Sunday, February 1, 2015

Maa Kaali

1.Yaadhumagi nindrai , Kali ,
Yengum nee nirainthai
Theethu nanmayellam , Kali,
Deiva leelai yandro

2.Bhoothamainthum aanai Kali ,
POrigal anaithum aanai,
Bodhamagi nindari Kali,
Poriyai vinji nindari

3.Inbamagi vittai , Kali,
Yen ulle pugundhai,
Pinbu ninnai yallal Kali,
Pirithu naanum undo

4.Anbu alithu vittai , Kali,
Aanmai thanthu vittai,
Thunbam neeki vittai ,
Thollai pokki vittai.

யாதுமாகி நின்றாய் , காளி ,
எங்கும் நீ நிறைந்தாய்
தீது நன்மையெல்லாம் , காளி,
தெய்வ லீலை அன்றோ!

பூதமைந்தும் ஆனாய் காளி ,
பொறிகள் அனைத்தும் ஆனாய்,
போதமாகி நின்றாய் காளி,
பொறியை விஞ்சி நின்றாய்.

இன்பமாகி விட்டாய் , காளி,
என் உள்ளே புகுந்தாய்,
பின்பு நின்னை அல்லால் காளி,
பிரிது நானும் உண்டோ!

அன்பு அளித்து விட்டாய் , காளி,
ஆண்மை தந்து விட்டாய்,
துன்பம் நீக்கி விட்டாய் ,
தொல்லை போக்கி விட்டாய்.

1.Oh Kali , you stood as everything,
You were full everywhere,
Oh Kali ,all that which is good and bad,
Are plays of the God almighty.

2.Oh Kali, You became the five elements,
You became all the machines,
Oh Kali, you stood as the conscience,
And you stood above all the machines,

3.Oh Kali , you became the great pleasure,
And you entered inside me,
Oh Kali, after this , Oh Kali,
Can I stand without you.

4.Oh Kali, you may gave me love,
You gave me manliness,
Oh Kali, you removed all my sorrow,
And removed all my problems.

Dhyana Sloka of Maa Bhuvaneswari

बालरविद्युतिम् इन्दुकिरीटां तुङ्गकुचां नयनत्रययुक्ताम् ।
स्मेरमुखीं वरदाङ्कुशपाशभीतिकरां प्रभजे भुवनेशीम् ॥

bālāravidyutim indukirīṭāṃ tuṅgakucāṃ nayanatrayayuktām |
smeramukhīṃ varadāṅkuśapāśabhītikarāṃ prabhaje bhuvaneśīm ||

Same Dhyana sloka slightly different version.

बालार्कविद्युतिम् इन्दुकिरीटां तुङ्गकुचां नयनत्रययुक्ताम् ।
स्मेरमुखीं वरदाङ्कुशपाशभीतिकरां प्रभजे भुवनेशीम् ॥

bālārkavidyutim indukirīṭāṃ tuṅgakucāṃ nayanatrayayuktām |
smeramukhīṃ varadāṅkuśapāśabhītikarāṃ prabhaje bhuvaneśīm ||

உதயசூரியனின் காந்தியுள்ள கிரீடத்தை தரித்தவளும், பிறைச்சந்திரனை கிரீடத்தில் தரித்தவளும்,

மூன்று கண்களை உடையவளும், புன்சிரிப்புடன் அழகுற காட்சியளிப்பவளும்,

வரதம், அபயம், பாசம், அங்குசம் தரித்த நான்கு கைகளையுடைவளும்

மூவுலகத்திற்கும் தாயாக விளங்குபவளான ஸ்ரீமாதா புவனேஸ்வரியை நான் வணங்குகிறேன்

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Smartas - The Eclectic Hindus- III

Two important points to be considered now.

1. How do I say that most of the Hindus are Smartas?

Take the case of Bengal. Sri Ramakrishna's family deity was Raghubir (Rama). His Tantrik Guru was Bhairavi Brahmani a Vaishnavite Tantrika. He worshiped Krishna and Kali. This is Smartaism. Most of the Brahmins in Bengal are like this.

Kerala: The Nambhoodiris claim to be Purva Mimansa  followers. But see the worship. Shiva, Devi and Krishna temples are all over Kerala. Everyone goes to all these temples. Swami Chinmayananda spent his lifetime spreading the message of Bhagavd Gita. But in all his Ashrams the central temple is Shiva's temple. This is Smartaism.

2. Some one might say that "But there is proof that Smartas are Saiva, Vaishnava". This is exactly what you are supposed to believe. Smartism is Saivism for Saivas and Vaishnavism for Vaishnavas. All things to all people is the name of the game. We cannot claim that Smartas are pure Advaita Vedanta people. Pure Advaitins reject Purva Mimansa. They do not subscribe to Sri Vidya practices which basically believes in Saguna Brahman.

I would also like to point out the all important role of the Sankara matams and thousands of other matams which are loosely affiliated to these matams. These matams have spread the idea of non-sectarian Hinduism all over India. They have also revived the Vaidic practices.

Again India has been known for the millions of wandering renunciates. Smarta religion brought some order here also by creating the Dasanami Sampradhayas of Sannyasis. They created a semblance of an organization. But this affiliation is only nominal. They do not even have a uniform practice of dealing with the dead bodies of Sannyasis.


If Smarta religion is so good and has strengthened Hinduism how come no one is talking about it?

Here lies the crux of the matter. Smarta called themselves Smartas because they wanted to emphasize the role of the Smiritis/Dharmasasthras. Dharmasasthras are founded on Varnashrama Dharma. So the Smartas have been accused of propagating the Varnashrama Dharma.

But this criticism does not take into account the seminal role played by the Smartas in strengthening Hinduism and preventing it from becoming divided into a number of warring sects.


The vision shown by Adi Sankarachrya or Sankaracharyas is unparalleled in the history of Hinduism. We can only pray that such a visionary will be born in India again who will unite all the castes together, so that the caste name would signify only a tradition or culture. A Dalit should say proudly of the Brahmins "Here are the people who have kept OUR Vedic traditions alive."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Smartas - The Eclectic Hindus- II

I do not know how many of you are aware of the titles of the Matathipathi of Sankara Matams. These titles are recited by people who consider the Sankaracharya as their personal Guru.

Shad Dharsana sthanapachaya (Founder of all six dharshanas or systems of Philosophy)

Sankyathraya prithipadaka (Establisher of Sankhya)

Vaidhika Marga Pravarthaka (engaged in Vaidhika marga)

Another sloka 

Sasthram sarira Mimansa devasthu Parameswara

Acharya Sankaracharya santhu me janma janmani

Why did the Smartas do it? Tamil Smartas always talk about Shanmadham, but not about Shad Dharshana.

The basic idea of Smarta religion was to reestablish Vaidic practices. Vedas are non-sectarian unlike the Puranas.  There are verses in praise of all Gods. Indra, Varuna, and other Vaidic Gods. Then we have Rudraprasna, Narayana Suktham and Sri Suktham among others. In these verses the god to whom the verses are addressed is considered the Supreme God. Again the Vaidic practices are basically from Karma Kanda  and follow Uttara Mimansa. Advaita is Gnana Kanda. Then Yoga has become a part and parcel of Hinduism. Sankhya is the basic philosophy of the Sakthas.

You can not bring about a unity among different sects or revive the Vaidic practices without bring together the six systems of Philosophy.

So Smartaism became Shan Madha and Shad Dharshana. Though it is not stated clearly, Smartas also absorbed the concept of Bhakthi. The various slokas attributed to Sankaracharya are evidence of this.

The followers came from all the sects. Initially we did have sub-classifications of Smarta-Saiva, Smarta-Vaishnava and Smarta-Sakthas. But this disappeared over a period of time. The best part of Smarta religion is that you could continue your sectarian worship. The Panchayathana Puja was a compromise. But here the central deity could be Shiva, Vishnu, Sakthi, Skanda or the Sun. The Smartas went to the extent of even allowing sectarian marks. That is how we have Nama Iyers for example.

[To be continued]

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Smartas - The Eclectic Hindus

In our quest for our roots, most of us have an interest in knowing about the Smarta religion. But there is very little research material on the subject. Another major problem is that though the tenets of the Smarta religion are followed all over India, only in South India we call ourselves Smarta.

The basic tenet of the Smarta religion is non-Sectarianism. It is eclectic in belief. We believe in all Gods/Goddesses. It is this Smarta belief which is Hinduism to most of the Hindus all over the world. Again Smarta are not Vedantins. They believe in all the six Dharshanas or the systems of philosophy.

I would like to start with the evolution of Smarta religion.

Hinduism has been plagued by sectarianism for a long time. This sectarianism made Hinduism weak. We all know about the fight between the Shaivites and the Vaishnavites in Tamil Nadu. That is history. To look at some sectarian beliefs you have to only visit any of the sectarian web site. Shiva and all other Gods/Goddesses are not even Gods. They are only demi-Gods. Frequent rants against Adi Sankara forgetting the historical fact that but for him, there might not have been any Hinduism at the time of founding of many of these sects.

You can very well imagine how it must have been in the middle ages when sectarianism ruled the roost.

There was another problem also with sectarianism in the middle ages. Saivism and Vaishnavism in those days were both Agamic. The Pancharatra Vaishnavism and Kalamukha and other brands of Saivism. These did not lay emphasis on the Vedas or Vaidic practices.

So it was felt that a non sectarian religion was required to unify Hinduism, and also to revive Vaidic practices. And it was also felt necessary to bring the different warring philosophies together since different sects followed different philosophies.

Now this bringing about the unity has been attributed to Adi Sankaracharya. But scholars have questioned whether Adi Sankaracharya the exponent of pure Advaita could have been the founder of a religion which emphasized on all the six Dharshanas. Whether it was one or many Sankaracharyas does not matter for us. The fact is that it is the Sankaracharyas and the mutts established by him which played a major role in this unification.

Now I expect some of the Smartas to object to my classifying the Smartas as following all the six Dharshanas or systems of philosophy. This may seem contrary to the widespread belief that they are Advaita Vedanta followers.

[To be continued]

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Conception/Perception of MAA KAALI !!!

During the recent ongoing discussion member Petrus had stated that it is the contemporary Indians who are not comfortable with Ma having blood on her palms or around her mouth and then James Curcio was talking about Sex and Death.

I think there is a lot of difference in the conception/perception of MAA KAALI in the eyes of the Westerners, Indians, devotees and non-Devotees. Last year when I was interviewed for  Deutschlandfunk radio station, I realized how different the perceptions were.

The Devatas are conceptions of Rishis/Enlightened people. The sculptural details of Murtis are from Dhyana slokas. The Dyana sloka is written by a person who has attained Mukti through the particular Dhyana. It is the conception of the person who has done the Dhyana.For example: Ugrapratyangira Devi is the form conceived by Sage Angiras and Prathyangiras. The name is derived from Prathyangiras. The deity is also known as Atharvana Bhadra Kali.

The popular Dakshina Kali image (Dakshineswar temple) was conceived by  Krishnananda Agamavagisha the author of Tantra Sara. It is of a recent origin. The Dhyna sloka (karala vadanam, Muktha kesim ....) was written later.

The Kali images of South Indian temples which are much older show her with Thamshtra. She is Chamunda Kali. Of course there are images which are similar to the one at Dakshineswar. But they are of a recent origin. The images in Kalighat and Tarapeth are totally different from other images.
Now paintings and lithographs do not strictly follow Dhyana slokas. Most of the images of Kali in books are from paintings and lithographs where the creator uses his imagination.

Every individual conceives GOD in his/her own way. You ask a six year old child about how it thinks GOD is like. Most probably it will be a super image of its own mother. It is said “For a small Child Mother is GOD”.

Recently I saw an English movie with a Girl called Mary as the heroine. GOD appears in that. The hero asks him whether he is GOD. GOD replies that "I am Mary's conception of GOD."

Your conception depends on your upbringing, tendencies, notions and what not. Your Vasanas.

Basic Conceptions:

1. Most of us are brought up in an atmosphere where we fear GOD. The term God fearing is used as an adjective. Children are told உம்மாச்சி கண்ணைக் குத்தும். (GOD will punish you)

We needed the concept of a punishing GOD when we did not have any formal judicial system. To maintain Law and order. Even today most of the Village deities are perceived this way. We hear how Karuppnnaswami punishes people who have committed crimes. You hear often of சாமி குற்றம். (God's Sin)

More than this many of us believe that GOD is waiting to punish us. We talk about putting the fear of GOD into someone. This is a fallacy. There is a story in the Purana about a thief plucking Bilva leaves on Sivaratri night to keep awake and dropping them in a Sivalinga about which he was not aware. He attains Moksha.

2. GOD is love, compassion, happiness (Daya, Karuna, Ananda) personified. GOD is waiting for an opportunity to reward you for your good actions.

Your basic conception of GOD depends on which one of the basic conceptions you choose. The punishing wrathful GOD or the Kind and Compassionate GOD.

There is also a tendency to categorize Deities as Sattvic, Rajasaic, and Tamasic and again as Soumya and Ugra. But these categorizations according to the Gunas does not apply to the Supreme God as GOD is above the three Gunas. We call MAA as Thrigunathmikai. GOD is omnipotent and omniscient. Other wise GOD is not GOD.

This categorizations depend on our Vasanas. For example Maa Kali is seen by most of the Tamil Brahmins as Ugra whereas in Bengal she is seen as the Universal Mother. Most of the Tamil Brahmins who are in Bengal see her as Karunamoyi, Dayamoyi and Anandamoyi. In Tamil Nadu Maa Kali is worshipped by many communities. In fact the Tamils are the only community in India where a Male is named Kali or Kaliappan. Sri Ramkrishna considered Lalitha as a Ugra Devata.

These classifications are based on our own conceptions/misconceptions and not on facts.

Your conception of God would depend on which of the models you have chosen.

Just to quote some examples.

We all know that Lord Krishna is called Shyam because of his colour. You could call it Mega varna, but still he was not fair in color. But you find many images specially in North India which show him as fair. In most TV serials also he is fair. Why? Because of our deep rooted color prejudice. Again he is always clean shaved. How come the only two kings in India who were clean shaved are Rama and Krishna? Siva is also clean shaved. You call him Smasana Vasa and Jadadhari.

Why do we associate a clean shave with Sattva and a moustache with non Sattva? In which case all our seers were not Sattvic.

Again Maa Kali's description in Dhyana Slokas is totally different from what is depicted. In Bengal she is seen as a Beautiful young woman. This is not the description of the Dhyana sloka. Bhadra Kali is considered by many South Indians to be a benign form of Kali. They will be shocked if they read the Dhyana Sloka.

It is of absolutely no consequence how GOD is represented. The question is "Are you able to relate to GOD in this form? Does it fit with your conception?"

Once I had shown the image of MAA from one of the temples in Tamil Nadu dressed in Madisar saree to a friend of my mine who is a Devi Bhakta from Kerala. He immediately remarked that he is not able to relate to her in this dress. Many South Indian visitors to temples in North and Eastern India are not able to relate because of the peculiarity of the images. The Bengalis in Chennai prefer to visit the Kali temple in Mambalam rather than the Kali temple in Annanagar, because the image in Mambalam is Bengali style. The Keralites in Kolkata have a Guruvayurappan temple though there is a Krishna shrine in almost every nook and corner of Kolkata.

Your conception of GOD will again depend on what you think of GOD. As a

1. King

2. Mother

3. Child

4. Lover

These are called Bhavas.

Suppose you are a Sakti worshipper. But which form of Sakti? Kali, Bhuvaneswari, Lalita, Mariamman or any of the other innumerable forms? Lalitha Tripurasundari, Kamakshi, RajaRajeswari, Bhuvaneswari are all forms of Sakthi. Whom do you choose. When you choose Vishnu, is it Rama, Krishna or Narayana and even after choosing Krishna is it Balakrishna (Unnikrishnan), Brindavan Krishna (Radhe Shyam) or Dwarakadhisa (Krishna as a King)? You have a huge variety of choices.

Please think about this and post about your conception of GOD. Which form? And if possible Why? This is Sathsang. Make you think of GOD. It would also help us understand the basics of devotion and different Hindu practices.

No conception is wrong. No conception is superior to others. Hinduism allows everyone to have his/her own conception of GOD.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sign Posts

When you travel by road you come across signposts. These indicate the distance to some town, name of the town, nearest gas station etc. depending on the nature of the signpost.

Many a time when I am traveling from Chennai to Kanchipuram, which is 40 miles away, I see signposts, which tell me that it is 600 miles to Kanyakumari. I do not bother about it. It is sometimes irritating. When you are searching for the nearest Gas station, it is irritating to see a signboard that tells you that you are 600 miles from Kanyakumari.

The Ultimate Goal in spirituality is aeons away. Only some of us will reach that goal in this birth. We are all travelers in the path. I consider my messages to be like the signpost to the nearest gas station. The messages may irritate the advanced seeker. But as you need signposts for gas stations, I believe you also need messages, which are meant for beginners in the path.

We have lot of resources on the web about the different paths. But web pages serve a limited role in that you cannot post your reactions.

If you do not like a signpost you can kick it. Signposts may be wrong. Then you get it corrected. But I believe it is illegal in all the countries to remove signposts.

My messages in blogs are like the sign posts.