Category Archives: Temples

Secret of Om Namah Shivaya revealed!

contd. from my last post

Next day, we woke up to a beautiful rainy morning making the place even more charged up and livelier. The weather was just perfect for us to start our day, though it continued raining. The driver took us to a ‘special’ mess, I don’t recollect the name though. It was a medium-sized room painted blue, with half its ceiling thatched, water dripping inside at intermittent places, with different sized tables and chairs, and there was no place to sit, so full of customers! The ‘wait’ers in the ‘special’ mess hardly knew anything about ‘customer’ service. 🙂 So, we had to ‘wait’ till someone listened to us. But, when the breakfast was served, it was too tasty and was worth its ‘wait’. The kumbakonam ‘degree kaapee'(that’s how coffee @Kumbakonam is specially known) smelt and tasted so good, with the weather adding to it! I can smell kaapee as I type this…

After our पेट pooja, we set off to the Suryanarayanar : Sun God temple. Unlike other temples where the main deity is Lord Shiva, in this temple the main deity is the Sun god. But still, there was a place in the main shrine where there was Lord Shiva and Parvati. We got a little wet in the rain and felt cold as we waited in the queue.

Sri Suryanarayanar – Sun God

But, as we entered the shrine, we could feel the radiance of the Sun, the luster, the ‘soothing’ heat, seeing the Sun God was just magnificent! One more thing is that, the Guru (Planet Jupiter) stands just in front of Sun inside the shrine. It seems, this arrangement is so as to cool down the heat intensity of Sun’s rays. Even science says that the Jupiter absorbs all the harmful rays, the meteors, etc. from the space and protects the earth! 🙂

Rahu, Serpent God at Thirunageshwaram

After this, we visited Sukran (Venus – the lord of prosperity), Chandiran (Moon – For Healthy Mind and body), Rahu (the North lunar node) and Guru (Jupiter) stalams. The Devi in Sukran temple shares my name ;-)! In each temple, we felt special and different – The Chandiran temple was so cooling and relaxing as expected; in the Thirunageshwaram temple for Rahu (Serpent God) – How the milk color changes to blue when poured on the deity is something to watch!

You can google and read a lot of interesting stories about these temples, instead of me CTRL C – CTRL Ving it here. 😉 One of the main realization that I had was, Guruji always tells us to chant “Om Namah Shivaya” to waive away any negative effects that can happen due to the planetary positions and transitions. In all these temples, one thing that was common was that all the Planet Gods are said to have prayed to Lord Shiva for saving them from their curse. All these temples have been systematically built, with a shrine for Lord Shiva such that people will have to anyways chant the mantra when they get there! Nice!!? 🙂

Also, in each temple, people light a lot of lamps, and it is said the planet Gods will do good to us if we do so. So, we too casually bought the lamps and lit in all the temples. For the first time, I felt so different after lighting the lamps in each temple; as if something in me got purified and nullified. Though lighting a lamp everyday at home is a trained habit from childhood, some realization happened in this trip. It not only purifies the surroundings, but also one’s self! You need to experience it to know it.

It said that the best days to go to each Navagraha-temple is on their day during the week. For Rahu and Ketu (North and South Lunar nodes), its Sunday and Tuesday respectively. But, even a weekend visit to these temples can get you an awesome experience! Just remember to sit, sing and meditate at least for few minutes in each temple instead of just rushing from one temple to another to complete the visit. 🙂

Or…
Just sit back at your place and chant (Om Namah Shivaya)*108 times everyday and all Navagrahams will do us all Good!

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Birthday wished by the planets!

This post had been in “draft” status for almost 5 months now, here it goes “publish”ed! 🙂

Last year, I got to celebrate my birthday at the Navagraha temples around Kumbakonam, a major temple-hub in Tamilnadu.

Our neighbours-friends-family, Shwetha and Vivek had planned to go these temples on the 29th and 30th Oct’11, and had asked us a week back if we would like to join in. But, Prasanna and I had booked “tatkal” tickets to go to Chennai. Prasanna, all of a sudden on 28th morning, wanted to pay a visit to these temples. By this time, I too had the same desire. 🙂 So, within an hour, the route changed from Chennai to Kumbakonam and bus seats booked. Yes, we do donate money to Indian Railways every year like this. Happy Railways!

On my birthday, we reached Kumbakonam at around 6 am, booked a cab, got ready, had breakfast, Kumbakonam degree coffee ( 😉 ) and we set off! We decided to start with the goddess Divine, visited the Lalithaamba temple at Thirumeyachur, she is said to be the embodiment of all Gods and Goddesses. The statue of the Goddess was so beautiful, she was decked up so well and it was as if She was sitting there!

Lalithambikai at Thirumeeyachur

This temple has its story of a devotee seeing the Goddess in dreams and She asking her to adorn Her(statue) with anklets. The devotee had taken the anklets, the priest told her there was no provision in the devi’s statue for the same. But, when he went to the shrine, to his surprise, there was a small gap exactly to fit in the anklets! 🙂 We sat there, sang a few devi bhajans, meditated, felt blessed and grateful :-). Really beautiful temple.

After this, we went to the Shaneeshwarar(Saturn) temple. It was a Saturday and we wanted to attend the special pooja with Abishekam for Shani bhagawan that happens every Saturday. One of my well wishers-astrologer-friend-guide had mentioned that Shaneeshwarar plays an important role in Prasanna’s and my jaatakam(horoscope). That made Him all the more important. When people talk about Shaneeshwarar, they usually create fear – as if He is sitting just to watch us and punish us. But, in this temple, the planet God is in the peace blissful blessing form, they call Him “anugraha murthy” here. The temple was super crowded as expected, with nearly 1000+ devotees in long queues. The best part is the darshan there! Among these 1000+, how we got the best darshan, is something I(we) wonder! Somehow we were sent close to have the best darshan of the abhishekam, archanai and aarathi. The best part did not end there… The place is close to the sea, so it was hot and sultry the whole morning till… Just as we came out of the temple after the amazing abhishekam, archanai, lighting sesame oil lamp, having prasadam – there was a soothing cooling drizzle! – as if all the Gods, Goddesses, including Shani bhagavan blessed us from the heaven! waaaaaahhhhh! I felt sooo blessed, grateful, contented! After this, the climate of all the places that we visited changed from being hot, sultry and tiring to cool, breezy, and refreshing!!!

After the happy drizzle! 🙂

By this time, it was afternoon and we had stopped at Karaikal to have lunch. The driver had mentioned to us that we will have nothing to do for the next 2 hours as usually, in Tamil Nadu, the temples are closed during this time – 1pm – 4 pm approx. and This being the case we might not be able to make it to all the 9 temples of the planets by the next night. But, after lunch, he suddenly remembered that the “Ketu shtalam” (temple of South Lunar Node), is open on that particular day during that time, because of the “yamagandam” time between 1:30-3:00pm! We reached the place, Keezhaperumpallam, in an hour and the time was 5 minutes to 3 pm :)! We were just at the right auspicious time, for which people usually plan and visit that temple! What a ‘divine’ planning!!? 🙂

After Ketu, we went to the Budan(Mercury) temple, Thiruvenkadu (or Swethaanranya in Sanskrit means Sacred White forest). This is one temple that all of us loved for the way it was built! It is built over a HUGE area and there are 3 temple tanks inside the temple compound.

Chandra Teertham - Temple tank at Budhan temple, Thiruvengadu

Just as we went close to the temple, we felt very good. The soothing cloudy climate with a light drizzle added more flavor to it. This temple has several shrines that have their own amazing stories. Budhan is responsible for knowledge, music, intelligence, healthy brain and the nervous system, charm, and many other things. Among the 9 temples, where the main deity is Lord Shiva, this one specially has a shrine for Lord Narayana or Vishnu. It is said that Budhan is the son of Chandran, the Moon god, and Lord Vishnu rules over Him. Budhan is the planet Mercury and in Seven days, Wednesday is His :-). Budhan is said to have meditated in front of the temple tank “Chandra teertham”. It is an awesome place to meditate. We spent quite a good amount of time in the shrines, especially one of the devis here, “Bhrahma Vidya Nayaki” – one would feel that She is just sitting there for giving the highest knowledge!

After spending 2 or 3 hours in Budhan temple, we went to Vaideeshwaran temple. Here, Lord Shiva is said to cure all types of illness in the health. Planet Mars, or Chevvai(God of Tuesday) is regarded as the God of physical strength and valour and he is also believed to cure any type of prolonged diseases. He is said to be the Son of Earth and is ruled by Lord Subramanya. Lord Rama had also been to this place and had performed the last rites of Jatayu, the vulture, who had tried to protect Goddess Sita from Ravana. We had a beautiful darshan at all the shrines here.

A lot about these temples is available online, each temple has many stories. Best to experience them!!! 🙂 I had been to these temples once before when I was in college. One remarkable difference of then and now is that I had a BIG list to ask for then, but this time, I just felt so happy, grateful and contented(tears), I had to think hard if I really needed something… Sadhana-Seva-Satsang has made a difference! 🙂

Next posts on rest of the planet Gods and some realization that I had :-)…

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I love my Guru… My love(Guru) story :-)

With Guru poornima this year ‘raising‘ on July 25th, I wanted to type in something about my Guru(s). If I look back, look at now, look on to my future, I cannot see a single day where I had not been blessed by my Guru(s?!). I am not sure how many of you can relate to these posts of mine – As, it’s so much of an experience to even understand or decipher this even to the smallest possible level! It can be a lot of ‘show off’ too for some. Well, it just means that I am feeling extremely lucky and grateful for everything and you are free to feel the same too!!!

From when I can remember, I think I was 3 years when my parents took me to the near-by Shirdi Sai Baba temple in Mylapore. Then, once I remember me just walking early in the morning in the Margazhi month to Baba temple, may be I was 5 or 6 then. I remember it so well as I was really scared – I had never ever imagined to go anywhere alone and this was a km and a half from my house. Once I reached there, I felt a real sense of achievement. When I came back, my parents, my aunt, uncle felt the same and were surprised ;-). I was thrilled!!!

It started then and continued with my peripa(uncle) taking me to the temple everyday. I did not have any reason to go there, but you see, I anyways had nothing much to do after school! In the night, before they shut the temple, there is yummy dry fruit milk prasaad, I sometimes used to go exactly when the temple closes for this! Anything that I wanted in life… smallest to the smallest was taken care. I’ll go to the temple, just had to ask for, or sometimes it had even got done even before I asked for(which I realize now).

Over the next years, I started doing all this as though I was following a discipline, one most important thing in the “discipline” was to do 108 pradakshanams and 9 adi prasakshanams, having no idea why, but just because it felt good or to have my wishes fullfilled and that my family will be taken care off or just to thank for some miracle in my life. Pradakshinams are good – they get engineering papers cleared too!;-) My whole idea of spirituality, religion, devotion, bhakti, love, happiness, sharing my failures, sharing success stories, started, happened and ended in the lovely Baba temple, sometimes in few more temples around. Got a fan club going in the Baba temple too ;-)(Can’t resist showing off this :-P). Did my bit of seva that some guys regularly started coming to the temple and used to wait in different corners of the temple till I finished! Who cares, my pradakshanams kept going! Some times meeting with friends also happened in and outside the temple and long long conversations used to go on till it gets late to reach home(Meechi, you reading this?!)…

Sai Baba with His devotees

My peripa used to tell me the best of stories from the life of Sai Baba, the way He took care of His devotees, the way no one goes unnoticed by Him though He is not living in His Human form, the way He brought people together when He was alive, the way He fulfilled all the wishes of His devotees and took them away from any lil’ misery, how He used to cook for His devotees and part take, that there used to be celebration with music and dance in His place everyday and a lot more of them. I was sooo much in love and bhakti with all His stories and of course with Him, that I broke my boundary of not reading any books – Sri Sai Satcharithra was my first book that I read from 1st to last page, that too in a span of 7 – 9 days!(That is till date an achievement, if you had read my ACK post, you would have known my competency in reading books 🙂 )

Every time I had gone to Shirdi, dunno because of what lifetimes of punyam of my parents or my peripa or mine or whosoever, I got the best of best treatment and darshan – somehow some random person will know my peripa and take us through to the best darshan place and to be nearer to Baba for a long time with least effort; remember, he was not a politician nor a “VIP” category government official. But, see I just happen to be one of the VVIP category for Baba ;-). My peripa’s devotion and commitment to serve Baba was extremely commendable and from Himachal to Kanyakumari at lease one person from almost all Baba temples would know him. And I feel extremely lucky to be the daughter of his sweet brother :-).

When I was in my 3rd year of engineering, something more happened – Baba introduced me to come to my then new Guru — shhh… reserved for my next post 🙂

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Aandal – one who ruled over the Lord through her Love! :-)

As I had mentioned in the post on Margazhi thingal, Aandal is one of the main godesses of the month and is known for her work – Thiruppavai, a composition of 30 verses. She sings these on each day of the month. On the 30 day, she gets married to the Lord Ranga Mannar, because of her Supreme love and devotion towards Him.

Her story starts like this…

Vishnucitta, who was incharge of doing pooja to Lord Vishnu in Srivalliputthur, a place in South India, found a beautiful girl child beneath a tulsi plant in his garden. Vishnucitta was delighted and named her Kodai or Mother Earth’s gift, and took her home. As she grew up, he used to tell her stories of Lord Vishnu and His various forms. Soon, she started helping her father string the floral garland for the Lord every morning.

She always imagined herself to be like one of the gopis of Krishna and had so much of love for Him, that she wanted to get married to the Lord. One day, she wanted to see how the garland she made for the Lord looked on her. So, wearing the garland, she peeped into the well in the courtyard to take a look at her garlanded self. When she was doing so, her father caught her doing this. As, it is generelly considered inauspicious to offer anything to the Lord, that was already used by a human being, he was extremely upset and scolded Kodai for commiting such a sin and made a new garland and offered it to the Lord. But, the Lord did not accept it. It kept falling down again and again. Perplexed and worried, he prayed and cried to the Lord as to why He did not accept his garland.

That very night the Lord appeared in Vishnuchitta’s dream and asked him why he had discarded Kodai’s garland instead of offering it to Him. He told Vishnucitta that He wanted only that mala that was worn by Kodai. This moved Vishnucitta so much and he started to realize the Divine Love that existed between the Lord and his daughter.

From then, Kodai has been respected by the devotees and came to be known as “Aandaal”, the girl who “ruled” over the Lord through supreme love. She is also known by a phrase “Soodi kodutha Sudarkodi” which means “The bright creeper-like woman who gave her garlands after wearing them”. She is one amongst the Alvars* and is also regarded as Bhoodevi, or the Goddess of Earth, as she was first seen on the ground.

During the month of Margazhi, with full love for the divine, she does a cute penance of waking up early in the morning (early = bhrama muhurtham, 4:00 am), taking cold water bath, waking up all her friends and then going to the temple singing songs of the divine, focussing and dedicating the whole month only to the divine. The whole month she does not eat any dairy products, which is supposed to be a necessary part of food and does not beautify herself. This, she does for 26 days and on the 27th day, she, along with her friends, finishes her vrat and makes a ghee saturated and overflowing “sakkarai pongal” and everyone celebrates – this day is called the “Koodaraivalli”! 🙂 In almost all the houses in Tamilnadu, they prepare this dish on the 27th day of Margazhi … it’s yummy, no adjective can fully explain it’s taste!!!;-)

One of the most romantic works of Aandaal is “Nachiyaar Thirumozhi”(Nachiyaar = Aandal, Thirumozhi = wise sayings), in which she narrates in vivid detail, her dream of marrying Lord Vishnu. This is a celebrated poetic work and is chanted during wedding rituals even today :-).

It is said that the Lord once again appeared in Vishnuchitta’s dream and directed him to bring His bride Aandaal to the temple at SriRangam, where He would marry her. Following the divine ordinance, Vishnuchitta led Aandaal in a bridal procession to the grand temple at Srirangam, where Aandaal walked in and disappeared into the sanctum of the temple, merging completely with the Lord. (It’s so cool, isn’t it??!!)

The story of Aandal and her love towards the Lord Vishnu is very much similar to that of Radha during the time of Krishna. I personally love this story because, I have always felt a personal connection with all the Gods and Godesses, that they are not somewhere high above, but can be attained through divine Love – bhakti :-).(If you get what I mean!)

Vishnuchitta, a great devotee himself, came to be called as Periyalvar and is also one amongst he alvars (*Alvar / Aazhwar – meaning those immersed in God).

The temple at Srivalliputtur is wonderfully constructed, you can even today see a garden there where Aandal was first found. The Gopuram huge and very beautiful. It is contained in the emblem of Tamilnadu Government.(my sis wanted me to put this emblem thing here! :-))

Note: My dear staunch learned friends : the above story is based on my limited knowledge.:-) You can differ! 😉

PS: This year, 2010, on the Koodaraivalli day, 7 of us(thanks to Priya and my mom for the apt suggestion of the dish) prepared lunch for Guruji!! And guess what??!! We had prepared the ghee overflowing Sakkarai Pongal for Him, and believe me, it had never ever tasted like it, till date!!! The most lovliest tastiest Pongal we had!

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