The storms and stories keep a watch on me, as the American cops do on the terrorists. When Meghana drove me to the Baltimore air port the sky was smiling, then its face swelled and then a few drops of tears down through the cheek while we waited in the airport . The moment I boarded the flight, came the tornado threat, which delayed the take off. neither could the passengers get down nor the bird was taking off and it was a virtual house arrest for four hours, 6PM TO 10 PM. Meghana’s upuma and a thick volume of Barnard Shaw’s complete works were the stimulants to retain the composure , but for which I would have gone crazy.
Ashu was waiting at the other end, the Seattle airport with snacks and Ramu, with his car at the entrance. 2+4 = 6hrs wait + 51/2 hrs fly= nearly 12 hrs, had bored me to the brim and exhausted my energy and my body was just waiting to be pushed into the back seat of the car which hugged me to its bosom and put me to sleep. Two hours later, my tornado- threat – disfigured head and face had to be lifted up forcefully to show through the window to the immigration officer at the Canada entry point, who wanted to compare them with the charming photo on my green card..
The handsome face of the officer resembled the Baltimore sky on our drive towards the airport.” Bringing your uncle from the hospital? The benevolent young man enquired.“No officer”, explained Ramu, ” from the tornado-threaten flight”” Can we move one now?”, the law-abiding citizen wanted to make sure, the answer for which was not obvious from the face of the officer .” Please carry on”, he mumbled in his anxiety to clear our file,, adding a casual note; please make sure that you carry with you that head and face too, peering from the back seat of your car”” I will”, confirmed my nephew, a qualified medical expert , with the relief of clearing a valuable commodity which was about to be confiscated. He had to answer two oldies waiting at home, without sleeping, to receive that commodity.”Bears, at times, peep through the woods,” Ramu’s father waiting to receive me at the gate of his house forgoing his sleep, mentioned after a warm hug, pointing his fingers towards the woods opposite to the house..
“The animals won’t be disappointed Ambi Anna”, I replied, the visible doubt on the face of the officer at the entry point, fresh in my eyes.
The old ones have to go and that is the law of Nature:
The prospect of another visit to Kerala with my siblings, this time mainly to participate in the ‘ther’ car festival at my ancestral village, Perinkulam, on 25/26 this month, excites me. Kindles my memory to the last trip some two years ago, when I cirumambulated the Divine chariot, following the idol of Lord Navaneetha Krishnaswamy majestically seated on a caparisoned jumbo, prior to His boarding the chariot for a procession to meet the villagers. I was holding a laminated board where the stothram ‘Namami nithyam Navaneetha Krishnam’ composed by me was written by hand. That board was later placed on the front wall of the temple and to my surprise and happiness it still hangs there and the temple priest during my recent visit told me, ‘Anna I never expected so many will read the stotram and recite reverently.The interest of the devotees prompted a good Samaritan to print a few copies”. He handed over to me a few print outs. A few more popular stotrams were there along with mine and the name below was not mine but that of the good soul who took the trouble of making the prints. That is OK. What is important is people are interested.
Another memory that surfaces in the mind, is my having a shoulder-ride on my father, after a memorable participation in the Kalpathy car festival, when I was a child. He crosses the river, raising his veshty above his knees, holding a sugarcane stick in one hand and holding me firm by the other, to ensure that I don’t slip and fall. A packet of ‘muttapori’ and ‘perichampazm’ (dates) is in my hand. There were several men and women returning from the village, enthralled by the festivities, crossing the river, whose water was muddy but the joy of me and hopefully of the other children too, was unstained. There were, among them, many familiar faces and I smile at some .
Recently I went to Kalpathy Village where I was born, and to Olavakkode where I was raised. Except one person, Siddique, son of our neighbor Hamsakka, there was no known face. Siddique of course, hosted me in his dormitory and we spent over an hour discussing the past.
‘Appu anna, don’t you want to see the building that has come up in the land you sold?” He asked me. I nodded my head to say ‘no’. I spent the first twenty years of my life in a big house, in that land. That was only a tiled house, double storied, what you call ‘nalukettu’ with a more than two hundred feet long hall, adjacent to it, where my father had a hotel. Children having no interest and me, compelled to live mostly in USA, that ancestral house had to be sold. I didn’t go there to watch its demolishing. Siddique did that job. Now a muti- storied concrete structure has come up there, I was told. The old ones have to go and that is the law of the nature. I am aware of it, but still I am sad. That is not good I know, because the old ones have to go and that is the law of Nature!
Guruvayoor has a unique place in my mind, in the minds of millions of devotees, in Kerala. When you enter that sacred temple premises, you forget everything, except of course, your wife, if she is accompanying you.
There is a silent flow of sanctity all over and you feel that it flows from the sanctum and after sometime you realize that your own soul is the source of that flow..”Eee then aruvi ennum vattaruthae Krishna !-
make this melody perennial, my Lord” was my only wish when I stood before Him for a few seconds, enjoying His divine form, though later, I realized that it was the internal divine flow, which mirrored the form of the Lord, as the time allotted to stand before the deity was too little to have a full few. The ambiance here awakens the dormant aspiration deep in our heart for being close to the divinity and we experience an unexplainable bliss and satisfaction of achieving a life-time longing. Our daily life, cramped in flesh, inextricably chained to earth, longs for fresh air, which the visits to holy places or dip in holy rivers provide, provided we are ready to absorb the flow from the Supreme Reality. For spiritual emancipation, knowledge in Vedasastras is not a must, though it might aid to some extend. But the knowledge that there is a Supreme Reality of which we are a part of, is required to prepare a fertile soil and that small land has to be maintained as clean as possible, to allow the Divine flow.
The devotees firmly believe that Unnikrishnan, the Lord Krishna, in the form of a child plays around the temple premises. Long ago, when I raised my head after a sashtangam, prostration in submission before the flag post, saw an elderly person standing beside me,who said, with eyes moist with devotion :” don’t knock your head so hard on this floor. Unnikrishnan is walking around here. You know the kid’ss feet are so tender that even Lakshmi, is careful, while pressing them with her soft, lotus-like hands”.
Sree Krishnan smiles, laughs, plays tricks, enjoys wearing good clothes and ornaments and behaves often like any of us. often cool, at times, emotional, angry, again like many of us. He never gives away boons, in a hurry, without thinking of the consequences like Brahma nor dances in the cremation ground, wearing an elephant skin, like Lord Shiva. He loves girls, all of them pretty, dances with them, plays tricks with them and carries one on his chariot and speeds up, when an arranged marriage was not possible. I think all these qualities, normal even for us, makes Him close to the heart of devotees.
Have you seen Brahma smiling or laughing despite having four faces? Or even Parameswara doing so ? How will Brahma smile or laugh when his position is shaky, on the petals of a tender lotus with a long tender stem emanating from the umbilicus of Vishnu on a serpent amidst the restless waves of an ocean? Wonder how he could involve in a whole- time job of creation, in a such a position. Do you need any other reason for the non -uniformity of his products? And how will Mahadeva smile, with one madam on his head and the other one occupying half his body. I stop laughing or smiling when my Ammalu comes 3-feet close to me and how will poor Sankara when both His wives, enslave him from the top and side, smile or laugh? And you know He is very old- mannered.
Instead of standing before the girl, who undergoes a severe penance, with all his weapons, in full height and glamor, He goes before Uma, in the disguise of a bramachary and waste time in doing kusalprasnam, formal talks.
” अपि क्रियार्थं सुलभं स्मिथकुशं जलानयापि स्नान विधिक्षमाणि ते
अपि स्वशाकत्या तपसि प्रवर्तसे शारीरमाद्यं खलु धर्मसादनं ”
” Are the samith, darbha grass and other materials required for your homajapams, available without much efforts for you, here? Is the water required for your bath easily available for you? You are straining much for your tapas . Please take care of your health”
Is this the way, though in disguise, a lover should talk to his girl at the first sight? And then He goes on speaking in self- degrading sentences :
“त्वमेव तावत् परिचिन्तय स्वयम् कदचिदेन यदि योगसंहित :
वधूदुकूलं कलहंसलक्षणं यचाजिनं शोनितबिन्दुवार्षि च ”
“Think for a while; will ever the blood-oozing elephant hide ( which is the drape of the one you seek ) be ever a match for your swan-designed, ornamental silk clothes ( you will be wearing for the wedding ?)
“वपुर विरूपाक्षमलक्षिता जनि : दिगम्बरत्वेन निवेदितं वसु
वरेषु यद् बालमृगक्षि मृग्यते तदस्ति किं व्यर्तमपि त्रिलोचने ”
” His ( Parameswaran’s) body is shapeless and He has an extra eye; His lineage is unknown; He doesn’t have even a cloth to wear. Has he a single attraction expected of a bridegroom in Him, Parvati, you, with the attractive eyes of an young deer?
And so on.
And poor Uma, instead of loudly saying,’no’ , or enquring whether ‘Parameswaran knows cooking, has he an MBA from A, B or C school or has he a green card or American citizen ship’, foolishly, submits:
” विभूषणोदभासि पिनद्रुभोगि वा गजजिनालंभि दुकूलधारी वा ,
कप्पली वा स्यादभवेन्दुशेखारं न विस्वमूर्थे रवधायथे वपु :”
The whole universe is His body; beyond any one’s comprehension is His form; Ornaments or snakes may be his adornments ; may be elephant hide or white silk; may be even skull or moon. Who can comprehend (the real nature of the Viswamoorthy ?”)
(I will marry Him and Him alone) . What will you do if your sister or daughter is uncompromising in her decision !.
Kumarasambhavam is unique Kaavayam . How decently Parameswaran speaks and behaves before Uma!
I participated in an Akshrasloka competition, while studying in SSLC and the prize awarded to me was that book, which showed me the way to the golden path of Sanskrit literature, thereby bringing ‘nithya ‘vasantham, perennial spring into my life.
But while standing before the sanctum of Guruvayoor, neither the Kumarasambhavam nor the divine couple, surfaced in my mind.
.”Eee then aruvi ennum vattaruthae Krishna !-make this melody perennial, my Lord.” was my only wish .
Let that celestial melody from His flute fill the soul of every one .
Love and regards,
Feb 7, 2013
I could have followed him silently, but as is my wont, enquire, “Anna, entha oor – you are from which village?”
”pallippuram. Nan than parameswara iyer, I am parameswara Iyer, grand father of the boy you met at the counter.”
A good start I thought, when I could hire an auto with meter, the moment I got down the Trichur Railway station, just paying a fee of Re. 1, in a counter across. I still consider the Vadkkunnathan, lord Shiva, the presiding deity of this town as my ‘annadaada’, feeder, as it was here that I started working, soon after my studies. The reminiscence of my starting earning and short stay in this lovely town, filled my heart with happiness when my vehicle circumambulated the temple garden with the shrine at its center. Paying a remote obeisance to Vadakkunathan ( as the temple was closed), I went to meet Chacku, my bachelor room mate and ex-colleague.
He was as excited as a child,meeting his classmates after the summer holidays, though I never miss meeting him, every time I go to Guruvayoor.
“Irikku- take your seat”, he said pointing out a chair next to him. I looked at him and wondered whether he was the same handsome six-footer, immaculately dressed, when he joined our team, fresh from the college, some three months after I entered the Trichur unit of the ‘Anaemia and Protein malnutrition’ project work, in 1959. When our Institute was shifted from Connor to Hyderabad in the end of that year, we too were transferred along with the local unit.On landing at the Secunderabad railway station, we took shelter in a lodge opposite and shared a room. For the bed bugs there, the young blood of ours, was a feast. Jacob temporarily shifted to YMCA . I was able to procure a good house, showing my sacred thread to the house owners to prove my Brahminhood, in a village close to our work place. I named it as ‘Panchavady’, when another four of my colleagues including Jacob, joined me. For almost ten years we lived together there and it was one of the most enjoyable periods in the life of all of us. Chacku was a decent gentleman in every respect, though that doesn’t mean that the others were neither decent nor gentlemen. He was always well-dressed, scrupulous, strict in his work, soft spoken and a no nonsense bachelor. One by one, all the inmates, except him, got married when we left Panchavadi. He still remains as a bachelor and lives alone in an apartment which he bought after retirement. It is well furnished but he doesn’t even prepare coffee and one of the hotels feed him, against payment.
While in service, he hardly used to look at the face of a girl and talk, though girls were plenty as our colleges. ‘He could have,’ I felt seeing him, living alone in his old age.
As we were meeting in the shadow of the passing away of our room mate, Nair, mostly we talked about him, when Chacku commented,” moonu vadi murinju- three stumps of panchavadi are down”, referring to the death of Emmanual, artist Darmadathan and Nair, who lived along with us in the ‘Panchavadi’
”Thanikku vallathum vannal, sahayathinnarenkilum unto- you have any one in case of an emergency?” I asked him, sadness, worry and anxiety, chocking my throat, on the plight of one of my bachelor room mates and long time friend and colleagues.
”Don’t worry on that account; I have a few relatives around here”. He consoled me.
I had a wash. He offered me cola which I didn’t want. Went for a short nap and when I got up, saw him meddling with my electric shaver.
”How useful is this?” H e enquired.
“Very useful,” I replied. No need of a brush or soap, just rotate the blades on your face and in a few seconds the job is over. Ideal for an idle person like me. Take it if you like. I will buy another one, when I go to USA shortly.”
”Get me one, when you come next time”.
I gave him a new wrist watch, which I had brought for him from America. He liked it, but liked the one which was around my waist better. I removed it and gave it him. He was as happy as a child receiving the gift of a toy . The one which I took back and wore on wrist was loose. He brought his tool box and spent half an hour to adjust the size of the chain to fit my wrist. Then he took me to an adjacent restaurant for food.
While leaving his apartment, he thrust a few small notes and coins into my shirt pocket. ” This will be helpful to you for your petty expenses”. He said.
I remembered my brother, Vicha, at ‘Anantha Jyothi’, who feeds me. He too handed over a few small notes and coins when I was leaving for my Kerala trip . ‘Anna, ithu vetchukko” He said the same words, as Chacku.'”This will be useful for your petty expenses”
The hearts of some are big. Pettiness is unknown to them. And that is how the world thrives.
Feb 3, 2013