Posted in Food For Soul

Signature

Why did these geniuses want to leave their signatures everywhere?

Some time ago, Kanda Shashti Kavasam sung for Lord Muruga aka Subrahmanya, Lord Shiva’s second son was eye of a controversy. Every Tamil child grows up singing this ‘Kavasam’ and in fact, there is a scientific opinion on the popular Thamizh prayer that, the nuanced pronunciations in the lyrics can keep off Alzheimer’s, for the tongue twisters they are. The same is also said to be true of Sanskrit slokas and mantras such as Vishnu Sahasranama, Lalitha Sahasranama for instance, that are ages ancient. Repeated chanting of these can do wonders to your memory and delay aging process of the mind.

What caught my attention about the Kavasam uproar was that, how Bala Deva Raya signed the Kavasam composed by him at Thiruchendur, one of the six of the ‘Aru Padai Veedu’ – the shrines devoted to Lord Muruga throughout Tamil Nadu. ‘Bala deva rayan pagarndhadhai’ is the verse with which the devout signs off the Kavasam in his name that he first recited in the seaside Murugan temple famous for its Skanda Shashti celebrations during which time Lord Muruga rains arrows at Padmasura, the asura (demon) king, and the enactment continues to this day in the beach adjoining the temple drawing tens of thousands of Muruga bhakts throughout India for the annual occasion.

Hanuman Chalisa is similarly signed off by Tulsi Das.

Every keertan by Thyagaraja, one of the ‘trimurthis’ of Carnatic classical is signed by composer Thyagaraja with invariably the closing verse ‘thyagarajanutha.’

Which made me think, how nicely and intelligently these great men have copyrighted their renderings in bygone eras!

Let me add more names that come to my mind as I listen to devotional music.

I have not observed this trademark practice in Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, Thirupugazh, Thiruppavai etc. Nor have I picked up anything of this kind in Meera bhajans etc. To my knowledge, few doyens who reigned supreme in the classical music arena have patented their compositions as did some from northern India with their Samskrit compositions – in their own unique way! Clever!

Just found this curious! None seems capable of resisting the lure of vanity! Not all of us want to go down into the oblivion without making sure that we will be remembered forever! I find this signature similar to an artist leaving his/her initials in the masterpiece he/she creates that may survive to eternity. Great kings etched their names into stone masonry on temple granite walls. Some emperors got engraved their vain glory to posterity on their marble tombs. Some in history did not have a chance to leave a signature, yet they remain in our psyche, not having been banished to obscurity. Time has always done justice to these heroes be them scientists or architects or medicos or mathematicians or literary geniuses. Or even noble princes. That is how we have Vedas, Upanishads to Yogas in our midst until today. We remember Sushrutha to Bhaskara. Valmiki to Agasthya. Some signs have been erased by invaders and marauders, some signs did not exist at all, and some survived the onslaughts to reveal to us the history as it unfolded through centuries.

Recently, a time capsule was buried under earth during the ground breaking ceremony for Ram temple at Shri Ram Janam Bhoomi in Ayodhya. That got me thinking and that is how i tied Kanda Shashti and other things to each other. Just connected the dots and found it all absolutely amazing. I shall keep looking for more signatures in whatever literary composition or sanskrit sloka or mantra i may come across for a telltale sign left by the author.

Finally I have this confession to make: i am good at nothing. A mere passerby. And I may be completely wrong.

Posted in Food For Soul

Unfair & Lovely

Lever is dropping the word ‘fair’ from its fastest moving fairness cream brand in the Indian market, ‘Fair & lovely.’ And I have a confession to make: it is something i can’t do without either. My tube of Fair & lovely is really like my foundation/moisturizer that I wear whenever I go out (MRP < Rs.100/-) That is my make-up maximum. Otherwise at home, I use natural Ayurvedic moisturizers or skin nourishing lotions. The foreign brands that I have experimented with are Body Shop and Loreal (not in India) but i have slowly come out of these. None of these are fairness creams. Meant only for skin maintenance/repairs. Basic minimum. Why I use Fair & lovely is that, it is non-greasy and gives a smooth finishing comparable to or even better than any expensive foreign brand foundation that one may use (which may cost over 1 k or 2k). Mine is cheap and best and non-allergic. I hate Lever company but I like this product of theirs. Vanity is not healthy but wanting to look crisp must be okay. I appreciate Kangana’s stand and adore her uprightness and non-materialistic attitude. Nandita is another classic black beauty. Tamil cinema has had dusky women like Saritha, Suhasini, Sujatha for leading ladies. The fairest ones from Madras like Vaijayanthimala, Hema Malini, Rekha, Jaya Prada and Sri Devi went to Bollywood rejected by Tamil filmdom (except for Sri Devi and Vaiji)! That must tell you something…

Never owned a mascara or foundation in my life, never will. It is good to know I have like minded friends from school who share similar values. Have never owned a make-up set. May be lipsticks and eye pencils in the loose and face compacts. That completes beauty routine (for parties only) for some of us.

Many of us go for facials. In my case, I started with visiting beauty salons very late in my life – after my 36th year. I go for mostly gold facials once or twice an year that are turmeric based. In India, we get herbal/Ayurvedic facials which is our greatest advantage. These can bring a glow to our face without making us appear fairer. The de-tan is natural. I don’t think removing the tan is by itself bad. It’s like removing the top soil grime, nothing more. It can’t make you permanently fairer. Maximum a shade lighter, that is all. But I learn, there are now expensive toxic methods to completely change/replace your skin, if you so wish. Yes, you can buy somewhat permanent fairness these days (that may last upto years). I can name a few Bollywood heroines and Tamil Nadu women politicians who have supposedly gone for such skin treatments. This is the reason some salons have cosmetic dermatologists in their payroll.

While condemning the clamour for fairness, we have to know the difference: it is nothing wrong in wanting to look good and presentable. Neat and nice. Most of us middle-class and middle-age women are for like reparation and skin maintenance only. Our age demands it.

Even for hair, so far I have not resorted to chemical dyes. Only the natural henna. Most of my friends are like me. India again has the home turf advantage here. We have shampoos that are non-soap based. Completely natural. (I am limiting myself to skin colour in this post).

More than that, any accentuation to fairness is vain and distasteful. I don’t even attempt it because I believe in myself first. I don’t want to look paper white like South East Asians or Arabs or Europeans or Americans because I am not them. I am Indian, and I am a Madarasi, a Tamil, and I am proudly dusky. Someone married me for what I was, what I am. And that someone is a responsible man, not just any tom-dick-harry. Like in my case, for most girls, skin colour plays no significant role in our life as far as India is concerned. I graduated, got a decent job, married – all in my chocolaty brown skin. Briefly for a while, my skin colour was refered to as ‘wheatish’ in my Kundali (horoscope) around the time of my marriage. Never before or after that.

So that is why I was pretty much offended that the Fair & Lovely commercials showed as if we women got anything and everything done capitalizing on our looks and gender. Which is so much untrue. It is an insult to our very womanhood, this downplaying of our hardly won battles and success stories. Such a belittling way to portray women. The ads need a tweak first. Their grand lies do more harm than flatter.

what a damaging ad.

The south is pretty comfortable in dusky tone. Let north Indians stop calling us Kalia. The north easterners are called ‘chinkis’ by north Indians as well (for their resemblance to chinese).

But fair or dusky, I do have the habit of rubbing a lemon slice in my face regularly to de-tan naturally. We use haldi (turmeric meant for grooming purpose; this haldi is bit different from the haldi we use in our kitchen) and chandan (sandal paste) and coconut oil for skin toning and improvement down south.

I believe strongly that we all have to look and feel beautiful inside out. Insides first. Physical workouts are the best way to beautiful self. That by itself takes care of all our beauty concerns. Physical stamina and fitness will automatically radiate to our skin and face. Similarly if we are happy than brooding, that reflects in our face as well. This kind of radiance one can spot readily in newly married women, pregnant ladies etc., for instance.

Next comes our food habits. Vegetarian food habits delay the ageing process. Infuse lots of fresh greens, vegetables and fruits and wholegrains, pulses and nuts in your everyday diet and see the difference. While this may have nothing to do with your skin colour, you can notice a telltale welcome change in your skin tone. After all that, there is the gene factor.

When the foundation deep inside is firmly rooted, the superstructure will be good, in my opinion.

I am always for a healthy sheen and skin. I can’t believe some women spend obscene sums on chemical beauty and make-up products. Mostly these are other Asian women from Middle East and Far East Asia who indulge so much in frivolous superficial beauty. You can never catch an Indian woman spending such indecent sums on vanity – except for in some rare cases of north Indian women. Kerala women like it best to appear with coconut oil dripping from their faces hahaha! Tamil Nadu slightly better than that! But I love and respect the fact that they couldn’t care less!

I guess Indian women invest more in precious gems, gold, diamonds and in silks when it comes to clothes. And real branded accessories that are worthy of the price. I have seen such an elitist shopping interest in our NRI women abroad. Our tastes are eclectic.

Times may be changing even for us Indian women but certain things ingrained in us by our grandmas hardly leave us so easily. We are still a very traditional community adhering to our own set customs and values.

As someone who never used a chemical soap for the first ten to twelve years of her life (besan for skin and shikakhai for hair), I can vouch for the healthy effects of our natural beautifying ingredients right from our kitchen shelves. These are tips passed over generations. I still follow the ritual of soaking in coconut oil head to foot twice or thrice a week, at least for an hour before shower. Rain or shine. I believe this is the best natural anti-ageing treatment that we can give ourselves within the four walls of our home. And it costs very minimum. Only the pure cold pressed unbranded coconut oil from our nearby farms (in India).

Ayurveda has natural nourishing beauty products that can improve skin tone and de-tan us without the harmful side-effects of imported chemical brands. To my knowledge, many Indian women and beauty salons in India make good use of these.

I figure that, women spend more on vanity when they lack the sense of security and self-confidence. Also when they may have forgotten their roots and tradition and are westernized. Indian women are well placed generally and may still be culturally oriented. Well accomplished careerwise, well qualified and settled early in life. My view is that, therefore our women don’t need to look to hooking men or retaining men or even dating men! By 25-26 we are mothers already, taken. We start our lives pretty soon. Delayed marriages are happening of late in India, even so our women are extremely smart. Very few accord extraordinary importance to grooming, at least down south. When there is solid substance, why do you need any other crutch. In south India, being coffee brown is natural. No big deal. I come from the land that gave the world the Sundar Pitchai of Google, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Indira Nooyi of World Pepsico. What role our Indian skin colour played in the global success of our sons and daughters?

India ladies: beauty with brains. Both Mars Mission rocket scientists as well as successive Miss World/Miss Universe title winners. With the brown skin.

Prejudices exist everywhere. In Arab countries, we cannot even pronounce our Hindu Gods’ names in public. Cannot openly pray/worship. Is n’t this far worse than racism. What ethical rights Islamic nations have in even condemning racism in any part of the world. Pot calling the kettle black.

Before talking so much about ‘Black lives matter’ – let every nation on earth turn secular and democratic first. Black Lives Matter or Islamophobia merit discussion in some societies only when they reciprocate 100% equally and justly whatever freedom they expect to enjoy in open secular democratic countries.

Within India, as I said, the distinction is there between the north and south. In fact, i have faced racism more in my own country whenever I have come across north Indians, over foreigners abroad. Of course, this kind of racist remarks have been mostly harmless. Either that, or we down south are thick-skinned.

Having said that, I like to feel beautiful inside out and have always considered myself beautiful! I don’t need certification from anyone on that! Beauty also lies in the eyes of the beholder. To groom well effortlessly is my mantra. I mean, to groom decent. In India, i feel no need to use even perfumes that block our sweat glands! India is airy lol! Even when it comes to clothing, i prefer desi yarns and weaves and natural vegetable dyes. Ethnic motifs, ethnics clothes. A sari is the most beautiful and sexiest fashion statement in the world! If women are gifts, then the sari is the best gift wrap indeed! I feel most beautiful when I drape my sari.

BE ORIGINAL, BE BEAUTIFUL, WEAR YOUR ATTITUDE IN YOUR SLEEVE. BE JUST YOU. Most importantly , do not become cheap imitation of the west. Music or clothes or food or culture, uphold your native heritage. Stand out. Let your individuality do the talking. You just don’t become ‘them.’

Feminism is oversold and so-much cliched. I am NOT a feminist. I am me. I don’t consider it wrong to want to look good. As I said, any obsession with this beauty concept is though unhealthy. Fixation on these distractions will waylay us on our journey to reach our true goals in life.

I remember my granny saying, ‘Karuppe azhagu, kandhale ruchi’ which translates into ‘black is the most beautiful and the (browned) crust (in the pan) is always the tastiest (in food).’

Hahaha!

Actually, i don’t even feel the need to justify or defend my brown skin that I am too very comfy in.

proudly dusky! black is beautiful!

Posted in Food For Soul

Positivity Vs Negativity.

Positivity Overload reminds me of the Emperor’s new clothes. Excuse me.

Positivity is overplayed a lot of late. Negativity bashed ever since Corona virus became the topic of our conversations. One group flushing with positivity felt that any corona news was more toxic than the virus itself. The sanest way to stay alive was by shying away from mass or main stream media as well as social media. It is true to some extent, that fake news are doing rounds. We are all adults who can filter news as to what is real and what is fake. If it is indeed fake, we are free to dismiss it and move on. If it is real, we can still deal with it given our resources. We can learn from experiences or we can simply mute/block/delete data. As simple as that.

What is positivity to these faint-hearted. It is banishing reality, living in denial. Life is not an odyssey of good times alone. Positivity 100% is as much toxic as 100% negative outlook. In fact, it is the polar opposite. Staying optimistic acknowledging reality is a different scenario though.

In most cases, the negatively portrayed people are talking from their experiences. Theirs is cautious optimism, carefully cultivated in the face of adverse reality. To those who have been shock absorbers for a life time, it is natural to indulge in risk analysis before taking a step forward. In fact, the skepticism gets so ingrained in you that building of trust takes it own sweet time. But once the confidence is gained, the trust so built can be unshakable.

Negative portrayers are responsible people who weigh pros and cons. Their negative outlook is reserved to their closest circle, not for all and sundry. This is one tightly-wrung highly stressed bunch.

Overt positivity on the other hand is a privilege some are born with. Mostly the positivity proclaimers never are in the driver seat. These people delegate responsibility. Responsibility thus diluted, shirked or passed on to next level risk takers such as mostly spouse/family, the supposedly positive outlook ones can afford to stay upbeat retaining their composure. Stress level is negligible.

The same positive group also sometimes may miss out the everyday negativity they may be subjecting their friends and family to, with their (un)solicited

  • opinion on superficialities such as clothes, etc
  • opinion on others choices
  • opinion on others faith and beliefs
  • forcing their way/opinion on things/issues
  • hijacking conversations, deciding conversations, steering conversations
  • never self-doubting, projecting and oozing 100% confidence
  • wanting to have the last word in every conversation
  • believing the best in themselves and the worst in others

Negative outlook group at the best or at the worst, are sincere and ultra cautioners. . If you notice closely, the caution is for saving someone from something ugly and therefore never intentionally cruel. Theirs may be constructive criticism. Negative people still may not single out anyone for scathing attacks. The negatively projected are risk takers who are willing to try untested waters before anyone decides to take the plunge. The negative minded know their limitations and are super-conscious of reality checks. Lacking a safety cushion unlike the privileged, the dooms day prophets are aware of consequences and therefore plan ahead. They are listeners first. They seek clarifications for doubts. They don’t assume things and never take things for granted. Limiting damages becomes their utmost priority as they count in the risk factor. If it can help, they share their stories to trusted circle. Well intended, these cautiously optimistic unfortunately get labeled in return as ‘sinks.’

You may never catch a negatively portrayed friend talking you out of your party dress for wrong colours or whatever. The negative group has in all probability walked the difficult path. They have their priorities right. They know what matters and what is frivolous. For all their supposed negativity therefore, the negatively portrayed friends know what to vote up and what to vote down. Their negativity is all about prudence, never a judgment.

You may be a positive person totally if

  • you have not stood in a PDS queue an entire afternoon
  • you have not stood for hours for school admission or university admission for your kids in hot sun
  • you have not taken a driving test in India
  • you have not commuted regularly by city bus
  • you have not tended to your inlaws or cooked for your inlaws or have had your inlaws at home with you
  • you do not entertain/feed friends and family at home
  • you do not look after others kids/babysit
  • you do not cook/clean/iron on your own
  • you have not lived life without a maid/driver/cook
  • you have always had someone to run these aforesaid errands for you
  • you are of the opinion that you can pay/substitute for humanitarian/physical works/services with monetary compensation
  • you have never worked for a single day in your life (in the case of housewives) reporting for duty to someone hierarchically your superior, waiting with bated breath every month end for your salary to get posted.
  • you downplay humanitarian/physical services
  • you have not missed trains/flights and have been holed up in railway stations/airports for hours/days
  • you do not share equal responsibilities with your spouse economic/familial or whatever
  • you are kept in the dark on your exact family status
  • you are not a decision maker in your family finances/businesses
  • your spouse asks you to mind your own business
  • you have not mingled with Indian crowds
  • you have never been a part of the general janata living the average life of a fellow Indian citizen
  • or in general YOU HAVE NOT STEPPED OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE ever in life…

Such a wonderfully positive feeling group is always 100% politically correct. On the record. To the dot. Very diplomatic. High up in their ivory towers, the cautiously optimistic people to them will always seem the sinks.

Well, the negative ones hardly bother. Otherwise, we won’t belong where we do today. For every step forward, we turn to look back two steps if we have trodden the right path, taken the right step. We value suggestions and welcome wise counseling. We have dealt with disappointments and failures. Most of all we do not live a life of mirage for others. We live a life for ourselves. Since we have had no pressure to impress anyone in the first place, and we dare with our negative approach, we are real and brutally honest.

There is hidden negativity in most of those who think they are positive people. What the heck, that is hardly my agenda.

The negatively stereotyped refuse to count the chicks before they are hatched. They wait to see the colours at the end of the rainbow. They do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. That is the final word.

Posted in Food For Soul

Little Women.

my little women were women of character and substance.

Today is Mother’s day. We have never celebrated or observed anything like this in India until say some last 5 to 10 years when this has become fashionable!

So I wished my aunt and my MIL – and I am writing up this only because I have ample time on my hands !!!

But I do want to put in one point here.

You don’t have to biologically have kids. Your parents need not have to be biologically yours. I say this because, to me my Chithi and Chithappa meant everything. More over my biological parents. My chithappa is no more. My chithi is 75. Even now my biological mother holds a power over me that I don’t deny. The moment I think of her, my eyes water. I can’t go about her school in the heart of the city without breaking down even in public. She died in 1982. She had a host of health issues. She worked until the last day of her life. She was teaching deaf and dumb middle school girls. There are bits and pieces of her memories. From the tapes left behind by her (TDK cassettes recorded with bollywood and tamil songs and bhajans) that i managed to save until 1990s…. and from what others told me about her, i have been forever reconstructing my mom in my memory.  I have one of her tattered saris and I have her handwritten ‘Notes of lessons’ that she prepared for her teaching class. These are like gold and diamond to me. I am almost 52 now. I still amazingly remember my mother’s fragrance – that of Vicco turmeric. I have lost her voice though. Or perhaps i vaguely remember the voice. I don’t have a single photograph taken with my mom. Or may be it is there in some relatives’ albums….

My chithi and chithappa who were childless for many years were like my very own parents even when my mother was around.

Together with my Paatti (granny – maternal grandma), the three women – mother and two daughters still fill my mind’s eye with their beautiful and unforgettable images.

I remember coming home from school in those sunshine days before my world fell through.

My patti (granny) would be keeping evening tiffin ready with coffee. Home brewed after grinding fresh coffee beans at home. From puris to uppurndai to adai and masala dosa, bajji, bonda, my granny’s evening tiffins were very popular that sometimes even my mom’s and chithi’s friends came home for her food! Her famous delicacies were our Diwali sweets: laddoo and jaangri to wheat halwa and kaju katli.

My mom and my chithi would return home with their school bags around 3.45 or 4. My chithi also worked as a teacher. The sisters commuted to their schools by bus.

I and my sister would come home from our schools.

My little cousins – one son and one daughter who were my chithis kids were looked after by my patti. They were not of school going age still.

My chithi would be getting cakes and biscuits for me and my sis from a bakery.My mom would rush in to take her niece and nephew in her lap to pet and spoil them.

We all would sit around and share the day’s stories nibbling the evening snacks.

Few more hours left in the evening for the menfolk to return home. My chithi’s family lived in the next street. My patti cooked everything for the family and packed tiffin boxes. My chithi left with the kids always by 6 pm.

Happiest days of my life.

All the three women I used to call ‘Amma.’ Or simply ‘Ma.’

My chithi and chithappa gave me away in ‘Kanyadhan’ in my wedding in the place of my parents. I married as an orphan.

As a woman with a son almost in marriageable age, I realize now how generous my mother-in-law must have been all those years back.

Too many good people made my present life possible. I will never forget that.

On Mother’s day, the unselfish, unconditional love of these ladies is what I remember most.

I think I have written something more about my biological mom in some other posts – i will tell here of a couple of incidents that define for me my mother even at this age. (May be a repeat).

My mother worked for a catholic institutions that had hostels for the deaf, dumb and blind girls upto SSLC. My mom taught 6th to 8th standard deaf and dumb girls. For Diwali, almost all girls went home picked up by parents. My mom used to take special permission from Mother Superior to get home the girls left behind in the hostel. Most of our Diwalis were celebrated invariably with these deaf and dumb girls at home (sorry that is how we used to call them then. i want to stick with the old lingo). My mom used to gift them bangles, new clothes etc and went back with them to school after Diwali.

My first 12 to 13 years were spent going to the convent for quarterly, half yearly and annual hols and then for their sports day, school day etc., along with my sister and playing with these girls (as equals always). I have this memory of watching sack race for the blind girls every year. I remember the class rooms vividly. Not more than a dozen girls in each class. If a teacher could be 5 min late, the girls had to stand in hot sun for 1 hour as punishment, so my mother was always punctual to work.

I learned of the seriousness of my mother’s health conditions belatedly after her demise. We never thought she could die for that. My parents saved and invested well in the short time of their lives and left us handsome income for even today that we daughters enjoy. They lived a very simple but satisfied life. Not at all ambitious. I remember my mother planting 7 coconut trees Ceylon variety, 1 mango tree, 1 neem tree, 1 drumstick tree, rose and jasmine plants etc, all around our new home that my parents built. She had a terrace garden brimming with flowering plants that she watered everyday immediately after returning from school. The rose plant lived for years after her, blooming with a dozen roses any single day. I remember the big gardening scissors my mother held in her hands. Strangely my mom trained me in cooking and cleaning in those young years. I didn’t know that God was preparing me then for taking over her role shortly.

A second incident is that, a christian girl by name Rosy who had passed SSLC and engaged to marry someone, came home one day with my mother from their school. She had no home to stay having been evicted from hostel. She was an orphan. She stayed with us in our house for 1-2 months until she got married. I remember an argument my mother had with her fiancee. He was like, Rosy was lucky to have found him. My mother roared up like mother hen and made it clear to the boy that Rosy was inferior in no way. My mother threw back the sympathy at the groom’s face and was very proud of Rosy, her ward.

A third one, our house maid was Kanniamma, a teenage girl. My mom got her married getting her all her household needs and saris and footing her marriage expenses. Kanniamma married an autowala. My parents attended her wedding. I tagged along too! On my mother’s demise, Kanniamma’s husband printed my mother’s name in their auto ‘Susheela.’ They named their first born daughter ‘Susheela’ too – my mom passed away soon after their wedding.

My mother touched many lives. I wish she had lived longer enough for us daughters to have known her better. My Thatha (grandfather) always called her ‘his son.’ My mother was a working woman by 1965. Far ahead of her peers in many ways. Very religious, spiritual. Never missed a puja. If my Thatha could be late from his meditation in Ramakrishna Mission mutt, my mother would rush there and get him back. Father driving the scooter with daughter (my mother) as the pillion rider would make our neighbours smile good heartedly! My mom was overtly attached to her parents. More attached to them than with us really.

My chithi in contrast is quietness personified. If my mother was hurricane, my chithi is like a cool gentle soothing breeze. My mother looked after her sister like a daughter. In my mother’s time, i never heard my chithi talk aloud.

Memories of my loving family bring tears to my eyes. Our happy world crashed that fateful day in July 1982 and our lives were never the same again. Broken.

I lost a dozen closest relatives between 1982 to 1993.  Including both my parents and my dear grand parents. Uncles and aunts from father’s side who were our support system. That eleven year period was sheer hell.

That hell was made a lot bearable by my school friends who are proud moms themselves now.

I have to thank my friends moms who all lavished their motherly love on me when I lost my mother. Even my school teachers.

My mom and I went to same school. My mom was popular in my school too that the school management sent 2 teachers including my class teacher to garland her on behalf of the school when she passed away.

I don’t know how I crossed the ’80s alive and in one single piece. My chithi and chithappa took over my parents’ role.

My chithi and chithappa taught me a new meaning to love and kindness and generosity and magnanimity. My MIL taught me how to stay strong and be that pillar of support for everyone.

My chithi chithappa’s advice to me always has been like, ‘be patient, tolerant, flexible, keep your faith in god, your day will come.’ Never did they encourage me once to badmouth my in laws or husband. I now realize what a gift it is to have such a wise set of (foster) parents. I am seeing mothers spoiling daughters lives as well on another side.

I have written little of many precious memories of my mom that I still hold on to. If this is one page, then I can fill up a 100 or 1000 pages about my chithi. I am what I am because of her.

These women are truly the Devis of my life. Mother Goddess Shakthi lives in each and every one of them. I see my Goddess in all these women. COMPASSION, EMPATHY. This is what maketh a mother out of a woman. This is what I can say. The innate sense to understand a third person’s hunger and pain and trauma. Feeding someone anticipating their hunger in advance. This is what it takes to be a mother. Only a mother keeps asking always, ‘have you eaten?’ My hubby and son keep complaining that I always ask first and foremost whether they have eaten! That eating to me by my family is most important! I can’t eat if they don’t eat. That’s what i guess makes me a mother.

The Little Women of my life, saw beyond the exteriors. They’re the kind of women who looked deep into one’s soul. Nothing superficial moved them or moulded them. They were/are REAL women of substance. Women with kindred heart. Women who charted beautiful paths of life filled with love, hope, faith and respect for family and friends.

My patti – not to mention the least… Watching her daughter die before her eyes… My patti, the true mother, never recovered from the shock. How many lunch packs she used to keep ready? Lunch for my amma, appa, chithi, chithappa, myself, my sister. Cooked 24 hours a day. Summers were ‘vathal’ times when she pick;ed mangoes etc., and dried fryums in hot sun. I haven’t come across a better cook than my granny in all these years. Some of her dishes I remember them astonishingly with their unique taste.

Sometimes out of nowhere I long to meet these woman again and bring back the magic of those days….

My chithi has had double mastectomy. She is a cancer survivor for last 25 years. She was teaching board 10 kids even as she went for chemotherapy and radiation in 1996 after which she would go direct to her school as she was teaching board exam batch. She has also since had double knee replacement surgery, neck surgery. Yet I have not heard her complain of anything – she took care of my grandparents and her own in-laws in their death beds. My chithi and chithappa cremated both sets of their parents taking care of them in their old age through death and disease. Physical service they rendered!

My chithi chithappa’s house was always a sanctuary for everyone. Food service to guests 24 hours. Nobody left our house without getting their belly full first. Even postman may expect to be served with a coffee or tea! Such a hospitality is now becoming rare. Not rich people at all. But they paid fees for many poor students and served home made butter milk in liters in front of temples. Extremely pious and god fearing.

I don’t think I will see anyone like this generation again in this materialistic, ungrateful, selfish world.

They’re my own Little Women. My patti, amma, chithi. Most generous. Kindest. Most sensible at the same time. My granny used to read both Dina Thanthi (tamil) and the Hindu (english) newspapers with equal flourish even in those years! She was a 5th standard drop-out. One of the chitchats between the women i remember is : discussing the Warren Report on reading it. My mom owned a copy. I don’t know where it went. Another was a tamil novel: Washingtonnil thirumanam. Based on a tamil hindu wedding in Washington in the 1970s. My mom bound together into thick volumes, great tamil novels that were published in tamil weeklies in those days. After her, the books were borrowed one by one by neighbours never to be returned. Kalki and Jayakanthan and Lakshmi were some of the authors she read.

One snippet: no iron box in our house. My patti used to fold the starched cotton saris of my amma and chithi and keep under bed. So neat would they be! Other memories: baskets of mangoes held by my patti, ghee rice with family, beach with family, card games, carrom board … tv had no role in our lives.

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PS: Are our moms our guardian angels ?

I don’t know about that. I used to dream of my mom until 1993 when I got married. Then she abruptly stopped appearing in my dreams.

In 2003, I visited my sis in Mumbai with family. My sis by now had 2 sons. My mom appeared in my dreams with her school bag neatly draped in her regular voile sari. The sari and the school bag i distinctly remember. She told me, she must leave. This she says looking at me and my son, and my sister and her sons. It’s like someone is waiting for her impatiently to take her somewhere. She said a proper goodbye and left, never to appear in my dreams ever since. After 1993, she visited me only once in 2003 in that early morning dream in Mumbai. May be for others this may sound fictional or hallucinationatory, only those of us who believe in miracles will believe what I believe in. I am sure, my mother would not have had a punar janma (rebirth). She must be a shining star now in the sky up above me.

 

Posted in Food For Soul

Why Me?

Do we ever ask God, ‘why me’ when She showers on us Her choicest blessings.

Why ask ‘why me’ when it is time for a little test of our patience, faith and mettle.

For Vishu/Tamil New Year, we have the custom of offering for Puja and spreading a family feast of sweet, sour and bitter dishes. Veppam kozhundhu – the bitter neem finds a place alongside sweet jaggery and sour mango in our festive menu. It is not without a reason. It is symbolic of one’s life cycle. Upswings and downswings, the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, happiness and heart break are phases of life. When we never question ‘why me’ in moments of sheer bliss, why complain when it is time for self-introspection.

This too shall pass. After peaking highs, new lows are the laws of nature. Accepting God’s will and submitting at and surrendering to Her Lotus Feet one hundred percent may mark a milestone in one’s spiritual journey.

May Mother Goddess give us the strength and willpower to sail through challenging winds of time. Short-cuts to evade one’s Karma can only rejig the balance sheet. The shortfall will have to be met with and made good somehow, somewhere. If not today, then tomorrow. How many ever janams it might take. One can reschedule and postpone Karma not outwit it totally.

Posted in Food For Soul

Decoding Dharma – 3: Why Dharma.

Why Sanathana Dharma (Hindu Dharma).

Because none other seeks the light of knowledge for salvation, awakening of higher consciousness and liberation of the soul from the birth-death-rebirth cycle as Dharma does. No Abrahamic way is anywhere close to the truth. There is no heaven or hell. Only this. You attain supreme conscience or opt to be reborn up until you are ready to merge with the creation and become part of it all on attaining the state of  ‘Mukthi’ or ‘Moksha’ (‘Nirvana’ – enlightenment). How easily said than done. Ant and the boot story as I have mentioned many a time in my blog posts. I can never reach up to higher level than this. I am stranded. I am all admiration for those Maha Avatars who have managed to transcend through time and space into the Infinity, with immense mind control. This is after all the land of Gautama Buddha and Mahavira and Vivekananda and Ramana Maharishi. Of great Sadhus (sages), Rishis and Yogis. Just listening to their life stories suffices for me. I may take a 1000 janams (births) or probably much, much more to reach there, but who cares. I am aware of my own limitations. Unable to rise above this ground level of the pyramid of spirituality. Materialistic aspirations have dulled not just me. The damaging impact is all across the world and the purpose is lost. The one Adi Yogi who always resides in my heart is Lord Shiva.

Other folds have fielded their self-proclaimed prophets and saints and supposed sons of Gods as if we are running a race – and how wrongfully they succeed in weaning away masses from the one right path. It is not even apt to talk about them here when I think of the Maha Yogis who have walked the length and breadth of not just my country India, but the universe. India has had many of them, India is ancient. Cradle of civilizations. Only Hindus believe we are re-evolving after we devolved. It is next to impossible to make an Abrahamic understand this ingrained belief in every Hindu. This is why Dharma has to survive. The one true path. The one visible only to the seeker. Seeker of higher intelligence and truth. The only way you can bust your physical body to enter the realm of supreme existence. Other than on embracing death that is. Our Karma decides where we belong. Whether we must be recycled.

The way I look at our timeless temples, our Gurus, our ancestors, our Gods, our saints and even our mountains …. all this has changed vastly in recent years. I am now a staunch advocate for Hindu Dharma for this reason. I may never unravel the truth in my limited capacity and confinement, but let the seekers who have it in them go after the truth…

Sometimes this moves me to tears. The inability to go beyond my level. Sheer greed I know. The physical, mental limitations. The insignificance of my being. The pointlessness of material life.

The significance of our brain size proportionate to our body mass – i never paid more attention to this like I do now.

My prayer these days is : I can never reach up to you Oh My Mother and Father, but you can reach down to me. Elevate me a little.

Meditation is not easy. But a wise path to tread. Focus sharpens for the starters. Long winding road ahead… Yoga and meditation are good tools to work with in this direction.

The more you become aware of the bonding chains, of your level of intelligence that really matters, the less is the pain of suffering. More acceptance. More Peace. Om Shanthi!

At the end of the day, I am still the materialistic average human. Self-serving and taking refuge in small pleasures. The whole life becomes a summary of such trivialities. But how to get rid of mortal attachments. If I have to wait a lifetime every time, I shall. In this assignment that i have willingly taken in (I believe), let me score my best.

In this birth, in this defined role of mortal life wherein familial duties get duly prioritized, here and whenever possible I gaze at Thee in wonder. Who I cannot reach in a zillion ages. But I am happy to SEE, Thou are incomprehensible. My brains may burst to dust defining Thy dimensions. Thy Immensity. I am fulfilled right now. No aspirations. Ground level view is good and satisfying. Self realization can be at multi-level. I am at the entry stage. To realize that I can’t realize ever is my greatest achievement in this janam!

Pranaams to the greatest Mahans of Bharat! I cannot feel their presence, but I believe they are all around us. The vibes I sense on setting foot in our temples are a proof that I do not expect others to understand. Why great souls are not born these days. Materialistic vision clouds mind. Rituals drown or dissolve the essence. Meaningless pursuits lead us astray from the one goal: Mukthi. Liberation.

Posted in Food For Soul

Till Death Does Us Apart.

While on our way to weekend grocery shopping last evening, my hubby at the wheels asked me if I had come across even a single death procession in the Middle East in all these years. I said, ‘No.’ For that matter, I told him neither had we witnessed a death procession in Malaysia that was our place of residence for four years. How come I never thought of it for so long!

Death is a big matter in India. Processions for the dead are very common that may block traffic. It is a very macabre thing to write about I know, but I thought I have to write it down. Today happens to be Mahalaya Amavasya, which is special for Hindu ancestors. Millions around the country take a dip in our holy rivers and offer ‘tharpana’ in memory of their forefathers.

I was raised in a very shielded secure world until my mother passed away when I was still in school. Until then, I had only heard about death and had seen a few processions on my way back from school that would totally scare me. My mother would tell me, they were taking ‘kanmoodi swamy’  in procession. Means, God with closed eyes. To us Hindus, the dead immediately transform into God. We forget what kind of humans they were in their lifetimes. Once a person passes away, we celebrate the dead as God. We forgive their misdoings. Only the good things about them are to be highlighted and remembered. We also have annual rituals commemorating the dead in our families. Failing to honour the dead with appropriate religious rites may incur their wrath and we could get cursed with ‘pitru dosham.’  That is why we feed the crows everyday in our terraces, believing they are our ancestors waiting for our food!

Until the ’80s, the dead used to be carried on shoulders by minimum four men (relatives) for cremation. Whatever the distance (may be 3-4 km). Hindus do not have casket. Hindus lay their dead on coconut palm mat that is spun between two bamboo poles that the pallbearers have to carry. One can see this in Bollywood films. Even in modern times, this one ritual has not changed. The open procession could be a shocker to little children in those days.

Now no more it is so. Things changed by late ’80s. By then the black van had arrived on the scene. Plus the freezer facility. For even cremation now, we have only electric crematorium. No more wood burning.

The black vans get replaced by even more grander carriers in Chennai these days. With seating arrangement etc. Playing up to the gallery. Quite a show. Death is no more so raw as in my mother’s times. To a significant degree, the effect stands muted today.

Big send off to the dead. Ceremonial. Obstructing traffic. Drawing unnecessary public attention.

What irritates me most is how these processions hinder traffic in the metro. Many times when I would be on my way somewhere, the mourners also happened to throw rose petals etc., into the auto (rickshaw) i had hired. It is such a disturbance to our peace of mind. Mood spoiler. Especially if you are on way to temple, etc. There are some processions with even band !!! Can’t get gross than this!

I wonder why are we Indians like this. Why can’t we do anything quiet. The black vans and other death vans are prominent in the city roads almost every single day. Chennai’s population is 10 million approximately. You have to book for cremation immediately when death occurs, if you want it in time! And don’t forget to take the Aadhar card of the deceased to the crematorium!!! Nothing less is admissible!

There are many things we can learn from others. Out of which, we have to learn first how to behave at death. How to quietly mourn the passing away of a dear one. How to give some dignity to the dead. How to conduct ourselves with dignity.

In lower middle class Indian homes (labour class), the men take to the bottle after cremation . To relieve their pain. What about the ladies. Men can pee wherever they want, men can booze to relieve their stress, however women have to be that strong pillar to take in everything and remain standing, upholding the family tree and customs and traditions is it!

A 10 to 16 day ritual then follows in Hindu homes after someone’s passing. Highly religious. Then a monthly observance as per Hindu calendar. And then finally an annual remembrance – with all the spiritual significance.

I am told, our ancestors live in us. Right. My gene may be millennia old but I am essentially of the same stock that my ancestor was a 1000, 2000 years ago. I owe them that much. And especially if you are a follower of Dharma, it means your bloodline is pedigree and not corrupted for centuries, millennia. Conversion to Hindu Dharma is happening only since the last 100 years or so. Hindus are thoroughbred carefully for eons, generations which makes us unique and special. We have our ancestors to thank for such a thoughtful cultivation and preservation of the Hindu gene. Kula Deivam (family deity) for most Hindu families also may be some long lost ancestors. This is where remembering our forefathers has its relevance.

There are friends and relatives who have donated cows in memory of the dead to ensure heaven to their dear departed family members. I could only think of the calf the cow was separated from. There are those who went to Varanasi (Kashi) in the north and Rameshwaram in south Tamil Nadu to immerse the ashes in river Ganga and in the Indian Ocean. How much the dead were showered with love and respect in their own lifetimes is a million dollar question.

We Hindus also mourn for an year someone’s passing. We do not celebrate Diwali or observe any ‘vrath’ until the first year Devasham or Sraartham (annual religious commemoration). It is a must for us. We are not supposed to even wear new clothes in this one year period, but it is no more so for last many years. In digital age, a lot has changed in our society. Still, there is something that still needs a thinking-over.

Why is death so much observable in Indian roads. Why is that we have never seen death in other countries of our residence. And why do we Hindus have to appease our ancestors after they leave us, when we so much displease them when they are alive and kicking in our midst.

Don’t others have families too. Don’t they miss or mourn their beloveds. Are we Indians the only ones with emotions. Why are we overdoing even such a thing as close and intimate and personal and private like death in the family. How can we even make this a public affair by obstructing traffic. Why should others even know about our grief. Why should others suffer for our loss. Others totally unconnected to us.

I am proud of my Hindu roots, but there is  a lot we Hindus can learn from others about life and death. Why can’t we just GO quietly.  In peace. Om Shanthi!

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Daughters may be denied the last rites as sons, but daughters can still fulfill their longings by giving their beloved parents and forefathers the respects they deserve at Kashi and Rameshwaram and Gaya. These are the only shrines/holy places in India that allow Hindu women to belatedly offer ‘tharpanam’ to their ancestors with/without an intermediary. These places are in my bucket list. There is also the  Shraddha Perumal temple at Nenmeli, near Chennai that serves the same purpose.

Posted in Food For Soul

Decoding Dharma – 2: The Madras Theosophical Society

 

The Theosophical Society is right in Chennai. It’s famous banyan tree is still a well known landmark. In fact when Chennai was still good old Madras, my aunt’s school used to take their high school girls for picnic to the tree that sprawled over a huge area leaving a cool shade. My aunt’s school is in Adyar bank even today. I can’t believe that once upon a time, the school used to open with a snake charmer leading them from the front. The classrooms used to be riddled with snakes from Adyar river. It was only in the 1970s and  1980s. Gradually things changed as India changed and soon there was no more work for snake charmer in the school premises.

So that is how the Theosophical society became familiar to me at a young age. Because of my aunt for whom, the banyan tree was like an icon as she daily commuted by city bus to her school which was close to the society.

In history text books, like anyone else, I have read about Annie Besant and Madam Blavatsky. More about Annie Besant who supposedly spearheaded the Home Rule Movement in India. She apparently moved on to other things, drawn by India. More so, the Hindu spirituality. Actually I had no idea. Many Chennaiites have been infatuated with the Theosophical society founded by her and J Krishnamurthy. However I have always remained immune to J Krishnamurthi. In fact, I did not even attempt to comprehend what they were trying to tell us. I didn’t know much about Annie Besant after whom Besant Nagar, the Chennai suburb is named. JK Foundation schools are popular for their style of syllabus and free thinking philosophies. More than that, I have never tried to find out honestly anything about this curious trio. Rukmini Arundale, the founder of Kalakshetra school of the classical dance form Bharat Natyam similarly was a close acquaintance to the spiritual thinkers. There was one more: Henry Olcott.

It is interesting to learn from Sadhguru, why they came to India exactly over a hundred years before, what drew them to India, and ultimately of the great Indian/Hindu spirituality and of Shiva. It is tragic that in a nation that beholds so much truth and wisdom about creation, there is today hectic foreign-sponsored activity to pull us Hindus away from native faith which is the only standing truth in the universe. That which truly transcends logic and theories and prophesies to lead you to the ‘true conscience.’ Or what you may call, the state of ‘Nirvana.’

The way I look at Sanathana dharma and at India has since undergone a massive change. I understand my belief system better now. I don’t care what others may want to think or how others may judge. It doesn’t matter.

I have heard of JK, Annie Besant etc over years but as I said I hardly paid attention to their interests or philosophies or experiments. The banyan tree that was once the center of many Tamil film romances (‘Aadi velli’ song for one, starring Kamal Hasan and Sri Devi from Moondru Mudichu in the black & white era of late 1970s), and the Theosophical society hardly attract visitors these days. Now strangely I know better. I understand the relevance finally. Aurobindo also was a freedom figher who later on became a spiritual guru who founded ‘Auroville’ in Pondicherry near Chennai that draws global citizens who make it their home. Pondicherry (now Puduchery) Mother from France, similarly is like a guru to many Tamils. I see Mother’s picture in many friends’ puja.

India is a spiritual enigma. I do not even attempt to explain these things to a non Hindu. Firstly you will be ridiculed. Secondly, they are followers of self-professed prophets who claimed to be sons of gods. Whereas we are from the land of Shiva who never had biological father or mother, who never had to be born to die… Is Shiva an alien. Are we His creations the way we humans today may mutate species in science labs. I will explain this. A Hindu child grows up hearing about ‘Yuga.’ ‘You cannot understand Yuga’ my granny used to say, ‘a Yuga is like millions of years for you but only one minute or one hour for Shiva.’

To an ant or a snail or a centipede or grasshopper, a walking human being is a living God no doubt. The ‘ant and the boot’ story. How many lifetimes of the ant is our single day. Shiva is the walking giant. We are the ant, millipede, grasshopper, snail. To realize Him is impossible for us for the way it is for the ant to picturize the human being. I try to realize Shiva. I can’t. They say Yoga is a tool that can elevate you to a higher level of conscience. So this is where Yoga and meditation come in. They help in focusing, nothing more. Neither am I good at Yoga nor is my intelligence that evolving. I can’t go beyond a level. In fact I cannot climb over my layman level. I don’t even try because I know my limits. My limitations are not only physical but also intellectual.

To those few who can raise themselves without the help of opium to a higher level of consciousness, I bow my head in respect and awe.

None of us can become a Gautam Buddha or Satya Sai Baba or Ramana Maharishi or Swami Vivekanand or even Osho. Living in their lifetimes is enough for me. Mahans are born every century.

I have not had a darshan of Puttabharthi Sai Baba when His phyical body was here. But I believe in His noble soul. I can understand what message Sadhguru is trying to convey. I am grateful I have a chance to listen to Him. No I am not a fan of Him and He is not my guru yet.

But Sadhguru helps me a lot in decoding Shiva. I am obsessed with Shiva and Shakthi. I just can sense that none of Hindu history is fanciful imagination or work of fiction.  In some other plane of time, I believe like any other Hindu, we have had this past. A lie cannot be carried on for 15,000 years to near perfection, only through word of mouth except for last 50-60 years.

Hindus say, in death we blend with the ‘jyothi’ – we become the collective consciousness, we add to the collective conscience- provided we are freed or liberated from the cycle of birth and rebirth (Nirvana). Our Karma decides that. (One step further: we may get to choose our rebirth to correct our previous Karma. Like a project assigned.) A Hindu heaven is this liberation or higher intelligence or conscience. Our prayers always ask, seek this supreme knowledge. There is no way you can compare Hindu Dharma with Christianity or Islam for this reason. The Abrahamics just lost it before they even began. period. Please leave us alone and don’t try to convert Hindus. Hindus are on right path even if most remain unaware.

SHIVA IN CERN, SWITZERLAND This is a mere ‘copy and paste’ job: Shiva and the God Particle.

உலகின் மிகப்பெரிய அணு ஆராய்ச்சி நிறுவனமான CERN நிறுவனத்தின் முன்பு 6 அடி உயரமுள்ள நடராஜர் சிலை வைக்கப்பட்ட தினம் இன்று (2004)

CERN – ஸ்விட்சர்லாந்த் நாட்டில் அமைந்துள்ளது உலகின் மிகப்பெரிய இயற்பியல் ஆராய்ச்சி நிறுவனம். 27கிமீ பரப்பளவில் 100 அடி ஆழத்தில் அமைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது . அணுத்துகள்களை ஒன்றையொன்று மோதவிட்டு ஆராய்ச்சி நடத்தப்படுகிறது .கடவுள் துகள்களை (GODS PARTICLES) பற்றின ஆராய்ச்சியும் நடத்தப்பட்டு வருகிறது. அதுமட்டும் இன்றி பல்வேறுவிதமான இயற்பியல் சம்பந்தப்பட்ட ஆய்வுகளும் இங்கே நடைபெறுகின்றன

கிறித்தவர்கள் அதிகம் வாழும் ஒரு நாட்டில் ஏன் இந்து மத கடவுளின் சிலை வைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது என்று தெரியுமா? அதற்கான காரணத்தையும் அவர்களே கூறி உள்ளார்கள்.

“காலத்தால் பதில் சொல்ல முடியாத பல கேள்விகளுக்கான பதில் இந்த சிலையில் அமைந்துள்ளது என்று ” குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளார்கள்

அதாவது அண்டத்தில் உள்ளதே பிண்டத்திலும் உள்ளது என்பதை சொல்லாமல் சொல்கிறார் நடராஜர் .

அவருடைய வலது கையிலிருந்து இடதுகால் வரை உள்ள அமைப்பு Milky way என்று அழைக்கப்பட கூடிய பால்வழி மண்டலத்தை குறிக்கிறது . நடராஜரின் இதயம் அமைந்துள்ள இடத்தில் சூரிய குடும்பமான சோலார் சிஸ்டம் அமைந்துள்ளது .அவரின் இடுப்பை சுற்றி நிற்காமல் ஓடிகொண்டிருக்கும் பாம்பு நேரத்தை குறிக்கிறது. அதுமட்டும் இல்லாமல் அவரை சுற்றியுள்ள நெருப்பு வட்டம் பிரபஞ்சத்தை குறிக்கிறது

அருவமாகவும், உருவமாகவும் ஆகாயமாகவும் காட்சி தர கூடிய ஒரே கடவுள் நடராஜர் தான். சிதம்பரம் நடராஜர் ஆடிக்கொண்டிருக்கும் ஆனந்த தாண்டவம் என்ற கோலம் “cosmic dance” என்று பல வெளிநாட்டு அறிஞர்களால் அழைக்கபடுகின்றது.

அணுவின் அசைவும் நடராஜரின் நடனமும் ஒன்றாக கருதபடுகிறது.

அதனாலேயே “அவனின்றி ஓர் அணுவும் அசையாது” என்று திருமூலர் கூறியுள்ளார்.

1972-ஆம் ஆண்டு, ப்ரிட்ஜாப் காப்ரா என்கிற பிரபல அமெரிக்க அணு விஞ்ஞானி ‘The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu view of matter in the light of Modern Physics’ (சிவனின் நடனம் : நவீன பௌதிகத்தின் பார்வையில் வஸ்துக்களை பற்றிய ஹிந்துக்களின் நோக்கு) என்கிற தலைப்பில் Main currents in Modern Thought என்ற விஞ்ஞான சம்பந்தப்பட்ட பத்திரிகையில், சிவனின் நடனத்துக்கும், உப அணுக்களின் நடனத்துக்கும் உள்ள இணக்கத்தைப் பற்றி முதலில் விவரமாக எழுதினார்.

1975-ஆம் ஆண்டு இந்தக் கட்டுரையை விரிவுபடுத்தி ’The Tao of Physics’ என்ற தலைப்பில் ஒரு புத்தகமாகவும் அவர் எழுதி அது உலகிலேயே அதிகம் விற்ற புத்தங்களில் ஒன்றாக பிரபலமாகியது.

அதில்,. ”எப்படி இந்தியச் சித்தர்கள் படைப்பைப் பிரிக்க முடியாத, எப்போதுமே செயல்பட்டுக் கொண்டிருக்கும் ஒரு நடப்பாகப் பார்த்தார்களோ, அப்படியே தான் நவீன பௌதிக விஞ்ஞானமும் பிரபஞ்சத்தைக் காண்கிறது”

”பிறப்பும், இறப்பும் நிற்பதே இல்லை.

அதுபோல், பிரபஞ்சம் என்கிற தத்துவத்தின் அடிப்படையில் அணுக்களின் நடனம், அணுக்களின் பிறப்பினாலும் இறப்பினாலும் நிற்காமல் தொடர்கிறது.

கோடானுகோடி அணுக்கள் வினாடிக்கு வினாடி உருவாகி, மறைவதுதான் பிரபஞ்சத்தின் நடனம் (cosmic dance). அதுவே தான் நடராஜரின் நடனம்” என்கிறார் காப்ரா.

சிதம்பர நடராஜர் கோவிலுக்கு மேலே பறக்கும் செயற்கை கோள்கள் செயலிலந்துவிடுமாம் காரணம் புவியீர்ப்பு மையத்தின் செண்டர் பாயிண்டில் சிதம்பரம் நடராஜர் கோவில் அமைந்துள்ளதாம். அதுமட்டும் அல்லாமல் இந்தியாவில் உள்ள ஐந்து சிவஸ்தலங்களும் ஒரே நேர்கோட்டில் அமைந்துள்ளதாம் எந்தவிதமான அறிவியல் ஆய்வுகளுமற்ற காலகட்டத்தில் எப்படி இது சாத்தியமானது என்பது இன்று வரை புரியாத புதிராக உள்ளது

ஒட்மொத்த அண்டத்தின் குறியீடாக நடராஜர் அமைந்துள்ளார் என்பதை குறிப்பிடவே சுவிட்சர்லாந்தின் ஐரோப்பிய ஆராய்ச்சி கூடத்தில் நடராஜர் சிலை வைக்கப்பட்டுள்ளது.

”பரமகுருவாய், அணுவில் அசைவாய்” என்று அருணகிரிநாதர் பாடிய திருப்புகழை நினைத்துப் பாருங்கள்.

தென்னாடுடைய சிவனே போற்றி..!

எந்நாட்டவர்க்கும் இறைவா போற்றி..!

Posted in Food For Soul

The Hindu Custom Of Feeding The Crow First

I grew up in a family where we fed the crows early in the morning the first morsel of food, after offering it to Mother Goddess Annapurna (Anna in Sanskrit means food), the one in charge of food grains, fertility and abundance department, with a small Sanskrit shloka (prayer). In deed, She is an avatar/another form of Mother Goddess Shakthi or Parvathi. As She is our benevolent Mother who feeds us in our hunger, we offer Her food everyday. The vigraha (idol) is placed in a copper or silver bowl of raw rice in our Puja (altar) at home.

There is no Hindu festival or worship without offering food to God first. It could be kheer or sweetened rice or fruits or whatever or it could even be meat as in some tribal and rural communities. Whatever, we each offer our Gods, what we can afford. This is whether we have an Annapurna deity installed in our Puja or not. Some may not have the Annapurna.

After the Aarthi is performed, we assume that the Gods and Goddesses have consumed our offering. Later we offer a portion of the offering to the crows who we consider our ‘pitrus’ (deceased parents and grandparents and in-laws in the family). It is only after such a ritual is complete, we can touch our food to eat.

Even today through length and breadth of India, this custom is strictly observed – atleast on auspicious days if not possible on working days. Observing the custom is a must especially during such days as Amavasya (new moon) etc., and during religious ceremonies. in south India, even today this is practised religiously literally.

Even so, the Christians and Muslims in India (even if they are converts) have the habit of mocking this tradition that has been in our practice for thousands of years observed from the times of our ancestors.

My friend quoted the Sringeri Mutt seer and gave me this explanation on the Hindu custom of offering food to our Gods, often ridiculed by muslims and christians who ask us whether any God can eat our food really. (Never mind their gods call for bloody sacrifice by way of brutal killing of hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep and turkeys to feed the gluttons that they are).

The seer answered the question to a muslim man who was asking him the rationale behind the offering of food to Hindu Gods.

The seer said, ‘when you read a book, you imbibe its substance. But do the letters in the book disappear and get into your system? Does the subject in the book by way of printed matter vanish once you have it by heart? Yet you know, the essence of the book is in you now. But the book still stays printed and has not gone blank. You have taken matter from the book, the book has given you something, yet the book has not become empty or blank.

Similarly, when we Hindus offer food to our Gods, the food is eaten by the Gods with love and blessings, but the food still remains for us bhakths (devotees) to later consume. Like the substance of the book you read that is ingested by you, our Lord and His Missus savour and relish our food. Yet the food remains in the banana leaf (normally we offer food for Gods in banana leaf at least in the south. we may also offer food to Gods in silverware or goldware (if you can afford even if the God may not ask for it!)) physically for the whole world to see. But in his/her heart a Hindu knows, believes and acknowledges with gratitude that the Gods have accepted the offering.

The muslim man was shaken by the explanation, I believe.

Every Hindu custom and belief is strongly rooted in logic and reasoning and immense faith. Do not let others get away with their ignorance and rude comments. Hinduism does not promote or encourage terrorism or nepotism or subjugation of women to inferior position like others do. Only Sanathana Dharma lists the order of priority thus: Matha, Pitha, Guru and Deivam (mother, father, teacher and god). Which faith will consign itself to lowest level of priority as ours does. Which is why I am a Hindu. No other fake or imported belief system in the world can come out with such a profound truth and insight as this.

Be proudly a Hindu!

Posted in Food For Soul

Decoding Dharma – 1: Jeev Samadhis – A Brief Glance

I am seeing more videos on Sadhguru’s personal life which I don’t like. I don’t want to know of his background.

For years, I too misunderstood this man. When he was writing this column, ‘athanaikkum aasai padu’ (desire for everything), i was in no mood to read it in the Tamil weekly. Besides, i was young and too much was happening in my life too, though not always pleasant. But many of his followers found him around that time. He wrote in the name of Jaggi Vasudev. Before even i read him, i had judged him as ‘one of those gurus.’ Its a pity that i similarly missed the Tamil author Balakumaran. With a stubbornness i refused to read both that i now regret. May be had i read them a lot earlier, I would be a different being now.

Even after Sadhguru became popular, I steadfastly refused to hear him out. I finally found the ‘Sounds of Isha’ to my liking. I must say the Maha Shivrathri festival in Coimbatore drew me to his brand of spirituality. Also the last straw was my recent visit to Isha where I saw for myself the immensity of his visions that broke my resolve of not accepting anyone for a guru. I am now a changed one in many ways.

I have questioned in very old blog posts of mine years back, why those like Sadhguru are not ready to attain Jeev Samadhi. I have also mentioned of rumours about his wife’s passing. Now I understand better and I need no more explanation. No need I feel, for Sadhguru to explain himself to people something that will never be understood by them. For one thing, like me in past, they may cling to this adamant attitude. Secondly, people tend to  like dwelling in such petty world where demonizing others can give them a cheap thrill. Thirdly, that is their level of spiritual perception. I trust. Believers trust. Trust is the basis for laying a strong foundation for anything worthwhile. Prana Pradhishta – i heard about it. It is inconceivable for most and undoable, but then I believe, to those with highest levels of spiritual maturing, yes, this is possible. These dimensions of spirituality cannot even be imaginable for most of the human race.

Only a Hindu/Buddhist/Jain can even perceive what this is. You have to live this culture, you have to live in this Punya Bhoomi to grasp such a concept. Jains in India do not even eat root vegetables like potato for instance because roots are life carriers. Extreme spirituality makes some Hindu sadhus live as nude ‘aghoris’ feeding on only the dead in the cremation grounds that are wasted already – not those that can flourish. Hindu sadhus’ penance without eating food for years, drinking water for years, standing on head for years  (this tribe has almost dried up today) is unthinkable, unimaginable to most others especially the Abrahamics. These are people who have fought crusades and jehads to lay siege over nations and communities and convert them. We can have nothing in common with them. Hindu Gods are not for sale, not products for marketing. The way we know ‘eastern philosophy’ – the Abrahamics have no notion about and can never discover within their narrow limited ambit. Their mission is to propagate, improve their statistics, count more heads for the flock, nothing more. Acquisition is to Abrahamics what renunciation is to Sanathana Dharmis (Hindus). Jesus reportedly asked his followers to go in pairs of twos to spread the gospel and increase their tribe … can you imagine this with Hindu Gods. Thanks a million I am a Hindu and in all my rebirths I pray to be reborn a Hindu.

Coming from Tamil Nadu where most ancient Hindu temples were consecrated over ‘Siddha peetams’ I can somewhat understand even if at grass roots level, the concept of samadhis or attaining Moksha or Liberation. Now this is a term never to be used by Abrahamics. Things are only black and white for them: heaven or hell. The soul attaining liberation, freeing itself from birth cycle, elevating itself to higher spheres is a concept beyond their organized religious understanding. Temples in south India were always consecrated over Jeeva Siddha samadhis. Even the one in my street is a Siddha peetam. The presiding deity Shiva sits as Shiva Lingam over the Siddha peetam. We worship the Siddha who gave up His life for holding Shiva over Him. Such is the Sanathana Dharma. We give up life – shed life voluntarily. We are the last to take others lives. Which is why most of us are vegetarian. No Hindu butchers in entire India mostly. No Hindu-run butcheries. Maximum fish seller, that is it .

Similarly Jains in India until today leave their material attachments on inner calling anytime and renounce the worldly life to attain Nirvana. A family of four, millionaires, father, mother, two teenage children did it in south India only months back. Jains fast for days endless even now and leave their physical bodies. Fasting unto death. Normal, average people, not necessarily monks. Once their family duties are over, they choose to leave earth and attain Nirvana voluntarily shedding their physicality. However, they may not always get to choose their moment as they reach this level without much deliberation or mental preparedness unlike Sadhus who foresee it all and plan for months or even years beforehand. Swami Vivekanand did it reportedly.  He decided to willfully shed his physicality at a preordained time that he hinted to his disciples. Just like that. However this is not Jeev Samadhi. From what I understand, it is just that the physical body that is a receptacle becomes too confining for their exploding levels of spirituality that these ‘mahapurush’ decide to shed it to go further up the spiritual realms or the nether world.

Shankara, Raghavendra, Aurobindo and many other saints in India attained Jeev Samadhis. In some countries this may be called suicide. Not in India. This is the way we have lived for millennia. Thanks Sadhguru for highlighting what we have been forgetting for centuries.

A friend was similarly telling me once how her great grand mother chose to die on a particular date and time, having fulfilled her familial duties. The old mother was too very spiritual and had become detached for years. She shed her body at a time of her choosing with family’s consent in family’s presence. Not suicide. Just like that, at the pre-disclosed time her soul left her body. Yes, our people have done that. Our ancestors. The most enlightened among them. If we cannot do it today, it is because we are materialistic. We have bonds that we do not want to break.

‘Koodu vittu koodu paaidhal’ – this is called in Tamil. Old Tamil/Hindi pictures had such scenes pictured. This is what the picture ‘Avatar’ is all about – Avatar of course is a Sanskrit word. The story is a beautiful make-over of the very ancient Hindu concept of reincarnation. Your soul can leave your body at your will – ancient Hindus did that reportedly (not all) but this, as i’ve reiterated, necessitates highest level of spirituality. This is where meditation helps in. And this is where precisely Yoga fits in. Yoga is just a tool to work with – like basic a,b,c for mind/body control. From here, you start your schooling. You don’t need to hallucinate popping up hashish to reach these levels of detachment or spiritual elevation. This is extreme mind control. Those who have have graduated upto transcendental meditation will agree. What we have to master is something larger than ‘pulan adakkam’ as we call it in Tamil. Control over our five senses as first step. Sadly, very few humans now are capable of these feat.

Spiritually every Hindu is inclined to go that way although not all of us have it in us to seek truth, or go in pursuit of truth the way our forefathers did. Nothing to us is coincidence. I have had numerous occasions in the past where I have had reasons to believe that there were some ‘signs.’ Signs that could be spotted and recognized. Divine interventions. It is useless trying to explain such profound heartfelt things to an Abrahamic or Atheist. I don’t even attempt. It is enough if we know and believe deep down our heart. We know this is no hallucination or brainwashing or fanciful imagination.

However, I am not yet ready to accept anyone as my guru. But Sadhguru helps a lot. Happy with this degree of spirituality of mine. I am a samsari. I want to pet my grandchildren someday. I want to shop and dress up and indulge in normal pleasures of life. Not ready for anything more. At the same time, I feel a reckoning in me like i’ve never felt in my life before. It is like, for the first time ever I sense, I am ready to go if my time has to arrive even this very moment. My son can take care of himself. Only one bandhan can stop me: that of my husband. He is someone who cannot live without me. Other than that, i have no other strappings to bind me to life even though to others i may appear very average – the typical shopping-chatting-gossiping housewife who does not more. That’s why i can understand about Sadhguru’s wife. I am at the base or entry level of the spiritual pyramid. If i feel that i am okay to leave given my modest quotient of spirituality, i can imagine what others in the highest levels of enlightenment may feel like. Of course God willing, I want to be there to pet my grandchildren someday – alongwith  my husband. It is a wish. It is not in my hands – nothing is.

I continue my rituals of Puja at home and visit temples as much as I can – i am glad in Isha they do not downplay the regular rituals like some gurus do for instance. I am comfortable with whatever rituals we follow in our family. I am adapted to them since my childhood.

In Tamil they say, ‘kaacha maram thaan kalladi padum.’ The tree that springs fruits will have to face the stones. If there is no fruit in a tree, who is going to stone it.

Yes, of course, I am passionate about elephants. That still aches my heart a bit. But I am sure the elephants will find their way around. From what I heard, it is the christian group Karunya institutions who have taken over forest lands illegally. I have friends based in Coimbatore who swear of it and they have no reason to lie. Besides, it is public knowledge.

We are not building Hindu temples or championing for Hindu dharma in America or Africa or Australia or Europe. We want Hindu dharma to flourish and not die in our own dharmic Hindu country where it has its roots. The propagation of Abrahamic fold in India MUST STOP. If there are Hindu temples today around the world, they were not raised on conversion background. Many westerners and even far easterners embrace Sanathana Dharma (Hinduism) on discovering the true meaning and depth of our philosophies.

I would like to make more visits to Isha. Meanwhile, happy to listen to Sadhgur in You Tube. His service brings tears to my eyes. I am very emotional. That is the greatest impediment for me for moving to my next level of spirituality. I am still materialistic and not able to break that jinx. I won’t force anything down my throat but i shall try (as i do now without success). Let me see.

Meanwhile, I am glad India still produces such great visionaries and mystics. Their service to not only Hindus but entire humanity is immeasurable. I am glad i finally found my way. Better late than never.