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Showing posts from June, 2009

The rains are here!!!!!

Ah! At last! I can hear the pitter-patter of the drops as they fall on my window pane….. When I open the window, the smell of wet earth fills my nostrils… how I have waited for this! Since the first week of June, we have been preparing ourselves for the monsoon, and every day that passed without rain was a depressing one. Then, we were hit by the water-cut, which only made things worse. All over, people are praying for rain. While some look at scientific methods, others perform havans. Some, like my mother-in-law and her friends, read slokas which are guaranteed to bring rains. Whatever the method, the aim is just one – a normal monsoon – not just for Bombay, but all of India. As the days passed, and July approaches, the hopes dipped, and all over, there was talk of a missed-monsoon and drought! But at last, there is hope! Since the last two days , it has been raining here (at least in our locality). The Met Department says these are just pre-monsoon thundershowers, but whatever the

The Legend of Sri Venkateswara Part 6 - The Temple today

This is the final instalment of the story of Lord Venkateswara. Please read the earlier portions before reading further... Part 1 - The Lord descends on Earth Part 2 - The Lord finds a mother... and also a wife... Part 3 - The story of Padmavati Part 4 - A marriage is fixed.. and the finance too...   Part 5 - The marriage.. and after.... It is believed that the lord remained in the temple in person for a long time in the early part of Kali Yuga. It was only when the age progressed, and the real dark nature of the age started progressing that he decided to transform himself into the statue which is seen today. It is believed that He has shown himself to some of his dearest devotees since then. It is also believed that Padmavati remains in her hometown at Tiruchanur, while she remains symbolically in the heart of the Lord on the hill. Hence, it is customary to visit her at Tiruchanur after visiting the lord. Also, since it is believed that Mahalakshmi remains in Kolhapu

The Legend of Sri Venkateswara Part 5 - The Marriage.. and after...

Please read the earlier parts of the story before proceeding further: Part 1 - The Lord descends on Earth Part 2 - The Lord finds a mother... and also a wife... Part 3 - The story of Padmavati Part 4 - A marriage is fixed.. and the finance too... The financial aspect having been settled , preparations for the wedding commenced in full swing. These days, just a simple marriage in an Indian family has an attendance running into hundreds, and in a big marriage, into thousands. Imagine, then, the attendance at the lord’s marriage – all the 33 crore gods of Indian mythology, not to mention the sages and Demi Gods… the list must have been endless….. And it was the lord’s mount, Garuda, who was deputed to dispatch the invitations personally to each and every one of them!!!!!! The lord was dressed in gorgeous garments by the gods themselves, and they all proceeded towards Narayanapuram, where they were welcomed by the king and queen, who were thrilled by the sight! All their qualms a

The Legend of Sri Venkateswara Part 4 - A marriage is fixed.. and the finance too.....

Please read the first 3 parts before reading further.. Part 1 - The Lord descends on Earth Part 2 - The lord finds a mother.. and also a wife... Part 3 - The story of Padmavati Let's continue the story after Sinivasa and Padmavati met at the lake....While Srinivasa and Padmavati pined for each other, their parents worried about what was ailing their children. At last, after much questioning, Srinivasa told Vakula Devi about the incident and told her that he wished to marry Padmavati. Forestalling her worry that the marriage would be impossible, he also told her Padmavati’s real identity, as well as his. He then asked her to go to Akasa raja and ask for Padmavati’s hand in marriage to her son. Vakula Devi was only too delighted to go to the king on such a blessed errand. Once Vakula Devi had left, Srinivasa wondered what kind of a reception she would have at the palace. He decided to make things easier for her, and decided to take matters into his own hand. Disguising him

The Legend of Sri Venkateswara Part 3 - The story of Padmavati

Please read the earlier parts before going further - Part 1 - The Lord descnds on Earth Part 2 - The Lord finds a mother... and his wife too... Vedavati was a great devotee of Vishnu who wished to marry the lord himself. She performed great penances with this aim. However, once, the demon king Ravana was passing by, and was enamoured by her beauty. He tried to convince her to marry him, but she refused. When he tried to force her, she invoked Agni (Fire) by the powers of her penance, and fell into it, cursing Ravana that his downfall would be brought about by a woman, and she would be responsible for her death. Years later , Ravana planned to abduct Sita while Rama and Lakshmana were away. Coming to know of the plan, Agni took his place in the Lakshmana rekha – the line drawn by Lakshmana to protect Sita. When Sita crossed the line to give alms to Ravana disguised as a sage, Agni subtly interchanged Vedavati for Sita, and sent Sita to his wife for her safety. It was thus Vedavat

The Legend of Sri Venkateswara Part 2- The Lord finds a mother.. and a wife too......

Please read the first part of the story before going further - Part 1 - The Lord descends on Earth A lady named Vakula Devi attended to Varaha Swamy at his shrine. The arrival of the lord incited her maternal instincts, and she cared for him and nursed him back to good health. It was she who gave him the name – Srinivasa – the name by which He is now well known in this age. Deviating from the main story , let’s go back in time to learn about Vakula Devi, and how she earned the honour to act as the mother of the lord. During the Dwapara Yuga, when the lord incarnated as Krishna, he was born to Devaki, and was fostered by Yashoda. While Yashoda enjoyed every bit of Krishna’s childhood, her only regret was that she was unable to see her beloved son getting married. The lord promised her that he would fulfill her desire in the Kali Yuga, when he would take the form of Srinivasa. Yashoda had thus taken birth as Vakula Devi and was awaiting the marriage of her son. Coming back to our

The Legend of Sri Venkateswara Part 1 - The Lord descends on Earth

One of the most interesting things about temples is their connection to mythology (of course, if you are interested in mythology!). Much as we may be skeptical towards stories from Indian mythology, there is a certain attraction about them, which is hard to resist (at least for me :-) ). Samhith too is following in my footsteps, asking a hundred (sometimes more :-( ) questions about the stories related to every temple we have been to. He was especially fascinated by the story of Tirupati, and made me relate it again and again till he had every detail fixed in his mind. He was so enthusiastic about it, I wondered if other kids would have similar interests too, and whether their parents would be able to satisfy their curiosity….. this story is for all of you out there….. Moms, dads, grandparents, kids (those of you who can read this…)…… The story begins at a conclave of sages, who had come together to perform a special yagna. They were interrupted by sage Narada, who is famous for hi

Tirupati Part 2

Tirupati is probably the most talked about temple in India , and there isn’t much I can add about either the temple or the deity. There are a number of websites that can give you all the information you require, foremost among which is that of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam . The site gives all details of the temple, its history, the deities, the places around it, and most important, the sevas you can perform, the queue details and accommodation facilities. Today, booking is possible online, but a better option is to use the call centre, or better still, call the Office. They are well conversant in English and Tamil, and are very helpful. You can find the complete list of sevas and their details here . Since the website gives all the necessary details, I shall not go into them here, but if any of you have a problem or want any clarifications, please feel free to write to me at anushankarn@gmail.com Meanwhile, here is a photoblog of our Tirupati trip- Here are the seven hills as

Tirupati Part 1 - Some Temples around Tirupati

I first visited Tirupati when I was about 10 or 11 years old. My mom had taken a vow to walk up the hills to reach the temple, something which everyone thought at the time, extremely foolhardy. My mom refused to budge, and accordingly, the trip was made, with a whole horde of relatives accompanying us. While it was, to most of them, an important pilgrimage, to me and a cousin (a year or two younger), it was an adventure, something we enjoyed thoroughly. Even today, it is this first journey up the hill which remains one of my happiest memories – my very first experience of travel. There is much to write about that journey, but maybe some other time…. Meanwhile, here’s an account of a journey we made just last month to the temple amidst the seven hills, which, to me, in spite of the huge crowd (which the temple has now become famous for…), remains a place of special importance. My mom and aunt had been planning a trip to Tirupati to perform certain sevas (religious rituals), for almo

Prashanti Nilayam - Abode of Supreme Peace

Situated in the deep interior of Andhra Pradesh, in the Anantapur district, is a small village by the name of Puttaparthi. It would have remained in oblivion for ever, had it not been for Sri Sathya Sai Baba , who was born in this little known village, and decided to make it his home for ever, notwithstanding all his popularity and his far reaching activities. Today , Prashanti Nilayam , his ashram is truly an abode of supreme peace, embodying the ideals he propagates, and attracts millions of people from every remote corner of the world. While once, years back, swami sat on the sands and spoke to his friends and the few who followed him about life and how to make it worthwhile, today, as he sits on his wheelchair and discourses in the beautifully decorated Kulwant Hall, we have to crane our necks to get a better glimpse of him. While I am a comparatively new entrant into the fold, my genes did show the way, for my grandfather had a deep respect for Baba. My in-laws, however, hav

A Race Against Time - a brief respite from travelogues

Our vacation in Kerala was to end with Thekkady , and we were scheduled to go our separate ways from Cochin (Ernakulam), where, at 11:30AM, Shankar had a flight booked for Bombay, and Samhith and I were to board a train for Tiruppur from Ernakulam Town, at the same time, where we were to continue our vacation with my sister-in-law. Accordingly, we started by a hired car from Thekkady at 6 AM. By 9AM, we were on the outskirts of Cochin, and when the driver informed us that we were near Kalady, we decided to take advantage of the extra time and visit the temple. We spent barely half an hour in the temple, and left reluctantly, only because we had a flight and train to catch. We reached the airport just in time for Shankar to check in, and raced off towards Ernakulam station, which is about 45 Kms from the airport. The driver now decided to inform me that the journey would take at least an hour and a half, and that we might be late!! I blasted him, but obviously, it was to no avail, as