Thursday, November 26, 2009


The term God can be compete for the most misunderstood, most abused and hardly understood term in the dictionary.

I was thinking about God and what major religions say about God. There are monotheistic religions that believe there is only one way to God - They are so sure about their ideology that everyone else is wrong, and they feel the urge to convert others to their faith. But, there is no concept of conversion in Hinduism because we believe there is more than one way to God.

If anyone can think deeply about God, the first feeling that would come to them is pure AWE. The next feeling is humility. The third feeling would be probably laughter - because, they'll realize that God cannot be constricted to any particular way or thought or idea.

One of my favorite deities is Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Moorthy - This is the grand Lion/Human Form of the Lord that escapes all imagination.

People ask 'Why does God take Form?' - God, being Omnipresent need not take Form. The ONLY reason he takes form is for our limited Human perceptions to enjoy. The common answer to this question is when people quote -
'Parithranaya Sadhunam (To Protect the Saints)
Vinasha ca Dushkrutam (To Destroy the Evil)

This IMHO is not the basic requirement for the Infinite to take Form. God can do both of the above without taking Form. When, the Infinite God takes Form, it is supposed to be condescending! The name given to this is 'Avatar' (or Avataram in Tamizh) - The syllable 'ava' indicates 'to come down' - For e.g., in Carnatic music when the tune comes down, it is called 'Avarohanam'. (opposite of 'aarohanam' when the tone goes up)

When the Infinite God, in all His mercy decides to incarnate (please note the word 'carna' indicating flesh as in carnivorous, carnal pleasures as of things related to flesh) it is ONLY to delight His devotees. Everything else is secondary.

Arjuna asks Lord Sri Krishna in Bhagawat Geeta - 'How can I worship you? Do I worship you in this or any other Wonderful Form? Or should I meditate on you as Formless One'. Sri Krishna replied - 'You can choose either. Both are same. However, it is very difficult for the human mind to meditate on the Formless Infinite. So, meditate on me! I'll take you there!'

Sarva Dharman Parityajya (Give up all your work)
Mam ekam Sharanam Vraja (Take Refuge on me Alone)
Aham Twa Sarva papebhyo Mokshishyami - (I'll remove all your Sins, and provide Salvation)
Ma Shucha: - (Don't worry!)

This Great Shloka was unfortunately named 'Death Shloka' in a popular Tamil Movie - Anniyan!

God takes Form only to thrill His devotees. My friend's mom's eyes glow and well with tears when you mention the name of Baby Krishna. One of my aunts used to cry on remembering Murugan's bewitching Form. My brother-in-law's eyes light up as lightning on just mentioning the name 'Nataraja' (He is my secret friend too!). I cannot tell how much gladness just the mention of the name Nrusimha brings to my heart.

When all Avatar's of Vishnu were planned, this one was unplanned. He was never born in conventional sense, grow up and then take His enemy. He appeared in an instant, finished His Samharam (destruction of evil) in a moment, and then He vanished.

He did not do that to save Prahlada! Who else saved Prahalada when he was rolled down the mountains, fed with poison or thrown into fire? He came to add veracity to Prahlada's words that Sri Vishnu is Everywhere.

Sri Mukkur Lakshmi Narasimhacharyar used to say that this Form of the Lord is His actual Form! Because, He had no time for make-up and had to come as is! It is called 'Avasara Thirukkolam' - A Form take up in Urgency.

Lord Narasimha is also known for His speed! (Aditha kai piditha perumal - One who held the hand that broke the pillar in a trice) - He never asks His devotees to wait. He immediately Grants all their wishes.

Someone was asking a saint why Lord Narasimhar doesn't appear even though there are 1000s of Hiranyakashipus (evil people) - The saint replied that there is not even a single Prahalada!

Mata Nrusimha Pitha Nrusimha
(Nrusimha is mother, So is He our Father)

Bhrata Nrusimha Sakha Nrusimha
(Nrusimha is our Brother, He is our Friend too)

Vidya Nrusimha Dravinam Nrusimha
(He is our Knowledge and Wealth)

Swami Nrisumha Sakalam Nrusimha
(He is our Lord and Everything in this Universe)

Atho Nrusimha Paratho Nrusimha
Yatho Yatho Yami Thatho Nrusimha
(He is of this World - He is beyond too!
Where ever we go, it is all Nrusimha!)

Let's mentally Bow to the Supreme Divine who manifested in this wonderful Form. May He help us understand what being God is all about.

Sri Subrahmanya Rakshitoham!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It just doesn't work in India

Few years ago, I was asking one of my sisters (cousin) in US what is great about US? She told me that she doesn't have to worry about basic stuff (like electricity, water, milk etc) - This was a big deal then.

I now think it is such a pain to do anything in India. May be it is one of my rare mood swings. But, I am sure something is wrong.

1. Yahoo India Small Business - Don't even try touching this with a long pole if you can. Avoid it like plague. We have been having a series of missed emails from CUSTOMERS!! When I logged a complain to YSB, there is not even an acknowledgement from them. Now I found their call center number, and when I talk to them, they were the rudest, and the lady thinks I am dud. I have been working in Internet technologies and software since 1996. I pity non-tech guys who have to interact with their call center.

2. Tata Indicom Photon+ - I took this mobile broadband connection service. It did not work initially, because they had not done their address verification. I hate terrorists. They blow up some place and everyone suffers. All addresses to be validated despite giving address proof 'personally' by Tata personnel. I made a few frantic calls, and finally it started working after a couple of days. Now, I haven't got the bill and they stopped my connection. My parents got a cryptic call telling that my payment was due. They did not listen when we tried to say that we haven't received the bill yet.

3. Curse of Follow-up - NOTHING WORKS without followup. I have been running around a range of people to whom I pay money get stuff done. The sad part is that I need to follow it up meticulously. What a waste of time and effort? I was thinking how much more productive I would be if I don't have to follow-up anything. Nobody takes OWNERSHIP. Nobody cares! Ownership is when people take up responsibilities and take effort to close the loop. VP of my previous employer's favorite term was 'closure' - I love that term. Sad that there is no one else with these values.

There are a few more points, but it doesn't matter I guess. I just vented our all my pent up frustrations. I'll peacefully go back to work now. :-)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mahaganapathim Manasa Smarami

There are 32 forms of Sri Ganapathi also known as Ganesha and fondly called as 'Pillaiyar' in Tamil (தமிழ்)

Ganesha s also called Vinayaka - Nayaka means Hero / Leader and Vi means without. There is not further hero / leader to Vinayaka because He is the Supreme!

He is one of my favorite deities who responds in a trice to all His devotees, even if they don't ask for help explicitly to Him! He is considered by many as the primary deity of the Hindu pantheon.

I was listening to 'Maha Ganapathim Manasa Smarami' set in Nattai ragam and Rupaka Talam and composed by the Genius - Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

Sri Maha Ganapathim Manasa Smarami

In the first line of the pallavi, Sri Dikshitar asks his mind (manasa) to think / remember (smarami) about the (glory of) Sri Maha Ganapathi.

Vasishta Vamadevadi Vandita (Maha Ganapathim)
Sri Ganesha is extolled to praised by great Rishis like Sri Vashishta and Sri Vamadeva.

"Sri Maha Ganapathim Manasa Smarami
Vashishta Vamadevadi Vandita

Oh Mind! Please meditate on the glory of Sri Maha Ganapathi, who is extolled by Sri Vashishta and Sri Vamadeva"

Mahadeva Sutam
Lord Shiva is the Supreme(Maha) of Gods(Deva) - Lord Ganesha is His Son (sutam)

His younger brother Guruguha (or Kartikeya or Murugan) always praises His brother. The term Guruguha is also the signature (mudra) of Sri Dikshitar. [There is a deep link between Sri Subrahmanya / Murugan and Sri Dikshitar - I'll discuss it sometime later]

Marakoti Prakasham
Of all devas, Manmatha / Mara (Cupid) is claimed to be the most beautiful one. But, here Ganesha shines (prakasham) like koti/crore (10 million) Maras! (mara koti) - Sri Ganesha's form should be a delight to behold!

Sri Ganesha is also the epitome of peace. Shantam (peace) is His Nature.

Mahakaavya Natakadhi priyam
Sri Ganapati takes a strong liking (priyam) to great literature (maha kaavya) and drama (nataka). May be that's why he volunteered to be a scribe for Mahabharata when Vyaasa was set to compose it.

Mooshika Vahana
The Big Elephant has a small mouse (mooshika) as his mount (vahanam) - The mooshika was actually an Asura named 'Kayamukhasura' who had the blessing of immortality from Shiva. When the asura turned evil, He defeated Him and changed him to a mouse and made him His Vahanam.

Modhaka Priyam
Modhakam is a kind of sweet also called 'kozhukkattai' (கொழுக்கட்டை) in Tamil. Ganesha loves this sweet - So, it is traditional to offer this sweet to Him on Ganesha Chaturtthi.

I have no idea why this song doesn't have Charanam. May be the experts who know can share it with us all.

May Sri Maha Ganapathi bless us all!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Maha Shivaratri

I have been observing Maha Shivaratri vows for over 13 years now - Except for the last year, I missed observing it when I was in Washington :-( [I had not missed it in S. Korea or even San Jose, California!] 

2008 will go down my memory as the worst year in my existence :-) [I hope I don't change that statement!] - I wanted to start this year auspiciously, by celebrating Maha Shivaratri.

Over years, my fasts have become stricter. I woke up early on Monday, and decided I'll take up the strictest form of the fast. In this version of the fast, one cannot eat or drink anything (including water) till the next day morn, after staying up the whole night. 

I did a simple japa of the Panchakshari (Om Namah Shivaya) few rounds (108 counts) in the morning. Then after a break, I started Ekadasi Rudram at 1:00 pm. Sri Rudram occurs in all Vedas. I follow the popular one in Sri Krishna Yajur Veda. [The word Krishna, does not indicate Lord Sri Krishna, an avatar of Sri Maha Vishnu - I'll explain the two different types of Yajur Veda in another blog entry]

The chanting consists of two parts - Namakam and Chamakam. The word 'nama' is occurs repetitively in namakam - The word 'nama' means 'to bow down in respect. In this part we mentally bow down to different aspects of Lord Shiva. 

For e.g., one verse goes
Namo Ugraya cha Bheemaya cha
[One who is Intense and Terrifying]

Namo Agre vataya cha Dhoore vataya cha
[One who can destroy things in His proximity and also things at a distance]


Namo Meghyaya Cha Vidhyuthya cha
[One who is the clouds, and the Lightning]

There is a lot more, but I'll restrict to these. Shiva takes a terrifying posture of 11 Rudras when the Universe is destroyed - The first few verses seem to indicate those forms.

The famoush Panchakshari [Na ma shi va ya] is also from Sri Rudram - I bow to the One who is all Auspicious (Shivaya) - It occurs in the central part of namakam (Incidentally, Rudram is in the central part of Sri Krishna Yajur Vedam) 

After namakam, usually chamakam is chanted. Chamakam seeks blessings from Lord Shiva. The word 'cha me' is used repetitively in Chamakam and hence it gets its name. Chamakam is the best way to seek blessings (we may ask for something lame!) - chamakam makes us to request Lord Shiva different things - Long life, health, wealth, concentration, sufficient food etc. 

Chamakam consists of 11 parts. In ekadasi rudram, full namakam is chanted once, and first part (anuvakam) of chamakam is chanted. Then full namakam is chanted again, and then the second anuvakam is chanted and so on. It can take from 3-4.5 hours based on your speed. 

I did one round  ekadasi Rudram from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. And, then I went to my brother-in-law's (Deepak Rajaram, my sister's husband) home. He is an intense Shiva Bhakta, and is extremely well read in scriptures and rituals. Though he is only 30, he has been doing ritualistic pooja for about 20 years now!!! I joined him and couple of his friends at his home - So, I had to do Ekadasi Rudram again that night. The prayers were elaborate with tons of flowers, cut fruits, honey, ghee, dhoopam, deepam, curd etc offered to the Lord - The Shiva Lingam that Deepak had, should definitely be satisfied with the level of Abhishekam done that night!

I had intermediate pangs of hunger, but faith helped me survive my temptations :-) - I reached home at about 5:00 am and finished one final set of prayers at my house, and it was about 6:00 am when I had my first sip of water after almost 24 hours. Who said water doesn't have taste? :-)

Then, at the conclusion of prayer, I had planned to ask certain things from the Lord (which I never do!) - Thankfully, at the end of the prayer, by Lord's Grace, I forgot to ask what I wanted to ask :-) - I wouldn't have forgiven myself if I had gone ahead and asked what I wanted!

To summarize, I had a great Maha Shivaratri celebration and am looking forward to an awesome 2009! 

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Save Chidambaram!

Anti Hindu TN Government, has decided to take over Chidambaram temple :-( - There are very few temples in TN that are away from the bad influence of TN Governement. Now, TN Government is planning to take away the temple by force. 

Some friends are working on spreading the knowledge and taking the protest across the world. 

And, most importantly, spread the word! PLEASE!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Akhilandeshwari - Dwijawanti (Part 2)

Earlier, I had stopped with Anupallavi. (Please go over Akhilandeshwari - Dwijawanti (Part 1) before you continue if you haven't, already)

Lambodara Guruguha Poojithe
Lambala Kodbhasite - Hasite!
Vaak-Devata Aaradhite! Varade!
Para Shaila Raajanuthe! Sharadhe!

Jambhari Sambhavite! Janardhananute!
Jujavanti (Dwijavanti) Raganute!
Jalli, Maddala Jharjara vaadhya 
Naadamudite - Gnaana Prade!

Dikshitar begins charanam by picturesque description of the Ambal Akhilandeshwari Sannidhi in Thiruvanaikkaval. 

Ambal was once said to be in a 'Ugra' (fierce) form. So, to pacify her, Sri Adi Sankara Acharya installed two earrings made of precious stones called 'Taadakam' in her ears. (Sri Acharya installed a Sri Chakram front of the Ambal idol in Maangadu, Chennai) - He also installed idols of Her sons Ganesha (Lambhodara) and Murugan (Guruguha)

So, in the first line, Dikshitar sings, that Ambal is worshipped (poojite) by Lambhodara and Guruguha. Sri Ganesha idol is kept behind Ambal shrine. Lambhodara is split as Lamba + Udhara - Big Tummy. Lord Ganesha is supposed to be extremlely cute and adorable and has a big tummy of an elephant. Who is not enchanted by a small cute elephant prancing around? 

No wonder Mother Ambal lost her Ugram after this! 

Also, there is a sannidhi (installation) of Sri Murugan behind the shrine of Ambal too. Murugan is denoted by Guruguha -> Guru + Guha - The Secret Master! or The Master who resides in the deeply in the caves (guha) of our heart. Guruguha is also the 'mudra' or signature of Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar. He signs all his songs with this name and the name of the Raga in which the song is set. 

So, Dikshitar says, 
Lambodhara, Guruguha Poojite! 
Sri Ganesh and Sri Guruguha always offer prayers to You

Lambala Kodbhasite 
In India, it is considered beautiful for women to have long tresses of hair. Here, the author sings that not only does Mother have very long hair (lambala) , but the tresses are shiny! (bhasite!)

Vaak Devata Aaradhite!
The third shrine behind the main Shrine of Ambal is that of Sri Saraswati - She is the Ultimate bestower of Knowledge and hence considered as the Deity (Devataa) of Speech (Vaak) too! Sri Akhilandeshwary is praised (aaradhite) by Sri Saraswati

Bestower of boons (Vara)!  Sri Akhilandeshwari is the ultimate bestower of boons! I want to describe an incident here - One of my closest friend's elder sister, when she was 3 years old, took a few camphor tablets by mistake! It was quite poisonous. Her parents rushed her to a famous Iyer doctor near Thiruvanaikkaval (since it was close to Srirangam, my friend's hometown) - The doctor on seeing the condition of my friend's sister gave up, and said 'If anyone can save her, it is Sri Akhilandeshwari only!' - My friends parents rushed to the Shrine and placed the unconscious kid in front of the Shrine and prayed. And, miraculously, the girl woke up in a few minutes without any problem! (She is a proud mother of two wonderful kids now). I don't believe in false aggrandization and hype - I have only stated what I know is true. 

Vara Saila Raajanute
Vara Saila- Supreme/Mighty  Mountain
Raajanute - Of the King
Ambal, as Parvati took form as the daughter of the Himalayan Mountains (Parvatan) - Dikshitar seems to indicate this part of Shiva Puranam. 

Sharada is a famous name ascribed to Sri Saraswati and also Ambal.

Jambhaari Sambhavite
She is praised (Sambhavite) by Sri Indra (Jambhaari - One who killed the Asura Jambha)

Sri Maha Vishnu (Janardhana) also extolls Her.

Jujavanti Raaganute
She is praised in this Raga Jujavanti (Dwijavanti)

Jalli Maddala Jharjara nada-mudite
Ambal enjoys (mudite) the sound (nada) of the ancient musical instruments - Jalli, Maddala, Jharjara

Ambal grants (prade) the Supreme Divine Knowledge (Gnaana) to all Her children

Dikshitar thus ends the song on Ambal. 

Some learned scholors (including Late Sri TL Venkatarama Iyer (TLV)) seems to contend if the song was composed by Sri Dikshitar. But, to me the presense of the mudra (Guruguha) and the ragam (Dwijawanti) in the text of the song seems to confirm the author. (I consider myself arrogant for commenting on this subject I don't know anything about, though)

So, if you go to Trichy, please don't miss this wonderful temple! It will be interesting to see that the deepam(lamp) close to Ambal's face would be wavering, while the one near the feet is stable. The wavering is supposed to be indicate that Ambal Akhilandenshwari is indeed alive, and actually breathing!

When I went to attend Trichy to attend marriage of cousin (whose name is same of that of the Ambal), I decided to visit the temple early in the morning, about 5:30 am. The Shrine was just opened, and when I stood there, the poojari (gurukkal) suddenly left the shrine, and there were absolutely no one in the temple. I could clearly see Ambal in all glory, wearing the Thaadakam, an in reflection of the oil lamp. I intuitively started singing this song! And the gurukkal did not come till I finished the song! It was an intimate affair between Ambal and me. I'll never forget that transformative experience. 

I thought I'd upload a version of the song sung by me. But, I resisted since it might scare away potential visitors of the blog (already dwindling :-) )

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Akhilandeshwari - Dwijawanti (Part 1)

Today, while returning home from office, late in the night, I started humming the song ‘Akhilandeshwari’ – a total turnaround from my humming of ‘Nenjukkul Peithidum’ from Vaaranam Aayiram a day earlier!

The very name ‘Akhilandeshwari’ transports me to my college days in Regional Engineering College, Trichy. I used to make frequent trips to Sri Jambukeswarar – Akhilandeshwari temple in Thiruvanaikkaval, Trichy (below). I usually combined such trips with Sri Ranganthaswamy Temple – Srirangam, Uchhi Pillayar Temple (Rock Fort)and Thaayumanavar Sannidhi. I have fond memories of me and my friend (Ramkumar) spending Shivaratri chanting ‘ekadasi’ Rudram / Chamakam for Sri Jambukeswarar through the night.

The Thiruvanaikkaval temple is one of the ‘Pancha Bhootha Sthalam’s of Lord Shiva. The term ‘Pancha Bootham’ is often used to denote ‘Five Basic Elements’ from which the entire matter is made up of. (According to Vedic and Siddha literature) – The five elements are Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.

Sri Jambukeswarar is the aspect of Shiva denoting water. The Shiva Lingam there is always surrounded by water, even during adverse drought conditions.

Sri Akhilandeshwari is the consort of Sri Jambukeswarar.  Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar has composed a wonderful song on this Ambal (a name popularly used to fondly denote Shiva’s consort). This was the song I was humming.  For a soulful rendition of this song by M.S. Subbulakshmi, please click here


I wanted to share the meaning of the song, so people can enhance their enjoyment of this wonderful song.


Sri Akhilandeshwari Rakshamam!

Aagama Sampradhaya Nipune!


Akhilandeshwari – Akhila + Anda + Ishwari

The word Akhilam means ‘All’. Andam means Egg. This usually denotes the egg in the Golden Womb (Hiranya (Gold) Garbham (womb)) of Ambal which gave birth to the entire Universe. Ishwari means absolute Controller.

Rakshamam – Protect!

Dikshitar addresses Ambal by her name which means that She is the Mother of the entire Creation and asks for Her Divine Protection!

Then he goes on to describe her...

Aagama Sampradhaya Nipune!

‘Aagama’ point to the Great Texts and Scriptures including the Vedas. Sampradaya points to the traditions and conventions that are followed since time immemorial in India. And, Nipune means ‘Expert’

Dikshitar describes Ambal is the absolute expert in Scriptures and Traditions.


Anu Pallavi

Nikhila Loka Nithyathmike Vimale

Nirmale Shyamale Sakala Kale


Nikhila – (like ‘Akhila’ in pallavi) ‘All’.

Loka – World

Nityatmike – Nitya + Atmike

Nitya (always) Atmike (soul) – this is a beautiful expression from Dikshitar. He describes Ambal as the eternal soul of the entire creation. Ambal pervades the entire creation.

Vimale – vi + male

The term ‘mala’ is used to denote impurities. The syllable ‘vi’ negates it. So, Ambal is One without any impurity. (You can recognize ‘vi’ in the popular term ‘Vinayaka’ for Lord Ganesa. ‘Nayaka’ means Hero or Lord. ‘Vi’ is without. There is no greater hero / lord for Vinayaka as He is supreme!)

Nirmale – Nir + male

The meaning is identical to the above term. Except that the author uses ‘nir’ to negate impurity (mala). Dikshitar seems to have been overwhelmed by the Pure nature of Ambal.

Shyamale – Dark in complexion!

Here comes the Genius of Dikshitar! We cannot split this word like the two above J- This term simply means that Ambal is dark in complexion!

Sakala Kale – Knower of All Arts

Ambal as the Mother, Knows all Arts - It also exemplifies the aspect of Ambal that is related to fine arts. 

The post has become quite long already! I'll work on the Charanam tomorrow!

Friday, January 09, 2009


I definitely did not want my first blog entry of the year with this title. But, I was pondering over the nature of losers. 

(1) Losers have mere dreams - But, these are not goals. Dreams become goals only when one tries to achieve it. When dreams remain wishes, they do not become goals. For e.g., one may want an Audi R8. But, what steps are taken to achieve that goal? If none are taken, then the object of desire remains in the domain of dreams and not goals. More dreams, less goals => loser. 

(2) Underpowered - Losers achieve when the fruits are (proverbially) low hanging. Any one can pick them  up. What makes it disgusting is that they even celebrate it. They do not have power to sustain intensity for a decent amount of time. They just run out of power. 

(3) Under-willed - Great things are achieved mostly by perseverence than by brilliance. Achieving great things requires one to go on and on and on (pointed by the ad of Duracell). Losers simply lack the will to persevere. They may be able to achieve stuff that may need intensity but not those that require perseverence. They simply give up too easily. 

(4) Find Excuses - This is a masterpiece work of losers. I find that this reason alone should be sufficient to identify a loser. This work of art requires shifting the blame to a third party (non-self). 'I lost because of .......' (feel free to fill up the blanks with most imaginative sentences). They even superficially believe that! Mind is indeed strange.

(5) Procrastinate - Paul Graham wrote a lovely piece of work on procrastination. It is difficult for losers to be idle. So, they choose to engage themselves thoroughly with trivial or unimportant work. This way they even get a wonderful excuse of 'not finding enough time' - Tom Peters used to say 'You make time if you care'. How true! 

I truly shudder when I think that I derived all the five attributes listed above looking at no one but me. People are usually surprised when I say that. I am supposed to be a successful person. The sad part is that I used to believe that. 

I have faced losses that are truly irrevocable. But there are always opportunities to redeem in some cases. Confucius (and few other great people) have told that greatness lies not in not falling at all, but rising every time one falls. I atleast have decided to stand up again, this time.