DEIVATHIN KURAL # 119 (Vol # 5) Dated 28 Jan 2012
DEIVATHIN KURAL # 119 (Vol # 5) Dated 28 Jan 2012
(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavaaL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding from the middle of page No 737 of Vol 5 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that here in 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated constantly)
The Qualitative Requirements of the Place of Avatara.
672. The Namboodri Brahmins and their subsequent generations in Kerala were living exactly as required by the Vedas doing all the Karma Anushtaanaas and Aachaaraas as given in the Saastraas without any defaults in sincerity or practice. Not just a few families but all the Namboodri Brahmins were like that. They were not affected by the confusing state of affairs on the eastern side of those Ghats, in their own seclusion and privacy, following the well established systems of their tradition.
673. Why only then, even now when people are being pulled in every which direction saying, ‘No Saastra and No Sampradaaya’, if some Adhyayanam is happening as it is supposed to be done, it is amongst the Namboodri Brahmins in Kerala only! Only there, taking into account the period of stay in mother’s womb, before a child reaches eight years of age, boys are being given Upanayanam and then for some six years the boys learn their portion of the Veda Shaka (branch of the Vedas to which that child belongs). During the period of such learning of Vedas (Veda Adhyayanam) the boys wear only a Komanam (a loin cloth), sleeps on the skin of deer (if available or on just a wooden plank). He is to hold a Dandam (a branch of Palasa aka Poovarasa tree with three leaves). He is supposed to live on the alms he gets by begging. The idea is to live on the barest minimum without any mischief mongering. The begging is to inculcate the right mentality to be able to overcome ego related quirks. As per mythology, the Palasa or Poovarasa tree grew up in the sky and kept growing till it reached the heavens where Brhma, Vishnu Maheswara were discussing Brhma Gnaana related subjects. The holding of the Palasa Dandam is symbolically to save and protect the boy from his own tendencies to go astray from Niyama (discipline) and for others to keep off! The present Chief Minister of Kerala of the Communist Party, Sankara Namboodri Paad is one such, who has done Adhyayanam systematically. After all (smilingly PeriyavaaL says), even the Communist Party stands by ‘Abheda Vaadam’ of equality, which is also Adwaitam, isn’t it? Then look at his name, it is also Sankara, the name of our AachaaryaaL! There is oneness of Adwaitam in their names too! (This e-mail is based on a talk by PeriyavaaL in the year 1959, when Sankara Namboodri Paad was the Chief Minister in the Communist Government of Kerala.)
674. Later even children taking up English based education, had their basis on some years of Adhyayanam, a practice followed mainly by the Namboodri Brahmins of Kerala. If that is the state of affairs even in this 20th Century India, you can imagine what must have been the condition some two thousand five hundred years back! That is why Parameswara selected that part of India for his Avatara. His mission in life being specially meant to demonstrate the Vedic methods according to Saastraas, he had to be born where not only opportunities for Adhyayanam were available but, also where Gurukulam was an ongoing practice.
675. In Kerala, in the general area of Malabar, near Alwaye Railway Station, the village named Kaladi is located. It is 30 K.M. South East of Trichur. The river flowing there is called the Alwaye aka Periyar aka Poorna Nadi. In that village Sivaguru belonged to a well endowed family of religious fervour, wealth and education. He was the only son of his parents. If the name of Sivaguru as the father of a Siva Avatara was perfectly fitting, the grandfather’s name was also very appropriate as Vidyadiraja, meaning the King of all knowledge, as his grandson was going to ascend the ‘Sarvagna Peetam’ (that is, the Throne of Omniscience)! With Vidya and good moral and cultural standards, the family was also financially well off.
676. Generally in Kerala nobody is too poor. There every house is located in the centre of a big garden with plenty of fruit bearing trees and possibility of a functional kitchen garden. They used to be known as ‘Kaavu’. Like we often hear about ‘Aarianka’ these days, as everybody seems to be visiting Sabari Mala. We have in Tamil Nadu place names such as Thiruvaanaikka and Thirukodikka, isn’t it? That ‘Kaa’ is what is known as ‘Kaavu’ in Kerala. The area covered by the outer limits of a Kaavu used to be known as ‘Adhruti’. Within the Adhruti of a Kaavu all most the all the needs of the family would be grown and available. No need to go out for anything. One funny thing is that, the staple food that is the rice cannot be grown at home. But it can be obtained easily by barter. Some of the items like plantain, coconut, jack fruit, yam, and some of the other root vegetables can be cut and preserved for the rainy season. Thus one can manage with whatever edible things available from within one’s household. So if you do not have to run around for your livelihood, you can have all the time for the activities such as Adhyayanam and Anushtaanaas, isn’t it?
677. Thus with all facilities for a comfortable living, Sivaguru was living a meritorious life, having married an excellent specimen of a pious Brahmin lady AryaambaaL. He was from the KaippaLLi Mana and she was from the Melpaazhur Mana, reportedly. When you go from Ernakulam to Kollam, even today there is a Melpaazhur Mana located there. The couple were very devoted and pious. They lived a life of morality, integrity, rightfulness, virtue and worth. They were well endowed with all benefits and bounty except the one lingering grouse of not getting an offspring. We had earlier seen that DakshiNa Murthy had already received one petition from the divine beings of heaven and the second petition from a meritorious couple on earth was still pending for him to take Avatara. So here was the ideal would be parents for that Avatara to happen!
678. Entreaty at Trichchur: The Special Quality of the Place. For a good son to be born to them the couple Sivaguru and AryaambaaL went to Trichchur, prayed to the presiding deity there and lived a life of intense austerity there. Trichchur is a great Siva Kshetram known as Vrushachalam. ‘Vrushab’ as you may be aware, is the Sanskrit word for the Bull Nandikesvara. There in Trichchur, the hill is in the form of a Bull on which Siva is seated. In the temple also there is huge Nandi. Amongst all the Siva temples in Kerala, the one at Trichchur is very important and has the biggest temple in size too, located in the centre of the city. The temple is located in the centre of a huge field. The whole area was one Kaavu with lots of Oak trees. Oak is known in Tamil as Thekku Maram and accordingly the place also has a name ‘Thekking Kaadu’. The hill does not look like a hill at all but a round shaped high ground, possibly due to being filled up all around over the years.
679. Locally called the ‘Vadakku Naathar’, the Vrushachaleswar is in the central main Sannidy known as ‘Sri Kovil’. Though normally all the temples are square in the centre with the roof of a number of successive higher layers or stages; this Sannidy is round with a roof like an umbrella of one level only. Within this temple are co-located the Sannidy-s of Sri Rama and Sankara Narayana. The Sankara Narayana Sannidy is round and has two levels of roof whereas Sri Rama Sannidy is square shaped with two layered roof. It is quite normal in Kerala for both Saiva and Vaishnava temples to be located in the same premises. This is exactly as per the ‘Darsana Adwaitam’ that our AachaaryaaL has established. (Darsana here means ‘Point of View’.) Behind the Sannidy of Siva is the Ambal Sannidy and the Goddess here is known as Parvathy.
680. In the temples of Kerala, for conducting religious dance-dramas there are special covered enclosures known as ‘Koothambalam’. Amongst them the Trichchur Koothambalam is rather famous, full of decorative wood works. When we think of Trichchur, we cannot but remember the ‘Trichchur Pooram’ festival, in which many Utsava Murthys from various temples from nearby areas are brought here, mounted on elephants well decorated. It is a sight to see the massive line up of many elephants in two rows facing each other on either side. Interesting thing to note is the fact that all these Utsava Murthys are from the Bhagavathy temples all around. As they arrive the elephants with all the retinue go around the Vrushachaleshwar’s sanctum sanctorum and then join the line up. A similar festival is held on Maha Siva Rathri, once a year. In that also the main deity Vrushachaleshwar remains in his Sannidy and does not come out as Utsava Murthy.
681. While saying all this, I am reminded of another special custom practised in the Kerala temples. The Archagar or the priest, who does the daily rituals, does it by turns for a period. During their term of duty, these priests take a very strict vow of abnegation, abstaining from all avenues of self gratification and maintain absolute chastity. During their term of office they are supposed to live inside the temple only, all the time working for and thinking of God! Then, only after he hands over the term of duty to some other priest, does he come back to his own home. This is the reason that the apparent spirituality is well protected and tangible in the temples of Kerala till date!
(To be continued.)
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