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Dear Reader
I have not written much in English and much less a work of this genre. Last
year, I had written in Thamizh a fact fiction story about how my ancestors had
moved from a village in Andhra Pradesh to Tanjore in Thamizhnadu. Some of
my relatives read it and appreciated it but they also told me that they could
not ask their children to read it as they do not know Thamizh. I did some quick
calculations and found that in the next generation of our extended family more
than 70 percent would have difficulty in reading Thamizh especially the kind of
prose which I had written.
I had only one option to take the story to the next generation of chetlurians
and that is to rewrite the story in English. It is a challenge to rewrite a story full
of Thamizh proverbs, songs and hymns. I found it difficult to capture the spirit
of my Thamizh writing as Thamizh is a very emotional language and it conveys
the passion or poignancy much better. There are simply no equivalents for
some of the words in English.
While the Thamizh version is more family oriented, I have tried to write the
English Version as a window of the society of 18
century. I am aware that
many of the junior people who read this are likely to be less swayed by the
family events but would be keen on learning about the society and its customs.
So, I tried to present the events as consequences of the social mores. I have
tried to make the narration crisp and reduce the length by dropping some of
the songs so that people who read English fast do not get distracted.
I did not prefer to annotate every incident with a link to its place in history as it
would become as boring as a history text book. I have given references at the
end of the story and the serious reader can take the time to go further into
those personalities and the incidents. With this introduction, I invite you to
read the English version, enjoy it and be proud of the Vijayanagara Empire
which lives in us though it is dead. Vanakkam.
C P Chandrasekaran May 11, 2014, Pune, India

Dear Reader, Vanakkam. Revolutionary changes took place in our
country between 1650 CE and 1725 CE. The Vijayanagar Empire
which had no parallel in terms of its power and command came to an
end and the infighting among Nayaks resulted in Marathas capturing
Tanjore. All these are recorded in the annals of history. Starting from
here, I started looking for the facts related to my ancestors migrating
from Chetlur their village in Andhra Pradesh to Tanjore and that
search has become a story. In this background, the story of a
migration of a family started evolving and in a while, I realised that
instead of me writing the story, the story was deciding the events.
Each character sat in front of me as it were and told me how the
story should go. I had thus become an instrument to tell their story.
Though the story is theirs, the technique is mine. Since the events
happened more than 300 years ago, I had to use some techniques
while telling the story and I hope they add value to the reading
experience. I have added many Thamizh lyrics and songs which may
irk some as they come in between and seem to distract the reader.
Actually, these lyrics and songs fulfil an important purpose of
concisely conveying the feelings which would be difficult if possible
in prose. Writers are normally addressed as creative people. It
does not apply to me. I have not created the story as one would
expect. Instead, the story has created a writer. For identifying a
hidden writer in me, I bow in deep reverence to the holy place
Chetlur and also to the great men and women who lived there and
who probably still live there. As Thyagaraja sangEntaro
mahanubavu antariki vandanamu Vanakkam.
C P Chandrasekaran 2013
April 21, 2013
Radius 1
Kumbakonam Kangeyan Gandhi Park 1962
Guruppa, if all these elephants which are shaped out of grass would become
real elephants, how nice it would be? I asked my grandfather addressed by
everyone as Guruppa. It was evening 6.30 and the place was Kangeyan Gandhi
Park in Kumbakonam. The evening Regional news just got finished and the
people gathered round the loud speakers placed at all strategic points in the
park started moving out. Some were cursing This Chou-en-Lai has cheated our
Nehru and he will never prosper to convey their displeasure at the Chinese
aggression in the border in the winter of 1962. One from the crowd passed us
and enquired my grandfather Hello Lawyer sir, How is your health, I see that
you have come for a walk with your grandson and moved out. The poor
nephew of the rich stamp vendor came for his last round crying Haawt
cheeps, sir, Hot and freshly made out of select ground nuts, Haaawt cheeps
saar He would probably wind up in a few minutes and go home with a few
Rupees which he would hand over to his widowed mother. Guruppa... I
started about elephants again and my grandfather interrupted Come on, as if
you have not seen any elephant at all I said I have seen only one elephant.
That is nothing. If a herd of elephants comes with their trunks gracefully
waving in the air, that sight is beautiful and I want to see that. My grandfather
said Then you have to go to Tiruchur where on Pooram day, there is a
procession with countless elephants. I was very disappointed and the thought
that I would never in my life see elephants in large numbers filled with me with
indescribable sadness. On seeing me, my grandfather patted me on my head
and said Dont cry. You have seen hundreds of elephants before. Only you do
not remember now. You only need to recall now.
Now, the whole world revolved around me. I could no more see the benches in
the Park or hear the music from the loudspeakers. The musical haawwt
cheeps seemed to ebb and die down. I was in the midst of a procession. It
appeared to be a big Road with thousands of well dressed people waiting for
some important person to arrive. I could see people of many regions. Some
spoke Telugu, some Oriya, some Kannada and some Thamizh. In fact, it looked
as if the entire India was represented there.
Whirl 1
Mahanavami Celebrations- 1650 CE
The main road leading to Mula Virupaksha Temple in Vijayanagar started
looking busier and busier. The Chiefs of Army, Navy (Navigadadha Prabhu),
Cavalry were marching along with a select battalion of soldiers. Sthala
gowdigas or the village representatives were following them in colourful
dresses reflecting the variety of the customs in the Vijayanagara Empire. They
were followed by the Nayakkars of various kingdoms swearing allegiance to
Vijayanagara Emperor. One could see Madurai Nayak, Tanjore Nayak,
Maharajah of Kollam and they were carrying the gifts on the backs of
decorated elephants and horses. This day 300 years back, Vijayanagara
Empire was founded. Today, it is Mahanavami, the ninth day of the navarathri
the festival which is celebrated as the victory of good over evil. The two
shepherds Harihara and Bhukka became the Kings due to the merciful blessings
of Swami Vidyaranya and established the invincible Vijayanagara Empire this
Mahanvami day. The Empire which stopped the expansionist aims of Moghuls
and brought the vast area from Orissa to Rameshwaram under its fold. After
Chola, only Vijayangara king could cross the sea and rule some areas under
Burma. People were engrossed in seeing the cavalry as the horses were all
imported from Arabia speaking the clout the empire had on trade. After the
cavalry, the caparisoned elephants came. Vijayanagara was known for its
magnificent elephants and the Royal palace had stables for elephants like it
had for horses. Elephants marched past in hundreds all lifting their trunks and
saluting the people. The crowd became ecstatic and shouted Jaya Vijayee
bhava (Victory to Thee). Some elephants made the trumpeting noise which
added to the tumultuous situation. In a highly decorated elephant moving
slowly in the centre, The King Sriranga III was seated along with his Queens.
The procession was to reach Durga Devi temple and then the King would alight
from the Royal Elephant to pray Goddess and then receive the blessings from
the Kula Guru Srungeri Sankaracharya. As the procession moved towards the
temple, the people were also moving along with the procession not being in a
position to take their eyes off the King and his consorts in their royal
splendour. As the procession moved on, the people started chatting among
themselves. One elderly person remarked, Brother, I somehow feel the
Mahanavami celebrations have lost their colour. The other person added with
a little more spice in his voice, Of course, it has lost its colour. What else do
you expect with the Moghuls preparing to gobble our Kingdom from North? In
south, Nayakkars have started behaving indifferently. Did you notice their
kappam (the royalty) has been reduced? I think it may not be even 1000
varahas (Varaha is the Vijayanagara coin with inscription of swami Mahavishnu
in varahavathara as a boar). Now one voice came from behind Now, Now,
Who is speaking about our Nayakkar? You people do not have the guts to
defend your own city and you have the courage to talk about our King and the
Kappam he is paying? When Sultan came and robbed the city of its jewels and
carried the loot in thousands of carts, what was your King doing? First, all of
you should think whether he will come on an elephant like this next year, then
we will discuss kappam amount. The two people who first spoke turned
around to see a tall, hefty figure with a well groomed moustache most of his
head and face hidden behind a turban. Out of the crowd, one more person
joined the debate. Hey, who is that? This is not Tanjore, sir, that you can open
your trap and start blabbering. Look around and talk. This is Our Vijayanagara
and this is our function you are attending at our pleasure. On hearing this,
the turbaned figure drew the sword and shouted Oh!! Let it be. But, just talk
about our Nayakkar King and I will cut the persons tongue with this sword.
Any one has the courage to come and speak now?In a moment, there was
much jostling and pushing around till some soldiers came on horseback and
took the turbaned man away. From a certain distance, Somasundara Dikshithar
who was one of the invitees to the function and who was supposed to be
honoured with a silk angavastra for his scholarly work by the King in the
presence of Shri Sankaracharya saw the fight and felt sad in his heart. He
turned to Goddess Durga and asked Her, Mother, what is this going on? On
this Holy day when we should be praying you, our people are fighting among
Sarva mangala Mangalye sive sarvartha sadhike saranye thraymabake devi
narayani namosthuthe
(Oh Devi! the one who is auspicious among the auspicious, one who is the
means to achieve everything in life, one who is the refuge, one who has three
eyes, sister of Narayana I bow to you)
Radius 2
Sri Rama Navami 1963
In Kumbakonam, where I grew up, Sri Rama Navami used to be celebrated with
a lot of interest. People used to prepare Panagam (a syrupy liquid made from
Jaggery) and buttermilk and distribute to one and all. Some used to donate the
Paddy (not for eating but for sowing) to farmers as a token of joy at the birth of
Sri Rama. On one of such occasions, my grandfather performed Puja and he
was wondering who he should call for receiving the paddy kept for donation. In
five minutes, a Plymouth car stopped in front of our house and out stepped
one of the richest land lords of our District affectionately addressed as
Sivanandar Koil Uncle. He came inside the house with his shining diamond ear
rings, took the silk angavastra and tied it around his waist. He said hurriedly I
hope I am not late for prasad, Sharma sir and fell at my grandfathers feet. He
received the prasad of the paddy for sowing in his field and left in ten minutes.
I was stuck with wonder. I asked my grandfather, We have not called any one
for receiving the prasad. How does he know what time is the Puja and how is
he so sure that he is going to get the paddy? Grandfather smiled and said
sometimes we do not exactly know how things happen. In fact, centuries back,
very important things happened on Sri Rama Navami day, do you recall?
Yes I could now see the road from Tirupati to Kalahasthi and branching from
the road a small track leads to a village. I could see the entire village in a joyful
mood. Children were wearing new dresses and almost the entire village was
decked up and Sri Ramas pictures and idols were being kept outside the house
and worshipped.
From every ones lips prayer to Sri Rama emanated.
Sri Rama rama ramethi rame raame mano rame
sahasranama thathulyam Rama nama varanane
(Lord Siva said to Parvati Oh the one with a beautiful face! I stay attracted to
Rama , the one who is sweet to think of, I would say saying Rama once is
equivalent to saying all thousand names of Sri Mahavishnu-Sloka from Vishnu
sahasranamam )
Whirl 2
Avadhani visits Chetlur House 1650 CE
There is magic about SriRama navami. First of all everyone including staunch
worshippers of Siva celebrate Sri Rama Navami and second there are lot of
chartitable activities associated with it. In chetlur Somasundara Dikshithars
house the function had an added significance. A crowd had already collected
for every one by now has heard that Gangadhara Avadhani, a high ranking
official of the King is coming to receive the paddy gift from Dikshithar. On the
front verandah of Dikshithars house, the elite pundits of the village like
Srinivasa Iyengar, Koteeswara Iyer and Balarama Rao were already seated to
receive the Avadhani. Balarama Rao started Aiyangarval, Dont you think
there must be some reason why Avadhani is coming here, Do you know
anything? Aiyangar said in a hushed tone indicating it is a secret which he only
knows. Yes, I heard something. My nephew came from palace yesterday. King
is very weak, it seems. Top officials are trying to find somebody to perform
some special prayers so that he will get better. Avadhani is coming here to
request somasundara Dhikshithar for some help in this regard. Koteeswara
Iyer said categorically, Absolutely. Today, there is no one in the entire
Vijayanagara Empire who knows for what ailment which God is to be
worshipped and what homa is to be performed except our elder brother
somasundaranna. He has no other go but to personally come here to Chetlur.
During those days, Vijayanagara Empire nurtured sciences like architecture,
Town planning and also prepared so many scholars in each field and discipline.
There were experts in construction of places of worship, astronomy, astrology
and they knew not only to build new facilities but they also knew how to
correct the flaws in the already constructed buildings.
Somasundara Dhikshithars wife came calling them. Oh my God! Why are all
of you sitting outside? Wont you all come inside? However, no one was ready
to go inside. Rao told When Dhikshithar is performing Puja with
concentration, why go inside and disturb him?, Last time, he performed
samaradhana with such a dedication that I thought Venkatesa Perumal would
have come there and sat along with us after wearing the vibhuthi during
On hearing this, Aiyangar got disturbed Nothing like that, why our perumal
would come and sit down wearing Vibhuthi and become a smarthan.
Dhikshithar may become vaishnavan one day. They say in Kancheepuram
vadaman matures and becomes vaishanavan, isnt it?
Unexpectedly, Somasundara Dhikshithar himself came out It seems you are all
having very interesting discussion. Come inside and have prasad. I will myself
tell you about the story of vadaman maturing and becoming vaishnavan.
After giving Prasad to everyone, Dikshithar started, our elders used to tell a
story connected with the saying vadaman matures and becomes a vaishnavan.
I want to share that story with you. I am sure all of you have heard of Appayya
Dikshithar, a very revered scholar in our country. His grandfather (Fathers
father) also a Pundit was travelling on foot near Vellore and he came across a
girl of may be sixteen years. This girl was sitting on the road and crying aloud.
He took pity on the girl and asked her what troubled her that she was weeping
and that too in the middle of the road. She replied sir, my name is
Thotakambigai. We are poor and my father had accumulated a lot of debts. To
get rid of all the debts, he wants to marry me off to an old man. I do not want
to marry him and so I am going to jump into some river or tank. He told
Dont do anything like that. I know the King of this place. I will take you there.
He will give a good decision Both of them reached Kings palace and the girl
narrated the whole story before the King. The King observed her to be very
wise and smart and bold enough to present the facts. He called for the
accountant and told him that all the debts standing in the name of her father
should be paid up. Then he told the girl, Look, I have done all arrangement to
pay off the debts your father got into. You are free now. No one can compel
you to marry anybody. He called for the girls father and in his presence asked
the Pundit, Tell me, sir, can you suggest any good boy in our state who can be
a match for this beautiful and clever lady? Though he was asking this question
he had observed the girl from the beginning and had understood her intention.
After a moments thought, he told the Pundit OK, Do not spend too much
time on this. I will give a solution. Why dont you marry her yourself and solve
the problem? Pundit was taken aback. He said meekly Oh King, I am a
vadaman by caste (actually it is a subcaste among smartha Brahmins) and she
appears to belong to a vaishnava family. This marriage cannot work as it would
not be acceptable to both the families. I request the King to review the
decision King replied, I see no difficulty. You marry this girl and continue to
be a vadaman if you think that is the way one should be. Suppose people
question you, then you say, I was a vadaman and now have matured into
Vaishnavan. When I say becoming vaishnavan, do not take it that I am referring
to their subsect. I am referring to you as a true Vaishnavan because just like
Lord Krishna You responded to the girls complaint and took upon yourself to
resolve it. So you can now be considered one of His people Somasundara
Dhikshithar smiled and said why I am telling you this story is to tell the fact
that there is no meaning in dividing ourselves into so man subsects and sub
sub sects. Take our own King. The King who prays at Tirupathi also gives so
many jewels to Sankara Math at Srungeri. King does not differentiate. Why
should we?He finished his speech and Gangadhara Avadhani arrived in his
cart surrounded by Palace Guards. He entered the house quickly after smiling
at the crowd outside and spent some time alone with Somasundara
Dhikshithar. No one knows what was discussed. In a few minutes, he collected
his prasad of the paddy and left the place quickly.
During the night, Dhikshithars wife Gomati came near him and asked him, I
think Avadhani has asked you to come to Palace at Vijayanagara. Should we go
and we also need to think about our child, Lakshminarayanan, Dhikshithar
kept quiet for some time and then said. There are flaws in the construction of
the palace which was known about 100 years back. It appears to be affected by
the affliction of the snake (Sarpa Dhosham). Now, the officers feel that they
need to do some rituals to save the King and it is natural that they are worried.
I am also for it and I asked the Devi for permission to go from here. The
permission was not granted and i do not know what to do. Goddess knows that
there is not much time left to save the King but she is silent. I am afraid we are
Within week, the Muslim invaders ran over Vijayanagara and destroyed
Kothandaramaswami temple. King Sriranga escaped death and ran for cover.
he reached a place called Ikkeri and took asylum there. The invaders got
strength as there was no ruler. They killed innocent people who so ever they
saw and in a few days, one could hear only women and children wailing. The
empire which was once the most powerful Hindu Kingdom was on its knees.
The Empire which was once the fountainhead of knowledge was looking like a
grave yard. Hundreds of temples were razed to ground and the priests were
killed. People had not seen such cruelty and so they started roaming the
streets like possessed. The corridors which had only seen Ramayana Katha or
Mahabharatha being performed were full of half dead relatives mourning over
the dead. The empire which shone for 300 years has fallen like a giant tree in a
sudden storm. It is end of the world for its citizens.
Historians have not found convincing answer to the way in which the Kingdom
fell. They could not explain the cruelty to which innocent and unsuspecting
civilians were subjected to. They could not justify the loot and plunder which
accompanied the campaign. More than three hundred years have passed but
the mystery has not been solved. The death of thousands of civilians, the rape
and the plunder have not been mourned or even mentioned in the Indian text
books. We are a secular country and so these things are never emphasised.
But, it appears they died in vain. The happenings of the dark period from 1650
to 1700 would go down as the period of the forgotten massacres of Hindus at
the hands of Muslims. Their suffering continues to taunt people like this writer
whose forefathers underwent torture, deprivation and an uncertain life after
contributing to the country with their competence and dedication. All we can
do is to shed a drop of tear, place a small flower and read a poem aloud in
their honour.
With the King gone, the ordinary people took whatever they had and ran
helter skelter. They had only one refuge and that is to pray God.
She said Hari Hari Hari!! She said Krishna! I am seeking your help!
Did you not come rushing when Gajendra called you and did you not kill the
crocodile that was snapping at the feet of the elephant
Why dont you save this world, you, who is the light in my heart
Victory to You, Victory to your lotus feet, She said
(Loose Translation of the stanza which figures in Panchali sapatham written in
Thamizh by Mahakavi subrahmanya Bharati-1920)

Radius 3
Karuppur canal
When was a child and was studying in Kumbakonam, I used to accompany my
grandfather in his evening walks. Invariably, the walk used to take us to the
surrounding villages and through the green fields which in those days
surrounded our town. One evening, we almost reached a spot where I saw a
canal passing under a bridge. I got down from the road and started drinking
the water, it was sweet. I told my grandfather how sweet is it? My
grandfather said This is the gift of Gods to Tanjore District. Our religion says
that if the religious activities are performed then the Devas like Indra, Varuna
are pleased and they grant the country with natural wealth like this water. This
is the reason why Kings those days used to ask whether there are three rains in
a month, meaning that if rains fail probably there are some offerings missed to
the Devas. I asked immediately, Suppose a King does all religious sacrifices
but also indulges in many cruel activities, then will the Devas still bless the
Kingdom with the bountiful crops? My grandfather said Absolutely no, In fact
there was a period in the same Thanjavur Kingdom when something similar
happened. At that time the King who was ruling over the area was a scholar.
He had written books and literary works. His piety and commitment to
protecting and maintaining temples was unquestionable. However, he did a
cruel deed which I do not even want to talk about. Do you know this deed
made Gods angry and Thanjavur went into a sad state for almost fifty years?.
Then one of our ancestors was invited here to guide the King in undoing many
of the effects of that evil deed. Thank him for the Kingdom prospered into a
joyful place in no time. Now it is time to go, Climb up the bank of the canal
I was still playing with the water and I could see reflections in the clear water. I
could see myself, my grandfather, trees behind, the culvert and now I could
see a palace. I could see a young noble probably a King and could see a lady
probably his mother absorbed in discussion. Then I could see nothing. I
clambered up the railing and started walking on the road with my grandfather
who had already walked a few meters ahead.

Whirl 3
The despondency of Saraboji I 1712 CE
The Sadar Mahal in Thanjavur Palace was a place meant for festivities and
grand occasions but on that evening, the decorative lights were not lit. Raja
Saraboji I the Maratha King was seated in a seat slightly lower to an elevated
seat in which his mother was seated. Both seemed to be in serious discussion
that they had not noticed that it is time to light up the place. The attendants
normally do not enter any place when the King is in private meeting with any
of the members of the palace.
Saraboji Raja asked his mother, Maa saheb (Marathi way of addressing the
mother if she is a royal), for the past one month, I am somewhat worried for
reasons I could not tell you. I do not know whom to believe and whose support
I have to take. Sometimes, I wonder whether I would rule Tanjore for long. In
such situations, what should I do?
His mother sat without replying and the few minutes which passed seemed
only to highlight the gravity of the advice she was going to give. She said
Saraba, (In Marathi O is replaced by a frequently in names) A ruler does not
have to fear if he has the support of the people. Think of Shivaraje (Shivaji).
What an amount of obstacles he had and he never lost the support of his
people and he never let them down. I hope that you are enjoying the support
of Tanjore People.
Saraboji replied, Whether it is Raja Ekhoji who first came to Tanjore or Sahaji
my brother who ruled after him, they did not interfere in any customs of the
people. We have even kept the same people as advisors and even retained
Telugu as the official language. But still people are moving about as if they do
not have energy. Yesterday, I had been to Ganapathi Temple where in we had
offered Modhaks. If it were our place, people would be singing, dancing and
playing Rimjim and Dhol. Here, nobody even seemed to get involved and I
doubt whether they are alive or dead.
His mother Jana bai raised her hand and said No, no Do not speak like that.
See you must remember, they have given all their love to us. They fully know in
what circumstances we came. They know we took advantage of the infighting
among the Nayaks but still they have not rebelled. Our entire army is stationed
in Ginjee and we have less than 200 soldiers here. Despite that fact, no one has
even tried to harm us. Have you thought about it? It is not due to the fact they
are afraid of us but because they respect Shivaraje. Shivaraje has become a
legend among the common people due to the flaw less character and his
courage. People see any Maratha as Shivaraje. Sarabha, Try and act like
Shivaraje. Understand why people are sad. Get into their hearts and try to
solve the issues which are haunting them. I think I should not spend more
time. I have to go for my evening prayers. It is already dark. Briefly, she left
the hall.
Next day, one of the senior ministers, Rayasam Sri Ramulu Naidu was invited to
the palace for a personal meeting with the King. Rayasam was a Telugu by birth
like many other ministers in Tanjore and he was in charge of Bhandaram,
which is the division in the Government for storing and distributing grains.
Since he was in charge of buying grains and distributing them to the needy
people he knew the pulse of poor people more than any body else. Raja
Saraboji never used to call any minister alone to the palace. He started
sweating and his rotund frame trembled at the thought of any admonishment
which may come. After all, the King is not a nayak with a soft corner for
Telugus now. He is a Maratha. He tried to calm himself down and as he
reached the Darbar hall, he bowed down three times almost bringing the right
hand near his face which was a standard protocol in Maratha court.
Saraboji hurriedly stopped him, Ram ram, Raysam sahib, we are not in court.
You are also almost of the age of my father. Why are you following these
protocols? sit down. I wanted to speak to you something in private. I want to
ask details about some incidents which happened here in the past. I am sorry I
had to hurry you up in the morning. But it was urgent.
Rayasam heaved a big sigh of relief. He said to himself Thank God, this is not
serious as it appeared and outwardly told Surely, I mean, as much as I
know, I will tell His Highness, Please you may ask. Saraboji knew some Telugu
but at this point of time asked the Dubashi to come in so that he understands
the details which Rayasam relates correctly.
Saraboji said Rayasam saab, when my father, Raja Ekoji came in here from
Gingee to assist Nayaks in the war, some unpleasant incidents had taken place.
Some palace notings are available and from the elders in my family I am able to
put together the incidents somewhat vaguely. I do not know whether you were
there but surely you must have heard of some things which happened in the
palace and I want you to tell me all the details. What happened in the Panguni
month in that fateful year (Raja Saraboji is referring to 1673 CE)
Rayasam closed his eyes No, No, saheb, Please do not ask me those things. I
do not want to go over the terrible incident once again. Those cries of women
are still haunting me and I will become mad if I start describing it
Saraboji said, You have to tell me Rayasam sahib, If you do not tell me how
are we supposed to find a solution to the problems it created to our people?
Rayasam Sri Ramulu Nayudu that is his full name- bowed down his head and
avoided facing the King for a few minutes. He thought that the King might
change the subject but Saraboji was keenly looking at him almost prodding him
with his eyes to speak out.
Rayasam started slowly as if he is reliving a nightmare. The words were not
coherent but one could make out. Raja is aware of Chokkanatha Nayakkar
who ruled around the time your father came here. I was young at that time
and we used to hear about how Chokkanatha Nayakkar was ruling Madurai
with iron fist. He was a terrible man. He was an upstart. Once he knew that the
Vijayanagara Empire fell down, he organised coronation for himself. That kind
of person he was. When Chokkanatha was ruling Madurai, Vijaya raghava
Nayakkar was the King here. He was a great devotee of Maha Vishnu. He did a
lot of charities. He built the temple tower for Mannargudi Rajagopalaswamy
temple. In fact he called himself Mannardasar. He was a poet in his own right
and he must have written at least thirty books in Telugu. He was a scholarly
man. He had a daughter by name Rudramma. She was the most beautiful girl
in the Kingdom and not only beautiful she could ride horses and on archery she
was second to none. She could dance, sing and was very accomplished in all
the arts.
Chokkanatha Nayakkar came to know about the girl and sent a message to
Vijaya Raghava Nayakkar that he should give Rudramma in marriage to him or
face the war. Nobles from Madurai court advised him that this was not
reasonable. But he was a very different person who would not listen to any
one once he made up him mind. The message was received in our palace with
utmost disdain. Rudramma said that she would not marry the old man.
Vijayaraghava cited some reason and refused to talk about the alliance. The
messenger returned empty handed. Chokkanatha invaded Tanjore. He came
up to the border and sent a message to our King to inform what he had to offer
the girl or the war. Some emissaries went from our side to compromise but
they were beaten up by the strong men of Madurai and had to return to the
palace. they told that chokkanatha told them that he would wait for a day and
if the girl is not brought before him, he would wage a deadly war in which no
one could escape in the palace and after killing the King, he would take the girl
as a prisoner to Madurai thus robbing her even the honour to accompany him
as a wife.
When the emissaries told him all the details, Vijayaraghava started laughing
aloud. In fact he started laughing uncontrollably. Then he told the officials,
Fine, all of you go home and sleep. I will give you the good news tomorrow
morning. They all left and the time may be around 8 or 9 PM.
No one would forget that night. It was around 2 or 3 AM and a portion of the
palace not this part where we are sitting but on the northern side there used
to be a chamber for ladies. Now we have locked it up and are storing rice bags.
From that portion, a few explosions were heard and then we could see the fire.
People started rushing from all corners of the city and they pounded the gate.
They found that the palace gate was locked from inside. They could hear the
cries of the ladies from inside begging for someone to come inside and save
them. The people on this side were going round and round the palace but were
helpless as for half an hour no one could enter the palace. When they
managed to break open, all, yes Raja sahib, all the ladies have died.
Rudramma, her mother, her aunts were all gone in a flash. Our King tried to kill
himself but Chokkanatha nayakkar captured him took him to Madurai and
killed him there.
The people had become depressed. They could never have expected this to
happen. They had seen wars and deaths but to be witness to a gory incident
where a scholarly and highly respected King would set fire to his own family
members was something they could never digest and they thought they were
sinners to be living in this country. People stopped celebrating festivals. Ladies
started avoiding social functions. Raja Saheb, even our Purohits migrated to
Malabar or Mysore. They thought that saying that they belonged to Tanjore
itself is inauspicious. We have tried to overcome the grief and some of us have
now accepted the situation. But we cannot tell you because you have come
after winning them. We cannot expect you to sympathise with us for what our
earlier King has done.
Rayasam wiped his face with his angavastra and said Raja sahib may excuse
me. I think I have spoken too much. I hope you have got all information now
which we did not want to tell you.
Saraboji could not contain the tears in his eyes as he could feel the agony that
the people have undergone- the utter helplessness of not being able to save
the much adored princess and having to reconcile the fact that their King was
the executioner.
He said No sahib, you have done the right thing. Now we must think about
bringing the Kingdom from the despondency and despair. The land which was
once ruled by the Cholas cannot continue to wallow in self pity. I think let this
matter be between us only. I will give you one weeks time. Consult all the
Pundits and those who know the means by which the evil effects of such an
incident can be eliminated. Let us meet after a week. Now you may leave.
Saraboji waved his hand which indicated that he was ready to meet the next
person who was waiting.
In exactly one week, Rayasam came back to the Darbar Hall. He said Raja
sahib, I met various people. Everyone is of the unanimous view that the
kingdom is suffering from effects of various deeds which were immoral and
condemnable according to our religion. However, no one could offer any
solution. I remembered that some of my relatives were in Vijayanagar and they
may be of help to us in getting some people who are knowledgeable in these
Raja Saraboji said But, Rayasam sahib, Vijayanagar does not exist now. it has
become a relic of the past. Aurangzeb has populated the region with people
who have strict allegiance to him. According to them, they have cleansed the
area of non believers.
Rayasam had thought of this. He said, Raja Saheb is correct. But I am not
going to Vijayanagar. I am going to Mysore. Many have migrated from
Vijayanagar to Mysore and the Pundits in Mysore may be of help. If Raja sahib
permits, I will go the Mysore to meet some people.
Saraboji called the Commander of the army and instructed him that two carts
with all provisions should be made available to Rayasam for any purpose for
which he wants to use.
It looked like that the eclipse which had captured the Tanjore was on the way
out. A good beginning had been made. Saraboji looked out of the balcony of
the Darbar hall and he could see two Brahmani kites Garudas- circling the
palace and flying north.
He believed that it was a good omen.
yath pakshatha trivedhi triguna jalnidhi langyathe yathigunagnai:
varga trivargiganam gathimiha labathe nathavath yat sanatha
trikalyopasthithaath sa triyuga nidhi agaath aayathtaath thraayatham na:
thredhaneka thridhaamna thridasa ripu samu mohano vahanedra:
( Shri Garuda Panchasath sloka 51 composed by shri vedantha Desikan)
(Oh Garuda!! The three Vedas reside in you. Those who know you cross the
three gunas. They achieve the three goals and get the fourth one that is the
salvation. You are the abode of the six qualities of Bhagwan and you are the
destroyer of asuras. You are the vehicle for Bhagawan and you are the saviour
from sins which surround us in all the three times.)

Radius 4
Pillayars Silver Kavacham
In the sixties, there used to be a regular practice in the town. In the nearby,
Pillayar temple, there used to be certain days when Pillayar would be
decorated with silver kavacham. (Kavacham is a kind of dress which is put on
the statue). After the Puja while closing the temple, the priest used to bring
the silver kavacham and keep it in our house along with two elephant tusks.
The silver kavacham and the tusks would be resting in the room till the next
festival. If by chance you go to the room it will appear that the Pillayar is
intently looking at you.
One day, my grandfather was counting small changes sitting near the
kavacham and I was assisting him. This is a common practice just before Dasara
as he used to collect all the money he had saved for the entire year. That
collection was used to buy the Puja materials during Dasara.
While we were busy in counting, Pillayar was smiling or it looked like that to
me. I asked my grandfather whether he also saw Pillayar smiling and if so why
he was laughing. My grand father said he did not notice but it is quite
probable that Pillayar smiled because he remembered something that
happened long back.
I left counting changes and asked Pillayar or his kavacham to be exact as to
what was the incident he remembered ehich brought the smile on his face. He
did not reply but pointed with His trunk the corner of the room. In the corner
of the room, I saw another Pillayar but that pillayar was not black. He was
vermilion colour and I could see lot of devotees around Him and some of them
were singing to the accompaniment of Dhol and drums.

Whirl 4
Thanjavur Bheemaswami Matham
Five miles to the east of Thanjavur palace there is a matham called Bheema
swami Matham. It was Saturday and there was a good crowd for the evening
arthi. While the preparations were being made to start the arthi, Raja Saraboji
arrived on his horse and the crowd moved to give him the place in the front
row. Soon, all began to sing the Arthi song.
Sukha kartha dukka hartha vartha vignachinurvi purvi prem krupa jayachi
sarvanga sundara uti sindurachi kanti phal jake mala muktha palachi
Jaya deva jaya deva jaya Mangala murthy dharsan matre mana kamana purthi
jaya deva jaya deva
(Traditional Marathi Arthi song composed by Sant Samartha Ramadas)
Grant us the good things, Remove the obstacles and our troubles
Shower your mercy in the world Oh Vinayaka!! You appear with sandal wood
paste smeared all over the body and with a beautiful pearl necklace. Oh
Mangala Murthi!! On seeing you, our desires get fulfilled.
All were singing and clapping their hands in a rhythmic fashion for almost ten
minutes. After the arthi the crowd jostled to have a darshan of Saraboji and
Saraboji was waiting for the old man who was standing with his eyes closed.
Finally, Saraboji went to him and told him, Swamiji, I am saraba, Bless me.
On hearing these words, the elderly sanyasi opened his eyes and smiled at him.
How nice to see the Tanjore King coming to our Matham for arthi! Come let
us go inside my palace and talk for some time. The arthi ended in a few
minutes with every one shouting Jaya Jaya Raghuvira samartha
So saying, he jumped and walked with an amazingly fast gait and reached the
small hut at the back of the temple which he called his palace. He entered and
sat on the ground while offering a small wooden plank for the King. After
saraboji sat down, the swamiji looked at him with affection and told sarabha,
whenever I see you, I feel that I am looking at Shivaji raje. What an exceptional
respect Sivaji had for my Guru Samartha Ramadas. He offered his kingdom at
the feet of Samartha Ramadas and said that he was my Gurus servant. Will
any body have such humility? When my Guru said that Shivaji could rule the
kingdom as his representative then, Shivaji took my Gurus padukas and placed
them on the throne. Shivaji was not a mere soldier. Thousands of soldiers are
born and die every year. It is the same with Kings. But, Shivaji was a Gnani a
wise soul. He knew better than anybody that this world is an illusion. That is
why even when he was fighting, he only thought of our country, our people
and what is good for them. Such people are born rarely. Yesterday, your
mother came here. She has very good thoughts. She was telling about your
concern for the Tanjore and its people. If you want to do good for people, you
need to think beyond the politics of the Kings. I forgot one thing. Your mother
was telling me that she wanted to go to Pandharpur. I have never been to
Pandarpur. Why myself, my own guru Swami Samartha Ramadas had for a long
time not been to Pandharpur. One day, an old Brahmin came and asked him
whether he had not been to Pandharpur at all. My Guru told him that he did
not know where Pandharpur was and hence had not gone there even once.
The Brahmin told him that he thought that swami had not gone to Pandharpur
because he was an ardent devotee of Sri Rama. Swamiji said that he liked
Rama as well as Krishna and if someone could guide him to Pandharpur he
could visit at least once. The Brahmin told him to come with him immediately
as he was going there with all his disciples. Swamiji felt a bit odd at this
domineering attitude of the stranger but decided to go with him. Once they
reached Pandharpur temple, the Brahmin and his disciples vanished and could
not be found anywhere. Swamiji realised that it was just a ploy of Krishna to
make him come to the Pandharpur temple. I have seen so many miracles like
this when I stayed with Swamiji. When Ekoji came here, Swamiji asked me to
go over here and establish the Matham. I was very reluctant in the beginning
but Swami told that he had selected 1100 people with a view to spread the
religion in various parts of the country and the mission was cut out for me. He
told me wherever the saffron flag is flying and wherever Jaya jaya Raghuvira
samartha is heard no person should fear. Now I feel very happy. The King
himself is taking keen interest in the matham. What more do I want? Saraboji
said Swamiji, You are swami samartha for us. We need your guidance and
blessings. Swamiji laughed aloud and jumped up from his seat, Good Do not
worry, Remember one thing, Think beyond the Kings and their politics if you
want to achieve anything. Now tell me, how many surya namskarams do you
perform every day? saraboji said ten, Bheemaswami frowned at him No,
Not adequate. My guru used to do even 1200 surya namskarams on some day.
As you do more sunray namaskarams, you will become a yogi then he called
someone and issued some instructions in Marathi Raja saatti prasad gevun
yaa itthe. As the prasad came he gave it to Raja with his blessings. Saraboji
received it with respect. As he came out Rayasam was standing there waiting
to talk to him. Saraboji was surprised to see him there, You are here! I
thought that you would have left for Mysore. Rayasam replied, Raja Saheb, I
found that I am not welcome in Mysore. The palace officials sent a message
that I need not come. Saraboji now could understand the meaning of what
Bheemaswami was telling Think beyond Kings and their politics He asked
Rayasam So, what do you suggest now?
Rayasam told Raja sahib, once I have decided, I will not turn back. Now, I have
decided to go and meet Sankaracharya of Srungeri. I am going to meet him and
ask for help. Mysore is not the only place in the world where learned men are
Saraboji told him, Excellent, Rayasam sahib, Proceed. Sri Rama is with us. Go
ahead Then he got on his horse and proceeded to his palace.
That night, two bullock carts were going fast from Tanjore towards Srungeri.
One cart was full of gifts for srungeri Matham. Rayasam was least worried
about his safety but was travelling with the sole aim to reach Srungeri in the
shortest possible time. Moon was shining bright. The King was discussing with
his mother about her trip to Pandharpur. Beemaswami came out of his hut and
sadha sarvadha deva sannidhya ahe krupalu pane alpadarishta ahe
suka anandha ananhdha kaivalya dhaani nupekshi kadha Rama dasabhimani
Rama is very near you. He is only testing you. But he will surely give you the joy
in this world as well as the next the reason being nothing other than that he
loves you
(Samartha Ramadasa- Manache sloka sloka no 36)
Radius 5
Of Bulls and Men
The people who travelled by the bullock carts in Kumbakonam can be divided
into two groups. One- the people who, after travelling once and having got the
experience, had taken an oath not to travel by bullock cart in Kumbakonam.
They are not taking the oath due to any enthusiasm for animal rights but more
so because they got injured in knee when the cart got into a ditch in the road
or got hit on the head when the cart went over a boulder. The second type
and yours sincerely is one of them- consists of people who think bullock carts
are part of the Thamizh culture and lose no opportunity to get into the cart
from the front. (showing that they are adept in handling bullocks) and asking
the driver knowledgeable questions related to the genealogy of the bull. Oh I
can see he is from Kattumannargudi near kollidam right? these fellows simply
walk and do not run I hasten to point out that the word "he "refers to the
Some of these gentlemen of the second type indulge in a cruel pastime. (I am
not one of them) They start this as soon as the bull starts walking probably due
to fatigue or due to the gradient. They tell the driver, What bull have you got?
I could have walked all the way. On hearing the criticism of his bull, the driver
takes out his weapon. This weapon is called Tharkuchi an innocuous looking
stick with a nail at the end of it. Now the driver takes it out and with a few
expletives about the mother of the bull and probably its grandmother he
targets the soft back portion of the bull near the tail for administering a sharp
piercing punch with a the stick. Now the bull naturally runs due to the
excruciating pain and our fellows are pleased about the achievement.
Next they will get down and haggle about the fare. Absolutely No. I am not
going to pay two rupees for this cart which is drawn by a rat rather than a bull.
If I had walked I would have reached the temple faster Once the compromise
is reached, the people will pray to the Lord Siva Thodudaiya seviyan vidaiyeri
etc. and put their hands to the cheeks. This song is addressing Lord Siva as the
person who has Nandi as the vahanam. Even then the stupid people will not
realise that they just tortured one living Nandi outside but they are praying a
stone Nandi inside.

They will pray Siva with (false) devotion and after coming out side will go
straight to Nandi. They will loudly declare to no one in particular The bull is
actually a symbol of Vedas and one should see the Lord in between the horns
of the bull. Then only the visit to Siva temple is complete. Then they will
whisper Please let me go to heaven and do not allow my cousin Ramaswamy
who stole our property to enter that place or something of that sort into the
right ear of the Nandi. Even then it will not strike to these stupid men that their
ticket to heaven would be cancelled without any explanation whatsoever if the
bull outside comes and complains to its friend sitting in the temple. But, they
are in a way safe. The bull which was carrying these fat men and was criticised
for being slow would not complain because unfortunately it is not a human.
Only humans complain about others to God. None of the other living creatures
does that. If they had done, we would not be living here now. So, as an
alternative, it would endure the pain and the insult and live a life of misery
bordering between life and death.
I have digressed and this is usual. Even in our town, sometimes if the bullock
cart driver is asleep, the bulls may take the wrong road and the driver would
only know that when he wakes up. This is what has happened now with my
What I wanted to tell you was entirely different. One day, I and my grandfather
were travelling in a bullock cart with me in the Co-Pilots seat as usual. The
Drivers name was Swaminathan. As befitting the Type 2 behaviour, I started
my dissertation on bullock carts. I find that the cart has become old now. It is
making creaking noises. Why our people cannot even build good carts I do not
know. Swaminathan appreciated my view and said chinna aiya Do not tell
like that. In Kumbakonam, there were beautiful carts. Koondu vandi, vil vandi
are various types of carts those days. That was a great time. If you, chinna
aiya, sit in one of such carts, you would not think of getting down even after
you reach the house. You also become a big lawyer like your grandfather. Then
you can buy one such cart for yourself. But, you should not forget me, aiya, I
will be the driver. I wanted to change the subject and at that instant, a
beautiful cart passed by. It belonged to Wallace Rayar. It was beautiful. It had
its compartment painted in yellow and green. It had windows and nice curtains
adorned the windows. There was a small door to the cart rising up to about
two feet above the steps. The handles were polished and with decorative
feathers tied to them. On the rear door, a mirror was fixed and it reflected the
sunlight as the bulls romped in full speed. I could see Rayar sitting inside inside
with cushions on both sides. I envied Rayar. For me, the ultimate luxury was to
own a cart like that. Swaminathan sensed my feelings and started giving the
details about the cart. Chinna aiya, Rayar had it built ten years back in
Pazhuvur. Not the one on the way to Tanjore I am talking about T pazhoor on
the banks of kollidam. They build good carts still. See the height and the iron
support. In our town, you go to the fellow near Old Bridge and he makes you a
cart with wood from mango tree (mampalagai) which will rattle in three
months.... he went on.
As far as I am concerned, I was not in that world. Something transported me in
to a bygone era and to a place which I could not recognise. I could see two
beautiful bullock carts in fact more beautiful than Rayars cart. They were
drawn by bulls which were considerably stronger and taller than the ones
which I had seen in Kumbakonam. The bulls were capable of going fast but
were slowing down as the carts were negotiating a hilly track. Inside one of the
carts was seated a well built person of age sixty five and he looked like a Royal
officer going by his dress and the ornaments.

Whirl 5
Srungeri Mahasannidhanam
After leaving Tanjore, the carts in which rayasam travelled traversed through
Tiruchi, Salem, Chenna Patna, Hassan, chikmagalur and reached Srungeri. The
bulls have been almost walking for almost three days continuously throught eh
plains and then through the hills. It was the third day that they reached
Srungeri. Rayasam went to the Chathram maintained by the Marathas and
rested for the night. Next morning, he took bath in the river Tungabhadra
applied thirumann twelve times at prominent places on his large body. Then
he walked to the Matham entered the gate and sat down in the main hall.
Information has already reached the Maha sannidhanam that the Minister
from Tanjore had come to see Him. Accordingly, a suitable time was given for
Within a few minutes, a guard of the Matham entered the hall and recited
what was called brudha. It was an announcement that the Swamigal was on
His way. Soon, the Swamigal Sacchidanda Bharti II entered with the radiance
unique for the sages and the commanding look which He possessed. Rayasam
stood up and prostrated before Him. He acknowledged and sat down for His
daily Puja. Swamigal kept Maha Ganapthi and Sharada chandramouliswara on
a pedestal and started pouring the water with the conch thus performing
Abhishekham. Rayasam noticed that there were more people in the hall
though seated unobtrusively and they were reciting the Rudram (Hymns in
Yajur veda in praise of Lord Siva). As the swamigal took water in the conch and
poured over the Lingam, a strange calm descended on Rayasam. He was
feeling fresh and fully awake though he had travelled continuously for three
days with hardly any food.
After finishing the Puja to the God, Swamigal distributed Prasadam to all.
Having noticed that Rayasam was standing, He signalled him to be seated.
However, Rayasam continued to stand. Swamigal asked him in Telugu, It is
nice of you to have come here. How is the King? How are all the people?
Rayasam looked around and ensured that no one is within earshot. Then he
told, Swami, Everyone in Tanjore is well. I have come here to share
something with you and then seek your advice With this brief introduction, he
narrated the tragic events which had taken Tanjore by storm. After he finished,
swamigal was silent for a minute. Then he called an attendant who was at the
door of the hall. He told him can you go to the Library and request Nilakanta
sastrigal to come immediately? Then he comforted Rayasam Sri Ramulu. Do
not worry too much. As far as there are Kings like Saraboji who is concerned
about the people and there are ministers like you to carry out his wishes with
utmost dedication, nothing can shake Tanjore. In a few minutes, Nilakanta
Sastrigal entered the hall. Swamigal addressed him Come, sastrigal, let me
introduce Rayasam Sri Ramulu. He is a very senior minister in Tanjore Palace
and he has come for dharshan. I remember you told me once that you belong
to Chetlur and even studied in the Patasala in that village. In our Matham, we
had received number of scholars from Chetlur from time to time and have
honoured them. Do you have the records of such Pundits who received awards
from our Matham?
Sastrigal said Please give me some time. I will find out all the records from the
Library and be back in a few minutes and left the hall.
An attendant came and bowed before Mahasannidhanam and said Ikkeri
Maharaja Sri Basavappa Naykkar has come and is waiting outside. He wants to
see you.
Mahasannidhanam said Very good. Ask him to come in. On seeing the
hesitation which showed in the face of the attendant, It is Ok if Rayasam Sri
Ramulu is also there. We are not going to discuss any politics and Ikkeri Raja is
any way friendly to marathaas.
In a moment, a tall, dark and hefty gentleman entered the hall and he was
having his headgear in his hand. Rayasam could understand that this man must
be the Basavappa nayakkar referred to by the attendant.
Basavappar prostrated before Swamigal and received Vibhuthi prasadam.
Swamigal told him Welcome, Basavappa, This is Sri Ramulu Naidu a senior
Minister in Rajah Sarabojis court.
Basavappa turned towards Rayasam and said It is very nice to see you here,
Mantri sahib. I feel as if I have met Raja SarabojJi himself. Our kingdom and the
family have close relationship with Maratha Kings and in fact my mother
Chennamma used to treat Sivaji Raje as her guru.
Rayasam felt very satisfied that all the trouble he had taken in almost single
handedly planning the trip and coming here had not been in vain. He met the
Mahasannidhanam and also unexpectedly had met a King friendly to Marathas.
Things seemed to augur well for Tanjore.
By this time, Nilakanta sastrigal returned from Library carrying some palm
leaves which probably were the records of the awards given. He submitted the
facts I have brought the details which Mahasannidhanam required. Sixty years
ago, Mahasannidhanam of that time bearing the same name as present
swamigal presented award to one somasundara Dhikshithar of chetlu during
the Maha navami celebrations at Viijayanagar. I have not met him. But, his son
Lakshminarayana was my class mate in patasala. He even came here once with
his wife and his child. But after that, we could not keep in touch. So many
things have happened and I was told that they might have gone to Mysore
Swamigal said Very good. I think sastrigal has brought vital information. I
think Rayasam should go to chetlur and get help from the scholars there. Even
if Lakshminarayana is not there, his disciples will be there. Some solution will
come. Goddess Saradamba will not let you down. So, Rayasam may take
prasad now and plan to visit Chetlur and have a meeting with the scholars
available there and do according to their advice. Convey our blessings to Raja
Rayasam stood up and bowed before Swamigal I will immediately go to
Chetlur and meet all the scholars there. I am sure one of them will have the
answer to my problem. I will take your leave now Then he turned towards
Basavappar, Ikkeri Raja should permit me to leave now.
Basavappar smiled Mantri sahib, we cannot allow you. You are a senior
minster of our friendly kingdom and how can I allow you to go just like that?
You must come with me to our place here, enjoy a good lunch and then only
you may leave for Chetlur
Swamigal smiled and said Basavappa, you have not changed a bit. You speak
the same way. Oh! I forgot to ask you about the purpose of your visit. What
made you come here at such a short notice?
Basavappa Nayakkar said Swami, the book Shiva Thathva Ratnakara- which I
was struggling to complete has been completed. There are nine sections. Each
section has ten sub sections. I have written a total of 35000 slokas. By
Paramasivas grace it got completed yesterday. Immediately I ran here to
inform you and request swamigal to bless the book and release it with His
Swamigal looked at him with affection and a bit of admiration "Oh you
completed it that soon!! What a wonderful work! I am aware that you have
tried to cover all subjects including music, dance and even agriculture. It
contains everything like an encyclopaedia. I feel that people in future will not
understand anything about our land unless they go through Siva Thathva
Ratnakara. Whether it is Kannada or Samskrutham, in India we cannot see
knowledgeable Kings why Kings we cannot see even knowledgeable Pundits
like you today
Basavappa mockingly put his hands on his cheeks in a manner of asking for
apology No No Swami, Do not praise me so much. Then, I may become proud
like some other Kings
Swamigal laughed and said This New Year (Ugadhi- Vijaya Varusham) we will
release Shiva Thathva Ratnakara in our Matham. We will do all arrangements
and send out the invitations to all scholars.
Basavappa Nayakkar was visibly moved Swami, I am really lucky. I was born to
a small time trader and was adopted by my mother Chennamma to become
the ruler of Ikkeri. Second, I have written a compendium about everything one
should know in our country and that is being released by Srungeri
Mahasannidhanam. What more can I ask for? Now, I only want to go to
Kailasam and join the sivaganas there and be in the holy presence of my Lord
Kailasapathi Parameswara.
Swamigal raised His hand, Enough, Enough, if everyone goes to Kailasam, who
will look after ordinary people here? Wherever you are, you are His person.
OK, What about Thathva Kousthubham being written by your Chief Poet
Dattoji. If possible, ask him to come. We will release his book too
Basavappa felt doubly happy. In a few minutes Swamigal rose from His seat
and proceeded to his chamber after blessing them.
Basavappa Nayakkar and Rayasam Sri Ramulu Nayudu had lunch together.
After lunch, Basavappa Nayakkar told Rayasam Mantri saheb, you have
undertaken this journey alone and are thus inviting trouble. The travel these
days is not safe. So, I am sending four of my body guards with you. They will be
with you till you finish your work in Chetlur and return to your country. Do not
worry about them. They will survive on air and work without any sleep. Most
important, they will protect you from any danger even at the cost of their own
lives. I wish you all the best. If you want to inform me anything just tell one of
these boys. I will be there in a moment. Think of me as your brother. May God
be with you
Rayasam was overwhelmed by this sudden display of affection by a person no
less than a King of small kingdom. He grabbed Basavappas hand and said
Friend, Our Kingdom will not forget the help you have given. I am leaving
now. You will hear from me once I reach Chetlur and also after I am able to
meet someone there who will be able to solve our problems

sachithambuja Mitraya sachcharithrayuje namaha
sachidhanandha bharathyai sachidhanandha Murthayae

The sun who makes the lotus Mind to blossom
The person whose history is of interest to so many poets
The person who is a manifestation of the principle sat chit anandam
We salute that person-our Guru Satchidananda Bharathi

( Srungeri matha Guru Parampara slokam)
Radius 6
Kaliyya... perumal
In Kumbakonam, in Kamakshi Josyar Street where we lived, in sixties on
Saturdays at 8 30 AM a person used to appear on the road obviously begging.
But he was no ordinary beggar. He probably was about 30. He appeared with
red paint smeared almost all over the body and in fact fashioned a tail out of
rags which he attached to his dress. He had an aluminium plate which he used
as the device to collect money and rice. He used to move from house to house
all the time singing in a monotonous tone Kaliyaaa perumaaal .... avar than
govindhaaa............Boys had a good time playing with him. Someone would
pull his tail and someone would ape him with his song. He used to jump
around and try to drive them which made him all the more look like a monkey.
On one Saturday, I think I was in VII standard, I took one cup of rice and ran to
the street and put the rice in his plate. We had the same tumbler for everyone
whether it is for Mariyamman or Hanuman. He asked me to put in the cloth
bag which he was carrying. Probably he did not want to receive by stretching
his hand. After putting the rice I asked him Are you Hanuman or Perumal? You
say Kalia perumal but are dressed like Hanuman. Who are you? He said I am
both. Dont you know we say Perumal begged and Hanuman snatched. When I
beg I am perumal and when I snatch I am Hanuman.I said That is good. Are
you the Hanuman who is in Big street?No No I am the Hanuman who belongs
to your place the man said. I protested, But my place is Kumbakonam. No
no it may be now. But before that... he said. I was baffled, Before that means
what?He seemed angry, You dumb fellow, look here he pointed to a
metallic plate he was wearing. I was seeing it for the first time. I looked at that
plate. A hexagon was drawn in that plate and some inscriptions in Telugu were
there. I kept on looking at it. I could see a Rama temple in a village. I could see
a Hanuman sannidhi in that temple. Many people were sitting and talking
something in Telugu. I described to him what I was seeing.
The man jumped with joy Thats it, thats it. That is your native place. No,
No, That is our native place. Our native place? I could not understand

Whirl 6
Rayasam in chetlur
Fighting the hot Panguni( Thamizh month equivalent of February March) sun
and after travelling for three days in the same carts which he engaged in
Tanjore, Rayasam reached Chetlur, a village nestled in the lush green fields
near Tirupathi. Having come to know that a senior minister is arriving, the
village chief Anjaneyalu arranged for a ceremonial reception with a pot of
water which was called Purna Kumbham the ultimate respect in Hindu
culture. Rayasam protested to the village people by saying, All these are
unnecessary. I am just on my way to Kalahasthi for some prayers. My Guru told
me to pray Lord Kothandaramaswami at Chetlur and proceed. So I am here on
a religious visit and so there is no need to treat me with all the fanfare. But
Anjaneyalu was not convinced. He said, Sir, You may say like that. That shows
your greatness. But we rustic villagers never can hope to receive a Minister of
a big kingdom often. It is an occasion for all of us. Please sir, you must stay
tonight and you should go tomorrow only. If I allow you to go without treating
you with a grand dinner, tomorrow our elders will make me chutney and have
it for idli in the morning He laughed aloud and his belly danced as he laughed.
Rayasam thought for a while and wanted to make use of his hospitality. He
said OK, Anjaneyalu, since you are insisting, I will stay tonight but do not
announce to everyone. I just want a peaceful stay. Tomorrow morning I want
to have a darsan of Lord Kothandarama before I leave. It will be good if I can
meet all the Pundits in the temple because I have brought some gifts for the
pundits which I would like to hand over and then leave. Anjaneyalu was
happy. He said Yes sir, we will organise everything as you say. First you must
come to this poor mans hut and relax for a while. After sun set, we will go to
the temple.
With key village elders accompanying Rayasam reached Anjaneyalus house
and was taken to the Guest Quarters. Even though Anjaneyalu said that it was
his hut the bungalow was quite spacious. Rayasam stood near the window. He
could see in the garden the body guards and they asked in sign language
whether everything was alright. He replied in affirmative and rested a while.
In the evening, Anjaneyalu took rayasam to the temple. The Rama statue was
almost eight feet high and he appeared there with Lakshmana, Sita and
Anjaneya. The priest sang as follows;
Baje visesha sundaram samastha papa kandanam
sva baktha chittha ranjanam sadaiva Ramam advayam
( Sage Agatha- Sri Ramashtakam)
(Is there a parallel for Rama who is more handsome than the handsome men?
Once his feet touch us, all sins are washed away. The mind becomes calm and
everyone feels happy.)
Then they went to Hanuman sannidhi. Hanuman idol was about six feet tall
and the Idol was like the Hanuman worshipping Rama. His long tail was behind
him and he was in pose of folding both the hands in a manner of respect.
Rayasam prayed Lord Hanuman to help him in his endeavour and after all he
has come all the way almost hoping against hope that some one is going to
give him some advice though at some moments it seemed impossible.
asadhyaka sadhaka swamin asadhyam thava kim vadha|
rama dhutha dhaya sindho math karyam sadhaya prabho ||
(If there is some thing impossible in this world, then that is possible for you
So, merciful Lord, Emissary of Sri Rama, why dont you realise my work too?)
After temple visit, they returned home for a sumptuous dinner. In Chetlur,
every one was busy that night. Temple was being cleaned and spruced up for
Ministers visit. In Bhattacharyas house the ladies were preparing sweets for
Lord Hanuman and Anjaneyalu was busy inviting every Pundit in the village to
come to the temple in the morning to receive gifts from the minister of
In the morning, there was a big crowd in the temple. All the pujas got over by
10 AM and every one adjourned to the sannidhi of Hanuman. Hanuman was
decorated with vennaikkappu and also adorned with vadai malai that day.
Rayasam placed the gifts in the plate and asked the Bhattacharya to handover
a gift to each Pundit. After all the gifts were given, Rayasam asked Anjaneyalu
whether he could speak to the pundits for some time. Anjaneyalu said sir, it is
our honour. I will introduce one by one and Mantri can speak as much as he
wishes Rayasam felt that was a good arrangement to know about each
person. He started after Anjaneyalu announced about his intention to speak to
each scholar separately. Namaskarams. We belong to Pakala not very far from
here. Our family went to Tanjore and we are settled there. Though our
kingdom is ruled well by our beloved King Raja Saraboji, he had expressed
some concerns to me and after I saw your temple it appeared to me that I
should ask you for guidance to solve some of the problems which we have. I
would request Anjaneyalu to introduce each one of you and then you can
Anjaneyalu introduced the first person. Sir, this is Nandurla Narasimha Raoji.
He is an ardent devotee of Narasimha. His forefathers were so much blessed
by Narasimha that when his grandfather was walking along a jungle a lion
came and not only did not attack him but bowed before him and left. He is an
expert in all sciences dealing with the afflictions to Kings. Nandurla Narasimha
Rao started his speech Mantri is sitting here facing west. A red cloth is seen
near by. Water is in southern corner. These are not good signs. Raja must have
killed a snake. That sin of killing a snake is not going to leave the King or the
Kingdom easily. King has to make 24 silver snakes and keep them in 24
temples. The King should offer milk to snakes at least for a month
Rayasam said We will definitely consider your advice and then Anjaneyalu
moved to the next person. This is Sivasthanu Srowthigal. He is expert in many
Vedas but is gifted in samudhrika lakshnam. He can predict by seeing a
persons face.
Sivasthanu said I do not have the King here. Even if the picture of the King is
there I can tell something. Now, I can go only by the time in which the question
is asked. It is not a good time. The Vijaya year which is going to commence in a
month is a bad year for all Kings. The palace appears to be haunted by bad
spirits. I think the King should feed 100 Brahmins for a month in the palace and
then the problems will go.Rayasam said in a similar respectful tone Thanks
sir, I will consult the King and we will surely do the needful
Then another continued. Rayasam felt tired. Swamigal said confidently that he
will find a solution but no one has even touched the perimeter of the problem.
Everyone was expert in his own area and he was not willing to come out of the
zone. He was losing patience when he heard Anjaneyalu mentioning He is
Yagneswara Dhikshithar and his grandfather Somasundara Dhikshithar was the
recipient of award from the Srungeri Mahasannidhanam during the Maha
navami celebrations Rayasam straightened himself Oh good, how is your
father Lakshminarayarna Dhikshithar?Everyone got astonished. How does a
minister of a foreign land know a person from Chetlur? How do you know
him? they asked in unison. Rayasam realised his mistake and said It was a
guess. There are some pundits in Tanjore who are from the same patasala and
they were mentioning to me about this family. No one was convinced of the
Rayasam looked at the person introduced to him as Yagneswarar intently. He
appeared to be tall, slim, moderately fair may be of age 35 but looked younger.
What set him apart from others were his eyes. They seemed to focus on you
when he looked at you. At that moment, it was as if he was not looking at
anything else except you. He was sitting erect with angavastram on his
shoulders worn as yoga vastram. He said Father passed away last year. Elder
brother had gone out for some work. So, I came to this function. Rayasam
said Sure. We are very happy to meet you. You may tell us what you feel as
the real issue Yagneswarar said, People who spoke before me are all
knowledgeable and more experienced than me and so they are right in their
own way. However, since I do not have so much experience I need to know
more information from you before I prescribe any action. Can I take the liberty
of asking you some questions? Rayasam felt happy that some one at least is
desirous of knowing more details. But he was cautious. He said, sir, I am in the
service of the Palace. I cannot tell everything outside. Whatever is appropriate
to the discussions, I will tell the truth and that I am telling in front of my family
God that is hanuman.
Yagneswarar felt satisfied by the reply and asked him You are saying there are
problems. Is the problem with the King or the people? Rayasam said By
Gods grace King is fine. The people are not happy. They seem to be always
depressed. hence our Raja is not naturally happy. yagneswara now looked
intently at Rayasam and asked the next question, When you say people are
not happy, can you tell me specifically is it the men who are not happy or
women are not happy? Rayasam shot back Men are not affected. They go
about their work. Women are always sad. Yagneswarar said Oh if that is the
issue then the good functions in houses may not be happening at all there, am
I correct? Rayasam now felt the need to open up Absolutely sir, Take my own
house. My own granddaughter is going to be 16 and still she is not getting
married. In the houses where the marriage has happened, I do not want to say
this but the couple do not live together due to some misunderstanding or
other. Yagneswarar rubbed his hand and looked at it for some time. He
suddenly asked the Minister. Why are rice bags stored in the place where the
women were performing Devi Puja? Rayasam got the shock. Yagneswarar has
touched the point which he wanted to avoid and he has touched it so abruptly.
He was reduced almost to tears. Fortunately, Yagneswarar did not wait for the
reply. He continued King might have killed a snake. He even could have killed
a man in a war. These are common for Kshatriyas. These actions would not
affect his people. But what has happened in the palace is complete violation of
the sanctity of the Goddess. Where ladies are harassed, the nature itself
retaliates. We have read about Lanka and Madurai. However, Bhuma Devi is
merciful. She will not punish us forever. Do not lose hope. Now, can you tell
me a number out of ten? Raysam replied instantly eight yagneswara said a
flower? Rayasam said Lotus yagneswarar said, It is a good omen, you have
told both the things which have connection with Mahavishnu and definitely
God is waiting to do good to your King and his Kingdom. But the sins which
have been committed against women are still affecting not only your people
but your land even the natural resources. No country in the history has
prospered while its women are in tears.
Rayasam folded both his hands and said, We will do anything you say. Please
tell us the things to be done. Everyone was surprised. So far, Rayasam was
giving non committed answers but now he seemed to agree to whatever
Yagneswarar was saying. They could not understand the reason behind this
sudden change of mind. Yagneswarar said, I do not think it is of any use if only
King performs something or a few purohits perform some ritual. It has to be a
task where people get involved. Every person should ask for pardon to
Mahalakshmi and by performing homams with srisuktham Bhu suktham etc we
must purify the entire ambience. After that, we must sprinkle the holy water
throughout the country and rejuvenate worship of Siva and Vishnu. The entire
programme must have total involvement of the people. It is going to take three
or four months. Please ask the King whether he would be prepared to
undertake such an extensive programme. The King should agree.
Raysam spoke with little hesitation. He said Sir, It is my responsibility to
convince the King and I am sure he will agree for this. Now, I invite you to
come to Tanjore and you must conduct all the things in the four or five months
for us. That is our request. What is the view of other Pundits?
Most of the Pundits had nothing to say. Sivasthanu srowthigal put forth a point
more in jest whatever Yagneswara has spoken, everything is connected with
Vishnu. I only hope that Lord Siva does not get angry.
Yagneswarar replied Dont worry. Siva will not be angry for these things. But
let me ask you something. You declare in the public that you are a staunch
devotee of Siva but then why have you brought a small black idol of Krishna
from chennapatna in crawling pose and daily offering him milk?
Srowthigal looked emabrassed by this sudden revelation in public and he burst
out who told? yagneswarar replied who else? That Krishna only told me
that srowthigal Uncle is forcing me to take the milk which is hot. Why dont
you ask him to cool it like this (He was acting out the practice of transferring
the milk form one cup to the other) and then give it to me? Everyone laughed
at the sense of humour of Yagneswarar. Rayasam wanted to conclude the
meeting in this happy note and said I thank all scholars who responded to our
invitation. We have a culture in our kingdom that we speak anything openly. I
wish to extend an invitation to Shri Yagneswara Dhikshithar to come to Tanjore
kingdom, stay there among us for four five months and guide us in conducting
the homams and yagas by which our kingdom will regain its vibrancy.
Yagneswara was grateful for the invitation extended but wanted time to
consider the invitation especially as his brother was out of town. Rayasam said
I understand and certainly you should consult your brother on this matter.
Today is Saturday. I will be going to Tirupathi now and will be returning to
Chetlur on Tuesday. Please tell me a favourable answer on Tuesday. I will go
back to Tanjore make all the arrangements for your coming there. In two
weeks say after Ugadhi you could plan to travel as after wards the wind and
the rains would make the travel difficult. Anjaneyalu was all admiration for
the way in which Raysam was going about outlining the activities. He could not
conceal his admiration. Mantri saheb, I used to lose sleep over even a small
thing to be done in our village. How is it that you are stating with such clarity
all the activities which are really very important and are linked with so many
other people?.
Rayasam told with humility, Anjaneyalu, Do you think it is me who is
speaking? No. It is the one there who is keeping his hands folded and
presenting a picture of innocence. He is speaking from me. I think He has made
the plans. By the way, I should thank you, Anjaneyalu for all the help you have
given me. I suggest you visit Tanjore with family. You will be my guest and
Dont you want to do thula snanam (taking bath in the entire month during
October November) in Kaveri?.Anjaneyalu became a bit fatter due to the
pride on having been invited by a person no less than a minister of Tanjore.
Their thoughts were interrupted by Bhattacharya calling them for arthi. After
arthi when all were leaving Rayasam went outside discreetly and sent an
urgent message to Basavappa Nayakar we have invited one yagneswara
Dhikshithar to Tanjore. Need help.
As Rayasam boarded the cart, the temple priest came running and handed
over a small band to him Manti sahib, you told that your grand daughter has
not got married. I kept this small thread at the feet of Hanuman and brought it.
Ask her to wear it and ask her to recite this sloka. He thrust a palm leaf in his
hand and left the place. Rayasam opened the leaf and read the sloka.
Athulitha bala dhaamam hema shailaaba dheham
Thanuja vana grusaanum gnaaninaamagra ganyam |
Sakala guna nidhaanam vaanaraanamadhisam
Ragupathipriya baktham vaatha jaatham namaami ||
( Dhyana slokam-Sundara kandam- Rama charitha Manas Goswami Tulasidas)

Radius 7
Decision taken by flowers
I did not know my grandfathers native place for a long time. (I am not very
sure even now). He joked My nephew Rajamani used to say that I fell from
top (Mel- in Thamizh). I used to correct him not from Mel but from Melur.
Sometimes he used to say I am from Poonamallee and have got the school
medal in 1916. One day I asked him neither Melur nor Poonamallee is near
Kumbakonam then how did you come to Kumbakonam?
He related an incident which happened probably in 1922 after he passed
Bachelor of Law. He came to Kumbakonam for some work and went to
Kumbeswarar themple. He prayed the Goddess Mangalambika in the temple.
Those days, he had not made up his mind on where to start his practice. He put
three different flowers in three packets and asked a child to pick up one. The
flower chosen indicated that he should settle down in Kumbakonam.
It was a big surprise for me that such a big decision could be taken by him
based on a chance event like a flower getting picked. But he had his own
answer for it. He said that if one totally believed in God then only he should go
for this type of exercise. He said that this is nothing. In ancient day, people
took even bigger decisions by picking up a flower of a particular colour.

Whirl 7
Dhikshithar takes a decision 1713 CE
Next day, Nanu anna alias Narayanan, elder brother of Yagneswara arrived at
their house. The assembly was convened in the koodam of the house. In the
assembly following members were present. Nanu Anna, Bramarambika Manni,
(wife of Nanu Anna and known as Kamu manni), yagneswarar, Gnanam wife of
yagneswara are the members with voting rights. Nanu Annas daughters have
got married and have gone to their husbands places and so they were absent.
Yagneswarar had three children Lakshminarayanan of age 10, Nagu alias
Naganathan age 7 and Saratha age 2. These members did not have voting
rights. That completed the assembly if you do not count Kondu. Oh my God! I
forgot Kondu. Kondu who might be 16 years old was always present in all
assembly meetings. Kondu was not a family member in the strictest sense.
Kondu alias Kothandraman actually belonged to opposite house. He lost his
mother at the age of four and was being brought up by his father. The term
brought up does not strictly apply to this case as his father Sarvesar normally
was available more in temples in surrounding villages than in his house. Hence,
Kondu normally was found only in Yagneswarars house from the morning to
late night till its doors were firmly shut for the night. The agenda for the
assembly was obviously to discuss the meeting which happened in the temple
the previous day and the invitation extended by the Tanjore minister to
Kamu Manni who never missed an opportunity to remind every one that she
was the eldest female member, started They are calling because they respect
us. It does not necessarily mean that we have to go. How will Gnanam manage
in a strange town without knowing the language and the customs? Nanu anna
got the note and refined the tune, Kamu is right. That is what I was about to
say. Tanjore is not Kalahasthi that you can go and come as many times as you
want. God has given us this house and some land which gives us enough rice to
eat. Let us be satisfied with that and why should we leave the bird what we
have got and try to catch the bird which is flying? Now that the composition
was known, Gnanam Manni sang charanam I also think the same way. For six
months how can we shift the entire family? I cannot also leave him there
alone. It seems impractical any way. Yagneswarar did not speak.
I know that Anna will not go. You know why? I will tell you. Without seeing
Tirupathi Perumal he cannot even spend a month peacefully here. Where is
the question of him going that far from Tirupathi? Yes, one possibility is there.
If perumal and Thayar start with garudar and Hanumar on each side then he
will also go. This is Kondus uninvited analysis of the situation.
Yagneswarar was quick to take off, Perumal should only come with Thayar
and Garudar. No need for Hanumar to come. You will fill his place aptly as a
substitute. Kamu Manni showed signs of frayed temper. Oh!! Now I
understand. If you have decided what to do and then why do you enact this
farce of consultation. I am telling everyone here. Anyone who wants to leave
our house can do so now. As far as we are concerned, we have no other place
to go. We will be here in this house in Chetlur (We here refers to her and
Nanu anna)
Seeing that the situation was getting serious Gnanam played the role of
conciliator Manni, why are you disturbed. You know him better than me. His
nature is to joke, and make a drama of everything.
Now, Yagneswarar spoke firmly. Gnanam, I am not playing now. I am serious.
It is not correct for a person to disappoint an old person that too a senior
minister in a Kingdom when he has travelled for one week looking for some
help to bring back the joy in his people. We will go in the month of chithrai
(April) and return by Deepavali (Nov). You may have to adjust a bit.
Nanu Anna got the signal from Kamu Manni and delivered a judgement Raju,
enough of this nonsense. I should have known better when you ignored me
though I am elder to you and went just because of some Maratha fellow calling
for some meeting. At that moment itself we have parted in our ways Nanu
anna was angry and so he could not even remember that Rayasam was a
Telugu and not a Maratha. That is the way Nanu anna would behave. The fact
that he was almost fifteen years older than Yagneswarar made matters worse.
He never gave space for others views. He dominated his brothers and sisters
and used to withdraw into shell if someone expresses any difference of view.
He was most of the time involved in the land and the agriculture and he did
not know the true merit of Yagneswarar. He still saw him as an immature boy
of sixteen. In fact, the villagers knew more about the talent and the
tremendous capacity of Yagneswarar than Nanu Anna. Yagneswarar did not
like him referring to the meeting in that manner and he felt sorry that Nanu
Anna did not capture the whole incident correctly. He said Nanunna, Why are
you getting upset? Six months is not a long period. It will go just like that. We
will go and come back before you even start missing us. Even if I want to stay
there, will Gnanam allow me? Forget her. Will you keep quiet? No. I know you,
Anna, You are feeling angry now but if you think calmly you will also agree with
me that this honour is a rare honour to our family and one should accept it.
The debate continued for two hours and had to be stopped as the junior
members were on the verge of fainting due to starvation. Nanu Anna said I
think we have spoken enough. Now, it is up to Gods will. Let us put the
flowers and see. Kondu came forward as usual. He made two packets one red
flower for going to Tanjore and another white for staying back in chetlur.
These two identical packets were kept before the Lord Ramas picture in the
koodam. Kamu Manni called Charu, take one of these packets and give it to
Periappa . Nanu Anna raised an objection. No, what does the child know? I
will take. Sometimes, we are the worst enemies to ourselves. But, Nanu anna
had decided and he was not going to back out. He went to the plate where the
packets were kept and took one. As he opened it carefully, Anna took the red
flower and that means it is Tanjore for us shouted Kondu. Nanu Anna was
upset but he only chose to be the picker and so he stared at every one for
some time before someone said Let us stop talking. It is time for lunch.
Children have even slept as no one bothered to give them food. After lunch,
Nanu anna called kamu Manni Listen, Pick all the mangoes and start preparing
Pickles. Before Ugadi, see that enough Applams, Vadams are made. Raju is
naive and Gnanam is too dumb to know all these things. I tell you, they will
reach Tanjore and look for such things. Who will make them all these
delicacies? He had already forgotten the spirited arguments which they had.
That is Nanu Anna. He is so earthy that he reacts to the situation then and
there and keeps nothing in his heart.
Sunday went and Monday also went off. On Tuesday morning, the village
elders came and sat on the pial of yagneswarars house. Yagneswarar came
out. He saw the eager crowd waiting at the pial and said,Good morning,
Welcome to everyone. Narasimha Rao said, You may be secretive but we
heard from a little bird that you are going to Tanjore. Yagneswarar pacified
him. No not like that. I wanted to come and inform you myself today.
Narasimha Rao seemed happy at his explanation. That is OK. But I think you
do not know about these Tanjore fellows. They are first class liars. They are
experts in deceit, cunning behaviour and cheating. What will a straight forward
man like you do? How will you manage? Why do you want to get caught in
their web?
Ganapthi Josyar said Rao has not told about the other things. If evening
comes, all Tanjore Brahmins are to be found only in dance, music and all such
entertainment. I have a reliable source saying that even ladies there are of
loose character. All Brahmins have enough land there and so they indulge in
immoral activities. You are a person born in a family following certain values.
You are going to feel out of place there Gopalaswami Iyengar joined the talk,
In rainy season, in Tanjore, Cauvery will be flooded and snakes can be found
inside the kitchen. Some of our Vaishnava families are there but they are not
happy. They are just prolonging their stay. Harihara Sastigal had another
opinion, Why are you discussing these things? I am telling you. That Mantri
fellow was just joking. Are there no pundits in their town to perform these
yagas and homas? He will not send a cart at all for Dhikshithar.
Sivasthanu srowthigal went to the peak in the multipronged attack on
Yagneswarars decision to go to Tanjore. He said, Immorality, lack of devotion,
uninhibited conduct of ladies are all highlighted by people who spoke before
me. Still Yagneswarar is keeping quiet without any impact. I think he has
decided to give up the essence of Brahminic character-Brahmanyam-itself and
undertake this mission. That is what I think. Everyone felt that Sivasthanu had
gone too far and expected Yagneswarar to give a befitting reply in Sivasthanus
face then and there. But, Yagneswarar only smiled. That is all. In Bhagavad
Gita, in the beginning, Arjuna looks at the relatives and friends who are
positioned against him and starts crying. He says I wont fight and I would
rather beg and survive on the alms rather than kill my own people. At that
time, Lord Krishna smiles. How incongruent! The fellow is crying. The Lords
reaction to his crying is a broad smile. Hundreds of people have written
commentaries for Gita. They have anlaysed in depth all the eighteen chapters.
But no one has told a convincing reason why Lord should smile. They will say
Prahsanniva and move on but nobody till date could decipher the secret
behind Lord Krishnas smile at that situation in Kurukshetra. When all the
scholars could not unravel the secret behind Lord Krishnas smile, how an
ordinary writer like me can explain why Yagneswarar smiled? Let us move on. I
can only faithfully report to you that he smiled. That is all.
After that smile, he said, You have spoken about many things which are going
on in Tanjore. Dance, Music, Drama are all part of culture. Why should we take
objection to that? Dont scholars declare loko binna ruchi (world is made of
people of different tastes). Suppose they are liars and cheats, does it explain
our staying away from helping them? As purohits we need to go to many
houses or palaces. Is it possible for us to question every ones morals before
we enter? It is not possible. We should presume our yajaman is good and by
circumstances some wrong incident has happened. Are we ourselves pure?
Dont we say 1000 times every year on the full moon of Avani month
Kamokarshith Nama: Manyruakarshith Nama: What does it mean? It means,
I have done so many misdeeds but I myself have not done it with my full
agreement with the conscience. My lust has made me do that. My anger has
made me do that. We are required to tell this aloud not one or two times but
one thousand times before we consider ourselves fit to take up the lessons for
the next year. If that is the case with scholars like us, we cannot find fault with
ordinary people. Even if they had done mistakes, we on their behalf should
pray God and beg Him to forgive those sins and be good to them. This is part
of our profession. So, I do not think much about the things I will face there. But
when srowthigal said that I have decided to set aside or even relinquish my
Brahminical character for the sake of this travel and subsequent tasks I have to
perform there, I could not control my smile. I smiled because I remembered
my grandmother Gomu Patti. We had a porcelain jar fairly a big one- for
keeping the pickles for rainy day. It was Gomu Pattis favourite. She will never
allow anyone to touch it let alone fill it or wash it. When we were married and
Gnanam was new to this house, unknowingly, she thought she should wash the
jar and so took upon herself the task of cleaning it and washing it. In that
process, she probably hit the jar against some object and a small bit broke off
from the rim of the jar. It was not even noticeable but Gomu Patti kept on
nagging Gnanam Oh silly girl, you broke my jar almost for a month. Gomu
Patti is no more. But even now, in our house, no one dares to touch that jar
and shift it or clean it. In fact, we do not even use it now. It is safe but useless-
just like the Brahminical character described just now by Srowthigal. I may be
wrong but I think the so called brahminical character is not something to be
kept under wraps and protected like the Gomu Pattis Pickle jar but it should
be shining to the whole world like the Wheel in Perumals hand. We have seen
the wheel in the right hand of Venkatesa perumal. That wheel normally is so
inconspicuous that people even fail to notice it when they go to the temple.
But when it starts, it will go forth shining like thousand suns and destroy the
evil before returning to His right hand. When the elephant Gajendra pleaded
with Mahavishnu to save him from the crocodile, Perumal had only to look at
the wheel and it blazed forth with the power that could not be imagined and
destroyed the crocodile to save the elephant devotee. Did it consider that Oh,
I am in such a high place-right hand of the God-. Why should I apply myself to
tasks like saving an elephant? It would not ask. It has dedicated itself totally to
the Perumal that a mere nod of His head or a mere glance is enough for it to
propel itself and complete the mission. In my view, a true Brahmin should be
like the Chakram which sankara describes thus
Kanaka Rajatha chakram basvara ramya chakram
Girivara guru chakram kesavaswamy chakram
Asura nidhana chakram kalakantagni chakram
Jayathu jayathu chakram Bhandhvo Vishnu chakram
When he told this in a clear voice it was as if the chakram would start right
now from Gods hand and appear before them.
He continued, I am not saying a Brahmin need not do Puja or do his regular
rituals or observe the acharam as they call our conduct. I am saying that the
Brahmins should do all these with a sense of humility and dedication to the
society at large. I do not agree with the people who perform the rituals and
observe acharam only to be recognised as Brahmins and for nothing else. Let
us leave the Brahmins for a moment. Let us take Kshatriyas, the Kings I mean.
In our religion and in our society, they are permitted to hold arms. They can
keep sword, bow and other weapons. What for? To protect themselves? No.
They are given the responsibility to protect the village or the town or the
country. Suppose they use all the weapons only to save themselves, will our
society keep quiet? No, they will banish them forever. Brahmins are also part
of the same society. They are not outside it. They are very much inside it. They
are not permitted to keep sword. They are not taught archery. They do not
know how to ride a horse or an elephant nor a chariot. But they know so many
other things. They are taught astronomy, mathematics, medicine, music,
biology, architecture. But dont they owe it to society to help the society when
the help is needed? Why did Chathrapathi Shivaji fight by dangerously
travelling through forests and hill ranges? Did he do for the people or for
himself? What use would have been of Shivajis sword if he kept it within his
house saying that it is sacred and so he is not going to use it even if it is for the
common good. But what do we do? We learn everything. We do all pujas and
homas only for our own good. When it comes to contributing their knowledge
for the benefit of the community, some of us would just fold our hands and say
Our acharam does not permit it. Muslims may invade our towns, destroy our
temples, molest our women but we will not move from our frog in the well
We were not always like this. You may have heard of Kausika maharishi. He
was not born as a Rishi. He was a King in his own right before he took to the
penance and ascetic way of life. We belong to his Gothram. Srowthigal used to
say that we are not real Brahmins because our Gothra rishi himself was a
Kshathriya by birth. Anyway, interesting thing is Chathrapathi Sivaji also
belongs to Kousika gothra. Let me return to Kousika. He did twenty four lakh
times the recitation of Gaythri. This is a stupendous task by any standards. All
Devathas were willing to do anything at his command. He had obtained most
of the spiritual powers due to his penance. He has become a true Brahmin with
a brahmanya character -if you want me to use the word. OK, did he use any of
those powers for himself? No sir, He spent the entire good will and Tapas only
for the people of the world that people today do not know him by the name
Kousika but they call him viswamitra-Friend of the Universe. You may say this
is a puranic story. Let us talk about recent times. 300 years back, there was
wide spread famine in our country. There was no rain. All crops got burnt and
cattle died without food and water. Our Guru Vidyaranya saw this misery. He
prayed to Dharma devatha for rain. Dharma Devatha said that it would rain
provided he was willing to sacrifice the punya he had accumulated by the
virtue of his doing Gayathri japa daily. Vidyaranya did not hesitate for a
moment. He sacrificed the virtue he accumulated in the entire life time
practising the austerity in one second. It rained and the earth cooled down.
People could return to their livelihood. At that time, was vidyaranya worried
about his Brahmanyam as Srowthigal put it-? No, he thought that the society
should prosper. That is the only thing he thought of. If a Guru of the calibre of
Shri Vidyaranya did not worry about Brahmanyam why should people like us,
who are not even worth the dust in his feet, worry about the so called
brahmanyam which in any case we assume that we possess? Let me state
briefly, When there arises an opportunity and we have to do something which
is going to be good for the community, we should not isolate ourselves in the
name of acharam and Brahmanyam and remain something like the pickle jar in
our house.
His passionate discourse was interrupted by a horse rider who seemed to have
finally reached after a long and arduous journey. He alighted and asked the
person standing on the road, Can you tell me who is Yagneswara Dhikshithar
here? I have to give him the Srimukam (letter) and the Prasad from Srungeri
Rao was curious. He went out and asked him Srimukham from Srungeri !! can
you tell me what is written in it?. The messenger obviously got annoyed. He
said, I am not allowed to read it to anyone but deliver it to the person to
whom it is addressed, so now, please allow me meet him. Yagneswara
Dhikshithar got down from the pial and went and told him that he was the
person to whom it was addressed. He received the small silken pouch which
contained the prasad and the letter. Then, he took the Vibhuthi and vilva
leaves from the pouch turned towards the direction of srungeri and smeared it
on his head. He gave the vibhuthi to others also. Then he opened the letter
and read it out aloud
King Saraboji and the Tanjore people are close to our heart. Whatever the
King and his Court does for the good of our religion, it has our blessings. It is
our wish that you should without any inhibition go to Tanjore and contribute
whole heartedly in organising all homas and Pujas which in our view will result
in the welfare of the state The letter was signed Narayanasmruthi which is
the usual way swamigal signed and the Matham seal was affixed below it.
All the speakers who voiced various views about Tanjore and its culture were
spell bound. They could not comprehend the speed with which things were
happening. Rayasam came on Saturday. Today is Tuesday. How is it that
srimukam is coming from sringeri? Srowthigal was the first one to speak
Dhikshitharval, Swamigal has given his instructions. Now you need to go. Do
not keep in mind whatever we spoke here.
Rayasam returned from Tirupathi late night and was very happy that
Yagneswara decided in favour of coming to Tanjore. He said I was thinking
about you even while I was having Darsan in Tirupati. It happened the way I
expected. He somehow did not speak much about how the letter could have
come from Srungeri. He only told Yagneswarar Swamigal has also given his
consent. Now all that remains is that you must get ready for the journey
immediately after Ugadi festival. I will go and organise everything for your stay
for six months. For the entire period, you will be our guest and so do not worry
about anything. We will be sending five carts. You may travel and carry the
things you may need in those five carts. The carts will take three days to reach
our palace and we will receive you at the border. Now, I have to leave and I am
carrying the good news about your acceptance to our King. Dhikshithar asked
him to stay for the night which he politely refused saying as a servant of the
King he is not supposed to delay his journey any more. He then boarded the
cart and was gone in a second.
After he left, Gnanam counted the days and they had exactly eleven days to
Ugadi. The next day, Chetlur house was full of preparations for packing the
articles. Essential vessels, Books, Dresses all were brought to the front room
and were packed in boxes. Kitchen items like plates were placed separately. .
Nanu Anna got exasperated and shouted, Oh! My God! Look at the way these
ladies are piling up the things! Will anyone tell them that Raja is not going to
send five ships only five bullock carts.
Kondu staged a kind of revolution in his house and succeeded in making his
father agree for his going with the family. It was not clear how he managed it
being the only son of sarvesar. He brought a bag full of his things and kept it in
the same room. Ugadi came with the usual gaiety and the nature seemed to
welcome the New Year with golden leaves which dropped from the trees and
forming a carpet for the Goddess of the New Year to walk on.
Radius 8
Krishnan The boy who came from nowhere
In Kumbakonam in my grandfathers house, there was one unwritten rule if
there is Puja, Krishnan has to be present. Krishnan lived in a portion of a
house. It was the third house from our house on the western side. We did not
know much about his family. Some people told that his father was in army and
he died in action. His family consisted of his widowed mother, himself, and his
brother and a sister (twins). He was the eldest and when I knew him he was
about twelve years old. Probably they lived on the pension given to soldiers
families. But he moved around like the son of a millionaire. I have never seen
him without his usual smile and fast movements from house to house as he
had some friend in every house. He used to go to a bungalow by name Sri
Vilas where lots of Nagalinga trees were there. He would bring a basket full of
Nagalinga flowers from that house Nagalinga flowers (Couroupita guianensis)
are called so because each flower has an appearance of a small lingam inside a
many headed snake. Normally these flowers are not available in market. If you
perform Puja to Siva with a nagalinga flower, it appears as if you are offering a
siva linga to another sivalinga. Having brought those flowers, he would straight
away go to my grandfather and almost order him I brought lot of flowers. Do
Puja today
Krishnan, one Kumar and I used to play cricket in the terrace of our house.
Many times, the ball would cross the terrace and land in the terrace of our
neighbours house. The neighbour, Sitharama Iyer, used to get angry and scold
us. Since it was getting repeated, one day he built a small wall to separate the
two terraces. That evening, Krishnan came and saw the half completed wall.
He was very angry. I thought he would demolish the wall. He took a big stick
and wrote on the wall which was still wet Death to Sitarama Iyers wife. First
of all, the royal decree was written on our side so Sitharama Iyer never read it
and secondly I did not quite understand why Sitharama Iyers wife should die
for the wall built by him without consulting us.
I often would ask my grandfather what makes krishnan so attached to us? he
said probably he was related to us in one of our earlier births. Was he Kondu
whom we met in Chetlur then?
Whirl 8
Arrival of Bullock Carts in Chetlur
The New Year Vijaya (1713) was born and every house in Chetlur celebrated
the New Year with Popatlu (Poli), neem flower Pachadi, Mango pachadi, Vadai
and other delicacies. In Yagneswaras house also, the guests had come for the
New Year. Nanu Annas daughters had come from Ongole and Nellore for the
festivities. Nanu Anna was busy with his grandchildren. They left in two days. It
was getting hotter and hotter. It appeared as if the sun had come down to the
village to see off Yagneswarar. On the third day after Ugadi, the village
watchman came and told that five carts had arrived from Tanjore and they
were on the way to Yagneswaras house.
In a few minutes, five bullock carts all of them new and nicely painted with
polished handles and mirrors could be seen standing opposite to Yagneswaras
house. The villagers have never seen such beautiful carts not such powerful
bullocks. The inside of the carts was almost fashioned like a sofa and two or
three people could comfortably recline in the cushions. The children in the
village had never seen such a caravan of impressive carts and bullocks and
many of them were clamouring to have a peek inside. The drivers of the carts
had a tough time in dissuading the children from doing so.
Anjaneyalu appeared on the scene with a glow in his face (as after all he knows
the Minister Rayasam intimately isnt it?) and demanded to know who the
head driver was. A person came in front and announced Sir, These carts have
been sent by Tanjore King to bring Dhikshithar aiya and his family.
Anjaneyalu said Good, Wait a minute. You are a cart driver or a wrestler? You
look like a Bheema sena. The driver laughed Sir, you are correct. My name is
Bheemsenan. I come from Bellary with one of the bullock carts. Other drivers
have come from Tanjore.
Anjaneyalu seemed satisfied with the replies given and told them to stay in the
courtyard at the back of his house. He also said that he would arrange for
water and some food for the bullocks. Nanu anna also came and offered to
arrange for dinner for the drivers. It was decided that the carts would start
their journey by 10 AM next morning. It was decided to give a complete rest to
the drivers and the carts.
Next morning, one by one all goods were brought to the street. Bheemasenan
and his assistants planned the whole arrangement. The first cart was for
Dhikshithar, his wife and daughter. Second cart was for the boys. Third one
would be for household materials and the fourth would be for food and
kitchen items. The fifth cart was to remain empty. Goods were kept and
arranged for balancing the front and the back which is technically known as
mun baram and Pin baram in Thamizh. An imbalance would tire the bullock
fast. Nanu anna jumped up and sat on the cushions for some time and satisfied
his curiosity. The drivers started performing a Puja and Prayer for the success
of the journey. Mooppanar, the eldest person came forward and led the prayer
to all Gods and their forefathers. After the song, they lit the camphor and
feverishly danced as if the Goddess had granted their wishes. Bheemasenan
did not take part in this and focussed on getting the guests ready for the travel.
Dhikshthar along with his family came outside and took leave of all neighbours
and friends. Nanu Anna was emotional. He embraced Dhikshithar and shed
copious tears. Everyone got inside the carts allocated to them. Suddenly
Gnanam noticed that sarvesar was not to be found. She shouted, Kondu?
Where is your father? Kondu had no answer. He was calling Appa, appa and
going around. Bheemasenan told Dhikshithar Aiya, we have to start. Once the
arthi is done, cart should not stay. It has to move. Dhikshithar got in. Gnanam
reluctantly got in. Kondu, Get in the second cart shouted Dhikshithar.
Bheemasenan asked Aiya, Is the boy your brother? Dhikshithar told No, It is
my fate, and it comes with me wherever I go. After everybody got in,
Bheemasenan led the caravan with the first cart in which Dhikshithar was
seated along with his wife and daughter. At that time, they saw Sarvesar
running and waving his hand feverishly. Gnanam asked Bhemmasenan Stop
for a while, the old man is almost out of breath. She got down from the cart
to receive Sarvesar and said, Anna, where had you gone, every one is
searching feverishly for you. Sarvesar came to the cart and said I went to the
temple in the nearby village. You know it was destroyed by the invaders. It is in
a bad shape. I cleared the garbage, lit a lamp and offered milk to Siva. That
must have taken lot of time. Then he asked Kondu to get down. He took
Kondus hand and placed it on Gnanams hand. Gnanam, He does not have
mother. You are his mother. If you want you beat him. But make him a man.
Then only his mothers soul will rest in peace Gnanam said Anna, Do not
worry, when he comes back, he will not be known as Kondu, people will call
him Kothandaramaswami by his full name. Even Dhikshithar could not believe
his ears. What happened to Gnanam? Why is she getting so emotional over
Kondu who is any way a tag along rather than any one worth discussing?
Sarvesar called kondu to his side Kondu, I do not remember fully. There is a
slokam in Ramayanam wherein Sumithra tells Lakshmana when he leaves for
forest. It starts like this Ramam Dsaratham viddhi, Gnanam said Very
beautiful slokam Isnt it? I can tell you the complete slokam.
Ramam Dasaratham vidhhi maam viddhi janakathmajam
Ayodhyam Atavim Viddhi gachcha yathaa thathaa sukham
(Know Rama as your father Sita as myself (mother).
Know the forest to be Ayodhya. Then, wherever you go it will be good for you)
Sarvesar said, Absolutely, You are proving that you are a Sanskrit scholars
daughter. What a scholarship you have. Kondu, ask Gnanam the meaning later,
now you can board. Kondu started crying then. Sarvesar comforted Kondu
and he got into the second cart. Bheemasenan signalled and the carts started
moving slowly. Some close relatives walked behind. Suddenly, Sarvesar came
running and after coming close to the cart told Gnanam,One thing. Kondu has
a kandam (something indicating danger to life) at the age of 17. He is going
to be 17 this adi month. People say that floods are common in Cauvery. He
does not know swimming. Do not let him go near the river. Carts picked up
speed now. Still Sarvesar was not leaving the carts. He threw a bag inside the
cart. I have put some almonds. All plucked from our tree. Eat them. After
that he found that he had only his towel which he waved till the carts were out
of sight. Then he walked back slowly and almost collapsed in front of His
house. Nanu anna came and lifted him. Sarvesa, what is this? Crying like a
child? Where has Kondu gone? Gnanam will take care of him better than you
do. Stop crying now. sarvesar got up and held Nanu annas hand and started
speaking Anna, I am not crying because Kondu has left. I know he is in good
hands. I am crying for myself. I have lived with him for 16 years. I have not
spent ten minutes with him in these 16 years. I will get up in the morning and
go to some temple or other. I never cared for him. He is also a boy just like
others. He must have felt in his heart that I am neglecting him. But, Anna, that
boy never told me. I now feel that I should have brought some sweets for him,
some nice clothes to wear, told some stories to him. But, he is gone now. One
thing I tell you, Anna, Lord is very clever. He is telling me indirectly, Sarvesa,
you Fool! You do not know what affection for a son means. Now I will teach
you that. He is giving me this test. I have to endure. But tell me, anna, will I see
him again? Nanu anna comforted him, Sarvesa, You are worrying as if you
have sent him for vanavasam. It is just six months. Before you realise that they
have gone, they will all be back and we are going to celebrate this Deepavali
together, just see
Sarvesar got some energy and walked towards his house. He was speaking to
himself Nanu anna is correct. He will be back for Deepavali. I am going to first
perform his marriage. Once he is married, I will not roam around. I am going to
sit at home and tell the girl to get me a baby grand son or grand daughter. I will
spend time with that child. The child will wave its hand and ... he was laughing
by himself as he went inside the house.
The carts which left Chetlur turned sharp towards Tirupathi when they met the
main road. Bheemasenan Briefed Dhikshithar. Aiya, Tanjore is 120 Kadham
from here (kadham =3.5 KM) and our bullocks are high breed bullocks. They
can go at the speed of even 10 Kadhams but they cannot run at that speed for
the entire stretch. We may break our journey also for security reasons. We are
given instructions to take you straight to Tanjore and not to enter or halt any
of the cities in between.
Gnanam said That is somewhat disappointing because I thought we could just
have dharshan of Sri Kalahasthiswarar before we move to Tanjore.
Dhikshithar said Gnanam, he told clearly that is the instruction, Do not pester
him now. Bheemasenan asked without looking behind Amma, do you belong
to Srikalahasthi?Dhikshithar asked, of course, how did you guess?,
Bheemasenan said You addressed amma by her name. That name belongs to
the Devi in Kalahasthi temple. So I guessed it. Then Bheemasenan gave a
practical solution. Amma, I cannot go against the order. However, you are
right in saying you want to have dharsan of your favourite temple before you
embark on such a long journey. I suggest one thing. Kalahathi is north east
whereas we need to go south west. Let the caravan proceed undisturbed
towards Pakala. I will now turn the cart and take you to the temple. After you
have your darsan, I will drive fast and join others by noon. Dhikshithar agreed
with the plan.
Bheemasenan stopped the cart and had a word quickly with other drivers. He
asked Mooppanar to lead the caravan and turned his cart towards kalahasthi.
Once he reached the town, he parked the cart under a tree. Then he told
Dhikshithar Aiya, It is not correct for me to take the cart too near the temple.
We might run a risk. I will stop here. You, Amma and the baby may go to the
temple and come back. I will wait for you here.
In an hour, Dhikshithar and his family had the dharshan and walked back to the
spot where the cart was parked. Dhikshithar saw Bheemasenan in animated
discussion with two men under a tree. On seeing the guests from a distance,
the men rode away on their horses. Dhikshithar thought that it was a strange
thing that in a place where Bheemasenan was an absolute stranger, who must
be these men who were chatting with him?
On reaching the cart, He asked Bheemasenan, Bheemasena, we saw two men
speaking to you and they left immediately after they saw us.Who are they? Are
they known to you? Bheemasenan was casual in his reply Oh those fellows!!
Who knows? They could be travellers. They asked me the way to go to some
village by name Gundla and I told them I do not know.
In an hour they were back on the main road to catch up with the other four

Radius 9
Kalahasthiswarar temple at Kumbakonam
Near our house at Kumbakonam, there is a very beautiful temple called
Kalahasthiswarar Temple. It is small but within its small perimeter, it has
almost all Gods. Siva, who is Kalahasthiswara his consort Gnanambika,
Murugan, Hanuman, Durga and Navagrahas there and so you have almost the
satisfaction of praying to all gods in our religion. My grandfather told a very
interesting story about this temple. About 200 years back, a poet called Bhatta
Shri visited this temple while on a visit to Kumbakonam and probably the
Sankara Matham near the temple. In the temple, the poet saw the priest
chatting away with all the young women and sometimes going inside and
eating the food stuff etc. The poet took note of it but did not say anything.
Finally, the priest got some free time from his usual activities and noticed the
poet. He thought of a plan to get some fame. He offered to do archana to Lord
Siva free if the poet could recite a poem about him. The poet thought that it
was pretty rude on the part of the archaka to say this but he agreed to the
deal. The archaka performed the archana and gave the prasad to the Poet. He
saw that a substantial crowd had collected around the sannidhi. Then he asked
the poet Sir, Please recite a poem now on me as agreed. The Poet asked the
archaka, Fine, tell me your name. The archaka replied My name is Shanthi
Gurukkal. The poet then sang (in Samskrutham) as follows; (Note Dvijan is a
Brahmin and note the pun on the word Shanthi)
Shanthi dvijan does shanthi to the lamps to steal the oil:
He then does shanthi to his lust by chatting with women who come here:
He also does shanthi to his stomach by eating the food meant for God
At this rate, he will do shanthi (extinguish) to the sivashakthi who shine here
We do not know how the Gurukkal must have felt having been humiliated thus
in front of his own people. But, he would have learnt a lesson that poets
however simple they may appear cannot be taken for granted. There is a
lingam in the north east corner of the temple which used to be quite dark
where I have many times stood for minutes together just listening to the
stories it used to tell me. oh! Those moments!!
Whirl 9
Dhikshithars Odyssey 1713 CE

Courtesy : Google map
The route which the caravan carrying Dhikshithar and his family took is shown
in the map above. The carts must have followed the route touching Chittoor,
Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Tirukkoilur on ward to vrudhdhachalam and then to
Tanjore. This must have been the preferred route as the other route nearer the
coast would pass through Arcot Nawabs territory.
Dhikshithar recalled that Bheema senan stayed back in the cart while he went
and so asked a question to Bheemasenan Why did you stay back? You could
also have come for Darsanam. Bheemasenan replied That is true sir, but who
would allow me in? We belong to low caste and the priests do not allow us
inside. Dhikshithar said Different places have different rules. Bheemasenan
said "I think Aiya has learnt to talk diplomatically even before reaching the
palace. and then there emanated a thunderous laughter from him. Gnanam
felt so terrified she said, Please ask him not to laugh like this. I feel so much
afraid. In fact it rips through my ears. Bheemasenan said "Amma, You are
asking me not to laugh. But if I do not laugh like this, Periya mookkan will not
even drink water. Dhikshithar asked out of curiosity Who is that
Periyamookkan? Bheemasenan said Oho!! Aiya!! You are travelling with
Periya mookkan for the last three hours and you still do not know him, Periya
mookka! no one knows you here eh Dhikshithar understood that he was
addressing the bull and then asked Do bullocks have names? Bheemasenan
got a bit angry Why sir, when humans can have names, why do you think
bullocks should not have names? See we have Periya mookkan on our right
and china mookkan on our left. Chinna mookkan is one year younger. The
moment I laugh aloud, Periya mookkan feels happy and will start running
It was noon time. Bheemasenan stopped the cart and signalled all drivers to
stop. He said Aiya, I will stop for some time. Please finish your lunch. After
this, we have forest track and it is not safe to stop anywhere.. Gnanam asked
Bheemasenan to take some food which they have brought along with them.
Bheemasenan declined it by saying that he does not take food on Mondays.
In an hour, the carts resumed their journey. Bheemasenan asked Dhikshithar
Aiya, are you going to Tanjore to build a temple? Those people were
mentioning something like that. Dhikshithar admired the drivers ability to
collect information and said "Not exactly, we are going to perform some yaga
for the welfare of the people. But if King desires we can build a temple too.
Bheemasenan said Absolutely true aiyaa, only Kings can build temples. What
can poor people do? and then produced a laughter equally thunderous like
the previous one. Some sparrows got out of the nests out of fear and settled
back in the tree. Gnanam seemed to have got used to the laughter and hence
did not object to it now. Bheemasenan said Aiya, I will sing a song, if you do
not mind Dhikshithar said that he had no objection. Bheemasenan announced
Oh driver friends! I am going to sing a song. Each driver must sing in response.
Be ready The he sang in a sonorous voice a song in Kannada,
Ullavaru sivalaya maduvaru Nanenna maduve badavaniya
Enna kale kampa dehave dehula sirase honna kalasaviaya
Kudala sangama Deva kelayya sthavarthukkalivundu jangamarukkalivilla
(Basaveswar Vachanam )
(Rich can build temples for you. What will this poor person build for you?
My legs are pillars, my body is your sannidhi, my head is the golden tower
Oh Kudala sangama Deva! Listen to me! The temples built by the rich may get
destroyed but this temple built by Baktha will never get destroyed)
Dhikshithar said very beautiful song. I know a sloka similar to this. Can I tell
that? Bheemasenan was happy " Aiya why not, you can even sing.Dhikshithar
said "No, I do not think I can sing. But I will recite the poem.
Gabire kasare visathi vijane gora vipine
Visale saile cha bramathi kusumartham jadamathi
Samarpyaikam chetha sarsijam umanatha bavathe
sukenavasthathum jana iha na janahi kimaho
(Sivanda lahari by Adhi Sankara slokam no 9)
(Oh! worried men! you travel up the hill in the forest across deserts and
through gardens to find good flowers to offer to God. Why dont you realise
that the flower you can offer God and enjoy life is the lotus called mind which is
always with you.)
Bheemasenan listened to the song and its meaning and appreciated it. Bythis
time, another song came from Mooppanar. Soon, it became dark.
Bheemasenan told every one to drive the carts close to each other and light
the bright lamps to frighten the nocturnal animals. The carts were moving from
Chittoor towards Vellore slowly.
It was dawn when Dhikshithar woke up. The sun was rising like a small ball in
the east and as the carts were going southerly the rays of the sun were falling
on the left side of the carts. The carts stopped near a lake. Bheemasenan said
that they would break for about three hours to give some rest for the bullocks.
He went to the lake to have a bath. Dhikshithar and his family also took bath
and were enjoying the morning scene. Since Vellore was only about 5 kadhams
(20km) everyone was relaxed. Dhikshithar sat down with Kondu and elder son
Lachu and did Veda parayanam for half an hour. Then, they started looking for
Bheemasenan. they would have walked along the bank of the lake for about
five minutes when they found Bheemasenan sitting and doing abhishekam to
the Lingam idol with the water in the lake. He was reciting
Urdhvya namaha Urdhva lingaya namaha
Hiranyaya namaha Hiranya lingaya namaha
Bhavaya namaha bhava lingaya namaha
He completed his Puja took the Lingam with great respect in his hand and wore
it in his chest. Then he started walking towards them. Dhikshithar said
Bheemasena, You do not appear to be a cart driver. You look like a King.
Please tell us who you are and why you are concealing your identity like this.
Bheemasenan laughed one of his trade mark laughters, Aiya has found out.
Now there is no harm in telling. I am not a cart driver and I happen to be the
ruler of the state of Ikkeri. The cart you travelled is my cart. Dhikshithar was
taken aback. He said, What made you, a King to travel incognito and
accompany us? Please clarify things to us. Ikkeri Maharaja (so far we have
been using the name Bheemasenan but here afterward it would not be
appropriate to address a King of a small state in Karnataka, a scholar and a Siva
bhaktha in that manner) said I have taken the responsibility to ensure the
safety of your family as you travel to Tanjore. Srungeri Mahasannidhanam also
asked me to do my best and so I thought of a plan. I was at Srungeri for the
release of my book Siva thathva Ratnakara at the hands of Mahasannidhanam
on Ugadhi day. I did not go back to Ikkeri. I changed places at Bellary with
another driver and came to Chetlur to pick you up. Dhikshithar said Where is
the need for you to strain yourself like this. Some Maratha soldiers could have
come and accompanied us Ikkeri Raja said Aiya, This is politics. If Maratha
soldiers come, Sultan will get alerted. Then there could be some skirmishes
between the two. Your safety will be in jeopardy. We are a small state. No one
bothers about us where we go. Do not bother about these things. You have the
divine blessings to go to Tanjore and restore the confidence of people. When
you return from there, you must come to Ikkeri and then only go to Chetlur
Dhikshithar wanted to express his gratitude to the King and said You have
done something no King would do. The Royal symbols are not shared with
anyone. The cart which you normally ride is part of the symbols of your State.
You not only let us travel in that but you also drove it. I think you are like Lord
Krishna who was a chariot driver for Arjuna
Basavappar said No, No, I am not like Krishna. I am more like Arjuna
Dhikshithar asked, then why did you call yourself Bheema and not Arjuna
when you came to our house? Basavappar laughed and related the incident I
did not think of a name but when I appeared in front of your Village Chief, he
told me that I looked like Bheemasena and at that instant I made up that my
name was Bheemasena.
Gnanam arrived after finishing her bath in the lake and Yagneswarar explained
her about the tremendous help that Basavappar had done to escort them
through the hazardous territory. Gnanam was moved and said I am very
indebted to you for protecting me and my family. We will never forget you. If I
have the next birth I should be born as your sister and return the help by doing
something for you
Basavappar obviously did not expect her to speak like this. He was moved but
he managed to regain the composure fast. He said Amma, Why talk about
next birth? You are my younger sister even now. I am a Siva bhaktha. You are
Gnanam. After Bhakthi, Gnanam is born as per scholars.
Gnanam thought for a while and told Yagneswarar Can you see that he is
quoting Adhi Sankaras Sivananda Lahari ? If he can quote so easily a work of
Sankara what must be his calibre? Yagneswarar saw the point and even
wondered whether Raja Saraboji would have invited them if he had met Ikkeri
Raja first. However, Basavappar declined all that praise by saying that he was
just a son of a chettiar and having been adopted by the Queen, he had
occupied the throne. It is his contact with Mahasannidhanam and the scholars
that have made him familiar with such works.
By then the soldiers brought the Royal armour, the sword and the Crown of
Ikkeri. Basavappar wore them and in a minute transformed from a Bullock cart
driver to a King in his regal splendour. A soldier brought the cart- the same cart
in which Dhikshithar travelled. At a distance, the fifth cart which came empty
was standing. Basavappar signalled to one of the soldiers who brought a plate
full of gifts for Yagneswarar and his family. Basavappar handed over the gifts to
Yagneswarar and showed him the Royal insignia of Ikkeri. He told him to show
this to any of the soldiers of Ikkeri anytime they get into trouble while
returning to Chetlur. He asked the fifth cart to be brought and asked them to
board the cart. He assured them that they are safe and once they cross
Kollidam it was Tanjore Kingdom. Then, he jumped on to his cart and the cart
in a flash turned west ward and sped away accompanied by four soldiers
around it on horsebacks.
For a long time, Dhikshithar was standing, not able to fully comprehend the
happenings in the last one day. Then, he came to the earth when the driver
Mooppanar reminded him Aiya, can you get into the cart, we are ready to
start. At that time, Dhikshithar realised why Basavappar kept the fifth cart
empty. It was meant to be their cart after Vellore. Then, he also saw that the
fifth cart did not have the comforts like the first one apparently as the cart he
travelled was meant to be for royals.
Once they got in, Dhikshithar asked the driver, Mooppanar, were you aware
that the driver of the first cart was a King? Mooppanar said aiyaiyo, Yajaman,
we did not know. That man told us that he came for Bellary and showed the
message from Tanjore palace. What a personality? Do you think you will find
any other King like him today in the world? Dhikshithar said firmly No I do
not think we will find any one like Basavappar in the world any day.

Radius 10
My grandfathers first visit to Thiruvaiyaru (1920)
My grandfather had never visited Tanjore or places nearby in his early life as
he spent his school days in Tiruvallur near Chennai. He passed his B.A as well as
Law degree from Chennai. He recounted me his first visit to Thiruvaiyaru as
I alighted from the train at Kumbakonam station only to be immediately
rounded up by two Police constables. I would hasten to clarify that I was not an
activist with the freedom struggle nor I was wanted for any other reason. My
father-in-law Mr. Ramaswamy Iyer was posted as a Police Inspector (a
powerful officer in British days) and he had sent two constables to receive me
in Kumbakonam. We walked or rather marched to the Bus stand where I got a
bus to Thiruvaiyaru and occupied a seat in between the two policemen. When I
got down at thiruvaiyaru and started to walk to my father-in-laws house. It
was very interesting scene for all. Many were curious about the man who was
caught by their policemen in the early morning. As the procession proceeded
toward the Inspectors house the curiosity of passers by increased. Of course,
it was not as sensational as they expected when they saw my father in law
receiving me calling me as son-in law or Mappillai in Thamizh.
I do not remember to have been to Thiruvaiyaru but every Thursday, a person
dressed as a sanyasi carrying a crucible and some white powder used to come
to every house and ask for alms. This sanyasi was dressed in saffron and used
to chant Aatkondar and put the white powder called gungiliyum in the
crucible resulting in white and fragrant smoke emanating from it. My
grandmother told me that we have to pray Atkondar to protect us from all
insects like spider, scorpion etc.
One day, I dropped a 10 paisa coin (you would not find it today in India) very
proudly in the plate and was looking at the magic of the white smoke as he
drew out a pinch of gungilium and dashed it in the smouldering fire in the
crucible. I saw not only Aatkondar but could see a family getting down at the
border of Tanjore and being welcomed by a group of Royal officers. The man
who was being welcomed looked familiar as if he belonged to our family but I
could not be sure.
Whirl 10
Dhikshithar enters Tanjore state 1713 CE
Mooppanar called out to other drivers Servai, Mari, Kali every one listen. We
should drive fast now. As day goes, you may find the hot winds near
Thiruvannamalai but still we need to reach Arakandanallur on the bank of
Pennai River before the night. We will halt there. In the night, we will go and
find out the water level in Kollidam and if it is low, we should start in the early
morning itself. One more thing, no one is going out anywhere in the night. If
anyone is found moving out, his head will reach Tanjore faster than my cart.
It was clear now who was the captain.
Mooppanar was the driver now for the cart in which Dhikshithar and his wife
travelled (of course the child was also there). Mooppanar was telling Aiya, we
used to come regularly in this road before. After Badhsah took control, our
lives have become uncertain. Those fellows are after us. Dhikshithar said yes I
heard that they use cannons for the fight. Mooppanar said Aiya, they may
have cannon but our Raja Devsingh has got a horse. If he sits on it, no one can
win him He shouted at the other driver, Mari, Can you sing the song on Raja
Devsingh?. Mari started singing a ballad on Raja Dev singh.
(Raja Devsingh is as famous in Thamizhnadu as William Tell in Switzerland or
Robinhood in England. He astounded the Emperor Aurangzeb in Delhi by
bringing a very adamant horse under his control. He always rode on it. Its
name was Neela veni. Raja Devsingh resisted Arcot Navab almost daily and his
adventures became popular among all and sundry. He attained his peak
popularity in 1713 the year our story takes place. However, the Devsingh era
came to an end in 1714 when Arcot Navab called him out for a fight. It is said
that Devingh went to the temple and prayed Ranganatha perumal in Gingee
before going for the fight. Perumal warned him not to go. Devsingh did not pay
heed to His advice and went out. Perumal turned his face to one side as he did
not want to see him. Still He remains in that pose. Devsingh was a Rajasthani
but worshipped in Thamizhnadu as a brave warrior.)
By evening just before sunset, the carts reached the bank of Pennai River. The
captain suggested to Dhikshithar that they could stay in the nearby temple.
Dhikshithar walked to the temple nearby and met the archakar. The Archakar
was kind enough to take them to his house after a darsan of the Lord at the
temple. He also told them about the temple. He said that the temple remained
locked by people from Jain religion for years. When Gnana sambandar came,
he was shocked to find the gates locked. He got them opened and sang a few
hymns on the Lord Siva. Lord of the temple was called Athulya natheswarar
(The Lord beyond compare) and Amman was Soundarya Kanakambikai (the
beautiful golden lady).
In the mean time, Mooppanar inspected the water level which was less than
three feet and so he gave instructions to the drivers that they should start
early morning. Next day, early morning, Dhikshithar went to the temple once
again and prayed for successful completion of his mission. By 5 AM, the carts
had started crossing Kollidam at vantage point.
As day went, one could feel the proximity to Tanjore. The smell of flowers, the
humidity and the increasing vegetation along with the increasing population
indicated to them that they were nearing Tanjore. As the carts entered the
Thiruvaiyaru which marked the beginning of the Royal precincts they stopped.
Dhikshithar found that an elite group of officials led by Rayasam was waiting
there to receive them. As Dhikshithar got down, a beaming Rayasam received
with him with all paraphernalia, which included the Nagaswaram, a set of
garlands and purna kumbam.
Rayasam asked Dhikshitharval, Welcome to the state of Tanjore. On behalf of
our King Raja Saraboji, I am here. I hope you had no trouble on the way.
Dhikshithar said I have one complaint. You had made Basavappar, King of
Ikkeri to drive the cart and that is something I am unable to acceptRayasam
said It happened due to the initative taken by Mahasannidhanam and
Basavappar himself and I had to agree as I was keen that you should arrive
Dhikshithar and family were taken to a house on the banks of the Cauvery near
the temple. As the carts stopped and the couple alighted, the temple bell rang
and that seemed to be good omen. Gnanam said that she liked the house very
much with the garden around and the river just a little distance away. The cart
drivers said that they would unload in the morning and the carts could remain
with bullocks unfastened.
Ryasam was satisfied that they liked the house and he left for the palace telling
them that he would take Dhikshithar to meet the King after a couple of days.
Next morning by daybreak, the drivers unloaded the vessels and articles.
Kondu and Lachu carried them and kept them in the places pointed out by
Dhikshithar. They left after receiving some gifts given by Dhikshithar for their
dedicated work.
Gnanam was washing the clothes near the well in the backyard and she called
Lachu. Lachu, I just met our neighbour. That lady seems to be a very nice
person. It looks like she has got three or four kids. She speaks Telugu too. Why
dont you take the bananas which we got yesterday and give them?
Lachu went with the bananas and for quite some time did not return at all.
Dhikshithar was shouting at the top of his voice Where is this boy? I asked him
to unpack the Puja articles. It is getting late for my daily Puja.
After fifteen minutes Lachu returned. Why did you take so much time to give
some bananas and come? enquired Gnanam. Lachu hesitatingly answered
Giving bananas took only few minutes but there was a fight and so it became
Gnanam could not follow what could be the reason for a fight on the first day
itself. Lachu related the story. When I went to meet that Mami, her son came
and asked me something in Thamizh. I said I do not know Thamizh and spoke in
Telugu. He made fun of me and my talk by shouting gulu gulu osthanu
poyindhi. I also got angry. I told him Look you stupid fellow, Telugu is the
language of angels and Thamizh is the language of brutes. Then he came to
beat me. While I resisted, I must have also given one or two blows to him.
Then his mother came and asked us not to fight. She also gave some murukku
to me.
Dhikshithar was very angry. You have not even spent a day here. How dare
you go and exchange blows with the neighbour? Do you know what they will
speak of us? By the way who told you that Telugu is spoken by angels and
Thamizh is spoken by brutes? Lachu said In Chetlur, Srowthigal mama told
that we are going to a place where people speak a language fit to be spoken
only by brutes. So, I told the same thing
Dhikshithar realised the impact of some loose talk on his boys impressionable
mind. He hastened to undo the harm immediately. He asked Lachu Lachu,
tellme one thing, we have come here to serve Raja of Tanjore, Do you know
what language he speaks at home? Lachu said It must be Telugu Dhikshithar
laughed No, he speaks a language called Marathi which you do not even
know. If you go still north, people speak Hindustani. Infact, they recite the
entire Ramayana not in Samskrutham but in that language. No language is
superior or inferior. Now, run to the next house and ask for forgiveness of the
boy and come. You may have lunch after that.
Lachu stayed on for fifteen minutes. Nagu was signalling him to go as he would
not take lunch without his brother. Finally, Lachu went and as soon as he
entered the house, the lady welcomed him and laughingly told that she also
told the same thing about Thamizh when she came ten years back. She called
his son "Rammohan, come and make friends with Lachu. You both are brothers
now Rammohan said he was sorry that he made fun. Lachu soon had some
more murukkus and returned. Rammohan asked him to join him when he goes
to temple in the evening to learn Thevaram, a book of hymns on Siva.
Lachu promised and returned in time for lunch. In the evening, he went to the
temple and listened to the Thevaram being sung at the temple. Somehow he
was attracted by the tune and the words seemed to have a magic about them.
Maathar piraikkanniyanai...... was the thevaram which was being sung. It
described the morning scene in thruvaiyaru. Appar, who was the saint who
sang the poem, says he got up in the early morning collected some flowers
which were about to blossom and went behind the devotees. He describes that
he could see Lord coming with the Goddess and makes an allegory to male
elephant coming with a she elephant.
In the night, Kondu reminded him Lachu, I hope you have not given up.
Remember it is fight for our prestige. Dont fall for a few murukkus Lacchu
said Never, I am going to put up a big fight. But in his heart he has started
loving Thamizh. He murmured inaudibly to anyone It does not seem to be a
bad languge after all

Radius 11
Samskrutham and Thamizh
My grandfather had as much interest in Thamizh literature as he had in
Samskrutham. It may not mean much today but the 50s and 60s were
different. One could find people willing to get into heated debate on the
superiority of samskrutham and speak low of Thamizh. My grandfather
insisted that people should know Kambaramayanam or Periya puranam. He
liked the epic work Silappathikaram very much and he used to say that it is an
example of spontaneous poetry. He encouraged me to speak on some topic
related to Thamizh literature for ten minutes once in two or three months
sometimes more often. He used to listen and critique the speech if it was
delivered carelessly or without adequate preparation. My brothers and I used
to take them seriously and refer to various books, take notes and deliver the
speeches on an improvised podium. However, since the podium was short, we
had to sit down and speak. Frankly, we used to imitate the speakers whom we
heard those days a lot. My grandfather wanted us to listen to as many people
as possible. I used to accompany him to meetings of Advaitha Sabha wherein
all the discussions were in Samskrutham and I could not understand anything.
He also used to take us to the Thamizh speeches by Pulavar Keeran who was a
great orator. I recall that I used to even carry a notebook to copy down some
quotations given by speakers like Sivananda Vijayalakshmi. He was a poet at
heart. He learnt Urdu and some French only to appreciate the poems written
in those languages. It seems he wrote his first Thamizh poem when he was
studying fourth standard. It was about ant and its ability to protect its eggs
when rains were due. In 1963, All India Radio announced a Poetry competition
for school children about peacock which is our national bird. My grandfather
wrote a poem and sent the entry in my name. It got broadcast in the
Manimalar which was a popular childrens programme in Thamizh which was
between 1 PM and 1 30 PM on Sundays. He was enthusiastic about the new
breed of poets and had a word of appreciation for Na Pichamurthi and Kavi
Yogi Sudhdhanda Bharathiyar. He was somehow averse to the Thamizh songs
which were part of movies.

Whirl 11
Dhikshithar commences his mission
In a week after he arrived in Thiruvaiyaru and settled down in that village,
Rayasam invited him to come to the palace for a meeting with the King and the
other scholars who were pat of the Royal court at that time. Yagneswarar was
introduced by Rayasam who spoke briefly about his visit to Chetlur and how he
was truly impressed by the approach which Yagneswarar outlined there. He
then requested Yagneswarar to speak.
Yagneswarar thanked the King for providing him a house and all facilities. He
also talked about his forefathers who had conducted certain yagas and homas
for propitiating some Gods for the sake of bringing the prosperity to the
Kingdom. However, he said the difference here is that the gruesome incident
had happened in the palace itself. So the activities, naturally, had to start at
the palace. He proposed to start with Ganpathyatharvaseersham (a hymn from
Atharva veda which declares Ganesha as the ultimate power in the Universe
and which is believed to have powers to grant favours to those who chant it 21
times) to please Ganapthy. 21 (which is a favourite number for Ganapathy)
Brahmins should perform almost for a month Ganapthy homam and young
boys would be fed daily in the palace. He then asked all scholars to give their
views on this first step. The scholars spoke to each other and looked at
Thippirajapuram Ganapatigal. Thippirajappuram Ganapatigal was a
madhyamar. This means his family was settled in one of the 18 villages given as
a grant in the Chola period back in 1000 CE. He was an expert in many things
especially on the procedures to be followed in the worship of Ganapthy, the
elephant God. Ganaptigal (which is not his name but a title given to him as he
was accomplished in reciting Ganam a pattern of reciting Vedas where
certain words repeat in different patterns giving a mesmerising effect to the
listener. he was so much of an expert in Ganam that he was not known by his
own name in the palace) agreed that Lord Ganapthy had to be worshipped first
but he said the scriptures talk about various forms of Ganapathy and the
procedures differ depending on the form worshipped. He asked Dhikshithar to
touch upon which form he had in mind when he spoke about Ganesha.
Yagneswarar took no time in replying as he had thought about the entire
approach for a week. He said Astrologers are aware that the Kingdom and the
palace are afflicted now by Rahu and kethu. At the same time as women have
been harassed, the prayers have to be for Shakthi. I propose that we perform
Vancha Kalpa latha homam. This homam is performed with Ganapathy himself
as Ambal. This answers both the needs-freedom from Rahu Kethu as well as
the worship for Shakthi. Ganpatigal expressed his happiness and surprise at the
aptness of the suggestion. He said Dhikshithar is absolutely correct. This
worship if connected with Sri Vidya which is the most superior way of worship
of Shakthi. How apt that we worship Ganapathy in the presence of Shakthi.
Can anyone forget the sloka Agajanana Padmarkam (He whose presence
makes the face of Ambal blossom like the lotus which blossoms on seeing the
sun)? I think Dhikshithars approach is to bring Ganeshas grace by doing the
parayanam of Ganapathyatharvaseersham which is the most important work
among Ganapathy bakthas. His suggestion is to feed boys daily displays his
acumen because in Ganapathy Puranam it is clearly written that Lord Ganesha
always played with his friends even incognito and likes children especially boys.
In Maharashtra there is a temple where he is worshipped in the same form as
captured by one of the small boys in clay. (Ballal).
King said That will be done. I think the entire Vaikasi month will be spent on
this. After these parayanam and puja , what will be the next step?.
Dhikshithar said, We will have to clean up the place where rice bags are
stored and start the worship of mother there. We will need a Purohit daily to
do the pujas so that the divine presence is restored there. But, the common
people cannot participate in these things. In a couple of months we would like
to move to a place outside the palace where in large number of common
people can come, participate and build a positive frame of mind slowly. We will
involve more people, probably the temples in the state to help us in this work.
Raja SaraboJi said In Maharashtra, we have a very vibrant form of Hindu
culture that we have no worship which is not accompanied by song, dance and
storytelling. I am very happy that you are indicating the same thing which was
absent here. I think if there is no objection from any one, we will start from
Rayasam asked yagneswarar Dhikshitharval, one question, would you like to
shift your family to some place near the palace as it may be inconvenient to be
in Thiruvaiyaru? Yagneswarar said that he preferred to stay in Thiruvaiyaru as
it was a peaceful place and would come daily in cart to the palace.
Thippirajapuram Ganapatigal was nominated as the key person for Ganpathy
After the meeting when Yagneswarar came home, he did not find Lachu.
Gnanm told him that Lachu and Kondu had gone to the temple. He said that he
would also go there and probably bring them home.
In the temple, the evening pujas called sayarakshai started. The Othuvar (the
singer of the hymns) started to sing a hymn from Thevaram. it was one of
those songs sung by Sundaramurthi Nayanar on Siva at a place Thirumazhapadi
almost seven hundrd years back. Othuvar sang with the same devotion.
The song started Ponnar Meniyane.. (Meaning given below)
Oh Lord Siva the one who is of golden hue,
The one who wears the tigers skin like the ascetics do,
The one who wears a Konrai flower on his matted hair,
The one who is the Jewel of the village Mazhapadi,
The one who is like mother to me,
About whom else will I think if I do not think about you?
Rammohan was standing in the first row and the two boys Kondu and Lachu
behind him. Lachu did not understand a word of what is being sung. But he
somehow got attracted to the music and imagined that the words must mean
something profound. at the end of the prayer Rammohan introduced Lachu as
the new boy who did not know Thamizh. By that time, Yagneswarar came and
picked them up and came home. Probably after that day, he had no free time
as from next day, the activities started at the Palace. The whole place was
cleaned up of the rice bags and got nicely painted. The place which was rat
infested for the last forty years became a shining hall. Ganapatigal was
performing the Puja with utmost devotion and commitment to Ganesha.
Rammohan and Lachu became thick friends and daily Lachu accompanied
Rammohan to the temple and sat through the Thevaram class. Though he did
not understand, he could pick up a few tunes. One day, he sang a couple of
thevaram songs and Gnanam could not believe her ears. He told her that he
was going to join the class as a student from the next month and learn more
As a next phase, a big pandal was put up on the banks of the Cauvery river
where other homas were to be performed. Since Ganapatigal was busy in the
palace and where a Ganapathy statue was also installed which required his
presence, Dhikshithar invited a Pundit from Kumbakonam. His name was
Panchpakesa Sastrigal. He was asked to stay in Thiruvaiyaru till the homas
were completed.
One day, Panchpakesa Sastrigal came to Dhikshithars house, Sastrigal was well
built He was tall, hefty and fair. He had smeared sandal paste al over the body
and looked commanding. Dhikshithar welcomed him and he sat down in the
hall. He introduced himself I know Telugu but do not speak in that language. I
know Thamizh well but will not speak in that language either. I will speak only
in Samskrutham. Dhikshithar gave a careful reply in samskrutham That is
fine. But, what is the issue about language? We are going to discuss work.
Panchapakesa Sastrigals face changed and got contorted as if he had heard
something obscene, No, Dhikshitharval, We are particular. We are not like
your Ganapatigal to compromise. We belong to the sub sect Bruhathcharanam.
We follow Vedas strictly. Naturally, we feel shy to speak in other languages. I
know you are a person of exemplary character and are from a highly respected
family. But, you must know that we have some people here who would lift
Thamizh above their heads and say Thamizh is a divine language. Some
vaishanvas call Thamizh hymns as Dravida vedam. You tell me, sir, Will Vedas
written by Maharishis and some songs written by human beings be same? I am
frustrated and so have given up speaking in any language except samskrutham
which is the language of Vedas. At that instant, Lachu came and Dhikshithar
asked him to do pranams to Sastrigal. Sastrigal was very happy and suggested
to Dhikshithar that he should admit Lachu in the Veda patasala at
Kumbakonam. We provide food, shelter and dresses for four years there. 200
students are studying now. Leave Lachu in my care. After four years, he will be
an expert just like his father
Dhikshithar said It sounds very good,. But we have to go back after six
months. How can we leave our eldest son here and go? Gnanam may not
agree. Then he said Let him be of help to you in the srisuktha homam and
Lalitha sahasranama parayanam here from tomorrow. I will shuttle between
palace and Thiruavaiyaru
Panju sastrigal (that was his short name) was very happy at the way Lachu
assisted him. He was saying often A cat cannot after all be born to a tiger.
Somehow it did not last long. On the third day, he came in the evening
dragging Lachu by his ear. He deposited him in the hall and started shouting
Dhikshitharval, you know what this boy was doing in temple? Dhikshithar,
who arrived a bit early that day from the Palace, got shocked. What was he
doing? Please tell me. Panju sastrigal told that he found Lachu learning
Thevaram along with other boys of various castes. See here, Dhikshtharval, If
he speaks Thamizh, he would not even be able to recite vedam. Do they have
the word for Ksha or sha in Thamizh? No, then how do you recite vedam? I am
sorry Dhikshitharval, I thought that I would make your son a Brahmin, now I
think he will only become a hunter. Remember one thing, if I see him once
more in the temple singing Thamizh songs, no Patasala for him. Saying these
words with an air of finality, he stormed out of the house.
Yagneswarar scolded Lachu the entire night for his indiscretion in learning
Thamizh songs. Gannam tried to support Lachu What nonsense? By learning
Thamizh how will he lose the capacity to recite vedham? By the same token,
there were Brahmins who learnt and taught the archery, have they become
Kshatriyas? Let him sing Thamizh songs in pure Thamizh and recite vedham in
pure samskrutham. These arguments were of no avail. Lachus thevaram
singing came to a standstill.

Radius 12
Kaveri and its environs
After mentioning Kumbakonam it is not possible not to write about Kaveri.
Once the month of Adi comes, one can find the boys going in a line to the river
to take bath. On 18
of Adi, the festival Adi pathinettu used to be celebrated.
The children will pull the toy chariot (some of them quite big) to the river and
sit there and take the variety of rice preparations prepared at home. The
college regatta would also be there. And one could find a few Romeos paddling
close to the river bank and ask for the coconut rice or Lemon rice from the
young girls. Some time, one could find the vegetable sellers travelling on the
Plantain leaf bundle all the way from thiruvaiyaru to reach the market in the
morning. During the Avani Avittam we used to immerse ourselves in the water
(not that deep) and take the alluvial soil to make the Rishis for the Puja. On
Ganesh Chathurthi day, in the morning, one could find the artisans making
Ganesh idol in the wet clay and we used to buy one for one Rupee including a
small umbrella for Ganpathy which used to be free. Some of the bolder boys
used to climb the Mandapam and jump from there splashing the water on all
the ladies who would be taking bath inviting typical Tanjore District curses
which were invariably about in which illnesses the boys would die. If you move
westwards in sahaji Nayakan street, opposite the Government college, on the
Kaveri bridge some politically active students would be distributing handbills
calling for immediate revolt against the Petit bourgeoisie while sipping the
degree coffee served by the boy from the nearby Brahmins hotel.
After reading my description of the influence Kaveri had on our lives if you
imagine that I would have spent most of the days swimming in that river and
probably doing some diving occasionally, you are thoroughly mistaken. I had
gone to the extent of taking bath from the steps and if I ever left the steps, I
used to get the fear of getting drowned though the depth in that place would
not be more than six feet. This perennial fear is due to my grandmothers
extremely rigid instructions about not straying anywhere in the Kaveri beyond
the first two steps. She told me that many years back a boy known to our
family dived into Kaveri and never came back alive. I used to think that how
nice it would have been if he could have been saved. He might have become
somebody- who knows a writer or a poet like Varakavi?
Whirl 12
A Twist in Thiruvaiyaru
The month of Ani (June) came and it was time to expect new water in Kaveri.
Kaveri in June brings water with foam and flows with a very high speed.
Kambar who wrote one of the greatest works in Thamizh Ramakathai- had
never seen Sarayu but wrote about how sarayu flowed. He says that Sarayu
changes the entire topology by making a desert area appear like a paddy field
and a paddy field appear as if it is a sea coast. The water flows everywhere and
changes the country like it was never before. This is fine. Now the Kambars
mastery comes. He says it is just like the fate that when it strikes, we really do
not recognise the earlier situation at all. Fate makes a beggar a King in one
minute or makes the King a beggar and the way it happens is unbelievable. If
you read further, you would see it happens in our story itself. But, let me not
divulge it now.
The people who came to see the new flood in Kaveri came to the place where
yagas were performed and they went and told more people. More people
came and while it was good to have people, it was becoming unmanageable.
The crowd was increasing day by day. There was no space in the pandal they
had erected. Raja Saraboji was of the view that we should not discourage
people from coming. But we should manage the activities better. He took a
decision that the pujas connected with Ambal would continue in Thiruvaiyaru
and the Yagas connected with Mahavishnu would be shifted to a new place. A
new place was found south west of Thiruvaiyaru. They got an open ground and
uninterrupted access in all the directions unlike Thiruvaiyaru where they were
squeezed between Kaveri and the village.
The Raja asked pundits to select a name for the venue and he said that the
name should reflect the century old culture which the Chozha Kings nurtured
seven hundred years back. Hence it had to be a pure thamizh name not
something coined from Samskrutham. Now the problem started. There were
many in Durbar who knew Samskrutham. Many knew Telugu. Some people
knew Marathi. They searched but no Thamizh scholar could be found in
Darbar. Very ironic! The King has told that a pure Thamizh name something
that would reflect the Chozhas glorious past should be selected.
Finally, it fell upon Yagneswarar to find a Thamizh name. He did not know
Thamizh. In the evening, he was standing outside the house getting worried
how to find a solution to the problem of finding a name, he saw the Othuvar
passing by. He called Lachu and asked him to go and bring the Othuvar
urgently. In a couple of minutes Othuvar reached Yagneswarars house. He
was explained the task before them that is to find the suitable name for the
new Prayer ground yet to be built near Thiruvaiyaru. Othuvar said that he
would not be able to suggest anything on his own and he said he would do one
thing. He took the Thevaram palm leaf bundle and asked Lachu to take one
from it. Lachu took one leaf. Othuvar took it and said that it was a song sung by
Appar peruman (also called Thirunavukkarasar) in a place called
Thiruveezhimizhalai. He sang the song (English translation given)
My Lord Siva who is pure and shining like coral, who always wants to good to
all, who gave the chakram to Mahavishnu, who sings Chandoga sama vedham,
who resides in the minds of people who recite the five letter Mantra Om
Namashivaya is near. Still, the people do not follow him but get into bad ways.
After completing it, Othuvar asked Yagneswarar, Aiya, Do you belong to Sama
vedham? Yagneswarar said Yes, we belong to Sama vedham. Othuvar asked
In which case are you familiar with the Chandoga samam mentioned in this
song?Yagneswarar was surprised. Chandogya Upanishad is the Upanishad for
sama vedham and Othuvar said that it was mentioned in this Thamizh song. He
asked Othuvar to explain once more. Othuvar said It is mentioned by Appar
Peruman Lord Siva himself is singing Chandogya samam. He is so near to those
who pray Him and distant to those who have doubts while praying. Othuvar
continued, We are looking for a place to pray. Appar uses a word for prayer
Vazhuthuthal- in Thamizh. So, let this place be called Vazhuththur.
Yagneswarar agreed and said that he would communicate to the court the next
day about the suggestion that the place should be named as Vazhuththur.
Then he complimented Othuvar on his singing ability. He asked him whether
the raga was Kambodhi. Othuvar said that there were equivalents in Thamizh
which were called Pann. This song was sung in Thakkesi pann- quite similar to
Kambodhi Ragam. Yagneswarar could realise that the Othuvar had proved to
him that the heights which Thmaizh reached in 1000 CE was beyond the reach
of any other language. He asked Othuvar to come and participate in the
functions organised by the King and sing some Thevarams as well every day.
Othuvar agreed and told him that he had to hurry up as the temple bells had
started ringing indicating that it was time for the evening Puja. Yagneswarar
immediately called Lachu and told him, Lachu, I think you should learn
Thevaram from tomorrow. A book which speaks about sama vedham and
chandogya Upanishad cannot but be good.
Next day, Raja Saraboji announced the place and confirmed that the name of
the venue would be Vazhuththur as suggested by Dhikshithar. The ground was
levelled and the place was getting prepared. Since it would be difficult for
Dhikshithar to be in both the places, it was decided that Panju sastrigal would
be the key person in Thiruvaiyaru and Dhikshithar would focus on the activities
at Vazhuththur. Since the Patasala was closed for a month, Yagneswarar
arranged for about ten boys to come and help Panju sastrigal. He made
arrangements for their stay also. He also asked Kundu to assist Panju Sastrigal
and decided to take Lachu with him to Vazhuththur daily morning.
After this routine started and one day at about 8 AM in the morning, Gnanam
was in the backyard washing the clothes and murmuring the slokas to herself.
He could hear the students reciting Vedas and the sound was louder than usual
and she thought more students might have come. Then it was silent as they
had a break. Through the silence she could hear the loud noise Oh he has
fallen, he has fallen and then several voices about someone drowning and
someone jumping in to save him. She was worried as if any one falls down
kaveri which was flowing at maximum level, he would better be a good
swimmer to survive. As she was putting the clothes for drying in the fence at
the back of the house, she found some ladies belonging to the farming
community running towards her. They came shouting Amma, Amma, A boy of
your caste has fallen down in the river and has drowned. Come fast and see
whether you know him. Gnanam ran to the kaveri through the back gate and
found a large crowd on the bank. When she elbowed her way she found in
centre a boy fully drenched with dress dishevelled, his eyes unfocussed, and
vomiting water as the people pressed his stomach. She took no time in
recognising that it was Kondu. She shook him Kondu! Kondu! What
happened? Look at me. In a few minutes, Kondu regained composure and
slowly said "Manni, let us go home. Gnanam asked the people surrounding
him what had happened. One of the persons told Amma, Dont cry. We think
he is your son. It is your good luck he has survived. If one of us has not dragged
him by his tuft he would have been lost in the swirling waters. We do not want
to recall the whole thing now. Go home and take care of your son. Pray to
Mariamma and give Kanji to the poor on a Friday. After that, they left and
resumed their work. Gnanam asked the Veda patasala students about how
Kondu fell down. One of the boys said We had taken some snacks and went
to wash our hands in the pandal itself. Probably, Kondu had come to Kaveri to
wash his hands. It appears that he had slipped and fallen down. It did not
convince Gnanam. She knew that people were trying to conceal something
from her. However, her first priority was to attend to Kondu. She made him
stand and asked him to wear the Dhoti properly. She then supported him fully
and brought him to their house. She changed the clothes to something dry,
made him drink some kanji and asked him to lie down in the inner room.
Kondu was having high fever. In the evening, Dhikshithar and Lachu arrived
and ran inside enquiring about Kondu. They said that Panju sastrigal met them
on the way and told that Kondu had fallen in the river but was saved. Gnanam
asked them to take food and presently not disturb Kondu as he seemed to
have high fever.
As the family retired to bed, Gnanam went inside the room where Kondu was
sleeping. He was murmuring. Mama, leave me alone. Otherwise I will go to
my mother. At that instant, he rolled over and she could see some wounds in
his back. She took a small light and carefully inspected the blood stains and
injuries. It was clear to her that they could have been caused only by someone
beating Kondu with a sharp object. She woke him up. Kondu, tell me the
truth, you did not fall down. What happened and who beat you? demanded
Kondu said I will tell you everything but you must promise me that you would
not tell Anna Gannam agreed. Ok, now tell me.
Kondu related what happened in the morning When I reached the Pandal,
Panju mama was not in good mood. He told me to bring ten pots of water for
the puja and homa. I went and brought water from Kaveri and then sat down
with the boys who were reciting Vedas. Panju sastrigal asked me why I was
sitting there. I said I am also going to recite Veda. Panju mama said, Oh
that is great, so you know some vedham also. Which vedham do you belong
to? I replied Rig vedham. Then he asked me Recite something I know.
I recited
Agni meede purohitham yagnasya devamritvijam hothram
Panju mama said Stop, Is this the way to recite vedam? It is my sin that I have
to listen to your recitation then he turned to the boy sitting next to me,
apparently his favourite student Suppani, now you tell this .
Then Suppani started Agni meezhe..... Kondu added No I am not able to
pronounce. These Thamizh boys twirl their tongues to produce a different
sound somewhat like Rr. Gnanam prompted. OK, OK, and then what
happened?. Kondu said Then, Panju mama told me where I learnt these
things to which I said I learnt from Anna only Then Mama said Anna for
everything, Your mother has kept the correct name for you -Konduyou also
stick like gum to Anna. (Kondhu in Thamizh means gum). I got very angry and
told Suppani His mother has not even kept good name for him. He is called
Panju does he look like he will fly? (Panju in Thamizh means cotton).
Gnanam forgot everything and started laughing. Kondu, you are a dare devil, I
hope he did not hear it. Kondu told, That is where the problem started. He
threatened Suppani and Suppani told the truth. He got very angry. He raised
his hand to slap me but I held his hand. The boys started laughing. This
infuriated him. He went to a nearby tree and plucked one branch. The he
started beating with that on my back. It was paining. No one has ever beaten
me like that. I told him that I was sorry and begged him to stop. He did not
stop. Nothing could stop him. I told him that if he hit me even once I would go
to my mother. He said Are you scaring me? Go, Go to your mother I dont
know what came in my mind. I ran to the river jumped on to the Mandapam
and from there jumped into the river.
Gnanam said Oh my God, you stupid fellow, you dont know swimming and
then she recalled sarvesar warning her about the kandam he had. Kondu said
Ok I should not have jumped but because I jumped I saw my mother whom I
have never seen. I jumped and then everything was dark. Slowly I could see
some lights. There was a door. I opened it and went inside and saw my
mother. She was beautiful in fact more beautiful than you. She was wearing a
red colour saree and in that light her diamond nose ring was dazzling. She
asked me why I came there. I told her that I did not want to be with Panju
mama and I would like to be with her. She admonished me and told that it was
foolish on my part to have done this and now I should go back. I said that
nobody wants me and I would better be with her. She said that it would not be
possible and if I had any problem, I should have gone to Gnanam rather than
coming here. Then she forcibly pushed me out of the door. After that I saw the
light and you were looking at me
Gnanam told him Now that you have told me every thing, you forget
whatever has happened and sleep. She went out and tried to sleep but could
not. She thought about the promise she gave Sarvesar that she would make a
man out of Kondu. She was scared to think what would have happened if that
poor farmer had not pulled him out in the nick of the moment.
It was 5 AM. Yagneswarar got up. He asked Gnanam How is Kondu? Is he not
old enough to take care of himself? Look what he has done? He has gone and
fallen in the river. So irresponsible! Sometimes I feel why I brought him here.
Gnanam said Some mistake has happened. Let us not talk about it. He has got
luck and his father has done lot of good deeds. So he survived. He is still having
fever. But he should be OK in a few hours.
Yagneswarar saw him briefly and having decided not to disturb him, came out
quietly and told Gnanam I think it is OK if he does not go today to the
Parayanam Let him rest fully and go from tomorrow. I will tell Panju sastrigal.
Gnanam collected herself, and with a calmness which comes out of good
breeding and clarity of mind, said Kondu will not go for Parayanam any more.
He will be in house only. Yagneswarar looked at her and with a puzzled
expression in his face said Have you gone mad? If he does not learn things
now, he will be dumb for the rest of his life. Gnanam said it is far better to be
a dumb fellow and speak the truth than be a scholar in the Vedas and speak
lies. Yagneswarar did not comprehend and decided to buy time. He quickly
gathered his things and asked Lachu to get ready for going to vazhuththur.
Soon both left in a cart which was standing ready for them.
Radius 13
My grandmother-A True Yogi
I am going to write about my grandmother here. She has not studied much if
you want to use the word studied as went to a school and spent certain
number of years. But if knowledge is the criterion, then my grandmother
would give everybody a run for their money. She can recite ganam jatai the
two patterns in reciting certain portions of Vedas. (We discussed it before in
the story.) She can recite Shymala Dhandakam exactly like D K Pattammal
whose gramophone record she might have heard once. She would handle
highly complex concepts so effortlessly that it would not be clear to any one
where she studied them. She could quote many things from Sivananda Lahari
to prove a point. She would typically drop these quotes and sit quiet as if
someone else had spoken. Few people understood her. Many thought her as
child like. Some thought that she was too naive to be reckoned in discussions.
When she found some talent in others she would encourage it. She would
often give time for listening to some song which a child has mastered and not
display her own knowledge about it as that would discourage the child. She
used to finish my Thamizh text books in July itself (classes start in June and
books arrive a week later). then she would tell me Sekar, Read the third essay
in your book. Ki. Va. Jagannathan has written very well. She used to read with
keenness Arivukkanale Arutpunale a serial which used to appear in Kalki
about Ramkarishna and Swami Vivekananda. She made a lot of efforts to teach
me Samskrutham. I did not get beyond Ajaha thishtathi. (The goat is
standing). She was orthodox in certain things but was very flexible in many
other things. I recall number of occasions in which she had never scolded me
for having touched her after she had taken bath. This act would have invited
from many Brahmin ladies about how they have been polluted by the brat.
She had no hesitation in discussing intimate family matters with the Muslim
ladies who would come up to the interior of the house as their men folk were
consulting my grandfather on certain property issues. She had her own sense
of humour and could convert some of her drawbacks into jokes. In short, I do
not think I would ever see a person who was wise, considerate and kind to all.
Sometimes I wonder whether I lived with a sthitha pragna but was too
familiar with her to recognise it.
Whirl 13
The arrival of Jagatrakshka
Yagneswarar and Lachu boarded the cart and within a few minutes they saw
Panju sastrigal running towards the cart shouting Dhikashitharval, please stop
the cart. I have something very urgent to tell you. Dhikshithar noticed that he
had not taken bath and looked disturbed mentally. He even looked as if he had
aged suddenly. The cart was stopped and Dhikshithar asked Sastrigal the
reason for his weird behaviour and countenance. Sastrigal held Dhikshithars
hands and said, Dhikshitharval, I am a liar. I told a lie to you. That boy did not
fall down in the river. I wanted to punish him for his impertinence. I lost my
temper and beat him severely with a stick. He was writhing with pain and
suddenly ran towards the river and jumped. In order to escape the blame, I
told the patasala boys that nothing should be known outside our circle.
Yagneswarar got down and tried to pacify the Sastrigal. What! You told a lie?
It sounds unlikely to me. Sastirigal said amidst tears Dhikshithaval, I am a
very egoistic person. I can never take any criticism. I thought I would escape by
telling a lie. But I have forgotten that God sees everything. The moment I went
home for lunch, my wife told me Good. Well done. So you try to kill a
motherless boy there but remember to come in time for lunch. Very good of
you I told her not to blabber something without knowing the facts. She said
something which threw me out of my wits. She told that the whole village
knew what happened and the servant maid had told her the entire thing. I told
her not to bother me and somehow spent the rest of the day without talking to
her or facing the servant maid. I took dinner and went to sleep. But where is
the question of sleeping? If I close my eyes, a lady with dazzling nose ring and
wearing a red saree comes before me and with her burning eyes asks me why
did you do this to Kondu? I somehow spent the night with fear and early
morning I open the backyard door and what do I see? A snake. Yes, a big snake
with its hood directed at me. It says Come on, Come on , I am waiting for you. I
got terrified and ran inside the house. My wife told First you go and fall at the
feet of the boy and come. Otherwise our family is going to get destroyed or
you are bound to go mad. Dhikshitharval, whatever punishment you will give,
I will take it. But I am not going back home now. Dhikshithar thought for a
moment and said, Sastrigal, You are a well educated scholar. I have nothing to
tell you. But, I suggest you should not go and meet Kondu now. It may
aggravate the situation than assuage the feelings. Go to the
Panchanadeeswarar temple, take bath in the tank and pray in his sannidhi
asking for forgiveness the whole day. Come home tomorrow. We can talk.
Sastrigal almost fell at Dhikshithars feet. Dhikshitharval, you are not an
ordinary human being. You are Lord Parameswara himself. I have beaten the
boy who lives with you so badly that he tried to drown himself and you are
giving me a solution to feel better? I do not know how to appreciate you, sir.
You are by age much younger to me. But, I am now standing feeling so
insignificantly small in front of you. I feel my ten years of adhyayanam has not
made me a man but your one moment of forgiveness has made me a man.
Now, my ego is gone. My arrogance has left me. I am going to make a new
beginning and I am going to ask Parameswara to forgive this sinner. Will He do
it Dhikshitharval? Dhikshithar only smiled and said Sastrigal, You are yourself
an Acharya. Do not lose heart. As I told, go to the temple now. Come
tomorrow when you are calm Then he got into the cart and the cart sped
away. Lachu was astonished. He expected his father to be harsh to the sastrigal
and give him a sound thrashing as he had almost killed a member of the family.
But Dhikshithar was offering amnesty to Sastrigal. Looking at Lachus face
Dhikshithar said, Lachu, I know what you are thinking. Did you see him? He is
in dire straits now. He looks like a ghost of his usual self. Gone is his
flamboyant style of talking and flippant references about others. Probably God
has already punished him. His own wife has rebuked him. His servant maid is
full of hatred for him. The whole village is waiting to insult him. Now, we
should also not break him or whatever remains of him. Let him pull himself out
of the guilt. We know he is not such a bad person. His ego has misled him. I am
sure he will turn out to be one of our best friends in Tanjore. How prophetic
Dhikshithar was. Panju sastrigal was one of the most loyal friends of
Dhikshithar as we will see in the story later.
It was 9 AM in Dhikshithars house. Kondu was sitting depressed as he had
overheard the conversation between Gnanam and Dhikshithar. Manni, do you
think I will become somebody in life? Gnanam said Of course, why do you
think otherwise? Kondu said No, According to Sastrigal I am a dumb fellow.
Now according to Anna also, I will become a dumb fellow. I feel I have become
a liability. Gnanam You can utilise the time you are spending thinking such
useless thoughts by learning some slokas at least. Gnanam was cutting
vegetables and Kondu was sitting some ten feet away. She said, Now I will tell
you the first sloka from Soundaryalahari- a book of hundred slokas on
Parasakthi. Just try to tell after me. She told the sloka.
Siva sakthaya yuktho.....
Kondu said manni, can you tell a bit slower? Gnanam nodded and told each
line a bit slower. The moment she finished, Kondu asked her permission to
repeat it and he repeated it verbatim. Gnanam thought that probably he had
heard this earlier because she used to tell this sloka every day. She tried a sloka
from Sivanananda lahari-written by Adhi Sankara and she told slowly
Kadha va kailase .....
Kondu took just a minute and repeated the slokam. Gnanam got puzzled. She
could not comprehend how Kondu was able to almost play it back within a few
minutes without flaw. She realised that she had just seen the flicker of a genius
which others have so far not noticed. She did not appreciate or express any
surprise but told him to bring the Soundaryalahari book from the cupboard.
She told him Kondu, you know Nagara lipi (Samskrutha letters). Now you read
the 100 slokas and I would like you to repeat the hundred from memory by the
time I finish cooking. She told this as a matter of fact and Kondu took it as a
routine instruction. He went and sat in the pial and started reading. Gnanam
finished her work and called him for lunch. He did not come. He came to her
towards evening. He did not remember that he had no lunch. He asked
Gnanam to test him now. He can tell any slokam from memory. Gnanam
routinely asked OK, tell me the sloka starting Avidhyanam....... Kondu
started and Gnanam stopped him. I want you to tell the meaning also. She
was knowingly making the task tougher to see his limit. Kondu said that he did
not bother to find the meaning. Gnanam told him that mere recitation would
not do. One should know the meaning to appreciate the poem. Then she asked
him to get the Amaram-which is the Samskrutha Dictionary and told him that
daily he would understand ten slokas by making his own efforts.
Kondu got immersed in soundaryalahari. Next day, Panju sastrigal came and
spoke very affectionately to him. He brought Thirattuppal and forced him to
eat. The boys from patasala came and expressed regret for whatever
happened. He did not pay attention. In fact, he had forgotten the episode
totally. Except for the barest necessities, his time revolved around the slokas
and their meaning. Suddenly, he would barge in the kitchen and ask Gnanam
Manni, I think Sankara Bhagavad padha is very partial to Siva. Gnanam
would ask Why do you say that? Kondu would say Look, at one point he
says all the three Hari, Hara, and Brahma pray to Goddess but when it comes
to describing that Goddess he says it is Siva shakthi. That means now he is
adding Siva to Shakthi. Gnanam said Kondu, Think like this. It could be
sometimes wrong. It does not matter. Thinking itself will bring out the ability in
Yagneswarar was busy going about his work in vazhuththur. Sastrigal also
shifted his base to vazhuththur but did not forget to call upon Kondu every
week and give him something or other. He thought that the boy got terrified of
him and so stopped coming to the Parayanam.
Kondu finished all books at home and went to the neighbour asking for books.
He introduced him to a Pundit by name Hasthamalaka. Hasthamalaka, himself
a poet spoke to Kondu and told him to write something and come to him.
Kondu came and complained to Gnanam Uncle is not teaching me. He just
says stop reading and start writing something. Gnanam understood that the
man had spotted Kondus hidden talent. She did not show her happiness but
only told Kondu Do whatever he says.. Kondu said What should I write?
Gnanam told him Go to the river. See the sunset. See the birds. Feel as if you
are one of them. Words will come to you Kondu went to Kaveri and sat on the
branch of a tree. He went to the temple and looked at the lamps flickering in
the wind. Then he would write something in a palm leaf and take it to
Hasthmalaka. Usually, Hasthamala would say Not enough. Work harder.
Words have to ring in my ears or something like that. Kondu would return
home and cry hoarse about his lack of competence in writing poetry.
Avani came (August). All the homas and other rituals were getting close to
completion. Raja was scheduled to come in a few days and be present for the
final celebrations. Dhikshithar was happy that things went on as planned and
every one appreciated Dhikshithar for his single minded devotion to whateve
he had undertaken. They said that they would request the King to retain
Dhikshithar in Tanjore as the official Purohithar to the King.
Dhikshithar thanked everyone but ruled out his staying in Tanjore any longer.
He told every one that he had come for a mission and it got completed. Now
he would go back to Chetlur where his brother and his house awaited him.
Dhikshithar returned a bit early that day and told Gnanam, Gnanam, Finally I
have completed everything. How many warnings and how many threats and
obstacles? But somehow, everybody is happy now. Once Raja comes and takes
a final review, I think we could start on our return journey.
Gnanam was telling him that they should spend a week and visit all temples
here and then go to chetlur as they might not get an opportunity to come
again. They were talking many things about the farewell visits and slept late.
Suddenly, Dhikshithar woke up. The entire room was lit. Mahavishnu with
Bhuma Devi and Sri Devi and on the Garuda was there in the room with a
radiance which would defeat the brightness of sun. He was asking Dhikshithar
Yagneswara, I never thought that you would forget me. Dhikshithar said
swami! How is it possible that we can forget you? Why are you hurting me
like this? Lord told We are all submerged in sand little away from the place
where you are performing the yagas. I thought you would come and take us
out. But, now it seems that you are only interested in returning to Chetlur.
Dhikshithar said to Lord Swami, honestly, I did not have an inkling that you
are somewhere near vazhuththur. Now, I will come but how will I know the
Lord said Yagneswara, my son, tomorrow go to kollidam and walk on the sand
mounds. I will send Garuda to indicate the spot. If you dig there I will be there.
After Ambarisha maharaja worshipped, we are only there beneath the sands. It
is becoming quite uncomfortable now. Dhikshithar got up startled. Gnanam,
wake up. I have to go. Gnanam was visibly disturbed What are you talking? It
is just around 3 AM. Where do you want to go? Dhikshithar told her the dream
he had. Infact he did not mention it as dream as for him it was real.
At the first sign of day break, Dhikshithar called for the cart and drove straight
to the palace. He directly went to the Chief Minister Madhva Rayar and related
to him his dream or his experience. A surprise was waiting for him. Madhva
Rayar had identical dream that night and he decided to send a group of men
with all equipment with Dhikshithar to Kollidam.
Dhikshithar and his team reached Kollidam river near Vazhuththur by 10 AM.
The sun was already near the top and the heat was unbearable. Dhikshithar
started walking on bare foot. Soon, the news spread about the dream which he
had and thousands of people started walking with him.
Yagneswarar asked the people to say aloud the names of the Lord Mahavishnu
and the crowd repeated Govinda ! Madhava ! Kesava ! after him. it was
twelve noon. Everyone was getting fatigued. Yagneswarar asked the people
not to lose heart. Perumal had promised and He would show a way. In ten
minutes, a Garuda came exactly to the area where he was standing, flew low
and then circled a mound just a short distance away. Everybody rushed to the
spot. Soldiers cordoned off the area and started digging. In an hour, statues
were found. First Perumal statue was taken out. Then statues of Devis were
taken out. People were dancing with joy. Madhva Rayar ordered the statues to
be first taken to the Palace and said that the King will decide about further
action. Accordingly, the statues were taken to Tanjore in procession. King
started his consultation with scholars on the procedure to be adopted for
installing the statues. Kumbakonam Srimath Andavan swamigal came and said
that the perumal statue was appearing as withdrawing the chakram not
launching it. As per the dream which Yagneswarar had, Perumal had told him
that he was worshipped by King Ambarisha. As per the story, Perumal had
launched his chakram to save Ambarisha from Durvasa Maharishi and also got
it back. Since he is in the pose of getting back the weapon, he should be called
jagat rakshaka Perumal and we should build a temple for Him.
King decided to build a new temple for Jagatrakshka perumal near the
yagasalai at vazhuththur and consecrate the entire campus by Deepavali. He
also decided that the entire discovery of the idols is because of the devotion of
Dhikshithar and hence the King wanted Dhikshithar to stay till the activities of
building the core part of the temple are completed. King was of the view that
the entire activities should be speeded up and he would like to have a function
during Dasara where in a part of the temple which consisted of Moolasthanam
would be open to public. Madhva Rayar would personally over see the
progress every day. Dhikshithars stay thus got extended by another two

Radius 14
Harikrishnan, an unforgettable client
My grandfather had many clients. Each one is of a different type. Harikrishnan
is probably the most unforgettable client among all of them. Harikrishnan lived
in nearby Balu Setty Street. He was poor and often came with unshaven beard
and unkempt hair. He would come dressed in a Dhoti and a towel above. On
days when his case had been scheduled for hearing, he would come at 8 AM
and sit in front of my grandfather. He would not speak anything. If my
grandfather instructs him something, he would do that and on his own, he
would never talk. At the end, he would perform a complete sashtanga
namaskaram and receive Vibhuthi prasadham. He would then leave. Neither
my grandfather would ask for fees nor would he give fees. The clerks in my
grandfathers office never liked him. They would make fun of him. What
Harikrishnan, today also only namaskaram is it? At this rate we will not get
Harikrishnans case came to final stage. One day judgement was due to be
announced. My grandfather was walking up and down impatiently. Then at
about 6 PM he went to perform sandhyavandhana. At that time, one of the
clerks came running and from the door announced Vakil sir, Harikrishnan
decreed with cost which meant that he had won. My grandfather felt very
happy that day. However, I could not follow why he was happy when the client
did not pay him at all? The reason is my grandfather knew that the judgement
was fair and Harikrishnan won what was due to him. That court judgement
changed the life of one Harikrishnan. Three hundred years back, there was no
court. King was there. We are going to see how a decision by the King made a
person raise from rags to riches.

Whirl 14
Enter Gnambikadasar
The idols of Mahavishnu and Devis were taken to Vazhuththur and were
installed in a temporary shed called Balalayam. People who thought that the
entire area is going to be vacated and is going to look empty after so many
activities now felt happy that the area is going to house the temple for
Perumal. Yagneswarar felt especially happy because he told in Chetlur that the
harm done to ladies was the harm done to Bhuma Devi and unless she forgives
there is no salvation. Now, perumal with Bhuma Devi and Sridevi was giving His
darsan to all. This in a way, he thought would mean the bad days are over.
There was activity round the clock as Raja has told that on Vijaya dasami day
he would like to inaugurate the Moolasthanam.
Dhikshithar wrote a detailed letter to his brother about the success of his
mission and that he would return to chetlur after Deepavali. He also requested
the King to send a message underlining the need for him to stay back. Ahobila
Matha swamigal came and he announced that the Jagatrakshaka Perumal
would remove all marital problems and so married couple who have difficulties
in their married life should visit the temple. Rayasam was happy that the
problem he related during his visit to Chetlur also got resolved.
One person was absolutely not touched by what was going on. That was
Kondu. He hardly spoke to anyone. Most of the time, he was either in
discussion with Hasthamalaka or walking along the river or in the lush green
fields or the coconut plantations. Yagneswarar thought that he had already
become dumb as predicted. He was not disappointed with Kondu but was
disappointed on not getting any reply for his meesage from Nanu anna.
Kondu begged Hasthamalaka and got the book Raghuvamsam written by
Kalidasa. The moment he started reading, he could not believe someone could
write like this. In fact, he expressed his doubt to Gnanam whether such a
human being lived at all. Another day, he came running reading aloud the sloka
in 6
chapter describing the swayamvara of Indhumathi. Gnanam asked him
What is special about it? Kondu said Indhumathi goes around with the
garland. When she crosses each King at the swayamvaram, the face of the King
brightens as he thinks he is going to be garlanded. But she moves and the
Kings face becomes dark. Here, Kalidasa gives a simple but a beautiful
example. A man goes carrying a light in the dark night. As he crosses a house,
the house is seen brightly and as he moves further, the same house appears
dark. Gnanam said You must read what Kalidasa says about lamps in other
slokas. For example, go to 9
chapter. Dasaratha has become old. Kalidasa
describes Dasarathas predicament as predeeparchirivoshasi.... Dasaratha
was like a lamp in the morning he says. Lamp is almost extinguished in the
morning time as it was giving light and consuming oil throughout the night.
Dasaratha spent his life in enjoying material comforts and is looking weak now.
If you put oil in the lamp, it will still burn. Kalidasa indirectly says Dasaratha has
not given up life. He only lacks the energy. Kalidasa can tell some of these
things so subtly that you need to read many times to understand what he is
hinting at.
Kodu asked, Manni, Did you learn all these before marriage or after
marriage? Gnanam said I learnt everything from my father before marriage
and that too only by listening to the way my father used to teach others.
Kondu said Manni, if you learnt so much only by casually listening to what was
taught to other students, you would have become a poet like Hasthamalaka if
you had really learnt seriously.
Gnanam said, If I start writing poetry, who will feed all of you daily?. Kondu
could detect a shade of sorrow in her face as she replied. There have been and
are thousands of Gnanams who have been crushed under the chariots called
families and have been forced to give up their interests and talents. Somehow,
men have been able to rule over them dismissing their desires under the
pretext of customs and traditions. They have been shrewd to live with their
liberities intact and be not touched by the restrictions they imposed so freely
on women.
Yagneswarar introduced a concept of sumangali Prarthanai. He introduced this
custom by which all sumangalis who died in the Naykkars household in the
unfortunate incident and the Queens who did Sati including any of the elders
in the families would be remembered in every house hold before performing
any auspicious function. Though some scholars felt such rites were not as per
the vedic canons, they agreed that such functions helped people to return to
There was announcement from the Palace that On Dasara day in the presence
of the King, there would be a function where in the poets who compose and
present good poems would be honoured. The function was kept early in the
morning to enable the King to return to Tanjore for the shobha Yatra. In the
entire Navarathri, Dhikshithar might have gone home only for a couple of days.
He spent all the remaining days only in the new temple. He did not even come
for saraswathi Puja and Gnanam had to celebrate the festival with children. On
Vijaya dasami day, as advised by Hastamalaka, Kondu left in the early morning
to Vazhuththur to witness the conference of the poets there.
On the Dasara day, the function started in the early morning. The King
worshipped in the newly built Moolasthanam. Then the function started in the
grand platform specially built. The King presented Yagneswarar with lot of
gifts. He also presented gold coins to all scholars and workmen for completing
the basic structure in the temple. Then the presentations by poets started. The
Poet of the Court, Vedhakavi was presiding over the meeting and he called
upon the poets one by one to come recite their poems and receive the
honours from the King. Poets who were already assembled in the area walked
up to the podium and recited their poems. As the presentations went on,
Vedhakavi announced that the King would leave in a few minutes and asked if
any one who had come to see the function would like to present a poem
befitting the occasion. At that time, people found a young boy rushing from
behind and going to Vedhakavi announcing his intention of reciting a poem.
Poets assembled there could not recognise him. He did not look like a local lad.
Yagneswarar casually looked at him and recognised that it was Kondu. He felt
uncomfortable that Kondu would get into some problem by his mischievous
way of talking. He tried to wave to him and ask him to go back but it was too
late. Vedhakavi had already accepted his request and asked him I have not
met you. What is your name? Kondu replied My name is Gnanambikadasan
and I am from Chetlur. Yagneswarar was feeling very tense. Vedhakavi asked
him to recite his poem. Kondu told the poem in samskrutham. (English
meaning is given below)
As Lord Mahavishnu got pleased by the Yagnas done here came down to bless
the people with his consorts, Garuda hesitated to come down from the sky as
he saw Saraba- which is the foe of Vishnu in previous avathar standing with
hands folded, but Mahalakshmi patted Garuda with affection and clarified to
him that this saraba is our Bhaktha and so you need not worry. Let that
Mahalakshmi Matha save us from all troubles.
All who were assembled in the pandal clapped their hands and appreciated the
poem. Yagneswarar could not believe his ears. Vedhakavi commended the
poem and remarked that the poet was very creative in punning with the Kings
name. Further he said Young man, you seem to be well read. Who is your
Guru? Kundu replied in a poem
Kali wrote Om on Kailass tongue with her trident to make him a poet.
But, my mother Gnanambikai wrote on my tongue with rice kanji as she
thought that trident would hurt me.
On hearing this instant retort and the reply in poetry, the crowd went ecstatic.
People shouted He is Varakavi. He is a genius and it took some time for
Vedhakavi to bring order to the meeting. Yagneswarar could not even go near
Kondu as he was surrounded by so many people. Finally, Vedhakavi announced
that the young man Gnanambikadasar is being given the title Varakavi and
concluded the meeting. The King presented the gift to Kondu and told him to
come to Tanjore with his entourage to participate in the shobha yatra. He told
vedha Kavi to brief Kondu on the work Vidhya parinayam so that he could be
of assistance. As the King was leaving, the crowd became restive and
Yagneswarar could not move from his area to even see Kondu. Meanwhile
Vedhakavi asked Kondu to get in the cart as they were leaving for Tanjore.
Kondu protested saying that he had not informed any one at home. Then he
told that he was staying with yagneswarar and he had to go home and inform
them about his visit to Tanjore. Vedhakavi agreed for a stopover at
Thiruvaiyaru to inform his people at home and pick up some clothes as he
might have to stay in Tanjore for a few days.
When the cart stopped in front of the house, Kondu ran inside calling Manni,
Manni so many times. Finally he found her near the well in the backyard. He
dragged her to the hall asked her to stand with hands held in front. Then he
put the entire gift packet in her hand and fell at her feet. Gnanam asked him
Kondu, what is all this for?
Kondu related the entire incident. He said that he actually did not plan to
recite any poem but as he found the poems were any way not of great quality,
he got bolder and went to the stage. He told that the entire gift belongs to her
as she was his teacher. Vedhakavi entered the hall and reminded them I think
we need to move. Can you hurry up? Gnanam noticed Vedhakavi and
apologised for not having asked him to come in. Vedhakavi told her that he
would not mind but he had no time the King having instructed to bring
Gnaambikadasar for the shobha yatra.
Gnanam said This boys name is Kondu not some other name which you told.
Vedha kavi told her He told that his name is Gnanambikadasar. Kondu spoke
with a voice filled with emotion. Manni, you have made this boy who was
good for nothing a poet. Whatever I write now, I will only write under the
name Gnanambikadasa as that is the only way in which I can repay you.
Gnanam lost her voice and was standing dumbfounded. Kondu took his clothes
and told her that he would be going to Tanjore. Vedhakavi told her that he
would send the boy after two days. The cart left. But she could not see or hear
anything. She was just standing there with tears rolling down her eyes thanking
the God for transforming Kondu in a moment in to a celebrity.
In the Pandal, Yagneswarar was quite disappointed that he could not even
meet Kondu. He waited near the cart but Kondu did not come there.
Meanwhile, Panju Sastrigal came and told him that he saw vedhakavi picking
up Kondu in his cart and it appeared that they were going straight to Tanjore.
Yagneswarar was quite annoyed that Kondu did not even inform him and
boarded his cart to come home. He entered the house and enquired with
Gnanam whether she knew that Kondu got the honour in the temple. Gnanam
told him Yes. He came an hour back and picked up some clothes and left with
vedha kavi. He said that he might stay in Tanjore for a couple of days
Yagneswarar said, what an irresponsible fellow! Should he at least not tell me
and go?Gnanam stopped him abruptly. I think we should realise that Kondu
is no more the Kondu we know. He is now the poet honoured by the King. His
life has just started after all the insults he received. Let us not stand in his way.
Let us rejoice this moment in the birth of a star and in the launch of his career
as a Poet in the Royal court. Now, he is free to make choices and we have to
respect the choices he makes. Yagneswarar was speechless.
Radius 15
My grandfather knew astrology. He knew astrology quite well. He had books
which he used to refer and some of the books were full of poems and symbols
which would make an average mans brain numb. But, he never used the
typical jargon of the astrologers. He never proclaimed how Venus was creating
problem or Mars is not in his own house. He never joined issues with people of
one method or the other. He simply answered the questions with It may
happen or it may not happen and left at that. Once, one APP Iyer dropped
in our house at about 10 PM and brought two horoscopes one his daughters
and the other a boys. He told my grandfather that the marriage is almost
settled but still he wanted my grandfathers view. My grandfather looked at
both intently for a few minutes and said It does not appear to me that these
two are going to marry. APP laughed and said "Sarma, Thanks. But we have
almost agreed and only formalities remain.
After a few days, he came with the news that the alliance did not work out.
After some time the girl got married to another boy, whose horoscope also
was cleared by my grandfather.
I do not know whether he saw his own horoscope for any indication. But, he
often used to quote a poem as the guiding principle in his life.
Anayasa maranam
vina dhainyena jivanam
A death which does not wear out any one and
a life in which you do not have to beg any one for anything
I think in his case, he achieved both.

Whirl 15
Varakavi blazes a trail
In two days, Kondu or Varakavi as he was known now returned from Tanjore
and brought a lot of sweets and dresses for children. Gnanam told him to go to
Hastamalaka and fall at his feet as he was the person who moulded Kondu. He
went and presented Hasthmalaka with a Dhoti. He presented him with a book.
When he came back, all were curious to know what happened in Tanjore. He
described the Shobha yatra as a grand procession in which he also walked
along with other poets through the streets of Tanjore. Next day, Vedhkavi told
him about his current assignment. He is writing a book called Vidhya
Parinayam. He wants to finish to by Shankaranthi. He told me to help him in
getting the references from books written in Telugu and Samskrutham. There
are quite lot of books and old manuscripts in the palace and he told me that I
would spend most of my time there and update him with references for the
subjects he would give from time to time. He has arranged for my stay in the
Library so that I need not travel. Yagneswarar was very happy that the people
in the palace are treating with affection and care. Kondu said But Anna, I am
totally confused. Vedhakavi mama says that the work will take up to
Sankaranthi. If you go to Chetlur next month, what will I do here? I am in two
minds Yagneswarar remembered what Gnanam told him and asked Kondu
not to worry about travelling with them. You are now a part of the group of
Poets in the Palace. It would be silly if you go and tell them that I need to go
with Anna and Manni. Be firm and work with dedication. You can come to
Chetlur later. Kondu packed all his things and went to Tanjore. For two days,
things were not as usual. Every one missed him. Having completed his mission,
Yagneswarar decided to go to the palace and request King to relive him of all
responsibilities and arrange to send them back to Chetlur. With temple work
having been passed on to the regular people in the town, he was now feeling
the time heavy on his hands. As he was wondering what must be happening in
Chetlur, he got a message from his brother. The message stated,We are fine.
You may take your own time for returning to Chetlur. Do not be in a hurry.
Yagneswarar wondered how untypical of Nanu anna to send such a message.
He expected something like Come immediately for Deepavali.
Next day, the rain started. The rains were heavy and continued for three days.
There was flooding everywhere. Even in yagneswarars house the Kaveri water
came up to the backyard. Excess water from Kaveri was diverted in Kollidam
from Grand Anicut but that only resulted in flooding of those areas also. One
could not step out and nothing was available as carts did not ply about. After a
week, when sun came up, Yagneswarar decided to go to the palace and meet
the King. The King had gone to inspect the flood affected areas. Rayasam was
busy in distributing rice bags to the poor and needy people who lost everything
in the floods. He went to Library and found Kondu sitting behind a pile of
manuscripts. He seemed quite absorbed in what he was doing. He explained
the plot of the Samskrutha Drama Vidhya Parinayam. It was a drama about
how the soul portrayed as a girl by name Vidhya is in search of Ishwara but on
the way meets various obstacles dressed up as suitors. She overcomes each
obstacle with a different strategy every time and finally attains Ishwara and
marries Him. Kondu said that Vedhakavi was taking keen interest to portray
each obstacle for example anger and the strategy to overcome anger for
example silence correctly and so lot of research was required. He said that he
sometimes used to carry palm leaves to Vedhakavis house and if it got late
sleep there.
Yagneswarar was very proud of him. He said Kondu, You speak like a scholar
now. How much you have learnt? How did you manage to learn so much?
kondu said, I have no plan. I go to Ambal and tell her to help me. She is so
merciful that the last time when I showed the draft for one act of the drama,
Vedhakavi mama had hardly done any correction. Yagneswarar left with the
satisfaction of seeing Kondu though he was disappointed with his inability to
meet any one in Royal Court. Deepavali came. It did not generate much
enthusiasm due to havoc played by the floods. Kondu brought dresses out of
his salary which seemed quite handsome. Children were very happy with all
the things that Kondu brought and they displayed the dresses with pride to
After Kondu returned, Yagneswarar again made an attempt to meet the King.
Now he was successful. King received yagneswarar in Devi Hall which was the
new name for the renovated portion of the Palace. He said the he came to
know about his visit and his desire to return. He had collected information and
said The entire region has been thrown into disarray due to the cyclone and
the rains. There are no tracks for carts to go on both the sides of Kollidam as
per the reports I receive. If we take the coastal route, it has become unsafe as
Devsingh and Nawab are fighting with each other daily. Meanwhile the French
have landed in Pondicherry and they are trying to intercept near Chidambaram
to capture Chennai. So the situation is not encouraging for travel to Chetlur
Yagneswarar was visibly upset. He said The king should not mistake me. If I
stay here after my work is over, people will talk many things. So Raja should
send us back as soon as possible. Raja Saraboji smiled and replied to him.
Dhikshitharval, Everyoneknows about your sincerity and dedication. So, there
is no question of any one speaking ill of you. Relax till Thai month. We are
negotiating a cease fire around harvest season for harvesting labour to move
and transport the grains with Nawab and the French. If things go well, I would
ensure that after Pongal you should be able to start from here through
whichever route depending on the safety.
Yagneswarar requested Raja to send the message to his brother about the
change in his plans. The King agreed and the meeting got over. When
Yagneswarar was about to leave, Raja Saraboji had a word of praise for Kondu.
He said I wanted to tell you that your brother Varakavi is a very valuable asset
and I am happy we found him in the temple function though you have never
mentioned about his prowess in literature earlier. I myself write poems but the
way he captures ideas is something very different. Now, in Thai we are going to
have the first show of the dance drama Vidhya Parinayam which is entirely
due to his hard work After thanking the King for his love towards Kondu,
Yagneswarar returned to his house and informed everyone that the King had
told that they could go in Thai (just two months from Deepavali).
Panju Sastrigal landed next day at his house. Dhikshitharval, It appears you
are planning to leave in two months. It is their plan, I tell you. Yagneswarar
could not follow Plan? What plan, I only requested the King to arrange for our
return. Panju sastrigal said That is how they want it to be. I am telling you,
Dhikshitharval, you do not understand the foxes of the palace. On the day of
Dasara, you were supposed to accompany the King in Shobha yatra. Had you
gone in Shobha Yatra, you would have been appointed as the palace official
and would have got a post here and a salary and probably a house. But the
cunning foxes smelt that they are losing the game. They went to Madhva Rayar
and told him that they would not tolerate a non-Marathi pandit to receive any
honour on Dasara day. They got the support of the Queen Mother and that is
how you got edged out. They have already asked Ganaptigal to stop doing Puja
in the palace and someone from Poona has come now in his place.
Yagneswarar said in a calm tone Panju anna, I do not understand why you are
getting angry. This is their country. I do not belong here. I was asked to come
for a work which I completed. I have been honoured for the work. Now, it is
their prerogative what to do or whom to appoint Panju sastrigal said
Dhikshitharval, You have a golden heart. Wherever you are, you are going to
be honoured. But now that it is decided that you are going to leave us in Thai
month, I request you to come to Kumbakonam and stay with us for a few days
and then plan for your departure. Yagneswarar agreed readily as Gnanam had
told him that they should visit some temples there and probably buy some
sarees and brass vessels too. Thanks to the hard work of Kondu the dance
drama Vidhya Parinayam got ready and it was supposed to be performed on
the last Friday of Karthigai in the Anandhavalli temple at Tanjore. Yagneswarar
got the invitation for the dance drama from Vedhakavi and he had sent a
message that Yagneswarar should come to Tanjore in the morning itself and
have lunch in his house. Accordingly, Yagneswarar with his entire family went
to Vedhakavis house in the early morning. Vedhakavis house was fit enough
to be called as the house of a noble. It had beautiful garden around and several
trees. He introduced his family that is his wife and daughter Vaidehi. Vaidehi
could have been 12 and looked very beautiful in a green silk skirt and yellow
blouse. Come, Vaidehi, Do namaskaram to Uncle and auntsaid his wife.
Gnanam asked Very smart girl. Do you sing, my child?
Vaidehi sat down and sang a song composed by Muthuthandavar a poet who
composed Thamizh songs mostly on Lord Nataraja. Gnanam noticed that
Kondus eyes seemed transfixed on her as she sang with a mellifluous voice.
Soon, lunch was served and Vaidehi and her mother doted on Kondu and
pampered with one dish or other. Gnanam told Vaidehis mother, Mami, I am
really happy to see that you are taking so much care of my brother.I am sure
he does not miss us. After lunch, as others went about looking at various
scenic spots nearby, Gnanam and Vedhakavis wife had some time to speak
alone. Vedhakavis wife shared with Gnanam her worry about Vaidehis
future. She is very talented. Be it dance, or kolam, or singing she is very good.
Now, I am only worried if she gets into a house where these things are not
nurtured, she would become a recluse. Gnanam said why do you worry,
Mami, surely she will get a good husband and good in-laws. Vedhakavis wife
still looked worried, No, Mami, you do not know these Tanjore people. We
are from Madurai and came here as he got a post in the Durbar. Here the men
will like dance, singing and they are experts in every subject. But, that is strictly
outside the house. Once they come inside, they will act as tyrants. If wife even
hums a raga, the husband will fly into a rage and say hey!! You!! Act like a
family housewife. This is not that type of house where a woman can sing and
dance. The men folk here seem to have got some superiority complex. That is
what I am afraid of. Gnanam said Some may be like that. I am sure, Mami,
there are many good people here who will encourage a girl like Vaidehi in her
skills. Then, Vedhakavis wife said sometimes I think of marrying her to your
brother Varakavi. He is a very good person and I have observed him for the last
two months. Gnanam understood the direction in which the conversation was
going and said Mami, he is not my own brother. In fact, we are not even
distantly related. I think you should send a message to his father who is at
Chetlur and then propose the alliance to him. We are not the right people to
take decision. Vedhakavis wife still was not willing to leave Gnanam. Yes, I
know his father should agree. But, varakavi has so much respect for you and if
you put in a word then this will happen and my daughter will get a husband
who supports her in her capabilities. By that time, all returned after a visit to
Anandavalli temple which incidentally was the oldest temple dedicated to the
Goddess who destroyed the asura called Thanjan. The story goes that after he
was felled in the battle, he requested the Goddess for a boon that the place
where he fell should be called in his name. That is how the place was named
In the evening, the ground where the play was to be enacted was full with
eager audience. The Dhikshithar family was seated in the row behind the Royal
family and ministers. The play started. The drama was gripping with the girl
Vidhya going through each obstacle. Every one played his part well. The
audience though not fully conversant with samskrutham enjoyed the drama
and the performance of all the actors. In the final act, when Vidhya was united
with Ishwara having overcome six obstacles with six different strategies there
was thunderous applause.
Raja gave the gifts and told Vedhakavi that next year he should stage Shivaji
Charithram based on the life and times of Chathrapathi Shivaraje. As soon as
he left, Yagneswarar embraced Kondu and told him that he was so proud of
him that he could now declare that Kondu is an accomplished poet. After
speaking to all actors and appreciating their work, he took leave of vedhakavi
and his family and got into the cart. In the last minute, Kondu ran towards
Gnanam and said that he wanted to speak something in private. Gnanam got
down and both Kondu and Gnanam went a little away from the earshot of
Vedhakavi and others. With great caution Kondu asked How is she? Gnanam
purposely told Oh, you are asking about the cook,I think she is a very nice
lady Kondu said No, Manni I am asking about her here he pressed the word
her. Gnanam said Oh you are referring to Vaidehi! Look, Kondu, we are
guests here. We cannot comment on the hosts daughter. It is not good.
Kondu now came straight to the point I am asking how you found her singing,
speaking etc? You do not seem to get the point. Gnanam said My dear poet
sir, I got the point clearly when you were looking at her as if your eye balls
would drop down when she was singing and so there is no need for you to go
around the topic. I will tell clearly. I like Vaidehi. I think she will make a good
wife for you. But, I cannot decide. Your father has to come. He has to agree.
Ask vedhakavi mama to invite your father over here as you cannot go there
now with all the work you have and then they will take a decision. Kondu
summed up before leaving them Manni, I will manage my father. I will ask
Vedhakavi mama to send message tomorrow itself. I was only worried about
your approval. I thought you may reject her as she sang a Thamizh song. Poor
girl, Manni, she does not know samskrutham. Gnanam looked at him with the
mouth open in astonishment and said My God! Is it our Kondu or some one
else? How much a person can change when his heart pines for a girl?

Radius 16
My grandfather and Spiritual matters
In my grandfathers approach to spirituality and religion, I had observed an
intense devotion, disciplined way of practising certain rituals and through all
these a thinking which gives humanity a place where by he could judge other
religious practices. He had no bigotry towards any sect. We are disciples of
Srungeri Matham for generations but my grandfather took the initiative of
performing Bhiksha for Kanchi periyava when He was camping at
Ilayatthangudi in 1962 through Kumbakonam Bar association. Whenever,
Kanchi periyava came to Kumbakonam, He used to make it a point to ask my
grandfather to come and meet him. Invariably the meeting used to be after 10
PM when Periyava would get free time after giving darsan to all. My
grandfather would walk up to the rear door of the matham and he would be
let in by an attendant and the meeting would take place under the tree in the
backyard of the matham. I did not know the details of discussions. It could be
some routine matters where Periyava wanted a legal opinion or it might
something related to spiritual matters. My grandfather had written a
commentary for Lalitha sahasranamam which he took and discussed with
Periyava about publishing it. I learnt that Periyava dissuaded my grandfather
from publishing the commentary. In 1958, he was awarded the title
Adhyathma Ratna by Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. He never mentioned it
to any one nor used to put it as a prefix. He said If I use the title then what
kind of Adhyatma Ratna would I be? Once Sivananda Vijayalakshmi who was
an ardent follower of Swami Sivananda came to Kumbakonam and was
enquiring about someone who got the title Adhyatma Ratna so that she
could meet him. He never divulged that information. He used to quote often
the Kural Thavam seyvar than karumam seyvar (People who really do
penance are the people who do their work. Others are actually doing sin as
they are propelled by their desires). After being a trustee of Kasi viswanathar
temple for eighteen years, he still could recite Thaymanavars songs about not
doing external Puja but inernally worshipping God. I think if there is a Golden
mean which Buddha speok about, my grandfather was pretty close to it.

Whirl 16
The Ocean of Mercy Sadasivam
As the Thamizh month of Margazhi starts, one will find a chill in the mornings.
A pleasant breeze makes one feel fresh as if he has come to a hill station
though he may be in the plains. In one of such chill mornings, Yagneswarar and
family arrived in Kumbakonam at Panju Sastrigals house. Panju sastrigals
house was located just opposite the Raja Vedha Patasala in East Iyan street
near Kaveri. Panju sastrigal took them to Kumbeswarar temple, Ramaswamy
temple and the ladies went for shopping in the Bazar street. On the third day,
Yagneswarar said they would like to leave at least the next day. Panju sastrigal
told that in the evening he would take all of them to the famous Mahamakham
tank. In the evening, all started to walk from East Iyan Street and passed
through Sahaji Nayakkan Street. Panju sastrigal commented, Sahaji was a
marattha. They call him Nayakkan because the Kings before Marathas were
Nayakkars. Then they reached the road leading to Mahamakham tank. They
found lot of people rushing towards one of the mandapams on the bank of the
tank. Panju Sastrigal enquired a person what was the matter.He replied
without reducing the speed Sadasiva Brahmendral has come and is sitting
there. We are going there to have darsan and get his blessings Panju sastrigal
said He is just like Suka brahmam in our Kali yugam, let us go and get his
darsan. Every one ran towards the Mandap. Sadasivar was sitting in a smiling
pose in the centre of the Mandap. People have kept milk, fruits and sweets but
it seemed He did not even notice the things. He had taken bath and had
smeared Vibhuthi on his body. He was sitting like an innocent child smiling at
every one. As the crowd started dispersing, Yagneswarar fell at his feet and
told his abivadanam (a declaration of ones gotram, fathers name etc).
Swamigal pointed at Nagu and asked in sign language (He never spoke) Have
you not performed Upanayanam for this boy? Yagneswarar replied Swami,
we belong to Chetlur. I came on some work in the Tanjore palace. We will be
going back to Chetlur in Thai and then I plan to perform his upanayanam in
Masi. Swamigal asked him Is any one in Chetlur now?. Yagneswarar was a
bit surprised at his question and said I have my elder brother there and we
have our own house and some lands near by. Swamigal continued in sign
language I see. Is the dark complexioned, stout person with vaishnava namam
all over the body sitting on the swing in the hall of the house your brother?.
Yagneswarar was further perplexed now. Swami, My elder brother is fair, tall
and used to apply Vibhuthi. I do not understand whom you are referring to.
Swamigal said Oh you seem to know nothing and then turned towards Panju
sastrigal Take them home now. Ask him not to lose heart. Have a good sleep.
Come tomorrow evening here. Then He gave sugar candies to all as prasdams
though they had not seen any sugar candy in front of him among the offerings.
Yagneswarar was getting some discomfort. He told Panju sastrigal that he was
getting some odd feeling that something was not alright. Panju sastrigal
suggested that they go home and in spite of protests from children, they
walked back home. As they approached the house, it was getting dark. In the
dim light of the evening, Yagneswarar could see two figures sitting in front of
Panju sastrigals house. They were Kondu and Sarvesar. As they came near,
every one embraced everyone else and there was cheer all-round. Gnanam
was delighted to see someone from her place after nine months. Children were
clinging about Sarvesar. Once the initial euphoria subsided, Yagneswarar asked
Sarvesar what a pleasant surprise, Anna, How did you come here?Sarvesar
said Last Saturday, I received a message from Kondu that he had got a good
job in the Tanjore Palace and that he wanted to see me I could not even sit for
five minutes after I got the message. Fortunately for me, Udayarpalayam
Jamindar was travelling from Tirupathi with his soldiers. I begged them and got
a place to sit in one of the carts meant for provisions. Once I reached
Udayarpalayam it was childs play to reach Tanjore. I went to see Kondu and
found that Iswara had taken him somewhere to the top. What a position and
what fame? Gnanam, You told me that one day he would be somebody. I
should put sugar in your mouth. You have really done it.
Kondu prompted him Father, These are not important now for us. Sarvesar
said Ok, I came to know from Kondu that you people are planning to leave for
Chetlur. I asked Kondu whether Yagneswarar knew what happened to their
house Yagneswarar got visibly disturbed and started trembling as he said
feebly Is Anna OK? Sarvesar said Anna is perfectly alright. His first daughter
Purani-the one who is in Ongole- arranged a good alliance for her daughter and
the bridegrooms father demanded 50 tola gold. She came to Nanu Anna and
cried that she would lose a good boy if he did not give her 50 tolas. Nanu anna
tried selling land but it has become barren and so he could not get much.
Meanwhile his second daughter Janu came and she also demanded that she
should be given 50 tolas because she also has a daughter. Poor Nanu anna and
Kamu manni! They were shaken. Then they approached Anjaneyalu who is the
only person in the village with some money. Anjaneyalu agreed to give 100
tolas against the mortgage of the house. Nanu anna asked him to write to you
to bring the money and redeem the house by chithrai. He thought that you
might have earned a lot of money in Tanjore. Anjaneyalu told him that he had
already sent a message and got the concurrence from you and so it is not a
problem. I realise now it is all lie to suit his plan to capture the house. So on
Karthikai day, Nanu anna and manni packed off leaving the house with all
furniture to Anjaneyalu. They told me that they were going to Ongole.
Yagneswarar sat on the steps of Panju Sastrigals house and he seemed to be
on the verge of crying. How could Nanu anna do this? What a house? How
many Rama Navamis my grandfather would have celebrated? How many
scholars would have come? Now everything has gone without a trace because
he believed that cunning fellow. Panju sastrigal asked him but you said you
sent message and got reply also.Yagnesarar said Who knows? May be it was
Anjaneyalu who replied.
It was late night. Sarvesar and Kondu had gone to the terrace. All children had
slept. Panju sastrigal also had slept. Gnanam and Yagneswarar could not sleep.
They were almost sitting on the last step of the house facing the road now
empty except for an occasional cat which crossed the street.
Yagneswarar said to Gnanam I am broken from inside. I advise so many
people. Now, my house is gone. I could not prevent it. Nanu Anna has
mortgaged it for 100 tolas. I would not be able to get that sum now. I already
asked the King to arrange for the carts. Where should I go now? I feel like
committing suicide. Gnanam stopped him in half the sentence What non
sense? Have all people who lost their houses committed suicide? Is this the
way a scholar speaks? You told thousand things about Kondu. He is now in the
pinnacle of glory. Things go up and down. That is life.
Yagneswarar asked her, Speaking of Kondu, I never realised his worth. I was of
the view that he was a dumb fellow. How could you see his capability and bring
it out?
Gnanam denied having played a big role in shaping Kondu It is actually the
virtuous deeds done by Sarvesar which helped Kondu. It is said that a rat by
chance pulled the wick and made the lamp to burn brighter in a Siva sannidhi
and Siva ordained that it should be born as King in its next birth. If that is for a
rat lighting one lamp, Sarvesar must have lit thousands of lamps in so many
temples in the last twenty years. Naturally, Lord has made his son King Now.
said Gnanam.
Yagneswarar asked Then what about me? I built a temple for Perumal. Sastras
say that the punyam for building a temple is that the person will get a house.
What do we see here? The existing house is gone. I am an astrologer. I could
not even foresee it. Why is this injustice?
Gnanam was very calm. We think we have built it. Truth is different. Swami
wanted to have it built. We were His instruments. We see a stone on the road.
When sun shines in a particular angle, it will shine like a diamond. When the
sun moves, it turns back to its normal nature, which is stone. It is something
similar. Perumal made people believe that we have some powers and we are
building the temple. Acctually, it is He who built it in His own way. How can
Josyam be superior to His will? Ok If you keep on asking what is the punyam?
My only answer is you have now performed marriage for two granddaughters
of your family. I think it is not a small thing and that punyam will come to you.
Yagneswarar got up and a sugar candy fell down from his angavastram. Oh I
forgot. Swamigal told us to sleep well and come tomorrow. I have been
blurting like a fool. Come let us get some sleep. Both went inside hoping for a
better tomorrow. Next day in the morning, Nanu Anna came to yagneswarar
and asked him to listen to his suggestion. He said Raju, I have come to a
decision. Kondu is with me on this. I am not going back to Chetlur. I am going
to spend the rest of my days with Kondu only. You go to Chetlur and stay in my
house. Whatever amount you can give, whenever you want to give, give it to
Kondu. Do not mistake me. Feel free to go and occupy the house.
Yagneswarar could not see Sarvesar but he could only see the Lord
Mahavishnu Himself standing there with Sri Devi and Bhu Devi. He fell at
Sarvesars feet. Sarvesar pulled him up and told him not to get emotional. By
that time, Gnanam declined to accept the offer of the house, anyway. Panju
sastrigal was saying that the entire problem could have been avoided had the
Chief Minister made Yagneswarar part of the Durbar as a scholar. He said that
he would go to Madhava Rayar and demand an explanation for ill treating
The discussions went on till evening and again every one walked to
Mahamakham tank. They went to the Mandapam where He was sitting the
previous day but could not find Him there. They went to Kasi viswanathar
temple and had darsan. They came to the outer periphery of the temple near a
tall Siva lingam and stopped there for praying. Suddenly, they found Sadasivar
there. On seeing Him, Yagneswarar told about the way the house had gone in
mortgage.Swamigal asked him not to worry and come to His house. On seeing
the hesitation in the face of Yagneswarar, He turned towards Gnanam. Do not
worry.Come to my house in Tiruvisanallur on sankaranthi day. Then he
vanished from there.
Next day, Yagneswarar and family left for Thiruvaiyaru amidst all kinds of
thoughts. On reaching, Yagneswarar felt that the solution is not going to be so
easy. How will an avadhootha swamigal accommodate a family in his house?
Will people allow? These questions haunted him.
After two days, a cart stopped in front of the house and Madhva Rayar got
down. A soldier came in to announce the arrival of the Chief Minister but by
that time Madhva Rayar had entered and sat down in the hall without any
degree of discomfort. He dismissed the soldier and asked Yagneswarar to sit
down. Gnanam hurriedly brought some water, a glass of milk and some fruits
and kept before him.
Madhva Rayar took some water to clear his throat, I was passing by and I
thought I should visit your house. I have always been impressed by the good
work you have done for the state and your nature with which you have got
along with every one whether it is a scholar or a soldier. I wanted to make you
as the official Purohit in the durbar. Due to some people, that could not be
done. But, I never wanted to leave you. Yesterday, I was in Kumbakonam to
supervise the building of the embankment for Kaveri in sahaji Nayakan Street. I
suddenly recalled that Raja Sahaji had built some houses for Vedic scholars in
Tiruvisanallur in a colony by name sahajipuram. I asked a soldier to go and see
whether those houses were occupied or empty. Out of 46 houses in
Sahajipuram, many were empty. I personally went and saw one of the houses
and asked the masons to repair and make it ready for you to move in by
Sankaranthi. Yesterday afternoon, when the King came to Kumbakonam, I got
it officially sanctioned from him and he also agreed to pay you certain amount
as Honorarium every month for your contribution to the State. I was very much
surprised that the King had no hesitation in taking the decision and everything
went smoothly. Now I have come to request you to agree to stay here in our
state. We definitely do not want to let you go and I can promise you that we
will make good any loss you are suffering due to not being in chetlur.
Yagneswarar had not expected this turn of events. What would have happened
that the King and his Chief Minister start praising him and desperately trying to
keep him here whereas they were lukewarm even ten days back?
Yagneswarar said When you are doing so many things out of affection for me,
I cannot but agree to stay here. But I want to know one thing. Did anything
unusual happen when you went to Kumbakonam?
Madhva Rayar said Unusual? No Nothing. He then added Oh yes if you
count it as unusual, the avdhutha swamigal came there. Yagneswarar asked
who? Sadasiva Brahmendral? The Minister said Yes, when I was supervising
the work, He came and enquired about the work. I fell at His feet and He asked
me why everyone comes to Sahaji Nayakan Street but no one comes to
sahajipuram now a days.He told that He stays there and that I should come. At
that instant I remembered about the houses Yagneswarar understood that it
is entirely the work of sadasivar. He felt thankful for His immense mercy. He
felt embarrassed at his wondering how Swamigal would accommodate his
family in thiruvisanallur. He has actually done it now.
In a week everything was packed and the family was ready to move. On
sankaranthi day, Yagneswarar and his family were taken to Tanjore and King
honoured yagneswarar by arranging a chariot to take him around in a
procession. Gnanam and children were proudly going behind the chariot. In
the evening, the cart left for Sahajipuram near Thiruvisanallur halting in
Kumbakonam enroute. Next day, Yagneswarar was received in Tiruvisannallur
by Panju sastrigal who already arrived there and the nadaswaram with Special
Thus the life started in thiruvisanallur, a smaller village compared to
Thiruvaiyaru. The Minister requested him to come once a month to Durbar to
clarify the doubts of people and give general guidance. One day in the
morning, Sadasivar came and told Gnanam Write down this song and practice
singing it, he then started telling the lines
Pibare rama rasam..... rasane Pibare Rama rasam
When Gnanam finished taking it down, he said, Now you sing. She sang and
He seemed satisfied by the rendering of the song. He asked Yagneswarar to
perform Upanayanma for Nagu on 5 th day in Masi. Then he disappeared.
All arrangements started for Nagus upnayanam. Gnanam found that he had
more invitees than she would have had in Chetlur. Sarvesar took full
responsibility for managing the activities. He also informed that Kondus
marriage with Vaidehi would be held in Avani that year and that Gnanam
should take full charge of the Bridegrooms side.
On the upnayanam day, the house was overflowing with crowd. Nagu was
sitting in between his father and the sastrigal. Brahma Upadesam was being
done. As soon as the Upadesam was over, Swamigal came in with His usual
smile. He asked Nagu for his name. Yagneswarar asked Nagu to do
namaskaram and then said Naganatha sarma. Swamigal told Yagneswarar
Keep his name Sadasiva Naganatha sarma. Yagneswarar could see the
immense mercy of the Swamigal that He wanted to give His identity to a
member of his family. His eyes became moist. When all were bowing to Him,
He got up, raised His hand to bless them and walked like an angel and soon
was not seen.
Chetlur Chakram revolved with Lachu getting deeper in to the study of
Thevaram and Nagu learning Sadasivars songs. Dhikshithar was a respected
advisor to the court of the King Saraboji. The family virtually got a second life
due to the ocean of mercy called Sadasiva who still protects us from all harm.
We offer our Pranams to His lotus feet.
1. Raja Srirangar III- He came to the throne in 1642. He was constantly engaged
in battles with Golconda Sultan and spent his last days in Ikkeri as a King
without kingdom.
2. Raja Saraboji I- He is the son of Ekoji and brother of Sahaji. He came to the
throne in 1712. He had keen interest in literature. In his period, the dance
drama Vidhya parinayam got staged in Anandhavalli temple. The campaign he
led to protect the Kaveri was documented well in a Thamizh book. Siva
Bharatham was written and in Samskrutham and was translated in Thamizh as
Sivaji Charithram. Sarabaraja vilasam and Rathi Manmatham were also written
in his period. It is documented that he called Yagna Dhikshithar from Chetlur
and established a temple at Vazhuthur. Link is given below.
He passed away in 1728. His wife did Sati with him.
3. Sokkanatha Nayakkar: He came to power in 1662. When he was young, he
attacked Sultan without any plan and thousands of people died in
Tiruchirappalli due to the barbaric retaliation by Sultans troops. He never
forgave Tanjore Nayaks who in his view let him down in the war with sultan.
He attacked Tanjore when Vijayaraghava Nayak was the King.
4. Vijayaraghava Nayakkar: He was a very learned man. He came to power in
1634. He had done extensive renovation for temples. He built the Raja
gopuram for Mannargudi Rajagopalaswami temple. He called himself
Mannardasar. He had written more than 30 books. He was executed in
Madurai in 1673.
5. Bheemaswami: Samratha Ramadas raised an army of 1100 disciples who
were sent to various corners of the country to portect and spread Hinduism.
Swami Samartha visited Tanjore and Bheemaswami was appointed to look
after a Matham there.This could have happened in 1670s.
6. Shri Sachidhandha Bharathi swamigal: Swamigal came to peetham in 1706.
he had close contact with the Marathas and Ikkeri Samasthanam. He visited
Keladi (Ikkeri) at the invitation of Basavappa Nayak. He had a large following of
Kings which included Mysore Maharaja. Ramanatha puram Sethupathi also
used to be a devotee of swamigal. He had composed Mukambika Sthotram and
Saradha Sthothram.
7. Basavappa Nayak: He was adopted son of Rani Chennamma and became
King of Ikkeri in 1697. (born as son of Bidanur Margappa Chetty). He wrote
Siva Thathva Ratnkaram, Subhashitha Suradhruma, (Samskrutham) and Sukthi
Sudhakara(Kannada). Siva Thathva rathnakara could have been the first
Encyclopedia of the world. He made extensive notes (which are not available
now) and wrote as a compendium. The book had 9 Kallilams. In each Kallolam
thre were 12 Tharangas. Each Tharanga concentrated on one subject like
Architecture, Astronomy, Politics, Religion, Dance, Irrigation etc. The entire
book was written in the style of the father-son conversation. He encouraged
others to write books. Linganna wrote Keladi Nirupa Vijayam about him.
Dhattoji Pandithar wrote Tathva Kousthubham. He worshipped Kollur
Mukambika as his family Goddess. He was devoted to Srungeri
Mahasannidhanam. He passed away in 1714.
8. Vedhakavi: He was a poet in Sahajis days. He wrote Vidhya Parinayam, a
Dance drama on a philosophical subject.
9. Sadasiva Brahmendral: He was born to Somasundara avadhani and Parvathi
Ammal in Andhra Pradesh. (year not known). He was named Sivaramakrishnan.
He got married at the age of 17. He came to kanchipuram from Andhra and got
upadesam from Brahmedra saraswathi. He used to wander many days without
clothes and came to be known as Avdhutha. He wrote a book by name Atma
Vidya Vilasam. He performed many miracles. Once, few boys were playing on
the road in Mahadhanam. When they told Him that they wanted to go to
Madurai to see chithrai festival, He asked them to close their eyes and in a few
minutes they were in Madurai. He again brought them back to Mahadhanam
and as a proof of their trip they had the sugar candy which is sold in Madurai.
Once he was in a state of Samadhi in a field. A farmer thought that he was a
thief and raised his hand to hit him. He could not move his hand and remained
in that position till the morning. Then swami gal got up and smiled at him and
he could move his hand. He once was walking through the Navas palace
premises and he was without clothes. Soldiers ran after him and cut his hand
to punish him. He continued to walk as if nothing has happened. The Anwar
realised his mistake and ran after Him. He asked for His forgiveness and kept
the cut hand in the original position. It remained fixed as before.
He lived in Tiruvisanallur for many years and was a friend of Sridhara ayyaval
who made Ganges flow in his well. On that day He sang a song Jaya thunga
tharange Gange. Though he remained silent, he composed many songs.
Among them, Manasa Sanchara re(Madhuvanthi) , Baja re Gopalam (Hidolam),
Piba re Rama Rasam (Ahir Bhairav/Yaman), Baja re Yadhunatham (Peelu)
Sarvam brahma mayam(sama) are famous.
It is said that he took Jiva Samadhi in 3 places. These are Karachi,
Manamudurai and Nerur. Paramhamsa Yogananda wrote in his autobiography
about Sadasiva as one of the most evolved yogis.
Srungeri Mahasannidhanam Narasimha Bharati visited Nerur and composed a
song on on Him while meditating in Nerur Samadhi.
He wrote many books Brahma Sutra vritthi, Yoga Sudhakaram, Kaivalya
Amrutha Bindhu, Siddhantha Kalpa valli are some of the famous books.
Though he was a Gnani and a soul which need not indulge in any Puja etc, He
installed Punnainallur Mariamman in Tanjore for worship by people. He also
did Upadesam to Pudukkottai Maharaja.
Swamigal once was performing Sivaliga Puja and he started performing
archana to Linga with flowers. People noticed that as he put the flowers on
Linga the flowers used to disappear and drop on Him from above.
We have not seen Him. But, we believe that He is always seeing us and like the
rain, He washes away our sins and blesses us with his mercy.
Our Koti Koti namaskarams to the Lotus feet of Sadasiva Brahmendral.