DEIVATHIN KURAL # 91 (Vol # 7) Dated 10 Jan 2014
(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL 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 second paragraph on page No 685
of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’
includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at
http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated continually)
A Great Sacrifice by a Rishi
1. Erandakar is the name of a Rishi, a
saintly person. Erandam is called 'ÃmaNakku'
in Tamil that is a plant known as 'Ricinus Communis' from which castor oil is extracted. Though this oil is a very useful additive in
certain medications, normally in South India the granny somewhat forcibly
administers once a month to children, this oil in a slightly warm solution of
ginger water or coffee decoction, to cause loose motions, to keep the bowels
clean. Then for the next three to four
hours we ran to the toilet 'N' number of times with our rear end on 'super-speed'
mode. The only other input after two
hours or so was some 'Mulligatawny Soup' which is nothing else but anglicization
of 'MiLagu ThaNNi Rasam'! Then by about
12 º clock, after our granny has confirmed herself that our sporadic visits to
the toilet have ceased, we would be given Thayir Sadam and Brinjal fry. Oh how heavenly it used to taste! Thus the very mention of its name as
'ViLakkeNNai' would cause a flinching of the nose, with a bit of
revulsion. So, for a Rishi to be called
'ViLakkeNNai Swãmiyar', sounds a bit derogatory. But the great Mahatmas and Swãmiyars would
never care to give their names, lie around uncared for, roam about and whether
people respect them or make fun of them, ignore such reactions as equal and go
about their business, whatever it is.
For them it is all just equal.
2. Nobody knows
as to what was Erandakar's name, as given by his parents. It was a name given by the public and there
is a reason for that. Two miles west of
Kumbakonam, on the way to Swami Malai, there is a place known as
Kottaiyur. Though there are many nuts,
known as 'Kottai' – 'கொட்டை'
in Tamil, there are only two so highly regarded. One is Rudraksha, which cleanses the mind of
negative and evil thoughts and the second is this ÃmaNakku which causes out the
ablution of the stomach. In addition, it
is also quite useful in activating production of bodily enzymes. If one is healthy physically, his mind also
is healthy and light, enabling us to think of noble thoughts, though the taste
and smell of castor oil may not be so welcome.
In fact the things that we consume for their being very tasty and
fragrant are the ones creating all sorts of problems in our stomach and
3. The pleasures
of this world satisfying the senses classified as 'Indriya ruchi and Vishaya
Vãsanã' – 'इन्द्रिय रुचि व विषय वासना' are the ones that
are our favourites. When people suffer
by proceeding in this path, Mahatmas advise them, to save them from further degradation. On those occasions, their Upadesa will seem
like castor oil only. To rub, scrape and remove the dirt is to cleanse and
brighten, like brushing your teeth or washing your utensils. To cleanse the stomach of stagnant bits and
pieces of food eaten and not evacuated and toxins; is the job of the castor
oil, which is called 'ViLakkeNNai' – 'விளக்கெண்ணை' and it sounds as though it means
'the cleansing oil' in Tamil. The
Upadesa from Gnãnis removes the
cobwebs of sinful tendencies from our minds, cleanses and lights up a lamp of
clarity and purity.
Kottaiyur that I talked about just a few minutes back was not a city or
township at all but was only wilderness full of ÃmaNakku plants. On some
occasion Easwara came into being there as a Shiv Ling. Thus it became a holy place to be visited
around which the township developed. In
every holy temple town we have something known as the 'Sthala Vruksham', which
in Kottaiyur is the ÃmaNakku plant only. It was here, that Rishi was doing penance for
a long number of years. So, related to the place, he came to be known as
'EraNdakar'. The name suits such a
person for another reason also. Like the
ÃmaNakku nut gets crushed to provide the oil for the wellbeing of humanity,
such Mahatmas too sacrifice their own selves for the benefit of the
society. EraNdakar did that sort of a
sacrifice, about which I started telling you.
People talk much about martyrs nowadays.
But that concept of martyrdom and love of the nation and society is not some
new idea. Starting from Dadichi, from
ancient times, there have been many examples of people ready to sacrifice their
all for the sake of the common lot! To
quote an example for that only, I started telling you about EraNdakar.
his time the River Cauvery was not flowing into Tamil Nadu at all. Starting from Kodagu Hills, meandering around
the Western Ghats, it was flowing into the Arabian Sea only. However much the rains in Talai-Cauvery in
Mercara, the flow of water in that River was not of much use to people. During those days the Sozha Desam was ruled
by one King Kãndaman. He thought, "This water brought in by
Agasthya could have been of much use to many people had it been flowing as a
big river. What to do, this Sozha Desam has
only some seasonal rivulets and no perennial River! If this River Cauvery is made to flow in to
our Sozha Desam, how nice it would have been!" So, he went to Talai Cauvery and prostrated with
reverence before Agasthya Muni, who was doing Tapasya there. Much earlier than
this, Agasthya's wife Lopãmudra it was who had been brought with him in his
Kamandalu. That Kamandalu had been
toppled by PiLLaiyar who had come in the form of a crow there and caused the
water to flow as the Cauvery River.
Though flowing as a river, it was not just the flow of some insentient
entity but that of a Devata Swaroopa.
Knowing her husband's mind she did not flow far off, remaining
Sozha King thought that if he prays to Agasthya Muni, he will send the Cauvery
River to flow through Sozha Nadu. That
is, if the Muni were to only think favourably that it will be more useful to
more people if the river flows through the Sozha Nadu, the River will accordingly
follow the intended path and the King knew this. So, he had gone to Agasthya Muni, serving him
with due reverence and respect. At a
suitable moment the King requested the Saint to sanction a boon that "If
the Cauvery River flows more widely making vast tracts of land get green cover
by forests or become arable. Since her
water has sanctity, on her banks many a temple-town is likely to come up thus
making more and more people pious. So I
pray that the Cauvery River may be made to flow in the easterly direction
through Sozha Nadu.
had illimitable love for his wife Lopãmudra.
That is why, even after she had dropped her mortal body and had assumed
the form as 'teertha roopam' – 'तीर्थ रूपं', as 'holy
water', Agasthya had kept her in his Kamandalu, the water jug that he carried
with him everywhere. PiLLaiyar in the
form of crow had toppled the Kamandalu to let flow the water mainly for the
purpose of 'loka kshemam' – 'लोक क्षेमं', that is, for
universal benefit of the masses. Still
knowing her husband's love for her, she did not wish to go far away from him
and so had remained nearby. But now when
the King of Sozha Nadu had requested Agasthya in all sincerity and reverence,
Agasthya's mind was already in accord.
He was basically a very kind hearted person. But still his attachment to his wife had come
in the way. But now, with the Sozha
King's entreaty, he realised the error in his being too closely attached to his
wife, thereby denying her being useful to many.
Whole heartedly he sacrificed her and gave a Vara to the Sozha King,
"Now you can take her with you!"
Like Ganga went behind Bagiratha earlier, Cauvery now went after the
Sozha King, that is, she flowed as a wide river in Tamil Nadu. Now we cannot even think of a South India
without the River Cauvery! That is how
the most important factor for the great, deep and poignant culture of South
India came about with the flow of the River Cauvery through Sozha Nadu.
sustain life in so many ways that instead of only supporting agriculture, they
are the cause of the very development of culture and civilisations. As the perennial rivers keep on flowing,
people in areas for miles on either bank, become prosperous and thriving in
terms of plentiful availability of grains, pulses, vegetables and fruits. When you live in such surroundings instead of
worrying all the time as to how to make the ends meet, the resources and mind are
released for nobler pursuits of industries, crafts, sciences, arts and further
esoteric and philosophic subjects. When
we look at the way civilisations have developed all over the world, we note
that they are all based some River Valleys, such as Nile Valley Civilization in
Egypt; Euphrates and Tigris Rivers in Mesopotamia; Roman civilization was based
on River Tiber; the Chinese development was based on Yangtzekiang and in India
it was Indus and Ganges River Valley Civilizations. Similarly in South India, it was based on
Godavari, Krishna and Cauvery Rivers.
Especially the last named Cauvery flowing through Sozha Nadu has been
responsible for a unique and refined culture.
Connected to Cauvery: The Third is EraNdakar
are three Rishis connected to this River Cauvery. First is his father Cauvera Rishi who was a
Raja Rishi. As the daughter of Cauvera, she became Cauvery. In Tamil they call it 'Kãviri' for having been spread by the effort
of a crow to topple the Kamandalu of Agasthya Rishi, 'kãkkãi virittadãl kãviri'
விரித்ததால் காவிரி'! Further the Tamil poets can never be tired of
describing the River that they lovingly call the 'Kãviri'! In Tamil 'Kã' means a garden or orchard. As the River in its progress towards the Bay
keeps on creating and enlarging so many gardens and orchards all along the way,
they say, ''kã' ennum solaigaLai virittukkonde povadãl kãviri' – ''கா' என்னும்
சோலைகளை விரித்துக்கொண்டே போவதால் காவிரி'! The father Cauvera Rishi took care of his
daughter most lovingly. Next is the
Agasthya Rishi who married her and kept her in his Kamandalu. Women in orthodox households are kept within
the house that rest of the world never gets to even see their faces, that they
used to be known as 'padi tãndãp
paththiny' – 'படி தாண்டாப்
that they never crossed the threshold of the front steps to the house! This Agasthya Rishi had kept her almost in
imprisonment in his Kamandalu out of extreme attachment!
10. But she
had to play the role of the Mother of the people of Kodagu, Kannada and Tamil
lands, as was the divine intention. It
is to put that divine intention into action that PiLLaiyar came as a Crow and
toppled the Kamandalu to let the River Cauvery flow. Even then it was only a small rivulet. But only after the efforts taken by the King
from Sozha Nadu the River was made to flow Eastwards, Kodagu to Karnataka, then
Kongu Nadu of Coimbatore and Salem, then Sozha Nadu of Trichy and Tanjore. But wait!
There was yet another great hurdle that the River had to cross before it
could reach the Bay of Bengal. Even
after reaching Tanjore District. It was to end there in a cavern in the ground,
some four miles short of KumbakoNam in a place known as Thiru Valanchuzhi. As you might have heard of 'Black Holes' in
the skies that gobble up massive stars of such powerful gravitational pull that
they will not even let ordinary light escape from their grasp! Here was Thiruvalanchuzhi where the river was
disappearing down a subterranean cavern, not to be seen again. It is here that Rishi EraNdakar had a
tremendous role to play of self-sacrifice of extreme gravity and significance!
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