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Archive for June, 2008

Pushparatheshwara

 

Hundreds of years ago there was a Chola king who invaded Nellore in Andhra Pradesh and captured it. On his way back he camped in a place called Cholavaram. Being an ardent devotee of Shiva, one day early in the morning he went looking for red lotuses to propitiate Him. But he coudn’t find it anywhere, so searching for lotuses he reaches a small village called Gnayiru. (Gnayiru, literally means Sun) The king found a pond full of red lotuses in this little village. Excited with his find, he spotted a lone lotus flower which stood taller than the rest of the flowers. He was struck by the beauty of the flower and ventured into the pond to pluck it.

But the closer he got to the flower the farther it went. Frustrated with his attempts to pluck it, he threw his sword at the flower. The sword found its mark on a Shiva linga which was being guarded by the lotus. Blood started spurting from the linga and the whole pond turned red. There was a blinding light and noise. Witnessing this spectacle, the king turned blind. His horse ran amuck.

The king repented his action and prayed to Lord Shiva, who in turn appeared in front of the King as Sun and returns his vision. He then tells the King to build a temple for Him. Because He appeared from a flower, the deity in this temple is known as Pushparatheshwara. The King built a beautiful temple on the banks of the pond. The King’s sword which made a mark on the linga is still visible to this day.     

Legend also has it that Surya who was estranged from his wife Chayadevi once came to propitiate the Lord in Tiruvannamalai. After his prayers when he was circumambulating the shrine he saw a light which fell on him by way of blessings and moving away. Intrigued, he followed the light till it reached the village of Gnayiru, where it fell on the linga and vanished. Surya was pleased at the happening and prayed to Lord Pushparatheshwara for having blessed him and is said to have returned to his wife.

Since he is said to have bathed in the pond here, it is known as Surya theertham and he has a shrine in the temple. People visit the temple in the hope that they will be cured of eye related disorders.

 

(Gnayiru is 30kms away from Chennai. It is 13 kms from Red Hills in Chennai. The road is bad according to people who have visited the place. But the temple is worth a visit.)  

 

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Karna’s generosity

On the 17th day of the Kurukshetra war the great warrior Karna was wounded. The Pandavas were happy and celebrated their victory. But Krishna seemed sad and forlorn and sat alone under a tree.

“why are you sitting alone Krishna,” asked Arjuna.

“The world has lot a great soul, Arjuna,” replied Krishna.

“Krishna, don’t think so highly of Karna,” said Arjuna.

“I have to prove the good nature of Karna to you,” said Krishna.

Disguising themselves as Brahmans, Krishna and Arjuna arrived in the battlefield and met the wounded Karna.

Krishna asked Karna if he would help his poor family. Karna said “If you go to my house, my wife will provide you all the help you want.”

The Brahman said “I asked for your help and you are making me run around here and there.”

Immediately, Karna removed his golden tooth and offered it to Krishna.

Krishna said “It is soaked with your saliva, I cannot touch it.”

After a minute of thinking, Karna took an arrow from his quiver and sent it to the heavens and the rains began. He washed his tooth in the rain water and offered it to Krishna again.

Krishna took his full form at this and Karna was overjoyed. “You have won Karna,” said Krishna and granted him a boon.

“Seeing you in person is a boon in itself, Krishna, what more can I ask,” said Karna.

Arjuna was overwhelmed at the piety of generosity of Karna. Krishna blessed Karna and both of them left.

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Once upon a time, when Sivaganga was ruled by the Pandyas, King Periyamarudu wanted to build a temple for Shiva or Kaleeswara. When the temple was nearing completion, the King wanted to build a Rath, (temple car) for the deity. So King Periamarudu commissioned a sculptor from Baganeri named Kuppamuthu to do the job.

The temple car also was ready. On the day of consecration of the temple, the king was to be led in the rath to the temple. People congregated on the scene and began pulling the car. But the rath refused to budge. King Periamarudu looked at Kuppamuthu.

“The remuneration for the making of the rath has not been given,” said Kuppamuthu in a humble voice.

“What do you want by way of remuneration?” asked the King.

“Would you give me anything I ask?” queried Kuppamuthu.

“Of course! I will,” said the King.

After a minute of silence, Kuppamuthu said “ For one whole day, I would like to wear your clothes and ride this rath as the King of this land.”

The people around were angry, but King Periamarudu did not get angry. He handed over all his royal possessions to the sculptor. Kuppamuthu in turn went and looked over the temple car and did some minor repairs. He then went and sat on the rath majestically. Soon King Periamarudu said “Hail! King Kuppamuthu Pandya” and his contingent and the people hailed their new king.

Passing the streets of the kingdom, the temple car rolled on. It did not stop at its destination, the temple. Immediately people moved logs near its wheels to stop the car. The car rolled a stop after this and the sculptor Kuppamuthu was thrown out the car and he came under its wheels. The temple car began rolling over the sculptor and he was killed.

King Periamarudu was stunned beyond belief. At this point the royal doctor arrived with a letter to the King. It was written by Kuppamuthu to the king. It said “Oh King. I am writing this letter in grief. Before beginning the work on the temple car, it is customary to sculpt a statue of Lord Ganesha. But when I was sculpting the figure, I could not get the trunk of the lord properly. I tried it thrice and it went wrong. According to the sculpting rule book, if such a thing happens the king of the country is said to die. So to avoid such a misfortune, I asked you to offer me the post of being a king for a day. So now that I have saved the king of my land I have got my remuneration and will die in peace.”

The King who was a brave man was moved to tears at this act of sacrifice by his subject.

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After the Kurukshetra war, Lord Krishna along with the Pandavas went to meet Dhritarashtra and get his blessings. Being the father of the Kauravas, Dhritarashtra never nursed a hatred for the fatherless Pandavas.

Seeing the Pandavas and Krishna, Dhritarashtra could not control his emotions. He burst out crying. “Why did such a thing have to happen to me O’ Krishna?” he asked. Both Lord Krishna and Yudishtra, consoled him and he was pacified soon. He however, had a question for the Lord. Having been a good king to my subjects, where did I fail?

Lord Krishna instead of replying him immediately said “can we talk about something else for a change?”

Oh King! We have come to you now for your guidance. We have some doubts regarding the justice system.

“What is your doubt Krishna?”

I will tell you a story, Krishna went on. Our question lies inside this story.

Once there was a king. He was a very good man and the law and justice system in his rule were impeccable. He lived according to the tenets of Hinduism and was a staunch vegetarian. However, the cook in his palace was a non-vegetarian and was an expert in cooking non-vegetarian meals. Especially, he was an expert in disguising his dishes in such a way that they would be unable to say if the dish was vegetarian or non-vegetarian. The cook suddenly had a desire to serve non-vegetarian food to the people in the palace and claim that it was vegetarian. He also had this urge to serve the king a non-vegetarian meal and make him eat it.

The king raised several animals and rare birds in his grounds. He had a beautiful swan too in his collection. Daily it laid eggs and looked after its younglings. One day the cook caught hold of one of the younglings and cooked it in such a way that it resembled a vegetarian dish. He then served it to the king who relished it and said it was excellent.

The cook was elated at his own creation and he daily tried a new dish and served it to the king. The king on his part praised the cook for his culinary skills and rewarded him.

Ending the story here Lord Krishna asked the king “Oh King! This is our doubt: Who is the culprit here? Is the cook who cheated on the king to be punished or is it the king?

Krishna, the cook is not the one to be punished. Whatever he did was to gain appreciation and reward from the king, which is a natural thing for minions. But the king should have been aware of the going-on around him. He should have observed what is going on and had an eye on his minions, failing which; he could lose his kingdom or his own life in the process. First, the king failed in his duty. Secondly, he got fooled by his servant. Third, he ate non-vegetarian food. Though these were not done knowingly, he is the one to be blamed. He has been responsible for the death of the bird in his own grounds. So the king is the one to be punished.

Hearing this, Lord Krishna smiled. “Oh King! This is not a story, it is a true incident. The king mentioned in the story was you. In your earlier births you had done several good deeds for which you were rewarded with a good kingdom and a good family. But due to some failure of yours in this birth you were made to suffer by losing your sons. Since you were also a party to your sons’ faults, you are suffering now.”

Dhritarashtra was dumbfounded.

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