In the Tamil calendar (Solar based) of Kartigai (around mid November – mid December), the full moon day is divinely important. Two important events – the arrival of Lord Katikeya (Subramanya/Arumugam) and the manifestation of Lord Siva as an endless flame of light (even Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma couldn’t find the start and the end of it in the three worlds). The lighting of the famous Deepam at the famous Hill at Thiruvannamalai happens on this day.
Today being that day, I decided to refine and rededicate two of my earlier blogs through an audio visual in the social media. Here are the links to the two videos.
அம்புலி கங்கை அணிந்த
அடிமுடி காணா இறைவனை,
அன்பர் மனங்கவர் அண்ணாமலையோனை,
அன்றே கண்டு ஆனந்தமதனை
அலை அலையாய்ப் பெற்ற,
ஆதி சங்கரனின் சிவ
ஆனந்த லகரி எனும் அருள் மறையும்,
ஆர்க்கும் அலைகள் ஆழ்கடல் தோன்றி அழிவதொப்ப,
அன்பரின் மாளா துயர் அழியும் அவனை அடைந்தால் என
அலைவாயிலில் ஆதி சங்கரன், அருளிய
சுற்றும் அரவு என பதம் அமைந்த சுபரமணிய புஜங்கம் தனையும்,
After presenting his worries, fears and apprehensions in the earlier verses, Sri Adi Sankara now directly appeals to Lord Subramanya that he depends on Him solely for mitigation of his problems & none else ( Verse 24). Sri Sankara then brings out the miraculous healing powers of the Sacred Ash (Vibhuti) presented as “Prasadam” in a leaf to the devotees (Verse 25). It is the firm belief of the devotees that applying the Sacred Ash (received in the leaf) over the affected areas of the body will result in significant mitigation.
A small write up about this leaf is presented at the end of this blog .
பக்திமிகு உன் துதிதனை தடுக்கும் என் மனம் உறை மாசினை
அறுத்தாட்கொள்வாய் விரைவினிலே உமை மைந்தா சண்முகனே!
ज्वरोन्मादगुल्मादिरोगा महान्तः ।
पिशाचाश्च सर्वे भवत्पत्रभूतिं
विलोक्य क्षणात्तारकारे द्रवन्ते ॥२५॥
Jvaro[a-U]nmaada-Gulma-Adi-Rogaa Mahaantah |
Pishaacaash-Ca Sarve Bhavat-Patra-Bhuutim
Vilokya Kssannaat-Taaraka-Are Dravante ||
வலிப்பு குஷ்டம் சயம் கபம் மூலம் குன்மம் ஜூரம் பிளவை எனும்
எல்லாப்பிணியுடன் வல்ல பூதபிசாசுகளும், இயலாமல்
எனைவிட்டு ஓடுவர் நில்லாது, அருளும் தாரகவதையோன்
எனைஆளும் முருகன் உன் இலைமடிதிருநீறு அணிந்தால்
पत्रभूतिं Patra-Bhuutim இலைமடிதிருநீறு Sacred Ash in leaf
Patra Vibhuti (Sacred Ash in a leaf)
‘Patra’ means leaf in Sanskrit. In Tiruchendur temple the Sacred Ash (vibhuti ) is kept on a leaf from the “Paneer Tree” ( Guettarda speciosa, colloquially called beach gardenia, or zebra wood, is a species of shrub in the family Rubiaceae) and offered as “prasadam” to the devotees.
The large oval-shaped leaves are 15–23 cm (6–9 in) long by 10–18 cm (4–7 in) wide. Dark green and smooth above with prominent paler veins, they are finely hairy underneath.
“ Now let us delineate on the miraculous healing power of patra bhuti.
The fragrance of this vibhuti is unique. We wonder whether the paneer leaf enhances the fragrance of Tiruchendur vibhuti. No matter what contributes, it is a fact that Tiruchendur vibhuti has the fragrance of divine grace.
After His victory over demon Surapadman and his army, Lord Murugan settled on the coast of Tiruchendur, shining and guiding like a lighthouse. The scriptures stand as paneer trees bearing testimony to His glory. So it is believed that the leaves of those trees have Vedic magical powers. Vibhuti contained in those leaves has miraculous healing power. The veins running across the leaves remind us of Lord Murugan’s twelve hands.
Sage Viswamitra suffered from severe dyspepsia, which he got for killing Tarakai through Lord Rama. Rama appeared in his dream and asked him to smear Chenthilandavan’s patra bhuti as atonement.
There was a remarkable incident in the life of Sri Adi Sankara which revealed the glory of patra bhuti. Abhinav Gupthar, who lost in the argument with Adi Sanakara cast a black magic spell on Adi Sankara which caused a chronic disease. Adi Sankara was staying in Gokarna in north Karnataka at that time. Lord Siva of Gokarna appeared in his dream and instructed him to go to Tiruchendur, the holy abode of HIs son Lord Muruga and get rid of his disease. On getting up he saw vibhuti, kept near him.As ordained by Kokarneswar he set off for Chendur. On reaching Chendur he took a dip in the sea and proceeded towards the shrine of Chenthilandavan. When he was praying fervently to Lord Muruga he saw the serpent, Adiseshan crawling towards the sanctum. At the same time he was blessed with the holy vision and words gushed out extemporaneously in bhujanga metre. In Sanskrit ‘bhujanga’ means snake. Bhujanga metre suggests a snake gliding along. He smeared his body with the patra bhuti prasadam and was soon cured of his disease.“
In the Verses 20-25 of Sri Subramanya Bhujangam, Adi Sankara brings out with full emotions, his personal worries, pains and difficulties. Here in this blog, Verses 20-23 are listed. While trying to understand the meaning of the verses, I was trying to recollect some of my interesting interactions with elders.
Irrespective of country, religion or gender, I have heard everyone say “I know that as a human being I have to die one day. All I want is to have a peaceful end. Without being a burden to anyone, I would like to live the rest of my life and reach the feet of Lord without prolonged illness”. Incidentally as a fellow senior citizen, my own view is precisely the same.
This 21st Century views of the elders, reinforces the sentiments that Sankara brought out in these Verses in the 8th Century, Sankara at his young age brings out the potential scenario that one faces in life at the time of death and seeks Divine interventions to ease one’s pains.
Needless to say that I was truly blank, speechless and emotional as I completed my work on these Verses and recollected the cool, calm and composed manner in which my own mother at her age of 94 and father at his age of 100, closed their eyes and faced the inevitable smilingly; while the former remained silent for 2 days before the end, the later even told me in the hospital bed 48 hours before the end, that he will reach the Lord’s feet in two days time!
அழிக்கவில்லை நீ அவனை, என் செய்வேன் எங்கு செல்வேன் நான்?
One can easily come out with an argument that Sankara wrote these verses out fear of his own death (due the acute distress he had due to the illness): a more insightful look at the verses will bring out clearly that Sankara brings out the fact the Lord will be there with you at the time of your end and there is no need to be afraid of the end.
In the previous two blogs we saw Adi Sankaracharya bringing out the locational significance about the place Thiruchendur, a panchayat town located at the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal, in the Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) district of Tamil Nadu and then moving over to the description of the principal deity Lord Subramanya, focusing on harnessing the organs with the power of God.
In the blogs to follow, Sri Sankara starts his Prayers of the deity. First he focuses on the Lord, then submits his personal difficulties and issues and finally seeks His grace and compassion.
Let us go through the first set of his prayers that focuses on the Lord.
कटौ पीतवास करे चारुशक्ति
पुरस्तान्ममास्तां पुरारेस्तनूज ॥१७॥
Kattau Piita-Vaasa Kare Caaru-Shakti
Purastaan-Mamaas-Taam Puraares-Tanuuja ||
ஒளி மிகு ரத்தினக் காப்பணிந்து எழில் மிகு முத்து மாலையுடன்
Verses 8-16 provides the description of the Lord Subramanya’s beautiful form “Paadaadikesam” (from his feet to his crown). Very often, as a novice I wonder as to why in most of the Slokas (Verses) about the Hindu Gods, a section is devoted to describe the form of the God in His/Her full splendor. Perhaps it signifies that the five action and five sense organs of human beings are directly related to the five elements of Nature and it is the bounden duty of the human being to identify & tune his senses and actions with Nature. But one common thread that I see in these Slokas is the unequivocal “affectionate mental disposition and purity of thoughts, a “sine qua non” for Devotion. Here is Sankara’ description of Karthikeya.
लसत्स्वर्णगेहे नृणां कामदोहे
सदा भावये कार्तिकेयं सुरेशम् ॥८॥
Lasat-Svarnna-Gehe Nrnnaam Kaama-Dohe
Sadaa Bhaavaye Kaartikeyam Sure[a-Ii]sham ||8||
பொலிக்கும் தங்க உறைவினிலே நிறையும் அன்பர்க்கருள்புரியோனே
Aadi Sankaracharya the proponent of the Advaitha (Advaitha – not two in the literal meaning) philosophy, encouraged people to follow the route of Devotion (Bhakti) to the Lord for salvation by writing several Slokas about Hindu Gods.
In his work “ Sivananda Lahari”, Adi Sankara defines Devotion (Bhakti) in several Verses quoting examples of both Advaitha and Dwaitha philosophy (bhava). Pl ref Verse 61 in my earlier blog wherein Sri Sankara brings out the relationship between the Ankola tree & its seeds, the Magnet & iron particles as the “Dwaitha Bhava” approach and the example of river & sea as the “Advaitha Bhava” approach to Devotion (Bhakti). He also reiterated that ““Affectionate mental disposition and the purity of the devotion is the key” to salvation by quoting example of the actions of a hunter as an ardent devotee in Verse 63 of Sivananda Lahari
Sri Subramanya Bhujangam is a classic example of that affectionate mental disposition and purity wherein Sri Sankara was drawn to the abode of Lord Subramanya in the coastal village of Tiruchendur in Tamil Nadu & comes out with brilliant smooth flowing verses like the serpentine moves.
Let us examine the Verses
न जानामि शब्दं न जानामि चार्थं
न जानामि पद्यं न जानामि गद्यम् ।
चिदेका षडास्या हृदि द्योतते मे
मुखान्निःसरन्ते गिरश्चापि चित्रम् ॥२॥
Na Jaanaami Shabdam Na Jaanaami Ca-Artham
Na Jaanaami Padyam Na Jaanaami Gadyam |
Cid-Ekaa Ssaddaasyaa Hrdi Dyota-Te Me
Mukhaan-Nihsarante Girash-Ca-Api Citram ||
சொல் அறியேன் உட்பொருள் அறியேன்
கவி அறியேன் உரைநடையறியேன் – என்
உள்ளமுறை இதயத்தில் ஆறுமுகம் கண்டேனாதலால்
சொற்பல உதிர்த்திட்டேன் வாய்வழியாய் !
मनोहारिदेहं महच्चित्तगेहम् ।
महादेवबालं भजे लोकपालम् ॥३॥
Manohaari-Deham Mahac-Citta-Geham |
Mahaa-Deva-Baalam Bhaje Loka-Paalam ||
மயில் வாகனமேறி உயர்வாக்கின் உட்பொருளாகி
அழகுடல் கொண்டு அடியோரின் உளம் உறைந்து
அமரர்தம் தலையாகி ஆதிநூட்களின் உணர்வாகி
உமையோனின் மகனாகி உலகோரைக் காப்போனே
यदा संनिधानं गता मानवा मे
भवाम्भोधिपारं गतास्ते तदैव ।
इति व्यञ्जयन्सिन्धुतीरे य आस्ते
तमीडे पवित्रं पराशक्तिपुत्रम् ॥४॥
Yadaa Samnidhaanam Gataa Maanavaa Me
Bhava-Ambhodhi-Paaram Gataas-Te Tadai[a-E]va |
Iti Vyan.jayan-Sindhu-Tiire Ya Aaste
Tam-Iidde Pavitram Paraashakti-Putram ||
உன்னடி பணிந்தோர் கடந்தனர் பிறவிப் பெருங்கடல் எனும் உண்மையை