Monthly Archives: April 2020

Full moon on Amavasya day!

Abhirami

Subramanya Iyer was a great devotee of Devi Abhirami (Parvathi) of Tirukadaiyur. He would sit for hours together lost in contemplation in front of Devi. So intense was his devotion that he looked upon all women as manifestation of Mother Goddess and run to them and fall flat at their feet addressing them as ‘O! Mother’, whether in the temple or on the street. People even thought he was mad.

Serfoji I Bhonsle, who was King of the Thanjavur Maratha Empire from 1712 – 1728, came to the temple for darshan on a particular new-moon day. Everybody there made way for him. But Subramanya was sitting right in front of the deity, completely immersed in dhyana. On seeing him, the king enquired and was told by people around that he was an insane person. To test this, the king put forth a question to him asking what was the ‘tithi‘ that day. Subramanya who was in ecstasy, mentally seeing nothing but Devi’s divine face, beautiful and shining like the full-moon in the autumn sky, blurted out that it was full-moon day! The angry king walked away with a challenge that if he failed to see the full-moon at dusk, Subramanya would be burnt alive.

The temple priest woke him up from his meditation and explained what had happened. Subramanya was unperturbed. He said, “My divine Mother made me utter these words and so it is now Her responsibility to keep up Her words”.

Subramanya was made to climb onto a suspended wooden plank which was slowly being lowered. Down below was raging fire. It was dusk. Subramanya invoked His Mother, Sri Abhirami with beautiful verses. When he had just completed the 79th verse, Goddess Abhirami gave darshan to him in the skies. She removed Her diamond ear-ornament and tossed it into space. It stood there in the sky shining like the full-moon for all to see! Subramanya continued to sing Her praises. The ropes snapped, the fire got extinguished. The king realized his mistake and sought forgiveness from the great devotee of Abhirami.  Subramanya was henceforth called “Abhirami Bhattar”. His beautiful collection of verses are known as Abhirami Anthaadi. Anthaadi means “End – Beginning”. The last word of each verse is the beginning of the next verse! Even to this day, devotees sing these verses on Amavasya and Poornima days at Devi’s Altar.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

Devotion — The milkmaids of Vrindavan

Krishna and Gopis

The people of Dwaraka were indeed proud that their devotion to Lord Krishna was supreme. Realizing this, Lord Krishna decided to teach them all the essence of genuine devotion.

One day the Lord collapsed on the bed crying that he had unbearable headache. At once the queens and Sage Narada who had come to have darshan of the Lord immediately summoned Dhanvantri (Lord of medicine). Dhanvantri came and gave medicine but the Lord’s headache was not cured. Since Dhanvantri himself could not cure the Lord, Narada asked the Lord to himself suggest the cure for his pain.

Lord Krishna told Narada that the medicine to remove his headache would be the dust of the feet of a genuine devotee, which when applied to his forehead would cure him completely. Everyone was shocked on hearing this. Narada approached the wives of the Lord if they could provide the dust of their feet. They refused saying that they would go to hell if the dust of their feet was applied on the Lord’s forehead. None of the people in Dwaraka obliged fearing the sin that would incur to them if they provide the dust of their feet.

Finally Narada approached the Lord for a solution. Krishna asked Narada to go to Vrindavan and approach the gopis. Narada immediately went to Vrindavan. Seeing Sage Narada, all the gopis came running and offered their pranams. Narada narrated the whole incident where the Lord was suffering and he had come to collect the dust of the feet of a devotee.

One of the gopi immediately went and brought a piece of cloth, laid it on the ground and all the gopis stamped their feet on the cloth. They folded the cloth with the dust of their feet carefully, and asked Narada to take it and apply it to the Lord’s forehead. Narada was surprised and questioned the Gopis whether they were not worried of the sin they would incur because of  which they would suffer in hell. The Gopis at once replied that to relieve the Lord of his pain they were ready to go to hell and suffer any amount of pain.

Narada came back to the Lord with the cloth filled with the dust of the Gopis’ feet, and narrated what happened at Vrindavan to all. The headache had vanished and the Lord got up and smilingly looked at all those assembled there. The wives of the Lord and the people of Dwaraka realized the superiority of the devotion of the simple, humble milkmaids of Vrindavan — the Gopis.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

Gajendra Moksha

Gajendra moksha

Gajendra, the king elephant, very powerful and strong, was sporting in the beautiful lush green forest lands in the valley of the Trikuta mountains, along with his herd of female companions. After a while, exhausted they all entered into a beautiful lake to quench their thirst. Unaware of the danger awaiting them in the form of a crocodile, they started sporting in the waters.

A crocodile dwelling in the lake seized the foot of the king elephant and started dragging it into the waters. The elephant on the other hand tried with all its might and strength to release itself from the jaws of the crocodile. But in vain. There ensued a great tug-of-war between the two. All the other elephants tried to help but having failed, left the site. The crocodile seemed to become stronger and stronger while the lonely elephant started getting exhausted.

At that point of time, realizing its utter helplessness, the elephant sought refuge at the feet of the Lord. Gajendra plucked a lotus from the lake, held it up in its trunk and invoked Lord Sri Hari with a beautiful, ardent prayer: “Narayana Akhila Guro Bhagavan Namaste”. The entire invocation is known as “Gajendra Stuti”. The Lord known as the Saviour of the afflicted, out of infinite compassion, alighted on his vehicle Garuda and immediately came to the rescue of Gajendra. Sri Hari released His Sudarshan chakra which instantly killed the crocodile. The Lord Himself pulled Gajendra out of the lake and rescued him.

Spiritual Significance: Gajendra represents an individual living amidst temptations, fallen into the lake of samsara and seized by the crocodile called ‘ego’. Any amount of effort to get released from this monstrous ego becomes futile. Left all alone in life’s journey, the only refuge is the Lord. And the moment, we invoke the Lord with all our faith, devotion and knowledge (represented by the lotus), the Lord immediately comes and saves us from drowning in the pool of samsara. The ego is destroyed by the Sudarshan. When the ego is eliminated, what remains is “Su-darshana” – the “Divine Vision” – the State of Enlightenment.

[PS: I request all to please forward and share these value based stories rich in our culture and tradition to elders, youth and children]

Divine Grace of the Guru

Adi sankaracharya

Adi Sankaracharya was the greatest among the Indian philosophers.  He is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva. In the span of 32 years, he walked the length and breadth of our country Bharat to bring about an awareness in the minds of the people of the spiritual oneness underlying the diversity of this great subcontinent.

Sankaracharya established four mathas (monasteries) in four quarters of India to spread the Advaita philosophy. They are Sringeri in the south, Dwaraka in the west, Badri in the north and Puri in the east. Four prominent disciples of Adi Sankaracharya were the first heads of these Mathas. Totakacharya was the first head of Badri Matha.

Totakacharya was a young boy when he met Adi Sankaracharya. Then his name was Giri. As a student of Adi Sankara, Giri was very disciplined and hard working, but was not very bright.  Daily he watched the beaming faces of the disciples when they grasped the teachings of the Master. Giri often felt that he was not blessed with the intelligence to follow and understand the lessons taught by Adi Sankaracharya. However with great faith and devotion, he continued his service to the Acharya cheerfully.

Once Giri was washing the Master’s clothes when Adi Sankaracharya sat down to begin his class. Since, Giri had not arrived,  Sankaracharya was waiting for him to complete his daily chores. One of disciples asked the Master politely the reason for not starting the class, when the Acharya replied that Giri had not yet come. The other disciples exclaimed that it would not matter as Giri was not bright enough to understand the teachings. Adi Sankaracharya calmly replied that Giri ‘listens’ attentively.

At that moment Sankaracharya  decided to bless Giri for his devoted service and hard work. He mentally bestowed Giri all the knowledge of the spiritual sciences and Vedas.

The student who was busy with his daily work, suddenly felt that he was completely soaked in the grace and blessings of his Guru. Collecting his clothes, he made his way straight to his Guru and prostrated at his feet. In that ecstatic moment, he sang a beautiful sanskrit poem in the totaka meter, in praise of Adi Sankaracharya. The disciples were astonished at the miraculous change and total transformation in Giri, and were surprised at the deep and profound meaning of the verses from one who could not even speak a sentence correctly in Sanskrit till a few moments ago. This poem came to be known as Totakashtakam. Thus a humble student Giri became Totakacharya, and became one among the four prominent disciples of Adi Sankaracharya.

True disciples have to meet their Master but once...the disciple's life pattern changes and in his own inner maturity, he climbs the heights within. - Swami Chinmayananda