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Friday, April 26, 2013

A meaningful day in my life

Last Tuesday I had been to Elathur Agraharam, Thenkasi - for my "Sastha Mahathmyam" pravachanam. My special thanks to Shri. Anand Mecheri who organized the program, Without his push I would have missed the opportunity to meet a wonderful person like Shri.Ramakrishnan.

I have been hearing for a long time about this great person; But never had the opportunity to meet him in person. The things he had achieved is something unimaginable.  Due to a mishap during his early 20s, Shri Ramakrishnan is paralysed from the neck downwards. He is totally immobile; But he is running one of the largest centers for people with disabilities. When he welcomed us with a "Namaskaram" - my ego shattered in front of my eyes

The 2 hours I spent at Aykudi Village with Shri.Ramakrishnan, founder-president of Amar Seva Sangam  was indeed a meaningful day in my life.

As rightly attributed by "THE HINDU" in its article,Shri.Ramakrishnan is a "REAL HERO"

Swamy Sharanam
Aravind Subramanyam

 The Real Hero

“My body does not work. I have no sensation neck down. But I am still me.” After 37 years in a wheelchair, S. Ramakrishnan, founder-president of Amar Seva Sangam (ASS) in Tirunelveli, smiles when he tells the story of his life. That smile reveals his inner convictions and proves that life does not end with a grievous injury.

“I didn't want to belong to the dead,” he adds. “The Almighty and the people around me believed that I could take care of myself.”

And he did. After a near-fatal accident when he was barely 20, he learned to live all over again. Today he heads the country's largest establishment offering services for the differently abled in rural areas. The Sangam rehabilitates and empowers people with physical and mental impairment. In its three decades, it has embraced 330 villages in four blocks of Tirunelveli District touching a population of six lakhs.

Just back from Mumbai after receiving the IBN7 Super Idols Award for Lifetime Achievement-2012, Ramakrishnan says, “Life is all about choices. The ability to succeed is a direct reflection of the ability to try.”
“The date was 10th January, a cold winter morning in Bangalore in 1975.” Ramakrishnan's razor sharp memory battles daily with his limp body.

He remembers names and faces, every minor and major date and incident in his life as if it happened yesterday.

The youth from Ayikudy, five kilometres from Tenkasi, had left for the big city to live his dream. A Fourth Year mechanical engineering student at the Government College of Technology in Coimbatore and an NCC cadet, he was enthusiastic about a career in the Navy.

Ramakrishnan recalls the gruelling rounds of interviews and endurance tests spread over four days. In the final round on the last day, he was asked to negotiate 10 obstacles in three minutes. In the fourth obstacle he had to leap 15 feet from a tree on to a platform and another 10 feet to the ground.

“I was in a hurry and fell on my back. Obviously God had other plans for me,” he says. There was no external injury but the crash dislocated and fractured his cervical spine. “I remember telling the guards who lifted me that my hands are missing and to search for them in the grounds. They lifted and showed me my hands still attached to my shoulders. The loss of sensation was instant.”

The battle begins

He battled medical complications for 19 months at the Air Force Hospital in Kirkee, Pune. As his batchmates came to visit him before the start of the academic year, he realized he would not finish the course.

At the hospital, he found his guide and friend in orthopaedist Air Marshall Dr. Amar Singh Chahal, after whom, six years later, he named his Sangam. “He taught me to acquire wheelchair independence. He prepared me to understand that I will have to live the rest of my life with a dysfunctional body and never be able to do any of those things I took for granted earlier.”

Once Ramakrishnan returned to his village, he began learning to live with his disability. He developed leg spasms. He couldn't lift his hands even to slap a mosquito. His sweat glands became non-functional and he became intolerant to variation in temperatures due to profuse sweating. The initial years were tough but his parents, siblings, friends, neighbours, relatives and later his wife stood by him.

“Once I realized there was no denying my condition, I was keen to know what was in store for me. I wanted to continue living life to the fullest.” Ramakrishnan toyed with the idea of starting a printing press or a match stick factory. And there were times when he was depressed. “But I couldn't have even committed suicide without anybody's help,” he laughs. The radio was his constant companion, and it was during the International Year of the Disabled in 1981 that some programmes and the advice of a relative sparked off a dream.

He started a school for children with disabilities on a piece of land gifted by his parents, with five students under a thatched shed.

He simultaneously launched health awareness camps in the villages and started gaining recognition among the locals.

Publicity helped

Sivasankari's article on ASS in a magazine earned him public trust and support. A friend's father wrote about ASS's work to the then President of India and to cricketer Vijay Merchant. Merchant then invited him to Mumbai, where another newspaper article made his work known.

 Today, the ASS's comprehensive services are spread over a campus of 30 acres supporting more than 300 families who have physically or mentally challenged kids. Ramakrishnan's self-rehabilitation, spirit of service and sense of independence attract people to him who willingly offer their services. One of them is S. Shankar Raman, currently the secretary of ASS, who has muscular dystrophy. The other is his wife, Chitra, who was earlier a teacher at ASS. “I did not take sympathy on him but fell in love with his spirit and commitment. I look after him, but he looks after so many disadvantaged others,” she says.

The organization and its founder have won many awards. “It is the recognition of my team's work,” says Ramakrishnan. A dedicated band of teachers, doctors and other staff teaches skills in daily activities and provides education and vocational training.

The students get free shelter, food, clothing, transportation, mobility appliances, physiotherapy and medical attention. As a result, they are daring to dream. Many are also living their dreams.
What Ramakrishnan dreamt as a young boy did not happen. “But what I had not planned has also happened. Nobody leads a predictable or problem-free life. It all depends on how we react to every situation.”

“God keeps my spirits up,” he says. “And I am blessed to have helpful friends and family as support system. In my next birth, I wish to help all those who helped me in this life.”

Nobody leads a predictable or problem-free life. It all depends on how we react to every situation.”

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Triprayar Sastha

Lord Bala Sastha at Triprayar Temple; He is one among our family deities. During the course of time, the idol was totally damaged and the Lord gave us(our Family) the opportunity to rebuilt the temple structure and re-cast a new idol.

Triprayar Temple, located in Thrissur district is one of the important temples dedicated to Lord Rama. Originally the presiding deity of this temple Srikovil was Sastha, (who is in the southern side of the courtyard now). Let me brief the story.

The history of the temple dates back to Ramayan Era. During Rama's exile, Ravana abducted Seetha. Rama was totally dejected on this blow and wandered fitfully through the jungle: he was searching for Seetha everywhere. As per the instructions of Jatayu, thereafter the brethren went towards the south. There he met Sugriva and Hanuman. Sugriva deputed his army in search of Seeta. Slowly passed the days of waiting. Rama started grieving for Sita. At this juncture, Rama arrived here (at Triprayar) and worshipped Lord Sastha.  Rama understoos the importance of thid placr and camped here and sincerely worshipped Sastha for many days and Lord Sastha favoured him, since Hanuman could find Seetha. Hanuman rushes back to Triprayar and declares "Drishta Seetha" - "Kanden Seethayai" -Seen Seetha. An emotional Rama hugs Hanuman, declaring him dear to him.

( In the mandapa opposite the sanctum sanctorum, Hanuman is believed to be present though there is no image as such. Devotees generally bow before the mandapa imagining the presence of Hanuman there before worshipping Sri Rama.  Firing of kadinas(Vedi Vazhipaadu), which is an important offering here, is to commemorate the return of Hanuman after the search of Sita, with the words, "Drishta Seeta"-seen Sita )

With the arrival of Hanuman, and because of the vital episode of Ramayana. Lord Sastha wanted Rama to be the main deity thereafter and so moved to the south in the present location. Now Thriprayar Thevar (Rama) is the presiding deity of the temple. 

It is to be noted that Lord Sastha of this temple participated in Arattupuzha Pooram, one of the important festivals of central Kerala - this happened even before the installation of Lord Rama. 

This Sastha is always my favorite temple. I have a feeling that this Sastha is one among our family and have a personal attachment with Him.This temple may not be an architectural wonder,but for me it has no parallel because the God I pray to lives there. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

சிஷ்யர்கள் விலக்க வேண்டிய பாபங்கள்

சிஷ்யர்கள் விலக்க வேண்டிய பாபங்கள்
(பூர்ண வித்யா - என்ற நூலில் இருந்து தட்டச்சு செய்தது)

பல சிஷ்யர்கள் அனேக சமயங்களில் குருவிடம் செயல்படும் தன்மை, பழகும் விதம், பேசுகின்ற முறை, தனித்து சொல்கின்ற சொற்கள், கேட்கின்ற விதம் முதலியன ஸத்சிஷ்யர்களுக்கு உகந்தவைகளாக காணப்படவில்லை.

அதலின் சிஷ்யர்கள் விலக்க வேண்டிய சில தவறான விஷயங்கள் கூறப்பட்டுள்ளன:

1.குருவை கேலி அல்லது தூஷணை செய்தல்

2.குருவை தன் மனம்படி செயல்பட கட்டளையிடல்

3. குருவுடன் கொடுக்கல் வாங்கல் முதலியவை செய்தல்

4.குருவின் எதிரியோடு பழகுதல். குரு தூஷணையை காதால் கேட்டல்

5. குருவின் சொல்லும் செயலும் - உலக இயல்புக்கு மாறாக உள்ளதே என்று நினைத்தல்; சொல்லுதல்

6. குருவும் மனிதப்பிறவிதானே அதனால் குறைகள் இருக்கும் என்று எண்ணுதல்

7. பகவானே குருவாக எழுந்தருளி இருக்கிறார் என்பதில் சந்தேகம்

8. குரு ஸமர்ப்பணத்தில் லோபமான எண்ணம்

9. குருவின் கட்டளையை உலகுக்கு பயந்து செய்யாமல் இருத்தல்

10. பிறர் பார்க்கிறார்களே என்று குருவுக்கு நமஸ்காரம் செய்ய வெட்கப்படுதல்

11. குருவை நீண்ட நாட்கள் பார்க்காது இருத்தல்

12. குருபாதுகை தான் கிடைத்து விட்டதே இனி ஸ்தூலமாக குரு எதற்கு என்ற எண்னம்

13. குருவிடம் இன்ன பலன் பெறுவதற்கு இன்ன மந்த்ரங்கள் கொடுங்கள் என்று கேட்பது. இந்த மந்த்ரம் எனக்கு ஏற்கனவே தெரியும் என்று அவரிடம் கூறுதல்

14. எனக்கு ஒரு விதமாகவும் அவனுக்கு ஒருவிதமாகவும் கொடுத்தீர்களே என்று குருவிடம் கேட்டல்; மந்த்ரம் இவ்வளவு சின்னது தானா? என்று கேட்டல்

15. வேறு சிஷ்யர்கள் குருவிடம் நெருங்கி பழகுதல் கண்டும், அவர்களுக்கு குரு செய்யும் அதிக சலுகைகள், உபசாரங்களைக் கண்டோ அல்லது வேறு காரணங்களுக்காகவோ அஸூயை(பொறாமை) கொள்ளுதல்

16. பிறர் குருவிடம் பேசும் போது அது என்ன என்று அறிந்து கொள்ள முயற்சி செய்தல்

17. எல்லா மந்த்ரங்களும் உபதேசம் பெற்றாகி விட்டது; இனி என்ன பயம் என்ற எண்ணம்

18. (குரு உறவினரக இருப்பின்) உபதேசம் செய்து கொண்ட பின்னரும் உறவு கொண்டாடுதல்

19. உபாஸனைகள் பல இருக்கும் போது, தான் செய்வதே சிறந்தது அல்லது முக்யமானது எனக் கூறிக் கொள்ளல்

20. தான் இதை இவ்வாறு செய்து முடித்தேன் என்று தன்னை தானே புகழ்ந்து கொள்ளுதல்

21. வாழ்கை நடத்த வேண்டிய பணம் இல்லாத நபர்களையும், உபாஸனைக்கு பணம் செலவழிக்க முடியாதவர்களையும் கேலி செய்தல்

22. தன் அனுபவங்களை குருவிடம் கூறாமல் பிறரிடம் கூறுதல்

23. மந்த்ர சாஸ்த்ர ரஹஸ்யங்களை ப்ரஸித்தமாக வெளியே பேசுதல்

24 அங்க ஹீனர்களை கேலி செய்தல்

25 ஸ்த்ரீகளை தூஷித்தல், துன்பம் உண்டாக்குதல் - மரியாதையின்றி அடி என்று அழைத்தல்

26 ஸ்த்ரீகளை அடிமையாக நினைத்தல் கேலியாக பேசி சிரித்தல்

27. எல்லா ஸ்த்ரீகளும் தேவியின் வடிவங்களே என்ற அடிப்படை உண்மையை நம்பாமை

28. நான்தான் குருவிற்கு அத்யந்தம், ப்ரியமானவன் என்று கூறல்

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Tribute to Gopalji

With a heavy heart, we wish to inform the demise of Our most beloved Gopalakrishnan Mama who passed away last wednesday morning 3.30 am in Muscat. A renowned and perfect devotee of Swami Gnananandha and showed the glorious path of Swamigal to all who came to him.

Gopalji, as he was fondly called - was a highly intellectual person, a devotee of great caliber  and a good human being. Mama was a perfect Adhwaithi and practiced what he believed.

He came in contact with H H Swami Gnananandha Giri Swamigal of Thapovanam Mutt at a very young age and received his guidance at every step. He then undertook the guidance of  Mother Gnanananda Sarasvathi of Sri Gnana Advaitha Peetam.

As instructed by a divine command - he was an ardent worshiper of Amba in the form of Sri Bala Tripurasundari, and He was also a composer who has composed various songs under the pen-name Baala Daasan- But he was very rarely known to the outside world; But all his songs contained excellent value and has a unique style of narration and poetic expression.

The respect he had for Indian culture and its spiritual heritage did not hinder him from exploring the current world. He was employed in the very famous business empire of  Oman and he was promoted as the Executive Director and CFO of the company.

Mama greatly valued literature and books, and had a lot of collection of Philosophy and spiritual works in English, Tamil, Sanskrit and Hindi. Not only an avid and eclectic reader, he was also a writer. His command of both Tamil and English was exceptional.

His stay at Tapovanam during his childhood and youth deeply awakened him to the possibility of realization in this human life. He always clarified several misconceptions, sweeping aside unhelpful superstitious beliefs, and had his own way of interpreting things.

I still recollect our late evening discussions - which would continue even after 3.00 AM. We would share all our spiritual experiences; debate on philosophies; Life history of  various Maha Purushas and the spiritual journey of many souls. Quite often - we would come to a conclusion that Bhakthi Marga is the Mukti Marga.

The Sathsang members of Muscat can never forget the Soul-stirring Bhajan rendered by him. Radha Kalyanam, Sampradhaya Bajan, Tiruppugazh and Ayyappan Pujas - his voice is simply unforgettable. His knowledge on the Bhajan field, its sampradayam, Music, Raagas,Bhaavas etc was something remarkable.

My association with Sri. Gopalji started only three years ago - I visited Muscat on his invitation for a Lecture Series and to conduct a Sastha Preethi. From the very first sight we had a sense of attachment- as if we knew each other for years.

He was staying some 2000 kilometers away - But our bondage was something unique. May be this is the reason Bagawan wanted me to be there during his last days. Unusually I took my Bagawan(Vigraham) along with me this time- may be he wanted a proper send off !

When he called me some two months back to discuss on His recent experience - it left me speechless. He was in the state of ecstasy. And he wanted me to come early even before the scheduled programs.

And so, I was told he was eagerly awaiting my visit - to discuss a something in person - But unfortunately this could not materialize.

He personally came to the airport to receive me and took me home. As soon as I kept the Lord in the puja room - he did a Namaskaram to the Lord and we had our dinner together; the very same night he developed a sudden ill health and was hospitalized and things went the unexpected way. I had an opportunity to be with him and his family during his last days.

In the last days of his life, Gopalji was often unwell. More recently, he suffered from a liver problem, which caused his multi organ failure and finally his heart stop beating.

A stream of well wishers and friends took their final chance of seeing him before he was sent to India for the last rites. On behalf of Maha Sasthru Seva Sangam - our prayers to Lord Bhaktaparipala to grant strength to his family and friends to bear the immense loss.

He is no more and on the Muscat Astikas will feel the Vacum so hard to fill.

I will end here: “Those who walk with Guru always reach their destination.”

Friday, April 5, 2013

"ஸ்ரீ ஐயப்ப மாலை"

தமிழ் முனியாம் அகத்தியரால் அருளப்பட்ட ஐயப்ப மாலை.

சபரிமலை பிரதிஷ்டைக்கு வழிகாட்டியவரும், பந்தள வேந்தனுக்கு குருவாக இருந்து ஐயப்ப தத்துவத்தை உணர்த்தியவரும், விரதமுறைகளை வகுத்து கொடுத்தவரும், ஐயனை முதன்முதலில் பூஜித்தவரும் அகத்தியரே ஆவார். சாஸ்தாவின் மூலாதார க்ஷேத்ரமான சொரிமுத்தைய்யன் கோவிலில் தான் அகத்தியருக்கு சாஸ்தாவின் பூர்ண தரிசனம் கிடைக்கிறது என்பது குறிப்பிடத் தக்கது. ஆர்யாங்க்காவு, அச்சன் கோவில் என ஆறு ஆதார சக்ரங்க்களுக்கான கோவில்களிலும் வழிபட்டவர் அகத்தியர். ஆக்ஞா சக்ரமான சபரிமலையில் ஐயனை போற்றி அவர் எழுதியதே இந்த தமிழ் துதி

அய்யன் ஐயப்பன் ஆனந்த சித்தனாக விளங்குவதால், சித்தர்களுக்கேல்லாம் தலைவரான அகத்தியர் ஐயனை இப்படி துதித்தார் போலும்.

இந்த ஐயப்ப மாலை ஸ்ரீ நொச்சூர் ஸ்வாமிகள் மூலமாக அகத்தியர் இவ்வுலகுக்கு அளித்த சொத்து. இது பக்தர்தம் துன்பங்களையும் துயரங்களையும் போக்கி நல்வாழ்வு அருளக்கூடியது.

ஸ்வாமியே சரணம் ஐயப்பா!
- V.அரவிந்த் ஸுப்ரமண்யம்

"ஸ்ரீ ஐயப்ப மாலை" 

வையமும் வானும் வாழ மறைமுதல் தருமம் வாழ
செய்யும் நற்செயல்கள் வாழத் திருவருள் விளக்கம் வாழ
நையும் ஊழுடையார் தத்தம் நலிவு அகன்று இனிது வாழ
ஐயனாய் அப்பனானான் அவர்பதம் வணக்கம் செய்வோம்.

மெய்யெல்லாம் திருநீறாக விழியெலாம் அருள் நீராகப்
பொய்யிலா மனத்தராகிப் புலன் எலாம் ஒருத்தராகி
வெய்ய வேறற்றவுன் விளக்கமுற்றன் பால் விம்மி
ஐயனே அப்பா என்பார் அவர் பதம் வணக்கம் செய்வோஒம்.

சக்தியெலாம் சபரிமலை தத்வமெலாம் சபரிமலை
சித்தியெலாம் சபரிமலை மோனமெலாம் சபரிமலை
முக்தியெல்லாம் சபரிமலை சித்பரமாம் சபரிமலை
புத்தியெல்லாம் சபரிமலை போற்றிடுவாய் நீ மனமே!

ஓங்காரமான மலை ஓதுமறை ஓங்குமலை
ஹ்ரீங்கார மந்த்ர மலை ரிஷிகணங்கள் ஏத்தும் மலை
ஆங்காரம் அழிக்கும் மலை ஆனந்தம் கொழிக்கும் மலை
பாங்கான சபரிமலை பல்வளம்சேர் மலை வளமே!

ஹரிஹர புத்ரா போற்றி அன்பான குருவே போற்றி
புஷ்களை ரமணா போற்றி என்னையாள் சத்குருவே போற்றி
கண்கண்ட நாதா போற்றி சபரிமலை வாசா போற்றி
கஞ்சமலர்ப் பாதா போற்றி ஐயனே போற்றி! போற்றி!

ஸ்வாமியே சரணம் ஐயப்பா!
ஸ்வாமியே சரணம் ஐயப்பா!
ஸ்வாமியே சரணம் ஐயப்பா!