Category Archives: Stories for Children

Akasha Ganga of Tirumala!

Tirumala Nambi was a great devotee of Lord Venkateswara. He was also known as Sri Sailapurna. He was highly learned in all the scriptures and was one of the Gurus of Sri Ramanujacharya, apart from being his maternal uncle. It was he who introduced the Ramayana and elaborated the concept of “sharanagati” (surrender) to Ramanujacharya. 
He offered his services to the Lord of the seven hills by bringing water every day from Pushkarini which is about eight kilometres down the hills for the Lord’s abhisheka. Even though he was quite old, regardless of that, every day all alone he would trek down the forest without any fear of wild animals and carry a pitcher of water for the abhisheka. The seva is known as “teertha kainkaryam“. The Lord was happy with his unique and devoted service and decided to bless and help him. 

One day when Nambi was carrying water from Pushkarini up the hill, the Lord came to him in the guise of a hunter-boy. The boy stopped Nambi enroute and said, “Thatha (grandpa) I am very thirsty, please give me some water to drink”. Nambi was struck by the charm of the boy but politely refused to give him water. He said that he was carrying water for the Lord’s abhisheka daily without any break and he did not want any hurdles to the seva. Also Nambi told the boy that if he gave him water he would have to go down all the way to collect it again and that was not possible because he was too old. On the other hand, the boy was young enough to run down to Pushkarini and drink as much water as he wanted. 

Thus, having told the hunter-boy, Nambi started walking uphill. The boy slowly walked behind Nambi and hurled a stone at the pot of water. The pot cracked and all the water flowed out which the boy delightfully drank. Nambi was very sad. He would have to walk back, pick up another pot and then carry the water for the Lord. He was too exhausted and expressed his helplessness. The boy smiled and told Nambi that he did not have to go all the way down to collect the water for the Lord but right there very close to the temple he would provide an alternative for him. As Nambi stood and watched in surprise, the divine hunter-boy released an arrow from his bow. It struck the top of the cliff where they were standing and lo! water started to gush down from the top of the cliff. Nambi knew that this was no ordinary hunter-boy, but the Lord himself come down to help him. He prayed to the Lord to reveal his true form. The Lord stood in front of Nambi in all his pristine glory and told Nambi that this water-fall would be known as “Akasha Ganga” and henceforth the waters from Akasha Ganga would be used for the abhisheka. 

Nambi continued his “teertha kainkaryam” and also introduced other forms of seva like thomala seva, tirumanjanam, vedaparayanam, mantrapushpa kainkaryam etc., for the Lord which earned for him the title “Acharya Purusha” of the temple. Since the Lord had addressed him as “thatha” he is also known as “Thathacharya”. Even to this day, it is the privilege of the descendants of Tirumala Nambi to offer all these sevas started by him to Lord Venkateshwara.

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Manjula: Devotee of Lord Guruvayoorappan

Manjula was a great devotee of Lord Guruvayoorappan. Every day she would collect flowers and make a beautiful garland and late in the evening she would go to the temple with her offering. The priest would adorn Lord Guruvayoorappan with the garland, and she would feel very happy and fulfilled. After having the Lord’s darshan and singing his glories she would return back home. This was her ‘nitya mala kainkaryam‘ to Lord Guruvayoorappan. 

One day, however it became late and by the time she reached the temple with the garland the temple was closed for the day. She felt very sad that she could not offer the garland to the Lord. Slowly she walked upto the banyan tree near the temple and sat down there. With tears filled in her eyes, she started singing Sri Krishna’s glories. Poonthaanam, another great devotee of Lord Sri Guruvayoorappan who had also come for the Lord’s darshan was going back home. He heard the Lord’s song and came there only to see Manjula crying. He asked her what the matter was. She told him about the daily garland-seva to the Lord. That day since she was late, the temple was closed and she could not offer the garland to the Lord.

Poonthaanam realized the deep and sincere devotion of Manjula. He smiled and told her not to worry. He asked her to place the garland on the stone under the banyan tree because the Lord is All-pervading, and exists in every ‘thing and being’. Hence, the offering would reach the Lord. On hearing the words of the great Krishna Bhakta, Manjula placed the garland on the stone and went back home.

Manjulalthara – Banyan tree

Next day early in the morning, the main priest opened the doors of the temple, walked into the sanctum and started removing the previous day’s garlands that were adorning the Lord. One by one he removed all the garlands, but he could not remove one garland. Try as much as he can, the garland simply stuck to the Lord’s Vigraha! The priest and all the devotees gathered there were surprised. At that very moment, Poonthaanam came to the temple. Seeing the priest perplexed, he asked him what the matter was. The priest told him what had happened. He was unable to remove one garland adorning the Lord’s Vigraha. Poonthaanam was overwhelmed. He immediately remembered what had happened the previous night. He joyously cried out, “That is Manjula’s garland. If it is so, let it fall down”. And lo! the garland immediately fell down! All the devotees including the priest realized the complete surrender, total devotion and loving service of Manjula to Lord Sri Guruvayoorappan. Everybody went and offered their prostrations to the banyan tree which came to be known as “Manjulalthara”. A majestic and beautiful deity of Sri Garuda was later installed under the banyan tree.  

Even to this day, devotees who come to Guruvaayoor offer their salutations to this banyan tree!

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Naama Traya Astra Mantra: Lord’s Names become a Weapon!

# The devatas and rakshasas came together to churn Ksheera Sagar, the great milk-ocean to obtain Amrita. The Mandara mountain was the churning rod and Vasuki, the serpent became the churning rope. Lord Vishnu helped by bearing Mandara mountain on his back in the form of a tortoise. As they churned, Vasuki started spewing venom from his mouth. The deadly poison “Halahala” or “Kalakoota” spread in all directions threatening to burn and destroy all the worlds. Fire and poisonous fumes rose almost upto the sky. All the devatas prayed to Lord Sankara, “the One who bestows well-being to all”. Lord Shiva immediately came and saw the havoc and disaster that the poison was creating. Sankara invoked Sri Hari: “Om Achyuthaaya Namaha – Om Anantaaya Namaha – Om Govindaaya Namaha.” This empowered him to be able to drink and handle the deadly poison. He contained the poison in his throat because of which it turned blue giving him the name “Neelakanta“. The three names of the Lord became known as “Naama Traya“, capable of handling any adversity – physical, mental or intellectual.

# Bhandasura was a very powerful rakshasa ruling over Shonitapura. Through severe penance he had acquired boons from the Lord. His was a regime for 60,000 years without any interference. Also whoever confronted him in war, half their strength would go to him. No one could overpower and defeat him. No weapon, however powerful it might be, could destroy him. And his death, if at all, was at the hands of “a woman not born of another woman!” With all these boons, he presumed that he was invincible and harassed both heaven and earth.
All the devatas prayed to the Lord who suggested that they should perform a Yagna, and offer themselves and their powers as oblations to it. And out of the Yagna-fire, Adi Parashakti, the Mother of the Universe would manifest herself and become the destroyer of Bhandasura. The devatas performed the Mahayagna and out of the yagna-kund, Sri Lalitha Maha Tripurasundari manifested herself. Riding on the Srichakraraja Ratha, accompanied by her army, she waged a war on Bhandasura. Every astra that he discharged was countered by her. It was a very fierce battle.

Seeing her might and power, greatness and glory, Bhandasura invoked and discharged a weapon charged with various deadly diseases, the Maha Roga Astra (Weapon of Deadly Diseases). The astra brought forth various types of deadly diseases which spread all around. Under the influence of this astra, the whole army of Devi collapsed. To counter the rakshasa’s astra, Devi through her yogic powers, invoked the powers of “Om – the Supreme Parabrahma” and created and released the most powerful and invincible Astra comprising of the Lord’s three Names which were invoked by Lord Shiva earlier, the Naama Traya Astra (Triple-Name Weapon): “Om Achyutaaya Namaha, Om Anantaaya Namaha, Om Govindaaya Namaha“. The three names of the Lord which are very powerful nullified the effect of the Maha Roga Astra, restored health and brought Devi’s entire army back to life. Bhandasura was finally killed by Sri Lalitha Maha Tripurasundari.

The Naama Traya Astra is considered as a very powerful Mantra (Triple-Name Chant) which can remove all the negative forces around a person. It is able to cure a person of all types of deadly diseases and serves as an antidote for toxic substances. It bestows good health, well-being and protects a person from misfortunes and untimely death. Lord Agni, the presiding deity of fire, assures that whoever chants “Achyutha – Ananta – Govinda” will be benifitted immensely. The Naama Traya Astra Mantra can also be used for japa and contemplation. The names not only indicate Saguna Paramatma but also suggest and signify the characteristics of Nirguna Parabrahma. Achyutha: One who is Unconditioned, Unlimited and who is unfailing. Ananta: Endless and All-pervading. Govinda: Supreme Lord of All.

Om Achyuthaaya Namaha! Om Anantaaya Namaha! Om Govindaaya Namaha!

Achyuthaanantha Govinda Naamoochhaarana Bheshajaat I Nashyanthi Sakala Rogaha Satyam Satyam Vadaamyaham II – Bhagavan Sri Veda Vyasa

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Lord Vithala and Pundalika

Janudev and Satyavati were a pious couple devoted to the Lord who lived in Dandirvan in Maharashtra. They had a son by name Pundalika (Pundarika). He was noble, respected his parents and was devoted to the Lord. At a suitable age, Pundalika got married. Under the influence of his wife, he neglected the worship of the Lord. He started abusing and ill-treating his parents. His wife started making them do all the domestic work. Tired and exhausted, sad and dejected at their plight they decided to go on a pilgrimage to Kashi. 

Pundalika and his wife also immediately decided to accompany them to Kashi. They made the old couple walk, while they rode on the horse-back. Throughout  the journey they harassed them enough that they even regretted having undertaken the pilgrimage. Enroute they arrived at Kukkuta Rishi’s ashram and decided to break the journey and stay there for a few days . 
At night when everyone was sleeping in the ashram, Pundalika was disturbed by the sound of anklets. He got up and went out to see from where the sound was coming. To his surprise he saw three young and beautiful women cleaning Kukkuta Rishi’s ashram. Their clothes were extremely dirty. And surprisingly, when they had finished cleaning the entire premises and were about to leave the ashram, their clothes were spotless white and clean! This happened consecutively for three days.

On the third day, unable to check his curiosity, Pundalika approached the women and asked them who they were and why their clothes were dirty and how their clothes became clean after cleaning the ashram. The women told Pundalika that they were the presiding deities of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. They said, “every day thousands of devotees come and take a holy dip in our waters and wash off their sins because of which our clothes become dirty. As a result of serving the great Kukkuta Rishi by cleaning his ashram, we get rid off the sins of thousands of pilgrims and inturn our clothes again become spotless and clean and we once again regain back our lost glory.” And the river-deities continued, “of all the people, you are the most sinful one because you ill-treat and harass your parents. We are able to regain our glory because Kukkuta Rishi consistently and constantly served his old parents by looking upon them as the Lord himself. That is the Rishi’s Greatness and Glory .”

These words went straight into Pundalika’s heart. He immediately remembered how badly he had treated his parents. He was overcome with remorse. He narrated everything to his wife and told her that the rest of his life would be spent only in looking after his aged parents. He ran to his parents, fell at their feet and asked to be forgiven. He convinced his parents to return home and promised to look after them well. They were overjoyed at the transformation of their son whom they had totally given up and happily agreed to return back home. While coming back, the aged parents rode on horse-back and Pundalika and his wife walked by their side.
After coming back home, from that day onwards, day and night, Pundalika looked after and served his parents with all devotion. To him they were the manifestation of Lakshmi and Narayana. The Lord was very pleased with Pundalika’s devotion and decided to bestow his grace upon him and decided to come to the banks of the river Chandrabhaga where Pundalika was staying. Lord Shiva came to know about this and wished to accompany Sri Hari. The Lord agreed and asked Lord Shiva to occupy the crown on his head and Shiva seated himself on the crown of Hari in the form of Shiva-linga. 

Hari and Hara came to the dwelling of Pundalika and Hari called out to Pundalika and announced his arrival. Pundalika was massaging his father’s leg at that time and therefore told the Lord that he was busy serving his father and would not be able to leave his duties and come outside immediately. He threw a brick that was lying nearby and told the Lord to stand on it and wait. Lord Hari stood on the brick and with both his hands on his waist, waited for Pundalika. After his service, Pundalika came out of his house and was overwhelmed with the darshan of the Lord. He prostrated to the Lord. Pleased with his devotion to his parents, the Lord asked him what boon he wanted. Pundalika told the Lord that he wanted nothing for himself but asked the Lord to permanently stay there to bless all the devotees. The Lord agreed and stayed there standing on the brick with hands on his waist as Lord Vithala along with his consort, Rukmini in Pandharpur on the banks of the river Chandrabhaga.

Jai Sri Vithala! Jai Hari Vithala! Vithala Vithala! Panduranga Vithala!

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