Are you a Beggar? Beg only of God!!

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Article No. 2105

Written by London swaminathan (தமிழில் மொழி பெயர்ப்பு)
Date : 28 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 9-47 am

A Sadhu (saint) living in a forest wanted some money for repairs to be done to his hut. He therefore went to the nearby kingdom so as to request the king to provide him with necessary funds. He entered the palace and enquired where the king was so that he could see him. The minister in charge of the palace asked him to sit for a while in the waiting room as the king was at prayers. The King’s Prayer room happened to be in the adjoining the one in which the sadhu sat. Now the sadhu could distinctly hear the king praying,

”Oh Lord of the universe, I appeal to You to grant me more wealth and prosperity than what I have now. Deign to shower your grace on me so that this prayer of mine be fulfilled.”

On hearing this, the sadhu suddenly got up and started to go. The prayer being over, the king came to the waiting room just at the moment the sadhu was leaving .The king asked the sadhu why he came and what he wanted.

The Sadhu replied, “I came to request you for some money for reconstructing my small hut in the forest. But I heard your pray begging to God for more wealth and more prosperity. I find you are a beggar like myself. So I felt no purpose will be served by asking for anything from a beggar like myself. I prefer on the other hand to directly approach the same Supreme God to whom you appeal for help”.

So saying the sadhu left.

The King and the Slave! Punctuality and Reliability!!

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Article No. 2103

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 27 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 19-58

Here is a story on Punctuality, Loyalty and Reliability!

A king had a slave serving him with all faith and love. In fact the slave adored his master and was ever ready to please him in all manner of ways. The king appreciated his lovable nature and made him a minister in his court. He gradually raised him to the position of his Prime Minister. Seeing his rise to the biggest position under the king, the other ministers, who had served long in the state, becoming envious of the slave, grumbled and complained. All of them joined together and went to the king in deputation with the complaint. The king heard them patiently and said, “Exactly a week hence all ministers including the prime minister should meet me in the green rest house five miles away from the city, at four pm sharp. He who would meet me first would be considered to have real love and regard for me.

Soon after, he sent for the prime minister and, after telling him what he said to the ministers, asked him to build houses, camps and shamianas on both sides of the road that led to the distant garden where the ministers had to meet him as arranged. In the newly constructed camps and houses, all kinds of entertainment, shows etc. should be exhibited besides lines of shops and restaurants providing the most tempting foods and articles – the condition for meeting the king was all those who go to the garden house should do so on foot.

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The day came. The prime minister along with the other ministers started on the journey. When they walked on the road leading to the place, except for the prime minister, all other ministers were tempted to see the shows, witness the entertainments, visit the restaurants, etc. as all these could be had without payment. They thought that there was plenty of time to reach the place where they were to meet the king. Leisurely, they went from one place of entertainment to the other. Time passed. The prime minister, without looking to the left or right walked straight to the garden where the meeting was fixed, reached there an hour before schedule. The other ministers reached the place half an hour late, or one hour late. Some of them failed to be there at all.

The next day, the king called all the ministers and addressed them thus,

“Now you all know why I made this slave (pointing to him) a prime minister. He is a man possessing sterling qualities for the high post. Ministers hung down their heads in shame and unanimously applauded the king for his choice of the PM.

So also, God’s devotees, when they possess genuine love and devotion for him, never think of anything or anybody other than God. They take the straight course that leads to him and are not drawn away by the attractions and temptations of worldly pleasures.

–Story as told by Swami Ramdas.

Islamic Militants destroyed ‘Indra Temple ‘ in Syria ?

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Baal Shamin in Palmyra, Syria

Research Article No. 2098
Written by London swaminathan
Date : 25 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :–  16-18

Newspapers around the world have flashed the news of destruction of the temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra, Syria. Those who read about the attributes to Baal Shamin can easily see the similarities between Baal Shamin and the Vedic God Indra.

First of all, we must remember that Syria and Turkey were ruled by the Hindus once. We already know that the oldest archaeological evidence for Vedic Gods came from Bogazkoy in Turkey. We also know the Sanskrit names of Kings Dasaratha, Pratardhana etc who ruled Mitannian empire in the Middle East. All of them existed before 1400 BCE.

Baal = Sanskrit “Paala” = protect, rule, maintain

Baal is a common Semitic noun that means ‘lord’ or ‘owner’, but it occurs quite frequently in ancient texts as the proper name of an important god. Baal was one of the widely known deities in the west Semitic pantheon. He was associated with aspects of the natural world that were central to agriculture and society.

All these attributes are similar to Indra’s. We add Indra with lot of words such as Rajendra (Tamil Choza king), Khagendra (King of birds eagle), Mrgendra (King of Beasts Lion), Nagendra (King of Snakes) etc. Baal is cognate to Paala in Sanskrit meaning protector, maintainer, ruler, Lord etc. We have Go+pala, Indra pala, Raja pala.

In short Indra, Pala, Baal – all mean Ruler, Chief, Lord and one who maintains. Like Hindus add Pala or Indra or Eswar (Lord) with all local Gods, Middle East people added Baal with all the local gods. Baal Hadad was the most popular one.

Like we used Indra to mention a particular deity or used it as suffix to many more, they used ball as local manifestations of the god (Eg. Baal Sidon, Baal Shamin, Baal Hermon, Baal Peor), but it was also used in its general sense to refer to other deities as well.

For example, Lord Shiva has over 300 different names in Tamil Nadu towns (Sundareswar in Madurai, Ekambareswar In Kanchi, Brhadeswar in Thanjavur). Similarly goddess Parvati has 300 different names in Tamil Nadu temples (E.g.Meenakshi in Madurai, Visalakshi in Kasi, Kamakshi in Kancheepuram, Neelayathakshi in Nagappatinam and so on)

Baal appears in Near Eastern texts in 3000 BCE, but he was best known from his prominent role in Ugaritic Literature (1250 BCE). The latter contains over 500 references to Ball, who was said to live on Mount Sapnu/Zaphon, north of Ugarit. It is like Mount Meru or Mount Kailash of Hindu literature.

Bible links Ball with Goddess Ashtoreth (Ishtar=Durga)

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Ball =Thunder God = Indra

Throughout the Ancient Near East, Ball was viewed as a Thunder God like Vedic Indra. He was associated with thunder, clouds, lightning and rain like Vedic Indra. As a Canaanite deity of weather and fertility, he was linked with the annual return of vegetation, similar to Indra Festival.  From Nepal to Tamil Nadu, Indra Festival was celebrated 2000 years ago every year. Now Nepal and South East Asian countries only celebrate this as Water Festival every year.

According to Ugaritic mythology Baal has to fight with his brothers Yam (sea) and Mot (death) for supremacy. Like Baal is a cognate to Sanskrit word ‘Paala’ (ruler, lord, maintainer) Yam is cognate to Sanskrit word Thoyam (water) and Mot is cognate to Sanskrit word Mrtyu (which gave birth to English words mortal, immortal etc).

Till the spread of Christianity in the 3rd or 4th century, Baal was worshipped. In numerous passages the Bible records a long term, intense animosity towards Baal and those who worshipped this deity (eg. Numbers 25; Judges 6; I Kings 18; Hosea 2 in the Bible). Later Baal’s attributes merged with Yahweh (Psalm 68:4) where Yahweh was said to ride on the clouds and to manifest his power into thunderstorm (Psalm 29).

In short, the concept of Nature God found in Rig Veda, the oldest literature in the world, spread to various parts of the Middle East and took its own forms in the course of 2000 years.

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Palmyra Temple destroyed by Islamic Terrorists!

 

Baal Shamin was built in 17 AD in Palmyra and it was expanded under the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian in 130 AD.

Known as the “Pearl of the desert”, Palmyra, which means City of Palms, is a well-preserved oasis 210 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Damascus.

Its name first appeared on a tablet in the 19th century BC as a stopping point for caravans travelling on the Silk Road and between the Gulf and the Mediterranean.

But it was during the Roman Empire — beginning in the first century BC and lasting another 400 years — that Palmyra rose to prominence.

Before the arrival of Christianity in the second century, Palmyra worshipped the trinity of the Babylonian god Bel, as well Yarhibol (the sun) and Aglibol (the moon).

Baal Samin was first mentioned in a treaty between the Hittite king Suppiluliuma and Nigmadu II of Ugarit. His epithets include Lord Of Eternity. He leads the list of deities like the Vedic God Indra. By Hellenic times he was equated with Zeus in the Greek pantheon and Caelus (sky) in the Roman pantheon. Zeus is Indra according to several scholars.

Story of a Bridegroom who changed his mind suddenly!

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Article No. 2096

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 24 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :–  16-22

“All living beings will raise their hands in worship to him who has never taken a living being’s life and has abstained from eating meat: – Tirukkural couplet 260

Nemi was a prince of Shauripur. His father was King Samudra Viajy. Nemi was betrothed to Rajul alias Rajmati, princess of Jungarh. Her father King Ugrasena made elaborate arrangements for the marriage. Both the kingdoms were celebrating the royal marriage with all the usual  decorations and music bands.

On the day of the marriage, Nemi was taken in a big procession with music, elephants, camels and professional dancers. Nemi was travelling in a decorated chariot. Nearer to the wedding hall Nemi heard lot of cries from the animals. He was very curious to know what was happening. Immediately palace officials told him that the cries came from the animals that were bought for the wedding feast. The very thought of slaughtering those animals for a feast made a big impact on his mind. Suddenly he left the procession saying that he did not want to get married. He asked the charioteer to turn it back and drive towards Girnar Mountains which was a holy site for many people including the Jains.

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There was a big commotion in the wedding hall. When his would be wife came to know the reason for the commotion, first she felt disappointed and sad. Then slowly wisdom dawned upon her mind. She thought if it could bring happiness and peace of mind to the Prince why shouldn’t I try that too. She also went to Girnar and became a Jain nun.

This Nemi was the celebrated 22nd Tirthankara of the Jain religion Neminath. He is considered to be a contemporary of Lord Krishna. There are many references to Aristanemi (Neminath) in the Vedic literature. Though the story of Nemi-Rajul wedding is not found in the Hindu literature it is found in the Jain Uttaraadhyayan Sutra. His story is illustrated with pictures.

Later Rajul- Nemi story formed the basis of love poetry as well. Later day poets used this story to describe the pains of separation between Nemi and Rajul. According to the later versions Rajul did not become a Jain nun immediately after the bridegroom joined the Digamber sect of the Jains, but waited for long. Some books described that she waited for 51 days and decided to become a Jain nun.

Stories of Rajul and earlier Upanishad stories of Gargi and  Maitreyi show that women saints or nuns were there from time immemorial. Later, other religions followed this system. Emperor Asoka’s daughter Sangamitra was accompanied by hundreds of Buddhist nuns 2300 years ago.

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Nemi’s story also illustrated that vegetarianism is one of the basic principles of ascetic life. Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar in his Tirukkural says,

“How can a man be compassionate who, for the purpose of increasing his own flesh, eats the flesh of other animals” – Kural couplet 231

 

“Grace or sin results from non-killing or killing respectively; it is sinful, therefore, to eat what is obtained by killing” – Kural 254

But one must remember Tiruvalluvar and other saints prescribe vegetarianism only for ascetics, not for common man. Even Asoka, a Kshatria by caste, never stopped killing after embracing Buddhism. He ordered to reduce the consumption of meat according to his rock edicts.

Hindu and Jain saints were strict about vegetarian food. Hindu ascetics, before taking the saffron robes, stood in the water and took a vow not to harm any living creature by word, thought and deed.

Buddhism was not that strict and Buddha Bhikshus eat meat; according to many of them, killing is not good, but meat eating is not a sin.

You become what you think!

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Article No. 2094

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 23 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 15-55

In a school, a teacher was giving lessons to a class. He noticed that one of the boys was not attentive to the lessons taught. His mind seemed to be somewhere else. The teacher asked the boy who he was so inattentive. The boy admitted that he was not in the lessons.

He had a bull in his house which he loved so much that he was always thinking of it alone when away from the house. The teacher then asked the boy to go to the hill nearby, sit there and think of the bull as long as he liked.

The boy accordingly sat on the hill consecutively for seven days, thinking only of his beloved bull. After seven days he felt he had no more to think of the bull and so decided to attend his class. He went and waited outside the class.

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The teacher from the class-room asked him to enter the class as if he had done with the meditation on the bull. The boy replied that he was not going to the hill anymore but he could not enter the class-room as his horns were too long to allow him to pass through the door. By constant thought of the bull, the boy felt that he had become the bull itself. Such is the power of the concentrated thought. By this concentration on the bull, he came to believe he was the bull. Whereas a man, whose real nature is already divine, can attain Divinity more easily be fixing his mind on god in meditation.

Please read my previous article with six stories:-

AMAZING POWER OF HUMAN MIND, Posted on 5th June 2011

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God alone provides

God is the great provider and supporter of all living beings and creatures in the world. Man in his ignorance thinks that without his initiative and effort nothing could happen. He leaves God totally out of account thinking that he acts and moves by his own will and power. Whereas the universal power of God is responsible for all activities in the world, whether in men, animals, plants or other moving objects.

An ignorant man who was under such an illusion was traveling once in a train with his bag.  As soon as he sat in a carriage and the train started, he took his bag and placed on his head.  He thought his bag would not be with him unless he carried on his head.  Such was his folly. The entire burden of the universe is borne by God and we think that our little burden must be carried by ourselves.

–Subham–

Evolution: Monkey to Man! Some Anecdotes about Ancestors!

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Article No. 2090

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 21 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 15-18

It is a common belief that mankind evolved from the monkeys. But the fact of the matter is man did not evolve from apes like gorillas or chimpanzees but he shares a common ancestor with them. Since there many missing links in the evolutionary ladder, still it debated by the biologists. There are some interesting anecdotes about ANCESTORS.

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Abraham Lincoln’s Ancestors

Speaking of his ancestry Lincoln once humorously remarked, “ I don’t know who my grandfather was, but I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.”

Alexandre Dumas and Baboon!

The elder Dumas was once interviewed by an enterprising reporter, who like many other admirers of the novelist, was curious about his ancestry. “Is it true that you are a quadroon, M.Dumas?”, he asked.

“I am, sir,” Dumas replied.

“So your father……….?”

“Was a mulatto”

“And your grandfather…………?”

“Was a negro.”

Dumas’ patience was running out but the reporter was a bold man. He continued: “And may I inquire who your great- grandfather was?”

“A baboon, sir!” thundered Dumas. “A baboon! My ancestry begins where yours ends!”

((Quadroon : a person who is one quarter black by descent.

Mulatto : a person of white and black ancestry.

Alexander Dumas was famous for his novels and stories such as Three Musketeers. His novels were translated into 100 languages. 200 feature films were on his stories. He wrote 100,000 pages in his life time.))

CONGO - CIRCA 2008: stamp printed by Congo, shows Olive baboon, circa 2008

   CONGO – CIRCA 2008: stamp printed by Congo, shows Olive baboon, circa 2008

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Mark Twain’s Ancestor!

The story is told that Mark Twain was once a guest of an Englishman who took him, with some pride, into a manorial hall hung with huge tapestry depicting the judging of King Charles the First. The host placed his fingers with great pride upon the figure of one of the obscure clerks of the court and said, “An ancestor of mine.

Twain, always offended by such ostentation, casually put his finger upon one of the judges seated on the tribunal and remarked, “An ancestor of mine but it is no matter, I have others.”

ROMANIA - CIRCA 1960: stamp printed by Romania show Mark Twain, circa 1960.

ROMANIA – CIRCA 1960: stamp printed by Romania show Mark Twain, circa 1960.

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To a man who had proudly said, “My ancestors came over in the Mayflower,” Will Rogers retorted, “My ancestors were waiting on the beach.”

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Two Stories: Differences between Donkey’s Work and Dog’s Work!

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Article No. 2088

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 20 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 20-39

Each one can perform a particular task better than others. Not all are equal when it comes to work. This is because of their innate abilities or training. Two dog and donkey stories illustrate this point. I posted earlier “can we learn Mantras from Printed books?” Sringeri Shankaracharya answered this question with a story (See at the end)

There are two folk tales in Tamil:

One day a donkey thought, “ I work harder than the dog in this house. But the dog is going in the car with my master. It rests on his lap all the time. It plays with him. He even kisses the dog with all his affection. It goes into every room in the house. But I am not allowed inside the house. I am not given the same treatment. There is no democracy in the house. There is no equality; there is discrimination. I must challenge it. So it keenly watched the behaviour of the dog. It was playing on the bed of his master. Now and then he hugged it, patted it and kissed before he fell into sleep. When the dog went into another room, the donkey entered master’s bed room. He didn’t notice its coming into his room. So it took a bold step. It did not wait for master’s hug or kiss! It went near him and kissed him with his big donkey lips. He woke up and got angry. He took his walking stick and thrashed it. It ran out braying loudly. It felt very sad and decided to have a word with the dog next day.

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Story 2

In the morning, the dog and the donkey had a friendly chat. “Hey, Doggy! What makes it you closer to our master them me? Yesterday I tried all the tricks I learnt from you but I was beaten blue and black. The dog laughed and said that it may be due to the nature of the job they were doing. Then the donkey said that it wanted to swap the work with him for a day and try what happens. The dog readily agreed. That night the dog went into sleep and the donkey guarded the house. Master of the house was unaware of this new arrangement.

Unfortunately, the thieves broke into the house that night. Donkey faithfully remembered what the dog said to him. Dogs used to bark when strangers come into the house. So I must wake the master now. And so it started braying loudly. Master woke up in the middle of the night and came out. He saw the donkey only. The thieves had run away by that time. Again he took a big stick and thrashed the donkey. Poor donkey couldn’t understand its ‘ungrateful’ master. Next day it handed over the duty of guarding the house to the dog and went to its routine work.

Better is death in one’s own duty (Svadharme Nidhanam Sreyah)– Bhagavad Gita 3-35

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Following story is from my post on 5 November 2013

Are the Mantras only for particular Castes?

A gentleman who accepted the efficacy of mantras in helping concentration of the mind had other doubts in the matter.

His Holiness Sachidananda Siva Abhinava Narasimha Bharati Svaminah(33rd Jagadguru) of Sringeri Mutt (from ‘Goden Sayings’) answered his questions:-

Gentleman: I do not understand why certain Mantras are allowed only for members of particular castes or persons in particular stages of life and are prohibited for others.

His Holiness: Only if a person for whom a particular Mantra is prescribed pronounces it, it is a Mantra; otherwise it is mere a sound.

Gent: How can that be? Is not a Mantra only a collection of sounds?

HH: A mere collection of sounds will not be a Mantra. It will be a Mantra only if pronounced by a person qualified to pronounce it.

G: How so?

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HH: In answer to your question, I shall relate a story. In the days of old, a Naik Chief had a petty kingdom of his own and was guided by a Brahmana minister. He learnt that the high intelligence and capacity of the minister was due to his devoted repetition of the sacred Gayatri Mantra and felt impelled to ask him to initiate himself also in that Mantra. The minister however declined to do so. But there happened to be a poor Brahmana cook in the Royal establishment for the benefit of Brahmana guests and the King managed, by threats or bribing, to persuade him to impart to himself the Gayatri.

In a mood of exultation at his success, he proclaimed to the minister in the open court that he had learnt the Mantra. When the minister said that it was not possible, he repeated the words of the Mantra. The minister immediately denied it was the Gayatri. The King grew suspicious of the cook and sent for him and asked him to repeat it. He did so and the King at once pointed out that that was just what he himself pronounced. The minister however persisted in saying that it was not the same thing. The King naturally concluded that the minister was under some temporary mental aberration when he chose to deny a patent fact and attended to his other business.

After some time, the minister suddenly and in loud tones shouted to the bodyguard pointing to the King, “Give him two slaps on his cheek”. This confirmed the king in his opinion about the mental condition of the minister, but when the latter repeated the same command more than once, the king became angry and said to the bodyguard, “Give him two slaps on his cheek”.

The guard immediately gave a strong slap on the minister’s cheek. Then the minister said to the King, “This is the difference. I pronounced the same words as you did but they bore no effect but the same words from your lips had immediate effect and resulted in an injury to me. If a person like myself pronounces the same words, they not only do not amount to a command but have the contrary effect of bringing punishment on myself”.

In the same way, a combination of sounds becomes a Mantra only when it is communicated by an authorised person to another qualified under the Shastras to get it. This explains incidentally why people who claim to have learnt Mantras from printed books are never benefited by them. On the other hand, such procedure has the decided effect of reducing the faith of ordinary people in the efficacy of Mantras. When even qualified recipients have to submit to various restrictions in the repetition of a Mantra, how can we expect any result, other than any undesirable, if it is resorted to by incompetent people in quite a light manner? The Shastras alone are our guide in such matters and must be strictly adhered to.

From ‘Golden Sayings’,1969 publication by Sri Jnanantha Grantha Prakasana Samiti, Thenkarai, Madurai District.

Folk Tale: Haste makes Waste

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Article No. 2085

Written by London swaminathan
Date : 19 August  2015
Time uploaded in London :– 19-44

Indian villagers are very clever; they may be illiterates, but they are full of age old wisdom. Indians could hardly tell a story without introducing some proverbs into it.  They taught high principles through stories and proverbs.  For every proverb they have several stories. It differs from region to region and language to language. Here is a story about a parrot and a poison tree.

A king was very fond of parrots. He raised lot of parrots in his palace garden. One day all the parrots from the king’s garden flew to the paradise. There they found a fruit that will give back the youth to anyone. One of the parrots picked up one seed of that miraculous tree and gave it to the king. The parrot told him to plant it in the garden so that the king can eat it when the fruit comes. King became so happy and he placed the parrot in a special golden cage and looked after it very well.

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The king did plant it in the garden and the tree gave fruits in a few years’ time. King plucked one fruit from the tree and gave it to an old man to see whether it brings back the youth to that old man. But he died immediately. The reason was that an eagle that killed a poisonous snake pecked at the fruit. So the fruit was poisoned. But the king did not know it. Without trying to find out the cause of death of the old man, the king became very angry and thought that someone set the parrot to kill him by giving a poisonous fruit. He went to the special cage, took the parrot and dashed it to the ground. The parrot had a miserable death.

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A few months later, a farmer decided to kill his wife because she became very old and ugly. Since he knew the story of the poisonous tree, he picked up a fruit and gave to his wife with the intention of killing her. To his surprise, she suddenly became a beautiful 16 year old girl. In those days any valuable item found or any unusual miracle happens, immediately the person reports it to the king. Kings used to reward them for such things. So he ran to the king and reported the miraculous fruit tree to the king. Now the king realised his mistake in killing the parrot. The parrot was right about the fruit tree. But the king acted in haste. He regretted his hasty action.

சௌராஷ்ட்ரா சமூகம் பற்றி சுவையான விஷயங்கள்

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Article No. 2081

by London swaminathan

Date : 18 August  2015

Time uploaded in London :–  காலை 8-21

மதுரை, பரமக்குடி, சேலம் முதலிய பல ஊர்களில் வசிக்கும் சௌராஷ்ட்ரா சமூகத்தினர் குஜராத்திலுள்ள சௌராஷ்ட்ரா பிரதேசத்திலிருந்து வந்தனர். இவர்கள் பெரும்பாலும் பட்டு நூல், சேலை தயாரிக்கும் நெசவு வேலைகளில் ஈடுபட்டதாலும், அக்கலையில் கை தேர்ந்தவர்கள் என்பதாலும் இவர்களை பாமர ஜனக்கள் ‘பட்டுநூல் காரர்கள்’ என்று அழைப்பர். சுமார் 400 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன் இவர்களில் ஒரு பிரிவினர் பிராமணர்கள் என்று உரிமை கொண்டாடியவுடன் ஒரு விவகாரம் தலை எடுத்தது. அதை ஸ்ரீரங்கம் பட்டாசார்யார்கள், எப்படி தீர்த்துவைத்தனர் எனபனவெல்லாம் பிரிட்டிஷ் லைப்ரரியில் கிடைத்த கீழ்கண்ட பழைய புத்தகத்தில் உள்ளது. படித்து மகிழ்க.

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Hindu Festivals in London!

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Kerala special Jandai Vadhyam by Malayalees in London in front of the Skanda (Murugan) Chariot

Article No. 2063

Written by London swaminathan

Swami_48@yahoo.com

Date : 11  August  2015

Time uploaded in London :–  14-53

Hindus in London enjoy the four months from June to September. It is not because of summer alone, but because of lot of Hindu festivals organised during that period. From Hare Krishna Rath yatra in June to Janmashtami in September, there are lot of Rath  Yatras (Chariot Festivals) and big festivals. Lot of singers, dancers and speakers come to London and remind the Hindus of their hoary tradition and culture. It gives the Hindus plenty of opportunities to wear their traditional dresses and celebrate it as they celebrate in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

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There are over 25 Hindus temples run by Tamils in London. More temples are there run by Swaminarayan followers. There are other Hindu temples run by speakers of Hindi and Punjabi.

Hare Krishna temple in Watford (Greater London) celebrate Janmashtami when 10,000 Hindus visit the temple. I have already posted the Chariot Festival by ISKCON which was attended by thousands of Hindus in central London. Ram Navami procession in Southall is famous as well. Deepavali procession in Wembley (Brent) attracts a big crowd. Floats and decorated chariots come in the popular procession. Since Diwali falls in winter months, lot of celebrations happen inside the halls. British Prime Minister gives a party. Every Deepavali, Hindu Forum of Britain arranges a meeting inside the Parliament building in London. Ministers and MPs belonging to different parties participate in it with great enthusiasm. The Annakut festival arranged at the famous marble temple of Swami Narayan in Neasden, London attract a huge crowd. In the past few years more Swaminarayan temples have come up in Stanmore, Kingsbury and other places.

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Hare Krishna Rath Yatra in Central London

Apart from London, Balaji temple in Birmingham, Hindu temples in Leicester, Coventry, Manchester and New Castle upon Tyne have their own annual events. Swamijis (Hindu ascetics) belonging to various Gujarati sects visit London to give discourses. Sri Vallabh Trust also has a branch.

Scores of Sathya Sai Bhajan centres are there in every Petah (Council) of greater London. There are at least two Shirdi Sai Temples in Wembley and East Ham.

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Children dressed as Radha Krishna in front of the ratha/chariot

Mahalakshmi Temple in East Ham has bought a land and building a big new temple in East ham nearby its present location.

Saivaite Hindus have formed an organisation of their own temples and conduct annual festival in London. Scholars from India and Sri Lanka address the Hindus.

Since I have attended almost all the above events, I have the personal experience which is unforgettable. Foreigners also throng these places and taste our food. Every time a Hindu procession or event organised I see thousands of cameras flashing. Curious onlookers ask about the significance of the chariots and our customs.

Missions like Ramakrishna Mutt, Chinmaya Mission, Divine Life Society, Isha Foundation, Art of Living Foundation and hundreds of Yoga Teaching Centres, St James Sanskrit School are doing remarkable work.

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Professor Anantharaman Bhajan at Chinmaya Keerti, London

Since Chinmaya Mission activities are in English with Sanskrit background, lot of youngsters attend their activities. Moreover they are not sect based and so all sections of Hindus attend their events. Swamijis of Chinmaya Mission visit London at least twice a year to give a spiritual feast. At least thousand people listen to them every day.

Swami Narayan temple in Neasden is a big tourist attraction. Since they have huge parking facilities and a restaurant attached to the temple, School children with White and Afro Caribbean backgrounds visit the temple almost every day during school term time.

Durga Puja is organised by the Bengali Hindus on a grand scale and Ganesh Chaturthi is organised by the Maharshtrians every year. They get special permission to do the immersion ceremony of the idols in Thames River outside the city.

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Chinmya Mission Swaranjali group with Sprom from Europe: Mozart to Hanuman Chalisa symphony

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Swami Tejomayananda, Head of Chinmaya Mission Talk on Ram Gita in Central London.

Though one cannot have the same atmosphere of Mahakumbha Mela of Prayag or Janmashtami of Brindhavan or Rath Yatra of Puri or my home town Madurai Meenakshi Temple Chitra Festival, in London, at least we are reminded of our past golden days back home.

(NB. My list above is not comprehensive. I might have left some of the important events or the places.)

All the pictures are taken by me.

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London Murugan/ Skanda chariot in East London

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Women used to carry burning pot in their hands as part of their vow, Lewisham Adi Vel Chariot

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Traditional Tamil Pipes and Drums in front of the Chariot procession, Lewisham, London

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All Women Powered Chariot Procession in Lewisham Adi Vel There (Chariot Procession)

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Saivaite Conference Bannaer with Bull and Om Namasivaaya

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Tamil Hindus offer Coconut, Banana, Betel Leaves and incense Sticks to God.