Sunday, July 08, 2012

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 20 (Vol # 6) Dated 08 July 2012

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 20 (Vol # 6) Dated 08 July 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 going ahead from the page No 135 of Volume 6 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated constantly)

“Om Gajaananaaya Namaha”
164. Next name is Gajaananaha, meaning the one with the face of an elephant. What Avvayaar calls as the, “கோலம் செய் துங்கக் கரி முகத்துத் தூமணியே”, is the PiLLaiyar with the clean black face of an elephant, that we have all come to love so much! The elephant has many endearing qualities and special attributes. One is bodily strength and the second is the strength of intelligence and sharpness of memory, together known as ‘Buddhir balam’ (बुद्धिर बलं); then Gnaanam (ज्ञानं); next is humility – though mighty powerful physically compared to human beings, it recognizes the superior intelligence of man, that it co-operates with him in doing a lot of service such as lifting and moving heavy weights, rushing and battering enemy fortresses and proving to be an asset in battles; another is vegetarianism with inherent lack of cruelty and finally its usefulness while alive and even after death, in terms of the value of ivory!
165. What a versatile trunk known as ‘Thumbikkai’ as an arm it has got! Some ant eating animals have a proboscis, but good only for itself, unlike the elephant. Can any other animal pick up a huge fan six feet wide and wave it in front of Swami as part of the Shodasa Upachaaraas in Poojas, as the elephant can do? Can any other animal lift high it’s Thumbikkai and do a right royal salute as the elephants can do? Other animals can only batter or ram you but not lovingly hug you and lift you on top of their back high above! Despite the physical might and big body, it can be soft of touch. If you happen to be in the way, elephant is the only animal, instead of dashing you, can lift you and place you aside before proceeding on its way!
166. It has a name as ‘dvipam’ (द्विपं). {I have opted for the shorter version instead of द्वीपं as that would mean an island. But as PeriyavaaL has given only the Tamil version as ‘த்விபம்’, I cannot make out as to which is the correct word!} That word ‘dvipam’ has a meaning of eating and drinking twice. How is that? The elephant picks up its eats or some water by the tip of its trunk first and then puts it in the mouth. Unlike other animals which straight away use their mouth directly while eating, the elephant does like human beings, in two stages using their hands / trunk! That is how it eats / drinks. When it comes to spitting it out, if it is solid waste, like the discarded hard covering of the coconut or crushed sugar cane after the juice has been sucked, it does with the mouth and if it is liquid waste, it will throw it out through the trunk in a fount or geyser! There is much sense in doing so. When it comes to acceptance we should do so after due checking, if need be doubly. When it comes to discarding, we should do so unhesitatingly by whatever means suitable!
167. One gentleman has made an interesting observation about this trunk of an elephant. There are many ultra modern equipments and tools available nowadays with a variety of abilities. But we cannot even think of an instrument that can pick up a needle weighing a milligram and a huge oak beam weighing a ton of weight, from the ground with equal felicity and ease as can be done by the elephant with its trunk! PiLLaiyar as Gaja Muka is like that, capable of managing all major problems and small minute and intricate complications! The whole universe is said to be held in its place by eight elephants as blocks known as ‘Ashta – Dik – Gaj’ (अष्ट – दिक् – गज्). For aiding the Government eight statesmen are selected and detailed as ‘எண் பேராயம்’ (‘eN peraayam’). Some kings have eight learned experts as a team of advisors. Krishna Deva Raya had such a team and called them as Ashtadikgaj. More than everything else, the elephant is representing beauty with serenity and solemnity. If someone sits on top of him, the cool might of the elephant adds to the rider’s gravity and vivacity. That is why there was this custom of paying respect to visiting dignitaries by ceremonially seating them on the elephant and taking them around in a procession! Sri Rama Chandra Murthy was quite impressive looking as it is. But Dasaratha’s ministers and prominent citizens wished to see him seated mounted on an elephant in a procession and so they requested Dasaratha for ‘Gajena mahata yaantam’ (‘गजेन महता यान्तं’) as we read in Valmiki RamayaNam, Ayodhya KaaNdam, Sargam 2, Slokam 22. At that time they wished to see his face outlined by the white umbrella of royalty – ‘‘गजेन महता यान्तं रामम् चत्रावृतानानां”. Here while organizing the pooja for our PiLLaiyar on the Chathurthi we first purchase an idol of him made of clay, with a decorative umbrella, without fail.
168. In the pitch black face of the elephant, if you apply white Vibhuti sign of three horizontal lines or the vertical Naamam by ThirumaN or when they fix the golden decorative plate (known as ‘முகபடாம்’) in that broad area between the eyes and ears, how beautiful it looks! No other animal gets so well decorated except possibly the cows and bulls during the Pongal (பொங்கல்) festival, horses and camel sometimes to some extent, I suppose! Another important point comes to my mind. We all know that pearl is formed in the shell known as mother of pearl. There are also certain other areas where the pearl is formed like inside the bamboo. But the most precious one is formed in the forehead of the elephant, in the two raised portions of the head on either side, where there could have been the horns, in what is known as the Gaja Kumbham. That front top of the head has another divine specialty. It is also known to be the abode of Maha Lakshmi. She has five places like that such as, the inner part of the Lotus Flower; the reverse of the Bilva leaf; the centre line of a Sumangali lady’s parting of the hair at the top; the back side of a cow and the elephant’s forehead. So, these five places are very preciously sacred.
169. If the elephant’s forehead has this greatness, the hair in the tail of the elephant is not without its due value! That hair has some special ability to chase away evil spirits and give good health. So a small piece of it is cut and kept inside small lockets in chains, rings and pendants as ornaments as well as protection. Normally hair and nails are considered as not very sacred but, rather the opposite! When you cut the hair or nails, the clippings are carefully consigned to the dust bin. But an elephant is exception to this general rule. Its bones are valuable as ivory while the hair is useful in incantations against evil spirits! Similarly the nails of the tiger are also considered as valuables. I noticed that in Tanjore the picture of Sri Krishna was decorated with a necklace of fangs of the tiger!
170. Animals with a Divine Connection. In our Matam everyday two animals are venerated. One is the cow (गो पूजा) and the other the elephant (गज पूजा). In that also, the cow instead of being classified as an animal, is considered as the Mother! From that angle the only animal which gets venerated with a pooja is the Elephant! The ‘Go Pooja’ happens in day time and the ‘Gaja Pooja’ takes place in the evening. In the ‘Gaja Pooja’ we decorate the elephant, apply the red ochre Tilak of ‘Kum Kum’ on the forehead and give him some fruits. Then we make him do pooja to AachaaryaaL’s ‘Foot Wear’ reverently known as Paaduke (पादुके) by placing some flowers and waving the ‘Chaamaram’, that is the fan. At that time the day’s accounts are submitted to our AachaaryaaL. At the end of it while we are all doing Namaskaara to the Paaduke, the elephant lifts his trunk up towards the sky as a salute and gives out his clarion call. This Pooja done in the evening is called ‘Deevattee Salaam’, which ends with the resounding call by the elephant! In ‘Go Pooja’ only the cow is revered. In the ‘Gaja Pooja’ it is revered and it also participates in the reverential activities for our AachaaryaaL.
171. All big temples have elephants. In places like Trichur, more than the presiding deity, it is the elephant that is the major participant cum actor. It is so divine itself, for which it is respected and revered, especially in India. After all, when pulled by crocodile, it was capable of calling for the help of God Himself, by loudly calling forth for the whole world to hear, “ஆதி மூலமே!” (‘Aadi Moolame!’). Lord Vishnu had to respond promptly and come to his help, isn’t it? Other than being the biggest, as the elephant has so many such endearing qualities that, when the Lord God had to take the form of Vigneshwara, he selected Elephant from the Animal Kingdom!
172. Vigneshwara Combines all Life Forms in Himself. We do not have to separately mention that he is also a Deva, a divine being! Whichever God we may be doing a pooja to first Vigneshwara is remembered, adored and revered. As far as a devotee is concerned, what is the most important character quality required in a deity? That deity should be having perennial power to bless, having the Anugraha Shakti, isn’t it? That is abundantly available with PiLLaiyar. So we all agree that he is a Deva, a Divine Being first and foremost! He is also a Bhoota. Short, fat, protruding tummy, elephant faced with a human body, with a bit of oddness here and some ungainliness there; he classically fits the bill of being a Bhoota! But, how are we to call him a human being, really? Only human beings eat cooked food. Amongst animals they eat either the green grass or fruits or leaves; or raw meat, either already dead or after killing a living animal; as herbivores or carnivores. But PiLLaiyar eats cooked food!
173. Whatever we give the Devas as Neivedyam or as Aahuti, that is, oblations in fire, they feed on only the subtle aspect of it. Only human beings eat gross matter as cooked food. Only Vigneshwara eats the doubly cooked Modakam. First, the rice powder is cooked in to a paste that can be molded in to the shape of a cup. Then this cup is filled with what is known as PoorNam, a semi cooked mix of grated coconut, ghee and jaggery. Now the cup is closed and sealed by twisting the batter itself. Now, the individual pieces of such sealed cups are steamed, to become the delectable Modakam! When the Modakams are offered in a Homam, instead of steaming, the cups may be fried in melted ghee. But for PiLLaiyar, he prefers the doubly cooked Modakams. After all, the very first sloka says, “मूषिक वाहन मोदक हस्त”, that he is having his hands full of Modakam! He is the only God who eats cooked food. Sri Krishna has butter in his hands and face, hugging the huge jar of butter bigger than his own self. But, that is not cooked food and he was born as a human being only! SubrahmaNya has honey and ‘தினைமாவு’, a type of powdered cereal that is to be found only in forests and it is not cooked food like PiLLaiyar’s. Eashwari AnnapoorNaa has Paayasam (a type of sweet porridge) in her hands, but that is meant for feeding the devotees! Vigneshwara is the only one who eats cooked food as a deity and feeds us also!
(To be continued.)



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