Archive for the ‘chennai clippings’ Category

Les Miserables – Chennai pe charcha

December 4, 2015

I would like to keep this short. That said, I would like to start with the rather long opening line of Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities – “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”…

Chennai in the Crisis that Had No Name….

How did it feel for me? Pardon me, if I say that this last week was a bit like what one experienced during the tense times of watching 26/11. For us here in Chennai, with no electricity, water-water-everywhere-but-not-that-much-to-drink, pounding-pounding-pounding of non-stop rains, with the knowledge in one’s bones that this one was the real thing – the disaster that we were afraid to even fear… The knowledge that out there, there would be thousands and thousands who would be suffering far more than I, and the feeling of guilt that accompanies that silent knowledge… And then, by the time it was Day 3, and still no signs of end, the desperate question, “is this for real? Is this really happening?”

And when the rains did seem to stop, the deluge that followed… With the waters being released from the bursting catchment lakes…. With sudden rivers flowing through city streets….

And the other city… The noble Chennai… No dhakka-mukka in the few shops that opened up… No sudden sky-rocketing of prices… Ordinary people helping each other… Many going out of their way…. The dignity of India… While it lasts… Surely, this wont last, and soon commerce will take over… As will politics….

Remember, we had no TV. Our phones were out… Most of us were in complete Radio Silence. And when the first crackle of signals did come, there came the SOS-s from friends and relations… Each of us perhaps knew some people, personally, who were marooned with water coming up to first floor… Wanting drinking water, and milk if possible… Even as I write this, I have a cousin’s family whose only mode of transport is by boat, and they have no electricity yet – and they have at least four people at home who are above 80 years of age – and so please don’t say ‘Why can’t they go to Bangalore?’

And again, even as I write this, the rains have started once more.. Maybe just a short and sharp shower… But such has been the pounding of last week, that we shall be suspicious of every shadow of a shower….

Oh I could go on.. But here’s some plea, if I may

Let us, as a nation, get our disaster-management act together…

Do not inundate sufferers with dozens of different agency numbers and options, out of which we hesitate to call any (Take your pick Army, Navy, Boat Agencies. Food relief folks Government Bodies etc etc). Please have ONE number that people should call – and let that number be manned by a Command and Control centre that routes the right relief to the right place.

Take control of communication. People may not have phones working. How do you get messages to them? Have clear and purposeful messages. Get them across. Do not make the sufferer sift for signal from a flood of meaningless noise.

For sure the rescue workers from Army, Navy and other Government agencies did terrific work. Help them by having a well designed Disaster Management Plan. Let each one know exactly what they would be doing. And let there be an overall control mechanism….

As I write this, I see a message in one of my groups where someone is asking – “Can someone suggest what medicines need to be got? One relief truck is coming from Bengaluru”. One more helping hand waving uncertainly…

One more request… This one to news channels.. Please do not come to Chennai and interview people in Hindi (although, I humbly submit ki some of us can match you gaali to gaali in khadi boli) … And if you can, please do not bring in words like Secular etc into this conversation. You agree to that, and I grant you your right to scream from your studios that your channel saved Chennai… And tomorrow (why tomorrow, even today), you may go back to your recently all too familiar ‘Papa beats Momma’ theme of ‘India Intolerance Unlimited’.

mujhe tumse kuch bhi na chahiye
mujhe mere haal pe chhod do
mujhe mere haal pe chhod do


(… ai maalik tere bande hum… )

 

Crazy About Ramana

July 16, 2015

It was sometime in May 2015. I got a call from “Crazy Mohan”, the famous Theater artiste.

(His Wikipedia entry says – “Crazy Mohan (born 16 October 1949 as Mohan Rangachari) is a Tamil comedy actor, script writer and playwright. An engineer by profession, Mohan started writing plays and dramas for stage and established his own drama troupe called Crazy Creations in 1979. In addition to dramas and tele-serials, he has worked as a dialogue writer on a number of comedy films. He has written over 30 plays, worked on over 40 films and played cameo roles in each of these films, and written 100 short stories.”

That’s not the whole story. Mohan is a ‘drawing’/’painting’ artist. He is a terrific Tamil poet.

At heart, he is a simple, down-to-earth, foodie.

And he is a devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Mohan has written a four hundred verse Tamizh biographical treatise titled ‘Ramanayanam’, which was serialized by Tamizh magazine ‘Amuda Surabhi’.)

I have had the joyous opportunity to work with him for some years now, on a column for  ‘Ramana Way’ – the monthly journal of Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bengaluru. Working with the Editorial part of the journal, I had approached Mohan in 2012 to seek a column for one issue. We met and spoke, and that blossomed into many conversations, that were carried as a regular column since that time – “Crazy About Ramana” By Crazy Mohan, As told to ‘yours truly’.

In May 2012, he called me and asked me “Why not bring out ‘Crazy About Ramana'” as a book. He was to stage 777th show of his superhit comedy drama ‘Chocolate Krishna’, on July 11th, for which he was inviting superstar Kamalahasan as Chief Guest. And could we release the book on that date?

Mohan knew that the iron was hot. And Mohan is known for his Super-hits!

It happened as planned. On July 11th, 2015, at Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai, Kamalahasan released both, ‘Ramanyanam’ (in e-book form) and ‘Crazy About Ramana’.

Click here to read a writeup from The Hindu on that 777th Show.

And here is a video clip of the books release…

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So, ‘Who’s Crazy?’. What has humor to do with spirituality? Get a glimpse of the spiritual odyssey of Crazy Mohan… Read the book….

To buy the book, connect with the link “Buy some products and help a cause” in the blogroll below.

Or contact, ‘Anbudan Store’ (number 9941622793) – 11 am to 6 pm,  or email to rasa.experience@yahoo.in

Hasta Manana!

Tagore in Chennai

October 26, 2014

Yesterday… Oct 25th … 2014

Lovely evening… Its monsoon time in chennai… The rains have been heavy.. but evening was rain free, and the weather very pleasant. Peace.

As I walked in the grounds of TS in Adyar, felt an urge to step up into the circular Blavatsky Bungalow and take a picture of the plaque embedded in the wall.

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Rabindranath Tagore had been here…. Exactly eighty years ago… The plaque commemorated his stay in this bungalow from Oct 21 to Nov 2, 1934… Here’s a partial view of the historic bungalow…

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Wondering how wonderful it would have been to have seen Tagore when he stayed here… idly… I asked God google.to search “Tagore Chenai 1934″… And Bing-O (no offense to Bing)… Came this page from the Hindu newspaper

This was an interview with Smt G Sundari, who has been associated with TS and Kalakshetra all her life. And she was there in 1934, when Tagore stayed in this bungalow.

Here is the excerpt from that article in Hindu…

One of my earliest memories is of seeing Rabindranath Tagore during his visit to Madras in 1934. He was very impressive, with his ochre robes and his long beard. He had come with his students as part of his South India tour to raise funds for Shantiniketan. The president of the Society, George Arundale told him, ‘Gurudev, we don’t want you to have to go around collecting funds at your age,’ and assured him that they’d collect the money for him. So Tagore stayed on at the Society for about 10 days, and was well taken care of at the Blavatsky Bungalow near the big banyan tree.

All of us children would run in and out of the bungalow — there were no restrictions on our movements. Tagore would be reclining in an easy chair in the hall and when a child went up to him, his arm would go gently around him or her. But what fascinated us most was the sight of his students combing out his long beard!

Ah yes, the beard…The beard of Moses!

Here is the picture of Tagore in Chennai in 1934 at the Congress headquarters… (From the Hindu article)

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Tagore-Hindu-Chennai-1934

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He is 73 years of age…. What a presence!

Signing off this post with a Youtube link of Tagore’s voice…

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Ok, folks,, got to go…

Jodi Tor Dak Shune Keu Na Ase Tobe Ekla Cholo Re

Messenger Krishna

February 17, 2013

On Feb 3, 2013, there was a celebration of centenary of Justice KS Venkatraman ICS, at Chennai. Justice KSV was a highly respected Jurist, who retired as a Judge of the High Court of Madras. He was also a great connoisseur of art – music, drama, upanyasa…

The event was held in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and was attended by a packed audience. A report on the event can be seen in this link of Mylapore Times (Click here for a pdf copy of the paper)

As a part of the event several eminent Jurists shared their tributes. There was also short sessions of music, drama and story telling…

Yours truly was given the task of “story telling”… The topic given was “Krishnan Dootu” – from Mahabharata. This is set in the Udyoga Parva, where Krishna comes to Hastinapura as an emissary, a messenger of Pandavas, to broker peace with Kauravas. Its a long and fascinating series of scenes, and Justice KSV was very fond of this…

To cut to the story, giving below a youtubed upload of the recording of the story-telling (upanyasa). As the whole episode could not be covered in half an hour, one conveyed a snap shot of three scenes… First is when Krishna comes to Duryodana’s palace, on a courtesy call. Second is the Vishwaroopam that Krishna takes, when Duryodhana tries to capture him. Third, is the message that Kunti sends for her sons, through Krishna.

Athato… krishna jigyaasaa…

Time travel

December 22, 2012

Some pictures…

First of a book from my home library shelf…

books

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Look at the brown book in the middle, with the initials KSV at the bottom…

Its a Sanskrit-English dictionary…

Here’s a pic of the first page…

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Noticed the date on the binding? And the published-date on the page above?

Yes, it is 1912.. The book is a hundred years old!

Whenever I see it, I feel a sense of reassurance, a warmth, a sense of resilience. It is a token of timelessness.

In the edition (above) Prof Apte concludes his preface (28-Dec-1890),  saying ” In conclusion, I may be permitted to express the hope that the Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary, which has attempted to give in 1200 closely printed pages of this size matter at least equal in point of quantity to that given by Prof. Monier Williams in his Dictionary, but in, point of quality more reliable, varied and practically useful, in my humble opinion – will serve the purpose I have had in view in compiling it; namely, to render to the student of Sanskrit nearly the same service that Webster’s or Ogilvie’s Dictionary does to the student of English.”

Students of Sanskrit know well that the Apte’s dictionary is available right till this day.

One understands form the Net (Click here to read), that Prof Apte was born in 1858, lost his father when he was merely 8 years old, and himself lived a  short life of 44 years. But in these 44 years, he rendered outstanding service to the cause of education. When he published the dictionary, he was the Principal of Fergusson College, Poona…

Here is a picture of Prof Apte (from the site above)…

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Rounding off this post with another picture…

Taken today, in Chennai. Of a congregation of Veda-adepts, participating in Ati-Rudram. This Vedic-rite requires a total of 14,641 repetitions of the Mantra-s Sri Rudra and Chamakam from the Veda. This number actually amounts to 11 to the power of 4. In the function at Mandaiveli in Chennai today, there were 11 groups of 11 Vedavit, who chanted the Rudram 11 times each, along with one anuvaka of Chamakam each time… And there were an additional 11 Vedavit who did Homa (oblations into the fire)… And over above these adepts, there were others with knowledge of Rudram/Chamakam who joined the chanting. For the period of several hours, one was transported in time, to timelessness.

Here’s the pic.

atirudram

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Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya!

Kolam very different….

March 8, 2012

Dr Gift Siromoney, in the website http://www.cmi.ac.in/gift/Kolam.htm says “Kolam is a traditional Indian folk art widely used to decorate the thresholds and courtyards in front of houses. In South Indian villages, the courtyard in front of each house is decorated every morning by drawing traditional designs called kolam. The decoration of the floor with kolam designs is carried out by young women who deftly draw with pinches of flour held between the thumb and the first finger and letting the powder fall in a continuous line by moving the hand in desired directions. On festive occasions, the kolam designs are more elaborate and complicated.”

Early morning, most homes in chennai, the lady of the house would draw a kolam (rangoli) with rice flour…Geometric designs, ranging from simple to simply fantastic… It is considered auspicious, a sign that indicates welcome…. Also serves as food for ants… Which is a part of Bhuta-Yajna, obligatory duty of Hindus, to feed God’s creatures….

Morning of today, March 8th, as I stepped out to pick up the newspaper, I saw a new kolam outside my gate.  A kolam in text…

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Today is a festival day, Holi… Was the new kolam for Holi?  But we do not celebrate Holi in Chennai, so what was this…

I opened the gate to have a look… And a nice surprise…

A Saree shop had chosen to draw a kolam, celebrating Women’s day.. and advertise themselves in the process… Innovative marketing! Kolam is considered auspicious, and as such one would not react negatively to this Saree shop advertisement because of that. Secondly, it brought a nice smile when one saw it….

Took a couple of photos….

Manusmrti says:

यत्र नार्यस्तु पूज्यन्ते रमन्ते तत्र देवता: !
यत्रेतास्तु न पूज्यन्ते सर्वास्तत्राफला: क्रिया: !! मनु:

(Where women are revered, there the Gods happily stay! Where they are not respected, there all works are fraught with failure!)

Happy Women’s Day! Happy Holi!

Flow of time

December 30, 2011

Long time no post…

So here goes…

A few days ago, a nice old gentleman who resided in my neighborhood, passed away. He was 95 (yes, ninety five). I have not personally been close to him, but we knew of each other, and were comfortable in affording each other space in our perceptible world. In other words, although we exchanged few words, we did nod sometimes when we passed each other, and our mind’s waves registered no dissonance.

When I got the information that he had passed on, I visited his house to pay my last respects to him, and convey my condolence to his family. There I spoke to his daughter. She told me that the man had lived a beautiful life. No illness worth recording. Did not suffer from Blood Pressure or Diabetes etc. No regimen of tablets. Did Yoga every day. Was always active, reading, writing. Went for his walks. He ate well till the end. Had a full meal the previous night. Had coffee that morning. She saw him sitting on his bed, checking his pulse, and asked him about it. And he told her he just felt like checking…. And even as he said these words, he gasped once or twice and then his breath stopped. His back leaned on the wall behind the bed. He passed away just like that. Conscious till the last moment. Sitting.  The kind of end that even Sanyasi-s pray for.

Ah yes, there is goodness in the world still.

Read on Twitter today about a good person, one of India’s great architects. About his retiring from service. The tweet read: “Man who changed the way of life in #Delhi, Metro Man Sreedharan, switches tracks, retires tomorrow ~ Legend of India

We owe much to this good man. Lets wish him well in his retired life. I remember seeing an interview of his on TV some years ago, where he mentioned that he looked forward to his retired life, and that he would love to spend the time with his Bhagavad Gita and Vishnu Sahasranama. The North Indian TV anchor, a young lady, had surely no clue what Vishnu Sahasranama was, she pronounced it as Sahastra-nama.  Be that as it may. Best wishes to the good Mr Sridhar for his next Ashrama.

Today I was speaking with an ex-colleague of mine, who retired a month ago. He was a banker and an IT man, who worked in Bengaluru. For his retired life, he had purchased a flat in Sri Rangam. I called him today to wish him for the New Year, and asked him how his retired life was. He described his day for me… Here it is..

This is the month of Margazhi.

Morning 7-25 am to 8-45 am, he attends a talk on Tiruppaavai by Velukkudi Krishnan. I guess he gets some good Pongal too as viniyogam. These days the ‘pagal patthu’ festival is on in Sri Ranganatha temple. Ten days leading to Vaikunta Ekadasi. The Utsava idol of the Lord is adorned and taken in different Vahana. Araiyar Sevai is carried out. The celebration starts early morning every day and goes on till 4 pm or so. My friend spends 10 am to Noon there. Afternoon 4 to 5-30 pm, he again attends another talk by Velukkudi, on the glories of Sri Rangam as expressed by Azhwaars and Acharyas. After that he goes for a nice long walk, visits some temples, Kaattu Azhagiya Singar temple being one of them.  Evening 7 pm he goes for a talk by Sri Krishna Premi, who gives a discourse every day from 7 to 9 pm on Sri Ramanuja Caritram…

Thats his current routine.  Some evenings he goes to Sringeri Mutt to join the Vishnu Sahasranama Parayana, or Veda Sukta chanting.

He tells me that he is loving his new life. Everything that he needs is available in the neighborhood. The wholesale flower market is nearby. Quarter Kilo of fresh roses costs just ten rupees. And a lotus flower costs just eight annas.

His father, now in his eighties, is handing over the family Siva puja to him. He plans taking that over after Pongal.

Talking of the morning Tiruppaavai function, he tells me that hundreds of people attend the talk. And ever so many of them come in Pancakacam and Uttariyam, walking barefoot. They walk barefoot out of reverence for the land trodden by the great Azhwars. Such is the holiness of Sri Rangam.

Kaveri flows nearby. Tyagaraja music utsava is starting in a few days.

Life is good.

Appayya Deekshitar and IIT Madras

November 15, 2011

Today, I received a Forwarded mail, which I would like to share.

Its in Tamil, and I am giving a free English translation of that, below the original mail.

The mail is from Sri Muthuchamy, and one is indeed grateful to him for sharing this with all.

Here goes….

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From: Adiyen A. Muthuchamy <muthuchamymt@gmail.com>
Date: 2011/10/11
Subject: அப்பைய தீக்ஷிதரும் ஐ ஐ டி மெட்ராசும்

ஸ்ரீ காத்யாயனி அம்பிகா சமேத ஸ்ரீ ஜலகண்டேஸ்வர ஸ்வாமி திருகோயில் ஐ ஐ டி மெட்ராஸ்.

சென்ற வாரம் ஒரு சிவனடியார் அடியேனுக்கு அலைபேசியில் அழைத்திருந்தபோது அவரிடம், ஐ ஐ டி யில் இருக்கும் ஸ்ரீ ஜலகண்டேஸ்வர ஸ்வாமியின் பெயர்க் காரணம் கேட்டேன். அவரும்…”கண்டுபிடி முத்து” ன்னு சொன்னார். அன்று மாலையே ஐ ஐ டி வளாகத்தில் இருக்கும் ஜலகண்டேஸ்வர ஸ்வாமியின் சந்நிதிக்கு சென்றேன்.அங்குள்ள அர்ச்சகரிடம் ஸ்வாமியின் பெயர்க் காரணம் கேட்டேன். ஆயின், அவரோ காரணம் லாம் தெரியாது டா அம்பி….ஆனா இந்த ஸ்வாமி ரொம்ப புராதானமானவர், ஒரு பெரிய மகானால் பூஜிக்கப் பட்டவர் ன்னு சொன்னார். உடனே, அடியேன் அவரிடம் யார் அந்த மகான்? ஸ்வாமி இங்கு எப்படி வந்தார் ன்னு கேட்டேன்? அந்த கேள்விக்கு பதிலாக அவர் சொன்ன நிகழ்வு….ஐ ஐ டி கட்டுவதற்காக இடம் ஒதுக்கப்பட்டது. கட்டிட வேலைகள் மிக விரைவாக நடை பெற்றுக் கொண்டிருந்த வேளையில், ஆசிரியர்கள் தங்குவதற்கான கட்டிடங்கள் கட்டும் இடத்தில் தோண்டியபோது, பெரிய அளவிலான லிங்கத் திருமேனியினை கண்டெடுத்தனர். பக்தியுடன், ஸ்வாமியை வெளியே எடுத்துவைத்து பூஜையும் செய்தனர். பின்னர் ஒரு குழுவாக சேர்ந்து,சுவாமிக்கு இங்கு ஒரு சந்நிதி எழுப்பத் திட்டம் தீட்டினர்.  ஸ்வாமி சந்நிதிக்கான வேலைகளையும் சேர்த்தே கவனிக்க ஆரம்பித்தனர்.

சுவாமிக்கு என்ன திருநாமம் சூட்டாலாம் என்று அவர்களுக்கு ஐயம் எழுந்தது. உடனே அந்த குழுவில் இருந்து சிலர் காஞ்சி ஸ்ரீ மஹா பெரியவாளிடம் சென்று, இங்கு அவர்கள் கண்டுற்ற சுவாமியையும்,. அவருக்கு கோயில் எழுப்பபோவதாகவும், அந்த சுவாமிக்கு என்ன திருநாமம் வைக்கலாம் என்று உத்தரவு கேட்கவே வந்திருப்தாகவும் தெரிவித்தனர். சற்று நேரம் கண் மூடி அமர்ந்த மஹா ஸ்வாமிகள் தனது மௌனத்தை கலைத்தார்….”நீங்க யாரும் சுவாமிக்கு புதுசா பேரு வைக்க வேண்டாம், அவர் ஏற்கனவே பூஜையில் இருந்த ஸ்வாமி தான்” என்றார். எல்லோருக்கும் ஒரே ஆச்சர்யம்….!!! அப்போ சுவாமிக்கு என்ன திருநாமம் என்று மீண்டும் கேட்டனர். ஐ ஐ டி க்கு அருகில் உள்ள ராஜாஜியின் நினைவகத்தின் பத்திரங்களை நன்கு படித்துப் பாருங்கள் விடை கிடைக்கும் என்று அருளினார். அதோடு நில்லாமல்..அந்த ஸ்வாமி ஸ்ரீ ஸ்ரீ ஸ்ரீ அப்பைய தீகஷிதரால் பூஜை செய்யப் பட்டவர் என்றும் அருளிச் செய்தார்..ஸ்ரீ ஸ்ரீ ஸ்ரீ மஹா பெரியவாள். அப்பளக் குளம் என்ற இடம் ஐ ஐ டி க்கு அருகில் இருந்ததாம்…அது உண்மையில் அப்பையர் குளம் என்பதேயாம், என்றும் அருளினார். (இப்பவும் ஐ ஐ டி க்கு உள்ள குளம் இருக்கு….ஆனா பார்ப்பதற்கு குளம் மாதிரி தெரியலை)

ஐ ஐ டி க்கு திரும்பிய அக்குழுவினர், ஸ்ரீ மஹா ஸ்வாமிகள் அருளியபடி ராஜாஜியின் நினைவகத்தின் பத்திரங்களை எடுத்துப் பார்த்தபோதுஅதில் ஸ்வாமியின் பெயர் ஸ்ரீ ஜலகண்டேஸ்வரர் என்று குறிப்பிட்டிருந்தது. அது கண்டு மனம் மகிழ்ந்த குழுமத்தினர், கோயிலை அழகுற எழுப்பி, ஸ்ரீ மஹா சுவாமிகளையே திருக் குடமுழுக்கு செய்தருளும்படி வேண்டினர். ஸ்ரீ மஹா சுவாமிகளும் அவர்கள் வேண்டுகோளின்படியே அருளினார்.

சரி சரி….எல்லாரும் கண்டிப்பா ஐ ஐ டி க்கு வந்து இந்த ஸ்வாமியை சேவிச்சுட்டு அத்துடன் மறக்காமல் அடியேனை ஆசீர்வதித்து அருளணும் ன்னு கேட்டுக்குறேன். எல்லாரும் கிளம்பிட்டீங்களா???? சீக்கிரமா வாங்க.

ஜலகண்டேஸ்வரர் என்ற திருநாமம் பற்றி யாருக்கேனும் தெரிந்திருந்தால் சொல்லி அருளவும்.

**Begin Translation**
**
From: Adiyen A. Muthuchamy  <muthuchamymt@gmail.com>
Date: 2011/10/11
Subject: Appayya Deekshitar and IIT Madras
*
kAtyAAyanI ambikA samEta shrI jalakanTEswarar swami temple. IIT  madrAs
*

Last week, while speaking to a Siva bhakta, I spoke to him about the Siva temple at IIT and asked him the reason the Lord was named as jalakanTEswarar.

In response… “ (why don’t you) Find out Muthu”, said he.

The same day, I went in the evening to IIT campus and visited the temple of jalakanTEswarar. I asked the temple priest about the reason for the name. He told me “I don’t know ambi… but the lord here is very ancient. He has been worshipped by a great saint.” Forthwith. I asked him who that saint was. In response to my question, here is what he told me…

When IIT Madras was being built, they were digging the ground for laying foundation of the area where the staff quarters were to come up. While digging, they unearthed a huge Siva linga that lay buried there. With devotional fervor, they brought it out and offered worship. They then decided to build a shrine for the idol, and started to work on this.

In that process, they wondered as to what name may be given to the Lord. To decide on that, a few people of that group wnet to Kanchi Mahaperiyava (Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati), and requested his guidance. The Mahaswami closed his eyes and sat in silent absorption for a while, and then breaking his Mauna, he told them – “You do not have to give any new name to the Lord. He has been in worship much before (and already has a name)”.

All the assembled devotees were wonderstruck.

On their asking as to what the name was, Mahaperiyava directed them to go look at the property documents of Rajaji Memorial, which is near the IIT campus, to find the name of the Lord. He didn’t stop with that. He extended his grace and added that the idol had been worshiped by Sri Sri Sri Appayya Deekshitar. He also said that there is a lake in that area which is now known as “Appala kulam”, whose actual name is “Appayya Kulam”. (Even today there is a lake inside IIT. But doesn’t look much of a lake).

After returning, the group went and inspected the property papers of Rajaji Memorial, and were immensely happy to find a reference that the Lord had the name ‘jalakanTEswarar’. Thereafter, they built a nice temple, and prayed to Mahaperiyava to grace the kumbhAbhishEkam. His Holiness acceded to their prayer and graced the occasion.

All right, all right… All of you please do visit the temple at IIT, offer worship to the Lord, and also bless this devotee (Muthu)… That is my humble request. Have you started? Come quick.

If anyone knows any other particulars pertaining to the name jalakanTEswarar, please do let me know.

**End translation**

Nama Sivaya!

A special picture

March 15, 2011

A picture that I saw in the Puja room of my cousins home, brought back some old memories….

Here goes.

There was this young man ‘R’, in the first half of last century, who left his native place Kumbakonam, and came away to Madras. Here. he was working as a health officer with the Government. And then he had a chance encounter with an astrologer who told him that his lot was not to be in service, and that he was destined for great success in business. And so “R” left the comfort of a salaried job, and started a small shop. This was in the 1920s, and he came under the influence of the Gandhian movement. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s call of Swadeshi, he made his shop totally ‘Swadeshi’. The shop would stock goods of all kinds, but all Swadeshi – made in India. And he called the shop “Indian Industrials”.

That shop was a huge success. As the old saying goes, it would sell ‘from pin to elephants’. More than that, it became tagged with ‘good luck’. Word was that it was good luck to purchase from here! So much so, that even fellow shopkeepers in the market, would make some symbolic purchases from here, for their family functions, like weddings etc.

The shop was such a draw, that it became the focal point for the city elite. Like the case of “V”, a young man who was returning from London in 1936, having qualified for the Indian Civil Service… He got off his ship and made his way straight to Indian Industrials, to catch up on whats-been-happening…

“R” used to drive a motor cycle with a side-car, and was an anchor of the developing culture scene in Madras. He and his partner in business “L”, did their bit in contributing to religion and culture.

Having taken his business to great heights, “R” passed away sometime around 1940. His partner and heirs carried on the shop for another thirty years or so, before winding up the business.

And now, the picture that brought all these memories back.

The occasion:

In the early 1960s. The sage of Kanchi, Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt, graciously accepted “L”‘s prayer, and graced “India Industrials” with a brief visit. This picture was taken then. The sage, radiance “le spirituelle”, standing with “L” and some others….

***

Actually, this post is because of the picture. The memories are incidental…

Book Hopping

January 14, 2011

My company, this year, gave me a thousand rupee gift coupon for books or whatever from Landmark books…

And so I went there a few days ago… Browsed around… Should I buy some book of poetry? Ezhiekel ? Maybe later… AK Ramanujam? Cant find his books here… Ah theres this collection of Robert Graves… Just the right price too.. Browse that… Keep it back….

I check out the philosophy section… Nothing jumps out of the shelf at me… Aah.. Snuggled in the shelves, I find one of my books, the Sarayu one. Surprise! Good to see you old friend!

All right, back to the poetry section…

Translation of Ghalib? With original urdu verses transliterated in English? Tempted…. What else….

Fiction section…Translation of Prem Chand? Hmmm…. And I find myself veering looking for my old favorite – Kurt Vonnegut… Only one book… Shop folks stare blankly when I ask for more… All right, all right…. What about John Le Carre? They have just a few of his titles… Milan Kundera? Just one…. Aah, I spot an Ishiguro… I remember I really liked “Remains of the Day”… This one is a collection of not so short stories…. Can try…..

Back to Le Carre…. Should I pick up one or two or three…. His books I have read… And although I do not remember them clearly, I feel I will, as soon as I start reading them…. The story is not the point… Its his lines, and I feel they are so good, that I don’t think I would have quite forgotten the real good ones…. Some of his prose is poetry… Well, I pick up one…

And then my eyes fall on… All right.. For old times sake I shall take that…. Old times sake, all times sake… It is a must to have in my library… I have read this more than a few times, but its maybe ten years since I read it last… Yes, Heller… The 22…

Right… Thats just over a thousand….

That evening I start reading Le Carre, ‘A murder of quality’. Finish it in a few days…. Very good all right…. But…

Next Ishiguro – ‘Nocturnes’… Good… But…..

22 I shall savor later….

The bug has bitten.

Went back to a different bookshop today…. The Odyssey near RA Puram… Buy some pens… And some books….

They have just one Le Carre… A new one – ‘Our kind of traitor’…. I check out if they have any Solzhenitsyn Nope…. Any Vonnegut? Nope… Lots of Agatha Christies… Shelves of them… And Sheldon… And such…. What about some vintage stuff? Yes! A couple of Graham Greenes. “Dr Fischer of Geneva” and the “The Tenth Man”….

And so I return with one more Le Carre and two Graham Greenes….

Lifes good….