Tag Archives: birthday

Swamusings @ 50 ~ Different Folks… Very Different Strokes..!

3 May

Swamusings @ 50 ~ Different Folks… Very Different Strokes..!

There were two sets of people with whom conversation happened today. That too in the morning itself, which is practically impossible in Swamyverse. It’s as rare as Pournami (பௌர்ணமி – full moon) and Amavasya (அமாவாசை – new* / no moon) happening on the same day, which actually happened only once as far as we know, resulting in the amazing, revered verses known as Abhirami Andhaadhi (அபிராமி அந்தாதி). The first stanza of the first verse ‘உதிக்கின்ற செங்கதிர் உச்சித் திலகம்’ is a near-perfect தமிழ் version of SindhooraaruNa vigrahaam (சிந்தூராருண விக்ரஹாம்) – the beginning of Lalitha SahasraNhaamam. Ah, the genre hopping mind…

Anyway, the first call was made to Swamy and the second one was made by Swamy (no choice there – yep, Swamy does make phone calls, once in a red moon). Both conversations were with elderly people, who diligently stick to the ancient practice of celebrating / wishing others only during the janma nakshathram day (ஜென்ம நக்ஷத்திர தினம்), and strictly avoid that on the birth date, which has never been part of this ancient culture anyway (anniversary celebration is a western import, unsurprisingly tied to all kinds of commercial extortion).

In both conversations, the male elders offered the customary aaseervadham (ஆசீர்வாதம் – blessings / wishes by elders) and promptly handed over the phone to the female elders (and most probably went on / away to finish today’s newspaper/s). It’s the conversation with the two female elders that did the naamakaranam (நாமகரணம் – giving a name to someone) for this post, i.e. ‘Different Folks… Very Different Strokes..!’

The first conversation (call-in on WhatsApp, in line with the social times we survive these days) was about Swamy’s childhood (the ‘primary school’ period, to be precise), which didn’t happen in his parental home but at his maternal grandparents’ home. The reason cited still is ‘good education,’ which is debatable to this date. In reality, there was a separation of a first-born child from the parents, for a few years, when siblings were getting added to the brood. It was most probably done without any ulterior motive, unless of course such a separation was advised by a family josier, in which case the elders of the day will ensure strict adherence to such ‘expert’ advise, without question. And that child grew up to be a loner, despite being part of a fairly large family, which moulded him into an inward-dwelling quiet persona (other than the moments of angry outburst, of course), who prefers solitude at all times, for the rest of this lifetime. Since any debate about the past is utterly pointless, let’s leave that aside, conserving time, effort and energy. 

Coming back to that first conversation, it was filled with reminiscences of events from a long gone past, which apparently was still vivid in the caller’s mind. Swamy couldn’t even remember one of the incidents recalled, which is quite surprising since that event has happened during his youth, much of which he could recall well – especially that particular time period, which was truly life-altering. Before you begin to wonder, no, it had nothing to do with spirituality, other than Swamy trying to be a non-believer for a brief period of time, resulting from a very active youngster’s utter frustration of being confined to a bed, for several months (due to a sports accident, that required 2 surgeries to fix and recover from the physical injury). Overall, that conversation was an enthusiastic recall of the past, ending with one more round of blessings for a long, healthy life.

The second conversation was predominantly about the event of Swamy’s birth itself, which should’ve been like any other child birth. It was and wasn’t. Instead of a BAUHumbug routine event, that child birth apparently transformed into a memorable event due to a few reasons, some of which may sound a bit imaginative, but were true nevertheless.

  • First, he was the first ‘male’ child to be born in a new government hospital (the hospital itself was fairly new and until then all child births there were producing only girls, apparently).
  • Second, he was born on the day of Dhikvijayam (royal procession on all directions – forgive the transliteration, since there aren’t any exact equivalent in english for many such sanskrit words) of the reigning Goddess/Empress of the town Devi Meenakshi (this is one of the key events of the famous annual festival known as Chithirai Thiruvizha – சித்திரை திருவிழா).
  • And third, the Apollo-13 spacecraft landed safely back on earth on that day on the other side of the world, despite major technical difficulties, which ended up giving this first-born male child of a tamil family an english nickname ‘Apolloer,’ in small town Madurai. Considering there was no social media or TV then – it was 50 years ago, after all – and the only news sources were the radio and newspapers, visualising that amusing/amazing situation is left to your vivid imagination.

The conversation which went on for some time turned out to be more about the mother than the child.. heh.. heh.. Despite Swamy’s poking, not much was recalled about that (supposedly) wonder kid, but quite a bit was spoken about the mother of that child and her childbearing experiences.

Thus started the actual anniversary dhinam of a child who was born in the popular temple town of Madurai on this exact day (per the janma nakshathram, of course), five decades ago. Today happens to be not only the janma nakshathram day, but also the Dhikvijayam of Madurai MeenAkshi Amman. Despite the amazing similarities of the two days, 50 years apart, there is also a significant difference, which is quite sad, considering it involves not just Swamy or his extended family, but the populace of the entire town and nearby towns and villages as well.

The famous annual (summer) festival of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is being celebrated this year in a very subdued manner within the temple itself, due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Both Chennai, where Swamy resides and Madurai, where he was born and brought up, are unfortunately marked as ‘Red Zone’s. Typically, there’ll be several thousands of ardent devotees thronging the vast – and ancient, needless to say – temple, during each day of the nearly 2-week long festival, despite the blazing summer sun. On the special days such as Thirukkalyaanam (திருக்கல்யாணம்), DhikVijayam (திக்விஜயம்), KaLLazhagar EdhirsEvai (கள்ளழகர் எதிர்சேவை), the crowd of devotees will easily swell to lakhs. Till date, Meenakshi Amman isn’t just a deity inside  the temple for the emotionally-charged Madurai folks. She is considered very much their own Amma, i.e. mother.

Swamyji50_C1

Of course, as far as Swamy is considered, today is just another day – golden anniversary or otherwise. He’s thankful for waking up as usual, still breathing fine. The nondescript daily events list is getting ticked of one by one, as any other day in the recent past. His sahadharmini (சஹதர்மிணி) was kind enough to prepare sweet pongal (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்) to mark the occasion, which is the only noteworthy change from the routine post-retirement living. Usually, some kind of sweet prasaadham (பிரசாதம் – offering to the divine) is prepared only for festivals celebrated in SwamyHome. Today is anyway the Jagathjanani (ஜகத்ஜனனி – universal Mother) RaajaMaathangi’s DhikVijayam festival day. So, in a household with Devi’s presence (in the form of Devi Linga Bhairavi Yantra), it’s appropriate to offer sweet prasaadham on this day.

Those two conversations of the day went on to highlight the saying ‘Different Folks, Different Strokes.‘ Very different strokes, i.e. perspectives, indeed. Neither is good or bad, obviously. They are who they are and what they remember and recall is what they have experienced and thereby know. What each elder expressed was certainly true, as it is based on their own direct experience. But it’s the perspective offered that makes them vastly different from each other.

One looked at it from the perspective of bringing up an interesting child, that wasn’t her own. She was only an indirect stakeholder in shaping up that child’s life trajectory, despite actually bringing up that child for a certain period of time – a very crucial time in that child’s existence. So the recall of her experiences reflected that child’s skills, attributes, characteristics. In a way, it was a retelling of that child’s growing up days, as it was.

The other elder’s experience was of her own, rather than the child. This could be simply due to her own very first childbearing experience (she ended up doing it quite a few times, afterwards), which must have been overwhelming for a young woman from a traditional upbringing with limited external exposure of the world. For the child, who himself is nearly as experienced as those elders now, as a retiree at 50 (the planned retirement itself happened 5 years ago), the perspectives were quite a revelation – despite not being able to recall an event or two, of his own life, covered in those conversations!

Oh, before concluding this one, it’s worth recalling (pun, absolutely intended 😉 another post by Swamy on the occasion of the calendar birthday/date, couple of weeks ago. That post, ‘ஐம்பதிலும் ஞானம் வரும்!‘ is much more elaborate and will offer quite a few insights for readers who contemplate whatever they read. Here’s a link…

ஐம்பதிலும் ஞானம் வரும் ~ ஸ்வாமியின் உயிர்மெய் பதிவு  

As a species endowed with relatively higher intelligence (not necessarily better though) in this vast creation, our perspective of things, events and people is a result of our ability to shape and utilise that intelligence. There’s no doubt the environment in which we were born and brought up – including the people around and close to us at the time of growing up – plays a significant role in shaping our personality and perspectives.

But one’s perspective can eventually change – wider, broader, deeper – based on one’s exposure to the external world, commonly known as society. Such change in perspective is an outcome of both personal and professional experiences. But the caveat for such a change is one’s in/ability to assimilate, contemplate and comprehend life happening all around, objectively, without colouring them with subjective bias of any kind. In essence, how much a being changes or doesn’t is entirely in the hands of that being.

At 50, Swamy’s perspective of Life (the way humans know and live it) has changed quite significantly. Realising mere survival is just a BAUHumbug routine, he has consciously bid adieu to the corporate world, where he performed his survival act in a reasonably successful way for nearly two-and-a-half decades, five years ago and started treading a different path, to realise the Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) and attain Mukti (the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle spiral).

This ongoing journey has significantly altered Swamy’s perception of Life (the way it is, i.e. Reality) as well, though there is still a long way to go, inward of course. So for the seeker that Swamy is nowadays, pretty much full-time, this day too shall come to pass, just like any other day in the past, including the day in the long gone past when he came (back!) into the world of survival, one more time, as the jyEshta kumaaran (ஜேஷ்ட குமாரன் – first-born male child) of a god+government fearing humble middle-class family, in the temple town of Madurai, on the auspicious day of DhikVijayam of Meenakshi Amman (மதுரை மீனாட்சி அம்மன் திக்விஜயம்).

The just-born ‘apolloer’ has certainly travelled a looooooooooong way – literally and experientially – from that day and place. And life goes on, without being bothered about whether he has turned 5 or 14 or 23 or 50, on this particular day!

2016-02-07-19-45-40Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 

 

 

 

 

Just another day in paradise!

18 Apr

Today was the birthday of this soul 42 years ago at the temple town that never sleeps and known for it’s ruling Goddess, 2 of the 6 padaiveedus of her younger Commander-in-Chief son, fragrant Jasmine, roadside Eateries serving piping hot gourmet dishes with a smile anytime of the day, branded Goli soda and nurturing of the Tamil language for ages from the Sangam period.

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111 (at last count) wishes have poured in, for someone who doesn’t give a damn about wishes and also wrote a blog about wishing! Which makes one wonder about this dogged obsession of people to wish one another on different days, especially on birthday!

What has one done to deserve a wish on that particular day, which is just a bookmark in anyone’s long winding, occasionally joyful, otherwise painful journey called Life, which after all is just the aftermath of karma accumulated in the past lives, according to Sanathana Dharma, otherwise known popularly as Hinduism!

Of course there are days that are certainly worth celebrating. In Life’s long history, such as…

  • The haloed one in 528 BC when a prince got enlightened and became the Buddha
  • March 10, 1876, when a bearded scientist called his assistant in the adjoining room over an acoustic device
  • September 11, 1893, when a young Swami from Bengal made a historic speech in far away cold Chicago that warmed up the hearts of millions across the world
  • May 29, 1953, when a Nepali Sherpa and a Newzealander shocked the world by standing atop the world’s highest peak
  • May 6, 1954, when a British runner stunningly cracked the sub 4-minute mile…
  • April 12, 1961, when a human defied gravity and flew around the globe for the first time

Or the day when an apple fell on a scientist’s head… when a wall dividing two sides of a nation was demolished to unite them again… when a certain loincloth wearing lawyer freed a great nation sans any violence… when a biscuit maker’s son took his 800th wicket…

Those are days worth celebrating, forever. But the day of birth of a mere mortal, who hasn’t made a dent in the universe yet?

“Ah, c’mon. When did your cup become half empty?”, said a voice from within. At once, the compulsive optimist in me sprung to life again and nudged me to find at least one valid reason to celebrate. I promptly obliged and here are two!

First historical, for present is past in future and who knows how this soul will be remembered in future! I was told many a times that my grandfather used to call me Apolloer & here’s why – The spacecraft Apollo 13 apparently landed safely on earth exactly on the day I was born. So let me humbly take credit for ensuring it’s safe landing, which can only be attributed to my birth! Or the birth of all Arians who were born on that day, anywhere in this world.

And the second is spiritual. What’s a Swamystery blog without at least a sprinkling of spirituality? If death is considered the ultimate liberation from this Life, wretched or otherwise, then every birthday is a not-so-gentle reminder that we’re one more year closer to liberation. And that in my view dear readers, is certainly worth celebrating. May everyone wish to their heart’s content anyone who is closer to liberation – knowingly or otherwise!

But for the enlightened souls who figured out Life as an endless beginning and chose to guide those who dared to at least dip their feet in the vast spiritual ocean, to accept Life as it is, any day – birthday or not – remains just another day in paradise!

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