Monthly Archives: July 2020

Peter Padukas of Goddess Meenakshi!

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Madurai, the temple city was the capital of the Pandyan kings. Though they ruled the kingdom, they considered Lord Sundareswara and Goddess Meenakshi as the Divine Rulers of the kingdom and they were only their representatives. Once a year, symbolically, the sceptre of the Goddess was received by the kings, kept with them for a day and returned back to the temple the next day. In the present times, the temple administrators go through this procedure.

Rous Peter was the collector of the temple town of Madurai from 1812-1828. The famous Meenakshi temple also was under his administration. As one who respected other religions, he went about the temple administration also with great respect and sincerity. He treated the people of other faiths with love and respect. Every day, on his way to his office, he had to cross the temple. When he came to the temple, he would get down from the horse he was riding, remove his hat and boots, offer his salutations to Sri Meenakshi and carry the boots in his hands till he crossed the temple. The people of the town started addressing him as ‘Peter Pandian’. The title ‘Pandya’ is associated with the dynasty of the great kings who ruled in South India, with Madurai as their capital.

One night it rained very heavily. The river Vaigai was overflowing. Peter who was sleeping in his residence was woken up by the sound which was similar to the tinkling of anklets. He woke up and found a little girl, about three years old dressed in the typical silk pavada (silk long skirt or lehenga) and wearing beautiful ornaments in his room. She took hold of his hand and with the words: “Peter come, Peter come”, she almost dragged him out of his residence. The moment he came out, lightning struck his house and it collapsed. Peter was stunned. He looked back and saw the little girl running in the direction of the temple. He only heard the sound of the anklets and also noticed that she ran barefoot! 

Peter Stirrups

Peter was convinced that it was Devi Meenakshi herself who had come in the little girl’s form to save him. To express his gratitude to Goddess Meenakshi, he decided to offer something to her. Since she had come barefooted to his residence, he decided to offer to her,  a pair of golden stirrups to cover her feet. The stirrups were made of gold with rubies, emeralds, diamonds and other precious stones. The name ‘Peter’ was engraved behind the stirrups. Even to this day, during the Chithirai festival, on the panchami (fifth) day, when Goddess Meenakshi rides on her ashwa (horse) vahana, these stirrups adorn her feet. They are also known as “Peter Padukam”. 
After retirement, Peter refused to go back to England. He stayed in Madurai. His last wish was that he should be buried with his eyes facing Goddess Meenakshi. His wish was fulfilled and he was buried with his face towards the temple. 

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Mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath

Sage Narada once visited Vaikunta to have darshan of his beloved Lord Narayana and His consort Lakshmi. Pleased with his devotion, Sri Lakshmi told him to ask whatever he wanted and she would fulfill it for him. Narada had seen Lakshmi serving food to Narayana and desired to have the food (prasad) served to Narayana. Lakshmi told him that was not possible because she had promised the Lord that food offered to Him would not be given to anyone. Narada insisted saying that she had promised to give him whatever he wanted. 

Goddess Lakshmi was in a dilemma. When she was serving food the next time, she narrated everything to the Lord and asked Him for a solution. The Lord understood the situation and told Lakshmi that He would relax the restriction just for one day and she could give the naivedya prasad to Narada. Lakshmi was very happy and she gave the prasad offered to Narayana to Narada. The moment Narada partook of the prasad, he went into an ecstatic mood. He totally forgot himself and started singing and dancing. He danced his way through all the fourteen worlds and finally reached Kailasa!

Lord Shiva was surprised to see Narada in this never before intense blissful state, and enquired of him the reason for his ecstasy. Narada replied, “It is all the glory of the Mahaprasad of Lord Vishnu”. Sankara immediately asked Narada if he had brought some prasad for him. Narada said he hadn’t, but suddenly saw a small particle of the prasad still on one of his fingers. Very happily, he gave the grain of prasad to Lord Shiva and he joyously relished it. The moment Sankara partook of the prasad, he too got into an ecstatic mood and started dancing his tandava! 

All the gods were now worried. The Lord’s dance can initiate an untimely deluge. At this point of time, Uma, Shiva’s consort came along and seeing Narada and Shiva in such a joyous state, asked them for the reason. When she heard that it was the greatness of the Mahaprasad of Lord Vishnu, she felt left out and became angry that she had been deprived of the prasad. 
All the gods now rushed to Vaikunta, and narrated what had happened in Kailasa and requested Lord Vishnu to calm down Sankara and pacify Uma. Lord Vishnu came riding on his Garuda vahana. On seeing the Lord, Sankara and Narada calmed down. But Parvati was still angry. Lord Vishnu consoled her and promised her a share of His prasad. Parvati, the Mother of the universe told Vishnu that not only she should get the prasad, but the Lord should make His prasad available to all living beings and they should equally be benefited by it. Only then she would be happy and satisfied. Vishnu promised her that in future when he takes up his abode in Nilachaladham (Puri),  Parvati will also be there as Devi Bimala in the same courtyard and the naivedyam offered to him will in turn be offered first to her. Only then it will become Mahaprasad and will be distributed to everyone alike, without any distinction. 

Mahaprasad at Puri

Even to this day, after the naivedyam is offered to Lord Jagannath, it is first taken to Devi Bimala’s shrine. After it is offered to her it becomes MAHAPRASAD. Sri Jagannath temple is famous for the Mahaprasad. Every day all the devotees who reach the temple partake of the Lord’s Mahaprasad. Even to this day, neither there is a shortage of the prasad nor is there too much extra on any day, irrespective of the number of devotees reaching the temple. That is the glory of Lord Jagannath’s Mahaprasad!

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Yaksha Prashna – 6

[This is the concluding post of the Yaksha Prashna Series and is in continuation of the post – Yaksha Prashna – 1 , 2, 3 , 4 & 5 . Lord Yama in the form of a yaksha asks questions to Yudhisthira (eldest among the Pandavas). In the 1st post 4 sets, in the 2nd post 7 sets and in the 3rd & 4th post 6 sets, and in the 5th 7 sets of questions & answers were posted. In this post, 4 sets of questions & answers have been posted. Link for Yaksha Prasna – 1: http://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/03/yaksha-prashna-1/ , For post 2 : http://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/09/yaksha-prashna-2/ , For post 3 : https://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/16/yaksha-prashna-3/ , For post 4: https://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/23/yaksha-prashna-4/ , For post 5 : https://naadopaasana.co.in/2020/06/30/yaksha-prashna-5/ ]

31] Yaksha Prashna : What characterizes a brahmana – Is it birth, character, or study of Vedas?

Yudhisthira Answers : Noble character and conduct, performance of meritorious deeds and a dispassionate personality mark the traits of a brahmana.

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32] Yaksha Prashna :What does a person of agreeable speech gain? What does a person who acts with purposefulness and consistency gain? What does a person who has many friends gain? And what does a person who is virtuous gain? 

Yudhisthira Answers : A person with agreeable speech is endeared by all. He who acts with purposefulness and consistency achieves success. He who has many friends lives happily. A virtuous person earns the respect of all.

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33] Yaksha Prashna : Who is the happiest person? What is the most astonishing factor in life? What constitutes the path to liberation? And what constitutes the greatest, eternal universal message to mankind? 

Yudhisthira Answers : He who is content with whatever he has is the happiest person. The most astonishing and wonderful thing is that even after daily seeing the phenomenon of death, in and around him, the foolish mortal man still desires for immortality and hopes to conquer the inevitable death. That time-tested path walked by the great sages and rishis alone is the path for seekers to tread. In the huge vessel-of-ignorance called the world, with the sun as the fire, and days and nights as fuel, and the months and seasons as the ladle, TIME is cooking all creatures with a variety of EXPERIENCES – this is the greatest eternal universal message to mankind.

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34] Yaksha Prashna : Who is a cultured man? And who is the one who is spiritually wealthy?

Yudhisthira Answers : A cultured man is he who with his meritorious deeds has fulfilled his life here and hereafter. He who remains in equanimity and is completely balanced with respect to the agreeable and disagreeable, to happiness and misery, the past and the future is one who is the wealthiest person (spiritually rich).

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The divine Yaksha was very pleased with all the answers that Yudhisthira gave him. As a boon he told Yudhisthira that one of his brothers would be restored back to life. On hearing this, Yudhisthira asked the Yaksha to bring Nakula back to life. Yaksha asked him why he wanted his step-brother to be revived rather than his own brothers Bhima and Arjuna.

In reply Yudhishthira said, “At no point of time in life should a person give up his Dharma. One who sacrifices virtues and compromises his Dharma is ultimately destroyed. On the other hand, Dharma in turn protects one who lives Dharma: ‘Dharmo rakshati rakshitah’. As the son of Kunti I am alive. I therefore request you to restore to life atleast one son of mother Madri”. The Yaksha was very pleased with Yudhishthira, who was verily the embodiment of Dharma and brought back all the brothers to life. Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva came back to life.

Yudhishthira realized that it was not a Yaksha who was in front of him, but a Divine Being. He prayerfully asked him to reveal his true identity. The Yaksha was none other than Yudhishthira’s father, Lord Dharma (Lord Yama) Himself who had come to test his son. He blessed the Pandavas who always walked the path of righteousness and told them that in the future success, victory and all glory would be theirs.

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Glory of Gokarna

Ravana’s mother was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. She worshipped the Lord with great fervour so that with the power and blessings of the Lord, Ravana would become invincible. Indra, the king of the Gods came to know about this, and he stealthily took away the Shiva linga which Ravana’s mother was worshipping and hid it in the ocean. Unable to find the altar of her pooja, she refused to touch food unless she got the Shiva linga back. Ravana consoled his mother and said that he would go to Kailasa and bring the Lord’s Atma-linga itself.

Ravana went to the Himalayas and undertook severe penance. Lord Sankara pleased with his tapas appeared before him and asked him what he wanted. Ravana asked for the Lord’s Atma-linga for his mother to worship. The Lord gave Ravana His own Atma-linga, but warned him that enroute if he placed the Atma-linga down on the ground, the Atma-linga would get rooted there itself and he would not be able to lift it up again. Ravana was very happy to receive the divine linga and started off to Lanka by the air route.

All the Gods were worried. Atma-linga in Lanka meant Ravana would be very difficult to conquer and vanquish. They all went to Lord Vishnu for help. In the meantime, Devi Parvati also was not happy with Ravana taking the Atma-linga to Lanka. Lord Vishnu and Ganapati came up with a plan to prevent the Linga from reaching Lanka.

Ravana was very particular and strict about performing his religious duties. Knowing this, Vishnu used His Sudarshan Chakra and covered the sun, which gave an illusion that it was dusk time. Ravana immediately thought it was the time to perform his sandhyavandana. He landed down on the shores of the ocean. He looked around and saw a young brahmana boy with cows standing nearby. It was none other than Ganapati in disguise. Ravana asked the boy if he could hold the Atma-linga in his hands until he finished his sandhyavandana. The boy agreed but on one condition. He said he did not have much time to spare and therefore Ravana must finish his prayers and come back quickly. “Three times I will call you, if you don’t come back by then I will place the Linga down”, said Ganapati in disguise. 

Ravana promised to come back quickly and walked towards the waters of the ocean for his sandhya prayers. Ravana had hardly reached the ocean and started his prayers, when Ganapati called out “Ravana” three times. Ravana hurriedly finished the ritual and came running back. By then Ganapati placed the Atma-linga on the ground  and started running away along with the cows. Ravana was furious and ran behind Ganapati but could not catch him. But he caught hold of the ear of one of the cows. The cow disappeared into the earth. All that remained above the earth’s surface was the cow’s ear. Hence the name of the place became Gokarna – ‘Ear of the Cow’. 

Ravana tried with all his might to uproot the Linga, but he could not. Since the Atma-linga was so powerful that it defied even the strength of his twenty hands, he called the Atma-linga as “Mahabaleshwar”.  Hence the Atma Linga of Lord Shiva is worshipped as Mahabaleshwar in Gokarna which is situated on the western coast of Karnataka.

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

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