WRITTEN by London Swaminathan 


Date: 16 April 2018


Time uploaded in London –  15-51 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4921


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.






GAYATRI Mantra/hymn is the most powerful mantra in the Rig Veda and it is found in other Vedas as well. It is a great wonder that mantra which reverberated on the banks of River Sarasvati and later Sindhu (Indus) and Ganges is still chanted by millions in India. While Brahmins only were chanting in those days and in recent years, great saints like Chinmayananda and Sathya Sai baba made it popular among other communities as well.


The meaning of the Mantra is

Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine vivifying Sun (light) and May He enlighten us.

There are lot of Mantras/hymns on Ushas (the dawn):

Immortal Ushas, please by praise

What mortal may enjoy they days!

Who, mighty one, can reach thy place!

Rig Veda 1-30-20


The parallelism of thought is very remarkable, between the general Vedic concept of Ushas with the lines of blind poet Milton.


Compare the following lines on Ushas (Dawn)


English poet, though blind, sings about light in the following lines:


“Hail, holy light, offspring of Heaven first born,

Or of the eternal, co-eternal beam

May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,

And never but unapproached light

Dwelt from eternity, dwell thou in me,

Bright effluence of bright essence increate

Or hear’st thou rather, pure ethereal stream,

Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the sun

Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice

Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest

The rising world of waters dark and deep

Won from the void and formless infinite.

Paradise Lost, Book 3


The Rig Veda says

Fair as a bride embellished by her mother thou showest forth thy form that all may see it

Blessed art thou, O dawn. Shine yet more widely. No other Dawns have reached what thou attainest.


Rich in cattle, horses, and all goodly treasurers, in constant operation with the sunbeams,


The Dawns depart and come again assuming their wonted forms that promise happy fortune.

Obedient to the reins of Law Eternal give us each thought that more and more shall bless us.

Sine thou on us today, Dawn, swift to listen. With us be riches and with chiefs who worship.

RV 1-123


Upanishads say,

To the illumined soul the Self is all. For Him, who sees everywhere oneness, how can there be delusion or grief?

–Isha Upanishad 7

The whole world is illumined by His ilight.

–Sveteshvatara Upanishad 6-14


Milton also said God is Light (see above)




JEWISH (RABBIS) JOKES ! (Post No.4918)

WRITTEN by London Swaminathan 


Date: 15 April 2018


Time uploaded in London –  21-54 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4918


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.








Converted to New Religion and yet No Office!


A place hunter in Prussia (part of Old Germany and Poland), having asked the Frederick the Great for the grant of some rich Protestant Bishopric (office), the king expressed his regret that it was already given away, broadly hinted that there was a Catholic abbacy at his disposal.


The applicant managed to be converted in a week and to be received in the bosom of the true church; after which he hastened to his friend, the king, and told him how his conscience has been enlightened.

“Ah”, exclaimed Frederick, “how terribly unfortunate! I have given away the abbacy. But the chief rabbi is just dead, and the synagogue is at my disposal; suppose you were to turn Jew?”



Rabbis in Zoo!

Applying for a post as keeper at the Bronx Zoo, a burly Irishman came to the question,

What is rabies and what can you do about it?

The applicant wrote: :Rabies is Jewish priests, and you cant do anything about it.”


(Rabies= a contagious and fatal viral disease of dogs and other mammals; transmissible to humans through the saliva to humans causing madness and convulsions;

Rabbis= Jewish religious leader, scholar, teacher).



Rabbi is Stupid!

A certain Jewish man had left Pinsk to go to work in Minsk. For six months, he had been away. He had a short vacation and was very anxious to get back home to see his wife and children It was late on a Friday afternoon, however, and his friend said,

Look, you shouldn’t travel on the Sabbath. It is against religion. Stay over with me until the Sabbath is over. Be my guest.”

No said the other, I am anxious to get back to Pinsk. Six months I have been away.

Six months, said his friend, so what is another day? You shouldn’t travel on the Sabbath. Stay with me. I have got a nice house. I will give you nice Jewish meals.

After much argument, the man yielded against his better judgement, and remained over the Sabbath. Even then his friend would not let him go ad insisted on detaining him yet another day, entertaining him practically to exhaustion. At last he announced his departure.

I can’t stay another minute. I am going right away.

All right, said his host at last, and as his friend was about to leave the house he presented him with a bill for food and lodging. Outraged, the man cried, What kind of a business is this? You make me stay against my will; you won’t let me go. You insist that I should be your guest. You keep me overtime – then you give me a bill! I won’t pay it.


Equally firmly, his host insisted that he must pay. Finally he said, All right. We will consult the Rabbi.

They sought out the Rabbi. He heard the whole story, stroked his beard and pored at length over the Books of Law. At last, after recapitulating, the whole case, he delivered his verdict: you must pay.


The victim flew into a rage. They thrashed the case back and forth many times. But the rabbi was adamant: you must pay.

At last, weary and desirous only of getting to Pinsk, the man drew out his wallet and paid the money, demanding a receipted bill. His friend took the money, receipted the bill, and then handed the money, receipted bill back again saying ‘Forget it!’


What! screamed the other in despair. You force me to be your guest; you wont take no for an answer; you keep me there; you give me a bill; you drag me to the rabbi; he tells me I must pay; I pay. Now you give me back the money. What is this?

Ah, said his fried, I just wanted you to see what kind of a stupid person we have got for a rabbi n Minsk.





Written by London Swaminathan 


Date: 9 April 2018


Time uploaded in London –  20-43  (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4899


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.







There are many famous trees in Tamil Nadu. Some are famous because of its age or due to its holiness. The banyan tree in Adyar, Chennai is famous because of its huge size. It is damaged in several storms.

There are two holy trees in Perur near Coimbatore. They are called Iravap Panai and Piravaap Puli. In Tamil it rhymes very well. The rough translation of the words is The Palmyra Tree that never dies and the Tamarind Tree that is never born.

The story about the Palmyra tree is that its bark is used in medicines which will give one a long-life span. There is another explanation about its never dying nature.


The story about the Tamarind tree is that its seeds never grow. Even if it is sown it never germinates. It looks like both are not tested scientifically. But the belief is strong that the devotees visit the trees when they visit the temple.

There is a philosophical explanation as well. One would never be born again if he sees the Perur Lord Shiva like the Tamarind seed in the temple. And similarly devotees believe that those who worship Lord Shiva at Perur Temple will live for long.

So whether the trees have miraculous properties or not, the philosophy behind the trees teaches more than many philosophical works.

Neem Tree by Lalgudi Veda

In other words, William Wordsworth’s words have come true:

One impulse from a vernal wood

May teach you more of man,

Of moral evil and of good,

Than all the sages can.


Kadamba Tree


Inside the world famous Meenakshi Sundareswar Temple in Madurai, still a tree is preserved inside a fence. It is a Kadamba tree, the local temple tree (sthala Vrksha). Once upon a time Madurai area was a forest of Kadamba Trees and then a Pandya king built a temple in the area when the devotees reported some miracle inside the forest.


Mango Tree Inside Kanchi temple.

At the Ekambareswar temple in Kancheepural there is a livin mano tree which is considred very old. Its age is given between 3500 and 5000 years. Though it is not possible scientifically one tree after another might have been planted using the seeds of the same mango tree.


Vridhachalam: 1700 year old Vanni Tree

In Vridhachaam there is a Vanni Tree inside the Pazamalainathar Temple which is said to be 1700 year old. It is possible they used the same tree for continuous propagation.


Every temple in Tamil Nadu has a holy tree known as the Sthala Vrksha (local Temple Tree). It is heartening to note that Tamils had this custom of cultivating or raising a particular tree in every temple.


Famous Tamarind Trees

I have already written about the famous Tamarind Tree of Nammalvar, another tree associated with Tirumanagai Alvar, real ghost in Tamarind tree according to Sri Anantharama Dishitar and the Tamarind tree associated with Tansen (See below for the links to my old articles.)


Tansen and Tamarind Tree! Ghosts in Tamarind … – Tamil and Vedas…/tansen-and-tamarind-tree-ghosts-in-ta…

26 Mar 2016 – STORY OF FAMOUS TAMARIND TREES. 1.There is atamarind tree in Gwalior at the tomb of Tansen, the great singer of Moghul period. People believe that whoever chew the leaves of the tree will get a sweet voice. This, they believe due to the presence of the tomb of Tansen.Nammalvar and Tamarind …

Nammalvar | Tamil and Vedas

People believe that whoever chew the leaves of the tree will get a sweet voice. This, they believe due to the presence of the tomb of Tansen.Nammalvar and Tamarind Tree. 2.There is another famous tamarind treeat Azvar Tirunagari in the far south of Tamil Nadu. Maran Sadagopan, later known as Nammazvar, one of the …


Trees of Wisdom | Tamil and Vedas


Magic of Trees! Picture shows Newton under Apple Tree. Hindu Saints composed Upanishads under the Himalayan Trees. Buddha attained wisdom under the Bodhi Tree. Vaishnavite saint Nammalvar attained wisdom under a Tamarind tree. Sanatkumaras attained wisdom under the banyan tree. Saivaite saint …


sacred trees | Tamil and Vedas

6 Nov 2017 – The famous Bodhi tree in Gaya (Bihar, India) and its sister trees in Sri Lanka, Tamarind tree of Tansen and Nammalvar, Banyan Tree of Lord Krishna and Panchavati (five Banyan trees) of Lord Rama are some examples. There are hundreds of trees like these throughout India Every Tamil temple has a tree …

tree worship | Tamil and Vedas

The famous Bodhi tree in Gaya (Bihar, India) and its sister trees in Sri Lanka, Tamarind tree of Tansen and Nammalvar, Banyan Tree of Lord Krishna and Panchavati (five Banyan trees) of Lord Rama are some examples. There are hundreds of trees like these throughout India Every Tamil temple has a tree worshipped in its …



Adi Shankara & Alangium hexapetalum | Swami’s Indology Blog

20 Aug 2013 – Adi Shankara, the greatest philosopher of India uses lot of similes from nature to illustrate Advaita philosophy. In one sloka he used four birds. I have written about it in my earlier post. One of his interesting observations is about a tree called Ankola in Sanskrit, Alinjil in Tamil andAlangium hexapetalum in …


Adi Sankara and Andal | Tamil and Vedas

But there is a strange coincidence between Andal and Adi Shankara.Andal has

composed two poems Thiruppavai and Nachiar Thirumozi. Adi Shankara mentioned a plant known as Azinjil in Tamil and Ankola in Sanskrit, in his hymn Sivananda Lahari. Though Andal did not mention this plant in her hymn Nachiar …










COMPILED by London Swaminathan 


Date: 8 April 2018


Time uploaded in London –  15-59 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4895


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.







Learned Tamil scholar V R Ramachandra Dikshitar compares the Doll festival in Andal’s Tiruppavai, Manikkavasakar’s Tiruvempavai, Sangam Tamil Verses Tai Neeratal (bathing in the month of Thai) and Ambavatal of Nallanthuvanar (in Sangam Literature work Paripaatal).


Tamil Mystic poetess Andal’s celebrated work ‘Tiruppavai’ refers to Paavai Nonbu. Young girls observe Pavai Nonbu for thirty days in the Tamil month of Markazi (corresponding to December and January). They follow strict rules and bathe in the morning and go to temple or banks of the river and make sand dolls of Goddess).

Andal Kolam

V R R Dikshitar says,


“The commentator of Tiruppavai Periyavaacaan Pillai speaks of this festival as ‘Sistaacaara’, and no ancient authority could be cited in tracing out its origin.


The same festival is also referred to in the Tiruvembaavai of Tiruvadavuuraar (Manikkavasakar). Whatever might be the origin of this festival, that it was celebrated by one and all of the unmarried girls is evident.

Story behind Pavai Festival

The story goes that once when Lord Vishnu was living in human form as Krishna, there were no rains. At that time the cowherd women began to pray to the Lord. One form of prayer was the celebration of Markazi (December-January) Nonbu by the unmarried girls. Early in the morning these girls went to the river Yamuna, took their bath, and prayed. They also wished to have Krishna Himself as their husband.

(My comments: That is the literal meaning. But the meaning behind the words is someone with the qualities of or virtues of the Lord. It is a festival for rains is evident in the lines of Andal “there will be three rains every month and plenty of paddy crops”)


Evidence in Bhagavata Purana- Katyaayani Vrata

A more or less similar version of the story is found in the Bhagavata Purana (Life History of Krishna). From this it would appear that this Nonbu (fating) went by the name Kaatyaayani Vrata for these girls said to worship the goddess Katyayani ( in the form of sand dolls) who would help them in securing Krshna as their husband (i.e.a man with divine virtues). The Puja asted for a month and on the last day, the Lord appeared befor them and after a rigid test agreed to fulfil their wishes (Dasama skanda ,Chapter 22). We know even today orthodox Brahmins performing Dhanurmasa Puja. They get up very early in the morning, bathe in the river and offer worship. Worship is also offered in all the temples before sunrise in the month.

(My comments:- Why did our forefathers chose a cold month for this fasting? People tend to sleep more, covering their head to foot with woollen shawl, and becoming lazier. So our forefathers found a way out by inventing or allocating this for the coldest month in the year. The second interesting point is to go in group to a river or tank or lake nearby for the bath. The communal spirit will keep them warm and they can make more fun which is evident in Tiruppavai lines—girls mocking or teasing other girls who are still in bed. The third point is scholalrly one:- Lord Krishna says that he is Month Markazi among the 12 months giving it foremost importance. The real meaning is that it was the beginning of the year several thousand years ago. i.e during the Rig Vedic days. B G Tilak and German scholar Herman Jacobi dated Rig Veda between 4000 BCE and 6000 BCE on the basis of astronomical remarks in the Vedic Hymns. Some scholars believe that Markazi (December / January was the beginning of the year; it is still followed in the Western world. January came from Lord Ganesh- Janus – a two faced God in Roman mythology; meaning is saying good bye to the year gone and welcoming the new year with another face. Ganesh= Janus )

In Tamil Sangam Literature

The religious observance is not unknown to the Sangam literature. It is known as Tai Niiraatal, literally bath in the month of Tai (Tamil month Tai corresponds to January-February).

The evidence is in the 2000 year old Sangam literature in the following books:

Paripaadal St.11.1.17

Kalittogai 59, 80

Aingurunuru 84

Narrinai 22

The festival was perhaps begun on the full moon day of Markazi and continued up to the full moon of Pushya. According to the calculation of the Puurnimanta system the month of Markazi after the fifteenth is considered as Tai.

(My comments: Andal’s very first verse mentioned the full moon day in Markazi; It is also interesting to see all the full moon days are celebrated as festival days according to Hindu calendar; in those days, we didn’t have bright electric lights; so people used all the natural light available on full moon days – 24 hour lighting from sun and moon)

Lalgudi Nataraja

New name in Sangam Literature- Ambaavaatal

Nallanthuvanar, the author of Paripaadal designates this festival as Ambaavaatal. According to this authority, the festival commenced with the Tiruvadirai  (Star- Arudra) day of the month of Markazi. In his days the Vedic Brahmins were engaged in Agnihotra rites when the girls after their bath in the River Vaiagi (Madurai is on the banks of Vaigai) also worshipped the fire god in order that seasonal rains might visit the land and they might secure good husbands.


It is believed that the present festivalof Arudra Darsanam or Tiru Adirai was celebrated in the month of Mrakazi in the Tamil and Malayalam districts is a relic of this ancient practice of Pavai Nonbu.


(My comments:- Tiruvadirai is celebrated on a grand scale in Kerala even today. Girls bathe, wear new clothes and flowers and dance in groups. Special dishes are made. In Tamil Nadu it is a big festival day in all the Siva temples. When the climatic conditions changed naturally two festivals merge together. We see such things in Easter and Christmas festivals in the Western world; pagan rites merge with Christian beliefs.)

Tiruvadirai dance in Kerala

Pavai Nonbu was a vow observed by un married girls. This practice of religious austerity was sacred to the goddess Katyayani. It was a belief then by the grace of Katyayani the young girls could get suitable husbands for themselves so that their lives could be peaceful and happy. What is remarkable is that it is being observed every year both by the followers of Vaishnava and Saiva cult.”


Page 301 and 302, Studies in Tamil Literature by V R R Dikshitar.


— Subham–





Written by London Swaminathan 


Date: 6 April 2018


Time uploaded in London –  10-05 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4889


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.







Hinduism has many stories to show that God can come in any form- human or animal, high caste or low caste people. One must have the maturity and purity to recognise Him. Two stories are very familiar which illustrate this point. Let me summarise them for those who have not heard the stories.


Adi Shankara, the greatest philosopher India has ever produced, was walking to holy river Ganges in the early morning for a bath. When he finished his bath, he was returning with his disciples. There came a low caste Chandala (an outcaste) with four dogs in front of him. Normally the low caste people keep away from holy men and the they come out after he holy men had gone. Contrary to the usual practice, this Chandala stood in his way refused to move. When Shankara asked him to move out of his way, he challenged Shankara asking some philosophical questions. Whether Shankara wanted the physical body or the atman (soul) residing in everyone to move away. Then Shankara realised that the person who was there was nothing but Lord Shiva himself and the four dogs were nothing but four Vedas.


There is a similar story in Tamil devotional literature. Somasi Nayanar was one of the 63 saints (Nayanmars) canonised in Saivite literature. He was famous for doing Soma Yajna and so he was called Somayaji (Somasi in colloquial Tamil). He wanted to perform a Yajna (fire sacrifice) and invite Lord Shiva in person. But he knew that it was not that easy to bring Shiva physically. He knew about Sundramurthy Swamikal, one of the Four Great Saivite saints, who is very close to Lord Shiva. To make very good friendship with Sundrar, he started supplying a special type of spinach (green) called Tuduvalai to him. Sundarar liked that greens very much. Suddenly he stopped the supply of Tuduvalai and so Sundarar’s wife Paravai started inquiring about it. Then the supplier Somasi Nayayan was brought into her presence. Using that opportunity, he requested Sundarar to bring Lord Shiva to his yajna. Sundarar was non -committal but told Somasi that he would pass the message to Lord shiva and get back to Somasi with Shiva’s reply.


Lord Shiva told Sundarar that he would definitely visit the Yajna with his retinue and whoever is devoted would see him. This message was conveyed to Somasi as well. On the day of Fire Sacrifice the whole crowd was waiting to have the darshan (seeing) of Lord Shiva. Time was running out and nothing happened in the sacrifice. Just before the finale, what is known as Purnahuti, a low caste man and his wife with four dogs came towards the sacrificial shed (pandal) Everybody was shouting at him and warned him not to pollute the area. He did not listen to any one and proceede straight with a pot of toddy was hanging from his waist. When Somasi did not prevent him entering the shed, the priests ran away from the place. And Somasi knew that it was Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati with the four Vedas in the form of four dogs. He presented them the Purnahuti and Lord readily accepted that and blessed Somasi and his family.


Somasi was born in a village called Ambal, which is not far from holy town Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. Every year this episode was enacted there in a festival. Lot of people attend the event.

There are many such stories in Hinduism where God came in different forms. Shankara’s episode and Somasi’s episode are typical examples to show that there is no caste differentiation in front of God. All are equal before God.





Poor Preacher, Baptist Fish, Fool’s Signature- More Interesting Anecdotes (Post No.4866)

Poor Preacher, Baptist Fish, Fool’s Signature- More Interesting Anecdotes (Post No.4866)


COMPILED by London Swaminathan 


Date: 30 MARCH 2018


Time uploaded in London –  7-45 am (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4866


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.





Poor Preacher!

Jerome D.Engel, the famous Baptist preacher, was once vacationing at a well -known shore resort. One of the local churches had expected to have its pulpit filled on Sunday morning by a “supply” or visiting minister. At the last minute, the visitor was unable to appear, and the church found itself with no one to conduct the services.


The leaders of the church scurried around distractedly in search of a preacher, and were unable to find anyone. At last to chancing to hear of the presence in town of the eminent divine, one of the church members sought out Engel and begged for his



Delighted and relieved, the committeeman said, “You know, Dr Engel, we’d have been willing to accept a poorer preacher, but it was impossible to find one.”



Fool’s Signature

Reverend Henry Ward Beecher entered Plymouth Church one Sunday and found several letters awaiting him. He opened one and found it and contained the single word, “Fool”. Quietly and with becoming seriousness he announced to the congregation the fact in these words:

“I have known many an instance of a man writing a letter and forgetting to sign his name, but this is the only instance I have ever known of a man signing his name and forgetting to write the letter”.




More Repentance!!


xxx Bursting with her news, Mrs Meadows hurried to her neighbour’s house.


Have you heard, Mrs Smith? The minister’s son has decided to become a jockey. Of course you know that he was supposed to go to the Theological Seminary this year.


Mrs Smith, more of the woman of the world than her friend, replied drily,

Well, I must say that he will bring a lot more people to repentance that way than he would as a minister.




Baptist Fish

Jerome D Engel, the famous Southern Baptist divine, was strolling along the sea walk during a Church Convention at Charleston. He came upon an old colored man who was fishing from the pier. For some time Engel watched the Negro patiently waiting for a bite. At last he pulled in a fish of repulsive appearance, seeming to be something between a toad and a bullhead. Knowing little about so worldly a matter as fishing, Engle asked,

What kind of fish is that, George?

“Dey call it a Baptist fish”, croaked the old man.

“A Baptist Fish? inquired Engle sceptically.

“Sho”, answered the fisherman, throwing his catch back into the sea,

“ Dey calls dem dat ‘cause dey spoils so fast after dey is taken out of water”.



Specifications of a Good Minister!

The Reverend Doctor Edgar Dewitt Jones propounded the specifications of a good minister (preacher):

“He should get religion like a Methodist;

experience it like a Baptist;

be sure of it like a Disciple;

stick to it like a Lutheran;

pray for it like a Presbyterian;

conciliate it like a Congregationalist;

glorify it like a Jew;

be proud of it like an Episcopalian;

practise it like a Christian Scientist;

propagate it like a Roman Catholic;

work for it like a Salvation Army lassie;

enjoy it like a colored man.”






COMPILED by London Swaminathan 


Date: 29 MARCH 2018


Time uploaded in London –  14-48 (British Summer Time)


Post No. 4862


Pictures shown here are taken from various sources such as Facebook friends, Books, Google and newspapers; thanks. Pictures may be subject to copyright laws.





Heaven and Hell Deal

A new clergyman in town sought the services of the best local physician, a man irregular in his church attendance. The medical treatment was prolonged, and the young pastor, worried over the accumulating expense, spoke to the doctor about the matter of his bill.


I will tell you what I will do, Pastor, said the doctor.

I hear you ae a pretty good preacher and you seem to think that I am a fair doctor. W will make a bargain. I will do all I can to keep you out of Heaven and you do all you can to keep me out of Hell, and it wont cost either of us a cent.

Sunday Amusement

Henry Ward Beecher asked Park Benjamin, the poet and humourist, why he never came to preach. Benjamin replied,

Why, Beecher, the fact is, I have conscientious scruples against going to places of amusement on Sunday.


People’s Voice went against Jesus!

John Wesley, in a considerable party, had been maintaining with great earnestness the doctrine of vox Populi vox Dei against his sister. At last the preacher, to put an end to the controversy, said, I tell you sister, the voce of the people is the voice of God.

Yes, replied his sister mildly, “it cried: Crucify him! crucify him”.


Zeal and Vigour!!!

A young minister who was temporarily filling a city pulpit made the following request in his prayers:

May the brother who ministers to this flock be filled full of fresh veal and new zigor”

Christian Life

Can I lead a good Christian life in New York City on $15 a week? a young man once asked Dr S Parkes Cadman.

My boy, was the reply, that’s all you can do


Illiterate preacher!

I am thankful that the Lord has opened my mouth to preach without any ‘larning’, an illiterate preacher.

A similar event took place in Balaam’s time, replied a gentleman present.


Religious Dispute

John Wilkes was once asked  a Roman Catholic gentleman in a warm dispute on religion:

Where was your religion before Luther?

Did you wash your face this morning? inquired the facetious alderman.

I did ,sir

Then pray where was your face before it was washed?


Idiot’s Vocation

Sydney Smith, the clergyman, had a combat of wit with a friend. His defeated antagonist intending to cast a slur on Smith’s vocation, fired back,

If I had a son who was an idiot I would make him a parson.

Your father was of a different opinion, was Sydney Smith’s answering thrust.





Written by London Swaminathan 



Date: 25 MARCH 2018



British Summer Time uploaded in London – 21-39


Post No. 4850

Pictures shown here are taken by london swaminathan






I was in India between 5th March and 12th March, 2018. I visited five famous Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu in five days. First day and last day of my stay was spent on shopping and visiting friends and relatives.


I visited Siva temples in Mypalore/Chennai, Tiruvakkarai, Virudhachalm, Vaitheeswaran koil and Chidambaram.

Of the five the Shiva temples at Tiruvakkarai and Tirumudukundram (Virudhachalam) are not as famous as Chennai Kapleeswarar or Chidambaram Nataraja temple or Vaitheeswaran Koil and falls under the category of not much visited temples. So I would like to give some information about the two  temples in bullet points.


Both the temples are very ancient and at least 1400 years old because they were sung by the Saivite saints.

Tiruvakkarai Temple


Tiruvakkarai Shiva temple is unique in many ways.

God’s name- Chandra Mouleeswar

Goddess’ name – Amirteswari

Sthala Vrksha- Temple Tree Vilva/ Bilva

Sung by Tamil saint Tiru Gnana Sambandar, who lived 1400 years ago.

Easily accessible from Pondichery or Viluppuram


The unique feature of the temple is that we have shrines for Goddess Vakra Kali and Vishnu.

Another unique thing about the main idol is that this is a beautiful Shiva with three faces.


The Dwajasthamaba, Nadhi and the main shrines are not in one straight line. In other temples we can see perfect alignment.

As usual the Sthala Purana (local mythology) has lot of stories. Like other temples, here there is a saint’s Samadhi. Kundalini Muni died (attained Siddhi) here and as usual a Sivalinga was erected on the place of his burial.


There is a 100 pillar hall (mandap) with decorted Chariot and horses.

The linga is called Mukhalinga. It has got Siva’s three faces. This is a very unique idol. The three faces known as Agoram,Tat purusham and Vamadevam get different Alankaram (decoration) with three different ingredients at three different times of the day.


Virudhachalam Temple


God’s name- Pazamalainaathar

Goddess’ name – Virudhambikai

It is located near Viluppuram

Sung by three Tamil saints.

Vanni Tree is the Sthala Vruksham (Temple tree)


Virudha Giri Eswarar’s temple is at least 1400 years old and it was praised by the three great Saivite saints.


The hill is considered holy and it is circumambulated by the people on Full Moon days. The tree here is said to be very ancient.

Vinayaka/ Ganesh shrine in underground is unique.

Virudha means very old or ancient; it is believed that the temple did not get affected even during the deluge.


When I went around the temples wall paintings were half stripped or spoiled. A huge temple with lot of sculptures. The sculptures at the entrance are similar to Sri Mushnam temple. So the same architects or sculptors must have worked here. Almost all the temples in the region were renovated by the Chozas, Vijayanagara Empire kings or the Hoysala Kings. So we can see similar structures.


Here also we have a Mandap (hall) designed like a chariot pulled by the horses.


The chains of the Temple car were donated by Charles Hyde during the British rule.



Last but not the least, the meaning of the words Pazamalainathar, Virudhdha Giri, Mudu Kundram in Tamil all indicate this hill and temple are very ancient.

In most of the Shiva temples the idol is considered Swayambhu—that means it was a spontaneous appearance. We can look at it from another angle. Siva Linga is worshipped because it indicates formless God. So when the ancient Hindus such spontaneous outbursts or projection on the hill or rocks, they would have worshipped is as the formless God. Such rocks naturally millions of years old. As  the years rolled each kingdom would have added something new. So it is scientifically right to say such rocks or Siva Lingas are millions of years old.













Written by London Swaminathan 



Date: 24 MARCH 2018



Time uploaded in London – 15-00


Post No. 4847

Pictures shown here are taken by london swaminathan







Recently I read one interesting anecdote in the Tirukkovilur Tapovanam (year 1999)  magazine about Vallalar Ramalinga Swamigal, who established Sathya Gnana Sabhai in Vadalur.  Swami Gnanananda of Tapovanam was said to have lived for 150 years. He never boasted about his age or  his personal matters. Casually he remarked to his Bhaktas/ devotees the following incident:


“ When I  was with Ramalinga Swamikal, he asked his devotees to erect a Pandal (thatched shed) in front of the building. It was erected beautifully well with lot of decorations, more than what he expected. So when Vallalar came to that spot again, he asked who erected it. Someone mentioned the name of the gentleman.

Vallalar was surprised and asked did Mr…………… erect it?

The next minute the thatched shed was burnt to ashes.

The reason being the man who erected the shed was a non-vegetarian. Sri Ramalinga Swamikal, who is known as Vallalar was a strict vegetarian and he advocated Vegetarianism more than the Jains.

Who is Ramalinga Swamikal?

He was born in 1823 in Chidambaram and attained immortality in 1874. He went into a room and dis appeared as a flame (Jyoti). I have explained the phenomena called spontaneous combustion of Hindu saints in another article written some years ago in this blog. Many famous Tamil saints have become fire and merged with God.


Vallalar established his Ashram called Sathyagnana sabhai in Vadalur in Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu. It is not far from Chidambaram. He was attributed with various miracles, which I have already dealt with in my articles. His book of hymns known as Thiru Arutpa is in very simple Tamil and beautiful rhythmic language. He has sung about all the Hindu gods. He was an epitome of his teachings.


He was a great believer in herbal medicines and herbal food. He taught his disciple that one could live a longer life with such herbs. Hundreds of different herbal preparations are sold in Vadalur.

In the temple or Ashram, every day prayer is held in front of the seven curtains. During Thai Pusam day (the full moon day in January) lakhs of people visit Vadalur to have the Jyoti darsan. Vallalar disappeared on a Thai Pusam day.


Free Food 24 Hours!

The Sikh Gurudwaras have Langar where one can have food at any time of the day. There is no bar on caste or creed. In the same way Vallalar Centre at Vadalur serve food to anyone all through the day. The ovens in the kitchen have been burning for about 150 years and they have never been put off. Whether one believes in his miracles or not, this can be seen with our own eyes.

I met an interesting Man


When I and my brother entered the Ashram, one person with Vibhuti  on his forehead came to us voluntarily and started talking about the greatness of Vallalar. We thought he was going to ask for money or donation. But he was very nice and  introduced himself as Nama Sudhama. Vallalar was not a Brahmin and this gentleman was also not a Brahmin. I was wondering about his name. He explained his name that was  in pure Sanskrit. Sudhama was his name and had added the prefix ‘Nama’ later  because he liked Nama Sivaya very much. He took us around the centre, the kitchen and the ever- burning oven. He gave us herbal coffee (sukku Malli Coffee) which is placed in a public place and anyone can drink it. He told us a fact that not all the people taking food there are after Vallalar’s teaching, but some came there just for the food.


My brother who was interested in herbal products asked the gentleman whether he can buy herbal products from any shop. Nama Sudhama explained beautifully well that there satya (truth) rules and so no one tells a lie. When we asked him whether he was working in the centre he said he used to cycle all his way to the centre from a nearby village to serve the people coming to the Ashram. We thanked him and asked  to  take us to the book shop. I bought a Thiru Arutpa book (see the details below) and said good bye to him.

When we were discussing Vallalar’s hymn where the word ‘Uttamar’ (good people) occurs, he asked us to name one Uttamar. We were dumbfounded and could not answer his question. We told him that Ramana Maharishi, Rama Krishna , Swami Vivekananda and Kanchi Paramacharya (1894-1994) belonged to that category. But we dare not name anyone now because they live in closed buildings unlike the great old Rishis.


We went around the centre and the nearby Samadhi of Vallalar’s devotee (Kalpattu swami). We tasted some sample of food. The atmosphere there was serene and lot of elderly people were waiting for food. We can see many boards explaining the merits of the herbal medicine and there are many shops selling them.


About the Seven Curtains (from Wikipedia)

Around 1872 he established the Sathya Gnana Sabai, hall of True Wisdom Forum and ensuring it was entirely secular . This place is not a temple; fruits, flowers are not offered, and no blessings were given. It was open to people of all castes except those who ate meat, who were only allowed to worship from the outside. He wrote in detail about the pooja to be performed in Gnāna sabai. Those who are below 12 years or those who are above 72 years alone were expected to enter Gnāna sabai and do poojas. The oil lamp lit by him is kept perpetually burning. He said that our soul is blinded by seven veils.[11]

There are seven cotton fabric screens, representing the seven factors that prevent a soul from realizing its true nature. The entire complex is bound by a chain with 21,600 links, said to represent 21,600 inhalations[12] by a normal human being. He said intelligence we possess is Maya intelligence which is not true and final intelligence. Path of final intelligence is “Jeeva Karunyam”. He advocated a casteless society. Vallalār was opposed to superstitions and rituals. He forbade killing animals for the sake of food. He advocated feeding the poor as the highest form of worship. He condemned inequality based on birth. Today there are spiritual groups spread out all over the world who practice the teachings of Swāmi Rāmalingam and follow the path of Arul Perum Jothi.


Why did I go to Vadallur?

I went to Vadalur Vallalar Ramalinga Swamigal centre in the first week of March, 2018.  I have been waiting to visit Vadalur for several decades. The reason being the very first prayer I learnt at the age of five in the primary school was a poem from Vallalar Arutprakasa Ramalinga Swamikal. The second reason is my father taught me along with several Sanskrit slokams, Vallalar’s Tamil poem on Lord Ganesh (munnavane, yaanai mukaththavane). The third reason is one Mr Mahadevan in Sambadhamurthy Street of Madurai, who was a drama actor used to come to our house now and then and used to sing ‘Arut Jothi Deivam enai andukonda Deivam’ in beautiful Raga. The same was repeated by Musicologist and Musician Dr S Ramanathan and his daughters when we lived in the same building in Goodshed Street of Madurai. Last but not the least was my SSLC examination text book had his poem ‘Orumaiyutan Ninathu……………


Recently, when I visited the Hindu prisoners in one of the prisons in England, one prisoner, to my surprise, asked for the Tiru Arutpa hymn book of Vallalar. So my copy in London was given to him as a gift. Now the prisoner is released. I wanted to get one more copy.


The poem I was taught at the age of five in Yadavar School, North Masi Street, Madurai was Kallaarkkum Katravarkkum Kalipparulum Kalippe……………… Whatever you learn at that tender age remains ever green in your mind; still I can repeat it. But the Vishnu Sahasranama and Rudram (Yajur Veda), Pursha Suktam (Rig Veda) etc have not entered into my mind; I could not have recite them without book.


Long Live Vallalar’s Name and Fame!!!





Written by London Swaminathan 



Date: 23 MARCH 2018



Time uploaded in London – 15-22


Post No. 4844

Pictures shown here are taken by london swaminathan




I visited Sri Mushnam temple in the first week of March 2018 and amazed to see the beautiful sculptures.

Some facts about the temple for future visitors:


Where is it?

Very near Vridhachalam (Virudhachalam) in Tamil Nadu. Easy to travel from Chidambaram.


Who is the presiding deity?

Sri Bhuvaraha swami/ Vishnu in Varaha avatara- with Goddess Ambujavalli (Lakshmi).


Varaha Avatara (boar incarnation) is one of the Ten famous Avataras of Lord Vishnu.

Whose temple is this?

Though it is very ancient, we have records from Vijayanagara Empire and Hoysala times.


What is the special features of this temple?

Beautiful sculptures with women’s hair do. The plait of the hair in some of the statues are very natural.

Devotees believe Lord Vishnu in three forms in this temple—Bhuvaraha, Bodhi/ Asvatta tree- Ficus religiosa and Nitya pushkarani- the tank.


During festival times, the deity is taken to a mosque in a nearby village and the Muslims pay respects to the god.


Colourful Tower


The tower is a seven storeyed one with colourful sculptures and on the top there are nine Kalsas.

The murti/ staue is accompanied by Bhdevi and Sridevi


The temple entrance has lot of carvings identical to Vridhachalam temple. Both must be constructed by the same sculptors.

Danda Theertham (water source) was made famous by Madhavacharya and people from Karnataka and other states visit this place during special festival the Theertham.


Significance of the Statue

The main statue is believed to be a Swayambhu (spontaneous appearance). It is made up of Salagrama. The meaning is fossil stone with the impressions of sea creatures. Hindus—particularly Vaishnavites—respect all the fossil stones with when and conch impressions as the form of Vishnu. In other parts of the world, these fossils are valued by the geologists and palaeontologists. They tell the story of the earth.


Here in Srimushnnam, it might have been an ancient stone with such symbols and later sculpted in to Bhuvaraha.


Another significance of this place is the birth place of one of the  Shankaracharyas of Kanchi Kamakoti peetam, samadhi of one of the Ahobilam jeeyars and the theertham established by Sri Madhwacharya.

There is a Shiva temple as well.

Geologically, historically and by religious Sthala puranas (local religious history) this is a very ancient place.


But it is not sung by the famous Tamil Vaishnavite saints- Alvars.


The sculptures at the gate show several dancing postures, which reminds one of Chidambaram temple.


One must do some research comparing these dance mudras in Chidambaram, Virudhachalam and Srimushnam.



Kuzanthai Amman Shrine

Another unsual thing about the temple is there is one Goddess shrine called Kuzanthai amman shrine (kuzanthai = baby).

Those who wish for issues pray here. There are seven goddesses (sapta matas) under a neem tree.


Every temple as some special features. The idol in the main shrine itself is unique. In other places Lord Vishnu appar with four hands with Conch and Wheel (Sanga, Chakra). Here he holds both of his hands on his waist reminding Panduranga.


You may hear many more specialities from the Bhattacharya/ priest when you visit the temple.


Every temple has a special prasada (eatable) and this temple has special laddu.


Like all the Nayak temples of Madurai, Tiruvannamalai, we have 1000 pillar Mandap/hall here.

16 Pillar Mandap

In all the Nayak temples we have 16 pillar mandap; here we have one Purushasukta mandap where Vedic recitation is held. It is aid that like the music pillars of Nayak temples, we can hear musical sound here with the help of stones. There are beautiful Yali (mirror image of Leo= leonine= lion like) and knights. All the sculptures in the temple are unique and beautiful.

Mandapa= hall