Friday, February 14, 2014

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 106 (Vol # 7) Dated 14 Feb 2014

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 106 (Vol # 7) Dated 14 Feb 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 middle of page No 804 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 updated continually)

'Sãkshi Natheshwar'
56.           Sãkshi Natheshwar temple is located in a place known as Thiruppurambiyam – 'திருப்புறம்பியம்', which is some five miles NW of Kumbakonam on the northern banks of Maniyaru River which is a branch of the KoLLidam River that flows one mile north of it generally in the West – East direction.  Though it is a part of Sozha Nãdu, that place is closely related to Madurai, the capital of Pãndya Nãdu by 'Sãkshi Nãtha Swami' thereby creating integrity between states of India at the district level.  We covered the story of Gopala of Mathura, known in Tamil as 'Vada Madurai' – 'வட மதுரை'.  In the ensuing episode, we are going to see the playfulness of Siva Perumãn of 'Ten Madurai' – 'தென் மதுரை'.  (Here the 'Ten' is a transliteration of a Tamil word meaning south and not a number, to be pronounced also softly as 'then' than ten!)  The moment we think of the playfulness of Siva Perumãn, the 64 playful episodes of his known as 'Thiru ViLayãdalgaL' will come to one's mind.  In fact the 64th such caper by Sundareswara is this story enacted in this Thiruppurambiyam Sãkshi Nãtha Swami temple environs replayed at Madurai!

57.          Silappadigãram is a Tamil classic which talks about a man born and brought up in Sozha Nãdu who goes to Madurai due to financial constraints.  There while defending the honesty of her husband who had already been wrongly accused of theft and killed, the heroine talks about women known for their faithfulness in their devotion and integrity of love for their husbands, known as 'paththinip peNdir' – 'பத்தினிப் பெண்டிர்'; quotes the names of such women of the past.  Amongst them the first name quoted seems to be that of the heroine of the story that I am going to narrate now that happened in Thiruppurambiyam.  O K, enough of preludes.  Let me now come to the story. 

58.          In Cauvery Poombattinam there was a business man of the Vaisyas caste.   He had got his sister married to another businessman of the same caste in Madurai.  After some time she got a male child.  For some reason it so happened that there was no interaction between the two families for a number of years.  In the meantime, this elder brother was blessed with a daughter.  Then he remembered about his sister in Madurai and that she had a son who may be about ten years old by now.  (As per the customs and traditions present even today in South India, children of brother and sister are mutually considered as rightfully suitable for being paired as husband and wife.  But children of brothers are as good as siblings and so are children of sisters between themselves.)  So anyhow, this gentleman came to the conclusion that though the age difference may be a little too much, he should give his daughter in marriage to his sister's son only, when the day comes.   

59.          Though he had so decided, somehow he never contacted his sister or brother-in-law and years rolled by.  The girl reached a suitable age for getting married as was the custom those days.   But, it so happened that the businessman and his wife died within a short period of time!  This young girl became an orphan in her own house.  She knew that there was a son of her father's sister, to whom her father intended to give her in marriage.  Father's sister is 'Aththai' – 'அத்தை' as the name of the relation and son of 'Aththai' is known as 'Aththãn' – 'அத்தான்'.  So, anyhow the girl started living as though she is already betrothed to that boy, maintaining a sort of self-discipline as required in 'Pãtivratyam', like Appar's elder sister Thilakavathiyar did when her would-be died in battle!

60.          What the parents had failed to do was done by the village elders who had much respect and love for the family of this orphaned girl.  They searched for and identified the address of this girl's father's sister's son in Madurai and wrote a letter to him in detail as to how her parents had died.  So this boy came to Cauvery Poombattinam, completed all the transactions of business accounts on behalf of his uncle.  He was already married and had children of his own.  But as was the custom those days, it was quite acceptable to have two wives.  So, he intended to visit a number of temple towns in the Sozha Nãdu along with his would-be second wife, on his way back to Madurai.  Accordingly he started out on Yãtra with this daughter of his Mãmã.  The girl's ill luck accompanied her!

61.          They reached Thiruppurambiyam Kshetram one evening.  To get rid of the tiredness and dirt after a long day's walk, they bathed with water from the temple well.  The cold water was really refreshing!  They had a darsan of the Siva Perumãn.  They got some Prasãdam from the temple kitchen and sat under the Vanni tree and had food.  Then in the outer Prãhãram of the temple itself they went to sleep, quite physically apart.  Sometime in the night he was bitten by a snake and was shouting in the throes of the effect of the poison.  The girl got up and observed that it was the effect of a snake bite.  Though mentally she had surrendered herself to him as a would-be wife, till proper marriage function is done, she was not to even touch him.  Accordingly she got some others who were sleeping similarly in the Prãhãram woken up, to see if they can extend some care for this man.  I happen to remember reading the words in the book about this story, 'aravam theendinãlum ãraNangu theendãmal' – 'அரவு தீண்டினாலும் ஆரணங்கு தீண்டாமல்', meaning, 'though bitten by the snake, without the girl even touching him'!  It is really heartening to note as to how even common folks were maintaining such abidance to the moral code of conduct as given in the Sãstrãs, till recent times in the past that was the reason for the high opinion about this country in the whole world!

62.          The girl cried her hearts out that the man who was going to marry her and give her life-long protection and sustenance has so pitifully died of snake bite, cursing her own ill-luck!  By then it was day light.  Luckily for her, Thiru Gnãna Sambandar had camped in their village that day.  He was informed of this case of death due to a snake bite in the temple premises.  He took pity on this girl and sang a padigam on the Swami who had swallowed the Alahãla Visham, praying for the resurrection of this trader from Madurai, like Appar had sung for Appoodi AdigaL's son for the effect of poison to come down.  In Thirumarugal too, the same Gnãna Sambandar had sung a song beseeching Siva Perumãn to remove the effect of poison for another man, about which it has been mentioned in Periya PurãNam.  This event of Thiruppurambiyam has been mentioned in the Sthala PurãNam and in ThiruviLaiyãdal PurãNam. 

63.          Events of Silappadigãram occurred a few centuries prior to the time of Thiru Gnãna Sambandar.  Looking at three similar stories of three different women of exceptional fidelity to their yet-to-be-husbands one can only wonder about the playfulness of God.  Sambandar sang, "You dwell in cremation grounds – 'piNampugu mayãnam purindanai' – 'பிணம்புகு மயானம் புரிந்தனை'.  But you are capable reviving even someone, who has been swallowed by Yama the God of Death – 'vizhungu uyir umizhndanai' – 'விழுங்கு உயிர் உமிழ்ந்தனை'."  Thus he approached God from the deserving rightful freedom of a son with his father, as he used to be known as the 'ÃLudiya PiLLaiyar' – 'ஆளுடைய பிள்ளையார்', as he requested in this padigam.  With the Anugraha of Swami, the effect of poison receded and in no time this man was alive again!  Before leaving Thiru Gnãna Sambanda SwamigaL advised him, "Appã, do not make this girl wait any longer.  First get married and then visit temple towns in Kshetrãdanam and reach Madurai as a wedded couple".  With that Sambandar took leave of them all.

64.          That young man was in a quandary!  We have to obey the command of a Mahatma who has just this moment saved our life from certain death.  But if we go back to Madurai as a wedded pair, who will come and give Sãkshi that we are married?  Finally the boy decided that God is the witness.  The moment he thought of Swami, the picture before his mind's eyes were that of the temple environs, with the well from which they had cold water to bathe, the Siva Lingam of the temple, and the Vanni tree under which they had eaten the Kovil Prasãdam as food for the night, were all deeply etched in his mind.  Instead of the well, some would quote the temple kitchen known as 'MadaippaLLi' from where he got food.  That is what is said in Silappadigãram.  Everybody accepts the Vanni tree, with that we could accept the Well and or MadaippaLLi.

65.          So as the picture in his mind came as the words of his mouth he said, "Swami Siva Lingam, Vanni Maram, the well and MadaippaLLi as the witness I marry you" and tied the knot of the sacred thread of a thick Saradu dipped in turmeric paste.   Siva Lingam is of the form of fire / Agni.  The Vanni Maram or tree is also a representation of fire only as any wood is also fire wood.  Additionally the word in Sanskrit is 'Vahni' – 'वह्नि' which means fire.  So thus there are two witnesses of Agni for the marriage.  They returned to Madurai as a wedded couple.  Suddenly when her husband landed back with a second wife as his Mãmã's daughter, that is, Mother's brother's daughter; the first wife was extremely annoyed with apparent detestation!  But anyhow controlling herself she welcomed them.  Without open acrimony and fight, there was a 'cold war' situation.  A few years went by and the second wife also became a mother. 

66.          One day there was a fight between the first wife's son and the second wife's son.  The elder of two was a little too rough, for which the step mother ticked him off, for being unkind.  This was the spark that lit up a huge fire-work in that, the first wife poured out all her suppressed venom saying, "Nobody knows as to what is your Kulam or Gothram and as to how you ever got married with my husband!  But somehow you have managed to trap my husband like any cheap woman.  I am tolerating all this.  But how dare you talk to my son, who is the heir to all this wealth as per tradition and law?"  The second wife felt so insulted that she was wondering as to why the earth is not caving in and swallowing her!  She ran to Meenãkshi Sundareswarar Kovil.  Taking a dip in the pond of golden lotus known as, 'por-tãmaraik-kuLam' – 'பொற்றாமறைக்குளம்' she went inside the temple and cried her hearts out!  "My father, with you, your Sthala Vruksham the Vanni tree, your water well which provides water for your Abhishekam, and your MadaippaLLi where all your Prasãdam are cooked; as witness only my rightful relation Aththãn married me, isn't it?  Today another woman has doubted my character and fidelity!  If she is openly talking like this, there may be many who have similar doubts.  You have to clarify the situation or I shall die here in your Sannidy itself", she declared.  Swami spoke as an Asareeri "Come here again with your husband's other wife and anybody else you care to invite from the towns people".  So, she did come back with a whole lot of people!

67.          Sundareswara Swami, referred as 'Somasundara KadavuL' and Sokkanãtha Perumãn – 'சோமசுந்தரக் கடவுள் மற்றும் சொக்கநாதப் பெருமான்' in Tamil books with love, as his 64th ViLayãdal, recreated the scene of their marriage repeatedly, like a trick shot in the movies says PeriyavãL.  (KTSV adds: – I  would like to say that it must have been like a replay in U-tube or I-pad, Google 3 D photography from 360º angles available these days or even in your smart cell-phones these days, for the viewing pleasure of all the assembled, in his temple itself!)  Every one of them could see the environs of the Thiruppurambiyam temple, the Kovil Water Well, the MadaippaLLi, inner Sannidãnam with the Siva Lingam, and 'Vanni' Tree as the Sthala Vruksham, repeatedly ending in the Hero telling the Heroine that with all these as the Sãkshi, I take you as my second wife!  The whole city was flabbergasted at the truth of the girls love for her Aththãn and her devotion.  The first wife also asked her pardon.  The husband it was who wanted to divorce the first wife for being too cruel with the younger girl.  But our heroine said, "Please do not even think of any divorce or anything like that.  Her reaction to my presence was natural and her doubt about my veracity was very much on the cards.  It is only because she doubted the fact of our marriage that it could be made public with God's Blessings, for the whole world to witness!  Please do not be unkind to her!" So the husband did and 'All is well that ends well!'

Epilogue; Thiruvortriyur
68.            Will I ever sing the Mangalam to the narration and bring it to an end, I wonder!  Stranded half way in the narrative I thought of Vigneshwara.  As though he is annoyed as to why I did not start with a prayer to him first, he is repeatedly agitating my memory cells on many other connected and not so very connected events.  Once I talked about the Vanni tree, I am reminded of the Thiruvortriyur Magizha Maram which occurs in the story of Sundara Murthy SwamigaL, where for the sake of Sangili Nãchiyar, Swami got himself installed in that tree, that is known as Ãvirbhãvam.  Enough is enough.  Let me stop here.  There is Periya PurãNam in the original form with narrative and explanations in books nowadays.  Why don't you also do some searching and researching for yourself?  What is the fun in my telling you everything with no effort on your part to know?    

(Deivathin Kural will continue with the next subject.)




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