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Parasurama’s revenge

Once there was king by name Kritaveerya. He and his wife Sugantha were blessed with a boy. Unfortunately the child did not have both legs. The king was saddened by this. However, his wife consoled him by saying that the child had the blessings of his ancestors and that it would help their son immensely.
Kritaveerya named his son Kartaveeryarjuna and he grew up to be a pious boy. Soon he went to the forests to meditate on Lord Dattatreya. Pleased with his devotion the lord appeared before him and granted him thousand hands and blessed him with a good life.
One day Kartaveeryarjuna went to bathe in the river Narmada along with his wives and retinue. All of a sudden he turned to his women and said “Can you see the beautiful Narmada flowing along. However she cannot flow anywhere beyond by control.” So saying he opened his thousand arms and stopped the Narmada from flowing beyond him.
Meanwhile, in another bank of the Narmada, Ravana was propitiating Shiva oblivious to his surroundings. Suddenly Kartaveeryarjuna dropped his thousand arms and the water began flowing faster and flooding the river banks. Ravana’s prayers were disturbed and he was livid. He wondered how the river could suddenly flood the area and asked his minions to find out. They said that Kartaveeryarjuna was behind this.
Ravana went to were the king was bathing and ordered him to leave the place. Angry with Ravana, the king started a duel. He fought with Ravana and hit him with his mace on his chest. Ravana fainted. The king promptly tied him up and put him in jail.
Several months passed and one day Pulastya the hermit met the King. He said Ravana was his grandson and that he wanted the king to release Ravana. Kartaveeryarjuna said that he did not know that Ravana was the hermit’s grandson. He also added that since Ravana had bravely fought with him, he had spared his life and put him in jail. So saying he released his captive and sent him with his grandfather.
Pulastya said that Ravana deserved this treatment as he had overstepped his boundaries. He also blessed him with the title Ravanajit.
Years passed and Kartaveeryarjuna’s bravery spread far and wide. Once on an expedition, he saw that the hermit Jamadagni had a divine cow. He abducted the cow. Angered by this the hermit’s son Parasurama killed Kartaveeryarjuna. In revenge, the king’s sons killed the hermit Jamadagni. Legend says that Parasurama killed 21 kings from the Kshatriya community to avenge his father’s death.

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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. 🙂

Akshaya Tritiya

This post is not about buying gold. 🙂 When the whole country talks about buying gold on this day each year, I chanced upon this story which says Akshya Tritiya is a day when one should do Annadanam (donate food !)
Anyway this story made a very interesting read and the kids lapped it up :).

Once in the town of Sathyapuri there lived a man by name Vishwanath. He looked after the daily affairs of the local Shiva temple. When he was born astrologers in the town told his parents that when the boy grew up, he would marry and have a child after which he would become a hermit.
Vishwanath grew up to be a pious young man. He married and had a son. He began feeding the poor along with his wife and son Gunaseelan. One day he had a dream that Shiva was beckoning him and took sanyas the next morning. He told his wife and son that he was going to Kashi and left them. His wife however, continued with the poor feeding started by her husband. One day, Gunaseelan asked his mother “You are feeding people daily won’t we become poor one day?”
She said, “I don’t know about that, but your father believed that feeding other people is like serving god.”
Gunaseelan was not satisfied with her reply, he sought permission from his mother to learn more about feeding the needy and went to meditate in the jungle. On the way he saw an old man who said he was hungry, so he gave him the food he had on hand and left. Towards evening he met a hunter, who advised him not to be alone in the jungle at night and took him to his house. The hunter had made a hut on top of a large tree and lived there with his wife.
The hunter’s wife did not like the boy and she refused to give food to Gunaseelan. She however, gave her husband food, which the hunter shared with Gunaseelan. After the meal, the hunter made the boy sleep between him and his wife, for which his wife didn’t agree. So he lay down between them and after they had slept he moved the boy to the center and he slept on the edge.
In the middle of the night, the hunter’s wife woke up and thinking that the boy was sleeping on the edge pushed him from the tree. The hunter fell down and he was eaten by the wild animals. Waking up in the morning, the wife saw the remains of her husband and realized her mistake and she took her own life.
Saddened, the boy continued on his journey. On the way he passed a hut where an old man was sitting. “Where are you going?” he asked.
The boy told him about the penance he was about to undertake.
The old man said, “When you meet God, please ask him why I am not feeling hungry at all.” The boy agreed and left.
Next, he met a cobra. The Cobra wanted the boy to find out why it was unable to see. He agreed to ask God and left.
After that when he was relaxing under a mango tree, the tree told him to find out why its fruits where always infested with worms and insects that it was never fit for consumption. He agreed to ask God again and left.
Sitting on a hill top, the boy began his penance. One day, pleased with his penance, a fairy appeared before him and told him to ask for a boon.
Gunaseelan said “Can you please tell me the benefits of feeding the needy?”
The fairy said ” In the next ten months the king of your country will be blessed with a son. Before the child’s body is laid on the floor, he should be laid on a golden plate. You ask the child your question and he will answer your questions.”
Then he asked the questions which were put to him by the people he passed by and the fairy answered him. She was pleased that Gunaseelan never wanted anything for himself. She blessed him and vanished.
On the return home, he passed the mango tree to which he said “In your previous birth you were a miser and you buried all your gold under the tree. That is why your fruits are infested with worms.” The tree immediately parted with its treasure and told Gunaseelan to take it.
He met the Cobra and said that it should part with the Nagarathna gem on its head to someone and then his eyesight would be restored. Immediately the Cobra gave the gem to the boy.
Next he met the old man and told him that in his previous birth as a teacher he refused to part with skills to students, which was the reason for his not being hungry. Immediately, the old man took the boy as his disciple and imparted all the knowledge he had.
Gunaseelan returned with his gold and gems and gave them to his mother.
Meanwhile, at the palace, preparations were on to celebrate the arrival of the royal heir. Gunaseelan met the king and told him what the fairy said. The king agreed to hold the baby in a golden plate and allowed Gunaseelan to ask the question.
When the baby was shown to him on a golden plate he asked the baby “Please tell me the benefits of feeding the needy.”
The baby immediately recalled its previous birth. “I am the hunter who fed you and that is why I am born a prince in this birth. My wife who refused to feed you has been reborn as a pig.” Hearing this Gunaseelan made up his mind to feed the needy during his lifetime.

It is a known fact that Lord Vishnu traveled on the back of his favorite vehicle Garuda, the eagle. Garuda always carries a snake in his talons. This story is about how and why Garuda began carrying this snake wherever he went.
Once upon a time there was a man by name Madali who was the charioteer for Indra. He had a daughter by name Gunakesi who was of marriageable age. He wished to get his daughter married to Sumukha, a prince from the netherworld. He went and met Sumukha’s parents and asked for their consent. But Sumukha’s parents said that they weren’t lucky to take her as their daughter-in-law, as Garuda had pledged to kill Sumukha and his father.
Hearing this Madali told them not to worry and that Indra would help them in this regard. Madali took them to Indra and told them what happened. Indra assured them that he would talk to Garuda. Indra also conducted the wedding of Sumukha and Gunakesi.
Meanwhile, Garuda heard about the wedding and was angered. He immediately went to kill Sumukha. Sumukha scared beyond his wits sought refuge with Adhisesha . Garuda arrived there and told Adhisesha not to give refuge to Sumukha. Adhisesha told Garuda not to harm Sumukha as it didn’t befit his status to do such a heinous crime.
Livid with rage Garuda said that he was vehicle of Vishnu and that he was greater of the two. Adhisesha told him that they should go to Vishnu and ask him to decide who was greater.
Both of them took Sumukha to Vishnu and related what happened. Vishnu said that he would test the valor of both Adhisesha and Garuda and then decide. Garuda was the first to take the test. Vishnu said “If you are able to carry my right arm effortlessly you would be considered greater of the two.”
Garuda thought “If I am able to carry Vishnu’s weight on my back all the time, why not just an arm.” So thinking he got ready.
Vishnu placed his right arm on Garuda’s shoulder. Unable to bear the weight of the Lord’s arm, Garuda fainted.
Soon he awakened to the Lord’s touch and fell at his feet begging for forgiveness. Vishnu told Garuda to make friends with the Nagas in the Netherworld. He also told him to carry sumukha in his talons at all times to prove that he is friends with the snakes of the netherworld.
Thus Sumukha’s life was saved.

Surdas

Once in the court of Akbar when all his ministers were present, the emperor called them to attention. “I would like to appoint a King’s representative to places like Mathura, Gokul and Brindavan. I would like to appoint Surdas for this post. What is your opinion on this?” he asked. All the ministers unanimously said that Surdas was the right person for the job.
Surdas was also happy that the King had chosen him and said that he would do his job in earnest. Soon he left for Mathura where he spent his time singing praises of Lord Krishna and the people and the places flourished under his guidance. However, he began donating money generously to the needy and his coffers began to dwindle.
Soon it was time for Janmashtami, the time to celebrate Krishna’s birthday. But there was no money for this and his cashier came and reminded him about that. He was in a dilemma as to how he would be able to celebrate the function on that day. He however told his cashier that Krishna will take care of this. At that time two men arrived with tax money to be paid to Emperor Akbar and told Surdas to send it across to the King. After they left, Surdas told the cashier to use the tax money and that they would explain the situation to the King at a later date.
The news reached Akbar that Surdas had used the tax money to celebrate Janmashtami and the King was livid. He sent his men to get the money from Surdas. Two of the king’s representatives were sent to Surdas. Seeing them Surdas told them to wait and went to his backyard. Here he took a big box and filled it with pebbles. Then he wrote a note to Akbar saying that he was willing to be punished after the festivities of Janmashtami were over and that he was sending some stones in the box just to delay his arrest and send the men who had come to take him away.
Meanwhile, after filling the box and writing the note, he told the waiting men that he had converted the money into gem stones as they would be safer that way and that they should take the box to the king and give him the note. The men went and relayed the information to Akbar. After reading the note Akbar was angry that Surdas had the cheek to send stones in the box and asked the men to open it. When the box was opened everyone around was surprised that the box was filled with gem stones of several kinds.
Impressed with Surdas’ devotion to Lord Krishna, Akbar returned the box with the gemstones to Surdas to serve his Lord and let him serve as his representative in the three cities.

Vakrakali

I love discovering hamlets. They have a distinct character. The local villagers are friendly and innocent, smile easily helpful… etc. On a recent visit to Pondicherry, I was coaxed into visiting one such hamlet by a relative, who waxed eloquent about some fossil which haven’t been given enough importance by the government. I was initially reluctant to visit this village as I already had plans to visit Auroville. Somehow, the day being Shivaratri, I guess the Lord lured me into meeting Him 🙂

So we were on our way to the sleepy little Tiruvakkarai, tucked away in the back of beyond near the Tindivanam highway. Driving on dusty roads we arrived at the temple of Chandramouleeswara. The temple is in the process of being renovated and so we walked barefoot on the hot sandy makeshift way through columns of fences to reach the first shrine of the temple: Vakrakali. 

Vakrakaliamman

 Vakrakali stands in monolithic splendor after killing the demon Vakrasura. Surprisingly  the  idol doesn’t  depict a ferocious Kali. Now, for the   legend behind this temple.  Once there was  a demon called Vakrasura, who was great saivite. He meditated upon Shiva with a linga  embedded inside his throat. Pleased with his penance Shiva appeared before him and asked  him what he wanted. Like most demons, he wanted to be immortal and Shiva granted him  immortality.

 Like every other immortal demon Vakrasura harassed humanity and the devas. The devas ran  to Shiva asking him to save them. Shiva on the other hand went to Vishnu and asked him to  vanquish the demon. Vishnu used his Chakra to kill the demon and vanquished him.

 Meanwhile, Durmukhi, the sister of Vakrasura began harassing people after her brother’s  death. Shiva sent his wife Parvati to tackle Durmukhi. Parvati agreed to vanquish Durmukhi.  But Durmukhi was pregnant at that time. According to Sastras, a pregnant woman cannot be killed. So Parvati tore open the stomach of the demoness and took the baby and hung it in her ear. She then killed the demoness. Since she killed Vakrasura’s sister taking the form of Kali, she remained there as Vakrakaliamman, according to legend.

There is a story behind the Dwarapalikas (like security guards) to Kali in this temple. Once there were four ladies who were from the families of cowherds in the region. They sold milk and curd for their living. But they cheated people by diluting the milk and curds. The king heard about these women and ordered that their heads be shaved and beheaded. On the day they were to be killed, the women were being paraded to the altar, when the four women realizing their folly prayed to Vakrakali. The Goddess appeared before them and pardoned them. She also made them her Dwarapalikas.

The temple has a shrine for Vishnu (Varadaraja Perumal) after having killed Vakrasura. There is also a shiva linga, that Vakrasura prayed with (known as Kantalingam, since he prayed with that in his throat). It is believed that during summer this Linga is cold to the touch. During monsoon, there are beads of water on the linga. There is also a huge Nandi in this temple and a shrine for Parvati in the form of Vadivambikai.

Another shrine of importance in this temple is that of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma all together in one idol adhering to the philosophy of God is one. This idol is known as Dhanumalayan. (Dhanu -Shiva, Mal-Vishnu and Ayan- Brahma) The three faces are facing three directions, East, North and South.

From the temple we headed to the fossil garden a kilometer away. The road to this garden is uncared for and very dusty, bumpy and narrow. The garden is fenced with a small iron gate and has a huge banyan tree in the front. Underneath the banyan tree sits Ayyanar in broken splendor with broken terracotta horses surrounding him.

Ayyanar A little distance away amidst wooded paths we went on to see the fossil of a huge tree belonging to the Tamarind family.  Most of the tree trunks scattered around have turned into rock…specifically silica. There are vandals who also come to chip  away pieces of the tree trunk despite the old security guards, seated there throughout the day. 🙂 The old guard told us that he  has to chase these boys away but then, he can’t be all over the place at the same time. We could only sympathize with  him. 

 

 

The fossil There are  several huge tree trunks scattered in this wooded area. The place is quiet and very  few people (tourists) visit this place. Like my relative said, in any other country this would  have been turned into a tourist place. However, I am glad that this hasn’t been turned into a  tourist place. Some places are best left untouched. And last but not the least I was glad to have  visited the little hamlet of Thiruvakkarai.

 Thiruvakkarai, from Pondicherry would be about 50 km on the Tindivanam Highway, in Vizhupuram district.

Thiruvaikavur

Once in the town of Thiruvaikavur, there lived a hermit who meditated upon Lord Shiva. One day when he was in penance at the temple, a deer ran upto him and sought refuge from the hunter who was following it. The hermit took pity upon the deer and prayed to Lord Shiva to save the deer.
As per his devotees’ wish the Lord sent a tiger to attack the hunter. Now it was the hunter’s turn to run and he ran for dear life from the tiger. Spotting a tree, the hunter climbed up the tree and sat on the tallest branch. But the tiger never left the tree. It sat underneath the tree waiting for the hunter to get down. Night fell but the tiger sat there. The hunter was now worried that he would fall from the tree if he fell asleep. So he began plucking a leaf off the tree to keep himself from sleeping throughout the night.
Now that night was Shivaratri and the hunter covered the sleeping tiger with the leaves from the Bilva tree on which he was sitting. In the place of the tiger there was a shiva linga. Since he had spent the whole night dropping the leaves on the linga, the Lord decided to bless him. According to fate, the hunter was destined to die the next morning, but Lord Shiva is said to have taken the form of Dakshinamurthi and blew away the advances of Lord Yama, the god of death. Nandi also followed suit when his master blew Lord Yama with wind from his nostrils.
Thus the hunter was saved from death. The temple in Tiruvaikavur has Nandi looking out at the entrance, unlike other temples where Nandi sits looking at his master.
Thiruvaikavur is 19 km north of Kumbakonam and 6km from Swamimalai. It is believed that praying in this temple on the day of Shivaratri wards off the fear of death.