memories of family outings.....

Thursday

Vijayashanthi

Unprecedented deluge in Karnataka and Andhrapradesh. And just the other day, the lament was about Drought. As they say in vernacular : "Athivrishti - Anaavrishti".

The usual post crisis finger pointings are going on , full steam. "Avoidable tragedy" is the unanimous verdict. We do have Disaster Prevention and Management committees. Also, pertinently, Disaster Relief Funds......Even marmosets learn, at least by pavlovian reflex. We never learn.

It was quite eerie to see images of the Tunga flooding the shrine in Mantralayam. Never have i seen the river there being anything more than a thin, sluggish stream, coursing well away from the bank . One always had to cross expanses of hot rocks to get the mandatory holy sprinkle.

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.....Now I think of a little girl - is she safe ? Sadly, "Hungry and shelterless" may not be a new situation for her.....

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All pilgrims to the Saint's Brindavana in Mantralaya are expected to visit the cave where he meditated for 12 years and which is now a shrine to Panchamukha Anjaneya. But somehow i had never got around to doing that suffix . Only on the last trip, about 3 years ago, we extended our plans to include this place.
Mantralaya is in Andhra Pradesh and Panchamukhi Anjaneya shrine is in Karnataka. The road makes the distinction is very apparent . As soon as the car enters Karnataka territory, it goes into Belly Dance Mode.
Stretches of road , full of pot holes. Stretches of pot holes with no roads. Eroded banking. Corroded sign boards.
Miraculously, we arrived in one piece after a 40 minute journey which could have been done in 25 mins. if only...........forget it.


The temple, in Ganadhala , is actually only a cave with a slanting rockface embossed with the form of the five faced Hanuman. Said to be Swayambu. The cave is fronted with a virulently coloured doorway, bright orange steps and a gopuram. At front is the Flag Mast on which leans a Mace, also orange in colour. Orange coloured oil paint, masquerading as Sindhoor, is found smeared liberally here there and everywhere.There are subsidiary shrines to the Guardian goddess of the village, Yarkalamma, and to the Paduka , ie Footwear. A pair of huge, well worn, artistically made, leather sandals . Said to be worn by Hanuman on his nightly visits to the cave ; the worn out pair is replaced with new, once in five years.

Whats with Five Faces ? An interesting myth is recounted by the priest. Hanuman, in the course of his Demon- bashing career , crosses path with Mahiravan, a Knight of Dark Arts and finds to his astonishment that packing off this goon is mission impossible. The wily fellow has repackaged his life into five lamps and set them in five different corners . Only when all 5 are extinguished together will his account close fully. Which was,presumably, never. But he hadn't reckoned with a divine shapeshifting opponent. Once the secret was known, with some deftly managed interdepartmental co-operation, Hanuman got the Five Faces ( Hayagriva, Garuda, Narasimha,Varaha,Hanuman), and in one "blow" extinguished the evil one. Moral : Wickedness never pays, however clever you are.

This cave temple is set in a very strange and wonderful landscape. Rocks of all shapes and sizes stand in odd , precariously balanced stacks. Very picturesque. One is even afraid to sneeze , lest they all come tumbling down. But they have stood thus for centuries.
Among the stacks, two enjoy extra respect. They are close to the main cave and are consecrated with holy markings in white and orange. One is called Vimana or aircraft. The other is The Bed. Both reportedly used by Hanuman on his nightly visits. I couldn't see a flying vehicle in the gestalt of the former stack, but the latter does very much resemble a comfortable futon on an equally comfortable cushion mattress. And there are nice natural striations too , like candystripe prints on a bedsheet.

Thats where i saw the girl. Not more than 6 . Dressed in shapeless ,oversized clothing ,hair all unkempt, she looked a bit wild and was almost chubby with residual baby fat. She was part of the nomad family selling beads, faux rudrakshas, plastic combs, pictures and such other trinkets. With bright eager eyes and a wide , gap -toothed grin, she latched on to me, pestering me to buy her ware, none of which was of any use to me. To ward her off, i told her i'd see the god first and think of shopping later.

After doing the rounds, when returning to the car, i got caught again. She turned up promptly and re- started her sing-song . I found it difficult to handle a wheedling child, but definitely dint want to be emotionally blackmailed into buying stuff that will instantly vanish into the bottomless pit of the bottom drawer. To add to my discomfiture, my companions who had gone off to photograph the attractive rocks seemed to take an eternity over it.

In order to divert the child's attention, i started a little conversation.
Where did she live ? She pointed towards the right.
All i could see was a plot of drying crops and some rocks. God, did they sleep under the stars ?!

What was her name ? Vijayashanthi.
Unable to give her decent basics ( food-clothing-shelter-schooling) her parents had given her the best they could : a glamorous name. A film Star's.
I couldn't fathom in the crystal ball of her large shiny eyes what the future held for her. A life like her mother's ? With no permanent address, no BPL card, no proof of citizenship, or even legal life , in any record anywhere. A being with only two functions in life : to search for food, to procreate.


A new vehicle appeared on the pathway and the girl ran to it in the hope of a sale. My companions returned and we boarded. As soon as the engine started, the little Vijayashanthi called out to me "Akka....tata... tata!" and with the biggest and most beautiful gaptoothed smile waved me bye. And i hadn't bought a single bead from her !
That night, before retiring to bed, i could not think of the Saint. I could not think of God. I thought of that little child.

I thought of her again now, when The Tunga is flooding on the TV screen.

33 comments:

avdi said...

Beautiful drawings.

I think the girl and her family got away somewhere safetly.

Capt.Anup said...

You write wonderfully well. Please post on MBP soon. I have not been to cave as yet, although I made it to Mantralaya sometime back. The narration about our shapeshifting heroe's story was very enjoyable, I did not quite remember why Hanuman had five faces. Now I do!
The last part somehow tugged at the heart strings. That piece is so emotionally powerful. I too hope the girl and her family made alright during the recent calamity.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Nice sketches too, I forgot to add in my above comment. And the Vimana part, I could not see what looks like an Aircraft (or even space craft!) in the stone formation (or pile, whatever it is).

JC said...

Yosee, Nice description!

'I' would just add that ancient Hindus - for the benefit of the common man at any given period of time - through interesting stories have conveyed the 'truth', of 'creation' (including expansion of real time, from zero, related with darkness that is 'Anjan' or 'black', to infinity or 'anant', thanks to light provided by the Sun and helped by members of the solar system)...

'Panchmukhi' also is related with 'panchtatva' or 'five elements' that are believably necessary for acquisition of a physical form. Similar to 'Vighnaharta' Ganesh, Parvati's favourite son in Satya Yuga, it is also expressed through 'Sankatmochan' or 'Troubleshooter', in Treta Yuga, as the ardent devotee of Lord Rama as Hanuman, that is, 'Anjaneya' the son of 'Anjani'. Both point out towards the essence of planet Mars believably located at the 'mooladhar chakra' of all humans, which is linked to the believable formless and detached 'Creator' that is solely responsible for activation of the 'kundalini' in a Yogi in order to provide total information at the 'sahasrara chakra' located in the head/ brain...

Thus, the stories generally lead to asht-chakra or 'eight wheels' believably located within all humans that believably hold essence of members of solar system as also the necessary information/ energy that must reach the head for 'enlightenment'...

YOSEE said...

Avdi: Thank you so much. I do hope so too.

YOSEE said...

Anup: Thank you. My blog name appears in the MBP roll from yesterday.Will try to key in the post today.......that girl could be 10 or 11 today. there are so many like her. The thought that keeps niggling in mind is thatif she has been given asylum in a refugee tent and fed in a Red Cross soup kitchen,it would be her first taste of security and hot food. Isnt that tragic !
I saw no spacecraft either. We dont need glasses or imagination, we need Faith !

YOSEE said...

JC, good to hear from you. And thank you so much for the wonderful philosophical explanation. Ofcourse, there are so many layers of meaning in everything. The story the priest gave us was the kindergarten level.But it will do to excite interest,isn't it !

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Yosee: great! Will see you soon on MBP. I agree about the little girl and countless little girls like her in India and really wonder what kind of system we have that allows so much of mindless procreation amidst so much of poverty.

True about the vimana and faith. But I am one of those who can't denounce the possibility that some types of flying vehicles existed back in those ages and these have been mentioned quite extensively and in detail in our epics. Although the archaeologist in me wants tangible proof of this, the faith in me makes me just believe.

Satya said...

Great write-up!

This is what I did when I was salaried and met such a young pair of girls. I asked them what their profit on the basket of guavas would be and why they needed it. They needed it for school books and the amount was Rs 50. I gave them Rs.50 and took two guavas, and they promised to use the money for school.
Now its harder. If I remember SDM then I dont give any money, but I do try old T-Shirts or peanuts or something that will surely go to the child. My cousin carries chocolates in her bag for sucha purpose.
I hope these ideas help.
I know its like tincture iodine where surgery is required, but we have to do the little we can.
Thanks for the story, I am always glad to collect such pukkita puranas! You never know when it comes in handy.
Nice to know that hanuman visists Mantralaya every day.

JC said...

Yosee, with the background knowledge that 'ancient Hindus' stressed on one acquiring all round knowledge or 'siddhi', and also the accepted fact that they were much more advanced in 'astronomy', 'I' have come to believe that they had realised human form as the superior most design of the 'creator' who is formless...and man was indicated as 'model of the universe', via the solar system as the essence of the physical universe...

Because of my 'scientific' background, 'I' am therefore engaged with experiments relating with use of gemstones on persons/ photogrqaph of the concerned (with some success!) - irrespective of their location on the globe - for improving efficiency of a given individual, with known particulars (including 'self'), such as time of their birth etc, if those are readily available...

JC said...

'I' would like to add for the benefit of Capt.Anup that the age of the solar system, as per present estimates, is around 4.5 billion years, i.e., almost infinite compared to average human life-span in the present...and events apparently are going from bad to worse as time passes (thus conforming to the belief that time moves from satyuga to kaliyuga, i.e., from 'perfection' to 'imperfection', in repetitive cycles - like one moving directly from the peak of a mountain to its base, like a yo-yo)...

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Yosee: Good to see you on MBP. You could post one picture from your article also along with the intro. That will be nice.

Through your blog, I thank JC for all the information and for the last comment mentioning myself.

YOSEE said...

Satya :The " Tincture- iodine" ideas you have suggested are wonderful. Its so true that when we feel like giving something to a child, we shd. see to it that it is used/consumed by the child her/himself. Money always gets snatched by its parents or keepers and there's no guarantee it will not go into an arrack bottle. Also, when a child is selling things, it wouldn't do to just give her money as charity and not take her stuff for then we are forcing the indignity of beggary on her. Perhaps we can just strike a balance as you did by paying more and taking less.

YOSEE said...

Anup : see this link.it will interest you.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/13133117/Vaimanika-Shastra
( The Oriental Reasearch Library in Mysore has a palm leaf manuscript copy of vymanika shastra, but not for public viewing)

My bloggerfriend Satya's webjournal "Ancient Indians"(in my blog list) also has some very good articles about desi aeronautics.

YOSEE said...

JC: Good to know about your research. The more we delve into nano physics and galactic astronomy, the more material we can discover to support the old indian thought about the interconnectedness - indeed Oneness - of everything in this brahmanda.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Yosee: Thanks for the link. I have read the printed copy. and I have been researching into Vimanas since I was 18 years old, in college, before I went for flight school and have been to the Orient Pub library which was right behind my college.

There is no palm leaf manuscript although that is popular perception, but a person by the name of Subbaraya Shastri dictated this manuscript from "memory". Wiki has a section on this but my story is from a librarian at the Oriental Research Institute. Here is the wiki link:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaimanika_Shastra

So, while the general knowledge of Vimanas have been around for thousands of years, there is nothing that is thousands of years old that we can actually refer to, other than the epics and even those were compiled (like the Vedas) from memory.

I have been researching for 25 years now on this and have not yielded any tangible result in terms of original texts or archaeological clues unless the ancients took off and relocated and never came back. I can't somehow think that ancient Indians wrote on palm leaves during the same era that they flew advanced flying machines into space.

I am very fond of reading your friend Satya's blog, it is a fantastic compilation of many things that I love reading about. The research done is tremendous. I wish I can exchange ideas about more details of vaimanika shastra with Mdm Satya in person. Maybe there is a clue somewhere in some text about locations or even specifics. I apologize that these comments have nothing to do with your original article!

JC said...

The Sanskrit word 'vimana' is crudely translated into 'aeroplane' today that is Kaliyuga the Dark Age...whereas, to a Yogi, it conveys a means of transportation to the supreme being located at the 'ahasrara chakra' in head, from mooladhar...

YOSEE said...

Anup & JC : We in Kali yuga can only form rather vague ideas of past societies mostly by conjecture, because language itself undergoes vast changes in connotations. There could have been actual machines that flew. Equally probable: there were no machines but some sort of teletransportation was achieved ! Or thought projection, or something else equally fantastic. All this aside, there's also a possiblity, "flying" and "vimana" could have meant something more occult, as JC suggests, and the myths of superheroes are mere allegorical tales ! All these are good avenues to research in and keep ourselves mentally stimulated in old age. ;-)

( I have also read about Subb.Shastry, GR Josyer's publication and also the Project Report of Wg. Cmdr M.P.Rao of Aeronautical Society of India. Once when i visited Oriental Library and specifically asked them if they had a copy,in palm leaf, they confirmed they did ! )

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Ah! Good one Yosee. My opinion is that there were flying machines because there would be no descriptions of those in the epics. If it meant only "spiritual" flight, why would Rama fly with Sita back from Lanka? I believe the epics specify that there were flying vehicles meant for transport and those that were meant for war. Why specifically mention this and the materials they were made of, propulsion systems etc if they only meant "spiritual" enlightenment?

Strange about the Oriental Library and the palm leaves. If they did have them, there are ways of accessing the same. They don't have environmental controlled facility either to store them properly and if they did, Mysore's power problem would have made it hell. They have no back up power either. Did they mention the antiquity of the vaimanika shastra leaves?

JC said...

Yosee & Anup: The process of evolution is indicated in the story of 'churning of the milky-ocean' in four stages (by both rakshashas and devtas, which may be understood as the selfish and selfless people respectively), and also 'Brahma' is indicated to have four faces...

In the beginning (first stage, call it Kali yuga), there emerged 'poison' that had to be held in His throat by Shiva the Neelkanth in order to keep the process going...In the second stage (Dwaper yuga) emerged materials, such as mani-manikya etc...and in the third one (Treta Yuga) appeared 'Apsaras'...and eventually, in the fourth stage (Satya Yuga), 'amrit' for immortaiity was destributed by 'Mohini form of Vishnu the Nadbindu', perhaps pointing towards Moon as its most evolved model (source of 'somrus' or moonlight, also called la Lune, that is, related with lunacy in humans), its essence believably housed at the highest level, i.e., the head in humans...

Thus from general observation of 'Nature' even one learns there is a grand variety naturally existing in all its aspects in all physical forms...

Relating it only with 'flying machines', that is, instruments for physical transportation of men and material, in Treta Yuga, Hanuman the 'flying monkey' is referred as the (still evolving) individual who alone helped Rama (the devta, 'Suryavanshi prince', or a typical model of our Sun that was still undergoing evolution, till ultimately it was understood as one of the aspects, Brahma, of the three-in-one God, Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh)...All rakshashas were however indicated to have acquired the capability to fly, maybe to a relatively lower level...

Highly elevated Yogis, perhaps related with Satya Yuga, however, are depicted to have acquired miraculous powers: of walking on water surface, disappearing from one place to reappear in another remote one, and so on...

Even in the present there are certain individuals in certain pockets who apparently have powers that appear miraculous to the uninitiated...one such person in Guwahati had apparently 'read from my face' heart attack of a relative, that turned out to be my father as 'I' could know within a fortnight of the prediction!

LG said...

It was nice read. I have not visited panchamukhi anjaneya temple though we have visited Mantralaya many times. Belly dancing was a right word. K-state roads esp which connect all holy places..ex Dharmasthala etc all have big poth holes. God knows when the state govt will construct good roads.

I saw flood photos of Mantralayam recently and could not recognize the place.

YOSEE said...

LG : You are so right about our roads. Even the road to Hampi, such an important tourist spot, is dismal. And an eternal badge of shame is the Chamarajanagar to Tamilnad border stretch ( after Nanjangud). Its been a wreck since my childhood days. And to rub the salt in, the road starting just after the Tamil Nadu welcome arch is as smooth as "Hemamalini's cheeks" ( Lalloo's similie). :-(

YOSEE said...

JC, I'm sure there were stranger and more wonderful capabilities among the ancients than we can imagine today.

JC said...

Yosee, Regarding explanation of poor approach roads etc. to places considered 'holy' by our ancestors in the 'present', perhaps one might like to keep in mind the 'Hindu belief' that past events are getting reviewed repeatedly - over 1000 times in one day of Brahma that lasts over 4.6 billion years, with the background that our earth is nearly of that age today...

Thus one could perhaps visualise it as experiencing a reflection of the hardship felt by the ancients in reaching those places in the beginning!

Dibs said...

Our Puranas beat Star Wars & Matrix anyday! Write up on Vijayashanti is very touching...

" Unable to give her decent basics ( food-clothing-shelter-schooling) her parents had given her the best they could : a glamorous name. A film Star's"

booo hooo ....

Kamini said...

A very touching post. I hope and pray all are safe and well.
The comment trail was very interesting to read as well!

YOSEE said...

Thank you Kamini. Its indeed enriching to get interesting inputs on various aspects from readers.

Rwitoja said...

A very interesting and well written post,one of your best posts in my view.The faceoff between Hanuman and Ahiravan is described so well!The drawings are lovely as usual, especially Vijayashanthi's smile.Her ability to give that smile to someone who has not bought anything from her demonstrates that the have-nots can be happy as well, sometimes more than the have-lots(though this is difficult for the have-lots to comprehend!)and so, we should not grudge them their right to procreate.
I found it intriguing that the sandals kept for Hanuman to wear on his nightly visits were 'worn'and are replaced every five years. I wonder, who wears them?

YOSEE said...

Rwitoja, Thank you so much. Happy disposition and goodwill towards all, inspite of a life of want,is more the nature of a Child. Only children are capable of such godliness......the sandals kept there are way too large for human feet.The devout believe the legend. Rationalists believe in natural decay of leather. :-)

JC said...

Yosee, Nice explanation! However, that's not leather alone, but all materials that decay/ deteriorate with time...

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Great comment thread, see Yosee, you started something nice! Happy Deepavali to you and family. All the best.

YOSEE said...

Good wishes to you too. And much thanks for initiating the dialogue.

Rwitoja said...

Yosee, you are right about godliness in a child. Does this godliness disappear when the child grows into an adult? Godliness is innate in all living beings.Just because we happen to be born in a particular set of circumstances,should we really question the right of another human being to be born and to exist?