Monday, January 1, 2018


"Yudhishthira said, 'Do thou discourse to me once again, O grandsire, upon the merits attaching to gifts of sesame and of lamps for lighting darkness, as also of food and robes.'

"Bhishma said, 'In this connection, O Yudhishthira, is recited the narrative of the discourse that took place in ancient times between a Brahmana and Yama. In the country lying between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, at the foot of the hills called Yamuna, there was a large town inhabited by Brahmanas. The town was celebrated under the name of Parnasala and was very delightful in appearance, O king. A large number of learned Brahmanas lived in it. One day, Yama, the ruler of the dead, commanded a messenger of his, who was clad in black, endued with blood-red eyes and hair standing erect, and possessed of feet, eyes, and nose all of which resembled those of a crow, saying, 'Go thou to the town inhabited by Brahmanas and bring hither the person known by the name of Sarmin and belonging by birth to the race of Agastya. He is intent on mental tranquillity and possessed of learning. He is a preceptor engaged in teaching the Vedas and his practices are well-known. Do not bring me another person belonging to the same race and living in the same neighbourhood. This other man is equal unto him I want, in virtues, study, and birth. With respect to children and conduct, this other resembles the intelligent Sarmin. Do thou bring the individual I have in view. He should be worshipped with respect (instead of being dragged hither with irreverence).' The messenger having come to the place, did the very reverse of what he had been bidden to do. Attacking that person, he brought him who had been forbidden by Yama to be brought. Possessed of great energy, Yama rose up at the sight of the Brahmana and worshipped him duly. The king of the dead then commanded his messenger, saying, 'Let this one be taken back, and let the other one be brought to me.' When the great judge of the dead said these words, that Brahmana addressed him and said, 'I have completed my study of the Vedas and am no longer attached to the world. Whatever period may yet remain of my mortal existence, I wish to pass, dwelling even here, O thou of unfading glory!

"Yama said, 'I cannot ascertain the exact period, ordained by Time, of one's life, and hence, unurged by Time, I cannot allow one to take up one's residence here. I take note of the acts of righteousness (or otherwise) that one does in the world. Do thou, O learned Brahmana of great splendour return immediately to thy abode. 'I ell me what also is in thy mind and what I can do for thee, O thou of unfading glory!'

"The Brahmana said, 'Do thou tell me what those acts are by accomplishing which one may earn great merit. O best of all beings, thou art the foremost of authorities (on the subject) even in the three worlds.'

"Yama said, 'Do thou hear, O regenerate Rishi, the excellent ordinances regarding gifts. The gift of sesame seeds is a very superior one. It produces everlasting merit. O foremost of regenerate ones, one should make gifts of as much sesame as one can. By making gifts of sesame every day, one is sure to attain the fruition of one's every wish. The gift of sesame at Sraddhas is applauded. Verily the gift of sesame is a very superior one. Do thou make gifts of sesame unto the Brahmanas according to the rites ordained in the scriptures. One should on the day of the full moon of the month of Vaisakha, make gilts of sesame unto the Brahmanas. They should also be made to eat and to touch sesame on every occasion that one can afford. They that are desirous of achieving what is beneficial to them should, with their whole souls, do this in their houses. 2 Without doubt, men should similarly make gifts of water and establish resting places for the distribution of drinking water. One should cause
tanks and lakes and wells to be excavated. Such acts are rare in the world, O best of regenerate persons! Do thou always make gifts of water. This act is fraught with great merit. O best of regenerate persons, thou shouldst establish resting places along the roads for the distribution of water. After one has eaten, the gift unto one should especially be made of water for drink.'

"Bhishma continued, 'After Yama had said these words unto him, the messenger who had borne him from his abode conveyed him back to it. The Brahmana, on his return, obeyed the instructions he had received. Having thus conveyed him back to his abode the messenger of Yama fetched Sarmin who had really been sought by Yama. Taking Sarmin unto him, he informed his master. Possessed of great energy, the judge of the dead worshipped that righteous Brahmana, and having conversed with him a while dismissed him for being taken back to his abode. Unto him also Yama gave the same instructions. Sarmin, too, coming back into the world of men, did all that Yama had said. Like the gift of water, Yama, from a desire of doing good to the Pitris, applauds the gift of lamps to light dark places. Hence, the giver of a lamp for lighting a dark place is regarded as benefiting the Pitris. Hence, O best of the Bharatas, one should always give lamps for lighting dark spots. The giving of lamps enhances the visual power of the deities, the Pitris, and one's own self. 1 It has been said, O king, that the gift of gems is a very superior gift. The Brahmana, who, having accepted a gift of gems, sells the same for performing a sacrifice, incurs no fault. The Brahmana, who, having accepted a gift of gems makes a gift of them unto Brahmanas. acquires inexhaustible merit himself and confers inexhaustible merit upon him from whom he had originally received them. Conversant with every duty Manu himself has said that he, who, observant of proper restraints, earns makes a gift of gems unto a Brahmana observant of proper restraints earns inexhaustible merit himself and confers inexhaustible merit upon the recipient. The man who is content with his own wedded wife and who makes a gift of robes, earns an excellent complexion and excellent vestments for himself. I have told thee, O foremost of men, what the merits are that attach to gifts of kine, of gold, and the sesame agreeably to deserve precepts of the Vedas and the scriptures One should marry and raise offspring upon one's wedded wives. Of all acquisitions, O son of Kuru's race, that of male issue is regarded as the foremost.'"

Friday, December 15, 2017


THE SHRINE of Sithanvazhoor, near Thirukudanthai (Kumbakonam), 5 km on the southeastern side from Valangaiman, where many siddhars lived, is also known for its natural beauty. It is surrounded by four temples in all four directions. River Sullanar flows on its northern side. Sage Agasthiyar, visited the place to worship the siddhars, during the holy wedding of Lord Siva and Parvathi.

Unable to bear the pain of people suffering without water, he prayed to Lord Siva and drew a line with a stick, (sulli, in Tamil) and prayed that the Ganges should flow from within the line drawn. And water started flowing. The river, therefore, got the name River Agasthiya River or Sullan. It is also called Poigai as there was an uninterrupted flow of water.

Centuries ago, siddhars with Ashtamasiddhis lived in many places. Eleven out of 66 siddhars, headed by Sage Agasthiyar, had stayed in this place. Thus the place got the name Sithanvazhoor. The siddhars installed Lingams and worshiped them. Sri Kailasanadhar, one of the five Lingams the siddhars established, is still at Sri Kailasanadhar temple here. The Vedic exponents performed rites and rituals at this holy place. They elevated the village through their skills in languages of North and South, scriptures, arts and crafts.

One of the siddhars brought the Viswanathar Banam from Kasi, with which he installed Sri Viswanatha at a temple where Vayu, the God of Air worshipped. Ashtadik Balagars (Lords of eight directions), especially Vayu Bhagavan, the Lord of North, from the nearby temple of Alangudi Abathsahayeswarar (Guru Kshetram), performed puja facing the northwest direction.

Sri Kailasanadhar is in His full form in Lingam, which also stands for Nataraja and the Navagrahas. There is no separate sannidhi for Navagrahas at this temple. During the Tamil month of Margazhi, on the day of Aarudhra, the locals follow the traditional practice of offering `Pallayam' (offering on a large scale). This holy temple, found at the `Vayu Corner,' is a special feature of this temple.

Another outstanding feature of Sithanvazhoor is its location in the midst of four shrines, which entail the admiration of four directions, namely, Thirukalampudur, Padagacheri (named after the siddhar who lived there), Alangudi, the shrine of Guru and Aandankoil, the shrine of Ruthu.

It is said that Kaluvarayaswamy, an avatar of Lord Siva, on seeing this place where siddhars had lived, chose to stay here with his chariot.

Sage Agasthiyar, who installed Sri Viswanathar on the shores of the River Agasthiya, was an ardent devotee of Goddess Kamakshi Amman and installed the deity on the southern side.

It is believed that the Goddess, even today, protects her devotees and cures them of all kinds of eye ailments. About 60 years ago, this temple's hundi was kept at the house of a landlord, Bangaru. When a thief attempted to rob money from the hundi, he found a cobra safeguarding it. The next morning the villagers were stunned to see the cobra lying beside the hundi. There are more such incidents the temple speaks of.

With the help of the devotees, the Kumbhabishekam of Sri Kamakshi Amman temple was performed in 1992. From then on, various religious rituals such as Samvasthra Abhishekam and Eakadina Laksharchana are being organised every year, during June/July.

The presence of Lord Varadaraja, with His Consorts Sridevi and Bhoomineeladevi, in the northern yard, is a rare phenomenon. Kudamuzhukku was held in 1963.

At present the temple is in a highly dilapidated state. Renovation of the temple is on with the help of the villagers of Sithanvazhoor and the blessings of the Kanchi Math. Contributions may be made in the name, Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal Narpani Mandram, and sent to Sithanvazhoor R. Vanchinathan, Old No. 22/ New No. 34, IV Main Road, Kasturba Nagar, Adyar, Chennai-600020. (Phone: 044-24413908).

Saturday, November 25, 2017


प्रह्लादनुत गोविन्द वज्र स्तम्भज श्रीधर |
अत्रैव तिष्ठ भगवन् रक्ष भक्तान् त्वदा श्रितान् ||

Hariharapura is the holy land where Agastya Maharishi performed intense penance worshipping Lord Sri LakshmiNarasimha. By Guru-Shishya tradition, the LakshmiNarasimha Deity and Shalagrama worshipped by Sage Agastya were passed on to His Para Shishya (Disciple’s disciple) Sri Govinda Yogi.

After many years, Sri Govinda Yogi while on Theertha Yatra came to Hariharapura. Sri Swayamprakasha Krishna Yogeendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji, the 1st Peetadhipathi of Sreemath Hariharapura, learnt the arrival of Govinda Yogi and welcomed Him with due respect. Sri Acharyal (Krishna Yogeendra Saraswathi) saw the LakshmiNarasimha Swamy deity and Shalagrama with Govinda Yogi and felt an unknown attraction towards it. Acharyal enquired about this to Sri Govinda Yogi, who narrated the glorious history of the idol and Shalagrama, which was earlier the Aradhana Moorthy of Agastya Maharishi. “Sage Agastya having arrived from Varanasi, while travelling towards Malaya Mountain as per the guidance of Lord Shiva, met my Guru and gave him this LakshmiNarasimha idol and Shalagrama. My Guru worshipped this deity of LakshmiNarasimha as per the instructions of Agastya Maharishi and received the grace of the Lord and finally attained salvation,” said Sri Govinda Yogi.

LakshmiNarasimha at sreemath hariharapuraHearing this, Sri Swayamprakasha Krishna Yogeendra Swaraswathi Mahaswamiji with all humility expressed to Govinda Yogi His desire to have the deity and Shalagrama at Hariharapura itself and offer daily worship as per the instructions imparted by Agastya Maharishi. Sri Govinda Yogi was much pleased to know this, as Hariharapura was the very place where the deity and Shalagrama were originally worshipped by Sage Agastya. Realizing this to be the Anujnya of Lord LakshmiNarasimha Swamy Himself, Sri Govinda Yogi immediately handed over the LakshmiNarasimha Moorthy and Shalagrama to Sri Swayampraksha Krishna Yogeendra Saraswathi Mahaswamiji.

From then, Lord Sri LakshmiNarasimha Swamy has been the chief deity of Sreemath Hariharapura, worshipped since ages by the Acharyas in the Guruparampara lineage of Sreemath. Even today, this ancient LakshmiNarasimha Deity and Shalagrama (earlier the Aradhana Moorthy of Agastya Maharishi) are still worshipped at the main shrine of the Sharada LakshmiNarasimha Swamy Temple in Hariharapura. It is said that, worshipping this powerful LakshmiNarasimha Swamy and Shalagrama would wash out every spec of Poorva Karma and easily lead one to salvation.