Monday, February 25, 2013

Why so late?

Priya arangan adiyar,
 
Most of us are aware of the great Mahavidwan Kanchi Sri Prathivadi Bhayankara Annangarachariar swamy and the ocean of books written by Him. Swamy started writing at a very young age and had written commentaries on the toughest of works when he had merely entered adulthood. He ventured into areas that even the seasoned vidwans feared to plunge into . Commentaries on Vedas, Sastras, Divya-prabandham , rahaysa grantams,stortra paadam…the list goes endless. After touching upon many areas of Vedanta, swamy decided to write a commentary on the celebrated work of Shri Parasara Bhattar on Srirenganachair called “Srigunaratnakosha”. While writing the commentary, swamy came upon the verse “Srirenga harmyadala mangala deeparekha”. Swamy sat baffled. Words that used to flow from his mind like a waterfall stopped. It seemed all the resources in his possession had drained. What a verse! Swamy tried His best to somehow write a befitting explanation to those verses but whatever He wrote did not satisfy Him. He felt words could not describe the greatness of Srirenganachiar as portrayed by Sri Parasara Bhattar and hence put to rest the writing for sometime before resuming writing a splendid commentary.
Similar has been our experience in writing about the Deepavali celebrations of the Trust that took place at Srirangam. We are referring to the celebrations of the Deepavali that happened on ( 13-11-2012). While our volunteers had written a good report on the Deepavali celebrations here, the spirit of the volunteers and the Gurukulam children in contribution to the kainkaryam can never be captured by words! This realization dawned upon us recently and hence we are proceeding with the earlier written good report. But we request you to not miss the photos. At the cost of repetition, we reiterate the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Here, we rephrase saying “A picture is invaluable”.      
SPREADING THE SWEETNESS
The evening breeze sweeps the mainland and soothes its temper with coolness.  As it finds its connoisseur in the deepness of the city, it picks up on the way the fragrance of the lotuses from lakes, of the nectar of bee-hives and the freshness of gardens to deliver as gifts.
  
The richness of the aroma and the sweetness of the breath enliven the hearts of the weary while serving a drama of nature’s wonder to the others.  That is nature’s way of giving - spreading the sweetness.


On the occasion of Deepavali, Srimaan Trust had its plans of spreading sweetness.  A thousand Jaangris, a thousand Mysore paahus and 160 kilograms of mixture were prepared and offered to Lord Narasimha and Sri Azhvan at Svami Koorathazhwan Sannidhi.

Prasadams sincerely packed by the volunteers with the anusandhanam of stotras :

https://picasaweb.google.com/117130310845842769959/DeepawaliKondattamPackingByVolunteersAndSbgStudents?authkey=Gv1sRgCIeO6qSGmbyO7QE


The prasadam went around like the evening breeze through Srirangam in a series of distribution events.  At Aranganayaki School for girls, it was distributed among 200 children and 10 teachers.  Dr. Mekala of Punnagai Dental Clinic was the Chief Guest of the occasion, also graced by Sri Parasara Azhagiya Singa Bhattar Svami.  Smt. Gomathi, a teacher of Acharyah, delivered the welcome address.  It must be mentioned that Dr. Mekala takes care of the dental health of the Gurukulam students without charging any fees.

Distribution at Aranganayaki school : little innocent kids just loved the eatables.


The prasadam was also distributed among 300 children and 18 teachers of South Ranga School.  Dr. Keerthana of Pankajam Hospital was the Chief Guest of the event, which was graced by Sri Parasara Azhagiya Singa Bhattar Svami and Sri Parasara Thiruvengada Bhattar Svami.

Distribution at South Renga school :

https://picasaweb.google.com/117130310845842769959/DeepawaliKondattam2012IISouthRengaMiddleSchool?authkey=Gv1sRgCMPN-Pi4r_7X9wE

The DGM of Canara Bank, Sri. Sampathkumar and his wife Smt. Devaki distributed dress and sweets to the Kainkaryashrees at Srirangam and the children of Acharyah. The past employees of the Trust were also invited and given dress. Further dress was distributed among other deserving children and parents of Srimaan Bhattar Kuzhaam. 

Distribution of dresses to SBK students and parents :



Sri. Sundaresan, the owner of Shankar Cafe, along with his wife and daughter-in-law gave away dresses to the students of Gurukulam.  Sri. Sundaresan devoutly performs Thadheeyaradhanam at Gurukulam every two months.  The prasadam was distributed by the donor Sri Thiruvali Srinivasan Svami and Sri Parasara Azhagiya Singa Bhattar Swami.  The dress and prasadam were distributed among not only the children of Gurukulam, but also among their siblings.  The teachers of gurukulam, the agama teachers and the teachers of extra curricular activities were also presented with dress and prasadam.  The events at Gurukulam were held in conjunction with the annual parents-teachers meeting.

The Gurukulam children and their siblings( not in Gurukulam) being gifted…

https://picasaweb.google.com/117130310845842769959/DeepawaliKondattam2012VSrimaanBhattarGurukulam?authkey=Gv1sRgCJey1MvH4-Xf_QE

The prasadam was also distributed among all the Acharya Purushas of Srirangam, adhyapakas, veda parayana goshti, upanyasakas, all the 54 sannidhi archakas, satradha srivaishnavas and also among the other temple kainkaryaparas including peons.  Further the resident donors of the Trust and advertisers were also given the prasadams. 


The joy of  giving the prasadams on behalf of the Poorvacharyas is enormous. We invite all of you to be with us next Deepavali and enjoy this bliss.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I shall perform all services


Priya arangan adiyars,

When Lord Rama left to the woods to honor the commitment of his father, His brother Lakshmana accompanied Him to perform all services to the Lord and His consort.  In the Ramayana, Lakshmana or Ilayaperumal stands out for his countless services pleasing the Lord and His consort.

The words of Lakshmana, "aham sarvam karishyami" (I will perform all services) are quoted often by the commentators of Divya Prabandhams to drive home the concepts of seshathvam and kainkaryam.

Even as the Lord resides in Srivaikunta carefully and blissfully served by the countless residents of the land, He takes several incarnations for redemption of the souls bound to material world.  Furthermore, for the sake of the souls of all times,  He presents Himself in several stations in the image form - called Archavathara.

In this form, He provides joyous experiences to the devotees, almost dancing to their tunes and granting them all goodness, as if existing only for their sake.  He accepts various forms of services from His devotees in the manner of graduating them to perform eternal services post salvation.

The worship of Vishnu is the most noble of all actions - second only to the worship of His devotees.  It is Srimaan Trust's monthly agenda to honor devotees connected with temples and sannidhis.  On the 30th of January, Svami Bhuvarahan of Chennai Chitlapakkam Varadaraja Perumal Sannidhi and Sri Sudarsan Svami of Balaji Mandhir (Ahobila Mutt) were honored as part of Sannidhi Vandanam.  The svamis are versed in Divya Prabandham, Agamam and Thiruvaradhanam.  For the students, the association of such svamis was an excellent inspiration and blessing.

The photos can be viewed at :

https://picasaweb.google.com/117130310845842769959/Vandhanam?authkey=Gv1sRgCKiYgoea5rzY6wE#5840894980916216386

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Serene Scent....

Sri:
Srimate Ramanujaya nama:
"Thondin aaradhanai"
( A drop of gratitude)

Weaving the heart….

Date : 05/01/2013

The two brothers descended the chariot. Dusk had fallen and the gleaming golden rays of the sun painted the blue sky crimson. Akrura was mightily pleased to have driven Lord and the Lord’s elder brother to Mathura. His life had attained its objective. He had risen from being a sinner’s servant to the saviour’s servant. Having got down the chariot, SriKrishna and Balarama proceeded with great fervor towards their uncle’s castle. After plucking the head of a non-heeding washerman and dressing themselves to complete satisfaction, they paced up. It was then that they spotted a florist. Seeing his collection of flowers, the Lord felt the rest of the world borrowed flowers from him. What was life in Vrindavan? No flowers to beautify the body, no chandana to besmear across the chest. But here was a man stitching fragrant flowers for their mama! The two young cowherds approached the busy florist. Seeing the lovely lotus-eyes perched in a dark face and the bewitching smile spread across the lips, the florist felt a sudden surge of utmost devotion and love for the Lord. And the Lord demanded a set of fine garlands contrasting His impregnated cloud –like thirumeni and the snow-like fair texture of His brother’s thirumeni. The florist’s joy knew no bounds. How could he be so blessed to touch the tender yet valorous shoulders of the paramatma and garland Him. And with a heart brimming with love, he decorated the Lord and His brother with the best and costliest of flowers in his possession. The Lord had his eyes fixed upon this new found devotee. What love was that! This man, who sold flowers for livelihood had sold his heart to Him. While leaving the hut of this devotee, the Lord knew He would not see him again. And the devotee Maaladhara too knew this was his last darshan of the cowherd boys.

The fascination of flowers did not vanish from the heart of Lord Krishna. If vibhavam had a short time frame to adhere to, archavataram has a long duration. And as Lord Parthasarathy gracing the Brindaranyakshetram, the Lord needn’t walk to the door of a florist and request for garland today. The three women, Smt Parimala, Smt Nachair and Selvi Banu see to that the Lord receives the best of fragrant fresh flowers every day. Freshly blossomed flowers are handpicked from the new set of flowers that arrive. While Smt Parimala has transformed a room in her house into a ‘flower weaving room’, Smt Nachiar and Banu see to that all the requirements for weaving a garland are kept ready. They sit together every morning and stitch flowers with their hands while their lips utter the divine names of Lord Parthasarathy. In addition to this kainkaryam, Smt Nachiar is igniting the minds of many by teaching divya-prabandham and stotra paadam everyday.

But is the Lord happy with the physical flowers that bedeck Him every day? This beautiful shloka throws light on the heart of the Lord :

अहिन्सा प्रथमं पुष्पं पुष्पं इन्द्रिय निग्रह:
सर्वभूतदय पुष्पं क्षमा पुष्पं विशेषत:
ज्ञानं पुष्पं तप: पुष्पं ध्यानं पुष्पम्तु सप्तमं
सत्यं अष्टविदं पुष्पं विष्णो: प्रीतिकरं भवेत्

“ Non violence in the first flower, control of the senses next,
Compassion for all creatures is next, tolerance is the next flower,
Knowledge is the next of the flowers, austerity next and contemplation is the seventh,
And the eighth is the flower of Truth. And these eight pacify Vishnu”

What the Lord expects is purity of the heart while doing His kainkaryam. Since the above traits are seen in the above kainkaryaparas, the Lord is happily accepting the physical garlands woven by them.

Let us all pray for the continuation of the wonderful Pushpa kainkaryam done to Lord Parthasarathy.

Seek the blessings of them here :

Parimala Mami:

https://picasaweb.google.com/117130310845842769959/FlowerJan5?authkey=Gv1sRgCKzQ3M7hjd2UPA#5843838243603197794

Nachiar Mami:

https://picasaweb.google.com/117130310845842769959/FlowerJan5?authkey=Gv1sRgCKzQ3M7hjd2UPA#5843838317283665858

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Wind with wisdom - Final


Priya arangan adiyars,

Margazhi breeze from Srirangam continues ...

Na:tyam and Sangi:tham

When words are set to music, the bha:vam of the song transcends all barriers of language and listener is transported to the world of the composer. The Bhattar group were taught to sing Thiruppa:vai pa:surams by two music teachers. Even though pa:ttu ma:mi had some throat issues, she came and taught the children lovingly every single day. A young lady from Puttur (about 40 mins away from Srirangam) came every single day on time and volunteered the entire day in addition to teaching the children to sing pa:surams.

Words don’t need translation when the song is being danced to. The coordinators had assigned the role of dance teacher to three girls of eighth standard. They were allotted girls in the Bhattar group (ages 4 – 9) as their students. The dance teachers were stunned on the first day and begged to be allotted older girls. However, they had to take up the charge of the little ones for the rest of the camp. Anyone who watched the performances on the Valedictory function could not guess that the dancers on stage were trained by such young teachers. They had done an amazing job mentoring the young ones.

The camp provided an excellent platform to talented youth to expand their bandwidth and gain new experience mentoring budding talents.



Yo:ga

Yo:ga was taught to campers of both groups and both genders by an experienced yoga practitioner. The highlight of her teaching yo:ga to the children was that however young they may be, they knew exactly what benefits they derive from the pra:na:yama or a:sana they are learning. A six year old boy demonstrated to his mother one night what he had learnt in yo:ga session and spelt out the benefits. The mother was astonished. When there were 133 children in all, how did the teacher convey her message to every single child so clearly?



Ambulating the streets :

The children seamlessly befriended the streets with the posters of strong words from thiruppavai. The onlookers stood where they were and read the words of the five year old girl…


There were children from all kinds of backgrounds and all strata of the society. Under one umbrella (padaccha:ya of Bhattar) they all came together (ku:diyirundu kulirndu) and immersed themselves in a:nda:l's teachings. Some had never heard of a:nda:l and some were more than well versed with her teachings, but there was something for everyone to take away from the camp. There was no set agenda in the camp to measure up to, the only aim was to raise them to a higher platform from where they were in those seven days.

Sri Embar swamy graced the final day function of the camp. Just as Sri Ramanujacharya came to Srirangam from Sriperumbudur to bless the inhabitants, Sri Embar swamy came all the way from Sriperumbudur with the sole aim of blessing the children. It was only a phone call a few days before the function that brought to his notice the happenings at Srirangam. and the mention of children was enough for swamy to readily accept a tedious car journey. His presence was a great blessing for one and all present for the function.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Wind with wisdom - II



Priya arangan adiyars,

Margazhi breeze from Srirangam continues ...

Amidts a sea of bhakthi…

Children starting from 4 years of age were singing Thiruppa:vai and it was great pleasure to listen to their version of Thiruppa:vai. A typical day at the camp began with prayer, and then Thiruppa:vai Santhai, followed by stories (for younger lot)/vya:kya:nam (for older lot) session, and then came kainkaryams like garland-making, prasa:dam making, yo:ga. These were the activities in the forenoon. The post-lunch session began with na:ma sanki:rtanam, music and then followed by project activities for the older lot called as a:zhwa:n group (10 yrs and more).During this time the younger lot called as Bhattar group (upto 9 yrs) practised skits based on pa:surams depicting Sri: Vaishnava lakshanam and villu pa:ttu, learnt to sing the pa:surams set to different ra:gams, learnt to depict different pa:surams by dancing and learnt to perform Harikathai.

Volunteers from various places flock to teach thiruppavai...

The students were empowered to use their thoughts, words and actions for the purpose of Kainkaryam (thu:malar thu:vi thozhudhu va:yinAl pa:di manathina:l sindhikka). The students who attended the camp were indeed privileged to get a taste of Thiruppa:vai and its vyakya:nams at this young age (pinja:i pazhutha:l). Unlike their routine method of learning in a conventional setting, they could effortlessly learn the essence of Thiruppa:vai through plays, dance and projects. The camp was a great success in terms of its content and the message it conveyed.

Pushpa kainkaryam

A Kainkaryasree performing Pushpa kainkaryam at Madhurakavi nandavanam for more than 25 years, volunteered to teach the process of making a garland to all children from Azhwan group. The utmost care they have for Emperuma:n can be seen from the way they do kainkaryam. They clean their hands and legs before starting, keep the flowers at some elevated place (so that they don’t lie around in the place where we walk), and they cover their mouth with a cloth so that the sanctity of the flowers are maintained. They do not talk while making garlands. The only reason for which they open their mouth while making garlands is to chant His holy names. This kainkaryasree voluntarily came to teach the children, more than what he had committed for. Also Smt. Rajalakshmi from Kanchipuram volunteered to shape the flowers from girls of Azhwan group.

Stringing flowers for the lord...

Prasadam making

As a part of daily kainkaryam entitled to us, making prasadam and offering it to Empeuma:n is an important one. The children attending the camp got an opportunity to learn to make Pongal for their Emperuma:n. A kainkaryasree of the Trust Smt. Lakshmi taught them to make Pongal. Later the Pongal was offered to Emperuma:n and the prasa:dam was shared with everyone.

Enjoy cooking....eat later...

Making ThirukkOlam for EmperumAn

The students from Srimaan Bhattar Gurukulam are a great asset of the Trust. Whenever there is need for kainkaryam, they are ready to pitch in and help. One such student Navaneetha Krishnan came to the camp along with their gurukula a:ra:dhanai peruma:l and taught AzhwAn boys to make alanka:rams for Emperuma:n. The children were very enthusiastic in learning the intricacies of making various alanka:rams.

Once, when they were not in class, the coordinator of the camp found a group of a:zhwa:n boys huddled together and doing something very seriously. It was not apparent what they were doing as they were completely hiding what they were doing. When she asked what it was they were seriously doing, the children moved away and revealed that they were dressing up a perumal one of the boys brought from home! The coordinator felt that the camp has already achieved its success that a group of pre-teen/teen boys were dressing up perumal in their free time instead of rolling and fighting or talking about video games/movies. 

More storm to come from Andal's Thiruppavai ...