Friday, April 24, 2009


Once, all village people decided to pray for rain.
On the day of prayer all people gathered and only one boy
came with an Umbrella,
that’s Confidence

Trust should be like the feeling of a one year old baby
when you throw him in the air,he laughs
because he knows you will catch him;
that’s Trust

Every night we go to bed,
we have no assurance to get up alive in the next morning
but still you have plans for the coming day ;
that’s Hope


Thursday, April 23, 2009


One of my passions is reading. I keep on reading on various topics. I just have to read at least a few pages every day before I sleep. I love the smell of the pages of a new book. I love to have a book in my hand and read it rather than a soft copy.
I also have the habit of collecting and writing down quotations that are inspirational, motivating, beautiful and also that which one cannot forget after reading them. I write them down in a dairy and through them when I am down, to cheer me up, motivate me and inspire me. I want to share some of them with you when ever I can.

The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature, the players on the other side is hidden from us.-Thomas Henry Huxley.

Be content with what you have, for God has said,
"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid."
- Hebrews 13:5,6

If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to your mountain, "MOVE!" and it WILL move... and NOTHING will be impossible for YOU!
- Matthew 17:20

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Travelogues_Ardhagiri

Ardhagiri Sri Veeranjaneya Swamy Temple

This temple which I visited recently is situated at a place called Arakonda(Chittoor District in Andhra Pradesh), around 10 Kms from the famous Kanipakam Temple near Tirupati. Arakonda or Ardhagiri as the place is known, means a piece or part of mountain.

This famous temple that attracts devotees from far and wide has a legend.Ramayana is one of the famous epics of India. It is believed that Sita, wife of Lord Rama was abducted by the mighty Ravana, the Demon King, and kept as a prisoner at Lanka (now Srilanka), the island kingdom of Ravana. 

Rama with the help of monkeys,waged a war and killed Ravana to get back Sita. During the battle Lakshmana, younger brother of Rama was battling with Ravana's son Indrajeet or Meghanadh. Rama, Lakshmana and many monkeys became unconscious when Indrajeet used Bramha Astra (the most powerful weapon). 

Hanuman and Vibhishana(Ravana's brother who defected to Rama's camp as Dharma was on Rama's side)  searched for Jambavantha. Jambavantha knew Ayurveda and he told them that there are certain herbs which would help the unconscious and severely hurt monkeys as well as  Rama and Lakshmana. He named these herbs as

  • Mrita Sanjivani (helps in restoring the dead to life), 
  • Vishalyakarani (helps in extracting weapons and healing all wounds inflicted by weapons), 
  • Suvarnakarani ( helps restoring the body to its original complexion) and 
  • Sandhani, the great herb (helps in joining severed limbs or fractured bone). 

Jambavantha said that these herbs can be identified by their glow, grow on a mountain named Dronagiri situated in Himalayan ranges between mount Rishbha and mount Kailasha. These herbs were to be brought before sun rise.

Vibhishana asked Hanuman to bring Sushena a very skilful physician residing in Lanka for treating all those who were hurt and fell unconscious. So Hanuman went to Lanka and brought the Physician along with his house.

Himalayas were far away from the Lanka. Hanuman or the monkey God, who could fly long distances in no time and who had immense strength and intelligence was deputed to bring the herb, but before sunrise. Hanuman went to the Himalayas in no time. But he could not differentiate between the various herbs and plants available. It is also said that these herbs hide themselves when someone comes to pluck them. He was enraged by this. So He just plucked the entire mountain and carried back to the place where Lakshmana was lying unconscious. 

Hanuman carrying the Sanjeevani Mountain

During this journey, as He was flying with great velocity, it is believed that a piece of rock from the mountain containing all great herbs, fell into the tank. Since a piece of mountain fell here it got its name of Ardhagiri or Arakonda.

The Tank where the piece of rock fell

Statue of Lord Hanuman in meditative pose

It is believed that the tank never dries up and the water contains medicinal properties. The water when stored, stays fresh for a long time. Its true. Its more than a month since I have brought the water from the tank and it is still fresh. usually water when kept in a container for more than three or four days does not stay fresh.This water when consumed is believed to cure all diseases even acute cases.This has been proved in the cases of Psoriasis, initial stages of TB, asthma, cancer & joint pains. The experiences of the patients who were cured have been recorded and they stand as testimony to it.

This is where the water from the tank is filled. You can see the monkey.

Entrance to the Temple

Small Temple

The God here is Hanuman-the monkey God. He is in the form of Veera or the valorous. The temple is more than 300 years old. The striking feature of the deity is that it faces towards North , which is a rarity. The first says of the sun, fall on the feet of the Lord. As the day progresses, gradually the sun rays disappear after reaching the head of the lord. It is also believed that the ardent devotees and staunch believers can even hear the 'Omkara Nadam' (Chanting of Om) at midnight amidst silence.

The temple is open for public from 05.30 am to 1.30 pm and 01.30 pm to 9.00 pm. On a full moon day it is open till 11 pm.Full moon Day attracts thousands of pilgrims. It is said that prayers offered at night on a full moon day give immense power, peace and happiness. Garlands made of betel leaves, Marrigolds, and Tulasi(Indian Basil), and other flowers are offered to Lord.

Shops selling the flowers n other offerings including Joss Sticks n Camphor

I offered coconuts as is done usually in the temples. I fed these to the monkeys. You can usually find monkeys near the Hanuman temples, as people treat them as the descendants of Hanuman. So they are fed and pampered. But one has to be very careful as they snatch any eatables or spectacles and can be a menace sometimes.

We sat there for sometime as it was very peaceful and quite. Tough it was very hot and humid we felt at peace. We ate the Prasadam-Laddu and Vada -ie offerings made to Lord.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Indian Elections

It is 16th of April here.The first phase of elections in India start today. India is the largest Democracy with around 700 million voters. The world's biggest democratic polls begins today. 700 million voters, to vote in 5 phases stretching to 28 days across the country is really awesome.We are all excited to cast our votes as well as eager to know who will win and rule us for the next five years. A country so huge with so many diversities is a good example of unity in diversity. Lets wait and watch what happens.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Guests in my garden

Hello friends!

Its very hot here. Summer time is picking up. Time for enjoying watermelons, musk melons, cool cucumbers, tall frosty glasses of Sherbet or Lassi. I will write about sherbets and lassi some other time.

For children it is just pure fun. Schools are closed till mid June. So playtime for them. My four year old niece is visiting us and stays with us till evening. She is just not yet ready to leave her mom n dad at night.

Anyway just the other day, I had two guests in my garden-guess who? Monkeys, two of them. They roamed around in my garden and found the mango tree fully loaded with fruits. One sat at the foot of the tree and started feasting on the ones which were lying on the ground. The other one climbed the tree. After eating their fill they drank water from the tap, cleverly opening it. All the time I was watching them through the doorway. I just had camera handy and started clicking them.

You should forgive me for the poor quality of photographs-one I am not a good photographer even with a digital camera at best of times, tow my niece was literally standing on my toes for catching a glimpse of the monkeys and three the monkeys kept growling at me. So I was ready to take flight at the slightest sign of attack.

I just managed to click some pictures though. Here they are.

Having a feast
Drinking water
Growling at me

I just love animals and hate any cruelty towards them. 

You know Hanuman the monkey God is the most worshiped God in India. We Hindus thus worship birds, animals and trees and even rivers and mountains.

Coming back to the story,I felt so happy that they could enjoy fruits from my garden.

I remember my child hood. When I used to visit my paternal grandma. She used buy a basket full of cucumbers and keep them on the rack. There were no refrigerators at that time. A pack of monkeys would be on the prowl through out the day. One of the little ones used to sneak in through the bars of the window and drag the basket to the window. Then the older ones used to just pick all the contents in a jiffy just before our eyes and before we could even comprehend what was going on.

One more surprising fact was that when any women used to chase them they used to scare them or attack them. But when men used to chase them they used to run like anything. Why this gender bias? Any guesses.
Till next time then......

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Travelogues-Kanipakam

Friends recently I visited some temples in Tirupati area. I would like to share some of my travelogues with you. The main problem when we visit the temples is they don't allow cameras or cell phones inside the temple. So one has to deposit them at the counters before going in. There is always a long queue in front of these counters. So one is forced to keep them in car if we travel by car. Many a time this deters me from taking photographs as one has to walk a long distance to recover the camera and take photographs. Moreover one can only take pictures from outside. So I am afraid there are very few pictures. But I would like share what I have along with the legends associated with the Temples. The first part of the series is....


Hindus worship God in various forms. One of them is Ganesha or Vinayaka-the God with an Elephant face. He is worshiped first before starting any venture or even before offering prayers and rituals to other Gods. Here is one temple of Ganesha:

Sri VaraSidhi Vinayaka Swami

The temple of Sri VaraSidhi Vinayaka Swamy is situated on the banks of River Bahuda in Kanipakam village, 12 kms from Chittoor and 70Kms from Tirupathi. The temple was constructed by King Kulothonga Chola I, belonging to the famous and powerful Chola Dynasty (which ruled South India during the later half of the 9th century till the beginning of the 13th centuries). The temple was later expanded by the Emperors of Vijayanagara in 1336.

This is the tank or Koneru where we wash our hands and feet
before entering the temple
. Every temple has one

The Legend of the Temple

The place was originally known as KaniParkam."Kani" means wetland and "Parkam" means flow of water into wetland. According to the legend of the temple there were three brothers and each one had a handicap. Viz., Dumb, Deaf and Blind. They were farmers, cultivating a small piece of land. In olden days water was drawn from the well by way of 'Piccota System'. As one of them used to irrigate the field through the channels, the other two used to ply on the Piccota. During one such operation they found that the water in the well dried up. One of them climbed down into the well and started digging it up. He was taken aback to see the iron implement hitting a stone like formation. He was shocked to see blood oozing out from it. Within in a few seconds the entire water in the well, turned blood red in colour. Thus, startled by this divine sight, all the three became normal getting rid of their deformities.

The villagers came to know about this miracle and thronged to the well.They tried to deepen the well further. But their attempt proved futile because the 'swayambhu' (the self-manifested) idol of Lord Vinayaka emerged from the swirling waters. Lots of coconuts were offered and the milk from the coconuts covered the entire area. This led to the modification in the usage of the word 'Kaniparakam' and was later pronounced as 'Kanipakam'. Even today the idol is in the original well and the springs of the well are perennial and eternal. During the rainy season, the holy water from the well overflows.The holy water from the well is offered to the devotees as "Theertham".

This is the temple of Kanipkam
This is another view of the temple

Another striking and strange feature of the idol is that it is still growing in size. At present, we can see the knees and the abdomen of the idol. An ardent devotee had offered a 'Kavacham' (Armour) to the Lord, fifty years ago but today it is out of size and doesn't fit the idol.

The Swayambhu idol of Kanipakam known as Sri Varasiddhi Vinayaka is famous as up-holder of 'Truth'. Day to day disputes between people are resolved by taking a 'special oath'. The people in the dispute take a holy dip in the temple tank and swear before the lord. It is taken as gospel truth. There are instances when the person who committed that sin voluntarily agrees as soon as he had the dip and much before entering the temple itself. It seems the Lord lawns invisibly on the sinner and makes him repent & feel guilty for his sinful deeds.Many cases of disputes not solved by courts were stated to have been solved here. The glory of the Lord spread far and wide and the honorable courts uphold the 'special oath' in their judicial pronouncements. That is how he is known as "Pramanala Devudu " or God of Pledges.

The legend of Bahuda River

Long ago there lived two brothers Sankha and Likhita. They were on a pilgrimage to Kanipakam. As the journey was tiring, the younger brother Likhita felt hungry. Spotting a mango grove he plucked a mango in spite of objections from his elder brother not to steal. Sankha felt bad and reported this to the ruler of that area and pleaded for punishment for the sin committed during the pilgrimage. Likhita's both hands were chopped of as punishment.

Later they took bath in the river near Kanipakam temple. Lo Behold! The chopped arms were restored to Likhita as soon as he had a dip in the sacred waters of the river. Thus the river beside Kanipakam temple is now known as 'Bahuda' (Bahu means human arm).

This is the temple elephant used for carrying the Lord (Idol) -all decked up in the processions carried out on festivals and other occasions so that people can have a glimpse of Him. many of the pilgrims visiting the temple, especially children feel that being blessed by an elephant is good.

I had a very good darshan (view) of the God as there were not many people. We offered prayers, some flowers, a garland and the priests lighted some camphor known as Arati, as is done in our temples and offered to God. They blessed us all for good health wealth and happiness. I chated with them to know the legends associated with the temple which I have written above. My mother and brother came along with me.

I would like to have your suggestions and comments and also whether you want to know any thing else about this place. Please feel free to voice your thoughts and queries,

Saturday, April 4, 2009

UGADI-Our New Year Day

Friends recently that is on March 27th I celebrated New Year day. It is celebrated by the people from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The New Year Day is called as UGADI in my mother tongue:Telugu and Kannada, the language spoken in the state of Karnataka and as GUDIPADAVA in Marathi, language spoken in the state of Maharashtra. 

Ugadi is a combination of two words Yuga meaning year and Adi meaning beginning. That is it means the beginning of the year. We follow the Hindu Vedic Calender known as Panchanga which is based on the transit of the moon. We have a sixty year cycle, each year having a name which suggests what is in store for us in the year. This year the name is Virodhi or enmity.

This being the first day in the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated with great enthusiasm and by doing good deeds as it is believed that whatever we do today it is repeated through out the year. 

The main door of the house is adorned with Mango and Neem leaves string known as “thorana”. The base of the threshold is decorated with turmeric and vermilon.

In front of the main door the floor is decorated with beautiful Rangavalli- patterns drawn using white chalk powder and filled in with colours.

We wake up before sunrise to witness the sunrise and take an elaborate bath-first applying oil, then applying body pack using some herbs and chickpea flour . Neem leaves are added to the bath water. After the traditional bath special prayers are offered to our Gods/Goddess. Along with other dishes like rice, curries chutneys, sweets and other savouries specially made on the occasion, we also offer a special dish (chutney) made only on this day. Then first the chutney is eaten.

The special chutney(something like a dip) is made with Neem flowers, jaggery, tamarind pulp, grated raw mango, grated fresh coconut, chillies and salt etc. These are the basic ingredients mixed together to form a thick sauce like or a little bit watery (I prefer this) dish.
Neem flowers, raw mangoes, sugar cane, grapes and bananas

Tamarind pulp and jaggery

Then it is seasoned with asafoetida, mustard seeds etc fried in a little bit of Ghee(clarified butter).Apart from these people add different things like coconut milk, honey, ghee(clarified butter), fruits-banana, peaches, grapes etc and dry fruits like fried cashews, almonds, pistachios,raisins, etc. Recipes differ from family to family and are handed down over generations.

This shloka/verse is chanted at the time of consuming the mixture.
“Shathaayur vajra dehaya sarvasampath karaayacha
Sarvarishtha vinaashaaya nimbakadala bhakshanam”

meaning “consume Neem leaves to attain a healthy body, gain wealth, destroy negativity”.

This chutney contains all the six tastes-sweet, sour, bitter, hot(Chillies) salt etc. This indicates that like the chutney our life is a mixture of all good and difficult moments- laughter and tears. One should not always want only sweet things(Good times) but also welcome sour/bitter(difficult times). Unless one faces adversities in life one cannot know the value of the happier times. Medicinally, since this marks the starting of spring time- transition from winter to summer in order to strengthen our body we eat Neem flowers (for purifying blood and building resistance) jaggery (strength) etc which all give us good health. Similarly all other ingredients have some medicinal properties and help strengthening our immunity system for the summer.

India is a country of villages (was?) basically dependent on agriculture. So all of our festivals are related to agriculture. This is spring time when nature is beautiful and colourful. We get Neem flowers, raw mangoes, sugar cane etc. Mother Nature is at its best with colourful and scented flowers like Jasmine, Chrysanthemum, Hibiscus and other flowers. Cuckoos call out for their mates. It is said that they eat the Neem friut-which is suprisingly sweet not bitter which gives them sweetest voice.

The New Panchangam is worshiped, opened and read for the first time. It tells us how the ensuing year would be for the world, or coutry and 12 Moon Signs of Aries to Pisces. It also tells us which crops would be good, which would fail, which commodities would be cheaper, how much rainfall, eclipses, natural calamities and auspicious times for celebrating marriages etc, remedies to be done for warding off bad times.

All the family members wear new clothes on this day and take the blessings of the elders by touching their feet. Gifts are exchanged. Specially elders give gifts or money to the younger members of the family as blessings. Various dishes are made and a sumptuous feast is served at lunch time. It contains rice, curries, chutneys, curd, rasam, pulusu, lentils, sweet dishes and other special dishes. In the evenings we visit friends, relations and temples. In temples the New Panchangam is read out. Those who do not know how to read it hear out what is in store for them in the year ahead.