Thursday 28 July 2011

The Body Temple (Part 3)

Sri Paramahamsa Sachchidananda Yogeeswarar

As told by the yogi:-

"...That is why elders have always said that Lord Shiva is "Abhisheka Priya" (The One who is fond of ablution).In that manner the learned elders made sure that the water from the 'ragi' vessel was positioned on top of Lord Shiva's head which was a part of Shiva Linga before they left the temple. After a few days the learned elders went back to the temple to check ( with the aid of their yogic insight )whether the water from the 'ragi' vessel which was tied right on top of the Shiva Lingam had successfully cooled the yogic fire of Lord Shiva. They found out that the temperature of the yogic fire of Lord Shiva was brought down only to a certain degree and not fully to their satisfaction.
Following is what they did to cool down the yogic fire of Lord Shiva fully.
In the beginning when the temple was built, a 'ragi' vessel was not tied on top of the Lingam with water pouring down, neither was there a 'Nandi' in front of the Lingam. The tying of 'ragi' vessel filled with water on top of the Lingam and placing the idol of 'Nandi' in front of the Lingam were all done only after these learned religious pundits were able to assess the presence of Lord Shiva's head in the Lingam (through their yogic insight). I shall narrate the reason why these learned scholars installed the idol of 'Nandi' in front of the Lingam, please listen to me.
Bull (Vrishabham) is the vehicle for Lord Shiva. The bull grazes in the landscape outside the temple and later comes inside the temple to lie down randomly, chewing on the grass. At such a time, if Lord Shiva wants to Grace a particular devotee (who has been doing penance for several years), He comes out of the Lingam and attaining the human form He beckons the cud-chewing bull to mount the animal, speeds to the devotee whose penance had fructified, grants the devotee his desired boons, returns to the temple riding the bull, alights from the bull and reenters the Lingam. As soon as the Lord alights from the bull to reenter the Lingam, the bull once again goes out of the temple to graze and return to the temple to lie down somewhere chewing grass. I shall tell you how the learned elders instructed the bull.
They called out,
"Oh, Nandi, please come here!"
The Nandi obediently came to stand close to the elders as soon as it was beckoned. The elders then seated the Nandi right oppsosite the Lingam and placing their thumb and index fingers on its horns tried to assess the alignment between the centre of the Lingam and the middle of the Nandi's nostrils. After adjusting the Nandi's face for perfect alignment between the points between the mid-nostrils of the Nandi and the centre of the Lingam, the elders spoke to the Nandi as follows:-
"Oh, Nandi! From today onwards, please do not go anywhere and remain seated in the same position. Fan the Lord with your breath of inhalation and exhalation."
Having said thus to the Nandi, they beckoned the Pujari of the Temple,
"Oh, Archaka! From today make sure that men and women who come to the temple to pray do not come inbetween the Nanadi and the Lingam to enter the "Moola Sthaanam". Please ask them to enter either from the left or right side of the Nandi." The elders only told that much to the Pujari , without explaining the entire science behind the position of the Nandi. Thus the Pujari remained ignorant of the science behind the placement of Nandi right in front of the Lingam. The fact has been illustrated in the diagram above. I shall further explain why the Nandi is seated right opposite the Lingam.
Devotees who come to the temple place their index finger and thumb on top of the Nandi's horns to view Lord Shiva without knowing the science behind the act. The devotees are ignorant of the fact that the Nandi is seated in front of the Lingam to cool the yogic heat of the Lord by fanning the Lingam with its inhalation/exhalation process.
After some days the learned elders came back to the temple to find out through their yogic powers, if the yogic heat of the Lingam was nullified by the aid of the Nandi's breath-fanning. They were delighted when they discovered that the yogic heat of the Lingam was fully cooled and erased. The elders who were very pleased instructed the Nandi and the temple Pujari one more time to continue in the same manner and went back to their residences.
After these arrangements continued, there came a time when Lord Shiva who was residing in the Lingam felt compassionate towards a devotee whose penance had been continuing in all its intensity for several years. The Lord wanted to Grace His devotee and came out of the Lingam. As He stepped out of the Lingam, He instantly became heated in His own yogic heat as He came out of the dripping water from the 'ragi' vessel above and the fanning of the Nandi's inhalation and exhalation process. The Lord unable to bear His own heat beckoned the Holy river Ganges and tied Her up in His thick braids. Instantly cooling down He went to attend to His devotee, granting him desired boons and returned to the temple. As he stepped close to the Lingam, He released the Holy Ganges from His braids and sent Her back to Her place before entering the Lingam to be in His state of yogic self-absorption.
Now I will explain to you why only in Saivite temples Nandis are placed in front of the Lingam and not in Vaishnavite temples. Why is Garuthmantha (the Eagle-vehicle of Lord Vishnu) not placed right in front of Lord Vishnu? I will tell you the reason! Lord Vishnu is the Sustainer and does not remain in yogic self-absorption. Consequently, Lord Vishnu's body is not heated due to yogic fire. There is no need for Vishnu's vehicle, Lord Garuthmantha to fan Lord Vishnu with his inhalation and exhalation.
That is why in Vaishnavite temples the temple tower (Gopuram) comes first, then the "Dhwajasthambham", the Bali Peetham in front of the Dhwajasthambam, and the Moola Sthaanam (inner sanctorum) from the Bali Peetham and nothing else in between the Bali Peetham and the Moola Sthaanam. All the Vaishnavite temples are constructed in the above fashion. A few learned religious authorities have erected Lord Anjaneya's idol between the Bali Peetham and the Moola Sthaanam.
In Saivite temples, as we enter the temple we find that starting from the Nandi the darkness spreads around the area and the darkness increases as we reach the Moola Sthaanam. The darkness in the Moola Sthaanam where God resides is maximized and a ghee-lit lamp flickers near the Lord. We can also notice that there are no other lamps all the way upto the Moola Sthaanam where God resides.
Oh Andhra-residents of Ganjaam, Visakhapatnam, Godavari, Krishna, Nellore districts and towns, I have visited all the temples in your areas when I toured the state. Alas, I found that the Moola Sthaanams in all the temples in your areas are not dark. I had even visited the magnificent temple of Varanasi, even there the Moola Sthaanam is not dark! The Moola Sthaanams of temples in Chennapuri, South of Chennapuri, starting from Chengalput District all the way upto Rameswaram have been constructed by our ancient learned elders designed to make the area of the Moola Sthaanam pitch-dark. I fail to understand why in Andhra Pradesh the temples have not been designed to make the Moola Sthaanams dark.
Anyway, let me explain why the Moola Sthaanams of Saivite temples in Tamilnadu are pitch-dark..."

(To be continued........)

The Body Temple (Part 2)

Sri Paramahamsa Sachchidananda Yogeeswarar

As told by the yogi:-
"Samadhi is a state where the practitioner succeeds in fully controlling his mind by shutting his mind to all mundane thoughts. Therefore devotees who go to the sanctum-santorum to have the darshan of God should not seek material favours. The devotee's only wish and aspiration should be to attain the Lotus feet of the Lord. With a clean and pure heart and with a steady gaze (by not looking here and there) the devotee has to enter the sanctum-santorum of the temple. The mind becomes fickle if the devotee allows his/her gaze to wander here and there. A fickle mind invites desire.Therefore the devotees should focus there total attention and thought on God as they enter the sanctum-santorum of the temple.

At the entrance of the sanctum-santorum, the devotee will find "nandi" seatedin front of the Sivalingam(please find the arrow mark on the chest region of the author indicating the placement of "nandi" in front of the Sivalingam.

Few devotees walk right in front of "nandi" as they enter the sanctum-santorumof the temple. Such devotees are immediately corrected by the temple priest,"Please do not obstruct the "nandi". Kindly walk to the right side or left side of the "nandi". Then the devotees would want toknow the reason why they should not obstruct the "nandi".The priest replies, "I do not know the reason why "nandi" should not be obstructed.I am only repeating what the elders have preached!"The priest is ignorant, I will tell why one should not walk in front of the "nandi".

Lord Siva is a great yogi. He therefore is always immersed in yogic fire. The Siva temple was built at the time of creation. Few learned and elderly men visited the temple at that time. They stood right in front of the Sivalingam and as they viewed the Lingam through their yogic gaze they realised that the Lord was full of yogic fire. I shall tell you what those elders did to cool the yogic fire of the Sivalingam.

They instructed the temple priest to tie a vessel made out of "ragi" metal (the vessel has a wide opening, narrowing down at the bottom which has a small hole) to chains in such a position and manner so that the vessel is positioned right on top of the Sivalingam. The elders instructed the priest to keep the vessel full of water at all times, so that the water flowed continuosly in a thin line through the hole over the Sivalingam. (You may find the water flowing steadily in a thin line
in the "Body temple" diagram).
Cold water is heating and hot water is cooling .There is a famous saying, "Ushnam Ushnena Sheethalam" (heat combined with heat produces coolness). The cold water (which is heating by nature ) pouring slowly and steadily on to the Sivalingam makes contact with the heat produced by the yogic fire of the Lord. By applying cold water's heat, the temperature of the yogic fire of the Lord is instantly brought down and cooled."

(To be continued....)

The Body temple (Part 1)

Click on the photograph (of Sri Paramahamsa Sachchidanada Yogeeswarar) to enlarge.
Cuddapah Sri Paramahamsa Sachchidananda Yogeeswarar, born in Kanchipuram on February 16th, 1865 and attained 'nirvikalpa samadhi' on January 7th, 1957, was a great devotee of Ekaambreswara Nadha of Kanchipuram from the age of 12. It is believed that He had the darshan of Lord Ekaambreswara in the guise of a sage. The website has lot more information about His Holiness.
In His book, "Shareeradevaalaya Rahasyaardhapaarijaathamu", His Holiness Sri Paramahamsa Sachchidananda Yogeeswarar has shown His body as the temple of God. He has explained as follows:-
As per the photograph above, in the lying posture, He has stated that the elders have determined the feet to be the "Gopuram" (tower) of temple.The ten fingers outlining both the feet are the ten "Kalashams" on top of the Gopuram. As we enter the temple through the "Gopuram-Feet", we first encounter "Prajaapathi" in the form of the "Dhwajasthambam"(Prajapathi is the Supreme God Who presides over procreation and is the Protector of the Universe).
In order to dispel any doubts that may arise in the minds of the readers, His Holiness has explained why the male reproductive organ is depicted as Prajaapathi. As the Creator of women, men, elephants, horses, cows, buffaloes, donkeys, dogs, deers, other wild and tame animals, crawling creatures like snakes, tortoises, ants, bugs,worms etc. and flying creatures like innumerable varieties of birds, mosquitoes, creatures that live in water like fish, and other sea -creatures, it is but natural that the reproductive organ of the male stands for the Dhwajasthambam. The primary deity for Prajaapathi is Lord Brahma according to epics. Moreover, the navel is placed in front of Prajaapathi. This navel represents the "Bali Peetham". The Bali Peetham is where the sacrifice is performed. His Holiness has named the 10 sacrifices one must perform in this place:-
1)Desire:- Desire for somebody's wife, one's own wife, sons, daughters, wealth, accumulation of property. Narakasura had perished due to this quality.
2)Anger:-Unable to bear other's prosperity and even attempting to hinder their growth. Bakasura had perished due this quality.
3)Selfishness:-Enjoying one's own wealth greedily, not sharing even a little with anybody. Duryodhana had perished due to this quality.
4)Fascination:-For mother, children, spouse, not being satisfied with one's own wealth-trying to accumulate more and more property. King Dasharadha had perished due to fascination for son, Lord Rama.
5)Arrogance:- Excessive success and accumulation of wealth could lead one to this state, where the native does not care for the feelings of others. Karthaveeryaarjuna perished due to this quality.
6)Spitefulness:-Not being able to bear others' prosperity even though the native himself is prosperous and happy. Trying to subjugate others and their growth. Sishupala became the victim of Lord Krishna's discus due to this quality.
7)Pomposity:-Giving charity, performing "yagnas"(holy rituals) on a grand scale only to impress others. Puroorava Chakravarthi is a fine example of this quality.
8)Condescension:-Assuming oneself to be the greatest in personal and monetary affairs. Parashurama had this quality.
9) Intolerance and ill-will:-Wishing that others are as unhappy as oneself. Hari Sakshi had this quality.
10)Jealousy/Envy:-Trying to harm those who have harmed you. Poundareeka Vasudeva had this quality.
Even if men and women do not possess every quality mentioned above, they may have atleast one or two qualities out of the 10 bad qualities. Therefore, these qualities have to be sacrificed at the "Bali Peetham" (navel) to enter the sanctum santorum of the temple with a cleansed and purified heart and mind.
The process of sacrificing the bad qualities at the "Bali Peetham" is as follows:-

As we enter the temple tower (Gopuram), and past the "Dhwajasthambam", we must stand next to the "Bali Peetham" with folded hands praying fervently, "I am sacrificing all my bad qualities and tendencies here at the 'Bali Peetha'. Now I do not possess bad qualities. Now I am going to enter the sanctum santorum of the temple to have the 'darshan' of God."
After offering salutations to the "Bali Peetham" and purifying ourselves we must enter the "Moola Sthaanam" (sanctum santorum) of the temple without any thought or feeling. When we are able to enter the 'moola sthanam' totally devoid of thought or feeling, such a state is called as "Samadhi."
(To be continued.....)

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Ooru Kutcheri

Following many requests to write about my travel experiences, I am publishing this light-hearted article, my experience in one of my innumerable concert tours in the past.
Ignoring the mobile which was ringing in my hand, I checked my handbag for the umpteenth time to see if I carried my train ticket. Thank God it was there! My husband reminded me about my water bottle. Wiping the sweat on my brow I replied, "Ya, I think the watchman kept the bottle in the car." Finally I answered the mobile, my guess was correct, it was my mother. "Amma, emiti?"
My mother sounded anxious, "Gayathri, neellu theesukunnaavaa? Trainlo emi thintaavu?(Have you taken drinking water, what will you eat in train?)"
"Amma, don't worry, we are having our dinner in Woodlands on the way to station."
"Be careful, call me as soon as you settle in the train."
I assured her, " Don't worry Amma, I will....."
She cut me short,"Have you packed the contact mike, veena strings and .."
I told impatiently,"Amma I have to rush, I will call you as soon as I board the train, ok?"
My mother was not satisfied with the conversation, "Ok, but don't forget to call!"
"Sure I won't!"
My husband was already outside the house, waiting in the car for me.
Hurrying across to the pooja room, I prostrated to Sri Vidyaranya Swami's idol and coming to the drawing room I stood in front of Lord Venkateswara's photo for a second and in front of Sri Ranganatha Swamy's photo too and prayed.
"Saab bula rahe hain." It was the watchman.
I rushed out of the house and pulled the door shut, my tension building at the thought of carrying my veena safely through the crowds in Chennai Railway Station.
As we drove to the hotel I declared thoughfully, "I don't want to travel with veena after this, I am fed up of carrying the instrument in all that crowd."
My husband observed, "You keep telling this everytime you go on a tour."
I sighed and started counting the hours to get back home, 2 nights in train, approximately 36 to 40 hours to come back home!
Thank God it was not a long trip!
As our car entered the railway station, I eyed the chaotic scenario in the railway station complex. Cars were lining up at the entrance to drop off passengers and their luggage.
Getting out of the car I looked around anxiously for a porter who seemed efficient enough to carry a musical instrument like veena. Even before I could call somebody, I saw my husband handing over the luggage to a porter.
I told my husband anxiously,"Don't give the instrument to him, he will not be able to carry the suitcase as well as the veena."
The porter understood my telugu.
"Don't worry Madam, I know how to take the guitar along with the suitcase."
Momentarily confused I realised he was referring to my veena!
Without bothering to correct him I exclaimed,"No no, you can't take both!'"
My gaze scanned the surroundings for another porter.
The porter highhandedly bent down to pick up the veena, suitcase in his other hand.
"No!", I shrieked and ran to grab the veena from the porter.
"Ayyo, Madam, why are you so worried?! Just last week I carried a guitar for an old lady along with 2 suitcases! I know how to do it, just leave it to me."
Refusing to be convinced I said firmly,"No means no, just give it to me."
My husband assured me, " Athanu theesukuntaaduley, nenu athani venakaaley velthaanu, veena kindha padakunda choosthaanu, nuvvu oorikey worry avaku! (He looks capable of taking the veena, I will walk right behind me and keep a watch on the veena to see he doesn't drop it. Don't panic!)"
Feeling helpless I winced as he bent down to pick up the instrument in a swift movement, lifting it up high, and placing the trunk of the veena over his shoulder.
I tried not to shriek as I voiced my protest.
"I know how to carry Madam..." I could see that he was getting impatient.
I told him firmly, "Look here, you either carry the instrument the way I tell you, otherwise give it to me."
He relented,"Ok, pl. show me how I must carry it."
Out of the corner of my eye I noticed my husband smiling at me while I showed the porter how to carry the instrument.
"Lecture-demonstrationaa?" my husband teased me.
"Yemi chesedi, kharma!" I answered. Suddenly feeling a wave of boredom and tiredness wash over me I realsied that I must have gone through the same railway station-scenario over a zillion times, in all my countless concert tours in the past.
As we walked through the chaos inside the station, the porter tried to chat me up.
"Do you play guitar on tv?"
The interview session was always the most dreaded thing for me as I hated answering questions regarding my profession.
"No." I said briefly, trying to move away a little in order to avoid conversation.
Not taking the hint the porter adjusted his gait towards me "Do you come in some tv serial?" he persisted.
My eyebrows knit in irritation, "No", trying to divert his attention I added, "You may drop the instrument, be careful."
The porter replied carelessly, "Don't worry Madam, I won't drop it."
After some silence he looked sideways at me, his eyes bright with surprise and pleasure as he exclaimed, "Now I know, you are a newsreader on some tv channel, no wonder you look so familiar!"
I had to smile in reply. The very next moment the veena slanted towards the back and I caught the instrument, preventing it from sliding further.
"Look, this is what I have been cautioning you about and you kept telling me that you knew how to carry it, now just give it to me."
"No no, I will manage", he protested, adjusting the veena back into position once again.
Glancing around the station, my eyes were inevitably drawn to a huge hoarding that displayed a collage of passport size photographs of petty thieves and criminals. The caption in bold letters, "BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS....." warning passengers of the presence of such criminals around the place brought a smile to my lips. That poster always reminded me of what a mridanga vidwan told me once (who is well-known among music circles for his tremendous sense of humour) while we waited on the platform to board the train. A well-known music organisation advertised its performing artistes of the year in a similar fashion and the mridanga vidwan joked that the general public could be confused between the two hoardings (Central Station hoarding and the poster advertising the music organisation's artistes), owing to their identical designs and layout of the hoardings! I chuckled to myself as I reached for the ringing mobile in my handbag. It was the same mridanga vidwan on the other end,he asked,"Hi, are you already in the station?"
"Ya, where are you?"
"Just finished a concert and coming directly to the station."
"Oh, what about your dinner?"
He replied that his wife packed his dinner for the train.
"Oh, good, then we will meet in the morning."
"Ok, bye!" he said
"Bye, good night!"
As I was nearing the train another porter walking past our way teased my porter,"Hey, when did you start playing sitar?'
My porter retorted,"It is not a sitar, it is a guitar."
Rolling my eyes upwards I walked towards the compartment to search for my name on the chart.
Relieved to find my name on the chart I got into the train, my husband took the veena from the porter, asking him to keep the suitcase inside the compartment while he waited on the platform with the veena.
After paying the porter my husband got down from the train,"Call me as soon as you reach there. Be careful, take care."
I waved bye to him but found him making a u-turn and walking back towards me as though he suddenly remembered to tell me something, a hint of a smile on his lips.
"Emiti?" I asked curiously.
"You know, some people came to me and asked me for my autograph while I waited with the veena on the platform." His smile broadened.
"Your autograph?!" I exclaimed, my eyes widening in surprise.
"They mistook me for Chittibabu!"


Aim Hreem Shreem Aim Kleem Sowm Shree Maathrey Namaha.
Shree Gurubhyo Namaha.

Tuesday 19 July 2011


Swan is a bird of elegance, beauty and purity. Hamsa in Hinduism is the bird vehicle of the Goddess of Learning, Saraswathi. The swan-shaped constellation, Cygnus in the zodiac sign, Libra is believed to be the seat of Goddess Saraswathi from where scientists, many decades ago detected a hissing noise defined as the "Omkara" which pervades the Universe and oneself.
Vedic astrology states that 'Hamsa Yoga' occurs when Jupiter is in a kendra from the ascendant or the moon, in his own place or in the sign of exaltation (Cancer), should neither be combust nor conjoined with malefics or aspected by the same.
Results of Hamsa Yoga:-power of discrimination, equanimity of mind, mental state of a yogi while leading the life of a King (yogi/bhogi).
'Parama-hamsa' means 'Supreme Swan', applicable to evolved souls and Spiritual Gurus (like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa).
Hamsa also figures in Soundarya Lahari, for example, the 38th sloka is as follows:-

Bhaje Hamsadvandvam Kimapi Mahathaam Maanasacharam
Yadaadaththey Doshaagunamakhilamadbhayaha Paya Iva."

Meaning of the sloka: "O Mother, I adore the pair of swans (Shiva-Shakthi) who take delight in imbibing the honey of the full-blown lotus of knowledge of the anaahatha chakra (heart chakra), and who swim in the minds of the great. Their mutual conversation is what have become the eighteen arts, and they separate good from evil, the way the swans separate milk from water."

The twin swans are depicted as Shiva-Shakthi and known for their power of discrimination.

In my recent trip to a famous park, I visited cottages representing various countries and their respective spiritual/cultural beliefs. Walking into the House Of Persia, I was fascinated to find information about the significance of the word "Hamsa" in Hebrew and Arabic. Hamsa finds place in Jewish Kabbalah, Islam and Judaism for centuries, but archeological research reveals that Hamsa originated with the Phoenicians (Phoenicia was an ancient civilization in Canaan, and most of the Phoenician cities were built along the coastline of the Mediterranean.) and associated with an ancient Middle Eastern Goddess.
The famous "Hamsa Hand" is an ancient Middle Eastern Amulet bringing its wearer great prosperity, joy, health and spiritual upliftment. It is also known as the "Hand Of Miriam" named for the sister of Moses and Aaron.
The word "Hamsa" (Arabic) or "Hamesh" (Hebrew) means five representing the five books of Torah for Jews, fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, "Heh" which represents God's holy names, Five Pillars of Islam for Sunnis, Five People of the Cloak for Shi'ites. For the Jews it reminded them of the five senses to be used for the praise of God.

Top photo is of the Phoenician Goddess of fertility Astarte (Goddess Lilith according to Jewish mythology) displaying Her open palms, second photo,Hindu Goddess of Learning, Saraswathi, third photo, Hamsa Hand Amulet of the Middle East.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Emergency Landing!

Pilot training days of my mother before emergency landing into music as per instructions from ground staff (my grand father)!!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

81st birthday !

Smt and Sri M.Balamuralikrishna

81st birthday celebrations of Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna, the legendary singer/composer of unparalleled brilliance on the 11th of July. I sought his blessings on phone since I was not in Chennai for the event held at AVM Rajeswari Kalyana Mandapam on July 11th,2011. My best wishes to his wife, Smt.Annapurna and family on the occasion!

Monday 4 July 2011

Poochi Thillana

Late Sri.T.M.Thiagarajan

This Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar's thillana in Hindolam, set to adi thalam (tisra nadai) is one of my favourites, I particularly enjoyed learning this piece from my Guru, late Sri.TMT.