Background Guide

Aug 9, 2014

This page has been suggested by my daughter, to give the readers who are totally new to the stories, some idea about the various stories. I begin here with the very old fables of India, Panchatantra.

Now, near about 200 BC, there was a King in Southern India who had three intelligent but happy go lucky sons who were not interested in studies. The worried king consulted his ministers who in turn referred him to a very learned old pundit Vishnu Sharman to teach the boys. The boys had to be taught the essentials needed for a king, not too theoretical, but practical wisdom. Vishnu Sharman agreed to accomplish the task in six months and true to his word, makes the boys worldly wise with his Panchatantara- meaning Five Strategies namely :

Mitra Bheda – Separation of Friends – How good friends can be separated by enemies

Mitra Labha – Gaining of Friends- How new friends having common interest can be gained or how lost friends can be regained

Kakolukiyam – Crows and Owls ( About War and Peace and strategies in them)

Labdhapranasam – Loss of gains- How gains can be lost due to improper planning

Aparikshita Karakam – Rash Deeds – The effect of being imprudent.

Most of the characters in the stories are animals and this made it very interesting for the Princes that they became experts in political and practical wisdom and code of conduct in the stipulated time of six months.

These stories have been carried all over the world and have been translated into Persian and Arabic to name a few languages. The beauty of Panchatantra is that the morals / wisdom taught in the stories  two thousand years ago are still applicable in these modern days. That shows that the basic qualities of human beings have not changed!!

Aug 20, 2014

Tenali Ramakrishna was the court Jester of the great king Krishnadevaraya. He lived in the 16th Century. He was not a mere jester but an accomplished poet who wrote serious works on religion. One of his famous works was Panduranga Mahatmiyam on the Lord Vishnu.
He was one of the Ashtadiggajas (Eight pillars of literature) who adorned the court of the Vijayanagara Empire. Though he was born in Guntur district, he had to move to his uncle’s house at Tenali following his father’s death.
He was very well known for his brilliance and sharp wit and was liked by the Emperor. There are a lot of stories woven around these qualities of sharp wit, wisdom and humour of his and I have given a few of them in this blog. More will come.

 

Oct 16, 2014

‘Nayanar’ or ‘Nayanmars’ as they are referred to are saivite saints, sixty three in number who were apostles of the Bhakti movement in Southern India from the 6th to 8th century. They, along with the twelve ‘Alwars’, the vaishnavite saints, brought about a religious or rather spiritual awakening.

These saints belonged to all castes, including washermen, cobblers and Brahmins and even kings and soldiers, which showed that God is same to all.

The first list of Nayanmars was sung by Sundarar in his literary work Tirutondar Tiruthogai and it had names upto Karaikal Ammayar, sixty of them.

The list was later expanded by Nambi yandar Nambi, who was a saivite scholar in the court of Raja Raja Chola in the eleventh century. Nambi added Sundarar and his parents to the earlier list making the number sixty three.

In fact Nambiyandar Nambi was instrumental in reviving the scripts of the hymns written on leaves and stowed away in a secret place at Chidambaram. Of course a lot of them had been eaten away by termites and one tenth of the original works was revived.

Following Nambi, in the next century, the life histories of the sixty three saints was written by Sekkizhar, another poet in the court of Kulothunga Chola II. This was named Periyapuranam.

The hymns of the saints were classified into eleven sections called Tirumurais and later on Periyapuranam was added by the Saivite scholars as the twelfth Tirumurai due to its excellence.

Some of the stories of Nayanmars are already there in the blog and you will see more.

 

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