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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The demolition spree of the National Highways Authority of India seems to be unabated. In the name of widening the road between Vikravandi and Thanjavur (NH 45 C), it threatened the Temple at Panayapuram during last year. Though the Temple belongs to the Chola period and sung by Thirugnanasambandar some 1500 years ago in Thevaram Hymns, the NHAI turned a deaf year on requests made by the locals and other devotees to spare the Temple. It went ahead and sent the surveyors to make marks which happened to be well within the Temple premises. This was an unbearable rude shock not only for the devotees but also to those who love our rich Heritage. Thiruvathirayan Thiruvarut Sabha swung into action by registering an online complaint with NHAI and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's cell. It also wrote letters to HR&CE and the press about the need to halt the proposed demolition. CM's cell acknowledged the complaint and routed the same to the Chief engineer of the project,based in Thanjavur. The locals also met Villupuram Collector and pleaded for his intervention. God 's mercy has finally saved the Temple and the talks on the proposed demolition got faded.
This Highway passes through a tiny village called Manampadi near Cholapuram,between Thiruppanandal and Cholapuram. Sri Naganathaswami Temple at Manampadi was renovated by Rajendra Chola and it is known for its marvellous sculptures. Since the Temple is not far away from the road, the NHAI may be of the opinion to grab it without any difficulty.
Now it is time again for all devotees to raise up and protest the step taken by the dept. HR&CE dept of the Govt of Tamilnadu should lead the fight and save the Heritage structure. We have already lodged an online complaint to NHAI and request others to follow suit. The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister may use her good offices to impress the Central Govt to drop the proposal.
Among various topics where the People express different opinion, the recently read topic on" which gives Peace-- Service to Temples or Service to Human beings" may be shared here for those who want more clarity on this subject. The Magazine which invited opinion on this matter announced small Prizes for the writers.
Those who support the theory of "Service to People is service to God" fail to understand the purpose for which a Temple stands. They should not forget that it is a great platform to unite people regardless of their caste or creed. All are equal in front of God and Temple worship is meant to create this feeling. All services to God are routed through different sections of devotees. In other words, the beneficiary in all services is undoubtably the Human being.
While considering the renovation , the argument goes as if the satisfaction remains for a short period. For that matter, no one can name services which grant Peace eternally except the one which is offered to God. When the renovation work is taken up, many artisans get jobs and fine arts are thus protected. Temples are known to take care of musicians,dancers, Vedic scholars and the Temple lands were the main source of feeding the poor.
King Raja Raja Chola had nominated 400 dancers, 220 supporting artists and 50 Thevaram oduvars for the Big Temple at Thanjavur. Since the Temple had more than 1000 attendants, the King appointed barbers and laundry men and inscribed the names of those who served for the Temple. Temples were the breeding point for Arts and stood tall for providing life support to various sections of Public. That is why Service to God is considered as noblest in the world although some professions are compared to this only because some lives are saved while in distress. On the other hand, Service to Temples is not a short living phenomenon.
Look at the Noon-meal scheme at many Temples. Feeding the poor devotees is considered as the Holiest service in our Puranas. Even those who wish to feed the poor choose to do it through the Temples as the service can continue even in their absence. By taking the job directly, the exhaustive nature of the noble cause is restricted and becomes selective.
There may be an opinion that planting trees, and digging tanks are apt in the services of Human beings. Those who advocate this theory fail to remember that all these activities are imbedded in maintaining the Temple and its premises. Lands were gifted to create Nandavanams having different species of Trees and preserving the water table.
Rare species of Plants which are not normally grown elsewhere are planted inside the Temples and preserved . Some such plants are given the status of "Sthala Vruksham".
In this context, we humbly state that we are blessed to serve God and during this process, we never missed the opportunity to serve the downtrodden priests and other workers of rural Temples. At the end of the day, all our services reach the Human beings only in the name of God. Developing the Nandavanam,Preserving the Temple Tank,feeding the poor, helping the senior priests for their meritorious service creating awarness about our Heritage are part of our prgramme which,for sure, fall in line with our principles and derive peace.
Whenever a Popular person does something good or bad , there are thousands to follow him. If he tosses up a cigarette and catches it right at his mouth, it carries a "stylish" tag among his admirers and people may even attempt to do the act, claiming that they do it without a single failed attempt and aim to repeat it for winning a guineas record. Many of us have seen youngsters repeating the bike rides shown on TV ads with the front wheel lifted up! Though there is a statutory warning in TV ads that these acts are carried out by experts and should never be attempted.these guys are shown stopping the bikes at the edge of a steep rock,beyond which is a deep valley. Imagine the fate of the person (may be one in a million) attempting to do it and inviting death or serious injury. Hence it is obvious that statutory warnings help very little. Writing about the danger on liquor bottles and cigarette boxes does not appear to draw the attention of those who fall prey to such habits.
Media coverage of harmful acts add fuel to the fire. Almost the entire Media is playing a double standard by writing/showing the hazards on one hand and inviting ads on the other hand. A Newspaper which joined to condemn the atrocities on women announced a contest recently on "Valentine Day" . It is known for publishing pictures taken on the day every year. It should realise its responsibility to the society and refrain from encouraging youngsters in the path that may mislead them.
Religion is nothing but the one which guides to show the right path. People may interpret the word as they wish. In India , cricket is called a "religion" and a cricketer is called "God". If you raise your voice against such descriptions, you are labelled as a fundamentalist and an intolerant person. It is not known why a sport which makes the players as millionaires should be described as a religion. It may delight the viewers but does it serve the mankind?
There were times when an actor who did the roles of the mythological characters was deemed as God! When the film industry opened the gateways for advanced photography and enhanced Technology , it could only help them in scenes that involved Horror& Romance leaving the value and the moral of the story far behind. The messages that used to reach the people some thirty years back are no longer there. Perhaps they may also describe this as a great transformation and call it as a Religion that delights!
Then came the situation when controversial topics were chosen to remain different from others. People remained silent and will continue to do so as long as the tolerance limit is not breached. When the showman accuses the society and lashes at the faith of the people, he may imagine that he has the freedom to express his views. The society rubbishes his views even when he says that the Gods we worship are nothing but stones. If he rubs salt to the injury, people loose their patience and start opposing his views. He is mistaken if he thinks that People do not exhibit tolerance and harmony. On the other hand he should maintain dignity and stand as an example for harmonious relationship. There is no point in blaming the public after causing irreparable damage to their belief.
There are many ways to help the World if a person is enjoying an image among his followers. Unfortunately neither the media not the Political system is ready to make use of the benefit of being popular. The orientation towards money and evergreen greediness make them deviate from the noble path, unmindful of what happens to others. The code of conduct is mandatory for anybody who approach the public in any form. Any violation to the path may irk the citizens on some day or the other and the price becomes very heavy. Discipline is underlined by all religions as of primary importance that adds value to life. It may otherwise be considered as a boundary that protects people from indulging in wrongful activities. Even the routine is prescribed by Shastras to engage the people well inside the boundary. Poking the nose into other's boundary tends to affect the unity in diversity. The need of the hour is to mind one's own business.