colombo 11. The ceremony was organized to mark the traditional Sinhala and Hindu New Year. Here the chariots are being taken in procession around the streets of Colombo city, and the devotees pay their tribute to God Vinayagar by breaking coconuts. Picture A Maduraveeran

The lucky Kala Mandam Kandy organized a felicitation ceremony to honour the members of the Arulmigu Sri Muthumariamman kovil, Wattegama recently, for the contributions they had rendered in their respective fields. Here young member Selvi Kulashika Mahendran receives an award from the President K Sivaraj while kovil trustees’ board members look on. Pic: A Maduraveeran