Superstition can even go to the extent of killing, though it is really difficult to decide what superstition is . My firm belief , may be superstitious for you. Even atheism is condemned as madness by some.
Superstition has killed people before and it is a pity it continues to kill even now when science and technology has much advanced. The recent report on the unbelievably cruel Killing of two grown up girls by their own parents , is heart- breaking . They were not uneducated people from a backward area. They were highly qualified. Even illiterate poor won’t commit such a heinous crime . But the parents thought they were performing their duty !!. You and me condemn their action as unpardonable but they feel they have done a noble task- yes, killing their dear daughters! That was what even those who encouraged widows to jump into the last pyre of their diseased husbands, too thought . That was those who killed animals before some deities too thought .
There were and still are prevalent what I call superstition but was a belief for my ancestors . One such is the spasm of eye lids or other body parts . My mother believed that twitching of her left eye was harbinger of some bad events. She used to worry that ‘something bad was happening ‘ to me in the far away Hyderabad and pestered my father to send a post card to find out that I was Ok . If she were alive now she would have still believed so, but her anxiety wouldn’t have lasted long as cell phones and FaceTime facilities are available now. ( the point to be noted is that as a mother she thought and worried about her son and not about herself or even about my father!!)
This belief (which I don’t have ) was there in our country from time immemorial. May have some reasons for that which I’m not aware of .
When Anjaneya entered Lanka, says a Malayalam poet :
ജനക നരപതി മകൾക്കും ദശാസ്യനും
ചെമ്മെ തുടിച്ചിതു വാമഭാഗം തുലോം
Janaka narapathi makal- King Janaka’s daughter. Sita
Dasaasyan. One with ten heads -Ravana
Vama bAgham – Left side
( Remember- VAmae bhoomisudhapuracha HanumAn —)
When Hanuman entered the gates of Lanka, for Sita Devi and Ravana, their left body parts had spasm( indicating good thing was going to happen to Sita and bad for Ravana)
During my young days ( not now 😐) while walking behind young ladies( unintentionally 😐) I used to wish and pray that my right eye(or any right part of my body 😐) should flutter but the spasm was always on the left !
I haven’t seen before, the world in such a desperately gloomy state as now. Thousands of innocent lives are just wiped off in no time, like animals and birds caught in a wild fire, leaving behind their families heart-broken . The tragic part is that the patients know they are dying ; they know their kin won’t be anywhere near them in their last moment and even their dead bodies would be approached with fear and hesitation.
Unparalleled agony! Is that all our bodies worth ?
Yes, to be truthful, our body sans life is worthless though we treat it with some respect till dumped beneath the ground or burnt to ashes! It is a mark of dignity which humanity retains for itself as our treatment , good or bad, is immaterial to the body, as it is lifeless!
The Pang of seeing such scenes is all the more heartbreaking for me, as I having seen here, in the normal course, dead bodies decorated and lead to the grave yard with great honor by friends and relatives gathered in large numbers wearing coats and boots. The parade of motor vehicles for a funeral is akin to a wedding procession.
And now I’m totally grief-struck seeing dead bodies bundled up in white cloth bags, dumped into van or ambulance for disposal.
Natural calamities devastate countries. But, here, the world is paying for one or two men’s mistake of eating corpses of bat or such silly animals!
“Bats are known to carry multiple viruses without getting sick, according to the New York Times, which said they have caused human diseases in Africa, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Australia, and are thought to be the reservoir for Ebola”, says a report.
‘Who can stop if destined to die from the virus?’. With that well known quote entered my house, a friend to chide me for cancelling my air ticket to Baltimore, fearing infection from travel.
‘Totally agree’, I endorsed his views and as usual, added a quote learned during childhood- ‘. വിധിയെ എതിർത്തൊരു ജന്തു നീന്തുമോ ?’ Who can go against the Fate?
I didn’t stop with that . Requested my friend, not to enter in .
‘Wait there for a minute please. I’m getting water in a bucket to wash your legs and hands and also a torthumundu (short towel), to cover your mouth and nose.
‘Why torthumundu? You don’t have a spare mask?’, he enquired.
‘I have. But better to have a bigger mouth cover as I have severe cold and a mild fever since this morning’
‘OMG! Krishna, Krishna!’ He dashed out in no time, without waiting to hear my another quote, ‘Vidhi praptho manava!’
They will never let you down, never!
I have high hopes on the youngsters not only those from my family but on all, more so in the foreign settlers, to protect the culture they have inherited.
They are intelligent and therefore analyze the old practices and absorb the best and most practical ones. Don’t blame them if they, while taking out their vehicle, don’t look for a cow with calf or a bull with a nose thread; those do not exist on the roads here! While driving their cars at 60/70 miles-speed they may or may not be hearing Bajagovindam or whisper some stotrams learned in childhood, but will never bear any bad thoughts harmful to others.
They may not be applying vibhoothi on their body every morning or visit temples regularly or do so only to please their wives. Doesn’t matter. God lives in their heart as they are honest and doesn’t hurt others feelings .
They may even , on their own, request us to help them to wear a new poonal or sacred thread on Avani aviitam, (in the absence of any threads on their body to replace with a new one! ) . It is Ok, the absence of external threads on their body are not that important as the internal threads of spirituality and sincerity are strong in them.
The happiest day in my life was when my sons agreed, on their marriage day, to wear conventional dress and strictly follow the conventions. I knew it was due to their lessons in cradles when they woke up hearing the gantanAdam, bell sound of my Shivapoojas.
Be assured that if you had planted a Tulasi in their mind during childhood, it will spread fragrance inside them for ever.
Ignite your children’s mind with our samskarams and that Deepam will shine in them brightening their thoughts and life. They will face their hard days boldly
The first question I ask every person from India, who visit us is, ‘do you teach your kids, your mother tongue?’
Live your life, please, especially if you’re young. Living is living, not going to work and earning money alone, not eating and drinking alone, not raising a family and nourishing them alone, though all those and many more are part of life.
Living, apart from all the above, is just enjoying the biggest treasure the Supreme God has given you, that is your life and rising your eyes once a while and thanking your life -giver, ‘oh, what a wonderful life you have given me, my Lord, though there are worries, problems.
I’m alive today by your grace. Yes, I’m alive and thank you for that. And having a body with a beating heart in it and eyes which can see, mouth which can consume food and talk, waste discharging units in function – what more do I need, my Lord !’
I’m sharing this thought with you, as I’m shivering with fear, when I hear the word ‘Corona’
Nothing but stupidity. Is it not ?
Fearing Death at 80 plus!!
What is there to fear ? I have lived my full life with children and their children, siblings, their children, with money more than enough to meet my requirements, fairly good health and above all love, compassion, affection from family, extended families and other relatives and friends.
If I love my life at this advanced age, how much you should?
So, live your life, please! And once a while, close eyes for a few seconds and thank God, for what He has given you.
I’m observing that the enthusiasm to get married amongst the earring middle class womenfolk is drastically dwindling. Main reason is their economic independence. Another one to avoid troubles in raising children.
Sex was a necessity, had a purpose. No more now.
Sex was a pleasure when the avenues of pleasure were little. No more now.
Sex had aura of divinity. No more now.
Family life had a respect and a status. No more now.
‘Are you married?’ ‘How many children ?’, ‘should you not settle in life?’
We used to ask such questions in India. No more now.
Go ahead. But, when you grow old, consider getting married – not for pleasure, not for status, not to please God or to get some one to pull you up from hell, in the after-life journey- Just for a human companionship.
Canine can be a good company. But when you want a hot chai or Chukku vellam, medicated warm water, lying on the bed, a human companion will be better than the company of an animal, dog or cat.
When you long for someone to hear your story or history, a human presence is ideal, not that of a cat or a dog.
I have plenty of humans around, all the time, caring, compassionate. Hence I don’t need an animal to be with me.
The cost of living has skyrocketed in these four years of my absence from the country.
The plantain cart wallah came near the gate.
‘Babu, dozen entha? How much a dozen?’
‘Dabbhai. Seventy rupees, Sir’
‘Seventy rupees for a dozen banana!’ I couldn’t believe. I tried to
calculate the cost of each plantain. 70/12–? 5 Rs . Leftover how much ? Ten.- 10/12—-?’
‘Seventy two rupees, Sir’, said he, when I wanted to bargain for Rs. 60.
‘Increased the cost by two Rupees, in a minute?’ I wondered.
‘For your easy calculation, Sir’. He quipped, while moving the cart away, ‘one minute KAthu. You took ten minutes to calculate.
America poi anni marichupoyAru Meeru. You forgot everything after going to America’
Then, came the paper wallah.
‘Oh, PAppiah, noovaena? You are the same old PAppiah!
The Hindu paper Rs. 5.00 kAtha?’
I started calculating mentally the monthly cost plus expected delivery charges.30×5=150 plus delivery Rs. 10.00 total Rs 160.00 Rs. Right?’ I asked him.
‘Kathu, No Sir. In your America, all the months have equal days?’ He asked and asserted brusquely ‘Delivery charge is Rs 30.00.’
‘One Rupee per day for delivery ?’ I could not believe my ears.
PAppiah, the businessman didn’t want waste his morning hours in bargaining with me.
He asked, ‘mee indilu TV unthi kaatha? Meeru TV choosekondi. You have TV in your house ? You watch TV. You get all news’
He too moved away.
Then came the dooth wallah.
‘Packet entha, babu? ‘
‘Rs.20 per 1/2 kilo packet. Rs.1.00 delivery charges per day per packet’
‘Rs. 1.00 per packet for delivery ?’
He didn’t wait for a minute more but reminded me before leaving:
‘Ithu America kaathu. This is not America for delivery at your doors for no extra cost’
The trash collector was a kid when I left and he has grown as an adult now.
‘I have some good shirts for you, washed and pressed. Would you like to have those?’
‘You didn’t bring any new T- shirts for me?’
‘I did bring a few but for me’
‘Then wear one. Don’t stand bare chested. You will get cold, uncle’
‘The world has changed a lot’, I sighed
‘Meekku change lathae! You haven’t changed a bit after living in America for four years!’
He made my day, though I was with no plantain, milk and news paper!
Madhu comes running. I ask him to buy whatever I want and give him money and some chocolates too.
In 10 minutes, he returns with materials and balance cash.
And tells me, ‘Sir, I have a Facebook account. Will you be my friend ?’
‘Why not, Madhu?’ I ask him.
‘Can I have a photo with you?’ He asks. ‘
‘Why not Madhu?’
Let the boy study well, get a good job, take care of his illiterate parents . Let him marry a girl who supports his intention of helping his old parents.
I tell him in short: study well and come up in life!
“More you give, more you get”. What is it?
”More you fill up, more you have space’ . What is it?
‘Cotton wool bag’
“More you gift ; more she asks for?’ Who is that?
‘No, Chethal, wood worms’
‘More wrongs ; more pinches ‘. Who is that?
‘Your class teacher’
‘No. Your conscious’
Head to toe, sorry, head to toe nails, need our care, attention. God created indicators like, pain, sweeping, itching, burning etc to draw our attention to the weak points.
‘Only the baby who cries get milk,’ say others, not the mother.
Yes, our body parts need our close watch; Our family too.
Our activities and our thought inputs and outputs too, need a close watch. Our word output too. Even on the words flowing into us, we should have a check. The source could be many including the Facebook. I observe ‘madi’, keeping my distance, with a few in the FB. Many reciprocate warmly. Good for them. Friends should be happy!
Why am I towing you towards the toes ?
For the past two months, my left toe was paining, no swelling, no shrinking, no colour change for the nails which retain the god given milky white.
Our hair may change its colour but nails and toes, never.
Toe after all, I thought first. When pain became intense, consulted two physicians and they gave different opinions.
Then, I landed on the consulting room of a foot specialist, recommended by my Asthana physician, after a waiting period of one month. He is my insurance -approved physician who directs me to specialists, prescribes medicines, acts as a nodal agency for my health care.
The podiatrist, foot specialist, tested the sensitivity of my feet as I’m a diabetic and blood circulation to the lowest parts of the body is likely to be affected. ‘Good, you can open the eyes’, she said, when I told her correctly the parts where she pricked with a thin needle.
Then she scrubbed and pruned the nail, made it thin and gave me a cotton cap to wear on the toe, inside the socks.
The hormone injections had upset my blood sugar values, which showed a trend upwards, despite increasing the dosage of medicines. ‘The toe pain should come when your blood sugar lever comes down’, she said, ‘anyway , let us keep a watch’
The pain has come down in three days!
How? Effect of her scrubbing and pruning the nail or the magic of the cotton cover ?
‘Why should you tell us this story, after all, toe?’ you ask.
Just to bring to your attention the necessity of consulting specialists. And also to tell you the importance of toes and nails. Keep a watch on those too.
You are not impressed, right?
Wait a minute, please.
‘Nakha -deethithi samjanna namajjana thamoguna –
Jagadjanani removes the thamas, darkness in the mind of her devotees by the sparkle of her nails!
How pitch dark is thamogunam, imbedded deep in our minds! How dazzling will be Ambal’s nails, Powerful enough to annihilate the anthakaraasura, the demon of darkness!
Another quote from LalithasahasranAmam:
‘KarAnguli nagholpanna Narayana dasAkrithi’
The ten forms of Mahavishnu came out of the nails of the Jagadjanani.
As a child, while learning LalithasahasranAmam, I used to imagine the amazing scene of emerging forms Malsya, koorma, varaaha, Narasimha and other avatharams from the finger nails, one by one, as the Goddess, opens up her fingers, one, two, three–
So, from where did we start and where do we end?
We started with toe nail and ended at deivachintha, thought on divinity.
Our elders constructed a temple or a pond or a peepul tree at the street corner, so that from whereever your start, you reach at a Devine space. Puthiya Kalpathy, Pazhaya Kalpathy, Chathapuram, Perinkulam, the list goes on.
Starting point may be anywhere, try to reach a Devine destination.
There was a war like situation in the Malayalam literary world on dwitheeyAkshra prAsam in poetry. It was about using the same letter in the second place on all the four lines of a stanza, for better rhyming.
Keralavarma Valiyakoyil thampuran (1845- 1914), a great scholar and elucidated writer in Sanskrit, Malayalam and English and a poet of repute from a royal family, ably supported by Ulloor S Parameswara Iyer, another great scholar and poet and many others were unambiguous in their conviction that dwitheeyAkshra prAsam was a must for Manipravalam compositions, which was the prevailing format of poetry then. In the Manipravalam style Samskritham and Malayalam were artistically combined just as diamond and pearl are used in making jewels. Keralavarma Thampuran ‘s Mayoora sandesam, acclaimed as his best poetic work following the footsteps of Kalidasa’s Meghsandesam earned him the title of Keralakalidasan. The dwitheeyAkshra prAsam was religiously and beautifully used in that unique composition.
One verse from memory:
പാലിക്കാനായ് ഭുവനമഖിലം ഭൂതലേ ജാതനായ –
ക്കാലിക്കൂട്ടം കലിതകുതുകം കാത്ത കണ്ണന്നു ഭക്ത്യാ
പീലിക്കൊലോന്നടിമാലരിൽ നീ കാഴ്ചയായ് വച്ചിടെണം
മൌലിക്കെട്ടിൽ തിരുകും അതിനെ തീർചയായ് ഭക്തദാസൻ.
General meaning- Kannan, Sreekrishna, was born to govern the universe. പാലിക്കാനായ്..He herded and protected the cattle ക്കാലിക്കൂട്ടം with joy- കലിതകുതുകം.
You should (reverently) place a feather at his lotus feet. പീലിക്കൊലോന്നടിമാലരിൽ.
On his മൌലിക്കെട്ടിൽ tuft of hairs, crown, He will certainly place it.
Kalidasa’s marooned Yaksha used the services of a cloud to send message to his wife, whereas Keralavarma Thampuran sent a peacock to his wife, from whom he was separated following a diktat from the Raja of Thiruvananthapuram, as his messenger.
While explaining the routes the peacock would be following, the poet mentions about a Sreekrishna temple on its path and requests the bird to place a feather at the feet of the Lord, which He would accept gladly and place on his crown.
Please note the letter ‘li’ is used in the second place on all the four lines, forming ‘dwitheeyAkshra prAsam.
Keralavarma’s nephew Raja Raja Varma, also a scholar and a great grammarian in the Malayalam literature lead the team of poets who were not insistent on prAsam, rhyming letters and the war went on for long.
The happy product of the literary fight was, there was a big harvest of poems with or without prAsam.
Mahakavi Ulloor S. Parameswara Iyer’s Umakeralam was the richest crop of the above war. Strictly following the stipulations for a Mahakavyam, Ulloor successfully incorporated the dwitheeyAkshra prAsam in every stanza of that great epic.
One stanza from memory, from a chapter on Uma Amma Rani’s moaning when her children were treacherously kidnapped and murdered by the enemies of the Palace.
അടിക്കുമാരരുളും അജന്ടെ ശാസനം
അടിക്കുതൊട്ടു ഒഴിയണം ആയതിന്നുനിന്
അടിക്കു താണു ജഗദംഭ കൂപ്പുവൻ
(Ordered by Destiny, often the waves of sorrows are engulfing me.
Amba, Devine Mother, uproot all my worries, I fall at your feet)
The letter ‘di’ is used on all the four lines in the second place.
Perhaps unintentionally, the first word too rhymes. Not only that the word, ‘adi’ is used in different contexts, in different places.
‘Adi’ means stick, beating, foot etc.
and above all, there is a super effect of the clever usage of the word, ‘adi’ repeatedly – it gives a verbal effect of the beatings received from the Destiny, by the mother who lost her lovely kids.
The poet would have had in mind, only prAsam, will composing that stanza, but when it took shape, it blossomed fully projecting the emotions of a bereaved mother.
That is called Devi Kataksham, Devine blessings and grace .
Poets just start writing ; words follow.