Author Topic: Stories  (Read 32700 times)

silentgreen

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Stories
« on: December 21, 2010, 11:30:59 AM »
Kapila Muni

The first teacher of any evolved creature is his mother. So, if ever a mother accepts her own son as her teacher, then that son has to be really great. Although such a thing rarely happens, particularly in the field of spirituality, yet it does happen, and Kapila, the son of Devahuti, is a luminous example of this. His mother became his first disciple, and in later times he came to be known as the Father of Philosophy. His simple life, coupled with his erudition in Samkhya, Yoga, Vedanta, and Bhakti schools of thoughts, makes him the greatest among sages.

Unlike many other sages of Vedic times, Kapila is more historical and human. Even Acharya Shankara accepts his identity and greatness as the teacher of Samkhya philosophy. Various legends, traditions and writings show the impact of the sage on the Indian psyche.

An Extraordinary Son
Kapila's fahter was the great sage Kardama, and the mother was Devahuti. The legend is that Devahuti, although a divine personality, was too infatuated with the trappings of the world. Out of sheer passion to enjoy life, she requested her sage husband to make it possible for her to do so in a spectacular fashion. The sage obliged. Devahuti was now able to experience such enjoyments as were not possible even for the gods to enjoy. However, soon after, Kardama left everything, including his weeping wife, and went to perform tapasya, after their son, Kapila was born. This giving up was in accordance with an earlier agreement between the couple.

Kapila is believed to be a born Siddha, a man who has attained perfection. He was a spiritual prodigy from his early childhood, and he soon took to performing unwavering tapasya. The hard spiritual labour bore fruits, and Kapila attained the Highest state of being even while quite young. He was now ready to engage himself in the welfare of humanity by meditating on the Universal Self, and also by teaching, instructing and guiding the spiritual seekers. The divine providence was such that his own mother, Devahuti, became his first disciple. She had been disillusioned with worldly enjoyment after the departure of her husband. This experience had made her long for eternal peace and joy that comes only to the spiritually illumined and liberated. With this foremost desire in her mind, she approached her own son to instruct her in the ways of God. Kapila the son, agreed to be Kapila, the teacher to her mother. The son-mother soon turned to be guru-shishya.

Kapila then taught her mother the Samkhya system of philosophy (which latter became Jnana Yoga), the Yoga system of sadhana, and the Bhakti way of spiritual realisation. These three vital aspects of Hindu spiritual tradition were first propounded and explained in detail by sage Kapila only. The latter philosophers, saints and poets developed these ideas into fully grown systems, which continue to play essential role in the Hindu system of thought even today.

While preaching his mother about the importance of devotion to the Lord, Kapila said,
The glory of the Lord is always worth singing; for His glories enhance the glories of His devotees. One should therefore meditate upon the Supreme Personality of Godhead and upon His devotees. One should meditate on the eternal form of the Lord until the mind becomes fixed.

Devahuti felt so illumined and blessed by the instructions, of her own son that she prayed to him,
I believe, my Lord, that You are Lord Vishnu Himself under the name of Kapila, and You are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Brahman! The saints and sages, being freed from all the disturbances of the senses and mind, meditate upon You, for by Your mercy only can one become free from the clutches of the three modes of material nature. At the time of dissolution, all the Vedas are sustained in You only.

As instructed by her son, Devahuti began to practice bhakti yoga and soon became detached from her delightfully attractive home, and even from her own body. With her mind always fixed on God, she soon became liberated from material bondages, attained samadhi, and finally became one with the Supreme.

Kapila is accepted as one of the twenty-four incarnations of Lord Vishnu in Bhagavata Purana.
Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita: "among siddhas (perfected beings), I am the sage Kapila"

--- from Vedanta Kesari
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...

silentgreen

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« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2010, 09:42:43 AM »
Vivekachudamani, the celebrated text on introspective thinking, says that five types of creatures get killed because of their attachment to a particular object of enjoyment:

1. Deer are attached to sound. Hence the hunter plays sweet notes of music on a flute; the deer come attracted to the source of music, and get trapped. Once a monk saw that a hunter was chasing a deer which ran faster than the hunter. Then keeping its bow and arrow down, the hunter took out a flute and began to play it. Mesmerized by the sound of flute, the deer turned back and came running to the hunter. Then the hunter kept the flute down and killed the deer. Sound killed the deer!

2. A moth goes after a flame, attracted by its rupa (colour and form). It does not see the burning nature of fire. It comes near the fire, touches it, and once its wings are burnt, it falls down. Moths rush to fire, without knowing that they are going to die, because they are fascinated by rupa.

3. The elephant has the wickness for the sense of touch. A bull-elephant gets excited when it sees a cow elephant. It rushes towards her, not seeing the trap of covered trench between him and her. He steps on it, falls into the trench and becomes imprisoned for life. Even though a mighty animal, an elephant loses its freedom forever, because of its weakness for touch.

4. Similarly, the fish goes after the bait and gets hooked. The fish looks at the bait as a piece of food. It goes to bite it and ends up losing its life.

5. So is the case with the bee. A bee, while enjoying the fragrance of lotus, gets inside it and remains inside it even after sunset and gets trapped in it when the petals close. And then it gets crushed to death by wild animals which happen to trample upon the flowers at night.

Each of these creatures meets its end due to its weakness to a particular sense; and then what to talk of the fate of human beings who have weakness for all the five senses! If this fact is seen and seriously meditated upon, we develop detachment towards sense objects.

--- from Vedanta Kesari
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...

Subramanian.R

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« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2010, 11:53:45 AM »



Dear silengreen,

There is a brief conversation about Sankhya Yoga between Sri
Bhagavan and others on 6th April 1937  [Talks No. 385]:

Devotee:  Is Vaikunta in Paramapada, i.e in the transcendent
Self?

Bhagavan:  Where is Paramapada or Vaikunta unless in you?

Devotee:  Vaikunta etc., appear involuntarily.

Bhagavan:  Does this world appear voluntarily?

The questioner returned no answer.

Bhagavan:  The self-evident 'I' ignoring the Self, goes about seeking to know the non-Self.  How absurd!

Devotee:  This is Sankhya Yoga.  Being the culmination of all kinds
of other yogas, how can it be understood to start with?  Is not
bhakti antecedent to it?

Bhagavan:  Has not Sri Krishna started the Bhagavad Gita with
Sankhya?

Devotee:  Yes.  I understood now.

*

Devotee:  In Sri Ramakrishna's Life it is said that an idol, Ramlal
was animate.  Is it true?

Bhagavan:  Can you account for the animation of this body?  Is
the movement of the idol more mysterious than the movement
of this body?

Devotee:  But, metal does not move itself.

Bhagavan:  Is not the body a corpse?  You will probably consider
it a mystery if the corpse moves.  Is that so?

*



Arunachala Siva.
 

silentgreen

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« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 01:24:41 PM »
The essence of Shankhya philosphy is that Atman is different from body etc. In one of the Puranas, it is shown that sage Vashistha bringing a fresh dead body to Kapila Muni to demonstrate Shankhya philosophy for the good of the world. Kapila Muni, who was revered as an incarnation of Vishnu, invokes all the Gods to take their respective places within the body. Finally, Kapila Muni invokes Lord Vishnu to enter the body as Chaitanya Shakti. When Lord Vishnu sent a part of Him as Chaitanya Shakti, the body revived. Then people came to know that bodies by themselves are not animate. It is the Chaitanya Shakti which makes them animate.

From the point of view of the highest, there is no miracle about anything.
There is no miracle about an inanimate thing moving, because the Shakti of Brahman itself moves the bodies of living beings. There is no miracle about abiding in Self either, because the Brahman abides in the Self naturally at all times. Since Shakti knows everything, from Her perspective there is no miracle in incidents which to us appears to be against the natural laws. We often associate lot of miracles with saints, but from the point of view of Brahman and Shakti, these miracles are not miracles at all.
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...

Subramanian.R

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« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2010, 02:27:53 PM »



Dear silentgreen,

Yes.  It is the Shakti within a Jnani that causes miracles.  Jnani
never owns them up.  In the Presence of Sri Bhagavan, many such
miracles did happen.  I had posted a serial posts on the miracles
in the Presence of Sri Bhagavan.  But He always used to mention
that Arunachala did all that.  Food prepared for only about 10
people one day, lasted to serve about 30 people.  This reminds
of Jesus Christ feeding with two loaves of bread and a couple of
fish to a large crowd at the Mount of Sian.   Similarly, when He
was suffering from constipation, and when the attendants did not bring Kadukkai [ a nut, a herbal remedy], in spite of reminders,
one villager brought a sackful of such nuts.  Again, once when
a lame villager who used to walk with crutches, got disillusioned
with life, [his daughter in law was also ill-treating him badly],
decided to do pradakshina of the Hill and then commit suicide,
Sri Bhagavan, in the guise of a middle aged man, came in front,
and pulled his crutches and threw them away.  The old man fell down and when he woke up, lo and behold, the old man's disability
had disappeared and he could get up and walk normally.  When
the devotees ascribed this to Sri Bhagavan, He simply smiled
and said:  "No, No, It is Arunachala's miracle."  He also saved
one young boy Ramana, who got drowned in the Ayyankulam Tank,
where one man swiftly jumped in and saved the boy.  When young
boy Ramana came to the Hall, next day, Sri Bhagavan smiled
at him and asked the boy:  "Was the Ayyankulam water very chill?"

Miracles do happen in Sri Bhagavan's Presence even today.  But
Sri Bhagavan never owned them up.  Last year, around this time
on 1st Jan. 2010, Smt Kanakammal fell down to prostrate in
Samadhi Hall and never got up. She got liberated there and then.

One lady who is always in the Asramam observed:  Sir, This is to
re-affirm His Presence, for the benefit of all of us. 



Arunachala Siva.

silentgreen

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« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2010, 03:02:11 PM »
Dear Subramanian.R,

you are right. All miracles are miracles of Shakti only. A Jnani never owns up a miracle because he knows that miracles are due to Shakti's play. An ignorant person who gets some siddhi owns up thinking that it is his own miracle. But irrespective of whether one owns up a miracle or not, the fact remains that Shakti operates and is responsible for all the miracles.

When a person moves hands and feet we do not say it is a miracle because we got used to it. But when in Sri Ramakrishna's presence a metal idol started swimming we call it a miracle since we are not used to all the varied ways of Shakti. Within some Shakti manifests less, within some Shakti manifests more.
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...

silentgreen

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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2010, 03:07:52 PM »
Purandara-dasa (1480-1564)



The name of Purandara-dasa (1480–1564) stands at the top of the Haridasa tradition. He brought about significant changes in the fields of literature and music and became a source of inspiration for future composers. He is even regarded as the "father of the Carnatic or South Indian form of music".

Since no authentic material on his early life is available, it becomes inevitable that we depend upon legend to reconstruct his life. His former name was Srinivasa Nayaka. Though very rich, he was a miser to the core. His wife was a sincere devotee of God. It is said that Bhagavan Narayana wanted to test Srinivasa Nayaka and came to him in the guise of a poor brahmana seeking financial help for the sacred thread ceremony of his son. Srinivasa Nayaka refused him outright. The brahmana then went to his wife and narrated his plight. Filled with compassion, his wife gave away her nose-ring. The brahmana took it to Srinivasa Nayaka and asked for some money in return. The sight of the familiar jewel shocked Nayaka. Without asking about its source, he told the brahmana to come the next day and rushed home to verify the source of the nose-ring. Fearing harsh punishment, the wife decided to end her life by consuming poison. However, she miraculously found the nose-ring in the cup of poison and handed it to her husband. Through further enquiry Nayaka came to the conclusion that it was the Lord himself who had come to him. This brought about a great transformation in him. He relinquished all his riches, went to Vijayanagara with his wife and children, took dasa-diksha, initiation into the path of the dasas, and was given the name Purandaradasa by Vyasa-raya.

He emotionally acknowledged the part played by his wife in his transformation: "Whatever happened, happened for good. It paved the way for the service of the Lord. [Called] to hold the dandige [a stringed instrument] in my hand I used to hang my head in shame. May the likes of my wife increase! She succeeded in making me hold the dandige."

Purandara-dasa’s contribution to the Haridasa literature is immeasurable. He gave a new dimension to devaranamas as a form of literary expression. Through his mastery over language and poetic diction, and by way of his unique presentations, he has been a household name in Karnataka for centuries now. Purandara-dasa's compositions are thematically multidimensional. We have songs praising the glories of the Lord. In others we find dialogues between the devotee and the Lord, wherein the trials, tribulations, joys, and sorrows of the inner life of an aspirant are vividly expressed. A major portion of his compositions recreate episodes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavata. Those dealing with Krishna, Yashoda, and the gopis of Vrindaban have varied dramatic narrations. His compositions with a social message are also many in number.

Purandara-dasa is known for his deft use of words. Here is an example of his effortless use of simile:
When I meditate on you, O Lord, what harm can others do to me?
What can they achieve by their jealousy when I am surrounded by your boundless
mercy and when I repeat your name constantly?
Do ants lay siege to fire?
Will the dust that a scampering horse throws up envelop the sun?
Is there anything that can go against one who has patience?
Will the mountain tremble when the wind blows?
If a thief tries to break open and seize the money which he sees in a mirror,
can he get hold of it?


In another song he equates the Lord’s name with sugar candy;
and this is how he urges people to get a taste of it:
O buy sugar candy, my candy so good!
For those who have tasted say naught is so sweet
As the honey-like name of the godlike [sic] Visnu.
My stock is not packed on the backs of strong kine;
Nor pressed into bags strongly fastened with twine.
Wherever it goes it no taxes doth pay;
But still is most sweet, and brings profit, I say.
It wastes not with time; never gives a bad smell;
You’ve nothing to pay, though you take it right well;
White ants cannot eat the fine sugar with me;
The city resounds as its virtue men see.
From market to market ’tis needless to run;
The shops know it not, the bazaar can have none.
My candy, you see, is the name of Visnu,
So sweet to the tongue that gives praise as is due.


--- from Prabuddha Bharata
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...

Subramanian.R

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« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 04:10:00 PM »



Dear silentgreen,

Sri Puranadaradasa and other saints of Maha Bhakta Vijayam stories
pray to Panduranga Vittal of Pandaripuram.  One of Jnaneswar's
siblings, a girl, Muktabai, is said to be avatara of Sakti.  She is just six years old in the story. 

Panduranga is an advaitic swarupam.  He does not display conch
shell and disc.  He is keeping his two hands safely on his waist,
so that devotees would not thrust either a conchshell and disc
or trident and hand drum.  His head is having a head gear.  His
idol is said to have a Siva Linga on the crown.  The saints of
Maha Bhakta Vijayam stories though they sang in praise of Hari,
they did not condemn Siva.  This was explained by one discourser,
who covered all the stories in a serial telecast in Sri Sankara TV.

Jnanandagiri Swamigal of Tapovanam was a Vittala Bhakta and
followers of Harinama bhajans and devaranamas.  But he is
adorning Vibhuti on his forehead.  The followers are neither Madhvas nor Vaishnavas.  They can at best be called as Panduranga- advaitis,  like Vallabhacharya is called Krishna-
advaiti, and Saint Manikkavachagar is called Siva-advaiti.
The philosophy of non dualism is important for us and not the
personal gods.

Thank you for the nice post.



Arunachala Siva.     
   

silentgreen

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« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2010, 04:35:28 PM »
There is no harm in worshipping god with form if the devotion is pure and non-dogmatic.

Sri Krishna said in the Gita:
In whichever form any worshipper wishes to worship with faith, to that form I render his faith steady.

Even a few drops of water, or a fruit, flower, or leaf, if offered with devotion, He accepts from a devotee whose heart is pure.

Devotees of Bhagavan Ramana, considering Ramana as god is worshipping his picture with incense and praying to him. This is also worshipping a form only. But in this worship is also present the worship of formless.
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...

Subramanian.R

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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2010, 09:47:25 AM »



Dear silentgreen,

Yes.  Sri Bhagavan Himself did not disapprove form worship.
From form worship, one should go to formless worship.  In
Sri Ramana Stuti Panchakam, [five songs], Sri Bhagavan praises
only as form, Guru, light, nectarine ocean, Red Hill, Wondrous
picture, Master, Lover, etc., etc.,

Only in Verse 2 of Sri Arunachala Ashtakam, He brings in the
formeless, nameless Brahman.

"Inquiring within 'Who is the seer?' I saw the seer disappearing
and That alone which stands for ever.  No thought arose to say
"I saw'.  How then could be the thought arise to say "I did not
see?"  Who has the power to explain all this in words, when
You [as Sri Dakshinamurty] this of yore in Silence only?  And in
order to reveal by Silence, Your state transcendent, now You stand here, a Hill resplendent soaring to the sky."



Arunachala Siva.       

silentgreen

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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2010, 11:27:39 AM »
Kanaka-dasa

In the Haridasa literary tradition, Kanaka-dasa (1509–1607) is a name which stands on a par with that of Purandara-dasa, his contemporary. Kanaka-dasa was born in a village called Bada in northern Karnataka. It is said that he was brought up in a family of shepherds and later became an army chief. It is contended that he renounced worldly life in response to a divine call during a battle and became a Haridasa.

He built a temple for Adikeshava, his chosen deity, at Kaginele. Later he went to Vijayanagara and took initiation from Vyasa-raya. Though he had the support and encouragement of Vyasa-raya, who recognised his inner mettle, he had to face many challenges from some narrow-minded brahmana pandits of the math. This fact was even recorded by Purandaradasa in one of his compositions.

Kanaka-dasa strongly criticized the practice of judging a person on caste basis:
They talk of kula, times without number.
Pray tell me what is the kula of men who have felt real bliss?
When a lotus is born in mire, do they not bring and offer it to the Almighty?
Do not the gods of the earth drink milk, which comes from the flesh of the cow?
Do they not besmear their bodies with deer musk?
What is the caste of god Narayana and of Siva?
What is the caste of the Atman and the Jiva?
Why talk of kula when God has blessed you?


This 'caste dialogue' found expression in one of his remarkable poetical works, 'Rama Dhanya Charite', the story of the cereal ragi. This is the gist of the story:
Once there arose a quarrel between rice, consumed by the people of higher castes, and ragi, commonly used by the lower castes, regarding their superiority as cereal. Unable to resolve the issue, they approached Sri Rama, king of Ayodhya. Rama listened to both of them and, reserving his judgment, ordered that they be placed in the granary for some time. After the stipulated period both were called back. By then the rice had turned stale, while the ragi was still in good condition.
On the basis of this test Rama declared the supremacy of ragi and called it raghava dhanya or rama dhanya after his own name. Popular etymology has it that raghava dhanya later became 'ragi'.

The allegorical way in which Kanakadasa portrayed caste has given this poem a unique place in the history of Kannada literature and it is considered one of the major sources for socio-cultural studies on medieval Karnataka.

It is said that Vyasa-raya used to create some situations now and then to show the real worth of Kanaka-dasa to his other disciples. Once on an Ekadashi day, when fasting is observed as a religious practice, he called together all his disciples and gave them each a banana, with the instruction that nobody must see them eating it. The disciples hid themselves in different places of their choice and consumed their fruits. Kanaka-dasa, however, brought his fruit back. On being questioned by the guru, he replied: 'When the all-pervading Lord is observing everything in this universe, can one really get a place where nobody is watching?'

On another occasion, in an assembly, Vyasa-raya posed an interesting question to Kanakadasa:
'Who among the people of this assembly will go to Vaikuntha (the abode of Bhagavan)?'
Pointing his finger at every person, he asked Kanaka, 'Will he go to Vaikuntha?'
In each case Kanaka answered in the negative.
Even when Vyasa-raya asked, 'Will I go?', the reply was the same.
This was too much for the pandits and they began to fume. Finally, the guru asked Kanaka, 'Will you go to Vaikuntha?'
Kanaka replied calmly in his characteristically ambiguous way, 'If I go, I go. …'

The pandits thought this to be a self-assertive reply and a big uproar ensued. Finally, at the guru’s bidding, Kanaka explained what the statement meant:
"If the 'I' - the ego - is destroyed, then will I go to Vaikuntha."

--- from Prabuddha Bharata
Homage to the Universal Being...Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ... Om Shanti ...

Subramanian.R

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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2010, 01:13:24 PM »



Dear silentgreen,

If I go, I will go.

These words of Kanakadasa, reminds me a story in Sri Bhagavan's
life. Once there was a devotee, who had seen Him in very early
years in Virupaksha Cave.  He developed a lot of respect, awe
and devotion for Him.  He prostrated before Him and then went
his way.

After several years, he came to see Sri Bhagavan again.  This
time, Sri Bhagavan was sitting on a sofa, with cushions, someone
was fanning Him.  There were incense sticks burning on a fire,
and there were fruits placed on a stool before Him, [as brought
by devotees.].  He somehow felt that Sri Bhagavan was now leading a cozy life with all comforts.  He told Sri Bhagavan: 
"Bhagavan!  You have been spoiled!"  Sri Bhagavan also replied
to him stating:  "Yes I have been spoiled!"  Satisfied with the answer, he prostrated and then went away.

The devotees were angry at the remarks of the visitor, and more
so, when Sri Bhagavan accepted it.  One devotee asked Him:
"Bhagavan!  He was saying that You have been spoiled. But
you also accept, what is this?"

Sri Bhagavan said:  "What is wrong?  He asked me, whether "I" [have] has been spoiled?  I answered, "Yes. I [have] has been spoiled!  Is it not a correct answer?"

It took a few minutes for the devotees to understand.  Sri
Bhagavan's ego has been spoiled or vanquished long ago.  How
does the exterior comforts do matter?  The sofa, cushions, incense sticks, fruits, do they spoil the egoless state of a Brahma Jnani?



Arunachala Siva. 

Ravi.N

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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2012, 11:31:42 AM »
Friends,
I wish to share the  Story of Nanda,The Pariah Saint.I had posted this in David's Blog .I find that Silentgreen has initiated some wonderful threads here and I feel it will be useful to revive these.
This is from the Excellent collection of independent articles of sri B R Rajam Iyer,who started the renowned journal 'Prabuddha Bharata' inspired by Swami Vivekananda.Rajam Iyer lived for just 26 years(1872-1898)on this terra firma.The collection of his articles were brought together as a Book-Rambles in Vedanta.

Nanda,the pariah saint:

Adhanur was a village in the south Arcot District of Tamil nadu.The parachery (the quarters of the pariahs,always remote from those of the other castes)of Adhanur ,was on the outskirts of the village.A number of small unventillated,single roomed,hovel-like huts with pumpkin creepers covering their tops and scattered too wildly to be classified into streets or rows,black earthenware generally kept outside the huts,broken mudwalls,heaps of rotting bones and other filthy matter abounding on every side,cocks and hens that chuckled and bode their time,dogs that barked all day long,half-naked women that barked oftener and louder and troops of dirty,sun-burnt and naked children playing or quarelling-such were the surroundings amidst which our great saint was ushered into the world.Our actions are mixed in character,partly good and partly bad and nanda,to whom it was given,by the goodness of his previous karma,to set an inspiring example to the world and grow into god,was destined,by the necessary counterpart of the same karma,to be born in the midst of a barbarous community:but the beauty of providence is such that our very punishments are blessings in disguise,and the apparently unfavourable conditions,under which Nanda was born,themselves proved to be,as we shall see,for his own good and indirectly for that of the world.
Even in his early boyhood,nanda was,as we may easily understand,unlike the other boys of the parachery:his very play consisted in making figures of god,in clay i.e. as he at that age wanted him to be-a stout,black man with bold whiskers,a huge lace turban,and high-heeled native shoes,and an axe or a scythe in his hand and at the same time very trustworthy,and kind and merciful to those that sought his protection.To make such clay gods,to sing and dance around them,to carry them along in procession,to organize an infant band of bhaktas and make festivals for his gods were his chief juvenile sports.The small circular gopuram(tower)of the saivite temple in the brahmin part of Adhanur had a strange fascination for his boyish imagination for there were beauty,grandeur and, as
he could not approach it,mystery enough to set them forth in relief.It was this love of the Grand,the beautiful and the mysterious that was remarkable in Nanda and chiefly contributed to his salvation.He would often wistfully gaze at that tower wondering at its shape,size and grandeur and busily form guesses about the treasure underneath concealed to his view,which it was meant to glorify.Often as the village god passed in procession with torchlight,music,drums and vedic chant,nanda followed by other pariah boys would run forth to obtain a view,however distant of the festival and return deeply impressed with the procession and its poetic associations.He had an inborn respect for all holy things-temples,festivals,Brahmins,and the Vedas,which his low birth tended greatly to develop.
As he grew into manhood,his imaginative fervour and piety also grew with him and deepened and he became more and more eager to contribute what he could,however humble it might be,to the service of the lord.It is the tendency of true love to grow till it overflows the heart,and then it can no longer be shut up within,but must necessarily show itself out in action.Nanda thought long over what he could do to please the Lord;he was not rich:he was of low birth:no kind of charity readily suggested itself to him.One day while seriously thinking over the matter,it struck him all of a sudden that he might supply temples with leather for drums.To him,there was something almost miraculous in the very suddenness of the thought and he rose up with joy and exclaimed:"the Lord has spoken to me.He has commanded me to supply His drums with Leather",and he immediately set about preparing it.The Lord indeed does always keep conversing with us,only,we do not hear Him:and of the things we offer to him He chooses,not by their value(for He is himself the Lord of all things)but by the love and piety with which they are offered.The labour of procuring leather,of wetting and tanning it and cutting it into proper sizes,henceforth became to Nanda a sacred pastime and the very smell of leather roused in his imaginative mind a group of holy associations.
Nanda had a few friends in parachery(it is a pity that their names have not been handed down to posterity)who shared his enthusiasm and sympathised with him in his labours.Every now and then he would speak to them of God's glory and grace,smear himself and them with sacred ashes,and one day,while there was no work to be done in the fields,he stole away with them(we must remember that these pariahs were slaves under the Village landlords)to a famous temple a few miles off,called Tirupunkoor now known as old vaitheesvaran Koil.They went round the village three times,repeatedly besmeared themselves with sacred ashes and shouted forth the names of siva.Nanda was beside himself with pious enthusiasm and danced and wept,and after sunset,when the temple doors were opened,sent forth to the priest his offerings of coconuts,plantain fruits and loads of leather.He and his companions stood outside the temple at a little distance from the Flag staff,and from there obtained occasional glimpses of the image within.Their joy,particularly that of nanda,knew no bounds when they beheld for the first time,though from a great distance,the mysterious sanctum sanctorum of the great temple all radiant with light.The ringing of the bells,the crowd of neat looking pious devotees,the recitation of sacred verses,the puja,the burning of camphor,the worshipping with light and other imposing rituals of the temple,and above all the lingam(Image of siva)itself,which by its very form filled the whole place with a peculiar solemnity and sacredness,far exceeded his grandest expectations and impressed his imagination much more deeply(here his low birth was an advantage to him)than they did that of the Brahmin worshippers inside,who were familiarized to them.

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Ravi.N

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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2012, 12:02:11 PM »
Nanda,the pariah saint continued...

There was to him a mystery only half cleared and a solemnity he had never known before;he eagerly drank in the spectacle which to him was new and fascinating;tears flowed in torrents from his eyes and his emotional communion with God became every moment closer and closer till at last he became completely absorbed in meditation and all thought expired in the enjoyment.Those that saw him were filled with wonder at the steadiness of his devotion,his self-absorption and the serenity that shone in his face in spite of his low caste,and before he woke from his devotional trance a large and admiring crowd had gathered around him.The sensation created at the time was so great that his visit to Tirupunkoor has made a distinct epoch in its history and richly added to the glory of its temple,for tradition asserts that while he was standing behind the Flag-staff and struggling to get a view of the Lingam inside,Siva took pity on him and ordered Nandi(the image of the Bull placed opposite to the lingam in all saivite temples)to move a little to one side,that his low caste devotee might get a view of Him;and accordingly unto this day the huge figure of nandi at Tirupunkoor is placed not exactly opposite to the image of Siva but leaning to one side.
As soon as nanda awoke from his holy trance,he prostrated before the Brahmin crowd,that had gathered about him and began with his friends to go round the Village once again.It so happened,that while thus going round,a certain Brahmin pundit was reciting before a large audience chidambarapuranam(the Story of chidambaram) from the pial of one of the cornermost houses of the Brahmin quarters.As Nanda passed along,he heard the Brahmin say:"Chidambaram is the holiest place in all the world;he that once visits the temple there,be he a chandAla(outcaste),crosses once and forever the ocean of births and deaths":and then followed an eloquent description of the temple and the inner meaning of its grand symbolism.
Indeed in point of tradition,Chidambaram is one of the Richest cities in the world.What palestine was for the Christians,what Mecca is to the Muhammadans,what sreerangam is to the vaishnavites,that Chidambaram is to the saivites of the Hindu community.It is one of the Five great places of worship in Southern India,in each of which,God is represented as one of the five elements.There the representation is as Akas(ether),the first of the five elements.The idea of worshipping the elements as God is essentially Vedic,and it is a great help in the finding out and practical recognition of the divinity in the universe-which latter,when examined,is seen to be nothing but a physico-chemical compound of these elements.In a higher sense,the Akas worshipped at Chidambaram is not the ether of the scientists,but the spaceless,timeless,unconditioned Self.The very name Chidambaram means the Akas of wisdom and the temple there is called KOil-the temple par excellence.In the centre of that temple,there is a gold tiled mantapam(hall)called the Chit Sabha-the hall of wisdom in which to be seen first the image of nataraja and then what is known as the Rahasya(the secret)-representing of course the secret of all secrets,the characterless Nirvana of the Self.Of all the anthropomorphic representations of the deity yet known to man,that of nataraja is one of the very best and the image at chidambaram,which is the prototype of all similiar images elsewhere,is certainly one of the most inspiring figures that I(rajam Iyer)have known.Even considered as purely a work of art,there are few images more faultless,more life-like and more charming.That soft curly hair tufted like that of a dikshitar(a priest),the long prominent nose,those eyes so full of life and expression,that face in which dignity,bliss and mercy speak out and dance,that natural bend of the arms and their ornaments,that beautiful attitude of the dancer,and lastly,that raised foot(kunjidapAda)so eminently inspiring are before me as I (Iyer)write,and when to the artistic appreciation of the image is joined a full understanding of its idea,its inner poetry-that form the noise of the damaruka(a little drum)held in one of the right hands,innumerable worlds are represented as rushing forth into life as sparks from fire,as bubbles from a spring -Sabda nishtam Jagat-the world sprang out of and stands by sound or vibration;the other Right hand expressive of the idea "be it so",represents the power which maintains those worlds under a great unerring and faultless law;that the fire in one of the left hands ,represent the mighty and mysterious power of destruction,which makes the stars,mountains,and oceans "the perfume and suppliance of a minute";that firmly planted Right leg indicates the power of the mystery that refuses to clear up,the thick manifold veil of illusive panorama which hides Truth from us for ages together;and that lastly,the raised left foot that symbolises the grace of God,which shelters and saves those that seek it,from the eternal infinite,and terribly deceiving drama of creation,existence and destruction-it is no wonder,that men like appar,manikkar,pattinathAr,and thAyumAnavar forgot in that presence the petty commercial prose of our daily life,and broke forth in the highest,the most philosophical,and the most impassioned poetry that the Tamil language has known.

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Ravi.N

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« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2012, 12:31:57 PM »
Nanda,the pariah saint continued...

Nanda paused and heard the whole story of Chidambaram from the eloquent lips of the Brahmin Reciter.It acted on him like magic.The words,Chidambaram and Nataraja,obtained a strange mastery over him.He became eager to visit Chidambaram,which was not very far off,that very night,and was with great difficulty dissuaded from his object by his companions."The temple at chidambaram would be closed,"they said,"before you reach it and besides ,you are a slave to your Brahmin Master,you should not forget your position so easily.we have already stayed away too long and it will not be proper to do so longer." A Lesser man in that situation might have been provoked to reply:"Is that Brahmin greater than God?I care not for him.I shall have my own way," but Nanda meekly replied:"Yes,you are right.It has pleased God to place me in the situation of a bondsman.He knows what is good for me infinitely better than I do.To resign myself to His Will,is even a higher worship than visit his temple.I shall fall at the feet of my Brahmin Landlord,and please him in all honest ways and I am sure he will sooner or later allow me to go to Chidambaram."So saying ,he returned home with his companions,but not before he had dug out with their assistance a tank,still pointed out as his,for the use of the people at Tirupunkoor.The feat was regarded as wonderful,and the idea of a few pariahs joining together and creating a tank,was an altogether novel one,so much so,that popular tradition attributes the work to God Ganesa,who did it in order to please his father Siva's devotee.The Truth is ,Love works wonders and Nanda's love was of a very high order;it was not like that of some people who go into the temple with plenty of offerings to God-coconuts,plantain fruits,etc ,but would not give a pie to the beggar at the temple gate.In Nanda's eyes all men were God's children and to serve them,was itself a kind of worship,higher even than supplying temple-drums with leather or making offerings to God.After digging and completing the tank,he and his companions returned home.
Henceforth it became the one passion of Nanda's life to visit the great temple of Nataraja.Day and night he would pant for it.While working in the fields,while staying at home,while laying himself down to sleep,always his mind was with the Great God dancing as it were the unceasing dance of Creation,Maintenance and Destruction.Everyday he would think of begging his master to let him go to Chidambaram,but day after day passed without his venturing to do so for fear of a refusal.He would tell his friends everyday:"I go to Chidambaram to-morrow,"but a great many to-morrows became to-days and he had not gone:he became a veritable "dupe of to-morrow" and his very friends nicknamed him "one that goes to-morrow"(TirunALaipOvAr)
In the meantime,the pariah community at Adhanur,among whom true Bhakti was a thing altogether unknown,observed first with curiosity and then with alarm,the change that was coming over Nanda.The constant repetition of the Holy Name of Siva,the frequent besmearing of the body with sacred ashes,the meditation he was plunged in,and more even than these,the thorough change that had come over the inner man,his extreme meekness and humility,his constant and involuntary references to God,his inability to talk of anything but Him and His glory,his self absorption even in the midst of work,caused real uneasiness in the minds of his ignorant kinsmen,to whom any kind of deviation from the accustomed run of Life was a source of Fear.He would seldom mix in the cruel and barbarous sports of his community;meat and toddy lost their sway over him.Butchery was an act of abomination in his eyes,and he discouraged it whenever he had occasion.Often while the rest of the community was engaged in quarrel or gossip,he would unconcernedly repose under some tree and meditate:he would look at the wonderful creation around him,admire the unceasing miracles of the universe-plants,rivers,mountains,trees,and say:"Ah,all this deceptive phenomenal wealth is the glory of that one foot of Nataraja so firmly planted down.Beautiful as all this is,let me O God cross over to you and see you not as you seem,but as you are." Then he would fix his mind on the raised foot of Nataraja and pray with eyes filled with tears to be sheltered under its blissful shade of wisdom.
One day Nanda had long sat meditating in this way till his eyes were suffused with tears of joy and he passed into an ecstatic trance,when a curious neighbour went near him,and finding him unconscious and his body wetted with tears,gave the alarm to the whole community that something was wrong with Nanda.The report found ready acceptance on all sides,and soon our poor friend was shaken rudely and disturbed and was at once demanded an explanation;but all that he could say was:"Knowing that there is a God,who can help worshipping him?" which ofcourse was not found satisfactory.The result was that a council was at once formed on the spot,and it was unanimously resolved by the wise of the community,that Nanda's malady was due to the fault of not having held feasts for their gods more frequently,and that therefore one should be celebrated the very next day.
Grand were the preparations that were made for the feast.A huge pandal(shed)was erected and decorated with plantain trees,coconuts,mango leaves and flags.Fowls and sheep were procured in abundance for sacrifice.A Valluva priest of oracular fame was called in,and grotesque clay figures of the mighty gods of wonderful names-veeran,iruLan,kAtteri,veryan,Nondi,chAmundi,nallakarupan,pettannan,pavadai and a multitude of others too numerous to be mentioned here,were made.The next morning,the whole village gathered together under the pandal.The clay gods were arranged in order of importance;fowls and sheep and pots of toddy were ready for the feast.Nanda was held by main force,for which however there was no need ,in the centre of the assembly,and the high priest Valluvanar shook his damarukkam(a little drum);and at once there was a wild blowing of horns and reckless beating of 'drums and timbrels loud' and,as soon as they stopped,the holy priest got inspired;god has descended unto him,and he rose making all sorts of hideous cries;about ten people held him down,perhaps to prevent his escape to heaven.Thus held down and shaking forth his damarukkam,he delivered with appropriate gestures the following oracular utterances."Nandan," he said, "Nandan-Nandan-Nandan is possessed with the big long haired devil which resids in the market Tamarind tree;it will make him laugh and weep and run and talk and sleep"(many people do these things without the help of the devil-Iyer)and he asked:"Does he not do all these?" to which there was a tumultuous reply of "aye,aye,how true the Oracle,how right!". Nanda said nothing but thought within himself:"O Lord,how wonderful is thy dance!Here is a wonderful scene played in thy endless Drama!"

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