Friday, October 19, 2012

For Comments only

A fellow Blogger became upset recently on seeing someone copying the Photos without seeking permission. Even the watermarked Photos are not spared. As far as I know, no blogger refuses permission if somebody is keen in copying some photos publshed earlier. Blogs are normally written after spending many hours in gathering information and taking pictures in person. Naturally, the time and money involved should be appreciated and acknowledged before making use of the available information freely through internet. The basic courtesy is missing and it thus amounts to stealing.

I happened to go through a blog in which my earlier post was simply copied along with pictures and pasted without acknowledgement. The wrong doer apologised later after receiving my mail. It can be ignored if the act is done unintentionally. But such mischiefs are often carried out  with least regard for the original work.

It is with the good intention that we invite all suggestions and criticism under "comments" section of each post. Healthy criticism is required to correct the wrong views/errors and it will always help to know what others think. Although there is an option to receive comments with restriction by passing through the Moderator, we invite viewers to publish their comments freely about the post.
Few months back, a call Taxi operator had written in the comments section of my post, all about the Tariff for different types of cars he operated. It had nothing to comment about the post. Hence I had to delete it immediately with a message that the platform was not meant for commercial usage
Quite recently, the comments section received the web address of a  local Newspaper , inviting the viewers to browse the same. In this case also, it had no reference to my post. If people think they can get free publicity through the comments section of the blogs, they are mistaken. Such entries will be deleted instantly. Moreover, it becomes a strong case to make use of the other option by passing all comments through the Moderator. If people are treated with dignity and open mind, the recepients should reciprocate suitably to honour the Trust reposed by the blogger. There could be some Bloggers who will not allow this unnecessary interception  and take steps legally to contain the encroachment..

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Unwanted Comparison

It is not new for the Government to  shield itself behind excuses of laughable nature so as to avoid disturbing questions on its failures. It is a known fact that the country lacks proper sanitation which can be one of the reasons attributed to the spreading of some diseases. But there can not be a satisfying answer if someone pulls up the Govt towards the inordinate delay in providing adequate toilet facilities even after 65 years of attaining independence! In fact Mr Bill Gates recently came forward to help those village dwellers who are left to remain backward by the various Governments of the past. While many things such as Mobile phones are extended to the villagers in the name of uplifting their lifestyle, very little has been done towards Hygiene  In other words, rural India is allowed to think about Mobile phones rather than the need for Toilets.

To make up the failure to meet the Rural needs, the Government comfortably takes shelter under irrelevant comparisons and try to divert the issue to be in the good books of the bosses. It is now the turn of the Central Minister saying that there are more Temples than toilets (vide Times of India dt 8th October,2012). This controversial statement has sparked off debate and invited criticism from Political parties and followers of the religion.

Can the Minister explain the Nation what prevented the Govts to  provide basic amenities to all villages for more than six decades? Can he vouch for good Hygiene in all the Urban areas which threatened at times with Dengue, Malaria and Cholera? Why is the dirty drainage overflowing at many places in the cities? What concrete steps have been taken for eradicating mosquitoes ? He must be aware of the huge piling up of garbages in the cities and burning them in open that causes breathing problems. Let him first prevent the entry of Industrial wastes into the rivers totally before trying to be evasive. Does the Government bother about the massive removal of sand from rivers for construction purposes? Why is that it remains silent when rocks are blasted to pave way for the rich to make more money. The Minister should try to stop indiscipline among various quarters instead of making statements taking for granted that it would not invite public ire.

Municipal bodies simply take over the land adjacent to places of worship and build Toilets. Due to horrible upkeep of the Toilets, people are left to use the surrounding area as open Toilets. It is also evident in places around Bus stations  and Train Terminals and people are allowed to move amidst the filthy places!!

Nowadays it has become a fashion among Politicians to unnecessarily tease the majority community in matters which are totally unconnected with religion. The comparison between the number of Temples and the number of Toilets in the country is deplorable. History has been proving time and again that such remarks can arise only from the Politicians to hide their inefficiency under the carpet. Faith to worship can not be compared with rural practices. Let the Govt solve it if it has the ability. Let them learn to respect  all religions equally and refrain from making irresponsible statements.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Restructure ASI

The Archaeological Survey of India's proposal to take over the Sthalasayana Perumal Temple at Mahabalipuram has few takers. The apprehensions are many and understandable. An archaeologist may be of the view that the take over will provide room for proper maintenance and preservation of the site by following their own standards. Unfortunately the ASI has not demonstrated its mission to meet the expectations. Maintaining a Temple is not similar to maintaining a park. ASI is known for putting up its blue board at the entrance, appoint some curators and watchmen at the site and seldom take care of the rituals.

The ASI should classify its activities based on the purpose for which the structures have been built. They can not equate a Fort/ Palace with places of worship. It is observed that both are treated alike as the organisation go by the age of the monument only. Hence the arrangements are similar whether it is a Fort or an excavated site or a Temple.

The next question that comes to our mind is whether ASI is keen on maintaining a garden or maintaining /preserving the site. A place of worship requires a garden inside its premises that  bears flowers, leaves,fruits etc which are used in the daily rituals of the Temple. What we find at ASI maintained Temples is a beautiful garden having a carpet of rich green grass all around and trees with unusable flowers. Though it may give a good look and please the visitors from abroad, it fails to serve the religious purpose for which the shrine stands.

An archaeologist may cite examples of Cambodian temples where the sites are protected from encroachment for a distance of 2 km. The situation here is different. If you try to remove the encroachments from the vicinity of the site, people gather and form an association and start protesting by blocking traffic on the road for which the Government succumbs. The politicians on the other hand are waiting for the opportunity to hit the central Government at the right time. They are also least bothered about the conduct of rituals and maintaining the Heritage.

Why not we propose to initiate the Education Dept to include lessons on Preservation of culture at school levels. The text books merely give information of who built the structure and when.  Is it not our duty to tell our children not to deface the walls and maintain the holiness of the shrine?  How many watchmen of the ASI maintained Temples have taken care to remain alert always and watch what others are doing? Are they not keen in going after the foreigners for their own benefits? Do they drive out the beggars who create nuisance to our guests from abroad?

It is very easy to advice not to use cement, steel etc for renovating the old monuments. The ASI should  desist wasting its resourses for maintaining the gardens inside the Temples. They should rather spend the money for plastering the structures with lime and extend support to other Historic Temples as well. They suggest not to use paints that may harm the structures. Instead they should demonstrate what chemical treatment can be given to root out the plants and trees that have come up on the structures. They should spell out how to kill the threatening trees in the towers of the shrines without disturbing the originality. ASI has a Science Lab in many regions. They can coordinate with the officials of the state board that governs the Temples by jointly arranging seminars with the help of reputed scholars in the field.

Without much talk on who has to govern the Temple at Mahabalipuram, decision has to be taken by which the glory of the Temple is preserved without compromising the traditional rituals.  Maintaining Red Fort and Mahabalipuram can not be one and the same. The ASI should take note of this before  taking over  any religious place in any part of India.Probably, restructuring the ASI to meet different needs is desirable at this stage.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Irresponsible Journalism

Most of the Newspapers , Magazines and TV Channels act irresponsibly forgetting the Primary commitment of being the guardian of the general public. Their reports should never give room for anybody to follow a wrong example. Unfortunately the media focuses the immoral acts and project them with graphics to attract the viewers. It becomes a rude shock to the entire nation once they view live telecast of a shameful act or a newspaper focussing unethical, illegal events and giving captions that appear to glorify the wrong doers.

A leading Newspaper has reported the extradition of an U.S. based antique dealer in connection with the theft of idols from the Temples of Tamilnadu. The paper has published a picture of the dealer with a caption, "God of all Smugglers". The reporter should mend his language that the prefix given to a smuggler is properly worded. "How he did it and "How was he caught?" should be left to the Police rather than revealing everything in public which can misguide many people to repeat the crime by altering the action plan . Above all, the Newspaper has given caption to the entire story as " India must auction all antiques, says Kapoor." Who is Kapoor to suggest auction of the treasures of India? Why is his unhealthy comments given so much importance by the Newspaper by making the irresponsible comment as the title of the story? The paper further reports that the dealer was fond of Idly,Vada, Sambar . Alas! What a downfall for Indian Journalism!
The public is not only interested in the capture of anti nationals but also to recover every item that has been smuggled out of the country. It is funny that the accused argues that his business to sell stolen idols was not illegal!  It merely exposes the loopholes in the Legal system of the World. If the law is not stringent, smugglers will take advantage of it and mere formation of economic offences wing will not serve in a big way.

HR&CE appears to be least interested in preventing the thefts when they plead shortage of manpower. All they do at present is the removal of Panchaloka idols from unsafe places and keep them safe somewhere away. One wonders what could be the role of the Union Government in preventing the thefts.

Each Temple should be given protection on par with the museums. A check list has to be issued to all executive officers of the temples to ensure the safety of the idols. A safety audit has to be conducted across the state to ensure the strength of the boundary wall, the main doors, locking arrangements, emergency lights and alarms , security at the main entrance, safety of ornaments  etc. Mock drills are be arranged to create awareness among the villagers to get training in case of any emergency.

Instead of publishing boxed items on crimes, the Press should rather come out with an action plan of calling for a corpus fund to establish all measures for the protection of antiques that belong to the Temples. We keep the fingers crossed as no newspaper is prepared to set an example for others to follow. The Journalists should therefore act sensibly and try to alert the public in a proper way instead of describing the offender as God. It may mean "Supremo" to the Press but not to the devotee.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Giving is so much fun"

Bill Gates, the billionaire philanthropist , who has donated a large chunk of his personal wealth to find  cures for neglected diseases says he wants to have a conversation with Indian billionaires on their views of philanthropy. During his current visit to India, he talked about his " Giving Pledge" programme which entailed wealthy people making a pledge to give away a majority of their wealth during their lifetime or in their will. He says, "I love to tell wealthy people how philanthropy is so much fun."

Philanthropy is not a new name in India. It has been there in the blood of each Individual regardless of the amount of wealth he/she possessed. The inscriptions on the walls of many temples support this view as ordinary citizens also donated to their might. Supporting the poorest of the poor was in their agenda. Childless couples left wills that would serve the deprived class of the society. Supply of Water and food was ensured during hot summer months for those who had to travel by foot. Free dispensaries were created to provide health care when needed.

Philanthropy had yet another route in India which ultimately helped many sections of the society. Emperors set examples in rebuilding Temples which provided employment to artisans and preserved Fine arts from extinction. Agricultural lands were gifted by them to those who served and maintained the temples. Poor vedic scholars were taken care of. The agenda did not stop only at ailing people. It looked forward by rebuilding the Nation as well. Philanthropy,according to our ancestors,  is not disaster management. It helps for the growth of each Individual by providing opportunities.
Our Agama Sastras have prescribed renovation of Temples once in twelve years followed by consecration. One can imagine the number of beneficiaries if this agenda is implemented at every place. People now talk about "reinvent the toilet". If we look at the root cause of the plight, the failure of the Government in improving the standards of the poor should be the primary reason. Had we followed the steps of our ancestors in serving the society in phases over regular intervals, the present situation of 69% of people in rural India deficate in the open would not have arised. The Nation should admit the fact that it kept a blind eye and allowed the problem to grow.

It may be recalled that we highlighted the initiative taken by the members of the family in 2009 to build a Shiva Temple at their ancestral village. Regardless of living at different places of the globe, they united together and funded for this cause. Their ultimate aim was to bring glory to their village. The two year project has been completed and the consecration ceremony was carried out as per Agama sastras to the complete satisfaction of the devotees. The free choultry ,which was in a state of repair, was renovated to feed all those who attended the function. The beneficiaries included masons, carpentors,electricians, sculptors, painters, cooks, drivers, suppliers of wood,vegetables,flowers,fruits etc, servant- maids, Thevaram Oduvars, Vedic/Agama pundits who live without much assistance.Hence the living standards of such people are bound to improve gradually.

Each family should set a pledge in their own way to earmark a portion of their income towards charity. An affordable percentage of the income may be set aside to join holy causes. Let the first spending from our purse in each month go to a good cause. People may call it as "fun" but we prefer just to derive satisfaction out of it. Let us revisit our tradition and redo what had been practised for ages.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spare the Temple Please

 There existed a "Swayambu" (Self-formed) Lingam amidst a Palm Tree forest along with His consort, Sathyaambika.  It is also the place where Sibi Chakravarthi , a compassionate King offered his flesh in a bid to save a dove which took asylum when attacked by an eagle. The emperor came forward to accept the challenge posed by the eagle that he should offer flesh equal to that of the dove. When he was unable to do it, he finally decided to offer his eyes to keep up his word. Lord Shiva gave dharshan to the king and blessed him. Dove is called "Puraa" in Tamil and Palm tree is referred as "Panai" . Both these words merged together and the place was called "Puravar Panangaatur" Thirugnanasambandar's Thevaram Hymns refer the place with the above name. As the word "Nethram" in Sanskrit means eyes, the Lord is known as Nethrodharaka. This Temple of Panangaateeswara(Thalavanesewara) was built by Rajendra Chola ,about 1200 years ago. Since Sun God has also worshipped the Lord here, Sun's rays fall on the presiding deity and later on the Goddess on the first day of Tamil month Chithirai. Many people pray the deity to get cure from eye-ailments.
            As we enter The Temple through the Rajagopuram, we find the flagpost, Nandi and balipeetam in front of the sanctum that faces east . The outer Prakaram has a small shrine for Ganapathy and a "Sthala vrukksha" i.e., the twin Palm trees under which a Shiva Linga is seen. Shanmuka's sannadhi is close by and on the north prakaram we find Sathyaambika's shrine ,which is on an elevated platform. The villagers repose huge faith on the Goddess as she stands for Truth and nobody can violate it for the fear of getting punished.
          Sixteen inscriptions of this Temple have been documented . They talk about the endowments made by he Kings for maintaining the Temple. Now the Temple is under the control of HR & CE dept of the Govt. of Tamilnadu.
           In order to facilitate the work on National Highway 45 C , that connects Vikravandi with Thanjavur, NHAI officials have taken measurements enroute wherein lies the heart of the Temple, The Sanctum. Markings have been made by them on the walls of the Temple ,reinforcing the threat to the Temple complex. Representations have been made from all quarters and request to divert the route to spare the Temple has been sent to NHAI, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and HR&CE dept for their immediate action. (Pl. see report from "The Hindu"dated 24th March.)The Photos taken by the undersigned during the visit on 24th March,2012 are uploaded here. With prayers on the lips, everyone hopes that necessay orders will be passed to spare the ancient Temple from being pulled down.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mahadev and Martins

Many times good inputs flow into our ears from our friends and relatives.Only then we come to understand the significance of like minded people around us. We call the group  as "sathsang". They share whatever they have enjoyed and experienced . A true devotee does not stop there. He wants others also to experience the same bliss. Saint Thirumoolar went further by saying that he wished the entire Universe to be blessed in the same way. I have great pleasure in thanking my dear friend Shri Mani who has forwarded an article published recently by The Indian Express.I appreciate his desire to share the inspiring article among devotees who might have missed reading the Newspaper. The true story from the article,captioned as "The only Indian Temple built by an Englishman" written by Sangram K Parhi is retold here without reproducing the text entirely.

Agar Malwa is located in Bhajapur District of Madhya Pradesh. The Indore - Kota Highway passes through the picturesque region, surrounded by mountains and lakes. It was the capital of Parmar Kingdom during 10th century. It is also known for its red soil which can not be found even 1-2 Km outside the town. It was also a cantonment when the British ruled India. Lt Col Martin,who  stayed here with his wife in 1880 s had to move to Afghan to participate in the war, leaving Mrs Martin at Agar Malwa. Although he used to write to his wife regularly , he could not convey after some time because of the grim situation at the war front. Fear gripped Mrs Martin and she could do nothing except keeping her fingers crossed.

One day , Mrs Marin was riding her horse and came close to the Temple of Baijnath Mahadev which was in a dilapidated condtion. She heard sounds of Mantras chanted over there along with noises of conches at the time of "arti". As she was absorbed by the Divine atmosphere, she alighted from the horse and went inside the Shrine. She was delighted to see the prayers offered to Shri Shankar Mahadev. On seeing the sorrowful face of Mrs Martin, the priests enquired her about the reason for her grief. She narrated them the cause of her worry. The priests consoled her by saying that Lord Shiva always saves His devotees from difficulties and advised her to chant the Mantra "Om Namah Shivaya" for eleven days.

Mrs Martin prayed Lord Mahadev with great belief by chanting the Mantra every day for the safe return of her husband. She even promised that she would rebuild the Temple if her prayers were answered. She was delighted to receive a letter on the tenth day from her husband. Readers will definitely admire the portion of the text of the letter published by Indian express. The letter, brought by a messenger from Afghan battlefield read as follows:

" I was regularly sending you letters from the battlefield but then suddenly the Pathans surrounded us. I thought there was no way to escape. Suddenly I saw an Indian Yogi with long hair,wearing a tiger skin carrying a Trident. He had an awe-inspiring personality and he started wielding his weapon against the Afghans who ran away from the field in fright. With His grace,what was certain death , our bad times turned into victory. Then the great Yogi told me that I should not worry and that he had come to rescue me because he was very pleased with my wife's prayers."

On seeing the letter, Mrs Marin fell at the feet of Baijnath Mahadev at the Temple and sobbed and tears rolled over her cheeks with gratitude. Lt Col Martin returned after few weeks and she told him the entire story. The couple donated Rs 15000 in 1883 for rebuilding the Temple. The slab in this Temple still carries the information engraved on it. The Martins who became staunch devotees of Lord Shiva went back to England with a determination of building a Temple for Lord Shiva at their place and spend remaining part of their life. And they were blessed.