Thursday, September 21, 2006

Great Temples In Desolate Ruins

Keezha Pazhayaarai, a temple near Kumbakonam, was once a great temple. Built in the 7th Century (around 660 A.D.). Worshipped daily by King RajaRaja Cholan - the Great Chola Emperor, history has ever seen. His son Rajendra Cholan was brought up by King RajaRaja Cholan's sister - Kundavai Naachiar - at this place. But the great temple is desolate ruins now, with the ruined Raja Gopuram (Front tower), act of time, plant growth on the walls that surround temple. King Kulothunga Cholan maintained and renovated parts of the temple and he built the 7-tier Raja Gopuram of which only one remains now. Take a look at the pictures of this great temple that has stood around 1500 years. The government started off the renovation in 1989 but stopped abruptly and has been ignorant till date. It is still not too late to save the temple. This is one of the temples that I visited recently. When we went there, only a old lady, Rukmani Ammal, took us around the temple. Tears almost came out our eyes when she told that she would like to see the Kumbabhishekam before in her life, which might not be probable. It really burdens our heart that the we don't have the thought that Rukmani Ammal has. There are more good hearted people who could help renovate this great temple. Hats off to the great lady!

The main entrace, Raja Gopuram, to the temple (only the first tier remains)

Closeup view of the first tier

Side view of the Raja Gopuram

View of the Raja Gopuram from inside the temple

Somakamalaambikai Amman Temple inside

The Great Temple (Mandapam and Vimanam)
In the photo - Yamanoor (taking picture), Pradeep,
Rukmani Ammal - The lady who took us around the temple, Vijayendran

The Temple Mandapam design in the shape of a chariot pulled by horses

View of the Temple Vimanam

Exit door from the temple shrouded with bushes and plants

The Mandapam - View from near the Vimanam

Could have been possibly a Mandapam or Corridor

Trees grown on the temple walls - a sign of slow destruction

Trees grown on the temple walls - a sign of slow destruction

Inside the first tier of the Raja Gopuram

Inside the first tier of the Raja Gopuram
(Vijayendran and Pradeep)

View of Temple's Inner gopuram from inside the first tier of the Raja Gopuram

View of Temple's Inner gopuram from inside the second tier of the Raja Gopuram

A headless Nandhi statue

A headless Nandhi statue

There another great temple that is almost in ruins now. The Veerabadhirar Temple at Darasuram, which is even older than the Airavatheshwarar Temple at Darasuram, which was built during the 12th Century. The Airavatheshwarar Temple at Darasuram is maintained by the Archaelogical Society of India however these two temples were ignored, reason unknown. The Veerabadhirar temple also has another speciality, that the famous poet Ottakoothar attained his Jeeva Samadhi (Grave) here.

The Raja Gopuram of The Veerabadhirar Temple - Darasuram

The Raja Gopuram of The Veerabadhirar Temple - Darasuram
(From inside the temple)

The Mandapam inside the Veerabadhirar Temple - Darasuram

These are the invaluable treasures our ancestors left for us and for the generations to come. Its our heritage, our pride and our possession that cross the borders of caste, creed and religion. We neeed to protect these heritage sites for our next generations. 

More to come, until then...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Connoisseur Kambar - Part 5

Borrowing money and other materials are very common these days. The interesting thing is that more banks are ready to give loans to people and are willing to put the people in debt. Apart from that people are more willing to buy an asset by getting a loan. Even I am not an exception though I write this post. In those days, borrowing was considered a sin and it was advised not to borrow anything. There is even an old saying

"Kadan Vaangi Kadan Koduthaar Kettaar"

meaning, those who borrow to pay another debt will ruin themselves.

Kadan - debt
Vaangi - get Koduthu - give;
Koduthaar - person giving something

Kettu - Spoil, ruin;
Kettaar - person spoiling themselves

Even Avaiyar, says that it is a great sin to borrow and to spend more than what one earns. Her song goes like this

"Aana Mudhalil Adhigam Selavaanaal
Maanamizhandhu Madhikettu Pona Dhisai
Ellaarkkum Kallanaai Yezhupirappum Theeyanaai
Nallaarkkum Pollaanaam Naadu"
                  - Avaiyar

meaning, the one who spends more that what he earns, that is, he gets a loan to meet out his expenses. He will lose his dignity. He will lose his mind and will be considered by all as thief in whatever direction he goes. He will be a sinner in all his births and will be a bad guy for all the good ones .

Aana Mudhalil: Aana - Completed, Attained; Mudhalil - Capital, Earned money.
Adhigam: Too much, in excess
Selavu Aanaal - Expense met
Maanam Ezhandhu: Maanam - Dignity;
Ezhandhu - Lose
Madhi: Mind Sense; Kettu - Spoil, ruin
Pona - Going
Dhisai - Direction
Ellaarkkum - For all
Kallan - Thief
Yezhu pirappu - In all the births
Theeyan - Bad fellow
Nallaar - Good people
Pollaan - Bad fellow
Naadu - Compare, Understand

Kambar as usual in his exquisite style explains how it would feel to be in a debt.
Here goes his song.

    "Vidam (Visham) Konda Meenaippolum
         Venthazhal Mezhugu Polum
    Padam Konda Paanthal Vaayil
         Pattriya Thaerai Polum
    Dhidamkonda Rama Baanam
         Serukkala thutra Podhu
    Kadankondaar Nenjam Pola
         Kalanginaan Elangai Vendhan"
                  - Kambar

meaning, Like a fish that has taken in poison; Like the wax near a hot flame; Like the toad that got caught between the venomous jaws of a snake; When the brave arrows of Lord Rama flew in the war field. Ravana's feared and panicked as of the victim's position in the above situations that can be compared to the person in a debt

Vidam (Visham) - Poison
Konda - having
Meen - Fish
Polum - Like
Venthazhal - Red hot flame
Mezhugu - Wax
Padam - Snake's hood
Paanthal - Snake
Vaai - Mouth, jaws
Pattriya - Catching
Thaerai - Toad
Dhidam - Brave, solid
Rama - Lord Rama
Baanam - Arrow
Serukkalam - War field
Uttra - Flew, Enter
Kadan- debt; Kondar - person in debt
Nenjam - heart, mind
Kalanginaan - feared, panicking
Elangai - Sri Lanka, Vendhan - King (Ravana)

So our forefathers avoided borrowing and being in a debt. As the debt would force a person to do anything that is considered mean. And he has to live his life always in fear. Kambar proved his eloquence and style by picturising the effects of being in a debt. The wonder nowadays is the banks promote credit cards and force people into debt which was considered a sin. Lets put a thought about it and try to contend ourselves with what we have and escape the great sin of debt. The point of not being in a debt might not be feasible for businesses today and even for people. But the facts elucidated by Kambar cannot be denied. Lets ponder over it.

More to come, until then...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Connoisseur Kambar - Part 4

Many of us know Kambar from the perspective of a poet, but only a few know that he was also a person well-versed in the field of medicine. He used to treat many people during his time. There is even an interesting legend that illustrates his medical prowess too.

Before that lets digress into some Tamil tradition of medical practices. In those days and even now in most homes, there is a traditional practice that is followed for generations is that each family knows some medical treatments for simple ailments called "Paati Vaidhiyam" (Grandma's Medication). This does not mean that they won't go to the doctor for treatment, but they don't disturb the doctor for the ailments for which they know the medication. Not only did they know about the medication, but the people organised their day to day activities and food habits that led to a healthy and hygienic life. One such practice is that of taking "Oil Bath". Oil Bath is a type of bathing where the person is massaged either using gingelly oil (Nall Ennai) or castor oil (Vilakennai) - from head to feet. Then, after sometime that person takes bath using a powder that is a mixture of two powders named Arappu and Shikakai.

Taking oil bath has the following benefits

  1. the body is cooled and the heat is absorbed by the oil
  2. the blood circulation system is rejuvenated, blood flow increases and is regulated
  3. the dirt in the layers of the skin gets removed as the oil soaks the skin superficially and the dirt gets removed when bathed using the above mentioned powder, thereby preventing skin related diseases.

More details of such practices in the upcoming blogs. Let’s get back to Kambar's legend. One day a lady came rushing to Kambar, carrying her son and with fear, screaming that a snake has bit her son. She asked Kambar to treat her son and save him from death. Normally in those days for snake bite there was not antidote as the modern era, but the root of a plant named Nagathaali was used and it acted as an effective antidote. Kambar inspected the boy's condition; he noticed that the boy had gone pale and blue. He asked the boys mother about when the snake bit, she told that it was less than a Naazhigai (24 minutes) [A day consists of 60 Naazhigais]. Kambar thought that a snake bite could not have caused the boy to go that pale in a short span of time, and asked if the boy had taken an oil bath. The mother said yes. Kambar immediately said sorry to the boy's mother because the boy cannot be treated and saved because the oil bath has rejuvenated his blood circulation and the poison has spread very quickly that it is impossible to save the boy at that stage.

The above story is not to project any negative thing about oil bathing. But think it in the perspective of how effective it is in rejuvenating the blood stream. Kambar knew this aspect and was able to correctly assess the situation as a doctor. So Kambar was a multi-faceted person - a poet, a doctor and an advisor to the King. Let’s honour such a great man and we should be proud of having his as the crown of the Tamil Culture and stands as an exemplary. It is no wonder that Kambar and his works are an inspiration to many.

More to come, until then...