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Bhima meets Hanuman – Lifting of the tail!

Hanuman and Bhima

The Pandavas were in exile living in the forest for twelve years. One day, as they were moving around in the forest, a gentle breeze carried along with it a beautiful celestial flower known as Saugandhika and dropped it on the ground in front of Draupadi. Draupadi was wonderstruck at the beauty of the flower and the divine fragrance emanating from it. She longed to have more of those flowers and requested Bhima to get them for her. Bhima obliged and went in search of the flowers.

Bhima walked through forests and mountains, roaring and thundering and exhibiting his might and strength.  Suddenly on his route, he found a huge, old monkey lying on a rock. Its long tail was obstructing Bhima’s path. Bhima shouted at the monkey to move away from his path. The monkey got up as if from sleep and asked Bhima who he was and why he was creating so much of disturbance in the otherwise quiet environment of the forest. Bhima boasted about himself and told the monkey that he was one of the Pandava brothers and that he was the son of Vayu and the brother of Hanuman. Again Bhima asked the monkey to move away, but the monkey replied that he was too weak and had no energy to move his tail. He asked Bhima to push his tail aside and move on.

Bhima, the most powerful and strong who had the strength of ten thousand elephants was now being asked by an old monkey to lift its tail! He was furious by this time. He tried to push the monkey’s tail aside with his mace but could not move it even by an inch. He was surprised! Bhima tried again and again to move the monkey’s tail with all his might but miserably failed. Exhausted, Bhima realized that this was no ordinary monkey. With folded hands he requested the monkey to reveal his true identity.Then, Lord Hanuman revealed his true form. Bhima was overjoyed to see his brother Hanuman. They both embraced each other joyfully.

Lord Hanuman told Bhima not to be arrogant of his might and strength, and this was just a lesson for Bhima to remain humble. Hanuman also advised him on the duties and responsibilities of the various categories into which the society is divided into – the intellectuals, the warriors, the tradesmen and the working class.  Bhima asked Hanuman to show him his huge colossal form with which he had crossed the ocean in search of Seeta. Hanuman showed his magnificent, effulgent, gigantic form to Bhima. Bhima was overwhelmed to see the awesome form of Hanuman and saluted him again and again. Hanuman showered his grace and blessings on Bhima and promised Bhima that during the Kurukshetra war, he would be on their side as a source of inspiration, might and strength. Hanuman also told Bhima that his thunderous roar would resonate along with terrible roar of Bhima during the war which would send shivers down the spine of the Kauravas. Hanuman also told Bhima that he would adorn the flag-post of Arjuna’s chariot and lead them on the path to victory. 

Keep the attitude of the humble-servant of the Lord and watch how your work can progress..... when ego rises in us, the harmony is lost and thereafter our work​ dims in its divine glow. He alone is the Sole Doer and Accomplisher; we are, at best, only mere instruments​. - Swami Chinmayananda

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Sri Vidya Upasaka: Dikshitar

Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775 – 1835) was one of the greatest Musician-Saints and is one among the Carnatic Music Trinity, the other two being Saint Thyagaraja and Shyama Sastri.

Dikshitar’s father was Ramaswami Dikshitar who was a Sanskrit scholar and an accomplished musician living in Tiruvarur in Tamilnadu. When Dikshitar turned twenty five, the great Chidambaranatha Yogi of Varanasi visited their house and requested Ramaswami to send Dikshitar with him for further education. His father agreed and Dikshitar went to Varanasi. He was initiated into “Sri Vidya Upasana”, and his Guru told him to constantly worship Sri Annapurneswari, the Bestower of material needs (Bhukti) as well as liberation (Mukti). He mastered the scriptures, the science of mantras, astrology, music, and was an expert in playing the veena. He came under the influence of Hindustani classical music and Western band music.

After a few years, the teacher told him that it was time for him to go back home because he had learnt all that had to be learnt. The young disciple asked the teacher what was the proof that he had learnt everything. The teacher asked him to go to Mother Ganges and take a dip. If his learning was complete, She would reward him. He went to the Ganges, took a dip and invoked Her. Mother Ganges was there in front of him with a beautiful veena in Her hand. She handed it over to him. It had “RAMA” inscribed on it and was different from the normal veenas. The tail end of the veena which is called ‘yaalimukha’ is turned upwards. In normal veenas it is turned downwards. This veena that Dikshitar used is even now preserved in their ancestral home.

With the blessings of his teacher and with this unique veena gifted to him by the Mother of Knowledge, Dikshitar travelled back. He arrived at Tiruttani, one of the famous six abodes of Kartikeya in Tamilnadu. Dikshitar was sitting and meditating on the Lord on the steps of the temple, when Lord Kartikeya came in the disguise of an elderly man, asked him to open his mouth and put sugar candy into his mouth and disappeared. At that very moment, he composed a beautiful kriti on Kartikeya with the mudra (signature) GURU-GUHA. Kartikeya also known as GUHA had come to him as his GURU.

He has composed songs on almost all deities, all pilgrimage centres and brought into the kritis the uniqueness and speciality of them all. Along with Sangeeta sastra, he incorporated the “mantra sastra” into his songs and therefore to render them with correct pronunciation and bhava, with a little understanding of its meaning will bring all prosperity to the singer as well as the listener – singing of his keerthans is equivalent to chanting the mantras.

Instances of Dikshitar bringing relief and solace to individuals as well as to the community through his keerthans are many. With a Kriti in raga Amruthavarshini, he brought the rains down on the parched land of Ettayyapuram (Tamil Nadu). He also brought health back to his disciple Tambiyappan by warding off the evil effects (graha dosha) of Jupiter, by composing a kriti on that planet. 

On the eve of Deepavali in 1835, after he had finished Devi Puja, he had a vision of Sri Annapurneswari and sang “Ehi Annapurne” – his last kriti. He remembered what his Guru had told him and knew it was time for him to leave his body. He asked his disciples who had gathered there to sing his composition “Meenakshi me mudam dehi” (Meenakshi bestow upon me Your grace) in the Raga Gamakakriya. When they sang the lines: “meena lochani pasha mochani” (O! Fish-eyed One, who cuts asunder the knots of bondage), he asked them to repeat these phrases once more. As they were repeating them, Dikshitar uttered “Shive pahi, Shive pahi, Shive pahi” and left his physical body to merge eternally with the Mother of the Universe whom he invoked and worshipped all his life. 
His compositions called “Kamalamba Nava-avarana” Krithis which are full of mystic significance are rendered even today with great religious fervour during the Navaratri festival.

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Narada’s test of Devotion!

Sage Narada was a great devotee of Lord Narayana. He was constantly playing on his divine veena and singing the Lord’s name. He once went to Vaikunta and asked Lord Hari who was His greatest devotee. Narada was sure that the Lord would take his name as the greatest devotee. The Lord pointed out to a farmer in one of the remotest villages and said that he was His greatest devotee. The Sage was shocked. How could he who was constantly taking the Lord’s name day in and day out not be the greatest devotee of the Lord?

Narada looked at the Lord questioningly. The Lord told Narada that he can go down and see for himself. Narada went down and quietly, unnoticed by anyone stayed very close to the farmer’s humble and simple hut. Early in the morning the farmer woke up with the Lord’s name NARAYANA on his lips. Then he went about his daily usual routine, went to his field and worked under the scorching sun along with the others. He worked till late in the evening. At dusk, he returned back, had a wash, sat and spent some time with his wife and children and had his simple meal. Tired and exhausted, he fell off to sleep with NARAYANA on his lips. In a day, the farmer remembered the Lord only twice! Narada was puzzled. Anyway, he decided to spend another two days there and watch over the farmer. The routine was the same on all the days. Narada was quite annoyed with the Lord as to how He even considered this farmer who took the Lord’s name only TWICE a day as His greatest devotee. He went straight to Vaikunta and narrated all that had happened down below. 

The Lord smiled and told Narada that He will explain, but before that He wanted Narada to accomplish a piece of job for Him. Lord gave Narada a pot filled with oil up to the brim, asked him to balance it on his head, and told him to go around Vaikunta and come back without spilling even a drop. Narada wondered what this had to do with his question, but anyway since the Lord had told him, he agreed. Narada put down his veena, nervously picked up the pot of oil filled up to the brim, placed it on his head and started walking slowly. Carefully balancing the pot of oil on his head, Narada put his steps forward cautiously, and went round Vaikunta and came back. He was beaming with happiness for he had not spilt even a drop of oil during his travel. He had been able to carry out the Lord’s instructions…..!

The Lord then asked Narada how many times he remembered NARAYANA during his journey round Vaikunta. Narada was surprised and told the Lord that he had NOT remembered the Lord even ONCE. How could he remember the Lord when all his attention was in balancing the pot of oil on his head?

 
The Lord smiled and told Narada that all that was given to him was a small piece of job of going round Vaikunta with a pot full of oil on his head, and yet he had forgotten the Lord even during that short interval of time. And here was this farmer working day in and day out, shouldering all the responsibilities and problems of his family and work, and yet he never forgot to take the Lord’s name NARAYANA, ONCE in the morning and ONCE in the evening. Hence according to the Lord, the farmer’s devotion was superior to that of Narada’s. 

Narada immediately understood that this was Lord’s unique way of destroying his ego. Completely humbled, Narada prostrated to the Lord, sought His forgiveness, prayed to the Lord to grant him total and unconditional devotion, picked up his veena and with “NARAYANA” on his lips left Vaikunta with a sense of total happiness and inexplicable bliss.

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The Grandsire of Carnatic Music!

Purandaradasa

Srinivasa Nayaka (1484 – 1564) was a merchant dealing with gold and precious stones residing in Tirthahalli, Karnataka. Though wealthy, he was a miserly person. Charity was something unknown to him.

One day an old brahmana came to his shop asking for some monetary help. Nayaka sent him away asking him to come the next day. He came the next day, but again he was asked to “come tomorrow”. Nayaka thought that the old man will stop coming after a few days but he persisted — every day the old man was there in front of the shop! After months of postponement, one fine day Nayaka threw an old coin at the poor man and asked him to go away. The poor man refused the unusable coin and went away.

The brahmana went to Nayaka’s house and approached his wife, Saraswati Bai. He told her how he had every day sought help from her husband but in vain – an old coin was all that he got in response. He asked her for help, but she pleaded her helplessness, saying that she had nothing with her to give him. All money transactions and accounts were exclusively with Nayaka. The old man said that she could give to him the diamond nose-ring which she was wearing. After all that was a gift to her from her maternal house, and Nayaka had no claim or hold over it. She thought for a second, removed her nose-ring and gave it to the old man. He happily accepted it, blessed her and walked away.

With the nose-ring in his hand and a smile on his face, the brahmana returned back to Nayaka’s shop. He was furious to see him coming back again. The old man told him that he had not come to beg but had come to do business with him. He showed the merchant the nose-ring, asked him to fix up its value and give him the equivalent cash. A shocked and surprised Nayaka took the nose-ring in his hand and examined it in detail. He immediately knew that it was his wife’s nose-ring. He questioned the old man as to who gave it to him. He answered that a pious generous lady gave it to him. Nayaka told him to come the next day for money, sent him away, carefully put the nose-ring inside a trunk and locked it. He then closed his shop and hurried back home.
On reaching his house, he loudly called out to Saraswati. Seeing her in the courtyard he looked at her face. Sure enough the nose-ring was missing! He asked for it. The poor lady was trembling within and not knowing what to do, said that it was inside. He asked her to bring the nose-ring immediately. She went in, and knowing her husband’s anger, she decided to end her life. She picked up a cup of poison and was about to consume it, when she heard a metallic sound inside the cup. Inside the cup she saw her nose-ring which she had given away in charity! Overwhelmed at the Lord’s grace, she ran outside and handed it to her husband. Nayaka could not believe his eyes. The nose-ring he had locked up in his shop was here in his wife’s hand. Crazily, he ran back to the shop and opened his trunk. The nose-ring was not there! He ran back again home and asked his wife to tell him all that had happened. She told him everything.
Srinivasa Nayaka’s eyes opened! That was none other than Lord Sri Hari who had come to him disguised as an old brahmana to “wake” him up from the dream of materialism. Srinivasa Nayaka was a totally changed person now. He gave away everything in charity,  and went in search of a Guru. He came to Sri Vyasa Thirtha who accepted him as his disciple, gave him the name PURANDARADASA and introduced him to the Haridasa Sampradaya.
Sri Purandaradasa travelled extensively and composed songs on all the deities with the signature “Purandara Vittala”. The most difficult and profound philosophical truths were simplified and presented in the form of simple songs, and hence his compositions are known as “Purandara Upanishad”. He formulated basic lessons for teaching Carnatic music by structuring graded exercises. Even today the music lessons start with the simple “Gitas” he has composed. He is known as Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha — the Grandsire of Carnatic Music.
Purandaradasa was such a great personality that even his Guru, Sri Vyasa Thirtha glorified him in one of his compositions!!