Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Maharaja The Great Rod Piercer Of Mumbai

Maharaja is a veteran a very famous disciple of Goddess Marriammen he helps the in the piercings of the cheeks of the disciples of Marriammen at Juhu during the Marriammen feast of Nehru Nagar .

A very humble god fearing man I treat him like my guru and thanks to all these people I have been fortunate enough to shoot the rituals of their culture and share it with all of you..

Davendar Bhima , Raja , Shanmugham  Ganesh are some of the famous rod piercers of the Marriammen feast in MUmbai.

Hooked To Faith And Goddess Marriammen

Devotion to Mariamman

Doctrines India has always been a land of villages and in the context of village life the most important and powerful divine presence is the gramadevata, a deity identified with the village. A village may have several gramadevatas, each with its own function. Village deities are more numerous than Indian villages, though some are known throughout a region and one of these is the goddess Mariamman (Also called Mari, Mariamma, Maryamman. In the Puranas she is known as Marika.) who has devotees all over South India.
The village belongs to the goddess. Theologically she was there before the village and in fact she created it. Sometimes she is represented only by a head on the soil, indicating her body is the village and she is rooted in the soil of the village. The villagers live inside or upon the body of the goddess. The goddess protects the village and is the guardian of the village boundaries. Outside the village there is no protection from the goddess. The village is a complete cosmos and the central divine power of the village is the goddess. The relationship between the village and the goddess is primarily for the village as a whole and not for individuals. Mari can mean sakti, power, and amman is mother, so she is the mother-power of the village.
However, this relationship is not a simple one. In some places, Mariamman is invoked three times a year to regenerate village soil and protect the community against disease and death. Other places may have an important Mariamman festival. Mariamman is not a peaceful and benign goddess. She can be vindictive, inexorable, and difficult to propitiate. Essentially she is a personification of the world's natural forces, but specifically she is a goddess of smallpox, chickenpox, and other diseases. Her role is ambivalent for she both inflicts the diseases and protects the village from them. The onset of disease or disaster causes special worship or a festival of the goddess, for they are caused by demons let in because the goddess's defences have broken down or because the goddess is angry at being neglected. Mariamman reminds people that their ordered world can be shattered at any time and worshipping her makes one's view of reality less fragile. When the villagers are afflicted, so is the goddess invaded by demons. The villagers and the goddess are suffering the invasion of the village together and that is why one can say that the goddess causes the epidemic. The goddess suffers most but cannot contain it all and spreads it to the villagers, who help her deal with it. Mariamman is especially favourable at this time to those suffering from the disease, for they are helping her bear the burden of the demonic attack.
Blood offerings of animals are commonly sacrificed at festivals of Mariamman, but this is not invariably the case. Whitehead in his classic study The Village Gods of South India (1921) found at the village of Vandipaliam in Cuddalore district that at an annual festival of ten days to Mariamman no animal sacrifices were ever offered or on any other occasion at the shrine. At Shiyali in Tanjore district during the sacrifices of animals to other gods at the festival (of all the village gods) a curtain is drawn in front of Mariamman.
History One story about the origin of Mariamman is she was the wife of Tirunalluvar, the Tamil poet, who was a pariah, outcaste. She caught smallpox and begged from house to house for food, fanning herself with leaves of the nim or margosa tree to keep the flies off her sores. She recovered and people worshipped her as the goddess of smallpox. To keep smallpox away they hang nim leaves above the doors of their houses.
Another story involves the beautiful virtuous Nagavali, wife of Piruhu, one of the Nine Rishis. One day the Rishi was away and the Trimurti (an image with three heads representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) came to see if her famed beauty and virtue was true. Nagavali did not know them and, resenting their intrusion, turned them into little children. The gods were offended and cursed her, so her beauty faded and her face became marked like smallpox. The Rishi returned, found her disfigured, and drove her away, declaring she would be born a demon in the next world and cause the spread of a disease which would make people like herself. She was called Mari, meaning 'changed.' Both stories are reported by Whitehead and he remarks that in Mysore he was told that Mari meant sakti, power.
Mariamman is an ancient goddess, whose worship probably originated in the tribal religion of Dravidian India before the arrival of the Aryans and the brahman religion. According to tradition, among the Dravidian mountain tribes as in Coorg in southern Karnataka, human sacrifices were offered to Mariamman. These were replaced with animals and as we have seen, in some villages no animal sacrifices are offered. Here we can see a historical gradation.
Local goddesses such as Mariamman who protect villages and their lands and represent the different castes of their worshippers have always been an important part of the religious landscape of South India. However, we can note periods of special significance. The eclecticism of the Vijayanagar period (1336-1565) encouraged folk religion, which became more important and influenced the more literate forms of religion. In the last century and a half there has been a rebirth of Tamil self-consciousness (see Devotion to Murukan). In the middle of the present century deities such as Mariamman have become linked to the "great tradition" as the strata of society which worship the goddess has become integrated into the larger social order.
Symbols At the centre and source of the village is a boddhu-rayee, navel stone, with which the goddess is associated. As mentioned in doctrines, the goddess may be represented by only a head on the ground, as her body is the village. To protect the village, shrines and symbols of the goddess are often placed at the boundaries of the village. These symbols are usually simple, rough, unhewn stones, five or six inches high and blackened with anointing oil, or there may be a stone pillar. If there are shrines these will often be crude simple structures.
Mariamman's colour is yellow and sometimes a stone is adorned with a yellow dress, only a small part of bare stone emerging at the top. Sometimes there is only a spear or trident thrust in the ground in place of the goddess-stones. In larger villages a slab of stone may be carved with a rough figure of a woman, who may have four, six, or eight arms, or none at all, and the arms hold various implements such as a knife, a shield, a drum, a bell, a devil's head, and a three-pronged fork. It is common to have a fixed stone image in the shrine and to use a small portable metal image in processions. Mariamman can be represented as riding naked on an ass with a winnow on her head and a broom and water-pot in her hands. Sometimes there is no image and the goddess is represented by a brass pot of water decorated with nim leaves. The nim tree is sacred to Mariamman. In poor villages an earthenware pot is used.
During the ceremonies of the goddess there is a symbolic marriage. Although the goddess is sometimes said to have a consort, she is really married to the village, so the goddess and village can nourish each other.
A blood sacrifice at her festival can appease the goddess to withdraw her anger symbolised as the heat of disease or it can symbolise the defeat of the invading demon. Traditionally a buffalo was offered. After it was beheaded, its leg was thrust into its mouth, fat from the stomach was smeared in its eyes, and a candle was lit on its head. It was then presented to the goddess. This humiliation of the victim symbolises the defeat of an enemy, the demon who causes the epidemic or disaster.
Village festivals are filled with symbolism. At a festival in Karnataka, the Mariamman image is first painted in bright colours and put in a shelter of nim leaves and a sheep sacrificed to placate the goddess. Then a he-buffalo is sacrificed by untouchables and the head put in a pit before Mariamman. The blood and parts of the buffalo are mixed with rice and put in a large basket. This is caraga and it is carried in procession by untouchables followed by other villagers carrying sickles and weapons to guard it. At other shrines sheep are sacrificed and mixed with the caraga, which is then sprinkled on the fields and along the boundaries of the village, thus regenerating the soil and protecting the village. Even vegetarian farmers believe that the soil needs blood and if it is not given then human lives will be taken.
Festivals without animal sacrifice may offer boiled rice, fruit, flowers, cakes and sugar, and incense and camphor are burnt. There is Abishegam, ceremonial washing of the image twice a day, with water, oil, milk, coconut milk, turmeric, rose water, sandalwood, honey, sugar, limes, and a solution of the bark of certain trees, separately in a regular order. The image of the goddess is carried twice a day on the shoulders of devotees around the village and there may be a car procession one day. Under brahmanical influence, the image can be towed around a tank.
At many festivals an important role is played by a Matangi, a low caste woman who is unmarried and holds the office for life. She is a living symbol of the goddess and becomes possessed by the goddess, dancing wildly, using obscene language, spitting at devotees, and pushing people around with her backside. The festival reverses social norms and the Matangi's behaviour, which would ordinarily be highly polluting, is purifying and people seek out her spit and insults.
Adherents Millions of villagers across South India worship Mariamman, especially in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Mariamman is one of the deities worshipped in almost every Tamil village. Nearly all members of a village participate in the goddess's festival, even brahmans and Muslims. The different castes to some extent mix freely. This is not the case in daily life. The ritual topography of a village in Karnataka, for example, has an inner village inhabited by the purest castes and the rest live outside this. The shrines of the goddess would be in the outside part of the village. The oldest, largest, and most important Hindu temple in Singapore is the Mariamman Temple, which was established early in the nineteenth century.
Pilgrims at a Mariamman festival wear mostly yellow, the colour of the goddess. Some men dress as tigers and other animals. Pilgrims may come because of a specific fear or debt or because one of their family has a disease associated with the goddess or they themselves have recovered from the disease. Particular castes are associated with Mariamman, such as fishermen and builders on the coast of Tamil Nadu. Pilgrims fast before the festival and bring offerings, such as money in a propitious amount, say one hundred and one rupees. Some pilgrims have made vows to Mariamman to walk on fire, carry burning pots on their heads, or perform covadi, when they swing suspended on hooks through their flesh.
Main Centre There is no one main centre for Mariamman.



This Year I Did Not Shoot The Animal Sacrifice At Nehru Nagar Juhu

I was in the train arriving from Ajmer ,on  May the day of the Marriammen Feast ..

The sacrifice to appease Goddess Marriammen begins at the entrance of her Temple at Juhu Nehru Nagar and is a bloody affair as a a large number of goats are sacrificed by her followers ..

This goes on till afternoon and in the evening the followers devotees assemble at Juhu Beach where their cheeks are pierced with rods and some insert hooks in the back and pull cars trucks etc..or they are hung from pulleys of moving cranes .

In the picture the butcher is Ganesh and assisting him on the right is my friend Davendar Bhima .

I shot the evening piercing rituals as my train reached Bandra Terminus at  4 pm.

The Unique Tamils of Mumbai

Religious Traditions of the Tamils
Prof. A. Veluppillai
1. Introduction.

The Tamils can be defined as people, having Tamil as their mother tongue. Tamil language is a member of the Dravidian/ South Indian family of languages. The four southernmost states of India- tamiz Nadu, kERaLa, karNAdaka, and Andra Pradesh- are predominantly linguistically Dravidian, each state carved out on the basis of predominance of the four major Dravidian languages. The Dravidian languages are mother tongues of about a quarter of the Indian population. Though about 80% of the speakers are found within the borders of these four South Indian states, a number of Dravidian languages have been identified in other parts of South Asia. Among the tribal languages of Central India, almost extending to the borders of Bengal, distinct from the Austro-Asiatic family of languages, many Dravidian languages have been identified. The northern reaches of this family have been located in isolated settlements in Nepal and Pakistan. The Brahui speakers are found in the hills of Baluchistan, almost on the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. So, the Dravidian family of languages is a South Asian family of languages in one sense. About 22 languages are classified as belonging to the Dravidian family and on linguisic criteria, sub-division as North, Central and South Dravidian are made. Tamils alone number about 60 million people.

South India and Sri Lanka have been homelands of the Tamils, from the beginning of recorded history. The region, roughly covered by the modern states of tamiz NAdu and Kerala are identified as ancient tamizakam up to about 10th century AD. Even though some evidence exists for Tamil influence , and Tamil presence in Sri Lanka is noticeable from very early times, strong Tamil presence and influence in Sri Lanka, from about the 10th century. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Tamils migrated to some British colonies in search of employment and thus there are substantial Tamil populations in Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius, Fiji and South Africa. After the World War II, a movement of Tamil professionals to UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand is proceeding continuously. Due to the recent civil war type situation in Sri Lanka, many thousands of Tamils in about 20 countries, with large numbers in Canada, Germany, France, and Switzerland. Within the Nordic countries, Norway and Denmark have more Tamils than Sweden.

2. Present Situation regarding religious affiliations of the Tamils.
Hinduism, Christianity and Islam are the major religions among the Tamils in that order: Hindus are counted as forming more than 80% of the population and the other religions are reckoned to be less than 20% of the population. Some of the other religions like Jainism, Buddhism have relatively few adherents. The Tamil Christians include both Roman Catholics as well as the Protestants. The Muslims are mainly Sunni. The situation is fairly stable, only Christian missions, said to be marginally successful in making new converts. The general atmosphere is religious toleration and harmony.

The official policy of India is secularism,,,. Overall, Hinduism is neither a missionary nor an exclusive religion. To put it in a negative way, the Hindus withdraw into themselves and don't react except when they feel threatened. Many scholars have commented on the tolerant attitude of the Hindus. Some recent developments in India challenges this view. But tamiz Nadu and the Tamils, generally keep up the Tamil tradition of tolerance, There is no Hindu extremism worth mentioning among the Tamils. No serious claim is put forward that Hinduism should have special privileges, compared to other religions.

3. The Dravidian Hypothesis about the people of the Indus valley Civilization.

The Tamils have legends that their ancient history extends up to about ten thousand years, sea swallowing up their lands twice and kings establishing new capitals and fostering Tamil in three successive academies. The legend is first mentioned in the commentary of kaLavijal, which is assigned to about 8th century AD. This legend is one of the reasons- one of the excuses- for connecting up the Tamil civilization with some prehistoric ancient civilizations, whose identity and continuity poses special problems.

The records of the Indus Valley Civilization have not been satisfactorily deciphered. Material remains have been interpreted by archeologists. There cannot be finality, till a satisfactory reading of the records. Material remains are generally interpreted in the light of elements in the later Hinduism. Siva worship in the form of pacupati and NadaRajA, Sakti worship and some other deductions are made. In the 1950s, Father Heras argued for the Dravidian identity of the Indus Valley people. In the 1960s, the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies issued many announcements, trying to establish this identity. This hypothesis is still defended seriously by Japanese Professor Noboru Karashima, President of the International Association for Tamil Research in 1994.

4. The Dravidian Identity of the Sumerians.

This is another hypothesis that is strongly advocated by certain scholars. The Sumerian records have been deciphered and material remains have been interpreted satisfactorily. Linguistic and cultural affinities between the Sumerians and the Tamils, separated by much more than a millennia, are pointed out. The late Professor A. catAcivam (A.Sathasivam) from Sri Lanka and Dr. ulakaNAtan muttarAjan (Loganathan Muttarayan) from Malaysia are examples. Eminent historians of the caliber of K.A. Nilakanda cAttiri (Nilakantta Sastri), have pointed out similarities in temple worship. A hypothesis, connecting the ancestors of the Dravidians, if not the Tamils. to the Mediterranean area, is still advocated by certain scholars.

5. A study based on the historical times.

Literary, epigraphical and archeological sources existt for the study of religious traditions of the Tamils for about 2000 years. As materials exist for such a long period of time, it is only fitting that we pay just passing attention to doubtful prehistoric connections and concentrate on the historical period. Tamil is one of the two classical languages of India, along with Sanskrit. There are Tamil literary texts and Tamil inscriptions, dated roughly, round about the beginning of the Christian era. As in most of ancient and medieval Indian texts, controversies exist on the exact dates of early Tamil records and documents. We have to be dependent on rough calculations and the most probable dates. Some distinct historical periods: (1) 100 B.C to 300 A.D.; (2) 300 A.D. to 600 A.D.; (3) 600 A.D. to 1200 A.D.; (4) 1200 A.D. to 1800 A.D.; and (5) 1800 A.D. to today.

5.1 cangkam (Academy) period.

The general designation for the early period is cangkam period, because of the strong tradition that three academies existed in the remote past and that what we get as early literary texts were those approved by those academies. The main source for the early period is literary evidence. From a study of the literary evidence, some scholars argue that the Tamil society was secular then. It is only a relative term in the sense that when compared to early North Indian literature and later Tamil literature, a distinctiveness of relative secularism can be pointed out.

Some indigenous elements of religion, peculiar to the Tamils, have been noticed in the earliest available stratum of Tamil literature. A portion of this early Tamil poetry is identified as Heroic poetry. There were three Tamil Kingdoms - cEra, cOLa and pAnhdija - and many independent chieftaincies in the early period and there were intermittent and internecine wars and battles for violent state formation. maRam (valour) was the celebrated theme.

5.1.1. Nadukal (planted stone).

The worship for the fallen brave warriors is one of the popular forms of worship in early Tamil poetry. tolkAppijam gives an elaborate description in six stages in the planting of stone, beginning with looking for a suitable stone and ending in the institution of formal worship. The portrait of the hero is often decorated with peacock feathers. Some poems refer to spears and shields erected around the planted stones. Offering of Naravam (toddy = alcohol) to the spirit of the fallen hero, represented in the planted stone, is mentioned in some verses.

5.1.2. veRijAdal (dance in ecstasy).

The dance in ecstasy is found mainly in the worship of murukan/muruku (youth, beauty, god-head). He was the god of the hilly region. The name of god or archetype was different in each landscape among the five different landscapes of the Tamil land. mAjOn (dark male)/ mAl (great one) was the god of the forest or pastoral landscape. koRRavy (lady of victory) was the goddess of ferocious appearance for the arid or waste land. vEl (spear) was the main weapon of murukan. He is a warrior-hero par excellence, but is often mentioned in akam (love) poetry, the other main theme of the earliest stratum of Tamil literature. Love-sickness of young girls in separation from their lovers seem to be generally interpreted as caused by murukan who needs propitiation in worship. The organizer and chief priest of the worship was vElan (man with spear). A number of verses refer to the sacrifice of the blood of ram and offering of toddy in the ritual. The veRijAdal occurred in koRRavy worship also, Later, murukan was considered son of koRRavy. A group dance of girls, known as kuravyjAdal, is also associated with murukan worship. Some elements of ecstasy were also involved in this dance. This dance occurred in mAjOn worship also. murukan has continued to be very popular among the Tamils and he is frequently hailed as the Tamil god. Kamil Zvelebil had chosen to name his first volume on Tamil literature, as The smile of murukan.
5.1.3. cinyc cuRAvin kOdu (pregnant Shark bone).

A solitary verse mentions this worship in the littoral region. On full moon day, fishermen and families get drunk and worship. This may be the peculiar worship of Nejtal, (littoral) landscape.

5.1.4. kanhdu (post, stone.)

This worship is often mentioned in connection with manRu (public meeting place). Lighting of lamps by women is specifically referred to in some verses. Floor of the manRu was smeared with cow-dung.

5.1.5. Influence of North Indian religious traditions.

Jaina monks lived in hills around maturai, the capittal of the pAnhdijAs and in a few other places. Early Tamil Brahmi inscriptions of round about the beginning of the Christian era, testify to this. Some kings and chieftains were responsive to Brahmins and Vedic sacrifices. Many instances can be quoted to show that beliefs in the existence of the ujir (soul), maRu piRappu (rebirth) and vAnOr ulaku (world of celestial beings) existed among the Tamils even in that early period.

5.2. Post-cangkam Period 300 A.D. to 600 A.D.

Politically in this period, the Tamils were under foreign kalabhra domination. Their political history is characterized by many historians as a dark period. Buddhism and Jainism appear to have prospered during this period. Some notable literary works are assigned to this period. The early Tamil kAppijangkaL, (epics) are assigned to this age, as for examples, cilappatikAram, a Jaina epic and manhimEkaly, a Buddhist epic. aRam, the equivalent of Sanskrit dharma , becomes the main theme of literary works. Eleven didactic works were written in this period. Their main purpose seems to be reformation of the society - bringing back values which were reversed during the Heroic Age.

tirukkuRaL the most outstanding work in Tamil, belongs to this period. This sets the tone of didactic works. According to Albert Schweitzer's evaluation in his book, Indian Thoughts and its Development, tirukkuRaL represents a synthesis of much of the best in Indian thought up to that time with a positive approach to life. The positive approach to life , also called life-affirmation, seems to owe its influence to the literary traditions of the Academy period. varnAcirama dharma, the central concept of the Brahminical religion, prescribing different rules for the four-fold castes and for the four stages of human life, has not even been mentioned in this work. This work is of universal appeal. The Tamil society never had the varnha system. There was no cattiryjAs, and the vycijAs. The ruling kings and their ancestors, were sometimes eulogized and flattered as the cattirijAs, but there was no consequent development from this position. The non-Brahmin high caste Tamils resented the term - cUttirAs, the name of the fourth caste. So, what we get in the Tamil works, equivalent to the Sanskrit dharmasastras, is sAmAnija dharma applicable to every human being. Religious affiliation of the author is not known.

ThiruvaLLuvar, the author, has kept himself clear of external trappings of different religions. The Hindus, the Jains, and the Buddhists have claimed this work as their own. Many Christian missionaries and British administrators have praised this work, even tracing Christian influence in the work. This work, consisting of 1330 verses, has been translated into many languages. Other didactic works, follow the lead by tirukkuRaL. The authors are identified as Jaina or Brahminical, mainly by their invocation verses. Otherwise, there are no deep differences in the contents of these works. NAladijAr the second most important work with 400 verses, ascribed to Jaina authorship and with a noticeable slant to life-negation, had been translated into English by G.U. Pope almost a century ago. tirukkuRaL and NAladijAr can be said to constitute the ethical core of the religious traditions of the Tamils. It is important to note here that varnAcirama dharma had not been brought into Tamil literature. Though the Tamils also developed an evil and pernicious caste system, in certain respects, quite distinct from the varnha system, in subsequent periods, that system had no sanction either in Tamil or in Sanskrit texts.

5.3. Bhakti Period 600 A.D. to 1200 A. D.

The Tamils were under the Pallava and the pAnhdija kingdoms during the earlier half of this period and under the cOLa Empire during the latter half of the same. The Tamil power reached its zenith under the cOLa Empire, which also ruled many non- Tamil communities in South India and Sri Lanka. In the history of religion and literature, this period is referred to as the bhakti period. Bhakti is a Sanskrit word, meaning devotion. This Sanskrit word and the Tamilicised form patti became popular quite late. The bhaktti poetry seems to be a curious transformation of literary traditions of the Academy period. Both akam tradition, dealing with love between man and woman and puRam tradition, dealing with heroism and generosity of warriors are combined in a strange manner and the position of man as well as hero goes to god, while the position of woman and hero-worshipper go to the devotee.
A. K. Ramanujan has recently brought out a good translation into English of some of these early poems. Though the origins of the concept of bhakti are traceable in Sanskrit sources, bhakti movement as such originated in the Tamil land. Personal relationship between the devotee and the god was its main characteristic, and worship became a fervent personal experience in response to divine grace. Religion for the devotees is no longer a matter of contemplation of a transcendent, impersonal absolute, but of ecstatic response to an intensely personal experience. This leads to a profound sense of the devotees own shortcomings and to a trustful recourse to the gods forgiveness, with the whole personality being surrendered to the deity. It is this position which inspired the scholar - missionary G. U. Pope's evaluation - which seems to be somewhat superficial - of this religion as the religion, closest to Christianity, among Indian religions. Norman Cutler has worked on the poetics of Tamil devotion.

The vedic religion - the Brahminical religion - becomes a popular religion of the Tamils, through the bhakti movement. The Sanskrit sources contributed another important element for this religion. This religion owes a massive debt to the Sanskrit purAnhAs and epics. The temple rituals, prescribed in the Sanskrit AkamAs, became very important. From the very beginning, sectarian differences are noticeable, may be because of the influence of purAnhAs. Saiva and Vaishnava movements were presented to the Tamil people as Tamil religions This was made possible by religious synchronism. murukan becomes identified with Skanda and kArttikEja and related to Siva as a son, koRRavy becomes identified with umA, Siva's consort and as murukans mother, and mAjOn becomes identified with Vishnu. Saivism is the form of Hinduism, very popular among the Tamils.

The Saiva movement was relatively more involved in religious conflicts and controversies. Saint Appar, a convert from Jainism to Saivism, converted the Pallava ruler from Jainism to Saivism. His poetry seems to be a strange mixture of Jaina world-view and Siva bhakti. Even though he expresses his regret for having wasted much of his life as a Jaina monk, his poetry seems to be a form of synchronism between Jainism and Saivism. The Jaina world-view and Jaina didactic works become acceptable to the Saivites. Saint Campanthar, a younger contemporary of saint Appar, converted the pAnhdija ruler from Jainism to Saivism.. He defeated the Buddhists in another controversy. As a Brahmin, he was a champion of Vedic religion against the Jains and the Buddhists. There are plenty of polemical references about the Jains and the Buddhists in his bhakti poetry. Saint Manikkavasagar was also said to have defeated the Lankan Buddhists in a controversy, but there is no trace of polemics in his compositions.

For about a millennium, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism were the three important religions among the Tamils. The triangular contest for the loyalty of the Tamils led to the growth of polemical literature to which adherents of all religions contributed. The Buddhist contribution is seen in the manhimEkaly and the kunhdalakEci, the Jaina contribution in the NIlakEci and the Saiva contribution in the civagnAnacittijAr. But overall, conflicts are rare, especially after Hinduism consolidated its position. The Saiva or Vaishnava rulers, were generally generous to all the Hindus, irrespective of their personal inclinations and also patronized the Jaina and Buddhist religious establishments of their subjects.

A very important text for Tamil Saivism is the periya purAnham, the Saiva hagiology of 63 NajanmAr, (saint lords), all of whom lived in South India and attained heaven through their bhakti to Siva. This work influenced vIra Saivism of Karnataka. Saint Manikkavasagar's devotional poems are acknowledged as the most moving in Tamil literature. G. U. Pope brought a translation of the tiruvAcakam into English. almost a century ago. Glenn Yocum has published a study of tiruvAcakam recently. The devotional poems of Saint cuNtarar, numbering about a tthousand verses, had been translated by David Shulman recently. The Twelve Sacred Books of the Tamil Saivas were complete in the 12th century A.D. For the vast majority of the Tamil Saivites, the basic works of their religion are these Twelve Sacred Books. They don't look to any Sanskrit work for guidance.

The Vaishnava bhakti movement was dominated by twelve AzvArs - those who contemplate deeply on Vishnu. They were authors of tivvijapirapaNtam (sacred composition) of four thousand verses. Compared to the saiva devotional poems, the Vaishnava devotional poems make greater use of akam tradition and less of puRam tradition of the classical period. Friedhelm Hardy had brought out a fine publication recently on the history of this movement. Some important saints are AdAL, kulacEkarar, tirumangky and NammAzvAr. The works of the last one are very important and are sometimes referred to as Tamil Vedas. Though less influential in Tamil land, the Vaishnavite bhakti movement exerted great influence throughout India, during the later periods.

The temple worship seems to be a prominent feature from the beginning of the bhakti movement. Temples, built of durable material, first rock-cut and then made of stone, made their appearance from the 8th century. Huge stone temples were built by the cOLa Emperors and their successors throughout tamizNAdu. The temples became the centres, around which many aspects of life of the people were organized. Architects and sculptors were needed in the construction activities. Music, dance, and drama were patronized by the Hindu temples. These temples were generally rich, having been owners of land other forms of wealthy. They employed people and helped them in times of distress. The big temples are still great pilgrim centres to which the Tamil Hindus from all over the world yearn to visit. Most of the big temples in tamiz Nadu have myths of their own. David Shulman has made an interpretation of these myths recently. The big temples are the main attraction for the modern tourists in tamiz NAdu.

5.4. Age of Religious Philosophy. 1200-1800 AD.

The beginnings of philosophical speculations in India are traced to the Upanishads, which originated in North India and which are in Sanskrit. Buddhism dominated the philosophical field for many centuries and South India began to make significant contributions. The definitely identifiable contribution from tamizNAdu can be said to start from the 8th century A.D. Many religious philosophical doctrines of South Indian origin have been written in Sanskrit, may be because that language was the lingua-franca throughout the South Asian sub-continent in that age. In the eighth century, Sanskrit the propounder of Advita (monoism) hailed from Kerala, a part of ancient Tamil land. His Vedanta philosophy assimilated much of the world-view of the Buddhists and gave it a new twist. He is said to have toured throughout the sub-continent and engaged in debates with the Buddhists. What he had taken over from Buddhism is said to have helped him to win over large number of adherents of Buddhism which was already in decay in India at that time.

In the eleventh-twelfth centuries, Ramanuja, the propounder of (Visistadvita-qalified monoism) hailed from the present tamizNAdu. He was strongly influenced by the Vaishnava bhakti literature, based on the Puranic religion. He was better received in Karnataka than in tamiz Nadu. Ramanuja wrote in Sanskrit, so his impact among the Tamils is relatively limited. The history of Vaishnavism in tamizNAdu becomes a little complicated as the later Vijayanagar Emperors and the Nayak kings who were mainly Telugu origin gave it sustenance. They patronized Sanskrit and gave importance to Sanskrit sources. Soon, there was a schism in tamizNAdu Vaishnavism into vadakaly, (northern school) and tenkaly, (southern school) sects. The southern school, looks mainly to the Tamil Vaishnava texts for inspiration.

The thirteenth and the fourteenth centuries saw the appearance of the fourteen works of Saiva Siddhanta philosophy in Tamil.The basic Tamil work is civagnanapOtam. There is still a big controversy on whether this work is a translation of twelve aphorisms from an obscure or unattested portion of (Rauravagama). Saiva Siddhanta is a South Indian religion, found among the Tamils only. Besides the canonical fourteen works, there are subsidiary works and commentaries in Tamil only. Agamas are accorded a special status while the Vedas only a general status as basic works to the philosophy. The importance given to the Agamas makes South Indian Saivism, a distinctive form of Hinduism, in some respects. The Tamils try to derive the basic framework of the system from their own Twelve Sacred Books.

The development of many philosophical schools led to development of sectarian conflicts and later attempts to patch them up, especially by mystic poets like Saint tAjumAnavar in the 18th century and Saint IrAmalingkar in the 19th century. camaracam, (harmony) becomes the main theme. The former praises the CLEVER cittar, (poets of powers) who found harmony between Vedanta and Siddhanta. The latter founded cutta camaraca canmArkka cangkam, a Society for Religious Wisdom of Pure Harmony.

5.5. Modern Period.

Islam and Christianity are important minority religions in this period. Islam came to Tamils in two ways. Arab traders intermarried with local people and built up a community, who now speak Tamil or Malayalam. Muslim invaders from the North had temporary success in the South and their descendants speak Urdu. As in Vaishnavism, there is some split in the attitude of the Muslims towards Tamil. Many of them are proud to claim Tamil as their language and they have made substantial contributions to the development of Tamil for more than six hundred years.

The Syrian Christian community, in the West coast, claims that they were the descendants of native converts of the Apostle Saint Thomas, from the first century A.D. They have preserved some copper plates, which according to them, were received by Saint Thomas from native rulers of his time. Modern epigraphists have dated the these plates in the ninth and the thirteenth centuries. It is now clear that this community is enjoying certain privileges in Kerala at least from the 9th century. Like the Christian trading community, a small Jewish trading community also in the West coast, gained privileges from the native Hindu rulers in the 10th century, as testified by a copper plate in the possession of their descendants. Roman Catholicism was introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Protestantism was introduced by the Dutch in the 17th century. The British ruled over the entire Tamil homeland for 11/2 centuries - roughly from 1800 to 1950. Westernization and Modernization are going on, especially from the beginning of British rule and they are powerful forces even now. Christian missionaries have been very active and have considerable success in proselytisation. There was again Tamil polemical literature, reflecting a triangular contest among the Hindus, the Roman Catholics and the Protestants, especially between 1850 and 1925.

As for Jainism and Buddhism, the former continues to flicker, while the latter disappeared completely and has taken a new birth recently. Its rebirth is as a religion of protest, as a religion of the down-trodden. The people who became underprivileged and untouchable in the Hindu society felt that even Islam and Christianity could not bring them salvation and chose to accept Buddhism, on the advice of the late Dr. Ambedkar, their leader. Only a section of the underprivileged community called Dalits in India became converts. Their problem of integration into the rest of the population cries for solution.

The appeals to fundamentals of Brahminical Hinduism, as it is understood in North India, do not seem to have its echo among Tamils, because of the character of Hinduism in tamizNAdu. A few months ago, Prof. Saraswathy Vijayavenugopal, a folklorist from Madurai University in South India, in a lecture in Uppsala, made the observation that there seem to be many folk religions among the Hindu Tamils. Synchronization - continuing synchronism of different religions - seems to be a living process within what is called Hinduism among Tamils. The influence of political Hinduism, exemplified by Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishva Hindu Parishad, which champion Brahminical values, is negligible among Tamils.
The last half century in tamizNAdu is dominated by a powerful socio-political Dravidian movement, against North Indian influences, including Sanskrit and Hindi domination, but particularly Brahmin domination and oppression. among the Tamils in South India. Though the movement is split into many political groups. of which two are the two dominant political parties of tamizNAdu, there are still no indications that parties which don't subscribe to the ideology of the Dravidian movement can make headway in tamizNAdu. A small Brahmin community at the top is very vulnerable. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Jains find comfort in identifying themselves with the vast majority of the Hindus in the Dravidian movement. A kind of secularism is fostered as the ideology of the movement. tirukkuRaL is held up as the embodiment of Tamil Culture. The classical Cangkam period literature is idealised as the literature of the Golden Age of the Tamils.

article kind courtesy


The Muslim Beggar Woman

If you could only for a moment try to understand the faceless dilemma of pain
what all she has to do grovel beg invoke
make two ends meet sustain ..
as hunger of her kids calls out again
fallen angel of hope ..to her doomed
destiny of abject shame enchained
did she ever dream as a child this
would be her tryst as images of her
birth childhood womanhood like
moving  projected frames in her brain
as she sits now seized by sorrow
in a hot humid bandra bylane .

forced by circumstances to become
a beggar .. a beggar must she remain
who will release her from the captivity
of these heavy corroded chains ...

The Muslim Beggar Woman

I take you back to my world of Muslim beggars , but amazingly I hardly see Muslim beggars , these were shot a few years back .

The Beggars like Jaffar Bhai are missing , the blind beggar boy is missing only his guardian begs where they both once sat..

Appu my friend I have not seen since a very long time he is just a stump without hands or legs.

Nowadays I am trying to get the hang of shooting my backyard through my mobile phone Motorola G.

The heat in Mumbai is totally undeservedly unbearable ..if I got out I come home shower as I am drenched to the bone in sweat ..my grandkids are on their summer vacation so I have become a lonely old man.

Over all the Muslims in the slums are happy with the change and are eagerly waiting for change to touch their lives too, I was in the Bandra Compound slums and the living conditions are abjectly pathetic..

I wont hesitate in saying that the Muslim slumdwellers have been at the mercy of the politician landshark nexus ,and being used for their own nefarious ends .

The slumdwellers have no choice the ruling satraps have just done cosmetic allurements , paver blocks repairing the community toilets but on the face of it they are where they are .

Many years back almost 58 years back I think my parents lived close to a Hindu crematorium in Kurla , and when my mother talked about those days it would bring tears to my eyes , I was born in Lucknow but my mother came to Mumbai when I was a year old and she was fifteen something.

My dad late Mohomed Shakir eased his wife and child from the Kurla slums to a tenanted place of  veteran actor Nawab Kashmiri at  Wodehouse Road  and those were the acche din of our family ,, good upbringing good schooling and than we shifted to Neelam Building at Breach Candy and finally to Mohini Mamsions Stand Cinema .

I left Colaba and made Bandra my home and the home for my children their children.

So Bandra means a lot to me and seeing it perishing away in the slums , hurts all the more.

So I hope Good Days touch all of us beyond our different  political cultural diversities , as we are bound by our love for our country and our Indianness .

And I hope young leaders like Mr Aditya Thackeray whom I admire and respect one day become our hope too.. he is suave cultured and would make a great Minister of Youth Affairs in the Modi cabinet .. I hope it happens soon.