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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Spiritual Ecstacy Of Lifetime

Spiritual Ecstacy Of Lifetime
Reminiscences of Hariharaputra Mahotsavam

I offer my prostrations at the lotus feet of my Gurus and the foremost among them - Shri.Seshadri Swamigal and my Greatgrandfather Shri. CV. Srinivasa Iyer by whose grace we could do this Magnificient event.

The history of Bharath has witnessed an event which has not happened in the near past.

It is very rare that a Yagnam of this significance can be witnessed. Equally rare is the opportunity for the people to actually participate in the worship.

Lord Dharma Sastha’s grace is always abundant towards his devotees.  - And there are a lot of “once in a life time opportunities” He had offered me.

We really feel to be gifted and blessed to be able to host this grand mahotsavam for the first time. It’s rarest of rare opportunity to get in one’s life time. It was such a matchless and blissful experience, that it is next to impossible to put it in words.

Sasthru Bhakthi :

Hari Shambo Su Putrascha Poojaisha Buvi Durlapa…
It is indeed a very difficult thing to get the opportunity to do the worship of Lord Hariharaputra

That being the case, a person like me will still dare to venture into such a Himalayan task, relying solely on the grace of Sri Gurukrupa.

Lord Maha Sastha, my beloved Hariharaputra, is the master in the age of Kali. He is praised as Pratyaksham Tu Kalau, Kalau Shasthru Vinayakau and Kaliyuga Pratyaksham

Each and everytime I visit any of His Shrine - the experience is unique ! This happens right from my childhood - from day one when I had the marvelous chance of knowing Him at the shrine of Aryankavu - when I was 5 years old.  At that time, He chose to appear to me in one of His more beautiful forms: a majestic King who is the master of universe. There I could realize a bondage with HIM - that I had never felt before.

Since then I cannot be the same as before. He has taken over me - taking care of me - making me do things. From that moment - He is everything to me ! The only God, only mantram and only thought.

Each darshan takes me to me to another stage of consciousness! Every single moment of my life is HIM ! Even the Nityakarmas have become “Maha Sasthru Preethyartham” – instead of “Parameshwara Preethyartham”

By His grace I was able to trace out and find out many more hidden treasures in the near past.  Right from Pratha Smaranam, Snana Vidhi, Bhasma Dharanam, Thantrika Sandhya Vandhanam, Chathushshashti Upacharam, Navavarana Puja– everything we have exclusively for Sastha and Iam practicing it too.

The Idea of Santarppanai

As a part of this  thought process - “Sarvam Sasthru Mayam”, Bhagawan bestowed His grace upon us to think about the Hariharaputra Santarppanai.

To my limited knowledge - This Splendid Event of “Hariharaputhra Sandharpana”,is happening for the first time in the Spiritual history.

Hariharaputhra Santarpana has a special significance. Sastha is acclaimed as “Vipra Pujayan”. According to this, 120 Brahmin Upasaskas of the Lord are brought together and they are worshiped considering them as the Lord SASTHA Himself. Its a religious Yagyam proposed to be performed in a strictly religious way, invoking the presence of Lord Hariharaputra.

Though there are many customary offerings such as Puja, Sharana Gosham, Bhajananjali ,etc., to hail the Lord, this Santarpana has a special significance.

It’s not a regular Annadhanam or social function, but a religious Yagyam proposed to be performed in a strictly religious way, invoking the presence of Lord Hariharaputra.

An ancient text named “Guhya Rathna Chintamani” exclaims the glory of Lord Hariharaputra through the mouth of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva has Himself taught the special 108 Naamas of Sri MahaSastha to Parvathi. To the count of these 108 Namaas, Brahmins who have been initiated to the Moola Mantra of Sastha are seated accordingly and are invoked with the Particular Sasthru Naamas. They are adorned with Sandalwood paste and flowers and 16 Upacharams (Shodasopacharam) are performed to the Upasakas and are finally fed with a sumptuous feast containing Shatrasams. All pujas are done to them – considering them to be the very form of Bhagawan Himself.

It all started when I attended Lalitha Maha Yagam at Chennai which inspired me and gave a question, why not do a similar  puja to “my beloved” ?

The work begins:

Though the desire started 11 months ago – it was so intense that it was growing day by day and became as if its my liefelong dream ! I started waiting for this event with very great excitement.

I explained the process to the members of our Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam. We started the laborious work and have been meticulously planning for the event for the whole 11 months and I was praying to the Lord to grant us the ability to execute the same,

For the first few days, I had great difficulty in approaching people – because many upasakas did not understand the concept and mistook it to be a conference for Guruswamis or Honoring Guruswamis. Few people discouraged such effort – stating it’s going to be an impossible task and many people thought Iam kidding them.

“Sharanam Na anyam prapannosmyaham” – says our Kirathashtakam
I bow to none other than take refuge under you

I have a very “bad habit” of never giving up – especially when it is my Lord’s work. I traveled a lot and communicated with many Guruswamis and senior upasakas and explained them about the whole process. Soon people started understanding that the unique Hariharaputra Santarpana Mahotsavam - is going to be a mammoth ritual which is being organized in the world for the FIRST TIME EVER.

Senkottai Vanchi Mama was the first person who felt very happy on hearing this and whole heartedly gave his blessings for the event. (who could not participate due to his age factor and ill health)

Soon we started preparing non-exhaustive list and our whole team started working with full effort, planning and execution.

Our work and HIS work

As soon as the sankalpam was made in my mind for doing the Santarpana, things started manifesting into reality - the swiftness with which Lord Sastha acknowledged it cannot be explained in words!!

At one point of time we had a confusion about the method to be adopted in performing the grand event; But our Bhaktha Paripala, within a week , removed this confusion; Accidentally(or intentionally), I was able to get a manuscript copy contaiing the rules for performing this glorious event. This text was written by none other than Shri Bhaskararaya – the great exponent of Mantra Sasthra and a great devotee of Devi Lalitha Tripurasundari.

After this, each and every work started proceeding in the right track as destined by “HIM”.

The team of Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam – all our members and supporters worked diligently for days and nights in co-ordinating each and every part of the event. The total number of guests alone crossed 200. Shriram and Vibhavan spent almost sleepless nights planning the tickets, pickup, drop, travel, accommodation etc Infact we visualized each and every second of the event and the activities. Members like Paramesh and Deepak were very much disturbed since they could not be here physically since we need a lot of effort before the event.  Shri. (Kambankudi) Hari and myself spoke through phone almost daily about the progress. They got their leave sanctioned and reached here even before the event. All our volunteers like Vinayak, Praveen Kumar, Jayesh, Rakesh and many others worked round the clock and were perfectly coordinating.

A group of devotees from Bombay like Shri.Mohan and Shri. Bala from Goregon also joined our band. (Sabari Travels) Shri.Chandru and Shri. Srikanthan took an active role in reception and also coordinating the series of events. The trimoorthis from our Perambur(Vethrapuri) Ayyappan Temple - Shri Ganesh, Ramaswamy Mama and Shri.Hariharan enthusiastically undertook and shared our work. Shri. Ramachandran came all the way from Muscat and took charge of preparing Neipayasam. Everybody rendered their services selflessly. I specially invoke the blessings of Lord Hariharaputra on all of them for the tireless efforts.

Divine intervention:
When the event date came closer we started getting excitements. Just few days before the poojas, the Lord invited me to His various abodes Kallidaikurichi, Achankovil, Aryankavu, Kulathupuzhai, Sabarimalai and Finally His ultimate spot at Ponnambalamedu. I prayed for the successful execution of the event at all these places. And even the Lord wanted to give a contribution to the event. At Sabarimalai – HE gave his acknowledgement to the Mahotsavam !  

It was the beginning of the Nandana Varsham - a very special day in my life.  All over the world people celebrate the new year.

As soon as we reached Sannidhanam - it was impossibly crowded, to my acute surprise. Anyhow I could get the Darshan within 10 minutes and I came near Nagaraja Shrine and was standing on the steps nearby waiting for others. 

My Mind was thinking about the Hariharaputra Santarppanai to be conducted.

I was mentally pondering about the purchases to be made for the event - which Ive completed long before leaving the country. We have been planning meticulously and I tried my level best to get the best items as far as possible. Right from “Naar Madi” pattu from Kasi, Rudraksha Malai, Mudra Sanji, Silver Ring – everything was ready even before 3-4 months. The only thing remaining was "Poonal" - Yagnyopaveetham to be given to the Brahmins who are going to be worshipped. I had a second thought in buying Yagyopaveetham from shops So, I had already approached one Veda Patashala for procedurally preparing 200 sets of Poonal. 

I called the patashala and reminded them about the Poonal. But they had expressed their inability to get it ready within the stipulated date. I was a bit upset with this answer and was thinking about the next alternative.

Suddenly I saw an unknown person coming to me. He came and stood near me and forcibly handed over a small packet. I was extremely irritated with this behaviour and so asked him "Who are you ? Why are you giving this to me?". 

The man asked politely: "Sir, are you sure you are here at Sannidhanam?".
I replied: "Yes". 

Then that Person continued: "And You are an Iyer"  - "Yes" 

"You are going to do Puja to Iyers. Right ? You may give this to them". Thus saying, the man, just jumped from the steps, again stopped for a moment, looked back- smiled and nodded his head and disappeared into the crowd! 

I opened the bag - it contained 200 Yagyopaveedhams (Poonals) - the exact number which I wanted !

My mind stopped for some time. I was just standing there for several minutes and my mind was totally blank. Had I not leaned down on the railings, I would have fainted ! After almost 15-20 minutes I could come back to my senses - It was absolute peace - but could only listen to the joyous exclamations of the devotees : "Swamiye Sharanam Ayyappa!"

My Ego was burnt to ashes with the Jyothi Swaroopan's fire. He always makes me remember that He is there with us to take care of Us !  Who am I to worry? Its He who is making us do things ?

The Lord does anything to fulfill the desire of his devotee.

The Lord arrives and the event begins:

For me, whatever be the occasion, I just need a reason to celebrate “My beloved” and each and every time is such an ecstasy to be in HIS company. So even a week before the event – we started enjoying the divinity.

Many devotees from all over the country started coming to witness, take part and assist us on this great occasion. Mahesh Jayaraman, Longlife Mani and few more devotees landed two days before the event to lend us a helping hand.

When Shri. (Madras Stores) Mani came, he added the idea of doing Suvasini, Kanya and Dhampati pooja –to make the puja a full circle. Even before I could think, my mother accepted it readily. A special thanks to Him for taking an active role in executing the great puja.

We started shifting the materials to the mandapam by 14th evening and the actual decoration began only during 14th night. Finally myself and Sabarigiri went home and brought Bhakthaparipalan and Mudravadi to the hall. But the beginning was remarkable – exactly at  the stoke of twelve.. Lord Bhaktha Paripala was seated inside the pooja Mandapam – in that instant the Majestic tusker entered the Pooja Mandapam and bowed before the Lord thrice - a mind boggling scene ! We could visualize Mathagaja vahanan seated above the Elephant and blessing us. Everybody of us were sure about the success of the event.

Pratyaksha Ganapaty Homam

On 15th June - the puja commenced with Guru Vandanam and Pratyaksha Ganapaty Homam. Initially we had the plan of doing regular Ganapaty Homam - but later I had an inner feeling that it would be great if we could do a Pratyaksha Ganapathy Homam. When I expressed my desire on this matter Survajith took all the initiatives and by the grace of Lord,within no time we could get the permission from the forest and police departments and brought the majestic Ganapathy. I wanted the Ganapathy Homam to be done in the Chaturayatanam way – in a unique composition. Ie invoking Sree Maha Ganapathy parallely on 1) Homakundam 2) Deepam 3) A Brahmachari boy and 4) A live elephant

Shri Goapalakrishnan – Konthamani Vadyar from Poonkunnam took incharge of the Pratyaksha Ganapaty Homam. When the Gajarajan stood in front of the Homa Kundam and accepted the puja – it captured all our heart.  The elephant and the boy accepting the offering and blessing the devotees – was an awe-inspiring scene reminding us of the sacrifices of the glorious past. This was immediately followed by Kanya Puja and Suvasini pooja. After this the Avahanam of Lord Maha Sastha was done along with all His parivaras. Divinity encompassed the entire mandapam and we were tranceeded to Sasthru Lokam in no time.

I can surely say that – even before this - Bhagawan’s presence was in paripoornam in the whole atmosphere and His grace surrounded the entire area.


After the Usha Pooja, Poornabhishekam to Sastha was performed.  And Lord Bhaktha Paripala was taken on procession (Ezhunallippu) with the caparisoned elephant accompanied by Vedha Gosham in the morning through the streets of Ramnagar.  It was a wonderful and mezmersing scene to watch the Bhavani of the Lord on Divya Vaaranam surrounded by Vedha Parayanam. A special thanks to Pradosham group Kondhai Anna and KK from Hyderabad for supporting us with “Vedha Gosham”. The Lord Majestically rode the elephant and came back to the Puja hall around 8.30 Am and was received with Maha Deeparadhana. 

Swagatha Puja

The Santarpana started by welcoming the upasakas by doing Swagatha puja to them. Parallely the Puja Vigrahams adorned the stage and the poojas other upacharam were carried out by people with Moola Mantra Upadesham. I requested Shri. (Kambankudi) Hari to do the parallely along with me for the santarppanam. Shabrish Iyer from Mumbai was a very good "keezh shanthi" - to assist the pooja. Guruswamy Mama’s assistance in co-ordinating the puja was excellent. This parallel arrangement maintained the mood of the event.

Selected Dhampathis in traditional attire - washed the feet of the Upasakas and welcomed them for the pooja. The upasakas were given a bag with various materials including Kaasi Pattu Veshti and were requested to adorn the pancha kacham.

The Six Gurunatha’s of the Sasthru Guru Mandalam and Six Sasthru Moorthis were added to the Ashtottara Sata namvali of Lord Sastha – making the count to 120.

Gaja , Ashwa, Go Pujas

We began the Santarppana by doing special pujas to Gaja and Ashwa – Elephant and Horse being the primary Vahanas of Lord Sastha. This was followed by Go puja – with a cow and her calf. When all these three pujas were done systematically everybody’s heart started beating with joy and thrill. Finally Dhampathi puja was also done before beginning the actual process.

Santarppanai Puja

When the Upasakas were seated inside the mandalam – they appeared to be transformed to be in a different plane radiating the divine grace of Lord Hariharaputra all over. The atmosphere was charged with divinity.

Eminent and senior most Guruswamys and also the giants of Kambankudi family under the leadership of Shri. Krishnan Guruswamy were seated there – a scene which resembled the ever vibrant Veliyana Vattam !

But there is a difference here. At Veliyana Vattam they are Guruswamys ! But here they are in the form of Lord Himself ! A scene which filled both our eyes and heart. We were exteremely ecstatic to see the 108 forms of “my beloved” in the glowing faces of these upasakas.!  -  a scene which has to be experienced and very difficult to put into words.

The Lord often loves to play with His devotees. A similar thing happened the previous day night… (due to unavoidable reasons) there was a sudden fall in the number of upasakas participating and many people made last minute cancellations and the number went down to 107 – the previous night. “Sharanam Na anyam prapannosmyaham” was my only tharaka mantram. But when we started the Swagatha Pooja – His divine will prevailed and exactly one hundred and nineteen upasakas were present. I strongly believe that He made this happen - to make us understand that HE - “My beloved” Bhaktaparipaala HIMSELF was the one hundred and twentieth.

I just came and sat in the stage and took my Mudra Vadi in my hand and did my japa. With a fully charged mind – I began the puja – understanding that the single Swaroopam who was sitting in the stage - my Bhakthaparipalan, manifesting into 120 individual forms. The 120 forms of the Lord were invited and invoked on 120 upasakas. Surprisingly - I was able to keep my consciousness right at this point. Nothing could distract me. Soon the mind set up got tuned to see Lord Sastha in every aspect happening.  By Bagawan’s Krupa - the mental state was unbelievably focused; I came as close as I've ever come to one-pointedness of mind. I think the main reason for this is the presence of so many upasakas sitting in front – as gross representatives of Lord Sastha.

All the Shodasha upacharas – Bhooshanam, Pushpa Maala – Archanam etc were done simultaneously to the upasakas – as well as the Lord.

And coming to the neivedhyam part – Iam sure Annapoorneshwari – being our family deity was present there at the Kitchen and blessed Sabari Catering Subbudu Mama ! The committed service by his sons Shri. Santhanam and Shri.Sabari is worth mentioning ! The delicious food was served in abundance not only during the puja but throughout the event. 

During the Santarppanai, I wanted even the serving to be done be ladies adorned in traditional Madisar dress. Each and every person who went inside the mandalam – was strictly instructed to be in the traditional attire.

After the bhojanam we gave thamboola dhakshina and saught each upasaka’s anugraham. All the assembled audience and the sishyas did pradakshinam to the Sastha – Swaroopa Upasakas. The Aseer Mangala Akshathais were give to the upasakas to bless the devotees waiting! The concluding session with deeparadhana– was a feast to the eyes.

With emotions overwhelming me completely, we completed the puja by doing puja samarppanam - to the Lord. There is no question of yatha sthanam here – the 120 pratyaksha forms of Lord got united and they attained “layam” the state of oneness with Lord Bhaktaparipala.

This Sandarppana is the most sacred and powerful among all the Maha Yagnas. It is very rare that a Yagna of this significance and magnitude was performed.

Evening Session :

The evening session began with the Sahasra Kamala Archana to the Lord. Yes ! We did Hariharaputra Sahasranamarchana with 1008 Lotus flowers ! – the Lord who is seated above the Sahasrara Padmam was right in front of our eyes !

We had a wonderful bhajan session by our members, Shri. Mahesh Jayaraman (Mumbai), Shri Vibhavan and Sathyanarayanan.

This was followed by Kuthiraiottam – a procession of Lord Sastha seated on a white horse. All our boys actively took charge of the procession - quite amazing and a totally different but enjoyable experience. The majestic celebration in itself deeply touched our heart, mind, eyes and ears.
What I specially noted here is all the invitees were not mere guests – but become one among our family and took the freedom to actively participate in all the events.

Second Day – Vanji Paattu:
On the second day, the Sastha Preethi Mahothsavam started.
When the second day’s puja began… My mood elevated automatically…

Vanji Pattu was captivating with the enthusiastic participation from Paramesh, Arun, Deepak and Prashant. Not only Vibhavan singing and Survajith performing, But I could see the involvement of everybody which happenned involuntarily… And as usual like the yester years– the divine presence was witnessed – with three Garudan flying just above the Lord..

Sastha Preethi :

The Sastha Preethi puja began with Navavarana puja to Lord Maha Sastha. The Lord was also adorned with the Tiruvabaranam – exact replica of Sabarimala Tiruvabaranam. After the detailed puja to Sastha along with his Parivara Devatas...  neivedyam and deeparadhana was done followed by mantrapushpam and namaskaram. After this traditional Varavu Sastha paattu songs was sung by Shri.Gowrishankar (Kutty Mama) anfd his son Murali. Songs invoking Ganapathi, Sastha, Chellapillai, Yakshi, Bhoothanatha and other Parivara Devathas are sung.  

The traditional sthanakaras from Kambankudi and other families of the respective deities were seated before the Lord. The Sthanakaras are inspired by the moola mantra japam and gets the supereme power invoked within them. This time it was termed as “Full Bench” because we had almost 16 sthanikas for all the deities of Sastha pantheon. They were offered respect by the devotees and upacharas are done to them. The Lord took the elaikattu and handed it over to my parents along with vibhuthi prasadam and conveyed His satisfaction in the conduct of the Sasthapreethi. Finally Lord Hariharaputra blessed each and every devotees with prasadam.


Conclusion :

To make it short - the entire Sandarppana Mahotsavam was a truly amazing and spiritually inspiring experience. For all the four days – we were not in this mundane world, but felt as if living in Sasthru Lokam – forgetting everything. Every second was truly mesmerizing moment of life.. and Harihraputra was embedded in our being...!

If at all if there is something called achievement in this effort – I dedicate everything at the feet of my parents Shri.Venkatraman and Smt. Rama Venkat - whose constant support, love, blessings and encouragement made this possible.

We were completely lost with fervor and excitement. We could feel that everyone of us were simply present there – where everything was takenover by Him. All that remained was unceasing serenity, luminosity and a presence like never before

 “Evam ya: kuruthe BhakthYA Janma madhYE saKruNara:
thasyaiva sapalam Janma muKthis’ thasya kare sthiRA”
One who performs this event of “Hariharaputhra Sandharpana” along with the element of Pure Bhakthi towards the Lord, attains the ultimate goal of his life. He has MOKSHA ready in his hands.

All of us have heard about the results of Guru Krupa and Daivanugraham– But I now stand before you as a direct example. When a fool like me can accomplish so much just by relying on Krupa, what else do you need to prove?

In one of my old articles Ive written : - "This once unlettered boy, whom He took under his benign and protective care, as a fond father would do, and made him what he is today" - these words are proved 200% true once again.. Not only as a fond father  but more than a compassionate mother he is taking care of me.... 

To cut a long story short I can say that the Lord Bhaktaparipala Himself held our hands, made us do things in the way he wanted and made it a reality.... 

I thanked him for being "my life" and granting us the opportunity to serve him. For the yeomen service rendered by my ancestors, the ever merciful Lord is  keeping up his promise generations after generations.

I thanked him once again while completing this article – He answers me with His same playful smile..

The message from the Lord was simple: “I am here for you”

What more do we need?

Twavamevasi Daivam Padhe Vetra Pane
Hrudayaaravinda Nivasa dayalo
Prabo baktapaala parahbrahma moorthe
Twadhanyam na manye na manye na manye

You are the only God ! Oh my Master who has the Vethram (Mudravadi) in your hand, You are ever compassionate one who dwells in the lotus of our heart (who dwells in the Hrudayam of Aravindan – the monographer). You are the ruler and the prahbrahmam – my Bhakthaparipala. Other than you, I do not think of anyone, not think and not think 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Laksharchana performed at Sabarimala

A report on Our Laksharchanai - by THE HINDU


Laksharchana performed at Sabarimala

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A Laksharchana was performed on Monday at the Lord Ayyappa Temple here in an atmosphere charged with devotion.

A large number of devotees from different parts of South India thronged the holy hillock to witness the ritual.

The temple chief priest (Tantri), Kandararu Maheswararu, assisted by the head priest (Melsanthi), N. Balamurali, performed the Brahmakalasapuja.

A group of 18 priests from Coimbatore took part in the chanting of mantras at the Laksharchana led by the Tantri at the Namaskara Mandapam in the forenoon.
Brahmakalasapuja as part of Kalabhabhishekom and Sahasrakalasabhishekom too was performed at the Northern Mandapam in the forenoon.

All the three golden urns carrying Brahmakalasoms were taken out in a procession to the sanctum sanctorum, to the accompaniment of the sacred Marappani and other traditional temple percussion, for the Abhishekom prior to the Utchapuja, later.

The Tantri poured sandal paste (Kalabhom), and holy water over the Ayyappa idol, marking the culmination of the ritual. The sandal paste offered to the deity was distributed among the devotees.
Padipuja was performed before the gold-plated 18-steps (Pathinettampady) after the Deeparadhana followed by Pushpabhishekom in the evening.

A large crowd of devotees thronged the Lower Tirumuttom, braving the incessant showers, to witness the ritual.

The Tantri and Melsanthi performed the ritual. Udayasthamanapuja and Pushpabhishekom were the other important rituals performed at the temple on Monday.

The temple will be closed after the Athazhapuja on Tuesday, marking the culmination of the five-day monthly rituals in the Malayalam month of Midhunom.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Latest Temple chosen for Sasthalaya Sevanam: Sasthan Kovil at Mannarkovil.

The temple located at Ambasamudram Dist.
On behalf of Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam - we are providing Power - Connection, Water facilities, Getting New Pooja materials and painting the temple.

We have been doing the Sasthalaya Sevanam (For those who are new you may visit here for the past One year...

But this is the first temple to have approached us with proper photographs and appeal...

There are certain temples for which inspite of me repeatedly asking for a single letter/foto, the response was only for getting money...

Anyway, we are really happy that we could serve deserving temples

This temple needs a water motor - to draw water from the nearby source for the puja purposes. If someone can arrange for a motor pump please let me know(  - I shall direct it to the temple.