pachai maamalai pol mene

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stray Experiences

Two personal experiences

Two personal experiences haunt me, and I am at a loss to find any explanation for human rudeness at times.
Thirty years ago, in 1977 I had landed up in Madras, having secured a government appointment and as a total stranger to that town, I had to live in the Old Murugesa Naicker Mansion at Triplicane. There, usually one room is shared by many and each had to confine himself to his cot, the space underneath the cot and one drawer in a woodentable and a little space on the table. Even though away from home I could not forget all my religious practices and I was keeping a small photo of Guruvayurappan and a small wick lamp. I used to light the lamp every morning very early and used to chant Narayananamam. The inmates in the lodge, most of them, were unruly and theyspent their time in banter and vices like drinking and smoking and being a meek Palakkattan Iyer, I had little chance to remonstrate. But practically each and every inmate was quick with derisiveremarks when they heard me murmuring "Narayana, Narayana.. in the morning, taking care not to disturb others. They continued teasing me and I continued my japam for seven years and continue to practice the japam till date. But the bitter memories of those daysgive me nightmares even today.Recently on the Sivaratri day, the Government of India having deemed it fit to make it a working day, I had to attend duty for about 16 hours. The long office hours are my own choice because at present I occupy a senior place in the officialdom in a differentpart of the country, with heavy responsibilities. My travel to office involve about thirty miles of commuting by bus. I could not pay my resepects to Lord Siva on that day. Because of my preoccupation with my profession, I had to devote my commuting time for chanting Vishnu Sahasranamam etc., I was returning home in a bus on the Sivaratri day/night, I thought I could chant some Panchaksharam and SreeRudram sitting quietly in a corner of the bus which was taking me home. The bus was fairly crowded and filled with din and bustle of people talking so many things, sense or nonsense, the conductorshouting at the travellelrs to move and give change etc., and cell phones bellowing … But the man sitting next to me spotted that I was doing some prayer, and immediately shouted at me "If you want to pray, you should sit at home and you should not sit in a publicbus and cause nuisance to other passengers"History had repeated.. Once it was Narayana Namam which was tormenting me thirty years ago and now it was Namassivaya. What a socilalism and unity in diversity for Gods. Was I wrong in praying, was/is the Almighty displeased with me allthese years , or is this because I am a docile Brahmin? I know, in either case, I would not have won by picking up a fight. However, I am not Prahlada to smile and drink poisonchanting "Narayana".. I don't know. One thing is sure, the society's attitude will not change even after 30 years or even 300 years.

On impulsiveness

"One should not jump into action all of a sudden without due deliberation. Lack of discrimination in thought is the fountainhead of great dangers. Wealth and prosperity which are hard to achieve, voluntarily seek for the person with discrimination". This is a (near) translation of the one sloka which enabled Bharavi, a great poet and author of Kiratarjuneeyam, to create that epic work. There is a story behind this couplet, which will be as educative today as it was relevant when it was penned thousand years ago.

Bharavi was an indigent poet with a lot of brains and ideas but with no means of livelihood. Fortunately the kings and feudal lords of his period were magnanimous in encouraging intellectual pursuits. The poor minstrel, after a lot of struggle, managed to presenthimself before the king in court and presented the above slokabefore the august audience. "Sahasaa Vidhadheetha na kriyaam avivekah paramaapadam padam, Vrinate hi vimrusya kaarinamgunalubdhah swayameva sampadah". The king listened to it but therewas hardly any sign that it was creating any impact. The king's mind was preoccupied with the proposed hunting expedition slated for that day.

The day of the king was spent in hunting and the tired man reached his palace late in the evening. When he entered the harem, he was shocked to find a charming youngster who was a perfect stranger sleeping in his bed and the queen waiting upon the sleeping youthwith all love. The natural impulse of the king was to conclude that the queen was being infidel to him. He drew out his sword to perform the natural corollary-slaying the queen and the delinquent youth. However, the words of the poet that he had listened to earlier in the day just echoed in his mind and he was about to ask the queen what was it all about. But the queen, on seeing the king was already very enthusiastic and was trying to narrate to him the happiest thing that had happened in their life.
They had only one child, a son, who had been lost for years in some royal intrigue, and all attempts trace him had been given up and the loss had remained as a very heavy burden in their lives. On that very day, when the king was away hunting, the boy was traced and the jubilant mother was waiting for the king to arrive to break the happy news .Then the import of the words of the poet hit the mind of the king like a ton of dynamite .

Had he taken the drastic action with his sword a minute earlier …He would have lost his wife and his only son .To honour the poet, the king commissioned creation of themahakaavyam "Kirtarjuneeyam" and the poet's name still shines in the pantheon of eternal greats in Sanskrit literature.

Onnum Kaanaathe
While reading about the ingenuity of the pattars, I am reminded of an old joke going the rounds around Palakkad. Once upon a time, there was a huge flood in Palakkad and the Kalpathy river was running amok,covering and inundating the banks and carrying uprooted trees, and huts and other hapless domestic animals in its onward torrential course .Hundreds of people were watching with fear and anxiety the flow ofthe river standing along one of the comparatively safer banks. Suddenly a middle-aged pattar was seen jumping into the running waters. Everyone was shouting, " Sami, what are you doing? If you wanted to die, there are easier methods. Was this necessary?" People were closing their eyes tightly expecting a big tragedy. A few minutes passed. Nothing was seen of the Pattar. Then, lo and behold, the pattar was swimming back enthusiastically, with consummate deftness, and was catching up with the bank. And, he was holding fast to a big bunch of coconuts which he had secured from one of the uprooted trees whichwere being carried away by the torrential flood. When the pattar reached the banks, everyone was remarking, " Onnum Kaanaathe pattar vellathil chadilla" meaning the pattar would not have jumped into the waters if he had not contrived an idea for somematerial benefit. This is your pattar for you

One more Karthigai is around. It is a very sacred. The day when every brother remembers his sisters and vice versa. Last year, because of personal dislocation in residence and some persona inconvenience, I could neither call up one of my sisters nor could I send a token amount as present for this day. She is far more well placed than meand the present I give is not even equal to the commission it would take to encash it. But she was telling that she was anxiously awaiting the postman delivering my letter and the small M.O- and a middle aged woman, she cried bitterly for this when she met me later. I realized with a stab of pain in my heart how much these tokengestures count. I will never commit such error again. I have seen brothers with age exceeding ninty giving 5 or 10 rupees to theirsisters of similar age on this occasion even to this day. I believe this custom is prevalent not only among Kerala Pattars but also amongIyers in other places. I extend my affectionate greetings to all my sisters in this group on Karthigai. May you all live long, happily.

Sree Maatre Namah
I was discussing about Lalitha Sahasranamam with a person from a different faith. While discussing the meaning of Her name, Stanabhaara dalan Madhya pattabandha valitraya-meaning "She whose waist,breaking under the weight of Her breasts get a supporting belt in thethree folds of Her abdomen"(meaning as given in Lalitha sahasranamampublished by Ramakrishna Math), my friend(can I call him a friend?) wondered whether we Hindus described our Deities also with a tint of sexiness. All I could reply was that She was the Mother of all that is alive and She has given birth to all of us and her breasts arebrimming with the lifegiving nectar with which she feeds all of us and therefore it was only natural that they are so heavy. No one ever will feel sexy about the breast of his mother which fed him and nourished him with life.I just mentioned this only to cite an example where some people try to misinterpret the sublime truths to cast aspersions on our religion which without any comparison in Human existence.
About brahmin ladies - Personal account

Lack of Selfishness

I would seem to put to this group something that is too personal and not relevant to the group at all. If you feel so, please ignore this.Today Our marriage completes 19 years. I do not propose to use this forum to send a message to my wife because she will never see this, and she is not interested in groups or in computer either. I just thought how a typical Iyer woman spends her life even today. It was no romantic or idyllic match for us, but a match more dependent on idlis and dosas. But she was absolutely faithful in spite of the eccentric fellow that I was, with ungodly duty hours. If I am to leave for work on a day at 3A.M., she would wake up at 2A.M and cook asmall meal for me, and when I return home 24 or 48 hours later again at a time when only ghosts will walk along the road, she will be waiting for me. I am not an attractive or charismatic man, and by any standards an under-performer.( I often wonder she would have abandoned me had she not been a typical Brahmin Mami ). She is in fact more educated than me and she earns sufficiently for herself through her job. We have a boy of 18 years who is as bad a devil as me demanding too much from his mother. Silently and happily she does everything. What I wrote above are personal. But I feel her attitude in life has been shaped like this because she grew up in a Brahmin family in a typical agraharam where human relations count a lot and reading Dale Carnegie or Stephen Covey is not necessary to learn the basics of life, but the advise of an old grandmother or great grandmother istaken as the gospel truth.I write this as a tribute to every Brahmin woman who builds up her exclusive world around her little family and can make it a heaven or hell (God forbid!) by her actions. Sure, Brahmin life is very different from others even in these modern times. Whatever we learned for thousands of years cannot be unlearned in a few years of ultramodern life. We men will brag and debate on various issues but the rocklike platform is provided by our own faithful (if I may bepermitted to say, faithful to a fault) females. Thanks.

On The Christmas day

More than two millennia ago a loving blemishless mother gave birth to a sweet child in a manger. All the Angels in Heaven sang His praise, December stars shone the brightest in the Sky. He was born to rule this world, with love, brotherhood and His mission in life was to wash away the sins of all of us the living humans. Rightly He did so by performing the Supreme Sacrifice, ascending the wooden cross adorning His crown knit by thorns and his body pinned down tight with sharp nails. He shed His Holy blood to the last drop in order to atone for the sins committed by all of us, His brethren. The whole world is celebrating the Birth of Jesus the Christ. Let us also sing His praise, for He is none other than the Primordial Purusha- Called by a different name in a different language.
 Tam Yajnam Barhishi Praukshan,Purusham Jathamagartah--
 Yajnena Yajnamayanjanth Devah---
 Na KarmanaNa prajaya dhanena, thyagenaikena amruthathwamanasuh--
 Jesus attainedAmritatwa through Thyaga or sacrifice  of Self. Let us see the Paramatman in Him and offer our Respects to Him. Christmas Wishes to all my Brothers who believe in God for Christians worship Jesus but He is God to all of us.

Janani Janmabhumischa Swargaadapi Gareeyasi

My dear brothers and sisters, Let us all greet one another on this Independence day. All that is good in us, perhaps some flashes of greatness in most of us, we owe to our birth in this great land of Krishna. Many of the members may be living in other parts of the worldbut the roots are always in this dearet Bharat of ours, Our own Mother. Let us be proud that we belong to India and that India belongs to us. Namaskarams

On Lord Krishna
You Thief! You were born in a Jail where your parents were bound with very heavy chains, but you stole out of there and cuddled innocently beside a sleeping herds-woman and your equally cunning sister exchanged places for you. 
You were born to free this world of all bondages
.You scoundrel! You ate away tons and tons of butter and drank away litres of sweet milk, all stolen from the neighbourhood which fostered you.
 But how else could you have fed the whole universe which you carried in your belly?.
 Your liar! You promised that you will never wield any weapon during Mahabharatha War but you shamelessly broke the promise and charged against Bheeshma threatening to attack him with the wheel of a Chariot. Had you any choice? 
Your staunch devotee had promised that he will force you to take weapon during the war and saving his promise was dearer to you than keeping your own glory!
 You roamed in the banks of Kalindi and the precincts of Brindaban dancing with innocent girls who forgot all proprieties in life.
 But that was the union of the Jeevatman withParamatman.
 Krishna,you, the darkest, craftiest, ugliest boy, you taught Geetha, teaching a brother to kill his own brothers but in truth this Geetha is the most sublime treatise on the meaning of human existence transcending the limits of caste, creed, religion,nationality and more than anything else, time. 
The greatest tattwa given by this Bharath is Krishna and Krishna alone.
I love you Krishna.

1 comment:

  1. I've become a great fan of your blogs.... Do keep writing.