Saturday, January 26, 2008


We are in Thanjavur, one of the Chola region temples. Today’s [24th January 2008] lecture is from the sthala vriksha [temple tree], Magizha maram. This temple is situated on he banks of Vennaru, a tributary of Kaveri. Sometimes it is also called Vinnaru, signifying the Vraja River separating Vaikuntam from our worlds. Vinn in Tamil means sky. The vimanam [canopy] of this temple is called Soundarys vimanam. Pushkarini is called Kannika pushkarini. Alwars have identified this as vambulam solai. The Lord of this temple, Sri Neelamega Perumal was earlier gracing fro the banks of this pond only. This place was in those days called Rajagudi. From here, the Lord moved to the present place. Why the name Thanjai mamani koil? Because of this Lord, Thanjavur got its name. Why the Lord is gracing in three forms here? Three asuras – demons- Thanjakan, Dandakan and Gajamukhan- did thapas [meditation] on lord Shiva and when lord Shiva appeared, they prayed for eternity. Lord Shiva said that was beyond his power, but promised that he would not cause their destruction. Empowered by this promise, the three asuras started harassing all rishis [sages] and spoiled their pooja. In this Kshetram, sage Parasara was doing meditation and so the three asuras started troubling the sage. Sage Parasara prayed the Lord to save him from these demons and Sri Neelamaga Perumal, just like clouds lash the earth with sharp showers, directed missiles and other weapons on the demons. First He destroyed Thanjakan. But before his soul departed, he prayed the Lord to name this Kshetram after him and the Lord agreed. Thus the name Thanjavur got established. The Brahmotsavam of this temple is celebrated annually during Tamil month Vaikasi and on Vishaka star, theerthavari is celebrated. That day happens to be Nammalwar birthday and the sthala vriksham also is Magizha maram, the flowers of which were the garlands for Nammalwar, that is why he is referred to as Vakulabharanan. Theerthavari, group bathing, is done in the Kannika pushkarini, where the other two Lords also arrive. Another unique feature of this place is the 21 Garuda seva on Vaikasi Thiruvonam [Shravan]. That is a very memorable occasion. After destroying Thanjakan, the Lord in the form of Sri Narasinga, killed the next demon, Gajamukha. That is why He is called Sri Veerasinga Perumal or Sri Thanjai Aali. The third demon, Dhandakan, realizing his end was near, prayed for Moksham after his death and the Lord as Sri Manikkunra Perumal finished him and offered Moksham to his soul. Thus the Lord is in three forms, just like A,U and M in pranavam, the three words in Ashtaksharam and the Tatva trayam of chit, achit and Iswara. We will now see the 21st sloka:

sukham atyantikam yat tad
buddhi-grahyam atindriyam
vetti yatra na caivayam
sthitas calati tattvatah

“By the intellect one rejoices the self. In that joyous state, one is situated in boundless transcendental happiness, realized by intellect. He then never drifts away from that happiness at anytime”

Person, who attains this atmanubhvam pleasure, will never slip from this. Yat = that which, atyantikam = endless or pure without any alloying of misery, sukham = happiness, buddhi grahyam = can be experienced only by intellect, atindriyam = beyond organs. That is this unique happiness of yoga could be felt only by our intellect and not by any of the sense organs like nose, ear, etc. Yatra = where, vetti = [happiness] is experienced, sthitha = well established, tattvata = from that position, na eva chalati = will never slip. Person, who has experienced atmanubhaavam pleasure in yoga, will never slip from that position, as all other pleasures enjoyed by sense organs in contact with materials will never be equal to that. But there is a catch in this, what is it? This atmanubhavam is not perceptible to the sense organs. If only sense organs could experience that pleasure, all would have immediately tried to experience that. Since, this happiness could be felt only by our intellect, the number of such persons wanting to experience will be very few and initial difficulties have to be overcome. What we experience by our body sense organs is unnatural and so we can never feel at home in them. Atmasukham, on the other hand, is natural and so we would never feel to go away from that and would like to enjoy that continuously. Some efforts are needed to initiate this atmanubhavam and once it is started, none would like to go away from that. Will this pleasure arising out of atmanubhavam, give us the pleasures we get from sense organs? Yes, it will give these pleasures also.

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