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ShivaFan
03 February 2013, 11:16 PM
Namaste All

Today I had to move my collection of books to a new, larger, secured storage. I have not completed this task as I became totally exhausted. Certain texts and books I keep in my home, but I have a very large collection in secure storage. Today there was a big football game in the US (called the "Super Bowl") so there would be less people in my way during the move (I didn't watch the game).

Upon being exhausted, I opened one container, of which on top were two books. One I think would be of interest to Gaudiya Vaishnavas, and the other to Saiva Siddhantans who are devotees of Lord Muruga. Actually, I was hoping to find an extremely rare book in a hard bound blue cover entitled “Shree Krsna” which as I recall came out about the time of World War I (yes, World War One, not World War Two) when, as an example of a very early Krishnite Movement to the USA by an Indian Guru who traveled to the US East Coast, predating Prabhupad but sharing a lot of similar spirit, started and books were published and distributed. I have it somewhere, but …

I did find two items of interest perhaps to the HDF.

The first was a special edition released in 1967 of the selected works and interviews of Bhakti Siddhanta Saraswati Goswami Maharaj. It turned out this was the first edition, and was in the possession of a Temple President. I recall, I was given this book as a gift by a Pujari decades ago. It covers many subjects, but also demonstrates the Bhakti aspect of the Devotee (and in particular, of course, in relation to the teachings of Lord Chaitanya. It also covers some of the learnings of Saraswati Goswami the founder of the Shree Chaitanya math. Actually this is not a rare book, there were many later editions forthright, but this one I believe preserves some to the “Kings English” use of commentary by Saraswati.

The second book is very obscure, meaning I believe it is rare, is written by a devotee of Muruga on the Kataragama holy site and temple. The author, a handsome man in saffron dhoti and beard, admits he does not have full command of the English language, but this matters little to the content that is very engaging. Please note, when he refers to "the author" he means himself. This book talks about many things and is 118 pages in length. It also reflects strongly the aspect of Bhakti, in this case the much under-reported but very alive Murugan Bhakti movement which shares many aspects with other Bhakti movements. But I purposely selected some very interesting writing in this book, which describes the Puja to Lord Muruga. The location is in Sri Lanka. What is striking is the pujari who does the main puja for Muruga is a Buddhist and not a Hindu. But keep in mind, Buddhism is the predominant religion in Sri Lanka, for some reason even though it is Hindus who attend this temple we find a Buddhist pujari.

A while back, in another posting, I made the case that in the Jagannath Murti there is a tooth of the Buddha. When the Buddha left (a Prince from Nepal and like Ram was a special manifestation), the bones and teeth were distributed all over (the world even). I have no evidence, but I suspect that there is a bone of the Buddha also held in the casket of reference in the puja description, along with a Vel of Muruga which goes back to the hoary past of Veddas. You will find also, the use of curtains. There is a similar use of curtains in Chidambaram Temple of Nataraj in Tamil Nadu where (in between curtains) the “empty space” is worshipped. However, in this case there is a casket. We do not know what is in the casket, but I have some suspicions but guesswork is the speculation of idiots (of which I am) so I am not taking any view other than the majesty of India and Sri Lanka.

I too, am a Bhakta. Here is something both for the Vaishnava and the Saiva. Normally we do not want to paste things from the internet (which is not what I have done, I manually typed this for you from the two books), but there is a purpose in the post that hopefully reveal the spirit of Bhakti, as well as expose an interesting puja ceremony of Muruga devotion.




SHRI CHAITANYA’S TEACHINGS
BY
OM VISHNUPADA (108) SHRI SHRMAD
BHAKTI SIDDANTA SARASWATI GOSWAMI MAHARAJ
The Illustrious founder of Shree Chaitanya Math &
its branches Sree Gaudiya Maths


Published by
Shri Nandadulal Brahmachari Bhaktivaibhava
Secretary, Sree Gaudiya Math
Sree Gaudiya Math Road,
Madras – 14
Phone: 85881


1st Edition
SHRI VYASA PUJA DAY
480 Shri Gaur Era,
1st March 1967


Price Rs. 12/-
Temple Presidents Office
All Glory to Sri Guru and Gauranga



Selective Outtakes:


We happen to be servants of the devotees of God. We are not servants of either elevationists or liberationists. We are the bearers of Hari’s own footwear. Under the circumstance we do not join issue with the communities that desire any other thing beside the service of Godhead, viz, elevation or liberation. For we know that the worship of Dharma, Artha, Kaama or Moksha is merely deceitfulness. In other words they have a close connection with my addiction to the non-self.


There was a time when Shri Gaursundar (Chaitanya Mahaprabhu) in the course of His pilgrimage to different parts of India, had instructed the people in these words,


“Whomsoever you meet, instruct him about Krishna. Deliver this country by becoming Guru by My command.”


Do so from the position in which you happen to be placed. In whatever country, in whatever age, in whatever body you may happen to be lodged, use all your endeavor for the Divinity.


We do not want riches or followers nor do we desire to be saved from the misery of birth and death. In this world different persons aspire for ends other than the service of Krishna. They desire Dharma, Artha, Mama and Moksha.


... But when we are in the presence of Mahadeva, let us hail the Lord thus:


“Glory to the ruler of the realm of Vrindavana, Whose forehead is adorned with the moon, glory to Him who is worshipped by Sanandan, Sanatana and Narada, glory to the Chief of cowherds! …”


When we approach Katyayani we say, “I bow to thee, Katyayani who have power to delude, who have power of causing all occurrences, who have power over our selves. May the Devi make the Son of the cow-heard Nanda, my Husband.”


---- Now for some outtakes from the book “Kataragama – Divine Power of Kathirkamam and Methods of Realisation”



KATARAGAMA


DIVINE POWER OF KATHIRKAMAM
AND
METHODS OF REALISATION


With 57 Pictures


Arumugam Rasiah
Holiday Ashram
Sithankerny
SRI LANKA


Printed at Frewin & Co., Ltd. Colombo 1.
1981



Selected Outtakes:

Invocation to Lord Maha Ganapathi.
May the all pervading Divine reality Lord Maha Ganapathi protect us all who make real effort in self realization.

The word Kathirkamam is composed of two words, ‘Kathir” and ‘Kamam’. The word ‘Kathir’ denotes rays of divine illumination and ‘Kamam’ denotes divine bliss. Hence Kathirkamam means the bliss that emanates from Divine illumination. Whatever one prefers and seeks after is granted by the Lord of Kathirkamam called ‘Lord Murugan’ (Kataragama Devio, God of Kathirkamam). Finally when one surrenders the body, wealth and soul at the Holy feet, one gets into Eternal Bliss. Kathirkamam is now called as Kataragama.

Kathirkamam is sacred because of the divine plays (Leelas) enacted there by the Lord for the purification of the devotees and their liberation. Almost all the religions in Sri Lanka have a belief in the Divinity and a claim and freedom of worship there.

In Kathirkamam a curtain cloth which is colour painted with the pictures of the Lord Murugan armed with the Vel (Lance) mounted on the Peacock along with His two consorts, Goddesses Valli and Devayanai on either side is hung at the entrance to the shrine room. This is never removed or opened for the public, or even to the true Devotees under any circumstances. No one is allowed to enter the shrine room other than the Basnayake Nilame the temporal head of the temple and the officiating priests (Spiritual Kapuralas). The “Secret Within the Secret” is that the Lord hides Himself even inside the shrine room concealed in a casket without being seen even by the Priest who officiates at the Poojas and the Basnayake Nilame. There is also a second curtain in the middle of the shrine room, preventing any cunning person glancing through the outer curtain and getting a view of what is within and beyond and at the same time covering the inner shrine room. However much a cunning person tries, he cannot see anything more than a light within. The Sacredness is that, the secret of secrets is supposed to contain sacred syllables (Manthirams) written or engraved on a Gold Plate by a Saint and kept concealed inside the casket.

… In other words, the God or the Supreme Power is only playing “A hide and seek game” (Leela) with everybody and remains in the heart. This may be the main reason why the Lord of Kathirkamam is always in secret for the Devotees to seek and find Him like the Vedda Princess Valli who become one of His two consorts after catching the Lord from the hiding place, through Her sincere Love and Affection Only for Lord Murugan and nothing else.

… During the Esala Annual Festival in July-August 1979, the Lord of Kathirkamam was seen by the author and the Basnayake Nilame, waking part and doing the fire walking in the midst of Devotees who were walking on fire. It was too late for both to identify him as both thought that he was only a small boy walking on the fire with a pair of slippers raised over his Head and his right hand. Later on the following day, during the course of a conversation both realized the Divine Play of the Lord. This is how the Divinity Plays (Leelas) with the True Devotees and helps them. He appears in different forms to different Devotees and disappears suddenly.

… The author who is neither an authority on religions nor is an able English writer wishes to appeal to the readers to ignore the defects and to accept whatever it is worth.

The word Murugam denotes the Supreme Divine form which is ever young, beautiful and cherishing.

All beings on earth are endowed with certain senses. Human belings possess five senses with an extra sense called the “common sense” with which they are able to analyse and know good and bad. If the common sense is used properly it leads one to realize the pure self.

This Temple was in thick jungle with no motorable roads about eleven miles from Tissamaharama (Tissa) up to the year 1950. The pilgrims went on foot carrying their luggages through the thick jungle which is full of wild animals. Even today most of the pilgrims who go in groups for the July-August Esala Festival from the Northern and Eastern Provinces do so on foot.

The main difficulty with human beings on earth is the Ego. Egoism brings division in communities. It makes us incapable to know what is real Truth. The ego is the first enemy.

… He (Maha Vishnu) (is) the aspect of awareness when seen every where … He is the brother-in –law of Almighty Siva. Goddess Devayanai and Goddess Valli are the two daughters of Lord Maha Vishnu …

… Lord Murugan (is) The youngest son of Almighty Siva and the younger brother of Lord Maha Ganapathy …

… Lord Maha Ganapathy is also called by the names Pillayar, Vigneswaran etc. It is the custom of the Hindus to worship Lord Maha Ganapathy before they engage in auspicious activities. It is their firm belief that the Grace of Lord Maha Ganapathy will ward off all obstacles whatsoever …

… Almighty Siva (is) The Father of all Beings …

… The Kavady represents the human body which is the result of good and bad actions performed by each one of us. If a spiritual aspirant wants to liberate himself, he has to realize his true infinite awareness … this is the true meaning of the original aspect of Kavady.

... Immediately after the inner Pooja in the Lord Maha Ganapathy (Pillayar) Temple is over, the bells, drum, flute and other music begins at the Lord Murugan temple. The Pooja is performed at the Lord Murugan temple varies from that of the Lord Maha Ganapathy temple. Here a Kapurala who is a Buddhist performs the Pooja.

First the officiating Kapurala comes out of the curtain with an empty censer and hands it over to the attendant who waits there. This attendant takes another censer which lies outside and carries them both to the temple kitchen in order to bring embers. On return he hands over the one given by the Kapurala, who takes it in. He places the other in front of the curtain and sprinkles incense powder on it which produces sweet smelling fumes-of-smoke.

Then the Kapurala comes out of the curtain with some Aalaththi trays in one hand and some cotton wicks in the other hand. (Aalaththi means blessing). The trays with Holy material used in the act of Blessing are called Aalaththi trays. Having placed the Empty Aalaththi trays on the step, he stands still with the cotton wicks in hand in front of the curtain.

Then a number of women called the Aalaththi Ammas who are supposed to be the descendants of the Veddas of Goddess Valli Amman’s time, come up in a queue to the centre of the bottom step. They are dressed according to their old fashion and custom for part taking at the Pooja. They wear a combhoy cloth round their waist and cover the upper front part of the body with another piece of cloth which goes round the neck. Their back remaining uncovered.

… One by one they do the worship in a very systematic way. First they stand up-right bringing both palms together downwards. Then separately raised sideways, upwards over the head in a circular motion and rests on top of the head (The top of the head is the most vital nerve centre which Yogis regard as the joining place of the internal and external consciousness). Then bring them together in front of the forehead in-between the two eye brows (This is the point of the Eye of Wisdom).

… When they are ready, the flute and the drum music tune is changed and sounded to suit the Aalaththi movements. Once this rhythm is heard, the Kapurala who has been standing and waiting all this time turns and in a circular motion on each side, carries them upwards over his head and brings them together, palms facing and touching each other, rests them on top of his head. After a pause, he holds them in front of his chest and worships.

… Simultaneously with the movements of the Kapurala the lighted Aalaththi trays are waved with a special movement of the hands of the Aalaththi Ammas in timing with the music.

… The Aalaththi and the movements of all indicate the way how a soul gets into a human body, and how to make use of it and attain liberation.

… Once this music is changed, the Aalaththi Ammas walk out of the temple in a queue by the main front door. They first go round the temple keeping it on their right, up to the north west corner of the temple and then go into the small side yard.

… The music comes to a stop. The Kapurala goes to the Kitchen. The Kapurala rings the bell thrice from the temple Kitchen to indicate that … he is coming with the Holy Food. All the bells at the Lord Murugan temple are also immediately rung by the Devotees. The Kapurala takes the Holy Food along a path with two attendants holding a canopy over his head.

… He gives the holy ash to the Devotees while his assistant begins to give holy water. Another Assistand distributes the Holy Food which has been offered to the Lord.

---------------------------

I hope you have enjoyed the outtakes from these two books. I have many, many more. I also found another like book that I have in the same container, much like the Kataragama book but this one is of Shree Vaishno Devi which has literally an eye-popping image of Lord Rama leela, I might scan that and publish it on the internet so I can link it in to the forum to share. If I find the “Shree Krsna” book, I will definitely do some research on the “movement” and add a little post on it.

Om Namah Sivaya

Viraja
04 February 2013, 08:43 AM
What a splendid piece of information you have written here, ShivaFanji! Very nicely done.

(When I was young, my late grandmother and mother were great friends with some 'Naattukkotai Chettiars' - Murugan worship was their foremost and through them I have heard that, as stated in your message too, that Murugan in Kathirgamam has given darshan many times to devotees).

Pardon my poor English, I couldn't understand completely, I have 2 questions:

1.


In Kathirkamam a curtain cloth which is colour painted with the pictures of the Lord Murugan armed with the Vel (Lance) mounted on the Peacock along with His two consorts, Goddesses Valli and Devayanai on either side is hung at the entrance to the shrine room. This is never removed or opened for the public, or even to the true Devotees under any circumstances. No one is allowed to enter the shrine room other than the Basnayake Nilame the temporal head of the temple and the officiating priests (Spiritual Kapuralas). The “Secret Within the Secret” is that the Lord hides Himself even inside the shrine room concealed in a casket without being seen even by the Priest who officiates at the Poojas and the Basnayake Nilame. There is also a second curtain in the middle of the shrine room, preventing any cunning person glancing through the outer curtain and getting a view of what is within and beyond and at the same time covering the inner shrine room. However much a cunning person tries, he cannot see anything more than a light within. The Sacredness is that, the secret of secrets is supposed to contain sacred syllables (Manthirams) written or engraved on a Gold Plate by a Saint and kept concealed inside the casket.

Does the above mean, in Kathirgamam, one never gets to view the actual deity at the Sanctum Sanctorum? Only the pujaris get to view the diety and do the aradhana/respects? The curtain always covers the moola vigraha? (and there is no actual moola vigraha, but instead, a casket containing some sacred syllables)

2. Your description of the Aalaththi Ammas and the Kapurala - do they mean the worship of the deity done by the pujaris is so very unique, seems to be consisting of a sequence of steps as in a dance recital. No archana, recital of 108 names of Muruga and so forth?

Thanks.

Jetavan
04 February 2013, 08:46 AM
....
Om Namah Sivaya

What do you think of the Kataragama website (http://kataragama.org/)?

ShivaFan
05 February 2013, 03:22 PM
Namaste

I am sorry I didn't respond, for the last day and a half after completing the storage move I have been very ill. Actually, I still am, with hacking cough and chest and body pains, body shaking and shivering.

I have never been to Kataragama. Perhaps the member Eastern Mind has been there and can confirm or not if the Murthis of the inner sanctum are always hidden from view in this casket, it is my understanding they are. The author believes the casket holds a gold plate probably with a Yantra on it. I suspect it holds more than one object, none of which is an actual Murthi in the traditional sense viz Muruga Idol with arms and so on.

Why would this be the case that we are not allowed to see? I suspect this is an aspect of Bhakti Yoga.

Seeing behind the curtain is easily within the Power of Lord Muruga to give to you, and from time to time He does appear in actual presence before Devotees, though in different forms including directly. However intrinsic to Bhakti Yoga, which is full of joy, is also a feeling of separation from the Lord that drives Bhakti as well.

When He does appear, typically this is not before the unintelligent who may become "puffed up with pride".

Ignorance is a veil that hides Him from us, a curtain if you will. But revelation can come anytime, or anyplace.

You need to be a devotee to see the Lord. Sometimes for reasons of Dharma, Muruga does appear before non-devotees, but even if great mystery is before them as truth, they do not believe He is the Lord.

Also, Lord Muruga knows that in this world, there are many other souls or forces that want to be the Controller. Some of them in fact can posses aspects of power. At a time when the Lord is directly in form going about in this world to restore Dharma, and great mysteries are happening in this world, there are others who take advantage of the "climat in the air" if you will, who are false lords or imitators who then seem to spring up like weeds and the fools, the ignorant, they may follow them and chaos can be the result that then distract the time and efforts of good yogis, teachers or even the Lord to defeat them.

So this is the nature of this world, IMO. But you can see through this curtain with devotion, and also this feeling of separation can make you strong.

Now back to trying to recover from my illness.

Om Namah Sivaya

Viraja
05 February 2013, 07:42 PM
Thank you, ShivaFan ji. Hope you get well real soon!

Believer
06 February 2013, 01:45 PM
Namaste,

Hope you are feeling better ShivaFan.

Pranam.