Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Are we inhuman?

                                                                                                             Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia image

It is unfortunate that we know only to celebrate and seldom implement the objectives of the days for which they stand for. National Safety day is becoming like any other day of celebration. When the curtains are down at the end of the day, the message is slowly going off the mind leaving the day as unimportant. It is true that the day is arranged in such a way that the message is pushed across the country. Alas! The follow up is missing from the very next day.

We talk big about safety at home and also at workplace. Road safety is another important area which is forgotten after the event. Is safety really aims to protect human beings only? It need not be true though it largely revolves around human beings only. Are we going to remain as silent spectators when animal safety is ignored?

When the country considers cow as holy, how does it permit cruelty caused intentionally to them? No concrete step is taken to prevent the animals from being sent to slaughter houses. How does the highway patrol keep a blind eye even if they come across a truck carrying too many animals tied with each other in standing posture and delivered at the slaughter houses after a very long journey? While blue cross objects for the killing of mad dogs even if they had bitten many people of a locality, the same yardstick of mercy is not applied when poor animals are loaded in trucks and sent for slaughtering. We do have a society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. It is strange that they too express inability to react when their services are badly required.

Few days back, a cow fell into an open well of about 15 feet depth in Chennai . The cow’s cry was heard by the passers-by and they could not do anything to lift it out. As the well was dry, the animal suffered many fractures all over the body and succumbed inside the well. Fire service was pressed but they refused to remove the dead cow out of the well by saying that their job was not to remove the dead animals.( Will they not remove the body of a person floating in a pond or trapped under the debris?) Then the search was on to find the owner of the cow. Nobody came forward to claim as the owner as the removal would cost them. The press could only report the whole event and no step was taken to remove the body till next morning. How can the well be kept open without a parapet wall around it? What action the civic body proposes to take against the act of negligence? Manuneedhi Chola was there to hear the Cow's cry. Who is there now to hear her when she is about to die?  

The neglect continues everywhere and costs many lives unnecessarily. There are many Temples engulfed with thick vegetation that become the home for poisonous snakes. Unmindful of the danger ahead, the priests enter the sanctum and perform the puja. It is not uncommon to see King Cobras encircling the deity at rural Temples surrounded by paddy and sugarcane fields. Thick bushes are to be removed to keep the place safer. Who calls for Temple safety and prevention of snakebites?

It is time now to think beyond human safety pertaining to homes, roads and offices. Be it Humans, animals or birds; Let us be Human in the true sense. It is kindness that makes Humans different. We come across animals showing kindness to other species too. Can we take a reverse move and become animals by not extending mercy? We cannot afford to become inhuman as it is a shameful act that brings discredit to the entire race.             

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Solutions through Short cuts ?? Not always!

When the World undergoes many changes, the people are made to accept them either reluctantly or  halfheartedly. It thus alters the life style, priorities and belief. It makes them move fast and worry more about their future. Those who stick to the old ways find it hard to prolong and feel as if they are left far behind. Looking for short cuts is one of the methods adopted to satisfy themselves. Worry and fear are two terms related to each other. Long term planning is probably the key to fear as uncertainty is seen everywhere. " What if it happens..." is the most fearful question today that frightens everybody. " How do I get out of it" is the next thought which arises instantly. The search starts to get answer to the question, " Which can give solace to my problems" . It does not stop by asking a few friends. It goes on searching with all other providers who can throw light on the subject, be it astrologers, magazines, internet etc. Eyes are broadly kept open to see what others are doing. It becomes immaterial if those acts are right or wrong. No verification is applied to get authentic information on the mind boggling issues.

Religion is also no exception to this kind of changes. The more the problems, the more religious you are. Ideally speaking this should not be the case. It should be borne in mind that religion is not just to prescribe cures to our ills. It rather prescribes the ideal path to live peacefully and attain the ultimate goal of freedom from rebirth. The lives of our ancestors itself are classic examples of how a person should lead a clean life. Though it may appear that it is difficult to follow their approach, any dilution of the system is not certainly going to show us an alternate path. Some people may criticise it as non flexibility. We may try to alter it but never succeed fully as most of the activities set by the Creator can never be changed.   It is as silly as trying to reduce the child's stay inside the mother's womb from ten months to six months!

Normally we rely on many excuses to  justify our actions. Time is redoubtably an important factor which plays the dominant role in our life. To make it available in meeting our routine is still in our hands. In those days people used to get up at 4 A.M. and  go to bed at 9 P.M. Now we see people wake upto midnight by watching Television and get up on the next day at 8 A.M thereby losing atleast three hours in the morning which can enhance the knowledge as well as the body. Naturally the activities such as meditation , Yoga, execise, rituals etc move away from the list of priority.
Eyebrows are raised when you talk about the ideal way of life and worship. Knowing fully that we deviate from the set path, we look for alternatives and short cuts. Those who run out of patience may even skip the time tested path and lay their own.  Moderates expect the religious leaders to spell out flexible procedures to suit their convenience. They fail to understand that nobody is authorised to change the procedures regardless of the present day changes in life style. By saying this, one may think that it is nothing but rigidity. Others may even think that the in-adaptability will be detrimental to the religion. At this stage, we should not forget that we are supposed to carry the principles forward to the possible extent and leave the rest to God. When we rely and obey the Chief Justice to spell his verdict, why the same yardstick is not applied towards the Almighty who is The Supreme Judge.

It was when I published a post in my Tamil blog, ( aadalvallan.blogspot.in ) about the need to discontinue the use of packed milk for doing Abishekam at Temples, some readers replied by citing the " non availability " of Cow's milk , straight from the udder. This may be the case with Metros as the Municipal bodies discourage the animals to be in the residential areas due to the fact that the cattle shed may be the breeding ground for mosquitoes and even clog the drains with cow-dung cakes. But then, it is not yet difficult to get it from some distance away from your Homes. The fact remains that we wish everything to arrive at our door step, we are prepared to walk down only upto the corner of the street to buy milk sachet from a shop and offer the same to the Temples. This is quite easy for every one and the only problem is that we fail to notice the contents of the pack. It contains stabilizers and thickening agents and supplied after undergoing the process of heating and cooling.  As we do not take the extra initiative to get Cow's milk straight from the udder, we pretend as if the cows are extinct from the Metros in order to justify our act.

Assuming that there is a scarcity of Cow's milk at a particular area, the only alternate way is to offer other materials meant for abishekam. Kindly remember that cow's milk may be diluted but never adulterated fo this purpose. If nothing is available, mere water alone is sufficient to do the Puja followed by archana with Bilva leaves and flowers. Non availability does not permit us to offer any adulterated stuff that we get easily. We should not try to justify that the Lord will pardon us as the act is not done unintentionally. It will simply amount to outsmart our ancestors who dedicated their whole lives for the prosperity of the entire Universe.                         

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A True Wish

It has become a fashion to celebrate everything that comes on the way. Knowing  pretty well that many such things are done artificially, we continue to do that without hesitation. Wishing a peson or an act should come from the bottom of heart as a true reflection of our thought. It is to be admitted that our wishes are just to meet the precedent set earlier. Dumping the mail box of a person with wishes in liew of an event may yield satisfaction for a few minutes only. This practice starts at the very beginning of the year. More than the sender and the receiver, the actual beneficiary is the communication network provider who makes huge money through SMS  and phone calls.

The traders leave no stone unturned as they announce discounts (?) for various products. People are made to believe that it is the rare call which everyone can not afford to miss. Hence the seller takes advantage of the situation to push off the stocks, be it new or old! A car dealer advised to go for exchange of old car with a new one as the old one becomes older by one year once it enters January and losing the resale value accordingly. He conveniently hides the fact that the new one bought (through exchange) will also become one year old during that period.  
The past few decades had witnessed people visiting various Temples even at wee hours of the New Year Day. It is surprising how a change of this type can occur when we used to see Temples kept open throughout the night only on  Maha Shivarathri. Buses are also operated for the convenience of the devotees to visit the Temples on the night of New Year Day. Even if the departure from the age old culture is tolerated, it is hard to assimilate people opting for liquor thinking it as the only way to enjoy and celebrate the day. Even the Govt aims to sell liquor worth one crore!

The daylong programmes on TV mostly orient on movies so as to please the youngsters. This segment seems to be thrilled when the actors wish them on New Year day. But then no one knows the intake at the end of the day. The corporate too plays a role by issuing diaries and calenders on this occasion though the fact remains that very few people have the habit of writing the diary.

What could be the apt way to move about? Each day is a new one at its dawn. We start the day by scheduling as many events as we can. Sometimes we fail to conform to our wish list and the only option is to postpone it to a later date to suit our convenience. Everyday starts with a hope that we will live to meet the agenda. On one fine morning no fresh agenda could be made as the person is no more to plan further. This is the fact of life and we seldom realise it seriously. We are made to sink deeply in the monetary world with sugar coated capsules all around to be consumed.

How many of us realise at the end of the day that we have lost one day in our life? When we look back, most of us may feel sorry for the scant respect we have shown for our life. It has gone for ever. Do we standup atleast now to correct ourselves and reconstruct our activities? Do we build a passion to do good things in the remaining part of our life? Our ancestors advised us to cleanse our thoughts on daily basis as the process would be laborious and impossible if allowed to be unattended.

The oath may be simple, realistic and functionally achievable. The self audit at the end of the year should reveal the progress made and the unfinished objectives. It may be difficult to satisfy  everybody in this world. No one expects the objectives to be too stretched. At the same time one must be able to vouch that he has not caused any harm to the society in any form. It is not just enough to wish everyone to be happy. Let us touch our hearts and say that we have never hindered the happiness of any person even unknowingly.

Having said that keeping ourselves away from wrong thoughts that could ruin others, we can not stop at this point. Even some animals and birds do not harm us. Do we wish to live like them? Are we here just to admire at the world and share our thoughts without initiating any action from our end? Creating awareness alone is not important. How far we have set ourselves as examples for others is much more important. Let our actions, be it charity or anything start at Home. It does not matter if it has very few followers in the beginning. A day will come when we will be thrilled to see more people join us to do things in a better way. What could be a better wish than this?        

Friday, November 1, 2013

Abandoned Murthis ?

Veedhi Vidangan
There are Government Departments to preserve our Art & Culture. Yet there seems to be no well defined Policy to protect the monuments from extinction. Yes. There is some overlapping of activities of Archaeological Dept and the Dept of Art and Culture although the fundamental scope of them is almost same. The water tight compartments between them clearly signals inaction of either of them. At the end of the day we simply look at our monuments that await immediate attention. When we go through newspaper reports that many archaeological sites are " missing " we naturally infer that it is because of the callous attitude shown by the officials.   Art and culture should not stop at Music, Dance etc. It should  include Temple arts as well.

Keezha Korkai
The state HR & CE dept is another player which has to maintain the Temples coming under its control. But the fact remains that the dept extends only 20% of the budgeted expenditure for renovation. The Temples in rural areas find it extremely difficult to get donors to complete the work.  Renovation work is left in the middle for many years and the Murthis are housed inside a thatched make-shift Temple. As per Agamas, the temporary arrangement should not exceed six months. Unfortunately, this requirement is seldom met due to the above reason. At some places, the neglected Murthi is looked after by a single devotee.

We come across Murthis standing lonely amidst paddy fields , yet ,looked after by sincere devotees.  These Temples, once enjoyed good patronage have lost all residents around them and slowly became pat of the nearby paddy fields. The one at Veedhi Vidangan near Thiruvarur may be cited here as an example. There are no houses near the Temple as the nearest village is about a KM away from it. The Temple is said to be as ancient as Thiruvarur Temple and the place is therefore called Veedhi Vidangan, named after Thygaraja Murthi of Thiruvarur.

We take the road from Mankkal Aiyampettai towards Srivanchiyam and take a diversion before Poongulam. The road is narrow and tall "Dharbai" plant embraces us when we go past them. At the end of the road we are forced to walk by foot and get into the paddy field. We need to carefully walk on the narrow pavement between the fields and cross the distance of say 200 metres. Amidst the mushroom growth of thorns and other wild plants, there stands a tall Lingam under the sky. All attempts to cover the Murthi from Sun and rain have not yielded desired results completely. Few devotees from nearby village come and worship Veedhi Vidanga Murthi. They have dreams to build a Temple at the same site for this Murthi which, no doubt, is beyond their reach. Since the Panchayat administration is yet to provide a good road upto the Temple, no concrete work can start at the moment.

The destruction/ dilapidation would have started long back at these places. Had the locals paid immediate attention, the wreckage might have been avoided. The threat from pupul Trees on towers and vimanams are also emergency calls which have to be attended on war footing. The deep rooted plants have caused considerable damage to the old structures at many places. The Temple at Thirumangalam is an example that falls under this category. Now the only option left is to dismantle the whole structure and reassemble them by the assigned numbers. Naturally it takes couple of years to complete the job. If the funds are  not sufficient, the work is left in the middle.The situation is same at Keezha Korkai near Kumbakonam.

Nathan Koil
Having waited patiently fo many years, some devotees choose the option of providing a cover for the lonely Linga Murthi which was abandoned for several decades.  The huge Murthi near Pazhayarai is housed in a shed and a devotee comes every day to perform puja. It should attract the attention of Philanthropists so that a Temple can be built over there.Pazhayarai, the seat of Cholas, now witnesses abandoned Murthis which shows the negligence of the Government and helplessness of the locals. What is the point in writing essays on inscriptions when we do not have the will to protect them? There lived a hunter called Kannappa in the thick forest area of Sri Kalahasthi. He was shocked to find the Lingamurthi alone when he visited the shrine for the first time. He thought that wild animals could harm the Muthi and therefore  kept vigil continuously for six nights. He also thoght that the Lord might be hungry as there was nobody to offer Him food. Do any of us have the compassion of the unparalleled Kannappa ? Perhaps that is the reason why we see many Murthis abandoned.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Temple Tourism

World Tourism Day is celebrated on Sept 27th every year with much focus on the tourist destinations which are already on the map. In the present day context, Tourism is not just confined to Beaches, Resorts, Hill stations, Places of Historical imporatance etc. It even covers Medical Tourism, Temple Tourism and so on. Thus the word gets wider meaning than before.In fact, the United Nations has declared the day with a message, "Tourism and Water- Protecting our common future" towards sustainable Tourism.

 When we talk about Temple Tourism, we do not seem to create new destinations of equal interest. Tourism Dept has also tried to woo the Pilgrims on freshly introduced tours like "Navagraha Tour & Shakthi  Dharshan" But it needs to be enlarged to each district to promote internal Tourism which will attract visitors from other states and abroad later. At the same time, care must be taken to sustain the Tours.

Kumbakonam, for instance has got great potential to boost Temple Tourism in the region. Good Hotels with modern amenities have come up in the town which attracts pilgrims round the year. Besides the cluster of Temples in the Temple belt of the erstwhile Chola Kingdom, it also offers craft centres at Swamimalai, Darasuram and Nachiyar Koil. This area is also culturally important for its brass vessels,lamps,icons and silk sarees that stand witness to its living heritage.

Cholas paid lot of attention to develop the cultural activities of the region as Pazhayarai, located about 10 km from Kumbakonam was one of their capitals. Huge Temples at Kumbakonam, Thiruvidaimarudur, Thirubuvanam, Darasuram,Patteswaram,Thiruvarur, Thirunageswaram are some examples to understand the dedication of the Kings.

While the whole region is considered as the Divine Seat, it is therefore unimaginable to select only a few among the cluster of Temples. Yet, the visitors are not guided properly to undertake a tour that covers a particular route by fairly covering almost every Temple on the way. The "Navagraha Tour" covers nine Temples between Vaitheeswaran Koil ( 50 Km from Kumbakonam) ,and Thingalur (36 km), both are on the opposite directions.The only purpose is to cover these Temples within two days and offer "Parihara Poojas". It is sad that Temples close to these destinations such as Thiruvaiyaru and Thirupazhanam are left out and many Temples on the way such as Thiruvidaimarudur,Thirubuvanam,Mayiladuthurai,  Sirkazhi, Thiruvarur and Mannargudi are skipped !

Several Lakhs of Pilgrims gather at Maha Maham Tank on Masi Magam day to have Holy bath at the Tank.How many of them look at Shodasa Lingam Temples built around the Tank by Sri Govindha Deekshidar? How many Pilgrims from other districts know about the Temples for Banapureeswarar, Abimukeswarar,Amrutha Kalasa Nathar and Koneswarar which are associated with the Sthala Puranam of Kumbakonam?

Does the Tourism Dept operate a City Tour to cover major Temples of Kumbakonam Town? Why can't they customise and split the  "Navagraha Temple Tour" into many parts so as to cover many important Temples enroute? For example, a tour from Kumbakonam may cover Thirubhuvanam and Thiruvidaimarudur,Thirukkodikaaval, Thirumangalakkudi Kathiramangalam, and Thirumanjeri on the way to Sooryanar Koil and Kanjanur.Similarly, a tour to Thingalur may cover Thiruvalanchuzhi,Swamimalai, Patteswaram,Pazhayarai,Nallur, Thirupazhanam and Thiruvaiyaru on the way. Likewise the region is covered reasonably well if the tours are properly planned .

Travel desks of major Hotels in Kumbakonam project the often visited places of Darasuram and Tanjore Big Temples. Will it not delight the visitors if places such as Gangai Konda Cholapuram, Thirupanandal, Cholapuram, Manampadi are covered in their iterinary? The Hotels may distribute brochures about different packages so that visitors will derive more information than they initially gathered. It will definitely boost the Temple Tourism in the region where agriculture is the only source of income.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Himalayan Catastrophe

Kedarnath Shrine -Then   Courtesy:Indian Express

Kedarnath Temple is one of the Holiest Hindu Shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is also one among the group of Jyothirlingas in the country. Saints Thirugnanasambandar and Sundarar have sung Thevaram Hymns on the Deity of the Temple way back in the seventh century. The Temple, located at a height of over 11000 feet was worshiped by Pandavas. Adi  Shankara is believed to have revived the Shrine.

Kedarnath Shrine -Now(after the floods)  Courtesy:Indian Express

The unprecedented disaster that struck Uttarkhand had literally swept away many villages. The devastating floods and and landslides made the job of Crisis Management Team which consists of civilian and Military officials difficult. Over 50000 people have been evacuated and many thousands are reported to be stranded. Since the weather continues to be hostile, rescue operations in the flood-ravaged region poses challenge.  Hundreds of bodies were seen carried away by by fast currents on June 17. Many people had to save themselves by clinging to the trees, climbing the nearby hills to stay put for more than two days without food or water. The already "fragile eco-sensitive zone" had to witness a "Himalayan tsunami"

More than a million people come during "Char dham" season that covers Yamunotri,Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. They trek for 14 km from Gauri Kund to reach Kedarnath. Pilgrims staying in some 60 dharmashalas were simply washed away at the onslaught of gushing water and volley of debris  Sparing only the sanctum and the adjoining sections of Kedarnath Temple, most structures in its vicinity had been washed away.

It is true that concerns expressed on soil degradation and disturbance to the natural ecology and destabilisation of hill slopes caused by the construction of hydel projects along the Bhagirathi and Alaknanda had fallen on deaf ears. Indiscriminate tinkering with Nature has caused the calamity. The proposal to remove the buildings and other structures obstructing the natural drainage lines has not been implemented. The environmentalists describe the death and damage as a man-made disaster. Deforestation has already reduced the forest cover of the region by about 30% . It is reported that Himalayan ecosystems have experienced faster rates of warming in the last 100 years and more than the European Alps or other mountain ranges of the world. Anil Joshi, Director of the Himalayan Environment Studies and Conservation Organisation said," Nothing happens in our country before a disaster and after a disaster." Last week's floods have sounded an alarm bell again.

Thousands of villagers in this region earn during the season who line the entire route from Gauri kund to Kedarnath ,selling umbrellas,canes,raincoats,water bottles,snacks etc. They carry the children and the old on their back. These villagers who fall below the poverty line have to wait for the resumption of the yatras. It looks certain that it may take nearly a year to restore the Kedarnath shrine to its past glory. Will the Government and the People take up the restoration work immediately and complete it before the winter so that the "Char Dham" Yatra may restart by next April?   

Monday, June 17, 2013

Set Basics Right

Life is full of expectations. The expectations are basically common for all . As and when we proceed along with several stages in the life span, we wish to meet those expectations as desired. These include good education, a timely wedding, arrival of babies, enjoying life with children and grand children and so on. Only when we extend the modest wishes, the greed starts to dominate. But you can not sacrifice the basics in life to attain huge wealth and honour. It simply converts you as a slave and you fall prey to the deviated agenda.
Somehow we are stuck up somewhere in our journey due to non fulfillment of the natural order. Unknowingly, the aged parents in the family also find themselves locked in the middle . Naturally they rely on the Supreme Power of God to lift them  and their children from where they had deviated. Perhaps the deviation is due to the modern thinking and the decisions taken. In such cases, a calm and quite revision of their decision can make them realise their mistakes.  

The Natural order is so divine and each one is left to honour it . If you look at the rituals conducted during marriages and Pregnancy, the welfare of the individual is prayed for the welfare of the Mankind. Being a worthless person in the society is meaningless and one has to pray God to grant the genuine wishes.

No doubt, the children of this generation need lot of attention from the parents. The challenge faced by the parents has increased many times in recent years. Even a small error causes irreparable damage in life. The kids are in the world of gadgets and 9 out of 10 children are tend to go out of control of the parents. Hence the role of parents in the modern world is much more than ever. But that is part of our life and it should not give room for excuses for not upholding the basics. Upbringing of children is definitely a challenge which calls for strict discipline and it should make people more focused than remaining as  a mere spectator.

One may recall a popular prayer in Tamil wherein the Goddess is prayed to bless with boons that number sixteen. The wish list includes good wife and children amidst long life, wealth and good company. When the list mentions about the child, the prefix is too careful in asking for a child who will not deviate from the set path. It means that the blessing is thus sought not only to the excitement of the family but for the society as well. A Sanskrit verse goes one step further in seeking the blessing of Lord Shiva. It prays for the child who would become a Devotee of the Lord and if not, it would be better to take him away from the World.

Questions are raised on the significance of getting married  and becoming Parents thereafter. The explanations may be based on Vedas and Shastras. If you want good people to remain in the society and good things to prevail, good souls should unite and their children will have to bear the torch that can throw light to the society. In a Nutshell, one may understand how each one of us is committed to the well being of the society failing which only jungle law will prevail and a civilized society will vanish.

The society will flourish when people respect and follow the guidelines religiously and refrain from indulging in criminal acts. It is only with this thought our forefathers had framed a religious discipline keeping aside all luxuries aside for the benefit of the society. Our young generation may take it forward and create a better world that can foster brotherhood , tolerance and Philanthropy.Let us turn back and set our basics right.