Priest who changed New Moon Day to “Full Moon Day”!!


Written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1144; Dated 2nd July 2014.

Tamils bless newly married couple with auspicious yellow rice (akshathai) greeting them with the words “Let you get Sixteen and Long Live”. Even villagers people, though illiterate, know the ‘sixteen’ does not mean sixteen children, but sixteen essential things in life. Of the three Tamil poets listed the good things that needed in life the most famous sixteen came from a saitly devotee who composed a verse with all the sixteen essentials. It is part of Abhirami Ammai Pathikam- a decad on Goddess Abirami of Tirukkadavur in Tamil Nadu.

There is a very interesting story behind that poet. Subramanya Iyer was his original name, but became popular with the new name Abhirami Bhattar after a miracle. Subramanyam lived in the later part of the 18th century. His father Amirthalinga Iyer was a great scholar and musician. Subramanyam studied music, Tamil and Sanskrit. He did not seek any employment because his mind was after spiritual things. He became a great devotee of the local deity Goddess Abhirami, another name for Shiva’s wife.

He lived mostly in the temple meditating upon the glory of the goddess. After seeing his strange behaviour, people thought he became mad. King Sarabhoji of Thanjavur used to visit the temple. One day he visited the temple when all except Subramanyam paid respect to the king. The king became angry and asked who that arrogant fellow was. People gave him different versions, with both positive and negative things about Subramanyam. King wanted to test him and so asked him what day was it? Was it a full moon day or new moon day?

He replied at once, “It is a full moon day”. Actually it was a new moon day (Amavasya in Hindu calendar). The king thought that he deliberately insulted him and ordered that he should be executed if he did not show the moon on that day. The man who always saw the glorious light of the goddess thought that it was full moon. Later he realised his mistake and prayed to goddess to save him.


His prayer was a beautiful hymn with 100 verses. It is called Abhirami Andhathi. When he sang the 79th verse, goddess took off her ear stud and threw it in the air. And lo, the full moon appeared on the sky and bathed the village in bright light. He continued his composition and finished at 100 verses.

King Saraboji who was camping in the nearby town also saw the sudden light in the sky. He rushed to the temple and fell at the feet of Subramanyam and begged his pardon. The king honoured him with the title Abhirami Bhattar. Andhathi is a genre where the last word of the first stanza will be the first word of the next verse. It will go on like this up to 100. And the last word of the 100th stanza should be the first word of the first stanza! It is a garland of words to a God or Goddess.
Abhirami Bhattar composed also Abhiramai pathikam and prayed for the sixteen. The sixteen things he wanted are as follows:

Everybody needs a Happy Family.

English Translation

O, God of old Kadavur, Sister of Vishnu who is ‘sleeping’ on the ocean, who is inseparable from Amutheesar, O Abhirami, please bless me with the following:–

1)Good and Proper Education,2) Long life, 3)Good friends, 4)Prosperity forever 5)Youthfulness, 6)Disease free (healthy) body, 7)Calm mind (tranquillity), 8)Affectionate wife, 9)Children with good character 10)Name and Fame, 11)Truthfulness, 12)Philanthropy, 13)Theft free Wealth, 14)Good government, 15)Worry free life and 16) Association with your great devotees.

There is one more list of good things in Prabodha Chandrothayam. There is another list given by Kalameham, who is famous for poems with double entendre. It would be appropriate here to list two English poems that follow the Tamils in demanding good things in life:–

arusuvai uNti
Everone needs his Daily Bread!

A Prayer Found in Chester Cathedral

Give me good digestion, Lord,
And also something to digest;
Give me a healthy body, Lord,
With sense to keep it at its best.

Give me a healthy mind, good Lord,
To keep the pure and good in sight;
Which, seeing sin, is not applauded,
But find a way to set it right.

Give me a mind that is not bored,
That does not whimper, wine and sigh;
Don’t let me worry overmuch
About the fussy thing called “I”.

Give me a sense of humour, Lord,
Give the grace to see a joke;
To get some happiness from life,
And pass it on to other folk.

By an Unknown author

We need lot of money!

One more list:

What We Need

A little dash of purpose,
An effort made to cheer,
A little more of courage,
And less of doubt and fear;
A little more of lifting,
And pulling all our weight,
A little less of leaning,
And leaving it to fate.

A little less of grabbing,
Of selfishness and greed,
A little more of helping,
A fellow that’s in need;
A little more of working,
With smiles instead of frowns,
A little less of kicking,
A fellow when he down.

A little less complaining,
About the things that mar,
A little more adapting,
To all the things that are;
A little more of caring,
And willingness to fight,
A little more of daring,
For what we feel is right.

A little splash of humour,
To brighten up the way,
A little joy to follow,
And linger through the day;
A little touch of laughter,
To cause a little mirth,
Is simply what we’re needing,
To gladden this old earth.

Hope Spencer

about life

Let us all pray for the Sixteen!!
(Pictures rae taken from facebook and various websites;thanks).