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Archive for the ‘Folk tale’ Category

A temple was situated in a corner of the village. There was a huge neem tree outside the temple in which there lived a ghost. The ghost was living in the tree with the hope that it would be absolved off its sins if it stayed close to God.
There lived a devotee in the village who came to the temple everyday. He sang in a loud voice after which he would eat the prasadam (offering made to the Lord that day) and leave. He had the feeling that he was an exceptionally good singer. But other devotees and people of the village thought otherwise and complained about his loud singing.
One day after finishing his food at the temple he was walking home. The ghost called him from atop the tree. “Stop! it said. The man stopped and looked around but could see no one. “Who is it?” he asked.
“I am a ghost living in this tree,” came the reply. The man was scared out of his wits and was about to run, when the ghost said “I am the one who is very scared of you. Can you do me a favor?”
The man looked confused.
The ghost went on. “I had sufficient knowledge of music before I died. But now after listening to your music I feel that I would die again. Please stop singing from today.”
The man said “What will I do for my food then?”
“Don’t worry. I will give you an idea. I will soon enter the body of the princess of this kingdom. The king, her father will call all magicians and tantrics to heal her. But I will not leave her body until you arrive there. You then tell the king that you can drive the ghost from the princess’ body and I will leave,” said the ghost.
“The king will then reward you for your services and you will be a rich man,” the ghost added.
The man agreed and the ghost went to the palace and took his place inside the princess’ body. Everything happened the way the ghost had predicted. The village was free from the loud noise it was used to in the mornings.
However, one day the neem tree had a visitor. It was God himself. He called out to the ghost and thanked him for driving the man away from the temple as his singing was bothering Him so much. Then god told the ghost that he will be absolved off his sins for doing Him a service by driving away the singer.
This is a folk tale which I read recently. The tale stated that many devotees want to talk to God but didn’t know in which language. It went on to add that the only language God would understand was by observing silence. 🙂

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These are beautiful blooms from my wild garden back home. 

I am back after ten-day nostalgic and fulfilling trip to my hometown. Nostalgic because my folks have decided to sell our house and move to another place. Fulfilling because I visited a temple in a nearby town and came back with a story for my blog. This temple known as Masaniamman Temple in the outskirts of Pollachi has a unique feature. The Goddess Shakti in this temple is not standing upright like other goddesses in temples. She lies supine, hands stretched upwards, eyes staring towards the heavens. The locals staunchly believe in the powers of this goddess and one day is not enough to listen to all of them.

A friend of mine who is a frequent visitor to this temple told me several stories related to this temple and I have since been overawed by the temple and its lush green surroundings. Nestled among endless rows of coconut palms and areca nut trees, the temple, locals say is frequented by women pilgrims who have gynaecological problems.  Another unique feature of this temple is that the deity helps beget lost property and relieving one from voodoo related problems. One of the problems which my friend related to me was about a bag of money which her relative had locked in his room. The next morning when they went into the room, they could not find the bag. So they asked a soothsayer, who in turn told them it was done by a relative and for immediate results they should visit this temple and grind red chillies in the sanctum of the goddess. They rushed to the temple to do the bidding of the soothsayer. In the next day or two the relative who had taken the money couldn’t move his right leg and soon his right hand too was paralayzed and it was then that he confessed to taking the bag of money.

I could never believe this story, but I witnessed the huge mortar where people were lining up to grind their chillies.

Here is the picture of the Goddess. Photographs were not allowed, so picture is taken from a photograph I got at the temple.

Now read on about the deity in this temple.

Once the sage Vishwamitra, went to a hilly terrain known as Kadaganachi malai and meditated upon lord Shiva. There was a demoness named Tataka in the forests of Kadaganachi malai and Vishwamitra was sure that she would try to disturb his penance. Tataka had the evil powers possessed by Ravana and she used it for all her evil deeds. So Vishwamitra decided to take the help of Rama and Lakshmana to fight the demoness.

Rama and Lakshmana agreed to protect the sage and came to live in the forests till his penance was over. Both of them wanted the blessings of Goddess Shakti to defeat the demoness. Shakti too tells them how to fight the demoness. The brothers then make an idol of the Goddess Shakti in clay and propitiated her. Shakti tells them that after defeating Tataka, they should also destroy the clay idol they made of Shakti. However, Rama forgets to destroy the idol. Later, when he remembered, He said that the statue would be his representative and guard the village. It is believed that this Goddess is Masaniamman and that she also has the power to punish evil doers.

According to another legend, there was a couple (names unknown) in the beautiful village of Anaimalai. Once when the wife was pregnant, she refused to go to her mother’s house as was the practice in those days and didn’t want to leave her husband. One day when she felt that she would deliver the child, the couple decided to go to the next village where a popular midwife lived, so that they could have her assistance with the delivery. The path to the next village was through a dense jungle and it was getting dark. The lady told her husband to go and find the midwife as she couldn’t walk anymore. Reluctantly, he left and reached the midwife’s door.

On seeing him the midwife was shocked and told him she had had a bad dream about a pregnant lady that morning and immediately left with him to the spot where he had left his wife. There they had the shock of their lives. The lady had delivered a baby and both mother and baby had been murdered in a gruesome manner. The husband in his grief asked the midwife in what way was her dream related to this murder of his wife.

The midwife then related her dream of the morning. When the husband left his wife, a big dark form stalks her. Seeing the form the lady screams in fright and tells it to go away. But the figure stalks her and she began running. While running she slips over some cow dung and falls down. The figure then stooped to hold her hand. At that moment she screams at him to leave her alone and he is struck by lightning by some force. The figure becomes blind and runs away.

Hearing this story from the midwife, the husband breaks down in tears. The midwife then reassured him that the mother and child were an incarnation of Shakti and that the incident was also God’s way to free the sins of Kamadenu, the divine cow.

The people of the village who had gathered to listen to this story were surprised. How can a cow dung be freed from sin. How can that be possible?

The midwife began her tale of the cow dung. When the devas and asuras were churning the ocean for nectar, Kamadenu, Kalpakavriksha and Iravat the white elephant, were among the things obtained. The devas took the above three. Jealous of the devas, the asuras decided to kidnap Kamadenu. Kamadenu prayed to Shiva and Parvati for protection. Parvati and Shiva gave Kamadenu protection and housed it in a garden.

Meanwhile, the Devas were searching for Kamadenu and went to Shiva and Parvati and asked them to help find the cow. Parvati told Kamadenu that the Devas had come looking for her. In a moment of fear, Kamadenu dropped some dung in front of Parvati and hung its head in shame. Smiling at the shamefaced cow, Parvati said that the incident was a precursor to her incarnation on earth and that the cow need not be worried. She also said that cow will be worshipped by all and that her dung would be considered a symbol of purity by mankind. Kamadenu was relieved of her fear and left happily. She also told the devas to look after Kamadenu and that was this garden, finished the midwife. That the lady had slipped on the cow dung was an indication that Shakti had incarnated in the form of the lady, she added. Since Shakti herself came into contact with the dung, Kamadnu was freed from sin. (This is the only explanation I could figure.:) 

(Not a very convincing explanation, but the book on the temple has put it this way. So one can draw their own conclusions)

That is the story of the village goddess Masaniamman.

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Who is greater?

During the Tretha Yug, when Rama was ruling over Ayodhya, there was a discussion about the nine grains known as ‘Navadaniyams’. The Navadaniyams fought with each other, had a big argument and came to Rama for judgment. Rama, didn’t want to take a decision on his own and hence asked sage Gouthama to find out which grain was the best. Whichever grain is strong is the best said Gouthama. Hearing this the grains started fighting amongst themselves again and left the assembly in a huff. Only the rice and ragi remained.

The grain of rice said that it was superior as humankind consumed it. “People also made rice and served it to the lord. For all auspicious occasions, rice is used,” he said.

Hearing this the grain of ragi responded. “You are so weak. When your grains mature, you bow down unable to bear your own weight. But I on the other hand even after maturing stand tall and straight. Even during a drought I do not change color. But if there are no rains you do not survive. People powder me and give me as health food to their children. Ragi is filled in pots and placed in the temple towers for use during drought. I am planted during any season and I multiply quickly.  Last but not the least I do not get spoilt.”

Hearing both their arguments, Sage Gouthama said that ragi was the best. But the grain of rice was adamant and refused to accept this partial judgment. Immediately Lord Rama ordered that the rice and ragi to be jailed for six months. They were put in pots and jailed.

After six months, both of them were brought to the assembly and the pots were opened. The pot which had the rice had accumulated a lot of fungus and worms had infested. But the Ragi pot was fresh as ever. Rama said that sage Gouthama’s judgment was right and this was also endorsed by sage Kapila.

It is said that after this incident Ragi came to be known as Raghavadaniyam, meaning Rama’s grain. And this was later known as Ragi.

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Once upon a time there was a king named Rayathondaiman. The country was under the rule of the Nawabs and Rayathondaiman was the king of a small area called Kanchamanadapuram, allotted to him by the Nawabs.

The king was fond of hunting. One day while returning from one such expedition, he met a small boy who was crying inconsolably.

He went up to the boy and asked him why he was crying. The boy said he had lost his mother and that his father had brought home a stepmother, who did not even give him food. “I have run away from home but I don’t know where to go,” he cried.

Feeling sorry for the boy, the king took him to his palace and gave him a job in the stables.

The boy was very happy to work in the stables where there were about 2000 horses. There was one horse in the stables, which couldn’t be tamed by anyone. The stable hands told the boy not to go near the horse. But the boy went near the horse and in a few days befriended it. The boy now wanted to ride the horse and one day at night when everyone was sleeping he rode the horse. Then he started riding the horse daily at night.

One day a stable hand came looking for the horse at night and found it missing. He then saw the boy riding the horse. He went and informed the king that the boy had tamed the horse.

The king was surprised that the boy had tamed the horse and was full of praise for him. He also gave him the job of training all the horses.

Years passed and the boy grew up into a handsome man. The king made him the general of his army. He also made him in-charge of collecting taxes from the people. The boy was good at whatever job he was given. Pleased with his services the king gave his only daughter in marriage to him.

A few years later, the general’s wife was pregnant. One day when the general was away collecting taxes in the neighboring town, there was heavy rain in Kanchamanadapuram. Due to the rains the dam in the next town burst and the whole town was flooded. Cattle drowned and many people died. The Nawab on hearing the news sent word to Thondaiman to repair the dam. The king with the help of his men repaired the dam. But the same night it broke again. This went on for some days.

The Nawab was very angry and came to inspect the dam. He told the king if the dam wasn’t repaired in seven days the king would be stamped to death by the Nawab’s elephant.

The king was in a quandary. His son-in-law wasn’t in town. His daughter was pregnant and he was in a fix.

That night he heard a voice from the heavens, which said “If a pregnant woman carrying her first child is sacrificed at the site of the dam, then the situation would correct itself.”

The next morning the king called his subjects and told him about the heavenly voice and asked them their opinion. The people were shocked and they also knew that the king’s daughter was pregnant with her first child. Many people who had a pregnant woman at home left the town fearing they may be asked to sacrifice her.

But the king’s daughter very calmly asked her father to arrange for her baby shower near the dam. Though the king agreed, he was worried. The baby shower went off well and when returning to the palace after the event, his daughter removed a small knife she had hidden on her person and killed herself. The king was grief stricken and cried. As prophesied the dam didn’t break after that and the whole town was talking about the woman’s sacrifice.

Finally, the general arrived. He was grief stricken. He said that the town people had sacrificed his wife to save their own skin. He rode on his horse and started beating whoever came his way. People ran helter skelter when they saw him on the horse.

That night when the general was tossing sleeplessly in bed, his wife appeared before him. “Don’t trouble the people like this. I took my own life for the well being of the people,” she said. “I will remain in this town and safe guard the people,” she added. The general promised his wife that he wouldn’t trouble the people any more and true to his word worked for the welfare of his people. The kingdom flourished. The people of the town built a temple to honor the general’s wife and to this day she is a standing divine presence in the town of Kanchamanadapuram and she is known as Uruppidi Amman. The temple is situated amidst dense forests, which and is half a kilometer away from the village. Another feature in this temple is that only women priests perform rituals and that too only on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Kanchamanadapuram is situated in Kadalur district, 3 kilometers from the Vadalur-Chennai highway.  

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The wise farmer

Once there was a farmer who took all the produce from his farm to the weekly shandy. One day after selling all the produce, he bundled all his earnings in a cloth bag and was returning home. A thief was watching the farmer all the while and wondered how he could steal the bag from him. He began following the farmer from a distance. The farmer was walking briskly hoping to reach his village by nightfall. But by the time he had covered half the distance, night fell. He saw a choultry and went there, where he was given a mat and a pillow. There were some others who were sleeping in the choultry. The farmer took his bedding to a corner of the choultry and lay down. In a few minutes the thief also arrived. The farmer noted that the thief had followed him eyeing his money and decided to be watchful.

The thief got his bedding and came to lie down next to the farmer.  Now the farmer was doubly sure that the thief would try and steal his money. When all of them were asleep the thief got up and looked everywhere near the farmer for the bundle of money. He couldn’t find it and he went around the room opening all the bundles in the room and looking inside each bundle. He couldn’t find the money anywhere and lay down disappointed.

At dawn, the farmer picked up his luggage and left. The thief woke up and found the money bag with the farmer. He was surprised and asked the farmer where he had kept his money bag. The farmer said, “I watched you following me from the shandy looking to steal my bag. So when you laid down next to me, I never slept. I was watching you when you went looking at other people’s bags.” 

“So where did you keep your bag?” asked the thief. 

“In a place where you would not look,” said the farmer.

“Where?”

“Under your pillow,” laughed the farmer and went on his way.

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Two youngsters regularly went hunting for animals in the nearby jungle. Once they hired a plane and went into the jungle. After a long wait both of them caught an ox each and pulled the carcass to the plane to get back home.

When the reached the plane the pilot said they could not take the oxen on board and the plane cannot handle too much weight. So the youngsters told the pilot “We had similar oxen the last time we came into the jungle and the other pilot allowed us to carry the carcass on board.” The pilot agreed to board them along with their oxen and they were on their way. A few minutes after take-off, the plane crashed. Coming out of the debris one of them asked the other “Where are we?” The other replied “Just a few meters away from the place where we fell last time.”

(This story was retold by a writer recently in an article on self-improvement.)

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The Worldly wise

Once there was a king, who thought that senior citizens were unfit to be in his kingdom. So he asked them to go out of his kingdom and find other places to live. The aged citizens were worried and helpless and most of them left the kingdom.

Once it so happened that the kingdom was threatened by floods. The king announced that he would give a big reward to the one who could present a solution to the problem. A lad from the nearby city came to meet the king and said he had a solution. The king liked the solution and he put it to practice. The people of the kingdom were saved due to the timely solution provided by the boy and the king rewarded him.

A few months later, a contagious disease began spreading in the kingdom. Again the lad came to the gates of the palace and asked to meet the king. The king heard the boy’s idea and it worked again.

Next day the king called the lad to his palace and asked him how at such a young age, he could think of solutions to big problems. The boy said “Oh king, you banished all the senior citizens who were more brilliant than me. I didn’t want to send my dad away, so I hid him in the attic of my house. The ideas I gave were my father’s and not mine.

Though the old people may be unable to do hard work, they have a lot of experience and worldly knowledge, from which we can learn.”

The king repented his act and invited all the aged people back into his kingdom.

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